Death at Brighton Pavilion – Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley

I woke, or seemed to. I was on my feet, fully dressed in my evening clothes. My head ached, blood pounding in my temples, my eyes hot. Every limb was on fire but stiff, the old injury in my knee throbbing in quiet agony. I rubbed finger and thumb into my eyes, trying to clear them, and moved my tongue in my dry mouth. The taste I met was foul, sticky and sweet, and at the same time rancid. I had no idea where the devil I was. A cautious glance showed I stood in a massive but unfinished room, dim and silent. Cloths draped a bare wood floor, and a ceiling soared overhead, gray light leaking through tiny windows at the top. Something caught my attention at my feet, and I rubbed my eyes again as I bent to peer blearily at the object. It was a man, sprawled on a dust sheet, limbs askew. I stared at him in a daze, barely able to comprehend what I was seeing. He was dead—I knew that immediately. His face was gray, open eyes unseeing, chest still. A blue uniform coat gaped to show a white shirt now stained with dark blood.

The sword that had killed him, also coated with blood, was clenched in my hand. It was a cavalry saber, well-balanced with a thick hilt and a curved blade. It wasn’t the sword from my walking stick—that one was straight, and the stick lay on the floor at my side. I had no idea how I’d come to be here, or why I stood over the body of a dead man with a bloody sword in my cramped grip. My heart beat thick and fast, senses returning slowly, but no memories. The chamber was utterly silent, no running footsteps of someone hurrying to investigate a fight, no shouts of horror or dismay. Only quiet, until a breeze outside carried to me the lone, shrill cry of a seagull. I realized as awareness trickled into me that I stood in the Prince Regent’s house in Brighton. Half of what the prince called his Pavilion was unfinished, the other half already a confusion of styles, much like Carlton House, but on a more whimsical scale. I’d dined here tonight with Grenville, my wife, and several other guests, including the man on the floor, hours ago it must be.

Dawn’s light above confirmed that it was likely four or five on this summer morning. I passed my tongue over paper-dry lips, panic a dim thing shouting inside me. My head hurt like fury, my stomach burned, and renewed pain flowed through my blood as bits and pieces of the night swooped at me like visions from a nightmare. The man on the floor was Colonel Hamilton Isherwood of the Forty-Seventh Light Dragoons. I’d encountered him on the Peninsula, at Salamanca, seven years ago, where he’d despised me, and I him. Those memories were sharp and clear, as bright as the Spanish sky and the dusty, hard hills around it. Far clearer than the hours between supper and now. Tonight, Isherwood had behaved, at the meal at least, as though we’d been briefly acquainted during the war, nothing more. I had absolutely no memory of killing him. Or of trudging back to the Pavilion after I’d left it last night.

I should be at home in the bow-windowed house we’d hired, asleep next to my wife. Not in an unfinished room with a bloody sword in my hands, an old enemy dead at my feet. I shook, my palms sweating in my gloves. I wanted to heave up the Regent’s excellent supper and fine port, but my throat remained closed. Lay down the sword and depart, my common sense told me. Walk back home. Do not be found here. Wise advice. I began to place the sword on the floor when I heard a gasp, loud in the silence. I jerked around to see a young man in the wide doorway, a flickering candle in his hand.

He wore a dressing gown, but he was not a guest. I’d seen his face earlier this evening, but it had been blank with deference as he’d served me port in the prince’s drawing room. He was a footman, slim and tall, his skin black. He’d worn a turban while he carried trays about, as it was the fashion to have one or two “Moorish” servants in attendance, but the lad was no more Moorish than I was. He stared at me as I slowly straightened, the candlelight showing his dark eyes wide with shock. He opened his mouth, drawing breath to shout. “No!” I cried in a fierce whisper as I moved a shaky step toward him. His face took on a look of abject terror, and I realized I still had the sword in my hand. I dropped it, but the lad turned and fled from the madman with the bloody weapon. He dashed through a doorway and was gone.

“Damnation.” I snatched up my walking stick, having to brace myself on it to regain my feet. I could barely move as I turned to search for a another way out of the room, one that would take me in the opposite direction the footman had gone. The door through which he’d disappeared was open—in fact, the door had not been hung yet and leaned against the wall. I must be in one of the chambers the builders were overhauling in their frenzy to redesign and expand the Prince Regent’s Pavilion. Drapes covered the soaring walls to protect them, the plasterwork on the arches still wet. The scent of paint, plaster, and dust hung heavily in the silent air. I stumbled to the far end of the chamber, expecting at every step to hear men pounding after me. The footman would no doubt raise the alarm. I pawed at the drapes until I found a chink in one and lifted it to slide behind it.

