The Case of the Missing Fan Dancer
Hearts of Oak Society Osric Panham
Brother Board members, this is my tale of our deeds at St. Radegunds on the 21st March. As planned we entered up Flood way. We saw a man ahead but he took fright and fled. I suspected he might be a harlots client so ignored him. At its junction with High Wall Lane I had intended to split the lads into two. However I could see a group of half a dozen men approaching us in Plague Way because of a light still on in the Grim Way. I thought that a turn up with such a lot could make too much noise! I put most of the lads back in the van and we all went along High Wall Lane. Just round the bend I met Giles Redman one of our members so I told him to get into the cart. A little further and a mongrel took too friendly an interest in us yapping and jumping around. For fear of it upsetting the horses Dock Wyndham chloroformed it and we his it in the van. The small gate into the graveyard was unlocked but I decided to proceed on because of the men seen coming down Plague Way. “Peelers!” said the Dock and all the rest of us hid in the van. But a plain-clothes inspector stopped us waving a pistol. Dock told him he was driving a gang of us to have a drink at the Queens Head. But the inspector was suspicious and wanted to look in the back. Giles Redman tried to knock him out swinging open the door but just hurt him enough to make him angry. Very angry! He ordered us out and lined us up against a wall with his pistol and called two constables to his aid. He noticed our cudgels up our sleeves and wanted our names and addresses. He was talking of taking us all to his nick so I shouted for us to charge him. He fired two shots in the air before we got to him but then he fought like a tiger, as did the constables that came to his aid. Lefty Top and Bert Bones both got felled whilst despite some hard blows the inspector stayed on his feet. I heard shouting from our right and it was the men we had seen in Plague Way. It seemed we were about to be outnumbered. “We aint supposed to be fighting the Peelers!” said the Dock. So we scarpered and climbed over the gate into the Claypit warehouse place. There we was attacked by two mastiffs what we cudgelled out of the way. They won’t trouble anyone no more! Then we ran to the other end hearing two more shots as we did so and climbed over into Flood Way again. Lefty, Bert and now Dock were missing and the Peelers now had the van! I reckoned that Doc must have got shot at the gate but the peelers did not follow us. Shirty Loam said he suspicioned that the fellows helping the Peelers must be vigilantes
“We don’t want them knowing us too well!” said Lefty Top and others nodded. So I led them back home. I think that there were far too many police and vigilantes around, so it is not surprising that we met no beggars nor harlots. Brothers I am sure there must be easier areas to move in on?
* * *
From the Journal of Miss Cordelia Higginbottom of the Occult Verification Society
Leica and I were thrilled to be able to meet Doktor Sigismund our German enthusiast. Truth to tell he was of medium height and with a gingery moustache. He carried a thick hazel wand and a shoulder bag containing his equipment. His taciturn servant Manko was of stouter build and carried a cudgel. It was agreed that he carry the two Na K’uei bronze disks, as these can become very heavy after a while. When we entered St. Radegund’s Road it was not as cold as last time and there was no fog. However looking down the road, some of the further street lights were out. We could see lights in a shed to the left, one far away beyond Knowe Lane, the pawnshop and in the Queens Head Public House. I pointed out to Doktor Sigismund the pawnshop, as it was near where we had seen the apparition. However this night we were to turn left into Bogey Lane. As we did so a policeman was escorting a malefactor to the nearby Police Station. Leica commented to me that from his curses, the prisoner was a fellow Rumanian. This location was near where we had met the two ladies of the night last time and I am sure I now saw another one slinking past the other side of the road. At least when she passed the street lamp she had very red lipstick on. Further on we heard the clatter of running footsteps and saw a girl running along the other side of the lane. Mr Helping told her to stop and then chased after her when she screamed and kept running. He is of a nervous disposition and sometimes a little irrational. Leica and I ran partly to help him and partly to ensure he did not harm the girl. He seized hold of her and she screamed again! This brought two policemen to the scene. Leica and I calmed the girl down and she said that she was taking rent money to Mr Flint the Church Commissioner’s Agent. Looking rather fiercely at Mr Helping, the Police Sergeant said that he and the constable would escort the girl to Mr Flint’s flat in Grim Way.
This episode had delayed us somewhat but we now reached the Lily-White Laundry. We entered the dark front alley and knocked on the door. A Chinaman answered it and when in Chinese, I asked if we could see Mr Wun he revealed that that was his name. He also admitted that he knew the maid Watermelon. I told him that we wished to try and rescue the dancer Fan Flu and asked to see the cloth with symbols that the Matiken had left. He replied that Madam Hsing Song had the cloth and he durst not ask her for it. He said that she thought it was not genuine. She thought Fan Flu had run away with someone and had set a detective to trace her. I assured him that we believed that she had been stolen by the Matiken and had spells to ask Tang Zhou to bring her back. Leica said to remember that we must call for him in the open and Mr Wun shut the door and stood watching us. I then began to sweep a suitable area in the Laundry courtyard whilst Doktor Sigismund sounded his cleansing rattle. Then I called out ‘We Jaun Si Tang Zhou!’ and to my delight after a very long minute we heard a gong sound. From the sky it seemed to come, so we then stood and waited, and waited! “China is a long way away!” commented Leica. Then we heard heavy footsteps coming from the Street but from the other side materialised this mounted Chinese Warrior! Tang Zhou for it could be no other! I was near fainting from excitement but managed to hold up the mirror to show him his reflection. At this key moment the two policemen came into the alley but Professor Learning shushed them to keep quiet. To take control of him, I showed him his reflection in the mirror and said “Oi Ha Tang Zhou!” The spirit then seeming to regard me I quoted “Nan Ki Fom Fan Flu!” and threw the two strings of the ancient cash coins to him. These he caught and tucked into his armour. Then he inclined his head and disappeared!
