The uniquity of murder is that it can manifest in a deceptitious representation that seldom is seen or often is misconstrued, as the malice prepense solely. However, the dauntless mystery lies in the secret that remains abditive. It is a mystery that consumes the minds of people to be, in a fraught apprehension of a pysmatic nature embedded. Is murder incompatible to a Machiavellian ruse pretermitted, when the cause is not incompossible to the inducement of that brazen chicanery? The notion of the probability of that concurrent event is unsettling, and it is quite real to bear witness to the exactitude of a maddening game of death that knows no boundary of principle. Thus, it becomes a fascinating sequence of analytical prowess that is apodeictic, between the sleuth and the criminal. An intriguing game of chess, where one plays until checkmate has been conclusively effectuated. There is always a visible terror that is attached to the constant peril and secrecy of any murder, but this inusitate case that had required my immediate involvement was telling in the vulpine nature of its duplicity utilised. The memorable case that I describe was known as ‘The stain of the crimson blood’.
The year was 1893, and I was in the immemorial city of Paris, France to assist my old friend and compeer Hugo Bonheur, the assiduous prefect of the Prefecture of Police in Paris. According to him, there was a series of murders occurring that were insoluble and as well inexplicable. I was an analytical and perseverant inspector, by the name of Jack Cauvain, who had an impeccable reputation throughout Europe and abroad. I had been in Gibraltar working on a recent case that was finally resolved in the coastal village of Torremolinos in Spain, when I had received the exigent letter from the prefect. There were little details provided in the letter that could relate sufficient information about the case, but I noticed in the contents of the letter that the prefect was extremely concerned, with the murders' increasing effects on the city. I understood that grave preoccupation, since I lived in a great metropolitan city also.
Once I arrived in Paris Bonheur was there to kindly greet me at the Gare du Nord train station. It had been briefly raining, when I descried the troubled expression seen, on his circumspect mien so patently. At first, I was uncertain of what to say to the amiable prefect. I had recognised the familiar flat circular top peaked cap that was his kepi. He had always addressed me, with the title of inspector than detective.
‘Good God Bonheur, judging from the expressive gesture of your countenance, I would assume that you have seen a living spectre!’ I exclaimed.
‘Inspector Cauvain my old friend, you are ever difficult to trick, but I am very grateful that you came at once to Paris’, Bonheur replied.
‘Enough with the idle talk, and let us now concentrate on the matter at hand my boy!’
‘Where do we begin?’
‘Naturally, from the beginning!'
‘I shall tell you everything, along the way to the latest crime scene, but before we shall stop at the Hotel Terminus, where you will be staying’.
‘Good, I shall be looking forward in hearing, what you have to disclose’.
From the hotel we left for the location of the crime scene that was inside the National Museum of Natural History at the Rue Cuvier, where the recent murder was perpetrated. It was an eerie sight that I had witnessed, as I arrived there at the museum. The body of the deceased victim had been discovered in the main gallery, by the curator without the head. The victim Monsieur Legrand was a middle-aged man whose missing head had been dissevered completely from the torso, by the sharp blade of an authentic guillotine that had been placed, as one of the special attractions of the museum. The gruesome nature of the disturbing act was reflected, in the barbaric contrivance of the ancient guillotine associated to the French Revolution. I had seen only in the vivid illustrations of books a beheading, but I had never had a case that was the cause of an actual instance of one. I was not absolutely certain in the beginning what could have stirred an individual to effectively kill someone else so callously, with this archaic method of execution? Immediately, I had started the initial process of deciphering the murder, and the mysterious inducement of the intrepid murderer, and my observation was keen on the blade of the guillotine.
‘I have only heard and read about the infamous contraption of the guillotine and its ghastly effects, but seeing one in person is indeed impressive’, I asserted.
Bonheur had seen several times my expressive gestures to know that I was musing, ‘There is something that you are presently contemplating. What is on your mind?'
‘The maniacal populace of Paris before, but if you must know I was thinking exactly at the time of your question, the irony of the guillotine’.
"What do you mean inspector? I am afraid that I don't truly understand your point’.
‘At times, the most obvious clue is not always, the most significant. The one thing to the veracity of any murder is to establish the incontrovertible facts. Apparently, we know that the murder was cold-blooded in nature, but the murderer was extremely calculative in his planning and audacity'.
‘I still do not comprehend!'
‘Simple Bonheur, the guillotine though stationary and daunting can be an affictitious ruse to hoodwink one. I shall be more convincing in my elucidation. The killer wanted us to believe that the victim was executed by the guillotine, when in all actuality he was killed not by a guillotine, but by a whetted dagger or knife’.
‘How can you be certain of that inconclusive assumption?'
