Mystery Theme 3
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By Paul Howls of

Chapter Three - After Dinner

" Brandy?" Colonel Mustard asked the professor, his hand hovering over the decanter.
"Yes please" Plum replied as he sat on the Lounge settee.

While Mustard poured out the drinks, Plum played with the antique dagger that lay on the table next to him.
"There you go" Mustard said as he passed the professor his drink and sat beside him.
"Well?" Plum asked.
"Well what?"

"What do you think Black meant?"
The colonel pondered for a few moments before replying. "I'm not sure. He's definitely up to something, but what - I don't know."
"You don't think he knows?"

Mustard quickly looked around the room, stood up from the settee and closed the door to the room. "Be careful Plum. Walls have ears, especially in this place."
"Well?" Plum asked again.
"No, I don't think he knows. At least I hope he doesn't. If he's found out then…"
"Yes I know - prison! If we're lucky!"
After a moment's hesitation, Mustard said quickly, "I'm sure he doesn't know. He's got so much, he wouldn't notice if some of it was going missing."
"We took quite a lot last time though. I'm worried… I don't think we should do it again."

The colonel took the professor by the shoulder. "My dear Peter. We can't back out now! It will all be over very soon. No more risks. We'll be rich men!"

Plum looked doubtful. He still has his reservations about their plan. The colonel shook his head and plucked the dagger from the professor hands. "I don't think I'll leave you with this" he said as he exited the room.

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Watching the colonel leave, the professor took a sheet of paper from his pocket and read a few lines. Looking up from the page, he saw the eyes of Edward Black stare down at him from the portrait above the fireplace. Slowly, Plum rose and approached the painting. Running his fingers up and down the frame, he muttered. "The things you must have seen over the years…"


Elsewhere in the house, Graham Slate-Grey was looking into a similar pair of eyes.
"Are you sure?"
Dr. Black's cold gaze was fixed. A shudder went down Graham's spine. Slowly, Black replied, "I am quite sure."

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Slate-Grey shook his head. "I don't believe it! These people are supposed to be your friends! Could they really be stealing from you? Which of them do you think it is?"

The doctor remained quiet for a few moments before replying. "I'm not sure. It could be any of them. I have reason to suspect them all. The only people I can say for sure that it cannot be are you, Emily and Robert. The thefts began well before the three of you arrived in the village."

"What has gone missing?" Slate-Grey asked as he took a notebook from his pocket.
"Put the pad away Graham" Black said "I didn't call you in here because I wanted to claim the insurance for these items. I'm telling you this as a friend - and because I need your help."
"My help?"

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Miss Peach

"Yes. I want to find out who is behind this Graham. That's why I have invited them all here this weekend. I know the culprit is going to make their move tonight. They won't be able to resist the temptations that I have left out for them."
Black smiled. "I have left several valuable items on display around the house. Most of these items are usually safely locked away; but tonight they are on show and in easy access. Our man - or woman - will not dare miss this opportunity to get their greedy hands on one of these pieces."

"I'm going to trap them." Black continued before Graham could finish his question. "Tonight. When they strike - I will be ready to catch them."


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Professor Plum

Meanwhile in the Ballroom, Miss Scarlett, Mrs Peacock and Miss Peach sat chatting.

"I'm very sorry for what I said Emily" Mrs. Peacock apologised to Miss Peach, "I just didn't think what I was saying - until it was too late."
"Don't worry about it" Miss Peach replied - though without making eye contact with her. "It's forgotten."

"What I want to know" Miss Peach asked, to change the subject, "is what David meant by 'trusting his closest friends with his money and possessions'?"

The other two women looked at each other out of the corner of their eyes.
"I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it." Mrs. Peacock laughed feebly.
Miss Scarlett nodded silently.


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In the study, Mr. Slate-Grey and Dr. Black were still talking. Dr. Black looked up from the documents that his accountant has passed to him.
"Crafty, very crafty." Black couldn't help but raise a smile, even given the circumstances.
"It was very well hidden" Graham explained, "but I had a funny feeling that something was wrong."

Dr. Black put his fingertips to his lips and contemplated the situation. After a moment, he opened his desk drawer and took out his revolver.

"Thank you for telling me about this Graham. Leave it with me. I'd like to deal with this myself."


"That little tart!"

