Wednesday, 22 January 2014

II: The Sending of a Telegram and Visiting the Baron Charles Segovia's Rooms in Newcastle

You head into Rothbury by horse and cart, driven by one of the Reverend's servants. It is a short journey, and from there you head to the post office to send your telegram. The woman at the post office tells you to call back tomorrow afternoon or the day after, when you may have your reply.

You then go to the station for the train to Newcastle, and arrive in the city in the mid-afternoon. The Baron of Segovia's residence is in the heart of Newcastle, in a large apartment with a doorman. On announcing yourselves to the doorman, he goes inside and reappears some minutes later: "The Baron would be delighted to see you," he says, although he somehow conveys the impression that the Baron actually would be anything but.



You are ushered inside and invited by the Baron's butler, Smith, into a plush sitting room with a log fire. A few moments later the Baron himself appears - a small, rather shrivelled man with squinty eyes and pince-nez. "Ah, delighted, delighted..." He says, knowing each of you. "To what do I owe the pleasure? And please, Smith, bring these gentlemen a drink. Brandy, sirs? Sherry?"

37 comments:

  1. "I will take a brandy, thank you" - And turning to the Baron "Greetings Your Lordship. How are you keeping"

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  2. What sort of brandy is it? I mean to say: tell me, and then, whatever it is, fetch it and I will drink it.
    (Whispers to others "WHY ARE WE HERE AGAIN?")

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  3. The Baron blinks, glances.... Then looks back at the Reverend. "Very well, my good man, very well. I... What brings you to my humble abode?" (Drinks appear and are served by Smith. Like any good butler, you barely notice him.)

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  4. "I suppose a small sherry would be nice, thank you Smith."

    [DMcG: Hodgkiss wants to take casually look around and see if anything stands out to him or seems out of place. How do I go about doing that, other than putting it in square brackets here? Is a roll called for? I might slip out to the WC and "get lost" finding it.]

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  5. "Mmmmbrandy, thank you," Wilmot stage-whispers "'slordship's daughter's gone a bit funny over a picture. Sounds like a case of fetishism to me."

    WIlmot, suddenly aware that they've all shown up mob-handed to talk about the Baron's intimate family concerns, abruptly becomes _extremely fascinated_ by a snuff box or other trinket, waiting for the Reverend to take the lead.

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  6. Claspington uses his culinary expertise (real or imagined) to hold forth at length on the quality of the various proffered beverages, attempting to either bore his hosts into revealing their present state of mind and/or distracting them enough for other fellows present to enact subterfuges of their own design.

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  7. "My lord, perhaps we should speak a little more privately. Without... my entourage. Although I'm sure their collective expertise could help with your... family issue"

    (Motions the Baron to join him slightly away from the others)

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  8. Kitson stares at the pictures on the walls, looking for the Artists names. He tilts his head to read the spine of the Barons books (If there are any there)

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  9. [Hodgkiss, Brindleton, and Kitson peruse the room while Claspington holds forth about the brandy. The distraction proves enough to allow them all to get a decent look around the room. There is nothing necessarily untoward, although Kitson notices an unusual painting by an artist named Defernex; it depicts an ordinary farmyard scene, but the sun - which just covers a small part of the upper right hand corner - is painted in a strangely vivid yellowish green. It is certainly eye-catching. The Baron's books, in this room at least, are typical novels of the day and contemporary classics by Dickens, Hardy, etc.

    Hodgkiss asks Smith for the WC and is given directions. He leaves the room and finds himself in a corridor. On the right hand side are windows looking out on the street. On the left are three doors. The last of these is the WC. At the end of the corridor is a staircase going up.]

    The Reverend and the Baron step aside. At the words "family issue" the Baron's eyes widen very slightly. "Yes, indeed. Privately." He motions to his butler Smith to keep the rest of you in hospitality while he draws Foxworth into a side room - the drawing room. Immediately his demeanour changes. "Now. My... 'family issue' as you put it. What have you heard? Tell me!"

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  10. Hodgkiss looks back down the corridor, and assuming that it is empty he heads upstairs.

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  11. "Brindleton, Claspington, what do you make of this painting? This fellow 'Defernex' is that french? A nom de plume?"

    Kitson looks around to make sure they are undisturbed and takes the painting off the wall to look at the back.

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  12. Hodgkiss goes upstairs. At the top of the stairs is a landing where the stairs curl back on themselves and continue upwards. To the right, a window looking out onto the street. In front and to the left, doors.

