Mango Murder

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Mango Murder

Post by AArdvark » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:21 pm

Mango Murder

Miss Crudknuckle took hold of the knocker and rapped on the cottage door. After a few moments she knocked again. The parcel under her arm shifted a little and she readjusted it. Inside the package was Mrs. Dagnabitt's new lime-green dress, ready for fitting. From Miss Crudknuckle's left hand dangled a large and dangerous looking pair of shears.
Reep! Reep! Reep!
The crickets in the dooryard lawn signalled a warning but Miss Crudknuckle didn't listen. She was a tall and rather gaunt woman, with a sharp nose and thinning iron-grey hair. She hesitated before using the knocker for the third time. Glancing down the street, she saw a figure approaching. It was Miss Muttonsthupper, a jolly, weather-beaten, woman of fifty.
"Good afternoon, Miss Crudknuckle!" she called out in her shrill warble. Miss Muttonsthupper had never heard of an indoor voice.
The dressmaker answered, "Good afternoon." Her voice was thin and genteel. "Excuse me," she went on, "but do you know if Mrs. Dagnabitt has gone out?"
"Don't give a tinker's shit if she has!" Miss Muttonsthupper bugled cheerfully.
"It's rather awkward, you see. I was to fit Mrs. Dagnabitt's new dress this afternoon, at three-thirty," she said.
Miss Muttonsthupper stopped and consulted her wrist watch. "It's half four now. You're late."
"Well, I've been knocking, but there doesn't seem to be any answer, so I was wondering if perhaps Mrs. Dagnabitt might have gone out and forgotten."
Miss Muttonsthupper made a noise like a tram shifting gears and walked up the path to join Miss Crudknuckle outside the cottage door.
"Why doesn't her lower class servant answer?" she demanded. "Oh, of course, it's Thursday, Marion's day out. Probably off boning that butcher's 'prentice, I expect."
She put her hands on her ample hips and surveyed the cottage. "Mrs. Dagnabitt has fallen asleep, no doubt. You just haven't made enough noise to wake her."
Seizing the knocker, Miss Muttonsthupper produced a deafening sound, rather like a trip-hammer in a steel mill. In addition, she also called out in a voice to wake the dead: "WAKE UP, YOU LAZY CRUMPET!"

"Oh dear," Miss Crudknuckle cringed at this outburst. She began edging away down the path, away from Miss Muttonstupper and her loud ways. "Perhaps Mrs. Dagnabitt has forgotten and gone out. I'll call round another time."
"Nonsense," said Miss Muttonsthupper firmly. "We'll get that dried up tart out of bed. She backed up a step, hitched her tweed skirt up above her knee and kicked out a door pane with one of her brogues. Glass shattered everywhere.
With a triumphant smile Miss Muttonsthupper reached in and unlocked the door. "Works every time," she laughed. She swung it open and gestured for Crudknuckle to enter.
Miss Crudknuckle went in. The copralites weren't on so it was dark and rather gloomy inside. A second later Crudknuckle began to scream.
There on the library floor was Mrs. Dagnabitt, dead as a dinosaur turd.

"Of course," said Miss Muttonsthupper, telling the story afterward, "I kept my head. That Crudknuckle simply screamed and wet the hall carpet. I told her to stay there while I went to fetch Constable Dickfur. She said she simply couldn't be left alone with a dead body. Well, that sort of talk wouldn't do. One has to be firm with the Crudknuckles of this world, you know, so I slapped her face, just here." She pointed to her jawline. "And Miss Crudknuckle fell on the sofa like a dropped custard. I was just going out for the constable when who do you think should come be coming up the walk but Mr. Dagnabitt."
Here Miss Muttonsthupper made a significant pause. It enabled her audience of one, the barmaid at the Chicken and Stars, to ask breathlessly, "How did he look?"
Miss Muttonsthupper sipped at her sherry and went on: "Frankly, I suspected something at once! His cheesy mustache and swanky London clothes. And he was far too calm, he didn't seem surprised in the least. And say what you like, it isn't natural for a man to wear his short-pants on the outside of his trousers. The barmaid agreed with this statement.

