This BASH is different....
this time we have a mystery to solve.
The characters in this BASH are strangers to us,
except for our two wily detectives!

My challenge to you...
can YOU break the case before our detectives solve it??

Chapter 1
Another Day at the Office!


The air was heavy and hot. Nothing stirred in the summer heat. Riley looked up at the useless ceiling fan's slow, lazy circles. He patted Emily on the arm.

"We'll finish this dictation later, Emily. It's just too hot right now to concentrate", Riley announced, as he gently pushed the blonde secretary out of his lap.

Emily pouted as she was forced to her feet. She gazed wistfully at the handsome detective in his double breasted pin-stripe suit. His attention had already moved on to other things, his chair thrown back at an angle, the Racing Form spread in front of him. She sighed, then turned and headed back to the outer office and her own desk.

Riley loosened his tie as he gazed negligently at the form. He scanned the page, changing his mind several times, as he studied the horses' stats. He smiled, picked up the pencil lying on his desk, and circled a name.

"This one will do very nicely!" Riley announced, looking at his circled selection.

Suddenly, he froze. He listened closely. Yes, there it was again. He would know that sound anywhere..... the staccatto tap-tap-tap-tap coming up the hall.

Hurriedly, he shoved the Racing Form into the trash can and grabbed the newspaper. He reared back in his chair, propped his wing-tip shoes on top of his well-polished desk, and opened the newspaper to the Sports page.

He heard the tap-tap-tap-tap enter the outer office, as it continued its course toward his inner-sanctum. He smiled behind the paper as he heard his office door open. The tap-tapping sound stopped momentarily. He heard a soft sigh, then heard the office door close as the tap-tap-tapping continued its steady course toward him.

He waited..... any second now. The tap-tap-tap stopped at the other side of his desk. He held the paper firmly in his paws, still waiting.

A black paw suddenly appeared over the top of his newspaper. With one swipe, his newspaper was reduced to a mass of crumpled, useless pages as the invading paw leaned over and propped itself on his desk.

Riley smiled up into the face of his sister, Katie Wild Child.

Katie gazed suspiciously at Riley, then asked, "And, WHAT, dear brother, are YOU doing? THIS is the hard work you said you had to finish???"

She gazed intently at Riley, watching for that tell-tale muzzle twitch that always betrayed his 'UNtruths'!

"Hi, Kater! What took ya so long? I've been waiting for you to get back," Riley replied, as he precariously balanced the chair on its back legs. His paw reached over and grabbed a thick folder on the corner of his desk. He lifted it and handed it to Katie, smiling broadly.

Katie took the folder that was offered her, then perched on the corner of the desk as she studied the documents inside. She smiled happily as she looked at the completed paperwork, neatly filed.

"Emily and I finished the paperwork on the O'Shaunnessy case over an hour ago," Riley explained. "Everything has been documented, and the forms have been filed. You did take the package to Mrs. O'Shaunnessy, didn't you?"

Katie closed the folder and placed it back on the desk. She looked at Riley and smiled wickedly.

"I just left Mrs. O'Shaunnessy. Her husband wasn't home so she was very pleased to see me. I gave her the photos we'd taken and showed her the evidence. She was ecstatic! It clearly showed MR. O'Shaunnessy with his red, Irish Setter paw in the kibble bin.....sneaking extra portions! She KNEW it wasn't the c@t!! She was thrilled to get the photos as proof! She said that her husband would HAVE to give her that vacation to Ireland now! He could stay home and work off all those extra pounds, she said!"

Katie proudly concluded her remarks with, "And another case is solved by the incredible detective skills of the "WC Detective Agency!"


Chapter 2
Old Money!


Riley laughed. "That closes ANOTHER case, sister! We're all caught up. Let's take our OWN vacation. We're DUE for one!" He smiled as he anticipated a week with nothing to do.

Katie scooted farther up onto the desk and crossed her legs, revealing another new pair of shoes.... black patent heels with stylish ankle straps that gracefully encircled her furry legs. She smoothed the skirt of her well-tailored suit, checked the brooch that sat delicately on the lapel of her jacket, then turned to her brother and smiled, ever so sweetly.

"Riley, my dear, we have expenses..... your hobbies, your sports, your cars, your motorcycles, and MY WARDROBE! If we don't have clients, we don't enjoy the BENEFITS from those clients! You DO understand, don't you!?!?!"

Riley sighed. They had just completed 8 investigations in the last month and had worked night and day to successfully close each case. HE wanted a break, a chance to relax and put his paws up. But, he knew that Katie was right. They had expenses, not just the hobbies and the fashions, but also the office costs. They'd become well-known as hard-working detectives who always closed their cases successfully. Neither he nor Katie wanted to jeopardize THAT reputation.

"Okay, sis.... we'll round up another client tomorrow, I promise. Shouldn't take long. We'll just use choose one from that 'waiting list' that Emily keeps for us. We'll be up to our beards in work, don't worry."

Katie smiled, then took a deep breath. It pleased her when they were busy. Sitting around, doing nothing always annoyed her.

"At least," she thought to herself, "I'll use the time wisely. I can finish my manicure."

She took her favorite bottle of pawnail polish, ' Scottie Scarlet', from her purse and sat it next to her on the desk. As Riley smoothed his crumpled newspaper and resumed his reading, she began working on her pawnails.

Neither of them heard her enter, nor were they prepared for the woman who stood in the doorway, her chin lifted in haughty disdain. She cleared her throat, then closed the office door firmly behind her.

"I SAY," the matronly lady said, with an imperious tone in her voice.

Katie and Riley both turned and stared at the woman who stood there as if she owned the building. She held her diamond-encrusted glasses negligently in one paw, while a string of huge, flawless pearls caressed her throat. Her wardrobe was obviously dated, but very expensive. In one paw, she held a one-of-a-kind designer purse by VanScottieA. The matron exuded a quiet aura of power, authority, dominance, and OLD MONEY.

Katie slipped off the desk,discreetly smoothed her skirt, and addressed the matron.

"Yes, ma'am, may we help you? This is a Detective Agency, perhaps you're looking for the bank on the first floor?" Katie doubted seriously that this woman would need THEIR help.

The older woman looked arrogantly down her muzzle at the two detectives standing before her.

As if it explained everything, she simply replied, "I am Mrs. Reginald Dunwiddy MacScottington IV ! You WILL assist me!"


Chapter 3
The Dowager and "Sir Gallant"


Katie's eyes snapped angrily. Had she heard the woman correctly? The old matron had ORDERED them to help her?!?!?!?!

Riley hid his smile behind his newspaper. He always enjoyed it when Katie pitched one of her hissy fits, and he KNEW she was winding up for a real hum-dinger this time!

He quickly rose from his chair and stepped around the desk. Leaning against Katie, Riley casually draped a paw around his sister's shoulder. He could feel her powerful muscles straining against his paw. Imperceptibly, he tightened his hold on her shoulder.

Katie's response was instantaneous. The glare she directed at Riley said it all. She was NOT pleased, and she did NOT want his interference. She shrugged her shoulders, trying to dislodge his grip, but failed to budge the steely paw.

She looked back at Riley, and saw the innocent smile that hid the devilish gleam in his deep, brown eyes! With a quiet sigh, Katie winked at her smiling brother, then leaned back against the desk, and waited.

Immediately, Riley stepped forward, graced the wealthy matron with a dazzling smile, and took her paw in his. The dowager, accustomed to having people cringe and cower before her onslaught, was speechless as Riley presented her with a gallant bow, then gave her paw a feather-light kiss.

