Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Clouds of Witness, ch 5 cont

They went back and turned to the January volume, where they found no help. But on February 6th they read:

Peigne en écaille et diamants f.7,500
Chat en diamants (Dessin C-5) f.5,000

                “That settles it,” said Parker gloomily.

                “Monsieur does not appear content,” suggested the jeweller.

                “Monsieur,” said Parker, “I am more grateful than I can say for your very great kindness, but I will frankly confess that, of all the twelve months in the year, I had rather it had been any other.”

                Parker found this whole episode so annoying to his feelings that he bought two comic papers and, carrying them away to Boudet's at the corner of the Rue Auguste Léopold, read them solemnly through over his dinner, by way of settling his mind.
A café presumably named after Jean Boudet, who fought during the Napoleonic wars.
                Then, returning to his modest hotel, he ordered a drink and sat down to compose a letter to Lord Peter. It was a slow job, and he did not appear to relish it very much. His concluding paragraph was as follows:

                “I have put all these things down for you without any comment. You will be able to draw your own inferences as well as I can—better, I hope, for my own are perplexing and worrying me no end. They may be all rubbish—I hope they are; I daresay something will turn up at your end to put quite a different interpretation upon the facts. But I do feel that they must be cleared up. I would offer to hand over the job, but another man might jump at conclusions even faster than I do, and make a mess of it. But of course, if you say so, I will be taken suddenly ill at any moment. Let me know. If you think I'd better go on grubbing about over here, can you get hold of a photograph of Lady Mary Wimsey, and find out if possible about the diamond comb and the green-eyed cat—also at exactly what date Lady Mary was in Paris in February. Does she speak French as well as you do? Let me know how you are getting on.

 “Yours ever,             
“Charles Parker.”

                He re-read the letter and report carefully and sealed them up. Then he wrote to his sister, did up his parcel neatly, and rang for the valet de chambre.

                “I want this letter sent off at once, registered,” he said, “and the parcel is to go to-morrow as a colis postal.”
1) parcel, 2) postal package (Parcel Post)
After which he went to bed, and read himself to sleep with a commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.

The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his role as mediator between God and humanity.

The epistle opens with an exaltation of Jesus as "the radiance of God's glory, the express image of his being, and upholding all things by his powerful word."[1:3] The epistle presents Jesus with the titles "pioneer" or "forerunner," "Son" and "Son of God," "priest" and "high priest." It has been described as an "intricate" New Testament book.

The epistle casts Jesus as both exalted Son and high priest, a unique dual Christology. Scholars argue over where Hebrews fits in the 1st century world. Despite numerous publications on this epistle, scholarly discussion has failed to yield a definitive consensus on most issues. One author says conclusions on most questions, including the one concerning authorship, should be avoided· · · · · · · · · ·
Lord Peter's reply arrived by return:

“Dear Charles,—Don't worry. I don't like the look of things myself frightfully, but I'd rather you tackled the business than anyone else. As you say, the ordinary police bloke doesn't mind whom he arrests, provided he arrests someone, and is altogether a most damnable fellow to have poking into one's affairs. I'm putting my mind to getting my brother cleared—that is the first consideration, after all, and really anything else would be better than having Jerry hanged for a crime he didn't commit. Whoever did it, it's better the right person should suffer than the wrong. So go ahead.

                “I enclose two photographs—all I can lay hands on for the moment. The one in nursing-kit is rather rotten, and the other's all smothered up in a big hat.

                “I had a damn' queer little adventure here on Wednesday, which I'll tell you about when we meet. I've found a woman who obviously knows more than she ought, and a most promising ruffian—only I'm afraid he's got an alibi. Also I've got a faint suggestion of a clue about No. 10. Nothing much happened at Northallerton, except that Jerry was of course committed for trial. My mother is here, thank God! and I'm hoping she'll get some sense out of Mary, but she's been worse the last two days—Mary, I mean, not my mother—beastly sick and all that sort of thing. Dr. Thingummy—who is an ass—can't make it out. Mother says it's as clear as noonday, and she'll stop it if I have patience a day or two. I made her ask about the comb and the cat. M. denies the cat altogether, but admits to a diamond comb bought in Paris—says she bought it herself. It's in town—I'll get it and send it on. She says she can't remember where she bought it, has lost the bill, but it didn't cost anything like 7,500 francs. She was in Paris from February 2nd to February 20th. My chief business now is to see Lubbock and clear up a little matter concerning silver sand.

