The Adventure of the Mysterious Benefactor

Part 23

by Stacey (SST205 at aol.com)
Wiggins' jaw dropped. Deidre gasped, and Watson could have been mistaken for a statue.
"M-M-Mrs.--" Deidre stammered.
"Fayre?!?" Wiggins managed to get out.
Tennyson noted that he stopped breathing at hearing the name. He wondered if his hearing aids were adjusted right. The next second he felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up to see his aunt next to him.
"Lynette?" she cried. "You?"
The woman in the yard sighed heavily, her shoulders drooping. Slowly, she reached up and pushed back the hood of her cloak. A waterfall of light brown hair fell down her back.
"Yes, Caroline." the woman said, turning and focusing her blue-green eyes on her sister in law. "Me."
"B-but--"
"Ladies---" Holmes said quietly, raising a hand. "Shall we take this conversation inside?"
Mrs. Fayre looked her sister-in-law in the eye. Caroline Fayre met the gaze, then lowered her eyes and stepped to the side. Tennyson's mother came up the walk and climbed the steps. For a moment, she stopped beside the boy. When he looked up at her, she continued into the house.
Once inside, Mrs Fayre sat uneasily on the far end of the couch. Her sister-in-law took her place on the little stool, and Deidre sat on the floor next to her. Wiggins stood near the door, his hand on Tennyson's shoulder. Wiggins could tell his younger friend was breathing a little funny.
"Now then , Madam," Holmes said, standing at the end of the couch opposite Tennyson's mother, "I feel there is no need to ask why you left the money. You wanted to be sure your son was cared for after your husband banished him from the house."
The woman on the couch gulped and her eyes widened. "Yes...."
"Forgive me, madam--Tennyson told me about the morning after his thirteenth birthday."
Mrs. Fayre nodded, her face reddening. "Yes." she said in a whisper. She clenched her fist so hard it shook. "That filthy, no good--"
She looked up at Holmes. "I could see the disappointed look in my son's eyes every time Ashton mentioned the surgery. I knew Tennyson was happy as he was. I asked Ashton if we couldn't skip the operations and let our son be himself, but--"
Deidre closed her eyes. "Oh, Lord, she loves him. I think she always has. "
There was a silence as Mrs. Fayre gritted her teeth. After taking a deep breath, she continued.
"The morning after the party, I woke to find Ashton out of the bed. When I got dressed and was ready to go downstairs, I found the bedroom door locked! The cretin had locked me in! He didn't want me trying to persuade him to change his mind about the surgery--"
"--or to let Tennyson know that you were on his side?" Holmes pondered aloud, pinching his lower lip.
The mother of the youngest Irregular nodded, her jaw set. "I started to pound the door and shout, but then I heard Ashton shouting himself. I heard the words, 'Get out--misfit--' and 'freak', and I knew he was yelling at Tennyson.
"I pounded the door harder, screaming at the top of my lungs. I didn't even hear Ashton coming up the stairs. The door was unlocked and open before I could move, and I was almost pushed down.
"'Well, Lynette--', he said in a tone like he'd won some kind of victory--'--Your precious baby boy is gone--zipped out of this house like he couldn't wait to get out."
Mrs. Fayre drew a deep breath as if to compose herself.
Where he stood by Tennyson, Wiggins thought, "Man, what an awful lot of stuff to get off your chest."
The woman continued. "'You beast!' I screamed at him. 'Liar! I heard you tell him to get out!' Then I had what I thought was a brilliant idea.
"'I'll tell the news.' I said--'News on Demand--they'll love to hear what you've done to your thirteen-year-old disabled son!"
She drew another deep breath. Holmes thought she must be trying not to lose herself in a fit of temper--and so far he admired her composure.
"'Why, Lynette--the boy was deranged. He tried to run me down with his hoverchair when I told him it was time to go for the operation. I opened the front door and ran out to escape him. I managed to hide in the hedge, and I saw him speed out over New London.'
"I was seething--but there was nothing I could do, and I knew it. A thick hedge seperated us from the houses on either side. Not only did they block our neighbors' view, but they were a very effective sound barrier.
"'Besides,' Ashton said with a sneer I would have liked to have ripped off his face, 'Everyone with a--defective child--has them sent for surgery. No one wants them to be different, Lynette--no one--and no one would blame me for this. I have society on my side.'"
Deidre shivered. "Tennyson's such a sweet kid," she thought. "How could he have a father like that?"
Mrs Fayre continued her story. "'Forget society!'" I remembered shouting. "He's my son--and I'm going to find him and bring him home!'
"I made ready to shove past him, but he stepped aside. 'Fine, Lynette! Go--bring him back here, I dare you--but things happen to rich men's sons, you know--kidnappings, things of that sort--one day you might wake up and find him gone again."
Wiggins looked down at Tennyson. The boy's face had gone pale. Wiggins' own stomach turned over a few times. "What kind of a guyis this? Man, he never should have fathered a kid."
"I wanted to kill him." the woman on the couch said with a tear in her voice and one running down her cheek. "If I hadn't gone down the stairs and out the front door--I might have."
She inhaled deeply yet again, then looked up with a start as her sister-in-law lowered a saucer with a cup of tea on it onto the coffee table in front of her.
"Thank you, Caroline." Mrs Fayre said to her, gingerly picking the cup up by the handle and sipping the tea a bit. "I wonder how you and my husband could possibly be twins."
She stared into her teacup and sighed heavily, then went on.
"I looked for what seemed like hours, searching everywhere. I was frantic; then , like a bolt of lightning it hit me--Caroline.
"Caroline and Tennyson both told me he'd visited here." she said, smiling weakly at her sister-in-law. "He was always so happy when he came back from here, and...I was sure he felt safe here.
"As fast as I could, I flew here in the car. At first I was going to take my son home--I'd show Ashton who the freak really was--"
She pursed her lips and stopped. "--but then Ashton's threat came back to me. He could have my boy kidnapped; he could even take him and have him operated on against his will!
"No--I couldn't take Tennyson home. If he was here, this was where he would stay."
She looked toward one of the front windows. "Parking the car a little way down the road, I came as quietly as I could into the yard. Imagine my relief whn I peered in the window and saw Tennyson by the fireplace, my dear sister-in-law holding his hand."
She looked up at Caroline, who had taken a seat on the arm of the couch. "I knew he would never be a burden to her, even though she had so little."
"Never." Caroline said with a smile and glance at ther nephew.
"So, I went home and told Ashton I couldn't find Tennyson anywhere. He laughed and said that he was probably mistaken for a UFO, and that the military had shot him down."
Wiggins saw Deidre scowl darkly and clench both fists.
"I don't know what kept me from scratching his eyes out or strangling him--I really don't. By some miracle I was able to keep on my "happy" mask--smiling and talking with all of the Fayre Technologies business associates and making sure the buisness ran...."
She looked at the floor. "Deep inside, I had the comfort and satisfaction of knowing my baby was safe. That's what kept me going."

On to Part 24!
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,Part 18,Part 19,Part 20,Part 21, andPart 22.
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