The police, after investigating Mr. Dagnabitt's situation, discovered that Mrs. Dagnabitt had been rich before their marriage, and that all her money went to her husband under a will made just days after their marriage. They became quite suspicious.
Miss Marble, the elderly ex-gangster who lived in the house next to the cemetery, (how convenient, said some village wags) was interviewed within an hour of the discovery of the crime.
Because of her past reputation she was usually a standby on the police suspect list no matter how often she tried to bury her past and 'lay low', as the detective novels put it.

Constable Dickfur waited in Miss Marble's parlour, nervously thumbing his notebook. He had heard the stories about her, about how at one time she had been the ruling crime boss in London and how on one occasion she had killed five members of a rival gang with nothing but rubber bands and knitting needles. Constable Dickfur wasn't sure if he believed these stories or not but it put him on edge just the same. A moment later Miss Marble entered the room and sat down on the chinz sofa.
"Constable Dickfur, how good to see you."
"Good afternoon, Ma'am. If you don't mind, I've a few questions to ask you."
"In connection with the murder of Mrs. Dagnabitt?"
Dickfur cocked his head. "Now how would you know about that, may I ask?"
"Oh, I hear things," said Miss Marble with a quiet smile. "She was found on the floor in the Library, killed by a fruit, possibly a mango."
Dickfur was startled. This was very detailed information indeed. "How on earth did you know that?" he repeated.
Miss Marble waved a negligent hand. "It's not important."
Constable Dickfur looked alarmed. "-You- didn't murder Mrs. Dagnabitt by any chance?"
Miss Marble gave Dickfur the hairy eyeball. "Oh, not I. But I happen to know Jimmy Brown, who sweeps up at the Chicken and Stars, and he overheard Miss Muttonsthupper telling Marge Piddlestik all about it."
"Ah, yes, I see." Constable Dickfur cleared his throat and tried to look important. He consulted his notebook.
"A statement was made to me by Mr. Arthur Dagnabitt, husband of the deceased. Mr. Dagnabitt says that at two-fifteen, give or take, he was rung up by you, Miss Marble, and asked if he would come over here at a quarter past three, as you were anxious to consult him about something. Now, ma'am, is that true?"
"Certainly not," she said.
"You did not ring up Mr. Dagnabitt at two-fifteen?"
"Neither at two-fifteen nor any other time."
"Ah," said Constable Dickfur, and made a tic in his notebook as if there was a check-box marked: 'did not ring up Dagnabitt'.
"What else did Mr. Dagnabitt say?" she asked.
"Mr. Dagnabitt's statement was that he came over here as requested, leaving his own house at three o'clock; that on arrival here he was informed by your lower class maidservant that you were not at home."
"That's true," said Miss Marble. "I was at a meeting at the Women's Incontinence Society."
"Ah," said Constable Dickfur again. He made another tic in his notebook, possibly in the 'incontinence' check box.
"Constable, do you suspect Mr. Dagnabitt?"
"It's not for me to say at this stage, but it looks to me as though somebody has been trying to be artful."
"Artful? Meaning Mr. Dagnabitt, of course."
"I'm not at liberty to say."
"No, Of course not. Have you consulted Colonel Mustard-Gas about this?"
"I just came from there. He said he would inform Inspector Reckthum and he would come down from London as soon as possible."

Miss Marble liked Mr. Dagnabitt. He was a small, spare man, boring and conventional, and had some individual notions of clothing. It seemed odd that he was living in the country; he had clearly lived in London all his life. Once, many years ago at a tea, he confided the reason to her. He had said, "Ever since I was small, I have always wanted to live in the country. My wife kept a fruit stand, you know. That's where we first met."
Mr. Dagnabitt knew nothing about fruit, really. He had the vaguest idea of melons, berries, or even the difference between lemons and limes. He had only a vision of a small cottage, thickly planted with sweet-smelling, brightly coloured fruit baskets. It was their lower class servant, Marion Noknese, that tended to the everyday drudgery of fertilizing, watering and generally moving earth.
The late Mrs. Dagnabitt had begun life as a scullery maid in a large house. She had left to marry the second best gardener and with him had started a small fruit stand in London. Under her supervision the stand had prospered. Not so her husband, who before long had suffered from a case of death, brought on by a pair of hedge clippers being stopped by his heart. Or vise-versa, depending how you looked at it. It was ruled an accident at the time.
His widow had carried on however, and the simple fruit stand had grown into a full shop. Later she had sold the business at a handsome price and married Mr. Dagnabitt, who was a jeweler in a small struggling business. Not long afterward he had sold up and together they had come away to the country. The profits from Mrs. Dagnabitt's fruit shop had been invested she had prospered even more.
Around that time Mrs. Dagnabitt had fallen into an obscure religion which was based on various fruit Gods. At first she had attempted tho spread the Word of Fruit to everyone and sundry, but after a few incidents with the locals she learned to keep her beliefs to herself.

