Monday, 4th of February, 1924
Finsbury, London. Our four investigators leave 7 Allen Street, Finsbury. Sir Malcolm locates a telephone box and makes a telephone call to the Wentworth Club. As usual, Sykes, the Butler is on duty. Sir Malcom asks Sykes if he knows of any member of the Wentworth Club who would be an expert on starfish and similar creatures. After a moment’s thought, Sykes is able to give Sir Malcolm, the name Basil Fillmore who works at the Natural History Museum and is likely to be able to answer any questions on that subject.
It is decided to go and visit Cecil Bosco, the young man who Alice Daw was in a romantic relationship with. As all they know is that Bosco works at a garment merchants of some sort in Berry Street, it is decided to drop in at the local Police Station and ask for directions. At the police station, the name Cecil Bosco brings the attention of Constable Wilkins. Constable Wilkins knows the name as he was the first police officer who attended the Daw residence when the death of Alice Daw was reported yesterday morning. He is able to tell the investigators that Cecil Bosco works at a garment manufacturer called Rabinowitz’s on Berry Street.
At Rabinowitz’s, the investigators meet Mary Rabinowitz, presumably the wife of the proprietor, and she agrees to allow them to speak to Cecil Bosco. She reminds them that the lad had just suffered a bereavement and asks them to try to avoid distressing them, then summons him into the front room of the establishment. She leaves them in privacy. Cecil is seventeen years old and is an apprentice tailor. He tells the investigators that he last saw Alice at the end of the work day last Thursday (the 31st of January) – she worked as a seamstress at this same establishment. She was not at work on Friday. When asked where he and Alice go together, he mentions that besides seeing each other at work, they sometimes visit a cinema or go to the Angel Café, in Islington.
Elan Gwynne is asking most of the questions and is quite prepared to ask the questions that others might not ask. Sir Malcolm, in particular, is quite shocked at her candour. As well as asking outright if Cecil and Alice had enjoyed the normal intimacies that might be associated with marriage, she goes further and asks very specific questions as to whether or not they may have engaged in less common forms of sexual intimacy! The reasons for these questions is obvious – the possibly that Cecil Bosco may have somehow infected Alice with the strange starfish like parasite which it seems possible was lurking inside her is a reasonably hypothesis. But Cecil denies any intimacy at all with Alice. He also says that he has never heard of Mary Hamer, the other girl who it seems may have suffered a similar fate. The investigators seem reasonably satisfied he is telling the truth. When asked if there was anywhere else Alice was in the habit of visiting, Cecil says that she sometimes visited her Uncle Lionel, and that she also visited St James Church on occasion – he did not accompany her on these visits having little interest in meeting her Uncle, and himself being a Roman Catholic rather than sharing Alice’s Church of England affiliation.
The investigators leave Cecil and ask Mrs Rabinowitz if they can see where Alice worked. Mrs Rabinowitz takes them upstairs to a room containing five young ladies operating six sewing machines. This establishment is a modern, clean working environment that produces ready to wear clothing for a number of London stores. Alice operated the now idle machine. Searching the drawers associated with the machine, nothing of interest is found. Mrs Rabinowitz suggests the investigators talk to Sarah Peel, one of the other seamstresses.
Sarah looks like she is in her mid-twenties, the oldest working in this room. She says she knew Alice quite well and Alice was a good girl who came to her for advice, Sarah being older and somewhat wiser in the ways of the world. She seems quite open and tells them that Alice had confided in her a fear that she might be pregnant but had insisted that she had not engaged in any form of sexual intercourse. Sarah sought to reassure Alice that if that was truly the case, she had no real reason to believe she was pregnant and that the symptoms that lead her to believe she might be – Sarah assumed that Alice had not had her period since around Christmas time although Alice was not precise about such details – could have some other explanation. She had suggested the younger girl should see a Doctor and when Alice was not at work last Friday, she assumed that was what she was doing. When asked what she knew about Alice’s life outside of work, she said that she knew Alice was going out on occasion with Cecil Bosco, and that she sometimes visited the local Church. Alice was apparently devoutly religious.
Leaving the clothing establishment, it is decided to have a late lunch – Sir Malcolm in particular, feels in need of strong tea. It is decided that the Angel Café, which is not too far away is convenient, and so the investigators repair there for soup, bread and butter, and tea. Thus fortified, it is decided to make a visit to St James’ Church in Clerkenwell.