Katie rolled her eyes heavenward, then crossed her paws, and watched the performance. "He's GOT to be kidding!" Katie thought to herself. "Mam has read WAY too many romance novels...that's where he came up with THIS bright idea. Gallant bows and kissing paws......PUHLEEZE! Give me a break!"

As Riley straightened up and took a step backward, the dowager sighed loudly, then sat down heavily in a nearby chair. She took a lace-edged handkerchief from her designer bag and began vigorously fanning herself.

"Now, Mrs. MacScottington, I believe you REQUESTED our assistance," Riley said. "What seems to be your problem?"

He stepped back to Katie's side, and leaned against the desk. The detectives exchanged glances, then directed their attention to their guest.

After a moment to collect herself, Mrs. MacScottington took a deep breath and, with a touch of desperation in her voice, announced, "My collar is gone!"

Katie and Riley could only stare.

"A COLLAR?" Katie asked. " You want us to find your COLLAR? That's easily replaceable. Just go buy another, it'd be much simpler."

Mrs. MacScottington IV stiffened. "You don't understand. My husband gave it to me before he sold his jewelry store to his head designer, Mr. Tiffascot, who designed the collar personally. It is encrusted with diamonds, and at the center hangs a huge, flawless 20 carat diamond. My husband, Mac, said it'd keep me 'home nights', since it sparkled so brilliantly, he could always tell exactly where I was in the cottage."

"20 carats"......"ENCRUSTED with diamonds"!!! Katie couldn't even IMAGINE such a collar. She looked at Mrs. MacScottington IV, who was almost in tears.

Mrs. MacScottington IV said nothing, but reached into her bag and pulled out the collar's insurance appraisal. Attached to the appraisal was a photograph of the missing collar. She handed the photograph to the two detectives.

Katie could barely catch her breath. She'd never seen anything so exquisite in her life! She simply nodded to Riley, who looked at Mrs MacScottington IV and said, "We'll put your collar back into your paws within the week.
We'll take the case."

Chapter 4
The Wind in Our Fur

The morning was bright and clear. Katie wanted to get an early start, and had already called Riley twice to be sure that he WOULD be there on time to pick her up. She sat on the front porch of her small craftsman bungalow, hoping the soothing back and forth movement of the porch swing would relax her. She repeatedly looked at her watch, wondering what had caught Riley's attention and delayed his arrival.

She heard his approach before she ever caught sight of him. The squeal of tires, the repeated honking of the horn, and the blaring radio all heralded Riley's approach. His new 1940 Packard convertible made the turn on two wheels as he ignored the stop sign at the corner and skidded to a stop in front of Katie's house.

With a cavalier wave of his paw, he beckoned his sister to join him.

"Get a move on, Kate, we're burning daylight!"

He smiled broadly as he saw Katie's sharp intake of breath. She was about to tear into him, he could TELL by the glint in her eye! Riley leaned over and opened the passenger door for her, just as she reached the curb. He patted the seat next to him and smiled.

"The sun is shining, the air is cool, the birds are singing, we're going driving in the country and let the wind blow through our beards. Let's go find a collar!" he said, patting the seat again.

Katie sighed softly. She couldn't stay mad at this scottie brother of hers. She stepped off the curb and slid into the passenger seat, popping Riley's paw playfully as he once again patted the seat.

"Okay, brother, let's hit the road. It'll take us at least 45 minutes to reach Mrs. MacScottington IV's estate, and she expects us to be on TIME!"

Katie was immediately sorry that she was actually encouraging Riley to move faster. The Packard literally leaped away from the curb as he eagerly followed her instructions.

The scenery sped by as they made their way out of the city. They soon left the bustle of the busy metropolis behind them, to be replaced by miles of lush, green hills, and the sweet smell of fresh country air.

Katie leaned back in the seat, breathed a deep sigh of contentment,  and relaxed. To the casual observer, it sometimes appeared as though Riley was an adventurous daredevil who behaved recklessly. Although he appeared to be paying no attention at all to the road ahead, Katie knew better. Ever vigilant, his paws had a firm grasp on the wheel, and his lightening fast reflexes were prepared for any situation.

Riley hummed along with the radio as the Packard convertible sped down the highway. Katie enjoyed the wind in her fur and the freedom that came from being out of the city for the day.

The miles continued to slip by as the two detectives managed to momentarily forget the new client's case and simply lose themselves in the beauty of the countryside.

Riley finally broke the spell as he eased his paw off the accelerator and  announced, "We're here, Katie. It's time to go to work. Let's go find a collar."

Chapter 5
Scottington Fair


The Packard slowed as they approached the entrance to the estate. Mrs. MacScottington IV had said that the entrance would be obvious, and she was certainly right about THAT.

The driveway was made of pavers, perfectly matched, stretching as far as the eye could see up the tree-lined driveway. The entrance into the estate was guarded by a magnificent wrought iron double gate, supported by massive brick columns on each side of the driveway. Above the gated entrance to the estate, a bold, wrought iron arch identified the estate as "Scottington Fair". Elaborate wrought iron lamps hung from tall, graceful pillars on either side of the gate. The wrought iron fence surrounding the property was covered with honeysuckle and wisteria, giving the landscape an air of tasteful elegance.

"Well, now...isn't THIS a nice 'cottage'!" murmured Katie, as she gazed at the wrought iron fence that stretched as far as the eye could see.

"Okay, Riley, m'dear, how're we going to get IN to see Mrs. MacScottington IV? She certainly didn't mention THIS tiny detail about a GATE when she gave us the directions to her 'cottage'!!!"

Before Riley could reply, a car approached from the direction of the estate, winding its way down the driveway and stopping just beyond the gate. They watched as a well-dressed figure emerged from the car.

Katie and Riley exchanged glances as the figure approached the gate. Without uttering a word, their eyes said it all. "He's a PUHDUL!!!"

He was immaculately dressed in a vest and morning coat. His shoes were polished to a mirror finish. He stood at rigid attention just beyond the safety of the gate.

"May I assist you?" the well-dressed PUHDUL asked in an imperious tone.

"We have an appointment with Mrs. MacScottington IV. She's expecting us. We're from WC Investigations," Riley replied, adding his own version of conceited snobbery.

"Ohhhh, you're THEY," the PUHDUL replied, then mumbled, "don't know why she thought she needed to contact OTHERS. We don't need OTHERS wandering around, sticking their noses into OUR business. Shows what SHE thinks of us, uh huh, SHE wants OTHERS to check on US."

The complaining PUHDUL slowly moved to the far brick column, where he pushed a button. Immediately, the ornate wrought iron gates began swinging open. Riley eased his Packard into the protected estate, beyond the gates that were already beginning to close. He stopped the car as the frowning PUHDUL approached the Packard.

"I'm Katie, and this is my brother, Riley." Katie thought a pleasant introduction might help the sour disposition of the PUHDUL. She offered her brightest smile, although Riley caught the gleam of terrier aggravation shining in her chocolate brown eyes.

"Humph, yeah, that's wonderful. Guess you want to know all about ME, now dontcha?" The PUHDUL glared fiercely. "Okay, fine. I'm Pompadour, the Mrs.' butler. THERE, does that satisfy your evil curiosity? You can go right on up to the 'cottage'. The Mrs. is waiting for you. Just follow the driveway on up."

Pompadour dismissed the two detectives, abruptly turning his back on them as he went about checking the security of the gate.

Riley raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. He turned to Katie, who simply motioned for him to drive on.

As Riley put the Packard into gear and began following the cobblestone driveway through the trees, Katie leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, "The BUTLER did it!!"

