'You assume the investments shall pay out,' I said.

'Rothschild's got the Midas touch. Mark my words. That two hundred shall be at least two thousand a year hence.'

'I don't believe I can wait that long, myself, being unsalaried.'

The cab pulled out of Saint Swithen Lane.

'I understand,' Barker said. 'You are hired on a permanent basis. The pay for the position is five pounds per month.'

I could hardly believe it. That was a great deal of money, along with the free room and meals.

'Thank you, sir,' I said. 'That's very generous.'

'Not at all. You've more than earned it. Now, let's go celebrate.'

'At Ho's?' I asked. I was getting a bit hungry. It was nearly eleven already, and the two-egg omelet had been a rather meager start to the day.

'No. Someplace special. Cabbie, Soho!'

Our destination was none other than Dummolard's Le Tondre d'Or. It was an elegant little restaurant, with bistro chairs and tables in front that gave it a Gallic air. As we entered, we were met by Dummolard's vivacious and incredibly beautiful wife. She was a French blonde of almost Amazonian proportions, and she took a liking to me the minute she laid eyes on me. She put us at the best table, and had a half dozen waiters hovering around, bringing us the best that Etienne could frantically prepare. Now I saw why he had fed me so sparingly at breakfast. He was preparing to fete us for lunch. I'm no expert at French cuisine, but what can you do when a beautiful woman is cutting up your meal and feeding it to you, except to eat without complaining?

'Thank you, Madame Dummolard. Everything is delicious.'

'Call me Mireille, mon petite chou. But this veal! It is like shoe leather! Etienne!'

She took the plate back to the kitchen, and suddenly a fight broke out behind the door. She screamed. Dummolard bellowed. There was a slap. Crockery crashed. I heard curses in two languages. Then, serenely, Mireille Dummolard returned, a new plate of veal in her hand. No one seemed to notice the melee. Presumably, it was an hourly occurrence.

The restaurant door opened, and a trio of young men entered off the street. The first was Israel Zangwill, who smiled and waved. The second was Ira Moskowitz, and the thirdЕ the third, I was interested to see, was Jacob Maccabee.

'We heard there was a party here,' Mac said, as they all pulled up chairs and helped themselves to the incredible buffet of food and wine, selecting, of course, only those items lawful to them as Jews.

'Hallo, Thomas!' Zangwill said. 'You don't look to be doing too poorly.'

'No!' the scholar, Ira, put in. 'It would be worth all the pain to be situated where you are now.'

I couldn't disagree, partly because Madame Dummolard was pouring champagne down my throat. Had she been any closer, one of us would have been in the other's lap.

'By the way,' Zangwill said. 'Perhaps this is not the time to mention it, but I have a message for you. A certain person understands that her father was somewhat curt with you and hopes you didn't take offense. She'd like to speak with you again, under different circumstances, and sends best wishes for your full and swift recovery.'

'Thank you,' I said, as Mireille dabbed at my mouth with a napkin. 'Tell her I hope to see her again, and if you mention this to her, well, just remember, I won't be this helpless forever, and I know where you live.'

'A toast!' Ira Moskowitz said, raising his champagne flute. 'To the best detective in LondonЕ Damn! Where is the fellow?'

I looked about. My employer was missing. I couldn't recall the last time I'd seen him.

'Mr. Barker has gone,' Mac informed us. 'I just spoke to him before he left. He had an appointment in Saint James to see a certain widow.'

'A widow? You mean a new case?' I asked.

'No, sir. He is meeting her for lunch. I believe the relationship has been a long-standing one.'

We all looked at each other. A widow? Barker was seeing a widow?


Hours later, after all the food had been eaten and the good-byes said, and I had enjoyed a long afternoon nap in my now permanent room, I heard Barker's tread upon the stair. I gave him half an hour before I went up to speak with him.

'Ah, Llewelyn,' he said, as I reached the top of the stair. He was seated in his chair by the fire, in a glossy silk robe, feeding Harm green tea from his saucer. He was smoking a new pipe, I noticed, as white as a bone. It was a bearded head that looked rather like Moses. Around him were boxes full of books, which I recognized at once as having belonged to Louis Pokrzywa. Obviously, his bid had been successful.

'It was a grand celebration, sir,' I stated. 'Pity you had to leave early.'

He refused to rise to the bait.

'Madame Dummolard was quite attentive.'

'Yes, I would watch that, lad. She likes to make Etienne jealous. I'd hate to be your second in Hyde Park, one cold winter morning.'

'He's good with a sword and pistol, then?'

'Yes, and with his feet. La boxe franзaise. Don't let his girth fool you.'

'You have some formidable associates,' I said. 'Mac with his shotgun. Brother Andrew with his fists. Ho with his cleaver. You yourself with your pistols andЕ pocket change. I'm afraid I have no such ability.'

'You acquitted yourself admirably in the Lane with a cricket bat. I'll train you myself, and when the time is right, you'll discover your own weapon of choice.'

'I don't know,' I conceded. 'I wish I had your confidence in me. When you listed the attacks upon my person to Sir Moses and Lord Rothschild, I felt like a complete fool. In fact, I have a mind to return the hundred pounds you so generously gave me as part of the fee.'

'Now you really are being foolish,' Barker said. 'You followed my lead, and did all that I asked of you. What more could I wish? If anything, it was I who failed you. Had I been but a few minutes earlier, you would not have come so close to dying.'

'I disagree,' I protested. 'You saved my life.'

'It took both of us to solve the case. I couldn't have done it without you,' Barker said. Having finished his tea, Harm belched and went to sleep by his master's side.

I mused for a moment. 'We did it, didn't we? We actually solved a case. Well, you did, anyway. Racket tried to throw us off the scent, but you saw through it all. There's just one thing that puzzles me.'

'What is that?' he asked.

'Who's this widow you haven't mentioned before?'

He didn't say anything, but I knew I'd struck a nerve. His pipe went out.

Author's Note

For several years, I was a book reviewer for various organizations, as well as a speaker on Victorian crime fiction. Many recent Victorian mysteries have been written by women, and could be classified as 'cozies.' I wondered what it would be like to create a more dangerous detective, a shamus, a gumshoe, and to set him down in this world of Queen Victoria and Jack the Ripper. As a longtime student of nineteenth-century fighting arts, both Asian and European, I wanted to present my own view of those times, in which a walking stick was a weapon and London was a perilous place. I also decided early that my detective would not be the narrator. Instead, I gave him a much-beleaguered assistant, a Watson who is constantly out of his depth, but with a cheeky attitude.

Somehow, from this mйlange Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn began to live and move and have their being, as if without my help. Enquiry Agent Barker proved to be an enigmatic evangelical with a past in China, while young Thomas was overcoming a tragic, George GissingЦlike past. Barker's world began to fill quickly with his own entourage, all with their own quirks and habits. Then one day I came upon a book by Chaim Bermant called London's East End: Point of Arrival, about the Jews pouring into England after pogroms in Eastern Europe, and the germ that became Some Danger Involved was born.

I had never attempted to write a novel before, but gradually, over a five-year period, it coalesced. All the

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