Inspector Stone’s Casebook
10 March – Morning
It was 10:00 o’clock when we stepped from the warmth of the striped red brick and Portland stone constabulary castle of Scotland Yard and into the grim, grey winter’s day. The sun was obscured by the leaden clouds. The wind came brusque off the Victorian Embankment and the Thames.
“I have a bad feeling about this.” PC Alderton said as she secured her hat.
“A sentiment we both share." I replied while buttoning my coat, “I fear there shall be nothing but more obfuscation to come from this visit to The Admiralty.”
With a slight adjustment of her glove, PC Alderton turned to look up at the grim sky: “Obfuscation? My you’re quite the optimist this morning Inspector Stone.” She turned to give me that wistful smile of hers: "Whereas, for me, I see this all ending in some mysterious visitation from men in black suits—with orders sufficient to explain how we have never existed. If the death of Pamela Dean does indeed lead into the halls of The Admiralty House, then mist and fog will be of little comparison to the high and mighty muckety-muck to which we will soon find ourselves to be wading.”
I gave her an appraising look — Vera Alderton was fast becoming prescient in the commodification of justice and its application in regards to peerage and privilege. Save, I did not know as to how privy she was to the shadowy hellhole that was the Thorndyke affair. There had been the erection of the wall of silence built not only to protect the Yard but the reputations of those who had commissioned Robertson-Kirk to begin with. And so, new to the constabulary, and even more so being a woman, I could only speculate as to whether the whisperings regarding Robertson-Kirk from the lofty turrets above had filtered down into the storage basement of which she made her office—
I looked at her and decided there would be time enough to discuss the Machiavellian machinations and the apparent resurrection of City Inspector Spencer. But what distressed me, owing to my conversation with Barrington, was the prospect, which continues even now to plague my mind, is that though he’s been reinstated into the City of London Police did Robertson-Kirk still hold his leash. Ever held tightly, he was not known to run too far. And there were indications – but to what ends? Robertson-Kirk had been thoroughly disgraced. I didn’t want to speculate with Barrington nor to burden Alderton – not at this preliminary juncture, but what was troublesome was the irksome wonder if it were at all possible that the dismantling of the Secret Investigative Division had been nothing more than a sham. The gulling of meddlesome broadsheet scribblers and reactionary politicians.
PC Alderton took a step down and asked, “Shall we walk?”
Although the city had been blanketed with what had been officially recorded as 2-inches of freshly fallen snow, the Cleaning Department had been at work upon first light clearing up Parliament Street and Whitehall. “I will follow your lead.” I motioned with my hand for her to proceed.
“This woman, the one you saw upon the bridge. Are you certain she was alone?” I asked idly as we walked now side-by-side.
“Quite certain.” PC Alderton replied as a wry smile curled the corner of her mouth, “The only person on the other side of the bridge was the snowman I made.”
I cut a humorous glance toward her, “From you report you indicated that she was pale—was there . . . perhaps any indication as to the colour of her hair? Might it have been red?"
We approached Horse Guards Avenue.
She gave me a quizzical glance, “How do you mean?
I retrieved from my heavy, woollen coat a page from the facsimile Miss Reedmin had produced for me the night before and passed it over to her, “From Cotford’s Casebook.”
Evidence of Jeremiah Hurley- Verbatim: I live at 10 Arundel-place, Arundel -street, and I am a broom-man. I work for various establishments along the Strand where I sweep up before morning business. I was coming back round Surrey Street heading to my digs to get a bit of mother’s ruin to warm up, when a copper he come runnin’ up to me. He was a bit off the rail so to speak and winded. He told me to run off and find his mate, which I did and directed him to the pier from which the other copper had come. I was of a mind to see what was what and so I stood as to where the other coppers would let me and watched. I had not seen anything or no one earlier carrying anything. Now – I did see something a bit queer. And not likin’ to cast me dispersions in anyone’s direction like. But, as I was standin’, watchin’ where I could, before them coppers come to move me a-ways, I saw a black motorcar pull short like of the bridge there and it makes its way slowly down towards the timber yard. Not like all the ways, but just like, right there. You know. And this here copper, the one that I fetched for the first one, he walked up to it. When the window lowered, crikey there was a really nice piece in back with red-hair. She spoke to the copper. He reached in and took something from her. Could be wrong, but it looked like a purse to me. They spoke a bit and then the motorcar backs away and goes off over the bridge. The copper, he makes his way quick-like down the embankment and then comes back up. And he ain’t got the purse no more.
