“Egads, I’ve done it.” He smirked, teething the unlit pipe, and eyed the seated guests. The dining table illuminated by flittering candlelight from gleaming silver candelabras. Distorted light filtered through glistening crystal glasses. Scented roses and delicate lush port aromas lingered. Deformed shadows cowered in corners away from dull glowing gas lanterns. As rain battered windows from the howling wind of the squally night.

“But,” stammered one of the five seated witnesses.

“Enough of the garrulous natter.” Resting his elbow on the mantel piece that showcased the crackling fire. “With utmost vigilant deductions, by Jove, the truth will be told.”

“Humph.”

“Who?”

“Pshaw.”

“How?”

“Please, ladies and gentlemen,” his palm raised to silence his audience. “After a fashion, my superb genius has analysed the clues within this scandalous illusion.” He shook his fist as his voice ascended. “I now publish the author of this crime.” He inhaled. Paused. Titled his head. Eyebrow raised.

“Get on with it, man.”

“It was the vagabonding bohemian with his squalid labyrinth of a madman‘s mind belonging to…” and pointed to the other end of the room, “the butler.”

All heads swivelled to the empty doorway.

“There’s no butler ya bloody fool.” The matriarch rose from her seat.

“Humbug.” Lifting his chin, he waved his unlit pipe. “Then the maid-”

“I aint puttin’ up with this codswallopin’ pony-posin’ any longer. I did it. Me.” And cuffed the young man around the ear. “Get back in ya seat.”

With glinted grey eyes the matriarch glared at her seated onlookers. “Shame on you lot not solvin’ it without none of your CSI’n Googlin’ doodaddin’. So, let’s do somethin’ simpler. Who’s up for a game of Yahtzee or Monopoly until the electricity comes back on? Then you’ll be free to return to your Netflix’n and smartsy-phones.”

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