M. Savoir Committed Suicide
case that had
attracted the police to Dramsheet's talents was the Averdone
Louis Dramsheet was on a cruise ship, the Averdone, which was sailing
European coast from
Dr. Silannapa, who had, by a stunning coincidence, been ruined by
To no-one's surprise, Demarcette was murdered. Indeed one of the stewards was fired for openly betting on the subject. It happened late one Saturday Evening, after they had just passed the Straights of Hercules. Mrs. Maylor had borrowed a book from Demarcette and was supposed to return it at , but Mortaset offered to return it instead. He then loudly told Demarcette good night, who had just as loudly thanked him at that evening. He then went to the main ballroom where everyone else was. Everyone else, except for the maid and the cabin boy who were later to claim that they had been having sex in the latter's cabin on the floor below. The morning after the maid found the stabbed body, and Silanappa determined her to have died between ten and the previous evening.
Demarcette was known
to be alive until and
else had a waterproof alibi after that time, suspicion naturally
focused on the
maid, who didn't. But then a large number of strange things began
A chimera was found sinking its small lion's head into the
Pentagrams started appearing on all the doors, and strange pools of
appeared and disappeared in the most inconvenient places, such as the
translation Dramsheet was making in demotic Greek of Pascal's
copy of Gesonne's book Flagellation for the Whole Family, was found
bed, with the words "I'll disinherit the worthless hypocrite" written
in Demarcette's handwriting. An oxen-bodied Chimera kept spitting
at Edward Maylor. A strange flame, six feet high, manifested
Ms. Virdonia and Dr. Silannapa. The knife that killed Demarcette
in Schweitzer's room, hidden conveniently under his love letters to
The knife was revealed to be one of Silannapa's surgical knives, and
immediate suspicion because a) Silannapa was a pharmacist, not a
b) Hodgkins claimed he saw Silannapa breaking the lock on his medical
appear that someone had forced it open. A book of ventroliquism
in Mortaset's room. "WHORE/MURDERER" appeared in big red
letters of blood on Olivia's door. Mortaset was found shot to
his cabin room, at around three in the afternoon. A chimera
Dramsheet and chatted about the upcoming victory of Satan and the
tickling of all the world's virgins. It was revealed that the
been paid to whip Gesonne with wet spaghetti and that if you let it dry
it could make a very sharp knife. An advanced mathematics
to Mortaset was found in Mrs. Maylor's room. Mrs. Maylor, in
turn, read a
book about the
"Well I'm completely stumped." said the conveniently on hand inspector whose job was to be completely stumped at this point in the story.
"I have no idea who could have killed both Demarcette and Mortaset."
"On the contrary." said Dramsheet, who for some strange reason had not been considered a suspect by anyone but had been allowed to question everyone on the entire ship with no problems whatsoever. "I know perfectly well who did it. But since you are not interested in my intuitive understandings, I shall simply have to prepare a test that will immediately reveal the name of the murderer."
Dramsheet immediately requested a stakeout at one of the passenger's rooms. He, the inspector, Hodgkins, Silannapa, the chief steward, and the captain all hid very cleverly in Mrs. Maylor's closet while she took an evening nap. A chimera whizzed by, and a very quiet crow asked for directions. Suddenly a masked figure stepped in the room and pointed the antique but still extremely lethal crossbow that Schweitzer carried wherever he went. But before the masked figure could fire at Mrs. Maylor, a large vat of molasses, cleverly hidden above the door, fell on his head. The figure's disguise was removed and the dastard was revealed to be none other than---Edward Maylor.
"But I don't understand," said the extremely dim inspector. "What motive did he have to kill Ms. Demarcette?"
"None whatsoever. You made a crucial mistake. You believed that the first murder was the most important one: but in fact the real murder was the one we just prevented. You see Maylor murdered Demarcette just after with an extremely sharp surgical knife that Silannapa kept misplacing all around the ship. He then placed it in Schweitzer's room, but that's hardly important. More important, he knew that his aunt was going to return a book at . Therefore, she would discover the body, and when her nephew murdered her the next day everyone would presume it was in order to keep her silent about Demarcette's death. That way no-one would suspect that Mrs. Maylor had really been murdered so that Edward Maylor could inherit her large estate. But a slight problem arose when Mortaset offered to return the book for her. When he discovered the body he decided to give himself an ironclad alibi by using his ventriloquism skills to make it appear that Ms. Demarcette was still alive. So now Mortaset had to be murdered, and material had to be taken from his room and placed in Mrs. Maylor's room to make it appear that she must have known something about Mortaset's murder, and therefore provide a logical reason for her death.
"But what about all the other clues? What about the chimeras, the fires, the signs written in blood, the flagellation book, the circling crows, the love letters to Ms. Virdonia, and the imminent signs of the return of Satan?"
