'It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic'.-Edgar Allan Poe
Mystery was always the obvious inducement for my fascination to unravel its uncertain enigma, and therefore, I procured with a constant resolution, to solve all the inscrutable mysteries that were considered irresoluble. And from amongst those unsolved mysteries was perhaps the most challenging yet to resolve. This particular and formidable case, that I disclose willingly was to be known by many, as 'The coffins of the Aberdeen ruse'.
It was the year 1899, when this incredible case had occurred, in the City of Aberdeen, Scotland. For those who are not acquainted with my illustrious name then, I shall present myself, through the mere admission of my character. I am Jack Cauvain, a punctilious and determined chief inspector. I had never encountered ere, a foe that was not unpredictable in his subterfuge, or a case that was ever impossible to unmask its intricate derivation. However, the nature of the contrivance exploited in this case was of arrant deception.
I was at the building of 23 Whitehall Place in London, when I was informed through an urgent telegraph of the shocking murders that were betiding in the city of Aberdeen. I was soon aware of the insufficient details of the case, but there was one thing that I was not related, and that was the unusual discovery of unmistakable coffins of unsightly cadavers. The day was Monday, the first day of the week, and the month was November, a cold and unwelcoming time in the Northeastern part of Scotland.
Naturally, I had taken the train from London to Aberdeen, and once I had arrived at last after a long trip across the extensive countryside, I immediately spoke to the officer in charge of the Aberdeen Police Station, whose name was Officer Duncan Galloway. I could see in his visible expression that there was this unsettling solicitude that was distressing him. He had given me recent information of the case that I was not prevalent of, during my trip to the city.
Then, I was escorted to the crime scene, where instead of discovering the gruesome evidence in one of the transited streets of the city, the crime scene was in the eeriest location ever imagined, a room of the Town House of what was known, as Old Aberdeen that was once a separate burgh. When I had reached the building and descried the horrific cadaver within the coffin, what I saw was a stiff and decaying body that reeked, with extreme putrefaction. It was manifest that the corpse was of an unidentified individual, but the identity was undetermined, as was, who had placed the cadaver in the coffin, within that area in the first place. The cadaver resembled the guise of a middle-aged woman, and it was too gloomy or opaque to decipher my enquiry, with a pointless supposition. There was another patent detail of the coffin, and that was the unusual symbol located on the top part of the middle of the wooden coffin. This peculiar symbol had warranted my participation in the case.
'What dae ye surmise has occurrit inspector?' Officer Galloway asked, with his thick Scottish brogue.
'Judging from the scant evidence provided Galloway, there is very little at the moment, we can surmise. However, there are undeniable details that have arrested my attention forthwith', I replied.
'And whit are these details?'
'If you stare closely at the decomposition of the body, you will see precisely what I have seen, the rigor mortis, or the process of the expiry'.
'The process o the expiry, whit dae ye mean?' Galloway insisted.
I had exemplified what I was alluding to, 'There look, at the fine lineaments, the gaunt discolouration of the countenance, and the markings on the neck-for they are evidence of strangulation in my expert opinion. The victim was choked to death, by what most likely appears to be achieved, by constant pressure applied to the gullet'.
'And the mysterious symbol? Whit is yer conclusion?'
'My illation you ask? First, the symbol appears to be a representation of a bound chain of some archetypal fixation, and this could denote the symbol of a cult. Second, the murder was committed, within the span of one to four days. Finally, the cadaver was placed here specifically, for a purpose. Therefore, it is clear that we are dealing with an unsolved murder and based on the limited facts of the case, the likelihood of the collaboration of a furtive cult does seem feasible, but not totally proven'.
'Then, whit is the neist step?'
'That all depends on the murderer, and if what we are confronting here in Aberdeen, is reduced to the unhinged mind of a madman or the irrational acts of a contemptible cult within the area. Sadly enough, I have dealt with manifold cases of the obsessive inclusion of cults or secret societies that have resulted, in such an inordinate amount of time to dawdle'.
After we had departed the Town House of Old Aberdeen, we headed towards the Police Station in the city, where we gleaned from the press cuttings and the depositions of the few witnesses interviewed. Along the way, I had marvelled at the wonderful scenery of the city and the contingency of a series of premeditated murders transpiring within the majestic composition of Aberdeen. It was my first visit to the city, and my knowledge of Aberdeen was not very abundant or instructive.