Billiard Room
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It was Mrs. White who now fumed as she stomped around the Library, swiping at air with the spanner in her hand. The reverend was the poor person who had to listen to her complaints.
"I'm sorry reverend. I know that's an awful thing for me to say - and terribly unchristian - but that little harlot has gone one step too far this time."
"Sit down Blanche" the reverend urged as he put his Bible down, "and tell me what has happened."

Indignantly, Mrs. White sat down on the sofa. "It's that maid. Yvette! I don't know who she thinks she is! All I did was peek my nose into the kitchen and offer to help her clean the candlestick that had been used at dinner - and she snapped at me! That girl has a grudge against me. She said 'You are not allowed in here Madame. Tonight you are a guest - not a servant like the rest of us.'

"Then, I picked up this spanner that was just lying on the table, muttering that dirty spanners shouldn't be left on clean kitchen surfaces (well they shouldn't!) and she hit the roof! She started shouting at me in French - and even threw one of David's expensive wine bottles at me! He'll be livid when he finds out. I ran out of the room so fast - I didn't even have time to put the spanner back down! I don't understand why she was so angry."

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Mrs. White took her hipflask out of her pocket and took a swig of drink. That seemed to calm her down momentarily.

Reverend Green patted her on the shoulder. "Let me speak to her Blanche. I might be able to find out what is troubling her." He smiled at the old cook and put his bible in his pocket as he stood up from his chair.

"Very well." Mrs. White grumbled. "But I warn you - be prepared to jump out of the way!"

The two guests left the Library together and headed towards the Kitchen. "I think you should wait out here." Green said as he went into the room.

Mrs. White waited for a few moments, but was soon drawn up the hallway by the sound of shouting coming from the Hall. As she crept nearer, she could just see through the doorway that Doctor Black and Colonel Mustard were having a huge argument.

Ladies' Antique Pink
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Just as she passed the corner of the Dining Room, she accidentally knocked into an ornament, sending it crashing to the floor. Quickly, she ducked inside the Dining Room.

"Why, hello!"

Blanche slowly turned around, fearing that she would see who she thought it to be.
Great! She thought to herself as she clenched the spanner tightly in her hand - Robert Brown.


"If you will excuse me" Emily said, rising from her seat "I think I'll go and find Graham. He's probably back in the Lounge by now."

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Mrs. Peacock and Miss Scarlett smiled as she left the room. No sooner had she walked through the door, than the smile disappeared from Elizabeth's face.

"So, what did David mean, Vivienne?" Mrs. Peacock asked her stepdaughter.

Miss Scarlett stood up and walked over to an antique fiddle that stood on a stand. As she played with the bow, Mrs. Peacock asked again: "What did he mean, Vivienne?"

Miss Scarlett turned to look at her stepmother. "Nothing! He meant nothing!"

Mrs. Peacock stared into her stepdaughter's eyes, trying to detect any signs of the truth. When this proved fruitless, she opened her purse and took out a red sheet of paper. "And then there's this."

"What's that?" Scarlett said defiantly.
"This" Peacock replied, "is an invoice I received for a rather substantial amount of money. Money owed for items bought by you and not paid for! What do you have to say to that?"

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Mrs. Peacock

Vivienne's face turned red and for a moment she looked like she might explode. "That, 'Mother' is because I have no money. No money because you've got your grubby little paws on all of my father's money. You only married him for his money - like you did with Jack as well!"

Mrs. Peacock leapt out her chair and swept across the room towards Vivienne - the trail of her dress flying behind her like her namesake's feathers. Forcefully, she pushed Vivienne against the wall, ripped a piece of cord from one of the curtains and pushed it against her stepdaughter's neck. "Don't you ever say anything like that again! I loved Jack Peacock and I loved your father."

"Ha!" Scarlett laughed, while struggling for breath; "Next you'll say that you love Michael."

"I do love him!" Peacock protested. "And he loves me - just as Jack and William did. That is why they left their money to me. Your father entrusted me with your portion of his money, because he knew that you were a spoilt little child who would waste it all on jewellery." With that she ripped Vivienne's broach off her dress and threw it to the floor.

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With a burst of strength, Miss Scarlett pushed her mother away from her. "My father never thought that about me!"
"Yes he did!" Mrs Peacock panted, "He saw you for who you are - as we all do."

