Read Bleeding Heart Square Online

Authors: Andrew Taylor

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #Historical, #General

Bleeding Heart Square (3 page)

3

W
HEN YOU READ
these early entries, you can't help feeling it was Miss Penhow's fault too. Why didn't she realize that he was flattering her? That he could want only one thing she had to give?

Wednesday, 8 January 1930

This morning there was a letter from Mr. Orburn waiting beside my place at breakfast. He enclosed a memorandum itemizing the works he considers necessary at 7 Bleeding Heart Square. It comes in all to a little over PS105, and he recommends rounding it up to PS110 in order to allow for contingencies. It seems a great deal of money but I suppose I should go ahead. No doubt Mr. Orburn has a better idea of what is necessary than I do.

He also enclosed a letter from Major Serridge, the gentleman I met on Monday. It struck me as very much like the man himself: gruff and to the point, written in a clear, plain hand; but there was no mistaking the kindly intention behind it. I think it worth copying out here in full:

My dear Miss Penhow,

When I had the pleasure of meeting you on Monday, you asked whether I knew where the name of Bleeding Heart Square came from. I wasn't able to satisfy your curiosity then, but this morning I came across a piece of information I thought might be of interest to you.

According to a man who lodges in the house and has made something of a study of these matters, there is an old legend relating to Bleeding Heart Square and Rosington Place next door. It seems that it was once the site of a palace, of which the only remaining sign is the chapel. Many years ago, there was a ball at which a devil appeared, dressed as a gentleman. He danced a great deal with the lady of the house, who was much taken with him. They danced out of the palace together, and vanished. In the morning, the only sign of her was a human heart, still warm--left in the middle of what is now Bleeding Heart Square!

I'm afraid this is rather a sinister story for a lady's ears, but I thought you would be interested in such a quaint old legend.

Yours very sincerely,
J. S. Serridge

The Major is quite right--it is a sinister tale. It was most sensitive of him to take account of my feelings, though. Of course it is only one of those funny old stories that abound in these old places. Still, it's not without interest so I record it here.

Memo: write and thank him for his kindness.

On her second morning at Bleeding Heart Square, Lydia went out for breakfast again. She bought a copy of
The Times
from a news-agent's in Charleston Street, partly to give her something to do while she was at the cafe and partly because reading
The Times
was an activity that seemed to connect her to the person she had been before she left Frogmore Place.

The same woman was behind the counter of the Blue Dahlia but she showed no sign of recognition. After ordering tea and a fried egg, Lydia worked her way through the pages of the newspaper with a growing sense of unreality. She scanned the Situations Vacant columns and wished she were a man. A stretch of the Thames in its upper reaches had turned a rusty color and thousands of fish had been found dead. The Women's Appeal Fund for German Jewish Women and Children had held a luncheon at the Savoy Hotel yesterday. The Welsh coalfields were in crisis again, and the Prince of Wales had made a gramophone record in aid of Poppy Day. According to the weather forecast London would have local morning fog and probably occasional rain later, though in Fetter Passage there was no later about it.

Her breakfast arrived. Lydia folded the newspaper open at the crossword. "Not shown by game birds (two words) (5, 7)." She ate quickly, alert to her surroundings like a cat in a strange place.

Two men came in and took a table near the door. One was in his fifties, a skinny fellow who threw off his shabby tweed overcoat to reveal a greasy suit. He wore a hard collar but no tie. All his clothes were a little too large for him, as though he had recently shrunk. He hadn't shaved, and his hair needed cutting.

His companion was much younger. His suit was obviously off the peg and his flat cap was frankly awful, the sort of thing a chauffeur might have worn on his day off. But she liked his long face, which seemed crowded with overlarge and irregularly distributed features. It looked unfinished, as though its maker had been tempted away by a more interesting job, which gave it a sort of vulnerability. For an instant he glanced in her direction. His eyes were striking, a vivid blue that was out of place among the muddy browns and shades of gray around him. He looked away.

It was the flat cap that jogged her memory. She was almost sure this was the man she had seen yesterday afternoon, standing outside the Crozier and staring at Bleeding Heart Square.

The door closed behind the elegant young woman who had been sitting by herself with
The Times
. Rory Wentwood watched her walking along the pavement in the direction of Hatton Garden.

"That girl you've been staring at," Sergeant Narton said. "You'll know her again, eh?"

"What? Oh--that one? The one who just left?"

"You've been looking at her all the time we've been in here."

