The PARADYs lady

From the Journal of Doctor John Watson

Sherlock Holmes was pretty dispirited after the Larksong affair. “We made a mullet of it and that is the truth Watson!”

 “You are too much of a perfectionist Holmes! We prevented the burglary and stopped Lady Verdandi from leaving her husband. Most people would be pleased with such results.”

 “But can you not see Watson, it was an opportunity to track down Moriarty! I suspect that he would not have been far away, waiting to greet his new lady friend!”

 “Holmes you are so hard to please. Not so long back you felt that having caught Moriarty there was little else left in life to strive for! Well we at least caught Albert Spear his Lieutenant, that is an achievement in itself!”

 “If, we had not caught him already once at Limehouse! By the by Watson I have been meaning to ask you about the Occult Verification Society people. Hastings met them at the Manor and has been inferring that we must have been responsible for their presence?”

 “Upon my honour Holmes I have not spoken to any of them since the Bluekiln Wharf affair.”

 “Well Hastings says that only we and his sergeant knew about Larksong, so it is an almost unbelievable coincidence that they should be there that night! It seems that it was they who frightened Frau Seher away that evening. Why should they do that?”

 “Well they do have their supernatural means of discovering things Holmes.”

 “Supernatural poppycock! Doubtless there is some perfectly rational explanation for their presence. Sir Richard has informed Hastings that their ghost hunting that night was a complete failure.”

 “There are more powers in the world than we know about Holmes. They managed to locate Hsing Shrill and rescue him before we could!”

 “Doubtless Miss Higginbottom’s Chinese contacts were responsible for that. Anyway enough of them, our immediate task is to track down Moriarty’s new lair. It must be well established now if he hoped to take Lady Verdandi there.”

   I was not convinced by this. I had seen some incredible things in India and Afghanistan that mocked the rational world. However, fortunately for us, some other cases of merit arrived, to ameliorate his obsession with Moriarty.

   A few weeks later this was re-awakened when Hastings notified us that Lady Verdandi had been kidnapped! It had happened one morning at a prestigious Bond Street Gown-makers. Lady Verdandi had been accompanied by Miss Marigold Lees who had been hired by Sir Richard as a duenna. They had gone there to check the final fitting of a new gown for Lady Verdandi. A woman there had overcome Miss Marigold with a chloroform pad, whilst Verdandi was in the changing room. Then another with a pistol had ordered the staff into a back room. It is thought that Verdandi herself was also overcome with chloroform and taken away in the Modiste’s own delivery van. This was later found two miles away off Elgin Avenue Paddington.

  “The Moriarty Game is afoot again Watson! Of course Hastings had to check out other possibilities. The Prince of Wales entourage is far elsewhere and he is still consorting with Miss Maxine Elliot. Hastings has received assurances from a most exalted source that Lady Verdandi is not regarded as a threat to the establishment. But I have been making inquiries regarding the recent sales of suitable properties in the London area. Looking for those likely for a lair but have drawn a blank so far.”

 “Lord Holmes there must be thousands of them!”

 “Eight hundred and fifty-three in my list but I think he has gone a little further afield. So I have set my team to check other lists. By the way, Hastings and I are fairly sure that the kidnapping must have been done by Mrs Bermondsey and her tough accomplice Janice Grant. Hastings says that Bermondsey was sacked from Wasps Wares and has not been seen by her Fabiana group since the night of the Larksong Incident.”

 “So if we could find their whereabouts we might track down Moriarty?”

 “Wrong Watson I suspect. Having used their services here, Moriarty may well have sent them to case burglary targets far away from London. No I think that steady practical investigations of recent sizeable property purchases by Scotland Yard and my contacts will turn up trumps in the end. I am also checking on any acts of violence that might indicate a locality where intruders are not welcome.”

 “Heavens Holmes, that could apply to Buckingham Palace, not to mention hundreds of other perfectly respectable addresses!”

 “It may also lead us to plenty of other criminal activities by others but we must persevere. One never expects tracking Moriarty to be easy.”

 “But Lady Verdandi might be easier to track. I mean Bermondsey and Grant may well be as you say sent elsewhere but if Moriarty wants her as his mistress she must be at his lair.”

 “True, but how to track her? I expect that Moriarty will keep her secure until he has her sufficiently hypnotised to be trustworthy.”

 “Yes but Holmes, if they took her with just the clothes she stands in, surely she will need more and perhaps could be found that way?”

 “In fact she also has the new gown which Sir Richard is refusing to pay for. Watson, I have expertise on many subjects but female apparel is not one of them. We lucky bachelors are spared that. From my married friends, I understand that the female sex is allied to the Milliners, dressmakers, haberdashers and shoe shops, in order to bankrupt them with wholly unreasonable expenses! Women with bulging wardrobes still demand more to cater for ever changing fashions. No, anyway I would expect Mrs Bermondsey to have been able to procure any other clothes deemed necessary.”