                “The Assizes will be the first week in November—in fact, the end of next week. This rushes things a bit, but it doesn't matter, because they can't try him there; nothing will matter but the Grand Jury, who are bound to find a true bill on the face of it.
A “true bill” is a “bill of indictment.”
                After that we can hang matters up as long as we like. It's going to be a deuce of a business. Parliament sitting and all.
Old Biggs is fearfully perturbed under that marble outside of his. I hadn't really grasped what a fuss it was to try peers. It's only happened about once in every sixty years, and the procedure's about as old as Queen Elizabeth. They have to appoint a Lord High Steward for the occasion, and God knows what. They have to make it frightfully clear in the Commission that it is only for the occasion, because, somewhere about Richard III's time, the L.H.S. was such a terrifically big pot that he got to ruling the roost.
The position of Lord High Steward of England is the first of the Great Officers of State. The office has generally remained vacant since 1421, except at coronations and during the trials of peers in the House of Lords, when the Lord High Steward presides. In general, but not invariably, the Lord Chancellor was appointed to act as Lord High Steward in the latter situation. The trial of peers by their peers in the House of Lords was abolished in 1948, although trials on impeachment have not been abolished (though long obsolete). There was a "Court of the Lord High Steward" which served this purpose when Parliament was not in session.

Although initially the position was largely an honorary one, over time it grew in importance until its holder became one of the most powerful men of the kingdom. From the late 12th century, the office was considered to be bound with the Earldom of Leicester. When the House of Lancaster ascended the throne in 1399, Henry IV made his second son, Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence, Lord High Steward. He held the post until his death in 1421.

The Lord High Steward of Ireland in contrast is a hereditary title, also known as the Hereditary Great Seneschal, vested in the Earl of Shrewsbury, Waterford and Talbot, who is the Premier Earl of Ireland, Chetwynd-Talbot.
                So when Henry IV came to the throne, and the office came into the hands of the Crown, he jolly well kept it there, and now they only appoint a man pro tem. for the Coronation and shows like Jerry's.
Latin for “temporary”
                 The King always pretends not to know there isn't a L.H.S. till the time comes, and is no end surprised at having to think of somebody to take on the job. Did you know all this? I didn't. I got it out of Biggy.

                “Cheer up. Pretend you don't know that any of these people are relations of mine. My mother sends you her kindest regards and what not, and hopes she'll see you again soon. Bunter sends something correct and respectful; I forget what.

                “Yours in the brotherhood of detection,

“P. W.”

It may as well be said at once that the evidence from the photographs was wholly inconclusive.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 5 cont

                The young lady had been charmingly sympathetic, and, without actually insinuating anything, had contrived to make her customer feel just a little bit of a dog. He felt that his French accent was improving. The street was crowded with people, slowly sauntering past the brilliant shop windows. Mr. Parker stopped and gazed nonchalantly over a gorgeous display of jewelery, as though hesitating between a pearl necklace valued at 80,000 francs and a pendant of diamonds and aquamarines set in platinum.

                And there, balefully winking at him from under a label inscribed “Bonne fortune” hung a green-eyed cat.

                The cat stared at Mr. Parker, and Mr. Parker stared at the cat. It was no ordinary cat. It was a cat with a personality. Its tiny arched body sparkled with diamonds, and its platinum paws, set close together, and its erect and glittering tail were instinct in every line with the sensuous delight of friction against some beloved object. Its head, cocked slightly to one side, seemed to demand a titillating finger under the jaw. It was a minute work of art, by no journeyman hand. Mr. Parker fished in his pocket-book. He looked from the cat in his hand to the cat in the window. They were alike. They were astonishingly alike. They were identical. Mr. Parker marched into the shop.

