“Already breaking rules, I see.”
Gregson looked at the butler. Butlers were always guilty. “I took an evening stroll.”
“That’s fine but clear it with me first.”
“Whatever you say, I’m off to bed.” And Gregson walked up the stairs two at a time, sliding under the covers, wishing himself a goodnight.
Gregson forgot how working a case made him feel. There was always some problem to look forward to and he was good at solving them. In the morning, the butler was waiting for him.
“Will you take coffee, sir?”
“That will be fine,” Gregson said. In the lounge, there were leather-backed armchairs tucked under a stone table with a bear rug on the floor. A mummy in a green dress was encased in a glass display on the wall.
“That’s my mother,” Jesepi Vargas said. “Probably one of the last really powerful women in history.”
Gregson looked at the face. Even in death, she was beautiful.
“We have bacon and eggs and hash browns. Everything an Englishman needs. Except perhaps the fox chase afterward, but maybe you will have that too.”
“Why does the lighthouse point into the forest and not out to sea?” Gregson asked.
“I used to walk through the woods at night, but I started to see strange figures between the trees. It could be my imagination, but shining the light on the forest helps me sleep; call it an oversized night-light.
“I found one of your mannequins in the woods. Do you have any idea how it got there?”
“No; perhaps Steven knows.”
“You called me sir?”
“Yes; how did a mannequin end up in the middle of the woods last night?”
“That’s incredible sir. We are the only ones on this island, save for the fisherman, but he hasn’t been here in some weeks.”
“We’d better ask him. Is he due back anytime soon?”
“Not until Tuesday, I think.”
“Well, you’d better take me to the spot after breakfast,” Jesepi said.
The woods were dark, even in the daytime. But Gregson knew where to go. He led Jesepi to the rock where he found the mannequin.
“Are you sure this is the spot?”
“Yes, do you see? I marked it with an X.”
“Well… there is nothing for us to do now. I’ll take you to my shop.”
There were heads floating on spindles and arms waiting to be sown into torsos. Jesepi was an artist; there was no doubt.
“Have you ever wondered what would happen if you made one of these look so real that it came to life?” Gregson asked.
“Mannequins don’t have a heart or a soul, so it’s horrible to think what they’d be capable of, but luckily you’re speaking of the impossible.”
“Maybe the impossible is possible, for an artist like yourself.”
“You are too kind.”