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.”

No comments:

Post a Comment