Mistletoe and murder, p.1
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Mistletoe and Murder, p.1

           Robin Stevens
Download  in MP3 audio
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Mistletoe and Murder


  Contents

  CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY

  A NOTE ON CAMBRIDGE COLLEGES

  PART ONE: THE DETECTIVE SOCIETY ON HOLIDAY

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  PART TWO: THE DETECTIVE SOCIETY TAKES A BET

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  PART THREE: MINCE PIES AND MURDER

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  PART FOUR: COCOA AND CRIMINOLOGY

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  PART FIVE: DECK THE HALLS

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  PART SIX: THE PLOT THICKENS AND THE SNOW FALLS

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  PART SEVEN: IN THE DEEP MIDWINTER

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  PART EIGHT: PEACE ON EARTH

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Daisy’s Guide to Cambridge

  Author’s Note and Acknowledgements

  Also by Robin Stevens:

  MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE

  ARSENIC FOR TEA

  FIRST CLASS MURDER

  JOLLY FOUL PLAY

  Available online:

  THE CASE OF THE BLUE VIOLET

  THE CASE OF THE DEEPDEAN VAMPIRE

  Tuck-box-sized mysteries starring Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong

  Coming soon:

  CREAM BUNS AND CRIME

  Tricks, tips and tales from the Detective Society

  To my grandma, Phyllis Booth,

  a truly formidable woman.

  Being an account of

  The Case of the Christmas Crimes,

  an investigation by the Wells and Wong Detective Society.

  Written by Hazel Wong

  (Detective Society Vice-President and Secretary), aged 14.

  Begun Monday 23rd December 1935.

  ST LUCY’S COLLEGE

  Daisy Wells – Guest at St Lucy’s and President of the Wells & Wong Detective Society

  Hazel Wong – Guest at St Lucy’s and Vice-President and Secretary of the Wells & Wong Detective Society

  Eustacia Mountfitchet – Mathematics don and great-aunt to Daisy and Bertie Wells

  Amanda Price – First-year History student

  MAUDLIN COLLEGE

  Albert ‘Bertie’ Wells – Brother of Daisy Wells and first-year History student

  Donald Melling – First-year History student and older brother of Chummy Melling

  Charles ‘Chummy’ Melling – First-year History student and younger brother of Donald Melling

  Alfred Cheng – First-year History student

  Michael Butler – History don

  Moss – Bedder for Staircase Nine

  Mr Perkins – Porter

  ST JOHN’S COLLEGE

  Alexander Arcady – Guest at St John’s and Co-Chair of the Junior Pinkertons

  George Mukherjee – Guest at St John’s, Co-Chair of the Junior Pinkertons and younger brother of Harold Mukherjee

  Harold Mukherjee – First-year History student and older brother of George Mukherjee

  A NOTE ON CAMBRIDGE COLLEGES

  Maudlin College, Cambridge, is not a real place. I borrowed the sound of its name from Magdalen College in Oxford – Magdalen is pronounced Maudlin, which I always thought was very funny. St Lucy’s is not real either, though it is based on the women’s colleges that existed in both Oxford and Cambridge at the time. St John’s College is real and so are most of the other places I mention in the book. Only the murder is entirely made up …

  1

  ‘No one is dead – yet,’ said Daisy darkly.

  It was two days before Christmas, and we were sitting in Fitzbillies tea rooms in Cambridge. It was just Daisy, Alexander, George and myself, and as we sat there, I wondered if we would look odd to the grown-ups around us. Although Daisy is nearly fifteen now, tall and slender and with a most fashionable new fur-collared coat, my face is still round, and I am still disappointingly short. I suppose the grown-ups at the other tables thought we were only children, playing at being business-like – but if they knew what we were really talking about, they would be terribly surprised.

  ‘I admit that this case does not so far contain a death,’ Daisy went on. ‘But that may yet still change. And if it does come to murder, then Hazel and I will certainly have the advantage. We have investigated—’

  ‘Four murder cases, we know,’ said George. ‘But that doesn’t make you the better detective society.’

  ‘We’ll see about that,’ said Daisy, glaring at him. ‘So. Let’s discuss this bet.’

  You see, we are more grown-up than we seem because all four of us are detectives, members of two top-secret societies, the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons. Daisy and I really have solved four murder cases to date – and now it looked like we might perhaps be on our way to a fifth.

  It was true that the information we had been given was slight, but as Daisy says, it is important for good detectives to seize every opportunity as it comes. In the day since Daisy and I arrived in Cambridge we have heard things and seen things that are highly suspicious. The fact that it is the Christmas holidays, and we are staying in a strange college in a strange city, will not be enough to stop us investigating. We are used to working in the most awkward situations, after all; we have done it before. Really, the most unusual thing about this case is that we will not be the only society investigating it.

