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#24: Mollycoddle and Codswallop

Ms. Jane Temble returned to London with absolutely no pomp, no fuss. Unless you count her being shuffled off the steamer by her mysterious escort to a group of shadowy figures who waited in the dark entryway of a waterfront warehouse.

“Ms. Jane! Good to see you at long last!” Oddly enough, it was Professor James Perrigordon who spoke first, the man separating from the rest of the waiting MDOPFGIASA crew to envelop the stunned woman in a big hug. “We've a company cab waiting so we won't ask for your briefing here. Walls having ears, and all that.”

The boisterous reception was clearly embarrassing for Ms. Temble. She stood straight and unyielding as a ramrod through it all, Giles Newberry finally taking pity and escorting Professor P. back.

Jane looked pale. Thin. Especially next to her swarthy companion.

Giles reached out his hand for an introduction. “Inspector Giles Newberry.”

“Mr. John Smyth, sir. Pleasure.” The emphasis on the Mister was notable. Giles raised his eyebrows as the gentleman leaned close. “A private word with you, Inspector. If you please.”

The handshake turned iron for a brief moment and Giles nodded. He turned to the small welcoming party, “I'll just be a moment.”

He turned back to the cryptic gentleman who'd disembarked with Jane. Said gentleman, Mr. Smyth, craned his neck, observing the little group as they retreated to their waiting cab.

“You've likely gathered that my name's not John Smyth,” he murmured, eyes still on the MDOPFGIASA reunion not far off.

Giles nodded, not all that surprised.

“But you'll likely never be entrusted with my real identity, all things considered. So never you mind. I do have no doubt, however, that my superiors and your superiors will shortly come to an . . . arrangement . . . regarding my involvement with your department through my accidental encounter with Ms. Temble,” Mr. Smyth drawled on.

“And you know my department how-?”

“Also something you don't need to mind at present.” Mr. Smyth snapped, eyes back on Newberry. “All you need to know is that I have full access to all Yard resources. For confirmation, of my claims, please deliver this to your superior officer.” He held out a small metallic disk. It had a similar weight and size to a compass. “Absolutely harmless, I assure you. If you have any doubts, I recommend you ask your one-time cohort. I presume you are still in contact with Mr. Wexley?” The question was accompanied by a sly smile.

Giles nearly recoiled from the device and the man who held it. His knowledge was uncanny, off-putting. But then, he'd brought Ms. Temble back to them. He nodded carefully, not exactly promising but certainly accepting of the few details Mr. Smyth had volunteered.

“Good.” Mr. Smyth thrust his hands back into his deep coat pockets. “You can expect that I shall be in touch. Oh, and one more thing—please do have someone keep a regular eye on Ms. Temble at present. She's run afoul of some nasties—I expect through her work with your department.” He paused, appearing to debate with himself for a moment before adding, “Ask her about 'mollycoddle'.”

In the second that Giles looked down to the small metal device in his hands and back up, Mr. John Smyth had disappeared.