I pointed to the wounds on the right side of the punctured kidney with the dried blood that was different within the composition. The colour of the blood from the neck was crimson compared to the stammel red of the wound, ‘There is the obvious difference, the crimson blood’.
Bonheur still puzzled enquired, ‘Ah, I think I understand, but you are saying that the victim was killed before he was beheaded?'
‘Indeed! The killer most likely knew the hours of the museum, and the layout of the building comprised, with its splendid galleries and people who would be walking about in the Rue Cuvier at that late hour. He also was aware of the hours of the curator. Therefore, he had calculated the murder, but what he did not foresee was the untimely presence of the curator, who had arrived earlier at the museum. That is called autoschediasm’.
‘If I understand your logic inspector, the murderer had stabbed the victim to death, and then was forced to improvise, since the curator was in the museum. He saw the guillotine and realised that by decapitation he would easily dispose of the body'.
‘Precisely! That way he would make us believe the poor victim died due to a beheading, and not to a deliberate stabbing as was the case’.
In spite of the tangible admission of evidence left behind by the killer, there was not sufficiently enough to conclude much of a decisive profile of the culprit. Therefore, we were forced to surmise a theory inferred, by the sequence of the terrible incident based on hypothetical circumstances. I was convinced that the murderer had killed Monsieur Legrand with a sharp object, but what I had not been positive of was the direction, in which the murderer had promptly absconded.
The Republican Guards were present and noticeable in the streets of Paris, and their honourable duty was to be commended. They were summoned and distributed in the area for protection, due to the sudden acts of anarchy committed by some fanatical anarchists, who were stirring the populace uncontrollably. I had not descried Paris in such a frenzy or chaotic situation ever in my prior visits to the city, but I had noticed that the rhedarious carriages, the sluggish tramways, and the brisk quadracycles were prevalent in the city as were the abundant taximètres. The fond Parisian fragrance with pleasurable sillage was missing, as well were the gay chic Frenchwomen of the magasin du Bon Marché. These were precarious moments in Paris, and acts of crimes were increasingly visible, and I perceived Bonheur's consternation. I did not feel like a retardataire, but there was something odd happening in the city. There was a clear distinction I believed with this death; although I could not rule out the possibility that the murderer was connected to the maddened fervour of the brash anarchists.
At the time I was not mindful of the extent of the agenda of the murderer, or the valid reason behind the recent murders, but I pondered the escape route taken by the trenchant criminal. When we spoke at length to the curator who discovered the body of Monsieur Legrand, he was still relatively shaken with the grisly discovery. I was not interested in his facial expressions merely, but the practical description of the murderer that could allow me to deduce an effectual hypotyposis that was substantial. Unfortunately, the curator did not see plainly the culprit, nor was he perspicuous in divulging his information. Thus, there was not much to ponder from the aspect of the deposition of the witness, and I thought it would be wiser, if we headed to the Prefecture of Police that was located, in the Place Louis Lépine on the Île de la Cité.
Bonheur had concurred, and we left the area of the museum and once at the Prefecture of Police we discussed the intricate details of the murders, including the last murder committed. I had attempted to correlate the area in which the murders were perpetrated, with the brutal methods of execution employed by the murderer. There were four murders committed in its totality, and each as I had aforementioned done within, such an atrocious manner that depicted the indifferent characterisation of the dastardly deeds of the murderer. This I thought peculiar and quite indicative of the significance of this unsolved case. The crucial pieces of evidence of the ongoing investigation were the horrible facts that the victims were all missing their heads, and the stains of crimson blood exposed. The first murder took place at the towering Tour Eiffel, where the victim Monsieur Leduc was discovered dangling from his feet listless and stone dead. The second murder Monsieur Chaveau was found in the river Seine floating dead from an apparent cut to the throat, before being tossed into the river. The third murder Monsieur Picard inside the interior of the Sainte-Chapelle, another execution. This time the victim was beaten to death, by most likely a heavy cudgel of some sort. The last murder was Monsieur Legrand, who was found decapitated in the museum, under the sharp blade of a heinous guillotine unmercifully.
The extrinsic elements of the case had to be taken in consideration, since we could not determine the origin of the criminal or the connection with the reason behind these murders. Was he a Frenchman or a foreigner? The few witnesses, who attested to have seen a stranger fleeing or near the vicinity of the murders said that he looked or sounded German, French, or even African. This could not be totally confirmed or corroborated, but it did offer us a contingent insight to one of the intriguing components of the profile of the criminal.
I had instructed Bonheur to have the gendarmes enquire in the plentiful arrondissements of any recent anarchists foreign or national, whilst we headed towards the centre in search of any reliable clues. Once there, we were approached by a young pulchritudinous flower seller, who had titian and sinuous curls with a retroussé nose, pulling a small cart at the Rue Montorgueil.
