Yep, heaps of fun, as evidenced by my obsessively researching first. I might have overdone this; I do not care in the least.
The front door of no. 19 Albert Road opened slowly, emanating a faint creak as it did. Two men emerged from behind it, closing the door behind them and taking a long look at the street. The first of the men, a tall, gaunt fellow, remained a little behind to lock the door; next to him stood a slighter, somewhat younger man, clasping his hands together with an air of tentative hesitation about him. At first glance, one would not find them much different from the rest of the people briskly walking along the street's sides. But, upon further inspection, one would be able to note a peculiar note of anachronism in them: even with their dark hats and coats, there was something singularly modern in their feel - something which did not meld at all with their Victorian surroundings.
After a while, the door having been soundly locked at last, the younger man turned towards his companion and said: "Really, now. Shouldn't we be better off inside?"
The taller man shook his head, a gesture so energetic that his black hat nearly flew off his head. "Come, come, man! It would be much safer, of course, but we would be like fellows closing their eyes out of fear of fireworks - we'd miss out all the opportunities! This is an incident never before recorded in history, save for fiction; to lock ourselves within the house and peer awkwardly out of the casement would be a sorry sight indeed."
The slighter man scratched the side of his head. "Do you at least have any idea where we're going, then, Vincente? That is - "
"Tut tut!" his companion wagged his finger, and it was all Art could do to prevent himself from laughing. "Of course I should know where to go - in fact, I've a rather good idea where we shall go. Now come along, Art - Dyers. Dyers, I meant to say. Please remember to address each other with surnames."
Dyers remained silent for a moment. After a few seconds, he shook his head and said: "As you say, Jarvis."
Vincente Jarvis grinned, and it became plainly obvious that he had been doing his utmost to contain his excitement. "Very good, very good!" And with a turn of his heel, he took off down the street, his hands buried deep in his pockets, and his companion trailing behind.
It was after a day's worth of what was essentially repeatedly getting lost and pointing out any similarities they can find to the London they remember that Arthur Dyers and Vincente Jarvis found themselves in yet another inexplicable occurrence. It all began when the two men walked down Covent Garden, pointing out differences in the Royal Opera House (both of them remembered that it would not be called thus until 1892, and as such were able to narrow down their time to something before that). A carriage had just stopped a few paces from where they were standing, and an old man had lighted off it. A bunch of raggedy street-urchins immediately flocked round him, but the gentleman began waving his arms about wildly while trying to get them to leave him. In the scuffle, the old man was accidentally pushed to the street, and in the next instant the children had fled with admirable speed, so that all that was left was a shouting, enraged elderly gentleman.
And, standing quite a short distance away from the chaos which had just occurred, Dyers took several long strides and approached the man. "Sir?" he called out. "Sir, are you hurt?"
But the poor man did not reply, and just kept making groaning noises while clutching at his foot. "Those street Arabs!" he shook his fist in the general direction towards which the urchins had fled. "They come rallying 'round you fer a tuppence, an' then when yer sprawled all over the street, they go a-runnin' away!"
Dyers approached warily. A small crowd had begun to gather round them. Vincente Jarvis remained where he stood for a few moments, his eyes flitting from one member of the crowd to another, until they finally rested on a moustached man with slicked-back hair in a top hat who had been peering over from the outer ring of the people. And with that sudden manner in which he conducted seemingly everything, Jarvis had pointed at the man and announced to the crowd:
"Make way for the doctor! Make way, make way!"
At first, the moustached man seemed understandably surprised by this masterful command, but he soon did the next logical step and began to worm his way through the tight space the people had allowed him. "Please, let me pass - let me see the injured. Can he walk?" This last question had been addressed to Dyers, who was still bending over the aged gentleman.
Dyers shrugged his shoulders. "His foot seemed to be in pain; I think he must've sprained it. But we can try."
"So we should," the doctor agreed. Together, the two of them hoisted the victim and supported his weight as he limped over to the side of the pavement. When the man sank down on the wall of the nearest building, the doctor immediately started his interview. "What is your name?"
"Narracott," the old man gasped. "John Narracott."
"Well, Mr Narracott! You do seem to have twisted your foot - sprained it, as we thought it might be. I can give you something for the pain, if you wish, but it wouldn't be strictly necessary."
"That won't be necessary," John Narracott groaned. "I will be a'right in a few minutes - it's just those little bandits!" And again his face contorted in rage.
"They will be warned not to repeat their conduct," Vincente Jarvis spoke out of a sudden. Narracott shook his head impatiently.
"Prison," he said. "That's what suits 'em. Stops 'em from repeating, it should."
The doctor stood up, scratching his chin. "Well! We should get you to a doctor's office as soon as we can, my good man. I would have offered mine, but I am actually off duty now, my office being in Southsea. Which, by the by, reminds me," he turned to Jarvis. "How did you know I am a doctor?"
Jarvis shrugged his shoulders. "I must admit, I first thought you were a writer, since your sleeves' ends and your curiosity with which you viewed the accident corroborates that theory. But then, I decided that your curiosity must have been a professional one, since you quickly exhibited the anxiety commonly shown by people wanting to help and knowing that they could; there is also the impression-mark on your hat, where you usually carry your stethoscope."
For a few seconds, the doctor froze in place, his eyes wide open and jaw slightly agape. Then, with a hearty laugh, he exclaimed: "Why, if I didn't know better, I would have guessed you to be one of Joe Bell's students! That was precisely his method, those strings of inferences. At any rate, you were correct, and more than you thought you were, for I am also a would-be author as well as a doctor."
Now it was Jarvis' turn to start. "Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle, I presume?"
At his words, both the helpful doctor and the perplexed Dyers turned to look at him with a most astonished look on their faces (and, indubitably, had any of them bothered to look, they would find both their patient and several members of the crowd similarly stunned). "Indeed I am," Doctor Doyle admitted. "Have we met before, at any chance?"
Vincente Jarvis made a sharp, violent laugh. "No, no, we haven't, although I am glad to claim your acquaintance now that we have! As it happens, I have read some of your works, and in fact, I am an avid admirer of your Sherlock Holmes."
"So you have!" Doctor Doyle smiled. "No wonder - your methods of deduction are not at all that different."
"Indeed," Jarvis was grinning widely at this point. He offered his hand to the doctor, waving the other one at his long-suffering companion. "Vincente Jarvis' the name, and this is my friend and colleague, Arthur Dyers."
An omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.
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