On Monday, the week after Alice’s death, Rick and Louie took advantage of their access to the suspects. Louie told Rick, “We’ll start with interviewing possible suspects. Watch for their tells and record the interviews on this slate.” And so the first chapter of their investigation began. Their first interview was with Nora and Alan Barlow, who were both still so upset that it was hard to procure any information from them whatsoever. However, their sadness did seem genuine. The second interview took place on Tuesday evening, when Louie came to the Renold’s house for tea.
The young detectives’ plan was to interrogate Edith and Mabel over their meal of some kind of stew, whilst the Renold boys were out. Louie started the conversation, “So, how was it that you came across the body?” The question was directed to Edith, and she answered, “I left my cleaning supplies in there and when I came downstairs she was on the floor.” Louie nodded. “What were you doing up to that point?” The answers poured in and Rick jotted them down on his slate. They gathered that from having lunch at 12.30pm in the cellar Edith and Mabel had carried out their usual duties. Mabel dusted the balcony, whilst Edith tidied the study. They finished these jobs at 2.00pm; Edith discovered the body fifteen minutes later and telephoned Sir Thomas. Mabel had arrived at the crime scene just before he and Louie did. Edith also added that she had come across Alice in the cellar looking at an old beachball, but had thought nothing of it at the time. “Thank you for this information and the meal,” Louie said before leaving. Edith and Mabel just glared at her and Rick, their expressions equally sour.
The next day Rick and Louie deduced the facts so far in the Barlow park. They had interviewed Sir Thomas that morning; he had provided a sturdy alibi of being in his residence nearby until Edith telephoned him. “So,” Louie began, “Alan and Nora seem innocent, they are too upset to have anything to do with Alice’s death. Sir Thomas had an alibi, and unless he was working alongside Edith in some sort of plan, he too is innocent. What motive is there to murder his mother when he already owns the estate?” Rick nodded fiercely, before recounting his notes from Edith and Mabel’s interview. Louie looked suspicious. “They saw Alice in the cellar, which means they could have talked to her. Mabel was on the balcony she fell off and Edith was in the study with… Sir Thomas’s gun! But the time frames don’t fit and they have no motive. If one of them was responsible for her death, why would Edith telephone Sir Thomas instead of hiding the body? It can’t have been Mabel, she’s only eleven and is an evacuee like you. Arrived two years ago.” Rick looked surprised before saying, “Remember how Edith said she went to get cleaning stuff from that room?” Louie lifted a brow. “There weren’t any cleaning things in there when we arrived,” he finished.
The one suspect they had not interviewed was the tall man in the dark suit who had been in the room when Sir Thomas examined Alice’s body. Thomas had stated when they interrogated him that the man was a friend of his from when he went to work in London before the war. Louie and Rick could not seem to find the man, even after asking around the entire village. With no luck, they retreated to a walk back in the Barlow park. They sat on Alice’s bench. Louie looked frustrated. “Where is he? He can’t have just disappeared…” Rick sifted through his memories as she talked to herself, coming out with, “Didn’t Sir Thomas say something about the man living near a school?” Louie nodded miserably before saying, “Yes, but we’ve asked near there.” Rick continued, an idea brewing in his mind, “Isn’t there another school? In the hills?” Louie leapt onto her feet. “Yes! He must have meant Crowthorn School!” Soon they had laid plans for a trip up there the next day.
A cloud of sadness hung over the village after Alice Barlow’s abrupt death. People whispered that it was Patrick’s fault, as he bore the name of her dead grandson. With a picnic on their backs, Louie and Rick set off towards Crowthorn school. On the way, they dreamt up more mad murder theories, each more unlikely than the next. After about an hour, they arrived at the large stone building that was Crowthorn Special Needs Residential School. Louie said that a lot of children had been sent there during the last war, and the older children helped to farm the land. Some of them were even seen in the village sometimes. In one of the upstairs windows a dark shape flickered. The man they had been looking for! He was coming downstairs, but Rick spotted him leaving through the back entrance. Signalling for Louie to follow him, they tiptoed after the man through the uphill farmland. He clearly didn’t want anyone to see him, and the following game continued for a while before they reached the peak of the hill. The man walked towards a quarry stone deposit, and into a cave with a hidden entrance. Rick and Louie went in after him. The cave-tunnel came out into a carved-out space beneath the hill. The man was talking to someone in uniform. Rick peered into the space and spotted pieces of military equipment. That’s when he realised. Those were German uniforms. The same uniforms of the pilots that had bombed his city. The man was a Nazi. What was this cave and the Germans doing here? Louie dragged him back out through the tunnel.
That Sunday, at Church, Rick prayed for God’s guidance through the dangers ahead, and for his benevolent love to protect him always.
To be continued…
Author: Freya (age 12)