Death On The Cards
By Terrance Edwards
Mrs. Peacock stood in the Hall of Arlington Grange, welcoming her guests. Due to a few pieces of good news amongst her friends, she had decided to hold a celebratory dinner party and had some rather special after-dinner entertainment planned.
She saw a car draw up and smiled. Emily Peach and Graham Slate-Grey had arrived. They were partly the reason for the party, as they had recently become engaged. ‘Emily, my dear,’ Mrs. Peacock said as she gently kissed Miss Peach’s cheek before doing the same to Mr. Slate-Grey. ‘Graham, how are you? Do come in. Everyone else is here. It’s unlike you to run late. What happened?’
‘It’s my fault,’ Miss Peach shyly admitted. ‘I couldn’t find my engagement ring. It’s forever falling off my finger, it’s too big. We should think of having it altered, really. Isn’t it pretty?’ She held out her hand to show a thin gold band set with a small diamond. It was pretty enough and anything else would have been too ostentatious.
‘That’s lovely, my dear.’
‘It was my mother’s,’ Mr. Slate-Grey said. ‘A family heirloom. Not overly valuable, but sentimentally rich.’
‘It’s delightful. Come through, we’re having pre-dinner drinks in the Lounge.’
Mrs. Peacock led them through the Hall, stopping only for Mr. Slate-Grey to admire an antique-looking axe that had recently been hung on the wall.
In the Lounge, everyone else was subdued. Miss Scarlett sat at the window, looking bored. Captain Brown wandered around the room, smoking his pipe and admiring the paintings and weapons. His attention was drawn to a large blunderbuss that was mounted to the wall. Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard sat on the sofa, drinking. Reverend Green was in the Kitchen, helping Mrs. White prepare the dinner. Mrs. Peacock walked in and said ‘They’re finally here!’
Everyone turned to the new arrivals. Miss Peach walked over to Miss Scarlett whilst the men crowded Mr. Slate-Grey to congratulate him. Mrs. Peacock busied herself with getting drinks for her guests. Miss Peach showed the ring to Miss Scarlett who feigned interest.
‘That’s a lovely brooch and scarf, Vivienne’ Miss Peach said. The brooch was diamond and ruby, the scarf a thick red chiffon.
‘Divine, isn’t it? I couldn’t resist it. The last time I was in London, I saw it and just had to have it!’
Mrs. Peacock came over and handed Miss Peach a drink. ‘You were quite the little impulse buyer when you were last in London, Vivienne. Almost an entire wardrobe.’
‘I could afford it, Mother’ Miss Scarlett snapped.
‘Lord only knows how, Vivienne.’
Miss Scarlett was saved the embarrassment of answering by Mrs. White, who announced that dinner was ready.
The conversation around the Dining Room table turned to other events in the village.
‘Why didn’t you invite Doctor Black, Mrs. Peacock?’ Reverend Green asked.
‘I did invite David, Reverend, but he couldn’t make it,’ Mrs. Peacock explained. ‘He had to go up to London unexpectedly on business.’
‘You’d know more about this, Graham,’ Colonel Mustard said turning to Mr. Slate-Grey. ‘You being his accountant and all.’
‘No, he didn’t say anything to me about that at the last meeting. Did he say what it was about, Mrs. Peacock?’ Mr. Slate-Grey asked, almost nervously.
‘He just said something had come up and he had to see his solicitors about it. Whatever it was, he wasn’t happy about it’ Mrs. Peacock replied.
‘Intriguing’ Colonel Mustard murmured.
‘Of course that’s not the only news.’ Mrs. Peacock continued ‘We have Emily and Graham’s engagement, and Peter’s latest magnum opus is due for publication soon.’
‘That’s right. Congratulations, Professor’ smiled Miss Scarlett.
‘What’s it about, Professor?’ asked Miss Peach.
‘It’s about the various indigenous tribes of the Masai of the Serengeti. Their habitats, mythologies, superstitions and such like. Did you know that there is one tribe that decrees a couple that are to be married may share a bed but the ceremonial assegai- that’s a type of spear- is placed between them to ensure they remain pure until the wedding night. Only once the ceremony has been completed, and they are man and wife, is the assegai removed.’
‘Really, Peter, is this suitable conversation for the dinner table?’ Reverend Green asked.
‘So, Graham, is that what you and Emily have been doing? Putting a spear between you so you don’t…’
‘Captain Brown! Really!’ Miss Scarlett exclaimed.
Miss Peach blushed and Mr. Slate-Grey looked offended. To defuse the situation, Mrs. Peacock jumped in. ‘Pay no attention to Robert either of you. I think it’s wonderful. It’s been too long since we had a wedding in the village. Here’s to Emily and Graham. And Peter as well. Cheers!’
As they had coffee in the Lounge afterwards and Mrs. White had joined them, Mrs. Peacock announced her little surprise.
