12- Mrs. Jeffries Reveals Her Art

12- Mrs. Jeffries Reveals Her Art by Emily Brightwell

Book: 12- Mrs. Jeffries Reveals Her Art by Emily Brightwell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emily Brightwell
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective, rt, tpl
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    Betsy quietly opened the back door and slipped out. She glanced around her, making sure that one of the others wasn’t lurking about on the small, square back terrace or in the communal gardens directly ahead of her. Satisfied that she was unobserved, she scurried to the side of the house, crept along the walk and out the gate leading to the street. She wasn’t being secretive, just cautious. She wouldn’t put it past Smythe to try to come with her. Or failing that, she wouldn’t put it past the man to put Wiggins up to trailing her. Betsy didn’t want or need either of them dogging her heels. She could handle this on her own.
    Coming out onto the pavement, she cast one fast look over her shoulder and hurried down the street. She patted the pocket of her short gray wool jacket, making sure she had money enough for a hansom cab if her business kept her out after dark. Reassured by the hefty weight of the coins, she smiled and picked up her step. She had a plan. A plan to find out precisely what had happened to Irene Simmons. Perhaps, she thought, as she hurried to the omnibus stop, she’d find out who murdered James Underhill while she was at it.

    Smythe stood in the kitchen and scowled. “What do ya mean, ya don’t know where she’s gone?”
    Wiggins, who was pulling on his boots, shrugged. “But I don’t,” he said. “After we finished our meetin’ I nipped upstairs to get me jacket and when I come down again, everyone was gone.”
    “I’m still here,” Mrs. Goodge said as she came out of the cooling pantry carrying a bag of flour. “And I’ll thank you two to get on your way. The grocer’s lad should be here any time now and I want to find out if he knowsanything. After that I’ve got a costermonger and the rag and bones man stopping in.”
    “Have you seen Betsy?” Smythe asked as he and Wiggins edged toward the back hall. “She didn’t say she was goin’ out so soon, and I was wantin’ to make sure she didn’t nip off to Soho on ’er own.”
    Mrs. Goodge allowed a soft smile to play about her lips for a moment. The man was crazy in love with the girl, that was certain. Betsy, whether she’d admit it or not, was just as balmy about him. Too bad the two of them were so pigheaded and stubborn about it. Sometimes Mrs. Goodge felt like giving them both a good cuff around the ears. For every step forward they took, they went two steps back. Love really was wasted on the young. “Don’t fret, Smythe. Soho’s not the black pit of sin. She’ll be fine. Betsy’s got a good head on her shoulders. Go on, now, out with the two of you. We’ve a murder to solve, and my sources will be here any minute. They’ll not talk much with you lot hangin’ about. Off with you.”
    Smythe, knowing when he was beaten, scowled and headed for the back door. “When Betsy gets ’ome,” he called over his shoulder to the cook, “ask her to stay put, will ya? I’d like to ask ’er somethin’.”
    “Are you goin’ to ask ’er to the Crystal Palace?” Wiggins asked excitedly. “I ’eard it’s the last week for the Photographic Exhibition. I bet she’d love to go. I sure would,” he hinted. “There’s a diorama and a military band and…and…”
    “Yes, I’m goin’ to ask ’er.” Smythe grunted irritably as he stepped out the back door. Blast, he didn’t like the idea of her going to some studio in Soho. Annoyed that she’d slipped out before he could talk to her, he was also wracked with guilt. He’d planned on taking Betsy to thePalace alone. But he knew how badly Wiggins wanted to go. The lad had talked about the exhibition for days now. Only the boy probably hadn’t the money to go before it closed. Wiggins put a good portion of his wages in his post office savings account. Mrs. Jeffries had seen to that, and it was a good thing too. Money slipped through the footman’s fingers like water. Smythe was torn. He wanted an evening or an afternoon alone with Betsy, but if he didn’t

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