Gosick I – 5.2

[2]

In a room in the police station, Julie Guile sat before Inspector de Blois, Victorique, and Kazuya. The inspector’s two deputies were shut outside for some reason, and they stood in front of the door, holding hands.

This station was not under Inspector de Blois’ jurisdiction, but once he had received word from Victorique, he commandeered the station as if it were under his own control, making use of the influence he wielded thanks to his privileged background.

The room was darkened, and uncomfortably large. A long, bare table had been placed in the middle of the room, under lighting that consisted of a single naked light bulb strung from the ceiling. The plain wooden chairs that each person occupied made an unpleasant squeaking sound with even the slightest movement.

Julie sat in her chair, a look of bewilderment on her face. She turned to Victorique and asked, “How did you know I was behind everything?”

With almost simultaneous movements, Victorique and the inspector withdrew a pipe from each of their bags and put it in their mouths. After they lit the fire and inhaled, Victorique blew a mouthful of smoke at Julie, and the inspector did the same to Victorique, each while staring at the other person.

“…A wellspring of wisdom,” Victorique replied coolly. Once she realized that Julie, the inspector, and Kazuya were watching her closely, she impatiently ran a hand through her long blond hair, and added, “So you want an explanation. First of all, you lied at the beginning.”

“…I lied? Me?” Julie blinked in surprise.

Victorique nodded, and looked up at her. “When you introduced yourself. Julie Guile, the daughter of a rich man, ‘raised in the lap of luxury in a huge mansion’.”

Kazuya asked curiously, “How did you know she was lying?”

“Do you remember, Kujou? Whenever this woman is deep in thought, she has this habit.” Victorique stood up and started walking, while at the same time pretending to be fingering a pendant on her chest. She took five steps, then turned and took another five steps, then turned again. After going back and forth several times, she looked up. “…See?”

“See … what exactly?”

When she realized the other three were looking back at her with blank expressions, Victorique said irritably, “Think about it for a minute. Is this the behavior of someone who was raised in the lap of luxury in a huge mansion?”

“What do you mean?”

“This is the habit of someone who spent a long time in an enclosed space—a space where you would bump into the wall after five paces.”

“…As in, she had a small bedroom?”

“That may be the case, but I’m thinking of a much narrower kind of space.” Victorique returned to her seat, then spoke in her low, husky voice. “For example, solitary confinement in a prison, or a hospital room. The attic of a mansion. People who aren’t allowed to go outside for a long time will tend to end up like that.”

For some reason, Inspector de Blois suddenly shifted his body uncomfortably and cleared his throat.

Victorique gave him a sidelong glance, and added quietly, “I am only speaking in generalities here, Gréville. There’s no hidden meaning in it.”

The inspector didn’t reply.

Victorique continued, “I’m grateful for being granted permission to go outside.”

“….”

Kazuya looked back and forth between Victorique and the inspector, puzzled by the peculiar atmosphere.

Victorique turned to Julie. “You misrepresented yourself. And there’s another important thing. You were carrying a weapon from the very beginning.”

Kazuya gave a start. “A weapon?”

“Yes. When Maurice found the gun and was about to shoot us, she took out her own pistol, and shot him dead instead. At the time, she said that she’d just happened to find the gun along the way, but that too was a lie.”

“How did you know?”

“The weight of her handbag.” Victorique pointed at Julie’s bag. “When we first met in the lounge, this bag was very heavy. Kujou, do you remember what a loud thump it made when it hit you on the head?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“She was already carrying the gun by then. That’s why her bag was so heavy. And after she used the gun and threw it away, she accidentally dropped that bag, and I picked it up.”

“Oh, I remember that….” Kazuya thought of how she had picked up the bag and thrown it at Julie. It seemed to be very light, and almost floated through the air….

“Although Ned Baxter tried to kill us, it doesn’t mean that he was the culprit. He was likely another one of the men involved in that incident ten years ago. He believed, the same as Maurice, that one of us was a former hare who had planned this scenario of revenge, and he was secretly frightened. So he decided to kill us before we killed him.”

The room fell dead silent.

At last, Julie nodded. “You’re right.” Her expression was oddly cheerful, as if to be caught and have her crimes revealed came as a relief to her. Speaking in an extremely matter-of-fact tone, she said, “I did it. I prepared the ship; I wrote the invitations. I planned to kill everyone and sink the ship. But I never expected that Roxane would die beforehand, and that you two would come on board in her stead, even though you have nothing to do with any of this. It threw me off guard. I couldn’t let you get killed, so I was feeling anxious the whole time.”

She smiled wanly. “As I observed you, it reminded me of the past. There was a Chinese boy named Yang. He was calm and kind, and I depended on him. But in the end, Ned Baxter killed him…. When I look at you, Kujou, I think of him.”

“Can you tell us the story of what happened ten years ago?” interrupted Inspector de Blois.

Julie nodded. “Very well.”

*****

And so, Julie Guile began her story.

One night, ten years ago, she was snatched off the streets and thrown onto a black carriage encircled with iron bars. She woke up on a ship—the real Queen Berry, along with all the other boys and girls. And then her nightmare began.

The other children died one by one, betrayed by Huey. She and her wounded friends made their way up to the deck.

And when they had arrived, what the surviving hares found was….

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