It was a humdrum, everyday life. Now suddenly, murder!

Colonel Mustard-Gas was keenly interested in the case and he and Constable Dickfur had greeted Inspector Reckthum at the station when he arrived on the two-twenty train the next day.
Reckthum was a positive type of man. After hearing the facts and having a brief look at the scene of the crime he made up his mind.
"Husband did it," he said.
"You think so?"
"Quite sure. You've only got to look at him. Never showed a sign of grief. He came back to the house knowing she was dead."
Colonel Mustard-gas frowned. "Wouldn't he at least have tried to act the part of the shocked husband?"
"Not him, too pleased with himself. Some gentlemen can't act, Just look at that Bogart fellow. As I see it, Dagnabitt was just plain fed up with his wife. She'd got all the money and was a trying woman to live with, I'll wager."
"Look at how she was last summer," chimed in Constable Dickfur. "Running around the village wearing nothing but sandals and shouting: 'Behold my kumquat!' Mental, that one."
Reckthum nodded. "One of them Frooty-Loops, you said. So Dagnabitt decided to do away with her and live on her money without all the craziness."
"Yes, that could be the case, I suppose." said Mustard-Gas.
"Depend upon it, said Reckthum. "Made his plans careful, he did."
Colonel Mustard-Gas scratched his mustache. "But the thing is, he claims it was Miss Marble who called him, and that certainly isn't true. She was away at the Wetters' Institute."
"Well, that means either that he's lying or that the call was put through from a public telephone booth."
"The only two public phones in the village are at the station and the post office," said Constable Dickfur. "It certainly wasn't the Post office. Mrs. Troutbladder sees everyone who comes in. Could have been the station. The two-twenty train arrives at two-thirty and there's always a bit of bustle then."
"Hmmm, said Reckthum, "Well, perhaps the husband was deliberately got out of the way by someone else who wanted to murder Mrs. Dagnabitt?"
"Someone like who?" asked Colonel Mustard-Gas.
"Are you thinking of Ted Porkular?" asked Dickfur. "We're up against lack of motive there. He doesn't stand to gain anything."
"He's an undesirable character, though," said Mustard-Gas. "Remember that embezzlement matter a few years ago?"
"Oh he's a wrong 'un," returned Dickfur "Still, he did go to his boss and owned up to the embezzlement."
"And he -is- one of those fruity-wacks as well," said Mustard-Gas.
Dickfur nodded. "Yes, he converted to Fruitism and owned up to having pinched the money. He knew he was suspected and decided to gamble on honesty."
"Or, like he claimed, it might have been the peaches and oranges speaking through him," mused Colonel Mustard-Gas. "The whole thing's a load of manure, if you ask me."
"Will you two talk to Miss Marble at all?" asked Dickfur.
"What's she got to do with it?"
"She hears things, you know. She's a very sharp lady. You should have a chat with her."
"Yes, alright," said Reckthum, "we'll do that. One more thing, Colonel. I did some digging before I came down here. Did you know Mrs. Dagnabitt used to be a maid at Sir Nimrod Albacore's house? That's where that big jewel robbery was years ago. Emeralds, as I recall, worth a packet. They were never recovered. It happened when the Dagnabitt woman was there, though she'd have been quite young at the time. Don't think she was mixed up in in it, do you?"
Mustard-gas shook his head. "Doubt that's got anything to do with this."
"Well it just so happens that before he was married Mister Dagnabitt used to be one of those little hole-in-the-wall jewelers, just the chap for fencing stolen gems."
"She didn't even know Dagnabitt at the time," said Mustard-Gas. "As I remember, the opinion was that the son of the house was mixed up in it, Harold Albacore, young waster. Had a pile of debts, and just after the robbery they were all paid off suddenly. He claimed it was some rich woman, but there was no proof. Old Albacore even tried to cover it up, you know. He pulled in some favors and had the police called off."
"Well, It was just an idea," said Reckthum.