‘Messieurs, will you be so kind to buy me a flower? I am only a poor widow with child’.
‘Not now mademoiselle. We do not have time to spend on idle parley! We must tend to official matters,’ Bonheur said.
‘Qui Monsieur, but know that I believe I saw your elusive killer'.
‘What are you saying mademoiselle?' Bonheur asked with insistence.
‘Qui!' The flower seller uttered.
‘Whither?' I interjected.
‘At the Rue Saint-Denis!' She exclaimed.
I was not certain if she was telling the truth, or merely attempting to cavil us, ‘The Rue Saint-Denis you say? Exactly when?'
‘Impossible, since the gendarmes have been patrolling the area, and the Republican Guards are vigilant as well seeking the anarchists!' Bonheur interrupted.
‘True Monsieur, but there are streets where the anarchists or criminals can hide’, the flower seller insinuated.
Bonheur was adamant of his incredulity of her statement and knowledge of the area, ‘You expect me to believe what you say mademoiselle, knowing that you are addressing the Prefect of the Prefecture of Police?'
‘No need to be smugly Bonheur—for we must be open to listen to any potential clues that can assist us in the case. The public is always the first place to enhance an investigation from’, I told Bonheur.
I then directed my question to the young lady, ‘Mademoiselle, please can you tell us at what hour precisely did you see this individual fleeing the Rue Saint-Denis? And where did he go afterwards?'
‘Since I did not have a watch, I could not tell at first, but as I crossed the boulevard, I looked at the clock of the shop of a watchmaker at the Rue Saint-Denis and saw that it was eleven o'clock’, she related.
‘How much time elapsed, when you saw the hour mademoiselle?'
‘Not much monsieur! Perhaps five minutes or so’, she answered.
‘But where did he go?' Bonheur interceded.
‘To the Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle, I think. Oh, it was so dark and misty’.
‘Then how could you be absolutely sure that you saw him go there?' Bonheur persisted with his dubiety.
‘I only tell you what I saw prefect, and it is for you to decide, whether to believe me or not’, she responded.
‘What did he look like?'
‘He was of swarthy complexion like an African’, she disclosed.
‘An African? Then you are saying that the man you saw fleeing was a black man? Did you hear him speak?'
‘Not a single word prefect', she muttered.
I abated the tense conversation between them, ‘Good, that will be all mademoiselle for now. If there is more information, you have for us, then come to the Prefecture of Police at once, or inform one of the gendarmes patrolling. Is that understood?'
‘Qui!’ She said.
Bonheur, who was a constant professional and man of the law was not totally persuaded, by the lovely young flower seller's version of events; but from my recollection and surveillance of the Rue Saint-Denis, I knew that it extended from the Victoria Avenue to the other boulevard that was Boulevard de Sébastopol. There was an actual feasibility that the culprit could have absconded, through this adjacent boulevard, because of the sundry trees and poor weather visibility. The probable nature of that abscondment did not exclude our killer, and I pondered the vague description of the African fleeing. I remembered the reference of an African, yet I needed more evidence. Whilst I busied in my thoughts Bonheur was more aligned to thinking that the culprit was an anarchist or a fringe anarchist. He had repeated once more, the chaotic period Paris was currently confronting.
I knew of the death of ‘Ravachol’ in the year of 1892, and the labour unrest that was growing. I was unaware of the ominous threat of anarchy that was gradually effecting the apparent embedded disillusionment of the Parisians that was enveloping the mob. This matter was of a grave concern to Bonheur and the Guardians of the Public Peace that consisted of guardians, brigadiers, and Republican Guard soldiers, who protected the President at the Elysée Palace. It was also a notice of their commanding presence.
There was not much forensic evidence to base a foundation of logic and the only pertinent clues discovered were the distinctive methods of execution, and the ambiguous description of an African fleeing from one of the areas of the crime scenes given, by the flower seller. I had sensed that amidst these unusual elements of terror and uncertainty that were contaminating the city, the murders were somehow attached to the rousing plight of the anarchists. However, I did contemplate the plausibility of anarchy being a concise subterfuge in nature.
Another merciless murder would have to be committed, for the investigation to finally retrieve its most important clue yet. The eventide advesperascited and the hour of the night was approaching, as I was in the camaranious settings of the hotel I was sojourning. Suddenly, I heard a loud explosion coming from outside of the area, and I stepped on to the street, where there were numerous gendarmes and Republican Guards running towards the vicinity of the Restaurant Vèry that was located near the Louvre, in the Le Grand Véfour neighborhood with the colonnaded trees. I immediately was met by Bonheur, who had arrived to the crime scene from the Prefecture of Police. His unsettling countenance reflected, the expressed gesture of his disgust and anxiety. There were dead bodies scattered on the ground. I counted 15 individuals at least, and amongst them 20 badly wounded, amidst the crowd amassed.
