Still Life

By Terrance Edwards

The Reverend Jonathan Green sat at the kitchen table in Arlington Grange perusing the local paper. Mrs Blanche White was busying herself with washing the breakfast dishes. Her mind pleasantly wandered to the eveningís reception. Sheíd need to get some of the village girls in to help. Such an important day...
Mrs White was disturbed by Reverend Green slamming the paper down onto the table with such force that his glass of water rattled. Something must have upset him, she thought, heís usually such a placid man.
"I cannot believe she is allowing that man here! Itís an affront, thatís what it is, an affront!"
"Calm down, Reverend. Heís only here one night."
"Mrs Peacock cannot have sanctioned this. Miss Scarlett must have influenced her."
"She did. Mr Goldís an old friend of Miss Vivienneís apparently."
A shudder of distaste went through Reverend Greenís voice. "That man cannot be allowed to be here. I must see Mrs Peacock immediately. Where is she, Mrs White?"
"Sheís in the lounge, Reverend. Is everything all right?"
"What?... yes, yes Mrs White. Fine. Thank you."
With that, Reverend Green left, clearly in some agitation.

The Reverendís protests were to no avail. Sebastian Gold was already at the Grange, casually rearranging the library to use it as a make-shift studio. He had a few paintings to finish before the exhibition that evening. Vivienne Scarlett watched him from the door, smiling. So gorgeous... He always had been. And an artist! Bohemian, exciting, something to lighten the drudge of the house. Sebastian turned to her and smiled.
"Thank you, Viv."
"What for?"
"For convincing that old battleaxe to let me use the house."
He walked over to her, pulled her close and kissed her passionately. Oh yes, she thought, things are definitely looking better. Sebastian broke the kiss but kept her close and said "Youíre so beautiful, Viv. Will you model for me?"
She pulled away, shocked. "What?"
"Iím doing a new study called Dangerous Women. Photographs. Youíve got that blend of sweetness and danger thatís so appealing. Come on, Viv... youíd look fantastic."
After a few seconds hesitation, Miss Scarlett sighed "Oh, alright..."
"Brilliant," Sebastian smiled. "Iíll just get my camera."

The problem of Sebastianís attendance was also being debated by Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard over a quick game of billiards.
"Iím not happy about this, Mike, not happy at all."
"Calm down, Plum."
"I canít. Surely you canít be happy about this either."
"Hmmm... I will admit Goldís presence has set Vivienneís eyes roaming. Sheís always been like that though, had an eye for the gentlemen."
"Thatís true. Mrs Peacock seems rather taken too"
"Yes," Colonel Mustard said shortly as he took his shot. "Anyway, Peter, why are you so worried?"
"Beg your pardon?"
"About Gold. Whatís got you so het up?"
"Oh, heís just... well... itís of no importance..."
But the force of the Professorís shot betrayed him.

The lounge was a scene of total chaos. Most of the heavy antique furniture had been moved aside and several easels had been put up in readiness for Goldís canvasses. Reverend Green gasped. "What a mess!"
"Isnít it just? Good morning, Reverend."
He turned around to see Elizabeth Peacock standing in the lounge door, carrying a cup and saucer. She walked past him, sat demurely on the sofa and took a sip of her tea.
"Good morning, Mrs Peacock. May I ask what is going on?"
"One of Vivienneís artist friends is using the house as an exhibition hall tonight."
"That is what I mean. How could you allow it?"
"Oh, Vivienne can be very persuasive on occasions, Reverend. Better that than she spends the rest of the month moaning at me."
Reverend Green sat down next to her. "But... Sebastian Gold. Please! Heís a notorious trouble-maker. And you canít call those daubings art, for heavenís sake!"
"His photographic work is very good."
"Mrs Peacock, I cannot believe you are championing this."
"As a mark of his gratitude, Gold has taken some photos of me which heís turning into a painting to be unveiled tonight."
Reverend Greenís voice became low and earnest. He took Mrs Peacockís hand. "Elizabeth, weíve been friends for such a long time. I implore you, do not allow Sebastian Gold to hold his exhibition here. No good will come of it, I assure you."
"Jonathan... I appreciate your concern. But it really isnít necessary, everything will be fine. Come along this evening and see for yourself."
"I intend to. But mark my words, Mrs Peacock. Nothing good will come of this."

Miss Scarlett stood seductively by the library windows wielding the gleaming dagger that usually lay on the table. Sebastian snapped away with his camera.
"Fantastic, Viv. Brilliant. Head back a bit, love."
"Wait a second, Seb. Iíve got an idea. Letís make me a really dangerous lady."
She strode out of the room and went to the study. She unlocked the third drawer of the bureau and took out the small revolver that was in there. It glinted dangerously under the study light. She smiled and walked back into the library. Seb whistled when he saw the revolver.
"Wow... a pretty little piece. Do you know how to use it?"
"Oh, yes."
"Dangerous lady..." Seb smiled.

