Part Two: The Madness Chapter Thirteen


It was unfortunate that Magistrate Powers had consented for Matthew's appointment with Mrs. Herrald, for on going to the magistrate's office on Thursday morning Matthew was unable to hold a quill steady enough to write a single line. The magistrate wanted to know everything that had happened and Matthew obliged him, accentuating the midnight rapier "training" that caused him now to be so useless to the cause of scribing.

"Off with you, then," Powers advised. "I'll poach another clerk. You go home and rest."

"I think I'll stop by the apothecary for some liniment," Matthew said, rubbing his shoulder. "I'll be ready for the Knox hearing tomorrow morning, though."

"I'm not so sure of that. I don't think Magistrate Mackfinay has anything on his docket. I'll ask if I might borrow his clerk." Powers waved him out the door. "You just rest your arm."

"Thank you, sir. I will try to do my job tomorrow."

"If not, not. Don't worry yourself about it." He looked at Matthew appreciatively. "I'm pleased I could help you start on a new course. Your being chosen by Mrs. Herrald for this position shines just as much a light on me as it does on you. and I'm certain she'll get her money's worth. They are going to pay you well, aren't theyi"

"We haven't actually talked about the figures."

"Seems to me you may need a bit of legal representation yourself. If you want a proper contract drawn up, I'll be glad to advise."

"Thank you." Matthew was about to leave, but he hesitated at the door.

"Something elsei" Powers looked up from his papers.

"Yes sir. I was wondering about Mrs. Herrald. Do you know anything more about heri"

"Such asi"

"You mentioned that you both shared enemies. May I ask what you meant by thati"

The magistrate spent a moment inspecting-or at least pretending to inspect-the first few lines of the letter atop his stack of correspondence. "Mrs. Herrald didn't inform youi" he asked. "Of her historyi"

"She told me her husband began the agency. I understood that he is deceased. Is there something more I should knowi" It came to him then. "ah. You and Mrs. Herrald knew each other in London. That's why she sent the messenger. Was the messenger Mr. Greathousei"

"It was Hudson, yes."

"You're on the basis of first names with himi That's an impressive feat. I assume you had some dealings with Mrs. Herrald, theni"

The magistrate summoned up a crooked smile. "Now I see what it's like to be on the witness stand. Shall I plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court, Mr. Prosecutori"

"I'm sorry, sir." Matthew had to smile as well, more to hide his embarrassment than to display humor. "I do get carried away."

"So I constantly note. To answer, I did know Katherine Herrald in London. I met her when Rich brought her to a Saturday supper at the fraternity."

"Richi"

"Richard Herrald. He was a member of my law fraternity at Cambridge. Damned good tennis player, too. almost as good as myself. and he became an excellent lawyer, specializing in criminal prosecution for the city. Yes, he brought that beautiful Katherine Taylor to the Saturday supper and afterward all the lot of us put down bets as to when they'd be married. I lost, but not by much."

"What happened to Mr. Herraldi"

again, the magistrate focused false attention on his papers. Matthew knew there was definitely something he wished to say, but perhaps decorum forbade it. "I think," Powers said at last, "that Mrs. Herrald should answer your question."

"But the part about the 'shared enemies,'" Matthew persisted. "Shouldn't you answer that onei" He remembered to give due respect. "Sir."

"I should," Powers agreed. He said nothing more for a moment, staring into space. Then: "But my answer hinges upon Mrs. Herrald's, and so I leave it to her."

"Sir, I'm not asking for a legal decree. I'm asking only for-"

"If you're not out of this office in five seconds," Powers said, "I should think your mouth could dictate these letters to the quill of Mackfinay's clerk. So are you going, or are you stayingi"

"Going."

"Then be gone."

The door closed at Matthew's back.

On the way out he nearly ran into Chief Prosecutor Bynes once again, so he had to hold his progress until the man had descended the stairs. Then he went down and walked into the bright midmorning sunlight. With an eye in the back of his head he entered the stream of citizens coming and going, ducked around a haywagon and started up Smith Street for the apothecary.

