Cain’s Jawbone
by Edward Powys Mathers

An Unofficial Solution


Cain’s Jawbone, a Torquemada Mystery Novel is a mystery puzzle written by Edward Powys Mathers (1892 – 1939). It was initially published in 1934 (Victor Gollancz, Ltd) and was reprinted in 2019 (Unbound).

This puzzle consists of 100 shuffled pages. This puzzle is solved by correctly ordering them using clues from the text. Only one solution exists, and it has not been made public—yet.

I want to share a potential solution. It is not a verified solution because I did not participate in the recent competitions. Therefore, I do not know if this rearrangement is the expected one. Still, if the order is incorrect, it should be sufficiently close to the actual solution.

I reordered and contextualized the book thanks to the following resources:

Overall, the online community did a terrific job of making sense of this puzzle (my contributions are limited*).

On the right margin, the numbers correspond to the original page numbering. On the left, page order clues (dates, places, etc.) and deaths. It should be noted that days are absolute clues (they contribute to ordering the entire book) while hours are relative clues (they help sort pages belonging to a narrator).


* Publication of an arrangement of pages, making them intelligible; identification of hidden quotes; discovery of an additional page ordering mechanism (May Doncaster); potential identification of the underlying explanation for the cryptic “taking off in Ireland” mentioned in an unfindable issue of the “Grundy Sapphic” (11); explanation of “Casy Ferris” (1); explanation of the meaning of “the Knight” in Paul Trinder’s narration (9); notes about Bill’s narration (a technique to name fictional characters similar to the one used by modern cryptographists); demonstration that epea pteroenta and ephphatha may have been chosen for their proximity in Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language rather than their definition (75) ; Henry the dog loves to play with eyeballs (36, 71, 91).


To add observations (or correct existing ones), send an email to

Your contribution will be attributed (please indicate your preference in your email: your name, a pseudonym, or anonymous). Note that I cannot reply by email: I directly include (some of) your suggestions.

Likewise, if you want to remove your previous comments, email the same address.

(Contributions related to unexplained expressions are particularly welcomed!).

I would like to thank Marie Kyle and Stefanie Joy for their thorough re-reading of this webpage and their suggestions. I would also like to thank Bletologist for their suggestions.


This webpage will be regularly updated. Changes are tracked here.

Date Note
31/08/2023 Added comments from FrenchRetiree and Lucas
01/07/2022 Added comments from Bletologist
01/01/2022 First publication

The text has been transcribed from Mathers, E. P. (1934). The Torquemada Puzzle Book: A Miscellany of Original Crosswords, Acrostics, Anagrams, Verbal Pastimes and Problems, Etc., Etc. & Cain’s Jawbone, a Torquemada Mystery Novel. Victor Gollancz, Ltd.

Portraits generated by DALL·E 2.

April 24.
Oscar Mills

Oscar Mills eats alone at a restaurant. He accidentally eavesdrops on a conversation between Sir Paul Trinder and a woman named May. Oscar notices that Paul hands a shady metallic device to May.



(Through his narration, Henry is a waiter).

Page Order Clues
Oysters (starter course) My earlier days had been so different. There hadn’t been the comfort, the sense of indulgence, or of adventure, that there was now. I bit into the last of the oysters and someone carried away the shells. It had been, as I say, so different.
Cascading down the bombazine of my great aunt’s knee, what futility! When all her desire had been to give me a lap.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly just a childhood memory of trying to climb up his great aunt’s skirt to sit in her lap and falling (ironic given his death is also from a fall).
What frustration of her, and incidentally of myself, when to be nursed by her and to submit to her stories had meant access to that secret caddis-hoard of Devona or of minty humbugs. I wondered what Henry would think of next. I had plenty of time, my watch said.
My eyes had groped foolishly at the barren moon of the near-by clock, and then fallen away. My watch must be my mentor.
The narrator cannot read the clock but can read his watch: he is nearsighted.
I felt perhaps sillily ready for some sort of cardiac revelation, or revaluation at least.
    Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved!         God’s child with his dew     On they gracious gold hair, and those lilies still         living and blue
Robert Browning, Syria: Gilboa Saul
    Just broken to twine round they harp-strings, as if         no wild beat     Were now raging to         torture the desert! Then I, as was meet . . .  
Robert Browning, Syria: Gilboa Saul
I assure you I had not seen her enter but suddenly I was electrically aware that she was sitting near me. What could come next? I had let Henry guide me. She was very tall; sometimes, I think, tallness is an excellent thing in women.
Julienne? Yes, she looked as if her name would be of the sort.
(Double meaning)

(a) reference to the Julienne soup
(b) reference to May: Julienne/July
And I surmised dark eyes under golden lashes. I hardly liked to disturb the surface for the first time. Her voice purred in my quick ears; I thought of a jaguar on a lean bough, and envied Henry.
The surface was clear brown, and I discerned white figures within; stars, and a little heart, mirabile dictu, were moving inside.
Oscar is eating a soup.

(Soup generated by DALL·E 2)
She lit a cigarette and poured down cocktail after cocktail; sometimes she made little dabbings with a butterfly of white lace to her mouth.

Soup: last spoonful
I plunged for the last time.
Last spoonful of soup.
The few remaining figures and letters swam as they came up to me. Then I took them in. There were no more. I glanced about me. I felt I was getting my money’s worth. London is like that; it accepts the wanderer home with a sort of warm indifference. The woman’s beauty was, I surmised, profound; her creamy dress, contrasting with her vivid colouring, showed to me,
though more as white against a gay brick sepulchre than snow against roses
(Speculation from Guillaume) The narrator describes what he sees, through his myopia. This is a “low resolution” description of the contrast of colors.

(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly meaning red as in “the great red stone upon my sepulchre” (Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Aurora Leigh.
. Yes it was a dreadful beauty,
as far as I could see
Reference to Oscar’s myopia.
, and I recalled the stark phrases:
Which swept an hundred thousand souls away; yet I alive
Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year
. But he was not;
the writer had strangely died to-day
April 24, 1731: Daniel Defoe’s death.
. And again they continued this wretched course three or four days: but
they were every one of them carried into the great pit
Daniel Defoe, History of the Plague in England
before it was quite filled up
Daniel Defoe, History of the Plague in England
. Where was Henry? Ah, he was standing by her, close enough to touch the
small buoyant face that topped her pillared neck most like a bell-flower on its bed
From Robert Browning, A Toccata of Galuppi’s: “On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed”.
. Would he appreciate?
Omelette I was feeling better already, and was glad that a memory, true though dim, had led me to the place.
Video meliora proboque
“I see a better way and approve it“ (Ovid, Metamorphoses).

(Information from Bletologist) The latin quote continues: deterior sequor but “I follow the worse“.
; but I could not, for all my covert glances, see the modelling of the fossettes of the elbows of the woman sitting so near me. Were they, I wondered, like Sonia Gordon’s, triangular dimples with shadow in them? Poor Sonia Gordon. I pondered on that tragic fortnight at Southend: the pier with its electrical railway, and my cousin’s rash act, and Sonia’s lapse. Her temperament was against her.
Still you couldn’t have an omelette without breaking eggs. And mine was excellent.
An omelette.
“You would get off with a whole skin, would you?” I cried softly, as I stabbed once. And even as I did so, I thought of skinny old Marat in his slipper bath, the nightcap about his forehead, the dim light of the candle, the shadow at the door, the stealthy tread of
Charlotte Brontë
Marat was in fact killed in his bath by Charlotte Corday, not Brontë.
with the undulled blade. There was something wrong.
Omelette: continued While my mind had been thus far away, a grotesque looking old gentleman had fluttered like a bat to the seat between us, and now deposited, with the bitter sang-froid of the unworldly, a dilapidated
(Speculation from Bletologist) As worn by Sherlock Holmes (the first of many misleading references).
of pinkish tweed upon the glacial parquet.
I thought I knew the type: learned in a macabre way, even distinguished
Paul uses the same words, page 65.
; one who was rich enough to remain unspotted by convention, and who
yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force, gold of course
Robert Browning, Love among the Ruins
, for the undoing of a materialistic world.
Gathering a fungus in the other golden ruin before me
Omelette with mushroom.
, I considered within myself what such an obvious hermit could be doing among the brilliant lights of this notoriously soigné place. A dog was patently sorrowing in the distance. The two had their heads close together. The poor brute’s howling bothered me, and I was glad when it ceased.
You will, Oscar, you will.
James McNeill Whistler to Oscar Wilde during a party (George W. Smalley, London Letters and Some Other, Volume 2, page 86).
Whistler’s jibe I had always taken personally.
First name: Oscar
Was all my endeavour to be in the future? Would I never do anything in the present? It all seemed so fatuous.
Omelette: last bit What should such a man need with such a companion, I asked myself. And then I thought of Jim’s uncle, Darius Brockley, and of the flimsy excuse the Vicar’s niece had given when she returned. Yes, I began to understand. And
I was not sorry to dissociate the last of the gold from the silver
Last bit of omelette (gold) on his fork (silver).
, and wait upon events. I stretched out my hand and touched a dim shape on the chair beside me; a sleek cat that horribly exulted at the touch of my fingers. We were told that
the human heart was deceitful and desperately wicked
Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”.
; what then should be said of the human mind? Why, I meant, should I have remembered
the tale of the Major-General in Trafalgar Square on Guy Fawkes night, and how the dead man had told it me, just an hour before . . . they came to take him away? And then how about myself?
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Possible reference to Napier. There’s a quote about the human mind attributed to him. Also, there’s an apocryphal story about him sending the telegram “Peccavi” after conquering Sindh (“I have sinned” → “I have Sindh”). Oscar likes Latin, and Torquemada likes puns. And it’s certainly something a man might say an hour before death.
Admittedly I was a warrior, but even I, surely, could be a warrior without being a bounder.
First name: Oscar

Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language: “Oscar (Celt.), bounding warrior.—L. Oscarus.”
Pork: just served So far the mind had been ambling, if I may dare the expression; moving forward ungainly, as if by one hemisphere at a time. But now I keenly wondered how we should agree, myself and
this well-fed swine that had just been introduced to me. He was obviously in drink, and none the worse for that: the better indeed for my purpose.
Pork with wine.
The old fellow’s face seemed vaguely familiar, though
I am not good at faces
Oscar is nearsighted.
. Suddenly I remembered
that white beard which jutted from his chin like an undercurving wave
A reference to Sir Trinder's distinctive beard.
. It should have been recognisable a mile off, from weekly reminders in the more ecstatic newspapers, as that of
Sir Paul Trinder
(Speculation from Bletologist) The character’s name appears to be taken from Herr Paulus by Walter Besant. “There was once a boy named Ziphion Trinder, and he called himself Paul for improvement sake.” He is described as a “fraudulent spiritualist”.
, whose furor loquendi had cause him for twenty years to adhere loudly to every ebbing cause in town. He was also, if I mistook not, some sort of chartered lecturer at obscure seats, one might almost call them stools, of learning. Such a man, it might be argued, was
no one’s enemy but his own
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possible reference to Oliver Twist: “Some people are nobody's enemies but their own, yer know”.
; but, oh, what a bitter enmity that could be.
Pork: rests My ears were becoming attuned, and for the first time I heard clearly what the woman was saying:
“Are you going to leave everything to me?” she asked, and I could have sworn her companion started. Then seeing, or thinking he saw, his mistake, he answered: “You must do just as you think fit,
(Speculation from Bletologist) As they are planning to benefit from a will does Paul start because he thinks May is asking if it’s worth her killing him? He realises she means “Am I supposed to do it all?” and answers appropriately (though of course the “mistake” is what actually happens).
May Doncaster
.” After all it was none of my business.
Some fragments of dejected flesh still lay among the rests of the spilled wine.
End of main course.
At my sign, Henry stooped and made all clean again. And there was no immediate call for me to listen further, for there came a pause during which both seemed busy with their thoughts. And I too thought. The voice was like and yet not like that of Janetta Sheringham. How we had laughed that day in the hay field when John sat on the buttered rolls, and
we devised games out of straws
Robert Browning, A Lover’s Quarrel (quote identified by Bletologist).
, and we thought the cricket
a war-horse, barded and chaufroned too
Robert Browning, James Lee’s Wife
real fairy, with wings all right.
Robert Browning, James Lee’s Wife
Frozen dessert: just served
(green, red rose, and white)
It was neither
the sheerest hell nor uttermost heaven
From Rupert Brooke, It's Not Going To Happen Again: “I have risen to the uttermost Heaven of Joy, / I have sunk to the sheer Hell of Pain.”
thus to affront the dead; it was rather, surely,
joy’s crown of sorrow, or sorrow’s crown of joy
(Speculation) Possible reference to Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall: "That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things."
. Could it be thought morbid of me, I wondered, to sentimentalise a little as I sat and faced
the old school colours frozen there before me? Green and white and rose, grit, wisdom and reliability, the find old Head, as we called him, had quipped it.
A frozen dessert.
And now it was such an ephemeral combination. “I don’t call that very terrible,” she was saying, and I wished I could see whether she were smiling or not as she said it. Such remarks were irritant as well as stimulant. What didn’t she call terrible? What indeed, with her Renaissance pose, did she, would she, call terrible? But I might lose all if I speculated.
I attacked the viridescence in front of me
He starts eating the green part of the dessert.
, and fed my brain on cleaner things. I remembered the place of my initiation into so much that was glowing and splendid; I remembered the clanging fives courts, and the solemn old Hall, hung round with
Frozen dessert: continuation
(red rose and white)
photographs of young and laughing athletes, lads who had profited and gone on, and ringing with those words of the Head, as we called him,
that one by one the touch of life has turned to truth
Sir Henry John Newbolt, Clifton Chapel
. But again I was distracted. “Will anyone know about them?” that husky miracle of a voice was asking, and I thought, not for the first time, that it would have caresses for all, a golden impartiality.
To love her would be a liberal
Reference to Richard Steele, Tatler: “. . . to love her was a liberal education.”
, no, a communist education.
The red rose and the white only remained, and these were melting and blurring before my eyes
Frozen dessert. The green part (66) has been eaten by Oscar.
; my wretched eyes that could not tell me the truth, for instance, about that Goya reproduction.
A hanging man? A countess?
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly referring to the Goya painting The Countess of Chinchon. Possibly because she is wearing a bonnet tied under her neck? The other could be Hanged Man by Imitator of Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes).
“There is no danger of that,” the old man said, “I bought them secretly in Leningrad from a little humpbacked fellow, a double-faced Quasimodo of the Ogpu.” This was difficult enough to reconcile with his Manchester speech on sane mediocrity. “From the secret police?” The words rang like tense half-crowns dropped upon marble. “Goodness gracious!” “But it so seldom is,” came the wise old reply.
Frozen dessert: last bit
(red rose)
A flower-seller, fed ruddily, it seemed, on hope, broke in and would have made a round of all of us. But she hurried away perforce without gaining her point, leaving me with an inexpensive memory of countryside flowers. Our own and other countries: ironic daffodils, irises of the stream, young pert bluebells, the foreign hedge-rose and carnation. No
gaudy melon flower
Robert Browning, Home-Thoughts, from Abroad (quote identified by Bletologist)
, indeed.
Oh, to be in England
Robert Browning, Home Thoughts, from Abroad
; how unquotable he had become. For I was, was I not?
I must learn Spanish one of these days, only for that slow sweet name’s sake
Robert Browning, The Flower’s Name
I paused to pass my tongue over the dew distilled by the red rose, the sole survivor
Frozen dessert. Oscar has eaten the green (66) and the white (74) parts.
, and made a sign which brought Henry cat-like to me over the floor.
Here the old man dropped some metallic object and his companion retrieved it with daughterly swiftness
Sir Paul Trinder hands a shady object, originated from the secret police of the Soviet Union, to May. Some have interpreted it as a grenade.
. The hoarse newsboys with their shouting of the late night final, as of accomplished mal de mer, disturbed me a little. Would there be any news?
She enquired faintly what he meant by that stuff about
Edmund Clerihew Bentley, Browning: “She inquired faintly what he meant / By that stuff about good news from Ghent.”
good news from Ghent
Robert Browning, How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix: “. . . Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.”