    I had another idea which I did not dare to put to him. I remembered that the OVS people had claimed to find Hsing Shrill by occult means. Holmes thought that this was not true but what if they did have a means of finding missing people? I decided to ask for an interview with them without telling Holmes.

 A week later I went one morning to a gloomy house in Porchester Gardens Bayswater. As I approached the door I saw a hook-nosed woman with beady eyes glaring at me out of the ground floor window. It was a relief to be admitted by a plain English maid.

“The Society are just up here Sir.” She said ushering me up to the first floor. I entered the room and recognised Mr Helping, Professor Learning, Doktor Nichtwissen, Miss Higginbottom and Miss Badamaru. This was the latter’s home apparently. I was glad not to find the witchlike woman present, Miss Badamaru was frightening enough!

 “Welcome Doctor Watson, how can we help you?” asked Mr Helping.

 So I said that I had been impressed by their being able to locate Hsing Shrill and wondered if they could track down other missing people? They all looked at one another before 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 understand that I cannot commit Mr Holmes offhand?”

 “Yes of course, you must have other detecting businesses of vital importance.” responded Mr Helping. “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 all the others 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 Bond Street dressmakers. It is her that we need to locate and our own means are likely to take much too long.” They all gaped at me with their mouths open! Then they looked at one another again before Professor Learning spoke.

 “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?” asked Miss Higginbottom.

 I replied that I did not know, not having given much thought to the matter. Then Professor Learning spoke, “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 the redoubtable Rumanian Miss Badamaru. “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!” said Doktor Nichtwissen rather fiercely.

 “Certainly it would be a very unusual ghost according to our studies.” Responded Mr Helping pacifically. From which I gathered that there had been some argument on this subject. This talk of a man having his head cut off rather upset me but one must go when duty calls. I replied that we would welcome their help but that Inspector Hastings with some police would 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 Miss Badamaru.

   I returned to Baker Street to find Holmes in consultation with Hastings.

“Ah Watson here is Hastings and we think we have found Moriarty’s new lair!”

 “That is good news Holmes but I have news on that front myself. The Occult Verification people think Lady Verdandi is held on the Paradys Hall Estate. If she is there it must most likely be a lair of his!”

 Hasting swore, “Damn! Those Kentish Bumpkin’s must have talked! Well if you are interested Doctor, Holmes and I intend to strike tonight! Whether Moriarty or Lady Verdandi are there is still open to doubt but we believe that the murderer of Mr Anselm Whittle is lurking at Paradys Hall. It is also within the reach of Lye Green from where a Mr Thomas Wessel has disappeared recently.”

 “My researches led me to the lair being Paradys Hall was by my irregulars watching Mr Archon. I am certain that it was he who bought the Hall of Moriarty’s behalf.” said Holmes. “Anyway if we strike tonight we should have the business finished before those infernal ghost hunters get too involved!”

 “I am afraid not Holmes they intend to go tonight whether we help them or not! They think that the man’s head was cut off by a demon and not a ghost! They offered to defend us against supernatural dangers!”

 “The mind boggles!” snorted Holmes but Hasting stood thinking for a minute.

 “I think we should make use of these people. Our problem as always is a shortage of manpower. The local police think we are chasing a mare’s nest there. Apart from DPC Longscape I have only a sergeant and one constable from Eridge Station. According to them there are three tracks leading to Paradys Hall. One is the main route leading to Eridge which is mainly only used by the Hall people. The other two connect with a maze of others that meander through the forests and hills of the Weald and are used by hardly anyone! Anyone of sane mind that is! It used to be a charcoal burning area but that craft has almost died out, killed by the coal. It seems to me that if half a dozen of the ghost hunters go barging up the main track to the Hall, they should be safe enough. I suppose I shall have to give their headman another revolver. He lost the last one! Then if we with the local peelers approach from the other two tracks we should block off anyone trying to escape!”

 “It sounds a good plan to me.” I acknowledged with a wary eye on Holmes. He said, “Perhaps, if we can get the timing right. It will never do if we spend hours lost blundering about in the forest. The occultists might spend the night happily waiting for the non-existent ghost whilst Moriarty and his minions flee to safety.”

 “I have asked to have only men who know the forest paths well enough.” answered Hastings. “The train we intend to catch leaves Victoria at 1753hrs so we had best make sure of the ghost hunters. Since Lady Verdandi may be involved their ladies may well be of use. There are times when a police trained auxiliary female could be a good idea!”

 I advised him to write to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner with the idea but he laughed. “That is one way to get transferred to somewhere nasty! The Commissioner wants results not ideas. I suppose the best way to get the ghost people onto that train is to send a Black Maria to pick them up. I shall send a telegraph to Eridge to supply enough transport at the other end.”

