Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)
Holmes had warned us to be vigilant in our journeys to Drury Lane, so I took a roundabout route, cutting along Great Russell Street, into Adeline Place and along Bedford Avenue, bringing me out at the British Museum. Then, crossing into a narrow lane which I knew would take me into Streatham Street, I ran headlong into an old friend.
“Ooh, you’re a tasty bit ‘o stuff, ain’t yer, my girl,” he gushed, beery breath belching into my face. “Why not come back wiv me ter my place and I’ll show yer what I keeps in me trousers?”
I had a mind to reveal my identity to the artful Mr Sikes, knowing he’d shit his pants on realising his indiscretion, but given his inebriated condition, he might well blab about the encounter in the nearest boozer. With Blackwood’s men everywhere, it wasn’t worth the risk.
“Well then, me dearie?” he muttered, grabbing my wrist. “What’s it to be?” As he endeavoured to pull me into a drunken embrace, I brought my knee up, swiftly crushing his enthusiasm and leaving the poor man clutching damaged goods.
Scurrying past the midday crowds, I ducked into another lane around the back to The Old Crown and then turned right.
If I’d taken a minute to assess my surroundings, I might have avoided my next encounter, but instead, I pushed on, forcing my way through a group of workmen who’d stopped to help an old man who’d tripped over a dog. As I stepped aside to avoid the group, I caught my skirt on the broken-down cart, pulling it up and giving all and sundry an eyeful of my bare legs. One of the men moved away from the others and, placing himself in my path, grabbed hold of my shawl.
“I’d know those pins anywhere,” he said, pulling me closer.
Looking up into his face, I heard myself gasp. “Oh, shit…”
“Oh, shit indeed,” said the newcomer. “I reckon you’d better come along with me.”
As he tried to drag me away from the crowd, I allowed my legs to give way, dropping to the ground.
Bending over me, he brought his bearded face down to my level. Holding out his free hand, he carefully angled his wrist away, revealing the barrel of a pistol. The weapon had been strapped to his arm, no doubt fitted with a quick-fire mechanism that could do a lot of damage with a simple flick of the wrist.
“Do as you’re told, Mary Watson, cos I’d be more than happy to blow your bloody face off.”
I gave him a brief nod. Colonel Sebastian Moran had a reputation as a crack shot. This wasn’t the time for bravery.
Moments later, we were striding off in the opposite direction to my intended destination. Whatever Moran’s intentions, I had to get away, but a niggling doubt sprang into my head—what if this were no accidental encounter?
As we reached the next corner, Moran nodded to a waiting cabbie and the Hackney manoeuvred across the street. The door opened and—as if I needed any further surprises—another familiar face looked out.
“We meet again, Mrs Wonky-Eye Watson,” said the woman.
A sinking sensation churned my stomach, but I had no intention of allowing anyone to see how scared I felt. “Still got a face like a prolapsed anus, then?”
Formerly of the Ullswater Institute for the Utterly Indisposed and more recently seen during our adventure on Huge Island, Mathilda Ratched glared at Moran. “How does she know about my anus?”
Moran rolled his eyes. “She’s teasing you, Maudie. Ignore her and think about all the lovely things you’ll be able to do when she’s tied to the rack, stark naked and ripe for…” He winked at me. “Well, ripe for all sorts.”
The vile pair cackled in unison and were still laughing as the cab juddered into motion and set off towards whatever horrible fate awaited me.