"2018," said Jasmine, "not long before Isa and Milly – the older ones – went over there, so the stuff they're up to back in the 1820's must have been just before they arrived here," and Riddle commented, drily: "certainly looks very like it, you really have to ensure they're kept in custody, don't let Peter Boo wheedle anything out of the Sheriff," at which Teri said: "at the risk of sounding like an Eeyore, I feel like we could be on the verge of losing them – if they could escape from custody in the Bronx, how easy would it be for them between Hawick and Jedburgh?" but Felix had an idea, and produced a scriptor from his pocket: "looks like a pen-holder, but don't let appearances fool you," he said as he opened it and showed them a tiny pin: "it's a tracker, if you can get someone at Hawick Cop Shop to hide it in their clothes somewhere, in the sole of a shoe, or suchlike, you can use this to follow them." and from the little case he produced what looked like a small screen, when he switched it on, it displayed a map of the area of the High Street far above their heads, with a pulsing red dot in the centre, "and if you prefer, it can be changed to Satellite," and at the touch of a button the map changed to an aerial view of the same place, and Teri pointed at the image on the outside of box: "what's that bird with the eyestripe?" but just as Felix was telling her: "it's an Osprey, my pal Oscar Fingers O'Flaherty makes them in Leith, he does surveillance drones as well," there was a creak and a metallic clang above them as the iron hatch fell into place and the lights went out; they heard bolts being slid into place and then footsteps fading into the distance: "quick!" snapped Riddle, "the other way out, let's hope he – or she – doesn't know about it!" and as they pushed through the small doorway, Teri thought to herself: "fat chance of that. . . . .!"
It wis sae obvious an at the same time utterly unbelievable, an it struck me wi sic force that ah felt ah'd been a gloomy Eeyore, a little titch wi the ane idée fixe in ma heid, a stuck-in-the-mud pedestrian when ah should huv been soarin roon the Himalayas wi the Swami an the Eagles; in man mind ah pictured the engraving, as it presented itsel tae moi, an in ma imagination ah turned it roon, like upside doon, an saw it as it really wis:
Sir Parlane MacFarlane
Hereditary Chieftain of
The Clan MacFarlane
Prince Edward Island
January 1st 2038
an the Swami cried oot tae Wee Wullie, wha wis headin back tae the Saloon wi a tray o empty glasses: "please, if you pray, Master William, to be so kind, as to indulge our oology, a dish of boiled eggs and hot buttered toast, to fetch and a fresh pot of the strongest tea aboard," and Wullie gied us a wink and a thumbs-up!
"Well," said Felix, "they went to the Saloon for luncheon, then returned to the Forecastle, but were disturbed quite soon after," and Jasmine asked: "by what? or whom?" and Felix read on: "the Swami telt me mair aboot the encounter amang the mountain valleys an passes in Afghanistan, when he rescued the young Scotch subaltern cried MacFarlane – addin that the faimly resemblance was owerwhelmin an that iffen he didna ken better, he's swear they wis yin an the same: 'o, Sir Principle to me his blandishments offers, as if I a trained monkey were and greedy for tit-bits,' when oo wis interrupted by a loud 'Halloo!" an the faces o MacFarlane an Doubleday appeared ower the rail "why, such a cosy little nide these two partridges have discovered for themselves,' said the Baronet, offering cigars to me and the Swami – which we baith declined, then his hip flask, which we baith accepted, and when ah'd handed back the flask, he sits hissel doon atween us, wi Doubleday loungin ower the rail; then MacFarlane gied us a lang exposition oan the unworldliness o Tapleyism, commentin that seein the world thru rose-tinted spectacles cood easily be a naive person's undaen, an hopin that oo never suffered such a fate," then, wi Doubleday smirkin, they left us tae ruminate, until the Swami said: "you notice, my wee Mental Detective, the clue unwittingly he exposed?' an ah stared at him, gobsmacked, an replied 'nah, Swami, ah didnae see owt?' and the Swami chuckled an tousled mah hair, then promised to teach me the art of whit he cried CRUD an when ah askit him whit it meant, other than a Country Pancake or Coo-Pat, he laughed and explained that when I Can Read Upside Down, I would learn many more secrets, an then telt aboot the engraving on MacFarlane's hip flask, an fair cood huv blown me ower wi a feather!"
