Too long for a snippet, but there was no good place to cut. In my opinion, at least.
“You have been in Bavaria, I perceive,” said the consulting detective.
I raised an eyebrow. “Do you always greet new colleagues in such a fashion?” I asked. “It seems quite the affectation.”
Doctor Joseph Bell, RMS, RCSEd, smiled . “But of course,” he replied, a faint Scottish burr in his voice. “Better a few parlor tricks than wait for everyone to find something to say? I’m not one to waste more time than I must, Miss Knight.” He nodded to Magda. “Miss Nowak.”
I should confess, Dear Reader: ‘Knight’ is no more my actual last name than ‘Marie’ is my first. Magda’s last name is similarly obscured. Or perhaps you have already worked that out. Rest assured, my true false names were carefully chosen to have no hidden references to vampirism at all. This is real life, not a cheap dime novel.
“I appreciate your courtesy, Doctor Bell,” I replied. “Are you perceiving it from the coat? For I acquired it in Paris.”
“Of course. But the style is just now quite popular in Bavaria, thanks to the Crown Princess; and, at any rate, your companion’s boots are far too Teutonic to ever come out of a French shop. I trust I do not have to explain how I know she is Polish, has never visited England before, and has an excellent memory?”
“Of course not, Dr. Bell,” I said, with my own smile. “The name leads to a natural conclusion; and a perceptive eye could see both the way she is taking in London, and her ability to follow our conversation in English. I imagine that her accent gave it away from the beginning?”
If this was truly a parlor trick, Dr. Bell seemed untroubled that I was explaining it. “Exactly!” he said. “And well done in not muttering about sorcery or mesmerism. This is deduction, nothing more. You are quite perceptive, Miss Knight.”
And thank you for not adding ‘for a woman’ at the end of that, I thought. He might not even be thinking it; men are definitely more willing to recognize the intellectual gifts of women than they were when I was alive. I suspect that the rise of magic had something to do with the new state of affairs. It becomes much easier to give someone her due when she might be able to turn you inside out over the lack of it.
“Thank you,” I replied. I looked over Dr. Bell’s companion. “As for your own colleague… good evening, sir. I can see that you are a doctor, like Dr. Bell here. You were born in Scotland but not Scottish, raised Catholic but no longer Roman. You have been to sea, but not as a sailor. Oh, and you are a writer, of course.”
Bell’s companion took the analysis in well enough humor, with only a slight air of good-natured patience. “Well done, Miss Knight. I suppose you caught all of that from my tobacco ash, or whatnot?”
“No, not at all.” I smiled at him. “I don’t have your friend’s gifts. But I do know that your name is Arthur Conan Doyle.”
“In other words: she’s read your file, my boy,” rumbled Bell. “Probably mine as well.”