|Dr. Watson has taken to finding cases in the paper.|
Last time, we wrapped up Holmes’s first case of the game and now it’s time to start in on the second. This one begins like the first with Watson reading about an interesting case in the London Times. A “Society Burglar” has managed to rob seven different high-society households, each time taking only a single valuable piece of jewelry and leaving the rest untouched. There were no signs of a search; it was as if the burglar knew exactly where to look each time. The most recent burglary was a Cleopatra tiara at the home of Sir Sanford Leeds on July 2. Holmes seems interested, but then he and Watson are interrupted by another case.
A gentleman named Gerald Locke arrives at Baker Street and tells us about the murder of Guy Clarendon. That case seems straight-forward: three days ago, Guy was shot dead in his hotel room with a woman, Frances Nolan, found standing over his body with a gun in her hand. Despite the evidence against her, Gerald is certain that she did not do it and his request is for us to prove her innocent. This sounds pretty fun!
Are these two cases connected? Or is the “Society Burglar” just foreshadowing the third case in the game? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.
|Gerald Locke protests his lady’s innocence.|
Before the introduction is over, Gerald gives us more details about the case. He covers quite a lot of ground and already this case is more complex than our previous adventure:
- Both Gerald and Guy had been courting Frances; they were rivals to her affection. It is because Gerald knows Frances so well that he is sure she could not have done the crime.
- Frances and her sister Loretta are children of tragedy. When they were young children, their parents were killed when a bomb was thrown into their carriage. Loretta was also injured in the blast. The Nolans were not the intended target of the murderer, but it was a case of tragic mistaken identity.
- The sisters are the heiresses to the Caverdine Navigation Company and are quite wealthy.
- Guy Clarendon was a well-known individual, a batsman for the London cricket team and a ranked fencer. He also was a drinker and a gambler with a poor relationship with his father.
- The murder happened at Halliday’s hotel in London.
- Frances Nolan is currently being held at the Old Bailey awaiting trial.
Just like last time, I check the papers first. This case is chronologically before the previous one, July 4, 1888, so there are far fewer issues of the paper to scan through. Even so, I don’t find any articles in the paper about Mr. Clarendon’s death. There are many articles about the Society Burglar, but none about the murder of a cricketeer in a local hotel. Who should we talk to first? Let’s try the prime suspect: Frances Nolan.
|Did maids really wear that outfit?|
Unfortunately, I “miss”. I go to the directory as usual and pick Frances Nolan, but Holmes and Watson visit her house instead of her cell in the Old Bailey. She’s not home, but we are able to learn quite a bit from talking with her maid.
We learn that on the evening of the 1st, Frances was visited by Dr. Trevelyan. He’s a regular guest and always leaves around 10:00 PM. After he left, Frances asked for her usual cup of hot cocoa and settled in to read in front of the fire. The light in her room went out around 11:30 PM. Sometime in the night, a noise woke up the maid, but it passed quickly and she went back to sleep. At 7:30 in the morning, she came downstairs to find that Frances had just left. She must have been in a hurry because she never leaves before breakfast. That was the last she saw of Ms. Nolan.
|Are you sure you didn’t kill him?|
The judge tells us that a lawyer has agreed to take Ms. Nolan’s case, Wilfrid Robarts. I jot down that name for later. When we get to talk to Ms. Nolan, she claims that she cannot remember what happened that night. Her first memory is seeing Guy’s body across the room and realizing that the pistol was in her hand. She has no idea where she got the gun, but the police are sure that it is hers. She also had never been to Guy’s room at Halliday’s before and she did not even know that was where he was staying. She claims that she would never have shot him-- she loved him! The last thing she remembers from the previous night was meeting with Dr. Trevelyan, then hot cocoa and bed. She and the doctor have become close friends as her sister is under his care. Everything she says matches up with what we heard from the maid earlier.
|If you squint, you can just make out a party.|
Ms. Nolan explains that she met Guy at the country estate of Cornelius Goldwine back in March (about three months earlier). She and Loretta were attending a party, but her sister must have enjoyed the party a bit too much because she dived into a fountain and caught pneumonia. Frances did not manage to catch Guy’s eye at that party and he seemed more interested in Loretta than her. She must have made more of an impression than she thought because a few weeks later, he came to visit her. It’s been a dream ever since: long carriage rides and picnic lunches. On June 5, he declared his love for Frances and asked for her hand in marriage.
