Chapter 1: New Friends and Partners
Each chapter begins and ends with a diary entry from Adelaide Stratton's private journal, however the stories will be told from various points of view.
Dialog from the episode The Maggie's Redress written by David Hoselton and David Titcher
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
I'm not sure I will ever show this journal to anyone other than myself, however some sort of record should be made of the amazing two men I've had the pleasure, and frustration, of working with during my time as a police constable for the Metropolitan Police Force. Neither of them would be particularly flattered by this record. Doctor Doyle would be embarrassed and flustered by such a document, Mr. Houdini would simply laugh. Regardless, I make the record anyway, if only for my own pleasure in my old age.
Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle and Mr. Harry Houdini, two of the most recognized names in the world. Most people only know them as the father of Sherlock Holmes and the greatest escape artist of our time; I'm proud call both of them friend, even though we had a rather rough beginning.
One of the most important things to know about these men is that both of them are exceptional at hiding their true selves. The press and the world see what they are are supposed to see: a respected doctor and author in the one and an ostentatious, American showman in the other. As I get to know them, I realize how much more there is to know about each of them.
Looking at these two men together, you wonder how they could ever be friends. They are separated by religion, nationality, personality, not to mention age, with the Doctor fifteen years the senior. And yet, in spite of all of that they are very close friends indeed. The only area where they strongly disagree is with regard to the supernatural.
You would expect the author of Sherlock Holmes to be the skeptic while the magician favors the supernatural. Again, though, you would be deceived. Doctor Doyle is a fervent believer while Houdini's a vicious critic of all the so-called charlatans.
They challenge each other, force the other to think and defend his position. Even with, or perhaps it's because of all the differences, they … we … make a formidable team solving cases with Scotland Yard.
The silence inside the tank was almost peaceful; he'd spent so much of his life in and under water it was almost a comfort. As Harry set to work on the various locks, he found himself enjoying the moment just a little. This was when he felt the most alive. His hands were mostly freed before the drape for the tank was all the way down, his feet though, were a problem this time. He was able to free one foot easily enough, but as he hung upside down, he struggled with one of the locks as he realized he couldn't free his other foot. Florrie had overtightened one of the locks and he wondered briefly if he would have to break his ankle … again … to get free. Finally, the lock came loose just as his internal timer said he was nearing the four minute mark and he climbed out of the tank to stand triumphant when the drape rose again.
He stood on top of the tank and revelled in the thunderous applause as the full theater reacted to seeing him alive and well, this escape a closer shave than any of them realized. Harry held on as a rope lowered him back down to the stage and he noticed Florrie looking a little scared. He smiled and waved at the crowd until the stage curtain came down, then took his assistant aside. Florrie tried to tell him she was sorry about the foot locks, but Harry was distracted from her apology by the newspaper the stagehand was busy reading.
Ghost Killer Stalks Convent. Houdini read the headline and couldn't believe it. Of all the irresponsible … who allowed them to print that? Harry wanted to know. And he knew just who to ask.
"Prove? Ten-thousand American dollars say you can't prove anything," Harry challenged, holding up the money.
Doyle stared at him, and Harry refused to break the eye-contact; he did grin confidently as he watched Doyle's face.
"I'll accept your bet, but for my end I'll put up a first edition of my new book, The Great Boer War," Doyle replied.
Harry noticed Merring flinch at the book title but let the moment go as he realized the chief was not impressed with their wager. Merring sat behind his desk frowning at the two interlopers in his office and attempted to toss them both out. Harry had other ideas, if Doyle was set on proving spirits existed, he was just as determined to prove they didn't.
Houdini wasn't intimidated by the chief's glower and he noticed Doyle wasn't cowed, either. He offered, instead, to go over Merring to the head of Scotland Yard. He wanted to prove ghosts were just figments of the imagination, wishful thinking. If the Metropolitan Police was going to be so foolhardy as to allow the press to publish such nonsense as the headline he read at the theater, then he would use that same police force to prove all of them wrong.
Before he could say anything, Doyle jumped in with his own reason for investigating: to show once and for all that spirits were all around, watching us, helping us, waiting to communicate if we would only give them the means.
Harry immediately jumped into the argument and presented his own point of view to Doyle, countering everything the other man had said. He'd forgotten Merring was even there until the chief offered a solution, they could look into the murder, but one his officers would work with them during their investigation.
Harry was gazing out the window when Sergeant Gudgett returned along with a woman, Harry assumed was there to ask about refreshments. He was surprised when the woman was introduced as Constable Stratton. Harry watched as said Constable Stratton accepted the assignment to work on the case and was impressed by her ability to stand in a room with her superior officer, a best-selling author, not to mention himself and not show any signs of intimidation. Her handshake with Doyle was firm and she even made a cheeky retort to his, Harry's, comments. Oh, this could work out well, he thought as he followed Doyle out of the Chief Inspector's office.
"You really think there is a ghost involved in this?" Houdini asked Doyle as the three of them walked down the steps of the Metropolitan Police. Harry shoved his hands in his trouser pockets as he waited for Doyle to respond.
Doyle blew out a long-suffering sigh and retorted, "I don't need to think it, Harry, Scotland Yard has a witness who saw the ghost. Did you read Sergeant Gudgett's report?"
"Come on," Harry replied in disbelief. He turned to Adelaide with a cheeky grin. "Back me up, Constable, there are no such things as ghost killers. Explain to Mr. Doyle here the reality of murder so I can win my bet."
"That's Doctor, by the way," Doyle interjected.
"Sorry," Harry said sarcastically, "Explain to Doctor Doyle about how murder really works. It's people killing other people!" Harry exclaimed, shooting his hands out of his pockets and into the air.
"Hang on," Adelaide said. She stopped walking forcing the two men to backtrack to her. "What bet?" she asked crossing her arms and glaring back and forth.
"Oh," Houdini said with a smile. "It's simple really. All we have to do is disprove this silly ghost idea and Doyle here is giving me a first edition copy of his latest book. I need it for a doorstop," he stage whispered the last part in her ear while looking at Doyle, eyes twinkling with mischief.
Doyle simply rolled his eyes at the remark and stated, "No, when we prove there is a ghost, Mister Houdini will be making a ten thousand dollar payment to my bank account"
"Listen to the pair of you," she exclaimed. "Now I see why I'm supposed to play nursemaid, you're a couple of children!" As Harry stood open-mouthed at the tirade from the constable, Adelaide walked away.
"It's just a bet," Harry tried to explain to her retreating back.
"No, it's my job," Adelaide pointed out and led them into the subway.
Harry listened as Doyle asked about keys and other details and was only slightly surprised when Doyle closed the door to the Sister's office in his face and the turned the lock. Really, Doyle? Harry thought as he quickly picked the lock.
He walked back in the room and showed the paper clip he'd used to open the door, even more proof he pointed out that a living person could easily do the same. For every argument Doyle made to prove the existence of Lucy Allthorpe's ghost, Harry had a counter argument showing an everyday human committed the murder.
Harry sat at the desk and went through the drawers as he continued to bicker with Doyle. He stopped when he found a ledger detailing the amount of money brought in by the laundry. And yet those girls downstairs are penniless and destined to stay that way, Harry was less impressed by the minute of the so-called charity of the Laundry. He'd escaped from prisons with better conditions.
Sister Mathilda appeared at the door with the novice, Winnie, and Harry watched as the Sister refused to let the novice speak about Lucy Allthorpe, much less let the girl tell them what she saw the night of the murder. Harry knew they would never get any straight answers from the scared girl and sent the Sister away on a pretext.
Winnie told her story of making rounds and finding Sister Fabian dead in her chair, her throat cut and her hair hacked off. She then explained how she saw Lucy Allthorpe's ghost disappear through a solid wall moments after she found the Sister's body. Winnie was convinced Lucy's ghost had committed murder, and worse Doyle seemed almost eager to believe along with her.
What is he looking for, Harry wondered. This is more than just a scientific pursuit; this is a quest, a need to know something more is possible. He had seen that sort of need before, on the faces of people he had swindled when he was younger. If only you knew the truth, Doc.
Harry couldn't stand it any longer and finally interrupted with what he felt was a better reason for the murder, theft of the laundry money, and asked the novice where the money was kept.
"You're suggesting this was a robbery." Doyle stated.
"I don't believe anything without evidence," Harry clarified as Winnie set a small cash box on the desk.
It was as easy to pick the lock on the box as it had been to pick the door lock and Harry looked in the box and lifted out the insert. Tipping the empty box up for Doyle and Adelaide to see, he announced, "Now I'm suggesting this was a robbery."
"This is a compelling argument for his side, Doctor Doyle," Adelaide said as she examined the empty box.
Doyle said nothing, but accepted the box when Adelaide passed it over to him.
"Robbery, my dear Constable." He nodded to Adelaide. "My dear Doctor," Harry said to Doyle with a grin. "A very human motive to kill someone. So, I believe I've made my point and you owe me a copy of your book."
Doyle grimaced and returned the box to the desk.
Harry tucked the paper clip in a pocket of his waistcoat and walked toward the door.
"Where are you going?" Adelaide asked and Harry turned and walked back to her.
"It seems to me we're pretty much done here and I have to get things ready for a show at the theater," Harry explained as he took her hand. "It's been a pleasure, Constable," he said, shaking her hand. "Let me know if you ever need my help again with any locks."
Harry nodded in Doyle's direction and left.
Adelaide sighed and walked out of the nunnery with Doyle in tow. If she were honest, it had been interesting to work with both Houdini and Doctor Doyle. She never would have expected the level of passion from either of them, nor the way each could look at evidence and deduce plausible causes. They would make excellent police investigators, Adelaide mused to herself and smiled. If they weren't busy with theater shows and writing best-selling books.
From her point of view, the worst part was she would be sent back in the basement. True she hadn't given Merring any reason to doubt her abilities, but she hadn't really shown what she could do with an investigation either.
She watched as Doctor Doyle headed for a corner and hailed a cab. What did he mean about not being quite done with the case, she wondered as she walked back to the station. They had no leads on who could have stolen the money or who would kill to do it.
Thankfully, there was no one upstairs in the station to ask her about the case and Adelaide took that as a good sign as she went down to the basement. Instead of filling out reports, however, she sat before the typewriter and stared into space. One of the few niceties of working alone, no one was around to yell at her for daydreaming.
One afternoon, she thought to herself. One afternoon to prove herself to Merring and she was done, back downstairs, back to filing and typing and no real police work. Houdini had good evidence for a robbery, which meant no ghost. No ghost meant Houdini at least was no longer interested in the case; would Merring allow Doyle to continue once he found out the truth?
She returned to the typewriter with sad grace. Maybe there is still a way to show the Chief what I can really do. As Doctor Doyle said, we do still need to find a thief who is presumably also a murderer. To that end, she sent a bobby to the nunnery for records of the girls working in the laundry and anyone else who might have a reason to murder Sister Fabian.
It was late when she finished the last of the reports and entered Merrings office to drop them off. As she closed the door after leaving the papers on the chief's desk, she turned to find Doctor Doyle walking toward her.
"I have a lead on our robber," he told her quietly and led her to a corner of the room. "I have a, a source who thinks we will find our man in Whitechapel, bragging about his ill-gotten gains."
While pleased with the idea of a fresh lead, Adelaide was still a police officer and needed more information. "Where did you find this out? Did you go back and talk to Winnie or one of the laundry girls?"
"Not exactly," Doyle said looking away from her. "I've been working with a medium to find out something, else, something unrelated to this case."
"I see," Adelaide said hesitantly. "And you believe this person?"
"There's one way to find out, Constable. She told me to look for a sooty man talking to a rabbit."
Adelaide could feel her confidence waning as she watched the crowd. Any number of the men looked fairly dirty and Whitechapel wasn't the most honest district in London. This was a mistake, she told herself. Why did I agree to come here with him? What will Chief Merring say when he finds out the lead we were following came from a medium?
Just as she was about to suggest they try another pub, a man walked in that looked to be their suspect.
Adelaide admitted to herself she never actually expected this lead to bear fruit and she wasn't sure what to do now that it apparently had led them to the thief just as Doyle's medium said.
Doyle however had a rather direct way of finding out. He went up to the sooty man asked asked him if his friends knew he was a thief. As the man turned to run, Adelaide used her cosh and hit him behind the ear. She wasn't sure who was more surprised, the patrons in the pub of Doctor Doyle.
Adelaide opened her bag and found her whistle. She left Doyle to watch the suspect and went outside to alert any bobbies in the neighborhood. When she came back in with a rather young patrolman, Doyle was kneeling next to the man on the floor, checking him over and the room was distinctly emptier than when she'd left a few minutes before.
"Take him to Sergeant Gudgett," Adelaide directed the bobby as he and Doyle got the sooty man to his feet. "Let him know this man is a suspect in a robbery at the Magdalene Laundry."
The bobby took his man in a strong hold and led him out of the pub. Doyle brushed off the knees of his trousers and said, "I think we need to let Houdini know about this, don't you?"
Adelaide could see the doctor was looking rather pleased with himself and wondered how Houdini would react.
Harry stood, hands on hips in disbelief. He looked at Adelaide as if to say 'You went along with this?' before telling Doyle exactly what he thought of his so-called suspect. As he spoke he wandered backstage where Adelaide was surprised to see of all things a ping-pong table, or whiff-whaff as Harry called it.
As they started to play, Harry gave his own theory of the crime and explained how it must be an inside job as who else would know there was money at the nunnery to steal. Adelaide watched as they batted the theory back and forth as effortlessly as the ball they played with. She was impressed, not only by the deductive reasoning but how the two men listened to each other and could argue a point using logic.
Adelaide thought they were on the verge of a breakthrough when the the stage lights dimmed and a shape flew past the table in a rush, leaving them a message written in blood. Adelaide wasn't sure what had just happened, but Doyle quickly discovered the "blood" was really just colored corn syrup. Harry admitted he pulled the trick to prove his point, that a regular human being could fake a ghost to get away with a murder.
It was with that little stunt the goodwill evaporated and Doyle went on the attack. "Why do you refuse to believe? Do you really think so much of yourself you can't accept anything out there bigger than you," Doyle demanded walking away from the younger man toward the edge of the stage.
Adelaide watched as Harry's face and body language went from that of a man in a lively, intellectual debate, to someone hurt and defensive in an instant.
Harry took the verbal thrashing for half a beat before retaliating, "Why can't you accept that this is all there is?" Harry shouted back, closing the distance between them. "Who died that's so important that you can't stop chasing the dead instead of enjoying the living?"
Adelaide's stood stunned by the sudden shouting match between the two but hurried toward the front of the stage when she saw Doyle angrily round on Harry. Even after only one day, she was used to Arthur being calm and logical in the face of Houdini's more energetic style of discourse but this time Harry had crossed a line and she was afraid Doyle really would strike the magician.
Harry just stood in the face of Doyle's anger and encouraged him, "Come on, Doc, do your worst." He waited with his arms outstretched inviting the doctor to hit him. Adelaide scrambled to separate the two and was almost relieved when Sergeant Gudgett interrupted with the announcement of Sister Mathilda's death.
As Harry left, mumbling about looking for his coat and tie. Arthur paced back and forth along the edge of the stage.
"Why?" he asked Adelaide glancing up-stage toward her. "Why is it so difficult for him to even consider he might be wrong, that there really is something else out there?" Doyle toyed with his hat as he paced.
Adelaide wasn't sure how to answer. Because you are both stubborn men, she thought to herself a bit viciously.
Out loud she only replied, "I'm sure he has his reasons." Even to her, it sounded weak.
Houdini re-appeared on the stage in a blue jacket and red tie. "Shall we, then?" he asked stiffly as he led the way off stage and toward the nearest exit.
Adelaide could see he was working hard to hide the signs of the recent verbal battle and near-blows. His body language however spoke of a man angry and hurt over the confrontation.
Doyle for his part, made a half-hearted effort to say something then changed his mind. Instead he jammed his hat on his head and followed Harry out of the theater.
Adelaide discovered the benefit of working with a showman when she knocked on the door of the Royal Suite of the Metropole Hotel later that night. It was late enough, or early enough depending on your point of view, that most sane people were long in their beds. Instead, she was scouring log books and blueprints while Harry was throwing a party.
She walked into the hotel room without thinking and froze when she saw the room and the people milling about in it. She recognized several of the men and women from newspaper stories and for once her courage failed her and she turned to leave.
Harry, however, was behind her wearing a formal tuxedo; instead of throwing her out, he took her arm and encouraged her further into the room. He pointed out several of the luminaries she recognized as they crossed the room, and she was slightly amused to hear he'd hired an actor to play King Edward.
Just then a beautiful woman entered the room and Adelaide watched as Harry's entire aspect changed. This was not the cocky performer she was used to seeing, so self-assured and ready to do battle, or place an outrageous bet, with anyone over anything. He was quiet, maybe a bit sad and Adelaide saw the love shining on his face as he watched his mother meet and greet her birthday guests.
"We never had much growing up. Best thing about my success is I can give her the kind of life she deserves," Harry said in a low voice.
Adelaide felt even more like an interloper and stood silently watching the party until Harry led her into the library to find out why she was there.
She was instantly aware of two things when she entered the large, book-lined room. One made her smile the other frown in consternation. The first was a series of green bound books lined up in a place of pride on Harry's desk.
Doorstop my eye, she thought to herself smiling.
For all the disagreement, Houdini did respect Doyle, the evidence was right there for anyone to see: a complete set of first edition works by one Arthur Conan Doyle. She wondered if Harry would ever tell Doyle the truth about the books.
The second item, the one that made her frown, was the series of pictures arrayed along one wall of the room above the desk. Mediums, spirit photographers, fortune tellers. All of them laid out in such a way as to almost torture whoever sat at the desk.
Houdini's tone was angry as he explained about the bloodsuckers and his never-ending quest to get rid of those that would prey on the grieving. She was shocked to hear him say it was his responsibility to stop them. Why would he think that? She wondered. He accuses Doctor Doyle of chasing the dead, but here he is torturing himself with a battle he can never completely win.
She was rather proud of herself for finding the secret passage and explaining how Lucy's ghost could use it to get from the grave site to the office. Harry just looked at her with disbelief then proceeded to shred her hypothesis. When he told her she was just a girl, not the intelligent girl he thought she was, and to go off and find a man to buy her dresses, Adelaide lost her temper. She didn't care that he was a famous performer. She didn't care they were in what amounted to his home. She told Houdini exactly what she thought of his condescending remark and would have told him a few more things if the phone hadn't rung.
She started to leave but Harry stopped her with a hand on her arm. "That was Doyle," he explained hanging up the phone. "He says he's found something at the nunnery and we need to meet him there."
Adelaide stepped back from him and nodded. She didn't trust herself yet to speak to him.
Harry took off his tie and continued in a neutral voice, "I need to let my mother know I'm leaving her alone with her guests. Should I meet you outside the hotel or at the laundry?"
She smiled a little and accepted his attempt to make peace. "I'll have a cab waiting downstairs," she said and left the room.
Doyle was waiting outside the laundry when the cab with Harry and Adelaide arrived. Once he had them in Sister Fabian's office, he showed them the vase with the daisies and when Harry scoffed at this evidence, he showed them the box with the missing money he'd found under a floorboard.
"You were right about embezzlement," he told Harry. "But you were wrong about robbery. Sister Fabian was putting away a little something for herself. All of the missing money is in here." He dropped the small box on the desk. So there goes your theory about a robber killing the Sister, he thought. Lucy's ghost is starting to look more and more likely.
"OK, so we're back to Winnie or any of the other girls who knew Lucy and the name of her baby and liked to pick flowers," Harry said dismissively as he sat on the edge of the desk.
Doyle was about the reply when something odd happened. He felt suddenly cold and the ends of his fingers were tingling. He looked around and out of the corner of his eye, he saw … something. The others must have seen it as well as Harry looked startled and Adelaide ducked away from … something. As quickly as the ghost appeared it flew through the wall and vanished.
"What was that?" Doyle asked looking at Harry as the room returned to normal. "An encore?"
"That wasn't me," Harry denied and Doyle thought he looked a little pale.
By silent agreement the three of them left the office and headed out of the nunnery. Doyle was amazed; he had proof. Real proof and Houdini had witnessed it along with him. There was no way he could deny what they just saw … what they all felt in that room.
Harry, however was not accepting anything it seemed. He left the nunnery at a near run and rejected everything he and Adelaide said about the encounter with Lucy's ghost.
Doyle wasn't going to let him get away with denying what they'd just experienced. Shadows? Reflections? He won't admit what's right in front of him. He caught up with the younger man and confronted him. "I was wrong about you. It's not that you think too much of yourself, it's that you think too little. You're afraid that if there is something more, you won't be worthy of it! Why?" he shouted the question to Harry's back.
Doyle stared after the other man as Harry stormed out of the alley, passed the waiting hansom, and seemed intent on walking back to the Metropole Hotel. He had known Houdini off and on for several months and the younger man was determined to ruin any chance he, Doyle, had to prove the supernatural, to contact Touie. Doyle's frustration at Harry's attitude was rising more and more often with this case. First at the theater and now in the alley, and Doyle was forced to think about something other than his increasingly desperate attempts to talk to his ailing wife.
Why was Harry so determined to prove mediums were a fraud? The woman Doyle was currently using had told him where to find the sooty man, who was a thief afterall. Granted, he wasn't the thief he and Adelaide thought he was when they confronted him, but he was still a thief and his current medium did know something about the nunnery, she had predicted a second murder.
Even with the proof they had all just witnessed, Harry was determined not to believe it. Lucy had been there, in the room. He knew it. Adelaide knew it. But no, Houdini had to be stubborn; focused only on the mundane. There was something more, something beyond this existence. There had to be.
The revelation that Harry was actually afraid to think about something beyond this everyday existence hit Doyle like a lightening bolt. In his anger, he gave it voice and watched as Houdini practically ran away from him and refused to answer. This was not the flamboyant showman or the outrageous American, this was a side of Houdini he hadn't seen before: out of his depth and afraid of what they had just witnessed. Doyle almost regretted his harsh tone, almost.
"How are you supposed to stop a ghost?" Adelaide asked, interrupting Doyle's train of thought.
"You find out what it wants," he replied, only giving her a passing glance as he followed Harry's path out of the alley. Doyle's mind turned over the case and their new evidence for Lucy's ghost killing people. He would prove Houdini wrong once and for all.
He gave the cab driver the address for his medium and climbed in; she would lead him to the answer and Harry would have to finally accept that communication with spirits was possible.
He watched as she seemed to enter a new trance and he heard Touie speaking to him. I will always come for you, my love, he thought as the medium allowed Touie to speak to him. He had so much he wanted to tell her, about himself and certainly about the children. He wanted her to know he was looking for any sort of cure and reassure her he hadn't given up.
Before he could say any of this, however, the medium continued, "Oh, it's wonderful to hear your voice again … since I died."
Arthur let go of the woman's hands and sat back. No, please no, not another one, he thought. He stood from the table and glared at the woman with disdain before leaving. He'd thought this one was a true mystic, this one was helping him talk to his wife.
Was Houdini right after all, he thought to himself sitting in a cab outside the woman's house. Harry called them charlatans, frauds, fakes; he'd spent years unmasking the lies, the tricks they used to manipulate people. They can't all be frauds, he reassured himself. Some of them had to be real. There had to be something the fakes were trying to capture, something he, Doyle, would discover and once again hear his beloved Touie talk to him.
'Why can't you accept that this is all there is!' Houdini's words from the theater echoed in Doyle's mind. Harry had been ready for Doyle to do anything, including hitting him, in order to make his point that the supernatural wasn't real.
She knew about the nunnery, Lucy's ghost, he insisted to himself. The messages get confused, the medium had admitted as much. Yes, right before she channeled your "deceased wife", he reminded himself harshly.
Was Houdini right after all?
He ordered the cab to drive out to the sanatorium. If he couldn't speak to his wife one way, he would use another.
After a few minutes of silence, he started to talk to her. He told her about the children and how they were doing in school. "Kingsley has quite the imagination. You would be amazed at the stories he comes up with; I've been encouraging him to write them down. When you're better he can read them to you.
"Mary misses you terribly. She is starting at a new school, Vera found it and it has a good reputation. She has made a few new friends, already." His voice petered out and he took a deep breath. He squeezed the hand he was holding gently and touched Touie's face.
Doyle looked away toward the stained glass window. "I don't know how to do this without you," he admitted softly. "You know a little about my father and I don't want to be like him. I don't want our children to fear me. I don't want them to hate me," he whispered. "Am I doing the right things for them?"
Doyle wiped his eyes, and looked back at his wife. "There is a new treatment the doctor wants to try," he told her, changing the subject. "There has been some success with it in France and he thinks it may help you as well. He plans to try it in a few days once he has the correct medicines."
He stood up from the bed and gazed down at his wife. After another moment he bent down to kiss her forehead again. "I do love you so very much," he whispered in her ear and quietly left the room.
Harry thought about the revelation he'd had last night. Vibrations, could it be that simple? he wondered as he tied his tie. He heard of such phenomena before but had never witnessed it. He confirmed his theory on the way out of the hotel by checking with the bellhops about the subway schedules.
Now that he had a plausible answer, his mood lightened and he headed for Doyle's townhouse to share his conclusions. He was still down the block when he saw Doyle leaving his house and hurried to catch up.
"Ha, I had an epiphany," he said as he stopped in front of the townhouse.
"Do you know who the murderer is?" Doyle asked wasting no time and walking back the way Harry had just come from.
"No, but I know --"
"Then my epiphany trumps yours," Doyle interrupted. "Come on."
Harry followed Doyle and was pleased to see they were heading for the subway. Just what I needed, he thought as they entered the car and started to move.
Harry listened as Doyle explained his idea about Lucy and her relationship to Sister Grace. It explained everything, but Harry wondered how they would prove it. When Doyle commented that his car would be faster, Harry glanced at his watch and knew he was wrong. I am right, he thought happily. Sorry, Doc, no ghosts today.
Doyle practically ran through the nunnery until he found Sergeant Gudgett outside Sister Fabian's office. Houdini was willing to bet the sergeant had been on duty all night from the look of him. He also had no patience for Doyle demanding to see Sister Grace and that he knew who the murderer was.
Harry stood by with a smile as Gudgett sarcastically claimed Sherlock Holmes had solved the case and he grinned even wider when Doyle punched the sergeant to shut him up. Who knew you had it in you, Doc, Harry silently praised. He was already planning the story he would tell Merring in case Gudgett decided to hold a grudge and arrest the doctor.
Doyle turned to confront Sister Grace as she came out of the office and Harry watched as Arthur easily proved how Sister Grace was Lucy's mother and had killed the others out of revenge. As they discussed a point about Sister Grace's motives, the Sister chose to run and led them back down to the bowels of the nunnery. They started to follow her through a narrow passage when the floor gave way and Harry found himself underwater.
He could feel his body starting to shiver as soon as he surfaced; looking at Doyle beside him, the doctor was faring just as badly, his hands shook as he tried to light matches.
Why is it so cold, Harry wondered until Doyle informed him the Thames was a tidal river and they needed to get out of the sewer sooner rather than later. The Thames, great, Harry thought as he tried to stop his teeth chattering. He hated escaping from cold water, it never went to plan. He pushed his fingers through the grate and felt the lock holding the gate closed.
Harry ran his fingers through various pockets looking for something, anything he could use to pick the lock. This is not good, not good, he thought to himself. Glancing at Doyle, Harry's eyes landed on the other man's shirt and the slight, rigid bumps near the points of his collar. Grabbing for the first collar stay he could reach, Harry went to work on the lock.
Doyle was still trying to keep a match lit in the dim light. Harry wasn't sure what he thought the matches would do exactly, picking locks was more touch than sight, but it kept Doyle busy and Harry, for once, didn't say anything. The lock was proving difficult; he could only wedge his fingers through the openings in the grate at an awkward angle, his hands were shaking, and the collar stay refused to fit in the lock's tumbler.
"Come on," he muttered to himself and the lock. "Come on." The water was up to their chins and Harry was starting to worry.
Doyle, thinking Harry was talking to him, explained, "They're wet." as he tried to light another match.
Harry's fingers were going numb from the cold water and the small bit of metal slipped from his hand. The river water also rose at an alarming rate and their small pocket of air was quickly disappearing. Just as Harry reached for the second stay, Doyle slipped under the water. Harry pulled him back up into what little air they had left and went to work with the second collar stay. Before he could start on the lock, Doyle went under again.
"Doc!" Harry called, frantically.
"Doc!" Harry gave up on the lock and dove for his friend. There wasn't much he could do now for either of them, but he wasn't going to let go of Doyle. Looking up he searched for another air pocket and instead saw a shape and the grate being moved. He kicked upward with what strength he had left and pulled Doyle up with him. He grabbed the side of the pit long enough to steady himself, then reached back to grab a fistful of Doyle's coat again to keep the doctor from sinking back into the river.
Adelaide stared down at both of them a look of shock and fear on her face.
Harry, still gripping Doyle's coat, confidently stated, "I had it."
Adelaide's look told him she wasn't taken in by his glib response, Doyle just gasped and coughed for air.
After a few seconds to recover his breath, Harry was aware his feet felt numb and his back was spasming. Doyle was still coughing up water and Harry knew they needed to get out of the cold river and preferably in front of a nice warm fire.
Giving Doyle's coat a shake to get his attention, Harry said, "Come on, Doc. The audience always wants to, to see the smile at the end of the escape and applaud." He hoped neither of his companions noticed the stutter as he moved Doyle against the edge of the hole and signaled Adelaide to help pull him out.
With Adelaide pulling and Harry pushing, Doyle soon had himself out of the pit and sat against the wall, still coughing. As she turned back to the hole, Harry really wished Adelaide would focus on Doyle so he could get himself out of the water and hide the pain in his back. He didn't want to show either of these people just how much this escape cost him.
Gritting his teeth, and hoping his arms would support him, Harry pulled himself out of the water, and sat next to Doyle with a tired thump. Adelaide knelt in front of them with a concerned look on her face.
"Are you both all right?" she asked as Doyle started to move around.
Doyle nodded and glanced over at Harry who hadn't moved from his spot against the wall. The spasms in his back finally stopped but the ache was still there; he was sure at least some of the pain was reflected on his face as Doyle was giving him an appraising look and a frown. Harry waved a hand in Doyle's direction and said, "I'm fine." as Doyle stood over him.
Harry took a few more seconds to gather himself and grudgingly accepted the hand up Doyle offered before they headed back into the nunnery to prevent a third death.
He could see Doyle out of the corner of his eye looking like he thought Harry had gone mad, but then he felt it and a second later Lucy appeared in the room. Thankfully Adelaide had the presence of mind to take the straight razor away from Sister Grace while she was distracted and Harry leaned against the edge of the desk to hide the occasional shiver.
Harry and Doyle exchanged looks as Adelaide left to find Sergeant Gudgett. Harry could see Doyle was trying to figure out what had just happened and how Harry knew it would happen. Adelaide returned a few minutes later with Gudgett and a bobby with her to take Sister Grace away. Harry noticed the sergeant had a swollen lip and a nice bruise forming from where Doyle had hit him and Gudgett refused to look at either one of them.
Once the room was cleared Harry explained how vibrations from the passing subway train caused everyone to see a ghost. He was pleased to see Doyle accepted the theory once he explained how it worked, and Adelaide was equally impressed.
As Arthur asked how Adelaide had discovered Sister Grace was the killer, Harry stepped back and realized something else, they worked well as a team. They were three strong personalities but in the end the case was successfully solved. He walked toward the door with one last thing on his mind before going home to the hotel. He needed to have a little chat with Chief Inspector Merring regarding Constable Stratton.
He struck another match and was about to light the slim pipe when he was again interrupted, this time by a knock at the door. He sighed and watched the match burn down while he thought about just ignoring it.
"Harry? Harry, are you there?" Doyle's voice questioned through the door as he knocked again.
Harry dropped the spent match in the tray and went to answer the door. As he moved into the main sitting area, he tried to ignore the pain in his back.
"Doc, what are you doing here?" Houdini asked as he opened the door.
Doyle stood at the entry, hat in one hand, looking slightly guilty. Or concerned, Harry thought not forgetting the assessing once over he'd received after Adelaide found them.
"May I come in?" Doyle asked, twisting his hat through his fingers.
"That depends, what do you think I've done now?" Before Doyle could answer, Harry stepped aside and gestured with one arm for Arthur to enter. Harry closed the door and turned to see Doyle staring silently at the room he entered. Harry pointed Doyle to a chair and sat on the sofa next to it, hoping his face didn't betray how good it felt to sit down. From the look Doyle gave him, he knew he wasn't successful.
"What's on your mind, Doc?" Harry asked after several seconds of silence.
"I wanted to tell you," Doyle started to say glancing at Harry and then away. He sighed and started again. "I wanted to tell you, you were right. About the medium. She wasn't really talking to … who I thought she was."
Harry wasn't sure what to say, his mental responses ran from flippant to sympathetic, and he settled for somewhere in the middle.
"Doyle … Arthur, none of them are what they say," Harry said softly. "I should know," he mumbled mostly to himself.
Doyle started to protest, and Harry interrupted, "I'm sorry about whoever you lost, Arthur, really I am. But this isn't the way to remember them. These people don't care how much they are hurting you, all they care about is stringing you along and getting as much from you as they can."
"Some of them must be authentic," Doyle answered. "Science has changed so much of what we thought we knew! We can take pictures of bones today, x-rays they're called, to help find breaks and better set them. Ten years ago we were setting bones by touch and hoping for the best."
Doyle stood and paced the room while Harry watched from the sofa. "We know so much more about diseases and how they are transmitted. There is a story about a woman in Paris finding new elements we never knew existed as well as something she calls radioactivity."
Doyle sat back in the chair and implored, "Who knows if one of those new discoveries is the key to talking to spirits. In the meantime, there are mediums. Yes, some may be frauds," he admitted painfully. "I have to believe some of them are true mystics."
Harry didn't say anything, he merely slouched lower on the sofa and glared back at the other man. He wasn't really in the mood for the fight anyway, all he wanted was to lie down and hope his back would stop aching soon.
Doyle didn't seem inclined to continue the debate either, it seemed, and both settled for companionable silence. Harry listened to the slow tick of the clock and drifted. He jerked awake with a start and a wince as various aches throbbed with the sudden movement.
Doyle said quietly, "I am a doctor, you know."
Harry almost laughed, he'd suspected telling him about the medium was only part of the reason for Doyle's visit. He settled for a weary smile and commented, "Nothing you can do, Doc. All part of the thrilling life."
"Harry," Doyle tried again. His hand twitched from his lap almost as if he intended to reach out to the younger man.
Harry could see the compassion on Doyle's face and hear it in his voice. He wasn't really sure what to do with it, though. Houdini was well schooled in dealing with his own problems. With the exception of his mother, no one had ever really bothered to care about his aches and pains.
"Really," Harry insisted with another smile. He could tell Doyle didn't really believe him and was surprised, and a bit saddened, when Doyle stood to leave. Harry got himself up and walked the other man back to the door.
"Well, Harry, it's been an interesting adventure to work with you for a change," Doyle said holding out his hand.
Harry gave the hand a shake and grinned. "Until next time, Doc. All assuming of course, Adelaide will have us."
He watched as Doyle started back up the hallway to the elevator, then closed the door and smiled to himself. It had been an interesting adventure, and surprisingly fun to work with both Arthur and Adelaide.
He crossed the room, opened another door quietly and checked his mother was still sleeping soundly. Then he went back to the library and finally lit the pipe and waited for the opium to do its work.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 01 (con't)
I was back in the basement when Chief Inspector Merring found me the next morning, once again typing and filing.
"I'm moving you upstairs," he explained to me rather stiffly. "Mr. Houdini seems to think you've done a good job."
I was shocked to say the least. The world-famous Harry Houdini defending me. Not bad considering the events of our first meeting and his cheeky request for coffee.
The rest of Merring's statement/threat went right past me. I knew the truth and I also knew this was my chance to make a difference.
In the end we proved there was no ghost at the Magdalene Laundry just people killing people as Harry said. Doyle did pay off the bet as promised, but I doubt anything has really changed for either of my new friends and partners.
I know Doctor Doyle will find yet another medium to help him in his quest.
And I know now why Harry Houdini can never stop his battle with the purveyors of the paranormal.
I also know I will call both of them the next time there is a case with supernatural aspects in need of investigation.
Chapter 2: Truths
Dialog from the episode A Dish of Adharma written by David Hoselton
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
After such a thrilling beginning, I must admit, the following few weeks have been quiet and dull. True, I'm now upstairs with the rest of the Metropolitan police force; and more surprisingly I'm missing Mr. Houdini and Doctor Doyle. Who would have suspected I would actually miss the bickering and sniping of those two!
Harry is at the theater working on a new show. After his near-drowning in the pit at the nunnery I don't understand why he still does that water-cell escape night after night (and twice on Sunday, of course). He sends me numerous notes with offers of tickets to see the show, best seats in the house he claims, but I just can't do it. I was nearly witness to his actual death and I'm not ready to sit in a theater where it could potentially happen again.
Arthur is also busy speaking about his book and bolstering opinion for the war in Africa. He sent a copy to me at the station. When Chief Inspector Merring saw it, he glared from the book to me and I thought for sure he would send me back downstairs.
Sometimes she wondered why she bothered with Harry Houdini. Asking if she was a virgin, really. Adelaide knew he was asking such an outrageous question simply to get a reaction from her, unfortunately for him she wasn't the one reacting.
Doyle stood agape, shocked by the question, while Harry cockily waited for an answer. Why not, she thought, It will take him down a peg or two at least. His reaction was everything she could hope for and his squirming when she asked her question was even better. What really interested her, though, was he was only giving part of an answer.
What is he hiding, she wondered. She knew Harry didn't trust others easily, saying only enough to get out of a conversation. It was the price of fame certainly, but there was something else as well. It can't be his mother, he loves her too much. He never mentions his father or siblings … Something to keep in mind for our next truth trade. she smiled to herself
She followed "Martin" as he chased after the dog and listened with half an ear to Harry and Arthur talking behind her.
"So what do you think? Married? Promiscuous?" Harry asked, slightly awed.
"Maybe she was just trying to shut you up?" Doyle responded.
"That's a pretty big lie," Houdini pointed out.
Adelaide smiled as she heard Doyle's response, "Shutting you up is a pretty big task."
Finding the skeleton however ended any further thoughts of torturing Harry Houdini.
She wasn't surprised Doyle took "Martin" at his word that he was buried at the spot they were standing on. Arthur took off his jacket and immediately started digging where the boy indicated. She was pleased to see that after a brief hesitation, Harry also shed his coat and started digging. A month ago he would have stood by and mocked the Doctor, Adelaide realized. Now he's willing to, literally, dig in and help.
Once the ring was discovered, Arthur pushed on with his claim of reincarnation, but Adelaide could see Harry was disturbed by this new information. The momentary solidarity in the task of digging gave way as each man retreated back to opposite sides of the paranormal fence.
Arthur merely followed Harry with his eyes as he left the car and started up the stairs from the subway stop to the London street above.
"I'm not sure, Constable," he said.
"I didn't mean to hurt him," she said quietly.
"It was his game," he reminded her. "He knew what he was doing."
"Still, I didn't expect … "
She watched Arthur watch the boy sleep as the subway started moving again.
"The sad thing is, Constable, Harry was probably telling you the truth. His father really did nothing to him. I suspect his father simply left Harry to his own devices."
"You're saying he neglected his own son," Adelaide accused.
"Or he died when Harry was quite young," Doyle replied. "It would explain quite a lot," he finished in a mumble more to himself than to her.
"Oh?" she asked. "Like?"
When Doyle didn't answer immediately, Adelaide glanced back at him and saw he was lost in thought.
Arthur shifted gently in his seat and tucked the boy more tightly against his side as the car swayed around a bend in the track.
"You mentioned Harry telling you his success gave him the chance to dote on his mother," Arthur said and Adelaide nodded. "That tells me he had a rough upbringing. No one really around to help them so Harry took it on himself to do whatever he could. He takes chances, with money, with his life, because he doesn't think there is any other way to live."
Adelaide pondered Doyle's analysis as the subway train came to the next stop. As Doyle woke the boy and they made their way out of the subway tunnel and up to the surface near Scotland Yard, Adelaide noticed how Doyle interacted with "Martin" and came to a realization of her own.
"Doctor, how old is your son?" she asked.
Doyle stopped at the top of the stairs and looked back at her with a tight smile. "My son is eight," he said simply. "My daughter is eleven."
Adelaide noticed his demeanor and regretted her question. "I'm sorry, Doctor, I didn't mean to pry."
She watched as Doyle shook off the momentary melancholy as he replied, "No apology is necessary, Constable." He stepped out into the light of the setting sun and continued, "We should probably get our young charge here settled for the night, don't you agree?"
Adelaide merely nodded and led the way toward the Metropolitan Police station.
Harry wasn't sure where he was once he left the subway and took a moment to orient himself, not only to where exactly he was in the city, but also his mental frame of mind. The game wasn't supposed to go this way, he thought to himself as he started walking in the direction of the Metropole Hotel. Beautiful, intelligent, challenging as hell; he'd used those words to describe the constable to Doyle. While he focused on the challenge, he should have remembered the intelligent part.
His idea was to get Adelaide to talk to him, even be a little impressed by him, so he could ask her to dinner, and thus win his latest bet with Doyle. Instead she repeatedly turned the tables on him, refusing to act the way he expected. Now this about his father.
Why had the question hurt so much, Harry wondered while another part of his mind pondered how she knew it would wound him so deeply. He hadn't thought of his father much in years; once he died, Harry did what he could for his mother and family resorting to theft if necessary. As he became more and more successful, Houdini lavished his mother in gifts and the good life, doing what he could to erase the bad memories of past hardships.
A profound unhappiness she'd called it, a great wound. Harry had been angry at his father certainly. He didn't understand as a child how to bend in the face of bigotry or hate, so even now he acted as a bulwark against it, refusing to bend, and being bloodied more than once as a result. He knew the pain well and tried to spare others as a result.
He'd never considered it a wound …
And he's probably not wrong, Harry considered as he heard Adelaide take responsibility for "Martin" disappearing. Harry, unable to stay silent any longer spoke up to take the blame on himself for showing "Martin" how to slip handcuffs but Merring didn't care. The only thing that mattered was his key suspect in a very high profile shooting, was on the loose.
Harry was impressed as Adelaide described her methods for uncovering "Martin's" actual name of Peter Bennett, he couldn't help but smile and finally, unable to contain himself any longer spoke, "I'd say that's some damn fine police work; wouldn't you Chief?"
He looks like a hooked fish, Harry thought to himself as he stared at Merring. He really has no idea just how good Adelaide is at this. His loss. Harry couldn't help sharing a satisfied grin with Doyle as Merring floundered. He may not have appreciated the way the constable found his weak spots yesterday, but he was learning to respect Adelaide as a police officer.
Finally, after another awkward silence Doyle asked, "Did you ever play truant when you were a girl?"
Harry listened to the conversation but couldn't understand why Doyle's daughter missing one day of school was such an issue. He was much better off in spite of a minimal formal education and said so. Neither Doyle nor Adelaide were impressed by his argument.
"What does you wife say," Harry asked innocently.
"My wife has tuberculosis, she's been unresponsive for six months," Doyle answered, finally, avoiding eye contact with the other occupants of the cab.
Harry was stunned. Well that explains everything, Harry thought. He's in mourning even though his wife isn't dead yet. No wonder he's so easily taken in by every bloodsucker for miles.
He remembered the conversation in his hotel room after solving the case at the laundry. He remembered how desperate Doyle sounded when stating science would prove the existence of spirits as easily as finding new elements and explaining radioactivity. The frustration he felt beating against the brick wall of Doyle's faith, melted to a familiar anger. These charlatans were no longer just hurting the faceless masses, they were hurting his friend. He heard Adelaide's heart-felt apology at the news, but found he could say nothing. For Harry, actions were always better than words.
The rest of the journey to the Bennett home was made in silence. While Doyle was again lost in thought, Adelaide stared out the opposite window at the people they passed on the street. Harry sat in his corner of the handsome and plotted new ways to debunk every mystic he found. Even after the cab arrived, Harry was still seething and walked into the Bennett's town-house with renewed purpose.
Harry headed for his hotel room, listing the items he needed in his head. Entering the sitting room, he found his mother sitting at her writing desk answering letters.
"Dear, Ehrie, there you are," she said as he came over to kiss her cheek.
Harry glanced at the papers on the desk and asked, "What's all of this?"
Cecilia waved a hand at the letters and replied, "This and that, many people sent letters after my birthday and I wish to answer them. There this, too," she finished showing Harry one of the letters in particular.
Harry took the letter, no invitation, he realized and read it aloud, "Mr and Mrs Robards request the pleasure of your attendance to our next country house party."
Harry looked up from the letter. "Ma, have you ever been to a country party? Do you know what goes on at those parties?" Harry was all too aware of what the social elite got up to over the long weekends out of the city. It was one of the reasons he stopped attending them; every mother for miles would try to latch an unattached daughter to his side.
"I haven't the slightest idea, Ehrie. But, it would be interesting to see one, I think. It would be a wonderful time."
Harry glanced back through the invitation. "It's at the end of the month, I can take you up there if you want me to." He'd suffer the three days of matchmaking if it made his mother happy.
Cecilia kissed Harry's cheek and told him, "No, no, you have your shows, theaters full of people to make happy. I will be fine."
Harry put the invitation back on the top of the pile of correspondence and squeezed his mother's hand. As he walked into the library, he called back to her, "Whatever makes you happy, Ma." and disappeared into the library.
He gathered the supplies he would need to break into Lydia Belworth's very impressive safe, kissed his mother again, and left.
Yep, good thing I didn't tell her about this before I went to Mrs. Belworth's office, Harry thought to himself.
Adelaide's disappointment was short-lived however once Harry explained what he'd found. Lydia Belworth, nee Moreau, nee Durst had a lot of secrets. One of them was she, Lydia, knew who the blonde woman was and thanks to the journal, Peter knew who she was as well.
It only took forty-five minutes researching in the basement to find a Margery Maguire with an address at a rooming house in Aldgate. "Yes, here it is," Adelaide exclaimed. "She's not that far from Beatrice Upton," she continued, "Peter could be there already!" She put the registry books back on the shelf and headed back toward the stairs.
"Hold on a minute," Harry said taking her arm. "If he is there, we need to have more of a plan than knocking on the front door. If he isn't there, we need to set a trap to catch him before he hurts Margery. Like you said, Margery's room is only a few blocks from Beatrice Upton, we know Mrs. Upton has a gun. Peter could easily break in and steal it, just like he stole Martin's journal."
He watched Adelaide's face at the realization of Peter having another gun. "How are we going to stop bullets," she asked worriedly.
Harry already had the beginnings of a plan in his head, all he needed to do was convince Adelaide it was the best option they had. "I have an idea, but I need to stop at the theater and get a few things," he told her.
"The theater," she said. "Mr. Houdini, just what is this idea of yours?"
Harry smiled as he led her back up the stairs and explained what he wanted to do. "Don't worry. I've done something like this before. It's fool-proof," he reassured her. "You get Arthur and I'll meet you at Margery's room in thirty minutes."
Adelaide didn't look very convinced, but she nodded and left the station and headed for Doyle's town-house.
Arthur is going to hate this, Harry thought to himself.
Doyle sat stunned as he listened to the plan Harry and Adelaide had concocted to find Peter and save Margery Maguire.
"Harry says this is will work, says it's a fool-proof plan," Adelaide explained standing in Doyle's office. "He's meeting us at Margery's rooming house; he had to stop at the theater to pick up a few things he would need."
Doyle stood from behind the desk with a frown and started to gather items into a black medical bag sitting on a table in the corner. Lint, liniment, bandages, forceps, what else? He threw various items into the bag and said to Adelaide, "Well he certainly is a fool," he stated angrily.
"Harry seems very sure he can do this," she defended standing out of the way as Doyle reached behind her for more supplies.
"Of course he thinks that," he told her, shaking his head. "Houdini doesn't stop to think through most of what he does. It's all a challenge to him. See if he can defy death one more time." Doyle could hear the worry in his voice and was relieved to see his concern was now mirrored in Adelaide's eyes as well.
"What?" Harry replied smiling as he shrugged into a tightly quilted vest and snapped it closed. "Doc, you really need to come see my new show if this is a surprise for you."
Doyle set the medical bag down and reached out to Harry, grabbed his shoulders forcing the other man to stop what he was doing and said, "You idiot, this isn't a stage production. You intend to let that boy shoot you, in the back, possibly several times."
Harry shrugged out of Doyle's grasp, pulled on a second padded vest and cinched it tightly across his middle over the first. He glanced at the dress and wig he had yet to put on. "Do you really think the green works for me?" Harry held the dress up turning back to Doyle.
Doyle just shook his head and looked to Adelaide for support. "I can't believe you agreed to this," he said to her again.
Adelaide stared back at him and tried to explain, "He does seem rather sure this will work, Doctor."
Doyle threw his hands in the air. Idiots, the pair of them, he thought to himself.
Stepping toward Adelaide, Doyle decided to appeal to her common sense, As Houdini clearly has none, he mentally finished. "The success of this plan is completely based on some quilting and the assumption the boy will aim at his back and not his head," Doyle explained. "Even with the padding, a bullet could still penetrate and severely injure or even kill him."
Harry tried to interrupt, but Doyle was on a roll.
He aimed a glare in Harry's direction and continued, "Don't, Harry, you know I'm right. At the very least you are going to suffer deep tissue bruising." He gave Houdini a significant look. "It's going to hurt."
Harry put down the dress and nodded. "Yeah, I know it will, Doc," he said slowly. "But it's not like we have a whole lot of other options. Do you want to make Margery stand there and get shot? I, at least, know what I'm getting into here."
Adelaide sucked in her breath with a hiss. So, he didn't tell her everything it seems, Doyle thought. Maybe I can still stop this.
"Why didn't you say anything about this," Adelaide demanded to Houdini. "You said this was safe, that you'd done this before. As a member of the police force, I cannot allow a member of the general public risk such danger." She reached out for the dress, "We'll think of something else," she said.
Harry jerked the dress back and started to put it on. "I never said it was safe. And for the record I said I've done something like this before," Harry said defensively. "I understand you are both worried about me, and I'm grateful for your concern," he said as he struggled to get the buttons of the bodice to close over the layers of padding. "Trust me, this will work." He put the wig on and moved toward the door. "It's the only chance we have of stopping Peter."
He grabbed the hand holding the gun and said in stunned surprise, "Mrs. Belworth we were not expecting you."
As Adelaide come out of the room across the hall with the real Margery Maguire, Doyle glanced through the open door past Mrs Belworth to see Harry on the floor. Doyle didn't realize he'd stopped breathing until Harry groaned again and started to move, then he finally inhaled.
He traded a relieved look with the constable and watched as Houdini stiffly stood and limped toward him. Three bullets, Doyle cataloged. Left shoulder, lower back on the right and a graze off his left side.
"Thanks a lot. You could have stopped her before she shot me," Harry stated sarcastically as he limped through the door and stood behind Doyle in the hall.
"Well done, Lydia, you just set your movement back a hundred years," Harry continued, popping the buttons on the bodice. Doyle noted the stiff movement and added ice to his mental list of things he would need to take care of the injuries he knew were hiding under Harry's padded vests.
