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      CommentAuthorCurly Que
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2010 edited
    Pass It On

    I finished playing amid laughter and applause. I stood, curtsied, and stepped off the stage to where my tutor was waiting for me.

    “Are you ready?” he asked.

    “Yes, Mr. Everoux,“ I replied. “The Edwins were very kind in asking me to play at their garden party, but I am in desperate need of rest.”

    “How dare you be so informal in a crowd so large that no one but I can hear a word you’re saying!” He was teasing me, but I was too tired to try and think of a witty reply.

    “Mr. Everoux, please just take me home.” I pleaded, in a manner that was half serious half teasing. “No more touring, no more performances. I love to play, but it is not half so enjoyable when you are in a different country playing for people you don’t know. I haven’t seen my family for a year and a half now. I am well aware that Papa said we could go touring as long as we wished to; however, I have had enough. I’ve no more fancy for travelling now that I’ve been outside the comfortable confines of Rockport. It has been too long since I felt the sea breeze, or heard the cry of the gulls as they pass overhead, or had my feet on the sand. Our morning walks used to be so enjoyable, with the sun just peeping over the hills and you telling me of the great musicians, then going to the house to gather a picnic lunch for another walk in the hills. My heart aches to return.”

    I had somewhat forgotten that we were still at the garden party and was near the point of feigning tears, when I heard a sob and in a broken voice: “Is it really just like all the pictures? I long to visit the sea.”
    I turned and found myself looking straight into the eyes of the smallest person I had ever seen. She was not young, but her face was beautiful. I stared at her standing there, sobbing pitifully. Mr. Everoux tapped my shoulder. I jumped and turned to him.

    “Perhaps I should speak with her...”

    “Of course,” I replied, stumbling out of his way.

    He addressed her. “Miss?”

    “Yes?” She sniffled once more then looked up at him apparently completely recovered from her previous spasm of sobs. Her eyes grew larger and larger as she continued to bend her head back in an effort to look at his face.

    “Oh, my,” she exclaimed as she finally located that which she had been seeking. “How tall you are!”

    “Of course, miss.” Mr. Everoux said in a calming manner. “My name is Everoux, Mr. Everoux. I hope we have not upset you too much? You must believe that my companion and I had no intention of disturbing you. I beg you to forgive us.”

    “Oh please, let that be forgotten. I too often let my emotions get the better of me. Come sit at my table and we will talk of pleasant things.” She started to walk away. Mr. Everoux told me to wait and quickly caught up with her. He later told me what had passed between them.

    “Miss?” he had said after a deep breath.

    “Oh, my! Yes?”

    “Miss, my companion and I are very grateful for your invitation, but I am afraid we will not be able to accept. We must leave now to gather our belongings before catching a train.”

    “Oh, what a pity. We could have had such a nice conversation. Where is your ‘companion’?”

    “Over yonder, miss.”

    “Oh, much too far for me to walk again without a rest. Well, I expect you to give her this.” She held out a small golden wrist watch toward him. It was rich with intricate designs featuring scenes of Africa.

    “Thank you once again for you kindness, miss, but we cannot accept such a gift.”

    “Oh, don’t be silly! You have to keep a watch if you expect to get places on time. Besides, her music was so beautiful I would have given it to her anyhow. See that she gets it as soon as possible, young man.”

    “Of course, miss, she thanks you.” Mr. Everoux bowed and came toward me. When he was near enough that we could talk again he said, glancing at his hand, “We had best be going now if you are still hoping to catch that train.”

    As we walked out the gate after saying goodbye to our hosts, someone in the crowd screamed and started shrieking, “Thief, Murderer, Help!” The chatter and laughing stopped and everyone, including Mr. Everoux and I, was escorted into the building. No one was to leave until some government men had looked into things.

    It was half an hour before any investigators arrived, and another hour before I was questioned.
    I couldn’t find Mr. Everoux, and had a sneaking feeling that everyone had been separated from their suspected party companions. I was even more homesick now.