Chapter 6
The Scene of the Crime

The cobblestone driveway snaked its way through the well-manicured grounds of Scottington Fair. Riley and Katie expected to catch their first glimpse the fabled mansion as they rounded each curve. The road continued to wind endlessly through the ancient oaks and low blooming plants alongside the driveway, shielding the 'cottage' from view.

Katie grew more and more impatient as the drive toward the 'cottage' passed the 5 minute mark. Riley could hear Katie muttering softly beside him. His paw reached over and softly patted her furry cheek.

"Patience, Katie. You know what Mam always says...'patience is a virtue'....although, I never understand why SHE never seems to follow her OWN advice!!! Hmmm....!"

Katie smiled at her brother's wit. He always seemed to know how to distract her and bring a smile to her face, but she DID like to get in the last word!!

"PATIENCE! Hmph! We didn't travel THIS far on our last VACATION!!!" Katie replied, as she gestured down the never-ending cobblestone driveway.

Riley laughed out loud. He had to agree with her....he'd NEVER seen a driveway that went on forever!! His attention shifted back to the road as it began a wide, sweeping turn. He tapped Katie on the arm and pointed.

The cobblestone driveway had made one grand turn around a small hill, and emerged from the thick oak trees that had lined the road. Riley stopped the Packard. He and Katie could only stare in silence.

Ahead of them stood Scottington Fair. The 'cottage' covered 4 acres of  hilltop and stretched off into the distance. The fabled estate was built of stone, with a huge, gabled roof that rose above the 4 storied structure. Wide, expansive wings stretched off the main building, creating the appearance of an old, expensive hotel. Hundreds of elegant, lead-glass windows lined the front of the home. The front entrance seemed to be taken from a medieval castle....with the front door standing boldly at the top of an enormous granite staircase.

"Ohhhhhhh, my gosh!!!!" Katie whispered. "Mrs. MacScottington IV called this her 'cottage'! She's GOT to be kidding!!"

Riley grinned and added, "Well, we won't have a problem finding the FRONT DOOR!"

He put the Packard in gear, and followed the driveway around the gently rolling landscape, before finally stopping at the base of the grand staircase that guarded the entrance.

Riley and Katie stepped out of the car and climbed the granite steps. Reaching the massive double doors, Riley took the bronze door knocker in his paw and banged it boldly on the hand-carved mahogany doors. Then, he and Katie waited.

The polished mahogany doors swung open. In the doorway stood one of the estate's maids, dressed in a uniform, with a starched scarf on her head. Riley and Katie glanced at each other.....thinking "not another PUHDUL"!!

She gestured them into the foyer, and closed the doors behind them. The two detectives glanced at their surroundings. The foyer floor was polished marble, with embossed wallpaper covering the walls. Around the walls hung huge paintings of the MacScottington ancestors, with crossed swords displaying the family coat of arms. A huge arrangement of flowers sat on a table in the center of the foyer. A plush carpet led from the front door into the interior of the mansion. Looking up, they saw that the ceiling rose the full 4 stories, to end in an incredible lead-glass skylight dome far above.

"I'm Collette, the Mrs.' housekeeper," the PUHDUL servant announced, glancing around nervously. "The Mrs. said she was sending for OUTSIDERS. We're not accustomed to people asking QUESTIONS."

Katie and Riley exchanged a quick look, then focused their entire attention on the housekeeper. Collette stood there, shifting from one paw to the other, as she introduced herself. She wrung her front paws together, obviously stressed, and continued to glanced nervously around as she spoke.

"The Mrs. is waiting for you. This way, please." The housekeeper pivoted suddenly and began hurrying down the hallway. She never, once, turned to see if Katie and Riley were behind her, but continued rushing down the wide corridor, weaving her way deeper and deeper into the massive home. Katie and Riley knew they must keep up with Collette, or be forever lost in the maze of halls, doors, rooms, and stairs.

Riley bent over and whispered hurriedly into Katie's ear as they raced along behind the PUHDUL housekeeper. "I haven't had THIS much of a work-out since the Squirrel Case!"

Katie looked over at Riley and popped him playfully on the shoulder, almost running into the back of Collette, who had suddenly stopped outside an ornate door.

"The Mrs. is inside, awaiting you. Go in, please." Without another word, Collette turned and sped off down the carpeted hallway, disappearing around a corner.

Katie shrugged her shoulders, as she and Riley watched Collete flee the scene. Katie turned back to the door, knocked softly, then listened. From inside, they heard Mrs. MacScottington IV's abrupt reply...... "You are permitted to enter."

Katie rolled her eyes as Riley opened the door, stepping aside to allow Katie to enter the room first.

The expert detectives of WC Investigations immediately went on alert. They were already scanning the room, taking in every detail.  The library's walls were lined with books. A wainscoting covered the lower portion of the walls, giving it a colonial flair. Paintings of more ancestors hung around the room.

They moved quickly across the room to a richly upholstered wing chair, where Mrs. MacScottington IV sat.

Riley took control of the questioning, realizing that Katie had a rather low opinion of the lady's imperious attitude.

"Mrs. MacScottington, can you show us where the collar was kept? And, we'll need a complete list of your employees, as we'll need to interrogate each one of them. And, obviously, we will expect to be given complete access to the 'cottage' and the grounds."

A loud "harrumph" was heard from the older woman, as she rose from the chair. A reluctant nod of her muzzle acknowledged her agreement to the terms of the investigation. She slowly walked across the room to a large painting. Reaching to the side, she pulled the painting away from the wall, revealing a hidden wall safe.

"My collar was kept here," Mrs. MacScottington said, as she stepped aside.

Riley immediately began dusting for paw prints. Katie meticulously searched the room for any evidence or clues. It was Katie who heard the furtive rustling from around the corner. Turning to check the source of the sound, Katie was pulled to a stop as Mrs. MacScottington's paw grabbed her arm firmly.

"You MUST find my collar. I WILL expect you to do your BEST work," Mrs. MacScottington IV stated.

Katie's thought was that she WOULD be able to find the thief if the MRS. would keep her paws out of it, but she simply smiled sweetly at Mrs. MacScottington IV and nodded.

Katie was still grumbling to herself about 'old money' attitudes, when she heard Riley's sudden warning.

"Stay here, Katie! WATCH her!"

And with that, Riley raced from the library...leaving a shocked Mrs. MacScottington in his wake.ááá

Chapter 7

Katie had no idea what Riley was up to, and she was CERTAINLY unhappy being left to entertain the lady alone, but she had no intention of letting the MRS. out of her sight. She also was rather curious about the lady's motives.

Why would Mrs. MacScottington IV want to prevent the detectives from solving the mystery? Why had she grabbed Katie's arm to prevent her from investigating that suspicious noise? Why were all the servants apparently PUHDULS? Sooo many questions to answer.

Katie was making a mental list of the facts when she heard Riley returning. She looked toward the door in time to see Riley dragging a well-dressed older gentleman into the room.

"What is the MEANING of this, young man?" Mrs. MacScottington demanded, as she glared at Riley.

"Unhand me, you young scalliwag!" the old gentleman growled as he tried to shrug off Riley's steel-pawed grip.ááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááááá

Katie stepped up behind Riley and spoke softly into his ear. Riley promptly released the gentleman, but continued to watch him closely.

Riley explained. "I saw him hiding behind that 15 foot palm on the far side of the library. When he saw me looking at him, he slipped out the French doors to the solarium. I want to know who he is, and what he was doing sneaking around. Just seems a little too suspicious, to me!!"