As Lydia tried to explain to Adelaide why she killed Martin and almost killed Houdini, Doyle heard the quiet wincing behind him and turned to help Harry. Harry waved him off and finally got out of the bodice and vests. Arthur noted he was hunched over and leaning heavily on the wall beside him.
Doyle was torn. He knew they had to find Peter, however he also knew Houdini needed medical attention. As Adelaide led Lydia out of the rooming house, Doyle turned to Harry.
"Come in here," Arthur motioned to the neighboring room. "Let me have a look at you."
"We really don't have time for this," Harry said inching away from the door.
"We can make the time, Mr. Houdini," Adelaide pointed out coming back into the hall and frowning at Harry. "Lydia is on her way to the station and Margery has gone along as a witness," she continued. "I think we can spare a few minutes to make sure your fool-proof plan didn't kill you." Adelaide's concern was painted across her face in a series of worry lines.
Doyle watched as the emotions played across Harry's face and he saw the moment the younger man accepted they weren't going to look for Peter until Harry had been checked over by Doyle.
As Doyle led Harry back into the neighboring room, Adelaide said, "I'll just be here," pointing to Margery's room. "If you need anything."
"Right, then," Doyle said closing the door. He pointed to a neat bedstead in one corner of the room and reached for the medical bag still on the table. "Lie down over there and let's see how bad it is."
Harry heaved a sigh and tried one more time, "I'm fine."
"You are not fine and we both know it." Doyle nodded toward the next room. "She knows it too. Now, shirt off."
Harry removed the shirt and turned to lie down on the bed. Doyle couldn't hide his appalled shock. "My god, Harry," he whispered as he saw the bruises on the other man's back and side were already a deep blue-black.
"Some bedside manner, you've got, Doc," Harry chided, groaning slightly as Doyle probed each of the large welts on his back.
"You were very lucky, Harry. This one," Doyle lightly brushed the bruise near Harry's hip, "is over your kidney. If the bullet had actually penetrated the padding, you would be dead right now."
Harry made a noncommittal grunt and closed his eyes.
Doyle set to work doing what he could in the limited amount of time available. He knew he should call the constable to get a wagon to take Harry to hospital; he also knew Harry would balk at the idea and never trust him again. Instead he gently checked each of the welts for broken skin, lathered them liberally with liniment and covered each in lint padding to protect the bruised skin as much as possible. He couldn't do much for the swelling, and only hoped the welts wouldn't increase much more in size.
Houdini was stoically silent throughout, an occasional flinch the only sign of how much pain he endured while Doyle gently worked in the liniment and wrapped each of the bruises. Finally, he helped Harry to sit up and handed the younger man his shirt. Harry's face was pale and pinched in pain, but Doyle stopped short of suggesting the hospital, He would only say no, Doyle admitted to himself.
Harry sat a moment longer and Doyle watched as he took two deep breaths, letting each out slowly and then started to stand. "Come on," Harry said, his voice tight. "We need to find that kid and end this whole reincarnation business once and for all."
Doyle watched as the other man stiffly walked out of the room. He shouldn't be conscious, much less walking, he thought slightly awed. He hurriedly gathered up the supplies he'd used and followed Houdini.
"And I still need to win our bet," Harry said as he led the way next door to the waiting Adelaide.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 02 (con't)
Is Lydia Belworth a hero? As Harry reminded me, just because Lydia is a bad person, it doesn't mean the cause is any less worthy. I like to think someday women will have the right to vote and be able to hold a job without scorn or questions about her femininity. We've only recently buried Queen Victoria, the longest reigning monarch in history, and yet a woman in the workplace is still heresy to many. I just hope it doesn't take the hundred years Houdini predicted.
Mr. Houdini is proving to be even more outrageous than any newspaper reporter would suspect. I know now not to take anything he says at face-value. He asks for trust, at the same time he insists on risking his life at the drop of a hat. A part of me is humbled by his attitude to help anyone he can, however he can, even if that means he gets hurt instead. At the same time, he is my friend, and I don't like to see him in pain, physical or emotional, and I want to try and protect him from that pain.
I suspect Doctor Doyle feels much the same way, I must remember to talk to him about it sometime soon. If nothing else we can help each other deal with Houdini's maddening personality.
Speaking of Doctor Doyle, I am so saddened by his revelation about his wife. It is clear he loves her dearly and to think how his children must feel missing their mother … I don't know how he can cope. The sad truth is he's probably not coping at all; the insistence of the existence of a spirit world and a means to communicate with those on the other side makes much more sense now. Mr. Houdini obviously knew nothing about the doctor's situation and I'm a little fearful what he will do with this new information. He's already proven he's willing to get shot at for a stranger; what lengths will he go to for a friend?
Chapter 3: Medicine or Magic
I freely admit this is one of my favorite episodes, so this chapter is a bit longer than the others. Hopefully I did justice to the emotional roller-coaster Doyle was on for this one.
Dialog from the episode In Manus Dei written by Melissa R Byer and Treena Hancock
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
The past few days have been heart-wrenching to say the least. I've watched Doctor Doyle deal with the delight of his wife awake and speaking to him again for the first time in six months. At the same time we have both been dealing with a very sick Harry Houdini. The Doctor must be exhausted with the opposite emotions of sheer happiness concerning his wife and then the worry and fear over his friend.
It was time he decided sitting on the bed, an empty box beside him. Admit it, he told himself sternly, She isn't going to come home. You don't just get better with tuberculous.
His beautiful wife, his Touie. The dinner party he'd remembered was only a few months before she first got sick. At the time, Doyle was ecstatic once they'd returned home that night, leaving the small talk and the fawning dinner guests on the other side of the town-house's door. Now he would give anything to attend another such party with her.
You're giving up on her, one side of his mind accused.
I know that, he admitted. But what can I do?
He didn't realize Mary was standing at the door until she spoke. He thought she was downstairs with her brother as he didn't want the children to know he was packing away their mother's things. His daughter's faith in her mother just made him feel worse. She still has hope, he argued with himself. Why don't you?
His packing was interrupted again a few minutes later when Vera came to tell him there was a caller downstairs. Doyle stored the box, now filled with Touie's carefully packed dresses, in the wardrobe and followed the housekeeper downstairs.
He found Houdini in his office looking at the items he'd collected on various travels arrayed along the fireplace mantle.
"Hey, Doc," Harry greeted him. "What exactly did this guy do to you?" he asked with a smile pointing to the mask at one end. As he turned to face Doyle standing in the door, Harry's eyes lost their sense of mischief and Arthur realized he must still be thinking of what he'd just been doing upstairs.
Harry stepped back from the mantlepiece and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "This is not a good time, I guess," he said, the humor gone from his voice. "You know what, never mind. It wasn't that big a deal anyway." Harry started for the door.
"No, wait," Doyle said holding out an arm to stop the other man from leaving. "I was just," he hesitated, "I was just packing away a few of Touie's things, that's all."
"Oh," Harry replied, looking at his feet. "In that case, this really is not a good time."
"Harry, it's fine, really," Doyle reassured the other man. "Why are you here?"
Doyle was surprised to see Harry hesitate for a moment before saying, "Umm, I take it you haven't seen the latest edition of the London Daily." Harry pulled the folded paper out of his suit coat pocket and handed it over. "London seems to have a faith healer in town, only this one isn't just healing people, he's also killing them if someone makes him mad."
Doyle took the proffered paper and read the headline: Local Man Struck Down By God and skimmed the rest of the article with interest.
"Have you told Constable Stratton about this?" he asked, handing back the paper.
"Not yet, I thought we could do that together; three of us would do a better job convincing Merring, don't you think?"
Doyle smiled and headed for the door, picking up his hat along the way. "Quite right," he agreed closing the door behind Harry and walking to the corner to hail a hansom cab. As he climbed in the cab after Houdini, Doyle couldn't stop thinking about other possibilities. Medicine hasn't worked, he thought, It could be worth the effort to see if this faith healer really can heal the sick. He could save Touie after all.
You know Harry will argue against this, he reminded himself.
Yes, well Harry isn't married, he doesn't know what this is like. Doyle shook off the last of the melancholy as he formulated a new plan to save his wife.
"You want to crash a funeral?" Harry asked with a grin as a hansom cab drove them to the cathedral.
"Well, not exactly crash," Adelaide countered, "But we have to try something."
"Oh I don't disagree with you, Constable, but we're still crashing a funeral. So what do you want to do once we get there?"
"It should be a simple matter to get close enough to the body for Doctor Doyle to make at least a cursory exam."
Doyle listened to the two of them discuss the merits of Stratton's plan but stayed silent himself. He could admit to himself he was torn. Harry was right, many faith healers didn't really help anyone, they just made the person worse because real medicine was ignored. But for Touie, medicine had been tried, and it didn't help her.
He was a doctor, he should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Harry on this, faith healers were not the answer to illness. He stared out the window, seeing his lovely wife and not the grey London street.
Once at the church Doyle realized there was a problem. The nave was large and there were enough people milling about that getting close enough to the body without someone noticing would be difficult. He saw Houdini watching the crowd as well and when Reverend Downey appeared before the widowed Mrs. Batch, he wasn't surprised Harry signaled him toward the casket.
As Doyle walked toward the deceased Mr. Batch, he listened to Harry's impromptu distraction and denunciation of Downey. He's enjoying this far too much, Doyle thought as he heard Harry list the various ways the reverend could smite him down.
As he and Adelaide finished their examination and moved away, Doyle heard the last of Harry's argument to Downey, taunting that he was still standing seemingly whole and hale. A tiny, superstitious, piece of Doyle's mind wondered if Harry hadn't gone to far.
Ahh, it's always a good day when there's a bloodsucker to debunk, Harry thought as he followed the others out of the cathedral happy with himself even though Doyle kept giving him odd looks as they waited for a hansom to take them back to Scotland Yard.
"What?" Harry finally asked after yet another sidelong look from Doyle.
"You don't think you were a bit over the top at all, I gather," Doyle asked as he assisted Adelaide into the cab.
"Not at all," Harry replied. "That was actually me being nice; you should see what I do when I'm not crashing a funeral."
Doyle shook his head and turned away and climbed into the cab to sit opposite the constable.
"He's a con-artist, Arthur. He's preying on sick people's hopes for a magic cure to what ails them, nothing more."
"And if he is healer with powers from God?" Adelaide asked as Harry joined them inside the cab.
"Wait a minute. An hour ago, you were agreeing with me that this was a scam. Now you think he can really heal or better yet, hurt people?" Harry asked astounded.
Harry watched as Stratton and Doyle shared a look. "He can't hurt me," Houdini reminded them. He could tell neither of them were as sure as he was there was no danger.
Things didn't improve when they got back to the station. Adelaide sent out for more information on Batch which was useful Harry thought. But then she brought out a file showing how several others had died after confrontations with Downey. Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. Why couldn't they see it? Why did they insist on believing there was a supernatural reason for the deaths. It was obvious to him that Downey was killing anyone who disagreed with him and used that mystique to pump up his own reputation as a faith healer.
"There's a lot of techniques these guys use, starting with the placebo effect," he said, with disgust. At Adelaide's confused look he explained, "Charlatans have been using it for years, science finally put a name on it. If you believe you're gonna feel better, you will." He nodded toward Doyle. "This tent is full of people who want to believe in miracles."
"Nothing wrong with that," Doyle retorted.
Harry knew it would take more than just his say-so to make his point and the man next to him gave him just the opportunity to prove he was right. Harry 'miraculously' pulled a tumor from the man's side and he left the tent convinced Harry had cured him. Harry just stared back at Doyle. It really is that easy, Doc, he thought to himself while Adelaide pointed out the tumor looked a lot like a chicken gizzard.
Unfortunately, Harry had another problem. His stomach had been doing slow rolls since they left the police station, however Harry was determined to ignore the discomfort and carry on. It now appeared as though his body had a different plan as he threw up all over the constable's shoes. After telling his companions it was only a case of food poisoning, he hurried from the tent before he could make an even larger spectacle of himself.
Harry was waiting outside the tent when Arthur and Adelaide exited a few minutes later. His stomach had stopped turning over and he'd found a bucket of water to rinse his mouth, but he still didn't feel right.
As he watched the others walk over toward him, he knew something had happened, something to convince Doyle the faith healer was something other than a quack.
"What happened?" he asked as the others stopped in front of him. Adelaide was giving him a worried look and Harry tried to stand a little more upright and said to diffuse her concern, "Sorry about the shoes, Constable. If you tell me your size I'll have them replaced for you."
Adelaide shook her head and asked, "Are you all right? You still look pale."
"I'm fine," Harry reassured her. "Like I said, it must be food poisoning, nothing serious."
"I'm not so sure of that," she said but started walking toward the road.
Harry and Doyle followed behind her. "You still haven't said what happened in the tent after … "
"After you were sick, just like the last person who ridiculed Reverend Downey?" Doyle asked and Harry thought he heard concern in the other man's voice. Harry could tell the doctor wasn't any more convinced of Harry's declaration of good health than Adelaide had been.
"Have it your way," Harry retorted. "When I'm alive and well tomorrow maybe then you will accept he can't really hurt me."
They were almost to the road when Harry finally said, "You did something didn't you?" he asked looking at Doyle. As they came alongside Adelaide, Harry grabbed Doyle's arm. "He can't help her. You know that," he said in a whisper.
Doyle shook off Harry's light hold and replied, "No, I don't. And neither do you."
Harry could admit to himself the way he felt was more than mere food poisoning but he didn't want anyone else to know the truth. His mother would worry and cancel the trip she had looked forward to ever since she received the invitation a few weeks ago. Constable Stratton would give him pitying looks and Doyle would probably just say I told you so, and believe the illness was the result of Harry's confrontation with Downey.
When a knock sounded on the door, he slowly stood and walking back into the sitting room found a folded piece of paper slipped under the door.
He read the brief note twice before dropping in on a nearby table and hurrying back to the library for his suit coat.
No. No, no, no. There has got to be a real reason, a medical reason, he thought as he raced out of the hotel room, his own illness momentarily forgotten. It's a trick, I know it's a trick.
He did it. She's awake.
He arrived at the Brompton Sanatorium in record time and ran up the stairs when he saw Doyle and a doctor speaking on the landing above him.
Meeting Arthur on the landing, Harry couldn't help but notice the change in his friend. Doyle was happy, he stood straighter, he looked as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
He shook Doyle's hand and offered sincere congratulations on the good news of his wife's recovery, but he couldn't help pointing out there had to be a rational reason. It didn't matter though, Doyle was happy. Harry noticed the man couldn't stop smiling and glancing back toward his wife's room.
"I don't trust Downey," he tried again to explain. "He's a con-artist, and maybe a murderer," he added as an aside. He tried to explain Downey was only using Arthur for publicity, but in the end he could tell Doyle didn't care. His wife was awake, aware, she was getting better; nothing he, Harry, could say would change Doyle's mind now he realized.
"Believe whatever you want," Doyle said, confirming Harry's assumption. He squeezed Harry's arm and continued. "But something happened here that you can't explain. Something wonderful."
Harry gave up. Doyle was convinced his wife was healed by magic. And Harry admitted to himself he was thrilled for his friend, he truly was pleased with the good news. Arthur deserves to be happy, he told himself.
Harry moved back a step as the doctor returned to talk to Doyle. He gripped the railing a little harder as a sudden wave of dizziness hit him, but managed to stay upright and hide his discomfort. Or so he thought.
"Harry, you should really lie down," Doyle said as the sanatorium doctor walked away again and he, Doyle, came to stand beside the magician. "You look a bit done in."
Harry released his hold on the railing and said, "I'm going to see what our friendly constable has found," he deflected. "Are you staying here?"
Harry took a deep breath while Doyle glanced back down the hall, and ordered his stomach to stay where it belonged.
"Yes," Doyle replied facing Harry again. "The doctor wants to run a few more tests and I want to just be here."
Harry nodded and headed for the stairs. "I can understand that. I'll let you know if we find anything interesting."
"Harry," Doyle called and Houdini looked back. "Thank you."
"For what? I haven't done anything, yet."
"Thank you for being happy about this," Doyle explained. "I know you think I'm a fool, but she's awake." Doyle smiled again. "So thank you for being happy for me … us."
Harry smiled back and said, "You should go be with your wife, Doc."
Harry didn't look any better in Adelaide's eyes when he met her at the station to go over the case. She tried to voice her concern, but Harry only deflected and said they should out for dinner again. Adelaide gave up and discussed their case.
"Right now we have no medical explanation for Batch's death," she said instead.
"We need that autopsy," Harry stated.
"There's just one problem," Harry pointed out. "Merring isn't going to approve us digging Batch up."
Adelaide tried to ignore the number of times she'd seen Harry swallowing during their short conversation. He is sick, she realized. Sick and trying to hide it. Why won't he just admit he doesn't feel well? She also noticed something else. "Where is Doctor Doyle?" she asked glancing around.
Harry told her about the note from Doyle and the evident recovery of Arthur's wife. "That's such good news," Adelaide exclaimed happily.
"Too bad he's convinced it was a miracle and not medicine that did the trick," Harry replied swallowing again and looking away.
"Well whatever the reason, I'm happy for him," she said. "We are going to need him, though, for this to work. Can you get him and meet me at the cemetery?"
Harry looked pointedly out the window. "You must think you can convince Merring pretty fast if you want us out there now. It's dark out."
Adelaide waved aside his observation and said, "I'll deal with the Chief, you just find the Doctor."
Harry shrugged and moved toward the door. "Whatever you say, Constable. We can probably be there in an hour."
Houdini however, was unashamed of his prying and explained there was a rational, medical, reason for Mrs. Doyle's recovery, but his argument was blunted as he winced in pain. While she asked if Harry was all right, she also noticed Doyle's mind switched from defending Downey's cure of his wife, to concern that Harry was unable to hide his discomfort.
Harry tried to deflect their anxiety and even batted away Doyle's hands when he tried to lift Houdini's shirt. Adelaide was relieved when Doyle didn't back down and insisted Harry let him see what was wrong.
Her relief lasted just long enough for Doyle to reveal a number of boils covering Harry's back. Doyle gave her a worried look as he dropped Harry's shirt tail and took the magician's arm to keep him from falling. "This is serious Harry, those boils need to be lanced and drained immediately, and you also have a fever. We need to figure out what's wrong with you."
Harry tried to stand up straight, but the pain must have been too much as Adelaide noticed he kept one hand firmly in the nearest headstone for balance and he also didn't try to shrug out of Arthur's hold on his arm. "It's not a plague sent from Downey," he stated as forcefully as he could.
Adelaide wasn't so sure and she could tell Doyle was just as concerned. "You still need medical attention," Doyle asserted taking charge. "Constable, I'll stay here and start the autopsy once the body is exhumed." He gave Harry's arm a slight shake and continued, "You take Mister Houdini and find someone to drain those boils."
Harry started to protest, but Adelaide only nodded to Doyle, took Harry's arm and walked him out of the cemetery, scooping up his suit coat from the ground as she did.
On Harry's insistence, Adelaide took him back to the Metropole and called for the house physician to look at Houdini's back.
She watched as the doctor expertly lanced each of the sores and worked a salve into the wounds. She was surprised the doctor didn't comment on the faded bruises she could see on Houdini's back from the bullets Lydia Belworth fired at him a few weeks ago, and decided the doctor was either too discreet or this wasn't the first time he had patched up the magician and it wasn't worth commenting.
Harry, for his part, refused to believe there was any supernatural reason for his illness. He was just sick, the doctor was fixing it, just like a doctor had cured Mrs. Doyle. Adelaide still wasn't convinced, but she dropped the topic once the doctor had bandaged each of the sores and helped Harry put on fresh shirt.
"Now," Harry said buttoning his vest and putting on a clean suit jacket. "Arthur must have found something by now to show how Mr. Batch died and that will put an end to this whole death by God business."
Adelaide briefly considered suggesting Harry stay behind and rest, but changed her mind when Harry held the door open and gestured for her to lead the way.
Once in a hansom and on the way to the coroner's office, Adelaide asked, "I was surprised I didn't see your mother at the hotel."
Harry smiled and replied, "She is at a country house party. Have you ever been to one of those, Constable?" When Adelaide shook her head, he continued, "Awful things really, you aren't missing much." Harry twitched and squirmed on the bench across from her.
Adelaide ignored his fidgeting and asked, "So, what's so terrible about them?"
"Everything! It's nothing but a meat market for unwed women to try and catch a husband."
Adelaide smiled. "Then why is your mother going?" she asked.
"Simple, she's never been to one before. She likes new experiences." Harry stared out the window as the cab arrived at the coroner's office. "I like that she can have them," he continued more to himself.
"Come on," he said as he climbed out of the cab and turned to offer her a hand out. "Let's go see what the famous Doctor Doyle has discovered."
"Is he …" she started to ask.
"Still alive," he told her distractedly as he tried to rouse the doctor.
Adelaide wondered how long he had been lying there and more importantly why he was unconscious. There was nothing in the room except the body still on the table. Nothing was knocked over or disturbed so it was unlikely the doctor had been attacked.
"I'm awake, I'm awake," Doyle said groggily after several slaps from Houdini.
She let out the breath she'd been holding and noticed Harry doing the same even as he helped Doyle to sit up and supported the doctor as they left the autopsy room to escape any more of the gas leaking from Batches body.
Adelaide listened to Doyle's hypothesis about cyanide and agreed the next step was admitting to Merring they had gone behind his back to investigate the case. He is not going to be pleased, she realized. Doyle slowly stood from the desk and took off the green surgical gown protecting his clothes. Adelaide led the way back outside with Doyle beside her and Houdini following a few steps behind.
In the cab on the way to headquarters, Adelaide observed her two friends with concern. Doyle seemed to be recovered from the gas attack though he looked a bit sallow. Mainly, he was just lost in thought. Or too tired to realize we're even here, she thought. Harry, however looked terrible. His face was the same color as his light grey suit and he was sweating again. He's getting worse, she thought sadly.
The meeting with Chief Merring was as expected. It only took him three minutes to declare he was going to fire me, Adelaide thought to herself with sarcastic humor. She was less amused when Doyle seemed to agree with her superior officer.
As Arthur and Harry started to argue about Downey, Adelaide tuned them out but she could see Merring wasn't so ready to forgive. He listed off the causes for the deaths of the other people who died after encounters with Downey and declared them a series of accidents thus proving, again, they had no real reason for disobeying his authority, but he grudgingly agreed there was now an actual murder to investigate.
Harry mumbled he had a show to do and left the office. Adelaide was stunned. He can barely stand, how is he going to do a show in his condition? She traded a worried look with Doyle but there was nothing they could do about it right now. Merring had acquiesced and they needed to continue the investigation.
Harry will be fine, she told herself. He knows what he's doing. Even her subconscious didn't believe what she was saying.
After spending the morning with Adelaide interviewing Mrs Batch, Doyle spent the afternoon at the sanatorium with his wife, bringing the children along for a visit with their mother. It was a happy time, even with Kingsley telling tales about Doyle setting the kitchen curtains on fire. I've so missed this, Doyle realized. We're a family again, all together, laughing, smiling. This is what Houdini can't understand. This is what I've tried so desperately to accomplish over the last months.
She's doing better, he thought smiling as the children climbed up on his wife's bed to tell her about school. Even stronger than when I saw her last night.
His happy mood lasted until a nurse brought a note in for Doyle.
Doyle felt his world shift as he read the note. The children were telling their mother all about a new classmate when Doyle looked up from the damning paper and glanced at his wife. She must have seen something in his face as she asked quietly, "Arthur? What's the matter?"
Something happened during Harry's show and he is at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. I can't get anyone to tell me what's happening and Chief Merring is insisting I stay here. Can you find out how he is and let me know? Florrie should be there and can hopefully give you the details. I will meet you there as soon as I can.
Doyle was torn. His family was here, all together, but Houdini was desperately ill and needed him as well. He folded the note and concealed it in his coat pocket as he looked away from the bed. Do I go or stay? He asked himself. "Umm, a friend has been in an accident," he said in a low voice. "I'm not sure how bad it is."
Doyle turned back to his wife and saw the empathy on her face. "Arthur, you should go," Touie said. "We'll be fine here and you can send Vera for the children later. Your friend needs you, too."
Doyle shook his head in amazement. "I do love you so much," he said as he stepped forward and kissed Touie on the forehead.
"There was a woman here," the doctor began.
"Florrie," Doyle identified. "She's his stage assistant." Doyle's attention was focused on the man lying in the bed, numerous cold compresses lined his torso in an attempt to cool the fever Doyle could see was even higher from earlier that morning at the cemetery.
"He's lucky she was there, she saved his life," the doctor continued.
"How? What happened to him?" Doyle asked again impatiently. He stood at the side of the bed, took Harry's wrist in one hand and started counting pulse beats. A little fast, but steady, he thought placing Harry's arm back on the bed and laying a hand on Harry's forehead to judge the fever for himself.
"He was attempting to escape from a water-filled glass tube, when he had a seizure; she broke the tank to get him out."
Doyle turned back to the doctor. "He had a seizure, underwater?" Doyle clarified. "So he nearly drowned is what you're telling me."
"We don't think so," the doctor showed Doyle a clipboard with Harry's medical information. "We didn't hear any fluid in his lungs and he appears to be breathing fine. But there is a persistent fever, various cuts from broken glass, his ankles are bruised and of course the boils on his back that we can't explain."
"And he's unconscious," Doyle pointed out.
"Yes, probably a result of the fever," the doctor replied. "We also took various x-rays to make sure there were no broken bones after the young woman told us what happened." The doctor hesitated. "You did say he was your patient, correct."
"I've treated him for a few things," Doyle admitted cagily. "Mainly over the past month or so."
The doctor placed some transparent cards on the bed table. "You might want to look at these then," he explained and left the room.
Doyle was still reading through the medical notes when he noticed Houdini's hand twitch. He came back to the bed and leaning over his patient slapped Harry awake.
As Harry opened his eyes and mumbled, Doyle let out a heart-felt sigh, "Thank goodness," he said softly with a slight smile. Then gave Harry one more slap and stood back.
"OK, I get it," Harry said groggily. Doyle watched as he looked around the room to get his bearings. "What am I doin' here," he slurred out and slowly sat up.
Doyle told him what happened during the show while he looked at the x-ray transparencies. Good lord, Doyle thought as he looked at the images. How does he even move. Badly healed ribs, vertebrae misaligned, dislocated shoulder at some point. He listened to Houdini's excuse of a high pain tolerance with disbelief. There is no way he isn't in pain all the time, something else he's been hiding. Arthur suddenly remembered their conversation after the nunnery, 'Nothing you can do, Doc. All part of the thrilling life.' And I left him alone after that. How many other people just ignored what their eyes were telling them?
Even as he catalogued the past injuries, an idea tickled the back of his mind. Downey could fix this, he realized. He could cure Harry's illness and possibly take some of this pain away.
Harry reaction to Doyle's idea was impressive. Not so much the content, which Doyle had heard before, but for the energy the sick man generated as he voiced his displeasure. Before Houdini could really get going, however, Adelaide appeared with information that Mrs Bates had been to the Rosewood Hotel to meet none other than Reverend Downey, before her husband was killed.
Doyle made a token effort to stop Harry getting dressed saying he needed to stay in bed and recover. Houdini simply ignored him and shucked off the hospital shift to put on his shirt.
As Harry stumbled down the last steps outside the Rosewood Hotel, Doyle grabbed his arm and kept him from falling. "You should go back to the hospital," Doyle told him, keeping a steady hand under Houdini's arm.
"No, I'm fi--," he started to mumble.
"Don't even say it," Doyle interrupted. "You are not fine. You need to be in bed, resting, not running after criminals."
"So you do admit Downey's a criminal, then," Harry said with a tiny smile. "That's progress I guess." Doyle just glared at him and Houdini finally said, "I'll go back to the hotel."
"Your mother should be there by now," Adelaide told him as she hailed a cab.
"My, my mother? What did you do?" Harry asked slowly looking around Doyle to see her.
"You look at confidential papers, and so do I," she explained as a cab stopped at the curb. Harry just glared weakly at her. "I went to your hotel room and found the invitation to the house party," she continued opening the door as Doyle helped Harry into the cab. "I sent a man up to the Robards Estate to tell her what happened at your show. I thought she should know," Adelaide said the last part quietly.
"Rightly so, Constable," Doyle said closing the door to the cab. "Listen to me, Harry." he said through the window. "You need to rest. Go back to your hotel and let your mother take care of you."
Harry slumped in a corner of the cab and nodded. "Good," Doyle said and he gave the cab driver the name of Houdini's hotel.
"Are you all right?" Doyle asked watching as Houdini swayed against the cane again.
Before Harry could answer, he collapsed. Doyle dimly heard Adelaide shout Harry's name, but he was only focused on the man on the ground. As he knelt beside Harry, he could feel the heat pouring off the other man and also the disturbing lack of sweat. He knew what was coming next and desperately wanted to spare the constable from seeing it.
"We need to get him cooled off, quickly," Doyle said glancing around the tent. "Ice, water, anything you can find, Constable." Doyle started removing Houdini's suit coat, vest and tie while he listened to Adelaide and Downey gather ice and water from the refreshment table.
Damn, stubborn fool, Doyle thought. What in the world was he even doing here in the first place.
Adelaide knelt next to Doyle and started to hand him several bundles of ice and a some water soaked cloths. Before he could take the items from from her, Harry started to seize. As the convulsions started, Doyle quickly turned Harry on his side, and pulled him up so Houdini's back braced against Doyle's chest. As he held the other man's lower jaw tightly to keep him from biting his tongue; Doyle's free hand gripped Harry's arm across his, Harry's, chest to control some of the flailing.
He heard the soft cry from the constable still beside him, but couldn't do much to console her at the moment. She shouldn't be here, a small part of him realized. "Constable," he said aloud.
When she didn't respond, he tried again, still holding Harry tightly as he shook. "Adelaide!"
At the sound of her given name, Adelaide startled and turned to face him. Doyle knew the fear he saw in her eyes was mirrored on his own face.
"We need to get him back in a hospital," he explained as gently as he could. The convulsions were slowing and Arthur eased his grip on Harry's arm. "Go see what you can find in the way of a cab, car, or wagon, I don't care what. But we need something quickly."
Harry had stopped thrashing and laid limp and unconscious in Arthur's arms. Adelaide took one last look at him and ran from the tent.
Once the seizure stopped completely, Doyle shed his own coat and folded it under Houdini's head. He took off Harry's shirt, placed the bundles of ice under Harry's arms and along his sides, then began wetting down his torso with the cloths, dipping them back into a pitcher Downey placed beside him as the material absorbed the heat from Harry's body.
Adelaide came back in the tent a few minutes later and said she had found a vehicle. Doyle nodded and dropped the cloth back in the pitcher. As he started to pick Houdini up and he was surprised to see Downey reach down for Harry's legs.
"Did my sister do this to him?" Downey asked softly as Doyle grasped Harry under the arms and lifted.
At the mention of Jane, Doyle looked around and was relieved to see Adelaide standing next to her prisoner, one hand holding Jane's arm. Good girl, he thought proudly.
"I don't know," Doyle answered as they stumbled out of the tent and Doyle saw a hansom waiting for them on the road. "I doubt it," he tried to reassure the faith healer.
Downey only looked away and shook his head. "I thought I was healing them," he whispered.
Thinking of Touie waiting for him at the sanatorium, Doyle, replied, "And it could be you were. Jane's actions shouldn't take away from the what you did for those people; for me."
The cab was a tight fit with the four of them. Doyle sat with his back against one side of the cab with Houdini against his chest. He continued to run the wet cloths over Harry's torso and arms with the pitcher of water Downey placed in the cab as Adelaide and Jane got in and sat on the opposite side. Harry was mumbling and twitching but never woke up; Doyle hoped there wouldn't be another seizure in the cab on the way to the hospital.
Adelaide glanced back into the room as a nurse rushed by, a basin of icy water in her hands.
"I will let you know the moment he is awake," Doyle promised and after another hesitation, Adelaide merely nodded to him and left.
As the nurses continued to sponge off the fevered, unconscious man, Doyle sat in a corner of the room and analysed what he knew now and compared the new information against several medical texts scattered on the table in front of him. The only bright spot through the ordeal was Doyle discovered the boils at least were disappearing.
Maybe Doctor Kasad's treatment did something after all, Doyle thought as he read through the notes made from Harry's hospital stay the day before. Is it an infection of some kind? he considered. That would explain the fever and the boils. Doyle was at a loss to explain the illness and realized Harry was at least partially right; if he was going to get better it would be from his own constitution, medicine wasn't going to be enough.
"Doctor," one of the nurses called and turned to Doyle a look of relief on her face.
Doyle hurried over to the bed and noticed Houdini was sweating. Finally, Doyle thought as he stood at the edge of the bed and placed a hand on Harry's forehead. The younger man was still warm, but the fever had definitely broken.
It was another hour before Harry stopped sweating and the nurses could change his hospital shift as well as the bedding, and clean him up. Harry was unaware of all of this as he slept. At least it is sleep, Doyle thought as he sat beside the bed.
Adelaide arrived soon after Doyle sent her a message letting her know the worst was hopefully now over. He gave her his chair and stood at the end of the bed watching both of them.
"He's really going to be all right?" Adelaide asked laying a hand gently on Harry's arm.
"I think so," Doyle answered. "The fever is almost gone, the boils have all disappeared. He's going to sleep for awhile, though, and be rather weak for the next few days."
Adelaide made a noise halfway between and sob and a laugh. "Do you think that will slow him down any?"
Doyle smiled slightly and looked back at the sleeping man in the bed.
Before he could answer, Adelaide whispered, "He scares me."
Doyle gave her a puzzled look. "Scares you how?"
She glanced up at him with a watery smile. "First, that insane plan getting shot in the back and now this, collapsing twice in as many days."
"He didn't get sick on purpose, Constable," Doyle defended.
"I know that," she replied sadly. "It's just … I don't like seeing him hurt. And I know he's going to keep doing insane things. It scare me."
Doyle could sympathize. He wasn't sure when exactly it was Harry stopped being an adversary and became a friend. Maybe that night after the case at the laundry, Doyle thought. He remembered the look on Harry's face as the water in the pit rose above their heads as well as the grip on his coat as Harry refused to let him go after Adelaide found them.
Doyle sighed as he came around the bed to lay a hand on Adelaide's shoulder. "That worries me, too," he admitted. "But he isn't going to change, so we will just have to get used to it, I suppose." Adelaide just nodded and gave Doyle a another weary smile.
There was a low moan from the bed and Doyle stepped forward to check his patient.
"Every time I open my eyes, I gotta see your face?" Harry asked blearily and Doyle smiled.
"Good afternoon to you to," Doyle replied.
Doyle was relieved to hear Houdini's sense of humor was intact, the fever had been high enough there could have been permanent damage to Harry's brain, he didn't believe for a moment, however, that Harry was at the revival tent to look for a cufflink.
The conversation quickly tired the younger man, and Doyle insisted they would leave so Harry could sleep. He headed toward the door with Adelaide in tow when Harry called from the bed, "Hey, Doc?" Doyle turned back to see Harry watching him. "Thanks," he said simply. Doyle nodded and stood in the door a few more minutes as Harry went back to sleep.
Standing the in hall, Doyle took a moment to relish their success. Touie was recovering, Harry was going to be all right as well. They'd caught a murderer. Harry would add something about debunking a faith healer, he thought to himself and walked out of the hospital.
He stopped at the town-house to pick up the basket of food for his dinner date with Touie, and with a light step, headed out to the sanatorium. Maybe the doctor will even say she can come home soon, he thought happily.
'Downey lost his faith and you had a miraculous recovery,' Doyle remembered Adelaide's words from earlier that afternoon. Was that the answer, he agonized. Harry is healed and I lose Touie instead?
Doyle stared out the window; he couldn't stop the small noise that escaped his throat. The sound was either louder than he thought, or Harry wasn't as soundly asleep as he assumed. The man in the bed shifted slightly and asked groggily, "What's going on?"
Doyle came over to the bed, bringing a chair with him. He sat by the bed and quietly answered, "It's just me, go back to sleep."
"Doc?" Harry asked, waking up further and sitting up slightly. "What's the matter?"
Doyle didn't want to answer; if he said it out loud, there was no going back. Touie would be gone, maybe this time forever. "Arthur?" Houdini asked again. "Talk to me, what's happened?"
Doyle ducked his head away and mumbled, "She's gone."
He felt Harry's hand on his arm and looked back at the other man. Harry's face was still pale from the illness but his eyes were full of sympathy as he asked, "Touie? Is she … "
Doyle smiled slightly as he realized Houdini had thought the worst, Or is this the worst, this limbo between life and death. "Not dead," he said, "But unresponsive again. The doctor can't explain why."
Harry's grip on his arm tightened slightly before he let go and said, "Arthur, I'm sorry."
Doyle acknowledged the statement with a nod. "I don't know what to tell the children," he admitted. "They were so happy to see her again. Now I have to tell them she … may never come home." Doyle's throat tightened at the thought.
Harry sank tiredly back into the bed and Doyle remembered Houdini was still recovering from a serious illness of his own. "You need rest," he admonished. "I should go."
Harry reached a hand out to him, and Doyle stopped. "I'll do whatever I can to help, Arthur," Harry told him and Doyle could see the sincerity in his statement. "I mean that, just let me know."
Doyle nodded and helped Houdini resettle on the bed. "Thank you, Harry."
Doyle walked toward the door; he glanced back at Houdini in time to see the other man's eyes drift shut, then he quietly closed the door and stood in the hall. He took a deep breath and set his shoulders. He left the hospital for the town-house to break the sad news to his family.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 03 (con't)
I never want to suffer through these past three days again. The good news is we caught a murderer, I still have my job, and Harry will be fine with a few more days rest. He's driving Doctor Doyle mad however, and I may be called to investigate Mr Houdini's murder soon.
I think he's acting like this for Arthur. The Doctor has fallen into a blue funk the last few days, and Harry is determined to keep his, Doyle's, spirits up in spite of the sad news about Mrs. Doyle. Every time Arthur seems to get lost in his own pain, Harry is there, threatening to leave the hospital, each getaway more outrageous than the last just to get Doctor Doyle to smile. Or he starts planning even more fantastic escapes for his show while a new water tank is built. I think I even heard him say he was going to convince Doyle's children to run away and become entertainers.
I'm also hoping the Doctor was so distracted with his wife and Houdini that he didn't notice my comment about grieving for a lost spouse. I covered my statement by saying I knew about it from watching my mother, but I'm not sure Arthur believed me. I don't think I'm ready for the pair of them to start investigating my past. I told Harry at our dinner after arresting Lydia Belworth there might be skeletons in my own closet he would be surprised to discover and one has appeared, unfortunately.
Nigel Pennington has written to me again. Ha says he has something important to tell me and honestly, I'm not sure I want to know what it is; he was really only my husband's friend. Husband. Imagine what Doctor Doyle and Harry Houdini would do if they ever found out that secret.
From internet researching, the best I can figure is Houdini had a staph infection, fairly common but can get nasty. The problem is in 1901 doctors were only beginning to learn about antibiotics, so the poor boy had to suffer through without any help.
Chapter 4: Something Wicked
Dialog for the episode Spring Heel'd Jack written by Carl Binder
The Private Diary of Adelaide Stratton
It's been a fortnight since my last entry and while we've had an interesting case or two that I won't go into to now, I have noticed during those investigations the three of us are very preoccupied at the moment.
Doctor Doyle's distraction is probably the most obvious to understand as his wife has not improved any since the night she slipped back into an unresponsive state. He's trying so hard to put a brave face forward, but if you know how to look, and I'm getting pretty good at seeing the signs, things are not going well for Mrs. Doyle. There are moments when we're walking along the street, or he's just reading something from the paper, he's gets this look, sort of wistful and sad. I've tried to ask him about it, but he only smiles at me and changes the subject. He also has the children to worry about; they must be devastated after the joyful moments they shared when she was awake.
Harry Houdini is doubly distracted. He has a new show about to open and has spent so much time in preparation for it, as well as investigating cases with us (once he recovered enough to leave the hotel) I'm not sure when, or even if, he sleeps. He's also watching Doctor Doyle more closely; he's more protective and doesn't suffer anyone disparaging the doctor's ideas (except himself of course). I suspect they had some conversations while Harry was recovering from his illness that I am not privy to as their friendship is more overt than in the past few months we've worked together.
I haven't escaped, either. I'm not sure what to do about Nigel Pennington. He is becoming more persistent in his wishes, demands?, to talk with me. I'm worrying about this more and more and I'm sure Arthur and Harry are going to suspect something soon, if they don't already.
Arthur entered the morning room to find the same oppressive air as the last week or more. Touie was again unresponsive and Doyle would admit to himself that her condition was looking bleak. However, he felt he must keep a positive attitude for the children and entered with a brittle sense of cheer as he sat between them at the breakfast table.
I don't think I've seen either of them smile in a week, he thought to himself as he listened to Kingsley describe his story about a knight killing dragons. Mary only picked at the toast on her plate, and Doyle noted she only nibbled at the bread even after he asked her to eat. Mary needs her mother, they both do. He wasn't sure how much longer he could keep lying to his children, he knew the odds of Touie recovering and ever coming home were next to nothing, the terrible reality of being a doctor. He just didn't want to shatter his children's childhoods quite yet.
The phone ringing saved him from any more maudlin thoughts.
"Hello?" he said picking up the device.
"Doctor Doyle?" Constable Stratton responded. " It's Adelaide Stratton. I have an interesting situation outside an apartment building. It's not far from the theater Harry is using and I've called him as well."
Doyle glanced back at the breakfast table and sadly noted Mary had left the room, the toast uneaten on her plate. Kingsley was still writing his story and ignoring the phone conversation.
"I can be there soon, Constable. There is something I need to wrap up here, first." He nodded a few times and noted the address Adelaide gave him, then hung up the phone.
"Kingsley, where did your sister go, you need to get ready for school?" Doyle asked, coming back to the table.
Kingsley shrugged as he gathered up the pages of his story. "She said she needed to get her books," the boy replied not really looking at his father.
Doyle sat at the table again in weary resignation once Kingsley left the room. He thought of his own childhood, the issues with his father, watching men take his father away. His world ended at the age of ten. He didn't want that for his own children. When Touie told him she was with child, he had made a promise to that nascent life that he would be better than his own father. He would be less distant, more loving toward his own offspring. Now he was faced with the real possibility of raising two children alone and he feared doing more harm than good.
Doyle heard Mary and Kingsley coming back down the stairs and he stood to meet them at the front door. Vera was helping them with coats and Arthur wiped the worry from his face as he sent them along to school.
"Vera," he said as the housekeeper closed the door to the town-house. "Constable Stratton called; she has a case and she would like me to consult. I'm not sure what my schedule will look like the next day or so with regard to meals and the like."
"Yes, sir," Vera said noncommittally.
"I wonder if," Doyle hesitated. "Mary seems especially low of late." he started again. "I wonder, would it be possible to make her something special for supper tonight. Something to cheer her up a bit."
Vera smiled and nodded. "Not a problem at all, sir. I'll see to it, I know just the thing."
Doyle smiled his thanks, took his hat from the stand, and left the house to see what interesting case Scotland Yard had now.
"Oh, very understated," Doyle said sarcastically stopping to stand next to the younger man.
Harry wasn't phased by the tone and replied, "I know. It needs to be flashier." Harry continued to stare at the poster with a critical eye. "Come on, his most incredible escape?" he asked. "His most hair-raising escape," he started thinking of alternatives to the text. "His most heart pounding escape."
"How about death-defying," Doyle tossed out. He could not understand why people paid money to watch his friend escape … well death … on a nightly basis. Of course he also didn't really understand why Harry did his crazy escapes, either.
"Oh, well done. You oughta consider writing." Doyle could hear the teasing in Harry's voice and only rolled his eyes as he led the way to the crime scene still two blocks away.
Harry's performances led Doyle's mind back to the endless loop of worry, fear, anxiety associated with Touie and the children. As Houdini fell into step beside him, Arthur forced his mind to think of something else and instead pondered the complexities of his friend. No, he's anything but subtle, Doyle considered as they walked. Is it part of being an American, Doyle wondered. He can be closed off certainly, usually when he's hurt or ill, but most of the time his emotions are an open book.
Harry, for his part, walked along in companionable silence. Doyle watched how he tracked people and objects as they walked. Waving or smiling at the people who called out his name.
"Doesn't that ever bother you?" Doyle asked after yet another stranger called out to the magician. He himself had a rather uneasy relationship with the fans of his books. At best they were polite, though since he'd killed off Holmes, most were now haughty or felt free to tell him exactly why they thought he was an idiot.
Houdini grinned. "Well, I at least, didn't kill off their favorite fictional character for a start," he replied, eyes twinkling, seeming to read Doyle's mind. Doyle tried to glare back at the other man, but Harry's sense of humor prevented him from meaning it. "It's what I do, Doc. I make people happy."
Arriving at the crime scene, Doyle and Harry listened as Adelaide explained what happened the night before to Barrett Underhill. It sounded like a garden variety murder, or weird accident, nothing mysterious or supernatural. At least not until the doorman told his story of seeing a gravity-defying creature leaping from the roof of the building.
Harry waited until the doorman returned to his post and the trio had walked half a block away, before he started laughing. "A dark phantom, leaping from the roof?" he asked. "Come on, what was he drinking last night?"
"There have been stories," Doyle started to explain.
"Stories don't kill people," Houdini asserted.
Doyle shook his head. "Those stories had to come from somewhere," he retorted.
Doyle watched as Harry took a deep breath and let it out again. "The stories were there to explain the unexplainable," Harry said patiently. "We can explain these things now. That's what science is for."
"Either way we still need to report to Chief Merring and see what he wants us to do," Adelaide interjected stepping between the two men stopping the argument.
"Does Chief Merring know we're coming?" Doyle asked as he followed her toward the police station.
He was surprised Adelaide looked guilty. "Not exactly," she said with a small smile.
"I really think Merring is starting to warm up to us," Harry said as he watched Doyle read through a listing of stables in the London area. Arthur added another name to the running list at his elbow and looked up from his research.
"Somehow I doubt it," Doyle said in a low voice. "We're going to need transport to get to a few of these," he added after another moment. "I think I have just the thing." He jotted a note on a spare piece of paper and gave it to one of the many boys used for running errands. "It will take him about fifteen minutes to delivery the note and get back with what we need. In the meantime you can help me clear away this mess before Constable Stratton sees the state of her desk."
Doyle gathered together his notes and files and started to protest as Houdini put on his suit coat and headed for the door. "It really wouldn't hurt you any to help," he said to the empty space near the desk where Harry had been standing.
A few minutes later the pair walked out of the station and Doyle stopped at an automobile parked at the curb.
"This will do, then," he said reaching into the front of the automobile for a hand crank. He handed the crank to a gaping Houdini and walked around to the other side and climbed aboard.
Harry stood with the crank in his hand, staring from Doyle to the roadster and back again. "When did you buy a car?" he asked.
"It was ordered several months ago, but I've only had it a few weeks," Doyle answered smiling to himself as he watched Harry. It's not often you get to surprise a magician, he thought. "Just give it a crank so we can go. Tuttle's Livery is on the outskirts of town."
Doyle manipulated the choke and gave Harry a nod to turn the crank and with a cough and a slight jolt, the roadster started.
The conversation as they drove along was pleasant enough until Houdini asked about Adelaide and her catarrh. The reminder of an illness turned Arthur's thoughts back again to his sick wife and the happy moment ended. He heard the worry in Harry's voice as he tried to get him to open up; but Doyle refused to unbend, to show any of the fear he felt for his wife. I'm not like you, he thought glancing at his passenger. 'The world doesn't like a whinger', echoed in his mind from the past.
Doyle was sorting files when he heard something out of place, it almost sounded like laughter. He waited a moment and when the sound came again he decided to investigate; though he'd missed the sound of his children happy, giggling children rarely meant anything good.
As he followed the sound of his children's laughter, he heard a new noise, a voice he was very familiar with, encouraging one of them to pick a card. Doyle stopped in the hall in shock. He had sent Houdini a note asking him stop come by the town-house; he'd wanted to show Harry just how much evidence there was for a historical phantom in the city. He had expected Harry to come in the front door and meet Doyle in his study; as usual, though, Houdini did the unexpected instead.
He must have come to the kitchen door, Doyle thought. He suddenly remembered something Harry told him the night he found Touie unresponsive again. 'I'll do whatever I can to help … Just let me know.' Harry had tried to help him in the auto this afternoon. Now he was making the effort to help his children.
He heard laughter again and peered around the door to see what was happening. Harry saw him immediately but ignored him in favor of telling Kingsley they needed to find the missing card.
He watched as Harry made his sextant disappear and then felt a wave of pride as Kingsley said he wanted to be a writer when he grew up. Harry glanced up at him, Doyle, almost as if to say, See they're fine, and then of course ruined it by proclaiming writers just got fat sitting behind a desk.
"That's enough of that, thank you. Run along, children," Doyle said joining them.
Harry continued to smile after the children left the room.
"Thank you for that," Doyle said nodding toward the door the children had left through moments before. "There hasn't been much laughter around here of late."
Houdini tucked the red handkerchief back up his sleeve, the sextant was still missing Doyle noted. "It's not a problem, Doc. I said I'd help any way I could, this is me helping."
Doyle wanted to say something more, but couldn't bring himself to admit, even to Harry, his true fears. Instead, he laid a hand on Harry's shoulder, squeezed once and led the way back to his office.
I should really think twice before doing things, Harry thought to himself as he walked away from Miss Kroshenko's house. His spine and ankles had not appreciated the jolting from his landing outside the garden door and he hoped the walk would be enough to ease the ache.
He walked a few blocks from the house, just enough to buy a bouquet of flowers and make sure he wasn't spotted by Doyle, then hopped a cab out to Adelaide's flat. Adelaide missing out on an investigation was odd and he wanted to make sure she was all right without listening to Doyle tease him about her refusal to go on another date with him.
His surprise being discovered by Doyle was nothing compared to Adelaide's anger when she found the pair of them in her flat. No amount of smiling, explaining or apologizing worked, she threw them both out and slammed the door behind them.
"That could have gone better," Harry said to Doyle as they climbed the steps back to the street. "I told you we should have stayed outside." Houdini smiled as Doyle rolled his eyes.
"The point is, though, she is obviously not ill," Doyle said, looking back down the stairs into the kitchen window. He could see Adelaide pacing back and forth across the small room. "Who is this Nigel Pennington person and why won't she tell us about him."
"Good point," Harry replied. "And did you notice, she wasn't dressed for visiting dusty, dirty stables. She looked like she'd just come from a park or something."
They walked along in silence for a block before Harry said, "I still think Tuttle is up to something. I'm gonna go see if I can find him and find out what he's hiding." When Doyle gave him a disbelieving look, Harry continued, "No, really. I'm really going to find Tuttle. Why don't you see what you can dig up on this Nigel Pennington person."
Houdini found Tuttle as the livery and waited for most of the afternoon for the man to leave. When the livery owner entered a brothel a few miles from the stable Harry couldn't help but smile evilly to himself. Arthur will absolutely hate this, he thought to himself even as he sent a boy off with a note to Doyle saying where he, Harry, was waiting for him.
Houdini entered the brothel and greeted the girls with smiles and kisses. He explained whom he was looking for and was directed to Sophie in one of the public rooms of the house. He bought her a bottle of wine and a quart of milk for himself, listened to what she could tell him about Tuttle, and waited for the show.
