'It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic.'—Edgar Allan Poe
On the 18th of April 1892, I was sent a correspondence from abroad that reached my address at 23 Whitehall Place in London.
Apparently, it was from Baltimore, by a certain English gentleman of the name of Julian Winsor. In the respectful correspondence, Mr Winsor requested my assistance in resolving a mysterious case of unsolved murders.
My name you ask is Jack Cauvain, a meticulous chief inspector from London. I had worked previously on many infamous cases, such as 'The riddle of the skull murders' in London, and 'The vesper bells of Notre Dame' in Paris, but this case from America was to be the most challenging and difficult case ever to solve. It would require extraordinary perception and diligence that few detectives of this occupation had possessed.
From the scant details I had to read, the murders implied the involvement of the ambiguous group of the Freemasons and the link to the raven of the deceased poet Edgar Allan Poe.
These interesting elements to the case had drawn me into a heightened fascination.
After further deliberation, I had decided to accept the case and departed the following week to Baltimore.
When I had arrived at last in the city of Baltimore, I was cordially greeted, by a representative of Mr Winsor, who kindly escorted me by carriage to the opulent home of his employer.
From the harbour, I had descried the conspicuous Washington Monument towering above. I had never been to Baltimore before, and New York City was the only city in America I had visited previously. It was an industrial and prosperous city.
Along the way to the home of Mr Winsor, I saw the vibrant and obstreperous city of Baltimore, and I was impressed, with the bustle stirred by the commotion I heard of Baltimore's massive population and commerce, from the harbour and beyond.
I had arrived at the lofty residence of Mr Winsor, which was a colonial brick mansion along Goodwood Gardens in the Roland Park district. The house featured a portico on the front façade with a projecting bay, and the upper bay had a fanciful Palladian window.
It was a daunting image of the American mansions described by Englishmen, who travelled to these parts of America. I had considered what to expect from Mr Winsor, and once I met him, he was typical of a dapper Englishman.
My first impression was that he was willowy in constitution, and wore elegant clothes and smoked expensive imported cigars. He had a distinctive look in his eyes that exuded a slight hauteur, and his mien was impeccable of his persona. When we shook hands, his handshake was firm and commanding, as his salutation.
'Inspector Jack Cauvain, it is a pleasure to meet you at last in person, and to have you here in my home'.
'The pleasure is mine, Mr Winsor', I had replied.
'Naturally, you must be weary, from your long trip abroad', he remarked.
'If you must know the truth sir, I am as tired as an ox, and would love to get some needed repose'.
'Then, let me not entertain you any more, and rest a bit. We shall speak afterwards about the case at dinner. The guest room has been prepared for you in advance'.
'I shall be looking forward to that conversation', I told him, as I smiled out of cordiality and disposition.
I would learn afterwards, during dinner that he had accumulated his wealth, in the trade of antiquities and treasures, but his principal passion was his timeless coin collection. He had been living in the country, for numerous years.
His profitable business had brought him to Baltimore that allowed him to acquire a good fortune and a noteworthy reputation over the years as well. He was a keen connoisseur, and his province on the matter of international affairs was admirable to say the least.
After we had finished dinner, we spoke at length in the dining hall, about the case that had brought me to Baltimore. He revealed the details that were known and made public. The gentlemen murdered were prominent men from the local aristocracy and affluent neighbourhoods.
The names of the gentlemen were Mr Harwood, Mr Chapman, Mr Trammel, and Mr Hutchinson. In total there were four men who were brutally murdered. The interesting fact about the murders was that most of them occurred, close to their areas of residence. There was no distinction in the pattern of the time of the murders. They had seemed to betide indiscriminately, either at day or night.
The unusual connection to the Freemasons and Edgar Allan Poe's poem the Raven had still confounded me that I had to enquire.
'Mr Winsor, if I may ask, what does the poem the Raven and the Freemasons have to do, with the murders?'
