Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clouds of Witness pt 3

“Contrast,” philosophised Lord Peter sleepily, “is life. Corsica—Paris—then London.... Good morning, Bunter.”
“Good morning, my lord. Fine morning, my lord. Your lordship's bath-water is ready.”
“Thanks,” said Lord Peter. He blinked at the sunlight.
It was a glorious bath. He wondered, as he soaked in it, how he could have existed in Corsica. He wallowed happily and sang a few bars of a song. In a soporific interval he heard the valet de chamber bringing in coffee and rolls. Coffee and rolls! He heaved himself out with a splash, towelled himself luxuriously, enveloped his long-mortified body in a silken bath-robe, and wandered back.
valet de chamber: Room service. French for "servant of the room"

To his immense surprise he perceived Mr. Bunter calmly replacing all the fittings in his dressing-case. Another astonished glance showed him the bags—scarcely opened the previous night—repacked, relabelled, and standing ready for a journey.
“I say, Bunter, what's up?” said his lordship. “We're stayin' here a fortnight y'know.”
“Excuse me, my lord,” said Mr. Bunter, deferentially, “but, having seen The Times (delivered here every morning by air, my lord; and very expeditious I'm sure, all things considered), I made no doubt your lordship would be wishing to go to Riddlesdale at once.”
Riddlesdale is a fictional estate in West Yorkshire.

“Riddlesdale!” exclaimed Peter. “What's the matter? Anything wrong with my brother?”
For answer Mr. Bunter handed him the paper, folded open at the heading:

RIDDLESDALE INQUEST.
DUKE OF DENVER ARRESTED
ON MURDER CHARGE.

Lord Peter stared as if hypnotized.
“I thought your lordship wouldn't wish to miss anything,” said Mr. Bunter, “so I took the liberty——”
Lord Peter pulled himself together.
“When's the next train?” he asked.
“I beg your lordship's pardon—I thought your lordship would wish to take the quickest route. I took it on myself to book two seats in the aeroplane Victoria. She starts at 11.30.”
Lord Peter looked at his watch.
“Ten o'clock,” he said. “Very well. You did quite right. Dear me! Poor old Gerald arrested for murder. Uncommonly worryin' for him, poor chap. Always hated my bein' mixed up with police-courts. Now he's there himself. Lord Peter Wimsey in the witness-box—very distressin' to feelin's of a brother.
“’Name’ in the Witness Box’ was a typical headline by newspapers covering criminal trials. They gave the names of everyone who testified, reactions of the jury, and so on.

Duke of Denver in the dock—worse still. Dear me! Well, I suppose one must have breakfast.”
The dock is the name of the circular location in the courtroom where a defendant stands while on trial.

“Yes, my lord. Full account of the inquest in the paper, my lord.”
An inquest is a judicial investigation in common law jurisdictions, conducted by a judge, jury, or government official. The most common kind of inquest is an inquiry including a medical examination by a coroner into the cause of a death that was sudden, violent or suspicious.

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