"I wish to see Mr. Ghoulrich," he repeated, with sudden
insistence. "There is a private matter I must discuss with him."
It was Finch's turn to frown. He set down what he was holding (another load of eccentric clothes. What would he do with these? He did not know whether to contact a religious
charity or a theatrical costume shop) and introduced himself to the Reverend.
"You don't know, then?" Finch asked.
"Mr. Ghoulrich is dead?"
"Yes. I thought that was why you had come."
"No." The Reverend shook his head guiltily. "I fear it is why I stayed away. He was sick when we first met. He seemed to sense he was not long for this world."
"Yes, he did harp on his illness. Yet Bradley was run down by a coach. Perhaps he would have appreciated the irony."
"How terrible." The Reverend entered the room now and stared at the clothes, bereft of their owner, piled high on the bed. "I had only just met him, but I could certainly tell he was...special."
"I loved him," Finch said simply. Perhaps his unfamiliarity with men of the cloth led him to continue in this confessional vein, or perhaps it was simply that he had no one else to talk to. "He seemed so true. He never cared for what people thought. His was the only praise I ever valued. Come to think of it, I valued his criticism even more."
They sat silently.
The macaw, until now still as a jade-green statue, assumed the absent host's duties and leavened the seriousness of the moment by squawking out, in raucous parody of Ghoulrich's own voice, the opening sections of the Athanasian Creed.
"You wouldn't like this bird, would you?" Finch asked.
"Heavens no," the Reverend shuddered.
"I have no idea what to do with it. Do you know of some Ecclesiastical Zoo that would take it in?"
"An Ecclesiastical Zoo? I never heard of such a thing."
"Nor I," Finch admitted. There was, no doubt, a command to make the irritating bird stop, but neither man knew what it was. He finally threw one of the discarded shawls over the
cage, simulating night, and the animal obligingly went to sleep. "You said there was a matter you wished to discuss with Bradley. Perhaps I may be of some help."
"No," the Reverend said hastily. "It was to assist me in locating someone. Mr. Ghoulrich had a stake in the matter, though I do not think he was even aware of the unfortunate person's existence. But it is not a favor I would ask of a stranger."