He had the special peculiarity of some birds of prey, that when he knitted his brow, his ruffled crest stood highest.
'You did not find all these yourself; did you?' asked Eugene.
To which the bird of prey slowly rejoined, 'And what might YOUR name be, now?'
'This is my friend,' Mortimer Lightwood interposed; 'Mr Eugene Wrayburn.'
'Mr Eugene Wrayburn, is it? And what might Mr Eugene Wrayburn have asked of me?'
'I asked you, simply, if you found all these yourself?'
'I answer you, simply, most on 'em.'
'Do you suppose there has been much violence and robbery, beforehand, among these cases?'
'I don't suppose at all about it,' returned Gaffer. 'I ain't one of the supposing sort. If you'd got your living to haul out of the river every day of your life, you mightn't be much given to supposing. Am I to show the way?'
As he opened the door, in pursuance of a nod from Lightwood, an extremely pale and disturbed face appeared in the doorway--the face of a man much agitated.
'A body missing?' asked Gaffer Hexam, stopping short; 'or a body found? Which?'
'I am lost!' replied the man, in a hurried and an eager manner.
'I--I--am a stranger, and don't know the way. I--I--want to find the place where I can see what is described here. It is possible I may know it.' He was panting, and could hardly speak; but, he showed a copy of the newly-printed bill that was still wet upon the wall. Perhaps its newness, or perhaps the accuracy of his observation of its general look, guided Gaffer to a ready conclusion.
'This gentleman, Mr Lightwood, is on that business.'
During a pause, Mortimer and the stranger confronted each other. Neither knew the other.
'I think, sir,' said Mortimer, breaking the awkward silence with his airy self-possession, 'that you did me the honour to mention my name?'
'I repeated it, after this man.'
'You said you were a stranger in London?'
'An utter stranger.'
'Are you seeking a Mr Harmon?'
'Then I believe I can assure you that you are on a fruitless errand, and will not find what you fear to find. Will you come with us?'
A little winding through some muddy alleys that might have been deposited by the last ill-savoured tide, brought them to the wicket- gate and bright lamp of a Police Station; where they found the Night-Inspector, with a pen and ink, and ruler, posting up his books in a whitewashed office, as studiously as if he were in a monastery on top of a mountain, and no howling fury of a drunken woman were banging herself against a cell-door in the back-yard at his elbow. With the same air of a recluse much given to study, he desisted from his books to bestow a distrustful nod of recognition upon Gaffer, plainly importing, 'Ah! we know all about YOU, and you'll overdo it some day;' and to inform Mr Morrimer Lightwood and friends, that he would attend them immediately. Then, he finished ruling the work he had in hand (it might have been illuminating a missal, he was so calm), in a very neat and methodical manner, showing not the slightest consciousness of the woman who was banging herself with increased violence, and shrieking most terrifically for some other woman's liver.
'A bull's-eye,' said the Night-Inspector, taking up his keys. Which a deferential satellite produced. 'Now, gentlemen.'
With one of his keys, he opened a cool grot at the end of the yard, and they all went in. They quickly came out again, no one speaking but Eugene: who remarked to Mortimer, in a whisper, 'Not MUCH worse than Lady Tippins.'
So, back to the whitewashed library of the monastery--with that liver still in shrieking requisition, as it had been loudly, while they looked at the silent sight they came to see--and there through the merits of the case as summed up by the Abbot. No clue to how body came into river. Very often was no clue. Too late to know for certain, whether injuries received before or after death; one excellent surgical opinion said, before; other excellent surgical opinion said, after.