The Gilded Hour Page 128

When Oscar said yes, he did need to go over every detail, Graham looked uncomfortable for the first time. His manner changed and his gaze shifted to Anna, as if he preferred to talk to a male physician about such things. It had to do with his training, something Anna could mention later.

When he paused Oscar said, “Tell me what you said and what she said, to the best of your memory.”

“I said who I was, and I asked her to lie flat on her back so I could examine her. She just turned her head, wouldn’t say anything. I asked a lot of questions about the pain and when it had started. I asked if she had had an operation, but she didn’t say one word. The only sound she made was crying out when I palpated her abdomen.

“So I opened the door and called to the driver he should bring the stretcher, and he did, and we got her off the bed and onto it. She didn’t say a word to me.”

Oscar’s head turned toward him, quite sharply.

“Did she say a word to somebody else?”

Graham looked flustered. “Mrs. Stone was talking to her, the way people do in that kind of situation. She said, ‘Oh no, oh no, Janine,’ and ‘My poor girl,’ and ‘It was too much,’ and other things like that. And she touched her, her face, and stroked her hair. I think Mrs. Campbell might have said a few words back, then, but I couldn’t say for sure. We were trying to maneuver the stretcher through the little hall, and the floor was slippery with blood. The last I remember of Mrs. Stone was her standing in the door, her hands clutched to herself—” He demonstrated. “She was weeping, quiet but weeping a waterfall. Then in the ambulance Mrs. Campbell spoke to me direct for the first time. She said she wanted to be taken to the New Amsterdam. She grabbed onto my sleeve hard, and said it twice, Dr. Savard at the New Amsterdam. And that’s what we did.”

“She didn’t talk to you otherwise?”

“I was surprised she managed that much, in her condition. She didn’t say anything more.”

“And where was Mrs. Campbell’s purse in all of this?”

Graham blinked, confused. “Her purse?”

“Was her purse on the stretcher with her?”

“I don’t—”

“Mrs. Campbell had more than a thousand dollars in her purse that has never been recovered. What became of that money, do you think?”

Neill Graham’s mouth fell open. People often described such things, but Anna couldn’t remember ever seeing someone’s jaw drop. The color left his face, and his gaze jerked from Oscar to Jack and then to Anna. She did her best to keep her expression neutral.

“Are you asking—” he said, and stopped. “Are you saying—”

“I think I was clear. Mrs. Campbell had a thousand dollars with her that day, and that money disappeared.”

Now Graham’s color came back in a rush. “I took nothing. There wasn’t anything to take. She didn’t have any purse or satchel with her. I didn’t see a single coin, and I certainly didn’t take anything. Are you charging me with a crime?”

Jack stood up. “If you allow us to search your room, that will go some way to clearing you.” He shook his head when Graham got to his feet. “I’ll ask Mrs. Jennings to show me to your room, and she can stand by and watch. But you need to stay here.”

“I’ll come along with you,” Oscar said. He looked at Anna, as somber as she had ever experienced him. “Will you sit here with Dr. Graham?”

“Yes,” Anna said. “Gladly.”

When they were the only two left in the parlor Neill Graham buried his face in his hands and rocked forward, a man in shock. When he looked at her again his eyes were red-rimmed.

“This will be the end of my career,” he said hoarsely. “It doesn’t matter that I’m innocent; if word gets out, I’m finished.”

Anna thought of many things she could say. First and foremost was the simple truth: he was correct. But it was also true that Jack and Oscar didn’t really suspect Neill Graham of anything. Anna understood that they were staging a drama in the hope that unsettling the young man would jog his memory and he would remember exactly what Mrs. Campbell said to Mrs. Stone.

Finally she poured more tea into his cup, a gesture that he might take for sympathy or understanding.

He said, “Dr. Savard—”

Jack and Oscar were back, followed by Mrs. Jennings, whose hands were fluttering like birds.