Which was when Teri's mobile rang – but with none of the style that Riddle's had just The Flight of the Bumble Bee – and she said: "it's Debbie Downer, in Melrose," and answered the call: "you'll never believe it, Teri," said Debbie, "I was handing some old hand-me-down's into the Chest, Heart and Stroke shop at the bottom of the High Street, when who should accost me?" and Teri shrugged: "who?" and Debbie began to whisper, urgently, as if she was afraid of being overheard, although Teri had already put the phone on Speaker: "Ranulph Ochan'toshan, that weasel, he's got a hearing in the Sheriff Court tomorrow to have the charges against MacFarlane and Doubleday dropped, some Edinburgh Solicitor, Peter Boo, remember him, the one who got Ochan'toshan released on bail?" and Teri nodded: "yes, and nothing's happened since, but Peter Boo was in the group who got out of Milan with Roxie, why is he acting for those creeps?" and Debbie continued: "seems Solicitors and Writers to the Signet can't refuse a client, some shite about professional ethics and the right of representation, anyway, he's going around telling anyone he can grab – or grope – that they are being made scapegoats for the deficiencies of Police Scotland, piece of kack if you ask me, but mark my words, they'll probably walk out of Court free as birds and scarper, pronto, leaving Isa and Milly in the shit – you know what lawyers are like," which Teri did; she thanked Debbie and said she and Jasmine would try to get down to Jedburgh in time for the hearing, then turned to Felix: "what happened next?"
This mornin ah fund the Swami relaxin oan a deckchair an runnin a lang string o beads thru his gnarled fingers in the forecastle, wi naebdy else nearby, so ah sat doon an read a few pages o Johnson's Dictionary; soon enuff ah heard him clear his throat an say: "well, well, Master Jeemy, tracked me down for a chat at long last have you?" an ah coodna help but look up sherply like as if ah wis guilty o sumthin an had bin fund oot by the Beak or the Bailiff but he jist gied me a friendly enuff smile, sae ah askit: "is it true ye're possessed o satyagraha, Maister Swami?" an he chuckled: "touché – beat about the bush you certainly do most not, so welcome to my dojo, humble as it is, you truly are," an ah coodna help glancin aroon, fer the Forecastle didna seem much o a gymnasium tae me – but though ah've read a lot an ken a lot o theory, ah must admit there's lots ah've never actually seen wi ma ain een, but he kent this tae: "metaphorically speaking," he explained, "the last time I physically fought, long, long ago was that, now more sedentary my position is for old man am I, action left best is to young Tiggers as such you are, Jeemy – this concerns, I take it the Redoubtable MacFarlane and Doubleday, does not it?" an there was somethin soor in his voice that made ma een smert, like as if ah'd breathed in caustic soda, an he nodded without expecting me tae voice a reply, which wis when ah realized that speakin wisnae necessary, fer he cood read ma mind like an open book!
The Chief Steward, Maister McMuckle, wis a richt auld Gummidge this efternin – when Wee Wullie, the Cabin Boy drapped a glass o grog, the Steward jumped like a bomb had gone aff richt ahint him an threatened tae hae him dragged tae the machicolations, whaur the guns wud be if this wis a warship, an use him as a human cannonball, but his misexpression – fer it wisnae Wullie's fault, he'd been accidentally tripped by the Swami's walkin stick – and when abdy heard aboot the tongue-lashin he gied Wullie, it didna redound ower well fer the Chief Steward: Captain Handy summoned him tae the Bridge and gied him baith barrels fer yellin like a banshee at a wee laddie an actin in a manner that brocht discredit tae the uniform; an then he said in a quiet voice that only McMuckle an ah cood hear, fer ah wis oan the roof, listenin hard wi ma lug pressed agin it, he said: "ye had a hard time oan The Pleurisy, when ye'se cam under fire fi the Yankees in '12, but pull yersel thegither, maun, oor no at war wi the Colonies noo an Wull's a guid laddie isnae he?" and the Chief Steward agreed heartily, which ah wis able tae tell Wullie, when ah fund him in his hammock, an richt enuff, the Chief Steward dealt wi it manfully and the pair o them shook hauns an McMuckle gied him a penny piece; aw's weel that ends weel, or sae it seems tae moi.