"All completely irrelevant, though I would suggest someone talk to Ms. Virdonia about marking the doors of the ship with her lipstick." And indeed soon afterwards Dramsheet confronted the swirling Chimeras so forcefully that they all immediately fled back into Rodriguez's box, taking the box with them, as well as Rodriguez's left arm. For the remaining week of the cruise Dramsheet could only complain about the absence of The Captive Mind from the ship's library.
would be more cases;
there was the time that Dramsheet visited
there was the
murder at the finest hotel in
of these cases
was as strange as death of M. Savoir, on board a cruise ship crossing
And so she
but a proxy stood in at the marriage ceremony; Giles received a
stating that he was married and immediately went on to the V-D, booked
later, the V-D
was a day's journey out of
"You are looking for a copy of 'The Captive Mind'?"
"Yes, but this illiterate steward had never heard of him. Why do you ask? You don't have a copy, do you?"
"Alas no. My somewhat incompetent secretary forgot to pack it. Most annoying. But I do happen to both of Milosz's novels, three volumes of his verse, several books of his essays, and his History of Polish Literature. Would you like to borrow it?"
For the first time in years, Dramsheet was pleasantly surprised: "Oh, may I?" He quickly found out that the man was named M. Savoir, and that he was a man of considerable means who carried along a large variety of literature by Catholic writers wherever he went. Dramsheet also found out that they both shared the same section of the ship, section A-6, that indeed they lived opposite each other. Section A-6 had nine other inhabitants; the steward, Robert, who lived at the far end of the hall, a cranky young librarian named Cornelius Caustrolius, a distant legal acquaintance of Dramsheet, Sir Anthony Advocate, a businessman and his wife, Gerald and Lucetta Sampson, a secretary, Anne Wilcox, who won the cruise as a prize from her local radio station, a priest, Father Petrax, a playboy named Harry Camper, and Savoir's secretary, Thomas Bridgeman. Section A-6 also had a cleaning closet, and a special kitchen for the steward's private use. Because of a company mixup the doors to the rooms did not lock automatically but had to be locked manually from the inside and the outside. Section A-6 was separated from the rest of the ship by two sets of fire doors, which could be locked in the case of an emergency.
Dramsheet went with Savoir to pick up The History of Polish Literature and Giles followed them. After Savoir gave Dramsheet the book and then locked himself inside his room, Giles introduced himself.
"Yes, I know who you are. I received a copy of your marriage certificate four days ago."
"You're the family lawyer, aren't you."
"No. I am the lawyer for Natasha Wilentz, and her father Ignatius Wilentz, but they are two separate clients and I keep their affairs clearly demarcated in my mind."
"Well you're her lawyer, and then you must be mine."
"No. I am only Ms. Wilentz's lawyer. If you want a lawyer you must get one yourself."
"Umm--could we have a talk somewhere?"
"No. I have better things to do." and Dramsheet entered his room and locked the door. Giles immediately knocked on the door and Dramsheet reluctantly opened it.
"Why don't we have a talk up on deck?"
"I can't see why. I've always thought that the sea was very overrated."
"It's very urgent!" and Dramsheet reluctantly agreed.
"What I want to know is when I'm going to see my wife again. I mean I haven't seen her for months, and I have a right to know where she is. Do you have any idea of her whereabouts?"
"Yes. She's in
"I have no idea. She has not bothered to tell me."
"But there must be someone who knows where she is. How does she communicate to the rest of the world?"
"She communicates to the rest of the world through me. I am in complete charge of her legal affairs."
"But you said you didn't know where she lives."
correct. However, she has given me an address in
"Ah. And what is that address?"
"I am sorry, but Ms. Wilentz gave me explicit instructions not to tell anyone."
"But I'm her husband!"
"If she wanted you to know where she was she would have undoubtedly told you, or given me instructions to tell you."
"Does anyone else knows where she lives?"
"No-one whatsoever as far as I know. I am her only connection to her Canadian friends and relations."
"Can't I send her some sort of message?"
"Of course you can."
"You can? Alright, good, could you please write to her and tell her that her husband loves her very much and wishes that she would come back to him as quickly as possible?"
"I am Ms. Wilentz's lawyer. I am not your stenographer. If you wish to communicate with her, you will write the letters yourself, and then give them to me to mail."
So Giles went back to his room. As he had considerably different plans for his honeymoon he had hardly any money, no writing paper, and not even a change of clothes, though he did have six bottles of bubble-bath formula. Although he could get food from the buffet on credit, which he could only hope his father and his father-in-law would pay, it was impossible for him to get anything from the gift shop without cash. It took four hours before he could scavenge, bribe and wheedle his way and get enough paper to write a letter. There, with a pen he temporarily pick-pocketed from a steward, he wrote the most passionate and erotic letter he had ever written, or even read, filling the paper with what he had planned to fill his first five celibate days of marriage. Then he appeared before Dramsheet, still reading The History of Polish Literature on the deck.
"Good. Read it to me."
"Did you not hear me the first time? I said read it to me."
"What on earth for? This is a private intimate letter between man and wife."
"I shall be the judge of that."
"That's completely absurd. This is none of your business."
"You could be sending a blackmail note through the mails. Were I to send it along I would be an accessory to the crime. Your wife has given me complete powers to review any mail before it is sent to her."
"What makes you think I'd blackmail my wife?"
"I do not know if you would blackmail your wife. I barely know you. To be on the safe side you will read me the letter. In a loud, clear, resolute, voice. Is that perfectly clear?"