"Not really," Rory said stiffly. "It's just that she--she stood out. One noticed her in here, somehow. Not like the other customers. I was naturally curious."

"Have you seen her before?"

"No."

"Sure?"

"Of course I am. I'd remember."

"She knows someone at number seven. I think she spent the night there."

Rory shrugged. "That's nothing to do with me, Sergeant."

"All right." Narton leaned forward and lowered his voice. "First, I'm grateful you agreed to meet me this morning."

"I don't understand why--"

"Now look here, sir, from what you said yesterday, you've never met Mr. Serridge?"

"That's correct."

"So he's never met you?"

"He doesn't even know I exist."

"Well there's a thing. I've thought it over and discussed it with my superiors. And now I've got a little proposition for you. Could kill two birds with one stone. But it's confidential. Police business, see? You mustn't mention it to a soul, even your young lady."

Lydia unlocked the front door of 7 Bleeding Heart Square with her father's spare latchkey. The hall no longer smelled of rotten meat, only of old cabbage and the bedroom slops. As she was closing the door behind her, she heard footsteps at the back of the hall. It was the plump man who had let her in when she had first arrived at the house.

"Hello, hello," he said, smiling broadly. "It's Miss Ingleby-Lewis, isn't it?" He had a high-pitched, breathless voice, cockney with a veneer of education spread thinly over the vowels. "I hear you're staying with us for a few days."

"It's Mrs. Langstone, actually."

"Beg pardon?"

"My name," Lydia said, and tried to slip past him.

But the man had contrived to pin her into the angle between the table and the wall. He smiled at her and his face twitched. "I don't think we've been properly introduced. I'm Malcolm Fimberry."

"How do you do," Lydia said without enthusiasm. "Now I must really--"

"I'm so glad to have run into you. Seeing as we're going to be neighbors, I understand, in a manner of speaking. It's a friendly house, and that's good because it's much nicer if everyone gets on well together, I always think." He gave her arm a little squeeze for emphasis. "Anything you want to know, you can always come and ask me. I'm on the ground floor, that door there."

Lydia tried to push past him but his arm, surprisingly solid, was suddenly in the way.

"Will you please let me pass?" she said. "I'm going upstairs."

At that moment the door opened behind her.

"Mr. Fimberry?"

The plump man jumped away from Lydia as though she had poked him with a stick. Mrs. Renton was standing in the doorway of the room to the right of the front door. She had a needle in one hand and what looked like a woman's blouse in the other. "If you want your sheets mended, Mr. Fimberry, you'll have to pay in advance this time, if you please."

"Of course, Mrs. Renton. Can't make bricks without straw, can we?" He produced a leather purse and shook a handful of change into the palm of his hand.

"Three shillings will cover it."

He handed her a florin and a couple of sixpences. "Much obliged, I'm sure. Now I really must be off." He aimed a smile midway between the two women. "Father Bertram will be wondering where I've got to. No peace for the wicked, eh?"

As the front door closed behind him, Mrs. Renton stared calmly at Lydia. "You have to watch that one," she said. "Mind you, his bark's worse than his bite."

"Unlike Nipper," Lydia said.

"What?"

"A dog I met the other day."

"Oh, that one." Mrs. Renton peered at Lydia. "Nasty little thing. So you're having the little room next to the Captain's for the time being?"

"Yes. My father thinks it will be all right. But I--I'm not quite sure how things are managed here. In all sorts of ways."

"I dare say the Captain isn't much help on that front."

"I don't know how things are run, you see." Lydia felt absurdly foolish, like a child again. "How the cooking and cleaning are done. That sort of thing."

"A char comes in to do the stairs and the hall and so on," Mrs. Renton said. "And the bathroom and the WCs. It's meant to be once a week. All the flats and rooms share the same bathroom--you know that? She obliges some of the tenants too, including Mr. Fimberry, but not your father. He manages for himself, most of the time."

"What about cooking?"

"There's a kitchen on each floor except the attic. The flats share. But I don't think the Captain has much use for kitchens. Well, that's natural. Nor does Mr. Serridge, come to that. Mr. Serridge has got the other two rooms on your landing."

"I wonder if you would be able to advise me about what to do," Lydia said. "I haven't done much of...of this sort of thing. And I'm afraid my father's rather an old bachelor."

Mrs. Renton looked up at her and pursed her lips. Lydia thought how unnatural it was, that someone like herself should be practically begging this old woman for help.

