Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

“Do you suppose, Wimsey, that your brother really contemplates the gallows?” asked Parker.

“I think Murbles put it to him pretty straight,” said Lord Peter.

“Quite so. But does he actually realize—imaginatively—that it is possible to hang an English peer for murder on circumstantial evidence?”
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system. The term is used both collectively to refer to the entire body of noble titles (or a subdivision thereof), and individually to refer to a specific title (and generally has an initial capital in the former case and not the latter). The holder of a peerage is termed a peer.

In modern practice, no new hereditary peerages are created (except for members of the Royal Family), but only life peerages which carry the personal right to sit and vote in the House of Lords. Peerages, like all modern British honours, are created by the British monarch, taking effect when letters patent are affixed with the Great Seal of the Realm. Her Majesty's Government advises the Sovereign on a new peerage, under a process which scrutinises appointments to political honours. Currently a few hereditary peers, who are elected to represent the others, also retain the right to sit and vote in the House of Lords.

The Sovereign is considered the fount of honour, and as "the fountain and source of all dignities cannot hold a dignity from himself",[1] cannot hold a peerage (although the British Sovereign uses the style "Duke of Lancaster"). If an individual is neither the Sovereign nor a peer, he is a commoner. Members of a peer's family who are not themselves peers (including such members of the Royal Family) are also commoners; the British system thus differs fundamentally from continental European ones, where entire families, rather than individuals, were ennobled.

Certain personal privileges are afforded to all peers and peeresses, but the main distinction of a peerage nowadays is the style or title and traditional forms of address. The claim to an existing hereditary peerage is regulated by the House of Lords through its Committee for Privileges and Conduct.

Lord Peter considered this.

“Imagination isn't Gerald's strong point,” he admitted. “I suppose they do hang peers? They can't be beheaded on Tower Hill or anything?”

“I'll look it up,” said Parker; “but they certainly hanged Earl Ferrers in 1760.”
Earl Ferrers is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1711 for Robert Shirley, 13th Baron Ferrers of Chartley. The Shirley family descends from George Shirley (died 1622) of Astwell Castle, Northamptonshire.

In 1611 he was created a Baronet, of Staunton Harold in the County of Leicester, in the Baronetage of England. He was succeeded by his son, the second Baronet. He married Lady Dorothy Devereux, daughter of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. On the death of her brother Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, she became the youngest co-heir to the baronies of Ferrers of Chartley and the barony of Bourchier, which had fallen into abeyance on the death of the third Earl. Shirley was succeeded by his eldest son, the third Baronet. He died unmarried and was succeeded by his younger brother, the fourth Baronet. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Cromwell and died there in 1656. On his death the title passed to his eldest son, the fifth Baronet. He died at an early age and was succeeded at birth by his posthumous son, the sixth Baronet.

He died as an infant and was succeeded by his uncle, the seventh Baronet. In 1677 King Charles II terminated the abeyance of the barony of Ferrers of Chartley in his favour and he became the thirteenth Baron Ferrers of Chartley. His claim to the barony of Bourchier was overlooked, however. He later served as Master of the Horse and as Lord Steward to the Queen Consort, Catherine of Braganza, and was Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire. In 1711 he was created Viscount Tamworth, of Tamworth in the County of Stafford, and Earl Ferrers, in the Peerage of Great Britain. He was succeeded in the barony of Ferrers of Chartley by his granddaughter Elizabeth, wife of James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton. She was the daughter of the first Earl's eldest son the Hon. Robert Shirley (1673–1698), who predeceased his father (see the Baron Ferrers of Chartley for further history of this title). Lord Ferrers was succeeded in the baronetcy, viscountcy and earldom by his second son, the second Earl. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire from 1725 to 1729. He died childless and was succeeded by his younger brother, the third Earl. He was Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire from 1731 to 1742.

He died unmarried and was succeeded by his nephew, the fourth Earl. He was the son of the Hon. Lawrence Shirley, third surviving son of the first Earl. Lord Ferrers killed Mr Johnson, his land-steward, was tried, condemned for murder and hanged at Tyburn on 5 May 1760. He is the last British peer to die a felon's death. On his death the titles passed to his younger brother, the fifth Earl.

“Did they, though?” said Lord Peter. “Ah well, as the old pagan said of the Gospels, after all, it was a long time ago, and we'll hope it wasn't true.”
I’ve been unable to find any reference to an “old Pagan”.
“It's true enough,” said Parker; “and he was dissected and anatomized afterwards. But that part of the treatment is obsolete.”

“We'll tell Gerald about it,” said Lord Peter, “and persuade him to take the matter seriously. Which are the boots he wore Wednesday night?”