(Speculation from Bletologist) The clerihew’s start is appropriate “On one occasion when Browning / Saved a débutante from drowning”. Also possibly a mishearing of Kent (where Paul lives) as Ghent because he’s thinking of Browning’s How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.
Cheese The others did not seem similarly impressed. Phrases of this and that came to half my ear, duet by
rill and corncrake
(Speculation) Sir Paul Trinder and May Doncaster
. Rill vaunted the pleasure of speeding, and corncrake gave warnings
like an over-driven oak about to fall
Aesop, The Oak and the Reed
. I remembered how I had listened for the same sound on that awful night in Paris, when I did not know what I know now. And again, in this very place for another reason, Henry would remember. To lose even two like these two, swallowed by the night, was apt to break a balance in one, to suggest that it was time to square accounts.
Latin for cheese, just served to the narrator.
, ah!
And nothing lean or hungry here at all.
Punning reference to how Cassius is described in Julius Caesar (by William Shakespeare): “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look”.
A friend in the nick of time. I would have no more. My hand dropped to my hip pocket. I had to reckon with Henry. Yet could I? This nomenclature business had often bothered me. Sometimes I felt sudden enough, as if my head would burst sometimes but triturative.
Was I a bomb, or only slow and godly and exceeding small?
Last name: Mills
This sentence refers to a “Mills bomb”, a British hand grenade. It also refers to the proverb “mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small”.

May 11.
May Doncaster

May Doncaster is on a train. She is reading a short story about Henry the Savage Conqueror. While she is reading, enter and exit respectively from her compartment: a man who is smoking a pipe, a couple of children, and Oscar Mills. May recognizes Oscar from the restaurant and guesses that he eavesdropped on her conversation with Sir Paul Trinder. She unpremeditatedly decides to push him off the train window.



(Through her narration, Henry is a fictional character in a magazine).

Page Order Clues
Peterborough Station
(next station: Grantham Station)
Of course
I was sorry to say good-bye to old Medehamstede
Peterborough (Medehamstede was the name of Peterborough in the Anglo-Saxon period).
; but it was pleasant to sit down and to really find myself alone at last. Those emotional times were trying to us all. I felt that my lips were paler than I liked; but
a touch of Pasquier’s claret
soon put me right. Dear old Pasquier, I had come across him in Paris, at that little place in the Rue de la Harpe, a street in which, I have been told, there was a touch of orderly room even in the disorderly houses. I opened a magazine and looked hastily through the last paragraphs of the short stories. I was all for love; but fading out on an embrace never appealed to me. The embrace in my short stories—and my life was all short stories, I had come to think—occurred in the first few words. And afterwards the plot. The complete novel length looked better. It was called Savage Conqueror, and I liked that.
Henry: 1st (“though this was my first introduction to him”) I always feel a bit dazed on these occasions, and was so then. But it was pleasant to collect oneself, and
count one’s burdens—above and beneath, and to one’s hand as it were
(Speculation from Bletologist) Luggage brought onto the train—above and below the seat plus a handbag?
. I did so. Yet I felt dazed. As I have said, I always did. I was developing a bit of a yen for Henry, though this was my first introduction to him. I am a simple soul, and I must confess that I was rather thrilled. It seemed that here was a man of no ordinary fascination, with a chin cleft like the toe-cap of a satyr’s boot, and a little group of show hairs behind each ear. Also he was doomed to destroy, for family reasons, and to keep on destroying. And I was still alone; I could hardly expect otherwise in the circumstances. I echoed the words of the poet:
    Bring Palamabron, horned priest, skipping upon         the mountains,     And silent Elynittria, the silver-bowed queen,
William Blake, A Prophecy
Grantham Station
(next station: Doncaster Station)
    Rintrah, where has thou hid thy bride?     Weeps she in desert shades?     Alas! my Rintrah, bring the lovely jealous         Ocalythron.
William Blake, A Prophecy
Then against a possible invasion of my privacy, I touched my white cheeks until they blushed. My luck was not in. He was a typically farm-labourer, with what thy’d call in Bloomsbury a
Newdigate fringe
(Wordplay identified by Bletologist) “Newgate frill, or fringe, a beard under the chin and jaw.” (Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language, 1908, “Newgate”)
. Just like that sort of a poet, I supposed they’d mean. He anchored himself heavily, consciously waving an empty pipe. Henry was now stooping over the other body, whistling between its teeth. What would I have done, I wondered? Really this sort of thing was native to me in a way. I wished there were water without going for it. I remembered, of course, that
there was a conduit dating from 1597 standing here in the market place
Grantham: The Conduit, Market Place, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 6LJ.

. But that was of little use to me. On the whole, I thought I would have as much nerve as my dear hero. But one never knew.
Henry: 1st wife (“The girl had left Henry by this time”; from context)

Henry: 2nd (“those first two killings of his”)

Man with a pipe enters the compartment; he scratches his skin and asks May if he can smoke
The girl had left Henry by this time, thank God. She was an obvious whey-face. She didn’t seem capable for a moment of understanding those first two killings of his. He was being a dear. He had sent the rector’s aunt away, as he explained to the girl, like a bee with a sore bonnet. A foreign touch. Killing time, yes. I was doing that. It was funny how idly the mind worked; or seeming idly. Perhaps there was something in heredity after all. I pondered to its direction.
An accent was a terrible thing, I thought. Killing time wouldn’t be so good.
(Speculation) Killing time, with a scottish accent, could refer to “The Killing Time”, that is “the days of the persecution of the Covenanters” (Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language, “Killing times”).
I realised that I was impressionable, that I liked a good murder. But Hodge, once settled, wasn’t in the least like a singer.
He had a wen, and scratched his left whisker.
The man scratches his skin.
I supposed it would be different to suddenly
develop a wen
(Speculation from Bletologist) Joke for a yen (attraction)
for someone. Different and messier.
He asked me about Ben Wade, hitherto merely mutely unemployed, and of course I said the right thing.
The man asks May if he can smoke; she politely agrees.
Henry: 2nd wife (“the second wife’s brother”)

Man with the pipe continues to scratch his skin and smokes
I sometimes wish, and I wished then, that I had the gift of telling, or at least of following, a story vividly. Hodge,
in the luxury of his first St. Bruno
St. Bruno was a brand of pipe tobacco. The man is smoking.
kept on exacerbating the corner of my eye by fingering his sebaceous arrangement.
The man continues to scratch his skin (continuation of page 26).
And this made it difficult to adequately appreciate Henry’s problem. Smells meant a lot to me; I was back in a twinkling at the old fonda in Vera Cruz, and almost saw the young fruit merchant laying down his guitar and wiping the blood off the strings with a kenspeckle handkerchief. But I must, I felt, at all costs get back to Henry. The position was this: the second wife’s brother had begun to suspect. He had found a half-burned marriage certificate in the incinerator; that was charred lines on Henry. What would he do? We couldn’t stop at this point, surely, I thought. But I was wrong.
Doncaster Station
(next station: Selby Station)

The man stops smoking (he scatters the ashes)

Children enter the compartment; they play loudly.
Naturally I looked up.
And I tell you I found it awe-inspiring enough to actually see my own name through the window, printed there in great letters for the gaze of all and sundry.
Last name: Doncaster
With a blush I concentrated again on Henry, and asked myself if his recent activities did or did not constitute the darbs. With a final flirt at the fringe, the other
tapped and scattered the saintly ashes
Reference to the pipe tobacco (see page 44).
. Agriculture was to take back her own, it seemed, and I rejoiced to have
my last night of the bent broad back
(Speculation from Bletologist) As the man gets off the train.
. I couldn’t think why I became suddenly aware of Yeats; and then it came to me: we
find heartedness among men that ride upon horses
“find hearteners among men / That ride upon horses.” (W. B. Yeats, Galway Races) (reference identified by Bletologist).
It was here, of course, they commemorated Colonel Anthony every year.
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Possible reference to Doncaster: Colonel Anthony could refer to Anthony St Leger, founder of the St. Leger Stakes horse race, located at Doncaster.
Good luck to him. Really I didn’t like the children. A little he and she bounced in, half settling on my side like sparrows, and devirginating a bag of gum prunes as they bounced. How could I concentrate? And Henry was waiting for me.
The children are quiet now. One’s eyebrows were one’s own, I always thought. Though I did remember a case—Aunt Mary’s, to be precise—when it was not so. She had met him after the explosion, of course; and when it became a question of dinner and the Highgate Empire, actually with performing quaggas, she put herself in the hands of the man who made up for, if anything could make up for, the Russian ballet. And they dropped, naturally, like two fuzzy caterpillars into the clear soup at supper. The old days. The Highgate Empire, where Wilkie Bard, as Lauder did not say,
sang o’ his love and fondly sae did I o’ mine
Robert Burns, The Banks o’ Doon
. At last the two little horrors ceased in their shrill claim and counter-claim for sweaty quasi-transparencies of colour, and goggled at me while I put black to mine. Bill always called them two dark flapper moons. Should I make an effort and go back to Henry? He was ready to love. That at least was obvious.
Selby Station
(next station: York Station)

The children exit the compartment

Oscar enters the compartment
Out cascaded the darling young. It was no tragedy; that was, no tragedy comparable with the fire
here in the Latham Chapel in 1906
Selby. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica (1911): “About midnight of the 19th–20th of October 1906, a fire broke out in the Latham chapel adjoining the north choir aisle, in which a new organ had recently been erected, and soon involved the whole building.”
. Yet, I supposed, to wantonly look back like that buttered no parsnips. Just like reverting to old tunes after they were damned and dead: how often had I not caught myself whistling
Alexander’s Ragtime Wedding Feast
(Speculation from Bletologist) Blending of Alexander’s Ragtime Band (a song by Irving Berlin) and John Dryden’s Alexander’s Feast.
in my frugal bath. I felt that Henry was about all I could hope to cope with, or with whom, if you like, I could hope to cope. I was the more fed up, therefore, with the incursion of an untidy fellow,
a myopic-looking creature
A reference to Oscar Mills’ myopia.
, who clumsily stepped on my foot and touched a chord of memory at the same time. Surely this has eavesdropped at my last crucial meeting with the old man. It mattered little enough, of course. But that sort of thing was like a mosquito about the ears, making Kreisler on his little fiddle. It distracted.
Henry: 3rd (“Henry, though a bit on the spectacular side—to fly the viscera of his third”)

Henry: 4th (“The former was stooping over the cooling remains of his fourth”)
Considering it was my name month
First name: May. The current month is indeed May (see page 77).
, I wasn’t having too much luck. Henry, though a bit on the spectacular side—to fly the viscera of his third, of the old family lawyer, at his small flagstaff, a little argued the exhibitionist—was sane enough. And this stranger, to judge by the over-vague conversation he began to force on me—different in this from the agriculturist, who had been utterly silent save for
the burning questio
“May I smoke?” or “Can I light my pipe?”
n, and the brats who had only uttered mutually—was distinctly nuts.
Nuts in May
Singing game played by children.
how Freudian
Reference to herself: May.
Be not a Freud
(Verbal pun) Be not afraid.
thy help is near
Elias (Elijah) (Op. 70, 1846), an oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn.
. But was it? Henry was in desperate case, and
this other was short-sighted
A reference to Oscar Mills’ myopia.
enough not to realise that I should care. The former was stooping over the cooling remains of his fourth—the rash intruding charlady—when there came a horribly official knock at the little blue door. (Was it
Inspector Barraclough
(Speculation from Bletologist) Character in The Pink Edge by Frank Froest and George Dilnot.
, or only some stolid-witted local?) But little the latter cared. He went on talking about Browning.
Henry: 5th (“Henry, the angel, was plying his intended fifth”) I hated my eye for being caught by what didn’t concern me: the powerful grip of the new young man. But it was parading a couple of letters for all to see.
Thomas Hardy had been
OM (Order of Merit).
, and
my doctor uncle in the war had been just the reverse
MO (Medical Officer) → OM.
. And I would have to cut out the stops, I realised futilely,
for something vaguely Buddhistic
Ōṃ (ॐ).
He went on about Browning. I always used Bisto myself
(Double entendre) Bisto was a brand of gravy. Therefore, in this context Browning refers to the poet and to the gravy browning.
, and anyway Henry, the angel, was plying his intended fifth with Emperor’s Peg—equal parts of vitriol and applejack in his case—at the top of the ruined lighthouse. I incontinently powdered my nose. He told me that, as far as I could gather, a certain good-looking
Evelyn Hope was dead
Robert Browning, Evelyn Hope: “Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead!”
. What Hopes? I meant, did one know the family? It was really the way he took it for granted that I would rather hear him talking about
Cerebos and Cerebos and Cerebos
Robert Browning, Caliban upon Setebos: “Setebos, Setebos, and Setebos! / ’Thinketh, He dwelleth i’ the cold o’ the moon.”

Reference to Oscar's tendency to quote Browning.

(Speculation from Bletologist) Also a joke since the Cerebos salt company invented Bisto gravy powder.
or something than attend to poor Henry that irritated me beyond endurance.

May Doncaster throws Oscar Mills out of the moving train
The victim, for that I must now reluctantly call him, blocked all the sweet air from the window.
He put out his hand
(Speculation from Bletologist) Along with the Browning quote, Oscar is leaning out of the window and pretending to be a gondolier, making it easier for May to push him out.
and asked if
death were so unlike sleep caught this way
Robert Browning, In a Gondola
Sed he.
Reference to Oscar Mills’ tendency to speak Latin (sed) and to quote Browning.
Death’s to fear from flame or steel, I sickeningly gathered, or poison doubtless; but from water—feel. Go find the bottom!
Robert Browning, In a Gondola
He was asking for it. Was he to be disappointed? Oh, yeah.
A babbled o’ green fields
William Shakespeare, The Life of King Henry the Fifth
(sorry, even in retrospect the habit is catching) which he could not have seen at all well. I pulled up his socks for him, and heaved outward with all my strength. The window was no more dark. The fool, with any luck, was dead. What had he said as he finally left me? It sounded like
Quails and Arty and Fakes. Fakes, Quails and Arty.
Qualis artifex (pereo). “What an artist I die! The last words of the artistic Roman emperor Nero at his assassination in AD 68 are quoted in SUETONIUS Nero xlix.1.” (James Morwood, A Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases)

Reference to Oscar Mills’ tendency to interject in Latin.
Band, Speckled
(Speculation) Reference to The Speckled Band, a 1931 movie. In this film, Violet Stonor pronounces her dying words: “the band, speckled.”
. No, I could make nothing of that. But, thank goodness, I was no detective.
MAY 11

Henry: 3rd wife (“his third wife”)

(May reflects on the murder she just committed)
Compact, they call it; but when I used it, I was feeling anything but so. Don’t think me squeamish; it was my first. The last little contact with the bony ankles, so warm and so soon, if Nature’s great force were to do its work, to be so cold, had touched me, I confess it. Though I was alone again, it took me a few minutes to visualise Henry’s predicament with the detached calm which it deserved. That old aunt of his third wife had turned up again. Strangely enough a jellyfish had plugged the solution of her motor boat’s continuity. And there she was back again, alert, suspicious, very much alive. I couldn’t help being sorry for Henry. And I couldn’t help being sorry for Perceval. Murders were funny things.
That day’s killing of Perceval
May 11, 1812: assassination of Spencer Perceval.
, and in so public a place, seemed to me unwarrantable. But I had never been strong on politics. For the other, my own, though it was understandable, there was perhaps no utter warrant.
York Station For this time being, Henry was drawing towards a close. I was not sorry. The police were after him in no uncertain manner, and it seemed impossible for him to ultimately escape them. While the flying squad had surrounded the house, the locals were thronging the underground passage, and Wellington Crisp, with his assistant and his bulldog, was pouring through the concealed panel in the bathroom. Instead of adding one more to his crimson list, he preferred to trust himself to a limping blimp: almost, it seemed, a certain suicide. But he might return. One never knew. At least my end was reached, and in some comfort. Murders were funny things.
If he who so tragically killed his King, ever reached here at all, which is historically more than doubtful
York: reference to King Richard III, last king of the House of York, at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
alas, poor Richard! Alas, poor Thomas!
(Speculation from Bletologist) From Hamlet: “Alas, poor Yorick!”.
) it was certainly not in such ease or such good time as I. I collected myself and mine, and went out to sniff the new air.

May 31.
Sir Paul Trinder

Sir Paul Trinder meets Bill Hardy, a forger, to counterfeit a will.



(Through his narration, Henry refers to Henry Vaughan and Henry King).

Paul appears to be the only narrator who does not share any clue about their own last name. There is little ambiguity about it, though, as Oscar (53) and Clement (59) directly evoke it.

(Marie Kyle) Possibly, the references to the light coming through the window are an additional clue about the order as the sun goes down (28, 89, 98).

