It's in the Cards (6)

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It's in the Cards

Part 6

A flapper

Thompson opened the door and told me father was waiting for me in his study, I ran through the door and saw him standing there.

'My dear girl,' he said as he opened his arms.

'Oh Father…' I said as I dissolved into the tears that had been threatening to come since Andrew fell. I stayed in his arms for about half an hour, crying and blaming myself for what had happened, he reassured me, as Nell had done that it wasn't my fault and carried on comforting me, as he had done when my mother died. Mary was woken up, against my wishes, and helped me to bed, she wanted to stay with me all night, in case I needed anything but I wouldn't hear of it, she needed her sleep as much as I did. I woke from a nightmare in the wee small hours to find Charlie beside my bed, he'd heard me calling out and came to make sure I was all right, telling me that ‘no one gave his sister nightmares and got away with it'.

I woke later in the morning and called for Mary, she told me that my father had said that I was not to be disturbed for anything and that the Inspector had called and asked me to visit him at the police station. Apparently, my father had told him I was in no fit state to go anywhere, so they'd compromised and I was to phone the inspector at some point today. Mary asked me if I wanted my breakfast in bed, Mrs Phillips was happy for me to have a tray with bacon, eggs and all my favourites bought up, I thanked her and asked that I have it in the dining room, I couldn't hide in my room for ever. I made my way downstairs and found Father and Charlie still there; they discreetly tried to hide the newspapers they were reading.

'I know Andrew's death will be headlines of the papers, there's no need to hide it,' I admonished them.

'I know m'dear, but it's been a nasty shock for you, I want to protect you from more unpleasantness,' Father replied, I smiled my thanks at him, I may be a modern girl, but even they need reassurance from their father's occasionally. Thompson bought in my breakfast; I hadn't realised just how hungry I was so I asked for more toast and tea.

'I'm going to write and offer my condolences to Penelope Carmichael; I doubt we'll be welcome after everything that's happened' he said. I nodded.

'I doubt she'll let me through the door or accept a letter written by me, so can you add my condolences to yours?' I asked, Father promised me would.

'I'm going to my club tonight and chat to some of the fellows there, see what I can find out about what Andrew's been up to' Charlie started.

'No, Charlie, please, I don't want anything to happen to you,' I said.

'I know, but I'm not going to play detective like you, I'll just be listening to gossip, you know, see if he had gambling debts or woman trouble, that kind of thing' he replied. I nodded in defeat, I was sure Charlie could look after himself but even so, I was still worried.

'Talking of detectives, that Tempest fellow wants you to call him. I'm giving you a friendly piece of advice m'dear, leave the detecting to the police. I know you and Nell have been sleuthing into Daisy's death, but I really think you should let it be, by all means give that Tempest fellow any information and gossip you think relevant but, don't go looking for trouble' he looked at Charlie 'that goes for you too, you two are all I have left' he said. Charlie and I agreed we wouldn't make trouble, suitably chastened I left the dining room and went to telephone Daniel, he told me I needed to read and sign my statement, so I told him to stop by the house and I would do as he asked. We agreed a time for him to call and I went upstairs to get changed. Mary came up with me and she told me about her afternoon with her friend Ivy, Rose Devonish's maid. She told me that Ivy had said that a letter that had been handwritten and pushed through the letterbox had upset Rose, who'd gone out that afternoon and returned upset and angry, declaring that ‘She wouldn't get away with what she'd done'. I thanked Mary and gave her the bonus out of my gambling winnings. I gave what she'd said some serious thought, did she mean me when she'd said ‘She won't get away with what she's done' but why kill Andrew, I knew him but not well, it's not like we were lovers and nor were he and Rose, as far as I knew. What was it Daniel had said, poison is a woman's weapon, if she wanted to kill me why not invite me to tea and poison it.

I really wanted to consult my cards, but part of me wanted to lock them in my bureau draw, but after what had happened, it seemed prudent to stay one-step ahead. I grabbed my cards and went downstairs to the Morning Room to wait for Daniel. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, Thompson was admitting Daniel, I asked for coffee to be bought to the Morning Room.

'How are you this morning?' he asked.

'Not so good, I can't help feeling this is my fault,' I replied.

