The Adventure of the Mysterious Benefactor

Part 20

by Stacey (SST205 at
"Don't touch it, Deidre," Holmes cautioned. "Watson, would you, please?"
Certainly, Holmes."
Watson came through the gate and up the walk. He picked up the envelope with one hand, held it flat in his palm and moved his other hand back and forth over it. The small screen on the back of the moving hand glowed as he did so. After turning the envelope over and doing the same on the other side, he looked at Holmes apologetically.
"Sorry, Sherlock, no readable prints."
Holmes pinched his lower lip. "Mm. She either held the envelope at its edges or had a handkerchief in the hand that held it. At any rate, we know our 'perpetrator' is a she. Come inside, all. We must report our findings to the Fayres."
When they went back inside, they found that Miss Fayre had left her place at the table and was heading toward the door.
"I could tell by the look in my nephew's eyes that he desperately wanted to know what was going on out there."
Wiggins went over to his younger friend and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Well, buddy, we found out that the person who's been leaving your aunt the--uh--presents--is a woman."
"A woman?" Miss Fayre asked. Her nephew's eyebrows drew together, as if he were trying to think of who it could possibly be.
"Yes, Miss Fayre," Watson said, "--and here, I assume, is her latest contribution to your savings."
Their hostess took the envelope from the compudroid's outstretched hand. Slowly, she opened it and removed the contents.
"Oh, my!" she cried, stumbling.
Tennyson sat straight up and gazed with concern at his aunt. Wiggins stepped forward, and Holmes placed a hand on Miss Fayre's shoulder.
"Miss Fayre,are you all right?" the detective asked.
The woman swallowed hard and nodded, a tear coursing down her cheek. "Y-yes, I'm all right."
She looked at Holmes. "Sir, this--this is a two-hundred-pound note!"
"My word!" Watson cried. "Someone's feeling quite generous, eh, Holmes?"
"Indeed." the detective said, stroking his chin a moment in thought. "Miss Fayre, these -- er -- presents -- they come most often in the afternoons -- around lunch or teatime, do they not?"
Tennyson's aunt drew a deep breath to regain her composure. "Actually, Mister Holmes, they have always come in the afternoons -- sometimes in the early evening."
Deep inside his pre-programmed memory banks, Watson recognized the hard glitter that sparked in Holmes' eyes when he became excited.
"Sherlock, what is it?"
"Two things I have observed while on this case have come together in my mind, Watson. If they do correspond with one another -- and I pray they do -- we shall have the identity of Miss Fayre's mysterious benefactor."
His gaze shifted from Tennyson to Deidre and Wiggins, and finally to Miss Fayre. "Would it be all right if we delayed the work on the house until next Saturday, Miss Fayre?" he asked, gesturing toward Deidre, Wiggins and Watson.
The woman's eyes were wide with confusion. "Why, of course, Mister Holmes."
"Very good." the detective said with a nod. "Kids, this is what I want you to do."

Holmes was very secretive about his thoughts; he would not even divulge them to Watson. When the compudroid asked why, his roommate would only say that he feared Watson's soft-heartedness would cause the compudroid to divulge information too soon. Watson used to wonder aloud why Holmes said such things, arguing that he was a robot and had no emotions much less a heart. Holmes would only grin and gaze knowingly into the compudroid's eyes, so Watson gave the argument up.
The next week went by very slowly for the Irregulars. Deidre and Wiggins were given stern looks or asked if they wished to share the 'interesting information' about which they were whispering in front of the class. The two declined and apologized, saying that they were concerned about an upcoming event. Miss Fayre received calls from two of Tennyson's teachers, inquiring whether she knew if he was all right. He had been caught several times staring off into space, when he normally would be either poring over his schoolbooks or a science journal he'd brought along to read for when he'd finished his assignments. Miss Fayre assured them that he was fine, just probably concerned about a pressing family matter. She hoped it would be resolved by the next week.
Finally, Saturday arrived. Holmes, Watson, Deidre and Wiggins arrived at the Fayres' home at eleven that morning. As Watson parked the car, they saw the youngest Irregular zip from where he'd been waiting near the house, over the fence, and land on the sidewalk. Immediately after they stepped from the car, they were barraged with:
"Bee wurr beee! Burreewee--"
Holmes reached over and held Tennyson's hands. Deidre giggled, and Wiggins grinned.
"Tennyson, please--Deidre and Wiggins have been firing questions at me all the way here. Let us go in, and I shall inform you of my plans."
He let go of Tennyson's hands. The boy turned his hoverchair around and coasted back over the fence. Deidre opened the gate and gave him a mock glare. "Show-off."
The boy glanced over his shoulder at her and grinned widely.
"There you all are!"
Everyone looked to see Miss Fayre standing at the cottage door. "Come in here--you'll all catch your death of cold!"
Holmes let out a low chuckle. Tennyson's aunt seemed to have forgotten that Dr. Watson was a compudroid who did not feel the cold. Holmes also noted the enthusiasm in her voice, which matched that of his young friends and quite possibly had caused her to forget.
When everyone was inside and seated, Holmes began giving directions.
"Watson, you station yourself behind the house. Deidre, go around the side of the house next door. Wiggins, around the side of the house diagonal to this. All of you are to keep an eye out for our lady friend's car--hopefully, she'll show.
"After she makes her usual drop and starts back to her car, all of you are to head for the front of the house."
Everyone he'd spoken to nodded.
Holmes then felt a tug on his sleeve. He looked down into Tennyson's face, on which he read the question, "What about me?"
The detective got on his knee and looked the boy in the eye. "Tennyson, I want you to stay here in the house with me. As a matter of fact, I want you to stay right where you are until I go out the door, and then to come slowly. Do you understand?"
The boy's brows drew together quizzically.
"Promise me, son."
Tennyson closed his eyes a moment, then looked back up at him and nodded.
"Very good."
Holmes stood and turned to the others. "You may go now, my friends -- keep you eyes open."
Everyone went toward the door. Deidre looked over her shoulder before she went out, and saw her younger friend looking quite disappointed.

On to Part 21!
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, andPart 19.
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