Please join me today in welcoming my friend, Sally Wolf. Sally is generously sharing one of her original stories with us. I hope you enjoy it!
Case 2 Christmas Star Caper
Detective Katherine Pig and the Case of the Christmas Star Caper.
As the the holidays approached the town became electrified with the buzz of Christmas. Cat and Dog Movers were employed to line the streets with lights and garland. Shop keepers frosted their windows and set up fancy displays of their best merchandise. Meanwhile I sat at my desk sorting paper work Lovely snoozed in his basket at my feet.
"Slow day!" I said out loud as I stood, stretched, and wondered to the foggy window. I rubbed my shirt sleeve on the pain an peered out. The day had grown dark and a few wayward flakes fell from the sky. "Lets go home before this gets any worse." I said to Lovely. He jumped up happily and brought his wooly sweater to me. I pulled it on and helped him into his four little boots. I then pulled on my own galoshes over my shoes put on my purple trench coat, earmuffs and scarf. As I was taking my purple fedora off its peg by the door the phone rang. Lovely gave me a look that said
"Don't answer that DK I'm all dressed up an ready to go." I gave him my best I'm sorry I'm a detective smile, and picked up the phone.
"Detective Katherine Pig here how may I help you." I said into the receiver. There was a long silence on the other line. I almost gave up and hung up, when a voice came across the line so low and scratchy that it was barely above a whisper it said. "Oh I Was looking for Professor de Hippo." This was a common thing as I now reside in his office and use his same phone number. I cleared my throat and clarified.
"The Professor retired last year. I am his replacement my name is Detective Katherine Pig. Is there something I can help you with?" I could feel the tension building
"Yes, Yes I got all of that when you answered the phone child. I may be old but I am not deaf." the voice barked from the other end of the line. "Something has been stolen from my home and I need help to relocate it." I waited uncertain what to say next. After a short pause the voice continued. "From what I have heard you are more of a match maker than a detective." A deep blush rose in my cheeks. The Mayor and Miss Duck had been telling everyone that I was the reason they were together. I had even received an invitation to be maid of honor at their wedding next spring. I cleared my throat and said in my most professional voice.
"I understand your concern, but I can assure you that I am fully qualified. I have even studied for a year under Professor de Hippo before he retired as his assistant. If you want I have his number you are free to call him if you would prefer." I held the phone to my ear and waited. When I glanced down at Lovely he shrugged and gave me his I told you so glance and went to stand by the door his boots making little squeaky noises on the tile. When I turned my attention back to the phone I was met with silence. I was about to ask them if they were still there when the voice said.
"I'll take that number now." biting my lip I gave the number and said good evening. Placing the receiver on the cradle, I stood and headed for the door just as it clicked shut the phone began to ring again. For a moment I debated even picking it up. I looked at Lovely who rolled his eyes an jumped up on the bench just outside the door curling into a ball. I sighed and went back into the office. I took a deep breath and answered.
"Detective Katherine Pig here how may I help you." I was met with the chilling silence again this time however I waited patiently for them to speak.
"I called the Professor." The whispering voice announced. I waited knowing what was coming next but letting the voice clarify anyway.
"Be at my house at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning." The voice said then there was a dial tone.
"Well now what?" I thought as I hung up the phone how am I suppose to know where to go. The phone rang again with my hand still on it and I once again put it to my ear but before I could say anything the voice said.
"I live in the big house on the hill can't miss it." then they hung up. I shrugged my shoulders and headed for the door. Lovely and I squished our way down the long hall then pushed or way out the front door into the cold and blustery night. I turned up my collar against the wind and trudged home. We blew through the front door of our house deposited or wet things by the door. Then we headed for the kitchen for a bit of hot cocoa, before brushing our teeth and going to bed.
In the morning the bright winter sun came through the frosted windows waking me from my slumber. I opened on eye and checked the clock. The digital display blinked 12. I sighed and got up the power must have been knocked out last night I thought as I got ready for the days adventures. After dressing in my warmest clothes I made myself a cup of hot cider and a bowl of oatmeal. When breakfast was eaten and cleaned up we went to the front hall where we had discarded our wet things. I helped Lovely into his boots and parka. Then I pulled on my trench coat and placed my detective fedora upon my head. With my bag in hand I opened my front door and stepped onto my front stoop. I tipped my hat forward to shield my eyes from the snow glare and served the landscape.
