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Mastiffs and Steam Locomotives

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There was the huge famished brute, its black muzzle buried in Rucastle's throat, while he writhed and screamed upon the ground, and I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that I have never been so satisfied in my life. I watched with, while not joy, certainly a deep satisfaction in my bosom. I watched the blood spill onto the ground, fixated, and it seemed that some of my thoughts were betrayed on my face, for I noticed that Miss Hunter was looking at me with confusion that gave way to horror. Her expression did not alter my own smile.

Rucastle's death was painful but unfortunately quick. When his body stilled at last, the brute looked up at us. I looked into its eyes and found fury and a thirst for blood in there. It was a near match for the look in my own. My gun was trained on it, ready to do fulfill its function if the brute decided to turn its attention to us. I felt loathe to kill this thing that had been twisted beyond recognition from its original state by a monster for a master; think of what it could have been with a kinder hand to care for him? Would it have been loyal, I wonder, ready to do that same action on its master's enemy instead of on the master himself? But, thankfully, my gun remained idle, for the dog, as if sensing danger (or perhaps a kindred spirit), turned around and left.

We reentered the house and found Mrs. Toller there. She explained to us how Alice's fiancee come to spirit her away and was somewhere far away by now. Holmes frowned and rubbed his chin.

"I wonder how far he will get, where he could have gone," Holmes mused. "In any case," Holmes turned to Miss Hunter, "did you find the papers?" He asked, referring to the papers that had made Miss Hunter take the job in the first place and made poor Alice a prisoner in her own home: papers that had very detailed descriptions of what the Royals did in the country. Rucastle had found out about the papers but hadn't known their hiding place, so he threatened to never let her go until she told him. He then hired Miss Hunter (who was secretly a Restorationist under Holmes' orders) to keep the fiance back.

"No, Mr. Holmes," Miss Hunter replied, changing her posture to reflect their relationship, that of a soldier addressing her superior.

"I thought not ... that would mean that she still has them, not knowing about us." Holmes seemed about to say more, getting carried away as he does with his deductions, like a train that starts slow and gathers speed, unable to stop and on a very straight track. I coughed and when Holmes turned to look at me (for I had caught him while the train was still slow) I looked discreetly Mrs. Toller, who was beginning to understand who we were and what this might mean to her.

Mrs. Toller flinched when Holmes directed his gaze at her, and I could hardly blame her - his gaze was as powerful and impersonal as a full-steam train.

"You know nothing, of course," Holmes murmured.

"Nothing," she shook her head eagerly, desperately. "I just wanted to help poor Alice."

"But you didn't do anything towards that end. No, Alice's fiance came to kidnap or rescue her, depending on how the viewer sees it, and the mastiff accidentally got loose and killed Rucastle, then escaped. Violet Hunter was nothing more than an ignorant pawn in Rucastle's game, and there were no strangers, certainly no two men. Understand?" Holmes' eyes were the color of bullets, trained on Mrs. Toller.

"Yes, sir." The woman's voice came close to breaking but manged not to.

Holmes stared into Mrs. Toller's face for another second before nodding and turning to Miss Hunter. "You have done nothing suspicious, so no need to run. Send me a report in a week's time to the usual place." Miss Hunter nodded.

Holmes turned on his heel then headed for the door, his long legs making quick work of the space, his footsteps soft but decisive, his grey coat billowing out around him like steam. I lifted my hat to the two ladies and followed Holmes out the door.

"Come, Watson," he said, to no one's benefit really, as I was already falling into step one step behind him. "We were never here."