  You see, we have agreed to pit our wits against Alexander and George’s society, the Junior Pinkertons, in the race to solve this new case. Daisy looks down on them for not having investigated any murders, but all the same I know that they are very good detectives. Alexander helped us with the Orient Express case last summer, and both Alexander and George assisted with the Bonfire Night murder only a month ago. Besides, I have heard from Alexander about some of the other cases they have solved – they are all quite hair-raising, and would have tested Daisy and me severely.

  Of course, we have been up against opponents before as we have gone about our cases, but they have never known that we were in competition with them. Daisy and I have a very strict rule about keeping the Detective Society a secret from grown-ups. But I have the distinct feeling that working against Alexander and George will be far more difficult than outwitting Dr Sandwich, the foolish amateur detective who tried (and failed)
to solve the Orient Express case too. After all, grown-ups always underestimate children. Children never underestimate each other.

  I ought to explain, I suppose, how we first heard about this case. It all began yesterday, when Daisy and I arrived in Cambridge and met her brother Bertie.

  2

  We took the train from Deepdean on Sunday morning. Matron waved us off from Deepdean station nannyishly and handed us sandwiches wrapped in wax paper (we ate them almost as soon as the train had pulled away, and then regretted it when lunch time rolled around). But, somehow, folding up the wax paper after our meal folded away the whole school term, the arguments and rivalries and especially the mystery we had investigated just after Bonfire Night. I breathed out, and felt all my school worries fading.

  Daisy took out Gaudy Night from her bag, pressing it down so that the left-hand page touched my knee, and the right page hers. We were supposed to be reading it together – although really what happened was that Daisy turned the first twenty pages so quickly I could barely catch half the words, and then stopped and stared out of the train window at the bare, frosty hills we were galloping past. Of course, Daisy had taken the window seat.

  I could tell that Gaudy Night was not turning out to be at all what she expected from a mystery novel, but I turned a few more pages myself, folding them under her hand as tidily as I could. Then I nudged her. She was very still, and I wondered if she was thinking about the book.

  ‘I’m sure it’ll improve!’ I said.

  Daisy turned to me, wide-eyed. ‘Oh, I wasn’t thinking about that!’ she said. ‘I was considering Cambridge. Imagine, Hazel. A whole city to ourselves, with no bothersome adults to tell us what we can and can’t do!’

  I smiled at her. A whole city to ourselves – a city (although I would never say this to Daisy) that had Alexander Arcady in it.

  Daisy and I had met Alexander on the Orient Express over the summer. Since then, Alexander and I had begun to write letters to each other, and by now knew each other very well. I had not yet met his best friend George, and nor had Daisy, but we both knew that he was the other half of the Junior Pinkertons. The boys had not been on the scene of our Bonfire Mystery – they had been at school themselves, miles away – but they had still written to us with suggestions and ideas for the case, and had been very useful indeed.

  Alexander was already in Cambridge, spending Christmas with George and George’s older brother, Harold, who went to St John’s College. They had both been sent by their fathers to see the place where they would go to university, and at the end of last term Alexander had suggested that we come as well.

  The invitation came at the perfect time. I had been worried about where Daisy and I would go for Christmas this year. I cannot go back to my home during the holidays, for my family lives in Hong Kong, and it would take three weeks and several boats to get there. Last year I went to Daisy’s house, Fallingford, for Christmas – but after what happened there at Easter, my father is not very willing to let me stay there again, and besides, Daisy goes very still and cold at the thought of visiting. Fallingford has changed, and it is hard for her to see it.

  There was never any question about whether Daisy could spend Christmas in Cambridge. Her older brother, Bertie, is a student at Maudlin College. Daisy couldn’t stay at Maudlin herself, of course – it is a men’s college, and female guests are simply not allowed, not even little sisters. Luckily, she could stay with her old great-aunt Eustacia, a Mathematics don at one of the women’s colleges, St Lucy’s. (Cambridge is split up into lots of different colleges, you see, where students live and study. A don is just a university word for a teacher who looks after those college students, and apparently Daisy’s great-aunt is a very important one.)

  I was more of an issue. My father is not very happy about the number of murders I have found myself part of recently. He thinks Daisy is mostly to blame, and so I worried about whether I would be allowed to stay with her in an unfamiliar city full of male students. But when I plucked up the courage to ask, he agreed at once. You see, my father studied at Cambridge, many years ago, and so all his memories of it are happy and scholarly, not dangerous at all.

  He told me all about it down the telephone, and again in a very long letter, so I spent the weeks before we got on the train imagining what my life might be like if I passed my Deepdean leaving exams and was given a university place at Cambridge. I could not take a degree, for Cambridge does not let women have them (when I heard this I was rather indignant, but I suppose it is only one of the long list of things women are not allowed to do), but I could still study the same courses as the men. I saw myself walking across grassy quads in a black cap and gown, clutching learned books, bicycling past King’s College Chapel, and taking tea with my clever university friends in a Cambridge tea shop. Here, at last, I could become truly English.

  I thought at first that we would be chaperoned by Hetty, Daisy’s maid from Fallingford, who had looked after us on the Orient Express, but Daisy managed that as well, in consultation with Bertie.

