Death and Chocolate;Doctor Who;Sarah Jane Smith;Lis Sladen;Third Doctor;Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart;Jon Pertwee;Jeri Massi
Death and Chocolate
Written by Jeri Massi
Two things happened at once: the intruder suddenly saw Sarah Jane's purse sitting atop the book on the table in the corner, and the Doctor hit the hallway door so hard that the iron tongue in the groove splintered part of the door jamb.
The man with the knife scooped up the purse and darted to the light switch while Sarah Jane kept him on the other side of the stainless steel processing still. He switched off the lights just as the Doctor crashed through.
"Doctor no, he's got a knife!" she screamed. Lawman burst through his door and crashed into the young man.
From the light thrown in from the hallway, Sarah saw the silhouette of the man with the knife make a swipe across the Doctor's chest. With the superior reflexes of a timelord, the Doctor swung his head back to throw himself out of the path of the blade. It whisked across his chest, and then the young man was pelting down the hall as Clarence Lawman shouted, "Doctor! Are you hurt?"
"No, and the devil take him! Get after him!" the Doctor shouted.
"I can't leave the lady. Not twice," Lawman said, and the Doctor nodded and ran after the young man.
"Oh please just let him go!" Sarah cried. "He's got that knife!"
The door slammed at the end of the hall, and the Doctor, rueful, stopped at her plea.
"My poor girl," Clarence Lawman said. "Come here and sit down. Did he hurt you?"
"No--no, he saw my purse and took that. I think that's what he wanted," she said. The lights suddenly came up as the Doctor found the switch and flipped it on.
"You'd better ring up the police," he said as he came to the table. "Is there another phone?"
"He snatched up the book too," Sarah Jane said as she saw that the man had grabbed both.
"He did ey?" Lawman asked, and his glance suddenly became sharp.
"You think that's significant?" the Doctor asked.
"It could be. I have a phone in the front. I'll try that." And he walked out. The Doctor would have put his arm around her shoulders, but Sarah Jane stood and plucked his shirt. It looked as though a razor had been drawn across it.
"That was a near thing," she said. Her eyes were frightened for him.
"He could have rammed that knife into me and dropped me on the spot," the Doctor said.
"Oh, please don't---"
He calmed his voice. "But he didn't. He just wanted to get by." He put his arm around her. "It's all right."
She was amazed. "All that for a purse. It doesn't even have anything in it. I have my cash and a house key on me."
Or was he after the book?" he added.
"Maybe he came in to rob the place and was surprised to find all of us here." But she knew the suggestion was a feeble alternative.
He shook his head. "He threw the rock through the window to separate us, and then he came around back hid in that hallway. He was certainly after something, and he took a huge risk to get it."
Lawman entered from the front. "The police are on their way. I'm so sorry, Miss Smith. Let me make you tea. Perhaps these will sort things out for you." And he held out a slim box of truffles towards her. Sarah's worried eyes instantly took a gleam of delighted fascination, like a kitten that has discovered a ping pong ball.
"Oh dear, I'm hardly as educated as you are about chocolate, Mr. Lawman," she said as she hesitantly took the box.
"Well, the first and most important lesson is that it's delicious," he said with a laugh. "Practice that lesson for a while."
"Oh dear, as though we're not going to be full of chocolates for the next few days," the Doctor said.
"Ah. But these are the best chocolates, Doctor."
She bit into one. "Oh that's heavenly," she said around the truffle center. She tasted it carefully, letting the confection roll around her mouth. "You know, it is perfectly smooth, like silk."
He nodded. "That's my standard gourmet line. Conched for three days. No lecithin. No grit." He turned his attention to the electric tea kettle.
She offered the narrow box to the Doctor, but he shook his head. He seemed to find her almost reverential delight in the chocolates more interesting than the chocolates themselves. "You know, I think you're approaching what the ancient divines used to call ecstasy, Sarah Jane."
