A Favor

Once the corpse had been cut down from where it had been hanging by its ankles in the chimney and was laid out upon the floor, Seymour described the probable sequence of events that had led up to the tragedy.

                “Most likely, the unfortunate young woman was awakened during the night by a noise in the kitchens and came up from her quarters to investigate.  Here she happened upon the thief emptying one box of potatoes and then loading the vacant box full of the treasure, which he must have hidden somewhere in this room.  She bravely but stupidly came forward to stop him, and he stabbed her and threw her across one of the boxes such that her blood soaked in amongst the potatoes rather than staining the floor.  Then he dragged her body to the chimney and there hid her.  Seeing that this action had left distinct drag marks upon the ground, he endeavored to muddle his trail by sweeping the broom over it.”

                Caligard looked down upon Mildred’s dead body in sadness.  “I am sorry for ever suspecting her.  She proved to be a good and loyal servant.”

                “That she was.  Now I must finish conducting my interviews.  May I ask a favor of you?”

                “Yes?”

                “Do not tell your sons of this latest unfortunate development before tomorrow.  And we must, sadly, return the corpse to her former position in the fireplace until the morning.”

                “Why?”

                “You shall see later.  Will you do as I ask?”

                “I will, although I do not understand its importance.”

                “Thank you.”

                They replaced the body in the chimney and ascended the stairs to the parlor, where Caligard’s sons were waiting for them upon their father’s request.  The younger spoke as they entered the room.  “Is it really necessary that you interview us, seeing as it is clear who the real culprit is?”

                “Meaning Mildred?  Yes, it is still necessary.  If I am to find her, I must use all available clues, some of which you two may be able to provide.”

                This seemed to satisfy both men, the older of which, Frederick, appeared to be in his thirties and the younger, William, in his late twenties.  Seymour asked them several questions and then told them that they may go.  He had gotten a general feel for their character.  William seemed rude and dishonest, Frederick was polite and reserved. 

                As they left, he asked to speak to Caligard one last time.

                “Yesterday, you spoke of a sum of money that would be arriving today.  What did you settle upon doing with it?”

                “It has arrived, and I sent it into the care of my lawyer, Mr. Brighton.  He will be keeping it in his home.”

                Seymour heard a stirring in the corridor and smiled.  “Good choice.  It will be safe there.”

The End

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