Snow covered everything in sight and ice crusted the road.
"Well Lovely looks like we are going to have to hoof it." I said with a sigh he just looked at me and whined. I bent down opened my bag, he hopped in and we were off. It was slow going when we reached camel hill. The wind blew in our faces and chilled us to the bone. As we crested the top of the hill a large white house came into the view. There was a large wrought iron fence encircling it and the only way in seemed to be an archway that towered above everything. I stopped at the gate and pushed the intercom button. There was a long pause then a voice said "Yes may I help you." I cleared my throat and answered
"I am Detective Katherine Pig I have an appointment."
"Yes of course please do come in." The professional voice answered. There was a loud buzz and the gate swung inward. I stepped in and the gate shut behind me with a clang. I swallowed hard and made my way up the winding drive to the house. I tromped up the stairs and sat down on the porch where I removed my galoshes. I sat there for a moment while I got my note book out of my bag. With my hat in hand I proceeded to the door I was about to ring the bell when it swung wide open and before me stood a Penguin. He looked down his beak at me and said
"Welcome Madam Pig please do come in. I will take care of your things for you." I stepped into a large entry hall that was filled floor to ceiling with antiques and handed him my wraps. He closed the door behind me and said "Please follow me." He proceeded down the hall to a grand room. There was a spiral stair case leading to a balcony on the left and a identical one on the right. In the middle there was a large space covered by a glass dome.
"When Sir Reginald was a child every year a Christmas tree was placed there." He gestured toward the space between the stairs. "Follow me" he said and went down a long hall to our right. "These portraits were taken every year until he turned ten." he continued then paused so that I could look at them. When I leaned close to the photo for a better look the first thing that caught my eye was a gold star upon the very top of the tree. The star was back lit by the moon that shone through the skylight and then the star. This caused a prism effect that sent a cascade of sparkles to the floor all around the base of the tree as if there was snow on the ground. I followed him down the hall looking at the photos as I went as the years progressed so did the size of the kid. In the first photo he was in his mothers arms by the last he was standing proudly next to his father. Abruptly the photos ended and I glanced at the butler for an explanation. Sadly he looked at the floor as he spoke softly. "When Sir Reginald turned ten everyone came down with yellow fever. I did my best to nurse them back to health but his mother was too far gone and his father was not far after his heart giving out on him. Sir Reg. recovered but is unable to use his legs. We have not had a Christmas party here since. The Star was put in its keepsake box and this is where it has remained until recently when it vanished without a trace." he finished with a deep sigh as if all of this had all been pent-up in him for years. I was about to reply that seldom to things vanish without any trace when a Ram rolled out of the nearest room. He came right up to me and looked me over in a gruff voice he said. "I suppose that Magnus has been filling you head with fairy tales of Christmas pasts." I looked around for Magnus but he had vanished "No Sir," I said "he was just telling me about the star." He eyed me suspiciously but did not reply he just turned around and went back into the room he had just exited. Seeing no other option I followed. I was amazed at the sure size of everything in this house. As I crossed the threshold my detective side kicked in and I made a mental note of everything in the room. Three of the walls were covered in floor to ceiling book cases filled with books in the center of the room was a antique desk an be hind this sat Sir Reginald. The top of the desk was neat and the only thing that seemed out of place was a large wooded box. Sir Reginald was hugging this box to his chest as if it was a beloved teddy bear. Behind him was a picture window that beautifully framed the winter outside. Reluctantly, I took my gaze from the window and returned it to my host. I was surprised to see him crying. Without thinking I went to him and put my hoof on his shoulder. This broke the spell and he sat up. With shaky hands he opened the box and turned it toward me. It was lined with red velvet in the center was a indentation of a star. I could see where the corners of the star had warn bear spots in the velvet from repeated use. I reached for the box and for a moment thought that he was going to snatch it back but he just slumped forward like a wined up toy with its key removed. The box itself was nothing special just a plain walnut square with a hinged lid the only markings were the initials RRW etched into the bottom. I returned it to its owner who pulled it to his chest. I surveyed the room turning in a little circle, then I went back to the front of the desk were I took up one of the chairs there. Without saying anything I took out my notebook then placed my bag in the chair next to me Lovely poked his head out but stayed where he was. I flipped to the first page and wrote:
The Missing Christmas Star Case #2
Family Star missing box not locked
Important to Sir Reginald
Has not been on a Christmas tree in some time.
