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"The Tower of London Murders."
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
“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.
“Do we know who he is, Sergeant?” asked Hadley.