Lt. Bradley McFarlane’s Journal
10 March – Morning
The morning started with the prospect of being miserable. Cold, with a brisk wind. The sky a dull, heavy leaden grey. The previous night’s snow storm had lain upon London a dawning new whiteness. A winter’s lustre to replace that which had faded from the seemingly endless flurries of earlier in the week. The Cleansing Department was already out and about doing their best to clear up the hoary drifts and slippery thoroughfares. A bit breathless, I stood curb side awaiting Tanner, who had rung up earlier to inform me of when he was to arrive. Miss Willingham’s was all silent below when I came down – or I would have popped in to see if she had some word from Veronica – for whom I was growing exceedingly worried, when suddenly, about the corner there came the spectacle of a canary yellow Humbler, skidding about as it cornered rakishly too fast, especially with two young seamen in their dress uniforms, beneath long woolen coats, holding as tight as ever they could, standing as they were upon the running boards. The Humbler pulled to a crunching halt beside me.
“Good morning, Lieutenant.” Tanner, far brighter than the night before, said as he leaned over to pop open the invitation of the passenger door.
I must admit I had to admire the motorcar, “I say, wherever did you manage to get such a machine Tanner?”
“Oh, now, he’s not telling,” A young seaman standing so precariously upon the running board said as he stepped off, removing his gloves, in order to blow a warming breath into the cup of his hands. “We’ve already tried all manner of inducements to get that bit of information from him.”
“We’ve even told old Randy here, we would stand him up for pints at the Snipe & Shaft.” Added the other seaman from the opposite side the car.
“But mum’s the word.” The seaman nearest me, rubbing his hands together, replied in a bit of a lowered voice in mocking Tanner’s apparent secrecy.
Tanner leaned over on the seat of motorcar so as to look out the open door, “That is Andrew, and this . . . “he continued, looking back over his shoulder at the seaman standing the running board behind him, “Is Michael.”
“Lieutenant.” They each said and passed off a rather sloppy salute.
“Andrew . . . Michael,” I acknowledged each in turn, uncertain as to why Tanner had thought to bring these young lads along, especially for the scandalous task we had set for ourselves – which I would have thought necessitated a certain degree of stealth and far more unobtrusiveness than a couple of seaman dangling from a jaundiced motorcar.
“Shall we be off?” Tanner asked patting the seat in inducement for me to enter.
The Humbler navigated its way stoutly along the narrow, hoar covered thoroughfare, its narrow tyres cutting fresh ruts in the new fallen snow. Although it was a cold morning, I felt gladden by the weather as there were so few souls out and about to brave the streets, seeing as how we were providing quite a sight. As to why Andrew and Michael did not seek the back seat and some comfort away from the elements, I didn’t press – even as I didn’t question whether their names were really Andrew and Michael, owing to the lack of any surnames by way of introduction, or, as to why Tanner had brought them along to dangle from the motorcar. My mind was still rather conflicted. I mean, where the deuce was Veronica?
Tanner’s call to inform me this morning of when precisely he expected to arrive at my flat had given me ample time to pop off to the local post-office and send yet another telegram. I had taken a cab around to her rooms last night, amidst the thickening of the snow storm, but she was not home. All of which was a worrisome bother what with the weather and the fact I had not heard from her in the last twenty-four hours. Her landlady, Mrs Burrows indicated that Veronica had been in during the day, but had gone out earlier and as yet had not returned. And so, I left with Mrs Burrow’s a note – but, this morning there was still no reply to either my note, or my letter, or any of my telegrams. And with the possibly of a maniacal vivisectionist wandering about with a sharpened set of knives I could not help being overcome with a growing sense of dread. As terrible as the thought, I could not help but think it best she was avoiding me as some precursor to a break-up.
Tanner navigated through the slippery streets with considerable skill as we made our way toward the Thames and Blackfriar Road. I took note of Andrew hanging from the motorcar beside me, the cold wind entering as the window was let down so he could hook an arm about the post, as he, with quite a display of dexterity, opened a small flask , which he had taken from his hip pocket, and knocked back a nip. I could have certainly used a quick brace myself what with the chill whipping about the interior of the motorcar.
“What’s all the dangling about? Can’t they just take up in the back?” I inquired of Tanner.
He smiled, “Had a bit of a night at the Snipe & Shaft.” He explained, “The air’ll do ‘em some good – we want them sharp at Pamela’s.”
I nodded “Pamela’s. Quite Right,” and I pulled my collar up and huddled into the seat.
In some contemplation of our chosen course of action— I was ever mindful that the police, either of the Metropolitan or City variety, would doubtless have poor Pamela’s flat well locked up and secured, with perhaps a few harried coppers about to stand guard beastly miserable in the brisk wind and the new fallen snow. But, from our earlier conversation, Tanner saw the night’s snowstorm as nothing less than a most fortuitous opportunity. The weather, by his estimation, could only serve to be an invaluable distraction aiding in the implementation of his stratagem, which, as yet, he had not divulged. The fouler the weather, Lieutenant, the less coppers we may have to contend with, he had said with some enthusiasm.
As if guided by clairvoyance, he glanced over with a wide smile and asked, "So Lieutenant, still worried about the constabulary?”
“Well, it is a crime scene after all, don’t you know.” I mused.
“So—what do you figure? There be what, one, two peelers at the place?" Tanner inquired with a distinctive air of professionalism as he shifted gears and the Humbler lurched. It was highly evident he had done something quite as ridiculous as this before—perhaps not in a while, but, certainly more than once, and the closer we drew to Blackfriar Road the more I could detect in him a growing excitement.
Speaking over the sound of the motor, I replied: "Well, I would suspect they will have at best a constable or two at the door, perhaps, one more to secure the back, assuming there’s a back entrance. And there’s no reason not to assume there isn’t. Unless, they have determined that her flat was the site of her murder – then . . . well, there’s no accounting for what we might be in for; and, if that’s the case, then, well our whole plot’s gone bust. They will have picked the flat apart.”