Well, it wud jist be ma misfortune tae huv nae opportunity for a private conversation wi the Swami theday, an the weather bein foul, there wisnae even the distraction o Shug's delphinestrian exhibitions, sae maist passengers remained either doon below decks or – if adventurous - spent some time in the Saloon; perhaps the only advantage in bein a child, bairn, nipper, wean, powhead, tadpole, sprat, or ony ither o a hunner pejoratives, is that o invisibility: no literally, of course, but in the perceptions o grown-ups; sae whiles a sat curled up in a corner wi a copy o Blackwoods, readin a very humorous article arguin the case fer Universal Time aw ower the Kingdom, an must admit ah did laugh oot loud a few times, ah also observed that instead o the usual pittin the Saloon clock back when the midday sun is owerheid, theday, when the gales everted the clouds an we got sicht o a sickly-lookin sun, the Steward hud tae pit it forrard, cos the Cutty Sark had actually been blown backwards! – an ah owerheard the amarinthine Swami remark tae ane o the waiters that he hoped the voyage wudnae tak fowerteen or fifteen weeks! ma heid started poundin at the thocht o bein stuck in a boat fer between three an fower months – it might be quicker oan a Dolphin!
While all the other passengers and the rest of the crew were watching Shug's daredevil display of delphinestrian, I crept down to the passenger cabins and picked the lock on Maisters MacFarlane an Doubleday's door – another example o the benefit o a voracious reading regimen (ah devour aw an ony words an iffen they're new, mak it ma object tae discern their meaning: Maister Johnson's Dictionary has it's uses but no fer every obscure word, but ah brocht twa ithers alang as weel - borrowed fi Minto Hoose Library - an ma Thesaurus which is gey handy tae; pickin locks cam fae an article in Blackwood's Magazine atween a recipe fer Haggis an a review o Lady Punchestown's second volume of Irish Ballads; onyhoo, aince ah wis in it wis a metter o answerin the wh-questions plus the aw-important HOW? – no that ah really expected obvious or instant answers tae be divulged in ma first search, ah coodny spend lang fer they could come clatterin doon the gangway ony time, but efter findin a poke o dried girolle mushrooms, quite tasty, ah cam across a notebook written in the hand o Sir Parlane (drat, ah did thon yesterday, it's sumthin a heard Swami Officer say, ah'll hae tae find oot whit he kens) Sir Principle, with places an dates, some in the past and ithers in the future, but ower far aff tae signify intended visits, cos they’ll baith be deid an buried by then – unless they ken the secret o Methuselah, or auld Gaffer Grimble at Minto Hoose, he must be twa hunner if he's a day, ha ha! – ah made full use o ma memory practice, had a guid stare at each page an got them aff pat in ma heid, the next question is that great big HOW? how dae thae fit thegither an whaur did the twa gentlemen return fae? ah checked the walls, ceilin, cupboards and drawers, under the beds ans even the porthole – ah could micht fit through it at a pinch, but na them, an even if ah did, the only wey is doon intae the sea, there's naethin tae haud on tae tae climb up; so if aw the likely answers ur impossible, whitever's left, nae metter hoo unlikely, must be the solution; methinks the dates an places in the notebook are highly significant, an the first thing tae dae is check up on whit ah can find oot aboot the PAST, it may provide a signpost tae the FUTURE! ah didnae wait tae hear them comin, wi the notebook memorised, ah slipt oot the cabin an made ma wey tae ma ain, which is jist a wee niche atween twa corners, a truckle bed, a box fer ma belongins, some hooks fer ma claes, an a board on ma knees fer a desk, the Carpenter kindly fitted a bracket fer a caundle above ma heid so's ah kin read in bed, nae porthole fer such an insignificant passenger as me, but aince ma een are runnin ower a printed page, ma cramped surroundins fa' awa an the hale world opens up in ma imagination an am the maist contented wee laddie in the Universe!