'That is a good question inspector. I shall attempt to explain that oddity the best I can. You see, from the evidence gathered, all the persons killed were alleged to be Freemasons. As for the link to Edgar Allan Poe, a copy of his poem was left behind, by the culprit after each murder. Hitherto, these are the incontrovertible facts', he answered.
'I have worked on many fascinating cases of unsolved murders with mysterious circumstances involved, but this case I shall attempt to unfold is daring. To be honest, it does present a challenge, but I must admit, I enjoy a good challenge'.
'I know if there is a man who could solve this mystery it is you. Now, if you will excuse me, I must tend to an engagement at the theatre. If you decide to seek accommodations elsewhere, I shall inform the carriage driver to take you there. There are many good hotels in the city. As for the police, I have informed them at the Police Station of your involvement in the case'.
'If you have no objection, I would like to spend the night, and tomorrow, I shall find a room in a hotel nearby', I had requested.
'Of course not! All your expenses at the hotel will be paid by me'.
'That is gracious on your part!'
After he had departed, I retired to the comfort of my chamber, where I rested upon the bed. Even though I was extremely fatigue from the trip, my enquiring mind was soon pondering the events of the case. The precedence of this impending mystery had to be associated with the actual involvement of the noblemen with their recent activities, regardless of the nature of these exploits.
However, the nexus to the poem of the Raven did not seem to have any logical explanation or understanding.
What was the veritable intention of the murderer or murderers in leaving as a vestige of proof this particular Gothic poem? Was ascertaining fame the reason? What about the preclusion of the occult Freemasons? Was there another interior motive that I was not aware of?
I could not underestimate the full capability of my adversary, and this important lesson I had learnt before in dealing with the criminal mind.
For the nonce, there was not much of this case I could unravel so easily. I left the unanswered questions for the morrow and slept for the remainder of the night, as the signs of lassitude were manifest in my gestures. In the morning I awoke with an eagerness to commence the investigation.
I had breakfast and thereafter, I left the home of Mr Winsor. Then, I headed towards the Police Station to speak with Officer Higgins at once, who Mr Winsor had mentioned yester. Once I had informed him who I was, he was prepared to assist me in whatever endeavour. I had met as well his superior, Captain O'Malley.
'Inspector Cauvain, I am at your service, and happy to work on this case with you!'
'Good! I like your firm resolution Officer Higgins. Now, there is so much to do. Where do we begin? Let us begin with the preliminary report and proceedings', I responded.
There were several witnesses and suspects interrogated, but nothing of substance and precedent was established from this procedure. The clues retrieved were too vague and indeterminate to know the original disposition of the culprit or culprits.
Thus, I had decided to concentrate on the indisputable facts that were disclosed.
First, the victims were all wealthy, and were businessmen from Baltimore.
Second, the proximity of the murders were, within the essential circumference of the area.
Third, the dastardly deeds accrued were executed, with the same premeditated manner and efficiency.
Fourth, the preferable weapon of the murderer was a tool with a blade of some design.
Fifth, the copy of the Raven was discovered at each murder. However, the dubious connection to the Freemasons was a mere speculative assumption.
There was no concrete evidence that the murders had any specific relation to Freemasonry, except for one small piece of proof that according to some of the witnesses questioned, the weapon used in the murders was a trowel or rapier.
Even if the trowel or the rapier was utilised, which I thought primitive, it was not sufficient to base a foundation of conception or confirmation. Higgins had concurred with my analogy and thus we would have to rely on our intuitive suppositions and correlative facts proven.
At times, these sources were not always reliable and efficacious. Therefore, we had studied the perimeters of the crime scenes on a map of Baltimore, in particular the neighbourhoods of Federal Hill and Cherry Hill.
Hanover Street Bridge was a focus, since there was a witness, who saw a carriage passed, over the bridge upon one occasion. We had to start from somewhere that was pivotal to the progression of events evolved.
