November 2nd—All Souls’ Day
‘Mr Pierce, we retired early, after that horrid dinner, and slept through the night. At our age, did you expect us to be about frolicking?’ Mrs Hanson sighed, the bitterness of her filtering into her voice. John felt her exasperation. He and Miss Powell had been asking questions all day, to no great revelatory avail.
We retired early, heard nothing but the storm.
Of course Fred did it for money.
We had our differences with Mr Willcombe, but nothing worth killing over.
This house wasn’t right after Rosalind Willcombe passed.
And now it was the Hansons’ turn—left for last as the newest…friends.
‘I’m sure you both understand,’ John said, throwing them a conciliatory smile which bounced off their discontent. ‘I must ask. Ensure everything is done properly.’
Mrs Hanson sniffed, and Mr Hanson looked…completely elsewhere, his eyes glazed over.
Still, she nodded.
If not for his friend’s life on the line, and Miss Powell’s conviction and support flowing through him—even as she remained unobtrusively in the corner, watching—John might’ve been infected by the Hansons’…lassitude.
‘What prompted the move here, if I may ask?’
Always good to relax people with seemingly innocuous questions.
‘Fresh air,’ Mrs Hanson said flatly.
So did she.
‘And how did you become acquainted with Richard Willcombe?’
‘He was a good man, Dickie,’ Mr Hanson said, to Mrs Hanson’s dismay.
‘You knew him well, then?’ John pressed before she could intervene. ‘I understood you were recent acquaintances.’
‘Grew up here,’ Mr Hanson said, clarity shooing the glazed eyes away. ‘Came back to end my days in the house I was born.’
‘You were friends before?’
‘He was a good man, Dickie. Fred is a good boy.’
‘Obviously not,’ Mrs Hanson sneered, and John bit his tongue so as not to say something highly uncharitable. ‘Mr Pierce, my husband tires easily. That will be all for today.’
Defeated, John nodded; he’d seen the laudanum in the Hansons’ room, and knew now its use wasn’t only for physical pain.
‘Thank you for your time.’
He rose with the Hansons, Mrs Hanson dragging her husband to his feet.
‘Mr Pierce,’ she said imperiously. ‘Everyone for fifty miles knew of Fred Willcombe’s excesses, and his difficulties with his father. I suggest you adhere to the principles of parsimony in this case.’
Inclining his head, he watched them depart, Mrs Hanson not failing to shoot Miss Powell an acidic glare as she passed.
Time is running out, and we’ve no further clues.
The door snicked, and Miss Powell turned to him, and suddenly, he felt slightly less…bad.
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