We then waited and waited and I noticed that the Chinese Wun was the most shaken person present. The two policemen grew impatient and the Professor had a hard time keeping them quiet. He told them that we were trying to solve a problem by arcane means. They then were too proud to admit that they did not know what arcane meant! “He must have gone back to China!” Whispered Leica and it was fully twenty minutes before Tang Zhou reappeared. But the silk sheet we had laid out remained empty. Tang Zhou said, “Fan Flu yet lives! The Matiken do not have her! She lies sleeping in a wooden building!” and he disappeared. Of course I had to translate this to the others and then to the two policemen. “It is a pity he has told us so little!” snorted the Doktor but I explained to him that for only two strings of cash we had a bargain. We had then to explain to the police that the Chinese girl had disappeared from inside the Laundry. They said that although this had not been reported, they had heard a rumour about it. They said that they knew that Chinese men had been asking questions and upsetting local residents in the process! Mr Helping suggested that we inquire from the head of the Laundry if they had obtained any leads to help us. Wun said “Head of laundry Madam Hsing Song! Better I not here!” and he hid round the corner. The police Sergeant rapped on the door until Madam Song herself answered it. Just as she arrived, two blue Matiken demons walked up to attack us! Professor Learning and I both fired at them hitting both but then we were having to fight hand to hand! Leica and Doktor Nichtwissen were engaged by one wielding a sword whilst Mr Helping and I fought one with a knobbed club. Truth to tell I did little more than desperately fend him off with my little crossbow as the demon seemed very intent on clubbing me! Probably this was because he had my silver tipped quarrel sticking into his chest. This singularity of purpose was his undoing as Mr Helping managed to strike him a heavy blow with his mallet. The Matiken reeled and cried out in Chinese, “We go!” And the two of them hobbled away to disappear into the darkness. I think from their manner that they had not expected us to see them! I am almost sure that it was the power of the two Na K’uei bronze disks that made them visible. In the action I had not had time to be frightened but now I found myself shivering with shock. Doktor Nichtwissen exclaimed, “That was being gefarlich! Very dangerous I mean! Next time I bring mein Selbstladepistole!” he had been trying to beat of the Matiken with only his Gladstone bag! The police sergeant was muttering about our having taken part in an affray but he, being un-enlightened, had not been able to prevent the demons attacking us. He thought they were Chinese Tong men!
Madam Hsing Song was also shaken. Unnerved by seeing demons, which she had not believed existed! She readily answered the questions put to her by Mr Helping. However the men sent by her brother had found out nothing of any value, so both the police and ourselves put our heads together to try to think of any wooden buildings in the area. We soon established that there were none in the laundry. Then the Police Constable said that the Cricket Pavilion on the Plague Pits Cricket ground was of wooden construction, so we headed out towards it. Doktor Nichtwissen insisted on brushing out the Hexahedron he had drawn on the ground. The Police Sergeant then stepped in some very odorous dogs sick and having to clean his boots held us up in Bogey Lane. Ahead of us we saw a van escorted by some more police so I assume it must be of the type called a Black Maria. They stopped and questioned two ruffianly looking men but let them go to slink past us. At the corner by the Red Rose Public House I saw two women whom I think were ladies of the night, backing away from us. Then the Police Sergeant stumbled over the body of a woman lying against the fence. We clustered around and discovered she had been stunned by a blow to her head. Typically the police with the van had walked past without noticing her! I put my vinaigrette to her nose and she started to stir when there were some piercing screams from the Cricket Pavilion. The men all started to rush off but Leica grabbed the constable by the arm. “Lawman, it is your duty to find out who did this to this unfortunate woman!”
“But she’s just a... well she might have deserved it!”
“It is your duty to find out the facts and to ensure that she gets some treatment! There are plenty of other policemen ahead of us able to deal with those screams!”
“Very well ma-am. They will take her in at the Medical Mission in Mire Lane I think.”
