Sergeant Alana headed back towards the constabulary, mentally preparing her report on the conversation she had just finished with young Evan Stanton.
She would copy her notes and the boy's statement up to date over a coffee then place the report on The Chief's desk. Then... Then she would probably head home.
This in mind, Alana trudged along deep in her thoughts as the morning sun rose in the cloudless sky.
Her curiosity was piqued, however, as she drew level with the clinic, and the voices within.
She could see several figures moving inside, even the implacable Lightbearer 'watch' had turned and were peering into a window, well, at least until they saw Sergeant Alana at which point,
they quickly resumed their 'stoical sentry' stance.
Alana pushed the clinic door open and edged inside. She could hear the voices, most of which were familiar, coming from the treatment room.
There was Mayor Troy, Doctor Troy, Chief Bartosiewicz and one other, a well-dressed young woman whom Alana was not familiar with. The murmurings died down as Alana's presence was noticed.
She glanced at her boss, then at the others. The Chief nodded, acknowledging Alana's appearance, and giving her leave to approach.
The group were standing around the examination table. Doctor Troy had just placed a polished, flat wooden box onto the table. The box, Alana noted, had seen better days.
Hyle looked across at her daughter, was Tuki excited? Angry? It was difficult to tell. She waited patiently for an explanation for this impromptu gathering.
Tukiko turned the box around and opened the lid to show them the inside.
What lay on the faded and stained velvet were a plethora of different sized knives and scalpels, several pairs of forceps and one or two things Hyle couldn't even guess the purpose of.
However, the rather large and business-like looking saw suggested possible uses that had the hairs on her arms standing to attention.
"This is an amputation kit," Tuki explained.
That little bit of knowledge only succeeded in adding a tingling, skin-crawling sensation to Hyle's raised hackles. She managed to keep the smile.
She, and the others, followed Tuki's finger as it traced alongside the empty slot where it was now evident that a knife, the largest knife, was missing from the set.
any distaste Hyle was feeling about having what was obviously a well-used surgical kit plonked down in front of them evaporated and was replaced by a pit of dreadful realisation as it
became apparent what Tuki was suggesting. She looked up into her daughter's face and now understood the distress-tinged anger she saw there.
"The murder weapon?"
Tuki was nodding.
"I'm ninety-nine percent certain, yes."
Chief Bartosiewicz leaned in closer, taking a very close look, but not touching the various contents and particularly the vacant slot where the large knife should have been.
Then, he tapped the tabletop next to the other object on display. A stethoscope.
"And Evan Stanton had this?"
Hyle nodded. The young girl next to Hyle described to the Chief how Evan had secreted the stethoscope into Magrat's coffin.
Chief Constable Bartosiewicz stood up and folded his arms across his chest, one hand stroking his thick black beard.
"Chief?" Alana spoke. "I just came from talking to Evan Stanton."
Alana paused, then described her conversation with the Stanton boy, including her misgivings and the omissions in what she had been told.
Shadwell mulled over what he had heard, then drew breath to speak, clearly bristling as several jigsaw pieces fell into place.
Hyle watched carefully, looking for and finding the anger that often bubbled just below Shadwell's surface.
"Right! Alana, get some constables together and meet me at the Stanton place in ten minutes.
We're going to have to search the house, find out how the Stanton kid got his hands on this stethoscope, and anything else we can ..."
It was Hyle who spoke; she had broken the hold the grizzly contents of the Amputation Kit had held over her.
"We will fetch Arch Stanton first; he'll be at work still. We will need to let him know what we have to do.
Or did you forget that there is a baby and two boys in the house alone? We cannot just barge into the house just like that, unannounced." She gave Shadwell a meaningful look.
"This is not a police state. Once Mr Stanton has been collected, then we can proceed."
Hyle looked at the faces all now turned to her.
"And Tuki, would you be so kind as to ask Maisie to be on hand, because of the baby."
Having said her piece, Hyle stepped back and gave the floor back to her Chief Constable.
She could not tell if the look on his face was because she had overstepped her mark by telling him in front of the others how she preferred to proceed.
Hyle flashed back a blue stare in defiance anyway. Whether this would calm or anger him, she did not care. This was how she wanted things to happen.
Chief Constable Bartosiewicz resumed.
"Ok, Alana. Get Constable Hill to meet me here right away, we need three more pairs of boots at least. THEN go and find Arch Stanton, make sure he comes straight here. Then we will proceed."
Arch arrived. It took a while to calm him down and get him to listen.
the combined efforts of the mayor and the Chief Constable convinced him that it would be in the best interest of himself and his family if the boys accompanied their father to
the constabulary headquarters where Arthur would be interviewed.
Arch wasn't happy about having his home searched, but after Hyle pointed out to him that it would be better for the search to be carried out with the minimum of fuss, he relented.
The last thing Arch wanted was a circus of curious neighbours outside his house jumping to all kinds of conclusions.
To further keep things as low-key as possible, Arch went with Dr Troy and Sergeant Alana to pick up all three boys.
Alana then stayed behind where she was joined a few minutes later by two more constables to carry out the search.
The mayor and Chief Bartosiewicz, meanwhile, made their way back to the constabulary headquarters.
Dr Troy drove back to the clinic, where little Dudley was left in the safe hands of Nurse Maisie.
Then the doctor, and a further constable who had been waiting at the clinic, drove to the constabulary with Arch and the two worried-looking Stanton boys to be interviewed by Chief Bartosiewicz.
Once settled inside, the chief had the constable wait with young Evan while he took Arthur and his father into the interview room.
After his father and brother had disappeared behind the half-glazed door, Evan was made to sit in the corner of the room on an uncomfortable and deliberately wobbly hard-backed stool.
The guard, also sitting, was between Evan and the exit and far enough away so that if the boy tried to bolt, then the guard would have enough time to react and stop him. Shadwell was smart.
Hyle took all this in while finishing her conversation with Tukiko, who then left to return to the clinic.
If this were a normal situation, then Hyle would have been impressed by Shadwell's minor, but effective, softening up tactic on Evan while he got on with interviewing his big brother.
But Evan was a twelve-year-old boy, not a street-savvy wise-guy from the streets of nearby New Flagstaff.
For an instant, a picture of Joe Spivey came to mind, and Hyle shuddered at the thought of Evan being turned in that direction by his experience here today.
No, Evan Stanton was a frightened little boy in a strange place, surrounded by intimidating adults and Hyle couldn't help her natural mothering instinct from kicking in.
Dismissing the constable would have undermined Shadwell's authority, so, instead, Hyle pulled up another chair and sat down next to Evan.