Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, August 10, 1891, through Sunday, January 17, 1892
Entering the questionable structure, they found that it was indeed a drinking establishment for miners. The interior had a dirt floor, was dimly lit, and contained an uninviting clientele. Shortly after they entered, a huge man approached them. It was hard to determine if his hair and beard were naturally black or if the soot he was caked with had made it that way. And, if his clothes were once a color other than black, it was hard to imagine them returning to that shade.
Smelling of alcohol, the burly man proclaimed, "Y’all ain’t members of this place. You either gotta leave or apply fer membership.” “And how might we apply for such membership,” Archibald inquired, almost afraid of the answer. The big man broke into a gap-toothed grin and said, “One of ya have ta fight me an’ win.”
The others patrons began to laugh, hoot and holler. Fredryck stepped up to the man. The man was more than six inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier than Fredryck. “I’ll oblige you,” he offered.
The patrons cheered the man and called him Jeremiah as grinned, he took off his shirt and put up his dukes. The other patrons started making bets, but they all seem to be on how quickly it would take Jeremiah to win, not if he would win. Bartley, Archibald, Dracona and Evgenia decided to get involved in the betting. But, they were taking straight bets on Fredryck beating Jeremiah. The miners were all over that action, some of them betting up to $2 on Jeremiah. The barkeep agreed to hold the bet money as the two squared off.
“I’ll give you the first swing,” Fredryck said as he put up his fists, not absolutely certain he could take Jeremiah. Jeremiah came in swinging and landed a few bruising blows by the time Fredryck reacted with his own volley. Again, Jeremiah beat his fists into Fredryck but Fredryck was able to get some to glance off of him.
Then Fredryck landed a punch that caused Jeremiah to stagger back. Jeremiah stood there for a moment and Fredryck waited for him to come in for another series of fists. But Jeremiah collapsed onto the dirt floor. A silence fell over the bar as the big man fell.
“A round of drinks on us!” Bartley called out, breaking the stunned silence. Fredryck helped to revive Jeremiah and they were allowed to stay and conduct their business. The miners had tales to tell of the Rutledge family
“Before the accident, Ginny was a headstrong girl,” one confided, “Obadiah and Ginny did not get along.” “Ginny didn’t get the way she is by falling from a tree; Obadiah beat the tar out of her.” “When Ginny started making money, Obadiah quit his job at the mine, but he still makes his two oldest sons work there.” “Obadiah has only spent the money Ginny has made on himself.”
Of course there were those that had other opinions like, “Ginny is possessed by the Devil, who tricks people into believing he is their dead relative,” or “The whole thing is a hoax, including Ginny’s illness.” Still, they got what information they could and left the bar with their limbs intact.
As they headed back to the inn, they noticed Garrett McBride walking about. Archibald, Bartley and Fredryck decided to stealthily follow him while Evgenia and Dracona went to the inn to decipher the coded note. They discovered that McBride went to a general store and purchased new clothes, including a nice dress, for a young adult. After that, he visited the local doctor and remained in his office for about twenty minutes. Finally, he visited a boat moored on the Kanawha River, where he dined on the deck with the captain.
Archibald had slipped away at the doctor’s office and inquired on the purpose of McBride’s visit. Dr. Aaron Kincaid initially hid behind the right of privacy but Archibald diplomatically got him to open up. The doctor explained that McBride wanted to know about Ginny Rutledge’s medical history.
Like most families in Glen Ferris, the Rutledges did not visit Dr. Kincaid’s office very often, but even so he did not recall Ginny having any serious medical problems before her accident. The doctor did examine her shortly after she became unresponsive, and while he was unable to do anything for her, he could tell by the marks all over her body that the damage was not caused by a fall from a tree. Archibald thanked him for his time and left to rejoin Bartley.