Miss Marble received Inspector Reckthum and Colonel Mustard-Gas in her parlour.
"Now, really, it is very kind of you gentlemen to come see me."
"Constable Dickfur told us anything you didn't know about the village isn't worth knowing." said Reckthum.
"He's too kind, but I don't know anything at all, about this murder, I mean."
"You've heard the talk about the village?"
"Of course, but it wouldn't do to repeat idle talk."
Reckthum smiled. "This isn't an official visit, you know. It's in confidence, so to speak."
"You mean you really want to know what people are saying? Whether there's any truth in it or not?"
"That's the idea." said Mustard-Gas. "I've heard there are two versions, if you understand me. To begin with, there are the people who think that the husband did it."
"That's right," agreed the inspector.
"I've heard the same," she said, "The money angle. I heard that Mrs. Dagnabitt was rich and Mr. Dagnabitt benefits by her death. In this wicked world I'm afraid the most uncharitable assumptions are often justified."
"He'll come into a tidy sum, all right," said Mustard-Gas.
"Just so. It would seem quite plausible, wouldn't it, for him to kill her, leave the house by the back way, come to my house, ask for me and pretend he'd had a telephone call from me, then go back and find his wife murdered in his absence."
The Inspector nodded. "Had they been on bad terms lately?"
Miss Marble said: "Oh, not at all."
"You know that for a fact?"
"Everyone knows that for a fact. Their maid, Marion, would have spread it round the village if they quarreled."
The inspector said: "She might not have known."
Miss Marble only gave him a knowing smile in reply.
Mustard-Gas went on: "And then there's Ted Porkular. A good-looking young man. All the girls want him. Quite embarrassing really. Of course, there's been some talk about him. He's a frootie loop too, just like she was."
"He was coming to see her often, I've heard," said Miss Marble. "Both of them being disciples of Latter-Day Fruits. And I'm sure there was no reason to believe that there was anything more to it than that, but you know how people are."
Mustard-Gas nodded. "Quite a lot of people thought that Ted Porkular and Mrs. Dagnabitt were boning, and that he'd asked her for a lot of money but she refused."
"Indeed?" said Inspector Reckthum.
"Yes, and Porkular -was- seen at the train station."
"And just look what Mrs. Dagnabitt was wearing when she was killed," Miss Marble added.
"What's that?"
"She was found in a kimono, not a dress." said Mustard-Gas.
Miss Marble nodded. "That sort of thing is perhaps, rather suggestive, to some people."
"Like she was ready to bone, you mean?" asked Reckthum.
"Hmmm," the inspector mused, "That might give us another motive for the husband, jealousy."
"Not really," said Mustard-Gas. Dagnabitt isn't that sort of man. If Ted Porkular was eating Mrs Dagnabitt like a fruit salad right on the living room carpet he'd simply step around them on his way to the icebox."
"Like that, eh?" asked the inspector.
"Didn't you find any clues on the scene, Colonel?" asked Miss Marble.
"People don't leave fingerprints and cigarette ash nowadays," returned Mustard-Gas."
"I suppose not, but I think this was an old-fashioned crime."
"Now what do you mean by that?" asked Reckthum.
"Just that there's no such thing as the perfect murder. I was wondering about the murder weapon, I understand she was attacked with a mango."
"Yes, it was quite gruesome," said Mustard-Gas. "The medical examiner was in the library for an hour with a squeegee."
Miss Marble blanched and put a hand to her mouth. "Oh dear!"
"She looked like a fruit roll-up," said Mustard-Gas. He saw her expression. "Sorry Miss Marble, didn't mean to upset you."
"That's all right, my stomach isn't as strong as it used to be. But if you'll excuse me gentlemen, I think I'd like to lie down for a bit."
"Perhaps we should interview Ted Porkular next," said Reckthum to the Colonel, "find out more about this fruit business."
"An excellent idea," said Mustard-Gas."

