the heron island mystery (conclusion)

This story started here.

Professor Frederick Drake was convicted of second-degree murder, among other charges, and the jacket was a key piece of evidence. Manfred had owned two of them, and they’d been custom-made for him, by hand, by an admirer (a lady, as she was described during the trial), and the fact that Drake had been apprehended while wearing the second one had helped to place him in Manfred’s rented room, where the evidence indicated that the murder had taken place.

Professor Drake had insisted, however, that he had only gone to Manfred’s room to confront him about his relationship with Kim Daniels, and that Manfred’s death had happened as a result of the struggle between the men, with no premeditation. Which might have been true, of course.

Kimberly Daniels was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Mary Sanders. Now that Manfred’s murder could be explained, it was pretty straightforward, since means, motive, and opportunity were established, plus there was her confession, and her attempt on Elsa’s life. Mary’s murder had clearly been premeditated. Li offered to pay for a lawyer for Kim, but she declined, using the court-appointed attorney instead.

After Elsa’s testimony in Kim’s trial, she had been annoyed to find out that one wire service report had described her as a “crippled girl.” She made several attempts to register a complaint about this.

I heard from Elsa that the financial situation at Heron House was becoming untenable, and it looked like the other homeowners on the island might finally get their wish to be rid of the college students in their midst. The four remaining women in the house couldn’t manage the rent alone, and, after two murders, it seemed unlikely that any new students would want to move in.

More importantly, the mood in the house was getting worse, too. Li was still conflicted about Kim, and Elsa, who had come close to being Kim’s second victim, was not sympathetic. Becky was stuck in the middle, and apparently Jo stayed in her room as much as she could, with her headphones on, typing away.

I told Elsa that if she needed to move that I would help her to find a new place which would suit her needs.

When my employer and I arrived home after the end of the second trial, she sat at her desk for a few minutes, looking out the window, and then she turned her chair around to face me. “We need to talk,” she said, “about the… the plan. The variation on the plan — my plan — which you and Miss Peabody apparently, from all reports, from your own report… Well?”

“We performed–“

“You performed — apparently ‘performed’ is being used here in the theatrical sense — a sexual act, or a series of sexual acts, while putting her in the position — a ‘position’ … In any case, that was not part of the plan. My plan, as you and I discussed it.”

“Elsa — Miss Peabody — felt–”

“You know, of course, that I never interfere in your personal life.” She made a heroic effort to say this with a straight face, and I graciously allowed it to pass without comment. “But I should point out that she was, at that moment, a suspect. Well, not in the attack on herself, obviously, but in two murders.”

“I think it amused her,” I said carefully, “to imagine the conversation which you and I are having at this moment.”

“You and she have discussed–“

“Of course not. But she has apparently been speculating.”

“Well, she can speculate away.” She sighed and drew her glasses down her nose, regarding me over the rims. “Moving on,” she said firmly, “the case is now closed. I think that it would be appropriate for us to have a celebratory dinner this evening, don’t you agree?”

I nodded. “I do indeed. That’s why I called and made a reservation at La Serata.”

She looked surprised, since I had always vetoed the idea of eating there before, because of the cost.

Then she smiled. “Che pensiero meraviglioso.”

The End

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