Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Clouds of Witness cont

“Pity they didn't extend their labors all down the path while they were about it,” grunted Lord Peter, who was balancing himself precariously on a small piece of sacking. “Well, that bears out old Gerald so far. Here's an elephant been over this bit of box border. Who's that?”

“Oh, that's a constable. I put him at eighteen stone.
The stone (abbreviation st) is a units of measurement that was used in many North European countries until the advent of metrication. Its value, which ranged from 3 kg to 12 kg, varied from city to city and also often from commodity to commodity. In the United Kingdom its value is normally taken as being equal to 14 avoirdupois pounds (6.35kg), though prior to the Second World War it had other values, depending on its use. The stone is in common use in the United Kingdom and Ireland for measuring personal body weight, although it no longer has a legal status in either country other than as a supplementary measure.

He's nothing. And this rubber sole with a patch on it is Craikes. He's all over the place. This squelchy-looking thing is Mr. Arbuthnot in bedroom slippers, and the galoshes are Mr. Pettigrew-Robinson.
Galoshes (from French: galoches), also known as boat shoes, dickersons, or overshoes, are a type of rubber boot that is slipped over shoes to keep them from getting muddy or wet. The word galoshes might be used interchangeably with boot, especially a rubberized boot. Properly speaking, however, galoshes are synonymous with rain boots often reaching heights just below the knee.

We can dismiss all those. But now here, just coming over the threshold, is a woman's foot in a strong shoe. I make that out to be Lady Mary's. Here it is again, just at the edge of the well. She came out to examine the body.”

“Quite so,” said Peter; “and then she came in again, with a few grains of red gravel on her shoes. Well, that's all right. Hullo!”
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule (>2 to 4 mm or 0.079 to 0.16 in) and cobble (>64 to 256 mm or 2.5 to 10.1 in). One cubic yard of gravel typically weighs about 3000 pounds (or a cubic metre is about 1,800 kilograms).

Gravel is an important commercial product, with a number of applications. Many roadways are surfaced with gravel, especially in rural areas where there is little traffic. Globally, far more roads are surfaced with gravel than with concrete or tarmac; Russia alone has over 400,000 km (250,000 mi) of gravel-surfaced roads.[citation needed] Both sand and small gravel are also important for the manufacture of concrete.

On the outer side of the conservatory were some shelves for small plants, and, beneath these, a damp and dismal bed of earth, occupied, in a sprawling and lackadaisical fashion, by stringy cactus plants and a sporadic growth of maidenhair fern, and masked by a row of large chrysanthemums in pots.
Adiantum the maidenhair ferns, is a genus of about 200 species of ferns in the family Pteridaceae, though some researchers place it in its own family, Adiantaceae. The genus name comes from Greek, meaning "not wetting", referring to the fronds' ability to shed water without becoming wet.

Chrysanthemums, often called mums or chrysanths, are of the genus (Chrysanthemum) constituting approximately 30 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Asteraceae which is native to Asia and northeastern Europe.

“What've you got?” inquired Parker, seeing his friend peering into this green retreat.

Lord Peter withdrew his long nose from between two pots and said: “Who put what down here?”

Parker hastened to the place. There, among the cacti, was certainly the clear mark of some oblong object, with corners, that had been stood out of sight on the earth behind the pots.

“It's a good thing Gerald's gardener ain't one of those conscientious blighters that can't even let a cactus alone for the winter,” said Lord Peter, “or he'd've tenderly lifted these little drooping heads—oh! damn and blast the beastly plant for a crimson porcupine! You measure it.”

Parker measured it.

“Two and a half feet by six inches,” he said. “And fairly heavy, for it's sunk in and broken the plants about. Was it a bar of anything?”

“I fancy not,” said Lord Peter. “The impression is deeper on the farther side. I think it was something bulky set up on edge, and leaned against the glass. If you ask for my private opinion I should guess that it was a suit-case.”
Originally, suitcases were made of wool or linen. Leather also became a popular material for suitcases. It was used to cover wood suitcases or just on its own for collapsible suitcases. It is difficult to document all the materials suitcases have been made out of. Like all produced consumer goods the materials chosen to construct suitcases are truly a product of their time. Wool, wood, leather, metal, plastic, fiber composite even recycled materials are all common suitcase materials. During covered wagon times trunks were a popular form of transporting goods. The ride was rough, so the luggage had to be strong. The theme of suitcases becoming less cumbersome over time could be directly related to the advancement of better transportation.

“A suit-case!” exclaimed Parker. “Why a suit-case?”

“Why indeed? I think we may assume that it didn't stay here very long. It would have been exceedingly visible in the daytime. But somebody might very well have shoved it in here if they were caught with it—say at three o'clock in the morning—and didn't want it to be seen.”

“Then when did they take it away?”

