Act 4. An Enigmatic Note

May the 19th, in the year of our Lord 1715

By early evening all the friends were back together at Greengables sharing their experiences of the day. Nightingale had already sent word into the village for a runner to deliver a message to Sir John Wootton the local JP, informing him of the murder at Curry Tracy. They were expecting a reply and no doubt later questioning all seemed to have the nagging feeling that all the events of late were somehow related and vowed not to rest until the mystery had been solved. The overriding concern was that of the similarity of both Stockley’s and the unknown woman’s murder; both had strangulation bruising around their necks. Dr Cardrew explained his previous experience with the bodies of execution victims at St Aldhelms showed similar evidence from the hangman’s rope. He did go on to say that he felt that the man who did the foul act would be extremely large and physically powerful to leave such marks.

Act 2. The Mystery Deepens

May the 17th, in the year of our Lord 1715

The companions were awake early, Jemmy had arose earlier than his friends and was already searching the area where the night visitor had collapsed. He was joined shortly by his colleagues who had already eaten a light breakfast. It had been a dry night but the foot prints were still visible as the grass was crushed and flattened from the nocturnal activity.

After some intense searching there was little to no evidence of the intruder. The grass was definitely flattened but there was no blood. A pistol ball at that range would have seriously wounded a man if not killed him outright. But no blood not even a splatter. Harry and his sixth sense for danger felt like they were being watched from the nearby tree line but did not tell the others. Thinking it was his suspicious nature playing tricks on him. The crushed vegetation continued toward the copse which suggested that the victim had been moved after his fall. The tracks were soon lost in the thick undergrowth of the forest floor.

Jemmy suggested that he and Silas followed the tracks into the forest to see if they could pick up the trail. The companions agreed and the others returned to the house to see if they could uncover any clues there. Harry took great offence at a comment from Nightingale that suggested his particular ‘skills’ would be useful in locating clues to an attempted housebreaking!

After several hours of fruitless searching by both parties they returned to the house to eat somewhat demoralised. However by now their combined adventurous natures had been peaked and all resolved to get to the bottom of the strange event.

Act I. An Unfortunate Accident

May the 15th, in the year of our Lord 1715

Silas, Jemmy and Harry had been visiting an old acquaintance in the coastal village of Moonfleet in Dorsetshire. After overcoming a band of vicious smugglers they had received a letter from their good friend Captain Nightingale. He had returned from France and would meet them at Greengables (Silas’ residence in Barrowbridge) with Dr Cardrew and had an interesting story to share with them. The three of them after concluding their business in Moonfleet left immediately. After an uneventful journey the weather had slowly deteriorated making travel very slow. They decided to take rooms in an inn overnight and make an early start. The Black Frock was a typical rural tavern in the village of Oath several miles from Barrowbridge. The hostelry was near the river Withy it was pretty rundown and the welcome was not exactly warm. The companions retired for the night but were hardly asleep for more than a couple of hours when they were awoken by furious knocking at the main door downstairs. Investigating the disturbance they discovered that one of the villagers had nearly drown in the river and was brought into the warmth of the inn to recover. Unconscious from his ordeal two of his neighbours had dragged him almost half a mile to the shelter of the alehouse. Silas with his limited knowledge of medicine tried the best he could to make the unlucky villager comfortable. However during his ministrations he discovered bruising around the mans neck that looked like he might have been throttled to within an inch of his life. The innkeeper would stay up with the man overnight and send for the doctor in the morning – the companions returned to their beds.

May the 16th, in the year of our Lord 1715

The innkeeper was still awake when they came down stairs in the morning. The half drowned local had not recovered consciousness during the night but help was on its way as Dr Phipps had been sent for. Silas again looked over the man before he and his companions left for Barrowbridge. He was comfortable but his breathing was laboured it was decided they could do nothing more for him. They insisted they wait until the physician got there before being on their way. Dr Phipps arrived after about an hour and attended the patient but his skills were insufficient and the villager passed away. The companions later discovered his name was John Stockley a local labourer. He would be buried in the churchyard in three days time and Dr Phipps invited Silas, Jemmy and Harry to the funeral as Stockley had no family to mourn him.

The three companions left for Barrowbridge and now the rain had finally stopped and the sun was trying desperately to warm the Spring morning. They made good time and arrived at Greengables to be met by Richard, George and the housekeeper. After explaining the reason for not arriving sooner and the unfortunate death of John Stockley they ate and spent most of the day catching up with what one another had been up too in the last few weeks. Eventually the tales returned to the ‘interesting story’ Nightingale had mentioned in his earlier correspondence.

The conversation continued into the night as Richard recalled an encounter with a French peasant whom alleged he was nearly 200 years old, his name D’Allard and he was manservant to a French marquis. The companions were interrupted by a clatter from outside of the parsonage grabbing candles to light their way they investigated. Richard and Silas searched one side of the house and the others took the opposite side. The captains trained eye was the first to spot a couple of figures running into the darkness. He shouted a warning but it was ignored, he pulled his pistol and carefully shot at the figure on the right. The familar crack of the flintlock and the black smoke that followed it was all that pierced the cool night air.

Renowned for his excellent accuracy the ball struck the prowler square between the shoulders sending him crashing to the earth. His partner unphased continued to run and disappeared into the covert to the east of the parsonage. The five friends finally caught up with each other and went to investigate where the intruder had fallen. To their dismay the injured rogue (or his corpse) was nowhere to be found. Neither was there evidence of him ever having been there in the first place. They retired for the evening vowing to continue the search at daybreak.

Introducing ...

First an introduction to the participants:

  • Silas Toogood, a parson. Silas was educated in London where he confessed he acquired a taste for good ale. A jovial and friendly man who admits likes to mix with company above his station. His first encounter with the darker side of the world was when a murder was committed in his new parish of Barrowbridge in the rural West Country. This is where he first met a “base and worldly fellow” named Jeremiah Snare now a long term and unlikely friend.
  • Jeremiah ‘Jemmy’ Snare, a thief taker and ex-soldier. Serving under Marlborough and earning a reputation for “foolhardy courage” during the sieges of Bruges and Ghent. He retired from the army when the Earl returned to England in 1711. Experiencing the state of crime in the kingdom first hand when he was attacked by a band of footpads. He took it upon himself to become one of the few honest thief takers and try and do some good.
  • Harry Scrapps, a vagabond and thief. Scrapps is a noble thief if such a thing exists he lives by a self proclaimed code of honour and only steals from those who deserve to be fleeced. His skills prove useful but his outlook and taste for “wealth redistribution” often causes friction amongst his companions (especially Snare and Toogood). He is looked upon as a necessary evil, his comrades know that deep down his heart is indeed in the right place.
  • Dr George Edward Cardrew, a physician and amateur philosopher. Educated at Oxford and the Middle Temple, elected to the Royal Society in 1711. He has a keen interest in investigating prehistoric sites especially Avebury and Stonehenge, and collaborated with many academics. His copious manuscripts record myths, magical events, apparitions, comets and dreams. He is an accomplished surgeon and was exposed to the brooding darkness during his forays as an anatomist at St Aldhelms Hospital in London.
  • Cpt Richard Nightingale, an adventurer and captain in his majesty’s Royal Navy. He gained a reputation for being a fair but strict commanding officer. Before he joined the Navy he was a privateer for Queen Mary preying on French and occasionally Spanish vessels. A brave, honourable and noble man who one day will inherit his fathers title and become 5th Viscount Blackley with extensive holdings in the West Country.

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.