Harry wasn't disappointed in his entertainment as forty-five minutes later, he heard Doyle stammering and explaining his way through the brothel.
"You couldn't have met me outside?" Doyle asked.
Harry just stared at him. "Could've." he replied cheekily glancing from Doyle to Sophie and back.
Harry watched Doyle's face as he heard Sophie's story about Tuttle and the fact that he was at the brothel the night of the two attacks.
"We should let Constable Stratton know about Tuttle," Doyle said a few minutes later outside the brothel.
Harry nodded and started to walk down the street. "She would have to be speaking to us first, you know."
Doyle grimaced in agreement. "We could tell Sergeant Gudgett about Tuttle's alibi; there's no reason for the police continuing to investigate him at this point."
"Did you find out anything about Pennington while was I was busy with Tuttle?" Harry asked changing the subject.
"Not much. I have a friend at the paper who thinks he's heard the name before. This friend is going to look through the archive for me and let me know if he finds anything."
"I don't understand it," Harry mused. "What's so scary about this man that she won't let us help her?"
"Obviously she feels it's none of our business, " Doyle replied. "She is rather independent, maybe she feels she needs to handle this alone."
Houdini shook his head. Why won't she trust us … me, he thought as he walked along.
"If someone out of your past came back and started sending you telegrams and wanting to explain something, would you tell us about it?" Doyle challenged. "You are both eager to help others, but so afraid to accept help when you need it," he finished.
Harry stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked a few paces in silence. You're one to talk, Doc. Forgotten our conversation in the automobile the other day already have you?
"No," he finally said. "A few months ago, I would have dealt with something like that alone. I would have thought it wasn't anyone's problem but my own." Harry sighed. "But now? Now, I'm not so sure. I've spent most of my life dealing with things alone. It's kind of nice knowing there are one or two people willing to help out if I need it."
He could see Doyle was surprised by his answer. "In that case we can only hope the Constable, eventually comes to the same conclusion," the doctor said, turning toward his town-house while Houdini crossed the street and headed back to the Metropole Hotel.
The cab ride to Scotland Yard was made mostly in silence. Adelaide had already left the scene by the time Harry caught up with Doyle so the two men shared a cab. Harry sat and considered something else he'd heard that morning instead of continuing to bicker at Arthur. More attacks, random attacks. What if they weren't so random?
Harry stepped from the cab still considering the wild idea he'd just had. "I just had a thought."
Doyle stopped before entering the building and turned around. "What sort of thought?"
"It was something Biggs said, and Adelaide. How many attacks were there overnight?" Harry asked pacing back and forth in front of the station.
"According to the Constable, several, not counting Mr. Ogilvy."
"Right, and Biggs mentioned a couple more. Several attacks all scattered around town."
Doyle stared at Harry and said impatiently, "Yes, what's your point?"
Harry stopped pacing and faced Arthur. "My point is we can't prove most of them. People are just saying they've seen something."
"Which rather proves they saw something," Doyle interrupted.
"But what did they see, Doc? That's the question." Harry thought for a moment then said, "Have you ever heard of something called mass hysteria?"
Doyle scoffed and turned back to the door of the station. "Your grand idea is this is all in people's heads?" He asked incredulously.
"Yes. And I can prove it." Harry opened the door to look for Constable Stratton and randomly scratched at his arm.
The experiment quickly escalated and Harry had to yell to be heard over the screaming as people thought they were under a strange attack. It proved his point however, that most if not all of the sightings of Spring Heel'd Jack were false.
Truth be told, Doyle was still feeling guilty about the break-in of Stratton's flat and he wanted to make amends. He'd tried while at the station with Harry by offering to help Adelaide research Ogilvy's renters and recent evictions, but she was obviously still angry with him and refused his peace offering.
Harry also wasn't much help saying he needed to get ready for a show and left the station for the theater. Doyle wondered how he still had an audience since more and more people were staying indoors in fear of a possible attack.
Since Adelaide apparently didn't need his help, Doyle went back to the newspaper office to find out what his friend had found about Pennington. The newspaper man didn't disappoint. He had a picture of Pennington ready when Doyle arrived and a fistful of papers describing how the man was as loose with with his business principles as he was his morals.
Armed with this new information, Doyle wasn't really sure what to do with it. It was getting dark and he really should have gone home to the children, but he was still a gentleman, and thoughts of Adelaide walking through some of the less reputable areas of town to get home sent him back to the station instead.
Should I tell her what I found out about Pennington? Doyle wondered as he followed Adelaide through an alley. How do I explain even knowing he exists? he argued with himself. Harry, of course, would probably just tell her and damn the consequences, but he wasn't that impetuous and wanted Adelaide to know he … they … wanted to help not pry into her private concerns. Even if that's exactly what you are doing, he admonished himself.
He wasn't paying attention and earned a cosh to the ear by none other than Constable Stratton. As he tried once again to explain himself and apologize for breaking into her home, he realized Adelaide was only becoming more and more upset with him. Finally she stormed off and around the corner. You're only making things worse like this, he told himself. She just needs time. She's upset, and justifiably angry and you're only making it worse by pushing at her.
Doyle was ready to give it up and go home when he heard footsteps in the alley behind him. He turned to watch a man, Pennington? stop where Adelaide had turned. If he follows her, I'm following him, Arthur decided. Under no circumstance, would he leave Adelaide to deal with him alone, he'd never forgive himself if she was hurt because he'd left. Doyle waited until the man turned to leave then decided he needed to find the only other person he could trust. He went to find Harry.
Leaving aside Houdini's smoking habit, Doyle explained what he knew about Pennington and how the man was following Adelaide on her way home. Harry called him on following the Constable himself, and voiced again his frustration in Adelaide for not telling them about the mystery man.
"You'd think she'd come to trust us by now," Houdini said.
"Is that concern I detect, or jealousy?" Doyle asked. He watched as Harry leaned more and more against the sofa. Speaking of concern … He decided to test Harry's newfound resolve to ask for help himself and asked about the opium. He was pleased to note Harry didn't deny he was smoking but it wasn't until after he left the hotel he realized Harry had openly discussed his dual sense of fear and thrill of living in the moment and had avoided the question of pain. There must be something other than opium smoking that would help, Doyle thought remembering the x-rays he'd reviewed a few weeks ago.
Doyle walked back to the town-house and considered his two friends. Adelaide was in obvious trouble regarding Pennington but refused to ask for help. Why? Pride? Fear? Was she worried for herself or for him and Houdini? She seemed unaware Pennington was following her, did she even know he was in London? She was distracted from the phantom case because of him that was for certain.
He entered his office and sat behind the desk. Then there was Houdini and his uniquely American way of thinking. 'It's only when you admit you're afraid, that fear loses its power over you.' It was completely counter to everything Doyle knew. He was taught to deny fear, that any sort of fear only made you weak. Over the past month, Doyle had denied any number of fears, number one his fear of Touie dying. But he was also afraid of how to raise two children alone. He had been afraid a few weeks ago when Harry was so ill he thought he would lose his friend. He feared becoming his father. 'It's only when you admit you're afraid …'
Harry had recovered from his illness as healthy as ever. Well as healthy as he can be, Doyle amended. And Houdini had shown him the children were happy enough and at the same time unwittingly proved Arthur was nothing like his own father. Three fears knocked on the head, Doyle realized smiling slightly at the realization. His moment of clarity abruptly ended when Kingsley started screaming for him.
He listened to her explain how she had found a link between Mr Ogilvy and Miss Kroshenko and agreed after speaking to the young woman again, they probably had their Spring Heel'd Jack dead to rights in the form of a Russian gymnast.
Constable Stratton was thorough in her questioning of Vladimir Palinov and Doyle wandered over to a nearby prep stand as he listened to her questions.
"I'm here every night," Palinov said defensively. "Speak to people I work with. You will see, I am not responsible."
"Not responsible for what exactly?" Doye interrupted and Harry stepped between Palinov and the wagon to prevent him from disappearing.
"These chemicals, when mixed the correct way would give off the effects reported by witnesses who saw Spring Heel'd Jack, namely the red eyes and the blue flames."
Palinov moved toward Doyle and the table and Harry stayed in step with the Russian.
"I told you. It wasn't my idea," Palinov said again. "All I did was what I was told."
"Who was giving the orders, then?" Harry asked as he stood next to Doyle and made sure the Russian didn't try to run.
All of the were shocked when Palinov told them.
"Why wouldn't it work," Harry asked. "I've already shown you how he leapt over Miss Kroshenko's garden wall. This isn't any different."
"Of course, this is different," Doyle said, exasperated. "A six foot wall is not the same as a five story building. You miss your footing this time and you could be seriously hurt."
"So I won't miss. Relax, Doc. All I have to do is confront him and hopefully he confesses right there. If he doesn't, well Adelaide already has Palinov's statement and we can still arrest him."
"We really need the confession, though, Mr. Houdini. English courts like to have cases neatly tied together," Adelaide said coming into the station room where Harry was changing. "Mr. Palinov is booked and waiting for his court date. It would be nice to have both of them in that courtroom together."
"I'll get him to confess," Harry said again, and walked over to a map on the desk. "The rag he writes for is here, on Fleet Street. He has to go through this alley to get back to his flat." Harry pointed to the area on the map. "If you two wait in the alley, I'll set him up there and then all three of us can act as witnesses to his confession." Harry looked a Doyle as he emphasised the last word.
Doyle didn't realize he was holding his breath until Adelaide nudged him and said, "Breathe." He had to admit Harry did look a very convincing Spring Heel'd Jack himself as he followed Biggs into the alley from the rooftops above. He and Adelaide heard every word of Biggs' confession of hiring the Russian to act the part of Jack in order to sensationalize his Spring Heel'd Jack story.
As Adelaide handcuffed the newspaper writer and led him away, Harry slumped against the wall of the alley. Doyle, concerned he had managed to hurt himself somehow after all, leaned against the wall next to him and waited.
"What's the matter?" he finally asked when Houdini showed no inclination to speak.
"I guess I never really thought about it before," he replied taking off the costume gloves and stuffing them into the mask in his arms. "Biggs and other reporters always wrote up big stories about me and my act. I always saw it as added fun for the show. They talked it up big and I gave a big performance. I always thought people coming to my shows got their money's worth."
Doyle watched Harry's face as he spoke and was surprised to see guilt in his eyes. "It's not really the same thing, you know," he said kindly. "As you said, they sold the public on the idea of spectacle and you gave your audience just that."
Harry seemed unconvinced and Doyle wasn't used to being in the position of reassuring the younger man. "Come on," Doyle said clapping a hand on Harry's shoulder. "We need to find Constable Stratton and get back to the station before you start another Spring Heel'd Jack rumor."
Harry shook himself out of his dour mood and Doyle followed him out of the alley.
Doyle knew he was going to regret asking, but did it anyway. "Why this man? Of all the cases we've solved, why him?"
Harry slowed to a stop and looked around. People were back out on the streets, children playing, women, men going about their lives again. "Because he is worse than a lot of those people," he said in a low voice. "Mind readers, fortune tellers, they fool and swindle a few dozen people. Biggs? He terrorized the whole city. Your kids were afraid to go to school. My mother wouldn't leave the hotel."
Houdini started walking again and they were soon at the lockup. "You don't have to come in and you don't have to wait," he said at the door.
Fifteen minutes later, Harry came out and Doyle was waiting for him. "Well?" he asked. "Do you feel better now?"
"Not really," Harry admitted. He didn't elaborate and Doyle wasn't ready for another verbal sparring match, he had another friend to check on that afternoon.
At the corner, Harry mumbled something about his show and turned toward the theater. Doyle continued on to Scotland Yard and was in time to see Adelaide leaving.
As he followed behind her, he realized she was heading back to her flat. He was at the top of the stairs in the same alley where she had hit him with the cosh when he spotted Pennington waiting for her. He watched Adelaide break away from the businessman and hurry away. Doyle decided enough was enough.
"I won't let you harm her," he told Pennington after stopping the man heading out of the alley.
"I intend nothing of the sort, I'm merely a friend of her husband." Pennington walked away.
Married? She's married? Why would she keep something like that a secret? he wondered. At least now he knew why she wouldn't go out to dinner with Houdini. Harry. Should I tell him about this? He should know about this latest encounter with Pennington at least.
He started at the theater and was surprised to discover Houdini wasn't there and hadn't been there since his last performance. He also wasn't at the hotel according to the manager. So where is he, then. He remembered Harry's mood after his meeting with Biggs and found the magician outside the row of apartments where Underhill died almost a week ago.
He told Harry about Adelaide's secret, Houdini told Doyle about Biggs' admission he didn't hire Palinov until after Underhill was dead. As they walked back along the sidewalk, Doyle spotted a new advertisement for the magician's show. Houdini's head still loomed over the street but now was the size of the entire advertising block for the building. He also noticed the new phrasing included his death-defying suggestion.
"Oh yes, that's much better," he exclaimed staring up at the artwork.
Harry laughed as they walked by the wall and explained, "I have this friend who thinks he's a writer. He came up with that great slogan. Death-defying … it really sort of says everything."
Doyle smiled at the teasing and they walked along enjoying the city and the restored bustling life of its citizens.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 04 (con't)
Doyle knows something. I'm not sure what, but he followed me home a few nights ago and was kind and solicitous and asking after me. If I'm honest, I might even have told him some of it at least if I hadn't also found both the doctor and Houdini breaking into my flat. I'm still rather mad about that actually. Whatever Doyle knows, though, it's a sure bet Houdini knows as well.
Nigel Pennington found me on my way home today. He stopped me, tried to grab me and insisted he needed to tell me something about Benjamin. I suspect he found out about my quiet investigation and wants me to stop, for my own good of course.
Maybe I should talk to Arthur and Harry about Benjamin. If anyone would actually listen and not immediately dismiss my idea, it would be them. I hope however to have the whole thing sorted soon and they never need know how my husband died; or that I even had a husband.
Chapter 5: Visions and Deductions
Dialog for the episode The Curse of Korzah written by Joshua Brandon
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 05 Visions and Deductions
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
I haven't seen Arthur or Harry at the station for a few days. I know Arthur mentioned a new piece for Strand Magazine, so he must be off writing. Harry has been with his mother, there was a photograph of them together at one party or another published in one of the scandal rags this morning. No, I don't read those sheets, heavens. But several constables and bobbies decided to leave copies of the picture on my desk.
I know Houdini and Doyle are spending more and more time together outside of the cases we work. Harry, for example, makes a point of stopping at Arthur's townhouse every few days. He says he just wants to encourage Mary and Kingsley out of their shell and think of something other than their mother; I know better. He's there just as much for Arthur as he is the children; if the children are happy, Arthur is more relaxed and happy, too.
While I'm not surprised at Harry's actions, I am surprised Arthur has been to the Metropole and visited with Harry's mother while Houdini is off performing. He claims he was there to see Harry and merely stayed to be polite, but I think it's more than that. We both suspect Houdini's childhood was less than idyllic, I wonder if Arthur is talking to Mrs. Weiss so he knows how to help Harry let some of that hurt go.
The blank page, a writer's worst nightmare, stared Doyle in the face. He planned to spend the day writing, Strand Magazine was eager for his next true crime piece, but he found the blank page staring back at him instead. Of course, what HG Smith really wanted was another Holmes story, but that wasn't going to happen. He'd killed Holmes for a reason.
Arthur gazed from the typewriter to the books lined along a shelf as if searching for inspiration. This isn't working, he realized. His mind was off elsewhere, thinking about the last case he'd worked with Houdini, wondering when Constable Stratton would call with a new case.
He also considered a few things he had learned from conversations with Cecilia Weiss. As he suspected, Harry's childhood was not a happy one. They were poor, Jewish, and uprooted from Budapest to the US where the family dealt with bigotry as well. No wonder he wants to give his mother everything he can, now, Doyle realized after one conversation. He also discovered Harry's father had died when he was young and as a result Houdini had worked, and thieved, from a young age to help support his family. Cecilia had mentioned a few Weiss siblings, but for the most part it seems to be Harry and his mother against the world.
The blank page still taunted him when Mary entered his office and was surprised to find him. She's perked up wonderfully over the last few weeks, Doyle noted. I really must thank Harry for taking the time to visit the children as often as he has. If someone had told him only a few months ago that he would be grateful to have Harry Houdini in his life, he would have said they were mad. But Doyle had to admit, Harry had become a true friend; he was surprised the number of things he had confided to the magician since the case at the nunnery, about the children. About Touie.
What was more, Houdini was starting to open up to him more as well. 'It's kind of nice knowing there are one or two people willing to help out if I need it,' Doyle remembered their conversation from a few weeks ago. He was seeing more of the actual man now and less of the showman facade.
Mary shook him out of his wandering thoughts by asking him to read her what he'd written. When he showed her the blank page, he groaned when Mary, his own daughter, wanted a Holmes story. The ringing phone ended any hope of writing or reading to Mary and Doyle answered to hear Houdini on the other end asking about the most recent edition of the paper. Before he could even get the conversation started, however, Houdini rang off again.
Doyle found the paper amongst the clutter on his desk and once he saw the headline he realized Houdini's interest. Psychic Finds Missing Girl the headline screamed and Doyle quickly read through the rest of the article. Chances are he's already left the hotel, Doyle thought. But I can probably still meet him before he gets inside the station.
He folded the paper and as he rounded his desk, he noticed Mary had apparently left with the Holmes book while he was on the phone. I'll make a point of reading to her tonight, he promised and left the house, all thoughts of writing anything new were pushed aside for the thrill of a new adventure.
As expected he met Harry a few blocks from the station and they walked the rest of the distance together. Houdini greeted him with a smile, but Doyle could see he was preoccupied with something other than a medium helping the police find a missing child. His shoulder were stiff, and the hands stuffed in Harry's trouser pockets were clenched into fists.
"Why do you think Merring would have anything to do with this?" he asked diverting Doyle's musings back to the psychic.
"Maybe it wasn't his idea," Doyle suggested.
"Well I doubt it was Adelaide, I'd hope I've been a better influence on her." Harry smiled over at Doyle.
"I don't suppose you would consider the idea this Madam Korzah really did have a vision of where to find the girl?" Doyle asked.
"No," was the immediate response. "Come on, Doc, how many times do I have to say this. She's a fake. She's either lying about how she found the girl or she's somehow in on the kidnapping."
"Those are my only choices?" Doyle asked. They were at the station and Doyle changed the subject, before Harry to could get wound up. "Is there something else bothering you? You seem more --"
"No, I'm fine," Harry interrupted as he entered the station and turned down the hall to Adelaide's desk. Doyle sighed and followed but Harry must have heard the sigh. "It's nothing, really," he said, his tone more conciliatory. "Just something with my mother."
"Is she ill?"
"No, nothing like that," Harry said turning to look back at Arthur. "Like I said, it's nothing."
Before Doyle could push further, they entered the station room and Harry changed the subject, "So our Constable Stratton is married. When was she going to tell us that?"
"The girl, Julia Hargreaves, is at St. Bartholomew's Hospital," Adelaide said. "We should see if she knows anything or what her doctor can tell us."
"That sounds logical," Doyle replied and stepped out to find a cab.
"The subway would be faster," Harry interjected, still distractedly looking at his watch. Before either of the others could comment he headed for the subway entrance on the next block.
Doyle shrugged at the constable and followed.
"Is everything all right with him, Doctor?" Adelaide asked.
Doyle watched as Houdini plunged down the steps to the subway ahead of them. "He says he is," Doyle said. "When I asked him about it earlier he mentioned his mother."
They both had their answer ten minutes later when Harry jumped up and announced this was their stop and he had another matter he was investigating. Harry led them to a nice, Italian restaurant, Lizabetta's, but instead of entering, he spied through the windows. When Arthur reached the door as well, he peered inside and immediately saw what Harry was staring at; Mrs Weiss having a nice lunch with a man … a man who was not her son.
Doyle started to smile but changed his mind when he saw how Harry was acting. The magician was sure the man was only going to hurt his mother and even tried to get Adelaide to go in and break up the lunch date.
Doyle was reminded of one of the conversations he'd had with Cecilia about Harry.
"We never had very much, you know, Doctor Doyle," she said one evening over tea at the hotel. "Erhie, he did what he could, but he was just a boy. He would do magic tricks for pennies or the odd job for a few days to earn enough for food. But, the merchants would rob him, or he was beaten by bigger boys." She sighed sadly at the memories.
"I didn't realize," Doyle started to say.
"Oh, no, no, Erhie never says much about the past. 'We have the future, Ma!' he tells me," Cecilia said with a smile. "He was a good boy, but he had to grow up so quickly. I know he is afraid, sometimes. He is afraid someone will still come and take everything away from him."
Doyle sipped his tea and said nothing.
Cecilia leaned forward and said almost in a whisper, "You are his friend, I know. He talks about you and the constable Adelaide often. I am so happy for him to have such good friends; he is learning he does not need to battle the world alone. Before it was just me, now he has you, too, and I am glad. He needs to have others besides his mother in his life."
Doyle heard Adelaide's reply about people hiding from them mothers, shook his head and glanced one more time at the couple inside. I think what he is afraid of losing, Mrs Weiss, is you. He followed Adelaide back to the subway; Harry followed a few moments later.
The trio had a very busy few hours, and Harry's frustrations regarding Korzah and her con only grew. After leaving the restaurant, a brief stop at St Bartholomew's was interrupted by a call that Korzah needed them.
Harry watched as she led them on a tour of the warehouse district and eventually, after much hocus-pocus and some blood for good measure, a disused doll factory. Doyle seemed to believe everything she was saying about her abilities and how the spirits talked to her and helped her find things. He just huffed at each of these comments, but when Doyle started glaring at him every time he reacted to something Korzah said, Houdini settled for more silent eye rolls.
He tried again to make his point about Korzah running a con and kidnapping the girl herself once they were back at the station which was when Merring came and told them another child was missing.
"Anyone know where Korzah and her assistant were this morning when they weren't with us?" Harry asked sarcastically.
Adelaide turned to answer her phone and Harry continued, "She's getting too much news coverage to stop now. Instead of feeding her vanity, we should be proving she's the kidnapper."
Doyle was about to reply, but Adelaide hung up the phone and beat him to it. "That was Doctor Whitaker," she announced. "Julia is awake and her parents will let us speak to her."
Harry grabbed his suit coat from the back of his chair. "Good. Maybe you'll believe Korzah's victim if you won't believe me."
Julia, however, couldn't really say much beyond that the kidnapper was a man with a beard, and she scratched him on the cheek. Once back at Scotland Yard, Harry was willing to bet it was Henri, Korzah's assistant, and he was surprised when Doyle offered up Mr. Hargreaves. While Merring offered to check Mr Hargreaves, Harry was determined to make sure Korzah was still considered a suspect as well.
After Merring left for his office, Houdini asked, "Where do you find a psychic con-artist in the early afternoon?"
Adelaide said, "I had someone look into Madam Korzah a bit,"
"Thank you," Harry mumbled.
Adelaide took a deep breath and continued, "She is holding a, reading, I guess, at her home this afternoon at two o'clock."
Doyle was already moving toward the front of the room before Harry had a chance to stop him. Since he couldn't prevent the con, he would do his best to make sure Arthur wasn't sucker punched by anything she did in Touie's name.
Korzah willingly agreed to all of Harry's conditions, including tying Henri to a nearby wall so he couldn't help with any spiritual manifestations. When she started her patter, Harry watched Doyle's face and was pleased to see Arthur wasn't as completely taken in as he'd, Harry, feared. He's not letting himself accept blind, Harry thought. Harry heard Korzah fall into her character with the usual bits of speaking for the dead, then the unexpected happened. Korzah knew Touie was still alive.
Harry and Doyle shared a look and Houdini wasn't sure he kept the surprise out of his eyes and expression. Oh, she is very good, Harry thought.
Doyle's body language shifted slightly as Korzah continued. When she actually knew Arthur's nickname for his wife Harry had had enough. I won't let her hurt him with this, he thought angrily. He could see Doyle was stunned by what Korzah had said. He was doing better, he was coping with the thought of continuing on after Touie … now she's done this to him.
With a last switching trick, Korzah wrapped up the seance, and Henri cleared the room and left them alone. Doyle sat at the table with Korzah and Adelaide, speechless. Harry paced back and forth, glaring at Korzah whenever he passed in front of her.
"Harry, sit down," Adelaide admonished quietly.
"No." Harry glared at Korzah again.
Doyle looked up then came around to Harry, "Stop," he said in a near-whisper gasping Harry's shoulders.
Harry glanced up at Doyle, saw the other man was more himself, and nodded once. He stopped his pacing and stood near the wall where Henri had been tied at the start of the seance. It didn't take long for Korzah to start another tactic however once Adelaide let slip that another girl, Helena Wood, was also missing.
Harry stood with his arms across his chest as Korzah started another parlay with her spirits.
"I see, by the stroke of midnight, she will be no more," Korzah murmured.
"Helena Wood?" Doyle asked.
"No. Adelaide Stratton."
Harry watched the emotion play across Doyle's face as he talked about feeling her in the room as Korzah spoke. You need to tell him, Harry ordered to himself. He's not going to accept anything you say until you explain how and why you know about psychics. Harry glanced over at Doyle and quickly looked away.
He told his story of a woman who killed herself after a psychic told her her dead husband was still there with her and would never let her go. Every few words he would glance, sidelong, at Doyle to see his reactions. Then Harry took a deep breath. "I was the psychic," he admitted softly.
He expected to see condemnation on Doyle's face with his confession. What he found instead was compassion. "Harry. My wife is ill, but she's still in there. I'm not looking to run away from anything."
Houdini was relieved to know Doyle wasn't looking for a permanent escape to be with his wife. What the doctor said next though, left Harry feeling raw and exposed. He needed to get away; away from the strangers now staring at him and away from Doyle.
'Poppycock, you're being selfish.' He worried about his mother. He wanted her to be happy, see the world; see the world with him. Was he being selfish? Did she need someone in her life other than her son? He had never felt diminished because his confidant was his mother. He didn't trust many people. He didn't trust that he wouldn't be hurt by them, let down by them, left behind by them.
Harry observed the people in the park around him. Among them was a young mother with her son. The little boy was floating a small toy boat in the water of the stream and the mother was telling the child not to let go of the string.
What would happen if I just let go? Harry wondered. 'She has a life to live; with you and without you.' It was the part without him that scared him the most. Would she eventually leave him as well? Find someone else that makes her happy? He wasn't sure what he would do if his mother remarried, moved to the Continent or back to the United States. Admit it, you're jealous. And the worst part is you're jealous of someone that doesn't even exist.
Harry's attention was drawn back to the stream when he heard the little boy shriek as the current carried the toy boat away; the mother however was there to take the boy's hand as they chased after the tiny craft. Harry smiled when a man pulled the boat out of the water, returned it to the boy and tipped his hat to the young woman.
He had more than just his mother; he'd known that for some time. Doyle was someone he could talk to. He remembered their conversations after he was so ill during the Downey case and realized Arthur was the first person other than his mother he felt he could confide in. He repaid that trust by helping Arthur and the children cope; either by entertaining Mary and Kingsley, or listening as Arthur reminisced about his wife before she was ill. If someone had told him only a few months ago that he would be grateful to have Arthur Conan Doyle in his life, he would have said they were mad.
Adelaide was also entering his inner circle of few real friends. Even though she was hiding her marriage from them as well as whatever Nigel Pennington represented, Houdini was willing to take the chance with her friendship as well. She didn't let him get away with anything. She kept him on his toes and he found he enjoyed it. I am going to find out what she isn't telling us though.
Which was why Korzah toying with both of them made him so angry. She was playing with Arthur's vulnerability with regard to Touie and she made threats against Adelaide. It's time to prove once and for all what she really is, Harry decided. He left the park and walked back to Korzah's house determined to find the evidence he needed.
Adelaide's heels clicked against the pavement angrily as she walked back to Scotland Yard. Honestly, why was it so hard for those two to understand? She was a police woman, not some helpless damsel. She could take care of herself. She was worried, however. She could put on a brave face for Doyle and Harry, but she couldn't lie to herself. Korzah's pronouncement had scared her. Midnight. If Harry was right, Korzah or her assistant would try to do something in the next few hours. If Doyle was correct, it could be anything or anyone. Not much of a choice, really.
What would Merring do if he found out about Korzah's prediction? He accepted her help, he must think she's of use. And all of her predictions have come true so far, she reminded herself grimly.
She entered the station room to find Doyle waiting for her and finally expressed some of her concern. Doyle's reassurance was eye-opening to say the least. She thought his interest in spirits only extended to contacting his wife. That he would want to watch over his children hadn't occurred to her.
The Doctor is the only one of us with children of his own, Adelaide thought. Mary isn't that much older than the girls who were taken. Maybe I shouldn't be that surprised he wants to protect them from the world any way he can.
"I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child," Adelaide said.
"It must be utter agony," Doyle agreed.
Adelaide didn't understand Doyle's comment "Am I right?" until she noticed Chief Merring standing at the evidence table, his back stiff. She listened as he talked about the loss of his son, a soldier fighting the Boer War. At least now I understand why he was so upset about the book Doctor Doyle sent me, Adelaide thought sadly.
Merring returned to his office and Adelaide looked around for their missing third member. "Where is Harry?" she asked, glancing at the door expecting to see him striding into their midst.
Doyle looked a little guilty as he explained the conversation in the subway and Harry running off. "You saw how he was at the restaurant today," Doyle said. "You and I are probably the only people in London who know what Harry Houdini is really afraid of."
"He must know she will want to have her own life at some point?" Adelaide pointed out.
"He refuses to think about it. I'm not sure he knows what to do without her," Doyle mused. "The last time I saw Mrs. Weiss she mentioned some of the things Harry dealt with as a child. She's worried about him being alone."
Just as you worry about Mary and Kingsley, Adelaide thought.
She stood from the desk and moved over to the table with the photos and reports for their current case spread out on it's surface. "Have we learned anything new about Helena Wood?"
Doyle joined her and picked up a picture, the original to the one the papers printed. "Not much. She is the same age as Julia Hargreaves and Emily Pearce, same general appearance."
Adelaide read over the police report of the abduction again. "Both Julia and Helena were taken near their schools. Julia on her way home and it's assumed Helena was taken on her way to school. How do we know that?" she asked looking up.
"I'm not sure." Doyle shuffled through the reports again. "Maybe she left something at home and her parents tried to deliver it to her. Maybe one of the other children saw something and told the teacher who informed Helena's parents," he hypothesized.
They were still reviewing the reports and photos when Harry sauntered into the station. He was looking incredibly pleased with himself and Adelaide couldn't believe it when he admitted he had been with Korzah. Does he realize admitting it was a one time thing only makes it worse, she wondered.
Adelaide listened with half an ear as Arthur chastised Houdini for his dalliance, she focused on the passport he'd stolen and soon realized Harry really did bring them a clue. Korzah's passport was a fake. And Adelaide knew just who they needed to talk to next.
Edith Pilkey from Croydon. Adelaide almost laughed, their Romanian psychic was a local girl and more to the point, someone who no longer had an alibi.
"She's a fraud. She's literally not who she says she is," Harry said.
"She changed her name for effect. That's not a crime is it, Ehrich?" Doyle asked.
Adelaide silently agreed with Arthur that just because she changed her name, didn't mean Korzah, or Edith, was guilty. Harry, however was distracted by the girls across the road jumping rope.
"The ropes," Harry said to himself.
Adelaide traded a confused look with Doyle but before she could ask Houdini what he meant, Harry took off at a run back to Scotland Yard. "The ropes!" he called back to them.
Adelaide and Doyle didn't catch up with him until they were almost back to the station.
Two kidnappers. Once Harry pointed out how different the knots were it was obvious for anyone to see, Korzah certainly fit the description, but Doyle had a different idea.
"He works at the docks, he would know about ropes and knots," Doyle explained as they took the subway to Mitchell Pearce's home. "It all makes sense."
"It all makes sense except for the part where Korzah knew about it," Harry said.
"I have an idea about that as well," Doyle replied cryptically.
"You do? How?" Adelaide asked.
Doyle shook his head. "I want to be sure of something else first."
Harry was silent for a moment and studied Doyle's face.
"Why would he do this?" Adelaide asked into the silence. "He knows the pain a parent feels at the loss of a child, why do that to someone else?"
"I'm not sure," Doyle said. "It's one of many things we need to ask him."
"This is our stop," Harry announced looking back at Doyle again as he led the way out of the subway tunnel.
"What did your message mean, Mr Pearce. What did you mean by 'no innocence'?" Doyle asked, quietly.
Adelaide was distracted by a sound coming from a nearby closet. When Harry opened it to find Madam Korzah bound inside, her attention shifted from Pearce to the woman on the floor.
The moment was all Pearce needed to pull a gun from his pocket. Adelaide immediately stepped between Pearce and Korzah and tried to reason with him. As Adelaide listened to him, she realized what she would have to do to get Pearce to put down the gun.
It could be what he needs to hear, she told herself. You've wanted to tell Harry and Arthur about Benjamin for a month. Talk to Pearce, tell him you understand, tell him!
Adelaide took a deep breath and spoke, "I lost someone once, my husband," she whispered. "I loved him more than life. Losing him nearly destroyed me." She wasn't sure how Arthur and Harry were reacting to her story, she was between all of them and Pearce's gun. She would deal with their questions later.
She was getting through to him, she could see it. Someone was listening to him, empathizing with his loss. But then the moment was gone.
What happened next was so quick, Adelaide had to force herself to reconstruct it later. She saw Arthur reach for Pearce, but Mitchell struck the doctor with the butt of the gun and he went crashing to the floor behind a table.
Adelaide wasn't distracted and knew she had a hand on the gun when suddenly two things happened at once, the gun fired just as Harry tackled Pearce to the floor. She was thrown down as well by the force of Houdini's attack and she could hear Doyle calling her name.
"I wasn't me," she told him. "I wasn't hit." Arthur was still trying to find wound, they both saw blood on his hands that had to come from someone. They both looked over at Harry in time to hear him say Pearce was dead.
Harry looked up as Arthur stood next to him. "What about Adelaide?" he asked the doctor leaning back from the dead man.
"I'm fine," Adelaide interrupted. "Are you all right?"
"Not a scratch," Harry replied, standing up. "Can't say the same for Arthur, though. That's gonna leave a heck of a bruise, Doc." Harry touched his own cheek in sympathy.
Doyle ran his hand across the bone carelessly and said, "Yes, well never mind that right now. How are we going to find Helena Wood when our suspect is lying dead on the floor?"
"That girl could be anywhere. There are a million ways to drown a person," Harry said pacing back and forth.
A few minutes later they had their best option: Jennings Shipping Company.
Doyle and Korzah searched one side of the dock with Gudgett and a group of bobbies, while Harry and Adelaide searched the other. Every now and then Arthur would glance at the other side of the slip to see what progress the others had made and knew before Adelaide started blowing her whistle, they had found the girl. He wasn't prepared to see Harry slip off his coat and dive into the freezing river water below the pier. With the dawning realization of what Houdini was doing, Doyle started back along his side of the slip to find the shortest route across to where Adelaide was frantically searching the water below.
With Korzah and the group of bobbies trailing after him, Doyle reached the constable's side in time to hear her calling for Harry and looking down, he didn't see either his friend or the missing girl.
When Harry finally surfaced with Helena, Doyle followed the magician as he found a ladder and started up with the girl over his shoulder. He could tell Harry was struggling with both the weight of the girl and his trembling muscles from not only the cold water, but also the cutting wind. As soon as she was within reach, Doyle took Helena from Harry and laid her out on the ground. He realized she wasn't breathing but before he could do anything for her, Harry pushed him aside and started to breathe air into her lungs. A few seconds later Helena began to cough and Harry turned her on her side and sat back on his knees.
Doyle stood back as Adelaide and a pair of bobbies wrapped Helena in a blanket and carried her back to a waiting stretcher. Houdini was still on his knees on the ground and Doyle clasped a hand to Harry's shoulder to congratulate him on saving the girl. He immediately chastised himself when he felt the younger man's wet clothes and shivering, he also heard Houdini wheezing slightly.
He knelt down beside Houdini and looked more closely at the magician. "Constable," he said quietly. "I need a couple of blankets, quickly."
Adelaide turned as Doyle spoke to her and seeing what had the doctor so concerned, sent a bobby off to find the blankets.
She knelt on Harry's other side and spoke, "Is he going to be all right?" she asked looking from Doyle to the shivering Houdini.
"I'm fine," Harry replied through chattering teeth. "I keep forgetting just how cold that river is."
The bobby returned with the blankets and Doyle took one and started to rub the magician dry. Harry didn't say anything else, however Doyle noticed the shivering soon stopped. Once Houdini was somewhat drier, Doyle wrapped the second blanket around him and coaxed Harry off his knees to sit on a low pylon nearby.
As he got Harry to his feet Arthur noticed Madam Korzah hovering nearby and with a nod in that direction wordlessly sent Adelaide to lead the psychic further away from them. Doyle's suspicions about Korzah and her powers had grown to certainties, but he wanted to make sure his friend was recovered before he dealt with her.
Doyle kept one hand on Houdini's back and when he felt the other man shift he glanced down.
"Thanks," Harry said in a low voice. He struggled to reposition the blanket as it slipped and Arthur straightened it for him.
"I think we should be thanking you," he replied. "I'm sure the girl's parents will want to meet you. Merring may even say something nice to you."
Houdini smiled slightly at that, but looked over at the girl lying nearby.
"She's gonna be all right isn't she?" Harry asked.
Doyle glanced over at the girl as well and watched as one of the bobbies tried to make her smile.
"I think she'll be fine. That does remind me, where in the world did you learn about artificial respiration?"
"Like I said, I work with water, it's a good thing to know." He looked up at Doyle and continued, "I saw it done once when I was in Canada by someone from the Royal Humane Society and they later held a meeting and gave lessons to anyone interested. I thought it would be useful."
"It was lucky for her you were here," Adelaide said joining them. "I've asked Madam Korzah to wait over there for the moment," she finished and glanced toward the psychic waiting near the stairs. "Merring will be here soon as well, one of the bobbies just reported seeing him arrive at the Jennings Company entrance with the ambulance."
A few moments later, Doyle saw movement at the top of the pier and realized Chief Inspector Merring had arrived. Harry must have seen it as well, as he slowly stood up from the pylon as Merring came down the short flight of steps and said something to Sergeant Gudgett.
"The girl's parents are on their way," Merring said halting in front of the trio.
Doyle could see instead of the pleasure he expected from the chief at a case solved with a happy ending, Merring's emotions were almost defeated.
"Pearce. We let him down," Merring announced grimly.
"We let the insane kidnapper down?" Harry asked and Doyle could hear the disbelief in his voice.
"His child's killer is still out there," Merring explained. "How could he not go mad."
Doyle wondered how many sleepless nights the chief had thinking about the war and the death of his son. How will I react if Kingsley someday dies in a war? Doyle thought. Would I continue forward, a little less whole like Merring? Or would I fall, like Pearce? Doyle shook off his mental cloud and watched as the constable led Merring over to Helena. A pair of bobbies were lifting her stretcher to take her back up to the dock entrance and the waiting ambulance.
When Madam Korzah approached them after Merring left, Doyle felt ready to confront her with what he suspected. Harry stood at Doyle's side watching them warily. Arthur calmly explained how she hadn't been contacted by any spirits, and she was however an ardent follower of Holmes and had used his stories to learn deductive reasoning skills.
While focused on Korzah, Arthur knew he Harry was surprised by his revelations as well. The magician watched as Doyle explained every step the so-called psychic used to convince the police and the press she was authentic. He didn't interrupt and Doyle thought he almost looked proud.
"She was good," Harry commented watching Korzah, now Edith Pilkey, walk away. "One of the best I've run across."
"She took Holmes' lessons to heart," Doyle agreed.
"Helena is on her way to hospital," Adelaide announced as she joined them. "Should Harry go with her?" she asked Doyle.
"No, Harry doesn't need to go to any hospital," Harry interjected before Doyle could say anything. "I'm fine," he insisted again.
Doyle gave Houdini an assessing look, then agreed. "He's probably right, Constable. A hot bath, some dry clothes and some sleep is all he really needs."
Adelaide still looked skeptical, but let the matter drop. "We need to go back to Scotland Yard finish the reports and I'll need a description from Harry about the rescue," she said leading the way back up the stairs and along the pier.
They met the ambulance at the Jennings Company entrance where Helena's parents were reunited with their daughter. When they spotted the trio coming out of the dock area, Helena's mother quickly came over to thank Adelaide. Doyle stood at the constable's side and smiled as the woman thanked him as well for saving her child. As Doyle shook the father's hand, he realized the parents were focused on just himself and Adelaide. Houdini, it seemed, had disappeared.
He finally spotted the magician against a wall trying to stay out of sight. Puzzled, Doyle walked over to check on him.
"I would think you would be at the center of all that gratitude," he said eyeing the man in front of him. He looks exhausted, Doyle noted to himself. The constable better hurry with her paperwork of he'll fall asleep before she gets it all down.
"I was kind of hoping to avoid this," Harry mumbled. "One photo and they won't have any peace for days."
"You're telling me, you want to avoid the press?" Doyle couldn't believe it. "Since when have you ever turned down a chance for glory."
Doyle saw Harry's eye's harden and wondered if he'd stepped too far. "The newspapers can write whatever they like about me and my show," he retorted standing a little taller. "That family doesn't need the hounding or demanding reporters wanting quotes. They need to be alone together. I don't want another Lyman Biggs exploiting them."
Doyle put up his hands in surrender. "All right, calm down."
Harry slumped against the wall again and gave the doctor a wry grin. "Sorry, Doc. Maybe I'm just a little tired. I really would like to -- Damn."
Doyle saw Harry's eyes shift behind him, Doyle, and he turned back to see Adelaide leading the father and mother over to where he was standing with Houdini. Harry stood straight again, though he stayed behind Doyle as much as he could.
"Mr. Houdini?" Mrs. Wood asked tentatively. Doyle moved aside so she could see the magician clearly. "Constable Stratton told us what you did for our Helena." She reached for Harry's hand. "We will never be able to repay you for what you did."
"And you don't need to," Harry told her kindly with a smile. "I'm happy she'll be all right."
Mrs. Wood hugged him with tears in her eyes and Mr. Wood shook hands with the magician before Adelaide walked them back to the waiting ambulance.
Doyle could see the adrenaline was wearing off as Houdini sagged again once the parents were out of sight. He frowned slightly and walked toward the road to find a cab, Houdini trailing along behind him, clutching the blanket closer as the wind picked up. Adelaide joined them as a cab pulled to a stop and she traded worried looks with Doyle. He shook his head at her and helped Harry climb inside.
Houdini huddled under his blanket in one corner of the cab and Doyle mentally counted as he watched Houdini's eyes drift shut as the cab headed back into town and Scotland Yard.
"Doctor," Adelaide started to say glancing over at Harry.
"He's fine, Constable, just tired." Doyle reassured her. "I don't suppose this can wait until morning?"
"I'm sorry, but it really can't. Chief Merring wants to have all of the reports done so he can tell reporters what's happened."
Doyle glanced at the sleeping man beside him and told Adelaide about Harry's concerns with the press.
"I'll let Chief Merring know. He can tell the reporters they are only to deal with the official police and leave the family alone."
"If you think that will work, you may as well tell them magic water fairies rescued her," Harry mumbled from his corner of the cab opening his eyes.
"You're supposed to be asleep," Doyle admonished.
"Just resting my eyes," Harry replied with a smile
"Well go back to resting your eyes, then. We won't be back at the station for at least twenty more minutes," Doyle said.
Doyle knew Adelaide was working through the paperwork as fast as she could, but it was still two hours before they were done and the clock over her desk said it was just ten o'clock when she finally let them leave.
"Are you sure you don't want me to stay?" Doyle asked glancing again at the time as Houdini slowly gathered up the damp vest and tie he'd removed once they arrived as well as his suit coat that Adelaide had brought from the pier.
"I told you before, I don't need protecting," Adelaide replied. "Madam Korzah was obviously wrong, nothing is going to happen to me." She stood and shuffled the reports together before turning toward Merrings office.
Doyle hesitated for a moment, but as Adelaide continued to glare at him over her shoulder, he decided to retreat for the moment.
PRO, PRO, Public Records Office, he realized. He considered for about half a minute not calling Houdini but realized the other man would want to know. He's worried about her, too. He called the hotel and when Harry answered explained what he'd discovered.
"So, how do you plan to get into a government office at eleven o'clock at night?" Harry asked, Doyle thought he could hear the other man grinning through the phone.
"We could wait 'til morning," he started to say.
"We wouldn't want to mess up Korzah's big reveal," Harry countered. "Meet me in front of the hotel in ten minutes. I know someone who can get us in."
"You know someone?" Doyle asked. "Is there anyone you don't know?"
"At the moment, I don't think so." Now Doyle knew Houdini was smiling. "Just meet me in front of the hotel."
As promised Harry was waiting for him at the entrance of the Metropole. "All taken care of, one of the records keepers will meet us and let us in."
Doyle decided he didn't want to know how Harry had convinced the man to let them see files so late and merely waited for the magician to fall into step with him.
Harry was unusually quiet and Doyle was almost willing to let the silence stretch when he remembered Houdini had probably talked to his mother about her lunch date.
"Something else on your mind?" he asked as they walked.
Harry shrugged. "I told my mother I was fine with her seeing that stuffed shirt we saw her with today. Do you know what she said?"
Doyle walked and waited.
"She said she called it off. That we had each other and that was enough." Harry sounded unsure of what to do with the information.
"Isn't that what you wanted?" Doyle asked.
"I thought so, but I don't know. I do have more than just my mother in my life now," Harry gave Doyle a sideways look. "Maybe she needs more, too. I don't want her to be lonely … I just … "
"You don't want her to leave you," Doyle finished.
"Yeah. Maybe." Houdini shrugged again and Doyle chose to drop the subject.
They entered the records office a few minutes before midnight. It didn't take very long for their escort to show them to the correct section and for Doyle to find the record of Adelaide's real name, Penelope Akerman, and her marriage to one Benjamin Graves.
They could hear the Clock Tower ringing midnight in the distance.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 05 (con't)
Midnight has come and gone and I feel slightly foolish for letting Korzah's prediction affect me so much. Arthur, of course wanted to stay with me, just in case, but I reminded him again I was capable of taking care of myself.
The marriage is now out of the bag so to speak. Harry and Arthur know I was married, and widowed, though they don't know anything else. I know I'm close to finding out what really happened to Benjamin, maybe I'll tell them the rest when I finally have answers. Nigel Pennington has finally given up his bid to talk to me. I haven't seen him or had anymore telegrams from him for a few days now.
I can't help thinking about what the future would have been like if Benjamin hadn't died, and this case has made me think more about parents and their children.
Arthur told me he has hope for a spirit world where he can watch over and protect his children even after he is gone. I know he worries about raising two children alone. I don't think he should be so concerned. The way he cares about Mary and Kingsley makes me think his childhood was a normal one. He's not afraid to talk about them or show affection for his children; not something that can be said for most fathers.
Harry's mother is basically his world. He plays to packed houses, but his audience is one person. I don't know much about Harry's past, though I'm sure Arthur knows more. What I do know, however, makes me realize how amazing Harry's mother is. Instead of a man angry at the world, Harry entertains it, and that can only be because his mother wouldn't let him be any other way.
On the other hand, Mitchell Pearce was so devastated after the death of his child and how it appeared everyone forgot about her that he lost his soul. He couldn't protect her from the madman who killed her, and even worse, he couldn't protect her memory long enough for us to find her killer, either.
I even learned something new about Chief Merring. I knew he was married, but I never heard him speak of children and never knew he had a son, or that said son had died on another continent in a war. The loss obviously affected him and changed him. I wonder what he was like before his son's death.
I know the clock in Doyle's house said five of midnight when he read the passage in the book. However there is no way he could get to the records building, find someone to let him in, and oh yes, collect Harry, all in five minutes. :-)
Chapter 6: Preconceived Notions
Dialog for the episode The Monsters of Nethermoor written by Nazrin Choudhury
Harry sat on a step and watched Arthur replace the records book on the shelf. "Anything you want to tell me, Arthur?" he asked his eyes twinkling.
Doyle looked down at the seated man with a puzzled expression.
"I'm no longer Ehrich, Penelope is now Adelaide, any aliases you want to get off your chest?"
Doyle could see Houdini was smiling, and replied, "Sorry to disappoint you, I really am Arthur always have been, though my second name is Ignatius."
Houdini sat back on the step and cringed while he grinned up at the older man. Arthur just ignored his reaction and pulled Harry to his feet as he headed back up the stairs.
"I can kind of understand keeping Ignatius under your hat, Doc." Harry teased following the doctor.
Doyle rolled his eyes at Harry's sense of humor and led the way out of the records office. In only a few hours they had learned a great deal about the constable; she'd been married, widowed, and for some reason had changed her name. Korzah was right again. Adelaide was no longer Adelaide. The question is why and why won't she tell us what's going on.
Standing at the street corner, Harry's mood was more serious. "So what are we gonna do now?" he asked.
Good question, Doyle thought. He glanced over at the younger man and saw the dark circles under his eyes. He's exhausted, we both are. He's probably hiding pain again as well. "Right now I'm going home and to bed. You should do the same. There's nothing more we can do in the middle of the night," Doyle added before Harry could protest further.
Houdini sighed and looked off toward the hotel. "Yeah, maybe you're right. I just wish she would talk to us."
Doyle silently agreed and watched as Harry wandered back to the Metropole.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
So far neither Harry nor Arthur has said anything about my marriage, it's making me a little nervous. After weeks of the pair of them trying to wheedle information from me, following me, breaking into my flat, they are both silent. What are they up to now?
After talking about Benjamin to Mitchell Pearce, I went through the packed trunk in the back of the wardrobe and took out some of Benjamin's things. I haven't looked at many of them since he died and found a few old friends; I've left them out on the sideboard for now just to remind myself of happier times.
"Do you know why we're here?" Harry asked, standing in Chief Merring's office two days later.
"I haven't heard of any strange cases in the papers the last few days," Doyle said sitting in one of the chairs in front of Merring's desk, his hat on his knee.
"He received a telegram this morning," Adelaide supplied as she came in the office and sat in the other chair. "He made some phone calls and sent a bobby to the newspaper archive."
"Huh. So something with a history and not a local case," Harry mused pacing behind the two chairs. Adelaide watched Houdini pace for a moment, Arthur just ignored the movement behind him, he was used to it by now.
Doyle mused on how he was more aware lately how his friends reacted to stress or when they were brainstorming a problem. Harry was all nervous energy; he would pace, or fidget with anything he could get his hands on while Adelaide was more quiet, lost in her head; she would gaze into the middle distance as if looking for the answers.
"I'm not sure how it could be anything outside London, the Metropolitan Police doesn't have the authority," Adelaide said glancing toward the empty desk of her superior.
Further speculation ended when Merring entered, closed the office door, and glared at each in turn.
"Oh, this can't be good," Doyle heard Harry mumble.
"There is a case in need of your special skills," Merring said as he sat behind his desk. "Normally, the local department would handle such things, but it seems your notoriety has expanded beyond London."
"Our notoriety, sir?" Adelaide asked glancing at Doyle.
"Mmm, for dealing with odd cases, Constable."
"So, what's the case?" Doyle asked.
"It involves," Merring paused to look up at the trio. "Martians."
