Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Minute Mystery With Lieutenant Fordney
As he questioned old Peacock, the butler, Lieutenant Fordney closely examined the foyer floor.
"These are the shoes your employer last wore?"
"Yes sir, he always removes them and places them side by side as he enters the house."
"And these gloves, lying two feet in front of them, they are also his?"
"Indeed, master generally crawls in and doffs them with a single masterly shrug."
"I see, and what caused you to fear something untoward had occurred?"
"Well sir," said Peacock,"as I opened the west windows that morning, I heard something in the garden next door."
"Indeed, a great many of them!"
There came a thudding knock at the door. Lieutenant Fordney opened it to find a portly politician panting upon the porch. "Good morning!" Bellowed the man,"I'm your candidate soliciting support on the Incendiary Anarchist Ticket. Please accept one of these very unsafe blazing oil-lanterns and remember me at the polls!"
"Thank you," said Lieutenant Fordney, "but just a moment. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Thud, head of the large family of Thuds next door?"
"You do indeed, though how the devil you deduced it, I confess myself baffled!"
"My methods are my own, but I shan't detain you further. I perceive a plethora of porches you've yet to pant upon."
"Hah! Easy for you to say!" Thud shouted over his shoulder whilst thudding off down the street.
"And now, Peacock, tell me. In a house this large there must be many dangerously deep uncovered pits in dark hallways."
"Oh yes sir, ever so many!"
"In which of them does your master keep his luggage?"
"Why, in the deepest, darkest, least covered and most dangerous one. But how...?
"Quickly Peacock! Not a moment to be lost, and bring the lantern!"
They came upon the missing man precisely where Fordney reckoned him to be.
"Poor Master!" cried Peacock.
"Your concern is admirable, Peacock, but somewhat belated. You have been remiss in your duties!"
[Dear readers, this is traditionally where Minute Mysteries asks: why did Lieutenant Fordney suspect the butler of inefficiency? For the answer, read on.]
"Peacock, the illustration of our discovery is from a back number of the Strand, dated May, 1893. Will you kindly read me the date over this blog post?"
"November, 2015, sir."
"Precisely, you were so preoccupied with local politics, eavesdropping on the Thud family next door, that you let 122 years slip by before consulting a criminologist, did you not?"
"Admittedly, I lost track of the time, sir, and concede it borders upon the inexcusable."
"There, there Peacock. Who's to say we could have helped had we only got here sooner? Incidentally, have you a ladder? I believe I hear your master asking for one."
"Oh, as do I! Thank you Lieutenant Fordney!"
" I'll see myself out. And Peacock, don't let it happen again!"