                “I have here,” said Mr. Parker to the young man at the counter, “a diamond cat which greatly resembles one which I perceive in your window. Could you have the obligingness to inform me what would be the value of such a cat?”

                The young man replied instantly:

                “But certainly, monsieur. The price of the cat is 5,000 francs. It is, as you perceive, made of the finest materials. Moreover, it is the work of an artist; it is worth more than the market value of the stones.”
                “It is, I suppose, a mascot?”

                “Yes, monsieur; it brings great good luck, especially at cards. Many ladies buy these little objects. We have here other mascots, but all of this special design are of similar quality and price. Monsieur may rest assured that his cat is a cat of pedigree.”
The clerk is making a play on words. Pedigree is usually used for animals and humans. She's using it to refer to a piece of jewelry.
In England and Wales pedigrees are officially recorded in the College of Arms, which has records going back to the Middle Ages, including pedigrees collected during roving inquiries by its heralds during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The purpose of these heraldic visitations was to register and regulate the use of coats of arms. Those who claimed the right to bear arms had to provide proof either of a grant of arms to them by the College, or of descent from an ancestor entitled to arms. It was for this reason that pedigrees were recorded by the visitations. Pedigrees continue to be registered at the College of Arms and kept up to date on a voluntary basis but they are not accessible to the general public without payment of a fee.

More visible, therefore, are the pedigrees recorded in published works, such as Burke's Peerage and Burke's Landed Gentry in the United Kingdom and, in continental Europe by the Almanach de Gotha.  
 “I suppose that such cats are everywhere obtainable in Paris,” said Mr. Parker nonchalantly.

                “But no, monsieur. If you desire to match your cat I recommend you to do it quickly. Monsieur Briquet had only a score of these cats to begin with, and there are now only three left, including the one in the window. I believe that he will not make any more. To repeat a thing often is to vulgarize it. There will, of course, be other cats——”

                “I don't want another cat,” said Mr. Parker, suddenly interested. “Do I understand you to say that cats such as this are only sold by Monsieur Briquet? That my cat originally came from this shop?”
                “Undoubtedly, monsieur, it is one of our cats. These little animals are made by a workman of ours—a genius who is responsible for many of our finest articles.”

                “It would, I imagine, be impossible to find out to whom this cat was originally sold?”

                “If it was sold over the counter for cash it would be difficult, but if it was entered in our books it might not be impossible to discover, if monsieur desired it.”

                “I do desire it very much,” said Parker, producing his card. “I am an agent of the British police, and it is of great importance that I should know to whom this cat originally belonged.”

                “In that case,” said the young man, “I shall do better to inform monsieur the proprietor.”
                He carried away the card into the back premises, and presently emerged with a stout gentleman, whom he introduced as Monsieur Briquet.

                In Monsieur Briquet's private office the books of the establishment were brought out and laid on the desk.
                “You will understand, monsieur,” said Monsieur Briquet, “that I can only inform you of the names and addresses of such purchasers of these cats as have had an account sent them. It is, however, unlikely that an object of such value was paid for in cash. Still, with rich Anglo-Saxons, such an incident may occur.
                 We need not go back further than the beginning of the year, when these cats were made.” He ran a podgy finger down the pages of the ledger. “The first purchase was on January 19th.”

                Mr. Parker noted various names and addresses, and at the end of half an hour Monsieur Briquet said in a final manner:

                “That is all, monsieur. How many names have you there?”

                “Thirteen,” said Parker.

                “And there are still three cats in stock—the original number was twenty—so that four must have been sold for cash. If monsieur wishes to verify the matter we can consult the day-book.”
In the 1920s, there were no computers and cash registers were expensive. Shops such as this would write down each purchase, with one page a day.
                The search in the day-book was longer and more tiresome, but eventually four cats were duly found to have been sold; one on January 31st, another on February 6th, the third on May 17th, and the last on August 9th.

                Mr. Parker had risen, and embarked upon a long string of compliments and thanks, when a sudden association of ideas and dates prompted him to hand Cathcart's photograph to Monsieur Briquet and ask whether he recognized it.