    [I'm going to assume Kitson looks at the painting when the butler is out of the room fetching a drink or whatever.]

    On the back of the picture is a phrase in what looks like Arabic. Do any of you speak it?

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    1. Dammit, I have Hindi, Swahili and Madarin but I never served in the middle east.

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    2. Saw some in the Afghan business, never got further than "imshee" and "baksheesh." But. I can copy it down well enough and we'll take it to an old Aden hand I know toot sweet.

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    3. [actually if you have Swahili you can probably take a good stab at Arabic. They're fairly similar/Swahili has a lot of Arabic loan words and is sometimes written with Arabic characters]

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  13. "My lord, I'm visiting in a Pastoral capacity. I had heard that your daughter might be unwell in spirit. I mean no disrespect to your family by showing up here unannounced. I only seek to provide spiritual succor to all in my parish"

    Foxworth examines the drawing room as he speaks, looking for anything remiss.

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    1. The Baron becomes somewhat less defensive on that reply. "Yes. Yes, you are right, of course. And it is absolutely correct to be discrete. Absolutely correct." He takes Foxworth by the elbow. "Reverend. My daughter has... She has become impossible. But first, you must swear to secrecy. Her condition - it must not become widely known."

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    2. "My lord, I am the model of discretion. I won't speak to a soul about this. Although my companions from the Grey Society are well travelled souls and have dealt with many unusual circumstances and they may well have ideas that we lack. Perhaps it is best that I speak to your daughter privately first though? If you'd be so kind as to show me to her..."

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    3. The Baron nods. "Yes. I must warn you to prepare yourself. My daughter's appearance..." He chokes off the sentence and then leads you back into the room where the others are gathered. "Please forgive me, gentlemen," The Baron says hastily. "The Reverend and I have a private matter to discuss." He then gestures for Foxworth to follow and heads out, going towards the stairs.... Where Hodgkiss is currently engaged in snooping around.

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  14. Hodgkiss listens at both of the doors.

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    1. There is no sound coming from behind either door that you can discern.

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    2. Hodgkiss cautiously taps on one with the top of his cane, "He-hello?"

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    3. Hodgkiss opens the door onto an empty, dark room. It looks like a sitting room of some kind, with a few dark shapes indicating furniture and so forth.

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    4. See above. Hodgkiss suddenly hears a door open downstairs and then footsteps heading in his direction.

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    5. At the noise, Hodgkiss quietly closes the door behind him and steps carefully around the furniture, looking for signs of recent disturbance or anything suspicious. [Does he see anything?] He keeps an eye trained on the door and sits in a chair holding his head in his hands.

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  15. Kitson notes down a copy of the arabic script

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  16. Claspington will attempt to use his Botany and Outdoor Survival skills to determine how plausible the landscape, weather, flora and fauna of the painting are, if a particular location can be determined. I will likewise copy down the arabic script, in the hopes our mistakes may cancel each other out, come translation time.

    If anyone who might know appears, I will inquire as to its provenance.

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  17. (the painting's provenance, that is)

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  18. Claspington can't really determine the location, although he thinks France or Italy is a good bet.

    Just as Kitson and Claspington are noting down the script, Smith, the butler, reappears. He stops and fixes you both with a stony expression, clearly not amused at discovering you snooping, but too impeccably polite to raise a fuss. "Gentlemen. You appear to be curious about the painting."

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    1. We are indeed--MAGNIFicent SPECimen my good man. I would pay a CONSIDerable FINders fee for a work of such quality--have you ANY idea where it was purchased?

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    2. Smith nods and says, "Yes, a compelling piece is it not...?" You think you notice a flash of...some sort of emotion....pass behind his eyes as he says this, before his icy cool butler exterior takes over again. "It is by Jean-Baptiste Defernex. A French artist who lives in the Rhone, I believe. His Lordship bought it and some other pieces on a recent trip."

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    3. I have seen…similar works…in the past. I am eager to discuss them in…quieter circumstances with those who _truly_ appreciate art.
      While I wear the cap and cloth of a gentlemen (quieter) I am in truth a chef and, indeed, by birth and inclination a "downstairs man". I can see you are a clever fellow.

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    4. He seems to accept this. "Are you a collector?"

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  19. Kiston calls out to the men leaving the room "Oh, and see if you can scare up Hodgkiss anywhere, fellow wandered off looking for the toilet and has no doubt become lost. Bloody fool got trapped in his own study once."

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