Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson
Word Count: 830
Note 1: July 4th 2017 prompt:: To the Makeup Table! Focus on Holmes and/or Watson in disguise – for
a case, or for any other reason. See end for more notes.
Holmes was absent when I returned to Baker Street late that evening from my club. In his place, I found a note neatly placed on my desk, and addressed to me in his distinctive handwriting:
My dear Watson,
I know your hunting-kit is still upstairs in the box room. Can I trouble you to wear it tomorrow morning? You will find a cab waiting at the curb at 8am. The driver knows your destination; the lady who awaits you there will tell you all you need to know. We have an appointment on Rotten Row tomorrow.
"Infuriating man," I muttered as I trudged upstairs to unearth the requested clothing. Although like any Army officer, I could ride a horse and even, I fancied, cut a respectable figure in the hunting-field if required, I had no great love of the sport. Holmes, I knew, rode like a centaur - a legacy, no doubt, of that country boyhood about which he never spoke. Although I was fairly certain everything would still fit, making sure I was presentable to appear in Hyde Park by early morning was likely to require considerable effort on the part of both Mrs Hudson and myself.
Mrs Hudson did sigh and roll her eyes heavenward when I presented my request for help, along with my sorely creased and wrinkled clothing, which smelled strongly of mothballs. She sent Brigit scurrying off to iron my shirt and stock tie, while Billy pounced my hat, and I applied myself diligently to my top boots.
All was in readiness by morning as I descended the stairs feeling faintly foolish, togged out as I was in my riding kit in the heart of London.
"Oh, Dr Watson," Brigit said, "you look ever so nice, just like a proper toff."
"Indeed you do, Doctor," Mrs Hudson agreed as she brushed an imaginary speck of dust off my shoulder. Thus reassured, I clapped my now shiny top hat on my head, and descended the steps, to find the promised cab awaiting me.
We clattered off South in the direction of Hyde Park, but instead of continuing to the park entrance, we veered off towards Mayfair and pulled up in front of an imposing town house. "'Ere you go, guv, d'livered to the door." said the cabman with a flourish of his whip.
As I uncertainly ascended the steps, the door was whisked open as if by magic and I was ushered in by a liveried footman. A butler appeared from nowhere and took my hat and gloves, murmuring "There is coffee on the sideboard in the dining room, sir" as he opened the door for me.
Since there was still no sign of Holmes, I had just helped myself to coffee when the door opened behind me and a tall, dark haired woman came in. She was wearing one of the new, modern safety habits which had just been introduced, I saw. In place of the conventional flowing skirts, she was wearing a so-called "apron" skirt, which - daringly - exposed her neat navy breeches and boots to the knee, wrapping in some intricate manner I could not discern, which I presumed could open up to look like a conventional skirt when mounted.
Her coat fitted her slender, shapely figure perfectly and the frothy lace of her cravat accented her dark hair and the flashing grey eyes behind her neat veil. A gleaming top hat was perched on top of her raven curls. I nearly dropped my cup at the sight of those eyes. "Great Heavens, Holmes," I exclaimed, "I suppose I should have expected you would do something like this."
"Shhh," he said, darting forward to kiss me on both cheeks in the French fashion. "For today, I am Madamoiselle Simone Delacourt, a great friend of Lord and Lady D'Aubigny, whose house this is and you are my escort - let me see - shall we give you a title?" At my horrified look, he continued smoothly "…or perhaps not. You always have the unmistakable bearing of a military man. You shall be Captain Ponsonby, I think, late of Her Majesty's Indian Army. Yes, that should do nicely Now, come along mon cher Jean, we mustn't be late," he continued.
He paused for a moment in front of the pier glass to adjust his top hat to a more fetching angle and took my arm. I found myself propelled down the steps whilst Holmes - Simone - chattered away in French. Outside, I found not the horses I had expected, but a neat open laundau with a matched pair of bays driven by a postillion.
"But you cannot expect us to ride through London," Holmes said to me sotto voce. "How terribly déclassé. The horses have been brought 'round to the Row, while James will drive us there."
Automatically, I handed him - her- into the landau and we were off.TBC...
A/N: There will be more to this one, - whether for the JWP round or later. I promise.
For some reason, the first email try came back. The address on my second try looked exactly the same to me, but it appears to have gone through. Another of those unexplained mysteries of the internet, I guess.