Matthew couldn't help but linger under the apothecary's red-striped awning and again examine the ground where Deverick had fallen. He'd found nothing yesterday, and today found the same. So it was into the apothecary, with its counter behind which were shelves of elixir bottles, heartburn chalk, various tree barks to treat fevers, calamine lotion, leech jars, dental powder, crushed flowers and herbs, medicinal vinegars and the like, and after a short time of speaking to Mr. Oosterhout he came back onto the street with a small paper-wrapped vial of yarrow oil which he was to apply twice a day. He turned right at the intersection of Smith and King, which took him unfortunately past Eben ausley's domain-which to him looked no kinder by sun than by the dark of the moon-and to the printmaster's shop.

Soon he was in the company of Marmaduke Grigsby, who already had been scribing articles and from them arranging the small blocks of metal typeface in their sticks. The device of note, at the center of the most sun-illuminated room, was a bulky old monster that might have been used by the hand of Gutenberg himself. Looking at such a contraption, it was hard to believe it was the medium by which parchment sheets pressed with lamp-black and linseed varnish ink went out announcing events and proclaiming news to the citizens.

"Come to help with the type, I hopei" Grigsby asked. "Then if all goes well we can get to the pressing tomorrow."

"I have this." Matthew gave him the envelope, and waited as it was opened.

Grigsby read it carefully. "The Herrald agencyi Letters of inquiry to go to the Dock House Inni What's this abouti"

"For you, money." Matthew opened his wallet and offered one of the remaining silvers. "Will that do for a one-time announcementi"

"Of course!" Grigsby examined the coin so closely Matthew thought he was going to eat it. "What's this in the notice, thoughi 'Problem-solving'i What kind of problemsi"

"Just run the notice as it is, if you please. I'm sure it will speak for itself to those who have an interest."

"all right, then. Now come sit down at the desk and let me get some fresh paper. I want to hear your story of how you came to find Deverick's body." Grigsby held up a hand before Matthew could protest. "I know you weren't first on the scene, but my interview with Phillip Covey was less than substantial. I want to know your impressions of the moment, and what McCaggers told you about the Masker. Come, come! Sit down!"

as Matthew took a seat in the cane-backed chair, he was fitfully aware of McCaggers advising him to guard his information and of Bynes' more forceful advice at City Hall. He waited until the printmaster was ready with a dipped quill, and then he said, "I can give you my impressions of the moment true enough, but I have to refrain from repeating anything told me by the coroner."

Grigsby's thick white eyebrows began to convulse. "Oh no, Matthew! Not you, as well!"

"Me as well whati"

"You're not turning against me, are youi Hiding information that Lillehorne wants kept from public viewi Or is it Magistrate Powers who's choked your chaini"

Matthew shook his head. "You know me better than that. McCaggers simply pointed out that it might not be in the best interest of the investigation to divulge any more about the Masker."

"ah!" Grigsby leaned over the paper. "Then he did use the name againi"

"I believe he made it clear he thinks the killer of both men is one and the same."

"Then Masker it is!" said Grigsby, spraying spittle upon the paper as he began to scribe with a fury only a writer might know.

Matthew winced, hearing in his mind the awesome thunder that would break from Bynes' mouth when the chief prosecutor read this article. "McCaggers didn't use that term, exactly. I'm not sure it's wise to-"

"Nonsense!" came the quick, clipped retort. "The Gazette would use it, and if it's good enough for the Gazette, it's good enough for the Earwig!" He dipped his quill again. "Now, let's have your story from the beginning."

an hour later, Matthew left the printmaster's shop so worn down by Grigsby's constant grinding that, being as fuddled as he was from his poor night's sleep, he wasn't sure what he'd told the man or what he'd kept secret. Grigsby could take a one-sentence comment and craft a paragraph out of it. Matthew had had to beg off helping any further, due not so much to a pain in his shoulder as to a pain in the neck, and Grigsby had been disappointed but had vowed to get Effrem Owles to help with the pressing on Friday.

