The Trouble with Harriet

The Trouble with Harriet by Dorothy Cannell Read Free Book Online

Book: The Trouble with Harriet by Dorothy Cannell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy Cannell
Tags: british cozy mystery
sister, who is housekeeper to the priest at the Christ Kirche in Loetzinn. And yet so agreeably ready to believe I am your sister. Not always tapping on the door with offers of an English cup of tea or hovering about in the hall to see what time I leave of an evening. Speaking of departures, my darling one, how long before you bid Schonbrunn adieu?’
    “ ‘How long will you remain, my Harriet?’
    “ ‘Until October or November. There’s no reason for me to rush back. Ingo and Anna are insistent that I stay until ...’ Harriet stared straight ahead for a moment. ‘Until I have eaten them out of house and home.’
    “ ‘But you are well again?’ The man behind the newspaper couldn’t have heard me. I could hardly hear myself.
    “ ‘Completely. There’s not the least need for a moment’s concern. A Gypsy told me so. A true Gypsy, she called herself, as opposed, I suppose, to the kind that has never set foot in a caravan except for a week’s holiday at Skegness. She came up to me when I was sitting on a park bench a few weeks ago, just before I met you.’
    “ ‘Did she foresee me in your future?’
    “ ‘She told me I would meet a marvelous man who would fulfill my destiny.”
    “ ‘Any mention of wedding bells?’ Hope dangled just out of reach.
    “ ‘She told me I had married at thirty, that there had been no children, and that he had left me eventually for a younger woman. She also pointed out that I didn’t do badly financially. Which was true. The bugger didn’t insist I take all of everything. But he did sign over a few investments that have kept me going in reasonable comfort. But enough about him. May he rot in peace.’
    “ ‘He’s dead?’
    “ ‘Didn’t I tell you?’ Harriet shrugged her shoulders. ‘It was really very sad. He collapsed on his honeymoon with the baby-doll bride. It was at one of those spa places, the doctor said he must have overexerted himself playing squash.’
    “ ‘Did the Gypsy say anything else about the future?’
    “ ‘Oh, just the usual silly stuff about being careful of water and watching out for black cats crossing my path; nothing to worry about.’
    “And, unforgivable fool that I was, I agreed with her.”
     

Chapter 5
     
    “Somehow I don’t think this bedtime story is going to have a happy ending.” Freddy broke the silence that had settled over the drawing room like a damp set of dust covers after my father’s voice faded away.
    “Possibly you were helped by a very small clue.” I looked pointedly at the clay pot containing the mortal remains of the woman who had stolen my mother’s memory.
    “Sorry, I forgot.” Freddy hung his head like a child who has been scolded by his kindergarten teacher for bringing a frog to school. Making himself look utterly ridiculous, given his six-foot height and the beard, to say nothing of the earring and ponytail. I wasn’t feeling particularly loving to anyone at that moment, including my husband, who was hovering over Daddy like Florence Nightingale with a brandy decanter instead of a lamp. Probably something metabolic. For surely a person’s kindness level can drop, in just the same way that one’s sugar level can plummet to dangerous lows in the absence of a bar of chocolate. Come to think of it, I had hardly eaten a thing all day. I had been too rattled at seeing the children off to do more than swallow a token slice of toast at breakfast. Lunch had somehow got lost in the shuffle of packing and changing the beds so that they would be fresh upon our return from the holiday, which, in Ben’s and my case, was now clearly not to be.
    “I think Daddy should have something to eat before he attempts to finish telling us about Harriet.” I got up and stood looking around as if trying to remember where I had last put the kitchen.
    “No, no! I couldn’t possibly swallow a morsel.”
    “But you must,” cajoled Miss Nightingale, administering a few drops of life-giving brandy. “I don’t suppose

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