Mrs. MacScottington IV stepped forward and put her paw on the gentleman's shoulder. "This is Mr. Barrister, the MacScottington family retainer. He's been our family attorney for simply years. You simply can NOT assume that dear Mr. Barrister had anything to do with the disappearance of the collar."

As if that ended the matter, Mrs. MacScottington IV turned toward the door and announced, "we'll go into the Summer Parlor for a cup of tea. Come along."

Mr.Barrister eagerly followed her out the door, glancing back nervously at Riley, then trotted off to continue down the hall on Mrs. MacScottington's coat tails.

Katie took Riley by the paw and gave him a tug toward the door. "Come on, Brother. If we lag too far behind, we'll wander for eternity down these cold, stone corridors with the 'MRS'. Plus the fact, we can interrogate him just as easily in the dear 'Summer Parlor'!!" Katie lifted her paw daintily as she imitated Mrs. MacScottington IV's aloof personality. She and Riley both laughed at the image, and hurried after their hostess and her attorney.

It took only minutes to reach the 'Summer Parlor'. Mrs. MacScottington IV rang for tea and scones, that soon arrived on a glistening silver tray, and proceeded to play hostess to the unusual group.

The two detectives excused themselves and headed to a distant corner of the cavernous room, where they quickly exchanged information about their findings in the Library. After nods of agreement, they returned to the group.

Katie immediately took charge of the conversation. She looked Mr. Barrister directly in the eye and began quizzing the attorney, who was squirming nervously.

"Mr. Barrister, would you agree that you WERE in the Library not long ago?"

The attorney paled somewhat and gave an affirmative nod of his head.

Katie pressed further.

"And, would you also concur with the fact that you were trying to CONCEAL your presence in the Library?"

Another reluctant nod was given.

"Have you visited the Library PRIOR to today, say in the past 72 hours?"

Mr. Barrister had a confused expression on his face as he replied, "No, I have not."

"Mr. Barrister," Katie continued smoothly, "do you know where Mrs. MacScottington IV's safe is?"

A frightened look crossed the attorney's face, but he persisted with a reluctant "no".

Katie turned to Riley and nodded. Riley's paw reached into the inside pocket of his jacket. He pulled out a piece of paper and an ink pad. He stepped directly in front of Mr. Barrister.

"Sir," Riley instructed, "please give me your right paw. I need your paw print."

"Now, WAIT a minute!" Mrs. MacScottington interrupted. "Mr. Barrister is a fine, honorable scottie. He had nothing to do with the theft of my diamond collar. How could you THINK to accuse him of that despicable crime??"

This brought Mr. Barrister to his feet. He put his cup of tea on the table and stared directly at the two detectives.

"You think I STOLE something? From Scottington Fair?? How DARE you!" Mr. Barrister was highly incensed.

Riley, completely unaffected by the display of indignation, continued.

"Then, you'll not mind if I get your paw print, now WILL you??"

Mr. Barrister seemed to age somewhat, then he sat down heavily and held out his paw. Riley leaned over, quickly pressed the brindle paw onto the inkpad, and with an experienced twist, transferred the inked paw onto the clean paper he held.

Katie moved to Riley's side. The two detectives, their heads close together in conversation, studied the inked paper. Riley pulled out another piece of paper, containing another paw print. After a quick nod of agreement, Katie returned to her seat, folded her paws daintily in her lap, and smiled sweetly.

Riley turned back to the attorney and asked, "Well, Mr. Barrister, if you have no knowledge of the location of Mrs. MacScottington's safe, then PLEASE tell us how YOUR pawprints could POSSIBLY have gotten onto the DOOR of that safe???"

Mrs. MacScottington IV sputtered loudly. "WHAT? How could... WHEN...WHY?"

Mr. Barrister stood, and with a look of total defeat, began to explain. "I've been Mrs. MacScottington's attorney for over 30 years. She relies on me, she depends on me, and I've never let her down---until now."

A concerned look crossed Mrs. MacScottington's face as she listened closely to his words.

"I assumed that she kept her important items in a wall safe, everyone does. Everyone always has their wall safe in the Library, so I assumed that's where hers would be, as well. I was hoping it would be open, I was hoping.... well, you see.... I've never had ..... it's the first time it's ever happened."

Katie and Riley's faces reflected their growing irritation at the lengthy, disjointed explanation.

"I've lost her husband Mac's will," he finally announced. "My c@t ate it!!!"

Mr. Barrister continued hurriedly, before he lost his nerve. "I KNOW that she has a copy, and I was going to take HER copy and have a duplicate made. I didn't want her to know that I'd LOST her husband's will. I didn't want her to worry. So, I planned to get HER copy and make MYSELF a copy!"

"See there, there WAS a perfectly logical explanation!" Mrs. MacScottington IV stood and hurried to the attorney's side. She took Mr. Barrister's paw in her own, and as she talked soothingly to him, she began to lead him from the room.

As she reached the door, Mrs. MacScottington IV turned to Katie and Riley. "I'll have a list of the staff left for you on the foyer table. You may continue your queries at your leisure." With that, she and Mr. Barrister disappeared from sight.

Katie and Riley sat for a minute, staring at each other. Katie lifted her paw to her lips to stifle a giggle. With a devilish gleam in his eye, Riley replied, "His CAT ate it??????"

Katie laughed out loud. "Come on, let's go get the list and question the STAFF members. I'll bet we don't hear an alibi any better than THAT today!!!!"

The two detectives left the room, their muffled laughter trailing behind them.

Chapter 8
The Gardener's Digs

Katie and Riley wound their way through the endless maze of corridors in the massive 'cottage', trying to find their way back to the mansion's front foyer. After almost half an hour, Riley began mumbling about being forced to wander the mansion for the rest of eternity.

"Piddle," Riley complained. "If I'd known I'd have to find my way OUT, I'd have left BREAD CRUMBS!"

Katie began laughing at the mental image she had of Riley walking through the exquisite mansion, dropping bread crumbs on the priceless carpets. Her giggling became contagious, as Riley realized how ridiculous this situation actually was. They were both chuckling, as they turned down another passageway.

Standing in the middle of the hallway stood the butler, Pompadour. He frowned fiercely at the two detectives whose laughter was echoing down the huge corridor.

"Ohhhhh, GOODIE!" Katie whispered to Riley, "it's Mr. CHARM!"

This triggered another fit of laughter from the terriers. Katie struggled valiantly to control her laughter. She tugged on Riley's coat sleeve, trying to get their attention back on the business at hand.

After a moment of fierce struggle, Katie and Riley finally overcame their fits of laughter. They moved closer to Pompadour, who simply stood in the hallway, his arms crossed as he continued to frown at them.

Katie had long ago given up the idea of mellowing Pompadour's sour disposition. She said simply, "Pompadour, Mrs. MacScottington IV has left some information for us on the front table in the foyer. We need to collect that information, so we can conclude our work. We'll follow you back to the foyer. Go ahead, please."

They both heard the butler clear his throat, and begin grumbling under his breath, but he did as he was instructed. It took only minutes to reach the foyer. Pompadour's paw stretched out as he gestured toward the table in the center of the room, then, mumbling under his breath,he turned and disappeared down another corridor.

Riley shook his head, amazed at the butler's persistent animosity toward them. He glanced over at Katie just in time to see her turn to follow Pompadour. In three strides, Riley managed to reach Katie, where he grabbed her by the paw.

"Leave him for later, Katie. We have better things to do. Now, come back over here so we can begin questioning the staff." Riley turned back toward the well-polished table in the foyer. He gave Katie's paw a tug, to encourage her cooperation. Hearing the sigh escape her lips, he relaxed. He'd won again!

