The Coldfall Sanction

Knocking on Veronica's Door

Session Three - Part Three

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Telegram, Neville Pym to Lady Aurora Carradine
10 March
Subject of scrutiny finally ascertained. Winston Pleydell-Smith. Chief chemist for May & Baker. Singleton and Eskimoff bare watching.

Mrs Burrows Diary
10 March – Afternoon

Early afternoon. Day brightening. Yesterday’s snow beginning to give way to dirty slush. Mr Fentimen, the gentleman in the far right, second floor room, had made arrangements to meet with some advisor regarding some financial transaction, or so he explained, in the front parlour. I had served tea. Their meeting having broken up, I was putting away the tea cups and waving away the smoke of their pipes. Both of them having smoked like chimneys – when I took notice of the newspaper he had left behind.

Newspaper Clipping:
The Verdun Battle
(Pasted in Mrs Burrows Diary)

The German report of yesterday announced that west of the Meuse they had advanced nearly two miles on a front of about 3.3 miles below Bethincourt, and had occupied Forges and Regneville. The captures number over 3,300 French troops and ten cannon. This is the first reference in the German report to infantry actions west of the Meuse. Paris had already announced a German advance. Last night’s French report announced the repulse of a strong German attack at Bethincourt and the recapture of the greater part of Corbeaux Wood

Which of course was only columns away from more distress.

Newspaper Clipping:
Memorial sent to Mr Asquith
(Pasted in Mrs Burrows Diary)

“That we, several hundred attested married men, declare to a man that had we been told before attestation that we would be required to leave our wives and children to fight and protect the supposed conscientious objector we would not have attested. We request that arrangements be made dealing with the financial obligations of called-up married men, when their turn comes, such as the payment of rent, insurance premiums, mortgage interest, goods purchased on the hire system, etc. We are proud to recognize our attestation, and we are ready to fight for our King and country, our wives and children, but insist that the bargain made and offered by you as Premier of your own free will must be kept, otherwise we will fell justified in seriously considering the offer made by you that we should be relieved of our pledge if yours was not kept. “

I had not time to feel the vexation these clipping give me now, as I put the paper down owing to the rap of the door knocker. Putting cup and spoon on the silver service tray I left the tea set in parlour to answer the front door.

He was a tall, slender gentleman. Could have been right handsome save for the spectacles, which made him look all too bookish for my tastes. “Good afternoon, Mrs Burrows .” he said with a wide smile.

I gave him a quick survey: “I don’t have a room to let at the moment—though, you don’t look like you would be looking for one. That suit looks too West End.”

But he wasn’t having any of that, “Oh no!” says he, “Don’t you remember? I am Robert Wise, a friend of Veronica and Bradley’s. We met last month.”

“Last month you say?” I couldn’t place the spectacles nor the suit.

“If I recall you where handing me a white feather." He said solemnly – which he should, if he was refusing to serve.

And then, he gave me a sort of weak smile and that’s when I remembered him – same weak smile when I gave him the feather. “Oh, the lawyer,” I says with some irritation. “The one who as I recall was quite amiable to just letting Wilhelm motor his way up Whitehall.”

Of course he gave me a frown. “I think that’s rather exaggerating Mrs Burrows.”

“Well don’t be expecting any sympathy from me, especially after looking at the Times and this Verdun business. Says there’s 3,300 brave Frenchmen captured.” I said barring the doorway. “And good married men wondering about how they will take care of their poor families when they go off to fright for the likes of you.”

“I am quite sorry you feel that way, Mrs Burrows – but –“

“But, that’s no reason for me not to be civil –“ I says having taking note of the ring on his finger, queer new custom though it is—for whatever his excuses, there was a woman somewhere worried about him. “So come on in here and get yourself out of the cold."

He entered the foyer and took off his hat while awkwardly rubbing his hands together for warmth.

“I would be right in assuming you’re here to see Lieutenant Bradley.” I said closing the door.

