“If Mr. Biggins would step up…”
The man did so without question.
“Last week it came to my attention that there were a few dodgy dealings going on amongst my acquaintances. Of course, I had been notified about such things by the police, and, although not easy to spot, I kept on the look-out. It was a damn shame when I happened upon whom they had spent many months searching for.
“Later that same day, my dear wife here gave me her suggestion of a lovely dinner party, infused with murder. She even requested I help her choose our would-be ‘killers’. Imagine how surprised I was! It fitted perfectly in with my supposed plans. Well, instantly I put my plan into action, and here you are. Hand-picked by myself, present is Mr. Thomas Biggins. Sir, if you would continue…”
Alexandra glanced over at Mrs. Winters; she was hiding her confusion under a mask of interest and marital-admiration.
Clearing his throat, Thomas Biggins looked around at those assembled. There was no longer any trace of fear or diffidence in his eyes.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me first applaud you for your acting. I was half tempted to send a message out to some acquaintances of mine, asking to be removed. Now, and I’m sorry for the necessary mask, but I must introduce myself properly.” His voice rose to that of one from high authority. “I am Detective Inspector Whitting from Scotland Yard, investigating some trouble in the countryside around London. My entire assignment has been based in connection with the growing predicament of thieving, murdering bunches of hooligans. And now, after receiving a telegram from Mr. Winters, I set myself the task of observing all of you when I arrived: the inhabitants of the manor and their companions. I shall tell you that this is what I found in relation to both…”
The constabulary were already here? Alexandra pondered cheekily to herself. And the first of the deceased. How ironic. Yet, that was the idea, wasn’t it, Sir?
“Police have been spending far too much of the resources that we have attempting to locate the notorious leader of the hooligans of ‘GoldenFire’. We are under the impression that he has been using adolescences and young adults to steal, fix the races, ruin businesses, and other such unsavoury activities, resulting in profits being diverted from those who are worthy to the high crook himself. Until very recently, the force has been looking for someone who also holds the reins of a prostitution and drug band.”
There were several horrified gasps from around the table, and much quiet muttering, but, although her gasp was the loudest, there was something not quite right about Daphne’s reaction. Alexandra tried to figure out what it was that was hidden deep in her eyes.
“Indeed. This man must be brought swiftly to justice. However, the knowledge we uncovered, from Mr. Winters here, put the villain in a different light, but was valuable information towards his capture nevertheless.
“It seems, ladies and gentlemen, that there is not one black mastermind, but two, lovers in cohorts; as, so you see, GoldenFire’s leader is less of a himself, but more of a young herself.”
“What?” Mrs. Winters cried out. “GoldenFire’s superior is a lady like myself?”
“With a name like that,” Mr. Stones remarked, “how did we not see the truth?”
“Oh yes, just like yourself.” Inspector Whitting smiled warmly, even though, behind his warmth there was a torrent of nasty revelation just waiting to erupt forth. “A young lady who happens-”
The scrape of Daphne’s chair being pulled back stopped the Inspector in mid-sentence.
“Excuse me,” she muttered, “I require some fresh air.”
The inspector’s deep eyes widened, and he gazed across at Alexandra, definite, proud, yet asking for help. There was a secret message in the little glance; there was something of the concealed urgency that nobody else would care to entrust to her.
Alexandra immediately understood.
They both watched Daphne walk slowly past her mother’s curious eyes, heading for the small doorway and open air. Under the pretence of clearing up the plates, starting with her mistress’, Alexandra headed for the door too. Inspector Whitting cleared his voice, and loudly continued.
“As I was saying, and it is not easy for me to announce dreadful things like these to such a nice household, but the lady-boss who has stumped the police for months happens to be in this room…heading for the door.”
As all eyes turned to her, and on hearing those words, Daphne broke into a frantic run; despite the black heels on her shoes, she managed to be quite fast. Luckily, Alexandra had snuck, due to her forgettable airs as a servant, to an alcove beside the door, and carefully caught the girl as she passed. The maid may have been the younger of the two, but she’d had years of scrubbing floors, and washing and drying the household’s clothes, to strengthen her upper arms.