The church is in a garden setting with a residence for the clergy off to one side. The crypt of the church has been converted to a large hall, and the noticeboard outside the church indicates the hall is used by various groups in the community such as the Women’s Institute. It also indicates that there are two Ministers associated with the church – the Reverend Leigh, and the Reverend Miller. After a brief examination by Scott Rhodes reveals that the church itself is currently unoccupied, it is decided to make a call on the residence. As the investigators approach, they see a young man in clerical dress riding out of the gate on a wobbling bicycle. They hail him and watch as he almost crashes his bicycle. But he stops. This is the Reverend Miller. He is the curate here. He is running late for an appointment and says that while he did know Alice Daw, they’d be better off talking to Reverend Leigh, the vicar here, as Alice had much more contact with him. They leave him to ride off on his bicycle – the front wheel is obviously bent – while they go and knock on the door to the residence.
A woman – the housekeeper, they assume – invites them into the front parlour and says she will fetch Reverend Leigh. The parlour also looks like it serves as a library and perhaps as a study as well, but there is no time to look at it in detail, before the Reverend Leigh arrives. A middle-aged man, somewhat portly, he invites them to sit down. The investigators explain they are looking into the death of Alice Daw. Reverend Leigh acknowledges that he knew the girl as a regular visitor to his church, but he cannot really say much more than that for reasons of clerical confidentiality. Scott Rhodes makes a vigorous case for Reverend Leigh to nonetheless tell them whatever he can, but the Reverend relents only a little. Alice was a regular attendant at Sunday services with her family, but she also used to visit the church at other times to pray. Reverend Leigh did sometimes talk to her but the only unusual matter she ever raised was to ask him about what would be involved if she chose to marry a Catholic. He is surprised at the suggestion she tried to steal a book, as she always seemed to him to be honest and also not that interested in reading – he gestures to his own library and says that it would have been available to her if she had wanted to read books. Elan asks to take a look at his library – it struck her on entering as a potentially interesting one – and he agrees that she can look, but it proves far less interesting that she had initially thought. Lots of ponderous tomes on Church of England theology along with many Victorian era novels of the Eric, or, Little by Little type – books for children and young people intended to cultivate a particular idea of morality and goodness of the type approved by the church. The only book that strikes Elan as at all unusual is an 1880s Latin Vulgate Bible – a nicely bound, heavy tome. The Vulgate is the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, long superseded in Church of England use by the Authorized Version – the King James’ Bible. Reverend Leigh says he has kept it largely because it is an attractive binding, and because it is, after all, a Bible – he would not use it in his Ministry, but whatever their faults, the Catholics have treated the Bible with respect. He is told about the book that Alice apparently tried to steal – the Liber de Lumine of Ramon Llull, but beyond being able to translate the title into English – Book of Light – he professes no knowledge of it. The name Llull, he thinks may have been the name of a heretic, but it’s not an area he is that interested in. He says he has a parishioner, Clive McLaglen who runs a bookbinders on Berry Street, who has an interest in old books but it’s not his own field.
The investigators take their leave of Reverend Leigh. It is somewhat later than they expected, the sun is setting and so they decide to head back to the Clerkenwell Medical Mission to see what Doctor Banks has discovered with her autopsy investigation of Alice Daw’s body. She lets them into the Mission and takes them across to her surgery. She seems nervous and somewhat unsteady. She tells them that she has completed an autopsy on Alice and the results are similar to those on Mary Hamer. It seems as if something was eating Alice’s internal organs. It is like nothing she has seen or heard of in medicine.
She goes and gets a glass of water from a pitcher in a corner of the room. She gags on it. The investigators can see a rippling across the front of her neck, and she seems to be having difficulty breathing. They manage to get her to lie on the bench along one side of her surgery and look down her throat with a torch. There is something moving there. Sir Malcolm immediately grabs a bottle of ether, and with Evelyn Sharp preventing him using too much, anaesthetizes the Doctor. With a set of forceps, Scott Rhodes pulls the moving object from her throat – there seems little choice except to let the Doctor choke on it. A great deal of blood comes with it but what is pulled out is a similar starfish like creature to that recovered in Alice Daw’s room. Sir Malcolm uses the telephone to call for an ambulance. A jar is found in which to place the creature. An ambulance arrives and the two orderlies take the unconscious Doctor Banks away. Shortly after, Constable Wilkins arrives. When he is shown evidence that the investigators have been asked to look into the death of Alice Daw and apparently overawed by Sir Malcolm’s title, he agrees to allow the investigators to carry out a search of the Medical Mission as long as he can accompany them so he can swear as to their actions if needed. Constable Wilkins seems diligent in his work. Nothing is found, but when he is given a brief overview of what the investigators suspect – that Alice died from some infestation by a strange creature, one of which also infected Doctor Banks, and may have also killed Mary Hamer, he agrees to allow them to keep possession of the starfish like creature for their investigation while he will have to contact his Inspector and ask what a police constable is supposed to do in a case like this.