A Murder Most Unladylike mini mystery

Of all the cases that Hazel and I have investigated so far, the Case of the Deepdean Vampire was one of the strangest and most interesting. It was not a murder, which was a pity – but I did solve it very cleverly, as usual, and I am convinced that it ought to be written down properly, so that other people can read it one day and be impressed.

I asked Hazel to do it, but she is still busy writing up her notes for the Case of the Murder of Elizabeth Hurst (that was a murder, and a very exciting one). However, I remembered how good I was at writing down the Case of the Blue Violet, and I realized that I could do it perfectly well myself. After all, I am not only an excellent detective but a truly first-class writer. I am the Honourable Daisy Wells, and I can do anything.

Now, I am sure that one day the name Daisy Wells will be recognized as the greatest consulting detective the world has ever known (the second greatest will be Hazel, of course). However, I must admit that international fame has not quite happened to us yet. We are currently fourth formers at Deepdean School for Girls. I am the president of our Detective Society, and Hazel Wong is my vice-president and secretary. She is also my best friend, which I am glad about. Not that there was ever any danger that she was not, but all the same, I did spend the first part of this autumn term wondering.

The facts of the case are these. At breakfast on Thursday 21st November, I was watching our new prefects try to keep the shrimps in order. (If you read Hazel’s account of Elizabeth Hurst’s murder when it is finished, you will understand why we have new prefects, and why I might be interested in them.) However, one of the most important things for a detective to remember is the principle of constant vigilance. You cannot simply think about one thing. You must watch and listen to several things at once. I am an excellent detective, and so I was keeping half an ear on the chatter at our own fourth form table. The others (Kitty, Beanie and Lavinia from our dorm, as well as Clementine from the other dorm) were talking, their usual useless nonsense, but then something came through that made me sit up and take notice.

‘And she climbed past our window like a lizard at two in the morning – upside down!’ said Clementine Delacroix. ‘I was lying in bed awake, and I saw her. Our dorm is right below hers, you know. She must have come out of the window above us!’

Now, Clementine is a terrible gossip. Most of the things she says can be ignored, but all the same, this sounded most interesting.

‘She did not!’ said Kitty scornfully. Kitty is also a gossip, so she and Clementine often do not get on.

‘I tell you, she did!’ said Clementine. ‘I saw it with my own eyes. I’m not surprised – I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen for weeks. You see, Camilla Badescu is a vampire.’

The Case of the Deepdean Vampire

I keep close watch on everyone at Deepdean as a matter of course, and so I already knew quite a lot about the fifth former, Camilla Badescu. She comes from Romania, and she is new this year – she went straight into the fifth form, which is unusual. She is tall and pale, with dark hair, and she is exceedingly haughty. She is rude to everyone, including the mistresses – everyone, that is, apart from her best friend, Amy Jessop. Camilla and Amy share a dorm with Eloise Delacroix (who happens to be Clementine’s sister) and two other girls, and they have become as close as anything since a few weeks after Camilla arrived.

‘Don’t be silly,’ said Kitty. ‘People don’t climb upside down. And anyway, there’s no such thing as vampires.’

‘Yes there is, Kitty Freebody, and Camilla is one,’ said Clementine. ‘She comes from Romania, doesn’t she? Well, Romania is next to Transylvania, and everyone knows that’s where vampires come from. It’s perfectly obvious as soon as you think about it. She never eats anything at dinner and her hair has one of those window’s peaks—’

‘Widow’s peaks,’ said Lavinia.

Clementine glared at her. ‘And how would you know, Lavinia? Are you a vampire too?’

Lavinia bared her teeth. Clementine rolled her eyes.

Beanie, eating her toast, looked alarmed. ‘You don’t really mean it?’ she asked.

‘Of course I do,’ said Clementine. ‘I tell you, I know what I saw!’

Kitty soothed Beanie, and I glanced at Hazel, to see how she was taking things. She looked rather worried – Hazel does not much enjoy ghost stories, and this sounded very much like a ghost story. But I was not quite so sure.

In my experience, people rarely do know what it is that they saw. Their minds are dreadfully lazy, always playing tricks on them. But all the same, there is a reason behind everything – and I wondered what the explanation for this story was.

‘Anyway, if you want proof Camilla’s a vampire, look at Amy Jessop,’ Clementine went on. ‘I know they’re supposed to be friends, but look how pale and thin she’s got since Camilla arrived in her dorm! My sister Eloise says that Amy’s even begun to sleepwalk. That’s why I was lying awake last night. I can sometimes hear the floor in their dorm creaking above our own, and I thought I might hear her doing it.’

‘Fourth form!’ said the prefect on duty, turning to us suddenly. ‘Eat up your breakfasts before the bell rings!’

We went silent and ate. I ate very quickly, to give myself more time to think. Most people are slow to do anything, which is foolish. If you do all of the boring things in life like meals and prep and getting dressed extremely quickly, you have more time to detect.

Once I had finished my toast, I thought about Camilla and Amy. It was true that they seemed to have become close very quickly – and that was odd. Amy herself is known for being very polite, and good at lessons – her essay on Macbeth even won a prize at the beginning of this term, and was featured in quite a prominent paper. Camilla, as I have already explained, is stand-offish and rude – that Amy picked her to be friends with was unusual. Amy had lost other friends because of it – she and Camilla spent almost all their time together now. I had noticed this, but I had not enquired further. I saw that I must do so now. Vampires are not real, but all the same, people do not simply imagine someone climbing past them, out of a window. I wanted to know what Camilla was really doing, and why.

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