A/N: THIS IS IT!
The Final Chapter is here! Enjoy!
Sherlene Holmes and the Three Gables
Isadora led Sherlene to the drawing room. The room, just like the rest of the house, showed off the lady of the house's wealth. It was larger then the sitting room back at Baker Street. The floor was made of an expensive title, while thick curtains and large portraits of people, who were no doubt part of Isadora's rich family, covered the walls, making it almost impossible to tell what color they were. Sherlene could see no chairs expect for the two pillow-filled yellow couches on the side of the room away from the great fireplace. Tables of all kinds darted around the room with lamps or exotic plants or flowers on their surfaces filled the rooms decorative. As she placed her hat and cane on one particular, Sherlene took note that the mask and hat Isadora was wearing during the costume party last night was on the same table, laying underneath a large vase of pink flowers.
As she quietly removed her gloves, she could feel Isadora's eyes on her back, studying her, trying to find weakness.
"You're a gentleman?" Isadora said, finally "I will treat you as my friend."
That was a new one.
Never in her entire life had someone referred to her as a chivalrous, well-mannered, and honorable man of refinement. That honor had to go to Watson, not her. But it was not one of the worse of things Sherlene had been called throughout her life. In fact, it was one of the nicest things her opponents had ever called her, though it was inaccurate.
Isadora's eyes reflected what she thought of Sherlene to be. A woman, though intelligent, believed herself to be a man. She dressed like one, despite wearing a skirt and a woman's cape and hat. Sherlene's often un-lady-like behaviors would further Isadora's argument. With this in mind, Isadora believed she could handle her since she knew how to handle men.
But that was the flaw in Isadora's plan.
Because no matter what Isadora believed, Sherlene was indeed a woman, through in through, no matter how masculine she dressed or behaved. Sherlene had never let herself think of her as anything more then what she was. Never in her life would she fool herself into believing she was a man in a woman's body. Thus Isadora's charms would not work on her.
"I cannot promise to reciprocate," the woman detective warned, dropping her gloves next to her hat and turning to face Isadora.
Though taken back a little by Sherlene's response, Isadora nevertheless continued, hoping that she would eventually catch sign of her charms working. "No doubt, it was foolish to threaten such a brave man as yourself."
Sherlene held back a laugh. Isadora really could not see that calling her a man would not turn things to her favor. Though, she silently took a little flattery at the compliment of being brave.
"No," was Sherlene response, her face and tone schooled perfectly "What is really foolish that an intelligent woman, like you, is to place yourself in the power of a band of rascals who could blackmail give you away."
Isadora gave a hmph in disagreement. "No, no, I'm not so simple. None of them have the least idea who their employer is."
"But Barney Stockdale and his wife."
Isadora fell silent in surprise. She did not know that Susan unwisely gave that piece of evidence away when Sherlene confronted her back at Three Gables yesterday.
"They are good house, word of silent," Isadora answered
So she did not know that at least one of the thugs under Barney Stockdale knew who was employing them. Steve Dixie never said anything out loud, but his behavior suggested that he knew. Because he was, after all, Barney's most trusted lackey and someone needed to keep the other gang members under control while Barney was locked up in prison. Lord knows Susan could not do that. Despite being the gang leader's wife, she was a woman and the gang would not follow a woman, even if ordered to.
"No doubt prepared to go to prison for you?" Sherlene asked
"They take what comes. That is what they are paid for."
"And…" Sherlene turned to look at the only large mirror in the room. "Mr. Haines-Johnson?"
Both Isadora and the stiff-back servant Sherlene had passed while coming up the stairs, currently hidden behind a nook in the room, froze. They had not expected Sherlene to know he was in the room or even know who he was.
