The Mysterious Masquerade Murders by Julia B.

December 7th, 1894                                          

 

Dearest Diary,

Who knew that winter could be so beautiful. Well, if you include Ruth staring out the window over snowy Liverpool, sipping her chai tea pleasantly. Oops, did I write that? Well, I can’t erase ink, so I must be careful that Ruth doesn’t see this…

While Ruth was happily reading a good book by the warm fire, I stood and smoked my pipe silently. However, the silence was soon interrupted by a loud knock on the door. A proper lady walked into our office and strolled towards Ruth. Her knock was quite firm, despite her soft appearance. “Oh, Sherlock, Ruth! You won’t believe what happened! Oh, the agony! The pain! The fe-. At that moment Ruth stood up. Oh, did I mention how amazing Ruth is with figuring people out? It’s actually quite scary sometimes. She analyzed and stared at her from the second she set foot into the office.

“Freeze, don’t move.” Ruth said sharply. The lady stood still in her tracks, confused. Ruth stared right at her for an awkward 10 seconds. With a nod, Ruth motioned for her to sit down. The lady took out her handkerchief and wiped away her “tears”, even though they were obviously fake (It doesn’t take a detective to figure that one out!). She was a fine lady named Martha Fox. Before she started, Ruth interrupted her. “Before you start Mrs. Fox, I must say, you have quite a fancy wedding ring. You’re married yes?”, Ruth asked. Martha nodded.

“That is true.”, she said. “Judging by your scar on your left arm, I can tell that the wound hadn’t been attended to very well. Jumping to conclusions, I can tell that your husband was a doctor, and not a very efficient one mind you. Also, your handbag contains some precious silks that can only come from India. You’ve been to India, haven’t you?”, Ruth said staring right at her. Martha sat in shock. She was speechless.

“Y-yes, th-that’s correct”, Martha said stuttering.

“That’s what I thought. Oh and we mustn’t forget your ’24 karat golden ring’ that is actually made out of fool’s gold. That’s a shame. Any who, Continue!”, Ruth said in a sweet tone.

Mrs Fox sat in shock for a good 5 seconds before she finally moved onto her case with a very worried look on her face. Apparently, while she and her husband William Fox attended a masquerade ball, William mysteriously disappeared and was later declared dead. However, they never found the body, but they did find mysterious blood stains around the mansion where the ball had been held. According to Ruth, it sounded like a murder took place. The whole story sounded very suspicious and we both listened intently.

“It happened that night, October 6th this year. William and I were dressed in our finest clothing. Oh how I loved that gown that I wore.” She stared off into space.

I cleared my throat.“ Ahem, can you move along with your story Mrs. Fox?” My annoyance was slowly building.

“Oh, pardon me. I’m quite sorry. Now, where was I? Ah yes. It was a ball put on by Duke Henry and Duchess Ida Cornwell. They often host masquerade balls throughout the year mainly here in Liverpool and invite Nobles from all over England. That particular night, William and I attended as per usual. We were always invited to the finest balls,” she said with a smirk. I rolled my eyes. “When we arrived, we did our usual routine. We spoke with the other Nobles, ate a lovely feast and listened to the musicians. As the night went on, less and less people remained at the ball.” At this point I could tell she was showing off.

“Where were you exactly before William disappeared”, Ruth asked.

“I was off talking with some of my friends for around 30 minutes before going to use the restroom. When I came back, everyone was in a huge commotion. I asked my friend Agatha Hartley what was going on, she told me that someone had found two people dead. Mr. Chester Green, a colleague of my husband and my dear husband William Fox. Only Mr. Green’s body was discovered, leading many people to believe that the killer didn’t have time to hide Mr. Green’s body before someone found out what had happened. I swear, I couldn’t contain myself”, she said while starting to tear up. Ruth passed her the handkerchief she had on the table with a straight face.

“So let me ask you something. Where exactly was Mr. Green’s body found?”, Ruth asked while holding her notepad.

“He was found right under one of the balconies. Lying dead on the ground with blood everywhere.” Martha began to tear up. I cringed when the image popped into my head.

“And where exactly was this ball, Mrs. Fox”, Ruth questioned while her face was in her notepad and her pencil was writing like crazy.

“It was at the same place each time. The Cornwell manor, about 23 minutes away from here by carriage”, Martha said.

“That’s a pretty precise number of minutes…how would she know that?”, I thought.

“Alright, thank you. That’s all I need to know. Actually, I have one more question. Will there be another ball hosted by the Cornwells again soon?”, Ruth asked.

“Why yes, there is one happening in a few days. That’s why I came here, to ask you to come to the ball and watch for any suspicious behavior. Of course, you and your partner Thomas here could be disguised as an invited couple going to the ball ”, Martha said with a smile. As soon as Martha said the word “couple”, my eyes widened and I could barely contain my excitement.