After McBride left the ship, they talked to the boat captain, whose name was Joseph Perkins. He, too, required Archibald’s delicate diplomatic handling to provide his information. But, he explained that he was hired to take McBride and another unknown passenger to Charleston at first light the next morning. Fredryck tried to book passage, too, but Perkins refused because McBride insisted, and paid, to be the only passengers.
Meanwhile, Evgenia and Dracona took to deciphering their copy of the coded message found on the wall at the Rutledge home. It was good that Evgenia could read German and she successfully deciphered the script after about two hours. She sat back and read the message with Dracona.
“This is Charles Guiteau. I am currently able to communicate through the body of Virginia Rutledge of Glen Ferris West Virginia. Although the Fellowship of the White Star destroyed my body following the mission for Tirpitz my skull was sent to Clinton Hall in New York City. It was stolen and taken to a dark basement in that same city by an undead creature. Either procure my skull or the girl so I can confer with you. I have much information concerning the organization’s future plans.”
“Ginny Rutledge was channeling Charles Julius Guiteau,” Evgenia told. “He assassinated the United States President, James A. Garfield, in Washington, D.C., at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, 1881. Guiteau shot him twice, once in his right arm and the other in his back, with a .442 Webley British Bulldog revolver. As Guiteau surrendered to authorities, he said, ‘I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. Arthur is president now!’”
“Garfield died 11 weeks later, on September 19, 1881, of complications caused by infections. Once Garfield died, the government officially charged Guiteau with murder. He was formally indicted on October 14, 1881, for murder, which was previously attempted murder after his arrest. Guiteau pleaded not guilty to the charge but after a high profile trial he was found guilty on January 25, 1882. Guiteau died on June 30, 1882, via a gallows hanging.”
“With tiny pieces of the hanging rope soon being sold as souvenirs to a fascinated public, rumors immediately began to swirl that jail guards planned to dig up Guiteau’s corpse to meet demands of the burgeoning new market. Fearing scandal, the decision was made to disinter the corpse. The body was sent to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland, which preserved Guiteau’s brain as well as his enlarged spleen discovered at autopsy and bleached the skeleton. These were placed in storage by the museum.” “But, according to his message, his skull was stolen,” Dracona reasoned.
“True,” Evgenia continued. “I think the Tirpitz he refers to is Alfred Tirpitz, a Prussian who speaks fluent English and was sufficiently at home in Great Britain that he sent his two daughters to Cheltenham Ladies’ College, an independent boarding and day school in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Tirpitz was in his thirties when Guiteau killed US President Garfield.”
“Then in 1887,” she went on, “Tirpitz was on the torpedo boats that escorted Prince Wilhelm to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations of his grandmother, Queen Victoria. This was the first time Tirpitz met Wilhelm. In 1888 Tirpitz was commanding the cruisers SMS Preussen and then SMS Württemberg. In 1890 Tirpitz became chief of staff of the Baltic Squadron. Tirpitz was rumored to be in Berlin, working on a new strategy for creating a high seas fleet. Rumors say that he’s conducting exercises to test out tactics and has gained the ear and considerable favor of the German Kaiser.”
About the time that the others returned, Clara was announcing that dinner would be ready soon, for those interested. Evgenia and Dracona exchanged information with the others and they decided to investigate the two men, McBride and Wessels, after dinner. And, dinner was probably already being served so they headed to the dining room.
The Glen Ferris Inn represented their only hope for dinner, which was served between 6:00 and 8:00 PM. When they showed up for a meal, Eric Wessels had just been seated. He invited them to join him and, after they were seated, he asked them to bow their head as he recited grace before the meal was started.
The dinner conversation turned to Ginny and Wessels admitted to them that he asked Mr. Rutledge for permission to take his daughter to Pittsburgh for study and medical treatment. He related the conversation exactly as it played out when they overheard it. Wessels concluded, “I fear that Mr. McBride has charmed Mr. Rutledge and will soon wrest that poor girl from her father. Can anything be done to save Ginny from a future as an exploited spectacle?”
