Spreading High Quality XXX

Slut or wife? It is a tale that may be familiar to many.

In that way I think I am certain of the names of eight of the ten men and can hazard a guess at the other two. But the instigator, he has benefitted greatly and quickly and succumbed to the most common of criminal vices - greed. Greed Watson, my most loyal and dependable informant.'

'So you know who this man, this instigator, is?'

'Yes Watson, I should have known from the very beginning, if only I had been clever enough to see the bigger picture. He made one mistake early on which gave me the scent. The Minister for European Trade was away on a trade mission the night we saw his wife entertaining the Cad.'

'Some minor state I believe. It was in The Times.'

'But he had no passage booked on any line for three weeks before that date Watson, and no record was made of him re-entering the country at any of the Channel ports. I checked.'

'You mean?'

'Yes Watson. The Minister was the source of my tip-off and the man that used his own young wife as sacrificial bait in a trap to kill a man. And it has been the Minister that has been using the knowledge and leverage gained from his possession of the Diary to secure, over the last few months, lucrative shipping contracts and business deals to increase his wealth and influence to such an extent that he stands on the verge of a meteoric rise from a relatively lowly cabinet position to leader of his party at the next election.'

'My God Holmes!'

There was silence in the room for several minutes. Holmes moved back to the mantle to refill his pipe after his performance and I sat, trying to take in the gravity of the situation. It was I that broke the silence at last.

'You said you had a favour to ask me?'

'A very great favour Watson.'

'What is it?'

By way of answer Holmes went into his room and returned a few minutes later with a battered suitcase which he put on the table in front of me. Undoing the straps and opening the lid he pulled out a long black cape with a high collar.

'I want you to be the Cad Watson.'

I could think of no reply other than to sit open mouthed in shock.

'I would do it myself Watson but I am wholly the wrong build, you are very close in height and stature. If you were to make your voice a little more gruff and keep you instructions short, or perhaps used gestures and sign language, in a darkened room you may pass muster enough for my needs. The Minister also made one more mistake, more an omission, which will be vital in the deception I propose. He was unaware of the Cad's secret lotion. This is plain by the fact that the ointment jar was left in the cloak at the murder scene and the exotic tropical plants in the conservatory were untouched. From a close examination of the specimens I noted a number had cuttings taken or lesions on the stems where extract had been taken and I would therefore venture that it is some combination of this extracts which makes up the lotion.'

'I'm not really sure Holmes; I mean what would you want me to do?'

Holmes outlined his plan and after two stiff brandies, against all my better judgement, but with, I am ashamed to admit, some excitement, I agreed to his plan.

And so it was that near 11 o'clock on a cool spring night I was again crouched by the French windows that led into the sitting room of the Minister for European Trade, soon to be leader of his party, looking in.

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