Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Clouds of Witnss ch 4 cont

“Well, it may clear up presently. He didn't have a confederate to give him a back or a leg, I suppose?”
By this Peter means someone who would kneel down so that No. 10 could step on his back. By a leg, he means, “a leg up,” holding out two hands with fingers interlaced like a stirrup. No. 10 would put his foot in the stirrup and the confederate would lift while No. 10 would jump, enabling him to get onto the wall.

“Not unless the confederate was a being without feet or any visible means of support,” said Lord Peter, indicating the solitary print of a pair of patched 10's. “By the way, how did he make straight in the dark for the place where the spikes were missing? Looks as though he belonged to the neighborhood, or had reconnoitred previously.”
A term used mainly in Britain, from the French: [C18: from obsolete French reconnoître to inspect, explore; see recognize ]. Americans normally call it recon (as in a recon or reconnaissance platoon, in the military.)
“Arising out of that reply,” said Parker, “I will now relate to you the entertaining 'gossip' I have had with Mrs. Hardraw.”

“Humph!” said Wimsey at the end of it. “That's interesting. We'd better make inquiries at Riddlesdale and King's Fenton. Meanwhile we know where No. 10 came from; now where did he go after leaving Cathcart's body by the well?”

“The footsteps went into the preserve,” said Parker. “I lost them there. There is a regular carpet of dead leaves and bracken.”

“Well, but we needn't go through all that sleuth grind again,” objected his friend. “The fellow went in, and, as he presumably is not there still, he came out again. He didn't come out through the gate or Hardraw would have seen him; he didn't come out the same way he went in or he would have left some traces. Therefore he came out elsewhere. Let's walk round the wall.”

“Then we'll turn to the left,” said Parker, “since that's the side of the preserve, and he apparently went through there.”

“True, O King! and as this isn't a church, there's no harm in going round it widdershins. Talking of church, there's Helen coming back. Get a move on, old thing.”
Widdershins (sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun, to go anticlockwise or lefthandwise, or to circle an object by always keeping it on the left.[1] The Oxford English Dictionary's entry cites the earliest uses of the word from 1513, where it was found in the phrase widdersyns start my hair, i.e. my hair stood on end.

The use of the word also means "in a direction opposite to the usual", and in a direction contrary to the apparent course of the sun. It is cognate with the German language widersinnig, i.e., "against" + "sense". The term "widdershins" was especially common in Lowland Scots.

It was considered unlucky in former times in Britain to travel in an anticlockwise (anti sun wise) direction around a church, and a number of folk myths make reference to this superstition, e.g. Childe Rowland, where the protagonist and his sister are transported to Elfland after his sister runs widdershins round a church. There is also a reference to this in Dorothy Sayers's novels The Nine Tailors (chapter entitled The Second Course; "He turned to his right, knowing that it is unlucky to walk about a church widdershins, ...") and Clouds of Witness ("True, O King, and as this isn't a church, there's no harm in going round it widdershins").

They crossed the drive, passed the cottage, and then, leaving the road, followed the paling across some open grass fields. It was not long before they found what they sought. From one of the iron spikes above them dangled forlornly a strip of material. With Parker's assistance Wimsey scrambled up in a state of almost lyric excitement.
Lyric excitement means Peter could write a poem about his discovery.

“Here we are,” he cried. “The belt of a Burberry! No sort of precaution here. Here are the toe-prints of a fellow sprinting for his life. He tore off his Burberry! he made desperate leaps—one, two, three—at the palings. At the third leap he hooked it on to the spikes. He scrambled up, scoring long, scrabbling marks on the paling. He reached the top. Oh, here's a bloodstain run into this crack. He tore his hands. He dropped off. He wrenched the coat away, leaving the belt dangling——”

“I wish you'd drop off,” grumbled Parker. “You're breaking my collar-bone.”

Lord Peter dropped off obediently, and stood there holding the belt between his fingers. His narrow grey eyes wandered restlessly over the field. Suddenly he seized Parker's arm and marched briskly in the direction of the wall on the farther side—a low erection of unmortared stone in the fashion of the country.
Mortar is a workable paste used to bind construction blocks together and fill the gaps between them. The blocks may be stone, brick, cinder blocks, etc. Mortar becomes hard when it sets, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure. Modern mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder such as cement or lime, and water. Mortar can also be used to fix, or point, masonry when the original mortar has washed away.

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