Monday, 4th of February, 1924
Finsbury, London. As they take their leave of Constable Wilkins at the Clerkenwell Medical Mission, it is about 6.30 in the evening, and Sir Malcolm has invited the investigators to be his dinner guests at the Wentworth Club. They all get into his car and after a short drive to and down Berry Street in order to locate McClaggen’s book bindery, they are proceeding along Clerkenwell Road westwards, just passing St John’s Street when they notice a ruckus happening just at the side of the road. A man is being beaten up – Miss Sharp identifies the man as the Reverend Miller.
Sir Malcolm drives his car at the crowd, breaking just short of actually hitting anybody. Mister Rhodes blows his police whistle and he and Miss Gwynne leave the car and begin shouting at the crowd to stop. A large middle aged lady is beating the Reverend Miller with her umbrella while several men repeatedly kick the man. It is, in every sense of the words, an angry mob. An attempt is made to throw an egg at Miss Gwynne and sometimes strikes at Mister Rhodes, but after a relatively short time, the mob seems to start to come to its senses in the face of the concerted intimidation of the investigators (minus Miss Sharp who has remained in the car). Mister Rhodes is particularly impressive in its attempts to convince the mob that it would be unwise to continue their actions, but Sir Malcolm’s Rolls Royce probably helps by forcing people to realise that they are facing people of means who might be able to cause them more trouble. A Police Constable, blowing his own whistle frantically, with truncheon in hand, arrives on the scene as the violence ends. Sir Malcolm dispatches him to call for an ambulance and the Constable runs down the road to a police call box, as Miss Sharp, at Sir Malcolm’s request, removes a first aid box from his car and they attempt to render assistance to the Reverend Miller. They quickly realise that the Reverend’s injuries are too severe for first aid to be of much help. He is alive but has been severely beaten. The ambulance arrives and the ambulance men put the Reverend Miller on a stretcher. When asked they say they are taking him to Saint Bart’s Hospital. More police have arrived (including Constable Wilkins who seems more than a bit surprised to be meeting the investigators again) and take the names of everybody present. Questioning by the police and the investigators reveals that the fracas started because the Reverend Miller said something to Mrs Esmeralda Bourke (the lady with the umbrella) that she found extremely offensive, and that men and a few women joined her in assaulting the Reverend. But Mrs Bourke cannot say what was said. She cannot remember. Three men saw the start of the situation and all agree Reverend Miller said something to Mrs Bourke but none of them know what it was. Having cooled down, people seem somewhat confused. They all felt they had a good reason to attack the Reverend but none of them can say what it was, except in very vague terms. During the questioning, the investigators ask if anybody present knew Mary Hamer. One of the men says she was his niece. He is puzzled by the request to look down his throat, but agrees to it. Nothing odd is seen or felt when Miss Gwynne decides to check his glands. Miss Sharp and Miss Gwynne escort Mrs Bourke to her nearby home in Farringdon Road but she can tell them nothing more. Sir Malcolm examines the scene as the crowd disperses. He finds the Reverend Miller’s clerical collar, torn off in the struggle. He also realises that the Reverend Miller’s bicycle is nowhere to be seen. As Miss Sharp and Miss Gwynne return, the investigators decide they should go and visit Reverend Leigh. They find him standing outside his home looking to hail a cab. The hospital has telephoned him and told him Reverend Miller is in a very grave state and he accepts the offer of a lift to the hospital.
At the hospital, the investigators find out that Reverend Miller is unconscious and has a suspected fractured skull and broken ribs. He is not believed to be in any immediate danger and will be seen by a surgeon in the morning. There is no possibility in talking to him at this point but they are allowed to see him and he is lying in a bed with his head bandaged. The investigators give the Reverend Leigh a lift back to the vicarage. He can shed no light on why Reverend Miller might have been attacked. While the Revered Leigh does not like the Revered Miller and does not conceal this, and says that the younger man has a habit of rubbing people up the wrong way, he knows of no reason that he is likely to have provoked such an extreme reaction. When the investigators ask to check Reverend Miller’s room, he seems puzzled but agrees and escorts them up to see it on arrival. It is a small bedroom, unremarkable. A search is made for secret compartments but nothing of that nature is found. On the Reverend Miller’s desk, however, they find an empty envelope with the name “Mr Lionel Gullan” written on it in Reverend Miller’s handwriting. A note with the previous days date (3rd of February) has been begun, but only the salutation has been written. A search of the wastepaper basket finds a screwed up previous attempt at a letter that reads:
“3rd of February, 1924.