The woman had now come round enough to say that two men had attacked her. She discovered that they had taken her purse and a ring from her finger. Not a wedding ring but a silver one with an agate stone in it. She had had nine-pence three farthings in her purse. One man had worn a top hat and the other a broad brimmed beaver one, was all that she remembered of their appearance. As the Constable said, this tallied with the two we had seen in Bogey Lane. He thought that the man in the top hat was called Pariah Jem. He would be suggesting that they be checked over to the Inspector. The woman first gave her name as Dolly Molly and was reluctant to give her address. But the Constable insisted so she gave it in the end and admitted that her real name was Dolicia Mountbank. She had a large bump above her left ear, which had bled a little and was still very poorly. Leica said she would ask the police to carry her in their Black Maria to the Medical Mission and went to join the throng we could hear milling around the Cricket Pavilion. Eventually she came back with the van and a doctor plus many gentlemen and police. With them and clearly terrified was Fan Flu. Handing over Dolicia to the doctor I introduced myself to Fan Flu in Chinese, telling her that I had seen her dance back in Hong Kong. It was good to see all the gentlemen’s jaws drop when they heard me speak. Fan Flu asked me what all these men were going to do with her! She thought they were taking her back to Madam Hsing Song but she did not trust them? I asked the men where they were taking her and the Police Inspector said it was to the Chinese Laundry. Mr Sherlock Holmes the detective agreed, saying that he would in person take her to Madam Hsing Song. Could I ask Fan Flu how she came to be in the Cricket Pavilion? Fan Flu said that she had been dancing one night when the music stopped. Men held a bad smelling cloth to her face and she slept! She woke up in the wooden building she knew not how long later in the daytime and found it was locked. Mr Ralph who she knew came that evening with more food and said that he had bought her from Madam Hsing Song. He told her he was going to put her in her own flat in a few days time so she could dance for him. She did not know what other names Mr Ralph had. No she certainly was not in love with Mr Ralph. She had been so sad to be leaving her friends at the Laundry. I said that I too would accompany her back to Madam Hsing Song. This I did as Dolicia had now been loaded into the van and we all went back to the Laundry. Fan Flu was astounded to find that it was such a short distance away. She had thought she must be many miles distant! In the courtyard Mr Helping found his mallet which he had left behind after the fracas.
Madam Hsing Song was very pleased when Fan Flu was returned to her. She thanked us and the Police Inspector for our efforts but Mr Holmes most of all. She would send him his fee in good course. Holmes then left to find his doctor friend who had gone with Dolicia to the Medical Mission. The Police Inspector retained me as an interpreter to ask Madam Hsing Song about the abduction. He convinced her that she should make and official complaint. He said that he had left two men in the Cricket Pavilion in order to catch ‘Mr Ralph’ but could not charge him if no complaint had been made! So we had to go over everything about the abduction again including what Fan Flu had told me. The Inspector kept asking about dates and times as if anyone ever bothers with such matters in the normal course of things. However eventually he finished and we could escape. We found that there was an alley leading to Whitechapel High Street at the back of the Laundry. Then it took us half an hour to get a hansome cab to take Leica and I home. I was so tired I felt asleep in it but Leica woke me and helped me off. Remembering the Inspector’s nagging about times I looked at the hall clock as I came in and it said ten minutes to five!
Madam Hsing Song sent me a note thanking me for my efforts accompanied by a very welcome box of bonbons. She said that if ever she had need of a sorceress again she would be contacting me! She told me that the Police had arrested a Mr Ralph Harker for the abduction and would be taking him to trial in due course. Funnily enough I met him some years ago in Hong Kong where I thought him very conceited.
I returned the Lacquered casket to Jasmine Te with a full account of how useful it had been. It was a great pity that the eminent Detective Holmes should have beaten us to finding the dancer. All the same to have successfully summoned Tang Zhou and obtained information from him was an enormous coup for our Society. Also the driving off of patent Matiken demons was a most notable feat. Alas the police would not corroborate these events. They thought Tang Zhou was made to appear and disappear as a conjurors trick and that the Matiken were really rival Tong thugs in fancy dress! They did say that they had found Dolicia’s silver ring in Pariah Jem’s possession. He would be charged with assaulting and robbing her.
From the Records of Dr Watson’s tales of Sherlock Holmes
Holmes and I went that night to the Chinese Opium Den and met Madam Song again. She ushered us into the opium den hall where we could again hear the wailing flute. There was much less smoke than last time and the seats were all empty. Only two of the bunks were occupied. Madam Song called out something in Chinese and the music ceased. She led us both up onto the centre of the stage. “This is where this cloth was found.” She handed Holmes a square of coarse woven raw silk, with two black Chinese symbols on it. “The cryptograms are those for ‘Cultural elevation’ and the Matiken, who are spiteful demons. Holmes examined it and sniffed it. “Madam I think I can say with certainty that your dancer is departed by human agency.” he said. “ These symbols are drawn with Indian Ink not Chinese! I must know more if I am to determine whether she was abducted or whether she perhaps went willingly. What is the full sequence of events?”