Wessels listened with interest to any suggestions on how to keep McBride from obtaining Ginny, and he also pointed out that the University of Pittsburgh had excellent medical facilities. Even with Wessels’ expressed concern, they felt that he was not being entirely honest with them.
The dinner remained cordial throughout and Wessels finally excused himself, “I believe I’ll retire to the front porch and watch the sunset.” “That sounds like an excellent idea,” Fredryck announced as he got up, too. “Perhaps I’ll keep you company, maybe share some religious conversation,” Fredryck suggested. “Well, I’ll meet you there shortly, then,” Wessels informed.
“We’re turning in,” Evgenia informed as she got up with Dracona. Wessels returned to his room as Evgenia and Dracona went to theirs. He retrieved his Bible and pipe, after which he went back downstairs and sat on a rocking chair on the front porch of the inn. He silently read the Bible until sunset, at which point he smoked his pipe and stared into the night sky.
About 8:20, shortly after they retired, McBride left the inn. Bartley and Archibald again secretly followed McBride as he returned to the Rutledge home. After 30 minutes of haggling, he and Obadiah left with Ginny in her father’s arms.
The rooms of McBride and Wessels were both on the second floor of the inn, down the hall from one another. Evgenia and Dracona had decided to search their rooms. So, shortly after they “retired,” they heard McBride leave his room. Fredryck knew to keep Wessels busy on the front porch and would signal if McBride returned. In addition, Dracona had the invisible Athro stationed out in the T-shaped hall to keep watch, too.
The door locks of the inn were quite good and it took Evgenia a few tries before she could open McBride’s door. Apart from blank contracts and nice clothes, they initially found nothing of interest. But, a large sum of money was stashed in a satchel under the one dresser. Not being thieves, they decided to hide the funds in a different place in the room. Searching around, they had found a new place to stash it when Evgenia noticed a figure at the door.
Startled, they stopped in their tracks. “Why didn’t Athro warn us,” Dracona wondered. But the chill in the room and the translucent nature of their observer clued them in. “The Colonel,” Evgenia whispered as she noticed that the apparition was only visible from the waist up. The Colonel pointed at them, as if what they were doing was deceitful and seemed to mouth the words, “damn Yankees” before he dissipated.
Breathing again, the two women finished hiding the satchel and quietly left the room, relocking it. They hastened down the hall to Wessels room. It, too, was difficult to unlock and took Evgenia a few tries before it opened with a quiet click.
Wessels’ copy of the coded page he bought at the Rutledge home was on a small desk, along with a German translation on a separate piece of paper. “He’s already solved it,” Dracona whispered. They searched for other items in Wessels’ room and came upon a note in his baggage. It was also in German and Evgenia quietly translated it for Dracona.
“Brother,” the note began, “Glen Ferris, West Virginia, United States. Ginny Rutledge: Medium – automatic Writing. Confirm and Acquire.” The note ended with a drawing that Dracona didn’t need interpreted. “The Death’s Head cabal,” she whispered as she recognized the skull symbol of the German cabal. That was enough information for them so they quickly put everything back, left and locked Wessels’ room.
About 9:15 pm, Obadiah and McBride showed up with Ginny. They went to McBride’s room at the Glen Ferris Inn, where Obadiah received a substantial amount of cash from McBride and left his daughter in the talent scout’s care. Evgenia and Dracona were surprised when they didn’t hear any commotion from McBride over his misplaced funds. What had happened, they weren’t sure but their hiding place must not have been unusual enough.
After Obadiah left the inn, Wessels stayed outside for a few more minutes before removing the dottle from his pipe. “It appears as if Ginny will become the property of a circus,” he said with an air of defeat to Fredryck as he got up and returned to his room. Knowing that the Death’s Head cabal was not so easily defeated, Fredryck decided to wander the halls of the inn, in case Wessels decided to act that evening. Around 11:30 PM, Wessels emerged from his room, carrying his suitcase.
