is… very upset, and in her delicate condition…”

From the depths of the house, Frank could detect a pitiful moaning sound. He felt the cold sweat breaking out on his body, but he refused to so much as bat an eye. “You’d better send for a doctor, then.”

The butler frowned his disapproval. “Dr. Blackwell doesn’t hold with medical practitioners.”

Frank pushed his hat back and stared up at the man. “Didn’t you just say he was a doctor himself?”

The butler drew himself up defensively. “Dr. Blackwell is a healer,” he explained with the utmost courtesy and unconsciously using the present tense. “A magnetic healer. He does not trust conventional medicine.”

Who did? Frank wanted to ask, but he managed to restrain himself. For a second he was at a loss. A pregnant woman, obviously in labor or about to be from the shock of discovering her husband’s brains spilled out on her carpet, and they wouldn’t let him call a doctor. The irony was so great, he almost smiled. So much for his certainty that Sarah Brandt wouldn’t be involved in this case.

Frank reached into his coat pocket and found his notebook and a pencil. He scribbled the Bank Street address on one of the pages and tore it out. He thrust it at the butler. “Send someone to this address and ask for Mrs. Brandt. She’s a midwife.”

The butler looked at the paper as if it were a snake.

The woman moaned again, and Frank’s patience evaporated. “Who was supposed to help her if Dr. Blackwell doesn’t believe in doctors?”

“He… he was going to deliver the child himself, I believe,” the butler admitted.

Frank gave him another of his famous, bone-chilling glares. “Well, that’s out of the question now, isn’t it? So unless you want to leave her to the mercies of her maid-”

The butler snatched the paper from Frank’s outstretched fingers and turned on his heel, summoning someone from the depths of the house.

Frank sighed. Sarah would find this very amusing. She’d probably never let him hear the end of it either. Well, at least this wasn’t a murder case. If he let her help him with one more murder case, he’d never be able to show his face down at Police Headquarters again.

Sending the rest of the servants scurrying away with another of his glares, he turned to the officer guarding the door. “Let’s see what we’ve got, Mahoney.”

SARAH WASN’T SURPRISED to see an agitated young man at her front door. As a midwife, she frequently saw agitated men, young, old, and in between, who had been sent to summon her to an impending birth. This fellow looked unusually agitated, however, and his uniform marked him as the servant of a wealthy household. The instant she opened the door, he began to speak.

“Mrs. Brandt, you’re needed right away. Mrs. Blackwell, she’s in a bad way, and the policeman says for you to come at once.” He spoke as if he’d been practicing the words all the way over from wherever he’d come.

“The policeman?” she asked, not quite believing she’d heard him correctly.

“Yes, ma’am. Dr. Blackwell, he’s… well, he’s dead, it seems like, and the police come, and when he found out Mrs. Blackwell was… well, he give me your address and told me to fetch you quick as I could.”

“Was this policeman a detective sergeant?” she asked, managing to keep her expression suitably grave. She didn’t want the boy to see her smiling smugly when he’d just told her someone was dead.

“I don’t rightly know, ma’am. He’s a big Irishman, and he said for you to come. Mrs. Blackwell, she needs you right now.”

Many policemen could be called “big Irishmen,” but only one of them was likely to have thought of summoning Sarah Brandt to the scene of a crime. “Of course,” she said. “Just give me a moment to gather my things.”

She left the young man on her front stoop as she went back into the house to change her clothes and get her medical bag. She changed quickly, with practiced ease, and she couldn’t help thinking how it must have galled Malloy to send for her. Someone dead and the police called must mean another murder. He wouldn’t want her involved in a murder, so he must be desperate indeed. A woman about to deliver a baby would have affected him that way, she assumed, considering how his wife had died.

Sarah must try to hide her satisfaction at his summons and the surge of anticipation she felt at being involved in another murder investigation, however slightly. If she acted too delighted at being included, Malloy might be provoked into sending her from the house, impending birth or not.

When she stepped outside into the early autumn afternoon, she saw the young man was on the driver’s seat of a carriage he had obviously brought to convey her. He hopped nimbly down to open the door for her.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“Gramercy Park, ma’am.”

She considered for only a moment. “I’ll walk, then. It will take over an hour to drive there from here, and only a quarter of an hour on foot.”

“But Mr. Granger said to fetch you in the carriage,” the boy argued, alarmed by her refusal.

“Who’s Mr. Granger?”

“The head butler, ma’am,” the boy explained.

“Don’t worry, I’ll tell him I refused your offer and insisted on walking. If Mrs. Blackwell is really having her baby, it’s important that I get there as quickly as possible. When Mr. Granger sees how long it takes for the carriage to get back, I’m sure he’ll see reason.”

His eyes widened with near panic. “Please, ma’am. You don’t want to be carrying that heavy bag all the way uptown. At least let me take it for you.”

“But I’ll need my bag as soon as I get there. I promise it will be all right,” Sarah said. “You won’t get in any trouble.”

The boy’s face was a mask of despair, but he plainly had no choice. “I’d go with you, but I can’t leave the carriage,” he said.

“Of course not. I’ll see you at the house. What is the address?”

When he gave it to her, she recognized it instantly. She’d known the previous occupant slightly. The house had an unhappy history, and it seemed as if the Blackwell family had just added to it.

Reluctantly, the boy climbed up onto the carriage seat and slapped his horses into motion. They slowly made their way into the crush of traffic.

Sarah took note of the carriage. It wasn’t new, by any means, but had been refurbished quite expertly. She thought the gold leaf designs on the doors a bit much, however. New money, her mother would have scoffed. The team wasn’t matched but seemed well cared for, a rarity in the heat of the city. Keeping a carriage and team of any kind here was expensive. Her new clients must have money, new or not. But she’d already guessed that from the Gramercy Park address.

Sarah set out at a brisk pace. Years of walking the city streets at all hours, hurrying to arrive before a baby did, had made her strong. And she’d been right about walking being the quickest way to get where she was going. The distance from her home on Bank Street to Gramercy Park was less than a mile, but a carriage would have to maneuver through streets choked with vehicles of every description, fighting for the right of way at every intersection. The boldest-or the most foolhardy-soul was the one who got through first, and no one gave way for anyone else voluntarily.

The only way to travel quickly through the city was on the elevated railway, but that only went north and south. Rumor said the city fathers were considering an underground railway that would take people all over the city. Sarah could hardly credit such a thing. If they dug tunnels beneath the streets, what would keep the streets from collapsing? For an instant she pictured the entire city sinking into a gigantic hole.

Banishing that disturbing thought, she realized she’d forgotten to ask the young man how her patient’s husband had died. He must have died violently, or Frank Malloy would not have been involved.

Did the boy say the dead man was a doctor? Sarah thought the name was familiar, but she couldn’t recall meeting a Dr. Blackwell. Someone new in town, perhaps. Or maybe he wasn’t really a medical doctor. Many people called themselves “doctor” without any credentials at all.

Well, she’d find out soon enough, she thought as she darted between carriages and wagons and carts all stopped at the intersection of Bank and Hudson and Eighth Avenue, their drivers screaming curses at each other as they fought for the right of way.

“I ALREADY TOLD that other officer everything I know,” the butler informed Frank, who’d summoned him to

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