A Case of Conspiracy in Clerkenwell 4 – The End (Chapters 12 – end)




In the end the conspiracy on the part of the communists has nothing to do with Miss Stapleton’s murder.

During the Schusters’ soiree he is not discovers, but he finds out that Mr Peacock is plotting against someone, but he doesn’t know who the other man he is in cahoots with is. The only person who catches Freddie where he shouldn’t be is Mrs Schuster, but she doesn’t seem to think much of it. Freddie finds himself mesmerised by the woman, and whenever he runs into her, he feels shaken, which is something that doesn’t happen to him as rule.

Freddie also discovers the book that was used for the messages in the Radical, and buys a volume. He manages to decode most of the messages, except the last ones. It is later that Freddie realises that for the last messages the conspirators must be using the Radical, and he is right.

In the meantime, some other events take place. During the soiree Freddie discovered that Ruth and Trevett were more than friends, and when St John hears about it, he and Trevett have a run-in in the hall. Ruth is also there, and she claims that she gets bored with St John and Trevett makes her feel his equal. Then St John and Trevett come to blows, and when Freddie tries to separate them, he gets a blow and a black eye. When the men are finally pulled apart, Trevett rushes out of the place, followed by Ruth, and it is Mildred who sees to St John. She is really nice to him, encouraging and comforting him.

Freddie hears Mr Peacock make an arrangement to meet someone on Thursday, so Jameson asks him to follow him. He does so, and he sees him meet someone and buy a gun from him. Freddie realises that the matter is more serious than he thought. It is late and when he gets home, he tries to call Jameson, nobody answers. He will have to tell him that during the rally, the head of the union is going to be killed. Then someone knocks at the door. It is Mrs Schuster, and when she removes her hat, Freddie sees that she has a swollen eye and her face is all bruised. The woman claims that she has made a mistake, and she admits to having an affair with Peacock, but he has turned out to be violent. Mrs Schuster asks him to help her, and Freddie is putty in her hands.

Then the next thing he knows, he is knocked unconscious, tied, and taken somewhere. Freddie realises that he has been taken for a fool. Apart from Mrs Schuster, who has deceived, there is Peacock and another man, who take them to a poky room and keep him a prisoner. Soon Freddie gets to know about their plans. They want to kill Rowbothan, the head of the labourers’ union during the rally, and Freddie will be the one to shoulder the blame after he is also killed. Freddie is in big trouble.

The day of the rally, Freddie is left alone with Mrs Schuster in a car. The third man turns out to be Mr Bishop, who looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, and he is the brain behind the attack. What is planned is that Rowbothan will be taken to a tent where he will be shot dead. Thankfully, things don’t work out that way. While they are in the car, Miss Flowers walks in front of it, and even though Mrs Schuster tries to hide, Miss Flowers has seen them. Schuster, who keeps pressing a derringer into Freddie’s side, and Freddie leave the car, and they start talking to Miss Flowers. And I was right; Miss Flowers is the one who works for Intelligence, and when she mentions purple mittens and Freddie green mittens and mouths ‘help me’, the woman uses her umbrella to hit Mrs Schuster and disarm her.

Freddie then runs to the park in an attempt to save Rowbothan, who is now given his speech. He has little time, and there are a lot of people, which thwarts his attempts to approach the stage. Then he sees St John and explains the situation, and he offers to help. Then Freddie rushes to the tent and hides from Peacock and Bishop and at the same time he sees what is happening. St John is trying to get to Rowbothan, but then Trevett interferes and steers him towards the tent. Eventually, nothing happens, and the bad guys are caught and Rowbothan is arrested.

This is not the last thing we have to learn. Days later Freddie goes to the Temperance meeting. After the arrests, the Communist Alliance has been disbanded and there are no more meetings. St John is there, and it is obvious that he is sweet on Mildred, and he even tells him that Mildred is the girl he should marry.

Freddie also makes a revelation to Miss Hodges. Nobody stole the money from the takings box. It was Mr Bottle, who Freddie has found out embezzled money from other organisations and committees that he had been part of. He was the man who Freddie saw sneak out of the hall. Freddie also guesses that Miss Hodges didn’t take the bus that night because she had forgotten the takings box and returned to the hall. Miss Hodges admitted as much, and she now tells Freddie that Miss Stapleton saw her and made her usual derisive comment. Miss Hodges grew angry and as she pushed her, Miss Stapleton stuck the paper-knife into her chest. Miss Hodges claims that it was an accident and she was ready to confess, but then Mr Bottle shadowed her, insisting that he was looking out for her, but now as Freddie tells her about the missing money, she realises he was only protecting himself. Miss Hodges concludes that she will confess everything, and Freddie volunteers to accompany her to the police, and he hopes that they will be lenient with her.

Like usual, I love Freddie and the trouble he always gets into. I have to say, though, that I prefer when it is a murder that he ends up solving as the part about conspiracies and politics is not really my cup of tea.



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