Arnold had never intended to shake down every child in town to find out who was spreading the rumors. That particular part of the task had seemed more like a suggestion and not a requisite, so instead he sent word to Tepic asking him if he could narrow it down a little, urchins did hear everything after all. In response Tepic was only able to tell him he could look into it, but to think about who had the most to gain from the rumors monetarily…or in revenge or fun. He’d also made it clear that if an urchin was involved he might ask them not to take the job anymore, but no more than that.
The feline hadn’t yet considered the possibility that the urchin network had been used to spread the rumor in the first place. If he didn’t hear back from Tepic in a matter of days he could be sure they had been and couldn’t ask for help in tracking down who had done it.
The thought did occur to Arnold however, that perhaps Tepic already did know and he had given the cat a hint. Who did have the most to gain from rumors of Emerson’s death? Rumors that if he survived would prove useless? Couldn’t be anyone he owed money to, since they would lose out on it if he died.
There were only two men who stood to gain anything financially if Emerson was declared dead, and that was Palmer and Arnold himself. Palmer had been the one who had made it so that if Emerson wasn’t back before the end of February that he’d declare him legally dead. He’d gone so far as to say that ‘if’ he returned he’d get Arnold a decent settlement, which would obviously be for a fee. Everything about the man, from his ‘office’ to his motivations for ‘helping’ Arnold, were suspicious at best. There was also the slight possibility, though he doubted it, that it had been Id.
If it wasn’t either of them, then it was probably revenge of some kind, which lead him to the next person on his list of suspects, Petharic. He didn’t know much about the man, but he couldn’t have been happy about Emerson’s graveyard or rumors of Petharic’s own demise. This might be his idea of fairness.
Those seemed the most likely to Arnold, but there were many people within the city that might have spread the rumor maliciously. Heliotrope or Maddox Lionheart could have gotten the idea after he’d told them about the will. Victor had lost a years worth of chivas because of the bet. Stormy had once claimed he had seen Macbain a full week after she had gone missing while horse riding, which he hadn’t believed and she had denied later. It was also possible that Emerson could have upset someone months before Arnold had arrived and he had no hope of narrowing it down without any help…but if Tepic had been giving him a hint then it was something the fox thought he knew about.
Arnold shrugged as he followed Palmer. He’d pursue all of these possibilities, and if they yielded nothing he’d confront Mumsy and see if this was another wild goose chase. She could have started the rumor herself just to see how long it took him to figure it out.