Part 5: Pages 59 to 70. Eating Solids.: Welcome back. It's infodump time!
: A cat hair moustache user. Why does an American file specify an American accent but not a British one?
: I don't think we'll be using this, but I'll take a fancier shot anyway.
: Nice. Now for the real infodump.
: Going by the official records Bolitho Blane might as well have been a kangaroo.
: Or course Rocksavage's original business partner died under strange circumstances.
: I don't see a source of income here.
: Mr. Hayashi is exactly who he claims to be. How peculiar.
DETECTIVE OFFICER KETTERING'S FOURTH REPORT.
I have to acknowledge your memo. of to-day's date, together with cabled report from Scotland Yard upon Mr. Blane, the Bishop of Bude, Lady Welter, and Mr. and Mrs. Jocelyn ; also about Mr. Hayashi from the Japanese police; the identification particulars of George ("Slick") Daniels, alias Count Posodini; and the information supplied by you about Mr. and Miss Rocksavage.
Last night I decided that it would be a good thing to have a talk with Nicholas Stodart in order to find out from him as many particulars as possible about Blane's life and affairs. I therefore suggested that he should join me for dinner as all my meals are served separately in the small writing room in which I am conducting my examinations.
He agreed readily enough, but the meal did not prove a particularly happy one as Stodart has a small abscess and, on account of this, is suffering somewhat with his false teeth, which give him pain when eating solids. He is also very distressed by his employer's death which leaves him without a situation, and I gather, very little money. He talked quite freely, however, and the following is such information as I gleaned from his interview.
: This is going to be a long one.
PARTICULARS GATHERED FROM A TALK WITH BLANE'S SECRETARY, NICHOLAS STODART.
Blane was a generous, but difficult, employer. The work which he demanded of his secretary was light but, on the other hand, he liked to have him at his beck and call the whole time, and part of the understanding on Stodart's engagement was that, except in very special circumstances, he would not be allowed any free time off duty.
This suited Stodart as he is quite alone in the world and has ho relatives or friends whom he wished to visit.
His history is as follows: - He is 46 years of age and was born at Felixstowe, Suffolk, England. His mother died at the time of his birth and his father was employed in the Indian Forestry Department. During his early childhood Stodart lived with a maiden aunt, the sole surviving member of his mother's family, to whom she had come home when she was about to have her baby. The aunt was killed in a railway accident, however, when Stodart was eight years of age, and so he was sent to a boarding school in Felixstowe and he never saw his father, except during four periods of leave at intervals of several years, until he was sixteen, when he left school and went out to live with his father in India.
For the next few years he studied accountancy and, having served an apprenticeship with Messrs. Wayne, Robins & Co., of Calcutta, he succeeded in obtaining a position with the Ranaga Rubber Company. His duties with this company entailed visits to numerous rubber plantations owned by the company, where he spent anything from a week to a fortnight inspecting the accounts on the spot twice yearly, and then moved on to another station. His friends, therefore consisted solely of planters that he visited twice yearly, since he was never able to settle down for any lengthy period in one place and create a permanent circle of friends.
He enlisted in 1914, but was not sent home, being drafted as one of the reserves to the India Frontier Force, and thus spent the whole of his war service in northern India. His father died in 1917 and Stodart was disappointed to find that his father left practically nothing. He had always assumed that, as his father could spend very little in his isolated forest station he must be saving a good portion of his salary, but on Stodart's senior's death, it was found that he was an inveterate gambler and had invested all his savings in various companies which held out prospects of enormous dividends from oil, gold, etc., but proved to be worthless concerns. His father's death did not improve Stodart's position, therefore, and he was not able to save very much out of his moderate salary.
He received promotion in his firm from time to time but never rose higher in it than deputy accountant at a salary of £600 a year. Then he suffered a big set back because his firm went under in 1931, owing to world depression, so he found himself out of a job at the age of 41.
He remained in India for a further two years, partly living on his savings and partly by temporary work which he managed to obtain with one or two firms in rush periods.
Early in 1934 he decided that the prospects of earning his living in India were becoming more and more hazardous and so he decided to return to his mother country. There, however, he did not meet with any better fortune as there were few openings for men of his age and scope. Until early this year he managed to support himself by taking various temporary clerical posts, but he had practically exhausted his savings, and was in a pretty bad way, when he noticed an advertisement in a local paper.
