Lady Molly of Scotland Yard
Baroness Orczy’s 1910 collection of short stories, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, is about a lady detective — one of the first in fiction!
Baroness Orczy, author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, wrote this collection of stories about Molly Robertson-Kirk. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard uses her feminine intuition to solve crimes.
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Lady Molly of Scotland Yard Transcript
Sarah Harrison 0:24
Welcome to Tea, Tonic, and Toxin, a book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries and thrillers ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison,
Carolyn Daughters 0:36
And I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a tea, or a gin and tonic,
Sarah Harrison 0:42
… but not a toxin …
Carolyn Daughters 0:44
No. And join us on the journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every one of them a game changer.
Sarah Harrison 0:56
Carolyn Daughters 0:57
Sarah Harrison 0:59
Good morning. Happy to see you again.
Carolyn Daughters 1:03
I’m happy to see you. It’s been a very long time — 12 hours or so. Maybe 16 hours.
Sarah Harrison 1:18
We’ve been on air for 30 seconds. We’re already having technical difficulties. Several of them.
I blame it on my son since he had to go to the urgent care last night, and my husband and I and especially him. Don’t feel sorry for me, feel sorry for my poor husband who’s sleep deprived today. But yeah, I handle it worse. I’ll definitely say that. He handles it better.
Carolyn, what on earth have we been reading?
Carolyn Daughters 1:51
Well, first of all, this is our 12th book of the year. It is Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, and it’s pretty awesome. She’s one of the first professional female detectives in literature.
Sarah Harrison 2:04
It was very cool. You got a really cool listener comment about a female detective, and now I want to see the date of who was first, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard or the Fergus Hume novel? Do you happen to know?
Carolyn Daughters 2:20
I would say it’s probably Fergus Hume’s detective in The Pink Shop, because Lady Molly of Scotland Yard’s 1910. So she’s quite a few years after Fergus Hume. I think like 20 years past.
Sarah Harrison 2:44
I guess I don’t know the length of his writing career.
Unless he had like a 60-year really prolific career, which he might have. I think he was a prolific writer.
The cool thing is Lady Molly of Scotland Yard was written by a lady. So now I kind of want to read The Pink Shop and compare the lady detective written by a man versus written by a lady.
Carolyn Daughters 2:55
Well, yes. So The Pink Shop is now on my list. Before we get that, though, how about we discuss our sponsor this month?
Sarah Harrison 3:16
I love our sponsor. Our sponsor is amazing. Our sponsor this month is …
Carolyn Daughters 3:20
Grace Sigma is a Denver based … I’m in charge of reading. Now, we never discussed which one was going to come first.
Sarah Harrison 3:39
No, whoever talks faster.
Carolyn Daughters 3:41
Okay, so listeners, this is how this goes. We usually record in the afternoon, but today, we’re maybe both a little sleep deprived, Sarah more than me, and we don’t normally do this in the morning. So, maybe we need a big cup of coffee.
Sarah Harrison 3:55
It’s gonna be an extra fun podcast brought to you by Grace Sigma.
Carolyn Daughters 4:00
We’re minutes in and we’ve discussed nothing so far. So it’s only up from here. Our sponsor this month is Grace Sigma. Grace Sigma is a Denver-based process engineering consultancy specializing in the intersection where business process meets technology. Grace Sigma works nationally in such industries as finance, telecom, and government. They use lean methods to assist in documentation development, data, dashboarding storytelling, process visualization, training, and project management. Whether you’re a small business looking to scale effectively or large corporation whose processes have become tangled, Grace Sigma can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation email email@example.com.
We love this company. You’re awesome, Grace Sigma. Grace Sigma is run by our own Sarah Harrison.
Sarah Harrison 5:11
Carolyn Daughters 5:17
It’s a pretty awesome company. But Sarah is a pretty awesome person. And if you think she can help, definitely reach out.
Sarah Harrison 5:25
I’ll do my best.
Carolyn Daughters 5:27
She will do better than that. She will do awesome.
Sarah Harrison 5:31
I’ll do someone else’s best.
Carolyn Daughters 5:33
Who is our listener of the month? Oh, I have that as well here. I have a lot of reading today.
Well, I’m going to tell us about our listener and you’re going to tell us about the book.
Sarah Harrison 5:50
I’m gonna be so excited about the listener. I’m just over here brimming with excitement over this month’s listener.
Carolyn Daughters 5:56
She is, it’s true. Our listener this month is Madi Kanga. I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. Madi has weighed in on Fergus Hume and a novel called The Pink Shop. We have not looked into this yet, but we are both interested in reading it, as it includes an avant garde lady detective.
Sarah Harrison 6:19
Yes, what we were discussing earlier, we were both really intrigued by your comment, Madi, and did you know, listeners, that we have a blog? We do. It’s on our website. Send us a note, and we’ll probably send you a sticker.
Carolyn Daughters 6:36
Just weigh in on our podcast episodes or book selections. Or just say hello, on our website or on our Facebook or Instagram pages @teatonicandtoxin. We send you a sticker. And they’re awesome stickers. They’re beautiful.
Sarah Harrison 6:54
And your comments are awesome. And we love it. And Madi is clearly a super smarty pants reading Fergus Hume’s other works. We’re excited about that. There’s so many obscure books left to read in the world. If you didn’t know that, just rewind a little bit and listen to more of our podcast.
Carolyn Daughters 7:13
Which you should do anyway. So Lady Molly of Scotland Yard.
