'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet'.—William Shakespeare
I am accustomed to recall in my retentive memory of the diversified cases I have had in my illustrious profession, and several have transcended the mere notion of common logic that is warranted in applying this concept; but there are those unexpected and unforgettable cases that can escape the fundamental precept of any preconceived rationalisation, and are founded on the elements of unbridled passion merely. Therefore, what must be concluded is that despite the fact that all crimes or murders are perpetuated, through a singular pattern of deviance and malice; the criminals on the other hand are vulpine in nature to implement multitudinous forms of duplicity. There are momentous occasions, when the notorious murderer tends to supersede the fame of the criminal act that was committed, and has ascertained that recognition willingly, but yet remains surreptitious. This particular case that was called, 'The black rose widow killer', was one of those cases aforementioned. My name you wonder is Wesley Crow, a punctilious detective from Scotland Yard, and this case would take me to the farthest corner of the British Empire. It would require the highest form of acute perception and sapience that could be construed as supererogatory.
It was an early midday in spring of the year 1896, when I arrived at the city of Melbourne in Australia. Melbourne was located in the south-eastern part of mainland Australia, within the area of Victoria. I had arrived at the Southern Cross Railway Station on Spencer Street, between Collins and La Trobe, on the western edge of the central business districts that were plentiful. The country was being effected, by the economic depression of the 1890s, and the banking crisis of 1893. I was in Australia to assist in the development of the local police of Sydney, when I was informed by one of the constables of my immediate participation in solving, an ongoing case of murders that remained insoluble in Melbourne. I had been in Australia for a week, and had not seen much of the country, except for a few casual and transient glimpses of the countryside that was picturesque, with its broad and colourful landscape. After my arrival I was taken in a cab to the Victoria Police Headquarters on Mackenzie Street to meet a certain Captain James Clapperton, and my fellow assistant Officer Malcolm Brunswick. Once at the Police Headquarters, I was promptly apprised of the significant details of the case.
'It is admirable to see the outstanding sedulity of the Victoria Police of Melbourne in person, and I do not doubt the diligence demonstrated. I shall gladly offer my expertise and experience on the case, and display my absolute resolution in solving the murders that are disconcerting the inhabitants of the city and elsewhere', I spoke.
'Detective Crow it is a pleasure and honour to have your involvement in this case, and we of the Victoria Police of Melbourne are prepared to facilitate you in whatever manner feasible sir. I can attest that Officer Brunswick will be effective in assisting you to apprehend the murderer', Captain Clapperton responded.
'Good, now Captain Clapperton what is important is that we head toward the recent crime scene, so that we can attempt to calculate with a measure of accuracy and not mere supposition, the succession of events', I answered.
'Of course sir!' Captain Clapperton said.
We departed the Police Station and went to the crime scene, which was not the typical crime scene I was familiar in my prior investigations. The murder as with the other three murders I was told had occurred on a train. At first I had thought that the murders had been committed at the train station or near the railway, but much to my amazement they were perpetuated aboard the train, and then the bodies disposed so discreetly unto the railway tracks. The murder occurred at the Flinders Street Railway Station, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Street that extended on to Queen Street. From what I was told the railway line was utilised for freight trains originally, until the year of 1894, when passengers were finally allowed, and the first finished platform was provided at the station for suburban trains from Essendon and Williamstown. In that year the inhabitants of the city began to use the railway, with consistency. Along the way to the train station, I contemplated the fascinating details of the case, and the ambiguity of the profile of the criminal. This vital importance was something that I shared with the officers, and in particular, with Officer Brunswick. Once there the circumstantial evidence was discussed, as well were hypothetical contingencies.
'From what I comprehend of the informative details you have expounded Brunswick, the body of the victim was discovered by the tracks of the railway, but yet the murder was supposedly committed aboard the train. Is that not so?' I stated and then enquired.
'That is true Detective Crow, the murder as with the previous murders occurred inside the train and not outside', Brunswick responded.
'Thence, we are to conclude based on this inference that the murderer had chosen this method of murder, for the implementation of its cause and effect', I answered.
'I would concur with that analogy Detective Crow, but there is one thing that puzzles me, why leave behind a black thorny rose?' Brunswick queried.
