'You've never lived until you've almost died. For those who have fought for it, life has a flavour the protected shall never know.'―Guy de Maupassant
The tide was brisk and had stirred the sea off Burgh Island in Devon, near the English seaside village of Bigbury-on-Sea, when I arrived there in the year of 1902. I was forced to take the ferry, due to the hide tide and the cold draught of the coast that was felt, as I had descended through the vestige of the encompassing mist.
I am Jack Cauvain, an inspector from London, and the discreet case that brought me to this small island was called 'The deadly secret of Burgh Island'. My destination was The East Shore Hotel, where my first impression was that of a pervading eeriness that caused me to be pensive, as I stood before the Victorian hotel. I was kindly greeted at the lobby of the hotel, by the affluential proprietor.
'Good afternoon Inspector Cauvain. I am Rupert Davenport, the owner of the hotel. I hope that your travel was pleasant, and your unique prowess can solve the mystery of the two murders at the hotel. As you understand we are a small island and are not equipped to handle such horrendous murders of this nature. Therefore, I place my absolute confidence in your accomplishments and reputation to solve these murders, with the utmost efficiency'.
'Indeed, I am flattered by your consideration in me and my proficient ability. I assure you Mr Davenport that I shall do my best as always.'
'Good, then you can begin the investigation forthwith!'
'I have perused several times along the trip the few details in the report that was sent to me in London, but there are some interesting questions, whose answers remain inexplicable to my comprehension'.
'Such as?' Mr Davenport queried.
'In the report, the first death, a Mr Breeden it was stated that he died of a stab wound, yet he was strong as an ox. 6 ft 4 in height and over 16 stones. Then the second murder Mrs Langley was found dead at the end of the stairway, with a broken neck. However, she had a visible puncture wound to her lung beforehand'.
'Even though it may seem unexpected circumstances, the lamentable deaths of these invited guests were declared murders by the pathologist'.
'If so, then why is this hotel still open?'
'That is simple, the remaining guests of the hotel were not informed of the pathologist's actual report'.
'You mean, they don't know the deaths were acknowledged, as deliberate murders?'
'To be exact, that is the case!'
'Surely, you are aware that sooner or later the guests will discover the truth. It is intuitive of their human disposition'.
'Admittedly, I am aware of that predicament!'
He had paused before introducing the staff of the East Shore Hotel. They were all standing and obediently listening to Mr Davenport's orders. Each of them stepped forward, as their names were mentioned.
'This is the head receptionist Mr Ainsley. The chambermaids Mrs Morton and Mrs Warwick. The valets Mr Harlow and Mr Oakes. The footmen Mr Huxly and Mr Clifford'.
'Where are the guests, and how many are there currently in the hotel?'
'They are waiting for us in the main hall, beyond the lobby.
'Then let us not keep them waiting any longer!'
We had proceeded to enter the main hall, where I met the eight guests of the hotel, who were impatiently waiting in immediate anticipation.
'Inspector Cauvain, I present to you the guests of the East Shore Hotel. There is Lady Hallworth, an heiress from Stafford. Dr Blackwood, a physician from Southampton. Mr Gresham, a barrister from London. Professor Leighton, an archaeologist from Philadelphia. Lord Thackeray, a prominent nobleman from Leicestershire. Miss Tyndall, a nurse from Manchester. Mrs Eaton, a widow from Yorkshire. And lastly, Mr Domenech, a young dapper gent from Barcelona'.
As I met them, I had keenly observed their subtle reactions and facial expressions that were noticeably inconspicuous. I also had the intuitive thought that from amongst these bidden guests gathered, the killer would be ultimately bewrayed.
'You are an inspector? Asked Mrs Eaton the widow.
'Indeed madam!' I replied.
'You are that famous inspector from London, whose cases the newspapers rave about profondly?' Lady Hallworth intriguely enquired.
'I would not pay attention to the newspapers, and I would not equate my sundry cases, as mere adventures, my lady'.
'Oh, there is no need for presumption or moderation inspector, when it is obviously clear that there were two deaths', Lord Thackeray interjected.
'You mean murders Lord Thackeray!' Mr Gresham uttered.
'What are you implying Mr Gresham?' Professor Leighton asked.
'The good doctor and nurse know the whole truth', Mr Gresham had remarked.
'What truth?' Mrs Eaton queried.
'That the two dead guests were murdered!' Mr Gresham responded.
'I don't know what you are talking about Mr Gresham', Miss Tyndall exclaimed.
'Bloody be, you have the nerve to unsettle the women in the room, Mr Gresham!' Dr Blackwood rejoined.
I had sensed there was unnecessary tension, amongst the hotel guests and I silenced them, 'It is true, the two deaths were not of natural causes, but apparent murders. Now that we are aware of that disturbing revelation, each of you must remain in the hotel. No one will leave, until I say so. I know it may appear intrusive and impertinent on my part, but I must proceed with the investigation accordingly, when I do not think it politic to express any reservations for now'.
'Of course inspector! But am I to assume that from amongst us is the calculated murderer?' Mr Domenech asked me.
'Or the prime suspect!' I acknowledged.
'Is that a definite accusation? Surely, you cannot assume that we are to be blamed for the deaths of Mr Breedan and Mrs Langley?' Lord Thackeray interposed.
'I must not only assume the improbable, but as well, I must proceed carefully, with the assiduous investigation Lord Thackeray!'
