The BlueKilns Wharf incident
Player B, The Occult Verification Society
Extracted from the Journal of Miss Cordelia Higginbottom
After our wonderful success at Chapel Lane we had a long series of disappointments. Both Leica and I caught bad chills from waiting five hours for a ghost that never came! With Mr Helping we exposed two mediums as fakers and we know that he has done the same to two others. The one time plentiful Medium advertisements have all but disappeared from the London periodicals! Herr Doktor Nichtwissen has gone to Edinburgh where there are many ghosts. He was saying that in London there are too many cheats and I fear that there may be some truth in that. I begin to believe that Verity Eegre may be one of them. After her silly action at Chapel Lane, Mr Helping has refused to let her attend any of our planning meetings, not that she had ever come before. However Leica and I with some others occasionally have afternoon tea with her. One day with just the three of us present she was very excited. “Please do not breathe a word but the cards have told me that Mrs Tenfold will be murdered the day after tomorrow!”
“Who is Mrs Tenfold?” asked Leica.
“That lady from Onslow Terrace in the brown gown whose gloves never match her half boots! Amaryllis Phyllis are her Christian names. Her husband is a lawyer of some sort.”
“Yes, they have two young daughters whose nanny takes them to the park when it is fine.” I added.
“Who do you think will murder her?” asked Leica.
“Oh I do not know that! The cards do not tell one names!”
“So how do you know that it will be Mrs Tenfold that will be murdered?”
“Oh well, it was her fortune I was telling so it must be her. However if you must nit pick it is true that futures that the cards reveal can be averted by prudent actions, so Mrs Tenfold may avoid her fate.”
“So you told how to do this then?” suggested Leica.
“Oh no, of course I did not warn her! There are laws against foretelling someone’s death, so I made up the usual stuff about meeting someone dark and handsome.”
“So you are not going to do anything to prevent her being murdered?” gasped Leica.
“Well it is not as though I really know her, she is just an acquaintance. It would be interfering with the laws of Fate! That is not what we Cartomancers are supposed to do!”
So I said that she need not read my fortune, as there was no point if she was going to hold things back. It would not be worth the money!
“How much did you charge her?” asked Leica.
“It is against our code to tell on financial dealings with other customers but she had crossed my palm with silver!”
Later Leica and I debated as to whether we should warn Mrs Tenfold or not without coming to any firm agreement. Then it poured with rain all the next day and the day after that was the Spring Fete in which we were heavily involved. I studied the newspapers and kept my ears open afterwards but heard nothing of any murder in Onslow Terrace. On the Tuesday I joined two friends visiting the old Misses Granton for afternoon tea. They lived in Onslow Terrace and so after the usual wordy preliminaries, I asked them if they saw Mrs Tenfold about much? “Every day!” replied Miss Drusilla “In fact she left her house not ten minutes before you arrived here. She lives in that house with the sepia coloured door.” So she was still alive despite Verity’s prediction! However my question set the others to talking about Amaryllis Phyllis Tenfold and her attitudes and suspected misdeeds. Then Miss Drusilla said that on the day of the fete Mrs Tenfold had gone out with her children and their nurse. At half past three she had returned only accompanied by Doctor Macpherson. He did not come out again until one hour and eight minutes later! That was just after the children and their nurse had returned. Oooh! That made us gasp. for as Georgina Cavil said, the tall dark Doctor Macpherson has a reputation as a lady-killer. She said that her brother refused to let her see him, so she was still stuck with old Doctor Stoneway because of this. Harriet Notion said that it was rumoured that Macpherson had had an affair with Mrs Chiltern and another lady whose name she could not remember! Later I told all this to Leica and said that though Macpherson had not murdered Mrs Tenfold he had certainly damaged her reputation! Leica was somewhat impressed and soon after allowed Verity Eegre to tell her fortune with her Tarot Cards. She crossed her palm with a silver sixpence, double what Mrs Tenfold had paid! Anyway Verity told her that she saw danger ahead of her, that she would go on a quest to find a foreign gentleman across some water and that is all she would tell her!
‘Doktor Nichtwissen in Edinburgh?’ I joked. ‘I am sure you miss his masterful charm!’
‘Charm! I am remembering that the Saxons have looked down their noses at us in Rumania for four hundred years! He is useful yes but charm? No! Verity is just guessing that we will have some occult matter to investigate and always there is some danger. We may well encounter other demons like those Matiken or far worse.’
‘Yes but looking to find a foreign gentleman over water was quite specific!’
‘Cordelia, one can hardly walk a mile without crossing some water and as for a foreign gentleman, I am a Rumanian! There are few gentlemen in London who are not foreigners to me!’ Which was true enough when I thought about it!
However two days later I received a letter from my Chinese friend from Hong Kong days, Jasmine Te.