They listened as Felix read out the entry in Murray's Journal: "Twelfth day aboard The Cutty Sark,, Shug, the maist darin o the shiphands, demonstrated his skills as a delphinestrian – no on a real dolphin, jist the carpenter's saw-horse, but he assures us that when to creatures appear he will mak guid his promises (aye, weel, ool see if he does, he luiks fairly brave, sorry fer the doontoner, Shug, but brave is as brave does) the ladies ower their sea-sickness, spend mair time on deck, starin westward intae the bricht. blue yonder – nae sign o anither boat, but – cept fer Mistress Jamieson's maid, Nancy, wha aye gazes tae the Orient, whence lies Liverpool, she's hame-sick; doon a crack in the boards, ah fund a wee token engraved in whit ah think is the futhark, or Runic langwidge, Maister Officer telt me he recognises a resemblance tae auld Sanskrit, but he micht be pullin ma leg; this efternin, ah couldna find Sir Parlane nor Darcus onywhaur – their cabin wis empty, wi nae hidin place – then a bit later ah heard a thump, like men's bits stampin oan the flair an a few meenits later, they baith cam oot, stealthy-like, but didnae see me cos ah wis in ma wee berth, keekin at the key-hole; verra, verra, VERRA curious, ah wunder whaur they'd been tae – methinks a serious investigation is ca'ed fer: Jeemy Murray Mental Detective oan the joab!" you could have heard a pin drop!
"Yes," said Riddle, while "no," said Felix, but "on the other hand," said Riddle, and "you may have a point," said Felix, then laughing, Jasmine said: "shuddup with the anacoluthon an tellus bout all this stuff," indicating the filing cabinets, rolls and bundles of legal documents, ring binders and packed shelves, much of it dusty and mouldering: "there's a pursy kind of look to it," said Teri: "flat-pack, self-assembled, I take it no-one else knows about this place?" which Riddle confirmed: as far as he could discover, all the indications were that it had been used only by generations of Martin Elginbrods: "probably since the Tolbooth was burned down, but I think the way we came in was a later addition, probably by the grandfather of the one I work for," which Felix confirmed, and showed them the schematics on his tablet; "so what is all in here?" asked Teri, and Felix explained that it all related specifically to Sir Parlane MacFarlane and Dominic Doubleday, and he showed them the little black book: "look here, the last entry is a reference to that filing cabinet, the newest one," as he took a set of small keys from his pocket and opened it: "this is a festschrift lauding Elginbrod by a host of purported academics and legal eagles, it's a vanity thing, all written by himself, but here is a note about your two targets – they'd been in Glasgow after the war, WWII, then something happened and they turned up in Antarctica – Project Tabarin, during the war – and from there, they were in Germany, Berlin, before the war; and in France before the Revolution, visiting the Marquis de Sade; they seem to switch between several of those Place/Time loci, you know, backwards and forwards, and visited Denholm near Hawick in 1843 and made their way to Liverpool and took a ship for America, but if they are switching, it's going to be difficult to determine where and when is their – Present – no other word for it!" and Felix chipped in: "in Denholm they seemed to make an impression on a wee boy, Jeemy Murray, who grew up to become Sir James Murray of the Oxford English Dictionary; and I just happen to have on my person a Journal of his, which he kept from 1840 to 1880, and he describes meeching off school and going wish them in search of Tom Jenkins," and Jasmine said: "but they must have some kind o 3D map, like the London Underground, showing the connections, so they can come and go between points – there's obviously nothing very haphazard to their jumping!" which was when Felix said: "and I just might be able to help you there – it's in Murray's Journal!"
