March 17, 2015 01:40PM
Chapter One.


“I know I had it when I sat outside this morning. I was out by the front door and just went inside to see to my baking. I was there for probably two or three minutes, and when I came back, the locket had gone. Oh William, what am I going to do? That is the one you bought me as a wedding present!”

Charlottte dabbed at her eyes and looked at her husband as she sobbed the words. Mr Collins had just returned from his morning walk and found her distraught as she gasped out her story. Her gold locket had been on a small table together with a book and a glass of water. She had gone inside for a short time, and come back to find the locket and its chain gone. Mr Collins frowned and bent to look under the table. He then picked the table up and moved it to one side. He did the same with the chairs to no avail. He even picked up the book and riffled the pages. There was no sign of the missing locket. Charlotte sank down into the wicker chair and began to cry again. Mr Collins placed a consoling arm around her shoulders, a baffled look on his face.
“There, there, my dear. There must be a simple explanation. Has anyone called here this morning, the butcher, baker…. has anyone delivered a letter?”
Charlotte shook her head. “No, no one at all. I saw Miss de Bourgh drive by down the lane earleir, but apart from the gardeners working in Lady Catherine’s field I haven’t seen another soul!”.
Mr Collins gazed around then peered back at his wife. He hesitated and coughed a trifle nervously, before stepping back, removing his hat and scratching his head.
“A silly question, I know, and you will pardon me for asking it, but are you absolutely sure you brought the locket out here. I mean, why would you do such a thing dear?”
Charlotte dabbed her eyes with a lace handkerchief and sniffed.
“I didn’t bring it out. I had it on it and took it off because I shouldn’t be wearing it around the house. It was just still around my neck from last evening at Rosings. Of that, I’m absolutely certain. I recall quite clearly taking it off and placing it on the table”.
Mr Collins blew out his cheeks and shook his head.
“This is a serious matter indeed. If it was there, and now it is not, it can only mean one thing. Someone has taken it and that means theft. Oh dear, her Ladyship will be furious. Theft in her very domain. It is quite unthinkable!”
As the full implication of his words sunk in, Mr Collins felt a dull ache begin in his abdomen. It wasn’t just that the locket had been stolen, but that the only people in sight were the gardeners in the adjoining field and the only person to pass had been…oh, it was just too terrible to contemplate. There had to be another explanation. He also knew that if he didn’t inform Lady Catherine of the matter she would be less than amused if she found out from someone else. His cheerful mood of minutes ago suddenly took a downward plunge. What to do? Should he instigate a full search of the house and area, the rear gardens? Charlotte’s words came back to mind: “ I recall quite clearly taking it off and placing it on the table” He sighed in frustration and dispensed the search idea. He sank down in the other wicker chair. There was nothing for it but to inform her Ladyship. He mentally ruled out all mention of Miss de Bourgh as too ridiculous to contemplate. No, make that too risky, he shuddered at the thought. Should he just forget about the loss and perhaps buy another locket? No, that wouldn’t do because his dear wife would obviously be totally distraught at the very thought of not recovering her wedding present locket, especially since it contained a lock of his own hair from their wedding day. Some things were totally irreplaceable after all. No, the locket must be recovered. Lady Catherine would almost certainly claim it must be passing Gypsies, despite the fact that Charlotte was sure no one had even approached the path. Mr Collins groaned aloud at the thought of it all. Prayer seemed suddenly a desirable option.

Charlotte was distressed at the very thought of her husband even mentioning the matter to her Ladyship who would almost certainly do one of two things: either want to call out the remaining militia from the nearby Westerham and scour the countryside for Gypsy camps, or dismiss the whole thing as a matter of no consequence. The latter seemed suddenly by far the more desirable option. If only she could make Mr Collins see that.

Chapter Two.

