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THE CURSE OF THE ZULU BAY PEARLS
A Mini Mystery
Reed Shull was in her glory! It was her first official dinner party she was going to give in her new home.
Reed had saved all her life to own a cottage on the beach, and this one on ZuluBay was just perfect for her.
The cottage was a five bedroom four bath dream come true when it went on the market last September. The house was very quaint with its pink weathered shingles, lavender shutters, and white ginger breading in all corners of the wrap around porch. Reed could not resist this ideal homestead.
Reed was mostly fond of the back porch that looked over the sparkling bay. She was delighted to see visiting the house for the first time that both the formal living room and dinning room also sported huge floor to ceiling windows out to the back porch. The French doors that allowed access to the porch’s view of the bay couldn’t have been more charming.
Reed had invited just a few particular people for her first dinner. She had everything set on the table just right; down to the shell shaped place cards where each guest should sit.
Reed had placed herself at the head of one end of the table across from the new man in her life she was seeing. Ray Rinkcliff was everything many women would want. He was tall, handsome, with dark olive skin, and his jet black hair was always freshly trimmed.
Ray didn’t have the best of jobs, however he did work hard at the one he had driving a rich widow around and caring for her. Yes Ray was a chauffer but it did not matter much to Reed. What Ray didn’t have in education or a lucrative living, he certainly made up with in charisma.
To the right of Ray; Reed had a place setting for Mr. Dumpkey, Mrs. Dumpkey, and their son Fred.
The Dumkey’s were Reed’s new and only neighbors on the bay. Owning the only other home on ZuluBay for miles. Reed did not know them very well, but thought this would be the perfect time to get acquainted with the three of them.
Next to Ray’s left was to sit Professor Pine who had always encouraged Reed to go into the medical profession. Professor Pine always knew Reed would make a top notch brain surgeon, and couldn’t have been prouder of her when she was nominated for the prestigious Humanitarian Award this past year.
To Professor Pine’s left was to sit Laneer Saulky who was Reed’s close friend all through her college years. Than came to Laneers left Roger Whelch whom was a colleague of Reed’s.
It was six forty five and Reed’s guests were supposed to arrive at seven. Reed quickly bustled around making last minute preparations to the table setting, making sure each crystal glass shined. Reed also wandered into the kitchen where the cook Isabelle and the server Sadie were bustling around in preparation for the big event.
It was not typical for Reed to have help in here home, but to make such a first time affair go smoothly she thought it best to treat herself to home helpers this time.
Luckily Laneer knew of Isabelle to be an excellent cook to hire. Isabelle was a jolly looking Italian woman busily stirring the different pots on the stove which she had steaming away.
Sadie was new to the area but mentioned to Reed’s secretary that she was looking for work at one of her first appointments she had with Reed. Reed actually hired her on the spot for this particular evening. Sadie was fair haired, petite and wore a smile that seemed always on her face. Reed had rented a cute type of French maids outfit for Sadie to wear right down to the frilly white apron.
Reed thought how lucky she was to have both women so capable to help her out for this celebrated evening.
Seeing that there were a few minutes to spare and all was going smoothly; all of a sudden Reed remembered she plumb forgot to put on her diamond earrings she wanted to wear for the occasion.
Reed ran upstairs to her office where her safe was hidden behind one of the paintings she did herself in her spare time. Reed opened the safe and vigilantly took out a tri-folded navy velvet case. She unfolded the case carefully and admired her grandmothers pearl necklace she inherited.
The pearls sitting on the dark blue velvet could not have looked more wonderful. Even in the dull light of the office lamp Reed could see the almost perfectly round shapes of these antique white ornaments. While starring at the pearls Reed could not deny the warmth that came over her with memories of her elegant loving grandmother.
Reed picked up her diamond earrings and started to put them on, all the while thinking how maybe she should keep the pearl necklace in a safety security box like Professor Pine suggested. After all it was worth more than four cottages on the beach, but at the same time Reed loved to admire them every once in a while seeing they reminded her of such sweet memories of her grandmother.
