Open On The Kitchen, darkened
Enter from different sides of the stage Julia Trueheart, Miss Mimsy Moppet, and Lady E; there is a certain amount of confusion, and then the light snaps on
Lady E: At ease, ladies! Private Moppet, what have you to report? How went your mission?
Mimsy: It didn’t go, not so’s you’d notice. There weren’t no stray keys.
Lady E: Ah, well. It cannot be helped, I suppose. Captain Julia, what have you to report?
Mimsy: Why the bloody ‘ell does she get to be a bloomin’ captain? Private Moppet is all very well, but I’ll ‘ave you know I were this close to bein’ a Countess.
Julia: Duchess, m’dear, not Countess.
Mimsy: Well, is that better or worse? I mean, I knows as how everyone looks down on Baronets, on account of they are no account,but what about Countesses and Duchesses? Which is better?
Julia: Duchesses are rather grander.
Mimsy: Well, all right, then. (LADY E AND JULIA WAIT) Well? Get on with it.
Lady E (SALUTING): General Julia sir! What have you to report? Did you contact the gatekeeper?
Julia: Well, no. No I didn’t. (SMILES APOLOGETICALLY) The line was dead, you see.
Lady E: Really? How interesting.
Mimsy: Interesting don’t seem to cover it, leastways, not if it’s the murderers as is escaping.
Lady E: Ah-ha! The curious thing about this situation is that it isn’t the murderers who’ve escaped. The couple who have just cut short their stay at Atherton Manor so singularly are Mrs. Hampstead and Mr. Sloop. Now, it isn’t impossible that one of them is the murderer; it is, however, highly unlikely. Unless, of course…
Lady E (coming out of deep thought): Um? Oh, nothing. Nothing!
Julia: Shouldn’t we try to go after them? Or stop them? Or something?
Lady E: My dear girl, how? We have no telephone and no car. They are, by now, past the gates of Atherton Manor, heading for God knows where, and there is damn-all we can do about it. Of course, you could try running after them, but I doubt that even you could catch them now. (TO MIMSY) Julia was always wizard at games when we were at school.
Mimsy (wisely): Ah. She looks the type.
Lady E: She does, doesn’t she?
Lady E: Leggy.
Lady E: Ruddy.
Julia (OUTRAGED): Hey!
(ALL THREE OF THEM GLARE, and then burst out laughing)
Julia: I’m not ruddy ruddy, am I?
Lady E: The glow of health.
Mimsy: The blooming youth.
Lady E: Do you mean, the bloom of youth?
Mimsy: I like mine better, but I suppose you might ‘ave the right of it.
Julia: Well, ladies, if you are quite finished makin’ personal remarks about yours truly, perhaps we could go back upstairs. I suppose we’ll have to notify the police about all of this in the morning?
Lady E: I fear so.
Julia: Ah well. If that means more of Inspector Moribund’s company, I need a good, long, fortifying sleep to prepare myself.
Lady E (Going towards the Door to the Back Stairs): This leads to the Back Stairs, does it not? Let us ascend.
BODY OF NIGEL PENDERS-GHASTLY TUMBLES OUT of staircase; he has been stabbed, and is quite dead.
Mimsy and Julia scream
END OF CHAPTER SEVENTEEN