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The Coldfall Sanction

The Palk Report

Session Fourteen, Part Eight


Excerpt of The Varkony/Dolingen Report, commissioned pursuant to an order of the Governance Sub-Committee of the Executive Board of Coldfall House Charitable Trust, lead council Leonard Palk, Ashwith, Palk & Pearson, issued to Chairman of the Board, Coldfall House Charitable Trust, Sir Giles Crichton :

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IV. When Aaronson and Abbott met, they principally discussed Aaronson’s previous proposal of re-establishing relationships ‘by a tentative first step’ in an initial joint venture between CHCT and the newly formed The Society for The Favour of War Orphans. Aaronson stated he understood Abbott’s reluctance to move forward owing to ‘the acrimonious past’ between Countess Varkony and Coldfall House, but that he wished to assure him that he had ‘authorization to speak from Vienna.’ He stated that this authorization was based upon ‘addressing concerns, in establishing a first step toward rapprochement,’ and that if Abbott considered himself ‘at too high a level for such a discussion regarding a tentative first step’ then he was interested in determining who would be ‘the right level’ to be supportive of his goal. Abbott replied that he would try and find out if there were interests in the proposal, and who within the administration of CHCT would be the most ‘productive in furthering that end,’ but stated that confidentiality of the severest kind would be required because of the ‘sensitivity’ of holding such meetings between the old Varkony/Dolingen conspiracy and Coldfall. Abbott stated at the meeting that ‘there were those who remained highly suspicious of Countess Varkony,’ in that she had refused to maintain direct/substantial contact after the assimilation of the original conspiracy into Coldfall. Some would find any attempt at reconciliation, after so many years, to be ‘some mesmeric sleight-of-hand,’ he told Aaronson. Aaronson sought to reassure Abbott, stating that there was, ‘owing to the prolonged conflict between nations’ far more to be gained in reconciliation than’ harbouring old animosities,’ and reiterated, that as stated at the time, there had not been, ‘counter to all suspicions,’ a conspiracy with Dolingen. He maintained that rather than being a part of the original conspiracy, Countess Dolingen’s expressed purposes had been ‘for revenge,’ and to further that end she had ‘purposefully perpetuated a false alliance.’ Abbott stated that ‘in any event, if such a proposal was to go forward’ there would have to be ‘some way of showing good faith.’ Aaronson suggested it might be better to attempt some lower-level contact in order ‘to establish good intent.’ Aaronson proposed Abbott should contact, Evelyn Hathaway to see if The Pimander Club would be interested in establishing such contact.

Abbott was sceptical:

Considerable time and effort had been made by Varkony to infiltrate the household; establish a relationship; provide some rather outlandish, and I daresay dodgy, theatrics, amidst some subtle substitutions in a cemetery. All rather haphazardly cobbled together, of course, upon the arrival of Baron Vordenburg. In order to continue her grand attempt to gain access and agency over the young girl. A conspiracy that at the outset was deviously clever. But having to adapt to circumstances. Checked but not dissuaded, she eventually was successful in re-establishing connections. And was once again positioned so as to accompany the niece to England, upon the all too convenient death, ruled, of course, accidental, of the father in Italy. As intended, you see. All in an endeavour to get to the uncle. Where, once in London, Varkony’s initial seed grew ever more insidious over the years—only to have it all circumvented not only by the Wallachian, but clandestine services of the British Government as well.


Although he states in general, he had ‘come away’ from his meeting with Aaronson with ‘the feeling that the overture was genuine,’ as personal solicitor to Lady Aurora Carradine, Abbott had historical, rather than first-hand anecdotal information, in regards to not only the events that occurred prior-to-and-during the eventual founding of Coldfall House, but as well as to the ‘special nature hitherto’, and so had a ‘neutral perspective’ into the acrimonious dissolution of the ‘initial conspiracy.’

Cotemporaneous to those events, Abbott over the years had been privy to Lady Carradine’s recollections, frustrations, and critiques. He states upon the conclusion of his meeting with Aaronson, he was well aware of Lady Carradine’s thoughts as to the ‘Hungarian Whore,’ and ‘that Hillingham Slut;’ but as adverse as she was in regards ‘to those two,’ he knew her to be ever more inimical to any mention of the Countess Dolingen: “She was made feral and mad as a weapon, and is ever but a hair trigger away from a crimson disaster.” And so, as Aaronson had given him assurances that ‘Dolingen was not at all affiliated with Vienna,’ Abbot felt a reproachment with Varkony ‘was something to be explored.’