"That's probably the theobromine in the chocolate, Doctor," Lawman said. "Seems to affect women more than men. That's the current theory."
"Yes, and the best that modern science can do, I'm afraid," the Doctor said. He scratched his head. "Actually, theobromine exists in several foods in greater bio-availability than in chocolate: tea leaves, for instance. Where ever it is found naturally, it occurs in such low amounts that it fails to affect the central nervous system, including the amount that occurs in chocolate."
"Ah!" And Lawman nodded. "So current theory goes out the window. But chocolate does effect many women quite profoundly."
"Do we have to analyze everything?" Sarah Jane asked.
A loud rapping out front interrupted them. "There's the police," the chocolatier said. "Here is your tea, Miss Smith." He set a cup down on the table and hurried out to bring the policemen back.
* * * *
As they sped over the dark landscape in Bessie, Sarah Jane folded her arms against the stiff wind. The Doctor glanced at her. She had that look of intently trying to put things together.
"Look if that fellow was after the book, even if he was doing it to protect Highlers from a journalist, it doesn't follow that Highlers had anything to do with those two suicides," the Doctor said. "Let's not get sidetracked by shady business deals and second rate chocolate processing. Our concern is why those two men committed suicide."
She corrected him. "My concern is to get a good story. If the suicides are a dead end---well, I mean a mere coincidence---it's still worth my time to investigate the Highlers story."
"Yes, but then we've gone in under false pretenses," he told her, shouting over the wind. "Highlers opened up the place to UNIT and police investigators to assist us in determining if his chocolates had anything to do with the suicides. Chemical additives. Not to investigate his morals or the quantities of soy lecithin he uses." He swiftly navigated them around a bend in the narrow country lane. "I mean, it's not illegal to make poor chocolates and box them up as nice chocolates as long as you don't lie about the ingredients."
"Then why steal a book from a journalist?" she called back. "And you know, Highlers never even mentioned the book to the Brigadier."
"Well I don't think a man would mention a book that alleges him to be a heartless adulterer. But Ischink didn't write about the ingredients in the chocolates or the processing, did he?"
"No, not that I saw," she admitted. "His book is more about the culture of Royalty House Chocolates. How people gained power; who was in power; who was out; how his wife was taken away from him. Things like that."
"It's not the same thing at all."
"It could be the same thing. Highlers gets what he wants. Cheap chocolates sold at a high price, if you ask Clarence Lawman. Prestige and whatever woman he wants, if you ask Stephan Ischink."
"Say, is this going to make you lose interest in all that chocolate?" he asked.
"Not at all. If I dislike Jack Highlers, I shall eat twice as much of his chocolate. I plan to be an expensive adversary." The Doctor afforded her a quick grin, but she was not entirely joking.
"What about the men?" she asked. "The two suicides. How closely were they tied to Royalty House, apart from having chocolates with them when they died?"
"Well, the first fellow handled investment portfolios for quite a lot of people, and Royalty House had been one of his projects. One of many. He'd been responsible for getting a lot of capital put into Highler's production facilities."
"And all his books balanced?"
"To the penny. Highler's stocks took a downturn over the last few months, but I wouldn't call it out of the ordinary. His company has certainly not gone bust; and neither was the fellow who shot himself ruined by any severe loss. Looked like one of the normal downturns of a stock in a bear market."
"What was the other's name, the bloke who shot himself?"
"Morales. Spanish descent. Don Morales. Young fellow."
"Financier like the first?"
"Not exactly. He'd made his fortune by shrewd investment, but he traded more heavily in futures: cocoa by lot, sugar, and like that rather than investments in public retail houses. Didn't handle portfolios for other investors, though."
"Could he be tied in somehow through shipments of cocoa beans?"
"I don't know. His financial history is still being checked out." He paused and then added, "The tie, if there is any, is pretty flimsy at best."
