The Case of the Transposed Tenor - III

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REG

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Oct 29, 2005, 9:31:57 AM10/29/05
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It was a somber yet somehow restive audience which finally settled into the
auditorium after the events of the lamentable events of the early evening.
Holmes and I sat in the
Brunch box, and Holmes affected to give off an air of professional
indifference, although it was clear that from time to time he scanned the
other boxes in search, I imagined, of Mycroft or Punter-Pullet. There had
been some hurried discussion by management of canceling the performance, but
both Brunch and Albani, whose birthday was upcoming the following week and
who did not want to disappoint her many loyal fans, agreed that the
performance must go on.

The lights first dimmed and then raised slightly as the great curtain
parted, and one of the gentlemen of the administration came forward towards
the lip of the stage. "Ladies and gentlemen, Senor Brunch and Madame Albani
wish to dedicate
tonight's performance to the eternal memory of Maddalena de la Cruz. Music
was, for Madame de la Cruz, a source of consolation and transformation, and
our artists tonight consider it would be disloyal to her memory to cancel
the performance. We
do not believe Madame de la Cruz would have wanted us to do so, and we shall
not. However, out of respect for the memory of Madame de la Cruz, both
Senior Brunch and Madame Albani will sing their music tonight come scritto,
and without any high notes or interpolations." Applause and bravos rang
through the house, and the speaker silently withdrew through the curtains,
and the house finally fell into darkness.

"Holmes, I'm afraid I don't remember the story of this opera. Is this the
one...."

"Watson," a subdued Holmes whispered as the overture began, "the plot is
afoot."

I could feel the strain fall unexpectedly on Holmes throughout the evening.
He was undoubtedly torn between his duty to Brunch and his fraternal concern
for his younger brother. At the interval, as we walked in the now-cleaned
lobby, Holmes grabbed me by the shoulder, and indicated a group of three
young English lads speaking animatedly, and yet without embarrassment, to
his right. "Watson, that is young Master Giardia. He may become one day the
leading British conductor of our age."

:"Which one, Holmes?"

"To the left. He is the sooty-lashed one."

Had I not been a gentleman, my jaw would have dropped open in astonishment.
The youth to which he gestured was as fair and blond as the open
fields of England...had Holmes really at long last lost his powers of
observation? Had the shocks of the evening been too much even for Holmes?
"Holmes, you cannot be correct. That youth has all the joy, hope and glamour
of life before him."

"Watson, good old Watson, a fixed point in a changing world. He
was a student at Eton." I could not image what a public education could have
had to do with Holmes' comment, and perhaps Holmes was finally unhinged, but
the bells announcing the end of the interval sounded, and there was nothing
for it but to return to our box.

The evening, given the unhappy events which preceded it, was not the
brightest of the season. Madame Albani,
who had sung Isolde earlier that season, no longer had the required
lightness of execution to portray a young girl of the lower classes, and by
the time she came to the conclusion of her rondo finale, she let out, as
she lunged
for the final high note, a scream as I have never heard from a major opera
singer in my life. While Brunch seemed comfortable as Don Magnifico, he
seemed to lack something of the buffo quality which, I gathered was an
important part of the role, although I thought it wonderful that a man who
must still be in the vigor of middle age could so convincingly pass himself
as the father of a singer who was clearly approaching 50. Make-up, I
surmised, was all. Certainly, there could be no doubt that Brunch was the
favorite of the audience, particularly those who sat higher up and further
away from the stage.

As the performance ended, Holmes, who'd been restive through the evening,
arose and said, "Quickly now, Watson, back stage. We must speak to Senor
Brunch and inform him of this turn of events." We fought our way through the
exiting crowd, and made our way to Brunch's dressing room. The tenor, who
had only the sketchiest idea of what had transpired, seemed only saddened by
de la Cruz' death. "It was, Mr. Holmes, a blow for me. Madame de la Cruz and
I didn't sing together often enough, and yet I felt an almost mystical
sense of connection to
her."

"You knew her as a youngster, I understand, Senor Brunch," Holmes commented.

"No, not at all. We were both born in Madrid, of course, but she left for
this country well before I was born."

"You know, Senor Brunch, that when Holmes introduced me to Madame de la
Cruz, this evening, she began to speak of you. I think that there was
something she wanted to tell us, but unfortunately she was stricken before
she could share her thoughts with us."

"I cannot imagine what that would be, Mr. Watson. Perhaps it was nothing so
important after all. There is a saying in my home country, 'One man's flute
is another man's piccolo'."

