The Mystery at Delecour Manor

I have documented below the strange events that transpired at the home of Lady Bertha Delecour, a well-to-do and aristocratic widow residing in an unspecified part of the English countryside during an equally unspecified time in history. This piece was dredged up from the annals of my early high school years, and it is likely the last remnant of a younger, funnier version of myself. Somewhere out in the universe is a video recording of this screenplay come to life, with yours truly acting out the titular role of Lady Delecour. Oh, if only you could have seen my wig. Anyway, let’s begin.

Scene One

Narrator: Night one of The Mystery at Delecour Manor. Lady Bertha Delecour prepares to retire for the evening.

Scene One opens in the bedchamber of Lady Bertha Delecour at Delecour Manor. Ostentatious displays of wealth adorn the walls and furniture. Garbed in nightgown and gilded slippers, the aged Lady prepares for sleep. She proceeds in removing multiple items of jewelry from her person, placing them on a bedside table. A quiet knock can be heard at the door to the chamber. 

Lady Delecour: Come in, come in! A slight lilt accents the Lady’s voice, but it carries well nevertheless.

The door opens and in steps Mrs. Pennykettle, the portly, middle-aged housekeeper of Delecour Manor. She carries a silver tray laden with tea, crumpets, and a folded newspaper. 

Mrs. Pennykettle: Your evening tea, mistress. I also brought this morning’s post. You forgot to read it during brunch. She carefully lays the tray on the bedside table and hands the newspaper into the expectant hands of Lady Delecour. 

Lady Delecour: You have my thanks, Mrs. Pennykettle. You may leave now.

The terse attitude of her mistress fails to deject Mrs. Pennykettle. The matron quietly leaves the room, closing the door behind her. Lady Delecour opens the newspaper, periodically sipping her tea. After a few moments of silence, her eyes widen comically, almost in imitation of a toad. Chest heaving, she spews her tea over the side of the bed. 

Lady Delecour: What tosh is this? UFO sightings in Surrey? The nerve! Blasted press spewing whatever nonsense around they please. I’ll no longer subscribe to this rot.

Lady Delecour tosses the paper on the floor with bluster, giving it one last indignant glance. Dousing the light with a scrabbling hand, she prepares to sleep. With a final mumble about “nonsense aliens,” her eyes begin to close. Almost immediately, from outside the window, lights begin flickering noticeably. They shine into the bedchamber, hopping from walls to furniture. Lady Delecour stirs with a start, notices the lights, and sits up in bed. 

Lady Delecour: Mrs. Pennykettle! Come hither! My sleep has been disturbed.

The light suddenly fades out as someone can be heard politely knocking at the door. Hair in disarray, Lady Delecour leaps from the tangled covers and scrambles to the door. Heaving it open with long, unconventional fingernails, she grasps her housekeeper by the blouse and drags her inside. The door slams shut with a bang. 

Mrs. Pennykettle: You called, Madame? She calmly disentangles herself from the wild woman in front of her and smoothes down her wrinkled apron. 

Lady Delecour: There is a crook loitering outside my window, shining lights in my face, and disturbing the peace! There needs to be some kind of law enforcement here at once!

Mrs. Pennykettle: Walking to the window and peering into the dark, she replies, Are you sure My Lady? I cannot see the faintest light. In all respects, perhaps you are confusing dream with reality. Knowing a reprimand was due, the matron lowers her head and averts her eyes. 

Lady Delecour: Spittle flying from her wrinkled lips, Lady Delecour offers her rebuke. You are in no position to question my sense, Mrs. Pennykettle. Move away from the window, woman, and allow me to look for myself. Absolutely preposterous!

Swiftly moving aside, Mrs. Pennykettle offers no rebuttal to her mistress’s remarks. She is the perfect example of a proper housekeeper. Meanwhile, Lady Delecour peers out into the night, clenching the silk curtains with an iron grasp. With a jerk, she steps back. 

Lady Delecour: Aha! Some ungainly figure wanders about my garden. Call the officers! Bring in that crook! I will not have thieves and trespassers on my estate. She looks again, this time trying to determine any distinguishing features of the figure. In puzzlement, Lady Delecour realizes it is her gardener, Mr. Potts. The hour is late, but nevertheless he carries a rake in his arms, seemingly still at work. Why, it’s Mr. Potts! Whatever could that idiot be up to at this late hour? Loitering outside my bedchamber window and shining lights in my face! He is a spy, I tell you Mrs. Pennykettle! He must be arrested! Call up the station and have him taken in!

Mrs. Pennykettle: Right away, My Lady. She swiftly exits the room, making a phone call to Officer Daniels, the chief of the local law enforcement. 

Mr. Potts is summoned to the parlor without explanation, and he obliges. Meanwhile, Lady Delecour rises from bed and prepares herself for company. She exits her bedchamber and makes for the study where Mr. Potts unknowingly awaits his imminent arrest. Mrs. Pennykettle returns with more tea and crumpets, and the trio settles down in tense anticipation. After a few moments, a knock can be heard at the door. Mrs. Pennykettle steps forward to answer it, revealing a tall, well-built man with chiseled features. 

