"Are you acquainted with Christopher Marlowe?"
"I am surprised you do not speak of him in the past tense. He has been dead for some while."
"Since May of '93, as it happens."
"Well, then," Hunnyman tells the young man. "At that same time our company was performing in the North."
"On account of the Plague."
"That summer we went as far north as Carlisle."
"Plague did not kill Christopher Marlowe."
"So we heard."
"What news did you hear?"
"One thing and another. That, most likely, he was killed in a drunken brawl."
"Did that surprise you?"
"The man had a choleric temper and more than a full share of bad habits."
"Besides which by then I had already arrived at the age when any truly surprising things are few and far between."
"Do my questions surprise you?"
Hunnyman chooses to answer this time with some caution.
"I confess I am troubled by some doubts. I cannot conceive what it is you want to hear from me."
"Only the truth."
Here Hunnyman allows himself the relief of a faint, brief smile and the slightest kind of shrug.