The Man in the Blue Cravat – Part Two
By the time it turned three, I was fully frozen and planned to return to No. 6 to both warm myself and check in on Constable Fields. The chill was so strong, though, that paused at a nearby fire kept up for the workers. Rubbing my hands together and observing the ebb and flow of the men, life and some of my wits came back to me.
That was no doubt why I spotted a small group of men loitering nearby. Staring at them, I recalled that during all my questioning and running about the docks, these men had never been far from the fire but always far from the labor. Whenever a dockman had come to warm himself, these men retreated from the flames like scavengers from a kill when the lion approaches.
These beggars – for that was what they must be – stood near some cast aside lumber, eager for me to depart. As in Finch St., such men made natural witnesses, but when I strode over to them, a hunched, twisted fellow with a scraggly beard spoke first.
“Oh, let us be.”
“I’m afraid that –”
“You ‘ere to tell us off, ain’t ya?” the man’s voice sounded like a grind of rusted gears, “Can’t let an old man warm hisself, can ya? We ain’t doin’ no harm. Not like we can nick the fire or nothin’.”
“I think you misunderstand. I’m Detective Sergeant Pinnocke, and I have a few questions.”
Even in the cold damp, the men shivered anew at this revelation, save for the ringleader. He became even more taciturn.
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