In silence we continued down Whitehall as PC Alderton read the account taken from the broom-man.
“As to the colour of her hair, sadly I was not able to distinguish. Doesn’t mean there might not be a connection though.” She said passing the facsimile back to me. “It was well after dark after all.”
“It is of course not confirmed. The red hair.” I replied folding the page and placing it in my pocketbook and returning both to my inner coat pocket, “As we have not yet put scrutiny to this evidence. But, I think before this day is through we should see Mr Hurley, do you not agree?”
“Assuming the admiralty doesn’t imprison us first.” She said with some anxiety.
“There is of course that possibility.” I muttered softly as we now approached The Admiralty.
Lads already chilled by the first hours of their sentry duty at the Adams Screen, it’s ornate stone façade protecting the entrance to the front square of the three-story structure of offices and apartments for the Lords of the Admiralty, watched as we approached.
A brisk wind blew along Whitehall whipping up snow.
“Good Day. Do you have business here?” The naval sentry asked as he raised his gloved hand before Alderton’s slow approach.
“We are from Scotland yard.” She calmly informed him as she stepped forward removing her identification card from the pocket of her long skirt, “I am PC Alderton and this is Inspector Stone. We are expected. We are here to speak with a Captain Purdy.”
The sentry looked at her Identification and then glanced over to me. I pulled my card out and passed it over as well. He inspected them – twice.
“Right.” He handed the identification passbooks back – mine first and then hers in obvious deference.
I took note of the slight display of irritation in PC Alderton’s eyes even as she did well to conceal her immediate reaction to the sentries preferential treatment, which she, as well as I, felt was spawned less by rank than by gender. But here at the Adam’s Screen was not the proper venue for a philosophical or political discourse on the vagaries of the inequality experienced by women in our society. The young sentry, dressed smartly in his naval uniform and woollen coat, bearing a sidearm, stepped aside and waved us through the Adam Screen’s secured entrance.
As we strolled across the square toward the front entrance of The Admiralty, Alderton, her brows knit slightly, cut a side glance toward me, “I am more than well aware, Inspector, of the impendence for which AC Barrington was coerced into assigning myself as lead of this investigation. I could not help but notice, after our morning assembly, the AC held you back for a private consultation.”
“There were concerns regarding the possible contrivances by members of the London City Police.” I explained as we neared the entrance to the three story, U-shaped brick building of the Admiralty.
“Then this mornings annoyance has yet to breed a consequence?” She asked.
I gave her a steadfast look as I opened the door, “Speculations in that direction are as yet unfounded I can assure you.”
She gave me a look in passing which indicated she still harboured such suspicions. In truth, I too had suspected as much earlier – but Barrington’s overriding import of the morning had been the inclusion of James Fitzjames Spencer into the joint investigation. Just what circumstances could have necessitated his reinstatement into the enforcement of law – which was irony itself. There was of course the possibility with the war effort and the recent conscription – and knowing Spencer, by way of some bureaucratic undertaking upon his behalf, he had sought a method to Star his blue card.
We entered into the lobby which was dimly lit by the muted sunlight falling through the tall windows and echoed with footsteps and shoe leather, the opening and closing of doors, the shuffling of papers, the shutting of desk drawers, the clatter of typewriter keys, amongst a cacophony of voices engaged in public and private conversations. The lobby was a hub from which corridors emptied a host of uniformed personnel preoccupied with matters of war. Dispatches, no doubt, regarding contingences as regards Berlin’s latest actions toward Portugal, as well as the continued swirl of controversy regarding Colonel Churchill’s speech and his subsequent replies regarding the First Lord of the Admiralty.
I removed my bowler as we approached the front desk.
“We are from Scotland Yard. We are here to speak with Captain Purdy, Alexander Purdy.” PC Alderton stepped forward with renewed authority.
The burly naval officer behind the counter did not look up from the various papers before him, “Scotland Yard Jacks.” He grunted in way of receipt of the knowledge.
A young woman in a telegram delivery uniform walked past, waving to the person behind the front desk. It was obvious she had been through this way many times before as the stout naval officer looked up from the pages with which he attempted to be preoccupied. His eyes following the figure of the young woman as he smiled.
Alderson’s attention was diverted by the woman as her eyes followed.