As Reed closed the safe and put back her painting; was the time when she heard the door bell ring. The guest had begun to arrive!
Reed made it to the door in an appropriate time, to see all three of the Dumpkey’s waiting to come in.
Mr. Dumpkey was in a dapper sear sucker baby blue double breasted suit with a red bow tie and red dock shoes to match. He looked like something right out of a musical.
Mrs. Dumkey had on a light blue dress adorned with navy blue trim that showed off her emeralds she wore around her neck. She also wore matching earrings and a large emerald cocktail ring. Together they made quite the couple.
Than entered Fred Dumkey not looking at all in unison with his parents. Fred had on beat up old deck shoes, a plaid short sleeved shirt un-tucked and so miss-shelved you might have thought him to have buttoned it wrong. He did at least have on some kaki pants rather than the torn jeans he generally wore, which Reed knew was typical for a fourteen year old boy now a days.
Laneer and Professor Pine were next to arrive. Professor Pine had his usual warm hug to give Reed. But Laneer barely said hello and ended up helping herself to a cocktail right away.
Next Reed was relieved to see Ray had arrived. Some how it comforted her that he was here and his charm would entertain her guest a bit.
Finally last but not least Roger came looking his dashing self, but as usual from rushing around from his busy schedule his hair was a bit out of sorts.
The entire guest list had arrived and was enjoying cocktails admiring the beautiful table setting Reed had set out. Reed found it astonishing how the flow of the rooms had everyone mingling so well.
Dinner was to be served promptly at eight and it was now nearing that time. Reed was just about ready to make the dinner announcement for seating when she realized a few of her guest were missing.
Laneer was no where to be found, and Reed wondered where that Fred went to? As Reed was just about ready to locate her missing dinner guest, Professor Pine entered the room and Laneer was not far behind. Than finally Fred made his appearance, and the dinner was announced for all to be seated.
Sadie did an impeccable job serving the first course as she did with serving the cocktails before. The first course was a clam chowder which Isabelle did wonders with adding a bacon flavor.
Next salad and the main course were served which was chicken cordon blue.
Everything was going so smoothly that Reed could hardly believe it.
There were warm brownies served with vanilla ice cream for desert and both tea and coffee followed. Everyone seemed to be having an excellent time. There was chattering from one side of the table to the other in pleasant small talk, even at one point Reed had to blush when she caught Ray winking at her when he returned to his seat.
Roger started to talk to Reed about her diamond earnings. He was admiring how they glistened in the many candles Reed had used to enhance the atmosphere on the table.
Soon all ears were on Roger and Reed as the conversation switched to his remembrance of her grandmothers pearl necklace. Not only was Reed’s grandmothers pearl necklace worth a small fortune, it also had a well known legend that went along with it.
Supposedly the pearl necklace was cursed from coming off a pirate ship in which many lives were killed over these precious pearls. The tale goes that more than over one hundred lives were shed until the pearl necklace landed in the protective royal hands of the Earl of Province where ZuluBay is located.
Eventually Earl Shelton Brigade fancied Reed’s grandmother, and as a token of his admiration for her, gave her the prized pearl necklace.
The legend goes that whom ever possesses the pearl necklace must take great care not to wear it. The pearl necklace is supposedly haunted and the spirits that lost their lives in trying to obtain it through hundreds of years could take over the body of the wearer the longer the necklace is worn. Therefore the necklace since Reed’s grandmother owned it has never been worn and only admired.
Everyone listened as Reed recited the legend and than Mrs. Dumpkey “maybe having too much wine at this point” requested that Reed should bring out this mystifying dear pearl necklace and show everyone what all this mysterious legend is about.
Before Reed knew it, just about everyone was egging her on to bring out the necklace. Reed felt so much pressure she finally relented and excused her self to achieve the necklace while her quest sipped on coffee, tea, and wine.
