You're the inspector?"
Arthur nodded and looked at Im Yong Soo on the small bed. He carefully set his tea down on a small table next to the bed. "Indeed I am. I'm glad to see you looking better than the last time I saw you."
They were in this town's Doctor's office, and it was surprisingly well stocked for such a small place. Im Yong Soo had been care for well, all he had on him now was a bandage going around his head and a few on his arms. His room was in a small bedroom in the back and was actually quite comfortable to talk in.
"I must also say," Arthur said leaning back in his chair slightly, "Your memory is rather impressive. I figured that you would of forgotten most of what had happened on the train when you woke up." Im Yong Soo didn't respond or even look at Arthur as talked. "I need to know
how much do you remember? I looked around the car, and to be honest I didn't find as many clues as I would have liked. I need to know your story so I can have a bit of a lead."
This guy came in wearing a uniform like some of the other people who were working on the train. He had this tea platter, and I figured it was some service the people we switched with got, so I didn't send him out right away. We turned down the tea, but he kept pestering us to take it." Im Yong Soo's hand clenched around the sheets on the bed, "I got up to try and force him out, but
He hit me over the head."
" Arthur scratched his chin as he thought about those facts. "So you were attacked before your sister."
"Yeah. Did they search the train?"
"Indeed. They didn't find anything or anyone."
Im Yong Soo scowled. "Why were they after us anyway? Those Japanese siblings must of known that they were putting us in danger! What a complete ass! Who would willingly-"
"He didn't." Arthur said holding up a hand to stop him. "Mr, uh, Sohma had no idea that you were in any danger when they switched seats with you. He truly just switched for his sister so they could talk with people. I am positive that if he had known about what had happened to your sister, then he wouldn't have switched."
"Whatever. Who are they anyway? Was it coincidence or not?" Arthur didn't respond and Im Yong Soo's eyes narrowed. "My sister was just taken, and I am sure you know the answers to what I am asking. I also think I have a right to know."
The information is highly sensitive in nature, and for their-"
"I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW! MEI COULD BE IN HORRIBLE DANGER BECAUSE OF THEM!" Im Yong Soo shouted grabbing Arthur's shoulder. "Now, who do they think Mei is?! Why did they take her?!"
They mistook your sister for the princess of Japan, the one who will be taking over the throne." Im Yong Soo blinked in surprise and let go of Arthur as he digested that information. Arthur whipped off his sleeves calmly as the boy opened and closed his mouth a few times. "Now can we calm down? If you keep yelling the doctor will throw me out."
but, Mei isn't." Im Yong Soo said in disbelief. "I mean
we aren't Japanese even. How
She didn't look a thing like the other girl!" Im Yong Soo looked at the Inspector worried. "What is going to happen to my sister when they realize she isn't who they think she is?!"
"I will find her before that happens." Arthur said determinedly. "I just need on more bit of information
How long was the train moving when this happened?"
"About five minutes."
"I see." Arthur rubbed his chin as he thought. It made sense that was the time, it also lined up with a little girl's account he had overheard of horses riding up beside the train. "Well
looks like I'll need to hire a guide." He glanced over at Im Yong Soo again, "You wouldn't have happened to be among the passengers who stayed in this town before continuing with their journey would you?" Im Yong Soo shook his head. "I thought not."
"You really should talk to the Sherriff or something about that. Or maybe the Doc would know
" Im Yong Soo lanced out the window next to him before turning back to Arthur, a determined look on his face. "So, when do we leave?"
I'm sorry what?"
____________________________________________________________ ______________ ___________ ___________
Arthur walked into the bar rubbing his temples. Im Yong Soo had demanded that Arthur take him with him when he went to find Mei, but Arthur had to refuse. Doctor Smith had informed him that while he didn't think Yong Soo was seriously hurt, he wanted to keep an eye on him to be certain, and to make sure his stitches didn't get infected. Im Yong Soo had not taken well to that message at all.
Arthur thought back to hurried escape as the two argued. Honestly, he had to agree with the Doctor about Im Yong Soo not going, but for different reasons. The one case he had ever worked with his eldest brother in Scotland, they had allowed a family member of a client to tag along. Because of how personally involved he was with the case the man had taken many chances and had gotten hurt.