They found Ted Porkular on the back lawn of his small cottage. He had spread a blanket on the ground and was lying naked on his back. Surrounding him was a rough circle of tropical berries, lemons and peaches. A large watermelon was held upright between his knees. He was holding a pineapple in each outstretched hand and there were two circles of pineapple slices around his eyes. He was making a noise in his throat similar to an idling motorcar.
"What the devil-" murmered Mustard-gas upon seeing the prone figure.
Reckthum cleared his throat. "Ahem! Excuse me. Mr. Porkular?"
"Ararrrararrararrra-what?" Ted opened his eyes and looked up at them through the pineapple slices. "Oh, hello gentlemen."
"I'm Inspector Reckthum and this is Colonel Mustard-Gas. We'd like to have a word with you."
"Certainly." He sat up, removed the pineapple slices from his face and let go of the watermelon. "What is it?"
"Is there someplace we could talk?"
"Indeed. Come inside to the parlour."
Ted stood up and gingerly stepped out of the ring of fruit. "Now don't worry, you lot," he said to the fruits on the blanket, "I'll be back in a bit." To the two investigators he added: "Musn't disturb them."
Reckthum and Mustard-Gas just looked at each other.

The three of them went into the back entrance of the cottage. Ted belted a dressing gown around him and they all sat down at the dining room table. Ted looked from Recthum to Mustard-Gas. "This is about Bernice Dagnabitt, isn't it."
"Yes it is."
"A terrible thing. I heard about it at the public market while I was buying strawberries. She was coming along so nicely. She was to take her first Fruit Communion this fall. So sad."
"Could you tell us anything about her murder?"
"Not really, I haven't seen her in four or five days."
"So you didn't go to her her cottage Tuesday?"
"No, I didn't go out at all that day."
"She was attacked by someone entering her home," said Reckthum. Apparently they used one of her own fruits, a mango. As near as we can determine she was sitting on the floor in her library, on a throw rug, facing away from the fruit in question when she was attacked."
"Oh dear, a mango, that's awful," said Ted. "Was she facing West?"
"West?" Reckthum looked at Mustard-Gas.
"Er, it's hard to say, parts of her were, I believe."
Ted made a face. "Ug. It sounds like she was doing her mango meditation. One has to face West and be very still around the tropical fruits. The fruit Gods are touchy if there's any sudden disturbance."
Mustard-Gas just stared at him.
"Additionally," said Reckthum, "she was dressed in a kimono."
Ted gave him a blank look.
"It's sort of a Japanese robe."
"I know what a kimono is. What's your point?"
"Would she be dressed like that as part of this mango thing?"
"No, not exactly. If it was mangoes she should have been nude. There's other fruits that permit loose clothing. Mulberries mostly, and sometimes elderberries like a nice dressing gown, like this one." He indicated his robe and produced a small handful of berries from the pocket. He held them out. "See? They love it."
"Er, quite," said Mustard-Gas. He cleared his throat. "About this fruit religion of yours. Is there any sort of er, insertion involved?"
Ted Porkular looked taken aback. "Insertion? Oh dear, no, that's vegetable Gods your thinking of. Cucumbers and carrots and zucchini. Those Gods like dark, wet places. Fruitism isn't like that at all."
"Ah, I see." Mustard-Gas breathed a small sigh of relief. Actually he didn't see at all.
Porkular assumed a noble pose. "We of the Latter-Day Fruits worship externally only. 'Peace and harmony and vitamin-C', That's our motto."
"Yes. Well, thank you, Mr. Porkular," said Inspector Reckthum, getting to his feet. He suddenly thought of something. "By the way, if you didn't go out Tuesday, what were you doing at the train station?"
Ted blinked. "Oh, I meant I didn't go out socially. I went to the station to get my shipment of tinctured loganberries. It was supposed to come in special and I wanted to be there to receive it."
"Loganberries. I see," said Reckthum. "You didn't use the public telephone by any chance did you?"
"As a matter of fact I did. I put through a call to London. I wanted to make sure my shipment was really on the train. It's vital that loganberries are kept at a constant temperature when traveling, they can become quite irritable, and I didn't want them to get uncomfortable. Those people at the loganberry factory make all sorts of promises when you give specific instructions for delivery, but you know how non-believers can be."
Mustard-Gas shook his head, possibly in sympathy. "Quite. What time did you telephone?"
"I don't know, perhaps ten or fifteen minutes before the train arrived."
Reckthum looked hard at Ted. "That would have been about two-ten?"
"I suppose. Sometime around then, why?"
"Oh, just getting our facts all in order," said Reckthum. "Well that's all for now. We may be around again to ask some more questions. Thank you for your time, Mr. Porkular."

