Read the previous part here: Whodunit (Part I)
The story so far:
Jeeves & his master discuss the fire that gutted down the F.S.B. Was it an accident? Was it arson? Read on to find out!
There was a slight pause (or had I imagined it?) before Jeeves continued.
“Not quite, sir. Most of the money went into clearing the debt. The surplus money was being utilized for the upkeep of the school; for instance, some of it went into buying the turpentine for polishing the wooden floors & doors.”
I had a look on my face that said you-must-be-joking. He had a look on his face that said I’m-not-kidding.
I’d seen that look earlier. I knew what that look meant.
Every year the students that graduate out of Butler School are given an opportunity to choose a butler-name for themselves. Most of them chose Jeeves – after the character made immortal by P.G.Wodehouse – for themselves; only a few of them live up to the name. John Smith graduated at the top of his class & the rest, you would think, is history, right?
Wrong. As it turns out, John Smith (now Jeeves) had no desire to be in the employ of any random Mr. Thomas, Richard or Harrison, Esq. He wanted to serve the institution that had made him the gentleman’s gentleman he was.
He wanted to be The Head-Butler at the Finishing School for Butlers – or Butler School as it was known among it’s incumbents & patrons alike.
I must mention here that a lot of people (including yours truly) were surprised by his choice. I mean, with the kind of honors he had when he graduated, the world was his oyster. He could have named his employer & they would have hired him without so much as batting an eyelid.
But here he was, sitting silent, yet firm on his decision.
So we hired him – as junior butler, of course. We didn’t want him to get too big for his shoes, did we? That he eventually made his way up the ladder was no surprise for any of us.
So you see, when Jeeves has THAT look on his face, you know he’s not kidding. Shaken (but not stirred) I prodded on, still hopeful…
“So you’re trying to tell me the two incidents were totally unrelated?”
“Indeed I am, sir.”
“And you expect me to believe that?”
“It is not my place to decide for you, sir.”
“Jeeves, I give up. All the evidence either seems circumstantial or superficial but I am inclined to believe that there was mischief involved.”
“I am not at liberty to comment upon it, sir.”
It was clear he was not going to give up easily. Still, I had one last ace up my sleeve.
“Okay, since you are clearly not helping…” – he half-raised his hands in protest – “…wait, hear me out. I have a theory. You don’t have to confirm it or deny it. Just hear me out, okay?”
“I don’t know who the large-hearted, large-pocketed anonymous donor was, but I have a suspicion he was working in cohorts with you guys…”
“Alright, I meant to say that he was working in cohorts with the management.
“I’m not quite sure, but this is my theory. The surplus money could have been used to buy anything. It was used to buy turpentine for a reason – to commit arson. Whoever was plotting this – and I use the word ‘plotting’ in the vaguest sense of the word – knew all along that the smallest fire could cause the whole place to be gutted down instantly!” I finished with a flourish & looked triumphantly at him.
“Good theory, sir. However, there’s one small glitch.”
Impossible. I knew I had covered all the bases.
“And what would that be?”
“The polishing is an annual ritual here at the Butler School. You probably wouldn’t know about it, but it was started shortly after you left the school. It was, after all, the cheapest option when it came to feasible upkeep of the institution.”
Damn. I hadn’t factored that at all.
“You win.” I sighed. “You know, Jeeves, I was so sure that there was mischief involved…”
“We often believe things because we want to believe them, sir.”
“Hypothetically though, it would have made for a great whodunnit, wouldn’ it?”
“Indeed it would, sir.”
“But it seems that our story lacks a very important detail – the perpetrator.”
“Yes. A person who could be justifiably linked to the motive & opportunity & hence would actually perpetrate the crime – you know like the person who finally gets exposed at the climax of a good mystery novel.”
“You are right, sir.”
“Who do you think would be an ideal perpetrator in this story, Jeeves?”
“I’d go with what they usually go with, sir.”
“It’s quite simple, sir. I’d say the butler did it.”
And now, I welcome your bouquets & brickbats. :)