* * * *
By the time the Doctor pulled Bessie through the electronic gates that opened automatically, Sarah Jane was glad that the ride was over. In spite of the dozens of ultra-modernizations with which the Doctor had equipped the vintage Edwardian roadster, the tiny heater could not keep up with the chill of an endless night time airstream that rushed over the open car. She was ready for a hot bath and some bed.
He glanced over at her. "You all right?"
"Half frozen and dead on my feet. I hope they've got a lovely room ready for us."
They drove up a winding drive illuminated by low footlights. Even in the darkness, Sarah Jane could see that the vast lawns under the dark sky were evenly groomed, dotted with neatly trimmed hedges and shrubs. Ahead of them, blazing with lights, the main building rose on the hilltop like an ornate palace.
"What do you think of the size of that?" the Doctor asked.
"I've seen bigger." She tried to sound lofty, and then she smiled at him.
He followed the drive through a round-about and pulled up before the vast double doors. Heavy glass windows alongside each door shed a warm glow onto the front walk. Two liveried attendants rushed forward, their voices soft and yet hearty with carefully rehearsed words of welcome. They immediately lifted out the suitcases and helped the two travelers from the car. The Doctor gratefully passed the valet keys to one of them.
"You're with the UNIT investigation, sir, madam?" the other asked.
"Yes," the Doctor said. "Dr. Smith. This is my daughter, Miss Sarah Jane Smith."
"Right this way then. We'll have you settled in no time."
"Well now this is more like it," Sarah Jane whispered, pleased.
The great doors swung outward towards them as more liveried attendants inside operated controls. Mellow, golden light spilled onto the steps.
"Oh, it's very grand!" Sarah Jane whispered. She slipped her hand into his elbow. "My dear Sarah, you're on the verge of ridiculous," he whispered, but his voice was good natured. They followed their guides into an open, marble-floored entry that could have done service in a royal palace. Vaulted archways above bore the load of half a dozen evenly space chandeliers.
Their shoes clicked on the marble flooring, but as they were led to a main passage, the flooring became hardwood. A thick runner of carpeting soon muffled the noises of their approach. Up ahead, they saw a woman with a line of children behind her.
"Now did you all say thank you?" she asked.
"We did! We did Miss Bline!" they chorused. They sounded happy, excited, and yet pleasantly tired.
"Are they on a leash?" the Doctor asked, his eyes quizzical.
But as he and Sarah Jane stepped aside for them, they saw that the children were all holding to a tow rope that their chaperone used to lead them.
"Guess that makes it easier to count heads," the Doctor murmured.
The children, who were five or six years old at the very most, saw the two uniformed men holding the luggage and sang out, "Thank you sir, Thank you sir!" as though rehearsed, their voices happy and almost triumphant.
"Oh, you're very welcome children!" one of the men called back to them as the other smiled. "You be good boys and girls, and we'll have you back soon. Did you get your chocolates?"
And each child held up his or her free fist, in which was clutched a narrow, oblong box. "Goodbye! Goodbye!" they called to the luggage clerks as they continued to the doors.
"Goodbye children!" The attendant turned and smiled at the Doctor and Sarah Jane. "Happy kids, eh?"
"Are they from a school?" the Doctor asked.
"No, St. Nick's, sir," he said as he took the lead to guide them to their room. "This way of you will. Royalty House is a sponsor and contributor to Saint Nicholas' hospital for children. We usually have half a dozen to a dozen of them here any given weekend. He nodded back as they walked down the hall. "That lot there are outpatients for epilepsy. They have hard lives. Difficult already for them to keep friends. So the quacks at the hospital thought giving them time together might make things easier for them. They all understand if somebody has a seizure." He caught himself and stared at the Doctor. "I beg your pardon, I didn't mean they're really quacks over there----it's just a---"
"No, it's all right. I've met a few quacks in my day." And the Doctor waved it off.
