A New Years Mystery

A creepy Stoke Ferry mystery fopr the New Year

It was a very long time ago in the village of Stoke Ferry and all was not well!

The vicar was at the rectory preparing his sermon for the epiphany service. It was beginning to frustrate him. He was desperate to make a good impression as he had embarrassed himself at the recent carol service by mis-announcing every single hymn. His curate had already led a delegation of complaint from choir master regarding other improprieties. Inspiration refused to come and in temper he stabbed his paper knife into the desk top and reached again for the decanter of whisky.

The village squire had just returned to the Manor House from a tiring days hunting with fellow landowners. Everyone had finished with a fine bag apart from himself. Gout and arthritis had bothered him all day and was his excuse for shooting everywhere but straight! He screamed at his manservant for laying out his wrong smoking jacket. He repeatedly waxed his flamboyant moustache and was unusually nervous as he was soon to entertain an attractive widow from the neighbouring village of West Dereham. He knew there were other suitors but the squire was ruthless to an extreme.

The landlord of the Bull public house was seldom sober but normally harmless. However the shooting party had used his saloon bar for their lunch and had enjoyed a dozen or more of his best bottles of brandy. The game pie which was extravagently expensive had been a disaster. Alas they had deliberately short changed him instead of the handsome tip he had expected. He was now even deeper in debt and was crying uncontrollably with his head in his hands.

The village Thespian was also having a torrid day. He had been without work for over a year and had recently but reluctantly accepted a small ‘bit part’. Sadly he was now unable to remember his lines. His credibility within the village was diminishing fast and even his very best friend refused to offer any sympathy. He refilled his hot water bottle and returned to bed in a truly restless state.

The village poacher had been out all night and was still fast asleep. Last week he had badly beaten his feeble wife with the butt of his two-bore. She was still nursing broken ribs and bad bruising so she was unable to carry out her laundry work. She did both washing and ironing for several of the large houses in the area. She had often threatened to leave home and looking for comfort she set off to visit a particularly friendly employer in nearby Boughton.

The village blacksmith was at his wits end after customers had started complaining at his excessive charges and poor workmanship. Since he had transferred his allegiance from the local church to the occult he was left with few friends. His only focus was now a female artist who also attracted suspicion. Rumours suggested that she and her strange friends danced naked and performed magic rituals. He poked his forge endlessly and carried on crafting a four foot long sword.

A while later outside the village hall and with snow falling heavily, there lay a body curled up in a ball. There was a pool of blood around the head and all signs of life had expired. There had been a murder in the sleepy village of Stoke Ferry!

The nearest policeman lived at Wereham and was fast asleep in front of a blazing log fire. There was a loud banging on his front door. Very reluctantly he stirred and answered the summons. In rushed several people all shouting that there had been a terrible tragedy. He gathered up his helmet and whistle and followed them out into a fierce snow storm.

To be continued….

By Cliff Hanger

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