“These,” said Parker, “but the fool's cleaned them.”

“Yes,” said Lord Peter bitterly. “M'm! a good heavy lace-up boot—the sort that sends the blood to the head.”

“He wore leggings, too,” said Parker; “these.”
Today, leggings seem to be really tight tights worn by women, over which they wear a dress. In the 1920s, leggings were extra pieces of cloth that men wore over the lower part of their trousers to prevent dirt getting on them.
Although Wikipedia specifies this description is for military leggings, they also describe what Herald was probably wearing.
Since the late 19th century, soldiers of various nations, especially infantry, often wore leggings to protect their lower leg, keep dirt, sand, and mud from entering their shoes, and to provide a measure of ankle support. At first, these were usually puttees—strips of thick woolen cloth resembling a large bandage—were wrapped around the leg to support the ankle. They were usually held in place by a strap attached to the cloth. Later, puttees were replaced by some armies with canvas leggings fastened with buckles or buttons, usually secured at the bottom with an adjustable stirrup that passed under the sole of the shoe, just in front of the heel. The soldier placed the leggings around his calf with the buttoned side facing out and adjusted them and the strap to achieve a proper fit. Leggings typically extended to mid-calf and had a garter strap to hold them up and were secured with a tie just below the knee. Military leggings only extended to the bottom of the knee and buttoned to the bottom button on the knee-breeches. They are sometimes confused with gaiters, which only extend to the high ankle and are worn with full leg trousers.
“Rather elaborate preparations for a stroll in the garden. But, as you were just going to say, the night was wet. I must ask Helen if Gerald ever suffered from insomnia.”

“I did. She said she thought not as a rule, but that he occasionally had toothache, which made him restless.”

“It wouldn't send one out of doors on a cold night, though. Well, let's get downstairs.”

They passed through the billiard-room, where the Colonel was making a sensational break, and into the small conservatory which led from it.
In billiards and snooker (and pool), the balls to be hit into the pockets are arranged in a triangular pattern at one end of the table, and “broken” by sending the cueball down to them. If an appropriate ball goes into one of the pockets, the “breaker” continues his break by sending more balls into pockets. A sensational break could be one where he runs the table, or at leasr gets a very high score before missing.

Lord Peter looked gloomily round at the chrysanthemums and boxes of bulbs.

“These damned flowers look jolly healthy,” he said. “Do you mean you've been letting the gardener swarm in here every day to water 'em?”

“Yes,” said Parker apologetically, “I did. But he's had strict orders only to walk on these mats.”

“Good,” said Lord Peter. “Take 'em up, then, and let's get to work.”

With his lens to his eye he crawled cautiously over the floor.

“They all came through this way, I suppose,” he said.

“Yes,” said Parker. “I've identified most of the marks. People went in and out. Here's the Duke. He comes in from outside. He trips over the body.” (Parker had opened the outer door and lifted some matting, to show a trampled patch of gravel, discolored with blood.) “He kneels by the body. Here are his knees and toes. Afterwards he goes into the house, through the conservatory, leaving a good impression in black mud and gravel just inside the door.”

Lord Peter squatted carefully over the marks.

“It's lucky the gravel's so soft here,” he said.

“Yes. It's just a patch. The gardener tells me it gets very trampled and messy just here owing to his coming to fill cans from the water-trough. They fill the trough up from the well every so often, and then carry the water away in cans. It got extra bad this year, and they put down fresh gravel a few weeks ago.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque, L'Anneau d'Améthyste, South Wind (our young friend works out very true to type), Chronique d'un Cadet de Coutras (tut-tut, Charles!), Manon Lescaut. H'm! Is there anything else in this room I ought to look at?”
La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque and L'Anneau d'Améthyste were written by Anatole France.

Anatole France (16 April 1844 – 12 October 1924), born François-Anatole Thibault, was a French poet, journalist, and novelist. He was born in Paris, and died in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire. He was a successful novelist, with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie française, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his literary achievements.

In La Rotisserie de la Reine Pedauque (1893) Anatole France ridiculed belief in the occult [At the Sign of the Reine [Queen] Pédauque]

L'Anneau d'Améthyste is The Ring of Amethyste, also by Anatole France, 1899.

South Wind is a 1917 novel by British author Norman Douglas, his most famous book. It is set on an imaginary island called Nepenthe, located off the coast of Italy in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a thinly fictionalized description of Capri's residents and visitors. The novel's discussion of moral and sexual issues caused considerable debate

Chronique d'un Cadet de Coutras by Abel Hermant tells the adventures of of a younger son of the Coutras family.