“We arrive here this day upon the direction of the Admiralty.’ I said in rebuff of the man’s disrespect to Alderton. “Captain Purdy made entreaties upon the Yard. If to those who attend him this is of little import, then we shall say good day.”
“Yes, now.” He replied hurriedly, “You have an appointment?”
“I am uncertain of the time, but yes.” Alderton replied returning her attention once more to the man.
“There was a call placed to the Yard. This morning by a Sub-Lieutenant Rice.” I continued.
“That would be Captain Purdy’s aide.” The man nodded as he lifted the receiver of a phone and rang someone up, “Right, I have two coppers here from the Yard to see Captain Purdy. Right. Yes, sir. So, you are coming down? Right.” He hung up. “Sub-Lt. Rice will be here shortly. Mind you stay about the desk.”
“Certainly” Alderton replied
For a few moments we stood idly watching men and woman hurrying about. Some of them on their way no doubt to a cloistered room to plot some naval action which will mean death not only to the enemy but to British sailors as well.
“Be careful if any of them offer you a drink.” She whispered.
“Frightfully sorry to have held you up.” Came a voice from behind. We turned to see a slender young man with straw hued hair, “I shall take you straightway to Captain Purdy. If you will but follow me.”
“Most certainly, sir.’ Alderton replied
We follow the young naval officer down a long hall to a set of elevators. We ascended.
Excerpt from the unpublished novel by Carmichael Pemberton
Randall T________ sat at his desk in Room 40. He had ensured that word got out, anonymously, about B________ being ill, and has just finished copying down the note the two of them had found in his own shorthand.
He put the original document in an envelope, and sealed it, looking around to make sure the few people in the room at that moment had their attention elsewhere.
At that moment, there was a light knock upon the door, and the young telegram delivery woman stepped in.
“Ah Bea!” he smiled and stood as she entered. “Wonderful to see you, just the person I’d been hoping to see. That jacket really does bring out the colour in your eyes you know.”
The woman identified as Bea glared at the rakish cadet. "You do know it is a uniform . . . "
“Yes, yes, but it suits you so very well.”
She sighed, having put up with this before. “What do you want Randy?”
With another smile, Randall handed her the envelope containing the paper he had found this morning. “I want you to take this to the safe deposit box at the telegraph office.”
“Is this official Naval business? Why would you keep this at the telegraph office?”
“You know I can’t tell you that Bea! Besides, would it be anything other than official naval business?” He holds the envelope out to her.
She hesitated for a split second before taking the envelope and putting it in her satchel. “You’d better not be stealing things and using me to get them out. There’s two coppers downstairs.”
For an unperceivable second, Randall’s heart skipped a beat, but he quickly rallied and flashed yet another toothy grin. “You think I’m some kind of spy? Don’t even joke like that Bea, you could lead a man to their doom that way.”
Bea rolled her eyes. “Is there anything else Randy?”
“Not on your life.”
Randall shrugged. “Very well, then a delivery shall suffice.”
Bea gave a curt nod, swiftly turning and exiting the room walked on to the other offices to deliver and collect messages.
Randall picked up his lunch bag. “Hey Thomas, I’m heading out for lunch, be back in an hour.” The man addressed as Thomas waved an acknowledgement without looking up from his work, and Randall exits, heading for the roof.
Inspector Stone’s Casebook – continued
The motor of the lift whined to a halt and the metallic grate slid back and the door opened. Sub-Lieutenant Rice, who engaged in only the most perfunctory of conversation in the lift, strode smartly down the hallway. Behind doors bearing half-panels of frosted glass, the sound of typewriters could be heard loudly clacking. The floor is highly polished. It reeked of bureaucracy.
I glance over at PC Alderton, whose observant eyes were scrutinizing everything in passing.
“Well, then, here we are.” Rice announced as he stopped before a door and quickly opened it, which gave entrance to a small anti-chamber, appropriately furnished with a desk, chair, coat rack, and filing cabinets. There was a painting of some 18th century sea battle. As aide, this was apparently Rice’s office. Injudiciously the connecting door had been left ajar so part of an conversation within could be overheard: “. . . it would be far more judicious in the future to use professionals. This smacks of cut-outs. It only complicates matters—and you can damn well tell her that.”
The voice was stern.
Hurriedly the Sub-Lieutenant stepped over and pushed the door further so as to inform those within that there were other’s within earshot, “Captain.”
“Rice. When in consultation, you know best to knock.”
