The serial whodunit’s trail of clues have led Bristol’s Criers to Bristol’s witches. Will an interview with the Normyl sisters cast some light on the murder of Jasper Trustworthy?
Cousins Emeraude a’Right, Harold Angel, and Dorcas Oddpick – found the witches of Bristol in the last place they looked: The town graveyard. As it happened, this was also the first place they looked, and as sisters Gertrude and Beatrix Normyl were there, they thought it most time-efficient to discontinue their search.
Gertrude saw them coming from some paces off, and prodded Beatrix with her broomstick. “Look here, sister,” the green witch said. “It is the Town Criers, come to make inquiry of us as to the fate of Jasper Trustworthy.”
The Criers stopped short in surprise. “And by what witchcraft didst thou know of our coming??” Emeraude wondered.
“Indeed, it were a deduction most simple,” said Gertrude. “For, as I did leave the Swedish governess under the mistaken impression that Trustworthy hath been turned into a lizard of wood, I knew ‘twould be a matter of time only before that selfsame Swede did proclaim her supposed triumph to all who could make sense of her heavily accented jabber. And as our town’s Criers have attuned their ears to any and all news, however questionable, I have expected the better part of this hour to be visited by you and hounded for facts.”
Eyebrows raised, Harold turned to Emeraude. “That was some clever reasoning. Mayhap we could use these wise-women’s aid in our investigation.”
Beatrix chose that moment to cackle, chase at shadows, and pull expressions never before seen on a human face, causing Harold to amend, “Erm, or mayhap not both of them. (Why is it that half the people we’ve encountered this morning are mad?)”
“We’re all mad, here,” Dorcas said serenely. “’Tis a wonderland. Curiouser and curiouser. All ways are the Queen’s ways.”
“Grammercy for the reminder, Dorcas,” said Emeraude. The Criers had no time to dally: Her Majesty, Elizabeth – by God’s grace, the first sovereign of England to bear that name – was scheduled to arrive in town in less than two hours, and it would not do to have Jasper Trustworthy’s killer running around loose when that happened. With that in mind, Emeraude promptly brought the conversation back around to questioning the witches, asking Gertrude, “Were you aware that the real Jasper has been murdered?”
Gertrude blinked. “Murdered? And wherefore do you believe he hath been murdered?”
“Because we found him dead in the lake,” said Harold.
“Poor Jasper!” said Beatrix, wringing her hands. “Drowned in the lake! If only he were Conrad. Conrad can’t be drowned!”
“Conrad being…?” said Emeraude.
The blue witch pointed with a tortured-looking backscratcher to the tip of her hat, where dangled a tiny fish’s skeleton. “Conrad!” she announced, and broke into another round of cackles.
“It looks not as if Conrad’s lack of ability drown was enough to save him,” Harold remarked.
“And who’s to say that Jasper died by drowning?” said Emeraude. “He might have been beaten, stabbed or poisoned – or hexed,” she said, with a suspicious look at the witches, “ – and then tossed into the lake afterward.”
“Mayhap your investigation would go more smoothly,” suggested Gertrude, “were you to first ascertain the cause of Trustworthy’s death. The method might point to the murderer.”
“A wise-woman indeed!” said Emeraude. “Come, cousins – to the lake!”
Leaving words of farewell and gratitude behind them, the Criers made all haste back to the bridge over Lake Elizabeth. But, as they saw upon arrival, all haste was not enough.
“Oh, no,” Harold moaned.
“Huzzah!” Dorcas cheered. “Jasper woke up from his lake nap after all!”
“He did not awake, Dorcas,” Emeraude sighed. “He’s just gone. Someone has stolen the body.”
How was Trustworthy killed? Whodunit? And where in all of England is the body?? As the questions pile skyward, stay tuned to find out what answers Bristol’s Town Criers turn up!