- Victor – Hendrik’s son / Hendrik – Edmund Silverwood’s son
- Helena – Edmund Silverwood’s sister
- Tom – Helena’s husband
- Robert – Helena and Tom’s son
- Francis – Hendrik’s wife
- Edmund Silverwood – Mr. Silverwood, the owner of the estate
- Lizzie – Helena and Tom’s daughter
- Victoria – Catherine’s adoptive daughter / Catherine – Edmund Silverwood daughter
- Nathan Porter – private detective, also undercover as Andrew Morgan
‘Good God, what is he doing?’ barked Victor watching the detective analyzing the body. Mr. Porter had grabbed one of the lanterns and was now shedding light over Richard’s neck.
I turned my attention to aunt Helena who had been scolding me for the last few minutes. Robert returned to the house, searching for something to cover the body, Tom was inspecting the area and Francis…smoked.
‘When Edmund gets word of this, he’ll…’ growled aunt Helena.
‘Richard was his favorite butler,’ I said.
‘Mr. Silverwood said that once. Richard was the first one to come to his aid when he fell of the horse, remember? He carried him into the house on his back and sat with him that entire night. I was fifteen and we were all…’
‘Victoria!’ she spat. ‘I’m talking about the boy! What do we do about the boy?’
‘Are you a detective, Morgan?’ chuckled Victor.
My heart dropped.
The detective was still examining the body. I should have intervened. He was risking exposing his cover yet, the reason why he came was to investigate, was it not?
‘This man’s throat has been…torn out!’ said the detective as he watched us suspiciously. ‘What dogs have managed that this time?’ he hissed, his eyes fixed on mine.
‘Perhaps wolves,’ said aunt Helena calmly. ‘We’ve got wolves roaming around, Mr. Morgan. I don’t see why this is any of your business. You should go home immediately. We’ll have someone…’
‘You’re right!’ said the detective. ‘This is not my business. This is police matter!’
Victor’s eyes widened, Francis lit another cigarette her hand trembling yet her eyes on the detective. I took a step towards the detective and stopped. What can I possibly do to prevent him from divulging his true identity?
‘Police?’ said aunt Helena her face unmoved.
‘With all due respect, madam. A dead man’s lying in your gazebo, his throat torn and his hand missing, somehow ripped off from the wrist…Shouldn’t someone call the police and the coroner?’
‘We handle things differently here at Silverwood, Mr. Morgan. You wouldn’t understand, being an outsider.’
‘No one will call the police then?’ insisted the detective. My heart was pounding. If he was going to reveal his identity the consequences…there was no telling what they would do to him.
‘Tom will take care of it, Mr. Morgan. This is none of your concern!’ said aunt Helena. She was extremely calm and calculated.
The detective threw me another glance. I shook my head. Whatever he wanted to say next, I begged him not to do it.
‘Nothing,’ puffed Tom as he returned. He was a solid man, tall and broad, clean shaven though he’d been wearing a beard most of his life; an appearance to which I had grown more accustomed to. His dark hair revealed that he was younger than aunt Helena yet you could barely see any difference.
‘Tom, do see to the police! Mr. Morgan here is growing impatiently,’ stated aunt Helena.
‘Ah, Mr. Morgan,’ said Tom as if he’d forgotten the detective’s presence. ‘I suggest you go home. This is a family matter now. We’ll have someo…’
‘I’d rather stay!’ responded the detective.
I felt the tension rising in the air yet they were all keeping it under control.
‘This is no time for…’ barked Tom but had no chance to finish.
‘If the police arrives they’ll want to interrogate everyone present. If I leave now I’ll be breaking the law by fleeing a crime scene.’
‘Crime scene?’ shouted aunt Helena.
‘Rather informed for an assistant, aren’t you?’ spat Tom.
‘All right, then! I’ve had quite enough of this!’ hissed aunt Helena. ‘It’s chilly and we wouldn’t want Mr. Morgan here to catch a cold! Let’s call for the police in Tom’s office without alarming the others.’ She turned around and walked away heading the house. Francis followed her just as Robert returned carrying a blanket.
Victor muttered something under his breath and hurried towards the house as well. ‘Come Vic!’ he called. But I noticed that the detective was not planning to retreat.
‘After you, Mr. Morgan!’ said Tom standing between the detective and the body.
Robert covered the body while the detective watched. They were tampering with the evidence, I bet he thought yet he said nothing. Perhaps he was cautious after all and was determined in keeping his identity hidden. Little did he know that, with this decision he was keeping his life safe as well.
‘The police should have been here by now!’ complained Francis.
Tom had called the police half an hour ago, his exact words being ‘There’s been a little accident with our butler.’
We all stood in Tom’s majestic office. We as in the detective and I, Victor, aunt Helena, Tom and Francis. Robert decided to stay with the rest in the dining room and keep an eye on anyone who wanted to go out. As far as we knew we were the only ones aware of the tragedy.
I was nervous about the police arrival. What if they’d recognize Mr. Porter? Or perhaps it would be for the best for he would be able to leave with the police and escape before the others become…hostile.
‘No need to be so alarmed, Francis. It’s a simple procedure, nothing more. They will check the body, take it away and that’s that!’ stated Tom sitting at his expensive desk. The entire room screamed of Tom’s authority and influence. Though usually a quiet man, tonight he had spoken more often than I’d ever heard him. Perhaps it was because aunt Helena had been present at the scene. Uncle Albert’s case had been different. The guards had found him first then I…and with my mother, Richard had held me in his arms hiding my face away yet I had seen her…
‘What?’ I asked confused.
‘We keep the dogs to drive the wolves away, now that the dogs have been put down the wolves appeared again. Richard always checked the premises before locking up,’ said Victor as if trying to convince me.
The detective watched Victor with clear doubt.
‘Who’ll see to my roses now that Richard is gone?’ jumped Francis. ‘We need a new butler, his son perhaps. Willy, Billy or something…’
‘Quiet Francis!’ spat aunt Helena.
‘Don’t talk to my mother like that!’ barked Victor.
‘Watch your tone, boy!’ hissed Tom.
I sighed as I watched them all quarrel. I just hoped they’d keep it at that and not start throwing fists or worse…Benjamin had growled during brunch, and Benjamin was…a pup compared to Tom and Victor. What would happen if they lost their temper? Or worse, if aunt Helena lost her temper?
The detective seemed quite composed. But, there was a reason for that. Something distracted him. His eyes on the door. I watched the door open slowly. Blond locks revealed themselves as I saw Lizzie stick her head in.
‘Mo…mother?’ she said but no one heard her. She entered the room quietly as the rest of them continued arguing.
Lizzie turned to me, her face puzzled and yet a smile formed in the corner of her mouth. She held her hands close to her chest. One of her hands was stained with blood.
‘What happened?’ I asked her. The others went still.
‘I found a hand in the living room,’ she simply said. She didn’t find it scary at all, her face rather excited. ‘There was a note in the palm,’ she continued as she opened her blooded hand.
The detective reached Lizzie before Tom and picked up a bloodied note.
‘You should be ashamed!’ said the detective.
‘Ashamed for what?’ asked Francis.
‘That’s what the note says,’ added Tom, now at the detective’s side. ‘You should be ashamed!’ repeated Tom.
‘Didn’t Benjamin say those exact words at brunch?’ added aunt Helena.
‘Wolves, you said?’ added the detective watching everyone in the room.
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