The Affair of the Dartymuir Dog. Part Eight

The adventures of Piglock Homes and his sidekick Doctor Bearson.

As the little train rattled busily through the countryside, the sun made its lazy way over the horizon and by the time they reached Ashbaconton it was well on its way to being fully dark.
The engine huffed importantly as it bustled into the station, before whistling once and subsiding into steamy hissy stillness.
“What do we do with the hamper, old chap?”
“Leave it here. I will be transported back from whence it came. But by all means remove the linen bag you will perceive beneath the scone crumbs and the empty jam and cream pots. It contains a little light supper for later.”
Bearson did as his small friend recommended, although even he thought the bag heavy for a light supper. Being wise to Homes, he made no comment merely lifting the bag by its convenient handles.
Outside the station, a uniformed constable awaited them, beside a high-wheeled gig. The gig was shining in the yellow light that streamed out of the station, and the horse in the shafts was equally well turned out. But neither of those things were what had Bearson’s jaw drop until it bounced against his cravat. No. It was the person who sat at ease on the driver’s seat, with the reins held in sensibly gloved hands. It was a woman. A woman dressed in male clothing and obviously intending to drive three male creatures across Dartymuir in the darkness. Yore stopped in his tracks.
“What is this?”
“Your conveyance,” the constable spoke woodenly.
“But. But.”
The female woman laughed, it was a soft musical sound oddly at variance with her sturdily masculine appearance. Her voice when she spoke was educated, and lacked the strangely rounded vowels of the local patois.
“If you want to get to the Fan of Feathers tonight, myself and Artos here are your only option.”
Homes strode over the the carriage and looked up at the driver. Something passed between the pig and the human woman, and he smiled. He bowed in the grand manner.
“Very well, madam. We are in your hands.”
Bearson decided that now was not the time for argumentification. He gently placed the linen bag in the footwell before climbing aboard. He too bowed to the driver.
“Aloysius Bearson at your service ma’am.”
The woman laughed again. “Pleased to meet you, Doctor Bearson.”
While he was trying to figure out how she knew he was a doctor, Bearson busied himself stowing away the bag and hauling Homes up into the high carriage.
Yore still stood as if transfixed and Holmes leaned over the side of the gig.
“Come along, Yore. We don’t have all night. We need to be out on the muir when the sun rises.”
Yore literally shook himself so hard that spume flew from his lips. He fixed the constable with a glare.
“You need not think you’ve heard the last of this.”
“Leave the poor man alone. I doubt that candidates to drive across the high muir in darkness are in abundance.”
Yore made a very rude noise with his bottom before climbing aboard, still grumbling beneath his breath. When he was settled in his seat, the woman looked around and the yellow light from the station lanterns illuminated her face Bearson was struck by her beauty and the refinement of her features.
“By gad,” he muttered. “I wonder who you are my proud beauty.”
Homes put a trotter to his lips and Bearson subsided.
“I think we are ready to proceed.” Homes was scrupulously polite.
The woman chucked to her horse and the gig moved steadily away from the lights of the station up the darkening hill that led to the heather-clad soughing uplands of Dartymuir.

Piglock Homes and his sidekick Doctor Bearson will continue their investigation into The Affair of the Dartymuir Dog next week

Jane Jago

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