The Tuff-Muffin Clan had been summoned to Uncle Bingo’s private residence to hear the much-anticipated reading of the will.
Bunty had been his clear favourite so the rest of the family, including some very obscure members indeed, were rather surprised to find the black edged invitations arriving on their door mats to invite them to the remote mansion of the northern moors Basketcase Abbey.
Bunty had recovered from her time in the land of foreign and her exposure to the world of the undead and all kinds of supernatural goings on and now had to clear up some of the mess left behind by the skirmishes at home.
Rickets was in the process of being restored after what was now only referred to as “The Incident”. The local constabulary had been mostly appeased and polite society once more left their calling cards, although Bunty suspected that it was largely to see the crater which now occupied the place where the maze used to be.
Branwell was busy with the roses, and had recovered fully from his nervous breakdown, except that every now and then he would twitch and mutter darkly, “The thing! The maze!”
Lola had become quite the property speculator; on her return she had secured the deeds to Schloss Schlepping, had Max arrested for smuggling in Transylvestite where he was dispatched to a rather unpleasant prison with very attentive guards.
The ancestral pile had been converted into a Gothic themed hotel which was popular with a certain set and she was raking in the cash; but she was bored. The endless gigaloes could not satisfy her needs, the champagne tasted flat and the clientelle at the club now disgusted her; she needed a diversion. Living on the edge was what she craved and there was only one way that she could be legally surrounded by murder and mystery that she could think of.
Bunty was wrestling with some rather stubborn brambles in the kitchen garden of the cottage when Gangee called her in.
“Miss Gefiltre on the telephone Miss Bunty.” he announced.
“Oh Lord what now?!” exclaimed Bunty, wiping her feet on the boot scraper.
“Bunty, I have a proposition for you!” came the breathy voice on the other end of the line.
Gangee laid out afternoon tea, with scones cake and sandwiches on fluffy white bread and an ash tray and supplies of Bombay Sapphire and tonic water for their guest.
Lola arrived at 3.00 promptly, swinging her legs out of the back of her little red Jaguar XK 120, the rest of her body soon joining her in a cloud of smoke. She carried a crocodile briefcase which matched both her shoes and gloves, and the wrinkly little man who crawled out of the passenger seat.
“My new lawyer, they call him the Shark, he’s old but ruthless. Rumour has it he was nearly done for you know what.” Lola whispered.
“The thing that dare not speak its name?” asked Bunty.
“Yes, the thing that Mr Feral the English teacher tried to do to Melling in his study!”
They both giggled at memories of their schooldays.
“Anyway, I’ve got enough dirt on the old blighter to force him to do my will.”
They went inside, Bunty tucked into cake and Lola soon filled the room with cigarette smoke, making the Shark sit in the corner until they had finished.
Lola summoned him after her third G & T.
“Go on then, earn your ten shillings a minute.” she commanded.
“Miss Tuff-Muffin.” he wheedled, “my client has a very interesting proposition for you, and an interesting revelation concerning the reading of your Uncle’s will.”