Tanner nodded and fished a cigarette out of his jacket pocket and placed it between his lips, “Yeah, sounds about right.” He awkwardly struck a match against the side of his shoe and lit the cigarette, blowing smoke through the window. “Best we play it as it lays, sir.”
“Right.” I nodded in agreement, “And Tanner – I can’t say enough, you pitching in like this to help.”
“Well, Pamela was too good a bird for what was done to her. “ He replied softly and with a bit of sentiment as he exhaled a plume of smoke, which the whipping wind unfurled about his head.
Drawing near, the Humbler made a turn and then proceeded to make its way up Blackfriar Road, the tyres slipping and cutting new ruts in the undisturbed snow. I inspected the numbers of the row-houses. There was a thin woman, attired in a long coat and a scarf about her head, sweeping at the snow upon her porch, with a expression of annoyance at having to sweep away that which she had only swept away earlier in the week. I took note of the house number and following the progression pointed ahead, “It’s the one there ahead on the end.”
“Right you are Lieutenant,” Tanner said looking ahead to take note of the two constables, one standing on the short front porch conversing with the other who stood his ground before him. They seemed to be moving rather nervously about, which I suspected was more an attempt to keep warm than from any unease.
I looked over at Tanner, "If there is one watching the back entrance then it’s about what I would have expected.”
“Then we’re bang on,” Tanner said with a smile, “Have you heard of Wilhelm Voigt?”
The name sounded fairly familiar but at the moment I couldn’t place it. “No—I can’t say that I have.”
“German chap,” Tanner explained over the sound of the motorcar’s engine, “Ten years ago. He dressed up in an army officer’s uniform in a town outside Berlin.” He removed the cigarette from his lips and looked over to me, “Convinced everyone he was an officer and moved to have the mayor arrested. He then ‘confiscated’ 4000 marks.”
That said he pulled the Humbler to a halt in front of 85 Blackfrair Road. Andrew and Michael stepped off lively from their running boards. Andrew moved purposefully around the bonnet to stand beside Michael just outside of Tanner’s door.
The two constables looked at our motorcar, then at one another, and then back at the Humbler and the two seamen.
“He was such a good actor the soldiers actually followed his orders.” Tanner calmly finished as he shut off the motor, “Now, Lieutenant I need to you be at your all officious best and moving about with intent.”
“Here on official business,” I agreed opening the Humbler door and moved around to stand with Andrew and Michael, while as Tanner got out and buttoned up his coat.
“Now boys you know the gaff?” He clasped his hands on the shoulders of his two seamen friends.
“A Voight,” Andrew replied..
“Right—only better." Tanner replied with a sly wink.
“Only—we’re not confiscating anything? Right?” Michael asked.
Tanner tossed his cigarette into the snow, “Sorry, Michael, this time we’re not innit for money, we’re just gonna look the place over for our good friend the Lieutenant here, who’s going to stand us all up for drinks after.”
Which seemed to settle the matter for Michael.
I looked at Tanner and his lads in amazement, even as the policemen stood watching us with all matter of suspicions. Only the gaze of the coppers, which was to say the least worrisome to me, seemed to have absolutely no effect upon them and for a brief moment I wondered just what Tanner and his crew were capable of upon those other ‘times’ when they might have been in it for the money.
“I will just follow your lead,” I said trying to look as if we had purpose for being there, “You lads are far more adapt than I at this type of field work.” I told them.
Tanner, donning his peaked naval officer’s cap, made a quick survey of the area, while the two seamen moved to stand beside him smartly. With a slight nod of his head, Tanner proceeded to walk away from the Humbler and up the snowy walkway leading up to Pamela Dean’s flat. Together we progressed side-by-side: two naval officers and their apparent escort approaching now the obviously curious policemen. I took note of the snow covering the walk, there seemed to be only the footprints of the two constables, which would indicate that they had arrived and had been stationed to this duty of securing Dean’s flat sometime during the night. The good in this evidence was they would be tired and less likely to be fully alert. The bad being that someone should be coming to relieve them shortly.
“Hey, now, you gentlemen— you need to step back.” The eldest of the constables warned as we drew near.
The second policeman seemed less certain what with a complement from the naval department advancing upon him.
“Good morning gentlemen.” Tanner responded to the stern warning with a strong, purposeful voice. “Good to see you’ve been keeping the crime scene nice and clear of vagrants.”
The second constable spoke up, "And a right nice morning to you Sir. But, we will be asking, what business do you gentleman have here?”
“I’m Lieutenant Joseph Clay, this is Lieutenant Bradley Loam. We’re from Naval Intelligence, and we’re here to investigate these premises.” Tanner reached into his inside jacket pocket and removed a very officious looking document, which bore the purple bruise of some formal stamp. Without a moment’s hesitation he handed it over to the second constable, rather than the first. Glancing at it I took note the document was in fact an official form authorizing access and agency to the premises for the expressed purposes of conducting a naval investigation. It was signed ‘Admiral Henry Plowman.’
The constable, whom I later was to discover was PC Winston, took the paper and began looking it over as the elder constable, a PC Reid, stepped over to have a look. He took the form from Winston and began to give it some scrutiny.
“She did work for the Naval Department from what I have heard.” PC Winston reminded.
“Right, I am aware of that.” The older officer snapped curly, as he took the document from the younger man and refolded the page. “Now, not to be obstructing the Navy in any way sir, but, owing to circumstances just as they are, I have to ask, does this here, “ and he waves the folded form, “Pertain to the war effort?”
Tanner took a moment and lifted a knowing brow, "Owing to her role in the Naval Intelligence Department, which I’m sure you are aware we cannot divulge, at this time, there is sufficient reason to suspect that her most brutal murder is related to such efforts as became her role.”
PC Winston nods, “Understand sir, and pardon for having to ask. But you see one of our own was beastly murdered here last evening.”
“A constable murdered? Here?” I asked throwing some authority into my voice in the hopes of disguising my astonishment. .
