The village policewoman, Meli, responded immediately to Ludwig’s call. There wasn’t much crime in the village in the Wienerwald, the forest to the west of Austria’s capital. Now, so soon before Christmas, the crime that had been committed was the most despicable of all. Someone had stolen all the childrens’ presents. A meeting in the village hall was quickly scheduled whilst Meli was looking for clues. She took prints off the doorknob and the keys, but she knew that just before Christmas, she would not get results back for several days. She would have to do some good old detective work. Meanwhile, Ludwig was devastated. He walked around the barn with Gary at his side, feeling like he had failed all the Children in the village.
The meeting in the village hall was a complete shambles, but due to the mayor’s convincing and firm stand on the matter, the villagers eventually rallied round. They decided to keep the theft a secret from the children whilst everyone searched the village, empty houses and any spot where the missing presents could possibly be hidden.
“But what do we do if we don’t find them?” one mother asked.
The mayor took a deep breath.
“If it really was a thief from outside the village, we might never get the presents back. Then we’ll have to figure out how to make sure all the kids get presents, even if they might be smaller this year. We will all have to work together.”
“We just… We can’t afford to buy all the present again,” she said.
Manfred and Michael’s mother in the meantime thought, ‘I wish I could afford at least one set of presents’.