Abbott relates that he felt some apprehension in moving the proposal forward, but that if old ‘animosities’ could be set aside, it could be advantageous to ‘further direct contacts in Vienna’ as no one ‘could tell precisely as to what the end of this war would bring.’ He decided to move forward.

He states that at the time of these tentative meetings with Aaronson, in regards to members of Coldfall House Executive, he was in communication solely with Lady Aurora Carradine, Sir John Paxton, Carlyle Templeton, Sir Giles Crichton, Lady Adelaide Stuart, and, The Hon. Gerald Stickell.

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V. Two days later, 31 January 1916, Abbott met with Lady Aurora Carradine and Lady Adeline Stuart

i. Abbot’s meeting with Lady Aurora Carradine

Abbott had sent a correspondence and held at least one telephone call with H. Hamilton Hathaway prior to this meeting. He states that he was well aware there were already concerns within The Pimander Club of renewed ‘factional frictions’. In particular, the suspicion of ‘possible [factional] involvement, or provision of services, acting as an intermediary,’ in a ‘recent incident in Bucharest,’ of which the club had only days before received an encrypted communique, from the Brotherhood of the Undead, regarding the dispatch of one of their members by British clandestine services. Although as Abbott understood, The Pimander Club’s suspicions were in regard to the ‘evolving Hillingham coterie,’ rather than ‘the Varkony fraction,’ and so, upon further reflection, he concurred with Aaronson and felt it best to present Aaronson’s proposal by way of H. Hamilton Hathaway, founder of Hathaway & Co. Fine Books, and Evelyn Hathaway’s father.

On 30 January Abbott met H. Hamilton Hathaway for breakfast at the Berkeley Hotel. Abbott states that ‘H’ had been adamant in that he would not broach such a subject with his son, nor anyone else in The Pimander Club, without expressed approval of either Lady Aurora or a member of CHCT Governance Executive Sub-Committee. He wanted it ‘in writing’. Abbott stated he was uncertain if he could get such a documentary confirmation. H. Hamilton Hathaway then recommended Sir John Paxton, as Sir John had been personally involved with the dissolution of contacts between Countess Varkony’s coterie and Count De Ville’s (Baron Székely, Count Dracula) establishing London network. Abbott felt far more comfortable discussing the matter with Lady Carradine; and so, they met at Lady Carradine’s Melbury Road townhouse.

Abbott recalls that Lady Aurora was distracted. She was preoccupied with a ‘considerable concern’ in regards to Prague. Principle to this ‘concern’ was a stated ‘annoyance’ in that CHCT’s ‘Primary’’ within British clandestine services had failed to reply to several enquiries in regard to Prague. An annoyance which Abbot felt ‘out of place’ in that Lady Aurora was ‘well aware at the time, her son had been, at first, reported missing, and then confirmed among the dead, as part of the Kut siege after the failure of the Battle of Hanna’. Abbott learned as well of the amplification of Lady Aurora’s growing apprehensions, owing to ‘an earlier meeting’ between Lady Aurora and Carlyle Templeton, who had returned the day before from Madrid. As Abbott understood it, ‘there had been confirmations’ of reports of ‘irregularities in securities distributions routed via usual channels’ (Box Brothers Bank) to Madrid, as well as to various Near Eastern investments (see section 4.b.i, infra .) Abbott recalls they discussed as well her concerns about Pimander’s (The Primander Club) disturbing news regarding ‘Seward’s little trollop,’ who had, in her ’severe estimation,’ been allowed, ‘for far too long, to expand that tawdry little network of criminality of hers,’ and who was known to have had ‘some significant interests in Bucharest.’

Abbott remembers specifically Lady Aurora vexedly asking: “What the hell is all this interest now in Bucharest?”