"You are a medical doctor sir? Here's the lift." He and his partner ushered them into a roomy, carpeted lift with silvery walls and wood trim.
"Oh, I'm all sort of doctors," the timelord said. "But tell me, do you have a staff that's able to care for sick children?"
"Well St. Nick's brings along whoever they need," he said with a short nod. "But yea, we get training on emergency medical care in case we need it. Usually, though, the hospital staff are as wild to get a weekend here as the children are, so there's never been any shortage of trained specialists on hand."
"And Royalty House foots the bill for all of that?" Sarah Jane asked. "That's truly marvelous."
"Well," and he smiled down at her. "We make a lot of sales to children, Miss. Mr. Highlers, our founder, said our goal is to give chocolates to people to make 'em happy. Helping out a children's hospital fits right in with what we do." He pondered a moment, and then he added, "Good chocolate is a way of life, Miss." The Doctor coughed to smother a laugh, and Sarah Jane poked him.
"Here we are!" their guide exclaimed, and the lift doors opened to reveal a wide hallway, carpeted in rich golden colors, the walls a deep brown. Windows at either end promised a well lit place by day.
"Right this way, Doctor, Miss Smith," he said as he and his partner carried the luggage to a single door that was the only one on its side of the hall.
"This it?" the Doctor asked.
"A suite for you and the young lady sir," he said as he unlocked the door and then passed the key to the Doctor. He stepped aside for them to enter.
"Oh, this is splendid," Sarah Jane said in admiration as she gazed at a sitting room with a fireplace in the far wall, a plush sofa, an easy chair, and a rich decor of dark paneled walls. Numerous small tables dotted the room, each crowned by a small glass bowl of chocolates. Near the fireplace, a larger table against the wall boasted a fruit basket and a small telephone. A bottle of wine, a cork screw, and two glasses waited on the other side of the telephone.
"You just ring down for your dinner if you like," the attendant added. "There's a menu tucked in the fruit basket. This way, Miss. Your half-suite is here."
He carried Sarah Jane's suitcases through a doorway on one wall while his partner showed the Doctor through a doorway in the opposite wall.
"This is a half suite?" Sarah Jane asked as she surveyed the grand canopied bed, night stand, chest of drawers, and closet.
"Oh, we've got all kinds of grand things tucked away for you," he added as he set down the baggage. "You're meant to have every comfort during your stay."
The Doctor, meanwhile, surveyed his own room with a certain dignified appreciation: a writing desk in one corner, a stand of books near the bed, an unmarked bottle of what looked like scotch, surrounded by wide, shallow glasses on a silver tray.
"And the washroom and loo are this way, sir," his attendant said. "You'll share with your suit mate."
"Of course." The Doctor followed back out to the front room and saw that a second door close to his own door opened to a wide wash room that had enough fixtures in it to rival the TARDIS. But the center attraction was an oval tub with the depth of a small pool. He stepped across the gleaming tiled floor and looked down into the tub. Small jet fixtures inside confirmed his expectations of a whirlpool path.
Wearing a luxurious and long terry robe over her clothing and a frilly shower cap over her hair, Sarah Jane entered, followed by her attendant.
"What are you doing at my bath?" she asked the Doctor, her voice cheeky. She came to his side and peered into the tub. Her voice suddenly became quiet and almost reverential. "Oh, I think I've died, and I must have been very good, because this must be heaven!"
"What about dinner?" the Doctor asked.
"We'll call down for dinner----Dad," she said emphatically and frowned up at him.
"Oh, right then." He reached into a pocket to tip the luggage men, but they both shook their heads. "No tipping, sir," the first one said. "We hope that you and your daughter have a pleasant evening. Come sunrise, the list of activities will be posted in the main hall downstairs, or you can ring down to the desk and inquire."
"Thank you," the Doctor said as Sarah, like a misplaced queen in a terry robe, swept over to the mirrored cabinets. The two attendants smiled, nodded, and went out. In a moment, the front door closed after them.