Something his brother still blamed Arthur for.
Arthur shook his head and resisted the urge to immediately order a beer from the bar, as he made his way over to the counter. He noticed a woman was taking everyone's orders and pouring all the drinks. He frowned, puzzled at the odd scene, before sitting down with a small shrug. He looked around and noticed a small stage in back, and a man playing piano in the corer next to it.
"That's Roderich." Arthur whipped around to see the blonde girl form earlier standing in front of him smiling. "He owns this place. His wife Elizabeth, she runs the bar. It's odd, but if you knew them, you would understand why it works."
"I-I see." He said as she leaned against the counter inspecting him. "Um, do you serve lunch here?"
"A different one every day. Today Elizabeth made some sort of German meat and potato pie." Amelia said with a shrug.
"How much does it cost?"
"Ve~?" A girl with light brunet hair came over and looked at Arthur curiously. "Amelia, is this the Englishman you and Alfred were telling us about were telling us about?" behind her, a girl with Dark brunet hair and Elizabeth both looked over.
"Indeed he is." Amelia said with a big grin.
"No charge then." Elizabeth said, bringing over a huge plate of the pie. "Anyone who helps one of my girls can eat free of charge
" She glanced over at her husband with a small smile, "well, for at least one meal."
"I, uh, thank you
" Arthur looked at them all in shock. "Um
are you all sisters?"
"Only me and Lisa!" The lighter of the two brunets said happily. "But Amelia might as well be our sister and Miss Elizabeth might as well be our mom!"
"Oh, stop it you! I'm not even that much older than you." Elizabeth said with a smile. "Now, back to work."
"I want to know why the jerk helped." Lisa said with narrowed eyes.
Amelia sighed and clasped the girl on the back, "Lisa, not everyone has an evil motivation." The girl shrugged her off and quickly pulled her sister over to the other side of the room, and Elizabeth went back to helping other customers. "Anything else you need?"
just a glass of water." He said looking at the beer and whiskey a little longingly. "Actually, wait." He said thinking back. "Would you happen to know a guide around here for hire?"
"Sure! Best one around lives right around here!
Although he left this morning to go help someone out on their farm." She stopped and bit her lip thinking, "but I am sure they'll be back tonight."
"Yup! The troublesome team of two!" She said nodding happily. "I'm almost positive they'll be back tonight, especially after todays, um, incident." She shrugged and handed him his water. "So just come to the show tonight."
"What are their names?"
"Alfred and Antonio."
wasn't he your brother." Arthur asked raising an eyebrow curiously.
"Yup. He's the only guide around for a few towns. He knows the terrain better than anyone, except perhaps me." She smiled and moved down to help another person just a couple seats down. Arthur was shocked to see that the man was an albino. "Hey Gilbert, are you here for lunch or just checking on me?"
"Ja." He said "Talk while you get me some Sheppard's pie and beer." Elizabeth stopped and turned her head to Gilbert with her eyes narrowed. "Please?" Elizabeth smiled and continued on with whatever she was doing.
Amelia handed Gilbert his beer and shrugged. "Not much to tell. I was going out of the General Store to grab something I forgot earlier when that idiot grabbed me. I was shocked so he managed to pull me back a ways. Then when he tied to grab something he let go of my mouth and I bit him." Arthur chocked on his own meal as she said that.
"You okay?" Gilbert said looking at him.
"Y-yeah." He said taking a small drink of his water. He then looked at Amelia completely bemused. "You bit him?"
"Yup." She placed a plate in front of Gilbert and frowned. "I would of rather kicked him, but I was at an odd angle, and I had one hand pinned down and the other was fending him off."
"Ludwig mentioned another man being there?" Gilbert said raising an eyebrow and picking up his fork.
"Yeah," Amelia nodded over to Arthur. "Him. Inspector Kirkland here heard something so he came to look and helped me out."
"Not that you needed it." Arthur said sarcastically.
"Glad you agree." She said with a wink. Amelia suddenly moved down to the other end of the bar, leaving Arthur shaking his head. He glanced over at Gilbert and noticed the man was staring at him with narrowed eyes.
