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A Meeting of Minds

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This story is No. 6 in the series "Saintly Matters". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When Simon Templar is pardoned for his crimes, he suspects that it won't be long before he's in trouble again. He isn't expecting to get the bad news from Lord Peter Wimsey. 1930s Saint / Lord Peter Wimsey crossover, sixth in the Saintly Matters series.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Crime > Author: Leslie CharterisMarcusRowlandFR1311,61801081131 Dec 1031 Dec 10Yes
This is a crossover between the Saint stories by Leslie Charteris and the Lord Peter Wimsey stories by Dorothy L. Sayers, set in 1930. For the purposes of this story Simon Templar is the version described by Leslie Charteris in the 1930s, Lord Peter Wimsey looks a lot like Iain Carmichael. This story is set a year or so after The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Sayers) and shortly after Knight Templar (Charteris).

The first theft of the Attenbury Emeralds, mentioned in this story, was often mentioned in canon as Lord Peter Wimsey's first case, but never described in detail. While writing this story I learned that Jill Paton Walsh has written a novel about the case, based on the hints dropped in Sayers’ stories. At the time of writing I haven't read it.

All characters belong to their respective creators estates etc., there is no intent to infringe on copyright. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.

A Meeting of Minds

By Marcus L. Rowland


saint logoWhen the doorbell rang on Thursday morning Simon Templar was in his bedroom packing his bags. He checked his gun — not that he was expecting trouble quite yet — and listened for anything that might indicate that his faithful servant 'Orace needed his assistance.

"Gent to see you," said 'Orace, coming in with the inevitable cigarette in the corner of his mouth.

"What sort of gent?" said Simon. "Scotland Yard?"

"Naah. This one's a real gent. A lord."

"You're a snob, 'Orace. Show the blighter in." Simon went to the living room, and waited for the visitor.

"Lord Peter Wimsey," said 'Orace.

"Hope you don't mind me showing up unannounced," said Wimsey, a tall man wearing impeccably tailored clothes and a monocle, and carrying a silver-topped stick. "But I wanted to catch you before you left."

"Am I leaving?" asked Simon. He knew his visitor by reputation, though they'd never met.

"You've wasted a lot of money on tickets if you aren't," said Wimsey, "and with the King pardoning you there's no reason why you should have to lay a false trail."

"So what's this, then?" asked Simon, "Another warning to stay on the straight and narrow?"

"Good Lord, no," said Wimsey. "Scotland Yard can do that sort of thing without my help. I dare say Chief Inspector Teal and Inspector Sugg and the rest of the bunglers are straining at the leash to catch you if you put a foot wrong, they don't need my help making fools of themselves. No, I just wanted to give you my congratulations on preventing the assassination; there is a small warning attached, but probably not the one you're expecting."

"What sort of warning?"

"Someone stole the Attenbury emeralds again on Monday. Oddly enough, it was at the very moment the King was announcing your pardon. Now, I'm pretty sure that it wasn't you that took them, you were under arrest until the pardon came through, and the rest of your friends are accounted for one way or another, but it does feel like the sort of thing you used to do in your salad days."

"It does," said Simon, "but this time I'm as pure as the driven snow. So what's the warning?"

"You've made some powerful enemies," said Wimsey, "and Lord Attenbury moves in the same circles, and isn't exactly flush these days. It occurred to me that some of his friends might have put him up to it."

"You think he's trying to frame me?" Simon said incredulously. "That idiot?"

"You've met him? Well, I never said it was a good frame." He tossed a translucent paper envelope onto the table, containing a small card with a stick-figure drawing of a man with a halo. "That was left for me to find. You might want to get rid of it."

"You're being very trusting," said Simon, pocketing the card.

"I really don't like insults to my intelligence," said Wimsey. "They didn't even pick the locks properly, they just scratched the outside to make it look like someone had worked on them, and the card was left where I'd find it after a very smart village bobby had taken a look. The police want to charge Attenbury with fraud, I've persuaded them to hold off for now."

"Why?"

"Because the jewels belong to Lady Attenbury, and she actually loves the blighter. I'm fairly sure that she isn't part of the plot, Attenbury and his cronies are tied in to... well, probably best not to name names... while she's always been a socialist. It would break her heart if he was arrested. Much better if they're returned without a scandal."