“Well, yes in fact. I’ve, uh, come to check in on him and Miss Wells.” He says.

“Good thing.”

“How so?” He asks.

“He arrived here looking—well, all nervous-eyed and anxious about something.” I says, reaching to take his hat from him since he seemed awkward standing there not knowing what to do with it while trying to warm his hands. “I know he’s been worried about Vee and all, so that’s why I let him on up to her room, seeing as how the parlour was occupied." That’s when I gave him a rather pointed finger before he got any ideas about what kind of an establish I run, “ Now, don’t be getting any thoughts, I run a respectable place of lodging. But, I am of a mind if a woman today wants to have a gentleman caller step up to her room – particularly when she’s a right smart girl like Vee, and a suffragette – then she’s more aware of the consequences.”

And there he stood rubbin’ his hands with a look of bewilderment.

As I had little time for him: “The parlour was but recently occupied there’s still a bit of straightin’ and cleanin’ and so’s you can go right on up — first door at the head of the landing. I’ll have it ready shortly.”

And he nods with an “Er, yes quite. Thank you Mrs Burrows.”

I’m not at all sure I’m be taking the advice of the law from him I’m sayin’

Veronica Wells’ Journal
10 March – 3:00pm

If I could but turn back time. But alas no. It won’t do. One must squarely face the facts and the consequences for being the uttermost fool in existence. The last two days have been a mix of profound anxiety, intense anger, flashes of vehement rage, disgust and hurt, the sinking of my heart, and then, finally, a complete and unreserved capitulation. And now – the probable loss of Bradley. Forever? No doubt. For how much can his perilous predicament and possible involvement in some sordid conspiracy be traced back to those with whom I now associate? A scandalous lot. Pym, and the most insidious Mrs Willingham. The mysterious Lady Hélène Beltham. Francis Aytown, the smut peddler, and the mesmerizingly sapphic Miss Miniver. Did they not express their interest in him upon that first night?

How fortuitous your relationship—

Damn!

To what were they capable? To what was I culpable?

“Is there something wrong,” He had asked upon entering my room and taking me up in his arms – almost desperately. And at the time I knew not the reasoning and so burden with secrets of my own, which I did not know whether I could or should divulge, and perhaps wisely concealed, he had immediately detected something of them in my demeanour.

“Wrong – no, of course not.” I lied.

He stepped back – “Veronica? What is it? I can feel it – just now in your embrace, your kiss – there is some reservation – you all but flinched.”

“I don’t think that I did.” I replied trying my best to maintain an amiable tone, even as Miniver’s concoction was beginning to wear thin.

And in that moment I so desperately wanted to scream – is there no one who does not want something from me?

I wanted to take his hand and sit him down and do my best to explain: Bradley there is innocence in this world and I know you long for it. But there is none in me. Truly. And so I must be forthright with you. I mean, as Elizabeth Bennett had rightly informed Mr Darcy . . . to be sure, you knew no actual good of me— Bradley, there is no good in me. My reputation – I have no reputation. I lost that long ago. At my core, I am selfish and vane and impatient. And I have little resistance to evil compulsions. No, you have to listen to me Bradley. I am not a good woman. Or, I would not be so sorely tempted . . . and I am so sorely tempted. I know now that I am a bad girl trying desperately to be good – but it won’t do.

Instead, we stood for a long moment as he tried to discern the source of the weariness I could not conceal.

“Well something’s wrong that’s for certain.” Bradley was insistent. Worry was deep set in his eyes—

“I am just tired.” I explained and was reprieved as there suddenly came a knock upon my door.

Which stopped the interrogation. I sighed heavily, as I made my way over to the door “Please—keep your voice down. It is Mrs Burrows?”

“Bradley? Veronica? It’s Robert.” The voice that called out from the other side of the door was not Mrs Burrows – but rather another I recognized.