Taking the list of staff members from the table, they soon had devised a plan that would allow them to question each person on the estate, quickly and efficiently.

Katie agreed that they would be much more effective, with a staff this size, if they split up. They would make much better use of their time if they divided the staff list and questioned the names on their portion of the list.

"Okay, Riley, I'll go locate the first name on my list. You track down the gardener. Make certain you have your notepad, and be thorough with the notes. We'll need them when we evaluate our findings later."

With a wave of her paw, Katie boldly started off down one of the many corridors that led away from the foyer.

Riley assumed he'd find the gardener outside, so he hurried out the front door, then stood a moment at the top of the steps, staring across the enormous estate. Taking a deep breath, he trotted down the steps and began searching.

An hour later, Riley was still searching. He'd finally made his way around the north end of the mansion and was moving toward the formal gardens. There, he saw an exquisite English garden, complete with a garden maze. The sound of water flowing from the elaborate marble fountain drew his attention. Hard at work near the fountain was the gardener.

Riley walked up to the gardener, held out his paw, and introduced himself.

"Hello, I'm Riley from WC Investigations. Mrs. MacScottington IV has hired us to locate a missing family heirloom for her. I'd like to ask you a few questions, if you wouldn't mind."

The gardener smiled at Riley and shook his paw with a firm, steely grip.

"No sir, I wouldn't mind at ALL. I'm the gardener here at Scottington Fair. They usually just call me "Digger". I spend all my time out here in the gardens, down there in the greenhouse, or tending the plants around the estate. I like the feel of my paws in the dirt, so working with plants gives me a lot of pleasure. I don't know what I could possibly tell you about an fact, I've never been IN the 'cottage'. The 'Mrs.' usually sends Pomp to relay her instructions. I think she's come out here maybe twice, to show what she'd like me to do with the gardens."

"Digger" leaned on the shovel he held in his paws, and waited patiently for Riley's next question.

Riley glanced around the fountain, his curiosity aroused. All around him were holes...dozens and dozens of holes. He looked at "Digger", who was calmly leaning against the shovel, returning his gaze in an unwavering stare.

"I commend you on the exquisite gardens and the beautifully maintained lawns of the estate. However, I AM most curious about the hundreds of holes you've dug throughout the garden. Surely, they do not improve the look of the garden."

Riley waited. He watched the expression change on Digger's face, he watched the apparent battle within the gardener, as he struggled to reach a decision. A loud sigh escaped from the gardener, who straightened and looked around suspiciously, before turning to Riley.

"Can you keep a secret?" Without waiting for Riley's reply, Digger continued. "I've only worked here for the past 5 months. My name is actually Dr. Digger Holecom. I'm an archaeologist at Highland University. I've spent my entire life in search of an artifact more famous than Excalibur or the Holy Grail. After 30 years of research and study, I've narrowed my search to the grounds of Scottington Fair. Somewhere beneath our paws lies the stuff of which legends are made!"

Riley's gaze automatically moved to the ground around their paws. He looked back at Digger and asked, "What is this artifact for which you search?"

"Ohhh, forgive me. I tend to get carried away when I speak of it. My life's ambition has been to locate the fabled 'Lost Bone of Brannoch'. Its existence has been proven many times in the annals of history. The last documented evidence shows that the 'Lost Bone of Brannoch' was in the possession of Thomas Jefferscottie. It disappeared into the pages of history sometime in the early 19th century and became the stuff of which legends are made. To realize that it could be right HERE, within my very grasp, takes my breath away!"

Riley listened as Digger completed his explanation, then merely responded with, "You're digging for a BONE???"

"Oh, but you must understand. THIS is no ORDINARY bone. This is the 'Bone of Brannoch'!!" Digger's eyes glowed with an inner light as he reverently repeated the legendary name.

"Okay, fine....whatever. It's the Bone of Brannoch," Riley corrected himself, then continued. "Perhaps you took Mrs. MacScottington IV's family heirloom, hoping to FINANCE your extensive digging operation here on the estate."

Riley again glanced across the garden at the holes that extended well down the slope to the garden maze. His gaze returned to Digger as he awaited the gardener's reply.

"I have no time for mere baubles. This family heirloom has nothing to do with me OR my excavations. My only interest in this supposed heirloom is that it's interrupting my search. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must 'go to ground' as it were. I've a Bone to find."

And with that, Digger grabbed his shovel and began feverishly digging yet another hole.

Riley watched the archaeologist as he dug first one hole, then another, muttering under his breath as each hole came up empty. After each failure, Digger would mumble "It's here. I know it's here. It just HAS to be here!" And he would eagerly begin another hole.

Riley quietly stepped away from the fountain, and began walking back toward the mansion. He stopped and looked back at the gardener, who never broke stride, but kept digging hole, after hole, after hole.

"He's looking for an old BONE! Amazing!" Riley thought to himself. Then, with a smile on his face, he whispered, "While he's searching, he may want to look for his SANITY!"

And with that, Riley headed back toward the mansion.

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Chapter 9

Such A Hard Life

Once again, Katie found herself lost in the maze of corridors. She was angry at herself for being in a position that would eventually require her to ask for assistance from that miserable butler, Pompadour. She shivered at the thought, and pressed on, determined to reach her destination on her own.

Katie turned a corner and continued walking. As she moved farther down the corridor, she began to hear music, growing louder and louder. "Ahhhhh, Glen Miller, my FAVORITE!" she thought to herself as she was lured onward by the vibrant rhythm.

Katie stopped at a partially open door. She stood listening,then began humming along with the well-known tune. She was taken by surprise as the door was thrown open.

In the doorway stood a stunning blonde, dressed in a silk dressing gown. She smiled as she saw the look of surprise on Katie's face.

Katie spoke first, explaining her presence in the corridor. "I was drawn by the Glen Miller on your phonograph. I couldn't help humming along. Ohhhhh, I'm Katie," she announced, offering her paw in greeting.

"I THOUGHT I heard someone out humming out here," the blonde said, as she shook Katie's paw. "Well, hello Katie. I'm Felicity. Come in, I need your opinion.I am absolutely stumped about which gown to wear tonight." She stepped back, gesturing for Katie to enter the room.

Katie entered what seemed to be another world. The bedroom was HUGE, with a sitting room as large as some ballrooms. The bed was located in its own private space, on a raised platform that made the bed appear as if it were on a balcony all its own. Katie had never seen such a room, but tried to hide her amazement. She followed the blonde across the enormous bedroom, then stopped as the blonde opened another door. Inside was the most incredible closet Katie had ever seen. She hadn't known that there could BE that many clothes in one person's closet!!

The blonde walked into the room, and headed toward a rack that stretched the length of the mammoth closet.

"Rack #12 holds THIS year's evening gowns," the blonde announced."And YOU are going to have to help me decide which of these new gowns I should wear to Cecily's soiree tonight!"

She immediately reached up and pulled down 3 gowns... one of shimmering gold lame', a breathtaking black sheath studded with small, perfect diamonds, and a rose-colored halter dress that draped exquisitely to the floor.

"Okay, Katie, which should I wear? Cecily is such a clothes horse and I certainly want to be able to hold my head up as I walk into the ballroom tonight." Felicity held each of the gowns up in front of her, and waited eagerly to hear Katie's decision.

She laughed gaily as she realized that Katie stood perfectly still, staring open-mouthed at the 3 priceless gowns.

"Ohhh, just think of them as a piece of jewelry! Just decide which one "hits" you, as I really, really would like to outshine dear Cecily at least ONCE!" Felicity's laughter tinkled gaily as she once again swung each gown around, modeling them for Katie.

