The Falling Curtain (The Assassination of Sherlock Holmes Book 3)

The Falling Curtain (The Assassination of Sherlock Holmes Book 3) by Craig Janacek Read Free Book Online

Book: The Falling Curtain (The Assassination of Sherlock Holmes Book 3) by Craig Janacek Read Free Book Online
Authors: Craig Janacek
incapacitated. I will utilize one of the disguises that you did not record in your adventures, perhaps that of a Southwark costermonger looking for new wares. Mortlock will not be expecting that.”
    “Do you think this course of action wise in your current condition? You only recently received several serious blows to the head. What if you are set upon again?”
    “I think it a reasonable risk, Watson. Mr. Mortlock has proved to be a man of many resources, but he cannot be everywhere and see everything. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve that will permit me to avoid being followed.”
    “Very well,” I acquiesced.
    Holmes bade farewell to Inspector MacDonald, promising to wire if he learned anything of note and vanished to his room. When he returned, he was wearing the apron, cap, silk neckerchief, and bright yellow, pointed boots that typified the guise of a costermonger. I shook my head in mild disproval of his premature stirrings before his body was fully healed. “Take care, Holmes. If the police see a man dressed in an outfit like that poking around a burned house they will assume you are a looter. Inspector MacDonald may not have considered you a suspect, but you might still see the inside of a Bow Street cell before the day is done.”
    Holmes laughed sharply. “I will take care to avoid notice both official and unofficial, such as those posted by our friend Mortlock.” He paused and grinned at me. “Mr. Mac is as fine a detective as can be found in the C.I.D., but he is far too trusting. For I have upon occasion been forced to veer outside the narrow scope of the law in order to right a greater injustice. Do you not recall, Watson, the odious tale of Charles Augustus Milverton, or the repulsive story of the Red Leech?”
    “I prefer not to think of them, Holmes. For the one almost landed me in the clink, while the other…” I could not find the words.
    “Yes, of course, say no more of it, Watson.” He clasped my hand and vanished out of the door.
    §
    Despite the fact that Holmes did not see the hand of Professor Moriarty in this elaborate plot against him, I was less certain. This suspicion led my feet in the direction of the close-by Trafalgar Square. I knew that within the hallowed walls of the National Gallery lay an item once inexorably linked to the evil Professor.
    The neo-classical building appeared like a Greek temple that had developed massive arms projecting off to the sides, and it dominated the northern elevation of the square. I climbed the grey steps up to its porticoed entrance and once inside, I obtained a map from the information stand. I studied it for the most probable location of works by late 18th Century French artists. Making my spot, I ascended to the upper level and made my way to a room in the far eastern corner of the building. There on the south wall, past several fine works by Corot and Bouguereau, I found the painting that I sought. It depicted a young woman, with her head on her hands, peering sideways out at me. She wore a translucent shawl, part of which formed a halo over her dark curls, while a cloudy sky sweltered in the background. It was a most lovely composition by an obvious master.
    “‘ La Jeune Fille ,’ by Jean Baptiste Greuze,” said a voice near my right shoulder.
    I turned and found a man gazing expectantly at me. He was a small, balding man of about fifty years. His face was pleasant, though his eyes were much wrinkled, as if permanently affected by great periods of time spent squinting closely at objects. He wore a modest brown suit with a neat bow tie.
    The man smiled benignly and spoke again. “I am most sorry to bother you, sir, but I thought I recognized you from your likenesses in The Strand . You are Dr. Watson, are you not? I am Joshua Goldfield, the Assistant Curator of the Gallery.”
    “I am sir,” I replied, somewhat flattered that a portion of Holmes’ deserved fame had brushed off onto me.
    “If I may ask, Dr. Watson, are you

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