"You wouldn't happen to be the inspector for the kidnapping would you?"
"I am." Arthur said suspiciously. The albino pulled out something from his pocket and handed it to Arthur for him to inspect. Arthur took it and looked back up in surprise at the Marshal.
"So, any leads?"
Gilbert nodded and began to pick at his meal. "I didn't hear too much about the case yet, only what the man who brought the Asian boy in told me." He glanced at Arthur, "I was told to be prepared for an inspector or detective to come in. Honestly though, I think you should let me handle the case."
"I'm afraid I can't." Arthur said turning to his own meal. "I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but the case is very delicate and I have already agreed to it."
"Yeah, but I know this place better." Gilbert said pointing his fork at Arthur. "I also happen to have to go in and get the girl. Do you even have a gun?"
"Not on my person at this time, but yes, I do."
Gilbert snorted, "Yeah, an English Wussy like you? No way will you ever solve this case. Not in the west."
"Funny. That's what the Marshal in Kingsburg said." Gilbert stopped in mid bite and looked over at Arthur. "Then of course I caught the jewel thief and bank robber that took him two months to get any leads on."
"You're that Inspector Kirkland?" Arthur smirked and took a drink of his water. "Huh, he made you seem much prissier in his letters." Arthur did a spit take and looked at Gilbert who smirked. "So, you think you can find this girl?"
"Who is she anyway?"
Um, sensitive information. If you like later today I can go to your office and we can discuss it," Arthur looked around him pointedly, "more privately."
Gilbert narrowed his eyes again, but nodded. As they both returned to their meals Amelia came back over and check to see if they needed anything before getting called over by the man at the piano. Arthur watched her walk away and looked at Gilbert, who was watching him.
um.. Is Amelia
" He blushed a little. "She sings here and has, um, shows right?"
"Yep. Her Lisa and Felicia." Gilbert said with a look that clearly said he wanted to know where Arthur was going with this.
"Um, she isn't
a uh, call girl right? It isn't one of those
" Gilbert stared at him, his mouth hanging open slightly. "I mean, it's just in the last three towns I've been to bars at all the shows were, and she doesn't seem the sort
Gilbert threw his head back and roared with laughter, causing many people to turn and look at them. Arthur blushed furiously and pushed the Marshal forward as he threatened to fall backwards. "Stop that!"
"Ah man! Nein!" He said still roaring, "I can't believe. I mean! HAHAHAHA!" Elizabeth and the three other girls looked over at him curiously, Amelia actually started coming over. Arthur looked around worried and immediately grabbed his water and began to drink it as quickly as he could.
"Do we have a problem?" The pianist said looking at the two of them disdainfully.
Gilbert took a few deep breaths and chuckled some as he looked at the man. "Nein, Roderich sorry about that!" he clapped Arthur on the back, nearly causing him to choke on his water. "This guy is just funny is all!" He chuckled some more and shook his head. "Just asked a very out of town question is all."
Roderich looked at the two severely before going back over to the piano muttering something under his breath. Gilbert chuckled a little more and then took a swing of his beer. He then looked at Arthur, his eyes sparkling a little, "Nein, this isn't that type of bar or that type of town. They're defiantly show girls, but no more than that. Each one of those girls are very respectable. Mien little brother is actually trying to woo one, even if he won't admit it."
Gilbert had another burst of chuckled escape him and Arthur shot him a look, "Sorry, I just keep thinking about the idiot who asked her brother and his friend that question. You're lucky you asked me and not anyone else in town."
I didn't think they were the sort, so I was surprised when she kept mentioning the shows."
"Yeah, some towns are like that." Gilbert said with a frown, "but not here. It makes me worry about all those other towns." He thought for a moment before looking back at Arthur. "Will you be in town tonight?"
"Yes, I need to talk to Alfred and Antonio."
"I see. Well, you should come and see exactly how these girls do their shows then. I promise you'll be surprised."
He looked back over at Amelia who was dealing with a dispute between two men in the corner, both looking at her slightly fearful. "Somehow I don't doubt it." He muttered eating more of his food.
