The tea arrived at that moment, a pot on a tray with three cups and a dish of honey. It occurred to Lilah that the water must have been boiled by a magic spell. The things people did with magic these days. Margaret didn’t curtsey this time, but stood back and watched Henry.
“Thank you, Margaret,” said Henry. “I don’t need you for anything more. But the library and the laboratory are both yours for the afternoon.”
“Thank you, Professor,” said Margaret, apparently overjoyed to spend the afternoon in study. She gave a tiny bow, smiling, then turned and hurried back down the stairs.
“Take honey with your tea?” asked Henry.
“No, thanks,” said Lilah, while Annelise said, “Please.”
Lilah brought out George’s little box. She set it down. “What’s this?” asked Henry. “I hope you don’t think I know what it is.”
“No, no,” said Lilah. She touched the box with her ring and several of her fingers, said some words and looked up. Shimmering in the air between Annelise and Henry stood a half-size copy of Andre. “Do you know this person?”
Henry studied the image, which was just a little transparent. “Fascinating,” he said. After another moment’s thought, he said, “No. No, I don’t. I know a number of students who look something like this, but I’m quite sure I don’t know this person.”
“Would you know if he had been a student of alchemy at the Institute?”
Henry gazed thoughtfully at the image of Andre, standing there in the air not doing very much: in fact, it was Andre just before they left the office. Henry looked at Lilah and said, “A full-time student?”
“A long-ago full-time student.”
“How long ago?”
“Oh, fifty years or so. Lord Whistler, we’re time travelers. We’re chasing down a time travel crime.”
“And this once-young fellow is the perpetrator?”
“No, actually, or, I should say, he’s a perpetrator of some things but not of the thing we’re interested in. The murder.”
“So is this then the victim that I probably don’t know?”
Lilah smiled, mostly at the thought of trying to explain the actual situation. It was best she didn’t, anyway. “Yes,” she said. “This would be more like the victim.”
Henry smiled back and said, “But he also perpetrated?”
“This young fellow,” said Lilah, “and I say that because, as you know, to a time traveler, he’s young somewhere, sometime: this young fellow was quite the revolutionary type, and he was the type of revolutionary type who tends to express himself by blowing things up. Except, of course, that this actual version of him didn’t. It’s very complicated.”
“But you don’t know him,” said Annelise. “You didn’t remember him in a class.”
“No. I definitely don’t. Mind you, I’ve been teaching at the Institute for over sixty years, and I only get to know students really when they take that second or third class with me. And Lucy, my wife Lucy, she’s much more the teacher than I am. That’s not to say she’s not a gifted scholar, of course. But she is and always has been much sought out by students.”
“That’s useful to know,” said Lilah. She held Henry with her gaze, mostly because she was trying to decide which thing to say next, which thing to ask him. But she did not really want to bring in this version of Lucy at this point. She was pretty sure this version of Lucy didn’t know anything.
So instead she waved a hand and dissipated the Andre image, and held out the box to Lord Henry. He took it and looked at it, then looked up at Lilah.
“Lord Whistler,” said Lilah, “I have a request. A peculiar request.”
“All right,” he said.
“You have been most helpful, but I have to assume that I might get the information I actually want from, well, a different version of your esteemed lordship.” She smiled primly.
He smiled the same little smile as hers. “I can see that this is indeed a complicated case. I should be most delighted to help you, so long as you promise to let me know how it winds up, I should think it would be both entertaining and worthy of my research. So what do you want me to do?”
“My turn,” said Annelise. She touched the box with her wand. They all looked at the box.
“That should do it,” said Lilah. She rose, and Annelise did too, and Henry did as well, handing them back the box. “Lord Whistler,” she said.
“Henry,” he corrected her. “I may call you Lilah and—?”
“Annelise,” said Annelise.
“Henry,” said Lilah, “I thank you very much. I do hope I can get back here and tell you everything. My,” and then she stopped before sending her wishes to Lucy, whom Henry did not know she had ever met until five years from now. “My feeling is that you have helped our investigation a lot.”
“I hope that’s true,” he said, seriously. “Time travel and magic should not be used for crime. And yet the temptation is there, isn’t it?”
“Apparently yes,” said Lilah. “I wish I was surprised.”