The cloths hung about a foot out from the edges of the room, creating a tunnel between fabric and unpainted wall. I groped my way along this this for a while before I came upon a smaller door, closed but unlocked. I ducked through the narrow portal and along a short hall only to emerge in another enormous room. This chamber had whitewashed walls, several massive fireplaces, and tables covered with pots, bowls, baskets, boxes, and haphazard piles of fruits and vegetables. Plucked fowls on one table leaked juices into a mound of flour. It was far too early to find anyone in the kitchen, to my relief—and dimly to my distress. Something behind my panic did not like to see the comestibles out in the open with mice enjoying a small feast on the corner of a table. I moved haltingly through the room, ignoring the smell of overripe fruit and aging fowl, but there seemed to be no way out of the infernal kitchen. At last I discovered another door the shadows of a cupboard, and I entered another corridor, my entire body beginning to shake, as though I had an ague. The passageway was plain and unadorned, the walls flaking plaster.

A servants’ route through the lavish house. I heard a step and flattened myself against the wall, as though that would make me unseen. Whoever it was loped toward me without trying to be silent, obviously not expecting to meet anyone back here. When he was a few paces away I saw by the light of his candle that it was the same footman, probably on his way to alert someone about the murder. He jerked to a halt when he saw me, and I took advantage of his shock and seized him before he could run again. He struggled. He was half my age, and very strong, but I was an experienced fighter, and in spite of my current infirmity, I held him in a firm grip. “Stand still,” I commanded in a fierce whisper. “I did not kill that man. I found him there.

” Hadn’t I? I wished like the devil I could remember. “I promise you,” I said. “I give you my word.” The phrases stung my throat and I hoped they were true. The young man’s frightened breath made a wheezing sound in the stillness. “You’re Mr. Grenville’s friend, ain’t ya?” His accent put him from somewhere in south London. He had no question about my identity, but the servants would know who was in this house at any given time and what they meant to the Regent. “Yes,” I answered breathlessly. “Mr.

Grenville will vouch for me. My wife will too— though that rather depends on her mood.” The young man only stared at me as I made my feeble joke, ready to spring and run the instant I released him. “What is that room?” I asked, waving vaguely behind me. “Where Colonel Isherwood …” “Banqueting room. Sir.” “What the devil was he—?” I broke off, knowing the question was a futile one. I considered for a moment that this young man had murdered Colonel Isherwood, but I could see no evidence of it. The death had been a messy business, and the lad did not have a splash of blood on his white shirt or the dark blue dressing gown. I unfortunately, had a streak of blood starting at my right knee and ending in the middle of my coat, as though the dying man’s blood had smeared me.

“Show me the way out,” I said. “Unless you have a mind to run for a watchman. If so, you’d better go now.” The young man swallowed, his slim throat showing a prominent Adam’s apple. “This way, sir.” Whether he’d decided to trust me or would lead me straight to said watchman I could not guess, and truth to tell, I did not much care. I only wanted free of this place. I released him cautiously. He did not bolt but started through corridor, I staggering on his heels. The hallway’s blank walls were broken only by plain doors that would lead to the chambers of the Regent’s luxurious hideaway, each door identical.

My guide moved unerringly, leading me around turns and down short staircases until I was completely lost. I half-fancied we’d emerge once more into the room where the dead man lay, with twenty watchmen and a magistrate waiting to arrest me. We descended yet another set of stairs, and the footman slowing for my hobbling steps, and opened a door at the bottom. I had so convinced myself we’d return to the banqueting room or a similar chamber that I was surprised to feel cool, damp outside air and hear the sea in the distance. The narrow door, opening to a tiny and noisome passage, must be meant for those removing slops or night soil, the parts of life one did not want marring a beautiful palace. A path led around a wall and past a bit of shrubbery that screened it from the house. “Gate at the end,” my guide said. “Turn right. Lane will take ya to Great East Street.” “Thank you,” I said sincerely.