With one final look of hate, Mrs. Peacock left the room. Miss Scarlett collapsed on the sofa and began to sob.


"Thank you for joining me for a game" Slate-Grey said to Plum as they entered the Billiard Room. "I could do with a relaxing game after talking to Black."
Plum tried to hide his reaction while setting up the balls for a game. "Wha… what were you talking about?"
"Oh, you don't want to know. Trouble - that's all."

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"What sort of trouble?" he asked as Graham struck his cue ball.
"I probably shouldn't tell you" Graham whispered as Plum lined up his cue to hit his spotted cue ball, "But Black has discovered that someone… in fact a couple of people… are stealing from him!"
Plum struck his ball at that moment and sent it reeling into a trophy standing on a side table. Plum pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and said "Oops!"


Outside the Ballroom, Colonel Mustard bumped into Miss Scarlett, who was still dabbing her eyes.
"Vivienne! Thank goodness I've found you - I need to speak to you urgently."
Looking around, he pulled her into the conservatory.
"What's wrong?" she asked once they were safely inside.
"It's Black - I just saw him in the Hall. He was furious! He knows about what Peter and I have been up to! He threatened me with his revolver and even let off a shot as warning!"

"What did he say?" Vivienne asked hurriedly.
"He said that we had to return everything to him tomorrow - or else…"

Vivienne slowly sank into a wicker chair, pushing a piece of lead piping aside. "Everything's falling apart. Elizabeth and I just had a huge fight in the ballroom."
"She doesn't know does she?" Mustard panicked.
"No" Scarlett replied bitterly as she stared into the eyes of a marble horse statue, "she does not know - but that's the least of our problems. She's got all of the family's money and has made it perfectly clear that I'm not going to get a penny of it, if she can help it. Now you say that your plans have fallen through! We're going to be poor! What are we going to do?"

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Mustard knelt beside her, put one arm around her and the other in his pocket. Removing the dagger from inside he held it up to her and said, "Don't worry my dear - I have an idea…"


In the Hall, Captain Brown and Miss Peach were busy gossiping when Mrs. Peacock entered the room.
"Oh, hello Mrs. P." Captain Brown smiled.
"Good evening Robert."
"You'll never guess what Emily and I just saw."
"Really?" Mrs. Peacock asked, "What was that?"
"You want to find your fiancé and ask him! He and Black just had a huge fight and Black took a shot at him!"
Mrs. Peacock's face froze and she dropped the cord she was carrying on the floor. "Is he alright?"
"He's fine." Miss Peach reassured her, "Captain Brown is just being a little melodramatic. David didn't aim at Michael, he shot over at that wall." She pointed over to the wall on which hung an impressive shield bearing the Black coat-of-arms.
"I err… Do you know where he went?" Peacock asked.
"Black went off to the Kitchen and Mustard went down the other hallway."
"I think I'll go and find him." Peacock said as she headed the way Mustard had gone.

The Garden
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"That shook her up a bit." Brown commented.

At that moment, Mrs White entered the room. "Oh!" she said as she saw the occupants and put her hand to her bare throat. The three guests stood in awkward silence before Brown tapped the spanner in his hand against his leg and said, "I think I'll see how the gents are doing in the Billiard Room."

A soon as he had left, Mrs. White sighed, took her hipflask out of her handbag and had a swig. Miss Peach picked up the item Mrs. Peacock had dropped on the floor.

"Is something the matter Mrs. White?" Emily asked. Blanche nodded in response. "Maybe we should have a chat in the Lounge."


"Give me the revolver!"

"David - this is foolish. Give me the revolver!"

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Black's arm quivered for a couple of seconds; then he passed the gun over to the reverend and collapsed in a chair by the Kitchen table, with his head in his hands.

Reverend Green took a deep breath, sat next him and put his hand on Black's shoulder.
"There, there."

After a moment's thought, Green put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a book. "Maybe you should have a read of this - it will calm you down."

Placing the book by Black's elbows that sat on the table; Reverend Green rose from his chair, smiled and left the room - taking the revolver with him."

Dr. Black sat still. His mind was racing. That patronising…

Jumping up from his chair, he threw the Bible to the floor, grabbed a candlestick from near the sink, lit it and headed towards the secret passage.


Secret Hallway
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Secret Hallway

"Well done!" Slate-Grey said as he shook the professor's hand.

