[identity profile] spacemutineer.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] acdholmesfest
Title: The Major and the Violinist
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] kizzia
Author: [livejournal.com profile] alafaye
Rating: G
Characters, including any pairing(s): Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, a handful of OC
Warnings: None
Summary: A visit to the countryside turns up a murder.
Disclaimer: The characters presented herein were created by Sir ACD.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, [livejournal.com profile] thesmallhobbit, who, as usual, did a wonderful job, but also corrected my errors with some of the terms. [livejournal.com profile] kizzia, case fic is not my usual area and I stretched myself a bit, trying to create and solve a crime, but I hope you enjoy this.



Holmes and I have often discovered that while crimes happen everywhere, our arrival is often followed by a case. We don't travel outside of London, being that our love of the city is unfailing, but we will, for our health, go the countryside from time to time and without fail, within a few days of our arrival, a crime will occur.

Holmes has said that I am wrong in that the crimes happen before we arrive; it is only that the crime is discovered after we arrive. We've agreed to disagree, much to Holmes' amusement.

This particular case I feel makes my point quite sufficiently. We arrived in the country around ten in the morning and, being a beautiful spring day, we elected to have our luggage sent up while we took in the town walking to the bed and breakfast we were staying at.

It was a usual town, having a main road full of the usual shops, but there was also a theater, which, to my friend's delight, would be entertaining a popular violinist; a concert would be performed in two nights. To my delight, a circus would also be performing that weekend. They were setting up on the outskirts of town, but a few of the performers were visiting the shops.

Holmes, of course, took all of it in with a sharp eye. Looking back, I do wonder if he could forsee the crime forming already.

We took lunch in a small tea shop and after indulging me to watch a bit of the circus tent being put up, we retired for the evening to the bed and breakfast. Like other inns, dinner was followed by some conversation; Holmes talked with the violinist who was also staying there and I enjoyed a few rounds of cards with a few of the other visitors. All in all, I suspected nothing; I went to sleep looking forward to a nice week in the fresh air.

In the morning, however, the peace of the small town was broken. The proprietress knocked us up with a sharp rap, bringing with her a constable. Holmes was frowning and nodding. We dressed quickly and made our way to the station where the detective in charge showed us into his office.

"You are Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective, correct?" the detective, Harper, asked, eyes shrewd as he looked Holmes up and down, his face letting all know that he was not impressed.

Holmes smiled tightly. "I am. Am I correct in assuming that the violinist has been murdered?"

Harper leaned back in his seat. "I do wonder that you haven't yet been arrested for committing a crime. You know more than you should, Mr. Holmes."

Holmes clasped his wrists behind his back. "I spoke with the young man last night, Detective. He was nervous and kept glancing outside the southern facing window of the drawing room; the window faces the meadow where the circus was being set up. When he was not looking there, he was keeping an eye on another lodger who was playing cards. Watson, the gentleman in uniform; what was his name?"

"Major Thomas, on leave for family business," I reported crisply.

Holmes nodded. "Major Thomas who lost quite a sum of money, yes?"

"A worst player I have never seen," I agreed.

Holmes smirked. "Perhaps."

Harper hummed thoughtfully. "Nevertheless, yes, the violinist has been murdered, Mr. Holmes. What's more, I conveniently have Major Thomas in another room making a statement that he saw one of the circus folk coming out of the violinist’s room around three this morning."

Holmes raised an interested eyebrow, but his face, to my familiar eye, read his amusement. "I suspect he might have."

Harper sighed. "This unit has been full of nothing but gossip this morning. The usual, of course, with these set of circumstances. A circus in town, a man murdered, one of the circus folk seen coming out of the murdered man's room. I'm sure you know what they're saying."

"And you think they're wrong," Holmes said.

"Of course," Harper said. "I know the opinion of those who work in the circuses. I will admit that they have done their own bit of theft and the like. Murder, though? No, I would not ever say that I've heard of them murdering anyone. Thieves they might be, a murderer I doubt. I am, however, at a loss with this case and if I don't move quickly, I'll be arresting one of them against my own opinion."

"And let the actual murderer go free," Holmes surmised.

Harper nodded. "Well, Mr. Holmes? Could you help me?"

Holmes smirked. "I will. I shall need your wife's help, however."

Harper narrowed his eyes. "My wife's?"

"Yes, your wife's. She was a former circus performer, wasn't she?"

Harper chuckled. "I see your reputation is well earned. I'll ask you how you know later. For now, one of my men will fetch her for you."

Holmes bowed his head. "Thank you. If I may, while we wait, could I interview your witness?"

