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Authors: Sara Fraser

Til Death Do Us Part

BOOK: Til Death Do Us Part
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Table of Contents

The Thomas Potts Mysteries by Sara Fraser from Severn House

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-One

Chapter Fifty-Two

Chapter Fifty-Three

Chapter Fifty-Four

Chapter Fifty-Five

Chapter Fifty-Six

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Chapter Sixty

Chapter Sixty-One

Chapter Sixty-Two

Chapter Sixty-Three

Chapter Sixty-Four

Chapter Sixty-Five

Chapter Sixty-Six

Chapter Sixty-Seven

Chapter Sixty-Eight

Chapter Sixty-Nine

The Thomas Potts Mysteries by Sara Fraser from Severn House

THE RELUCTANT CONSTABLE

THE RESURRECTION MEN

THE DROWNED ONES

SUFFER THE CHILDREN

TIL DEATH DO US PART

TIL DEATH DO US PART
A Constable Thomas Potts Mystery
Sara Fraser

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 

First published in Great Britain and the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2013 by Sara Fraser.

The right of Sara Fraser to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Fraser, Sara.

Til death do us part. -- (A Thomas Potts mystery)

1. Potts, Thomas (Fictitious character)--Fiction. 2. East

India Company--Fiction. 3. Police--England--Redditch--

Fiction. 4. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title II. Series

823.9'14-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-392-1 (epub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8254-7 (cased)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

ONE
Lincolnshire
Wednesday, 2nd January, 1828
Afternoon

T
he skies were dark grey and rain gusted on the bitterly cold north wind, but in the gloomy sheltered porch of the isolated ancient church, Walter Courtney's smile radiated benign warmth.

‘This has been a stroke of unexpected good luck, Cousin Sylvan. I never expected the auction to gross so well, what with the house fabric needing so much attention.'

‘No more did I, Cousin; it was a bloody wreck if truth be told. But even the furnishings are fetching almost double the prices we estimated.' Sylvan Kent chuckled. ‘It makes the memory of the old bitch almost bearable. But I've still got the stink and taste of her turning my stomach, so I need to gorge on a sweet scented young dish.'

‘And so you shall, Cousin; you shall feast on the sweetest, juiciest young whore you can find,' Courtney assured him, then frowned as he saw someone pass through the churchyard gate and head towards the porch. ‘Who's this coming?'

Kent looked round and hissed with annoyance. ‘It's the damn busybody parson.' Then he called out to the oncoming man, ‘Good afternoon, Reverend, I trust you are hale and hearty despite this inclement weather.'

‘Indeed I am, I thank you, Sir Henry, and I truly hope that your own health is bearing up, despite the tragic loss you have suffered.' The elderly clergyman entered the porch and squinted short-sightedly at Walter Courtney. ‘Greetings to you also, Sir. Have I had the pleasure of your acquaintance before?'

‘To my regret thou hast not, Reverend. I am merely a wayfarer who has taken shelter here from the rain, and have had some conversation with this other gentleman concerning his recent tragic bereavement. My name is James Gibson. I give thee greeting, Reverend, and with all respect I must ask thee not to address me as “sir”. We of the Society of Friends are addressed by our names only.'

The clergyman moved closer and squinted for long moments at Courtney's traditional Quaker dress of low-crowned wide-brimmed black hat, pocketless coat, knee breeches and stockings, plain white linen shirt and stock, totally without any type of adornment.

‘I beg your pardon, James Gibson. I confess the correct usage of speech when addressing those of the Quaker persuasion had slipped my mind. The Society of Friends are indeed true Christians whom I hold in the deepest respect.'

‘I most humbly thank thee for thy kind words, Reverend, and do assure thee that in return we of the Society of Friends hold the established church in the deepest respect.'

They exchanged bows then the clergyman turned to Sylvan Kent.

‘Are you come to inspect your lady wife's gravestone, Sir Henry? The sexton informed me that it was mounted only yesterday afternoon.'

‘Indeed that is the very reason I am just arrived here, Reverend. I've taken lodgings in Lincoln, but until my return to Ireland I shall come here every day and pray over my beloved wife's last resting place.'

