An intercepted communique…

Transcript of a conversation between the British Foreign Secretary and his senior civil servants dated June 14th 1895. Found in the valise of a Mr William Hickok, an American citizen at Bristol Docks.

“Despite the best attempts of the Prince of Wales Company and Scotland Yard the number of ‘special incidents’ is on the rise. At the moment they are coping with this, and are emerging victorious most of the time, but the attrition rate is alarming. Captain Napier shall be in Aldershot Military hospital for at least a month after the Paris affair,  so we have had to warrant Sgt Major Borrage to hold the fort for a lack of experienced young officers. That damned Consulting Detective has gone missing again and the bloody Commissioner seems lost without him.

“The Home Secretary has asked if it time we began to draw upon other resources. It has been suggested that we engage the services of Lord Curr and Lady Quatermain, both of whom have proven to be highly effective in these irregular engagements.

“My personal opinion is that Curr is reckless and a cad and Quatermain little more than a thief and a pirate. Only their positions in society have kept them out of Newgate prison.

“That said we are in desperate times. If you read the London Daily Chronicle there was blizzard in Regents Park on Wednesday night, in June I tell you! Three chinamen were found frozen to death along with a Constable and a vagrant.

“We have Abel Caine at war with the Communes, Russians and Prussians duelling on our rooftops, agents of the Vatican hunting an Egyptian Sorcerer in our sewers and, if you can believe it, a Wallachian Prince leaving exsanguinated bodies all over the West End.

“The Explorers Club have committed most of their resources to our colonies in Africa, so recalling Sir Allan is not feasible at this time.

“The American Ambassador has scheduled a meeting with me tomorrow. I expect that he will want to repeat his government’s interminable insistence that London has become a safe haven for members of the League of Southern Gentlemen. However, he seems either unwilling or unable to identify who these fellows might be. He is also furious that we detained and expelled a dozen of his Secret Service agents last week. Something about a gunfight in the Lyons Tearoom at Hyde Park Corner? I shall need a full briefing on this before I meet him Macfarlane.

“Following him I have an appointment with no less a worthy than the French Secretary for Internal Affairs and the Home Secretary. At least it shall be amusing to watch the Americans and the French pass each other on the stairs given their current diplomatic impasse.

“It appears that we have a man calling himself ‘Dupont’ asking for asylum and carrying a letter of recommendation from Lady Helen Quatermain herself. The French seem very keen to get him back so I suspect that he is another member of Le Cabinet Noir. He must be important to winkle that wretched old republican Le Clerc out of his Parisian mouse hole.

“Penfold, please make arrangements for Curr and Quatermain to have dinner with me at the Explorer’s Club no later than Thursday. I shall explore the Home Secretary’s suggestion with them, though I shall no doubt be damned for it should it get out to the press. Other than the jolly Ghurkhas the great British public are not over fond of employing mercenaries.

“It is going to be a busy couple of weeks gentlemen, so please tell your wives that you may not be home very often, if at all. I myself shall be staying at the Diogenes club. Now where is that intolerable snob Mycroft?”

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