'Yes, I almost forgot that singular object, and I must confess Brunswick that it did baffle me in the beginning, but then through my intuitive and reliable disposition and experience, I have deduced efficaciously the signification of this black thorny rose. You see, I have dealt before with elaborate cases such as this one, where the murderer has the irrepressible inclination to leave behind a token of their dastardly deed. And what I have determined is that these visible objects serve as ghastly reminders, to the maniacal purport of their concentrative objective', I acknowledged.
'But then if I may inquire Detective Crow, what is the reason for this particular usage of a black rose, since it is synonymous with death?' Brunswick asked with intrigue.
'Exactly Brunswick, the black rose is fairly known for its lethiferous connotation. The inducement may appear obvious Brunswick in its composition, but there are several intimations for the black rose. It can signify that we are dealing with a sophisticated murderer, who could be either a woman or a man in physiognomy, or a calculative murderer that is attempting to confound us voliently', I admitted.
The telling sign of the black rose was perhaps an implicative indicator of the killers' scheme or tactic employed, and it was highly reminiscent of other noticeable cases that were haunting vestiges of the murderers' intention and presence. The question that was lingering in my mind was the association of the victims with the uninhibited murderer. Unfortunately, there was not much evidence to denote any probable link or reference to the murderer with the recent deaths, except some unidentified footprints that were imprinted by the soles of the culprit. Therefore, the only credible information was the disposition of one of the witnesses a Mr Donnellan, who had seen a suspicious person descending the train shortly after the murder was committed. Mr Donnellan was the ticker collector, who was working that hour in the night, and he had mentioned the stranger descending the train mysteriously. However, after conversing with him I realised that the description that he worded was extremely vague in detail to be of substantial pertinency. Thus, it was inconclusive and insufficient to make a concrete surmisal, but nevertheless it did offer me a constructive reflection to contemplate at length the meaning of the thorny black rose.
I had Officer Brunswick escort me to the Federal Coffee Palace that was a grand hotel that would provide me lodging during my sojourn in Melbourne, whilst Captain Clapperton remained behind at the crime scene. After registering at the hotel, we then left to the headquarters to discuss the case in privacy. There was much to analyse and base a coherent assumption that was more, than a formulated theory to excogigate. We had to find an effective manner in which we could prevent another murder from occurring, and to arrest the murderer as soon as possible. Consequently, we increased the vigilance around the numerous train stations in the city, knowing that the murders had been committed within that vicinity. It was extremely crucial as well that we had several officers on board of the trains, for precautionary purposes. We could not be awhaped, by the evitative apprenhension that was beginning to consume the public. Captain Clapperton and Officer Brunswick were sanguine that this proposition of mine to catch the criminal would lead ultimately to an arrest, but I was still somewhat left in a hugger-mugger wondering, about the profile of the murderer and the black thorny rose.
I had one of the officers enquire at the local flower shops, for any possible purchases of these particular roses, and if they were abundantly sold in the city. And much to my amazement, I soon learned after speaking to one of these officers that it had become a fascination for the widows of fallen husbands. When I asked the officer for clarification, he merely explained that many Victorian women of the lofty status of Melbourne society had started to purchase these black roses, as an honourable dedication to their deceased beloved husbands. I had heard of strange attachments to cult activities manifold times before in England, but there was something indeed very equivocal about this quiddity that had a patent distinction in nature. Regardless of that curious detail, I needed for the accretive facts to be accrued enough to permit me to proceed, with a logical and remediable assurance. I had one of the officers who had visited the local flower shops make a list for me of the recent purchasers of such black thorny roses that were being used by the murderer. The fact that the murders had taken place within a train was disturbing, but yet I had remembered a similar case in New York several decades ago.
The murderer in that specific case was apprehended afterward, and was found to be incompetent to stand trial for his atrocious crimes. However, the method of the murders of the case was analogous to this murderer in Australia. It was a stark comparison of an ironic similitude, and one that I had pondered considerably, except that the murderer in New York was more brutal in the execution of his crimes. One of the officers who I had instructed to bring me a list of the daily stops of the train from the train stations of the city had returned, and I was able to peruse the names of the places of every stop. The trajectory of the train of the last murder on the Southern Cross Railway Station led on to Lilydale, Belgrave, Cranbourne, Alamein, Glen Waverly, Sandringham, East Richmond, amongst other places. After further deliberation, I suggested that we placed several officers on board of the train, disguised naturally in ordinary attire to appear inconspicuous. My immediate concern was whether the murderer would suspect our tactics and avoid taking the train. The other concern was impeding the murderer from escaping, once on board of the train. At the train station we began to prepare ourselves for the night that befell.
