The Farthing manor house rose in front of me, stretching out into the distance. A band of police tape ringed off the perimeter. Not keeping things out, but in.
"When did you notice the maids missing?" I asked.
"When none of them showed up for their usual shifts," The head maid replied.
"And you searched the whole house?"
"The whole house."
We arrived in the spacious master bedroom, no one. We walked from room to room still no one. In the kitchen we found the forensic scientists, eating all the bread out of the bread box.
"Now that's odd," Said the head maid.
"What?" I asked, stealing a roll.
"A knife is missing!" she said.
"Which one? " I inquired.
"The butcher knife," she replied gravely. That's just about when I pieced the whole thing together.
"Have you checked the grounds?" I asked
"Only the house. Why?" she asked.
"Is there a garden?!"
"Yes, but it's not visible from the house." She said.
"Thanks!" I ran from the kitchen, my coat flying about me; bursting through the back doors onto the back lawn, I ran faster; faster. I came up to the tall hedge that surrounded the garden and ran under it. There sat Mary Farthing, in a silk night gown kneeling on the gravel path ; she held a butcher knife, a bloody one.
"ma'am, please put down the knife," I asked. She didn't answer. "Ma'am?" I asked again.
"Shh!" she said, " Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells, And pretty maids all in a row," She mumbled to herself. That's when I saw them, the maids that is, each one buried in neat rows under the flowers.