Monday, 27th of July, 1925
The Evening Gazette carries a story that captures the eye of three of our investigators. The previous night there was a break in at the Mortlake School for Girls (once attended by Miss Elan Gwynne) and a number of antiques were stolen. What the investigators most notice is that the school was once the home of Doctor John Dee – a name that has come up in their previous investigations.
Shortly after reading these articles, the investigators are contacted by telephone and telegram and asked to meet a Mister Leander Grieve at the Wentwoth Club this evening.
They do so and as well as meeting Mister Grieve for the first time, they are introduced to Mister Paul Peelman, an associate of Mister Grieve, who he has asked to be present because the investigators might be able to make use of his skills in the task that Mister Grieve wishes them to undertake.
Mister Grieve is one half of the Grieve Brothers of Pimlico – dealer in esoteric and exotic literature – to be specific, occult literature. He informs the investigators that Miss Wilhelmina Haversham, the Headmistress of Mortlake School for Girls called him in to ask him to authenticate some papers that had recently been found in the school. He was able to do so – and to identify them as seven lost pages from a work by Doctor John Dee. These are the items that were stolen from the school last night.
Mister Grieve wants the investigators to recover the stolen pages, and will pay them ten pounds for each page, or one hundred pounds if all seven are recovered. He will also undertake to pay Miss Haversham any reasonable price for the pages, but clearly feels he will be in a stronger negotiating position if they are already in his possession.
He says the pages are worth more to him than they would be to any other dealer because they will allow him to complete a copy of the work already in his possession, making it the only extant complete copy and therefore extremely valuable. He will therefore be willing to pay more than any other dealer as he has more to gain.
It seems likely to him that the pages were stolen by somebody connected to another dealer – he knows that he was not the only expert consulted by Miss Haversham, although he does not know who else she consulted.
The investigators agree to take on the case, after negotiating a daily fee and expenses in addition to the promised reward.
Tuesday, 28th of July, 1925
The following day they visit the school. Mister Peelman shows off his skills by assessing the likelihood that somebody with nefarious motives might have been hiding in the grounds of the school. The terrain and level of overgrowth would make it fairly easy for somebody to do so.
Miss Gwynne obtains an audience with Miss Haversham for the group. They explain that they have been retained to investigate the break in, and she is delighted to have their assistance. She feels the police are not taking the matter seriously.
She explains that the papers were found by three young girls who were out of bounds in the school cellars. She called in three experts to assess their authenticity – Mister Leander Grieve of Grieve Brothers of Pimlico confirmed they were authentic and offered her a generous price she was considering for the papers. Watkins of Charing Cross sent a Mister Randolph Kipps who informed here that the documents were a hoax. Atlantis Books of Bloomsbury also sent a man who endorsed their authenticity.
Miss Haversham hid the books inside a large atlas in the school's old library.
The burglary on Sunday night (actually early Monday morning) was detected by two older girls who heard noises and told the Duty Mistress, Miss Hucknall, who investigated. As they approached the library two large men, their faces obscured by scarves, forced their way past them and ran outside where they climbed into a black van and drove away.
The papers seem to have been the only things stolen and Miss Haversham does not know how anybody could have known where she had placed them for safekeeping.
She agrees to summon the three girls who originally found the papers so they can be questioned by the investigators in her absence – the girls are likely to be intimidated by her presence.
The three girls are summoned – all are about 14 years old, they are Miss Eleanor Bennett, Miss Sally Woods, and Miss Milicent Majors. When they arrive Miss Woods and Miss Majors are in school uniform, but Eleanor Bennett is dressed in the style of a flapper – and cheekily, almost insolently, informs her Headmistress that she has lost her school uniform. Miss Haversham leaves the girls with the investigators and the use of her office, clearly intending to deal with Eleanor later.
The girls are reluctant to answer questions – in fact, Sally and Milicent won't speak at all. Eleanor seems concerned that she might get into trouble if she talks but also seems to think she should be paid for any information she gives.
Miss Gwynne consults the girls' files – she knows how the school works – and discovers that Eleanor is a known bully who has the two other girls under her thumb. There is also a notation on Milicent Majors file that she will generally tell all if she is removed from Eleanor's presence and promised both leniency and the fact that Eleanor will not find out what she has done.
The girls are separated and Milicent reveals that it was Eleanor who found the papers in a cupboard in the cellar while they were playing a game like hide and seek. She also tells them that Eleanor has been talking to a man and she thinks Eleanor may know something about the burglary.
Questioning of Eleanor resumes and under the pressure of a threat of a spanking if she doesn't answer, and a promise that anything she says will be kept from Miss Haversham as long as it doesn't put anybody in danger, she reveals that she was paid five shillings by a tall red headed man who she met on Saturday afternoon in the school gardens to find out where Miss Haversham had hidden the papers. She delivered this information by placing a note underneath the letter box at the school gate. She thinks the redheaded man had been to see Miss Haversham.
When asked, Miss Haversham confirms she saw the representatives from both Watkins and Atlantis books on Saturday afternoon, but neither of them were red headed men.