I am once more participating in the April A To Z Blogging Challenge! For an explanation of this event, click here.
Today is the day of the great Theme Reveal, and I am eager to reveal mine. It is to be a mystery, and every day in April (except Sundays) I will describe a different suspect. Read on for further details!
WHO KILLED LORD CADBLISTER?
“Went down to the village today,” remarked Marge Bantree in her hearty voice. “Feeling is running high, I must say.” She looked significantly at Lord Cadblister, a sardonically sneering figure at the head of the table. The table at large had gone quiet at the word “village,” and the remnant of her remark rang out in the silence.
“Yes, Cadblister. Meant to have a talk with you about that after dinner,” said old Colonel Crabbit, eying Miss Bantree with a certain amount of disapproval in his glance.
“So you were going to badger me too, eh?” Snorted Lord Cadblister.
“Someone clearly has to,” replied the Colonel defiantly.
“Someone has. Lots of someones. Bally badgerers, everywhere I turn. Well, it won’t do any dashed good. I have made my decision.” Lord Cadblister looked around the table, his rheumy eyes shining with malice. “And it’s not the only decision I’ve made, either.” And he smiled unpleasantly.
“What do you mean, Uncle?” Asked the Hon. Percy Neville Bloater.
Lord Cadblister now turned his malevolent gaze upon the young man. “Ah!” He cried triumphantly. “What indeed? Well, I’ll tell you. Yes, yes I think I’ll tell you now. I was going to wait until tomorrow, make it a kind of Christmas present for you all, but as it has come up…” He rubbed his hands together and chuckled. “You see, I’m making some changes in my will. The estate is to some extent entailed-” and he glared at the empty seat at table where young Viscount Diddums, Lord Cadblister’s son and heir, ought to have been sitting, had not ‘business in town’ delayed his arrival, “but my private fortune will go… elsewhere.”
“Elsewhere?” Lady Cadblister shrieked this from the other end of the table. “To that- that-” and she found herself unable to say more.
“Yes, m’dear. To that- that-” Lord Cadblister’s tone was a cruel parody of his wife’s shrill cry. This was most embarrassing, for everyone at table knew exactly who was meant, but none was willing to admit this knowledge. Colonel Crabbit made a throat-clearing noise, Miss Bantree laughed heartily, Lady Cadblister let out a noisy sob, Aunt Theodolinda clutched her napkin in a claw-like hand, and the Hon. Percy Neville Bloater made a noise more suggestive of a horse than of one endowed with the divine gift of speech. As for young Lady Belinda, she rose to her feet, signaling to the women that they should withdraw. When this maneuver had been accomplished, Colonel Crabbit opened the subject of the village once more.
“Suppose you’re not going to attend tonight’s meeting, under th’ circumstances,” he remarked.
“Meeting? Meeting? What meeting?”
“It is to be held after evensong in the church. More or less an indignation meeting, I dare say.”
“You mean that the pathetic fools are going to try to find some way to stop me, don’t you? Well, well.” Another malevolent chuckle. “You know, Colonel, I think I will attend. After all, it is only fitting that the villagers be told where they stand. They’ll all be out on their ears come February, and there’s not a bally thing they can do about it.” Lord Cadblister stood up. “But if I am to be in good time, I must set out at once. Good evening, gentlemen.”
“But surely the Daimler could get you there in no time flat, sir,” said the Hon. Percy.
“Daimler? Daimler? Bah!” Cried Lord Cadblister. “My two feet will get me there quite well enough, thank you.” And he strode out of the room.
And Lord Cadblister did go to the meeting. There was no possible doubt about that the next day, when it became necessary for the police to trace Lord Cadblister’s movements. Why, everyone was there, from the village constable to the vicar to the old witch who almost never bestirred herself from her little cottage in Yeoman’s Woods nowadays. He hadn’t stayed long, but when he left, there was little reason to hang about. He’d efficiently and ruthlessly crushed all hope that he could be stopped. The meeting broke up two minutes after the church door had slammed behind Lord Cadblister. The villagers went out into the dark of a night without stars or moon, and silently went their separate ways. Some say they saw him, his figure bent against a sudden sharp wind, toiling up the lane towards Cadblister Hall.
But there is a place along the lane where the shadows lie thick, a place where tall trees have grown together into a kind of tunnel. And it was in this place that Lord Cadblister’s body was found the next morning, horribly murdered.
And now the question that runs like an electric current through the village is: Who Done It? Who knows more than they are willing to say? Who is telling lies?
Perhaps, dear reader, you can spot the murderer. During the month of April, I shall write a different character sketch each day (except on Sundays). Each sketch will describe a villager or a member of the Cadblister household, focusing on his or her movements on the night of the crime, motive for killing Lord Cadblister, and other pertinent facts. I will try to make the thing fair-play, and I will certainly make it exciting and, I hope, amusing. With each sketch I hope to include a picture of the villager in question. I myself will (I hope) be dressing up as each villager, unless my friends and family agree to lend me their faces for some of the portraits. Anyway, that is my plan at the moment.