Retten Hall was a medium-sized stately home with only thirty-one bedrooms. It had had more, prior to the second world war, but an incident of some kind had resulted in the loss of a residential wing. I had been unable to easily find out any details of the incident, and as it was just to satisfy my curiousity I'd not pushed it further. The obvious way to the next floor and the north side of the hall was via the stairs, but I was well aware that all the stairwells had security cameras in them. So I opened the window and climbed through, standing on the broad stone window ledge, and closed the window again behind me.
The night air was chill and the sweat from my earlier exertions not yet dry, so I shivered a little almost straight away. I turned round in a tight circle, shuffling my feet. If I fell it was only two floors, I doubted that I'd hurt myself, but I'd then have to climb three floors up instead of one. I reached up with my hands, and found the ornamental brickwork that ran halfway up each floor, and pulled myself up.
The brickwork protuded only a couple of inches from the wall, so when I'd pulled myself up so my waist was level with my hands I had to lift my feet, one at a time to this tiny ledge and then painfully slowly creep my hands up the wall, never pushing outwards and unbalancing myself, until I was stood upright again, with my hands above my head. Then I edged my way around the building.
As soon as I'd turned the corner to the north side of the Hall, I turned my head enough to be able to see above me, and edged to the nearest window ledge. It just brushed against the top of my fingers, so I mentally braced myself, moved my hands back from the wall and simultaneously pushed up to my tiptoes. Slowly I started to fall backwards, just as my fingers seized the edge of the windowsill, and I pulled up, pulling myself away from the wall and the danger of falling. The windowsill, being much wider, was a far easier place to stand, or as now, crouch.
The window was curtained on the inside which meant I'd have to take a chance on this being an occupied bedroom. I slipped a brass collar stay from my shirt and use it to lever up the latch on the window. Security at Retten Hall had been done on the incremental improvement plan, and was notably sporadic. The window opened outward, so I moved inside of it and let it open slowly, and blessedly silently. Then I ran drew the curtain very slightly aside, and peered in.
It was a bedroom, and there was a man asleep, alone in a double bed. I could his face clearly, and to my slight surprise it was my rendezvous. This made things much easier. I stayed crouching and removed a cufflink, a little bronze bar with a ball on the other side of the stem. Then I twisted it, and pulled, extending it out to three inches long and uncapping a hollow point. A second twist locked it in place, and I stepped from the windowsill into the room.
I crossed the room in three quick strides leaving the curtain slightly open so that I could check for obstacles on the floor. The man in the bed stirred slightly, but I was there before it could become wakefulness, and I drove the cufflink-blade into the side of his neck. He stiffened, and his eyes opened, but the fast-acting curare derivative robbed him of his voice before he had a chance to scream. He tried to sit up, but the drug was stealing his motor control and he sagged back onto his pillow. When his breathing stopped, I was satisfied that the poison had been effective, and I returned to the window, to slowly climb down to the ground floor. Dr. Phillip McAuley had been silenced and I could collect my fee.