Friday, 28 November 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - Day 28

I woke obscenely early next morning, having gone to bed obscenely early and slept like a very tired log; it was the first time in a long time that I'd woken up before Pond arrived with my coffee (not counting my fortnight at Bourneham, which was so unusual as a whole that it had already taken on a dreamlike quality in my memory), and I was rather at a loss what to do with myself.  Out of sheer boredom, I got up and had a bath, then started dressing myself.

Pond arrived when I was halfway done, with a silent red-eyed Massingale in tow (the boy hadn't been out of Pond's sight all night), and finished me up in my soberest Sunday suit, though I had no intention of going to church that morning.  As soon as I was dressed and had a couple of cups of coffee, I headed downstairs; it was still too early for breakfast, so I went to Lord Levondale's study, where the only telephone was located.

Telephoning to London on a Sunday was a tedious business, waiting ages to get through to the Lewes exchange and then to the Brighton exchange and then to the Westminster exchange, all of which were staffed by the absolute minimum number of operators in observance of the Sabbath.  And when I finally got through to Hyacinth House, the night porter was still on duty, and he wasn't sure he was allowed to ring Silenus's rooms or tell me if he was even in the hotel.  

I finally got the night porter to go wake up the hotel manager, who told me that Silenus was not in residence, but could most likely be reached at his brother's house in Devon, whither his messages and post were being forwarded.  Then I had to start all over again, from Lewes to Brighton to Exeter to Gelford, then getting hold of someone at Lydelands, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Gelford.

"Well, Sebastian, what gets you out of bed at such an unearthly hour?" Silenus's voice came booming jovially over the line.

"It's Jingo Faringdon," I said simply and perhaps a bit brutally, ignoring my own advice about revealing too much over the telephone, "He's been murdered."

"Oh, dear," he gasped, "My dear boy, I'll come right away.  Where are you?"

"I'm at Verevale Court in Sussex, a few miles south of Lewes."

"That will take me some time to reach," he said, and I could hear him flipping the pages of a book, an atlas or an ABC, I couldn't tell, "But I think I can get there by tea-time."

"I am relieved," I admitted, though I wasn't sure if I should ask Lady Levondale to invite him to stay, or let him make his own arrangements, "In the meantime, do you know anything about Detective Chief Inspector Netley of the Brighton CID?"

"I know of Netley, though I don't know him personally.  Immensely clever, but without ambition," he sounded thoughtful, and I could see him in my mind's eye, leaning back in a chair and folding his hands over his tummy--though of course he must have been holding a telephone receiver, so couldn't possibly be sitting like that, "I've always found it a propitious combination.  I think you can probably trust him as well as you trusted Summerill."

"That's a relief," I said, "I was rather suspiciously vague in my statements last night, not knowing how much I could tell him."

"Just remember that you can't help Jingo, now," he advised, "Protecting Dotty and yourself are your only responsibilities.  I'll see you soon."

He rung off then, and I sat at Lord Levondale's desk feeling rather blank with too many emotions: I was immensely relieved that Silenus was coming, but telling him about Jingo had reinspired the grief I'd felt the night before while keeping watch over his body, and so the relief was well-mixed with desolation.  

It was still too early for breakfast, though, so I took some paper from the desk and started writing out the statement that I knew Netley would require from me later.  I was painstakingly meticulous about it, just to kill time, and when I was done writing I bound the pages together with red string and sealing-wax, impressing my coat of arms onto each blob with the almost effeminately flashy carved garnet swivel-ring I'd recently taken to wearing (it was a family heirloom, 18th century, else I probably wouldn't have dared).

I folded the statement up and put it into my pocket, then went into the dining-room, where quite a lot of people were already having breakfast.  Despite my hunger, I was oddly reluctant to eat once I was confronted by the regiment of covered dishes, something about gorging myself while Jingo lay dead seemed somehow distasteful; but I had to eat, so I filled my plate with kidneys and porridge, neither of which I particularly care for, as a sop to conscience.

"Lady Levondale, I wonder if you could recommend an hotel," I sat down beside my hostess, having come up with a good cover-story to explain Silenus's impending arrival, "Lord Faringdon's godfather, Lord Arthur Longueville, wanted to come and lend his support, but I didn't know if there was any place suitable that could accommodate him."

"I hadn't realised their families were close," she sounded surprised, as I'd rather expected she would: having even a minor Longueville as your godfather is something people are likely to mention, the name being among the most illustrious in England, "But I won't hear of an hotel, Lord Arthur must come stay here.  I wonder where, though; I hate to put him on the third floor."

"I'm happy to change rooms, if it's any help," I offered.

"Do you think I should ask Lord Faringdon's brother and mother here, too?" she wondered, slightly baffled by the unexpected situation, "Lady Faringdon mightn't be able to go home until after the inquest, but I'm sure she'd want family around her in this trying time.  But I've never met them, and asking a family in mourning to come stay with strangers, I'd hate to be impertinent."

"I'm sure they would be delighted to come, Lady Levondale," I assured her.  I hadn't thought of poor Pongo or the Dowager Marchioness, "I'll telephone for you, if you like."

"You're very kind, Lord Foxbridge," she took my hand and squeezed it gratefully, "Such a help.  If you'll excuse me, I have to go talk to my housekeeper."
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