“Of course, sir, a tisane is perfect for this time of day.” Selkirk’s training meant no hint of a smile crossed his face as he walked slowly towards the kitchen, allowing Mr. Tompkins to be alone with the book for a decent amount of time.
Tompkins knew Selkirk knew what he was doing, but Tompkins also knew that Selkirk had the book to hand as soon as it became appropriate to introduce the subject. He must suspect someone but would let Tompkins find out who. Tompkins sat down on a blue sofa with a view of a George Stubbs painting, but had eyes only for the contents of the ledger. He delved into the centre and was astounded to see the number of visitors The Dapper One had received in the past month alone. However, Tompkins felt sure that the visitors he was looking for would have arrived after the death of Stalky Stark.
He scanned the appropriate page and as expected saw names he knew. Spinky Mills was in there along with Toby, Hugo, Roddy, Smudge, a Mr. Steeple, and Dr. Black. Miss Scarlett’s name also featured as well as Rev Green’s on the same day, though not at the same time. Mr. Steeple was not a name he recognised.
“Spinky visited Dapper Dan after Stalky Stark’s demise. Who was here at the same time as those two fine fellows?” Tompkins asked himself. There was a time for when people had arrived and when they departed. Someone was diligent. Tompkins suspected Selkirk had filled in the departure time as he would always be available should Dapper Dan require him.
When Selkirk returned with the Goji Berry tisane, Tompkins had written down a few pertinent facts.
“Ah, goji berries, one of my favourites,” said Tompkins inhaling deeply and rubbing his hands.
Selkirk had placed the Meissen tea cup on a silver salver. He put this on the table to the right of Tompkins as he knew his visitor was right-handed.
“Thank you, Selkirk, now my good man, please sit down on the sofa and tell me about this gentleman here,” said Tompkins pointing at the name Mr. Steeple, “I know no one of this name and I wasn’t aware Mr. Dan knew anyone called this, so can you please describe him?”
Selkirk declined the invitation to sit but smiled at Mr. Tompkins’s question.
“Well, Mr. Tompkins, Mr. Steeple was someone I had never encountered before. He came with the Rev Green and was an English country gentleman by his countenance and manners. They took tea with Mr. Dan and Mr. Mills.”
“Did Dan know this Mr. Steeple before he turned up with the Rev Green?”
“I don’t believe he did given the introductions that went on when Mr. Steeple arrived at the house.”
“Interesting, Selkirk, I wonder who this Mr. Steeple is and how he knows the Rev Green. Is he a member of the church?”
“He wore no sign of following in that profession, Mr. Tompkins. I think the two gentlemen knew each other from university.”
“I was up at the same time as Rev Green and I remember no one called Steeple in my circle of friends.”
“Well, Mr. Tompkins I believe they have known each other for many years.”
“I am sure you’re right, Selkirk, can you describe Mr. Steeple?”
“He is about 6 feet tall, slim build, and ginger hair with a few freckles and quite a high-pitched laugh.”
“Really? Sounds like old Bunny Stephens, who was at university with both myself and Rev Green, but why would he call himself Mr. Steeple unless he was trying to be undercover?”
“I can’t help you there, Mr. Tompkins, anyway Mr. Mills seemed to know him.”