“Clean as a whistle,” Jack said. He looked at Anna and tilted his head to the door. She glanced at Graham, who had once again lost control over his jaw. He got to his feet, his knee knocking the side table so that the cups and saucers clattered.

“You’re not charging me with anything?”

Oscar took his hat off the coatrack and turned to smile, as if the entire conversation had never happened. “Nothing to charge you with, Dr. Graham. You did your best with poor Mrs. Campbell. Thank you for your time. Wait. One more thing.”

He gave a thoughtful pause. “When you last saw Mrs. Stone standing in front of the house with her hands folded on her breast, what was she holding?”

Graham blinked and blinked again. “A purse,” he said. “A black purse.”

“And where did the purse come from?”

A silent shake of the head. “I swear I don’t know.”

“Fair enough. Thank you, Dr. Graham.”

Anna said, “Stop by and see me at the New Amsterdam, if you are interested in observing my surgeries. I think we can arrange something.”

She wondered if that would be enough to soothe the sting and if he would be brave enough to take her up on her offer. Many of his colleagues at Bellevue would disapprove.

•   •   •

IN THE CAB she said, “Really, was that necessary?”

The men looked at her silently.

“All right,” Anna said. “Maybe it was. But I didn’t like it.”

“Neither did I, believe it or not,” said Oscar.

Anna hummed under her breath. After a moment she asked, “Did you get anything useful out of that?”

“A purse,” Jack said. “That’s something no one mentioned before. We’ll go talk to Mrs. Stone. Should we drop you off at home first?”

“I think she wants to come along,” said Oscar. “Don’t you, Anna?”

It was the first time he had called her by her familiar name. It was cheeky, but it was also a compliment.

“You are right. I’d like to see what comes of this purse business. Do I understand correctly that you don’t really suspect anyone of taking the money? This is more a way of getting your foot in the door.”

Oscar elbowed Jack, who elbowed him back. Jack said, “You don’t have to prove to me that she’s got a brain. I knew that the first time I saw her.”

Anna leaned back to watch the sky out of the cab’s small window. Still full light at seven. She should be tired after such a long day, but there was a humming in her, a sense of the unanticipated. She was in the company of two good men who saw things she did not, and valued the things she saw.

•   •   •

THE CAMPBELL HOUSE was on one of the small, crooked lanes that seemed designed to confuse strangers. A few small houses, a couple of ancient cottages that had probably been built when the whole area was pasture or farmland, one newer tenement. Archer Campbell’s house was one of the newer houses but locked up tight, no sign of life despite Oscar’s hammering at doors both front and rear.

Anna sat on the edge of the porch while the men consulted. She was a little relieved about this sudden halt to their plans, and wondered at herself that she had been so eager to come along. Now that she was here, even the thought of the man was a challenge to her professional demeanor.

The truth was, Campbell wasn’t going to be any different today or tomorrow or ten years down the road than he had been on the stand, full of righteous indignation, convinced that he was the best of husbands and fathers. No doubt he would marry again, and probably soon. Certainly he’d have no trouble finding a wife; there were hundreds of women in the city who would give anything for a home of their own. This modest house would look like paradise to an unmarried daughter in a poor household. As it had once looked to Janine, no doubt.

She caught movement from the corner of her eye and saw a woman peeking out from behind the curtains across the way.

“Is Mrs. Stone in the house across the street?”

Jack turned. “She is.”

“I ask because somebody is watching you from the parlor windows.”

She got up to follow Jack, with Oscar trailing behind. A shawl would have been a good idea; her prettiest summer dress was not quite the thing for a call like this one. Maybe she should have gone home, after all. With that thought she realized that she was dreading this conversation. What she remembered of Mrs. Stone on the stand was her willingness to speak her mind and what seemed like real sorrow about Janine Campbell’s death, and they had nothing new to offer her, no information that might relieve her mind.

Then the door opened to Jack’s knock and a man stood there, rotund, his face as pink as a ham, a great shock of white hair and white eyebrows so long that they fell over his eyes like curtains. He had a sweet but vacant smile, a little confused but welcoming.

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