“On Tuesday I, with most of my people went to Chinatown to celebrate the New Year. Here I left a skeleton staff of two men, the flautist and the dancer to cater for our regular customers. When my foreman Wun with Fi and two women returned early next morning. the two men were found opium drugged in their beds. They said they had been celebrating the New Year. Although they denied it my brother suspects that they were bribed with high strength Opium. He has sent them back to China saying we cannot have bad discipline amongst our employees. The Flautist Fo-uh had also been drugged but not with opium. He claims that the Matiken seized him from behind whilst he was playing towards the end of the dance. The next thing he knew was Wun shaking him awake in the stage wings where he plays the next morning.” She gestured to the Flautist who was sitting there looking terrified. Holmes enquired of Madam “Can you ask him if Fan Flu ever spoke to any of the customers?” A sharp Chinese interchange followed.
“He says yes, but only when the performance was finished and only when he and more than one westerner was present. He said that Fan Flu liked to practise her English, which meant that he did not know what they were talking about.”
“Please can you ask him if there were any more attractive to Fan Flu than the others?”
The answer came back “ He said that many of the young students found her attractive but the only one who he noticed particularly was one who could speak some Chinese. He knew the names of none of them. The students are from Lord Knowe’s Finishing School for Gentlemen. When they do come they form a sizeable proportion of our clientele. There are none here tonight, as they have end of term activities before breaking up for your festival of Easter. Do you suppose a student has talked her into running away with him Mr Holmes.”
“I fear so Madam. Let me think. A student, to avoid unnecessary remark, would not wish to leave before the end of term. On the other hand he may well have wished to take advantage of the Chinese New Year. Thus he probably has her hidden away somewhere locally until end of term. The end of term being next Thursday I presume. Now where is he likely to hide her? By the by Madam, what would your attitude be should he be prepared to marry her?”
“My brother would take it as a great dishonour for her to marry a red haired barbarian! For myself, Fan Flu has eight years service due to us as an apprenticed dancer. Her loss would require a substantial sum in reparation!”
I said, “I say Holmes, the family of a Finishing School student is unlikely to sanction his marriage to, to a foreigner! They will think rather on similar lines to those of your brother Madam.”
Holmes replied, “Yes Watson, that is why I fear our culprit has a less honourable purpose.”
Madam Song then said, “The students most usually have their jollification’s at the Oak Beams Inn. In fact it only opens in the evening for their benefit. In the mornings and afternoons it gets its main trade from the workers in nearby businesses. It does occasionally take lodgers so she could be held there?”
I thought not, “Word of her being there would soon leak out don’t you think Holmes? Remember from our last visit here, we found two palliasses in the crypt of the ruined Church! How about that? And then again they said there was one in the gravediggers shed too!”
Madam Song then said, “My brother’s men have questioned the staff at The Queens Head, The Red Rose and the Cafe Rene and are sure she is not there. Their response was hostile to us but we are sure they were telling the truth.”
Holmes thought about this and then said, “We are assuming that she has gone with a student but perhaps there was someone else she may have met?”
Madam Song shook her head, “We have always been most careful to keep our female employees secluded from undesirable contacts. Our married ladies go out to do the shopping, whilst the single ones rarely leave the premises. Still I shall consult with Si-Li, an apprentice washer-maid I think you would call her. She was close to Fan Flu although of a lower caste.” She gave an order to Fo-uh who soon returned with a girl in a long beige suit.
Madam Song barked a series of questions to Si-Li who replied in scared monosyllables.
“She says Fan-Flu welcomed speech with the customers on order to improve her English. She said many of them greatly admired her. Si-Li tried to get her to admit she was fond of one in particular but she did not. She said it was hard to admire a people so ugly as the red haired devils were! Si-Li is sure that the Matiken have stolen Fan-Flu so that she can dance for them! She says that Fan-Flu was so sad to have to work that night when the rest of them went to celebrate the New Year.”
Then Holmes asked “Did Fan Flu take any other belongings and what was she wearing?”
“None of her other belongings were touched. She was wearing a yellow and black gown and carried two gilt fans.”
“Thank you Madam, that is probably all that I need to know and things look bad for your dancer. However if she is still in this area and I think she is, Watson and I will try to track her down.”
“Thank you honourable detective, may the heavens assist your wisdom in choosing the right course for this case!”
So we went out into Bogey Lane and met Earnest Steadyman and his two helpers as arranged. We had hardly started when we heard the thunder of hooves! A great carthorse nearly ran over us to the consternation of all. However it missed us and disappeared into the darkness. The streetlights mostly seemed to be out but Holmes led us into Plague Way. There we were met by a hail of catapult stones from some boys lurking over the hedge but they then ran away over the rugby ground. As we proceeded we could hear the rumble and clop of a wagon which had turned into High Wall Lane. Down there was some excited dog’s yapping. Holmes told us that we were going to test out my suggestion by searching the ruined church. He found the small gate unlocked but at that moment we heard two gunshots at the end of the Lane. From the light in Miss Gimlet’s house we could see a fracas taking place on the street below. “Forward men I think we may be needed there!” declared Mr Steadyman, so we all ran following him. There was a van there and behind it a gang of tough’s was attacking three policemen. Hearing our shouts the tough’s took to their heels. None other than Inspector Hastings, whom we had encountered here in October, led the police. He and his men followed up the toughs, most of whom clambered over the gate into the Claypit Warehouses yard. Three who were unable to surmount the high obstacle tried to resist arrest causing the Inspector to fire two more shots. This seemed to decide the affair so. Holmes said “Come, we have business of our own to attend to!” So he led us back to the small gate and into the graveyard. To the left we saw two figures running who stopped when they saw us and started edging away. They were a man and a woman so knowing this areas reputation, we ignored them, heading for the church.
