The story so far. Cordelia Bright agreed to marry the wicked Sir Jasper De Jasper, but only to prevent him from closing down the St Justus home and sending the headless orphans to the workhouse. The miserable Sister Odium was angry and jealous. She was spurned and ridiculed by Sir Jasper when she suggested that she would be a more suitable bride for him. In the church, on the day of the wedding, just moments after Father O’Shaughnessey had pronounced Sir Jasper and Cordelia man and wife, Sir Jasper fell to the floor. Dead…
Father O’Shaugnessey gently lifted the dead man’s hand from his neck, gasped and crossed himself. Beneath it was a small dart, lodged in the jugular vein. Sir Jasper had been murdered!
The doors to the church were secured. No one was to enter or leave the building until the police arrived. When they did, in the form of inspector George Savales and two stout constables, everyone was searched thoroughly from head to toe. Apart from the orphans, who were only searched from the neck down. When the blowpipe and tin of darts was discovered in Sister Odium’s clutch bag, she was handcuffed and led away screaming that she was innocent and that she should have been the one marrying Sir Jasper, in a wild, almost incoherent manner. That the darts were of the same type as the one sticking from Sir Jasper’s neck was in no doubt. It would subsequently be discovered that their tips were coated in the same deadly poison. Then it would only be a matter of time before Sister Odium’s neck was violated. By the hangman’s noose!
But the death of Sir Jasper turned out to be a stroke of luck for the headless orphans in a more significant way than just being the cause of the removal of the despised sister. Happening as it had just moments after Cordelia became his wife, it meant that amongst his many other assets and interests, the St Justus Home became her legal property. Cordelia was now a widow woman of considerable means, and the future of the orphans lay in her fair hands.
The Orphanage would remain open. There would be no sludge processing factory, and no more lumpy porridge for the headless orphans. They would have nothing but the finest food and care. Perhaps some of the finest scientific minds in the realm could be induced to work upon finding a way to grow them fresh heads, with mouths and noses, hair, teeth and tongues, ears and eyes, lips to kiss, and cheeks to be kissed. The things that normal children took for granted, but that the inhabitants of the St Justus home could only dream of.
But all that was in the future. For now, six shaken headless orphans were led back home by Sister Blessed and Cordelia Bright and placed in the drawing room to play, whist dinner was prepared.
Matthew separated himself from the others, and locked himself into the lavatory. He sat on the closed seat, not bothering to remove his trousers at all. He tensed the muscles in his body, clenched his little fists and seemed to squeeze his flesh reddening with the effort. Slowly, as he wriggled and pushed, something began to emerge from the blowhole atop his neck. A thin, hollow cylinder. When it protruded by about an inch, he took it between his finger and thumb and plucked all six inches of it free, giving it a wipe on his jacket. It was a blowpipe, identical to the one that Sister Odium had taken from him in the church. He broke it into several pieces. He placed the pieces into the lavatory bowl, and he flushed them away. Forever!