Veronica York was stunned by the shock, then Pitt probably would have thought so too.

“What did the family say?” he asked.

“The two ladies had been out to dinner with friends. They’d come home about eleven and gone straight up to bed,” Mowbray replied. “Servants confirmed that. Robert York had been out on some business; he worked at the Foreign Office, and he quite often had business in the evenings. He came home after the ladies, they don’t know when. Neither did the servants. They’d been told not to wait up, by York himself.

“It looks as if he was still awake when the burglar broke in. He must have come downstairs, interrupted the intruder in the library, and then got killed.” Mowbray pulled a face. “Don’t know why. I mean, why didn’t the burglar simply hide, or better still, get out that window again? The latch was open. Unnecessary. Very unprofessional.”

“What did you conclude, finally?”

Mowbray’s eyebrows rose. “Case unsolved,” he said, then hesitated for several seconds, as though weighing whether to commit himself further.

Pitt finished his tea and set the empty mug on the hearth. “Odd case,” he said casually. “Man knows exactly when to break in without P.C. Lowther seeing him coming or going, even though Lowther passes every twenty minutes; yet instead of going round the back, away from the street, and using a snakesman to wriggle through the pantry bars, or a ratchet and pinion to loosen them, he breaks a front window-and doesn’t even star-glaze it to stop the noise and hide the hole. Yet he knows enough to find a first-edition Swift, which is not an obvious thing at all- Lowther said it was on the shelf with other books-but on the other hand he’s so clumsy he makes enough noise to disturb Robert York, who comes down and catches him. And when York does come, instead of hiding or running away, the intruder attacks him so fiercely he kills him.”

“And doesn’t sell any of his haul,” Mowbray finished. “I know. Rum, very rum. Wondered if it were someone Mr. York knew personal like, some gentleman ’ard up turned to robbin’ ’is friends. Started lookin’ in that line, very discreet like. Even looked very casual at young Mrs. York’s acquaintances-and got told very gracious and very cool by the powers that be as I should keep to me place and not add to the distress o’ them as is already sufferin’ ’orrible bereavement. Nobody actually said as I was to mark it unsolved; nothin’ so blunt. Just an expression o’ sympathy for the family, and a cold eye on me. But I don’t need to ’ave it spelled out for me.”

It was what Pitt had expected; he had experienced the same unspoken but unmistakable sort of thing himself. It did not necessarily indicate any suspicion of guilt; just a deference for breeding, money, and the vast indefinable power that went with it.

“I suppose I had better pursue the next line.” Pitt stood up reluctantly. It was raining outside; he could see the long wet streaks beating against the window, blurring the shadows of the roofs and gables outside. “Thank you for your help, and the tea.”

“Don’t envy you,” Mowbray said wryly.

Pitt smiled back. He liked Mowbray and resented having to retrace the man’s steps as though he were in some way incompetent. Damn Ballarat and the Foreign Office!

Outside Pitt turned up his coat collar, tightened his muffler, and put his head down against the rain. He walked for a little while, feet sloshing up spurts of water, hair dripping down his forehead, thinking over what he had just learned. What was the Foreign Office after? A decent resolution of a case which involved one of their own, so it would cause no future embarrassment, as Ballarat had said? The widow of Robert York was informally betrothed to one Julian Danver. If Danver were headed for an ambassadorship, or higher, no shadow must touch the reputation of any of his family, especially his wife.

Or had some new discovery pertaining to the murder of Robert York pointed to treason, and were they using Pitt to unravel it for them? He would take the blame for the tragedy and the scandal which would inevitably follow, the careers and reputations ruined.

It was an ugly job, and everything Mowbray had told him only made it uglier. Who had been the other person in the library, and why?

Pitt turned from Piccadilly down St. James’s, then across the Mall and down the Horse Guards’ Parade past the,bare trees and wind-whipped grass of the park, up Downing Street to Whitehall and the Foreign Office.

It took him a quarter of an hour to persuade the right officials and finally to reach the department where Robert York had worked until the time of his death.

He was met by a distinguished man in his late thirties with black hair, and eyes which at first appeared to be equally dark, but as he turned to the light proved to be a startling, luminous gray. He introduced himself as Felix Asherson and offered to be of any help within his power. Pitt took that for the limited offer it was.

“Thank you, sir. We have had occasion to look again into the tragic death three years ago of Mr. Robert York.”

Asherson’s face showed immediate concern, but then it would, in the Foreign Office where impeccable manners were part of his trade. “Have you caught someone?”

Pitt approached the subject obliquely. “No, I am afraid not, but there were several articles stolen at the time. It seems very possible the burglar was not a casual housebreaker but a person of education, perhaps after something in particular.”

Asherson waited patiently. “Indeed? And you didn’t know that at the time?”

“We did, sir. But I have been asked by certain persons in authority”-he hoped Asherson’s Whitehall training in discretion was sufficient to keep him from asking who — “to pursue the matter again.”

“Oh.” Asherson’s face tightened almost imperceptibly, just a faint movement of muscles around the jaw, a thickening of the neck, so the stiff wing collar hugged the skin. “How can we help you?”

Interesting how he used the plural, making himself a representative of the office, not personally involved.

Pitt selected his words carefully. “Since the burglar chose the library and not one of the more obvious rooms, like the dining room, where the silver was, we have to consider that he may have been looking for documents, perhaps something Mr. York was working on at the time.”

Asherson was noncommittal. “Indeed?”

Pitt waited.

Asherson took a deep breath. “I suppose that’s possible- I mean, he may have hoped to find something. Does it help now? After all, it was three years ago.”

“We never abandon a murder case,” Pitt replied blandly. Yet they had buried this one after six fruitless months. Why had they opened it again now?

“No-no, of course,” Asherson conceded. “What can the Foreign Office do to assist you?”

Pitt decided to be blunt. He smiled very slightly, holding Asherson’s eye. “Has any information been missed from this office since Mr. York first came to work here? I appreciate that you may not be able to tell when it was taken, only when the discovery was made.”

Asherson hesitated. “You make us sound remarkably inefficient, Inspector. We do not mislay information; it is far too important.”

“So if information has reached unauthorized places, then it was deliberately given?” Pitt asked innocently.

Asherson breathed out slowly, grasping for time to think. Confusion was momentarily naked in his face. He did not know what Pitt was leading up to, nor why.

“There has been information …” Pitt said gently, testing, making it something between a question and a statement.

Asherson affected immediate ignorance. “Has there? Then perhaps that was why poor Robert was murdered. If he took papers home with him, and somehow people got to know of it, a thief may have. .” He left the rest unsaid.

“Then he could have taken such papers home on several occasions?” Pitt pursued. “Or are you suggesting it might have been only once, and by some extraordinary chance the thief chose the precise night?”

It was preposterous, and they both knew it.

“No, of course not.” Asherson smiled faintly. He was caught, but if he was resentful, he hid it superbly. “I really don’t know what happened, but if he was indiscreet, or had friends who were unworthy of his trust, it hardly matters now. The poor man is dead, and the information cannot have reached our enemies or we should have suffered for it by now. And we haven’t. That I can tell you with certainty. If there really were such an attempt, it

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