It was a gloomy afternoon. A quiet little girl is looking from a broken window creek. She was looking at the deserted balcony of the house lying across the street. It is raining cats and dogs for 3 days straight. There’s hardly any activity on the road.
An old feeble businessman lived across the street- an amiable man with a dark past. He has an illustrious family who has disowned him or he deserted them. One couldn’t tell the truth these days. Either way, Mr. Robinson was a lonely man. A man of few words by nature Mr. Robinson scarcely had any friends. He had only one friend in his solitary life.
A child named Polly living with her parents across the street.
Every day they spoke through the window creek. Mr. Robinson from his balcony and Polly from her room. The girl couldn’t speak and Mr. Robinson couldn’t hear. Together, they formed a lovely friendship that’s written in sign language.
“How’s your school going?” inquired Mr. Robinson.
“Ah! The usual clamoring about silly nothings”, answered Polly.
“What happened to your mystery?” she enquired after a brief pause.
“It’s still going strong. Got another piece of the puzzle, today” said Mr. Robinson.
“What’s in it? How does it look? Did you recognize it? Can I see it” Polly bombarded Mr. Robinson with a string of questions.
Thus went their routine conversation- the sweet nothing of the usual suspects.
10-year-old Polly lived with her parents Amy and Daniel Hudson. The Hudson daughter was quite a sleuth. Having survived solely on detective stories, Polly often behaved like a detective. She is always in search of a mystery. Mr. Robinson’s picture puzzle is her new mystery. She is hooked on those torn pictures, eagerly waiting for the next piece.
It’s been a month since Mr. Robinson started receiving those torn pictures. At first, he disregarded them as a harmless prank. Later, it dawned on him that someone is trying to take revenge.
“Who could it be?” he wondered.
Surely, something from his glorious dark days.
“They are a mystery by itself”, laughed Mr. Robinson.
The business tycoon Jack Robinson had lived quite a flamboyant life in his younger days. Right from school to college to his early work – his mischievous always caught up with him.
Since that day, he received a torn picture every Sunday.
Last week, the torn picture showed a playground with 2 children standing – only their legs with track pants were visible. Every time Mr. Robinson tried to recognize it but he failed miserably. The picture had an unfamiliar familiarity which he couldn’t gauge. It was as if he was one of those headless children shown in the picture.
This week he received another part of the torn picture. This time they were wearing trousers and standing in front of a school like building. Still headless and without the name of the school building. The school symbol on their trousers was blackened by a marker. As if someone wanted to hide it.
The picture came with a note this time. It had a popular nursery rhym written on it.
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Jill is back.
The last line was written in red. As if it was a warning.
“Good Lord!” exclaimed Mr. Robinson as he read the note.
Jill was his childhood sweetheart. His best friend and companion from the school days who has died long ago. They were the best of friends. They used to hum this rhyme all through the day. As if it was written for them – Jack Robinson and Jill Anderson. They made a ritual out of it. Their own little secret. A ritual to greet each other with this rhyme whenever they meet.
“What does this mean?”
“Jill couldn’t be alive. Or is she?”
“How is that even possible? I trapped her in the well, myself.”
Mr. Robinson was plagued with all these thoughts. His friend Jill had died by drowning in a well. She didn’t know how to swim. The local newspapers confirmed the news the following morning and the school was full of gossip the whole week. Then everyone forgot about Jill and the drowning story.
“Someone is trying to frighten me”, thought Mr. Robinson.
He kept aside the note and went about his daily business.
2 weeks went by without any letter. There wasn’t a sign of Jill. The menace seems to have ended. Suddenly, there came a letter with the puzzle. It contained the rest of the torn pieces and the final note. The picture of Jack Robinson and Jill Anderson standing on the playground of Riverdale High School. The note read,
Tomorrow 12 o’clock.
Again all in red but written with a different handwriting. It was Jill’s handwriting.
Mr. Robinson spent the day restlessly, anxiously waiting for the tomorrow of 12 o’clock. At last, the time came. It was raining cats and dogs for 3 days. A white sedan went through the road. It went up and down the deserted road few times. As if to check something.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man appeared on the front door of the Robinson House. He was wearing a black coat. Polly was watching all this through the window creek. She was waiting for Mr. Robinson to come on the balcony but he wasn’t there. Instead, there was this unusual activity down the street. The detective in her knew that something was wrong.