‘It’s been a night of celebrations, and I thought we might have a little entertainment. An old friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen for ages, has agreed to come here and…’
Mrs. Peacock was interrupted by three loud knocks at the front door. She went to answer it. Intrigued, everyone followed her into the Hall. She opened the door.
Standing on the doorstep was a tall, thin middle-aged woman with flowing black hair that was shot through with grey. She was dressed in a baggy purple caftan and a cloak that was fastened at the neck by a silver star clasp. She had a large crocheted bag in which was clearly visible a large crystal ball.
Mrs. Peacock embraced the stranger, Reverend Green nearly fainted and everyone else looked vaguely bemused.
‘This is my friend. Magenta Rose. She’s a clairvoyant!’
With Magenta ensconced in the Ballroom after she requested a few moments to gather herself before the entertainment began, Mrs. Peacock had to deal with an irate Reverend Green who was in the Hall and ready to leave.
‘I am not staying in this house whilst that woman is here.’
‘No, Elizabeth. What she does, fortune telling, is an affront. I cannot in all conscience stay here and condone it.’
‘Oh, for goodness’ sake! We’re not trafficking with the Devil here. It’s just a harmless piece of fun. Stay. If you’re still feeling uncomfortable after the séance, you can go. You don’t have to stay for a tarot reading.’
‘Magenta also reads the tarot. After a brief séance, she’s going to do personal readings for everyone.’
‘You’ve got to be joking! I cannot believe you’re allowing this.’
‘It’s fun. That’s all it is,’ Mrs. Peacock regarded the agitated vicar. ‘Anyone would think you have something to hide, Jonathan.’
Reverend Green blenched, stammered and coughed before eventually saying ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Elizabeth. I’m a man of the cloth!’
Reverend Green relented and followed her back into the Lounge.
Everyone sat in a semi-circle in the Lounge, nervous. Mrs. Peacock entered with Magenta in tow. Magenta had a glazed, almost serene look on her face as she came into the room. This immediately changed to one of horror when Colonel Mustard stood up and offered his hand to shake.
‘No. No… I will not shake your hand… You have blood on them… you, sir, have been responsible for death…’
Colonel Mustard looked unsure but recovered well. ‘I was a military man, my dear. I have had to use what I was taught. It is natural.’
‘In war I can understand. It may well be your only chance for survival. But you have been responsible for death. It has been malicious. Deliberate. It was murder. And I will not shake your hand.’
Colonel Mustard looked shocked and sat down. Magenta swept past him to the centre of the semi-circle where she sat.
‘Well… ladies and gentlemen, that was not really the start I was after. I like things to start off quietly, but not so today. What I will do now is begin the séance. In this, I merely become the vessel for any spirit that wishes to come through to anyone here. I hold no control over who or what comes through. After this, I will hold individual sessions with you all, if you desire, and I will read your tarot cards… Now, silence… we will begin…’
The room fell silent. In a thin, small, child-like voice, Magenta began to speak.
Men in power have blood on their hands,
Young men sent to die by green-eyed beasts…
Affairs of the heart prove complicated,
Wives and husbands and lovers make three…
Children cry for help,
They cannot understand why they were left to die…
The King is in his counting house, but the gold has gone;
The Jack of Hearts has seen to that…
Words prove false,
Castles in the air with no true foundations…
Everyone exchanged bemused glances. All except Mr. Slate-Grey. His eyes could meet no-one.
‘I have a young man here, who is very angry with… someone. His name… the young man’s name… is Christopher Hardenbrook. Someone here knows him.’
No-one would speak in the palpable tension.
‘If no-one speaks, he cannot pass his message on’ Magenta warned.
Again, no-one spoke.
‘Very well. My apologies, young Master Hardenbrook. Your cowardly superior has not the courage to hear you, just as he failed to do when you were with us. Fare thee well.’
The tension in the room was momentarily lifted. It was not to last.
‘I have another spirit here… another male spirit… an older man by the name of Leonard Pinkerton. Known to one of you as… Pinky. Speak up,’ Magenta demanded, but nobody would. ‘You aren’t a very talkative lot, are you? Speak up or lose the message. Very well. I am sorry for your plight, Leonard. You were cared for once, but now… they can’t even be bothered to hear you. Go in peace.’
‘There is another young spirit here… a girl this time. A girl of six. She has a name… Lily. Her full name is Lily Teal. She knows one of you here. She was like a daughter to you. Speak up.’
‘I knew Lily’ said Mrs. White. Several astonished eyes turned to her.
‘Ah! Yes! Names of a similar meaning… lily white… blanche is French for white… You looked after her. Or was supposed to? But didn’t. And that’s why… That’s why it happened. I see the scars on little Lily’s body. I can smell the burning…’
‘Please, please… no more’ Mrs. White pleaded.