                Monsieur Briquet shook his head.

                “I am sure he is not one of our regular customers,” he said, “and I have a very good memory for faces. I make a point of knowing anyone who has any considerable account with me. And this gentleman has not everybody's face. But we will ask my assistants.”

                The majority of the staff failed to recognize the photograph, and Parker was on the point of putting it back in his pocket-book when a young lady, who had just finished selling an engagement ring to an obese and elderly Jew, arrived, and said, without any hesitation:

                “Mais oui, je l'ai vu, ce monsieur-là. It is the Englishman who bought a diamond cat for the jolie blonde.”

                “Mademoiselle,” said Parker eagerly, “I beseech you to do me the favour to remember all about it.”

                “Parfaitement,” said she. “It is not the face one would forget, especially when one is a woman. The gentleman bought a diamond cat and paid for it—no, I am wrong. It was the lady who bought it, and I remember now to have been surprised that she should pay like that at once in money, because ladies do not usually carry such large sums. The gentleman bought too. He bought a diamond and tortoiseshell comb for the lady to wear, and then she said she must give him something pour porter bonheur, and asked me for a mascot that was good for cards. I showed her some jewels more suitable for a gentleman, but she saw these cats and fell in love with them, and said he should have a cat and nothing else; she was sure it would bring him good hands. She asked me if it was not so, and I said, 'Undoubtedly, and monsieur must be sure never to play without it,' and he laughed very much, and promised always to have it upon him when he was playing.”
                “And how was she, this lady?”

                “Blonde, monsieur, and very pretty; rather tall and svelte, and very well dressed. A big hat and dark blue costume. Quoi encore? Voyons—yes, she was a foreigner.”


                “I do not know. She spoke French very, very well, almost like a French person, but she had just the little suspicion of accent.”

                “What language did she speak with the gentleman?”

                “French, monsieur. You see, we were speaking together, and they both appealed to me continually, and so all the talk was in French. The gentleman spoke French à merveille, it was only by his clothes and a je ne sais quoi in his appearance that I guessed he was English. The lady spoke equally fluently, but one remarked just the accent from time to time. Of course, I went away from them once or twice to get goods from the window, and they talked then; I do not know in what language.”

                “Now, mademoiselle, can you tell me how long ago this was?”

                “Ah, mon Dieu, ça c'est plus difficile. Monsieur sait que les jours se suivent et se ressemblent. Voyons.”

                “We can see by the day-book,” put in Monsieur Briquet, “on what occasion a diamond comb was sold with a diamond cat.”

                “Of course,” said Parker hastily. “Let us go back.”

Friday, July 27, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 5 cont

Surmises and surmises, each uglier than the last, thronged into Parker's mind. He took up a photograph of Cathcart with which Wimsey had supplied him, and looked at it long and curiously. It was a dark, handsome face; the hair was black, with a slight wave, the nose large and well shaped, the big, dark eyes at once pleasing and arrogant. The mouth was good, though a little thick, with a hint of sensuality in its close curves; the chin showed a cleft. Frankly, Parker confessed to himself, it did not attract him; he would have been inclined to dismiss the man as a “Byronic blighter,” but experience told him that this kind of face might be powerful with a woman, either for love or hatred.
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among Byron's best-known works are the brief poems "She Walks in Beauty", "When We Two Parted", and "So, we'll go no more a roving", in addition to the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.

He travelled to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero.] He died at 36 years old from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi in Greece.

