Psychic Detective Chapter 11

The Inspector and I were working on a new case, an actress had been murdered. I had ‘seen’ her fighting with a man, but his back was to me and all I could see was his ring. A very ornate piece. He had hit her and she had fallen to the ground. that was all I ‘saw’.
When she was found a few days later, I recognized her as the girl I had seen.
My cleaning lady, who did for me. her words, not mine had told me in one of her gossipy moments that Colonel Fredricks butler had said that the Colonel had known her. My ears had pricked at this snippet and I was determined to see the Colonel and find out if this was true.

The next morning was fine, the storm of the day before having blown itself out in the night.
I was up early and did my routine chores, feeding Walter and myself, watering the house plants, washing up from the night before and ll the other niggerty little jobs women who live on their own do first thing, before seeing to themselves.
I had already decided to go and see the Colonel, what excuse I would make, I hadn’t decided on yet, I felt sure i would be inspired when the time came.
It was eleven o’clock by the time I set off and the sun was out, a beautiful warm autumn day; it felt good to be alive I thought as I walked along the village green to the other end of the village.
I passed many of the houses belonging to my neighbours, some were in their gardens and shouted a friendly greeting to me as I strolled past,. It was just a normal day, but inside me, I felt anything but normal. My heart was beating rather faster than I would have liked and my feet as I approached the Manor House became more and more like lead weights.
I remonstrated with myself, not to be so silly. What on earth could happen to me? The very worst thing would be for him to order me off his property. I didn’t even want to think about that, I could just imagine the talk in the village, the scandal.
Village life has a lot going for it, but it does have its drawbacks, one of them being everyone knew everyone else’s business, and any sort of rumour spread like wildfire, and not always correctly.
I remembered Mrs D coming one day and telling me Mr. Atkinson on the farm on the other side of the river had died. I didn’t know Mr Atkinson very well, but I felt so very sorry for his wife and children. Later that day I heard that Mr. Atkinson had been rushed to the hospital with a mild heart attack, but he was far from dead. I was only pleased I hadn’t known the family well enough to go rushing round there offering condolensces. I couldn’t begin to imagine what kind of furore that would have presented.
As I neared the Manor House, I thought again what a magnificent property it was. A huge building with latticed windows and very tall ornate chimneys. I understood it was Elizabethan. It was covered in Virginia creeper which had now turned the most magnificent red colour.; it was under perfect control as it fitted its way around the windows.
At the side of the house was a tremendously large Wisteria, its trunk as thick as a tree, it had spread its way almost to the roof. It only had leaves at the moment, but in the Spring it was covered with wonderful Lilac coloured blooms which hung like bunches of grapes from its branches.
I loved this house. I had admired it many times when I walked past, but I had never been inside it, until now, and even that wasn’t a certainty.
I walked up the short drive to the house, lawns at either side trimmed to perfection.
There was an old fashioned bell pull made of metal at the side of the door, which I dutifully pulled.
I heard a muffled ring inside the house and the door was opened almost immediately by the Colonel himself.
‘Hello m’dear. Was just in the hall taking off my boots, been riding you know’ he stated.
That explained why he had opened the door so suddenly, but I was quite unprepared and had actually jumped when it opened.
‘Hello Colonel Fredricks, I hope you don’t mind me calling, but I was talking to Mr.Watkins last night and he told me you were in India together., and I thought I might write a book about it, but really I do not know sufficient about the customs and culture and I did wonder if you would be kind enough to give me some details’ I rattled this off without pausing for breath, and then breathed deeply when I had finished.
‘Of course, m’dear, be a pleasure. I would love to help a fellow connoisseur, so to speak. Come on in and I’ll rustle Bates up to make us some refreshments. B,a,t,e,s’ he boomed into the house as he stepped aside for me to enter.

