It seems that my detective A.B.Fox has gotten to the bottom of the mysterious business of Cheapman's goods being sold at inflated prices at other outlets.
He has organised a surveillance operation at Cheapman's and asked us all to go to a meeting at the store to discuss his findings.
A.B.Fox asked us to come to the back entrance to avoid being detected. We met him and Mr Cheapman at the Goods Entrance - a huge yard full of lorries and bales of goods and packing cases all labelled with the name of Cheapman. From there Cheapman led us to his office, a large room furnished with gold-painted chairs and tables, and a magnificent gold desk with a chair behind it as big as a throne. I must admit it annoyed me slightly that his office was better appointed than even my own.
I asked A.B. what he had discovered but he informed us that it was best for us to see for ourselves. He hurried us along a broad passage to a where a sort of glass elevator-cage on wheels was waiting - Cheapman's air-car.
Cheapman's store is circular, and there are no steps but a kind of spiral walk rising gently from floor to floor. There is a great hollow space in the middle, with one gigantic pillar supporting the roof, and adorned with coloured lanterns. Round the edge of the galleries runs the rails on which the air-car travels. In this Cheapman can go from top to bottom of his store, stop anywhere and keep a general eye on things.
I must admit I was greatly taken with the air-car, and resolved to discuss with Cowgill the possibility of having such a car in one of the towers at Homeward.
The air-car stopped above Santa's Grotto in the centre of the store. A.B.Fox pointed below and it soon became apparent that all was not well. It seems that the Old Monkey had been right in describing the behaviour of Santa as somewhat strange. At the back of the grotto various inhabitants of Badfort, dressed up as elves, were loading goods onto sledges and taking them out of a secluded side entrance to the store. They were being directed by Santa who, without the big fluffy beard, could clearly be seen to be none other than Beaver Hateman !
We immediately called the Badgertown police who managed to arrest Beaver. Sadly the rest of his motley crew managed to scarper down a hidden tunnel in the Grotto.
As Beaver struggled in the arms of the constabulary he merely looked contemptuous. "You've got nothing on me big shot!" he snarled at Cheapman. "You Sir, are fired and can expect to spend Christmas in Chokey!" said Cheapman. "I don't think so," said Beaver "I think you will find that I have receipts for all the items I have purchased from you!" he added smarmily producing a wad of papers from his pocket.
A.B.Fox inspected them. "I am afraid he is correct Mister Cheapman," he said dejectedly "he has receipts for it all - look." and A.B. handed the papers to Cheapman.
"See, don't like it when you are caught out at your own Capitalist game do you?" cackled Beaver. "We were just doing some honest trading - not our fault if people are willing to pay over the odds for stuff we have bought from you is it?."
The Badgertown police had no choice but to release Beaver without charge.
"This is outrageous !" declared Cheapman "I don't understand how they managed to snap up all the bargains?...why was no-one else interested in buying them?."
"I think I can answer that question, Sir" interjected A.B. "Look at this secret video tape recording I made of Santa at work."
A.B. started the tape deck and we could see Beaver attempting, but failing badly, to behave like jolly old Santa. He had a small dwarf child on his knee. "Well hello there you orrible little urchin - wot you want for Crimble then?" he said. The little child piped up "I would love one of the halfpenny motorbikes please Mister Santa!".
"Oh no," said Beaver "That's not a good idea - they are a veritable death trap."... then in a clear aside to the mother he said "Rubbishy foreign imports - why do you think they is so cheap?". "What about one of these?" said Beaver holding up a horrible looking doll. "It's a fully working Hitmouse doll with it's own pen, hating book, and set of six skewers - only £40!" exclaimed Beaver.
The mother looked aghast but the child became ecstatic "Oh yes, can I have one...please Mum...purleeeeeese!" it cried. Looking extremely unhappy, but clearly anxious to please the child, the mother handed over a wad of cash.
"Outrageous ! " cried Cheapman "this sort of thing will ruin my reputation.....is there nothing to be done?"
"Technically they have not really committed any crime, I'm afraid." said A.B. "at least, Beaver has been sacked and can cause no more damage." he added.
I have an idea, however, on how to bring pressure to bear on the miscreants to make good their bad deeds in time for the season of goodwill.
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4 years ago