The Upturned Trolley – Part 2
Lithgow, New South Wales
Continued from yesterday …
He walked past Dr Jekyll again and with a barely noticeable gesture, dropped the gold watch back into the good doctor’s pocket. He gave young Anne a wide snaggle-toothed grin and said, ‘Nobody has ever called Fagin entirely wicked.’ He walked away, followed by a group of little boys.
Over near the bookshelves a kindly looking gentleman was in conversation with a slender, lively young girl. They were approached by a man wearing a deer-stalker cap. ‘Ah, there you are, Watson,’ said the man.
‘Yes, Holmes, I have been in conversation with this charming young lady,’ Watson replied. ‘I have been telling her about your prowess in solving crime. She is interested in mystery stories, in fact, stories of all kinds.’
The girl took hold of Holmes’s hand and gave it a hearty handshake.
Watson continued, ‘I have told her of your ability to deduce much about a person on first appearance.’
‘Indeed,’ replied Holmes. He raised his cap politely and said. ‘My dear young lady, I have noticed a great deal. I heard you talking with Watson here and I suspect you are from the United States of America. I would suggest from one of the easterly states.’
‘Well, I declare,’ the girl replied with a chuckle. ‘But that’s all you would know.’
Holmes continued, ‘There is much more. You are an unusual type of young lady. I believe your family to be respectable, but sadly, perhaps not affluent at this time.’
‘That’s true,’ the young woman said with surprise, ‘but how could you possibly know that? Please tell me more.’
Holmes went on, ‘Your gown is charming but slightly faded and it has been neatly mended in several places. Your hair interests me also. It is beautifully brown and glossy but I’m sorry to say unfashionably short. My dear young lady, you care little for fashion and I suspect you have bravely sold your long hair to assist your family. I also believe you are too busy writing something to waste time on vanity.’
The girl glanced at her ink-stained fingers. ‘I declare you are a genius,’ she exclaimed. ‘Vanity and fashion do not appeal to me as greatly as they do to my three sisters. My name is Josephine March and I spend a lot of time writing. I aim to be a famous authoress one day.’
They were interrupted by raised voices. ‘Oh look! Look!’ exclaimed Jo March.
Near the top of the eight steps there was a disturbance. Dr Jekyll was stooping and turning. He turned in a full circle and when he stood up his genial face was contorting into an ugly expression of hatred, causing everyone to gasp. Some actually cried out in fear.
‘Dr Jekyll, please be calm,’ someone said, but Jekyll cried out, ‘I am not Jekyll. My name is Hyde and I hate you all.’
He began to wave his walking stick like a weapon. He strode among the crowd, barely missing people with the dangerous walking stick. The Misses Bennett, Jane and Elizabeth, clung to each other for protection. They said to Fagin’s boys, ‘Run, children, run.’
Dr Watson called out, ‘Scoundrel! Scoundrel!’ and ran towards Hyde.
The boys and young Anne from Prince Edward Island ran down the steps and others in the crowd hid behind bookshelves. The once friendly group became a melee of frightened people.
Ishmael leapt at Hyde, caught him and held him in a headlock. Fagin, although not the most muscular of men, attempted to wrest the walking stick from Hyde. Dr Watson lunged towards Hyde, Fagin and Ishmael and in doing so overbalanced and the group of men tumbled down the steps with the threatening walking stick being flung onto the floor.
‘You are a hero,’ cried Jo March to Ishmael.
‘Not really. He ain’t as big as a whale,’ said Ishmael modestly.
Suddenly the library door opened and Terence, holding Melissa’s hand, walked in. ‘I’m glad you talked me into this,’ he said. ‘I know I should have done it before but I didn’t want to keep you waiting. I thought you might be gone by the time I got there.’
Melissa gave him a reassuring smile. ‘I’d wait for you forever. Come on. I’ll help you tidy up.’
Terence pulled the trolley to the top of the steps where it belonged. Together they gathered up the books and stacked them side by side on the trolley, ready to be shelved the next day.
Melissa bent down and said, ‘Oh, look at this. I’ve found something.’ She picked up a walking stick that was lying on the carpet.
Terence said, ‘I’ve never seen that before. Isn’t it a beauty?’ He ran his hands over the highly polished timber. ‘It’s heavy. You could do some damage if you hit someone with this. I’ll put it in the lost property box with the glasses and pens we find.’
They left the walking stick in the box under the counter near the entrance. Hand in hand they walked out, being sure to turn on the security, switch off the lights and lock the door.
The library remained dark, silent and, as always, beautifully organised.
Bio: Winsome tells us that this story was inspired by her love of reading and of great books. Winsome Smith’s book of short stories, Tales the Laundress Told, is available online at Amazon and Balboa Press as well as at A Reader’s Heaven on the corner of Mort and Eskbank St, Lithgow.