‘You left her to burn, didn’t you? You left that defenceless child to burn…’
This proved too much for Mrs. White who ran from the room in tears.
‘Lily, dear, we mourn for you. Hale and farewell, child.’
The rest of the people in the room were stunned. Nobody could speak. Reverend Green positively seethed. Mrs. Peacock diplomatically tried to restore order.
‘Well, Magenta… thank you for a most… interesting séance. Perhaps we should move on to the tarot readings?’
‘Quite a good idea, Elizabeth, my dear,’ Magenta said, putting a hand to her temple. ‘I feel quite drained. I shall need a quiet room where we will not be interrupted.’
‘You can use my Study. You won’t be disturbed there’ Mrs. Peacock offered.
‘Thank you’ Magenta said.
‘Would anyone else like a drink?’ Miss Scarlett offered as she stood by the drinks table, glass in hand.
‘Could I possibly trouble you for a pink gin? It helps focus the mind before dealing with the cards. It can often be quite traumatic.’
‘Really? I’d never have guessed!’ Miss Scarlett said sardonically. ‘We don’t seem to have any of that stuff that makes gin pink, I’m afraid.’
‘Angostura bitters. I’ll see if Mrs. White knows where they are. Vivienne, show Magenta to the Study when you’re ready’ Mrs. Peacock said.
‘Might I ask that you give me a while to prepare when I am in the room. Give me around twenty minutes and then whoever is first can come.’
Mrs. Peacock nodded and left the room. Miss Scarlett downed the rest of her drink and said ‘Follow me.’
Mrs. White sat at the Kitchen table in floods of tears. That horrible woman. How dare she bring all that back up? It was long, long ago, all dead and buried. Just like little Lily Teal…
Mrs. Peacock came in. ‘Blanche, dear… are you alright?’
‘Hardly, Mrs. Peacock. It was such a shock.’
‘If it’s any consolation, and I doubt it is… she didn’t do it on purpose. It just happened. I don’t suppose you can plan things like this. Can’t plan who’ll come through.’
‘I know. Thank you, Mrs. Peacock.’
‘Now, then Blanche, could you tell me if we have any angostura bitters. There wasn’t any in the Lounge and Magenta was quite explicit on having a pink gin.’
Mrs. White dried her eyes and said ‘There should be some in that top cupboard.’
Mrs. Peacock opened the cupboard and rifled through it. She took out a small clear glass bottle with the word POISON on the label. She placed it on the counter. ‘That really shouldn’t be in with the food, Blanche. Accidents can happen… ah, here we are! Bitters.’
Mrs. Peacock took the small bottle of bitters and closed the cupboard. She turned round to see Reverend Green standing in the doorway, looking very angry.
‘Are you happy now? Content that that woman has opened up some deep wounds?’
‘Jonathan, please spare me your morally superior claptrap. It was only supposed to be fun…’
‘What an odd definition you have of fun, Mrs. Peacock.’
Mrs. Peacock just shot him a venomous look and walked out of the room. The Reverend huffed in annoyance and sat down at the table. ‘Blanche, how are you?’
‘I’ve been better, Reverend. I can’t believe what she said.’
‘I knew it was a bad idea. I said to Mrs. Peacock… how did you know this Lily Teal anyway?’
Mrs. White swallowed heavily and spoke. ‘Do you remember the fire at Gossingham Hall a fair few years back? Well, I was working there at the time. Long before I came to work here.’
She noticed the confused look on the clergyman’s face. ‘Oh, sit down, Reverend. It’s a long story.’
Miss Scarlett switched on the light of the Study and began to clear things from the desk. As she did so, Magenta began taking things from her bag. ‘You know, my dear, it won’t last.’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Your relationship with this man in London. It will not last.’
Miss Scarlett bridled. ‘It’s none of your business.’
‘He’s getting wise to you, my girl. He won’t stand for your tricks any more. Your little scams for money are at an end.’
‘I have no idea what you mean.’
‘Oh, you do. You know full well what I mean. He’ll never leave his wife. They never do. And believe you me it doesn’t take a clairvoyant to know that.’
Suddenly, Miss Scarlett advanced on Magenta with a small gleaming revolver in her hand.
‘Keep quiet,’ Miss Scarlett hissed as she brought the revolver level with Magenta’s chest. ‘You can’t be that good a seer. You didn’t see this, did you? It was in the desk drawer. Now, you listen to me carefully. What you have just said is secret. My mother doesn’t know. And she won’t, will she? Because if she does… you will be sorry!’
With that, Miss Scarlett turned on her heel and left.
Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Captain Brown and Mr. Slate-Grey were in the Billiard Room, playing a quick game and debating what Magenta had said.
‘Who was that Christopher Hardenbrook?’ Colonel Mustard asked.
‘He was one of my hands on a ship I captained years ago. He fell overboard and drowned’ Captain Brown said blithely and took his shot.