The advertiser offered a permanent post with good remuneration to a man free of all responsibilities, who was prepared to travel if necessary, Qualifications demanded were that the applicant should be under fifty, but have had at least twenty years' experience in a secretarial post, or as an executive in a business office. Public school education not essential but must possess decent manners and appearance.
The advertisement appeared in the East Anglian Times and applicants were asked to apply to a Mr. Benwood at the While Horse Hotel, Ipswich. Stodart was staying in the town at the time, so he called and managed to secure a job.
Having taken him on, Benwood explained that his real name was Bolitho Blane but he had not advertised under his real name in order to avoid unnecessary publicity. He took Stodart off the next day to his home at Cobham in Surrey. For the next fortnight Stodart acted as Blane's Secretary but his duties were very light as Blane did nearly all his business over the wire, and never went to London. Stodart, in fact, was never even called on to visit the London officers of Blane's companies, nor did he meet any of Blane's executives as, during this period, none of them came down to see him.
In the latter part of February Blane informed Stodart that they would shortly be leaving for the United States and explained the reason for his decision to make the trip. By that time Stodart, of course, had acquired a certain knowledge of Blane's situation and his financial position, so he was competent to undertake the secretarial work which Blane gave him on the voyage over.
Stodart says himself that it seemed queer Blane should take on a complete stranger for this job of secretary with very little knowledge about him, but he thinks that Blane already had the American trip in mind when he engaged him and was anxious to have somebody with him who was capable of doing the odd jobs in connection with his journey and, at the same time, competent to take accurate notes of his conference with Rocksavage, yet someone completely outside his business, so that there could not possibly be any leakage of information about what occurred at the conference to any of his other employees in his London office.
: The paragraph above is a single sentence.
DETECTIVE OFFICER KETTERING'S FOURTH REPORT, CONTINUED.
This morning, immediately I received the outside information upon various members of the party I proceeded to a new analysis of the situation and composed a fresh draft of possible motives.
POSSIBLE MOTIVES. 10.3.36.
Mrs. Jocelyn. Nil, as far as is known at the moment.
Count Posodini. Nil, as far as is known at the moment, but the Count is now identified as the ex-convict "Slick" Daniels, so I hope to be able to make him talk, as there must be some special reason for Reginald Jocelyn having asked him on board, when he was quite unknown to any other member of the party.
Mr. Rocksavage. Strong motive to do away with Blane, as pointed out in previous analysis. This becoming even stronger on confirmation of the precarious situation of his companies.
The Bishop of Bude. Nil, as far as is known at the moment, but his possession of a letter from Blane mailed from New York on the 5th shows his acquaintance with the murdered man to be far stronger than he would have us believe in his first statement. This letter lays such stress upon the friendship existing between the two that it reads to me much more like a threat by Blane that, whatever might occur in the yacht, the Bishop had better keep his mouth shut. This is supported by the suggestion in the cable from Scotland Yard that there was some unpleasant scandal in which the Bishop was involved in 1917.
Lady Welter. Motive in her case, which was weak in our first analysis, is considerably strengthened by the cable from Scotland Yard, in which it appears that she has been expending a portion of her fortune for numerous years in supporting a non-commercial group of papers. Further, that she lost a considerable portion of her capital in the Hatry crash, and is now principally dependent upon her holdings in the Rocksavage companies.
Mr. Hayashi. Nil, as far as is known at the moment, but the fact that he wrote to Blane, asking for an appointment, brings him much more strongly under suspicion. If it can be proved that he visited Blane's cabin between 7.45 and 8.15, when he appeared in the lounge, it will look very much as though he is our man.
Mr. Jocelyn. As dependent of Lady Welter his motive is considerably strengthened by the facts about her financial situation which have now emerged. From the report of his activities previous to his marriage with Lady Welter's daughter it is obvious that he is something of an adventurer and, since he was frequently writted, probably unscrupulous where money is concerned. Moreover, he is responsible for having introduced in to the party a known criminal, "Slick" Daniels, alias Count Posodini.
Miss Rocksavage. Nil, as far as is known at the moment.
I then proceeded to re-examine the whole party.
: Yes, he did. Next time we'll have a lovely chat with the Count and one or two Jocelyns.