The Breakfast

Margaret“Oh, Dear,” Margaret exclaimed soon after she sat down at the table.

“What’s the matter?” Charles asked.

“I forgot that I had asked for this bowl of cereal. I don’t feel like having it anymore. I would much rather have these two slices of toast with the Apricot jam. Maybe I should just have Agnes take the cereal back to the kitchen.”

“No. Don’t do that. I can have it. It looks rather good.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

She got up from her seat and taking up the bowl, she took it to him. “I’d forgotten what a big appetite you have,” she remarked before she returned to her end of the table.

Minutes later, a terrifying scream rang out through the house and Caroline, Agnes and Reginald raced into the breakfast room to find a hysterical Margaret bending over Charles who was slumped over the table.  While Caroline and Agnes tended to her, Reginald examined Charles.  His face pale, he said to the women, “He’s dead.”

Margaret shook her head.  “No!” She cried and would have collapsed if she weren’t supported by Caroline and Agnes who helped her to a chair. “No.  That can’t be true. Charles can’t be dead.”

“I’ll call the police,” Reginald said.

“Yes.  Agnes, help me to take Mrs. Whitmore up to her room.”

“Yes, Miss Taylor.”

They took the distraught Margaret upstairs and while Caroline helped her into the bed, Agnes went to fetch her something to help her with the shock.  Caroline drew the chair over to the bed and sat down.  She needed to know what happened but she wasn’t sure that Margaret was in any condition to tell her.  She would stay with her until she was.  She too was in a state of shock.  One minute Charles was alive and well and the next, he was dead.  Tears began to roll down her cheeks.  She quickly brushed them away.  She would grieve later in the privacy of her own room.

For now, she had to find out what happened before the police got there.  Agnes brought a glass of water which she gave to her.  After she left, Caroline encouraged Margaret to drink it.  She did and the color came back to her cheeks.  “Tell me what happened, Margaret.”

Margaret buried her face in the pillow.  “I don’t want to talk about it,” she cried.  “It’s too horrible.”

“Please.  The police will be here and they will need answers.  Why don’t you tell me what happened and I can talk to them if you don’t feel up to it.”

“We were in the breakfast room.  He had finished eating his breakfast.  I had a bowl of cereal but I didn’t want it.  I wanted to have toast with Apricot jam instead.  Charles offered to have the cereal so I gave it to him.  He took a mouthful or two and said something about bitter bananas.”

“Bitter bananas?”

“There were bananas in the cereal.  I think he was saying that they were bitter.  I got up and was going to taste the cereal to see if it tasted bitter like he said and that’s when—when he-he began gasping for air and—and then, he keeled over.  Oh, it was horrible—horrible.”  She covered her face with her hands and began to sob.

Caroline rang for Agnes.  “Agnes, call Dr. Andrews.  Maybe he can give her a sedative or something.”

“Yes, Miss Taylor.”

“Make sure nothing is disturbed.  Leave the cereal and everything else as they are until the police come.”

“Yes, Miss Taylor.”

“And when they come, please show them into the drawing-room.  I will be down to talk to them.  Mrs. Whitmore is no condition to see them.  And when the doctor gets here, send him right up.”

“Yes, Miss Taylor.”

“Thank you, Agnes.”

“Will you be calling Mister Robert and Mister Clive, Miss Taylor?”

“Oh, dear.  They will have to be notified.  Could you have Reginald call them for me?  I will be busy with the police.”

“Yes, Miss Taylor.” She glanced at Margaret before she quickly left the room.

Caroline closed her eyes as the enormity of what had happened hit her.  Charles was dead.  What had been the cause of his death?  Was it the cereal?  Why made the bananas bitter?  Were they really bitter or was it something else that he tasted?  But what could that be?

The doctor arrived shortly before the police did and she left Margaret in his care.

Posted for August 2020 Writing Prompts – #5 – Bitter bananas

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