The raffish detective, with his well-cut suit and natty walking stick, click-clacked into the house and brusquely entered the library, whereupon he divested himself of his gloves and inspected the ears of the body draped over the table.
“This man is dead,” he said.
“No, sir,” said the constable. “He’s re—… sleeping, sleeping, sir.”
“If he isn’t dead and is, in fact, sleeping, and this has been established beyond a doubt, why am I here? In fact, why are any of us here?”
“That’s because he died a month ago, sir. Buried and all. And the mistress wakes up today and finds him at his usual spot. She’s in the kitchen, sir. Sobbing. Matron’s attending to her.”
“And he won’t wake up?”
“No, sir. We tried alarms, sir. And screams of ‘fire, fire’. Constable Usherman even whacked him on the bottom with a stick, sir. But Usherman has some odd tastes, sir. The doctor says he might be in a coma. The gentleman, sir, not Usherman.”
“So take him to the hospital, constable. Time’s a-wasting.”
“And you’ll investigate, sir?”
“He came back to life.”
“Oh. Oh, yes, yes. Slipped my mind. I’ll investigate the … er … lack of death. On second thought, leave the body here. It suits the library ambience.”
The detective sat in the comfortable armchair behind the body, draped his legs over an arm of the chair, slid his hat down over his forehead, clasped his hands over his belly and began staring at the body from under his hat in a stance that, to a casual audience, might appear akin to snoozing.
The constable made to leave the room.
“Constable,” the detective mumbled.
“The commissioner wished to meet with me today regarding the matter of the stolen corpse.”
“Oh, sir? I read your report on that, sir. Very funny.”
“Yes, thank you. The commissioner disagrees. Would you please inform him that I won’t be in today? Thank you.”