“Right sir.” Rice furtively replied to conceal the fact the door had been left ajar, “Sorry Sir. The inspectors from the yard are here, Sir."
“Send them in."
Rice move so as to allow us entrance into a richly furnished office of mahogany and red leather. A massive desk secured one end of the room, with two Chesterfield chairs positioned before it. In the left hand chair a man sat with his back to us. Behind the desk was another gentleman of middle age, attired in the seemingly impeccable uniform of a naval officer. He was busy attempting to secure the ignition of the tobacco in the bowl of his pipe as he held a flaming match above it.
Without turning to observe our entry, the man in the chair lifted a hand adorned with a woollen glove which had been shorn to expose the flesh of the fingers from the knuckled to fingertip: “Edward.”
The voice was unmistakable. It was James Fitzjames Spenser.
Alderton was momentarily distracted as she watched Rice close the door behind us.
“I would not gainsay to chalk it up to providence that our paths cross again, Spenser.” I said by way of reply as I strode further into office, looking from the naval officer fiddling with the flame of his match held to his pipe and then to the back of Spencer’s head. He was in need of a haircut. “But, merely as overture to this sad opera which begins with the demise of Pamela Dean.”
“And a City Detective.” Spenser added coldly.
“I gather the two of you are acquainted.” The immaculate officer said as he whipped the match in order to extinguish its flame as he tossed it into an ash-tray near at hand. “Allow me to introduce myself, I am Captain Purdy.”
“Inspector Edward Stone.” I nodded rather then stepping forward to extend a hand, as the man behind the desk did not likewise move to do so, “This is PC Vera Alderton. I understand you wish to have words with us this morning – I can only deduce this is in regards to the murder investigation of Pamela Dean.”
“You deduce correctly, Inspector.” He waved his hand in the direction of a pair of chairs on either side of a long sideboard sitting against the far wall as he indicated the need to supplement the chairs before his desk, seeing as how Spencer did not rise to offer one to Alderton. “Bring up a seat.”
“I would prefer to stand, if that is ok with you Sir.” Alderton replied as she stood her ground and crossed her arms.
Puffing at the pipe the officer leaned back in his chair, “As you wish.”
“It is most unusual to receive a summons from the Admiralty in a murder case.” Her brows were slightly knitted.
“Quite,” The Captain said. “But, these are unusual times.”
“How so?” She inquired.
The Captain cut a look, “Beyond the daily miscreants and ruffians to which you are no doubt tirelessly devoted to bringing to heel – there is a war on.”
“And Pamela Dean’s death is material to the war effort?” Alderton asked coolly.
“In actuality, yes. And I must say I am surprised Constable—“ Captain Purdy sat up.
“Alderton.” She repeated for him.
“Constable Alderton, I would not have thought you to have so curtly dismissed Dean’s death as nothing more than some mundane occurrence.”
“Murder is not a mundane occurrence, Sir.” She retorted.
Spenser having maintained a silent air of detachment slowly clapped his hands together, once, twice, thrice.
Captain Purdy gave him a look as he picked up his box of matches and removed one, which he struck: “Perhaps it would be best if you were to inform me as to where things stand regarding the investigation into Dean’s death."
Alderton biting her bottom lip slightly considered the request for a moment, “ As this is an active investigation, Sir, it is unfortunate we are not at liberty to discuss our progress.”
Spenser now turn in his chair to look at me, “So, it is true what I have heard? They have you playing second violin on this one Edward.”
“Whatever my part may be in Spenser, I can not help but ponder precisely in what capacity Robertson-Kirk’s presence may yet be revealed in all of this.” My ire having ever steadily risen since having been told of this reprobate’s reinstatement. “For whatever instrument you may have been given to play in this intrigue, it is Robertson-Kirk who ever is your conductor.”
“Gentlemen.” Captain Purdy said rather sternly, having relit the bowl of his pipe and once more extinguishing the flame with a flick of his wrist. “Whatever the historical antecedents are in regard to your petty grievances, I ask that we belay them. We are here to discuss matters of far graver import.” He tossed the spent match into his ashtray, “Whereas your Constable Alderton here finds herself in the unfortunate position of being unable to discuss the progress of your investigation, I find myself, owing to circumstances, in a position within which I must be far more forthcoming.”
There was a brief interlude of silence as Captain Purdy puffed at his pipe and then took a glance at the bowl to assure himself it was properly lit, “What I am about to reveal is of a highly sensitive nature and as such it’s particulars must remain for the most part within this room. “
Alderton, still standing with her arms crossed continued to hold her ground at the edge of his desk, “Most certainly.”
