From The Case of Jack the Nipper ~ A Chronicle of Mister Marmee (Book 1 of the Chronicles of Mister Marmee):

From Mister Marmee and Sir Happy's conversation with Lady Jasmine - an ex-pit dog rescued from the streets by the loving Dibgins family...


    “I was very weak from the loss of blood and very close to being too weak to maintain my hold. Then I saw it. Someone had left the door open. Freedom was before me, and I ran for it. I ran out the door and didn’t look back. I ran until I collapsed. If I was going to die, it would be on my terms, free from the bondage which had dictated my life. I welcomed the oblivion of unconsciousness and the tranquility of death. I never expected to wake up in the arms of love.”

    Miss Jasmine looked over at the sleeping form next to her. I could see the tenderness and love she felt for the boy. It transcended words, and were I to attempt to express the passion of what I saw, I would fail miserably. I could no sooner ensnare the wind and make myself its master, than I could capture the power of love between this lady and her boy and convey it in a manner which would bring the reader to the pinnacle of the beauty which I saw. I was completely ensnared by the enchantment of a love which could so completely deliver a creature like Miss Jasmine from the chains of her tortured past. I wanted to know more. I needed to know more. The murder case, the investigation all melted away, and I found myself enveloped in the warm embrace of an exquisite love story.

    Never taking her eyes off of the child, the dear lady continued her tale. “The first thing I remember was being lifted off of the ground and wrapped in a warm blanket. There was a gentle touch on my face and body, filled with a tenderness I had never known, not even when I was in the care of my mother. Then I heard the voice of an angel say, ‘Will she make it Papa? Are we too late to save her?’ It was my boy holding my broken body with a tenderness not even a mother could give, and it was my boy who pleaded for my life, when there was so little left in me.”

    Miss Jasmine turned her peaceful gaze back to Sir Happy and me and said, “You see, Hercules, Papa, and my boy were on their way home late the same evening of my final fight. My boy saw my bloody body lying on the road and begged Papa to stop. When Papa discovered I was still alive, he scooped me up and wrapped me in a blanket, laying my head on his little one’s lap. My family took me home and cared for my wounds, all the while praying that God would let me live. My boy never left my side. When I was too weak to lift my head to eat or drink, he held it for me. He even chewed on the meat before giving it to me so I wouldn’t have to use my strength to do it. And when the nights got cold, my boy lay beside me, keeping me warm with the heat from his own body.”

    “In time, my body mended but what I needed more than anything was for my heart to heal. My boy gave me that. They all did. They made me whole. In this place, I have never had a hand raised against me nor has there ever been a harsh word thrown in my direction. I have been given life in these four walls, and it began the day my family found me. I speak not of just my physical life. I speak of the life which is now woven into the hearts of my family, where tenderness is the air I breathe and laughter and joy are the food I eat and where love is the warm haven which shelters me from the barren cold of loneliness. Here, surrounded by my beloved family, I need never fear the fighter’s circle again.”
From The Case of the Wayward Fae ~ A Chronicle of Mister Marmee (Book 1 of the Chronicles of Mister Marmee)(Coming Soon):



    It was a rundown ramshackle cottage on the outside that was nearly swallowed by the winter remnants of brambles and overgrown shrubbery. The windows were mostly boarded up, giving the impression it hadn’t been lived in for years. Most of the exterior paint had peeled away from the clapboards, but from what I could see through the tangle of dead vegetation, it had originally been a rather handsome shade of blue. Why Mowbry had allowed his home to fall into such disarray, I could not say, but it did make one wonder if we had come to the right place.

    “Good heavens,” Charles exclaimed. “Are you quite certain this is where Mowbry lives? This place looks abandoned.”

    The constable chuckled. “Don’t let the appearances deceive you, Mister Hurst,” Rutledge said. “Mowbry is a sly old fox that knows it is easier to hide things of value behind a dusty curtain of deception. You will see what I mean when we go inside.”

    I did notice when we first broke through the trees and underbrush surrounding Mowbry’s cottage that a thin trail of smoke arose from the dilapidated chimney. It was evidence enough of habitation, but the exterior was so different from what one would expect from a man’s home that it was easy enough to miss.

