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June 1889 Eyes for the Blind.

Easter came and went. May was quiet. The Henley regatta was the 1st week of June and the weather was hot. Blimp organised a trip to the regatta for us all. [Blimp: somewhat to my surprise some of my colleagues had never attended this jewel in the English social calendar.] We took a train to Twyford then changed for Henley. Two others, a man in a derby hat and a blind man got on the train. [Blimp: quite how the blind man had arranged a first class ticket was beyond me.] As we went through a tunnel there was a scream and a thump then the emergency brakes were applied. We stopped in the tunnel. In flickering torchlight we could see the man with the hat clinging to the emergency chord, with the blind man slumped against him. Both were dead. The blind man was covered in blood but not his own. His body was very cool for someone so recently dead and rigor mortis had already set in. The evidence suggested the body had been dead several hours but that was not possible. The man with the hat had been stabbed 3 times, the third was a fatal blow to the heart. The blind man had no eyes, just empty eye sockets. [Blimp: he was probably French.] The man with the hat had a briefcase. Inside was a letter addressed to J Oldacre esq, 9 Hart St, Henley on Thames. The letter was from an Elias and said a Nystor Ferencz meant to raise the Dulcarnon. Olaus Wormius instructed Horatio Cartwright to hide and should have destroyed the green man. Other things had been buried at Robin Hood’s Bower. There was also a warning to beware of blind men. [Blimp: at this point I began to wonder if these fellows were associates of that madman Bidwell with whom we’d made acquaintance in March.] He also had a business card in the name of Horatio Cartwright and the address had been changed from a Chelsea address to Church St, Maltlake. The train moved forward and stopped at the next station where the police were called for. We took a carriage the rest of the way to Henley. When we arrived we read in a local paper that 2 children had been found in a parcel in the post van of a train. We went to Hart St. but no one was in. Wilfred asked about Robin Hood’s Bower in the hotel and was told it was about 1/2 hour to the south by carriage. Past Knowle Kill and Maidenhead Thicket. We went back to Hart St. in the evening. There was still no one in so we knocked at a neighbour’s. They said Oldacre was a bit of a recluse and they did not see him much. They had not seen him for a couple of weeks. [Blimp: for middle class people their tea was almost drinkable.] The following morning we rode out to Robin Hood’s Bower. We got the morning paper at a local inn. There was an ongoing trial about the two parcel children. The defendants claimed they bought unwanted children from prostitutes for 5 shillings then sold them to a blind man for a sovereign each, and that they had done nothing wrong. [Blimp: they probably had French ancestry.] Robin Hood’s Bower was a field. There were 3 people in the field. I noticed there was no bird or insect noise. We approached the people. Two were wearing turbans and were clearly Indian. The 3rd man looked English and was carrying a Y shaped stick. He said he was dowsing. [Blimp: more flapdoodlry!] He was David Smythe and was a stockbroker from the city. Wilfred had a go and claimed the stick reacted. Smythe claimed there was nothing there. Blimp bet Wilfred there was nothing there so Wilfred started digging in another part of the field until Smythe left then suddenly decided to go back and dig where Blimp had bet him he would find nothing. He had no explanation as to why he wanted to go dig elsewhere. [Blimp: how typical of a politician: one makes a bet to dig in a particular part of the field and they toodle off to dig their own hole somewhere without any hint of an explanation. This had become very analogous of politics for me since this wager was made.] After Wilfred, Julian and Blimp gave up digging I carried on and found four oilskin wrapped objects. They were a book – Mysteries of the Veil, a 5” long vial of cut grass containing an amber liquid, a piece of parchment and a note. The note was from an Elias to a Jeremiah. It said he was the last hope to avert the doom of Dulcarnon. The vial was the last resort and to use it the contents should be smelt then the rhythms in the parchment should be struck. The parchment had some musical notations on it. A page was marked in the book saying Dulcarnon was a beast whom the ancient druids made sacrifice to, and he slept beneath the hill Merlyn raised to hold him. Tablets of Aelda said he shall awaken and that time would be dread surpassing all dreams of men. [Blimp: this level of banal dross could have easily been found in one of Mr. Fitzpatrick’s “novels”.] We buried some empty beer bottles in the hole then went to the nearby inn for a drink. Blimp asked