Mrs Peacock wandered into the ballroom. She stopped dead in her tracks and screamed "What on earth have you done?"
The entire room was packed with easels and frames. The place was a complete mess. Dark scuff marks scarred the floor. Her eyes set to stone and she screamed for Miss Scarlett. Miss Scarlett insolently strolled in from the library with Sebastian in tow.
"Vivienne. What on earth has he done to my room?"
"Calm down, Mother. You allowed him to use the Grange."
"Not to this extent. This is insufferable. I cannot use my library, my lounge and now my ballroom. You will leave immediately, Mr Gold!"
"I wonít, Mrs Peacock. Iím here for the duration."
Mrs Peacock advanced on Sebastian. "How dare you, you cheap little..."
Miss Scarlett adeptly moved in front of her lover. "That is enough, Mother. You agreed for Sebastian to be here. You knew it would cause a little disruption."
"Not this much. You will regret this, Mr Gold. You will regret this!"
With that, Mrs Peacock swept out in a rage.
Miss Scarlett hugged Sebastian. "If that got her riled, imagine what sheíll do when she sees the painting..."
Sebastian silenced her with a kiss. "Never mind that, Viv. Iím going to have a look around this mausoleum. See if you can rustle up something to drink and some props for my montage."
Miss Scarlett smiled and headed off to the kitchen.

Professor Plum was still taking pot-shots in the billiard room when Sebastian wandered past. He stuck his head through the door and smiled wolfishly.
"Well, hello, Professor."
"Oh, itís you" said the Professor disinterestedly.
"Is that any way to greet an old friend?"
"Friend is hardly the term Iíd use for you, Mr Gold."
Sebastian moved around to the other side of the table. "It had better be the term youíd use, Professor, if you donít want to end up in a lot of trouble."
"Not this nonsense again, Sebastian. Quite frankly, Iím tired of it." Professor Plum took his shot.
"Plagiarism is a very serious accusation."
Professor Plum instantly bridled. "It was never proved."
"Mud sticks, Prof. Your reputation would be dragged right through it. And as they say, thereís no smoke without fire."
Professor Plum slammed his billiard cue down on the table. "What do you want?"
"Money. I need extra financing. Unless you pay, Iíll expose you."
"Youíve had your last penny from me, Gold. Besides, blackmail isnít a nice thing to be accused of."
The two men were at a stand-off. Gold was the first to break. He smiled slyly at the Professor, tuned his back and headed out. "Iíll be speaking to you soon, Peter. Enjoy the rest of your game."
Professor Plum picked up the cue, but his mind was racing. He put the cue back in its holder and hurried out of the room.

Mrs White and Reverend Green were sitting at the kitchen table, preparing vegetables for dinner when Miss Scarlett came in. Mrs White looked up and smiled.
"How are you, Miss Vivienne?"
"Iím very well, Mrs White. Could you do me a favour?"
"Anything, Miss."
"Could you make some tea for myself and Mr Gold. And he needs some plate and such for a montage. One of the candlesticks from the dining room and some silver plate should do nicely."
Reverend Green looked up. "I cannot believe you are involved in this."
"Ah well, Reverend. I donít suppose youíve ever been in love."
The Reverend blenched but said nothing.
"As soon as I finish this, Miss Vivienne, Iíll put the kettle on."
"Youíre an angel, Mrs White" Miss Scarlett said as she left the room.

Twenty minutes later, Mrs White was in the dining room picking up pieces of plate for Sebastian Goldís montage. She had taken one of the candlesticks from the dresser cupboard and was rooting out plates and cups. Theyíd had their tea and were happy for five minutes. Mrs White pulled out a slightly tarnished small gold plate and stared at it. How much would that fetch?
She was distracted by Sebastian Gold standing at the dining room door. "Well, I never," he said. "Faithful retainer caught with her hands in the till. Well, well, well."
"I wasnít thinking of stealing it at all." Mrs White stood up.
"Wouldnít be the first time, though, would it, Mrs White?"
She stopped dead in her tracks, the candlestick in her hand. "How dare you..."
"Cut the nonsense, Mrs White. I know thatís how you got the money to invest in me. Well, I need some more backing, so youíll have to play the little magpie again."
"I canít, Mr Gold. I canít!" Mrs White said, her eyes filled with terror.
"Youíll have to. Or would you like your mistress to know where her little valuables are going?"
"You wouldnít!" Mrs White said, half in shock and half in challenge.
"Try me. Iíll leave it up to you. See you later, Mrs White."
Sebastian sauntered out of the room. Mrs White sat at the dining room table, head in hands. Her heart was racing with fear and anger. There was only one thing to do, she thought as she picked the plates and the candlestick up and hurried out of the room.