"I'm sorry, did you say Martians? Like from Mars?" Harry asked. He paused in his pacing and tried hard not to laugh.
"That's what the officer in Nethermoor is saying. He has a missing woman and a husband claiming she was taken by … Martians." Doyle thought Merring looked more dour than usual with the news.
Merring handed Adelaide a file folder. "There are clippings from the closest newspaper to Nethermoor, as well as a copy of the police report and a picture of the missing woman. The husband, Daniel Berry, is being detained at the local jail."
Doyle watched as Adelaide shuffled through the papers in the file and read the short newspaper clipping she handed him.
"Well, obviously he lying," Harry said with his hands on his hips as he stood by the door.
"You're awfully quick to judge," Arthur said hooking an arm over the back of his chair to look at Houdini.
"There's nothing quick about it. His wife either ran off with someone or he did something to her."
"When do we leave, sir?" Adelaide asked before the bickering got more heated.
"The next train to Devonshire is tomorrow morning," Merring answered. "The police officer in Nethermoor, name of Booth, has agreed to give you authority over the search for the woman and any investigation you decide to pursue."
Adelaide nodded and stood up. "We'll do our best, sir. I'll send a telegram when we arrive and let you know if Officer Booth has any new information."
"If we're leaving tomorrow, I need to let the theater know to cancel my shows for the next few days. I'll also take care of the train tickets," Harry said and turned toward the door.
"I have a few ends to tie up as well, Constable," Doyle agreed. "Shall we meet at the train station tomorrow morning?" He held the door open for her.
"Just get the matter cleared up quickly," Merring ordered as the trio left his office. "Martians. What's next?" Doyle heard Merring mumble and he followed the constable back out to the main station room.
Once outside on the pavement, Harry waited until they were away from the door before he asked, "So, what have you learned about Penelope?" He glanced behind them to make sure Adelaide hadn't followed them.
Doyle started walking and tried to ignore the younger man. He'd learned during the Spring Heel'd Jack case not to raise Adelaide's temper. Harry was about to learn the lesson as well. "I haven't investigated anything," he said.
"Well why not? It's been two days! Aren't you at all curious what's going on?"
He's not going to let this drop, Doyle thought. "Of course I am," he said aloud. "I'm sure there is a good reason. And she will tell us when she's ready."
Harry opened his mouth to say something, but Doyle interrupted, "You have got to let this go, Harry. You're only going to upset her if you continue to push." He put a hand on Houdini's arm to stop him and continued, "I trust she will tell us, in her own time. You need to trust her, too."
Harry looked up at the older man then away. He sighed and nodded once. A few minutes later they were at the theater and Doyle continued home alone.
He walked into his office, sat at the desk, and stared at the typewriter. He still hadn't written the promised piece for Strand. He'd started several different versions of a new true crime piece, but each one ended up in the basket next to his desk after a few paragraphs. "Maybe Smith would like something about Martians," Doyle said to the empty room.
He spent the next hour or so shuffling papers and attempting to set the desk to rights before he left, but he finally admitted he was trying to distract himself from the typewriter.
"Father?" Mary asked from the doorway.
"Yes, love," Doyle answered. He shoved a series of folders into a drawer and didn't look up.
Mary came into the room with the Holmes book she'd borrowed and placed it on the desk. "Are you leaving for somewhere? Another adventure?"
Doyle smiled at her. "As a matter of fact I am. I'll probably be gone a few days." He put the book back in it's proper place.
Mary came around the desk and stood next to his chair. "Will you visit Mother before you go?" she asked, her face serious.
"Certainly, I'll see her this afternoon in fact."
"May I come with you?" Mary asked in a whisper not looking at her father.
Doyle sighed. "You know that's not the best idea right now. The doctors want to keep visits short." And I want you to remember your mother as you saw her a few months ago.
Mary nodded and walked back toward the door, her head down.
Doyle knew he couldn't keep the truth from the children much longer. "I'll talk to her doctors and see if we can make a short visit once I'm back," Doyle said as Mary was about the leave.
Mary turned back to her father nodded, smiled, and left the room.
"No change, really." Doyle looked down the track for the train.
"That's a good thing, isn't it?" Harry encouraged. "She's not any worse."
Doyle faced him and replied, "But she's not getting better, either."
Harry looked at his feet, "No, I guess she isn't," he said softly.
Arthur saw Adelaide further down the platform and waved to her. She came up the platform to join them looking uncomfortable. As she set down a small travel case and a satchel, Harry handed her her ticket.
"I can't accept this," she said trying to hand the first-class ticket back.
Harry gave her a strange look and refused take the ticket she was waving at him.
"Umm, why not?" he asked, confused.
"Because I'm a police constable, I can't afford a first class ticket to Devonshire."
"Well, I can and we aren't spending the next six hours at the back of the train," Harry said turning away from the constable as the train pulled into the station.
Arthur watched the parade of emotions cross Adelaide's face. He'd guessed when Harry offered to buy the tickets yesterday what he was planning and while he didn't necessarily disagree with him, he also wasn't going to defend him to Adelaide.
"Harry," she started to say. When he still refused to look at her she finished, "Thank you. I will find some way to pay you back the money for the tickets."
Harry shook his head, "You don't have to." He picked up his own travel case and Adelaide's satchel and moved down the line of train cars looking at numbers until he found the one assigned to them.
"For the lock," Houdini finished, holding up the coin. Harry popped the clasp easily and handed the satchel back to Adelaide.
"No secrets between friends, right?" he heard Harry say and winced at the forced levity in the magician's voice.
Doyle decided on the better part of valor and hid behind the newspaper once more to consider the situation. He really did think, Hope? the constable would tell them what was going on, why she hid her marriage and why she changed her name. Houdini's trust issues however were putting a strain on things and Arthur wasn't sure how Adelaide would react once Harry decided to just come out and bluntly ask for information.
As Doyle pretended to read the paper he became aware of an odd noise coming from the other seat. Glancing over the edge of the paper he discovered Harry with a deck of playing cards idly riffling, shuffling or fanning them in turn. He was staring out the window ignoring the others as his hands continually manipulated the bits of pasteboard.
Adelaide looked up from the file she was reading and watched Houdini fidget as well. When she made eye contact with him, Doyle just shook his head. Not the best beginning for this case, he thought going back to his paper.
"We're to meet Officer Booth at the police station," Adelaide said. As she led the way along the one road into the little village of Nethermoor, Doyle stayed by her side and he noticed Harry walking behind them eyeing the locals with suspicion. While he hadn't much liked the comments tossed in their direction, Arthur didn't let the words affect him; Harry, it seemed, was not able to follow suit.
Things only got worse once they met Officer Booth and the uncle of the missing woman, Jim Gorton. Booth seemed truly grateful for the assistance from Scotland Yard; Gorton however was dismissive of Adelaide as a police constable and the others as flashy outsiders. Needless to say, he and Houdini seemed to immediately dislike each other. Maybe it was because Harry was already on the defensive, maybe Gorton just hated anyone who wasn't from Nethermoor. Regardless of the reason, Arthur had a bad feeling as he watched Gorton walk away with Harry glaring after the local man.
Unfortunately, the hypnosis session only seemed to reinforce Harry's point of view. Daniel remembered the scent of flowers and was able to draw the design of a medallion the one of Martians wore around its neck, two things that weren't in the police report. They gave Officer Booth an update on what they'd learned and Adelaide asked him for a map of the countryside with the places marked where Daniel was found and where he last saw Rosie, his wife.
Maybe it was his general irritation with Houdini, but Arthur was very aware of the staring and other overt reactions of the other patrons when the trio entered the snug after seeing Daniel. Harry was once again eyeing the crowd warily and made sure he sat with his back to a wall where he could see the rest of the room. This is more than just his encounter with Gorton earlier, Doyle considered. He remembered the 'Yank' comment and a few other things aimed in the magician's general direction but hadn't thought much of it at the time.
"Someone obviously forgot to tell the welcoming committee we were coming," Harry said sarcastically as Adelaide unrolled the map of the Devon countryside.
Arthur continued his argument that Daniel was the cause of whatever happened to his wife and mentioned again his probable alcoholism.
This really doesn't seem to be Houdini's day, Doyle thought a bit smugly as Adelaide agreed with his assessment that Martians were just too far-fetched to be the reason for Rosie Berry's disappearance. He started to smile at the younger man across the table, but stifled it as he realized Harry's mood was deteriorating further. Doyle quietly sighed and focused on the map in front of them until Adelaide choked on her tea when she discovered it wasn't really tea but a local concoction derived from the same orchids Daniel had remembered.
Harry tensed as several of the locals in the snug sniggered in their direction and made comments about Londoners who couldn't hold their drink. Arthur flicked his fingers against Harry's wrist to get his attention. When Houdini glanced at him, Doyle shook his head and frowned slightly. Harry sighed and fiddled with his cup and saucer.
Adelaide asked the innkeeper where to find the orchids used in his drink recipe and Harry made a point of finishing his saloop while watching the room over the rim of the cup. The innkeeper gave Adelaide directions on how to find the patch of cuckoo-pint and she rolled up the map, gathered her papers together, and led the way out of the snug.
Doyle noticed Houdini had once again chosen to follow behind and Doyle realized why. He's acting as a rear guard, keeping himself between us and the townspeople. This needs to stop.
Once outside, Doyle let Adelaide get ahead of him and he cornered Harry. "What's the matter? You've been acting strange ever since we got here."
Harry glanced up at the older man and away. "It's nothing," he mumbled.
"For nothing you seem to be awfully twitchy," Doyle retorted.
Harry sighed and looked out toward the open moorland as they left the village. Doyle noticed he visibly relaxed once they were in more open country. "Small towns and small minds, Doc," Harry finally said. "I should have remembered that before we left London."
As they started to climb the hills outside of Nethermoor, Doyle listened with half an ear as Harry's mood shifted and he continued his not-so-subtle attack on Adelaide's secret. He was paying more attention to the surrounding landscape. Rosie Berry could be anywhere out here, he realized. Daniel wouldn't have to even bury her, just leave her in a dry rill and no one would ever find her.
He imagined what the mists would look like, only a few tree tops visible above a smothering blanket of fog. The quiet would be almost deafening. He looked around and noted there were no chimneys nearby, the houses all seemed to cluster around the village. It wouldn't be hard to get lost or disoriented out here. He'd heard the men in the snug swapping stories about a Mad Martha and something called a yeth dog which sounded similar to the Cù Sìth stories of his childhood; being on the moor itself he could easily believe the stories were true.
Doyle ended his sight-seeing when he saw Harry waiting for him to catch up. He listened as Harry told him Adeliade had lied about how her husband died and agreed it sounded as though he had been murdered. Their speculation ended when Adelaide found a patch of cuckoo-pint, which led them to the impact crater of a meteorite. At least part of Daniel's story was true, they had seen something crash land the night Rosie disappeared.
"So what is knedle?" Adelaide asked, looking at the little bundle Harry carried, a gift from Martha as they were leaving.
Harry glanced over to her and Doyle watched as he offered the constable one of the treats inside. "Plum dumplings," he explained. "I haven't had them since I was a kid. It wasn't very often my mother had plums to make them."
Adelaide plucked one of the small dumplings from the bundle and tasted it. "Oh, this is good," she said popping the rest of the knedle in her mouth. Harry smiled and Arthur noticed he relaxed slightly.
He was jumpy as soon as Martha said he was Jewish, Doyle thought. What was he expecting to happen? That she would throw him out of her home? Doyle sighed. 'But, the merchants would rob him, or he was beaten by bigger boys … He is afraid someone will still come and take everything away from him.' Arthur remembered the conversation with Mrs Weiss. With dawning realization, Arthur looked back on Harry's behavior since they arrived in Nethermoor and saw it in a new light.
When they entered the snug, Harry once again sat in the far corner of the room with his back to a wall. The innkeeper gave Harry a funny look when he asked for milk instead of the local beer, but brought all three drinks without any comment. A few minutes later he was back with room keys, two room keys.
Doyle smiled as he watched Houdini and Adelaide spar over sleeping arrangements but the teasing ended abruptly when Jim Gorton stormed through the door of the snug and started making disparaging remarks about Daniel as well as the three of them for protecting Berry. Doyle was trapped against the table with Adelaide next to him on the bench so that he couldn't stop Houdini from standing and confronting the loud-mouthed local.
Harry's been spoiling for a fight all day, Doyle thought as he watched Gorton strip off his coat and Harry taunted him even further. The crowd in the snug wasn't helping as several of them encouraged Gorton to take down the smaller American and teach him a lesson.
"Harry," Adelaide said in a small voice, she laid a hand on his arm to try and stop him.
Harry shook off her hand and took off his own suit coat.
"You wanna hit me? Go ahead, right in the gut." He never took his eyes off Gorton. "Just remember, I get the next punch." He quickly glanced around the room before focusing on the man in front of him.
Gorton didn't look very afraid and Doyle was unsure how to stop the inevitable fight.
Gorton drew back his right hand in a fist and Harry took several deep breaths and tightened his stomach muscles in anticipation.
Houdini was completely caught off guard, however, when instead of punching with his right arm, Gorton slammed his left fist into Harry's eye with a back-handed punch.
The blow sent Houdini reeling into the table behind him. Both Arthur and Adelaide jumped to their feet; the constable faced down Gorton while Doyle tried to check Harry.
"Harry," he said in a worried tone to the younger man as Harry tried to catch his breath.
"Are you all right?" Adelaide asked as well.
Harry glanced at Doyle, slowly regained his balance, and turned to face his attacker.
"My turn," he said in a low growl.
Houdini ducked Gorton's next attack and with three punches had the local man on the floor.
Once Gorton was down, Doyle moved around Adelaide. He wasn't sure what the others in the room would do with their champion defeated and he wanted to make sure Houdini wasn't blind-sided. As Harry continued to hit the downed man, however, Doyle realized it wasn't the magician who needed help. He tried to verbally stop Houdini's attack and when that didn't work, Arthur grabbed Harry by the shoulders and pulled him off Gorton who was bloodied and dazed, if not unconscious, on the floor.
No one in the snug moved for several seconds. Harry stood on slightly wobbly legs, glanced at Doyle, then the rest of the room, and walked out.
Adelaide and Doyle exchanged worried looks. The constable picked up the room keys off the table, Arthur grabbed Houdini's suit coat and turned back to Gorton still on the floor with one of the other local man beside him.
"Don't worry about old Jim, none," the innkeeper said bringing over a basin of water and a bundle of ice. "I've patched him up after a fair few fights, he'll be fine in the morning." He handed Doyle the water and ice, "Go look after yours, I'll deal with this lot."
Doyle nodded and turned toward the door leading back to the rooms. Adelaide was standing at the lintel waiting for him, Harry was nowhere in sight.
Doyle found Harry standing outside the door at the end of the hall, his back against the wall, shoulders slumped and his head down.
Arthur silently handed him the basin of water as he unlocked the door and entered the small room. He turned up the lamps, pulled out the chair to the small desk and said, "Sit down, let me look at you."
Houdini said nothing as he followed Doyle into the room, placed the basin on the bedstand, and sat. Doyle was more concerned by his silence and Harry's refusal to look at him, more than anything. The doctor took Harry's chin and raised his head so he could get a good look at the magician's face. "You'll have a black eye by morning," he said in a low voice. "But you don't seem to be concussed." He turned each of Harry's hands over and tsked at the red, swollen joints. "You should soak your hands to stop the swelling, otherwise you'll be fine." Arthur dropped the small block of ice into the water and moved the basin over to the desk.
He stood back and watched as Harry moved the basin closer and slowly dipped his hands in the cool water. "Thanks," Houdini mumbled. "I'm sorry … about … " He nodded in the direction of the snug.
"I suspect the fight was unavoidable," Doyle said as he moved around the room getting ready for bed. "Gorton seemed to dislike you from the off. For some reason you seem to have that effect on a lot of people." He smiled over at the younger man.
Harry must have sensed the teasing tone as he took a deep breath, let it out and relaxed a little. He took his hands out of the water, flexed and clenched his fingers a few times and pushed the basin aside.
As Arthur climbed into the bed with Martha's records on the kobolds, Harry began his own nightly rituals, one of which to Doyle's surprise was a series of calisthenics. Is he working off the residual adrenaline or leftover anger? Doyle asked himself as he watched Houdini do pushups wearing only pajama bottoms.
He remembered the conversation with Mrs Weiss again and chose anger as the most likely cause. Doyle folded up Martha's notes and spoke, "Look, it's pretty clear what's going on. It must have been tough for you and your family, having to deal with other people's blind-spots … prejudices."
"What people call me is their problem, not mine. The only person that can put you in the gutter is you." Houdini poured water onto a cloth and wiped himself down before putting on his pajama top.
Doyle tried to sympathize with Harry's past but Houdini refused to accept his example of experience with bigotry. Before he could try anything else however, his mercurial friend set aside any remaining irritation and changed the subject completely to Adelaide and her deceased husband. He tossed a packet of newspaper clippings to Arthur and refused to feel guilty for his actions in acquiring them from Adelaide's satchel.
Arthur looked through the various clippings as he listened to Harry theorize about what they meant. When did he steal these from her? he wondered. What is she going to do to him when she finds out?
In the end, however he found himself agreeing with Houdini's idea of an affair as a good motive for murder and started packing a last pipe before going to sleep. Touie never let him smoke in bed, but Arthur had fallen into the habit over the last months sleeping alone. Harry settled in the bed beside him and Doyle struck a match to light his pipe.
"Whoa, hey, hey," the younger man mumbled sitting up. "You wanna take that outside?" Arthur stared at Houdini and with a sigh, blew out the match and got out of bed. He pulled on his trousers and a top coat, then left to enjoy his pipe in peace.
Harry awoke the next morning to find himself alone in the bed. He didn't remember Doyle coming back after smoking and he never realized the older man was up and gone ahead of him. Maybe I should find out if we can take the bed with us when we leave, he thought with a smile. Best sleep I've had in weeks. He got up, dressed and checked face in the mirror inside the wardrobe. As Doyle predicted, his eye and cheek were bruised and slightly swollen. He touched the bruised flesh gently, then shrugged. Bruises would heal, they always did.
He found Adelaide downstairs in the snug. He looked around as he took a cup from the sideboard, but Arthur wasn't with her and Harry started to wonder where the doctor was. He was a bit startled when Adelaide admitted she hadn't seen him either.
She continued to watch him as he sat across from her, and Harry realized he needed to say something. "I'm sorry about last night. The whole thing just kinda got away from me." He concentrated on pouring himself tea, this time it was tea, and didn't look at her.
"Believe it or not, I understand," Adelaide reassured him with a slight smile.
Harry studied her face for a moment and nodded. "I believe you." And he did. Neither of them fit the mold of what others expected.
Even with the realization, Harry felt he owed her a bit more of an explanation and told her about a merchant who refused to sell his father produce, how his father had reacted by walking away and how as a child he couldn't understand why. Harry told her about being arrested for stealing the food, and how he'd gone back that night and got his revenge on the merchant.
The memory was bittersweet and he was a little surprised he even shared it. Adelaide said nothing, she merely sat watching him and it was making Houdini uncomfortable. What is the statute of limitations of vegetable theft, Harry thought wryly. This was one reason why he rarely talked about his past. It wasn't always very happy and he wasn't sure how people would respond.
Arthur was one of the few people who knew some of his past; the real past, not the stories made up for the press. After Doyle saw his x-rays he'd questioned Harry about the injuries and while most of them were the result of various escapes, the doctor knew which ones were from fights. He also suspected Doyle had talked to his mother on occasion when Harry wasn't around; he never outright asked his mother about this, but the scent of pipe-smoke in the hotel room was evidence enough of the caller.
He'd never discussed his childhood or growing up with Adelaide before. He told himself she wouldn't want to know, but the reality was he feared what she would do if she knew some of the truth. He didn't realize until he was sitting there with her at an inn in a tiny village, that she was one of the few people who truly would understand what he'd been through in the past.
As the silence lengthened, Harry finished his tea and said he was going to look for Doyle. The village wasn't that big for a walk to take this long and Harry was starting to worry.
He found the burnt matchstick first. So he smoked his pipe last night, Harry thought with a smile. When he found the matchbox further down the path he stopped smiling. Something was wrong.
Looking down the lane to the stream behind the village, Harry found Arthur's pipe. Very, very wrong.
"Doyle!" he started calling and ran toward the stream. Please, please don't let him be in the water, Harry thought looking over the stone turnstiles. He could feel himself starting to panic a little until he finally spotted Arthur lying further up the narrow path out of town.
It took a few moments for him to rouse the doctor, and when he did Harry wasn't reassured; Arthur was groggy and obviously disoriented. Harry could see it took a few seconds for recognition to dawn when Doyle looked at him, and Arthur only muttered about seeing one of "them" with dark eyes and light skin when Harry asked what happened.
He helped Arthur stand and was startled by the cold leaching through the other man's thin undergarment, the only thing he was wearing. Was he out here all night? Harry wondered as he helped Doyle back up the path. As they started walking back toward The White Hart, Doyle could only stumble along and Harry half carried him back to the inn and inside.
"Adelaide!" he called toward the snug. When she appeared at the door, Harry continued, "Find a blanket or something, he's freezing."
Harry pulled Doyle through to the snug and led Arthur over to the fire. He was still mumbling about seeing something, but Harry ignored him as he worked to warm the doctor up, rubbing the other man's arms and hands to get the blood moving. When Adelaide returned the innkeeper followed behind her as well. Harry ignored the man, took the heavy blanket from the constable, and wrapped it around Doyle.
"Where was he?" she asked sitting in the chair beside the doctor.
"Out by the stream," he replied distractedly as he knelt beside Arthur and tucked the blanket around shivering man. "I think he was out there most of the night." And I never even realized it, he chastised himself.
Arthur was still shivering, but Harry was happy to see more awareness in the doctor's eyes as he looked around the room.
"Hey, you with me now," Houdini asked softly when Doyle finally focused on him.
Doyle nodded as he adjusted the blanket and started to stand.
Harry hovered at his side ready to support him, but Doyle moved back out to the bar on shuffling feet and waited while the innkeeper poured out a tot of whiskey.
Once seated back in the snug, Doyle explained his hypothesis about being drugged and wondered why he'd been left on the path, when Daniel had been moved several miles away from where he was attacked. Realizing Rosie may still be in the area where the meteorite fell, Adelaide left to help Officer Booth organize a search party while Harry offered to start looking right away.
"Maybe you should stay here," Harry suggested quietly.
Doyle shook his head as he went into the small bathroom to change. "I'll be fine."
"You spent the night outside, freezing and drugged, on a dirt path. You're still cold and need to rest." Harry moved over to the closed door so to be sure the doctor could hear him. "Stay here. It will take Adelaide a at least an hour to get a search party together, come up with her. I can look around by myself until then."
Doyle came back out of the bathroom wearing a clean shirt and trousers. "Where is this sudden concern for my well being coming from?" Doyle asked as he started tying his tie.
You scared me half to death this morning, Harry wanted to say. Instead he wandered over to the desk and fiddled with various items. He caught Doyle watching him out of the corner of his eye and sighed. "I'm just … "
Arthur walked around to stand in front of Houdini. "I'm fine," he said again. "Weren't you the one telling me only last night I should exercise more?"
"You can get your exercise just as easily after getting some rest and coming up with Adelaide. I can look around the meteorite alone until then," Harry tried again.
Doyle buttoned his waistcoat and put on his suit coat. "No, you're not going up there alone. We still aren't sure what we're really dealing with; two are better than one."
Harry could see the determined set of Doyle's jaw and relented. "Fine."
"Thank goodness," he heard the other man say.
The last thing he remembered was Doyle talking about his father and then three strange faces jumping down at them from a ledge. Must have hit my head on a rock or something, he thought groggily. He shifted around until he could see the other man. When he could finally focus on the doctor he realized Doyle was similarly trussed up.
"What happened?" he whispered looking around the cave.
"I'm not sure," Doyle replied. "There were more of those dark eyed faces I saw last night. After that we were here, tied like a pair of dressed birds."
Houdini started pulling and straining at the ropes looking for weaknesses. Whoever tied them knew what they were doing, there was very little give in the binding and Houdini could feel the rope twisting against the material of his shirt cuffs. He managed to sit up for a moment only to overbalance and land against Doyle.
"Not that I want to throw you off your game, but we're in a bit of a pickle here," the doctor said. "Could you work any faster?" he whispered.
Harry ignored him and tried to sit up again while fighting the bindings. "What kind of aliens use rope anyhow?" he asked more to himself.
"The same kind that use oil lamps," Doyle replied and Harry heard the tinkle of glass as Arthur presumably broke the lamp.
Houdini was still fighting with the rope when Arthur stood over him holding a shard of glass. Harry endured the teasing with bad grace and scooted around so Doyle could reach his ropes. "Watch your fingers," he told the doctor as the glass slipped and Arthur winced.
"It's nothing, hold still," he replied as he pulled the glass through the last bits of rope and Harry was free. Houdini stood rubbing at his wrists to restore circulation. He nodded at Doyle's hand as he dropped the glass. "How's your hand," he asked as Arthur dabbed at the small cuts.
"It's fine." he wiped the last of the cuts and put his handkerchief away. "How's your head?"
Harry felt a small lump behind his ear, but waved off the doctor. "Come on I really want to find these aliens."
Houdini thought about this as he followed the villagers and Milov's family back out of the hills. Jim Gorton walked on one side of his niece, Daniel on the other holding his new son. Harry watched how Gorton would glance up and glare at one of Milov's people and Harry tensed almost every time.
"We won't let anything happen," Arthur reminded him as the trio walked back together. "I know someone who can help, I'll send him a telegram once we're back in the village."
Harry nodded, then glanced over at Arthur. "Do you want to talk about him?" he asked quietly.
"Talk about whom?" Adelaide asked from Harry's other side.
Doyle hesitated and Harry wondered if the moment had passed. "He's talking about my father," Doyle finally said to Adelaide. The trio slowed down and the rest of the villagers were soon out of sight.
The constable made a silent "Oh." and waited.
Doyle looked down the hill. He glanced at Houdini as the magician stood at his side and sighed. "My father was an alcoholic," he admitted to Adelaide. "He was angry at the world, at me. When I was eleven, he was taken away."
Adelaide squeezed one of Arthur's hands, but said nothing.
"He never knew my wife, or the children. He died eight years ago, just before Kingsley was born."
"That's why you suspected Daniel," Adelaide said. "He reminded you of your father."
Doyle smiled at her and nodded. "Yes, I suppose it is." He glanced over at Harry. "We all seem to have our blind-spots."
"Chief Merring will be pleased," Adelaide said as they started walking again. "We found Rosie, and proved there were no Martians."
"Oh, I'm sure," Harry replied with a laugh. "Just imagine what this will do for our notoriety!"
It was late as Adelaide sat in the snug with Doyle and watched the villagers around them. The room was full of talk of the people found in the cave and the safe return of Rosie. The proud parents had left a little while ago after showing off their new son. Her only worry was Jim Gorton who sat in a corner steadily drinking.
They sat at their usual table in the corner, the only difference being Doyle sat against the wall where Harry usually situated himself.
"Where's Houdini?" she asked as the innkeeper delivered pints of beer.
"He went to visit Martha," Doyle answered. "He wanted her to know who her kobolds really were. She was one of the few people here who wasn't afraid of them."
"Will Milov and the others be all right?" she asked glancing around the room.
Doyle sighed. "It's hard to say. They've been in those caves for a long time, they have any number of physical problems as a result of the lack of sunlight and poor diet. The doctors will do what they can."
They talked about the case and the details of the trip home until Adelaide noticed a change in the noise around them and looked up to see Harry walking through the door. He crossed the room ignored the stares and said, "Shove over." to Doyle as he sat down.
Adelaide was happy to see Harry was relaxed and smiling, something she had missed during the case. "How is Martha?"
"She's cooking," Harry said and nodded his thanks to the innkeeper for the glass of milk. "She said she'd have more knedle ready before the train left tomorrow." He sipped at the milk.
Their light conversation continued until what Adelaide feared actually happened. As Harry and Doyle bickered over the details of the case she noticed several people in the snug standing as Gorton headed toward their corner of the room.
She exchanged a quick look with Doyle and flicked her eyes at Harry. When Arthur saw what she was watching, he laid a hand on Houdini's arm.
Gorton stepped up to their table and stared belligerently at the magician. Doyle tightened his grip.
"I suppose I should be thankin' ye," Gorton slurred the cuts and bruises from his fight with Houdini standing out in the dim light of the snug.
Harry looked up at the man and said nothing, he merely smiled slightly and sipped more milk.
"You're welcome, Mr. Gorton." Harry choked a bit on his milk, but Adelaide continued, "We're all very glad your niece was found safe."
Gorton stood flexing his fingers. Adelaide could see he was considering starting another row with Houdini. Harry for his part ignored the man as best he could.
"That'll do, Jim," the innkeeper said as he stepped forward to grip Gorton's arms. "Time you were off home." The innkeeper dragged Gorton away from the trio and out of the snug.
Come on, Doc," Harry said sliding off the bench. "Why don't you try sleeping in the bed tonight."
As she expected Harry didn't deny he'd pilfered from her, but she wasn't expecting him to ask her about her name. When did they learn about that? she wondered. Just how much do they already know?
As it turned out, Houdini at least knew quite a lot, as she discovered when he told her about finding a coroner's report showing her husband committed suicide.
She could read the sympathy on Harry's face as he started to say, "Look, I know it must be …"
She didn't let him finish. "I believe he was murdered."
Harry stared at her and fiddled with his watch fob.
Before he could say anything, Doyle held up the London paper he'd been reading. "Look." He glanced from one to the other. "Nigel Pennington is dead."
Adelaide took the paper from him and stared at the picture.
"Adelaide, what's going on?" Doyle asked with concern.
"I don't know, but I think my life may be in danger." She looked from one man to the other. "I, I didn't think … "
Harry sat back in his seat. He put the cover back on the box of dumplings and traded a look with Doyle.
Arthur took back the newspaper, folded it and put it in his pocket. "You have to talk to us, Adelaide. Let us help you," he said.
Harry nodded as he took the deck of cards from his pocket. He idly cut and re-cut the cards one-handed and waited for her to speak.
You don't have to do this alone, she told herself. They can help, they want to help.
And what if they get hurt or killed in the process? she argued, I can't let that happen.
Adelaide picked up the satchel and gripped it in her lap like a shield.
Arthur told you about his father. Harry has told you about his childhood. They trust you. You need to trust them, she thought, watching Harry manipulate his cards.
Trust, it all comes down to trust. Do you trust them? she asked herself.
The answer, she realized was simple. Yes.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 06 (con't)
No more secrets, I've decided to tell Arthur and Harry about Benjamin and everything I know about how I think he died. Sadly, what I know isn't very much. Nigel Pennington was a friend of Benjamin's and his business partner. Pennington for the longest time believed the coroner's finding of suicide, he told me something about money being missing and Benjamin feeling guilty. Something recently changed his mind, apparently as he started sending letters and telegrams wanting to talk to me about something. Now I wish I'd listened to him. What was he trying to tell me?
For a writer and an magician, Arthur and Harry figured out a surprising amount about me and my history. I'd still like to know how they found out I changed my name. If I'm honest with myself, and since I'm talking to myself I should be honest, I'm glad they cared enough about me to find out the truth. I didn't make it easy for them, certainly, but they persisted and I'm a little humbled by what that says about our friendship and how much it means to both of them.
Chapter 7: Laying Ghosts
Dialog for the episode Bedlam written by David Titcher.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
I've told Harry and Arthur about Benjamin about how I think he was murdered. It was a relief really to be able to talk about my suspicions, and I realize I should have trusted both of them sooner. They both listened and offered solid ideas on how to move forward and find out what really happened. Since we returned from Devonshire, I've gathered a few new pieces of information and I hope to show them soon.
Something else is going on as well since we got back. I think I'm being followed. I never see anyone, but I just feel like I'm being watched. I should say something to Harry and Arthur, but something strange is also going on with the Doctor.
We've had one case to solve since we returned and while Harry was at the Yard bouncing new ideas around almost before the ink had dried on the newspaper, I had to call Arthur to see if he was interested in helping with the investigation. When he did arrive at the crime scene, a very creepy abandoned mansion that was supposed to be haunted, Doyle looked very tired and not at all his usual self. Harry has noticed the doctor's demeanor as well but neither of us know what to do. I hope this doesn't mean his wife is worse or that there is something wrong with the children.
He stared at the typewriter with a combination of frustration and anger. Everything was making him feel angry lately if he were honest. HG Smith demanded something for the next issue of Strand, preferably a Holmes story, which he had no interest in doing. He'd been blocked for more than a month trying to write his next true crime piece; his most recent attempts had joined his previous efforts in the waste basket. Maybe I am just a hack writer of pulp and not good for anything serious or meaningful, Doyle thought bitterly looking around the cluttered desk.
He knew the stress was starting to show, he knew he was drinking more; it was mid morning and the whiskey bottle was already empty. He was also unshaven, hair mussed, and clothes wrinkled. He snapped at both of the children and Vera almost daily, his temper on an extremely short fuse. In short, you're acting just like your father, he accused himself. The one thing you never wanted to become was like him.
Thoughts of his father made Doyle review, again, the offer from the estate agent to buy his father's house. Why do you hold on to it? he asked himself. There are few happy childhood memories contained within those walls. He'd closed up the house permanently once he returned home from Africa on the Mayumba. He never visited, Touie knew about the house, but never asked about it. Let it go, let him go, he told himself as he set the contract aside yet again.
He was distracted by the phone ringing. He picked up the instrument and mumbled "Hello," into the receiver.
"How do you feel about demonic possession?" Harry's voice asked without preamble.
The question took him by surprise.
"Hey, Doyle, are you there?" Harry asked after a few seconds of silence.
"Mmm, yes," Doyle replied his voice scratchy even to his own ears.
Harry must have heard it as well. "Are you all right? You don't sound so good."
Doyle pulled himself together and said, "No, I'm fine," in a stronger voice. "What did you mean about demonic possession?"
"Adelaide has a case. The witnesses are saying a woman was possessed and bit a priest, among other things." Doyle could hear the disbelief in Houdini's voice.
"Where was this?"
Harry gave him the details on the church then added, "Adelaide is already there, I can be outside your house in twenty minutes with a cab."
The last thing he wanted was for Houdini to see him in his current state, he had his pride still if nothing else. "I need to finish some work here," he said. "I'll have to meet you there. I can be there in an hour."
There was silence from the other end of the wire, then, "Are you sure you're all right?"
Arthur could hear the worry in Harry's voice and a small part of him was grateful for the concern, but his impatience with everything at the moment reared up instead. "I'm fine," Arthur replied, exasperated. "I'll be there in an hour." And he hung up the phone.
He glared at the typewriter as he stood from the desk. Playing truant from real work, he thought with a mixture of guilt and anger as he walked out of the room.
Once he saw the body of the woman, his mind focused on the medical mystery and his anger melted away again. It was an interesting case to be sure. Someone literally frightened to death was unusual.
As he stood next to Adelaide, he could feel Harry staring at him. "You look worse than usual," Houdini finally told him with yet another worried appraisal.
He passed off a lie about the children and ignored the other man. Leave it alone, Harry, he implored silently as Houdini continued to study him.
Houdini must have heard his silent plea and changed the subject to adrenaline and made a point of telling a story about a daring escape from Lake Michigan. Doyle was grateful he'd dropped the topic of his, Arthur's, appearance and merely shook his head at the tale of Harry punching through solid ice in order to free himself.
He and Adelaide knelt by the dead woman and looked for anything that could identify her. When the constable found the BRH sewn into the collar of the woman's dress Arthur's heart skipped a beat and he tried to conceal a shudder.
Bedlam. Of all the places a case could take us, why there and why now? he thought. He heard Houdini's comment about loony bins and clenched his fists to keep himself from hitting the other man. He doesn't know, he reminded himself. You never told him how or where your father died. Still the words had hurt, and Arthur couldn't help himself from replying, "Anyone behaving at all out of the ordinary can be committed. Jumping into a frozen lake for instance." He looked pointedly at Harry as he stood and walked out of the church without a backward look.
Doyle stood apart as Adelaide and Harry waited for a cab out to Bethlem Royal Hospital. Harry was saying something about never seeing a mad house in person and Doyle mused on such places and their less than auspicious history. He realized Houdini, being an American, was probably not as aware of the history of Bedlam, as it was known colloquially, but Adelaide had to know what they were walking into by going there. It was better now, but only because conditions in the past were so atrocious.
Doyle sat in the cab with Harry beside him and lost himself in the past. He could hear Houdini and Adelaide talking about the case and possible ways and means, but he let the voices just wash over him.
Looking back, Doyle realized he never saw the paper again after that encounter with his father. He hadn't thought about that scene for years. It was one of the many reasons he encouraged Kingsley to write and share his stories with the family, it was a privilege he was denied by his own father.
"What is this nonsense?" Charles Doyle asked his young son. He flapped the paper back and forth as he waited for the child to answer.
"It's a story, Papa, just a story," young Arthur said, near tears. He'd written the story for school and was so proud when the teacher read it out to the class. He thought his father would be proud of him as well, but instead Charles looked ready to tear the paper to shreds.
Charles looked down at the boy with disdain. "Are you crying, now, boy?"
Arthur shook his head and quickly dried his eyes. He watched his father pour out another drink and stalk behind his desk, the paper with the short story still gripped in his hand.
" … back bend like that?" Harry asked.
Doyle was aware the chatter in the cab has stopped and looked around. Harry in turn was watching him with fresh concern on his face.
"I'm sorry?" Doyle asked trying to sound normal.
Harry's forehead creased as he frowned and glanced over at Adelaide.
"I said I understand about the adrenaline and the super-strength, but how did her back bend like that?" Harry repeated.
Arthur gave himself a mental shake and tried to focus on the case. "Oh. It's called lumbar hyperlordosis," he explained. "It could be the result of Ehlers–Danlos, or possibly another symptom of the excessive adrenaline in her system when she died."
He could see Houdini was about to ask after him again and Doyle changed the subject. "Does anyone at the hospital know we're coming?"
Adelaide glanced back and forth for a moment then said, "They should. I had a bobby send a message once we knew Molly's name and how recently she'd been released."
Arthur nodded at this information and went back to staring out the window.
He felt a tap in his knee and jumped slightly. "We're here," Harry said quietly as he withdrew his hand.
The distinct ambulance wagon for Bethlem Royal Hospital was outside the townhouse when Arthur came home from school. He could hear yelling from inside the house and he also thought he heard his mother crying.
He entered the house cautiously and followed the noise to his father's study. The adults in the room ignored the young boy standing in the doorway; two burly men were too busy fighting with Charles while his mother wept in the corner by the window.
He watched as his father fought with the two men, biting, thrashing and kicking as they tried to restrain him. When the men dragged his father out of the room, Arthur was in tears.
"The world hates a whinger, Arthur." were the last words his father said to him.
Doyle nodded and stepped out of the cab after Houdini. He could see the hospital in the middle distance of the expansive grounds. From the outside the hospital looked impressive, benign. Doyle dreaded what he would find once inside the doors. He took a deep breath and followed the others up the wide pavement to the front door.
It was only slightly less horrible than he feared. Dr. Pilson explained how he had cleaned up the hospital, changed it from something used as a sick entertainment to a place where patients could be cured. For all of the cleanliness of the rooms and the patients now, Doyle could only think about his father living out the rest of his days a prisoner here.
He was appalled to hear the methods used by Dr. Pilson as so-called cures and he wondered if his father had suffered any of them before his death. He had no idea what happened to his father he realized with a guilty stab of conscience. True, he'd been a child when Charles was taken away and his mother refused to talk about him, but he could have found out the facts later, maybe now was as good a time as any.
After a curious encounter with a patient claiming to actually be Sherlock Holmes, Doyle was only slightly surprised to hear Dr. Pilson admit there was a patient that appeared to be actually possessed when Adelaide asked, and appalled to find out such a person was allowed contact with other, vulnerable minds.
Doyle stepped forward and asked to see the hospital's records for the possibly possessed priest as well as any patients he had contact with recently. His disappointment when Pilson refused to show them any hospital records was short-lived as he realized he could kill two birds with one stone.
You want to know how your father died, now's your chance, he told himself as he left the hospital. A few phone calls, call in a marker or two and you will help Adelaide solve a case and find out what really happened.
Sitting at his desk, he ran into the uncounted layers of personnel that kept important people like the Lord Chief Justice at arms-length from the general public. He slammed the phone back into the cradle and fumed. It seemed he couldn't even follow through on promised assistance with a case. He saw the waste basket out the corner of his eye and took his frustration out on the crumpled bits of paper.
You can't write, he thought, stomping on the papers. You can't help with the case either it seems. He stomped down again. Exactly what use are you, really? He gave serious thought to petulantly kicking over the basket entirely when he was interrupted. Kingsley could not have picked a worse time to enter his office. He snapped at the boy once again and after the child left in tears, Doyle sat defeated at his desk.
He heard the echoes of his father in the way he treated his own son and it scared him. He pushed aside the papers on the desk and rested his head on his arms. Oh, Touie, I need you, he silently cried out for his wife. He could feel himself losing control of his anger but he didn't know how to stop it. Touie had always helped him deal with the fits of pique he occasionally had while writing; she would ask the right questions or offer just the right suggestions to get him motivated again.
"Father, are you all right?" Mary asked from the doorway.
Arthur left his head on his arms for a moment so his daughter wouldn't see his face. He took a deep breath and sat up. Mary's face was scrunched up in a frown as she came further into the study. "What do you want?" Doyle asked her in a rough voice.
Mary hesitated and Arthur could see she was about to flee the room. "Mary, what did you need?" he asked again in a softer tone.
The girl took a step closer to the desk and said, "Have you talked to the doctors about visiting Mother?"
Doyle sighed and looked out the window behind him. He'd completely forgotten about his conversation with Mary before he left for Devonshire. He turned back to face his daughter. "No, I haven't," he told her, working to maintain his temper. "I will mention it the next time I go to visit, all right?"
Mary nodded, but didn't leave. She toyed with the edge of the desk. Finally she spoke, "Father, why are you sad?" She looked up at him and Arthur could see the mix of confusion and worry in her eyes.
Doyle rubbed at his forehead. "I'm not sad, love." he told her. "I just have a lot on my mind at the moment."
"Mr. Houdini could help," she told him innocently. "He could do magic tricks for you and then you wouldn't have as much to think about."
Arthur smiled in spite of his mood. Harry, what have you done? "Yes, I'm sure he could," he said. He shifted in his chair and continued, "I do have things to do this afternoon." He looked pointedly at the door.
Mary took the hint and left the room. He couldn't leave as he still needed to harry a warrant from the Lord Chief Justice. He made another call, received another platitude about how busy the man was and rang off.
The typewriter sat there antagonizing him. He made a few futile efforts toward writing but gave up and added the crumpled remnants to the rest in the basket. Holmes was so simple. He could write a Holmes story in a month sometimes less. That's one reason why you killed him, remember. He was too easy. There was no substance in him. Tell that to the lunatic who thinks he is Holmes, he told himself. There was the other reason, of course, but he refused to think about it.
"Doctor Doyle?" Adelaide's voice asked.
Doyle pulled himself together and replied, "Yes, Adelaide? I haven't heard back from the Lord Chief, yet if that's why you're calling."
"It isn't," she said. "Can you come to St. Bartholomew's? Another Bedlam patient was brought in early this morning. He's … there's something strange about him."
"Yes, all right, I'll be right there."
He stepped into the morning room just long enough to drink a cup of tea then left the house. It never occurred to him he was still wearing the same clothes as the day before.
Harry was already there with Adelaide when Doyle arrived and he was again giving Arthur worried looks. Doyle waved off Houdini's concern as they entered the ward to find a man catatonic and chained to the bed. Adelaide read off the police report identifying the man as Simon Fleming another recently released patient from Bethlem Royal.
"I smell whiskey, and despair," Harry said after a couple of exaggerated sniffs of Doyle. "Your children are never rambunctious," Harry continued calling Doyle on his lie from the day before. "And for a professional writer, you've been spending way too much time with us. So I'm guessing you have a major case of writer's block."
Doyle ducked his head with a sigh. "Keeping Holmes dead is proving more difficult than I thought," he admitted in a low voice.
Harry just shrugged. "So let him live. Give the people what they want. More Sherlock, less Boer War. Win-win."
"It's more complicated than that," Doyle answered.
He was grateful Adelaide chose to focus on the case instead of his personal problems as she pointed out the pattern of marks on their victim's neck. The pattern was similar to the marks on Molly's neck the day before, and when Doyle connected the dots to form a pentagram the idea of demonic possession seemed far more plausible.
He let the conversation of the others fade as he warred with himself again. Adelaide would never agree, and worse it would put her in an awful position with Merring, one side of his mind argued. Harry, however, would probably help me smuggle out the file and anything else I wanted, consequences be damned, said the other. If you do this, you can't tell either of them, he finally decided.
Doyle took charge once they arrived. He slapped the warrant down on Pilson's desk and demanded to see all of their files as well as Nathaniel, the possessed priest. Dr. Pilson read over the warrant and with a sigh agreed to Doyle's demands. He assigned an orderly to direct them to Nathaniel's cell and promised them full access to the files room once they were done with the interview.
Nathaniel was the personification of all of Doyle's fears. He was completely mad, and when he pointed out to Arthur what his greatest fear was, he couldn't help the shudder he felt up his spine.
"He's nothing more than a talented cold-reader trying to grab credit for what happened to the victims," Harry tried to reassure him once they were in the files room.
Doyle wasn't listening however. He'd found his father's file and glanced through the pages. He didn't want to read the contents around the other two, he needed to do this alone. He caught a word here and there describing his father's condition but shut the file quickly when Harry asked about it. Not here, he told himself. Don't read it at home, either. What would I say if the children found it. Take it to his house, no one knows about it. Learn the truth in private.
He sent Adelaide and Harry off to find the remaining patients that had been in contact with Nathaniel and since released and went to find Dr. Randall. He was the doctor of record for all of the at-risk patients and Doyle had some questions for him regarding his methods.
Doyle had a pleasant hour with the doctor, though his tea was terribly bitter and Arthur didn't drink much after the first few swallows. Dr. Randall was of the same mind when it came to Dr. Pilson's methods of lobotomies and electroshock and in general Arthur was impressed with the man. While he thought Dr. Randall's quest to cure fear was far-fetched at best, he at least felt that, unlike Dr. Pilson, Dr. Randall was actually trying to help his patients with humane therapies.
He left Bethlem Royal with his father's file and took a cab out to an older part of London. He paid off the cab a block or so away from the house and bought a fresh bottle of whiskey as he walked the last half mile. He wasn't sure what he'd find in the pages he carried and wanted to be in the correct frame of mind when he read them.
The house smelled of age and musty memory as he closed the door and looked around. Memories flooded through him. His father waving the story in his face. Being told he wasn't good enough. His father fighting with two men as he was removed from the house to the hospital. He searched for recollections where he wasn't crying in his father's presence and was surprised how few of them there were. He regretted even more how he'd snapped at Kingsley and told him to stop whining.
The study seemed the apropos place to read the file and Doyle entered the room, removed the dust cover on the desk and sat down, he put the file on the desk and the whiskey bottle in easy reach. Arthur stared at the file for a few moments then took a quick drink from the bottle and opened the file.
He had only read the first few pages when his arm spasmed. He put it off as nerves and read on. He was unconscious when he fell to the floor due to the near-constant convulsions.
Harry was worried. He was used to Doyle being the calm member of the team, a counterbalance to his own, more emotional methods. Now he was moving cautiously through an investigation, while Arthur took reckless chances. He knew something had been bothering Doyle for days after their return from Devonshire, but any attempts he, Harry, made to find out what was wrong were met with silence or a bland statement that everything was fine. He'd tried cajoling, he'd tried patience, neither worked; so now he was back to a blunt frontal assault to find out the truth.
He strolled into the police station intent on recruiting Adelaide to help with his effort only to see her set aside a file. She readily showed him the file when he asked and he read the coroner's report that Pennington's death was suspicious. He listened as she talked about Benjamin and how he was really a romantic at heart. He saw in her face she really wasn't sure what to think about Nigel Pennington, he was helping her discover the truth about Benjamin's death, but he had also accused his friend of embezzlement. Harry decided he didn't really like Pennington whether alive or dead.
Adelaide put the tiny model of the Eiffel Tower back in her desk tray and stared off into space. Harry gave her a moment to mourn then changed the subject. "Speaking of romantics, has Doyle been acting strange to you?"
Adelaide shook her head and turned back to face Harry. "He's seemed more --"
"Angry? Reckless? Impatient?" Harry stated, standing and putting his hands in his trouser pockets.
"I was going to say depressed," Adelaide replied.
Harry paced back and forth in front of the window. "He's drinking. A lot." He picked at the papers on the cabinet under the window. "He's not acting like Doyle," he admitted in a low voice.
Adelaide straightened the papers on her desk and glanced up at Houdini. "I know." She sighed. "He hasn't said anything to you about what's bothering him?"
Harry snorted out a laugh and shook his head. "Any time I ask, he tells me he's fine. He's not fine."
Adelaide smiled down at her hands.
Harry saw it and asked, "What?"
"I'm sorry, Harry, but to hear you of all people complain when someone deflects …"
Harry gave her a hurt look and went back to staring out the window.
She stood from the desk and took hold of one of Harry's arms. "So what do we do about it?" she asked and led him back to a chair.
Houdini sat and fiddled with the files on her desk as he thought about the last few days and Doyle's change in personality. "I wasn't kidding about the writer's block," Harry finally said. "But I think that's only part of the problem. The recklessness didn't start until this case and the patients at Bethlem Royal."
Adelaide sat back in her own chair and nodded. "It could be just the thought of a hospital reminds him of Mrs. Doyle," she said.
Harry disagreed. "No, he talks to me about Touie. It can't be about her."
"Something with the children?" she suggested.
Harry just shook his head. "I was at his house the night after we got back. The kids are fine. Even Doyle was all right that night. Something happened since then."
Harry sat for a moment in silence, then spoke, "We could do some digging …"
Adelaide wasn't as offended as Harry expected her to be at the suggestion they pry into Doyle's private affairs. "I'll do some checking into Bethlem Royal and see what I can find out," she offered.
Harry stood and headed for the door.
"Where are you going, now?" Adelaide asked.
Harry turned back toward her but kept walking backward as he said, "Show tonight." And left the station.
"Hey, Ma," he said quietly as he came up beside her and kissed her cheek. "Why are you still awake?"
"Hello, Erhie." she smiled at him as he sat in the chair by the sofa. "I was waiting for you. I haven't seen you for the past few days."
Harry ducked his head guiltily. "I know, Ma. I'm sorry about that. Is everything all right?"
"Certainly, why would things not be all right?" She closed the book, and set it on the table. "I've just missed you, you've been busy with your shows with your friends."
Her comment made Houdini flinch. He remembered their conversation after her lunch date at Lizabetta's. He'd told Doyle he wasn't sure how to accept his mother's statement that they had each other and that would be enough. She's lonely and you've been selfish, just like Doyle said, he chastised himself.
He leant forward in the chair and took his mother's hand. "I'm sorry, Ma," he started to say but she shushed him.
"No, no," she said. "I'm proud of you, Erhie. You help people, that is a good thing." She squeezed his hand. "I want you to know, I'm proud of my son."