Sarah Harrison 7:19
This is a cool one. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard features a female detective who uses her feminine intuition to solve crimes. The author, Baroness Orczy, also wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel books and The Old Man in the Corner, featuring an armchair detective who solves crimes while talking to a female journalist. Lady Molly is a collection of short stories and a light, quick read. The stories have simple plots, and Lady Molly solves entertaining cases using disguises, eavesdropping, entrapments, and, of course, her intuition. The structure of the stories is familiar to the Sherlock Holmes stories. Each story is narrated by Mary Granard, Lady Molly’s assistant and confidante. Mary worships Lady Molly, frequently referring to her in grandiose terms, such as “my sweet, womanly, ultra-feminine, beautiful lady.” Does she say “ultra-feminine”?
Carolyn Daughters 8:25
That’s a direct quote.
Sarah Harrison 8:26
I missed that one. Sweet. I’m gonna start referring to myself that way. I’m gonna start referring to you that way.
In the first story, Mary is working for Scotland Yard in the Female Department and is told to help Lady Molly with a case that has stumped the male detectives. By the third story in the collection, Mary is working as Lady Mary’s private secretary. In the last two stories, we go back in time. In these origin stories, we find out what originally led Lady Molly, the “acknowledged queen of county and town society,” to work for Scotland Yard in the first place. The stories brings us full circle, as Lady Molly finally solves the crime that has long threatened to ruin her life and that of her secret husband
… secret husband …
Captain Hubert. Happy once again, Lady Molly retires from Scotland Yard.
Carolyn Daughters 9:36
I have to say she seemed pretty happy even before we knew she had a secret husband.
Sarah Harrison 9:41
Yeah, I thought honestly that she was kind of on the level of these, I would almost call them sociopathic detectives who are just like, I don’t care if someone was killed. I just care if it’s a hard enough case for me to solve. That’s what this is all about and me and my puzzle mastering, not necessarily like any deep sympathy with the human race. She’s Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, but at the end, you find that her motivation was totally different. The whole reason she got involved with Scotland Yard was because of this tragedy with her fiance/secret husband.
Carolyn Daughters 10:21
Yeah. I thought that was interesting. I found it a little confusing. I was not expecting her to have a secret husband.
Sarah Harrison 10:32
I wasn’t either. Carolyn told me right before the podcast that I needed to read the end of the book.
Carolyn Daughters 10:37
But I didn’t tell you why not.
Which I appreciated. Because I was like, what, what, what? We had been reading this and if you’re reading it, you might have thought also like, well, this is a funny little collection of little lady detective stories, and they’re all just episodic, you know, unrelated to one another. And then Carolyn’s, like, “no, the last two are related.”
… and integral to understanding how these stories wrap up.
Sarah Harrison 11:05
Yeah, it’s kind of her origin story, which is cool. I don’t know that we’ve had an origin story, but they’re really popular right now in terms of moviemaking.
Carolyn Daughters 11:18
Give me an example.
Sarah Harrison 11:20
Of origin stories? The Joker’s origins Batman, it’s a whole thing now where every villain has their own origin story that they’re always sort of retelling. In fact, it’s kind of gotten a lot of criticism in the popular press. Likem we don’t want to know everyone’s origin story. Some people appear and they’re maniacs. Just let it be. Origin stories are a real thing right now.
Carolyn Daughters 11:51
Well, from the villain standpoint, I guess it could potentially help us identify with that villain in a way we wouldn’t if we didn’t know that they had this terrible childhood and all these other things.
Sarah Harrison 12:02
But have we gotten one yet? I mean, we don’t have and why did Inspector Bucket turn to the detective agency?
Carolyn Daughters 12:10
What was Sherlock Holmes’ childhood like?
Sarah Harrison 12:14
What abuse like made him into the man that he is today?
No, but Lady Molly of Scotland Yard has a legit origin story and it kind of wraps up her story and her purpose and I thought that was pretty cool.
Carolyn Daughters 12:27
I’m pretty sure Edgar Allan Poe’s detective Dupin was never a child.
Sarah Harrison 12:32
Right? Yeah, the origin of these folks, they just kind of appear. They’re these little geniuses that do their thing, but we find out that Lady Molly of Scotland Yard has all along been moving with this really personal purpose.
Carolyn Daughters 12:46
Yeah, kind of in in the background. And I had thought she was happy all along, going to take tea, going to investigate this, traveling here, traveling there. I just thought now she’s leading a pretty interesting life.
Sarah Harrison 13:03
We really see at the end that maybe she is happy all along. I mean, in spite of whatever’s going on in your life, I feel like you can compartmentalize to an extent and find some fulfillment, but also we see unlike the last two stories what a huge faker she is. Her ability to appear one way when she’s completely the opposite inside.
Carolyn Daughters 13:29
Yeah, so she’s all about the disguises, and she wants to take risks and at one point she and Mary, her confidant, spend like a month in disguise somehow. It’s, like, weeks.
Sarah Harrison 13:47
Yeah, that reminds me who was the guy that like disguised himself and lived in the apartment?
Carolyn Daughters 14:02
That is The Big Bow Mystery, and it was Detective Wimp of Scotland Yard.
Sarah Harrison 14:11
It was one of these two dueling detectives in The Big Bow Mystery. If you’re power listening to this on a road trip to Christmas or something, and you’re gonna be like, You guys can’t remember what you said in the last episode. Hey, it’s been a month … But, yeah, Detective went disguised himself and lived in the apartment and secretly ransacked this guy’s room every night. The techniques that folks use back in the day, you know, Bucket would do the same thing. Like, the poor kid just lived in fear because Bucket was everywhere and always kicking him out of wherever he was.
Carolyn Daughters 14:54
And insituating himself into people’s homes.
Sarah Harrison 14:57
Yeah, he was always sneaking around and tricking people. And it’s so interesting that I think almost all of that’s illegal.
Carolyn Daughters 15:05
Yeah. Lady Molly’s crossing a lot of lines and boundaries.