Bates, the butler came at a trot, he wasn’t an old man but he wasn’t young either. He listened to what the Colonel was requesting and then nodded at me in recognition, even though I had never seen him before in my life.
I knew the Colonel had staff because Mrs. D had spoken of them, but I hadn’t seen any of them except Mr.Watkins, until today.
Bates looked a kindly man, he had a pleasant face and really nice eyes. I always looked at peoples eyes, the Buddhists held that the eyes were ‘the mirror of the soul’; and I was inclined to agree.

The Colone; gestured me into the the Drawing Room while Bates went off to procure refreshments, whatever they were going to be.
‘This is a very beautiful house Colonel, if you don’t mind me commenting ’ I said looking around the great room with its wonderful draped windows and ornate carved furniture.
‘Thank you m’dear, and I don’t mind you commenting at all. Do sit down and make yourself comfortable. I had Bates arrange for a fire to be lit in here today, it was so cold yesterday, what with the storm, and this house quickly cools down, ‘cos its so big I expect.’ he said.
I sat in one of the high backed chairs either side of the enormous fireplace, and looked at the raging fire there, it was so cozy, I thought, I would never have believed a house this size could ever be cozy, but it was.

As we were seating ourselves, Bates arrived with a tray ‘Coffee or Tea, miss’ he asked
‘Tea please, that would be lovely’ I smiled at Bates as I said this and he smiled back.
Any butler I had met in the past, which weren’t many true, but I had met a few, had always been straight faced nose up in the air men, but Bates wasn’t a bit like that. I like him immediately.
‘Do you take Milk and Sugar miss?’ asked Bates offering me the tea with one hand whilst holding a tiny sugar basin and milk jug on a tray in the other.
‘Just milk, thank you’ I replied helping myself.
Bates took the Colonel his coffee and then left the room.
‘Fine man, Bates, he was with me in India as well you know. He was my sergeant, when we got back to civvy street he came to see me and asked if he could work for me as my butler. I jumped at the chance, I can tell you. Good man Bates.’ he offered by way of an explanation.
I know understood why Bates was so unlike any other Butler, he had been a soldier like the Colonel and Mr.Watkins, and they were all nice men. I was beginning to feel at ease, sitting there beside the fire, in the most comfortable chair I had ever sat in.
The Colonel was chatting to me about India, how he had been Colonel in charge of a battalion, first at Jodhpur and then later at Rawalpindi when fighting had broken out
at Islamabad at the foot of the Himalayas. This had been, of course, he told me, before India had been hacked up into bits and separated into India and Pakistan, and then later still into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
I was listening, spellbound. Many of the places I knew of by name and others I knew more intimately.
As he told me about the great Indian desert which Jodhpur joined, and the hunting and riding he had done there. He told me about this vast desert bordering what is now Pakistan; ninety six thousand five hundred and four square miles in area.
In this place Jainism was taught, the religion of Jina, a religious system with two million followers; started in the sixth century BC to protest against the ritualism of Hinduism and the authority of Veda. It had been established by a succession of twenty four Saints; who went under the name of Vardhama or Jiva and preached ascetism and concern for all life, which would release man from the cycle of rebirth
and Karma, thus achieving Nirvana. This religion spread and even converted the Emperor Chandraglipta and other rulers.The doctrine was that the Universe containing heaven and hells revolved eternally in ascending and descending cycles, seen in the mechanistic interaction of six principles, Souls, Space, time, Matter, Right and Wrong.

Jodpur , the Colonel told me was in Rajastan in North West India and the fort had played a big part in the war between the Moguls and the Rajput pinces. The Maharaja of Jodpur had made a treaty with the British in 1817 and he and his successors had continued to rule their princely state until after India’s Independence.
He went on to tell me about Jaipur the Capital of Rajastan, where he had been stationed. The interest and beauty of the hilltop fort and the Palace of Amber. Jaipur itself had been founded by the Maharaja of Jai Singh, and the princely city was largely built of Rose-red stone. The Maharaja had ruled this principality with the aid of the British Raj in general and Colonel Fredericks in particular.

As the Colonel held me enthralled with his knowledge of India, I felt myself slipping away to the very edge of dreams..

Psychic Detective Chapter 11

hilarydougill

Co Durham, United Kingdom

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