It was Bradley’s friend, Robert Wise. I opened to door to find him outside on the landing in his long woollen coat and gloves, hat in hand. I involuntarily lifted a hand to my hair, well aware that I must look a horrid mess – for I have already seen the dark circles under my eyes. “Oh, Robert? I didn’t know you were coming by this morning. Please, excuse me. I was up all last night . . . with a friend – she was not well.”
“Robert, is that you? " Bradley hastily stepped forward.

“Yes, I came as soon as I could. Sorry it took so long.”

Robert entered my sitting room as I closed the door behind him, and being a barrister, he immediately detected the feelings thick in the air. “I’m sorry to find you both like this. It seems times are not well for either of you.”

Bradley moved over quickly and grasped his hand, “Oh, take no mind at all, Robert, it is ever so good of you to come out on a beastly day like this—to see me. I know it is quite a bother, not coming by your office and all, but things are . . . well, to say the least, I just don’t know how things are.”

“Bradley, whatever is the matter?’ I asked – well aware he had been anxious since he moment he arrived. I was at the moment deservedly concerned – and I am callous to admit, less for him than for me. Did he know?

’That’s just it, Vee,” His concern now for the perceived lack of my affection to his embrace apparently forgotten – for as he turned from Robert, he gave me a look of utter confusion. “I don’t rightly know what to make of any of it—but I am frightfully worried that things are going to get worse."

“Worse—whatever to do you mean?” I asked trying to draw him out.

“Calm down man, you’re getting ahead of yourself.” Robert gently reached out and motioned for him to have a seat at my small writing table. I hurriedly took up my journal and notebooks as well as the chocolate-and-yellow pamphlet, and moved them over to my small bookcase – giving them the desk as I have only two chairs.

“Now, it was readily obvious from your call, there is some distress. . . so, tell me how may I be of assistance, as a legal counsellor, and as a friend?" Robert asked as he pulled back a chair.

Bradley looked at him, "Well Robert, I barely know how to begin. I mean it’s all so abominable out of the way, you know. It seemed so – well damned accidental, actually. At the office there were some documents misfiled and I found them and well made a bit of a row about it – and then,” He paused for a moment, “And then poor Pamela is beastly dead.”

“Dead? Who is dead Bradley?” I asked anxiously anticipating what new horror could this day bring.

“Pamela.” He said in a solemn voice. “Pamela Dean.”

“Pamela Dean?” Robert inquired as he placed his hat, before him on the table, “Wasn’t she the one they found dismembered yesterday? I think I read about it in the papers.”

“Oh Bradley, are you caught up in all this?” It was suddenly obvious that he was involved in that ghastly story concerning the poor woman, well, parts of her, who had been found by the river. As disconcerting as it was – at least it was reassuring to know it was not as a part of mine own ‘corrupt corerie.’

“If only —“ And he discontinued the sentence. “Yes. I am afraid so,” He began anew, “Oh dash it all, Robert I fear I got that poor woman murdered.”

“What’s this?” Robert asked his eyes growing with intent.

“Bradley?” I could not restrain the shock of his statement.

“Now, Vee, I swear – there wasn’t anything . . . nothing like that . . . between us.” He tired to reassure me, as if my reaction were due to some inclination toward jealousy – which when he said it gave me pause. For it drew my attention to the fact that perhaps I should have felt such if I were truly in love with Bradley. Instead I was but filled with relief. Oh, there is truly no good in me – I am so despicably self-possessed.

“You see it was all about that beastly document fiasco and the meeting at Waterloo Station – I am certain.” He continued to explain.

Robert interrupted, “Now, just a moment, Bradley, I do like a story to have a beginning. “

“Right,” He nodded, “Well, I should start this right round from the beginning.”

“Yes, please do! But, I must ask, before we begin, if you think you have information about this murder, why call me? Why not go to the police?” Robert inquired – he had that same mater-of-fact tone of father’s. The logical processing of the legal mind.