'If my calculations are proven unerring, then we shall be face to face with our murderer anon', I said.
'What if the culprit is evasive enough to elude our capture sir?' Brunswick asked.
'Then, we shall have to be more efficient in our application of introspection Brunswick', I replied.
'I understand sir, and I wanted to inform you that the officers outside of the train and on board are fully prepared and in position', Brunswick answered.
'Good, then let us put our plan into effect Brunswick. I shall be at the position near the train entrance, whilst you wait at the point of departure', I remarked.
'Yes sir! I shall notify Baumgardner and Yarbrough who are aboard the train, to begin the process of vigilance at once', Brunswick responded.
That night the murderer would prove to be superiorly evasive and the situation would embragle me that I would not agnise the consequence of the murders, without a consectary purview in my nitency. It also would become more of an inextricable predicament to avoid, and the case would require empiricutic evidence to support my argument on the pattern of the murders. The night was considerably eerie and dark, as the first individuals taking the train had gotten aboard, but I did notice that the number of persons, were not as much as the usual passengers of the train, and I had suspected that this was naturally attributed to the developing murders. Several hours then elapsed before it was the last hour for any passengers to take the train out of Melbourne. I was becoming impatient by the hour, and there were no tidings of the murderer or any reported incident yet. It appeared that the strict vigilance we had enforced had dissuaded or intimidated the killer, from committing another heinous act of death. However, that would not be the case, and another murder would betide, causing us to focus our total attention on resolving the murders therewith.
At around 10 o’clock or so, the murderer had struck again, and the infaust victim was a local clerk from the city. Apparently from the facts that were gleaned the murder had occurred during the trip, and the victim was found as with the other prior victims, with his throat slashed. It appeared that the killer had chosen meticulously this victim, due to the area the man was seated at. I divulge this suspicion because it was a place of indistinct light, and where the officers were impeded by the prestriction of the visibility. What was not obvious to me was the reason for the selection of this man, but I knew that this could be disclosed, with more investigative effort. The apposable facts that were extremely apposite to the case would corroborate that opinion and feasibility. It was a daring but still ineffective vigilance, since the murderer had killed again, and was not apprehended as I planned initially. In the end the only retrievable clew was the familiar thorny black rose that was left behind by the ingenuous murderer at first, until I began to examine the crime scene. There was much to consider from the horrendous murder, and the generality of our procedure that had dictated the definite course of the investigation. As was my wont, I carried always in my waistcoast, the fob of my pocket watch to base the hour of my inspection. My thoughts had begun to deduce a certain pattern that was manifest and reinforced, by the gradual process of time. We were inside of the compartment where the crime happened, and began to discuss the murder.
'It is clear that we are dealing with more than a crafty criminal, but a determined individual, whose mind may seem maniacal in nature. To me this individual demonstrates the manipulative pattern of a murderer, with one exception Brunswick', I stated.
'What is that exception sir, if I may query?' Brunswick asked me.
'The most elemental of all Brunswick, the murderer was not precipitous in the escape. You see Brunswick there is a repetitive need to kill always in the murderers, and this appetency for adventure and justification that compels them to not be detected. Of course there is always the case of those criminals who seek attention and publicity in their devious acts, but I do not believe this peculiar killer is seeking to be caught so easily', I acknowledged.
'How do you know that sir?' Brunswick enquired.
'In the modus operandi my dear Brunswick and I shall not be exaggerative in my exposition. I thought at first, if we could only find a soupçon of probative proof to connect the consecution of events unfolding, then the narrative of the crime would cease to be haunted, by a subtle aperçu that would no longer remain inexplicable and commonitive, such as the thorny black rose. I believe I have found that remarkable soupçon. Look at this torn piece of a black velvet dress that is hanging out of the seat of the victim who was murdered, and you will see that the blood stain is fresh, and another thing that is more important', I said before Brunswick interrupted me.
'A torn piece of a black velvet dress you say sir? But are you sure that it is a piece of a garment that belonged to a woman? I must confess that is not sufficient enough to make the determination of the gender sir'.
