The corridor was full of people, though, spilling in from the gallery overlooking the rotunda; fortunately they were intent on their own business (canoodling--though how the American magazines mean it, rather than the activity for which I'd adopted the word for my personal use) and didn't pay any attention to me and my unorthodox attire. Well, one person noticed: at the far end of the corridor was Pond, standing in an elaborately casual manner in front of the door into the Faringdons' rooms and eyeing my muddy boots with horror.
"I wasn't expecting you to stand guard, Pond," I said as I came up to him.
"I deemed it wise, my lord," he responded, his eyes still riveted to the poor boots, "Until we know why and by whom Lord Faringdgon was killed, I think we can assume that Lady Faringdon and her servants are targets as well."
"Well, certainly, that's why I asked for you to be informed. Are you armed or anything?"
"No, my lord, but I have been carrying things up here for Lady Faringdon so her servants don't have to come out, and to make sure nothing poisoned is brought in."
"I guess I'd better go in and talk to Dotty, pay condolences and all," I sighed, not looking forward to the encounter; Pond opened the door for me and I passed into the little passageway connecting the dressing-room and bedroom, knocking on the bedroom door, "Dotty? It's Foxy, may I come in?"
"Oh, Foxy," she pulled me into the room and threw her arms around my neck, "This is terrible, what are we going to do?"
"I honestly don't know, Dotty," patted her on the back, "I'll call Silenus first thing in the morning, he'll know how to handle the police here."
"I didn't mean about the police," she let go of me and stalked over to the side-table where a box of cigarettes stood. She was wearing a dark-blue velvet pajama sort of outfit with mink trim, and looked terrifically glamourous as she lit a cigarette and stalked around the room some more, "I mean about who killed Jingo and whether or not that person intends to come after me, and poor Stephen and Nadia."
"Stephen and...?" the names threw me off, though I figured out she meant the servants before I finished the query. They were huddled together on a settee next to the roaring fire, the young valet weeping and the Gypsy maid comforting him, "You'll be safe here. Pond can keep an eye out for Massingale tonight, since they're rooming together, and Wickson can stay here with you. We'll figure out something long-term tomorrow."
"Thank Pond for us, he's been extremely kind this evening," Dotty stopped stalking and looked suddenly scared and weak, "How am I going to go on without him, Foxy?"
"I don't know," I responded again, feeling terrifically inadequate, "I'm sure you'll manage somehow."
"Yes, I suppose I will," she gave me a long, sad look, "I always manage. But I loved him, I really did."
"I'm sorry," I didn't really understand what I was supposed to say: this wasn't your ordinary sort of condolence call, there was no formula for it.
"Thank you, Foxy," she sighed heavily and sat down on the elaborate couch in the middle of the room, "You'd better go, now. I expect you missed dinner, you should go get something to eat. Thank you so much for all your help."
"If there's anything at all I can do, just holler," I said, edging out of the door, "I'm going to take Pond with me for a bit, but he'll be back shortly."
"How is her ladyship?" Pond asked when I came out of the room.
"She's seems to be doing well enough," I replied, "She has a lot of toughness in her. I'm starving, do you think you could get me something to eat?"
"I've already arranged supper in your room, my lord," he walked along the corridor with me.
"Thank you, Pond. If you could help me get these boots off, you can take Massingale back down to the servants' hall and get some rest."
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