“I've come to you,” said Wimsey, “because you can do this combin'-out business a sight better'n an amateur like myself. I suppose your fine organization's hard at work already, what?”
“Naturally,” said the Superintendent, “but it's not altogether easy to trace a motor-cycle without knowing the number. Look at the Bournemouth Murder.”
Bournemouth (pronounced Burnmuth) is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth. With Poole and Christchurch, Bournemouth forms the South East Dorset conurbation, which has a total population of approximately 400,000.
Founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell, Bournemouth's growth accelerated with the arrival of the railway, becoming a recognised town in 1870. Historically part of Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974. Since 1997 the town has been administered by a unitary authority, meaning that it has autonomy from Dorset County Council. The local authority is Bournemouth Borough Council.
Bournemouth's location on the south coast of England has made it a popular destination for tourists. The town is a regional centre of business, home of the Bournemouth International Centre and financial companies that include Liverpool Victoria and PruHealth.
He shook his head regretfully and accepted a Villar y Villar.
Handcrafted in Esteli, Nicaragua, the Villar y Villar is a classic medium-bodied blend comprised of tobaccos from three nations and wrapped in a Colorado Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper. It is a solid, no-nonsense cigar, packed with flavor and very fairly priced. (It is still made today.)
“We didn't think at first of connecting him with the number-plate business,” the Superintendent went on in a careless tone which somehow conveyed to Lord Peter that his own remarks within the last half-hour had established the connection in the official mind for the first time. “Of course, if he'd been seen going through Ripley without a number-plate he'd have been noticed and stopped, whereas with Mr. Foulis's he was as safe as—as the Bank of England,” he concluded in a burst of originality.
“Obviously,” said Wimsey. “Very agitatin' for the parson, poor chap. So early in the mornin', too. I suppose it was just taken to be a practical joke?”
“Just that,” agreed the Superintendent, “but, after hearing what you have to tell us, we shall use our best efforts to get the man. I expect his grace won't be any too sorry to hear he's found. You may rely on us, and if we find the man or the number-plates——”
“Lord bless us and save us, man,” broke in Lord Peter with unexpected vivacity, “you're not goin' to waste your time lookin' for the number-plates.
This is a phrase that many characters in many stories use, I can’t find an actual Biblical passage that says it.
What d'you s'pose he'd pinch the curate's plates for if he wanted to advertise his own about the neighbourhood? Once you drop on them you've got his name and address; s'long as they're in his trousers pocket you're up a gum-tree.
“Up a gum tree” is an Australian colloquism. It’s meaning is self-evident, but nowhere on the web was I able to find the origin of it. (The meaning of most colloquisms are self-evident, I would have thought. What people want to know is not what they mean, but how they originated!
Now, forgive me, Superintendent, for shovin' along with my opinion, but I simply can't bear to think of you takin' all that trouble for nothin'—draggin' ponds an' turnin' over rubbish-heaps to look for number-plates that ain't there. You just scour the railway stations for a young man six foot one or two with a No. 10 shoe, and dressed in a Burberry that's lost its belt, and with a deep scratch on one of his hands. And look here, here's my address, and I'll be very grateful if you'll let me know anything that turns up. So awkward for my brother, y'know, all this. Sensitive man; feels it keenly. By the way, I'm a very uncertain bird—always hoppin' about; you might wire me any news in duplicate, to Riddlesdale and to town—110 Piccadilly. Always delighted to see you, by the way, if ever you're in town. You'll forgive me slopin' off now, won't you? I've got a lot to do.”