The Adventure of the Mysterious Benefactor

Part 19

by Stacey (SST205 at aol.com)
Outside, the girl was sanding away at a spot from which the paint had been peeling.
"Deidre, the walls of this house are thin enough, I believe."
She jumped. "Oh--Mister Holmes. Sorry--it's just that the more I sand, the more paint comes off."
Holmes nodded. "I don't doubt it. This project is going to take quite a while, if I'm not mistaken."
"Mmm-hmm." Deidre agreed, glancing roofward.
Wiggins slowly made his way across the slope of the roof, while Tennyson zipped ahead of him, his large blue eyes on his computer screen.
The dark-skinned boy stopped and braced himself, being careful not to look down. "Uh--Tennyson--did you find the leak yet?"
"Whurr-urr."
Wiggins heaved a sigh.
The hoverchair turned around, and his younger friend's brows drew together. "Whurr-beee-urrr-urrr."
Wiggins grinned. "Yeah, little buddy, I'm okay. If I fall, maybe God'll send a couple of guardian angels to catch me."
"Bur-er-whurrr-urrr."
The older boy looked over his friend's small frame. "Thanks, Tennyson--but I'd probably crush you. Your aunt would never let me in the house again, and I'd never get anymore of those awesome buns she makes with the honey in 'em."
Tennyson began to laugh so hard his whole body shook--he was barely able to reach up with his left hand and squeeze the bulb of the horn attached to his hoverchair's safety cage.
A couple of hours later, Tennyson had found the leak and Wiggins had sealed it. Deidre and Holmes had sanded the paint off of the front of the house and begun to repaint it, and Watson had oiled everything that squeaked or creaked, as well as renailing every loose board throughout the house.
"Bravo, all!" Miss Fayre cheered as she came out the front door.
"Miss Fayre, we're not halfway done, yet." Deidre said, wiping her brow with the back of her hand.
"I'm cheering on the process," Miss Fayre answered, glancing over to where Wiggins was coming down the ladder from the roof with Tennyson matching his slow pace beside him. "Everythng all right up there, lads?"
"Booh-weep! Booh-weep!" went Tennyson's horn.
Wiggins heaved a sigh of relief when both of his feet were on the ground. Looking upward, his lips moved silently in a "Thank You," then he said aloud, "Oh, everything's okay, now. Tennyson found the leak and I sealed it, but it couldn't have gone fast enough for me."
Deidre snickered.
"Well, then perhaps you are all ready for lunch," Miss Fayre said.
A couple of honks came from her nephew's horn.
"I know I am." Wiggins said. As if on cue, his stomach growled.
"That makes three of us," Deidre chimed in. Turning to Miss Fayre, she asked, "Is there anything I can help you with?"
"I only need to serve lunch, dear."
The woman turned to Watson. "I'm terribly sorry--I fear I haven't anything to offer you."
"Not to worry, Miss," Watson said with a shake of his head. "I haven't a stomach to feed as Holmes and these young people do. Besides, there's some oil left--I believe I'll go around the back of the house and treat myself to a bit of lubrication--some of my joints are beginning to squeak."
That brought laughter from Deidre and Wiggins, a couple of sound honks from Tennyson's horn, and even a chuckle from Holmes.
"By all means, indulge yourself, my friend. We'll see you in a while."
"Righto," Watson said cheerfully, heading for the back of the house where he'd left the oil can.
The others followed Miss Fayre inside.
Around a table near the stove, five mismatched chairs had been set. There was a stack of bowls on the stove by a large, tarnished chrome pot.
"Please sit down." Miss Fayre invited, heading for the stove.
Wiggins lifted Tennyson out of his hoverchair and put him in a seat near the head of the table.
"Deidre, could you set the bowls on the table for me?" Miss Fayre said as she carefully placed a bowl on the small bit of counterspace by the stove. "Use the dishtowel there to hold it; it's hot."
Holmes stood at the head of the table until all of the bowls were set on it. When Miss Fayre came over, he pulled out the chair.
Tennyson's aunt grinned and blushed a little, then sat down. After pushing her chair back in, Holmes went around and sat down opposite Tennyson. Deidre sat next to Tennyson, and Wiggins took a seat next to Holmes.
"There, now," Miss Fayre said, grasping her nephew's hand with one of her own and laying her other one on Wiggins'. "Shall we?"
She bowed her head and closed her eyes, her nephew and guests following suit.
"Gracious Father in Heaven, we thank You for this day. Thank You for Your provision of sustenance, and for good friends to surround us. Please bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies, and our bodies to Your service. In Jesus' Name, Amen."
"Amen," repeated her guests.
Tennyson nodded his blond head firmly.
While the group ate, they discussed how far along they were on their project, what they still needed to do, and when would be a good time to do it.
"So then, Saturday would be a good day for all?" Holmes questioned.
Yes, sir." Deidre agreed.
"I'm grateful to you," Miss Fayre said with a smile, "--using your winter holiday this way."
"It's the least we could do." Deidre assured her. "You're always so nice to us."
"For sure." Wiggins agreed, leaning back in his chair and patting his stomach.
Tennyson trembled in a silent giggle and chuckles came from the others as well. All of the sudden they heard:
"Holmes, come quickly!"
"Watson!" Holmes cried, standing abruptly. "Excuse me, Miss Fayre."
He hurried to the door, with Deidre and Wiggins on his heels. Tennyson's aunt stood, but stayed with her nephew.
When they got outside, they saw someone in a purple cloak and hood getting into the driver's side of a car parked outside the fence. Holmes saw a gleam of gold at the figure's wrist as she placed her hands on the steering wheel. Within two seconds the vehicle was in the air and speeding off.
Watson, who was standing just outside the gate, turned to Holmes. "I'm sorry, old chap. I had just finshed my 'meal' as it were, and saw her heading down the walk as I came around the corner of the house. She must have heard me, because she ran. That was when I called for you."
"How do you know it was a she?" Deidre asked.
"The hem of her dress came down just below her cloak," Watson told her.
Holmes nodded. "--and I saw her hands. I have yet to see--and I sincerely hope I never do--a man with nails of that length done in red polish."
"I got a look at her too as she got into the car." said Wiggins from where he stood on the front step. "If that was a disguise, it was a really good one, 'cause I've never seen legs like that on a guy."
Deidre, who stood beside him, smacked his arm. "Wiggins!"
"Ow! What, it was just an observation!"
The girl looked down and shook her head, then froze. "Oh--Mister Holmes--"
The detective turned and looked down. On the step by Deidre's feet was a white envelope.



On to Part 20!
Part 1,Part 2,Part 3,Part 4,Part 5,Part 6,Part 7,Part 8,Part 9,Part 10,Part 11,Part 12,Part 13,Part 14,Part 15,Part 16,Part 17, andPart 18.
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