Here's the next installment, which I just received from the butler Leafton in the mail today:
Feat. The Heirloom Cat
“Good evening beloved readers,” I began the next chapter of my volume.
“That’s no way to begin story!” interjected our dexterous neighbor Whipmote Willerton, who had, as usual, dropped in uninvited.
“Why-ever not?” I sighed, rubbing my eyes.
“Because!” he began, in a tone which suggested he was exasperated by my dullness. “One might just as soon read it in the morning or afternoon!”
“Well it’s evening now.”
“Or at night!”
“Yes, thank you for reading over my shoulder.”
“Or between times-of-day!”
I wasn’t about to try and conjure up a meaning for that last bit from our guest.
“Didn’t you come here to speak with Sir Angus?”
“Ooh, yes, wonderful idea. Where is the old blighter?”
“In the drawing room.”
“Ooh, what is he drawing?”
“Things beginning with the letter ‘m’.”
Willerton seemed to approve of this, and he nodded his small empty head vigorously as he waddled off to the drawing room. I sighed and returned to my writing.
It was a cold winter’s evening at 32 Numpting Place. Snow had begun to fall, giving the ground an appearance like a roll at the hands of a flour-happy baker. I had just served Sir Angus and the Cat their suppers when there came a knock at the door.
There were two people I knew of who would venture out to our abode in this weather: Wooley O’Lannery, the local constable, and Whipmote Willerton, our well-intentioned but rather annoying neighbor. I answered the door.
“Hellooooooo, dear butler of Sir Angus McDodd!”
It was Willerton, obviously.
“Might I enter and partake of your warm hospitality which is ever extended in my general direction?”
Not sure how to refuse such a plea, I let him in. I announced him to my master, but Willerton seemed to have wandered off. After searching around for him a while with no result, I assumed he’d departed on a whim (whimsical as he is) and returned to my writing.
“That’s no way to begin story!” interjected our dexterous and uncanny neighbor, who was now looking over my shoulder.
I sighed, rubbed my eyes, and after a brief discourse sent him into the drawing room. A little while later I arose to go and put out the cat, who had recently developed a strange habit of catching fire every evening at about eight o’ the clock. As I entered said drawing room it became apparent by the Cat’s wetted appearance that Sir Angus had taken a moment from their now heated discussion on the merits of tennis balls to extinguish the animal with water from the fishbowl.
No sooner had I sat down again at my desk than the doorbell rang for the second time that evening. It was, naturally, Constable Wooley O’Lannery whom I escorted into the now very oft-mentioned drawing room. Greetings were exchanged among involved parties, after which O’Lannery seated himself in a vacant armchair and began his tale of woe.
“I’all begahn,” he said, “weth tha disappearance o’ one Krillip Jones, ah nootable marine psycologist.”
“Ooh, yes, that is one who studies the behavior and mental processes of aquatic wildlife!” interrupted Willerton, ever eager to display the scattered bits of advanced learning he possessed.
“Booht thah’s nae a’!” cried the constable, “Ah greet noohmbar o’ people ‘ave been a’ disappearin’ a’over thah plaece!”
“Hm,” murmured Sir Angus, as his first sound in this episode. He steepled his fingers in an astute manner.
“Ooh, this is most exciting!” blurted Willerton, leaning forward from his seat on the sofa.
“Tha’ uncanneh theng abooh’ ih’ es, sahr,” O’Lannery continued, “es tha’ noone o’ thah vehctems wair soohfren’ fra’ rhroomatism!”
Sir Angus sat a while, puffing on his pipe in uffish thought.
“Did you find any clues of note at the scene?” he queried.
“Naow thah yoo maintion ih’,” the constable hesitated, “thar were a good maneh cane mairks ahn tha praimises.”
“Then we may presume that the perpetrator of the crimes is a Rheumatic.”
Constable O’Lannery shook his head in wonder.
“We may also presume,” continued Sir Angus, “that the Cat has taken the case.”
The rest of us let out a collective gasp as observed that the front door was wide open and the cat nowhere to be seen. I, of course, hastily shut the door then returned to my seat.
“The game is afoot,” my master addressed me, “and a pained one at that.”
“But where are we going, sir? How could you have deduced the identity of the culprit already?”
“Kindergarten, my dear Leafton. He is obviously a man of about sixty-three, who is arthritic and uses a cane when he walks. I have also deduced that he collects carriage wheels and takes good care of his teeth.”
