“Whodunit 5” or “What Do You Do with a Dead Non-Sailor?”

When we left Bristol’s Town Criers slash amateur sleuths, they had just made a discovery most disruptive to their investigation. To wit, they were suddenly short one corpse.

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“He could be anywhere!” Emeraude a’Right wailed, her usually unsinkable cheeriness sinking now. How could the Town Criers of Bristol solve Jasper Trustworthy’s murder – or even prove there had been a murder – with the body mysteriously vanished?

“Only anywhere the killer is,” said Harold Angel, grimly. “And the killer’s likely not had time to leave the town, yet. So the body must be somewhere nearby.”

“Mayhap Jasper went sailing,” suggested Dorcas Oddpick.

“Sailing on what, the Dreadnought?” said Harold, referring sarcastically to the ship moored permanently in the town’s New Market area, beside the Three Sheets Stage.

“Nay,” said Dorcas, pointing past the bridge rail behind her Crier cousins. “On the Gabriel.”

Emeraude and Harold turned, and contrary to all sensible expectation, there floated the Gabriel, flagship of Captain Sir Martin Frobisher.

The dashing captain himself, his likeness captured for the annals of history by Nicole Dh.

“How did that end up in Lake Elizabeth??” Emeraude wondered.

“Well,” Harold said, “Frobisher is known for being somewhat, ahem, directionally challenged.”

“Sooth enough, but is that not what his ship’s boy is for?”

As if invoked by the mere mention of the title, the red head of the ship’s boy appeared at the starboard rail.

Employing his finest Town Crying technique (deep breath, bellow from the diaphragm, never from the throat), Harold called up, “Ahoy, Anne! …Um, Drew,” he belatedly remembered to add. It was a well-known secret that Frobisher’s ship’s boy was, in fact, a girl; so well-known, in fact, that the only individual not in on the secret was Frobisher himself – and Anne had implored or threatened everyone to keep it that way. “Wherefore is the Gabriel sailing the lake?”

How Frobisher could mistake this fair face (as photographed by Wayne Hile) for that of a lad is anyone’s guess.

“Captain’s orders, Angel,” Anne Drew called down in her non-sailor-like upper-class dialect. “He insisted that we be the first sailors here, that he might map out the lake before anyone else, and thereby name it after himself.”

“The lake hath already been named after our most adored Queen Elizabeth, long may she reign!” shouted Emeraude. “What’s more, it hath already been included on the maps they do hand away free at the town gates!”

“So I did endeavor to tell him,” Anne said. “And thou canst see for thyself how well he did listen.”

“Have you been here long?” Emeraude asked, hopeful that one of the Gabriel’s crew may have witnessed Trustworthy’s body-napping (by which she did not mean Dorcas’s naïve theory of Jasper’s dozing in the lake).

“These last ten min,” Anne replied. “And an eventful ten min were they! The Captain pitched a fit over a trifle, and in turn pitched one of the men overboard! I lowered a rope to him, once the Captain’s back was turned, and when the lads and I hauled him up, he was bearing another fellow!”

“Was it Jasper Trustworthy?!” the Criers asked eagerly.

Anne Drew’s hat tassel bobbed in a nod. “Aye, and his soul gone down to the deep. …Or however deep this lake is. And that’s assuming the man had a soul to start with, as his behavior at the Shanty Sing yesterden might well lead one to doubt.”

“Wherefore, what did he did do at the Shanty Sing?” Harold asked.

“Let us say only that he caused some injurious mischief between the Captain and one of his favored, erm, shore companions.”

“And when you say ‘shore companion’…” said Emeraude.

“I mean a businesswoman of the night,” Anne clarified.

“Right,” said Emeraude, chewing her lower lip. She had dared to hope that it wouldn’t come to this, but it seemed now that there was nothing for it. “Don’t let that body off the ship, Anne Drew!” she called up. “We shall return for it as soon as we have means to examine it properly. In the meanwhile, cousins,” she resignedly addressed the Criers, “we have some Shanty Singing floozies to interrogate.”

Who killed Jasper Trustworthy? A hot-tempered Captain? A fraudulent ship’s boy? A wanton woman scorned? Stay tuned for the next installment when the Bristol’s Town Criers continue their quest to uncover whodunit!

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