Chapter 14.

The murder of Madame Belle.

 

 

She was found on the floor of her small office face down and clutching her cane in her left hand. A small bruise was visible on her face where she had been struck.
Nothing else seemed to be missing. The neighbors had heard some ruckus and had called the police. That was all that was known of the murder. Detective Strong was
immediately on the case, curious to know if anyone had seen the black smoke escape from her office but it seemed that this time nothing had been seen.

“Fisher, ask the neighbors if they saw or if they heard anything suspicious, anything at all.”

“Right on it.” said Detective Fisher. Strong was walking around the office looking for clues. But as he walked around the small office nothing seemed out of the
ordinary. Money was found on her, about 100 dollars, so the motive for killing her could not be robbery. And at her venerable age, no sane man would be interested in
her sexually. That left Strong in a conundrum; why kill an old woman? At the same time he heard a knock at the door. He opened it and saw a small woman of about 65
years old holding a cat in her arms.

“This is a crime scene, please stay out.” said Detective Strong.

“But I only wanted to return her cat.” cried out the woman as she petted the feline.

“Tell me, Mrs..?”

“Mrs. Muir. I live upstairs. I was the one who called the police.”

“Very well, Mrs. Muir. Do you know if Madame Belle had visitors last evening?”

“Well, she always has visitors. She read the future in tea leaves and had talks with the spirits.” Strong tried hard not to smile.

“And do you know if anyone came last evening?” The woman put her hand to her mouth, leaving the cat on the floor.

“Yes, yes she did. I am sure of this because I heard a male voice. And that was different.”

“How so?” asked Strong.

“Well usually it was women who came to consult her, rarely men. I think in all the years that I had known her perhaps two or three men came in her office to consult
her. But last evening I heard a male voice. You know the walls here are very thin and everyone can hear everything if someone speaks in a loud voice.” she said.

“And what did you hear Mrs. Muir.” Strong was coaxing her to tell all despite the fact that he could see how uncomfortable she was.

“The man was talking about his shadow, and how it separated from him. He also said it was pursuing him. I had to fight hard not to laugh.” said Mrs. Muir, smiling. But
Strong was not smiling when he heard that.

“Go on, please. Did you hear his name by any chance?” Strong was very interested now.

“Yes in fact, she said his name several times.”

“Was it perchance Horn?” asked tentatively the Detective.

“Yes, yes it was. How did you know?” asked Mrs. Muir, looking at the Detective in a quizzical way.

“He is an old friend of mine.” replied Strong. “Now tell me, did Mr. Horn leave the premises peacefully, with Madame Belle still alive?”

“Oh yes. He did leave, but not before complaining about something or other. I heard Madame Belle asking him to leave and he did just that. Its only much later in the
evening that I heard noises and things falling that I called the police.”

Detective Strong was stymied. If Horn had left the premises with the old woman alive then that would work in his favor. But he could have returned in the evening to
finish the job. “And tell me, later on, did you hear any voices during the murder. Did Madame Belle shout any names?”

“No, not at all. She kept saying “get away from me” over and over again. I heard something striking the table and I think it was probably her cane. And then I heard
something fall to the floor and nothing more, no more noises.”

“Well I thank-you very much Mrs. Muir. Maybe you should keep the cat for now.”

“Well yes, I will. Do you think that that Horn guy did it? Did he kill her?” she asked.

“I don’t know Mrs. Muir. Probably not directly. But he has some explanations to give.” said Strong. With that he closed the door and returned to inspect the office.

He could imagine the scene now. Someone or something had returned in the evening to visit Madame Belle. She defended herself valiantly with her cane, striking the
table several times, until she fell to the floor. That would explain all the noises heard by Mrs. Muir. But then, what about Horn, what role did he play in all this?
This time he would have to come down to the station to explain himself. Horn was now connected to three murders and that was too much of a coincidence. He had to be
related in some way to them. If he didn’t kill these people directly he must be involved indirectly. Yes, he did have to answer some pointed questions and he was very
much suspect number one in this investigation.

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