Manon Lescaut (L'Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut) is a short novel by French author Abbé Prévost. Published in 1731, it is the seventh and final volume of Mémoires et aventures d'un homme de qualité (Memoirs and Adventures of a Man of Quality). It was controversial in its time and was banned in France upon publication. Despite this, it became very popular and pirated editions were widely distributed. In a subsequent 1753 edition, the Abbé Prévost toned down some scandalous details and injected more moralizing disclaimers.

Set in France and Louisiana in the early 18th century, the story follows the hero le Chevalier Des Grieux and his lover Manon Lescaut. Des Grieux comes from a noble and landed family, but forfeits his hereditary wealth and incurs the disappointment of his father by running away with Manon. In Paris, the young lovers enjoy a blissful cohabitation, while Des Grieux struggles to satisfy Manon's taste for luxury. He scrounges together money by borrowing from his unwaveringly loyal friend Tiberge and from cheating gamblers. On several occasions, Des Grieux's wealth evaporates (by theft, in a house fire, etc.), prompting Manon to leave him for a richer man because she cannot stand the thought of living in penury.

The two lovers finally settle down in New Orleans, where the virtual absence of class differences allows them to live in idyllic peace for a while. But when Des Grieux reveals their unmarried state to the Governor and asks to be wed with Manon, the Governor's nephew sets his sights on winning Manon's hand. In despair, Des Grieux challenges the Governor's nephew to a duel and knocks him unconscious. Thinking he had killed the man and fearing retribution, the couple flees New Orleans and venture into the wilderness of Louisiana, hoping to reach a neighbouring English settlement. Manon dies of exposure and exhaustion the following morning, and Des Grieux returns to France to become a cleric after burying his beloved.
“I don't think so. Where'd you like to go now?”

“We'll follow 'em down. Wait a jiff. Who are in the other rooms? Oh yes. Here's Gerald's room. Helen's at church. In we go. Of course, this has been dusted and cleaned up, and generally ruined for purposes of observation?”

“I'm afraid so. I could hardly keep the Duchess out of her bedroom.”

“No. Here's the window Gerald shouted out of. H'm! Nothing in the grate, here, naturally—the fire's been lit since. I say, I wonder where Gerald did put that letter to—Freeborn's, I mean.”

“Nobody's been able to get a word out of him about it,” said Parker. “Old Mr. Murbles had a fearful time with him. The Duke insists simply that he destroyed it. Mr. Murbles says that's absurd. So it is. If he was going to bring that sort of accusation against his sister's fiancé he'd want some evidence of a method in his madness, wouldn't he? Or was he one of those Roman brothers who say simply: 'As the head of the family I forbid the banns and that's enough'?”
The Marriage Act 1753, full title "An Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriage", popularly known as Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act, was the first statutory legislation in England and Wales to require a formal ceremony of marriage. It came into force on 25 March 1754. The Act was precipitated by a dispute about the validity of a Scottish marriage, although pressure to address the problem of clandestine marriage had been growing for some time.

Before the Act, the legal requirements for a valid marriage in England and Wales had been governed by the canon law of the Church of England. This had stipulated that banns should be called or a marriage licence obtained before a marriage could take place and that the marriage should be celebrated in the parish where at least one of the parties was resident. However, these requirements were directory rather than mandatory and the absence of banns or a licence – or even the fact that the marriage was not celebrated in a church – did not render the marriage void. The only indispensable requirement was that the marriage be celebrated by an Anglican clergyman. The common but mistaken assumption that a simple exchange of consent would suffice is based on later, erroneous readings of ecclesiastical case law: such an exchange created a binding contract to marry rather than a legal marriage.

The banns -- the public declaration of an intended marriage, usually formally announced on three successive Sundays in the parish churches of both the betrothed. To "forbid the banns" meant to forbid the wedding.

“Gerald,” said Wimsey, “is a good, clean, decent, thoroughbred public schoolboy, and a shocking ass. But I don't think he's so mediæval as that.”

“But if he has the letter, why not produce it?”

“Why, indeed? Letters from old college friends in Egypt aren't, as a rule, compromising.”
“You don't suppose,” suggested Parker tentatively, “that this Mr. Freeborn referred in his letter to any old—er—entanglement which your brother wouldn't wish the Duchess to know about?”

Lord Peter paused, while absently examining a row of boots.

“That's an idea,” he said. “There were occasions—mild ones, but Helen would make the most of them.” He whistled thoughtfully. “Still, when it comes to the gallows——”
A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, used for execution by hanging, or by means to torture before execution, as was used when being hanged, drawn and quartered. The gallows took its form from the Roman Furca when Constantine abolished crucifixion.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

He leaned forward and stared into the grate.