Unable to do anything she kept an eye on the road and waited for her parents’ arrival. As soon as her parents arrived Polly informed them about the mysterious man entering The Robinson House. By then, the entire neighborhood was on fire. Everyone got hold of murder news.
Mr. Robinson was suffocated to death.
This was the reason why Polly’s parents returned early. They were worried about her. Hearing her activities made them more worrisome.
“What to do? Should we go to the police?” murmured Mr. Hudson.
“But will they believe us? After all, she is a mute girl”, said Mrs. Hudson.
They didn’t have to wait long. The police came interrogating to their house. They saw that this house stood exactly opposite of The Robinson House and the crime scene was clearly visible from here.
Mr. and Mrs. Hudson told them about their daughter’s adventure. The police understood the gravity of the matter and soon an interpreter was called to communicate with the mute child.
“I see, you and Mr. Robinson were friends,” said the inspector.
“Yes, we were partners in crime. We solved mysteries”, said Polly.
“What kind of mystery?” asked the inspector?
“The mystery of the torn pictures” answered Polly.
“We didn’t find any pictures. Do you know where they are? What was in it?”
“Just 2 headless children. Here, I have them with me”
Jack Robinson had sent 2 of the torn pictures to his partner in crime, Polly. He knew handing them over to Polly would be safer than keeping them to himself. Whoever was after him would surely leave no trace.
The police looked at the torn pictures and went on with their questioning.
“Did you see anything suspicious today?” asked the inspector.
“I saw a gentleman with a black coat entering the Robinson house”, answered Polly.
“Yes, usually he didn’t have any visitors but today there was two.”
“You mean you saw 2 people entering the house?”
“Not exactly but I heard the honking sound of a car a few minutes later. As I ran down the stairs to catch a glimpse of them I saw a white sedan driving away. A lady and the gentleman with black coat was sitting on the back seat”, said Polly.
“I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference. So, all I can tell you is why he was murdered”, said a disheartened Polly.
“What? You know why he was murdered?” exclaimed the startled inspector.
“It’s hidden in those pictures. Jack died because of them” said Polly.
“What do you mean? Are the murderers after those pictures? Do they have any secret information?” enquired the inspector.
“That I don’t know. The answer lies in the last clue. The last piece of the torn picture”, said Polly.
The Police were baffled by all this. They searched all over the place but couldn’t find the note or the last torn piece of the pictures. They suspected that the assailants had taken it with them.
They seem to have got a lead but didn’t know how to proceed with it. They started enquiring about the white sedan but nobody in the neighborhood seems to have seen it. As if it had come from nowhere and vanished into oblivion leaving a witness in the form of a mute girl.
3 weeks went by without any progress and police was going to close the case file when suddenly they got news. News of a white sedan with a packet of torn picture. Someone had found this deserted car and wanted to sell it at a low rate. The local police suspected of a connection and informed the inspector. It was indeed the same car on which Mr. Robinson’s assailant fled. The car belonged to some Ms. Jenny Levingston who claimed to be a bachelorette.
Further, investigation revealed the truth. The car actually belonged to Mr. Nathan Robinson, Jenny’s husband who happened to be Mr. Robinson’s estranged son. It was Nathan who planned this murder. He was after his mother’s money and estate. Nathan was well aware of his father’s weakness. He knew that Jack Robinson held himself responsible for Jill’s accident. Nathan exploited that in order to extract money and property. Ultimately, when his father saw through his plan, he decided to kill him. Hence, the murder.
The police decided to honor Polly for her quick wit and bravery. They shared the credit with the mute girl, the super sleuth.
“10-year-old mute girl solves THE ROBINSON MURDER MYSTERY”
Read the newspaper headline, the next day.
Polly has finally solved a case. She has become a super sleuth.
But she has lost her partner in crime in the process.
Perhaps this was Mr. Robinson’s gift. A real-life murder mystery.