the barman about Smythe. [Blimp: an illustrative point: no bribe required!] The barman said he had been in and was staying at the Seven Stars near Molehill. Wilfred asked one of the locals about a Merlyn hill nearby and was told it was actually in Wiltshire. We rode back to Henley where there was a great commotion around a Royal Carriage. [Blimp: God bless Her Majesty!] We went on a boat ride then went to the local police station to try and convince them to let us into Oldacre’s house on the pretext he was suicidal. After some discussion they agreed to go to his house and check on him. When no one answered the policeman kicked down the door. Wilfred then gave him some money and asked him to go and get something to be able to secure the door again. We went inside and looked around. There was a dead body lying on the bed upstairs. He had been killed by a triangular bladed dagger and been dead about 5 days. [Blimp: it was a fond reminder to Tweeny and myself of our time stationed in India. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Fitzpatrick, having never had the good fortune to serve in the Army, found it too distressing and was violently ill. It was the kind of reaction I would have expected from a lady.] There were many letters scattered about, most from Elias Cartwright. I identified a book on astrology as being the last book he had been reading. It was written in Latin so I put it in my bag for later study. The police asked me to perform an autopsy on the body which I did in the morning. He was killed by a single stab wound to the heart and was then eviscerated. He had put up a struggle before and had bruises to his wrists. He died early evening on the 30th May. Julian went to speak to Oldacre’s neighbours. They remembered seeing a blind man in the street on the 30th May. Julian made arrangements for Oldacre’s books to be delivered to his house. We travelled back to London in the afternoon, and went to Maltlake. The cabbie said a John Dee used to live there. He had something to do with Elizabeth I and had the biggest library in Europe. We arrived at a sprawling medieval building with a hearse parked out front. As we approached someone ran out carrying something heavy, jumped in the hearse and drove off at breakneck speed. Wilfred told our cabbie to chase him. On the back of the hearse was 'Rowse's' funeral parlour. Blimp took the reins but was unable to catch it up and we lost the hearse. [Blimp: the quality of the horse pulling the Hansom carriage was exceedingly poor.] We got the cab to take us to the funeral parlour. Blimp started blathering about nearly being run over. [Blimp: there’s nothing like an irate gentleman customer to put the working classes in their place. Once again illustrative: no bribery took place.] We learned they had 5 drivers 3 hearses and 2 horse drawn traps. He said one of their hearses was stolen. In the conversation I got the feeling he was hiding something. Blimp went to the police station to report the theft. They said one had been found abandoned in Hyde park ¼ hour ago. The gates to the yard were shut and locked with a padlock. It would be odd for a thief to pick the lock then lock it again when they left. I left with Blimp to look at the hearse. An eyewitness saw 2 disreputable looking people, one with a parcel were seen exiting the hearse. Wilfred and Julian chased a suspicious character who was hanging about outside the funeral parlour. Julian caught him up but could not stop him running. Eventually one of the policemen caught him. Blimp and myself got back just as the chase ended. He looked like a pickpocket or common thief. He had Blimp’s and Wilfred’s business cards. Wilfred’s had “Be careful this one is an MP” written on the back. Blimp questioned him while I sharpened my surgical knives. [Blimp: a technique Tweeny and I perfected and put to good use many times in the Raj.] He said he was told to spy on us. He was given the cards by the man who runs the citadel (a criminal hideout) at the Seven Dials which is located east of Charing Cross Road. He knew of two entrances to the citadel, a coffee shop and Hengst book shop. The description matched the individual we had previously met at Robin Hood’s Bower. We knew too much and he had been told to watch us. We went back to Maltlake to look about. There was a large book missing from the library. The nearby books were about subjects like witches and demonology. I found a note written in an unknown language. The writing was incomprehensible but two English sounding words were wormus and necronomicon. Julian said the necronomicon was a dangerous book containing 'forbidden knowledge' and Wormus was someone who had translated the necronomicon from Arabic to English. [Blimp: what a waste of effort! It just confirms that one should be very careful about anyone who speaks Arabic.] There was some diaries written by Horatio Cartwright. In them it said his father had