Andrew stepped forward and grimly peered at the front door. "Sir? There’s blood on the door here.”
“Aye, a City Inspector – shot in the line of duty. Confronted an intruder on the premises, he did." PC Reid replied, as he continued to hold the folded document. It was obvious he was still uncertain and was trying to make a decision as to which way to react to having the Navy coming to call upon his door.
“Certainly gives credence to your intelligence Sir.” Michael popped in to the conversation – timed so that Tanner gave him a quick look. .
“This is most disconcerting news gentlemen” Tanner replied, returning his attention to PC Reid, “Most disconcerting. Events may be proceeding a pace far faster than we have anticipated.”
“We need to take a closer look, Lieutenant Clay.” I added with all seriousness.
“Right.” PC Reid having made his decision, handed the folded form back to Tanner. He turned and stepped up to the blood-stained door and took a key to what looked to be a freshly installed lock.
Tanner tucked the folded document back into the inner pocket of his coat.
“Thank you constable for your service. It’s an honour to those proud lads doing their duty for the nation that you so protect their loved ones.” I said in hopes of puffing them up a bit so as to be ever more obliging. “I say, I don’t think we got your names.”
“I am PC Thomas Reid and that there is PC Peter Winston, sir. We are with the City Police.” He replied quickly as he opened the door, which revealed more than enough evidence of the violence which had taken place just inside poor Pamela’s doorstep. Blood was splattered upon the facing of the door, as well as upon its side jabs and sill. There was also visible a rather good sized stain just beyond the threshold on the hardwood floor.
“Several inspectors and the surgeon were here till late in the night and then we’ve been on watch every since” The constable offered up a brief report of events, “It’s been quiet. Nothing, out of the unusual. Just the snow and the wind.”
Andrew was quick with a notebook and a pen with which he began to take notes.
PC Winston, the younger of the two constables, whom at first I thought to be the more helpful in our stratagem, watched with some considerable interest as Tanner and Andrew stepped carefully across the threshold to skirt about the stain on the floor. His expression far more suspicious than that of PC Reid, who, it was readily apparent, was the superior charged with securing Dean’s flat.
PC Reid continued— “They will be sending replacements down shortly.”
“Nothing like a warm room, and some hot tea after such a shift, eh?” Tanner remarked, seemingly distracted as he pointed at the floor making a motion to Andrew who nodded and wrote something down.
“That’s the truth sir. Me feet are all but frozen.” The amenable constable admitted as I stepped into the sitting room, which was in some considerable disarray. Furniture moved about haphazardly. One drape had pulled down and was lying in a cast-aside heap on the floor. Several small pillows from the chair and sofa were tossed on the floor. A small rug was kicked back. Clots of mud littering about the floor. Dirty footprints tracked every where.
“Then sir, by all means, do come inside and get a bit of warmth,” Tanner ordered and both constables did as he suggested, followed by Michael, who amazing produced, as if by some legerdemain, a Kodak Brownie. Where the deuce he had that hidden was beyond me.
Tanner pointed to the floor, “Several shots of these mind you, and the door. Various angles.”
“Right, Sir.” Michael said and stepped over to aim and shoot.
PC Reid watched the bit of photography with idle curiosity: “So you’re with the NID? I had a cousin who wanted to get transferred, but, he’s on a ship in the Med about now.”
“Is he now?” Tanner asked.
“Reid you assist the gentlemen, I’ll maintain watch.” PC Winston offered, standing just inside the front door, as we continued our movement about the disarray of the sitting room.
“Yes, sir.“ Was PC Reid’s reply to Tanner as he seemed now quite domesticated, following in Tanner’s footsteps as he continued to point out various parts of the room, to which either Andrew took a note or Michael a photograph.
Pushing the peak of his cap back with his thumb, he placed a reassuring hand on the constable’s shoulder – “I wish him the best. Get out of Gallipoli did he?”
“Oh, he was at the Dardanelles. Terrible defences them Turks got down there.”
“Threw every bloody thing we had their forts but they mostly held.” I offered picking up the pillows and putting them back upon the sofa.
“Oh, aye, he was lucky Sir. I told the missus the lord must have been smiling upon him.”
Tanner squatted down to look at a muddy footprint. “Well, we can all hope that transfer comes through.”
“Assume it was a long night here." I offered peering down at the footprint as well.
“Aye, right long.”
Tanner takes out a note pad and points down at the footprint, “This number 10 here, was it before or after the tramping about.”
“Oh, that’s one of the constables, I fear, sir.” Reid explained, “Most of what you see here is from them tramping about as you say sir – what with the weather and all. And then, there was them first two Metro coppers, Inspectors as I was told, who were on the scene when poor Inspector Cotford took that shot in the head.”
“Metro – The Yard? I would think this is City jurisdiction.” I asked.
“They were in and out of here long before our City coppers arrived.” Winston said with some heat from the door, “They left the place well tended – I must say. What with the poor Detective Cotford beastly dead. But no time for him. Least wise it seems. Off to do more important detecting. But, as PC Reid said, what with the weather we had, and all the comings and goings, the place ain’t as tidy as it was when we first arrived.”
“Like as not you can request a report of them that was here.” Reid offered, “And then there’s the surgeon’s report as well. Not sure, you would get much from them Metro’s, seein’ as how they couldn’t catch that madman years ago – I say what bloody good are they?”
“These Metropolitan’s would you happen to know their names?” Tanner asked as he arose from his inspection of the number 10 footprint.
“Madman?” I asked.
“You know, old Saucy Jack.” The older officer replied.
“You mean, The Ripper?" I deduced his meaning.
“Some thinks it’s him back from retirement." Reid offered.
“Or the dead.” PC Winston scoffed.
“Now, you don’t be making light – the man, if he were a man, had more than a bit a whiff of the occult about him, I says.”
“A Ripperologist?” I mused.
PC Winston slyly smiled, “Thinks it runs in the family.”
