BOOK THE FIRST: THE CUP AND THE LIP
Chapter 13: Tracking the Bird of Prey
The two lime merchants, with their escort, entered the dominions
of Miss Abbey Potterson, to whom their escort (presenting them
and their pretended business over the half-door of the bar, in a
confidential way) preferred his figurative request that 'a mouthful
of fire' might be lighted in Cosy. Always well disposed to assist
the constituted authorities, Miss Abbey bade Bob Gliddery attend
the gentlemen to that retreat, and promptly enliven it with fire and
gaslight. Of this commission the bare-armed Bob, leading the way
with a flaming wisp of paper, so speedily acquitted himself, that
Cosy seemed to leap out of a dark sleep and embrace them warmly,
the moment they passed the lintels of its hospitable door.
'They burn sherry very well here,' said Mr Inspector, as a piece of
local intelligence. 'Perhaps you gentlemen might like a bottle?'
The answer being By all means, Bob Gliddery received his
instructions from Mr Inspector, and departed in a becoming state
of alacrity engendered by reverence for the majesty of the law.
'It's a certain fact,' said Mr Inspector, 'that this man we have
received our information from,' indicating Riderhood with his
thumb over his shoulder, 'has for some time past given the other
man a bad name arising out of your lime barges, and that the other
man has been avoided in consequence. I don't say what it means
or proves, but it's a certain fact. I had it first from one of the
opposite sex of my acquaintance,' vaguely indicating Miss Abbey
with his thumb over his shoulder, 'down away at a distance, over
Then probably Mr Inspector was not quite unprepared for their
visit that evening? Lightwood hinted.
'Well you see,' said Mr Inspector, 'it was a question of making a
move. It's of no use moving if you don't know what your move is.
You had better by far keep still. In the matter of this lime, I
certainly had an idea that it might lie betwixt the two men; I
always had that idea. Still I was forced to wait for a start, and I
wasn't so lucky as to get a start. This man that we have received
our information from, has got a start, and if he don't meet with a
check he may make the running and come in first. There may turn
out to be something considerable for him that comes in second, and
I don't mention who may or who may not try for that place. There's
duty to do, and I shall do it, under any circumstances; to the best of
my judgment and ability.'