died on the 24th May. He had fallen under a Hackney cab and died of his injuries. The diary suggested he was more upset about the lack of financial provisions than the death itself. After the funeral he found he had been left a parcel and a letter. The letter said by the time it was read he would be dead. He should obey the following instructions to the letter. Go into the main library and hide a book (described as being where the missing book was). He should only give the book to Oldacre if he asked. He should go to Truro and book into the Black Lion Hotel. In the morning open the parcel, light the candle it contained and read the phrase on the note with it 3 times then leave for London immediately. Finally he should deliver an envelope to Oldacre. Julian made enquiries about buying the library but was told the estimated value was £40,000. Julian did some research in the books from Oldacre. He read about a spell called candle communication where two people could talk at a distance. There were two passages allowing communication with people called Nystor and Smythe. I gave Julian the book I got from Oldacres house but he could not read Latin either. Julian wanted to go and talk to a few people to try to borrow some money. Blimp was feeling unwell, he had probably eaten too much again, so I travelled to Truro with Wilfred on the overnight train. [Blimp: in actual fact an old Army colleague of mine had unexpectedly arrived in London from service in Sudan, and we had a splendid evening at the Dorchester. For fear of upsetting my colleagues, who, with the exception of Tweeny, seemed to be of sensitive natures I put it about that I was unwell.] We went to the Black Lion Hotel and found the room Cartwright had stayed in had been badly burned. We spoke to the porter when he took our bags to our rooms. He said that night had been very peculiar. Mr Graystone the hotel manager had been more concerned about a heavy bundle, which weighed at least 15 stone. He had to take it from the cellar which he had to take outside until the fire had been put out. The night boilerman Perkins seemed to know something about the bundle. We convinced him to let us look in the burnt room. The fire appeared to have started in the centre of the room and had been far more intense than the available fuel would have suggested. We looked round the hotel. There was a freight door and coal chute to the cellar but both were locked. We talked with Mr Graystone and convinced him we sold boilers and could save him up to 50% on his fuel bills. We got him to take us to the cellars to look at his existing system. We looked around under the pretence of looking at the boiler. There was some evidence of disturbance in the South west corner. We waited until 2am before creeping downstairs from our rooms. [Blimp: Tweeny and Mr. Hyde-Whyte gadding about Cornwall unsupervised was bound to involve such shenanigans.] We asked the night porter for a drink and crept into the kitchen while he was distracted. We waited for the boiler man to go out for a smoke then crept into the cellar. Behind the crates in the South west corner was a concealed and locked door. I found a piece of old wire and picked the lock. [Blimp: I’m sure Tweeny didn’t learn that particular “talent” in the Army; we’d just smash a door down if we needed it open.] Beyond the door was a room with a pentagram chalked on the floor. [Blimp: hardly surprising as this was Cornwall.] The pentagram seemed to be emitting bursts of light. In the centre of the pentagram was a figure which looked to be constructed from plants. When we tried to step into the pentagram we hit an invisible barrier. I could not throw anything over it as it seemed to extend to the ceiling. We lit the candles and found it made the barrier softer. We decided to try to burn the figure but as we started to move burning coals and wood in it suddenly animated and attacked us. [Blimp: I suspect that they both had had too much cider.] It was very strong [Blimp: clearly so was the cider...] and seemed able to sap energy from those it grasped. It grasped me and when I desperately hacked through its wrist it grasped Wilfred. We managed to cut through the other wrist to free him but in the meantime the boiler man Perkins had smashed the cellar door and come in. The creature turned on him. We managed to start a fire and set the creature alight as Perkins ran for his life. We kept backing off and throwing flammable stuff at it until it collapsed in flames. As the hotel started burning we all ran to the garden. Perkins accused us of arson and the police arrested us. My wounds were so severe that I was hospitalised and taken back to London for treatment. Wilfred refused to pay for the damage and went to court where he put up a poor defence and was found guilty. We both got sentenced to 90 days. [Blimp: quite right too. Very unseemly behaviour from gentlemen.]

Last updated: February 27, 2014