Sarah returned to the bath, opened the hot water tap, and produced a prize from the cabinet---a packet that she ripped open and upended over the tub.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Lilac and rose scent. Say, are you still here? Shouldn't you be ordering us some food?"
She peered over the tub as the powdery contents hit the whirling water and burst into a small, heavily scented cloud. "Oh that's just right." Then she pulled out a small vial of pale green fluid, twisted off the top, and poured it into the whirling steaming water. She glanced up at him. "Jasmine skin conditioner for baths," she said. She stared down at the swirling water and the contents of the two packets. Then she briskly turned to him.
"Go on with you then," she said.
"Where did you get that robe and that ridiculous cap?"
"It was waiting for me in the closet. A gift of the house. Oh!"
She swept past him and went out, then returned with one of the small bowls of chocolate.
"Look, how long are you going to be in here?" Now he sounded cross.
"As long as it takes to get warm after that freezing cold ride in the dark," she told him. "Now be a good sport and go call for dinner."
He gave in. "All right, but I hope you plan to do more than just take hot baths all weekend. Have you forgotten your journalistic instincts?"
"Not a bit." And now she looked concerned. "Have I missed something?"
"Well, no, but---"
She pushed him ahead of her as she swept to the door. "Go on, call for dinner. And make us some tea my dear. I'll be out in thirty minutes or so. I'll take anything with beef in it."
She closed the door after him.
* * * *
Having been expelled from Sarah Jane's presence, the Doctor strode to the telephone and scooped it up. He got the switchboard operator and ordered dinner for the both of them. Then he asked to be put through on an outside call and gave the number of the Brigadier's line at UNIT.
He got Sgt. Benton instead.
"Hello Doctor," the warrant officer's cheerful voice said. "The Brig's up near you some where. He's at Royalty House, just closing up."
"Well I haven't seen him, and this place is the size of a small city," the Doctor told him. "Can't you patch me through?"
"I'll try. Hold the line, Doctor."
The Doctor, never one to wait patiently, frowned and tapped his toe for a moment. He noticed the bottle of wine by the phone and took it up to examine the label. It was a Saumur Rouge. From the wash room, he heard a splash. In a moment, it was followed by another splash. "What is that girl doing?" he murmured. He decided to open the wine. Pinning the receiver to his shoulder with his chin, he peeled away the silvery paper and fumbled for the corkscrew.
Another splash and an exclamation that sounded like "wheeee!" or "wow!" came in muffled tone through the wall.
"I hope you're not being silly!" he shouted.
"No Doctor, I seldom find myself in a condition of silliness," the Brigadier's voice said.
"Say where are you?" the Doctor demanded loudly.
"In the bath!" Sarah Jane's voice called. "Go away."
"Not you!" the Doctor called.
"Well who then?" the Brigadier asked. "Did you ring me up just to tell me you don't want to talk to me?"
"No Brigadier. I rang you up to check in. We're here. Bit of trouble on the way up. I thought you should know."
"Well we've got a bit of trouble now," the Brigadier's voice said. His tone was clipped.
"What is it?"
"I can't say, Doctor. I honestly can't, as a point of law."
"Don't leave your room tomorrow morning. We'll be at this all night. But things just took a turn for the worst. The police are here."
"Are you out on the grounds? I can find you in no time."
"No Doctor, I do not want you out here. You would be a distraction---"
"A distraction? After all the---"
"Doctor, this is not the time or the place. I don't dare bring you here just now. You're a person with no identity, remember?" From his tone of voice, the Brigadier seemed to think this a great risk. "Just stay where you are. I will reach you in the morning. Stay off the grounds at Royalty House until I find you."
Normally the Doctor would have argued and resorted to bluster, but there was a note in the Brig's voice that checked him.
"Look," and now Lethbridge Stewart's voice was strained. "This is a ghastly business, and it probably doesn't involve Royalty House at all. But I can't protect you in a matter like this. Stay out of sight until I find you."