Giles alternately blushed and turned extraordinarily pale, as he read aloud the most beautiful love letter he would ever write. As he came to the obscenities he tried spelling them out, but Dramsheet interrupted and demanded to know why he was using letters that had no logical separate existence in proper English. When he came to the most passionate parts Giles' face was blood red and he spoke in the silliest, squeakiest, most high-pitched voice he could manage. When he finished he gave the letter to Dramsheet.
"So are you going to send it to her?"
"No. I am going to tear it to pieces." and Dramsheet promptly did so.
"That's a private letter to my wife. You can't just destroy it." as Dramsheet tossed the scraps of paper into the sea. "She didn't give you instructions to do that surely."
"No, she did not. But it would be a violation of my principles to have anything to do with such filth. Besides several Swiss cantons strictly prohibit the sending of pornography through the mails. It would really be in your best interests if you sent a more dignified letter."
"Umm, do you have some more writing paper?"
"No, I have none whatsoever. I am on holiday after all, and you should be lucky that I am carrying envelopes. Good day."
It would take Giles Seinkewicz another two days to rustle up the paper to write a proper letter, and another whole day to restrain himself from writing anything that Dramsheet would object to. Finally, he succeeded, by copying down the sentiments of the greeting cards in the gift shop, and he gave the letter to Dramsheet, who promptly mailed it. Yet Giles never received an answer, and because he had been so busy for the past three days he had no idea of how much of a stir M. Savoir had caused among the passengers of Section A-6 of the Voegelin Amore Dolfuss.
Savoir had brought aboard a small library of Catholic works aboard the ship and he spent much of the day dictating notes in Latin on The City of God to his long-suffering Secretary. He was immediately called "a weird bird" by Mrs. Sampson (a rather flighty women who had to be calmed down with prescribed doses of morphine) for his peculiar actions when she and her husband invited him to dinner one evening. First, he announced that he had been fasting for the past five weeks, so he would not eat anything. Second, when Mrs. Sampson asked him Wasn't that Cravat Very Tight, Savoir replied yes it was, it was a penance for his sins. Third, when Mr. Sampson talked about some particularly clever financial move he had made, M. Savoir did not only not join in the general Schadenfreude, but immediately pointed out that Sampson's actions were illegal and then talked for the next ten minutes about camels, needles, and the prospect of damnation. Fourth, during a rather dull moment in the dinner when Sir Anthony Advocate had briefly stopped over and was talking about Canadian constitutional change and showed everyone a great big Indian saber with an enormous ruby encrusted in the handle, Savoir started to gouge his left palm with the steak knife.
"My God! Isn't that painful?!" shrieked Mrs. Sampson.
"It is merely a reminder of the pain that our Lord suffered on the cross. There is of course pain, but one understands it, then transcends it.
Such stigmata I find very useful."
Having thoroughly convinced the Sampsons and Advocate that he was a strange and dangerous man, M. Savoir promptly went about the task of alienating his secretary. It did not take anyone very long to find that Thomas Bridgeman was infatuated with Ms. Wilcox, whose slim and small breasted figure in a discreet bathing suit charmed everyone, except for M. Savoir (because he did not pay attention), and Dramsheet (because the light that reflected off her suntanned body got in the way of his reading.) But when Thomas asked his employer for the evening off so that he could visit Wilcox, M. Savoir promptly refused and instead sequestered him for five hours that night so that he could dictate translations of Job from the Latin Vulgate back into Hebrew. The few times that Thomas was not occupied with finding a books for M. Savoir, transcribing dictation, writing M. Savoir's notes into a special secret code, and carrying on M. Savoir's correspondence with every corner of the Catholic world, he could be seen trying to catch a few minutes with Wilcox, interrupted by his gloomy stoical sighs.
It did not take too long for M. Savoir to annoy the rest of the passengers in Section A-6, with two exceptions. Caustrolius, a rather shallow atheist tried to debate M. Savoir and was refuted with disconcerting ease. He tried to engage M. Savoir again in conversation, and failed ignomiously every time. A more disconcerting event was when Robert the steward was summoned to M. Savoir's cabinet one day. The two fell to chatting, and M. Savoir was pleased to find that Robert was both Catholic and married. But when Robert briefly mentioned that he had a brief fling M. Savoir's temperament changed abruptly.
"Really? Does your wife know about this?"
"No, of course not. I couldn't tell my wife."
"Well, then I shall simply have to take the trouble of penning an anonymous note and sending it to her."
"What? You can't do that!"
"I certainly shall. You have broken one of Lord's ten commandments. In the view of many of our most honored saints this is a capital crime. You should be executed, it is merely the indulgences of our decadent society that allows you to live. You should be praising God that you have been allowed to stay on this earth longer than you deserve."
"But it would destroy my marriage."
"Marriages are created by God, they cannot be dissolved by any force.
You have already shown your utter contempt for your wife by your sin. If my revelation should make your marriage uncomfortable, or indeed impossible, it is your fault, not mine, and I show not the slightest sympathy for you."
Robert was speechless. M. Savoir then spoke up: "I will, of course, accept money."
"How much? A thousand dollars?"
"Not nearly enough."
