'It's the only profession, as far as I am concerned.'

'Perhaps I'm dim, sir, but what caused you to suspect Racket instead of Painsley or any of the other suspects? Why didn't you think the league was real?'

'There were different reasons for each suspect. Give me a name.'

'Painsley, then.'

Barker set aside the tray. We had both forgotten about the food, and I wasn't really hungry. 'I do not believe he could have derived any benefit from killing Pokrzywa. Should an attack have been made upon the Jews, it would have aroused sympathy toward them and emptied out his church on Sunday mornings. Painsley very much needed the Jews to continue pouring in from Europe because the public anxiety about them was keeping his coffers full. Also, he would have run a very big risk, were he seen at the head of a mob. But as I said, I'm going to keep a watch on that fellow.'

'And Brunhoff, the Anglo-Israelite?'

Barker gave a snort. 'Brunhoff couldn't gather a handful of supporters to a free meal in Bethnal Green. He's got all the warmth and charisma of a wounded badger. To think that he could gather a band of followers loyal enough to risk jail or injury is preposterous. By the way, he never sent me his alibi. I suppose we'll have to let him aloneЕ for now.'

My employer got that look again, and his hand brushed his pocket.

'Smoke, by all means,' I encouraged. 'And what about my old tutor, Rushford?'

Barker reached in his pocket.

'Of all the suspects, I would have thought him most likely. He was a eugenicist and a recent inmate of Burberry Asylum. However, I thought him too fastidious to actually go into the pubs of Whitechapel, recruiting men, and the men too unlikely to follow him unless it was for pay. I suspect Rushford is rather hard up at the moment, with his position gone and little revenue from his books coming in. If he recruited anyone, it would be his acolytes in Chelsea, and I can't picture those dandies forming an angry mob, unless the Grosvenor Gallery hangs one of Mr. Whistler's paintings upside down.'

'Drat,' I said. 'So, there's no way we could tar him with it?'

'Sorry, lad.' Barker knew I was joking, of course.

'What about your choice, Mr. Nightwine?'

Barker blew out his vesta and set his pipe between his teeth.

'Ah, yes, Nightwine. I toyed with the idea for quite a while. Crucifying a Jew in Petticoat Lane is just the sort of ruthless message he would send the Board of Deputies to cow them, if possible, and he could raise a mob as soon as he opened his pocketbook. I wondered if he might be trying to corner the gold and diamond markets in London, extorting money from them or the pawnbrokers, who, though they may appear more humble, have a lucrative business nonetheless. I thought Nightwine the only man in London dangerous enough to threaten the Jews in such a fashion. Obviously, I was mistaken on that point.'

'So what made you discount him?'

'There was nothing to tie Pokrzywa into all of this. Nightwine would have chosen a jeweler or pawnbroker to string up, not a poor little teacher. I think Nightwine bears no personal animosity toward the Jews, beyond their founding of two religions he despises. As he said, he believes them a defeated race.'

I was running out of suspects. 'Gigliotti? Serafini?'

'Nothing the Jews had done to the Italians warranted crucifixion, even as an example. The Camorra has an established way of doing things. There would have been a private meeting with someone like Sir Moses, airing their grievances. Then they would have busted a few kneecaps to get their point across. But no good Catholic would dare crucify a Jew, and in their own twisted logic, they're all good Catholic boys.'

'Not Serafini,' I pointed out. 'He's an assassin.'

'So he is, but Serafini saves the bullets for more 'deserving' targets: politicians, diplomats, and kings. In a way, he has his own principles. He wouldn't shoot a working lad.'

I was scraping the bottom of my memory now. 'The Irish, then. Why not suspect them? McElroy was an Irishman.'

'All their efforts at the moment are directed toward Home Rule. After the bombing of the Tower Bridge last November, their leader, Parnell, has made sure they keep their noses clean.'

I made one final, desperate try. 'Perhaps I'm obtuse, but how did you know that it wasn't someone we hadn't heard from, someone laying very low?'

Barker puffed on his pipe. He was sitting back in the chair with his hands laced across his stomach and his feet on my bed.

'I trust my contacts,' he said, simply. 'You see, I try to throw a web over London and sit like a spider in the midst of it all, my fingers on the strands, ready for any subtle vibration. When we're riding in a cab and I'm scanning the street ahead of me, hundreds of impressions are crowding in on me. I recognize criminals and friends and see who is in town. I note changes of class and nationality within an area. I watch new businesses open up and old ones shut their doors. I find the city endlessly fascinating.'

I'd run out of arguments, but I still had some questions.

'What about Pokrzywa, sir? Why did he have a relationship with Miriam Smith in the first place? She seemed an unlikely choice with beauties like Miss Mocatta about.'

'I can only speculate. They were of an age, and if you recall, she was a Choote, a Dutch Jew. We know he spent some time in Amsterdam before coming to London. I think he knew her there. Years later, he ran into her in Petticoat Lane, married to Racket, or rather, Smith. It can't have been a successful marriage. She needed help. Remember Mr. Moskowitz's remark about Louis being a knight searching for a damsel in distress? In Miriam Smith, he found her. He threw his not inconsiderable energies into trying to love and protect her and got himself killed in the process. Poor fellow. Even the wisest man can be made a fool by love.'

I wondered if Barker was making a veiled reference to my own emotional upheavals during the case, but I decided not to mention them.

'One more question, sir. Who was he originally, John Racket or John Smith?'

'Neither, I suspect. Scotland Yard has no record of the first and too many records of the other. All we have is the marriage certificate and his cabman's license, and I suspect he lied on both. What I do know is that John Smith is the most common name taken by former criminals.'

'I can't believe we were taken in by a false beard,' I complained.

'The most important thing is that we caught the killer and averted the pogrom, which was our objective.'

'I must admit, sir,' I confessed, 'that I doubted you a little. I didn't see how anyone in London could find Pokrzywa's killerЧ one man in the midst of three million people. But you did it. You were a complete success.'

Barker put the chair back and turned to leave.

'I don't believe Albert McElroy's parents would say so, Thomas. I should have asked you if the cabman who picked him up was Racket, but I was tired and preoccupied,' he said sadly. It gave me something to ponder after he left.


After a week, I was finally able to move back into my old room again. Despite the great pains Mac and Barker had gone to in order to make the ground floor habitable during my convalescence, I far preferred to be in my own room, simple and spartan as it was. I shaved slowly and donned my last new suit of clothes, which included a single-breasted frock coat in light blue-gray, striped trousers of matching shades, and a tie of red silk. The effect was marred, however, by slings of black grosgrain on both arms, made for me by Mac at our employer's insistence. The tie proved a problem; my fingers fumbled helplessly with the ends, and my arms refused to reach high enough for more than a few seconds. I gave up and went downstairs, hoping someone could help me.

The duty fell to Dummolard, who tied it over my shoulder, our image reflected in the bottom of one of his copper pots. Half of the ash from his cigarette went down the back of my collar. The cook seemed to be in one of

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