Monday, November 06, 2006

The Secret Order of Doom: Part Three

The interior of Litcham Church smelt slightly of damp, and Ms. Madison's heels rang on the bricks of the floor. The Churchwas tradionally furnished with box pews and a gallery at the West tower. The air of the building brought to mind another world, the light gently sloping down on the font in front of the blonde secretary.
"And you must be Ms. Madison!" the voice caused Ms. Madison to start. It was earnest, perhaps a little reedy with age.

The speaker was an Anglican clergyman, with dog collar and black shirt, a tweed jacket with leather elbow-patches worn over it. He had white hair and looked rather worried. Ms. Madison was just glad to see he wasn't supposed to be the corpse she found in the church. She hated finding corpses.

"Of course," the secretary turned to face the enthusiastic cleric. "And you are?"

"The Reverend Hubert Samuelson (retired)," he replied. "I live in a cottage outside the village and Roger - the curator chap - was working with me on research into the religious history of this part of Norfolk. I was supposed to meet him on the day of the murder, but by the time I arrived at his house he'd already been murdered."

"And what did the police say?" Ms. Madison raised one elegant eyebrow, more because it looked good than for any other reason.

"The investigating officer, Inspector Bullock tried to make out it was suicide," the cleric remarked.

"But you don't believe that, I take it?" Ms. Madison pressed the issue further.

"My dear child," the retired vicar sighed deeply, "men do not commit suicide by cutting themsleves into seven equal parts and impaling their heads on the bannisters. For one thing, it's impossible."

"No," Ms. Madison agreed. Despite the gravity of the matter, she could not help smiling. "What do you think happened?"

"Oh, that's easy," Samuelson declared. "Someone cut him into seven equal pieces and impaled his head on the bannisters. But that inspector even suggested that might have been done after he killed himself - which I find most unlikely."

"Inspector to get a visit from the Green Man..." Ms. Madison noted in her diary. "But what I meant was, who do you think killed him, and why?"

"That much at least is easy," Samuelson nodded. "That morning poor Roger called to say he'd found evidence that the Order of Cain had not only possessed a secret priory in Norfolk, but that he believed it was still in operation!"

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