“YOU'RE PROBABLY ALL WONDERING WHY I called you into the parlor. But the circumstances of Lord Robert’s death were suspicious from the start. I noticed the cigar butt on the floor which suggested an interview had transpired earlier that day with Colonel Jackman. That this interview had become an argument was later confirmed by the testimony of the chambermaid, who described a rather apoplectic look on her Master’s face.
I realize I’m asking you all a lot of questions, people, and I’m sorry. I guess I’m a little excited— you see, earlier today we caught the actual murderer in town. Just as we suspected, a homeless gypsy fellow.
“Of course, the maid’s own behavior was not above reproach. And the cause of her enmity could not remain hidden long, once it became apparent she was with child. Was this Lord Robert’s baby? Did he insult her by trying to buy her off?
“And what of the young nephew and heir, young Jack-O? Surely his gambling debts provided motive also. Especially when he overheard his uncle’s open disapproval of his prodigal lifestyle and new threat to disinherit him in favor of the bastard child.
“Lord Robert’s elderly spinster sister? Hadn’t she always secretly harbored resentment in her heart for her brother, who had once blocked her marriage to a commoner, ruining in one fell swoop her only chance at happiness?
“I realize I’m asking you all a lot of questions, people, and I’m sorry. I guess I’m a little excited—you see, earlier today we caught the actual murderer in town. Just as we suspected, a homeless gypsy fellow.”
A Mood Spoiled
Mardie and I held our embrace. Our eyes met and danced with joy. I picked her up in my arms and swirled her around on the beach. The waves crashed. We kissed. The waves crashed again.
We’d better get out of here,
I said. Those breakers are getting really big.
It is now time, gentle reader, to bring this long chronicle to its conclusion. Sadie and Philip married and settled down. And I am pleased to report that their household was soon blessed with two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, who carried on the slow-paced, gentle life at Mangrove, learning to love nature and revel by the brook and trees just as their Mummy and Daddy once had, in those glorious golden summers of early childhood, before new love first blossomed.
Philip worked with a man named Silas Simpson at the Williamson company. This Silas kept to himself mostly, although he was once a contestant on Jeopardy.
When I saw Old Boney stagger out of the forest, I knew something was wrong. He looked so different—eyes red, foaming at the mouth and growling under his breath.
Pap just handed me the shotgun and said, You know what you must do.
But Boney’s my best friend, I said. How can I?
That there’s not Boney, not any more, Pap said. But if you want, I can handle this. You go on ahead in the house.
No, you’re right, Sir, I told him. Boney’s my dog and my responsibility. You always taught me that. Reckon I can take things from here.
I’m proud of you, son! Pap said.
I took the shotgun from Pap and watched him slowly march to the house. Then I drew a bead and fired. He dropped straight to the ground.
Now it’s just you and me boy, I told Boney.