The PARADYs lady

 From the Journal of Miss Cordelia Higginbottom

October was patchy and we then had the fogs of November to look forward to. Mother had taken fright at the white witch’s words, in consequence of which Leica and I missed several Society nocturnal operations. Since these were all dismal failures we could not be too disappointed. Then one morning when mother was out shopping Ronald Helping called to drive me to Leica’s house.

 “I am glad you can come as we have an important mission on and we need you and Miss Badamaru. We are all meeting at her house where we expect also to see Doctor Watson. Lady Verdandi has been kidnapped and the Professor has been searching for her. But we will cover all that at the meeting.” Since Leica just lived down the Street from me that was all he had time to say.   

    Leica, Professor Learning and Doktor Nichtwissen were already there. The Herr Doktor said that “I decided to be giving mein crystal ball to Madam Griseldis Badamaru. Miss Leica says that she may be able to use it which I cannot. I would be a waste to leave such a fine example go to waste!”

 “It certainly did not look like a fisherman’s float to me.” I commented thinking of Frau Seher’s words.

 “It is being solid and would sink the net!” the Doktor replied.

 “Yes, but we are here to discuss an Important matter.” broke in Ronald Helping. “Cyprian Weller had contacted me again as Lady Verdandi Fitz-Herbert has been kidnapped. He knew we had a means of tracking people from earlier correspondence. Sir Richard had employed a companion, Miss Marigold Lees who is known to Mr Weller. She told him about the kidnapping which she had reported to the police. She feared that Sir Richard seemed to lack much energy in seeking to rescue his wife! She did not know if any ransom note had been received by him but he seemed more interested in shooting pheasants and partridges. He had left her to keep in contact with the police over the matter. He said that since her mistress was away she had nothing else to do! Knowing of the Professor’s Culpepper’s Soul Seeker, Mr Weller obtained a handkerchief and pair of stockings belonging to Lady Verdandi from Miss Lees. The Professor and I then went to various high points in the city, the Monument, Saint Pauls and the Tower of London. It soon appeared that she was far to the South of the city so we went by train down to the Tunbridge Wells area. Now the needle was pointing to the west. So we hired a growler and toured the forested hills of the Weald. I am sure the Society will not begrudge our expenses in such a cause?”

 “That is providing they are being within reason.” answered Doktor Nichtwissen.

 “I have the receipts ready for when the matter is concluded!” snapped Ronald and the Professor decided to join in.

 “Yes, well as he said we toured the hills on the little roads just enough to narrow down where the lady could be. By dusk the arrows drawn on the map intersected on a wooded estate called Paradys. As we returned Mr Helping and I and discussed what we should do next deciding that we must recall you all for a meeting. It occurred to me that if we did manage to rescue his Lady, Sir Richard might let us seek that ghost in his upstairs corridor. The thing now is that Doctor Watson was to come anyway and will be arriving here shortly. Mr Helping and I thought his advice and assistance could be needed. We did well at Bluekiln Wharf but dealing with criminal elements is a dangerous business.”

 “Really it is being a business of the police but they are so incompetent that they will never listen to expert advice!” growled the Doktor.

“Yes, well, I have been checking the newspaper records of the area around Paradys for occult happenings.” continued the Professor. “In case we can check anything else whilst we are there.”

 “That is if my mother will let me go there at all?” I interjected. 

 “Surely she will let you go for a little ghost seeking? I found that there is a headless one that has been seen very recently. The locals claim that he murdered an old charcoal burner by cutting his head off, but do not tell your mother that!”

 “I most certainly will not! But I thought that ghosts could not actually harm us?”  

 “You are being correct Miss Higginbottom.” agreed the Doktor.

 “But that is not true! It is rare but in my research I have come across quite a few accounts of ghosts achieving physical violence.” disagreed the Professor!

 “Bah! One can never be trusting too much in the old accounts. They are rarely written at first hand and then by those who know little of such matters. The physical violence may be an exaggeration for a better story, or it was actually caused by human trickery!”

  “Well in this case the man’s head was cut off with one blow, a short while after he had seen the ghost on the Paradys Estate! It cannot be an exaggeration because the police are investigating it!”

 “Well in my mind that leaves human trickery or indeed the actions of a demon. I have been studying the ghosts for many years and never have I known them physically hurt anyone. Remember it was the touch of the Verity woman that dissipated the ghost by the Bishop’s Palace!”

 “Ghosts come in many guises!” snapped the Professor. “Many will not even show themselves if doubters who do not believe in them are present! They could be called shy ghosts whilst others have the physical power to open doors, rattle chains and the like. Why should those not be able to wield a sword?”