'The piece of the garment appears to be a dress of a woman if I am not mistaken in my analogy it was torn as the murderer escaped, but what you did not allow me to finish or demonstrate was a strand of the long dark hair hanging from the seat that denotes the texture of a woman's hair, if you touch it as I have done with a pair of gloves. Now, this can only mean two possibilities, the strand of the long black hair pertained to the man who was killed, or as I suspect the actual killer, who is probably a female. I shall not discept to the full extent the facts of the case with mere sophistry, unless there is further proof to convince me otherwise of my assumption; moreover the pattern of the murders is not incompossible to the succession of the events progressing. The solubility is no longer in the exactitude of the precise hour of the murder, but the involution lies in the predicative pretention of the incident itself', I replied.
'Then if I understand you sir, you are speaking of the connivance of the murderer?' Brunswick asked.
'Indeed my good man,' I replied.
We left the Southern Cross Railway Station, where once more the murder was committed, but not before we learned the destination and name of the victim who was murdered. His name was Joseph Beale, a well-established tailor originally from Sydney, and his destination was Sandringham. I was still not yet absolutely certain, why he was chosen as the victim, or this appersonation of the killer that led to an imposition that lacked any plausible inconcinnity, with the profile of the image of the culprit I had before. All I knew was based on mere conjectures of induction, and that the poor Mr. Beale had a regrettable funest encounter with the murderer. There was another piece of evidence that would dispute any possible paralogism to the truth of the facts, and that was something I had not heeded previously its quintessential implication. The murderer had made the distinction of being considerate or deliberate in the execution of every murder. I was so occupied with the thorny black rose that I had miss that important detail in my oversight. Even though, the murder was heinous in the manner it was accomplished, the killer did not exceed the necessary force to murder.
This involuted experience of capturing with noesis the intention of the murderer, who presently had not divagated much from the telic purport of the agenda that was sought, had not substantively allowed me to extemporise in my duties. The following morning while at the headquarters of the Victoria Police, a woman by the name of Mrs Holmwood had entered the building to offer us what would be at that moment, the most notable clew that we had. Apparently Mrs Holmwood had been at the train station shortly before the crime was committed, and had seen a particular woman dressed in complete black with a veil covering her face. When I asked her if she could describe me her features, she told me that she was of average height, and of average constitution. Perhaps that was not the empirical evidence that was needed, but it did offer me a valid point of corollary of which I could investigate. There was another odd but yet possible lead, a card that was left behind by this mysterious woman. It was most likely dropped by the woman, and had the name of a flower shop in Melbourne. The name of the flower shop was 'Buslingthorpe Blossoms', and I could only imagine the potential significance of this intimation.
The approach of Brunswick was peirastic, but I was more logical, and had a provisory doubt that required more substantial evidence. There was not much more that Mrs. Holmwood could give me in the way of proof, and I thanked her for the informative disclosure of the card and the description of the strange woman dressed in mournful attire. If with this lead I had discovered a piece of evidence that connoted the identity of the murderer, then naturally it would be more reflective of my consuetudes as much, as my prospections autexousiously. Thereafter speaking to Mrs Holmwood, I proceeded to head toward the flower shop that was aforementioned on the card. There I met a distinguished aristocratic woman by the name of Lady Helen Buslingthorpe, who was the proprietor of the flower shop. She was an amiable woman in her propriety, and her appearance I shall attempt to be as accurate as possible. She was average in height and weight, and her hair was fair as her complexion. She was perhaps in her mid-thirties and seemed to be from a prominent background. I have met many women before of couth and wit, but the Lady Buslingthorpe would be a woman like no other. I presented myself to her, with the utmost courtesy.
'Good afternoon my lady, I am Detective Crow. I hope I am not disturbing you, I only wanted to converse with you about a private matter'.
'Good day Detective Crow, what can I be of service to you sir?' She asked.
'I was wandering if you could answer several of my questions. Believe me, I shall attempt to be as prompt and direct as possible', I stated.
'Questions you say detective, such as what type of questions?' She insisted.
'Well, to be frank my lady', I said.
'Lady Buslingthorpe. Although I am a widow sir, I much prefer to be called, Lady Buslingthorpe than my lady!' She responded.
'I consider myself at times a verbivore, but this sesquipedalian appellation of yours is an uncommon name I have seldom heard of in England. As I was saying Lady Buslingthorpe, I came here to know if you could tell me if your store has sold a lot of black thorny roses recently; and whether or not it was frequent for these particular roses to be sold and seen so visibly throughout the city', I said to her.