Holmes pushes Frances to discuss her memory loss and she reveals that she had two other periods of amnesia in the past month. The first time, she was having lunch with her sister and suddenly found herself on a horse in Hyde Park-- and she is afraid of horses! A few days later, she was meeting with Dr. Davenport, her solicitor, when suddenly she’s at the Newgate Street Station. She discussed the spells with her physician (Dr. Mason), but he doesn’t know what is going on either.
Before departing, Holmes asks her about her relationship to Mr. Locke. She claims that “Jerry” is a dear old friend, but they recently had a falling out. Gerald had said very unkind things about Guy and they are no longer on speaking terms.
|Guy and Frances, in happier times.|
That is a lot of information to take in! The key to this case is clearly the memory loss. She must have purchased the gun during one of the amnesia spells, but why? My first guess is that she is being drugged, probably by Loretta working together with Dr. Trevelyan. They both had the opportunity to administer a drug (Loretta at lunch and Dr. Trevelyan in her evening cocoa), although that doesn’t explain the period with her solicitor. The whole engagement also rings false to me; were Loretta and Guy conspiring together somehow and it went south? Why would Loretta want to kill Guy if he was secretly “her” beau, rather than her sister’s? This is quite a puzzle! I wonder if Loretta wouldn’t shed some light on all of this...
|Suddenly, it’s like we’re in an Elvira game.|
We pick the other Nolan sister out of the directory and find ourselves at Loretta’s house. She’s another odd duck, greeting Holmes in a very revealing costume and expecting him to show deference to her as if she was a queen. When questioned, she does not seem unhappy about recent events. She doesn’t show remorse for Guy’s death, although she calls him a “chum”, and even seems happy that “Ms. Right-and-Proper”, her name for her sister, is in trouble. She admits that she had danced with Guy at a recent party, but that was it. She is also sure that Guy would not have been interested in Frances, but perhaps her sister was deluding herself into thinking that he was. She claims that on the night of Guy’s death, Frances told her that she wanted to talk to him about “their future”.
Loretta doesn’t come off as a reliable narrator at all and I’m not sure I trust anything she’s saying. Her comments about Guy might hint at her own jealousy of her sister’s relationship, and perhaps even a motive to killing her sister’s fiancee. I am tempted to try to check out her story of the party to see if perhaps she did more than just “dance” with Guy, but I doubt that will buy me much. Even if she had the motive, she does not have the means to have drugged Frances. I can’t imagine that she has the medical know-how to do it, even if she had the drugs. My best next target then is Dr. Trevelyan.
|Have I mentioned how “brown” this game is?|
We next pay a visit to Dr. Percy Trevelyan, but that doesn’t go at all like I expect. He admits that he dined with Frances on the evening of July 1, just as they did every Sunday. Loretta has been his patient for some time, first with Mesmer-Braid Institute and later in private practice, and so he has been close to the Nolan family for years for years. He explains that Loretta never recovered from the trauma of watching her parents die. She is mentally ill and maintains delusions, including that her father was the king of England. “As a princess,” he says, “she believes she can do no wrong.” He believes that Loretta is incapable of being close to people, she cannot feel love for anyone.
I leave my conversation with the doctor very confused. He seems like a nice guy and invested in the health of his patients, not at all the scheming person that he would need to be to drug Frances’s cocoa. Unlike the last case where we had a means but no motive, here we have the reverse. Loretta could very easily have wanted Guy dead and it seems that she would show no remorse if her sister was punished for it, but there’s no way that I see that she could have done the deed. Does she take drugs that might cause memory loss? I send some Irregulars to the Mesmer-Braid Institute, but it’s closed now and there’s no one to talk to. I’m at a dead end.