    I could remember perfectly the last puzzle my late Aunt Bernadette had solved. She had been a detective. In her earlier years she was ridiculed, but she had made a good name for herself. The last case she had been in health for had been a jewelry theft. I had no idea what had been stolen during the garden party, but I thought carefully about everything she had told me about the previous theft. The thing that I remembered most clearly was the last thing she told me before she died: “Remember,” she had said, “the people who do these things are not honest. They will blame someone else if they think they have to.”

    I had seen most of the other people in my group led forward out of the room to come back in after a few minutes. They all looked rather insulted as they were escorted back. I was very nervous as I was lead out of the large dining room into a small sitting room.

    “Your name, please,” said an officer just inside the door. He held a clipboard with a list of names and numbers on it.

    I swallowed hard and tried to compose myself. “Valery,” I replied distantly as I surveyed the room. There was a man in one corner being questioned. I couldn’t see his face, but the officer questioning him looked impatient.

    “That’s all?” he asked incredulously.

    “Hmm?” I asked. I had been too busy watching the man in the corner to pay attention to my own officer.

    He rephrased his question, “Your full name, please.”

    Just as he finished this question, I saw the face of the man in the corner. “Mr. Everoux!” I shouted and started over to him. The officer gripped my arm firmly and said, “No miss, you may not go that way.”

    “But he is my tut- ... my traveling companion. I must speak with him. We have tickets for a train that is leaving in half an hour.”

    “I’m sorry miss. If you are still able to leave, we will be happy to make sure you get tickets to a later train.”

    “You don’t understand my family is waiting for us. It’s been so long!” I was near tears and would have fallen to my knees to beg him if he hadn’t been holding my arm. It had been a long day, and I was quite tired. He looked at me calmly and his face softened a little.

    “Miss,” he said gently, “You won’t be allowed to go yet, but if you will answer my questions truthfully we will all be able to go home sooner. Now, are you ready?”

    “I suppose.” I replied hesitatingly.

    “Good. Let’s start with a simple one. What is your full name?”

    “Why?” I asked suspiciously.

    “Because if you don’t tell me I’m going to call you Number 384.”

    “Well, if it doesn’t matter to you what the rest of my name is, you may call me Valery.”

    “Miss, I mean...Valery, would you be so kind as to allow me to write down the rest of your name so as not to get us both in a jam with the lieutenant?”

    He already knew my first name and I expected that Mr. Everoux had completely complied with them. However much Mr. Everoux trusted any and every law agency, I didn’t see a good reason for me to be giving my name out in a foreign country. I didn’t even know if there had been a real incident.

    “If we get in trouble I will explain to the lieutenant, but I will not give you my name.” I tried to respond in a reasonable, but firm voice. He seemed to accept that I wouldn’t be telling him, so we moved on to the next question.

    “Why were you at the Edwins’ garden party today?”

    “I was playing the piano.”

    “When did you arrive?”

    “You would have to ask my companion, I don’t keep a clock in my nonexistent pocket.” He ignored the snip at the end of my answer, making me instantly regret it, and continued.

    “Where were you when the first alarm was given?”

    “We were walking out the gate to catch our train.”

    “Where is the train headed?”


    “What was your final destination?”

    “Rockport, about fifteen miles northeast of Belfast.”

    “Sergeant Major Grahm!” called a rough, but not unkind voice. I started looking around to see who was walking in that direction, but was surprised to hear from right next to me, “Here, sir.” Sergeant Major Grahm was the officer questioning me.

    A tall man in uniform walked over. I usually feel tall when I am in company, but next to the Lieutenant I felt like a midget. His face was a long oval with ever active eyes and a nose just long enough to make an impression of even greater height by the way he had to look down and over it to see me.

