The Reporting Team's Christmas Mystery Play 2003

Volume IX

I was shaving at my window the following morning when I heard the rattle of hoofs and, looking up, saw a dog-cart coming at a gallop down the road. It pulled up at our door and the vicar, Mrs. Trerichards, sprang from it and rushed up our garden path. Our visitor was so excited that she could hardly articulate but at last in gasps and bursts her tragic story came out of her.

"We are devil-ridden, Mr. Holmes! My poor parish is devil-ridden!" she cried. "Satan himself is loose in it! We are given over into his hands!" She danced about in her agitation and finally shot out her terrible news.

"Mr. Mortimer Tregennis died during the night, and with exactly the same symptoms as Mr. Trejelly, Mr. Tremacdonald and Mrs. Trebristol."

Holmes sprang to his feet, all energy in an instant.

"Watson, we will postpone our breakfast. Mrs. Trerichards, we are entirely at your disposal. Hurry - hurry, before things get disarranged."

We arrived before the doctor or the St. Ives police (who still hadn't turned up yet for the first crime), so that everything was undisturbed. The atmosphere of the lodger's room was of a horrible and depressing stuffiness. Fortunately, the servant who had first entered the room had thrown up the window or it would have been even more intolerable.

The dead man sat, leaning back in his chair, his thin beard projecting, his spectacles pushed up on to his forehead, and his lean dark face turned towards the window and twisted into the same distortion of terror which had marked the features of the dead Trejelly. His limbs were convulsed and his fingers contorted as though he had died in a very paroxysm of fear.  The man had died horribly!

He was fully clothed, though there were signs that his dressing had been done in a hurry. We had already learned that his bed had been slept in, and that the tragic end had come to him in the early morning.

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