Troubles in the Brasses

Free Troubles in the Brasses by Charlotte MacLeod

Book: Troubles in the Brasses by Charlotte MacLeod Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charlotte MacLeod
wouldn’t know. My tone-deafness is a greater affliction to my parents than it is to me, so perhaps you’d be kind enough for their sakes not to spread the word around. Anyway, my mother’s given me orders to find out who attacked Lucy Shadd and make him stop trying to kill people, so would you mind telling me whether you’ve been aware of any homicidal maniacs strolling around the hallway during the past half hour or so?”
    “Not offhand, no,” said Helene. “But then we haven’t been watching. What do they look like?”
    “Well, you see, that’s the problem. One can’t always tell. Quite seriously, ladies, have you heard any stealthy footsteps, anything of that sort?”
    “Lord, yes, stealthy footsteps by the bucketful. People have been stealthing all over the place,” Corliss replied. “Mostly in Delicia Fawn’s direction, as usual.”
    “Which is where?”
    “Madoc, don’t try to tell us you haven’t dropped in on her yourself?”
    “My mother wouldn’t let me. Come on, Corliss, left or right?”
    “Right, then. You’re actually serious, aren’t you?”
    “That’s the impression I’ve been endeavoring to convey.”
    “You’re really and truly a policeman?”
    Madoc fished in his pocket and found one of his cards for her.
    “Detective Inspector, RCMP? My gosh, what are you here for?”
    “To spend a little time with my parents; at least that was the idea when I came. I had to be in Wagstaffe on business, you see, and they thought it might be fun for me to join the company and snatch a free ride out to the festival. Now that we’ve run into a spot of trouble, my mother’s decided I may as well make myself useful. So I’ll welcome any cooperation you’re willing to give me.”
    “You honestly believe somebody tried to murder Lucy Shadd just now?”
    “There’s a nasty red mark around her throat that adds a certain credibility to the assumption. I shouldn’t advise your going to look at it just now, though. My mother’s given her something to quiet her down. Frieda Loye has also expressed hope of getting a little sleep, though I don’t know how well she’s going to succeed. She seems a nervy sort of lady.”
    “I’d be pretty darned nervy trying to sleep in a room where my bunkie’s just missed being strangled,” said Helene. “For Pete’s sake, Madoc, couldn’t you have found someplace else to put them?”
    “That aspect of the matter didn’t seem to bother them much,” Madoc replied. “And frankly, in a ramshackle old place like this, I don’t see that changing rooms would make much difference. I have a feeling Lucy was determined to tough it out and Frieda was reluctant to put anyone to the bother of switching. I understand she’s already caused some of you to miss a bit of sleep on your previous stops.”
    “I’ll say she has,” said Corliss. “She’s been hooting off like a calliope about every third night lately. I don’t know why, she never did before.”
    “You’ve worked with her for some time, then?”
    “Oh yes, we principals are all old hands with the Wagstaffe. It’s one of Canada’s finest orchestras, as your parents must have told you, so once they hire us, we’re happy to stay on. You know, I suppose that Lucy used to be principal horn player? She bucked for Wilhelm to take her place when she had to retire.”
    Madoc gave the cellist one of his gentle smiles. “Retire sounds like an odd word for someone who works as hard as Lucy Shadd does.”
    Helene shrugged. Her nightgown was short-sleeved, and Madoc could see how muscular her arms were. “I know, but being on the staff isn’t like being a member of the orchestra. I’d hate getting shoved off the stage, myself.”
    “You’re safe enough, Helene,” said Corliss Blair. “We winds blow ourselves out sooner or later, but the strings go on forever. Look at Pablo Casals.”
    “Yes,” said Madoc, “why don’t you? By the way, Helene, I was wondering how you happened to be on the plane

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