Katie shook her head to clear her thinking, then eagerly joined in to help decide which gown would be worn tonight. She studied each gown with a critical eye. Finally, she reached over and took one of the gowns out of Felicity's paw.

With a broad smile, Katie announced, "THIS ONE! You'll be the 'Belle of the Ball' wearing THIS gown! I guarantee it!"

Felicity's smile was vibrant as she took the treasured gown and hung it in the dressing room. She then led Katie back to the cozy sitting room that was tucked into a corner of the huge chamber.

Katie couldn't help but admire the elegently fashionable style of the room. The sitting area took advantage of the French doors that were thrown open to allow the breezes to circulate through the well-appointed bedroom. The view through the patio doors revealed a breathtaking view of the English garden.

Felicity dropped gracefully onto a nearby chaise lounge, propped back and began chattering happily.

"Ohhhhh, you should have been here LAST week-end!" Felicity crooned. "The Pennyworth's had the MOST amazing masquerade ball!!! I went as the "Queen of Scots", and was the talk of the Ball!!! You would have loved THAT gown! The gown's skirt had a 10 foot diameter at the hem! Ohhh, and waltzing in that gown was a DREAM!!! It swayed back and forth as I danced...just like a princess!"

Katie smiled and listened patiently as Felicity talked about fashions, masquerade balls, and her busy social calendar. It amazed Katie to hear of a world that was totally unlike anything found in the 'real' world. Katie almost giggled aloud as she envisioned Felicity at Katie's bungalow, an apron tied around her designer gown, washing the dishes in the kitchen like a normal scottie.

Felicity seemed to tire of the discussion, and suddenly changed the subject completely.

"Are you here visiting, Katie, or are you here on business?" Felicity asked,as she took another sip of lemonade.

Katie replied, "Mrs. MacScottington IV asked my brother and me to locate something for her. We are here to help her do just that."

"OHHHHHHHH, you're here to help 'Grammy'!!! She SAID she was going to get someone to come out and help her find something that she'd lost. Well, I'm so glad you're here! Don't you just ADORE 'Grammy'! She's such a dear! Well, don't let me keep you. I'll let you get back to work. Thank you SOOOO very much for your help! Stop by tomorrow and I'll give you ALLL the details about Cecily and her soiree!!!"

Felicity escorted Katie to the bedroom door, and after thanking Katie once again for her invaluable wardrobe assistance, Felicity closed the door, leaving a stunned Katie standing in the corridor.

Katie stared at the closed bedroom door, then muttered to herself, "She's Mrs. MacScottington IV's GRANDDAUGHTER!!! GRAMMY?!?!?! Ohhhh, just wait until Riley finds out about Felicity!"

Katie reached down, smoothed the wrinkles out of her tailored suit, straightened her beard, and walked away from Felicity's doorway, to resume her battle with the maze of corridors.

NOW, I'm sure that you're curious--
WHICH gown did Katie select for Felicity?!?!?

Which gown would YOU have chosen???????

Chapter 10

Pompadour's Pompadour Predicament

Katie retraced her steps, heading back toward the front of the mansion. She knew that Riley would be there, waiting for her. They had ONE more interrogation, and they had finally agreed to compromise. Katie and Riley would do the questioning together, since they BOTH wanted to be in on the action. She hurried her pace, eager to tell Riley about Felicity and her incredible bedroom.

A lucky guess at intersecting corridors soon had Katie standing in the foyer, surprised at her success. Riley arrived shortly after, having completed his interrogation of the gardener.

It took only minutes for the two detectives to update each other on their findings. Then, they headed for the rear of the mansion. Their scottie noses followed the aromas, and located the huge kitchen quite easily.

Katie and Riley walked boldly into the spotless kitchen, swinging the door wide as they entered. Their gaze quickly took in their surroundings, and were pleased to see that Collette was also there, making preparations to serve Mrs. MacScottington IV's tea.

"Oh, what luck," Riley commented loudly. "We've found BOTH of the staff members we were searching for. We have questions and you get to provide the answers!"

Pompadour had turned to see who had barged into his domain, and was frowning deeply at seeing the two scotties standing in the doorway.

"You don't belong here," he snarled. "Go do your snooping somewhere else! We don't have to answer your silly little questions."

The two detectives strolled across the waxed linoleum floor toward the irate puhdul. Katie leaned forward, her muzzle only inches from the puhdul's nose.

"Wrong again, Pompadour. Actually, you WILL answer our questions!" she whispered through clenched teeth.

She moved a step closer and curled her lip, revealing one of the scottish terrier breed's best kept secrets. The angry puhdul paled considerably as he stared at the scottie's enormous set of german shepherd-sized teeth!

Riley was enjoying this immensely! He smiled to himself, then leaned back against the counter, getting comfortable. He knew that Katie had looked forward to interrogating Pompadour, as the two were not on the best of terms. She was closing in on Pompadour now. This was about to become VERY entertaining.

"Pompadour, my patience is wearing a tad thin. Let me explain this to you a little more slowly. I'm going to ask you some questions. Now, when I ask you a question, I will expect you to provide me with some ANSWERS. Oh, and DO try to be honest and truthful, because my brother DOES dislike being around ANYONE who is dishonest."

Katie's paw gestured casually toward Riley, who presented the group with a toothy smile. Pompadour sagged against the stove, as he noticed that Riley's teeth were even larger than Katie's.

The butler quietly nodded, resigned to the fact that he would have to answer the detectives' questions. He backed away from the scotties, wanting to be as far from those teeth as possible, and waited for the interrogation to begin.

"You two do not seem to be loyal members of the Scottington Fair staff. You always seem to be lurking around corners," Katie commented casually. "How long have you worked here?"

Collette was not holding up well under the stress of the situation. She was wringing her paws and kept glancing nervously around the room at the two detectives. The teacup in her paw began to rattle as her nerves became more frayed.

Riley immediately homed in on the maid's weakness, and stepped closer to her. He said nothing, but merely directed his unwavering gaze in her direction.

Pompadour saw Riley's change of position and spoke out. "You leave her ALONE. She's done nothing to you. Deal with ME and leave her alone!"

Katie spun around quickly. "And WHY would we want to do THAT, Pompadour??? Why would we want to leave Collette OUT of this little conversation?"

Pompadour was almost shouting, as he answered, "Because she's my DAUGHTER!!"

"WELL NOW. We're finally getting somewhere," Katie remarked. "But, I believe you're still avoided my FIRST question. How long have you worked here at Scottington Fair?"

Pompadour appeared defeated as he answered quietly. "Four months," he stated flatly.

"Good.... now, since we've been here, we've noticed you two standing outside doorways, lurking in corridors, and behaving suspiciously. What are you two up to? Perhaps you found a little piece of Mrs. MacScottington IV's jewelry and have taken it for yourself!"

Collette spoke for the first time. "NO! It's not LIKE that! Poppy is only trying to help ME," she cried. "My life's goal has always been to attend the Puhdul Grooming Ecole. Poppy was trying to raise the money so I could attend Paris' famed grooming school."

"And snatching that collar would JUST about cover your grooming school tuition, as well as set you up with your own business, afterward!" Katie suggested, as her eyes narrowed dangerously.

"We didn't TAKE that collar," Pompadour barked. "We have BETTER ways to earn her tuition!"

He hesitated then, as if he'd said too much. He immediately saw the two terriers stiffen, he watched as they both seemed to close in on him. He now knew how prey felt.

"Okay, Pompadour," Katie crooned as she stared directly into the butler's wavering gaze. "Just WHAT is your sure-fire method to raise tuition money?"