“Almost immediately, I should say. Before daylight, anyhow, or even Inspector Craikes could hardly have failed to see it.”

“It's not the doctor's bag, I suppose?”

“No—unless the doctor's a fool. Why put a bag inconveniently in a damp and dirty place out of the way when every law of sense and convenience would urge him to pop it down handy by the body? No. Unless Craikes or the gardener has been leaving things about, it was thrust away there on Wednesday night by Gerald, by Cathcart—or, I suppose, by Mary. Nobody else could be supposed to have anything to hide.”

“Yes,” said Parker, “one person.”

“Who's that?”

“The Person Unknown.”
“Who's he?”

For answer Mr. Parker proudly stepped to a row of wooden frames, carefully covered with matting. Stripping this away, with the air of a bishop unveiling a memorial, he disclosed a V-shaped line of footprints.

“These,” said Parker, “belong to nobody—to nobody I've ever seen or heard of, I mean.”

“Hurray!” said Peter.

“Then downwards from the steep hill's edge
They tracked the footmarks small
(only they're largish).”
This is from the poem “Lucy Gay” by Wordsworth
Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray,
And when I cross'd the Wild,
I chanc'd to see at break of day
The solitary Child.
No Mate, no comrade Lucy knew:
She dwelt on a wide Moor,
--The sweetest thing that ever grew
Beside a human door!
You yet may spy the Fawn at play,
The Hare upon the Green;
But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
Will never more be seen.
"To-night will be a stormy night--
You to the Town must go,
And take a lantern, Child, to light
Your mother through the snow."
"That, Father! will I gladly do,
'Tis scarcely afternoon--
The Minster-clock has just struck two,
And yonder is the Moon"
At this the Father rais'd his hook
And snapped a faggot-band;
He plied his work, and Lucy took
The lantern in her hand.
Not blither is the mountain roe,
With many a wanton stroke
Her feet disperse the powdery snow
That rises up like smoke.
The storm came on before its time:
She wandered up and down;
And many a hill did Lucy climb;
But never reach'd the Town.
The wretched Parents all that night
Went shouting far and wide;
But there was neither sound nor sight
To serve them for a guide.
At day-break on a hill they stood
That overlooked the Moor;
And thence they saw the Bridge of wood,
A furlong from their door.
And, turning homeward, now they cried
"In Heaven we all shall meet;"
When in the snow the Mother spied
The print of Lucy's feet.
Then downward from the steep hill's edge
They track'd the footmarks small;
And through the broken hawthorn-hedge,
And by the long stone-wall:
And then an open field they crossed,
The marks were still the same;
They tracked them on, nor ever lost,
And to the Bridge they came.
They followed from the snowy bank
Those footmarks, one by one,
Into the middle of the plank;
And further there were none!
--Yet some maintain that to this day
She is a living Child,
That you may see sweet Lucy Gray
Upon the lonesome Wild.
O'er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;
And sings a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future

Sorry for the dearth of posts recently...I've been working on a project, wanted to devote all my time to it, and kept telling myself...it'll be done today so I can get back to blogging here tomorrow.

The next day it was... okay, it's definitely going to get done today....

Well, today it is done... so back to posting here on a daily basis tomorrow. (With the first post appearing tomorrow afternoon while I'm watching football!)

Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: The Attenbury Emeralds

From Worldmag.com Review: The Attenbury Emeralds
Review by Mary Daoud
In the 1930s, Christian apologist and intellectual Dorothy L. Sayers wrote the Lord Peter Wimsey murder mysteries, the books that would give her enduring fame. They featured a cast of sophisticated characters, including the aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, his detective novelist wife Harriet Vane, and his manservant and fellow ex-soldier Bunter.

With permission from Sayers’ literary estate, respected novelist Jill Paton Walsh took up Sayers’s unfinished final manuscript and completed it to much acclaim. The Attenbury Emeralds (Minotaur Books, 2011) is the third book featuring Sayers’ characters that Walsh has written.

The book, set in the years after World War II, begins with Peter recounting to his wife the history of his first case, solved 30 years prior. As he concludes his narrative, the current owner of the Attenbury emeralds knocks on the door, disheveled and upset, seeking Peter’s help with a new development in the emeralds’ history. Lord Peter and Harriet take on the case.

Unfortunately, much of Walsh’s earlier skill with Sayers’ characters is gone. The narrative is riddled with problems: clunky, indelicate writing; a didactic Harriet acting as foil to Peter; and a number of confusing mysteries and unnecessary tragedies. Worse, the quotations that made Sayers’s prose spring to life are stale and familiar. There is nothing new here.

Still, if you come to the book without preconceived notions, and understand that Walsh is borrowing Lord Peter and his crew to write her own story, the book could be an enjoyable, even witty read, full of amusing characters and a complex plot. But it certainly is not vintage Dorothy Sayers.