'If there are no further objections I suggest, we allow Inspector Cauvain to begin his thorough investigation at once!' Mr Davenport said.
There were no objections or ripostes given. Thereafter, Mr Davenport escorted me to my room in the second storey of the hotel, where I was to stay, during my time there. He had informed me that he was leaving the island for a week, to tend to a private engagement he could not postpone. Before he left, he had thanked me for my involvement and willingness to take the case. I assured him again that I would solve the murders. I began in earnest the investigation afterwards, as I had contemplated the details of the established facts of the case, with a sedulous observation and attention.
From my experience as an inspector and criminal investigator, my intuition had always led me to the conclusion that the manipulative murderer was never distant from the crime scene and would commit another horrid crime if permitted. Time would reveal that portentous anomaly, with a baneful repetition. I was eager to dispel my first intrigue, when I observed the elements of the two prior crime scenes. There was nothing unusual to surmise a conventional inference from or any pertinent clues to retrieve.
Therefore, I realised that it was better to speak to Dr Blackwood, who I learnt had performed the necropsies, and Miss Tyndall the nurse, who assisted the good doctor in that important procedure. Oddly enough, I found them both in the lobby as to be expected discussing the murders and their implication. Naturally, they were anxious to know what I had uncovered at the crime scenes.
'I did not see you coming inspector. Is there something I can be of help with?' Dr Blackwood said.
'Did you find any pivotal clues?' Miss Tyndall asked immediately.
'Is there something that you have omitted from your previous deposition Miss Tyndall that I should be apprised of that revelation?' I replied.
'Oh, none that I am aware!'
'You must forgive Miss Tyndall—for we have been in a disconcerting state of mind, since the deaths of Mr Breeden and Mrs Langley'.
'Of course! It is precisely of their deaths that I wish to speak to the both of you, if you are willing to answer my questions and address the issue?
'Yes!' They both responded, as they nodded their heads in compliance.
'Good! Then let us proceed. If I can ask you Dr Blackwood, you were the pathologist who performed the necropsy on the bodies of Mr Breeden and Mrs Langley? Is that not correct?'
'That is correct!'
'I am curious Dr Blackwood, and I must assuage this curiosity of mine. What is your expertise?'
'You mean my main practice, as a doctor?
'You are wondering, if I am a pathologist?'
'I am only interested in knowing of your background, as a professional'.
'I am afraid that I don't quite understand your question!'
'It is simple Dr Blackwood. You see, you altered your version of your account in the first necropsy. Why?'
'Because it was what I assumed after examining the bodies. And as for your question, I am a specialist in the study of the human anatomy.'
'Oh, then you are an anatomist, if I am not mistaken?'
'Yes, that is correct!'
'Perhaps Dr Blackwood, you could resolve my lingering doubt on the second murder in particular'.
'I shall attempt to answer whatever question you may have'.
'I can fully comprehend the nature of Mr Breeden's death of multiple stab wounds. The murder would involve a strong emotion, such as a passionate rage or ire. It would also require perhaps a powerful individual, since Mr Breeden was of an imposing constitution. However, as for the death of Mrs Langley, she was found with a broken neck, but you stated in your first report that she had a punctured lung as well. Is that not factual Dr Blackwood?'
'The reason for my discrepancy inspector was merely an oversight on my part. One that I have since corrected and acknowledged openly!'
'And I commend you for that, but it still does not explain the actual cause of death of Mrs Langley. We know that she was found dead at the edge of the stairway. The thing that remains unexplained is, how did she receive the wound and the punctured lung?'
'Perhaps the same weapon was utilised in the second murder!'
'Then you share the same conclusion I share?'
'It is absolutely clear to me, we are dealing with a murderer in the East Shore Hotel!'
'But who could it be?' Miss Tyndall interjected.
'That is the one question that I cannot answer for the nonce Miss Tyndall. But rest assure, I shall unravel the mystery of the audacious murderer'.
'Are there any more questions?' Dr Blackwood enquired.
'At the moment, no further questions, but if I have more, you will be both informed'.
After finishing my interesting conversation with Dr Blackwood and the nurse Miss Tyndall, I had noticed their unusual glance at each other, whilst we spoke. I took notes of my enquiries with the guests, in particular, their distinctive inherited characteristics. I was not certain whether this was significant or not to the investigation or my analytical methods.
The next course of action was to determine the sequence of events and its correlation. I had relied on Dr Blackwood's report and my active perception and forethought to surmise, a reasonable presupposition of plausibility. The death of Mr Breeden was of a logical illation, but the death of Mrs Langley had intrigued me, since her death was attributive to not her consequential fall, instead to a murder that transpired, before the tragic fall. How were the murders linked, if they betided on different days and hours?
It was too early to effectuate a probable motive or make the determination that the murderer was even an acquaintance of either Mr Breeden or Mrs Langley. Therefore, what I concentrated was on the proven facts to support my case and allow me to deduce an introductory induction. This would be decisive, yet it was seen by me, as a cautionary measure implemented effectively. I continued with my enquiry, and the next person I spoke to was Mr Gresham, who was speaking with Mr Ainsley at the reception desk. Upon seeing me approach, the receptionist excused himself and then resumed his administrative duties.
'Have you discovered any vital clues to resolve the intricate case?' Mr Gresham asked.
'Precisely, it is the reason that I have come to speak to you Mr Gresham'.
'About what in particular?'
'It is about the development of my investigation'.
