Alexandra wandered over to the black that was the fissure that separated the good of the guesthouse from the dark of the night and man’s heart that sat beyond. She pushed past the black veil concealing the bed, wondering why no-one had considered to pull it back earlier, if only to bring some light to the hidden souls. Rhaïd was going to be there, hidden from the outside world still.
Alexandra lifted her hands up into the smooth crease, where she had seen Christophe hide the cane in the late morning hour. The secret compartment was empty. Frowning, the girl wandered whether Christophe had moved it, and fingered any other possible folds, which also held nothing.
Peering round the dark cavern, the maid could spot no other place where the cane might have been positioned, so concluded that it definitely wasn’t there. All that remained to tell the tale was a silk curtain flapping in the breeze…
“Chris…” she slid out of the hiding place, and almost collided with the lovely butler waiting there.
“Christophe, the cane, it’s not there…”
His eyes grew wide with surprise and hints of worry.
And, inspecting the double bed and surrounding areas himself, he too could tell that it wasn’t there. Of course, neither was Rhaïd.
Alexandra had known it not long after he had not appeared when the excitement was over. A gentleman like that, she knew, would not go long with a drink or smoke.
“He had been there when I left-” began Christophe, before he was stoutly interrupted by the maid.
“You left several times.”
“When I left to give my presentation on ‘Fate’. But how…? We would have seen him leave, surely?”
“The bathroom has a large window, doesn’t it? It’s big enough for a small man to crawl through…” Alexandra pondered.
“And then he could have run off anywhere.” The butler sighed. It was a sigh of deep frustration.
“No, he couldn’t,” Alexandra replied. “There’s a police-car by the gate. Remember? It’s watching in case of any more trouble. It would have stopped him escaping. Especially with that cane, which is far too noticeable to hide, even under the most elaborate of cloaks.”
“In truth, Ally, I didn’t think to check on the cane once the mistress’ ridiculous game had began…”
Christophe marched across to Inspector Whitting in a way that only a butler could have done.
“Mr. Whitting did you see Mr. Rhaïd Mahalle leave this guest-building?”
“No, Sir, I would have noticed the dark-skinned chap if he had chosen to make an exit. Why? Is he not present?”
“He left when I had my back turned. Is it of great importance that I find him.”
“Of course,” the Inspector nodded. “May I ask why it is you need him?”
“It’s nothing, Sir. Nothing that we can not sort amongst ourselves.”
Well, yes, it was something bad, in Alexandra’s mind, something dreadful, hardly helpful to what they had planned to do.
Yes, he had stolen the sceptre and vanished.