    “It appears as though Mowbry has had a guest,” Sir Happy barked from his perch. The snow on the ground had indeed been churned about as though at least one horse had ploughed its way through the winter barrier within the last day or so. “I hope that doesn’t mean we have arrived too late.” I knew at that moment Sir Happy was referring to the possibility that our suspect had flown the coop, but little did we know at the time that his statement would take on an entirely different and more sinister meaning.

    We disengaged from our horses and walked around the perimeter of the cottage where the snow depths were not as high. Of course Sir Happy and I rested within the arms of our human companions, as the snow levels were still too deep for either one of us to walk. At the back of the cottage was a small shack that acted as a stable for Mowbry’s horse. She was a russet colored mare with a black ring around her eye.

    “How many horses does Mowbry own?” Charles asked.

    “Just the one,” the constable said.

    “Then we are in luck. Mowbry is at home or least his horse is,” Charles said cheerfully.

    “Yes,” said Rutledge, “It would appear so. I think it best that we cover both modes of egress. You take the door in back here and I shall go to the front and knock. In case he attempts an untimely escape through the back, you shall be here to stop him.”

    I could hear Rutledge as he pounded on the front door. “Mowbry, this is Constable Rutledge here. I need to speak with you about your statement, sir. I have a few more questions.” There was no response. “Mowbry! Open in the name of the law!” There was the squeaking of rusty old hinges and then the sounds of Sir Happy barking. Within moments, the backdoor was opened by Constable Rutledge with a most dour look upon his face. “You had better come in Mister Hurst,” he said.

    We walked through the kitchen, past the dining area, and into a main living space. It was there that we found the body dangling from the central beam of the room. His face was disfigured but I could tell it was the man who had bore witness to finding Nicky and Jones in the snow.

    “It appears as though we are too late after all,’ Sir Happy said, wryly.

    “How long has he been like this?” I asked.

    “It appears as though he is in full rigor mortis, so I would say perhaps 12 hours or more,” Sir Happy replied. “We cannot go by smell alone in this case because of the chill in the air, but I would say he met his end late last night or early this morning. We will know more once we have had a chance to examine the body.”

     Rutledge stood there staring up at the body and scratching the expanding bald spot on the top of his head. “I suppose the guilt got the best of him,” he said finally.

    “I’m sorry. What was that?” Charles said.

    “Mowbry here,” Rutledge said, pointing at the body. “My guess is he killed the one man and then felt bad for it. He come home and did himself in.”

    Charles looked at Rutledge with a deep furrow of disapproval on his face and said, “Please tell me that is not your official finding in this matter.”

    “You have a better theory I suppose,” the constable said.

        “Well, not exactly, but I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions in the matter until we know all of the facts. For all we know, Mowbry could have been murdered.”

    “Hrumf!” was the only response the constable gave.

    We were at the cottage for a quarter of an hour before anything further was said by anyone in our party. Rutledge and Charles worked to cut the body down while Sir Happy and I looked about the place for any clues.

    “Do you notice anything odd, Marmee?” Sir Happy finally said.

    “Aside from the fact that the inside of this cottage is much nicer than I would have expected upon seeing the outside, not much,” I replied.

    Sir Happy laughed, “It is a good ploy when you don’t want to attract attention or advertise that you might own anything of value. We assumed the place was abandoned and so would most people if they only viewed the exterior of the home. That is not what I am referring to in this case, however.”

    I knew that if I gave it enough time, my friend would eventually get to whatever point or revelation he had come across, and I was not to be disappointed. “From what piece of furniture did Mowbry launch himself in this apparent act of remorse?”

    I looked about the room in search of anything that might have acted as his perch. There was nothing around where the body was found that struck me as being a possible candidate, and I said as much.

    “Exactly!” Sir Happy said with great enthusiasm. “There nothing around him. Not a chair or a table or a stool to stand upon, so how then could the man have committed suicide if he had had no means of reaching the beam that brought him to his end?”

    “Perhaps he tossed the rope over and simply tied it off from a distance,” I said knowing that it sounded as weak to my friend’s ears as it did to my own.

    “Then tell me how he hoisted himself up to where the noose was dangling,” he challenged.

    “I don’t know,” I said, “But I have a feeling you are going to tell me.”

    “Indeed I shall,” Sir Happy said. “Old Mowbry had help!”

    “You mean he was murdered?” I asked.

    “I mean he was murdered,” he said.