‘That all it was, Robert? Miss Rose was under the impression young Master Hardenbrook wasn’t overly happy’ Mr. Slate-Grey said.
‘I shouldn’t think he would be. He drowned.’ Captain Brown grunted. ‘Anyway, Michael, what was up with you? She wouldn’t shake your hand…’
‘Silly old bat confused defence of the realm with cold-blooded murder’ Colonel Mustard replied.
‘She’s very odd, that’s for certain. That damned… prophecy thing, whatever it was, was nothing but a load of old nonsense’ Professor Plum mused.
‘I’m not too sure myself, Professor. I think there’s something there. That first bit about men in power with blood on their hands… that has to be you, Michael’ Captain Brown thought aloud.
‘What are you suggesting, Brown?’ Colonel Mustard’s voice became quiet, steely and dangerous.
‘Well, you’ve never really told us what happened in Bolivia…’
Without warning, Colonel Mustard lunged forward, grabbed Captain Brown and shoved him against the wall. Professor Plum tried to pull the irate colonel away.
‘Never, ever mention that place in my hearing again, Brown, hear me? Do not harp on about things that you have absolutely no comprehension of, you understand?’
‘Michael, calm down’ Professor Plum said as he stood between the two men.
After a few moments of awkward silence, Colonel Mustard composed himself. ‘Sorry, Brown… it’s just… it’s a bit of a tender subject… a very difficult and taxing time, you know?’
Professor Plum nodded. A heavy silence fell in the room, punctuated by the sound of cue hitting ball. Mr. Slate-Grey, Professor Plum and Captain Brown exchanged glances.
‘We’ll leave you to it, Mike’ Professor Plum said, and the three of them left.
Mrs. Peacock tapped on the door of the Study and Magenta told her to come in.
‘Your pink gin, Magenta’ she said and put the glass down.
‘Thank you, Elizabeth,’ Magenta said and took a sip, grimacing as the alcohol hit the back of her throat. ‘It’s been too long, my dear.’
‘Yes, far too long.’
‘I was very sad to hear about Jack. You must have been devastated.’
‘It was a very trying time. I still miss him.’
‘I’m sure you do,’ Magenta said and began shuffling the cards idly. ‘Your stepdaughter has quite an eye for the men, hasn’t she? I think she’s met her match with this one, though.’
‘Vivienne isn’t seeing anyone at the moment.’
‘Oh, I see,’ Magenta said, her eyes narrowing. ‘Well, you’d better take it up with her. Are you having the first reading?’
‘No. No, I’m not. I think Emily Peach is,’ Mrs. Peacock said and turned to go. ‘I’ll be back for mine later, though.’
Mrs. Peacock smiled and left.
Miss Peach tapped nervously at the door of the Study. Magenta told her to come in. She entered, feeling uneasy. She didn’t know what was going to happen. Magenta smiled. Miss Peach shivered. The Study desk was clear, the crystal ball dominated one corner of it and the cards were neatly piled on the blotter.
‘Miss Peach. Do sit down.’
Miss Peach did as she was told. Magenta handed her the cards.
‘Shuffle these thoroughly, please.’
The room fell silent as Miss Peach shuffled the cards. Magenta leaned forward and addressed her in a low voice.
‘Why didn’t you answer me earlier?’
‘Pardon?’ Miss Peach asked timidly, still shuffling.
‘During the séance. You knew the message was for you. Why didn’t you step forward?,’ Magenta paused then nodded. ‘They don’t know, do they? None of them. They haven’t a clue about your past, do they? Not even your fiancée.’
Miss Peach stopped shuffling and looked at her, aghast. ‘No.’
Magenta took the cards and spread them across the desk.
‘Pick seven of them please. You think you’ve done such a good job of hiding who you were, don’t you? Well the past has an odd way of coming back to get you, Emily. I mean… what would Graham say if he found out?’
Miss Peach couldn’t speak. The thought of anyone ever finding out, Graham of all people, hadn’t crossed her mind. But the consequences of any revelation did not bear thinking about…
Magenta smiled and took the cards Miss Peach had chosen.
‘Let’s see what the cards say, shall we?’
Professor Plum sat in the Library, looking out of the window, absent-mindedly toying with an ornamental dagger. His mind wandered. It would be interesting to see what Miss Rose had to say. As an academic his mind was not inclined to the spiritual, so he had often dismissed clairvoyancy as cheap theatrics and any practitioners as quacks. But this would be intriguing.
Miss Peach entered in some distress. ‘Oh, I’m sorry, Professor. I didn’t know you were in here.’
‘That’s quite alright, my dear,’ the Professor regarded her. ‘Are you alright?’
‘Yes, perfectly. Fine… My reading with Miss Rose was… shall we say, a little more involving than I expected.’
‘Is she good? Could she tell you things that only you knew?’