"Eight thousand dollars. That's all I can give. Any more and my whole family would be destitute. It would hurt my wife more than anything I've ever done."
"Then your wife is a whore and a fool. You have violated the laws of God and heaven and only be divesting yourself of all your goods to me, which I shall distribute as I consider most appropriate to the various Catholic charities, can you show any sign of sincerity. For every sin we commit, no matter how small and petty, (and your sin is not small or petty) is punished with the same sentence; death. For every sin we must be prepared to lay down our lives; nothing less will satisfy God. I shall leave you to consider the consequences of your actions."
After this little episode it was only a grace note to add that M. Savoir encountered Harry Camper and said to him that as an objective fact playboys like Camper were destined to spend the rest of eternity in agony in hell. Giles Seinkewicz saw the tailend of this exchange and thought it was grossly unfair. It was from Camper that Giles finally managed to get some writing paper for his second letter several hours earlier. Camper had just opened his door with a strange looking key. "What is that?" asked Giles.
"It's a skeleton key. I got it a few years ago because I kept losing my real keys."
"Ooooo. So it can open any doors?" questioned Giles, thinking he could borrow the key to get into Dramsheet's room and find Natasha's address.
"No. It can only open doors that are locked on the same side. Here I'll show you." Camper gave Giles the key, entered his own room and bolted it from the inside. "Now try opening it." Giles attempted to do so, but was completely unsuccessful.
Camper came out again, his room just beside one of the fire doors of Section A-6, when he saw the slightly addlebrained Father Petrax walking down the steps and on the verge of fainting. Camper promptly dashed to his side, guided Petrax safely down the stairs, and brought him to his room. After Petrax was safely asleep Giles commented on how generous Camper had been.
"I owe that man everything. I've known him ever since I was a child and I couldn't bear to see him hurt in anyway."
Father Petrax was in fact one of the two passengers in Section A-6, (the other, of course, being Dramsheet) whom M. Savoir got along with rather well. Dramsheet was walking back to his room one evening and he heard Petrax in M. Savoir's room chatting about various religious matters. "Naturally," said Petrax, "I agree with you about the need for the highest clerical standards. For if a priest in mortal sin were to administer the sacraments would they not be completely corrupted? Though of course, I am not so reactionary as to insist that the sacraments our essential for our salvation, we must yet pray to God to ensure that does not happen: that Jesus is our saviour and our constant advocate cannot be denied. Now obviously something about Jesus was not eternal, for Mary was only the mother of Jesus the man, not the God Jesus, but Jesus could only have had a completely divine nature..." Dramsheet remembered these words and went about his business.
M. Savoir also held the occasional conversation with Dramsheet about religion. "The worst thing about Vatican II was that it has almost completely removed any interest in the concept of pain. Yet it is only the presence of suffering that we can understand our guilt and our desperate need for salvation."
"Sir Anthony says that you are a stigmatist."
"That is correct, and all Christians should be."
"You are aware that flagellants have been condemned as heretics for centuries."
"I am not guilty of their sin. I do not believe that my stigmatas guarantee me salvation. I am within the bounds of the church." M. Savoir then changed the subject. "As a consequence of my correspondence I have received letters about Christian mystics whose existence has only previously been known in the most extensive and exclusive Muslim libraries. Some of them go back as far as the fifth century."
"Wouldn't they be heretics that far back?"
"Perhaps. They propose dramatic theories. One of them, in a special Aramaic code, affirms all the dogmas of the Nicene Creed with one exception."
divine, that he was crucified and resurrected is not questioned.
any of the other dogmas about the prerogatives of the church
there is the suggestion that though Christ died and was resurrected, it
his death that saved sinners, but the deaths of the martyrs, to wit the
the concept. "It is perhaps a literal description with an
partial truth; for had not martyrs died for it, the church could not
example, nor show their devotion as proof of God's existence.
is an insinuation, a premonition of the rather common and vulgar theory
Christianity, and in particular all the pernicious things that the
does not like about Christianity, was an invention of
most obvious suggestions: yet there is a third one. Through
"I have not studied the Apocalypse in great detail."
conceivable that certain crucial details of the New Testament have been
in order to deceive Satan? Could it not be possible that the
existence of Jesus was an invention, to keep the Devil distracted from
Saviour? There are those who argue that while Jesus is true
"Perhaps. Perhaps hat would allow them to freely discuss heresy."
"Heresy--and other sins." And it was there the conversation ended.
The next day around Dramsheet was up on deck while a spiteful Caustrolius was walking to the cafeteria to lunch. He was about to ask Dramsheet what time it was, but as the words left his mouth he walked into Giles coming around the corner. Caustrolius cursed Giles and stomped off to the buffet. It was the day after Dramsheet had mailed Giles' bowdlerized letter, and Dramsheet invited him to sit down in the deck chair beside him. Giles did so, and Dramsheet gave him a letter. It was a notarized statement, with Natasha Wilentz's signature; although the name of the city and the country were smudged, the document's authenticity could not be doubted. Only later would Giles realize the reason why he was given these documents. These notarized statements, always with a Jewish or Muslim notary, and always with the name of the city and the country smudged, prevented Giles from entering a petition to declare Natasha legally dead and therefore start a court-assisted search to look for her. Dramsheet then gave Giles a slip of paper with the telephone and fax numbers of the Ottawa Citizen.
