Autumn was a slow season for William Fitzgerald. The sudden chill in the air frightened people, reminded them that a long, cold winter was coming. Bridges were mended, wandering eyes were stilled, hot blood lost its ardor; all the cavepeople huddled close together. Autumn was the season of virtue.
He didn’t like taking what he thought of as “casebook” work, but he had needs, even if few and inexpensive. Scotch, coffee, and rent were inescapable. Therefore in September he reunited a whilom orphan with her family, secured their inheritance for the desperate survivors of a tyrannical miser, and prevented (legitimately!) the conviction of an innocent young man. In October, he unmasked a blackmailer with too much professional pride to buy William Fitzgerald’s silence, exorcised the ‘ghost’ — in reality a spiteful nephew — haunting the Pemberleys (which nephew laughingly confessed his hoax to his propinquity, to William Fitzgerald’s chagrin), and uncovered a drug ring for a frustrated police officer. From each of his clients he received much gratitude and little money.
It seldom snowed in his city, but winter had come when the leaves had fallen from the trees and the tops of the tallest buildings disappeared into the clouds. Two and a half months of foreboding had despaired every heart but the most sensitive, and William Fitzgerald could relax into his accustomed round of peeping, extortion, and blackmail.