Outside on their way back to the police station, Mustard-Gas commented; "Complete nutter."
"Yes," said Reckthum, "but he lied about not being at home."
"Or it really did slip his mind."
"Possibly. But he also admitted to using the phone at the station, quite the coincidence. It didn't have to be the loganberry factory, he could have just as easily called up Arthur Dagnabitt."
"Agreed," mused Mustard-Gas. "He didn't seem to be all that broken up about Mrs. Dagnabitt's death either."
"I noticed. He's as bad as Mr. Dagnabitt."
"She must have been quite a piece of work."
"She had fruit on the brain, if you ask me." said Reckthum.
" -and it killed her."
"Colonel, that was a terrible joke." And they both laughed together.

Mr. Dagnabitt was sitting in a deck chair in Miss Marble's back patio. He looked bewildered. He said, in his thin, precise voice, "I do believe that they mean to implicate me."
Miss Marble carefully took her gardening shears and snipped the bloom off of a rose bush. "That's the impression I have as well."
"But how could they? I wasn't even home when it happened. That Dickfur practically accused me of lying when I said you called me. To think I could ever do something like that to my Bernice."
"You couldn't"
Dagnabitt shuddered. "He asked me if I liked mangoes."
"Don't you?"
"Not anymore!" He shuddered again.
Miss Marble paused. "By the way, what was the dress for?"
Dagnabitt looked up. "What?"
"Your wife had sent for Miss Crudknuckle at three-thirty for a dress fitting."
"Oh that. Some kind of autumn festival thing or another. She and Mr. Porkular were traveling to Sallsbury Plain for the equinox. Apples. Apples I think it was. The autumn apple equinox gathering at Stonehenge. She wanted a new dress for the ceremony. Apparently they can make apples float in the air in that big stone circle thing.
"That's what Ted Porkular claims. Air-bobbing for apples they call it. I'll have to ask Bernice about it when she gets..Oh."
His face clouded. He suddenly realized that Bernice wouldn't ever be going away or coming back again. "Oh dear," he muttered to himself.
Miss Marble tactfully changed the subject. "What else did Constable Dickfur say to you?"
"Oh, he asked how strong I was. He had an idea that it could only be a strong person to do so much damage with a common mango."
"Indeed?" Miss Marble looked thoughtful. "Those were his exact words? 'A strong person'."
"Hmmm, perhaps I should have a talk with him tomorrow." she mused to herself.

