Hammersmith: A Prisoner Goes Missing (part two)
A Prisoner Goes Missing
The professor had ferried Minnie into his arms. “Here’s your gal…you take good care of her, mister. And I’ll just say adios.”
To himself, Shaw could admit a five-second reverie of chucking it all. Why not tell Medlow, “Blame me. I let him get away.”
In the way of a fisherman, who hangs his field glasses on an overhanging limb, stops to jot a few notes on his subject, looks up to discover his boat drifted, the glasses just out of reach, fumbles after them, knocks his memo-book into the water, upends his rod digging for his net…
Or, in terms of broader application, in the way of a man with a woman in his arms, jostled by a crowd…
“What now? Are we all going up to the factory?”
Curach had answered Minnie, “I’ll go up. The young fellow can see Miss Magley and yourself home.”
He nodded at Carey Littler, sunk to the ground and rubbing a foot. A backwash of noncombatants had burst; and this flotsam, of Shaw, Curach, their prisoner, Minnie and her singers, were left behind at the high tide mark.
Uphill, the insurgents surged, their riotous way with McKeefe’s property proving an hors d’oeuvre to the main course.
“And then I might just bring the professor along with me. I know Zetland…”
Capable, Shaw himself knew this much of Zetland, of spiriting away a confederate. Something in a nature born to simple attachments kept Shaw’s fingers tight on Le Fontainebleau’s coat sleeve.
“No. Best if you take charge of the women, Curach. Professor, you’re in custody. There’s no adios about it. Minnie, that is, Miss Leybourne…”
“Gracious, Bladon, Charley knows my name is Minnie! We’ve been on terms for hours.”
The sheriff and his men had gathered and gone. They were short-handed, with two deputies riding different routes (to be safe), carrying duplicates of a signed affirmation that the telegram summoning the militia was no joke.
“McKeefe! You got a barman?”
“Well… You got someone who sweeps your floor?” Shaw cast an eye over his shoulder, at shattered glass and legless tabletops.
“Counting me. What you need a man for?”
“What I need is a room. I heard you have an attic you let…”
A noise like fi escaped McKeefe’s lips; then, thinking better, he said, “Ten bucks.”
Shaw’s simple plan had been to get the professor alone, to hash through with him all they had officially discussed. He would at least fix these things in his own mind, if not the prisoner’s.
A Prisoner Goes Missing
(2019, Stephanie Foster)