Not much could make the great Houdini blush, but praise from his mother did it every time. "Thanks, Ma," he said sincerely.
She kissed his knuckles before letting go of Harry's hand. "Children should know their parents approve of them," she told him as she stood up.
Harry stood as well and when his mother went to her room, he walked into the library and sat at his desk. 'All I could think of was my father. His own drunk, non-sensical ramblings.' He thought about Doyle's comment in the cave in Devonshire. It's not the writing, it's not Touie or the children … but what could his father have to do with anything. He's been dead for eight years. Harry felt he was close to the real reason for Doyle's behavior but he just couldn't touch it. It's something big, something he doesn't want to admit to anyone, not even himself.
He explained his idea to Adelaide and she agreed they needed to go back to the asylum, but they also needed to get Arthur. Harry could tell there was something she wanted to say and held his questions until they were seated on the subway headed for Doyle's townhouse.
"So, what's wrong," he finally asked as they started moving.
Adelaide sighed and finally said, "I made some inquires. Doyle's father was a patient at Bedlam where he died eight years ago."
Harry was stunned. Well, that was unexpected. "That would explain Doyle's behavior," he said. "And that file," he finished to himself.
Adelaide looked at Harry and said, "He never mentioned this to you?"
Harry shook his head. 'When I was eleven he was taken away.' He hissed out a breath. "He did tell us, sort of," Harry said with dawning realization. "Don't you remember? As we walked back to Nethermoor, he told us his father was taken away when he was eleven years old."
"I never realized," she started to say. "It never occurred to me that his father was institutionalized."
"Me either. What was it he said at the church the other day? Anyone behaving at all out of the ordinary can be committed. He was speaking from experience." Harry stood and grasped the hanging strap as the train slowed to a stop.
Houdini led the way to Doyle's townhouse and knocked at the door. When Vera answered, he greeted her like an old friend and introduced Adelaide. "We're here for Doyle," he explained as the housekeeper closed the door behind them.
"I haven't seen him yet this morning, Mr. Houdini. It's a bit odd really as he usually has breakfast with the children. I'll go see what's keeping him"
Harry headed for the study. "Thank you, Vera. We'll wait in here."
The housekeeper bustled up the stairs and Harry and Adelaide entered Doyle's study. As Adelaide studied the various items from Doyle's travels, Harry went to the desk and started looking at papers. He shook his head at the additional evidence of Arthur's drinking in the waste basket. Then he found the estate agent's contract. So this does have to do with his father, Harry realized as he showed the contract to Adelaide.
Before she could say anything, Vera came back to tell them Doyle hadn't been home all night. Harry wasn't able to process what the housekeeper said before Kingsley ran into the study looking for his father. Harry dropped the contract and came around the desk and watched as Adelaide reassured the boy they would find Arthur.
As they left the study, Kingsley came over the Harry and asked in a quiet voice, "Did I make Daddy go away?"
Harry knelt down to look the boy in the eye. "You could never do that, Kingsley. Why would you think that?"
"I was bothering him, wanting to play football. Daddy yelled at me and then he went away," Kingsley admitted near tears.
"Hey, hey," Harry said softly as he touched Kingsley's chin so the boy would look at him. "I promise you, you did nothing wrong, OK?"
Kingsley nodded but didn't look convinced.
"We'll find him and then you'll see," Harry said as he stood. He caught Adelaide watching them and shrugged.
"Where should we start looking," she asked as Vera led the boy back upstairs.
"Do you think he's back out at Bethlem Royal?" Harry asked pacing the front hall.
Adelaide shook her head. "He didn't come home last night, remember. So where would he spend all night?"
Harry said nothing as he ran over various possibilities in his head.
"Did that contract from the estate agents have an address?" Adelaide asked suddenly.
"Umm, yeah it did, hang on."
Harry went back to the study and jotted the address for Charles Doyle's house on a scrap of paper from the waste basket.
"Here, 46 Forbes Street, London." Harry handed her the scribbled address.
"That's where he is, it has to be," she said as she walked toward the door.
Vera came back down the stairs and Harry detoured to talk to her. "We have an idea where he might be," he explained. "I'll let you know when we find him." He squeezed the woman's hand and followed Adelaide back outside to find a cab.
So he at least was here, Harry thought looking around. So where did he go?
Harry got his answer with horrifying clarity when he rounded the desk and found Doyle unconscious and convulsing on the floor. "Doyle!" Harry exclaimed as he knelt down next to Arthur. He grabbed a shoulder and laid his other hand on Doyle's head in a vain effort to stop the shaking and convey some comfort to the man on the floor.
"Oh no," Adelaide whispered behind him as she tried to touch Arthur.
"Get some help," Harry choked out as he held Doyle steady.
Adelaide nodded and stood. She squeezed Harry's arm for an instant and then was out the door. A few seconds later he heard her whistle pierce the air and hoped help arrived soon; Doyle had stopped seizing for the moment and Harry wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not. He noticed papers scattered around Arthur on the floor and since Doyle seemed to be quiet for the moment, gathered them up and stuffed them into the file folder still on the desk.
It was nearly twenty minutes before Harry heard the jangle of bridles as a hospital wagon arrived outside the townhouse. He looked up to see Adelaide leading two men with a wooden stretcher into the room. Harry stepped back to give the men room and asked, "Where are you taking him?" as the attendants strapped Doyle, convulsing again, to the stretcher.
"They're from Charing Cross Hospital," Adelaide told him, tugging Harry out of the way as the men carried Doyle outside.
"Charing Cross," Harry mumbled as he grabbed the file and followed the stretcher outside. "I have to get a message to Vera. I promised to tell her when we found him."
Adelaide took his arm again and led him to a waiting cab. "I've already sent a bobby with a message to Doyle's house. He will let Vera know what's happened and bring her and the children to the hospital," she said.
Their cab arrived right behind the ambulance wagon, but Harry was stopped at the door to Doyle's room by a haughty nurse. Harry paced the corridor outside the room and glanced through the door anytime it was opened. Houdini wasn't sure what he would say to Vera or the children and was relieved when they were delayed getting to the hospital.
Almost an hour after Doyle was brought to the hospital, a doctor finally opened the door and gave Harry and Adelaide permission to enter Doyle's room. Harry stepped into the room slowly and stared at the man in the bed. Doyle was still convulsing and a nurse was by his side trying to control the fever.
Harry listened as Doctor Chandra listed aspects of Doyle's condition. Poison, the doctor thinks it's poison, he thought furiously. Poisons can be cured, right? Which one? Which one? He studied the man in the bed and said the first thing that popped in his head, "Ergot."
The doctor looked up from his notes and nodded. "Yes. Ergot could certainly explain all of his symptoms."
"How did you ever think of that," Adelaide asked.
Harry glanced at her and shook his head as he focused on Arthur. "Lucky guess," he said absently.
Houdini was about to ask how to cure ergot poisoning when he was interrupted by Kingsley, Mary and Vera entering the room. He watched as Adelaide reassured the children Doyle would be all right and caught a guilty look on Doctor Chandra's face just before he insisted the children leave.
Oh, no, Harry thought, They haven't seen their mother in months, their father may be dying. No, they can stay. He said as much to the doctor and froze when Chandra explained he couldn't cure ergot poisoning without an antidote.
Mary gave Houdini a frightened look and Harry turned for his suit coat on the desk behind him. "We'll get one," he said staring down the doctor. "They stay here," he whispered to Chandra in passing and glanced at Adelaide to follow.
Harry stormed out of the hospital and headed for the nearest subway entrance.
"Where are we going?" Adelaide asked as she hurried to catch up with Houdini.
Harry just kept going; he found the entrance, shot down the stairs and waited impatiently on the platform.
"Harry," Adelaide said, slightly out of breath. "Where are we going?"
Houdini turned to look at her and realized belatedly his anger was showing on his face as Adelaide took a step back from him. "Think about it," he said in a harsh voice. "Patients poisoned, Doyle." Harry took a breath. "Poisoned. There's only one place that could've happened."
The train arrived and Adelaide nodded even as she boarded ahead of Harry.
Harry knew he would never be able to sit for the trip out to Bethlem Royal and chose to stand. He hoped Adelaide would write off the white knuckles of his hand as just holding on to the hanging strap and not another sign of his growing anger.
Once they deduced it was Randall who had poisoned Arthur, Harry pulled himself stiffly upright and wiped all emotion from his face. I'll kill him, he thought as the anger changed to fury. Some small, logical part of his mind tried to argue, You need him to get the antidote. Adelaide and Doyle would never let you actually hurt him.
When they left the subway, Harry found a cab and the driver must have sensed his mood as there was none of the usual haggling on fares or routes. Houdini told him where to go and the driver just nodded and whipped up his horses once he and Stratton were inside.
Adelaide tried a few times to talk to him, but Houdini only shook his head and stared out the window, clenching his hands into fists every few seconds. He didn't trust himself to speak calmly or rationally at the moment.
When they arrived, Harry helped Adelaide out of the cab and ordered the driver to wait, then he stalked up the driveway intent on finding Randall and doing whatever he had to in order to find an antidote for Doyle.
Adelaide grabbed his arm just before they reached the door and said, "Harry. Stop."
Houdini glared at the hand on his arm but didn't pull away.
"I know you're angry, I'm angry, too. But we can't go in there like this, Randall is just as likely to commit you as talk to you at the moment."
"I'd like to see him try," Harry muttered, but he took a deep breath and gently removed her hand.
"We need a plan," Adelaide reiterated and let him go.
Harry glanced up to the windows and noticed a few people, patients and nurses, staring at them. He paced a few steps away and considered their options. "We trick him," Harry finally said.
"Trick him how?"
Houdini started for the door again and Adelaide fell into step beside him. "Just like with Downey, remember?" he said holding the door for her. "We tell him we've given him ergot and he has to produce the antidote." Or we just give him the ergot for real and take the antidote. Give him a dose of his own medicine, Harry thought viciously.
Harry let Adelaide take the lead once they were in Randall's office. He listened as Randall denied any involvement with poisoning Doyle or the patients in his care.
As Randall continued the deny any wrongdoing, Harry took no small amount of pleasure in telling the doctor his own tea had been laced with ergot and there better be an antidote handy.
Harry could feel himself starting to lose control as Randall finally admitted to poisoning patients in order to cure fear. When he said Doyle had been poisoned as well, for no other reason than Randall wanted Arthur as a control subject for the experiment, Harry grabbed the doctor by the lapels of his coat and hissed in a deadly voice, "Where. Is. It."
"Harry," Adelaide whispered and tried to pull the doctor away.
Randall glanced at the top drawer of his desk and Houdini let go, pulled the drawer open and found the glass vial of clear liquid.
"This?" he asked showing the vial to Randall.
The doctor nodded and looked away.
"For your own sake, you'd better be right," Harry growled and looked at Adelaide.
"Go," she said. "I'll deal with Doctor Randall and meet you at the hospital."
Harry waved at her and left the hospital at a run.
He took the cab until they were bogged down by traffic, after that he ran. He was still several blocks away from the hospital when he abandoned the cab and Houdini's only thought was to get the antidote to Doyle as fast as he possibly could. He dodged around shoppers, store keepers and children in his wild flight back to Charing Cross Hospital and let out a panting breath when he finally saw the hospital in the next block.
He was in the corridor leading the Doyle's room when disaster struck. Harry watched in horror as the vial left his hand in slow motion and shattered on the floor when he ran into an elderly man being pushed in a wheelchair.
He couldn't believe it. He was so close and now the one thing that could save Arthur's life was a mere puddle on the hospital floor. He'd failed.
Harry walked into Arthur's room and couldn't look at anyone other than the man convulsing in the bed. He was aware of Vera holding on to Kingsley and Mary, alternating hugging them and trying to keep them from seeing the death throes of their father.
Harry watched as Doctor Chandra and a nurse held Doyle down during the worst of the seizures and he felt empty. He'd had the cure, in his hand, and it was gone. There was nothing else he could do.
He wasn't sure how long he stood staring at the bed. Adelaide joined him at some point in his vigil. She touched his arm letting him know she was there, but said nothing. All he had to do was look over at her, misery clearly written on his face, and he knew the moment the silent message was received. Doyle was going to die.
The children eventually came up beside them as well and Harry tried to comfort Kingsley as the boy clung to Adelaide's hand. Mary stood on Adelaide's other side pale and afraid.
Then the seizures stopped.
Houdini held his breath, waiting for Chandra to tell them Arthur was gone. Instead, he saw Doyle slowly open his eyes. Harry slowly let out the breath he was holding and swallowed his own emotions as he listened to Doyle reassure his children that he was never cross with him, only with himself.
Harry stood at the end of Doyle's bed and knew he was grinning like a fool as he and Arthur bickered over the idea of telepathic communication, but he didn't care. Against all odds, Arthur beat the poison was was going to be all right.
Doyle soon fell asleep and Harry watched as Vera led the children out of the room. Adelaide said something about making sure Randall was properly booked and left as well. He ignored the subtle and not so subtle hints from the hospital staff thinking he should leave, too. He wasn't going anywhere tonight. He'd nearly lost his best friend, he needed to stay, both for his own piece of mind and because he had the feeling Arthur wasn't quite out of the woods yet. He brought the chair from the desk over to near the bed and sat down to wait.
"Why are you still here," Arthur asked, his voice rough.
"I just thought you would need to talk, about, things," Harry said hesitantly. He wasn't at all sure how Doyle would react to his attempt to help.
Doyle shifted in the bed and but refused to look at Houdini. "What sort of things do you want to talk about?" he deflected.
"Oh, no, Doc, this one isn't about me, it's all about you." Harry reached out to pour some water into a glass on the bedside table and handed it to Arthur. "You've been acting weird for days," he accused. "I just thought, you might need a friend. To listen."
Doyle still refused to say anything as he sipped the water, so Harry took the plunge. "I know a little bit about ergot poisoning," Harry said leaning back in the chair. "We found you convulsing on the floor of your father's abandoned house, so there had to be the other stuff as well. Like hallucinations, maybe." Harry saw Doyle flinch at the word and continued in a softer voice, "You aren't crazy, Arthur. I promise you, no one is going to take you anywhere you don't want to go."
The sun had set completely and the room was in a dim twilight. Harry didn't move to turn up any of the lamps, though. He suspected the best way to get Arthur to talk was to maintain an anonymous darkness for confessions.
Arthur sighed and Harry saw the moment he made the decision to open up about what had happened. Doyle sat up further and Houdini helped rearrange the pillows. Once he was comfortable, Arthur spoke, "It was Bedlam," he said in a small voice. "I was trapped, I couldn't escape. Some part of my mind knew what was happening … that I was dying."
Houdini listened as Arthur told him everything he could remember about the hallucination. Harry winced as he heard about Touie and marveled that Doyle was able to pull himself out of the delusion. Once Doyle was done Harry sat back in the chair and shook his head. He clenched and unclenched his fists as he thought about the physical and mental agony Arthur had been through. It's a good thing Adelaide already arrested Randall, Harry thought viciously.
"That's what I've always feared the most," Arthur confessed. "I was terrified of becoming like my father, an angry, bitter man. I've done everything in my power to make sure it didn't happen. Then I received the notice last week from the estate agent wanting to buy the house." Doyle toyed with the blanket and didn't look up. "I'm not sure why it bothered me so much. I never really liked that house or the memories it contained."
"It was the last link," Harry mumbled.
Doyle nodded automatically. "Yes, I suppose it was. Maybe I just hoped I would one day find some sign there that he had approved of my becoming a writer instead of practicing medicine." Doyle shrugged and looked away.
"My mother told me something the other day," Harry said quietly. "She said children should know their parents are proud of them. I'm sorry your father never told you that, Arthur. But you know what? Kingsley and Mary both know how you feel about them and that you love them. That's the best evidence I know that you will never be like Charles."
Doyle shifted in the bed and Harry suspected he was being studied by his friend. "Did your father ever tell you, that he was proud of you?"
Harry chuckled in the darkness. "My father died before I was thirteen. He never knew anything about me as an adult." Harry fiddled with the water glass on Doyle's bedside table. "My father was a part-time rabbi, did you know that?" Harry didn't wait for an answer. "He didn't approve of the magic tricks my brother and I did as kids to earn money. He thought we were tempting devils and would be punished for our lack of reverence."
Doyle frowned. "But your mother doesn't mind?"
"My mother is a very practical woman," Harry said with a smile. "She thinks the greater offence is to starve."
They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, then Harry said, "That was the complication, wasn't it?" When Doyle didn't say anything Harry continued. "You said bringing back Holmes was more complicated than simply bringing him back to life. Exactly how much of your father is in Holmes? It can't be a coincidence you killed off Sherlock around the time your father died."
Harry heard the hiss of air from the bed and wondered if he'd pushed too far. Maybe a shove is really what he needs, he thought and waited.
He was relieved when Doyle chose to talk and explained the similarities between Sherlock Holmes and Charles Doyle. When Arthur stopped speaking, Harry asked, "Did you like Holmes? Writing stories about him I mean."
Doyle sighed. "Holmes was easy. I'm not sure I want him to be my legacy to the world, though. There are so many other things, important things, that should be written about instead of him."
Harry shrugged. "I think it's a little late for that, Doc," he said with a smile. "Who knows, maybe writing more Sherlock will let your memories of your father heal as well."
Houdini was distracted by a nurse coming in to check her patient. She turned up the lamp by the bed and frowned when she saw Harry still in the room, long after visiting hours ended, but Harry ignored her. He got up and moved the chair so she could check over her patient, but he refused to leave the room.
Her checks complete, the nurse turned the lamp back down and left with one last head shake at Harry. Finally realized I wasn't disturbing the patient and I'm not leaving, Harry congratulated himself.
Doyle was lying flat again and nearly asleep, so Harry quietly sat by the bed and did his best not to fidget.
"You should go," Doyle mumbled but didn't open his eyes.
Harry smiled and shook his head. "Nah, I wouldn't want to give that nurse the satisfaction of thinking she was throwing me out."
"Doyle," Harry said in a low voice and touched Arthur's arm. "Doyle, it's just a dream."
As Doyle continued to mutter in his sleep, Harry tried again. "Arthur, come on, wake up." Harry grasped Doyle's arm harder and tried to shake the other man awake.
This was apparently the wrong thing to do as Doyle fought against him. Harry tightened his grip on Arthur's arms to keep him from falling out of the bed, and said louder, "Arthur! Wake up!"
Harry lost his grip on one arm and Doyle snapped it back and forward, catching Harry right in the eye with a fist. "Doc!" Harry yelled, ignoring the pain as he gripped both of Arthur's arms again. "Doc, wake up."
Doyle stopped fighting him and Harry was surprised it was the nickname that seemed reach Arthur's subconscious. He was also surprised the noise hadn't brought the entire nursing staff running, but was grateful just the same.
As Arthur relaxed under Harry's hands Houdini said, "It was just a dream, Doc. You're all right."
Doyle opened his eyes but Harry could see he wasn't really that awake. "You're in the hospital, remember? It was just a dream," he reassured again.
Arthur vaguely nodded and Harry fervently hoped he would have no memory of the incident in the morning as the other man drifted back to sleep.
Harry gently probed his face with one hand as he watched Doyle. And the bruise had just disappeared from the hit Gorton landed, Harry thought with a sigh as he put his feet up on the edge of the bed and settled back in the chair. Maybe no one will notice.
Doyle awoke the next morning and took a moment to orient himself. He wondered how many times he'd have to remind himself he was no longer in his hallucination, that he had escaped. As he lazily looked around the room he found Harry asleep in a chair against the bed; his head cocked at an angle hiding half his face, feet on the edge of the bed and his suit coat used as a makeshift blanket. He looked incredibly uncomfortable.
A nurse came in with a breakfast tray and tsked as she saw the man asleep in the chair. She gave the tray to Doyle and started to shake Harry awake, but Doyle stopped her. "Let him sleep," Doyle told her in a whisper.
"He's going to have a terrible crick in his neck," the young woman whispered back sympathetically.
Doyle couldn't disagree, but he suspected Houdini needed the rest more than he needed to be comfortable.
The nurse edged carefully around Houdini's chair and said on her way back to the door, "The doctor will be by in an hour or so to check on you."
Doyle nodded and gazed forlornly at the breakfast tray as the nurse left. The bowl contained a thin oatmeal, what the sailors on the Mayumba called skilly; now he understood why they hated the stuff when he gave it to them in the ship's sick bay. There was also a few pieces of dry toasted bread and juice. How is anyone supposed to recuperate eating this, he thought as he moved the tray to the bedside table with a clunk.
The noise woke Harry with a start and Doyle watched with some amusement he jerked awake and looked around.
"Oh, hey," he said groggily. "It's morning."
Doyle glanced at the morning sun streaming through the window and smiled. "Nothing gets by you does it?"
Harry gave Arthur a long suffering look as he tried to sit up further in the chair. "Well you sound better at least."
Doyle found to his amazement he did feel better, not only his because of his recovery from the ergot poisoning, but he felt lighter, like a weight had been lifted. He realized he owed Harry a thank you for helping exorcise the remaining demons regarding his father.
As Houdini untangled himself from the suit coat and laid it over the footrest of the bed, Doyle noticed the other man was sporting a puffy bruise around his eye. "What in the world happened to you?"
Harry looked down at himself and said, "Well I did spend the night sleeping in a chair."
Doyle tried to look stern as he replied. "I meant your eye. Who hit you?"
Harry reached up to feel around his sore cheekbone and shrugged. "It's nothing."
Doyle leaned against the headboard and studied Harry as Houdini pinched a piece of toast off the breakfast tray.
Before he could voice his suspicions on how Houdini received another black eye, Vera bustled in with a basket in her arms and Doyle mentally rejoiced at the prospect of a proper breakfast.
Harry stood up, moved the hospital tray to the desk in the corner of the room and helped her unpack the basket onto the bedside table. Doyle was surprised when she set out two plates, cups and sets of silverware on the table and unpacked enough fruit and breakfast breads to share as well as a large vacuum flask of tea. She saw his confused look and said, "I knew Mr. Houdini would be here; he needs to eat, too."
Harry smiled slightly as he sat back down at the makeshift breakfast table and waited as Doyle maneuvered himself to the edge of the bed. Vera poured out tea for both of them then left saying she would bring the children in the afternoon when she picked up the basket.
They had just finished eating when Doctor Chandra came in to check on Doyle. The doctor gave Houdini a significant look and flicked his eyes toward the door; Harry ignored the hint and quickly packed the dishes back in the basket and wandered as far as the desk in the corner. When Doyle made no indication he wanted the other man to leave, the doctor shrugged and started his exam.
Doyle endured the poking and other tests with only a few sighs and huffs of impatience. "I feel I can safely say you will make a full recovery, Doctor Doyle," Chandra announced as he stepped back. "A most amazing recovery from ergot poisoning as I've ever seen," he added as he made a few notes in Doyle's file.
"When can he go home?" Harry asked from his corner.
The doctor glanced at Houdini, but directed his answer to Doyle. "Oh, I think you can leave as early as this afternoon. I want to keep an eye on you for a few more hours, make sure there aren't any relapses, but I don't anticipate any problems."
Doctor Chandra gathered up his instruments and files and politely held the door for Adelaide so she could enter as he left the room.
"You look much better," Adelaide said as she came up to the bed and squeezed Doyle's hand.
"Thank you, Adelaide. It seems I can go home this afternoon." Doyle rearranged the blankets on the bed and settled back against the headboard.
Harry brought the chair back for Adelaide to sit, took his suit coat from the end of Doyle's bed and put it on.
"If Addy is going to stay here for awhile, I'll go tell Vera the news and have her bring back some clothes." He fixed his coat collar and looked toward the bed.
"That's --" Doyle started to say, but Adelaide interrupted, "What happened to your eye?"
Harry ducked his head and Doyle could see he really didn't want to discuss the injury.
Adelaide stood up to get a better look at the bruise. "You didn't say anything about getting hurt yesterday and I don't remember seeing this."
"Constable, what's going to happen to Doctor Randall?" Doyle asked in order to rescue Houdini.
Harry shot him a grateful look as Adelaide sat back in the chair. Doyle nodded once and smiled in acknowledgment.
"Nothing has been decided yet," Adelaide answered glancing from Doyle in the bed to Harry standing slightly behind her. "He's responsible for one death, one case of catatonia --"
"Attempted murder of Doyle," Harry muttered behind her.
Adelaide nodded, "Yes, that too. Not to mention the poisoning of any number of Bedlam patients. Chief Merring wants a judgement for a murder trial, but I suspect Doctor Randall will end up a patient at a hospital like Bethlem Royal instead."
Harry shifted from foot to foot and crossed his arms. "Not good enough," Doyle heard him mutter before he started toward the door. "I'll bring Vera back later this afternoon, Doc," he said at the door and left.
Doyle watched the door slowly close and turned back to Adelaide. "Do I want to know what happened while I was …"
"Dying?" Adelaide said in a small voice. Doyle watched as a series of emotions played across her face and waited.
"I've never seen him like that," she finally said. "Once we figured out you'd been poisoned by Doctor Randall, Harry … it was almost like he was … possessed." she smiled at the irony. "He was angry," she whispered.
"I've seen him angry before, Adelaide," Doyle said with a slight smile thinking about any number of disagreements they'd had over the past months.
Adelaide shook her head and looked away. "No. Not like this. He was hard and cold and ..." she hesitated. "I'm not sure he wouldn't've killed Randall if I wasn't there to arrest the doctor instead." She turned back to Doyle. "We've never seen him like that, when he felt his family was threatened."
Doyle pushed himself against the headboard and said, "I don't remember adopting him."
"You may think it's a joke, but you didn't see him," she said defensively. "He's certainly adopted us."
Doyle didn't say anything in reply. He remembered all of the times Houdini had been to the house in the past few months, Marry telling him Harry could make him, Arthur, feel better, Vera bringing enough breakfast for both of them this morning. Conversations in the dark. Maybe she was right after all, he thought.
As his eyes came to rest on the old upright piano, Doyle remembered something from his hallucination and lifted the cover. He smiled slightly and wondered what part of his subconscious knew about the bottles concealed in the instrument. As he was about to close the lid, however he spotted something else, tucked down in the corner. He pulled out the single sheet of paper and felt his heart skip a beat.
He read the words in disbelief; it was the story, the short-story he'd written for school. His father had kept it and he never knew; he'd always assumed the paper had been burned or thrown away. But his father had kept it.
He'd found his sign.
He left the house with a smile, the last ghost laid to rest.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 07 (con't)
Arthur was released from Charing Cross yesterday afternoon with a clean bill of health. Harry was there as promised to take him home and I think he needed to see Arthur away from the hospital as much as Doyle needed to escape. I saw a new dimension to Harry Houdini with this case, and it was frightening to say the least. Harry will hide a lot of his emotion in humor but when he is angry, furious even … let's just say I never want to see him like that again. I meant what I said to Doyle about Harry thinking of us as extended family; that sort of reaction can only be found in someone who feels threatened on a very personal level.
As for Doyle, he seems better all around. He's recovering from the poisoning certainly, but he is smiling again, and seems more relaxed than I've seen him in a week or more. I'm sure he and Houdini finally talked about what was bothering him and I'm glad it helped. Though they never did explain Harry's black eye.
Now for a personal note. Even while dealing with everything surrounding Bedlam, I've managed to find out a few new things regarding Benjamin's case, too. I now know the symbol on the ring I found in his study is the mark of an anarchist group based in Poland. I've been able to track the movements of this group through various newspaper clippings of bombings, and assassinations all over Europe. There is also the disturbing report from the coroner that Nigel Pennington was also murdered, probably by members of this same group. This makes me believe more than ever that Benjamin was also killed by these people, I can only assume because he was trying to stop their reign of terror. And now they are after me, it seems.
As I was reviewing Pennington's file this evening the station, I found a death threat left on my desk. I'm not sure if the message was left by a fellow police officer in league with the anarchists or if someone managed to leave the note on my desk without raising the suspicions of my colleagues. Either way, I feel the only two people I can trust now are Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Chapter 8: Fanatics
Dialog for the episode Strigoi written by Carl Binder
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
It's been two weeks since the death threat was left on my desk at Scotland Yard. I haven't had any cases with Harry or Doctor Doyle so I've told myself not to bother either of them yet. Instead, I've started to go through the rest of Benjamin's things; the trunk in the closet held more than just mementos, there were also newspaper articles and a journal in Benjamin's handwriting I'd never seen before. I've spent the last several evenings adding information to a map I tacked to a wall. I'm not sure what I've got so far, but there is a pattern there, I just can't see it yet.
Doctor Doyle has fully recovered from the ergot poisoning with no after effects. As it turns out Chief Merring did get his judgement for a murder trial, however Doctor Randall is at a hospital in the country for evaluation to see if he is fit to stand his case. Doyle has accepted this as the best he can expect, Harry, however, still mumbles under his breath if Randall's name is mentioned.
Harry has taken this period of quiet as a chance to spend more time with his mother. I think he's feeling a bit guilty about the amount of time he spent away from her, with the trip to Devonshire and then Doyle being so ill. I saw them out for an evening at the theater recently and Houdini pointedly ignored the reporters flocking around the entrance asking for quotes so he could properly introduce me to his mother, Cecilia. She didn't remember I sort of crashed her birthday party, and laughed when I told her. She is a remarkable woman; for all the hardships I know Harry suffered as a child, you would never guess them looking at Cecilia Weiss.
Doyle heard the frantic pounding on the front door and hurried into the entry hall. He wasn't expecting anyone, Vera and the children were away visiting his sister for another week. Adelaide didn't have a case he was aware of and Houdini, for whatever reason, rarely used the front door.
He pulled the door open with a jerk and found one of his oldest friends, Bram Stoker, about to collapse on his stoop. He grabbed one of Stoker's arms to steady him and pulled the other man into the house. Stoker stood panting in the entry hall. "Make sure it's locked," he whispered pointing at the door.
Arthur double-checked the door. "It's locked. What is the matter?"
Bram shook his head and slowly got his breathing under control. "I'm being followed, Arthur," he said and glanced again at the door.
Doyle led Bram into the study and sat him in a chair. "I've just made tea," he offered, "It will help calm your nerves." He poured for both of them and at Stoker's request also poured him a scotch.
Even after he finished the scotch, Doyle could see Bram was still highly agitated, more than just his usual trepidation of dealing with the public in any capacity. Stoker sat wringing his hands and constantly glanced around the room as he told Arthur about being followed while running an errand. Arthur sipped his own tea and listened. He didn't ask what the errand was or why Stoker seemed to have a small blood stain on the cuff of his shirt.
Over the course of the next hour they drank tea, Stoker included more scotch, and talked of other things, childhood adventures, publisher woes, and dealing with their public fans. Bram glanced around the room as the clock in the hall struck the hour and said, "I should be going home. Glynnis was expecting me at ten, it's after eleven."
Doyle nodded and stood, "I'll walk over with you," he offered and again took one of Stoker's arms as he stumbled up from his chair.
"You don't have to do that, I can make my own way now. I doubt that man is still out there waiting for me."
They walked back toward the front door and Arthur took his hat from the stand. "All the same, I'll walk with you. I need to get out anyway."
Bram gave him a shrewd look. "Still can't decide what to write?" he asked.
Doyle just shook his head as he opened the door. "You sound like Harry."
"Who is Harry?" Stoker asked as he surveyed the road in both directions before leading Doyle toward his townhouse.
Doyle smiled. "Harry Houdini, the escape artist; you've probably read about him in the papers a few times."
Stoker rolled his eyes. "Oh, that one. He seems to thrive in the spotlight even more than you do."
Arthur laughed as they crossed the road and turned in the direction of Bram's house. "He is enthusiastic," he admitted. "But he's also a good friend. Don't tell him, but he's very intelligent and absolutely fearless. He's been involved in a number of the cases I've told you about."
Stoker shuddered as they arrived at his door. "That won't be a problem, Arthur as I have no intention of making such an acquaintance."
Doyle followed Bram through the entry hall and into the small sitting room. They both stopped short when they saw the body lying in the middle of the room highlighted by the moonlight coming in through the window.
Adelaide walked up to the desk and said, "Mr. Stoker."
Stoker nodded to her politely but distantly and went back to writing in a small book at his desk. Arthur shook his head. He knew his friend didn't like the intrusions in his home, but also realized Stoker needed to accept it on the short term. There had been a murder, the police needed to investigate. He had talked to Merring specifically to request Adelaide lead the investigation, not just because of her investigative skills, but he trusted her to be discreet.
After a few seconds of awkward silence Adelaide took the lead. "Would you show me where you found the body?" Adelaide asked looking from Doyle to Stoker and back again.
When Stoker showed no inclination to move from the desk, Doyle gestured toward the hall. "In the sitting room, through here." He led her through the entry hall and into a small sitting room across the hall from the study. The room was sparsely furnished with a large sideboard along one wall and a small table with plants under the front windows.
Adelaide looked over the room as she entered. "The maid had a been impaled with a stake," she said moving around the bloodstained wood floor; the body and the rug had been removed by the coroner. "Isn't that rather hard to do, Doctor?"
"Very hard, I should say." He watched her walk around and noticed her body language was tight and rigidly controlled.
"So the stake may not be the actual cause of death." Adelaide looked around the room again. Arthur didn't notice anything out of place or missing other than the blood-stained rug.
"I doubt it. It would have taken tremendous force to drive a piece of wood that thick into a body. There were no signs of a struggle so Glynnis was at least unconscious at the time, but probably already dead."
Adelaide nodded absently. "I'll need to ask Mr. Stoker some questions, now," she stated and walked back toward the study.
Doyle gave her a quizzical look but said nothing merely followed her. Stoker glanced up at them with a frustrated sigh, but put down his pen and came around the desk after Doyle gave him a pointed look. Before Adelaide could start, however they were interrupted by Houdini who strolled into the room, talking and smiling.
Doyle introduced Harry to Stoker and Arthur could see the slight shudder pass over his old friend as Harry stuck out his hand. When Stoker refused to take it, Harry just shrugged and continued talking.
If I didn't know better, I'd say he was star-struck, Doyle rolled his eyes as Harry continued to gush. Stoker adjusted the tinted glasses he wore and Doyle suspected he was being glared at.
He was distracted from Harry's enthusiasm as Adelaide asked Stoker her questions. She was professional enough but Doyle was surprised by her curtness and could see Houdini had noticed, too. This is not like her at all. Something must have happened with the investigation into Benjamin's death, Doyle concluded. Doyle could easily see Adelaide did not like the answers she received from Stoker. She nodded toward the entry hall and left the room, Arthur and Harry following her, while Stoker closed the drapes in the study shutting out most of the early morning light.
The trio stopped in the entry hall and discussed what they knew about the man Stoker claimed was following him, as well as impressions on the writer himself. Doyle noticed again the juxtaposition of emotions his friends; Harry was his usual exuberant self while Adelaide was impatient and not at all like her normal professional demeanor. Doyle also found himself in the usual position of defending Stoker's actions to those who couldn't understand the writer's idiosyncrasies. The only thing they did agree on was Stoker needed protection.
Doyle was still working out the best thing to do for Stoker, when Harry solved the problem by calling out, "Bram? You're coming with me."
Doyle closed his eyes in anticipation of the explosion from Stoker at this impertinence. Harry, you've really put your foot in it this time. Surprisingly, the eruption never came. Harry must have assumed the silence meant acceptance on Stoker's part and glanced at Doyle and Adelaide for confirmation.
"I'll take care of things at the hotel," he said as he walked toward the door. "I'll let Thornton, the day manager, know he's about to have a very special, very private guest." He left the house at a quick walk in the direction of the subway.
"I need to report in to Chief Merring," Adelaide said, also walking toward the door. "I'll let him know where we are and that Mr. Stoker is staying at the Metropole for his own safety. I'll also let him know about this apparent stalker, but again, I doubt it will do much good." She left the house as well and Doyle noted her slower pace as she marched to the subway in Harry's wake.
Which left Doyle to explain to Stoker what they planned to do next. He wasn't as fooled as the others by Bram's lack of reaction and knew the other man was saving his displeasure for a more intimate audience.
"Arthur, I can't leave my home. You know that," Stoker argued, knotting his fingers.
"Bram, you aren't safe here. You said yourself this man broke into your home in the past. Now he has killed your maid. You can't stay here."
"So you believe me?" Stoker looked up and Doyle could see his hopeful eyes behind the tinted lenses.
"Of course I believe you," Doyle reassured him patiently. "You have no reason to lie about something like that."
"Yes, well, that constable friend of yours would probably disagree with you," Stoker mumbled as he shook his head.
Doyle sighed. "Constable Stratton is very good at her job. She'll find out the truth."
Stoker sat at the desk and stared around the room. "There really is no other option?" he finally asked.
"No, Bram, I'm afraid not."
"All right, then. But I want your assurance I will be left alone. I can't handle anymore of the likes of your Mr. Houdini." Stoker stood and organized items on the desk to take along to the hotel.
Doyle smiled and nodded. "I'll make sure he doesn't bother you." I'll also make sure you have some additional protection. He left Bram to pack while he made a few phone calls to arrange for a body-guard.
Bram's behavior toward Harry was exactly as Doyle feared. Stoker unpacked his cases and ignored Houdini, answering questions or statements with the fewest words required. Harry, for his part kept trying to make the writer feel comfortable in his temporary home, but it simply wasn't working and Doyle again found himself in the position of smoothing things over between Stoker and the rest of the world.
"You're right. Quirky," Harry said, smiling at Doyle as Stoker left the room.
"We should get back to Bram's house. Adelaide returned just as we were leaving. We should see what she's found so far," Doyle said and picked up his hat from the entry table.
Harry nodded. "I'll meet you downstairs. I just want to check on my mother while we're here."
Doyle went back to the first floor, sat in one of the chairs near the fire and read the paper. The murder thankfully wasn't front-page news yet, but Doyle suspected it was only a matter of time. If the fact of her employer wasn't enough, the method of her death would cause a sensation, Doyle thought, reading through the latest news from Europe.
Harry joined him a few minutes later and they left the hotel together in search of a cab. Once they were on their way Harry said, "Well there's at least one person who knows the truth about Mr. Hollister."
Doyle glanced at him and Harry explained with a smile, "My mother recognized him. She was a bit worried actually. She said Dracula reminded her too much of the old country." Harry shrugged. "Old superstitions."
"So she's not the fan her son is, then," Doyle replied.
"Hey, I like books," Harry said, then with grin and a twinkle in his eye continued, "I'll even read yours when you give them to me."
Doyle rolled his eyes and changed the subject. "I assume you've noticed a change in Adelaide recently?"
Harry's mood sobered and he nodded. "Yeah, something is definitely wrong. We haven't had any cases recently so I haven't seen much of her the last week or two. You?"
"About the same. She must have learned something new about the anarchist group her husband was investigating."
Doyle saw the face Harry made and asked, "What?"
Harry sighed. "We're assuming he was investigating, we don't really know. He could have been involved with them."
The cab arrived at Stoker's townhouse and Doyle said as they got out, "Regardless we need to ask her what's going on."
"Agreed. You ask her." Harry grinned as Doyle led the way into the house.
The answer was not at all what he expected when Adelaide showed him the newspaper clipping with a death threat scrawled across it.
Death threats? What did she stumble on to? Doyle thought as he showed the newspaper clipping of Pennington's death with the threat to Harry. No wonder she's been acting so strange. "You shouldn't be left alone," he said decisively, as he handed back the newspaper clipping and glanced at Harry for support.
"I don't need a bodyguard," Adelaide stated firmly and carried on with the case evidence as if the threat was no concern to her.
Saints preserve me from stubborn friends, Doyle thought. Bram only grudgingly agreeing to stay at the hotel. Adelaide refusing any help at all as usual. What's next?
He listened as Adelaide read out the letter Glynnis was writing but when she claimed Stoker was using him as an alibi, Doyle decided he'd heard enough. How many different ways can I explain that Bram simply cannot hurt anyone? he wondered. Doyle told her about a possible source of information on vampire cults and left the house.
Doyle thought about the public and those members who were so enamored of a writer or entertainer. His owns fans were sedate compared to Bram's. I wonder how many patients at Bethlem Royal think they are Dracula, Doyle mused as the cab carried him along. He wasn't sure what sort of fan Harry engendered. Certainly the public was much more willing to call out to him on the street, but did he really have to deal with people following him home? He was reasonably sure Houdini was kidding about the number of women he found in his hotel room. But then again, he tends to deflect with humor, had something more serious happened in the past that he can relate so easily to Bram's insistence he has a stalker?
After Doyle left, Adelaide continued to search through Glynnis Conway's room and she sent Harry down to look through Mr. Stoker's study and desk. She found other letters to friends and family detailing her life in town, they spoke mostly of a benign life in service with the occasional mention of a theater show or other entertainment. Nothing that pointed to a reason for her death or who would want her killed. No one except her employer, she thought again. Doctor Doyle can't see it because of his friendship, but there really is no one else.
She finished with the maid's room and moved on to the rest of the house. It wasn't until she found the housekeeping ledgers in the kitchen that she had her first real hint at Stoker's possible motive. Forty pound a month? There is no innocent reason for that sort of money, she thought and hurried to the study to show Harry.
She found Houdini still going through the desk and smiling over reams of paper he informed her were cricket scores from games Doyle played in. She smiled slightly as well at the thought of such a loyal friend, but her mood changed when Harry showed her the picture of Doyle and Stoker next to a lake.
Lake Como. Italy. She smiled wistfully at the memory of fishing, the rain, Benjamin proposing to her. Harry listened to her reminisce then said, "He sounds like a hell of a guy."
She was about to respond with "He was." when a different thought popped into her mind. Lake Como. We were engaged in 1894, why does that date sound familiar? There's something …
"What's wrong," Harry asked and she shook her head and dismissed the niggling concern and returned to the case.
They were still debating what the payments could mean when the phone rang.
"Hello?" Adelaide asked cautiously.
"Adelaide? Is Harry with you?" Doyle's voice asked over the wire. "I have a lead on the man Bram said was following him."
"What sort of a lead?" she asked glancing at Houdini and mouthing 'Doyle' to him.
"The professor I mentioned told me about a cemetery that's vandalized regularly by one of the vampire cults. It's possible we'll find someone there who can lead us to Bram's mystery man."
Adelaide wrote down the address and said, "We've found some things as well. We'll meet you at the cemetery in thirty minutes."
She hung up the phone and told Harry what Doyle had discovered. "You want to go looking for actual vampires in a cemetery?" he asked in disbelief.
She sighed. "No, I want to find a person or persons that can lead us to a killer." She turned toward the front of the house to leave.
"As long as we're clear, what we're looking for is people," Harry said trailing after her.
Harry left her alone with her thoughts and fiddled with a deck of cards from his pocket and gazed absently out the window.
"What's the matter?" Adelaide eventually asked. A quiet Harry was an unusual Harry.
Houdini sighed and faced her. "Nothing really, just thinking."
Adelaide said kindly, "It must be something. You haven't said a word since we left."
Harry cut the cards one-handed then gave them a quick shuffle. "It's my mother. She's oddly spooked by this case, or at least by Bram Stoker, for some reason."
"Well it is strange, even for us."
"No, it's more than that." Harry shook his head and put away the cards. "Anyway, what about you? You're acting awfully blasé about a death threat."
"No, as I've told you and Doctor Doyle many times I'm a police officer, I can take care of myself."
"But the point is, you don't have to; you've got us and we already told you we were going to help with this. Doyle's right, you shouldn't be alone." Harry eyed her intently and Adelaide almost felt guilty for how she'd treated both Harry and Arthur once they knew about the threat.
Adelaide was saved from needing to make a response as the cab pulled to a stop in front of the sign for Southwood Cemetery and Doyle handed her out of the cab. She saw the look Houdini and Doyle traded and her nascent guilt bled back to frustration.
She remembered Benjamin pushing her about the trip but at the time she thought it was just young love. When he proposed, she assumed that was the true reason for his insistence, he wanted the proposal to be special; the rain was unforeseen. But, was this the real reason? He needed to be there at that time.
'He wasn't a gambler,' she remembered telling Houdini. 'He was a romantic.'
Now she recalled his response in a new light. 'Yeah, because those two are obviously mutually exclusive.'
Was that it then? He wasn't a gambler but he was what? A spy? An anarchist? How was Nigel Pennington involved. Was he helping Benjamin ferret out the group to fight them? Was it Pennington who murdered Benjamin? There were too many questions. She wasn't sure she would ever find out the answers.
She awoke the next morning after only an hour or two of sleep, and forced Benjamin to the back of her mind. She needed to focus on the case, the murder. Her next step was questioning Stoker again, but this time about why Glynnis Conway was blackmailing him. She called Harry and Arthur to let them know her plan to meet with Stoker. It would take longer for Doyle to get to the hotel and Adelaide hoped she would have the difficult questions out of the way before he arrived. She knew Stoker was hiding something and wanted to spare Doyle another confrontation.
Harry met her in the hall outside Stoker's room and they entered together. Stoker was again wearing glasses with tinted lenses, but Adelaide let it go as she sat in front of the writer. Stoker was just as restrained as the day before. His answers were short and even with the tinted glasses, he refused to look at either Adelaide or Harry when he spoke.
The emotional explosion happened just as Doyle entered the room; and Adelaide felt a bit sorry for the doctor walking into the storm blind. As Harry was asking point-blank about the blackmail, Stoker accused Doyle of allowing an invasion of his private affairs and Adelaide explained Doyle had no say in the matter.
Adelaide glanced at Doyle as he joined them in the corner of the sitting room and listened as he tried to convince Stoker to tell them, or at least Doyle, what was going on; what did the maid know that was worth forty pound a month to keep secret? Stoker still refused to say anything about the matter, even in private to Arthur alone. Adelaide saw no other way to get the information they needed and stood to leave. Harry of course wasn't so ready to walk away; he stood hands on hips and stared at Stoker's back as the writer left the sitting room and closed the bedroom door.
"Come on," Doyle said tugging Houdini's arm lightly as he walked past the magician. "He's made up his mind and won't talk about whatever it is he's hiding."
"Eventually he may have to, Doctor," Adelaide said and walked out the door. She turned back to see Houdini still staring at the closed door to the bedroom. "Harry?"
Houdini let his hands drop to his sides and followed the others out of the hotel room.
The trio debated what to do next as they left Stoker's room and headed down the stairs to the main entry lobby of the hotel. Doyle told them about his visitor during the night and they agreed to look into Lachlan McBride as a possible suspect. As Adelaide and Doyle left the hotel she turned to say something to Harry only to see him bounding back up the stairs, she glanced up to see Cecilia watching them, a worried look on her face.
She and Doyle separated once outside. "I'll head back to the station and see what I can find out about this McBride," she said.
Doyle glanced back at the hotel and replied, "I'll see if Professor Havensglin knows anything about this particular vampire hunter. We'll meet you at Scotland Yard later this afternoon."
Adelaide nodded and walked off toward the subway station.
Harry walked out of the hotel half an hour later, unsure where to go next. His mother's reaction to Stoker was worrying him more and more. She was usually so down-to-earth and practical, he didn't like seeing her so agitated and out-of-sorts.
"Harry!" Doyle exclaimed and Houdini had the feeling it wasn't the first time Doyle had called to him.
Harry glanced around and saw Doyle coming out of the smoking room of the hotel, bowler hat in one hand and waited for the other man to catch up.
Harry nodded a greeting and asked, "Where's Addy?"
"She went back to Scotland Yard to look for McBride."
Harry gazed out at the passing traffic of pedestrians, and vehicles of varying types. "So what are we doing?"
Doyle flagged down a hansom and said, "We're going to talk to Havinsglin again and see what he can tell us about McBride." Doyle gave the driver the address for the library where the professor worked and climbed in behind Harry.
"How is your mother?" Doyle asked once they were moving. "You seem more worried about her than usual."
Harry shrugged. "I think she's homesick for New York," he said. "I promised to take her back there when we're done with this case."
Harry noticed Doyle's reaction as the doctor shuffled his feet and gripped his hat tighter and smiled. "Don't tell me you're gonna miss me, Doc."
"Don't be ridiculous," Arthur said looking out the window but Harry could see the slight smile on his face just the same.
"I still have a contract with the theater, I will come back."
Doyle just grunted.
"Besides, there's only so much family time I can handle outside my mother. I suspect the trip will only take a month."
Doyle still refused to answer and Harry changed the subject. "So where are Mary and Kingsley? You haven't said much about them."
"On a bit of a holiday. I have a sister with a house outside the City. They're visiting her."
"Any news about Touie?"
Doyle sighed. "No, still the same." Doyle glanced over at Harry and continued. "That's another reason the children are away."
Harry waited patiently saying nothing.
"I had promised Mary I would talk to the doctors about letting the children visit their mother. At first the answer was no, they didn't want Touie disturbed. But a promise is a promise and eventually I received permission for the children to have a short visit."
Doyle sighed and looked out the window again. "A part of me wishes I'd never given in to Mary's request," he whispered.
"They have to know something is going to happen," Harry said quietly. He remembered Mary's adamant appeal that she and Kingsley would not leave Arthur's hospital room after he'd been poisoned.
Doyle's face reddened as he replied, "I know. I just wanted to protect them for a little while longer. Seeing their mother like that right after I was so ill. I thought it best if they get away from all that worry for a little while."
Harry debated telling Arthur about the series of letters he'd sent to various doctors and specialists in the States, but decided not to bring it up. He would check with them while he was in New York and see if any of them had any ideas on treatments before telling Arthur what he'd done.
They found Professor Havinsglin behind a desk in the same book-lined room Doyle remembered from the day before.
"Good afternoon, Professor," Doyle said and he shook hands with Havinsglin as the Professor stood and came around the desk to greet them. "This is my friend, Harry Houdini."
Harry shook hands with the Professor as well.
"The Great Houdini," Havinsglin said with a smile. "I have to say it's a bit of an honor, sir. I've seen your theater escapes a few times."
"Still don't get tired of that," Harry whispered to Doyle then said aloud to the Professor, "Always glad to meet a fan."
"Well, what can I do for you gentlemen? Did you have any luck at Southwood, Doctor?" Havinsglin waved them toward chairs in front of the desk and sat behind it again.
"Actually we did," Doyle replied. "One of the Strigoi came to my house with information on the man following Bram. The young woman gave me the name Lachlan McBride, we were wondering if you knew anything about him."
Havinsglin sat back in the chair, a look of mild surprise on his face.
"Something wrong, Professor?" Harry asked, seeing the look.
Havinsglin shook his head. "No, not wrong, per se. I'm surprised one of them would speak to anyone outside the cult."
"She said the maid wasn't part of their world," Doyle explained. "She wanted the law to deal with the murderer."
"Well, that would hold with the beliefs of the cult." Havinsglin shuffled through various files on his desk. "McBride, McBride. Yes I think I know the man. He can be brutal in his pursuit of the Strigoi, he takes his duty as a Vanatori very seriously."
Harry couldn't contain his disbelief any longer. "I'm sorry. Strigoi? Vanatori? There are no vampires, Professor."
"You may not think so, Mr. Houdini, but for many people the old stories live on." Havinsglin found a particular file and opened it. "Yes, here is the information you wanted. Lachlan McBride, he's staying at a rooming house. Here's the address." He wrote down the address and gave it to Doyle. "You may not believe the stories, Mr. Houdini, but rest assured the people you're dealing with do and they will kill anyone who interferes with their mission or lifestyle."
Harry was about to argue his point when Doyle stood and spoke over him. "Thank you, Professor. Hopefully your information will lead us to McBride."