Sherlene had recognized known who the servant was the moment he walked past her. By walking past her, he was trying to make Sherlene think that she and Isadora would be alone when they entered the drawing room. It might have worked had the light not reflected off the knife he was holding in his hand. The reflected light then reflected again off the face the mirror and hit the corner of Sherlene's eye while she was stripping off her gloves, catching her attention. She caught the hidden man's reflection in the mirror while turning towards Isadora.
Apparently, they planned to ambush Sherlene if they found her too dangerous of a threat to be let out of the house alive.
But having successfully thwarted the planned ambush, Sherlene continued on, knowing Mr. Haines-Johnson would not attack her now that he had been discovered. He was not a very fighter without the element of surprise. "Surely is not his name," Sherlene said, watching out of the corner of her eye, as the former criminal use his knife to crave the apple he was holding in his other hand "What is he paid for?"
"Miguel…is like a brother to me," was Isadora hesitant answer. A lie of course but the former criminal was higher up in Isadora's favor then most.
"As for the others," Isadora sustained, "They work. And I don't appear in the matter."
"Unless I bring you into it."
Isadora smiled, putting on another display of charm that would bring weakness to a man. "But you're a gentleman, Ms. Holmes. You respect a woman's secret."
At that, Sherlene did let out a short laugh and her voice showed her disagreement "Is murder a woman's secret?"
Isadora's face composer fell at the question. She took a second to regain herself enough to look Sherlene in the eye. "Murder?" she asked as though confused
Without dropping her gaze, Sherlene slipped a hand into her vest pocket and pulled out the piece of paper from within it. She unfolded it and held it up for Isadora to see. She read off the strongest sentence but substituted the second-person view for a first person one.
"My face bled," Sherlene said watching Isadora's face lose its self-control again, "My stomach burned from the savage blows. But it was nothing to the bleeding of my heart. Page two four five."
Isadora made to grab the paper but Sherlene was quick to snatch it away. "There was a witness, Mrs. Klein," Sherlene told her, her voice dropping into a quieter level, making the apparent danger more real to Isadora. "The prize-fighter Steve Dixie would testify against you."
Isadora was silent for a moment, before gathering the strength back to her voice to keep it from shaking. "And all this you told my future mother-in-law."
"What I told the Duchess is not important since she cannot prevent your marriage to your son," Sherlene said, tucking the page safely back into her pocket
"No, she cannot," Isadora agreed, turning away from Sherlene and walking towards the fireplace, putting some space between the two women. "And you believe that you can?"
"Oh yes," was Sherlene's uncaring answer
"Why should you wish to?" Isadora asked, setting a little closer to Sherlene "Is it because I'm a foreigner?" T hat had to be it because was the only thing that made sense to Isadora on why Sherlene would hate her. She smiled mockingly.
"Are you an English snob, Ms. Holmes?" She smiled in victory when she saw Sherlene's expression at being called a snob. "Let me tell you! My people had been leaders in Pernambuco for generations."
Having quickly gotten over the dislike of being called a "snob," Sherlene decided it was now time to use the information Langdale Pike had given her. It was all she had now and she was going to use it.
Schooling her features back into a calm coldness, Sherlene let loose her weapon. "Madam…you are the bastard child of a gypsy in delusion."
Isadora's expression fell in horror. This woman who believed herself to be a man knew her true origin! The darkest and most carefully guarded secret she had!
"You horrible damn—!"
Isadora leapt at Sherlene, intending to claw her face. She had not expected Sherlene to grab her wrists, stopping her hand just centimeters from her face. The grip was stronger then Isadora could imagine a woman could have in her body. Sherlene's grip was as strong as iron—unyielding, unbreakable and inescapable.
Not letting go, Sherlene through Isadora's arm out to side, bringing to the two women nose-to-nose. All the wild, Sherlene's expression stayed in that same calm coldness while Isadora's dread elevated.
"Who told you?" she asked, her voice a dreaded whisper. Only a very small handful people knew of her true origin and she had been sure all of them had been trustworthy enough to keep the secret to themselves. Apparently, she had made a mistake somewhere.
