Mike and Rose arrived on Elba Island a little before mid-day. Although their Villa was not far from the beautiful Spiaggia di Sansone (Beach of Samson) they decided to spend the afternoon beside the cerulean waters of the large Villa pool. They had been informed that the beaches would be quite crowded by now and since they had the place all to themselves this afternoon, they took the opportunity for a bit of alone time.
Lounging by the pool in the warm Tuscan sun and sipping a delightful Aleatico red wine definitely had them feeling deeply relaxed and cheerful!
With a twinkle in his eye, Mike raised his glass, “A salute you mio cara.”
“And to you, my love,” came Rose’s coy reply, as she lifted her glass to touch his.
The day was quite warm and the sparkling waters so inviting, Mike decided he needed cool off with a swim.
Rose was preparing to join him in the pool for a quick dip when her cell phone rang. Her first thought was to dismiss it but seeing it was her mother she thought it best to answer. Snow would not be one to thoughtlessly interrupt for no reason.
“Hello Mum. What’s up? What? Slow down Mum I cannot understand you. What happened .. who … who is dead?”
“Rose your Aunt Caroline is in jail.” Snow sobbed into the phone, “They are accusing her of murder. They say she killed the reverend Krupp with her apple pie.”
Rose listened intently as Snow related the situation there. How could such a terrible thing have happened? Her mind reeled as she grasped for understanding.
“Mike, we have to return home. The situation there is heartbreaking and we need to be there to support Mum and Dad.”
Rose went on to explain what little she had been able to glean from her mother’s frantic phone call.
Deeply concerned for the family’s well being, Mike made the travel arrangements. They would return home to Windenburg tonight.
Rose dashed into the house as soon as they hit the island. Embracing her obviously shaken Mother, “Oh, Mum I missed you so much.”
This stalwart woman who had been a rock throughout Roses’s life, all of a sudden seemed so frail and vulnerable.
Mother and daughter clung to one another for just a moment before Rose whispered reassuringly, “We are here now Mum. It is all going to be ok.”
Snow straightened, stepped back and quickly regaining her composure, began to deal with the situation at hand.
“Rose White, I know Caroline did not do this. I have known her too many years and I know she is a gentle spirit. Your Father fears for my health and will not allow me to intervene. I am concerned for him as well, this is too large a burden for him to bear alone. You and Mike must come alongside him to work to get her released, my daughter.”
“Hello, dear Rose.” Prince, desperately trying to sound cheerful, sang out to her as he entered the room. “Welcome back home my little princess, even if it is under such inauspicious circumstances.”
Rose gave her mom a quick wink and with a warm smile went to greet her father, “Hello Daddy. Mike and I need to clean up a bit from the trip but we will be back in about an hour so that you can fill us in on what things you know.”
“Very good dear,” Prince replied, “I will get Walther, UH Officer Theis to join us.”
One hour later Prince, Mike, Rose and Officer Theis conferred in Prince’s home study.
“Quite frankly it is not looking good for my sister. She bought the apples and made the pie herself. After delivery, she declined a piece when the reverend offered pie and tea. She said that talking to the reverend gave her butterflies in her stomach so she only took the tea. ”
“The pie was tested and found to contain a rare poison found only in the jungles of Selvadorada. It is the essence obtained from their rare breed of cowplant. There is none locally that distributes this poison for any reason.
Prince continued to relay the situation to Rose and Mike while officer Theis looked on nodding his approval.
Officer Theis interjected, “Perhaps if you two would come down and talk to her it would jog her memory about the apples. I can arrange for an interview room in an hour or so.”
“We will be glad to,” Mike offered, reaching to take Rose’s hand to show solidarity, “Our hearts are broken by this and we will help in any way we can!”
Rose tearfully nodded her agreement.
“I am tired and I want to go home! I have told you over and over I did not want to kill him … I do not know where the poison came from.”
Caroline’s outburst had made most everyone in the room uncomfortable …
EXCEPT for Prince, “Caroline dear, we are all on your side. No one here believes you intentionally caused the death of Father Krupp.”
