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The Cardinal's Slippers (standard:mystery, 1348 words)
Author: GibbonAdded: Jan 21 2003Views/Reads: 2384/1400Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A humourous mystery set in an old English castle. The Lord of the manner gets an unexpected surprise when he opens a box that has been locked for many years.
 



THE CARDINAL'S SLIPPERS BY PHILIPPA NORMAN 

It was a dark and stormy night when Mrs Hinckley found the slippers.
Whilst spring cleaning a cupboard beneath one of the staircases, she 
came across a dusty old box. It was made out of heavy oak and carried 
an inscription carved in Latin. Being the honest housekeeper she was, 
she left the box unopened and presented it excitedly to Lord and Lady 
Postlethwaite who were having their evening glass of Port in the 
Library. After much fiddling, Lord Postlethwaite managed to loosen the 
rusty old catch and reveal it's contents. They were all fairly 
disappointed with the dirty, very old looking slippers that lay within. 
Mrs Hinckley, who had waited eagerly for the box to be opened sighed 
and thought she'd better get back to her chores, and Lady Postlethwaite 
who was never very interested to start with, sniffed and sipped on her 
port in a very uninterested fashion. 

Lord Postlethwaite, on the other hand was not so quick to toss the
slippers aside. They were made of thick twine, with toe straps entwined 
with fine strands of gold, but it wasn't the slippers themselves that 
were grabbing his attention, it was the Latin inscription on the box. 
Lord Postlethwaite had studied Latin at Eton; he just wished he'd spent 
less time spitting balls of chewed-up paper at the ceiling. So he 
pulled a tatty old Latin dictionary from one of the top shelves 
(containing boring books that no one ever reads) put on his glasses, 
and sat down to figure out the meaning of the words on the box. Long 
after Lady Postlethwaite had slipped off to bed he was still flicking 
through the pages through tired eyes, in the half-light of the old 
library. 

When Lord Postlethwaite had finally managed to decipher all of the
words, the sentence read; 'He who wears these slippers will inherit my 
bounty'. Well, this was a bit silly, thought Lord Postlethwaite, after 
all, how could wearing a pair of rotting old slippers help him inherit 
any bounty. Oh, and more to the point, what bounty? As far as he could 
see, the only value of these things would be if he melted down the gold 
ribbon and even then he probably wouldn't make more than a pound. Yet 
he still couldn't bring himself to put the mysterious slippers back in 
their box. Instead, feeling a little bit daft, he kicked of his brogues 
and replaced them with the old slippers. At first Lord Postlethwaite 
sniggered embarrassedly to himself and reached down to take them off, 
it was then that he began to feel the straps begin to tighten around 
his toes. 

In a panic Lord Postlethwaite jumped to his feet but only found that
this made things worse. The slippers, now tightly fastened to his feet 
appeared to be pulling him in the direction of the door in rather a 
determined fashion. Robbed of any element of composure Lord 
Postlethwaite could do nothing but cry for help and let the slippers 
run amok. He tried to hold on to the door frame, but the slippers just 
pulled harder, he found it very difficult to open doors before he was 
dragged painfully in to them. He was a little relieved when his distant 
cries reached the far corners of the castle to the ears of a very 
confused Lady Postlethwaite. She managed to run to arrive at the west 
wing just in time to see her utterly terrified husband running out of a 
side door and run across the lawn, screaming and trying in vane to 
latch himself on to passing trees. Lady Postlethwaite joined in hot 
pursuit, with a newly awaken Mrs Hinckley not far behind in a pair of 
rather large bloomers and an Elvis t-shirt. They followed him for what 
seemed like miles, poor Lord Postlethwaite wide eyed, arms flailing 
like a mad man, through the woods, down the avenue of trees, through 
the gate and across the fields. 

When they reached the cliffs, the waves were crashing angrily against
the jagged rocks, and Lord Postlethwaite's life was flashing before his 
eyes. To his extreme relief, instead of hurtling feet first over the 
cliff, the pesky slippers took him to some rather steep steps that, up 
until now had gone unnoticed. Amazingly he reached the bottom of the 
cliff a little bruised, but relatively unscathed and Lady Postlethwaite 
and Mrs Hinckley did not take long to stumble rather ungracefully to 
his side. By this point the slippers had calmed down to a more 
reasonable speed, although they were still very much in control of the 
situation. They walked the exhausted Lord Postlethwaite along a 
treacherously thin strip of sand to a cave set back in the rocks, and 
didn't stop until they had reached it's furthest, dampest, darkest 
corner. 


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