“There's some burnt paper here, Charles.”

“I know. I was frightfully excited about that yesterday, but I found it was just the same in several of the rooms. They often let the bedroom fires go out when everybody's out during the day, and relight them about an hour before dinner.
Although central heating was in existence in the 1920s, it was very expensive. Most large homes therefore had fireplaces in the bedrooms for warmth, or, failing that, a hot water bottle would be placed at one’s feet, under the covers, or a bedwarmer (a metal container filled with hot coals) would be run underneath the sheets for a while to warm them.

There's only the cook, housemaid, and Fleming here, you see, and they've got a lot to do with such a large party.”

Lord Peter was picking the charred fragments over.

“I can find nothing to contradict your suggestion,” he sadly said, “and this fragment of the Morning Post rather confirms it. Then we can only suppose that Cathcart sat here in a brown study, doing nothing at all. That doesn't get us much further, I'm afraid.” He got up and went to the dressing-table.
The Morning Post, as the paper was named on its masthead, was a conservative daily newspaper published in London from 1772 to 1937, when it was acquired by The Daily Telegraph.

The expression "brown study" is old, dating at least from the sixteenth century. We’ve now lost the original meanings of both halves of the phrase and so it has long since turned into an idiom. Brown does refer to the colour, but it seems that in the late medieval period it could also mean no more than dark or gloomy and it was then transferred figuratively to the mental state. A study at that time could be a state of reverie or abstraction, a sense of the word that is long since obsolete.

The first example is a surprisingly modern-sounding bit of sage advice in a book called Dice-Play of 1532: “Lack of company will soon lead a man into a brown study”. (From Word Wide Words)

“I like these tortoiseshell sets,” he said, “and the perfume is 'Baiser du Soir'—very nice too.
'Baiser du Soir’ is French for “Kiss of the evening.”

New to me. I must draw Bunter's attention to it.
Wimsey often tels Bunter to flirt with the servants in the households where he is investigating a crime.

A charming manicure set, isn't it? You know, I like being clean and neat and all that, but Cathcart was the kind of man who always impressed you as bein' just a little too well turned out. Poor devil! And he'll be buried at Golders Green after all. I only saw him once or twice, you know. He impressed me as knowin' about everything there was to know. I was rather surprised at Mary's takin' to him, but, then, I know really awfully little about Mary. You see, she's five years younger than me.

When the war broke out she'd just left school and gone to a place in Paris, and I joined up, and she came back and did nursing and social work, so I only saw her occasionally.
Social Work has its roots in the social and economic upheaval wrought by the Industrial Revolution; in particular the struggle of society to deal with poverty and its resultant problems. Dealing with poverty was the main focus of early social work and therefore social work is intricately linked with the idea of charity work; but must now be understood in much broader terms. For instance it is not uncommon for modern social workers to find themselves dealing with the consequences arising from many other 'social problems' such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and age and physical/ mental ability discrimination. Modern social workers can be found helping to deal with the consequences of these, and many other social maladies, in all areas of the human services; and many other fields besides.

Whereas social work started on a more scientific footing aimed at controlling and reforming individuals; (at one stage supporting the notion that poverty was a disease) it has, in more recent times, adopted a more critical and holistic approach to understanding and intervening in social problems. This has lead, for example, to the re-conceptualisation of poverty as more a problem of the haves versus the have nots rather than its former status as a disease, illness, or moral defect in need of treatment. This also points to another historical development in the evolution of social work; evolving from a profession engaged more in social control to one more directed at social empowerment. That is not to say that modern social workers do not engage in social control (consider statutory child protection workers) and many, if not, most social workers would likely agree that this is an ongoing tension and debate.

The concept of charity goes back to ancient times, and the practice of providing for the poor has roots in many major ancient civilizations and world religions.

At that time she was rather taken up with new schemes for puttin' the world to rights and hadn't a lot to say to me. And she got hold of some pacifist fellow who was a bit of a stumer, I fancy.
Pacifism is the opposition to war and/or violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864 - 1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901

Stumer is something bogus or fraudulent. In use since 1885–90; origin uncertain.

Then I was ill, you know, and after I got the chuck from Barbara I didn't feel much like botherin' about other people's heart-to-hearts, and then I got mixed up in the Attenbury diamond case—and the result is I know uncommonly little about my own sister. But it looks as though her taste in men had altered. I know my mother said Cathcart had charm; that means he was attractive to women, I suppose. No man can see what makes that in another man, but mother is usually right. What's become of this fellow's papers?”