'Of course! What exactly can I assist in your investigation?'
'You are a noted barrister is that not true?'
'Yes I am, but I fail to understand the relevance of that question'.
'It may appear irrelevant or a mere coincidence, but as a man of the study of the laws as you are Mr Gresham, you are cognisant of the general application of the basis of incontrovertible facts. Is that, not an accurate assumption on my part?'
'I would say that is accurate. However, what analogy of yours am I to ascribe?'
'The motive Mr Gresham! You see, for my investigation to be successful I must establish a clear motive for these two murders. If you were the murderer, what motive would compel you to murder?'
He was surprised by the question, but then his legal experience as a barrister manifested, 'Since, this is merely a hypothetical question in its origin, I would contemplate greed or a personal vendetta'.
'Personal vendetta, you say Mr Gresham? Interesting! Such as the vendetta that could provoke one to murder?'
'Perhaps, but we are only speculating a hypothesis based, on an unfounded ulterior motive'.
'True Mr Gresham, but that ulterior motive must have been sufficient enough to want to murder'.
I had finished the fascinating conversation and excused myself. I then left Mr Gresham pondering, about what we had spoken to each other. Whilst I was walking to exit the hotel to refreshen a bit, I saw Lord Thackeray playing a game of draughts in the terrace. I had approached him, and he seemed to reflect a nervous apprehension that was unmistakable in my general impression.
'Lord Thackeray, what a coincidence. Just the man that I wanted to converse with'.
'Inspector, ever the inquisitive man in observation. What can I be of service?'
'Inquisitive is a good trait of an inspector Lord Thackeray; especially when it is implemented in solving the intricacies of a good game of draughts or the origin of several murders'.
'I am absolutely certain that if there is a qualified man, who can solve these murders it is you. Now, will you join me for an intellectual intercourse?'
'That is admirable of you to say Lord Thackeray. Although I myself prefer chess, I must postpone your challenge for another occasion. I understand that you were the last person, who spoke to Mr Breeden. Correct?'
'Yes, that is correct!'
'If I may insist, what was the substance of your conversation with Mr Breeden?'
Oh, it was not a lengthy conversation, instead, a mild discussion amongst men. I am certain you have had your share of those moments'.
'Of course Lord Thackeray. Then am I to surmise that your mild discussion with Mr Breeden was of an inconsequential matter?'
'Yes, and if you must know, we spoke about politics, as do such men of our similar backgrounds'.
'That is fascinating Lord Thackeray, but I suppose it does not answer my question'.
'And what is that question?' Lord Thackeray enquired.
'Can a mild discussion on the topic of politics be contentious enough to turn into a heated debate in time?' I replied.
His eyebrows rose, as his eyes were lit with passion, 'What are you insinuating?'
'Nothing Lord Thackeray! There is no need to be so defensive, since it was only a mild discussion, as you alluded to. Now, if you will excuse me, I must proceed with my investigation'.
He held back his contempt for me, 'Do proceed!'
The next person to question was the American Professor Leighton, who I wanted to speak to, about his opinion on the dead bodies. I found him in one of the corridors of the lower chambers.
'Professor Leighton, it is good that I was able to locate you'.
'What can I do for you inspector?' He said in his Northeastern American accent.
'You are aware that I am in the process of an ongoing investigation?'
'I believe so, but what can I be of assistance, since I did not know the two murdered individuals?'
'That I do not doubt, but there is one thing that obfuscates me and that is the mysterious death of Mrs Langley. You see, you were the person who found her dead body at the edge of the stairway. It is extremely important to know in what position did you find the dead body of Mrs Langley and since you are an archaeologist, you could perhaps dispel an uncertainty I have'.
'Dispel an uncertainty you say? The only thing I can say about the position of the body is that it was lying on the stomach. That is all inspector! And if I may ask, what does my profession have to do, with this present investigation?'
'Oh, perhaps nothing, or perhaps everything!'
'What do you mean by that?'
'You see professor. Correct me if I am wrong, but in your study of bones, in this case human bones, is it not fair to presume that these bones of ours are not perhaps as resilient as we believe?'
'Yes, I concur with that analogy, there are some parts of the human bones that are more brittle than others.'
'What about the area of the neck and the lungs?
'They are very sensitive areas.'
'Sensitive areas to be exploited by a murderer to attempt to deceive an investigator?'
He paused as to reflect on that possibility, then he said, 'In my humble opinion, yes!'
'That is all the questions for now.'
'Perhaps Dr Blackwood could confirm that suspicion of yours inspector, since he was treating Mrs Langley, for her recent asthma attack'.
'Her recent asthma attack. I was not aware of that professor. I thank you for sharing this information'.
'I am glad to assist in your investigation!'
I left behind Professor Leighton in the corridor and then headed upstairs to speak to the widow Mrs Eaton. I had been informed by the dutiful receptionist that she was in the privacy of her room. I knocked on her chamber door, and she promptly opened the door. She had greeted me with an amiable courtesy, and I reciprocated the gesture, with a cordial salutation.
'I hope that I am not disturbing you Mrs Eaton, but I had to speak to you, about your whereabouts on the nights of the deaths of Mr Breeden and Mrs Langley. You stated you were in your room, when Mr Breeden was killed'.
'Yes, that is true!' She smiled.
'However, you were not in your room, when Mrs Langley died'.