"What. . . . .?" said Jasmine, and Riddle gave an apologetic shrug: "it's a new ringtone one of my daughters put on my phone," and held it up, "it's a message from. . . . ." but Jasmine interrupted him: "not the bloody song, I saw a face, behind you!" and: "oh, sorry, it's just me," said another youngish man, stepping into the torchlight, as Riddle relit the storm-lamps then introduced the apparition: "this is Felix Rosenstiel, he's in the League too, he's a Social-Geographer and it was thanks to him we found this place," and then Felix spoke: "there were some old mediaeval maps of Edinburgh in the Sasines at Register House, and when I put an overlay of the High Street as it is now, we could see all the old closes underneath the modern buildings, and not just Mary King's," and Riddle: "so when we looked closely around Elginbrod's Chambers, we realised that the building was over Spud Tamson's Close and that there was a rear access to the dungeons under the Old Tolbooth," and Teri asked: "so this was a dungeon?" and Riddle nodded, and Felix said: "we got a tracker and Riddle put it in Elginbrod's coat and I was sitting on a bench outside, and had schematics of the area on my laptop," then Riddle: "and he was able to track Elginbrod down three flights of stairs and through a maze of passages and down into this dungeon," and Felix added: "but he left a different way – through the doorway I came in by, that leads under St Giles and then the High Street and comes out down Advocates Close, very appropriate!" and Riddle laughed, and said: "apophenia is what distinguishes Social-Geography from what we got at school," and Felix confirmed: "lots of seemingly separate threads, or strands, that appear quite discrete, actually pleach together and explain a lot," and Riddle added: "it seems that this particular dungeon was where the sawbones dealt with prisoners who died in custody, either accidentally or of illness, even old age, which would have been anything over forty – that is not executed," and Felix went on: "sometimes the corpses were boiled down to provide clean skeletons, or interesting organs were removed and pickled, remember this was long before Burke and Hare and there weren't the same legal strictures limiting the supply of cadavers for dissection," and Riddle added: "not the number of doctors, or medical students, and a smaller population," and Jasmine said: "enough already – you two really know how to tricolate the story, are you some kind of double-act with the cross-talk?" and the two friends glanced at each other, but for once said nothing.
A blast of cold air blew out the storm lanterns, plunging the vault into darkness, and just as Riddle switched his torch back on, mitigating the sensation that the walls were closing in on them, when a burst of music ricocheted around them and a voice boomed out:
"My besaiel was a Witch doctor
And this he said to me,
When teaching me anthrozoology,
As we lay neath the Linden Tree,
'Oo, Ee, Oo-Aa-Aa,
Bing, Bang, Wallah-Wallah, Bing, Bang,"
Oo, Ee, Oo-Aa-Aa,
Bing, Bang, Wallah-Wallah, Bing, Bang!'
which caused Jasmine to let out a yelp and fling her arms wide, knocking over a roll of documents, tied with a pink ribbon, which bounced along a wall-paper pasting table and struck an empty milk bottle perched precariously at the edge and tipped it over, and it fell to the stone floor and smashed into hundreds of pieces, one of which flew up in a lazy arc, that they could all see, spinning and twisting around it's own axis and scattering the beam of light from Riddle's torch like a Disco Ball, and the slivers of light seemed to spray the vault and throw everything into relief, including the four faces which were deathly pale in contrast to the Stygian gloom, and Jasmine saw it and screamed again!
