Edward Kane, Advocate in A Promise is a Promise: Chapter 7
The White Hart Inn in the Grassmarket was crowded to bursting now. The din of a crowd on that happy voyage to a lubricated oblivion. And at one of the tables sat Mr Horse and the Monkey Macpherson - a great number of now-empty glasses before them.
Horse turned to The Monkey: “Well, my friend, time to hit the hay.”
Macpherson was struggling.
Horse laughed: “I think, my friend, that you are well squiffed. Get your cap. I’ll make sure you get home.”
Macpherson nodded: “Aye, I’d better. I’ve got thone big windows tae clean in the morn. Frederick Street. And that Old Man Fergusson is a right...a right...”
Horse stopped him: “Fergusson? Fergusson the lawyer?”
The Monkey, bleary, nodded. Horse smiled: “Then, my friend, you can do your old pal, Horse, a turn here...”
Jim Sim, Advocate, had to cover his face to stifle the laugh: “Oh, Edward, Edward...the dog ate the letter? Priceless!”
Sim and Edward Kane were promenading up and down Parliament Hall again, discussing the case. Kane had to laugh: “I fear, Jim, that should I produce the document, it will be readily recognisable on account of the flies buzzing around it.”
They laughed again. Then Jim Sim - always amenable - said: “Well, it’s never been denied that the letter was written by Thomas Tack. In fact, I have instructed Fergusson and Fergusson to lodge an example of their headed notepaper.”
“That’s very decent of you, Jim...”
“However,” Sim continued, “I assume that you will lodge the other letter - the one with the great red-ink scrawl warning off the fair Rosemary?”
Kane nodded: “I confess that I found it surprising that a sensitive soul like Thomas Tack could bring himself to pen such a brutal missive.”
Jim Sim stopped: “Oh, Edward, wake up, my friend. The poor penmanship alone in the red ink should tell you that this was not the work of Thomas Tack.”
Jim Sim laughed: “Tack’s employer - Old Man Fergusson - that old man’s paw-prints are all over this mess. Saints preserve us from dog-lovers...”
Jim Sim put his hand on Kane’s arm. Deadly serious now: “Edward, please do not think me impertinent...”
Kane knotted his eyebrows: “Yes...?”
“... and I say this respectfully - don’t you see what this case is really about?”
The friends stood in silence for a time.
Frederick Street. Outside the offices of Messrs Fergusson and Fergusson. The Monkey Macpherson assessed the scale of the task before him.
“There’s an awful lot of windaes - I’ll take the front, son, and you can make a start on the back.”
Armed with buckets, rags, ladders, and a tiny, nine year-old boy - to deal with any work that entailed crawling up a chimney - the Monkey pointed to the front door.
“But go inside first - and see if there’s a ‘Mr Tack’ aboot...”
When Edward Kane checked his work box the following morning, he noted that a bundle of papers had been placed there. It was the Inventory of Productions that Jim Sim had promised. The first item was, as promised, a blank sample of headed notepaper bearing the heading “Fergusson and Fergusson”. Good old Jim Sim - always true to his word. And there were other, more puzzling items in that bundle of productions. A neat and carefully scribed copy of what appeared to be some old Parish records - mostly Baptisms and Deaths - easily a decade old. Kane smiled: And all in Latin, to boot. And why the names of flowers? Is that ‘hyacinth’?
“Where is that boy?”
The Monkey Macpherson had other rounds to do, and the lad had now been in the offices for a good five minutes or so - and no sign of him now - or Thomas Tack, for that matter. He decided to take a chance and leave his cleaning paraphernalia and enter the offices of Fergusson and Fergusson. It should be said that the Monkey MacPherson was not a man given to shock, but it must be recorded that he did feel a significant measure of surprise when the first thing that he witnessed in that office was an elderly gentleman picking up a small dog with both hands and hurling the poor creature in the direction of a young clerk writing at a nearby desk. The dog hit its target. The clerk seemed stunned for a moment, but then placed the animal gently down onto the floor. And then the clerk resumed his copying of letters. The old man, seething, yelled a single word: “Despoiled!” and left the room. The little creature limped over to a large wicker basket in the middle of the office. The Monkey peered over and saw that the basket contained...
“Yes, Mr K - that’s what the Monkey seen, sir. A basket full of puppies. Five of them, he says”
Edward Kane, stood there processing the news: “Breed?”
Horse continued: “He says he don’t know. And when it comes to dogs, sir, the Monkey knows his onions. A mix breed, he says. But ‘beautiful’, he says. Beautiful little mongrels they are...”
McAdam slammed the papers down on to his desk: “And what in the blue blazes is this about?”
Kane was sitting in the offices of McAdam and McArthur, knees together, holding the cup and saucer and weathering the storm. He motioned to the discarded papers on the table. “It’s a diversionary tactic, Mr McAdam. The other side say that there is something wrong with our case, and so they wish to debate it before a judge.”
McAdam sat back in his chair: “This is Old Man Fergusson being…Old Man Fergusson. The chap is insufferable. I have told him so to his face. Can’t stand the chap. Nor he me. This is probably…just…I don’t know…”
Kane studied McAdam’s face. For the first time since they had met, Kane noted that McAdam looked nervous. The young Advocate continued: “Well, I have re-read the papers in the case, Mr McAdam. This is a standard Summons. I am confident that our case has been pled in a competent and relevant matter.” He pointed to the discarded papers on the table: “This motion is a mystery to me. Unless, of course, there is something that you are not telling me, Mr McAdam.”
The solicitor started tugging at his collar: “Don’t be ridiculous...”