'No, I was taking a stroll on the shoreline. I love to see the sunset. Thus, this was the reason I was outside in the first place, at that hour. Have you seen the sunset, from the bay of Thurlestone?'
'A lovely view no doubt Mrs Eaton, but I have not been to the bay'.
'Yes indeed—for it fills me with such warmth inside. You must go and visit this bay in Thurlestone!'
'I wonder Mrs Eaton as a widow, it must be very lonely'.
Her mien then changed immediately, 'So dreadfully lonely! I often wonder, why am I still alive? I do miss my beloved husband, inspector.'
'I can only imagine the effects of that personal tragedy!' I answered.
I finished the interview and left her chamber with the knowledge that I had discussed with Mrs Eaton, her absence in the hotel, during the murder of the late Mrs Langley. The only two remaining guests of the hotel to be interviewed afterwards were the Lady Hallworth and Mr Domenech. I found them both at the lounge bar together chatting, with each other. Even though, I was not certain what they were discussing, their expressions were singularly patent to be easily deciphered.
'Mr Domenech and Lady Hallworth!'
'Inspector Cauvain!' Spoke the fortunate heiress.
'Perhaps you could join us!' Mr Domenech invited.
'That is gracious Mr Domenech, but this visit is not of a convivial nature'.
'Oh, then I suspect your intention in speaking with us is, about the two recent deaths?' Lady Hallworth asked.
'To be precise my lady, that is the reason!'
'What exactly do you wish to know?' Lady Hallworth insisted, as I perceived her unnerving state before me.
'According to the receptionist during the murders, you were not in your chamber Lady Hallworth. Where were you at, my lady?'
Her anxiety manifested even more, but Mr Domenech interjected, 'She was in my company and chamber inspector!'
I directed my question at the Lady Hallworth, 'Is that true?'
At first, she was embarrassed by the overt insinuation and then offered a modest response, 'Yes, it is true!'
'There is no need to be ashamed, since our affair is of a mutual persuasion and agreement!'
'Agreed Mr Domenech, but I do not involve myself, with licentious liaisons. My only concern is solving the murders and arresting the murderer or murderers'.
'Murderers! Then you believe there were two and not one?' Lady Hallworth muttered.
'Oh, that remains to be seen!'
'Are you finished, with the informal enquiry or inquisition?' Mr Domenech asked.
We stared eye to eye, and I had replied, 'Yes, for now!'
Once the impromptu conversation was over, I had returned to my room to contemplate the information that was compiled about my interaction with the guests, who were present in the hotel, when the murders occurred. I had questioned the hotel staff as well and no pertinent clues were obtained.
The next morning, I would be informed of another tragic murder. This time, the victim was the poor widow, Mrs Eaton, who was found dead outside, at the bottom of the hill side, by the hardened crag and high water of the sea. One of the footmen, Mr Huxly had discovered the body. There was nothing concrete that he could offer as evidence. Apparently, she had fallen from the top, but upon examining the body, I was not certain if her death was accidental or a premeditated murder. I could not prove the latter possibility, as being accurate.
Thus, until I spoke to Dr Blackwood, I would have to presuppose that her death was undetermined. When I finally spoke to the doctor, he was not able to state unequivocally that Mrs Eaton was either pushed to her death by someone, or she had involuntarily slipped; although the ghastly notion of suicide had to be contemplated. There were no abnormal signs or marks that precluded either option, but I was absolutely convinced that Mrs Eaton was murdered.
Since there was no primary pathologist in the area, Dr Blackwood performed the necropsy on Mrs Eaton. He concluded afterwards that her death was most likely an accidental fall. There was no inconclusive evidence that supported that occurrence, but once more, neither was there evidence to suggest otherwise. I sensed there was something odd in the actual comportment of Dr Blackwood. However, I could not make the clear distinction of that obvious peculiarity.
There were then three murders, and one or more killers, amongst the remaining seven guests. I could no longer base my premise on a logical hypothesis or theory, instead more on the irrefutable facts of the case. I cogitated in my advanced thoughts, the explanation of this recent death and its haunting implication. I had not expected the murder of Mrs Eaton to transpire so suddenly, and a horrific sensation had beclouded the investigation. I was forced to indagate a death that was strange in its circumstance, but I was fully prepared to resolve the intangible mystery of the murders of the East Shore Hotel therewith.
I had gathered the other guests of the hotel in the main hall to discuss the murder of Mrs Eaton at length. They were extremely restless and wanted to know the process of the investigation. I had realised that I could not parry their questions or my necessary responsibility to apprise them of the relevant information I had ascertained.
'I know that you are all aware of the death of Mrs Eaton, and that is the reason why you are presently gathered here together', I said.
'Have you determined that the death of Mrs Eaton was a suicide or a murder?' Lord Thackeray queried.
'Actually, I have not yet established her cause of death Lord Thackeray'.
'You examined her Dr Blackwood, what did you determine the cause of death? Mr Gresham interposed.
'Yes I did! It is impossible at this moment to completely state without a doubt, whether Mrs Eaton's death was accidental or premeditated', Dr Blackwood responded.
'Surely, if she was murdered, then a competent physician would know the cause of death by now!' Lord Thackeray exclaimed.
'Are you doubting my professionalism Lord Thackeray? If so, then I shall take your comment as effrontery!' Dr Blackwood retorted.
'There is no need for external conflict or expostulation. Everyone is free to voice their opinion, but may I remind you all that there is a murderer still at large!' I remarked.