The late January discussion, as Abbott recalls, being mostly dominated by the animated discussion regarding the ‘negligence’ in ‘the continued allowance of that most ill-advised sea-side dalliance;’ and, as Abbott states, Lady Aurora’s vociferous opinion, of the consequences of the ‘injudicious’ (at the time) negligence’ of ‘loosening his Hillingham inconvenience.’ And of the subsequent advancement of her ‘too ambitious-by-half interests on the continent.’ He recalls Lady Aurora asking: “Whose hand is in this Madrid business? Directing whatever happened in Prague?”

This was neither the first nor the last time that Abbott had listened to Lady Aurora’s ire in regards to the growing criminal enterprise of ‘that little slut.’ To what he states Lady Aurora ‘consistently referred to as: “What was a coterie, having become a network, is now an all too troublesome enterprise.’ Whereas others of the CHCT Governance Executive Sub-Committee were ‘wont to shy away from the internecine discordance among the sanguinerians,’ Lady Aurora assiduous collection of information, anecdotal or factual, as well as any ‘gossip and innuendo.’ according to Abbott, ‘at times bordered on the obsession of a Fleet Street publisher.’ And of late, Abbott was aware of her ‘ever more’ substantial interest in regards to rumours arising about ‘De Ville’s Hillingham hamartia. “That which you don’t pay attention to is the beginning of a disaster," she advised, according to contemporaneous notes taken by Abbott. Owing to these growing concerns, Abbott reported he felt it unwise to introduce the subject of Aaronson’s proposal.

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Rather Abbott contemplated taking ‘Aaronson’s overture’ to Sir Giles Crichton, in view of his hesitancy to speak to Sir John Paxton: “I don’t like being in all that close proximity, whatever their reassurances.” But in his attempt at scheduling a meeting, he was rebuffed by Sir Giles Crichton’s personal assistant, Leland Thrope, who informed him that Sir Giles’s ‘time and calendar’ were ‘at the moment consumed by the Prague matter.’ Abbott states that he felt Thorpe’s tone held the presupposition that he knew what that entailed, whereas Abbott reiterates that ‘at this time he was unaware of the significance of Prague.’

Upon further reflection, Abbott felt his initial inclination to have H. Hamilton Hathaway serve as intermediary to the Pimander Club was still the best course of action, and in that H. Hamilton Hathaway had indicated he would only move forward on the request to serve as intermediary to The Pimander Club upon application from Lady Aurora or a member of the Executive Governing Sub-Committee, on 6 February 1916, he visited Lady Adelaide Stuart.

ii. Abbott meets with Lady Adelaide Stuart.

Lady Adelaide Stuart, a contemporary of Lady Aurora Carradine, Sir John Paxton, and H. Hampton Hathaway, and a member of the board since the death of her husband, Sir Hampton Stuart, was not only conversant with events leading to the foundation of CHCT, but had been an acquaintance of R. M. Renfield, upon whose bequeathment Coldfall had been founded. (At this time Abbott states he is uncertain as to whether he was aware of the confirmation of Isolde Renfield’s monetary contributions to Rev. Algernon Marley ( see Section 3.a.ii, infra )), Abbott recalled that Lady Aurora had once ‘stated or indicated’ that Lady Adelaide had known Countess Varkony and had been a guest often to Count De Ville’s Carfax estate (which, at the time, she knew him as Baron Székely).

Upon this recollection, on his way to Lady Adelaide’s Mayfair estate, Abbott stated he felt ‘far more assured’ in his decision ‘in that [Lady Adelaide] more than likely had a far more objective perspective about the acrimonious dissolution of the relationship between them (Countess Varkony and Baron Székely (Count de Ville, Count Dracula))’ and thus could ‘make a more informed judgement’ regarding Aaronson’s proposal. And in the intervening days since his meeting with Aaronson and having received the ‘unexpected proposal,’ he had begun to ‘warm to it,’ particularly in light of Lady Aurora’s ‘obsession with fractional machinations’ (of which, at the time, he felt to be unfounded). ‘Everyone was living in the past,’ his notes indicate.

