In APART IN APRIL, Book 5 of my calendar historical mystery series, Minty Wilcox Price goes undercover as secretary Miss Minerva Preston. In the scene below she accompanies her new employer Lord Nelson as they visit David Hyde, the suspect in the case of “The Ravished, Slain Chambermaid,” who’s in jail. There they encounter policeman LeClerc. For the junket she wears a shirtwaist with leg-o-mutton sleeves.
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Just then the policeman seemed to notice Minty still cooling her heels by the door for the first time because he said, “Who’s that female over there? Is she with you, Nelson?”
“Indeed she is. This is Miss Preston. She’ll be taking notes when our lawyer interviews Mr. Hyde today.”
“She can’t go inside with you,” LeClerc said.
“And why not?” Lord Nelson asked sharply as if he’d run out of patience with LeClerc.
“She might have a file up one of those big sleeves of hers, that’s why. Or she might be carrying a gun under all of them skirts she’s wearing. Females are sneaky that way. So unless I examine her lower parts, she can’t go in there.”
“That’s outrageous,” Lord Nelson said. “You will do no such thing.”
“I don’t really like it either, sir,” Minty said with her lips pinched together. “But I will do it since it seems necessary.” Carrying her handbag that held her picklocks and two-shot Derringer among other items under a false bottom, she scurried across the lobby. She set her bag on the desk next to the basket. “Feel free to inspect my handbag, Officer LeClerc, if you must, to make sure I’m not bringing in contraband of any sort.”
LeClerc pulled the bag open, peeked in, rucked around inside it and closed it again. “Looks fine.”
“And now for the rest of your inspection . . .” Grabbing hold of her left leg-o-mutton sleeve with her right hand, she pulled it tight against her upper arm. “See? Nothing hidden in there.” She repeated the action on her right sleeve. “Besides, to get to a gun or file I might happen to have up my sleeve, I’d have to take my shirtwaist completely off because the cuffs are too tight for me to slip anything out of there.” Minty glared at LeClerc. “I’m not about to do that in front of any gentleman, any gentleman at all since I am a business girl and never intend to marry.”
Lord Nelson stifled a chuckle.
“As for my lower parts . . .” Minty lifted her skirt in the front as far as possible without revealing the front placket of her pantaloons with one hand and the back of her skirt with the other. Then she whirled around very fast and dropped her skirts as soon as she faced the policeman again. “Was that sufficient, sir?” she said.
LeClerc’s eyes were wide. “Yes, ma’am,” he said in a high-pitched voice.
Lord Nelson was blushing, but laughing, too. “I say, Miss Preston,” he said. “You’re quite the ripping girl.”
“Thank you, sir, I like to think so, too.”
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Juliet Kincaid’s Calendar Mystery stories and novels tell the story of business girl Minty Wilcox and detective Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago. You can pre-order APART IN APRIL, due out on June 30, 2021, for the special starting price of only $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B095J4BB94