The Life and Crimes of Lockhart & Doppler
Part Four The Stone of The Sons of Horus
I did feel sorry for him, in a way, slightly, maybe.
Bert, desperately yanking his arms against the bonds that held him (I was a good Girl Scout y’know) snivelled,
“Please missus, the antidote!”The poor devil was crying, I swear. I glanced at Doppler, she rolled her eyes.
“For Heaven’s sakes, its water you fool –Tantum Aqua, simply water- learn your Latin. Blimey, what is the education system in England coming to?”
Doppler was exasperated and bored now, I could see she wanted to return to her lab with phials, droppers, acrid odours and glass bottles housing things in alcohol. Bert was convinced, with the aid of a bottle of whiskey, a handful of coins and clean pants, to return to The Frenchman empty handed saying that the item was not in our possession. We fed him, then turned him out in the morning. Of course I didn’t trust him to follow our request (Rule 1: Trust No-one), he might tell Cavellier he hadn’t found it, he might tell him we tied him up, but I doubted it, what sort of common criminal wants to admit being outdone by women?
The following day, I consigned a suitable package to a safety deposit box at Lloyds, I ensured that Doppler was seen and heard making said deposit; she ‘accidentally’ bumped into a portly gent exiting, he apologised profusely and offered to assist a young lady in need, after all, the package was so very heavy and she a poor weak girl.
Five days later the papers informed all that an attempted robbery had occurred in Lloyds in the early hours, but oddly, nothing was taken. A house brick was found on the floor of the safe, shredded paper strewn about, Inspector Row was most mystified.
How we laughed.
I thought it best to stay out of Monsieur de Cavellier’s sights for a while and so we took the steam train to Edinburgh, there was some festival of sorts going on. We took rooms near to West Princes Street Gardens, dropped our luggage and went to find a suitable restaurant. Edinburgh’s roads rushed down -hill like rivers. Its great buildings rushing up like rockets. There was electric lighting all through the New Town. Polished mechanical horses moved alongside flesh made, pulling carriages. The Madelvic Carriage Company’s’ battery powered vehicles where everywhere, black as hearses. We ate at McNivens; a crowded, sweaty, raucous establishment. The locals were mostly in their cups and we soaked up the good humour along with ‘neep’s n tatties, slabs of beef flavoured with cinnamon and fine ale.
A wandering stroll took us through the border of the Old and New Town, wonky shop fronts here, with windows of mutton, leather gloves, shoes, sweeties and books… so many books! Doppler had spotted an apothecary and wanted to browse, I got lost in the shambles of an antiquated book store. Outside sat a hoary lump of a man, he held out a grimy paw,
“Go’ eny change lassie?”
I pulled my pouch out from my coat pocket (I rarely used purses, muffs or the like) and dropped some coinage in. He gawped, tried to give some back, I refused and bid him a better day. Time was lost on me in amongst the dusty papers and when I came out I realised I was hungry and Doppler was nowhere to be seen, neither was the old beggar. I began searching the shops and nearby roads, questioning the apothecary and joyous locals. I snaked my way through grey masonry, down cobbled lanes and up numerous sheer steps. On the verge of panic a tap on the shoulder span me round, fists clenched. The old guy from the bookstore,
“Ye wee lassie, she went doon Lawn Market missus.”
He shuffled ahead, indicating the direction. Could I trust this stranger, or was he leading me into some gang of ner do wells to rob me, I had little choice. A grim square with a wigmakers, ‘Brodie’s the Carpenter’ and food carts scattered about. Five narrow, ill-disposed roads led off the square, I searched at random. I heard the exclamation before going halfway into the confined alley, the corner turned sharply half way down. Doppler was against a wall, pressed tight by a ruffian who had one hand gripping hers which had a knife in it, his other had a walking cane pressed across her soft neck. I darted forwards, roaring at the brute. I hit out, sending his Derby flying. Turning on me, he pulled a shiv from his pocket, struck Doppler once, hard, and came at me. Doppler sank against the wall.
As he lashed out at me with the cane, I surprised him by stepping into rather than away from him, kicking him in the shin and punching him on the nose. Something went clack and blood trickled. My knuckles hurt. His face was like the masonry of the city. The blade caught the sleeve of my new jacket, renting it from collar to cuff. I gaped.
“That’s Jacquard silk you…you...tupping Philistine!”
Grabbing his knife hand and pressing down on his little finger as Barton-Wright taught me, Stone Face winced and growled bringing the cane down on my shoulder. There was no way I was going to beat him with strength. He had hands calloused from years of manual labour, I could feel his forearms like iron; but, he was a man, and there are vulnerables on a man.
As I was bent double from the whack of the cane, I grabbed his tackle and twisted. He shrieked like a factory whistle. I kept on squeezing, like I was wringing out a wash cloth till it was almost dry. He dropped the cane, the knife and dropped to his knees. Doppler’s motionless form cut across my vision. I saw red, I seized the cane from the greasy cobbles and struck the groaning cove, as he raised his arm in defence I deliberately aimed for his hand – crack – he crumpled lower, I beat him harder.
Only when Doppler’s cry broke through the mist did I stop. Oops.
Taking hold of Doppler’s hand we turned to leave. The old beggar was standing mouth agape not ten feet away, I looked at him askance, still breathing heavily. He stepped to one side and as we passed he doffed his hat.
Back at our rooms at last, I discovered Doppler to be in no worse shape than myself, we’d do. She had purchased an unusual and large selection of drugs, opiates, arsenic and more at the apothecary’s. Stoney Face had evidently seen her purse and decided she was an easy target.
“I don’t like the idea of your name being written down in a ledger for all those purchases” I said
“Ye, called myself Doctor Jekyll, common enough name here in Scotland.”…
To be continued…..?