Michael intended to murder Mrs. Jeggings and loot everything she owned, including her home. “She’ll be dead soon, and I’ll have all the money this old hag has,” he thought, planning the robbery. However, his nefarious plans were dashed when he caught sight of an old photograph in her home.
Mrs. Jeggings was walking down the village street with a bag of rolls in her hand. It was getting dark, and the elderly lady was lost in her thoughts of her late son Nick, who had strolled with her on the streets several times as a child.
Mrs. Jeggings’ thoughts of him never left her mind, and with her advanced age, they had only grown stronger. She’d keep blabbering as she walked down the street or worked on the farm as if she was talking to someone.When her neighbors asked why she kept murmuring all the time, she said she was talking to her son in heaven, and he was telling her stories about the place. Some neighbors, concerned about her condition, advised her to see a doctor, while others made fun of her and avoided her altogether.
Mrs. Jeggings was on her way home one day when she heard a voice from behind her. “Excuse me, ma’am! My name is Michael. I need your help.”
Since it was dark, and her eyes had partially stopped supporting her due to her age, Mrs. Jeggings couldn’t see who was calling her. “Did you bring a friend with you today, Nick? But why are you quiet? Why is it that your friend is doing the talking? She asked, believing that her son had brought someone with him.
However, as the unfriendly acquaintance took a step forward, his face shone brightly in the streetlight, and Mrs. Jeggings took a step back. He was a tall man in his forties, unshaven, and dressed shabbily. Mrs. Jeggings was frightened by his appearance. “Who are you, and why are you following me?”
“I’m just a handyman, ma’am,” Michael replied. “I see you have a broken fence in your garden. May I repair it for you? I’m in desperate need of money because I haven’t eaten in days.”
Mrs. Jeggings looked around. Not a single soul appeared in sight. Plus, it was getting dark, and he seemed suspicious. Should I let him in? He doesn’t look right to me!
“No, there’s no need for that!” she replied, deciding not to let him in. “I’ll get it repaired later because I’m busy.”
“Please, ma’am. I’m making a request. I’m starving and desperate for money. And I’m not asking for anything for free,” Michael pleaded on his knees. “I’m willing to work in exchange. Please!”
With Micheal pleading like that, Mrs. Jeggings felt terrible for the man’s situation and decided to let him in, thinking he really needed money. “Fine! But I’m not going to pay you anything more than $20 for it. Is that alright with you?” she asked him.
“Indeed, ma’am. It’s more than enough for a homeless man like me!” Michael responded. But deep down, he was prepared with his nefarious scheme. He’d been watching the neighborhood for a while, and he knew Mrs. Jeggings was living alone.
First, he planned to threaten her to write a note stating she wanted the property transferred to him after her death. Then he intended to kill her and make it appear as if she had committed suicide. In any case, no one would bother because everyone in the colony knew she wasn’t medically fit and frequently hallucinated. Then he’d show up as her late son’s friend, organize the funeral, shed a few tears, and gradually move into the house.
Michael took everything he needed and pretended to build the fence, ready to carry out his plan. When he noticed Mrs. Jeggings going inside, he silently followed her. He was holding a knife, prepared to threaten the old lady with it, but Mrs. Jeggings went inside the bedroom and shut the door just as he was about to do so.
He waited outside the door for a few minutes, but she didn’t come out. He decided not to waste any more time and enter her room through the window. The man dashed outside and broke open the window with a screwdriver. Then he went inside, slowly replacing the glass. But Mrs. Jeggings wasn’t there.
Suddenly, he heard the clinking of utensils. He peeked out of the bedroom and saw Mrs. Jeggings, setting the table with muffins and sandwiches and placing a kettle on the stove.
He quickly repaired the window and fled the bedroom, opting to enter through the backdoor that led into the kitchen. However, as he entered the kitchen, he was stopped in his tracks by a framed photo on the dining table. It was him and his comrade Nick Jeggings in the photograph.
“Oh, here you are!” Mrs. Jeggings said, turning around after setting two teacups on the table. “I was planning on calling you. Are you finished putting up the fence? Have something. You kept telling me you were hungry.”
“Where did you get that, ma’am?” Michael asked, hiding the knife behind him, his gaze fixed on the photo. “Do you know them?”
“Oh, are you talking about this photo? That’s my son, Nick, and his comrade Mike! Come, sit; I’ll tell you everything.” Michael’s eyes welled up, and his past flashed before his eyes as Mrs. Jeggings narrated the entire incident that had occurred 20 years ago.
It turned out Nick and Mike–whose real name was Micheal–were comrades in the army. They were on their way back to their base when their entire group came under mortar fire. Nick attempted to save Mike’s life and was killed in the process.
Mike left the army without a trace, haunted by the guilt that his comrade had died saving him. He blamed himself for everything, drank excessively, and became involved in criminal activities when his money ran out. He had come to believe that good things only bring pain and suffering, much like how Nick ended up dead when all he was trying to do was save a comrade’s life.
However, sitting in Nick’s mother’s kitchen, being served food by the poor woman who was telling him about her late son, he realized how wrong he was. Mike, what were you thinking? Have you gone insane? You were about to murder Nick’s mother!
From that day on, it seemed like Michael was a completely different person. He not only gave up on the wrongdoings but also confessed to his crimes and turned himself in. When he was released from prison after serving his sentence, he began paying frequent visits to Mrs. Jeggings. He took care of her, spent time with her, and made sure she was never alone.
When Mrs. Jeggings died at the age of 98, he received a call from her lawyer informing him that she had left him a note as well as property and assets. Michael couldn’t stop crying when he arrived at the lawyer’s office and received the letter.
Mrs. Jeggings had written that she always knew he was Nick’s friend and comrade. “Did you really think I wouldn’t recognize you?” the note read. “Yes, at first I didn’t, but when I looked at you closely, I knew it was you, Mike! I knew you were going to kill me that day. I noticed you were following me with a knife. But look at you; you’re still the sweet young man Nick told me about.
“You kept telling me that a friend died because of your actions. If I’m not mistaken, you were talking about Nick. I recall you had gone missing from the army, and everyone was looking for you. I wanted to meet you back then, but no one knew where you went.
“Stop blaming yourself for what happened, Mike. Nick didn’t die because of you. If you’re reading this, promise me you’ll never return to a life of crime. Also, thank you for taking such good care of me. I’m glad we finally met. At least, I didn’t miss my son in my final days. I hope you live happily and never miss out on anything. With love, Mrs. Claire Jeggings.”