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SHERIFF  9' Detective and the dishonest sheriff

Once upon a time a long time ago in a land far, far away,
Michaela, the world's greatest detective, was in the hen house
feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs, when she heard the
thundering of several horses' hoofs. She went outside to
investigate.

It was the king's royal coach pulled by four white horses. There
were two knights on black horses in front of the coach and two
knights on black horses behind. They were all galloping at full
speed toward the house. When they saw Michaela coming out of the
hen house, they steered their horses away from the house and
toward Michaela at full speed, then they halted the horses
inches away from her. The footman jumped down from the coach and
opened the door. Out stepped Princess Margaret. Michaela and her
family bowed down.

"Michaela, I need your help!" exclaimed the princess.

Michaela bowed down and replied, "Of course, Your Highness." She
handed the eggs to her father, then climbed into the coach.

In the coach on the way back to the palace, the Princess
explained that her father the king had gone off to war. "He took
the entire army and almost all of the palace guards with him to
fight the war." explained the princess, "But the night after he
left, people in the capital city began reporting burglaries in
the night. And the burglaries have continued every night since."

Michaela replied, "But why are you asking my help? Shouldn't the
sheriff be tracking down the burglars?"

"We told the sheriff about the robberies, but he says the
robbers are too clever for him. There's nothing he can do."

Michaela went around to all the businesses and houses that were
robbed and asked questions. Although many of the businesses and
houses in the city had dogs to scare away robbers, the burglars
only broke into those without dogs.

"Very interesting!" exclaimed Michaela, "That tells me that the
burglar knows which houses have dogs and avoids them. That tells
me that this burglar has lived in the city a long time."

The princess replied, "But who would steal from our own
people?!"

Michaela declared, "I don't know, but I'll find out."

That night after dark, Michaela climbed up on the roof of one of
the buildings overlooking the area where the robberies happened.
Just as expected, after all the people were asleep, Michaela saw
a dark figure lurking in the shadows. Then he turned the corner
and was out of sight. When she heard the tinkle of broken glass,
she knew that the burglar had broken in and was about to steal
some more valuables.

Michaela climbed down from the building and sneaked over to
where she'd seen the burglar lurking. She didn't try to catch
the thief, but instead she hid herself near where she last saw
the burglar and waited for him to return.

Sure enough, the burglar returned the way he'd come. After he
passed by, Michaela followed him home. The next morning she
reported back to the princess the location where the burglar
lived.

The princess gasped, "That's where the sheriff lives! Are you
sure he lives there?! Are you sure he didn't break in and rob
the place?!"

"I'm sure," replied Michaela, "He had a key to the door and
after he went inside, he lit a candle to light his way. I heard
him talking quietly to a woman. A woman who was being robbed
would talk quietly!"

The princess asked, "Well, what are we going to do about this? A
sheriff is suppose to protect us from burglars and thieves! We
can't really arrest a sheriff, can we?"

Michaela replied, "Well, the first thing we'll do is get back
the things he stole and return them to the people he stole them
from. We'll figure out what to do with him later."

The next morning, Michaela hid in the bushes outside of the
sheriff's house and watched. First, the sheriff left for work.
Then his wife left the house with a bag in her hand. She was
apparently going shopping for groceries. When she was out of
sight, Michaela circled the house looking for an open window. To
her surprise, all the windows in the house were wide open.

After all, who would break into the sheriff's house?

Michaela searched the house and finally found the stolen goods
under the sheriff's bed. As quickly as she could, she carried
them outside and behind the bushes. Later, when all the goods
were outside, she locked the door and went back to the palace.

She asked the princess to deliver the stolen goods to their
rightful owners.

That night, when the sheriff discovered that someone had stolen
his stolen goods he was furious!

"I'm the sheriff here! Noone steals from me!" he exclaimed.
"First thing tomorrow morning, I'm going to find out who did
this and I'm going to throw him in jail! Forever!"

That night after every one was asleep, the sheriff went out
again to steal more valuables. But this time, Michaela didn't
follow him. She already knew where he lived and the route he
took to get home. So, as soon as he left, she strung a rope
between two trees she knew he would walk between on the way
home. The rope was just a few inches off the ground. And in the
dark on the way home, the sheriff tripped on the rope and fell
face down, dropping the bag full of stolen goods.

Before he could regain his senses, Michaela jumped out from
behind a tree, she picked up the bag and ran off. The next day
the princess returned these stolen goods to their proper owners
too.

But the next day the sheriff did a little investigating on his
own. The people who received back their stolen goods said they
all got them from Princess Margaret. But the sheriff couldn't
arrest a princess! So, he went to the royal palace and asked the
maids and butlers working there about the burglaries.

"Did she tell you who the burglar was?" he asked.

"No." they all said, "If she knew, she didn't tell any of us."

Then he asked, "How did the princess get the stolen goods back?"

They all said they didn't know.

"Maybe you should ask that detective." said the butler.

"Detective?!" asked the sheriff. "What detective?!"

"Her name is Michaela." replied the butler, "She's the world's
greatest detective. Maybe SHE got the stolen goods back."

The sheriff went away furious. He knew about Michaela, the
world's greatest detective, because she had solved many
mysteries that the sheriff himself could not solve. He was
jealous.

"That little brat!" he sneered, "I'll get her for this!"

And within an hour Michaela was in jail. The sheriff accused HER
of the burglaries and swore that she would spend years in
prison.

When Princess Margaret heard about it, she was upset. She
insisted on seeing Michaela in jail. To her surprise, Michaela
was smiling.

"Aren't you worried?!" asked the princess, "The sheriff promised
to keep you in jail for years for something you didn't do!"

"Nonsense!" replied Michaela, "I'm the world's greatest
detective. I can make plans just as well in jail as out. We
returned the stolen goods to their owners. Now it's time to keep
the sheriff from stealing again."

So, Michaela and the princess worked out plans to trap the
sheriff and make sure he never stole again.

Later that day, the sheriff overheard the city's richest jeweler
talking about a new shipment of large diamonds coming into town
from South Africa on a sailing ship. The ship would come in with
the tide late at night and the diamonds would be held on board
the ship until morning, when armed guards would come and carry
the diamonds to the jewelry store.

That night after everyone was asleep, the sheriff sneaked
onboard the ship and found a small box marked "Diamonds, South
Africa" in the middle of the main deck. But when the sheriff
stepped forward to take the box, the floor he was stepping on
turned out to be paper that was painted to look like wood. The
sheriff fell through the floor with the small wooden box. He
fell into a large wooden box. Immediately, the lid fell shut and
someone locked the box. A moment later, the captain shouted,
"All hands on deck! Set sails for China!" and the ship left the
dock.

"China?!" shouted the sheriff as he beat his hands on the inside
of the box. "Let me out of here! Let me out!"

But noone let him out. The sheriff lit a match and open the
small box that was supposed to contain the large diamonds.
Inside was several pebbles, some sand and a letter. The letter
read:

"Dear Sheriff: There are no diamonds in the box. There never
were. This was a trick to stop you from stealing from the people
you were supposed to protect. Have a nice time in China!"

It was signed, "Michaela, the world's greatest detective."

All the sheriff could say was, "Foiled again by that little
brat!"

And everyone else lived happily ever after.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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