SH07. The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove

SH07. The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove

Author:James Lovegrove
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Titan
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

A KIND OF MUTINY

The boat was duly lugged out of the boathouse and laid onto a pair of trestles fitted with canvas straps which cradled the hull in the manner of a sling. Holmes then set to inspecting it from end to end, giving it his customary microscopic attention. Not a plank, not a bolt, not a screw went unstudied. He checked the gates on the riggers, the leather bindings which fastened the oarsmen’s feet to the footrests, and the runners on which the seats slid. In particular he scrutinised the narrow niche at the stern where the cox sat. He tugged the cords which controlled the rudder and ran a finger along the inside of the saxboards, the top edges of the gunwales.

The crew were bemused by the amount of time he spent looking over the boat. To anyone unaccustomed to Holmes’s methods it might have appeared that he was in the grip of an obsession, a mania even. No detail, no minutia of the vessel’s construction seemed too small to be of notice.

Finally he pronounced himself done. “I am satisfied,” said he, “that there is nothing further to be gleaned here. You may return the boat to its rack, gentlemen. Before you do, however…”

The crew, who had assembled on either side of the boat to pick it up, halted.

“Yes?” said Stevens.

“Perhaps you might explain why you have lied to me.”

“I?”

“Not just you. All eight of you.”

“That’s preposterous. I’ve told you only the truth. We all have.”

“No, you have not. You have lied consistently all day, first to Mr Gill, now to me. Trenchard did not jump out of the boat.”

“He did,” said Stevens, “and I defy you, sir, to prove otherwise.”

“Oh, that will not be a problem,” said Holmes. “The evidence is right in front of us. You, Stevens, and your cohorts have colluded in a rather cunning ruse, all to cover up the fact that Trenchard did not abscond in the colourful fashion you have collectively described. On the contrary, he is sequestered in a place of your choosing – trussed up and gagged, I’ll wager.”

“That’s a blatant—”

“Were I to enter the boathouse,” Holmes said, gesturing towards the entrance, “and look around, might I not find a storeroom of some sort?”

“There’s one at the rear of the building,” said Gill. “A cupboard, really. We keep cans of grease in it, and spare seats, tools, other paraphernalia. It is hardly used. My goodness, do you mean to say Trenchard has been there all along? I must go to him.”

Gill moved towards the boathouse, but Holmes stopped him.

“I daresay another five minutes of captivity won’t hurt. Before he is freed, I would like to hear what his crewmates have to say for themselves.”

The members of the Oriel 1st VIII blustered and protested, but guilt was writ large across their faces. The game was up and they knew it.

“After all,” Holmes continued, “if they come clean now, we can work on a strategy for dealing with Trenchard once he is released.



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