The church door was open and Holmes’ lamp revealed it was empty and perhaps dustier than last time. We went down into the crypt where we had searched so fruitlessly for secret panels in October. As then there were two palliasses which Holmes declared had been laid on recently. Presumably not by the dancer. “Harlots nests! Commented Steadyman.
Holmes then said, “We will check the Gravedigger’s shed but I have been thinking of other options. It seems to me that if the abductor is a student as I suspected, he might well use the school’s Cricket Pavilion as a hiding place. It could be of easy access for him and would be little used at this time of year. Whilst their rugby teams could use it occasionally, a student would know when that was likely.”
So we did check the hut which again had an empty paliass before heading back out of the small gate. Back in High Wall Lane, Steadyman noticed a woman lying face down against the side of one of the warehouses. I soon discovered that she was drunk with gin and Steadyman sent his butler with sixpence to bring a harlot seen loitering at the far end of the Lane to ensure that she was cared for. We entered the gate into the Cricket Ground now harbouring rugby pitches and made for the pavilion. Its door was secured by a padlock, which Steadyman soon forced. We went in and Holmes discovered a woman asleep on the floor of the Umpires changing room. He shook her awake and asked “Are you Fan Flu Madam?” At which she screamed making him take a step backwards! She then saw us all peering down at her and screamed again. “Back away gentlemen if you please!” ordered Sherlock, “Time for a bit of your bedside manner Watson I think.”
So with the rest ushered outside I stood at the door and asked her again, “Are you Miss Fan Flu?”
“Yes.” She answered.
“Who brought you to this place?”
“Mr Ralph who?”
“I do not know if his name is Hoo also.”
“Did you come willingly with him?”
“I not understand?”
“Why did he bring you here?”
“He buy me from Madam Hsing Song. He say he going to put me in flat of my own.”
“Madam Hsing Song says he stole you. If you will get dressed we will take you back to her.” I then went out, shut the door and waited. What if she did not want to go back to Madam Song I wondered? Women can be very awkward when they want. Would she try climb out of the window but I thought it much too small even for her. Then I heard Inspector Hastings’ voice complaining because we had broken into the pavilion. Holmes responded by saying that we had tracked down the abducted Chinese girl to it. “Two wrongs do not make a right Mr Holmes! We have had no notification of a Chinese girl being stolen!”
Steadyman replied “I am afraid that is because the Chinese like so many others of our own citizens, have lost faith in the police to deter or solve crimes! It is that which led to our Citizen’s Concerns being set up!”
Then Fan Flu came out dressed in her yellow dancing gown and clutching a bundle of possessions. I told the Inspector we would take her back to the Chinese Laundry. I said she had been abducted by a man she knew as Mr Ralph, whom she thought had bought her from Madam Song. He said that he would come with us to investigate the matter. Then at that moment a woman came up to the Inspector.
“Sir your officer says you are in charge here?” Hastings nodded cautiously.
“We have an injured woman by the side of the road back there. I think it would be good if your van could take her to the medical mission?”
A police Sergeant there corroborated, “Dolly Molly Sir, one of the locals. She has been struck unconscious, nothing too serious I think.”
“And who are you Madam?” asked Hastings.
“I am The Honourable Miss Leica Badamaru Christian subject of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. I am here with the Occult Verification Society!”
Reluctantly impressed Hastings told the Sergeant to turn the van round so as to collect the wounded woman. I volunteered my services as a doctor to examine her. I also suggested Hastings obtain some raw steak for his own benefit. His whole left face was swollen and bruised, doubtless from his fight with the toughs. We all went to Dolly Molly who had a large swelling above her ear which had bled a little. She had been attended by another woman from the Society, who spoke Chinese to Fan Flu’s relief. So Holmes Hastings and the Occult Verification people walked with her to the Laundry whilst I accompanied Dolly Molly to the Medical Mission in Mire Lane. The nuns there readily took her in and said that their Doctor Mallard would examine her in the morning. I then repaired to the Laundry to find Holmes. On the way I passed Steadyman and his two associates who said that they would do another patrol circuit before calling it a night. Then Inspector Hastings was leaving the Laundry and Holmes was waiting in its courtyard.
“Another case solved Watson. The Inspector has left men to apprehend anyone calling on the Cricket Pavilion. Madam Song will send us our retainer in a day or two. She wants to keep the affair secret if she can. That is unlikely if the police catch someone but I have agreed that mention of our part be kept to a minimum if possible.” In fact she sent forty pounds, which was very good for one nights work. Mr Ralph Harker pleaded guilty to the crime claiming that he had been besotted by love of the dancer. He was given a three years sentence. A man was also jailed for assaulting and robbing Dolly Molly. According to Earnest Steadyman crime has now decreased in the St. Radegunds area and the ‘Stiff Sleeves’ have not been seen there since! The three caught were only charged with breach of the peace and fined. Holmes is determined to track down Professor Moriarty through them if he can.
