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Murder by Any Other Name

By @BrooklynNewsie

Mr. Roger Hampton Receives a Letter

Mr. Roger Hampton’s face was much like the stereotypical English gentleman’s, grave, strong, dignified in composure. At this time, the face was reflective, as he stared deeply into the fire, absentmindedly fingering a small foreign coin in his fingers. The flames flickered randomly, and the light reflected on his eerie gave him a wild appearance, making the look of dignity, composure, and concentration turn into a mirrored image of Mars. The look was only slightly stirred when the door made a slight creak as a woman in a black dress and pumps stepped in.

“Mr. Hampton?”

He stirred slightly. “Ah. Yes. What is it, Patrica?”

“Nothing, sir. Just the mail.”

He waved absentmindedly towards the small coffee table sitting next to the armchair. The maid nodded, more automatically than considerately, as she was not in view of her employer, and placed the tray with the letters down, where it teetered precariously on the edge of the table. Mr. Hampton reached over to the top of the stack and grabbed the creamy envelope on the top. A sharp metal implement was put to the use of tearing open the letter and he had indeed halfway unfolded the letter when he realized that the unfortunate Patricia was still there.

“You may leave.”

The maid dutifully turned around, but even Mr. Roger Hampton, who selectively did not hear things that he didn’t want to hear, caught the irritated huff she gave as she exited the door. Hampton looked around, and then strode over to the door and shut it.

“Damn and blast that woman!” he cursed under his breath, and then a little louder, “Damn and blast all of them, confounded servants! Never know when to stick their heads out of other people’s business.”

Resuming his place in his chair, he finished unfolding the letter. The cool eyes appraised the letter briefly. At one sentence, his eyes stopped. They glanced over a sentence again. Then again.

“Edith!” he called through the closed door, then promptly realized that it would be unlikely that she could hear him through the door and got up to open it. His kneecap gave a painful pop! and he winced. All this getting up and down and up and down again was too much for him. He limped over and placed his hand on the brass knob of the door. Upon swinging it outward upon its hinges, he leaned out the door, and once again called his wife’s name. A second later, Edith Hampton appeared up the stars. He beckoned her into his study with a, “Come in, come in quickly,” and with him holding the door open for her, she disappeared into the depths of the room. Roger Hampton turned his head side to side to check down the hallway for more maids, then promptly followed his wife.

Edith Hampton was standing by the fire, her arms crossed, her face strict. She was a plain woman, with silvery tweed hair dressed in an elegant, fashionable, yet rigid hairstyle, straight back, and a sensible style that suggested a no-nonsense manner. If one was to judge her character by her clothing, one’s outcome would be spectacularly correct. She was indeed a woman of uncommon taste and an aristocratic view on life.

“What’s this all about, Roger?” she asked. Her husband grimly handed over the letter. She took it, her hands shaking slightly, and began folding the paper out, then started reading. Upon reaching the sentence that had stopped her husband in his tracks, she blanched.

“The impertinent thing! All this time, ignoring us, and now she finds it fine to-”

He reached his hand out to touch hers. “I know.”

Her eyes grew wide. “Whatever shall we do?”

“We must cope, Edith,” replied Mr. Roger Hampton, taking the letter back and placing it into the envelope, which before now had been left unopened on the table. “We must accept her. You know we must.”

“I know,” Edith said. “It wouldn’t be proper, not to take her in. But I do wish that we didn’t have to!”

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