Page Order Clues
IBE (The Importance of Being Earnest), lines 28, 32 I found myself by that one of the windows which overlooked the stone broach spire—a rarity in Kent—of Pluckley church, and the light would strike my book from over my right shoulder.
I drew a volume from my pocket; blind-tooled on the green in a double circle was a single star above what was perhaps a sea.
Reference to the cover of this edition of Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 28)
, and I wondered if such a reason for marriage would ever have occurred to me. I had never married, and scarcely felt like beginning now. It was the tenth edition, of 1917. No, Sir;
it is not a very interesting subject
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 32)
. I never think of it myself.
Not a woman had entered as yet.
(Speculation from Bletologist) At this point in the play (The Importance of Being Earnest) there are only male characters.
I was in for a ticklish business, and I knew it.
Forging ahead, I supposed they would call it, since the woman was not yet dead.
Bill is a forger.
You might not hear of her again.
IBE, line 38 The sound of the bell, as of a boding gnat, just came to me. The finger causing it was, I knew,
the index of a most skilful hand
Reference to Bill’s hand, his working tool (recurring description).
, one I had commanded, one that would pluck me from embarrassment, and yet one I vaguely distrusted.
Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of responsibility
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 38)
. . . . One had to be in the key for such things. I felt I should enjoy it as I got used to it. The bell again, and then a far sensation of feet. I was glad the man had come; time was not unlimited. I remembered that, when I was returning after a fortnight’s absence during which my assistant Charles Day had deputised for me in my lectures on mineralogy at Peebles University, a tactless hand had left on the blackboard:
“Let us work while it is yet Day; for the Knight cometh when no man can work.”
John 9:4: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”

“Knight” refers to the fact that Paul Trinder is a Knight Bachelor (he is a Sir).
MAY 31

IBE, line 67
The cardinal was acquitted to-day of all complicity in the affair of the Queen’s diamond necklace.
May 31, 1786: Affair of the Diamond Necklace.
How quickly the quicksands of crime got hold of the mind’s feet. At that moment it seemed incredible that I had ever been an innocent child, gambolling among the daisies, and thinking, if I thought of it at all, that
the grave would be as little as my bed.
Tho­mas Ken, All praise to Thee, my God, this night
The door opened and shut. From what I already knew of the man who entered, I should have supposed cleaner limbs and an air more sinister. I explained my object, and told him to sit down and make himself comfortable with the papers. Coffee and sandwiches of Westphalian ham pleased him too obviously. Why cucumber sandwiches?
Why such reckless extravagance in one so young?
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 67)
Yes, I felt, at my first sight of him, that the words before my eyes would form some sort of commentary, ironic perhaps, page after page, till the end of my interview, and even after.
Clue to order the pages.
IBE, line 127 I rubbed my eyes and massaged my temples with pronated finger-tips. Then I fumbled two aspirin tablets into my mouth:
Noel Coward’s King Charles’s Head
(Speculation from Bletologist) Allusion to a character in Dickens David Copperfield who always talks about it, hence an obsession. “Noel Coward’s” may mean aspirin: “Exercise is the most awful illusion. The secret is a lot of aspirin and marrons glacés.” (Noël Coward)
. I had a very bad head. My vis-à-vis hadn’t a bad head, now I came to consider it, bowed over the documents.
It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 127)
I became a trifle abstracted. What, I wondered, would he have said about
an abstracted will
A forged will.
He might answer to the same name as the man who sang
Last name: Hardy
“Ah, are you digging on my grave?”
A song written by Thomas Hardy.
But a softer fellow I had rarely seen.
Probable reference to Hardy.
On velvet, yes, on velvet
(Speculation from Bletologist) “Stand on velvet, to place one's bets in such a way as not to loose in any event.” (Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language, 1908, “Velvet”).
I would have trusted him; but not on cinders, by no means on cinders. Yet the keen eyes bent like small topaz searchlights over the writing. I would get, I felt, what I wanted from this man. But then I suddenly remembered the words of the poet:
    The golden one is gone from the banquets,     She, beloved of Atimetus,
H. D., Epigram
IBE, line 441
    The swallow, the bright Homonoea.
H. D., Epigram
I wondered if I should succeed in hurting the girl. But think of her no more. The will was there all right. And the wonderful hands at the opposite side of the table were at work with a caseful of strange pens. I sat quite still; neither in life nor letters will I consent to jump about.
I begin at the beginning, even if you think it prosy of me to say so, and go straight through to the end.
Clue to order the pages.
To be born, or at any rate bred, in a handbag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 441)
The man had certainly got into his stride at last. The fellow seemed absorbed. It is a marvellous gift, I always think. He could undoubtedly have written, if he’d had a mind, like a Chesterton or a Camoens.
IBE, line 471 I started to read
Bill Hardy
’s exquisite production, and every muscle of my brain was enthralled until I came to the end. Just such another must have been
the Monk Arnulphus when he uncorked his ink.
George Walter Thornbury, The Court Historian
His palette gleamed with a burnished green as bright as a dragon-fly’s skin: his gold-leaf shone like the robe of a queen.
George Walter Thornbury, The Court Historian
There could be no slightest doubt. I would now be able to reap the harvest. And
Ruth would have little gleaning
Reference to the Old Testament book of Ruth (2:1–13), a woman known for her faith and loyalty, and her marriage to Boaz, which ultimately leads to the birth of Obed, the grandfather of King David. Ruth was gleaning because of a law in ancient Israel that required landowners to leave a portion of their crops unharvested so that poor people could gather them.
. I thought of her mother and laughed aloud.
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his. I could not help echoing Jack’s question: is that clever?
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 1, line 471)
The Monk Arnulphus, with a dash of
Jim the Penman
Emanuel Ninger, a counterfeiter in the 1880s.
. How, I wondered, did I strike him? I knew I should like to. His was obviously a slow methodical brain, used to pigeon-holing by type. In that case,
I thought I knew the type: learned in a macabre way, even distinguished.
Oscar uses the same words, page 90.
IBE, lines 495, 712 I discussed certain passages with the man, and he was too guardedly ignorant in his contributions to our discussion.
The chapter on the fall of the rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 495)
But would I have called him to me had it not been for money?
Many a truth had been spoken, I reflected, as an epigram. Like something very far away in a great disused house, that may to the aching ear seem to be lifting a flag in some disused second cellar, my suspicion made an escaping movement, a movement of birth in a blank and distant subterrene of my mind.
(Speculation) The author is probably paraphrasing an epigram. (“a great disused house” could be a synonym for an abandoned castle, and “subterrene” could perhaps refer to “underground”).
As I looked at him I realised that no single dish would satisfy the man. He would be, even to start with, for
a course of soup, and then another of fishes, as my namesake said, and another of birds.
First name: Paul. Reference to Corinthians 15:39 (Paul was the author of the First Epistle to the Corinthians)
I have never met any really wicked person before. I feel rather frightened. I am so afraid he will look just like every one else.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 712)
IBE, line 721 It was a petty employ for one of my reputation; you would not hear, I felt, much more of it.
I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 721)
I have spoken of ironic comment. There was, I thought, little chance of that. I wondered if he had ever been an innocent child feeding among the pantries. But that was no fit time for such musings. He took foolish occasion to tell me who he was; as if I did not know.
Bills should always be met squarely
Reference to Bill Hardy
. I turned to the man, and his gaze soon fell before mine. He had always spoken as if his throat were full of jelly. Now with a leer, he emitted sounds through this quag which shaped themselves into hints at some perpetual reward for valuable services rendered. But even then I had not made up my mind. It was, I said to myself, a bad workman who could not play
one tool against another
Possible reference to Thomas de Quincey, Miscellaneous Essays, “Second Paper On Murder”
IBE, line 808 Looking over at the sly sideways smile which seemed to fill all the foreground opposite me, I could not help recalling old Lord Pentarry and his minion.
“Tools must be tooled in the de Quincey sense,”
Thomas de Quincey, Miscellaneous Essays, “Second Paper On Murder”.

(Speculation from Bletologist) The title of the book may have been inspired by this passage: “. . . the quarrel of Cain with Abel was about a young woman; that, by various accounts, Cain had tooled with his teeth, [Abelem fuisse morsibus dilaceratum a Cain;] by many others, with the jaw-bone of an ass; which is the tooling adopted by most painters.” (“Second Paper On Murder”).
he had said, as he stood wiping the billhook on his smalls, over the welter that had once been so incomparable a lieutenant. I felt I could not do less.
Maturity can always be depended on. Ripeness can be trusted. Young women are green: I spoke horticulturally. My metaphor was drawn from fruits.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 808)
The scottish nobleman had also spoken of a green stick fracture. Green was the name of the victim.
(Speculation from Bletologist) This may be the Lord Pentarry and the minion/lieutenant may have been called Green.
Those little golden escapes, those logical thoughts, came on me
like stars upon some gloomy grove
Henry Vaughan, They are all Gone into the World of Light
, as Henry said. And then arrived the blinding realisation that if I did not do the thing myself—and I am not that type—I would be merely
robbing a whirlwind to reap a scorpion
(Speculation from Bletologist) Garbled misquote of “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”.
. I would have to think it over.
IBE, line 1022 The ancient had then sat down among the heather to a great dish of brown and swimming collops. Personally, as far as my stomach went,
I could not love the deer so much, loved I not on a moor
(Speculation from Bletologist) Misquote of “I could not love thee (Dear) so much, / Lov’d I not Honour more” (Richard Lovelace, To Lucasta, Going To The Wars), possibly because the collops are made from venison.
, with concomitant Spey Royal to drown the taste. Nor was that likely to happen in this case.
The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 1022)
Circumstances, I thought, as I looked over at the man, alter cases.
I would give the rogue a chance. “Have you a good memory?” I asked. “Intermittent but long,” he answered. That signed his death warrant.
This is the motive for Bill’s murder, infra
Well, signatures were his business.
The gold was being cleared out of the light; the remaining silver was, how shall I say?, unsatisfactory.
(Speculation) Possible reference to speech is silver, silence is Gold
I also had flaunted
the panache—it lay at that moment beneath my lips
A reference to his distinctive beard.
—to the public without ever having been satisfied with it.
IBE, line 1230 Then there disappeared the last rose flivers of the Prussian beast. He had died to stay this mimic artistry, and had not had an inkling of it. The lips were wiped clean. He handed me the new instrument, and stood half in furtive assurance and half, I thought, in fear. I felt I could afford to be suave.
If you would care to verify the incident
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 1230)
, pray do so.
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 2, line 1230)
But this memorial of, as I thought, a soon to be dead woman’s silly wishes, now cleverly guided a little, by a stranger if falser hand, was even more so.
We that did nothing study but the way to love each other, with which thoughts the day rose with delight to us and with them set, must,
Henry King, A Renunciation
as Henry said,
learn the hateful art, how to forget
Henry King, A Renunciation
. Yes, I would have to learn that.
IBE, line 1564 He stood and looked down at me; but I was not to be hurried. The money changed hands slowly; for I wished to be able to describe him.
He seems to have had a great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. I am glad, however, that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action, and acted under proper medical advice
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
(Act 3, line 1564)
But there were doctors and doctors
Edward Tyas Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale
, I would have to think seriously of that. And then he went. He went.
Simple faith or Norman bluff
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lady Clara Vere de Vere: “simple faith than Norman blood.”

(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Typically correct, non-paraphrased, Tennyson quotes are from Clement.
But that Douglas was, perhaps, less tender and more true.
Reference to Dinah Maria Craik, Douglas, Douglas, Tender and True
My heart dilated as soon as the sedulous ape had got out from me. Gone, in a relative sense alas! not positively, finally gone. That was a
consummation devoutly to be wished
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
, but yet to be compassed. Whom should I trust with that?
I thought of May
May Doncaster
. May be. May be not. Sunset was already reddish-purple above the Quarry hills, like a bruise on the breast of the evening.

June 18 - June 28.
Clement DeAth

Clement DeAth explains how May Doncaster has convinced Sir Paul Trinder to see him. May orders Clement to murder Paul. Clement tries several poisonous plants until Paul’s death.



(Through his narration, Henry is his dog).

Page Order Clues

Paul is about to come meet Clement
I was feeling about as good as man could feel that day. Everything horticultural, in the awful and literal sense of the word, was lovely. Green blood, as I considered before breakfast, I delighted to conserve. I received a letter from
Miss Doncaster
May Doncaster
over the crumbs of toast and the last clear smear of marmalade, telling me that the old man would be coming to-day, on her advice to take mine. I admit that she had stirred me strangely.
I lit a Nestor
He is smoking a Nestor cigarette.
and considered her letter once more.
To pestle a poisoned poison behind his crimson lights
Alfred Tennyson, Maud
. That was a nice thing to ask of a comparative stranger. It would have to be scanned. Poor old man; but everyone must bump up against his Waterloo, and
to-day was the day of the meeting at La Belle Alliance
June 18, 1815
. It was not appropriate.
Clement greets Paul

Aconitum, first day
Hospitality, when I came to consider it, was indeed a funny thing. I wanted to do my best for this hopeful newcomer. My cellar, my library, my curious collection of bottled worms; all should be at his disposition. He was pathetically eager. And at the same time, of course,
I wanted to do my best for May
May Doncaster
. I showed him nearly everything, and he commended all he saw. “You do infinite honour to my little home,
Sir Paul
Sir Paul Trinder
,” I said. An old fellow who would be young again! He had only come before lunch; but there was not time like the present.
If it be not now, I somewhat foolishly said to Henry, who gave a slack ear to me, yet it will be.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibily from Hamlet: “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come”.
I am not incautious. Determining first to exhibit
Toxic plant
, I asked him to take a preliminary glass of sherry.
Fleming’s tincture might, and indeed has been, mistaken for this
John M. Strachan, Case of Accidental Poisoning by Fleming’s Tincture of Aconite, 1861
. He drank my health.
He tasted love with half his mind, nor ever drank the inviolate spring where nighest heaven.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. (quote identified by Bletologist).
Aconitum, second day In my youth I had been worried that
I bore the same name as Newbolt’s admiral and Shakespeare’s sergeant, and it had irked me when, in my student days, I had been known as the
Smiler with the Knife
“The smiler with the knife under the cloak” (Geoffrey Chaucer, The Knight’s Tale) [Bletologist]
. Afterwards I found it better in practice to capitalise my third letter.
Last name: DeAth

“Newbolt’s admiral” refers to the poem Admiral Death by Sir Henry Newbolt

“Shakespeare’s sergeant” refers to Hamlet: “Had I but time — as this fell sergeant, Death, / Is strict in his arrest — oh, I could tell you ... / But let it be.”
The Blue Rocket
Reference to aconitum
was still going down next day; in fact, I knew too much to let it go up. It even seemed to be succeeding.
The snowy-banded, dilettante, delicate-handed?
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Maud
At least I was the last. I would not say at last I was the least. I tried to interest him in my little
Black Museum
(Speculation from Lucas) The Black Museum is how Scotland Yard's Crime Museum was known by then. It, along with the heliographic record of success, implies that Clement has a "museum" of his own containing crime records.
, and indeed elicited a frisson with the preserved eyeball of
the well-known and respected Cadaver Charlie
Charles Byrne (giant). His skeleton is still displayed at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London.
. The eye in which, just before its fellow was shot out by the
Chicago sleuth
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly Allan Pinkerton and his detective agency which was founded in Chicago using the eye symbol which led to detectives being known as “private eyes”.
, he had asked that suave detective if he, the detective, could see any green.
It looked, though, as if Henry had been playing about with this exhibit.
Henry likes to play with eyeballs
I would have to take steps.
Aconitum, last day But next day
that religious fellow’s head drapery
Reference to the monkhood, also known as aconitum
, if I might thus unscientifically express myself, showed signs, it seemed to me, after that initial success, of failing. I would give it till midnight. Do not misunderstand me. Why should I
not play the Spartan mother with emotion, be the Lucius Junius Brutus of my kind?
The Princess (Part II) by Alfred Lord Tennyson
I thought of May. Over them came old odour of red May. Lovely, indeed, but not appropriate. I felt that I was letting May down.
May Doncaster

Quote from Stephen Phillips, Lyrics and dramas: “Over them came old odour of red may.”
As for the other, I had, of course, no intention of letting up.
Henry, before our tea of anchovy toast and various hot dishes (I was never a stinter) riotously displayed himself all over me.
Henry the dog
He hit me once full in the eye
Henry likes to play with eyeballs
, and I remembered, I could not help remembering, Elsie’s difficulty when the young coastguard had tried to prove to her his direct descent from Herebald the Drake. “I will,” she quoted,
“express my duty in his eye.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 4: “We shall express our duty in his eye”.
Switching from aconitum to Gelsemium What was it I held in my fingers? Looked at in one way it could just be
a kea
A parrot (scientific name: Nestor notabilis)
I would give the bird a phoenix chance. I lit a match, and the consequences soothed me.
He is smoking a cigarette. In this context, “bird” refers to the Nestor notabilis parrot. Therefore, he lights up again (“give . . . a phoenix chance”) his Nestor first mentioned on page 54.
Who was afraid of the big bad wolf
Reference to the wolf’s bane, also known as aconitum.

