Monday, May 24
But Professor S. did not want to play with us. Instead, he skirted our party, entered his apartment and shut the blinds. Nice try, Billie.
Late this morning I strolled into Betty’s office for the recipes she’s collected so far and found her in a glow of self-importance. Something was up. Fortunately, she’s not one to keep a juicy bit of gossip to her self. Generous woman. It seems that Dr. Ruppel had moved the artifacts to his office for the interview with the Tuscaloosa Times, but, Betty whispered, one eye on his partly closed door, when he’d arrived to work this morning, intending to return all the pieces to their display cabinets in Smith Hall, the doll’s leg was gone.
“Who?” I mouthed.
Betty smiled and offered me a folder marked “recipes”.
“Nobody knows,” she said innocently but nodding her head in the direction of the student workroom.
“One of the students?” I asked.
She leaned toward me, flipped open the folder and pointed to the top recipe, Alpha Gams: Chicken in Bourbon Sauce.
“Eleanor?” I knew that Eleanor, the girl who had been working with Kate when the leg was found, was a member of Alpha Gamma.
“No, Cecile.” Cecile Bruner, another work-study student, had been sleeping in on the fateful day and was, according to Betty, pea green with envy and regret. Apparently, she’d been sleeping with Cecile’s boyfriend.
“Now, that’s what I call gossip,” I said, my voice rising uncontrollably with excitement. “You think she’ll give it up?”
“We don’t know that she’s got it,” said Betty, closing the folder and handing it to me. “I’ll talk to you later,” she promised.
As I walked back to my own department, I wondered about the theft. If I had the leg I would use it as an amulet or talisman. It is always good, in the sense of having a kind of magical power, to own a secret. Owning a secret is as dangerous as owning another’s heart, or a child, possibly even property, I don’t know. It is both valuable and vulnerable and passes those qualities onto the holder. I suppose it’s magical because, unlike a child or a heart (or wealth), the value is invisible, imperceptible, yet strong. Why else do people covet and steal objects and knowledge? I knew a woman in Atlanta who just loved collecting information on other people. She didn’t use it, she just liked having it.