"It is my trade," was Sherlene's coolly calm response before she threw Isadora off of her, sending her back to the fireplace where she staggered against it "Now you must give me the manuscript."
Isadora grabbed the fireplace poker in response, intending on stabbing the woman with it before her head caught up with her. "You wish for ashes in a paper bag," she told Sherlene, her voice devoid of any victory because of the knowledge that someone outside of her confidents knew of her true origin, the real danger of losing all she had.
She threw the poker onto the floor and leaned against the fireplace again in defeat. There was only one thing left for her to do now to ensure that this strange woman would keep the secret to herself. Try to gain her sympathy and show her feelings toward her fiancée were truer then her feelings and actions towards the other men she had shared her bed with.
"You are hard to me," she started "Look at it with my eyes. A life's admission about to be ruined."
"The original sin was yours," Sherlene countered coolly
"Yes I know. Douglas. Yes, I did love him. Truly. Yes, yes, I did for a while in my passion. And he wanted marriage, nothing less would serve him and it did not fit with my plans."
"And so you hired ruffians to beat him until he was nearly dead under your own window. Is that the act of a lady?" Sherlene asked, her voice still cold
"Yes it is true," Isadora admitted, "Barney and his boys drove him away, perhaps a bit too roughly. But what did he do then? He wrote a book! A vicious bestial attack! Is that the act of a gentlemen?"
"You knew his publisher had not received it."
"Yes," Isadora answered, heading towards the couches to sit down. Her legs felt too weak to keep her up anymore as she told the strange woman the truth. "So it had to be in the house of his grandmother. As long as that book existed, there was no safety for me. I wanted to do anything, honestly. I offered her any price she cared to ask. But she won't take it."
Only because you made her suspicious when you would not let her remove her possessions from her house, Sherlene thought. If the agreement was to sell the house and the furniture then her possession should have not mattered to you. But by not allowing her to remove her possession, you made her believe that you wanted her to be without the things she treasured, liked the mementos of her late husband, lost son and grandson. Those possessions were more important to her then money.
"Are we to be blamed for protecting ourselves?" Isadora asked, ignorant of Sherlene's thoughts.
Sherlene stayed quiet, reflecting for a moment on what Isadora relieved to her and what she was going to do about it.
"One thing intrigues me," Sherlene said, picking up the party mask off the table and studying it "Why a woman as lovely as you, who wields such power over men, need the protection of anyone?"
A tear escaped Isadora's eye and ran slowly down her cheek. If she was aware of it, she ignored it for she did not brush it away. Or she simply did not care at the moment.
"Nature…" Isadora said sadly "…doesn't give a damn for any of us." She looked back up at Sherlene, her eyes filled with water, yet expect for the one trailing down her cheek, none of the tears came out. "I love James…and I want him. He represents all I ever desired…and my one chance of a kind of security to which I could be his."
She looked back up at Sherlene's face, as cold as it was there was some sympathy in her eyes "And you would take it away from me. Why?"
Sherlene did not answer.
"Why?" Isadora asked again raising from her seat.
Still Sherlene remained silent.
Isadora persisted. "Why?"
Sherlene raised her chin a little higher and answered finally.
"Because you are a destroyer of men."
Of all the reasons Isadora thought or expected Sherlene might tell her, that one was not what she had expected. She expected her to use her origin as the reason. She had even expected resentment for the rich, the powerful, the proper and the beautiful. She had expected animosity, but Sherlene said it as though it were a fact…a true undemonstratively cold hard fact.
"Oh yes," Sherlene went on saying secretly pleased to see Isadora had been shocked speechless "You who destroyed Douglas Maberley." Her eyes narrowed harden until they were nothing more then small chips of ice. "And very nearly my dear friend, John Watson with a ruthless disregard for anything but your own selfish interests."