“What is your name, lad?” I expected him to say “John,” or another common moniker Englishmen gave their servants. He stared at me and answered, “Clement.” “Clement,” I said. “Again, I thank you.” I held out my hand. He gazed at it in amazement and fear, as though I were handing him a snake. I gave him a weak smile, let my hand drop, and made a weak bow. “I am most grateful. I swear to you, I did not kill Colonel Isherwood. You ought to send for a magistrate, no matter what you think of me, because someone murdered him.

” “Yes, sir,” Clement said, but I could not tell whether he’d obey me. I left him and moved down the muddy path, which did indeed lead to a cesspit that stank in the damp air. I looked back before continuing along the tall box hedge that separated the privies from the main house, and saw that Clement had disappeared. Now to discover whether he’d aided me or would betray me. The wall led to a gate, as Clement had promised, and the gate opened to a walkway. I followed this to Great East Street then turned my steps south, or thought I did, trying to make for the promenade that fronted the town above the sea. My head had not yet cleared, however, and I easily grew disoriented in the dawn light. I took a wrong turn and stumbled about in the back lanes, until I begged a flower seller to tell me the way out. With a nosegay pinned to my lapel—the price of the information—I eventually reached Bedford Row and headed west under a misting rain, my body aching with each step. I passed the artillery battery that faced the sea and turned to the new square which held the house my wife had hired for our summer stay in Brighton.

I found the front door locked. As I leaned heavily on the doorpost, wondering whether the cook had unbolted the back way in, the door was opened with a wrench. I nearly fell inside and into Bartholomew, my valet, who’d come to see who was trying to get into the house. The belligerent look he’d assumed for an intruder vanished to be replaced by astonishment. “Sir?” He blinked. “Were you walking all night? We thought you’d put up at Mr. Grenville’s.” I had no strength to answer. I pushed past him, ill and weary, needing my bed. Before Bartholomew could close the door, there was a rush of footsteps, and Thomas Brewster charged in from the street.

“Where you been, guv?” Brewster glared at me, out of breath, his clothes mist-spotted and mud-splotched. “I’ve been scouring this town for hours looking for you. You slid off from Mr. Grenville in the park, and I lost ya in the dark. I’ve been running around since searching for ya, getting all wet in this blasted fog. Where the bloody hell did you get to?” Chapter 2 T he Royal Pavilion,” I made myself say as Bartholomew closed the door, shutting out the morning. My voice rasped, and I braced myself blearily on my walking stick. “So it seems.” “What the devil did you go back there for?” Brewster demanded. “Couldn’t get your fill of the place?” Bartholomew gazed at me as well, waiting for me to explain.

My temper began to fray under their scrutiny, because I had no idea what to tell them. “Where I walk in the middle of the night is my own business,” I said stiffly. “Now I’m off to bed before I drop.” Bartholomew, though curious, was well-trained enough to clamp his lips closed over more questions and begin to help me from my coat. Brewster, on the other hand, had never been trained to be anything but rude. “’Tis my business what you get up to. I’m only in this benighted town full of dafties who think swimming in the sea will cure them of all ills so I can keep you from harm. When ye wander off in the middle of the night and come home looking like the devil is after ye, I want you to stand still and tell me what it’s all about.” If Brewster had worked for me, I could tell him to calm himself and go home, but he answered to another authority. His employer was James Denis, a man who’d decided he had the power of life and death over me.

At the moment, Denis was interested in keeping me alive, and so Brewster had been sent along on this jaunt to Brighton to watch over me. “Very well.” I had to wet my parched mouth before I could continue. “I have no memory of parting from Grenville. I came to myself at the Pavilion, and returned home.” I cleared my throat as Brewster and Bartholomew regarded me in dubious silence. “Also, Colonel Isherwood has been killed. Good night, gentlemen.” I turned and headed for the stairs. Brewster was beside me before I’d taken two steps, putting himself between me and the newel post.

“Ye don’t get away that easy, Captain. Chap’s been killed? By you, do you mean?” I tried to shrug. “As to that, I could not say. I found him dead, but I will have to speak to you about it later.” The truth was, I could barely stand. I might appear cool and collected, but I shook deep inside myself and my stomach roiled. Bartholomew’s mouth fell open. “’Struth, sir.” “Bloody hell,” came Brewster’s rumble. “This is why I don’t ever let you out of me sight.