Once we had arrived at the station, I met the other officers who were assisting Galloway and me. We then spoke to the previous witnesses, who had discovered the decomposing cadavers in the coffins that were found. None of the witnesses had divulged any pertinent information that precluded, or concluded any incontrovertible facts. They all seemed to corroborate each other's version, and that they did not see any one present, when they discovered the coffins. The blatant admission of the description of the culprit did limit our attempt to make an actual depiction of the murderer's constitution. What was known of the case was that the coffins were being found in distinctive areas of the city, and with ghastly cadavers of recently killed individuals inside of them. As for the unique symbol on the coffins, that was I felt the indicative implication behind the identity of the murderer's agenda. The question was what was the prime objective and ultimate aspiration?
Unfortunately, I would not have time to speculate much, or formulate with precise accuracy my ratiocinative theory or presuppositions. I expounded on my induction behind the possible motive of the murders to Galloway and the others, as we gathered around the table pensively. I mused the time period that had elapsed, before and after the coffins and cadavers were first reported. It was paramount that we established a time period for the murders, even though we were only basing our thoughts on indeterminate conjectures that were substantially impartial to the truth, at that moment in time. I had known from my lengthy experience, with these cases that the evidence left behind by the criminals was intrinsically intertwined, with the cause that was being evoked, as a veracious intimation of their grievances.
Deciphering the symbol was perchance not the most demanding issue to resolve. What I thought elemental was contemplating the profile of the killer, since the fundamental component of the criminal was his ability to evade captivity and the detection of any watchful witnesses. I was not completely concerned yet, with the vivid description of the culprit, instead, my concentration was more busied, with the few facts that were retrieved. I was mindful of the pertinence of that concomitant responsibility.
That night a curfew was imposed on the inhabitants of Aberdeen, and although there was a mild remonstrance demonstrated by a certain percentage of the population, the curfew was authorised afterwards. It was not comfortable to implement such a drastic measure as a curfew upon any city, but the number of murders had increased to eight, with this last murder committed. From the indistinctive pattern deduced according to the evidence collected, the need to apprehend the criminal and his attachment to any cult was essential and necessitated our exigency. However, it would require superb introspection or further deliberation that denoted the initiative plainly of the murderer.
For the nonce, we remained highly attentive for the remainder of the night, wondering, pondering, if the culprit would be emboldened to commit another murder, and if we would discover any cadaver in a coffin. That night no murders were reported of this nature, but when I awoke the following morning as I was lying in my bed at the local hotel, I would be informed that the killer had struck again. And this time, the cadaver in the coffin would be located in the cellar of Gilcomston Church, on the corner of the main thoroughfare of Union Street. It took me only several minutes to arrive from the Caledonian Hotel to the church, and when I did, Galloway was there in the cellar waiting for me.
'Sir, the murderer has perpetuatit another crime i aberdeen. Apparently, the murderer's regard tae religious sanctuaries, daes no say much o his irreverent respect'.
'Respect you say Galloway, I am afraid that you are sorely mistaken in your analogy; religion has no part in the matter, except when madmen choose to elicit its name for their cause. That is called manipulation for profit and regrettably, I have seen that often in my time as a sleuth. Now tell me, what have you to inform me?'
He had proceeded to tell me the details of the coffin that was located in the dark and clammy cellar of the church, 'Whit Aye can acknowledge is nothin different than, wi the previous murders, another cadaver wi a coffin inside. But thare is somethin very important thon is pressin sir'.
'What is that Galloway?'
'We have a potential clue thon coud steer us i the richt direction!'
'At last a worthy intimation to follow. Good God-don't tarry any longer, and tell me, what is this potential clue?'
He had showed me a train ticket that was found on the floor outside of the coffin and said, 'Aye hope this piece o evidence, can begin tae unravel the mystery'.
'Perhaps! Notwithstanding, we must proceed with caution-for even though it might signify a valuable clue, we are not assured of its obtainable importance. We must investigate the origin of the train ticket at once'.
Whilst I had remained at the crime scene, Galloway had left the church and headed to the railway by the square. I had instructed him to query at the station, for the hours and routes of the train. What we had known about the ticket was its destination and its departure, as well the hours. The destination was Aberdeen, but the departure was from the village of Cruden Bay, which was forty-two kilometres north of Aberdeen. I was somewhat sanguine that Galloway would ascertain the information required, or at least have a schedule.