“Really, sir, you never cease to amaze me.”
“Let us away then!” shrieked Willerton as he sprang from the couch.
“Oh dear,” sighed I.
“Ah, faithful Whipmote. Would that I had a hundred men so faithful as you,” quoth Sir Angus with language rare, “for this, our mission shall be fraught with peril and much danger.”
Willerton swallowed hard, but my master went on.
“We shall likely be in need of such stout fists and stouter hearts before the end!”
“End?” squeaked our guest.
“Of this story.”
“Ooh. Alright. When do we go?”
“Now!” cried Sir Angus and charged out of the room. I followed with his hat, scarf, and coat, as I dipped my pen in the inkwell.
* * * *
We came to the next morning in a cold, damp cellar, the walls of which were stone inlaid with sundry carriage wheels. It soon became apparent that we were each bound hand and foot to a wooden chair.
“I told you to mind the man with the cricket bat,” remarked Sir Angus to Willerton.
“Well I didn’t believe him when he said he wasn’t afraid to use it.”
“Let that be a lesson to you, then.”
My fellow captives’ rapport was cut short by the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Soon, a dark figure became evident. As he entered the dim light, so did his black robes, cane, shaved head and dramatic handlebar mustache.
“I was right, you see,” said Sir Angus triumphantly in my direction.
“Ah, but what about the teeth, sir?” I replied.
“Would you mind smiling, my good mustachioed fellow?”
“Uh, uh, well, I guess not. Just this once,” spake the man from the staircase. He grinned wide, exposing a marvelous set of perfect white teeth.
“Thank you, that will be all.”
The man cleared his throat and tried to look menacing, but was clearly thrown off balance by my masters dazzling intellect and impeccable composure.
“SO,” he began in a loud voice, “WHO DARES ENTER MY DOMAIN?”
“If you think back a few hours, you will recall that it is you who have imprisoned us here,” said Sir Angus.
He fidgeted with his cane and looked down at his feet.
“I think you’d better tell us why you’ve brought us here,” ventured my master.
“We are Rheumatists,” he began, gaining confidence as he continued, “and thus we are going to convert you.”
“But I thought Rheumatism was a disease?” piped Willerton, who looked rather diseased himself, probably because he was tied in his chair so tightly.
“NO!” cried our captor, “We are the followers of the prophet Rheuman!”
“Never heard of him,” said Sir Angus in reply.
“You mean you’ve never heard of the method of finding peace through chronic joint pain?”
“I can’t say it sounds very appealing.”
“So say many infidels. Therefore we have taken it upon ourselves to thrust peace upon the populace by forced Rheuminating.”
“And that is...?”
“What you’re doing now,” spake the man, with an evil cackle.
Sir Angus had been staring at him rather intently.
“I say, aren’t you Sir Stanley Dench, proprietor of Dench’s Home for the Flexibility Challenged?”
“I was once. What do you thi--I mean, NOW I am the Great Rheumi!”
“Do not mock my rheumatic pow--ack!”
Sir Stanley had been flailing his arms about wildly but now seemed to have injured himself.
It was then I noticed that our bonds had been loosed during this interchange, and I thought, for a moment, that I saw the glint of two green eyes in the shadows. But before I could act...
“Desist, fiend!” a voice cried from the doorway.
“Why, Krillip Jones!” spouted Sir Angus, his voice tinged with surprise for once.
“The one who studies the behavior and mental processes of aquatic wildlife!” added Willerton, his voice tinged with the obvious once again.
“Have at you!” shouted the marine psychologist, swordfish in hand, waving on the other freed captives who now crouched in the doorway behind him.
We watched the ensuing combat-of-arms in a politely interested manner. The Great Rheumi and his stiff-necked henchmen were soon overpowered by their one time prisoners. During the course of the battle, Jones picked up the Rheumi bodily and threw him ‘gainst one of the stone walls. This proved an imprudent move as the shock jarred loose many of the carefully hung carriage wheels, which then proceeded to run down many of the combatants willy-nilly. Recognizing the danger and feeling that our work here was done, we discreetly excused ourselves from the premises.
No sooner had we set foot out the front door then what to my wondering eyes should appear, but there, sitting on the snow-powdered lawn...
I soon recovered from this new incarnation of an old wonder, wrote out the moral thus:
And shut my book.
"Life is what you make of it; so beautiful or so what." - Paul Simon