The Guests Arrive for Tea – A Murder Mystery Continues

I started writing a murder mystery some time ago, we are almost at the end now.

If you’d like to read this story from the beginning, click on this link:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/the-start-of-it-a-short-story-with-familiar-characters/

 

The Guests arrive for Tea

Having refreshed herself with a cup of tea and one of Mrs Buscombe’s excellent Egg mayonnaise sandwiches, Audrey decided to change her clothes. She had been roused out of bed early that morning by a telephone call from Sir Alfred Thorpe. It had been to see the dead body of a poor young man, Christopher Copeland, who had apparently committed suicide, having also confessed to murder.

That could well have been the end of the whole investigation. Although it did not satisfy her. Not in the slightest. It may well have provided an explanation for Claudia Halifax’s murder, but it still did not explain the death of her own Maid, Elsie. Elsie had been a nice girl, a trifle naïve and it appeared she was a bit swayed by gifts and trinkets, but that wasn’t a bad thing. She was sure that the suicide and confession of that poor young man had been part of a wicked and insidious ploy to shift the focus away from the real culprit.

She changed into a wrap-around dress in a pale lavender colour and having rearranged her hair she went back downstairs to await her guests. She was just at the bottom of the stairs when the doorbell rang. She checked her watch, it was just past three-thirty, far too early for the guests she’d invited for afternoon tea. As she was crossing the hall, she answered the door herself.

Standing there, in his civilian clothes of dark grey tweed, was Constable Jones.

“May I have a word with you, Lady Patterson?” He asked politely but with a distinct tone of anxiety about it.

“Yes, of course, Constable, come this way.” She led him into the drawing-room and sat down in her sofa and pointed him towards a chair.

“Thank you. I’m not on duty, it’s just Caradoc Jones. I wanted to make a confession to you, if you don’t mind.”

“You wish to make a confession? Are you going to tell me what you were doing on the Thursday night when Elsie was murdered?”

Caradoc Jones’ face went bright red “Erm, yes, yes I was. How did you know?”

“Because, Mr Jones, I went to the Cinema on Thursday evening myself and saw, not ‘Angel over Islington’ which didn’t start showing until the following weekend, but Dial M for Murder. I knew then that you lied to me. What were you doing? Had you been following Elsie?”

“Not then. I admit I had been following Elsie, after she chucked me over. I wanted to know what she was doing, who she was seeing, but gradually, I began to realise that I didn’t care anymore. That Thursday I was in the company of Mavis Pruitt. She’s the Maid at number 33. We’re engaged to be married now.”

“That all seems rather sudden Mr Jones. Elsie’s only been dead two weeks.”

“Yes, well I’ve always been quite friendly with Mavis, even before Elsie come on the scene. Elsie, she was a fair girl, very pretty and at first she seemed really keen on me, so Mavis just faded into the background, you see?”

“Yes, I see and after Elsie chucked you she suddenly came back into the foreground again, is that it?”

“Well, yes, not right away. At first, I was cut up about it, I admit it, I used to follow her around. I saw the odd glimpse of the person she’d chucked me for. Then I got over it. Mavis made me realise she was the one for me all along.”

Audrey wasn’t altogether interested in Constable Jones’ love life, something he’d said just caught her attention.

“You say you managed to catch a glimpse of the man Elsie was with? Why didn’t you tell Sir Alfred that? What was the man like? Was he tall and blond?”

“I only caught a brief glimpse of him, He was a toff, fancy clothes. He wasn’t tall, he was stocky. I didn’t see his hair, he had a top hat on.”

“Was he Old, or Young?”

“It was hard to say, I only saw him from a distance and from behind. He did have an unusual way of walking though, sort of hunched like.”

“Do you think you’d recognise him if you saw him again?”

“Well, I might. Why, what did you have in mind?”

“I am having a gathering in a short while. A few people will be arriving and I want you to sit in the morning room, which over looks the street and observe my guests as they arrive, then come and tell me if any of them could have been the man you saw in the park with Elsie.”

“Well, I suppose, if you think it may help.”

“It will make amends for not coming forward with this information sooner. I will forget all about it, if you help me.”

She put her plan into action and placed Constable Jones in the morning room from where he should be able to see everyone arrive.

Audrey had just sat back down in the morning room when the doorbell rang again.

Alice announced Sir Alfred who followed her in, still looking quite sheepish.

“Alf, if you would be so kind as to sit here next to me. You’re the first to arrive.”

Sir Alfred manoeuvred across the room with his cane. He was smartly dressed, with his dark grey suit. She hadn’t really noticed much until now, but he had a distinctive walk. He was slightly hunched over and walked with a rolling gait, possibly caused by arthritic trouble, but it looked almost like the walk of someone who’d spent their life at sea and had to adjust to the movement of a ship. That wasn’t the case of course. Sir Alfred had spent his life working in police and achieved the rank of Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan police.

Sir Alfred lowered himself onto the sofa next to her with an audible gasp.

At exactly Four thirty the doorbell rang and Alice announced the arrival of Lord Halifax. He wore a very formal black suit and had a dour expression on his face.

“Now, Lady Patterson, I would be grateful if you could explain why you have invited me. You mentioned having acquired something?”

“Oh, please don’t let’s be in too much of a hurry. We can at least be civil. I have ordered some tea and there is one more person left to arrive. Please take a seat.”

Audrey indicated a chair by the window, which Lord Halifax lowered himself into. He was older than her, about the same age as Sir Alfred, but he seemed more agile for his age. He sat bolt upright in the chair.

Alice brought in the sandwiches and began serving the tea. There was no point in waiting any longer.

Nearly the End

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 28/August/2018

 

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/insidious/

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/rdp-tuesday-prompt-fair/