The Keystone of the Archway

Seymour de Winter crouched in the darkness behind a magnolia bush.  It was nearly midnight, but he was as alert as ever, his sword drawn and ready.  From his hiding place, he could see the conveniently ajar front window of Mr. Brighton’s house.  That had been prearranged.  All that he could do now was to wait.

                There was a young policeman sitting in the bushes beside him.  The detective was not fond of asking for aid from the police, but he had not wished to do this alone in case something went wrong.  The policeman did not act as if he wanted to be there.  He glared out into the night in grudging silence, without even a hand upon his weapon.  Seymour might as well not have bothered requesting company.

                They had been waiting for several hours by now, and Seymour’s back was sore from maintaining such an unnatural position for an extended period of time.  But he dared not move.  He dared not relax.  He hardly dared to breathe.  This was the most critical part of the entire operation, the keystone in the archway.  If this did not go exactly as planned, the entire case would fall apart in his hands.  He must not drop his guard.

                Clouds had come in earlier that night, and now it was beginning to rain.  He hardly noticed.

                And then…movement by the gate!  A shadowy figure slipped into the yard and stealthily approached the house.  The trespasser crept up to a window and, upon testing it, found it locked.  He proceeded onto two more windows before finding the open one and climbing in. When he was inside, he struck a candle.  Seymour tugged at the tunic of the policeman as the candlelight retreated deeper into the house, and the two of them trotted low across the lawn and concealed themselves on either side of the open window.

                It was nearly half an hour before the thief returned, bearing a small parcel, and dropped down from the window ledge.  With a glance this way and that, he made to dart off, but Seymour blocked his progress with the blade of his saber.

                “Well, well, well, Mr. Frederick Caligard.  What have you to say for yourself?”

The End

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