Let the second chapter of my Bristol-based murder mystery commence!
“This is terrible.”
Emeraude a’Right worried her Town Crier sash, her green eyes everywhere but on the water below the bridge, where floated the mortal remains of Jasper Trustworthy – self-styled “legitimate man of business”, better known slimy swindler, and perhaps something of a ye olde mob boss, informal director of Bristol’s streets as he was. …or had been.
Emeraude’s cousin and fellow Crier, Dorcas Oddpick, blinked at her with pure incomprehension. “What’s so terrible about a nap?”
“What’s terrible,” said Harold Angel, likewise a cousin and Crier, “is that Trustworthy nappeth not – he hath been murdered!”
Emeraude shook her head. “Nay: What’s terrible is that he hath been murdered on the day the Queen is to arrive in Bristol! Who would do such a thing?!”
“Murder Trustworthy?” said Harold. “Just about anyone, I would expect. I mean, nobody liked him.”
“Nobody likes you,” Dorcas told him, “and you’re not napping!”
“I like you, Harold,” said Emeraude, flashing a quick smile before her brow furrowed in thought. “We cannot have a killer on the loose with Her Majesty in town. ‘Twould be right unseemly. The way I see it, cousins, there’s but one thing to be done.”
“Cry the news?” said Harold, and spread out his hands as if to frame the headline of a broadside. “‘Trustworthy Takes the Long Swim! Streets of Bristol Safe Not! Citizens Advised to—’”
“Nay, nay, nay!” Emeraude slapped Harold’s hands down. “You’ll frighten off the Queen’s party, with that sort of fuss! Nay, what we’ve got to do is discover who killed Jasper and see that person brought to justice.”
Dorcas cocked her head. “Is not the Chief Justice stayed for with the Robin Hood scenario?”
“We’ll work around that.”
“What about our hawking schedule?” Harold asked.
“We’ll work around that, too. We’ll work around aught that needs working ‘round, just so long as we get this mess cleared up before the Queen’s parade! Now, come on!” Emeraude led the way off of the bridge. “Let’s find somebody that looks suspicious!”
It didn’t take long. Emeraude hadn’t made it as far as the city gates when a cockeyed boot with spoons for ears popped up mere inches from her nose. “Good day, Emmas!” the boot greeted.
When Emeraude’s heart resumed beating, she returned, “Good day, Pony.”
The lass with the boot on her hand and the bodice on her head pulled an impressive frowny face. “You’re supposed to say it to Flo-o-ora!”
“Um, I cry thy pardon. Good day, Flora,” Emeraude addressed the boot.
At her ear, Harold murmured, “I know not why you humor her. She’s clearly touched in the head.”
“Pony’s all right,” Emeraude whispered back.
Harold pointed to the girl in question. “She puts a carrot on her head and calls herself a unicorn.”
“Well, what else do you call a pony with a horn?”
“It’s not a real horn! And she’s not a real pony!”
“Oy am so-o-o!” Pony protested. “Dog says oy am a real pony, and that means oy am a real unicorn, too!”
“Speaking of Dog,” said Emeraude, looking around for Pony’s senior partner in the retail of shiny junk, “knowest thou where we might find him? We’ve got a few questions to ask of him.”
Pony screwed up her face in thought. “Oy think he went to fetch a new stick.”
“Wherefore, what happened to his old one?” Broken over the back of Jasper’s head, mayhap?, Emeraude wondered. Local gossip ran that Trustworthy had cheated Dog out of several sales, having convinced Pony that bits of straw made better currency than coins. Gossip also ran that Dog was known to fly into rages that involved beating people with cowbells. Howe’er, as that latter story had been started by Pony, the Criers hadn’t been inclined to spread the so-called news around.
In answer to Emeraude’s question, Pony pointed at Dorcas, who stood blissfully allowing Flora to nibble at the yarn flowers on her hat. “She hid it last week. And she won’t give it back!”
Dorcas giggled unrepentantly, and Harold shook his head. “It’s a wonder no one’s put her down for a nap in the lake.”
Catching a glimpse of Dog’s approach, Emeraude’s eyes opened wide. “Speak not too soon, cousin.”
Harold followed her gaze and whistled. “Now that,” he said, “is a stick!”
Who killed Jasper Trustworthy? Was it Dog with the stick (or a cowbell)? Pony with the boo— ahem, with Flora? Or was it… someone else? Continue to match wits with Emeraude a’Right, and see if you can figure out who hath done it!