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Chapter 11: Doll maker

The following day, Jane and Addison took the train to York to meet the doll maker in person at his shop. Upon arriving in front of the shop, Addison looked at the board and said, 

"Looks like this is the one."

As they stepped into the shop, the doorbell chimed softly, and they were welcomed by an array of soft toys, including bears and dolls, arranged neatly on shelves. Jane observed several families with their children browsing through the toys. Taking in the surroundings, she spotted the counter and made her way over.

"How may I assist you, madam?" the young man at the desk asked with a kind smile. 

"I am Jane Reinhart. I am looking for Mr. Ethan Farrington," Jane stated. 

"That would be me." Ethan replied, "We spoke on the phone, Miss Reinhart. Give me a moment," he excused himself before summoning a worker and ordering, "Franky, take over the counter."

Ethan stepped away from the counter and asked, "Please follow me. My grandpa is at the house. It is behind the shop."

"I see," Jane replied, as she and Addison followed the young man, who appeared to be in his twenties. "How long has it been since the shop was first opened?" 

"Almost fifty years now," Ethan answered. 

"That's a long time," Addison murmured from behind. 

"Indeed, it is," Ethan acknowledged before his eyes met Jane's. "My grandfather began selling the toys by going door to door before he could afford a shop. It began in a modest room and has now grown into a family business."

They proceeded outside through the back door, walking through the path of a garden, which led to a house. Ethan then continued, "But a few years ago, Grandpa fell ill and no longer comes to the shop. He rarely speaks unless he is in the mood."

"I hope our visit does not disturb him," Jane replied.

"It should be fine in the company of a lovely woman such as yourself." Ethan smiled at Jane and stepped forward. "This way, please."

They were then taken into the medium-sized home, where two servants were found cleaning the halls. Walking deeper into the house, Ethan led them to a door and opened it, revealing an elderly man seated in a wheelchair. 

"Grandpa, you have visitors," Ethan informed. The elderly man who was staring outside the window shifted his gaze to fall on Jane and the man behind her. "This is Miss Reinhart and…"

"Addison," Jane's assistant quickly introduced himself. 

"Good afternoon, Senior Mr. Farrington," Jane said, bowing respectfully to him. "I had a few questions that I wanted to ask you, if you don't mind."

Ethan suggested, "Why don't you both take a seat?" while the older man continued to stare at them. The doll maker's grandson then wheeled the wheelchair to face the couch where the visitors had taken their seats. "I will be back in a bit."

"Ethan mentioned about the scarecrow doll to me this morning," the older man started, his expression grim as the sky outside. He asked, "Why do you want to know about it?" 

"My colleague and I are detectives, and we are working on a case that ties to the scarecrow," Jane explained to him. "It appears that yours is the only shop where scarecrow dolls were produced. But there was none back there in the shop as we walked by."

The elderly man hummed with a sigh. He explained, "The scarecrow dolls were made ten years ago. It was the first and only time I made them before discontinuing them."

"Did they not sell well?" Jane questioned, and the elderly man nodded. 

"Something like that. The same time my son and his wife fell sick," Senior Mr. Farrington answered before asking her, "Have you heard about the story related to the scarecrow?" 

"No," said Jane, shaking her head. 

"It's really popular in York. The story of a youngster who was injured by a man and how the scarecrow killed the man for the injustice he had committed," the elderly man recounted in a somber tone. "You'd think it's a ridiculous story, but people here believe it. The scarecrow haunts those who have committed crimes, which it believes should be punished."

Jane and Addison exchanged quiet looks. "You made the scarecrow doll knowing about it?" Addison inquired. 

"They were harmless dolls designed for Halloween. But nobody brought them that season, and then one day they were all sold," said Senior Mr. Farrington. 

"Did they look like this?" Addison asked, taking out a scarecrow doll from his bag, which belonged to the recent crime scene, and the old man's eyebrows rose. 

"That is the one. Where did you find it?" The old man inquired, looking impressed. "It has been so long since I last saw it. I did good work on them."

"You said someone purchased all of them together? Do you recall who it was?" Jane pressed for an answer, as if she would find out who the murderer was right this second. 

"I remember," the elderly man murmured, arousing the detective's interest. "I wasn't there when the dolls were sold, but we always ask the buyers to write down their names. I remember being surprised when I went through the registry that evening. Because the name written there was Scarecrow."

That was of no help, Jane thought to herself. She questioned him, "And how many of these scarecrow dolls did you make?"

The elderly man had a pensive expression on his face and responded, "There weren't many. I believe there were thirteen of them."

And an odd number, Jane noted in her mind. She continued to ask him, "The story about the boy and the scarecrow—can you tell me what exactly happened to that man who was killed by the scarecrow?" 

"The man's body was discovered in one of the alleyways. His eyes were gouged out, as were his heart and tongue. It is an old belief here, where the lack of eyes prevents a person from reaching the gates of heaven or hell, letting the soul to wander to nowhere. The missing heart is supposed to reflect the lack of humanity, and the missing tongue was to prevent the soul from whispering any more lies," the elderly man explained to them. "People here worship the scarecrow, but they are equally scared of it."

"So people thought the scarecrow from the field walked through the crops and into the village to kill that person?" Addison inquired with a puzzled expression. 

"Yes. That is what has been passed on for years," Senior Mr. Farrington solemnly said. "You'll be astonished at how low the crime rate is in York compared to other places. People here believe that if they make a mistake, the scarecrow will come for them."

When Jane and Addison left the doll maker's shop, Addison scratched his head and asked, "Do you believe the murderer is from this town, Miss Jane? Considering that none of us had heard this tale before."

Jane stared into the distance and then turned back to ask him, "How many scarecrow dolls do we have in our possession?" 

"Adding the one in my pocket, that would make it eleven," her assistant replied.

Jane pondered for a moment before remarking, "If the murderer has been diligently leaving the scarecrow dolls next to the victims, that implies there are still two murders set in order."

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