‘Oh yes,’ Miss Peach smiled wanly. ‘I’ve just come from her. You can go and see her next if you’d like.’
‘I think I will. I’m intrigued’ Professor Plum smiled and left.
As soon as he shut the door on her, Miss Peach sat down and cried.
Professor Plum sat stiffly in the Study chair. He had shuffled the deck and selected his seven tarot cards, now Magenta was rearranging them into a horseshoe shape. The dagger he’d accidentally brought in with him was on the tabletop.
Magenta turned over the first card and studied it. ‘Hmmmmm… You’ve been telling a lot of lies recently, haven’t you?’
‘No. I haven’t.’
‘Don’t lie to me, Professor. I know all. You have been telling lies. And the lies may well be found out. And if they are, there will be hell to pay.’
‘How do you mean?’ the Professor asked through dry lips.
‘Professionally speaking, you would be a laughing stock. Your lies are associated with your work. This latest work on the Masai. The rest of your body of work has all been true, but this is all lies, rumours and suppositions, little fact.’
‘How can you be sure?’
‘Quite easily, Professor. The vast majority of the tribes of the Masai do not use any form of assegai. That story of the marriage bed is just a flight of fancy.’
Professor Plum fell silent. His mind raced… how could he have been so stupid? He sprung from his seat, grabbed the dagger from the table and held it to Magenta’s throat.
‘Now, then, Miss Rose… about what you just said. Nobody knows. My publishers don’t know and neither do the press. I want it kept that way. It would be somewhat of a calamity to go public on it now. So, nobody will know, will they? If they do, I will know who told them. And there will be trouble. Do you understand?’
Magenta looked at him. ‘I understand.’
‘Good. I’m glad that’s settled. Let’s forget the reading, shall we?’
The Professor walked out, slamming the dagger down on the table as he went.
Mrs. White stood in the Kitchen, washing up. Reverend Green was drying the dishes. Suddenly, Miss Scarlett came in. ‘Mrs. White, can I talk to you?’
‘Certainly, Miss Vivienne. What is it?’
Miss Scarlett looked pointedly at the reverend. ‘Alone, please?’
‘Of course. Right, Excuse me, ladies’ the Reverend said and left.
‘Now what’s the problem, Miss Vivienne?’ Mrs. White asked, drying her hands and sitting down at the table.
‘It’s this damned fortune-teller, Mrs. White. She’s saying things… about me. Private things. And I’m worried that she’s going to tell my stepmother. They’re not things she’d like to hear, I’m sure you know what I mean.’
And Mrs. White did, more frequently than she’d like to. ‘Oh… well. I see. Have you asked Mrs. Peacock to get rid of Miss Rose?’
‘No. But I’m sure she won’t.’
‘There, there, Miss. Go and have a word with Mrs. Peacock. I’m sure she’ll listen to you,’ Mrs. White said, laying a hand on Miss Scarlett’s arm. ‘And if she doesn’t… well, there are always other ways, aren’t there?’
Miss Scarlett smiled and left the room. Yes, Mrs. White thought as she looked over to the bottle of poison on the counter, always other ways…
Reverend Green paced the Conservatory. He couldn’t believe what was going on. How could Mrs. Peacock allow this to happen? He was ready to leave. He couldn’t stay here with that woman, especially after seeing the effect she’d had on poor Mrs. White. He was twisting a piece of lead piping that he had found in one of the drawers between his hands. His nervousness was allayed by this mindless action.
He turned around to see Magenta standing in the doorway.
‘What do you want?’
‘Now, Reverend, that’s not very Christian, is it? I’m here to clean my thoughts before I continue with the readings. They take a lot from you.’
‘Yes. Dealing with people’s futures is a weight on the mind, Reverend. I have to clear my head from time to time. Would you like a reading?’
‘Certainly not!’ Reverend Green said, shocked.
‘Are you afraid of what the cards will tell you?’
‘Not at all. There is no art in what you do, Miss Rose. You simply trade in pantomime and cheap mummery. Only God sees all.’
‘Ah. "Judge not lest ye be judged", isn’t that one of your teachings? But you have a lot to be judged on, don’t you, Reverend? A man of the cloth you might be, but beneath that dog collar, you’re just a man like any other. With weaknesses. Like Mrs. Pemberton…’
The blood drained from the Reverend’s face. ‘What did you say?’
‘Your heart calls for her. But she is taken… Oh, Reverend, what a naughty thing to do! The seventh and the tenth commandments in one fell swoop. Tut, tut. What would the village say?’
‘You wouldn’t dare! Besides, where is your proof? You have none!’
Magenta said nothing, just smiled and walked out of the room.
The Reverend stood, stunned. He began tapping the heavy weight of the lead piping on his left palm. The taps became harder as he seethed. How dare that woman try to slander him? She should be very careful… she might upset the wrong person…
Mr. Slate-Grey and Miss Peach were in the Lounge, having a blazing row. Miss Peach had decided to call off the engagement.
