Eloise wasn’t stupid; in fact she was rather clever. She had a degree in Chemistry and had worked for a time at some industrial plant before getting married off and having three children. But now, for whatever reason, she wanted to step off the planet and be done with it all. But she desired to die a seemingly natural death. She didn’t want to foist the reputation of a graphic suicide upon her family.
Eloise would throw dinner parties and quite sophisticated ones too. For several years she practised with arsenic. Just a little arsenic could make it look like her guests had got food poisoning. Once she had perfected the technique she would make several of her guests ill from food poisoning, and administer the big dosage to herself. How tragic (but totally natural) would be her death.
The occasion came. The guests arrived.
There was Lord and Lady Milford. Lady Milford would get a mild bout of food poisoning from a trifling dose of arsenic in the Three Cheese Ravioli appetizer.
There was Hector Staffordshire and his partner Countess Ascrida Rognvaldsdatter. Hector would get a mild bout of food poisoning from a trifling dose of arsenic in the fresh homemade Caribbean Angel Hair Pasta in a rich creamy chardonnay sauce, topped with fresh calamari, shrimp, and capsicums.
The other dinner guests would get off scot free, apart from Eloise herself. She would get a terminal bout of food poisoning from the decadent slices of apple, caramelized with cinnamon and dark rum, served over arsenic-laced vanilla custard.
Everything almost went according to plan, although Lady Milford had a cheese allergy so Eloise served the arsenic to her husband. It didn’t matter who got food poisoning as long as it was someone.
Next the Countess Ascrida Rognvaldsdatter kept sharing little bits of poisoned calamari to Hector Staffordshire, as lovers do; giggling and shoving little titbits of this and that into each other’s mouth. It was most annoying, but both would pay for it in the end.
And then came the dessert-time. Eloise got muddled. She had dished up the dessert and couldn’t remember which one had her portion of arsenic-laced vanilla custard.
Lady Milford and the Countess swept into the kitchen to help, uplifted all the dessert plates at once and deposited a dish in front of each guest. One of them would die. But who? All began to eat.
And then Eloise remembered… Her three children were in the kitchen tucking into leftovers…
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