Bumble was as good as her word. It was just a couple of hours later when there was a knock on my door and the delivery boy let himself in.
“Hey Pixel, what you got for me?”
“Got a parcel for you, Mr Barkalot,” Pixel sidled in and helped himself to a biscuit, “from a rich lady.” He added in awe.
Pixel was a natural born sidler. He could sidle faster than I could run. If they ever made sidling an Olympic sport no-one would be able to catch him to give him a medal.
He was a street kid, but a good kid, who made his way as a delivery boy; scratching a living by delivering messages and parcels around the city. He was honest, and people knew it; nothing went missing when Pixel carried a package.
‘Cept biscuits, of course. I turned a blind eye as he snaffled another.
I took the parcel from Pixel as he picked up a pretzel, and prized open the package as he paused to peruse it. Much more of this, and I’d need a new ‘P’ key for my typewriter.
I emptied the parcel onto my desk, and examined the contents. Three photos; two sheets of paper, one typed, the other handwritten; and a buff envelope that I guessed contained my advance fee.
The typed sheet was a list of guests at the party. For the most part they were wealthy society figures, unknown outside the rarefied atmospheres of their hilltop homes.
Amongst them were a couple of names on the list that caught my eye: Cashy Nova and Olivia, darlings of the silver screen. I figured they’d been invited along to add a bit of glamour to tempt in ‘the rich and anonymous’.
I put the list to one side and picked up the photos. Two were of the maid. The first was a summer snapshot of her in a garden, laying on a blanket. She was tall, blonde, pretty if you like ‘em like that. I could imagine her catching Cashy Nova’s famously wandering eye.
The other picture looked to be taken on the night of the party, it was actually a picture of the mayor sharing a joke with someone outside the shot. I didn’t recognise him at first. There was something different about his paws: they weren’t in the till. The maid was stood in the background with a couple of the caterers, next to a table laden with delicacies that didn’t need to be in focus to make my mouth water.
The third photo was also from that night, and showed Queen Bumble with her precious Faberge collar draped around her neck. I guess she’d included it so as I could study the collar, but I found it difficult to concentrate on the bauble.
“She’s quite a looker, isn’t she?” Pixel leaned across the desk, “Man she’s cute.”
I sighed: “Cute is not the word, Pixel. Puppies are cute. Kittens in baskets are cute. Not her: she is way beyond that. You would not call the Venus de Fido cute, would you?”
“Venus de Fido, Pixel. It’s a classic sculpture showing the epitome of female canine beauty, with no front legs. Sheesh, what do they teach you kids nowadays?”
I put the photo down and opened the envelope. It was my advance, sure enough: there just seemed to be more of it than I was expecting.
I counted it to make sure. Then I counted it again.
I turned it over and counted it again from the back, just to see if that made a difference.
This was a lady that really wanted her collar back.
I read the handwritten note. It just listed the contents of the package, and said in words what I’d already read in money: Bumble wanted her collar back, and was prepared to pay top dollar.
I peeled a couple of bills off the wad:
“Here, Pixel, go get yourself some new boots. Then get yourself over to “Tessie’s” and get yourself a decent meal.”
“Sure thing, thanks Mr Barkalot”
“And then go get me a packet of biscuits – mine seem to have disappeared.”
Pixel grinned and scampered out. Maybe he fancied a change from sidling.
I examined the photos again.
I had work to do.
About the dog behind the story
Several of the characters in the Sapphire Collar were inspired by pictures of the dogs posted on the forum.
Pixel is a case in point: In this one photo I could see all the characteristics I loved about Pixel, and which made me want to use him as a character.
Even when he is stood with all four paws on the ground, Pixel always seems to me to have an energy about him, as though he is just on the point of scampering away; an effect is enhanced by his erect and alert ears
Pixel is a tiny dog, and those delightfully oversized ears, combined with his spiky haircut always make me think of him as a youngster.
The smudge of snow on his nose adds a feeling of youthful curiosity that almost completes my character.
The final element, the loyalty and spirit that makes Benjamin trust him so much, can be seen in Pixel’s eyes as he looks up at his owner. They are intelligent, trusting eyes, with just a hint of mischievousness in them.
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This story The Case of the Sapphire Collar belongs to the original author we are sharing it with our readers with the express permission of the author. Please do not copy it in any form. The manuscript is going to be used to raise money for animal rescue as soon as drawings are completed of each of the characters. If you see this story appear anywhere other then Two Little Cavaliers please contact us so we can remedy the situation.