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Authors: Cora Harrison

Murder on Stage

BOOK: Murder on Stage
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Cora Harrison is the author of many successful books for children and adults, including the
series set in Ireland. She lives on a small
farm in the west of Ireland with her husband, her German Shepherd dog called Oscar and a very small white cat called Polly.

Find out more about Cora at:

To discover why Cora wrote the London Murder Mysteries, head online to:­londonmurdermysteries

The London Murder Mysteries

The Montgomery Murder

The Deadly Fire

Murder on Stage

Death of a Chimney Sweep (Coming Soon)

This book is dedicated to Cath Thompson, my dear friend and former colleague, who, over and above the call of duty, has read and commented on my dozens of books. I hope she
will enjoy this story about her beloved ‘Garden’.

First published in Great Britain in 2011
by Piccadilly Press Ltd,
5 Castle Road, London NW1 8PR

Text copyright © Cora Harrison, 2011

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise,without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

The right of Cora Harrison to be identified as Author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978 1 84812 111 9 (paperback)
eBook ISBN: 978 1 84812 182 9

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Printed in the UK by CPI Bookmarque, Croydon, CR0 4TD
Cover design by Patrick Knowles
Cover illustration by Chris King


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31


Only Alfie saw the hand. He stared in horror, opened his mouth, but then shut it again. With all the noise going on in the theatre, the whistles, shouts, screams, catcalls, no
one would hear him.

Alfie, his brother Sammy, their cousins Jack and Tom and their friend Sarah were standing right in front of the stage at Covent Garden Theatre. A man had given Alfie a sheaf of tickets, telling
him to bring his friends and make as much noise as possible when the signal was given, and promising him a shilling later. It was a great occasion for a riot. The Queen herself, the young Queen
Victoria, was present!

All was quiet until an actor came on stage to announce the next play – Alfie recognised him as Harry Booth. This was the sign for the rioting to begin. Someone shouted from the gallery, a
man leant over the balcony rail and yelled down to the pit. A woman from down there screamed back. Two men in the pit hurled oranges up towards the gallery, where Alfie saw them burst with a mess
of juice and pulp. ‘Old prices! Old prices! Old prices!’ they all bellowed.

Everyone had turned around to watch the rioters. No one was looking at the man on stage and his words were drowned by the din. Alfie looked up, laughed at the dummy of the theatre manager, with
a rope around his cloth neck, being lowered from the rails of the gallery. Then he looked back at the stage – and saw the hand.

The hand came slowly and cautiously out from the place where the two curtains joined, just behind where a small table with a glass stood. It grasped a glass phial in its fist. Alfie could see
the sleeve and the top of the phial gleaming in the white glow from the gas-fired limelights on the edge of the stage. He watched intently as the liquid from the phial was poured into the

Harry Booth finished his speech, bowed to an audience who had not heard a word he had said, and picked up the glass – a glass of port it looked like . . .

Instantly Alfie acted.

In a moment he had scaled the small wooden barrier between the orchestra and the audience and was pushing his way past the conductor, the violinists, the flute players and the drummers.

He knew where he was going.

During the long and boring opera that had gone before he had seen how to get on the stage from the pit. An actor, dressed as the devil, had slipped into the orchestra pit and then risen up as if
by magic right in the middle of the stage.

Where he had gone, Alfie could follow.

Yes, there was a trapdoor. The bright, white light from the stage outlined it. Alfie pushed and in a moment he had swung himself up.

It was too late!

Harry Booth was lying dead on the stage.

Instantly Alfie made up his mind. There was nothing he could do. He had not been in time to prevent the murder so now he must get off the stage.

Ever since the death of his parents, Alfie had lived on the edge of danger as well of starvation, and had learnt to bolt for home when trouble arose. He took one look at the audience –
still turned away from the stage – and one last look at the body.

Already a man had dashed out from behind the stage and was kneeling beside the body as Alfie hastily retreated back down through the trapdoor. He slid past the musicians who were still playing,
and slipped quietly back over the barrier.

Sarah and Jack, only a few months younger than himself, were both on the alert. Sarah was clever. Her eyes would have followed Alfie. Already she had moved forward, and so had Jack, his left
hand firmly clasping Sammy’s arm. Alfie jerked his head. Jack would guide the blind boy and young Tom would follow after. Moving quietly along, step by careful step, keeping in the shadow of
the stage above, Alfie led the way to the exit.

‘Let’s get out of here,’ he said when the others joined him. ‘There’s going to be trouble. The geezer is dead.’


Alfie, Sammy and their cousins had their home in a small, damp cellar in Bow Street, not far from Covent Garden market. When Alfie’s parents died, he took over the
responsibilities of finding the weekly rent and feeding the four of them. He had promised his dying mother that he would look after his blind brother and that meant that he had to keep a roof over
their heads.

The boys begged, stole, performed tricks and Sammy, who had a voice like an angel, could always earn some money from his singing. Sarah lived at a big house where she was a scullery maid but she
often visited the boys when she had finished work. That evening, Alfie, with a bundle of free tickets in his pocket, had grandly invited her to go to the theatre with them.

As soon as they started to go down the steps, they heard an excited bark and once Alfie had opened the door, a large and very hairy dog threw himself at them. Mutsy was no beauty. He was a big
dog, with masses of reddish brown fur, a fringe hanging over his eyes and enormous paws.

‘No sausages today, boy.’ Alfie patted the dog. He frowned slightly as they entered. There wasn’t much light in the cellar, but it was enough to show that there was nothing to

Tom made a disgusted sound. ‘Waste of time!’ he said. ‘Why did you rush away like that? You should have got some money from that fellow. What was the point of going there for
nothing? Just boring, it was!’

‘He promised us a shilling, but I wasn’t going to wait around. Not with Harry Booth dead on the stage,’ said Alfie briefly. He was annoyed with himself for not demanding money
first, but that was none of Tom’s business. Alfie was the gang leader and that was the way it was going to stay. He opened his mouth to say something angry, but then shut it firmly.
Eleven-year-old Tom was a nuisance, always complaining about something, but there was no sense in starting a fight.

BOOK: Murder on Stage
3.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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