‘Good God Bonheur, what in heaven's sake has happened here? I heard an obstreperous noise from the hotel that rimbombed, like a massive explosion!' I iterated.
‘Qui inspector you are correct. I am afraid that the cowardly anarchists have struck again!' Bonheur replied.
‘Any witnesses or suspects?'
‘Qui! But more importantly, the criminal was captured!' Bonheur averred.
‘Good, do we know his name?'
‘Qui, his name is Didier Dufour. His blackened fingers were evidence that he had partaken in the crime’.
‘Where is he at presently?'
‘He is at the Prefecture of Police’.
‘Good, we shall go there forthwith, but I must know were there any clues found?'
After examining the crime scene, I had noticed the footprints that were left behind by someone fleeing the area and I pointed them to Bonheur, ‘Look there at the soily footprints on the ground! They are going in the opposite direction! This tells me that the killer had an accomplice Bonheur’.
‘I shall have the diligent gendarmes make ichnograms of this valuable clue’, Bonheur pronounced.
The bombing had caused me to evaluate my thoughts and required a very thorough circumspection of the murders. My instinct had led me to believe that the anarchists were not solely behind the lethean episodes of murders that were occurring in Paris, instead, a secret society or cult. This new incident had altered the absolute complexity of the murders, and the involvement of the anarchists had begun to incite the Parisians and the newspapers, with local bruits and balderdash. Le Petit Parisiene one of the most popular and influential newspapers in the city had printed not only the atrocious bombing, but had directly implied the anarchists were involved in the unsolved murders also that we had been attempting to solve. This was not ideally what the case needed—for the general public to be swayed so easily, without knowing all the solid facts of the evidence. However, I was wont to the trenchant criticisms and concoctions of the newspapers back in England, and was prepared for this tedious inevitability. Bonheur, on the other hand was not. He was flustered by this unwelcome distraction. The prolongation of this case was slowly wearing him down to the extent that he was more resolute to solve the lingering mystery.
We had left the crime scene and headed towards the Prefecture of Police to speak, with the suspect who was apprehended. Once at the Prefecture of Police, I had requested to assist Bonheur in the specific interrogation of the suspect, and he had reluctantly acquiesced.
However, the suspect Mr Dufour was not inclined to confess much, except his indisputable participation in the crime and his anarchic views. He failed to acknowledge his accomplices, and what organisation was he affiliated with. Dufour seemed quite convincing and resolved in his conviction. What was scarcely known of him was little information, except that he was an oafish French national, who lived in a rebarbative rookery of Paris. To Bonheur, Dufour was a facinerous criminal, who deserved the ultimate punishment under French law, the abhorrent guillotine. Even though his future was fatalistic and grim, Dufour did not budge in his attitude and mien towards us. His bumptious defiance was manifest, but Bonheur was not dissuaded at any time during the interrogation, by the fouty behaviour of Dufour and his dilatory tactics. On the contrary, his resolution was firm, as he sought to break the composure of Dufour. I could not contravene the complete authority of the prefect, since I was in his country and jurisdiction. The only thing I could do was to offer my expertise and experience.
Bonheur had insisted that I understand the complex nature of not only Parisian crime, but the recent and horrible developments, with the fierce anarchists that were disturbing. Naturally, I had admired his dedication and diligence, nevertheless I felt that by intimidating Dufour, nothing would be verily attained. I did not want to be opposed to any of the efficient tactics of Bonheur, therefore I tried to maintain the equanimity in him. I needed him about, and with his wits spry and focused.
Whilst Bonheur was occupied in his bold attempt to extrapolate keen information from Dufour, I had concentrated on adding the bits of clues that were operative to the case. I was extremely mindful of the ramifications of our instant failure, and I was not going to allow the criminal or criminals to escape arrest sooner than later. I thought of the young lovely flower seller, who we had recently spoken to, but I did not know where she lived. Thus, I had returned to the street where we met her. When I reached the street she was not present, and I was told by a frowsy peddler that Mademoiselle Chaumette lived in the quarter of Montmarte that was a slum next to another slum called Belleville. I found her on the edge of her home.
‘Mademoiselle Chaumette’, I addressed her.
‘Inspector Cauvain, what brings you here monsieur?' She asked with a surprised look.
‘I didn't mean to disturb or startle you mademoiselle, but I was wondering, if you could answer a few questions that I have concerning the African you mentioned before. Now, you said that he fled on the Bonne Nouvelle from the Rue Saint-Denis. Did he scurry to the Victoria Avenue or the Boulevard Sébastopol?'
‘Perhaps it was the Boulevard Sébastopol, but it was misty, and I am afraid I could not see well’.
