Seymour de Winter set the morning newspaper down on the table and went to answer the door.

"Good morning, Miss...?"

"Lark, sir.  Abigail Lark."

"Much obliged, Miss Lark.  Do come in, although pardon the mess.  We have a bit of a...cat problem at the moment."

As if on cue, Lysander yowled from behind the stove and shot across the room to crouch, tail swishing madly, beneath the sofa.

"Cedric," Seymour requested.  "Will you kindly take the Menace and shut it in somewhere where it can't interrupt?"

Cedric crept in from behind the creature and dragged it, hissing and spitting out into the open.  It nearly slipped away, but he managed to gather it up and carry it away, gaining several fresh wounds for his troubles.  He took it into Seoc's room and dropped it on the still-sleeping man before scampering out and quickly shutting the door before it could follow.

By the time he had returned to the main room, Miss Lark was seated upon the recently-shredded couch and Seymour had pulled up a wooden chair.  They were discussing something in hushed voices, but the woman stopped abruptly when she saw that Cedric had joined them.

"It's quite alright, Miss Lark," Seymour assured her.  "Cedric is my apprentice, and anything you can say in my presence, you can in his as well.

She still looked a bit uncertain.  "Shall I start over from the beginning again, then?"

"If it isn't too much trouble."

"Very well.  As I was saying before, I live with my brother, Alfred, just on the other side of the Murkintir, and I often take evening walks along the riverside.  I generally do not speak to the neighbors or to anyone I happen to meet, for fear that I might unintentionally let something slip that would endanger Alfred, who works in a rather, well, secretive profession.  Thus, I was very surprised, last night while taking my customary stroll, to hear a man call out my name and inquire after the health of my brother.  However, I was distracted at the time, so I did not think much of it.  I thought perhaps the man, though I did not recall his face, could have been an old friend of Alfred and had recognized me from years ago.  I returned home, found everything as normal, and went to bed, although not before I mentioned the incident to Alfred.  He did not seem to be bothered by it, either.  But when I awoke this morning, my brother was no where to be found.  He had left no note, and one of the doors to the house appears to have been forced."  She paused, shuddering.  "Please help me, Mr. de Winter.  I am greatly concerned for him."

"Of course," replied Seymour, managing to fit his gleeful grin into the guise of a kind smile.  "Allow me a few moments to ready myself, then I shall accompany you to your residence to commence my investigation."

The End

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