“I have said, many times before, there is no relationship.” PC Reid heated for a moment, his hands making a sort of waving motion of negation. Reid – right. I now made the connection— Reid being one of the Inspectors that had investigated Ripper.
Tanner moved on and stepped through the connecting door into the bedroom, which apparently Dean used as a study as well. On his way he stopped briefly to place a reassuring hand on the constable’s shoulder, “Could be, or could be a saucy Kraut. That’s why we’re here.”
The bedroom was just as disheveled. The police having ransacked it. Books scattered. Desk drawers half open. Bed linens stripped and tossed about. I frowned as I took note of the spread from the bed, having been pulled away. It lay wadded in a corner – blood-stained.
Poor Pamela I thought – look what they have done to your most private chamber.
Tanner stepped over to scan the desk and bookcases. He pulled open each drawer and inspected them.
“Well, he didn’t use a firearm. The blade was his weapon of choice.” I muttered looking at the titles of the books lying about at my feet.
“There is that sir.”
“Quite the cyclone came though here, din’nit?” Tanner suggested over his shoulder glancing out the window to the rail yard beyond, before resuming his slow survey of the room.
Reid nodded, “Well, you know, when one of ours goes down, they are none too gentle in looking for a clue. It appears someone entered from the back, there, through the kitchen, and pulled a weapon on those Met detectives. Then Cotford arrived and the intruder shot him.” Reid motions again toward the door-less threshold leading to the kitchen, “Then he took off out the back here.”
Winston from the front room could be hear to snort—
“One of them was a female.”
“One of who?” Tanner asked looking over at the constable.
“Them Met coppers." Reid replied with a hint of disgust. "It’s the damn war – all the good men are off fightin’. “
Tanner nodded, “That’s the truth. Still, would you rather the petticoats on the beat, or in the trenches?”
The constable cocked his head to one side as if studying the question before he nodded a bit in ascent to Tanner’s suggestion. The later was busy moving about the room, his eyes keenly making observations. He was far better at this than I. He seemed, for a moment, a real detective. He stepped through the threshold so as to enter into the kitchen, “Gas was once laid on but it’s been converted.” He mused.
“If you say—it’s electric now.” Reid replied.
I noticed that some lingering gas pipes along the upper left wall of the kitchen seemed to have attracted Tanner’s attention. He stood looking at them as he wrote something in his notebook aware that Reid was observing him. As PC Reid moved over toward the desk, where Michael was taking a few photographs, I caught a movement of Tanner’s head toward the pipes and then he looked at the constable. I quickly gathered his meaning.
“Be sure to get shots of most of this room,” I said to Michael as I stepped over toward them.
Behind me Tanner reached over for a kitchen chair.
PC Reid reached down and picked up a book, “I must say the poor girl must not have had much of a social life, seems all she did was read.” He put the book on the desk distractedly.
“So that’s the rail yard beyond.” I said standing so as to block the view to the kitchen and misdirect the constables attention out the window.
Tanner placing the chair into position stood upon it to better inspect the gas pipes which had not been removed after the transition to electrical power. I caught a glimpse of him as he started to lightly tap on the pipes with his knuckle.
“Right, runs to the Blackfriar rail bridge and points beyond.” The Constable explained, “Not much of a view for a lady.”
“But these flats would no doubt make up for that by being economical.” I said, continuing to keep PC Reid’s attention distracted from Tanner and the kitchen.
“Oh, aye, I would think so.” He said,
“Oh and shots of the bed.” I said to Michael. The constable turned now to looked over as Michael took a photo of the stripped bed.
“Like I said, you might wish to request reports from the Thames Station seeing as how this was all done last night by them that was investigating.” PC Reid informed him.
I hazarded a quick glance to observe Tanner inspecting the cap on the end of the pipe. He seemed to be looking at it as if examining small scratches about it, before he lit a match and placed it near – no doubt to confirm that the gas was off.
“So—they don’t suspect this as the murder site.” Michael said aware of our intentions in keeping the constable distracted as he took another shot and then looked over at Reid.
I watched as Tanner reached up and grasping the cap at the end of the pipe gave it a twist—and it yielded. He turned it quickly and removed it. He placed two fingers within before lifting the dying match up, and rising on the tip of his toes, peered into the pipe.
“Well not for the Dean murder.” Reid replied.
“No clue as to that then?” Michael asked.
“Not that I have any awares.” Reid shook his head
I took notice that Tanner was now trying to push his fingers further into the pipe as if trying to get at something. He removed them suddenly. Rather than risk getting his fingers caught in the pipe embarrassingly, I watched as he used the eraser end of a pencil to get at whatever had drawn his attention and saw him sliding forth papers rolled up so as to have been inserted into the pipe.
Tanner took a quick look at the papers and then hurriedly placed them in his coat pocket for investigation later
Reid turned and now concerned he has not kept watch on Tanner in the kitchen moved past me to see him standing on the chair where he was looking up at the upper shelf of one of the cupboards. He stepped down and pulled the chair back to the table and looked through the doorway, “Right – well Officer Reid, I think we’re about finished here. The place has been fairly well given the go through by the good men of the City Police it would appear.”
“They went through it last night as I said”
Tanner stepped away from the table. “Right you are – and a right thorough job of it they’ve done. Now, Miss Deans affects? They would be at the city police department, yes?’
“Thames Station.” PC Reid nodded. “What’s still there. Most of Dean’s personal items were to be sent over to the Yard. You see they made an arrangement.”
“An arrangement?” Tanner asked as he re-entered the bedroom wiping his hands together.
“Right. So, the City Police retain jurisdiction for Inspector Cotford’s murder and the Yard will be handing Miss Dean’s. The commissioner and some AC from the Yard were here last night working it all out."
“Alright, that’s just fine. We’ll stop by both.” Tanner nodded.