‘But well enough to know in what direction he came from, and the colour of his skin in the plenitude of the night mademoiselle’, I contended.
‘Oh, he was an African. Of that I am certain!' She rejoined.
‘I did not come here to reproach your version of events, but merely to question you. That is all’, I affirmed.
‘I understand monsieur, and do forgive me—for I was not expecting to see you here in the quarter today. I am a humble woman, and as you see I live in a humble area’, she explained, with a bit of a maudlin passion.
‘That is not a crime, and I shall leave you to tend to your daily matters’.
In my contemplative thoughts, I had cogitated the validity of the statement that was given, by the young Mademoiselle Chaumette, whose words were to her axiomatic. I perceived there was ambiguity in her words, but at the same time, she was confident that the man fleeing was an African, or of African origin. What obvious inducement could cause her to fabricate a concocted lie?
I soon returned to the Prefecture of Police, where Bonheur had finished his intense interrogation with Dufour. There was no change in the position of Dufour, and he remained defiant until the end. I interpreted the expressive frustration on the look of the eyes of Bonheur and realised he was not content. He was somewhat lost and thoughtless for a moment, then he mused his next step meditatively. The next step as I was concerned was to understand the distinct reason these men were chosen for the sanguinary executions.
I had one of the punctilious gendarmes already investigating the matter inform me of the occupations of the victims and their business transactions too. In the list compiled, I had learnt that the victims were all wealthy merchants or bankers, who had been against the anarchist’s movement since the beginning. Nonetheless, what I thought peculiar was the fact that they all made transactions to an unknown company by the name of ‘Charbonnier Textile’, within the commune of Asnières, in particular the arrondissement of Bernay; and to a gentleman by the name of Herr Gerhardt Hasenkamp, from Wilhelmsbad Germany.
I had the sapient perception that we were dealing indeed, with a secret society or a serpentine cult that was scheming, a very nefarious plan. I began to consider the ostentiferous nature of the crimes and their unmissable attachment to the deceased victims. Once this vital information was revealed to us, I suggested to Bonheur that a couple of the gendarmes be sent to Bernay to indagate the involvement of Charbonnier Textile with the victims, whilst we stayed behind in Paris to continue the arduous investigation.
Dufour was still at the Prefecture of Police being held, and there was no chance of him being released, since he admitted his blatant guilt in the bombing. I knew it would take a day or so, for the gendarmes to discover the truth behind this unfamiliar company, in the middle of north-east France. As for the mysterious German Herr Gerhardt Hasenkamp, we discovered through our German contacts in Germany that this man did not exist. That is to say that it was an alias and not the man's true name. The pending question was then, who was Herr Gerhadt Hasenkamp in real life?
When we finally received a telegraph from one of the gendarmes in Bernay notifying us that the company as well was non-existent it was the clue that started to piece the puzzle together. Upon hearing the new evidence, Bonheur was more convinced of an anarchist plot to overthrow the present government and the involvement of the Germans. If this was without a doubt proven, then Bonheur knew what the consequence would mean for his country, another possible war with Germany. It had been since 1871, when the Franco-Prussian War ended. That was nearly 23 years ago, but it was a profound wound that neither had forgotten, in particular the French. The implication of German meddling not only was a disconcerting disclosure, but the horrendous prospect of war, between the two European countries also. The preoccupation of Bonheur with this realistic possibility had elevated the urgency to speak to Dufour.
I could not disagree, for I knew the bombing was an elaborate ruse utilised, by the culprits to sidetrack the investigation. Once more Bonheur sought to speak to Dufour forthwith, but when he raught his cell, Dufour was dead. His body was found hanged, and he had committed suicide, or at least this is what it appeared happened. Bonheur could not believe what had occurred, and he was livid. He blamed the prison guards for their ineptitude and the death of Dufour. I was compelled to calm Bonheur, and explain to him that it was necessary to be judicious in our reactions.
‘Although it seems that Dufour was murdered, we cannot bring him back to life. We must concentrate on deciding what to do next’.
‘You expect me to be calm, when we are on the verge of another war with Germany?' Bonheur ejaculated.
‘Of course I understand that Bonheur. However, if we do not solve this case, then the murders will continue, and war will be much more than a mere unavoidability. It could develop into a broader war’.
‘What do you mean inspector?'
‘I mean more countries could get involved in this wretched war that you speak of,' I clarified.
‘I have a strong hunch that the anarchists are being deceived by the real culprits, who until now remain completely incognito’, I argued.
‘Incognito? Who?' Bonheur asked with persistency.
‘That is the veracious mystery. But, we shall soon discover that fact’.
