The Unusual Suspects – Episode 6

© Andrew Joyner 2001
© Andrew Joyner 2001


“Cannot Lt Kelso simply go to the newspaper himself and recount what he saw at the meeting?” I asked. Trumper explained why he could not. Two nights earlier, just after he had delivered Trumper the document, Kelso had been smote unconscious while waiting for a ferry at the Quay. Clearly the plotters were ubiquitous and ruthless. Kelso was in Sydney Hospital and had yet to regain his faculties. Stella wailed that Federation was doomed and it was all her fault. But I saw a light. “Who knew you were thinking of purloining this letter from Victor?” I asked. “Only my fellow suffragettes from the Quong Tart Club,” declared Stella.

“Then obviously one of them must provide the link to the plotters,” said I. “They knew you were to get the letter from Victor, so they took the letter from you.” Trumper then recalled Kelso telling him that the plotters had spies in all political parties, union movements and “crackpot sheilas’ causes”. This last remark drew a scowl from Stella. I attempted to smooth the waters. “I am afraid, Stella, the suffragettes have been penetrated.” Her face became animated: “Of course! It must be Henrietta!” She explained that “Henrietta”, a recent recruit to the cause, always appeared in a dark veil, claiming embarrassment at her bad acne. “But now I think about it, this Henrietta spoke with quite a masculine voice, very educated – perhaps Oxford or Cambridge, but tainted by an accent. New Zealand? Boer? German? I couldn’t say for sure. I think Henrietta must be the person in the hood who chaired the plotters’ meeting.”

I asked if there was anything about Henrietta that could identify him or her. “Only that she, or he, had the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever seen, and had a remarkably high giggle.” It was better than nothing. “Clearly Henrietta is one of your five fellow passengers or has some links to them,” I declared. “We must get all the suspects together in the one room and see if we cannot solve this puzzle!” The GPO clock boomed midnight. Christmas was upon us, and Federation was just a week away – but only if we could stop the plot against it.