Officer Daniels: Good evening miss. I received your call and left the station immediately after filing a report. Is the proprietress present?

Lady Delecour: Good evening to you, Officer Daniels. You have my thanks for arriving so hastily. She glances surreptitiously at Mr. Potts, a grimace intensifying her already severe features. I don’t believe the matter could have rested until morning, sir. You see, this man, my gardener, has proven himself to be a crook and a spy! He sneaks around at night, shining lights in my window, looking for God knows what. My privacy has been compromised this night, sir, when I awoke to find this man outside my window in plain sight. He must be arrested!

Officer Daniels: One moment my good Lady, you say this man was shining lights in your window?

Mr. Potts: I en’t done no such thing! I be finishing up the weeding in the petunia bed, like I been planning these last two days. I carried no light, neither! Dressed in filthy, mud-smeared trousers, a stained shirt, and grungy hat, Mr. Potts carries a garden rake in his hands, only enunciating his statement. Nevertheless, in his back pocket rests an electric torch, which he has apparently forgotten about. Lady Delecour notices this and points out the lie with vehemence.

Lady Delecour: And what is that, you buffoon? In your back pocket! Let me guess, you forgot all about that blasted light you were shining so obtrusively in my window! You are out to steal my antique false teeth collection. I know it! Her glare is cold enough to wither flowers.

Officer Daniels, in a hasty assumption, now believes Mr. Potts is the prime suspect. He grabs the disgusting man by the arm and hauls him forward. Mr. Potts squeals but remains submissive. 

Officer Daniels: Please remain silent, you crook! Now, answer my questions very carefully. Do you or do you not confess to spying on the Lady Delecour? Were you loitering outside her window? Think very carefully before you answer, you degenerate hog! If you confess, I will personally ensure your punishment isn’t too severe.

Mr. Potts: I confess to nothin! I have only ever served old Bertha with honesty. Surely she en’t thinking I been spying on her?

Lady Delecour: It’s Delecour, you swine! Lady Delecour! Arrest this man, Officer. I want him banished from my property now! Her face is a curious shade of red and purple as she waves her arms madly in the air. Officer Daniels grabs Mr. Potts by the arm and drags him out the door of the manor, effectively sealing the poor, sniveling idiot’s fate.

Mrs. Pennykettle: I believe the excitement is over My Lady. You may retire for the night, if you wish. She calmly picks up the condemned gardener’s rake on the floor and tosses it out the door . 

Lady Delecour: Mrs. Pennykettle, I believe that is exactly what I shall do. You may dismiss yourself for the evening after cleaning this mess up. Goodnight to you. And with those final words, Lady Delecour departs the stage, eager to finally receive her night of sleep. End of Scene One.

Scene Two

Narrator: Scene Two of The Mystery at Delecour Manor. Twenty-four hours since the rash and hasty arrest of the gardner, Mr. Potts, has passed. The Lady Bertha Delecour prepares to retire for the evening once again.

Scene Two opens again in the bedchamber of Lady Delecour. The fusty, old aristocrat is clambering into bed, still smiling from her triumph the night before. She imagines to herself the torture poor Mr. Potts will be enduring. Her antique false teeth collection is finally safe from spying crooks. 

Lady Delecour: My household has been purged of thieves and buffoons. I may finally rest assured that tonight no fowl villain will disturb my sleep again. She settles down and douses the light. Her eyes began to close as she dozes off. 

After a few moments a steady light begins to shine through the window of the bedchamber. More lights join in, and a blinking, intermittent array is formed. 

Lady Delecour: They have returned, Mrs. Pennykettle! Quick, dial Officer Daniels! Mr. Potts had an accomplice. Practically leaping from bed, Lady Delecour stumbles to the window, peering into the night with growing insanity. The lights immediately cease. Although she can locate no figure wandering the grounds this time, her hope is not lost. I cannot see a bloody thing out there. Where is Mrs. Pennykettel! Mrs Pennykettle!

By this time Lady Delecour has become increasingly suspicious about her housekeeper. Her twisted mind is playing games, and for some unknown cause, she links those flashing lights to Mrs. Pennykettle. Silently she makes a vow to do everything in her power to have her housekeeper arrested.

Lady Delecour: Oh what a fool I am! It was that Pennykettle wretch spying on me. She is very clever, yes, always so calm and reserved. And Mr. Potts was her assistant! I see! I must phone Officer Daniels at once. Lady Delecour exits the room and heads for the parlor, where she phones the station, demanding Officer Daniels to arrive shortly. She hangs up the receiver just as the front door opens and Mrs. Pennykettle steps in.