Sarah Harrison 15:12
It was interesting. I don’t know, it seemed like the only way that a lot of people could solve these crimes was through trickery. Do we solve fewer crimes today?
All these laws about directness. Were a lot of people like wrongly entrapped using these tricky techniques who were innocent. I was just wondering about the evolution of the legal system that we’re seeing.
Carolyn Daughters 15:45
Are the books reflective of what was happenin, or are the books telling fictional stories about what would be fun if it could happen?
Sarah Harrison 15:54
I feel like we have to assume that the techniques are real, or it wouldn’t have any element of believability at the time. But as far as like the effectiveness of the techniques, or how often they misfired, I don’t feel like I have any insight into that. But I feel like they must have misfired quite a bit for the legal system to change so drastically from then to now.
Carolyn Daughters 16:20
Very much anything goes. Lady Molly and Mary are in disguise a lot. They’re hiding out in a house. They are eavesdropping through the curtain.
Sarah Harrison 16:32
Mary’s always the secret witness. I feel like sometimes it’s a good thing you have a hired companion that you can place everywhere to be your secret witness to everything. Because sometimes that’s all it takes is you have this extra witness to testify.
Carolyn Daughters 16:46
And just like in Hound of the Baskervilles, where Holmes sends Watson off to this other area of England and accompany this gentleman in his home and look out for the Baskerville curse and find out what’s going on. Molly does the same thing with Mary. Hey, board this train, and go here, and pack your bag, and oh, by the way, wear a disguise. Make sure you’re wearing a hat and this odd outfit.
Sarah Harrison 17:16
With that clock one, just like go along and do whatever they want. I’m gonna say sick in bed. Just do whatever they want. Or what was the one where she thought Lady Molly got beat up and hospitalized and she actually went rogue and got Molly arrested.
Carolyn Daughters 17:34
I think Mary’s pretty awesome. My least favorite characteristic of Mary Granard, who’s Lady Molly’s assistant and confidant, is how fawning she is.
Sarah Harrison 17:47
I thought he would say that and I want to hear more about why that’s your least favorite.
Carolyn Daughters 17:51
Well, so let me tell you my favorite is that she’s actually bold. She’s daring. She’s all the things in her own right. She’s the real deal in her own right. I would hire her in a heartbeat for pretty much anything if I had the opportunity and if she didn’t live in a different century and wasn’t a fictional character.
Sarah Harrison 18:14
I mean, it’s certainly hire her as my household person. But she’s wrong a lot. In terms of the mystery she’s always wrong. She’s kind of that foil, and Lady Molly is always extremely right. What I actually thought was interesting was how often Mary waffles between trusting and not trusting Lady Molly. Sometimes she’s like, well, she told me to do it, so I’m gonna do it even though I don’t understand why. And then sometimes she goes rogue, and she calls the police and she’s like this person did it and they’re a murderer and we have this and how dare they? Molly’s got the situation well in hand all the time, but Mary’s screwing it up a little bit.
Carolyn Daughters 19:00
I feel like Mary should have had a name that didn’t start with “M.”
Sarah Harrison 19:04
Yes. That would have been easier for me.
Carolyn Daughters 19:08
Yes. Because even when writing notes I would sometimes say sometimes Mary when I met Molly.
Sarah Harrison 19:15
These two syllable “M” names.
Carolyn Daughters 19:19
There are only two female characters throughout the book. I feel like they could have had different first initials.
Sarah Harrison 19:26
The names have been kind of an interesting theme throughout this year, honestly. Even in the last book when Molly is toying with these two guys affections and pitting them against each other and the whole time Mary’s a little bit dense in terms of like, why is she doing this, it’s just cruel and she actually kind of gets these negative feelings towards Molly.
Carolyn Daughters 19:52
It’s one of the first times I remember negativity. The other time is when she was sent to role play as a scour maid. She had to scrub the front steps or something? And she said, admittedly my thoughts were not as positive about Lady Molly as they usually are.
Sarah Harrison 20:10
Yeah, I feel she definitely waffles quite a bit, which was interesting, but at the same time, I’m like, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard is so right all the time. I feel like she does deserve a little bit more trust.
Carolyn Daughters 20:24
Just assume she’s doing something that makes sense.
Sarah Harrison 20:28
Yeah. I mean, I liked Mary quite a lot. Yeah, I like Molly too. I thought she was fabulous.
Carolyn Daughters 20:35
I like both of the characters. So that whole hero worship thing I find annoying because Mary refers to herself at various times as Lady Molly’s confidante and friend. But it’s very hard to have a friendship when one person is so elevated and the other is so fawning. I feel like the unequal status makes friendship difficult and always puts one in the position of being the lesser, the inferior.
Sarah Harrison 21:12
I feel like there’s a lot that I don’t understand from our own cultural perspective that I see in all these books, where there’s the perspective of being in the service industry. And it’s really an industry there, but it’s also really a frame of mind, as we’ve seen in some of the books like in Bleak House. I forget his name, obviously. He grew up in service. So then he felt service was humiliating, and he left. He’s the guy that became the iron monger. [George Rouncewell]
Carolyn Daughters 21:50
And his mom was still in service to the family and very much, like, these are my people. And they’re wonderful. And I love them. And in their way, they have kind of almost like an equal confidence in their service-ness. Like, you are a wonderful and perfect servant, and you have a life here. And you can retire here in ease and comfort, and we love you. But there is this definite role separation, and I just feel like I just don’t understand. And it’s not a part of our culture. And it’s not how we operate today at all. I don’t know that it’s like a bad way of operating, but I don’t know if it’s good either. That was another thing too — they kiss each other good night. And I thought, what? I kiss my kids and my husband good night, but I don’t kiss anyone else good night.
I think female friends at the time of a certain class might kiss each other on the cheek good night sort of thing.
