Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen

Book: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tessa Arlen
news of Teddy’s death and the discovery of Lucinda’s baffling disappearance, Clementine’s nerves were so finely tuned that her skin felt too tight, every sound jarred, and it was hard to concentrate. Standing in the morning room with Hollyoak and Mrs. Jackson as they explained Violet’s unaccountable disappearance from the house, she experienced such a wave of disbelief and incredulity that it took her several minutes to gather her wits enough to respond to the news.
    No matter what question she asked, the butler and her housekeeper merely repeated their original asseverations. They didn’t know where Violet was and no one downstairs could remember having seen her since midday. She had made them take her through it all twice, interrupting continually with more questions they were unable to answer. She was quick to notice that Hollyoak, always detached and unperturbed, after ten minutes of interrogation was now thoroughly perturbed. She watched his face almost quiver as if some human emotion was trying to break through the impassive mask of his composure, and he nearly lifted a hand to smooth his hair in a gesture she knew was an indication that he was discomfited and unsure. There was a distinct whiff of reproach in the air when, utterly exasperated with him, she turned to her housekeeper for greater illumination.
    Unlike the butler, Mrs. Jackson upheld iron self-possession and did not rush to smooth troubled waters. She repeated her side of the story calmly, no matter how often she was interrupted. Suddenly, hearing the sharpness in her voice, Clementine appreciated that she was being a bully and felt ashamed of herself. It would have been impossible for Mrs. Jackson to know exactly when Violet had gone missing, she told herself. It had probably been quite busy belowstairs this morning. She listened to her housekeeper explain that last night Violet had been instructed to clean and make-up the single guests’ rooms this morning, which were in a wing on the other side of the house. Lucinda’s and Teddy’s rooms had not been made up, but as they were not there to complain, this had not served as an alert. The rooms occupied by Oscar, Ellis, and Harry were not made up either, but Clementine thought it was doubtful that they had even noticed. She knew that the rest of the servants would have been rushed off their feet this morning, putting the house in order after the ball: taking up early-morning trays, preparing breakfast for the dining room, and accomplishing a hundred other chores. With so many people staying in the house, visiting valets and maids would have been coming and going between the servants’ hall and the upstairs bedrooms, adding tremendously to the demands on her servants. With the addition of her guests’ servants there would have been more than thirty people milling around in the servants’ hall for most of the day. It was fair to understand that Violet’s absence would have been hard to detect until they had all taken their allotted places for their midday meal.
    But after the news of Teddy’s death, Clementine didn’t feel particularly fair-minded. She offered no reassurance that all would be well, that Violet would no doubt be found, because nothing looked to her as if all would be well again. Neither did she rush to acknowledge to the butler and her housekeeper the stress the servants had been under for days on end. In fact, she stared at them coldly. They had let her down, her face told them, even if her tone didn’t. She did not wish to be burdened any more than she already was.
    When Hollyoak told her that despite’s Dick’s search of the village there was no trace of Violet, Clementine stifled a chirrup of annoyance. How could they have been so careless as to send up an alarm? Now the whole village would be thrumming with speculation and conjecture! God only knew what they were all saying. It didn’t take much to set the village

Similar Books

Fairy Prey

Anna Keraleigh

Mistletoe Menage

Molly Ann Wishlade

Valentine's Day

Elizabeth Aston

Web of the City

Harlan Ellison

Killer View

Ridley Pearson