Eric's game - Guffield Manor 2-3: The Hidden Lockbox
by, 8th December 2010 at 05:46 PM (254 Views)
“Yes, right in there is the muck,” I said, pointing to the door.
He made a face.
“Hello?” I said. “Anyone here!”
“Lady?” he said.
“There’s not supposed to be anyone else in the house at all,” I said.
“Yeah, I saw her,” he said. “Lady!”
I took a drag on my cigarette and blew the smoke into my hand. I moved away from the door but Taggart grabbed my sleeve. He shushed me.
“Quiet!” he whispered.
He listened for a moment.
“Are they chanting downstairs?” he finally asked quietly.
“What?” I whispered. “I don’t hear anything, Old Bean.”
“Then be quiet and listen,” he said.
I listened but heard nothing.
“I hear chanting, downstairs, on the first floor,” he finally said.
“Nothing!” I insisted. “I hear nothing.”
“If you got to put your head to the floor, do it!” he whispered.
I looked down at the dusty, dirty floor.
“What kind of friends do you have?” he asked.
“I don’t hear anything, Old Bean,” I said again.
But I felt nervous. The hairs had stood up on the back of my neck and a shiver went down my spine. It felt like someone, or something, was watching me.
I led him back to the first floor and found the others still in the foyer. Taggart had his hand to his ear.
“Are you hard of hearing now?” Dr. Dusseldorf said.
“What?” I said.
“Are you hard of hearing?” he asked again.
“No no, just had the strangest chill go down my spine,” I said to him.
“Did you see somezhing out of the ordinary?” he asked.
“No, not at all,” I said.
“What were y’all doin’ down here?” Taggart asked.
“Taggart said he heard chanting,” I said.
“Chanting?” Winifred asked.
“You all were speaking or something,” Taggart said.
“Singing a ditty perhaps?” I added.
“No, you are mistaken,” Dr. Dusseldorf said. “Ve vere discussing these documents in very normal tones of voice.”
I saw that both Jean-Pierre and Sally had returned. I looked in the strongbox and then asked who had taken the diary. Miss Bradshaw had it and I asked to see it when she was finished. Miss Cooper asked about the clippings that had been found the night before and I handed them over as Dr. Dusseldorf noted that there were interesting clippings within the box.
“I was right!” Miss Cooper said, looking at the clippings.
She pointed out that Agnes Guffield’s maiden name was Trounce.
“Trounce like … beat?” Taggart asked.
“Yes,” Sister Mary Bernadette said.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “She would have taken her husband’s name.”
“It seems that Agnes practiced black magic,” Sister Mary Bernadette said, studying some papers. “Including–”
“Well, this is England,” Taggart quipped.
“Indeed,” the nun replied.
“Yes yes, because Salem, Massachusetts was also in England, yes,” I muttered.
Sister Mary Bernadette noted that she seemed to have been working with a Mr. Renard.
“Ren-what!?!” Jean-Pierre said.
“Renard,” Sister Mary Bernadette repeated the name.
“I knew it!” he shouted.
“He’s apparently a Frenchman?” the nun went on.
“Fire!” he said loudly. “I said we had … aw, non. That’s the only way to kill.”
“You know, it is getting a little cold,” Taggart said.
When the Hellfire Club was brought up by the nurse, Dr. Dusseldorf said he’d found something interesting as well. He read from the papers.
“Notice, J.O. Whittaker, who was the messenger for Mr. Larkin,” he said. “Zhese two business cards, seemingly unrelated, with the exact same symbol on both of them.”
He showed me the business cards. One was of J.O. Whittaker and noted he was a “Purveyor of the rare, esoteric and mystical” who did “Searches billed on the day.” The bottom of the card was marked “London and Edinburgh” and it held a strange symbol like a star in a circle with several additional lines. Dr. Dusseldorf pointed out that, according to another note, Whittaker was an agent for Mr. Thomas Larkin of Boston, Massachusetts, who was interested in sending a document to Lady Agnes, but there was another party in France also interested in bidding on the document.
“Renard, right?” I said.
“Presumably,” he replied.
The other card was to the Hellfire Club which stated “Entrance to estate by membership only. Formal wear and token required.” It was addressed merely Arklow County, Wicklow, A.D. Prelbadge, proprietor. The same symbol was at the bottom.
There was some general discussion and I finally got the diary back and was able to read the last few entries. They read:
April 18, 1912
Agnes is gone on yet another trip. I’m gathering as much information as I can.
I feel weak today as my health has inexplicably left me in the last month. Agnes
had taken many of the servants she has hired to Germany.
