08 July 2009
The Butler Did It
“IT WAS…YOU!” I said, pointing into the room.
“Me, milord?” asked Botter, standing at the end of my finger.
“What? No, Botter! Get out of the ruddy way, you anus!”
“Sorry, milord. Sorry!” Botter babbled apologetically, as he swiftly side-stepped out of the way.
“Right. Let us try that again, shall we? It was…YOU!” I repeated, pointing once more. And this time my digit found the correct culprit – Peeves the butler.
“Me?” scoffed Peeves. “How utterly preposterous.”
“Preposterous? I think not, sir. It is completely postposterous. It is so far beyond posterousness that it leaves the posterous far, far behind.”
Peeves sniffed haughtily. “Oh, really? And where is your evidence, sir? What is my motive? You are grasping at straws, I am afraid, and making yourself look rather foolish.”
“You wish for a motive? I shall give you a motive. It is no secret that you despise the line of work in which you have found yourself employed, Mr. Peeves. Nary a moment goes by without you moaning or grumbling about your life of servitude, and your low wage. But then – ah-ha! The Duchess receives a priceless necklace, a necklace worth a considerable sum of money – easily enough money for a disgruntled servant to escape his job, and begin a new life elsewhere.” I paced across the room, stopping by Maud Dreadful and Dorothy Mount-Worthy’s side. The delectable Dorothy had stopped playing with the olive in her drink, and was now transfixed by the events unfolding before her big, beautiful eyes. I smiled at her, took the drink from her hand and took a sip. This summing up business was thirsty work.
“Of course,” I continued, returning the drink to Dorothy’s hand. “You could not just pinch the necklace as soon as it came into the house, for you would be instantly under suspicion before you could get away. So, you bade your time, until tonight. A party would prove the perfect cover under which to steal the necklace – especially when the party in question is attended by a renowned jewel thief. Who would suspect the humble butler when there is a criminal among their midst?”
“Former criminal,” Pilferton Swypes emphasised.
“Whatever,” I said, dismissively. “And so you waited until the right moment presented itself to you – the moment when the Duchess had that unfortunate incident with the olive. As the man constantly by her side, you were in a prime position to take advantage of the situation, and in among the confusion you swiped the necklace from around her neck, while pretending to be aiding her with the obstruction in her throat. And that, my dear Mr. Peeves, is how you done it.” I paused. “How you did it, rather.”
“That is a charming story, sir,” Peeves smiled. “But without any evidence it is just that – a story.”
I smiled. “Botter, my dear chap – would you mind awfully lifting the lid off of that serving dish beside Mr. Peeves?”
“Certainly, milord,” Botter obliged, strolling over to the table next to the increasingly worried-looking butler. Botter approached the dish, and then slowly lifted the domed lid aside.
The assembled guests gasped in unison.
There, on the serving tray, lying on a bed of rice, was the pearl necklace.
“The perfect hiding place,” I said triumphantly, helping myself to another sip of Dorothy’s drink. “No-one here would even consider serving themselves. Just the right spot to conceal your ill-gotten gains.”
“Peeves!” blurted the Duke of Fircombe. “What is the meaning of this outrage?”
“Oh, do shut up, sir” snarled Peeves, whipping out a pistol from his jacket pocket. “And you!” he growled, turning the gun on Botter. “Step away from that, you grimy little runt.”
Botter duly stepped back, as Peeves snatched up the necklace with a gloved hand, and stuffed it into his pocket. This done, he turned his attention back to me.
“Well done, your lordship. You figured it all out – bravo! But you are not going to stop me from completing my plan.”
“Fair enough,” I replied breezily. “But I do wonder if you might do me one final favour before you leave? Would you mind saying ‘ahhhh?”
Peeves looked puzzled. “Ahh-”
As soon as his mouth opened, I sprang into action, and as quick as a flash, I plucked the olive from Dorothy’s drink. Then, using my finest over-arm throw, I hurled it directly into the butler’s open gob. My aim proved to be straight and true, and the olive disappeared straight into Peeves’ mouth, lodging itself somewhere in his throat.
“-hhhhhhhggggghhhh!” Peeves choked, as his hands moved to his throat, desperately clawing at it for air. With him thus subdued, I sprang forward and charged at the bounder, knocking him back into a grandfather clock, which splintered apart with a sad chiming sound as we crashed into it. During the tussle, the olive became dislodged, and it gently bounced across the floor.
“Ha!” I beamed, dislodging myself from the broken clock’s innards. “I am afraid the only serving you shall be doing from now on is that of a prison sentence, in gaol!” I quipped, but to little avail, as Peeves had been knocked out in the struggle and was in no position to appreciate my incredibly witty wordplay.
“Bloody good work, Likely!” cried the Duke of Fircombe, striding over to me and shaking my hand furiously. “Tremendous! Absolutely tremendous! But tell me – how did you know Peeves was the culprit?”
“Well, that is really rather simple – the butler always does it, doesn’t he?” I grinned, slapping the Duke on the back, before striding over to where Dorothy and Maud were sitting. “Now, what say we get this shindig going again, hmm? I have uncovered one pearl necklace tonight, and feel rather like dishing out some more…”
– Lord Likely.
WELL DONE! Congratulations to those of you who voted for Peeves as the culprit in last week’s poll! You were absolutely bang-on, so are free to award yourselves one hundred detective points. HUZZAH!
THE PUZZLING PEARL NECKLACE PUZZLE was dedicated to Kerry and Sarah – thank you for putting up with me.
COMING SOON to The Astonishing Adventures of Lord Likely…
Be back here soon, you hear?