Clenching a pipe in his teeth with one hand
The inspector strode in with an air of command.
The drawing room window stood open; a draft
Moved Dame Abigail’s beard, and a serving girl laughed.
“You’re probably wondering why you’ve been summoned,”
Began the inspector. “My name is McDrummond,
And I’m here about…murder!” He surveyed the scene.
All the guests were assembled along with the servants.
McDrummond, with characteristic observance
Of every detail, counted two in the room:
He himself, plus the girl, who stood clutching a broom.
“Hey, that’s mine!” cried McDrummond. “Let go! I must sweep!”
“Very good, sir,” she curtsied and fell fast asleep.
Harrumphing, he polished the ivory handle
With Dame Abby’s beard and the wax from a candle
He’d lighted with flame from the pipe in his teeth,
Revealing the filigreed legend beneath
The thick grime on the broomstick: J’ai besoin chaussettes.
“Ah, mon dieu!” The inspector could never forget
That he didn’t speak French, so he spat on the clue
And obscured it with dirt from the sole of his shoe.
“The murderer must be–” He paused for effect
As his eyes (and some spit) landed on the suspect
Who lay snoring upon the upholstered divan
In that insolent way only serving girls can–
“Apprehended!” He snatched up his teeth and the pipe,
Stuffed them both in his mouth, gave his shoetop a wipe
With the beard as he slipped them each over his sock,
Grabbed the girl by the waist and climbed into the clock.
The seven-foot timepiece was tolling the hour
Of midnight. “I wish I had taken a shower,”
McDrummond was carving inside the clock door
When it opened; they tumbled out onto the floor
In an untidy, most un-inspectorly heap.
“J’accuse!” said the girl, who then fell back asleep.
The inspector regarded the servant with doubt,
Pulled the beard from his shoe, sneezed, and showed himself out.