The Music of Razors

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Book: The Music of Razors Read Online Free PDF
Author: Cameron Rogers
again. Tomorrow he could be in a watch-house cell, awaiting transport to some godforsaken prison, and that would be that for Henry Lockrose. All he would have for company between incarceration and a short drop would be the knowledge that he had never lived.
    He dragged the back of his gloved hand across each eye, apologizing as his shoulder connected with a passerby. A warm room, a good fire, and something fortifying to drink. If he could have that then anything might happen tomorrow and he would be all right.

    Stepping in from the cold Henry felt his face cracking, the bubble and guffaw of conversation enveloping him like warm water. Removing his hat and gloves he crossed the room toward the bar, a nervous outsider. At the mention of Dorian’s name the barmaid nodded—“that young feller with the sparkle in his eye”—and consulted with the manager as to which room they were in. Two minutes later Henry was taken aside by the mustachioed proprietor—a short man with well-oiled hair, his sleeves held up by garters—and shown down a narrow hall. Even above the din of the pub’s main room Henry had heard their voices singing out from behind the far door.

    Nelly Bly! Nelly Bly! Bring the broom along,
    We’ll sweep the kitchen clean, my dear,
    And have a little song.
    Poke the wood, my lady love
    And make the fire burn,
    And while I take the banjo down,
    Just give the mush a turn…

    The proprietor turned a brass handle and opened the door discreetly onto a dinnertime scene of song and unrestrained laughter.
    The song fell away, cushioned on laughter, and all eyes turned to Henry. He immediately recognized them from observations made from his bedroom window: the Talker, the Fobwatch and his wife—a plain woman with a heart-shaped face. Henry remembered seeing her for the first time and thinking she could be beautiful if she would only recognize the fact. His heart felt faint.
    She smiled, acknowledging Henry’s entry with a polite inclination of her head.
    “I believe you and Henry have met,” Dorian said, and despite feeling suddenly out of place Henry rankled at the Englishman’s presumptuous use of his given name.
    “Why yes,” she said. “I’ve seen you looking down at us from time to time, from your window at Mrs. Brown’s.”
    Henry was adrift, his mind white with embarrassment, when the proprietor lifted his coat from his shoulders, making for an awkward moment. Henry struggled out of it, turning about as he did so.
    “So, Henry,” Dorian exclaimed, as the proprietor hung Henry’s coat on the lion-footed stand by the door. “We were just this moment wondering about you.” The pub laughed and murmured as the proprietor made his exit.
    “That right?” Henry said without thinking.
    “‘That right’? Good Lord, Henry, it’s as if you were raised on a farm.”
    Henry smiled, politely as he could. He was beginning to suspect this assumed familiarity was an attempt on Dorian’s part to place him on the back foot. He would not play that game. “I was raised on a farm,” he said. “May I sit?”
    Their meal—for which Henry had arrived too late—had been roast duckling. He thought of Mrs. Brown’s watery stew and regretted every spoonful. “What was it you were wondering, exactly?”
    “From whence does he hail,” Dorian replied jovially. “What subjects stir his blood? Why does he never speak?” He leaned forward, confidentially. “The unraveling of enigmas is a subject very close to this group’s heart.”
    The pale-haired talker laughed under his breath.
    “Introductions!” Dorian proclaimed, slouching back again under the momentum of another gesture. “A mutual exposition. Please, allow me. The young man to your right is our Mr. Adam Jukes. Mr. Jukes has an insatiable curiosity and will, I’m sure, provide you with many hours of conversation. Across from you is the estimable Mr. Alfred Dysart. Mr. Dysart is a well-regarded businessman about town. And Miss Finella
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