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  • Sophie Koenig

The Scarlet Hand Part 2

Holmes knocked at the grand door of Bettington Manor the next day. A plump woman in a black maid's dress answered the door. "You wish?”

“We are here to speak to Mr Lainsburg.”

“Ah yes, terribly sorry. He had mentioned you yesterday.”

“Do you work here?” Holmes asked.

“Yes. It is quite an exhausting job to. It’s only me, Mr Howard the cook and my cousin – Mary Smith. We had been told about Anne, as the night when the crime had been committed, we had all been absent. The kind sir had given us the weekend off and we all left town to visit family and friends. Oh, apologies, come in. He is waiting upstairs with Julia and Beth.”

They made their way up, and, as they were told, Mr Lainsburg and his daughters stood, waiting for them.

“Good day Mr Holmes, I hope that you had a pleasant night. Here are my two daughters Julia and Beth. There's also something else I would like you to know. Last night, around 1 o’clock, there was a scream. It sounded like Anne’s.”

“Well, if it really was Anne then she is alive, and still here. Miss Julia, Miss Beth, I would like to ask you what your connections were with Anne. Miss Beth, I would like to question you first, could we go somewhere undisturbed?”

She led him downstairs, into their sitting room, and locked the door behind them. She sat down in a velvet armchair and sighed. “Mr Holmes, my sisters and I, well we just are not that close and never were. The cause to it all was that to my mother, I was her favourite child. She always gave me the royal treatment and not the others. But what truly enraged them that when Mother died in January, due to a disease, her will was made out this way: My father had insisted on not needing any money from her as he already was a happy and rich man, so the will would be only to my sisters and me. But, as I mentioned before, I was mothers' favourite, so I got more. My sisters each got 10 percent on her income and I the rest.’’

Holmes nodded approvingly, “Your father had told me that last night there was a scream which sounded like Anne’s. Did you also happen to hear it?”

“Why yes, I did. You see, our house is quite empty, so the sound echoed around the halls up to my and Julia’s rooms, also to our father’s.’’

“And if Anne would still be here, would there be anywhere she could possibly be hiding?” Holmes asked.

“Well, there is our old wine cellar. It's quite broken down though, as we built a new one and have no use for the old broken-down cellar. But it isn't secret or anything. I mean we all know about it. But none of us never go there”

“Thank you, I would like to speak to Julia now.”

Beth left the room and a few seconds later Julia entered.

“So, Mr Holmes, you would like to know about my connection to Anne. Well, the truth is, her and I were always quite close. It was almost like we were twins and Beth our older sister. I was truly troubled when she was murdered.”

“Your father has told me that there was a scream last night which sounded remarkably like Anne’s.”

“Well, if you ask me, which you quite clearly are doing, he is just an old man. He just hallucinates these things. I didn’t hear anything.”

“And if Anne where to still be alive, would there be somewhere where she would be hiding?” “No there is not. Mr Holmes, there was a blood mark on her pillow. It was the Scarlet Hand.” “As I explained to your father before, the bloody handprint is always placed on the corpse of the victim. And as her corpse was never found, we can surely exclude the Scarlet Hand.” “Well Mr Holmes, the Hand could have made a change in its crimes. So, I can reassure you that is the reason of my sister's death.”

“Thank you very much Miss Julia. I must be getting home now. Mrs Hudson is waiting with a delicious pork stew. Please inform your father about my absence.”

They both left the room. As Holmes was walking towards the front door, he noticed the housewife that he had talked to earlier, scurrying along the hallway.

“Excuse me, Miss! Do you have a second?”, he called out to her.

“Why yes, I do.”

“Could you just please confirm that there is an old wine cellar in this mansion? One, that is no being used anymore.”

“Yes, there is.”

“And last night, did you hear a shriek of a woman?”

“Yes. We all did. Me, Mary and Mr Howard. But why do you need to know-”

He was already gone and hurrying up the stairs. He had found out all that he needed. The detective was not going home after all. In fact, he was staying the night.

He had quickly swapped a few words with Mr Lainsburg, telling him that he had to stay the night to investigate the crime further, but he wanted nobody to know about his presence. Lainsburg had then offered him the guest room, which was located next to the kitchen, and that is where he was now, lying in bed, his eyes wide open. He wanted to sleep, but he could not. He lay there a long time. The clock struck 9...10...11...12 - the lights went off...and finally 1. Just a few minutes after the last chime, something stirred. He heard it well. Two voices. In the kitchen, whispering. Holmes snuck silently out of his room, to the kitchen. The figures didn’t notice him. He stood waiting. Then, with a loud yell, he switched the lights on. The two women stood frozen, illuminated by the bright light. Torn from their sleep by Holmes’ scream, one by one, Mary Smith and her cousin, Mr Howard, Beth and finally Mr Lainsburg came shuffling down to the kitchen. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Raiding the food supplies for something edible, stood Julia and Beth.

It was a month ago, that he had solved the case of Bettington. Julia and Anne had faked the death, for nothing more than the money of Anne‘s life insurance. As the Lainsburg family was of great wealth, Anne was insured with 4000 pounds. So, in the case of her death, that money would have belonged all to Julia, as that was what Anne wanted. The sisters had wanted to start a new life with the insurance money. They would never have to work and would be happy and wealthy woman. The murder would have seemed to be the one of the Scarlet Hand. Beth would have never known the truth about her sisters, they did not tell her as they hated each other, and she would just interfere with their plans. But now, a month later, Holmes was on his way, back to Bettington Manor. Mr Lainsburg wanted to talk to him about what would happen to the sisters now. They were never charged by the police, as they never were involved in the case. When he entered the mansion, he decided to stop by Anne’s room for a quick chat. He knocked at the door. No reply. He knocked again. Still no reply. Holmes opened the door, at first, the room seemed vacant. But then he realised someone was lying on the bed. It was Anne, with a red handprint seared on her lifeless chest.

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