WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......
THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY
SUSPECT # ?
[Lost count ... haven't you?]
Zelda advanced haltingly towards the hearth, heart in her mouth, dreading what was soon to be revealed to her guilty conscience. Bending over the recumbent cooling corpse, she whispered "Oh Pshrynk, you've gone and got murdered again. Just when I began to think this was all a bad dream and I was about to wake up in my own bed in Paris."
"Qu'est ce qu'on est bien chez soi..."
Mindful of her responsibility, Zelda began to minutely examine the crime scene. Once again, Pshrynk's lifeless hand clutched a paperback book in its death spasm. Zelda had no doubt as to the title of the deadly volume. And, once again, Pshrynk was lying in a sticky pool of red fluid, that had soaked into the pages of the book. Bending over, Zelda noticed a large rounded dent in the left side of his head, just above his ear. What could have made such an impression? What level of rage fueled the fatal blow? What sort of fiend was responsible for this heinous happening?
As if capable of clairvoyance, Jeeves began to answer her unspoken questions.
"I believe you might be interested in this object? I located it in the fireplace just now, but I believe I have seen it earlier tonight and can identify its provenance."
Zelda looked up to see Jeeves wielding a large walking stick above her defenseless brow. Rock and filip cowered against the wall, fearing Jeeves might direct his murderous attack against them as well.
Zelda flung herself to safety, landing in the ashes in the now cold fireplace. Dusting herself off, she demanded "Jeeves! Get a hold of yourself man! Put that down ... now!"
She noticed that in her precipitate trajectory into the embers, she had inadvertently removed the paperback from Pshrynk's clutch and now held it in a trembling hand. Sure enough, it was stuck open at page 202 with most of the typeface obscured by the sticky red fluid surrounding Pshrynk's body. Zelda bent down and sniffed ... yes! ... it was red ink! During the fatal assault, a bottle of red ink had been knocked off the mantelpiece and had shattered on the hearth, soaking into both Pshrynk and his book. Holding the book closer to the last dying embers in the back of the fireplace Zelda haltingly thought she could read:
___ ___ ____er __ it?
___ p_______ ___ did ___.
__ ___ ___ __ them.
Her face nearly glued to the page, Zelda failed to notice the approaching Jeeves, who said "Take a look at this mum" as he thrust the walking stick into her hands. Unfortunately, the stick dislodged the book, which fell into the quiescent embers. The red ink proved extremely volatile, and the book burst into bright flames which rapidly became black flecks of soot gently wafting up the chimney.
"Hé voilà, ça va, ça vient..."
"Imbecile!" cried out filip, as he pulled Zelda from the flames, frantically beating out the small flames that had erupted along her ensemble.
"Beg pardon, mum" explained the apologetic manservant, "I was merely attempting to draw madame's attention to a possible clue in this murderous mishap."
Zelda breathlessly brushed aside filip's ministering mitts, and snapped: "Out with it man! Whose cudgel is this and how did it get here! Be snappy now, I've had a long night!"
"Well mum, I was employed earlier this evening in this very library, re-shelving errant volumes strewn about on the tables and chairs by erring members. You wouldn't believe how careless some people can be with these fine volumes. Why only yesterday I found .... *ouch* ... was that really necessary sir?" Jeeves inquired archly as he rubbed an aching ear.
"The little lady said be snappy, didn't she?" snarled Lobster, holding his bruised knuckles. "I was just tryin' to speed up your yarn."
"Damn, they said my skull was thick?"
The chastened Jeeves continued "I was standing in the rear corner re-shelving some Gaslight Mysteries when an altercation erupted by the hearth between Pshrynk and an older lady. They were both holding on to the same book, and seemed to be in disagreement as to whom the book belonged to. The storm was raging outside, making it nigh impossible to clearly follow their conversation, but I did hear the lady screech "No you don't," and then a little later "It's not gonna happen," followed later by "I'll make you sorry." I was only able to discern these fragments of a much more extensive interchange, which the lady was punctuating with flamboyant gestures utilizing this walking stick, or one very similar to it."
Jeeves paused to take a breath and discreetly dab a bead of blood from his injured auricular appendage, and complacently noted that all eyes were glued upon him in complete silence, awaiting the conclusion of his tawdry tale.
"I had just finished my shelving duties when I heard Colonel Alex ringing the bell for his nightly toddy. I was able to slide by the dueling duo without being noticed at all, so engrossed were they over the embattled volume. Just as I reached the door I heard a loud crash of breaking glass and turned to behold the old lady -- backlit by a brilliant bolt of blue lightning -- brandishing her staff aloft over the cowering Pshrynk's head. Then all was in darkness, and I left the library. Duty called."
A hush fell over the little group, as each in turn digested Jeeves' tale and cogitated as to the identity of the "older lady" feisty enough to engage in fisticuffs over a book.
"Hey, Jeeves, you found my stick! I've been looking everywhere for it."
All eyes whipped to the open door that no one had heard open on its noiseless hinges.
"Desertgrandma! What are you doing here!"
[Will AARP be called in to defend the rambunctious retiree?]
[Did Pshrynk fall afoul of the fabled big stick?]
[Is there any MR member who hasn't murdered Pshrynk ... yet?]