M'am, she corrected silently. These farm girls always addressed her as if she were a lumbering milk cow. And my husband, she continued in the barnyard vein, is a goat. To still have desires. At his age. Shocking! But she smiled nonetheless. It was her most closely guarded secret that, despite the contempt she showered on his absent person, the Baroness had, over the years, grown quite fond of the Baron. Not, though, to the extent of wearing his hideous footwear. She kicked off the slippers and went barefoot in search of her bath.
"I am to be married," Finch announced, only half-betraying his sworn secrecy, since the room was empty.
The mirror that had, at his last visit, so entranced Ghoulrich, now hung blank. Lutwidge passed a hand before it, thinking perhaps it had stopped reflecting, as a dog refuses to eat when its master dies. He had hesitated to come here for several days, but duty finally overcame distaste. He had already postponed his departure as long as possible. The estate was in order. It amounted to quite a tidy sum, more than he would have thought. Ghoulrich had managed a kind of decadent frugality, wild purchases balanced by even wilder denials. Now the deceased's possessions must be disposed of, and the heirs, if any, found. The last bit he was tempted to leave until later. He knew such sloth was not what Ghoulrich had intended when assigning Finch his knightly task, but with the great change coming in his own life, Lutwidge did not feel he could be running all over London indulging a dead man's whim. There likely were no heirs, or none that could be located. After the honeymoon he would apply himself more seriously to the search. Bradley would understand. After all, it was he who had encouraged Lutwidge to "Dive...from the highest peak" into love.
"What would you have worn to my wedding?" he smiled, opening the closet and removing an armful of dresses. A flight of fancy overtook him. He held one particularly elaborate gown up against his chest. Perfume rose from the satin and silk, drug-like in its forbidden sensuality. The mirror, magically come to life, applauded his approach.
Still holding the dress, Finch turned. A clergyman was standing at the open door.
"Excuse me," he called, his eyes taking refuge in the visiting card he held. "I am looking for Mr. Bradley Ghoulrich's apartments."
"Yes. I am a friend of Mr. Ghoulrich's."
"So I gather," the Reverend Belcher said.
Finch hastily laid the dress aside.
"There is no body, you know." He went on emptying the closet. "And no family. What are you are planning in the way of a service? There are precious few mourners, either. None but myself, that I am aware of."
The Reverend frowned. He had come by a typically roundabout route, walking almost the length of London, then doubling back over half his journey before deciding to finally take up his mysterious visitor's month-old invitation. Now he clung to the door frame, clearly not taking in the content of Finch's speech.