You always find trouble.” “So it seems,” I managed to say. “But I am to bed, and we will speak later. Please do not wake her ladyship, and do not mention this to the rest of the household.” Bartholomew, though he remained worried, nodded. “Yes, sir.” He stood back to let me climb the stairs. Brewster scowled and plunked himself upon a delicate bench in the cream-colored front hall. “I’ll wait.” I left him there, too weary to argue.

I sensed Bartholomew full of questions as we ascended to the upper floor, but as I was growing more ill by the moment, I could not rationally discuss anything. I’d scarcely reached my chamber at the top of the stairs before I vomited all I had into the basin in the corner. Bartholomew did not hide his dismay, but he was there with a towel before I could soil my clothing. He had me undressed quickly and bundled into bed. For the first time since we’d arrived, I was grateful my wife had insisted on separate bedchambers, though I suspected her need for privacy stemmed the fact that I rose too early for her liking and had a tendency to snore. Bartholomew shoved a goblet under my nose and told me to drink. The last thing I wanted was brandy, but I obeyed, conceding that the burning liquid eased my stomach a trifle. Only a trifle. I was still queasy when Bartholomew settled the blankets over me, but also exhausted. I dropped off quickly, and dreamed of the dead Colonel Isherwood pursuing me through garish rooms of the Pavilion with a bloody sword.

* * * I had no idea how long I slept. I drifted in and out, my dreams troubling. I fancied I saw faces above me after Isherwood’s faded—Bartholomew mostly, but then Grenville, Brewster, and Donata. Beautiful Donata. I reached for her, reasoning I’d feel better against her softness. She wore a large cap, very unlike her usual affairs, but it looked fetching on her. Before I could touch her, however, her hair changed to long locks of lush gold, her smile wide and unreal. That face became the one of the actress Marianne Simmons, who’d once lived upstairs from me, her sharp eyes holding disapproval. You’re a lazy lie-abed, you know, she informed me. What are you going to do about this, Lacey? When I at last swam to my senses, the light in the windows was weak, but my head had cleared somewhat.

I sat up. At once, Bartholomew swiftly entered the chamber. “Feeling better, are we, Captain?” he asked in overly bright tones. I rubbed my chin, finding it rough with whiskers. “I am, thank you. Restless night, but I might as well rise. What does my wife have scheduled for me to do this morning?” Bartholomew gave me a startled glance but moved to the basin and began clinking shaving things onto a tray. The sound was loud to my addled brain—I must have imbibed far too much the night before. “It’s long past morning, sir,” Bartholomew announced. “Well into afternoon.

” “I’ve slept all day?” I glanced at the window in disbelief, but I saw only gray skies and had no idea where the sun lay. “Why didn’t you wake me?” “Why not indeed, sir?” Bartholomew finished piling his tray and waited for me to climb from bed and don my dressing gown. “You couldn’t be waked, is why, though we all tried. Mr. Grenville wanted to send for a physician, but her ladyship don’t trust them. Her ladyship is back in bed, as she was spent from looking in on you all day. When you started snoring hard, she said you would be all right and retired to her chamber. She convinced Mr. Grenville to go home and sleep too.” I remembered the changing faces from my dreams—my friends and family must have been hovering over me to see whether I lived or not.

Rather embarrassing. “Do not disturb her then,” I said, hiding my discomfiture. “I appear to be right as rain.” I swayed, giving the words a lie, but I’d been hungover before. The only thing to do was wait it out. I dropped into the chair before the fire and tilted my head back, ready to be shaved. “Mayhap.” Bartholomew looked dubious but lathered my face with warm soap and poised the razor over my throat. “After you arrived home at dawn looking like demons were chasing you I agree with Mr. Grenville that perhaps you need a dose of something.

” I blinked at him. “What are you talking about? I slept soundly in my bed all night, after apparently drinking far too much at dinner at that blasted Pavilion. I hope I didn’t mortify my wife and Grenville.” The razor hesitated. “You don’t remember coming home with a posy on your coat saying you’d been back to the Pavilion but don’t remember why? And that a colonel had been killed.” I started, and Bartholomew quickly lifted the razor away. “What colonel?” My first thought was of Colonel Brandon, with whom I’d had an uneasy friendship since we’d returned from the Peninsular War. Brandon, dead? An icy pain struck my heart, the intensity of which surprised me. “No, sir. Chap with a funny name.

