A STRANGER AT THE DOOR- CHAPTER 35- PLANS
It appeared as if someone had tossed a block of wood under a bush. Upon close inspection, the wood turned out to be the heel of a woman's shoe. Sherlock Holmes picked up the heel and immediately knew it had come from Violet's left shoe; the color and shape of it matched perfectly. He pocketed the heel and scanned the area for other signs of the young woman. As the detective ran his hand over the bush, he found several tortoiseshell hair pins nestled in its branches. In his mind's eye, Holmes could picture her being pulled along by the two men, her hair streaming in wild profusion. The thought of that sight troubled him more than he cared to admit. She must have taken pains to pin up her hair that morning, for she usually chose to pull it back away from her face and tie it up with a ribbon. He continued on, looking for anything else she might have dropped along the way.
An unpleasant thought lodged itself in Holmes' mind. Suppose he was unable to find Violet? He did not want to imagine what her fate would be! In the whole of his career, the instinct to protect someone had never been so strong. What if he failed her? He pushed those troubling thoughts out of his mind and continued searching for the young woman who had invaded his life, yet had come to mean so much to him.
If there was a Supreme Being in the universe, Violet had a mind to invoke that being's assistance when she looked into her brother, James' eyes. It was the "moment of truth". Where had she heard that phrase? Whatever it was, she was filled with abject terror at what he might do when she revealed that she knew almost nothing of her past. Scanning her mind for the faintest of memories of what her life was like before her time at Baker Street, she came up with hardly anything at all. What was it James wanted to know? What sort of knowledge did he seek from her?
The more Violet searched her mind, the more desperate she felt. Why not just tell him the truth- that she remembered nothing of her life before a few months ago? She would steel herself for whatever James and Daniel would do to her. A sudden wave of sadness swept through her at the thought of her life ending without knowing who she really was. Added to this was an equally disturbing thought- the distress her death might cause the people who had become her family- Holmes, Watson and Mrs. Hudson.
Looking directly into her brother's eyes, she asked, "Before I answer any of your questions, I want to know why you have crossed an ocean to find me? What could possibly be of such great importance that you could not let me just be forgotten by everyone back in America? "
James' eyes flashed fire. He reached out, grabbed her by both arms and pulled her face so close to his own that their noses were touching. "You know something that could spell the end of a plan to rid our country of a great tyranny," he hissed as he tapped her forehead.
Willing herself to remain calm, she formulated a "plan" of her own. She would forestall giving him an answer that she did not posses. Violet wanted to know about her past so she would tell her half brother that she would give him the answer he sought if he would tell her about her family. "Before I tell you what you want to know, I have a request of you."
"You are in no position to make any requests!" he shouted at her.
Although she trembled inwardly, Violet willed herself to remain calm. In an even tone she told him, "I want to know about my family- my mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. I don't remember any of them. "
Before James could make a response, Daniel chimed in, "You don't remember your mother because she died when you were born. You killed her and then you killed your father."
This revelation horrified Violet. How could a new born infant harm anyone? "How could a baby kill anyone? I do not understand."
"She died in childbirth and then Father died of a broken heart a few weeks later," James told her. Sorrow mixed with anger was evident in his voice as he continued, "My Father who'd been a widower for many years fell in love with your mother. She took his attention away from me and my brother Henry. He was so besotted with her that he lost all interest in the family business. Henry and I had to assumed leadership of the business while the old fool petted and pampered her. We were little more than teenagers at the time."
Violet suddenly felt pity for her half-brother who had been deprived of his father's guidance when he needed it most. "James, I am so sorry to be the cause of your suffering."
"Too little, much too late dear sister," he sighed. "I wanted to be rid of you as soon as Father was placed in his grave, but Henry would hear nothing of it. He doted on you and begged me to keep the three of us together as a family."
The memory of being in sitting room with two men came to mind once more. Because of Henry, the three of them had stayed together. Her half brothers raised her. "You yielded to Henry's request. Why?"