“Well – you see . . . it’s all so confounded confusing . . . and then, when that Inspector . . . when he asked if anyone happened to know of me . . . well it, I must say, it shook me old man . . . " I had never seen Bradley so unsettled.

And then there was a knock on the door.

Bradley sat forward and looked at Robert then the door.

It startled me as well – but I quickly went over to see who it was. I noticed Robert had risen and stood watching me with concern. I think they both expected the police.

Instead there was only Mrs Burrows holding a serving tray with a tea setting, "As the parlour is freshened up, you could have it, but, I am thinkin’ you most likely would be comfortable just stayin’ here. And, as I am off for a meetin’ of the Bond, I brought this up for you.” Mrs Burrows explained handing me the serving tray with cups and a pot of tea and a few biscuits. “Just take it back down to the kitchen when you’re done.”

“Oh, thank you ever so, Mrs Burrows. You are too kind.”

She winked, “We women have to stand together you know, dearie.”

She closed the door for me, and I carried Mrs Burrows’ best serving tray over to the table, “Now Bradley, please get on with this.” I urged. My mind filled with conflicting emotions.

“Er, yes indeed.” Robert sat down again and pulled out his notepad and a pencil.

“Well, you see a chap I know, we went over to Pamela’s flat this morning—“

“Which is a crime scene.” Robert said pointedly.

“Right,” Bradley confessed. “But you see, as we wanted to determine if there was anything Pamela might have left behind—and as we were looking the place over, this City Detective-Inspector arrived. A rather sinister looking bloke for a copper, I must say. And he made a comment in passing, just as we were leaving, by way of asking if anyone by chance knew me – as I was not me, at the moment, you see."

Robert adjusts his glasses, trying to make as much sense of this as was I. “Impersonating someone and breaking into a dead woman’s flat? Good heavens Bradley, what kind of chaps do you associate with?”

Bradley sighed, "Well, the chap I know, he . . . he knew Pamela as well and we both wanted to follow up on this document she sent me – apparently just before she died.” And Bradley removed an old document from his jacket pocket and handed it over to Robert, who unfolded it carefully and began to look it over.

Hawkins Letter Handout

He placed the yellowed piece of paper on the table before him, “As I said, Bradley, I know you’ve apparently have had a shock or other – but, I do like a story to have a beginning.”

“Right. Well, it all started with these deuced misfiled documents at NID. You see, a bit back, I found some documents, classified and all, which had been frightfully misfiled. I thought nothing of it at first, I mean it was no doubt a mistake, right. But then I the more I set about looking at them, there was something rather queer about it all. Top Secret. Classified. And yet, they were nothing more than requisitions for office equipment for a Peter Hawkins in 1894 for his law office in Exeter."

Robert took notes as I poured everyone a cup of tea.

“I spoke up and turned the documents over to Hall, and then, well I kept wondering about them you know, why would something like that be classified. So I did a bit of research and there have been three Peter Hawkins’ since 1894 – each a solicitor in various locations, all of which have had their office requisitions classified.” He reached over with a smile for me as he moved the cup of tea I had poured closer, “They are of course all listed as deceased, but – oddly enough they all have the same birthdate. So—I went to Exeter to see about this first Hawkins. Took the train down."

“Wait, wait, you started an investigation into top secret documents on your own?’ Robert inquired as he looked up from his notes, “With a war on?”

Bradley tried to smile but it only made him seem slyly more guilty, “Well, yes – I felt. Something was not quite right. Damnit Robert, there was something just dash wrong about it all, and so . . . well, my curiosity was up. Thus off I went to Exeter and there I discover that this Hawkins wasn’t just a Hawkins, it was in fact the law office of Hawkins & Harker.”

“Hawkins & Harker? Exeter?” I softly muttered as it seemed all just too coincidental and far too fabulous a thought, and yet, I turned and went over to my bookcase.

“Right – “ Bradley continued as he watched me rather quizzically. “Only the office is a tobacconist’s now. As Hawkins bequeathed the business on. It seems that Harker inherited the offices, and then his wife sold them – but all of the documents concerning the transactions were destroyed in a fire at Mitchell, Sons & Candy, the house agents who handled it all for her.”