During the time that Galloway had embarked on his task, I had begun to examine with precision the cellar, for any other clues of pertinency. What had been proven so far, was that the cadavers were still recent, and the deaths due to definite strangulations. There were opposite thoughts in my mind that were converging gradually, and one of those sundry thoughts was the contingency of the killer being, an undertaker or a sexton. I noticed as with the prior cadavers, the shroud had specks of residual dust. It was the very same dust that one would expect to find, within the soil of a graveyard.
There was another strange clue that I had failed to construe from the first murders, the coffins were freshly made, and this did not escape my magnified percipiency. It was another indisputable indication of this growing supposition of mine that was becoming more feasible by the minute. I had departed the cellar of the church and allowed the rector to continue with his regular duties at the church, whilst I returned to the Police Station in anticipation of what tidings Galloway had for me.
When Galloway had returned from the train station, he informed me that he had spoken with the ticket collector, who knew the hours of the departure and destination of each and every trip of the train recorded. This was not the momentous tidings that would be apposite, instead, it was the rest of the information he had that would prove very indispensable to the investigation. Galloway disclosed a correlative supposition that had yet to be considered, and that was that the criminal was not from Aberdeen, but from outside of the city.
In this case, he was perchance from the small village of Cruden Bay. Even though, there was still not adequate proof to directly make that logical premise, the thought of that eventuality was foreseeable. The contemplation of the murderer being a sexton or an undertaker was not irreconcilable, but more attainable to the details uncovered of the case. I cogitated with an acute attention, the modus operandi of the killer, and came to the sudden realisation that this possibility was becoming more plausible. This would require an impeccable confirmation that could be discerned. There was a lot of evidence to be retrieved, and information of the culprit to be determined. I had revealed my discovery and theory of the murders at the Town House to Galloway therewith, and he acceded to my cogent assumption of the undertaker or sexton.
We had preconceived that night the killer would strike again, and would attempt to conceal his victim in a coffin, within the city. The pattern of the murders was resulting predictably, except in one thing that was circumstantial, the place of the murders and their placement. Despite the curfew imposed it was inevitable that the morning would be fraught, with such terror that would continue to disturb and affright the inhabitants of Aberdeen. It was my duty as a man of law that I applied my superlative supererogation, with each case that I was in charge of.
I was conscious of the inference of the case, and the strategy that we were undertaking, but I did not have a positive description of the murderer. I could not sleep that night, as I sensed another murder was to befall. I would not be mistaken, and the door would knock on my hotel chamber. It was Galloway informing me that another cadaver was located in Aberdeen and this time, inside the backstage of the Music Hall on Union Street, within the centre of the city. Once at the Music Hall, I could only reflect with a profound rumination, about my peirastic concept behind the identity of the murderer. Immediately, I was observant and examined the coffin along with the deceased body to see, if the previous clues I had discovered at the church were identical with the coffin in the theatre.
'Without a doubt, we are dealing with a cult Galloway!' I ejaculated.
'How dae ye know thon inspector?' Galloway remarked.
'Trust me, I can state unequivocally that not one man is behind these murders. Moreover, look at the coffin, there is no soil to be found, or any evidence of the coffin resembling the dishevelled nature of the other coffins. The coffin is not as old as the other ones. I would dare to say, this coffin is of fine wrought oak'.
'Aye am afeard thon Aye dae no follow'.
'That is simple! An undertaker or a sexton would not be that precise in disposing a body into a coffin, and one as elegant as this one impetuously. Either the murderer is on to us and is attempting to hoodwink us, or he has as I believe, an accomplice'.
'That is for us to identify, and it will not be an easy pursuit'.
'Thus, whit are we tae dae neist?' Galloway insisted.
'Find the murderer! I uttered.
'That is the question yet to be decided. But trust me, I shall find him sooner than later. You see, he will make an irrational mistake. This I have learnt effectively, with the criminal mind. They are always self-indulgent and haughty in nature, and this behaviour they cannot control'.
As we were gathered in the backstage, I had perceived the nearby presence of a stranger within the theatre. Slowly, I walked to the auditorium and looked up at the lofty balcony, where I saw an emerging hand closing the velvet silk curtains. Quickly, I went up the stairway on to the balcony, and when I arrived there was no one present, except the curator of the theatre. He was standing, and he did not appear to be unusually startled, by my presence. Therefore, I left him tending to the strapontins found in the aisles, and climbed down the stairway.