"A million Hospitals opening tomorrow! with fifty million Doctors and fifty million nurses!" Riddle Rankine snorted: "the man's obviously, certifiably, bonkers!" he pulled the car into a parking space, saying: "this is Elginbrod's car I'm using just now, and this is his private parking space; his private Archives are in an oubliette under the High Street, accessed from one of the old closes that were built over hundreds of years ago – I found a set of keys in his safe, and this," he produced a little black book: "it's a kind of Index, not very explanatory, but it seems to have belonged to the Elginbrods for centuries, certainly it lists files going back to the year dot, most of them concerning Sir Parlane MacFarlane, so who knows?" and Jasmine and Teri climbed out of the car after him and followed the Chief Clerk into a narrow close which led down the side of the Lawyer's Chambers until he stopped beside an old, weathered door, and selected a key, which turned the lock and let them into a narrow stairwell; as they descended, Rankine continued speaking: "and what are all those pensioners going to work at?" and Jasmine suggested: "maybe some of them will be the SA and SS he's going to be using to put all his enemies, not to mention refugees, in the Concentration Camps!" at which the Chief Clerk gave a hollow laugh: "yeah, right! smart thinko on his part, and everyone who works for the BBC and probably all the Opposition MPs – and the Queen signing his Special Order? whoever went to Balmoral was probably holding the hand that held the pen that signed the Order that gave the Fat Controller the powers of Cromwell – and Balmoral's probably in Lock Down, for the safety of the Royal Family, who are now under House or should it be Palace Arrest! he's completely bonkers!" but he stopped beside a low doorway and selected another key which unlocked it and they all ducked down to enter a narrow winding passage, with Rankine now using a torch, as no electricity had ever come this far into the past: "mind the buttress, or you'll get hipped," he said and then, in the plutonian gloom, with the damp walls glistening in the light of his torch, asked them: "can you guess where we are?" but both Jasmine and Teri had lost their senses of direction with the many twists and turns, so Riddle said triumphantly: "we're in the Heart of Midlothian, the marker on the site of the old jail is embedded in the cobbles right above us, and as the girls both looked up reflexively, Riddle added: "and below us, is the Archive," so they both looked down and saw a kind of manhole cover set into the flagged floor; Riddle selected another key, inserted it and turned, then pulled the hinged cover up and shone his torch into the vault, and indicated the rungs of the iron ladder which led down.
On the car radio, en-route to the High Street and Elginbrod's Archives, they could hear the Prime Minister, Boffer Johnson being interviewed by the Scots presenter Andy Macnamara: "oh well, we're going to announce TODAY that on Monday MORNING there will be a MILLION new hospitals opening, with 50 MILLION new Doctors, 50 MILLION new Nurses, and a lot of ancillary staff but no unnecessary MANAGERS, a million NEW Police Officers on the streets, supplemented by a million SPECIAL SERVICES men who will round up all the contumacious Illegal ALIENS and FOREIGN Nationals in the country and take them to special Residential CENTRES where their minds will be CONCENTRATED on learning the ERRORS in their ways and how we BRITONS expect them to behave in OUR country, and to persuade people throughout the country to be LOYAL and Productive a Special ARMY of another million men who will monitor every CITIZEN to identify any HUMBUG and DISOBEDIENCE and stamp them out – the Humbug and Disobedience, I mean, not the Citizens, HA HA - and we will be abolishing the outdated OLD AGE PENSION and putting our 12,112,000 retired people BACK to work, which will save the Government BILLIONS and enable those formerly unemployed meeple to contribute BILLIONS in Income Tax and feel that they are productive and useful members of SOCIETY and contributing to the economy rather than just being overpaid lazy COFFIN-DODGERS, and we are going to build a WALL along the Border between Northern Ireland and the REPUBLIC to put paid to Terrorist incursions AND Smuggling, and a million new workers will build a million miles of SEA DEFENCES along the entire coastline of Great Britain to prevent Illegal Alien HORDES from invading our Elysium from the Neptunian waves o'er which they come in LANDING CRAFT and Inflatable LILOs, and every City, Town and Village will have an APPOINTED Gauleiter to ensure that even the MOST recalcitrant recidivist WILL comply with ORDERS - I spoke to the Queen, her CELESTIAL Majesty, last night and she has SIGNED a Special Order Proroguing Parliament AGAIN to ensure that QUISLINGS, Cowards, COLLABORATORS, Defeatists and SURRENDERISTS can no longer prevent the Vast Majority of the Population who VOTED LEAVE in the Referendum getting THEIR way and TOMORROW we will announce that WE have Unilaterally LEFT the European Union and THIS is my very good friend General Tommy Robinson with the Special Order for the ARREST and DETENTION of YOU, Mr Macnamara BUT, have no fear, you will not be ALONE, for at this very moment all staff of the BBC ARE being arrested TOO, and replaced by a million LOYAL BRITONS dedicated to Defending TRUTH, Liberty, PROGRESS and the IRON WILL of the PEOPLE!"