There was a knock on the front door. Mrs. Renton marched in an unhurried way down the hall and opened it. A tall young man was standing on the step. He whipped off his hat, a flat cap, and at that moment Lydia recognized him as the younger of the two men from the cafe at breakfast.

"Good morning," he said to Mrs. Renton. "I saw the sign in the window--apartments to let. As it happens, I'm looking for somewhere myself."

"Single gentleman?"

"Yes." The bright blue eyes looked over Mrs. Renton's shoulders and stared at Lydia. "What exactly is available?"

"There's the attic flat," Mrs. Renton said. "Bedroom and a sitting room. Share kitchen and bathroom. No meals or laundry."

"I see. May I see the rooms?"

"The landlord likes to show people round himself."

"And when's he due back?"

"Not sure. Maybe tomorrow or Saturday."

"Thank you. Then I'll call back tomorrow afternoon. My name's Wentwood, by the way. Can you tell me what the rent is?"

"You'll have to discuss that with Mr. Serridge. He does all that side of things."

"Righto. Well, thank you for your help." Once again his eyes sought Lydia's. "I'll say goodbye then."

As he turned to go, a postman mounted the steps behind him. Mr. Wentwood stood to one side to allow the man to approach Mrs. Renton. The postman groped inside his bag and produced a small parcel wrapped in brown paper and string. He handed it to Mrs. Renton, who closed the door on the two men and put the parcel on the hall table.

"Who's it for?" Lydia asked.

"Mr. Serridge."

"It looks like that other one."

"None of our business." Mrs. Renton bent down and sniffed it. "Unless it begins to smell."

Lydia was reading
A Room of One's Own
and feeling increasingly envious of Mrs. Woolf:

My aunt...died by a fall from her horse while she was riding out to take the air in Bombay. The news of my legacy reached me one night about the same time that the act was passed that gave votes to women. A solicitor's letter fell into the post-box and when I opened it I found that she had left me five hundred pounds a year for ever. Of the two--the vote and the money--the money, I own, seemed infinitely the more important.

Five hundred a year? The money shone like a mirage, a glittering pile of gold, in Lydia's mind. If a woman had that, she could do almost anything she wanted. She dropped the book on the table, dislodging puffs of dust and tobacco ash.

Her father had gone out, and she had the flat to herself. She wandered from the sitting room to her father's bedroom, which was larger than her own and looked out on a gloomy little yard surrounded on all sides by high walls of blackened brick. It was sparsely equipped with the sort of furniture Lydia would have considered inadequate for a servant's bedroom. The air smelled of stale cigar smoke, and there were two empty brandy bottles in the wastepaper basket. She resisted the temptation to look inside the chest of drawers and the wardrobe, partly because she felt it beneath her to pry, but more because she was afraid of what she might find. She pitied her father but pity was perilously close to disgust.

In the sitting room, kitchen and bedrooms, every surface seemed covered with a fine layer of sooty grime, slightly oily. Lydia found a moderately clean dishcloth under the kitchen sink and wiped the woodwork around the sitting-room windows. It was much harder work than she had expected, and much dirtier. Before moving to the mantelpiece, she tied up her hair with a silk headscarf. How did people manage without servants, she wondered for the first time in her life, and indeed how did servants themselves manage?

There were footsteps on the landing and she looked round. The door was open, and Mrs. Renton was staring at Lydia kneeling by the hearth. The old woman sniffed and moved away without speaking. But a few minutes later, she returned with an enamel bucket in her hand and a pinafore over her arm. In the bucket were dusters and rags. She put down the bucket in the doorway and draped the pinafore over the back of the nearest chair.

"The dustbins are out the back in the yard," Mrs. Renton said. "There's a door at the end of the hall."

She nodded at Lydia and marched away. The work seemed a little easier after that, and not just because she was better equipped for it. When she had finished the dusting, she filled the bucket and washed the windows. Even that was harder than it looked because one tended to smear the dirt on the glass rather than remove it.

Lydia worked on until her stomach told her it was lunchtime. There was still no sign of Captain Ingleby-Lewis--she suspected she might find him in the Crozier but she didn't want to put the theory to the test--and nothing to eat in the flat, except those wretched sardines. She would have to go out again. As she made herself ready, she noticed that there was a sooty line on her skirt. She tried to remove it without success. As for her hands, they looked red and wrinkled, like a washerwoman's. She had another vivid mental image of Frogmore Place, this time of her bedroom: the dressing table, with its array of silver-backed brushes and pots and jars; her clothes laid out for her, with her stockings rolled ready for her to put on; and Susan, her maid, hovering near the door, hands clasped, eyes down.

