The envelope, written in Hindi, lacked a return address but the fact that it had been registered led me to the local post office. It had been mailed from the town of Tikamgarh in the Central Indian State of Orcha. A start perhaps, but little else.


I had reservations about taking on this assignment from Monsieur. I had just returned from an arduous journey to Central America in order to obtain a missing page from his “Book of Miracles” as he liked to call it, an illustrated compendium of prophetic celestial events. He had scarcely looked at my find before he went off on a fretful tangent about Milady Lenore. And I was rather looking for a longish vacation in the Pyrenees. Besides other clients were rapping at my door, requiring services for which I had acquired some modest fame.

Yet I was rather disposed to assist the late baron's lonely, eccentric son. Our fathers had been comrades during the Napoleonic wars fighting the Corsican tyrant, and had even stood shoulder to shoulder  in Blucher's army at Waterloo. Before he died in some far away land, the baron implored my father to oversee his son's education. So he had, despite the young baron's increasingly erratic behavior.