April 19, 1912
I enlisted the help of Ted the cook to take out the lockbox from the study and
carry it to the garage. I’m quite fatigued, but I asked Ted to fetch Bert Simon
from Larchdale. I will have Bert weld a chain on the lockbox. It came waterproofed,
so things should be safe.
April 21, 1912
I feel very weak and I fear for my soul. Agnes has done this to me. I did
imagine seeing Alice outside playing. I could actually hear her. Bert and Ted
anchored the lockbox to Alice’s monument.
April 22, 1912
I’ve asked Ted to make sure this diary and a small box of clues about Agnes
goes into the lockbox. Ted was very distressed at this request, but he gave his
word he would do it. I also asked him to keep it a secret and that Lady Agnes
was never to know about the lockbox. Later on, a strange sight beheld my eyes.
As I was out inspecting Ted and Bert’s handiwork, Alice appeared to me. Oh
my overworked mind! She told me that Agnes was not of this time and had a
heart darker than pitch. I must have fainted for the next thing I knew was Ted
looking down at me. I told Ted to fetch the key and place it in my clothes closet.
April 23, 1912
But there was no entry for that last date.
Taggart was eager to get to work on the mess in the room and I told him it was in that room where the smell had come from.
Miss Cooper had another article that had been in the lockbox and I looked it over. It read:
LORD WILLIAM P. GUFFIELD
FOUND DEAD ON HIS ESTATE
April 23, 1912 ― Respected Lord, William Peterson Guffield was found
dead today, apparently drowned in the fountain in front of his manor
Police have taken into custody Theodore Crumb, a cook in the hire of
the Guffield family. Mr. Crum also reported Lord Guffield’s death to
Authorities are looking for the whereabouts of Lady Guffield, who
appears to be off on travels abroad.
He had died that very day he’d started to make the final entry into the diary.
“Who put these things in the lockbox after he died?” I asked.
“Ted and Bert,” Miss Cooper told me.
I nodded. We discussed it briefly and I mentioned that Taggart had seen a woman’s face in a window upstairs.
“Did you know James saw a face in the window upstairs today too?” Miss Bradshaw asked.
“I did not,” I said.
“A woman with glowing eyes,” she said.
“This is all very strange,” I said.
“Lord Bertie, a vord if I may,” Dr. Dusseldorf said, taking me aside. “Zhe symbol on zhese two business cards. It is not a common symbol of witchcraft. Of course, many occultists use the five pointed shtar. In fact, it is not necessarily a symbol of evil. Anyone with a predilection for an interest in folklore might draw a five pointed star and vorship Satan and not get anyzhing out of it. But someone using zhis symbol …”
“Yes?” I asked.
“… zhey know vhat zhey are doing,” he went on. “Somezhing dark, some practice of evil.”
He also pointed out to me that the telegram seemed to mean something. It had also been found in the lockbox and was postmarked 16 April, 1912, and read:
TO: LADY AGNES TROUNCE GUFFIELD
ARCADIAN FIELDS MANOR
DEAR LADY GUFFIELD,
YOU ARE INVITED TO ATTEND SERVICES AT MY PLACE IN MUNICH.
I WILL PROVIDE THE APPROPRIATE FACILITIES FOR YOU AND ANY
ATTENDANTS YOU WISH TO BRING. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SEE
THE BOOK YOU WROTE ME ABOUT. ALSO IN ATTENDANCE WILL
BE FREDERICK RENARD. EVN
“Zhese initials, zhey mean something,” he told me, pointing to the initials at the end of the telegram.
“Mean?” I asked.
“Vell, it could be entirely coincidence, but zhere vas a colonel in zhe German army, by zhe name of Erich von Nachtmann,” he said. “He vas travelling northvard–”
“Nachtmann?” Taggart said.
“He vas travelling northvard in France, north of Dugot vhen ve all met,” Dr. Dusseldorf went on.
“Erich Nachtmann, eh?” I said.
“Erich von Nachtmann,” he said.
“Never heard of him,” I said.
But I then remembered Jean-Pierre mentioning the name when we’d met the night before and pointed it out to Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf thought it could be coincidence. I remembered Jean-Pierre talking about the name Renard as well, something else that he seemed worried about. Jean-Pierre claimed to have known of the man.
The Bradshaws had some questions about Bert and I told them he was a fine fellow from Larchdale. I also managed to get hold of the last letter from the lockbox. It was addressed to Lady Agnes Guffield and dated August 9, 1907. It read:
Dear Lady Agnes,
I’m in possession of the document you have requested. I’ll have it
under lock and key and will wait until you retrieve it.
Please bear in mind that another party from France has expressed
interest in this document, so time is of the essence.
Thomas W. Larkin
P.S. This note comes way of my agent, Mr. J.O. Whittaker of London.