(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly a reference to the song Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? The Disney film the song comes from was released in 1933 and became a hit recorded by Henry Hall (who is referenced on pages 8 and 19).
? No one, it seemed. His silly bane had now definitely failed. I put, at petit déjeuner, the cast-iron old object on
Gelsemium semper-virens
Toxic plant
. By the by, I had a visit on that day from a detective-sergeant about a poor fellow who had died strangely. >My slight experience of detective-sergeants is that
they have a manner; but no plural
That is: they have no manners.
. If you use a word of more than two syllables to them they think you are laughing at them. They are, to that extent, acute. Still it was awkward with
Sir Paul Trinder
about. It pleasured me, however, I must confess, to think that
I was in a position, though the opportunity was unlikely, to entertain divine Xenocrate
(Speculation from Bletologist) Lament For Zenocrate by Christopher Marlowe has the repeated line “To entertain divine Zenocrate”—she is Tamburlaine’s wife. Possibly therefore Clement is thinking of May who he doesn’t know well and it is spelled Xenocrate to hint at “the stranger’s power”.
with an account of it all.
Gelsemium, second day Next day I let
Caroline Jasmine
Toxic plant, also known as Gelsemium semper-virens
—what a name!—do her very damnedest for my guest. But I was doubtful of her influence all the while. What a man!
Henry, I supposed, was about his business and concern, such as it was.
Henry the dog
What is removed drops horribly in a pail
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
. Why should that stick in my head?
Just because a tool I have used, and shall use again, turned, as it were, under my hand last week and said it?
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Possible reference to John Walker.
And what more had he said?
Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
That should be, I thought, a consolation for my patient. Surely such a confirmed old tub-thumper would not have had the wit to think out the
Mithradates inoculation
Mithridatism: “tolerance to a poison acquired by taking gradually increased doses of it” (Merriam-Webster)
for himself, and put it into practice? Perish the thought, and the fellow. Also my ravishing correspondent would have told me. I found myself thinking with a strange weakness of the poet’s lines:
    But we have all bent low and low and kissed the         quiet feet
William Butler Yeats, Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland
Gelsemium, last day
    Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.
William Butler Yeats, Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland
Next day I saw that my suspicions of
Caroline Jasmine, a toxic plant
had been well-founded. This was an infernal nuisance; a Chinese confrère of mine might even have called it a hellebore. It was annoying to share the house with someone who reacted to wild jasmine much as he reacted to roses. He throve on my roses. To that extent I was satisfied with him.
Puffing at Gianaclis
Smoking an Egyptian cigarette
and blowing at myself for a fool, I tried to consider my competence, or lack of it.
I had always thought that to carry the name of fourteen popes and two anti-popes meant nothing to me either way. To share it with Giulio de Medici might sound more sinister to the uninstructed.
First name: Clement
At least
the quality of mercy was little exerted, much less strained, in me.
Reference to a speech given by Portia in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strained.”
Roses automatically reminded me of my aunt Cynthia who had, before there was any constraint between them, asked the poor old Ahkoond of Swat
to share a dream nest with her heart among these decorative but vestigial flowers
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibily a reference to A Ballad of Dreamland by Algernon Charles Swinburne: “I hid my heart in a nest of roses. . .”
Switching from Gelsemium to Digitalis
I considered that venerable whose winter Achilles thought to take from the lips of Cressida. Why not? I set fire to one end of him, gloatingly, and my nerves benefited
He is smoking a Nestor cigarette.

The first sentence is a reference to Troilus and Cressida, and “the venerable” to Nestor: “AGAMEMNON Is this the Lady Cressid? / NESTOR Our general doth salute you with a kiss. / . . . ACHILLES I’ll take that winter from your lips, fair lady. / Achilles bids you welcome. / He kisses her.
Electric Febrifuge
Toxic plant, also known as Gelsemium semper-virens
may be; but bad for life’s fitful fever. Its active ingredient had finally let me down. I was nothing if not generous. I started my fellow garden enthusiast on the
Digitalis: toxic plant
. He would appreciate that if he knew. Yes, I was doing my best for the dear girl. I wished I could make up (she would appreciate this) my mind about her.
If we did decide—and that weighed with a girl—she would not have to change the initials on her parti-panties.
If May and Clement get married, she will keep her initials (M.D.: May Doncaster → May DeAth).

Clement refers to the fact that May has monogrammed her underwear with the initials “M.D.”.

I thought of the old spare-room in this very house,
where Mrs. Gay used to lie upon her visits
Jasmine Gay (narrator 6) knew Clement’s family when he was a boy
. When I was ill, I was put there, with the only dangling bell-wire in all the place, descending behind my head. I used of course to have nightmares of the Speckled Band, and awfully scream down the house.
Switching from Digitalis to Calabar Bean
To reckon with Henry! That was never easy. Just beyond the laurels, I turned sharply and there he was, bending over
Henry the dog
the body of his latest victim
Probably a cat (see page 46)
. There was blood all about. I called to him sharply and he seemed dazed. Afterwards I brought in my rough old friend
Calabar Bean
Toxic plant
to help me—this on the very day when I had proved
digitalis purpurea
Toxic plant
, though I did not know if the profession prescribe it usually as such, a signal wash out. But why should this aspect have come into my head?
Far, far from here the Adriatic breaks in a warm bay among the green Illyrian hills.
Matthew Arnold, Cadmus and Harmonia
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read Mark Twain and inwardly digest. But I had to keep my wits about me. He pottered about with me and succeeded at last in
making friends with Henry
Henry the dog
. Already he felt that I was leading him to the fountain Ponce de Leon sought, where
he who drinks is deathless
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Possibly a reference to the poem “An Anthem of Earth” by Francis Thompson: “true Fount of Youth, where he that dips is deathless”.
. And he was not so far wrong.
Calabar Bean, second day Strange that
old Calabar
Reference to the Calabar Bean, a toxic plant (page 21).
, as I called him, should fail me; yet on the morning after I had introduced him to the person most concerned, I felt certain that I could not rely on him. I felt certain that I could not rely on him. I would give him another day, and then. . . . It was distinctly awkward in a way. At eleven in the forenoon little Mavis Kitchener came with a gift of eggs, a clutch of eggs, I might say, looking at her determined little fists. Distinctly awkward: for, knowing they were bound to be bad, I spent an hour I could ill afford in finding her an equivalent in wormy raspberries. How could I marry her in the circumstances?
Your good uncle, whom you count the father of your fortune, longed for this alliance.
Alfred Tennyson, The Sisters
I remembered, as I wandered among the abortive Bengal attempts of the rhododendrons, that she whose bidding I then did would always make up.
Henry was always made up too
Henry the dog
He had buried the corpse; only the eyes showed
(Speculation from Guillaume) Henry probably played with the eyes of the little mammal (see page 91)

(Speculation from Marie) Because Henry is a Skye Terrier, only his eyes are visible because of its long coat of fur.
Switching from Calabar Bean to lobelia and Lords-and-ladies It had always been my habit to rise with the lark, if there was one going up at about nine.
A confirmed botulist
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Possibly a pun on botulism (an illness caused by a toxin produced by a bacterium) and “confirmed bachelor.”
, I first arranged with Flora that there should be seven of the long stout shapes rosily bursting from the exquisite, taut but not too elastic brown at breakfast. I trusted they would not
taste of Flora and the country-green
John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale: “Tasting of Flora and the country green. . .”
. Then with whetted appetite, and after an unsatisfactory visit to the spareroom, I went for a quick stroll among my flowers. If the West
African ordeal beans
Also known as Calabar beans
had proved a disappointment, at least the broad ones were giving satisfaction. On that day—and indeed I was well inspired—I discarded my useless
Reference to the Calabar beans
. I led the old mineralogist up the garden, if I may be permitted the expression, and introduced him to my
Toxic plant, also known as Indian tobacco
and to my pretty
lords and ladies
Lords-and-ladies, toxic plant
. I wanted to see how the combination would suit him. I felt I ought to be drawing towards a close; but one never knew.
Lobelia and Lords-and-ladies, second day I saw to it that I should be for a moment alone among the marigolds. Thinking kindly of
those two other flowers
Lobelia and Lords-and-ladies
, which I felt almost certain now would win me the girl I felt I could love, I exulted.
Dear old Gerard
John Gerard, Herbalist (1545-1612)
, he said it was called Calendula
as it is to be seene to flower in the calends of almost everie month
John Gerard, The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes
I turned the strong searchlights of my eyes upon the orange tinted documents. But I could not read them. My eyes, or something, were not good enough. And yet I was not among those who attempt, ek parergou, to confound ephphatha with epea pteroenta
(Speculation) He wears glasses (“strong searchlights of my eyes”), and is not far-sighted.

He does not suffer for presbyopia as he does not confound ek parergou (a Greek expression) with ephphatha (an Aramaic expression) when reading them.

Therefore, it seems that Clement suffers from nearsightness like Oscar.

(Speculation from Guillaume) We suppose that these expressions have been chosen randomly by Mathers. Indeed, when reading Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language, “Words and Phrases from Latin, Greek, and Modern Foreign Languages”, it appears that epea pteroenta is the first Greek expression after ek parergou, and ephphatha comes just after (with one French expression between both). Therefore, we speculate that he chose these expressions because they are close to each other in this book, not because of their meaning.

(Speculation from Marie) Ephphatha is what Jesus said to heal the Deaf man, and epea pteroenta was said by Homer, who is traditionally thought to have been blind. Is he saying that he’s not one of those people who makes up for their blindness with good hearing, maybe? (This could be to clue us in that even though Latin is used and bad eyesight is mentioned, this is not Oscar.)
. You would have noticed my oriental preference when I smoke, and would not have been surprised that my Indian tobacco, after a scant four-and-twenty hours, was doing excellent work. It seemed almost certain that the blight would be destroyed: the blight on the May, or on the
delight that is as wide-eyed as a marigold
Lord Alfred Douglas, The Green River (quote identified by Bletologist).

Clement DeAth effectively poisons Sir Paul Trinder
I had sufficient knowledge to realise that I had succeeded. I ordered Charles to spare no expense in confecting that Sundae known as Lover’s Delight for my companion. I believed in letting a man have a bit in. A couple of hours later
the parson in the pulpit
Toxic plant
had, with his collaborator, done the trick. I looked down on what I had accomplished.
Death closes all: but something ere the end, some work of noble note, may yet be done.
Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses
That figurehead beard
A reference to Sir Trinder's distinctive beard.
would plough the pseudo-scientific seas no more, at least.
There had been other murders, of course, to-day, and with greater consequence. Francis Ferdinand’s, for instance.
June 28, 1914: Francis Ferdinand’s death
But never one that had left a man more dead. I gave the huddle farewell, and
forbade Henry, my peerless investigator, to pursue the matter further
Henry the dog
. I climbed down from the short flight of folding steps upon which I had secured my inevitable
heliographic record of success
Clement takes a picture as proof of death
No more by thee my steps shall be for ever and for ever.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, A Farewell

July 25.
Bill Hardy

Bill Hardy meets May Doncaster on Paul Trinder’s suggestion. While waiting for May and interacting with her, he thinks about his acquaintances (Alexander, Barbara, Catherine). May gives Bill a letter from Paul and poisons Bill’s beverage. Bill dies.



(Through his narration, Henry mainly refers to one of his pens, but also to Henry II).

To name Bill’s acquaintances, Edward Powys Mathers seems to have used a technique familiar to cryptographists writing scientific articles. They use fictional characters as placeholders for A, B, C, etc. Therefore, a modern cryptographist would have used Alice, Bob, and Carol/Charlie instead of Alexander, Barbara, and Catherine, but the effect is the same.

Page Order Clues
Sitting alone, Bill starts writing.

Catherine walks down the aisle to get married.
I sit down alone at the appointed table and take up my pen to give all whom it may concern an exact account of what may happen. Call me nervous, call me fey, if you will; at least this little pen, this mottled black and silver Aquarius, with its nib specially tempered to my order in Amsterdam, is greedy. It has not had much work since it flew so nimbly for
the dead old man
Sir Paul Trinder
. As I watch the sea,
Casy Ferris
(Speculation) There has been a lot of speculation online on the meaning of “Casy Ferris”. We suggest that this is simply her maiden name: Catherine Ferris.

Indeed, Casy refers to Catherine (Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of English Language, “The More Common English Christian Names”: “Catherine, also Catherina, Catharine, Katharine, Katherine (Gr.), pure.—Dims. Casy, Kate, Kathleen, Katie, Cathie, Kathie, Katrine, Kit, Kitty.—Fr. Catherine, It. Caterina, Sp. Catalina, Ger. Katharine.”

And Ferris, given the context, is most probably her last name.
passes with down-dropped eyes
She is walking down the aisle to get married.

See for instance Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis, Under the Man-fig: “. . . be saw himself waiting at the altar, while up the aisle came to him, with down-dropped eyes, and fair face, shining like a star through the mist of her veil, his bride.”
. Of course,
to-day is the day
Marriage: Catherine; death: Bill
. Her father reminds me of a valetudinarian walrus. But she has, I suppose, to have somebody.
St. Lazarus-in-the-Chine
Fictitious church name
is full, no doubt, already. I think she is rash; but it is none of my business.
Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying, my heart remembers how
Robert Louis Stevenson, To S. R. Crockett
. Strange that he comes into my head so much to-day. I hope it’s over some flotsam fish that the birds
are making whaupee
Makin’ Whoopee (1928) was a song originally referring to the celebration of a marriage.
But all the nice gulls love a sailor.
(Speculation from Bletologist) A pun on “Ship Ahoy! (All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor),” a music hall song from 1908.

Sitting alone, Bill waits for May.

Catherine exchange vows: she becomes Catherine Somerset.
Now I think I will try a cup of what they insolently call Golden Tips, a find young Tippy Tea. And then they say specifically No Tips. It is very disheartening. While I am waiting for it, and for the possible her,
I study the only literature before me
The menu
. What is a Loganberry Kiss? Is it at all like
the Plover’s Lunch, that hurts and is desired?
(Speculation from Bletologist) From Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare): “The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch, which hurts and is desired.”
It is strange to think that
Catharine is even at this moment turning a Somerset in front of the altar
Catherine exchange vows: she becomes Catherine Somerset
. The whole business reminds me of the time we lay outside Jifjaffa, and
the Padre
Padre Chaplain Williams who formed a choir in a camp at Serapeum, Egypt (Nicol, Sergt C G, The Story of Two Campaigns: Official War History of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment, 1914 - 1919, pages 95-97)
said to me: “I would rather have written that poem than take castor oil in the morning.” I had been reading him my
Ode on the Intimations of Immorality in Early Childhood
Reference to Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth
. Well, well. How vividly, whenever I adventure on stew now, I remember the stew we had that night. How it all comes back. The whole circumstances of this meeting are so mysterious.
It gars me grue
Scottish expression. Gars: “v. In phr. to send (someone) a garsing, to send (someone) packing, to turn (someone) out”; Grue: “To shudder, shiver, turn cold, from some emotion, gen. that of fear or repulsion”
, if I may be permitted the expression.
Alexander arrives by car and goes to the first pub (the Moon).

Catherine is effectively married.