Sarah Harrison 23:04
And it’s like, Molly does tell her everything, but only in her own time. Yes. And she does trust her with like these really important life scenarios.
But like, only she doesn’t, she doesn’t really find out her role until the end. It’s a really weird friendship and relationship. But we’ve seen it several times during these books.
Carolyn Daughters 23:29
Holmes and Watson.
Sarah Harrison 23:31
There’s kind of ways that people adore each other. And I just wonder, I just wonder about it.
Carolyn Daughters 23:38
So in The Hound of the Baskervilles, I felt like Sherlock Holmes demonstrated caring for Watson and concern for his well being in a way that I didn’t see Lady Molly do toward Mary, at least on the page.
Sarah Harrison 23:54
That’s interesting, because I guess I felt really different about that. I felt like Lady Molly was always kind to Mary, like she loved Mary and she never said these weird, backhanded, arrogant, … they’re supposed to be compliments, but they’re actually insults. Like she never said that crap to Mary. I loved her.
Carolyn Daughters 24:19
She could be impatient with Mary at times. At times she would say things to Mary like, “Don’t waste my time making me tell you about this detail.” Let’s go. So she goes work as the chairwoman at the SO and SO mansion. Don’t ask me why I don’t have time to tell you.
Sarah Harrison 24:37
But it’s certainly not on the level of like, “you are the conduit for my own genius.:
Carolyn Daughters 24:46
I mean, this is all coming from Mary’s perspective. She’s our narrator. So Molly is going to come across as nearly perfect as a character can come across.
Sarah Harrison 24:58
I would think so. But I don’t feel that way about Sherlock. Even though Watson, I’d say, is equally adoring in his own way, Sherlock comes across as this really smart jerk. And I can’t necessarily figure out why Watson acts the way he does towards Sherlock, whereas I found Lady Molly of Scotland Yard to be actually genuinely charming. She could charm any situation, and that was part of the way she worked.
Carolyn Daughters 25:36
Yeah, she, she always kept her composure. She always seemed serene and at peace. She could smile equally to somebody she loved and somebody she was trying to deceive.
Sarah Harrison 25:51
Yeah, even when Mary got her arrested, she was like, “Now Mary, you got me into this. You’ll have to get me out of it.” And Molly was not fazed.
Carolyn Daughters 26:02
Yeah. Pretty laid back generally. But I think part of that is why I felt like she was leading a pretty good life. She seemed to have enough money to live.
Sarah Harrison 26:15
Carolyn Daughters 26:16
She lived well.
Sarah Harrison 26:18
She had her place in society, and that didn’t diminish.
Carolyn Daughters 26:21
She is Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. She’s not Molly of Scotland Yard. And then she’s traveling, she’s dining. She’s having fun adventures. She always seems peaceful and content. So when we find out in the last two stories that, no, she hasn’t been content, she has been furiously behind the scenes trying to save her husband, her secret …
Sarah Harrison 26:47
She’s always revisiting the scene of the murder. She’s always got this on her mind. And in fact, I feel like the distance that she creates in the life that she creates is kind of a foil to keep people from knowing that she is trying to still like free him.
Carolyn Daughters 27:04
Right. It gives her maybe an excuse. This could have been built out into a whole bigger thing. I mean, truly, like she’s finding this reason to look for her husband without drawing suspicion to herself, to look for the actual killer without drawing undue suspicion. She’s part of the Scotland Yard police force.
Sarah Harrison 27:29
Well, and it turned out that like her whole plan hinged on seeming like she wasn’t in love with her fiance anymore. And there was this distance now that she could use to kind of draw the confession out of the real killers. Which was a really interesting move in terms of how do I get this information?
Yeah. She’s she’s very clever. I think Molly and Mary are both very clever. I would say that, on the surface, I could not have solved any of the crimes in the 12 stories.
Carolyn Daughters 28:11
But then I think a lot of the way she solved things were just like if something was in her head, and she had a gut feel. It’s this feminine intuition that leads her to the resolution.
Sarah Harrison 28:24
Well, she does always kind of have come up with a trick to kind of confirm her suspicions. Nobody’s arrested on suspicion. And that is very interesting too. Mary has thoughts and intuition, but she’ll even say like Molly’s next level at it. So she kind of reads people. We can call it feminine intuition, but really, I feel she’s an expert in reading people and like the study of the human character. Which is interesting, because I thought, a lot of what we’ve seen females portrayed as so far has been very one dimensional. Like, females are wonderfully good and stupid.
And this is the bit part they’re playing this mystery. Whereas Molly is fully like, Oh, this one could definitely be a murderer. Now, this one’s super clever. She ransacked herself. So like she’s not tricked by the Victorian perception of womanhood. And yet she’s also the epitome …
Carolyn Daughters 29:33
She’s ultra-feminine, Mary tells us.
Sarah Harrison 29:34
She is but she’s also a police. So that is really interesting. I thought it was almost like she was positioned as a woman to see through not only men but women more than perhaps she felt like men were seeing through women at the time.
Carolyn Daughters 29:54
Yeah, Mary calls men in the very beginning, she says something like … let me see if I can find this … She says, “would the truth have ever come to light if the men alone had had the handling of it?” And “she had 10 times as much intuition as the blundering and sterner sex.” Blundering.
Sarah Harrison 30:21
But that actually is one of the only disrespectful terms used in the book, which was another interesting thing. I feel like we’ve seen a lot of women disrespected in our books, but also a lot of intellect being treated disrespectfully. Like the way Sherlock Holmes or Dupin might think of people on the force. The police, the bumbling police, the stupid police. They are so dumb.
But Lady Molly of Scotland Yard is not either of those. She’s always super respectful. Like one of our best men at the Yard came up with these clues. And she’s very niche. And she comes in and finishes off the case with no disrespect to the gentleman involved. They did a great job. They just don’t have my skill set.
