A Murder at Rosamund's Gate

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins Read Free Book Online

Book: A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susanna Calkins
Tags: Fiction, Historical, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, amateur sleuth
fur. “A fair angel.”
    “Was she your beloved?” Lucy asked gently.
    “Beloved?” He seemed confused by her words, and then his brow cleared. “No, Avery doesn’t have a sweetheart. Me and Kitty just have each other. Avery meant the girl sleeping in the field.”
    “In the field?”
    “She looked like a sleeping angel, she did. Her hair was spread out so fine. Me and Kitty were hid behind a tree, but we could see her, lying in the grasses. Peaceful, she looked. But Avery did not like that the witches stole her clothes while she was asleep.”
    “She didn’t wake up? When people were taking her clothes?” asked Lucy, sitting straight up. Something seemed off.
    Avery rubbed his nose in the kitten’s soft fur. “Like the men in the war. They didn’t wake up either,” he muttered. “All kinds of things happened to them.”
    An unpleasant thought occurred to Lucy. Her heart tripped faster. “Asleep, like the men—you fought with?” Lucy asked casually. “Did those people—witches, did you say?—help her, the angel, er, fall asleep?”
    Avery shook his shaggy head. “No, they just took her clothes. She looked cold and alone. Avery wanted to cover her up. Poor angel.” Then his face changed. He looked unbearably sad and fully comprehending. “She was dead.”

3
    The next day, being Palm Sunday, the whole household rose early, good members of the king’s Church that they were. They walked together to St. Peter’s, Master Hargrave carefully guiding the mistress over mislaid stones and puddles in the street. A light mist drifted about them, softly billowing against the line of trees and the houses they passed. Adam and his parents were speaking in hushed tones. Lucy caught the word “plague.” She shuddered, focusing instead on the sweet smell of lavender coming from her hair and skin. She had been the last to use the bathwater the night before, and Bessie had added a few drops of her special perfume to freshen the cold tub.
    Lucas and Sarah walked nimbly along, chattering about a gypsy who’d been fortune-telling at Covent Garden and was known to have set up camp in nearby Linley Park.
    “Did she tell you about the man you were going to marry?” Lucas asked, guiding Sarah around a heap of still-steaming manure.
    “Oh, yes,” Sarah said, giggling. “She said he would not be so handsome.” Then she remembered something else. “Oh, and Father! The fortune-teller told me that I am to travel a great deal, across many rivers, she said, but that you would not like it. I wonder why? I should always come back to visit.”
    “I should hope so,” the magistrate said drily, turning to look at his daughter. “However, I do not think the goodly Reverend Marcus would like us talking about fortune-telling on the Sabbath. Especially now that Lucas has begun his studies with him.”
    Lucas looked abashed. “Oh, yes, sir. You’re right, sir.”
    Once inside St. Peter’s, a gray stone church built in the fourteenth century, the family took their seats in their accustomed row, with the Hargraves toward the front and the servants standing next to the pew, alongside the wall. When Lucy had first starting attending the parish church with the Hargraves, she had been glad to be able to hear the minister so clearly. Now she wished she could sit in the back of the church with the common folk, since the new minister had a way of staring at a body with a scorching gaze, verily reading one’s soul. His stories of hell and damnation made her heart beat painfully.
    Lucy leaned against the oak wall, the stone floor hard on her feet. She shifted her weight carefully, so as not to attract anyone’s attention. Stifling a sigh, Lucy tried to focus on the minister’s words. Master Hargrave would question them on the walk home. He saw it as his godly duty, as head of the household, to make sure they were properly instructed in the faith.
    Today, the reverend was speaking on the weakness of woman, one of his favorite topics.

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