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.Dunkeld was quite right to call in Special Branch.” Then his face filled with consternation.“Oh my God! Of course Mrs.Sorokine was his daughter.I had quite forgotten.How perfectly terrible! He must be quite ill with grief.I shall send him my own physician, in case there is anything he can do.Is there anything else? What can I offer?”“That is most compassionate of you, sir,” Pitt replied.It was impossible to mistake the pity in the Prince’s face, or in the entire attitude of his body.“But I think for the moment there is nothing.I have sent for Mr.Narraway, and we will deal with the matter as quickly as possible.Once we have established beyond doubt that it is Mr.Sorokine who is responsible, I imagine the best thing to do will be to have him declared insane, and incarcerated where he can do no further harm.”“The man’s a…a…” The Prince was lost for words savage enough to say what he felt.“Madman, sir,” Pitt finished for him.“Monster!” the Prince corrected Pitt.“Yes, sir, it would seem so.But I think we do not wish the world to know that.It would be better for all if we agree it is insanity, an illness of the mind, and treat him accordingly.A trial would benefit no one.”“A trial.” The Prince was clearly alarmed.“Good heavens, no! You are quite right, of course.Put him away.Best thing altogether.”“As soon as we are certain.”“Certain?” The Prince’s eyebrows rose.“My dear fellow, there can hardly be any doubt.Cahoon himself suspected him, you know? But of course he was loath to believe it.His own son-in-law.What a fearful thing.”Pitt was surprised.“He didn’t tell me he suspected Sorokine.Why? Did he know something he kept from us?”The Prince looked embarrassed.“I am afraid you will have to ask him, if you feel that it still matters.But surely now he has been proved hideously right, and paid such a price for it, there can be no purpose served by pointing that out to him?”“No, sir.I would much rather that you told me,” Pitt urged.“I can’t.A matter of honor,” the Prince said blandly.“I gave my word, you see, and that is the end of it.I’m sorry.But surely in the circumstances it doesn’t matter anymore? Sorokine left the party early on the night the other poor creature was killed.He must have stabbed her also.I cannot tell you what a relief it is to have the matter ended, and so completely, before Her Majesty returns.I am obliged to you, Mr.Pitt.I shall not forget it.Thank you for coming to tell me personally.”It was a dismissal, and there was nothing for Pitt to say further that would not be argumentative and, in the circumstances, inexcusable.He thanked the Prince and withdrew.Half an hour later he met Narraway, and took him immediately to see the body of Minnie Sorokine.Narraway stood on the carpet and stared down at her, his dark face crumpled with unhappiness.“It looks the same,” he said miserably.“But it’s not! One was a professional whore, the other was his wife.”Pitt frowned.“She flirted very openly with Simnel Marquand, Sorokine’s half-brother.”Narraway stared at him incredulously.“Enough to provoke this? Are you saying it is some kind of moral judgment on whoring?”“No, I’m not.Mrs.Sorokine spent a great deal of yesterday going around asking various questions of the servants,” Pitt told him.“Gracie followed her and heard most of it.It seemed to be about people’s comings and goings on the night of the first murder, including in particular a broken dish of blue, white, and gold that nobody knows about, and Tyndale says doesn’t exist.”“What in hell are you talking about, Pitt? You’re rambling, man!Pitt kept his temper with some difficulty.He was tired, his head ached, and suddenly he was very cold.The walls of the Palace, with all their ornately framed works of art, closed in on him.He was trapped here.“I don’t know,” he said stiffly.“Mrs.Sorokine spent all day asking questions, and seemed to be very satisfied with the answers.And when Gracie asked Tyndale about it, she was told pretty abruptly that she should leave the matter alone.It concerned private misbehavior of the Prince of Wales, and was irrelevant to the murder of the prostitute.”Narraway stared at him.“On the same night?” he said dubiously.“Having a busy time, wasn’t he!”“I rather gathered he went to bed with one of the women, and fell into something of a drunken sleep,” Pitt said.“Perhaps he didn’t.Do you think we need to know?” He was hoping profoundly that Narraway would say they did not.“Surely it’s the same piece of unfortunate behavior—unfortunate in Tyndale’s eyes.He’s a bit stiff.”“Where does the broken plate come into it?” Narraway asked.“So the Prince broke a plate! What of it?”“Tyndale says there is no such plate.He is adamant.”“Perhaps it was a vase, or an ornament of some other kind?” Narraway suggested.“And Tyndale really imagines Gracie doesn’t know what kind of assignation it was with those women?” Pitt said incredulously.“He knows she is with us.”Narraway ignored him and looked down at Minnie’s body again.“That’s a fearful blow across the neck.Very violent.Looks as if he’s almost severed her spine.Did you find the knife?”“No.We need to search his room.”Narraway stiffened with a jerky tightening of muscles, then relaxed again.“Well, if he kills himself that may be just as well.We can’t ever let him go free.But you should have looked, all the same.Now we’ll have to be extremely careful going in to see him.”Pitt cursed his stupidity for not having searched Sorokine’s room.Yet it was not a thing he had wished to do alone, with Sorokine in there with him.He would be far too vulnerable.He produced the key, and he and Narraway went out and along the corridor.Julius was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling, but he could not conceal the tension in him, or the fear.The blood had dried on his face and the scratches were sharp, the bruises darkening painfully.He sat up, staring at them.Pitt allowed Narraway to speak.“Where are your clothes from last night, Mr.Sorokine?”Julius blinked.“My suit is in the wardrobe and my shirt’s in the clothes basket, along with my personal linen.There’s no blood on them, if that’s what you are looking for.”“And the knife?” Narraway asked [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]