Galloway had asked the reason, why I had climbed on to the balcony, and what were we to effectuate next. I calmly responded by telling him that I was there, because I had seen perhaps something odd, but in the end it was nothing of importance. And for his second question, I made a bold suggestion that would ultimately change the progressive course of the investigation. I suggested that we visited the graveyards of Aberdeen. Galloway at first was not certain if I was jesting, but I made my thoughts expressed to him, in the most explicable manner. Whether or not I was correct in assuming that there were, several argute individuals involved in the murders would totally depend, on what we discovered afterwards. This was the viable option we had at that stage of the case.
We had visited numerous graveyards, from the Dryce Cemetery to Newhills and Hazlehead. There appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary that would be of much signification at those graveyards, until we had visited the Trinity Cemetery, at the end of Errol Street, between King Street, and the road to Old Aberdeen. The cemetery was a very isolated place as to be expected, and we were confronted, with a damp and chilly mist that was covering the circumference of the city. I was not overtly concerned with the fog that was visibly seen, instead, with the presumption that I had intrepidly pondered.
Once at the Trinity Cemetery, we sought to speak to the local sexton. Apparently, he was not available, since I looked around the tombstones and did not see him. Perhaps, the sexton was not present, or was his service not required upon that day. Galloway was still not confident enough to know, what we were searching for in the cemeteries. I was to explain the motive, when I descried from the corner of my eye, the conspicuous guise of the sexton, who was in the far corner of the cemetery, shovelling some grime from the ground, for a newly fresh grave that was to be the interment of a corpse to be buried. Galloway followed me, as I approached the sexton, with an eagerness to procure answers to the pending question that was troubling me, the dubious identity of the culprits.
'Good evening sir, I am Inspector Cauvain, and I shall not take much of your time, but I would like to speak to you, for a few minutes', I said.
'Gad e'ening, inspector. Whit can Aye dae for ye sir?' The sexton replied.
'I was wondering, if you could be so kind to answer a question that I had'.
'O cours, white'er servis Aye can be tae ye'.
'Good, since you are the sexton of this cemetery, you would be the most indicative of making a reasonable distinction'.
'Whit exactly are, ye wantin tae know?' He expressed.
'I want to know, how much time would elapse, if one would haul a coffin from one place to another?' I daringly queried.
'O, it depends!'
'True! For the sake of this conversation, let us say, from any of the cemeteries in Aberdeen, to the centre of the city'.
'Methink thon it wad tak no much time bi carriage, but o course, thon is only pur speculation. Thon is aw'.
'15 to 20 minutes, do you not agree?'
'Aye shoud jolly well hope sae!'
'Good, that is all Mr', I paused.
'Mr Craig!' He said.
'Thank you, Mr Craig!'
'What is sae relevant aboot thon quaisten?' Galloway asked me inquisitively.
'Relevant enough to offer me a convincing argument of the pattern of the murder', I said.
'Hou?' Galloway had queried.
'I shall expound my presupposition! First, the murderer is crafty enough to know and calculate the distance from the cemeteries to the junction of the city. Second, by using the disguise of a sexton, the criminal can be perceived, with undergoing a serious task. Third, the possibility of the ostensible implication of a cult behind the murders. Fourth, the murderer had effectively planned not only the murders, but the locations as well. However the most telling evidence is the soil. Go ahead and feel the texture of the soil in your fingers. You see, you will notice that the soil is the same soil found, in the coffins with the cadavers inside. Yes Galloway, our suspect is not a suspect, but suspects! Now, the question that remains in my mind is whether our suspects are from Aberdeen-or are they from outside the city, such as Cruden Bay?'
We had departed the cemetery and returned to the Police Station, where with contemplation, we devised our subtle options. I did not forget the mysterious symbol, and I promptly instructed Galloway to speak to the editors of the local newspapers of Aberdeen. I knew from my experiences in previous investigations that, although the press was variable when it came to equitable coverage, the villains were always drawn to the instant recognition and temptation of fame.
Whilst Galloway was occupied with that task, I meditated the probable cause of the murders and the recondite purport of the murderers. It was extremely vital that these remaining facts be apodictic. It didn't take long before, we would have our decisive response to the decipherment of the confounding symbol. A gentleman by the name of Montgomery Morrison had answered our plea, as he appeared at the Police Station, willing to offer his utilitarian assistance to the case. He was a studious young man, but intelligent and knowledgeable about the subject of the hidden symbol, and the cult it represented. According to Mr Morrison, the symbol was an actual representation of the secret society called the 'Oddfellows'. This was the first occasion that I ever knew of this existential group, and it would be an instituted organisation that would contradict all that it defined, as its integral principles.