'And your language is not the common parlance one sees much in this area Detective Crow. As for the black thorny rose it evokes sentiments of mystery, peril, or some darker emotion like melancholy or compulsive love; even though to me, compulsive love can be more measured as tainted love'. She hesitated before she continued, 'I am certain even an Englishman such as you sir, is aware of the rising phenomenon of the Victorian cult of mourning?'
'The Victorian cult of mourning, you say Lady Buslingthorpe? I must confess through my admission that I only know the rudimentary connotation of this selcouth cult. Perchance, you will be so kind to inform me what I need to know about this cult Lady Buslingthorpe', I acknowledged.
She was equanimous in her reply, 'Unfortunately, I am no expert on the matter and I don't want to be perceived as an ultracrepidarian—but if I can be of any more service to you Detective Crow, I would suggest that you visit our Melbourne Museum that is located in the city block between the streets of La Trobe, Swanston, Little Lonsdale and Russell. There you will find all the pertinent information about the Victorian cult of mourning sir'.
'I shall keep that in mind Lady Buslingthorpe, but I must be on my way now. I shall be excusing myself for now!' I kindly said to her.
'Oh do return Detective Crow. It is not often that I meet a celeberrimus individual such as yourself sir. I was wondering detective, if you have time this night to join me as my bidden guest to the theatre. The theatres and museums offer an eclectic mix of art. I was told that you enjoy the theatre, is that not so sir?' She said and then asked intriguingly.
'I must confess that I was not aware that my private inclinations were so overtly known in these parts of the world’, I answered.
'Your fame precedes you wherever you go Detective Crow. Now, you have not answered truthfully my question', she persisted.
'In all honesty Lady Buslingthorpe, I am afraid that at the present time, I cannot afford to deliciate any leisure time that would distract me from the case I am working on', I declared.
She understood, but I beheld a very puissant gaze in her eyes that exuded, such a persuasive feminine dominion over men that even had me in a momentary trance. After all, she was not a prepossessing sight, and her wonderful features were arresting and singular. Once I had bedawed from my temporary magnetism, I headed to the Melbourne Museum to investigate the anonymous cult of mourning, and what I discovered there was of a morbid fascination and peculiar obsession with death. There I found a heavy volume of books that spoke at length to this eerie phenomenon. The following contents I reveal are indeed disturbing in nature, but very descriptive. Victorian society had imposed a stringent protocol for the observance of rituals related to death. In accordance to the principles expounded this ritual began, with the widowed Queen Victoria in 1861 in England, after the loss of her beloved husband the Prince Consort Albert. This manner of death was mortalised, by contemporary literature and the arts. Burial and commemoration ceremonies were dire tokens of remembrance of the dead that included items of jewelry and keepsakes in the tombs. The thistle was a reminder for the Scottish, the shamrock for the Irish, and the rose for the English. They were clearly the symbols of death, and in respect to the dead, the curtains were drawn and clocks were stopped at the time of death. Mirrors were covered, due to the superstition that the spirit of the deceased could become trapped, within the reflective glass. The draped urns, broken columns, extinguishing torches were used to represent the frailty of human life in bereavement.
In order to understand this process more at length, I made the conscious decision to visit the funeral procession of one of the recent victims of the black rose widow, and when I reached the procession I saw the horses of the hearse that were fitted with black and silver trappings, and a laurel wreath was placed on top of the hearse as it gradually passed by. The clergyman had entered a carriage, which headed the procession, and the coffin was placed inside the hearse. Beside the hearse, there were the six bearers with three on each side of the hearse, and a carriage following the relatives behind attentively. The hearse was draped in dark with black plumes, as mourners wore black for the symbolic of spiritual murk. The dresses of the women were made of non-reflective paramatta silk or the inexpensive known bombazine, and they were equally trimmed with a conspicuous crape. The embodiment of this process, were the elegiac ullagones that preceded the memorable dirge. I had seen enough to convince me that the issue of death was complex in nature, and sadly attached to the evolution of this case. It also had bedawed my awareness and resolution that I had pondered the limits of extrapolative extrasensory perception. I returned to the headquarters of the Victoria Police. There I began to converse with Captain Clapperton and Officer Brunswick, as they listened.