"I thought that it might be conceivable, if somewhat unlikely, that you might try to round up some toughs to force information from me. It would be useless, of course, as I know nothing more about your wife than what I have already told you. However, just in case, here is the number of the Citizen to which I would reveal how the son of John Seinkewicz tried to intimidate me."
"Ah. I wouldn't do anything like that." Giles had in fact a completely different plan. He had borrowed Camper's skeleton key and managed to smuggle in an attractive scantily clad blonde to seduce Dramsheet. Dramsheet later returned to his room and when he saw the large bulge under the bedclothes he got Robert to attack it with a carpet beater.
of the afternoon
passed by uneventfully, and Dramsheet and Advocate were invited to
with the Sampsons. It was around ,
and Mrs. Sampson was unusually ebullient as Advocate droned on about
Indian saber with the ruby encrusted in the handle. All the
Section A-6 were there, except Robert, who had come down with a slight
Ms. Wilcox, who briefly left the dining room to retrieve a novel, and
Savoir. At about 7:30 Sir Anthony Advocate took Mr. Sampson and
to see the very sharp saber, but Mr. Sampson was abruptly interrupted
by a call
and asked to come back to see it later. Advocate and Dramsheet
to the dining room and Dramsheet talked with Seinkewicz until , when he returned to his
listened to Radio
"Are you well, sir?" asked Bridgeman.
"I'll be fine, thank you." M. Savoir closed the door, and Dramsheet went to sleep.
It was only at one-thirty in the morning that it became clear that something very wrong had happened. Harry Camper, after a night of dancing in the ballroom upstairs, tried to go back to his room only to find that the fire doors separating Section A-6 from the rest of the ship had been locked from the inside. After running around the ship for several minutes to get to the other side of Section A-6 where Robert rested he found that those fire doors were locked as well. He managed to get one of the security guards to force the doors open, and wake Robert up. Robert claimed that he had been talking to Caustrolius "until about ten or so." Because Robert had come down with a slight fever Caustrolius generously offered to use Robert's keys to perform the last of the days' duties. He was supposed to slip the keys, which included a passkey to all the rooms, under the door when he was finished, but that had not happened. Nor was Caustrolius in his room. It was only at around two that he was found, bound and gagged, somewhat drugged, in the cleaning closet, with a syringe with traces of morphine stuffed down his back. Caustrolius claimed that at ("How did you know the time?" asked Dramsheet. "I looked at my watch." replied Caustrolius), he was carrying Robert's keys, when he suddenly felt a prick on his neck, and woke up a couple of hours later in the cleaning closet. The remains of the keys were found in a baking pan in the oven in Robert's special kitchen, in a solution of acids. A computation of the chemical reaction and a check from the power sources revealed that the keys to the fire doors and the cleaning closet must have been destroyed before .
Dramsheet knew none of this when he woke up the next morning and left his room at seven-thirty. There he saw Thomas Bridgeman trying to wake M. Savoir up. "That's very odd; he never sleeps for more than six hours a night." Bridgeman summoned Robert, much improved by a good night's sleep, who found that the door was locked on the outside. "He must be somewhere else, sir."
"I can't believe that. He would have given specific instructions."
"Perhaps you should use your passkey to open the door." suggested Dramsheet, not knowing it had been destroyed the night before. The door was locked on the outside, and Robert had to crash through it.
They were shocked. M. Savoir was still in bed, his arms over the sheets. On his hands were gouged stigmata, while the veins in his arms had been opened all the way to his shoulders. Blood covered all the sheets, and at the food of the bed was Sir Anthony Advocate's prize-winning Indian saber. Robert immediately fainted and Dramsheet and Bridgeman raised the alarm.
There was unfortunately no clumsy inspector to mishandle the case, but there was an alarmed and frightened cruise company official who knew Dramsheet vaguely and was all too willing to put the entire conduct of the case in his hands. With Seinkewicz's help he interviewed all the passengers and learned the following facts.
1. According to the testimony of Mrs. Sampson she had taken some of her prescribed morphine before dinner, and had left it on her vanity. When she came back afterwards it was missing.
2. It was found that the lock of her door and that of Advocate's room had been jammed with paper, making it easy to open the doors. The paper was found to be from M. Savoir's note pad.
3. Wilcox claimed she saw M. Savoir in Mrs. Sampson's room at around . Since she did not know either very well she did not realize anything strange about it.
4. At Sir Anthony Advocate showed his Indian saber to Dramsheet and Mr. Sampson. The latter two left the room, and shortly afterwards Advocate left as well. He returned at and did not leave until morning, when he learned about M. Savoir's death and found that the Saber was missing.
5. Father Petrax said that at he saw M. Savoir lurking around Advocate's room and a few minutes later saw him carrying into his room a long object "two thirds of a meter" wrapped in newspaper.
6. Dramsheet confirmed that Caustrolius had been attacked at around , that he had definitely been injected with enough morphine to render him unconscious, that it was definitely someone else who tied him up, and that the keys had definitely been destroyed before .