   With a great feat of organisation Hastings, his DPC, Holmes six of the OVS and I assembled in time to catch the 1753 to Uckfield. On the train we explained the plan to the Occult Verification Society. We with two local police guides would find our way to the two tracks beyond the Hall. Allowing sufficient time for us to do this, Mr Helping was to lead his people up the normal drive to the Hall. They were to say that they were come to investigate the reports of the headless ghost of Peregrine Oaster and to be ready to fight for the right! The ghost was reported ‘somewhere’ in the grounds and not in the Hall itself. They were to look only in areas where they could intercept anyone fleeing from the Hall towards Eridge. We were to approach and enter the Hall from behind hoping to find Lady Verdandi. Hastings had brought four extra pairs of handcuffs, as he expected that possibly innocent members of the Hall staff might need to be held whilst we proceeded with our investigations. These we shared between the four of us and with Hastings giving a loaded revolver to Mr Helping. The rest of them were as usual armed to the teeth so I was glad that they were on our side!

     At Eridge we met Sergeant Jellings and PC Dawson of the Kent Constabulary. They too carried revolvers and had transport arranged for us. They suggested that if the OVS entered the park gates at midnight, our two parties should be close to the Hall. Actually they said that the gates were in fact gone but there were two great dog statues to mark where they used to be! So we all then went off in different vans. Sergeant Jellings directed ours along miles of hilly and twisty narrow roads before stopping in the middle of a dark forest. “This is the path here Sirs I think.” So we got out and then walked for miles along an overgrown track. Perhaps at one time carts had used it but trees and bushes had encroached so much that was not possible now. Like the roads it meandered around and up and down. The Sergeant was counting as he walked. We came to several track junctions and at each one he would consult his compass. “It would never do to get you lost Sirs!” he grinned. “Not with that Scotland Yard Sleuth with us.”

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

In 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.

 A1 1st Party D6 each move needing 4+ to arrive on table

Sherlock Holmes Act, LEA, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/5, Ag +2, Th +1, Me +2, revolver Bst –2.

Firing 3” 4+ Pst 0, 6” 5+ Pst 0, 11” 6+ Pst 0, 18” 7+ Pst –2, 5 rounds, Magnifying Glass

Class VI, PI Respectable, Charm M0, F+1, Coercion +1. MC £5 – 12s – 9d

Police whistle 24”, Penknife, watch, Bullseye lamp 

Dr Watson Activist, Vle, Mo 5.5”, Fa 2/3/5, Ag +1, Th +1, Me +1, revolver Bst –2.

Firing 3” 4+ Pst 0, 6” 5+ Pst 0, 11” 6+ Pst 0, 18” 7+ Pst –2, 5 rounds Doctors Bag 1st Aid

Class VI, PI Respectable, Charm M+1 F+2, Coercion 0. MC £3 – 10s – 8d, Watch Lamp.

Sergeant Jellings WA, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/5, Ag +2, Th +2, Me +2 Revolver Bst –2

Revolver Firing 3” 4+ Pst 0, 6” 5+ Pst 0, 11” 6+ Pst 0, 18” 7+ Pst –2, 5 rounds Watch

Compass notebook, lamp, Class IV, PI Respectable, Charm M-1 F 0, Coercion +1.

MC £0 – 7s – 9d. Police whistle 24”

A2 2nd Party D6 each move needing 4+ to arrive on table

D. Inspector Harold Hastings Lea, Ac +1, Mo 6”, Fa 1/1/2 Ag -1, Mar 0, Th, 0, Me +1

M. Revolver BSt –2 Firing 3” 5+ Pst 0, 6” 6+ Pst 0, 11” 7+ Pst 0, 5 rounds. Watch, Lamp, Handcuffs, Police whistle 24”. Class VI, Respectable Charm 0, Coercion +2.

MC £3 – 10s – 4d, Warrant.

DPC Longscape WA, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/5, Ag +2, Th +2, Me +2 Revolver Bst –2

Revolver Firing 3” 4+ Pst 0, 6” 5+ Pst 0, 11” 6+ Pst 0, 18” 7+ Pst –2, 5 rounds Watch

 notebook, lamp, Class IV, PI Respectable, Charm M-1 F 0, Coercion +1.

MC £0 –6s – 4d.

PC Dawson WA, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/5, Ag +2, Th +2, Me +2 Revolver Bst –2

Revolver Firing 3” 4+ Pst 0, 6” 5+ Pst 0, 11” 6+ Pst 0, 18” 7+ Pst –2, 5 rounds Watch

 notebook, lamp, Class IV, PI Respectable, Charm M-1 F 0, Coercion +1.

MC £0 – 2s – 2d. Police whistle, compass. 






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