  ‘What about my friend Amanda Price?’ Bertie asked us on the telephone. ‘She goes to St Lucy’s, Aunt E’s college, you know, and she’ll be staying this hols. If we tell Aunt E that she’s going to look after you, she’ll let you go wherever you like.’

  ‘But will she look after us?’ I asked.

  ‘Do you want her to?’ Bertie asked wryly down the phone.

  I did not understand what he meant until Daisy, next to me, nudged me and beamed. ‘Oh!’ I said. ‘So we’ll be on our own?’

  ‘You are clever, Bertie,’ said Daisy happily. ‘No one running about after us! We shall be able to have much more fun!’

  I thought of Hetty, and felt a pang – but all the same I realized that I did love the idea of being free of grown-ups for once. Even on the Orient Express it had felt rather like we were still at school. But now we could really be almost fifteen. There would be no one trying to send us back to the nursery. It really is silly when adults try to protect children, as though we are not on our way to becoming adults ourselves. We need to understand the world, and they only have themselves to blame if we must creep about and lie to them to make sure we do it.

  I stared out of the train window round Daisy’s shoulder, and as the slender spires of the Cambridge towers came into view for the first time, elegant and fairy-like against the pale sky, I could almost feel myself getting older.

  3

  We stepped off the train at Cambridge, the train guard handing us out of our first-class carriage and arranging porters to take our trunks to St Lucy’s. It felt like the beginning of something important. I stared at Daisy as she stood gracefully in her fur-collared coat next to her pile of gold monogrammed luggage, and realized after a moment that she was practising her grown-up pose.

  The station itself was hectically busy. As we began to make our way to the exit, people went shoving past us, their arms full of wrapped parcels and large books. I was pleased to see that everyone at Cambridge really did look as though they were clever.

  Then Bertie came pushing through the crowd. His blond hair was longer than it had been last time I saw him, and he was wearing a new bow tie, but he still looked so much like Daisy that I immediately felt at ease. When he caught sight of her he waved his arms and beamed with the same expression she has when she sees something she is particularly pleased with. For a moment Daisy forgot the composure she had been trying on the platform. She jumped forward and flung her arms about Bertie’s neck with a shriek. Then she stepped away, tucking her hair back in place under its hat.

  ‘Hullo, Squinty. You’ve still got those awful green trousers, I see,’ she said lovingly.

  ‘Hullo to you too, Squashy, Hazel,’ said Bertie, winking at her and bowing formally in my direction (I blushed, because it felt so awfully grown up). ‘All right, both of you, come on!’ He led us out of the station entrance, and we stood in the thin winter sunlight, shivering rather. ‘Amanda’s late – I told her to meet me her
e ten minutes ago, but she hasn’t shown-up,’ Bertie told us. ‘She’s been dreadfully forgetful lately, so I only hope she remembers!’

  ‘How is Cambridge?’ I asked, trying to say something polite. Daisy was staring about at all the cyclists flashing by, eyes widening to take everything in. There were lots of bicycles, which unnerved me – their bells were as loud as shouts, and they seemed quite precarious. I suddenly wondered if my vision of bicycling through Cambridge might have been rather wishful thinking. After all, I can barely balance on my two feet sometimes. Wobbling about on two thin wheels seems dreadfully advanced.

  ‘Oh, it’s excellent fun!’ said Bertie. ‘Spiffing food – meringues and fizz almost every afternoon in someone’s rooms – and last week someone let a sheep into the quad.’

  ‘Oh,’ I said. The bunbreak sounded like my idea of Cambridge, but the sheep less so. ‘But how are your History lectures?’

  ‘Oh, who cares about those?’ asked Bertie, shrugging his shoulders. ‘I haven’t been to one since the first week.’

  Daisy stopped looking at the bicycles. ‘Why aren’t you going to lectures?’ she asked sharply.

  ‘Why should I? Amanda goes for us,’ said Bertie. ‘And anyway, no one cares about your first year.’

  ‘That isn’t true,’ said Daisy, rolling her eyes.

  ‘You don’t know that, Squashy!’ said Bertie quickly. ‘Look, it’s perfectly ordinary. All the other fellows do it. Chummy does, and he’s a good sort. You don’t need to worry. I’m older than you, and I know what I’m doing.’

  ‘Hmm,’ said Daisy, still looking sceptical. ‘Who is Chummy?’

  ‘My friend!’ said Bertie. ‘Listen, I’ll study when I need to. I don’t see why I can’t have a good time now, after … what happened earlier this year.’

  There are gaps in Bertie’s sentences whenever he is thinking about Fallingford. He was hit terribly hard by the murder that took place in his own home, and by The Trial that followed.

  I squeezed Daisy’s arm. I could tell she was not happy, but I did not want her and Bertie arguing. I wanted this Christmas to be a merry one. ‘Oh, all right, then,’ said Daisy, breathing out and relaxing against me. ‘You can do what you like. Go on, tell me more about Chummy. Who would want to be friends with you?’

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment