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The Incendium Plot by A D Swanston

The Incendium Plot by A D Swanston

Author:A D Swanston [Swanston, A D]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781473526884
Publisher: Transworld
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER 22

HE SPENT THAT night at Wood Street and set off for Ludgate Hill as dawn broke. Almost immediately he regretted it. It was the very worst hour for a man to be abroad in London. The night creatures who infested the dark streets – vagrants, thieves, whores, queer birds – still about their foul business as the creatures of the day emerged from their lairs and hovels in search of prey and food and a coin or two. Night-soil men, cutpurses, maunderers, gatherers of rags and crumbs and farthings fallen from a purse – the devil alone knew how many there were or where they hid. Cats and foxes by night, rats and crows by day. Hunters and hunted, carrion eaters, killers, the weak and the sick and the old. Christopher hastened back to Ludgate Hill and closed the door with a grunt of relief.

Berwick would watch Wetherby. Sessetti in Paris was gathering what intelligence he could. Ell and Isaac and others in London were watching and listening. Yet, somewhere, Leicester’s vipers lurked unseen. He would have to pay another visit to Mr Kaye at Stationers’ Hall.

An hour later, the warden, robed as ever in velvet and silk, bustled into the Stationers’ grand reception room, scowling and red-faced. ‘Dr Radcliff, I trust you will be brief. Our election has given rise to difficulties which it is my duty to resolve.’ His bow was cursory. ‘You do not call to ask about Nicholas Houseman again, I hope? My patience on that subject is exhausted.’

‘I do, Mr Kaye, but I shall be brief. I believe that Houseman and his wife have been abducted. Do you know of anyone who bears him a grudge or has some reason to dispose of him?’

Kaye’s eyebrows shot up. ‘Really, doctor, and what, pray, would cause you to believe that?’

‘If Nicholas had needed to leave London, he would have found a way to return my money to me. He is an honest man.’

Kaye bridled. ‘As are all members of our company. But accidents and unforeseen events happen. Houseman would not be the first respectable man of business in London to disappear.’

‘So you know of no one who might have wished Nicholas ill?’

‘No, doctor, I do not. And now I must ask you to leave. I am entirely occupied with my work.’

‘Thank you, Mr Kaye. I am grateful,’ replied Christopher, relieved that at least Kaye had been so preoccupied with his election that he had not complained about John Berwick’s visit to the Hall. A self-important, corpulent oaf of a man, probably nothing like as busy or competent as he would have one believe.

Since the attack near St Martin’s church, Christopher had taken particular care to avoid dark doorways and alleys. He had been fortunate not to be more seriously wounded and might not be so fortunate next time. Keeping to the middle of the street, he walked briskly back down Ludgate Hill. As he reached the house, from somewhere along Fleet Street came the sounds of voices raised in anger.



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