Slendish crap! My investigations are blown! The direct confrontation with inmate S-623 now forces me to reveal my cards. During the last months it was difficult to see the connections between all the loose ends. Now I have only this one chance to connect those who have revealed themselves to me. I can only hope that my evidence will be enough to uncover the secret of Newgate and thus to break up the criminal community of inmates. The prison administration simply can no longer turn a blind eye. If they have these records, they are forced to take action against the women involved. This evidence simply has to be effective. They are my renewed opportunity to prove that I am more – more than a primitive guard. I have also put Rose in grave danger through my actions.
After my conversation with Dale, it worried me that I didn’t realize how much Sylvius actually knew about the gin. Still, a few weeks ago, all the evidence led to him. Sylvius’ arrogant nature was more slimy than the skin of a newborn calf, and under that slime was hiding this perverse depravity that repelled me like the stench of a decaying stillborn. He, on the other hand, still saw in me a kindred spirit. A few days after the 10th of July I wanted to take advantage of that and get involved in his games, because no matter what he knew, I had to know it too!
So I stoically listened to his self-aggrandizing stories, reluctantly sipping the creamy cardamom-flavored mocha. Sylvius liked the fact that, apparently, I had changed my mind about him. He became talkative. So I learned of another inmate who had come to the infirmary in a completely drunken state. Much more interesting than her condition, however, was that she had also carried a small bottle with her. But as soon as I began to take a closer interest in the bottle or the inmate, Sylvius fled into threadbare lies. But he could stick them somewhere else! Thanks to Dale I knew what this bottle was all about. Nevertheless one question remained unanswered: Who was the questionable inmate he had treated? After Sylvius didn’t give me anything, I decided to go through his medical records myself.
The break-in at Sylvius’ office on that sultry August night could have cost me my job. Nevertheless, he led me on the trail of inmate S-623, Caitlyn by birth. Her medical record referred to acts of violence in an intoxicated state. So in the following days I tried to find out more about Caitlyn, the so-called Slayer of Whitechapel.
Most of the time, the inmates are left to themselves in the limited space of the communal cells. The tract in which the cells are located is again divided into sections. Since the reconstruction 30 years ago, these sections extend over several floors, which in turn are connected by an iron gallery. Sleeping, eating, washing, and emergency relief are carried out in miserably cramped conditions. During the times of the courtyard tour, the inmates can move relatively freely in this wing and the promenade courtyard under supervision. The morning toilet, the devotions and the tour of the courtyard are, apart from the mealtimes, the only structural elements of everyday life behind these walls.
Under these circumstances, group formations were not unusual; however, this could not be a coincidence: Caytlin, The Slayer of Whitechapel, who helped The Landlady of Walworth, to serve the food. Thus the prison kitchen connected not only Rose with Matilda but also with Caitlyn. Reason enough to follow up my suspicions again.
With a few greasy pennies, it was frighteningly easy to get into the kitchen. But the search was more difficult. As soon as I closed the iron-clad door, only weak moonlight and the light of my oil lamp illuminated the room. At first sight, all that could be seen were the greasy wooden cupboards, the cast-iron stove, the tin cups in which the food was served, and three large copper pots. The food in Newgate consists mainly of soup, meat, vegetables, bread and groats. Although the food is rather meagre, the cook in charge never seems to save on spices, which was reflected in the quantity of clay pots on the wall shelf: caraway, juniper, salt, dried lavender, coriander, savory – a lot of choice for a prison kitchen. I had the feeling I was in the right place. I just didn’t know what I was looking for. Until the moment I discovered several strange floor tiles under one of the shelves. On one of the front stone plates were deep notches that looked like grinding marks. The back plate also had some notches, but not as random as on the front one. No. They were strangely cruciform. The slab itself just lay loose on the ground. I lifted it away. A neatly dug hollow appeared. In it: a woollen bundle. In this bundle of wool was an oversized copper lid. It fitted perfectly on the kitchen boilers. It also had a conically shaped head, at the end of which there was a long, downward tapering tube. The individual parts already showed some signs of age, but still looked as if they had been carefully made and maintained. What I had been looking for, I did not know. But I had found everything that was necessary to carry out a distillation.