'I very much doubt it is, our investigations are still ongoing and we've interviewed everyone who was at the casino. As far as I know he had no debts, he was liked by everyone and was just a likeable fellow, the phrase I kept hearing all night was 'Why would anyone kill Andrew, he was such a nice chap' I just don't know what to think,' he said. I poured the coffee that Thompson had bought in.

'Do you think it was because he was telling me and Nell stories about Geoffrey, Rose and Peony?' I asked, Daniel shook his head.

'I doubt it,' he replied, I told him what Mary had told me about Rose and her letter but he didn't think it had anything to do with his case, it sounded like a spat between two selfish women but I wasn't so sure, something was niggling at me.

'Do you mind if I ask my cards, something is not right here and if someone is after me I want to know why' I said. I got my cards out of my bag and without waiting for an answer, I shuffled and dealt a spread.

I laid The Moon, the 7 of Swords, the Tower, The Devil, The Lovers, Death and the 5 of Cups. I gasped.

'There's going to be another death' I said.

Daniel leaned over my shoulder.

'I remember a little of that reading you did when we first met, these two' he pointed at the Moon and 7 of Swords, 'and these two,' then pointed at the 5 of Cups and Death, 'were in that reading; you said that Death and the 5 of Cups indicated actual death, is that right?' he said. I nodded.

'Yes, it does, from what I can see in this reading, the Moon is saying, beware of things that hide in shadows, deception is at the middle everything here, so don't take anything at face value'. I started; Daniel nodded.

'I can understand that, it seems every time we get close to working it out, something diverts us away from what actually happened, Geoffrey's debts, his supposed affairs, the time he was in Washington, Rose and now Peony, I guess this is saying, don't be distracted by gossip, concentrate on the death of Daisy' he suggested.

'I agree, we are being pulled in so many different directions and following so many clues, we're losing focus on the real case, who killed Daisy and why' I replied, He pointed to the 7 of Swords

'This is the one you said represented theft' he said. I nodded.

'Yes, as well as theft it also means deceit and manipulation, which ties in very nicely with the Moon's warning, we are definitely being manipulated, but what has been stolen, there are so many things that could have been stolen, money, artworks, life even, another woman's love, there are so many things this theft could be' I said. Daniel nodded again.

'And all these things that could have been ‘Stolen' are taking us away from the real case; we've spent a lot of time and resourses looking into Geoffrey's finances, his debts, his women and their finances that we've lost track of the real case' he replied. A thought hit me like a thunderbolt.

'That is it, that's the whole problem with this case, the manipulation and deceit, someone is deliberately manipulating us, sending out ‘clues' to send us in the wrong direction, I should have seen it earlier' I exclaimed.

'I agree, we need to focus on Daisy's death now, and not get distracted by other problems with this case. So what about this Tower card?' Daniel replied.

'The Tower represents chaos, the shaking of foundations and walls of belief come crashing down, this case is going to cause all kinds of chaos, the rug is going to get pulled out from underneath someone's feet and everything they believed in is going to come crashing down' I said. Daniel looked thoughtful.

'I can see that this case is going to do that to some people, so what about the final cards' he asked.

'The Devil represents being chained to an unhealthy lifestyle, obsession, being unwilling to escape from that unhealthy lifestyle even though you are able to kick that habit and the Lovers generally means making a choice with your heart rather than your head, but together they sometimes mean an affair' I replied. Daniel sighed.

'So we're back to Geoffrey having an affair, either with Rose or Peony,' he said.

'It looks like it,' I sighed 'this whole affair is about an affair Geoffrey is having, or had, although, breaking is down into individual cards could be relevant too, gambling and womanizing are unhealthy practises, that he could break away from if he'd wanted to. Maybe he's chosen a woman with his heart and now he's in too deep, maybe it's not him who murdered Daisy but the woman he's having an affair with' I remarked. Daniel sighed in frustration.

'Why can't your cards just tell us outright who killed Daisy?' he said, I laughed.

'If it were that easy I'd have told you who killed her the night we met; unfortunately the cards don't work like that, I wish they did but they can only help you by pointing you in directions and helping you see things you may not have considered before' I replied.

'Well, that's true enough,' he said.

I looked over the cards.

