The Hercules Detective Agency The Case of the Stone Zoo
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Hercules was relaxing on a sunny day when there was a thunderous knocking on his door.
“I am Eupiddle, the world's greatest sculptor,” a rather pompous looking individual announced as Hercules opened his door.
“Who?" asked Hercules.
“Eupiddle,” stated the man. “The world's greatest sculptor. My sculpture is beloved in all of Greece. Even the Gods themselves look upon my sculpture with favor. But I think I have angered the Gods in some way," Eupiddle blurted.
"You best come in," Hercules decided. He was not sure if he would take the case, but it never hurt to listen.
"I think I've been cursed," Eupiddle slumped down in a chair, no longer pompous. Mostly, he looked shaken. "Lately, all of my sculptures have come to life and run away. People are waiting for their statues, and I have no statues to give them. When I explain what has been happening, they don't believe me," Eupiddle cried out. "They think I'm crazy! They think I've lost my talent and refuse to admit it. Some look at me with pity. Others look at me with disgust. But all of them are going elsewhere for their statues. If this keeps up, I will not have any customers left!" As if spent from all this talking, Eupiddle slumped dismally into a chair. "I don't know what to do," Eupiddle said bleakly. "I've been cursed!"
Eupiddle, the world's greatest sculptor, was obviously in great need of help. The Hercules Detective Agency was founded, after all, to help the Greek people.
"Why do you think they came to life and ran away? Perhaps they were stolen," Hercules asked, going straight to the heart of the matter.
"I've seen them, Hercules. I've seen them, alive, right in my courtyard. When they see me, they run away. It's a curse. What else could it be?"
"That is odd, isn't it?" Hercules agreed. "It's not the normal behavior of statues, I must admit." Hercules thought for a moment. "I want to take a look at your studio. Perhaps there's something there that can shed some light on your problem."
As it turned out, Eupiddle's studio was only a quick cart ride away, situated quite near the huts of several of Hercules' good friends. But other than that, there was nothing of note, nothing that looked suspicious or out of place, no signs of meddling. Inside, Hercules found several tools of various sizes and a couple of smocks all neatly put away. Outside he found a few shavings, some oddly shaped stones, and a few quite large ones. The ground was too firm to leave footprints, if ever there had been any. The place was empty, empty of statues anyway.
"They're all gone," Eupiddle said mournfully. "All my beautiful statues."
"Do not make any more sculptures while I look into this. Can you do that?" Hercules directed.
"Yes," Eupiddle sighed miserably. "I can do that."
Without wasting any time, Hercules went up to Mount Olympus and asked around, but none of the gods knew anything about sculptures coming to life other than Pygmalion. And none would admit to cursing Eupiddle.
Hercules dropped into the sea and took a careful look about his Uncle Poseidon's colorful garden. It was a beautiful place. There were Greek columns and colorful seaweed and white sand and glowing jewels and shimmering shells and magical amber, with fish swimming in and out in every color of the rainbow. At night, glow worms kept every corner bathed in soft light. There was nothing else like it in the world. As moody and wild as he might be, Poseidon always calmed when he came home to his beautiful palace and his gentle wife. Hercules was relieved to find there was no one except himself in the garden. Poseidon's wife, Amphitrite, had been after Hercules to marry one of her daughters and make his home under the sea. He would then be able to breathe underwater, but he would never again be able to walk on land. That did not appeal to Hercules at all. No matter how many times he had politely said no thank you, Amphitrite kept trying. Having spotted no new statues, Hercules returned to the surface, grateful to have left unnoticed.
Although Hercules was sure he would not find answers for this problem in the Underworld, he dropped down anyway, as he did not wish to leave any stone unturned. As he suspected, Hades knew nothing about statutes coming to life. Neither did his beloved three-headed dog, Cerebus. Nor did any souls of the dead who were hanging about.
It had to be something in or around the studio of the great sculptor. Hercules returned to the studio and took another careful look around, but there was nothing out of place that Hercules could find there either. Something was definitely going on. Hercules was determined to find out what it was.
"Eupiddle," Hercules asked the world's greatest sculpture. "What is something small you can quickly make?"