After a thorough look around, Mrs White had accumulated one of the dining room candlesticks, two smaller silver plates, a large pewter fruit bowl and some gold and silver trinkets. That would do him for his hoity-toity montage, she thought. Horrible little weasel. Trying to wheedle more money from her? Heíd hang before he got another penny out of her.
She piled the lot together and walked across to the library, precariously balancing them all. She opened the library door and walked in. When she saw what was going on, she dropped the lot. Without apologising or stopping to pick anything up, Mrs White ran to the dining room to have a stiff drink.

Colonel Mustard and Mrs Peacock were sitting in the study. Mrs Peacock looked drawn, and Colonel Mustard was trying to comfort her.
"Elizabeth, please calm down."
"I canít, Mike. That odious little runt. I wish Iíd never agreed to let him in here. Have you seen what heís done to the ballroom? Heís completely wrecked it. And Iím sure heís trying to get money out of Vivienne. He has to be stopped, Mike."
"OK, Elizabeth. Leave it to me. Iíll see what I can do."
They were interrupted by a tap on the door. It was Miss Scarlett.
"I hope Iím not interrupting anything. Itís just... Sebastian is ready to unveil some of his paintings for this evening."
"Weíll come and look at the ones in the lounge firstí Colonel Mustard said.
"Where is my painting, Vivienne?" Mrs Peacock asked.
"In the ballroom. Iím sure youíll enjoy it" Miss Scarlett said and left.
"Shall we?" Colonel Mustard asked.
"Weíd better" Mrs Peacock said shortly and they went to the lounge.

Reverend Green sat at the kitchen table, looking pale. He turned the letter that had been preying on his mind over in his hands. Theyíd be here soon. Then theyíd find out. Oh, dear Lord... He went to the cupboard and pulled out the spanner. One thing to do...
As he turned around, Mrs White rushed in. The shock of seeing the other made them drop what they were carrying. The spanner and several small silver ornaments clattered to the ground. In shock, they both stooped to pick up the offending items.
Reverend Green looked at the ornaments, then to Mrs Whiteís shocked, shamed face. "Oh, Blanche... what have you been doing?"

The paintings in the lounge were not as bad as had been envisaged. They were abstract, almost impressionist but were quite good. Mrs Peacock appraised them with a keen eye, Miss Scarlett looked at them with adoration whilst Colonel Mustard saw them with something bordering on contempt. Sebastian Gold stood proud, observing all.
"Well?" he asked.
"Fantastic" breathed Miss Scarlett.
"Not bad" muttered Colonel Mustard.
"Well... theyíre not quite as bad as I thought. Iím rather impressed" Mrs Peacock grudgingly acknowledged.
"What do you think, Professor?" Miss Scarlett asked.
Professor Plum had been stood in front of a painting for a while, a look of disgust and unmistakable rage on his face.
"That oneís called Purple Deceit, Professor. Do you like it, itís rather fitting, donít you think?" Sebastian said snidely.
Professor Plum wheeled on him and said in a bitter, low voice "It is the worse piece of art Iíve ever seen. I know what youíre up to and it wonít work. Iíll see you get what you deserve for this, Gold, donít you worry!"
Professor Plum stormed out.
"Well, honestly. Some people just canít take a joke," Sebastian said. "Letís go and see the ones in the ballroom..."

Reverend Green stood in the conservatory, twisting a greasy piece of lead piping in his hands. Oh now, things had gone from bad to worse. Poor Mrs White was involved, far too deep. So was he... why couldnít that wretched man just go away? The heavy weight of the lead piping provided a cool, comforting feeling. Yes... why didnít Sebastian Gold just go away...

Sebastian led Colonel Mustard, Mrs Peacock and Miss Scarlett to the ballroom. Most of the paintings were set up, and one had a piece of material thrown over it to obscure it from view. The paintings were mostly in the same vein as the ones in the lounge, but some were more abstract than before, bordering on weird. Mrs Peacock raised an eyebrow at these canvasses but was intrigued by what was beneath the impromptu veil.
Sebastian grinned devilishly. "The piece de resistance is underneath the veil. Come on, Viv, letís leave them to it."
Sebastian and Miss Scarlett left the room. Colonel Mustard sighed and pulled the material off the frame to reveal the painting. Mrs Peacock took a horrified look at it and ran from the room in tears. Colonel Mustard stayed to look at it a little closer. Rage and anger was building inside him.
The painting was grotesque, a huge ocean of blue in the shape of a dragon with a vaguely recognisable face. Colonel Mustard was so angry. After all Elizabethís kindness to the little runt and this was how he repaid her... well, heíd be laughing on the other side of his face when Colonel Mustard had finished with him.
Colonel Mustard took another look at the painting, snatched the length of rope that was tying back one of the curtains and stormed out of the room.

