The large oak door was open, allowing the winter chill to seep into the house. Where was the butler?
“This way, ma’am. Please, the Inspector will tell you everything.” A constable steered me towards a room.
“Amelia!” Lizzy sobbed. “Ellen… is no more.”
The Inspector, a stout man with a balding head, stood near the bed on which Ellen lay.
Dead. No! This can’t be happening.
“Miss Elizebeth found Mrs. Morris dead when she arrived.”
“My sisters. I’m Amelia Davies.” My voice was faint.
The Inspector murmured his condolences before launching into the details about the situation.
“There are no signs of a struggle. Mrs. Morris sent the staff away for the day. She seems to have taken a good dose of cyanide. It is suicide, Miss Davies.”
Lizzy shook her head. “Inspector, she did not kill herself. I don’t care what you think.” She turned to me with pleading eyes.
It was time to be the elder sister. “I’d like you not to jump to conclusions, Inspector. We’ve been through enough since our childhood. If that did not make us want to kill ourselves, nothing else can.”
Walking to the center of the room, I noticed the glowing embers in the fireplace. The curtains were drawn. The desk was neatly arranged. Ellen loved perfection.
“Miss Davies, we do our duty.” The Inspector stated. “She wrote a suicide note. Please, do not touch anything.”
Lizzy glared at him. “Why would she kill herself when she sent us letters to meet her here? She wanted to tell us something. Ellen was killed, Inspector.”
He had made up his mind already.
“Is the letter a part of the evidence?” I avoided looking at Ellen’s body. Grief would cloud my mind.
“Yes, ma’am, it is.”
“Can I make a copy now? It is important, Inspect…”
“Please, Inspector.” Lizzy finished the sentence while I wiped my tears.
“Ahh… I suppose that’s fine, Miss Davies. Our Constable will do it for you. Doesn’t Mrs. Morris have a lawyer?”
Lizzy knew the details. “Yes, the Spencer & Spencer firm. I know she had her will registered after her husband’s death.”
“Thank you, Miss Davies. We will contact the firm.” Inspector motioned to the constable to copy the letter for us.
“I’d rather do it myself.” The chair still held some warmth. Ellen was killed only minutes before Lizzy arrived. The constable stood beside me to make sure the evidence would be intact.
A silver quill dripped ink onto the half-written sheet. Unlit candles served as paperweights. Ellen had no reason to put the seal on an unfinished letter and take cyanide. We were ushered into the hall by the Constable when I was done.
“The body will be handed over as soon as possible.” It was the Inspector. “You live in Sussex, Miss Elizabeth?”
Lizzy nodded. “I will be staying with Amelia until the inquest.”
“You found anything?” Lizzy asked, huddled on the bed. Her eyes were puffy from crying. I wasn’t any better. But, we had a job to do.
“Yes. The date is wrong. You are right, Lizzy. It looks like a code. She referred to my latest novel, The Undead Duke.”
It was more than two years since we spoke. The last time was when she received the news of her husband’s death. Lizzy was beside her throughout while I acted like a stranger. I preferred to stay away from my sisters, writing novels under a pen name. It was the best way to push away the bitter memories. But now, I’m regretting my decision, a little too late.
“The story made me cry. Ellen would have loved it too.” She sighed.
I was in the middle of writing another when an unexpected letter arrived from Ellen. Suddenly, Lizzy’s words gave me an idea.
“Do you have the letter she sent you?” She pointed to her handbag.
I placed all the three letters in front of her. “Remember how Ellen loved solving puzzles? She must have left one for us. Look at her last letter; the one I copied. Find anything?”
Lizzy focused on the date. “Morris died on that day. Ellen hated the silver quill he gave her. She never used it.”
“Clues.” My voice trembled. We were getting somewhere.
We used the 3rd of April as a base to arrange the sentences. Every 4th word from each letter gave us a broken message.
“He is not dead. I’m sorry. Forgive me.”
“Oh, Ellen!” Tears stained my cheeks as Lizzy read the words aloud.
Why did she not confide in Lizzy? Why wait till she got killed? Would Ellen have told me if I stopped blaming her for getting married? My sister lost her life because I was too arrogant to make amends.
“She didn’t blame you, Amelia. Neither do I. We all make mistakes.” Lizzy murmured reading my thoughts. Her words increased my guilt.
Hugging each other for comfort, we decided to call the Inspector the next morning.
“If he doesn’t listen, we’ll go Mr. S.H on Baker Street. He will help us.” Lizzy suggested.
“You know him? I heard he is a bit eccentric.” The detective was a strange man.
Lizzy nodded. “His landlady is an acquaintance.”
“Inspector, you may think we are wasting your time. But, if the killer walks away because you failed to listen to us, the blame will be on you. We will go to Mr. S.H to get justice for our sister.” Threatening was the only option left.
The Constable arrived looking worried. “Sir, we found a will in Mrs. Morris’s jewelry box yesterday favoring her dead husband. The lawyer says he is not aware of it.”
Soon, Morris was arrested from a gambling den. He confessed to faking his death and killing Ellen. He also confessed to forging a new will. Marrying Ellen was a part of his plan.
Christmas was my chance at redemption. I spent a week with Lizzy in Sussex. We only had each other now.