“Wow, just me and Ruth. Dancing at a fancy ball together. I’d be in a fine tuxedo and she’d look stunning in her dress-Wait! Thomas! Contain yourself! This is for the mystery, not for fun.” I thought.

“I do admit, that sounds like a good idea. However, I’m afraid neither of us has the fine clothing to dress in for the occasion”, Ruth said with a frown.

“Oh yes…I forgot about that part….”, I thought with disappointment.

“No need! I am more than happy to lend you a dress of my own and an old tuxedo of William’s”, Martha said with a smile.

“Phew! This plan still may work out!”, I thought with a big smile.

“I assume you have accepted my case, have you?”, Martha asked.

Ruth nodded and said, “You can leave my retainer fee on my desk.”

“Very well, I will see you in a few days”, Martha said while standing up and grabbing her parasol and handbag from India. She dropped 25 pounds on Ruth’s desk, turned on her heel and left.

“What did you think of her? A bit suspicious, don’t you think?” , I asked

“In a way, Thomas. However, I’m not going to jump to conclusions until I have found my evidence,” Ruth said while sipping her tea.

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December 11th, 1894

To my Diary,

Today was the day in which Ruth and I attended one of Duke Henry and Duchess Ida Cornwell’s masquerade balls. At 5:00 pm, Ruth, Martha and I rode in a comfortable carriage to the Cornwall estate. We tried on the formal clothing the previous day and made sure everything fit. I didn’t get the chance to see Ruth’s dress, however, I’m assuming that it will look beautiful on her, regardless of what type of dress it is. Her short, light brown hair will go quite well with any colour of dress that she wears.

Once we arrived at the Estate, we found empty dressing rooms and changed into our fancy attire . I had a white button-up shirt, black bowtie, dark gray dress pants and a matching jacket. Not to mention the fine ivory cane and pocket watch to complete the look. I slicked my dark brown hair back and put on my black mask. I soon stepped outside of the washroom, looking for Ruth and Martha. Then, I saw her.

She looked like an angel straight out of heaven. Her short brown hair was curled and she had a lovely hair piece intertwined into her hair. Ruth was wearing an emerald green dress that matched her eyes. It fell down to her feet and had long flowing sleeves. Her mask was silver with a tint of green. While she held her fancy fan, she looked over and saw me. Martha followed her in a burgundy dress and a fancy hat. “My, you look very fine, Thomas.” she said with a smile.

“Thank you, my lady, you too look just fine.” I said with a stutter. Martha walked away to talk with some of her friends.

“Really? ‘My lady’?”, Ruth said.

“Look, we are playing the part of a couple. We need to act and be the part”, I explained. We first headed towards the buffet and eyed the various dishes. Ruth took every appetizer there was and added it to her plate. “Someone’s hungry”, I said with a laugh. While I walked around, I noticed Ruth sitting down a table, cutting the food and eating it very slowly. It was quite strange.

As the night progressed further, many people began to dance. Quicky, I looked at Ruth and looked at the dance floor. I assume that she took the cue and stood up. She walked over to me and grabbed my hands. I felt my heart beating faster. “So, do you know how to dance?” she asked.

“Well, yes I do. My mother taught me.” We began to move back and forth to the music. While I was teaching her how to dance, I saw a man standing alone with a white, pointy mask and top hat. He was staring at a man standing on the balcony. Ruth saw it as well.

Just as the music was ending, we heard a blood curdling scream. A woman was out on the balcony. We ran to see what the commotion was about and saw another man below, dead on the ground with piles of dirt all around him. A commotion was born in that moment. According to Martha, the man who was killed was Charles Howshall. He worked with Martha’s husband and was married to her beautiful and tall friend, Daisy Howshall. William had known both Charles and Daisy all his life, since he attended school with both of them.

Just then, Ruth grabbed my arm and ran. We headed into the kitchen. There was no one there since the chef went out to see what was going on. All of a sudden, I saw a knife that looked out of place. Ruth picked it up and saw that it was dripping with blood. We exchanged looks. Ruth took note of the bloody knife in her notebook.

Next, we checked the closet, where there was nothing but a top hat. Ruth looked inside of the top hat and took notes.

Finally, we decided to check outside, where the culprit was killed. Near the crime scene, there was a gardener, clipping the hedges in the courtyard. It seemed pretty strange that he was wasn’t freaking out after a dead body was discovered. In the middle of the courtyard, there was a very old fountain. We walked over and sat upon its rim. “Have you gotten anywhere, Ruth?” I asked. Ruth smiled.

“I sure have. I think I’ve figured out this mystery, Thomas, ”she said. Just then, the sun started to set.

