Some Live, Some Die

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The Fourth Party: Harassment

In his room at the Metropole Hotel, Adrian hurriedly skimmed through the files containing information about Mr. Hange Hurston’s previous parties this year.

“Miss Doncaster’s name was marked with the reversed Strength,” he quietly muttered. “Maurice Higham’s had the reversed Temperance. The suspects and the killers were marked with the reversed Chariot. And Miss Leslie’s name had the upright Fool.”

Picking up a book about tarot cards he had purchased at a bookshop in Blackpool city, he flipped through the pages and marked the ones that explained the meanings of the symbols.

“The reversed upright cards are the positive representation of the card’s meaning,” Adrian read aloud. “Though when placed upside down, the meaning becomes negative.”

Adrian skimmed to the page that explained the interpretation of the Strength card. When upright, the card represented courage, confidence and compassion. When reversed, it was self-doubt and cowardice.

“If I recall, Lady Doncaster mentioned that her late niece had a reputation of gallivanting around,” said Adrian. “And how she had quite an attention-seeking behaviour. Though how does the reversed Strength represent Miss Doncaster?”

He then flipped to the page that explained the representation of the Temperance card. The positive interpretation of that card was balance, peace and tranquillity. The opposite when reversed was imbalance, discord and recklessness.

“This card straightforwardly represents Mr. Maurice Higham,” said Adrian. “His self-indulgence of his family’s wealth caused him to become reckless.”

Adrian then focused on the reversed Chariot that Mr. Hurston had used to mark the suspects and the killers from the previous parties. The killers had no control of their aggression towards the victims. Thought the detective. Though why did Mr. Hurston mark all the suspects and killers with the exact same symbol?

What puzzled him the most was Leslie. Why did Mr. Hurston mark her as The Fool? According to the book about tarot cards, The Fool when positioned upright represented innocence. Before he could think any further, Adrian suddenly noticed the time and realised that he was going to be late.

“I guess work will have to come later,” he said as he hurriedly gathered up his paperwork.

Just as he was about to put everything away, a piece of paper fluttered out of the pile. Bending down to pick it up, Adrian noticed that the piece of paper was not part of the party plans from any of the first three parties. Judging by the writing, the written contents seemed very personal:

Divided society is a cruel world. Why must we be judged for any kind of upbringing? It is not the blood that defines a household or a generation, but the physical bond to anyone. I will protest against this societal prejudice by making an example of those people who have wronged-

That was all that was written on that piece of paper. Adrian assumed that Mr. Hurston did not complete his writing, perhaps having realised that he had written in the wrong area. Though, the closing words raised his suspicions.

Making an example of those people who have wronged who?” he quietly wondered to himself. “If only he had completed that very sentence, then I would have known who those people Mr. Hurston is referring to.”

There was no time to mull over this development as Adrian hurried to retrieve his evening suite from his closet.

Meanwhile, Leslie arrived outside Blackpool Tower. Guests had started arriving and they showed their tickets to the hosts and the hostesses to gain entry into the building. Leslie stood on the side, waiting for Adrian. She knew that he would not be permitted entry into Blackpool Tower without her.

“Miss Leslie Beckford,” exclaimed a familiar voice to Leslie.

Leslie spun around to find herself face-to-face with Countess Ethel Crawley. That woman was an old friend of her late aunt, Lady Salome Townsend. She was one of the most influential aristocrats of the upper crust of society, and also had a reputation of disapproving the modern development of the country.

“Countess Ethel Crawley,” said Leslie coolly. “It has been a while.”

“Do not address me so familiarly like that!” she abruptly snapped, “Who would have thought that Mr. Hange Hurston would extend his invitation to a low-life such as yourself.”

She hasn’t changed since the last time I saw her. Thought Leslie to herself. The last time she encountered Countess Crawley was at the woman’s book club where she had previously been a member of. Leslie knew the countess through her late aunt. She remembered how the countess would deliberately isolate her during the group discussions and outings. No one dared to stand up for her, in order to protect their reputations. Even the former president of the book club was unable to stop this harassment. Eventually, the previous president retired. The countess succeeded her and used her authority to expel Leslie from the book club.

“I see that you are without a companion this evening,” said Countess Crawley as she interrupted Leslie’s train of thought. “It seems that poor Sally had wasted all her efforts on a low-life. A young lady attending a party by herself is unseemly! I will not stop you if you dare set foot in this place right now, if you want to be ridiculed by everyone that is.”

Leslie bit her lip when she heard this.

“I am afraid that you are mistaken Countess,” she replied as she feigned politeness. “I do in fact have a companion. I was just waiting for him for he cannot attend tonight’s event unless he is with someone who has a ticket.”

“That is preposterous!” exclaimed the countess in denial, “Whoever this man is, he must be crazy! To think he would associate himself with the likes of you, an outsider-”

“If you think that, then you are right. I am crazy,” came a familiar to voice to Leslie.

Leslie looked up in surprise when Adrian seemingly appeared out of nowhere and stood next to her in front of Countess Crawley. His presence further made her even more infuriated.

“I must thank you for keeping my lady companion entertained during my absence,” he told the countess sarcastically. “And it is unjustly for a gentleman as myself to keep a young lady waiting.”

He then turned to Leslie and extended his elbow, offering to escort her inside. Despite her initial hesitance, Leslie took Adrian’s offered arm while partially avoiding Countess Crawley’s disapproving gaze.

“Pay her no mind,” he told Leslie. “Women like Countess Crawley tend to stir up trouble either because they are simply bored with their lavish lifestyles, or to gain attention.”

Leslie quietly nodded her head as she allowed Adrian to escort her into Blackpool Tower. They paused to read the itinerary; the evening would begin with a circus performance in the Tower’s circus ring, followed by ballroom dancing in the infamous Tower Ballroom.

“I really hope nothing bad will happen this evening,” Leslie quietly whispered to herself.

“I would rather you not jinx it Leslie,” replied Adrian. “You are making me wonder if it is merely a coincidence that you happen to be there at Mr. Hurston’s parties when a murder occurs.”

Hearing this, Leslie slightly stiffened. Now that the detective mentioned this, it did not seem like a coincidence that three people had died at Mr. Hange Hurston’s first three parties. All in which she had attended. What could possibly happen tonight?

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