The trouble with being in the investigating business is you never seem to be off the clock so when Lola and Bunty realised that there must be someone else making the noise they decided to stop struggling into their nighties and instead put on stout shoes (in the case of Bunty and fur-trimmed mules for Lola).
“I’m taking something in the blunt instrument line with me” said Lola, picking up a cudgel that was attached to a suit of armour.
“Good thinking, I have my traveling frying pan for back up” replied Bunty as she thwacked it against the door knob for practice.
They mounted the stairs to the attic and also had the presence of mind to bring a torch to illuminate the way.
“We were going to come up here the other night when we heard noises” reminded Bunty “I wonder who it is?”
“Perhaps it’s ghosts..” Lola said quietly just before she gave Bunty a shove.
“Stop mucking about” Bunty hissed, “Did you hear that?” she pointed at a door at the end of a corridor with low ceilings and covered in cobwebs.
“Well no one has been down here” said Lola pointing at the undisturbed cobwebs.
“Hmm, yes a bit worrying, I’ll grant you” she whispered.
They shuffled down the corridor brushing aside the clinging, sticky cobwebs and followed the noises. At the next turn of the corridor which brought them into a new wing they noticed with some relief another corridor that looked clean and newly swept. They could hear the tinkling of cups and saucers and a low voice carrying out a conversation.
Lola and Bunty stood outside the door and after the count of three they turned the handle and rushed into the room. Bunty brandishing her frying pan and Lola her trusty cudgel.
Bunty flashed her torch into the room; there amongst all the bric a brac of an attic room sat Mrs damson with a pot of tea and a plate of fancies.
“Miss Lola, I knew you would come!” she beamed at Lola.
“Damson, Good God how did you escape from the asylum?” said a startled Lola
“And how long have you been hiding up here?” she added
“I have to do my duty and look after you, your Uncle Silas would expect it” said Mrs Damson
“Would you like Tea, and your friend too I suppose?” She looked hard at Bunty trying to dredge up from the recesses of her mind where she had seen this stout woman before.
Bunty sat down on a rickety chair and helped herself to a fancy, she took a bite but spat it out quickly as she saw the cake was about ten years out of date and the tea was nothing more than brackish water.
“Come down stairs with us Mrs D,” coaxed Lola. “We will get you something better and you can tell me what you have been getting up to.”
Lola hissed at Bunty to get her notebook with the code words. She wanted to try the release word on Mrs Damson.
They took Mrs damson into the kitchen and stirred up the ashes in the Aga enough to get the kettle onto boil. Mrs damson seemed to relish her proper tea and Lola picked cobwebs out of her hair while she talked brightly of times gone by at Schlepping Towers.
Bunty returned with Lola’s notebook and she flicked through the pages until she came to patient 111, Mrs Damson.
“Now then Mrs damson, listen carefully,” said Lola, her finger poised over the word written down on the page.