'It is daunting to know that the killer could be amongst us!' Lady Hallworth said.
'How are we supposed to know who to trust or distrust?' Professor Leighton asked.
'That is a good question professor that I am certain that the inspector could enlighten us, with his investigative foresight!' Mr Domenech interrupted.
'Is there something pending that you are hiding from us and do not wish to share Mr Domenech?'
Mr Domenech had hushed, as I began to relate the status of the investigation, 'I shall be candid in compliance, with the entire facts established. Hitherto, what is known is that three unlucky guests of this hotel have been found dead. Unfortunately, there are scant clues to indicate the pattern of the murders, with the individuals, who had a deadly encounter with the murderer'.
'What about the murderer?' Lord Thackeray enquired.
'As for the murderer, he or she remains anonymous!' I answered.
'Then we are precisely, at what stage of the investigation?' Lady Hallworth asked me.
'Nowhere!' Mr Domenech uttered.
'Then, you are as clueless as we are inspector?' Mr Gresham insinuated.
'Not exactly Mr Gresham! You see, time is on my side. Since you all have been here at the hotel, no guest has left or come to the hotel'.
'Good God, then you are absolutely convinced that amongst us guests here is a cold blooded killer?' Professor Leighton intimated.
'But who could it be?' Mr Gresham raised the question.
'For heaven's sake, let us attempt to be rational!' Dr Blackwood said.
'Rational? You speak now, when you have been quiet for much of this distressing conversation doctor, like the nurse,' Mr Gresham pronounced.
'How do we know that it was not you?' Lord Thackeray implied.
'Yes, he would have the skill and precision to effectuate, such an effective manner of execution', Mr Gresham accused the doctor.
'True, but these murders did not require any great capacity, instead a masterful deception that either one of you here present possess!' Dr Blackwood reciprocated.
'Enough with the discourse ladies and gentlemen! I recommend that you all be mindful of your surroundings and above all of the persons you share, your space and privacy with'.
Afterwards, each of the remaining seven guests had returned to their dreary chambers individually. I sensed the instant commotion augmenting between the guests, as they began to not confide their hidden secrets and intimate thoughts with each other. For the rest of that day, I spent emerged in a profound introspection that left me pensive in deliberation. Progress was the only recourse accepted and sought by me. I retraced in my mind and notebook, every detail of the murders, but the justifiable inducement was still inexplicable in its normal comprehension. That night there was tremendous trepidation and uncertainty felt, amongst the nervous guests.
When I had awakened the following morning, a vociferous scream was heard coming from the chamber of Mr Gresham. When I got dressed and reached the chamber inside, Mr Gresham was stone dead. He had been discovered by one of the chambermaids sitting in a settee cold and stiff, with his mouth open wide. After examining his listless body, Dr Blackwood and I had concurred that Mr Gresham was poisoned to death, by a rare element used, such as thallium. Indeed, our murderer was devising different manners in murdering the perturbable victims, and was succeeding in ruffling the other guests of the hotel to a great degree.
However, the first two sustainable clues had been either left behind by the egregious killer erroneously or intentionally. What was discovered was a singular piece of jewellery that was adjacent to the body of Mr Gresham and a fragrance of exquisite cologne. I knew that in all my years of meticulous investigation that the murders followed a credible sequence of events. The commonality of all unsolvable mysteries was the modus operandi employed by the criminal. Ergo, this was the requisite necessitated for solving the case. I ruminated the signification of the jewellery and since there was no access in this remote area for determining the prints of the forensic evidence retrieved, I had decided to depend on my natural disposition and consectary purview.
These quantitative measures were extremely critical to accomplish my objective, if I was to be ultimately successful. I started to amass in my thoughts, distinctive concepts that best applied to the theory of the murders. Eventually, there was one in particular that I could pursue, with such scibility. This would require an elaborate plan to entice and trap the murderer or murderers. I had my lists of possible suspects, but I was not yet totally convinced, who was the main suspect.
I had learnt after speaking with the frightened chambermaid that the last person who was seen speaking to Mr Gresham was Lord Thackeray the nobleman. When I located him, he was in the main hall with the others. The untimely death of Mr Gresham had unnerved the other guests. There were now six guests in the hotel, along with the staff. They all had recognisable stares and concerns that exceeded the normal state of behaviour. I could not avoid the indubitable thought that one of these guests had to display not only duplicity, but ingenuity also to be able to clearly accomplish the murders, within such a conspicuous veil of secrecy and perceptive eyes.
'I have summoned you in the setting of the main hall, to discuss the recent murder of Mr Gresham'.
'Have you discovered, who is the murder?' Lady Hallworth asked.
'Are you going to make an arrest?' Professor Leighton wondered.
'Well, don't just stand there, tell us what you have discovered inspector!' Lord Thackeray ejaculated.
'Whoever is the killer ladies and gentlemen, has a fond preference to French cologne and exquisite jewellery, such as any one of you', I asseverated.
'What in bloody hell are you insinuating, that I killed Mr Gresham?'
'I am only stating the facts. According to the chambermaid, you were the last individual seen in the company of Mr Gresham. Is that not accurate, Lord Thackeray?'
He became more fidgety and alarmed, 'Yes, but I was there to play draughts and we had a few drinks only. I soon left afterwards. Mr Gresham was perhaps drunk, but he was alive, when I left him. Ask Mr Domenech, he saw me leaving the chamber of Mr Gresham. The door was open!'