Bonheur had ordered for the city to be under a strict observance of the new curfew that was to be imposed forcefully. Security was increased at such renowned monuments as the Place de la Bastille, the Louvre museum, the Musée d'Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe, the Tuileries Garden, the obelisk of Luxor in the Place de la Concorde. The Arc de Triomphe, the Grande Arche of La Défense, the lawns of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, the Jardin des Plantes, and the Élysée Palace, residence of the French President, along with the Hôtel de Ville, were all included on this list of principal monuments to be safeguarded.
Anon, I heard of another troubling incident, the death of the flower woman Mademoiselle Chaumette, who was apparently murdered. The question was by whom, since she was not a solivagant woman? When we had arrived to the crime scene on the Boulevard Montmartre, her dead body that was found by a voiturier was badly dismembered. I was bitterly regretful for the death of Mademoiselle Chaumette, and the one central witness to the case had been brutally murdered. Despite this heinous act, there was one clue that was retrieved that was exceedingly pivotal, and that was a card, from the Hôtel Continental that was on the Rue de Castiglione. We were told by a witness that Mademoiselle Chaumette was seen speaking to an African man, before the murder had betided. I remembered her discussing with me the eccentric well-dressed African, and I was interested in resolving the enigma of his identity. We headed to the hotel afterwards, and thereafter we spoke to the receptionist at the front desk.
When we did, I asked if there was a refined and mollitious African gentleman, who was registered at the hotel. He promptly had recalled such a man, who was exactly seen in the ballroom the prior night in the company of Mademoiselle Chaumette. His name was listed as Gustav Mengue, who was living in France. Thus, we had discovered he was a Cameroonian in origin, but French by citizenship.
‘What does this African have to do with the murders inspector?' Bonheur enquired.
‘Perchance everything Bonheur. You see, he could be our killer or better lead us to the killers! In my opinion, I have concluded that there is a secret society, who is behind these murders’, I stated.
‘But why would a prosperous African be involved, with a sinister secret society?'
‘I know it may not make any practical sense, but it does, when you think of the incentive that could impel this man to murder, such as the fact that he is originally from Kamerun, a German colony presently’, I opined.
‘Are you suggesting that this man is the actual killer?' Bonheur insisted.
‘That is for us to definitely confirm’.
Time was of the essence, and like the sand of an hour glass, our time was gradually running out. The receptionist also made a fascinating disclosure. He told us that the African was not alone, and had been seen accompanied in several occasions, with a strange man who was a daedal rastaquouère, or least he seemed in appearance. We were fortunate that we had a name, but the name given was not of Spanish or South American origin. The name registered was Borislav Bakalov, and he was a Bulgarian nationalist, from one of the vassal states of the Ottoman Empire. What was the direct linkage, with the Cameroonian and the Bulgarian? Bonheur was anxious to find the two strangers, and he knew the press and the newspapers would be quickly stirring the Parisians to fright and panic. We had to be more proficient in our approach, and we had to confer the information that we knew to the Republican Guards, who were guarding the president and the other national politicians.
We had gleaned from the details of the proof established, and the hunt to capture the two evasive men had been pursued, with a pressing necessity. We had numerous large printed pictures of the presumable suspects placed all around Paris, and in the different parts of France. It did not take long, before Bakalov was arrested the following day in the city of Toulouse. We headed to Toulouse, sensing that it was better to speak to Bakalov outside of Paris. This was determined before we departed Paris, and once we arrived at Toulouse, we spoke to Bakalov in privacy. At first, he was hesitant to converse at all, but after being confronted with the dire reality of being sent to the guillotine he had changed his mind drastically, and maundered on about the case. I had joined Bonheur in the dim interrogation room, where Bakalov was waiting.
The day was rainy, and there was a cold draught of autumn that had entered through the recesses of the walls of the interrogation room, as we entered afterwards. Bakalov was extremely nervous as he saw us enter, and Bonheur was eager to intimidate him from the start. It was agreed amongst us that Bonheur would speak to him. We knew that Bakalov spoke French, with a natural Bulgarian accent. Since I spoke and understood French, I listened closely to the interrogation. Bonheur was rigorous in his questions, and I heard Bakalov make quite a startling confession. At last, the secrecy of the secret society was unveiled, and we discovered through Bakalov's admission that it was the unusual order of the ‘Illuminatenorden’ or the ‘Order of Illuminati’. The original name for the new order was ‘Das Bund der Perfektibilisten’ or the ‘Covenant of Perfectibility’. Adam Weishaupt was the supreme founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, and their last known reunion or gathering was at the ruined castle that was built by Prince Charles of Hesse-Kassel in the park at Wilhelmsbad, venue for the final convent of the Strict Observance. It was the exact Wilhelmsbad that the transactions dealt with Germany and a certain Herr Hasenkamp. I was the first to be flummoxed, by this incredible revelation of Bakalov.