I removed the book from the shelve and opened it fairly certain I recalled where the passage I was seeking would be found, and I was quick to find it, yes, Chapter One, just when the caliche and the mysterious driver arrives. Yes—it was there: Denn die Todten reiten Schnell (For the dead travel fast.). Precisely what Madam Eskimoff had whispered to me last night – I felt a prickling of my skin. Was she trying to forewarn me of Bradley’s predicament?
“So, seeing as how Pamela was the head clerk, and a wonder at research, I telegraphed her and asked her to meet me at Waterloo Station. Now look here, this business at Exeter only made things even more curious and so I asked Pamela to look into this Harker. “

“At Waterloo Station – at about what time was that?” Robert asked.

“Oh, a little past nine.” Bradley said reflectively.

“It couldn’t wait till morning?”

“It was all so suspicious Robert. I didn’t want to be talking about it at the office, I mean once your suspicions are aroused then there’s no end to the imagination to deal with.” Bradley replied, his fingers worrying with his tea cup, turning it idly. “And then—the next morning: she was just beastly dead. Chopped up. And when that document arrived in the post."

“Well, I really don’t know what to say about this.” Robert frowned slightly as he lifted the document .”

“You said Harker. Jonathan Harker?” I asked returning to the table trying to decided if I should tell them about Madam Eskimoff – but to do so meant I would have to explain how and why I was at the Cavern.

Bradley glanced at the book and then at me, “Right – same as in the book.”

“Book? Which book?” asks Robert

Instead I just handed Robert my copy of Dracula.

He looked at the title and shifted his gaze first to me and then at Bradley, "Now hang on old chap, you don’t expect me to believe that this . . . this novel has anything to do with top secret documents? Or Pamela Dean’s death?”

“I know it sounds right off the rails old man, but then that chap I was speaking of, he found another document hidden in a gas pipe at Pamela’s. It’s a letter from Admiralty House dated 1898 which is addressed to Stoker, the author. It would appear that at some point they had given him an after-action report, which was what we suspect Pamela referred to as the Hawkins Papers in her letter—“

“Letter?” Robert looked up from a passage in Dracula, “What letter?”

“Oh – yes, the document arrived with a letter from poor Pamela.” Bradley reached into another pocket and produced it.

“As I was saying, it would appear that Bram Stoker was supposed to compile all he had been given into some kind of coherent report—with a bit of checking I discovered that it seems his brother George, a doctor, was with the NID as well – and so perhaps he had done something like this for them sometime before. Only from the document we found, it would seem he rather turned it all into that . . .” He made a motion to the book Robert closed and placed upon the table, “Novel.”

“So, what are you saying Bradley – is that – that this is supposed to be – real?” I asked pointing at the book beside Robert’s notebook. My head ached and the cocaine had worn off and my world was already far too claustrophobia with spies and wicked socialist grandmothers and pornographers and spiritualists and some mysterious aristocrats with hints of South African accents and talk of byzantine international criminal organizations bent on global domination and if there were a God only he knew what else and now— and now Bradley wanted to add vampires? I rubbed a palm against my temple – Madam Eskimoff’s whisper would not get out of my head. I could all but feel her warm breath upon my ear, “blood is not only the life but an uncertain death.”

“I dashed don’t know what to make of any of it, Vee, “ He said to me, “I mean, this other document – although there are severe hints of irritation in having not receiving what was requested – actually authorizes him to publish the damned book . . . as some sort of disinformation. It plainly indicates – they would rather have it out should anything come to light, so they could easily just lay it off as nothing more than fabrications taken from some fabulous fictional account. Which of course leads one to considering that within the ghostly gothic, some parts,” and he looked at the novel near Robert’s hand, “must have some bearing upon the truth.”

“That is just insane, Bradley.” I said with some vexation, “Vampires don’t exist.”