_______ _____________ _________________________ _______________________________ ______ _ _______________________
Arthur looked around the bar as he reentered the place. He felt exhausted and thoroughly annoyed, and figured now would be a good time for some ale. Marshal Gilbert had things to do after lunch, and Arthur had gotten a room for the night while he waited for him. When he went to see the Marshal again the man had been a half hour late. Then it had taken even more time getting into the office as people kept coming up to talk with the man. Then had come the actual explaining.
Arthur felt like groaning as he remembered all that had transpired and the arguing over who truly had the right to lead the case. Then it was the matter of if he was going to guide Arthur or not in finding the girl. Then someone had come in and they had to stop the meeting for a half hour as Gilbert dealt with some issue. When he returned things kept going downhill. He wasn't even sure how, but miraculously he had managed to convince the Marshal to allow him to lead the case, as long as he called in for back up at the right time.
Elizabeth came over suddenly, bring Arthur back from his thoughts. She smiled good naturedly at him and he smiled slightly in return.
"Hello Inspector, what can I get you?"
"Ale. Strong Ale." He said massaging his temples. "And perhaps a cup of stronger tea."
Elizabeth looked amused as she poured the beer into a tall mug. "Usually I don't get calls for tea or coffee until halfway through the night.' She looked him over before handing him the drink, "you are defiantly English, not just an immigrant boy like me."
'Of course I'm English
"Well, child. A lot of people in this town are immigrant children. Born here, but their parents weren't." She stopped and thought for a moment. "The only real people who have generations of being here are the Jones and Smith Families. I'm immigrant child, Beilschmidts are, Smits and the Bonnfeys. My husband is an immigrant, Antonio is and so are the Italians." She paused and looked at him. "Sorry, I suppose I'm rambling."
"Actually, it's rather interesting." He said as he took another drink. "I've heard America is a 'melting pot' of sorts, but none of the cities I have been in have shown it like this yet. Any English around here?"
"All but one moved when I was a child. The one who stayed, she married a Frenchman."
"French and English? You're bluffing."
"Dead serious." Elizabeth smiled and good naturedly nudged him. "Now, don't you go disowning her or anything just because of her marriage."
"Wouldn't dream of it." He said with a wink. "Just don't expect me to adopt the man as a brother of the King." Elizabeth chuckled and Arthur looked around the room as she moved on to help someone further down the bar and realized, a lot of these people did indeed show defiant features of other cultures. He looked around again and noticed the place was packed.
"Is this show highly popular?"
"Yes," Elizabeth said as she handed him a cup of tea. "The girls are very talented and lively. People like to watch them, and hope they aren't picked." She laughed a little. "If you get embarrassed easily, don't sit towards the front."
Roderich clapped suddenly and the noise around the bar died down almost instantly. People who were standing quickly sat down or hurried to find a seat. Arthur noticed a number did indeed avoid the front two tables. Except for a man with a thick build, a Spaniard and
Arthur mentally faced palmed as he saw Alfred Jones sitting up front. Of course he would be. He was probably trying to protect his sister after all.
He looked at the two men next to him and figured the Spanish one was probably Antonio, the man Gilbert said helped Alfred. He looked at the other one and noticed he looked a lot like the Marshal in question, only not albino, and much more formal... and he had flour on his shirt.
Arthur was about to move forward when the thin curtain on the stage moved back and the dark haired Italian girl, Lisa he recalled, and Amelia come on stage in similar green and red dresses. Amelia he noticed had a fiddle in her hand. Next the lighter haired girl came on in a gold and black dress and blushed looking at the front row. Every male in the audience caught their breath at the sight of the three lovely ladies, and for an odd reason Arthur couldn't place, he was glad he had sat at the bar instead of talking with Alfred now.
The slight applause that had started when they came on quieted down and the girls all looked at each other. Amelia carefully picked up her fiddle and began to play a slow tune. Lisa began to sing a slow harmony and Felicia took a deep breath.
"il mio amore, mio amore,
Vorrei che tu fossi qui,
canta il sole dei tuoi sogni"
Arthur felt his breath catch as she sang so peacefully and well. He sister suddenly began to sing with her, causing a wonderful effect mixed with the quite fiddle, and the small light that shown on the three.
