As I relaxed in the library at Ross Hall, perusing my copy of “Lies and Liars” for the third time, a knock sounded on the door and Bell, the butler, strode in.
“Ah, Bell!” I exclaimed, as the butler came to rest at my elbow. “What news?”
“I’ve been sent, sir, from--”
“My cousin, Harold?”
“Yes, sir. It seems there is an urgent--”
“Regarding the small matter of a--”
“Diamond ring? Stolen, perhaps, from Harold’s own bedchamber?”
The butler paused, looking ruffled.
I laughed. “Come, Bell, admit it. You’re dying to know how I knew about the ring.”
“Not in the least, sir.”
“Don’t lie to me, Bell. See this book?” I asked, holding up “Lies and Liars.”
“Antoine Leroux, the famous jewel thief, wrote it. Ever heard of him?”
“A pity. Leroux wrote this book for the ordinary young man, to help him become a better liar and unmask the lies of others.”
“Absolutely! From now on, my lies will seem completely true. I’ll use my new knowledge, and the missing ring, to make a fool of Harold and this weekend guest of his, that old blighter, Roxingham.”
“But, Mr. Roxingham is known as a brilliant detective, sir.”
“All the better, Bell. I shall make my way to the scene of the crime. I suppose Roxingham’s already there?”
“Then tally-ho!” I cried, charging from the room.
I met Harold at the foot of the staircase, where he attached himself to my arm and dragged me upstairs to his chamber.
“It’s the strangest thing,” Harold said as we went. “First, the ring was on my nightstand. And then, it wasn’t! I’ve searched everywhere, believe me, but no results. It’s a terrible loss. Real gold and diamonds that ring was. Cost a packet.”
“And meant for your fiancée, no doubt,” I teased.
Harold blushed. “That too, of course.”
Reaching his door, Harold shoved it open, revealing a tall man staring calmly out of the window, his hands clasped behind his back.
“Come to any conclusions, Roxingham?” Harold asked.
“I’m afraid you weren’t gone long enough for that,” Roxingham said, turning to us with a smile.
“Well, really,” Harold said, looking crestfallen, “I thought you’d have solved the case by now.”
Roxingham bowed politely.
“Suppose I had some information that might solve this case?” I asked, staring Roxingham in the eye, as Leroux suggested.
“Such as?” Roxingham asked.
“That I saw Harold hide the ring in his top dresser drawer,” I lied.
“What?” Harold spluttered.
“Don’t lie, Harold!” I cried, quickly taking the offensive, as Leroux instructed. “You know you never wanted to buy Sophie such an expensive ring.”
“You decided to claim you’d lost it, and sell it back to the dealer later.”
“There’s nothing to say, Harold. I watched you hide it through the crack in your door. I can prove you did it.”
“You can produce the ring?” Roxingham asked.
“Of course,” I said, opening the dresser drawer and rummaging about among Harold’s clothes.
Unfortunately, the ring wasn’t under the blue pajamas, where I’d hidden it.
Suddenly nervous, I grabbed the pajamas and started shaking them out, hoping to dislodge the ring. “I know it’s here!” I cried, growing more and more desperate. “It has to be here!”
But it wasn’t.
Speechless, I shoved the drawer closed and sank into a chair. “I don’t understand,” I muttered.
“No, but I do,” Roxingham said, strolling across the room. “Your problem, I’m afraid, is that you’ve been looking for the ring in the wrong place.” And, sticking his hand under the bed, he pulled out the ring.
“I say!” Harold exclaimed, turning to me. “I guess this disproves all your rotten accusations. Well done, Roxingham! I’d better go tell Bell,” he added, dashing from the room.
I sat for a moment, silent. Then looking up at Roxingham I asked, “How?”
“A professional precaution,” the detective said. “I searched the room before you arrived, and took the liberty of removing the ring to a more suitable spot.”
“Then you KNEW I was lying! You tricked me!”
He nodded. “My past life gave me a gift for such discernment. My mother’s maiden name was Leroux, and before I changed my ways and became a detective, the world knew me by my middle name, Antoine.”
“If that’s true,” I said slowly, “perhaps you’ll oblige me by finding a pen. There’s a book that I’d like you to sign.”
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