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.“Then you should have known better than to approach me in such a milieu, shouldn’t you?”He needed to be moving on.The stout idiot in the high shirt points was hissing at him again.Sebastian gritted his teeth.“Do you ride in Hyde Park tomorrow morning?”She swayed away from him.“I think not.”“Then when may we continue this conversation?”She dipped gracefully, moving sideways.“I see no reason to continue it at any time.Your supposition—if I understand you—is incorrect.”He had to wait until they came together again to growl, “Would you tell me if it were correct?”She swung around with a curving ronde de jambe.“Of course not.”The music ended, Miss Jarvis sinking with the other ladies into a deep curtsy.“Good evening, my lord,” she said, and left him there, at the edge of the dance floor, feeling frustrated and angry and deeply disquieted.Lord Quillian was parting from a group of friends in what was known as the Jerusalem Chamber of Brooks’s gentlemen’s club when Sebastian came upon him.“Lord Devlin,” said the aging exquisite, resplendent in a silk evening cape and chapeau bras.“If you’ve come to join in the fleecing of this poor repentant sinner, you’re too late.I’ve decided to retire for the evening while my estates are still unencumbered.”There was a chorus of good-natured ribaldry from his friends.Sebastian said, “Bad round of luck at the tables?”“Let’s just say, not the kind I care to continue.” Quillian cast a critical eye toward the night sky.“This dreadful rain has finally ceased, has it?”“So it seems.”“Good.Walk with me a ways, my lord?”“You find yourself suddenly inspired by a desire for my company, do you?” said Sebastian as the two men left the club.Quillian swung his ebony walking stick back and forth between two limp fingers.“Hardly.But I am curious to hear how the investigation into the murder of Bishop Prescott is progressing.”“Really? And what is your interest in the matter?”Quillian sniffed.“I know perfectly well I have been identified as a suspect.I’m hoping to hear you’ve begun to focus your inquiries elsewhere.”“Quite the opposite, actually.”Quillian’s hand tightened on the silver head of his walking stick, freezing it in midswing.“And what, precisely, is that supposed to mean?”“It means I’ve discovered the identity of the mysterious benefactor who was funding Reverend Earnshaw’s construction work on the church of St.Margaret’s.”“Oh.That.” Quillian twirled his walking stick in a graceful arc that set it once more to swinging back and forth.“Yes.That.”They continued in silence for a moment, their footfalls echoing in the dark, wet street.Sebastian said, “It does rather beg the question: Why?”“I suppose it does, doesn’t it?”Sebastian gave a soft laugh.“I take it you knew Sir Nigel had been murdered in the crypt of St.Margaret’s and left there to molder all these years?”“Knew it? Hardly.But I had developed a theory, yes.”“You think Francis Prescott killed his own brother for the inheritance? An inheritance he then lost when his nephew was born?”“It seems the obvious conclusion.” Quillian glanced sideways at him.“Wouldn’t you agree?”“I honestly don’t know.”Quillian grunted and kept walking.Sebastian said, “What were you hoping to accomplish?”“I should think that would be rather obvious.If I were correct—if Sir Nigel’s moldering body was lying in that crypt—then suspicion would naturally fall upon the priest responsible for sealing off the crypt in the first place.”“Bishop Prescott.”“Bishop Prescott,” agreed the Baron.“The idea being to keep the Bishop so busy defending himself against the ensuing accusations of fratricide that he would have no time to continue pushing his Slavery Abolition Act through Parliament?”“Something like that, yes.”“Seems a bit of a long shot.”A tight smile split the aging exquisite’s face.“I am a gambler.”Sebastian said, “True.Although it occurs to me that the odds would shorten considerably if you knew for certain that Sir Nigel was indeed moldering down in that crypt.”“I hardly see how I could have known that.Unless, of course, you’re suggesting I killed Sir Nigel and left him there myself?” Quillian pulled a face.“It’s an interesting theory; I’ll give you that.” He walked on a few paces, then said, “The thing is, I had no reason to kill Sir Nigel.I barely knew the man.Dreadful bad ton, you know.”“You were both members of the Hellfire Club, were you not?”The exquisite’s eyes narrowed.“My dear lord Devlin, the Hellfire Club was hardly exclusive [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]