Back in the library, Sebastian and Miss Scarlett were rowing. Despite usually enjoying Mrs. Peacock's discomfort, Vivienne was starting to worry whether Gold had gone too far.
"Why did you have to do that, Seb? The Professor hasnít hurt you, neither has my stepmother!"
"Lighten up, for Godís sake, Viv. Itís just a joke. Thatís all it is!"
"Itís not funny. Youíve upset them both. I wonít be surprised if theyíre both baying for your blood right now. And I donít blame them. Pull that trick on me and Iíll kill you."
"Then kill me. The pictures Iíve taken today are going to be converted into a set of pictures of Ladies Of The Night. I couldnít have picked a better subject than you, Viv, because youíre nothing but a cheap tart!"
Miss Scarlett slapped him across the face and pointed the revolver at him. "Youíll pay for this!"
She stormed out of the room, still carrying the revolver.

Mrs White sat at the kitchen table, looking thoughtful when Professor Plum barged in, looking very angry.
"Iím sorry, Mrs White. I didnít realise there was anyone in here."
"Thatís quite alright, Professor. Are you okay?"
"Not really. Sebastian Gold has made a fool out of me."
"Join the club. Someone ought to teach him a lesson."
"Yes, someone should."
"Excuse me, Professor, Iíve got to go and set the dining room table."
Professor Plum leaned against the worktop where the spanner had been left. Maybe someone should teach Sebastian Gold a lesson... His thoughts were disturbed by three loud shots coming from somewhere inside the house.

Sometime later, Mrs Peacock was sat in her study drinking a glass of brandy with Colonel Mustard. Mrs White came barging in without even knocking.
"Iím sorry for not knocking, Mrs Peacock, but something terrible has happened. Mr Goldís paintings in the lounge... somebodyís destroyed them!"
"What?" Colonel Mustard stood up from where he was sitting on the table.
"Who?" Mrs Peacock asked, concerned.
"I donít know, maíam. I came looking for you to tell you that dinner was ready to be served and I found them."
Miss Scarlett rushed in. "Mother! Somethingís happened. Sebastianís paintings have been ruined. The pictures in the ballroom have been slashed beyond recognition. Who did it?"
"We donít know, Vivienne. Mrs White has just told us that the pictures in the lounge have been destroyed."
Reverend Green appeared at the door, wiping his hands on a handkerchief. "I say, thereís an awful mess in that ballroom. Someoneís had a right go at those canvasses."
Pandemonium ensued as everyone tried to talk over one another. The bedlam was silenced by Professor Plum walking into the room, looking dazed.
"Peter, whatís wrong?" Mrs Peacock asked.
"Call the police. Sebastian Gold... heís dead. Heís been murdered."


Sebastian Gold has been murdered. Professor Plum discovered his body at the bottom of the cellar stairs (marked with an ĎXí on the map).

Inspector Grey has been sent in to discover which of the six guests at the house that night killed him. But he's having problems and needs your help.

By clicking on the suspectsí pictures to the left, you can read their answers to the questions that Inspector Grey has posed them.

Click on the Weapons icon (top left) to see where the possible weapons were discovered and where they are usually kept.

Click on the Map icon (top right) to see the layout of Arlington Grange.
NOTE: This will open as a separate window so that you can refer to it whenever you want.

Click on the "Murder Cards" icon to make a suggestion as to Whodunit, with What and Where. You will then be told how many you guessed correctly. Try and do this as few times as possible.

Click on the Book icon to bring you back to this story.

Click on the central "Cluedo" icon (or on the link below) to take you back to the main page.

Try to solve the mystery by reading as few of the testimonies as you can before you make a suggestion. If you get it wrong, go back to the testimonies and read a little more.

HINT: Cluedo is a game of deduction. Any of the six suspects at the house that night could be the killer. Try to work out who could have possibly done it, what weapons they had access to and where they (and Sebastian Gold) could have gone. All movements should be supported by the story, the testimonies or the items that people picked up during the evening.

Also, the locations of the weapons will help you invaluably. Try to work out how they got to where they ended up.

If you get REALLY stuck, there is a link to the solution through the "Murder Cards" section - but please only use this as a last resort.


© Terrance Edwards, 2003


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