To which Robert took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “This is all a bit beyond me. I don’t know what you are expecting to accomplish with this investigation, although it sounds as though someone is willing to kill for it.” He replaces his glasses.

“That’s just it Robert I can’t rightly say. It is not that I got into this as a lark or anything, there were some jolly dammed suspicious coincidences, but, now, it has become all rather sinister and mysterious. As you say, it would appear there is something here worth killing for – but what? Transylvanian boxes of earth?”

Or Romanian Oil? I could not help but try to find where the fragmented pieces of my knowledge concerning Lady Helene Belthram nefarious cabal and the cryptic messages from the spiritualist last night might fit into the bizarre puzzle Bradley was laying out upon the table for Robert.

“Look here Robert I rang you up because, well to be honest, I am not bloody sure just what I have gotten myself into. I mean this whole thing sounds as Vee says rather insane on the face of it, but someone killed poor Pamela over these documents, of that I am more than certain. They’ve even killed a City Police Inspector right in the doorway to Pamela’s flat.”

Robert was taken aback, “Killed a policeman?”

“Shot.”

“Well – that certainly adds a new perspective,” Robert told him, “If you want my advice, I would suggest handing yourself over to the police.” Robert held up his hand as if expecting a heated response. “I know it may be unsavoury, but it sounds like you’ve gotten yourself into a fine jam, and I can only really help you though the legal system. I would be happy to represent you every step of the way, and with a high court inquiry into the whole affair we might be able to blow any conspiracies out into the open.”

How is it possible that I could feel a pique of anxiety at that statement – I mean, didn’t I want this whole dreadful conspiracy I was caught up in to be exposed? And yet, with my continued silence was I not aiding and abetting Lady Beltham’s menagerie of villainy. Was it merely concern over trying to maintain whatever degree of respectability remained of the façade of my reputation or was I now in fact trying to conceal my implication. Had I not acquiesced. Had I not met and had drinks and even flirted with Winston Pleydell-Smith. But what of Bradley? Did my involvement in Lady Helene Beltham’s intrigue have anything material to do with this wild and seemingly outlandish difficulty of Bradley’s. Perhaps if my head was not so clouded from those cloudy drinks last night I might be able make the pieces fit – and in truth the only mention of him was in how fortuitous it was I had a formed relationship with him – being that he was with the NID, and I could monitor his activities . . . but that could have been solely in regard to whatever nefarious scheme of Beltham’s fundamental objective—which seemed to be all about oil and geology.

“Do you think that is best?” Bradley asked, looking to Robert and then to me, "I mean, I trust you and all, old man, but to be honest, I am not at all sure whom I should trust at the moment. And dash it all, to be honest, there isn’t any likelihood of my being able to have the faintest chance of affording your fees.”

Robert smiled, “Don’t concern yourself about the fee. It’s your safety I’m worried about.” He looked at the old document Bradley had given him once more, “At the least think it over.”

“Well Robert, that’s just damned good of you. I mean you’re just a brick.” Bradley said and grasp his hand once more and shook it, “I mean I have been in an awful state since leaving Pamela’s flat.”

And then there was suddenly another knock on the door which I think startled me more than either of them.

“Steady on.” Robert advised as he turned in his chair.

“Vee?” Bradley asked with a look which gave all indications of his concern that this whole intrigue had been too much for me. I smiled faintly and stepped over to answer the knock.

Robert arose from his seat and stood watching me advance to the door.

Although the sound of the knock had been disconcerting, what with the temper of the conversation, I truly expected to open the door to find Mrs Burrows, only I was appalled to discover standing there on the landing, in a light-grey woollen coat and a large hat with some intricate lace about the band, Mrs Willingham – the woman I had vowed I would never speak to again.

“Mrs Willingham!”

“Oh, Vee –“ She was all fretful anxiety, “I am so frightfully worried for you.” And then she looked past me into the room, “Oh, is that Bradley?”