‘Emily, please. You can’t!’
‘I have to, Graham… I can’t marry you. I’m sorry.’
‘Don’t ask me that, please…’
‘Why? What did that charlatan tell you?’ Mr. Slate-Grey asked as he walked over to the distraught Miss Peach and grabbed her. ‘What did she say to you?’
‘Nothing, Graham. Nothing! Let me go, you’re hurting me!’
‘She must have told you something about me. What did she say?’
‘She didn’t mention you at all, I swear.’
‘She must have. You were fine before you went in to see her. Did she tell you anything about me?’
‘No. It was all about me. She brought up certain things long dead and buried. They are things that mean we cannot wed. I’m sorry, Graham…’
With that, she ran out of the room in tears.
Mrs. Peacock sat in the Ballroom, staring out of the window. She was interrupted by Magenta coming into the room.
‘Magenta, my dear. How is everything?’
‘Interesting, Elizabeth. Very interesting indeed. When are you going to have your cards read?’
‘Oh, I’ll do it later.’
‘I can do it now. I’ll just go back to the Study and get the cards…’
‘No, Magenta. No it’s fine. I’ll come and see you later.’
‘Are you frightened, Elizabeth? You have nothing to hide,’ Magenta said, scrutinising her. ‘Well, that’s a lie, actually. You do.’
Mrs. Peacock looked confused. ‘What?’
‘Jack, of course. Have you forgotten?’
‘Magenta, I really don’t see…’
‘You have forgotten. I thought you would. It was so long ago.’
‘What on earth are you talking about?’
‘You stole him from me, Elizabeth. How could you forget? I had my eyes on him and you damn well knew it. But that didn’t stop you, did it? You blithely pursued him and didn’t care that you betrayed me. It broke my heart thinking about you and him. You sat with me and gushed how much in love you were and really did not care how much you hurt me.’
‘Magenta… you never said…’
‘I shouldn’t have had to! You were supposed to be my friend!’
‘Well, it’s far too late for that,’ Magenta said and turned away. ‘It was me he always wanted, you know. He never loved you. I could feel it. We would be together and I could feel he didn’t want you.’
Mrs. Peacock stalked towards Magenta. ‘Don’t lie.’
‘I don’t need to lie. I have access to a higher power that knows all. He didn’t love you. He never loved you. The truth is yours, Elizabeth. Do with it as you will.’
Magenta turned on her heel and left a dumbfounded Mrs. Peacock in her wake.
Professor Plum sat in the Library, an open book on his lap but he wasn’t paying attention to it. He was more preoccupied with what had happened between himself and Magenta. Why had he threatened her with the dagger? How would that look? And why had he even written a word of that blasted book? He’d done it because he thought nobody would find out it was all half-baked fantasy. Any documents pertaining to the tribes of the Masai were scarce… nobody would know if he let his imagination go… fill in the blanks… but now…
The sight of Captain Brown stalking past the Library door with an axe in his hands and a sour look on his face distracted him.
‘Robert, what on earth are you doing?’
‘I’m going to find that… that fortune-teller… and I’m going to kill her.’
For one insane split-second, Professor Plum wondered what would happen if he just let Captain Brown go. He’d chop Magenta Rose into little pieces and his secret would die with her. But he couldn’t.
‘Don’t be so stupid, Brown. Now come in here, give me the axe and tell me what’s wrong.’
Captain Brown relented. He put the axe down and sat opposite the Professor. ‘That damned woman… why did she come here?’
‘I don’t know,’ the Professor said. ‘I know a lot of people who would’ve been happier if she’d never shown her face here.’
‘I didn’t think you’d been for a tarot reading.’
‘I haven’t. And I won’t be. That séance was enough.’
Professor Plum sat back and relaxed. He knew what was wrong.
Captain Brown cleared his throat. ‘There’s more to that Christopher Hardenbrook story, Peter. It’s something I’ve kept secret for so long. Too long.’
‘Robert, come on. Tell me. What’s the true story?’
Mr. Slate-Grey sat on the sofa and tossed back another glass of whiskey. His distress slowly crystallised into cold hard anger. That interfering crone must’ve told Emily about his little scheme. She’d never marry a crook. Magenta Rose had just ruined his chance at happiness. He walked over to the blunderbuss and took it off the wall. He felt its reassuring weight in his hands. Oh yes, make no mistake about it, Miss Rose was going to pay…
Colonel Mustard was alone in the Billiard Room, taking pot shots. Resentment simmered in him. That harridan… how dare she bring it all back? Best part of twenty years forgotten and here it was again. If he closed his eyes, he was back in Bolivia… the heat and stench of La Paz… that odious self-satisfied smirk on his inferior officer’s face… hearing the dreadful news… The shot he took was so hard that the cue ball sprang off the table and rolled beneath the sideboard. He crouched down to get it, just as Miss Scarlett walked in.