“He left very little here,” replied Parker. “There's a cheque-book on Cox's Charing Cross branch, but it's a new one and not very helpful.
Cox is a fictional bank. Charing Cross denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London. It is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. The site of the cross is now occupied by an equestrian statue of King Charles I. Since the second half of the 18th century Charing Cross has been seen as the centre of London. It is the primary of the central datum points for measuring distances from London along with the London Stone, Hicks Hall and the doors of St Mary-le-Bow church.

By the 17th century, bills of exchange were being used for domestic payments in England. Cheques, a type of bill of exchange, then began to evolve. Initially they were called drawn notes, because they enabled a customer to draw on the funds that he or she on account with a banker and required immediate payment.[10] These were handwritten, and one of the earliest known still to be in existence was drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton, scriveners and bankers based in the City of London, and dated 16 February 1659.

In 1717, the Bank of England pioneered the first use of a pre-printed form. These forms were printed on "cheque paper" to prevent fraud, and customers had to attend in person and obtain a numbered form from the cashier. Once written, the cheque was brought back to the bank for settlement.

Until about 1770, an informal exchange of cheques took place between London banks. Clerks of each bank visited all the other banks to exchange cheques, whilst keeping a tally of balances between them until they settled with each other. Daily cheque clearing began around 1770 when the bank clerks met at the Five Bells, a tavern in Lombard Street in the City of London, to exchange all their cheques in one place and settle the balances in cash. See bankers' clearing house for further historical developments.

In 1811, the Commercial Bank of Scotland, it is thought, was the first bank to personalise its customers' cheques, by printing the name of the account holder vertically along the left-hand edge.[11] In 1830 the Bank of England introduced books of 50, 100, and 200 forms and counterparts, bound or stitched. These cheque books became a common format for the distribution of cheques to bank customers.

In the late 19th century, several countries formalised laws regarding cheques. The UK passed the Bills of Exchange Act in 1882, and India passed the Negotiable Instruments Act (NI Act) 1881; which both covered cheques.

In 1931 an attempt was made to simplify the international use of cheques by the Geneva Convention on the Unification of the Law Relating to Cheques. Many European and South American states as well as Japan joined the convention. Some countries, including the U.S. and members of the British Commonwealth, did not participate.

In 1959 a standard for machine-readable characters (MICR) was agreed and patented in the U.S. for use with cheques. This opened the way for the first automated reader/sorting machines for clearing cheques. As automation increased, the following years saw a dramatic change in the way in which cheques were handled and processed. Cheque volumes continued to grow; in the late 20th century, cheques were the most popular non-cash method for making payments, with billions of them processed each year. Most countries saw cheque volumes peak in the late 1980s or early 1990s, after which electronic payment methods became more popular and the use of cheques declined.

Apparently he only kept a small current account with them for convenience when he was in England. The cheques are mostly to self, with an occasional hotel or tailor.”
“Any pass-book?”
A passbook or bankbook is a paper book used to record bank transactions on a deposit account. Depending on the country or the financial institution, it can be of the dimensions of a chequebook or a passport.

Traditionally, a passbook is used for accounts with a low transaction volume, such as a savings account, and this is the term in which Wimsey uses it.
“I think all his important papers are in Paris. He has a flat there, near the river somewhere. We're in communication with the Paris police. He had a room in Albany.
Albany, Piccadilly, London – a Housing Development in the West End of London, initially designed by architect Robert Adam.

I've told them to lock it up till I get there. I thought of running up to town to-morrow.”

“Yes, you'd better. Any pocket-book?”
Men once carried coin purses, and the oldest known purse dates back more than 5000 years, and was worn by a man, Ötzi the Iceman. In early Modern Europe, when women's fashions moved in the direction of using small ornamental purses -- which evolved into handbags -- men's fashions were moving in another direction. Men's trousers replaced men's breeches during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, and pockets were incorporated in the loose, heavy material. This enabled men to continue carrying coins, and then paper currency, in small leather wallets, called pocketbooks.

“Yes; here you are. About £30 in various notes, a wine-merchant's card, and a bill for a pair of riding-breeches.”

“No correspondence?”

“Not a line.”

“No,” said Wimsey, “he was the kind, I imagine, that didn't keep letters. Much too good an instinct of self-preservation.”

“Yes. I asked the servants about his letters, as a matter of fact. They said he got a good number, but never left them about. They couldn't tell me much about the ones he wrote, because all the outgoing letters are dropped into the post-bag, which is carried down to the post-office as it is and opened there, or handed over to the postman when—or if—he calls. The general impression was that he didn't write much. The housemaid said she never found anything to speak of in the waste-paper basket.”