I assemble my force in the Bogey lane Police Station at 2030hours. Two troublemakers who were in the cells earlier had been transferred to the Whitechapel High Street Station. Thus the decks were cleared for what I hoped would be a profitable operation. It had been reported that quite a large number of streetlights had been dowsed so there was work for Mr Ronson to do re-lighting them. First I led him with constables Wilkins, Bean and Riley out towards the Pawnshop. There were few people about until we spotted a drunken foreigner in Radegund Road. He was offensive so I ordered Bean to take him to cool off in the station. Near there we met Mrs Mabel Osprey carrying some clothes to pawn, so I sent Riley to accompany her into the Pawnshop. He made a quick search whilst he was there but could see no known stolen goods. Later he said that he suspected that some of large number of clothes Mrs Osprey handed in, may have been stolen but had no means of proving it. There have been several reports of clothes stolen from washing lines in the area. Mr Ronson proceeded to re-light the dowsed street lamps. From one’s light we spotted the body of a woman in blue lying against the graveyard wall! I sent Wilkins to investigate but she jumped up and clambered over into the Graveyard. Wilkins went up to follow her to be confronted by a brawny man. “Lay off my sister!” I heard him roar but when he realised that he had a policeman to deal with, he made off following the woman. “He has an axe Sir!” called out Wilkins but just then I saw a two horse van coming to the end of High Wall Lane. I told him to come back over the wall and went to stop the van. At that moment a drunk reeled up claiming ‘One of them tarts has stole my money!’ Not having time to spare on such a minor matter I told him to get over it. He reeled off making offensive remarks about the force. The van looked very like the one employed by the criminals last October and in fact I later found that it was the same one, sold on cheaply by its jail bird owners. The man driving it said that he was driving a gang of labourers to a pub sing along. I said I wanted a look in the back but when I opened the door a man the other side pushed it so hard it hit me on the nose which somewhat enraged me. With my pistol I ordered them all out too line them up against the wall. I was surprises at how many there were, nine including the driver. I noticed that they all had cudgels tucked up their sleeves so I called to Wilkins and Riley to come up to take their names and addresses. This was the signal for the toughs to charge us. I got off two hasty shots before we came to blows. I took a blow to the side of my head but soon we had floored two of their number. Then came shouts from our left from members of the Citizen’s Concerns vigilantes. Seeing these the toughs fled, most climbing over the gate to the Claypit Warehouse premises. The two who had been floored plus the driver could not manage the obstacle and tried to make a stand. However firing another two warning shots plus some truncheon work by the constables, brought them under control. A quick check in the van found only an unconscious mongrel. We then loaded the prisoners into the van and drove it back to the police station.
Whilst we were gone PC Legget had returned after an uneventful patrol. Typical of Three Monkeys Legget! See no evil, hear no evil and report no evil! Sergeant Warren took PC Chumliegh out intending to ask questions about the rumoured abduction from the Chinese Laundry. En route he met ‘Jolly Jack Palette’ whom we are sure is a pimp but obtaining hard evidence has always been a problem. Certainly some of the sorority were around that night. The Sergeant was then able to make the peace between some ‘toff cranks’ and a screaming little Nancy Smith. She was taking rent money to the Church Commissioners Agent in Grim Way. He and the constable escorted her to his flat and witnessed her handing the money over. She then went home via Whitechapel High Street whilst the Sergeant headed back to the Laundry. He and Constable Chumliegh went in the alley entrance to find the Toffs and a Chinaman up to some hocus-pocus! They hushed him to silence as what appeared to be a rider disappeared from sight before their very eyes! At least that is what the Sergeant said. The Toffs kept them back from looking too close for a long time before the rider re-appeared, said something in Chinese and disappeared again! Sergeant Warren wanted to check for wires to see how the trick was done when two Chinese dyed blue started fighting with some of the Toffs. The Toffs chased them off before he could stop the affray. In Sergeant Warren’s opinion the blue Chinese were probably Tong gangsters dressed up to frighten people. The Toffs then told him that from their hocus-pocus they believed the missing Chinese girl was in a wooden building. None of the Laundry buildings were of wood so PC Chumliegh suggested the Cricket pavilion which turned out to be correct. In Bogey lane they passed two characters, one of whom was Pariah Jem (Jeremiah Wilkinson) Round the corner Sergeant Warren discovered Dolly Molly (Dolicia Mountbank) unconscious by the side of the road. The women in the party made a fuss so that we had to take action. In fact from PC Chumliegh’s report we checked Pariah Jem in his house and found Dolly Molly’s ring on him. Of course he would not tell us who was with him but I have my suspicions.