Respected honourable friendly lady,
I wonder if I could entreat for the assistance of you and your powerful friends once more. I am still full of admiration for your brave efforts in the Fan Flu affair. Alas now the Chinese Community has suffered an even more grievous blow. Hsing Shrill, the head of the Insurance and Security concern protecting my father’s business in London, has been kidnapped. Large sums are being demanded just to keep him alive! As a result the premiums to be paid have doubled in amount. This is so large an increase that my father is paying some of it from his own money. He fears that otherwise the Imperial Tea Company bosses back in Hong Kong, will suspect that he is trying to defraud them! They then would decide to replace him, which would be a grave dishonour for our family. We would have to go back to China in disgrace! My maid Watermelon tells me that Madam Hsing Song was going to employ Mr Sherlock Holmes but he is in India at present. She and her nephew Hsing Lo do not trust the police. Watermelon says that her boyfriend Wun was very impressed by the magic you did at the Laundry. He has a pair of Hsing Shrill’s slippers to assist you find him and he is very willing to help rescue him. Prithee valorous lady could you prevail on your friends to find and rescue this Hsing Shrill? I am sure that my father will pay a fair sum to recompense any expenses incurred by your friends.
Your indefatigably admiring friend Te Jasmine
“Well it seems as though Verity was right about seeking out a foreign gentleman!” exclaimed Leica. “We will have to see if Ronald Helping will allow us to get involved.”
I agreed saying that he must know of some psychic ‘person finders’ for want of a better word. At our next OVS meeting Mr Helping was a bit reluctant to get involved in what should really be a police matter according to him. However Professor Learning said that he knew of a noted person finder, a gypsy Madame Zitzl, who had on occasion been used by the police. Though her help was purely unofficial. He thought it the duty of our Society to test out her person finding abilities, now that they had the opportunity. Ronald Helping said that it still seemed a dangerous undertaking. What could we do if the kidnappers were armed and violent men? Leica agreed and suggested that we invite Doctor Watson to help us even if Mr Holmes was truly away. Then Ronald said that Doktor Nichtwissen should be with us in a couple of days and if he and his servant Manko were willing he would agree to our involvement.
So we waited until the Herr Doktor arrived. In the meanwhile I had told Jasmine Te of our intentions and Wun had given me Hsing Shrill’s slippers. I gave these to Professor Learning for Madame Zitzl. Doktor Nichtwissen arrived at our next meeting. He said that he and Manko would come and help if Doctor Watson would support us. So Leica and I agreed to visit him. Professor Learning then reported that he had tried to enlist Madame Zitzl but she had disappeared from her lodgings. Her landlady was a little worried because she had been gone a week without word of her intentions. She had been known to go away for sometimes weeks on end in person searching missions but normally gave notice. However the Professor produced a wooden box with mystic symbols carved into it. “This is Culpepper’s Soul Seeker. Culpepper was a Psychic who died in 1816. In it are the missing person's slippers and this pointer which I slot into this hole on the top. One waits for absolute silence, chants ‘Tajsin Phern I seek Hsing Shrill’s soul’ and spin the pointer. It should come to rest pointing towards the lost person. I have been trying it out assuming that he will be in China Town. However despite considerable problems during the experiment because too many people cannot mind their own business! It indicated that he is somewhere in the Bluekiln Wharf area, to the east of China Town. If we go to that somewhat sordid area I should be able to pinpoint him more accurately. Just to warn you, the device gives no indication of whether the soul is deceased or not!
Then Ronald Helping summed up, “Then if we can obtain support from Doctor Watson Doktor Nichtwissen and Manko will accompany all of us to this insalubrious locality?”
“That iss zo!” agreed the Herr Doktor.
“Mr Wun will also accompany us!” I said, “He will be calling on Leica and I tomorrow afternoon to find out what we can do.”
“Then we ask you two ladies to seek Doctor Watson’s assistance?”
“Most certainly!” snapped Leica who thought Ronald was looking for excuses to do nothing. I think that Mr Helping suspected this so he said,
“And mind you two do not tell anyone else about this mission! Especially that Miss Eegre!”
So the following morning Leica and I went to 221b Baker Street. Mrs Hudson let us to see Dr Watson but confirmed at first that Holmes was in India. Leica rather tactlessly said that he would have to do in stead! I told him that we had been very impressed by his and Holmes actions in the St. Radegund’s and Bidulph Road incidents and could he at least hear of our problem. To this he agreed so Leica told him “Our Society has received a plea to rescue a Chinese man called Hsing Shrill from his kidnappers. Our resources indicate that he is secreted somewhere in the Bluekiln Wharf area. That is east of Chinatown in Limehouse. Though as you may know we are not helpless, we feel that taking on armed kidnappers is not really our sphere of expertise. Hence we are now asking for your assistance?”
He asked if the police had been contacted and we admitted they had not. The Chinese were reluctant to involve them and after the way we were treated in Bidulph Road so were we!