    “If you would excuse us, Miss,” said the Lieutenant as he and Sergeant Major Grahm stepped to the side. I nodded and smiled. They spoke in low voices making it difficult to hear, but I understood enough to gather some small details. Apparently there had been a theft. An antique something or other had been taken. I heard the names Mr. Everoux and Ms. Lamn over and over, but I didn’t hear what was said about them. The Lieutenant walked off to speak with another officer and Sergeant Major Grahm came back to ask me more questions.

    “The Lieutenant said to tell you about the situation now.” He said to me. He paused a moment, then continued.

    “One of the guests that attended the party, had just returned from an excursion to Africa. She had bought a costly gold wristwatch engraved with scenes of Africa. The guest, Ms. Lamn, had taken the watch off of her wrist and put it into her small handbag, which was attached around her wrist. When she looked in to take the watch back out, it was gone. My group of investigators were then summoned, and we separated everyone in order to search and question them. The watch was found on that gentleman, Mr. Johann Everoux.
    “Do you have any information about any of these things?”

    “Yes, I can probably be of some assistance. You see, Mr. Everoux is my music tutor.”

    “Have you any knowledge of a tendency toward actions such as the occasional swipe from a purse?”

    “Mr. Everoux is a very decent man!” I exclaimed, astonished that anyone could think that he would do such a thing. “I have been closely acquainted with him for several years.”

    “Are you aware of the circumstances in which he obtained this watch?”

    “No, I haven’t the slightest idea how he came by it. I am, however, quite certain that he would tell you the exact circumstances, as long as it wouldn’t put anyone in harms way.”

    “Very well, shall we go ask him?”

    He offered me his arm and we proceeded to walk toward the lieutenant. The lieutenant gave his permission and joined us on our route to the back corner of the room, speaking softly to an officer as he passed. The officer managed to get all guests other than Mr. Everoux, Ms. Lamn and I out of the room. Then everyone crowded around Mr. Everoux where he was sitting, with a twisted smile on his face.

    “Mr. Everoux,” said the Lieutenant, “perhaps you would care to tell us your view on these happenings.”

    “Yes sir, I would like that very much.”

    “Jerold, get your pen.” Called the Lieutenant. “You may begin Mr. Everoux.”

    “Thank you sir. You see sir, my student and I have been traveling and performing in many countries for about a year and a half now. The Edwins happened to hear our last performance at the music hall in town, and asked us to provide entertainment for a garden party they would be hosting soon. We accepted and came to the party.”

    Mr. Everoux told them everything that had happened during the party. How we were going to leave when we met a lady who insisted that I have the watch. He accepted the watch, then seeing what time it was, he realized that we had stayed longer than we had supposed. We quickly took our leave of the Edwins and were walking out the gate when Ms. Lamn sounded the alarm.

    “When I found that you were looking for the watch that I had, I stepped forward. I was sure we were going to miss our train, when I saw that the clocks in this room were keeping a different time than the watch. We wouldn’t have needed to leave for another hour. So you see sir, I do not know how the watch came into the hands of the lady that gave it to me, but I am more than willing to give it back to Ms. Lamn.”

    Mr. Everoux had explained everything exactly as I remembered it. I listened more closely when he was explaining how he received the watch, since I hadn’t been there. I realized that the lady who gave it to him must have known it was stolen, or that somehow she had found it and decided she didn’t want to keep it. It was entirely possible that the watch had fallen out of Ms Lamn’s bag, but why would someone who found it just give it away?

    “Ms. Lamn,” I asked, “did you have the watch set for a different time than these clocks show?”

    “No, I had it set for the same time.”

    “Then whoever found or stole it must have reset it.” I said.

    The Lieutenant looked startled that I would be trying to figure out what had happened, but the Sergeant was quick to catch on.

    “And if someone wanted it to be away from the area before Ms. Lamn noticed its absence, they would give it to someone who would think that, according to the time on the watch, they would have to leave. They must have been hoping that they could follow and take it back.” The Sergeant concluded.