'Brunswick, you would not believe me, if I told you that death is an expostulatory provocation, within an explicable occurrence. It may confusticate you, and adaw you with the horror seen, but it is nothing more, than a farrago of fact and legend that has been hyperbolic in its nimiety', I said.
'I am afraid I don’t understand your point sir!' Brunswick uttered.
'It is fundamental Brunswick. You see, we have wanted to grasp the unfolding events and the profile of the killer, but we have failed miserably in that endeavour', I said.
'I am afraid I still don’t understand sir!' Brunswick reiterated.
'I too sir don’t follow,' Captain Clapperton replied.
'I shall expound in the simplest manner. The killer has been attempting to cozen us to believe that the train station is the central factor to these murders, when it is only a fraction of the deception. You see my good fellows the murderer has been deceiving us, since the beginning', I stated.
'What do we do next then sir?' Brunswick enquired.
'We trap the killer!' I answered.
'How do we exactly do that Detective Crow?' Clapperton asked.
'By checking every passenger who will board the train, or had boarded the train already, at either train station in the city', I explained.
I had instructed Brunswick to keep the stern vigilance at the train station, and Captain Clapperton had enquired about imposing a curfew on the residents of the city. I did not believe that enforcing a curfew on the city was necessary, since the murders were committed aboard the train, and not amongst the random populace. I had in my hand a list finally of the purchasers of the black roses not only purchased in the store of Lady Buslingthorpe, but as well from the other stores, whilst I had Brunswick peruse the list of the past and present passengers of the train stations within Melbourne. There was not much to be deciphered from the list of the flower shops at that moment, but what I did find suspecting was the passenger’s list. There was reportedly one particular incident, where a passenger had forgotten the train ticket, but was allowed to proceed with the trip by the ticket collector. It was no doubt our killer, and the indicative intimation was that it transpired on the day that Mr Beale had been murdered, and when the mysterious card was found by Mrs Holmwood afterward. Yes, the same card that had the name of Johnstone Blossoms, and that was in itself perhaps more than circumstantial.
Thus, I told Brunswick to send one of the officers to the flower shop of the Lady Buslingthorpe, whilst I along with Brunswick left the headquarters at Mackenzie Street, and headed toward the train station at Southern Cross Railway Station on Spencer Street. Meanwhile Captain Clapperton would be at the Flinders Street Railway Station, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Street. It was extremely important that we encroached on the murderer’s obstinate determination to execute the ghastly deed. I could not help but ponder in the depth of my mind, if this coincidence of the mysterious passenger that was permitted by the ticket collector to proceed did not correspond only to the profile of the killer, but as well, to the pattern used by that killer. I was absolutely convinced then that the murderer had been conniving us, since the very beginning. But yet the identity of the killer had not been resolved, and that was lingering importunately. The notion of a woman being the culprit was seemingly more possible, with each revealing detail. First there was the illustrative black veil and dress, and then there was the haunting thorny black rose that was discovered at every murder committed. The daunting image of the darkled rose had begun to occupy my thoughts, and for a brief interval of time, I had connected the face of the murderer with the beautiful Lady Buslingthorpe. However, there was not sufficient evidence to suggest concretely that conclusion, and the suspect was at large. The case had evolved to the point, where it would require my careful perception and action to confirm my postulate.
I knew that it would be too noticeable and a risky manoeuvre, if I continued to question forthright the Lady Buslingthorpe in person. Therefore, I waited for the officer that I had instructed to speak to her, to divulge me any applicable evidence. The gender of the killer was still considered an inconnu, and any descriptive appearance stated on paper was merely an ipse dixit. In order to propound my theory, I had to concoct a plan to prove or disprove any discernible affirmation of the Lady Buslingthorpe’s possible involvement in the murders. I had remembered her gracious invitation to the theatre, and I sensed that this would be the opportunity for me to efface any vacillating doubt I had of her. When the officer returned I scrutinised the names on that list, and had the officers assembled to investigate these individuals in surveillance, while I visited the Lady Buslingthorpe at her home. Her residence was a palatial mansion, amongst the luxurious terrace houses in Melbourne that had luxuriant foliage in the garden nigh. She was surprised to see me at her house, but was pleased for my visit. When she enquired if my visit was of official business or of leisure time, I made known of my intentions. I had told her that I had accepted her kind invitation to the theatre, and when she asked me why I had changed my opinion, I told her that I could not let the opportunity pass as an Englishman of not seeing Shakespeare's play 'King Lear', which was playing at the Princess Theatre on the East End Theatre District of Spring Street.
