The Nine Tailors
Dorothy Sayers

Dorothy Sayers

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The Nine Tailors


detective fiction

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The Nine Tailors

Copyright © 1934 by Doroth Leigh Sayers Fleming
Copyright © 1962 by Lloyds Bank Limited

1 A SHORT TOUCH OF Kent Treble Bob Major
The Bells Are Rung Up

The art of change-ringing is peculiar to the English, and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible to the rest of the world. [...] By the English campanologist, the playing of tunes is considered to be a childish game, only fit for foreigners; the proper use of bells is to work out mathematical permutations and combinations. When he speaks of the music of his bells, he does not mean musicians’ music—still less what the ordinary man calls music. To the ordinary man, in fact the pealing of bells is a monotonous jangle and a nuisance, tolerable only when mitigated by remote distance and sentimental association. The change-ringer does, indeed, distinguish musical differences between one method of producing his permutations and another; he avers, for instance, that where the hinder bells run 7, 5, 6, or 5, 6, 7, or 5, 7, 6, the music is always prettier, and can detect and approve, where they occur, the consecutive fifths of Tittums and the cascading thirds of the Queen’s change. But what he really means is, that by the English method of ringing with rope and wheel, each several bell gives forth her fullest and her noblest note. His passion—and it is a passion—finds its satisfaction in mathematical completeness and mechanical perfection, and as his bell weaves her way rhythmically up from lead to hinder place and down again, he is filled with the solemn intoxication that comes of intricate ritual faultlessly performed.



2 A FULL PEAL OF Grandsire Triples
Mr. Gotobed Is Called Wrong with a Double

“We mustn’t question the ways of Providence,” said the Rector.

“Providence?” said the old woman. “Don’t yew talk to me about Providence. I’ve had enough o’ Providence. First he took my husband, and then he took my ’taters, but there’s One above as’ll teach him to mend his manners, if he don’t look out.”

The Rector was too much distressed to challenge this remarkable piece of theology.



Lord Peter Is Called Into the Hunt

[...] there’s somebody in this village that knows something. And the less they think we guess, the more free they’ll act and speak. And that’s why, my lord, I was rather glad when the reverend gentleman suggested you coming down here. They’ll talk freer to you than to me—see?”

“Perfectly. I’m a terrific success at pottering round asking sloppy questions. And I can put away quite a lot of beer in a good cause.”

“When I was a lad, there wasn’t none o’ this myster’ousness about. Everything was straightforward an’ proper. But ever since eddication come in, it’s been nothing but puzzlement, and fillin’ up forms and ’ospital papers and sustificates and such, before you can even get as much as your Lord George pension.”



“But quickness in the ’ed don’t mean a good ’eart. There’s many evil men is as quick as monkeys. Didn’t the good Lord say as much? The children o’ this world is wiser in their generation than the children o’ light. He commended the unjust steward, no doubt, but he give the fellow the sack just the same, none the more for that.”



Lord Peter Is Taken from Lead and Makes Thirds Place

“But it really makes things easier to do a little wondering, I mean, if you’re once interested in a thing it makes it seem less real. That’s not the right word, though.”

“Less personal?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean. You begin to imagine how it all happened, and gradually it gets to feel more like something you’ve made up.”

“H’m!” said Wimsey. “If that’s the way your mind works, you’ll be a writer one day.”



Tailor Paul Is Called Before with a Single

“The French, as you have no doubt often noticed, seldom head their letters with an address as we do in England, though they occasionally write at the foot some such useless information as ‘Paris’ or ‘Lyon,’ without adding the number of the house and the name of the street. They do, however, frequently place these necessary indications on the flap of the envelope, in the hope that they may be thrown into the fire and irrecoverably lost before the letter is answered or even read.”

“It has sometimes occurred to me, my lord, to be surprised at that habit.”

“Not at all, Bunter. It is quite logical. To begin with, it is a fixed idea with the French that the majority of letters tend to be lost in the post. They put no faith in Government departments, and I think they are perfectly right. They hope, however, that, if the post-office fails to deliver the letter to the addressee it may, in time, return it to the sender. It seems a forlorn hope, but they are again perfectly right. One must explore every stone and leave no avenue unturned. The Englishman, in his bluff, hearty way, is content that under such circumstances the post-office should violate his seals, peruse his correspondence, extract his signature and address from the surrounding verbiage, supply a fresh envelope and return the whole to him under the blushing pseudonym of ‘Hubbykins’ or ‘Dogsbody’ for the entertainment of his local postman.”

Emily Turns Bunter from Behind
“If the shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast, should never again be heard upon my lips, you will know why. My friends will probably be devoutly thankful.”
3 A SHORT TOUCH OF Stedman’s Triples
Nobby Goes In Slow and Comes Out Quick
“You wait till you get stuck on a ladder in a belfry in the dark. Bells are like cats and mirrors—they’re always queer, and it doesn’t do to think too much about them.”



text checked (see note) Jan 2008

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