Byron was celebrated in life for aristocratic excesses including huge debts, numerous love affairs, rumours of a scandalous incestuous liaison with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile. It has been speculated that he suffered from bipolar I disorder, or manic depression.
                Coincidences usually have the air of being practical jokes on the part of Providence. Mr. Parker was shortly to be favored—if the term is a suitable one—with a special display of this Olympian humor.
The Greek gods were notorious for playing games with humans
                As a rule, that kind of thing did not happen to him; it was more in Wimsey's line. Parker had made his way from modest beginnings to a respectable appointment in the C.I.D. rather by a combination of hard work, shrewdness, and caution than by spectacular displays of happy guess-work or any knack for taking fortune's tide at the flood.
a line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in a speech by Brutus in Act IV: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune...".        
 This time, however, he was given a “leading” from above, and it was only part of the nature of things and men that he should have felt distinctly ungrateful for it.
                He finished his report, replaced everything tidily in the desk and went round to the police-station to arrange with the Prefect about the keys and the fixing of the seals.
The seals placed on the doors to ensure that no one goes in.
                It was still early evening and not too cold; he determined, therefore, to banish gloomy thoughts by a café-cognac in the Boul' Mich', followed by a stroll through the Paris of the shops.
The Boulevard Saint-Michel is one of the two major streets in the Latin Quarter of Paris (the other being the Boulevard Saint-Germain). It is a tree-lined boulevard which runs south from the pont Saint-Michel on the Seine river and the Place Saint-Michel, crosses the boulevard Saint-Germain and continues alongside the Sorbonne and the Luxembourg gardens, ending at the Place Camille Jullian just before the Port-Royal train station and the avenue de l'Observatoire. It was created by Baron Haussmann to run parallel to the rue Saint-Jacques which marks the historical north-south axis of Paris.

The boulevard serves as a boundary between the 5th and 6th arrondissements of Paris; odd-numbered buildings on the eastern side are in the 5th arrondissement and even numbers on the western side are in the 6th. It has a length of 1380 m, an average width of 30 m and takes its name from the pont Saint-Michel. In slang, the boulevard is sometimes referred to as the Boul'Mich.

As the central axis of the Latin Quarter, it has long been a hotbed of student life and activism, but tourism is also a major commercial focus of the street and designer shops have gradually replaced many small bookshops. The northern part of the boulevard is now the most frequented, due to its bookstores (such as Gibert Joseph and the Gibert Jeune), cafés, cinema and clothes shops......

The main buildings of the boulevard are the Musée de Cluny, the lycée Saint-Louis, the École des Mines, and the cité universitaire, the university area of the Sorbonne.
                Being of a kindly, domestic nature, indeed, he turned over in his mind the idea of buying something Parisian for his elder sister, who was unmarried and lived a rather depressing life in Barrow-in-Furness. Parker knew that she would take pathetic delight in some filmy scrap of lace underwear which no one but herself would ever see. Mr. Parker was not the kind of man to be deterred by the difficulty of buying ladies' underwear in a foreign language; he was not very imaginative. He remembered that a learned judge had one day asked in court what a camisole was, and recollected that there had seemed to be nothing particularly embarrassing about the garment when explained.
A camisole is a sleeveless undergarment for women, normally extending to the waist. The camisole is usually made of satin, nylon, or cotton.

Historical definition
Historically, camisole referred to jackets of various kinds, including overshirts (worn under a doublet or bodice), women's négligées and sleeved jackets worn by men  
 He determined that he would find a really Parisian shop, and ask for a camisole. That would give him a start, and then mademoiselle would show him other things without being asked further.
                Accordingly, towards six o'clock, he was strolling along the Rue de la Paix with a little carton under his arm.
                He had spent rather more money than he intended, but he had acquired knowledge. He knew for certain what a camisole was, and he had grasped for the first time in his life that crêpe-de-Chine had no recognisable relation to crape, and was astonishingly expensive for its bulk.
Crape or crepe (Anglicized versions of the Fr. crêpe) is a silk, wool, or polyester fabric of a gauzy texture, having a peculiar crisp or crimpy appearance. (The word crape is also used as an Anglicized spelling of crêpe (pancake).)

Silk crape is woven of hard spun silk yarn in the gum or natural condition. There are two distinct varieties of the textile: soft, Canton, or Oriental crape, and hard or crisped crape. Thin crêpe is called crêpe de Chine ("Chinese crêpe").

