“On my arrival at my Whitechapel premises, I affixed a notice to the window informing the nobility and gentry that I was ’absent on business.’ Then I clothed myself decently, emptied the contents of the safe into a hand-bag, in which I also put the cooper’s chisel, locked up the premises and hurried off to Aldgate Station. My first objective was the establishment of Mr. Hammerstein, the dealer in osteology, from whom I purchased three articulated human skeletons, and obtained the invaluable receipted invoices; and having thus taken every precaution that prudence and human foresight could suggest, I repaired to my Bloomsbury house, let myself in at the museum door, rolled the casks through into the laboratory and proceeded to unpack the specimens.
“The initial processes occupied me far into the night, while as to the finishing operations, they kept me busy for over a month; during which time I shaved and cut hair throughout the day up to nine o’clock at night, reserving the laboratory work for a relaxation after the prosaic labors of the day.
“Looked at broadly, the episode was highly satisfactory and successful—excepting in one vital respect. None of the three specimens had ringed hair. The completed preparations were, after all, but the by-products of my industry. The wretch whom I sought was still at large and unidentified. My collection still lacked its crowning ornament.”
THE TRAIL OF THE SERPENT
Hitherto, in my transcriptions from Humphrey Challoner’s “Museum Archives” I have taken the entries in their order, omitting only such technical details as might seem unsuitable for the lay reader. Now, however, I pass over a number of entries. The capture of Numbers 7, 8 and 9 exhibits the methods to which Challoner, in the main, adhered during his long residence in East London; and, though there were occasional variations, the accounts of the captures present a general similarity which might render their recital tedious. The last entry but one, on the other hand, is among the most curious and interesting. Apart from the stirring incidents that it records, the new light that it throws on a hitherto unsolved mystery makes it worth extracting entire, which I now proceed to do, with the necessary omissions alluded to above.
“Circumstances connected with the acquirement of Numbers 23 and 24 in the Anthropological Series.
“The sand of my life ran out with varying speed—as it seemed to me—in the little barber’s shop in Saul Street, Whitechapel. Now would my pulses beat and the current of my blood run swift. Those were the times when I had visitors; and presently a new skeleton or two would make their appearance in the long wall-case. But there were long intervals of sordid labor and dull inaction when I would cut hair—and examine it through my lens—day after day and wonder whether, in electing to live,