I glanced up to find Sir Reginald staring at me. I cleared my throat and asked. "How many times a day do you take the star out of its box?" He immediately started to protest but one look at my face changed his mind. Instead he turned his chair toward the window and began to speak what he told me amazed and saddened me. " My Grandfather made the star for his wife, he gave it to her on their fiftieth wedding anniversary and she intern gave it to my mother as a wedding present. My mother loved this star she thought it held magical powers. She would tell me that if you stood in the sparkles and made a wish at midnight on Christmas Eve your wish would come true. When we all got stick she asked Magnus to put up the tree anyway. On midnight she crawled to the and asked the star to make me well. The next morning Magnus found her there collapsed at base of the tree. My father could not take the strain. He tore down the tree and threw the star away. He died not long after of a broken heart. I did however recovered from the fever less the use of my legs. Why Magnus stayed and took care of me I will never know. He turned the social workers away and told them all that as long as he was alive this was my home. When I was able to sit up in bed he brought me this box. In it was my mothers star. He had seen my father throw it out and he had rescued it. Every day I take it out, hold it up to the light letting the sparkles fall around me and I imagine that they are my mothers tears." He paused here unable or unwilling to continue. His head hung low I was about to turn from him to give him some privacy when movement caught my eye. I rushed to the window to see a figure disappearing behind the hedges at the far end of the yard. I through open the patio door and dashed after it. Oblivious to the chill I ran to where I had last seen it. The figure was gone but there in the fence there was a small opening. I tried to fallow but could not fit through. Lovely barked at my heals and I jumped. "Not this time boy." I said as I trudged back through the snow toward the house. A bit of red caught my eye and I gave Lovely the command to fetch he bounded away and came back with a tattered red scarf. I took it from him and went back to the room were I had left poor Sir Reginald starring out the window in disbelief. I blew in the room and shut the door behind me. "W..w..Well," I said my teeth chattering. "You seem to have y..y..your s..s..self a lit..t..tle t...t..trespassor." I stopped talking and looked in dismay at the puddle I was making around my feet from the melting snow. I was about to apologize when my host sprang into action. He put the box on his desk and rang a big bell moments later Magnus appeared. "Please escort Miss Pig to my mothers room. Run her a warm bath and find her something dry to wear." He said business like.
"Sir?" Magnus began, but one look from Reginald changed his mind. To my dismay he quickly crossed the room swept me up and hurried out of the room with me locked in his flippers.
After I had showered and dressed in the Lavender pants suit that was laid out for me. I sat on the hope chest at the end of the bed and surveyed the room. Unlike the rest of this house this room was simple. In t e center of the room a small four posted canopy bed was surrounded by tiny rose petal wall paper. The hope chest and a comfortable looking chair were the only other items in the room. There was a small tap at the door and the muffled voice of Magnus came from behind it.
