the front parlor to question him.

“Then it’ll be fresh in your mind, won’t it?” Frank said amiably. He was sitting in a comfortable chair, and he let the butler remain standing. “Your name is Granger?”

“That’s right.”

“Where were you this afternoon?”

“I was visiting my mother. She’s quite elderly, and I visit her every Wednesday afternoon. That is my customary afternoon off.”

“Are all the servants off on Wednesday?”


Frank noticed he wasn’t saying “sir,” but he chose to ignore the man’s subtle insult. He was already uncooperative enough, and Frank had other ways of humbling him if he needed to. “Do the servants always leave the house on their afternoon off?”

“Usually, although sometimes one will stay. Today, however, Dr. Blackwell ordered me to make sure all the servants were out.”

“And why was that?”

Granger straightened even more, although Frank would have thought that impossible. “He said he had an appointment, and he wanted to be sure no one else was in the house.”

“Do you know who his appointment was with?”

“He did not confide in me.”

Frank had no patience with this. “You’re a good butler, aren’t you, Granger?”

Granger seemed insulted by the question. “I pride myself in that.”

“If you are a good butler, then, you must have known, or at least suspected, who he was seeing today.”

The observation placated him somewhat. “Ordinarily, that would be true, but Dr. Blackwell was very mysterious about this meeting. He did not confide in anyone.”

“And you’re sure no one else was in the house?”

“You can question the other servants, but I’m certain they were all out. They understood this was Dr. Blackwell’s wish. I made that very clear, and I remained until they had all gone,” he added.

Frank was sure he had. “Was anyone else here when Mrs. Blackwell came home and found her husband?”

“Not that I am aware. I arrived shortly afterward. As I told you, she is usually gone much longer than she was today, and I try to arrive back before she does, in case she needs anything when she arrives.”

“Where does Mrs. Blackwell go?”

Granger plainly thought this was none of Frank’s business. “She visits the sick.”

“What sick does she visit?”

“You will have to ask her that. I’m sure I don’t know.”

Frank figured he probably knew perfectly well, but he was going to make Frank work for the information. “Did you see the gun on the desk beside Dr. Blackwell?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Have you ever seen it before?”

“Dr. Blackwell has a similar pistol. He keeps it in his right-hand desk drawer. It appeared to be the same one, but I couldn’t be sure without examining it more closely and checking the drawer to see if it’s missing.”

“Don’t trouble yourself, Granger, I’ll do that,” Frank said. He didn’t like this butler, but then, he seldom liked butlers. They were all uppity and thought they were better than common policemen. “Did anyone else know Blackwell kept a pistol in his desk?”

“I’m sure everyone in the household did. I had warned them so they wouldn’t come upon it by accident when they were cleaning.”

“They clean inside the doctor’s private desk drawers?” Frank asked mildly.

Granger pretended he didn’t hear the question.

“So everyone on the staff knew about it,” Frank continued. “What about visitors to the house?”

“I’m afraid I wouldn’t know that. You would have to ask them.”

“Did he have a lot of visitors?”

“Yes, he did.”

Frank was beginning to feel the urge to commit a murder himself. “Who visited him?”

“His patients frequently came to consult with him.”

“Thank you for your kind cooperation, Granger,” he said, his sarcasm wasted. “If I need anything else, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Granger did not look happy at that prospect.

SOON ENOUGH, SARAH arrived at the relative tranquillity of Gramercy Park. Traffic avoided the square, no street vendors hawked their wares here, and no streetcars clattered past. Residents of the Lower East Side who lived five to a room in squalor would probably imagine that such stately homes could house only happiness. Sarah knew better.

A policeman guarded the front door. He’d been slouching in the shade until he realized she was going to try to enter. He straightened, trying to look official.

“I’m Mrs. Brandt, the midwife,” she said.

He visibly relaxed. “We’ve been looking for you, missus,” he said, then glanced around. “Where’s the carriage?”

“Still in traffic, I would imagine,” she replied, climbing the front steps.

He pushed open the front door and stood aside for her to enter. “The midwife’s here,” he called to anyone inside.

Sarah knew a moment of reluctance when she remembered the last and only time she’d entered this house. Death had visited here again, but this time she wouldn’t be the one to discover it.

She was surprised to see how much the place had changed in a few short months. Plainly, the new residents were anxious for people to recognize that they were comfortably fixed. The decor was lavish, bordering on ostentatious, with brocade wall coverings and heavy velvet drapes and Oriental carpets. She saw an elephant’s-foot umbrella stand in the corner by the front door, and an enormous Oriental vase stood by the stairs to the second floor.

She glanced into the room to the right, where she’d found that other body, and almost expected to see it still lying there. But the room was entirely different now, and nothing untoward lay on the expensive Oriental carpet. Another policeman stood by the door to her left, the room where she guessed the new murder had been committed. The door behind him opened, and Malloy stepped out.

Sarah felt the odd sense of pleasure she always experienced upon seeing him, no matter how intimidating he might look. He certainly looked very intimidating at the moment, probably because he was so unhappy to have had to call for her.

“Mrs. Brandt,” he said gruffly, by way of greeting. “I see you got my message.”

“I’m glad I was available,” she replied, equally formal. She glanced around. “This house has a sad history.”

“It does,” he agreed.

They were both conscious of the others listening to their every word. Sarah longed to ask him what had happened here, but that would have to wait.

“My patient?” she asked.

“She’s upstairs. She was the one who found her husband. Looks like he committed suicide. She was pretty upset, and considering her condition…”

Sarah nodded her understanding, knowing she shouldn’t be disappointed to learn Malloy wasn’t investigating a murder. Her own life was exciting enough without sticking her nose into someone else’s trouble. She’d already put herself in danger too many times from trying to assist Malloy in his business.

A butler had materialized from somewhere. “Mrs. Blackwell is upstairs in her room,” he informed Sarah. “I will escort you.”

Then the butler took her bag, and she glanced at Malloy, who nodded his approval. She gave him a look that warned him she’d want some more details later, then followed the butler upstairs.

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