Inspector Winston and the Mystery in the Attic

Uhr Icon Reading time: approx. 13 minutes
Inspector Winston and the Mystery in the Attic

The first snowflakes of the season fell gently and quietly from the sky and landed unnoticed on Mrs. Robertson’s windowsill. She sat in her cozy wing chair and warmed herself by the crackling fire. She was immersed in her book and didn’t even notice that her front garden had been transformed into a wintery landscape.

As she got up to make herself some hot chocolate, she heard rumbling and scratching above her living room. 

“What was that? Is it that windy outside?” she thought. 

She opened the window and looked out. 

“Oh my! Where did all this snow come from?” She wondered as she glanced at the clock on the wall. “I guess that I lost track of the time.”

She looked back out of the window, but everything was still and covered in a blanket of snow. 

“The noise couldn’t have come from the garden. But then, where did it come from?” she thought.

On the way to the kitchen, she found an empty cardboard box on the floor. 

“Wasn’t this box on the shelf this morning?” she thought. “The noise I heard must have been the sound of it falling.” 

She pulled a small pot out of her kitchen cupboard and poured some fresh milk and cocoa powder into it. A few moments later, the smell of hot chocolate filled the room. 

She made herself comfortable again in her wing chair and picked up her book. As she reached a particularly exciting part, she was startled again by the same noise. 

The rumbling went on for a time and then suddenly stopped. She ran through all the rooms in the house but couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. 

“I’ll have to have a closer look tomorrow when it’s light out, but it’s probably just the snow sliding off the roof,” she reassured herself. 

The next morning, she prepared a delicious breakfast and searched again through all the rooms. When she found them all as expected, she decided to go out and spend the day with her grandchildren. 

“A little distraction certainly can’t hurt,” she thought. 

She made her way to the bus stop, looking forward to spending a lovely day in the snow with her grandchildren, some warm tea and cookies. 

That evening, after returning home, she was knitting some wool mittens when she was startled again. This time the noise was so loud that she was sure someone was in her house. 

“What could that be?” she thought. “Who is rumbling and rustling in my house?” 

She plucked up all her courage, grabbed her flashlight and made her way up to the attic. “I wanted to check on the Christmas decorations anyway. And I’ll need the baubles for the Christmas tree soon,” she reasoned as she climbed. 

In the dusty attic, she looked around. She shone her flashlight on the floor and the roof beams. But apart from a few cobwebs, dusty boxes and some old furniture, she couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. She picked up the box of Christmas decorations and made her way back down to the living room.

The next morning, she visited the weekly market. 

“Hello, Mrs. Robertson!” the greengrocer greeted her. “You look worried. What’s the matter?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe what’s been going on in my house over the last few days!” Mrs. Robertson described the inexplicable noises, the sleepless nights, and the late night trips to the attic.  

“Oh dear,” said the greengrocer. “But at your age, you really shouldn’t be climbing those rickety stairs alone in the dark! You searched everywhere and couldn’t find anything?” 

In the meantime, other people from the neighborhood had gathered around the produce stand. They had apparently overheard a few snippets of the conversation and were now listening intently.

An older lady joined the conversation. Mrs. Robertson knew her from the sports club. 

“Rustling and rumbling in your house?” she said. “We used to have that too. It was just the wind and a few days later everything was back to normal.”

“That may be true,” replied Mrs. Robertson. “But there hasn’t been much wind for the last few days, and besides, the wind wouldn’t stop every time I get up to check.”

“Could be a coincidence. Or maybe a few birds have nested in your roof,” offered another market vendor. 

“But I’d be able to see that from afar and birds don’t make this kind of noise,” she replied. As she made her way back home, she wondered if they had even believed her about the noises at all. 

That evening, Mrs. Robertson sank into her armchair. She didn’t feel like reading or knitting. She just hoped that she wouldn’t hear the noise again. 

But then she did. She could hear footsteps, very clearly, directly above her. Now she was quite sure that someone was in her house. And this someone was hanging around in her attic, probably rummaging through her things.

The thought made her very uncomfortable. She was all alone in the house and didn’t dare go up the stairs this time. 

Just then, the doorbell rang. Confused, she opened the door. 

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” said a familiar voice. Then she recognized her friendly neighbor through the darkness. 

“A parcel has been left for you. Winston and I thought you might like to open it tonight.” 

Mrs. Robertson now saw Winston, the cheerful dachshund, standing on her doorstep. She relaxed a little.

“Please come in and I’ll tell you everything.” 

After she explained what had happened over the last few nights, all three of them sat speechless in the living room. 