'Can you elaborate more?' I had asked.
'Of course inspector! The mysterious symbol that you have found on the coffins with triple links, is a recurring symbol amongst the Oddfellows nationally and internationally, connoting the motto of 'Amicitia Amor et Veritas', 'Friendship, Love and Truth'. The Oddfellows also, is a fraternity consisting of lodges, since 1730 in London. In the mid-18th century following the Jacobite risings, the fraternity split into the rivaling Order of the Patriotic Oddfellows in southern England, who favoured William III of England, and the Ancient Order of Oddfellows in northern England and Scotland favoured the House of Stuart. The Scottish Order of Oddfellows has been established throughout the country for nearly a year, and their seal is known as the Seal of the Sovereign Grand Lounge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, which is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal order that has operated in England since 1842. Their mission is to broadly improve and elevate the moral influence of individuals, for the unconditional betterment of humanity. But I have never encountered any unstable member of this fraternity, who has admitted to have committed an atrocious act of murder', Mr Morrison confessed.
'They never do Mr Morrison!'
He then recalled a similar occurrence in Manchester ten years ago, 'There were coffins of cadavers found in different places of the city, and an identified man was soon apprehended and found guilty of committing the heinous acts'.
'Do you remember his name? Think, it is exceedingly of great importance to the case'.
'I believe, his name was Callum MacClure'.
At least, I had a valid point of reference to avail, and Callum MacClure was perhaps the murderer or the man behind the compoundable machination. It was clearly evident that the components of this case were slowly evolving, in an incontrovertible conformity. This anonymous person held the key to solving the enigma of this case, and I was fully prepared to meet him. We had to investigate, if this obscure individual was still alive or dead. All that was known about him was his name, and the dastardly crimes he perpetuated in Manchester.
That was ten years ago, but I was not assured that he was living in Manchester still. I was very optimistic that he was not dead and was attached to the succession of murders either by mere association, or by senseless guilt. I had sent a telegram to Manchester, and in particular, to the Manchester Police, enquiring about critical information of the case. I would have to wait in the morning, for my answer.
Meanwhile, the only thing we could do was to continue the curfew and our diligent investigation. Instead of waiting in my hotel chamber, I decided to join the officers, who were patrolling the ample streets that night of Aberdeen, hoping to find some new clues that could exceed the evidence we had already. Galloway had also wanted to join the patrolling, and I acquiesced. Identifying the suspicious cult of the 'Oddfellows', had given me enough probability to secure my purposive thoughts in a sequential order. I was even more resolute in my intention to solve this irresistible mystery and case, with the utmost assiduity and certitude.
Fortuity was not what I was expecting to prevail or resolve these murders with, instead, optimum resolve that was conducive to the result I was seeking in the end. On that night the dauntless murderer would make his first mistake, and one that would be irresponsible of his action. I was at the Tivoli Theatre in Guild Street, with Galloway at Capital Theatre on Union Street. The buildings of Aberdeen were made of solid quarried grey granite, which sparkled like scintillating silver. I waited and waited for any translucent sign of a murder, and as I was biding my time, I noticed there was blood that was trickling gradually unto the underground sewer nigh.
When I had reached the sewer, a waggon had swiftly passed by, as I saw the head of a dead woman hanging out of the waggon. Forthwith, I alerted the officers who were with me, and the sound of the whistles blew loudly. However, the waggon continued forth, and we followed it along the path, towards the harbour of Victoria Dock, where the left wheel of the waggon we were following had spun out of control and crashed, by a row of containers of provisions. The driver was yet inside and conscious, though barely moving and audible. When we had reached the waggon to see the identity of the driver, we were startled to discover that it was the sexton Mr Craig, and the deceased woman appeared to be, the recent murder of this case.
The victim was a lovely young woman, who apparently was strangled to death. Her neck bore the vivid marks of strangulation, as her expression was listless and wan. Her eyes were still opened and had a ghostly look in them, as they were blue and large. Mr Craig was asked manifold questions, including the most important, what was he doing with a dead woman's body in his waggon, so late in the night? His reply was that he had been summoned to bring the body to the Newhills Cemetery to be buried. I did not believe him, instead of interrogating him, I asked him the most crucial question, who had told him to bring the body. There was hesitation at first, until he muttered the memorable name of 'Callum MacClure'. Yes, the very same Callum MacClure, who Mr Morrison mentioned, as the killer in Manchester ten years ago. It was a vague answer, and insufficient to totally believe let alone confirm, without much evidence.