‘Be assured, Sir, that the Good Lord sees your pain and will bring comfort to you as time passes. Remember always that when it is your time to pass on you will most assuredly find your lady wife awaiting you in Paradise. Now I must leave you for I have work to do inside. I bid you both a good day and may God's presence be always with you.'

‘Amen,' both Kent and Courtney intoned with feeling.

As the church door creaked shut behind the clergyman, Kent winked and jerked his head, whispering, ‘I'd best be seen to be saying a prayer over the sour bitch's gravestone before I leave.'

Courtney nodded and whispered. ‘I'll keep you company.'

The newly erected gravestone bore the glittering gilt words:

In Memory of Fanny.

The beloved Wife of

The Honourable Henry Kinleary. Bart.

Died November 16th 1827. Aged 48 years.

‘'Til Death do us Part'

Courtney pointed at this last sentence. ‘That don't scan well, Sylvan. Death has already parted you, has it not?'

Kent grimaced as though he had a bad taste in his mouth. ‘Listen, Cousin Walter, I was wed to that nagging old cow for four long months, and she kept telling me every day . . .' His voice became a querulous, high-pitched tone. ‘“May the Good Lord have mercy on me, because I'd never have married you if I'd known what a wicked, brutal, drunken wastrel you are! And now I must live with you in misery because we're man and wife 'til death do us part!”' He grinned savagely. ‘In fact she was shouting those very words when I dosed her tea with that powder you gave me, and released her from her life of misery! So I thought she would appreciate having them on her gravestone.'

Courtney chuckled. ‘What a kindly and considerate gesture on your part, Cousin, in return for her being kindly and considerate enough to leave us in handsome profit.'

‘Have you made preparations for our next venture?' Kent wanted to know.

‘Of course I have, and very thorough ones as regards our new identities. They are both real people. Your man was kicked out of the East India Company Army some years past, and has not been heard of since; and mine is apparently incarcerated in a private lunatic asylum down in Kent.

‘We shall be fishing Warwickshire and Worcestershire and my postal drop is in Redditch Town on the county border between them.' Courtney radiated self-satisfaction. ‘I've placed a series of notices in the Birmingham and Worcester news sheets, and already have a prospective client. A widow in Warwick by the name of Adelaide Farson.'

He took a sheaf of papers from his inner pocket and handed it to the other man. ‘Here's the script for your next role. You are now Major Christophe de Langlois of the Honourable East India Company's Madras Native Infantry Regiment; and I am the Reverend Geraint Winward.'

Courtney produced a miniature portrait from his inner pocket and chuckled as he displayed it to the other man. ‘I've had this likeness of you altered somewhat. As you can see, instead of a dreary black scholar's cap and robe, you are now clad in splendid scarlet and gold.'

Kent shook his head doubtfully. ‘But I don't know anything about soldiering.'

Courtney frowned irritably. ‘Then study the script closely and learn all you can about military matters, and about India, instead of wasting all your time drinking and gambling. Now there's the parson just come through the door, so let's make a show of it.'

They stood with bowed heads and hands clasped as if in prayer while the clergyman walked past them and disappeared through the lychgate.

Then Courtney announced, ‘Well, our business is all but done here. I'll leave you to finish the odds and ends, while I establish myself in the Midlands. Behave yourself, study the script, and keep sober.'

He turned and walked away.

Sylvan Kent scowled resentfully after him, and muttered, ‘You're not my boss, you cunt, and the first thing I'm going to do now is get as drunk as a fuckin' Lord.'

TWO
Beoley Village, Worcestershire
Tuesday, 8th January
Morning

S
itting in the drawing room of her spacious home, Phoebe Creswell's imagination soared, and her heartbeat quickened, as she read and re-read the advertisement in the
Worcester Herald
newspaper.

Matrimony. An Officer of the Honourable East India Company, who notwithstanding his warlike profession possesses a most tender heart and gentle nature, is greatly desirous of finding a soul mate to share his life and fortune.

Preferably this Lady should be of similar social standing and have power of property, which may remain in her own possession.

Should any Lady find this advertisement worthy of notice she may reply by letter (post paid) to ‘XYZ', care of Mr Charles Bromley, Stationery Emporium, High Street, Redditch, Worcestershire.

Honour and Secrecy are guaranteed to any replies.

BOOK: Til Death Do Us Part
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