Carolyn Daughters 31:17
And they all seem to respect her, which I loved. I can’t imagine this in almost any of the books we’ve read.
Sarah Harrison 31:25
No! They’re like, “that dumb, hysterical woman is going to get a brain fever!” Instead, they’re like, “Oh, you’re handling case. Wonderful. Yes, I will come in and arrest this person.”
Carolyn Daughters 31:37
Right. Yeah. Whereas, if this were Mystery of a Hansom Cab or something like that, you would you’d almost expect her intuition to be derided. Like, oh, this is one of those women cases. So put the woman on the woman case and see if she uses her feminine intuition. There’s nothing derogatory shared. And the sense we get is that Scotland Yard respects her.
Sarah Harrison 32:04
Yeah, they give they give her some of their most difficult, unsolvable cases that they think she would have an advantage in. And then she does and everyone’s happy. It’s really very much human character evaluation. And it’s not like Sherlock Holmes, who would be like, “Well, I’ve made a study of the bites of all dogs. And this, to me, is a curly haired spaniel bite. And so from that I deduce …” She doesn’t do any of that. She reads the situation, she comes up with what would be a logical solution. And then she tests it. It is really different. But I thought it was really interesting.
Carolyn Daughters 32:49
I agree. I thought it was interesting. There’s a lot in this book that addresses social class. And I think that that’s so interesting. We got it from Mary’s perspective, but every time somebody is in the will but shouldn’t be because he was dissolute and spent too much money or drank or was engaged to a woman who was not of his class.
Sarah Harrison 33:14
Who got married because he’s thought his wife was dead, but she wasn’t done until just then. And then who’s legitimate, and who’s not legitimate?
Carolyn Daughters 33:27
Yeah, and Mary says, a lot like I started marking on the book. She’d make these statements about this dissolute person, this slatternly person, …
Sarah Harrison 33:42
Slatternly was one of her favorite descriptions
Carolyn Daughters 33:45
A person following the usual pattern common to her class or common to her kind, or maybe they were not tidy, or maybe their clothing looked dirty, or they were not forthright, or they were too forthright. She would always find this way to tack it on to who they were from her perspective, because of the class.
Sarah Harrison 34:13
Well, it was interesting. There were class comments, but then I couldn’t really disentangle because sometimes she would. She would talk about the upper class people too. I was just reading the one where Margaret Seeley and she tossed off her old fiance for a new fiance and was endangering his life and was just very cold about the fact that he might be executed, and she makes sure it doesn’t hurt her reputation and her future prospects. So it wasn’t only like the lower class was disparaged. I couldn’t quite tell — I felt like Mary was adding her read into the situation. She had a look in her eye. It was a bold look. A conniving look. And she was and she was slatternly.
Carolyn Daughters 35:16
And the look suggested poor breeding or something.
Sarah Harrison 35:18
Yeah, but I do feel like they were considering these things clues.
Carolyn Daughters 35:27
Maybe it’s the gut feel.
Sarah Harrison 35:28
Maybe they’re reading the people and that’s telling them kind of the direction to intuit the solution they’re gonna test.
Yeah. One of the stories near the end is The Woman in the Big Hat. And Lady Molly of Scotland Yard is able to solve this murder mystery in large part I think because of her gut feel of the wife, the 25 year old wife, who seemed sketchy to her. She seemed off, and when Mary is describing her, she kind of seems a little bit off, too. She seems cold or disinterested in figuring out who killed her husband.
Yeah. And those are interesting. I those are to me. Like, we’re always getting gut feelings about people. We’re always sensing when things feel off. And we’re trying to picture the pieces. Like, why does this feel off? And sometimes it’s like, I think sometimes we’re genuinely unfair to someone. And sometimes we’re genuinely correct. And we’re just trying to piece together, why is my gut telling me this?
Carolyn Daughters 36:40
But don’t you think, though, that sometimes our gut is telling us something correct, but we don’t know the real reason why. So we’re like, okay, something’s off here. Like, I’ll do this, for example, I’ll say to my partner, Michael, I think something’s going on here. I think this is off they’ll say, Well, why would you think that? And I’m like, I just have a feeling. But I don’t know why. So it’s easy to try to then ascribe.
Sarah Harrison 37:10
Well, you’re trying to figure out why you got this feeling.
Carolyn Daughters 37:13
Right, So you’re like, well, maybe this is what they’re thinking, this is what they’re doing. But I tend to not do that. I usually stop with something’s not right here. And I’m often correct. And I know you are too. You’re very good at this.
Sarah Harrison 37:25
I’m not sure I can always articulate but sometimes you do, you know, to really, you feel the feeling. And I don’t think that it is an illogical feeling. I think what you’re doing a lot of times is, parts of your brain are developed to put pieces together faster than you do. So cognitively, that seems like a really reasonable survival instinct. You don’t see a snake and then stop and think about it. Let me look at my snake book and see if you’re a poisonous one. You see a movement at the corner of your eye, and you make a decision. And it’s a survival instinct. And then later, your brain can kind of try and figure out the pieces of what you’re thinking. Sometimes your brain does a good job, and sometimes your brain doesn’t quite gather the right pieces.
But yeah, I wouldn’t say I stop by feeling off, I will definitely keep going and try and gather my pieces, rightly or wrongly, and wonder, Why do I feel this way? Am I thinking this. And as I kind of articulate through it, sometimes I’m landing on things, and sometimes I’m not.
Carolyn Daughters 38:41
But sometimes it’s hard to know the root cause because people are complex, and you have such a small fraction of the big picture. You can you can know something’s off but and then maybe you say, Well, I think it’s because this thing happened and the fact that this person feels off. That can help explain it. But it could be something altogether different.