I knew of many cults and secret societies in Europe, but I had not heard much of the Illuminati, since the organisation had ceased to operate in the 19th century. Bakalov had related how the operations of the Illuminati were done in a hugger-mugger fashion that was too inconspicuous and gave us the names of local merchants, who were devout members of the association. The names were Gautier, Dumont, Deschamps, Boulanger, Dubois, Charbonnier, Bernier, Lemond, amongst others. There was another list that was more disturbing. According to Bakalov, the targets of the Illuminati were reputable business people of France. I told Bonheur to order one of his gendarmes to substantiate this confession of Bakalov.
‘Mon Dieu inspector, the list of targets include the beautiful star of French theatre Alice Regnault, and wealthy businessmen such as Louis Vuitton, Louis Renault, Louis Biériot, the Lumière brothers, Alfred Cartier—the watchmaker’, Bonheur vociferated.
‘A conspiracy Bonheur at its best! The question I pose is this limited to this list of famous individuals?' I suspected.
‘I pray that it is—for if not, then the conspirators or anarchists will achieve their mad objective’, Bonheur conceded.
‘Let us not indulge their caprices and play their duplicitous game'.
‘What do you suggest we do next?'
‘We must be one step ahead of the criminals always to foil their operations’.
‘By devising an effective plan to capture all of the current members, as soon as possible. We know that they seek the ultimate summotion of the French government, and most likely other governments too’, I articulated.
‘Qui, but how?'
‘That is simple, we shall offer the criminals genuine bait’.
‘Bait, please explain’.
‘We entice the murderers to commit another crime, but not any ordinary crime. We shall make them believe the president will be having a secret reunion, with the German Kaiser. Of course we know that is not true. However, the criminals will not know’.
I proceeded to expound my proposed plan to Bonheur, down to each detail and calculation prevised. We had no option but to effectuate this plan, with perfection. Failure would have brought a catastrophic result that would have been afterwards extremely consequential. I was counting on an overt miscue on the part of the criminals, to eventually solve this perplexing case. The only foreseeable problem was, if the sequence of events that were to transpire would occur in the manner that I had predicted. We had dossiers compiled on each and every subject be it criminal or possible victim included in the lists. A postulate could serve as a key association, and it could be a proof of causation, when it was intrinsic to the definement of the murders and murderers.
The two houses of the French Parliament were located on the Left Bank and were on alert. The upper house the Senate, was located in the Palais du Luxembourg within the 6th arrondissement, whilst the more vital lower house, the Assemblée Nationale was located in the Palais Bourbon, within the 7th arrondissement. The President of the Senate, the second-highest public official in France, lived in the 'Petit Luxembourg', a smaller palace that was an extension to the Palais du Luxembourg. All was in place then, for the plan to take effect, and for it to succeed.
Balakov had been moved to another secret place outside of Paris and guarded, as we left to the selected area, where the president and the Kaiser of Germany were to meet in isolation. We had the duplicates of both arrive, and then enter the château at Montmartre that was on top of a large hill in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. We had waited with the Republican Guards outside from afar, as we were joined by the gendarmes. All of us were dressed incognito, so that we would not be easily identified by the culprits. We had conscientious sharpshooters on the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit, in case they were needed.
At around two o’clock in the midday, a shot was heard ringing from inside the château. Then several rounds of bullets were heard echoing outside. When we had reached the area, the duplicate of the French President was lying on the ground dead, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest by the culprit, who had disguised himself as one of the servants who were there tending to the needs of the duplicates. It was regretful that the duplicate had to die in order for the plan to be a success, but it was something which we were all cognisant of its actual feasibility. The obvious goal was to capture, whoever dared to assassinate the Kaiser or the French President. The culprit was later identified as a French national by the name of Monsieur Bertrand Bourdillon, who was an anarchist.
However, as we were there, we received notice from the gendarmes who remained at the Police Prefecture that the African was seen, as he sped towards the Boulevard Montmatre. The gendarmes and the Republican Guards who were patrolling headed towards the Boulevard de la Madeleine or the Boulevard des Italiens to seize him, but he eluded their capture. To make the matter worse, several of the most prominent senators of France were reported missing. There was a note left behind that clearly stated that they were all abducted by an anonymous organisation, who did not wish to reveal its identity.
We had left with immediacy Montmatre and returned to the Police Prefecture, where we spoke to one of the captains of the gendarmes, who reported that the city was under a stricter curfew. Bonheur was exceedingly nervous, and I was a bit rattled as well with this new tidings. We had to think about where these imperative men could have been taken with cognition. I knew that they could not be far, since the whole city and its peripheries were completely patrolled, by the gendarmes and even the Republican Guards. Bonheur was terribly clueless to where they could be at, but I happened to realise one particular place they could be sequestered. I came to this rational conclusion based on the most hidden place in Paris that was synonymous with death and mystery.
