For the first time I have a free moment to write in my journal at midday. After the events of the previous three nights, I thought it important to do whatever I could to write while the sun was high and the moon was absent. I fear that my imagination gets the better of me at night, though I am not so blind as to deny the strange
occurences occurrences that are taking place at Kraken Moor.
We are allowed but a precious few moments to lunch, but God’s luck visited me twice this morning, as I have been given a longer lunch in exchange for a longer service of afternoon work – work that will involve finding answers to the mysteries of Kraken Moor!
A constable from London is due to arrive at any moment and because I am the only member of staff who was not here on the Eve of the New Year, I have been assigned to serve his needs during his stay. Everyone will be interviewed – all 20 members of the staff, all 32 visiting guests, Lord Shepherd, and even Captain Shepherd! Only Lady Coraline is free from the constable’s questions.
Finally, I shall have some answers about the scream!
I hesitate, of course, to mention the other mystery involving Gail, Lord Shepherd, the mirror, and Lady Coraline’s assertion that Kraken Moor had “taken” me! Absurdity! Clearly, the woman knew I was dreaming because she witnessed me sleepwalking. To my knowledge, I have never walked in my sleep before, but that does not mean I have not. As a child, I was often troubled by my first night’s sleep in a place other than my own room. It has been a stressful time leading up to my employment here, and stressful given the
confluense confluence of events since I have arrived. I will try to keep an open mind about what happened, but I think it obvious that I must have seen the “gargoyle mirror” during my tour of Kraken Moor, and I must have carried Gail’s ribald words about Lord Shepherd into my dream. As for the softness of my hair, I must have taken a turn in the out of doors on my journey and what I took as soft was merely damp from the falling snow.
Even as I write the words I see the great extent to which I have stretched the cord of logic, and one part of my brain (the part given to fancy, I tell myself without conviction) reminds me that Lord Shepherd was not in the house two night’s previous and that I was definitely not allowed into Lady Coraline’s room during my tour of the house, but until I hear directly from Gail, I will not allow myself to become a victim of fanciful imagination!
Now, I must set aside the journal to attend to my duties with the constable and, it my sincerest hope, determine what the rational explanation is for the unholy scream of New Year’s Eve!
I was a fool.
It is late and I am desperate to retire for the evening, but I have committed to this journal and I fear that if I fail to write down these thoughts until the morning, I shall lose my anger.
After I finished the entry at midday, I went to the entrance hall and waited with Mrs. Cotts and Lady Coraline for the constable to arrive. (I am told Kraken Moor has a butler, an Oriental named Mr. Shiro Wabanate, but he has been bed ridden since before I arrived and have not seen him.) The constable arrived in a dark coach that appeared to visibly sigh in relief when the rotund Inspector stepped to the ground, and he greeted Mrs. Cotts by asking for lunch.
“Miss Sharper will see to all your needs,” Mrs. Cotts said with a look of disgust and left us.
Inspector Thomason looked me up and down lasciviously and Lady Coraline stepped in between us. “Those needs, Inspector,” she stated clearly, “will be handled by me. Shall we retired to my room?”
Thomason coughed and mumbled something about business and I led him into a sitting room. He sat in a high-backed chair covered in a maroon fabric near a set of wide windows looking out on the rear of the estate. Snow covered the ground and it was a bright, cold afternoon. I stood to the side and waited while he conducted his interviews. It is only the politeness nurtured by my upbringing that I call what Thomason did an interview. Sham would be my preferred term, but I will not call it so, as I am a lady.
The guests were led in first, and Thomason interviewed them one at a time. First was General Haupt, a German officer and old friend of Captain Shepherd.
“Please, General, tell me what you know of a woman named Patricia Valmont.”
“Patricia Valmont?” the General asked as if it were the most absurd question in the universe. “I have never heard of her. Could you describe her, perhaps?”
“Oh, I do not know,” Thomason grumbled, stuffing more of a beef sandwich I had prepared into his mouth. He looked around the room as if the answer would be there. “She wuff like thaff one,” he mumbled.
“She was a member of the staff?”
“Heavens, no! She was blonde.”
Inspector Thomason spit out some of his
sandwhich sandwich. “You are American? Extraordinary!” He turned back to the General. “You have no knowledge of Ms. Valmont?”
“None,” the General said, shrugging in an exaggerated manner.
“Then you are excused!”
On and on this went through the afternoon. I learned so very little about the events of the dawn of the New Year in Kraken Moor. It was plain to me – though not, it appeared, to Inspector Thomason – that the guests and staff had rehearsed a practice set of answers. They had worked out three different, basic answers:
The first was a variation of General Haupt’s affront to the truth, proclaiming one’s ignorance of Patricia Valmont. This was the preferred method of at least half the guests.
The second set of prepared answers was to admit that they knew the woman, but could not remember much about her. It was clear that she
was a lady of the nigh was part of the evening’s entertainment. She was remembered for having worn a red dress and a set of sparkling diamonds, but no one could remember (so they claimed) who she left with or anything she had done except for drinking too much alcohol.
The third set of prepared answers came mostly from the castle’s staff, who offered several bits of gossip about Miss Valmont attempting to steal castle valuables. Several members of the staff reported that they heard rumors Miss Valmont was last seen heading for the maze, but no one could remember who had told them this story.
All of the guests reported that the scream that was heard as far away as Marehaven was nothing more than a spectacular firework that had failed.
By the end of a long, nearly pointless day, Lord Shepherd entered the room and handed Thomason a damaged firework that he had claimed made the sound. He then spent a good
tewn 20 to 25 minutes chatting with the Inspector about all manner of things unrelated to the Miss Valmont or New Year’s Eve. Mrs. Cotts entered and announced that a late dinner was being served and would the Inspector like to join the guests?
He did, and the next several hours were spent entertaining the officer as he had likely never been entertained before. I knew the subterfuge Lord Shepherd was playing all too well, having seen my father use the technique on various locals in Mississippi whenever he needed something from someone beneath his station.
After dessert and brandy, Thomason was given a room and he now sleeps several floors above me.
The house considers the matter behind them.
I consider it in front of me.
There was one set of footprints leading out to the maze. I intend to investigate them.