Hello, and welcome to my 2023 A to Z Blogging Challenge! For a detailed explanation of what I’m up to this year, see my Theme Reveal. But basically, I’m taking all the suspects I made up for my A to Z last year (with help from several commenters!) and putting them all into an actual murder mystery. See the sidebar for links to last year’s posts; if your device doesn’t display sidebars (if, for example, you are visiting on your phone), the links will be under the comment section, right under my A to Z 2023 participation badge.
Chapter Ten: Josephine
Josephine looked quite flustered. “Well, I don’t know, I’m sure,” she said, “but Sir Adam said he was blackmailing you, anyway. Said you had a Past. I didn’t think nice old gentlemen had pasts, so he told me about it, to show me I was wrong. He liked showing me I was wrong. He was terribly nice about it.” She smiled. “Very generous. And it certainly seems, from what Sir Adam said, that you had quite a lot of fun, quite a long time ago. I didn’t know that people had fun like that, back then. But there again, I was wrong. Sir Adam explained that people have always had that kind of fun. I thought that everyone was just stodgy, like in the pictures. They always look so respectable. But that was just what they wanted to look like, and because of the cameras. Taking so long to take pictures, and all that.” She gestured vaguely.
Crowner found himself, once again, puzzled by Josephine. She seemed so very child-like, and yet… well, it was hard to know how much of her vagueness was real, and how much of it was assumed, to appeal to men of the Sir Adam type. Of course, to choose to shape your character in order to appeal to that type of man seemed in itself a remarkably silly choice. But it had, for a time, been quite a profitable relationship, for Josephine, so was it so silly after all? And there was an underlying viciousness to her wide-eyed innocence, it seemed. Or was that just how innocence worked? His head went round and round endlessly, so that analyzing Josephine made him feel mildly dizzy. Or was that merely a side-effect of her conversation?
“Of course, dear,” drawled Annabelle, “Sir Adam—quite recently, I think!—told you he didn’t want you for a playmate any more, didn’t he?”
Josephine opened her blue eyes wider than seemed possible. “Oh, but he didn’t! He never said anything to me except that he was going to be awfully busy for a time. Of course I understood. Sometimes people are awfully busy. Besides, it isn’t as if I missed him. Well, you couldn’t miss someone like Sir Adam, could you?” And she looked round the room, as if genuinely appealing for information on the point.
Leonard had been listening with an expression of patient pain on his face. Now he croaked out an appeal. “Tell me,” he said, “What—”
“Don’t drink that, sir!” cried Sergeant Mug, and bounded across the room to knock the flask from Cecil’s hand. The contents flew every which way.
From behind Cecil, Kathy cackled.
And that’s it for today! Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, I am going to include here this nifty map of Clutterbuck Court and environs.
A sad indictment that nobody would miss Adam
Yes, he really seems to have been thoroughly unloved!
Another attempted poisoning??
Oh my, the plot thickens to the point of curdling! Kathy, Kathy, Kathy, you simply must stop poisoning people, you know.
I do wish to point out that we have never actually discovered the nature of Leonard’s blackmailable past, which makes the situation ripe for long-lost children with wronged mothers, companions left for dead who yet survived, and all manner of secret vengeful identities.
Kathy is quite a strange old woman, and may think poisoning people is an excellent idea.
These are all fine points! Hmm…
Aha indeed! 🙂
Crowner is onto something, I think, with his observation of Josephine’s “underlying viciousness to her wide-eyed innocence”. Some of her statements seem like sarcasm in disguise. Like she knows exactly what’s going on. It makes me wonder if she isn’t selling whatever jewelry she received from Sir Adam in order to afford a move back to London with her husband. But kill Sir Adam? Not likely.
What did Sgt. Mug observe that made him cry out about Cecil’s flask? Did Kathy pick it up after Cecil dropped it? Did someone else? Who Sgt. Mug then saw put something in it before returning it to Cecil?
These are excellent points! Is Josephine silly, or calculating, or both?
The flask questions will all be answered in the next post 🙂