Mr Collins sat in the sunlit kitchen as Charlotte placed his lunch before him. She herself was too upset to think about eating, but her husband insisted food was good for the brain. He would have to think deeply on the matter. Charlotte was still mortally upset and decided she needed to lie down. This was encouraged by Mr Collins whose mind was in something of an uproar. If only he could solve the mystery and find the missing locket without seeking the aid of advice of anyone, how wonderful that would be. The facts were unavoidable: Charlotte had left the locket on the table and gone inside for no more than a couple of minutes. She had heard or seen no one yet to come back to find her locket gone? The locket itself was an immovable object and there was no such thing as an invisible person. What then had happened? Again he dismissed the uncomfortable thought of discussing the matter with her Ladyship. She would surely see both himself and Charlotte at fault for being careless in some way. He would be quite happy with the matter as a talking point if they could somehow recover the locket. Was there something he had missed? Could someone have been hiding in the hedges and spied an opportunity to steal? It had to be Gypsies.
He only half-finished his lunch and pushed the plate away. Deep in thought he strolled out into the garden and surveyed the surrounding territory. It was a scene of idyllic tranquillity, with the gardeners in her Ladyship’s field and the birds and butteflies the only signs of movement. He gazed around again and spied the ladder leaning against the apple tree in the garden, removing some of its fruit a task he had abandoned in favour of walking to Rosings. It would have to be done, maybe later in the day, he decided dismissively..

A sudden idea occurred to him. Perhaps from high up he may see something not obvious from ground level. With no real expectation of success he walked across and gingerely mounted the ladder. Normally his dear Charlotte would be below helping to steady his progress. Sometimes, however, a man must do what a man must do. Very cautiously he moved upwards until he could see through a large gap in the foliage. The view was splendid but showed little to help his investigation. The garden gate was closed and the surrounding hedges a little too high for easy access. The path was devoid of life right along its length in both directions. He sighed and was just about to descend when a sizeable bird’s nest caught his eye. It must be the home of the magpies that were always winging around his garden. He looked closer and suddenly a beam of delight appeared on his face. There in the nest, amongst a silver spoon, a broken small egg and a bent pair of reading spectacles was….Charlotte’s locket! His joy was such that he almost forgot he was on a ladder and had to make a sudden grab for a sturdy branch. Carefully removing the locket and chain from the nest he tucked it into his waistcoat pocket and descended with a heart too light for description.

“How on earth did you know to look up there? It’s almost miraculous thinking to even consider such a thing. How very clever of you. How did you do it?”
Charlotte, whose delight had known no bounds, poured her husband a large glass of lemonade and sat down beside him in the sunshine. Mr Collins smiled mysteriously and said:
“It was simple in the end. When I had carefully considered ever conceivable option, I realised that apart from a divine presence, the only thing left in sight had to be the answer. The workman were too far away, no one had called here, there was no way anyone could have approached the table without being seen and, when I had discounted everything else, the only solution was….birds. It was just a case of sensible deduction and some clear thinking”
Mr Collins knew with certainty that, under the circumstances his small manipulation of the truth would not be held against him. He had, after all, solved the mystery, recovered the locket and chain and, most importantly Charlotte had his lock of hair back. A perfect solution. Now he would look forward to discussing the matter with great gusto. Much was to be said for clear thinking……

End.

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If we could but look into the future we may discover that another would share Mr Collin’s views. But that is much later indeed.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, stated by Sherlock Holmes”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Hunsford Tales. Eliminating the impossibles.

Jim G.MMarch 17, 2015 01:40PM

Re: Hunsford Tales. Eliminating the impossibles.

Lucy J.March 23, 2015 02:45AM

Re: Hunsford Tales. Eliminating the impossibles.

terrycgMarch 18, 2015 02:39AM

Re: Hunsford Tales. Eliminating the impossibles.

Jim D.March 17, 2015 08:33PM

Re: Hunsford Tales. Eliminating the impossibles.

Harvey S.March 17, 2015 04:54PM

Re: Hunsford Tales. Eliminating the impossibles.

Jim G.MMarch 17, 2015 09:46PM



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