Bill meets May.
I am conveniently situated,
with the Moon on the one hand and the Dawn on the other
Hilaire Belloc, The Early Morning: "The moon is my sister, the dawn is my brother. The moon on my left and the dawn on my right."
. Conveniently situated for some things, that is. Here’s young
, for instance, parking
his Fordor
(Pun) “Fordor” ↔ four door, as opposed to a “Tudor” ↔ two door
with a perfectly grey face. I’m sorry.
He is fumbling with the lock arrangement.
(Speculation) Effects of the alcoholism on Alexander
I’ve never tried the stuff myself; bad for the hand.
Bill is very careful about his hands, his working tools. This stuff is alcohol.
He’s visiting the Moon for the first time to-day and just the first.
From the context, the Moon and the Dawn are pubs and Alexander used to drink alcohol there
I almost wish I had tried the Lapsang. I remember I once received seven pounds of Lapsang from Grace. Or the Moning, very choice, delicate flavour. Why go to pubs?
There would be no Moning at the bar.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Pun on “And may there be no moaning of the bar” (Alfred Tennyson, Crossing the Bar). Moning was a type of black-leaf tea.
there’s Kate Somerset, looking actually proud
Catherine is effectively married
. And that must be he. Poor child.
Ah, here she is. She slips like a blonde lily into the chair opposite.
May is sitting in front of him.
My heart turns over a little in my breast and then re-settles. She is very beautiful. Why should I think her beauty somewhat sinister? Because, perhaps, marriage is in the air?
Barbara arrives, ready to swim.

May shows the letter to Bill.
I hate seeing things like this in the paper.
Bill to Solve the Traffic Problem. Bill to improve the Secondary Schools. I am never asked. I am not qualified. It is all so sudden.
First name: Bill
I find it hard to reconcile my guest with
the Duchess of that name, though I know how popular everything to do with the Wimpole Street singer is just now
May: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rhyme of the Duchess May
, except perhaps her singing.
Toll slowly
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rhyme of the Duchess May
, a match box rhythm. Bryant and,
of course, May
May Doncaster
. Rub gently,
she is here, under the snow
Oscar Wilde, Requiescat
. Poor Oscar. Nor will the ends drop off.
Nor can her eyes go out.
Francis Thompson, Dream-Tryst
Pure Francis Thompson. He sold matches. But I feel I am letting the dear girl down.
There’s a contrast
(Speculation) Barbara arrives
Fidelia Faustina Flora Blackwood
(Speculation) Possible reference to Barbara.

“Fidelia Faustina Flora” could possibly encode “Barbara”, but to date we are unable to explain how.

This pattern (group of 3 capitalized words not really meaningful by themselves) can be applied infra, to “Left Luggage Office”.
, sister of
Ebenezer Blackwood, which of course it is
(Pun: gag name) Ebony is black wood
. She marches by on muscular pink hocks. The thought of that evening in the
Left Luggage Office
(Speculation) We suspect that this expression encodes a word. Indeed, it follows the pattern identified for “Fidelia Faustina Flora”, supra: a group of 3 capitalized letters not really meaningful by themselves.
parches me, makes my heart beat differently. I must say I envy Alexander having his first, and perhaps his second, in there. I think wistfully of the poet’s lines:
     But rum alone’s the tipple, and the heart’s delight
John Masefield, Captain Stratton’s Fancy
May accepts Bill’s drink

Alexander exits the first pub.
     Of the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.
John Masefield, Captain Stratton’s Fancy
My guest has, I think, a Byzantine beauty, as of a golden snake.
Is she, or is she not, a little pale
May’s paleness
about the Gills
Gills is a Scottish town. It is located between Canisbay and Mey. This is therefore a reference to May.
comes into view again, seemingly improved by his lunar visit. He props himself and gazes out to the northwest over the water of the little bay, drinking it all in. I follow his gaze and see, as
Henry saw when he was at home in Woodstock
Henry II in Woodstock Palace (Oxfordshire)
, twisted trees in front of the thick-windowed little house, and a foreground of exquisitely coloured vegetation with somewhat the consistency of fur stoles: a breast of the hills under a long cloud. I have given her nothing at all. She has let me see the original of the dead man’s letter. It is funny, it is rather fearful, to feel
a wet skeleton hand putting hers into mine
The skeleton hand belongs to Sir Paul Trinder, who introduced May to Bill.
. Why, I wonder? Not that it can really be skeleton yet; it must be—worse:
a loathsome mass of detestable putrescence
Edgar Allan Poe, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Alexander enters the second pub (the Dawn). This is good. She accepts Lover’s Delight from me. She has spoken very little; but she urges me to make trial of a Banana Split. Is there some esoteric meaning behind the titles? Now Ecky passes over to the Dawn.
Alexander’s my name. They ca’d me Ecky when I was a boy. Eh, Ecky! Ye’re a awfu’ old man.
The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson
Emotional stuff. Anyway Ecky has disappeared in the Dawn. I almost wish I took it. The hard stuff, I mean; but it would ruin my hand.
Where would my income be if Aquarius were to turn Gemini?
Bill anticipates the negative effects of alcohol on his work (Aquarius is a brand of pens; Gemini refers to the fact that Bill would see double because of alcohol consumption).
She tells me a lot, each word huskily lisping over that
round petulant vermilion lower lip
Reference to May’s red lips
, of a doctor friend of hers. I have only known her a few minutes; but I hate to think she would change—her voice hits a pocket, just like a plane, when she talks of him—
an honest station between King’s Cross and Edinburgh for
Reference to May: Doncaster station
—what is it?—
being’s drone pipe, whose nostril turns to blight the shrivelled stars and thicks the lusty breathing of the sun
Francis Thompson, An Anthem Of Earth

This quote refers to Death. Bill is saying he’d hate for May to get married and change her name from Doncaster to DeAth.

(Speculation from Bletologist) The quotes continues: “Pontifical Death, that doth the crevasse bridge. . . ”, an additional reference to Clement DeAth, who says on page 24 that he has “the name of fourteen popes and two anti-popes”.

Barbara enters the sea.

Alexander exits the second pub; too drunk to drive, he takes the bus.
I wish she would tell me more. I wish she would give me some hint as to why the deceased wished us to know each other. Sitting here, stung by those wild gold waspish eyes, I wonder terribly. I wonder dreadfully. I do think it is a pity.
Auroral imbibitions
Related to Dawn
have set
Scottish for Alexander
on young uncertain feet once more, and he’s handsomely taken the Dagenham bus en route for the converted oast-house where his mother lives. I hope it won’t backslide. Barbara passes from right to left, dear child. Her one-piece is yellow jasmine, and she spurns the concrete and especially the abstract with those bronze legs of hers. The tawny curls of her are springes to catch woodcocks, and more than woodcocks. She waves a towel capriciously, take it or leave it, at me.
What would I do now, if the other leaned across and said what the blind sailor said? But wiseacres contend that it was Kismet.
Last Name: Hardy.

The blind sailor refers to admiral Nelson (see context of this paragraph). His last words were: “Kiss me, Hardy.” Some suggested that he wanted to say “kismet” (destiny) instead of “kiss me”.

Bill would love to hear it from May...
Off went his arm to-day.
July 25: admiral Nelson had his arm amputated. H. T. A. Bosanquet R.N. (1952) Lord Nelson and the Loss of His Arm, The Mariner’s Mirror, 38:3, 184-194
Yes, what would I feel like? She is delightful.
Bill thinks about Barbara’s dry hair I cannot help, even with this supreme distraction,
thinking of my Babbie’s—dare I say my Babbie’s—hair as I last saw it, tiger-coloured, and all like the little springs of a fairy’s sofa.
Bill thinks about Barbara’s hair, dry the last time he saw her.
O toison, moutonnant jusque sur l’encolure! O boucles! O parfum chargé de nonchaloir! Extase!
La chevelure by Charles Baudelaire
If you take my meaning. She, at least, shows herself delightfully interested in Henry. I have always hated that these writers should be anonymous. What a tribe of them there has been, to be sure! But I have called them all by their names. Is it a foolish ecstasy to thrill when I see her long warm fingers taking off Henry’s cap and putting it on again, and trying him out on the table? My dear guest accepts a Rainbow. I clamour for it, and it comes. She explains, and her throat dimples, that she will take it because Lent is over. She never, she adds, will have a
second Sundae in Lent.
(Pun) Second Sunday of Lent (account of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ)
I must be besotted, for I think this amusing.
Barbara comes out of the sea. Babs now moves across the vision, crowned with two straight downfalls, as it were, of copper upon her head. The uncurling flow is to right and left, as if a river, reflecting a thunder sunset, had split in terror into twin cataracts. And here, thank heaven, come the first, much needed rain of the week. A greyness and a spray to begin with, and suddenly a birth of little silver frogs all along the road.
We were sitting in the verandah in the dead, hot, close air, gasping and praying that the black-blue clouds would let down and bring the cool.
Plain Tales From the Hills By Rudyard Kipling
I always think of that, even in England. But, looking across at the figure opposite me, I realise that it is actually she and not Babs that has got me. Got me, that is a terrible conjunction of two little words; Henry does not like it at all. But as a proof that what I say is true, she is strong enough to wean me from my thoughts of Orange Pekoe to a Special Orange Supreme.

May Doncaster poisons Bill Hardy’s sundae

Sir Roland Mowthalorn is about to buy a flower for his boutonnière
And I really think I would have preferred the
Maestro Jimson’s title
Orange Pekoe, Op. 17., by J. B. Jimson
, now that this piled abomination is actually before me. But the queen can do no wrong. The rain that came heavily is drying off lightly. There, jauntily tripping from the edge of one puddle to another is crisp
Sir Roland Mowthalorn
(Pun: gag name) Roll and mow the lawn
, shuddering old thing,
intent to buy the day’s buttonhole
Sir Roland Mowthalorn is about to buy a flower for his boutonnière.
from gin-faced Annie behind the church
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly a joke reference to the statue of Queen Anne. The Queen’s own doctor, John Arbuthnot, is attributed with the often quoted, “Brandy-faced Nan, who was left in the lurch, with her face to the gin-shop, her back to the church”.
. I remember clearly, perhaps because I ought to have my wits about me for another purpose, how
Sir Roland’s father, Sir Weedon
(Pun: gag name) Sir Weedon Mowthalorn: weed and mow the lawn
, once saw Henry
taking the part of Lesurques and mixed him up with Le Cirque d’Hiver
(Pun) Phonological similarities between Lesurques and Le Cirque.

(Speculation) Probable reference to a cause célèbre of mistaken identify. See Encyclopædia Britannica (1911), “Identification”: “Mis-identification was by no means rare. Many remarkable cases may be quoted. One of the most notable was that of the Frenchman Lesurques, in the days of the Directory, who was positively identified as having robbed the Lyons mail and suffered death, protesting his innocence of the crime, which was afterwards brought home to another man, Duboscq, and this terrible judicial error proved to be the result of the extraordinary likeness between the two men.” Also mentioned in James Joyce, Ulysses: “Mistaken identity. The Lyons mail. Lesurques and Dubosc.”
. Instead of really explaining,
she points me gaily to a little boy about, she says, to tumble into the sea. Perhaps he has already tumbled in.
May creates a diversion to pour poison into Bill’s sundae; Bill does not notice the little boy as this is just a diversion.
In the snowy cumulus above the orange there seems to be now a hole.
May poured a poisoneous drop into the sundae, leaving a small hole on top of it.
She tells me to mash all with a spoon. If she had said a mashie. But she is so beautiful. Can I suspect her?
Sir Roland Mowthalorn bought the flower for his boutonnière
I see that old dandy has purchased Cape Jasmine.
Sir Roland Mowthalorn has bought the flower for his boutonnière.
Your gardenia is difficult at a distance to determine. It may be florida flore-pleno, double white. Why should I care? I am a very sick fellow. Gardenias! And there are also Gardener’s Garters, Phalaris arundinacea variegata. I am not at all well. He is clutched unwillingly into greeting old Mrs. Cave, our local Dame Quickly. They mince at one another. Yes, by James! James?
Lo, how these fair immaculate women walk behind their jocund maker; and we see slighted De Mauves, and that far different she, Gressie, the notesl Sphinx
Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James
We commiserate pass into the night from the loud banquet.
From Robert Louis Stevenson, Songs of Travel: “We uncommiserate pass into the night / From the loud banquet” (quote identified by Bletologist).
Sorry. She urges me to the American mess.
I wolf three-quarters, thinking of Quebec.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Wolves are asoociated with Quebec where there is an International Wolf Center.
Then I try her out, saying, with an airy lift of the spoon,
this savours not of death, this hath a relish of eternity
Sir William Watson, The Sovereign Poet
. Excellent, my dear
The poet, not the detective.
. But the leopard’s eyes do not bat a blink. Can she be guilty?
Sir Roland Mowthalorn dropped the flower I dimly guess why
the old dead
Sir Paul Trinder
so wanted this. I had worked for him, Henry had worked for him. If I could get up, as, believe me, I cannot, I would have a thing to say to her. She lolls over at me gloating, her mouth blood-tinted on the puma freckle of her beauty.
Why should I think of Henry at this particular juncture? I have it. Scotland Yard, of course.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly a reference to Henry Moore of the Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland Yard, who suffered a stroke and died at Southend on Sea.
And little ‘twill matter to one.
A.E. Housman, Clunton and Clunbury
A sorry thing to be last noticed:
the buttonhole has escaped from the buttonholer
The flower dropped from Mowthalorn’s boutonnière
. He, the reckless old cock, slips down past Woolworth’s and she continues full-sail toward
the Kursal
(Speculation from Bletologist) An amusement arcade at Southend on Sea.
as flush—oh, you wicked woman—as May
From Hamlet: “With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May” (quote identified by Bletologist).
. The girl is smiling at me. That’s not so good.
Here I shake off the bur o’ the world, man’s congregation shun
Francis Thompson, An Anthem Of Earth
. O beastly woman. You know not
how ill’s all here, about my heart
William Shakespeare, Hamlet (quote identified by Bletologist).
; but I know. Henry, I feel it, is for the first and last time getting out of hand. Good-bye, Henry. He drops awa. . . . .

July 31.
Jasmine Gay

Jasmine Gay, a clairvoyant, psychically witnessed Clement DeAth poison Sir Paul Trinder. She has known Clement since he was a kid and writes him a letter describing this murder.



(Through her narration, Henry mainly refers to her late husband, but also to her first dog).

(Marie Kyle) Possibly, her meals throughout the day act as secondary clues to the time: coffee and eggs for breakfast (27), a simple lunch of potted ham and pickled vegetables on crackers (45), tea and sweet biscuits (82).

Page Order Clues
1 am I came out of my waking dream with temples moist and tongue most damnably dry. I had to believe myself, for I had never previously deceived myself. Yes, I came to myself, if you must know,
when yon same star, that’s westward from the pole, had made his course to illume that part of heaven where now it burns
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
A time, I thought, not only utterly depressing in itself
1 am. This information appears in the rest of the hidden quote (Hamlet): “. . . Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself, The bell then beating one,--”
, but also, when one is alone,
as Dutch as dillwater
(Spoonerism) as dull as ditch-water
. What, I asked myself, ought I to do? The answer was plain enough. When I was ten I had messily collected eggs. When I was twelve I had collected bus tickets and, if I had known where to look for them, would doubtless have collected
whole ickets
(Speculation) wordplay: bust-ickets v. whole ickets
also. The answer was plain enough. I must—oh, final and most difficult hobby!—collect myself. It was ghastly. I had seen every minute of it.
I had seen a poor old man done slowly to death before my eyes.
She psychically witnessed Sir Paul Trinder’s death
7 am
It was just when the girl from the Asolo silk mills contended that morning was.
7 am (reference to Pippa Passes by Robert Browning: “. . . Morning’s at seven;”)
There was something, I reflected, about the fashion, beastly, in the awful and literal sense of the word, as of equals, in which youth treated the young day. Heaven knew I would have been in bed, had not my head been surcharged with too perilous a stuff for sleep.
I spent those six hours in an agony of recapitulation.
1 am + 6 hours = 7 am
Even as a tiny toddler, at old Mrs. Larkin’s school, when I was technically a mixed infant, I had shown signs of possessing these uncanny powers. In fact Mrs.
Larkin might have called me Clare, so both voyant and audient was I
Narrator is a clairvoyant and clairaudient, a psychic
. For a long time I sat and mused,
looking into vacancy across the table.
(Pattern) Narrator sits alone at her table
Gradually a realisation came to me that I would revisualise more connectedly on an assuaged stomach. I hoped for breakfast soon, nor was I to be disappointed. There was that silly girl of mine bursting into
pang in the sausage
(Spoonerism) song in the passage
, just like
Reference to Pippa Passes by Robert Browning
, as she always did.
8 am I had seen, day after day, every sunlit or night obscured detail of the funny old house I had visited so many years ago. Through it, handsome, cadaverous and so quiet,
had walked Death himself
(Double entendre) death and Clement DeAth himself
, tapping unnoticed at the very walls of the mansions of life; trying here, failing there, lightly fingering for the sign of a breach. A tiny opening.
Apparently the person who slept in the lock-up at that county town on the Severn, or perhaps woke, would hear this time.
8 am. See: A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad: “‘God Save the Queen’ we living sing, / From height to height ’tis heard;”
I had found that I could face my usual mixture of Peaberry Mysore and Blue Mountain. I had made certain havoc of two on toast,
their silver skins laced with their golden blood
Reference to Macbeth:
“Here lay Duncan, / His silver skin laced with his golden blood;. . .”
. To think of the tiny
Clement DeAth
mixed up, nay, a prime mover, in such affairs. Useful, courteous little
chip of a bat
(Spoonerism) bit of a chap
. He had
hushed my brat
(Spoonerism) brushed my hat
for me when he was only six, one morning on which I had wanted to go out for a walk.
9 am
Death’s clumsy fingers
Reference to Clement DeAth
, that was the really frightful thing: I had seen them, beneath a debonair smile, fumbling so long about their business. I realised that I would have to do something.
This time, of course, the male incarcerated at the place of Hotspur’s death could not hear
9 pm. A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad, IX:
“So here I’ll watch the night and wait / To see the morning shine, / When he will hear the stroke of eight / And not the stroke of nine;”
. I looked across the table to the great brimming bowl of yellow jasmine; young Alexander had sent him up the night before with an invitation to a private view of the
Paulo Post Avorticists
Reference to the paulo post futurum expression to designate futurists and vorticists, two group of artists. The purpose of this wordplay is to link this page to the Café Royal (95). Indeed, the Café Royal (95) was their meeting place. See Carl Wilkinson (2019). Change of Art. Café Royal Times, page 20: “The Futurists and the Vorticists didn’t see eye-to-eye and at Café Royal, the opposing artistic movements – naturally – sat at opposite ends of the restaurant.”
. Then I glanced at the rococo mirror on my left.
Well, my parents had seen to it, soon after birth, that I should be one; but I had never, save during that week in Malta when I met Ronald Firbank and was a trifle jaundiced, been the other.
First name: Jasmine