Thankfully my back was to Robert and Bradley for if looks could kill she would have shrivelled up and died upon the spot, “What are you doing here?” Of them all her betrayal was the unkindest of all – her ruse of maternal like affection.

“A friend of yours Veronica?” Robert inquired.

“This is Bradley’s landlady.” I said icily over my shoulder, “We were once in various women’s movements together.”

“Oh Vee, you must let me in.” She said and pushed her way through the door. “It was horrid, simply horrid.” Her grey-gloved hands wringing worrisome as she moved restlessly about my bed-sitting-room. “That man, he was so rude and disrespectful.”

Standing with the door still open, fully prepared to ask her to just as quickly exit, I gave her a quizzical look: “What man?”

“Why, Inspector Spenser,” She replied, “From the City Police. He came banging upon my door with writs and demands and policemen to see Bradley’s rooms.”

“The City Police?” Bradley said standing up quickly.

I closed the door.

“As I said, steady on.” Robert advised once again.

“He was dreadful, simply dreadful, Bradley.” She said moving over to touch his forearm. “He just tore through your flat."

“This Inspector—“

“Oh, didn’t I say. Spenser. Spenser was his name. A simply horrible man.” She said waving a dismissive hand and then looked over at Robert as if trying to determine who he was—

“I am Robert Wise, Barrister and confidant of Mr McFarlane,” He introduced himself readily discerning her look.

“Harriot Willingham.” She gave a brief nod of her head.

“Please to make your acquaintance, Mrs Willingham.”

She smiled at him graciously, then looked back to Bradley, “Well, you certainly need one, Bradley. They say you killed someone by the name of Dean. A Pamela Dean. I think it is that woman they found all – maimed and butchered – and chopped up.” They say you are a spy.”

“What—“ Bradley went suddenly pale.

She glanced at me and then back at Bradley, “A spy working for the Germans. Now, I said that is not possible. Heavens no. Not my Bradley. But they said oh yes it is true. We have evidence.”

“Did they indicate what evidence.” Robert asked.

“Oh, no, they were far too busy tearing apart the flat.” And she turned to me suddenly and grasped me to pull me close in a comforting hug, “Oh, Vee, you poor dear.” She said and then very softly whispered into my ear, “Say absolutely nothing, you hear."

I looked at her, as she released me, “I do so worry about you. The both of you.” She said as she grasped my arm seemingly in order to offer further comfort and reassurance where in reality, I knew she only wanted to maintain some restraint, to keep me from saying something ill-advised.

“Now these are certainly some major accusations.” Robert offered as he turned to look at Bradley.

I looked at poor Bradley—and found myself thinking that this was the first time I had ever thought of him as such, a poor Bradley, as he was always so jovial and self-assured, whereas now, he seemed more like a apprehensive schoolboy oddly dressed in a naval officer’s uniform as he looked to Robert in fretful need of guidance. Was this but a glimpse of my future – the necessary of legal representation from various forces of the law – civilian as well as military.

“And they are fast upon him, Sir.” Mrs Willingham offered in a most sincere voice of concern – which I knew to be mere deception.

Robert’s fingers worried with his wedding band as he stood in thought, “Yes. And if it is true the City Police are looking for you with ill intent, then, I would suggest we move post haste to the Met. Bradley?"

He nodded slowly in resignation, “Yes, I would much rather be in the hands of the Yard than this City copper."

Mrs Willingham sighed, "Wise, Bradley, very wise. It is wise to take Mr Wise’s advice.”

Robert frowned – as I was certain he had heard all the surname related wordplay for years and years.

“So, Robert, should we call or should we go down to the Yard?” Bradley asks.

“Not all the way to Scotland Yard, no. We should go to the nearest station. Once you have turned yourself over for questioning, then you will be in the Mets protection, at the very least.”