‘Michael, where are you?’
‘I’m over here, Viv,’ Colonel Mustard yelled as he retrieved the errant cue ball and a rusty old spanner from beneath the sideboard. ‘What do you want?’
‘I need to talk to you. What are your doing with that spanner?’
‘Oh, Peter got it from the Kitchen the last time we had a blockage in the table. I’ll take it back to Mrs. White later,’ he stood up and prepared to take a shot. ‘So, what’s wrong?’
‘It’s that woman…’
‘Magenta Rose? She’s certainly put a lot of people’s noses out of joint.’
‘She’s threatening to blackmail us, you know.’
Colonel Mustard almost dropped the billiard cue in surprise. ‘What?’
‘Whilst I was showing her to the Study, she told me she’s going to write down everything she finds out and sell it to one of those scandal sheets. She’s planning to ruin us all, Mike.’
‘Now, Viv, come on. She can’t do that. She has no proof. Well, what’s she got? A message from the afterlife? That’s hardly concrete evidence, is it? Calm yourself.’
‘You don’t believe me.’
‘I don’t see how she can say anything about us without completely discrediting herself. If you want rid of her, Viv, talk to your stepmother about it.’
‘Fine! I will!’ Miss Scarlett yelled and stormed out of the room.
Miss Peach sat quietly in the Dining Room, gently crying. She looked down at the loose gold band around her finger. She hadn’t wanted to hurt Graham at all, but she couldn’t marry him. Not after what Magenta had brought up.
She sat in contemplation when the door opened and Colonel Mustard came in.
‘Oh, Emily… sorry. I didn’t realise you were in here.’
Miss Peach sniffed elegantly. ‘It’s quite all right, Colonel. It’s turning out to be quite a night, isn’t it?’
‘That it is, my dear. Have you been to see Miss Rose?’
‘Yes… I was the first in… I’m regretting it now, though…’
‘I’m sure you’ll be fine. Have you seen Mrs. Peacock? I need to have a word with her. Vivienne’s got it into her head that Miss Rose is going to try and blackmail us with what she reveals tonight. I told her it was just a load of…’
Miss Peach jumped up quickly. ‘She’s going to do what? No. No! She can’t… that’s… she can’t do that…’
‘Emily, my dear, please calm down.’
‘No. She can’t do that! She can’t!’
‘You haven’t seen Elizabeth then? Never mind. I’ll go and see if she’s in the Lounge’ Colonel Mustard said and left.
Miss Peach’s mind was in turmoil. She couldn’t believe what Colonel Mustard had just told her. Magenta was going to expose everyone’s sordid little secrets… She couldn’t take that chance… Miss Peach picked up one of the heavy candlesticks from the table and hurried out of the room.
Mrs. Peacock paced up and down the Ballroom, absently twisting a length of rope that was usually used to tie back the curtains. How dare Magenta say such things about her and Jack! They had been happy and Jack had loved her. How could this middle-aged woman still hold a grudge for something she perceived was done to her in her teens? How bitter she must be. But still, Jack had loved Elizabeth. Why else would he have married her? He had loved her, he had… Her train of thought was violently derailed by Miss Scarlett bursting through the door.
‘Mother, I’ve got to speak to you.’
‘Really, Vivienne, now is not the time…’
‘Now is the time. It’s about this clairvoyant friend of yours. She has to go.’
‘Do you know, Reverend Green would be ever so upset to discover you and he agree on something? And what are you doing with that gun? Give it to me,’ Mrs. Peacock said and waited for Miss Scarlett to hand the revolver over. Mrs. Peacock put it on the windowsill and turned back to her stepdaughter. ‘Whilst we’re on the subject, Vivienne… Magenta told me you were seeing someone. You’d told me you weren’t. Why are you lying to me?’
‘That’s not the point, Mother. I need to talk to you about Miss Rose. She has to go. If she doesn’t, she’ll be leaving in a coffin. Nearly all of your guests are baying for her blood. She’s annoyed far too many people.’
‘That isn’t my concern.’
‘It is when you realise she’s planning to sell everything she finds out to one of those sensationalist tabloids. Imagine that? Saucy Sordid Secrets Of Sleepy English Village. Do you really want that plastered all over the newspapers?’
‘No. No! Of course not.’
‘Then do something about it. Before somebody else does!’
Mrs. Peacock stopped pacing and her face became resolved. ‘I will. Do you know where Michael is? I need to have a word with him.’
‘He was in the Billiard Room the last I saw.’
Mrs. Peacock went out of the room, still twisting the piece of rope. When she had gone, Miss Scarlett smiled widely. She knew her stepmother would fall for the story, even if Mike wouldn’t. Yes, Miss Magenta Rose would soon be leaving the Grange for good.
