March 1889. The Eyes of a Stranger

Wilfred was in hospital for about a month. Christmas came and went, and the New Year came. [Blimp: I spent the winter on my Estate in Wiltshire, which passed uneventfully apart from one incident where a new member of staff toppled the Christmas tree whilst decorating. I had no choice but to fire the girl on the spot. I’m sure once her broken ankle healed she would be able to acquire further employment.] It was a quiet start to the year until the middle of March. We received invitations from a John Bidwell to an evening of intelligent conversation on the evening of March 13th. [Blimp: had I realised Bidwell’s concept of “intelligent conversation” was a lot of balderdash I would have never accepted his invitation. It was a monumental waste of my time; I could have been at the theatre.] We arrived at exactly 7pm. I had to listen to Julian talking about his latest novel on the journey. [Blimp: Tweeny has my sympathies here.] Many intellectual people attended the party. There were actors, writers, artists and psychics among them. [Blimp: I don’t know about intellectual. Most of them were fools and poltroons. Only a Colonel Hardwicke of the Guards appeared to be in any way normal.] I tried talking to some of the artists but they were quite rude. I also spoke to a woman who kept on about woman's rights. She did not seem to have a sense of humour and got upset when I suggested a woman's place was in the home. [Blimp: Tweeny was quite correct. I have no idea why that harridan got upset.] John Bidwell did not show up until 9pm. [Blimp: I made sure to chastise him for his poor showing as a host.] He appeared malnourished and may well have been incarcerated in an asylum in the near past. He invited several of us to attend a séance later in the evening. [Blimp: what a lot of poppycock! This was clearly my cue to leave so I managed to get to the theatre after all.] We went up to the library to hold the séance. John showed up with some strange crystal cube with a disk embedded in the centre. Half way through the séance Julian broke hands then accused me of doing it. I had had enough of all their rubbish at that point and left. [Blimp: quite right too!] In the morning I got the paper. I had managed to get a mention in the report of the party as having upset that woman. While we were eating breakfast 2 policemen arrived. They wanted to talk to us about the murder of John Bidwell. He had been stabbed through the heart with a fire poker. The butler was the prime suspect and was missing. We went back to his house to look for clues. I found a photograph of Bidwell with a boy in a desert. He was holding the cube in one hand. On the back was scrawled 'with Mortimer - Cuncudgery 14th October 1887'. Cuncudgery is in Australia. Blimp found the butlers coat still on the door of his room. Julian found a ring with a plain face. He discovered on further examination the plain face was a concealed cover over a symbol of the masons. A diary Julian found told how Bidwell took the cube from some aborigines by force, killing most of them. The lad Mortimer tried to steal it back and was beaten. [Blimp: clearly Bidwell had been a man of resolve, and worth of respect. How he had turned into the sallow and gullible wretch we met the previous night was a mystery to me.] It also said how Bidwell had been to Yekub where he had been a god and had been locked away in an institution at the same time. He was trying to get back to Yekub. Clearly he was mad. [Blimp: barking!] While we were searching someone else showed up. He said he was an inspector called Jay Malverhill and he wanted us to leave. Blimp started shouting at him. [Blimp: can’t have these police oiks getting ideas about their station.] He backed down somewhat but still insisted we all leave. Wilfred spoke with some of his police contacts and found the mental hospital Bidwell had been at was in Gloucestershire. We caught the train to Gloucester and arrived just after 4pm. From there we caught a cab to Mercy hill where the Albrooke asylum was sited. We spoke with a Dr Campbell. Bidwell was admitted on 14th November 1888. Sir William Withy-Gold had bought him to the asylum. He acted like a wild beast uttering nothing more than growls and weird clicking sounds. On 20th February 1889 he fell into a coma. When he recovered his sanity had returned and he seemed confused as to his location. He was released in the beginning of March. We looked at the visitors’ book. Jay Malverhill had visited Bidwell at the asylum. We stayed the night in the local inn and took a train back to London in the morning. [Blimp: my man Jennings found excellent accommodation in this godforsaken wilderness; the man is a marvel!] Gordon went to speak with his contacts. A chinaman had been arrested for committing a mugging in the limehouse district. The description of the victim matched that of the missing butler. Blimp, Gordon and Julian went back to the Travellers’ Club [Blimp: it was time for afternoon tea] while myself, Wilfred and George went to see the chinaman. When they arrived at the Travellers Club Godfrey Williamson, one of the psychics [Blimp: “lunatics” would be more apt description!] from the party was waiting. He claimed to have had visions since Bidwell’s murder. He said the visions were about Duncan or Dougan and he was concerned. They talked about the séance and how bad it was. Godfrey thought it was more like he was trying to cast a spell. [Blimp: indeed, “lunatic” is much more apt.] We went to speak with the chinaman. Apparently he was asking directions from a man clutching a square crystal and the man attacked him and killed