"You're more than welcome, Doctor Doyle. Is Mr. Stoker still safe?"
"Very safe, thank you."
Harry felt Doyle's light kick against his shin and stood as well. "Professor," Harry said and glanced around the room as he and Doyle left.
"Adelaide should be at Scotland Yard," Doyle said as they waited for a cab. "We can get her and then go to McBride's rooming house."
"Harry," Doyle said. Harry could hear the censure in his voice.
"What? We need to know if she found anything while we were talking to Professor of the Weird don't we?"
Arthur started to answer but Sergeant Gudgett appeared at the desk. "If you're looking for Constable Stratton she hasn't been here most of the day."
Doyle frowned. "We left her at the hotel a few hours ago. She hasn't been back at all this afternoon?"
"Not a word," Gudgett confirmed. "Merring wants an update. I guess you two will do." He stepped back and waved them toward Chief Merring's office.
Harry and Doyle stepped into Merrings office and Harry saw the usual look of weary resignation on the Chief's face as they took the two chairs in front of the desk. Gudgett stood behind them near the window.
"Well?" Merring asked brusquely.
"We have a lead on the man Bram Stoker said was following him the night of the murder," Doyle said.
"So you believe this story about vampires and vampire hunters?" Merring glanced from Harry to Arthur. "I'm fairly sure you don't," he said to Houdini.
Harry grinned. "Not a word of it, Chief Inspector. But as I was recently informed, these people we're looking for do."
"Unbelievable," Merring muttered. "Where did you leave Constable Stratton? She hasn't been here all day."
Harry and Doyle exchanged a quick look then Harry said, "She was checking out another lead."
Gudgett shifted behind them and Harry wondered if the sergeant was going to call him on the lie.
"Well find her then," Merring declared. "The press plans to lead with this murder in the morning and I want to tell them it's solved before we have a vampire panic on our hands."
Harry and Doyle hastily stood and left the office with Gudgett trailing after them.
"Any particular reason you've decided to help Adelaide, Sergeant?" Harry asked as they moved away from Merring's office.
Gudgett said nothing as he walked away. Harry gave him a suspicious look and tried to follow him, but Doyle put a hand on his arm to stop him. "Come on, Harry. Let's find Adelaide and look up Mr. McBride."
Harry reluctantly nodded and led the way out of the station. The sun was starting to set, but the evening was still pleasant enough they decided to walk.
"Any ideas on where to look for her?" he asked as he stepped down to the pavement.
"We could try her flat," Arthur suggested.
Harry nodded in agreement and they turned toward the alley that was a shortcut to Adelaide's street.
Harry waved and smiled at passers-by and saw Doyle's neutral expression as they walked along the pavement.
"Something on your mind, Doc?" Harry asked as they waited to cross the road.
"Don't you ever worry about those people?" Doyle asked waving an arm at the crowd they passed that called Houdini's name and waved to him.
Harry shook his head. "Those people? No. Those are just normal people. Why should I worry about them?"
Doyle turned to glance behind them. "When Bram first mentioned a stalker, you seemed to relate to his problem. You certainly had a quick answer regarding his safety. You said you knew what it was like to have obsessed fans hounding you."
"I also said it was women in my hotel room."
"And I know you were lying."
Harry glanced over at Doyle and smiled. "So what do your fans do?"
Doyle glanced up at the late afternoon sky and said, "Many of them think Holmes is a real person. They send letters to him asking for help solving their cases. Even after I killed off Holmes, I received angry letters, certainly, but not death threats. Bram has been threatened often. I can't imagine it."
"I don't know what you want to hear, Doc. Yes, I've had a few bad run-ins with so-called fans. Fights mostly; people thinking my escapes are all tricks or cheats and didn't want to accept facts." Harry started down the steps to Adelaide's flat and pounded on the door. "Most people aren't like that; you know."
He was pleased to see her open the door with a cosh in her hand. "Ready for action, good girl," he told her with a smile as he followed Doyle into the flat.
As Doyle and Adelaide talked, Harry's nimble fingers skimmed over the papers on the table and wandered through the files in the box as well. He glanced up at the map as she explained Benjamin had been near all of the locations the anarchist group attacked.
"Hey, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," Harry exclaimed picking up the small book. "Love Twain." As Doyle and Adelaide looked at him, he continued, "What? I like great literature." He stuffed the book in a pocket absently.
Adelaide frowned at him and said, "That was my husband's favorite book."
"I'll return it," Harry assured her and gestured for her to continue explaining the map.
As she spoke, Harry got a very bad feeling and wandered over to study the map. Adelaide wants to think he was trying to stop this group, that he was some sort of government agent. He read one of the newspaper articles tacked to the wall. What if that wasn't the case at all? He was at all of the same places and yet the assassinations still happened.
Neither Adelaide nor Doyle thought Harry's conclusion was correct, and told him so in no uncertain terms. Harry was unapologetic as he watched them start to leave the flat to go see McBride.
The trip to McBride's flat was made in silence. Adelaide stared out the window at the night and ignored Harry and Doyle. Arthur gave Harry any number of cross looks, silently admonishing him for his theory about Benjamin working with the anarchists. Harry played with a deck of cards and let the others alone.
They arrived at the rooming house and Doyle paid off the cab, as Harry helped Adelaide down.
"His room is at the top," Doyle said and headed up the stairs once they were inside. When Harry reached the small attic room behind Adelaide, Doyle was twisting the knob. "It's locked," Arthur announced. "We'll need to find someone with a key."
"Really?" Harry said as he nudged Adelaide aside so he could see the lock. "How long have you known me?" he asked as he swiftly picked the lock and opened the door.
They found plenty of evidence McBride probably murdered Glynnis Conway, the only problem was their suspect was also dead in a chair by the desk, two neat holes in his neck.
Doyle reached out to check for a pulse and shook his head. "He's dead," he said as Harry stepped closer. "It looks like he was exsanguinated."
Adelaide made a face and Doyle said, "All of his blood was drained."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Well then someone staged this."
"It doesn't matter at the moment," Adelaide said. "We have another murder victim, and this one also has ties to Mr. Stoker."
Doyle raised his hands. "Bram didn't --"
"I know you think he's innocent," Adelaide interrupted. "But we need to be sure."
"Fine. You get a bobby here, and I'll send a note to the man I have guarding Bram."
Adelaide nodded and left the room. Soon they heard her whistle outside as she requested assistance. Doyle found a scrap of paper and a pen to write message to Pumley. A few minutes later, a bobby entered the room and stopped in front of Doyle. "Constable Stratton says you have a message needing delivery," he said in a flat voice.
"Yes," Doyle replied showing the bobby the address on the outside of the note. "There is a man outside this room named Pumley. Give him the note and wait for his reply, please."
The bobby took the note and touched a finger to his hat before he left the room.
Adelaide reentered the room. "I've sent for Sergeant Gudgett," she said and looked around the desk.
"We already checked," Harry told her. "Nothing. No murder weapon and no evidence for vampires, either."
Gudgett didn't have any ideas either when he arrived and Adelaide explained why they were there and how they found the body.
"The only thing we know for certain is that Bram is no longer a suspect. He's been locked up and under guard for two days," Arthur said and Harry heard the relief in his voice.
Unfortunately, the bobby Doyle sent to the hotel returned with Pumley's answer. Harry read the short note over Doyle's shoulder and they exchanged a look and left the room quickly, with Adelaide close behind.
"I know where to start," Harry said once the body-guard was done talking.
"How could you possibly know where Bram is?" Doyle asked as they took the elevator back to the lobby and Harry led them outside and around the corner of the hotel to a side street. Harry explained as they walked about the incident from the previous night that his mother had seen Stoker leaving the hotel walking down the same street.
Even with all the talk about strigoi and vampires, Harry wasn't prepared for what they found in a butcher shop around the corner. As he trained his flashlight through a broken window, they all saw Stoker sitting on the floor of the shop drinking what appeared to be blood.
After a stunned moment, Arthur and Harry entered the butcher shop and helped Stoker outside while Adelaide again blew on her police whistle for assistance. While they waited, Stoker kept his head turned away from all of them. Harry heard running footsteps heading in their direction and turned to Doyle.
"Here," he said softly, giving Arthur his handkerchief. "Try and get the blood off as best you can."
Doyle nodded and took the cloth and passed it over to Stoker along with his own. Adelaide gave Harry a puzzled look as she turned to the men entering the end of the street. "What?" he asked her quietly. "There's no need for anyone else to see what we saw." Harry glanced back and saw the grateful look Doyle gave him as he, Doyle, pocketed the bloody handkerchiefs.
Adelaide sighed, but Harry could see in her eyes she agreed with him.
As the two bobbies arrived, Adelaide turned to Stoker and said in a formal voice, "Mr. Stoker, I am placing you under arrest for the murder of Glynnis Conway and Lachlan McBride." As she handcuffed the author, and handed him over to the waiting patrolmen, she continued. "Take him to the holding cells behind Scotland Yard for now. Chief Merring may want to see him in the morning."
Harry stood beside Doyle as they watched the bobbies walk Stoker back up the street. "I'm sorry, Arthur," he said quietly.
Doyle ducked his head and twitched his lips at Harry's words. "I don't supposed I can see him tonight?" he asked Adelaide as they walked up the street and back toward the Metropole.
"No," she replied with a shake of her head. "They will keep him in one of our cells for now. I'll talk to Chief Merring in the morning about questioning Mr. Stoker. That's the best I can do."
"Then I will see you both in the morning," Doyle said at the corner and turned toward the townhouse.
"Two people are dead and Bram has ties to both of them," Doyle said. "The vampires we met at the cemetery called him one of their own. Maybe there really is --"
"Don't even say it," Harry interrupted. "There are no vampires. Those people in the cemetery were just fans. Extreme fans, I'll grant you, but they were people, Arthur."
Doyle huffed out a breath. "This is one time when I almost hope you're right."
"Of course I'm right," Harry said with a grin and he was happy to see Doyle roll his eyes in reply as he held the door to the station open for the doctor.
After a brief conversation with Chief Merring, Adelaide led them out to the cells behind Scotland Yard and opened Stoker's cell door. Harry touched her arm as she was about to speak and murmured, "Let Doyle handle it."
He listened as Stoker denied killing anyone and explained how vampires were just fictions. As Stoker again sat dejected on a cot in the cell as they left, Harry was willing to believe him.
"It wasn't him," Doyle said as they walked back into the station. "I said so after Glynnis Conway died and I'll say it again, Bram isn't capable of killing someone."
Adelaide replied, "That may be so, Doctor, but the fact is he doesn't have an alibi, and he does have motives to kill both of them. How we found him last night doesn't help matters."
"The blood, of course," Doyle exclaimed as they gathered around Adelaide's desk. "All this time the truth as been staring me in the face. Tertiary syphilis, the final stage of the disease."
"Now we know what the maid was blackmailing him about," Adelaide said. "We need to talk to Chief Merring about this. I'm sorry Doctor, but I'm not sure how to prove Mr. Stoker wasn't involved in these deaths."
Harry saw the door to Merring's office open as another of the constables left the chief inspector. "Come on," he said and led the way across the room.
Doyle was still pleading his case for Stoker's innocence when Gudgett walked in and announced Stoker had escaped.
"I said he wouldn't be here," Doyle mentioned again as they left Stoker's hotel room.
"But we needed to be sure, Doctor Doyle," Adelaide replied. "Now we can move on to other ideas. I'll keep a bobby outside his room in case he comes back."
As they rounded the corner to the door of the Royal Suite, Harry stopped and said, "I'll just be a minute. Have a cab waiting downstairs."
Doyle nodded and he and Adelaide walked down the hall to the elevator.
Cecilia was coming out of the library as Harry entered the sitting room.
"Hey, Ma," Harry said as he passed through in the way to his own room.
"Erhie, dear," she answered.
He came back into the sitting room a few seconds later the flashlight in one hand, and sat next to Cecilia on the sofa. "I looked into ship bookings last night," he told her taking her hand. "There's a ship that leaves from Liverpool in a week. I can book us the tickets tomorrow."
"You will have Mr. Stoker's case solved by then?" she asked.
"Absolutely. Chances are we'll get the evidence we need tonight and then nothing can stop me from taking you home. I promise." He kissed her fingers. "We'll be eating salt water taffy before you know it."
Cecilia smiled and Harry stood up. "Be careful, Erhie."
"You know me, Ma. I'm always careful." He kissed her forehead and left her to read her book.
Doyle and Adelaide were waiting outside the hotel with a cab; Harry glanced around the hotel and watched the setting sun play off the windows of the building as Doyle handed Adelaide into the cab. He climbed in after Doyle and fiddled with the flashlight before stuffing it in a pocket.
"Fine, we'll split up," Doyle acquiesced. "If you find Bram or the vampires, give a sharp whistle."
Harry winced and shook his head and tried to get Arthur's attention with a grunt. Doyle ignored him and walked away. "No," Harry muttered. "I don't know how to whistle."
Doyle walked back and shined his lantern on Harry's face. "You're American. I thought that was the first thing they taught you in school."
Harry shrugged. Well yeah, but you have to actually go to school, Harry thought as Doyle showed him how to whistle through his fingers. He tried the imitate Doyle a few times unsuccessfully before Adelaide walked away and told him to shout out if he found anything.
Harry's path led toward a corner of the cemetery that looked older than the rest with a small crematorium in the distance. He tried a few more times to whistle as Doyle showed him but gave it up as a lost cause. "If I were a crazy Dracula fan, where would I hide," Harry muttered to himself as he walked along rows of headstones. He got his answered a few minutes later when he found the woman, Liliana, decapitated in front of one of the more ornate markers.
Houdini played his flashlight over her and the ground around her but before he could find anything or try to whistle, something hit him on the back of his head. He was unconscious before he hit the ground.
Doyle wandered through another section of headstones, toward an area with several small, family mausoleums. He felt sure Bram was here, brought here for his own protection by the vampires he'd talked to before. As he glanced back and forth along the path looking for footmarks or other clues, another part of his mind wondered again about the sort of fans Stoker's book engendered. It wasn't until this case he realized how normal his fans were compared to Stoker's or even Harry's.
He passed another of the small crypts and heard someone calling out nearby; he was certain it was Bram calling for help. He pushed open the heavy stone door of the crypt he thought he heard cries coming from and Stoker staggered out as Arthur gave a whistle for the others. Arthur listened to Bram's story of being kidnapped from the jail with slight disbelief. His feelings must have shown on his face as Stoker insisted the tale was true even as Adelaide joined them in front of the vault.
Bram ignored Adelaide as he explained the vampires had left the area, afraid they would be accused of murdering McBride. They were still working out who could have killed the vampire hunter when Doyle heard heavy footsteps approaching them from the same direction Harry had gone to search. Even as Adelaide called out to Houdini, Doyle knew the person approaching wasn't the magician.
He was surprised, however, to see it was Professor Havinsglin. He was outright shocked when the Professor declared himself one of the Vanatori and demanded to know where Stoker was, as he intended to kill the author for his role in perpetuating the Strigoi with his book.
"Tell me where he is," Havensglin demanded.
"I will not," Doyle stated and stood firmly between the Professor and the crypt.
"Tell me where Mr. Stoker is or I won't tell you where Mr. Houdini is."
The ultimatum hit Doyle like a punch to the gut. Sacrifice one friend for another. It was unthinkable. Adelaide stood beside him equally appalled.
"You would kill an innocent man in your pursuit of Bram?" Doyle said angrily.
"He is protecting Stoker, and by extension, the Strigoi. He's not that innocent." Havinsglin took a step closer to Doyle.
"You can't possibly believe that," Adelaide said "You are under arrest, Professor Havinsglin for the murder of Lachlan McBride." She tried again to restrain the professor.
Havinsglin ignored her. "Mr. Houdini is buried in one of these graves," he told Doyle. "Even with his skills, escape is unlikely."
Doyle's mind instantly thought of the sewer they'd been trapped in under the Magdalene laundry. 'I can hold my breath longer than anyone else in the world,' Houdini had told him. Harry, I hope you're right, Doyle thought as Havensglin showed no intention of backing down in his quest to murder Stoker.
Before Doyle could decide what to do, Bram ran from the mausoleum in the direction of the crematorium in the near distance. Havensglin instantly ran after the fleeing writer and Doyle started to follow. "Search the graves. Look for fresh soil," he called back to Adelaide, "Houdini won't last long!" He didn't wait for her to respond as he chased after Havinsglin and Stoker, trusting Adelaide would find Harry in time.
Doyle sprinted after the other two men, but knew he would never catch up in time. He saw Bram run up the steps of the crematorium with Havensglin only a few steps behind. Doyle ran faster still, but even so he entered the crematorium and didn't see either of the two men he was looking for. The crematorium oven was blazing heat and light across the room as Doyle searched around the pipes and stacks of crates. He was ready to give up and go back outside, when Havinsglin grabbed him from behind and put a knife to his throat.
Doyle had had enough however. Havinsglin had threatened Bram, had buried Harry alive and now held him at knife-point. The clatter of something against the pipes was all the distraction Arthur needed as he elbowed the professor in the stomach and broke the grip around his neck. They fought for the knife and Doyle was doing pretty well until Bram came out of nowhere and caught off guard, Arthur was stunned when his head hit one of the furnace pipes for the oven.
Doyle could hear the fight going on behind him distantly. He slumped against the pipe and waited a few seconds for his head to clear. He heard Havinsglin say something about burning and turned just in time to see a shape writhing in the flames of the crematorium oven. He didn't see anyone else in the room and feared the worst. Stoker had saved him by sacrificing himself to Havinsglin as they both fell into the oven.
Arthur didn't have much time to recover from the fight or the death of his childhood friend before he heard Adelaide frantically calling for him and he remembered there was another friend in deadly danger. He ran from the crematorium and thankfully saw Adelaide on her knees not far from him digging at the ground with her hands.
"I heard him whistle," she said near tears as he grabbed a nearby shovel and started digging as well. Their efforts were rewarded seconds later when Houdini's hand shot out of the ground and they heard him faintly call out. Doyle grabbed the hand and pulled Harry up out of the shallow grave and held on as Houdini coughed and wheezed.
"I gotta put this in my act," Harry said between coughs then half-fell as he sat down and tried to breathe. Doyle sat next to him and brushed off more of the dirt from Harry's torso as he tried to look at Harry's face and took one wrist and checked his heart rate.
"I'll be OK," he mumbled at Doyle but didn't try to stop the medical assessment.
Doyle smiled and stood up, but kept one hand on Houdini's back as the other man continued to cough.
"Where is Mr. Stoker," Adelaide asked from where she sat beside them.
"Dead," Doyle said softly. Harry twisted around to look up at him as he continued, "He and Professor Havinsglin fell into the furnace." Arthur couldn't look either of them in the eye for a moment and glanced back up the path to the crematorium only to see Bram coming toward them.
Harry stood as well when he saw Stoker stop beside Arthur and explain how he'd escaped certain death.
"You're fans are crazy," Houdini declared and staggered a step before he dropped down at Doyle's feet rubbing at the back of his head.
Doyle knelt down behind him and asked, "What's wrong?" He saw Adelaide out of the corner of his eye move to stand next to Stoker.
Houdini rubbed at his head again and mumbled, "Head hurts. What did he hit me with?"
Arthur moved Harry's hand and looked at the back of his head. "You've got a nice welt here," he said and turned Houdini slightly to face him. He picked up the nearby lantern and looked at Harry's eyes. "You probably have a slight concussion. Do you feel dizzy?"
Harry blinked in the light and shook his head. "Not so much now," he said. "Help me out of this hole, I think I've had enough of cemeteries for awhile."
Adelaide stood back as Doyle took Harry's hands and helped lever him out of the shallow grave. He held on just long enough for Houdini to get his balance then turned to the other two members of their group. "Adelaide, unless there is anything else you need from him, I'm going to take Bram back to his house. Can you get Harry back to the hotel?"
"Certainly," she said as they started moving toward the nearest exit. "I'll inform Chief Merring the case is closed and Mr Stoker has been cleared of any involvement."
Stoker grunted something under his breath that Doyle didn't catch and chose not to pursue. They had to walk a block or two from the cemetery before they found a busy enough road to hail a pair of cabs. Doyle heard the Clock Tower in the distance ringing the hour and was surprised it was after one in the morning.
"I'll come by the hotel in the morning to see how you're feeling," he told Harry as the cabs arrived. Harry nodded and waved as Doyle climbed into his cab after Stoker and gave the driver Bram's address.
Doyle glanced up the road at the townhouse and asked, "What's the matter?"
"Constable Stratton sent me, sir. Well, Mr Houdini it was who wanted you to come, the Constable agreed."
Now Doyle was really concerned. "Out with it man, what's happened?"
"Yes, sir. Constable Stratton returned to her residence tonight to find it burgled, sir. Mr. Houdini thought you would want to know."
So much for her taking him back to the hotel, Doyle thought as he followed the policeman to a waiting cab.
As they pulled up in front of the flat a few minutes later, Doyle could hear Harry and Adelaide arguing over something.
"Addy, you can't stay here," Harry said as Arthur entered the flat. "What if whoever did this comes back. The hotel is safer."
"How many times do I need to say I cannot afford to stay at a hotel," Adelaide retorted. She stood with her arms crossed tightly over her chest while Harry sat in one of the few remaining whole chairs and leaned on the table in front of him.
"I can --"
"Don't bother, Mr. Houdini. I'm not staying at your hotel." She glanced up at Doyle as he stood in the doorway and finished, "I'll stay with a friend."
Before Harry could say anything else, Doyle jumped in, "Adelaide, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she answered. "We weren't here when this happened." She turned away from them and tried to put the small kitchen in some kind of order.
Doyle scanned the room and noticed the map missing from the wall and the box of Benjamin's files and belongings was gone. "They took your husbands things," he said. "Is anything else missing?"
Adelaide turned around. "Missing? No I don't think so. But whoever did this broke as many things as they could while stealing Benjamin's files."
"Harry's right, you can't stay here," Doyle said. "It's after four in the morning, none of us are up to tracking down what happened or figuring out what to do next." Doyle waved to the bobby he arrived with to come in.
When the patrolman was present, Doyle waited for Adelaide to take the lead.
She sighed and said, "Please inform Chief Merring what's happened and that I need a guard outside my flat in case the men who did this come back." She turned to the sideboard and opened a drawer to get paper and a pen. She wrote something on the paper and tore it in two, handing one piece to the bobby and the other to Doyle. "This is the information on the friend I will stay with until this investigation is complete."
The bobby saluted and left. Doyle smiled at her and said, "Well done, Constable."
She nodded once and left the room to pack a bag.
Doyle glanced down at Houdini to see the man half-asleep at Adelaide's table.
"Harry?" Doyle nudged him. When Houdini blinked and looked at him, he continued, "Go home. I'll take Adelaide to her friend and we can meet later today to discuss what to do next."
Harry got to his feet slowly and said, "You sure? I can come along if you want me to."
Adelaide came out of her bedroom with her travel case and satchel in her hands. "I'll be fine," she told him as they left the flat. They walked together to the corner then Harry turned toward the hotel as Doyle and Adelaide crossed the road and headed for her friend's apartment.
He packed up the few items still in Stoker's room and rang for a bellboy to deliver the package around the Bram.
He stepped around the Harry's suite and knocked on Houdini's door. After a few seconds he knocked again a bit louder. When he still didn't get an answer, he called out Houdini's name and absently tried the knob; he was surprised when it turned and he walked in. He stopped short when he saw tableau in front of him, Harry bent over in the chair by the sofa, grasping his mother's hand. He closed the door firmly, but quietly, and set his hat on the nearby table.
"Harry?" he said just above a whisper, he stood by the table and waited. When Houdini made no indication he'd heard anything, Doyle moved closer and tried again a little louder, "Harry, can you hear me?"
He crossed the last few steps and knelt in front of the chair. Harry didn't acknowledge his presence, he just sat with his head bent to his chest and one hand holding his mother's. Don't startle him, Doyle reminded himself. There's no telling what will happen. He glanced at the woman on the sofa and realized she'd been dead for several hours.
Doyle stood and mentally worked through what needed to be done next. He left Harry alone by the sofa, absently picked up Houdini's abandoned suit coat from the floor, and went into the library to use the phone. He patted down his pockets and found the phone number for the friend Adelaide said she was staying with for the next few days. As he gave the number to the switchboard operator, he kept one eye Harry.
"Adelaide?" he said when she answered the phone.
"Doctor Doyle? Is everything all right?" she asked sounding like she'd been woken up.
"Umm, no." He looked back into the sitting room. "I need you at Harry's hotel as soon as you can get here."
"What's happened? Is Harry all right?" She sounded more awake now.
Doyle sighed. "No, I can't say that he is." As he heard Adelaide gasp on the other end of the wire, he continued, "I came to check on him and ..." He ran and hand over his face. "His mother is … gone. She must have died some time in the night. He came back this morning and found her."
"Oh, god," Adelaide whispered. "I'll be there as fast as I can," she promised and rang off.
Doyle hung up the phone and walked back into the sitting room. He knelt in front of Harry, took his wrist in one hand and said softly, "Harry? Can you look at me, please?" Arthur noted the clammy, cool skin as well as the thready pulse and waited for a response.
His patience was rewarded a few seconds later when Houdini raised his head slightly and his eyes finally tracked to Arthur's face. The medical side of him noted the glassy gaze but was relieved to see Houdini's pupils at least were even. No signs of concussion, just need to deal with the shock. He also noted the depth of the loss he saw in Harry's expression. He has no idea what to do next, he realized.
He stood and took off his suit coat and wrapped it around Harry's shoulders then found another chair and placed it next to Harry's. He checked Houdini's pulse again as he sat and kept a hand on Harry's arm when he satisfied himself the pulse beats were a bit stronger and more regular.
He didn't speak, he just kept one hand on Harry's arm letting him know he wasn't alone.
Arthur wasn't sure how long they sat before he heard a knock at the door. Doyle gave Harry's arm a pat then went to the door to let in Adelaide.
"Oh," she whispered and glanced at Arthur.
"Don't startle him and if you say anything to him, speak softly," he said as he led her into the sitting room.
Doyle saw the tears in her eyes as she entered and sat next to Houdini. "Harry?" she asked taking his hand.
Harry glanced at her for a moment then drifted away again.
She stood looked at Arthur and nodded toward the library.
Doyle followed her, but stayed where he could see Harry.
"I called Chief Merring as soon as I hung up with you," she said in a near whisper. "He's sending the morgue attendants and Sergeant Gudgett."
Doyle nodded, he knew it was necessary but he didn't think Houdini needed to be in the room. "I'll try to get him in his bedroom before they arrive," he said.
"Do you have any idea," Adelaide started to say but her voice trailed off.
"It's hard to say without an autopsy. My best guess would be a stroke. They can happen quickly and leave little evidence."
There was a commotion in the hall and Doyle went to Harry while Adelaide went to the door. "I'll tell them to wait a few minutes," she told him as she left the room.
Doyle knelt in front of Harry and touched his knee to get his attention. "There are men here, Harry. They're here to help with your mother. I think it would be better if you were in your bedroom while they were here."
He watched Harry tighten the grip on his mother's hand at the same time Adelaide tapped on the door and he saw her peek back into the room. He motioned for her to wait and turned back to Houdini. "Harry?"
With is sigh, Houdini let go of his mother's hand. He gave Doyle a forlorn look and Doyle helped him to his feet, the suit coat slipping to the floor. "Come on, Harry. You need to lie down."
Harry was none too steady on his feet and Doyle wrapped an arm around Houdini to help steady him as they moved into the bedroom and Doyle sat him on the bed. He glanced at Adelaide as she led the morgue attendants to Mrs Weiss' body, then he closed the bedroom door.
"Harry, you need to lie down," he said as he removed Houdini's shoes and took off the tie and vest Harry was still wearing. He pulled back the bed covers and helped the other man lie flat.
Harry lay in the bed but Doyle was dismayed to see he wouldn't go to sleep. Arthur sat in a chair by the bed and said, "Harry, you really should try to get some rest."
Harry shook his head and finally spoke, "Arthur?" he said in a hoarse whisper. "I … I don't …"
"Don't worry about it now. You aren't alone. Do you understand me?" Doyle said kindly with a small smile. "I'm here. Adelaide is here. We'll help you through this."
Harry nodded but his eyes drifted toward the door and the room on the other side. "I have to take her home," he said softly. "She wanted to see Coney Island again."
"We'll sort it out, don't worry about it now."
The relative quiet was disturbed ten minutes later. Doyle watched as Harry seemed to finally go to sleep only to see the man jerk upright by the banging on the outside door to the suite. Arthur stood and faced the bedroom door as he heard a light tapping and Adelaide entered.
"We have a problem," she whispered and glanced at Houdini.
"Harry, stay here," Doyle said and followed Adelaide back out to the sitting room.
Doyle noted that not only was Mrs. Weiss gone but so was the sofa. Sergeant Gudgett was still standing by the suite's door.
"What's the problem?" he asked quietly.
"The press," she replied with disgust. "Someone in the hotel must have tipped them off and they are all over the entry hall to the building. That was the day manager pounding on the door wanting to know what to do about them."
Doyle rubbed a hand over his face and glanced toward Gudgett standing at the door. "We can't stay here," he finally said. "Sooner or later one or more them will find their way up here."
"We could go to another hotel," Adelaide suggested.
"No, that won't work," Doyle was surprised to hear Gudgett say. "You'll just have the same problem all over again."
"He's right," Doyle agreed. "We'll go to my house. Adelaide, call Vera --"
"No," Harry said quietly from the bedroom doorway.
"Harry," Adelaide said and took a step toward him.
Houdini leant against the doorframe. "No," he said again. "Don't call. Switchboard."
Doyle led Houdini to a chair. "Sit. Before you fall over." He rested one hand on Harry's shoulder and continued. "I'll write you a note. You deliver it and the Sergeant and I can stay here and figure out the best way to get out of the hotel unseen." He saw the slight surprise on Gudgett's face as he was included in the escape plan.
Arthur went into the library and Adelaide followed. As he searched the desk to find paper and a pen, his hands stopped short when he noticed the books arrayed along the back of the desk.
"He never told you then," Adelaide said as she stood next to him.
Doyle ran a hand along the green leather volumes and shook his head. "I should have known, though. The number of times he's quoted Holmes at me." He picked up the copy of The Great Boer War and showed Adelaide the inscription. While she read it, he wrote out a short note to Vera explaining what had happened and what he needed her to do.
He folded the note and handed to her, taking the book and placing it back with the others.
Adelaide put the note in her pocket and Doyle followed her back into the sitting room. She gave Harry's arm a pat as she walked past him then left the room.
Houdini followed behind and looked around the small room. Doyle was happy to see Harry was more animated than he was a few hours ago, but could see the dark circles under his eyes and knew the other man needed sleep.
"I can give you something to help you sleep," Doyle offered as Harry took off his shoes and sat on the edge of the bed.
Harry shook his head but didn't protest as Doyle reached out to check his pulse again.
"I don't know what to do," Harry said quietly.
"What you need to do right now is rest," Doyle said again. He saw in Harry's eye's that wasn't what he meant and continued. "I'll talk to Adelaide about how to --" He wasn't sure how to phrase the next part best. He gave Houdini a nudge to lie down and finished, "I'll take care of it."
"I have to take her to New York," Harry mumbled near sleep.
"We'll take her home," Doyle assured him and saw Harry smile slightly.
"We? You have Mary and Kingsley. Addy has a chief inspector she answers to," Harry said opening his eyes.
Doyle sat on the edge of the bed. "You don't have to do this alone. You told me once it was nice to have a couple of people you knew you could ask for help when you needed it. Let us help you, Harry."
Harry nodded and with a sigh closed his eyes again. Doyle waited until Houdini's breathing evened out then left the room for his study. He needed to check when the next crossing to New York was scheduled. He'd also make sure the accommodations would sleep all three of them. While he didn't want Harry left alone, he also hadn't forgotten Adelaide had been threatened. He wanted both of his friends where he could keep a weather eye on them.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 08 (con't)
I'm sitting in my ransacked flat writing this. So much has happened in the last week, I can't believe it's only been six days and even though the case is solved, it's a bittersweet victory. Is there really such a thing as Strigoi and Vanatori as Mr. Stoker wrote about in his book? There were a few things with this case that even after all is said and done I can't really explain.
My search for answers regarding Benjamin has also taken a strange turn. I still believe Benjamin was working as a government agent to stop this Polish anarchist group, and now there may be better evidence to support my conclusion. There was a telegram among Benjamin's things from someone named Walbridge in New York; Benjamin had been asking him about the sale of guns from Walbridge's hardware store. I'm not sure what it means yet, but I hope to have answers soon. Will I finally have the answer to what happened to my husband? I never expected to find them in America of all places.
America. If only our reason for going was for an investigation. Sadly, Doctor Doyle and I are accompanying Harry as he takes his mother back to New York to be buried. Harry is beyond devastated. I wrote here once that Harry played to an audience of one regardless of how many people attended one of his shows. Now I wonder what he will do. His mainspring is gone. Harry is staying with Doctor Doyle for the next few days until we can get passage across to New York. I'll need to figure out an excuse to tell Chief Merring.
Chapter 9: Ghost Story
Dialog for the episode Necromanteion written by Melissa R Byer and Treena Hancock
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Doctor Doyle has booked passage to America on the a ship leaving in three days. Over my strong objections he's arranged for first class passage for all of us; he told me not to worry about the costs but still …
I guess this means I need to have a meeting with Chief Merring. Doctor Doyle has a letter from a paranormal investigator about a case in Canada so I may have a convincing argument for making the trip and keeping my job. The chief has lent us out before so, hopefully that will be enough.
I've been to Doctor Doyle's house to see Harry since he relocated there yesterday. He looks awful but at least he's talking again. Doyle told me he's not sleeping for more than an hour or two at a stretch and I'm not surprised. It was weeks after Benjamin died before I could sleep for more than a few hours a night. They say you sleep like a baby on a ship making a crossing. I hope that's true for Harry.
Adelaide sorted through the detritus of her flat for anything else salvageable. Most of the damage was in the main room and kitchen, her bedroom was mostly spared. She packed up the clothes and other personal items she could find and sat at the scrubbed wooden table. The map was gone from the wall but she remembered everything she'd pinned to it and reviewed it all in her head. In each of the locations, an important government official was killed.
'He was in all of these places and yet couldn't stop any of the assassinations,' Harry's voice said in her head. 'Only those who know us best know the easiest way to deceive us.'
She didn't want to believe it, but Houdini's comments wouldn't leave her alone. She stared at the telegram form she'd written to Walbridge and after another moment's hesitation, crumpled up the paper and left the flat. She wasn't sure she wanted to know what Walbridge had to say. A week ago when she found the information about the gun sales, she was eager to hear the confirmation Benjamin was seeking out the truth and trying to stop a tragedy, now the niggling feeling she'd had in Stoker's house had grown louder. I'll send something once we're in New York, she told herself. The answer would be faster that way, wouldn't it?
Because of the baggage she had from clearing out her flat, Adelaide took a cab to her friend's apartment to drop it all off then walked to the police station for a meeting with Chief Merring.
She sat in the chair in front of the desk when invited in and said, "I would like permission to investigate a case in Canada, sir."
Merring glanced up from the paperwork he was reviewing with Sergeant Gudgett. "Canada? Why would I send you there? We have plenty of crime here in London."
Adelaide refused to fidget in her chair. She was aware Gudgett was watching her with a seemingly smug look on his face but she ignored him. "Doctor Doyle received a letter from a Mr. Roland Carson asking for help with a case. A woman is accused of murdering her husband, however she is claiming a poltergeist was responsible."
Merring huffed an impatient sigh. "You are a constable on the Metropolitan Police Force, not some private investigator," Merring told her slapping closed the file in front of him. "There are police in Canada are there not?"
"Well, then. They can handle their own murders without help from us."
She knew Merring was about to dismiss her and laid out her last card. "I realize that, sir. However, Doctor Doyle already wired the constable in charge of the Reid case in a town called Niagara-on-the-Lake and asked him about assisting with the case."
Merring looked back at her and Adelaide wasn't sure if it was anger she saw in his eyes or merely frustration. "And," he bit out between his teeth.
Adelaide sat a bit straighter in her chair and said, "Doctor Doyle explained we have experience with such cases and offered our help." She took a deep breath. "Constable McKenna said he didn't think there was anything to the story, but we were, quote, welcome to waste our time if we wanted to."
Gudgett hid a smile behind his hand.
Merring gave her a hard look then leant back in his chair and looked at Gudgett. "What does the caseload look like at the moment, Sergeant? Can we spare Constable Stratton and her … colleagues … to investigate a case across the Pond?"
"Pretty quiet at the moment, sir," Gudgett replied. "Shouldn't be a strain on our resources."
Adelaide held her breath. She had another plan if Merring said no, but she really did not want to give him or the sergeant the pleasure of accepting her resignation.
Merring glared at her and toyed with the pen on his desk before finally saying, "Go."
Adelaide restrained the smile that wanted to break across her face. "Thank you, sir," she said formally and stood up. "The ship sails in a few days. We'll be back as soon as possible."
"Yes, well, we will try to muddle through, Constable." Merring opened the file on his desk again and Adelaide took that as her dismissal and left the office.
She was clearing away the papers on her desk when Sergeant Gudgett stopped in front of her. "You didn't say anything about Houdini in there."
Adelaide glanced up at him. Gudgett had been at the hotel after Houdini's mother died, he knew how Harry had reacted.
"Harry is coming as well. To bury his mother," she answered his unspoken question.
Gudgett nodded and looked around the room. "That's not the only reasons for this trip is it."
Adelaide was so surprised by Gudgett's comment she couldn't hide her reaction. "What do you mean?" she asked looking down at the desk.
Gudgett leaned down and said softly, "I saw the clipping on your desk, Stratton. The one with the threat."
She gave him a horrified look but he continued, "There's something else going on that you didn't tell Chief Merring about in there." He jerked his head in the direction of the office.
"And if there is," she challenged.
Gudgett shook his head and put a hand in his pocket. He brought out a small Derringer pistol and laid it on her desk. "If there is, you should watch your back."
She stared at the small gun on her desk in shock. She'd never carried such a weapon, she'd never needed it, her cosh served her well enough.
She was equally shocked Gudgett was offering to help. She'd assumed the sergeant merely tolerated her much like Chief Merring. "Why?"
Gudgett stood back and shuffled his feet. "Because a magician and a writer may not be enough." He turned on his heel and walked away.
Adelaide looked at the pistol and slowly reached out a hand to take it. As she put it in her pocket, she saw Gudgett in the far corner watching her. When they made eye contact, he nodded once and went back to talking to the bobby on front of him.
"They are in the study, Miss Stratton," Vera told her and pointed down the hall.
She entered the study to see Doyle behind his desk shuffling papers and Harry in a chair in front of it. A small table next to the chair held a cup and saucer, a teapot and a crushed up telegram.
"... not right," Harry said as she walked in.
"What's not right," she asked. Harry stood up and brought another chair to the desk for her. She thought he looked better than the day before when she saw him at the hotel, but it was obvious he wasn't sleeping and she suspected he wasn't eating much either.
"My brother, Theo," Harry said sitting down again and slumping a bit in the chair. "I made the mistake of sending a telegram telling him about … her."
"He's your brother, shouldn't he know his mother --" Adelaide glanced over at Doyle as Harry interrupted.
"It's not that," Harry said hurriedly. "He's planning on having a rabbi and a crowd of people at the," Harry paused for a beat. "At the funeral," he finally said.
"I don't understand," she said. "Your mother was Jewish."
Harry sighed and ran and hand over his face. "That's not the point," he said sharply. And took another deep breath. "Sorry," he apologised in a whisper.
Adelaide touched his arm and Harry glanced over at her. "We could come, to the funeral if you like," she said.
Harry smiled slightly and shook his head. "Doyle already said the same thing. I'm not sure I want to be there, I don't want to drag you two along."
Adelaide knew how he felt. "I can understand that," she told him. "I didn't want to go to Benjamin's funeral, either. I thought it would hurt too much. It does help, though."
Harry slouched further into the chair as she spoke and Doyle changed the subject.
"Did you talk to Chief Merring about the case in Canada?"
"You have a case?" Harry asked sitting up slightly as he looked at Doyle. "You didn't say anything about a case."
"Like I said the case is in Canada, I didn't think we'd take it when I got the letter last week."
Harry studied Doyle for a moment then Adelaide saw him smile a little. "You knew about this when you brought me here yesterday," Harry said. "That's how you knew you and Addy would be coming with me to the States."
"Yes," Doyle said simply.
"Thank you," Harry said sincerely. "Both of you." He looked at Adelaide and she smiled back at him.
"You're welcome," she said and turned back to Doyle. "Yes, I talked to Merring and he gave his blessing to investigate. He wasn't convinced until I mentioned the telegram from Constable McKenna so that was a good idea."
"Good," Doyle said. "Vera will stay with the children, so that's settled as well."
"Oh, I have something that belongs to you." Harry left the room and Adelaide heard him go up the stairs and return a few minutes later. He handed her a small book and she realized it was Benjamin's copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. "Thanks for letting me borrow it," he said and stood by her chair.
"I don't remember it quite that way." She smiled up at him. "But thank you for returning it."
Harry glanced back toward the door to the study as Vera entered. "Supper is ready for you, sir," she said to Doyle.
Doyle stood from behind the desk. "Thank you, Vera. We'll be right in."
They left the study and Harry turned toward the stairs only to be stopped by Doyle's hand on his arm.
"You need to eat something," he said patiently as he steered the other man toward the dining room.
Harry sighed but allowed himself to be led into the dining room where Adelaide saw a small supper laid for the three of them. Her suspicion that Houdini wasn't eating was confirmed when he only nibbled at the food on his plate. She and Doyle exchanged a look but Arthur didn't say anything to Harry.
"The ship sails at noon on Thursday," Doyle said. "Adelaide, we can meet you at your friend's apartment with a cab at eight tomorrow evening to catch the train to Liverpool."
Adelaide knew the doctor was trying to make the planning sound as normal possible and she played along. "Eight will be fine," she said hesitantly.
Doyle noticed her uncertainty and asked, "What's the matter?"
Harry watched her as well as she took a quick sip of wine and said, "There's something I forgot to mention." She glanced from Doyle to Houdini. "Remember I told you Benjamin took me fishing on Lake Como?"
Harry nodded and she continued, "Well along with the rain I was terribly seasick. On a lake. Crossing an ocean is bound to be worse."
Doyle smiled and said, "There isn't much medicine can do to help with seasickness I'm afraid."
"I could loan you my pipe," Harry offered and Doyle frowned.
Adelaide saw a hint of a smile on Harry's face and relaxed slightly when she heard the glimmer of Houdini's old self.
Adelaide left soon after supper was over. She needed to wrap up a few loose ends before they left as well as replace those items she needed that were lost when her flat was ransacked.
There was a quiet tap at her door and Doyle entered with a cup and a small plate. "Strong tea and toast," he told her. "It might help."
He set the plate and cup on the nearby table and sat by the bed. "Are you feeling any better?" he asked as he looked her over and checked her pulse.
"Some," she admitted and sipped at the cup of tea. "I may try getting out of bed tomorrow. How do you get used to all the rocking about?"
Doyle shrugged and leant back in the chair. "I spent a lot of time on ships when I was younger. You get to the point where it doesn't bother you anymore."
"I hope I get there soon, I may never get back to England," Adelaide replied setting the empty cup back on the table.
Doyle smiled and prepared to leave. "How's Harry?" Adelaide asked. "I heard noises last night."
"He's spending most of his time in the hold," Doyle said with a frown. "The delay was unavoidable, but this prolonged goodbye is tearing him apart. He sleeps for a few hours then gets up and paces the room or wanders the decks. Thankfully the crew won't allow him in the hold at night."
Adelaide nodded. "If I can make it on deck tomorrow I'll try to get him to sit with me and not spend all day down there."
"I wish you luck," Doyle said at the door. "He's decided I'm hovering too much."
Adelaide gave him a small smile and said, "Probably because you are?"
"Probably," Doyle admitted and left the small cabin.
"Great," Harry muttered as the young man walked up to them.
"Ehrich," the man said and stood in front of Houdini.
"Theo," Harry said in a neutral tone. "These are my friends, Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle and Constable Adelaide Stratton," He continued making introductions. "Addy, Doc, this is my brother, Theo."
Adelaide shook hands with the young man as did Doyle. Harry's body language was stiff as four men climbed out of the back of the wagon and moved toward the casket.
"The funeral is later this morning," Theo said. "Most of the family will be there. Will your friends attend?" Theo glanced at Adelaide and Doyle in turn.
"No," Harry replied sharply before the other two could say anything.
"In that case, there is room at the house for you," Theo offered.
"Thanks," Harry said and Adelaide heard the slight sarcasm in his voice.
Adelaide heard a thump as the casket was placed in the back of the wagon and noticed Doyle take Harry's arm as Houdini made a move toward the wagon.
"If we could just have a moment," Doyle said keeping a light grip on Houdini.
Theo must have noticed the tension as he accepted the escape and doffed his hat to Adelaide before he retreated back to the car to wait for Harry.
Harry shook off Doyle's hand and glared at the men clambering back into the wagon.
"We can still come with you, Harry," Doyle offered as Theo walked away.
Harry looked over at Doyle and shook his head. "I'll be all right," he said and picked up his travel case.
"You're sure?" Adelaide asked giving him another chance to accept their offer.
Harry smiled and said, "Thanks, but I'll be fine. Really."
Harry and Doyle shook hands and Arthur gripped Harry's shoulder for a moment before letting him go. Harry smiled and nodded. "Go on, you have a woman to help and a ghost story to disprove. I'll see you in a few days."
Adelaide watched as Harry put his case in the back of the car and sat on the bench seat in front. Theo cranked the car to a start and they left the dock behind the wagon. Harry turned back and waved once before the car was out of sight around a corner.
"Come on," Doyle said picking up both of their cases while Adelaide took her satchel. "Our train leaves in an hour and we need to get to the station."
"I'm not sure," Doyle replied. "If her husband hit her, that is a strong motive to kill him. However, I can't see how a woman as small as Mrs. Reid would be able to murder him as the police report describes. Her husband had to outweigh her by fifty pounds or more, how did she lift him up the wall? And thrusting a sword into a man isn't much easier than pounding a stake into someone."
"She could have had help," Adelaide pointed out. "It doesn't mean there is a poltergeist."
Doyle smiled at her. "Are you speaking as Adelaide or Houdini?"
"Both actually. As Mrs Reid said, there is a history with the house she shared with her husband, a man named Turner did murder his family there roughly ten years ago. However, there has never been anything other than a few vague rumors in the past of strange events occurring, until now. But I agree with you, that she could not have murdered her husband unless she had help. And I can see another person as much as a poltergeist being the one involved."
"In any case, it may be the necrophone that solves this case, if we can make contact with Mr Reid he can tell what happened the night he died. Too bad Harry won't be here to see it."
Adelaide shifted on the seat beside him.
"What?" Doyle asked.
"Maybe it's better if he's not here," Adelaide replied. "You saw him on the ship when you brought it up our first day out. I don't think he's ready to deal with ghosts or speaking to the dead right now."
Doyle sighed. "You could be right. I wasn't thinking when I mentioned it on the ship. Hopefully spending time with his family will help."
The cab pulled up the long drive to an isolated house near a cliff. Doyle helped Adelaide out of the cab and carried their travel cases up the front steps and into the house.
"Mr. Carson said you would be coming," the housekeeper told them. "I have rooms for you on the east side." She led the way along a hall on the ground floor. "There are three rooms on this side of the house, the rest of the guests are in the other wing or upstairs. Once you're settled the rest of the party is in the main sitting room."
"Thank you," Doyle said as she left and he carried Adelaide's case into one of the rooms then claimed the room across the hall from her.
Harry stood at an upstairs window staring out at the people gathering in front of the house. He'd spent most of the trip from England with his mother, and while he didn't mind Doyle or Adelaide seeing him fall apart, he refused to give these people the satisfaction. He watched the sea of black ebb and flow around the front door and shook his head. Ma would hate this, he told himself. She loved color and excitement.
There was a knock at the door that Harry ignored. He didn't want to be here, he didn't want this. The knock came again and Harry retreated from the window.
"What?" he asked as he jerked the door open.
Theo stood in the doorway, top hat in one hand. "It's time to go," he said.
Harry stepped back from the door and Theo followed him into the room. Harry gathered the few items still scattered around the room, packed them in his travel case and placed the case by the door next to the chair where his top coat and gloves waited. Theo glanced at the case and said, "You can unpack, you know."
Harry growled under his breath but said nothing. He checked his tie and waistcoat in the mirror, shrugged into the black suit coat and turned to gather up the top coat and gloves from the chair as he motioned Theo out of the room.
"Ehrich, you haven't said more than two words since I picked you up from the dock. She was my mother, too."
Harry clenched his fists and held his temper. Do not make a scene, he told himself and he passed Theo in the hall and turned toward the stairs.
Theo, however, had other ideas and grabbed Harry's arm preventing him was walking away. "You aren't the only one hurting," Theo told him and Harry heard the anger in his voice. "You at least had her last months with her, unlike the rest of us."
Harry jerked his arm free and stepped back a pace. "I thought we needed to leave," he said in a hard, brittle voice.
Theo stared at him for a moment longer then led the way down the stairs and out of the house. The other mourners were gathered outside waiting to follow the hearse with the casket out the the cemetery. Harry was glad the day was overcast and cold, it matched his mood.
The hearse driver saw them and with a touch from the whip, the horses started the pull down the road and up the hill in the near distance to the cemetery. Harry and Theo walked behind the hearse and Harry's mind drifted away.
He remembered the birthday party for his mother and how she looked greeting her guests and enjoying the evening. She'd had such a wonderful time that night showing off the necklace Harry had given her and hob-nobbing with the London elite. He smiled slightly to Theo's shock when he remembered Adelaide interrupting the party.
Cecilia was excited for the country party and even though her weekend was cut short by Harry getting sick, she told him all about the two days she'd spent at the country house watching the people and dancing. She'd sent a letter to Adelaide thanking the constable for sending a man all the way out to the house to tell her Harry was ill and arranging for a train ticket back to London.
He felt a pang of guilt again as he thought about the lunch date he'd tried to sabotage and Doyle's reminder that his mother needed to live her own life. He never had asked her if it really was Arthur's pipe he smelled those few evenings when he came back from a show.
He thought of the parties and theater shows and events they'd attended in London as well as the quiet times when she would read by the fire in the sitting room and he would join her with a book of his own.
His mind came back to the present as he remembered coming back to the hotel in the early morning and finding her on the sofa. He remembered Arthur taking care of him while Adelaide dealt with all of the requirements of releasing his mother for burial and bringing her back to the States. He knew he'd managed as well as he had because he had both of them to help.
He looked around the gravesite at the faces gathered there and realized none of these people knew his mother, not really. They didn't know what foods she loved to eat, what books she enjoyed reading. They didn't know her favorite dances or what made her laugh.
He was surprised to see the young woman in the crowd; he and Theo were the youngest ones there, the rest of the mourners were closer to their parent's generation in age. She looked vaguely familiar to him, but he didn't know where he would know her from; he hadn't been in the States for a few years. The young woman watched him sadly and Harry turned away.
