Read Watson's Choice Online

Authors: Gladys Mitchell

Watson's Choice

BOOK: Watson's Choice
4.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

CONTENTS

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Gladys Mitchell

Dedication

Title Page

1.
AN INVITATION TO DINNER

2.
THE SHERLOCK HOLMES PARTY

3.
UNSCRIPTED APPEARANCE OF AN EXTRA

4.
AFTER THE BALL WAS OVER

5.
A TUTOR’S DREAM

6.
CAVILLING CRITICS

7.
TWO HOSTAGES OF FORTUNE

8.
THE GHOST STATION

9.
DESDEMONA?

10.
CONTACT

11.
TO SEE A MAN ABOUT A DOG

12.
OFFICIALDOM

13.
THE PURSUIT OF THE UNEATABLE CONTINUES

14.
THE MYSTERY OF JANE EYRE

15.
MORE CONTRIBUTIONS INVITED

16.
NO SURFEIT OF ALIBIS

17.
THE WEAPON?

18.
THE EVIDENCE OF A WIG

More from Vintage Classic Crime

Copyright

About the Book

One of Sir Bohun Chantrey’s great passions in life are the stories of Sherlock Holmes. To celebrate the great man’s anniversary, he throws a party at which the guests are instructed to come as characters from the detective stories. But several of the guests are more interested in Sir Bohun’s money, and when he announces that he is to marry a poor governess, things take a turn for the worse, not least when the Hound of the Baskervilles turns up…

Fortunately Mrs Bradley, and her secretary Laura, are amongst the guests and ready to investigate the deepening mystery.

About the Author

Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell – or ‘The Great Gladys’ as Philip Larkin described her – was born in 1901, in Cowley in Oxfordshire. She graduated in history from University College London and in 1921 began her long career as a teacher. She studied the works of Sigmund Freud and attributed her interest in witchcraft to the influence of her friend, the detective novelist Helen Simpson.

Her first novel,
Speedy Death
, was published in 1929 and introduced readers to Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, the heroine of a further sixty-six crime novels. She wrote at least one novel a year throughout her career and was an early member of the Detection Club along with G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. In 1961 she retired from teaching and, from her home in Dorset, continued to write, receiving the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award in 1976. Gladys Mitchell died in 1983.

ALSO BY GLADYS MITCHELL
Speedy Death
The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop
The Longer Bodies
The Saltmarsh Murders
Death at the Opera
The Devil at Saxon Wall
Dead Men’s Morris
Come Away, Death
St Peter’s Finger
Printer’s Error
Brazen Tongue
Hangman’s Curfew
When Last I Died
Laurels Are Poison
The Worsted Viper
Sunset Over Soho
My Father Sleeps
The Rising of the Moon
Here Comes a Chopper
Death and the Maiden
The Dancing Druids
Tom Brown’s Body
Groaning Spinney
The Devil’s Elbow
The Echoing Strangers
Merlin’s Furlong
Faintley Speaking
Twelve Horses and the
Hangman’s Noose
The Twenty-third Man
Spotted Hemlock
The Man Who Grew Tomatoes
Say It With Flowers
The Nodding Canaries
My Bones Will Keep
Adders on the Heath
Death of the Delft Blue
Pageant of Murder
The Croaking Raven
Skeleton Island
Three Quick and Five Dead
Dance to Your Daddy
Gory Dew
Lament for Leto
A Hearse on May-Day
The Murder of Busy Lizzie
Winking at the Brim
A Javelin for Jonah
Convent on Styx
Late, Late in the Evening
Noonday and Night
Fault in the Structure
Wraiths and Changelings
Mingled with Venom
The Mudflats of the Dead
Nest of Vipers
Uncoffin’d Clay
The Whispering Knights
Lovers, Make Moan
The Death-Cap Dancers
The Death of a Burrowing Mole
Here Lies Gloria Mundy
Cold, Lone and Still
The Greenstone Griffins
The Crozier Pharaohs
No Winding-Sheet
TO
BEE BARFORD
IN LOVE AND
FRIENDSHIP

GLADYS MITCHELL

Watson’s Choice

CHAPTER 1
AN INVITATION TO DINNER

‘Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown have been summoned …’

ALLAN MONKHOUSE

The Grand Cham’s Diamond

*


SO IT IS
the Great Anniversary,’ remarked Mrs Bradley one dingy autumn morning. ‘And, in case we had forgotten to celebrate it in a fitting manner, here is an invitation from Sir Bohun Chantrey for us to attend a Sherlock Holmes dinner at his house on the twenty-fifth of November.’

‘Us?’ enquired her secretary, Laura Menzies.

‘Certainly. You, myself, and Detective-Inspector Gavin, our dear Robert.’

‘Why Gavin?’ asked Laura, who habitually referred to her swain by his surname. ‘You, of course; me as your amanuensis and general dogsbody, certainly. But why Gavin?’

‘I gather that Sir Bohun wishes him to impersonate Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. We are to go in fancy dress, it seems. Each one of us is to represent a personage in a Sherlock Holmes story.’

‘Really? Bags I Irene Adler! Didn’t she appear as “a slim youth in an ulster” towards the end of the affair?’

‘Irene Adler is already provided for. Sir Bohun has sent a list showing those parts which are already filled. There seems to be a nursery governess who will represent “
The
Woman”.’