His kind eyes and calm manner seemed to settle Caroline a bit.
Officer Theis concluded, “I am looking into releasing you on your own recognizance. Let me work on it for a just a little while more. Detective V will take you back to your cell.”
Turning to Price, Mike and Rose he thanked them for coming down and assured them that he and the WPD will work tirelessly to solve this case and absolve your sister’s good name.
A raspy gruff angry sounding voice reached her ears, ” For Pete’s sake, turn of the waterworks already. Can’t someone get a little peace and quiet around these parts!”
Startled the mournful Caroline reacted, “Who is there? I had no idea anyone was there!”
“Mergwhen Bramblewise at your service,” he croaked in mock politeness.
“Caroline. Caroline Charming.”
“OH, a Princess? The King’s sister perhaps? I think I heard that you killed your lover.” Mergwhen made chucking noise that made her skin crawl.
Caroline told her story again, this time to the odd little man in the neighboring cell who listened quite intently.
“And you have no remembrance of obtaining these apples?” He queried.
“Nooo, but I am trying so hard to remember. It is difficult with this broken heart mixing me up. All I wanted to do was be his girlfriend,” she stammered, “or even his wife. I still do!”
“Well of course you do! I know someone who might be able to help you with this.”
Caroline exclaimed at this horrid little man suddenly turned benefactor, “YOU DO! How? Please tell me.”
Mergwhen rose and walked to the corner of the cell closest to hers, “Come here precious princess, do you have your cell phone? I will text you directions. You go to her when you are released from here tonight.”
Caroline approached the colorful woman cautiously, “I am sorry to bother you but I was sent here by Mergwhen Bramblewise, who told me you might be able to help.”
“Mergwhen Bramblewise!” the colorful woman laughed, “He certainly is a nefarious creature to be hanging out with the likes of you Princess Caroline.”
“You know me?”
“Yes, my dear, my ball tells all.”
Caroline poured out her heart. She was desperate to see Father Knupp again.
“You are my only hope for happiness,” Caroline pleaded.
“I am afraid that you have come all this way for nothing. Mergwhen knows well I have no power over the dead. I do not practice the dark arts. I cannot help you.”
“But there is one,” the gypsy sighed, “His name is Harold and he lives in a well on the outer edge of my encampment. He can be charitable and kind one minute and unpredictable and foul the next. He is very powerful and if it were me, I would walk away now.”
Caroline could not walk away. She had to take the risk. She had nothing to lose. If things remained like this she was a murder destined to be alone.
“Hello Harold,” the cautious princess approached, “my name is … ”
“I know who you are!” A voice boomed from the depths of the well. “And I know what you want but my questions is, do you know what you want?”
The words gushed out of Caroline, “Yes I want to see Father Knupp again. I want the chance to be his girlfriend or even his wife. To live with him in our charming little cottage. To live happily ever after!”
“Well, then you shall have it.”
During her life Princess Caroline was never lucky in love .. looks like the afterlife will be much different.
** This ending is dedicated to my dear friend Brenda M who inspired it without knowing 🙂 Love you, Brenda!
Mergwhen bragged, “It is finished. It was far too easy. That silly girl believed everything I told her. Harold pulled off his part perfectly. The Princess never suspected a thing! No one will ever be able to tie it back to you”
“And the old woman?” Evella asked her face in a snarl.
“OH no, she is a silly sort as well. She suspects nothing!”
“However, Harold says not to involve him again or he will turn you into a toad.”
Evella screeched with rage, uttering forbidden words and vowing great harm to the imbecile who lives in that well.
Mergwhen reminded in a hushed voice, “Be careful my Queen. He is very powerful.”
In a voice dripping with malice and contempt, she asked, “Apple dear Mergwhen?”
An involuntary shudder shook his body.
“No. No thank you, my Queen.”
“Suit yourself darling … ”
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****************************** Credits *******************************************
Very excited to colab with the FAB Brennachan Sims
Even tho Mergwhen has found is way into my story quite a few times it has been a long time since I credited him 🙂
The apple is from this FAB pack!!