The rabbi droned on with the proper prayers and Theo threw a shovel-full of dirt on the wooden casket. Harry listened to the soil rain down on his mother and couldn't take any more. He refused the shovel Theo offered to him and walked away ignoring the indignant gasps of the other mourners reacting to such a breach of responsibility as he hurried up to the road that led back to the house.
Theo followed him up to the road but Harry kept walking. As Theo explained the ceremonies were what they grew up with and it was something for their mother, Harry turned on his brother. "This isn't about Ma, it's about you. And all of those other people she hasn't seen in years."
Theo stood back and gave Harry an angry look. "And who's fault is that?" he asked pointedly.
"You know Ma wanted to go to Europe," Harry shot back hands clenched at his sides.
"She would have followed you anywhere," Theo told him sadly.
Harry couldn't deny that, and for a moment he felt a little guilty taking his mother halfway around the world and away from the rest of her family and friends. Instead he changed the subject back to the funeral. "You know she wouldn't've wanted us sobbing over her grave, wallowing in self-pity," he said as he pointed back at the mourners gathered at the side of the road to watch the confrontation.
"I am trying to honor her memory," Theo shouted as Harry walked away.
Harry clenched his fists again and walked faster. "Then throw a party," he said angrily. "Ma believed that life was meant to be lived!"
Harry walked back to the house and up to the room he used before to change. He quickly took off the black suit and switched to a purple waistcoat and grey coat and trousers. He headed back down the stairs with his travel case in hand only to find Theo waiting for him in the entry hall.
"You aren't even going to stay to sit?" Theo asked staring at the travel case. "They won't understand." He tipped his head to the mourners coming up the drive in front of the house.
Harry gripped the case tighter and moved around his brother. "I stopped caring about what people thought of me a long time ago," Harry told him. "Will someone drive me to the train station or will I have to walk?"
Theo ducked his head in resignation and Harry didn't really care if he was hurting his brother. Adelaide was wrong, the funeral hadn't helped him at all and he needed to get away. Get away from the pitying looks and the maudlin reactions of the people around him. He needed to think about something other than the fact he would never see his mother again.
"I'll find someone to drive you," Theo said and turned away.
The train pulled into the station at Niagara-on-the-Lake near midnight. He left the station and was lucky to find a cab willing to drive him out to the Reid house overlooking Lake Ontario. He paid off the cab at the bottom of the long drive up to the house and walked the rest of the way. He could see the house was still well lit, so someone at least would still be awake to let him in.
He could see a group in the main room at the front of the house and looking closer he saw one of the people was Thomas Edison himself. Ahh yes, the necrophone, Harry remembered. Another wild invention that will never work. He watched through the window as Doyle eagerly bent forward to see the machine and Harry assumed Edison was explaining how it worked.
A ladder left at the side of the house gave him an idea on how to embarrass Edison and make a grand entrance at the same time. He left his travel case and top coat by the side door, then carefully climbed up to the roof and reset the chimney cap for the dining room. He climbed back down and waited. Once everyone was in the dining room, he snuck into the house and hid behind a curtain in the sitting room.
A few minutes later Doyle, Adelaide, Edison and some of people Harry didn't know came back into the sitting room. He wasn't sure what to try next, but Edison gave him the perfect opportunity when he started to play back the wax cylinder in the necrophone listening for a voice from the other side.
"Resurrect me," Harry whispered in a haunting voice. "Bring back … Holmes."
"Houdini," Doyle said resignedly and Harry appeared from behind the curtain with a smile on his face. "What are you doing here?" Doyle asked and Harry saw the assessing look Doyle gave him.
"I came to join your little sleepover," Harry said and moved on before Doyle could question him further. He analyzed the necrophone Edison was standing next to and shook his head in disbelief. He ignored the Indian gentleman, Avari, once he found out the man was Edison's assistant and the young man he assumed was the Mr Carson that wrote to Doyle in favor of taunting Edison and debunking the empath Miss Pasternak.
"There are no such things as poltergeists," he told the room.
"Oh I'm sure you'll find my … piece of junk, will prove differently," Edison said with a condescending smile at Harry.
Before Harry could reply to Edison's claim, Doyle stepped in, "I think we've done enough for one night," he said. "It's late, we'll start fresh in the morning."
Edison played with the switches and dials on the necrophone as the others slowly made their way from the room.
"Come on, Harry," Doyle said as the trio followed the others into the hall. "The housekeeper and the cook sleep out, I'll show you where you can sleep."
He heard one of the doors in the hall open and a few seconds later pounding on his own door. When he opened it he found Adelaide standing in front of him, hands on her hips, accusing him of scaring her. He didn't have a chance to defend himself before Doyle joined them in the hallway.
"You're telling me you had nothing to do with it?" Adelaide asked glaring again at Harry.
"Had nothing to do with what exactly?" Harry said. "I didn't do anything."
"Adelaide, what's happened?" Doyle asked as he walked down the hall and stood beside her.
She took a deep breath. "The chair. In my room. It moved in front of the door, by itself."
Harry and Doyle exchanged a brief look before Harry said, "I promise you it wasn't me," he told her sincerely.
"Maybe there really is a poltergeist," Doyle suggested.
"Don't you go falling for Edison's nonsense, too," he told Doyle as he stepped out of his room. "Show me this chair," he said to Adelaide and followed her back to her room.
Harry studied the chair and the floor while Adelaide and Doyle stood by. He was ready to accept Adelaide had dreamed about the chair moving, when it moved again. Adelaide gasped as the chair moved a few inches across the room and Doyle gave Harry a pointed look.
"Don't say it," Harry told him before Arthur could suggest a ghost was in the room.
He glared at the chair and thought about how it could be made to move. As he crouched down to look at the floor again, he heard a low hum coming from somewhere else in the house.
"Do you hear that?" Adelaide asked as Harry stood up, hands on his hips and looked around.
"The necrophone," Doyle replied and headed out the door.
"It doesn't work," Harry said as the other two left the room. "When will you accept that?" he called out but followed the others back around to the sitting room.
The trio entered the sitting room to find Edison working on the necrophone. He reset the needle on the wax cylinder and they heard a voice mutter what sounded like 'Falcroft Point.'
Edison looked up from the necrophone as Harry and Doyle exchanged looks.
"We'll need light," Harry said as he headed back to his room for a coat. He also grabbed his flashlight. He met the others in the front hall, Doyle and Edison had found lanterns, and they set out for the cliff at the edge of the property.
What they found at the point wasn't the ghost of Mr. Turner, who had committed suicide off the Point ten years ago. Instead they found the body of Edison's assistant, Rustom Avari, dead on the shore far below.
"We need to get down there," Doyle said looking around with the lantern.
"We also need the local police," Adelaide said. "I'll go back to the house and call."
As she turned to leave, Harry handed her his flashlight and wandered over to stand next to Arthur.
"Umm, there is a path," Edison said hesitantly, pointing off to the right. "There are steps cut into the stone. We can get down that way."
Harry and Arthur followed Edison along the edge of the cliff to the stairs. Harry did his best to look anywhere but down at the body and Doyle eventually noticed. "You could go back up to the house," Arthur said quietly. "You don't have to come with me."
Harry shook his head and kept walking.
They found the steps and Edison started down, one hand braced against the stone of the cliffside, the other holding his lantern. As Harry moved to the top of the steps, Doyle held him back. "You don't have any light," he said. "Wait here for Adelaide."
Houdini started to protest, but Doyle continued, "Harry, please, just wait here."
Harry huffed out a breath and nodded, "Fine."
He watched as Arthur started down the steps, Edison was now more than half-way down the cliffside.
Edison was walking back up the beach to the body and Doyle was almost to the bottom of the steps when Adelaide found him.
"We have a problem," she said as Harry took back the flashlight and started down the steps.
"Don't tell me, Millie Pasternak is up at the house communing with Avari's ghost," Harry said sarcastically as he took Adelaide's hand to lead her down the steps.
Adelaide held on to Harry with one hand and used the other to balance against the cliff as she followed Houdini down to the beach. "If only it were that simple," she replied. "No, the police won't come out until morning."
Harry said nothing as they negotiated the last few steps down to the shore of Lake Ontario. He saw lights coming in their direction and stopped walking. "Doyle and Edison," he said to Adelaide when she gave him a questioning look.
"Mr. Avari is dead," Doyle said and frowned at Harry.
"What? I waited for Adelaide," Harry told Arthur.
Adelaide glanced from Doyle to Harry in confusion and said, "I called the local police station. They can't send anyone out until it's light."
"We can't just leave him lying there," Edison said and Harry noticed the man seemed shaken by the death.
"The sun will be up in an hour or two," Doyle said. "We'll get something from the house to cover him for now, that's all we can do for the moment."
"How close is he to the water," Adelaide asked. "Is there any danger of the body getting wet, or evidence washing away?"
Doyle shook his head. "He's near the water, but far enough away that shouldn't be a problem."
"The beach is isolated," Adelaide said. "I think we can safely leave him until it's light."
They slowly climbed back to the top of the cliff and Doyle offered to find something to cover the body.
Harry and Adelaide went back to the house and they stopped in front of Adelaide's bedroom. "The offer is still open," Harry said with a smile. "Just in case any more of the furniture decides to move."
Adelaide shook her head and stepped into the room. "I think I'll be fine now," she told him and closed the door.
Harry went back to his own room and glanced at the bed as he went back to the chair by the window. He heard Doyle return about twenty minutes later and settled in the chair to watch the sunrise.
Arthur knocked at Harry's door then let himself into the other man's room. He glanced at the bed and realized it probably hadn't been slept in and shook his head. Harry stood at the mirror tying his tie and caught Arthur's eye in the reflection.
They shared a look, however Doyle chose not to say anything about the insomnia, instead he said, "Constable McKenna is here. Adelaide and Mr. Edison are showing him down to the beach."
Harry turned and put on his grey suit coat. "Let's go see what happened." He grabbed his top coat from the chair by the door and led the way out of the house. They skirted past the area with the footmarks on their way to the cliff edge and the steps down to the beach. As they were about to start down the steps, Harry stopped and glanced behind them. Doyle turned as well and saw a wagon pull around the house and a man jumped down from the bench with a bundle of white material in his arms.
"That would be the coroner," Doyle said as he watched the man start for the edge of the cliff.
Harry only grunted as he started down the steps to the beach.
They met Mr. Carson and Miss Pasternak walking up the beach to where Adelaide, Mr. Edison and Constable McKenna were studying the body. Doyle listened as Carson made his case for a poltergeist attack as he examined the body of Mr. Avari. Harry, of course, refused to accept any sort of ghost attack and Constable McKenna seemed to agree with the magician.
"The coroner should be here soon," McKenna said closing his book and signaling the others away from the body. "I'm going back into town to make my report. If you all would please go back up to the house."
They gathered back in the main sitting room once McKenna left. Miss Paternak sat on the small sofa with Adelaide. Carson sat in a chair not far away while Edison worked at the necrophone.
"Did anyone hear anything odd during the night?" Adelaide asked glancing from the empath to Carson.
"I had a few strange dreams," Millie said. "Spirits can use dreams to communicate sometimes, but I had no impressions of Mr. Avari's death."
"It was Mr. Turner," Carson said moving toward the fireplace mantle. "He killed Mr. Avari the same way he killed himself."
"Why would he do that," Doyle asked. "What had Mr. Avari done to attract the ire of Mr. Turner?"
"Turner was mad," Carson reminded him. "He may have done nothing at all. Turner just came back from the dead to continue his rampage."
Doyle braced for Harry's counter to that, but it never came. Arthur looked around the room and suddenly realized Harry wasn't with them. "Where's Houdini?" he asked as he looked at Adelaide.
"I didn't see him come in the house," Adelaide said as she stood up from the sofa.
"I'll go find him," Doyle said and brushed past. "You stay here and see what else you can find out," he whispered to Adelaide. She nodded and he left the house.
He saw Harry standing by the edge of the cliff and restrained himself from grabbing the other man and pulling him back from the edge once he stood next to Houdini.
He told Harry his idea that no one should be alone until they figured out what happened but was distracted by the dark brown of the path in front of them. The footmarks were distinct in the soil leading out to the cliff edge. It should be red, Arthur thought as he knelt beside the path. Why isn't it red? He was still examining the ground trying to find anything that would match the red soil he'd found on Avari's shoes when he heard Harry shouting behind him.
Doyle turned to see the coroner's wagon disappear around the corner of the house with the driver lazily tapping the horses with the reins as it slowly rolled away with Mr. Avari's body. Harry's reaction however was very different and Doyle could see he was defensive, his posture stiff and his hands tightly fisted.
"What is it?" he asked and moved until he stood at Harry's side.
"That woman in the coroner's wagon. I think she may be following me," Harry replied distractedly as he stared after the wagon.
"Have you seen her before?" Doyle asked and his mind flicked back to the conversations they'd had in London about dangerous fans. Then he remembered there wasn't anyone in the wagon other than the driver. There was no woman, he realized. He hasn't really slept in days, the funeral was yesterday.
"Yeah, at my mother's funeral," Harry mumbled.
Arthur gave Harry a sharp look and sighed. I was afraid of this. He tried explaining how grief took time, but Harry wouldn't listen and soon Doyle found he was in a shouting match with the other man over Touie and what an invention like the necrophone would mean for Arthur's children once Touie was gone.
"As long as she's alive, there's hope," Harry told him. "Stop planning for her death. You claim you love your wife so much," Harry demanded. "Then fight for her."
Arthur watched as Harry stormed off to the house. What Houdini was going through was exactly the pain he wanted to spare his own children. He imagined a world where no one would ever have to say goodbye forever. Where loved ones, where Touie, was just on the other side, still able to talk to her children and they to her. Doesn't he realize if the necrophone works, he could talk to his mother again? Doyle thought in frustration.
"What's going on," Doyle asked.
"A success!" Edison exclaimed before Adelaide could speak. "Houdini and I were in here earlier when the necrophone started to work. He said something about hearing his mother, but refused to tell me what he'd heard." Edison was oblivious to the stunned look Doyle shared with Adelaide or when they left the room together.
"Where is he?" Doyle asked looking up and down the hallway.
"I don't know," was Adelaide's frustrated reply. "I didn't know any of this had happened until a few minutes ago. He could be anywhere."
Doyle frowned and muttered under his breath. "Something else is wrong," Adelaide questioned and stood in front of Doyle as he tried to walk past her.
Arthur sighed and debated whether or not he should say anything about the conversation he'd had with Harry earlier. "I think he's seeing his mother," Doyle finally said in a low voice.
Adelaide took a step back. "He's seeing her ghost?"
Doyle shook his head. "No." He glanced around again. "He's not allowing himself to let go of her. He's so overwhelmed his mind is playing tricks on him."
"We need to find him," Adelaide declared.
"I'll check outside," Doyle decided. "He may have slipped past me when I was out earlier."
Adelaide nodded. "I'll find the others and see if any of them noticed where Harry went."
Doyle grabbed his top coat from the stand in the hall, and belatedly realized Houdini's was there as well. Taking the other coat with him, he went back outside to search the grounds for a grieving friend.
He found Harry out at the cliff again, near where the stairs led down to the beach. Houdini sat against a rock with his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms crossed over his knees, head resting on his arms. He was staring out onto the lake and Doyle wasn't sure Harry even knew he was there.
"You'll catch your death out here," Doyle said and winced slightly at his word choice, but shook out the coat he carried. Harry turned his head to the side and watched as Doyle came up beside him, he shifted forward just enough for Arthur to slip the coat over his shoulders before returning his gaze out to the water.
Doyle sat down beside him, his legs out straight in the ground in front of him with his ankles crossed and waited. He'd found over the last several months the best way to get Houdini to talk was to just be patient. Sooner or later the magician would say something to break the silence.
Harry, however, seemed content with the quiet. The only change was he shrugged into the coat properly and pulled it closed around himself.
"I heard what happened," Doyle eventually said. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Harry shook his head and stared at the lake.
Doyle tried a different tact. "I haven't given up," he told Harry softly. "There simply isn't anything else to try."
Houdini started to say something, then changed his mind.
"Adelaide is worried about you," Doyle tried again.
This time he got a reaction. Harry snorted softly then said, "Why do I think Adelaide isn't the only one." Harry glanced over at Arthur again and straightened out his legs beside Arthur's.
Doyle, grateful Harry was talking, said, "All right, I'm concerned as well. What you're feeling in normal, Harry. It's just going to take time. Think of it as any other injury; you need to heal."
Harry laughed a little. "How long have you known me, Doc?" He held up his left hand with the bent pinky finger. "I don't usually have the luxury of time when it comes to healing."
Doyle shook his head at the remark. They sat together and watched as clouds built out on the lake and the sunlight dimmed.
The wind off the lake picked up and Doyle stood up. "We should get back to the house," he said and offered a hand to Harry. "It will be dark soon."
Harry took the proffered hand and Arthur pulled him to his feet. As they walked back to the house, he asked, "Did you ever find your red dirt?"
"No," Doyle replied. "There doesn't seem to be anything like it near the house or on the grounds."
They entered the front hall and Harry turned into the sitting room. Doyle thought he would settle by the fire to warm up, but instead Houdini spotted the necrophone still set up in the middle of the room. He froze for a moment and stared at the machine before he abruptly brushed past Doyle and continued on to the east wing where their rooms were located.
"Be careful, the stairs are narrow," Doyle said as he led the way down. Adelaide followed behind him holding a lantern and Harry's flashlight danced patterns on the walls as he brought up the rear. It didn't take them long to find the pool of blood and the electro-magnet behind a false wall and they realized Avari was killed when he discovered the poltergeist was a hoax. What did surprise them was the small grave for Mrs. Reid's baby.
Doyle stared down at the small plot.
"Mrs Reid claimed her child died of influenza. Why would the Reids bury their son in a secret room in the basement?" Adelaide asked.
Doyle glanced back at Harry as the other man moved away from the grave. "Because it wasn't the flu that killed him," Doyle said sadly. "We need to dig this up and find out what really happened to the baby."
Adelaide looked slightly ill, Harry shuffled even further away but said nothing.
"You know what happened, don't you?" Adelaide asked as Arthur started pushing aside the earthen floor with his hands.
"I suspect what happened," Doyle corrected as he continued to dig.
The grave wasn't very deep and Doyle soon had the small bundle uncovered. It didn't take him long to find the real cause of death.
"We need to have another conversation with Mrs. Reid," Doyle said as he re-covered the little body.
"I can call Constable McKenna in the morning to arrange another meeting with Mrs. Reid," Adelaide said as they left the room and its tiny occupant. "I'll let him know we have a new lead in the case for him."
"The best thing we can do now," Doyle added, with a pointed look at Harry. "Is try to get some sleep. There's nothing else we can do tonight."
"Someone tell me again why we're doing this," Harry said as he followed the others into the police station.
"We need her to confess," Doyle explained. "We don't have any actual proof she and her lover killed Mr. Reid."
They were led into a large, sunny room where Mrs. Reid waited with a guard stationed by the door. They listened as she explained how her husband found a love letter and took his temper out on her and killed the baby. However, she refused to change her story that a poltergeist murdered her husband.
"You can't protect him anymore, give him up," Harry said as he stood next to the table. Mrs. Reid just shook her head and said nothing as tears rolled down her cheeks. Harry looked at the others at a loss as to what to try next. She really believes a ghost killed her husband, Harry thought. Maybe she didn't have an accomplice after all; someone is fooling her along with everyone else.
"Then maybe the dearly departed Mr. Reid will," Doyle said cryptically and led the way out of the room.
"Care to share with the rest of us, Doc," Harry said as he and Adelaide followed Doyle out of the police station and stood waiting for a cab.
"We use a fake ghost to catch our killer."
"You want to use the necrophone," Adelaide said as she climbed in the cab.
"Exactly," Doyle said. "We talk to Mr. Edison, explain what we know, and record a message for our suspect."
"There's a few other things was can do as well to sell the bit," Harry said.
"Yes, well, let's not go too far overboard," Doyle replied.
"I told you he would say that," Harry said in a low voice. "He thinks he a real scientist instead of a clever thief."
"You aren't helping," Doyle told Harry with a glare.
Harry ignored him and said to Edison, "Look, we both know your necrophone doesn't work, and it never will work, because there is no such thing as real ghosts."
Edison balked and walked away from the trio. "How can you say that after what you heard?" the inventor asked as he turned back toward Houdini.
Harry took a deep breath ready for a battle, but Doyle stepped in. "This is the only way we can catch a murderer and free an innocent woman," Doyle explained.
"Mr. Carson and Miss Pasternak will be back soon," Adelaide reminded them. "If we're going to do this, we need to do it now."
"Fine," Edison conceded. "But I don't want him involved." He pointed at Harry.
"Fine by me," Harry agreed. "I have some tricks to set up anyway."
He started to leave the room but Doyle stopped him with a hand on his arm. "I'm sorry, Mr. Edison, but Houdini has to be the one to make the recording."
"Why me?" Harry asked at the same time Edison said, "Why him?"
"Because he would sound more like Mr. Reid than you or I would," Doyle explained patiently.
Edison threw his hands in the air and said, "Let's just get this over with," he said and started setting the dials and switches on the necrophone to record Harry's message from the other side.
Once the recording was done, Harry rigged a few other little surprises for the spook show.
"The others are coming back, "Adelaide said from the hall.
The trio left the sitting room and were back in Harry's room before Mr. Carson and Miss Pasternak entered the house.
"You're sure this will work?" Adelaide asked as Doyle closed the bedroom door.
"Assuming Edison in there doesn't overplay his part, it should work," Harry replied as he sat on the chair by the window.
Doyle leant against the bedpost. "How long should we wait to spring the trap?"
"The sooner the better," Adelaide said. "If Mrs. Reid really is innocent, we need to get her released."
There was a knock at the door and Doyle opened it to find Mr. Carson standing in front of him.
"Miss Pasternak believes there is a spirit nearby. It could be Mr. Turner again," Carson explained. "Mr. Edison is willing to try the necrophone and see if we can make contact."
Harry stood and came to the door. "Tell Edison, we'll be right there."
Carson nodded and headed back up the hall to the sitting room.
"Of course, now is a good time, too," Harry said as he held the door for Adelaide and Doyle.
The plan worked, but it wasn't the only surprise. Soon after Carson admitted he'd killed Mr Reid in self-defence and faked the poltergeist to set Mrs Reid free, the necrophone started again. There was a cacophony of voices and sounds and Harry was shocked to once again hear his mother's voice come from the machine.
Edison stared at his invention with a look of horror and before Harry could stop him, the inventor smashed the device to the floor, shattering it, and silencing the voices. Harry heard himself shout "No!" just as the necrophone was destroyed; some desperate part of himself saw the wreckage as his mother lost to him again.
In the confusion over the next few minutes, Harry used the time to escape back to his room. He wasn't sure what he felt. He knew the necrophone didn't work. He knew there was no such thing as ghosts. And yet … .
He paced the room for a few seconds then looked at the desk with the whiskey decanter. He'd had more to drink in the last two days than in the previous few years. As he poured himself the drink, there was a quick knock at his door and Doyle let himself in.
Harry listened with half an ear as Doyle talked about the necrophone and the lost chance to speak to loved ones on the other side. Houdini started to argue when he turned to see Doyle sat on the end of the bed bench, shoulders slumped in defeat.
He won't let it go, Harry thought. She's still here! There's still hope; not like with … her. He needs to focus on that, on finding a cure.
Harry took off his suit coat as Doyle talked about his reality now, the reality that Touie would not get better, that there wasn't any hope. In all of their conversations about Touie, this was the first time Arthur admitted he didn't know what to do, that there wasn't anything else to do to help her. He, Harry, was still looking for an answer, he had to make Doyle realize there was still a chance Touie could get better.
"You can't give up on hope," Harry told him as he stood next to Doyle. "You're not capable of it. That's reality." Harry paced a few steps away and continued. "She's alive. And maybe that's a nightmare, but that's your reality, too."
Doyle didn't look at him while Harry spoke. Then he glanced up with a sad look on his face. "And your reality?" he asked and Harry sighed.
"My reality is, I'll never see … her … again," Harry admitted quietly. "And I don't know how to accept that."
Harry slumped in the chair near the bed and covered his face with his hands. He heard Doyle moving and assumed the other man left the room. Instead, Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Arthur standing next to him. Doyle didn't say anything, he just looked at Harry for a moment, squeezed the shoulder and left. Harry got the message, though, loud and clear; Doyle and by extension Adelaide, would help him any way they could.
He'd hoped to get away from the house unnoticed, he'd left a note for Doyle in his, Harry's, room explaining where he was going, but a quiet escape was not to be. Just as the cab pulled up to the front of the house, Doyle and Adelaide came out to see him off.
"I'm glad you're going back," Adelaide told him as she squeezed his hand.
"I need to face the reality," Harry said and looked a Doyle. "I'll tell her goodbye my own way."
"Will you stay long enough to see Theo and the rest of your family?" Doyle asked as he put Harry's travel case in the cab.
"I haven't decided that, yet. I didn't leave Theo on the best terms a few days ago. He may throw me out the second I show up at the door."
"It might help to share the grief," Adelaide suggested quietly.
"You said the funeral would help, too," Harry said and smiled to let her know he was teasing. "I'll think about it," he promised. He nodded to Adelaide and shook Doyle's hand then climbed into the cab.
Doyle closed the door and said, "Send a wire to the police station and let us know what you decide to do. We need to wrap up a few things here with Constable McKenna and will stay in town a few days longer."
Harry nodded as the cab pulled away.
The train back to New York was uneventful and he arrived well after dark. He found a cab and gave the address for the cemetery. He'd thought about what he wanted to do, how he wanted to say goodbye on the train.
He took the picture of his mother from his pocket and a few small stones and knelt at his mother's grave. He whispered the kaddish as tears tracked down his cheeks.
"Goodbye, Ma," he whispered and touched the photo as he stood from the grave. He glanced around and was surprised to see the same young woman in the near distance watching him. He wiped the tears from his eyes and moved toward her, only to find she had disappeared.
He walked down to Theo's house and saw the group of people rocking and praying through the window. He realized he didn't want to be in there. The people who cared the most about him, weren't in that room; they were four hundred miles away in Canada.
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 09 (con't)
I don't know what to write tonight. Benjamin is alive! I have to say I don't know what I feel at the moment. I'm hurt, angry, and happy at the same time. He says he did it to protect me, how I hate those words! I can take care of myself! He calls me Penny and says he still loves me but he can't come home yet, the group he's investigating is planning something and he needs to stop it.
I want to believe him. I do. This is exactly what I suspected all along, that he was working to stop this group. Then why do I keep hearing Houdini's voice in my head saying the ones who know us best, can deceive us the easiest? I haven't told Doctor Doyle or Houdini about the clandestine meeting or that it was Benjamin and not Walbridge who showed up at the mill.
Houdini is starting to deal with his mother's death; he's gone back to New York to visit her and say his goodbyes. I saw him drinking for the first time since I've known him as he was trying to cope with his mother's death as well as this case. In all the time I've known him, I have never seen Harry with anything other than milk. Hopefully, he can start to heal now.
Doyle and I, meanwhile, have been busy wrapping up the rest of the Reid case. When we told Mrs. Reid who was responsible for her husband's murder, she broke down completely. Constable McKenna says she has a sister in a nearby town who will take care of her. The poor woman lost everything in her life, a husband, a son, and a lover.
Speaking of losses, Benjamin told me to stop looking for him, stop investigating what happened. Can I do that? Can I just let everything go after all this time and trust him? I'm not sure.
There is an oops from this episode to the next one. When Adelaide wakes up from the dream, she opens the Tom Sawyer book to look at Benjamin's picture. However, the production either forgot this, or didn't think it was clear as there is a scene with Harry returning the book in the next episode. I didn't realize this at the time and wrote my own bit about how Adelaide got the book back, and I've left it in. :)
Chapter 10: Revelations Part 1
And here we are, at the last episode. I hope you've liked what I did for the episodes, I've had a blast writing this. I am planning other stories that will pick up after this, think of them as a virtual season 2. Writers love comments and kudos, so please leave a note or a click for the story if you've enjoyed it.
Dialog for the episode The Pall of LaPier written by David Hoselton
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Harry is due back from New York today, which means I need to talk to both Houdini and Doctor Doyle about my plan. I'm sure they are ready to go back to New York and then on to England, but I've decided to stay here. I need to find Benjamin; I need to know what's actually going on. He tells me he stays away to protect me, but something is off. Maybe it's police instinct, maybe I've been around Harry too much. Something isn't right.
Houdini wasn't able to get a train back to Buffalo until the following day, which left him time to work on his other reason for coming to New York. He'd had a few answers to the letters he'd written to various specialists regarding Touie and all of them agreed on the best man for Touie's case. Harry was only glad the doctor agreed to meet him before he had to catch the train.
Doctor Hermann Biggs was easy to spot as Harry waited for him in the smoking room of the hotel. Around fifty years old with thinning blond hair he rushed into the hotel looking harried and constantly looking around. Harry met him in the lobby and directed him to the elevator and his room.
"Doctor Biggs, you got my letter," Harry said as he led the other man into his rooms and offered him a chair.
"I did, Mr. Houdini, though I must say this is a bit unorthodox. I usually deal directly with the patient and family."
Harry sat in the chair opposite the doctor. "The family is understandably distracted. I offered to help," Harry explained. "Do you think you can cure her?"
Doctor Biggs pulled out an envelope that Harry recognized as the letter he'd sent a month ago. "You say here she is unconscious, her case may be rather advanced at this point. There may not be anything I can do."
Harry didn't want to hear that. He wanted someone to tell him there was still hope. He'd just convinced Doyle not to give up, that American doctors could work miracles. "I'll pay to send you to London to see her," Harry offered. "Anything you need, just tell me."
Doctor Biggs sat for a moment and read through Harry's letter again. "As I said Mr. Houdini, with Mrs. Doyle's case so advanced, I'm not sure there is anything I can do for her. However," he held up a hand as Harry was about to interrupt. "However, let me think about your offer and consult with a few colleagues. I will let you know in a few weeks what I decide."
Harry chafed at the delay, but he studied the doctor intently for a moment and realised it was the best offer he was going to get. He nodded and the doctor stood up to leave and Harry hesitated. "I'll be back in the city in a week or two with Doctor Doyle," Harry told Biggs as he walked the man back to the door. "If you prefer to go through the family directly, you can reach Doctor Doyle here, or at his residence in London."
The Doctor quirked an eyebrow at Harry and said, "Doctor Doyle, doesn't know about any of this does he?" The doctor stared at Harry angrily. "This is highly unusual and possibly unethical, Mr. Houdini."
Harry blocked the door essentially trapping the doctor in the room. "He's tried everyone in England and in Europe. I asked about the best and I was told you are the best. You don't have to like me, I just want you to think about helping this woman and helping her family."
Doctor Biggs drew himself up and pointedly looked at Houdini's hand on the door. After a moment, he relaxed and said, "I will contact Doctor Doyle with my answer, sir."
Harry relinquished the door and nodded. "Thank you."
He let the doctor out and watched him as far as the elevator before returning to his room to pack for the train. He'd have to tell Arthur about his campaign to help Touie now.
"How was New York?" Arthur asked as Harry sank down on the step outside the hotel.
Houdini didn't want to admit it, but he was exhausted; crisscrossing the state of New York twice in as many days was starting to take its toll. He still wasn't sleeping much and when he did he had strange dreams about being followed or running from something, but he never knew what. "Terrific," he finally said and glanced at Doyle. "I slept like a baby," he added with wry humor. "How's the writing?"
"Wonderful," Doyle retorted in kind, "I ran out of paper." They shared a look, and Harry got the message loud and clear.
He looked around the hotel and since Adelaide wasn't there, Houdini told Arthur about meeting with Doctor Biggs, the respiratory specialist. He wasn't surprised Doyle was irritated with him for interfering, and was glad the constable chose that particular moment to join them. He slowly got to his feet as she approached and greeted her with a smile.
He was stunned to hear Adelaide tell them about her solitary meeting with Walbridge and agreed with Doyle that she shouldn't have gone alone, anything could have happened. Has she forgotten about the death threat, Harry thought as he listened to Arthur chastise her for taking such a risk. Then she told them about Benjamin and all of Harry's remaining suspicions were aroused. I knew he was up to something, he has to be. And she knows it too.
Adelaide defended her choice and then dropped the announcement she planned to stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake to find Benjamin. "I'm not going with you. I have to find him," she said.
Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing and laughed. "He asked you to trust him; leave him alone."
"I trust him," Adelaide retorted and hesitated for a moment. "Which is why I can't leave him alone, knowing he's in danger."
Doyle quickly change the subject to a new case and Harry was distracted from further thoughts of Benjamin and anarchists when Arthur held up a newspaper detailing the death of everyone in a small town called LaPier. Harry took the paper from Doyle and read the story while the doctor convinced Adelaide they needed to look into what happened.
"I checked with the hotel manager," Doyle said and took the newspaper back from Harry. "LaPier isn't on the train line, we have to go to nearby Cicely and hire a car from there. Cicely is about an hour from here by train and the next one leaves in two hours."
Adelaide looked at Doyle and then at the paper still in his hand; Harry could see she was mentally debating whether to come with them or stay and look for Benjamin. Finally, she nodded once and turned back to the hotel. "In that case, I suppose I should start packing."
Harry sighed and tiredly reached down for his carpet bag, but Doyle got there first. He took Harry's bag and directed him into the hotel. "Come with me, Harry. You can take a nap while I pack."
The train rumbled along the tracks for about fifteen minutes before Adelaide saw Harry's eyes drift closed, his head bent forward, as he leant against the window of the train car. She reached forward intending to make him more comfortable, but Doyle waved a hand at her and shook his head. He mouthed, 'He'll wake up.' to her and she relaxed back into her own seat.
"He's still not sleeping?" Adelaide asked quietly.
Doyle shook his head. "I tried to get him to lie down while we were at the hotel but he wouldn't."
Houdini twitched and mumbled in his sleep, he squirmed a bit until his head rested against Doyle's shoulder. As he quieted down again, Adelaide smiled and Doyle rolled his eyes, but she noticed Arthur also didn't try to shift Harry off his arm.
"Not a word, Constable," Doyle growled and Adelaide grinned wider. "Were you able to reach the police about LaPier?" he asked.
Adelaide went along with the change in topic. "I wired ahead to Cicely and they sent back some basic information." She reached into her satchel and pulled out some notes. "The newspaper was right, there was one survivor, a Reverend named Farley."
"Do they have any theories on what happened?"
"Not really. It seems the officer in charge," Adelaide shuffled through her notes. "A Corporal Bazay, refuses to enter the town until other help arrives."
Doyle shifted on his seat but stopped when Houdini made a noise. "So you're telling me they've just left those people for more than a day? They haven't done anything?"
Adelaide nodded sadly. "They're afraid of something that's for sure."
There was a loud crash outside their car as a porter dropped a tray of dishes and Harry jerked awake. He sat up, bleary-eyed and glanced at Doyle. Arthur looked back at him, but said nothing about being used as a makeshift pillow and Harry looked around the train car. Adelaide figured he'd slept for about twenty minutes.
"We'll be in Cicely soon," she told Houdini.
Harry nodded and sat straighter in his seat while he looked out the window.
The train car fell silent and Adelaide cast around her mind for a safe topic of discussion. "Did you do anything interesting in New York while you were there," she finally asked.
"Yes, Harry, why don't you tell Adelaide what you were up to in New York," Doyle said with some exasperation.
Uh oh, so much for a safe topic, Adelaide thought.
"I'm still not sure why you're so upset," Harry mumbled. "I told you months ago I would help any way I could. I'm helping."
"Harry, what did you do?" There was only one thing she could think of that would make Doyle this irritated and that was Houdini meddling with regard to Mrs. Doyle.
"He decided to --"
"I found a doctor to review Touie's case," Harry interrupted. "He really is the best in the world, Doc. He could cure her."
Doyle shook his head, but said nothing and Houdini turned to Adelaide. "So what do you want to do when we get to LaPier?" he asked.
"Since the local police haven't done much yet," Adelaide answered. "We'll have to start at the beginning."
"Well the crime scene certainly won't be contaminated," Doyle said with a frown.
"They probably think it's some sort of disease or plague," Adelaide said to try and defend the local's actions.
The train slowed for the turn into Cicely and fifteen minutes later, the trio went in search of a ride to take them out to LaPier.
They wandered up the main street of the town and Adelaide was horrified to see everyone just lying where they fell. Men, women, children, no one had been spared.
"We should split up," Harry said in a low voice. "See if we can find any other survivors or get an idea what happened."
Doyle nodded. "Be careful what you touch," he warned. "This could still be anything."
Harry drifted down one of the side streets; Adelaide watched him peer through windows.
Doyle knelt beside a woman, her fresh vegetables scattered around her, and looked at her eyes and skin. "No obvious marks or injuries," Doyle muttered as Adelaide walked away. "It doesn't make sense," he said and stood up.
Adelaide went in a nearby house and gasped. A family of four seated at their kitchen table and all of them dead, the little boys still with their spoons in their hand.
She walked back outside and hastily wiped a tear from her eye. Doyle was examining another of the residents as she walked up to him.
"What's just as important as why these people died, is why the reverend survived," Doyle said to her as he glanced at the small church down the road. "Where's Houdini?"
"The last I saw of him he was checking the houses down the road," Adelaide said and pointed behind her.
Arthur stood and called, "Houdini!" just as Adelaide saw the magician walk out of one of the houses.
Harry waved back to them and started up the road at a quick walk. "I haven't found anyone else," he said as he stopped next to Doyle. "What about you two."
"Nothing," Adelaide replied. "And no ideas what could have caused this, either."
"Did you see Reverend Farley?" Doyle asked Houdini.
"No. But if you're looking for a preacher, I'd try the church." Harry headed toward the gate leading into the church yard.
The trio entered the building and found the young reverend seated in a pew. Adelaide could tell he was suffering a kind of shock and didn't question him too much about what happened, though it seemed Farley had slept right through the calamity.
Back out in the afternoon light, Adelaide began to wonder if the town had suffered some sort of smiting from God or even the Devil. Harry stared at her in disbelief. "We all know you're not that gullible," he told her.
Adelaide looked away and she heard a soft hiss of breath from Houdini. "You don't trust your husband. Do you?"
She tried to explain, but it was no use. She wasn't that sure of things herself, there was no way she could convince Harry of her intentions when she didn't know her own mind. She was almost grateful when Doyle found the nest of dead mice and agreed Adelaide wasn't too far off the mark thinking the deaths were supernatural.
"I saw a doctor's office," Harry said impatiently. "Let's see what his records have to say. You know, before we abandon all reason."
Adelaide watched as Harry marched off toward the doctor's office to look for new leads. Doyle stood and glanced at Adelaide. "Is he right?" Doyle asked as they slowly followed behind Houdini. "Have you had a change of heart regarding Benjamin?"
Adelaide stared off into the distance. "I'm not sure what to think, if I'm honest. I know Benjamin is a good man. On the other hand, he's being so secretive about what he's doing."
"He said it was to protect you."
Adelaide sighed in frustration. "I don't need protecting," she said with a frown. "I need to know what my husband is involved with."
Doyle held the door to the doctor's office for her. "What will you do if you find out he isn't so innocent?"
Adelaide looked back at him. "I don't know," she admitted softly and went through the office looking for Houdini.
They didn't find much at the doctor's office to explain what killed the people of LaPier, but they did find another survivor, a young girl who was being treated by the doctor. Adelaide and Doyle stayed to talk to the girl, Libby, while Harry wandered through the rest of the office.
Libby told them about feeling ill and how her parents thought she might have the flu. She talked about her family and Doctor Millet and Adelaide saw the moment Libby realised her parents were gone and hugged the girl close to her.
"She should be in a hospital," Doyle said quietly. "Her Addison's aside, she's been unconscious for three days and needs medical attention."
Adelaide nodded and stood. Libby clung to her and she said, "I'll take her out to Corporal Bazay, he should be able to arrange for an ambulance and I'll also have him start looking for any relatives."
Doyle glanced behind him. "Harry and I will stay here, try to see if we can find anything in the doctor's notes that might explain what could have happened."
Adelaide escorted Libby out to the barricade and to Corporal Bazay. "Corporal, We've found another survivor," Adelaide said as she and Libby walked up to the police line.
Bazay looked the girl over and asked warily, "How do we know she's not contagious? It might be better for her to stay with the Reverend, since he doesn't want to leave, either."
Adelaide pulled the girl closer and glared at the police officer. "A little courtesy, Corporal. The girl has just lost everyone she knows." When Bazay glanced away from her, she continued, "Doctor Doyle believes she has something called Addison's Disease. She needs to be in a hospital and you need to find any relatives she may have living nearby."
Bazay grudgingly acknowledged the orders and Adelaide turned to Libby. "They are going to help you feel better and find your family," she told the girl as Bazay reached out for Libby's hand.
"You'll find out what killed my parents, won't you?" Libby asked in a tiny voice.
Adelaide squeezed her hand and replied, "I will do my very best." She watched Bazay lift the girl into a police wagon and then walked back into LaPier.
Doyle and Harry were still in the doctor's office and she found them in what looked to be the doctor's private living quarters. Harry was seated on a sofa with what appeared to be the doctor's record books scattered around him while Doyle stood in the doorway.
It didn't take them long to narrow the focus of their search to the town's water supply and decided to find the river to test it. As Harry stood to join the others, Adelaide noticed he tucked one of the doctor's books in his pocket. What is it with him and nicking other people's books, Adelaide wondered as they left the office and started down the road and up into the hills behind the town.
"Don't pack your bags quite yet," Harry said. "What about everyone down river?"
Adelaide glanced downstream.
"I seem to remember there are a few mining camps and an abandoned compound nearby," Doyle said as they started to walk back to the road. "Hopefully those people are still safe."
They met Corporal Bazay at the barricade and Adelaide took the lead. "We think we have cause for what's happened, Corporal," Adelaide said as they stood beside the police officer. "It's possible the river water has been contaminated by the mine."
"What's down river from here?" Harry asked.
Bazay shrugged. "Just a bunch of Indians squatting at the old mining compound."
Adelaide watched Harry's hands clench and rushed on before Houdini did something rash. "We need to warn them," she said decisively and moved to the police wagon and climbed inside. Doyle sat beside her and Harry took the bench opposite them as Bazay and the remaining police officer stared at them for a moment before the Corporal motioned for his fellow to turn the wagon around.
The sun was beginning to set when the wagon pulled into the mining compound and Bazay yelled for someone named Walt.
Adelaide listened as Walt and Doyle talked about Sherlock Holmes and she was a bit surprised Arthur was so forthcoming about why he'd killed off the character. Harry had been pacing the room behind them and as Doyle started to talk about the death of his father and Touie being ill, he stopped behind Arthur and waited, lending the other man silent support. Walt didn't say anything once Doyle was done speaking, he just looked at the doctor and nodded once and let the subject drop.
Arthur gazed into the fire for a few minutes, then put down his cup and got to his feet. "I want to make a check of everyone, make sure no one is ill," he said and reached for his hat.
"I'll come with you," Adelaide offered. "I could use a bit of air before bed."
Doyle held the door for her as she led the way out into the night. They walked along to the first row of cabins and Adelaide asked quietly, "Are you all right?"
Doyle looked over at her with slight surprise. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?"
"I was just surprised how much you told Walt?"
Doyle knocked on a cabin door and waited for someone to answer. When an older woman opened the door, Doyle said, "Good evening. My name is Doyle and I'm a doctor." He waited for some sort of reaction from the woman, but she only stared at him impassively. "I wanted to make sure everyone was feeling all right, there is some question about the safety of the water supply."
The woman looked him up and down for a moment, then replied, "We're all good here." And closed the door before Arthur could ask anything else.
As he and Adelaide moved on to the next cabin, Doyle picked up their conversation, "Walt is a very easy man to talk to," he said. "He listens to what you have to say."
Adelaide was silent for a moment then asked, "Do you really miss Sherlock Holmes?"
Doyle knocked on the next cabin and explained why they were there. He received another curt affirmative that everyone was fine and they walked on.
"I'm a bit surprised myself, but yes I do rather miss him," Doyle admitted. "He was fun to write, in the beginning. He certainly fed my family more than once after I returned home and medicine didn't cover the bills. Then I realised he was getting in the way. There were other things I wanted to write about, to talk about, and all anyone else wanted was another Holmes story."
They knocked on the last few cabin doors and collected more replies of everyone feeling all right and started to walk back to the Walt's cabin.
They reported the good news that everyone seemed healthy so far and Harry offered to take the first shift staying awake in case anything went wrong during the night. Doyle gave Houdini a quick look, but said nothing as he went into one of the bedrooms off the main sitting area. Adelaide found another room and paged through Benjamin's copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. She read the inscription on the inside cover once again and smiled slightly at the memories of Benjamin and their life together, such happier times.
She was dozing in a chair a few hours later when she heard a door close and soft voices coming from the outer room. She recognised Doyle's deeper timber and Harry's lighter tone responding but couldn't make out the words. She assumed Arthur was telling Houdini to get some sleep, and soon she heard the other door open and close again.
She exchanged the hard chair for the soft bed and the next thing she knew, morning light streamed through the window next to her bed.
Doyle walked outside the next morning to find Harry already up and about. So much for hoping he'd sleep in, Doyle thought as he walked over to the other man. It had been a quiet night in the mining compound and Doyle was beginning to think Walt was right, it was something other than the water at fault.
He listened as Harry told him about the book on dreams and read the note Harry had written to himself to prove whether or not he really was awake. Doyle could see Houdini was desperate to prove something about the woman he'd been seeing, and couldn't help teasing his friend just a tiny bit.
"Otherwise it could mean you've been seeing a ghost," Doyle said with a smile.
"Wouldn't you love that," Harry retorted impatiently.
"You'd never tell me anyway," Doyle said but he noticed Harry wasn't in the mood for the game at the moment. He tried a different tactic, "You're telling me, if right now, you were to see … your mother standing before you, a clear, distinct image of her. That you still wouldn't accept it as evidence of the afterlife?" Doyle asked patiently.
"That'll never happen," Harry quickly denied but Doyle noticed he glanced furtively around.
"Hypothetically?" Doyle barely asked before Houdini's adamant "No, I wouldn't accept it." was the reply.
"Then how would you explain it?" Doyle asked and was shocked to see the change come over Harry's face.
"It's simple. It would mean I was going insane," he replied with a look of fear on his face.
This is really scaring him, Doyle realised and could sympathise with the terror of losing one's mind. It wasn't so long ago he'd experienced something similar if only in a hallucination brought on by being poisoned. He glanced back at the note in Harry's hand and saw the test in a new light. It's not a test for a dream, it's a test of his sanity.
Arthur started to say something but was interrupted when Adelaide joined them. She showed them the inscription in the Tom Sawyer book as well as the newspaper advertisement of Walbridge Hardware going out of business, but before they could do much other than decide there might be a code, Corporal Bazay arrived and informed them there had been three more deaths.
Doyle sat beside Adelaide again as Bazay drove them to the small village above LaPier and watched Houdini. Harry stared out the window for a few minutes, then he would close his eyes for a few seconds, and with a slight jerk, he would stare out the window again. A few minutes later, the pattern would repeat. As Doyle watched this, a new theory began to form in his head to explain Houdini's mystery woman. Even if I'm right, he'd never let me do what was necessary to fix it.
Adelaide had watched Harry's odd behaviour as well, but when she started to ask about it, Doyle shook his head.
They arrived at the little village and Bazay directed them to a barn where three bodies were laid out under white sheets, two were adults, one was a child. Doyle removed the sheet over each body and gave it a cursory exam. Just like the victims at LaPier, there were no signs of injury or evidence they had been attacked. The only bit of good news was that in this village most of the residents were still alive, though that begged a whole series of other questions as to why.
"I need the medical records for everyone in this village, Corporal," Doyle ordered and looked up. "Does this village have a doctor?"
"Yes, sir," Bazay stuttered out still a bit shell-shocked from Doyle bellowing at him a few moments before to evacuate the village. "It's this way, sir."
"Just point me in the right direction, I'll find it. Meanwhile start organizing your men to get these people to safety."
"What do you want us to do?" Harry asked.
Doyle turned around. "Go back to Walt's, tell him he was right, it's not the water. Then go to LaPier. I'll meet you at the inn in a few hours."
Harry nodded and started to leave the barn with Adelaide.
"Houdini?" Doyle called and Harry glanced back. "Get all of the medical records from Doctor Millet's office as well. We'll go over them all again and see if we can find anything in common."
"Walt. Records. Inn. Got it. We'll see you in a couple of hours."
Doyle watched them leave in one of the police wagons and headed into the village. He found the doctor's office, a room set aside in the man's home, and knocked.
An elderly gentleman answered the door and introduced himself as Doctor Jonas Young. He invited Doyle inside and directed him to his medical office.
"What can you tell me about the victims, Doctor Young? Did they share any common habits?"
Doctor Young shook his head. "No, no, nothing like that. The boy attended the school down in LaPier, the woman lived alone. I'd just sent young Gregory home. He broke his leg when a horse kicked him."
"Did they live near each other in the village?"
"The boy and the woman did, they lived near the hills. Greg lived behind his smithy over near the river." Doctor Young wagged his head again. "I just don't understand it, sir. Three perfectly healthy people dead. You don't think it's the flu do you?"
Doyle saw the familiar fear in the doctor's eyes and quickly reassured him, "No, this isn't the flu. You heard about what happened at LaPier, I'm sure." When the doctor nodded his head in a quick jerk, Doyle continued, "Whatever this is, it killed dogs, mice, cats, animals as well as people."
"Dear me," Doctor Young said. "I wonder do you think --" he was interrupted by Corporal Bazay.
"I'm sorry Doctor, but the wagon is waiting for you," Bazay said as he stood stiffly in the doorway.
Doctor Young rose to his feet.
"Before you go," Doyle said, "I'd like to take your records with me, see if I can figure out what happened here."
"Oh, I don't think --"
"It could be very important," Doyle pressed. "There are survivors here, if we can figure out why, we may be able to stop this from happening again."
Doctor Young hesitated.
"I'll see to it Corporal Bazay returns the files to you as soon as we are done," Doyle said and clenched his hat a little tighter.
"You are a doctor," Doctor Young said, "I suppose it wouldn't be a breach if I were to let you review the records." He pulled out the bottom drawer of his desk, removed a smallish stack of files and papers and handed them to Doyle. "This is everything I have on the thirty souls who live here," the doctor said then gathered up his hat and top coat and followed Bazay out to the waiting wagon.
Doyle stuffed the files into a satchel hanging behind the office door and went back outside.
Eventually, Harry and Adelaide left the research to Doyle; they had culled through most of the reports, and neither Houdini nor the constable really had the background to understand either of the doctor's notes.
Doyle heard one of the bedroom doors upstairs close and a few moments later the front door shut as well. Harry passed the window and waved in at Doyle before walking off down the road toward the river and out of sight.
Arthur had the beginnings of an idea about an hour later when he heard the front door open and Harry walked back into the dining room. Houdini dropped his top coat over one of the chairs then stood over near the fire to warm up. He listened as Doyle told him about the common theme that the three latest victims had all been in bed when they died.
"OK. And?" Harry asked rubbing his hands together.
"And, that's it," Doyle admitted. "I said I had a thought, not a solution."
Harry smiled and started to reply when Adelaide walked into the room and tossed the Tom Sawyer book and the newspaper with the Walbridge advertisement into the midst of Doyle's medical records.