Reed went back up to the office to find the painting was discarded and the safe was opened! To Reed’s shock and devastating dismay her grandmothers pearls were missing! Obviously stolen!
Reed screamed with the shock which sent everyone running to locate her.
First to the door was Professor Pine, than before long all the guest including Isabelle and Sadie were compiled into the small office.
Everyone had something it seemed to say, from comforting words to the question “who could have done such a thing?”
Well shortly the police were called and investigator Howser showed up with three others of his staff stipulating that no one was to leave the house until the preliminary investigation was done.
Investigator Sterling Howser was well known for his research and examining skills. He was known to be the best detective in all of Province.
Sterling Howser was as seemingly eccentric as all great investigators come. He not only had your typical mustache, but an obvious twitching habit with his upper lip. This twitching habit could distract the best of people and it was often questioned if he did it on purpose to distract the suspects he was interrogating?
Sir Howser did not however wear that cliché over coat, but pleated pin striped pants and generally a generic white shirt that he kept a few buttons on done at the top. Unlike Howser’s attire tonight he was wearing a baseball cap shaped hat which had the word “Province” printed on the front.
At this point more coffee and tea was served as Mr. Howser and his staff interviewed everyone that was in the house at the time.
Howser immediately stated; “It was obvious that there was no break in, so some one that was in the house at the time of the dinner must had stole the necklace”.
Everyone was suspect according to Howser including Reed for the profit of the insurance money.
Investigator Howser decided to take each person into the private den downstairs to ask questions.
He decided to start with Reed to hopefully at least rule her out.
After talking to Reed Howser could rule out Mr. and Mrs. Dumpkey as well as Roger Whelch whom all according to Reed never left the main dinning and living room area.
Next Howser brought in together the hired help Isabelle and Sadie who really both could vow for each other being busy with one thing or another all thru the evening since they arrived.
There still remained left, Professor Pine, Ray, and Laneer as well as Fred Dumkey.
Four remaining suspects if you rule out Reed for the insurance money.
Howser ruled out Fred because he had never heard of the pearls until that night’s dinner.
So that left Professor Pine, Ray and Laneer.
All three knew about the pearls and how they were kept in the safe.
Howser felt he was at an impasse and figured one of the three did it. But which one?
Howser announced that “the pearls should still be on the premises if not even on the person themselves that stole them”.
Howser decided the premises should be searched by trained police officers and the three primary suspects needed to have a body search and they would start with Laneer.
No sooner did the female officer have Laneer empty out her purse, amazingly they had to go no further because the pearl necklace emptied out of Laneer’s handbag right in plane site. Laneer acted surprised, yet it was evident that she stole the necklace.
Accept Howser didn’t arrest Laneer he arrested Professor Pine whom he had noted was sitting next to Laneer at the dinner table.
Howser figured out when the commotion started Professor Pine thought he would be discovered and slipped the pearls into Laneer’s handbag.
With this astounding arrest it came out that Professors Pine claimed “he was just trying to teach Reed a lesson and prove a point about her keeping the pearls in a safety deposit box instead of at home in a safe”.
Reed was certainly buying the Professors story until it turned out Investigator Howser found out that this was not the first time jewels were stolen where Professor Pine was concerned. They found in a search of the Professor’s house whole collections of mysterious missing takings of jewelry from surrounding areas. It turned out that the Professor was quite a thief.
At least all the prized possessions could be returned to their rightful owners and Reed got her grandmother’s heirloom back safe and sound.
However Reed was in shock her mentor Professor Pine was a thief and would actually steal from her? Reed had lost what she thought was a very dear friend, which saddened her greatly.
In the next few weeks to come Reed would realize even though she lost what was a good friend and mentor, she at the same time also gained great new neighbors and an unexpected engagement to her handsome Ray.
Lisa J. Warner