"A Rose Between Two Thorns"
By Paul Howls
Rose Black - wife of the infamous Dr. David Black - was always the object of many a man's affection. Indeed, when David Black first met her as the daughter of his headmaster at school, young Peter Plum was head over heels in love with her. When David stole her heart, Peter was devastated. David was his best friend; how could he do this to him? Plum swore never to forgive Black for what he had done. Somehow, someday, he would have his revenge.
Now, a good forty years later , Professor Peter Plum is sitting at Dr. Black's table laughing at his jokes along with the other guests, celebrating Rose and David's wedding anniversary as if nothing had ever happened. Had he forgiven David after all those years? Had he heck! Looking over the glass of his red wine at his host; the professor was still plotting revenge. He had learned over time that it was sensible to keep his 'friend' close by, where he could watch and wait.
Rose Black stared down from the other end of the long imposing dining table at Professor Plum. She worried. She was a lot less ignorant than her husband was. She knew how much Peter had desired her back when they were children together; and she knew how he still loved her now. She watched him as he looked over at her husband -and saw the hatred. She had tried warning her husband - but he had just laughed. Peter was his best friend, how could he possibly want to harm him. But she knew better.
"…Rose, Rose…" Miss Scarlett's voice pierced through her thoughts and she suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be listening to Vivienne's latest shopping saga at Harrods. "Where was I? Oh yes. I said to her 'Blue? Blue? Blue has NEVER been my colour' how could she have possibly even considered blue with my complexion? So I sent her off for something in burgundy. I don't know where they find these girls…"
From the other side of the table Elizabeth Peacock gave a pitying look across at her stepdaughter. Young girls today. Worried about nothing but clothes. She wouldn't have lasted five seconds without a pair of nylon stockings during the war. Not that she herself had suffered too hard. Wealthy families like the Peacocks, the Scarletts and her own, somehow managed to avoid most of the hardships of the war. Her brothers were still shipped off to the army, but had somehow 'avoided' the worst of the action.
Colonel Michael Mustard, the man sitting to Elizabeth's right, was a man who had seen the action. More action than most in fact. Many wondered how he managed to get through so many scrapes without barely a misplaced hair on his blond head.
Sitting very quietly, as per normal, to Vivienne's right was the Reverend. He was often so quiet that most people even forgot he was there. Though today Mrs. White DEFINITELY knew he was there. Sitting there, being bombarded with her complaints, gossip, and bakery tips; he was trying to remember the last time that she had stopped to take a breath. As far as he could make out, she was currently complaining about American style muffins! He tried to listen to her complaints, and made the required nods and grunts of disapproval - but for some reason his mind was completely elsewhere. He was thinking about the atmosphere here. Everyone seemed to be laughing merrily and having a good time - but something was wrong that he couldn't quite place.
"A gorgeous meal. Please thank cook for me Hogarth" Black said to his butler as he finished off the last of his chocolate gateaux. Hogarth replied with a nod of his head and proceeded to clear the table. "Well, shall we all retire?" Black suggested to his guests; and one by one they started to leave the Dining Room. As was custom, most of the party separated into different groups, and found different areas of the house to continue their conversations.
Dr. Black excused himself first, he had to make a phone call, and departed for the Study. Rose took Elizabeth to the Lounge for a coffee and a chat about current society gossip. Miss. Scarlett and Colonel Mustard said they were going to look at the plants in the Conservatory, and left together. Just as the Reverend was about to be accosted by Mrs. White for another round of complaints, he quickly made his excuses and retired to the library to consult the good book, and to give his ears a rest. This left Mrs. White slightly at a loss as to what to do with herself. She turned around and suddenly discovered that she wasn't alone. The professor was still sitting at the table. She was just about to continue her conversation with him when she realised that he was wasn't moving. He was frozen still, just glaring vacantly at the candle flames. She thought that she'd better leave him alone, so she decided to go and have a peak at Dr. Black's kitchen, and have a chat with the cook.
No sooner had Miss Scarlett and Colonel Mustard closed the conservatory door behind them, than they were locked in a romantic embrace. "Oh Vivienne" Mustard signed, "I can't stand to spend another minute apart from you. When are we going to tell her the truth?"
"You know just as well as I do - neither of us are doing very well financially at the moment. If she found out, she'd cut us both off in an instant. We just have to bide our time." She paused and picked up a piece of lead piping from one of the shelves. "You know, if anything should ever happen to her…"
"Vivienne, how could you even suggest it?"
"But all the money would then come to me. Think of it. All our troubles over, and we could be together … forever".
With that, she kissed him again.
Meanwhile, in the opposite corner of the house, Mrs. Peacock was busy describing her latest piece of gossip to Rose Black. "…and after all that, it wasn't Mr Slate-Grey she was interested in at all - but Captain Brown !!"
"Oh … really?" replied Rose when she realised she was supposed to say something.
"Are you alright Rose? Your thoughts seem to be elsewhere."
Her thoughts were elsewhere, she was still worrying about Peter - and her husband.
"I'm sorry Elizabeth. I'm just a bit worried about … If you'll excuse me, I've just got to check up on someone." Before Mrs. Peacock could reply, Rose got up out of her seat and left the room. Mrs. Peacock didn't mind being left alone, it gave her the perfect opportunity to admire a bejewelled dagger that was sitting on the table in front of her.
