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The Case of the Missing Eye: Part Three


by patt788

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As I strolled through the Neovian streets, thoughts whirled in my mind, and I struggled to organize and control them. I now had all the evidence of the case, but I did not yet know how they all fit. Was the butler lying about hearing the doorbell? Did those black-and-white feathers belong to the housekeeper's duster? Was she the figure seen flying away, or did the butler lie about that, too? Did they work together to steal the diamond? And of course Arlinna was still a suspect, kind and innocent as she seemed. All these led up to the ultimate question: who stole the Terask's Eye Diamond?

     I shook my head to clear it. If I was to solve this case, I had to arrange my thoughts.

     I had five suspects, with separate motives and opportunities.

     The first, Crusher. He had countless chances to steal the Eye, that's true. But unless he was an incredible actor, Crusher was just a simple-minded night guard. Could he really have pulled off a theft like this?

     The second, Fiona. She seemed nice enough, but greed can do strange things to people. She could have stolen the Terask's Eye some time while dusting, such as when Crusher was distracted by the butler. Maybe that was a prearranged plan. And of course, the feathers, possibly from her feather duster, were found from the gallery to the door. Could someone so apparently kind really be a cold-hearted thief?

     The third, Menkins. Butlers are often underpaid, and underappreciated. And while he might not have had many good opportunities to steal the diamond, he still could have distracted Crusher while Fiona did the deed. And he may have invented the story of the mysterious figure to establish an alibi. The doorbell, after all, could not have worked. Yet Menkins had been the family butler for so long, it didn't seem logical that he could have betrayed them. Maybe, though, he had been treated unkindly, ordered around by Lynerda's bossy father. I knew nothing of him, but it was possible. Had Menkins, blinded by greed and bitterness, taken the diamond?

     The fourth, Arlinna, my primary suspect. But maybe I was wrong about her. She did have good opportunity, and a motive even better than typical greed: jealousy. But if she was a thief, she was also a very good actress. I considered her explanation very honest. And Countess Lynerda had obviously believed her apology. And she would have had little time to grab the Terask's Eye Diamond while Crusher's back was turned. Could she have betrayed her best friend?

     And, last but not least, Countess Lynerda herself. Maybe her greed was bigger than her father's fortune, and she wanted to sell it as well as collect insurance for its theft, so as to receive twice its value. I did not think that there was any chance of that, but things are not always as they appear. Could Lynerda really be so terrible?

     And there was, of course, the clues I had discovered. The black-and-white feathers were the first. Had those simply fallen off a feather duster while the housekeeper, or even one of the maids, while they were dusting? And that small metal bell, where had it come from, and how did it fit in?

     When I at last reached the mansion, I was so caught up in my thoughts that I pressed the button for the doorbell.

     Ding-dong.

     To my surprise, the doorbell rang. A young maid let me inside, where Countess Lynerda met me and explained the fixed doorbell.

     "The repairman came by while you were gone," she told me. "It is nice to have it back. Now if only I had my diamond...."

     "That may be sooner than you think," I said, struck by a sudden thought. "Countess, I have an idea... have one of your maids wait here about five minutes, and then ring the bell." Lynerda called back the maid who had let me in and gave her my instructions. I continued, "Now take me to the butler's room!"

     Mystified but obedient, Countess Lynerda led me to Menkins's room. We arrived in little over four minutes, and I waited patiently outside the locked door.

     "Spottedleaf... what is the meaning of this?" Countess Lynerda asked, in complete confusion.

     "You don't see the connection?" I asked, amused by my client's cluelessness. Suddenly I added, "Hush, the bell!"

     Ting-a-ling-a, ting-a-ling-a.

     Not a the deep ding-dong of a doorbell, but the high-pitched tinkle of a small one.

     I grinned triumphantly, but my client just stared at me.

     "Spottedleaf, please, I can't stand it," Lynerda pleaded impatiently. "If you know something, please--"

     "No, please, let's make it a bit more dramatic. Just a little longer. Bring all the suspects together, in some fancy drawing room or something," I instructed, my grin growing. "And give me a nice big fire. That should be plenty--then I will clear up this mystery, once and for all."

 ? ? ?

     I stood--or sat, I suppose--in the middle of an elegant drawing room. A warm fire roared in the fireplace behind me. The suspects sat in chairs, forming a circle around me. And, to top it all off, rain lashed the tall windows, emphasized by the occasional clap of thunder.

     I couldn't have asked for a more dramatic revealing. Well, then again, I did ask for the drawing room, the fire, and the gathered suspects. But the storm added greatly to the effect.

     "Ladies and gentlemen," I began, "As you all know, a crime has recently been perpetrated here. The theft of the Terask's Eye Diamond. More specifically, some time between 12:30 and 5:48 this morning."

