"Madame! Madame! Votre boîte est partie! Your box is gone!"
"What? Are you sure?"
"That box has all my valuables in it! Find it right now!"
Madame Francoise Heatherman of Cherry Lane was very rich. Very rich, indeed. She lived in a mansion that had 5 floors, and her house contained 2 swimming pools, a hot tub, and many bedrooms. She had 50 servants, and she was proud of that. Her husband, Monsieur Gabriel Heatherman, owned a big and famous company that sold tires and brakes for cars. Although Madame Heatherman was very famous for her wits, she sometimes did not very smart things, like putting all her valuables into one box.
"Have you found it yet, you imbecile?"
The unlucky servant who she was speaking to shook his head.
"Madame, we are trying as hard as we can, but it seems that your box is gone."
Madame Heatherman remarked, "Useless!", as she stormed inside.
After Monsieur Heatherman came back home, Madame Heatherman related all the events to him.
"Have pity on them, Francoise! It's not their fault that your box is gone!"
"I'm almost positive that one of them took it. It's either Jacques or Franklin. Those two are very untrustworthy."
"Whatever, Francoise. I'm going up to bed."
That night, the Madame could not sleep. She was scared. Did she have enemies? Who had taken her box? Was it one of her servants? She didn't know. It was the first time in her life that she just didn't know. This was a blow to her self esteem. She vowed that she would find out who the thief was.
The next morning, Madame Heatherman went downstairs with a sly smile on her face. She had come up with a plan last night.
"Everyone! Come down to the sitting room this instant!"
Once everyone had arrived, she said, "Let's play a game. It goes like this. If the person that stole my box doesn't come clean, then every single person in this room will be fired. I know, it's a really fun game! You have until tonight."
Madame Heatherman left with a nasty smile on her face. She knew that the thief would come clean now.
By dinner, no one had fessed up. The Madame felt very worried. This was not going well. Also, she hadn't really wanted to fire anybody!
By the next morning, Madame was sick with fright. What if someone planned to kill her? What would she do then? Who had taken her box? She did not come down for breakfast or lunch. By dinner, she was a nervous wreck. She was still in her pajamas, and hadn't gotten out of bed all day.
That night, when everyone had gone to bed, Madame Heatherman went downstairs. She had no reason for doing so. But, once she went downstairs, she witnessed quite a spectacle. It was her most beloved servant, Steven, stealing some gold from the cupboards.
She exclaimed, "Steven!"
Steven dropped the items in his hands and spun around.
He sputtered, "Madame...Madame...s'il vous plait...desolee!"
"Explain yourself, please!"
"As you know Madame, I have a wife and 5 kids that I have to look after. I send money to them through the mail, but it's not enough to keep them going. I thought since you had a surplus of riches, you wouldn't mind if I took some things."
"Did you take my box, too?"
"No, Madame! That's a promise. I would never be so selfish as to take your prized possession."
"Ok. Thank you Steven. I will make up my mind about you tomorrow. Now, please put the items back where you found them."
"D'accord, Madame. Merci."
As Madame Heatherman walked back up to her room, she wondered about a lot. Had Steven been telling the truth? If yes, then who had taken the box? What would she do about Steven?
When she woke up in the morning, she had all the answers to her questions from yesterday.
"Everyone, please come to the dining room. We will be eating breakfast together and talking over important matters."
The servants all looked at each other in awe. They had never dined with their Madame, much less talked with her about important matters!
Once all the servants and Madame and Monsieur Heatherman were seated, Madame Heatherman started talking.
"Yesterday night, I caught a very loyal servant of mine stealing. I have decided not to punish him, because I realize that your wages have not been enough. Well, back to the point. This got me thinking of something. How many of you have stolen without me knowing? Why did you steal? Was it because I didn't pay you enough, or was it something else? Also, whoever stole my box, please tell the truth.
The servants looked at each other. They were ready to come clean.
"Madame, all of us pitched in to steal your box. We all distributed the wealth in that box. "
Another servant chimed in. "I'm very sorry to say that I stole some of your other jewels in order to feed my family."
Soon, all the servants were confessing about stealing something or the other. Madame Heatherman was ashamed of never knowing of everything that was going on in our own house, but at the same time, she was astonished.
"Okay. Thank you everyone! Now, please tell me why you stole."
"You don't pay us enough."
"I need to feed my family!"
"You're so rude to us; I felt that I should do something mean to you."
Madame Heatherman was flabbergasted, to put it in words. She pulled back her chair and left silently. Monsieur Heatherman followed her up.
"Francoise? Can you believe it? The amount of scoundrels we are housing! I'm ashamed to have stood up for them before."
"I don't really know Gabriel. I think that we were unfair to them too. We forgot about their family situation, and treated them as if they weren't humans."
"Francoise! Are you sticking up for them now?"
"No. Now, please leave. I must think."
And think she did. She thought and thought until dinnertime. Then, she was ready to make her announcement.
"Everyone, please come here!"
Once everyone had arrived, Madame Heatherman made her announcement.
"I have decided to increase your wages. Also, every month, whoever I feel has worked the best will get extra money. I will also strive to be a nicer person on the whole. C'est bonne?"
"Thank you so much Madame!"
Madame Heatherman was bombarded with hugs and thank you's. She felt much happier.
Over the years, Madame Heatherman became a happier, nice person. She did everything that she promised. Over time, Monsieur Heatherman became a happier person as well. Together, they lived many happy days together, with their trustworthy servants.