Over, and after the meal, Riddle Rankine gave the two visitors a run-down on the legal practice of Martin Elginbrod before and since his disappearance – he gave no indication of the wealthy and successful lawyer's present whereabouts – telling them that the two junior Advocates in the practice, and the three solicitors, all had healthy case-files and that business, for them, was booming; Elginbrod, indeed all the Elginbrods who had practised in Edinburgh over the past eight centuries, had been particularly skilful at establishing Copyrights, ever since the second of the line had moved down from Elgin in the 13th century and established himself on the strength of his late father's epitaph: Here lies Martin Elginbrod,
Have mercy on my soul,
Lord God, As I would do were I Lord God,
And Thou were Martin Elginbrod
which had been licensed for reproduction many thousands of times and the royalties were still rolling in; he explained that by Elginbrod successfully registering Brexit on the day of that word's first appearance in print, one of the Assistant Clerks was now employed full-time on that alone, combing newspapers and magazine's, monitoring television and radio stations, both in Britain and all the other national signatories to the International Agreement on Intellectual Property, despite the simple fact that Elginbrod himself had not coined it: "that was a guy called Peter Wilding, who was the founder of a Think Tank dedicated to keeping Britain in the forefront of Europe, maintaining British Influence in the European Union – I believe he regarded Brexit as a pejorative term, based on the earlier campaign for Greece's possible Exit from the Eurozone with the portmanteau word Grexit, I don't know if anyone made money out of that one, but Wilding would probably be spitting tacks if he knew how much Elginbrod has raked in from Brexit Jeannie snorted, said she was having an early night, promised to see the others in the morning, and left them with the washing-up; and that was when Jasmine asked Riddle how long he'd been at Elginbrod's? he peered at her over the top of his glasses, which had slipped down his nose: "fifteen years, if you count the part-time clerical work I did while I was still at school, it was my uncle Izzy who got me in, he was Chief Clerk and the position of Chief Clerk tended to run in the family, ever since Levy Ratkind first worked for the third Elginbrod in 1299 – he was a Uranian Ashkenazim whose great grandfather had come over the Urals to escape the pogroms and found acceptance in Caledonia – naturally, displaced populations tend to coalesce, and the Uranians made their home in what became The Cowgate, on the southern side of the ridge which runs from the Castle Rock down to Holyrood, they also Sottished their name to Rankine; the Law then was enforced with contumacy – you had to be driven and enraged to take your persecutors through the Courts, and the first Rankine's intellect meshed well with the 3rd Elginbrod's greed – they soon developed a working practice which relieved deep pockets of handfuls of their cash – it was a bit like Forward Trading in the Stock Markets today: if you can see what course a gentleman's life is taking and make projections in what came to be known as Uranian Astrology, because it had it's birth pains in that close-knit community, you can insure against his rising and falling; so Lawyers were able to establish their hegemony in Embra long before Bankers and Stock-brokers came on the scene and their word became the doxa; no-one questioned it and soon enough it had Aye Been! and when Lawyers got rich, by biting the backs of the Wealthy, so their Clerks got comfortable riding on the Lawyers' backs; so I started in here as a part-timer, filing and forwarding, and that was about the time that Elginbrod – the father of the present one – brought the two divisions of the business, the Solicitors and the Advocates under one roof in Elginbrod Chambers, just a few steps from Parliament House and therefore had absolute control of every Brief at every stage – I don't know why no-one had thought of it before, I mean it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
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