Meanwhile having deposited the Stiff Sleeve toughs in the cells I took out another patrol with the van we had captured. We stopped and interrogated Pariah Jem and his unknown companion. They said that they were carrying cudgels for their own protection! They said that they needed to because of police incompetence using words less respectable words to do so. Further on we met Silly Sally, a local character who pushes round a pram with a doll in it at speed. There had been rumours that she was paid to transport stolen goods or even forged half crowns so we stopped her. A search of the pram revealed only a board with ‘If you wants to know the time ask a Peeler!’ painted on it! The constable rightly refused to tell her the time.
In Plague Way we must have missed Dolly Molly lying there, because the next thing we heard were some screams coming from the Cricket Pavilion. We rushed over to find Mr Holmes and Mr Steadyman had discovered the missing Chinese girl. So although the matter had not been reported officially, I decided that I must go into it in proper form. Then this Rumanian woman came asking to use the van to carry Dolly Molly to the Medical Mission, which I agreed to. I feared we might be involved in a diplomatic incident if I did not! Fortunately the other Toff woman could speak Chinese and questioned the girl for me. We ascertained that she had been abducted, probably by being chloroformed by a Mr Ralph who had been supplying her with food. I left two constables, Wilkins and Syme to lie in wait for this gentleman. They apprehended him around half an hour later. He was Mr Ralph Harker a student from Lord Knowe’s Finishing School and intended to make the Chinese Girl his Mistress. She said he was going to give her a flat somewhere. His family run a rich stockbroking business, which he was to have joined after Easter. Whether they will even admit his existence when he eventually comes out of jail we have yet to see!
Overall I think my operation that night was a success. We nailed two bad criminals. Even though the Stiff Sleeve toughs only got done for Breach of the Peace, they have not been seen in my patch since! In fact there has been a drop in crime in the St. Radegund’s area in particular. Needless to say those amateurs of Citizen’s Concerns claim the credit for their patrol work! I will not say anything about the publicity seeking Holmes. It is a public affront that people prefer to report crimes to such as he rather than the proper authorities!
* * *
Games Master’s Account
After an immense amount of preparation the first St. Radegund action turned out rather well. I thought that utilising the same scene would entail less effort and would hopefully provide another interesting couple of evenings. In fact recreating the scene was difficult and there were some minor alterations. Many of the figures and chance cards would also be the same and the players might like to continue with their original characters. Not all, as I planned for rather more brawling in the new scenario. As before at the start the players, if they might have an inkling of who the others were they had little idea of what objectives they had. The plot line was drawn from incidental background pieces covered in the first action. For two players it It is triggered by the sudden unexpected disappearance of Fan Flu the dancer at the Lily-white Laundry/Opium Den. Madam Hsing Song and others of her staff were away celebrating the Chinese New Year in Chinatown. Fan Flu with flautist and a skeleton staff ran the Opium Den. Next morning the Flautist and other staff were found to be in dazed states. Suspected from either chloroforming or taking opium? On the stage was left a natural silk square with the symbols for ‘cultural elevation’ and the Matiken spiteful demons. In Chinese mythology when the Matiken have taken a human he or she becomes Min Fa, an ‘uncertain soul’. Only Tang Zhou the eternal enemy of the Matiken can rescue a Min Fa. He can take he or she away from them, to go to heaven or hell or, subject to a payment of two strings of cash, return them alive.
The Chinese staff are terrified because of the calling of the demons. They think their enterprise is cursed. Having been educated at Cheltenham Lady’s College, Madam Hsing Song regards this as mere superstition and suspects foul play, probably from the rival Lou or Kerli Tongs. As duty bound she informs her brother Hsing Hi the head of the Tong in Great Britain. He says that were it one of the rival tongs they should have left their symbol to give notice. He believes it more likely that an English white slaving gang have kidnapped her. This maddens him with rage, as Fan Flu is a respectable Manchu Chinese, connected to the Hsing by her grandmother’s marriage. He gives the drugged henchmen to Tu, Free and the Flautist Fo-uh a very rough interrogation Tu and Free having taken opium he sends them on a slow boat to China to be sold into slavery. Fo-uh being more valuable and having been chloroformed, is merely is beaten on the soles of his feet until he cannot walk as a punishment. Hi forbids Madam Song from informing the police, not that she wanted to. Then he sends such off his henchmen who speak English, to ask questions around the public houses and shops, looking for likely suspects. They find out nothing in relation to the disappearance and worse, Dho one of them is mugged. He was found lying unconscious in St. Radegund Road and was carried to the nearby Medical Mission. There Dr Mallard sends Sister Charity to report the mugging to the Police. Constable Bean is sent to question him. He was still groggy and had a poor command of English. He claimed to have been robbed of his money, around four shillings and a bone-handled knife with its sheath. His home address was Cantonese Tea Godown, Warren Lane, Chinatown. When asked what he was doing he had just been ‘going for a walk’! Since he had not seen his attacker and there had been quite a few muggings, Bean did not enquire further. This area had always had such problems but recently much of the East End has become plagued by the ‘Stiff Sleeves’ gang. Stiff sleeves because of their habit of carrying cudgels concealed in them. Originally they coalesced around men resentful of the large influx of Polish Jews. Now it seems that they have become an organised criminal fraternity operating from the docklands. Then the Publican of the Red Rose reported to Police Sergeant Warren that two Chinese had been in harassing his staff. Apparently they asked the barmaid in a threatening manner what she knew about a Chinese girl being stolen! He wanted the police to protect his staff against evil foreigners! So many muggings had taken place near to the Red Rose that he had been threatened with having it closed down! PC Legget being present, then said that the Chinese had also been pestering the Edelbaum’s delicatessen and Mrs Elbow’s Corner Shop. Some of the residents of the Church Commissioners Tenements also complained of harassment by ‘slit eyed Orientals’ whom they suspected of being responsible for the muggings. The Sergeant having heard nothing of any Chinese girl being stolen, decided that he had better contact Inspector Hastings. He could then decide what to do if anything.
