In vino veritas

Bob and Helen Tomlinson and I had been friends for twenty years but this was the first time I had been invited to their country estate.

The butler took me to the library where Bob greeted me. He then said, "You won't believe this but Helen is going to poison me!

"That's ridiculous. She loves you dearly."

"Not any more, she hates me."

At that moment, Helen entered the room.

"We're so pleased you've come down to stay with us."

"Thanks for asking me. It will be great to talk over old times."

"Get a bottle of wine, Bob, the best, the Chateau Margaux."

Once he had gone, Helen's smile disappeared.

"I have something terrible to tell you. Bob wants to poison me!"

"That's ridiculous, he loves you."

"He doesn't, he hates me."

Just then, Bob returned carrying the claret.

"This is the best wine you'll ever taste," he said.

"I've heard about it but never tried it."

Somehow, I hid my feelings and trepidation. I couldn't believe what they'd said, yet couldn't ignore it. I asked myself some questions. Why had I been invited? To prevent a murder, or had I fallen into a trap? Was I being set up?

"Bring the bottle into the dining room, darling," said Helen.

The table was set for three and Bob filled our glasses with the claret.

"We recall you liked smorgasbord, so that's what we are having," said Helen.

The butler and housemaid entered carrying food trays and placed them on the sideboard and then left the room.

Helen invited me to help myself, but I responded "No! No! You two, first."

The moment their backs were turned, I quickly swapped their wine glasses. I then filled my plate and returned to the table.

"I think a toast is in order," said Bob.

"A long life to us all," I said.

With that, we raised and clicked our glasses. My two friends drained theirs but I never put mine to my lips.

The next moment gave me the biggest shock of my life. Bob and Helen clutched their throats and then collapsed to the floor, dead.

Despite the shock, my mind was clear. I had anticipated that if there were to be a crime by either party they may have poisoned the other's wine glass. By swapping the glasses, the guilty party, if there were one, would be the victim of their own crime, and I would have saved the life of the intended victim. If there was no poisoned glass what I had done was harmless.

Each had been correct in believing the other intended murder. But what had the survivor, if there'd been one, intended for me? Nothing? Or was I to be blamed for the murder? I'll never know.

I had been their friend and had acted in the best interest of both, a point worthy of celebration. I put the bottle of Chateau Margaux to my lips and had the sheer pleasure of tasting that exquisite wine.

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