“Yes, gentleman, that is situation as we find it this morning,” A new voice said. I turned quickly and there standing in the threshold of the bedroom door was what was evidently a City Inspector. He was dressed in a black suit, with a clean white shirt and a narrow black tie. His overcoat was an even darker hue of black than his suit. He wore a pair of black woolen gloves, the fingers of which had been cut away to expose the flesh from the knuckles to the tips. He stood idly shifting a box of matches in hand as he looked at us all. “And, so . . . can we say the Department of the Navy is satisfied with our investigation – thus far?”
“Looks most efficient sir.” I spoke up.
He gazed at me. “Is it now?” He stopped shifting the matches within the matchbox. He opened it and removed one, which with the edge of his thumbnail he fared into a flame to light his cigarette.
“Alright boys, pack it in.” Tanner raised his voice for Andrew and Michael to hear, before he replied to the new arrival. “Certainly, you must be here to relieve these fine gentlemen from their lonely sentinel.”
He takes a long drag of the cigarette and flicks the flame of the match out. “So—might I ask, Miss Dean, was she working on anything . . . special?”
Tanner smiled amiably, “I’m sure you are aware I cannot disclose that information.” Michael and Andrew having moved to stand at attention behind him. “There is a war on after all.”
I smiled as well at the apparent City Inspector, “Am sure you understand, security protocols and whatnot.”
“Now, we have all we need from this site, we shan’t get into your way. I understand you have to find a copper-killer.” Tanner said by way of excusing himself as he moved toward the door connecting back into the sitting room, “My most sincere condolences”
The detective in black stepped aside to watch as we exited, before he slowly turned to follow—
“The Naval Department shall be more forthcoming, of that I would be most assured.” He was careful to remove the cigarette from his lips by using the exposure of his fingertips, “I have an appointment there later this morning."
PC Reid having followed us as well – seemed more than a bit anxious to return to his post at the door, having been caught off guard as he was by the arrival of the detective. Tanner took a moment to reward the constables for their assistance, which neither seemed at all eager to receive at the moment. “Thank you both, you’ve been a great service to your king and country. I’ll be sure to mention you both favourably in my report.”
“Either of you happened to know a Captain Purdy?” The man in black asked standing in the threshold of the ransacked bedroom. “Alexander Purdy?”
I took note of Tanner as he looked at this rather imposing Inspector from the London City Police as if trying to figure his game.
“Certainly, Captain Hall’s second.” Tanner replied now within an arm’s distance of the front exit.
“A good man?”
“Certainly.” I replied.
“Just wondering.” The man in black took a long drag from his cigarette watching as we all headed to the front door – no one side-stepping the stain on the floor in our haste to escape the flat.
Tanner exited first, followed by Andrew and Michael with myself last to follow in their wake. I could feel the glare of the man behind him as I nodded to PC Winston and was just stepping off the porch when the City Inspector stepped into the open doorway, “I am sure he will be waiting for your report as to our efficient investigation thus far.”
Tanner let us pass him by as we proceeded down the snowy walk, “I am more than certain he will be pleased.”
As the man spoke smoke escaped his lips, “This Purdy.” He flicked ash from the cigarette allowing the grey particles to flitter upon the breeze to stain the snow. “He rang us up this morning. Seeking an appointment to discuss Miss Dean. Something about national security. I would guess you couldn’t speak to that—“
He motioned for Reid to stop advancing toward him with a flick of his hand.
“I’m sure you’ll get all your answers at your interview later. Come on boys.” And Tanner turned to follow us we proceeded toward the Humber. “Good morning to you inspector”
We could all feel the man’s eyes upon us as he watched us making our way to the motorcar.
I feared it was frightfully evident we were trying not to hurry.
“Oh, I say. One other thing.” Came his voice from the door.
I took a glance to see him motion for PC Winston to stand his ground.
“Either one of you happen to know a Lieutenant McFarland? Bradley McFarlane?” The man asked.
My heart went all a rush in my chest as I followed Tanner.
Tanner practically pushed me around the bonnet to the other side of the Humbler before he opened his door, “A good day to you sir.” And he took his seat behind the wheel. “Do not react.” He whispered out of the side of his mouth as he started the motorcar’s engine.
I looked up to the flat’s front door where the man in black stood slowly smoking. I could tell he was speaking to the constables. I was more than certain he was telling one of them to take down the number plate of the car just as Winston stepped down from the porch.
Tanner engaged the gear and the car lurched forward as we witnessed PC Winston slipping on the snow as he hurried out toward us with his notebook in hand.
The last I saw of the City Inspector he had turned to point a finger hard into the PC Reid’s chest – where I am more than certain he was saying: “And you sir. Tell me everything they said—and everything they did.”
Finally out of earshot and around a slippery corner, Tanner was relieved so as to sigh heavily. “Godshooks, that man gives me the shakes. Bradley, you’re home sick today. No—no arguments. I don’t want you around when he comes calling. Michael, Andrew, you lads might want to keep out of trouble too.”
“What was that all about? “ I turned to Tanner, “Purdy wants to talk to the City Police about what? Dean? National security? And how the deuce does he know my name?"
“I don’t know, but ol’ Purdy’ll raise quite the fuss if he finds out we’ve been out here.’” He told me, taking a quick glance backward, “We’ll ditch the car out back of ‘The Lion’, and take the tube. Will Veronica kill you if you grew a moustache?
I looked out of the window. Something was very, very amiss. First Dean – Dean so beastly dead. And second – well, I had seen her that night at Waterloo. Which of course meant I was perhaps the last to see her alive. Which would make me material, but then, that would mean it should be the police metropolitan or city who would have been around to call. Not Admiralty House calling the other way around – and to what end? Speak to them about me having seen her? But, how would they have known – unless . . . I hazard even to write it down, but unless bang it all whatever it was I had uncovered, with that documentation concerning Hawkins, had been such that they had had me followed to Exeter. And so, they would have seen us making that late night rendezvous – and yes, there were those two surly men at the newsstand. I had quite forgotten the blighters. Unsavoury gents to say the least – and why did I not stay about with Pamela with them about. Because one sees blokes like that in the station all the time, particularly these days – those seen not adequate to serve.
