“She’s finally asleep,” Violet Morton, née Smith, whispered to her husband, Cyril, as she entered their little parlour. They were fortunate that Cyril’s salary as an electrical engineer was sufficient to allow them to employ a nurse for little Penelope, but they had given Lydia the Christmas holidays off, and Penelope was not a toddler who welcomed bedtime.
Cyril patted the space beside him on the settee, and Violet went over to join him. “Look,” he said, pointing to the corner furthest from the fire.
“You’ve lit up the Christmas tree,” she said, gazing at the candlelight as it flickered over the glass bulbs hung on their little tree. There were now electric Christmas light bulbs, Cyril had informed her, as they’d set up the tree last night, but they were very expensive and hard to find. A regular little Coventry family like theirs could not hope to afford them.
“Not I,” Cyril was saying. “I stepped out for a smoke and they were lit when I came back in. I think Father Christmas has been here already.”
Violet giggled. “Has he really?”
“Yes, and he’s left something for you, I think.”
“And not for you?”
“Well, I haven’t been a very good boy this year, have I?” He leaned over and gave her a kiss and she giggled again.
“Well, now, angel”–he used his pet name for her–“Shall I bring in your present?”
“What? It’s not under the tree?”
“Too big for that.” He got up and went into the kitchen. She heard the back door open, then close.
“You said something about wanting to get out more, get more exercise, nature, that sort of thing,” She heard his voice in the kitchen, growing closer as he approached the parlour. She saw the wheel before she saw him.
“Oh, Cyril, no! Not that! What would make you think that–” The words were out before she could stop them.
Her husband stood still in the doorway. “Darling–” he began.
“Not a bicycle, Cyril! I can’t possibly ride one again! Not–not after–” Tears began to stream down her cheeks. She had worked so hard to forget that horrible time in Surrey. If Sherlock Holmes had not been there–
“Violet, love, I haven’t–darling, don’t cry–just–just–here, just look, please!”
She lifted her head, sniffling. He was standing in the middle of the parlour now, with the dreadful thing. She didn’t want to see it, she didn’t. She never wanted to see a–
A bicycle built for two.
“I will be with you, Violet. You’ll never ride alone again.”
There were richer men. Cleverer men. Even handsomer men. But there would never be a better man than her Cyril.
And now, today’s question–a bit more difficult than the others have been, I think.
Who played Sherlock Holmes in the first film version of “The Solitary Cyclist”? And with what locality in England does this person share a connection with Violet Smith?
For today’s winner–
Again, here is another book I have not yet read. I would love to know what you think of it! And as always, for your chance to win, please send in your entry via blog comment or FB message at the Well-Read Sherlockian Facebook page!
Congratulations to Jacquelyn Applegate, winner of the Day 7 prize! She posted that Briarbrae, the Phelps’s home in NAVA, combines “Briar” refers to a prickly shrub, and that “brae” means “hillside.” She also went the extra mile to include that Briarbrae has been identified as Inchcape House (in Woking) by Jennifer Chorley, and as Woodham Hall near Horsell Common (also in Woking) by Michael Harrison.