She found a shopping basket in the kitchen and went outside. The fog had lifted but the rain had grown heavier, and her feet slithered on the cobbles. She heard singing, faint but dreary, and guessed it came from the chapel. She walked to the Blue Dahlia in Fetter Passage again. Going there had almost become a habit, and a habit of any sort was reassuring in a world where almost everything was strange.

The cafe was crowded and full of noise and smoke. She found a place at a table laid for two. She was surprised to find herself much hungrier than usual and ordered cutlets and peas, with plum pie and custard to follow. It would cost her half a crown, plus perhaps a tip. In the last forty-eight hours, she had become conscious about money in a way she had never been before. Soon she would have to sell some jewelry.

While she was waiting for her cutlets, she returned to the crossword in
The Times
. Instead of attempting the clues, however, she jotted down items on a shopping list. Tea. Milk. Bread. As she was wondering whether she should economize and buy margarine rather than butter, somebody brushed her arm.

"Excuse me," a man said. "Do you mind if I join you? All the other tables are full."

She looked up and saw the young man who had come to inquire about the vacant flat. She had seen him in the cafe before, of course, so perhaps he worked nearby. She nodded and went back to her shopping list. He sat down and ordered the cutlets as well. After a moment, he cleared his throat.

"I say, I don't mean to interrupt, but didn't I see you earlier today at that house in Bleeding Heart Square?"

She looked up. His face was long and bony, with strongly marked eyebrows arching over the unexpectedly blue eyes. There was a small red scab on his jawbone, as if he had nicked himself while shaving that morning. No one could call him handsome but it was a face you could look at more than once. Should you wish to do so, of course.

"Yes--you came to ask about the flat upstairs."

He nodded. "What's it like? Have you seen it?"

"No." She crumbled her roll and allowed her eyes to drift back to
The Times
.

"Curious name, isn't it?"

"Bleeding Heart Square?"

"Yes--do you know where it comes from?"

She shook her head.

"That's what I like about London," he went on, showing no sign of discouragement. "These old corners with layers of history attached to them. They seem to exist in more dimensions than most places do."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not quite sure I know. I suppose I mean it exists in time as well as space. So there's always more to it than there seems. Only you don't quite know what."

She burst out laughing, not so much at what he said, though that was ridiculous enough, but at his face, whose features had realigned themselves into an expression of mock horror. Rather to her relief, the waitress arrived with her cutlets, which gave her the opportunity to break off the conversation. She ate a few mouthfuls and returned to the crossword.

"Not shown by game birds (two words) (5, 7)." The answer came to her in a pleasing flash. "White feather." She penciled the words into the grid and wondered how the man made his living. His own lunch arrived and for a few minutes they ate in silence. He could be worse, Lydia conceded--at least his table manners were reasonable. His hands were clean but his arms were too long for his sleeves, and the cuffs of his shirt were frayed and slightly grubby.

He coughed. "I don't know if I should mention this, but six down is 'hostile.'"

Startled, she looked up.

"Sorry," he said, and his face became a clown-like mask of unhappiness. "It's a bad habit. I can't help reading things upside down. Actually, it's one of the more useful things I learned at school."

"I was looking at the clues across first, actually." Nevertheless she filled in the solution to six down.

"It's very trusting of you," he said. "May I see it the right way up? Just to make sure."

There was no help for it. Lydia pushed the newspaper toward him. He would see her embryonic shopping list in the margin of the newspaper. The forced intimacy suddenly jarred on her. It was as though she were a silly little shopgirl, and he were trying to pick her up. Why the hell had she found the man interesting? Perfectly pleasant in his way, no doubt, but--well, not to mince one's words--rather common.

"Yes," he said. "'An exclamation at a crossing place is not friendly.' 'Ho' and 'stile,' you see. It can't be anything else."

Her pudding arrived. She ate it quickly and decided against coffee. When she pushed back her chair to leave, he put down his fork and rose politely to his feet. He handed her the newspaper.

"I hope I haven't spoiled your crossword," he said.

Lydia shook her head but avoided looking at him. She picked up her basket and said goodbye. As she left the cafe, she was sure that many eyes were watching her. The clerks and lady typists knew she didn't belong here, and so did the man who had shared her table.