Elsewhere, knelt over the Bible, Reverend Green was deep in payer. "Dear Lord, I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made. I've made some very bad decisions as you well know. But the church roof couldn't wait any longer - all this miserable weather we've been having - it just couldn't have taken much more. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but now …"
Mrs. Peacock came out of the lounge to try to find Colonel Mustard. As she walked past the dining room, she heard Professor Plum's voice raised. Curious, she stopped next to the door to listen.
"…I'm sorry, I can't help the way I feel. Leave him, leave him and come away with me …… That's not true - you do love me, admit it, ADMIT IT !"
Mrs. Peacock was just about to open the door to interrupt when Mrs. White came out of the kitchen towards her.
"Listening at doors Mrs. Peacock?"
"I was just passing …"
"That sounds familiar"
"Mrs. White! If it wasn't your day off…"
"Well it is" quipped Mrs. White, and headed off towards the library. Mrs. Peacock was standing there fuming when Miss Scarlett and Col. Mustard appeared from around the ballroom corner. "Oh !" exclaimed Vivienne startled. Miss Scarlett and Col. Mustard looked at each other, not knowing what to say. Col. Mustard quickly tried to hide the lead piping behind his back.
"Vivienne, may I have a word with you in the ballroom ?"
"Err, yes of course" replied Miss Scarlett trying to recover her composure.
"I'll … err … just practice some billiards" said Col. Mustard retreating to the billiard room.
"Sorry Reverend, am I interrupting?" asked Mrs. White as she entered the library.
"Just finished" replied Rev. Green, trying to hide his disappointment of loosing his piece of sanctuary "how can I help?"
"Hogarth and Cook were too busy tidying up to talk, so I came to find you"
"Lucky me. Mrs. White, why are you carrying a spanner?"
"What? Oh, where did that come from? I must have picked it up in the Kitchen without thinking." Confused, she put it down on a side table.
"Anyway, where did I leave our conversation in the dining room? Oh, didn't Mrs. Black look nice tonight - that black velvet dress, the gleaming white pearls and of course the ruby brooch that the doctor gave her for their anniversary - I can't begin to imagine how expensive that must be, more money than I've earned in all the years I've been working for the Peacocks I can tell you; and you know, that Vivienne was almost drooling over it during dinner; and I'm sure I saw Mrs. Peacock …"
"Blanche! I really think you shouldn't be talking like that."
"I'm sorry Reverend, you're right. Let's change the subject. Erm … ?"
Spotting his opportunity to end the conversation and return to his thoughts, Reverend Green interrupted: "Actually Mrs. White, I hope you don't mind, but I've got to plan my sermon for Sunday."
Slightly thrown Mrs. White said that she'd go to have a lie down in the lounge and left the room.
As Mrs. White made her way to the lounge she could hear Miss Scarlett and Mrs. Peacock arguing in the ballroom. It was echoing through the whole house. She could barely hear herself think as she took her hip flask out of her pocket and had a quick swig. But as she passed near the dining room, she could just make out someone crying inside. She went over to the door and opened it; "Professor!"
"You two faced, double crossing, ungrateful child. I've kept you in my house ever since your father died - but that's it. I've had enough" screamed Mrs. Peacock waving a dagger in Miss Scarlett's face.
"Ungrateful! I've had to put up with you haven't I! Argh! I've had enough as well. Sometimes …", she pulled the cord off the ballroom curtains, "sometimes I could strangle you." She glared at Mrs. Peacock, wrapping the cord around her hands; but she couldn't bring herself to do it, so she stormed out of the room, into the conservatory and stopped in her tracks "Oh! What are you doing here?"
About ten to fifteen minutes later, Dr. Black finally finished his phone call and headed towards the lounge to find his wife. The sound of someone playing the piano was coming from the other end of the house. As he passed by the cellar stairs he noticed the door ajar and looked inside. Nothing could have braced him for what he saw.
Lying at the bottom of the stairs was Rose in her dusty black velvet dress and grimy pearls.
"Argh! Aaaaarrrrrggghhh!" he screamed and everyone ran to see what was going on.
Mrs. White and Professor Plum appeared from the dining room, Col. Mustard and Miss Scarlett from the billiard room, Rev. Green from the Library, Mrs. Peacock from the ballroom and Hogarth and the cook from the kitchen.
"What's wrong?" asked Miss Scarlett frightened. Trying to speak through his tears, Dr. Black just managed to stutter "It's…it's Rose - sh…she's dead"
Mrs. Rose Black has been murdered. Dr. Black 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 six guests at the house that night killed her (it has been verified that Dr. Black was on the telephone to his banker at the time of the murder and Hogarth and the cook were together in the Kitchen and so can all be eliminated). 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 Tudor Close.
NOTE: This will open as a seperate window so that you can refer to it whenever you want.
Click on the "Murder Cards" icon to make a suggestion as to Whodunit, with What and Where. You will then be told how many you guessed correctly.
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. All six suspects had good motives to kill Rose Black. Try to work out who could have possibly done it, what weapons they had access to and where they (and Mrs. Black) could have gone.
Also, the locations of the weapons will help you invaluably. Try to work out how they got there.
If you get REALLY stuck, there are more hints through the "Murder Cards" section.
© Paul Howls, 1999
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