Henry looked blank and scary as he gulped his seventh glass of scotch while putting out his third cigar. The fire in the fireplace in front of him seemed to show him images. Every event since his birth seemed to form flames in the fire and mock him. No amount of alcohol could calm this feeling now. As he brooded in this chair, Alba and Arthur entered the room. Tears rolled down Arthurs aged eyes as he saw his beloved master in such a terrible state. But he had a purpose to disturb Henry’s privacy. An important one. He indicated Alba to wake Henry up from his nightmares. As Henry felt a soothing hand on his shoulders, he painfully moved his eyes towards the other two. Arthur began- “Sir, as you know, Robin’s funeral was this evening. People were expecting you there. Anyway, Robin’s wife had a letter for you. Apparently, this was written by Robin during her last visit. Please have a look at it. It might bring you some closure”. Henry was in no mood or state to understand anything. Hence he directed Arthur to read it to him. Arthur, in a heavy tone, started reading the letter aloud -
“My dear Henry,
Today I claim the right to address you by your name. When I saw you coming forward to represent me, I resisted so much. Not because I doubted you, but because of what this case would do to you. You will always be the scared little beautiful boy for me. I couldn’t stand to see you in the dark. Dear boy, of course, the woman of justice is biased towards us. Her eyes are blindfolded - hence she only sees the colour black. But you gave me hope. Your brilliant arguments in the hall reminded me of your dad. You are so much like him. Arthur tells me you didn’t like your old man much, but by now I think you realize what struggles he went through.
Coming to the case, my sincere apologies for not telling you everything. Till today, I had one constant companion - fear. But now I betray it. The Campbell house has many secrets. The killing of the first wife, the accidental shooting of the second one and another thing no one knows about - The vengeance of the third. Mrs Campbell is not the woman you all know. Her name is Dany Johnson. Ring a bell? Yes, she was the sister of Bella Johnson, who was the first prey for the monster Samuel. Dany hid her identity all these years from Samuel, plotting every day for his death. She offered me freedom in exchange for killing my master, but I am everything but disloyal. So I politely declined. I am sure it is her wrath that took Samuel’s life. But there is another thing. She had a lover, a man with a weird perfume. They used to sneak into the house together until one day Mr. Campbell noticed a shadow and fired at it. I swear I cleaned a lot of blood that day. Campbell always boasted - That man at least should have lost a finger. Little did he know, the person who he thought to be a robber, only stole his wife.
I did not tell anyone this before because I didn’t want someone scheme against you as threatened by Mrs Campbell. But today, when The Sheriff told me you were dropping my case, I was very relieved. This information is now as useless to you as me staying alive in this cell, beyond any hope. Even the good old Sheriff agrees that I will never see sunshine again. All in all, I do pray to the one above to give you the strength and courage to live with dignity. Convey my regards to Arthur. I have always envied him. He served a Noble household. So, this is goodbye, Henry. Remember, Justice is not universal. Each individual has his interpretation. May you find yours.
Praying for you,
Every eye in the room was filled with tears at that moment. Arthur was crying inconsolably, Alba ran away towards a corner and Henry just sat. Tears were rolling down his cheeks, but he didn’t bother to clear them. The sadness had given birth to a new emotion - anger. He rushed out, without even waiting for a coat and headed straight towards the police station.
Desmond was busy preparing reports and looked at the gigantic clock in his chamber every 5 minutes. It was way beyond his office hours and his woman was waiting for him. He cursed Robin to have decided to die that specific day of all the days. As he hurried through the details of the report, he heard a bang of a fist on his table. Enraged, he looked up and saw Henry who shouted- “You jerk, how could you do it? You killed him, you cold-blooded murderer. I was this close to getting him justice, and you were busy drowning him with your sick thoughts? I can’t believe I ever considered you a friend!”. Desmond laughed cruelly and replied - “You slave loving son of a bitch. I just gave him the push he needed. Do you think he was waiting for your stupid conclusive argument? Even if he hadn’t killed himself, there was only an ounce or two of life left in his pathetic body. Now fuck off from here before you ruin my mood for this lovely evening”. As Henry stormed out of that soulless place, he observed something which made him skip a heartbeat. Desmond was grabbing his coat and his hand gloves were off. Henry had never seen his bare hand in recent times, and now he realized Desmond missed a finger. He only had 4 fingers in his right hand. Henry questioned - “I never knew you missed a finger Desmond, which girl bit it off? Mrs Campbell?”. Desmond shuddered and furiously replied - “That’s none of your goddamn business. Now off you go before I put you in your friend’s spot. You see it’s free now and maybe your presence can cleanse it.”. Henry left immediately, in a pure state of shock. One face he could recognize, even with all the masks on, was that of a guilty man.