Dear Mr Gullan,
I am writing to offer my condolences on the death of your niece, Alice. I feel I must inform somebody of certain facts. They are terrible”
Miss Sharp takes possession of the envelope and the two unfinished letters. As they leave, the Reverend Leigh is asked whether he has any idea of where Reverend Miller’s bicycle might be. He does not, but reveals that the bicycles front wheel was damaged sometime yesterday afternoon.
The investigators still plan to dine at the Wentworth Club, and checking his watch, Sir Malcolm realises it is now eight o’clock. Dinner at the Club must be ordered by half past eight, so they must hurry. But it is later than it should be. At least it seems that way to Sir Malcolm and when he raises this with the others, they feel the same way. They cannot construct a precise timeline but they all believe they arrived at the hospital shortly after seven o’clock and it seems to all of them that no more than half an hour or so has passed since then. This seems odd.
They drive to the Wentworth Club, where Sir Malcolm signs the others in as his guests. He asks Sykes, the club butler, to telephone Saint Barts for an update on the Reverend Miller’s condition. They then enjoy a decent dinner, during which Sykes returns and informs them that the Reverend Miller is resting comfortably. At the end of dinner, Mister Gregory Bluffstone, the Head of the Trustees of the Club approaches their table and asks to be introduced to Sir Malcolm’s friends. He mentions the fact that the Club has recently opened its membership to ladies and is now looking for suitable ladies to join. The clear implication is he is suggesting to Sir Malcolm that he should consider whether or not his friends are people who should be nominated for membership, especially the two young ladies.
Sir Malcolm and Mister Rhodes intend to stay the night at the club. It is not possible under club rules for the young ladies to do this, so Sir Malcolm drops them at a train station so they can make their way home. Both are very experienced users of the Underground, independent young ladies used to travelling on it at night. The night passes without incident except for Miss Sharp remembering that some odd event happened in Finsbury sometime last year and she placed a newspaper cutting about it in the scrap book she keeps of unusual possibly supernatural events.
She locates the article – it is from The Daily Herald of March 19th, 1923. Entitled Hark the Finsbury Angels Sing! it says that people had been queuing to visit a house in Pear Tree Close, Finsbury after reports that the voices of angels had been heard coming from an upstairs room. There is no obvious link to recent events except geographic proximity – Pear Tree Close is within a few hundred yards of all the interesting locations that have come to the investigator’s attention, perhaps less than a hundred yards from the Daw family home.
Tuesday, 5th of February, 1924.
Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital, Smithfield, London. The investigators meet up outside the hospital at nine o’clock intending to try and find out more about what happened to the Reverend Miller and to Doctor Edith Banks, who they believe is also likely to have been brought here. They go in and speak to the person manning the front desk. She is able to confirm that both the Reverend Miller and Doctor Edith Banks are patients at the hospital and that their condition is comfortable. Visiting hours are between two and four in the afternoon. Reverend Miller is under the care of a surgeon, Sir William Forbes-Lightly while Doctor Baxendale is handling Doctor Bank’s care. Even if was visiting hours, there would be no point in visiting Reverend Miller as he is still unconscious – but Miss Gwynne persuades her to reveal Doctor Bank’s location and to admit that as she is in a private room, there would be little harm if they just dropped in on her for a moment.
On the way up to do this, they drop in on Sir William Forbes-Lightly’s consulting rooms. Sir Malcolm’s own title gains an instant introduction to the eminent surgeon. He informs them that the Reverend Miller does have a fractured skull as well as broken ribs, but he is cautiously optimistic that as long as no complications develop, that the prognosis is good. He is still unconscious but showed some signs of stirring, and it is possible he might be able to see visitors during visiting hours this afternoon. The beating was savage and could have easily been fatal if it had been allowed to continue.
The investigators go to see Doctor Banks. She is awake and grateful to them because while she is not sure exactly what happened, her last memory is of choking and the investigators placing her on a bed in her surgery and she knows they must have saved her life. She has a rather badly abraded throat but will recover. When she is told that they removed one the strange starfish like creatures from her throat, she is shocked. She did perform the autopsy on Mary Hamer, and the idea that the creature that killed Mary may have travelled to her own body seems plausible. But she knows nothing more about it. They ask her who might know and she can give them little help – Doctors should report these things but her own reluctance to do so because of the fear it might raise doubt about her competence or even her sanity might well be shared by other doctors. Perhaps some reports have reached the coroners.
The investigators take their leave of Doctor Banks. It is approximately half past nine.