Monday, December 11, 2006
Miss Pettipants Mystery 1
Miss Amelia Pettipants looked out her front window. There seemed to be some commotion in front of the Bed and Breakfast across the street. She picked up her cane and her purse and went to investigate.
Deputy Constable Fred was guarding the door. "Morning, Miss Pettipants," he greeted her. "Lovely 'at."
"Thank you. Is Constable Hardbottom inside?" She moved to enter the B & B, but Fred stepped in front of her. "Sorry, crime scene, Ms. P."
Miss Pettipants winced at being called "Ms. P."
"I've orders not to let anyone pass," Fred said authoritatively.
"Is that Amelia Pettipants?" Tom Hardbottom's voice boomed from the interior. "Let 'er by, Fred."
Amelia smiled sweetly at Fred as she elbowed past him.
"Morning, Tom," she said. "What's all the fuss?"
"The usual," he said. "Murder."
"Again? Sometimes I wonder that there's anyone left alive to kill."
"Victim was a guest 'ere. Supposedly 'ere for the flower show. He's in the dining room; come take a look." They went up two steps and through the doorway into the dining room. The victim was still seated, his face lying in a plate of rarebit. "Poisoned," Hardbottom said.
Miss Pettipants took in the scene. A half-filled cup of coffee, two emptied sugar packets, a paperback book . . . "How did he get into the dining room?" she asked.
"Why . . . I assume he walked," Hardbottom replied.
"Then would you explain why he's sitting in a wheelchair?"
Hardbottom looked at the chair as if it had just appeared from thin air. "You constantly amaze me, Miss Pettipants," he said.
"I believe if you'll roll up the man's left sleeve," Miss Pettipants declared, "you'll find a tattoo of a musk ox."
"You talk like you've solved the crime already," Hardbottom said, rolling up the victim's sleeve. His jaw dropped; the tattoo was there, just as Miss Pettipants had predicted.
"I have," she told him.
After a brief pause, Hardbottom, slightly irritated, in that peculiarly English way, by the playful gleam in Miss Pettipants’s eye, prompted her to continue.
"Well, it’s really quite simple," she said. "Just look at the facts. Firstly, he was drinking coffee rather than tea; that might suggest one of our American friends. However, he was also reading a book, leading me to suspect that he was, in fact, Canadian."
"Well that’s 'ardly proof positive, Miss Pettipants--drinking coffee and reading a book. I mean, he could have been an MFA student or something."
"Perhaps, Constable, but the wheelchair: It is a well-known fact that as Canada is such a boring place, its citizens will gnaw their own legs off at a very early age."
"True enough," Hardbottom responded, thoughtfully.
"The tattoo, of course, was the final confirmation, for, as you know, Tom . . . "
" . . . All Canadians acquire Musk Ox tattoos specifically to separate themselves from their American neighbours. Of course. But who poisoned him, and why?"
"The clue is in the breakfast, Constable." Hardbottom gave a quizzical look as Miss Pettipants continued her revelations. "If you’ll look: The gentleman's rarebit is untouched, as is his 'full English'. He has consumed only the bowl of cornflakes in addition to the coffee . . . "
"Go on . . . "
"I suggest the poison was in the milk used on the cornflakes. You see, I have it on good authority that this gentleman was here to promote healthy breakfast alternatives. Something that would sound the death knell for our good old English breakfast, and those businesses that supply its many and varied ingredients. Not least, our very own Meadow Lane Farm, for instance . . . "
"I see what you're getting at, Miss Pettipants," Hardbottom exclaimed, as he removed his helmet to scratch his head. "You’re suggesting the gentleman was poisoned with 'is corn flakes, and that Farmer Giles--"
"Yes. That is exactly what I am suggesting, Tom. Farmer Giles is a cereal killer."
Opening: Evil Editor.....Conclusion: Anonymous