"Well all right then." And the Doctor's voice was suddenly mild. A splash from the bath reminded him of Sarah Jane. "What about Sarah Jane? Someone had a go at her earlier tonight on the drive up. Stole her purse and that book you lent her."
"You should look after her." But the Brigadier's voice sounded preoccupied rather than concerned. "I don't see how a purse snatcher would tie into this. But try not to attract undue notice to yourselves."
"All right, I'll see you in the morning." And the Doctor put down the receiver, his eyes troubled.
* * * *
Forty minutes later, wrapped up in the heavy terry robe, the bath cap still on her head, Sarah Jane emerged with her other clothing over her arm. She smiled affably at the Doctor and went straight to her room.
"Your dinner's come," he exclaimed. "And I've got the fire going!"
"I'll be right out!" she called as she disappeared. A moment later she returned. She went to the small wheeled table that another liveried attendant had brought. She helped herself to a slice of beef and a spoon full of Yorkshire pudding.
"How many chocolates have you eaten?" he asked.
"Not enough to put me off some hot food. She spooned gravy over the pudding and beef. He saw that she had donned soft pyjamas, but her feet were bare on the deep plush carpet.
"No slippers?" he asked.
"Oh yes, they supplied a pair, but I do love this carpet, and I do want to stretch my toes to the fire."
He had supposed that she would take the easy chair, but she came to the sofa and sat next to him. She put her feet up on the coffee table, gathered her robe around her flanneled legs, and took up her fork.
"So you're comfortable?" he asked. He toyed with the idea of not telling her the Brigadier's mysterious report. She was, after all, deeply content.
"You call the Brig?" she asked as she ploughed into the pudding.
He decided to be judicious. "Yes, he says he has to see us first thing tomorrow."
"Uh-oh." But her voice was unconcerned. The warmth from the bath had made her cheeks rosy. Even the backs of her hands were reddish.
"Oh I would like some wine," she said as she saw his glass.
He made his voice parental. "All right, then." And he stood and went to the table to pour her a glass. "The thing is," he said as he wrestled with the cork to get it back into the bottle. "The Brigadier wants us to keep a low profile tomorrow morning. I'm not sure what's got him concerned. Probably nothing. But if you want a late morning, it would be just as well." He finally got the cork in place, took up her glass, and turned.
The plate on her lap, Sarah Jane was asleep on the sofa, her feet still extended to the fire. The Doctor set down her glass and hurried to her, but she had simply fallen asleep, her head turned to the side on the soft cushions of the deep sofa.
He took the plate and fork away and set them on the coffee table. After a moment's thought he moved her legs from the table to the sofa and turned her so that she could lie comfortably. He went into her room and returned with a blanket, which he spread over her. She remained sound asleep through this.
At last he knelt by her and took up her hand. He found her pulse and with his other hand he pulled out his pocket watch and timed the pulse: slow, but not abnormally slow, and not heavy or labored. Just incredibly relaxed and calm. He timed it longer than he needed to, then slipped her hand under the blanket and returned his watch to his pocket.
She opened sleepy eyes. "Oh, I knew you would be here," she whispered. "I knew." And with her other hand, she touched his hair and the side of his face. "I knew you would."
"Sarah, my dear, I think you're dreaming," he said gently, but---unconcerned---her eyes closed and she fell asleep again.
For a moment the Doctor studied her face and listened to her respirations: slow, calm, and deep. Nothing abnormal.
He stood and strode to the washroom, then returned with the remains of the chocolates. Watching her, he ate them one by one. But he did not feel sleepy from them, nor did he detect that they were anything else other than chocolates.