She was delighted and agreed to join me that night at the theatre. I did not suspect that she was suspicious of my devisement, but she was indeed a very perceptible woman, who could not be so easily betrumped, with a gallimaufry of inscrutable events. That night whilst I was at the theatre with the Lady Buslingthorpe, the captain and the other officers were executing the plan we had originated, for the capture of the black rose widow. Once at the theatre we sat down in our seats, and waited for the play to commence. During the whole time at the theatre not once did she react in an unconventional manner; instead, she was immovable and entertained. I was on the other hand more concentrative and observant, although I tried to maintain my observance of her discreetly. The reason I had accompanied her to the theatre was not only to prove or disprove my theory of her being the likely black rose widow killer, but it would allow me to determine the time period of the night. This was extremely important, because if she was with me, then that meant she was not killer. However, if there was no murder on that night, then she was still a suspect of great interest. I was mindful of the strong depiction of the gradual descent into madness of the main character in the play, but yet I did not truly perceive her to be taciturn and morose completely about the play. On the contrary, I thought she was more adamant and talkative about the fripperies of the play, when the play had finished afterwards. The night would only begin to intensify in absolute suspense, as Brunswick had located me and informed me that there was another murder committed. I had excused myself from the Lady Buslingthorpe to speak to Brunswick. This time the murder occurred, at the Flinders Street Viaduct that was a railway bridge.
'The Flinders Street Viaduct you say Brusnswick? Is that not a railway bridge?' I asked him.
'Yes sir, that is correct!' Brunswick replied.
'Good God, then am I to assume that the killer has escaped?' I enquired.
'No sir, the murderer is dead!’ He affirmed.
'Dead, but how?' I asked.
'Apparently, the man who was dressed in a black dress and black veil leaped out of the train, and somehow the garment had got entangled with the exit door, and as we attempted to seize him, he fell under the train and his torso was immediately dissevered regrettably sir', Brunswick stated.
'Man, you said that he was dressed in a black dress and black veil? Then what you are affirming Brunswick is of a very serious nature', I answered.
'Yes, I know that sir, but we believe that our killer was this man. Yes it is true that it was thought the killer was a woman, but the man’s slight frailty does match the description of the witnesses', Brunswick rejoined.
'Then let us go to the train station at once! But not before I excuse myself from the Lady Buslingthorpe', I said.
I noticed that when I spoke to her, she was keen to my conversation with Brunswick and commented, 'You seem to be a bit odd since the play ended Detective Crow. Your pensive look perhaps is elsewhere. Oh I do hope that I was not interfering from your duties in the case sir'.
'None of your doing my lady, and if you will excuse me, I am afraid I shall not be escorting you to your mansion. I shall have one of the officers escort you to your home,' I told her.
When I arrived at the crime scene, the sanguinolent walls were covered with the pungency of a defunctive nature. The videndum of the murder was tinctured, in an umbratilous shade of the night that was tainted with the sanguiferous blood. It was a gruesome image of death, and the victim who was covered in a blanket was badly beaten by a cudgel it would appear. Once I noticed this, I was confounded but at the same time convinced that this murder was not perpetuated by the black rose widow. The modus operandi was not identical in the pattern and cruelty of the death. I did not want to dissuade Brunswick's investigative prowess, but it was my duty to inform him of the stark contrast of method implemented in the murders. Thus, once I demonstrated this to him, he quickly realised that obvious and indubitable distinction. However, if this man was not the killer, then I wondered who was? I quickly told Brunswick to not identify the dead culprit—for it was of great interest to the case that we not dismissed yet this man from the public eye and the rumours of the local newspapers. The reporters were everywhere, and it was impossible to disperse them, since the murderer of that night was lying dead under the bridge covered in thick pools of blood. It was then that while I was standing before the train I saw the lucency from the lights of the train station and had contemplated that natural definement. I knew then the true pattern of the killer, and I immediately instructed Brunswick to not mention anything disproving the male murderer, as the actual culprit of the other murders.
