“Then we will begin with whoever admitted the women when they arrived,” Pitt directed. “And go on through who waited on them through the evening until someone saw the other two leave. Did they ask after the third? What explanation was given?”

“It would be Cuttredge who let them in, sir, and Edwards who saw them out,” Tyndale answered. “I already asked Edwards, and he said he thought at the time that the last one must have been staying until morning. He’s. . not very experienced.”

“That never happens?” Pitt asked.

The muscles in Tyndale’s face tightened. “No, sir, not with a woman of that class.”

Pitt did not pursue it. “Then if we could see Cuttredge first, and after him, whoever took them to. . wherever they went. And any staff that waited on them later on. And I need to have her clothes, if they can be found.”

“Yes, sir.”

When Tyndale had gone Pitt considered apologizing to Narraway for countermanding his orders, then decided against it. It was a bad precedent to set. There was no room for protecting position or defer-ring to rank. The price of failure would descend on them all.

Tyndale returned with Cuttredge, who was a man of very average appearance but entered with a certain dignity; he answered all their questions without hesitation. He described letting the women in with only the very faintest distaste, and a military precision as to where he had taken them and at what time. He had not noticed their faces.

One street woman was much like another to him. It was obviously part of his duty that he disliked, but did not dare express that.

“And you did not see them leave?” Pitt asked.

“No, sir. That would be Edwards. I was off duty by that time.”

“Where were you?” Narraway asked, leaning forward a little in his chair.

Cuttredge’s eyes widened. He glanced at Tyndale, then back again. “In bed, sir! I have to get up before six in the morning.”

“Where do you sleep?” Narraway asked.

Cuttredge drew in his breath to answer, then quite suddenly realized the import of the question and the blood drained from his skin.

“Upstairs, where the rest of the staff do. I. . I never left my room.”

He drew in his breath to say something further, then gulped and remained silent.

“Thank you, Mr. Cuttredge,” Pitt excused him.

Cuttredge remained seated, his hands grasping each other. “What happened? They’re saying she’s dead. . one of the women. Is that true?”

Tyndale opened his mouth and then closed it again, remembering Pitt’s warning.

“Yes, it is,” Pitt answered Cuttredge. “Think carefully. Did you hear anything said, an altercation, a quarrel, perhaps an arrangement for her to see someone else after the party? Even a suggestion that she already knew someone here, or they knew her?”

“Certainly not,” Cuttredge said instantly.

Narraway hid a tight smile.

“Not necessarily professionally, Mr. Cuttredge,” Pitt pointed out.

“Had she been here before?”

Cuttredge glanced at Tyndale, who nodded permission to answer.

“No,” Cuttredge replied. “That I do know. The arrangement wasn’t made by any of us. It was. . it was Mr. Dunkeld.”

“Indeed. Thank you.” Pitt excused him again, and he left.

The next man to be seen was Edwards, who had let out the two other women. He was younger, slimmer, and, in spite of the circumstances, rather confident, as if his sudden importance excited him. He said he had noticed nothing unexpected, and he did not look to Tyndale for support. He reported that both women seemed cheerful, definitely a little drunk, but not in any way afraid or alarmed. Certainly neither of them had suffered any injury. He himself had gone to bed when most of the clearing-up had been done and the main reception room at least was ready for the morning.

“Close to two o’clock, sir, or as near as I can recall,” he finished.

“And you went to bed yourself?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you pass anywhere near the linen cupboard on your way up to your quarters?” Narraway put in.

Edwards was deeply unhappy and now consciously avoiding Tyndale’s eyes. “Yes, sir, I did. I walked along that very passage. I shouldn’t ’ave. We’re supposed to go the long way round, but it was late and I was tired. It’s hard work making certain everything’s right.

Bottles, glasses, cigar ash on the good rugs an’ all. Stuff spoiled. It’s no five-minute job, I can tell you.”

“Don’t you have maids to help?” Narraway asked him.

Edwards looked aggrieved. “ ’Course we do, but not at that time o’ night. An’ it’s still my job to see it’s right. All the furniture back in its places, marks washed out, everything smelling like new again. So the ladies who are guests come down in the morning an’ can’t even smell there was a party, never mind see the dregs of it around.”

Pitt wondered if any of the women were fooled, or if it simply allowed them the dignity of pretending they were. There were occasions when blindness was wise.

“You passed the linen cupboard,” he prompted.

“I didn’t see or ’ear nothing,” Edwards told him quickly.

“Or smell anything?” Pitt asked.

Again Tyndale moved uncomfortably, and with an obvious effort forbore from interrupting.

Edwards drew in his breath and bit his lip. “Smell?” he said shakily. “What would I smell? You mean. .” He could not bring himself to say the word.

“Blood,” Pitt said for him. “It has a sweet, ironlike smell, when there is so much of it. But I imagine if the door was closed that would be sufficient to conceal it. The door was closed, wasn’t it? Or was it ajar? Think back, and be very careful to answer exactly.”

“It was closed,” Edwards said without thinking at all. “If it’d been open I’d ’ave seen it. It opens that way, the way I was going.” He took a deep breath. “Was she. . was she in there then?” He gave an invol-untary shudder, betraying more vulnerability than he had meant to.

“Probably not,” Pitt replied, although the moment after he had said it, he thought perhaps he was wrong. She had almost certainly been killed before that, and from the amount of blood, she had obviously been killed in the cupboard. But if Edwards were right and the door had been closed, then someone else had opened it between two o’clock when Edwards passed, and six or so when Dunkeld found the body.

Edwards also could prove neither that he had gone to bed nor that he had stayed there.

“He must be lying about the door being closed,” Narraway said as soon as Edwards was gone.

“Or the latch is faulty,” Pitt answered. “We’ll look at it, Mr. Tyndale.”

“No, sir, it’s perfectly good,” Tyndale replied. “I closed it myself. .

after. . after they took the body away.”

They spoke to the rest of the male staff as well and learned nothing of use. No one had found the dead woman’s clothes. Tyndale ordered tea for them, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Newsome, herself brought it up on a tray with oatmeal biscuits.

They stopped long enough to drink the tea and eat all the biscuits. Then they interviewed the menservants of the four visitors, this time without Tyndale present, because they were not his responsibility. They gave the same unhelpful result.

Mrs. Newsome brought more tea, and this time sandwiches as well.

“One of them must be guilty,” Narraway said unhappily, taking the last of the roast beef sandwiches and eating it absentmindedly.

“She didn’t do that to herself. And no woman would do that to another, even if she could.”

“We’d better speak to all the female staff,” Pitt said resignedly.

“Somebody is lying. Even the smallest slip might help.” He would have liked another sandwich, but there was

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