“Severe blow to the head,” noted Dr. Viktor Teagan. After another moment’s analysis, he muttered, “Very severe…and these…claw markings? It looks as if he’s been attacked by an animal or something brutish.”
The commissioner held a handkerchief to his face. “Yes, yes,” he said impatiently. They both glanced over at the spaniel sitting on the Oriental rug, its tail wagging.
Viktor stood, his knees popping from crouching over the body. His hazel eyes scrutinized the state of the impressive arched window. Beyond was the dead man’s rose garden, and further more was the forest. The window was broken from the outside, as glass adorned the floor.
The doctor and commissioner strode through the house, tusks of ivory and exotic paintings furnishing the home. It smelled like a museum. “Have you questioned the household?”
“We have,” the commissioner responded, “but the only one young enough to have such strength left the household two weeks ago. This was done—”
“Two days ago,” the doctor finished. “It may be an animal you have to contend with, Commissioner. Do your men enjoy hunting as much as the late Sir Andrew?”
“God rest his soul,” the commissioner grumbled. His eyes warily surveyed the tokens and taxidermy souvenirs of the dead man’s adventures. “I know I don’t. Someone did too well with these. It’s like their eyes are moving. Have you a long journey home?”
“I live across the channel, as you know. I do not see why you still call on me. I solved merely one case for you.”
“The hardest case of my career,” the commissioner amended.
“Nonetheless, you must find another examiner,” Viktor finished without further ado. He gathered his suitcase and shoved a hat atop his head. “I have a long boat ride and an even longer train to catch.”
Viktor walked into his home and handed his things to his butler. “Welcome home, Doctor,” Ives greeted. Viktor hung his hat on the peg beside the door and ran a hand through his light brown hair.
The butler cleared his throat. “If I may, Sir, a new housemaid inquired earlier today. She can’t have gone far, shall I call for her?”
Viktor sighed. He lifted his chin and stretched out his neck. Sleep was what he wanted but he did not see the harm in a new employee. Ives had worked here since he was a boy. If the man needed help, he may hire it. “Fine. Leave her paperwork in the study.”
Ives also left tea on the table when Viktor went to look over the woman’s papers. His butler lightly knocked on the door, announcing, “Miss Anastasia Greene.”
Viktor stood up, shook the young woman’s hand lightly, and gestured to the seat opposite him. His eyes never left the papers. “You have been unemployed for a month, Miss Greene?”
“Yes, sir,” she answered calmly. “Traveling.”
“Not sir. Safe regions, I hope?”
“I have nothing contagious,” she assured.
“You have an accent,” he observed.
“Does that bother you?”
“No. English is your first language, and you speak it better than most of the individuals I come into contact with. Are all of the skills listed here genuine?”
“Fine. Ives will show you your lodgings and you may start tomorrow. Any questions?”
“You have been knighted,” she began.
“I have,” he said doggedly, like it was a hindrance.
“And you’re a doctor. What shall I call you?”
“Doctor or nothing at all,” he replied. Viktor stood and gestured to the door. “Good evening, Miss Greene.”