She looks at the yellow jasmine and reflects that her parents named her Jasmine, but she’s only once been “yellow” when she had jaundice
It was terrible to sit there with only the table in front of me
(Pattern) Narrator sits alone at her table
, and to know that murder had been committed. He would—I had sensed that—be intrinsicated and concealed, chamber within chamber; if I
durst open the bores
(Spoonerism) burst open the doors
, who would believe me?
12 pm (midday) I had gone to sleep the night before after rereading Typhoon. It had always struck me as a remarkable work.
Now was the hour when Charles Victor Hugo Renard-Beinsky had risen untimely for the sake of the investigating judge.
12 am - Menyhért Lengyel, Typhoon: “My usual hour of rising is one. On your account I get up to-day at twelve. I feel tired in consequence and must request you to treat me civilly.”
But the very phrase struck chill like the slap of the Firth of Forth above the heart, wading out over the
coal dust
(Spoonerism) dull coast
in the morning. I had investigated; but who would believe an investigator
who had not stirred from Baker Steet?
Jasmine lives in Baker Street
I was a judge, but with no sombre little cap, and no machinery to make my judgements effective. I felt I needed something. Would I be comforted by
a Jew’s lime
(Speculation from Bletologist) A yellow citrus fruit that is used in Jewish ritual during the holiday of Sukkot.
and the concomitant odour? I tried, and felt relieved.
Someone had advised me, a few days before, to read
Conrad in search of his Youth
(Speculation from Bletologist) Reference to a 1920 American movie: Conrad in Quest of His Youth.
, or in Search of a Father, was it? But
I had always found Conrad unreadable
(Speculation from Bletologist) Confirms that the reference to Typhoon is not to Conrad’s story.
, as far from English as the Poles, and did not mean to try again.
1 pm
It was when that half Pole, half Frenchman, and
usually up the first half
(Speculation from Bletologist) That is: up the Pole, mad.
, that self-styled drunken mongrel and lazy waster, got normally out of bed.
01 pm - Menyhért Lengyel, Typhoon: “My usual hour of rising is one. On your account I get up to-day at twelve. I feel tired in consequence and must request you to treat me civilly.”
I remembered that when Hélène told him of her attachment
he gave up brandy. And took to absinthe
Menyhért Lengyel, Typhoon
. It was one of the times that he had an absinthe. They said that it made the heart grow fonder. What had I actually seen?
I had seen Henry—surely I had heard him called so
Henry, Clement’s dog
—bending innocently over
an innocent corpse of his own making
Probably a cat (see page 46)
. And I had also seen the doctor leading the old man up the garden, not once or twice, but many times. The girl was no longer there. I stayed myself with devilled Epicam and Royans aux Achard, levered into me with Peter Barleys and washed down and out, foul thought, with Villacabras. But one was so helpless alone in a great building of many flats: I was glad I had not given up
stealing at the doors
(Spoonerism) dealing at the stores
4 pm
I forgot why I was sitting and staring at the table.
Ellipsis to explain the jump from 1 pm to 5 pm
I felt battered. What could the batter be? Ah, I remembered. I had looked upon
carnal, bloody and unnatural acts
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
. And then, gazing at the steaming Lapsang before me, I became lost in reverie. Bartholomew pawed my ankles even, but I am not superstitious,
to ladder danger
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Possibly refers to the danger that her dog pawing at her ankles will cause a ladder (or “run”) in her silk stockings, indicating that it’s a woman narrating.
, desiring sweet biscuits. They were so bad for him. He was the third dog I had had in London. I was afraid, I realised, that I did not notice him enough.
It was the first dog I noticed, and at the very beginning
4 pm. Reference to the first dog watch (4 pm to 6 pm), a maritime work shift (her late husband was a sailor)
. You might have thought it strange for me to say these things, but you never knew Henry. Whether as a human mistake or one
o’ the brand o’ Cain
John Masefield, One of the Bo’Sun’s Yarns
, as the Poet Laureate says—and
he served in both capacities
Henry (her late husband) was a sailor
—he knew his job. I felt as if great
asses of mice
(Spoonerism) masses of ice
were pressing down on my head, with all the cold weight of my certainty.
5 pm And then with horrid clearness I had seen a woman—not actually, if I could trust myself, there; but aiming, directing, inspiring: slim, tawny, petulant, self-willed: wanton, but too calculated to be more than mistress of herself;
the kind that had made England terribly at sea
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
. I looked back on my own youth; I had been about a bit, as they say; sometimes,
to catch a whale, I had cast a sprat over the windmill
throw one’s cap over the windmill/throw a sprat to catch a mackerel
. But it was not till my marriage with Henry that old Charles Goodfellow dared to hint that
I was going gay
Reference to her last name
. Poor lonely little
Her present dog, Bartholomew
. But
it was still the first dog
5ish pm. Reference to the first dog watch (4 pm to 6 pm), a maritime work shift
, I couldn’t help realising that, after my husband’s training.
Just as I could not help realising that, had I a mind to go there, I could now get moled and isled on the Selfridge side, though by no means in Bond Street.
(Spoonerism) old and mild

(Speculation) 5 pm. When she says she couldn’t get “moled and isled” (old and mild) legally “in Bond Street” but she could now get it “on the Selfridge side” that she means it is 5 pm now, and whether she can get alcohol depends on which part of London she is in. Selfridge’s is just north of Oxford Street, and Bond Street is south of it.
When I said means, I meant of course lawful ones. Then I remembered Henry’s favourite quotation:
    But M’Cullough ‘e wanted cabins with marble         and maple and all     And Brussels an’ Utrecht velvet, and bath and a         Social Hall
Rudyard Kipling, The “Mary Gloster”
    And pipes for closets all over, and cutting the frames         too light,     But M’Cullough he died in the sixties, and—well,     I’m dying to-night . . . .
Rudyard Kipling, The “Mary Gloster”
6 pm Had not the author of
Wails of a Tayside Inn
(Spoonerism) Tales of Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
said of
that they were
the living poems and that all the rest were dead
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Children
? Had not the winger of Wimpole Street said that they were
binding up their hearts away from breaking with a cerement of the grave
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Cry of the Children
? Anyway
their hour had come and was now over; just but emphatically over
6 pm: Children’s Hour, a BBC recreational service was broadcast from 5 pm to 6 pm every day of the week (Wikipedia)
, and I could not be sorry. I knew, after arguing it out from one side of my aching head to another—
those little Bunny and Perry, Pro and Con, had been at it hammer and tongs on the centre court between the two lobes of my brain
Bunny and Perry were tennis players who had just been part of winning the Davis Cup for Great Britain, in late July 1933.
—that if I had no tangible proof against
the erstwhile cleanser of my old headgear
(Speculation from Bletologist) A reference to Clement, who brushed her hat when she was six (page 27).
, I had merely a thistledown of semi-conviction against the other. That his thought process, when I tapped its wire,
had been calling her a Cambridge week
Reference to May: Cambridge week is also known as May week
, helped me, surely, not at all.
8 pm If Henry had been there he could have told me what to do. His great voice,
tuned and broken at the capstan bar
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
, would have breezily put me right. Tears came to my eyes. I was, I supposed, an emotional old fool.
So I came back and waited in Orchard, it ran through my head, where he cast up blinded that night, which were my true friend Ravager, which were always good to me since we was almost pups, and never minded of my short legs.
Rudyard Kipling, Toby Dog
Very emotional.
But there was no need for me to weep just at the end of the second dog
8 pm. Reference to the second dog watch (6 pm to 8 pm), a maritime work shift
nor would I
Because, precisely, this dog is not an animal.
. Henry had taught me a little of his trade, and this, curiously enough, was what had struck. After all the
Grundy Sapphic
(Spoonerism) Sunday Graphic
of yesterday had described a more universal taking off in Ireland
Probable reference to the “Italian Air Armada” in the context of the Decennial Air Cruise.

(Additional information from Bletologist) Italo Balbo and the Italian Air Armada intending to stop off at Valentia Island, Ireland July 29 1933 on the way back from America to Italy. The Sunday Graphic report could therefore have been July 30th, which is “yesterday” from the date of the current page.
. I did not quite agree with de Quincey that murders in Ireland did not count.
But perhaps it was an optimistic memory which told me that such things used not to happen when the queer old Dean was alive
(Speculation) Reference to the Spanish Armada in Ireland, when Queen Elizabeth I ((Spoonerism) “queer old Dean”: dear old queen) repelled the Spanish invaders in 1588.
9 pm

Now, I considered,
in my dear Lyons it would be coming of age hours, and I wondered if they would ever do that over here
9 pm (21 heures) - (a) coming of age hours in Lyons: coming of age in France: 21 (at that time); (b) 24 hour clock
. I fancied what self-consciousness and preciosity there would be, for instance,
if the B.B.C. ever took it up.
It briefly did, in 1934 (one year after these events). See: 24-Hour Time System. Nature 133, 408 (1934).
A strange institution; but the
nursed fuse
(Spoonerism) first news
was always interesting. Yes, if sitting at the familiar table with Bart chewing at my moccasins, I could have broadcast it all, I would have left the mighty heart of England to deal with it.
On that very day, I recalled, another terrible thing happened. John Hewit and Sarah Drew, just engaged to be married, were working together in a field of barley when they were both struck by lightning.
July 31, 1718. See the memorial to a tragic couple near Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire: “Near this place lie the bodies / Of JOHN HEWET and SARAH DREW / An industrious young man / And virtuous young maiden of this parish; / CONTRACTED IN MARRIAGE / Who, being at harvest work (with several others),/ Were in one instant killed by lightning, / The last day of July, 1718.”
Alexander, the only noteworthy Pope of my native land, was demonstrably affected.
Alexander Pope
And my namesake wrote a letter, in which he said that Sarah’s left eye was injured, and there appeared a black spot on her breast.
Last name: Gay. Letter from John Gay reporting this incident.
Her lover was all over black; but not the least sign of life was found in either.
10:45 pm?

Jasmine writes a letter to Clement describing the murder in detail
I knew, of course, that
if I got there in five minutes I would have double the time for my by no means suburban hops at the Café Royal,
10:45 pm? The exact time is difficult to ascertain nowadays. At that time, restaurants could serve alcohol up to a certain time, with an extension when served with food: “At present alcoholic liquor may be purchased only between 11.30 and 3 and between 5.30 and 11 p.m. on weekdays . . ., and, in certificated restaurants, along with supper for one hour more.” (Findlay Muirhead. (1922). London and its environs, p. 17)

Using 11 pm as a reference, the current time is 11 pm - 5 min - 10 min (i.e., double the time) = 10.45 pm.
without insulting it and myself with John Montagu’s arrangement for an uninterrupted session at the gaming table
At that time, after a certain hour, it was illegal to drink alcohol without buying a meal. To circumvent this prohibition, Haddock created the “Indiarubber Sandwich”, a fake sandwich served with alcohol.
. I felt so much at one with Holy
Mr. Herbert
Reference to A.P. Herbert’s Misleading Cases
. Or
Mr. Haddock
Reference to The Trials of Albert Haddock
did he call himself? But he was right about these hours, and if that was not holiness, what was?
Meed kissing laces
(Spoonerism) Misleading Cases
, surely he had convulsed us with. For the moment it didn’t matter. Because I had decided what to do. Leda and
(Speculation from Bletologist) Goddess of youth represented as an eagle. Eagle is also a make of pen.
I gave my swan a drink
She dips her pen in the ink
, and then drew a sheet of notepaper towards me. I took up my pen, after having laid it down again and again, and, seeing that the ink was sufficient, plunged in. In clear terse phrase, utterly neglecting my contact with his infancy, I told him all, hour by hour, day by day, from the inception to the culmination of the horrid act.
11 pm?
It flashed through my mind that the place between Eros and the Queen’s Hall had horribly changed since Orpen painted it in 1912
The Café Royal. See painting from William Orpen, The Café Royal, London
, also that even if I took the
warnings of the Ming
(Spoonerism) wings of the morning
got there instantaneously, my modest Munich would have to bracket, at my expense, with islands more correctly known as Efate
11 pm? She would have to buy a sandwich (i.e. the “islands more correctly known as Efate”) to drink alcohol. Even though the time is uncertain, it is clear that this reference positions this page after page 95 (when she still had the chance to drink alcohol without a sandwich).
. But after all I was not going. Rather I intended to finish what I had begun. The girl would find it in the morning, franked, and all ready to go upon its way. I had told all I knew, and felt very tired. Would he ignore what I had said, leaving me to do my worst? And if so, what worst could I do? Or would he come to me and cringe for silence, relying on our old association, when he had babbled at me knee, the arthritic one, that surely
the cabbage butterflies were fragments of a poem God had written
Possible reference to Flying Crooked by Robert Graves
and, as being too good for us, torn up? Or would he simply try to do me in?

August 2 - 7.
John Walker

After receiving the letter from Jasmine Gay, Clement DeAth hires a sickly hitman, John Walker, to assassinate her. John travels from Emsworth to London (where Jasmine lives) and stabs her to death.



(Through his narration, Henry mainly refers to his knife, but also to Henry III of France).