Whereupon Dr Watson admitted that Holmes was still in London and that Madam Hsing Song was hiring him to rescue Hsing Shrill. Since we had located him he invited us to join Holmes and him at seven o’clock at the Cafe Orleans in Oxford Street. I immediately went to collect Mr Wun whilst Leica informed Mr Helping who collected Professor Learning.
I am afraid that when we arrived a very little late at the cafe, Mr Holmes and his friends were not to pleased to see five of us! Apart from Doctor Watson he had with him Inspector Hastings whom we had met and also a snotty young man full of his own importance. Apparently he was a Customs Officer and had a warrant to search all ships. After Ronald had introduced us, Dr Watson told them that we thought Hsing Shrill was in the Bluekiln Wharf area. The customs man said that that is what they had already discovered. The Inspector said that it was a dangerous lawless area, a haunt of the Stiff Sleeve thugs. Watson said that even so an attempt to make a rescue must be made. The Customs man then said “I do not think there is any place for the ladies in this plan. They can only be a handicap in what may be a violent proceeding!”
Which made Leica angry and me too a little bit. “When I first dared to visit lawless London, I prepared to protect myself!” she declared and she pulled out her antique honour dagger. The customs man sneered “Here Madam, be careful with that, you might cut yourself!”
Leica then sliced off the top of a lit candle without knocking over the candelabra and blowing it out, threw it to the customs man! She later told me she did it to prove that she knew how to use the dagger and that it was as sharp as a razor! According to her, apart from three suicides, it had killed three men, one women and many dogs and wolves! Since it is three hundred years old some of that may be true but Leica does exaggerate sometimes. What it did prove is that there is not much of the gentle in the Rumanian gentlewoman Leica! In fairness I must admit that at that moment I wished I had not left my little crossbow behind.
Anyway Wun then showed off his own dagger and said on my behalf, “Missie Higginbottom, she speak good Chinese. Maybe we go through Chinatown!”
Mr Holmes said “I have scouted out the land and the way into Bluekiln Wharf is down Mary Road. Then through the main gate which is in daytime normally controlled by a porter. The Wharf wall is topped with broken glass. There are three vessels moored along the wharf, the screw steamers Iron Duke and Maid of Orleans and a sailing barge. The Iron Duke had smoke showing and I think that should be our first objective?”
The customs man said “There is always one or the other with steam up. If we go at night we should climb over the gate and rush it!” Then he sneered “I am afraid you ladies will not manage that!”
Wun then told me in Chinese that there was a locked gate the workers used to get to the kiln works on the Wharf. He knew who had a key as sometimes they brought goods from the ships that way. He said that if we went in that way quietly from Chinatown, we could cast our spells to find Hsing Shrill.
I translated this and despite the Customs man’s objections Holmes agreed that our party should proceed that way, whilst he and his three would climb over the main gate. Our job according to him, would be to stop anyone escaping from the other ships. The time for the rescue attempt was for eleven o’clock that very night! So we rushed away to make preparations and for Ronald to contact Doktor Nichtwissen. Leica suggested we start half an hour early so as to beat the Custom’s officer’s party to the prize but Mr Helping refused. We must do as we have agreed to do. “It would be very embarrassing if we had to be rescued by them!” which is true. I dressed warmly and replaced my silver tipped quarrels with plain steel ones. We expected our foes to be more of a mundane type that night.
In the evening we all assembled at the entrance to Chinatown and Wun led us to the end of Narrow Street.
It is dark & windless with overcast skies, sighting visibility is down to ten inches with recognition at five. This increases to sixteen and recognition at eight inches near the lit gas street lamps. The poverty stricken inhabitants of this area will lurk in their habitations earnestly ignoring all shouts, shots and screams!
To conceal identities & strengths in the dark, players will move flags until meeting.
In this game the Umpire draws the chance cards each move and plays them as instructed or to suit the game if alternative applications are possible.
Start time, Dice AvD x4 minutes after 2256hrs
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.
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
Director box with Hsing Shrill’s slippers in them.
Class VI, PI Respectable, Charm M0, F 0, Coercion -1 MC £2 – 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
MC £2 – 2s – 6p Speaks Romanian Speaks French (P)
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 steel tipped darts
MC £1 – 7s – 5p Speaks Chinese French (P)
Herr Doktor Sigismund Nichtwissen Activist, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/5 Ag +1, Th 0, Me +2 Deringer 2 bullets 3” 4+ st 0, 6” 5+, st –1, 11” 6+ st –2
Class VI, PI Respectable, Charm M-1, F 1, Coercion 0 MC £3 – 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, Has
PI Respectable Speaks German, English (P)
Wun WA, Mo 6”, Fa 2/3/3, Ag +1, Th 0, Me +1, dagger Pst –1, Charm –2, Coercion +2
Class III, Dubious Speaks Chinese, English (P)
Ships and Scenery
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