Author: Herschel Cozine
Gingerbread houses. Poisoned apples. Huffing and puffing until a house is blown down. Nathaniel P.
Osgood III, intrepid private eye in the land of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, has truly seen it all. Until
now.When the royal family is attacked by four and twenty blackbirds baked into a pie, Osgood knows
this isn't just another everyday case. As the suspects and clues begin to mount, Osgood begins to
wonder if anyone will survive to live happily ever after.
Hi. Nathaniel P. Osgood III here. For those of you who don't know me, I am a private eye in Nurseryland.
It's a strange profession in an even stranger land. I have seen many kinds of weapons used in the
commission of a crime during my career. Bows and arrows, gingerbread houses, poisoned apples, even
lung power. (Remember the wolf and the three pigs?) So I didn't consider it out of the ordinary in
Nurseryland when I discovered that blackbirds had been used to attack the royal family. Why not? After
all, this is the land of the free and the home of the odd. However, the method of attack rather than the
weapon was disconcerting, admittedly clever, and definitely malicious. After all, the perpetrator had no
control over the birds once they were set free inside the royal palace (or so I thought), and any mischief
they did would be totally unpredictable. It was a bit reckless. But, like many crimes and criminals,
irresponsible behavior is commonplace. I suppose if they had any regard for that sort of thing they
wouldn't be criminals in the first place.I became involved in the case shortly after it happened. A man of
my position has very little contact with the upper crust. We're just working stiffs, dealing with the lower
elements of society as a rule. Pig stealers, trespassers, peeping toms and the like. What does royalty
know about our way of life? (And vice versa?)However, occasionally a situation arises that requires
someone of my profession be involved. The blackbird case, I soon learned, was one of them.It was a
sunny morning, not unlike most of the other mornings at this time of year. My disposition, however, was
not as pleasant as the weather. It seldom is. I was working on my second cup of coffee, clearing my
head from a night of overindulgence in food and drink—particularly the latter—when the door to my office
opened with a creak that made me wince. Making a mental note to oil the hinges, I looked up to see a
distinguished looking man standing rigidly before me. Although not familiar with the dress code of the
palace, I had seen enough pictures to know that his outfit had royalty written all over it. I stood up, bowed
my head slightly in a show of respect. I felt like Pavlov's dog. Royalty tinkled a bell and we subjects
responded with awe and respect, no matter whether the royalty in question deserves it. It's been my
experience that they seldom do. But that's not an issue here."Mister Osgood?" The voice had a
stentorian quality about it, befitting the position of the speaker."At your service," I replied.The man
extended his hand. "I am Thornhill Montague, adviser and counseler to His Royal Highness."I wasn't
certain whether I was supposed to shake his hand or kiss it. Choosing the former—more sanitary if
socially incorrect—I shook it firmly. He returned the handshake with an equal firmness and I relaxed.He
looked around the room with a hint of disdain, brushed a hand across his eyes and sat down. "I am here
at the request of His Royal Highness, King Geoffrey Hart."The name, although expected—after all he was
the only king Nurseryland had at the moment—reminded me of the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland.
Notwithstanding the spelling difference, I often wondered if they were related.Since the gentleman was
now seated, I felt it was safe to do the same. I knew that much about royal protocol. I sat down slowly,
waiting for him to continue."It seems we had an unfortunate incident occur at the palace the other day,"
he said. He brushed a bit of lint from his sleeve and watched it drift to the floor where it settled among