Sarah Harrison 39:08
Yeah, yeah, it totally can. We are limited.
Carolyn Daughters 39:13
We’re bad mind readers. Generally speaking. I’m a I’m a terrible mind reader.
Sarah Harrison 39:19
That’s one of the things I liked about Lady Molly is the ways she would come up with testing her hypotheses. She’d get her gut feeling and then she’d figure out how to bring it to the surface. That part was always kind of interesting to me.
Carolyn Daughters 39:36
Yeah, it was, it was enjoyable. I liked Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. I did. I liked it quite a lot. I had never heard of it prior to our book club and podcast, and I thought, this is pretty cool. This is her actual job, working for Scotland Yard.
Sarah Harrison 39:52
Which is funny, too, because I know The Scarlet Pimpernel and maybe it isn’t as popular anymore, but I do have like the old timey movie Scarlet Pimpernel. I assume it was based on the book, but I haven’t read the book. I’m wondering why her other works are maybe lesser known, because Lady Molly’s is really cool.
Carolyn Daughters 40:15
I don’t know. I’ve never read The Scarlet Pimpernel or seen the movie.
Sarah Harrison 40:19
Oh, really? It’s really funny. Oh, my goodness it’s so wacky.
Carolyn Daughters 40:24
Okay. Then I’m going to add that to my growing list of things I need to read and watch and listen to and I’m going to actually read The Scarlet Pimpernel, because now I’m like, is the book that wacky? I didn’t even know there was a book.
I think it’s either series of stories or a series of books.
Sarah Harrison 40:46
He’s almost like this crazy Robin Hood character. And I think he sings and dances and leaps around, at least in the movie.
Carolyn Daughters 40:52
So yes. Does that happen in the book? Or were liberties taken?
Sarah Harrison 40:56
Is he kind of this wacky? guy I don’t know. You tell us. There’s clearly people out there reading more obscure and interesting things than we are even reading.
Carolyn Daughters 41:07
And to be fair, it could be a while before we get to The Scarlet Pimpernel in our free time.
Sarah Harrison 41:13
Yes, we’re reading in a lot of books in order right now.
Carolyn Daughters 41:15
We are reading we’re we are keeping up. We’re doing we can.
Let’s talk about the end of this book.
She’s secretly married, we learn.
Sarah Harrison 41:32
Yeah, which I went the wrong direction with that. I thought she was wanting to hurry up and marry Captain Hubert so that he would be disinherited from his fortune due to like the second will, and then people would be like, Oh, well, it’s nothing on him then. But that’s not how it went at all. I’m always wrong about these things.
Carolyn Daughters 41:52
You thought Lady Molly wanted to marry him for the money.
Sarah Harrison 41:54
No, I thought she wanted to marry him to clear him because they were like, Oh, well, he’s cleared then. Because I don’t think I fully understood the legal aspect. Because he presumably made the second will, the grandpa made the second will that said if you marry Lady Molly, you’re disinherited.
Carolyn Daughters 42:18
… if you ever marry her …
And so I thought, Okay, well, they’ll get married, and he’ll be disinherited. And we’ll show like no motive. But that’s not the legal system at the time.
I didn’t think about that, but yeah, that would have been sort of …
Sarah Harrison 42:32
I thought, that’s why she was rushing it. She was just rushing it because she knew he was going to jail. And she wanted to marry him.
Carolyn Daughters 42:37
And she loved him.
Sarah Harrison 42:38
And she loved him. It wasn’t actually any sort of evidence-based thing. Oh, and I thought she was trying to have Mary listen in again to witness all of these things. But that’s not it either. I actually don’t know why she had Mary listen into the proposal.
Carolyn Daughters 42:58
So the proposal came from Baddock, right.
Sarah Harrison 43:05
Well, I was hoping at the beginning when she had met first first she had Mary listen to her proposal to her husband. She said, I want to get married right now. And Mary was like, Oh, well, she left the curtain open. She openly came back and open the door. So I did deduce she wanted me to listen. And she did. Although I don’t know why. But then she did the same thing five years later with Baddock. And Baddock’s servant, Frenzel?
Carolyn Daughters 43:37
Now what was that guy’s name?
Sarah Harrison 43:42
Carolyn Daughters 43:48
It started with an F like Fenton or something. Falcon.
Sarah Harrison 43:58
Carolyn Daughters 44:02
The names in 19 century mysteries are not intuitive to me. So she’s sort of playing what looks like loose and fast. Flirting with these two guys. Phillip Baddock, who’s the son …
Sarah Harrison 44:22
… her half brother …
Carolyn Daughters 44:25
That’s so weird. I know.
Sarah Harrison 44:26
I was super puzzled. I’m constantly wanting to Google Victorian life.
Carolyn Daughters 44:32
But it’s never addressed that he’s her half brother.
Sarah Harrison 44:34
No, it’s mentioned.
Carolyn Daughters 44:37
Sarah Harrison 44:38
Only in terms of like, if you’re following the family tree. It turns out that Baddock is the legitimate son of this grandpa from his second wife that nobody knew he had a kid with. He had a kid and never brought him to England and sent him off to boarding school, whatnot. Then his wife runs off with his neighbor and has another kid, Lady Molly, who turns out to be I couldn’t figure out a lot of stuff. But one of it was like, how wonderful her father was, oh, father’s wonderful. He’s this and that. And I’m like, But didn’t he steal somebody’s wife? Your mom? That’s not striking me as a man of high integrity and loyalty.
Carolyn Daughters 45:34
Yeah, it’s it’s a little interesting.
Sarah Harrison 45:36
Yeah, and so then she pretends to be interested in marrying Baddock.
Carolyn Daughters 45:44
And the other guy.
