The Killing of the Thousand and Second Night (Book Extract)


    Here’s the first chapter of a historical murder mystery I’ve written, not published as yet.

The Killing of the Thousand and Second Night A Harriet Huntley Mystery

Chapter 1

    Harriet hoped that the post would bring the last of the responses to her ball invitations today.  Why on earth, were the same people always tardy with their replies?  How tiresome; she sighed and pushed her breakfast tray to Henry’s side of the bed.  She looked at the empty pillow beside her longingly. Stroking the white cotton pillowcase gently, she smiled.  Her heart felt as though it was going burst, every time she thought of him. Never mind, he would soon be home from London.     
    The thought of his arms entwining her, made her feel…  How did he make her feel when he was with her? When he held her and of course when he made love to her?  Loved, desired and very lucky.  Yes, that’s exactly how she felt, every day, every moment he was with her.
    She sank back into her deep feathery pillows and looked around the master bedroom of her Devonshire Terrace home.  She had chosen the bright wisteria frieze that bordered the white papered walls, the mauve drapes that adorned the high sash windows of the room and the Italian wings of her brass bedstead, to brighten up the dank dismal days, which they experienced so often in Glasgow.
    The weather had been so changeable of late, one day the cobblestones of Great Western Road, the main road that ran parallel to the Terrace, were white with frost, the next; they were awash with heavy rain. Today it must be the latter; she could hear the heavy traffic splash through the puddles. It was going to be a long winter, she sighed again. She must try and shake the melancholy mood she could feel hanging over her.
    Harriet’s mind drifted from the gloomy weather, on hearing the sound of water filling the bath in the adjoining bathroom. She hoped Mary, her lady’s maid, had remembered to add some of the musk oil, she had picked up on her last trip to Paris.  Paris the gaiety of it all, Henry and her had a wonderful ten days. The parties, the balls and the dancing, her feet tingled with the thought of the wonderful dancing.
    But Paris was all but now a dream; a dream that memories were built on. She would have to content herself. Reaching over to her night-stand, she lifted her small leather-bound prayer book and a sheet of folded writing paper which was neatly tucked away behind the last page dropped onto the lilac coloured quilt. She looked towards the bathroom before unfolding the paper and she began to read the beautifully handwritten words;

My dream.
I saw her as an angel fair, with sparkling eyes of blue,
With cheeks like blossomed roses and lips of a reddish hue,
Her body formed like Venus, as graceful as a queen,
I never thought I’d find a girl, like the angel of my dream.

But yet you came into my life,
Bringing with you boundless joy,
My angel soon will be my wife,
And life together we’ll enjoy.

I still dream of my angel fair,
With sparkling eyes of blue,
But now I know my angel’s name,
Harriet dear it’s you.

    A tear trickled down Harriet’s cheek, but on hearing the bathroom door open she quickly brushed away the droplets and folded away the paper, placing it carefully back into its private place. The words would remain in her heart for the rest of her life, without a doubt. 
    Mary Innes bustled in, having prepared her mistress’s bath water and having laid out fresh white fluffy towels for her. The young woman in her late twenties had been in Lady Harriet’s employ for three years, they got on well and both were very satisfied with their arrangement.
    Although both women were born and brought up in Glasgow, their upbringings had been very different. But the close bond that had formed between the two of them immediately, had wiped out any problems they might have had because of the differences in their backgrounds.
    “Hope you’ve eaten your breakfast this morning Lady Harriet,” Mary’s tone was that of a mother questioning her picky child, even although she was some ten years younger than her mistress.  Making her way over to the bed, she quickly glanced over the tray and seeing the contents had been consumed, she removed it and placed it beside the bedroom door, so she could return it to the kitchen later.
    “Yes I have; I don’t intend to lose any more weight.  My final fitting for my costume is later today and if any more drastic adjustments are needed to be made, I think Clarissa might finally lose patience with me,” Harriet having pulled back the bed covers; rubbed her left hand over her flat stomach.
    “Huh, it wouldn’t take much for Miss Clarissa to lose her patience.  I’ve always found her dead crabby,” Mary offered a silk kimono to her employer, for her to put on.
    “That’s what I love about you my dear Mary, your honesty,” Harriet giggled girlishly at her maid’s forthrightness.  Getting up out of bed she slipped her feet firstly into a pair of black mule slippers, then her arms into the kimono and she said, “Whilst I’m bathing I have a few things I need to be done.  If you make sure Charles puts all my mail on the library desk when it arrives.  I’ll spend the morning in there; if you can tell him I’d rather not be disturbed. Only disturb me if it’s a matter of life or death.”
    “Yes, Lady Harriet.  What time are you expecting crabby Clarissa?”
    “About two o’clock, if you want to take lunch then that’s fine with me.  Charles can send her up here when she arrives.” Harriet stopped before entering into the bathroom, turning to look at Mary she said, “And if you can arrange for Ian the bellboy to pick up the bouquet I ordered from the florist yesterday and deliver it to Mr and Mrs Ashdown’s, along with the note I’ve left over on the dressing table there.  They returned home from Wemyss Bay last night, after visiting with her mother. Charlotte will be heartbroken at having to leave her and return to that cantankerous father-in-law of hers. I thought I would try and lift her spirits.”
    “Certainly Lady Harriet.  That’s a lovely gesture,” the lady’s maid never ceased to be amazed at Harriet’s thoughtfulness and kindness.

    You can read the second chapter Monday, June 4th.