Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Two Bottles of Relish - Lord Dunsany

Story: The Two Bottles of Relish

Author: Lord Dunsany
Source: 101 Years of Entertainment, The Little Tales of Smethers
Story Number: 28
Smithers is the name of a little man who sells Num-numo, a relish for meats & savories. He is also the narrator of this story. He shares his room with an Oxford educated man named Linley. Smithers observes that his roommate has a very shrewd and intelligent mind and hence asks him to have a go at solving the strange murder which has baffled the police and the Scotland Yard. He remembers the case only because the suspect had bought 2 bottles of his relish.
A small girl was seen alive for the last time with a man named Steeger when they spent 5 days together in a cottage. Steeger continues to stay in the cottage for 15 more days after the girl was seen for the last time. The local police have kept a constant vigil on this man and the cottage – he seems to be a vegetarian, he is seen cutting down every one of the 10 trees present in the cottage garden, piling them up neatly into heaps of logs, he has not left the house for those 15 days and yet there is no sign of the girl when the police enter the cottage at the end of 20 days. The girl has not been cut into pieces, she has not been burnt in a fire, she has not been buried anywhere and yet there is no trace of her. In addition to all these, the biggest stumper for the Yard is the strange behavior of Steeger in going to all that trouble of doing such hard labor to cut down all the tress.
Linley asks Smithers to have a look at the house and talk to the grocer from where Steeger bought all his food, he also asks him to find out whether he bought the 2 bottles of nun-numo together or whether it was purchased on different occasions. Based on the answer to this one question, Linley comes up with an ingenious deduction to the problem of the missing dead body!

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