“Bradley?” Tanner’s voice rose as he sought to gain my attention. I turned to him, “W-what? Oh, no – well, I am not sure. Make me more like one of those film stars I would suppose. But then, Veronica may be giving me the old heave-ho anyway.”
“What’s that?” Tanner, by circuitous route, now making his way back along streets which were beginning to loosen the snow into slush . “The gorgeous Miss Wells—say it isn’t so.”
“I don’t know. She’s not answered any of my telegrams or my letter of yesterday.” I said, “She wasn’t even home last night when I went around to call.”
“Well, old man best to fess up to whatever’s on her list of particulars and offer absolute contrition.” Tanner replied.
As he was heading to Veronica’s now rather than my rooms, he asked," You do have a key to her rooms?"
I nodded, “What ever did you find in that pipe?”
Tanner removed a key from the his jacket pocket and the documents he had extracted from the pipe in Pamela’s kitchen, “These.” He held them up. “I suspect the murderer couldn’t find the dead drop the first time round, and came back looking for it, but finding instead the Met officers and the City Inspector. What can you make of it?”
He handed them over and I unfolded the papers, which tended to fight back in order to retain their curl from the tightly rolled positioning they had held within the gas pipe. They were slightly discoloured from age, dated 8 February, 1896, which even now as I re-examine them were an amazing revelation.
But suddenly, from the backseat, where Andrew and Michael had hastily deposited themselves in order to escape the glare of the City Inspector, who had so suddenly appeared at Pamela’s flat, Andrew chimed in—"Are we really having an investigation, sir? I thought we was just playing at it?"
“A bit boys, perhaps. But you lads played your part admirably, and you know what, tonight, pint’s on me. Just, keep this to yourselves, eh?”
“Oh, and I shan’t forget – I shall stand you all up myself when given the chance. So frightfully grateful and all, but right at the moment, I must admit I am uncertain of the next hour.”
Andrew reached forward and placed a hand upon my shoulder, “Well, any friend of Randall’s is a friend of Michael’s and me – and so, if you have the need you get with Randall here and we’ll all be down straightway.”
I looked back gratefully and smiled, “I’m not right sure what kind of bother I’m in but that is awfully kind of you. And, I may hold you to it.”
“So—“ Tanner interrupted the morning platitudes and gratitudes with an eager, “What do you make of it.”
I returned my attention to the papers. They were from Admiralty House. 1896. “It appears to be a letter to admonish someone who has been asked to collate documents and files, but apparently they were an author and they had turned it all into some kind-of as it says, “penny-dreadful’ manuscript.”
Tanner took another turn and once again glanced backward over his shoulder as if expecting the City Detective in black to be following. Instinctively I did so as well. There was nothing but the lads in back and the hoary thoroughfare behind. “Had only a briefest of glances there in the kitchen. It is addressed to a Mr Stoker I took note.“ Tanner said minding the road.
“Right. Stoker.” I continued reading, “I have never seen this letterhead – and EDOM? Whatever the devil is that?’
“Classified I would say.” Tanner offered.
“The manuscript turned in was apparently titled the ‘Un-dead.”
“Like vampires?” Andrews chimed in from the back.
I stopped reading upon that exclamation and suddenly felt my heart beat a bit faster as I began connecting, Stoker . . . and brother’s house. . . and 1896 . . . and the Un-dead . . . the Celtic temperament.”
“The Gombeen Man?” Tanner said disrupting my train of thought.
“”W-what?” I asked looking over at him.
He kept his eyes on the slippery road, “I saw ‘tale of the ’Gombeen Man’ must have been something he was written.”
“Right. The Snake’s Pass.” I replied by way of explanation as I got a hold of this now, “It was his second novel. The Gombeen Man was Black Murdock: a villainous moneylender. I read it owing to the fact there were allusions to British rule in Ireland. This is a letter to Bram Stoker. Tanner, they are writing about ‘Dracula’.
“Dracula?” Tanner said with some amazement, “The blood and bosom penny-dreadful—“ He looked over at me suddenly . . . “Are you saying . . .”
I continued to read, “They are saying . . . even though they seem to be severely displeased with what he has done with their transcripts and other such documents, that what he has written, were he to make it more lurid and fictionalized, might be of some use for them. ”
“You mean add more blood and bosoms.” Tanner added.
I glanced over at him, “Have you read it?”
“Lord Lieutenant, there’s a war on, “ He replied, “I haven’t the time to read ladies gothic novels." He cut a sharp glance, “Have you?”
“Veronica has it. I flipped through it one night. The part about the three brides had caught my attention—oh, my god, it can’t possibly be!” I suddenly recalled sitting there a bit bored, awaiting on Veronica as we were going out, and picking up the book and skimming through the pages – reading about the voluptuous lips and the hot breath on the neck of . . . Harker. Jonathan Harker. “Hawkins & Harker, solicitors.”
“What.” He turned with an honest astonishment. “Your Hawkins?”
“Exeter. It all fits—somehow. “ My mind racing now with all manner of fantastic speculations.
“But from a quick glance, it all seemed to be about some after-action report. Something that happened back in 94.” Tanner said thoughtfully.
“1893 and 94.” I muttered softly having the pages before me.
Whatever could it all be alluding to? It seems there were some events they were trying to somehow contain . . . cover-up? What did it say, yes, damaging allegations. About what? And what the deuce was EDOM?’
“Tanner – what the bloody hell have I gotten myself into?"
“Myself?” Tanner replied a little more anxiously then he had the entire morning, “Ourselves—I’m well into it as well. Regardless— we should become familiar with this book. You spend this sick day reading it, at Veronica’s flat. I’ll cover for you today, but I’ll be busy with my head down avoiding our Inspector friend."
“Right." I said as Tanner shifted gears and took the next corner.
“And there’s still this . . ..” He reminded me as he held out the key.
