Bristler of the Yard. A Ripping Story of Detection.
By Hengist Marimba.
“I will have a small bottle of your most deadly poison please, Mr. Godbold,” declared Mrs. Savident in a most decided voice.
“Gawd luv us, Missus,” responded the chemist, reaching under his counter and producing a small dark bottle, “you’ll be careful, won’t yer? ‘Tis terrible potent stuff, Missus. Kill yer stone dead in seckonds, it will.”
“Thank you, Mr. Godbold, I am very aware of the dangers and I assure you that I will be most careful.”
“You will ‘ave to fill in the Deadly Poisons Record Book, Missus, on account of you purchasing that there deadly poison.”
Mrs. Savident quickly filled in the necessary details, paid Mr. Godbold, wished him a good morning and left the shop, bottle in hand.
“Why, Mrs. Savident, what a pleasure to see you again, Madam. What can I provide you with, from the stock of my tool and ironmongery emporium?”
Thus spoke Mr. Ventriss, greeting Mrs. Savident as she passed in through the door of his shop.
“Good day to you, Mr. Ventriss. Do you have a good sharp knife, with a long, strong blade, and a handle well-suited to a firm, repeated forward stabbing motion?”
“Certainly, Madam, I can offer a wide selection. Would you care to examine the available range and make your choice?” So saying, Mr. Ventriss directed Mrs. Savident’s attention to a large display case filled with all kinds of deadly-looking knives.
“This one looks ideal for my purpose,” said Mrs. Savident, examining a kitchen knife with a fine steel blade of exceptional sharpness. “Please to wrap it, and I will take it with me.”
“Certainly, Madam. And how is Mr. Savident, if I may make so bold?” This was the ironmonger’s civil enquiry as he bustled about with brown paper and string.
“I yearn to be free of him. I loathe him, and would do anything to end his tyranny over me,” replied Mrs. Savident, taking the long thin parcel. “Good day to you.”
“And a very good day to you, Mrs. Savident.”
“I am interested in purchasing a length of strong wire, perhaps six feet or so, sturdy enough to act as a tripwire. Would you happen to stock anything suitable?” Mrs. Savident’s question was directed to the civil young man behind the counter of Boldball’s Domestic Stores. To her satisfaction, he was able to provide her with a section of strong wire of just the right length, and at a very reasonable price.
“I see that it is nice and thin, as well as being strong,” observed Mrs. Savident as she examined the wire proferred by the young assistant. “Indeed, yes,” he responded, “thus rendering it difficult to see, particularly if fixed in a relatively ill-lit area such as a staircase.”
“That really is quite ideal,” replied Mrs. Savident.
“Mrs. Savident,” cried old Mr. Spotch as that lady entered his marine requisites shop, “Good morning to you, and I am pleased to be able to say that I have obtained the length of strong rope you rquested. I have it here.”
“This would seem to be excellent, and just what I was looking for,” said Mrs. Savident, examining the good thick hempen rope laid out on the counter for her inspection. “Please let me have six yards.”
“Very good, Madam. Was that Mr. Savident I saw at the Post Office yesterday? I would have stopped to pass the time of day with him, but my engagements did not permit.”
“He is a vile wretch. I wish him cold and in his grave.”
“And very nice too. Well, do give him my regards. Here is your rope, Mrs. Savident.”
“Thank you. And, Mr. Spotch, this being a maritime establishment, I imagine you as the proprietor have an extensive knowledge of knots?”
“Indeed I do, Madam,” answered Mr. Spotch proudly, drawing himself up and puffing out his chest. “I think I can justly claim to have the most extensive knowledge of knots to be found anywhere in London. Was there any particular knot you were interested in knowing about?”
“The slip-knot, if you please, Mr. Spotch.”
Mrs. Savident had just finished putting her purchases carefully away in the drawing-room cupboard she used for her sewing things when she heard the door open behind her and turned to see her husband enter the room.
“Mary, dear, how are you?” he enquired, moving towards her with his arms outstretched, “how good it is to see you at the end of a long hard day.”
“Do not touch me, loathsome creature,” she replied quickly, “you know you make me vomit.” Indeed, she could feel her stomach contracting and bile rising in her throat at the mere sight of him. “Oh! How I long to be free of you! Free to marry my lover and make my own life, my own happiness, at last. Get away from me, worm,” she continued, “supper will be in an hour.”
As his wife left the room, slamming the door behind her, Mr. Savident poured himself a drink and wondered if she was entirely happy. Still, a nice, healthy, safe supper, maybe served with a new sauce that would have a slightly odd taste; then up the dark, steep stairs to bed. Or perhaps he could sit in the study, his back to the door and his head presenting an easy target to an assailant, and read for an hour or so. It is nice to be home, he thought with a smile.
“The deceased is a Mr. Engadine Savident. His wife discovered him first thing this morning,” reported Police Sergeant Trout to Inspector Thomas Bristler of Scotland Yard as the latter arrived at 16 Bindweed Gardens early on the following day. “The body is suspended above the stairs, sir.”
“Suspended above the stairs, eh? Interesting,” responded Bristler, taking his pipe out of his mouth. He pushed the door open and strode into the hall.
“Those are his feet, sir — oh, I see you have encountered them. Are you alright? Let me help you up again.”
“Don’t fuss, Sergeant. Where is my pipe? So this is the body. Remarkable.” Bristler went to work, examining the body and the scene with meticulous care. As ever, his penetrating eyes and bristling moustache missed nothing. After twenty minutes he straightened, took his pipe out of his mouth and said, “we are looking at a dead body here, gentlemen. This man fell down the stairs, was stabbed several times with a sharp knife, and finally had a noose put around his neck and was hanged. There is also evidence that he ingested poison at some point in the last twelve hours. I suspect foul play. This here is a murdered, and we are looking for … a murderer.”
“Well,” said Inspector Bristler, “I was hoping to speak to Mrs. Savident but it appears that she has run away with her lover and gone to live in Switzerland. Perhaps it was suicide. I don’t suppose we’ll ever get to the bottom of this one, Trout.”
To be discontinued.