I started writing a murder mystery some time ago, this is the next instalment.
See here for the previous story in the chain.
If you want to read this story from the beginning click on this link:
Youth must have its Fling
The Doorbell rang and Audrey Patterson was expecting her friend, Sir Alfred Thorpe for afternoon tea.
Alice came in looking a bit flustered. There was a pink flush to her cheeks.
“Mam, A young man wishes to speak to you. He wanted to come right in but I made him wait in the front porch. He said he was your nephew?”
“Charles? He’s my Great-Nephew actually. Of course, you wouldn’t have seen him, but I often invite him around when I have parties and things, he livens things up considerably. Show him in Alice” Audrey said. She gathered her shawl around her, almost like donning armour. He may be her Great Nephew but he had a way of making you feel short of breath.
A tall, dark-haired, broad-shouldered man in his mid-twenties came bounding in. He was smartly dressed at least, in a business suit.
“Shouldn’t you be in work Charles?” Audrey addressed her wayward nephew in stern tones, which he responded to by beaming a wide toothy grin.
“Things are quite lax at the foreign office at the moment, there is something going on concerning that Canal in Egypt but we should be able to smooth things over. I just thought I’d come and visit my favourite Aunt” Charles beamed again.
“I suppose you’re after some money again. Don’t they pay you at the Foreign office?” Audrey responded untouched by her nephew’s charm offensive.
“Ha! There’s no pulling the wool over your eyes, you can read me like a book. Of course, they pay us, but not until the end of the month, what’s a fellow supposed to do if he needs to get hold of some cash mid-month? Come on Auntie, you’ve said it before ‘Youth must have its fling’.”
Audrey Patterson walked over to her bureau and opened it. It was where she kept her spare cash. She took out ten crisp pound notes, then locked it again.
“I indulge you far too much, you know that” Audrey handed over the notes and her great-nephew took them and quickly put them into his breast pocket. He was a bit of a rake but she had a deep abiding fondness for her elder sister’s grandson. It was strange because Alicia didn’t seem to be overly fond of him at all, but then she always preferred girls. Audrey hadn’t any children of her own and Charles was the only boy so she rather spoiled him, but she thought, in a way, he was only frittering away his own money, she was leaving it all to him in her will anyway.
Audrey then thought about her last party. Charles had been there with a couple of his pals and they had got on very well with Claudia Halifax. She had encouraged them to push back her carpet and he remembered her dancing with one of Charles’s friends, a rather tall, skinny, blond-haired fellow.
“For once, you can do something for me, Charles” Audrey said as she sat down in her most comfortable chair and rearranged her skirts.
“Name it, Aunt Audrey” He responded with his usual easy-going eagerness.
“You remember my friend, Claudia Halifax? You all seemed to be so fond of her at my party. Was she particularly close to any of you? I remember one of your friends, a Tall, lanky blond man, dancing with her rather a lot. What his name?”
Charles suddenly looked rather sad, his youthful vigour waned slightly, like the sun during a solar eclipse.
“Yes, that was rather ghastly, poor Claudia, she was awfully good company. My friends all liked her, Peter Whitebridge doted on her for a bit, but she lost interest in him. The Blond fellow is Christopher Copeland, or CC as we call him. I think they saw quite a lot of each other. He seemed genuinely keen on her. I think she liked him too. She did love to dance with him rather a lot, but then he was the best dancer. She was such a fun-loving woman, she had such a zest for life and she appeared much younger than her age. It was terrible her being married to that dreadful old ogre. He was terribly jealous you know, he found Christopher and Claudia in their garden one day and the old blighter chased him away with his hunting rifle!”
“That’s very strange, I didn’t think Lord Halifax cared for his wife much at all. He used to be a terror with the female servants you know. There was nearly a scandal with one of his maids, Claudia caught her actually sitting on his knee when she came home from a party once. She dismissed the maid on the spot, of course. I was surprised when she told me because he always appeared to be such a cold fish.”
“He used to beat Claudia you know. I remember she had a bruise on her face, she tried to hide it under extra make-up but I saw. I think, despite the fact he showed her no affection whatsoever, he didn’t like her enjoying herself at all.”
The Doorbell rang out again.
Alice came in and announced Sir Alfred who followed her in.
“Ah, May I introduce my Great-Nephew Charles Lansdowne, Charles, this is Sir Alfred Thorpe” Audrey formally introduced them.
“Gosh, weren’t you Chief Commissioner of the Met a few years ago? I didn’t realise my Aunt had such distinguished friends.” Charles said impudently as he shook hands.
“Well, I had better show my face in the office this afternoon. Nice to have met you. Goodbye Auntie and thanks for the cash injection” and with a wink for her, he bounced out of the room.
“That’s a cheeky fellow, I rather like him,” Said Sir Alfred puffing out his grey moustache. “Well, I have interviewed Lord Halifax, not really what you call an interview, he wouldn’t talk much. I have also spoken to your local Constable, Caradoc Jones. He did admit to going out with your maid Elsie but only when pushed at it. He seemed a nice chap, but I detected a bit of resentment about it. She chucked him over, you see. I think he took it badly.”
They sat down on the large sofa and Audrey ordered tea and sandwiches. Then they continued talking over the information they had so far acquired, while Sir Alfred puffed away on his pipe.
The End…..for now.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 13/August/2018