Page Order Clues

(57 miles to London)
I was a little consoled for the weeping weather by the fact that
Gainsborough had gone out to-day
August 2, 1788: death of Thomas Gainsborough
. And, now I came to think of it,
Henry had also gone to-day; poor Henry, who had stayed uncomfortably after his meeting with Clément yesterday.
August 1, 1589: Jacques Clément stabbed Henry III of France; Henry III died the next day.
Henceforth I ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune,
Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
I changed.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms.
Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
But that would be scanned. Or rather it wouldn’t. It didn’t seem to fit. I had woken that morning pleasantly near the sea, at yesterday’s capricious place of appointment with the man who gave me my instructions and all I wanted beside. Did Wodehouse know it, I wondered.
Of its Earl he had said that he stood gazing out over his domain
Emsworth: P.G. Wodehouse, Leave It to Psmith (Chapter I. Dark Plottings at Blandings Castle)
drooping like a wet sock, as was his habit when he had nothing to prop his spine against
P.G. Wodehouse, Leave It to Psmith (Chapter I. Dark Plottings at Blandings Castle)
. All I wanted beside, I had thought. Hadn’t Chesterton said something about it’s being
hemp at both ends
G.K. Chesterton, The Flying Inn: “‘I think it's hemp at both ends,’ said the Chemist. / ‘I fear,’ said Lord Ivywood, ‘I don't quite understand you.’ / ‘A hempen drink, a murder, and a hempen rope. That's my experience in India,’ said Mr. Crooke.”
My job might prove him right.
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) John is worried his marijuana use and murder will lead to his being hanged.
(53 miles to London)
At my meeting with
Clement DeAth
yesterday, he had been quite specific:
less than twenty thousand yards as average—seventeen thousand six hundred
Clue to order the pages: 17,600 yards is 10 miles: Clement asks John to walk approximately 10 miles a day.
to be exact—full ration of the
assassin’s wonderful substance
Probable reference to hashish (“assassin" comes from the Arabic word “hashshashin,” itself derived from “hashish”).
, a little act of justice at the end of less than a week, and then the glorious stuff galore for ever. I felt excellent as I took my second pill. At least I was on my way, for I had come upon the major half of a publishing firm; they had always been very good to me, what with
Austin Freeman, Oppenheim and Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Austin Freeman was the creator of the inverted detective novel; E Phillips Oppenheim, a suspense fiction writer; and Mary Robert Rinehart “the American Agatha Christie”. They were all published by Hodder & Stoughton in their “yellow jackets” series (information from Bletologist).
O my mother was loath to have her go away, all the week she thought of her, she watched for her many a month.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
And then there was a forgotten line.
But the red squaw never came nor was heard of there again.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 46
I thought it a pity that Hodder was not there: what a sweet name for a village!
Stoughton: from Hodder & Stoughton company
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes.
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair. I have no chair.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

(48 miles to London)
After I might just as easily have been a literary bloke,
like Jeremy Taylor or Eugene Sue. I told myself that all art was one. There might be superficial differences in their work, but they had, in the words of the old song, gone the same way home
August 3: death of Jeremy Taylor and Eugene Sue.
. When was it? Why, to-day, if I mistook not. I felt I must take a grip of my failing, in so far, that was, as it distorted the time factor. But in that case I knew I was right. To think of time—of all that retrospection,
to think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward
Walt Whitman, To Think of Time
. Have you guessed you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth beetles?
Walt Whitman, To Think of Time
But it occurred to me that to think of time with my delight would have got him guessing. I woke to the consciousness that I had done very little in my life. Not Dolittle but Didlittle. What was a did little? Didling, perhaps, or didlet. It was at the former that I woke to consciousness that morning.
(44 miles to London)
All the artist in me flared up. After all,
my given name was world-famous as the inherited one of a bold, subtle and delightful painter. I was, perhaps, unreasonably proud of that; took a sort of proprietary interest in “The Mumpers.” Why not? It would have been absurd to concern myself with Hamlet’s one, a thing of dreams only, or to have let my spirit flutter around Runymede
First name: John.

(1) Augustus Edwin John painted The Mumpers in 1912.

(2) “Hamlet’s one”: John-a-dreams (nickname for a dreamer).

(3) Runymede: where King John sealed Magna Carta in 1215.

(Speculation from Bletologist) Mumpers are tramps or beggars—John is himself a wanderer.
. But that was far away, and instead was
a quiet country town, gabled and venerable, unmodernised and unambitious, with a river, a Tudor ruin, a park of deer, heather commons
Midhurst: Edward Verrall Lucas, Highways and Byways in Sussex, Chapter I-Midhurst
and, on the E. V. Lucas a non Lucendo principle,
immense woods
Edward Verrall Lucas, Highways and Byways in Sussex
. O the orator’s joys!
O triste, triste était mon âme
Paul Verlaine, Ô triste, triste était mon âme
to inflate the chest, to roll the thunder of the voice out from the ribs and throat
Walt Whitman, A Song of Joys
à cause, à cause d’une femme
Paul Verlaine, Ô triste, triste était mon âme
. I rather relished my sandwich. But food and drink were so bad for the stuff. I remembered the place of my initiation behind the old Port at Marseille, the furtive plush, the little airless secret rooms hung round with

(38 miles to London)
the darker works of Beardsley and Felicien Rops, and ringing with the gloat curses of the Head, as we called him, lubriciously gasping in the grip of ether. I took the first blink of the light at
the place of the Whympers.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Josiah Wood Whymper (wood-engraver) was among the first of a group of intellectuals to move to Haslemere. Son Edward also lived there.
Mrs. Allingham painted the fishshop
Haslemere: The Old Fish Shop Haslemere, painting by Helen Allingham
, I remembered, and
the author of the Land of Mist played cricket for it till he went up the hill
Haslemere: Surrey Times, 14 august 1903: “On Bank Holiday the Haslemere team met a strong eleven got together by Sir A. Conan Doyle, . . .”
I too had been struck from the float for ever held in solution, I too had received identity by my body, that I knew was of my body, and what I should be I knew I should be of my body.
Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
That was a pretty important day, for old Chris left Palos on it
August 4, 1492: Columbus sets sail the previous day (August 3), but the Chambers’ Book of Days refers to this event in its August 4 Section.
; and you all know by this time the result of that. But upon my soul I wasn’t sure how to celebrate, though celebration was one of my specialties. Ought I to allow myself another ration of my herb of grace, and sheerly rejoice, or should I merely weep?
Helen and crooning? Poe and Prohibition? Canvas-backed clams and the prejudicial Menkin?
(Speculation from Bletologist) After the Columbus reference this seems to be a list of things from America to celebrate by either indulgence or restraint. There was a Helen Rowland associated with the singing style “crooning”; Poe may have died from alcohol poisoning; H L Mencken was the author of a series of books called Prejudices (1919–27).
The balance was too hard to strike. In the end I carried on as usual.
Hambledon (Surrey)
(32 miles to London)
As I was not staying, but only passing through, I raised my hat to
the eleven that played All England for a thousand guineas, and beat them twenty-nine times in ten years.
Hambledon, the cradle of cricket
I paid respect also to
a couple of exceptionally large yets.
Hambledon (Surrey): ancient yew trees in the churchyard of the Hambledon Church
After all, I was doing another man’s work for him. As I progressed,
I began to remember what my favourite author had called him.
Reference to Clement DeAth. John describes how Whitman, his favorite author, refers to death.
He had called him
lovely and soothing
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
, and
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
. He had called him
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
and a
dark mother
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
From me to thee
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
, he had said,
glad serenades, dances for thee I propose saluting thee
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
. Also
vast and well-veil’d
Walt Whitman, Lovely and Soothing Death
. But somehow I had my doubts. I sat on the grass, and counted a distinct ninety between each beat of my heart. I would have to go slow. Each beat, I saw, puffed out of my breast like purple smoke from an exhaust.
I dance with the dancers and drink with the drinkers. The echoes ring with our indecent calls, I pick out some low person for my dearest friend.
Walt Whitman, Native Moments

Bramley, Surrey
(28 miles to London)
The picture of the Old Mill at Bramley,
with its medlar tree overhanging the water
Eric Parker, Highways and Byways in Surrey
its octagonal brick dovecot
Highways and Byways in Surrey by Eric Parker
and its sweet water grape vine
Eric Parker, Highways and Byways in Surrey
, had not detained me the day before. I had groped for my first cigarette of the day, eyes hardly open, a few miles on. So easily were things forgotten! I found it difficult to realise that
to-day had once been an English holiday, like that other fifth, and for much the same reason. James had got off, the Earl and his brother Alexander had emphatically not.
August 5.

(1) Chambers’ Book of Days, August 5th: “It is little known that the 5th of August was once observed in England as a holiday, exactly in the same manner as the 5th of November, and for a cause of the same nature.” (The cryptic morse code, below, clarifies the ambiguity between August 5 and November 5)

(2) “James had got off, the Earl and his brother Alexander had emphatically not”: reference to the Gowrie Conspiracy
But the whole thing was not clear to me, and I doubted if it was to anyone. The two smells, of the medlar and the vine, had been the two notes of a chord, venetian red and peridot, that bit one ear gently and the other hard—or did I mean loud and tenuous?—a monotone save for this variation: once it had been
hard, gentle, hard, hard, gentle, gentle, gentle hard
Representation of a morse code:
·− ··− −−·

This indication clarifies the ambiguity between August 5 and November 5, above
. It had been a pretty smell.
Ockham, Surrey
(20 miles to London)
I had always been proud of my namesake, the Great Lexicographer, as we, not unnaturally, called him in the family
John Walker
. But I wondered if part of my life would not rather horribly reverse his. After all he had been born at Colney Hatch. But no, for the goal of my pilgrimage might easily make it Broadmoor; I rather hated that: portmanteau of Dartmoor and Broad arrows, with a little insanity thrown in. No, locked in, locked in!
William the Schoolman—how like an old war song!—was of that place, and, in spite of Rysbrach’s statues of the first Lord King, it was charming.
Ockham, Surrey: Monument to Peter, Lord King (1670-1734)
Le couchant dardait ses rayons suprêmes et le vent berçait les nénuphars blêmes; les grands nénuphars entre les roseaux tristement luisaient sur les calmes eaux
Paul Verlaine, Promenade sentimentale
Doctor Invincibilis, dear old Bill, he was no mean psychologist; he had a razor.
William of Ockham
There I saw a hen and two sheep.
It was a pity about Dickens’ insane jealousy of chickens, and one could really almost weep at his morbid mistrust of sheep.
Edmund Clerihew Bentley, Dickens

Stoke d’Abernon, Surrey
(16 miles to London)
The best I had done seemed to me blank and suspicious, my great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre?
Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Next day I would have to pay for all I had had of solace, and for all I would have later.
It would, I thought, have seemed impossible to link Will’s friend Ben with Will’s wife, and yet they went off together, or at least on that same day
August 6, 1623: Ben Jonson and Ann Hathaway both died that day
: the bricklayer out of Annandale and the inheritor of the second-best bed: strange bedfellows.
Underneath this stone, he had said, doth lie as much Beauty as could die
L. H. by Ben Jonson, Epitaph on Elizabeth
; but of course he hadn’t been talking about her. Nor had either had anything to do with my waking, my strong tea, and my first pill. That all happened by the Mole, and
there was the oldest brass in England, saying: SIRE: IOHAN: DAUBERNOUN: CHIVALER: GIST: ICY: DEV: DE: SA: ALME: EYT: MERCY.
Stoke d’Abernon, Surrey: original location of this brass (no longer considered as the oldest brass in England)
Good enough.
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two.
Walt Whitman, We Two, How Long We Were Fool’d
Long Ditton
(11 miles to London)
What chemistry! That the winds are really not infectious.
Walt Whitman, This Compost
Now that I was approaching journey’s end, I began to ask myself disconcerting questions. It would be terrible if she turned out to be Flecker’s one. And some to Flecker
turn to pray, and I toward thy bed
James Elroy Flecker, Hassan’s Serenade
. But I had probably got it wrong. Yet it was all right.
Her spelling was different
Reference to Jasmine’s first name: James Elroy Flecker, Hassan’s Serenade: “And some to Mecca turn to pray, and I toward thy bed, Yasmin . . .”
and it was long ago. Yes, but supposing she came of
the family of Jack’s visitor, with Thornhill, who promised the opera?
Reference to Jasmine’s last name: John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
I could never be sure of that. I took a pill. But it was worth it. Yes, it was worth it.
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden.
Walt Whitman, This Compost
He certainly could put that sort of thing over, the dear old bean.
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato’s dark green leaves.
Walt Whitman, This Compost
Thames Ditton’s sister
Long Ditton: Eric Parker, Highways and Byways in Surrey
, as Eric Parker calls her—and one remembered
the Irishman’s malapropism
(Speculation from Bletologist) Possibly a reference to Sir Boyle Roche MP (1743 - 1807) believed to be the inspiration for Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan’s The Rivals. Examples: “I told you to make one longer than the other, and instead you have made one shorter than the other.” “Ireland and England are like two sisters; I would have them embrace like one brother.” Another suggestion is a poem The Summer Fete by Irish author Thomas Moore quoted in Highways and Byways about a party at Boyle Farm, which could be the link to Irishman’s malapropism.
in the same tale—had soon passed. Long she was; but I did not linger to pay court to her.

(6 miles to London)
To have slept and to wake right up surrounded by an atmosphere in which Bunny and Perry went at it hammer and tongs, seemed almost sacrilege.
Wimbledon (“Bunny and Perry”: see note page 93)
That was the day when I was going to do a thing I had never done before. I looked at Henry, and felt a little sick. I took two pills. I had too soon—perhaps I did not want to go even so quickly as my ordered slowness—
exchanged a tennis venue for a rowing one
Barnes bridge was a popular place to watch the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge.

(Speculation from Bletologist) Putney Bridge, the starting point for the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and close to Barnes.
. I was not in Dorset; but I murmured to myself that
Ellen Brine of Allenburn would never mwore return
William Barnes, Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect
. The connection was obvious.
What a day, I thought, for the despatch of Paris and Leonidas. Cambridge or Thermopylae? But Paris?
August 7: death of Leonidas and birth of John Ayrton Paris
I had never at school looked upon him as in any sort a healer. I had, infact, never heard of John Ayrton then.
Ouvre ton âme et ton oreille au son de ma mandoline: pour toi j’ai fait, pour toi, cette chanson cruelle et caline.
Paul Verlaine, Sérénade
But I wasn’t thinking of John Ayrton.
London (Baker Street)

John Walker stabs Jasmine Gay in the neck
I was true to time. I had, it occurred to me, been something of an automaton. But wasn’t I thrusting my head, when bent on such a business
in this street, into the twin mouths of two lions, of Mycroft’s brother and of the pale but multitudinous Blake?
Sherlock Holmes’ street. Also, the home of another fictional detective, Sexton Blake. The “pale but multitudinous” thing is a misdirection to make you think he means the poet Blake.
Often as a schoolboy they had guyed my name to a whiskified objectionable one.
This is a reference to Johnnie Walker, a Scotch whisky introduced in 1820. (The fact that John refers to a Scotch wisky is indicated by this sentence: “I blubbed with my face in the mackintoshes”).
Whiskified objectionable
Rudyard Kipling, Giffen’s Debt
was Kipling. And I blubbed with my face in the mackintoshes. But I thanked heaven that their childish jibe was true. I was
still going strong
Advertising slogan for Johnnie Walker

The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he sleep?
Walt Whitman, The Sleepers
I only knew that all the weary business was ended. I looked across the table and saw that she was asleep. A nice old thing. I put Henry’s keenness a few inches below the withered
(Slang) Neck. “Salt-cellars (Peoples’). The cavities behind the feminine collar-bones” (J. Redding Ware, Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase)
. I drove Henry home, and left him.
A dog barked and mourned from the next room
Bartholomew, Jasmine's dog.
, but I could have all the stuff I wanted for ever.

August 9 - 21.
Henry (dog)

Henry is Clement DeAth’s dog. Henry describes how May meets Clement and how they bet who will be the first to murder again. Clement stabs May to death. May posthumously gifts him a cigarette box (in the context of the bet). The cigarette box is trapped and explodes, killing Clement. Henry survives.



Page Order Clues
AUGUST 9 Needless to say I didn’t know that that was the last day. Afterwards I found it terrible to look back, and realise that I hadn’t made the most of it, or rather of all the little things that went to compose it, and the thousands that had gone before. I heard him read two things
about a man
Izaak Walton (from the Byron quote and the about torturing his bait)
and say that
he had put in his appearance to-day
August 9, 1593: birth of Izaak Walton
The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, one was, in his gullet should have a hook
Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto 13: “Whatever Izaak Walton sings or says: / The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet”
. And the other called him
a demure hypocrite or a blockhead
Horace Smith, The tin trumpet, or, Heads and tales, for the wise and waggish: to which are added, poetical selections
He must first torture his postman, the bait, and make him carry the letters of Bellerophon.
Horace Smith, The Tin Trumpet: Or, Heads and Tails for the Wise and Waggish: “Old Izaak must either have been a demure hypocrite, or a blockhead, unaware of the gross inconsistency between his profession and his practice. If he saw a fine trout, and wished to trouble him with a line, just to say he should be very happy to see him to dinner, he must first torture his postman, the bait, and make him carry the letters of Bellerophon.”

“Letters of Bellerophon”: E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): “Letters of Bellerophon. Letters or other documents either dangerous or prejudicial to the bearer.”
But that was too big for me.
My people had always owned allegiance to the McLeod of that ilk, among others.
(Speculation from Bletologist) The Scottish clan MacLeod has its home at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.