That night I put everything back in its rightful place, but made some sketches. I now knew where the gin was made. Sylvius knew about the gin and smuggled for Grace. Likewise, Matilda and Caitlyn seemed to be in cahoots. So if it turned out that Grace was a part of the community, they probably got the things through Sylvius that couldn’t be obtained by bribing the guards. My suspicions would be confirmed some time later. Besides the food distribution, Caitlyn and Matilda had something else in common: morning devotions. Though I couldn’t believe it, devotion was the connection to Grace I was looking for. At first I thought that Grace was just trying to justify her sins before God, but after a longer observation I realized that her devotional visitation and that of the others had a completely different goal.
Every morning the benches were filled with inmates. Knowing the tumultuous state of affairs at the beginning of the service, I was surprised that certain inmates always sat in the same place. They also seemed to pay the most meticulous attention to which book of prayers they received. Among these women were Matilda, Caitlyn, Grace, an inmate I had never met before, and to my surprise: Rose, who had been punishing me with ignorance since our last conversation in summer. In some cases, it even seemed that the inmate who distributed the books withdrew one copy of her own accord and issued another in exchange. I had to get to one of the books without attracting attention! However, the inmate in charge collected the prayer books after each prayer and locked them away in a heavy wooden cupboard. So what I needed was chaos and that even before the prayer books were collected again.
The incident in St. Giles a few days ago gave me a brilliant idea. It was said that the explosion of just one barrel was enough to set off a chain reaction that released an avalanche of beer. This in turn took several people and houses with it. Perhaps a little too much chaos. With the easily irritable Caitlyn, however, I literally had a human powder keg at hand, the explosion of which only required a spark to trigger a similar chain reaction and the desired chaos.
I could hardly believe myself that my plan actually worked so well during a service. But in the chaos that Caitlyn caused when she beat one of the guards I was given enough time to grab her prayer book.
Caitlyn’s outburst of rage revealed to me another fragment of the secret: the prayer book. The leather was already worn off and on the greasy front was only a small cross. It was not what one would expect to see on a prayer book, but it was one that I already knew. I quickly opened the first pages of the book. Inside was nothing. But the recess in the pages told everything. Caitlyn herself, on the other hand, the outburst of anger brought her to the dark cell for a few days. A small room without light, completely covered with large cold stone slabs, into which only while opening the door flap a sparse glow penetrated through the thick oak door.
Unlike Caitlyn, happiness seemed to be on my side. Due to the lack of book content I became aware of how the gin was inconspicuously distributed among the inmates. I thus knew almost the entire procedure of the community. But then I made a big mistake. I got cocky. I wanted to know everything. I didn’t want to wait any longer and saw in Caitlyn’s punishment my chance to force her to talk. I went to visit Caitlyn in the dark cell. She seemed pathetic. She was cowering in a cold corner in chains. She never even looked up when I opened the door. So I assumed that the darkness this devil’s hole had broken her and tried with kindness. It was to turn out to be a mistaken belief. So I told her about Sylvius, the prison kitchen, the prayer books and last but not least about Rose and the gin. I offered to either shorten or lengthen her stay in this hole. It all depended on how willing she was to help me. With my last words, new powers seemed to be riding in Caitlyn. Jerkily she straightened up, looked me in the eyes and screamed at me. Desert threats of which only the following shreds remain in my memory:
“Do you little rat really think I’m just gonna fold? This community is all that keeps me alive in here. This hole doesn’t change that! In a few days I’m gonna get out of here, and then I’m gonna kill you. And I’ll crush Rose the little traitor’s skull!”
I had not expected this reaction. Even worse: she was right! Once she had served her days in the dark cell, there was little I could do to protect Rose from her in the cell wing. I had to warn Rose and send my notes to the prison authorities.