no doubt in Luke’s mind
that Dog was going to be spoiled rotten by the women.
“Just sit down, sweetie.” Elspeth
nodded towards the table. “I’ll bring some bowls over in a minute.”
Not quite sure what to do with
himself, Luke sat on one side of the table before a set of spoon, knife and fork
and a hot mug of Milo. The head of the table and right opposite him was set
the same. He snuck a look over to see that the stove, which he’d thought was a
wood burner, was actually a big old gas stove.
Mikki stood beside Elspeth holding
a bowl which her aunt took, filled with stew and handed back to Mikki. Without
a word, Mikki brought it over and set it before him before repeating it with
the other two bowls.
Luke took an appreciative sniff of
the hot stew. Man, it smelled bloody beaut. He looked it over. Filled with
meat, veggies, and delicious liquid, it would go down a treat on this cool
“Smells yum.” Poking it around
with the spoon, he watched the steam swirl up.
“One thing I can do is make a mean
stew.” Elspeth retrieved Dog’s food bowl, spooned some stew into it and set it
on the table. “Gotta cool it first, boy, or you’ll burn your tongue.”
“You’re spoiling him,” Luke said mildly.
Sitting opposite, Mikki took one of
the small bread rolls from the plate in the middle of the table and cut it
open. “If you’ve got a problem with that, it’s going to be an on-going fight
“I can live with it.” Luke jerked
a thumb at Dog. “He can certainly live with it.”
Elspeth sat at the head of the table.
“By the way,” Luke said, “how come
there’s electricity in this part of the house and not the rest? I mean, why
the servants’ quarters only? And how come there is electricity? Did you have
it put on?”
“Yes, I had it put back on.”
Elspeth buttered a small bread roll. “The last owner was apparently a bit of
an eccentric. He was determined to save money by being economical. He slept
in one of the servant’s rooms and only had electricity in this section of the
house. Apparently he never ventured much into the rest of the house.”
“What about his family?” Mikki asked
“He was the last child in the
family and never married.”
Luke watched Mikki take a thoughtful
bite of the bread roll, those lush lips closing around the doughy bread.
“Some say he was a few ‘roos short
in the top paddock,” Elspeth continued. “I think maybe he was just sad and
What makes you say that?” Luke
Elspeth slipped Dog’s bowl down to
him. “He was alone in a big house, he sequestered himself to these spartan
quarters. I reckon he was a man in mourning.”
Luke’s eyebrows shot upwards.
“I know what it means, but why was
he in mourning? Did someone die?” A thought struck Luke. “A lost love?”
Cripes, that sounded romantic. No
chance Mikki would miss it, not when her eyes brightened.
“Ohh, so romantic,” she cooed. “A
“Can it, sister.” He spooned up
stew, took a mouthful. Damned delicious . “Okay, Elspeth, what was this
“There’re a few stories.” She
waggled her spoon around. “His mother shot his father in a jealous rage when
she found out he was cheating on her. His sister ran away with the butler-”
“I like that one,” Mikki interrupted.
“Marrying beneath her station, what a scandal!”
“Just a minute.” Luke buttered
another bread roll. “How old was the owner of this house when he died?”
“Ninety six,” Elspeth replied.
“And that was twenty years ago.”
“So he was born around the early
1900s.” Mikki nodded. “That’d make sense.”
“When one of the care aids who
came out here to help him bath arrived one day, she found him dead at the
bottom of the staircase.” Elspeth scooped up stew on her spoon. “It’s