Hitherto, it was of extreme significance that we located Mr MacClure as soon as possible, so that we could identify him; although it required having a distinguished photograph of him. There was one good piece of proof that was revealed by apprehending Mr Craig, the coffins that were being shipped to the dock of Aberdeen. Someone of a higher command had been definitely instructing Mr Craig, what to do with the coffins and cadavers daily. Mr Craig was taken to the Police Station to be further interrogated. One notable element of the perplexing mystery had been solved, but there was still a lot to be accomplished. What was pressing was unmasking the identity of the main culprit, who was in charge of this elaborate operation.
At the Police Station, I had the firm impression that Mr Craig was not going to disclose much information, and perhaps his involvement was limited to placing the cadavers in divergent areas. For the rest of the night and early morning, I returned to my hotel anticipating tidings from Manchester, about Callum MacClure. Could it be that the sexton's part in the horrendous crimes was nothing more than his careless involvement in disposing the stiff and rigid bodies of the countless victims?
That next morning, I received the essential telegram from Manchester, informing me that Mr Callum MacClure had indeed been apprehended ten years ago in that city, but what was more perturbing was the fact that he had been transferred to an asylum in Edinburgh, two years ago. That meant that he was alive, and was either in that particular madhouse, or he had escaped. Galloway had arrived at the hotel, to escort me then to the train station, where I was going to travel to Edinburgh to solve the mystery of the actual identity of Mr Callum MacClure. I would go alone to Edinburgh, whilst Galloway would continue the onerous investigation in Aberdeen. The trip in train to Edinburgh would approximately last almost three hours in duration. When I had arrived in the city, I took a hansom cab to reach the asylum, which was located outside of Edinburgh.
There, I met the person in charge of the asylum, a Dr Brodie, who spoke to me in the hall of the west wing of the main building, where we could speak at length. He was a very officious and instinctive fellow, and when I enquired about Callum MacClure, he looked into my eyes and gave me a disconcerting response. He told me that Callum MacClure was no longer at the asylum. I queried with an intense consternation about his present whereabouts, and Dr Brodie answered me by saying that Callum MacClure was released two months ago. Dr Brodie did not know where he was, or what happened to him afterwards. This admission by Dr Brodie was not expectant, but it was completely logical to fathom its explicit circumstance. I had assumed that if Callum MacClure was released, then it was determined by his psychiatrist and doctor that he was no longer mad. Perhaps it was an absurdity to presume that he was the main culprit behind the murders, but my intuitive mind had not forsaken that eventuality.
'If I may enquire Dr Brodie, what can you tell me with clarity, about Callum MacClure?' I asked inquisitively.
'Simply, that the person you have mentioned inspector was a very disturbed man, when he came and when he left the asylum', he said.
'By Jove, are you implying doctor that he was released in the abhorrent state of his insanity? Why was he released onto the public in the first place, if he was an impending peril to society? It makes no bloody sense at all doctor!' I expressed with sudden outrage and astonishment.
He shook his head in agreement and explained that the incomprehensible reason behind his discharge was due to the lack of sufficient space in the asylum, 'He was released, because we were extremely overcrowded with new patients, and as you can imagine, our resources here at the asylum are limited and are dependent on the families of those patients, who are as I would describe, more wealthy'.
'It is indeed unthinkable that any institution would bow to the reverence of wealth, but certainly, I cannot blame you for this injustice and oversight'.
'I am afraid that if this man, who committed such abominable crimes in Manchester ten years ago is behind the murder spree in Aberdeen, then, you are dealing with an insatiable madman, who will not be stopped so easily'.
'I hope that you are mistaken, for the sake of the people of Aberdeen'.
Immediately, after I had departed the madhouse, I returned to the train station and took the next train leaving from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. I would arrive in Aberdeen in the eventide, and when I did, I headed for the Police Station to speak at once to Galloway, so that he could be apprised of the troubling disclosure that I had learnt, whilst at the asylum in Edinburgh. The streets of the city were more patrolled, and I had told Galloway to disperse more officers in the streets of the city. There were no tidings to be notified, since my departure from Aberdeen, except one small piece of information that was perchance of notable importance to the investigation.