Collette replied, "We've been listening at doorways and gathering information. We've been selling information to anyone who's interested in what goes on around here!"

Katie and Riley stared at each other, their faces concealing their shock. "They're SPIES!!"

Chapter 11

Unmasking the Stranger

Katie and Riley quickly shook off their amazement. They stared at Pompadour and his daughter for almost a full minute, then moved to the far end of the enormous kitchen to evaluate the situation.

"Okay," Riley whispered. "We KNOW they've been listening at keyholes, but who're they selling the information TO? Wait a you remember when we were questioning Mr. Barrister? Did you notice a shadow in the window?"

Katie nodded, then added, "I saw a figure flash across the window, but was concentrating on Mr. Barrister. What if the figure in the window was actually looking for Pompadour and Collette! I have an idea!!! Let's keep these two here in the kitchen. It shouldn't be too much of a problem... we'll just give them our best 'scottie smile'! Then let's go plan a search."

Riley agreed with the plan, then turned to the butler and his daughter. "We have some things to attend to, but we WILL expect you to remain here. I'll be back shortly to check on you, and let me repeat... I DO expect you to remain here!"

"And WHAT do you suggest we DO, while we wait for you??? We have work to do in the mansion. We can't just SIT here!" Pompadour's attitude had returned.

Katie turned and sneered at the pompous puhdul. "Wash some dishes, reline the shelves, make cookies... it doesn't matter to ME! Just BE here!!" She emphasized her closing remark with a curl of her lip, then she and Riley hurried from the room.

They returned to the Summer Parlor, closing the door quietly behind them as they entered. They re-enacted their movements of that morning, then reviewed what they'd seen at the window. Riley stepped over to the window in question, and gazed out onto the lawn, deep in thought.

Katie crossed the room to the immense fireplace, and sat down in the plush wingchair that sat nearby. She, too, was thinking through the events of the day, going over all of the facts in her mind.

"Ya know," Katie mused aloud, "we can eliminate several of our suspects. We HAVE verified some of the alibis. Why don't we...."

She was interrupted by Riley's hurried whisper. "Katie, there are fresh pawprints next to the shrubbery. I would BET that whoever we saw outside this window earlier today is STILL on the estate. Ya feel like doing a little tracking?"

Katie smiled broadly at the prospect of getting out of the mansion, away from Pompadour and his daughter, and getting the opportunity to breathe in some fresh air. She shifted her skirt as she prepared to get up from the chair. Her paw slipped down between the chair and the cushion. Her sharp intake of breath was the only sign that something had happened. She leaped up from the chair, raced across the room, and whispered excitedly into his furry ear. He smiled broadly as he gave Katie a kiss on her cheek.

"Wait!" Katie said. "We have to lay a trap, we must completely unravel the how/why/who of this mystery."

She and Riley excitedly made their plans to close this case. Katie waited impatiently in the Summer Parlor as Riley raced out the door. He soon returned, a keyring in his paw, and a smile on his face.

"Well, our friendly butler was NOT pleased about turning over his set of keys! But, since he had no choice, he had to deal with the disappointment!" Riley smiled at his own humor. Dangling the keys noisily in his paws, he beckoned Katie toward the doorway. The two detectives exited the Summer Parlor, locking it securely behind them.

As they emerged from the mansion, they headed around to the windows of the Summer Parlor. They knew that they could begin tracking from the pawprints Riley had seen in the soft soil. It took several minutes to make their way around the huge mansion. As soon as they reached their destination, they began studying the prints, then, with their muzzles close to the ground, they began tracking.

The prints led them around the mansion, to the rear of the huge home. Katie and Riley realized immediately who had made these prints, and eagerly increased their pace. As they made their way around a very large bush, they saw him. He was dressed in an old overcoat, with a brown fedora pulled down low to cover his face. He was lurking behind a large oak tree, glancing nervously around, and was definitely trying his best to AVOID being seen.

Katie and Riley split up, each making a wide sweep around, and approached their target from behind. Riley was the first to reach the stranger, and tapped him lightly on the shoulder. The startled stranger bolted, intending to evade capture. As he raced around the juniper bush, he ran straight into Katie, who quickly grabbed the stranger by his collar.

"GOING somewhere?" she asked pleasantly. With another jerk on the shabby coat collar, she pulled him along behind her. Riley joined Katie almost immediately, and took a position on the other side of the stranger. Together, they escorted the shabby stranger back to the mansion.

The two detectives pulled the stranger to a halt in the foyer, surrounded by extravagant furnishings, portraits of ancestors, family coat of arms, and obvious wealth. Standing in the cavernous foyer, they began firing questions.

"Who are you?" Riley demanded.

"Who wants to know," jeered the shabby stranger.

"I would drop that nasty little attitude, if I were you," suggested Katie softly. "You REALLY don't want to aggravate us."

Riley stepped directly in front of the stranger, and with a steely-eyed gaze, repeated, "Who are you?"

A sigh escaped the stranger's lips, as he replied, "I'm Tota Lee Nosey, and I have every right to be here."

"Well, why don't we just call the security officers and let THEM decide whether or not you have a right to slink around on PRIVATE property!" Riley's gaze narrowed dangerously.

"Okay, okay!" Tota Lee retorted. "Don't get your beard in a wad. What do you want to know?"

"Why are you here?" Katie demanded.

"Came to see Pompadour," Tota Lee replied. "He has something for me. I make regular trips over here to see him. Been coming for the last couple of months. Very lucrative for me, too!"

"All of it, Tota Lee. Tell us ALL of it. You're not leveling with us, not completely," Riley challenged, taking another step toward him.

"All RIGHT! Geesh! Okay, I'm a reporter. Pompadour gives me scoops of gossip he learns around here. This family is a gold mine. Betweem their activities and those of their wealthy friends, I ALWAYS have good stuff for my editors. Surely you've heard of my publication, the "National Blab". We're a quality publication, and these MacScottington gals oughta be thanking their lucky stars that we're even HERE!"

Katie rolled her eyes. "Yeah, SURE...Mrs. MacScottington IV is tickled PINK to have the National Blab camping out on her doorstep. Come on, let's go!"

Katie gave Tota Lee a push toward the corridor. She and Riley escorted Tota Lee to the Summer Parlor, where they sat him down in a straight chair in the corner.

Katie and Riley moved back toward the door, where they made their plans for the coming group session. "You stay here and watch Tota Lee," Katie suggested, while I go gather our cast of characters."

Smiling, Riley answered, "I do believe we're about to have another very happy client. Hurry back with our guests. We have a solved mystery to reveal!!!"

He leaned back against the door, as Katie hurried away. He watched Tota Lee shift uncomfortably in the straight chair, and smiled. This was going to be SUCH fun!! He always DID think that announcing the solution of the mystery was the best part of a case!!! And this one was solved!

Chapter 12

The Truth Revealed

Riley heard the grumbling before he saw the group come through the hand-carved mahogony double doors. As they entered, he heard more mumbling, arguing, and complaining. Katie quieted the group and instructed everyone to be seated. She took Mrs. MacScottington IV by the paw and escorted her to the plush wingchair beside the enormous fireplace. With everyone ready, she nodded to Riley.

Riley stepped over to the massive fireplace, and propped his elbows on the mantle. With an air of confidence, he casually announced, "Mrs. MacScottington, we would like to take this opportunity to solve your mystery."

He saw the dowager's eyes widen, and watched the smile spread across her face. He continued, "Katie and I are from Wild Child Investigations. Mrs. MacScottington IV hired us to recover a piece of jewelry for her. We have interviewed each of the staff members, and are ready to announce our findings... and to return the jewelry to Mrs. MacScottington IV."