“Well, that's uncommonly helpful. Wait a moment. Here's his fountain-pen. Very handsome—Onoto with complete gold casing.
Onoto was a brand of fountain pen manufactured by De La Rue until 1958. De La Rue had made their name as high quality printers, responsible for the printing of bank notes and postage stamps. They had printed British and Indian stamps since 1865 and had started printing bank notes in 1860. By the first few years of the 20th Century, the directors had recognised that they may not hold on to the UK postage stamp contract and were actively looking for other sources of income. It was not surprising then, that the opportunity to move into the pen manufacturing business was met with such enthusiasm.

Sweetser's pen was openly embraced by Evelyn Andros De La Rue, a Director of the company who himself had recently patented a similar pen. Recognising the opportunity which such an invention would give his company the patent was purchased from Sweetser. At the time, the insertion of ink into fountain pens was undertaken largely with eye-droppers and was, at best, a clumsy and time-consuming affair. By making the ink-filling operation simple, Evelyn De La Rue recognised that his company would have an overwhelming advantage over all other pen manufacturing companies at a time when there was huge growth in the use of fountain pens.

Onoto is still making fountain pens today.

Dear me! entirely empty. Well, I don't know that one can deduce anything from that, exactly. I don't see any pencil about, by the way. I'm inclined to think you're wrong in supposing that he was writing letters.”

“I didn't suppose anything,” said Parker mildly. “I daresay you're right.”

Lord Peter left the dressing-table, looked through the contents of the wardrobe, and turned over the two or three books on the pedestal beside the bed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

“Right ho!” said Parker. “Where would you like to begin?”

Peter considered. “I think we'll start from Cathcart's bedroom,” he said.

The bedroom was of moderate size, with a single window overlooking the front door. The bed was on the right-hand side, the dressing-table before the window. On the left was the fireplace, with an arm-chair before it, and a small writing-table.

“Everything's as it was,” said Parker. “Craikes had that much sense.”

“Yes,” said Lord Peter. “Very well. Gerald says that when he charged Cathcart with bein' a scamp, Cathcart jumped up, nearly knockin' the table over.
Wimsey is downplaying the accusation. But what is a scamp? Origin: 1775–85; obsolete scampto travel about idly or for mischief, perhaps < obsolete Dutch schampento be gone < Old French escamperto decamp.

That's the writin'-table, then, so Cathcart was sittin' in the arm-chair. Yes, he was—and he pushed it back violently and rumpled up the carpet. See! So far, so good. Now what was he doin' there? He wasn't readin', because there's no book about, and we know that he rushed straight out of the room and never came back. Very good. Was he writin'? No; virgin sheet of blottin'-paper——”
Blotting paper is a highly absorbent type of paper or other material, used to absorb an excess of liquid substances (such as ink or oil) from the surface of writing paper or objects. Up until the 1960s or so, in England, hotels and private houses provided their guests with blotting paper, since everyone wrote with fountain-pens which had a tendency to smear if the excess ink were not blotted up.

“He might have been writing in pencil,” suggested Parker.

“That's true, old Kill-Joy, so he might.
The meaning is self evident. The term has been in use since from about 1770–80.

Well, if he was he shoved the paper into his pocket when Gerald came in, because it isn't here; but he didn't, because it wasn't found on his body; so he wasn't writing.”

“Unless he threw the paper away somewhere else,” said Parker. “I haven't been all over the grounds, you know, and at the smallest computation—if we accept the shot heard by Hardraw at 11.50 as the shot—there's an hour and a half unaccounted for.”

“Very well. Let's say there is nothing to show he was writing. Will that do? Well, then——”

Lord Peter drew out a lens and scrutinized the surface of the arm-chair carefully before sitting down in it.

“Nothing helpful there,” he said. “To proceed, Cathcart sat where I am sitting. He wasn't writing; he—you're sure this room hasn't been touched?”


“Then he wasn't smoking.”

“Why not? He might have chucked the stub of a cigar or cigarette into the fire when Denver came in.”

“Not a cigarette,” said Peter, “or we should find traces somewhere—on the floor or in the grate. That light ash blows about so. But a cigar—well, he might have smoked a cigar without leaving a sign, I suppose. But I hope he didn't.”


“Because, old son, I'd rather Gerald's account had some element of truth in it. A nervy man doesn't sit down to the delicate enjoyment of a cigar before bed, and cherish the ash with such scrupulous care. On the other hand, if Freddy's right and Cathcart was feelin' unusually sleek and pleased with life, that's just the sort of thing he would do.”