Inspector Stone’s Casebook
10 March – Morning
His hand slapping down upon the desk struck with such force it jarred the earpiece of the telephone in it’s cradle. “ What the bloody hell!” Beside me PC Alderton flinched at the blow and hesitated in her desire to take a step back.
Welcome to the parade.
From the moment of my return to the embankment from the Kings College Library and my interview with Irene Reedmin, to find PC Alderton amidst several constables gathered about the deceased, Neil Byrne, a gin-tippler, I could hear the striking up of the band. The dismembered parts of Pamela Dean, thus far discovered, would have already cued the word mongers and now, with the deaths of a City Detective and some gin-soaked vagrant, in connection to that grim murder’s investigation, it would eventuate the ululation of their penny tune to be played for their readers.
And the Daily Express’ headlines confirmed as much as I took note of the page to which the broadsheet had been folded to lie beside a copy of the Times there upon AC Barrington’s desk. He sat imposingly, his countenance unable to suppress his irritation, which had grown into anger, "Did I not make myself clear?”
It was more a statement than a question.
“The intention, if one bloody well did received it,” He continued gruffly, “Was to assure the public that the Metropolitan Police, unlike in previous years, is far more than capable of handling a case of such sensational, as this bloody torso murder, an appellation to which they are now wont to call it.” His hand upon the desk closed into a fist, “And what the bloody hell do I have this morning? A dead City copper and a pie-eyed tramp with his neck broken. The last of which it seems to have taken place right before the very eyes of the lead investigator."
“Sir—“ Alderton swallowed anxiously as she wanted to speak.
Barrington’s eyes narrowed to silence her: “Jesus on a pony. Twenty-four hours. Just twenty-four bleeding hours—and things are this off the rails?”
“Sir . . . it is umm . . . possible, that this murder is well more than . . . a murder.”
AC Barrington sat back, “Oh, how so, PC Alderton.” His voice becoming deceptively business-like. “Perhaps, it is weather related? Fog or was it a mist?” He asked sardonically as he made a dismissive motion with is hand., “Having read your report, I really wasn’t really quite sure. It could have been the fog or then again it might have been the mist that slipped up and snapped Neil Byrne’s neck. And so – PC Alderton, are you suggesting perhaps we are to chalk it up to death by inclement weather?”
Quite successfully baited Alderton continued, “I am not certain, Sir. It looked like fog . . . but moved more like mist and I do not yet know the word for any vaporous state for something that – but, I can amend my report, once I have time to consult a dictionary, Sir.”
“Amend it? By all means to bad weather?” He nodded and gave her a cold look, “But wait. There is Cotford! Now, that was a bit of lead. From a Webley as I recall? Or did the surgeon get that wrong? Perhaps it have been hail?”
“No sir. I strongly suspect an accomplice of the woman I saw on the bridge.”
“Ah, yes, the woman on the bridge? The one that vanishes in dispersing mists?” He cut a glance to me and then returned his cold back gaze upon her, “Described as . . .” He lifts up Alderson’s report so as to read from it: “A figure so obscured within the foggy mist, she seemed at times to be quite indistinct, almost as it transparent. But, there was no mistaking the figure as that of a woman.” He looked up from the page, “Excellent police work Alderton.
“In hindsight, sir, judging by the height of the street lamps, I would say she was of at least middle height, and was exceedingly pale, almost the colour of the snow itself.”
Barrington sighed as he leaned back heavily in his chair and pursed his lips.
“I would assume the Commissioner—“ I spoke up, to be cut off curtly.
“As always Edward, you ever are so prescient.” His cold gaze fell upon me, “And, as for you. You decided what? It best to leave a City detective lying cold and turning blue so as to make a visit to the library?”
“I had need in regards to the one thing we know for certain.” I explained evenly. It was a miserable morning, the weather not withstanding, for Barrington had been upbraided by the Commissioner and as such it was to be our turn, but his foul temper was not about to dissuade me from the defence of my actions in the attempt to ascertain more information in regards to the book, and its possible significance, which had drawn the intruder to Dean’s flat in order to retrieve it – or, in obtaining a facsimile of Cotford’s casebook, of which I had yet to make a decision as to whether or not I was going to make a disclosure as to my possession. “The intruder who had slain Detective Cotford, his mission at the Dean flat was to retrieve a book – thus it was of import to try and determine what this volume may have been and of it’s significance.”
Barrington lifted a brow with irritation, “You mean a bleeding copy of Dracula.”
“Yes – well at the time . . .” I replied.
“At the time.” Barrington reiterated but seemed to let it go as he turned his ire once more upon Alderton, “PC Alderton was embarking upon her own Wilkie Collins narrative, chasing feminine will-of-the-wisps amidst the mist and fog of Waterloo Bridge in the dead of night. Of no particular interest PC Alderton, but this pale woman of the bridge – did you think to examine footprints in the snow?”
“Sorry, Sir.” She stepped forward, “I would have been certain I make note of it in my report if there were any but there none. That could be found. I can amend that as well to so indicate.”
He placed the report upon his desk, “Leave it be.” He looked up from the page, “In particulars this is as accurate an accounting, as of your memory serves?”
Alderton nodded, “Yes, sir.”
Barrington sighed, “Then it would appear our Mr Byrne was quite the aficionado of our dear, old departed Jack.”
She nodded, “He seemed fixed upon the suggestion he was involved in the dismemberment of Miss Dean . . . alluding to him being back, as he said.”
“Before we bring up all that hell—I would caution we should be ever so mindful to be of care in even alluding to . . .” I said taking a step forward.
“Saucy Jack?” He asked, “My what a change a day makes. If I remember correctly, you were just here, what, only yesterday, making some such suggestions yourself. But, in that you have undoubted received some significant insight of which I am sure you will be most forth-coming – but in the matter, you are damned right—Jack is a hell of which we do not need to be reminded. But, having said that, this Byrne.” His fingers reaching up to play at the lobe of his ear, “It would appear he seemed to know quite a bit about our Jacky. Dear Boss. Little Games. Saucy Jack. Rippin’ up another.”