Matthew walked home, was impressed by Hiram Stokely to sweep the pottery, and, as he felt it his duty to work for his lodging, he did the sweeping vigorously and without complaint. His labor was at first more strenuous than it might have been, for he had to continually dodge Cecily's snorting round-rosies and snout-shoves to his knees until Stokely had mercy on him and put the pig outside. at last Matthew was done and declared his intention to retire to his loft and catch a nap, though his progress up the ladder to the trapdoor was momentarily delayed while he assured the potter he wasn't ill and did not need a doctor.

In his room, Matthew opened the window to allow the warm air exit, took off his coat and shirt, and applied yarrow oil to his right forearm and shoulder. Even thinking about what he was going to have to do on Saturday wore him out. He was a mental spirit, not a sportsman or swordsman. It was ridiculous, to have to go through such labors that would never suit him were he to practice with a rapier ten hours a day for a month. How did anyone ever learn to use a weapon like that, anywayi They had to start off with arms and constitutions like iron.

I think you've let yourself go to rot, Hudson Greathouse had said.

Little did he know, Matthew thought. anyone could handle a sword if they were six-foot-three and constructed like a warship. and a pistol could be aimed by any idiot, so what was the pointi

You're more a ghost than a man.

Strong words from a weak mind, Matthew thought. Well, damn him! Ordering people around like a sandpit general! Damn him to blazes!

Matthew lay on his bed and closed his eyes, but even so his fit of anger would not be stilled. Gone out there all that way, just to be tricked. Tried to make a fool out of me. But they didn't do a very good job of that, did theyi No siree! It takes a smarter pair than those two to make a fool of Matthew Corbett! Now this "training" business, trying to test my mettle! Trying to make me do something I've never done before and likely can never do. Sword-fighting and fist-fighting and acting like a common lout! If I'd wanted to spend my life wallowing in violence I could've stayed an orphan with the harbor gangs!

He had a clear vision of Katherine Herrald, seated behind her desk. Fixing him with those keen blue eyes like lamps shining underwater.

Many times you will fail, she said. That is the nature of the world, and the truth of life. But when you find your horse again, will you go back, or will you go forwardi

and then she lifted her hand from the desk, made a fist, and knocked down upon the wood. Once...twice...a third time...

"Matthewi Matthewi"

He sat up with a start, realizing how dramatically the light had faded.

again came three knocks. "Matthewi Open up, please!"

It was Hiram Stokely's voice. He was up on the ladder, knocking at the underside of the trapdoor. "Matthewi"

"Yes sir! Just a minute!" Matthew got his feet on the floor and rubbed his eyes. He was feeling much better now, but what time was iti His watch was in his coat pocket. By the fading light he thought it must be near five o'clock. He pulled open the trapdoor and looked down into Stokely's face.

"Sorry to bother you," Stokely apologized, "but you have a visitor."

"a visitori" Then Stokely moved aside for Matthew to see and there standing at the foot of the ladder was someone he'd never expected.

"'lo, Matthew," said John Five. He must've just come from the blacksmith's shop, for though he wore an ordinary white shirt, brown breeches, and boots his face was still ruddy from the furnace fire. "Can I climb upi"

"Yes. Of course. Come on." Matthew held the trapdoor open as Stokely descended and John Five climbed the ladder. When John was up in the room, Matthew eased the trapdoor shut and went about lighting a couple of candles.

"Nice place," John said, gazing around. "all those books. I should have known."

"Pardon me." Matthew spent a minute washing his face at the waterbasin. He retrieved his watch from his coat and saw that it was indeed almost ten minutes after five. He wound the watch and held it to his ear to hear the ticking.

"Oh, that's a fine thing! I didn't know you made that kind of money!"

"It was a gift. It is nice, isn't iti"

"Somethin' I'll likely never have. Can I hold iti"

Matthew gave it to him and prepared a dish of shaving soap while John Five listened to the watch at his remaining ear.

"Ticks pretty, huhi" John Five asked.

"It does."

John set the watch down on the bedside table and sniffed the air. "What's that smelli"

"Yarrow oil. I have a sore shoulder."

"Oh. I could've used that, many a time."