    “Colonel Ront, said the Lieutenant pointing to me, “take this young lady and find the woman who gave Mr. Everoux the watch.”

    Colonel Ront and I found her in one of the rooms where all the other guests were waiting. As soon as she saw me, she got a wild look in her eyes that seemed to show that she knew she had been found out. As soon as we had cleared the doorway, she ran toward the back door that opened onto an alley. Since the guests had been locked in rooms, there wasn’t anyone guarding the door. The Colonel went after her, but he wouldn’t be able to catch her alone if he lost sight of her. I hurried back to the Lieutenant and told him what had happened. He shouted orders and five officers under the Sergeant ran out to help Colonel Ront. I followed, hoping to see what they did to catch her. When I arrived in the alley, I heard a crashing sound and looked to both sides trying to see the commotion. As I turned to walk down the alley, I collided with the woman who had taken the watch. We both fell. I was not as quick to get up as she was, but I reached out and took hold of her foot as she started to run. She fell again, and this time I was up first. I reached for her arms, trying to keep them behind her back. I managed to hold her for a moment, but she twisted enough to loosen my grasp on her arms, then kicked behind my knee causing me to fall. I saw that as she started to turn the corner, a group of officers came and blocked both ends of the alley. They had been waiting at the end till she came through. I couldn’t help thinking that I had only slowed them down by keeping her in the alley so long. Mr. Everoux came and helped me to my feet.

    “Are you hurt?” He asked, his voice full of concern.

    “Not much, only my skin and my pride.”

    We walked back into the house. The lieutenant met us there, and thanked us for assisting them. I felt like I had only hindered.

    “If you still want to catch that train,” he said, “you had best be going now. I don’t think anyone reset the Edwins’ clocks.”

    I smiled and nodded.

    “Thank you for being so understanding,” Mr. Everoux replied, then, looking at me, “shall we?”

    We sat in silence, I looking out the window and Mr. Everoux looking at the back of the seat in front of him. To converse on a train like this, one had to shout to be heard; and when someone decided to shout a conversation with their companion, everyone else heard exactly what they said. I couldn’t hold my question in a moment longer.

    “How is it that I manage to astound every person I meet, so much that I am astounded at their astonishment?”

    I was looking at Mr. Everoux, but out of the corners of my eyes I could see astounded faces leaning in to get a little better listening position. “I haven’t even met these people and they are already following the same routine of feelings,” I thought to myself.

    When Mr. Everoux and I arrived at the train station closest to home, I had a hard time keeping myself composed. Exhausted though I was, I wanted to run as fast as I could to the outside air. Naturally, however, we had to find our luggage and navigate through the crowd of people who were seemingly just as eager as I to get out of their situation. When it was finally our turn to show our passports, I handed mine to the guard without really looking at him.

    I was quite startled when the security guard hugged me and said, “Valery! It is so good to have you back!”

    I realized after a moment that this was my brother Olliver, and hugged him back.

    “I have to let you pass now and get back to work, but I’ll see you later this evening when I get home.” His happy looks were gone now and he looked almost as sad as he had looked happy a moment before.

    “Ollie, are you alright?”

    “I’m fine, Val, but you might not be when you get back. Father will explain and you’ll see for yourself. I’m not supposed to talk about it here.”

    “Well, I’ll just have to go see for myself then,” I said, trying to sound cheerful.
    Thankful People: Dynamic Juggernaut
      CommentAuthorCurly Que
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2010
    Any and all input is welcome.
    Yay, I came to read it! :-) Great job, keep working on being realistic.

    <3y Anemone
      CommentAuthorCurly Que
    • CommentTimeDec 20th 2010
    Very nice. :) Just one question. What is the significance of the words "Pass It On" at the beginning? Is it the name of a chapter or something?
    D.J. has been here.
      CommentAuthorCurly Que
    • CommentTimeJan 16th 2011
    It is talking about the watch.