"It is a cypher," she announced and told them how she'd discovered the hidden code and what it said: King Edward Sep 2 01
Doyle looked from the paper with the message back up to Adelaide. "They intend to kill the King," he said, his shocked expression mirrored on Adelaide's face.
Harry, however was interested in something else, he wanted to know why Benjamin had the book. As Houdini pointed out how suspicious it looked for Benjamin to have the code book, and that he had lied to her, Adelaide's face became hard and closed until she finally left the room saying she would contact Chief Merring with their information.
Doyle glanced back at Harry after Adelaide left the room.
"What?" Harry asked defensively. "Don't look at me like that."
"You could have been a little more sympathetic," he chastised.
Harry shrugged and turned back to the fire. "Something is wrong with that guy, I know it. And I'll bet you know it, too."
Doyle looked away.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," Harry said and sat at the table next to Arthur.
"He couldn't stop any of those other assassinations, he had the book." Harry looked up as if he could see the bedrooms above them. "What he did to Adelaide was cruel. How is faking your death and putting someone you're supposed to love through all that pain a good thing?"
"He was trying to protect her," Doyle replied.
"Or he was trying to protect himself," Harry scoffed. "I hope I'm wrong, I do. But something about this is just feels off." Harry stood from the table. "I'm going to bed."
Harry walked out of the dining room and soon Arthur heard another of the bedroom doors open and close.
Doyle sat at the table for another couple of hours before throwing his pen down in frustration. "I need a break," he said aloud to the empty room. He gathered up his cup and the teapot and walked back into the kitchen to make a fresh pot of tea. While he waited for the water for boil, he wandered upstairs and checked on Adelaide and Harry. He wanted to make sure the constable was doing all right after the accusations Harry made and he wanted to make sure Houdini was asleep at all.
He knocked softly on Adelaide's door and opened it just enough for the light to fall on the bed. He was glad to see she was sleeping soundly, a small smile on her face. She whimpered softly in her sleep then rolled away from the door. He closed the door again and went down to the next one.
He again knocked but when he opened the door he saw that Houdini, while asleep, was not having a restful night. He laid on top of the bedcovers, still fully dressed and Doyle watched as Harry twitched and groaned in his sleep for someone to leave him alone. Arthur was about to enter the room, when Harry startled and rolled over on his other side. Doyle slowly closed the door and wondered how long the nightmares had been going on. At least since the funeral, Doyle thought with a sigh.
Arthur went back down the stairs and heard the kettle singing in the kitchen. He refilled the pot and settled back at the dining room table to puzzle out the mysterious deaths surrounding them.
Harry woke the next morning and felt just as tired as when he'd gone to bed the night before. "Maybe I should just give up on sleep all together," he muttered to himself as he shrugged into his suit coat and trudged down the stairs.
He found Adelaide and Doyle in the dining room having an excited discussion about gas being heavier than air.
"So, where did this tidal wave come from?" Doyle asked as he shuffled the medical files together.
Adelaide paused for a moment then smiled. "The mine," she said decisively. "The Cave of Dogs was a man-made cave; we have a copper mine behind the town."
"So why are we still here?" Harry asked as he sat at the table. He ignored the assessing look Doyle gave him. "Why aren't we sick or dead?"
"Maybe the gas is all gone," Adelaide answered.
"Or there's just less of it," Doyle added. "We need to go back up to the mine."
Adelaide left the room in a rush to dress and Harry could see Doyle was also excited about a possible answer to their mystery. All Harry could think about was the hike back up to the mine and wondered how he would manage the distance.
Adelaide was back a few minutes later and the trio left the hotel and followed the road until it dead-ended at the start of the hills; after that Doyle and Adelaide hurried up the side of the hill to the entrance of the copper mine, Harry trailed behind them. When he finally arrived, Doyle struck a match and held it out at the entrance to the mine and slowly lowered it. When the match was roughly a foot off the ground, it went out.
"This mine needs to be shut down and sealed off immediately," Adelaide said.
"You may have saved a lot of lives," Doyle told her.
Harry looked at Doyle for a moment then glanced at Adelaide. "Well I guess we can leave, first thing tomorrow." He looked at Doyle again. "Save your husband," he said to Adelaide.
"We all can," Doyle agreed and gave Adelaide an encouraging smile.
Harry watched as Adelaide's face fell. "You're right," she said to Houdini. "This is stupid. And dangerous." She looked up at Doyle. "Which is why I can't let you go with me. I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to either of you." She turned abruptly and started back down the hill.
Harry watched her go then looked back at Doyle. "We're not going to just let her leave without us are we?" Harry asked.
Doyle started down the hill after Adelaide. "Of course not. But we'll need to convince her she needs our help." Doyle said. "That's not something our Adelaide seems capable of accepting."
Harry followed Doyle slowly back down the hill.
"Let me talk to her," Doyle said when Harry caught up with him. "I'll try to make her understand we're concerned about her and want to help."
Harry nodded and turned toward the road out of town once they were back in LaPier. "I gonna go see Walt. Tell him what we found and let him know his people can return to the valley."
Harry waited until Doyle was back at the inn before he walked down the road to the mining compound.
Harry sat back in the chair. "What do you mean?"
"Your mother, I heard her," Walt explained and Harry shook his head.
"No, about the President. He's in New York?"
Walt nodded and bent down to pick up a newspaper lying by his chair. "The newspaper from Cicely had a story about it," Walt said as he handed over the newspaper.
Harry read the headline and felt his stomach plummet. The article said the President would be speaking at the Temple of Music and that he was staying at the King Edward Hotel while he visited the Pan-American Exposition.
Harry jumped to his feet and grabbed his top coat. "Can I have this?" he asked shaking the newspaper as he flung open the door to Walt's cabin.
"Certainly," Walt replied calmly. "What's wrong?"
"No time to explain," Harry said as he left the cabin. "I think I know who the target is!"
He saw Walt's confused expression, but didn't have much time to waste. "Thanks Walt. You may have just saved the President of the United States."
Fatigue forgotten, Harry ran back up the road to LaPier. He ran into the inn and slapped the newspaper down on the table in front of Doyle and Adelaide. "They aren't in England," he said and collapsed in a chair.
Doyle picked up the newspaper and quickly scanned the story, the handed the paper to Adelaide.
"The target isn't the King," Adelaide said with a horrified look as she handed the paper back to Houdini. "It's the President of the United States."
Harry glanced at Doyle; when Arthur nodded in silent agreement, Harry said, "We need to be on the next train to Buffalo" He stood from the table and hurried upstairs. He grabbed his carpet bag, stuffed it with the few items laying around the room and headed back downstairs. Once Adelaide and Doyle joined him, they headed for the door in search of a wagon or cart they could commandeer to get them to Cicely.
"How are we supposed to do that?" Houdini heard Adelaide ask, but he'd already disappeared inside. He unfolded the copy of the newspaper with the Pan-American story and scanned the page again looking for someone he could contact and warn them about the threat. Finally he spotted the name of the Secret Service agent in charge at the hotel and grabbed a telegraph form. The message was short and to the point:
He handed over the form to the young man behind the counter and watched his eyes bulge slightly as he read the message.
Known threat to President. Do not leave hotel room. Will explain on arrival.
"You sure about this, Mister … Houdini?" the boy asked as he sat at his machine.
"Very sure. Tell whoever is on the other end of that thing to deliver the message immediately." Harry tossed some coins on the counter and headed back toward the train platform.
Harry came around the corner and saw Doyle arguing with the railway official, Adelaide stood nearby next to their meager luggage.
"Come on, Doc," Harry called as he walked past, picking up his carpet bag along the way. "We wouldn't want to hold things up." Harry pulled open the door to their car and helped Adelaide with her case.
"What were you doing?" Doyle asked as the train started moving.
"I sent a telegram to the Secret Service agent at the King Edward Hotel," Harry explained as he stared out the window. "It's four hours to Buffalo; I just hope he takes me seriously."
"What are we going to do once we get there?" Adelaide asked. "We don't have any proof something is going to happen. Just supposition."
"Leave it to me," Harry said. "I can be very persuasive. Who knows, maybe President McKinley is a fan."
They met Agent Branowski in the lobby and Harry was relieved to hear the agent had received the telegram and the President was still in his room. As Houdini followed Branowski back to the President's suite to explain his cryptic telegram, he glanced behind to see Doyle and Adelaide had separated and started to search the hotel for anyone who could be part of the anarchist group.
Branowski directed Harry to the elevator and spent the brief ride up to the President's floor telling Houdini the President had a tight schedule and deviations from the set timetable would create other problems. Harry only nodded along and focused on what he had to do.
Harry hammered on the door to McKinley's suite and brushed past the man who opened the door. "Mr. President, I'm Harry Houdini. I'm here to save your life," Harry announced to the room and looked around.
President McKinley turned from the small group of men around a table and Harry realised he'd interrupted some sort of conference.
"What is the meaning of this, Agent Branowski? I have an appearance to make in twenty minutes."
Harry moved toward the huddle of people around the President and said, "I don't suppose I could convince you to skip it?" Branowski cleared his throat loudly behind him. "I'm serious, sir. It's not safe for you to be here."
Branowski took Houdini's arm and tried to pull the magician away. Harry jerked free and continued. "There is a group, a Polish group, that has been working it's way through Europe the past few years. There have been seven different attacks my friends and I have discovered and at each one of them, a government official was assassinated." Harry glanced around the room. "They are here, and we think they want to kill you."
President McKinley leant back in his chair. "I'm not sure what to make of this, Mr. Houdini. Why would this group want to murder me? As far as I know, no one would wish to hurt me."
Harry sighed and ran a hand over his face. "I don't know the motive, sir. What I do know is this is a serious threat and we need to get you out of here. The expo runs for another two months, plenty of time for you to reschedule a speech."
"Agent Branowski, do you have an opinion?" McKinley asked.
"There is a constable with Scotland Yard downstairs who confirms the story, Mr. President. It may be wise for you to leave the building and give us a chance to search it properly. We have another hotel nearby where you can stay while we look into this further."
Harry watched as McKinley considered the information. After a moment, the President stood and faced the group around him. "I apologise, gentlemen, but it seems there will be a slight delay in my speech."
Harry let out the breath he'd been holding as Agent Branowski nodded and started organizing a group to escort the President to the standby hotel down the street.
Harry took Branowski aside as the group was ready to leave and said, "If it's all the same to you, I meant what I said about helping. I'm coming with you at least as far as the hotel exit. I'll feel a lot better once the President is out of here."
Branowski and his agents herded the President away from the lobby and Harry ran for the mezzanine, his heart pounded with a combination of adrenaline and fear. Don't be dead. Please, don't be dead, ran through his head with each step as he pelted up the stairs and around the corner. He found Benjamin writhing on the floor a few paces away from Doyle who was slumped, half-seated, against the railing for the mezzanine.
"Doc? Doc!" Harry exclaimed as he landed on his knees at Arthur's side and tried to look at the wound.
"I'm all right," Doyle ground out but Harry didn't hear him as he glanced first at Adelaide on Arthur's other side and then at Benjamin Graves, still moaning softly on the floor. Adelaide turned to the dying assassin and a corner of Harry's mind realised she'd shot her husband to save the President and Arthur. Where did she get a gun, his mind flittered, but he quickly dismissed the mystery and focused on Arthur.
Harry had dealt with any number of injuries over the years, most of them his own. He wasn't squeamish at the sight of blood, but then it had usually been his own, not that of a close friend. He moved Doyle's hand and pressed his handkerchief to the wound, but the cloth and his hands were soon covered in blood. He pressed harder at the wound and Arthur weakly pulled at Harry's hands and started to close his eyes.
Harry didn't know what to do, he jostled Arthur's shoulder to keep him awake and yelled at the two police officers that finally appeared at the top of the stairs. Houdini saw Doyle watching him and jostled Arthur's shoulder again. "Stay with me, Doc. I can't lose you, too."
Harry saw Doyle glance up at him again and he, Arthur, tried to smile but his eyes started to roll back in his head. "Doc?" Harry said near panic. "Doc!" Doyle's eyes closed again and this time Harry couldn't shake him awake.
"Do something!" he yelled at the police officer who knelt beside them.
"Keep the pressure on the wound," the officer said. "We need to get him lying flat."
The officer shifted Doyle until he was lying prone with Harry's suit coat under his head. Adelaide knelt at Harry's side again and tried to help as well.
Harry glanced over at her and saw the tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry about … ," He nodded at Benjamin lying a few steps away with a police officer guarding the body.
Adelaide nodded but didn't say anything.
Another flurry of pounding footsteps heralded the arrival of an ambulance team and Harry was forced away from Arthur as the medical men moved in. In a matter of moments, they assessed Doyle and the still sluggishly bleeding wound before hurriedly strapping him to a gurney and rushing back to the stairs. Harry followed as quickly as he could, but the ambulance attendants were ready to leave by the time Harry made it out the door.
Harry grabbed the driver, leaving a bloody mark on the man's shirt, and asked, "Where are you taking him?"
The driver gave the name of the hospital and Harry let the man go and he watched the ambulance disappear into the night. He knew he needed to follow them but he couldn't get his mind wrapped around what to do about it.
He startled when a hand landed on his arm and he swung around to face Branowski standing behind him. "I have a car," he said and pointed to a vehicle waiting at the curb. "I'll take you and Constable Stratton to the hospital."
Harry nodded and looked around for Adelaide. He saw another police officer escorting her to the same car Branowski pointed out and followed the Secret Service agent. Branowski cranked the car to a start and climbed behind the wheel. He handed Harry his handkerchief as he maneuvered the car out to the road and said, "For your hands."
Harry glanced down at his bloody hands and absently wiped at his fingers. There was more blood spread across his waistcoat and the sleeves of his shirt and he suddenly realised his suit coat was probably still on the floor inside the hotel.
Even though the drive to the hospital was short, by the time they arrived, Doyle was already in surgery to remove the bullet from his abdomen. Harry kept one hand wrapped in Adelaide's as he pushed his way to the nurse talking to Branowski.
"Where can we wait for him?" Harry asked impatiently cutting across their conversation.
"Are you family?" the nurse asked, glancing up and down at Harry and then Adelaide.
"Yes," Harry replied succinctly.
The nurse made a face and Harry was certain she would call him on the lie, but instead she led them to a corridor behind her desk. "You can wait for the surgeon in the room at the end of the hall."
"Thank you," Harry said and pulled Adelaide along behind him. Branowski followed them, but Harry ignored him.
The room they entered was small with a few chairs and a low table in the middle of the space. There was a set of double doors opposite the door they'd entered from the hallway and a row of windows along the wall to their left. The right wall was solid and plain.
Harry sat Adelaide in one of the chairs and proceeded to pace the room. He didn't know what was happening behind the double doors on the other side of the room and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. He was shot in the stomach, Harry thought feeling helpless. People don't survive getting shot in the gut. He suddenly felt dizzy and fell into the chair next to Adelaide and covered his face with his hands.
"Harry?" he heard Adelaide say to him. "Are you all right?"
Harry couldn't help the sarcastic bark of laughter that escaped him. "No," he said and glanced at the double doors. "I'm really not."
Harry took a deep breath and faced her. "I'm sorry," he said a moment later. "In all of this I forgot you've had a miserable night of it as well." He reached out for her hand again. "I'm sorry about Benjamin," he told her again. "And what you had to do."
In the corner Branowski perked up and stared at them intently.
Adelaide squeezed Harry's hand and he saw tears in her eyes again. "You were right all along," she said and gazed out the windows at the night. "He never was a spy trying to save people, he was a murderer. He didn't give me a choice, he would have killed the President and probably Doyle, too."
"Yeah, probably," Harry said in a low voice. "But that doesn't make what you did any easier. You loved him."
Adelaide sighed a let go of Harry's hand. "I loved … something," she said. "I loved the memory of him."
Branowski stood in the corner of the room and said nothing. Harry noticed he made a few notes in a small pocketbook, and knew there would be questions from the Secret Service agent sooner or later. He was just as happy with later and stood to pace the small room again.
It was four hours later before Harry saw the double doors swing open. Branowski had left after the first hour or so; he told Houdini he needed to check in with the President and let him know what had happened.
Adelaide had fallen asleep lying across a couple of the chairs, but Harry couldn't sit still. He paced the room or stood watching the sunrise out the windows. When the doors swung open to allow a large, balding man in the room, Harry nudged Adelaide awake and moved to stand in front of the surgeon. Adelaide stood beside him and Harry felt her take his hand as the surgeon motioned them over to the chairs.
"I understand you are here with Mr. Doyle?" the surgeon questioned as he glanced from Harry to Adelaide. "My name is Park."
"Doctor Doyle," Harry corrected. "How is he?" he asked and braced himself to hear the worst.
"He's very lucky," Park replied. "He lost a great deal of blood, but the bullet only nicked a kidney before it buried itself in the muscle of his back. We removed the bullet, sewed up the organ and closed the wound in his belly without complications."
Harry let out the breath he was holding and dared to hope. "So he's going to be all right?" he asked and studied the doctor, he didn't need platitudes, he wanted the truth.
Park smiled and stood up, "The biggest fear with these types of wounds is infection. We've packed the wound according to Lister's method of using carbolic acid. He's going to be in a fair bit of pain for awhile, but if we can prevent any infection he should recover fully."
"Where is he and when can we see him?" Harry asked impatiently. He needed to see for himself Doyle was still among the living and he wanted to make sure the other man knew to stay that way.
"He is still recovering from the surgery and not awake yet," Park said and Harry saw the doctor look him over. "I suggest you both find a hotel and get some rest. You can see him in a few hours."
Houdini was about to protest when Adelaide said, "Thank you, Doctor Park. We'll be back in a few hours. Can you make sure the nursing staff is aware we have your permission to stay with him?"
Park smiled at Adelaide and nodded. "I think that can be arranged. Someone told me the three of you saved President McKinley last night; I think some exceptions can be made regarding visitors."
Park and Harry shook hands and the doctor left back through the double doors.
"Come on, Harry. I think we need to do as he says," Adelaide said and glanced down at Harry's bloodied clothes.
They wandered back up the hall and toward the entrance to the hospital. Just as Harry reached for the outside door, it was opened by a police officer.
"Mr. Houdini? Constable Stratton?" the officer asked as they exited the hospital.
"Yes," Harry answered warily.
The officer touched his cap and said, "My name is Simmons. Agent Branowski sent me. I'm to escort you both back to the King Edward Hotel." Simmons looked at Houdini's bloody shirt and Harry was painfully aware of his appearance. "If you'll follow me." The officer turned and headed toward the curb and a waiting police wagon.
Branowski was waiting for them in the lobby of the King Edward Hotel when Simmons dropped them off. "Mr. Houdini, Constable Stratton," Branowski greeted them. "President McKinley wanted me to extend his sincere gratitude for what you both did last night --"
"He should say this to Doyle, he's the one that got shot," Harry muttered to Adelaide. "I wasn't kidding about giving him a medal."
"How is Doctor Doyle," Branowski asked as he led them to the elevator.
"He should make a full recovery," Adelaide replied. "The surgeon, Dr. Park, says he was very lucky."
Brnaowski nodded and followed them into the elevator and told the attendant a floor number.
Harry and Adelaide traded a questioning look. "Umm, we aren't staying here, Branowski," Harry said as the elevator stopped and the attendant opened the doors. "We aren't actually staying anywhere," he muttered to Adelaide. "We forgot that part of the plan."
"The day manager found your baggage this morning, still waiting at the call desk. One of my men overheard him asking what to do with the bags and I took the liberty of requesting rooms for you," Branowski explained as he opened the door to a suite.
"So what happened with the President's speech," Harry asked as Adelaide wandered around the spacious sitting room.
"It was rescheduled for today," Branowski replied. "Then there is a short reception tomorrow at the Temple of Music on the Expo grounds. We return to Washington tomorrow evening."
Branowski handed Harry the keys for the suite and turned to leave. "There are some questions I need to ask you about this incident," Branowski said as he stood at the door.
"I'm sure there are, are we'll be happy to answer them for you," Harry glanced at Adelaide as she collapsed on the sofa. "Later."
The Secret Service agent followed Houdini's glance and nodded. Harry closed the door firmly behind the agent.
Harry picked up Adelaide's travel case and satchel looked through the doors leading off the sitting room. One of the bedrooms had two beds the other a single. He placed her case in the room on the right side with the single bed and went back to the sitting room and helped Adelaide to her feet.
"You need to rest," he told her.
"We both do," she reminded him, and glanced at Houdini's clothes. "And a bath."
Harry looked down at himself and saw the dried blood smeared across his clothes. "And a new suit," he added with a wry smile.
After an hour he gave up on the bed and wandered around the suite. He read the newspaper account of the attempted assassination; it was an early report and their names weren't mentioned, instead the report called them unnamed sources. He knew the press would find out the truth sooner or later and decided he'd deal with that fallout when he had to. He pushed the newspaper aside and stared around the room.
"I can't wait any longer," he said aloud to the empty room.
He tapped at Adelaide's door and when he got no response, cracked the door open enough to see she was soundly asleep. He left a note for her in the sitting room telling her he'd gone back to the hospital then left.
He marched through the hospital until he met the same nurse from the night before and asked her where Doyle was. She checked her files and directed Harry down a different corridor from the small waiting room, and up the stairs to the wards. Harry opened the door to the private room and found Doyle asleep in the bed. A tube ran from Arthur's arm to a bag hanging next to the bed. Doyle looked pale and his face was pinched in pain, but Harry was just happy to see Arthur was breathing and alive.
The room had a desk in one corner under a window. The table by the bed held a lamp as well as pitcher and glass, but nothing else. Harry pulled the desk chair out and carried it over to the bed. He sat beside the bed and watched Doyle sleep for a moment before saying, "You have to stop doing this to me, Doc. I can't handle any more of you and hospitals."
Doyle, of course, said nothing.
Harry leant back in the chair, and propped his feet on the edge of Doyle's bed. He fought off sleep as best he could, but found himself nodding off several times only to jerk awake from an unfamiliar sound in the hospital or a nurse that entered to check the patient or change the bandaging around his middle. Each time the nurse came to check on Arthur, Harry shifted in the chair and watched intently for any sign Doyle was waking up, but he remained stubbornly insensate.
Several hours later, Adelaide joined him; she looked better for the sleep she'd managed and Harry found another chair for her. They waited together for Arthur to regain consciousness.
Doyle woke slowly. He opened his eyes on an unfamiliar room and his mind was a blank as to why he was there. The light was dim and he couldn't see much beyond the circle of lamplight by the bed. He looked down at himself and noted the IV line as well as the institutional bedcovering. As he glanced back up around the right side of the room he decided it was a hospital, but he still couldn't piece together what happened. Until the pain made itself known.
He gasped and looked back down at his side. He carefully felt the padding and the bandaging wrapped around his middle and memory slammed back into place. Benjamin, the President, getting shot. He remembered Harry frantically pushing his, Arthur's, hands away to see the wound and Houdini yelling for someone to help him.
Doyle glanced to his left and wasn't very surprised to see Houdini slumped in a chair at the end of the bed, feet up on the mattress and his suit coat used as a makeshift blanket. Haven't we been here before, Arthur thought as he watched Harry sleep. Unlike a few months ago after the ergot poisoning, Doyle could tell Houdini was not sleeping sound, instead Harry was restless and mumbling denials softly. Doyle wondered if he was reliving the assassination attempt or if it was something else.
"Houdini," Doyle said aloud and was surprised at how weak his voice sounded.
Weak or not it was enough as Harry woke with a start and nearly fell out of the chair. He glanced around for a moment, and when he saw Doyle was awake a broad smile lit up his otherwise haggard face.
"Hey, you're awake," Harry said in a whisper and scooted the chair closer to the head of the bed. "Adelaide will be mad she missed this." Houdini reached for the pitcher and poured a glass of water and handed it to Doyle
Doyle looked around as he sipped at the water and realised the other member of their trio was nowhere in sight.
"She needed to sleep in a real bed after every that happened," Harry explained. "She'll be back in a few hours."
Doyle tried to give Harry a disapproving look but he was too tired. "You should be in a real bed, too," he mumbled as he handed back the glass and closed his eyes.
He heard Harry shift in the chair. "It wouldn't matter, I'm not sleeping that much anyway."
Before he drifted off again, Doyle felt the bed covers rearranged around him and then a weight at the foot of the bed. In his mind's eye, he saw Houdini with his feet up on the end of the bed and the suit coat wrapped around his front.
"Hello, you," Adelaide said and smiled as she put down the book and squeezed his hand. "I'm so glad to see you awake."
He smiled at her and Arthur noticed she looked rested and she was wearing a different dress than he remembered from the hotel. Harry, looked terrible. He had dark circles under his eyes, from lack of sleep, and was still wearing the trousers and waistcoat he recalled from his brief moment of wakefulness before. How long have I been here, he wondered.
"Two days," Harry answered and walked over to the side of the bed to stand behind Adelaide.
Doyle looked at him quizzically. "When did you become a mind reader?" Arthur asked and tried to sit up further in the bed. The pain hit him the same time Harry's hands landed on his shoulders. "You really don't want to do that, Doc," he said and eased Doyle back down in the bed.
Arthur silently agreed and waited for the pain to ebb.
"The doctor says you're going to be fine," Adelaide said as Doyle carefully felt around the bandage on his side.
Harry had moved back to the window and Doyle studied the other man. He's angry about something, Doyle realised. "Something's happened," he said and Harry's posture changed again, this time to something resembling defeat.
Adelaide turned toward Harry, but Houdini refused to elaborate. "Agent Branowski sent a telegram a little while ago," Adelaide started to explain. "There was another attempt on the President's life," she finished in a whisper.
"Someone named Leon Czolgosz shot him," Harry said angrily as he stalked back to the bed and sat in the other chair. "All of what we did, all of this," Harry waved an arm at Doyle. "Was for nothing. You almost died and they still won."
Adelaide laid a hand on Harry's arm. Doyle was glad to see he accepted the offer of comfort and didn't shake off her hand.
"Is he … ," Doyle started to ask.
"No," Adelaide replied. "He was shot in the stomach, however he was still alive last we heard."
Doyle ran a hand over his own wound once again and sighed. "Medicine can do amazing things. I survived, he could very well live through this as well."
"Maybe," Harry mumbled.
The conversation was interrupted as a doctor and nurse entered the room.
"Ahh, Doctor Doyle, you're awake I see," the doctor said as he came to stand near the bed. "My name is Doctor Lawrence Barton. Doctor Park, who performed your surgery, was called away to Niagara Falls for an emergency."
Harry stood and he and Adelaide moved over toward the window. The doctor glanced at them, then at the nurse as she shook her head.
"We aren't leaving," Harry said from the window. "Just do what you need to do and ignore us."
"It's all right," Doyle confirmed and the doctor set about examining Arthur.
He hmm'ed and ahh'ed and dictated notes to the nurse as he removed the bandages. "No signs of infection," the doctor said and Doyle heaved a sigh of relief. He'd seen enough wounds during the Boer War to know gangrene and infection killed far more often than the lead bullets.
"When can he leave," Harry asked and Adelaide shushed him.
The doctor smiled at Doyle. "If you continue to heal this well, I don't see why you can't be released in a week or so."
"Good, I'll see what ships are sailing then," Harry said decisively from the window.
"Oh, no," the doctor held up his hands. "He can be released from the hospital. But long distance travel is still out of the question." He turned to Doyle. "There was muscle and organ damage we had to repair. You need time to heal and regain your strength."
Doyle nodded. "I understand. Don't worry I'll follow doctor's orders." The doctor gave instructions for the nurse to re-bandage the wound and left.
Once the nurse finished and was gone as well, Doyle turned to Harry and said, "You need to follow doctor's orders, too."
Harry grunted but said nothing as he sat back down by the bed.
Doyle smiled. "Then follow a friend's advice," he said gently. "You need to sleep, Harry, in an actual bed not that chair."
Harry shook his head and refused to look at Doyle.
"Hey," Doyle said and grasped Harry's arm. "You heard the doctor. I'm going to be fine. Whatever else is bothering you, we will deal with it. All right?"
"Come on, Harry," Adelaide said from behind Houdini. "Let's let Doctor Doyle get some rest. We'll come back in the morning." She glanced at Arthur and Doyle nodded.
Houdini sighed and looked at Doyle. "You're sure you're all right?"
"Now who's hovering?" Doyle asked and was glad to see Harry smile at the reminder.
"Fine. We'll go," Harry said and stood up. "No promises on the sleep though."
He's spent the morning thinking about a lot of things, mostly about Touie and the children, but also the new additions to his life in the form of Harry and Adelaide. As he thought about their cases and their unexpected close friendship, several different things clicked in his imagination and he asked a nurse for some paper and a pen.
There were the stories of the Cù Sìth mixed in with the yeth dog. He remembered his feelings about the Devonshire moor and the isolation of the area. The glowing paint and other effects Vladimir Palinov used in his portrayal of Spring Heel'd Jack swirled around in his mind and he had the beginnings of a ghost story with a spectral dog on the moor.
"Holmes needs a mystery," Doyle muttered to himself.
He thought again about the vision, hallucination? of Holmes after he was shot and remembered the patient at Bethlem Royal who also fancied himself as Sherlock Holmes. There could be an interesting twist with an escaped mental patient, he thought and jotted down a few more notes.
Harry came through the door and Doyle quickly closed the book. He wasn't sure why he hid what he was doing, and told himself he didn't want Harry pestering him about the story.
Houdini didn't seem to notice as he sat in the chair by the bed. "You're sitting up," Harry stated the obvious.
That's not like him, Doyle noted. What's happened now? Doyle nodded and smiled "Nothing gets by you does it? Doctor Barton is satisfied with how I'm healing."
"Any chance he will let you out of here early?" Harry asked glancing around the room as if the doctor would pop out of a corner with Doyle's discharge papers.
"Not for another few days, the stitches still need time to take," Doyle answered with a frown. Something is bothering him, he realised. Did the President …
"Have you heard anything from Agent Barnowski about the President?" Doyle asked.
Harry snorted and stood to pace the room. "Oh, yeah, we've heard plenty," he said cryptically.
Doyle gave him a quizzical look and Harry sighed. "According to the papers, the President seems on the mend," he said and Doyle relaxed. "Branowski, however is at the hotel daily wanting to question me and Adelaide about Benjamin, the anarchists, and anything else he can think of."
"He hasn't been to see me, yet," Doyle said.
"That's because I told him he could deal with me if he had something to ask," Harry said heatedly.
"It's his job --" Doyle started to say.
"He thinks Adelaide was somehow a part of this," Harry retorted. "He can't believe she thought Benjamin was dead all this time and instead he thinks she just had a last minute change of heart." Harry paced the corner of the room and clenched his fists.
Doyle watched from the bed, but wasn't sure what he could do.
"Harry sit down and tell me what's happened," Doyle said and gestured at the chair near the bed.
Harry shook his head, but came back to the bed and sat down. "Yesterday, after we left you, Branowski was waiting at the hotel. I didn't think anything of it and left Adelaide with him to go take care of a few things." Harry sighed. "When I got back, Branowski was accusing Addy of being part of the plot and the two of us were somehow helping her."
"What did she tell him?"
"I didn't have a chance to say anything before Harry swooped down on him," Adelaide said as she came in the room. Harry offered her his chair, and she sat at the bed and squeezed Doyle's hand. "I'm glad you're feeling better," she told him with a smile.
Doyle smiled at her then cocked a questioning eyebrow as he glanced from one to the other.
"I may have said a few things to Branowski about leaving you and Addy alone, and he could talk to me if he had anything else to ask us," Harry admitted from where he stood at the end of the bed. "I told him everything we knew about the group and the code we discovered. I think he understands now we really did figure the plot out and were only trying to help."
"I showed him the newspaper with the Walbridge advertisement and luckily Benjamin had the Tom Sawyer book in his coat pocket, so the Secret Service could confirm what we told them," Adelaide added.
"I told him to give that back to you, by the way," Harry said. "Like you said, it's the last thing of Benjamin's you have."
They were interrupted by a nurse bringing a lunch tray for Doyle. Harry glanced at the bland food on the tray and made a face. Doyle had to admit he agreed with the sentiment as he toyed with the thin oatmeal in the bowl.
Harry helped Adelaide to her feet as they prepared to leave Doyle to his meal.
"I'll try to sneak in some real food for your dinner," Harry said with a cheeky grin as he followed Adelaide out the door.
Harry stood at Doyle's left side as they entered the suite at the King Edward Hotel ready to help if the cane in Arthur's right hand wasn't enough support. "Our room is through there," he said and pointed to the left. "Adelaide has the room on the other side."
"Our room?" Doyle asked as Harry started them moving in the direction of the bedroom.
"Yeah. The doctor said you would need help still, so sharing a room is just easier."
Doyle hobbled into the room and saw two beds and a door off to the right, presumably a bathroom. He sat on one of the beds and was surprised how tired he felt after the short walk through the hotel and up to the suite. He heard a knock at the outside door and glanced out into the sitting room.
Adelaide tapped at the open bedroom door a moment later and walked in. "Agent Branowski is here," she said. "He wants to talk to us. He says it's important."
Harry turned to the door and Doyle caught a glimpse of irritation on Houdini's face. "Tell him I'll be there in a minute," Harry requested in a neutral voice and turned back to Doyle.
"No," Doyle said slowing standing again. "I want to hear what he has to say as well."
Harry started to protest, but Arthur ignored it and started for the sitting room at a slow shuffle.
Branowski was standing by the windows when the trio entered the sitting room and Doyle saw immediately that whatever he had to say wouldn't be good news. Arthur sat in the chair from the desk and Harry stood beside him, arms crossed stiffly across his chest. Adelaide took the nearby sofa as Branowski walked over to Doyle.
"Doctor Doyle," Branowski greeted and shook Doyle's hand. "I'm happy to see you are recovering from your wound."
Doyle thought he looked anything but happy, but accepted the sentiment graciously. "Thank you, Agent Branowski, I should be back to my old self in no time."
"Good. That's good," Branowski said absently and wandered around the room.
"What did you need to see us about," Harry prompted and the Secret Service agent sighed.
"You're going to read it in the papers in a few hours, but after everything that's happened, I thought you should hear the news in person." Branowski took a deep breath. "President McKinley died, a few hours ago."
Adelaide gasped and Doyle heard her whisper, "No." as she glanced over at Branowski.
Arthur bowed his head for a moment but Harry moved away from all of them and paced the space by the bedroom door.
"What happened?" Harry finally asked. "I thought he was recovering."
"Infection," the agent replied. "He was doing all right for a day or so then …"
"It's not that uncommon," Doyle said quietly.
Branowski nodded and turned to the door. "I wanted you to hear it from me," he said, then stopped in front of Adelaide, Harry took a few steps closer to her and stood with his hands held loosely at his sides. "Constable, I owe you an apology. I checked into your story and I realised I was out-of-line accusing you," he glanced over at Harry and took something from his coat pocket. "Accusing any of you of playing any role other than that of stepping in to help." He handed her Benjamin's copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Adelaide took the book and nodded her acknowledgment. Harry took a step back.
Branowski picked up his hat from the table near the door. "Thank you again," he said and opened the door. "Scotland Yard is lucky to have the three of you." He left the room and closed the door.
Harry slumped to the sofa, sat next to Adelaide, and stared across the room at nothing. "I want to go home," Doyle heard him mumble.
Doyle and Adelaide traded a worried look and Adelaide asked, "You want to go to New York City?"
Harry glanced at her then over at Doyle. "No." He shook his head. "I want to go back to London. Get away from here and everything that's happened."
"I would agree with that," Doyle said. "I miss the children."
Harry smiled crookedly. "Oh yes, how are we going to explain this to them?" Harry asked, waving a hand in Doyle's direction. "You come to America with me and get shot. They'll never speak to me again."
"Somehow I doubt that," Doyle replied with a smile. He started to stand and Harry jumped up to help. "I think my children have grown rather fond of you. Though if the words 'Uncle Houdini' pass either of their lips I may reconsider how often you are at my house."
Harry booked passage on the S.S. Teutonic for the return trip to London. He made sure he booked one of the new first class suites with adjoining bedrooms. Doyle was doing remarkably well, but still needed help with the bandages and getting dressed. He also knew Adelaide would spend at least the first few days prostrated in bed with seasickness so it would just be easier for everyone if the three of them were together.
They arrived in New York City a few days before the sailing and booked into the same hotel Harry used a few weeks previous as it was close to the port.
Harry stood at the window late the next morning, a glass of brown liquid in his hand; a half empty bottle and a telegram sat on the table behind him. He drank from the glass and looked out at the bustle in the street below.
He heard the tap-step, tap-step as Doyle limped into the room and Harry glanced over at him and noted Arthur moved almost normally as long as he used the cane.
"What are you drinking," Doyle asked curiously as he came around the table and stood next to Houdini. The brown liquid in the glass fizzed slightly as he took another drink.
"A kid downstairs was selling it," Harry said and showed Arthur the bottle. He watched as Doyle read the company's name in the flowing script on the bottle.
"What is it?"
Harry shrugged. "Not sure, kid called it soda water. It tastes OK, though. Here." Harry handed him the glass and Doyle took a cautionary sniff at the contents then a sip and made a face.
"I think I'll stick with scotch," Doyle said and handed the glass back.
"Suit yourself. Maybe I'll find the kid and take some back to London with us."
They watched the people far below in silence for a few minutes.
"Are you going to visit your mother before we leave?" Doyle asked quietly and looked at Houdini.
Harry sighed. "Yes." Harry nodded to the telegram on the table behind them. "Theo sent that to tell me the stone unveiling is this afternoon. Good timing for me, right?" Harry tried to smile and stared back out at the street.
He felt Arthur rest a hand on his shoulder. "Maybe it is," he said. "Will you be all right?"
Houdini huffed out a small laugh. "I promise not to start any fights with my brother this time."
"That's not what I meant."
Harry glanced over at Doyle and said, "I know. And thanks, but I'll be fine."
Doyle clapped his hand on Harry's shoulder once then moved over to a chair and sat down.
"Where's Adelaide?" he asked and picked up the newspaper Harry had left on the side table, President McKinley's funeral was front page news.
"She said something about needing a dress for the trip home," Harry said as he walked back into the bedroom for his suit coat.
He came back out a few minutes later in a black suit coat and grabbed his top coat from the stand by the door. "I should be back later this evening," he said.
Doyle glanced up from the paper. "Do what you need to do, we'll be here."
Harry nodded his thanks and left.
When Houdini had left a month ago, Theo was angry and hurt Harry refused to stay and play his part in the rituals Theo thought were important. This was another of those rituals today, but Harry hoped if he went through with the formalities his mother would stop haunting his dreams.
Houdini took a deep breath and started to walk down the hill. He saw several heads turn to watch his progress and Theo left the huddle of people near the shrouded stone and met Harry half-way.
"Ehrich," Theo said noncommittally as Harry stopped beside him. "I see you got my telegram."
"Theo." Harry said and waited. He knew Theo would be justified in tossing him out on his ear after what happened at the funeral.
After a moment Theo held out his hand and Harry shook it. As they turned to walk down the hill together, Theo reached into his pocket and pulled out a small square of paper. "I think this is yours," he said and handed Harry the photograph of Cecilia he'd left at the grave a few weeks ago. "I found the picture, and the stones one morning when I went out to visit her."
Harry took the photo and put it in his pocket.
They said the prayers and Harry and Theo removed the shroud from the gravestone. Harry read the words engraved on the stone and nodded to himself with approval. He started to walk away and Theo caught up with him as he started back up the hill. He glanced around a few times and was relieved he didn't see the young woman or his mother watching him.
"I don't suppose you can stay," Theo said as they walked back along the road to the house.
Harry shook his head. "We have passage booked for London," Harry said and looked back at the headstone in the distance.
Theo sighed. "Your family is here," he said quietly. "Why are you running away from us?"
Harry stopped walking and turned to face his brother. "I'm not running," he said heatedly and paused to reign in his temper. "I'm not running," he said again in a neutral tone. "I don't belong here, my life is over there." Harry waved vaguely to the east.
Theo ducked his head for a moment and turned away. As Harry walked away, Theo turned and said, "Goodbye … Harry," he said and held out his hand.
Houdini turned back. He saw Theo standing in the fading October light and shook the outstretched hand. "Goodbye, Theo."
He heard the tap-step as Doyle walked up to stand on one side of him while Adelaide stood on his other. He and Doyle shared a look and Harry suspected Doyle knew what he was thinking about. He turned to see how Adelaide was doing and noticed she already looked a bit pale and sweaty; and when a particularly rough wave hit the side of the ship and she grabbed his arm to keep her feet.
"I think we should go back to the suite," Doyle said as he looked at Adelaide.
"Agreed," Harry said. "Nothing left to see out here anyway." He gazed one last time and the lights in the far distance then held on to Adelaide and led the way back down to their first-class cabin.
"I'll be all right," Adelaide said at the door to her room. "I just need a few days."
"Uh huh," Harry replied and opened the door for her. "Go, before you throw up all over my shoes."
"It would only be fair," Adelaide said as she closed the door.
Harry smiled and called through the door, "See if I bring you any dinner later."
She didn't reply and Harry only heard a slight groan as he assumed she crawled into the bed.
Harry returned to the sitting room to see Doyle at the desk paging through a small book. He wandered over to the desk in time to see Doyle quickly close the book and stuff it in his suit coat pocket. "I saw that," he said as Arthur turned to face him. "Secrets, Doc?"
Doyle smiled. "No, not as such, just some notes."
Harry leant against the desk and crossed his arms. "Notes. So does this mean you've finally conquered the worst case of writer's block in history? So what's it about?"
Doyle draped one arm over the back of the chair so he faced Harry and replied, "I'm taking the advice of a friend and," he took a deep breath. "Writing a Holmes story."
Harry's face broke out in a genuine smile. "Excellent! No more Boer War."
Doyle grimaced. "Yes, well, it's not even started yet. There may not be any story."
Harry slapped lightly at Doyle's arm. "Nah, I trust you, Doc. It'll be great."
Two nights later, Doyle sat at the desk and gazed down at the blank sheet of paper and realised he was happy for the first time in a long time. He took the telegram out of his pocket and read it again.
Harry hadn't given up hope. Doyle wondered for a moment how Houdini had managed to get one of the best respiratory specialists in the country to agree with see Touie, and decided he didn't really care. Once again, Houdini worked his magic and Doyle was grateful. He glanced at the post-script and laughed lightly. Apparently Doctor Biggs wanted him to know how the meeting had been arranged in case Harry forgot to mention it on his own.
Have reviewed case for Mrs D. Will come to London in the new year for consult.
Dr. H Biggs
Doyle set the telegram aside, took up the pen and started to write with an ease he'd feared lost.
As he covered page after page with the beginning of the story, he heard Adelaide return to her room. He paused for a moment to reflect on another bit of good news. He was happy she had decided to stay at Scotland Yard and wondered what new adventures they would have together.
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before.
He had just finished a rough description of the Baskerville Curse when he heard the door slam open and Houdini staggered into the room. He was clearly afraid of something, and was only barely managing to hold himself together.
"Harry!" Doyle exclaimed as the other man sank onto the sofa.
Doyle limped over and found Harry curled on his side, bow tie undone, waistcoat half unbuttoned and he was pale and sweating. "Harry? Can you hear me?" Doyle asked as he painfully sat on the edge of the sofa next to Houdini and checked the other man's pulse and looked at his eyes.
"Doctor Doyle?" Adelaide asked coming out of her room. "What's the mat -- oh."
"Adelaide, pour some brandy," Doyle requested as he focused again on Houdini. "Harry? Talk to me. What happened?"
Harry squeezed his eyes shut and took another shuddering breath.
Adelaide handed him a glass with a finger of brandy in it and Doyle wrapped an arm around Harry to get him sat up. He pushed the tumbler against Harry's lips and tipped the glass slightly. He pulled the glass back when Houdini swallowed and started to choke, but kept one arm braced around Harry so he didn't fall over.
Harry slowly met Doyle's gaze and said in a whisper, "It wasn't a dream." He opened his hand and Doyle took a crumpled piece of paper from him. He opened it and saw it was Harry's dream test. "I'm really going insane."
Doyle put the paper aside and said, "You are not insane Harry, I promise you."
Harry just shook his head in denial. "I could read the paper. I saw her and I could read the paper."
It didn't take a genius to know who the 'her' was Harry referred to and Doyle sucked in a breath, his face creased with worry.
Adelaide started to ask a question and Doyle shook his head at her. He kept one hand on Harry's arm and mouthed 'Paper and pen'. She hurried to the desk and found a scrap of paper.
Doyle scribbled a note and said, "Find the steward. I don't care who he has to wake up, but I need this now."
Adelaide glanced at the note and nodded before she left the room.
Doyle turned back to Houdini and asked, "Harry, do you trust me?"
Harry looked at Doyle and nodded. "Of course."
"I think I know what's going on and how to fix it, but you won't like it."
"I'm going insane," Harry said again and his eyes drifted to the corner of the room; Doyle suspected he knew what it was Harry saw as the other man shuddered and looked away again.
Doyle pressed the back of his fingers to Harry's forehead and felt the beginnings of a fever. This needs to stop, Doyle thought and glanced at the door wondering where Adelaide was with the medicine he'd requested.
A few minutes later there was a tap at the door and Adelaide returned with a stoppered bottle and the steward. "I thought we would need some help moving him," Adelaide explained as the steward stepped around to the sofa.
"Good thinking," Doyle told her and slowly got to his feet. "We need to get him in bed, through here," Doyle directed to the steward.
The steward bent down to take Harry's arm, and jumped back when Houdini jerked away from him. "Harry, I need his help to get you in bed," Doyle said in a low voice.
Harry glowered at the steward and tried to stand. "I can walk." As soon as he was up, however, his legs started to buckle and the steward grabbed for him and half-carried Houdini into the room he and Doyle shared.
Arthur followed and once Harry was situated on the bed, he thanked the steward and dismissed him. Adelaide set the glass of brandy on the bedside table and helped him get Harry out of his tuxedo jacket and waistcoat. "I'll wait outside," she whispered to Doyle before she left.
Harry eyed the medicine bottle blearily as Doyle set it on the bedside table finished helping Harry get undressed and into the bed. "I don't want that, Doc," Harry said quietly.
Doyle sat on the bed beside Harry and said, "I told you I didn't think you'd like it." Doyle picked up the bottle and squeezed the rubber stopper before removing it from the bottle. "You are beyond exhausted, Harry. You've been existing on a couple of hours of sleep a night since you mother died. You need sleep. What you saw, or what you think you saw, is your brain playing tricks, that's all."
"But the paper," Harry argued.
Doyle carefully measured the dose of laudanum into the tumbler of brandy and handed the glass to Houdini. "How often do you look at that piece of paper?" Doyle asked.
Harry looked away. "A lot," he finally admitted.
"Exactly. You've looked at it so often you've memorized it. You can read it because your brain knows what it says. Didn't you read that part in the book?"
Houdini shook his head, but Doyle noticed he was distracted. Harry sat thinking for a moment then said, "You don't think it's a ghost. You always think it's a ghost."
Doyle's lips twitched in a tiny smile. "I may be willing to look at more options than you, but that doesn't mean everything has to be supernatural. I believe there's something else out there for us after we die, but what you're experiencing right now is sleep deprivation, which is very serious. If you don't get enough sleep, the brain can't cope, the result is hallucinations. If you still see your mother after you've been well-rested for a time, then I'll tell you you're seeing her ghost."
Harry glanced up at Arthur and Doyle was amazed to see the level of trust Houdini had in him.
"You still need to drink that," Doyle reminded him and nudged the glass.
"I'm afraid to sleep," Harry mumbled. "I always see … her. She wants something from me and I don't know what."
"It may be easier to solve it once you've had enough rest. We'll figure it out, we always do."
Harry studied Arthur's face for a long moment. Then downed the contents of the glass in a gulp and made a face.
Doyle took back the glass and watched as Harry's eyes slowly closed. As Houdini's breathing evened out, Doyle slowly levered himself to his feet, pulled the bed covers around him and left the room.
Adelaide was curled on the sofa waiting for him. Doyle pulled the door almost closed and limped over to the sofa and sat next to her.
"Will he be all right?" Adelaide asked after a few minutes silence and glanced back at the bedroom door.
Doyle nodded. "The laudanum will help him sleep and that's what he needs the most. Everything else we can take as it comes."
They sat in silence for a moment, then Doyle said, "Come on, we should be in bed as well."
Arthur re-entered the bedroom quietly and checked Houdini. He placed his hand on the magician's forehead and noted the fever seemed less. He was also pleased to see Houdini seemed to be sleeping peacefully, none of the twitching or muttering he'd observed over the past few weeks.
He put the laudanum bottle out of sight and told himself to give it back to the steward in the morning. Hopefully, after one good night's rest, Harry would be able to fall asleep without the drug. It was far too easy to become addicted to it, and while Doyle didn't think Harry would take it any longer than Arthur felt was necessary, he didn't want to risk it.
"How are you feeling," Doyle asked as he joined Harry on the sofa and looked the other man over.
"How long was I out?" Harry asked and glanced around the room.
"Almost twelve hours," Doyle replied and checked Harry's pulse. "How do you feel?" he asked again.
"Oh, umm, better actually," Harry admitted and rested his head on the back of the sofa while Doyle checked him over.
"Anything you want to talk about?"
Harry rolled his head toward Arthur. "You mean did I have any more visions of my mother."
Doyle waited patiently.
Harry huffed a breath and said, "No. No weird dreams and I'm not seeing … her now."
"Good," Arthur said and stood up. "Adelaide went for a walk on deck a little while ago and will probably be back soon. You might consider getting cleaned up and dressed. Then we'll round off your cure with a proper meal."
Harry smiled and wandered back to the bedroom. At the door he hesitated. "Is it that simple?" he asked.
Doyle sat at the desk and turned to face Houdini. "It's not simple at all. Everyone grieves differently, Harry. You have to let yourself. In the meantime, you need to take things easier and generally make sure you're taking care of yourself."
"You're sure I'm not going insane?"
Arthur smiled. "You're no more insane now than you were when I first met you."
"I think I was just insulted," Harry retorted with a smile at the door to the bedroom.
Doyle turned back to the desk but looked over when Harry said, "Arthur? Thank you."
Arthur nodded. "You're more than welcome, Harry."
The Private Journal of Adelaide Stratton
Entry 10 (con't)
We dock in Liverpool in just a few hours. So much has changed since we left England a little over a month ago. I joined Scotland Yard to find answers about Benjamin and I've done that. They may not be the answers I wanted to hear, but it is the truth and that's the important part. I've also decided to stay with the police force; I've found something I'm good at and I love what I do, how many people can say that?
I think Doctor Doyle has found his love of writing again as well. He's spent most of the trip home writing when he wasn't looking after Harry. The pages are carefully stacked together in my satchel so they don't get smudged or creased. I look forward to reading it once it's done. Doyle claims it's bad luck for anyone to read a book before it's finished, but I suspect Harry has had a peek or two when Arthur wasn't looking.
Harry is doing better after several nights of actual sleep. I don't think he's seen any more visions of his mother. He wouldn't necessarily tell me, but he would tell Doyle and the doctor has been too relaxed to make me think he's worrying about Harry. Harry plans to return to the theater and resume his shows, he has a contract he says that can't be broken. I'm just happy he's decided to stay in London. The three of us make a great team and I can't wait to see what's in store for us next.
The first few lines of The Hound of the Baskervilles written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.