"The meal is ready Madam shall I escort you." I opened the door to him, and said "Certainly, but only on one condition." He frowned a bit and I giggled as I linked my arm with his and said "You have to let me walk on my own two feet." The corners of his beak turned up and we headed down the hall. To my surprise we passed the biggest dinning room I had ever seen and went through a swinging door into a cozy kitchen. Sir Reginald smiled at me and patted the chair next to his closest to the fire. I scratched Lovely who lay dosing in a nearby basket and sat down. I watched as Magnus placed grilled cheese on four plates. He brought three to the table and put the fourth on the counter by the fridge. He then placed steaming bowls of chicken soup at each place. We ate heartily in silence. When we finished Sir Reginald pulled away from the table an motioned for me to fallow him. I obliged thanking Magnus as I left taking note of the extra portion still untouched. Sir Reginald led me out of the kitchen and down the hall to the right this hall was also lined with photographs one in particular caught my eye it was a family photo like the rest but there was someone standing in the background so I took out my magnifying glass for a closer look. There standing behind the family was a younger version of Magnus and wrapped around his neck was a red scarf. I took a step back in surprise and bumped into Sir Reginald who had rolled up behind me.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"No!" I said too quickly but he only nodded and continued down the hall. I got out my note book and feverishly wrote.
Mysterious small person seen
Lost red scarf found
Extra place set
Magnus seen with same scarf
I closed my note book and hurried after Sir Reginald. In the room at the end of the hall he unlocked the door and went in I followed. The room was nearly empty except for a small hospital bed. He moved his wheel chair to one side then looked at me. I went to the bedside and hooked one arm under his and we did an awkward dance until he was in the bed. I ruffled the pillows under his horns and tucked his blankets under his chin. His eyes drifted closed as he said.
"Stay as long as you need. Please let me know immediately if you find my star." Then just like that, he was fast asleep snoring lightly. I tip toed out of the room and closed the door. I walked back to the kitchen where I found Magnus sitting at the kitchen table in tears. I meant stand silently in the door way until he finished but, curiosity got the better of me so I took another step into the kitchen and I noticed that the extra portion was gone in doing so I bumped the pan rack sending them banging against each other. In surprise he jumped up wiping the tears away he said.
"Madam, is there something I can do for you." I smiled politely and asked for my things. He rushed off and brought everything to me. I put on my hat, coat, glosses and scarf. When I was done I was delighted to find Lovely all bundled up and ready to go. Magnus stood before us with a small packet. I looked at him curiously and he replied.
"Your cloths Madam cleaned and pressed." I was about to say I would return the loaners but he read my mind and added "The Master says no need to return the others they are a gift." I nodded and turned toward the fort entry. He grabbed my arm and said
"This way would be quicker Mam'!" and just as I suspected went to a side door that was just to the right of where he had placed the extra food. It opened onto a stone path and he pointed to where it ended at a small gate. I thanked him again an stared away. I glanced back to see him standing in the doorway frowning. I hurried along the path and out the gate. To my surprise I did not enter the road as I had expected but I was instead in an alleyway of sorts between two stone walls. I turned right and headed in what I guessed was the street when I imaged I was standing in front of Saint Margaret's Orphanage. The children were dancing around a Christmas tree decorated with colored paper and popcorn. I saw a nun near by and called her over. I asked her about the red scarf but she just shook her head. I nodded an was about to turn when a sparkle caught my eye. I ran to the gate and rang the buzzer. Magnus answered in a question
"Yes can I help you?"
"Please let me in Magnus I have some wonderful news for Sir Reginald."
"I am sorry am but he is still resting and isn't to be disturbed." Was the only reply then there was silence on the line and there was no further contact. Frustrated I stormed down the hill when I rounded the corner I ran right smack into a small Raccoon.
"Wow lady you got to watch were your going'" he smiled up at me then turned to run. I grabbed him by the coat and spun him around. Then I leaned in his face and smelled his breath. He tried to pull away but I held fast.
"Listen I said you have to do something for me."
"No!" he screamed kicked me in the shin. I grimaced in pain but held fast. Through gritted teeth I said.
"Look here, I know what you did!" He started to cry at this and I quickly added "I won't tell on you if you do me a big favor." He nodded and I let go of him. For a moment I thought he was going to bolt but he just stood there shaking in the snow. I took out my note book and wrote a quick note folded it and placed it in his paw. I leaned in close and told him my plan. When I finished he looked at me doubtful. I patted him on the shoulder and then reached back into my bag and brought out my old badge in gold letters it read Official Detective's Assistant. His eyes lit up greedily when I held it out to him. He snatched it and put it in a inside pocket. He grinned a missing tooth grin at me and was off before I could worn him to be careful. I shrugged and turned back toward town there was nothing left to do but wait.