Mrs. Pennykettle: Oh, Madame! I’m terribly sorry for leaving you. I was outside seeing about the hounds. They were starting up the foulest racket you ever heard and—

Lady Delecour: Keep silent, you dog! I know Mr. Potts wasn’t the ONLY spy on this estate. You are in the same boat, Pennykettle. I have phoned the law enforcement, and they will be arriving hastily. At that moment a loud knock can be heard at the door. Lady Delecour rushes to answer it. Mrs. Pennykettlle panics and rushes at the door in a fright, but at that moment Officer Daniels steps in and grabs her by the arms.

Officer Daniels: Is this the second spy, Lady Delecour?

Mrs. Pennykettle: Oh Madame! How could you believe I would spy on you? I’ve been faithful for well over twenty years! This is ridiculous! Please, Madame!

Lady Delecour: Be quiet woman! You and Mr. Potts have been out to steal my fortune for quite some time, I know it! I called upon you earlier, Pennykettle, and you never showed! And then you walk in through the front door so nonchalantly! What do you have to say for yourself?

Mrs. Pennykettle: Please, I—

Officer Daniels: As the gracious Lady already requested, keep quiet woman! If you confess to your crimes now, you may be spared a few years from prison. What say you? Do you confess? Yes or no?

Mrs. Pennykettle: I have never harmed or held intentions to bring harm upon my mistress! Surely, she must see reason! With a last, pleading glance toward Lady Delecour, Mrs. Pennykettle falls to the ground in a sobbing mess. 

Officer Daniels, shaking his head sadly, leads the poor woman out the door by the arm, officially arresting her. Lady Delecour smiles earnestly, for sure that her troubles have ended. She progresses to her bedchamber once again, completely at peace with her insanity. After dousing the lights, she falls into a deep reverie. End of Scene Two. 

Scene Three

Narrator: Scene Three of The Mystery at Delecour Manor. Lady Delecour is deeply asleep, and her snores pervade the entire bedchamber. Oblivious to her surroundings, the Lady fails to react when the lights begin once again.

Suddenly, in addition to the flickering lights, a loud cacophony of what can only be described as gibberish radiates directly from outside the window. The obtrusive noise awakes the Lady with a start.

Lady Delecour: Eyes opening with a snap, the Lady sits up in bed once again. Her gaze is riveted to the window where the light show continues with increasing intensity. She fights the urge to cover her ears as the uncanny sounds persist. No! Not again! What is this madness! I demand you to leave this estate at once, or the the law enforcement will be summoned! Depart! Be banished! Cease that unearthly racket!

The deranged woman rises from bed, loosing the clip in her hair and hurling it at the window with the might of a lioness long past her prime. Lady Delecour slides from the bed and stumbles to the door, just as the lights and strange gibberish cease. She stares around in bewilderment until a bump is heard in the hall outside. She steps back and her lined face twists into a grimace. 

Lady Delecour: Intruder! Leave my estate! I have phoned the station, and you will be arrested shortly. Vacate the premises at once!

Immediately the door to the bedchamber swings open, knocking the elderly woman aside and onto the floor. A wooden box labeled ‘antique false teeth’ slowly slides across the floor and onto the scene. Lady Delecour rises, staring at the box in shock. 

Lady Delecour: What is this? My false teeth collection! She leaps forward with vigor, bending down to unwisely grab the wooden box. As she nears, it jumps back toward the door by several feet, frightening the old woman. Oh! It moves! And she follows the box as it leads her out of the room and down the hall toward the parlor. 

The front door swings open as the Lady enters the parlor, and the box of antique false teeth exit the manor. Lady Delecour screeches in desperation, and leaps for the door. At that moment a great, thundering boom shakes the entire room. The Lady is flung to the floor with a vengeance as a first, and then a second, flying machine enter Delecour Manor. They skid to a stop in front of the dazed woman with lights flashing and blinking familiarly. 

Lady Delecour: Bloody— She is interrupted as the awful cacophony starts up again. Her hands go to her ears as the wailing intensifies. 

All at once, the two spacecraft settle and the lights cease to flash. Behind the tinted windows, Lady Delecour can easily discern a pair of humanoid figures. The incessant wailing seems to be emanating from these creatures and could very well be a form of communication. Huddling on the floor, the Lady forbids herself to bite her own tongue. Lashing out with harsh words, she is prepared to defend herself and her home at all costs.

Lady Delecour: Get away, you vile extraterrestrials! You may be real after all, but I will rue the day I allow any being to manhandle me. Step back at once and prepare to vacate the premises! Her voice quivers on the last note, and the aliens notice this with glee. The old crone is more frightened than she lets on. The gibberish continues as the pair discuss what to do with their pray.  

Lady Delecour is attached to the spacecraft via a good old fashioned rope and hook. As the aliens finally egress Delecour Manor, the wild wailing of Lady Delecour can be heard across the entire countryside, inspiring many fables and ghost tales. End of Scene Three. 

Narrator: And so the time of the aristocrat, Lady Delecour has come to pass. Nobody ever knew what happened to the poor wretch. Some say she was kidnapped and killed by the families of those she unjustly condemned. Some believe she was abducted by aliens. But aliens aren’t real….. Right?

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