Sarah Harrison 45:46
And Falcon, his friend and servant. Everyone has a friend/servant. Yeah, and pits them against each other. And the whole time I’m like, but half brother, though. I’m gonna Google it. As soon as this episode is over to be like, Was that okay? Was that legal?
Carolyn Daughters 46:10
No, I don’t think so, no.
Sarah Harrison 46:13
I don’t know. She was French.
Carolyn Daughters 46:16
I honestly think Baroness Orczy, the author, forgot.
Sarah Harrison 46:21
I think that’s funny because I thought that was interestingly that you said that because I’d be like, almost always, I’m thinking that author’s screwing up and you’re like, no, it was on purpose. And this time, I was like, Maybe I’m just been fully entranced by Lady Molly’s skills and like, no, it was probably on purpose.
Carolyn Daughters 46:38
I think it would have been more directly stated if it had been on purpose. And I think Baroness Orczy also seemed to forget what Mary did and when Mary did it. So Mary worked for Scotland Yard. Presumably she works for Scotland Yard when she meets Molly. Then Molly takes her on as her private secretary. So Mary leaves Scotland Yard to work for Lady Molly. Then we learn at the end of the book that Mary was a servant of Lady Molly’s at the start. So was she a servant first and then she joined Scotland Yard, then she left Scotland Yard to become Molly’s private secretary?
Sarah Harrison 47:35
We talked about this a little bit, and I was like, No, I think it was on purpose. Like we went back and read it. I’m open to being corrected here. But I don’t see where like, Mary doesn’t quite come. She gives the impression of her already being a member when Lady Molly joins, but then when you watch the Sixth Sense. And you’re like, wait, let me go back. Oh, it didn’t actually say, it wasn’t actually that. I was wondering, Is this part of Mary’s cleverness in concealing her origin story, even as she kind of releases stories of her fame? Like how Watson was always releasing stories of Sherlock’s fame? Sherlock doesn’t have an origin story as far as I know.
Carolyn Daughters 48:27
And these stories are big. Because Mary, in narrating them, keeps making statements.
Sarah Harrison 48:34
I’m glad you brought that up.
Carolyn Daughters 48:36
These are famous stories. Case after case, these are famous cases that Lady Molly of Scotland Yard solved.
Sarah Harrison 48:43
Every time I read a book, I just want to — I don’t because I’m in the bathtub — but I just want to be Googling stuff the whole time. Because the way she talks to the reader is like, you’ll remember this case, as sort of referring to something common knowledge that they would have seen in the newspaper at the time, and I’m wondering, is she appropriating real cases and making extra stories out of them?
Carolyn Daughters 49:10
That’s a good question.
Sarah Harrison 49:11
Or is this just sort of Mary’s confidential approach to the reader to be as you know this totally fictional thing that you’ve never heard of before … But I don’t know. I’ve got some googling to do, but I can’t. I was googling marriage in Victorian England. And actually, I do need to dig a little deeper on this because I think it wasn’t quite clear at the time. There were some changes going on between 1835 and 1907 by Parliament, so I want to read some more. Maybe she screwed up or forgot. Maybe it was okay so she didn’t mention it. I had this weird idea that maybe because the mother was French and never brought to England, like somehow she didn’t count?
Carolyn Daughters 50:15
Yeah. I loved that Philip Baddock was going to send Captain Hubert to Buenos Aires.
Sarah Harrison 50:27
Yes. That was really interesting.
Carolyn Daughters 50:31
Yeah. We saw this something similar in The Hound of the Baskervilles where the criminal wandering the moors is going to be sent, I think to Costa Rica or somewhere.
Sarah Harrison 50:40
Yeah. Somewhere in South America.
Carolyn Daughters 50:41
Yes, Central and South America are like the Australia of the Americas. It’s just populated by all of these people who have been shipped there from around the world like, Well, you’re a murderer and a criminal.
Sarah Harrison 50:55
It was like an escape. If you get imprisoned, I guess you’d get to Australia. But if you just escaped you went to Central America.
Carolyn Daughters 51:04
As long as we don’t have to deal with you. Yeah, you’re a terrible human being and extremely dangerous. Let’s send you there.
Sarah Harrison 51:10
That was super interesting, though. I was trying to get the timeline because it was like two years into his sentence he escaped. Captain Marston, she said, but then it was five years before she could free him.
Carolyn Daughters 51:24
Oh, Captain Hubert?
Sarah Harrison 51:25
Yeah. Captain Hubert. Yeah. So I was like, Okay, well, I guess this is the full five years in the timespan of the book. And he went back to prison for three more years while she was pitting these lovers against themselves?
Carolyn Daughters 51:38
And while she was pitting the lovers, I think she was solving the preceding ten cases.
Sarah Harrison 51:43
Yeah. So I thought he was lying and he didn’t escape. But he really did escape.
Carolyn Daughters 51:50
He really did escape.
Sarah Harrison 51:51
And he went to this guy’s house, and I was like, You are ding-a-ling? Obviously, this guy framed you. Why did you go to his house? But this guy is so innocent of mind, and nothing ever occurs to him. It doesn’t occur to him that everyone thinks he’s the murderer.
Carolyn Daughters 52:11
I don’t think he’s a worthy husband to Lady Molly. I’m just gonna put it out there.
Sarah Harrison 52:15
He’s certainly handsome. That’s what she says.
Carolyn Daughters 52:18
Well, of course.
Sarah Harrison 52:19
He’s handsome. And he’s heroic.
Carolyn Daughters 52:21
And he’s wealthy.
Sarah Harrison 52:23
But so she says she didn’t need the money.
Carolyn Daughters 52:27
Well, I think he’s wealthier than she is. She has she inherited something like 25,000 pounds.
