The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 23 - Lady Featherdale Gives Evidence
"PEOPLE WHO KNOW nothing always say the most," said Rozinshura. He leaned on the bar and looked over his notes, then looked up at Lady Featherdale, and the valet, whose name was Evans. "You two have said nothing, so you must know everything."
"We've been busy," protested Lady Featherdale.
"Pouring bad brandy into the good bottles," said Rozinshura.
"No one noticed the difference," she replied, exchanging a guilty look with Evans. "And I'm sure you have a better use for such good brandy!"
"I think you are Awarshi," said Rozinshura. "I should call you kinchin."
"Thank you. Might I ask, what does kinchin mean, exactly?"
"It means cousin. Everything is family in Awarshawa. Is why we fight so much."
Rozinshura smiled and made his way around the bar to speak with them more privately. He settled on a stool and got down to business:
"I am told that you two rescued the ambassador."
"We can hardly take credit for that, sir," said Evans. "We simply dragged him along when we escaped."
"Do you think the bandits were there to kidnap him?"
"I've no idea," said Lady Featherdale. "But they were looking for specific people. They had a list."
"I heard them ask for the baroness," added Evans.
"That's right," said the lady. "That's when poor Miss Vilthrop stood up. She answered them as if she were the baroness, and that distracted them. We would not have escaped if it hadn't been for her."
Rozinshura flipped some pages on his notes. "Miss Vilthrop is the paid companion of Lady Blinkersley?"
"Yes, and normally she's such a quiet, sheltered little mouse," said Lady Featherdale. "Who knew what fortitude she had inside?"
"The baronessa...is she a diplomat too? Perhaps she carries secrets?"
"Hardly! She's just a wild young twit with scads of money," said Lady Featherdale. "She wasn't even supposed to be on the train. She'd run off with some dance instructor. Her cousins tracked her down, and Lord Blinkersley volunteered to bring them back. I expect that the bandits wanted her for the ransom."
"But she wasn't supposed to be there. How did the bandits know?"
"Gossip, I suppose."
Gossip, or spies, thought Rozinshura. Was there a difference? Opportunists trade in such information.
At this point the blootchkes arrived, and Evans stepped out to snag a plate from the roving waiter. Rozinshura looked at his notes for a moment.
This story seemed to account for Miss Vilthrop and the baroness: they were taken by the bandits. But there were still two men unaccounted for. Winslow Argoss and Charles Emmett -- both diplomatic undersecretaries. One old, one young. A professor and a student? A drunk and a spy?
"Did you see if Mr. Argoss and Mr. Emmett were taken by the bandits as well?"
"I didn't see it, but they were at the other end of the car with the baroness." Lady Featherdale looked at Evans, who nodded in agreement.
"Do you know Winslow Argoss?"
"Not as well as Lord Blinkersley does," said Lady Featherdale.
"I spoke to him..."
"And he wouldn't talk?"
"I think my questions were too indiscrete," said Rozinshura.
"Goodness, what were they?"
"Did Argoss carry secret documents, would he be drunk, and would he give a false name?"
"And his lordship said 'None of your beeswax!'" said Lady Featherdale. "Well, I wouldn't know about the secrets or false names, but Winston Argoss would never be drunk. He's teetotal."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am sure. Why are you asking?"
Rozinshura took a deep breath
"We ... have a drunken man who has no papers. We should arrest him, but I think he is from the wreck, and he fits the description of Mr. Argoss."
"I see," said Lady Featherdale with growing concern. "He's an old man. Are you sure he's not just in shock?"
"If he is in shock, he is assuredly also drunk."
"That doesn't sound like Argoss."
"There is nobody else it could be," said Rozinshura. "Lady Featherdale, would you to look at him and say if you know him?"
"Gladly," she said, so he pulled himself to his feet and led the way to the kitchen....
Stay Tuned for Episode Twenty-Four: "Action in the Alcove"
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