lent '97 - Session 23

23. The Marked chain

--         THE MARKED CHAIN         --
--           (03.02.97)             --

	Running out of leads, our option appeared to be to return to
America. The photographic plates sent via another ship to the Miskatonic
Uni. "Us and ships? We'd better send them some other way."
	Jarvis and Guppy decided to search the ship's hold, maybe he just
needed a bit of danger - nothing had tried to kill us for several days
now. A chain, similar in design to one we'd seen before held the door
tightly shut. Guppy carefully snapped it, calling on previous experience,
and they entered the dark hold, with crates piled high, towering above
them. Something moved, a slight glint in the shadows. 
	They slowly backed the thing into a corner, torch light showing it
to be an unkempt, filthy man. Questioning him showed this to be a
stow-away, living off the contents of the hold - apparently a destitute
extremely down on his luck and at his wits' end. Guilt and compassion
forced the Doctor to give the poor bloke a blanket and promise not to tell
the captain. The chain was thrown over the side of the ship - the theory
being that the sailors would just beleive that they'd forgotten to lock
	Over dinner we heard that a robbery had taken place aboard the
ship, apparently some friend of a couple we had recently got to know had
gone to bed early (after leaving the hall feeling tired) and were awoken
the following morning by the maid - all their jewellery and money had
	Several days later, it happened again; this time to the couple we
had befriended - they had also been tired, gone to bed, and were woken
from an unusually long slumber when their maid came to clean their cabin.
The captain started to search the patrons' cabins, with little success. We
decided that it was probably one of the ship's staff (according to Guppy,
the locks had not been picked or tampered with, so someone must have had
access to a key.) Since in both cases, the people involved had felt
extremely tired and had gone to bed early - we suspected some form of drug
was been administered. 
	Apparently both couples had spent the evening in the bar, so we
watched. Only one waiter, Marc, regularly served, paying particular
attention to those people looking wealthy (hoping for larger tips?) The
conversation naturally turned round to the Prof's extremely valuable
artifacts he had in his cabin from recent digs, while the nearest plant
slowly became an alcoholic as the evenings progressed - Dr Jones being the
only one actually drinking anything. 
	Eventually, Jarvis became extremely tired and we took him to his
cabin, feigning yawns. A trap was set, with Guppy and the Prof in one
room, Jarvis and Jeremiah in the other. A few hours later a key was heard
turning in the lock and quiet footsteps over to the conspicuous
'artifacts' on the bedside table. A brief struggle ensued, the waiter
attempting to explain - he was persuasive in conveying his tragic personal
circumstances, and was driven to it by sheer necessity. 
	The captain had to be called, locking the man in the brig for the
night. In the cold light of day, it was obvious the the man couldn't be
arrested for his crime and, in any case, he wouldn't do it again - he was
such an honest, down-on-his-luck chap! The jewels and money were returned
and the whole affair brushed under the carpet. It only remained for Guppy
to regard the whole incident as suspicious, and morally questionable, he
being less convinced by Marc's honey forked tongue, and so pushed for
using the situation for everyone's advantage. It failed, for Guppy was
deemed to be cynical by the other chaps in our party.
	On arriving at port, Faraday was waiting for us - shaking our
hands eagerly he smiled proudly and announced that Allerton was under
arrest for illegal slave smuggling and trading - he was in custody,
awaiting release on bail.



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