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Devil in the Details

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“… and what’s more, Henry, the villain had the temerity to leave a message for me at my Club!” Litefoot paused then, and gave a sigh. “I suppose I have only myself to blame for taking him there. I expect I should merely be thankful he didn’t kill any of the members.”

“Hmph,” said Jago. Not, of course, that he could pretend to be uninterested in news of the whereabouts of that dashed dastardly devil, Sanders, but the Professor had inadvertently raised a Sore Point that he had forgotten until now.

Litefoot reflected on his last statement. “Well, not that you would notice the difference in some cases, of course. I’ve told them that he is on no account to be admitted again, but one can hardly be sure that it will stop him.”

“Oh, quite, quite,” Jago said. However, the mention of the Club and the fact that Litefoot had taken Gabriel Sanders there still rankled. Of course, he knew that there had been Reasons and that Litefoot had acted only to trap the fellow (who was, as it turned out, a vicious vampire victimising half of London, a vile, vengeful villain, no less), but it was an undeniable fact that Litefoot would rather take a dratted creature of the night to that Club of his than his good friend and colleague of many years, and all round splendid fellow, Henry Gordon Jago. Not that Jago had any interest in said club, or wish to visit the place, not at all. It was merely the symbolism of the thing, that was it.

Litefoot coughed, evidently seeking to regain his friend’s attention. “Henry? I said, do you wish to peruse the letter?”

“What? Oh, yes, naturally, of course,” said Jago, straightening up and taking the note from the Professor. He studied it. “Bit florid, the script, don’t you think? Flowery – too much flourish, if you ask me.”

“The content, Henry, not the handwriting! Although now that you mention it, I would have to agree.”

“Well, it’s not much help to us, is it?” said Jago, reading the brief letter fully. “Nothing but more threats – and the black-hearted blaggard has the audacity, the bare-faced, brazen cheek, to mention Ellie.”

Litefoot nodded. “Yes, I know. I don’t like it, either. It only strengthens me in my resolve to discover some means of helping Miss Higson as swiftly as I can.”

“And,” said Jago, “I don’t see that it was strictly necessary to take him to the club in the first place, Professor. Very unwise, if you ask me. Which you didn’t, as I recall.”

“Henry?”

“Other people have never visited those hallowed halls, other people have never even asked for that high honour –”

“Henry,” said Litefoot, not without a certain note of amusement in his voice, “could it be that something is troubling you?”

“Oh, no, no. Of course not! Whatever made you think that, Professor? Aside from poor Ellie’s condition, and this fearful fiend still looming about at large in London.”

Litefoot said, “Henry.”

“Did you say something about another possible case earlier, Professor?”

“Henry,” said Litefoot again. “As it happens, my club is very inconveniently situated for the morgue and the usual location of our investigations. What is more, the company here is significantly livelier and more convivial. In fact, my club is as dull as tomb – so where else should I take a vampire to dinner? A private location would hardly have been wise, don’t you agree?”

“Well, I – I mean, I never said a word, Professor, not even the smallest hint –”

“I don’t even believe one could say the food was any better,” said Litefoot. “I’m not very fond of the place these days. I’m not entirely sure I ever was. However, Henry, if you would like to dine there on some occasion when we are not on a case, I can of course arrange to invite you as my personal guest.”

Jago coughed. “It doesn’t matter to me at all, George. I don’t know whatever could have given you that idea. Now, what was it you were saying about a carved-up cadaver?”

“Yes,” said Litefoot, “it looked almost as though the wounds had been inflicted by claws! Goodness only knows what sort of fantastical creature could have been responsible for such injuries – or what diabolical machinery. More pertinently, Henry, I believe the victim may have had theatrical connections, so I trust that you can help me uncover more.”

“I would be delighted, Professor!” Jago puffed himself up happily. “Another case for Jago and Litefoot, that indefatigable investigative duo!”

“Litefoot and Jago,” said Litefoot, and gave him a smile. “Quite, Henry. I really don’t know what I’d do without you.”