Constable Dickfur drank off his tea and set the china cup carefully down on Miss Marble's glass topped patio table.
"Would you like another cup, or a scone, constable?" she asked.
"Thank you, no. Now what was it you wanted to tell me, Miss Marble?"
"You are so busy, I know, but you have always been so very kind, Constable, and I felt I would rather tell you instead of Inspector Reckthum. For one thing, you know, I should hate for Colonel Mustard-Gas to get into any trouble."
"Colonel Mustard-gas? What's he been doing?"
"He's been hiding evidence."
"What? Colonel Mustard-Gas? Never. What do you mean?"
"Let me explain," she said. "It all started with emeralds. It was a long time ago and began with an affair between a jeweler and a tweeny."
"What the fuck is a tweeny?" asked Dickfur.
"Because the one thing Mustard-Gas has never asked was, how did the tweeny have enough money to set up a fruit shop?"
"What the a tweeny?" repeated Dickfur.
Miss Marble ignored this. "In fact, not one of you asked that question. I believe it was her share of the...swag, I think, is the right expression. Everything she did turned out well. Money made money."
Dickfur blinked several times it was beginning to get warm on the patio in the afternoon sun.
"Oh it was quite all right for a long time," she said, "until Mr. Ted Porkular came on the scene."
"So you think Ted Porkular and Mrs. Dagnabitt..?"
She shook her head. "Mrs. Dagnabitt, you see, was already suffering from...intimate neglect from Mr. Dagnabitt. Then this handsome young man with his fruity ways, no doubt, urged her to 'go all the way', and I daresay she was ready to do it. But that's behind her now. You told Arthur Dagnabitt you had an idea?"
"I had a sudden idea yesterday."
"Yes, what was it?"
"Well there's one thing that bothered me."
"What's that?"
"It seems that the a person strong enough to kill Mrs. Dagnabitt in such a gruesome manner could be a man..or a strong large woman."
"Like Miss Muttonsthupper, perhaps?"
"Yes, exactly. We never questioned her story at all. She was just a passer-by at the time, but..." He stopped and blinked a few more times as his vision was blurred momentarily by the sweat in his eyes.
"So you suspect her? But what motive could she possibly have?"
Constable Dickfur wiped the sweat from his brow. "I don't know. But the point is nobody thought about asking her where she had been..." He flexed his hand weakly.
Miss Marble watched him. "All you quite alright, constable?"
"My fingers feel...funny."
Miss Marble smiled at him. "Oh, it's the poison. Gladys has put a large amount of pilocarpicine in the tea. It doesn't taste. In another few minutes your muscles will stop functioning and your heart will stop. It will look exactly like a heart attack. The poison breaks down after an hour or so and it won't leave any traces in your blood when the coroner does your autopsy."
Dickfur looked at Miss Marble, his mouth slightly open. His words were sluggish now and he had some trouble focusing on her. "But you drank...tea too..."
Miss Marble looked amused. "Ah, but you see, I didn't. I poured mine out while you were looking away. I've only been pretending to drink."
Dickfur's words came as a gasp. "Why?"
"You were getting too close to the truth, constable. I could see that clearly. We can't have anyone disturb my little scheme, can we? You see, years ago Bernice Dagnabitt stole Sir Albacore's emeralds, well sort of. Actually young Albacore took them from the house and Mrs. Dagnabitt stole them from him. She tried to sell them at Mr. Dagnabitt's jewely store. I'm afraid he had a reputation for shady dealings, he was one of my better fences back in the day. Mr. Dagnabitt bought them from her, that's how those two first met, you know. Anyway, he brought the emeralds to me and I made a good deal of money from them. I sent some money to young Albacore. Naturally he paid off all his debts with it. There's nothing like sudden wealth to bring suspicion on you, and take it off of the servants, like Bernice McGibble, as she was known then.
"After the Dagnabitts were married and living here and she became involved with the frooties he began to really loathe her. Eventually he came to me and asked me to help him. We talked about it and agreed to split the money in her will.
"Constable, can you still hear me? Oh, don't try to talk, just nod. That's good, you haven't got very long now."
Constable Dickfur could barely move his eyes.
Miss Marble went on. "I simply paid Miss Muttonsthupper to kill Bernice," Miss Marble said. "You see, Ted Porkular had thrown her over for Mrs. Dagnabitt so Muttonsthupper was quite willing to get her revenge and have Ted all to herself again. I must say however, I had no idea she was going to leave Mrs. Dagnabitt juicy.
"Before I left for my incontenence meeting I instructed my housemaid to call up Mr. Dagnabitt, as me, and ask him to come over. So I wasn't lying when I said I never called him.
"When Miss Crudknuckle began knocking at the Dagnabitt's, Muttonsthupper slipped out the back way and went around the block and simply came back up the lane."
Miss Marble leaned back with a smile. "To sum it up for you Constable, it was Muttonsthupper, in the library, with a mango. Rather amusing I think, don't you Constable? Constable? Oh dear, he's gone."

At that moment Miss Marble's maid poked her head out of the back door. "Is he dead yet?"
"Yes, just now. You used exactly the right amount, Gladys. I expect he heard most of it. Why don't you rinse out the tea things and make a fresh pot while I call Mustard-Gas and tell him Poor Constable Dickfur has collapsed."
She reflected. "It was probably the strain of this terrible Dagnabitt murder. He's been working so hard on it."

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Re: Mango Murder

Post by Jizaboz » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:32 pm

I like how you have used the Steve Meretzky last name style!

- Mr Jizaboz “Johan” Pickledchickenliver

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Re: Mango Murder

Post by AArdvark » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:03 pm

I did? A weird coincidence then. I had to look up the name, then I had an OH! moment.

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