'I seem suddenly to have developed a warm, almost affectionate, feeling for Dom Augustin Calmet,' Genevieve said. Beauregard was amused.
In the cab on the way back to Whitechapel, she was close beside him. Clayton, engaged for the night, knew where they were going. After his unexpected trip to Limehouse, Beauregard was happy to be driven about London by someone he knew to be in the employ of the Diogenes Club.
'Many brilliant men struck their contemporaries as mad.'
'I don't have any contemporaries,' she said. 'Except Vlad Tepes, and I've never met him.'
'You follow my reasoning, though?'
Genevieve's eyes flashed. 'Of course Charles...'
She had the habit of using his Christian name. In another that might be unseemly, but it was absurd to insist on arbitrary rules of address with a woman old enough to be his ten-times great grandmother.
'It is possible the murders are experiments,' she continued. 'Dr Knox needed dead bodies, and wasn't too scrupulous where he got them; Dr Jekyll and Dr Moreau need un-dead bodies, and could quite conceivably not be above harvesting them from the streets of Whitechapel.'
'Moreau was mixed up in a vivisection scandal a few years ago. Something particularly revolting involving a skinned dog.'
'I can believe it. Inside his white coat, he's a cave-dweller.'
'And he is a man of some strength. Expert with the bullwhip, they say. He's knocked about the world a great deal.'
'But you don't think he's our murderer?'
Beauregard was mildly surprised to be so anticipated. 'I do not. For one thing, he is reckoned a surgeon of genius.'
'And Jack the Ripper knows his way about the insides of a body, but trawls through entrails with the finesse of a drunken pork butcher.'
He was used to having to explain his reasoning. It was refreshing, if not a little alarming, to be with someone who could keep up with him.
'Could he deliberately botch the job to throw off suspicion?' she asked, then answering herself, 'No, if Moreau were stark mad enough to murder for an experiment, he wouldn't jeopardise his findings with intentional carelessness. If he were our Ripper, he'd abduct the victims and remove them to a private place where he could operate at his leisure.'
'The girls were all killed where they were found.'
'And swiftly, in a frenzy. No "scientific method".'
The vampire bit her lip, and was for an instant the image of a serious sixteen-year-old in a dress made for an older and more frivolous sister. Then the ancient mind was back.
'So Dr Jekyll is your suspect?'
'He is a biological chemist, not an anatomist. I'm not at all up on the field, but I've been wrestling with his articles. He has some odd ideas. "On the Composition of Vampire Tissue" was his last piece.'
Genevieve considered the possibilities. 'It's hard to imagine, though. Next to Moreau, he seems so... so harmless. He reminds me of a clergyman. And he is old. I can't picture him dashing about the streets by night, much less possessing the sheer strength the Ripper must have.'
'But there's something there.'
She thought a moment. 'Yes, you're right. There is something there. I don't think Henry Jekyll is Jack the Ripper. But there is an indefinably peculiar quality about him.'
Beauregard was grimly pleased to have his suspicions confirmed.
'He'll bear watching.'
'Charles, are you employing me as a bloodhound?'
'I suppose I am. Do you mind?'
'Woof woof,' she said, giggling. When she laughed, her upper lip drew back ferociously from sharp teeth. 'Remember not to trust me. I used to say the war would be over by winter.'
'The Hundred Years' War.'
'One year, I was right. By then, I didn't care any more. I think I was in Spain.'
'You were French originally. Why don't you live there?'
'France was English then. That was what they said the war was about.'
'So you were on our side?'
'Most definitely not. But it was a long time ago, and in another country, and that girl is long gone.'
'Whitechapel is a strange place to find you.'
'I'm not the only French girl in Whitechapel. Half the filles de joie on the streets call themselves "Fifi La Tour".'
He laughed again.
'Your family must have been French too, Monsieur Beauregard, and you reside in Cheyne Walk.'
'It was good enough for Carlyle.'
'I met Carlyle once. And many others. The great and the good, the mad and the bad. I used to fear someone would track me down by correlating all the mentions of me in memoirs through the ages. Track me down and destroy me. That used to be the worst that could happen. My friend Carmilla was tracked down and destroyed. She was a soppy girl, fearfully dependent on her warm lovers, but she didn't deserve to be speared and beheaded, then left to float in a coffin full of her own blood. I suppose I don't have to worry about that dread dark fate any more.'
'What have you been doing all these years?'