   Ronald Helping held up his hand, “I think I hear Dr Watson arriving. He is coming for some occult advice, so let us try and be united for it. Remember we hope for his assistance over the kidnapped Lady Verdandi! … Welcome Doctor Watson, how can we help you?”

 “It is that I was impressed by your being able to locate Hsing Shrill on that ship. I wondered if you could track down other missing persons?”

 We all looked at one another uncertainly. One has to be so careful before sharing our knowledge with outsiders. Then Mr Helping replied. “Yes. At least we can try with a fair chance of success. To do so we need a smallish item belonging to the missing person. Do you have such a one? A missing person I mean. I ask because we were thinking of enlisting your and Mr Holmes assistance on a matter of our own.”

 “Really? Well we may do a trade-off of assistance but you must understand that I cannot commit Mr Holmes offhand?”

 “Yes of course, you must have other detecting businesses of vital importance.” responded Ronald tactfully. “However since you contacted me first it shall be for you to make the first request? Who is it that you wish us to find?”

 “Well this is highly confidential and I hope it will not be spread abroad?”

 “We will keep it silent on the honour of our society.” Said Helping and we all nodded.

 “Well I understand that you were at Larksong Manor and may know something of the owners. The fact is that Lady Verdandi has been kidnapped! She was taken from a Bond Street dressmaker. It is her that we need to locate and our own means are likely to take much too long.”

This took us all aback. The very person we were to have asked him to help us rescue! Professor Learning was the first able to speak.  “But this is the woman that we were going to ask for your assistance about! We have located her as being on or near the Paradys Hall estate in the Weald. We had already been asked to find her by Mr Cyprian Weller, solicitor to Sir Richard Fitz-Herbert! Did he also ask you and Mr Holmes?”

 “No, it was Inspector Hastings who consulted us. He was given the case because of his involvement with the occurrences at Larksong. I gather it was the Companion Miss Marigold Lees who reported the kidnapping to the police. Holmes has spoken to her and naturally she fears to lose her position if Lady Verdandi is not returned.”

 “What is Sir Richard Fitz-Herbert’s attitude in this?” I asked not having been much impressed with his demeanour when we met. 

Dr Watson replied that he did not know. Then Professor Learning told him, “Mr Weller has obtained a handkerchief and a pair of stockings belonging to Lady Verdandi from Miss Lees. It is with these that we have tracked down her rough whereabouts. We have not gone any further because despite our success at Bluekiln Wharf, taking on criminal enterprises is not our vocation.”

 “But it is not something that we will shrink from if the duty calls!” declared Leica. “If we have the support of you and Mr Holmes, I am sure that we can find the precise whereabouts of where the Lady is held. You can protect us from the criminal elements, whilst we can protect you from a supernatural danger. According to the locals, a headless ghost has recently cut off the head of a man who trespassed near the Paradys Hall”

 “I am believing that it would be a demon and not a ghost!” snapped Doktor Nichtwissen.

 “Certainly it would be a very unusual ghost according to our studies.” appeased Mr Helping. The Doctor looked thoughtful, pausing to digest this, then “I am sure Mr Holmes and I will be glad of your help but Inspector Hastings with some police will also be present at the search.”

 “Well from Lady Verdandi’s perspective I hope that you will move tonight? That is when we thought of going there!” challenged Leica and taking the rest of us aback. Doctor Watson said that he would see what he could do and left.

 “Leica, how could you pitchfork us into this so?” I demanded.

 “But do you not want to rescue Lady Verdandi Cordelia? I know that Sir Richard was not much but he was more respectable than this hypnotising kidnapper. I want to be there and I need you to give me countenance. If we give you too much notice you will allow your mother to talk you out of having what could be a splendid adventure!”

 “I am wanting to see this so called ghost that cuts people’s heads off for I am not believing it!” stated the Doktor.

 “It could be an interesting exercise which may clear up that issue!” returned the Professor. He then cited sundry instances when his records had shown ghosts to use violence against people. I was in a quandary as I feared that my mother would strenuously object of my involvement in what sounded a dangerous enterprise. I knew I had to return home to put on warm clothes and to collect my crossbow. Further, if there was a danger of meeting a demon, I thought I should take the two Na K’uei bronze disks. Of course they may not work on non-Chinese demons but it would be silly to leave them behind. I well remember the startled looks on the Matekin demons when they realised that we could see them! Anyway we departed to prepare and I sneaked back home. Whilst assembling my things I tried to behave as if nothing untoward was happening. However mother soon suspected that I was getting ready for something. “Cordelia I hope you do not think you will be leaving me here on my own tonight?”