7. The autopsy by the ship's doctor confirmed that M. Savoir had bled to death, and that he had died sometime between eleven and a .
8. At Thomas Bridgeman and Mrs. Sampson were the last persons to see M. Savoir alive. After he said good night they said they heard him lock the door behind him. The key to his room was found in the breast pocket of his vest.
9. Harry Camper had half a dozen witnesses who could claim that he never left the ballroom all night, except for two periods. First, he briefly returned to his room for about ten minutes at around , and second, he went to the bathroom at around . That period lasted for only two minutes. Except for he and Caustrolius, all the other passengers in Section A-6 claimed to have been in bed after .
"Very interesting." said Dramsheet.
"Caustrolius has an absolutely solid alibi." said Giles. "And Harry Camper is almost as solid. To have killed M. Savoir, for which he had no real motive, he would have had to, in less than two minutes, unlock the fire door locked on the other side with his skeleton, which he can't do with his skeleton key, do the same thing with M. Savoir's room, stab M. Savoir to death, lock the outside door with his skeleton, relock the fire door that he came through, and somehow get through that door he had just locked. It's not possible, and to make things even worse, Camper had no opportunity whatsoever to get the morphine, or to knock out Caustrolius."
The company owner chirped in. "All the evidence points to suicide, except for one little problem. It was M. Savoir who took the morphine, M. Savoir who took the saber. M. Savoir must have knocked out Caustrolius, tied him up, and locked off Section A-6 from the rest of the ship. Then he went to his own room, locked the door, and then slashed himself to pieces. But if he did that, how could have locked the door from the outside afterwards, especially when the only key that could have done it was in his breast pocket?"
"Yes." agreed Giles. "This could either be a murder that is designed to look like a suicide, or a suicide designed to look like a murder. He must have attacked Caustrolius to cut off Section A-6 from the rest of the ship. But if he managed to find some way of reversing the lock he might have wanted to insinuate that one of the passengers in Section A-6 had killed him."
Dramsheet spoke up. "The outside lock on M. Savoir's room is both accuser and defender. An examination reveals that no abnormal marks were found in the groove which would have existed if someone had tried to lock it with a bobby pin. Only a key could have locked the door, and of the three keys that could have done that one was inside the room, one was being dissolved in an acid bath several rooms down, and one was outside Section A-6 in Camper's possession. The passengers who were sleeping in Section A-6 could not have locked the door, yet the door could have been locked by someone who was not M. Savoir. Of course the door being locked on the inside before M. Savoir's death would make it impossible for anyone to enter."
The company chief was quite befuddled. "If it was one of the passengers, which one would it have been? Robert could have taken the morphine, but the way that Caustrolius described leaving Robert's room almost rules that out. Caustrolius claims that he heard Robert lock the door behind him, that he was walking down the corridor, just passing M. Savoir's room, just looking at his watch, when he felt the jab at his neck. I don't think Robert could have sneaked up on him like that. I mean Robert has the strongest motive, what with M. Savoir trying to blackmail him..."
Dramsheet interrupted to make a clarification. "He was not blackmailing him. He was using coercion to force a penance. There is a difference."
"But he voluntarily told us this rather incriminating motive under interrogation. And from what you tell me, his fainting on discovering the body was completely genuine."
"Oh it was." affirmed Dramsheet.
"But why would a moralist like Savoir kill himself in the first place?"
"It would be dishonest of me to withhold from the two of you a certain conversation that M. Savoir had with me. He suggested that there might be a secret league within the Catholic Church knowing the true secrets of the world, while proclaiming a different version in an attempt to deceive Satan. It is possible that he considered himself a member of this league and therefore free from certain rules of the church--such as the prohibition against suicide."
"Or he could just have been crazy." added Giles.
Thomas Bridgeman was summoned and he gave them several boxes full of M. Savoir's correspondence. Most of it was not in English and it was Dramsheet's task to read it, and so he did for three hours until...
"No." he said, and placed a letter down. "This is yet another of these mystical red herrings that I encounter in all the strange deaths that I have investigated. Giles, would you tactfully summon the passengers of Section A-6 to the company chief's drawing room. I have some intriguing ideas."
Dramsheet, Giles, the company chief, Robert and the eight passengers all came into the room. Dramsheet spoke. "The Suicide of M. Savoir is one of the most puzzling cases I have ever encountered. We have in M. Savoir, a man of many sides, but of apparently no center. He is blackmailer, moralist, scholar, fanatic, literatur, objective observer and suicide. We have a case which is literally impossible. A door that was locked on the inside is found out to have been locked on the outside, and there is no key which could have done the task. An annoying problem. I must admit that the first solution that came to my mind was that Bridgeman had murdered his employer..."
"What?!" said an understandably surprised Thomas.
"Calm yourself, Mr. Bridgeman. You are not the person who attacked M. Savoir, I have not the slightest doubt of that fact. My suspicions was based on the fact that M. Savoir could have unlocked the door to let you in.
