I had been aware of Margery’s affair for some time, even if only subconsciously. A man of patience, that’s how I like to think of myself. I merely looked the other way at her subtle tells; the nights when she’d return from whist long after I’d left the club, her furtive glances when the post came, the letters fleetingly buried under a stack of correspondence as I entered a room, the awkward blushes in public around a certain mustachioed gentleman. Then one day the behavior stopped, and we went on with our lives as if nothing had transpired.
Though it had been many years since the indiscretion, I never forgot.
While we were eating breakfast, the letter was delivered. A deathbed confession from the man with the mustache himself; I had been half expecting it since I’d heard of his illness. When Benson handed me the letter, Margery looked up from her runny eggs with mild curiosity, then resumed eating when I said nothing.
After reading it twice more, I folded up the letter and set my napkin down. “Margery, darling, would you mind following me? I have something I want you to have a look at.”
She looked up again with those doe eyes of hers, a deep brown I’d once gotten lost in, now papered with fine lines around the edges. “But Robert, can’t it wait until after breakfast?”
“No, dear, I’m afraid it can’t. I’m terribly sorry, but it will only take a moment,” I said, standing and pushing in my chair.
“What is it? Is something the matter?”
“It’s just something I have to show you,” I reiterated.
She followed me placidly up the three flights of stairs, then as we continued upward to the disused fourth floor, she spoke. “Really, Robert, what’s going on? Is it rodents? You could have just told me. This is most unusual.”
“It’s just round here,” I replied as we wound through the hall to the room I had prepared, the one at the end of the hall.
As I opened the door and ushered her inside the empty room, she remarked, “My heavens, I haven’t been up here in years, I can’t even recall…”
In the midst of her sentence, I swiftly exited and shut the door behind me, locking it with the padlock I’d been carrying every morning since I’d hatched the idea. I had fitted the iron clasp to the front of this door myself many years ago. It would hold.
I stood there a moment, listening to her questions, her pleas, her banging on the door, her screams.
The screams continued all the way down the hall, but faded as I descended the second flight of stairs.
As I reentered the dining room and encountered Benson directing the footmen in clearing the table of our half-eaten toast and congealing eggs, I announced “Lady Margery will not be returning. It’s a personal matter, and there are to be no questions.”
Benson replied, “Very well, Milord.”
Joining the Speakeasy #104 this week! Hop on by to vote for your favorite three stories on Thursday.