For those who haven't been following the story, the first four parts are here.
Part 5: Rebecca
First, I have deleted the last paragraph of my previous segment, as it contradicted something that had come before.
At his side table in the lounge, Harris turned a page of his paper and glanced over it at Miss Black and Private Peacock. Their heads were tight together as though sharing secrets, but they didn’t seem to be in agreement. He watched the girl’s startled reaction when Professor Plum crossed briskly from the doorway and touched her on the shoulder.
“The Inspector would like to speak with you, Miss Scarlett. Are you well?” he added, at her start. “Do you need to lie down? I can put the Inspector off.”
“No, no,” the girl said quickly, with another look at Russell Peacock. She rose, pale but composed, and walked quickly to the door. Behind her Peacock made as though to get up, checked himself, and sat looking confused and helpless.
Scarlett pushed open the door of the study in time to see the Inspector put something into his lap. Her frown came and went almost too quickly to see.
“I’ve come to make a statement,” she announced.
“Yes?” said the Inspector, seeing she meant something more than that she had come to answer his questions. He waited in the quiet, attentive manner that often brought people to speak more freely than they had intended.
“I killed Col. Mustard.”
“Yes?” he repeated, hiding his shock at her calm declaration.
“He attempted to force his way into my room late last night,” she said. “I beat him off with the hearth-broom, but he threatened to come back with the means to force me to, to see him,” she faltered, unable to say more. “So I took up the poker and followed him, and”—her confession was cut off as the door slammed open.
“She’s telling a lie!” Peacock burst out as soon as he was inside. “She never killed that vile old man.”
“And how do you know that?” Clueso considered the young pair, each pale and desperate, and wondered for a moment if they had worked together to rid the neighborhood of an annoyance.
“She could not have killed him, because I did.”
That got Clueso’s full attention, but didn’t leave matters any clearer. “So you returned to the house and strangled the Colonel?” Clueso asked, watching closely for reactions. Miss Black drew in a breath sharply, but Peacock had already answered before she could speak.
“Yes sir, I did.”
“Why?” The Inspector silenced the girl with a look, though she now seemed to relax, as though reassured. He remembered that she had found the body, and may well know how he died. Apparently she hadn’t thought to tell her young man.
“He—I—” The young man floundered for a telling moment, and Clueso held up a hand.
“Never mind, Private. You make a poor liar.” He turned to Miss Black again. “And you? How did you kill the man? Though at least you appear to know why,” he added dryly.
“I did not kill him,” she answered promptly. Her confidence in Peacock restored, Clueso could see she no longer felt the need to confess. He opened his mouth to press her further, when the door flew open once again.
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2014