We had decided to head towards the bridge, in order to relate the horrid sequence of that night, with the murder that transpired afterwards. If my theory of cause and effect was correct, then, the murderer would have to have a course or path taken. That is to say, that within his plan, there had to be a route of escape. Not only would the culprit or culprits have to have this, but a highly significant presumption as well.
This escape would have to be speedily performed, without much notice. It was a tremendous risk taken, nevertheless it was overcome. The murder as with the other murders was done with precision, a deep cut of the throat.
When we had reached the bridge, no visible or immediate clues were found, but we began to examine the area. We had determined from the weight of the bridge and the need to escape, the speed of the carriage.
After the path of escape and velocity had been deduced, I sought to connect the significance of that route, and the area that adjoined the bridge.
Since I was unfamiliar with Baltimore, I asked Higgins for any doubt that I had of the area. Higgins would inform me that the bridge led to one of the main thoroughfares to the city and countryside. This revealing detail would explain the access and ample time the culprit had in absconding the authorities, and clear detection by the neighbours.
The next question that entered my mind was where had the carriage gone ultimately? That answer, would have to be resolved another day.
We had left the area of the bridge and returned to the Police Station, to see whether or not any new tidings of the case were reported, and unfortunately, there was nothing reported. This would be disconcerting to other detectives, but not to me. On the contrary, this would increase my resolution.
The pressing matter of my accommodations had to be settled anon, and Higgins was kind enough to assist me in that search.
I was able to register in a hotel on Russell Street, the main street of the centre of the city. Afterwards, we continued the investigation. The murdering pattern behind the murders was the next thing to resolve on the list. The method of death was a slash of the throat.
Although, witnesses had claimed that the object applied to the murders was a trowel or rapier, there was no substantial proof to verify that—nor was there a trowel or rapier located. The murder weapon was truly decisive, and even more was the identity and cause of the murders.
Thenceforth, it was imperative to establish that association. I had recalled the method used by the killer in the murders of Notre Dame in Paris and the Cult of Death, in the riddle of the skull murders in London. Higgins was impervious to what I was referring to. Gradually he understood, after I had expounded on my thoughts. There was definitively a reason behind the murders, and the purpose to justify them had to do with the admiration to Edgar Allan Poe.
As for the Freemasons, could this mention be attached as well to the deceased poet? I shall elucidate further. In the short story of 'The Cask of Almontillado', the known villain Montresor, used a trowel and a rapier for his devilish deed, against the poor Fortunato. Could the culprit be emulating this episode? Could he be truly a hidden Freemason?
Perhaps I was correct in my pensive presupposition in the end, or I was simply erroneous in my hypothesis. What if the concept was twofold, and could be defined in either possibility?
That was a radical prospect for confutation. The key in solving that enigma was uncovering the elusive identity of the murder or murderers.
The intrigue I had in knowing more of the secret society of the Freemasons was engrossing me, within an intruding introspection. I had instructed Higgins to obtain as much information he could on the last transactions taken, by the victims recorded, whilst I was to investigate the activities of the Freemasons. It was crucial to the case that we prove that the deaths of these noblemen were linked to their business affairs. It was paramount to the evolution of the case that we had more information as well on their private affairs.
My old recollection in England of the Freemasons was somewhat unclear. The prior information I had of them was that they were fraternal organisations that had clandestinely existed for some centuries I believed.
They were embedded in the core of English society and were found throughout Great Britain and in several European countries. But their extent in America was a mystery to me. Where would I find a place of Freemasonry in Baltimore?
This would not be of top priority, but if the murders persisted, and the evidence retrieved had encompassed this nature, then I would be forced to accept the Freemason's complicity, with the ongoing case.
The following morning, as I was seated in the foyer of the hotel, Higgins had arrived at the hotel, with the transactions of the deceased victims that I had requested the day before. I was very anxious to peruse the documents recovered, and what I would read contained valuable information.