Inspector Hastings having read all the reports including those of several recent muggings in the area decides that he must take some action. Not least to forestall another letter of complaint to The Times by Miss Edna Gimlet. There has been an increase in muggings, which may or may not have been due to the Chinese presence. That one Chinese person has been mugged and that there is word of a Chinese girl being abducted, suggests that there may be conflict between rival tongs. The only known Chinese presence in the area is the Lily-White Laundry so perhaps a raid on it could produce results. A few sweeps round the area during the hours of darkness when the muggings usually occurred might be advisable?
In fact Fan Flu has been kidnapped by Ralph Harker, a soon the leave student at Lord Knowe’s Finishing School for Gentlemen. Ralph Harker is a scoin of the Harker Investment Broker’s Company. Eighteen years old he spent six years out in Hong Kong where his father was employed investing in oriental businesses. There he learnt to speak some Chinese and in fact met Cordelia Higginbottom who would recognise him. He has always received a very generous allowance from his father. On his return he spent some weeks in the London Office of the family firm. This was under his Uncle Wilberforce the company Managing Director. There he discovered that Wilberforce has gained enormous kudos amongst both employees and rivals by establishing an exotic French Mistress in a Mayfair flat. When with other students he goes to the Heavenly Cloud opium den, he is struck by the grace and beauty of Fan Flu. Speaking to her after the show a few times he becomes besotted with her. Whilst polite she treats him the same as all the other ugly red haired barbarians. However he knows of the traditional docility of Chinese women and decides that she would make him a fine exotic mistress from when he rejoins the firm after Easter. He realises that the Chinese New Year celebrations will give him an opportunity to abduct Fan Flu without too much opposition. He expects to forestall any search by taking advantage of the Matiken/ Tang Zhou myth. Since school rules state that any students going out must go in parties of three or more, he enlists the help of his two cronies Richard Read & George Yateman. They bribe the two dagger-men on duty with opium and chloroform first the Flautist Fo-Uh and then Fan Flu at the end of her performance. Then they carry her to the Cricket Pavilion. When she comes round, Harker tells her that he has bought her from Madam Song and that she must stay there until he can take her to her new ‘mansion’. He locks her in the Pavilion and supplies her with food and drink at night times. Whilst upset, she believes that she has been sold and thinks there is nothing she can do about it. She has no idea of where she is, certainly not that she is still so close to the Laundry. Madam Song engages Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery of her dancer’s disappearance. At the same time Jasmine Te an old Chinese friend of Cordelia Higginbottom tells her of the abduction believing it to be the work of the Matiken. She sends her a family heirloom, a casket with the means to call up Tang Zhou in order to rescue the dancer. Cordelia takes this to Ronald Helping Chairman of the Occult Verification Society who agrees that they should attempt to facilitate the rescue. This time I allowed some occult happenings to actually work!
Meanwhile oblivious to all this Osric Panham of the Hearts of Oak Society is going to make a move with his band of thugs to start taking over the St. Radegund’s area. This is on the advice of Professor Moriarty who is advising the organisation. They will bully all existing beggars, harlots and thieves into working for them in future. They will rob any other persons met this night unless they are harlot’s clients.
Earnest Steadyman of the vigilante Citizen’s Concerns has been in contact with Sherlock Holmes who is trying to find out what Moriarty is up to. They suspect that via the Stiff Sleeves Moriarty is trying to make East End of London Crime more organised. Holmes decided that it will be wise to obtain help from Steadyman in the lawless St. Radegunds area whilst investigating the abduction.
Thus the parties were all stronger than in the first Incident. Many of the original Chance Cards were still appropriate, a few were slightly altered and there were some additions. On the list I included Jack the Ripper for others interest but he was not included. If he was used a victim or two would be needed. The player with the Stiff Sleeves was very unlucky, being bested against the odds by poor dice throws on the first nights play. He was unable to play the second night so his party left. Had he played on no doubt we could have tested out the Coercion Rules. The other players all had reason to be satisfied with their operations.
Introduction and Umpire's guide
Occult Verification Society
Hearts of Oak Society
Random Event Cards
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