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.The man was tall, strongly built.His hair was thick and dark.There was nothing to disprove it was Angus Stonefield.“I don't know.It could be,” he said with a sense of sadness which all but overwhelmed him, as if up to that moment he had in some way still believed Angus might have been alive.The sergeant sighed.“I suppose we'll 'ave ter ask the wife, although Gawd 'isself knows 'ow yer could expec' any woman ter look at that.the more so if it's 'im.”“Take him to the morgue,” Monk said quietly, loathing what he was doing even as he heard his own voice.Suddenly it seemed easy to hang Caleb.The anger was not enough even for that.“I'll bring her.It has to be done.There may be some mark on the body where the clothes have protected it, something she can recognize.or which makes it possible.”The sergeant searched his face in the moon of the lamplight, then nodded slowly.“Right y'are, sir.We'll do that.C'mon now, boys, put yer back inter them oars.D'yer wanter be stuck 'ere in the middle o' the damn' river till yer freezes solid?”“Yes, Mr.Monk?” Genevieve looked at him, her face creased with anxiety, fear already at the back of her eyes.He had been admitted to the parlor.She was not using the larger, more formal rooms, probably to save the cost of heating them.She looked exhausted.He knew she had been in the courtroom all day, and in the witness-box a great deal of it, testifying in an attempt to prove her husband's death.Watching Caleb, so physically like him, must have been the worst ordeal of her life.And now he was possibly going to add to it the final horror.Yet it could not be avoided.No one else could do this.If his face were undamaged, recognizable, perhaps Ravensbrook or Mr.Arbuthnot could have spared her.As it was, only she could know the intimacies of his body which were left.Monk was not often at a loss for words, but even though he had thought of this since their grim find in the river, he still did not know how best to tell her.“What is it, Mr.Monk?” Her eyes did not leave his face.“Have you found Angus? Is that what you cannot bring yourself to tell me?”“I don't know.” It was ridiculous that she should be helping him, when he should somehow be easing it for her.It was her grief, her loss, not his.“We have found a body, but it will require someone who knows him well to identify it.”“I don't understand.” She swayed a little bit.“What are you trying to say?” She swallowed.“Is it Angus, or not? You have seen Caleb.I can see a multitude of differences between them, but to you they will be so alike you must know if it is Angus or not!” There was a rising panic in her voice and her eyes.“Please! This.this uncertainty is worse than knowing would be.” She stood with her hands knotted in front of her, her body so tight she was shaking.“If I knew, Mrs.Stonefield, I would not subject you to this!” he said desperately.“If even Lord Ravensbrook could have told, I would have asked him.But the river has done its damage to the face.Only where the clothes have protected it is it unharmed.That is why you alone can tell.” She drew in her breath with a gasp, tried to speak, and made no sound at all.He ached to be able to touch her, in some manner lend her physical strength.But it would have been an impossible intrusion.“Would you like me to have someone come with you?” he asked.“Have you a maid? Or shall we collect Mr.Niven on the way? I imagine you would not care for Lord Ravensbrook?” It was a question, but he knew her answer from the stiffening of her neck.“No.no thank you.I think I prefer to be alone, except for you.If you will be so kind? I have seen dead bodies before, but not of my own husband nor.damaged.as you say.”“Of course.” He offered his arm immediately.“Are you ready to come now, or would you prefer to take a sip of brandy first?”“I do not take spirits, thank you.I shall have my maid bring my cloak, then I shall come.It is better done quickly.”They rode in silence.There was nothing of relevance to say, and anything irrelevant now would have been both painful and absurd.They clattered through the darkness past the shimmering street lamps reflected on the mist and smoke and the swaying lights of other coaches and carriages passing.There was no sound but the clatter of hooves on stone and the swish of wheels and occasional splatter of water as they struck a particularly bad gutter.They reached the morgue and pulled up with a jolt.Monk climbed out and helped her alight.They crossed the pavement and went up the steps.A single constable was waiting for them, pale-faced and unhappy.He led them inside.The place smelled clean and stale, with an indefinable odor that was a mask for something else, the washed and deeply decaying flesh of the dead.The attendant took them to a small room where a body lay on a wooden table, covered with a sheet.It was customary to remove the sheet and show only the face.In this instance it was the one part of the man most disfigured.Someone had taken the forethought to cover the head sepaarately.The attendant unfolded the cloth from the neck down, showing the shoulders, upper arms, chest and abdomen.Genevieve stood absolutely still, as if she could not move from the spot.Monk was afraid that if she did she would collapse, and yet from where she was she could not see sufficiently well to know more than that it was the upper torso of a well-built man.Unless there were some major abnormality in Angus, she would have to come closer to know if this were him or not.He took her arm.“Mrs.Stonefield?” he said gently.“Your distress is natural, even a revulsion, but we do not know if this is your husband or not.Without your help, we will never know.Please.use all your courage, and look.”She took a step forward, still with her eyes closed, then another step, and a third.Monk restrained her.She was close enough [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]