When he queried, I told him that it would not be beneficial to acknowledge that this man was not the black widow murderer, since the real killer was still on the loose. Brunswick agreed, and we left the train station returning to the headquarters of the Victoria Police. The next morning, one of the officers had identified the murderer from the previous night, as Mr Paul Derrington, a local from Melbourne. But what was more paramount was the fact that he was recently mistakenly released from the Melbourne Gaol. The gaol was a bluestone building and courtyard, next to the police watch-house and city court building. It had a north wing, central hall and chapel, with a perimeter wall. There we spoke to the chief warder, a Mr Anderson, who proceeded to inform us that the man was a prisoner, but was mentally incapacitated and was suffering from acute madness. What was interesting was the fact that his wife came by every day to visit him, and odd as it was, our visit coincided with her visit. I assumed that the widow had come to speak to the warder, about the death of her husband. Of the wife of the deceased madman, I can say only that I noticed this verbigerative speech of hers that denoted her symptoms of lunacy. Soon she left, but not before she offered a harsh warning that I should beware of the women that I associate with. I did not pay attention, and thought that she was in the grieving process of mourning her former husband. I was confident enough to then dismiss this man as the black widow murderer. I gathered Captain Clapperton and the others around the table to discuss our newest plan. I did not mention who the killer was, because I did not possess any concrete evidence to absolutely prove my assumption. What I mentioned to them was that I was certain that with this plan we would at last capture our criminal. Thus upon that night, we would finally apprehend our evasive criminal. I had offered myself to be the participative victim, and I had explained in full details the reason and the plan to the officers, who were involved in the proposition.
The plan was the following, I was to board the train incognito and be seated in one of the passenger's seat in the rear compartment, whilst Officer Brunswick was at the front compartment, and Captain Clapperton remained behind in the middle compartments. It was determined that the murderer had killed the victims in the front or rear compartments, where there was little visibility and fewer passengers. We had officers at the other trains stations prepared as well. The murderer also knew the hour, when the ticket collector passed to collect the tickets. It would be reported by the newspapers that the case was solved, and I was returning to England. That night all was according to plan, and we were all in our positions. The passengers got on board, and the train began to depart. Apparently, the murders were also committed at the hour, when the train was not completely full. It was then that at approximatively 10.15 that a mysterious woman rose to from her seat, and walked passed me. She was dressed normally and there was nothing to indicate that she was the killer, until I noticed the soles of her shoes that were exactly the same soles that were found in the footprints of the first murder that I had investigated. The train then reached a point of little visibility and light, and all of sudden the view was grim and dull. As I was observing I noticed that another woman passed me by, and it was no other than the Lady Buslingthorpe. For some intuitive reason, I got up and followed them both. They appeared to be heading toward the female lavatory, as I approached.
Then as I got closer, I heard a loud scuffle and a woman swiftly opened the door and attempted to flee. She was dressed in all black with a veil covering her face, and the woman's black dress was made of a scratchy silk with a peculiar crimped appearance. I saw another woman lying on the floor with a pool of blood. It was the Lady Buslingthorpe on the floor, and barely conscious. The woman had a long sharp butcher's knife in her hand, and we tousled until I grabbed the knife from her, and knocked her onto the ground. When she rose to her feet, it was too late the commotion had alerted the passengers and the others. When Officer Brunswick and Captain Clapperton arrived, I lifted up the woman's veil and saw that it was the guise of Mrs Derrington the widow. She was the black rose widow killer, and she was arrested afterwards and taken into custody. It was by mere coincidence that the Lady Buslingthorpe was attacked and on board the train. The likelihood that she was attacked was because she saw the murderer. The victim was supposed to be another person aboard the train, and fortunately he was not harmed. It was finally over and this incredible case was solved by the Victoria Police of Melbourne and naturally by me, a conscientious detective from Scotland Yard. Of the facts I shall relate that the reason for the murderous spree of Mrs Derrington was not only madness but as well, to seek an enraged revenge on those members of the jury who condemned her husband. The infamous blacky thorny rose was used to distract the authorities, but it had become her favourite rose. As for the Lady Buslingthorpe she was not seriously injured or wounded, and she recuperated well from her minor gashes. She thanked me for rescuing her and saving her life from the dreadful killer, and once she had recuperated, I invited her to the theatre. This time we saw and enjoyed Macbeth by Shakespeare, as I learned she was a woman who drew a bow at a venture. The perspicacity of her remarks, were always a contrast to her daring persona and hubris as a woman. I could posit a perfectible justification for her audacity, but I could not deny that despite her contradictions, she was an exemplary woman.