A Lumby Village Mystery
Part I – Going to Church

By Donna Easto

  • Characters:
    • Madeleine (Maddie) Arnold: church organist, spinster,
    • Angus McAllister: retired naval officer, church caretaker, elderly widower
    • John Wilson Murray: retired naval officer, police detective
    • Albert Duggan: homesteader, part-time tax collector, bachelor
    • Sidney “Sly” LaForest: prospector, gambler, bachelor

Dear Reader, you will recall from the “Case of the Purloined Pudding” that Miss Maddie Arnold was considered an accomplished sleuth in the sleepy Village of Lumby. Over the intervening year since solving that perplexing puzzle, life had been relatively quiet.  Her only case involved the mysterious disappearance of a flock of fine, fat turkeys from a farmyard.  However, the year had witnessed the blossoming of a romance between Madeleine and Angus McAllister.  Angus was a striking figure of a man whose time spent as an officer in the navy was evident in his posture and commanding presence.  A soft burr in his speech revealed a Scottish homeland. The couple was devoted to each other, and the subject of much local gossip.  Was a marriage in the future?

The gossip mill was in full swing that October day – a handsome stranger had ridden into town, enquiring after Angus McAllister.  A gaggle of the local youngsters were only too happy to direct him to the churchyard where Angus was doing some weeding. Looking up at the small parade heading his way, Angus declared loudly, “John, as I live and breathe.  Never thought to see you again, you old sea dog.”  Turning to the boys, he teased, “Best behave you pack of rascals, this here is my friend, the famous Detective, John Wilson Murray.”

At that moment, Maddie emerged from the church where she’d been practicing the hymns for Sunday service.  “Angus, what on earth?”  Flustered on spotting the stranger, she apologized, “Oh, I beg your pardon, uh… sir. I didn’t realize you were out here.” Smiling, she turned to the boys, “Now away with you, you little urchins.  I’ll see you in church on Sunday.”   At that, the unruly lads vanished.  Within minutes word about the visitor would be spreading like wildfire throughout the Village. 

“Madeleine, let me introduce you to John Murray, we were boys together in Edinburgh.  And we served together in the navy.  It seems like a lifetime ago. John’s gone on to be a Detective with a big city police force.  The city papers call him the “Great Canadian Detective.”  John, this is Miss Madeleine Arnold, church organist and my own dear love.”

After the appropriate pleasantries, Maddie announced, “I must get back to my music for Sunday.  But, I expect both of you to arrive at my home at 5:00 p.m. sharp for dinner.  It seems we three have much in common and much to talk about.  Delighted to make your acquaintance, Detective Murray.”  Giving Angus a quick kiss on the cheek, and a backward glance at John Murray, she disappeared into the sanctuary.

At that, John grabbed Angus in a bear hug, declaring, “Angus, I’m so happy to see you settled and clearly in love again.  You’re a lucky man.  Now, where am I to lay my head tonight?  You and Madeleine aren’t????”

“Oh, no,” Angus countered robustly, “but, you might receive an invitation to the nuptials by this time next year.  You’ll have to settle for my modest bachelor abode.  We have a lot to catch up on.  I read great things in the newspapers about your time with the Canada Southern Railway and your recent work with the Toronto constabulary.  Maddie will be intrigued by your success using scientific methods to solve crime.  She’s something of a detective herself.” 

NEXT:  A DARK HORSE

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