Tuesday, 5th of February, 1924
It is approximately half past nine in the morning and the investigators are standing outside Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital having just inquired about the health of the Reverend Miller (still unconscious) and of Doctor Edith Banks who they were able to see. They decide to visit the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street having been told that this is the most like place that Alice Daw would have sought medical counsel – her age would have allowed her to see one of the Doctors there. At the Great Ormond Street Hospital, they are able to navigate past the young student nurse on the front desk, Penelope Smithers, to speak to a Staff Nurse, Sister Baldwin. Sister Baldwin having heard that they are investigating the death of Alice in part of behalf of Doctor Edith Banks is willing to confirm from files that Alice did visit the hospital on Friday, 1st of February, between approximately 11am and 1pm, but will not give them any other details. They will need a letter from Doctor Banks and a letter from a Justice of the Peace or a Magistrate to get any more details. Sir Malcolm makes a telephone call to St Bart’s asking that a message be passed on to Doctor Banks asking for the necessary letter and then the investigators drive to Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, where Sir Malcolm’s lawyer, Mister Benjamin Donovan, KC, has his chambers. After a short meeting, Mister Donovan takes them to see a Magistrate who gives them a document that will allow them to see Miss Daw’s records. They return to Great Ormond Street via St Bart’s where they collect their letter from Doctor Banks. At Great Ormond Street, Sister Baldwin conducts them to see Mrs Meredith Merewether, a Hospital administrator, who agree that they can see Doctor Aloysius Monroe, the physician who examined Alice on Friday. Doctor Monroe confirms that he did see Alice and examined her and that pregnancy seemed likely from various physical signs, but she was meant to come back today for a more thorough examination as the girl insisted she had done nothing that could have caused a pregnancy and so other possibilities needed to be checked. When he is shown the creature that caused Alice’s death, he is astonished and confirms what Doctor Banks has already told them – he has never heard of such a creature before, to the best of his knowledge, it is unknown to medical science.
Taking their leave of Doctor Monroe, the investigators now head to the Natural History Museum to seek information from Basil Fillmore, an expert in echinoderms. They find him in a small office and laboratory in the attics of the museum. When he is shown the creatures, he identifies them as some sort of starfish but of a species previously unknown to science. He is surprised when they tell him this creature can survive on land and inside a human being for some time. He asks for the most damaged specimen to be left with him for further examination. He gives Miss Gwynne a vial of Prussic acid – hydrogen cyanide – and tells her that if she wants to be sure that the more intact specimen she still has in a jar is definitely dead, pouring in the Prussic acid, sealing the jar, and heating it slightly should definitely kill anything inside – but the acid must be handled with great care, and great care must be taken in opening the vial, and the jar, at all times.
Now the investigators head to the University College to see an acquaintance of Mister Scott Rhodes who is an expert on the history of London, Professor Christopher Beuregard. They ask him if he knows of any history of similar deaths in London. He does not, but does suggest that if he was looking for a source of strange parasites near the Finsbury area of London, Smithfield Market, London’s major meat market, could be of interest. The investigators recall that Miss Mary Hamer – the first girl known to have died because of one of these creatures – worked in a florists near Smithfield Market.
Next stop in the investigator’s travels is McClaggen’s Book Binders in Berry Street. They ask if he knows anything about the Liber de Lumine and while he knows of it, he can tell them nothing that they do not already know. He mentions that the Reverend Leigh of St James’ Church is very knowledgeable about such texts, which raises the suspicions of the investigators as it was Leigh who gave them McClaggen’s name in the first place, professing to have only very limited knowledge of the subject. McClaggen also tells them that he came into possession of a copy of The Book of Dunstan just last week and asked Reverend Leigh his opinion of it. The Reverend asked him to repair the binding, and McClaggen had the impression he was interested in purchasing the book once repaired. But it went missing that night – this was the 28th of January. Mister Scott Rhodes is aware and informs the others that Edward Kelley – the author of The Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelley – a dustjacket of which was found in the pocket of Alice Daw’s coat after her death – had once been in possession of the original Book of Dunstan.
Being nearby, the investigators head to Pear Tree Close to see what they can find out about the strange voices heard at a house in that street last year. They ask some children if they know which house it was and are directed to the home of the Crespo family. Mister Rhodes notes that the houses in this street are very old – their wooden construction in solid oak – suggests they predate the Great Fire of London of 1666. The housemaid, Sofia, opens the door when they knock and admits them to talk to Mrs Gabriella Crespo. Mrs Crespo is happy to discuss what happened in February and March last year. Her daughter began complaining of hearing strange voices in the dark in her room. Eventually Mrs Crespo heard them as well. She called in her Parish Priest, Father Thomas who agreed to perform a blessing on the room in which the voices had been heard. But when he entered he fell to his knees, weeping tears of joy, and declared that the voices he was hearing were the voices of angels. Word spread and over the next six weeks, many people came to hear the voices, including many religious people. The voices ended abruptly when an Anglican Vicar asked to be allowed to pray in private in the room. After he had left, Mrs Crespo found a loose floorboard that had not been loose before. There was a small compartment constructed underneath. She has come to believe that whatever caused the voices was in that compartment and suspects that the Vicar took it. She is able to identify him as the Reverend Leigh.
A scream is heard from downstairs. Running down to the kitchen, Sofia is lying unconscious on the ground. Miss Gwynne examines her and realises she can feel something moving under the skin of the woman’s stomach. Mister Rhodes is dispatched to find a telephone to call for an ambulance while Sir Malcolm prepares to perform an emergency ‘caesarean’. Fortunately as he runs for the telephone box, Mister Rhodes spies a plaque on a house two doors away that tells him it is the residence and surgery of a Doctor Pesavento. He bangs on the door, and Doctor Pesavento grabs her medical bag and accompanies him back to the Crespo house. Sir Malcolm assists as Doctor Pesavenot makes an incision and all recoil as three small starfish like creatures scuttle out and begin running around the kitchen. Mister Rhodes skewers one with a knife, Miss Gwynne catches another with a jar, while the third evades Miss Sharp and passes out of sight under a cupboard. Sir Malcolm recovers three more of the creatures still inside Sofia’s abdomen. Mister Rhodes is sent to call for the ambulance. Sofia is alive but there are internal injuries. She is taken to hospital. Mrs Crespo accompanies her.
It is approximately one o’clock in the afternoon.