Sarah Harrison 52:32
He does become wealthier than she is. I think they were equals at the beginning. They don’t really need the money. But when he inherits half the estate, he’s quite wealthy. I don’t know. What I did like about him is that after their interview, and after his escape, and she calls the police to send him back, which, that was pretty smart, I have to say. That was smart for a couple of reasons. One, she’ll be able to see him again, because he’s not in Central America. She has a chance of seeing him again. And two, he leaves with this devoted confidence look on his face, which I think was really lovely.
Carolyn Daughters 53:20
So it’s really clever.
Sarah Harrison 53:22
Well, she was really clever. Yeah. And his confidence in her was really a lovely thing. I could see, well, of course, you would be in love with that.
Carolyn Daughters 53:31
No, that’s fair.
Sarah Harrison 53:33
This is kind of probably different level. But for those of you that know, we’ve been renovating our house for 10,000 years. That’s one thing I love about my husband is when I kind of explained my vision, and he might be like, I can’t visualize it, but I have confidence in your vision. I’m like, that makes me feel so good.
It wasn’t always that way at the beginning. But now we can we can have those conversations. I can really see when Captain Hubert walked out, just like, confident in his lady’s abilities, I can see that she would be attracted to that.
Carolyn Daughters 54:12
And so he’s more trusting of her than even Mary because Mary questions Lady Molly at the end. Like, what kind of game is she playing here?
Sarah Harrison 54:23
Well, if Captain Hubert had witnessed that, he might have different feelings, but he went back to jail.
Carolyn Daughters 54:29
I didn’t realize you were flirting with men nonstop for three years.
Sarah Harrison 54:33
I didn’t know that was the plan. I just knew you were gonna win. Yeah, I don’t think he would have taken that sitting down.
Carolyn Daughters 54:41
That’s amazing. Yeah. And then there’s a part of me that just thought she’s living the life. She’s a single woman traveling, doing her own thing, enjoying her life. And I was sad that she did threw in the towel with her police work at the end. It was sort of a conventional ending. Like, I got married … that was the end goal. The end game was “I am married. My husband and I are together. We are happy together. That’s that’s all we need.”
Sarah Harrison 55:18
Yeah. Now there’s all these criminals going free and innocent people dying because she is not there with her super unique set of skills.
Carolyn Daughters 55:24
Sarah Harrison 55:26
So that is that is a bummer. I’m with you on that. But I did think it was interesting, too, kind of the parallel with that end in between Sherlock and Lady Molly?
Carolyn Daughters 55:45
I think for sure, they they seemed I think that they would get along quite well, Sherlock Holmes and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard.
Sarah Harrison 55:53
Really I didn’t pair them up together. They’re I think he’s so rude, and she’s so charming.
Carolyn Daughters 56:00
But she would never let on that she thought he was rude.
Sarah Harrison 56:02
I know she wouldn’t let on but and she wants to hang out with him.
Carolyn Daughters 56:07
But I think he would have been impressed by her intuition. Every solution he would have come up with would have been, “well, I saw the notches on the walking stick. And then I measured the footsteps.” And she would say, “my gut tells me that …”
Sarah Harrison 56:23
I feel like she would have solved it like a month earlier while he’s going around collecting evidence.
Carolyn Daughters 56:28
I think they both would have figured out who did it, but they would have come at it in different ways.
Sarah Harrison 56:32
Yeah, that’s true. It would be nice to think there would be some mutual respect there. But that’s kind of one of my beefs with Sherlock is that he’s universally disrespectful.
Carolyn Daughters 56:43
Yeah, that’s true. Yes. Even even to Watson, who he seems to care about more than anybody else. I’ve also wondered now what happens with Molly and Mary’s friendship now that Molly is sailing off into the sunset with her guy.
Sarah Harrison 57:02
She’s still there as a servant.
Carolyn Daughters 57:03
Yes. But their relationship I think would necessarily change.
Sarah Harrison 57:07
Yeah, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary took care of the kids or something.
Carolyn Daughters 57:11
Ah, that’ll be fun. Middle of the night, get the bottle Mary!
Sarah Harrison 57:18
Yeah, that I remember that was like Queen Victoria’s thing, the woman that nursed Queen Victoria growing up, became her kids’ nurse. They were like, really tight friends. Until her husband dismissed her.
Carolyn Daughters 57:35
That, my friends, is an entirely other topic.
Sarah Harrison 57:38
Different Victorian story for a different day.
Carolyn Daughters 57:42
Well, Sarah, we’ve done a year of this.
Sarah Harrison 57:48
It was a great book to end on. I really like it.
Carolyn Daughters 57:50
1910, we’ve made it into the 20th century.
Sarah Harrison 57:54
Yeah, and I’m really excited about the list for next year, which I think we’re gonna talk a little bit about in the next episode.
Carolyn Daughters 58:02
I think we are.
Next episode is cool. It’s going to be awesome. Keep listening. If you’re doing that. What I think should be a movie, “Christmas Road Trip.” If you’re doing the Christmas road trip, or the New Year road trip or the Valentine’s Day road trip, whatever you’re doing, just listen to your podcast.
Sarah Harrison 58:24
Whatever your podcast binging looks like, let’s go in order. Yeah, this is our only episode for Lady Molly. And the next one we’re gonna do a prospective retrospective.
Carolyn Daughters 58:35
And Sarah, how do you want to close this out?
Sarah Harrison 58:37
Um, let’s try some some tests. Stay mysterious. Merry Christmas.
Carolyn Daughters 58:46
Happy holidays. Stay mysterious.
Sarah Harrison 58:51
Mystery on. Mystery closed. Podcast out.
Carolyn Daughters 58:59
If you have anything better than this, please, please share it.
Sarah Harrison 59:02
Comment on teatonicandtoxin.com.
February 11, 2024
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