• Published 22nd Jul 2012
  • 8,209 Views, 208 Comments

The Magician and the Detective - Bad Horse

Has Holmes met his match in a travelling showpony?

  • ...

6. Chivalry is not dead

I found myself on the street, shocked to my senses by the cool night breeze, surrounded by a crowd of thrice-frightened ponies, none of whom looked as if they were about to recommend The Great and Powerful Trixie to their friends. There was no sign of Holmes, nor of Trixie, nor of a fire. I turned and went back immediately into the now-empty cafe.

The lights were still on. Only a wisp of smoke came from the kitchen. I pushed through the door to investigate. The source of alarm was quickly evident: Some cooking oil had been poured into a pan and set on fire. It had burned quickly, and now merely smoked and stank.

The rest of the kitchen was empty. Returning to the front room, I heard voices behind the curtain. I reconstructed the course of events in my mind. Holmes had no doubt withdrawn from the table during the most disorienting effects of Trixie's magic in order to be free to act unobserved. On seeing that Trixie had made her move on the painting, he had staged the smoke as a diversion, in order to search her dressing area before she made her next move. I did not see his purpose, as we had all seen the painting leave with Mr. F., and as Trixie's act should have been enough of a diversion; but now Holmes was trapped there with an enraged, powerful, and possibly criminal magician. I drew my revolver from my saddlebags, and fastened it to the inside of my left pastern as quickly as I could, pulling the straps tight with my teeth, and pushed my head quietly through between two sheets.
How else could an earth pony fire a pistol? Don't say they hold it in their teeth.

Holmes was up against the far wall, held there by magic. He managed not to glance at me as I appeared behind Trixie, who stood facing Holmes. I raised the pistol, prepared for some desperate act on Trixie's part.

But no desperation was evident. Trixie was calmly floating various magical props into two large bags of luggage. A thin, rectangular wooden box, large enough to hold a painting, stood in the corner, which Holmes glanced at from time to time. When all had been packed, Trixie gathered everything to her side and addressed Holmes. "Trixie is sorry not to spend more time with you, Mr. Holmes, but she has a pressing schedule."

"I am also sorry," Holmes said, "but I cannot allow you to leave with that box."

Trixie whinnied in amusement. "It appears you are the one who needs permission. Or perhaps you are hoping your colleague Dr. Watson, who is no doubt standing behind Trixie right now waving his silly pistol about, will hit Trixie on the head with it?" She turned around, showing no surprise at seeing me there, and curtseyed to me, then turned back to Holmes. "It appears Trixie has learned more from reading your stories than you have from living them, for Trixie knows Dr. Watson is a gentlepony who does not assault ladies." Unable to move, Holmes gazed back at her furiously. She levitated her bags and the rectangular box into the air beside her, then walked directly past me, and favored me with a coquettish smile. I automatically lifted my hoof to tip my hat to her, and realized I was still stupidly and impotently holding my revolver. Ostentatiously ignoring it, she turned back and said over her shoulder, "And, really, Mr. Holmes. How many times have you used that smoke trick? An artist should never grow predictable." She walked several steps into the cafe beyond; then Trixie, bags, and box all faded like mist and vanished.

Holmes stumbled to the floor as the force holding him suddenly disappeared. He scrambled to his feet and glowered at me. "Watson! You and your anachronistic devotion to chivalry have let her escape with a national treasure!"

"I saw her give the painting back, Holmes! There's no evidence of a crime!"

"It would be pointless to steal a painting and then give it back. Therefore the painting she gave Mr. F. was not the real painting. The real painting is in that box!"

"Well, what did you expect me to do? Hit her on the head?" Looking into his eyes, I realized that was indeed what he had expected. I must add in his defense that he ordinarily treats mares with great courtesy.

"If she fancies herself a criminal," Holmes growled, "then she must expect to be treated as a criminal. There is no special law for mares or unicorns!" The way he said it sounded as if Trixie were impertinently seeking admission that she did not merit to some elite group. I wondered again what strange paths his thoughts were taking.

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