The occupations of the victims were bankers, politicians, lawyers or merchants. I would discover that all the last transactions of the victims corresponded to the same address, and the amount of money spent was of a considerable amount.
'Why would they all make contributions to the same address inspector?' Higgins had asked bemusedly.
'Perhaps it is nothing but a mere coincidence Higgins—or perhaps the murderer knew the victims and had a rapport with them', I answered.
'Could this be true?'
'Of what I am certain of is that whoever had received this contribution is smiling at us right now, with a pretentious smirk'.
The address was located on Lombard Street, and therefore, it was our first real indicative clue, but when we arrived at the address, we found the building that stood was abandoned. Apparently, it had been like that, for some time.
The implication was that the transactions were illegal or were misappropriated. How would we determine that outcome?
We needed a strong indication to lead us to that conclusion. One thing that was evident, whoever had arranged this plan was someone whose identity was to remain incognito. Surely, it was intended for the unidentified benefactor to keep the transactions latent, with duplicity and violence that had resulted in the deaths of those men who contributed.
The question that aroused was that benefactor enveloped indubitably, with the murders?
If so, it was an elaborate plot of connivance. It seemed that we would have to seek our answers elsewhere. It was an irreducible concession I did not want to admit so overtly.
After we had left the derelict building, we returned to the Police Station and pondered our next move. The identity of the unknown benefactor was as ambiguous, as the identity of the culprit. The plot of the mystery thickened more.
It was obvious we were not dealing with a conventional criminal mind, instead an audacious and meticulous mind. Baltimore was a large sprightly city that was full of many eerie and hidden places of dread. There was still much to unravel about the intricacies surrounding the murders. The only auspicious gleaning that resulted in a boon was the fact that we had the certainty of the name and address of the proprietor of the property.
The silly notion of the involvement of the Freemasons was starting to occupy my thoughts and mind continually. The suspense would augment, upon my visit to the home of Mr Winsor. Higgins had accompanied me to the house, where Mr Winsor was in the parlour playing his piano.
When he was told about our visit, he was excited to hear our tidings on the case. His excitement emoted I did find a bit odd. Nonetheless, I informed him of the interesting information we had gathered, especially the disclosure of the factible transactions of the victims. The irony of the transactions was compounded, by the fact of discovering the address to be a deserted building. This peculiar evidence was a contradictory inversion that did not make any practical sense. There were more questions to be asked of these transactions than answered.
'The revelation of the transactions inspector although strange, can be interpreted as charitable purposes', Mr Winsor said.
'True, but sent to an abandoned building. That does not equate with my logic sir', I had rejoined.
'Frankly, it is a complex matter to explain, but I shall attempt to. You see Americans have this propensity to give shelter to the poor and destitute in buildings no longer operable or desirable for that matter. Thus, the organisers of these activities tend to rent old dilapidated buildings for this function. It is fully legal and comprisable', Mr Winsor had related.
'Then how do you explain, why were these transactions done so surreptitiously, and the charitable group donated these contributions not mentioned in the transactions?' I remarked.
'I believe I can answer that question by saying, that there is a natural tendency that contributions given to charity are sometimes received in the end by the benefactor, who distributes those contributions. It is the actual beneficence of the benefaction'.
'That is an inventive enterprise undertaken. Even though it is precarious, it is quite charitable', I reciprocated.
I had perceived this intelligible quirk in Mr Winsor, as he responded to my enquiry so fluently. I also had the perception that he did not expect me to discover much, in such brief period of time. When I mentioned the fact that I along with Higgins, were to interview the few witnesses who saw the murders or culprit in the morrow, he would be taken aback by my next admission. I had told him that I would solve this murder sooner than later.
We left the house of Mr Winsor, and our intention was to retire for the night, but a harrowing incident would occur afterwards that I did not welcome or foresee. As I was waiting in the street for Mr Winsor's carriage to escort me to the hotel, the horses of the carriage were frightened by a sound, causing them to gallop forth, with celerity. Luckily for me, Higgins saw the carriage approaching and had warned me suddenly.
