It was a pleasant day in March to which I woke up. Looking at myself in the mirror, I noticed that I had aged. At forty, my hair had nearly gone totally white. There were dark pockets under my eyes that had probably been formed because of lack of sleep. I had a round knobby nose and flabby lips. There was a mole on the my right cheek. A light beard had appeared on my face. I had a set of deep piercing green eyes and bushy eyebrows. My blonde hair was straight and long. At six feet five inches tall, with broad shoulders and barrel chested, I looked unlike any detective on the force. Over the years, I had gained quite a reputation for my grey cells, powers of observation and acumen. Detective work is fiercly competitive and many of my counterparts were discreetly jealous of my abilities and success. I have been working for Scotland Yard for the past ten years. Luckily I have no wife and other distractions. My soul passion over the years has been my work.
The mobile phone rang. I glanced at the number. Inspector Morse was calling me up at seven in the morning. Must be urgent I thought and thats why he was calling me up so early.
As an englishman born and raised in London, my mother instilled within me a discipline to rise up early in the morning and taking a walk when the air was cool and fresh.
I answered the mobile phone and the hoarse and loud voice of Inspector Morse filtered in.
“ A rich aristocrat named Earl Mulberry came to Scotland Yard today with a most strange matter. He claims that he suspects that something has happened to his sister. According to him someone else resembling his sister is posing as her. He suspects that his brother in law is upto some hanky panky.”.
“ I have forwarded him your address and he will be coming to meet you around nine in the morning today” said Morse.
After thanking me, Inspector Morse said good bye and our conversation ended. I hurriedly dressed up in a pair of blue jeans, a white shirt and a light sweater. Mrs. Haskins, the cook made me my breakfast which contained a cup of tea and a few slices of brown bread and butter.
Every case that I had solved had their own unique peculiarities and this one seemed to be no different from them. Over the years, I had tried to acquaint myself with the workings of a criminal mind and how it operated. I had also studied aspects of body language and it had helped judge people. Of course observation is key to reading any human being and to solve crime.
I had been sitting in the drawing room puffing a cigar anxiously awaiting Lord Patrick Mulberrys arrival. At exactly nine the front door rang. He was a rather short fellow, about Five feet five inches.
Must have been fifty or a little more. He stood rather erect and with his head rather stiff. With a receding hairline, a aquiline nose, rather large hands, large intense and emotional laden brown eyes, with a habit of jerking his head rather awkwardly at times. He was thin and wiry with a rather weak handshake. I could tell from his fidgeting about that he was nervous and anxious. He seated in the leather recliner placed before mine in the drawing room.
At long last he finally spoke. His voice was laced with emotion as he said:
“ My sisters name is Betty and she is about three years younger than me.”
He forwarded me a picture of hers holding hands with her husband at their marriage. She was about five feet six inches tall, with beautiful blue eyes, a mop of golden curls, well shaped lips and their was a distint mole on her left cheek. Slender and slim, she was a beautiful sight to behold. Her husband standing next to him was about six feet tall, with broad shoulders, well built, a square jaw jutting out, with eyes which were small and set deep into the face.
“ She was married to Adam Phillips, a straggling actor, about eight months back. They had met at a dinner party and my sister had fallen madly in love with him. I had tried to talk sense into her but she had been headstrong and you know that when the heart rules the mind, all sense of rationality and logic is often lost” he said.
“Well after the marriage, my sister, Betty, asked me that I hand her over the documents of the estate that were hers rightly as mentioned in the will left by my father. And I did as she asked. It is forty acres of prime land in Dorset. Well I was talking to a estate agent about a four days ago and he told me that she had sold off twenty acres. It had been sold to a man my father despised. Albert Benny is a rich businessman who had earnesly wanted my father to sell the land off to him but my father had not been interested. He had vowed to get it from him one day and my father had laughed at him. None of us had wanted anything to do with him especially my sister. So I am amazed at what made her do what she did. I went to pay her a visit and ask her why she had done what she had. When I went to meet her, she was all alone sitting at the dinner table eating toast and jam. It seemed to be a bit awkward for she had never like toast let alone jam. And then I noticed her eating with her left hand whilst my sistear is right handed. Apart from that, I noticed her wearing a silver bracelet and yet my sister never liked silver. My sister always calls me 'Pat'; thats what she has been calling me all her life and yet today she was calling me “Mulberry” and I was a little shocked. It is these observations that have led me to believe that something is terribly amiss” he added.