Once inside you killed him and you used a skeleton to lock the door behind you. You then threw the key out your porthole window. But I rejected that theory fairly quickly. It is simply not plausible for a man to murder his employer only for vague affections for a woman he barely knows. There would be no reason to lock all the doors, or get Mrs. Sampson to arrange an alibi.
No, after learning all the facts I quickly realized that there were only two possible explanations.
"The first is simple and it is independently supported by the testimony of all the passengers. M. Savoir, for reasons which cannot be comprehended, decided to commit suicide. He has learned from Sir Anthony Advocate's constant boasting that there is a beautifully sharp Indian saber in his room. He also learns that Robert is somewhat ill, and that Mrs. Sampson takes morphine. A plan comes into his mind. In the beginning of the evening he steals a hypodermic and some morphine from Mrs. Sampson's room, as seen by Ms. Wilcox. Later on, he takes the saber from Advocate's room, as seen by Father Petrax. M. Savoir has a reasonably firm knowledge of chemistry and forensics and knows a way of destroying the keys in such a way that the time can be dated. When it is clear that of all the passengers in Section A-6 only Camper is not in his room, he decides to strike. Robert usually does the rounds before , Savoir knows this, but when he overhears Robert delegating his duties to Caustrolius he know whom to attack. Just as Caustrolius passes his bedroom door, M. Savoir strikes, takes the keys, and locks Caustrolius in the cleaning closet. He locks the fire doors, and destroys the keys. Later he summons Bridgeman when there is another witness at hand, who, in this case, happens to be Mrs. Sampson. In their presence he locks his door on the inside.
"Why has he done this? He locked the fire doors so that any suspicion would fall on the passengers of Section A-6, those people whom he has specially alienated. Moreover, the people most connected to the crime, Sir Anthony and Mrs. Sampson, have the least reason to kill him, or even to hurt him. The person most obviously critical of him, Caustrolius, will have a perfect alibi. No-one will be falsely accused of his murder, but they will all fall under suspicion, which is what he wants. After the ship is quiet, M. Savoir unlocks the door. Why is not clear, perhaps he wanted to check to see if Caustrolius was still breathing. But it is not important, Mrs. Sampson and Bridgeman will testify that he locked the door on the inside, so he thinks that if the door is left open investigators will think that someone forced his way in, and killed him. He has made a fatal confusion about the locks; the only way that a door can be unlocked from the other side of a door is by the passkey he has just destroyed. He is confused about this, so when he leaves the door open with the lock unharmed, and then slashes his wrists, he has forgotten the only way the door could have been opened was by himself."
"But how was the door locked again from the outside?" asked a most confused Company chief.
"The answer is simple, a mild complication. After the fire doors had been reopened, the difference in air pressure nudged the door of M.Savoir's cabin open. One can imagine a watchman coming through Section A-6 at around three in the morning and finding M. Savoir dead in his bed. He could summon the authorities, but bureaucratic cowardice comes to him first, and when he hears someone coming he takes his passkey and locks the door to M. Savoir's room so that no-one will connect him with the corpse!"
"That's brilliant!" said Giles.
"Yes it is. Unfortunately, that is not what took place."
"During my investigation two intriguing errors took place. But first, there is a conversation I overhead that I should tell you all about."
and he told him about what Father Petrax said to M. Savoir.
"A bit unorthodox?" queried Giles.
"Very. For in
that single paragraph Father Petrax committed no less than five
When he says that sacraments can be corrupted by priests in moral sin
guilty of the Donastic heresy, revived by the Hussites and the
When he says that the sacraments are not necessary he is guilty of the
Waldnesian heresy. When he states that Jesus is not eternal, that
was not the mother of Jesus the God, and that Jesus had only a divine
he is guilty of the Arian, Nestorian, and Monophysite heresies.
conversations with M. Savoir he was no doubt guilty of further
heresies, and M.
Savoir would have notified
"You accuse me?" asked Camper.
"You have a motive stronger than M. Savoir's simple insult. But it is the two errors that raised my suspicions. When I asked Mr. Caustrolius how he knew what time he was attacked he said he was just looking at his watch. And Mrs. Sampson claimed she realized that her morphine was missing, because she had just taken a dose before going out to dinner and left it on the vanity. But Mrs. Sampson had been the very opposite of a person who had just been taken a sedative when I saw her at dinner that night. And when I saw Caustrolius at around that same day, he asked me what time it was. So Mrs. Sampson did not take a dose of morphine, and Caustrolius was not wearing a watch. Why did they therefore claim that they had? It must have been because they felt they had to say it.
"And why would this be so? Why would Caustrolius, who could not possibly have harmed M. Savoir in any way tell a simple lie about his owning a watch. It could only because his actions were not innocent and that he had to add that detail out of insecurity. But that, along with Mrs. Sampson's similar white lie, would imply that he knew beforehand that he was going to be attacked. This is a crucial point; if Caustrolius had to go out of his way to give the time of the `attack' on him, and Mrs. Sampson had to go out of her way to notice that the morphine had been stolen at a period when it would look most badly on M. Savoir, it could only be because they wanted to blame M. Savoir for an attack which Caustrolius knew was going to take place.