When the horses finally halted at the quadrivial edge of the street, the horses nearly collided, with a waggoner driving a team of eight horses. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident, and a serious accident was truly avoided. It was not revealed at that moment, what actual noise caused the horses to react in that skittish manner.
I had dismissed the incident as nothing more than an unsettling experience. I did not know that this small incident would quickly change the nature of this murder investigation.
In the morning I had arrived at the Police Station to reunite with Higgins, as we had agreed in advance. We had planned on visiting first the proprietor of the abandoned building at his address, and then speak to the few witnesses of the case.
Once we had arrived at the residence of Mr Gillespie in Charles Street, we spoke to him, as he greeted us at the front door. Charles Street was an important street that led to the arterial roads of Baltimore. Mr Gillespie was a simplistic man, who was small in height, but rotund in corpulence. His visible moustache was trimmed, and his glabrity around his head was noticeable.
When we shared our private conversation, about the building and the charitable events that took place within the edifice, he did acknowledge the events and collaborated what Mr Winsor had explained before. But when I requested what was called the lease, he said that he did not have the lease with him at that time. He said once he found the document, he would inform me. Yet, when I had demanded to know the name of that tenant, he was evasive and did not recall the name of the tenant.
Then, he tried to assure me that once the lease was found, the name of the tenant would be readily recognisable. It was evident that he was concealing something, but that omission I was not acquainted with.
Since, I did not want to seem too adverse in my conviction I thought it prudent to not impose my authority over him.
We had finished the affable dialogue, and I told Higgins that we would proceed to the enquiry, with the witnesses at the Police Station. One by one the witnesses were interrogated, and each version given was exactly the same as before. If I was hoping to uncover any pertinent information or clues, about the murders, I would be sorely disappointed.
I was not confident that I could obtain any valuable details, from these witnesses. I realised that I had to seek other witnesses and a meaningful plan. But the question was where and who?
The new plan would have to be carefully designed to be effective to entice the murderer, but not simplified in nature, since the culprit was not an ordinary criminal. I began to believe that the criminal wanted to remain anonymous, and that the poem of the Raven found at the crime scene was nothing more than an elaborated deception.
I had analysed the poem and the signature written in the bottom right hand corner, and noticed through clear observation the intricate handwriting used. There was no apparent distinction in the poems left behind, except the tincture was smooth and elegant. I was no expert on the matter of handwriting, but I surmised that the author of the signature was a polished sophisticated gent.
There had to be a logical affinity with the murders and poem. The culprit had to be either an admirer of Poe, or this was a pretext to mislead the authorities. Naturally, the conjecture of his sanity had been a speculation, but that was before the recent developments. I was preparing to devise the next action precluded, and as we were in the hotel taking a drink to relax a bit, a note was given to me.
It was from Mr Gillespie, and he requested my presence at the abandoned building in Lombard Street at soon as possible. I told Higgins about the note and immediately, we went to the location.
Once we had arrived there, we noticed that he was not outside. We stepped inside, and he was not in the hall to be plainly seen either. A queer sensation had then overtaken me forthwith.
As we had passed the hall, we found Mr Gillespie dead. His motionless body was hanging, from the top of the stairway. It was apparent that his death appeared to be recent, but what was not certain from the beginning was if he had committed suicide or was simply murdered. The only certainty was that he was dead. I could not bear the image of his listless body hanging, and I unfastened the rope and removed the body of Mr Gillespie.
It was a lamentable death, and one that I felt had a purpose. The purpose would soon be understood. As I was removing the body, Higgins had discovered the familiar poem of the Raven, near the body. The poem was a visible sign that the murderer had returned to his escapade. The pressing question was, were there any witnesses, and eventually there were none.