'This reading is saying don't take anything at face value because there is a lot of deception and manipulation involved in this case, theft is at the heart of it but I don't know what has been stolen, The rug is going to be pulled out from under someone and their world is going to come crashing down. Obsession is also key to this case, someone can break away from what is chaining them down but may not want to, a choice has been made with the heart rather than the head and there is going to be another death,' I said.

'I guess all we can do now is wait,' Daniel said.

There was a knock at the door and Thompson poked his head round the door.

'Inspector, there is a Sergeant Moore on the telephone for you,' he said, Daniel thanked him and left to take the call. At least I knew now, not to get distracted by trivialities in this case, concentrate on finding out who killed Daisy and why. The door opened and Daniel returned, looking ashen-faced.

'They found Peony Carmichael's body in St James's Park; she slashed her wrists,' he said.

I stifled a scream with my hand.

'Oh my God, poor Penelope, first her son, now her daughter.' I stood up and went to the door 'Father, Father, come quickly,' I called. Daniel looked at me.

'What are you doing?' he asked.

'Penelope's going to need friends,' I replied. Father came bursting through the door.

'What on earth is going on?' he demanded.

'The police have just found Peony's body in the park,. Could you call Beatrice and take her to Penelope's? She's going to need all her friends at the moment,' I said, Father nodded.

'I will certainly do that,' Father put a hand on Daniel's shoulder. 'Catch the that did this, please, Penelope does not deserve this' he said, Daniel nodded.

'I'm going to come with you and formally identify Peony,' I said.

'No, don't,' Daniel started.

'I don't think you should,' Father said. I held up my hand to stop them.

'I'm not being morbid or wanting to see what happened, I don't want Penelope to go through this again, so soon after Andrew' I said. Father nodded, Daniel sighed but nodded also.

'Ok, I understand,' Daniel said.

We left the house and went our separate ways, Charlie insisted on coming with me, he said that it was not something a woman should do alone, I agreed and we both jumped into Daniel's car and left.

The park was bustling, constables were keeping onlookers away and others were looking for clues, Daniel led us to where a body was covered in a cloth. Daniel spoke to the constable and he beckoned us forward. He peeled back the cloth from her face; I noticed that she looked oddly peaceful. I looked at Daniel and nodded.

'Yes, that's Peony Carmichael' I said, Charlie put his arm around me and nodded too.

'Yes, it's Peony, ' He said as he went back to staring at her, he suddenly gasped.

'What is it, Charlie?' I asked.

'It's the collar on the dress she's wearing. Look at it, it's so old fashioned! Peony would never wear something so out of date,' he remarked. I looked as well; he was right. The high collar was at least ten years out of date, or something an older woman would wear, someone like...

'Daisy!' I exclaimed.

'Yes, just the kind of thing Daisy would have worn,' Charlie said.

'Are you both saying that this dress is Daisy's?' Daniel asked.

'No, I don't think it is Daisy's, but Peony was a Bright Young Thing. Sshe wore the latest fashions and paid a lot of money for exclusive dresses from the best Couturier's in London and Paris. Charlie's right, Peony would never been seen in a dress like this,' I replied. Daniel pondered this.

'Why wear a dress ten years out of date if you are going to commit suicide? And why slash your wrists in a park? Suicides follow a pattern, especially girls like Peony; they usually use pills or overdose on drugs like heroin or cocaine,' Daniel said.

'Peony never took drugs; her cousin died of cocaine about five years ago.' I nodded. 'She's been against drugs ever since,' Charlie remarked.

'And why kill herself now> She had everything she wanted: a fiancé, a lover, if the rumours are true, money, family who loved her, why?' I asked.

'I don't think she did. Like I said, suicides follow a pattern; girls like Peony take pills, usually with champagne, and are found in bed. Usually it's a cry for help, hoping they will be found, but....a lot of the time, nobody does, until it's too late,' Daniel said.

'You think she was murdered?' Charlie asked.

'I don't know for sure, not until the autopsy; but I agree with you, I can't see Peony wearing an out-of-date dress, and certainly not slashing her wrists in a park,' Daniel replied. He nodded at the constable, who waved two ambulance men to take Peony's body away.

'Don't worry, Inspector, I'll take Amy home,' Charlie said. Daniel nodded and led me out of the park towards the Taxi Rank.

'Take me to Penelope's house,' I said.

'Do you think that's a good idea? She still blames you for Daisy dying in her house,' Charlie said.

