“Now, Selkirk, don’t go blaming yourself,” said Tompkins, who’d seen the wave of realisation pass through Selkirk like a small seismic shock, “I want you to promise me you won’t blame yourself. Mr. Dan was a grown man and you can’t be there for him like a nanny in case he fell over and grazed his knee. You need to sleep and if he comes home when you’re asleep, that’s his affair. I know Dan holds nothing against you, Selkirk, nothing whatsoever. Do you hear?”

        “I do, sir, thank you, sir, I am still not sure what will happen to me, but it’s wrong of me to think about myself when Mr. Dan is on a cold slab somewhere.”

        “I don’t blame you, Selkirk, for thinking about your future – if needs be you could come over to Aunt Jemima’s and take over things there – heaven knows we need someone to organise the place.”

        “That’s kind of you, Mr. Tompkins, but it’s possible the family might want to retain me for anyone who comes to live here.”

        “Yes, that withstanding, my offer still holds, Selkirk, anyhow I should go and see Spinky’s place before the police get there and spoil things.”

        Selkirk bowed deeply to Mr. Tompkins – “Can I say, Mr. Tompkins, it has been an absolute pleasure to know you and I hope to see you again soon.”

        Tompkins shook Selkirk by the hand, causing the man to overbalance, before seeing himself out of the house. The wind had picked up and the clouds promised rain as Tompkins bounded down the steps and turned left towards Spinky Mills’ place on the edge of Fitzrovia. Tompkins liked walking around in this part of London as the buildings were redolent of a time when Britain, or more accurately in Tompkins’s option England, ruled the world and didn’t need to have lots of interlopers clogging up the streets and filling all the low-paying positions in society.