"Who is implicated by this, if M. Savoir did not take the morphine? Obviously Ms. Wilcox, who lied when she said she saw M. Savoir take the morphine. Possibly Mr. Sampson, since I do not believe Mrs. Sampson would tell such a lie on her own. Probably Robert, since his giving the keys for Caustrolius to lose could hardly be innocent. Probably Bridgeman, who could have been the only person to give the conspiracy M. Savoir's notepaper to jam the locks of Mrs. Sampson's door. What we see is a League devoted against M. Savoir. But one might ask if Robert went to all this trouble to get the morphine, to drug Caustrolius with his consent, and to destroy the keys and lock the doors, for what purpose could this possibly be? And then I realized the crucial importance of the locked doors and the destroyed keys. It was in order to give an alibi to Harry Camper."
Who promptly snorted contemptuously. "And why would half a dozen strangers want to provide me an alibi for a crime I could not have possibly committed?"
"Because you, Harry Camper, are the man who murdered M. Savoir."
"Really? And the other half a dozen people who claimed I was only gone from the ballroom for two minutes were somehow wrong? Or did I somehow manage to get through two locked doors by simply teleporting into M. Savoir's room?"
"Of course not, you did no such thing. I was inclined to suspect you after Bridgeman for a number of reasons. First, M. Savoir's impending denunciation of your friend Father Petrax gave you an incredibly powerful motive. Second, you were absent from the ballroom at around the time that the Saber must have been stolen, and it was Father Petrax, befuddled and confused Father Petrax, who claimed that M. Savoir stole the saber. Third, you had a skeleton key that could have locked M. Savoir's room. The problem was that you were on the other side of the locked doors. And then I realized there was a crucial non-sequitur: what evidence had there been that any of the doors had been locked before M. Savoir was dead? None whatsoever; it was an inaccurate conclusion made from the fact that Robert's keys had been destroyed before M. Savoir died. But what happened was this. At eleven-thirty you excuse yourself. You need only two minutes, you take the saber that you have concealed a few hours earlier, and then you go through the open fire doors and you enter the unlocked door of M. Savoir. The only evidence that the door was locked on the inside is from Bridgeman and Mrs. Sampson, both of whom are lying. I overheard their conversation and I did not hear M. Savoir lock the door. I had thought that was because I could not hear while in my own bedroom, but I now realize that I did not hear the sound because none was made. You entered the room and you murdered him. Then you came out and locked the door with your skeleton key. You gave Robert the key to lock the fire doors and he gave it back to you two hours later when you returned. I must say this was all very clever."
"You can't prove any of this."
"It is the only possible solution, and I shall obtain the requisite proofs in short order. If you are innocent the groves and marks made inside M. Savior's lock will not match your skeleton. Your clothes, and your skin will be DNA tested for any signs of M. Savoir's blood, and the saber will be DNA tested to see if you touched it. I have no doubt that all three proofs will be found, and I only need only one to convict you."
Camper was shocked. Then he spoke in a much lower voice. "You're right Dramsheet. I killed him. But it was my decision and no-one else's. All the tricks of the locks were only designed for me to rob him, and when he complained the next morning all the evidence would point back to M. Savoir and everyone would think he was crazy. That was the plan, and you're right, everyone was involved, even Advocate. But I knew that wouldn't stop M. Savoir from denouncing Petrax, and I couldn't let that happen. For God's sake I know Petrax is a senile old fool but he shouldn't be excommunicated for that and I've known him all my life. And Savoir was going to destroy Robert's marriage, and stop Tom and Anne from seeing each other. You don't know Dramsheet, but they love each other, and if it would do any good I would take all the blame myself. The others wouldn't have hurt a fly, they shouldn't be punished."
Dramsheet rose to leave. "That I cannot arrange. You are a murderer. The others have made your progress easier, and they have to lied to me, thereby obstructing justice. They are accessories before and after the fact. If they really did not want to kill M. Savoir they will have to convince a court of that. My only advice to all of you is to get a good lawyer."
Giles was astonished. "So that's how M. Savoir committed suicide!"
* * * * *
And so Louis Dramsheet solved one of the most baffling crimes of his time. But enough about him. Already in this novel we have encountered a magnesia drinking sister, heard vague references to an Adrian Verrall and a big blue ball, met the impossible wife of a Polish emigre professor, and his increasing friend, heard about irritable Vanessa Wilentz, her accountant brother, her best friend and her best friend's boyfriend, as well as rumours of a nice next door neighbor, a strange upstairs neighbor who plants marigolds in her carpet, and two anonymous writers of notes, as well as a Polish-Canadian MP, as well as his son and the French- Canadian doctor who are married to the same beautiful vanished Jewess, and finally an Italian librarian, an alive African Senator, a dead French senator, a Greek lawyer, and an Irish Canadian detective. And we have not even begun to look at Alice Concrete MP, and Thomas Edward Harding MP, vital though both are to this story. Meanwhile the two ostensible heroes of this novel, a guilty mathematics student and an ex-Marxist Polish Professor haven't been heard from at all during this chapter, and won't be heard from in the next one as well. Clearly this is all too much for one novel, so the next chapter will talk about two entirely different people.Next: Rose Attar Gum and Mermaid Soup
previous: The Philhellenon Club