Katie watched the group as they glanced suspiciously at the others seated around the room. She turned back to Riley, and smiled secretly.

Riley explained, "Katie and I arrived at Scottington Fair, where we examined the scene of the disappearance. We saw someone fleeing the scene, and discovered Mr. Barrister, here, running down the hall."

Mr. Barrister cleared his throat, about to object to the description, when Riley raised his paw for quiet, and continued.

"After interrogating Mr. Barrister," Riley said, "we found that he was not attempting to steal the jewels, but merely attempting to preserve his reputation. He had apparently lost his copy of Mr. MacScottington IV's will, and was trying to locate hers to make a copy for HIS files. He, therefore, isn't a thief. Mr. Barrington's only crime is that of careless, if the cat did, indeed, eat the will!!"

Ignoring the muffled snickers, Riley continued. "Our next scottie of interest was the gardener, Digger. But, a lengthy conversation revealed him to actually be Dr. Digger Holecom."

"A DOCTOR!?!?!?!" Felicity crooned. "Ohhhh, Digger......errrrrr, Doctor Digger, I have a dreadful pain, right here." She pointed to a ring-covered paw.

"Hush, sweetling," Mrs. MacScottington patted her granddaughter's paw lovingly. "Your rings are merely too tight. We'll simply have to buy you new ones that are more comfortable. Now, quiet, sweetling. Let's see what our detectives have to say." She gave her granddaughter a soft smile, then turned her attention back to Riley.

"What is this about Digger being a Doctor?" she asked brusquely. "You will explain this, now."

Riley shook his head at the change in Mrs. MacScottington IV's attitude, then continued. "He is an archaeologist from Highland University. The good Doctor has been in search of an ancient artifact that he seems to think is buried in your English garden...which would explain the hundreds of holes in your landscape."

"Holes??? What holes?" Mrs. MacScottington IV demanded.

Riley sighed. "He's been other words, DIGGING! He's searching for the Lost Bone of Brannoch. He had no reason to even BE in the mansion, he had no clue that the jewel existed, and quite honestly, he was too busy digging holes to steal the jewel."

"Okay, then...who was it?" Mrs. MacScottington IV asked sharply.

Katie broke in. "Our most interesting interrogation was with your butler, Pompadour. You may be interested to know, Mrs. MacScottington, that Pompadour was selling information about your family to the National Blab. He had a lot of help from his daughter, Collette! And THIS fellow," Katie gestured toward the shabby reporter who stood in the corner, "has been lurking around your estate, gathering gossip to publish in his newspaper."

"How DARE you!!" Mrs. MacScottington IV glared fiercely at her butler. "I no longer need your services. You're DISMISSED!" She lifted her muzzle in the air defiantly.

"Never you mind, Mrs.MacScottington. Collette and I have already secured a position down the lane at FruFru Farms. Mrs. FiFi LePome was MOST eager to engage our services. We will be well rid of this group of uncouth terriers. We will, therefore, bid you adieu!" With that, Pompadour took Collette by the paw and led her from the room, and out of the MacScottington's lives.

Mrs. MacScottington was incensed. She turned on Riley. "You've eliminated all of the suspects. Where is my collar, young man???"

"Ohhh, Grammy!! Is THAT what you're looking for??? No one mentioned WHAT you were searching for, just that you'd lost a jewel! You told me I could use some of the family jewels as part of my Queen of Scots costume for last week-end's masquerade ball. That collar was PERFECT with my gown!" Felicity had moved across to her grandmother's side, where she perched on the arm of the wingchair.

"Ohh,Sweetling, of COURSE you could use the family jewels. But that was last week-end!!! The collar isn't in the safe, precious. Think back... what did you do with the collar?"

Felicity thought for a moment, then answered. "I got home about 3:30 A.M. I was tired, but not yet sleepy, so I came in here, and curled up in your favorite chair." Felicity patted the arm of the chair. "I remember taking the collar off, as well as the diamond tiara, and the bangle bracelets. I'm SURE I put them back into the safe."

Katie walked over to Mrs. MacScottington and spoke quietly. "I think you might want to check under your cushion. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Mrs. MacScottington did as she was told. She stood, turned around, and lifted the cushion. The missing diamond necklace sparkled brightly in the light. A great squeal of delight escaped her lips, as she picked up the beloved collar.

"But'd it get THERE? I was CERTAIN that I put it back. How on earth did it get THERE?" Felicity's confusion was obvious.

Katie asked Felicity, "You were curled up here in the chair. You took the jewels off. Where'd you lay them?"

"Well, I put them in my lap, then I leaned back and dozed off. When I woke up later, I remembered picking up the tiara, the chandelier earrings, and the bracelets and .... WAIT!! The collar wasn't in my lap then! What happened?"

Katie smiled as she looked at Mrs. MacScottington IV. "Felicity took off the jewels, put them in her lap, and dozed off. Waking up later, groggy from a night at the ball, she picked up the jewels and returned them to the safe. However, the collar, being so much heavier...slid off her lap and down between the cushions. With that many jewels in her paws, she didn't realize it was missing."

"Ohhhhhhhh, THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!" Mrs. MacScottington exclaimed. "You've done a remarkable job! We would never have found this. We are indebted to you, and we're ever so grateful!! Thank you!"

Felicity added her thanks. "Truly, I thank you. It had slipped my mind completely! How grand of you to help us locate this."

Turning to her Grandmother, she added, "Ohhh, Grammy, I'm so sorry I've put you through this. I feel simply dreadful!" A reassuring pat from Grammy showed that all was forgiven.

Riley moved over next to Katie, and draped his paw over her shoulder. "Mrs. MacScottington, we have completed our task. Your diamond collar has been returned to you. We will now bid you farewell."

"Thank you, young man. If ever there is a need for a detective, I'll be SURE to call Wild Child Investigations! I am eternally in your debt!"

Katie and Riley smiled and turned to leave the room. As they reached the door, Riley moved to the corner, grabbed Tota Lee by the sleeve, and pulled him out of the room. Reaching the front steps of the mansion, they handed a grumbling Tota Lee over to the security staff, then headed for Riley's Packard.

The motor roared to life, as the two detectives headed back down the driveway, and away from Scottington Fair. They glanced at each other as the Packard sped back toward the highway. Katie smiled broadly, patted Riley on the paw, and stated simply, "My, MY...we ARE good!!!"

As the detectives of WC Investigations drove down the driveway and out of sight, only the sound of their laughter lingered on the breeze.


The REST of the Story

There is always life AFTER a BASH. So it is with our characters.

Mrs. MacScottington, a widow, married Mr. Barrister, only after he agreed to sign a prenuptial agreement.

Felicity was featured on an episode of "Amazing Closets" on the Stylish Scottie tv network.

Dr. Digger Holecom received a grant to search for the Lost Bone of Brannoch, and began bulldozing the English gardens.

Tota Lee Nosey was fired from the National Blab, and ended up as a writer for "C@T World".

Pompadour and Collette discovered, too late, that FruFru Farms was owned by Roy and Roberta Rottweiler.

Katie and Riley were called back to Scottington Fair, to take delivery of a gift from Mrs. MacScottington IV.

And, so it goes....... in the world of a 'film noir' BASH.

This ORIGINAL story has been created and written by Carol Johnson .
Original artwork is the exclusive property of artist, Karen Donnelly.
Neither the story, NOR the illustrations are to reproduced in ANY way
without the EXPRESS written consent of the author !!!

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