A STRANGER AT THE DOOR- CHAPTER 34- A LONG, COLD WALK
Dear Readers, my most humble apologies for taking so long to post this chapter! Thank you so much for your loyal support!
Violet willing left Baker Street with James and Daniel knowing full well that she might not survive the ordeal. The young woman did not feel exceptionally brave, but she held Mrs. Hudson in such great affection that she wanted to protect her at all costs. However, this did not mean that Violet would go down without a fight. In order to lure the two men into thinking that she was compliant with their wishes, she did not struggle.
James pulled her along with a vise like grip on her arm for a while until she stopped walking and refused to take another step, causing him to stumble to a halt. Meekly she told him, "James, I am not going to run away." When he finally let go, she had to restrain herself from sighing with relief and rubbing her bruised arm. She straightened her spine, inclined her head toward him to indicate she was ready to resume walking. Violet did her best to appear to everyone they passed as a dutiful sister, obediently following her much older brother.
As they continued down the street, Violet smoothed her hair with her right hand and pushed it behind her shoulders, her fingers secretly brushing out the tortoiseshell hairpins that were still hanging in the tangled mass and let one drop from her hand periodically. It was most likely a feeble effort, but she hoped that they might leave a trail. There was nothing to lose in the attempt.
The front door of 221B Baker Street stood wide open. When the cab that Holmes and Watson were riding in pulled up to the house, the detective was out like a shot leaving his friend quite confused and having to pay the fare. The detective raced up the seventeen steps that led up to the sitting room. When he found no one there, he ran up to Violet's tiny bedroom. Where was she? He had expressly told her not to leave the house!
Watson finally caught up with Holmes in the kitchen. Mrs. Hudson was seated at the table with Constable Brown standing over her. She dabbed her red and swollen eyes with a handkerchief. The doctor rummaged around in the landlady's domain for some kind of spirits to help calm her down. "Look in the cabinet over the sink, Dr. Watson. There is a bottle of sherry there," she told him.
He located the sherry and poured her a glass. Once she had consumed all of it, Holmes asked her, "Now Mrs. Hudson, where is Miss Carroll?"
She answered, "Two men took her. One of them…" She put her hand to her throat. "One of them threatened to kill me if she did not tell them what they wanted to know. She agreed to go with them if they would leave me alone. Violet and the men knew each other. One of them, the blonde one, she called James, told her he was her half brother. " Mrs. Hudson began to sob, making Holmes quite uncomfortable. He motioned Watson to come and sit beside her.
Realizing that his landlady was in no state to give coherent answers, Holmes turned to Constable Brown for more information. "Now Constable, tell me what brought you here to be with Mrs. Hudson."
"Well Mr. Holmes, I passed by your house while walking my beat and could not help but see the front door standing wide open. I felt something was amiss and entered to find Mrs. Hudson alone and badly shaken by what had happened right before I came in." Andrew Brown hoped that the detective would not chide him for leaving the door opened after he had entered the house. The young man's concern for the occupants of the house, most particularly Violet, was so great as to not think about closing the door behind himself.
A blast of cold air blew down stairs to the kitchen bringing a new and very practical concern to Mrs. Hudson's mind. "The child left the house wearing only her dress. She has no hat or coat or even gloves to protect her from the weather. I fear she will come down with pneumonia."
There was nothing Holmes or Watson could say to comfort her concerning Violet's lack of adequate protection against the weather. The detective addressed a more critical issue; finding the young woman as quickly as possible. "Watson, stay here with Mrs. Hudson. Constable Brown and I will go and search for Miss Carroll."
"Of course," responded the doctor.
As Holmes and Andrew Brown made their way up the stairs from Mrs. Hudson's quarters to the front door, the detective instructed him to turn left and search for the young woman while he covered ground in the opposite direction.
Violet shivered involuntarily. In her haste to get James and Daniel away from Baker Street, she had not thought about the weather and the need for a coat. Now she was keenly aware of the cold for it had seeped into her bones. The need for some protection against the cold overrode her fear of what her half brother might do or say if she complained. "J…J…James, I am freezing. I left Baker Street without a coat."
He stopped and turned towards her. "You should have thought about that before we left Mr. Holmes' house. What a nuisance you are! Danny, give her your jacket."
"Aw Jimmy, its freezing cold. Do I have to?" Daniel Rutledge complained.
James huffed and answered, "Yes, you fool. I said give her your jacket."
"Oh, alright." Daniel took off his ragged, filthy jacket and put it around Violet's shoulders. As he pulled away, his hand brushed against her right breast. As she shivered in revulsion, he chuckled, "Here you are, your highness."
The pungent odor of the jacket made Violet's stomach roil. She swallowed hard and mumbled, "Thank you."
"You're welcome my lady, but you owe me, "he hissed in her ear. She swallowed hard and pushed out of her mind what sort of payment Daniel would extract from her for giving her his coat.
"Now come on, no more stops," James told her as he grabbed her arm once more. The trio walked for what seemed like miles to Violet. She had no idea where they were going and very little memory of where they had been. It was all she could do to keep up with James and Daniel's pace. Her mind was occupied with what might happen when they arrived at their destination, wherever that might be, that she had not thought to memorize the streets and buildings she passed. Besides she might not survive to make a return to Baker Street and her need to know who she was and where she came from was so powerful that she would not contemplate escape from the very man that could give her that knowledge; James Carlisle . Violet could only hope that Sherlock Holmes would find her before it was too late.
As she followed behind James, trying to keep up with his pace, Violet stumbled over a curb stone. The heel came off her once repaired shoe, skittering under a shrub. She fell and sent James sprawling on the sidewalk. Daniel guffawed at the comic scene until his partner in crime came up swinging and his fist connected with the smaller man's jaw.
Rutledge hit the ground with a thud. "Ow! Why did you hit me?"
James stood there, red faced and breathing hard. "Teach you to laugh at me, you idiot. Now get up and help my sister up as well."
Daniel stood up and pulled Violet with him, jerking her arm violently. "Clumsy, stupid gal! You're more trouble than you're worth.
Now she was freezing, her arm hurt badly and she was missing the heel from one of her shoes. It was enough to make her wish that they would soon be at their destination so she would be inside, out of the cold and no longer have to hobble to keep up with James and Daniel.
When the trio stopped walking, the two men ushered Violet into what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. Daniel fumbled around and found a candle and matches that had been left by the door. He lit the candle and they proceeded further into the dark, cold cavern like building to the far right corner where there were a couple of wooden crates. Daniel pushed her down on one of the crates and crossed over to sit beside James on the other one.
"Alright Roni, tell us what you know," James ordered her. Now she had to give him an answer. Violet's heart began to pound. What should she say? Once the truth was out; that she remembered almost nothing of her life before she was cast upon the doorstep of 221B Baker Street, what would her brother do to her?
Hairpins and a heel from one of Violet's shoes- will these items help Holmes and Constable Brown find Violet before something bad happens to her at the hands of James and Daniel?
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