Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Musgrave Poem

Arriving home from their adventures, the Musgraves (and friends) return home, where Geoffery Musgrave, with some amount of groaning, set to the mountain of paperwork that awaited him. However, a letter awaited him: his great Uncle had passed away, and in so doing, left a small amount of money to various members of his family - among them being the Musgraves. They were invited to a meeting a few days hence at the Musgrave Manor. The uncle, Reginald Musgrave, was already buried, but the will was to be read; additionally, since Reginald was quite the fan of parties, a huge event was to be thrown, and thus guests were encouraged to bring friends and family.

Bertie attempted to learn how to throw knives from Jo; he was... mildly successful. Depending on who you asked.

Desmond St. Price, happy that his nephew was enjoying his time with the Musgraves, left him in their care, though took Penelope with him. Veronica was tired from her travels, and remained at home; Frances decided to keep her company, while Jo opted to go with the Lady Musgrave.

Two days later, they were moved into their rooms (Piper, who drove everyone there, stayed with the other help in the employee housing), and at 9 AM promptly, the reading of the will commenced. The barrister, Roger M. Gently, read the will - the house and the little fortune that remained was to go to Reggie (Lord Reginald's grandson, Lord Reginald Musgrave IV) and his wife. However, there is a treasure, hidden somewhere on the property; were it to be found, its wealth would be divided amongst the family and friends, and part given to the British Museum. The treasure was connected to a poem:

Find the face that workers tread
Hook the eye and wet its head
Pull the teeth and be then lead
With other kings to buy our bread

The barrister clears his throat, and added, "In a strange turning of fate, the treasure was uncovered by Lord Reginald himself only three weeks ago, though he refused to say where it was, only that he would write down its location in his will. Unfortunately, that time never came, as his illness was very sudden. His will stands as written, if the treasure is rediscovered."

There is some discussion, in which the family agrees that apart from a small fee - "Spending money, wot wot" - the treasure should be donated to the museum. Most of the family were only somewhat interested in the treasure itself.

As the reading was wrapping up, Bertie noticed another boy his age - Humphrey Silversmith II - sitting behind one of Reggie's friends, Me. Eustace Spode. Seeing Bertie, Humphrey put his finger to his lips, then stood up, back up a few feet, and laughed uproariously, catching the attention of the adults. As Spode turned, he tripped on his shoelaces - tied together by the bratty child.

In the crowd of distant relatives and their friends, there were a few that actually seemed interested in treasure hunting, among them Mr. Rudolf "Kipper" Herring, Mr. Freddie Glossop and his friend Mr. Edgar "Bicky" Bickersteth, Mr. Cuthbert Wilberforce, and Miss Cora "Corky" Winkworth.

First, the family went to investigate the garden, and its sundial, suspecting the "face". While Lady Musgrave and Piper spoke with the gardener, George Bingley, Bertie and Jo picked their way into the garden shed, then quickly fled the scene when Lady Musgrave wandered over. She looked over the shed, but saw nothing of importance. While she was investigating, Bertie decided to relieve himself on the shed, and was caught and firmly cuffed for his impertinence.

Hearing that Professor Enoch Bassington-Bassington knew quite a bit about the history of the house, they returned to the house to speak with him. He told them that the house itself was only 215 years old, but the stables (and attached workers quarters) were quite old, having been built in 1192, originally as a small barracks. The barracks was converted to living quarters for servants, but the stable is still used for horses. He mentioned that Sir Oswald "Pigeon" Widgeon knew more about the actual poem and associated treasure, but the party decided to head to the stables.

Bertie explored the barracks/living quarters, and tried the doors, but found nothing in the open ones. The three locked doors belonged to Emily Byng, the maid, George the gardener, and Piper, temporarily next to George. Finding nothing interesting, he joined the rest of the party. Lady Musgrave's keen eyes spotted a strange looking stone in the floor - the face of a winking fat man, with a snaggle-toothed grin. Looking closely, she realized his "eye" was actually a hole! Bertie grabbed a hook off the wall, and managed to wrestle it into the eye, as Jo poured some water from her canteen on the face. Pulling the hook did nothing, and for a few moments they were stumped. Finally, Jo and Bertie left to get some water from the well. Returning and pouring the full bucket on the stone's "head", they watched the water quickly drain into a tiny crack. A moment later, there was a clunk! Jo and Bertie gave the hook another pull, and this time, the stone tilted, and slid across, revealing narrow stairs down!

With her torch (flashlight) in hand, Lady Musgrave led the way. Inside, they found an entryway, that lead to a small workroom (with a heavy bronze hammer), and finally a bedroom of a sort. Lady Musgrave spotted a shelf, surrounded with scraps of rotted leather; as Bertie carefully put the pieces of the "puzzle" together, she took a closer look. Something wooden was kept on a low stone shelf, next to what Bertie pieced together - a bag that could hold roughly a basketball. Jo discovered a scrap of pink taffeta, torn and stuck to a loose nail in the doorway.

Whatever treasure was here... someone else had discovered it, and stolen it!

As they returned to the light of the stable, one of the youth came to inform them that lunch was prepared (The chef lived in town, and thus didn't stay in the barracks).

The adventure will conclude... next time! Whenever that is.

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