The old butler had a head start into the corridor, but he was shuffling at such an antiquated pace I easily overtook him.
I glanced back at the mad woman approaching from the living room, knife flashing in time to each stride. “Where?” I yelled, manically.
“The kitchen, sir,” he replied, pointing a gnarled digit to the door opposite.
I rushed inside and waited for him to catch up, which he did just as the crazy lady exited the lounge room. “My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner,” she cried, stabbing the knife into the outside of the door as it slammed shut.
The butler and I had our backs to the door. We could hear the mistress of the house wantonly assaulting the woodwork. The kitchen was spacious, with old fashioned appliances, a solid oak island and a large open pantry off to the right. No other exits. “Suggestions?” I said.
“If you hold the door, sir, I will do some investigation.” As he removed his considerable weight to toddle off to the pantry, the mad woman got some purchase and started pushing harder. The narrow gap between door and frame was a combat zone in miniature.
“Why did you invite me in if you knew she had such an issue with vacuums?” I yelled after him. “My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner!” came a muffled reminder from beyond the door.
The butler’s wizened head poked out of the pantry. “I’m so sorry, sir. My memory’s not what it used to be.”
I rolled my eyes and put my shoulder into the door, reducing some of her progress. The butler stuck his head out again. “I have found a solution to our quandary, sir. There is a secret door in the pantry.”
I looked at him, dumbfounded. “A secret door? What is this place, a gothic castle? Who has secret doors in their pantries?”
“I believe it was left over from the days of the Civil War, sir.”
“So how do I get to this secret door?”
“You’ll have to run.”
“But she’ll get in!”
“I hope you’re a fast runner, then.”
To be continued…