 “The Society does have a ghost to seek tonight mother. And I have missed several trips recently. Really it makes me feel guilty to be such a backslider!”

 “It would be best if you backslided right out of that group. It is not natural for a girl to get entangled in such unhealthy things! You should catch up with your water colours or take up flower arranging or something more respectable!”

 “Mother I am twenty-seven, I am no good at painting and have no interest in doing flower arranging. I find investigating occult things really enthralling!”

 “They may seem enthralling but I think they could be dangerous too!”

 “But there are always men with us!”

 “So you take that crossbow contraption to protect them I suppose?”

 “Silver tipped quarrels to deal with anything really nasty.”

 “Which you are hoping to find I do not doubt! One day your body will be brought in on a stretcher, shot with you own arrow like as not. No, it is not right for you going out on these all-night escapades! People are beginning to talk!”

 “I always have Leica with me as a chaperone!”

 “A foreign woman even madder than you are! No Cordelia I command you to stay with me tonight!”

This might have ended it for me but then the maid Hetty reported excitedly “Ma’am there is a police van arrived outside!”

 “Police? What have you been doing now Cordelia?”

 “Nothing at all mother as you know very well!”

 “It is Miss Badamaru with a man Ma’am! Shall I let them in?”

 “Yes I suppose so.” So mother and I went to the door.

 “Hello Mrs Higginbottom. Cordelia I hope you are ready to come, as we have to catch the seven minutes to six train from Victoria?” opened Leica.

 “She is not ready to go anywhere!” glared Mother.

 “Oh please let her come with us Mrs Higginbottom. I am Detective Inspector Hastings from Scotland Yard. We hope to be rescuing a kidnapped lady tonight and would be very grateful for your daughter and Miss Badamaru to look after her.” And he gave such a sickeningly impish sweet smile that my mother noticeably mellowed.

 “Well I suppose if she is not to be in any danger?...”

 “Not at all Ma’am, She will be well protected at all times. The thing is that time is very short and we know how reliable and resourceful Miss Badamaru and your daughter are, so that they seemed the ideal ladies for this task.”

 “Well. Alright then you may go Cordelia. But make sure you wrap up well against the cold and take an umbrella for if it should rain!”

 So within five minutes we were off in the back of a Black Maria no less. Ronald was already in it and we soon picked up the other male members of our normal group.        


   On the train Inspector Hastings explained the plan that they had made to us. They with two local police guides would find their way to the two tracks in the forests beyond the Hall. We were to walk up the normal drive to the Hall. If challenged we were to say that we were come to investigate the reports of the headless ghost of Peregrine Oaster. We were not to take no for an answer! The ghost had been reported ‘somewhere’ in the grounds and not in the Hall itself. We were to look only in areas where we could intercept anyone fleeing from the Hall towards Eridge. The others were to approach and enter the Hall from behind, hoping to find Lady Verdandi. Inspector Hastings gave a loaded revolver to Mr Helping say he hoped he would take more care of it than the last one! Also whilst on the train Leica gave me a small jar. “It is real holy water for exorcizing demons. The Patriarch sold me two pots at a most reasonable rate. More reliable than the Professor’s he said. You just unscrew the top and empty it over the demon and that is the end of him!”

 “Thank you.” I said, examining the jar which was a familiar shape. The edge of the metal lid was embossed. It read ‘Bezand’s Fish Paste.’

 “I did not want to say this in the hearing of the others.” whispered the Professor. “But there have also been writings of white shapes being seen at the Family Chapel back in the eighteenth century. From previous experience such sightings lead to disappointments but I feel I ought to mention it.”

The Doktor then said “That iss goot! After our problems at the Manor I have had made a cloth sextagram. It we can be laying on the grasses or uneven ground, for the markings now permanent are.”

   As the train chugged on I pondered about the holy water. Would using a former fish paste jar damage its effectiveness? The church of England not being strong on holy water Professor Learning had obtained his from a Roman Catholic source. Would it be more or less efficacious than Eastern Orthodox holy water or would neither of them work? It is on such matters that we, at the forefront of scientific Occult experimentation have to risk our wellbeing to investigate.

