A STUDY IN CERISE (5/7)

Charles fished a stub of pencil out of his pencil, and wrote on the first page his new green notebook:

One for sorrow

Two for mirth…

He was glad Mrs McManus had gone, but now began to worry because she had made him late. His mother and sisters were in a tearing flap over this wedding, and lateness on his behalf had become a greater than usual misdemeanour. And what about wimpy Patrick – wimpy by nature if not in appearance – and that ferocious-looking Brazilian of his? Would they be lying in wait for him? He hadn’t done anything wrong. Not this afternoon, at least. So why did he feel he had?

He needn’t have worried. About that, anyway. When he got back to the hotel all was in uproar. People were screaming and crying. Behind the reception desk harassed-looking woman in a black suit and strange fish-net-looking tights was phoning the police. Her nail-varnish, he noticed, was a kind of green colour. He tugged at her sleeve. She whirled round. Her hair was coming loose from its grips, and she was very pink in the face.

‘Who’s been murdered?’

‘The Bride, of course! Where have you been? Stabbed to death, right through her wedding dress. Oh! Oh dear, I shouldn’t have…You wouldn’t be from the local press, would you?’

Charles, for one inappropriate second, felt rather pleased. A woman in a smart black suit and green nail varnish had mistaken him for a grown up, a Man. And then the information hit home. The Bride was his sister.

Christina had been stabbed.

To death.

But the wedding wasn’t till tomorrow. Why had she been wearing her wedding dress?

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