Purdy leaned slightly forward, “I am certain you are aware that we have agents spread throughout Europe working on various strategic operations?” He began "One of which is keyed upon German armament and manufacturing. Have you perchance seen today’s paper?”
PC Alderton glances at the boradsheet lying upon his desk, reading the upside-down sub-heading: “A paper and soap scarcity?”
“The hallmark of a well planned operation is misdirection.” Captain Purdy smiled and picked up the broadsheet folded to a section of interest as he began to read: “The Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung publishes an official reply to ‘the campaign of lies and calumnies which Germany’s enemies are directing against her financial position.’ His voice lowering for effect, “It says—The first fireship to be set at Germany was the suspension of payment of a completely unknown and unimportant Stuttgart firm; then followed the invention of the bankruptcy of the two greatest South German banks, whose names were not mentioned for several reasons. And now comes number three; ‘Essen bank fails. Krupps war-workers lose their savings,’ in sensational headlines.’ He puts the paper down, “Two feints to get to the target – and I would imagine the headlines are a bit of a sensation.”
“Friedrich Krupp AG—Germany’s premier weapons manufacturer?” Alderton inquired with some amazement.
Purdy gave her a telling look. “Of course, as reported, it is all denied,”
“The failure of this Essen Bank affects the workers at Krupp Armaments. Seeds sown for dissension.” Alderton said with a lifted brow.
“Just so.” Captain Purdy nodded in ascent.
“And this—this has something to do with Dean?” I asked.
“You see, Inspector, Pamela Dean was head clerk in the Intelligence Division. There she was privy to documents of incalculable secrecy—among which was a plan devised to put various financial operations into play so as to eventuate this effect upon Krupp’s financial position. An ingenious bit of financial misdirection to achieve, as I said, the line of sight to the intended target. Cleverly devised by a financier by the name of Thomas Harker. Thus, the whole operation was known by the designation: The Harker Memorandum.”
Alderton frowns, “You said Harker?”
“Yes.” Purdy replied evenly
“Like from the novel Dracula?”
“Dracula?” Purdy asked as he blinked somewhat quizzically,
“Let us just say that . . . it has come up a few times.” She explained.
Inspector Spencer now turned to give her a wry smile, “And I would have thought, PC Alderton, you would while away your nights with something a bit more intriguing than laying in bed reading Penny Dreadfuls?”
She looked at him in silence.
Silence which was suddenly broken by the Captain: “I am sorry I don’t see why the deuce anyone would dredge up that drivel nor why they would try to make such a connection? It’s asinine – just asinine.” He removed the pipe from between his clenched teeth, with some irritation. “Now see here—the Harker Memorandum in the wrong hands would not only reveal our involvement in effecting the financial positions of various German financial institutions, just as they have rightly accused us of doing, but it would reveal as well just how precisely we were able to do so – not to mention, putting an agent in Amsterdam—a brilliant fellow known only by Thomas Harker, codenamed Hawkins – in extreme jeopardy.”
“And Dean ?” PC Alderton pressed the question.
“Purloined the Memorandum.” It was Spencer who spoke up.
“I dare say it sounds really all too much. Dean’s been with the department going on five years. There was nothing on her confidential record when she came to us. Intelligent. Was promoted just a year ago to head clerk.” Captain Purdy began sounding too business like. “But, it’s been confirmed. Communications tying her directly to Dierks & Co, which we know to be a cover for the Nachrichtenabteilung. German Navy’s secret service.”
“And they have traced the telegraphs to her accomplice as well." Spenser added.
’You seem to be well informed this morning Detective Spenser." I said with annoyance.
He remained reticent to look at me, not turning as he spoke to correct me, “Detective Inspector.”
Alderton glanced at him then back to Purdy, “Her accomplice being?’
“Another bit of bad business.” Purdy said with some ire, “Which is why I called you here today. His name is Lieutenant Bradley McFarlane. I am more than certain he gulled the girl into it. We believe he has the documents in question.”
Alderton removed her casebook and began to make a note, “Is that McFarlane with an ‘a’ or without.”
“Without.” Spencer answered for the Captain. It was becoming decidedly obvious that Spencer either had some confidence with the Purdy or someone else at the Admiralty.
