Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, April 3, 1888
Mr. Thomas Poole, the Lew family footman, was next on the questioning list. He confirmed that Justin had put Beatrice up in the village inn after his father had dismissed her. But, Mr. Poole acted as the go-between for Justin when he wanted to deliver a letter to her or even to have an interlude with her while he was locked in the manor library. Mr. Poole confirmed that he would bring Beatrice through the back gate, through the garden path and to the library. Then, he’d wait by the garden gate to return her to the inn.
But, Mr. Poole begged them to not disclose his part in Justin’s affair. The Baron would surely dismiss him if he found out Mr. Poole’s part in Justin’s indiscretion. Mr. Poole was also the one dispatched to deliver the funds and letter of recommendation to Beatrice and was to make certain that she understood that said items were for her silence.
Their subsequent witness was the groundskeeper. The groundskeeper was asleep when the murder occurred but he had released the dogs to guard the grounds for the night. He’s a very light sleeper when it comes to hearing the dogs bark and he was not awakened until the butler roused him with the information on Justin’s death. He immediately searched the grounds and found no signs of an intruder. Plus, the dogs had not barked so, according to the groundskeeper, either nobody came onto the grounds or … the dogs knew the person.
Then, they went to the family crypt to examine the body of Justin Lew. He had obviously been strangled but the bruising was all around his neck and seemed to have been caused by something on the order of 3 or 4 inches in diameter. “Snake,” Archibald surmised. “I’ve not seen one myself but I’ve heard that a snake could do something like this. A constricting snake like a boa constrictor or the like could get to that size, too.” So, they carefully checked, looking for any signs of scales or such. But, there was nothing under Justin’s fingernails or other signs of a considerable struggle on the body.
Afterward, they took the carriage back into the village of Dearford where they spoke to the local doctor who had initially inspected the body. A country doctor who works out of his home, the man listed the cause of death as strangulation but had not thought of a snake as a possibility. The local constable had a different theory. He made it clear that he figures the private investigators are in town simply to find a scapegoat for the lord of the land. He believed that Justin and his father argued and that the father strangled him in a fit of rage. Of course, being nobility the constable dared not imply such theories publicly unless he had absolute proof … which he doesn’t have. When it’s a lord’s word against that of a commoner, well, lords are above that law.
They found the inn that Beatrice Poston, the former Lew servant, stayed in while she and Justin were having their affair. The innkeeper informed them that the room of interest was rented through the year but that the Lew family had said he could rent it again. After convincing the innkeeper to ‘rent’ them the room for the night, they were admitted to the unusually luxurious room and thoroughly searched it. In a secret compartment of the one desk, they found some love letters to Beatrice from Justin. Apparently, in her haste to leave she had forgotten about them. One, dated after Justin’s last visit to his wife in London, Margaret, he wrote to Beatrice that he planned to divorce his wife and marry Beatrice.
The innkeeper informed that one of the Lew servants met with her early this morning. As soon as the Lew servant left, she hurriedly packed and barely said goodbye before she left. He believed that she went off in the direction of the train station.
Afterward, they traced Beatrice’s movements that morning to the train station where she purchased a ticket on the first train to Hereford. The next train wasn’t due for a little while and they figured they could make better time with the carriage. So, to Hereford they went. Once in Hereford, it wasn’t long before they tracked Beatrice to one of the inns. The innkeeper informed them that the woman was last seen heading up to her room. As it was getting near supper, they waited for her keeping an eye on the tavern while they discussed how to approach her when they did find her. Finally a young lady emerged from the stairway and made her way to a small table in the corner of the room.
Fredryck covered the entrance in case Beatrice decided to make a hasty retreat. Evgenia and Priscilla went inside the inn and took a table near Beatrice. Then, Archibald flamboyantly entered the inn with Dracona following close behind. Priscilla gushed about that man (Archibald) being a famous actor and put on a scene of fan adoration. Archibald graciously took in the praise but informed that he wanted a quiet dinner this eve as he was on his way to a London performance next evening. To her chagrin, Archibald ended his speech with a proposal to have his meal with the quiet young lady in the corner, if she’d please.
Indifferent to the famed (but not to her) actor, Beatrice let the actor share her table. What she didn’t expect was when Dracona slipped into a chair on the other side of Beatrice from Archibald. Making small talk, Beatrice inquired about their London production. Archibald embellished on how the production was one of the great Shakespearean masterpieces.
“Of course,” he implored, "that could mean that it could be Othello with its tale of family indiscretion, or Julius Caesar with its murder of royalty, or the masterful love story of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. But, no,” he continued, “This was the greatest love story of them all, one of love forbade by family, Romeo and Juliet.” He went on about how great their love was, how it was forbidden, and how it woefully led to the demise of the lovers. He ended his dissertation with “Such love is rare, fair maiden. Hast thou known such love?”
Beatrice talked with them, about love forbidden, about love promised and love lost. Without using any names, she told Archibald about the love she had and how it ended in her lover’s death. Archibald asked, for a possible script he was considering, if she knew of whether such a noble family would keep strange pets, like snakes or such. Beatrice smiled again, at such a suggestion and informed that other than a few dogs for protection and the handy chicken for meals and such, they’d had no strange pets. At the next table, Evgenia and Priscilla could tell she was sincere in her love for Justin and they determined that she was most probably not his killer. So, Archibald paid for her meal, thanked her for her hospitality and time, and left the inn.
Returning to the manor at Dearford, they found that Gordon was due to arrive and he was bringing Margaret Lew, Justin’s wife, with him.