"I am the executor of his estate," Finch pointed out, "I would like to do what he would have done, if at all possible."
The Reverend hesitated.
"There is a woman," he began. "I have reason to believe she is, or was, in some way related to Mr. Ghoulrich. The physical resemblance between the two was striking."
Finch looked up.
"What you say interests me very much. Where can I find her?"
"That is precisely how I had hoped Mr. Ghoulrich would help. She has disappeared. All my inquiries have been in vain. I thought he might authorize the posting of some reward for information leading to--"
"Yes!" Finch said. "Certainly."
"No." The Reverend shook his head. "You do not understand. Nan is not presentable. She is...a fallen creature, and often vicious. Merely acknowledging an interest in her fate has done me irreparable harm among my more respectable parishioners. You should see the stew I was served last night," he complained, with pitiable indignation. "I cannot ask someone of your standing to link his name with hers, to risk being dragged into all this."
"Bradley was my friend," Finch said, touching the soft pile of clothes with a tender gesture. "There is no affair of his it would shame me to be associated with."
I am, after all, he wanted to add, Knight of The Clear Gaze.
What is a novel? The word means "new," which it certainly is not, not in this day and age. One can hardly leave one's house without being pelted by the latest examples, as if some celestial bookcase had been overturned. Such were Mister MacIntyre's thoughts as he surveyed the green sward of Tattson Hall from his eyrie on the third floor. He had asked to be put as high as possible, but of course they had not even considered the fourth floor, where the servants slept, nor the attic. Just as well. Views were notoriously bad from maids' rooms--he had looked out a few in his younger days--and nonexistent under the eaves. He enjoyed a good view, one whose shape and proportions pleased the eye, with colors changing in the light, creeping shadows and wide skies. As he got older (Mister MacIntyre was seventy-one) people receded and landscape came to the fore. He had finally got some distance on the world, had disentangled himself sufficiently so that he might now be able to write the book he wanted to, not a novel, not "news", but something old, eternal, a "truth", if he dared advertise it as such. But of course with distance came a corresponding sinking of the fire. All ambition seemed vanity and all vanity worms. What was the point? Three years' sweat merely to add a line to his death notice. "While Mister MacIntyre's later work--" his true Christian name was, in fact 'Mister', which led to all kinds of awkwardness when introduced, "--betrayed a falling off..." No. "...was not well-received, he remained a much sought-after and cherished guest to an ever-widening circle of admirers." His stomach rumbled. There were daisies on the lawn. How they had escaped the gardeners' eyes it was easy to see. Until now, staring for four days, he had not spotted them, little button-sized flowers in clusters here and there on the otherwise unbroken carpet. The vista finally dipped to a tree-lined stream and then a wood. He turned his attention back to his writing kit, a lacquered box he had set up with a tilted board and a special stand where the most recently written pages could dry. It was not an affectation, this assemblage, it had seen the composition of his most famous works. Now, though, he searched in vain for man-made daisies dotting the otherwise blank sheet in front of him, and passed a hand shiny with age over his brow. There was no need, really, to prove himself once again. And there was tea below. He had heard the gong. Still something kept him here, in this tastefully elegant sitting room the Baroness had so thoughtfully provided.