"I yielded because I loved my little brother more than anyone else in this world. I had to look out for him. He was not the smartest person God ever made. Even though he grieved Father's death, he was more concerned for his baby sister's welfare."
Tears welled in Violet's eyes and spilled out on her cheeks. Her heart ached for the parents she never knew and a brother she barely remembered. There was so much more she wanted to know, but she feared pushing James beyond the limits of his patience. What could she do? If she fabricated an answer, he would most likely see through it as a lie.
The young woman decided to stall for more time by making what she thought was a reasonable request, given the frigid weather and the unheated building they were in. "James, could we have some tea? It's so very cold in here."
Daniel spat on the floor and growled at her, "Where do you think you are- Buckingham Palace? Don't have no tea. Do have this." He thrust a silver flask at her. "Drink some of this. It'll warm you up."
She looked at James to see if he would intervene and give her what she asked for. His response was, "Take a drink of what's in that flask. That's all we've got. Hurry up and drink up."
Violet took the flask from Daniel and uncapped it. Her stomach roiled at the thought of drinking after Daniel Rutledge. He was a dirty man both inside and out. Closing her eyes, she took a sip and swallowed the liquid with great difficulty. It was some sort of cheap whiskey, worlds away from the whiskey Sherlock Holmes kept on his sideboard. She coughed and sputtered as the foul stuff made its burning way down her throat.
Rutledge laughed with delight at her misfortune and received a blow from James that sent him reeling across the room. He staggered back to where his partner was standing and asked, "Jimmy, why did you do that? Seems like you do care about your little sister after all."
Inside James Carlisle there was a war going on. Part of him wanted nothing more than to be rid of Violet to make sure she never revealed his secrets; the other part felt some obligation towards her as his sister and the one remaining relative he had. Did he truly care about her after all the trouble she had caused in his life? He shook his head at the thought and immediately dismissed it. All this "feeling" was a waste of time!
"Danny boy, just keep your trap shut!" he hissed at his companion.
"Alright Jimmy, I'll shut up. Now can we get on with this?" He was growing tired of James' blows and just wanted to find out if the girl knew anything about what he and the Carlisle men had been plotting and planning for so long.
Weary from pursuing Violet across the ocean, James just wanted this to be over. After his sister told him what she knew, he would have Daniel dispatch her quickly. The last of the Carlisle men pushed away the voice of his conscience- he would not allow her to destroy all he had worked for so many years by revealing it to the authorities in America or England.
It was late afternoon and already growing dark. Constable Brown had made a diligent search of the area that Holmes had entrusted to him and had found nothing. He was discouraged at not being able to locate her. Violet's safety was his utmost concern and it made him heart sick to think of what might have happened to her at the hands of the men who took her away from Baker Street. It made him sad indeed to think that he might not have the opportunity to tell her of his feelings for her.
As he made his way back to Sherlock Holmes' dwelling, Constable Brown saw something or rather someone that made his heart leap. A young woman stood on the sidewalk talking to an elderly gentleman. Although her back was facing the policeman, he was sure it was Violet. The woman's hair was tied back with a ribbon in the fashion preferred by Violet. He quietly spoke to her, "Excuse me Miss."
"Yes?" When the woman turned around to face him, it was clear that he had been mistaken.
He touched his cap and mumbled, "Beg your pardon. I thought you were someone else." The young woman nodded and turned back to continue talking with her companion. Constable Brown quickly resumed his journey back to Baker Street, disappointed and heart sick. He could only hope and pray that Sherlock Holmes had met with success and had found Violet.
Hoping that Violet would soon be found, Andrew Brown vowed that he would ask permission from Mr. Holmes to court her. He was not a praying man, but the police constable sent up a fervent prayer to Heaven that she would return to Baker Street safe and sound.
How long will Violet be able to avoid telling her half brother that she knows nothing of any importance to tell him and why is it so important to him for her to reveal what he thinks she knows? He is battling with his conscience, but he seems able to push it away. Will Violet come to harm because of it?
Thank you Dear Readers for your continuing support!