I had learnt the lesson that the poem was a prerequisite and death a requisite. Higgins had also discovered a ring with a shining ruby on the floor. What was not known was, if the ring had belonged to Mr Gillespie or the killer. I kept the ring, until I spoke to the widow.
There was no doubt that Mr Gillespie was murdered to prevent the exposure of the murderer. The murderer was mindful of our investigation, and therefore, he was one step ahead. The question that lingered was, how did the criminal know we were going to speak to Mr Gillespie, at the building and today?
I told Higgins that I had wanted to peruse the poem, within the commodious space of the hotel room leisurely. There inside my room, I began to study the pattern of alliteration and metaphors utilised in the Raven.
Was the key in solving this case found in the structure of the poem? The rhyming of the poem uttered in cadent enunciation was analogous to the bel canto of the theatre. It was unmistakable to me a judicious thinker, who was working on this case that the criminal sought provocation and recognition, through this poem and his acts of depravity.
The signature as well, continued to consume my thoughts and assertions. It was conceivable to imagine the killer to be a product of social acclamation. It was horrible to fathom that mortification imposed, by his indefatigable actions; although, the criminal mind of my foe was discerning, I was confident that the culprit—perfectionist or not, would have to commit a mistake. I had to be prepared to pounce on him, like a raptor on his prey, with his talons.
I had instructed Higgins to investigate any associations the victims had participated in previously. The idea of the link to the Freemasons was still a credible possibility, since they were a bidden mystery that was not that resolvable.
That evening I had received another note in the hotel, and this time it was from the widow Mrs Gillespie. I was not expecting another note, or anything relevant from this note. However, when I began to read the note though succinct in length, I would be informed of an urgent secret that she wanted desperately to reveal to me, but in privacy. Indeed, it must have been something essential to the cause of death of her husband, Mr Gillespie.
I sent a note to Higgins to wait for me at the Police Station, whilst I was to head towards the residence of Mrs Gillespie.
Once I had arrived there, I spoke to the widow, and I sensed her profound apprehension in her hesitance to speak calmly. She was petrified with a palpable fear, as she looked around to see if anyone with vigilant eyes was observing. I did what she had requested in coming alone, and then, we entered the home. Inside, she was a bit relaxed, but unsettled.
Shortly, I asked her about the matter that brought me to the residence. She started to converse, about the mysterious organisation her late husband was a member of. Her striking revelation would be fundamental evidence that was needed to solve the case. It was evidence that would begin to unravel more the mystery that eluded us.
'Inspector Cauvain, we do not have much time—for I know in my heart, they are watching us now. They have spies, amid us. I shall be brief and direct sir. My husband Warren was involved with the chapter of the Freemasons. I am sure you are aware of their association. My husband had rented the building to them, so that they could do their charitable work and not be revealed for their true intentions'.
'What exactly are you referring to Mrs Gillespie?' I enquired.
She handed me important documents of her husband, 'It is all here, take these documents, and go. I must leave the city now. I have a train to catch'.
'Where will you be heading?'
'Somewhere, where they cannot locate me. Do not worry, once I am there, I will send you a letter. As you can imagine, a telegraph would be faster, but I cannot allow myself to be exposed so foolishly', she replied as I saw the singularity of her expression.
'Of course! You must do what you must do. Your safety is first. But before you leave, I shall like to know, if this shining ring with the ruby belonged to your late husband?'
Her response was, 'No, I have never seen this ring'.
She gathered her luggage and stepped into the carriage that was waiting outside, whilst I had exited through the back door unto the street. I was relieved to know that she was all right, and was leaving the city. But there remained a murderer or murderers at large in Baltimore, and that reality was daunting to accept.
Thus, I had returned to the hotel to wait for Higgins. I was eager to know what he knew, and to see the documents too. At the room of the hotel, I began my perusal of the documents. Each and every page had written the precise transactions of Mr Gillespie, and the names and residences of all the members of the Freemasons of Baltimore, except the Master Mason, the chieftain of this fraternal chapter.