"So why even tell me about it?"

"We've already found where he's hidden most of the stones, but the earrings and the largest emerald from the necklace are missing. My guess is they're somewhere in this flat, waiting for someone to get a warrant and find them."

"There was no sign of a break-in," said Simon, and yelled "'Orace!"

'Orace appeared in the doorway. "'Wotcha want?"

"Have there been any visitors inside the flat in the last few days? Workmen, plumbers, that sort of thing?"

"There was a bloke what said 'e wanted to check the central 'eating for the landlord, but 'e pushed off pretty sharpish when I phoned the landlord to make sure it was legit."

"Did he get into the flat at all."

"'Course not. I'm not that green."

"What about the police? Anyone wanted to search the place?"

"They can want all they like, I told 'em they're not getting in without a warrant."

"When was that?"

"Both of 'em on Monday."

"Anyone else that day?"

"Naah."

"What about Tuesday?"

"No... 'ang abaht, yes. The meter reader, first thing Tuesday mornin'."

"You let him in?" asked Wimsey.

"'Course I did," said 'Orace. "Kept me eye on 'im though."

"Let's take a look at the meter," said Simon.

* * *

"Hello hello, what's this then?" said Wimsey, prying a sticky lump from the wall under the meter.

"Looks like putty," said Simon, "with a bit of soot on it to make it harder to spot."

"Something lumpy inside it." Wimsey scraped away some of the putty, revealing two gold and emerald earrings and a large green gem.

"Very nice," said Simon. "I could do with more meter readers like that."

"You won't mind if I take them off your hands?"

"What would you do if I said I did?"

"Call in Inspector Parker, he's waiting outside."

"Of course he is," said Simon. "Well, much as it pains me, old thing, I suppose you'd better have the boodle. Care for a drink?"

"I'd better not," said Wimsey. "We'll have to get these cleaned up and the gem back in its setting before Lady Attenbury finds out what's going on, then I have to read the riot act to Attenbury and his pals."

"I'd love to be there," said Simon, "but time and tide... I need to get down to Southampton; the Berengaria isn't going to wait forever."

"Enjoy your trip," said Wimsey.

* * *

"'Ow long do you reckon before they're back 'ere?" asked 'Orace, as Simon finished packing.

"Give it another two or three hours for them to get the gems cleaned up, then Wimsey will probably realise that the big one's a fake," said Simon. "After that they'll probably look for me at Southampton first, then try Croydon Aerodrome and the other obvious routes. You'll probably see him again about seven."

"An' then wot?"

"Then you don't know where I am, the last time you saw me I was headed for the Berengaria, you don't know anything about any fake gems, and you're not expecting to hear from me until I get to New York. That ought to cover it. The bank will pay your wages and expenses as usual."

"Right you are."

"I'd better be off. And thanks again for spotting the meter reader as a phoney!"

"Bleedin' amateurs."

* * *

"Well," said Lord Peter Wimsey, watching the Berengaria cast off, "Templar's cabin is empty, and his luggage never arrived. We'd better head back to London and see if we can track him down."

"You don't sound too surprised," said Chief Inspector Parker.

"He let me have the gems too easily," said Wimsey; "I should have realised. He must have found them and had a fake made, then waited to see who came looking for them."

"Why didn't he swap the other stones?"

"So that he could claim that he didn't know they were there. We can't even prove that he took it, it might have been one of Attenbury's cronies; whoever impersonated the meter reader."

"Do you think so?"

"Templar's got it, all right. But at the end of the day Attenbury did try to frame him, I can't really blame him for wanting a little payback. And maybe we can use the fact that it's missing to stir up a little dissention, separate him from his odious friends."

* * *

Herr Siegfried Taubmann looked out over the aft rail of the Berengaria, watching Southampton vanish over the horizon, and wondered if there would be police waiting when he left the ship at its next port of call, Le Havre. He wasn't expecting any problems, but it wouldn't pay to drop his guard too soon. He tapped out the bowl of his large foul-smelling pipe, knowing that the emerald was securely fixed under steel mesh below the tobacco, refilled it, and went below to check train times in the ship's Continental Bradshaw. There was a fence he was anxious to visit in Amsterdam, who would be able to sell it back to Attenbury's insurers for a suitably high fee...

End

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