have, whatever beliefs of death or what lay beyond it, loyalty to the Inner Circle would supersede them all, and would remain unbroken.

He shivered, cold with a new perception of the power of the oaths that bound the society, far more than a club or an association. It was mystic, almost religious, the vengeance for betrayal more than merely human. Hathaway would hang alone rather than speak even a word that would lead to another.

Or did he imagine that even now some other member, someone as high as a judge, would somehow contrive his escape from the rope?

Was even that possible?

He must not allow it, for Arthur Desmond’s sake, if nothing else. Pitt looked at him again, meeting his eyes and holding them in a long, steady stare. Neither of them spoke. It was not words, arguments, he was seeking, it was emotion and beliefs.

Hathaway did not flinch or look away, and after several seconds the corners of his mouth turned upwards in a very tiny smile.

In that moment Pitt knew what he must do.

When they reached Bow Street they alighted. Pitt paid the cabby and with Hathaway still manacled, led him inside past the openmouthed desk sergeant who leapt to attention.

“Is Mr. Farnsworth there yet?” Pitt demanded.

“Yes sir! I sent the message to ’im like you told me, sir-that you was off to make an arrest for the murder of Sir Arthur Desmond….”


“And he came straightaway, sir. He’s been here about ten minutes, maybe. And Mr. Tellman is here, sir, as you said, sir.”

“Is Mr. Farnsworth in my office?”

“Yes sir. And Mr. Tellman’s in his room too.”

“Thank you.” Pitt felt a sudden surge of excitement, and at the same time a hardening of fear inside him, as if a hand had closed into a fist in his chest. He turned and strode up the stairs, almost pushing Hathaway ahead of him. At the top he flung his office door open and Farnsworth swung around from where he had been standing at the window. He saw Hathaway and although his expression did not flicker, the blood drained from his skin, leaving it blotched, white around the eyes and mouth.

He parted his lips as if about to speak, then changed his mind.

“Good morning, sir,” Pitt said calmly, as if he had noticed nothing. “We’ve got the man who murdered Sir Arthur Desmond.” He smiled and nodded at Hathaway.

Farnsworth’s eyebrows rose. “He did?” He allowed his surprise to border on incredulity. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely,” Pitt said calmly. “We know precisely how he did it, and have all the witnesses. It is just a matter of piecing it together. Very clever and very efficient.”

“Are you,” Farnsworth said coldly.

“No sir, I meant Hathaway’s means and method.” Pitt allowed himself to smile. “Only a chance observation of stewards’ bells on a board caught him. But it’s enough.” He looked at Farnsworth guilelessly.

Farnsworth came forward and took Pitt by the arm, guiding him towards the door.

“Speak to you privately, Pitt,” he said tersely. “Call a constable to wait in here and keep guard.”

“Of course,” Pitt agreed. “I’ll get Tellman.” It was what he had intended anyway, and would have contrived if Farnsworth had not.

“Yes sir?” he asked as soon as they were in an adjoining office with the door closed, and Tellman with Hathaway.

“Look, Pitt, are you sure you have the right man?” Farnsworth said seriously. “I mean, Hathaway’s a respected official in the Colonial Office, a thoroughly decent man, father in the church … son too. Why on earth would he wish Desmond any harm? He didn’t even know the man, except by sight as a fellow club member. Maybe you have the right means and method, but the wrong man?”

“No sir. It was not a personal motive. Knowing him by sight was all that was needed.”

“What on earth …” He trailed off, staring at Pitt’s face.

“Quite simple.” Pitt met his eyes, keeping all subtlety out of his own. Not a thread of suspicion must enter Farnsworth’s mind. “Sir Arthur was killed because he broke the oath of the Inner Circle and betrayed them.”

Farnsworth’s eyes widened almost imperceptibly.

“And Hathaway was the executioner deputed to deal with the matter,” Pitt went on. “Which he did, with coldness and precision.”

“Murder!” Farnsworth’s voice rose with disbelief, a high, hard note in it. “The Inner Circle doesn’t murder people! If Hathaway did indeed kill him, then there must have been some other reason.”

“No sir, as you just pointed out, he did not even know him in any personal sense. It was an execution, and we can prove it.” He hesitated only an instant. Please God he could trust Tellman. But if there were any man in the police force he would stake his life on as not being a member of the Inner Circle, it was Tellman. He took precisely that chance now, facing Farnsworth squarely. “But it will all come out in the trial.”

“If the society were what you say, Pitt, then Hathaway would die without telling anyone what you charge,” Farnsworth said with certainty and faint derision.

“Oh, I don’t expect Hathaway to admit it,” Pitt replied with the shadow of a smile. “I am sure you are right. He will go to the gallows without betraying his fellow members. We may never know who they are,” he said slowly, meeting Farnsworth’s eyes. “But every man and woman in London who can read a newspaper will know what they are! That we can prove, and we will do, in open court.”

“I see.” Farnsworth took a very deep breath and let it out. He looked at Pitt with something like surprise, as if he had done more than he had foreseen. “I would like to speak to him myself for a few moments, alone, if you don’t mind.” It was delivered with courtesy, but it was an order. “I find all this … distressing … hard to believe.”

“Yes sir, of course. I’ve got to go back to the Morton Club anyway, and make sure of the steward’s evidence, and see what happened to the other witnesses.”

“Yes, by all means do that.” And without waiting any further, Farnsworth went out of Tellman’s room and back along the passage to Pitt’s office. A moment later Tellman came out and looked questioningly at Pitt.

Pitt held his finger to his lips, walked noisily down the stairs half a dozen steps, then crept back up to stand motionless beside Tellman.

They waited for what seemed an endless five minutes, ears straining, hearts thumping so violently Pitt could feel his body shake.

Then the faint murmuring of voices ceased from behind the office door and there was a very soft thud.

Pitt flung the door open, Tellman barely a step behind him.

Farnsworth was on the floor almost astride the prone figure of Hathaway. The paper knife from Pitt’s desk was protruding from Hathaway’s chest and his manacled hands were just below it, but it was Farnsworth’s fingers which were now clenched around it, and his body’s weight behind the blow.

Tellman gasped.

Farnsworth looked up, his face slack with disbelief for an instant, then horror. He started to speak.

“He … he took the paper knife….” he began. “I tried to stop him….”

Pitt stepped a little aside.

“You murdered him!” Tellman said with amazement and fury. “I can see it!”

Farnsworth turned from Pitt to Tellman, and recognized the incorruptible outrage in his eyes. He looked back at Pitt.

“Giles Farnsworth,” Pitt said with satisfaction he had seldom felt in the solution of any case, “I arrest you for the murder of Ian Hathaway. I must warn you that anything you say will be taken down, and may be given in evidence at your trial … which I will make very sure you live long enough to face, for Arthur Desmond’s sake.”

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