Pale Hunt (Editing)

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Chapter 8

Taking a sip of her tea, Briar flipped to the next page. Name after name was listed, behind each one a the cabin number and an address. Briar paused when she saw her own name on the list, right underneath Jane’s. They shared the same cabin number: three-zero-five. The one she was murdered in.

Briar gathered that questioning the passengers that had a cabin number past three-one-five and below three-zero-zero would be a waste of time. Starting with the passengers that were closest to their cabin was their best shot, and it shortened the list quite a bit. If they did not find the witness within these numbers than they could always expand their search.

“Do you think it was a good idea to tell the Detective of the potential witness?” Rena asked, breaking the silence. She stared at her cup of tea, swirling the content around.

Briar leaned back in her chair. “Perhaps, but he would have figured it out even if I did not tell him. He’s quite good.”

“As he did with your father’s coat?” Rena took a sip.

Briar nodded. “This isn’t too big of a discovery. If I am truthful now he won’t question when we have a serious lead and lie about it later.”

“Fair point.”

As the silence settled back in, Briar continued to scribble down the names and addresses. The quiet crackling of the fire kept them company, offering its warmth. When Briar finished writing the last name, she let out a long breath while raising her arms to stretch her aching shoulders. She turned in her seat, meeting Rena’s gaze.

“Ready to return to the cold London streets?”

Rena groaned in a very unladylike manner. “Can’t we start tomorrow? My toes are still stinging from our previous walk.”

“There is a killer on the loose and you’re complaining about cold feet?” Briar teased, laughing when Rena stuck her tongue out to her. “Fine, we’ll wait till the ink is dry, then we’ll go.”

“I’ll consider it.”

“Who is our first victim?” Rena asked, glancing over Briar’s shoulder at the list.

“Victim?” Briar raised her brow at her friend.

“Considering most of the passengers are male I thought it suitable.” Rena gave her an innocent smile. “At least one of these men you have been ogling on the train if not all.”

Briar could not argue with that. “Still, they are potential witnesses, not victims.”

“Potential witness is such a mouth full.”

Ignoring Rena, Briar stopped in front of the first house on her list. Mrs. Annabeth Evans, cabin number three-zero-six. Briar hoped their search to either end here or at the next house. The passengers beside cabin three-zero-five were the most likely to have heard a struggle and came looking, catching the killer in the act and alerting the others. Seeing as only one body was found, the witness got away unharmed. Though, fear is a powerful thing, which might explain why they hadn’t spoken up yet.

“This is our first house,” Briar said, pushing open the iron gate. It creaked loudly, but the noise was drowned out by the clicking of passing by horse’s hooves. “Try to be polite and let me do the talking.”

Rena huffed but agreed nonetheless. Walking up the few steps, Briar rang the doorbell. After a moment of silence, she rang again, but they were met by the same silence.

“They must be out,” Rena offered, already turning to leave. “We’ll try again later.”

Briar furrowed her brow. “The entire household?”

Rena waved her hand dismissively. “It’s not that odd, stop worrying.”

Biting her lip, Briar waited a few seconds longer before leaving as well. It wasn’t as if they had the time to wait around each house. Rena was right, they could always return later. Passing through the gate, she pulled the list back up. The next house happened to be close by to her relief. Not too much time was wasted in coming here.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Thompson,” Briar said with a nod, passing through the doorway with Rena close behind her. “Our apologies once again for bothering you and your family once again with the horrid occurrence.”

Mr. Thompson stepped outside as well, leaving his front door slightly ajar. “It’s quite alright. The only thing that bothers me is why the police are looking for a witness. Wasn’t it quite clear Dante killed the poor Miss Morris? My wife saw him herself.”

Briar smiled politely. “We are only confirming what we know. As you know, my father prefers to be thorough when it comes to cases like these.”

“Of course, of course.” Crossing his arms, Mr. Thompson shook his head. “That old man should know better than to set his daughter on such a task, however. A young lady your age has enough to worry about, murder cases should not be meddling in the matter.”

“Miss Morris was a close friend of ours,” Rena said, stepping forward before Briar could stop her. “What kind of woman would we be if we were not involved in bringing our best friend’s killer to justice? Would that truly appeal more to potential suitors?”

“I am unaware of what the younger generation prefers, but if it resembles anything close to when I was a young lad than I’d say they do.” Mr. Thompson stroked his beard. “If my wife had been involving herself in such cases I would have not even bothered. You two should think about it at the very least. Both of your names already got quite the reputation attached to it, if you want a suitable man it might be best to let this case be your last.”

“We’ll take it into consideration,” Briar said before Rena could say anything more. “Have a nice evening, Mr. Thompson.”

“Take care, Miss Blakewell, Miss Prescott.”

Stepping into the carriage, Rena sat down with a huff, crossing her arms. Briar sat across from her, pulling out the list once again. It was starting to get late so Mr. and Mrs. Thompson had been the last visit of the day. All of the passengers’ stories were the same. They saw the commotion outside of the cabin, got closer to satisfy their curiosity, and found Dante next to Jane’s body.

“—I’m so sick of it.” Briar looked up from her list, not having been listening to Rena’s rant. “Aren’t you?”

Folding the paper, she put it back into her coat pocket. “I’m used to it.”

“Does it still not bother you at least a little bit?”

Briar sighed, leaning her head against the side of the carriage. “It does, but there is no point in getting worked up about it.”

“Maybe you’re right, but still.”

As Rena continued to complain, Briar stared out of the carriage window. The sky started to grey slowly, fading into black. She wondered when it would start to snow again. Jane used to love the snow. When the streets were covered by it she was the first one out, playing in it like a child before it got ruined by the busy everyday life. Briar remembered being dragged out of bed more than once whenever she stayed over.

Moving away from the window, Briar made a silent prayer that it would snow tomorrow. If Jane was unable to have a white wedding, at least grant her a white funeral.

Drowsiness started to settle in with each sway of the carriage. Rubbing her eyes, Briar forced them open. She turned to Rena, hoping her rambling could keep her awake. Though, her eyes fell instead on the house of Mrs. Evans. If she had any more energy left she might have told the coachman to stop, but instead, she left it as a task for another day.

Even in her tired state, Briar furrowed her brow as she noticed the iron fence. She clearly remembered closing it when they had left. Sitting back, she shook her head. Anyone from the household could have left it open by accident when they returned.

Fiddling with her skirt, Briar took a deep breath. Not all was suspicious, not all was a bad omen. And she was in dire need of something to eat and sleep.

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