* * * *
Dawn and the sound of birds calling came together. Sarah Jane dozed for several hours, partly aware of the glorious spring morning but held in a comfortable, warm sleepiness in the soft sheets. At last, as the light from outisde brightened, she opened her eyes, saw the flickering shadow of a great tree outside of window, and swung her feet over the side of the bed. She found the luxurious terry robe and donned it, then slipped her feet into the woolly slippers left for her, and made her way out to the sitting room.
The Doctor, coffee cup in hand, looked up as she entered.
"Why aren't the curtains drawn back?" she asked. "Do you like sitting in the dark?" She would have gone to the draperies to pull them back, but she stopped to stretch.
"You all right, Sarah Jane?" he asked.
"Oh yes, two glorious days at Royalty house. And it's so late. Nearly ten. I should have set an alarm."
She went to the window and drew back the drape, then fastened the cord. The sunlight fell across her. "Is there hot coffee?" she asked as she passed him to get to the other window.
"Yes, very good, too. And toast and eggs and sausages," he said with a nod at the breakfast cart.
She pulled back the other curtain so that the room was flooded with morning light. "Now that's better," she said.
"The Brig's on his way up with news."
"Well Iíd better get my coffee then." And she helped herself from the carafe. "You know I canít remember going to bed last night," she said.
"You fell asleep on the sofa."
"Oh, thanks then." She threw herself down in the easy chair and glanced around. "I wonder if I'm too grown up to have chocolate for breakfast?"
"How about something more sensible, young lady?"
"Oh all right. Pass me some sausages, would you?"
He stood and made a plate of eggs, toast and sausage for her.
"You know, that does smell terrific," she admitted. She reached for it, and he stopped her.
"Why is your hand shaking?" he asked.
She glanced at he hand. "Oh, I donít know. Morning jitters. Maybe I need some protein in me."
He glanced at her other hand, the one that held the cup, but the coffee had not spilled.
"Come on, Doctor, how about letting me have some breakfast?"
"Yes, of course." And he passed her the plate.
"There, that's all right then!" And she set aside the coffee cup and attacked the plate with as much gusto as he could wish to see in a healthy young woman.
A firm hand rapped on the door. "That will be the Brigadier," the Doctor said. And he crossed to the door and opened it.
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart entered. He cocked an eye at seeing Sarah Jane in her robe and slippers but let it pass. "Good morning Miss Smith. Good morning Doctor."
"Tuck into some breakfast, Brigadier," Sarah Jane said.
"Well, these are hardly the circumstances, Miss Smith---"
She glanced up, surprised.
"I didnít have a chance to speak to Sarah Jane about your message," the Doctor said.
"All right then." And the Brigadier came in and sat down on the sofa. The Doctor followed and sat next to him, eyes serious.
"The thing is, one of our chaps found something," the Brigadier said. "Quite by accident. We have a policy to walk the grounds in any investigation, even if we're called in just to look at a lab or check the books---"
"So we sent this inexperienced private up to recce the woods back against the outer edge of the property." And Lethbridge Stewart threw a nod in the general direction of the woods. "Dashed if he didnít find something. Something we weren't looking for."
"What?" The Doctor asked.
"A body. Dead body at least a few months old."
Sarah Jane stopped eating and looked at him.
"Was that why you didn't want me out and about?" the Doctor asked.
"It's a child's body, Doctor. A little boy. And he was----treated badly." And now the Brigadier took out a handkerchief and wiped it across his own forehead. "Not like anything Iíd ever seen. The worst thing was done to him---I mean, the worst----"
Sarah Jane pushed her plate aside.
"Only a human being would do that to another human being," he said. "And a child at that. I've offered the police our every assistance. But they would pounce on anybody who is a foreigner or stranger, Doctor. I'll introduce you as Dr. John Smith, but you've got to step lightly. This is---this is horrible. I never thought I would see it. What was done to him before he died."
I appreciate comments from readers. Please tell me what worked for you in the story and what did not work. Did any part move too slowly? Was the story hard to get into? Were any of the characters not true to the television series? I appreciate all input.