Some Live, Some Die

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The First Party: Murder

“Oh my!” taunted Lady Townsend, “Miss Leslie, you should watch your step. Did you forget the social graces I’ve taught you?”

Leslie cringed when she saw some of the guests turning to look in their direction. Lady Townsend is just trying to provoke me. She thought to herself. But what she did was something that a ten-year-old could do.

“Excuse me!” came an unfamiliar male voice.

Leslie looked up when she saw a young man rush up to her. He had short dark brunette hair that was combed back, and hazel eyes that looked as though they were blazing. The man stepped into the lake, not caring about his Oxford shoes and the end of his trousers getting wet.

“Sir!” exclaimed Leslie who was slightly embarrassed, “You don’t have to come into the wa-”

Before she could even finish what she was about to say, the man suddenly reached down and lifted her out of the lake, carrying her like a princess. Leslie flushed with embarrassment. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Lady Townsend seething in anger and stunned to see this outcome.

Leslie was not entirely wet. Only the lower half of her dress and hands had been soaked. This is so embarrassing! She thought to herself. Some of the guests were staring at them. Her thoughts were interrupted when Harriet and Mr. Beckford came rushing up to her.

“Leslie!” exclaimed Mr. Beckford, “Are you alright?!”

“Your daughter is fine sir,” said the young man. “Some uppity woman of social standing pushed her into the lake,” he explained as he narrowed his eyes at Lady Townsend.

“As much as I never wanted to see her again, I guess I have no choice but to have a word with her…” muttered Mr. Beckford. “Thank you for helping my daughter, I will express my gratitude later after I have a word with that woman.”

Mr. Beckford then brushed past them and hurried towards the direction of Lady Townsend.

“Sir, please let me down,” said Leslie shyly. “I can walk by myself.”

“No,” replied the young man instantly. “It is unwise to move when your body temperature has dropped and when your clothes are wet.”

He then glanced at Harriet. “Are you this young lady’s personal attendant?” he asked.

Harriet nodded her head.

“I’m going to bring her to the powder room,” he told her. “In the meantime, please fetch one of the picnic blankets so we can use it as a towel to dry her off. And if possible, get her a change of clothes.”

“Right away sir!” said Harriet. “We’re currently staying at the Grand Brighton Hotel. It’s a ten minute walk from the Royal Pavilion, so it might take some time.”

The young man brought Leslie into the powder room, which was a makeshift marquee. Luckily the room was unoccupied. This was most likely because everyone was preparing to watch the orchestra very soon. Leslie was finally placed down and guided to sit in one of the chairs.

Harriet returned with a picnic blanket which the young man used to wrap around Leslie who was now shivering slightly from the coolness of the lake’s water. She then departed again to return to the hotel to fetch Leslie a change of clothes.

“Thank you for helping me,” said Leslie. “Mr.-”

“Powell,” replied the young man. “Adrian Powell, Miss Leslie Beckford.”

“You already knew my name?” exclaimed Leslie.

“Well, upper society is a small world,” said Adrian as he shrugged his shoulders. “It is not unusual for rumours and gossips to spread like wildfire. You have been a topic for quite some time already, Miss Beckford.”

“What do you think of me?” she asked quietly.

“With regards to the rumours circulating around you, it is not uncommon for people to take the side of the instigator,” said Adrian. “However, I am not the type of person who judges people based on rumours and idle gossip. Rather, I find it more intriguing to build up profiles based off on appearance and personality. Just like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.”

It was not long until Harriet returned with a change of clothes for Leslie. Now knowing that she was in good hands, Adrian turned to leave.

“Mr. Powell!” Leslie called out to him.

Adrian stopped in his tracks when he heard his name. “What is it?” he asked bluntly.

“Thank you for helping me,” she said. “I won’t forget your kindness.”

“I’m flattered you think of me that way,” said Adrian as he breathed a deep sigh. “But I am not as kind as I have presented myself to be.”

He then left the marquee.

Leslie managed to change out of her wet clothes on time just as she heard the orchestra tuning their instruments. She hurriedly took her seat next to Mr. Beckford in the audience.

“Who was the gentleman who helped you?” her father whispered into her ear, “I would like to offer him my sincere gratitude for helping you.”

“Mr. Adrian Powell,” replied Leslie as she flushed slightly. “I’ll try and point him out to you during the intermission.”

It was not long until the conductor appeared on the makeshift stage. The audience greeted him in a thunderous applause. Glancing at the program on her lap, the London Symphony Orchestra was going to perform Vivaldi’s infamous Four Seasons to celebrate the summer festivities. The party would end with the orchestra performing Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.

Not too long into the performance, Mr. Beckford excused himself to fetch a drink. Even though Leslie had changed into a new set of clothes, she was beginning to feel slightly hot being stationed in one spot. I’m tempted to get a drink, but I don’t want to miss any part of the performance. She thought to herself. Just as the third movement of Summer came to an end, there was a cry of exclamation near the front row. Leslie stood up from her seat as she peered over the heads of the other guests.

“Good Lord!” exclaimed a male guest, “Lady Irving just fainted! Call for a doctor, unless there is anyone among us who is one.”

Another male guest joined him, identifying himself as a doctor. Leslie watched as they escorted Lady Irving away from the audience. At that moment, Mr. Beckford returned with two drinks.

“Good grief,” he sighed. “Many things could happen at gatherings such as this! I heard that Lady Irving just fainted after the third movement of Summer ended. It must be because of the heat from the sun that caused her to pass out.”

He then handed Leslie the second glass in his hands.

“I thought you might be feeling hot and thirsty when I was at the drinks table,” he told her. “After I heard that Lady Irving had fainted, I immediately rushed back to the buffet tent to fetch you a drink as well.”

“Thank you father,” said Leslie as she sipped the cool drink in her hand.

“Funny thing though,” he added. “I ran into Miss Townsend’s lady companion, Gertrude Cowell. While I was getting your drink, I saw her bump into a waiter carrying an ice bucket. He accidentally spilled the entire contents onto her. Strangely enough, Miss Townsend was not in her company since both women are always seen together in public.”

The orchestra started again, concluding the performance with the Autumn and Winter movements. It was finally time for intermission, and most of the guests stood up to walk around to stretch their legs. Some headed to the buffet tent to have some refreshments.

Taking her father’s arm, Leslie desperately searched for Adrian Powell. She finally spotted him reluctantly listening in on a conversation with a group of men in the buffet tent. Just as she was about to hurry over, she heard a scream from one of the female guests by the lake.

Leslie saw Adrian immediately slam his whisky glass on a passing waiter’s tray as he dashed over to the source. Judging by his reaction, she could assume that he had been in this situation before. Also curious about the commotion, Leslie and Mr. Beckford hurried over to the lake.

Adrian was already there, staring at the lake grimly. Peering just over the edge, Leslie froze in shock. Floating in the lake, was the body of Lady Salome Townsend. Leslie watched as Adrian stepped into the lake once again. Kneeling down, he used two fingers to check for a pulse. After a while, he stood up shaking his head.

“Call the police!” he ordered as he stepped out of the lake, “This is murder! Make sure that no one leaves the premises!”

“And who gives you the right to give us such order?” asked a female guest whose personality seemingly echoed the late Lady Townsend.

Adrian reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a badge which everyone recognised as Scotland Yard’s. He showed it to the female guest.

“I am Detective Adrian Powell,” he told her. “Now go and call the police while I secure the crime scene.”

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