I could see this was a hard decision for him as he stood a long moment. He looked over toward me and then sighed heavily. He stepped away from the table and came over to give me a heart-felt hug, “Oh, Vee, I am so sorry.” He said, “But, not to worry, we are in Robert’s hands.”

“Not mine old chap, the law’s.” Robert corrected.

“Bradley— “ And even now I must admit I am not sure what I would have said had Mrs Willingham not interrupted.

“We’ll be taking good care of her Lieutenant – upon that you can be assured.” She said with a winsome smile.

Upon releasing me he placed a hand on Mrs Willingham’s deceitful shoulder and then turned to Robert, “If you would accompany me old man, I would be forever grateful.”

“Right, then, very well, let’s be off.” Robert gave a me a reassuring smile and they departed.
“You must throw him over, Veronica.” Mrs Willingham said as she listened to hear their footsteps descended the stair.

I turned upon her and told her to get out of my flat.

Her reply was to slowly remove her gloves. “Yes—well, we will have to see to that, won’t we? We may need to move you – depending on the outcome of this Bradley misadventure. “ As this was the first time she had been in my room, I observed her looking it over. How cheap and desperate it must have all seemed to her—knowing I had had little in the way of finances other than the loan from Pym, when I left Morningside Park and father’s house for this room of my own. Moderate sized with a single window overlooking the front door with my dressing table before it. A very narrow bed on the left-hand side of the room with a comfortable arm-chair and small open bookcase, the fireplace on the right, and the small writing table. “For toilet I would assume you share?” She said with some derision.

I assented as she gave it all a severe summation, “Yes—we certainly will have to see about having you moved.” She turned to me, “But of course, we will have to first determine if that is the right course of action – under the circumstances. We want no suspicion upon you. At first we had thought it rather advantageous, your match with him, but, that was before we knew he was a vivisectionist.”

Lord—I can not finish a thought. Someone’s at the door

Veronica Wells’ Journal
10 March – continued

It was Robert Wise. It appears that Bradley is in the wind. I am not at all certain this is the right course of action for him – or for me. Mrs. Willingham stayed but a short time after her haughty dismissal of my meager lodgings, indicating she would return after having given a full accounting of the situation to Lady Hélène. But, I should be prepared to “leave all this behind.”

Now Robert informs me that Bradley has taken flight. It appears they had hailed a cab directly upon departing. Robert indicated that in the cab it was readily apparent to him Bradley was still very hesitant as to whether he should in fact give himself over to Scotland Yard. He had brought up the old Ripper fiasco with the Met and their inability to apprehend the madman then – and now, here he was deuced caught up in the murderous actions of what surely must be yet another madman . . . and to compound it all there’s a mystery tied to some damn nonsensical book.

He explained he had tried to reassure him this was the best course of action particularly with the City Police in search of him under the suspicion he had something to do with the death of one of their own. Robert said he felt he had successfully brought Bradley around to this point, but as they were having to traverse streets that were still rather snow covered and icy, what with the cleaning department not have the man power it once had owing to the war, they came upon a particularly nasty bit of roadway covered ice.

And thus the driver had been hard put to stop in order to keep from hitting another cab making too wide a turn into their intersection. In doing so, their cab’s bonnet had rather maliciously wrapped itself upon a street lamp. Everyone being shook up, Robert said he was hurriedly checking the driver, trying to ascertain his injuries as he seemed to be in sort of a bad way, bleeding from the forehead, when he looked out to find Bradley had exited the cab and was looking about suspiciously.

I asked if Bradley was injured and Robert said he appeared not to be as he ducked his head into the cab to informed him – that he was rather sorry old man, but should I give myself up – who knows, I may have quite another accident in my cell. Robert said he had explained this was extremely wrong-headed and to wait as the driver needed their help – only Bradley replied he was sorry and slipped away into the long shadows of the late afternoon.

He asked me if Bradley had returned to see me and I told him that he had not. He explained that should he contact me, I needed to get in touch with him directly – as it all might have some consequence for me.

I could not explain it already had consequence.

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