The 12 Suspects of Christmas – The Solution
Previously in this periodical, the author put before you a Yuletide conundrum and now begs your indulgence to present her elegant solution…
It was the second day of the Year of Our Lord 1896, when Shermoran Dalgrot was finally before the local magistrate, explaining to the bewildered gentleman exactly how The Theft of the Turkey was accomplished – and by whom! (A more pressing mystery may be why a magistrate was involved at all in the disappearance of Christmas dinner, but the author pleads Dramatic Effect in her defence.)
“Please state your name and occupation for the record.”
“I am Shermoran Dalgrot, formerly of Her Majesty’s Police and lately private investigator and gentleman detective.”
“Tell us then – how was it done and who’s to blame?”
The magistrate was as impatient as you, dear reader, as he hoped this bizarre case may prove worth getting out of bed for so soon after the festivities of the New Year.
“I will tell it to you, sir, as I told it to the company on Christmas Day…
Imagine then, the impatient and hungry company in the house of Lady D’Argent, lending their ears to the highly esteemed Shermoran Dalgrot:
“Fellow guests, I have deduced the likely chain of events and those implicated. I have gathered you all within the drawing room, as is customary on these occasions, and will make my declarations. I have examined the habits and moral attitudes of all here present and concluded the likely parts they played in the events that were to unfold.
“First, it must be noted that upon my arrival yesterday at three o’clock, the back door was open. Despite Sherry the Cook’s insistence on kitchen security, her fondness for her namesake makes her inclined to forget her duty and leave all unlocked. Therefore, any one of the company may have entered the kitchen to commit the crime.
“The first persons we must consider are the ones not here present: The Midnight Visitor and Humphrey the Hedgehog. After The Butler turned them away from the house, the desperate Visitor sought comfort for the creature and tried the aforementioned back door. Finding it unlocked, he took the poor hedgehog into the warmest place he could find – the unlocked kitchen.
“Stowing the creature into an unused teacup, he placed him in the cupboard by the still-warm oven. The Visitor then departed, hoping to return for the hog in due course. I do not suspect him further.
“At dawn on Christmas Day, Sherry the Cook and Nocturne the Maid began their preparations for the feast – including the laudable turkey. Once all was inside the oven, Sherry retired to a corner of the kitchen for a spirit-fuelled snooze before the final preparations, while Nocturne kept a watch on the oven.
“Unfortunately, Nocturne fell foul of le droit du seigneur – and, as I have said it in French, we can all appreciate the level of scandal to which I am referring. Dan D’Argent the Dandy, constantly seeking to further his own pleasures, approached the maid in her place of work and propositioned her. I do not speculate upon what then occurred, because a lady’s honour is involved, but I know they were interrupted – by the curious Hattie the Hack!
“The intrepid journalist was scandalised by what she saw, and that she had shared the attentions of such a rake. She fled the kitchen and, fearing a hue and cry, Dan D’Argent and Nocturne pursued her to ensure her silence.
“The near-empty kitchen, save for its two sleeping occupants, was then utilised for an entirely different drama. The vain Deidre D’Argent found her voice displayed to best effect within the confines of the kitchen and therefore used the space to practice. Where Deidre went, so followed Reverend Dirge, the appreciative audience for her endeavours.
“However, her efforts woke the slumbering cook, who roused herself with such a rumpus that it caused Deidre and the Reverend to flee, for fear of what scandal may be caused by being seen together in such a circumstance. Fearing a thief in her kitchen, Sherry gave them pursuit, out of the kitchen and into the snow-covered gardens.
“As the dinner hour approached, Lady D’Argent and The Butler entered the kitchen. Fearing the reputation of their household with the drunken cook in charge of Christmas dinner, they intended to cast a watchful eye upon Sherry. When the cook could not be found, Lady D’Argent and The Butler took it upon themselves to complete the meal.
“The Butler opened the cupboard to find the serving trays, as Lady D’Argent removed the turkey from the oven. However, the open door disturbed the hedgehog, which rolled out and onto the kitchen floor. Lady D’Argent was so startled that she dropped the turkey!
Before it could be rescued, Boris the Dog seized upon the bird and filled his jaws. (He also permitted the hedgehog a small portion of the leg.)
And that, ladies and gentleman, was the fate of the Christmas turkey.”
If you enjoyed Rosie Claverton’s Christmas mystery, you may want to try her (slightly) more serious, contemporary novels – Binary Witness and Code Runner.