Christmas in Knavesborough # 1

[Published as “The Deadly Sin of Avarice” in the collection “Christmas in Knavesborough“]

I

When the rumour of old Helleboria Everthorpe´s demise ran from mouth to mouth in Knavesborough, the knitting club didn´t hesitate for a second. Evy ran into her kitchen to produce a batch of Christmas biscuits, Olivia went to the hairdresser and Thelma bought a new dress. Mildred ran a comb through her grey perm and did her best to squeeze her thighs into her best tartan skirt. She hoped no one would notice she had to secure it with a safety pin on the back these days.

They shuffled briefly on the threshold, but mostly for the sake of appearances. Of course it was Olivia who planted her well-groomed fingertip on the doorbell and spoke for the club.

– We were so sorry to hear about your loss. Compassion was not really part of Olivia´s repertoire, but her thin lips quivered a bit like a bunny rabbit.

– Thank you. Won´t you come in? Euphorbia Everthorpe-Smythe opened the door a few inches to let them in, but she was forced to step aside to admit Mildred´s bulky shape.

Euphorbia looked unreasonably well for her age, Mildred reflected. Just a pity she had had so much sun her cheeks looked like sole leather.

– We have brought some Christmas biscuits. Evy smiled warmly and displayed a plate of gingerbread men.

– Oh? In a conditioned reflex, Euphorbia´s hand refuted the biscuits as if they were a danger to public health and safety, but then she looked like one of those scrawny models on a perpetual diet. A brief smile crossed her face. – I suppose we´d better have a cup of tea in Mama´s sitting room.

– Are you planning to stay in Knavesborough now that you have returned home? Thelma´s words must be directed towards Euphorbia, but her eyes darted around in the packed room, busy assessing the late Mrs Everthorpe´s bric-a-brac. Old Helleboria had been an obstinate, old warmonger; rumour had it that no one but her char had set foot in her house for the best of fifteen years.

– My goodness, no! As soon as I have put Mama´s house up for sale, I´ll go back to Cambridge. The institute will need my presence before long.

– I´d have thought Michaelmas term…, Mildred began.

– And you didn´t bring your husband along? Professor Smythe? Olivia gazed at Euphorbia with her mouth slightly open.

– No, I did not. Her expression did not change, but Mildred could have sworn her cool eyes grew narrower.

– But there… that´s…. that Christmas plate… A drop of tea or saliva ran down Thelma´s chin, and she put the cup down so fast that the liquid splashed on the laquered sidetable.

Euphorbia pulled out a snowwhite handkerchief and rubbed at the tiny drop. – So you are interested in Mama´s Wedgwood collection?

– Well, it is mostly that particular plate, that is Tower Bridge, the Christmas plate from 1975. One of the few Christmas plates I have never got hold of.

– Really? She rubbed the table vehemently.

– Would you consider selling it?

The thin shoulders shrugged. – I have not made up my mind what to do about Mama´s collection yet. I intend to get in touch with one of Sotheby´s experts first thing next week. Then we shall see.

Come back for the ending tomorrow.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in Christmas, flash fiction, Gershwin & Penrose. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Christmas in Knavesborough # 1

  1. Dorte – Oh, I liked this story :-)! One thing you do very well I think is create the village setting and the different characters in it. I like the closer look you take at this knitting club, too🙂. It’s a good mystery, but it’s fun, too.

  2. Petty Witter says:

    Loving this Dorte. As always great characters, I love it that you always manage to take characters we all know (every group has a Mildred and a Thelma, doesn’t it?) and yet make them special and so refreshing. Such good fun, I just hope Euphorbia doesn’t let that plate out of her sight. I’ll be back tomorrow.

  3. Pingback: Christmas in Knavesborough # 2 | djskrimiblog

  4. Thank you, Margot and Tracy.

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