“Do you think Mr. Arbuthnot would have invented all that, as a matter of fact?” said Parker thoughtfully. “He doesn't strike me that way. He'd have to be imaginative and spiteful to make it up, and I really don't think he's either.”

“I know,” said Lord Peter. “I've known old Freddy all my life, and he wouldn't hurt a fly. Besides, he simply hasn't the wits to make up any sort of a story. But what bothers me is that Gerald most certainly hasn't the wits either to invent that Adelphi drama between him and Cathcart.”
The Adelphi Theatre is a 1500-seat West End theatre, located on the Strand in the City of Westminster. The present building is the fourth on the site. The theatre has specialised in comedy and musical theatre, and today it is a receiving house for a variety of productions, including many musicals. The theatre was Grade II listed for historical preservation on 1 December 1987.

In its early years, the theatre was known for melodrama, called Adelphi Screamers.

“On the other hand,” said Parker, “if we allow for a moment that he shot Cathcart, he had an incentive to invent it. He would be trying to get his head out of the—I mean, when anything important is at stake it's wonderful how it sharpens one's wits. And the story being so far-fetched does rather suggest an unpractised story-teller.”
“True, O King. Well, you've sat on all my discoveries so far. Never mind. My head is bloody but unbowed. Cathcart was sitting here——”
From the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

At the age of 12, Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and at age 17 his leg was amputated just below the knee. Stoicism inspired him to write this poem. Henley led an active life until his death at the age of 53.

Publication history
The poem was written in 1875 in a book called Book of Verses, where it was number four in several poems called Life and Death (Echoes). At the beginning it bore no title. Early printings contained only the dedication To R. T. H. B.—a reference to Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce (1846–1899), a successful Scottish flour merchant and baker who was also a literary patron. The title "Invictus" (Latin for "unconquered") was put in The Oxford Book of English Verse by editor Arthur Quiller-Couch.

“So your brother said.”

“Curse you, I say he was; at least, somebody was; he's left the impression of his sit-me-down-upon on the cushion.”

“That might have been earlier in the day.”

“Rot. They were out all day. You needn't overdo this Sadducee attitude, Charles. I say Cathcart was sitting here, and—hullo! hullo!”
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the 2nd century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society[1] As a whole, the sect fulfilled various political, social and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. The Sadducees are often compared to other contemporaneous sects, including the Pharisees and the Essenes. Their sect is believed to have become extinct sometime after the destruction of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, but it has been speculated that later Karaites may have had some roots or connections with old Sadducee views.

The religious responsibilities of the Sadducees included the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem. Their high social status was reinforced by their priestly responsibilities, as mandated in the Torah. The Priests were responsible for performing sacrifices at the Temple, the primary method of worship in Ancient Israel. This also included presiding over sacrifices on the three festivals of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Their religious beliefs and social status were mutually reinforcing, as the Priesthood often represented the highest class in Judean society. It is important to note that the Sadducees and the priests were not completely synonymous. Cohen points out that “not all priests, high priests, and aristocrats were Sadducees; many were Pharisees, and many were not members of any group at all.” It is widely believed that the Sadducees were descended from the House of Zadok and sought to preserve this priestly line and the authority of the Temple.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

The departure of the church-going element had induced a more humanitarian atmosphere.
An interesting comment from Dorothy Sayes, who was a devout Christian!
Mrs. Marchbanks stumped off upstairs to tell Mary that Peter had come, and the Colonel lit a large cigar. The Hon. Freddy rose, stretched himself, pulled a leather arm-chair to the fireside, and sat down with his feet on the brass fender, while Parker marched round and poured himself out another cup of coffee.
Brass fender are fire guards around fireplaces, to prevent logs from rolling off onto the floor.

“I suppose you've seen the papers,” he said.

“Oh yes, I read up the inquest,” said Lord Peter. “Y'know, if you'll excuse my saying so, I think you rather mucked it between you.”

“It was disgraceful,” said Mr. Murbles, “disgraceful. The Coroner behaved most improperly. He had no business to give such a summing-up. With a jury of ignorant country fellows, what could one expect? And the details that were allowed to come out! If I could have got here earlier——”

“I'm afraid that was partly my fault, Wimsey,” said Parker penitently. “Craikes rather resents me. The Chief Constable at Stapley sent to us over his head, and when the message came through I ran along to the Chief and asked for the job, because I thought if there should be any misconception or difficulty, you see, you'd just as soon I tackled it as anybody else. I had a few little arrangements to make about a forgery I've been looking into, and, what with one thing and another, I didn't get off till the night express. By the time I turned up on Friday, Craikes and the Coroner were already as thick as thieves, had fixed the inquest for that morning—which was ridiculous—and arranged to produce their blessed evidence as dramatically as possible.
The OED defines this as "close in confidence; intimate; familiar" There's a reference to 1833, but that quote calls it a proverb, so it's older.