The next forty-five minutes were devoted to shopping, which was on the whole an unsatisfactory experience, by turns mystifying and mortifying. How much bread should she buy? How did you tell whether a loaf was stale merely by looking at it? Was the milk fresh? It seemed to her that the shopkeepers treated her with a mixture of surliness and disdain.

With the basket on her arm growing steadily heavier, she walked through the rain to Bleeding Heart Square. The wind was stronger, and the umbrella swayed and bucked in her hand. A taxi had parked in the lee of the chapel, opposite the door of number seven. She put the shopping on the doorstep and opened her handbag, looking for the latchkey. There were footsteps behind her.

"Lydia!"

Panic surged through her. She wanted to scream. Marcus came up beside her and clumsily embraced her. She edged away from his arm.

"Lydia, darling. I didn't realize."

The smell of him turned her stomach. "Realize what?"

He stared down at her, his big pink face alive with concern, hope and even perhaps a form of love. "Oh darling. I didn't realize. It's wonderful news."

Cornwallis Grove lay north of Primrose Hill and south of Hampstead. It was a quiet street of detached red-brick houses, thirty or forty years old, set back from the road in small gardens full of trees. The Kensleys lived at number fifty-one, and so had Rory when he had studied with neither enthusiasm nor success for an MA degree in French literature at University College London.

The four-story house was divided into two maisonettes, the lower of which was leased to the Kensleys. Rory had rented a bedroom on the first floor from Fenella's parents. Mr. Kensley, who had once aspired to be a barrister, felt with some justification that he had come down in the world. With less justification he blamed this partly on his choice of wife, the daughter of a prosperous grocer in Lewisham, though he had lived for much of his adult life on an annuity purchased with the grocer's money. A heart attack had carried off Mr. Kensley in 1932, while Rory was in India. Then, in July 1934, Mrs. Kensley herself had died and the annuity had died with her. That was one reason Rory had decided to come home to England.

He walked from the Underground station at Swiss Cottage. It was already dusk, and housemaids were drawing curtains across windows in Eton Avenue. Leaves clogged the gullies and lay in swaths across the pavement. The first time Fenella touched him, they had been walking down to the station at this time of year; she had slipped on a drift of sodden leaves and seized his arm to steady herself; and somehow by the time they reached the station they had been arm in arm and, if not a couple, aware of the possibility that they might become one.

Fenella was five years younger than he was. When he lived in Cornwallis Grove, she had been only seventeen. She attended a secretarial college for young ladies in Portland Place where you learned about flower arranging and table placements as much as typing and shorthand. Not that she had learned very much. Until her father died, she used to harbor vague ambitions of being an artist.

She was small and slight and looked younger than she was. But what you noticed most of all--or at least Rory had--was how pretty she was. He had tried to write a description of her one evening but was unable to get much beyond a list of cliches. Hair waving like corn in the sunlight. Eyes of cornflower blue. Even, God help him, elfin grace and wayward charm. A pocket Venus.

Of course marriage had been out of the question. He didn't have a job. He could expect nothing from his family, and nor could she. They would need at least four or five hundred a year to set up home together, and jobs like that for someone without experience didn't grow on trees. Which was why he had listened to Cousin Gordon's suggestion. Cousin Gordon had a pal on the
South Madras Times
, a pal who was on the lookout for bright young men. There was an opening in the advertising department. In a year or two, Rory had thought, he would be established enough to send for Fenella, who promised she would come when the time was right.

He hesitated at the gate of number fifty-one. The garden looked untended and desolate. Pushing open the gate, he skirted the patch of oil that marked where Mr. Kensley's car had once stood and struck off toward the side of the house--the former front door was reserved for the occupants of the upper maisonette on the second and third floors.

He rang the bell. When Fenella let him into the house, she led the way into the sitting room, where there was a very small fire.

"How are things?" he asked.

"Pretty grim. I never thought I'd say this but I wish Miss Marr was still here. Or rather, I wish her rent was."

Miss Marr had replaced Rory as the Kensleys' lodger until an encounter in October with a dead mouse under her bed had resulted in a bitter parting of the ways, accompanied by dark threats of a private action against Fenella under the Public Health Act.

"Let's not talk about her. You look tired. Do you want some tea?"

He shook his head. "Listen, I went to Bleeding Heart Square yesterday."

Fenella sat down abruptly and stared up at him. "Why?"

"I know you don't like the idea. But there's no harm in it, surely?"

