The Irish Manor House Murder

The Irish Manor House Murder by Dicey Deere

Book: The Irish Manor House Murder by Dicey Deere Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dicey Deere
Tags: detective, Mystery, woman sleuth
was so very little theft in Ballynagh. And almost no crime.

    By eight o’clock the next morning, the morning Torrey later thought of as “the morning of the gypsy,” she had breakfasted and was at her desk, working on the three-language book. The publisher’s contract called for forty-four pages, one third of each page for three-color illustrations.
    At eleven o’clock, she stretched and got up to get a glass of water. At the window above the kitchen sink she disgustedly surveyed the last of the tomatoes on the withered, sticklike stalks. Tomatoes, for God’s sake! Why had she tried to grow tomatoes? She’d planted them way too late, and a frost would come any day now and ruin what was left. She’d planted tomatoes just to show off. As though anyone in Ballynagh would be impressed and think admiringly, “The American woman in the cottage is growing tomatoes.” All summer she could’ve bought better tomatoes in Coyle’s on Butler Street.
    Purple among the tomato vines. Purple? She leaned closer to the window. Purple skirt, ragged-looking tan sweater. A woman leaning down, picking up a tomato from the ground, putting it in her skirt pocket. Fine. Good riddance, Torrey thought.
    But then the woman straightened and pulled a ripe tomato from a vine. Then another. Oh, no, my dear woman, not my last good ones! You go too far.
    Torrey put down her glass of water and went outside to stop the depredation. Depredation, from the Latin: “to plunder.” She loved that word: plunder. So rich, so … velvety soft? The woman was plundering her tomatoes.
    *   *   *
    “There’s plenty more, and it’s still hot.”
    The gypsy nodded. Torrey poured more tea into her cup. They sat at the kitchen table.
    Torrey cut two more slices from the soda bread on the wooden board. She’d baked the bread herself. Jasper wouldn’t eat it, but he’d complimented her on making a good start. She bravely ate it in front of him with lots of butter, saying how good it was. He was in Dunlavin today, having read in the Independent about an estate sale, entire contents of a house. Might even be a windfall of books for him.
    “More bread and butter?”
    The gypsy shook her head. “No, Missus.” She was about forty or so, thin, with a mass of dusty dark hair and gold earrings.
    Torrey, walking toward the woman among the tomato vines, had known at once, at the woman’s “Good day, Missus,” that she was from Romania. She’d likely be one of the Romanian gypsies who’d arrived in Ireland in the last few years, traveling across France, bringing with them their few possessions and their own gypsy language mingled with Romanian.
    Gypsy or not, a Romanian. Aside from her own father, Vlad Tunet, Torrey hadn’t known half a dozen Romanians. So now, four shiny aluminum pots, at two pounds ten pence each, rested on the side table under the window, and the gypsy sat drinking her third cup of tea. Admittedly, not an appealing lady. Something grasping about her, the greedy way her glance slid about the cottage as she commented, “Pretty things.” The copper bowls on the sideboard, the hand-knitted afghan on the back of the rocking chair, the enamel three-legged clock on the mantel. Drying on the wooden clothes rack was Torrey’s nightgown, the white with yellow daisies, her favorite. “In Dublin I’ll get me a pretty nightgown like that, all daisies on it,” staring at the nightgown.
    “Yes, well, I’d better get back to work.” Torrey looked toward her computer on the card table in the corner; the computer screen had gone reproachfully blank.
    In the doorway, as the gypsy left, Torrey said, “Take as many tomatoes as you want. There’s a frost coming, they’ll only get mushy. Come any time.”
    *   *   *
    The gypsy gone, Torrey went slowly to the card table that held her work. If she missed the deadline, she’d have killed the golden goose. She had to stop torturing herself about Rowena being suspected of murdering her

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