The wavy appearance of Canton crape results from the peculiar manner in which the weft is prepared, the yarn from two bobbins being twisted together in the reverse way. The fabric when woven is smooth and even, having no crape appearance, but when the gum is subsequently extracted by boiling, it at once becomes soft, and the weft, losing its twist, gives the fabric the waved structure which constitutes its distinguishing feature. Canton crapes are used, either white or colored, for scarves and shawls, bonnet trimmings, etc.

The crisp and elastic structure of hard crape is not produced either in the spinning or in the weaving, but is due to processes through which the gauze passes after it is woven. In 1911, the details of these processes were known to only a few manufacturers, who so jealously guarded their secrets that, in some cases, the different stages in the manufacture were conducted in towns far removed from each other.Commercially they are distinguished as single, double, three-ply and four-ply crapes, according to the nature of the yarn used in their manufacture. They are almost exclusively dyed black and used in mourning dress.

In Great Britain, hard crapes are made at Braintree in Essex, Norwich, Yarmouth, Manchester and Glasgow. The crape formerly made at Norwich was made with a silk warp and worsted weft and is said to have afterwards degenerated into bombazine[citation needed]. A very successful imitation of real crape is made in Manchester of cotton yarn and sold under the name of Victoria crape.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 5 cont

Subsequently a visit to London coincided with the acquisition of £700, which, converted into francs at the then rate of exchange, made a very respectable item in the account. From that time on, the outgoings and receipts presented a similar aspect and were more or less evenly balanced, the cheques to self becoming rather larger and more frequent as time went on, while during 1921 the income from the vineyard began to show signs of recovery.

                Mr. Parker noted down all this information in detail, and, leaning back in his chair, looked round the flat. He felt, not for the first time, distaste for his profession, which cut him off from the great masculine community whose members take each other for granted and respect privacy. He relighted his pipe, which had gone out, and proceeded with his report.

                Information obtained from Monsieur Turgeot, the manager of the Crédit Lyonnais, confirmed the evidence of the pass-book in every particular. Monsieur Cathcart had recently made all his payments in notes, usually in notes of small denominations. Once or twice he had had an overdraft—never very large, and always made up within a few months. He had, of course, suffered a diminution of income, like everybody else, but the account had never given the bank any uneasiness. At the moment it was some 14,000 francs on the right side. Monsieur Cathcart was always very agreeable, but not communicative—très correct.

                Information obtained from the concierge:

                One did not see much of Monsieur Cathcart, but he was très gentil.
French for a Gentleman
                 He never failed to say, “Bon jour, Bourgois,” when he came in or out. He received visitors sometimes—gentlemen in evening dress. One made card-parties. Monsieur Bourgois had never directed any ladies to his rooms; except once, last February, when he had given a lunch-party to some ladies très comme il faut who brought with them his fiancée, une jolie blonde. Monsieur Cathcart used the flat as a pied à terre, and often he would shut it up and go away for several weeks or months. He was un jeune homme très rangé. He had never kept a valet. Madame Leblanc, the cousin of one's late wife, kept his appartement clean. Madame Leblanc was very respectable. But certainly monsieur might have Madame Leblanc's address.

                Information obtained from Madame Leblanc:

                Monsieur Cathcart was a charming young man, and very pleasant to work for. Very generous and took a great interest in the family. Madame Leblanc was desolated to hear that he was dead, and on the eve of his marriage to the daughter of the English milady. Madame Leblanc had seen Mademoiselle last year when she visited Monsieur Cathcart in Paris; she considered the young lady very fortunate. Very few young men were as serious as Monsieur Cathcart, especially when they were so good-looking. Madame Leblanc had had experience of young men, and she could relate many histories if she were disposed, but none of Monsieur Cathcart. He would not always be using his rooms; he had the habit of letting her know when he would be at home, and she then went round to put the flat in order. He kept his things very tidy; he was not like English gentlemen in that respect. Madame Leblanc had known many of them, who kept their affairs sens dessus dessous. Monsieur Cathcart was always very well dressed; he was particular about his bath; he was like a woman for his toilet, the poor gentleman. And so he was dead. Le pauvre garçon! Really it had taken away Madame Leblanc's appetite.