Isher. Something like that.” Amid relief that Brandon was well and whole, memories slammed into me, not nice ones. “Isherwood? Good God.” Colonel Hamilton Isherwood of the Forty-Seventh Light Dragoons, the cavalry regiment who’d served alongside the Thirty-Fifth—my regiment—at Salamanca. He’d had the rank of major then, and I hadn’t seen him again until he’d walked into the supper room at the Pavilion last night. “He’s been killed, you say?” I asked in amazement. Bartholomew gave me an odd look. “You told us, sir. When you returned early this morning.

” In a chill, I sank back, searching the haze of my memory, but I found nothing but a blank. After the tedious supper with the Regent and his aristocratic acquaintances, from which the Regent had excused himself fairly early, Donata had gone on to another outing with friends, and Marianne had departed to visit some theatrical acquaintances. I vaguely remembered Grenville and I strolling together after that in the dark in the Steine—the park near the Pavilion—and the taste of a cheroot. But I had no recollection of returning to the Pavilion, or wandering about Brighton after that in the small hours. “You must be mistaken,” I said uneasily. “No, sir.” Bartholomew came at me with the razor again, and I made myself subside so he could work. “You said and did all I have related.” He shaved me swiftly and competently, and when he finished, I snatched up the towel he handed to me and dried off my face. “I must have been far deeper in my cups than I thought, but Brewster will know what happened.

He follows me about like a damned hound.” Bartholomew moved off to clean up the shaving things. “He was as confounded as me, sir. It appears you eluded him in the dark.” I emerged from the towel. “Send word to him, will you, Bartholomew? I’ll need to speak to him.” “He’s downstairs, sir. Wouldn’t move, even when his wife came to fetch him home. She’s worried about you too.” Mrs.

Brewster, a minuscule woman, had a strength about her that could unnerve the strongest man. She certainly had the brutish Brewster under her thumb. “I’d better be dressed then,” I said. Not long later, I indeed found Brewster waiting for me in the lower hall, seated on a bench near the front door. I forestalled his growled questions by bidding him to follow me into the dining room. Brewster never liked entering the main rooms of the house, feeling uncomfortable in luxury. He took a few steps into the chamber and halted, standing like a stone. Bartholomew discreetly vanished, closing the door behind him. “Before you shout your disapprobation at me,” I said as he drew a breath, “tell me exactly what happened last night. My memory is vague.

” Nonexistent, in fact, as though I’d been drunker than I’d let myself become in a while, but I wanted to hear Brewster’s version of the tale. “Huh.” Brewster wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “If I’ve caught a chill chasing you about … After you come out of the Pavilion once your supper was done, you and Mr. Grenville decided a walk in the dark under the trees would be entertaining. The pair of you wandered about that Steine place, then Mr. Grenville said he’d been invited to a soiree in one of the fine houses on the Grand Parade. You decline to go and headed past the Regent’s stables once you parted from him. It was dark as a tomb back there, and all of a mist too. You took a turn I missed and vanished like smoke.

I searched up and down, but never saw you again until I caught sight of you coming out of the market down by the sea, sweet as you please, the church clocks striking five.” He finished, scowl firmly in place. “Ah.” I moved to the sideboard, hoping to find breakfast, but it was empty, and I remembered it was evening, the morning meal long since finished. “Well, it appears I am unharmed,” I said, trying to speak lightly. “No need to report to Mr. Denis.” Brewster sent me an aggrieved look. “He’ll want to know anything odd. You turning up out of nowhere bleating about this Isherwood bloke being dead is right odd.

” Memories of the Peninsula rose again, of Salamanca, with the domes of its cathedral golden in the sunlight, the roar of men converging on the battlefield, the high heat of July, the screams of the dying. The aftermath, the exhaustion, giddy victory, the celebrations, the warm sun in a high room inside the city’s walls. Isherwood had turned up at supper last night, resplendent in his uniform. I’d regarded him in surprise and dismay, and he’d done the same to me. Not a happy reunion. I shut out the thoughts. “I should begin with Isherwood, then. To discover whether he is alive and well. If he was killed, surely there’d be a mention in the newspapers?” Several had been left for me on the table, but a quick glance at the first pages showed no report of a murder at the Regent’s Pavilion. “Wasn’t in any papers I read as I was awaiting for you to wake, and her ladyship or Mr.

