(Slowly.) I just started on Ruddy Gore.
The eager, helpful young errand boy at the theater in Ruddy Gore has his eagerness fed by the same detective fiction as the helpful young errand boy at Pym’s Publicity in Murder Must Advertise.
Ginger Joe and Lord Peter:
On a bench at the end of the room sat four messenger-boys, waiting to be sent upon any errand that might present itself. Conspicuous among them was Ginger Joe, his red head bent over the pages of the latest Sexton Blake.
“Yessir.” The boy ran up and stood expectantly by the desk.
“When do you get off duty tonight?”
“‘Bout a quarter to six, sir, when I’ve taken the letters down and cleared up here.”
“Come along then and find me in my room. I’ve got a small job for you. You need not say anything about it. Just a private matter.”
“Here’s another thing. You remember when Mr. Dean was killed. Where were you at the time?”
“Sittin’ on the bench in the Dispatching, sir: I got an alibi.” He grinned.
“Find out for me, if you can, how many other people had alibis.”
“It’s rather a job, I’m afraid.”
“I’ll do me best, sir. I’ll make up somefin’, don’t you worry. It’s easier for me to do it than it is for you, I see that, sir. I say, sir!””Yes?”
“Are you a Scotland Yard ‘tec?”
“No, I’m not from Scotland Yard.”
“Oh! Begging your pardon for asking, sir. But I thought, if you was, you might be able, excuse me, sir, to put in a word for my brother.”
“I might be able to do that all the same, Ginger.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Thank you,” replied Mr. Bredon, with the courtesy which always distinguished him. “And mum’s the word, remember.”
“Wild ‘orses,” declared Ginger, finally and completely losing his grasp of the aitches with which a careful nation had endowed him at the expense of the tax-payer, “wild ‘orses wouldn’t get a word out o’ me when I’ve give me word to ‘old me tongue.”
Herbert and Phryne Fisher:
Phryne beckoned to the call boy. “Hello, Herbert,” she said. “You read detective stories, don’t you?”
“How could you tell?” asked the boy, impressed.
“I’m a detective,” said Phryne. She judged Herbert to be about eleven, a smidgen overgrown and underfed but alight with enthusiasm.
“I like Sexton Blake best,” he confided. “Ain’t this grouse? I mean, isn’t this exciting? Nothing interesting’s happened around this place the whole time I been here… I’ve been here,” he corrected himself. Someone was evidently trying to teach him grammar.
“I’ll watch your future progress with great interest, Herbert,” said Phryne. “Now, what do you think about these attempted murders?”
“You mean you want me to help you, Miss?” the shadowed eyes lit up again.
“I might. You know more about the theatre than anyone else, don’t you? You go everywhere and see everything.”
“Can I be your… irregular?”
Herbert’s reading had obviously included the Great Detective. Phryne nodded.
“I think so. A quid a week and expenses?”