The Chewar was the cattle trader’s route into the market. The narrow alley would funnel the livestock into single file, allowing the marketmen to more easily control them. Permission for the light halfway down had been given to dissuade women of ill repute from gathering in the evenings after the cattle had left. It was an open secret that the light had made no notable difference.
Jeeves was not surprised that the woman who’d wanted to meet the drinking, poaching Mr Sear at Trolly Hall – was also the type who frequented The Chewar.
Edith, for once, hadn’t lied to Jeeves and Anna was there. She was tall with an attractive if world-weary face. She wasn’t intimidated by the Sergeant, although it took him a while to assure her he had no intention of either arresting her or using her services. As he bluntly informed her that her client Mr Sear was dead, Jeeves was shocked to realise Anna was devastated.
“Bart Sear was a kind and generous man, officer. He wasn’t my client at all. We’d been friends since we were both at school. I suppose the money is gone?”
Jeeves nodded, watching carefully as Anna composed herself, dabbing her eyes with a worn handkerchief. “I’m sorry for asking about that, but he’d inherited a tidy sum from a maiden aunt. Having enough to support himself he was going to donate some to my baby nephew who’d suffered badly with the measles.” Anna’s voice sharpened as she broke down and sobbed again, “he was going to pay the medical bills”.
“He was that kind of person, it wasn’t about what he could have from you, it was about what he could give.” She paused to catch her breath “And now he’s dead. Oh, I curse the day he met that larcenous Markham man.”
The smell of smoke from the fire was permeating the alley now, adding to Jeeves’ confusion. “What? Markham? The one thrown out of the Temperance movement?”
BANG! Not for the first time, Jeeves had cause to be grateful for his police helmet which absorbed most of the blow from the iron bar. Even so the shock caused his knees to buckle and as he collapsed to the floor a red-haired figure walked past gesturing furiously.
“You don’t understand Anna!” shouted Michael Markham. “Bart wouldn’t listen to me about the scourge of alcohol! He tried to stop me from reducing the brewery to the flames of revelation.”
Hysterical, Anna grabbed Markham by the beard, screaming and scratching at his face. “Bart told me you were after his money. Said you hit him with a bottle of gin and left him for dead in the market when he wouldn’t pay your bill.”
Markham struggled free and threw Anna to the floor. He straddled her with the iron bar raised in the air “No! I’m a man of principle! I struck him with the bottle to knock some sense into him.” He raged on. “Made no difference, mind. As soon as the doctor fixed him he were straight to the New Inn. I saw him staggering back along the river and I couldn’t contain my rage or disgust. As he stooped to check his net, I struck him with a rock and my full vengeance! Honest to the Lord I only took the money to make it look like a robbery.”
In his fury, Markham was oblivious to the wounded policeman silently drawing his truncheon and climbing to his feet.
The ranting continued. “How he managed to make it as far as the Workhouse I will never know. He was sure as dead Anna. Liquor, it does ungodly things to a man.”
Jeeves drew a deep breath and brought his truncheon down with full force causing Markham to let out a slight gasp as he hit the ground out cold. Jeeves looked down at the murderer with little sympathy. He would likely swing for murder, so there was little point taking him to the Nursing Home. De’ath could visit and treat his former employee somewhere more secure.