"It makes me feel like a vulture."

"But darling, that's absurd. Miss Penhow is your nearest relative. Of course you want to find out where she is. She may not even know your father's died."

"I don't think she wants to get in touch with us. I think my father was so rude the last time she saw us that she's decided she's better off without us. I can't say I blame her."

"But your father was her half-brother. That must count for something." Rory sat down opposite her. "Anyway, things have changed since you saw her last. Your mother's died. Quite apart from anything else, you've lost the income from the annuity. And now Miss Marr's gone, too."

"I'll find another lodger. It has to be the right sort of person, that's all."

"And what's going to happen when the lease comes up for renewal next year? You haven't a hope in hell of finding the money. Not as things are."

She turned her head toward the fire. "I'll manage. Perhaps I can sell something."

"What have you got left to sell?" he asked. "You've already sold the car, and that was the only big asset you could dispose of. I thought I'd have a word with that chap Serridge. He must have some idea where she is."

"I don't want you talking to him."

"But if your aunt--"

"And I don't want to think about Aunt Philippa. All right?"

Her voice had risen, and so had her color.

"Two can live cheaper than one," he said, changing his line of attack. "We could get married now rather than wait."

"No. It wouldn't be fair to you."

"Let me be the judge of that." He offered her a cigarette.

She leaned toward him, cupping her hands around the flame of the match. "Rory--it's not just that it wouldn't be fair to you. It's also that--well, you know, we need time to get to know each other again. You've been away for so long. All we've had are letters."

He felt numb. "You want to break the engagement?"

"No. Yes. Look, I don't know what I want--that's the point, can't you see? And then there's Mother. I--I have to grow used to the fact that she isn't here. It was easier with Dad, somehow. But Mother...I don't know, her dying came as rather a shock."

"I can wait," Rory said desperately. "Have as long as you need."

"You'd go mad. So should I. Look here, it's not as if we've ever been officially engaged. I just want us to have a breathing space. It doesn't change anything, not really."

Rory thought it changed everything. A moment before he had been engaged. Now he wasn't.

They smoked in silence. Embers rustled in the grate. The only light came from the standard lamp. He wanted to make love to Fenella more than ever. She might even let him if he kept on asking, he thought, but would she say yes out of pity? As a way of saying sorry? Or--and this thought shocked him--because she didn't much care one way or the other?

He threw the cigarette end into the heart of the fire. "I'm definitely not going back to India. I posted the letter yesterday morning. I'll find something here."

"Still in journalism?"

"Or advertising. I've got a few leads."

"Will your father help until you get a job?"

He shook his head. "He couldn't, even if he wanted to. He's got my sisters to think of. Anyway, he's only got his salary." He paused. "I'm looking for new digs. Somewhere more central."

"Will you be able to manage?"

"For the time being."

He had saved a little from his salary in India. His grandmother had left him a hundred pounds when she died last year. He had enough for a few months in London, if not enough to marry on.

"But I can't stay where I am. It's not convenient, and anyway Mrs. Rutter's idea of a square meal is tinned tongue and green slime. I don't suppose you'd consider...?"

Fenella stood up abruptly. "No. I'm sorry. It wouldn't be decent for you to come and live here, and you know it."

"I could pay rent. I could--" He broke off and ran his fingers through his hair. "Sorry. It just seems so damned stupid. These conventions."

"You wouldn't say that if you were a woman, Rory. Can you even begin to imagine what people would say?" She looked at the clock on the mantel.

"I'd better go." He cleared his throat. He wanted to tell her about Narton and the flat in Bleeding Heart Square, despite what the Sergeant had said. He should also mention the improbably smart young lady who had been at both the house and the cafe.

But she was already on her feet and moving toward the door. Rory felt light-headed when he stood up, as if unhappiness made one dizzy.

"Are you all right for tomorrow evening still?" she said.

"Yes. I suppose so."

"I've got tickets."

"I'm surprised anyone's willing to pay."

"It's a good cause. And the speaker's jolly good. I've heard him several times before."

"I'll call for you about a quarter past seven, shall I?"

The smell of cooking in the hall reminded him of Smithfield market yesterday afternoon, of meeting Sergeant Narton, of raw meat and blood.

Fenella touched his arm. As he turned back to her, she stood on tiptoe and her lips brushed his cheek.

He wound his scarf around his neck. I'm imagining things, he thought. I'm imagining the smell of unhappiness.

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