19 June 2009
Wherein Likely and Botter Actually Start Investigating
I ENSCONCED myself back in the Fircombe’s study, where I planned to interview each and every guest in the hope of finally uncovering the cad responsible for the theft of the Duchess’ pearl necklace, and thus hopefully allowing the party to re-start. I hadn’t had a ruddy drink for hours, for pity’s sake. It was a ruddy disgrace.
Just as I was rearranging the desk in the study, the door swung open and in came Peeves, the Fircombe’s rather surly butler.
“I have retrieved your man-servant, sir,” he droned. “He was making rather a fuss, I must say. Clawing at the door of his kennel like a wild animal, he was!”
“Excellent. Well, send him in, man. Send him in!”
Peeves nodded stiffly and beckoned Botter in.
“Oh, my lord!” Botter gasped, rushing to my side. “It was hell in there! All of us servants cramped together in that tiny space – oh! It was like being a caged dog, milord – and I am no dog!”
“Of course not. Would you like a biscuit?” I asked.
“Oooh! Yes! please! Yes please!” Botter cried, jumping up and down with excitement. I threw him a biscuit, which he rather deftly caught in his mouth, before he sat himself under the window, chewing away quite contentedly.
“Right. Now, Peeves, if you could summon Major Thrashing for me, that would be absolutely spiffing,” I said.
“Certainly, sir,” Peeves sighed. “Heaven forfend you use your own legs at any point, eh? No, we wouldn’t want you getting wear and tear on your precious aristocratic limbs….good heavens, no…”
I watched the grumbling butler disappear out of the study, then turned to Botter.
“He’s a jolly fellow, isn’t he? Don’t you start getting ideas like that, Botter!”
Botter looked up from his biscuit, and nodded in agreement.
“Good boy,” I said, and threw him another biscuit. I then turned my attention to the notes I had prepared for the Major’s interview. He seemed to be a good man; thirty-two years of loyal service to the Empire, flawless military record, now happily retired in the country…nothing out of the ordinary that might suggest he was a jewel-thief. Indeed, the only negative thing that one might say about the Major was that he was a terrible racist – which is to say he was, in fact, an excellent racist. He was very good at being racist indeed.
A loud cough roused me from my reading, and looking up I saw the Major standing in the doorway.
“Ah, Major! A pleasure! Please, take a seat,” I grinned. “I shan’t take up much of your time, I just wish to ask you a few questions about the night’s events.”
“Certainly, certainly,” the Major said, sitting on the chair opposite me. “Fire away, as I used to say to my troops back in India!”
“Yes, quite. Now, Major, where were you on the night of tonight? Specifically, where were you when the Duchess’ necklace went missing?”
“Why, I was standing right next to the Duke, sah! Marvellous chap, the Duke. We were talking about our travels – turns out we had both spent quite a large amount of time in Africa, don’t you know? Beautiful country, Likely. Really beautiful. It is just a shame it is overrun with blasted ni -”
“Ahem!” I coughed quickly.
“What?” exclaimed the Major. “I was only going to say ‘nincompoops’. There really are a fair few dashed idiots out there, you know – especially in government!”
“Oh, right. Well, good.”
“Plus, of course, there are darkies everywhere!”
“Ahem! Ahem! AHEM!” I coughed. “Moving on, Major – did you see anything untoward over the course of the night? Anything that might arouse suspicion?”
“Well,” the Major whispered, leaning in conspiritationally. “That woman. Eels…you know, the eels woman…”
“Ms. Jennifer Eels?” I said, recollecting the rather delightful heiress of a vast eel business, with whom I had enjoyed a rather personal encounter only hours previously.
“Yes! That’s the one. Well, I found out something rather shocking about her tonight…” he leant in closer still, his face so close to mine that I could practically count every hair in his enormous white moustache, if I so desired. “Ms. Eels…is Jewish.”
I paused at this rather anticlimatic revelation. “I am sorry, Major, I don’t quite follow…”
“Jewish, Likely! She’s Jewish! Egads, man! You cannot trust a Jew! They’ll steal anything, don’t you know! Money, gold, jewels, babies…you name it, and they’ll have their filthy claws around it, mark my words!”
“Yes, well, thank you Major,” I sighed. “I will…keep that in mind.”
“Well, make sure you do, Likely – and do not delay in apprehending her! Why, any moment now, she might spread her twisted Jew wings and fly away!”
“Of course. Thank you, Major,” I said, as I motioned to Peeves to show the Major the door, lest he depress me any further. The Major duly left, mumbling his intolerant blitherings as he went.
“Thank Jupiter he’s gone,” I said. “Right, Peeves, send in Mr. Pine next, would you? Oh, and could you get me a glass of whisky, please? There’s a good chap!”
“A glass of whisky, sir?” Peeves whined. “You mean, a glass of whisky from that drinks cabinet? The one just over there, situated only three feet away from your desk?”
“Yes, Peeves. If you would be so kind.”
Peeves grumbled under his breath as he went to fix me a drink, while I pulled up the notes on Winsome Pine, which largely amounted to the words ‘whiny bastard’ over and over again.
Hmmm. This investigation lark was going to be harder than I had thought.
- Lord Likely.