“Don’t worry. We’ll get to the bottom of this. I’m going to take a look in your attic and find whoever is hanging around up there.” The neighbor bravely made his way upstairs. Winston and Mrs. Robertson opted to stay downstairs. 

“There’s nothing here except a lot of dust, boxes and cobwebs. You can rest easy,” the neighbor called down from the attic. A few minutes later, he was back downstairs, wiping the dust from his hands. 

“It was probably just the wind. Don’t worry about it. Actually, we are going to visit our family tomorrow but they have cats that Winston doesn’t get on with very well. What do you think about him keeping you company and maybe looking after him for a bit?”

At first, Mrs. Robertson wanted to refuse. She didn’t need company, she wasn’t bored and she didn’t need looking after. But then the idea of having a watchdog in the house didn’t seem like a bad idea with everything going on in the attic, so she agreed. 

That night, when she went to bed, she fell asleep quickly while Winston made himself comfortable on a cozy blanket by the fireplace. 

Suddenly, Winston was torn from his reverie by a loud rumbling noise coming from above. He found it a little frightening. 

He perked up his ears and tried to identify the sound. 

“Mrs. Robertson was right,” he thought. “There is someone in her attic and no one has taken her seriously. It’s high time I took over the case!” 

Winston was already feeling a little queasy. But it didn’t stop him. He crept up the stairs and heard movement for a brief moment. But as soon as he reached the top, the attic fell silent. 

“It’s dark up here,” he said to himself. “And these old paintings and furniture are a bit creepy. But a detective isn’t afraid of anything!” 

He shook and began to sniff around the attic. But there was no one to be found. 

“I’ll find out who’s hanging around here,” he thought.

The next morning, Inspector Winston got up early. He wanted to set a trap for the intruder in the attic. 

To do this, he shifted the boxes with his nose, poured out old marbles and wooden blocks from Mrs. Robertson’s grandchildren’s toy box and scattered blue ink pads in all the corners of the attic. 

Then he placed a few white sheets of paper under the skylight. “This is the only escape route besides the stairs,” Winston noted with satisfaction. “Your footprints will reveal whoever you are!”

An icy snowstorm raged that night. Snow and hail pelted the windows and a cold stream of air blew through the roof gables. The storm was so loud that Mrs. Robertson and Inspector Winston couldn’t hear any other sounds coming from the attic. 

The next morning, Winston went upstairs again. The boxes were out of place, the marbles were now scattered all over the wooden floorboards and there were two different footprints on the white sheet of paper. 

“What have we got here?” Winston asked himself. Four small and four large paws were printed on the page. “I’m going to find out who you are!” 

Winston went and looked for a natural history book on Mrs. Robertson’s bookshelf.

That evening, he lay in wait. He positioned himself at the top step of the stairs to the attic. After a while without any noise, the dachshund was overcome with fatigue and thought: “What am I even doing here?”

Suddenly there was a rumble and someone dashed across the attic. Then someone else chased him, both of them making a terrible racket.

Winston was wide awake now and he jumped up through the hatch into the attic. There, he saw two figures running around wildly and knocking over everything in their path as they played. 

Winston stalked closer. A tiny mouse scurried around and hid behind a dusty chest of drawers. Then a larger, cat-like animal jumped down from the rafters and did a somersault. 

Winston could hardly believe the circus-like spectacle unfolding before his eyes. If he hadn’t seen it himself, he wouldn’t have thought it possible for a marten and a mouse to make so much noise! 

It sounded as if burglars were ripping apart Mrs. Robertson’s attic. Relieved and satisfied that he had now tracked down the troublemakers, he grabbed the footprints on the paper as evidence and placed them on the floor in the living room next to the natural history book.

Later, when the doorbell rang and the neighbor wanted to pick up his dachshund, Mrs. Robertson invited him to stay a while. 

“Oh, please come in,” said Mrs. Robertson. “I’ve just prepared breakfast. And thank you for leaving your dog with me. It helped me sleep a little easier, although the noise was unbearable again last night.” 

“Well, I won’t say no to a coffee,” said the neighbor who went into the living room where Winston had made himself comfortable in front of the fireplace.

“What’s this? Has the natural history book fallen off the shelf?” exclaimed Mrs. Robertson. The neighbor was just about to pick it up when they both noticed the white paper with the footprints on it. “They’re the tracks of… a marten and mouse?” 

They both looked over at Winston in amazement. He was proud of how quickly he was able to solve this case. But as for how the marten and the mouse were going to disappear from Mrs. Robertson’s attic—well, that was someone else’s mystery to solve. 

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