     Countess Lynerda fidgeted with a mixture of excitement, worry, and annoyance.

     "But what you don't know is who stole the diamond, when they did it, and why," I continued. "And that, of course, is why I am here. Very wisely, Countess Lynerda hired me to clear up this case, and so I have." I paused to savor the moment, the rising tension and excitement. The climactic declaration of "whodunit" has always been my favorite part of mystery stories, and I always liked to have my own cases end in the same way. "Here's what happened."

     Each of the suspects watched me expectantly. They were all anxious to hear the solution. It was as if they were reading a novel, and were anxious to see who the hero announced as the villain.

     I took a moment to observe the suspects. Lynerda's confused emotions were getting ever stronger; Crusher was staring at me with an amusingly vacant expression; Menkins was trying to hide his growing excitement behind an indifferent face and failing; Arlinna was smiling, curiosity sparking in her eyes; the maid alone seemed nervous, uneasy.

     "The plan was simple, really. The thief entered the gallery. While our guard here was distracted, the thief swiped the Terask's Eye, and then hid it on their person until they had a chance to calmly leave the room. In the process, they left behind an important clue: several black-and-white feathers," I explained. "They make their way to the front door, probably losing their way more than once. When at last they are getting close, they pass the butler's room, who at the same time hears the doorbell, and so he goes to the door to see who it is. When he arrives, the thief is flying away, a mere silhouette in the moonlight."

     Fiona was looking increasingly frightened; for every clue pointed to her. The guard was distracted in her presence, the black-and-white feathers, as her feather duster had, and the flying figure. A few more words, I knew, and my thief would be trapped in my net.

     "The identity of the thief, so far, is very vague," said I. "It could have been Fiona. Menkins might have invented the flying figure. Maybe Arlinna took the diamond while asking for directions. Countess Lynerda, even, could have returned to the gallery after she claimed to be going to bed, to steal her own diamond. But there was one clue that started leading me to the conclusion. The butler's claim to have heard the doorbell which, at the time, was broken, which suggested, of course, that he lied!"

     Everyone gasped, and all eyes turned on Menkins, whose own widened in surprise.

     "But then I thought, 'What if he wasn't lying? What if he did hear a bell?'" Everyone turned back to me. My voice was rising dramatically. This was it. The revealing. Now I would answer the question, "whodunit?" "What if the small bell I found lying on the gallery floor, accompanied by others, made a tinkling noise outside his room, which to his tired mind sounded like the doorbell? What if those bells were part of a necklace, belonging to the thief? The criminal? Our villain, the who, ladies and gentlemen: Arlinna!"

     Ka-kooom!

     Thunder rumbled outside, four people gasped, and one head hung in shame. My own eyes, I was told, shone with triumph.

     Arlinna regained her composure in a few moments. She lifted her head, eyes glinting defiantly. "You are right, Spottedleaf," she declared in a smooth, bold voice. "I stole the Terask's Eye Diamond! And I would do it again in an instant! The Countess doesn't deserve all that money! It is far too much for any one person, and if that's not bad enough, she did nothing to earn it! She only inherited it! Meanwhile, it is all some of us can do to survive!"

     I shook my head disapprovingly. "So you stole the Terask's Eye Diamond so you could sell it, and get a small fortune for yourself. So you could become the very thing you despised?"

     Arlinna cackled. "For myself? I planned only to take a small sum, enough for me to get by on. The rest I was going to donate to other poor Neovians like myself, who live in decrepit shacks, and eat nothing but stale bread and water!"

     "Good intentions don't excuse horrible deeds," I said.

     Countess Lynerda was shaking her head in shock. "No... how could you?... I had no idea you felt this way...."

     "Ha! You can't see beyond your piles of neopoints," Arlinna spat, glaring furiously at her old friend.

     "Crusher, restrain her," I instructed, unnerved by the look in Arlinna's eyes. The Grarrl held her by the wings, although she made no attempt to move. "Fiona, summon a Neopian Defender, please. Menkins, please help Countess Lynerda to her room. Rest will do her good. Meanwhile, I have a diamond to recover."

     And so it was that The Case of the Missing Eye was solved. Arlinna was taken into custody by the Neopian Defender, and I discovered the diamond stashed underneath a floorboard in her home. I returned it to Countess Lynerda, who auctioned it off immediately, along with several other items from her gallery. Inspired by Arlinna's misguided intentions, the Countess donated the money to Neopians in need.

     As for me, I told Lynerda to donate my fees to the cause as well. With her invitation to visit her soon, I returned home, where I was greeted by a case I hadn't yet solved: The Mystery of the Kougra's Paw.

? The ? End ?

 
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Other Episodes


» The Case of the Missing Eye: Part One
» The Case of the Missing Eye: Part Two



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