"Anch'io, spero che tu li realizzare,"
Suddenly Amelia put down her fiddle and in perfect timing the piano picked up in the corner as Amelia added her own voice in,
"Così si può tornare a casa da me."
Arthur heard the intakes of breaths and the silent awe as the girls sang. When the song had finished people applauded and whooped, and before they were done Amelia had grabbed a reluctant Dark haired Italian as a quick and fun beat began to play. People laughed as the two girls danced around and Felicia began to sing a silly country song about a man name Joe with cotton in his eye. At one point they broke apart, and joined in with the other girl, only to have the blonde go up to the front and pull the boy assumed to be Antonio on stage and have him dance with her.
Arthur watched in more amazement as Alfred suddenly stood and leapt on stage, grabbing the other girl and leading her around the floor, much to her extreme embarrassment. Suddenly the last girl, while singing, pulled up the man with the floured shirt, causing quite the number of cat calls that other two did not receive, and twirled him around, obviously in charge of the bigger man.
When that song ended and they returned to their seats another song started, with Lisa leading this time, and after that one Amelia. He noticed that while the other two girls always sang, Amelia was just as happy to switch to her instrument ever now and then, and that having it somehow did not render her unable to dance. It was unlike any show Arthur had seen, especially with the girls pulling up random people, including the marshal and pianist, and dancing with them, or having them sing along. It was so fun, Artur almost forgot to watch how much he drank, almost.
At one point the girls stopped and shared a nod after a very melodic song. Amelia pulled up her fiddle and began to play quite seriously, more so than in any of her other songs, and longer than with no interruption. Then suddenly Felicia began to sing.
"When I am down, and oh my soul so weary,
When troubles come and my heart burdened be,"
Lisa put a hand on her sister's shoulder and sung, "Then I am still and waiting in the silence,
until you come, and sit awhile with me."
Everyone in the bar was watching the two as they sang the song so poetically and lovely, including Arthur. It was only by pure accident he even happened to look over during the chorus at the other part of their group, and see Amelia.
His breath caught. She was stunning. Standing still he could fully see how much so more than he had the rest of the night. Something about the serious and calm stillness she had acquired, mixed with the half light, was making him observe more than he had before, or with any of the other girls. He red dress had little bits of black on it, she had a small rose necklace on, her lips were cherry blossom pink, her cheeks were beautifully flushed, and her hair seemed to shine.
He glanced around and saw everyone else was looking at the other girls and felt a mix of annoyance and relief. Yes, the singers were beautiful too, and their voices were lovely, but at this moment in time why weren't they paying attention to her music? He was sure if they looked at her they would be shocked at the stillness, because even in his short time watching he was sure that it was rare.
He turned back to his drink and saw Elizabeth staring at him, and he felt the odd need to blush. He looked back on stage and at Amelia. Why was he so at odds? Did it matter that a girl had noticed him looking at Amelia? Who said they even knew that? Did it really matter if people looked at the girl? Why didn't they notice her music? And...why exactly did her feel a relief that no one was watching her.
Arthur shook his head at himself as the song ended and the entire place roared in applause. He gave a polite hand as well as the three joined up in the center and took hands and bowed. They did this numerous times until it was finally quiet and then, they walked off stage.
Arthur felt his heart drop a little, but noticing the feeling he quickly shoved it away and turned back towards the counter, quickly drinking his beer.
"Glad to see you made it inspector." Arthur nearly chocked at the voice directly behind him. He whipped around and saw Amelia standing there with Alfred and the assumed Antonio behind her. He felt a blush coming to his cheek again at her appearance, but quickly coughed and turned his head. Amelia laughed, "Sorry I didn't mean to startle you."
"Yes you did sis!" Alfred said teasing her, "Just not embarrass him.."
"Okay, so i did mean to scare him.' She smiled in a devious way at Arthur as she indicated to the two men behind her. "Inspector, you already met my brother, next to him is our partner Antonio." Antonio held out his hand and shook Arthur's hand with a carefree smile. Alfred then extended his.
"So Inspector," Alfred said as he took his hand and nearly crushed it, "I heard you want to talk business with me."