“Observations that make no apparent sense,” Pitt replied.


He got no further. The door opened again and Dunkeld ordered them in.

Narraway went first, Pitt on his heels. They both stopped a couple of yards inside. It was a high-ceilinged room like the others, ornately furnished with much gold and dark red, and highly polished wood. The Prince of Wales was standing in the center of the floor, a portly, middle-aged man with a full beard. He had unremarkable features except for pale eyes a trifle down-turned at the outer corners.

This morning his skin was blotchy, the whites of his eyes bloodshot, and his hands very definitely shaky.

“Ah!” he said with evident relief.

“Your Royal Highness,” Dunkeld said immediately. “May I present Mr. Narraway of Special Branch, and his man, Pitt. They are here to attend to the unfortunate matter of last night, and to get it cleared up as soon as possible. The. . evidence. . is already being removed. Mr. Tyndale seems to be keeping the servants calm. They know only that there was an incident during the night and someone was hurt. I’m not sure how much more they need to know.” He looked at Narraway, his eyebrows raised slightly.

Narraway bowed his head for a moment then looked across at the Prince.

The Prince cleared his throat and had difficulty finding his voice.

“Thank you. I am obliged you came so quickly. This whole thing is unutterably dreadful. Someone is quite clearly insane. I have no idea-”

“It is their job to find out, sir,” Dunkeld said so smoothly it was barely noticeable that he had interrupted. “If it cannot be completed today, one of them may need to remain overnight. If I-”

“By all means.” The Prince waved one hand, his face flooded with relief. “Anything. Deal with it, Dunkeld. You have my permission to take whatever steps are necessary.” He looked at Narraway. “What do you require?”

“I don’t know, yet, Your Royal Highness,” Narraway answered.

“We need to learn more about exactly what happened. May I take it for granted that no outsider could possibly have come or gone without the staff and the guards being aware of it?”

Dunkeld answered, but addressing the Prince rather than Narraway. “I have already taken the liberty of inquiring, sir. No one entered or left, other than those we already know of, and who had permission.”

There was a moment’s silence in the room as the implication of that became perfectly clear.

“It appears it must be one of the servants, sir,” Dunkeld said to the Prince. “Mr. Narraway will find out which one, and do all that is necessary. I strongly believe we should continue as close to normally as possible. If we are fortunate, the ladies may never need to know the details.”

“I should be very grateful if the Princess of Wales did not need to know,” the Prince said quickly. “She is bound to speak to Her Majesty.

It would be. .” He swallowed and a fine beading of sweat broke out on his skin.

Dunkeld looked at Narraway. “His Royal Highness has made his wishes clear: You are not to distress the Princess with this tragedy.

Perhaps if you begin immediately with the servants, you may solve it all quite quickly. Someone may even confess.”

“Yes,” the Prince of Wales agreed eagerly, looking from Dunkeld to Narraway. “Or others may know who it was, and the whole thing can be dealt with today. And we shall get back to the matter at hand.

You appreciate it is of the utmost importance to the Empire. Thank you, Mr. Narraway. I am most obliged.” He turned to Dunkeld, his voice warming. “And thank you, my dear fellow. You have been a true friend. I shall not forget your loyalty or your steadfastness.” He seemed to consider the matter finished. His air was one of dismissal.

Pitt’s mind was teeming with questions. Who had arranged for the dead woman to come, how, and from where? When were the arrangements made? Had these particular women been here before, or to any other place to meet with the Prince, or his friends? But how could he ask these things now when clearly Dunkeld was all but ushering them out the door? He looked at Narraway.

Narraway smiled very slightly. “Your Royal Highness, which is of the greater importance, speed or discretion?”

The Prince looked startled. The fear flooded back into his face, making his skin pasty and his jaw slack. “I. . I cannot say,” he stam-mered. “Both are imperative. If we take too long, discretion will be lost anyway.” Yet again he looked to Dunkeld.

“For God’s sake, Narraway, are you not capable of both?” Dunkeld said angrily. “Get on with it! Ask the servants. Ask the guests, if you have to. Just don’t stand here making idiotic and pointless remarks.”

Narraway’s cheeks flushed a dull red with anger, but before he could retaliate, Pitt took the opportunity to ask his question. He looked at the Prince of Wales. “Sir,” he said firmly. “How many women-professional-guests were there?”

“Three,” the Prince said instantly, coloring.

“Were any of them already known to you from any previous. . party?”

“Er. . not so far as I am aware.” He was discomfited rather than embarrassed, as if the questions puzzled him.

“Who arranged for them to come, and how long ago?” Pitt continued.

The Prince’s eyes opened wide. “I. . er. .”

“I did,” Dunkeld answered for him. He glared at Pitt. “What has this to do with anything? Some madman lost control of himself and took a knife to the poor woman. Who she is or where she came from is irrelevant. Find out where everyone was, that’s the obvious thing to do, then you’ll know who’s responsible. It hardly matters why!” He swiveled round to Narraway. “Don’t waste any more time.”

Narraway did not argue. He and Pitt left, Dunkeld remained.

“Mr. Dunkeld is certainly making himself indispensable,” Narraway said drily when they were twenty feet along the corridor and out of earshot. “We’d better begin with the servants, for which we shall need Mr. Tyndale’s assistance. What did you learn from the linen cupboard?” They reached the stair head and started down.

“Where were her clothes?” Pitt asked. “She can’t have gone in there naked. Why did he take them away? Wouldn’t it have been far easier to leave them? What was it about them that he wanted, or that he dare not let anyone else see?”

Narraway stopped. “Such as what?”

“I have no idea. That’s what I would like to find out. How was she dressed? Who did she oblige? The Prince, presumably. Who else?”

Narraway smiled, and then the amusement vanished like a light going out. “Pitt, I think you had better leave that part of your investigation until such time as it should become unavoidable.”

“Suddenly it’s my investigation?” Pitt raised his eyebrows. He started down again.

“I’ll make the political decisions, you gather the evidence and in-terpret it.” Narraway followed hard on his heels. “First we must find Tyndale, acquire a list of all the staff who were here last night and whichever guards were on duty for any entrance to this part of the building. And search for the dead woman’s clothes,” he added. “Or some signs as to how they were disposed of.”

Tyndale was very obliging, although his manner made it apparent that he deplored the suggestion that a member of his staff could be responsible for such a barbaric act. He could not fight against the conclusion because he could not afford to, but neither did he accede to it.

“Yes, sir. Of course I will make available every member of staff so you may interview them. But I insist upon being present myself.” He met Pitt’s eyes with acute misery.

Pitt admired him. He was a man caught in an impossible situation and trying to be loyal to all his obligations. Sooner or later he would have to choose, and Pitt knew it, even if he did not.

“I’m sorry. .” Narraway began.

“Of course,” Pitt agreed at the same moment.

Narraway turned his head sharply.

Tyndale waited, embarrassed.

“I shall welcome your assistance,” Pitt said, looking at neither of them. “But it is imperative that you do not interrupt. Do you agree?”

“Yes, sir.”

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