Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Puzzle of Hunter Manor- Chapter 8: A Riddle and a Rhyme

"May I see the clue?" Terrence asked.

"Oh, why not, it says I need a hand anyway. Though I doubt you will be able make anything of it." Anna's temper was starting to simmer again.

Terrence read the clue aloud:

"Green and wet thumbs help things to grow,
You will need both in order to go.
Tubes can hide clues.
Cup and hand will help you.
Did you guess right? Only time will show."

"It's a limerick," he said.

"It's a riddle inside a limerick," Anna corrected. "The question is what does it mean?"

Terrence read over the clue several times and tried to digest each line down to a meaning.

"Well, the second line means we have to solve this riddle to continue, that's pretty obvious." he said after a minute. "And it looks like the clue is hidden in a tube, but how do cups and hands help us?"

"Maybe we should look in the china cupboard under all the cups?" said Annabel, suddenly standing, "We would have to use our hands to lift each cup. Maybe we will feel something on the cup when we lift it!"

"It's worth a shot, do you know where the china cupboard is?" Terrence asked.

"Yes, silly. It's in the kitchen, this way." She called as they left the room.

Gilbert rubbed his eyes in the quiet dinning room, and noticed his battery was getting low. He told Kevin he was logging off. Then left the app and turned off his phone. Only then did he notice his parents were gone. He looked around and saw the clue laying on the table. Curiously he pulled it toward him and read the limerick. After reading the first line through a second time he huffed to himself and stood up.

"They must be in the greenhouse." He yawned and walked right past the kitchen to a door at the back of the Manor and let himself out.

They had arrived quite early in the afternoon, so he had explored the back corner of the house where their guest rooms were quite thoroughly. Perhaps this was because of playing Mars Blaster so much. He just didn't feel right in a new environment without exploring every nook and cranny. Not only had he checked out all the rooms on their side of the Manor (which included their guestrooms, the lawyer's room, a game room, a music room, a theater, the dinning room, kitchen, and door to the green house), but he had also checked out the grounds, at least as much as he could see from his bedroom window.

As much as he enjoyed playing Mars Blaster, he really just used it as an excuse to zone out whenever his mom got into one of her fits, which was often. He didn't mind being outside, and he really was smart, he just couldn't take her constant nagging to clean his room, or do well in school. So he would put in his ear buds and zone out. This had worked well so far, so he continued to do it every time he wanted to get away from the "noise" as he called it.

It was dark in the greenhouse, apparently it hadn't been part of the original manor because when he felt for a light switch there wasn't one. There was no one there, but he felt like he should look around anyway. There were rows of potted plants, as well as several long planters mounted in rows along the back wall. Here and there he could see the pathway weaving through the plants and tables. A water barrel sat in one corner along with a pile of food scraps that was probably a compost heap.

"Not much to see." he thought. "Maybe we'll have to come back and look in the morning."

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Marie was waiting patiently for Anne and Terrence to look through the cupboard that housed the tea cups. There were over 500 of them, all courtesy of Simon for his sisters' weddings.

"It has to be here somewhere," Annabel said between labored breaths as they moved on to the fourth shelf of cups.

"Does it?" asked Terrence whose face was beaded with sweat. "Marie are there any other cups in the house?"

"I'm not sure, sir. All the cups we use for meals and snacks are kept here, the crystal glasses are clear, however, so no clue would be hiding in them, I'm sure. These teacups are the only ones that are opaque where a clue could be hidden."

"What about other cups? Like a commemorative mug, or a rugby trophy, or something?" Terrence asked.

Marie thought on that one for quite a while before answering, "If he did have some kind of trophy shaped like a cup it would be in the trophy case in his den. I would think."

"Great! Where is that at?" he asked placing two more cups back on their saucers.

"Exactly opposite us, on the other side of the ballroom," said Annabel before Marie could answer. Marie, having been cut off just as she opened her mouth, closed it and gave a polite nod.

"Excellent, once we finish these up we can head over there and take a look." Said Terrence between gasps, "Who knew lifting this many tea cups could be so exhausting?"

Marie smiled to herself and thought, 'I did!'

When they had finished going through the cupboard, they both accepted glasses of ice water from Marie, and collapsed onto a bench against one edge of the kitchen. Sweat trickled down their faces, and bands of moisture were beginning to peek out from under Terrence's armpits.

"That was a lot of work," he said, "and we didn't find a thing!"

"That's the way it always was with Simon's puzzles, a lot of work, but the prize at the end was always worth it!" Said Annabel sipping once again from her glass of water.

"Do you think we should slip in and get Gilbert before we go over to the den? He might find this interesting."

"No, I'm sure he's too wrapped up in that infernal game." Annabel quivered. "I don't know how he can spend so much time on something so ridiculous. Every time I try to have a heart to heart with him, he whips out his ear buds and his phone and that's the end of it."

