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"The Westminster Murders."
On a cold Monday morning in January 1882, Chief Inspector Howard Bell hurried up the stairs to the Commissioner’s office at Scotland Yard as Big Ben struck nine o’clock. He knocked and anxiously entered the spacious office overlooking the Thames, concerned with the possible reaction of the Commissioner to the news that he brought.
“Well, what is it, Chief Inspector?” asked the great one in a brusque tone, unhappy with an Officer interrupting his early morning.
“I’m sorry to disturb you like this first thing, sir, but we’ve just received this message from Inspector Price at Harrow and I thought that you should see it immediately” said Bell as he handed the buff telegraph note to the Commissioner. He read the message and his side whiskers bristled before he exclaimed “good God Almighty!”
“Quite so, sir” said Bell.
“When did this happen?” asked the Commissioner.
“I don’t know yet, sir, as you see the body of Mr Marshall was only discovered this morning by one of the house maids” replied Bell.
“Well send someone quickly to Harrow to find out, Chief Inspector, we can’t rely on the effectiveness of the local Police in such matters!”
“I’ve already sent Inspector Hadley and his Sergeant, sir.”
“Good, when Hadley gets back I want to see him straight away.”
“Meanwhile I’ll let the Home Secretary know what’s happened and he can inform the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House that an MP has been murdered in his own home” said the Commissioner.
“What is this modern world coming too when an MP is murdered, Chief Inspector?”
“It’s terrible, sir, just too terrible for words” replied Bell.
“It strikes a blow at the very heart of our Empire!”
“It does indeed, sir.”
“The Prime Minister will be shocked.”
“I’ve no doubt about that, sir.”
“And so will Her Majesty” said the Commissioner.
“Understandably so, sir.”
“Make sure that I have something to tell the Press because once the news of this killing gets out they will be round here like a pack of wolves baying for blood!”
“As soon as Hadley returns from the crime scene I’ll get him to prepare an interim report for you, sir” said Bell.
“I want to see him first before he does anything else, Chief Inspector.”
“Very good, sir.”
Inspector James Hadley and Sergeant Cooper arrived at the MPs’ house in a Hansom cab just after nine thirty and they were admitted to the premises by a shocked, pale faced butler. They were met by Inspector Price in the hallway where Hadley made the introductions.