Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
The word body, quite rightly, when articulated to police forces, tends to bring large numbers of them into your house. So it was this time—half of them seem to spend more time here than at the police HQ, so I suppose I should be used to it.
Danny gave a statement while several of them examined the pile of bones. Tom explained that he’d lived in the house thirty years and that the cellar had ended as far as he knew with the wall we’d knocked through. The look the police inspector gave him didn’t show he actually believed him. But surely, if he’d walled up a body there he could have disposed of it by now and certainly wouldn’t have invited the plod to walk all over it.
It took them a few hours to photograph and examine the remains, which they suggested had either been wearing a very coarse cloth or been in some sort of sack. It also appeared they’d been there for a large number of years, which didn’t exactly exclude Tom from putting them there but at least created a doubt in the minds of the police that he was the perpetrator of some heinous crime.
The forensic pathologist was pretty sure they were very old, meaning more than fifty years, but he also said that a hole in the skull tended to suggest the cause of death. We therefore had what appeared to be an old murder on our hands.
When they carried the remains out, Simon said quietly to me, “You not going to try and resurrect that one, then?”
“So she can tell us how she died?” I asked a bit louder.
“How d’you know it’s a female skeleton?” asked an alert policewoman.
“Just a hunch—I’m going to be fifty percent right anyway.”
She looked suspiciously at me. “You didn’t examine the body then?”
“I’m a biologist not an anatomist, besides I was up in the kitchen making you lot cups of tea—it’s just a guess.”
“My wife tends to sense these things,” said Simon, almost as if he was apologising for me or making it sound like an affliction.
“Oh,” the WPC said sceptically.
“What did you want me to say, it’s a female aged twenty six, called Hannah Smith, who was killed because she was pregnant and the squire who lived here shot her before she could tell his wife?”
She smirked at me, “If you tell me the date of the murder, it would help.”
“November the fifth, eighteen seventy nine.” I spoke without any thought at all and seemed to almost be in a trance as I said it.
“You all right?” asked the young policewoman touching my arm.
I took a deep breath, “I think so, why?”
“What did you just tell me?” she asked.
“That it was a woman.”
“No, after that,” she pressed.
“I don’t know—phew—it’s hot in here, Si...” I felt myself becoming very dizzy and I think Simon grabbed me. I woke up sitting on the floor having upchucked over myself. Lovely—not.
The young copper had written down what I’d said but I had no idea what that was, however, Sherlock Watts and Simon remembered enough for them to write it down as well.
Because I’d just been in hospital, Simon made me go to bed and called our GP who popped in at tea time.
“You seem okay, apart from a bit breathless so keep using the inhalers. What brought on the faint?”
“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
“Knowing you, Lady C, I’d believe a lot more than I would from most people.”
So I told him.
“D’you get these things regularly?” he asked.
“D’you mean the faints or the psychic stuff?”
“No, thankfully, nor do I get headaches or have I suffered any head injuries.”
“Cathy, I’m aware you’re a bit special—you’ve done healing on me and I know Ken has used your skills several times. So some sort of maid got murdered because the wicked squire had his way with her?”
“I don’t know, possibly—it wasn’t that unusual in those days and the law supported the wealthier citizens rather than the poor—so no change there then.”
He gave me an amused look, “You are the wealthier class here, Lady Cameron.”
“So they tell me, but I’m still just an educated peasant in truth.”
“And all this emerged because of this little fellah,” he said picking up the kitten who’d curled up in my lap.
“Her, she’s a little queen—isn’t that what they call female cats?”
“When they’re pregnant, I believe so.”
“Hopefully, we’ll take steps to prevent that—don’t want history repeating itself, do we, Brambs?” Dr Smith handed her back to me and she sat purring in my lap again.
“You seem okay, so I’ll be off.” The doctor rose from the side of my bed. “If you feel ill, let me know—okay?”
“Of course.” I smiled at him but the look he gave me showed he didn’t believe a word of it. “So you’re not going to lock me up as insane or order a series of brain scans?”
“No,” he shook his head more as if in disbelief than answer to my questions. “Apart from your lung problem—which is healing—you’re as sane as anyone else I know.”
“Thank you,” I said and the wetness in my eyes showed the jest in my voice wasn’t entirely honest.
“I mean it, Cathy.” He squeezed my shoulder and left. The kitten and I went back to sleep until Simon came up with a tray with some dinner for me—roast pork with all the trimmings. Bramble squeaked when he took her away, I think she thought it was for her.
The next morning, I felt much better and Trish and Livvie wanted to play detectives and pestered me at breakfast to find out more about the person in the cellar. The police phoned to say the remains looked very old and they weren’t looking for anyone in connection with it.
Then the paper called. I told them if they could wait a couple of days we’d have more information for them and they’d have an exclusive if they held off as we asked.
“Things seem to happen to you and in that house, don’t they?” said their star reporter John Jackson.
“Nothing happened to me, Mr Jackson.”
“But you were there, when they found the body?”
“I live here, Mr Jackson, as you well know. Now you can either have some patience for me to do some research and then have the benefit of it, or you can go and pay with yourself, like you usually do, and I’ll talk to another paper.”
“You have such a way with words for a boy, Lady Cameron.”
“That’s factually incorrect, Mr Jackson as you well know.”
“Just sweet-talkin’ you, Lady C, just sweet-talkin’.”
“Well before I become diabetic from your mellifluousness, Mr Jackson, goodbye.”
“What does that mean?”
“Look it up—I know you’ve recorded this conversation—goodbye.” I put the phone down and said to the girls. “C’mon, let’s go to the museum.”
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