‘Blimey Bonheur, I know the place where they could be at!' I exclaimed.
‘Where inspector?' Bonheur enquired.
‘At the Catacombs of the ancient embastilled Paris!' I ejaculated.
‘Are you certain of that?'
‘Indeed! We must hurry now, before it is well-nigh too late!'
Once there at the drear and primeval catacombs of obscuration, we entered them with extreme caution and watchful eyes. The catacombs were underground ossuaries, which held the remains of many individuals, within a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate ancient stone mines. It had extended south from the Barrière d’Enfer the former city gate, where the ossuary was constructed as part of the effort to eliminate the city's overflowing cemeteries. It was said that in 1786, nightly processions of covered waggons had transported many remains from most of the local cemeteries to a mine shaft opened, nearby the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire. The ossuary we would enter comprised in its totality only a small section of the underground ‘Carrières de Paris’. The catacombs were the perfect place for an abditory or latibule. I had never entered a catacomb and was uncertain of what to expect.
Nonetheless, we went forth deeper into the tunnels until we were met by the African man who we were searching for. He was dressed as a dapper gent and was fairly tall and athletic in constitution. He had a very powerful and fearless gaze in his eyes that could intimidate any person who tried to defy him. He was holding a pistol in his right hand, and he soon addressed us, with a contumelious smirk. I sensed that he was only a pawn utilised by an even bigger pawn, the king.
‘It is good to meet you at last gentlemen. I thought we would never meet. My name is Gustav Mengue, but I am sure that you know that by now’, The African said.
‘Yes, we know who you are monsieur! Now, give up—tell us where the senators are at. We have the place surrounded', Bonheur ordered.
‘Doubtful, since this place is not suspected. Do you liken me to a gullible gudgeon or poltroon?'
‘What do you want for us Monsieur Mengue? Rest assure that you will not get away with this. It is not too late to save yourself’, I urged him.
‘Perhaps that is true Inspector Cauvain, but surely you must know by now that I am very callous in my artful wiles. But, they are not as bad, as the fastuous wiles of the politicians’.
‘You will not leave these catacombs monsieur. You must decide, if you will leave alive or dead!' Bonheur interjected.
‘That is quite an interesting analogy prefect, but my choice is rather facile. I choose to live and not die under a bullet, or under the guillotine’, the African stated.
‘True monsieur, and it is a terrible way to death. Notwithstanding, by killing us and killing the politicians you will not solve the problem with corrupted governments’, I told him.
‘What do you know of corrupted governments inspector?' He smiled.
‘Enough to know that the novaturient cause that you champion is futile and will not satisfy your appetition. You see monsieur, it is like the atheists who share a blind theomony, and hope that the world will change to satisfy their destined beliefs perforce, when it is nothing more than a fanciful morosis of an erroneous miscalculation and nugacity. I beg that you forsake your illicit cause, and the protreptical message’.
'You possess a very brilliant mind, but it is too late for you and the prefect. There is no pretence that could counterfeit such irony. I don't seek fame, instead recognition for our cause,' he admitted with a subtle accismus.
He led us then to the main ossuary where there in front of us were endless skulls of deceased men and women, including the skulls of the victims he had murdered. He had confessed his crimes, and he was not going to allow us to leave alive, at the eveniency of his capture. As Mengue was about to pull the trigger, the top part of one of the lower ceilings of the statuminated tunnel had collapsed completely upon him knocking him to the ground, and killing him. This time there was no celeripedean escape for him. We were fortunate to escape the collapse and reached the area where the politicians were sequestered. They were all alive and freed, and afterwards we were able to arrest all the other members who had participated in the murders and the scheme in France and in Germany.
Bonheur had accompanied me to Germany, where we discovered at the ruined castle in Wilhelmsbad the powerful men of the Illuminati, who had ordered the African and others to murder. They were ten prominent men in total, who were arrested by German authorities, as they were seated around a solid black oak table gathered, including the illustrious Herr Gerhardt Hasenkamp. His true identity was revealed afterwards. They did not expect our arrival and were defiant until the end. Thus, abated the recondite case of 'The stain of the crimson blood’. Their blanscue was recounted in the facts of the case and the mystery of the ancient order. They were seen as a galère by society, but their cause did serve as the atermoiement that had delayed our effort to solve this case. Their objective was a dicaearchy, and the criminal usage of chronanagrams to cryptically express support for their cause was a coherentific factor in spreading their message, and seeking recruitment for their mission. The secretive group had once been vilified by conservative and religious critics in the past, who claimed that they existed clandestinely and were responsible for the inception of the French Revolution. Strangely, the Illuminati were accused of conspiring to control world affairs, by plotting events, in order to gain political power and great influence to achieve their ultimate goal of establishing a New World Order.