We have investigated two of Frances’s memory loss incidents, but we know that a third happened while she was with her solicitor. Did he see anything? It’s a thin lead, but I’ll take it: we head off for Mr. Davenport next.
|My grandmother still calls couches “Davenports”. It’s a regional thing.|
Mr. Davenport is a gray-haired fellow in a nice suit. He explains that he’s actually only Frances’s solicitor, not Loretta’s, so he doesn’t know much about her situation. Even so, he believes that Loretta is not in good financial health. He also tells us of an odd meeting with the two sisters several weeks ago. They were having a conference when he was pulled away suddenly for around twenty minutes. When he returned, Frances had a “weird look” in her eye, mumbled something, and then quickly left. Meeting over.
This means that Loretta was present at two of the three memory-loss incidents! If there was any doubt that she’s responsible somehow, it’s fading rapidly. Her motive for killing Guy could be simple jealousy, especially if he had secretly been her lover first.
Could Loretta’s financial situation be so dire that she needed to kill Clarendon to get additional money? Would she have been in his will, for some reason? Or would she somehow get Frances’s inheritance if she were to be imprisoned (or executed) for murder? I send an Irregular to Somerset House, but he returned with nothing of value to the case. The Nolan sisters received an equal share of their parents’ fortune, but we probably could have guessed as much. I had hoped to find out about Clarendon’s will, but there’s no way in this game to be specific about your line of questioning.
|The guy that named his son Guy.|
Just grasping at straws, I select in the directory to go to Guy’s father’s house, Sir Francis Clarendon. In retrospect, it’s probably for the best that Ms. Nolan did not marry Guy, otherwise we’d have all sorts of confusion between Francis Clarendon (his father) and Frances Clarendon (his wife). Or maybe that’s just me.
Guy’s father has nothing nice to say about his son. He was a “wastrel” and a “neerdowell”. A few weeks back, he had run out of money and his father gave him 5,000 pounds and the admonition that it would be the last cash that he would ever receive. His father had been upset that Guy had been wasting his life on gambling and galavanting with “the lovely” Loretta Nolan.
This throws a wrench in the works. Was Guy with Loretta or Frances? Was he playing the sisters off of each other? Was he with Loretta first? Was his decision to pair up with Frances just some ruse to get access to her money? It could be any of those things, but none of them explain why Loretta would have wanted Guy dead, especially if they had been in on the conspiracy together. The pieces are not falling into place yet.
|Maybe he just fell down the stairs.|
As Holmes is leaving, the family butler approaches with some additional information. Around four or five weeks ago, he had heard a noise downstairs one morning. He ran down to find Guy had been attacked and badly beaten. Guy seemed afraid for his life, but refused to tell the butler who attacked him or why. Is this a false lead? This sounds like it connects to Guy’s gambling debts, but we don’t have any connection from them to the Nolan sisters. I suppose Loretta could have lent him money, but we know she’s not in good financial health either. Could he have been courting Francis only so that he could marry her and get access to her money?
Here is my theory: Frances really did kill Guy. She had the gun and she was found next to his body and those kinds of details are difficult (but not impossible) to fake. Loretta has been drugging her sister with something that is both causing amnesia and also causing her to act out of character. While on this drug, she rode a horse, she bought a gun, and she may have killed Guy Clarendon. At some point, Frances learned the truth about Guy, that he was just courting her to get access to her money to help pay down his gambling debts. The next time she was drugged, Frances got angry, sought him out, and killed him. Loretta probably didn’t want Guy dead necessarily, but it’s not exactly a bad outcome for her either.
That’s not a great story, but it’s the best that I have. We don’t know how the drug is administered or where Loretta is getting it, but it’s pretty clear that she’s a key part. She knows that Frances does out-of-character things while under the influence and is setting her off like a game of Russian roulette. Even so, there are pieces missing. We don’t know for sure how Frances would even get Guy’s address at the hotel. I’m not fully satisfied, but all we can do is take it to the judge.
And… no dice. The judge won’t even let me select a murderer this time, only saying that we need to find more clues first. Am I even on the right track? This case is proving to be a tough one. This seems like as good a place as any to break. Will I be able to solve this next week?
Time played: 1 hr 10 min
Total time: 4 hr 35 min
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