'Is that true, Mr Domenech?' I enquired.
'Then you acknowledge that you were also there at the chamber of Mr Gresham, before he was found dead?'
'Yes, but this acknowledgement does not make me a murderer. I was with the Lady Hallworth'.
'Is that true Lady Hallworth?'
'What were you and Mr Domenech doing at that hour? You seem to be missing an earring Lady Addington'.
I showed it to her, 'Does this not belong to you?'
She was dumbfounded, 'Yes!'
'I repeat, what were you and Mr Domenech doing at that hour?'
She hesitated and Mr Domenech interceded, 'She was with me. Is that not enough?'
'I am afraid it is not!' I said.
'Why don't you ask Professor Leighton. He passed by the corridor earlier before we reached Mr Gresham's chamber', Lady Hallworth insisted.
'Professor Leighton, what do you have to say?'
'She is telling the truth!' Professor Leighton confirmed.
‘What about the staff? Have you interrogated them also?’ Mr Domenech questioned.
‘I have interrogated them all, and they all have solid alibis Mr Domenech!’ I replied.
‘Where were you at Dr Blackwood and Miss Tyndall? Lord Thackerey contested.
‘Yes indeed. I would like to know as well!” I uttered.
‘I was in the cellar studying the cadavers of the deceased victims’.
‘What for?’ Lord Thackerey demanded.
‘I was examining the bodies to see whether or not, I had neglected to see something that I had failed to see before in my prior necropsies’.
‘Such as what Dr Blackwood?’ I asked.
‘Clues of course inspector!’ He responded.
‘And you Miss Tyndall?’
‘She was with me!’
‘This all seems too coincidental to dismiss as veritable facts’, Professor Leighton declared.
‘Perhaps professor, but for the nonce, until I can solve these senseless deaths, I recommend that we do not divide ourselves, for more than a few minutes. I have asked the staff to leave, including the receptionist Mr Ainsley. We are all alone here only us!’ I stated.
‘But who will tend to the hotel in their absence?’ Lady Hallworth asked.
‘No one! I must resume my investigation and if there is any evidence that either one of you find, then it is incumbent upon you to disclose that evidence to me, the inspector!’
It was becoming more and more a baffling situation, as each guest had their alibi or version of events to what occurred in the deaths of Mr Breedan, Mrs Langley, Mrs Eaton and Mr Gresham. They pointed the finger at each other in an attempt to blame the murders on someone else. There was an undeniable intimation I perceived in the traits personified, by each of the remaining guests that could demonstrate the pattern for murder. I felt I was getting closer to solving the case, and I had regarded my intuition and my keen discernment as a valuable application.
However, another murder would occur later on that day, and this time the victim was the American, Professor Leighton, who had been found hanging outside of his chamber. At first, it all pointed to a suicide—such as committed out of immense guilt. Dr Blackwood had discovered the body of the professor. And immediately, the others upon being informed of Professor Leighton’s death had accused the doctor of being the murderer. They demanded his arrest, and I quickly dismissed their request and concentrated on whatever evidence I could retrieve from the crime scene. The doctor proclaimed his innocence, and I ordered the other guests to wait in the main hall, whilst I had interviewed Dr Blackwood.
‘Dr Blackwood, you realise that the assumption is that you killed Professor Leighton. You could have easily choked him to death and then hung him outside to appear as a suicide. You know, and I know that the marks of strangulation are very similar to the marks inflicted of a hanging’.
‘Yes, I am aware of that comparison inspector! But, you are aware that maybe Professor Leighton was indeed the killer and did not want to be apprehended’.
‘That is feasible doctor!’
I dismissed him so that he could join the others in the main hall, whilst I had continued to search for any other essential clues within the chamber of Professor Leighton. As I was searching from top to bottom, I had noticed on the wooden floor that there was a mysterious cutting that had fallen from the table. It had appeared to have been torn from a newspaper and was dated the 14th of July 1878. The print was barely legible, but what was more impactful was a single photograph that depicted the guise of an unidentified man, whose name was Addison Beverly with his family. Was this person mentioned, truly connected to the unsolvable murders of the East Shore Hotel? The man as well as the name was anonymous to me, but the resemblance was strikingly reminiscent of someone, who I had seen before. I had realised then after a closer look at the individual, who was this Addison Beverly. Of course in the photograph, the man was much younger.
The darkness of the night had covered the landscape of Burgh Island, and the only lights that were lit were from the hotel. Then I had gathered the five guests remaining in the main hall. They stood agog, as they had anticipated my instant arrival. When I had arrived I stared into the eyes of each of them, knowing that from amongst them was my murderer. I was certain that there was one murderer, who was under the bidding of another more shadowy character, who had remained indistinct until then. I had the article of the newspaper in my hand, and I began to speak, ‘It is good that you all came on time!’
‘What is going on inspector?’ Lord Thackeray enquired.
‘Yes, that is what I want to know!’ Mr Domenech mumbled.
‘You have discovered, who is the killer? Is it Dr Blackwood?’ Lady Hallworth interjected.
‘I am innocent I tell you!’ Dr Blackwood responded.
‘I shall expound on a systematic exposition of the notion of a perfect murder. The inimical impulse to murder is aligned with a deadly infatuation with revenge’.
‘What do you mean? We don’t have time for your intellectual discourse!’ Lord Thackeray complained.