He was surprised to see Fredryck up at that hour and seemed annoyed that Fredryck stopped him. “Where you going,” Fredryck inquired. “It’s obvious that McBride will have the poor girl circused around the world so I’m just going to leave. I can’t stop it, I can’t sleep and my room is paid so I’m leaving,” Wessels answered.
“But it’s dangerous traveling at night,” Fredryck replied. “You should stay until morning.” “I’m leaving,” Wessels answered sternly. “And what has you up at this hour?” “Sleeplessness,” Fredryck answered. “I find that walking helps to relax me so I walk the halls when I can’t sleep.” Fredryck tried to stall more but Wessels left, anyway.
As soon as Wessels started down the back stairs, Fredryck got Bartley to follow him. A few blocks away, Wessels donned the disguise of a local miner. Procuring a horse and wagon he’d apparently acquired earlier, Wessels returned to the inn and parked it in the back.
Aware of Fredryck patrolling the halls upstairs, Wessels snuck back up to the second floor. Skillfully avoiding Fredryck, Wessels went to McBride’s room, easily picked the lock, went in and quietly closed the door behind him. He snuck up to the snoring McBride and killed him with a vicious blow to the windpipe using a set of brass knuckles.
Fredryck noticed that a toothpick that he’d wedged in the bottom half of McBride’s door was on the floor. Somebody had opened the door without his knowing. He rushed to the door and it was locked but McBride was no longer snoring. He threw his weight at the door.
McBride was still in his bed but he was apparently dead, his throat crushed. A grizzled miner was wrapping the helpless Ginny in a blanket when the door burst open. “You’re not taking the girl,” Fredryck informed as he drew his sword.
Fredryck struck twice at the miner but the miner was wily and dodged both blows. The miner attacked Fredryck, striking him with a brass knuckled fist but missing with his second swing. The sound of the door bursting open got the attention of the others.
Evgenia rushed out of her room, drawing her gun and arrived at the door prepared to shoot. If Fredryck attacked him, that would be good enough for her and she’d fire. Archibald came out of his room, next, and began inspiring words.
Bartley heard the commotion upstairs and moved to beneath the balcony outside McBride’s room, in case Wessels tried to escape that way. Dracona moved up and blasted the miner, setting him afire. Then, Fredryck struck at the burning miner, landing a hefty blow that killed him.
Evgenia holstered her gun and helped to put out the burning miner before he set the inn on fire. The flames revealed that the grizzled miner was actually a disguised Wessels. Of course, Bartley confirmed such when he joined them because he’d watched Wessels put on the disguise. Evgenia noticed the satchel of McBride’s remaining money and the contract that McBride had made with Obadiah Rutledge. Obadiah got quite a large sum for Ginny, no doubt partly due to their bidding for Ginny.
The commotion brought Clara, the innkeeper. She was appalled to see two of her guests dead and she sent somebody to fetch the authorities. There was no sheriff in Glen Falls but Nathan Johnston acted as a deputy for the mining company.
When Johnston arrived, they explained that Wessels had killed McBride and was trying steal away with Ginny. Johnston was not happy about being involved in a murder case but had Clara open Wessels’ room. The room had been hastily cleared out but Bartley informed the deputy of the wagon that Wessles had out back.
As they went to the wagon, they tried to express their concerns about Obadiah beating his daughter. But Johnston just shrugged his shoulders and said, “A man is master of his domain. That’s just the way it is. Now if he had killed her, that’d be different.” With that line of thinking not working, they went about it differently.
In the wagon, Johnston found the Wessels’ luggage, including the note telling Wessels to acquire Ginny and his notes on Ginny. There was also the disguise kit and identification that listed the man as Georg Truxa as well as Eric Wessels. With the translated writing from Ginny amongst his belongings, they convinced Johnston that Wessels was part of a group of crazy people that would not stop trying to get Ginny.