The names of the victims of this case were included in the list of members. At last, I had conclusive proof that the Freemasons were involved in the murders. Apparently, Mr Gillespie was the treasurer of the Freemasons.
The questions yet unanswered was the identity of the Master Mason and the culprit. The culprit had been careless in failing to destroy these documents, and knowing the trail of implication of criminal activity. I was still not convinced that there was only one killer, but I was convinced that the signature on the Raven poem was one man.
When Higgins had arrived, I gave him the documents and immediately instructed him to take them to the Police Station. I was heading towards the home of Mr Winsor to inform him on the status of the case, knowing what I knew then.
When I had reached the house of Mr Winsor, it was eventide, and as usual, he was in the parlour playing the notes of his priceless piano, his pride and joy. Thence, he saw me entered, and he stopped playing, after he finished his wonderful rendition of a melancholic ode. I saw the familiar eager expression on his face and his wont for satisfaction. I had proceeded to explain the status of the case, including the evidence found.
Afterwards, I had informed him of the terrible death of Mr Gillespie as well. I mentioned the invertible collusion of the Freemasons that linked them to a broader and profligate conspiracy that involved their participation in the crimes. I related to him, my conversation with the widow of Mr Gillespie. I did not allude to my percipient observation of the signature of the poem the Raven, since I did not have any substantive clue, but unproven suppositions instead. The issue of the documents of Mr Gillespie did arouse his interest quickly.
'Interesting inspector, I must commend your effort. If I may enquire, these documents, where are they kept then?'
'Unfortunately, that information, I am not cognisant to disclose', I responded.
'I admire your dedication and above all, your steadfast persistence. Keep up the good work, and before you go, let me give you a check for your expenses at the hotel. Now, I must go, for I have my customary engagement at the theatre to attend. I believe the play tonight is 'The Cask of Almontillado'. You are invited to come, if you want'.
I accepted the check, but I politely declined the kind invitation. I had noticed as he handed over the check that there was an imprint or mark on his index finger that gave the impression that there was a ring once placed in that finger, and that ring had to be distinctive in size.
There was still another coincidental detail that I would conclude, as I had observed the check on my way out of the estate. I realised that the letter 'r' in the signature of his middle name, 'Robert' was identical to the 'r' in the signature of the poem of The Raven. When I comprehended the magnitude of that along with the ring, I immediately connected the dots. Mr Winsor was the fiend. I was not absolutely certain, but my hunch seemed quite logical and quotientive of his guilt.
However, I needed to confirm this at once. I was able to take a hansom cab and follow his carriage through the streets of Baltimore, until his carriage reached a dark remote corner of a street I was not aware of. It appeared to be a place of worship of such nature. I told the cab driver to leave me near the vicinity. I then saw him entered the place, where I entered afterwards. I followed him down the narrow corridor, till I reached him in the cellar.
In the drear and darkened cellar, I found Mr Winsor speaking to someone, as he held a rapier in his right hand. I could not discern the stranger he was addressing. Then, when I got closer, I saw, a high inspissated standing wall of plaster that was built. The wall was incomplete, and needed to be finished. Who was behind the wall?
The individual who was behind the wall was no other than Officer Higgins. The wall was a ghastly sight of sheer horror. Why was Higgins behind the wall? What was he doing in the cellar in the first place? I had at my disposal, a pistol as a weapon, but I waited for the opportune moment to arrest him.
When he began to construct the next tier of the unfinished wall, I came out of my hiding place and pointed the pistol at Mr Winsor. His reaction was of surprise, then the surprise would be mine to discover. I failed to perceive the approaching pistol pointed at me, from behind me. It was Captain O'Malley, from the Police Station.
What I was impervious to was the fact that he was a member of the Freemasons of Baltimore. It was a shocking revelation and reminder of the intimidating power of the organisation.