“ A most fascinating case, sir” I said to him. “However I assure you that I will get to the bottom of this case” I assured him.
He looked at me and forwarded me his contact number. I asked him for the address where his sister lived.
“ May I keep the photograph” I asked pointing towards the picture of his sister and brother in law and he assented.
He then got up to leave and I saw him off.
It was nearly eleven. I hurried off to a person who was an expert in makeup and disguises. On this particular day, I disguised myself as an old man with a stoop. Wearing a long black coat, a white shirt and grey trousers, I walked forth with the aid of a crutch. Harold, the man who had helped transform me into an old and pitable person with white hair and a face lined with creases had done an excellent job.
First of all I went to my office to meet Inspector Morse and had it not been my voice, my disguise wouldnt have given me away. I asked Inspector Morse to plant some plain clothed police outside Adam Phillips residence. They were to tail both Adam Phillips and the woman acting as my clients sister.
I gave him the picture of Adam Phillips and Betty and told him to have copies made and distributed amongst detectives who were then required to move around at various theatres in London and across England asking about Adam Phillips.
In the meanwhile disguised as an old man, I went down to various theatres asking them if they had met Adam Phillips. I showed them the picture and there was little or no success.
There were hundreds of thousands of struggling actors. However just as I was about to give up, I got a call from Inspector Morse, that one of the detectives had had luck. According to them Adam Phillips was a new actor but one without luck so far. However another interesting discovery was that they even recognised our girl Betty, only according to them she looked exactly like a broadway and theatre acress named Kelly Wilson. Very few of them knew about Adams whereabouts or his marriage.
I had just reached home when I received a call from Inspector Morse who rang up to tell me that one of the detectives named John Sykes had tailed Betty or Kelly Wilson down to a run down flat downtown. He gave me the address and told me that she had spent about three hours there. The house belonged to a Mr. Wilford Bremer.
Next day, disguised as a film director, I reached Mr. Bremers residence. I rang the door bell. And an old man with a sneer on his face opened the door and asked me
“ Who may ye be and whats your line of business?” he asked me. I politely introduced myself as some one interested in casting Kelly in a movie. For a while he looked me up and down before asking me to come inside.
A dingy corridor led into a sparsely furnished drawing room which had a photograph of a woman who looked exactly like Betty. Of course it was Kellys photograph.
Wilford motioned me to sit down and I sat opposite him on a
sofa. He asked me if I would like something to drink and I politely refused.
He then broke out speaking “ Kellys a good lass, she is. She has been doing good off late. Her mama died when she was twelve years old and she had always wanted to act. And now shes acting at the theatre. I am proud of her. She comes to visit me sometimes.”
“ Dont you go and watch her,” I asked. And he looked my way and said “No, never had any interest in theatre or movies”.
“ Is there some way I can contact her?” I asked and he gave me a mobile number.
There was nothing more to learn from him and I went straight to my office at Scotland Yard. Inspector Morse got up as he watched me walk in. He came to me and asked whether I had had any luck and I told him about Kelly and her resemblance to Betty.
“If what Lord Mulberry says is true, then it is important to find what happened to Betty” I said.
I somehow suspected that the businessman Albert Benny was behind the whole act though I did not know why. And then I decided to break in and search the premises when Kelly and Adam Phillips were not home.