Miss Scarlett’s jubilation was marred by the sound of a loud shot and the sound of breaking glass coming from somewhere in the house.
The house was quiet. This was shattered by a loud scream, a bellow, from Magenta. She came running from the Study into the Hall and began screaming.
‘Who was it? Who did it? Who smashed my crystal ball?’
At the sound of shouting, heads popped from doors. Mr. Slate-Grey and Captain Brown came from the Conservatory, Mrs. White and Reverend Green from the Kitchen. Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard stepped out of the Billiard Room, whilst Miss Scarlett came from the Ballroom and Miss Peach from the Lounge. Professor Plum came from the Library. All nine were dumbstruck.
‘What’s going on, Magenta?’ Mrs. Peacock asked.
‘Someone has broken my crystal ball. Pushed it from the table and shattered it,’ Magenta addressed everyone in a low and venomous voice. ‘Do you think that is enough to stop me? That was just a cheap showpiece. I know more about you all than you know about yourselves. And the truth will out. You may see to that!’
Magenta swept imperiously into the Study but turned back and yelled ‘And get me another pink gin!’
The Study door slammed. Everyone looked quite shocked. Mrs. Peacock cleared her throat and said ‘Alright everyone. Ten minutes and we meet in the Lounge. I think we have something to discuss.’
Ten minutes later, everyone except for Magenta, Reverend Green and Mrs. White were assembled in the Lounge. The atmosphere was tense. Mr. Slate-Grey and Miss Peach had argued again.
‘I want the ring back, Emily. If we’re not marrying, I may as well have it’ Mr. Slate-Grey reasoned.
Miss Peach reached to her finger, only to find it wasn’t there. ‘Oh… it’s come off my finger again. Don’t worry, I’ve only been to a few rooms. I’ll find it for you later.’
They were sitting as far apart from each other as possible. Nobody spoke. Mrs. White bustled in.
‘Sorry, Mrs. Peacock. I just had one or two things to finish off. Can I get anyone a drink?’
Everyone murmured assent and Mrs. White busied herself at the drinks table. Captain Brown broke the silence. ‘What are we going to do about this blasted woman?’
‘Nothing,’ said Mrs. Peacock. ‘She’s leaving after her last reading.’
‘That’s not good enough, Elizabeth,’ Professor Plum said. ‘She’s caused far too much trouble. Revealed far too much about us.’
‘How can we be sure she won’t say anything?’ Mr. Slate-Grey asked.
‘What can she say? All she’s got is a few bits of unsubstantiated gossip. She can’t say anything’ Colonel Mustard said, smiling as Mrs. White passed him a drink.
‘I don’t care, I say we can’t take any chances’ Miss Scarlett said as she stalked over to the drinks table and picked up a glass.
‘No! No, Miss Vivienne! Not that one!,’ Mrs. White yelled. Everyone looked at her oddly. ‘That’s… that’s the one for Miss Rose. The pink gin. There’s not much of that bitters stuff left. You know how particular she is.’
‘Oh, right,’ Miss Scarlett said and put the glass down. She picked up another glass and turned around. ‘Hang on! Where’s the blunderbuss gone?’
This question went unanswered as Reverend Green burst in, clearly agitated.
‘Reverend, what’s wrong?’ asked Miss Peach.
‘It’s Miss Rose… she’s dead. Someone murdered her.’
Magenta Rose has been murdered. Reverend Green discovered her body at the bottom of the cellar stairs (marked with an ‘X’ on the map).
Inspector Grey has been sent in to discover which of the nine guests at the house that night killed her. But, he's having problems and needs your help.
By clicking on the suspects’ pictures to the left, you can read their answers to the questions that Inspector Grey has posed them.
Click on the Weapons icon (top left) to see where the possible weapons were discovered and where they are usually kept.
Click on the Map icon (top right) to see the layout of Arlington Grange.
NOTE: This will open as a separate window so that you can refer to it whenever you want.
Click on the "Murder Cards" icon to make a suggestion as to Whodunnit, with What and Where. You will then be told how many you guessed correctly. Try and do this as few times as possible.
Click on the Book icon to bring you back to this story.
Click on the central "Cluedo" icon (or on the link below) to take you back to the Cluedofan.com main page.
Try to solve the mystery by reading as few of the testimonies as you can before you make a suggestion. If you get it wrong, go back to the testimonies and read a little more.
HINT: Cluedo is a game of deduction. Any of the nine suspects at the house that night could be the killer. Try to work out who could have possibly done it, what weapons they had access to and where they (and Magenta Rose) could have gone. All movements should be supported by the story, the testimonies or the items that people picked up during the evening.
Also, the locations of the weapons will help you invaluably. Try to work out how they got to where they ended up.
If you get REALLY stuck, there is a link to the solution through the "Murder Cards" section - but please only use this as a last resort.
© Terrance Edwards, 2001
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