‘Lord Thackeray ever the intellectual one, who was fond of draughts and French cologne was the last person that accompanied Mr Gresham, before his terrible death’.
'Then he is the killer!' Mr Domenech proclaimed.
‘Mr Domenech the dauntless and chivalrous foreigner from Catalonia, whose wits were enough to court and win over the affection and approbation of the Lady Hallworth’.
'Yes, it was that foul foreigner!' Lord Thackeray riposted.
‘Lady Hallworth the opulent heiress, who fell blindly in love with a coxcomb’.
'She was with that scoundrel, and the jewellery belonged to her!' Lord Thackeray had persisted.
‘Dr Blackwood, you were my principal suspect, before I began to add the missing pieces of this investigation together. You a man of medicine would know how to effectively kill someone and not be easily detected’.
‘And finally Miss Tyndall, the obedient and reclusive woman, who was always attached to the good doctor’.
I had paused then continued, ‘All of you are capable of murder, but there is only one of you, who had the most discernible incentive to murder’.
The intensity grew, as they all looked at each other and then at me, waiting for my response. But as I was about to pronounce the name of the killer, the lights of the chandeliers of the main hall were turned off. The question was by whom? There was confusion in the darkness, and the guests began to become even more nervous. When the lights were turned on again, from amongst the guests was one of them holding a gun and pointing it at us. It was the murderer, the quiet Miss Tyndall.
‘Miss Tyndall, I know the deadly secret of Burgh Island. You cannot get away with murdering us all. I have summoned the constables from the nearby village. They should be arriving at any moment, and I have left behind a letter confirming my suspicion of you, with every detail of this case. Your father had once owned this hotel, and you blame the hotel for your father's ruination? Look, it is here in the cutting of the newspaper I hold in my hand!’
‘Inspector Cauvain, you can’t understand. I have been for many years planning revenge on this hotel and the people gathered here today. My father was a venerable man, who was prosperous, until he was ruined and forced to sell the hotel!'
‘From what I understand Miss Tyndall, his ruination was due to his financial losses’.
‘That is what they want everyone to believe. However, I know the whole truth!’
‘She is mad!’ Uttered Lord Thackeray.
‘Shut up you old fool!’ Miss Tyndall shouted.
‘Are you going to kill us all this night?’ Mr Domenech asked.
‘You, you coward, you should be the second I kill after that old codger!’
'Why me? What do I or any one of us have to do with the ultimate decline in fortune of your father?' Lady Hallworth asked her.
‘Everything, you pompous whore! All of you are the relatives of those avaricious leeches, who had participated in the absolute ruin of my beloved father.'
'What are you asserting Miss Tyndall?' Lady Hallworth insisted.
'All of you are as guilty, as your kinsfolk!' Miss Tyndall replied.
She then spoke to me anew, ‘I must commend you, for your talent to discover the truth. But I am afraid your great adventures as an inspector will abate tonight, with your death!’
‘You are a nurse and were the only other person prepared to know how to murder. Is that not correct Miss Tyndall? I knew that you had poisoned Mr Gresham, and that you had shoved Mrs Langley from the top of the stairway after stabbing her. You shoved also the widow Mrs Eaton off the cliff, to appear as if it was a tragic suicide. As for Mr Breedan you slept with him and killed him in his sleep. You killed Professor Leighton in his sleep too. You choked him afterwards and put a rope around his neck in threw him out of the window, as if he had hung himself. You are a strong woman, despite your demure appearance. You found Lady Hallworth's missing earring and used it for your nefarious plan, as you did with the bottle of French cologne that belonged to Lord Thackeray that you stole. You wanted me to suspect everyone, except you. The effectual implication of your silence was only a pretext to immask your vileness. However, you are not the mastermind behind these murders. It is your father!'
‘You are very clever inspector, but the evidence will die with you and the others. I suppose each person has only a quantum of compassion in their heart, and mine has faded away.’
She had pointed the gun at Lord Thackeray, and ordered him to take one of the glasses of wine that were set on the table nearest to us. There was an hourglass that contained sand.
'The sand in the hourglass will determine how much time you have to live. If the sand reaches the bottom, then your time is evidently over and you will die'.
'What kind of macabre game is this?' Lord Thackeray uttered.
'I assure you Lord Thackeray that this is better than that monotonous game of draughts you play. Now, drink the wine Lord Thackeray, if not, I shall put a bullet straight into your head! Do I need to be more direct in my threat?'
'You want to poison me to death, you devious wench. I shall not!'
'Have it your way!'
Miss Tyndall then shot Lord Thackeray in the head, killing him instantly.
Afterwards, she had ordered Mr Domenech and Lady Hallworth to do the same thing, drink the glass of wine. Seeing what had happened to the irksome Lord Thackeray, they acquiesced involuntarily. First, it was Lady Hallworth who drank the wine, then she was followed by Mr Domenech. We we were all at the expectation of what would occur to the both of them. The sand of the hourglass was quickly evaporating. The sip of the wine had not affected Lady Hallworth, but Mr Domenech gradually began to falter and fall to the ground. His wine glass was poisoned, and he had succumbed to a horrible death, as he convulsed with saliva dripping from his mouth. Why was Lady Hallworth spared?
'Now that the old fool and charlatan are dead that leaves only you Inspector Cauvain, Dr Blackwood and Lady Hallworth.
'Why did you not poison me?' Lady Hallworth demanded.
