Sometimes, when the bullet-fragment lodged in my hip begins to hurt beyond human endurance, there’s nothing for it but to sip the laudanum and sit down to ponder. Damn those Tuaregs.
The wind was picking up and the ivy tapped at my study window like a bent old crone seeking alms as I pulled the chair close to my escritoire, and resumed my latest monograph on the typographical peculiarities of Remington typewriters, when the phone, fashioned from a hollowed-out raven, rang.
Ring-ring! Ring-ring! Ring-ring!
I could tell in a trice who it was, by observing the hour of night — a time when all good men are abed, apart from those such as myself, and the brute I now suspected was calling..
I lifted the device from its cradle. Hello, Dick, I greeted him.
Crikey, Guv, rasped the villain, for it was he. Limehouse Dick. How do you do it? Eh? Strike me pink.
Simple, I indulged him. Even for a dolt such as yourself, this is elementary. First, the hour is past midnight, when no decent man is awake, except he be engaged in worthy study, as I am myself. Second, times are hard, and scoundrels are short of a shilling. Third, ’tis but a week shy of the Munster-Castres match at Thomond Park. And therefore, I deduce that you call with news of tickets.
‘Deed I do, Squire. ‘Deed I do.
What can you offer? I demanded. Come on. Come on. I’m a busy man.
Best I can manage, Squire, is two tickets for the East terrace.
Splendid, I said. So much better than those ludicrous seated vantage points in the oddly-named “stand”.
It’ll cost ya, Guv. These things is like ‘ens teeth.
A mere trifle, my good man. I’ll send old Scrotum, my butler, into town in the Bentley with a bag of sovereigns.
Are you feelin’ all right? Last time we talked tickets, you threw me out the window. I was in hospital for three months.
Perfectly well, Dick. Thank you for asking. I’ll tell Scrotum to tip you handsomely.
Pressing the raven’s beak, I hung up and left Limehouse Dick to his bafflement. It pays to keep the villains guessing.