"That's too horrible!" Alice exclaimed, leaping up in alarm. "Was it this very window?"
Gilet de Sauvinage shrugged in a not especially Gallic way. "I don't know which room it was, just that it was in this wing."
Alice blanched. "It could have been this very room. Oh, the poor unfortunate! Did her family demand justice?"
He shook his head. "They never knew what had happened to her. The terrible Comte Sangsue never even sent them a ransom note or any kind of threatening message."
"How awful!" Alice said, feeling an unaccustomed sense of faintness come over her. It had been some time since she had felt so weak. Perhaps she should eat more of her breakfast.
But there was also something niggling at the back of her mind. What could it be?
"Ever since," de Sauvinage continued, unaware of Alice's wandering thoughts, "many people have reported that they have seen wandering the corridors, a pale ghostly figure of a woman, searching, always searching."
"What is she searching for?" Alice asked as she ate some of the porridge.
"Perhaps her killer," he replied. "Or perhaps she just wants someone to blame!"
"Well, it's not my fault," Alice said with what had become her usual decided air. "She can't want to haunt me. I suppose this Comte is also dead."
De Sauvinage shrugged again. "I don't know. It's possible that he's still alive, but he is not here."
"Do you know where he is?" Alice set her spoon down as an idea occurred to her.
"I haven't the slightest idea," de Sauvinage said, sounding more than a trifle irritated with the line of questioning. "I suppose he returned to his estate, wherever that might be."
"I shall certainly tell the spectre if she returns," Alice said, returning once more to her porridge. "It is only fair that she know he is not here. She can seek her vengeance elsewhere." The latter was less than entirely distinct as Alice was still masticating a mouthful of porridge during the speech, a collision of activities that would have well and truly scandalised her mother and most of the household had they been there to experience it.
"Well, one never can tell with ghosts," de Sauvinage said. One might have caught a hint of irritation in his voice. Whether he was simply fed up with Alice's failure to be impressed with his tale or with her poor manners in speaking with her mouth full, it was difficult to ascertain.
However, he was startled when Alice suddenly dropped her spoon in horror. The utensil made an unpleasant wet smacking sound as it fell back into the porridge. She stared at de Sauvinage, her eyes round and her cheeks flushed.
"What is it, Mademoiselle Alice?" he asked, his voice choking up to a higher register and his French accent deserting him completely.
"Have you done it?!" she shouted in a most unbecoming way.