Homes spoke, in a manner which I had seen too many times before. "Maestro
Brunch, I feel that there is something you should perhaps know. It
is my belief that Madame de la Cruz was murdered, and whoever the murderer
was, I believe that he is likely connected with your own concerns."

Brunch's eyes widened suddenly. "This cannot be, Mr. Holmes. I am the
most beloved singer before the public today - my audience knows that I love
them and give them everything I have, and they respond in the same way. I
can not believe that you are correct."

"Be that as it may be, Maestro Brunch, I have contacted Inspector LaTran,
and arranged to have you provided with a 24 hour guard."

"Will that really be necessary, Holmes? Singers are so constantly in the
public eye that we need our privacy when he have the rare occasion for it,
and
it might be awkward for me to...." Brunch hesitated. He then began again.
"Of
course, if my presence in this city is a danger to others, perhaps it would
be wiser for me to cancel the remainder of the season, and take advantage
of a generous offer from a patron to cruise the Black Sea with him and some
friends. They are leaving shortly, and I can't imagine anything safer. We
shall give concerts for the passengers, and it is something I have long
wished to do."

"I should be wary of such an alternative, Maestro Domingo. Many dangers are
to be found on the Black Sea, and so long as you feel capable of performing
in London, I believe that you will be perfectly safe if you will allow us
to
arrange your guard. I shall inform LaTran that your guards are to be the
souls of discretion, and allow you the freedom you require as an artist, and
as a man."

Holmes and I escorted Brunch out of the theatre that evening, and at the
stage door
ran into a large number of "fans", as the Americans say, who had been
waiting in the chilly weather
since the end of the performance to greet their hero. All thought of the
death of de la Cruz had been already forgotten by these poor souls, and
Brunch seemed as happy to see his "public" as they to see him. Despite
Holmes' concerns, he
insisted on stopping to talk to several of them, whom he seemed to know.
Brunch, ever a gentleman, introduced Holmes and me to each of
these unfortunates, and though one might have thought that they would be
impressed
by Holmes, Brunch's public, largely composed, it seemed,of women of the
lower
orders, had an appetite only for Brunch. Suddenly, one poor lass, who'd been
waiting towards the back of the crowd, violently pushed her way to the front
as if to embrace Brunch. Her enthusiasm startled me, and even Holmes, and I
was certain that Brunch would withdraw, but strangely, he accepted flowers,
a handful of ha'-penny violets, from her, exchanged a few words with her
that I could not hear in the din of the street noise, and then
consented to rejoin Holmes and me as we put him in his cab to return to his
hotel.

"By the way, Senor Brunch, how long have you known her?" Holmes inquired.

"Who, Mr. Holmes?"

"The lady of the violets"

"I don't actually, Mr. Holmes. I know that she is amongst my most devoted
fans, and because of her enthusiasm for opera, I have christened her
Abigaille. She comes to many of my performances, and I find it touching that
someone of such limited cultural means would take the trouble to follow my
own modest career."

It was well after midnight when Holmes and I were ready at long last
to leave Covent Garden. "Watson, why not come and spend the night at Baker
Street? Mrs. Hudson can surely put up a cot for you."

"Holmes, that is indeed a generous offer indeed, and I am appreciative to
take you up on it". I
had little doubt, however, that even Holmes, a man by nature independent and
phlegmatic, must be concerned about the whereabouts of his younger brother,
and would perhaps appreciate the company for the evening. We rode back to
Holmes' lodgings in unaccustomed silence.

As we rounded the corner to Baker Street, however, Holmes suddenly
brightened. "Watson, I believe that the prodigal has returned." And, as we
entered Holmes' sitting room, there indeed was a seemingly refreshed and
expectant Mycroft, sitting legs akimbo on a large couch and reading. Mycroft
has always surprised me, I must admit. Although the range of his interests
was eclectic, I wondered that he would ever achieve his brother's fame or
success, yet he seemed a youth of deep curiosity. I had never before thought
of Mycroft as a budding naturalist, and yet here he was, wide awake and
intensely making his way through a journal about animal life.

Holmes' complexion, normally ruddy, changed, however in an instant. He
looked as if he had been painted by some poor devil from low countries. "I
deduce, young man, that you have been...."

"Oh, Sherlock, let me tell you. After the terrible fall by Madame, you know,
the singer, I felt it better to move back and give you some room, and
suddenly where should I find myself buy standing right next to Mr.
Punter-Pullet. He is actually a terribly entertaining gentleman, and he
convinced me that there was no sense in waiting for the opera
to begin, since the performance would have to be cancelled and you would
spend the night with the police. He invited me to spend the evening with him
and some friends at his club
instead, to pass a few hours, and I've just come from there. "

"Holmes," I interposed, "this seems a very fortunate turn indeed. However
regrettable it was that young Mycroft could not attend the performance,
certainly you must admit that it is
all to the good that your brother would get out and meet people who will do
him a good turn in the future. I have
repeatedly offered him my club, but he has never been
interested."

