Two thirds of the way through, and even if I had had any doubt whether the guy on the cover of my edition is supposed to be Charles Moray (which I didn’t), I now have confirmation straight from the mouth of the babe (our Teenage Ingenue, aka TSTL heiress-in-peril) — except that whoever created this cover didn’t get the memo about the grey eyes:
“Charles is an explorer, but he isn’t exploring just now. He is the handsomest. He has grey eyes and a most frightfully romantic frown […] Charles has a lot of black eyelashes and frightfully black eyebrows. They go all twisty when he is cross. I shouldn’t like them to go all twisty at me.”
“I think Charles must have a most awful temper really, because he glared in the most frightful way you ever saw. I’ve never seen anyone glare like it before, except on the films when they’re just going to murder somebody, or the girl has been carried away by Bad Pete or someone like that. Of course Sheikhs glare nearly the whole time. I think Charles is awfully like a Sheikh really.”
Well, idiot child, it would be hard NOT to glare at you with eyebrows all in a twist when you’ve just given the whole show away, and I strongly suspect to the one person you should have been kept away from from the start! Except that Charles is starting to behave almost as idiotically as you, and about Margaret, no less. Oh well. Here’s hoping their inevitable reconciliation won’t at least be a total rush, but I have a feeling this isn’t the sort of book that allows for the gradual resolution that in real life would be the only way for them to recover a solid joint footing to build on for the future.
That being said, we’ve now also had the mandatory desks with secret drawers containing mysterious paper clues in the form of signatures and empty envelopes with meaning-laden inscriptions (two matching such mysterious desks, no less, embossed with almost identical initials); there are hints that the story’s two damsels-more-or-less-in-distress (Margaret and Margot, who really is called Margaret as well and has been cover-named Greta) just might be half-sisters; and Archie — like Lord Peter Wimsey in Murder Must Advertise — is working in a publishing firm (though in Wimsey’s case that was based on Dorothy L. Sayers’s own experience … still, it’s another coincidence). Oh, and Miss Silver has pulled a Sherlock in referring to “Grey Mask” as someone who she’s come across again and again in recent years, not in person but as a secret intelligence pulling the strings behind the scenes of various daring criminal enterprises. Moriarty, much?
Miss Silver is now clearly also exhibiting her ex-governess side, treating a silly recalcitrant client (read: Charles) essentially like she would have the ten-year-olds she used to tutor. This may very well come across as condescending (especially since there has been no mention of this aspect of her past just yet … unless I’ve missed it, which I wouldn’t rule out at all of course); except I’m with her all the way on this one — Charles is behaving like an idiot, and he’d better get over it soon or he’ll lose my sympathy. Especially since I very much suspect he now has all the knowledge he needs about Grey Mask’s true identity, and his first priority should be on unmasking that person (and on protecting our hapless teenage ingenue … even a brainless little minion like her doesn’t deserve to be murdered, after all)!