The Lovers of Reading Abbey - part 3
After that, she left the room and decided, as Mary had suggested her, to talk to Margaret Murphy who was the housekeeper of the Abbey. She wasn’t beautiful and didn’t seem to be kind. She was just strict like her job. Mrs. Murphy was little and had a hooked nose. Anne found her in the corridor:
“Good morning Mrs. Murphy!”
“Good morning Miss Thompson. May I help you with something?”
“Yes sure, Frederick told me a lot of sweet things about his mom and I wanted to know how she was. Therefore, do you know where I can find a portrait of her?”
“Sadly, Miss, I can’t help you. The only portraits which were in this house disappeared after the terrible accident. I think it’s because General Hamilton wasn’t strong enough to see the face of his wife.”
“I totally understand, I’m sure he loved her very much!”
“To be honest they didn’t spend much time together, the General preferred to stay in his office.”
“Mrs. Murphy, we need your help in the kitchen, Catherine burnt herself!” told a masculine voice.
“Oh! Mr. Swan, remember me to fire her before Christmas!”
“Of course, Mrs. Murphy!”
After this exchange, Margaret Murphy walked quickly down the stairs to go to the kitchen, but Mr. Swan stayed with Anne.
“My goodness! It’s impossible now to have good employees!”, he sighed, exasperated, “However, I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation with Mrs. Murphy. I’m Matthew Swan, the butler of this house. Can I do something for you?”
Anne was thinking about what Mrs. Murphy had told her before. Apparently the General was selfish and not very open. Anne thought that it was really strange that the General who was supposed to love his wife spent his time in his office or didn’t want to give details about their relationship to his own daughter.
“Oh yes actually I was looking for a portrait or a drawing of Mrs. Hamilton. Charlotte told me a lot of sweet memories of her mom.”
“Fortunately for us there is not portrait of this woman in the Abbey.” said the butler abruptly.
“Really? But she seemed to be very close to her children.”
“She spent too much time with them. When the General invited some friends she preferred to stay with her children. Do you know how precious General Hamilton is? He tried pretty much everything to keep her attention on him but she was blind. He was too patient with her. She also didn’t worry enough about the etiquette!” said he irritated.
Anne thought: “It’s strange that he’s so aggressive when he speaks about his Mistress. Butlers never ever speak ill of their employers. Moreover, she died twelve years ago and he still has so much anger towards her! Such an angry man may very well have killed the person he hates!” The butler could have pushed her down the stairs. And he just had to say that it accidently happened. She thanked Mr. Swan and went down the stairs. She just had to know if he was here the night Mrs. Hamilton died. And Anne knew perfectly where to go to have her answer.
She rushed to the kitchen where Mrs. Murphy was healing Catherine and asked her if the butler was in the Abbey during the terrible night. Unfortunately for Anne, Margaret Murphy told her that he wasn’t there. Mr. Swan was going back in his family when it happened. Too bad, Anne really believed her theory was true!
During the rest of the week, Anne did lots of nightmare about that. She imagined different scenarii about the death of Frederick’s mother. Because the butler wasn’t there, it must be someone else. But who did it? She wasn’t much ready to imagine the General pushing his wife in the stairs. The General couldn’t do that! She was his wife! They were married! How could he decide to kill her? After a few days of thought, she continued to investigate what she was calling in her head “The inquiry of Reading Abbey”. Anne needed to find someone who knew Mrs. Hamilton well. Someone who had been the witness of something. In general, people didn’t pay attention to the servants. They usually saw or heard things! She looked at the window and saw the garden. She immediately thought: “The flowers! Mrs. Hamilton must love flowers! And Mr. Swan told me that she usually spent lots of time with her children. Children love to play outside!” She went in the garden and across a path, she met the gardener who was a kind person. He was pretty tall and had thin hands. She couldn’t resist asking him some questions about the Abbey. He didn’t tell her as many clues as she was expecting but she discovered that Mrs. Hamilton loved yellow roses and that it was forbidden to plant these because General Hamilton couldn’t stand it. But he also told her, that he caught Frederick’s mom with some yellow roses a few times.
Anne immediately thought that somebody obviously offered roses to the mother. But who could it be? She thought that it may be a lover or something like that!
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