Galloway had divulged that the ticket collector had reported to one of the officers, who were patrolling the train station that a mysterious man had boarded the train, with fresh blood stains on his shoes. The man was not questioned and was allowed to board the train, but the ticket collector was able to give an accurate description of the man. Naturally, Galloway had interrogated the ticket collector, but he could not order an arrest warrant for the man based, on a supposition of ratiocination. Galloway had revealed to me that the sexton Mr Craig had requested to speak to me at his cell, but not before I spoke to Mr Morrison, who had been waiting for me at the Police Station. I proceeded to converse with Mr Morrison, knowing that the matter had to be of the utmost urgency.
'Mr Morrison, it is good to see you again, but if you don't mind, I am on a tight schedule. Is there more information you have obtained, about the 'Oddfellows?' I asked.
'Inspector Cauvain, I am glad that you have returned. Officer Galloway had mentioned that you were out of the city. Am I to assume that you were busy, with gathering more facts to the case?' He said.
His eyes exhibited a slight preoccupation I felt, 'You look a bit concerned'.
'Should I concern myself?' He said and then smiled, as if to disguise his unsettling disquietude.
'Then, tell me what new information you have?'
'I was in my private study reading documents of the 'Oddfellows', and I found this letter that may be significant'.
'A letter, by who?'
'By Callum MacClure! He uttered.
'Callum MacClure you say? Good God, where is the letter at now?'
'Here, I have brought it with me inspector. It is a letter that was sent to me, by Mr MacClure. I do not know, how he obtained my address or how he knew of my involvement in the case', he acknowledged.
He handed me the letter, and I read the contents. The letter mentioned the murders in details and had specified my name as well. The harrowing words written in the letter were palpably felt by me, as I read the entirety of the letter, with a rapid brigue that compelled me to discover the truth of Callum MacClure. The date of the letter demonstrated that the letter was written, within the period that I had taken over the investigation. It was clear that this deranged individual who was the author of the letter had keen awareness of my participation. This was achieved either by the newspapers, or by hearsay from someone.
It was alarming that this reproachable circumstance was caused, by my noticeable involvement. I had dealt with previous situations as this one, with other cults I have investigated. Even though the cases differentiated in the names of the individuals, and the details as well, they all resembled each other, in the manner of its circumventive nature. This fact was indubitable in its actions, and with its consequential effects. There was no uncertain doubt in my mind that Callum MacClure was alive, and implicated in the murders. However, the question that had continued to burden me was what was his duplicitous association? I had asked Mr Morrison, what would he do, if he was Callum MacClure? His response was somewhat ambiguous.
'If I was Callum MacClure you ask inspector? I suppose I would attempt to control my irrepressible rage, and seek interment'.
'It is an interesting answer, but do you believe that he would not want to be apprehended?' I asked.
'You do not mind, if I smoke?
'Now, as for your question, that I do not know, until he has been arrested', he retorted.
Mr Morrison soon left the Police Station, and I headed to the cell where Mr Craig was at, so that I could speak to him. When I reached his cell, he was very frightened and wearisome, as if he was mindful of his surroundings and of somebody.
'Mr Craig, you wanted to talk to me? What for?'
'Aye inspector, ye must believe me, whan A say tae ye thon Aye am no the murderer, an thon ma involvement i the murders is strictly transportin the coffins'.
'What about the cadavers? Surely, you were aware of the cadavers', I boldly admonished him.
'O, Aye swar thon Aye am no the murderer!' He interposed.
'It is very important that you be honest in your reply. Where is Callum MacClure at now?'
'Aye swar thon Aye dae no know!' He exclaimed.
'Then, you at least can give me an accurate description of Callum MacClure? Think hard this question, for it will affect your sentencing'.
He paused as to meditate that question, and afterward, he said to me, 'O, he wor dark spectacles an a top hat, an wis dressit i dark colours. He wis lanky an fidgety wi long hair, an Aye only remember ane convincin featur o him, he bore a scar on the richt side o his countenans. He also smokes a particular cigar thon is foreign. Ane other thing, he is missin a finger i his left hand'.
That was all that Mr Craig could tell me about Callum MacClure, but I felt that he was being sincere and I perceived his injudicious ingratiation and symphoric involvement in the murders to be genuine.
Therefore, I made the deliberate decision to leave him in the cell, until we had solved this case. I had enough charges against him, to keep him at the Police Station. Mr Craig's testimony had allowed me to put into action my audacious plan to trap the compulsive murderer and his remaining accomplices. It was propounded and determined that we would have officers assigned at the train station, others at the centre of the city, and others at docks. If there was to be another murder committed, then we would be ready to apprehend him.