    At Eridge we met a Sergeant Jellings and PC Dawson of the Kent Constabulary. They too carried revolvers and had transport arranged for us all. They suggested that we enter the park gates at midnight when the other two parties should be nearing the Hall. Apparently the gates were in fact gone but that there were still two great dog statues to mark where they used to be! So we all then went off in different vans. Ours dropped us off behind some rhododendron bushes two hundred yards short of the dog statues. It turned and left whilst we waited for midnight which was fifty freezing cold minutes away! As Leica said, we should have kept the coach until closer to the time! The professor brought out his Culpepper’s Soul Seeker and indeed the pointer, suitably screened against the wind, pointed in the direction of the Hall.

   At midnight precisely we reached the two great dog statues only to find between them some spaced out iron rails with a deep pit beneath them. “Oh, a cattle grid!” exclaimed Ronald Helping.

 “Perhaps we should carry the ladies over?” suggested Manko.

 “You keep your hands off me Saxon!” snorted Leica, “If we take care we can walk over easily enough, can we not Cordelia?” And that is what we did but as we did so two shots rang out from the hillock to our left…

It starts as a moonlit night but there are occasional clouds. There is a light Westerly breeze.

In the Moonlight sighting is 20” with possible recognition within 8”

In the dark sighting is 10” with possible recognition within 5”    

Dark Movement As normal on paved surfaces but D10 if running 0 trip Bst –3

Cross Country –1” running –2” but D10 1-trip Bst –2

Crops (BCC) –2” running –4” but D10 3- trip Bst -2


Cattle Grids walking men -1” women -2”. Running D6  3+ OK, 2  hurt -1” to all moves 1 -2” to all moves. 

Impassable to normal livestock. Stampeding beasts D6 +F Cows -1, sheep -2 Goats -2 Pigs -3 = 2+ OK 1 trapped D6 5+ to escape 0- stuck need help to be freed. {Planks needed to allow horse drawn vehicles to cross. These usually left beside Grid. Takes one man 3 rounds to emplace.

Mr Ronald Helping Lea, Activist, M0 6”, Fa 3/3/5, Ag +1, Th +1, Me +2, Mallet Bst –2   

M. Revolver BSt –2 Firing 3” 5+ Pst 0, 6” 6+ Pst 0, 11” 7+ Pst 0, 5 rounds.

Lockpicking D10 6+ to pick each move, any 0 lock cannot be picked. 

Class VII, PI Respectable, Charm M0, F +1, Coercion 0 MC £9 – 11s- 5d

Speaks Latin, Romanian (P) Watch, penknife. Police Whistle lamp

Professor Able Learning VLe, Activist, M0 5”, Fa 1/2/3, Ag -1, Th 0, Me 0, Silver cross of St Patrocles Bst –3, Deringer 2 bullets 3” 4+ st 0, 6” 5+, st –1, 11” 6+ st –2

Bag of reference books. Scroll of exorcism. Bottle of holy water (3 dollops)

Class VI, PI Respectable, Charm M0, F 0, Coercion -1 MC £4 – 7s- 8d

Speaks Latin, Romanian, Greek, French, German, Russian & Italian.

Miss Leica Badamaru  Activist, Mo 5”, Fa 2/3/4, Ag –1, Th –1, Me –1,

Dagger Pst –1, 3 pepper sachets R 2” D10 -2 rounds blinded sneezing Mo & Me –2.

Class VII, (VI) PI Respectable, Charm M +1, F +1, Coercion 0. Watch. Holy water pot.

MC £2 – 2s – 6p Speaks Romanian, French (P) Lamp

Miss Cordelia Higginbottom  Activist, Mo 5”, Fa 2/3/4, Ag –1, Th –1, Me –1, Dagger Pst –1, Class VII, (VI) PI Respectable, Charm M +1, F +1, Coercion 0. Watch

Hand crossbow 3” 5+ Pst –1 6” 6+ Pst –1, 11” 7+ Pst –2. 3 silver tipped darts

MC £3 – 7s – 5p Speaks Chinese French (P) Holy water pot. Lamp. First Aid kit.

Herr Doktor Sigismund Nichtwissen Activist, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/5 Ag +1, Th 0, Me +2 Deringer 2 silver bullets 3” 4+ Pst 0, 6” 5+, Pst –1, 11” 6+ Pst –2

Class VI, PI Respectable, Charm M-1, F 1, Coercion 0 MC £2 – 13- 7d

Speaks German, Latin, French, English, Polish & Italian.

Manko WA +1, Mo 6” Fa 2/5/7 Ag +1, Th +1, Me +2 cudgel Bst –1. Class III

MC £0 – 1s – 8d, Short besom, chalk & six purple candles.

two Na K’uei bronze disks for making demons visible. Canvas sextagram

PI Respectable Speaks German, English (P) Lamp






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