“All aboard!” the loud commanding voice woke me up from my nap. Grabbing my knap-sack I shoved my way through the crowd towards the train. I jumped onto it and hurriedly moved from carriage to carriage trying to locate the one in which Miss Lou was. I could have written to her and asked for the carriage number, but there was no fun in that. I wanted to surprise her.
I glanced at my pocket watch that Miss Lou had given me on my last birthday. I plunged into a nostalgia mood, as I recollected how fondly Miss Lou who is actually none other than my dear auntie had taken care of me when I was young.
“April, April” a shrill, familiar voice cut my thoughts. I looked up to see the ever smiling face of my Aunt Lou. I was filled with joy at seeing her. I explained that I had, at the spur of the moment, decided to accompany her to Paris. In our excitement, we had forgotten about the other passengers in the carriage. If not for Aunt Lou’s elderly companion and nurse, we would have certainly been carried away during this memorable moment. Miss Prude (a very apt name for her, I thought) interrupted us curtly, saying, “Madame, it’s time for your medicine.”
That night, we had a lovely time together. Aunt Lou was proud to show me her fabulous jewelry collection. Among her favorites and most expensive was an exquisite diamond-studded necklace, intricately and skillfully crafted. On seeing these priceless possessions of hers, I raised my doubts about their safety. She told me not worry as she had always kept them in a “poor-looking box” to avoid suspicion.
In the morning, we had breakfast together and this time we were not bothered and haunted by Aunt Lou’s companion. It was on my way to the casher that I noticed a young and beautiful woman going into the carriage we had been in a short while ago. I tried to recall the instance I had seen the familiar face before but I failed.
When I saw Aunt Lou’s smiling face, I forgot everything about that mysterious lady. Both of us then walked towards our carriage. We knew something was amiss when we saw the door ajar. Aunt Lou turned pale and nearly fainted when she discovered her jewel box was missing.
I was suddenly reminded of Miss Prude. She was the only person who had access to the carriage. She might have overheard us talking about the box during the previous night. With the help of some concerned passengers and a train officer, we searched high and low for somebody fitting the description of Miss Prude.
We were about to give up our search when my eyes fell upon the beautiful, mysterious lady. Her too-familiar face bore the look of unpardonable guilt. I grabbed the officer’s arm and pointed to her. She tried to escape but was caught with the box in her bag.
Aunt Lou praised me for uncovering the disguise. It was later found that before this incident, Miss Prude had used her skills in theatrical makeup to deceive some ten to fifteen rich and lonely old ladies who depended on her for companionship. Miss Prude was indeed their most dangerous companion!
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