Chapter 21 (excerpt)
“Miss Caroline Bingley, according to the accounts by the eyewitnesses, you were seen attacking your sister Mrs. Herbert Hurst and then Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy at the guest chamber of Errington at around four in the afternoon today. What do you have to say about it?”
Miss Bingley started sobbing. “Pray forgive me. I did not intend to hurt my dear sister and dear Mrs. Darcy. It must be the herb tea. It made me do some crazy things.”
The magistrate motioned for Mrs. Thompson to dap dry Miss Bingley’s eyes, as the prisoner’s hands were still tied to the chair.
“What herb tea? Who prepared it for you?”
Darcy had a feeling what Miss Bingley would say.
“My sister, Louisa, prepared the tea, right before Mr. Darcy’s party had an accident outside Errington estate. My sister, her husband and I were having tea. Louisa poured it.”
“Mrs. Thompson, can you confirm that?” The magistrate asked.
“Yes, the temporary master and mistress and Miss Bingley were having tea at that time.”
Darcy noticed a tiny smile on Miss Bingley’s face when Magistrate Bates turned to talk to Mrs. Thompson. Almost immediately, the prisoner schooled her face to that of an innocent victim.
“And this special tea makes you do strange things?”
“It must be. I would not normally act that crazy. My sister has been consulting many apothecaries for some years. You see, she has been trying to be with child. I warn her that the latest one is most irregular. She acted very strangely in the past few months. Sometimes angry, sometimes sad, sometimes laughing, sometimes murmuring to herself. It must be the herb tea that she takes. Her husband and I asked her not to take it, but she refused.”
“If you are aware of such a danger, why did you take the tea?”
“I saw Louisa prepare it. I thought it was for herself. She must have switched her cup with mine. I would never have taken it willingly!”
Darcy’s lips tightened. This Miss Bingley’s performance was compelling. She was laying all the blame on her sister who was conveniently made unconscious by her.
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