“The usual disappointment awaited me when I came to examine the hair and finger-prints. He was not the man whom I sought. But he made an acceptable addition to the Series of Criminal Anthropology in my museum, for I duly collected the bones from the great nettle-bed in the chalk-pit early in the following September, and set them, properly bleached and riveted together, in the large wall-case. But this specimen had a further, though indirect, value. From him I gathered a useful hint by which I was subsequently guided into a new and fruitful field of research.
“(See Catalogue, Numbers 6A and 6B.)”
BY-PRODUCTS OF INDUSTRY
The next entry in the amazing “Museum Archives” exhibited my poor friend Humphrey Challoner in circumstances that were to me perfectly incredible. When I recall that learned, cultivated man as I knew him, I find it impossible to picture him living amidst the indescribably squalid surroundings of the London Ghetto, the tenant of a sordid little shop in an East End by-street. Yet this appears actually to have been his condition at one time—but let me quote the entry in his own words, which need no comments of mine to heighten their strangeness.
“Events connected with the acquirement of Numbers 7, 8 and 9 in the Anthropological Series:
“We are the creatures of circumstance. Blind chance, which guided that unknown wretch to my house in the dead of the night and which led my dear wife to her death at his murderous hands, also impelled that other villain (Number 6, Anthropological Series) to pursue me to the lonely chalk-pit, where he would have done me to death had I not fortunately anticipated his intentions. So, too, it was by a mere chance that I presently found myself the proprietor of a shop in a Whitechapel back-street.
“Let me trace the connections of events.
“The first link in the chain was a visit that I had paid in my younger days to Moscow and Warsaw, where I had stayed long enough to acquire a useful knowledge of Russian and Yiddish. The second link was the failure of my plan to lure the murderer of my wife—and, incidentally, other criminals—to my house. The trap had been scented not only by the criminals but also by the police, of whom one had visited my museum with very evident suspicion as to the nature of my specimens.
“After the visit of the detective, I was rather at a loose end. That unknown wretch was still at large. He had to be found and I had to find him since the police could not. But how? That detective had completely upset my plans and, for a time, I could think of no other. Then came the dirty rascal who had tried to murder me in the chalk-pit; and from his mongrel jargon, half cockney, half foreign, I had gathered a vague hint. If I could not entice the criminal population into my domain, how would it be to reconnoiter theirs? The alien area of London was well known to me, for it had always seemed interesting since my visit to Warsaw, and, judging from the police reports, it appeared to be a veritable happy hunting-ground for the connoisseur in criminals.