A day after, one of the plain clothes man called me up to tell me that the house was empty. It was around nine in the night. I smeared my face with black paint. Wearing black clothes and rubber shoes armed with a gun, a torch and a pin to pick the lock if needed, I approached the house on foot.There was a small brick wall that I scaled easily and jumped onto the grass turf of the small garden. I slowly made to the front door and opened it easily using the hair pin I had brought along. Luckily there were no alarms that rang out.
At the lower floor, there were two bedrooms, a TV lounge, a drawing room, a washroom and a kitchen. It was the smaller room in which there lay a writing desk with a shelf full of books in a corner. I wore gloves so as not to leave a fingerprint. As I went through the documents placed in a drawer I came across a letter addressed to Adam by Albert Benny.
So far so good. Kelly has acted her part well. And no one suspects that something is amiss. Your plan to marry Betty and to replace her with a look alike was a stroke of genius. Whilst Betty lies imprisoned in the attic of her own house, you have successfully managed to coerce her to sign the sales deed and as a consequence, after long last I have been able to buy a portion of the land that her father, the late Earl John Miller had refused to sell to me. It is prime estate thats what it is.
Rest assured you and Kelly will get your due share of money.
However there is much more to be done. I expect that in the next day or two you will dispose of Betty. Dont leave any traces or clues.
I quickly stashed the letter in a pocket and using my torch, I made my way quickly to the upper room. As I alighted on the upper floor, I made my way into a room towards my left. The curtains were drawn and I turned on the light. I saw a small ladder running upwards into an attic.
And I quickly climbed up into it. It was pretty dark inside and I flashed my torch left, right and center before I noticed a young woman tightly bound with ropes.
She had a piece of cloth stashed in her mouth. When she looked at me, she looked petrified but I told her that I was a detective. I quickly unbound her and removed the piece of cloth placed in her mouth. She looked exhausted and tired. I placed a finger on my lips and motioned her to move slowly downstairs. I used my mobile phone to contact the plainclothes policemen stationed about the house. All was clear and there was no sign of Adam and Kelly as yet. We hurriedly made our way out of the house and into the safety of my vehicle.
The plain clothed policemen and detectives were ordered by me to move in and arrest Adam and Kelly. I called up Lord Patrick Mulberry and told him that I had recovered her sister and that he had been right about something being terribly amiss.
Later that night when Adam and Kelly came home, they were shell shocked when they found police and detectives swarming all over their place. Once in custody, it did not take long for them both to break up and reveal the truth.
Adam Phillips was really the grandson of Albert Benny. They had been discussing property when Albert talked about how he had always wanted to buy property belonging to the late Earl John Miller.
Being a socialite Bettys pictures often graced local British newspapers and by coincidence she resembled a theatre actress called Kelly. Adam had noticed this immediately and his evil mind construed a plan which involved throwing a lavish dinner for inviting all the notable big wigs in England including Lord Mulberry and Betty. Of course it was to be financed by Albert Finney. Adams role would be to win the heart of Betty. And since Adam was exceptionally good looking, well mannered and suave, he had no problems in befriending Betty. He was well to do but he was exceptionally greedy. And when Albert had told him, how Betty was a heir to the property worth millions of pounds, his mouth had watered. It was Adams then who hatched the idea and plan of weaving a bait about the unsuspecting Betty. Adams had driven her about in a rolls royce that belonged to Albert and bought her expensive clothes, gifts and jewellery.
Later on he had taken her to expensive restaurants, to the theatre and other places. He had been a perfect gentleman and Betty had been impressed a great deal by him. Four months down the road he had proposed to her and she had accepted. After that things fell into place after marriage. Six months down the road, Adams had drugged Betty and tied and bound her up in the attic. Meanwhile the actress Kelly who bore a great resemblance to Betty, played her role very successfully.
In the subsequent trial that followed, the letter written by Albert Finney to Adams was instrumental in convicting all the three main actors in this sordid drama.
Had it not been for the keen observation made by Lord Mulberry, Betty might have been killed and yet no one would have suspected anything wrong.