At 11 P.M. on Christmas eve I trudged back up the hill. It was slow going and I did not arrive until a quarter till. I found to my amazement everything set just as I had instructed. I glanced around nervously but did not see the boy. He soon appeared near Cat's cherry piker. He handed dog a small packet and dog handed it to Cat who was in the bucket. Cat then turned to the controls and skillfully maneuvered to the tip of the tree. I held my breath when I realized that the guest of honor was not there I looked at my watch nervously I glanced at the raccoon but he just shrugged. Others began to arrive until the whole town stood in the shadow of the tree. Just as I was about to give up Magnus pushed Sir Reginald up the path. The bells in the church rang out. I could see everyone counting them. Each mouth moved in unison one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. As the last bell rang Cat placed the packet on the tip of the tree and removed the paper. A cascade of sparkles fell on the crowd the largest one falling in Sir Reginald lap. I could see tears pouring down his cheeks. I went to him and whispered in his ear.
"Go on make your Christmas wish." He bowed his head for a moment then looked at the star and wished. I held my arm out to him and said. "Lets see if it worked shall we." He moved the blanket covering his legs aside and unassisted walked to the base of the tree. Sister Margaret came to him and wrapped him in a big hug. The whole town followed shaking his hand and patting him on the back. He turned in a little circle dazed. He saw me standing on the outskirts and pushed through the crowd of well wishes toward me. I felt a small paw in mine and looked down to find the Raccoon by my side. Sir Reginald found his way to me and said.
"Well done my lady. You have found my star and restored me." I shook my head in disagreement. He just looked at me puzzled. I was about to explain when Magnus hurried over.
"I think you have had enough excitement for one night don't you Sir." He said forcefully pushing him back in the direction of his discarded wheel chair.
"No I have not leave me be!" Sir Reginald said pulling away from him and standing before me again. He then demanded of me. "I want to know what has been going on around here." I gave a look to Magnus who stood with his head bowed low and began my story.
"You are well Sir you always have been since before mother made that wish. Magnus has been drugging you to keep you weak. He found out about your plan to give the star to the orphans he took it and tried to hide it but Raccoon here saw him stash it. He took it from the hiding place and he gave it to Sister Margaret. You see he too knew of your plan for the star because he always stood in the bushes under the window every day when you took it out of its box. Ever since Magnus realized the star was gone he has been blackmailing raccoon here with food to keep him quiet. What he hadn't counted on in his plan was me. When you asked me to escort you to bed after we had lunch I saw him in the scarf and when I helped you to bed I realized there was nothing wrong with your legs. I when I went back to the kitchen to get my stuff. The extra portion of food was gone. He caught me looking at the spot were it had been. He rushed me to the side door thinking he had avoided me returning to your room but he inadvertently led me here. Where I saw the star in Sister Margaret's pocket. Then after a bit of pain I employed the help of my new friend here." I pushed Raccoon forward then continued" We set this all up to bring you here so that you could see your dream realized." When I finished Sir Reginald stumbled back into his wheelchair that Magnus mysteriously presented. As soon as he realized this he sprang back up as if there was a tack in the seat and turned to face Magnus. Magnus held up his arms in surrender and begged.
"You are all I have left. I just didn't want to lose you."
"Get out of my sight!" Sir Reginald growled as he bowed his horned head toward Magnus. He then turned toward Sister Margaret. He took her in his arms and said "You and the children are going to come and live with me." She giggled like a school girl and laid her head on his massive chest. He set her down but kept his arm around her he turned to me and asked. "How can I ever replay you?" I blushed and tipped my hat at them.
"It was just a good days work no special payment needed." I said Turning toward home Lovely at my heals. As I sat in my office that night typing up my final report I realized that there is more to life than just material things. Everyone needs someone to care for and in turn they feel needed. I closed the file and put it away in my file cabinet another job well done I thought as I turned out the light in my office and went to bed Lovely at my heals.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story and sharing a day of Christmas in July with us, Sally.