It does not appear that Lady Adelaide was at this time aware of The Pimander Club’s mounting concerns in regards to the dispatch of Imre Turcanu in Bucharest, nor of the significance of the enquiry by Simeon Haydock, of Haydock, Sprout & Wetherby, three weeks prior, of Hathaway & Co. Fine Books, in regards to the acquisition of The List of Nicolas Flamel (see Section 2.A.I, infra). According to Lady Adelaide:

I did not learn of Haydock’s subterfuge until sometime later. Much later. I am not at all certain of the date. It was a tea, with Hamilton, who as I recall, merely made some passing reference to it. Something odd, he had heard, from his son, Evelyn. An enquiry by an intermediary. Not about a book but a document. Something Evelyn had expended some considerable investment in discovering the location of, as I recall him saying. As it seemingly had been lost to history. Only to have the enquiring agent, upon receipt of the knowledge of Evelyn having located it, that it was no longer of interest to his client. Which of course proved to be a scandalous falsehood, as Hamilton said Evelyn later learned of the death of the owner. And the theft of the thing in Morocco.


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Abbott states that most of the discussion of their meeting revolved around Derby, Asquith, and the Military Act and of Lady Adelaide’s concern for her nephew Lowen Thompson, who was at the time a junior solicitor of Wholeman, Sons, Marquand & Lidderdale. Abbott recalls they discussed various means of securing ‘some position of safety for Lowen,’ owing to the recent passage of the Military Act, in that she was certain “he will be called up, you know; and we must do everything we can now to safeguard against it.” Various options were discussed. Although ‘bribery was certainly a consideration’ he recalls he ‘strenuously’ suggested ‘they should rather speak with Gerald Stickell, before advancing along that route,’ as Stickell had connections with the War Office (see section 7.A.i, infra .). Abbott is adamant that he ‘did not suggest bribery,’ that he ‘strenuously sought to dissuade the suggestion,’ and ‘had no knowledge of any such transactions.’ Although he concedes he is uncertain as to how Lady Adelaide ‘may have interpreted the resolution’ of their discussion. His ‘primary focus’ being, as he recalls, the ‘furtherance of Aaronson’s initiative’ and in obtaining ‘her Ladyship’s assistance’ in facilitating a meeting with Aaronson and the Pimander Club.

When the topic arose, Lady Adelaide expressed what Abbott recalls as a ‘sigh of irony,’ accompanied by ‘a haughty’ remark: “Oh, now that is rich. The Clairvoyante – seeks an audience does she (Abbott recalls she stated rather than asked). I would have thought the great prognosticatress would have divined that answer.” Abbott was unaware of this ability and inquired further. He states that Lady Adelaide grew wistful: “You would have marvelled at the demonstrations she and Baron Székely, or rather the Marquis de Caraman-Rubiano – as he was then known, by those, of course, less well informed – which they performed at Carfax and Coldfall. Even Eusapia Palladino would have applauded.” Abbott states he was struck by the warm regard in her voice as she mentioned the name of which he had heretofore not been aware: Marquis de Caraman-Rubiano.

“The Baron went by many names,” she informed him in response to his enquiry regarding the ‘Marquis,’ “in those heady days.” When she enquired further into precisely what was ‘the nature of her [Countess Varkony] intentions,’ Abbott stated he was uncertain, only that ‘[Countess Varkony]’s ‘representative’ had indicated ‘a desire to re-establish long lost connections’ with a ‘tentative first step’ by way of ‘our charitable organizations.’ Lady Adelaide enquired into the ‘precise nature’ of the Society for The Favour of War Orphans. Abbott explained that his preliminary ‘due diligence’ into the charitable organization revealed that it had been established to further ‘support and to provide safe harbour for those children tragically made orphan by the wanton and needless tragedy of civilian casualties, which have fallen victim to the machinations of war.’ He further explained that it was ‘based in Bucharest,’ and had ‘originating funding’ from two American philanthropic foundations: ‘one being newly formed by a multinational investment, Great Western American Holdings, and the other being an ‘old New England monied’ principle, The Whitby-Snow Foundation.

Abbot then went into details regarding his efforts heretofore to advance Aaronson’s proposal and the subsequent need by H. Hamilton Hathaway to received ‘formal authorization’ to communicate ‘the initiative’ to his son. Lady Adelaide at first was reluctant to put anything ‘formally’ in writing; whereupon, Abbot suggested, ‘perhaps a personal note’ saying something to the effect, ‘having been informed of your needs, I hereby attest that Arthur Abbott has been given, by me, authority to authorize you to take such actions, as he requests, in this matter.’ Lady Adelaide prompted Abbott to ‘write something down’ and she signed


Corrected text

The Palk Report
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