A Gift

Seymour de Winter met with Abel Caligard once more on the following morning.

                “I suppose I owe you an explanation of how this came to pass.  Your son confirms my version of events for the most part, and those which did not match I have since corrected.”

                Caligard still wore a look of shock upon his face.  It was the same expression he had been wearing for hours.  “Indeed,” he said shakily.  “Pray continue.”

                “Upon Tuesday last, when you mentioned the planned changes in your will, Frederick grew uneasy.  He realized that it would probably mean that he would be inheriting significantly less than he had expected, and he had incurred a fair amount of debt recently without your knowledge.  He knew that words could not sway your decision, and he could think of no other way to ensure his inheritance than to steal it.

                “Now, he could not be certain exactly where you stored your money, but he had encountered the locked oaken door in the cellar many times and rightly supposed that the money was behind it.  He had also noticed the keys about your neck, and connected them to the money as well, so that night, he took them from your bedpost.  But neither fitted the door.  So he had them copied and then returned them and the following morning, when Mr. Brighton came over, he hid the lawyer’s glasses and disguised his voice as yours so that he would not be recognized, and from him he drew the location of the key to the oaken door.  This he took and copied too.  He bided his time for several days, and then he opened the vault shortly after you had last been there, removed the money and the hummingbird pin, and with this he filled four boxes a quarter of the way, and covered the treasure with the contents of several sacks of potatoes which he found in the cellar, closed them, and then bid Mildred to bring them up to the kitchen to make room in the cellar.  She checked their contents, saw only potatoes, and left them on the floor of the kitchen for later use.  Frederick then returned, removed the stolen goods from the boxes and hid them beneath a nearby floorboard.  He had planned to leave them there until he needed them, but then he heard that you had hired a detective and grew fearful that I would suspect him.  So the night after I first came, he returned home and sorted all of the money into one box, during the course of which he was surprised by Mildred, slew her, hid her, and made as if she had run off with the money.  When I interviewed him that day, I led him to believe that he had gotten away with his deception, and I made certain that he overheard where the rest of what he believed to be his rightful inheritance was being kept.  He checked the kitchens one last time, saw that everything was as he had left it the previous night, then went to take the remaining money, which was now in the hands of Mr. Brighton, whom I had warned beforehand.  Knowing that his deed could not go unnoticed forever, he meant to vanish last night with all the money and start a new life overseas, but I apprehended him.”

                He presented Mr. Caligard with the recovered box of money.  Speechless, the old man opened it and cast his eyes upon its contents for a long moment.  Then he took something from it and thrust it into Seymour’s hand.  “Take this as a token of my gratitude.  I know it is a rather feminine object, but it is the most meaningful thing I have in my power to give you.”

                Seymour held the hummingbird cloak pin up to the light, where it shone and glistened.  Tiny sapphire eyes gazed back at him, and the emeralds and rubies in its wings seemed almost like real feathers.   He pinned it to his tunic with a grin.  “Thank you, sir.  I shall wear it as a badge of honor.”       

The End

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