That was the reason for what she was doing this to Isadora. Isadora destroyed men whether she intended to or not. Her fiancée, the Duke, was still a child in his mind. He is only in love with Isadora because she was still beautiful and had energy. But when Isadora could no longer hide behind the cosmetics, and no longer had the energy to keep up with her husband or the world, she would destroy him much worse then she did anyone else. She had damaged enough lives and it was time that Isadora faced the consequences of her selfishness head on and alone.
"Why have I fell with you?" Isadora asked
"I require only this," Sherlene told her, ignoring the question "That I read of the breaking of your engagement to the Duke of Lomand by Thursday morning."
"And if I refuse?"
"Scotland Yard. A full investigation with witnesses."
"I'm at your mercy," Isadora said, resigning herself. There was nothing else she could do but do what this strange and now risky woman wanted of her "Do your worst!"
Sherlene turned back to the table to gather her things. "How much does it cost to go around the world in first class style. Let me see…yes! You will send a cheque for five thousand pounds to Mrs. Maberley. You owe her a little change of that. Goodbye Mrs. Klein. I have no doubt I shall see you again one day…on the arm of a king."
With that, Sherlene left, knowing she her bluff worked.
Come Thursday morning, Sherlene and Watson were at St. James's Park. Watson had just picked up the morning paper from a vender and stood under the shade of tree, reading out loud for Sherlene to hear from where she stood, leaning against the tree trunk. She was wearing her skirt again and staring straight ahead at window of a gentleman's club.
There was only one article however both Watson and Sherlene were interested in. The one entitled "Duke's Engagement Shock."
"And therefore the celebrated beauty Mrs. Klein has departed for Spain," Watson read with surprise.
When Sherlene left Isadora's resident a few days back, she did not tell him anything expect to wait for Thursday's paper. For the past days, he had been left in the dark about what she did and now he knew, he wasn't quite sure what to think.
Feeling his legs go weak from disbelief, Watson quickly sat down in one of the two park chairs under the tree both he and Sherlene were standing under. "Her people had been leaders in Pernambuco for generations," he finished reading
"Well!" he said, folding up the paper and plopping it down on the other chair "That's a dignified report! I wonder what others would have made of it."
Sherlene did not answer, but she did raise her cane toward the window she was staring at.
On the other side of the window, Langdale Pike set down his newspaper, his eyes on Sherlene. He held up the little folded piece of paper bearing the dark secret of Isadora Klein for her to see. Then he began to ripe the paper into pieces then threw the pieces into the air, signaling that she had won the game yet again much to his pleasure.
"You let her off the hook Holmes," Watson told her, ignorant of the little exchange between Sherlene and Pike.
"I'm pondering what do you mean*?" Sherlene asked
Sherlene shook her head sadly, "It would have been impossible to prove."
Steve Dixie's testimony and the last page of the book was not enough proof to convict Isadora of anything, especially murder. However, Isadora did not know how little proof she had. Her fear of her dark secret origin's discovery was all that Sherlene needed to get her out of London. That was all that the woman detective wanted: Isadora to leave London with the lesson Sherlene taught her.
"Mrs. Klein has learnt that she can't play with ancient tools forever without cutting those aging hands of her," Sherlene told Watson, "Time is not on her side. Shall we?"
As Sherlene and Watson left the park, the Case of Three Gables closed with Isadora Klein being both victim and aggressor, just like Douglas Maberley was. The only true victim during all this was Mary Maberley and she was happy now, finally fulfilling her dream of exploration. The Duchess no longer needed to worry about her son and the Duke would learn a valuable lesson from this breaking engagement. In the end, this case proved that it was best to let these events be over and done with and fade away into the past.
Justice was not needed this time around.
*Stupid speakers and Jeremy's accent strike again!
Did anyone know that Edward's youngest daughter, Emma, played Dora during this episode? I only just found this out.
And that's it! The first story of my Sherlene Holmes series is finished. I hope you enjoyed it. Up Next:
The Resident Patient -Coming Soon