                Information obtained from Monsieur the Prefect of Police:

                Absolutely nothing. Monsieur Cathcart had never caught the eye of the police in any way. With regard to the sums of money mentioned by Monsieur Parker, if monsieur would give him the numbers of some of the notes, efforts would be made to trace them.

                Where had the money gone? Parker could think only of two destinations—an irregular establishment or a blackmailer. Certainly a handsome man like Cathcart might very well have a woman or two in his life, even without the knowledge of the concierge. Certainly a man who habitually cheated at cards—if he did cheat at cards—might very well have got himself into the power of somebody who knew too much. It was noteworthy that his mysterious receipts in cash began just as his economies were exhausted; it seemed likely that they represented irregular gains from gambling—in the casinos, on the exchange, or, if Denver's story had any truth in it, from crooked play. On the whole, Parker rather inclined to the blackmailing theory. It fitted in with the rest of the business, as he and Lord Peter had reconstructed it at Riddlesdale.

                Two or three things, however, still puzzled Parker. Why should the blackmailer have been trailing about the Yorkshire moors with a cycle and side-car? Whose was the green-eyed cat? It was a valuable trinket. Had Cathcart offered it as part of his payment? That seemed somehow foolish. One could only suppose that the blackmailer had tossed it away with contempt. The cat was in Parker's possession, and it occurred to him that it might be worthwhile to get a jeweller to estimate its value. But the side-car was a difficulty, the cat was a difficulty, and, more than all, Lady Mary was a difficulty.

                Why had Lady Mary lied at the inquest? For that she had lied, Parker had no manner of doubt. He disbelieved the whole story of the second shot which had awakened her. What had brought her to the conservatory door at three o'clock in the morning? Whose was the suit-case—if it was a suit-case—that had lain concealed among the cactus plants? Why this prolonged nervous breakdown, with no particular symptoms, which prevented Lady Mary from giving evidence before the magistrate or answering her brother's inquiries? Could Lady Mary have been present at the interview in the shrubbery? If so, surely Wimsey and he would have found her footprints. Was she in league with the blackmailer? That was an unpleasant thought. Was she endeavoring to help her fiancé? She had an allowance of her own—a generous one, as Parker knew from the Duchess. Could she have tried to assist Cathcart with money? But in that case, why not tell all she knew? The worst about Cathcart—always supposing that card-sharping were the worst—was now matter of public knowledge, and the man himself was dead. If she knew the truth, why did she not come forward and save her brother?

                And at this point he was visited by a thought even more unpleasant. If, after all, it had not been Denver whom Mrs. Marchbanks had heard in the library, but someone else—someone who had likewise an appointment with the blackmailer—someone who was on his side as against Cathcart—who knew that there might be danger in the interview. Had he himself paid proper attention to the grass lawn between the house and the thicket? Might Thursday morning perhaps have revealed here and there a trodden blade that rain and sap had since restored to uprightness? Had Peter and he found all the footsteps in the wood? Had some more trusted hand fired that shot at close quarters? Once again—whose was the green-eyed cat?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 5

“I think it was the cat.”
H.M.S. Pinafore

Mr. Parker sat disconsolate in a small appartement in the Rue St. Honoré. It was three o'clock in the afternoon. Paris was full of a subdued but cheerful autumn sunlight, but the room faced north, and was depressing, with its plain, dark furniture and its deserted air. It was a man's room, well appointed after the manner of a discreet club; a room that kept its dead owner's counsel imperturbably. Two large saddlebag chairs in crimson leather stood by the cold hearth. On the mantelpiece was a bronze clock, flanked by two polished German shells, a stone tobacco-jar, and an Oriental brass bowl containing a long-cold pipe.
Presumably the polished German shells are shells from a weapon used during WWI. Duds, hopefully.
                There were several excellent engravings in narrow pearwood frames, and the portrait in oils of a rather florid lady of the period of Charles II.
There are several Charles II, but Sayers is doubtless talking about the English king.
Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685)[3] was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War. Although the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II King of Great Britain and Ireland in Edinburgh on 6 February 1649, the English Parliament instead passed a statute that made any such proclamation unlawful. England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, and the country was a de facto republic, led by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell defeated Charles at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, and Charles fled to mainland Europe. Cromwell became virtual dictator of England, Scotland and Ireland. Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the United Provinces and the Spanish Netherlands.

