25. I Go Dress-Shopping

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"A what and a what?" Mr Ambrose stared at me as if I had lost my mind, and my job was soon to follow.

I smiled at him innocently. "Is your hearing not as good as it used to be, Sir?"

"How," he asked very slowly and deliberately, "are you going to track a thief with... with a dress and a sack full of vegetables?"

"Onions. They have to be onions. And the how," I said, tapping my nose knowingly, "you'll just have to leave that to me. Secrets of the trade."

"How do I know this is going to work?"

I gave him my most sweetest smile.

"Easy. You'll have to trust me."


For nearly half an hour he tried to worm my plan out of me, but I wouldn't budge. Finally, he declared that, fine, we were going to try something else. When I asked him what exactly, he didn't look very pleased. Finally, Warren and a few of the others joined my side, arguing for him to let me have a go.

"We don't even know whether Simmons is still in town," Mr Ambrose pointed out, stubbornly shaking his head.

The door to my office chose this moment to open and admit the monumental form of Karim, who bowed, and in what I thought was perfect timing said: "Nobody has seen Simmons at the train station, Sahib. It is safe to assume that he is still within the city."

There was one moment more of hesitation – then Mr Ambrose grabbed his top hat from the coat hanger and slammed it down on his hard head.

"Fine. We're going. Karim, come along. We're going to buy onions."

With a slightly puzzled expression on his face, the bearded man followed his master out. I, unable to conceal a grin, was right at his heels.

"What are you planning, Mr Linton?" Warren whispered behind me, but I just shook my head.

We had to run to keep up with Mr Ambrose. Out in the street, he didn't hail a cab, but began to march down the street.

"Err... Sir?" Warren cleared his throat. "If the situation is as grave as you have indicated, the expense of a cab would surely be justifiable. It is a much quicker means of transport, very convenient in such an urgent situation."


Irritably, Mr Ambrose waved a hand and when a cab stopped, ordered us inside with a jerk of his head. All about a dozen men plus one disguised woman, into one cab! The driver looked at us as if we were completely insane, and I couldn't blame him.

The good news I didn't end up with Karim sitting on top of me. The bad news were I ended up with Mr Ambrose sitting next to me. Very close next to me. I didn't want to think about how close. His lean body was nearly squashing me against the wall and there was something hard pressing into my leg which I very much hoped was the end of his walking stick.

Through the window that connected the inside of the coach with the driver's box, Mr Ambrose threw the cabbie a look. "Drive fast."

The man's eyes widened. Apparently, he knew who was talking to him. The whip cracked, and we started to move with astonishing speed for a vehicle carrying three times the intended load.

"Take us to Flemming's," Mr Ambrose shouted over the whirl and clatter over the wheels. I had no idea who or what Flemming's was – hopefully a place where one could get either dresses or onions. I didn't know if this crazy plan of mine was going to work, but if it was to succeed, I definitely needed all the right equipment.

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