(Speculation from FrenchRetiree) The McLeod came from Skye, more precisely the MacLeods of Harris and Dunvegan. This also gives the origins of Henry the dog.
But until he told me about it to-day, I never knew that
the Great Lexicographer
John Walker, the hitman
had tasted Lotus with him
In Homer's Odyssey, the term "lotus eater" refers to a group of people who live on an island and eat the lotus fruit, which causes them to become completely inactive and contented. When Odysseus and his men land on the island, some of them eat the lotus fruit and become so entranced by it that they no longer have any desire to leave the island or do anything else. Odysseus has to drag them away from the island and force them to return to their ship, where they eventually snap out of their trance and regain their desire to return home.The story of the lotus eaters serves as a warning against the dangers of overindulgence and a life of pleasure-seeking. It suggests that a life of leisure and indolence can be tempting, but ultimately leads to a lack of purpose and fulfillment.

It could be a reference to the use of drugs.

(Reference identified by FrenchRetiree) Samuel Johnson, a lexicographer, visited the Isle of Skye plus he wrote A journey to the Western Isles of Scotland where “At Dunvegan I had tasted Lotus” (taken drugs)
. There was that in me which needed the exercise of fealty. To give all—as I had given all to him—was very
bone of my bone
Genesis 2:23
AUGUST 10 He always talked to me about murder, when we were alone together.
And that day he told me it was the birthday of a good one in prison. John and Cornelius, the Dort people
August 10, 1672: murder of the De Witts at the Gevangenpoort (the prison) at The Hague
; I can’t say I understood very much. But I liked his name, and showed him so, for he had always been
very clement to me
Reference to Clement DeAth
, even about that cat Jasmine. By the bye,
Tusitala and Flora had both come over to our place
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Tusitala refers to Robert Louis Stevenson, known to the Samoans as Tusitala. In this context, Flora refers to Flora MacDonald. Flora helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to the Isle of Skye, and the “song about it” is Skye Boat Song, written by Stevenson. Henry is probably a Skye Terrier.
. Of course you might say that was nothing to make a song about. But others had not agreed. And just as I was feeling how much I loved him,
he put on funny clothes and went away
Clement and May got married. May changes her last name to DeAth.
. I lowered myself and made love to Flora. It was quite late when he came back with her. He had always told me that I was absurdly sensitive. It might be so. Explain it how you will, when I first set eyes on her I felt no vibration, no hint at all,
of my latter end
His tail
. I was banished and slept miserably with Flora.
AUGUST 11 It was that day my friend Sandy told me he was sure he wouldn’t sleep all night. There was, of course, a difference between us. I couldn’t get all worked up like that. You see,
next day he would be allowed to fetch back Lagopus Scoticus
Reference to Glorious Twelfth (August 12), the start of the shooting season for red grouse. Because August 12 is “next day”, this page refers to August 11.
, whom I knew well, and he hadn’t been allowed to do that for such a long time. I was fond of Sandy and rejoiced with him. But I felt, I couldn’t help feeling, that there was something wrong, something disjoined about my very front. I made love to Flora again in the back parts; the result was satisfactory enough. I was feeling quite at my best, but
I took Bob Martin in completely
Bob Martin was a powder to feed dogs to keep them healthy.

. After all he liked me to, and he was always right. But I had come to the conclusion that I loathed her; she kept colouring up. I understood why he had once said to me about something
being as flush as May
From Hamlet: “With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May” (quote identified by Bletologist).
. Also she wore her hair in a cluster of little sly curls, a thing which in our family emphatically was not done.
AUGUST 12 I had always thought that
In this context: Nahum Tate. See temporal marker for this page.
essentially meant sugar. This I liked almost next to anything, though mostly not at once, but under the gas fire and pulled out when there was nobody else. But he said to her,
as in the game a lot of them played there once
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Henry is remembering a time when there was a group of people playing a Consequences game which was a party game similar to Mad Libs, in which players take turns adding to a story or poem using predetermined word types.
another had begun to-day, and had wormed his way into the Book of Common Prayer
August 12, 1715: death of Nahum Tate, versifier of the Psalms (See Chambers’ Book of Days, “August 12th”, “The Old and New Versions of the Psalms”).
. But I didn’t think he would taste so good; I preferred the sugar one. I thought they were together too much. I became convinced that I must be a sad dog; I tried to remember all the times when one of the other sex had preoccupied me, and we had been oblivious of all else. I tried to forgive.
He called her Crataegus Oxyacantha
Refers to May. This is the scientific name of hawthorn, also known as May Tree.
over the cocktails; that was his big joke. I knew it by the way he laughed, and I too rolled about. But I liked the real way to call her best. I met Ecky that evening, he was very happy; but just about all in. When I greeted him he nearly fell on my nose.
AUGUST 13 I always liked to listen to him.
It was St. Wigbert’s day
August 13
, I was told, and
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Probably refers to Caesar Augustus (Clement has gotten his Tiberiuses mixed up because Clement is reading from the Book of Days and sees Tiberius died that day. Marcus Agrippa Postumus would be the “crude” third son)
, I remembered,
was a chubby lad
Heinrich Hoffmann, The Story of Augustus who would not have any Soup: “Augustus was a chubby lad” (quote identified by Bletologist).
. I was getting quite clever in that way. He said his stepson had been misunderstood for a long time, and had gone out to-day. He said his third son had been crude. I did not entirely understand; but I had a lot of good Tate. She said to him. He said to her. The consequence was rather dreadful, but out of doors. I had got a little sick, too, of the way they went on; like that Tom and Flora’s Jasmine. Perhaps that was really it.
They were having their first quarrel, about the new distemper.
(Double entendre) They argued about a painting (a distemper is a type of paint made from water, a binder such as size or glue, and a pigment); Henry thinks about the canine distemper virus (CDV).
She was all for Dark French Grey and he for Egg Shell Green.
(Speculation from Marie Skyle) Probably refers to paint colors.
Yet I knew they’d get over that. I had. But each, too, began to say things about how few the other had done so late in the year. I don’t know why, but I felt that mice were dancing on my little slab.
AUGUST 14 She said it didn’t matter what they had done, because
she was still an M.D.
By marrying Clement, May changed her last name from Doncaster to DeAth. Therefore, she is still a M.D.: May Doncaster → May DeAth.
and she’d got another one
Because she is married to a doctor now.
. That was he. She showed us some delicate undercoats, all raw liver colour, very lovely, and proved it. But she had, too, a passion for getting new things, and I was sorry for his sake. After all, in all my life with him,
I had only had one coat, and that an inherited one
His dog hair
. True, it was long and graceful, and fitted beautifully, which was more than could be said for some of hers. Combe, I had always thought, was where one pottered after rabbits. But there was a George too, because he said so. He called him a
Free Knowledgist
George Combe
, though it didn’t seem to me he gave much away.
He said this was his last day.
August 14, death of George Combe
I didn’t care. But I heard them say
they were two all for that year
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) “Two all” means the score is tied, and they each have two points. They seem to be having an argument about the murders they’ve committed. They argue about who has done more, and end by making a bet about who will murder a third time. They also seem to be fighting about her spending a lot of money. So it is my interpretation that they might have committed the murders to get money and that might be part of the reason for the fight. (Maybe she got money from Paul somehow; the other murders are covering things up.)
she said one of his was vicarious and I could not understand what the vicar had to do with it
As a dog, Henry does not understand what vicarious means.
. They made a bet.
AUGUST 15 In one way, of course, I was glad they were married. I had always been rather a stickler for purity in family life.
That scandalous rumour of a Maltese landing on our island and seducing an ancestress of mine—or was it an ancestor?—from the path of duty, I never had and never would believe.
Henry is a Skye Terrier. According to specialists, many Skye Terriers descend from Maltese Terriers. See for instance Hugh Dalziel, British dogs; their varieties, history, characteristics, breeding, management and exhibition: “. . . a long coat greatly loses in density and hardness of texture, giving the animal more the appearance of a Maltese terrier, from which many of the so-called Skye terriers are, no doubt, descended.”
If I had had a real education, instead of just listening to him, I could have told—it was bad that day—how
I detested being called Hal
Hal is a nickname for Henry
. It was she that did it. But he was pleased in a way, and said to her, out of a book,
the original ground of the transaction appears to have been sentimental: “He was my friend,” says the murderous doctor; “he was dear to me.”
Thomas de Quincey, Miscellaneous Essays, “Second Paper On Murder”
Some Tom
Thomas de Quincey
not the one I killed in the matter of Jasmine
A male cat
, had done that, I gathered. He was enthusiastic and provided a chop for me, and said it was good
he had visited England to-day for the first time
August 15, 1785: birth of Thomas De Quincey in England
AUGUST 16 Then came
Hyacinth’s day
Reference to a feast day of St. Hyacinth, confessor, 1257, according to Chambers’ Book of Day for August 16
. He laughed when he remembered that, as we were walking round the garden, and said
it was too late for Jasmine’s day at any rate
Too late for Jasmine’s 12) and because Jasmine Gay was dead
. I liked to hear him laugh, and thought it was absurd for him
to be called after what the man Boots didn’t understand
That is: death. Indeed, Boots the dog didn’t understand death, in Kipling’s Thy Servant a Dog: starting with “So he sleeped long whiles . . .” Ravager stops talking (“Then he fell down all- one-piece, and did not say. I lay still because I were afraid, because he did not say any more.”) Humans come and are sad, and then bury Ravager (“They took up to Orchard. Harry digged and put under like bone. But it were my Ravager.”) Boots tries to dig him up, and later goes looking for him in his favorite places and can’t find him. And then he says at the end “Please, I am very little small mis’able dog!...I do not understand!...I do not understand!”
. The latter’s way of expressing himself seemed to me childish; why should we, of all people, use singular for plural and plural for singular? They went back two days and formulated their bet, till I could have howled. If he got the third point, she’d owe him a box of a hundred Egyptian cigarettes—Gourdoulis, and if she won, he’d give her
three pairs of Etam dawn mist, ten inches
Seems to refer to stockings. However, it is a strange and specific gift. Therefore, we think that it may be a cryptic reference or wordplay.
. They looked so bright about it all. She drooped long seed pearl things right over the soup. Ear-drops, as my mother had called them, I never could abide; probably because
I belonged to the other side of the family
(Speculation from Marie Kyle) Henry is a prick-ear Skye terrier, not a drop-ear
. My mistress wore them; was it for that that I had begun to tire of her already?
AUGUST 17 And she wore a mauve love-knot on her breast, and the ends were unequal. He said he’d put that right, but he couldn’t find the
silly old jossers
(Spoonerism) Jolly old scissors
as Jasmine might so easily have called them. I was old enough to remember her
Henry was Jasmine first dog
; she wasn’t the one I’d killed. He had read out about some
most excellent potent brilliant eyes, swift-darting as the stars, steadfast as the sun; grey, we said, of the azure-grey colour; large enough, not of glaring size; the habitual expression of them vigilance and penetrating sense, rapidity resting on depth.
Carlyle, History of Frederick II (quoted in the Chambers’ Book of Day for August 17)
When she asked him why he had chosen those and whose they were, he answered: Father Fred’s, and because
it was closing day in Potsdam
August 17, 1786: death at Potsdam of Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia
. I had had a dry shampoo that morning, a thing I adored, especially on the old chest. Rather a waste of time, though, as it turned out. Of course I ought to have been more careful of such a trifle.
Suddenly I felt that I had put my foot in it. Still I had three more left.
(Speculation from Bletologist) Because he’s got four legs.

Clement DeAth stabs May DeAth (née Doncaster) with scissors
Could I be developing a green-eyed streak?
I investigated the body before me with the aid of a powerful glass. At least I always thought of it as powerful, because I never could quite understand how it worked. I knew I ought to have the body as long as possible.
Henry, without realizing it, investigates itself in a mirror
At last I was satisfied. I measured the distance carefully with my eye:
a good forty inches, I made it
(Speculation from Bletologist) According to the Kennel Club standard, a Skye Terrier has a “length from tip of nose to tip of tail 105 cms (41½ ins)”.
I gathered from his talk that Guido looked his last to-day on the sausage place—furtively I knew how excellent—and that Kilmarnock and Belmerino completely lost their heads
August 18, 1642: death of Guido Reni at Bologna (“sausage place”); August 18, 1746: Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino were beheaded
. But whether or not this was cause and effect I couldn’t make out. I wished for the hundredth time I had a better brain. Later she was wearing the same bow—I loathed bows myself—and that time he found them and trimmed the left end. Then he turned what he was holding a bit; so that it pushed its way right through. Then
he twiddled the black knobby thing, and Mr. Hall burst in upon us
Clement switches on the radio
The knobby thing was black and red.
Because Clement has blood on his hand, he transfers blood on the knob that, originally just black, becomes black and red
AUGUST 19 Yesterday he got in
another of his own kind
A doctor (to certify the death)
, who agreed she’d done it all herself.
He twiddled the polished knob and Mr. Hall came into the room again
Clement switches on the radio again. Because he cleaned the knob before the arrival of the doctor, the knob is now polished.
I heard him muttering that it was appropriate the Human Comedy couldn’t possibly have gone on beyond to-day
August 18, 1850: death of Honoré de Balzac, author of The Human Comedy. Because Henry refers to yesterday, this page references to August 19.
I, rather surprisingly, liked music. Surprisingly, that is, to anyone who did not know that
my people came from the same place as the McCrimmons, that famous race of hereditary music makers
The MacCrimmons were a family of Scottish Highland bagpipe players who were associated with the island of Skye in Scotland. They were the hereditary pipers to the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod and lived at the family seat of Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. This is a reference to the fact that Henry is a Skye Terrier.
. I was rather astonished to hear him saying something about someone who was
by virtue first, then choice, a queen. Tell me, if she were not design’d th’ eclipse and glory of her kind
Sir Henry Wotton, Elizabeth of Bohemia
. So I pulled his sleeve. He pulled my ears, and said it was Wotton, which I didn’t think it was, and that she had only just come to Falkland. I made a low noise and at once knew I had done the wrong thing.
Usually he just said William Sydney Porter, which I offended
William Sydney Porter’s pen name was O. Henry. Therefore Clement just said “O, Henry!”.
; but then he said something much worse.
It seemed from what I heard that Felton’s meat had been delivered at Brookesley for the first time that day.
August 20, 1592: birth (“had been delivered”) of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, at Brookesley, and killed by John Felton (note: this is the date referenced by Chambers’ Book of Days; more recent sources indicate that he was born in August 28)
I wondered if it was good and plentiful. Not that I really liked to think about meat, though we were alone again. I thought it crude of him to talk about
no noise here, but the toning of a tear, or a sigh of such as bring cowslips for her covering
Robert Herrick, An Epitaph Upon a Virgin
, until I realised that he was thinking that
Ben’s friend
(Speculation from Bletologist) Robert Herrick was a friend of Ben Jonson and was born August 20.
had been, in point of time, like Felton’s meat. Over the Westphalian ham, which I contrived to share, he read bits of paper about Hilary and the Amazon, and Stella Polaris and Voltaire, and the City of Nagpur, and Vandyck, and other lovely people. I wondered if he wasn’t thinking of going on a holiday. It seemed a pity to me; so unnecessary, just then.
I knew nothing at all about boats.
In this page, Clement lists several ship names; he is probably thinking about leaving the country.
Some of my people had known the old
Armadale Castle
A ship, but also probably a reference to the ruined castle in Armadale, Skye
well enough, doubtless; but that wasn’t the boat that went to South Africa.

May DeAth (née Doncaster) posthumously kills Clement DeAth with an explosive device
He was picking round among all she had left behind and found a box with his name on it. Also it said, for he read it, I always pay my debts. Unwrapped, it seemed to be a hundred box of Gourdoulis. I had never seen him so moved. He started reading a letter from a woman,
dead the same day
August 21, 1762: death of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
I had yours but yesterday
Letter by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to the Pope (Belgrade Village, June 17. O. S.)
, it said,
though dated the third of February, in which you suppose me to be dead and buried. I have already let you know I am still alive
Letter by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to the Pope (Belgrade Village, June 17. O. S.)
, he went on,
but to say truth, I look upon my present circumstances to be exactly the same with those of departed spirits.
Letter by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to the Pope (Belgrade Village, June 17. O. S.)
I don’t think he ever said any more.
Happily I was behind the armchair.
The armchair protected Henry from the explosion
He just opened the box. I had never seen him
so moved
Euphemism: Clement is blown up by the explosion
. There were little bits of stuff like black pineapple on the carpet.
I knew he could never be his old collected self again
Euphemism: Clement is pulverized
, and that
my gray hairs would go down in sorrow to the grave
Genesis 42:38: “But Jacob said, ‘My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.’”

(Speculation from Marie Kyle and Bletologist) May also be a reference to the famous Skye terrier Greyfriars Bobby who guarded his master’s grave.
. ∎