As always, Mrs. Winters was the first to take control of the situation.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are English, and we never surrender our traditions. Bring on the main course!”
Cook and two of the neatest scullery maids stumbled in, bearing the weight of a giant slaughtered turkey between them. From the kitchen gossip, Alexandra had managed to glean the information that it had been cooked in newly-imported Burgundy wine, seasoned with the finest herbs: rosemary, garlic, coriander, chives from around the estate and its gardens, and was displayed alongside fresh mint for pallet-cleansing, and roasted vegetables.
The drink of choice was more Burgundy wine, together with the champagne, of course.
There’s nothing like a meal for the Winters to show off, Alexandra pondered to herself. It seemed Rhaïd was of similar opinion.
“So much for all the discrete,” he muttered to his neighbour, Mr. Stones. The latter simply gazed at the food as his eyes bulged.
Whilst the company ate, Alexandra looked on, a little jealous. She received sufficient meals at her place in the staff kitchen, but could not deny that her mouth was watering as she set her eyes upon the quantity of food placed in front of the guests… A large summation of which would be wasted; thrown to the dogs over being given to the lower class workers.
Halfway through her plate, Daphne resigned to her character’s hold, and let the play march onwards, rather hysterically.
“Well, Mummy, if we’re all alone, without outside help, (and that murderer could be any one of us), and if there’s nothing that none of us can do, that we can achieve, and if there’s nowhere to go-”
“Well, surely we can’t leave now,” Azura commented.
“Ms. Peterson, let me finish! If there’s nowhere to go…well, I’m afraid. You see, the killer could strike again anytime…” she admitted. It was a sorry end to what could have been a remarkable speech.
“That is what the killer wants you to say; you are playing into his hands.” Cynthia delved into the conversation with their character’s line, before Azura could even open her large, painted mouth. The actress bristled at being overshadowed.
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not take their fruits,
Who knows on what soil they fed
Their hungry, thirsty roots?”
It was Daphne who quoted to the shocked silence that hung around her. “It is a piece of poetry by Christina Rossetti, I remember Miss Clapham teaching it to me, and I think it rather suits our situation.”
“All poetry aside, girl, if there are going to be murders in my house, I would like some answers,” demanded Mr. Winters.
“I find that answers are often best found if one searches for them oneself, Sir. Nevertheless, I think that I could offer a hand. As a long-time friend of the family, I may only be a spectator to these events, but I know something of Moscow Mysteries, having lived there for a year or two; I know something of murders too. I think that a motive is the first thing we should look for. I say that she has a very good reason for snuffing out this poor soul.”
Rhaïd Mahalle pointed a dark finger threateningly in Ms. Peterson’s direction.
“Me?” the lady screeched. “I have told you before: I am not the culprit for this terrible death. I do not appreciate the way you point that finger at me!”
“If you played no part in the murder, then why do you give such a harassed reaction? Why does a criminal run from the scene of the crime?” In contrast, Rhaïd spoke with calm authority. “You see, ma’am, you wanted this man dead because he didn’t believe your son was ill, and he wanted to stop his brother from going into ruin when giving money to a false cause.”
“Indeed,” Ms. Peterson said curtly, trying to ignore the biting anger gnawing at her insides. “Still, it doesn’t mean that I would commit a murder in order to get my way. Feelings and actions are able to exist outside each other, and their orbits do not often collide so violently.”
“It seems you would do such a thing…” Alexandra heard Cynthia mutter under her breath as the maid passed by, checking that every guest had what he or she required, meal-wise. The guests seemed to be getting whatever else they required by their own hands…