She shrugged. 'I don't know. Running? Waiting? Trying to do the right thing? Am I a good person, do you think? Or a bad person?'
She did not expect an answer. Her mix of melancholy and bitter came out as amusing. He supposed being amusing was her way of coping. She must be as weighted with centuries as Jacob Marley was with chains.
'Cheer up, old girl,' he said. 'Henry Jekyll thinks you're perfect.'
'It's just an expression.'
Genevieve hummed sadly. 'It's me exactly, isn't it though? An old girl.'
What was it she made him feel? He was nervous near her, but excited. It was much like being in danger, and he had trained himself to be cool under fire. When he was with Genevieve, it was like sharing a secret. What would Pamela have thought of his vampire? She had been perceptive: even with agony knifing into her, she could not be lied to. To the end, he told her that she would be all right, that she would see home again. Pamela shook away his assurances and demanded he listen. For Pamela, dying was hard: she was angry, not with the fool doctor, but with herself, angry that her body had failed her, was failing their baby. Her fury burned like a fever. Gripping her hand, he could feel it. She died with something unsaid; ever since, he had been picking at the scab, wondering if there was anything to understand, wondering what the urgent thought was, the thought Pamela was not able at the last to force into words.
'"I love you."'
Genevieve's cheeks were dewed with tears. For once, she seemed younger than her face.
'That's what she was saying, Charles. "I love you." That's all.'
Angered, he gripped the handle of his cane and thumbed the catch. An inch of silver shone. Genevieve gasped.
'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry,' she said, leaning against him. 'I'm not like that, really. I don't pry. It's...' She was weeping freely, tears spotting her velvet collar. 'It was so clear, Charles,' she insisted, shaking her head and smiling at the same time. 'It came spilling from your mind. Usually, impressions are vague. For once, I had a perfect picture. I knew. What you felt... oh Lord, Charles, I'm so sorry, I didn't know what I was doing, please forgive me... and what she felt. It was a voice, cutting like a knife. What was her name?'
'Pen...' he swallowed. 'Pamela. My wife, Pamela.'
'Pamela. Yes, Pamela. I could hear her voice.'
Her cold hands latched upon his, forcing his cane shut. Genevieve's face was close. Red specks swam in the corners of her eyes.
'You're a medium?'
'No, no, no. You've carried the moment around with you, nurturing the hurt. It's in you, there to be read.'
He knew she was right. He should have known what Pamela was saying. He had not let himself hear. Beauregard had taken Pamela to India. He knew the risk. He should have sent her home when they found she was with child. But a crisis arose and she insisted on staying. She insisted, but he let her insist; he did not force her back to England. He was weak to let her stay. He did not deserve to understand her at the last. He did not deserve to be loved.
Genevieve was smiling through tears. 'There was no blame, Charles. She was angry. But not with you.'
'I never thought...'
'Well, I never consciously thought...'
She raised a finger and laid it against his face. Taking it away, she held it up before him. A tear stood out. He took a handkerchief, and wiped his eyes.
'I know what she was angry with, Charles. Death. Of all people, I understand. I think I would have liked, would have loved, your wife.'
Genevieve touched her finger to her tongue, and shuddered slightly. Vampires could drink tears.
What Pamela would have thought of Genevieve hardly mattered. What was important, he realised with a gaping in his stomach, was what Penelope would think...
'I really didn't mean for all this to happen,' she said. 'You must think me fearfully wet.'
She took his handkerchief, and dabbed her own eyes dry. She looked at the damp-spotted cloth.
'Well, well,' she said. 'Salt water.'
He was puzzled.
'Usually, I cry blood. It's not very attractive. All teeth and rat-tails, like a proper nosferatu.'
Now, he took her hand. The pain of memory was passing; somehow, he was stronger.
'Genevieve, you consistently underestimate yourself. Remember, I know for a fact that you don't know what you look like.'
'I can remember a girl with feet like a duck's, and lips that don't match. Pretty eyes, though. I'm not sure, but I hope that was my sister. Her name was Cirielle; she married the brother of a Marshal of France and died a grandmother.'
She was sharp again, in control of herself. Only the slight flush on her neck betrayed any emotion, and that was fading like ice in sunlight.
'By now my family must have spread over the globe, like Christianity. I expect everybody alive is related to me somehow.'
He tried to laugh but she was serious again.
'I don't like myself when I gush, Charles. I apologise for having embarrassed you.'
Beauregard shook his head. Something had broken between them, but he was not sure whether it had been a bond or a barrier.
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