Devoured

Devoured by D. E. Meredith Read Free Book Online

Book: Devoured by D. E. Meredith Read Free Book Online
Authors: D. E. Meredith
Tags: Fiction, Historical, Mystery & Detective
His conclusions upset her, but controversy is a debatable thing, because it really depends which side of the fence you sit on.’
    ‘You mean Science or Religion, Mr Broderig?’ Hatton was beginning to think he understood this man.
    ‘Exactly, Professor. He’s based in Cambridge now. I’ve never been to any of his lectures, although rumour has it, like me, he’s an avid collector of butterflies. I had a mind to show him one or two of my specimens, but I’m in no mood for it now. I don’t have the heart.’
    ‘Please, Mr Broderig, come out of the wind, sir.’ Adams steered him towards a small outhouse used for stacking tools. Hatton and Roumande followed and the four men huddled even closer.
    ‘I’m uncomfortable offering an opinion on a man I barely know, but Katherine often had soirees when she was in London, scientific gatherings, and I understand he attended one or two.’
    The Inspector lit a cigarette. Hatton, intrigued by this talk of science, urged him, ‘Please, Mr Broderig. Tell us all you know.’
    ‘Very well, Professor, but it’s little. Dr Finch, I believe, is working on a radical theory of transmutation. The idea being that we are all animal. That we share the same instincts, good and bad. His theorising is, of course, an extension of other people’s work, but apparently going a great deal further than many would dare. Lady Bessingham wrote to me in Borneo and made mention of his thinking, which I understand saw him drummed out of University College. Katherine was rarely shocked but she seemed greatly upset. I suggested that if she was unenamoured with his thinking, she should simply cut him off. After all, it’s the patron’s prerogative.’
    Hatton nodded, feeling his face redden, because the same had occurred to his work in forensics, many times.
    The Inspector randomly lit a Swan. ‘Well then, perhaps we should see this Dr Finch, if he’s as controversial as you say he is. And to Cambridge, of all places. My old stomping ground, but we cannot just go hurtling into a college, unannounced. Perhaps, Mr Broderig, you would be prepared to take us there and make a formal introduction? As Lady Bessingham’s friend?’
    The young man nodded. ‘I studied at Trinity and I would be happy to help.’
    The Inspector sucked up the last dregs of his tobacco. ‘I’d better get back to The Yard. The Commissioner’s already on my back about this missing maid, and there’s work to do if we’re going to keep this out of the press.’ He turned to Hatton. ‘Report on my desk tomorrow, Professor. I have more than my superiors to answer to on a case like this.’ Adams pulled his coat around himself a little tighter against the bitter chill. ‘And perhaps you would like to join us on a short trip to Cambridge, if Mr Broderig can arrange it? It would be a good opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better.’
    And heaving the whining gate open, Adams and Broderig headed off down the road, soon disappearing into a flurry of white.
    Hatton turned to Roumande, peering under his frosty brim. ‘That gate needs oiling, Albert. Perhaps another one of your begging letters wouldn’t go amiss? We could do with a new one, frankly. It’s embarrassing, and hardly demonstrates us at the helm of our profession. Well, never mind. It’s almost noon and we’ve a heap of work to do, but we’ve been offered an opportunity here. I really think so.’
     
    The day in the cutting room was finally over and Professor Hatton’s walk was against the wind. Up ahead, the lights at Number 14 Gower Street were welcoming as Hatton looked at his pocket watch again. The filigree face of his gold Swiss timer said it was just gone ten and that Mrs Gallant would still be up waiting for him, although her other tenants would be out in restaurants, gentlemen’s clubs, or already asleep. Hatton sometimes wished for a life that was more conventional than the one pathology afforded. Or so he told himself on these long walks

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