But, as I turned around, I saw Holmes disappearing behind his bedroom door.
A terse "Goodnight, Watson. I shall have Mrs. Hudson make you up the sofa."
were his
last words to either of us. Holmes' departure was abrupt, but
perhaps understandable in light of the occurrences of the evening. It was
not like Holmes to allow such a surprise to so upset him, and I realized
that it must have been his long acquaintance with Madame de la Cruz which
had so affected him.

Mycroft, however, seemed wide awake, and I could see no harm in some
intercourse with him before sleep. Surely he would indulge me. I had some
curiosity in Punter-Pullet's acquaintances, and had never imagined him as
clubbable.

"Ah, Watson, it is called the Philosopher's Club."

"I am afraid that I am not familiar with The Philosopher's
Club, Mycroft. I thought that I knew most of the gentlemen's clubs in
London. It has been recently established?"

"Watson, it is not really a club as such. It is a Turkish Baths, very
modern, just off Rupert Street. I have been invited to take a membership
there. Belle and Bromhilde say they will put me up for membership whenever I
want. Bromhilde made sure I got home safely. I am tired now, and must go off
to bed. I wish you a good evening."

I picked up Mycroft's magazine, hoping to find some pictures or
descriptions of wildlife to distract me before I slept, but could make no
sense of The Chameleon, dimmed the lights,
and we. It is always strange to repose in the home of another, and sounds
and noises strange to one's ears and mind inevitably present themselves. I
felt as if I could hear the sound of a man, far off, crying, but this was
England, and I knew it could not be. Slumber overcame me.

End of Part Three.


.

La Donna Mobile

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Oct 29, 2005, 10:52:57 AM10/29/05
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Excellent! Keep it up. Just one point of detail. Sherlock and Russell
seem to have despatched Senor Brunch back to his hotel alone; surely
this will end up being like the dog that barked in the night?

REG wrote:

--
http://www.madmusingsof.me.uk/weblog/
http://www.geraldine-curtis.me.uk/photoblog/

Mrs Terfel

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Oct 29, 2005, 10:54:55 AM10/29/05
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La Donna Mobile wrote:
> Excellent! Keep it up. Just one point of detail. Sherlock and Russell
> seem to have despatched Senor Brunch back to his hotel alone; surely
> this will end up being like the dog that barked in the night?
>

Well, we all know you'd like to have Brunch........

Mrs T xx

La Donna Mobile

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Oct 29, 2005, 10:59:17 AM10/29/05
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And before anyone else chimes in, the only sausages I eat are vegetarian ones
Message has been deleted

Mrs Alagna-Hvorostovsky

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Oct 29, 2005, 11:27:59 AM10/29/05
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La Donna Mobile wrote:
>> >
> And before anyone else chimes in, the only sausages I eat are vegetarian
> ones
>

You wouldn't even be tempted by a Brunch sausage?

Mrs H-A xx

La Donna Mobile

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Oct 29, 2005, 12:06:57 PM10/29/05
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Possibly if it were a Sunday Brunch sausage...

No, no perish the thought, I'm a good girl I am. Why would I be wanting a Sunday Brunch sausage

Stephen Jay-Taylor

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Oct 29, 2005, 1:14:27 PM10/29/05
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The mask slippeth somewhateth, shurely ?

"I should be wary of such an alternative, Maestro Domingo. Many dangers are
to be found on the Black Sea, and so long as you feel capable of performing
in London, I believe that you will be perfectly safe if you will allow us
to"

That Punter-Pullett sounds a most deplorable old pervert, yet somehow oddly
endearing. Does Bromhilde have a large part ? Is Mycroft opening up in
Hammam society ? Ah, questions, questions !

SJT


REG

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Oct 29, 2005, 1:38:48 PM10/29/05
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Holmes is alarmed for Brunch, and has apparently made the faux-pas of
calling Brunch by his first name, in Spanish. It is a clue, not an error.

"Stephen Jay-Taylor" <sjayt...@btinternet.com> wrote in message
news:dk0alj$1md$1...@nwrdmz02.dmz.ncs.ea.ibs-infra.bt.com...

David Melnick

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Oct 29, 2005, 1:47:22 PM10/29/05
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REG wrote:

> Master Giardia.

I expect he's to be found at the Philosopher's Club.

I caught him at a place very like it. He used to be
quite popular there.

dav

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