The door of the vault was made of thick iron and had two separate locks upon its exterior.  Seymour examined them carefully.  “Do you carry the keys upon your person?”

                “Yes.  Always have, on a chain about my neck.  The only time I remove them is at night, at which time they hang from my bedpost.”

                “There are not, to your knowledge, any duplicates?”

                “No, most certainly not.”

                “Then, as this door has not been forced and these locks have clearly not been tampered with, the matter at hand is this:  how did the thief or thieves obtain the keys?”  The Aechyed splayed his webbed fingers and brushed them up his forehead, pushing back his obsidian hair.  His face was set in concentration.  “Are you easily disturbed when asleep?”

                “Not particularly.”

                “Then is it conceivable that someone could have slipped into your bedchamber and taken them from your bedpost without your knowledge?”

                “Possibly.  Does that mean the thievery took place last night?”

                “That is likely.  That or the keys were taken another night, copied and replaced.  What of the key to the door that leads from the cellar to this room?”

                “That one I keep in my pocket by day and beneath a floorboard by night.  It has no duplicates, either.  No one knows of it, save for myself and—”

                “Your lawyer, Mr. Brighton, of course.”

                There was a slight sarcastic edge to the detective’s tone that Caligard did not miss.  “Well, he must know these things, or else how would he be able to distribute my money when I am gone? He is the most trustworthy of fellows, if only a bit forgetful, and bears me no ill will, so don’t you go taking off on any false leads and jumping to—!”

                “My good sir,” the Aechyed interrupted.  “I am not prone to ‘taking off’ after anything, most certainly not false leads, and I carefully form conclusions.  I do not jump to them.  So please calm yourself.  I was merely noting a pattern that could lead to a multitude of conjectures, Brighton’s intentional involvement being only one of these.  If you would kindly open the vault.”

                Grudgingly, the man obeyed, setting the candle in a nearby stand as he fumbled with the keys.  When he had unlocked the second bolt, the door swung slowly open, revealing an empty chamber the size of a small broom cupboard.  Seymour commandeered the candle and stepped cautiously into the vault.

The End

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