05 March 2012

CoC - Gaslight: A Monday evening at the club

My name is Richard George Thomas Lumley I am 25 years of age and the second son of Aldred Frederick George Beresford Lumley, the 10th Earl of Scarbrough. Usually I don't do many exciting things. Most of the time I am attending the few family and official duties I have. But this all changed on Monday, 10 November 1890.

After another quiet day in London I went to the Albert's club at 8 pm as usual. On my arrival two other members I haven't seen in a while were also just arriving there. One was Dr. Jasper Burnside a medical practitioner. He was wearing mourning. Maybe whoever had died was the reason for his long absence. The other was Thomas Roquefort an archeologist. As usual he was dressed a little to casual for my taste. But I guess, if one is professionally concerned with places which are rarely spotless clean, making sure one's clothes are clean is more important then having every button in place. From his dark taint I suspect he had been in the more sunnier regions of the empire for the last year. I don't know them both that well, but from what I know they are both renowned experts in their respective fields.

The clubs butler Higgins relived me of my coat an hat and I went into the fireplace room. Sir Thomas Kincaid, a well-respected archeologist, and Dr. Mortimer Laydon, the royal family's personal physician, were sitting in armchairs near the fireplace. They were engaged in what looked like a very serious conversation. Minding my own business I sat down in an armchair at one of the windows. Higgins brought me my pipe, a glass of cherry, and the latest issue of the Times. Dr. Burside and Mr. Roquefort engaged themselves in a game of chess and a light conversation.

I could not really get myself to concentrate on the reading of the Times, because of the little incident last month. Except for the people involved nobody knows about it, but I think I will leave England for a while. But I haven't even begun to think about whence I should go. So I asked Higgins to bring me one book each about Egypt and India from the library. The book about India was very comprehensive concerning the country, its inhabitants, and the culture. But its style was a little dull. So I switched to the other book. While doing this, I saw Higgins deliver a message to Sir Thomas and Dr. Laydon. They seemed to have a visitor. They followed Higgins to the entrance room and form there upstairs; I guess to one of the secluded rooms.

After a while - I was really taken in by reading the fascinating book about the valley if kings in Egypt - I heard a curious noise from a room above. It sounded like metal on metal or something similar. But that was all. At least for the moment. Shortly afterwards I heard again the same kind of noise. But this time it was followed by a noise that sounded like something heavy hitting the floor. Slightly annoyed and also a little bit concerned about what was happening up there, I stood up to check what was going on upstairs. Dr. Burside and Mr. Roquefort also stood up, but they must have heard something else, because they where starting to run upstairs. Therefore they were ahead of me when I reached the first floor. What I beheld there was the most horrible sight I had seen in my life so far. The door of the room where the noise must have come from was ajar an I just saw Higgins with something sticking from his chest falling backwards like a tree. A black clad and hooded figure was leaning over him. But being disturbed by the arrival of Dr. Burside and Mr. Roquefort he cursed (I didn't understand his language, but from the sound of it had to be a curse) and vanished back into the room. Mr. Roquefort drew his revolver and ran into the room while Dr. Burnside attended to Higgins injuries. I myself went into the room next door in search for a weapon. Then I heard two shots from the other room.

I grabbed an old sabre from one of the walls and went out through the window to cut this hooded figure of. But I wasn't fast enough. He was already out of the other window, and down on the roof of the shed inside the courtyard below. I saw him jumping down to the ground and leaving through the side-gate. In hindsight I don't know why, but I jumped down on the shed's roof to follow him. Unfortunately, I missed the spot I was aiming for by a few inches. So, I stumbled on landing and went right over the edge. Fortunately I was able to grab hold of the edge. For a moment I was contemplating my situation and the stupidity of my actions. Going after a villain with an old weapon which I cannot wield in any efficient way. How wise is that?

Reaching the decision to let me fall the last two or three yards to the ground I was grabbed by my wrists from above. It was Mr. Roquefort who must have followed me. With his help I reached the ground safely and sprinted to the side-gate to look for the villain. But in the dense London fog I was unable to see, where he had gone. Mr. Roquefort, who had followed me, had no better luck. So we went back into the courtyard to look for a way back into the club. The only way would have been through the shed, were it not locked with a sturdy pad-lock. We went around the building to the main entrance. We were met there by a few constables of the police force. We were all requested to go into the fireplace room and stay there. Realizing the spoiled nature of my suit, I refused to comply. I let one of the constables deliver a message to my manservant Craig, requesting a clean suit. I waited in one of the secluded rooms for his arrival. An hour later he arrived and I a short while later I was dressed properly again.

I thanked Craig for his quick response at this late hour - it was way past 11 pm - and went at last into the fireplace room, where all the other people were already gathered. Dr. Burnside wasn't in the room, so I sat down with Mr. Roquefort to find out what else had happened upstairs.

The first sad news was that Higgins was dead. The club will never be the same again without him. He was stabbed to the heart with a curious looking dagger. It had a bronze haft with an ibis head as its pommel and a silver blade. On entering the room Mr. Roquefort had seen two hooded figures. One was leaving through the window, the other had shot at him, but had missed. He had returned the favour and had hit his target. The injury must have been minor, because this was the man I had seen moments later jumping down onto the shed. Also in the room they had found Dr. Laydon. He was lying on the floor, unconscious but not seriously injured. Sir Thomas was missing. On the table he and Dr. Burnside had found a small papyrus with a drawing of an ibis. Mr. Roquefort explained the significance of this symbol to me, but I have to admit it was a little bit to elaborate for me at this late hour and after this shocking events. The only thing I could memorize at the time was, that it was the depiction of the Egyptian god Thot, who is associated with wisdom an science.

After waiting for what felt like hours a sleazy looking man who introduced himself as inspector Fox of Scotland Yard began to take our evidence of the events of this evening. Afterwards he had the nerve to ask me to come to a gathering the next morning  at 9 am at New Scotland Yard on Whitehall Place. Dr. Burside and Mr. Roquefort were also invited. They seemed rather eager to attend. Which was perfectly understandable. Mr. Roquefort being an expert in Egyptian history and Dr. Burside making sure that his colleague - and for the moment patient - Dr. Laydon wouldn't over-strain himself. But I? I had no idea, what my contribution to this matter could be. But in the end being an upright citizen and gentleman, I had no choice but to comply and to find out the next morning.

So I went home in a cab not knowing what lay ahead of me.

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