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Inspector Hadley

"The Royal Russian Murders."

   

 

    

It was cold and the snow that had fallen overnight lay crisp on the

pavement outside Inspector Hadley’s house in Camden. The

winter always disagreed with him and he felt that the cold slowed

his ability to think clearly. January was his least favourite month

of the year and this one was no exception. He had enjoyed a happy

Christmas with his wife, Alice and their two children, Arthur and

Anne but after his adventurous investigations in the previous year

he wondered what 1881 had in store for him. He waited for an age

by the kerb before a Hansom cab came trotting along and stopped

when he hailed it. The ride to New Scotland Yard was slow as the

London horse traffic struggled to keep moving in the snow

covered streets. At last he arrived and was pleased that George, his

clerk, had prepared a pot of tea for him and Sergeant Cooper.

“I thought I was going to be late this morning, sir” said

Sergeant Cooper brightly from his desk.

“I’m pleased to note that you arrived on time, Sergeant.”

“Yes sir.”

“Whilst I was nearly late, but not quite” said Hadley with a

grin. He was pleased to have Cooper with him and the young

Sergeant was delighted to be working with the Inspector. Cooper

had proved himself to be a very courageous Officer who had been

wounded in each of the two cases that Hadley had investigated

with him. They had hardly begun to drink their tea when Mr

Jenkins, Chief Inspector Bell’s clerk, came into the office.

“Good morning, sir” said Jenkins.

“Morning, Mr Jenkins.”

“The Chief Inspector would like to see you straight away, sir”

said the clerk.

“Very good” replied Hadley as he took a quick sip of tea before

standing up and following Jenkins out of the office.

The Chief Inspector Bell looked grim and ashen faced as Hadley

entered his office. “Better sit down, Hadley” he said.

“Thank you, sir” replied Hadley as he lowered his tall frame

down onto a creaking chair before fixing the Chief with his sharp,

blue eyes. He instinctively knew that something very serious had

happened.

“A report has just come in of a murder at the Tower of

London…” began Bell, he then paused and Hadley waited for him

to continue.

“It could have security implications because of the Crown

Jewels and I want you to mount a discreet investigation into the

matter…”

“Yes sir.”

“The Commissioner has been informed and he has given strict

instructions that the Press must not get wind of this, on any

account.”

“I think that’s a bit of a tall order, sir, but I’ll do my best.”

“Well, those are his instructions, now get over to the Tower

and begin straight away.”

“Yes sir.”

“Let me have a report on your findings by the end of the day so

I can brief the Commissioner on your progress before he goes

home tonight.”

“Right, sir.”

“There’s a Sergeant Collins, with two constables at the crime

scene, they will give you any assistance” said Bell.

“Thank you, sir.”

“I hope this bad start to the year will not continue” sighed Bell.

“I’m sure it won’t, sir” smiled Hadley.

“I admire your optimism, Inspector” said Bell as he returned

his gaze to the paperwork before him.

Within twenty minutes Hadley and Cooper were in a Hansom cab

and on their way to the Tower of London, the fortress that had

guarded the city since the time of William the Conqueror. The

Hansom struggled up Ludgate Hill amongst all the other traffic,

slipping in the snow, then passing Saint Paul’s before making

progress along Cannon Street and then eventually on to Tower

Hill. Hadley had remained silent throughout the journey, deep in

thought and Cooper knew that it was best to remain quiet at such

times. As the Hansom made its way cautiously down Tower Hill

towards the main gate of the imposing Tower, Hadley said “I fear

that this investigation will be very difficult, Sergeant.”

“Why is that, sir?”

“Because of the nature of the place, it’s dark and concealing,

that must have an effect on all those who live within its walls”

replied Hadley as the Hansom stopped. Cooper paid the driver

whilst Hadley walked slowly towards the main gate, conscious of

the history of the place, steeped in intrigue, murder and execution.

As Cooper joined him he said “in Shakespeare’s Richard the

Third, the murderous Richard says to the young Prince ‘your

highness shall repose you at the Tower…’ and the Prince replies ‘I

do not like the Tower, of any place…’ and who could blame

him?”

“Quite so, sir, it is a forbidding place” replied Cooper.

“And this is where the Princes met their untimely deaths at the

hands of their uncle, Richard of Gloucester.”

“What evil, sir.”

“Indeed, I find it all very sad” replied Hadley as Sergeant

Collins approached them.

They followed the Sergeant, in sombre mood, through the Middle

Tower and along to the Byward Tower, then passed Traitors Gate

before turning left, passing through the arch of the Bloody Tower

and up the slope to the White Tower.

“It’s the devils work, sir” said Collins as they approached the

steps leading up to the imposing door of the Tower.

“We’re prepared, Sergeant” replied Hadley and Collins nodded

before murmuring “I hope you are, sir” as they entered the

building. There were two constables, pale faced and looking

anxious, standing at the end of the great hall by the doorway that

led down to the armoury. They both nodded and murmured “sir”

to Hadley before he and Cooper followed Collins down the well

worn steps to the large room below. They were horrified by what

they saw in the flickering gas light.

“Good God Almighty” whispered Hadley while Cooper stood

silent and transfixed as they observed the scene from hell. Before

them was the decapitated body of an Army Officer, slumped

against an executioners block. The head was some feet away on

the blood soaked stone floor, with its mouth open and eyes staring.

The executioner’s axe was still embedded in the block after the

fatal blow had been struck, it was covered in blood.

 

 

 

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