Obadiah had already been paid for Ginny and they convinced Johnston that it would be best if Ginny did not return to the Rutledge household. There were more people like Wessels out there and, although they didn’t claim to be representatives of the circus, they did promise to make sure that the circus was informed of McBride’s demise. But the circus would not be able to protect Ginny from people like Wessels.
So, Archibald convinced the deputy that they could make sure Ginny was safe, cared for, and kept away from the crazies like Wessels. In addition, Fredryck intended that the circus would get all of the money back that McBride had used to purchase Ginny. He was going to add enough to cover the price McBride had paid to Obadiah for Ginny from his own wealth. The circus would not be out a cent and Ginny would be properly taken care of by the Fellowship or at the asylum in England.
After clearing themselves of any wrongdoing and convincing others of what best to do with Ginny, they were permitted to take Ginny, and the contract that Obadiah had signed with McBride, when they left Glen Ferris. They traveled by wagon and horseback past Deepwater and arrived in Charleston on Wednesday, August 12.
They set their meeting with Raven Thorne and guardedly brought Ginny with them to the debriefing. When they turned her over, Raven was quite pleased with their report. They also turned over the coded message and their translation. As they suspected, the Fellowship was more than happy to send her some place for proper care, treatment and observation.
At Thorne’s request, they stayed in Charleston until the Fellowship could send appropriate personnel to take over the care and protection of Ginny. Bartley decided to telegraph Julia that he was in the States and she wired back that she’d meet him in Charleston. He was glad to get in a visit with her before he left the States again.
They got to New York in time to catch the the Germanic, the Britannic’s sister ship, home to England on August 19. On the Germanic they encountered no evil fey but Archibald still took the ship board time to pen another theatrical production. Having wired ahead, Adoline, Fen and Brina were waiting for them at the docks when they arrived in Liverpool on August 27.
In addition, the raven-haired Jewish girl, Deborah Silberstein from St. Louis, had joined the ladies. Deborah had been helping out at the theater since parting ways with the Amazing Anthony four years ago in June of 1888. Deborahʼs main impediment to acting success was her natural shyness. She’d dropped the “Sensuous Sophia” persona but some of the boldness that role had given her was gradually reappearing.
Archibald presumed that Deborah accepted his offer to join him at the theater in the hopes of winning more exposure. After some time, he got the impression that Debbie was hanging around for more than just theatrical production roles. But, as with the Sensuous Sophia, Debbie was not one to initiate advances. She seemed to hope that Archibald would fawn over her before she consented to a date. So far she was disappointed in that. Still, she appeared at the docks to greet them on their return.
Things returned to normal for a while. As the holidays came and went, Debbie was cloaking her advances toward Archibald less and less. The added business that Peter Auguste brought to Yermak Investigations meant that they started having more business discussions together at meals. And, Evgenia was getting the impression that her assistant’s interest was becoming more than simply business.
On Sunday, January 17, 1892, a young lad knocked on the door of Yermak Investigations. The butler, James, was in the kitchen so Peter answered the door and, upon answering, the lad started into his rehearsed speech. “Your Uncle Bloom invites you to his new home on Monday, January 18, tomorrow. Please visit him at 8:00AM for a tour of his nearly completed home. Please invite the entire family.”
The lad then held out a sealed envelope to him with one hand and waited for his tip in the other hand. “One moment, please,” Peter instructed the lad. “Evgenia, I believe it’s for you,” he called. Evgenia and James came into the foyer and Peter instructed the lad to repeat his monologue. Evgenia took the envelope from the lad and Peter tipped him generously.
“I didn’t know you had an Uncle Bloom,” Peter informed. “I’m just glad that Uncle Sam isn’t calling again,” Evgenia quipped to Peter’s still puzzled look. “I’ll contact the others,” James informed as if he knew things that Peter did not. “And fetch Dracona from her usual place of performance,” Evgenia instructed.