It was a fine, crisp morning, of sunlight, breezes, and leaves crunching beneath my feet. A line of caravans was passing on the roadway, men in sashes and bright headcloths, Gipsies, all, walking beside or driving, headed, I guessed, for one of the open areas between us and the city, off in the direction of Larry Talbot's place.
"Good morning, Snuff," came a voice from the roadside weeds.
I walked over and investigated.
"'Morning, Quicklime," I said, when I spotted his dark sinuosity there. "How you feeling?"
"Fine," he replied. "A lot better than the other day. Thanks for the advice."
"Any time. You headed anyplace in particular?"
"I was following the Gipsies, actually. But this is far enough. We'll get word where they camp, by and by."
"You think they'll be stopping near here?"
"Without a doubt. We've been expecting them for some time."
"Oh? Something special about them?"
"Well. . . . It's common knowledge now that the Count's in the area, so I'm not talking out of class. The master spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe, where he learned something of his ways. When the Count travels, he's often accompanied by a band of Gipsies. Rastov thinks he came here in a hurry when he determined where the locus would be, then sent for his band."
Lily: Is Rastov an opener?
Me: No, he’s a closer.
Lily: Oh, I thought Quicklime might be a closer, but he’d be an opener because he’s such a bad master.
Me: Wait, Rastov’s a pretty nice guy. Why do you think he’s a bad master? Sometimes he just has too much to drink and he vomits up the talking snake he keeps in his belly.
Lily: (Meaningful look)
"Vicar Roberts," I said, "has a good disguise as a fanatic churchman. . . ."Lily: Isn’t he actually a churchman?
"What do you mean?"
"He's a player."
"No. He holds midnight services to the Elder Gods, right there in the church."
"The vicar . . . ?"
That’s a thing that bothered me too. I mean, the impression I got was that it wasn’t actually a disguise; he really was the lawfully ordained vicar for that parish, just one who happens to have an extracurricular interest in inviting nightmare tentacle-monsters into our dimension.
And re-reading my previous Lonesome October series, I see that I came to that conclusion last time.
I quitted my place of concealment in a stand of shrubs and headed that way, in time to see the coachman help an old woman to descend from the vehicle. I moved nearer, passing among a few ancient trees, upwind of them, as the lady, with the assistance of a blackwood cane, made her way to Larry's front door. There, she raised the knocker and let it fall.Lily: That’s the Great Detective, right?
Me: Why would you think such a thing?
Lily: It is. You already told me that he disguises himself as an old woman.