Read Part 1 of the story here.
Read Part 2 of the story here.
Read Part 3 of the story here.
The first thing I saw, when I opened my eyes, was John looking down at me. Toby then popped his head up by the side of me and licked my face.
“Where am I?”
“Back at the Inn” replied John. “Are you feeling better? You gave us all a scare.”
“Oh no, where’s that old woman I was talking with, I’m sure she poisoned me.”
“Oh, don’t be silly” replied John, “besides, we have a date with her and the rest of the village in the downstairs bar in half an hour. She has some important news for you. Are you fit enough to come down for some dinner and meet everyone?”
After taking a shower, I was feeling better and hadn’t realised that I’d only passed out for about an hour and a half. John informed me that he had been out walking Toby, looking for me, and had heard a call for help from the garden where I had passed out. They’d managed to get me back to the Inn, although I could not recall any of it. The local doctor had paid me a visit and declared that I had a slight case of sun stroke. I was quite nervous walking downstairs to the bar, almost felt embarrassed by what had happened, but John had informed me that the mystery of the ‘Murder at the Vicarage’ was about to be solved.
Everybody in the bar seemed to know that I had passed out. They were all concerned. I managed to eat something and was told to drink plenty of fluids while the other residents of the village gathered in the bar. Twenty minutes later everyone, apart from the old woman, were present.
“She’s not going to arrive, is she?” I asked.
“She’ll be here, I promise” replied John. “Besides, she’s the one with all the answers.”
As if by magic she appeared in the doorway of the bar. The hairs on my arms stood up with fear and I suddenly felt cold and shivered. She looked at everybody around the room, her last glance was at me, and a smile appeared across her face.
“I’m so glad you are feeling better Mr Roberts, let me solve this mystery for you and put your mind at rest once and for all. It all makes perfect sense now. I’ve spoken with the staff here at the Inn, and various residents of the village, and what I am about to tell you and everyone else here this evening will all make perfect sense.”
She walked towards me in complete silence. Even the sound of the birds singing their evening chorus outside seemed to stop.
“I’ll be very frank with you and everyone else here Mr Roberts. You see it’s all very simple, so let me begin.”
She picked up a fresh glass of water from the table, took a few sips, and coughed to clear her throat.
“The two staff you saw carrying the rolled up carpet to the car. Very simple, my dear. As you know, this Inn is dog friendly. After all it’s the only reason John and yourself booked to stay here, so you could bring Toby. Accidents happen and, unfortunately, one of the other resident’s dog’s had made rather a bad mess on some carpet in the lounge, so it had to be taken away. That evening the lounge was closed while some of the staff moved furniture around so the carpet could be lifted. It was a long job and they did not want to disturb any of the residents, so the carpet was removed just after midnight. All you saw, that night, Mr Roberts were two members of staff putting a rather soiled carpet in the back of a car.”
“But I haven’t seen that car since that night”, I shouted.
“That’s because the car belonged to a member of staff who has been off-duty today. Please don’t interrupt, Mr Roberts, there will be plenty of time for questions once I finish.”
She took another sip of water.
“As for the antique candlestick, it was on loan to the Inn for a wedding held here a few days ago. It belonged to Mrs Peacock, who cleaned it up when she got it back. The dark spot you saw when looking at it through her window was simply a food blemish. Her eye sight is poor and she’d not worn her spectacles when cleaning it, so she had not spotted the blemish.”
The room remained silent. Nobody took their eyes off the old woman.
“The missing curtain cord was another dog related mystery. It was found in the bed belonging to the very same dog who had soiled the carpet in the lounge. It seems, Rusty, has a liking for ropes and cords as he loves to play ‘tug-of-war’ with his owner.
There was some laughter in the room before she continued.
“Now, on to the lead-piping you discovered in my Nephew’s workshop. He’s a part-time chef here at the Inn. In fact, he makes the Danish Pastries along with Mrs White, the Head Cook. He brings home any leftovers. They are delicious and he often eats them when working on repairing cars and motorcycles. However, what you saw him with that morning when you walked past the kitchen was a black pudding. After all you do enjoy the full English Breakfast here at the Inn, don’t you, so what would a full English breakfast be without black pudding?”
She smiled at me and continued.
“Murder at the Vicarage…the gun shot and the scream you heard as you walked past last night? Quite simply the Reverend Green, his granddaughter Miss Scarlet, and his neighbour Professor Plum, all watching a murder-mystery on the fifty inch television screen with sound boom-bar Colonel Mustard left to them on his departure to live in Canada. So there you have it, Mr Roberts, mystery solved.”
There was a round of applause and the room became alive again. Even the evening chorus, outside, began again.
“Now I must leave and be on my way” announced the old woman. “I’ve had a call from my sister in St Margaret Mead informing me that a Blogger has lost their inspiration. Oh I do enjoy solving a mystery.”
“But before you go, Miss Marple, I must thank you for solving this mystery for me”, I announced.
The old woman turned around and smiled at me.
“My dear, I never did tell you my name, did I? It’s Maple, dear, Miss Maple. You know, like the maple leaf on the national flag of Canada.”
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