Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Short Story Mystery

Sealed and Delivered by Elizabeth Ludwig

Part 1

“May I examine the stamp?” Jeffrey Monroe held out his hand, ignoring the gasps of surprised bidders around the room.

“Of course,” Lady Manchester declared, glaring through her spectacles at him. “But it has already been examined—by Charles Rochester.” She pointed at the stamp expert, her jagged eyebrows rising even higher toward her hairline.

Jeffrey dipped his head. “Regardless, I’d still like a look.”

Squaring her shoulders, Lady Manchester glided toward him. The jewels at her neck glittered in the golden light cast by the chandeliers, making her blue eyes even icier by comparison. Chin lifted so she could peer down her nose at him, she placed the rare stamp in his hand.

Jeffrey carried the stamp carefully to the fireplace where the dancing flames cast an orange glow onto the aged paper. Taking his time, he twisted and turned the item, his lips a tight line. Around the room, every eye fixed upon him in fascination.

“Ah,” he said at last, and the bidders echoed after him, “ah.”

Waving his arms with a flourish, he whirled to face Lady Manchester. “It is as I suspected.”

Lady Manchester appeared unphased. Her heavily ringed hand fluttered through the air. “Oh get on with it, Monroe. What is as you suspected?”

His lips stretched into a tight smile, Jeffrey let the pregnant air ripen until it was thick enough to cut. Now was the moment. The bidders were ready. Rochester was ready. Even Lady Manchester herself, though she’d never admit it, watched him, her chest rising and falling rapidly. Jeffrey slowly lifted the stamp for everyone in the room to see.

“This, Lady Manchester,” he said, his words slow and pronounced, “is a fake.”

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Sealed and Delivered.

For Discussion: What did Jeffrey see that made him declare the stamp a fake?


CHickey said...

It must have had something to do with the orange glow on the aged paper. That's the only clue I caught. Other than that, I don't know. LOL

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

Nowadays, our paper bills have water marks that you have to hold up to the light to see. Did this make you think of that??

ladystorm said...

I thought maybe it had something to do with the paper the stamp was on. Maybe it wasn't aged enough?

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

Ah...very clever ladystorm. Tune in next week to see if you're right!