"Huh, he seems fine whenever I try to talk to him. I wonder what's up." said Terrence handing his now empty glass back to Marie.

"Well, let's get on with it." said Annabel leaving her glass on the bench.

Marie sighed and picked up the glass from the bench as the two Hawks left the kitchen. Annabel certainly had not changed. Still impulsive, still jumping to conclusions without taking time to read the clues and think them through. She could have saved them the half-hour of cup lifting, but what fun would that have been?

As they entered the dining room they stopped short. The room was empty, Gilbert was nowhere to be seen. Annabel picked up the clue and envelope and looked around in disbelief. Terrence shook his head and shrugged.

"Maybe he decided to head up to his room," he offered, "Or maybe he came to long enough to realize that we were gone and he went to look for us."

"Maybe," she mumbled, "Let's check the den to see if there are any trophy cups real quick, then we can go find Gilbert. Once we know if there are any cups, we can come back."

Terrence nodded and followed her across the hall toward the den. The den was a dark paneled room with dark blue carpet. At the center of the room stood an old oak desk with a lamp and a stack of papers and folders. Against the opposite wall was a large glass sided cabinet filled with trophies and trinkets. The bottom shelf held mostly glass figurines, the second shelf held an assortment of bells, a tin whistle, and other metal oddities. The top shelf held a large assortment of awards and trophies.

There were brass and silver plates, pewter bells and bowls, gold medallions, and one tiny brass cup, barely large enough to hold a thimble. Anna and Terrence looked at each other with disappointment.

"Well, that was a bust." said Terrence.

"Yes, let's find Gilbert and get ready for bed. We can continue looking in the morning."

Together they left the room and went upstairs to their guest rooms. Gilbert's was right at the back of the house, while theirs looked out to the side. Mr. Henson, the lawyer's room was opposite theirs on the same hall. They looked in Gilbert's room, but he wasn't there. He also wasn't in their room. That WAS odd. Usually he didn't wander willfully around the house, not unless his phone battery was dead. Granted it was a very large house, so maybe he decided to break the mold this time and go exploring.

They searched all the rooms on the east side of the second floor and didn't see Gilbert anywhere. Finally, Terrence rang the bell in their room and after a few minutes Jared appeared.

"Jared, have you seen Gilbert recently? We left him in the dinning room after dinner when we went to try and solve our first clue. Since then we haven't seen him anywhere."

"I believe he was in the corridor near the kitchens looking for you," said Jared. "Allow me to see if he is still there."

Jared left them and they started getting ready for bed. After lifting all those cups, their arms were sore and tired, and sleep could not come soon enough. They put on their pajamas and were brushing their teeth when Gilbert shuffled into the room a few minutes later followed by Jared.

"I have found Mr. Gilbert, he was at the end of the corridor by the kitchens." Jared reported.

"Gilbert, where on earth have you been?" Anna scolded, "We've been looking all over for you!"

"I could turn the question around and as you the same thing," he said, anger flashing in his eyes, "You two took off without telling me a thing. My battery died and I looked up to find an empty room. I spent the last hour searching the whole house for both of you!"

"Well I... We...," Anna spluttered as Jared, sensing a good time for himself to leave, bowed himself from the room.

"Gilbert, you are right," said Terrence, "We should have told you where we were going, but you could also do a better job at listening and being involved. We are here for a whole week, and we need everyone to work together if we are ever going to figure this out." Gilbert rolled  his eyes, "So from now on, we will make sure you know where we are going, and I would like you to at least make an effort to be involved with the people who are around you."

Gilbert rolled his eyes once again, muttered, "Whatever!" and left the room.

"What ARE we going to do with him?" Annabel asked out loud. Terrence just shook his head.

A few minutes later Gilbert reappeared in his flannel pajamas holding his phone.

"Yes, son?" Terrence asked.

Gilbert's face flushed, "Did... have you seen my charging cord?" he asked.

Annabel and Terrence exchanged glances. "No son, did you check all of your bags?"

"Yes. I even checked the side pockets on the suitcases."

"I thought you had yours so I left mine home. Sorry son, I can't even lend you mine," said Annabel through a mouthful of toothpaste.

Gilbert looked down at his slippered feet and mumbled, "Well, thanks." Then shuffled off to his bedroom.

Annabel finished brushing her teeth then said excitedly, "That may be the best thing that has ever happened to that boy. Now he will have to go the entire week without that accursed game!"

"That's true, I wonder if he will help us solve the clues or just hold up in his room the entire week."

"Who knows! Point is he will have to take a much needed break!"

Little did they know Gilbert had slipped back along the wall, out of their sight to listen in on what his parents were up to. This news didn't improve his temper. He did know one thing though. He was definitely NOT going to help them. In fact, he might even go so far as to form his own team with someone a little closer to his age.

So how was it?

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