By the time Goober Partridge had arrived, the servants were assembled in the library… although the chamber maid couldn’t be completely assembled due to a missing bolt. The body lay just where it had lain after the murder. Someone had covered the body with coasters, however.
“What are these?”, Partridge asked, picking up a coaster.
The head butler cleared his throat and then replied, “Coasters, sir. A necessary precaution because some of the staff were setting their drinks on him”
“I see” Partridge scanned the room, then back at the body, “Has he been moved?”
“Yes sir”, replied the head butler, “You see, we’d already buried the master when we got the message that you didn’t want him moved. So, we dug him up and put him back”
“Well… good work… I suppose”
There was a commotion at the door. The servants parted and in waddled a penguin with a note in its mouth. “I think i’s fryou, sah”, said an older man in gardener’s clothes.
“What the hell did he just say?”, asked Partridge.
“No one knows, sir”, answered the head butler.
“And, what is that… adorable penguin doing here?”
“I think he has a note for you, Detective Partridge” The head butler took the note from the bird. The penguin paused for a moment as if waiting for something, then it slowly wandered away. The upstairs maid ran ahead of it to open the door.
My Dearest Partridge, the note read, I’ll be at the scene a little late. I’m performing an autopsy on a bombing victim so I have to be driven from one body part to the next. Suggest you question the staff. D
“Ah”, announced Partridge, “That was from the medical examiner, Kossov Dith. He’ll be here shortly and we can examine the body properly. Until then, I’ll want to question each of you. Please find chairs”
The staff milled around moving chairs and sitting… except the gardener who didn’t seem to understand what was being asked. He watched his co-workers, got the gist of it and finally sat down, giving Goober Partridge a thumbs up. The great detective looked over the group: The head butler, the gardener, the upstairs maid, the cook, the partially-assembled chambermaid, the valet and the chauffeur. It was quite a staff for a one bedroom brownstone.
“Let’s start”, began Partridge, “with who found the body first”
Everyone’s hand went up at once. Partridge added, “Keeping in mind there is no cash prize for having been the one to find the body first”. All but one hand went down. The head butler said,
“That would be me, sir”
“Describe to me, in your own words, or the words of anyone but that damned gardener, what happened”
The head butler scratched the bald spot on top of his head, “Near as I can remember, sir, we’d finished reading Babar and I was bringing master his ghee and trumpets–”
“Tea and crumpets?”
“No sir. The master enjoyed eating Indian bread and playing smooth jazz while in the library. But, the door was locked, sir. I had to break it down”
“Maybe he’d fallen asleep. Why did you break the door down so readily?”
“It’s one of my duties, sir. I receive guests, coordinate the staff and break down doors”
“I see, go on”
“When the door gave way, I saw the master… wedged in the bookshelves there”
Partridge said, sympathetically, “That must been hard on you, seeing your employer dead like that”
“Oh no, sir. I hated the man. We all did”
“You had a reason to hate your employer? Tell me”
“He sold me a rabid puppy, sir. When I complained, he docked my pay what he thought would be the price of the foam around his mouth, which was extra, he said”
Partridge shook his head, “He was a bad man. Had you worked for him long?”
“Two years, sir”
“And, before that?”
“I worked for the son of an emir in the middle east”
Goober Partridge’s voice became sharper, “And, why did you leave that job?”
“It’s hard to say, sir”
“Well, I was responsible for maintaining the livestock of my old master and one fell ill”
“So, you left because…?”
“The sixth sheikh’s sheep got sick”
The great detective shook his head, “That IS hard to say”
“Yes sir, if you’ll excuse the expression, it is hell for job interviews”
Partridge turned his attention to a dour non-uniformed woman. “And, you, miss: Do you have a reason to hate Snakeford Cadd?”
“I spent nine months carrying his child. Finally, one day, I realized that the kid could walk the entire time. I felt used and cheated”
“What are your duties, Miss–?”
“Markedly… Heather Markedly. I am the upstairs maid”
“And, where do you work?”
“Mostly in the basement, although, if the master wanted a kite destroyed, he usually asked me to do it”
“You destroyed kites for Cadd? How interesting!”
Ms. Markedly shifted in her chair nervously, “The master hated kites ever since he kept two fighting kites in the same closet and they destroyed each other during the night”
“I think I’d rather talk to the gardener—”
But, that would have to wait because, at that very moment, the medical examiner, Kossov Dith walked into the room.
“Kossov!”, exclaimed the great detective, “How pleasant to see you! The rest of you may go… I’ll question you, later”