Grenville didn’t know nothing about it. Would be all over town, wouldn’t it? If a dead body turned up at His Royal Highness’s house?” He had a point. It would be too much of a sensation, and Brighton, and soon the rest of the country, would be abuzz. “I might have dreamed his death,” I said uncertainly. “My mind is in such confusion I can’t be certain. So let us find out whether he is alive or dead.” “How do you intend to do that?” Brewster demanded. “Walk about the town and shout his name?” “Go to the Pavilion and find out what I can.” I spoke as though this would be a simple matter, cleared up in an hour. Brewster continued to glower.

“My advice? Which I know you will not take.” He hardened his glare. “Leave it.” “Pardon?” My mind had drifted again. Meeting Isherwood last night after seven years almost to the day had been rattling. Isherwood had remembered me well—I’d seen it in his eyes. He’d chosen to ignore that fact and pretend we’d never met. He’d kept up the pretense until after supper when we’d shared port … Not so much shared it as drunk it while he snarled invective at me in a heated whisper. “I said leave it,” Brewster repeated. “Go with your wife and wee ones to the sea and forget you went strolling about Brighton in the middle of the night bleating about dead colonels.

Let that be the end of it.” “Do not stir things up, you mean?” I considered this. “Perhaps you are correct. Perhaps I only dreamed it.” “That’s right, guv. Ye were restless and wandered about to clear your head. Came home and fell asleep so hard you don’t remember none of it.” What he said was possible. Also untrue. I knew that if I consulted with Donata and my friends before I departed to look for Isherwood, they, like Brewster, would try to stop me.

Brewster had a point—I’d come to Brighton as Grenville’s guest, to celebrate his happiness in his new marriage. My two daughters and my stepson were with me, and I wanted this time to embrace my family. I equally knew the missing hours would haunt me until the end of my days and that I wouldn’t be able to rest until I pieced together what had happened. I left the dining room, still hungry, fetched my hat and coat, and stepped out the front door. Brewster, heaving an aggrieved sigh, followed. * * * It was an easy walk from our hired house along Bedford Row that skirted the sea, even for me with my injured leg. The mist of the previous night had gone. Daylight lingered for quite some time in midsummer, and Brewster and I moved through a golden evening toward the avenue that would take us into the main part of Brighton. I had decided to begin at the Pavilion, to discover if anyone had reported a death, before I moved on to Isherwood’s house if I found no news. I knew where Isherwood lived, because he’d boasted of it at supper, but I was in no hurry to encounter the man again if he were still alive.

Had I not been so uneasy, I would have noted what a lovely hour it was. The sea, a hue of gray-blue, stretched away at our right hand, and a brisk wind cooled what heat the day had brought. Out on the water were fishing boats, and among them, twisting and turning in the wind, glided the pleasure sailing craft of gentlemen. Walkers had emerged to take advantage of the fine weather, husbands strolling with wives and daughters, gentlemen wandering in search of entertainment, and women walking together, followed closely by a servant or two. Plenty of taverns fronted the sea, along with restaurants for families—many such places has sprung up now that the Prince Regent had made Brighton fashionable for a seaside holiday. I decided to head north up Ship Street instead of continuing along the sea walk. There were plenty of crowds along the waterfront—easier to cut through the town than follow the shore, or so I told myself. However, when I reached the small brick cottage that housed the Quaker meetings, I paused, something nagging at me. I had learned since our arrival in Brighton that this cottage had been built fifteen years previously when the Regent had decided to tear down houses and close off streets to expand his Pavilion. One of those houses destroyed had been the meeting place of the Society of Friends.

They’d been given no choice but to move, and they’d built this new cottage on grounds owned by one of the Quakers. “I was here,” I said to Brewster after some moments of indecisiveness. “I think.” Brewster scowled. “Turned Dissenter, have ye?” “No.” I was too impatient to banter with him. “I do not mean I attended a meeting, but I was here.” I tapped the pavement. We stood outside a gate that led to a garden laid out in neat rows, the green tops of vegetables bright against the soil. “I spoke to someone.

” The Meeting House was quiet now, its small windows unlighted, but I saw movement in the open doorway. As I peered through the garden, a man emerged and paused on the doorstep to regard me. He was small in stature, wore a plain gray coat and knee breeches, and held a wide-brimmed hat. As though making up his mind, he set the hat on his head and walked briskly out of the house and down the path to me, bathing me in a kind smile. “I am pleased to see thee well again, Gabriel,” he announced. “We won’t have a meeting this evening, but thou art welcome to sit quietly in the lecture room and reflect.”

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