(A tale of F_______, P_____, and C______).
Dr. Crippen killed Belle Elmore
Ran away with Miss le Neve
Right across the ocean blue
Followed by Inspector Dew
Ship's ahoy, naughty boy!
At the rail of the Montrose, Hawley Harvey Crippen – homeopathic MD, and fugitive for the murder of his wife Cora Elmore, a murder he did not commit – stared disconsolately into the grey-blue swell of the Atlantic. The irony was that although innocent of that crime, he had killed someone. He deserved to hang.
He still did not know the name of the strange man who had confronted him with demands for money, supposedly to support the wayward Cora, for though the police would probably find the corpse under brick floor, he had left no identifying items with the man’s body for the best of reasons – there had never been any to leave. No wallet, no papers, nothing. It had all happened as if in a dream.
The threats had been not only to himself but to Ethel, the girl who loved and trusted him – who even now for his sake, was disguised as a man, and accompanying him into a life of fleeing from the police. Disgusted by the violence held barely in check in the man’s piggish features, Crippen had found himself, offering him a drink while he looked for money – and adding to the glass of whisky five drops of pure hyocine. Down the man had swilled it, glug glug glug. In a dream Crippen had watched him topple from the chair.
“They’ll be waiting for you when you dock,” a voice said. It came from a tall man with piercing green eyes, and a neat Mephistophelian beard, who had come up along side Crippen unobserved, and leaned next to him on the rail. “You should have travelled 3rd class and avoided the Captain’s observation. He cabled London, and Inspector Dew’s crossing the ocean on the SS Laurentic. It’s faster than this mechanical contrievance, and he’ll beat you there.”
“My God,” Crippen said, half to himself, “they’ll hang her.” He grapped at the tall man’s lapels, and found himself clutching only a handful of air as the figure moved effortlessly away from him. “For myself, I don’t care. But she’s is guilty only of trusting me.”
“Trust has always been a capital offense. I trusted a mighty captain once to lead a revolution and we failed, but there may be things yet that can be done. My present.. employer has a number of tasks he has bound me to fulfil. If you assist, there will be – adjustments – perhaps Miss Neve’s innocence could be guaranteed in the courts.”
“What should I call you?” Crippen asked.
“Oh, I think ‘M’ will suffice,” said the stranger.