"A snail?" Eupiddle suggested. "A rabbit, perhaps."
"That's it. Make me a sculpture of rabbit, a cute little rabbit."
This actually took a couple of days. While Eupiddle was working, Hercules noticed the village children all came to watch and admire the work. Eupiddle was truly talented. His stone rabbit was beginning to look like a real rabbit.
When Eupiddle finished his work, he brought his cart, himself, and the stone rabbit to Hercules' hut.
"I think it would best if we placed the rabbit in the middle of your courtyard," Hercules decided. "Then we'll wait and see what happens."
That's exactly what they did. Hercules placed the stone rabbit in the center of Eupiddle's courtyard. Eupiddle brought two chairs from his hut outside. Hercules and Eupiddle both took a seat. They watched the rabbit carefully. They watched for quite a while. "This one is not alive," Hercules said finally.
"That's because they only come alive when I'm sleeping."
"Oh," sighed Hercules, in a why didn't you mention that sooner sort of sigh. "Why don't you go and take a nap," he suggested gently. "You must be tired from all your hard work."
Eupiddle went dismally off to his sleeping chamber, leaving the stone rabbit in the middle of his courtyard.
Time for a stakeout, Hercules thought to himself. He tucked himself out of sight by climbing a nearby olive tree. He settled himself on a sturdy branch and waited.
Very soon, two young boys showed up, sneaking through the hedges of the courtyard, carrying a live, wiggling bunny. They placed it in the courtyard with some food so it wouldn't wander. They grabbed the sculpture and slipped back through the hedge.
Hercules jumped down from his hiding place in the olive tree and followed.
It wasn’t long before the boys turned into another courtyard. Inside this courtyard, Hercules spotted several lifelike animal sculptures, along with a well-crafted wooden sign. The sign read: "The Stone Zoo. Donations welcome." Ah ha, thought Hercules. Mystery solved.
Hercules stopped the boys. "Why did you take these stone animals?" he demanded to know in a very stern voice.
"Gosh, Mr. Hercules. We didn't think we were doing anything wrong," two innocent faces looked up at Hercules.
"You know that what you did is stealing?"
"Gosh Mr. Hercules. We traded live animals for stones ones. It was really hard to catch some of them. That's a deal, isn't it? Live animals for stone ones?"
Hercules held his stern look and waited.
The boys shuffled their feet. "We only did it when Mr. Eupiddle was asleep cuz we didn't want to bother him," said one of the boys.
"We didn't think he would deal with a couple of kids like us," confessed the other. "But we tried to be fair!"
"I think I can fix things," Hercules said, trying very hard to hold onto his frown and not burst out laughing at the very serious, very worried faces looking up at him. It would not be good to encourage two thieving boys, no matter how good their supposed deal. "But you have to return all the statues. And you have to volunteer to do some yard work for Mr. Eupiddle. That will leave him more time to make more statues. He's sadly behind in his orders."
The boys quickly agreed, trying hard not to cry.
To his credit, Eupiddle was not angry when Hercules told him what had been going on. Eupiddle was both relieved to find he was not cursed and flattered that the boys thought so highly of his work. He was most understanding when the boys came to apologize. Thanks to Hercules, Eupiddle did not lose his business. If anything, his business grew, as more and more people heard the amusing tale of the stone zoo. As for the boys, they weeded and cleaned around Eupiddle's studio for one hour each day for nearly a year, except on religious festival days. The boys soon realized they could learn a great deal by watching Eupiddle, the world's greatest sculptor, at work. Perhaps if they watched carefully enough, they could someday make their own stone zoo. It was not much of a punishment, but it made everyone happy.
About a month after this mystery had been solved, Hercules received a special delivery, his payment for solving this case, a wonderful life-sized statue of himself. The statue held a stone sign that read: "Home of The Hercules Detective Agency, No Problem Too Big or Too Small". Hercules removed his old wooden sign, and placed the stone statue to the right of his front door instead. He stood back, admiringly. Eupiddle, he decided, really was very good at his job, perhaps even as good as he thought he was.
Hercules had no trouble deciding what to name this case. It named itself - The Hercules Detective Agency, Founded to Help the Greek People, Case File: The Stone Zoo.