Debbie had been the maid of Lady Douglas for the last two years. She was recommended to her Ladyship by her socialite friend, Mrs. Jones Armitage while sipping cocktails at the Dorchester lounge.
It happened that, for some reason or other, Mrs. Jones Armitage got tired of Debbie and wanted to find an excuse to get rid of her. The request by Lady Douglas came exactly at the right moment. Debbie proved to be a very efficient worker and she kept the Douglas mansion spic and span, the envy of the other socialites who came to lunch or cocktails at her Ladyship’s.
Not only that, but Debbie, as Lady Douglas’s confidante, was sometimes entrusted with taking any of her broken jewelry to her Ladyship’s Bond Street jeweler for repairs. She was trusted and familiar so much, that she knew the hiding place of the key to the drawer where the lovely necklace and other jewelry, used by her Ladyship on special occasions, were stored. One day, while on such a mission in Bond Street, looking at similar jewelry, she discovered that the necklace was worth about 20,000 pounds. She was astonished by such a valuable piece of jewelry. Her own were just cosmetic jewelry, costing only a few pounds.
She told her husband about this. He just could not believe it. “It would take you a lifetime to earn its worth,” he told her. As the days passed, his mind was working overtime on how this new knowledge could work to their own advantage. He hatched a plot, discussed it with his wife and then both agreed to carry it out.
The chance came when Lady Douglas was away for three days in Scotland attending to her nephew’s wedding. Debbie brought the key down from its hiding place, opened the drawer, wrapped the priceless necklace, took it to the jeweler’s – not her Ladyship’s jeweler at Bond Street of course – and asked him if he could do a cheap imitation exactly like it.
“I can make an exact replica, which no one would be able to tell the difference. The cost would be 1,000 pounds. You realize that such a task would need craftsmanship and time,” he said. “I want it done by tomorrow,” she said. “In that case I will have to leave everything and work on it, but that would cost you another 500 pounds,” he said. “OK. I’ll call tomorrow evening before you close the shop,” said Debbie.
Her husband was waiting for her when she arrived home. “He’ll do it. I have to call for both necklaces tomorrow,” she told him as soon as she stepped inside their house.
“But where shall we get 1,500 pounds? We cannot afford that amount of money,” she told him. “Don’t worry,” he replied. “I’ve already thought of everything; I’ve secured a loan for that amount; with interest of course; but it would be worth it; what’s 1,500 pounds against 20,000 pounds?”
So on the morrow’s evening, as agreed with the jeweler, she called on him before closing time. He showed her the necklaces, the original one and the replica. They were so alike that she could not distinguish between them.
“This is the original one and this is the replica,” he said. “Only an experienced jeweler’s eye can detect the difference,” he continued. Debbie was impressed. She paid him the agreed 1,500 pounds, put both necklaces in her handbag and then went to her Ladyship’s mansion to finalize the plot she and her husband had hatched.
She opened the drawer, put the replica one exactly in the original’s place, closed the drawer and went home with the original in her handbag. Her husband was ecstatic. It was a perfect exchange. Her Ladyship would not know anything.
Lady Douglas did not have any occasion to use the necklace for some weeks. It remained in the drawer, in its own jewel box as if nobody had touched it since its last use.
But on the third week, the unexpected happened. Thieves had broken into her Ladyship’s mansion, ransacked the bedroom, broke the drawers and stole the priceless necklace. After checking the other areas of the place thoroughly, Lady Douglas confirmed that no other thing was missing. The thief or thieves were purposely after the necklace.
“Let’s call the Police,” a visibly agitated Debbie told her employer. Lady Douglas did not reply immediately. She was thinking. “Could it have been Debbie?’ she thought. “But if it was Debbie, she would have used the key not break the drawer.” “Yes, yes. Call the Police. Ask them to come here so that we can explain what happened,” she instructed her.
When Inspector Johnson and two constables called, they took statements from both Lady Douglas and Debbie. “Do you have any suspicions on who might have wanted the necklace?” asked the inspector. “No, none that we know of,” both replied.
After the inspector and the two constables left, Lady Douglas sat in the sitting room taking tea and biscuits as was her custom every afternoon. It appeared to Debbie that her Ladyship seemed calm and was not too much perturbed by the theft.
“Aren’t you worried that the police might not find it, your Ladyship?” asked Debbie when her employer did not mention the theft again. “Not much really,” replied Lady Douglas. “That necklace was only a replica and therefore a fake; very good imitation I must say; my friends adored it; the real one is in the bank’s safe and I seldom use it!”