Old Helleboria was hardly lukewarm in her coffin before the next death rattled the village.
– A hit-and-run driver. Right here in Knavesborough. Mother and daughter. Within the same week. Gruuuuesome!
– I know it is terrible to say so now that she is dead and everything, but she was such an unpleasant person. She didn´t even try my gingerbread men. Evy turned her troubled, brown eyes towards her close friend, Rhapsody Gershwin.
– I have only met Euphorbia Everthorpe once, but I can imagine what so many years in Cambridge must have done to her.
– Everthorpe-Smythe, mind you. But it is not as if I know what she is so stuck-up about. Heavy, dark furniture, and most of Helleboria´s exquisite collection was dusty old china no one on the right side of eighty would want to have in her house. Except from Thelma, of course.
– Thelma? It must be Christmas plates then, Rhapsody chuckled. How sad that the daughter was dead, but she hadn´t put in a presence in Knavesborough since she married her professor, and the mother hadn´t been a bit better.
– Yes. Those blue Wedgwood thingies my granny was totally sold on. But at least it was one of the pretty ones Thelma was after. One with Tower…
Rhapsody´s mobile phone buzzed in her pocket, and she raised a hand to dam up Evy´s flow of words.
– I am so sorry, sweetheart, but I can´t make it to dinner tonight. We´ve just had a burglary. Archibald´s frustrated sigh resonated through the phone.
– Now? But where? Rhapsody´s fiancé was the local constable, and she had grown used to broken dates years ago.
– In old Helleboria Everthorpe´s house.
– Don´t you have someone else you can send? I suppose it is just some poor drug addict who…
– No, if it was only something like that. It is top-secret yet, of course, but Thelma Fairfax was caught red-handed in Helleboria´s living room. I haven´t seen her myself yet, but Winchester claimed she was clinging to some china.
– Thelma? But then… Like lightning, Rhapsody added one rumour to the other and reached a dramatic conclusion.
– Yes, I suspect this is about much more than a burglary. It´s going to be a long night, I am afraid.
– Now you have a day off for once, let´s go and have a peep at the Women´s Institute´s Christmas fair. Evy and Psalmonella have baked biscuits and muffins for days.
– I don´t really know if…. Archie hesitated, and she could see how tired he was after putting in several days of overtime.
– But we have to show our faces, at least. After all the fuss with Euphorbia and Thelma´s arrest, the committee need our support. It will be such a letdown if they don´t sell anything.
– Well, okay then. Archie pecked her cheek. – I suppose there´ll be waffles and jam?
Contrary to Rhapsody´s expectations the old school hall swelled with people, and the gossip billowed between groaning walls. She waved at Evy and her sister, but she intended to take a look at what the other stalls had to offer before she helped herself to tea and some yummy muffins.
A booth with piles of pale blue china caught her eyes. That could only be…
– A Christmas plate or two? A young woman like you, engaged to be married, must surely need some of these charming pieces for your trousseau. Olivia put up a professional saleswoman´s smile, and she held a plate in each hand, ready to push them into the hands of her next victim.
– Where did all those plates come from?
– You see, Helleboria´s son-in-law, that professor Smythe, dumped some huge crates with most of the old gal´s china yesterday. As he said, no one cares about those old things these days anyway. They just stand around, gathering dust at obscure jumble sales.