Plum smiled. The game had started to calm him down and he was beginning to forget the earlier events of the day. Though Mrs. Peacock's dominating presence as she watched the end of the game, made him feel a little uncomfortable.

"Hello! Not interrupting am I?" It was Captain Brown who now joined them in the room.
"No, we had just finished. The Professor just beat me." Graham grimaced. "Fancy a game?"
"Don't mind if I do." Brown smiled. "You don't mind do you Professor?"

Plum looked over towards Peacock before replying. "No, I don't mind. I think I'll go and try to crack that puzzle box again."
"Any closer to the solution?" Slate-Grey asked.
"I'm very close - I'm sure of it. It just needs a little more thought."

With a smile, Plum left the room.

As Brown started to rack up the balls, he addressed Mrs. Peacock. "I thought you went to look for Mustard?"
Elizabeth nodded. "I expect he'll turn up here sooner or later."


Upstairs Hall
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Upstairs Hall

On the other side of the Billiard Room door, Professor Plum walked away towards the Library. Inside he found Mrs. Peacock's fiancé pacing the floor and swinging a piece of lead piping.
"Ah, Plum; I've been looking for you. We need to talk."

Plum's heart sank as he felt the tension start to rush back into his body.


Miss Scarlett stood in the Study, in front of the Black Falcon. The dagger in her hand pressed against one of the sapphire eyes, trying to prise the jewel from its socket.
"Why won't it come out!" she exclaimed.

She was so engrossed in her actions that she did not notice the wall behind her slowly start to separate and an eerily lit figure step out of it.

"What do you think you are doing?"

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Miss Scarlett spun around to find the doctor standing right behind her. They stood opposite each other for a few moments, not saying a word. Black held the lit candle between them and Scarlett held the dagger near her chest. With his gaze fixed, Black put his hand over Scarlett's, closed on it firmly and removed the dagger.

Scarlett pursed her lips. Slitting her eyes, she snatched the candlestick from Black's hand and stomped out of the room.

Black shook his head and sat at his desk. "The trap has to work…" he muttered.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. "Come in." Black called.

"Excuse me monsieur," Yvette said as she stood in the entrance "But the beds have been turned as you requested."

"Thank you Yvette. If you could please ask Hogarth to lock up the rest of the house and then fetch the coats of those leaving; then I will inform our guests that it is time to retire."

The two left the room together. Yvette spoke to Hogarth who stood in the hallway and then headed towards the Hall. Black walked over to the gong and struck it.

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One by one, the guests gathered around him. Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard appeared first, from the Library. Miss Peach and Mrs. White came out of the Lounge followed shortly by Miss Scarlett from the Conservatory. Reverend Green then arrived from the Dining Room just before the remaining three guests left the Billiard Room.

"My dear friends" Black said with the slightest hint of bitterness. "It is time for the house to be locked up and for us all to retire to our rooms; so we will unfortunately have to say goodnight to Emily, Graham and Robert."

The party all meandered slowly down the corridor, towards the Hall. As they walked, the guests made idle conversation by talking about some of the expensive items they had spotted during the evening. Dr. Black tried to hide a smile.

As they reached the entrance to the Hall, Yvette met them with the three guests' coats. Everyone said goodbye to the leavers and as Black showed them out, the others headed up the main staircase.

"That was an eventful night." Reverend Green said as he wondered what he would read before bed.
"Definitely was." Mustard muttered, suddenly aware that he was missing several items from his jacket.
"I hope I'll sleep okay." Plum worried.
"I think I'll sleep alright." White joked as she took another swig from her hipflask.
"I'll be glad to see a new day." Scarlett breathed, running her fingers through her hair.
"Me too." Elizabeth remarked before realising that she was agreeing with her stepdaughter for the first time that night.

Behind them in the Hall, Black closed the main door to the house and Hogarth locked it behind the retreating figures outside.

"Have you locked the whole house?" Black asked the two servants beside him.
"Yes Sir." Hogarth replied in his deep voice.
"Thank you both for your hard work tonight. You may go to bed now."
"Thank you Sir." both Hogarth and Yvette said together before leaving the room and heading upstairs to their rooms at the top of the house.

Black walked to the bottom of the staircase and looked around at the darkening hallway.
"The trap is set. Now to see who is caught…"

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