'Yes, I must go and see her and tell her what we've done for her,' I replied. Charlie rolled his eyes.

'Ok, if you say so,' he said.

The taxi dropped us at Penelope's house. We ran up the steps and rang the bell. After the butler took our coats, he went and told Father of our arrival.

'What are you two doing here?' he asked.

'We came to see Penelope and tell her that she need not go and identify Peony's body,' I replied.

'I've already done that, and she was most appreciative; in fact, she apologised for what she's been saying about you,' Father said.

'Will she see us, do you think?' I asked. Father nodded.

'I think so; she needs people around her, especially when the police come to interview he,r' he said. We followed him and I surveyed the room. Beatrice Stockton-Ellis was dealing with visitors and letters of condolence. Penelope's sister Marjory was comforting her. Simon was sitting next to her, with a shell-shocked look on his face. Charlie went over to him.

'Featherstonehaugh, I am so sorry,' he said, Simon looked up and seemed to recognise him.

'Thanks, old bean,' he said, Charlie sat on the arm of the sofa with his hand on Simon's back. He seemed genuinely upset, even though I knew of his proclivities, Father went over and whispered something to Marjory.

'Penelope dear, Amy's here to see you,' she said. Penelope looked up and beckoned me over.

'Amy, my dear, thank you; your father told me you went to identify Peony, to spare me more pain. I am so sorry I spoke ill of you after Daisy's death. I know sending Beatrice here to help was your idea; she's been such a comfort, as has your father. Please accept my apologies,' Penelope said.

'Of course I will, and I am so sorry about Peony, and Andrew,' I replied. Beatrice beckoned me over.

'I think your detective friend needs to see this.' She handed me a piece of paper. 'I found it in the bureau when I was looking for a letter opener when the condolence letters started coming in,' she explained. I opened the letter and read it, open-mouthed.

'I don't understand' I said, Beatrice nodded.

'I know for a fact that is not his writing', she replied.

I took the note from Beatrice and read it properly.

'Come to Crockfords, I need to see you about what to do next, Geoffrey.'

Beatrice was adamant that it wasn't Geoffrey's writing; the murderer knew that Crockfords would not tell the police who was there last night. I asked the butler to call the local station and leave a message for Inspector Tempest.

I went back into the parlour to wait for Daniel and I told Beatrice what I'd done, nothing to do now but wait. The butler announced Lord and Lady Devonish, I was surprised to see them considering they were still in mourning for Daisy. Constance Devonish paid their condolences to Penelope and Marjory, Richard just stood by the door surveying the room, watching everything that was going on, something about him made me shiver. Daniel was the next to arrive, he paid his condolences to Penelope and said he'd come by later to ask her questions about Andrew and Peony when she was feeling more like talking, he was here because he'd had a tip off about who had killed Peony. He came over to Beatrice and myself.

'Good morning, ladies, I understand you have something for me,' he said.

'I've been dealing with Penelope's correspondence, you know, letters of condolence, telegrams, callers, that sort of thing, poor Penelope hasn't got the strength at the moment, two of her children dead in two days', Beatrice shook her head. 'I was looking through the bureau for a letter opener and I found a note to Peony.' I handed the note to Daniel .'It's signed Geoffrey, but I know that is not his writing. They've tried to disguise it ,but I know Geoffrey is left-handed and has a peculiar way of writing his S. He had so many extra lessons at school and by his governesses, but he just couldn't be cured.' Beatrice explained, Daniel read the note and signed.

'It's pointless going to Crockfords to find out who she was meeting; they'll never tell me. I could try handwriting experts, but it still doesn't help unless I have something to compare it to,' Daniel replied as he put the note in a bag and put it in his pocket.

He left soon after and left Beatrice and I wondering who had sent the letter. Soon after Father and Charlie told me they were leaving, and I bade everyone farewell. I turned suddenly as I walked through the door; I felt malice aimed at me, someone wanted me dead, a murderer was in that room. I shivered and followed Father and Charlie down the steps to Father's car.

'It's Daisy's funeral tomorrow. Richard invited us just before we left; he's really anxious that we go,' Father said. I nodded. Daisy had been a good friend and a good client, so I was planning to go anyway;, in hindsight, I wish I hadn't agreed to go now.

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