“As I reported a gin induced fixation.” Alderton explained.
“But this— are you sure he said this.” He looked at Alderton. “White apron? He said white apron?’
I looked at Barrington, who had glanced up to see my reaction, “That is wrong." I said, to which he quickly replied—
“Indeed. it would appear our Mr Byrne states—and I quote from PC Alderton, ‘wearin’ me white apron’.”
“If I may,” I asked stepping toward AC Barrington’s desk and reaching out a hand for the report – which I had yet to see as Alderton had apparently risen much earlier in the morning as to have hurried into make her report. Barrington handed it over to me as he sat back in his chair and watched for my reaction as I quickly perused the document for any quotations regarding J.T.R as recorded by Alderton.
“If he knows so much that’s correct, why does he get this one wrong?” I pondered, re-reading the section. My earlier misgivings of having left PC Alderton alone at Waterloo Bridge were now somewhat mitigated, upon reading of this musing by the deceased Byrne. Had Alderton not been at the bridge she would have not been witness to his death nor would she have been able to record his references to Ripper. “It should be leather apron – not white.”
To which Alderton responded: “Perhaps it was light reflection off blood? mildew on the apron?”
I handed her report back to Barrington, “There was no accounting of Byrne among the witnesses.”
“You don’t say.” He lifted a brow sardonic brow.
Having taken note of PC Alderson’s rather inquisitive expression I turned to inform her, “J.T.R was somewhat before your arrival PC Alderton, but for those of us who find his madness a source of study, this anomaly, as regards to the apron, is of significance – especially owing to Byrne’s all too readily accurate remembrance as you have recorded – for it should have been a leather apron rather than a white one. Which might be an indication of Byrne’s confusion regarding the hue of the apron as his mixing of the remembrance of Ripper with a more recent occurrence at Waterloo Bridge and the embankment. He may have very well been a witness as yet undiscovered.”
To which AC Barrington solemnly added: “Which just might be why he got his neck snapped.”
“If J.T.R were there last night—or an accomplice, then why did they not try to—“ and her worrisome thought quickly trailed off.
In response, Barrington gave her a rather stern look, "One of the things as I have said that I best not hear, said aloud or whispered —particularly beyond this office—are any such suggestions as to the possibility of him being back – is that understood?”
Alderton’s mouth formed a thin line as she frowned, “With all due respect sir, as investigators we must consider ALL possibilities”
“Then we shall keep those possibilities to ourselves until we have some evidence to the contrary.“ The Assistant Commissioner reiterated, “Other than the rambling of some unfortunate rummy making a grand lodging of a bench, there is absolutely no evidence, whatsoever, for the continuation of this conjecture. The premise more likely is the one Edward proposes. Byrne saw something. Something he has confused in his gin-riddled brain with memories of our Jack – but something material nevertheless in the Dean murder for which he was silenced. Headlines and word-mongering aside, the primary line of our investigation remains, as it ever has with Pamela Dean. To that end, I’ve received a call this morning from The Admiralty House. A Lieutenant Rice, requesting to have sent around those investigating Dean’s death in order to meet with a Captain Purdy. Alexander Purdy.”
“Any indication of why they would be making the request?” I asked, as in the normal course of events we would have been the one to have called upon them. In fact, it was one of the areas of inquiry I coincidentally felt we should me making the rounds of today.
“It could be the deceased is a member of the Naval Department and there just happens to be a war on.” Barrington replied a bit contemptuously, “So, let’s not get lost in the fog and snow on this, shall we.”
“Yes—No, sir.” Alderton replied.
With a cock of his head he sighed and the waved a dismissive hand, “Shall we strive for these next twenty-four hours to achieve something like normalcy in a murder investigation? Yes? Now, off with you – straight away, the Department of the Navy has need of you.”
As we turned to depart, Barrington asked me to stay a bit longer. I assumed this would be when he would inform me the Alderton experiment was to soon draw to a conclusion, which even Alderton may have very well suspected glancing back at me anxiously as she exited AC Barrington’s office; but, I was not correct in the surmise.
He tossed Alderton’s report to the side, “Detective Inspector James Fitzjames Spenser. Aware of him?”
“He was one of Roberson-Kirk’s.” I nodded, “Dismissed from Special Branch, owing to the severe improprieties in the matter of the Callaghan Investigation.”
“Well it seems he is now with the City Police.” The Assistant Commissioner said placing his elbows upon his desk and interlocking his fingers so as to rest his chin upon them. “They have put him on Cotford’s murder investigation.”
“The devil you say.” This was beyond belief. More than mere irregularities, which was their wont, their actions were rumoured to have passed beyond, into undisclosed illegalities, which had brought dismissal rather than charges, owing to the need for the preservation of reputations of some such personages of rank and some considerable notoriety.
His smile was the once old wicked smile I had seen long before he was docked behind the massive desk, “Yes, the devil no doubt. Sly and crafty. And now he works for the City Police.
“How is this permissible?”
His look was one of some considerable commiseration as he sighed heavily, "It is the way of the universe, Edward. The devil walks hither and tither or so he says.”
“With Robertson-Kirk it is ever among Minsters and MP’s.” I added. “Sir,“ I took a hesitant step forward, “There is some evidence that there might by some chicanery afoot.”
“And where might this evidence spring forth, I have not seen it in any report.” Barrington asked pointedly.
I removed Cotford’s casebook and placed it on his desk. He took a look at it with a glance suggestive that he did not really see it at all lying there. “And, that, I am assured shall make it’s way back from whence it came – with no dog path leading back to the Yard.”
“Upon my to do list for this day.” I replied, “ But—there is a witness that might suggest the purse—Dean’s purse—was planted. And, there is an indication of the involvement of a red-headed woman.”
He looked up, “That is suggestive.”
I nodded grimly.
He gave me a very long and knowing look, “Take care Edward. Whatever this is it reaches into Admiralty House.”