his 2 friends. He had a scorpion tattoo which we suspected meant he was a member of a Chinese gang called the Tongs. [Blimp: I have to protest! I have no such knowledge of the sordid underworld. This information came from Mr. Bennett.] George beat him up a bit until he admitted he belonged to a group called the Si-fan. They had decided to attack the butler as they thought the crystal might be valuable but he just turned on them and killed his two friends by breaking their necks. The butler had been heading to Emmet Street. We headed back to the Travellers’ Club. We were followed. When we confronted the individual he turned out to be Malverhill. The taxi driver admitted he had been told to follow us all evening. We invited Malverhill into the Club to discuss things further. He was not forthcoming but we got him to admit Bidwell was an embarrassment to them, and 'them' probably referred to the masons. Withy-Gold had sent him to the asylum. He had to recover a few items including the ring and the crystal. He implied Bidwell might even have been the ripper. I did some investigations in the London directory and found a warehouse called Dunnagans off Emmet Street. In the morning we went to the warehouse. The door was open and there was a body lying face down in a corner. The body was of Hanson Bartlett the butler. I examined the body and determined he had been strangled. We searched the warehouse and found a pile of books on a crate, on history, astronomy and a tome called the Panacotic Manuscripts. All the books were marked property of the British Museum. Another crate had some piles of paper on top. The paper contained diagrams of some sort of transmitter or receiver and the cube was central to the device. [Blimp: Mr. Fitzpatrick was clearly interested in the Panacotic jobbie, but I insisted that it be returned to its rightful owner, namely the British Museum. He gave me his word as a gentleman that he would arrange for this to happen, although I suspected that he would try to read it first, which is extremely unseemly given that he is not a Member.] After a more thorough search of the warehouse we found a scrap of black cloth caught between two floorboards. George seemed to think it would have been from the clothing of an oriental woman. He would not say how he knew what oriental women wore. George looked through the manuscripts and found a passage which talked of alien races which used cubes to travel through time and space. [Blimp: London seems to be increasingly full of lunatics who actually attach some credence to this mumbo-jumbo. Conscription would go a long way to rectify this embarrassing state of affairs.] When we left the warehouse there were a couple of orientals hanging around nearby. Blimp started shouting at them and they ran off. [Blimp: hardly surprising: foreigners just don’t have the backbone of a true English gentleman.] Gordan went and asked his contacts about the Si-fan and was told he should avoid them. There were rumours they were run by a Dr Fu-Man-Chu. There was a Chinese restaurant called the Yellow Dragon in Limehouse on Goth Street which was rumoured to be an opium den, and the headquarters of the Si-fan. Gordon decided we should go to the restaurant. Gordon told the man on the door that we had come for the special menu and we were lead up some stairs. I noticed he had a gun. At the top of the stairs we were asked to hand over any weapons. Julian and Gordon handed over pistols. We were then lead into a room where a number of people were reclining and smoking opium. There was a Buddha statue which looked like it would slide and was probably a concealed doorway. Blimp decided to make a distraction and started to pretend to cough and splutter while the rest of us slipped past the statue. In the room was a strange device. Wilfred thought it was a bomb and tried to smash it with a crowbar. He managed to get electrocuted for his troubles. I picked the lock to a cabinet before realising it had been covered with a contact poison. I quickly mixed an antidote. In the cabinet were some documents, a letter, a chinese puzzle box and 3 vials which I took. Julian pulled the power lead from the device and took the crystal cube. Some Chinese men and a woman came into the opium den heading to the statue. Blimp tried delaying them but was only marginally successful. [Blimp: I was hardly going to assault a lady, even if she was a foreigner.] Wilfred managed to hold the door shut for a few seconds before they forced it open. The woman said 'kill them'. As the fight started Malverhill came into the den and drew his gun. George punched one unconscious and I killed another with a deft swipe of my knife across his throat. Malverhill shot another who ignored the wound and hit Wilfred with a cleaver. Wilfred fainted with shock. Malverhill shot him again, killing him. Julian tried running but was blocked by a huge Chinese guy. I came up behind the man facing Blimp and sliced him as well. George grappled the woman and pinned her to the floor. Malverhill shot the big guy and I stabbed him 3 times before he died. Malverhill then took the cube and left. [Blimp: again, unnecessary violence with foreigners. All they need to be shown is a firm hand. For my part I accosted them only with my cane, just as any true gentleman would.] I analysed the vials and found them to contain poison, so I poured the contents away. George managed to open the puzzle box. Inside was a small vial with a label in Latin which translated as water of life. The letter was from a Dr Fu Manchu instructing his loyal servants to guard the scrolls and vials until his return.

Last updated: February 27, 2014