"The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985) says "thick as thieves" means "intimate, conspiratorially close." And it also refers to an 1833 quote -- from "The Parson's Daughter" by Theodore E. Hook. "She and my wife are thick as thieves, as the proverb goes."

I only had time to skim over the ground (disfigured, I'm sorry to say, by the prints of Craikes and his local ruffians), and really had nothing for the jury.”

“Cheer up,” said Wimsey. “I'm not blaming you. Besides, it all lends excitement to the chase.”

“Fact is,” said the Hon. Freddy, “that we ain't popular with respectable Coroners. Giddy aristocrats and immoral Frenchmen.

I say, Peter, sorry you've missed Miss Lydia Cathcart. You'd have loved her. She's gone back to Golders Green and taken the body with her.”
Golders Green is an area in the London Borough of Barnet in London, England. Although having some earlier history, it is essentially a 19th century suburban development situated about 5.3 miles (8.5 km) north west of Charing Cross and centred on the crossroads of Golders Green Road and Finchley Road.

In the early 20th century it grew rapidly in response to the opening here of a tube station of the London Underground, adjacent to the Golders Green Hippodrome - home to the BBC Concert Orchestra for many years. It has a wide variety of housing and a busy main shopping street, Golders Green Road. The area is noted especially for its large Jewish population.

“Oh well,” said Wimsey. “I don't suppose there was anything abstruse about the body.”
“No,” said Parker, “the medical evidence was all right as far as it went. He was shot through the lungs, and that's all.”

“Though, mind you,” said the Hon. Freddy, “he didn't shoot himself. I didn't say anything, not wishin' to upset old Denver's story, but, you know, all that stuff about his bein' so upset and go-to-blazes in his manner was all my whiskers.”
All my whiskers – have yet to find out what this in reference to, probably from Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps Cockney rhyming slang?

“How do you know?” said Peter.

“Why, my dear man, Cathcart 'n I toddled up to bed together. I was rather fed up, havin' dropped a lot on some shares, besides missin' everything I shot at in the mornin', an' lost a bet I made with the Colonel about the number of toes on the kitchen cat, an' I said to Cathcart it was a hell of a damn-fool world, or words to that effect.

'Not a bit of it,' he said; 'it's a damn good world. I'm goin' to ask Mary for a date to-morrow, an' then we'll go and live in Paris, where they understand sex.' I said somethin' or other vague, and he went off whistlin'.”

Parker looked grave. Colonel Marchbanks cleared his throat.

“Well, well,” he said, “there's no accounting for a man like Cathcart, no accounting at all. Brought up in France, you know. Not at all like a straightforward Englishman. Always up and down, up and down! Very sad, poor fellow. Well, well, Peter, hope you and Mr. Parker will find out something about it. We mustn't have poor old Denver cooped up in gaol like this, you know.
[C13: from Old French jaiolecage, from Vulgar Latin caveola(unattested), from Latin caveaenclosure; see cage: the two spellings derive from the forms of the word that developed in two different areas of France, and the spelling gaolrepresents a pronunciation in use until the 17th century]
Awfully unpleasant for him, poor chap, and with the birds so good this year. Well, I expect you'll be making a tour of inspection, eh, Mr. Parker? What do you say to shoving the balls about a bit, Freddy?”

“Right you are,” said the Hon. Freddy; “you'll have to give me a hundred, though, Colonel.”
Typically a superior player – in this case at billiards, will spot an inferior player a certain number of points.

“Nonsense, nonsense,” said that veteran, in high good humor; “you play an excellent game.”

Mr. Murbles having withdrawn, Wimsey and Parker faced each other over the remains of the breakfast.

“Peter,” said the detective, “I don't know if I've done the right thing by coming. If you feel——”

“Look here, old man,” said his friend earnestly, “let's cut out the considerations of delicacy. We're goin' to work this case like any other. If anything unpleasant turns up, I'd rather you saw it than anybody else. It's an uncommonly pretty little case, on its merits, and I'm goin' to put some damn good work into it.”

“If you're sure it's all right——”

“My dear man, if you hadn't been here I'd have sent for you. Now let's get to business. Of course, I'm settin' off with the assumption that old Gerald didn't do it.”

“I'm sure he didn't,” agreed Parker.

“No, no,” said Wimsey, “that isn't your line. Nothing rash about you—nothing trustful. You are expected to throw cold water on my hopes and doubt all my conclusions.”