A couple days later than anticipated, but here it is:
Prescott returned home early late Sunday evening. He had spent the bulk of the night chasing down Molly Cobble’s list of lovers. His feet ached from too much walking, so his first order of business was to remove his boots. He placed them side by side near the door; his uniform boots were well-shined, while the boots he kept for leisure still bore mud from his last trek through a bog with his friend Lawrence. Wandering into the bedroom, Prescott removed his uniform and changed into a nightshirt. As he disrobed, he considered the men he had spoken with.
Jason Glass came from a family of brass-makers; they had become fairly successful, seeing as the call for the low-friction metal was so hearty. Young and brash, the man did not recall who Molly was at first, but soon came around when Prescott mentioned she was dead. Sitting in the family’s well-stocked library, Prescott spoke with Glass at length.
“Dead, then. You don’t think I had something to do with that? She was a gold-digger, yes, but I’ve left her far behind. Our time together was a fling, a folly of youth.” Prescott thought that Glass’ behaviour was quite suspicious, and he pressed on with the questioning.
“Where were you late Saturday evening and early this morning?” asked Prescott. He wanted to make the conversation seem casual, but to the point. Glass considered the question, evidenced by his squinting eyes and furrowed brow.
“If you can keep this quiet, and I know you can. You are a man of the law, and if I can’t trust you, who might I trust?” He smiled like a simpleton and continued, saying “I am still young, you see. Still full of energy. Well, I’m embarrassed to say that I was exerting some of those energies with a member of my father’s staff, if you follow.”
“Well, if you will tell me who she is, I will keep the matter discrete,” promised Prescott. Glass shifted in his chair, seemingly uncomfortable.
“I can’t tell you that. There would be too much trouble for me. Can’t we just leave it at that?” asked Glass, one of his eyebrows arcing upward. He seemed pathetic and childish. Prescott had his fill, and decided to be direct.
“You can tell me who it is, or I can ask around and find out myself. I can guarantee that the latter will be much more of a hardship than the former. Tell me who she is now, and I will keep it close to my chest. I vow that as long as it maintains your innocence, I will keep this girl’s name a secret between we two.” Jason sighed, his eyes rolling dramatically.
“I can’t tell you the girl’s name, because it is not a girl,” confessed Jason. A shock chased down Prescott’s spine, causing even his whiskers to stand on end. He knew that the wealthy classes espoused bizarre lifestyles, but he wouldn’t have thought that Jason Glass was a homosexual. He seemed to be a normal man, and had even had relations with a woman.
“Didn’t you enter a relationship with Molly Cobble?” asked the Inspector.
“Then why would you enter a relationship with a man. All of this seems very…” Prescott searched for his words for a second, but Glass interrupted.
“Yes, I suppose. Strange. Abnormal.”
“I suppose you would think it strange. Unless you’ve had feelings like these, then you could not understand them.” Jason’s words dripped with righteousness. For the first time since Prescott laid eyes on him, Glass didn’t appear to be an idiot.
“Be that as it may, I need someone that can corroborate your alibi. As long as justice allows, I will keep your affairs between us.”
“It is Alfred, the junior in the kitchen staff. He and I were together for the whole evening, until dawn.” said Jason, beaming.
“Well, if you can show me to this man, I can conclude my questioning here.”
“I will have someone bring him here,” said Jason, perhaps a bit too anxious.
“No. I will go to him. Is he in the kitchen?”
“He may be. I cannot predict.” Jason’s manner became cold, like a child who just lost his toy.
The Inspector made his way to the kitchens and was shocked to find that Alfred looked to be no more than fifteen. Prescott’s conversation with the boy was brief. Alfred was distraught when the inspector asked if he knew where Glass was overnight, and he paled when Prescott asked about his relationship.
“I thought that doing that would help me, sir.” admitted the boy. “I thought that if I could get an in with that bugger, I could find myself in a comfortable place, you know. But now all he talks about is how he wants to give up everything for me. What good is that? I don’t want to get it in the bum nightly just to live in a hovel.”
Prescott’s face reddened. He found the boy’s flippant attitude offensive. He was willing to accept Glass’ position, but Alfred simply offended the inspector’s morals. He dismissed the lad, and considered telling Jason about the boy’s plot, but thought better of it. A lover could never accept that the object of their affection could be so devious. The inspector concluded that his warning would fall on deaf ears. He would let it be.
However, he couldn’t dismiss Jason Glass as a suspect. Perhaps Molly Cobble had learned about Glass’ orientation and threatened to out him before he was ready. Or, perhaps, she had some sway over Alfred? Either way, Glass could have access to the device that was used on Molly Cobble: coming from a family of brass-makers, he’d have the resources and contacts that could allow him to get his hands on something like McKay’s trephine.