Galloway had joined the vigilant officers at the centre, whilst I was waiting at the train station. I had a queer presentiment that the killer did not live in Aberdeen, and used the train to enter the city and commit his despicable crimes. Once more the curfew was imposed, as we closed the Union Terrace Gardens that were full of roses, daffodils and crocuses. But the killer had struck again, and this time the murder occurred in the Union Terrace Gardens.
One of the officers had seen a lone waggon, with a dead person in the rear and had blown his whistle alerting the other officers. Suddenly, the chase was on, as the waggon headed towards Denburn Road tantivy. We had cut off the direct access to Black Wynd, but the waggon passed then to Guild Street and Regent Quay and Waterloo Quay, by the Aberdeen Lerwick. It turned into Wellington Street, as various officers had blocked off Clarence Street. There was no viable impasse that he could take to head towards the pier. An unrecognisable man then jumped from the waggon, and began to run in a hie to the train station, but we were there waiting for him.
As he reached the station, the vibrant sound of the engine could be heard, with the train that was departing. He soon boarded the train, as we had permitted him to do that. What the desperate murderer did not know was that we were on board, waiting steadfastly for his presence. When he got on board, we arrested him on spot forthwith. He was wearing the same disguise that Mr Craig had described at the Police Station. He gave no fierce resistance, but was surprised to find us within the train. I removed his dark spectacles and at last, I came face to face, with the infamous murderer himself. I was not stupefied-for you see, I knew who he was, before he removed his spectacles and top hat. I had known ever since I left the Police Station earlier. I had not informed Galloway, because I did not want to jeopardise the daring plan that I sought to execute, with absolute precision.
'Mr Morrison, or should I say, the enigmatic Callum MacClure? You almost succeeded in deceiving me completely with your dissimulation, but you made one fatal mistake, the underlying seal on the letter. I shall expatiate to you. You see, I too had investigated the 'Oddfellows', and the seal that was used on the letter was almost identical to the original seal of the order. However, there was one tiny discernible distinction, the misprint of the motto', I said.
'I should have known that you would ultimately solve this case, with your unbending persistence inspector, but you forget one thing, I shall be found incompetent to stand trial, and I shall be interned in an asylum, where I shall escape anew', he said those poignant words, as he laughed incessantly.
'Perhaps you are correct, but I assure you that I shall be there to arrest you if so', I asseverated as I stood eye to eye with him.
'And I shall be waiting Inspector Cauvain', he assented in such an unfeeling expression.
He was inconceivably, beyond any expostulatory assistance of mine, and I had solved the obfuscating case that was known, as 'The coffins of the Aberdeen ruse'. The ruse was the mysterious symbol, and that was exhaustedly deciphered, with my wayward insistence.
He was then escorted off the train and taken to the Police Station, where he was to be kept, until a magistrate decided if he was to be sent to a prison or another asylum. His redoubtable reign of terror had abated, as I had recounted the facts that had accrued in accumulation to Galloway ex post facto. I had explained the actualised events to Galloway that Mr Morrison was indeed the incontinent and ubiquitous Callum MacClure, and when I told him, he asked me, how did I know Mr Morrison was verily Callum MacClure, since I did not have a supportable clue of his appearance?
My answer was derived from the details that Mr Craig had acknowledged of the killer, the missing finger on the left hand, and the cigar that he smoked. That I had detected, when I was speaking to Mr Morrison at the Police Station, as he had given me the letter, and took out of his coat a cigar. Mr Morrison or Callum MacClure had been erroneously released from the asylum in Edinburgh and had begun his killing spree in Aberdeen. He had lived in Crouden Bay, and commuted by train to the city, to commit his reprehensible crimes of vility. He paid Mr Craig the sexton handsomely, to transport the bodies to miscellaneous areas of Aberdeen, whilst he absconded justice, by taking the train. Of course, the memorable seal of the letter was what sealed his decisive demise.
Subsequently, the murders had ceased, and the indefinite cadavers in the coffins as well. The other accomplices arrested played a minor part in the crimes, nevertheless they were then prosecuted, and the reputation of the cult of the 'Oddfellows', was severely tarnished for decades. But, there was one unnerving thing that I was not exceedingly confident of, and that was that Callum MacClure would never kill another innocent person again.