‘Too bad! Still, never mind – although there is scarcely much choice of women’s parts in the Holmes stories. Apart from Irene Adler and possibly that nosey little governess in
The Copper Beeches
, there isn’t a Holmes female I’d be seen dead as, unless – Oh, yes, I know! I’ll go as that woman who had the black baby in the yellow mask. What was her name?’

‘Mrs Grant Munro. An excellent idea. I myself shall impersonate Mrs Farintosh.’

‘Don’t remember a Mrs Farintosh. What a name! It sounds like three clans rolled into one!’

‘Exactly. Farquharson, Innes, and MacIntosh. I have always been fond of the Scots, and it will be a compliment to you and to our dear Robert if I appear in Scottish costume at the dinner. What are the colours of the Farquharson tartan?’

‘Green, blue, yellow, and red. It’s a good design, too. I like it. And the only Farquharson I ever met I took to.’

‘Beautiful! I will have the dress
au
Farquharson, then, and the mantle and bonnet in the ruddier weave of Clan Innes. Elastic-sided boots and a waterproof will help the company to identify one whose name, I feel, should become a by-word but not a hissing to the true disciples of the Master.’

‘The Master sounds blasphemous, put like that. Anyway, who
was
Mrs Farintosh? I thought I knew my Sherlock Holmes pretty well. Are you pulling my leg?’

‘She was the friend who recommended Miss Helen Stoner to appeal to Sherlock Holmes in the matter of
The Speckled Band
.’

‘Oh, I see. But do you think she’ll count? She doesn’t actually come into the story, does she?’

‘In a sense, no. Nevertheless, we must remember that, but for her, Miss Helen Stoner might not have heard of Mr Holmes, and, in that case, she would certainly never have been in a position to marry Percy Armitage, the second son of Mr Armitage of Crane Water, near Reading. You have not studied the text sufficiently, or you would not attempt to discredit her.’

‘You know,’ said Laura, putting her head on one side, and taking no notice of this criticism, ‘I shall wear a bustle, I think. I’m sure a woman who married a darkie and produced a black baby and disguised it behind a mask “of the strangest livid tint” would have sported a bustle. Besides, it will give Gavin a jolt to see me with some extra
embonpoint
. He thinks I’m too fat already.’

‘He will have to wear side-whiskers if he takes Inspector Lestrade upon him,’ Mrs Bradley observed.

‘Meaning that those will give
me
a jolt? Too right. I can’t imagine anything more loathsome than Gavin in side-whiskers. But he’s too tall and (although I say it) much too good-looking for Lestrade, who, as I recollect it, was a ferrety little man – how does it go? – lean, furtive, and sly-looking. Who else, besides the nursery governess, has been provided with a part? And why is a nursery governess bidden to the revels, anyway? I always thought they were the Cinderellas of this world. Oh, well, I suppose Cinderella
did
go to a ball. I take it that Sir Bohun isn’t thinking of casting himself as Prince Charming – otherwise the King of Bohemia? He’s only about forty-five, isn’t he?’

‘He is forty-seven, and personable. The point you raise had not occurred to me, but it is, perhaps, significant that he has given this Miss Linda Campbell the Irene Adler part.
The Woman!
An interesting speculation, that of yours, my dear Laura, although I cannot see how you jumped to such an idea. Your acquaintance with Sir Bohun is of the slightest, and Miss Campbell, so far as I am aware, is quite unknown to you.’

‘One gets these bright thoughts,’ said Laura, pleased with herself. ‘But, look here, how comes it that a nursery governess has been imported into Sir Bohun’s household? I thought he was a bachelor.’

‘He explains in his letter that he has given a home to two orphans, his nephews, a brother’s children. The nursery governess is to teach the younger boy, a child of six, and the older boy, aged ten, was to have had a tutor.’

‘Wrong tense,’ said Laura, looking over Mrs Bradley’s shoulder at the list which Sir Bohun had sent with his letter. ‘He’s got him already! Don’t you think Basil Grimston is the tutor? We know Tony Bell is the secretary. Who’s Manoel Lupez, though?’

‘I have no idea, but Sir Bohun, no doubt, has picked up acquaintances in various parts of the world. He is a man who seems to find it impossible to settle down.’

‘I see. Well, do you want me to write back and say we can come? – or shall we see whether we can get the costumes before we commit ourselves?’

‘Accept at once, child. Nothing will prevent me from playing Mrs Farintosh. I have immortal longings in me. When you have written the letter, please ring up our dear Robert and find out whether he will be able to join us.’

Laura obeyed, and returned from the telephone to say that Gavin thought the idea of a Sherlock Holmes dinner an admirable one, that he had already received a separate invitation which he had accepted, and that he had put in for a week’s leave which had been granted.

‘He says it’s a sort of celebration,’ Laura added morosely. ‘He’s going to be made a Chief Detective-Inspector. Fancy me a Chief
Inspector’s
wife! He wants us to be married in the spring. I’ve agreed.’

‘And time, too,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘You can have half this house if you like. You won’t need to use the kitchen, as you can’t cook, and I shall be nice company for you when Robert is away on a case. You can have half the Stone House at Wandles Parva, too, if you wish. It is really far too big for me.’

BOOK: Watson's Choice
4.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Glass Man by Jocelyn Adams
Until We Meet Again by Margaret Thornton
Sooner or Later by Elizabeth Adler
Empty Net by Toni Aleo
The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake
Settling Down by Nicole Forcine
Royal Bachelor by Torres, Trudi
Fox is Framed by Lachlan Smith
Swimming in the Moon: A Novel by Schoenewaldt, Pamela