Purdy was definite as he took the pipe from his mouth and cocked it at Alderton. “I need you to find and arrest Lieutenant Bradley McFarlane for espionage."
“We will certainly find this man, and bring him in for questioning.” She told him.
“I would look to him for murder as well.” Spenser added drily.
I then stepped forward, “This is the estimate of the reasoning for her dismemberment?”
“He cut her up to throw you off the trail – to have you looking for a madman. Something the yard is wont to do with little success." Spencer still sitting with his back to me.
“Please do try to be civil Mr Spenser.” Alderton admonished.
“Civil?” He all but sneered, “A fellow officer lies in the Dead House, a bullet in his brain placed there by this McFarlane.”
“And I chased down his killer with his blood and brains upon my uniform.” She replied, controlling her voice but not the glare in her eyes.
Spenser rose and looked at us with a wintry smile, "Which is all very admirable – but sadly—he got away.” He then looked to me, “But the facts are clear. Whether via monetary inducement or romantic enticement, he got the poor girl to steal the documents. And when he was burned? He then set about adherence to some exit protocol. The disposal of Dean in grisly fashion to toss off the scent. Then was in preparation of securing her flat of any incrimination when he was interrupted by Cotford. And yourselves.”
“I would say there was more of the rookery than of the military in the man whom we encountered.” I strongly observed as the intruder in Dean’s flat certainly did not measure up to have been an officer working within the Admiralty.
“Then there are more accomplices.” Purdy said rather testily. “There are agents of N freely moving about the city. It is for this reason I have need of the police, both the Metropolitan and City. And with the Metropolitan’s sad track record for apprehending a madman with a knife – I would spend less time in rancour with officials of the City Police. I can not impress upon you the need to bring this McFarlane to heel.’
Pc Alderton lifted a brow and stood her position, “As these are but accusations, Sir, I can assure you we will find McFarlane and bring him in for questioning and then press charges accordingly.”
The very auditable drop of Purdy’s pipe into the ashtray was his sudden response, “Have I not made myself at all clear constable? There is no questioning about it. To have brought in civilian law enforcement upon such a matter as the security of the nation is something in your estimation would be done lightly? Is this the same reasoning that allowed your forces to let a maniac make a blood bath of the Whitechapel streets? I have called you here to have you do your damn jobs. Not to make fine distinctions or rehash old acrimonies. Do I make myself clear?”
Alderton rose in my considered appraisal as she responded, “Is there anything else you need to add Captain Purdy?”
“Yes. As this whole conversation is classified, I must warn you—none of this can be made public. As far as the official scope of this investigation, it is in concern of the death of Miss Dean and of Detective Cotford.”
“As Cotford’s death is under our jurisdiction, I can assure you sir he will be found and brought to justice.” Inspector Spencer informed Purdy, as he stood before his desk with a hand in his pocket, and I suspect any number of others so co-located. “As a City Detective has been killed by a suspect considered armed and dangerous, we shall respond in kind. Word has been given to bare arms and if necessary we shall shoot to kill."
Purdy picked up his pipe again and opened a desk drawer to remove a pouch of tobacco so as to refill the contents spilled from his pique, “Well, Inspector, do what is necessary.”
I looked at Alderton, “We have quite a lengthy to do list PC Alderton, I think it best we say good day.”
Excerpt from the unpublished novel by Carmichael Pemberton
On the roof, Randall removed a brick from a chimney. The brick has been carved away on the inside, leaving a small empty space. Randall carefully placed the key he found in the hidden space, on top of a small stack of 10 pound notes. He then replaced the brick.
Picking up the last bit of his cheese sandwich, he swallowed it whole, dusted off his fingers, and watched from the roof as the coppers below crossed the square toward the Adams Screen. In particular, he watched the City Inspector pass out the gate to the street and get into a car and drive, presumably back to the city.
Breathing a sigh of relief, he opened the door and descended the stairs back in from the cold.
Walking back through the building, now beginning to bustle with busy naval officers back from their own lunch breaks, Randall passed Sub-Lieutenant R____ . “Afternoon sir.” He said with a salute.
Sub-Lieutenant R____ nods and whispers out of the side of his mouth, “We need to talk—it is worse than you imagined.”
He whispers back “6:00, The Turks Head”.
R____ nods and continued down the corridor smiling at an attractive girl just stepping out of an office, who smiled back and slipped the stub of a pencil into her hair just above her ear.
Randall continued back to Room 40 where he prepared to begin the actual work for the day.