Sherlock's Solution to November's Mystery
The following is a transcript of a letter mailed to you regarding November’s mystery. We hope you enjoyed this month’s mystery
July 27, 1890
Dear Miss Levingworth,
By the time you receive this letter, I suspect the full explanation of the Hartfield Manor burglary and the death of the boy, may be revealed to you. In the event that this is not so, let me put the final pieces of this puzzle in place.
Let me compliment you on your analyses and investigative skills. Whether it is that famed women’s intuition, or your formidable deductive ability, you have gathered all the pieces needed (as you said in your last letter) except to explain the “what’s and why’s” of this mystery.
In your first letter, dated July 13, you mentioned that the Fitzwallers employed you fourteen years ago. The importance of this seemingly mundane fact was not fully apparent until your last letter. For this mystery began fourteen years ago.
At the start, the theft had all the markings of a typical burglary. However, there was nothing typical about it. Take, for example, how the thief entered. Beeker was confident the windows and doors were secure before he retired. You found no markings on the window in the study. The most logical explanation is that someone opened the window for the thief — someone inside the house. So, here we have the “how,” but not the “why” or “who.” I will come to that in a moment.
Your instinct, albeit biased, was that Gypsies had perpetrated the theft and, while you were not able to prove it, you were largely correct. However, it was not the unfortunate boy who was the original burglar. It was another member of Cinka’s clan who was sent specifically to steal the idol. You recall that the open window was in the study where Lord Henry’s African collection was kept. However, the thief was overly ambitious and could not resist taking something more — Lady Pamela’s family jewels. This was not part of the agreement that Lord Henry had with Cinka, and that is why the jewels were returned — all except the brooch with the family crest on it. Why not the brooch? And, why was the boy wearing the brooch when he was found? These are the crucial questions, for the brooch holds the key to this entire mystery.
Let us imagine that the original burglar returns to the Gypsy camp with the booty. Two things happen: First, the thief is chastised for taking the family jewels. “You were only to take the gold idol,” Cinka says. Second, as Lady Pamela’s jewels are examined Cinka sees something familiar among them — the Fitzwaller family crest on the brooch. You yourself reported that, when you and Cinka went to the manor to see Lady Pamela, she stared at the estate through the open gates. But it was not the grandeur of estate that captured her eye, but the familiar family crest that rested atop the gate. What was it about that family crest that was so familiar? Had Cinka seen it somewhere before?
I believe she had — fourteen years ago, and again, when the circus arrived in West Brompton this year.
As we know, a tragic event occurred fourteen years ago. Pamela Fitzwaller’s baby boy was stillborn — or so she was told. The clues were hidden in the Lady Pamela’s own words: “I never saw his face. He was taken away before I recovered.” She was told it was a boy, and finally, she thought she heard him cry. The unfortunate boy who died on the steps of Hartfield Manor was her son.
Lord Henry, for reasons of family pride, or wishing to protect his wife from the prospect of raising a deformed child, decided that the child must go. Evidently, he could not let the baby die, so he decided to send it away. But where?
You noted that the headstone for Baby Fitzwaller was dated July 21, 1876 — the same time of year when this business began, when the Gypsy circus comes to West Brompton. I do not know the particulars, but it is safe to assume that the poor child was wrapped in a swaddling blanket of some kind and brought to the Gypsy camp. I have had dealings with the Romani over the years, and have come to respect them and their way of life. Most people do not know that the Romani have a strict code, it’s called the Romano Zakono. It is the most important part of the Romanipen — the set of rules for Romani life. One of the most important tenants of the Romano Zakono is that you must help and care for unfortunate people that cross your path — beggars, the homeless, the hungry, and the ill and dying. By Cinka’s way of thinking and living, she had no choice but to take in the poor deformed child when it was brought to her camp fourteen years ago. She cared for him, and helped him make a living. I suspect that, somewhere along the midway of the circus, you will find a banner or poster proclaiming “The Living Gnome” or, as you said yourself, “The Human Gargoyle.” Of course, the boy would have been in make-up, colored green, or covered in a layer of dust to hide his pigment and make him more hideous. Without seeing the body, I cannot be certain, but I believe the poor boy was suffering from some form of phocomelia — having foreshortened limbs and a smaller torso, which makes his head appear large.
I would be willing to place a wager that, if you search Cinka’s trunk or the boy’s wagon, you would find a swaddling blanket, or some other item with the Fitzwaller family crest upon it. It was the only clue to the boy’s origins and Cinka eventually followed it to Hartfield Manor. Lord Henry, anxious to keep his horrible secret, paid for Cinka’s silence. You yourself noted that they had obviously met before Cinka showed up with you in tow. Lord Henry did not have the funds, but offered a gold idol instead, arranging to open the window for a thief she would dispatch.
Lord Fitzwaller, for obvious reasons, did not want to call in the authorities. Cinka, did not want to be charged with blackmail, so she could not claim any relationship with the boy. It might all have remained a dark secret if the boy, somehow, had not seen the brooch with the crest upon it. Cinka gave it to him, or he stole it. Either way, he understood that it held the clue to who and what he was. He made two desperate attempts to find his way into Hartfield Manor — to his real family. His last effort was fatal.
Lord Fitzwaller will have to live with his iniquity, and be reminded of it every time he visits the family cemetery. Cinka’s sin was greed. She tried to gain from the misfortune of the boy. She must have felt shame, because she returned the gold idol. Both she and Henry Fitzwaller will have to seek forgiveness — not from God, but from Pamela Fitzwaller, for she is left to bear the burden of their sins. At some level, Lady Pamela knows everything I have just shared with you. She told you and Cinka that she sensed the presence of her child as only a mother can.
I leave it in your hands to determine if this letter should find its way to others. I have learned that, in many cases, justice finds its own accord. However, it is not justice that is at stake here, but peace. I hope my letter brings that to you and the Fitzwallers.
P.S. It was my honor to serve you. No compensation is required.