Harper waved his hand. "I'd be grateful."

~~~

Major Thomas was not dressed properly, I thought, looking him up and down. His uniform was disheveled, boots marked with more mud than he ought to have acquired merely walking to the station, and his hair was not combed.

He sighed when he saw us enter the room and looked at the young policeman in the corner. "And who is this? Another detective? I cannot believe that your office would be so ill ready to handle a case as this."

"And what case would that be?" Holmes asked.

Thomas huffed. "A clean cut murder case. I saw one of those circus folk coming out of the room of a man who was found murdered the next morning. There is only one explanation."

Holmes shrugged. "To many, yes. Would you mind if I ask you some personal questions, however?"

Thomas eyed Holmes distrustfully, but sat back, unconcerned. "Of course."

"Thank you. Now, I believe you are familiar with the house on the hill?"

Thomas smiled. "I am. I grew up there, with my two brothers. My older brother takes care of it, being the heir, but I visit from time to time."

"And your other brother?"

Thomas looked away, face darkening. "We lost him when he was young. Drowned in an accident."

I looked at Holmes out of the corner of my eye. Holmes was looking sympathetic, but his eye had taken on a thoughtful gleam. "I am sorry to hear that. My apologies. Now, I only have one more question. Did you know the man who was murdered?"

"We all did. He grew up here. His parents used to own the general store."

"Thank you. I appreciate your time, Major."

Thomas nodded and looked over at the police officer. "Am I free to go now?"

The officer shook his head. "Not quite yet. We still need you to sign the paperwork once we've finished filling it out."

Thomas sighed. "Do you see? Incompetent."

Holmes raised his eyebrows thoughtfully. "We shall see."

~~~

Mrs. Harper was a pleasant woman, well matched to her husband. She smiled at us both when we entered her husband's office.

"Excellent. Mrs. Harper, if you could please, I require your assistance with the questioning of our actual witness," Holmes said.

She blinked once, but nodded. "If I can help in anyway, I will. Where is the witness?"

"And who is it?" Harper asked.

Holmes smiled. "For that, we need to visit the circus. There is a young woman there, a lion tamer I believe."

"Margaret?" Mrs. Harper asked.

"Exactly."

After Holmes' announcement, he instructed that Major Thomas should remain in the small room he was being kept in, under lock and key if need be. Harper left these instructions with his men and then we four were off to the meadow to find the lion tamer. In this, Holmes had done brilliantly as we were allowed to see her, but only because Mrs. Harper assured the gate keeper that we weren't there to arrest anyone.

It appeared that word had already traveled that one of them was under suspicion.

In her private room, Margaret confirmed Holmes' theory, that she hadn't been to see the violinist that night; he had visited her in order to avoid discovery.

"I was so worried," she admitted. "I told him he was a fool, but he didn't listen to me. He said that no one would ever know." She tightened her hand inside Mrs. Harper's who was smiling softly. "He said that if it has been done once, it could be done again."

"And instead you woke to news that your fiance had been murdered and that you were the suspect," Holmes finished.

She nodded. "Yes."

"Major Thomas was not thrilled, was he, that you were going to marry the violinist?" Holmes asked.

She looked up. "How did you know? Oh, it's such a terrible business. I don't even know what he was thinking, asking me to marry him. Everyone knows that he has never trusted any of us ever since that accident with his brother."

"His brother who was playing with yours and the violinist the day he died?" Holmes pressed.

She nodded. "Yes. Everyone knew it was an accident, but he never believed it."

Holmes turned to Inspector Harper. "I believe the coroner will find a bullet in your murdered man that matches the make and model of hand gun carried by Major Thomas. Furthermore, if you interview the maid from the inn, she will tell you that she has had quite the time of it cleaning the mud from Major Thomas' room. Mud that he tracked from this meadow as it rained last night, around one. There will be a bit in the violinist's room as well.

"And if you ask the cook, she will inform you that the two men quarreled outside her kitchen as she was just making the bread for the morning meal."

"But the gun shot?" Harper asked. "Surely someone heard it."

"A hunt was held this morning," Holmes pointed out. "At the hour of which I speak, I myself saw the hunt pass close by the bed and breakfast and several shots had been fired."

Harper nodded. "And I presume the hunt was held by Major Thomas' older brother?"

"Which is how Major Thomas knew that the gunshot would be explained away," Holmes said.

"Well, then, gentlemen, ladies, if you'll excuse me. I have to inform Major Thomas that he is being held for the murder. Good day. Mary, I'll see you at home."

His wife murmured her agreement, but she was busy comforting her friend. Holmes and I took our leave of them and walking back, I tried to puzzle out how Holmes had put it together so quickly. After all, it was not yet mid morning.

Holmes laughed, of course. "As ever, you fail to follow all the clues. It was all there, laid out, by the time we were leaving the bed and breakfast. You recall that I spoke with the violinist last night? Well, he let slip that he had agreed to a tour, but only at the locations he wished for, that he was now an engaged man, and that he was hoping to settle down here, where he was raised.

"And, as I pointed out to Inspector Harper, I noticed his nervous attitude toward both the circus and Major Thomas. I did not sleep last night and thus heard both men leave in the early hours as well as hearing the rain. You were waking this morning when the argument occurred and you woke fully when the gun shots went off. I do wonder that these facts slipped your mind, but it was your nightmares, yes?"

I nodded, embarrassed. Holmes gave me a smile, comforting, and moved on.

"Finally, I saw the maid cleaning the stairs this morning; there had been quite a lot of mud left on them. Major Thomas merely provided me the whys of the murder. I had no doubt that if the violinist was the murdered man, the man who so conveniently came in before the town or inn knew of the murder had to have been the murderer."

"Neat as always," I told him. "Well done."

He blushed and waved off the compliment. "Now, shall we enjoy a late breakfast?"
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