“This is my chance!” I thought. While looking at her, I fiddled with my hands. I closed my eyes and leaned in towards her.

“We don’t have a lot of time, Thomas! We need to catch the crook,” she said without even seeing my cue. She got up and ran towards the manor. I sat at the fountain, speechless. Slowly, I got up and ran after her with a worried frown on my face.

She unlocked the door to the basement with a skeleton key and rushed down the spiraling staircase into what looked like a dungeon that was dimly lit. Ruth went down the old, wet and musty hallway with a torch quietly, until she turned the corner and saw a tunnel that was in the progress of being dug out. “Thomas, put out your torch,” she said. Not willing to ask questions, I did as I was told and put out my torch. She did the same. We waited in the darkness for a few minutes, until we heard footsteps coming towards us. I took out my pistol and held it in my hands, just in case. When the person turned the corner Ruth yelled: “Freeze!”. She lit her torch and saw a man with red hair, green eyes wearing a tacky, blue suit.

“I’ve got you now, Mr. Fox!”, she shouted. I gasped. He looked at her and started to laugh.

“Did I hear that right…Mr. Fox? As in Martha Fox’s husband? I thought he was…dead!”, I thought.

“You know, I’m very impressed that you figured this out, Miss Peaks.” Mr. Fox said.

“The same to you sir. I’m amazed at the planning that you put into these crimes”, Ruth said with a smirk.

“I’m afraid I can’t let myself get turned into the police though,” he said while pulling out his pistol. He fired, but Ruth moved out of the way in time.

“Now, Thomas!”, she shouted. I took out my pistol and shot him in the foot. He yelled in pain while Ruth put handcuffs around his wrists.

Fifteen minutes later, the police came and took Mr. Fox away. Martha Fox was in shock and in tears.

“I don’t know how you did it, Miss Peaks. We’ve been trying to solve this case for months now!” the police chief said to Ruth.

“I’m just doing my job, sir.” Ruth said with a smile.

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December 12th, 1894

Dear diary,

I never know how Ruth does it. Every case that she takes on, she solves with ease. I never know how she unravels these mysteries, so I decided to ask her.

While we sat by the fire, Ruth stood up and began explaining how she figured everything out. “Well, it was quite simple actually, Thomas. Let’s go over the clues, shall we?”, she said. I nodded.

“Well, first there was the food I had. I cut open every single piece of food to make sure that nothing had any poison in it. If the food was poisoned, it would have been obvious that the killer was trying to kill someone with poison. However, there wasn’t a drop of poison in the food. Next, the man with the top hat. He looked suspicious, but I could tell he had nothing to do with the case. He was just looking over at Duke Henry since he wanted to talk with him next. Also, there was the gardener out back. Before we arrived, I saw no sign of the gardener. He must have shown up after the body was taken away. Oh yes, the bloody knife in the kitchen. There were no stab marks on the body, so there was no way that Mr. Fox could have stabbed the man to death. The reason it was bloody, was because of the meat juice from the pig roast we had for dinner.  Next, there was the hat in the closet. When I looked inside of the hat, I saw the initials W J F engraved in it. It obviously stood for William. J. Fox. Also, there were the dirt piles around the corpse. The reasoning for this was because of the tunnel that we saw in the basement. It was a quick way to escape after he killed his victim. Finally, there was the fountain. I noticed the fingerprints Mr. Howshall left on the edge of the fountain and various cracks. I believe that Mr. Fox slammed Mr. Howshall’s head onto the fountain edge many times, which left cracks and then drowned him in the fountain. He left the body on the ground and put fake blood everywhere, making it look like he had fallen off of the rooftop garden.” I stood in shock.

“It wasn’t too hard to figure out”, she added with a shrug.

“Well, why did he do it then?” I tilted my head to the left.

“Well, inside of his coat pocket was a love letter. While you shot him in the foot, I removed it from his pocket.”, Ruth said. She held up the letter, already opened. “This love letter was written by William when he was a child. It was to Daisy Marchfelder, which was Daisy Howshall’s maiden name back before she married Charles. Martha told us that William, Daisy and Charles all went to school together. William must have fallen in love with Daisy, but must have been forced to watch his one true love be stolen by the man who bullied him at school, Charles. William wanted revenge on Charles for stealing his loved one and bullying him physically every day.” Ruth’s face was turning purple, since she kept her breaths minimal during her explanation.

“What about the other murders?”, I asked.

“Those were all friends of Charles, who also helped bully and beat up William.”, Ruth added while sitting down.

“I don’t know how you do it, Ruth!”, I said with a smile.

“Me neither!”, Ruth said while laughing. “But the real question is, was William’s wife, Martha, involved in this too…?”

My eyes widened and I fell back in my chair with exhaustion.

This detective lady is crazy, but I’m in love.