'Inspector Cauvain, what a pleasant surprise! I seemed to have underestimated your masterful prowess again. However, fortunately for me, this will be the last faux-pas committed. Now, I deeply regret what must be done next. If you would be so generous in dropping your pistol on the ground', Mr Winsor said with excessive pretension.
The contentious interaction between us then abated. I had no other option but to comply with his command. I threw the pistol on the ground as ordered, then, I was ordered to walk up the stairway. I had to react straightaway, and I did.
As I had reached the top of the stairway, I knocked the pistol out of the hand of Captain O'Malley on the ground. Then I kicked him down the stairway, causing him to stumble down the long stairway incapacitating him. I gradually, walked down the stairway mindful of the presence of Mr Winsor.
When I reached the cellar anew, he had disappeared. Apparently, he had escaped, through a secret passage of the cellar. I could not let him escape, but I could not leave Higgins behind that wall of the hardened surface.
At that moment officers from the Baltimore Police had arrived and were able to free Higgins, from his prematured immurement. They had arrested Captain O'Malley, and I chased Mr Winsor.
When I had reached the end of the passage, I was in the street. I quickly looked around to see where Mr Winsor had escaped. I looked and looked, until I saw him running into a cul-de-sac. He had nowhere to run. Thus, he confronted me, with his mercurial temperament that was agelastic.
'It would appear that I am at a clear disadvantage now, inspector'.
'As you would say in chess checkmate', I had rejoined.
'I suppose that this means the end is near for me?'
'I believe so, Mr Winsor. The Baltimore Police is informed of everything. You cannot hide nor run from the law any longer. You have nowhere to go'.
'Bide my time in the dreary cell of a prison I do not think so, fain fellow. You see Inspector Cauvain, there is always an escape, even in the darkest hour of our death'.
He had grabbed from his waistcoat, a white powder and threw it at me. I was blinded for a moment, allowing him to run away. But, he would not get too far. As he ran from the cul-de-sac to the street, a heavy waggon, with a team of horses struck Mr Winsor—killing him instantly. When my vision had cleared, I saw him lain in the street dead.
Dead was Julian Winsor, the Raven murderer, as he would be referred to posthumously. The infandous reasons for his crime spree would never be confessed, through his admission.
Perhaps in the end it was an unconquerable and persistive compulsion of his to murder, and an execrable avidity for power. It is a distortional involution that had embodied the inflexible nature of the determination of the murderer. The irrefutable facts and the unaccountable iniquities of Mr Winsor had been propagated, within the concurrent recrimination of his character.
All the remaining evidence was gathered in the dispositions taken. It was discovered afterwards that Higgins had been accompanied to the Lodge of the Freemasons by Captain O'Malley, who was a secret member of the fraternity.
From the evidence found at the home of Mr Winsor, he had killed the others, who were direct rivals and would not demit. He alone would be the Master Mason, and this was incentive enough to murder the others. At times, the unplausive nature of murder is a simplicity we overlook.
The prima mobilia is so elemental that its visible circumspection is terribly misunderstood. Its protractive crimes we seek prosecution and deliberation, but fail to comprehend the ineffable nature of that antagonistical side of the displacement of those inevitable thoughts of the mind.
I shortly departed Baltimore afterwards, but not before I went to the Police Station to thank personally Higgins. He was convalescing from his wounds or injuries received at the Lodge. He was very grateful for the experience and collaboration, between our two countries.
I had invited him to London, and he cordially accepted. As for Mrs Gillespie, I had received a correspondence from her once in London, informing me that she was in Toronto, Canada. I was pleased to know that she was safe, and under an anonymous name.
There was one small pending thing I had left to do, before I left Baltimore completely. It was a visit to the grave of the author of the poem the Raven, Edgar Allan Poe; and there upon his headstone, I had descried the bold ebony bird anew, who spoke that one memorable word of nevermore—the return of the Raven.