Sunday, 25th October, 1925
The investigators are invited to meet for tea with Mister Theodore Rayburn-Price at the Wentworth Club. They attend and over tea and crumpets, Rayburn-Price asks them to undertake a ‘discreet’ investigation for him – or rather, for one of his acquaintances. Two nights ago (around midnight of the night of Friday, 23rd October and Saturday, 24th October) a man named Alan Tilbury-Pine was murdered in North Kensington. Sometime overnight on that same night in the same street, the home of Rayburn-Price’s acquaintance was broken into and a valuable collection of antiquities ransacked. Proximity in time and place would suggest a possible connection. Mister Rayburn-Price’s acquaintance is a private collector who would not want to involve the police in any investigation as to what happened on his property, hence him asking Rayburn-Price to try and find some investigators who are able to keep secrets when needed. Rayburn-Price also harbour some suspicion that there might possibly be some connection between what has happened in North Kensington and matters the investigators have previously looked into, as his acquaintance does have something of an interest in Assyrian artifacts, among others. Rayburn-Price also mentions that this is not the only such recent break in he is aware of.
Having obtained an assurance from the investigators of their reasonable discretion – as a man has been murdered, all involved except that if a definite link is found between that murder and other crimes, the police may have to become involved, this is merely something to be avoided if at all possible – Mister Rayburn-Price gives the name and address of his acquaintance and says the man is expecting to see them at their earliest convenience. His name is Mister Andrew Noble and he resides at 68 Oxford Gardens, North Kensington.
When asked about the second case, he mentioned, Rayburn-Price says he knows little about that one, but gives the investigators the name Mister Matthew Smiley of 4 Montagu Street, Mayfair. He asks that even if the investigators intend to visit Smiley (and he thinks that might be a good idea), they visit Noble first as Noble is expecting them.
The investigators travel to North Kensington and Mister Noble’s valet, Withams, admits them into the house. Noble explains that two nights ago, on the evening of the 23rd October, he dined early and went to bed about nine in the evening – he planned to travel to Paris to meet with his wife the following day and wanted an early night. As was his custom, before going to bed in his room on the third floor, he checked that the door to the room which houses his collection of antiquities was locked. Around midnight he was awoken by crashing sounds coming from across the hall – his room and the antiquities room face each other across that hall – and he jumped up and ran to the door. Finding it still locked, he returned to his room to obtain the only key to that door – which is kept on his watch chain.
When he opened the door, he found a scene of destruction and devastation. The two windows into the room were locked, as was the only door which he had just opened. It is completely unclear how whoever caused the damage could have entered the room – or left it.
Noble locked the door, and has left everything as it is until now.
At the request of the investigators he unlocks the door.
What they find is the described scene of devastation. The room shows every sign of being ransacked. What once were elegant, glass panelled display cabinets are now chipped and splintered as though a hammer had been taken to them their glass smashed and strewn over the expensive carpet. Antiquities once proudly displayed now lie either whole or in pieces on the floor. A broken tablet of clay, torn papyrus, and broken statuettes have been flung at walls, wilfully torn up, and discarded.
And upon a wall, the flock wallpaper has been torn to form words, which read “FREE ME”. Of possible note – all the letters in this are torn as capitals, except for some reason, the “R”, which is instead an enlarged lower case “r”.
Archaeological and historical knowledge leads people to the realization that Noble’s collection is fairly eclectic, but with a focus on antiquities that are of Egyptian, Assyrian and Chinese origin.
Miss Gwyn takes photographs of the devastation.
As best Mister Noble can tell nothing has been stolen from his room, although it is impossible to be certain that some small items may not be missing, there are no obvious gaps. However, a number of items have been damaged.
When questioned specifically about Assyrian artifacts and whether it is possible any of the items came from Nineveh, Mister Noble admits that his most recent purchase, an Assyrian Cuneiform tablet may have come from there. He completely refuses to give any details about his supplier, but says that they may well have had access to items from that location. On further investigation it is discovered that the tablet seems to have been among the items destroyed in the room – a small fragment of it is found, along with clay dust. Fortunately, Noble did make a rubbing of the tablet and is willing to place this into the hands of the investigators. He agrees to check his collection in more detail and make a list of any missing items. He also suggests the investigators might want to speak to Stanley Edgerton of 7 Craven Hill, Kensington, as he is another collector who has suffered a recent break in. When asked if he knows Mister Smiley, he says that they are acquainted but are certainly not friends.
The investigators leave, Mister Peelman having obtained permission to come back in the morning where a ladder will be available so he can inspect the outside route to the windows. He has already established that there is no sign from the inside that the windows have been opened in years, but he wants to be thorough.
The investigators also examine the location in the street a few doors down where Mister Alan-Tilbury-Pine was murdered. There is no sign of anything at that location but Miss Gwynn photographs it regardless.
Inquiries with the Murder Squad at Scotland Yard, reveal that DI Jack Billington is investigating the murder. He states that Mister Alan Tilbury-Pine’s body was found at 11.55pm on the 23rd October by a beat constable. The man had been attacked sometime between 11.00pm and 11.45pm. He had suffered numerous blows to the head and torso. So far, no firm leads have been discovered but the investigation is barely underway.
Mister Rhodes takes the rubbing of the Assyrian Tablet to Mister Patrick Longton at the British Museum who agrees to produce a translation.
Monday, 26th October, 1925
Mister Peelman’s examination of the walls at Oxford Garden reveal nothing. This is itself interesting as it increases the mystery of how anybody got into the third floor room.
The investigators having heard that Peter Simkin has returned home to his home at Lavender Grove, Hackey, following their previous attempt to question him that lead in his fleeing the scene, return. This time they manage to gain access and speak to him. In between raving, he makes a few lucid statements. He blames Thompson for what has happened to the survivors of the expedition. Stones were brought back by Thompson. Stones from the temple that should have been left in Nineveh.
It is clear the Simpkin is now completely insane. Sir Malcolm makes the decision to take him to Saint Mary’s, Bethlem, for his own safety and wellbeing, and perhaps some hope of some sort of treatment and recovery.