It was dark by the time he reached his home. He slowly knocked on the door and saw the worried faces of Alba and Arthur. He said to them - “I know who the murderer is.”. As they went back to the dining room, Henry narrated the incident at the police station. Arthur was shocked and Alba was speechless. Arthur recovered and said - “The accusation that you are doing is based on your instinct only. Please be careful with your words.”. Alba added- “Arthur is right. Desmond is a fool, but not a murderer. Are you sure of this?”. Henry was very confident. He replied with his professional tone now - “Let me explain. Desmond, a famous womanizer and the Sheriff of the town, befriends the rich and beautiful Mrs Campbell. Dany, the predator waiting to claim her vengeance sees this opportunity and extends her love. At first, everything is cool, but Mr Campbell finds out about this and one night shoots at Desmond. Do you remember, Arthur? How Samuel laughed at the finger found in his backyard? The hardest proof of all - Robin said in his letter that he smelt weird perfume around the stranger who used to visit Mrs Campbell. It wasn’t a perfume, it was the flavoured smoke of Desmond’s cigar. I do not understand why Robin never identified the smell in prison”. Alba intervened- “That wouldn’t be possible. His nose was damaged beyond repair by the interrogation torture from the Sheriff.” Hearing this further sank Henry’s heart. Alba continued- “Even though you are right, we can prove nothing based only on these theories. I have nothing to help you from the autopsies of Samuel and Robin. But we can definitely produce the letter as a piece of evidence to the court and hold on to the case until we find further evidence. But doing that will surely alert the Sheriff and we will be under scrutiny. “. Henry didn’t give a damn about any scrutiny, but Alba had a point. Desmond was both clever and resourceful enough to destroy any further shreds of evidence. After much thought, Henry made a decision. A private one. He said - “Arthur, let’s worry about this tomorrow. Please show the kind doctor here to the guest room and do not disturb me. I need a good rest”.
It was 7 am in the morning the next day and Arthur was woken up by thuds across the door. Arthur hurried, thinking what had gone further wrong now only to see Harold pale-faced and quietly standing at the door. When he heard the news Harold had, Arthur gasped for breath and rushed to wake his master up. In a few minutes, accompanied by Alba, they all rushed to the police station. Arthur was the first to see the body, and he collapsed instantly. Henry went ahead and saw his only friend, his colleague for so long, lay in a pool of blood. He turned towards Harold and enquired - “Who did this? Why did they do this? Where were you, his deputy?”. Harold mumbled- “I was home due to an emergency. As to who did this, here is your answer” and handed over a paper. Henry opened it and read aloud-
“Remember the name - The Uprising. We are watching everyone. We are everywhere. We are amongst you. Next time you bash a slave, picture this body. This is just the beginning. We are Robin’s wrath!”
Soon, every household in the town heard of the gruesome killing. There was a curfew announced for a week and a manhunt was organized for the fringe group. But everything was in vain. There was an unknown fear in society. The slaves were slowly beginning to believe that they too had the right as every other human. With Harold as the new sheriff, there was fresh hope.
Witnessing all of this. resting in his armchair was Henry Rutherford. Arthur brought him his usual glass of scotch with the cigar and said- “I notice you have been wearing your father’s coats recently, Master Henry. Good to see you realized.” As he exited the room, Arthur remarked - “Ah! By the way, Master Henry, Sir, next time when you write a letter, try to change your handwriting. It is a lousy mistake for an attorney of your reputation. Maybe it was the lack of good rest that night,” Henry let out a shrewd grin and nodded at his modest yet brilliant servant.
Henry had found his definition of justice.
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