A political crisis that followed the death of Cromwell in 1658 resulted in the restoration of the monarchy, and Charles was invited to return to Britain. On 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday, he was received in London to public acclaim. After 1660, all legal documents were dated as if Charles had succeeded his father as king in 1649.

Charles's English parliament enacted laws known as the Clarendon Code, designed to shore up the position of the re-established Church of England. Charles acquiesced to the Clarendon Code even though he himself favoured a policy of religious tolerance. The major foreign policy issue of Charles's early reign was the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In 1670, Charles entered into the secret treaty of Dover, an alliance with his first cousin King Louis XIV of France. Louis agreed to aid Charles in the Third Anglo-Dutch War and pay Charles a pension, and Charles secretly promised to convert to Roman Catholicism at an unspecified future date. Charles attempted to introduce religious freedom for Catholics and Protestant dissenters with his 1672 Royal Declaration of Indulgence, but the English Parliament forced him to withdraw it. In 1679, Titus Oates's revelations of a supposed "Popish Plot" sparked the Exclusion Crisis when it was revealed that Charles's brother and heir (James, Duke of York) was a Roman Catholic. The crisis saw the birth of the pro-exclusion Whig and anti-exclusion Tory parties. Charles sided with the Tories, and, following the discovery of the Rye House Plot to murder Charles and James in 1683, some Whig leaders were killed or forced into exile. Charles dissolved the English Parliament in 1681, and ruled alone until his death on 6 February 1685. He was received into the Roman Catholic Church on his deathbed.

Charles was popularly known as the Merrie Monarch, in reference to both the liveliness and hedonism of his court and the general relief at the return to normality after over a decade of rule by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. Charles's wife, Catherine of Braganza, bore no children, but Charles acknowledged at least 12 illegitimate children by various mistresses. As illegitimate children were excluded from the succession, he was succeeded by his brother James.
                The window-curtains were crimson, and the floor covered with a solid Turkey carpet. Opposite the fireplace stood a tall mahogany bookcase with glass doors, containing a number of English and French classics, a large collection of books on history and international politics, various French novels, a number of works on military and sporting subjects, and a famous French edition of the Decameron with the additional plates. Under the window stood a large bureau.
The Decameron, also called Prince Galehaut (Italian: Il Decameron, cognominato Prencipe Galeotto) is a 14th-century medieval allegory by Giovanni Boccaccio, told as a frame story encompassing 100 tales by ten young people. Boccaccio probably began composing the work in 1350, and finished it in 1351 or 1353. The bawdy tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic. In addition to its literary import, it documents life in 14th-century Italy.

(The extra plates have sexual connotations.)
                Parker shook his head, took out a sheet of paper, and began to write a report. He had breakfasted on coffee and rolls at seven; he had made an exhaustive search of the flat; he had interviewed the concierge, the manager of the Crédit Lyonnais, and the Prefect of Police for the Quartier, and the result was very poor indeed.
Most of the Paris we see today is a result of a nineteenth-century renovation, but its boulevards and arrondissements were but a new grid bisecting quarters built by centuries of Parisian habit; as a result of this, Paris has many quarters (or quartiers) that are not necessarily mentioned on any administrative map.

Although Paris's origins are in its Left Bank, Parisians began to move to the newly-dried swampland of the Right bank around the 10th century, leaving the Left Bank to ecclesiastical and scholastic institutions. Commerce was at its highest around the Châtelet bridge guardhouse and Place de Grève port, a market quarter that would later become Les Halles, artisans tended to keep to the east of the city, and the more noble residences and shops were always near the royal palaces. Although many are split between several arrondissements, most of these tendencies still hold true in Paris today.

Below are a few quarters that have developed or retained a character of their own, usually identifiable by a grouping of commercial activity and named for a neighbourhood landmark.