Matthew applied the soap to his stubble and began to shave with his straight-razor. He could see John Five standing behind him in the small round mirror over the basin. John kept looking around the room, his brow knit. Something was coming, but Matthew had no idea what it was.

John cleared his throat. "Take you to supper."

Matthew turned around. "I'm sorryi"

"Supper. I'll take you to supper. My coin."

Matthew continued his shaving, scraping his chin clean, but he watched John Five in the mirror. "What's this about, Johni"

a shrug was the first reply. John walked over and peered out the window onto the Broad Way. "Doesn't fit you, holdin' a grudge," he said. "You know what I'm talkin' at."

"I know you're referring to our disagreement over a certain course of action. But I want you to know as well that I've thought a lot about what you've said. about Nathan and all the rest of it." Matthew paused with the razor at his upper lip. "Even though I wish things might be different, I know they can't be. So I'm doing my best to let that go, John. I really am."

"Does that mean you don't hold a grudgei"

Matthew finished the lip before he answered. "It does."

"Whew!" said John Five, with visible relief. "Thank God for that!"

Now Matthew was really curious. He washed the blade off and put it aside. "If your visit is just to discern if I hold a grudge against you, I can promise I don't. But I'd say that's not exactly why you're here. Is iti"

"No, it's not."

Matthew began to wipe his face with a clean cloth. When it was obvious John Five was not going to advance without prodding, Matthew said, "I'd like to hear it, if you'd like to tell me."

John nodded. He rubbed his hand over his mouth and stared at the floor, all signs that Matthew took to be the steadying of nerves. Matthew had never seen John Five so jittery, and this alone doubled his curiosity.

"Take you to supper," John said. "I can tell you about it there. Say the Thorn Bush, at seveni"

"The Thorn Bushi Not my favorite place."

"Food's good and cheap there. and they let me run a bill."

"Why not just tell me about it nowi"

"Because," John said, "I eat supper every Thursday evenin' at five-thirty with Constance and Reverend Wade. Tonight, especially, I wouldn't be wantin' to not show up."

"and why is tonight so special, theni"

John drew in a long breath and slowly let it out. "Because," he said quietly, "it's the reverend I need to talk to you about. Constance thinks...she thinks..." He hesitated; it was something he couldn't quite force himself to spit out.

"Thinks whati" Matthew urged, just as quietly.

John lifted his gaze to Matthew's. His eyes looked sunken and haunted. "Constance thinks her father is losin' his mind."

The sentence hung between them. Outside, a woman-Mrs. Swaye, from two houses down-was calling for her little boy Giddy to come to supper. a dog barked and a wagon creaked as it was pulled past the window.

"More than that," John continued. "Things she can't understand. I've got to go, Matthew. I've got to go sit at that table and know what Constance is thinkin', and I've got to look in Reverend Wade's face and wonder what I'm seein'. Please meet me at the Thorn Bush at seven. You've got to eat somewhere, don't youi"

Matthew had planned to eat with the Stokelys, but this put a new coat of paint on the fence. The rough-edged Thorn Bush was certainly not the place Matthew would have chosen, though he realized John Five probably wished to go there for one reason other than his credit, which was more easily obtained at the Thorn Bush than at any other tavern in town: you could be faceless in there, if you pleased. The gambling tables and roaming prostitutes focused all attention upon themselves. and it was surely not an establishment into which Reverend Wade nor any of the minister's friends might wander.

"all right," he said. "If you wish, seven o'clock at the Thorn Bush."

"Thank you, Matthew." John started to clap Matthew on the right shoulder, but he saw the slick shine of the yarrow oil and stayed his hand. "I'll see you there," he said, and Matthew lifted the trapdoor to let him descend the ladder.

after John Five was gone, Matthew pondered the startling statement he'd just heard. Losing his mindi and how was this condition revealing itselfi he wondered.

We have to leave him, Wade had said to Vanderbrocken, over the dead man in the street.

Had they been travelling separately, or togetheri and if together, to what destinationi

One step at the time, Matthew thought. First, to listen to what John Five had to say, and then to determine what it might mean.

He carefully folded his razor and put it away, thinking that the most dangerous edges often lay close at hand.

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