'You were spared, because you chose a glass that was not poisoned!' I enunciated.
'Precisely! You did not expect to live Lady Hallworth?'
'You murdered Mr Domenech. You are an insensitive murderer!' Lady Hallworth declared.
'Oh, he was indeed a handsome fellow, but he was only interested in your wealth. You can say that he was a temporary lover to amuse your carnal whims and mine. Yes, he too was my lover!'
'That is a blatant lie. I do not believe you. You are completely mad!'
'You can believe what you wish to believe Lady Hallworth.'
Miss Tyndall pointed the gun at Dr Blackwood, and he was forced under extreme duress to drink a glass of wine. Fortunately for him, the wine was not poisoned.
'It appears, it is your lucky day Dr Blackwood. At least for now!'
'It is your turn inspector!'
I too was compelled to take and drink a glass of wine. Like the others who were remaining, my drink was not poisoned.
'Oh, this is indeed a fascinating sequence that is occurring. Unfortunately, the game must continue, and there is no interlude granted. It is time for one of you to die and meet the maker!' Miss Tyndall admitted.
She pointed the gun at the head of Lady Hallworth and demanded that she drink from another glass of wine.
'Now, take another glass from the table and drink the wine. If you do not, I shall kill you. Am I not clear enough, with my words?'
'Yes, quite clear!'
Lady Hallworth had no other option, but to drink the wine. The clock in the hall could be heard ticking, as she slowly began to imbibe the wine and convulse, like Mr Domenech. After several minutes of vivid agony, Lady Hallworth was also dead.
'Oh, the poor devil, for her good luck has dissipated! However, I do not pity her soul!'
'You realise, you will not get away with these vindictive crimes Miss Tyndall. You will be arrested!' I remarked.
'Perhaps, but you will not live to see that day!'
She then pointed the gun at me and ordered that I drink from the glasses that were left full on the table, 'Drink inspector! Your time is speedily running out. The sand is reaching the bottom of the hourglass'.
Whilst we spoke, Dr Blackwood had gradually reached an object. He threw the object at the hand of Miss Tyndall, knocking down her gun. I had recovered it, as Miss Tyndall ran through the corridor attempting to escape. It was futile, since the constables were waiting at the front door. They had captured and arrested her afterwards. Miss Tyndall was escorted to the local police in the nearby village, until she would be prosecuted for her crimes.
Regrettably, the real Mr Rupert Davenport the renowned proprietor of the East Shore Hotel was discovered dead, nearby a lonely footpath. Apparently, he was murdered by Miss Tyndall before he left the island. The inimical impulse for vengeance had been inimitable in her, since her arrival to Burgh Island.
And then there was one culprit left Addison Beverly, the mastermind behind the East Shore Hotel Murders. I had remained inside, with my gun at hand steadily and judiciously. I knew that Mr Beverly the original proprietor of the hotel was somewhere inside the hotel. The question was simply where was he at? Was he in the parlour? Was he in one of the manifold rooms of the hotel? Was he upstairs? Was he downstairs? I was at a complete disadvantage, since he could have been anywhere in the hotel.
I slowly walked around the hotel checking each location that he could had been hiding. I had searched every place downstairs by myself, and then gradually headed up the stairway leading to the second storey of the hotel. When I reached the second storey, I sensed that he had to be in one of these adjacent rooms that I had walked passed. There ahead of me was one exact room, whose door was wide open. I walked towards the room, until I had reached it at last. I could hear the melodious music of a phonograph playing. There inside sitting in an Edwardian chair was lo and behold, Mr Addison Beverly. He had smiled at me, with his impenetrable eyes and inscrutable countenance. He had stopped the music and addressed me, with a sarcastic gesture of hauteur.
'Inspector Cauvain, you are indeed a worthy opponent. I have to admit that I had doubted for a moment that you would be able to solve the mystery of the murders of the East Shore Hotel. I left you several clues to entertain you with, and you must agree that my dearest daughter Agatha was a very good challenge for you.
'That I do not doubt at all Mr Beverly, but the game is over and you have lost!' I said.
'Oh, I believe you are correct inspector, but I shall not concede to defeat so easily!'
'What do you mean?'
'Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once'.
'William Shakespeare!' I uttered.
'Perhaps, it is irrational on my part to attempt to understand your psychosis, but my curiosity demands answers, such as why did you involve your tormented daughter in this scheme of yours? Why did you not kill us all, when you had the chance? Instead, you wasted time on this senseless game of cat and mouse!'
'I believe it was Voltaire who once said, "Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable". My beloved Agatha was always devoted to me, and my vengeance became her boundless obsession! Our plan was brilliantly executed, with the exception of a singular detail. It seems that we have sorely underestimated your immense acuity!'
He had played the music again and then, he began to twitch and cough, as he appeared to agonise in a horrific convulsion. I ran in my attempt to assist him, but it was too late, Mr Beverly was stone dead on the floor. He had put arsenic in his wine glass that was left on top of the table. Apparently, he had drunk this lethal poison before my arrival. His eyes were wide open and staring at me. It was a morbid stare of a haunting nature. His body was soon taken to the morgue, and the case was finally determined.
I left the East Shore Hotel, with the complete satisfaction that I had once more resolved, an inexplicable case that was difficult in nature. I had received within a month afterwards, a letter from Mr Ainsley the receptionist, informing me that the East Shore Hotel was going to be sold to a new proprietor, who preferred to remain anonymous.