The sun hung low over the tree line birds flew and the sound of voices heard in the Dell. The land almost dry at the edges of the Mire as police teams searched every inch.
” Danger is John you lads are very near the heart of this bog. May be sun has dried the spread of the soft part all up but the land is but a march vibrating under footfall. Be careful man nothing is worth dying for.”
” My men are experts in this area sir Andrew but treasure is the last thing on my mind .”
“Sorry.I dont understand you now. ”
” That girl Alison Gibbs that served in your employ is dead sir. She never left this house. Her remains are out there someplace. ”
” Good God sir you mean someone murdered her,Why?”
” She told her killer of the treasure is my guess.”
The call went up at that same moment and after just four hours her remains had been located.
“Hello Horatio. Died of a large bang on the head. Broken scull. Some one with a heavy arm. ” Panted the overworked police pathologist.
” Thanks Doctor Dee. My hunch is right you see. ”
“John as long as I have known you your hunch is always right. See you back at the Yard .Oh! your lads are finger printing a large ball hammer head found above the victim just a meter down in the earth. Enough for now will know more when I have her loins on my table. Later then”
The afternoon went slowly on the team muddy and tired transported back to base .
“So who killed her then?”
” Wait for fingerprints we can only hope enough proof is left on a hammer 12 years in the earth. ”
“But you have a hunch who did it.”
“Your ghost sir Andrew. ”
“My sister could not have dragged a body as a ghost. ”
” Your sister is dead sir no place in this case. You see someone wanted you to walk into a trap set for you. See that mark in your carpet. ”
“Faintly but no chest in my time sat on that spot.”
“Some place in this wood panel is a catch. I have traced it all over and nothing. “Proclaimed the Detective.
“A door you mean. ”
” Yes exactly it was perhaps a priests hiding hole built by Catholic workman long ago. Usually built near a fireplace so the victim chased by Crown could keep warm in winters. Small room just enough to sleep flat out in. The family would feed him .”
” Catholics we were long ago yes. Same as all older families all changed over to Anglican when King Henry Tudor ordained his own church. ”
“There. This candle holder moves.Watch out sir Andrew.”
“My word your right a space behind it. Hardly used in centuries until of late someone used it to spy. That mark on your carpet fits this door opening.”
“Ladder in here John.”
The Detective climbed into the attics and used his torch with the new bulb Dee had fetched for him. In the ray of the torch light a bed was unmade and bread lay in slices on a plate with very stale jam. No one had been there in years as mold set on the bed blanket and plate told of time gone by. He reached down to pick up a shiny disc. It was in close light a button from a soldiers jacket.
“So John the 3rd Light Infantry first world war uniform. ”
“That food is less than 3 weeks old Sir Andrew .No ghost here. See this pot it contains theatre grease .It shines in the dark. Who ever played your sister hid up in that attic used the ladder to reach the stairs and perform her role to appear before you. We are looking for an actress who is somehow connected to the dead girl who worked here. ”
“My word what ever else.?”
“More is the case .Your ghost is exposed but now work out why she performed is far more interesting than her act.”
“She was after the treasure then.”
” Yes but more to this than treasure. Ill get to it straight soon. ”
Back in his office in Londons Met he called Dee.
“Yes two clear prints. Both belonging to Mrs Elsie Banks of The Strolling players company London.”
“Pick her up Harris and book her for murder.”
” Bit of info for you Horatio.”
“All ears Dee come in.”
” That body was moved some weeks before we found it. ”
” I know .You see dead by a fall from a ladder her mother buried her at night in the gardens. Then when we came to search she had to move her daughter again out of our way but she could not have know the full extent of my search plan.”
“You have been doing your homework Johnny boy. ”
“Mrs Elsie Banks is an old friend .I arrested her twice for fraud. Her child in care while she served time in Holloway prison. ”
” That child was her that worked for your Sir Andy then?”
” The very one. Soon as your fingerprints came to light i had it worked out.”
“That army button then, explain that?”
” Elsie was playing at the Dukes stage and played a soldiers moll .That great coat she still had on racing to find Sir Andrews treasure. ”
” Did she find it then.”
“She did and so did I. ”
” What.You have it here old son. ”
He smiled as he opened the desk drawer and took out a box.
“Go on man whats in it.”
“Here take it.”
The good doctor did as asked and to his surprise took out a broken rusted iron key.
” What will it fit in this state Horatio?”
“A good question but I know the answer. It connects to a bank box belonging to Sir Andrew now. He is as we speak, on his way here. ”
Sir Andrew on a stick managed to arrive safe at Detective James office.
‘So which bank is it John?”
” You tell me Sir Andrew. ”
“I beg your pardon.”
” You may but your under arrest for murder Sir Andrew.”
” Your maid found out about that key .I fond the box in your attic and before her and her mother could get to that bank you threw the girl down stairs killing her stone dead. You then set her body on a sack and dragged her into the garden. For over a year she lay under your roses.Then hearing from me about the search you panicked and reburied the body in the dry march. That hammer head you had kept and used it now to frame her mother if body was found by us. ”
“What rubbish. Why would I do anything like that. ”
He smiled and took up the phone. “Send in Elsie.” was all he asked of Harris next door.
Elsie was marched in in handcuffs she told her part of this story as mistress to Sir Andrew who owed her more money than said. She found her daughter a placement in his service but he did not know the relationship to the mother.Between them they found the clues and as the key as found Sir Andrew overheard the plan and decided to act. Mother was back on stage, girl faced Sir Andrew and he killed her. Mother than appeared to soften the old boy up and find her daughter. When discovery came that she was indeed dead a mother lost her temper in grief and tried to kill Sir Andrew by poisoning his food. Result he lost control of his legs.
‘Arrest both of them book Andrew for murder and her for attempted murder .”
‘ Hate to ask Horatio but how do we know the account. ”
” We have it Dee. Here across the page 78. This history of his family .Page 78 line 6 and 090 in the margin. Try any combination may well work. Bring the car around. ”
‘Yes Sir. ”
The oldest bank in the world of Medici fame held the account. 090786 opened the safety box and before their gazes lay on a blue satin cloth a sparkling necklace of pink diamonds best ever seen. The setting of Stuart silver edged with gold and six exactly same sized large pink diamonds with lesser size around chain. The bank had it valued at 226 million pounds. To the Banks grateful thanks Detective John James placed the lid down and locked it.
‘Thank you .I do suspect another 500 years may pass by before that box is opened again by another relative of the owner now serving life in Wandsworth prison. ”
End of story hope you found it an entertaining read.
Yours sincerely Sir Kevin.
Copy right Kevin Parr Bt 2020.