The Armitage Files

A Scholar and a Gentleman

Professor Jones cannot shake the feeling that the gypsy’s card reading was laid out in a pattern familiar to him and resolved to solve the mystery returns to the University Library as is natural for a scholar of his standing. Discussing the layout with Dr Armitage reveals a startling discovery. The layout of the reading is in the same as the Elder Sign, set in the marble floor, that the Professor walks across in the vestibule of the Orme Library itself! The Professor speculates that the gypsy believes that the layout protects her from the Outer Gods and Old Ones from beyond.

Recalling some details from the file of missing socialite, Wendy Hower, Jones decides to investigate the Kingsport Yacht Club. Wendy disappeared after last being seen at the KYC on 14 August (two days before the new moon). The police interviewed her parents (Robert and Mae) and sister, Elsa Hower. As a distinguished gentleman scholar the Professor decides to try his hand at infiltrating the Kingsport Yacht Club and is soon admitted and met by the Club President, Oliver Gardiner.

Oliver Gardiner gives Jones a tour of the Club, including the walk in humidor for which the club is justifiably reknowned. Jones, fond of a cigar, gladly accepts one from Gardiner and the pair talk cigars, before being introduced to some of the club members. The Professor’s charm and obvious social standing has him soon engrossed in conversation with a number of the club’s members: Samuel Hepburn a lawyer; Raymond Perkins an accountant; Dr Oscar Fairfield; and Wallace Hutchinson a local shipping magnate. Jones examines the photos adorning the walls looking for Wendy Hower and soon realises there are no women members.

Jones and Raymond Perkins hit it off immediately and an interesting evening is spent in the accountant’s company discussing the goings on at the club, particularly the occasional parties in which the young ladies of the region sometimes attend, always assuming they are of sufficiently good breeding to warrant entry into the club. Perkins explains that guests of members are signed into the club (but not out). Jones somewhat ham-fistedly broaches the subject of Wendy Hower but Perkins does not notice the awkwardness of the question and distressingly relates how she was indeed in the club as a member’s guest attending the birthday party of a member’s daughter, but no one can recall her leaving. He seems to genuinely be distressed by her disappearance.

The Professor attempts to inconspicuously locate the sign in book but cannot locate it, speculating that it might be in the President’s Office. He recalls Mahone’s speculation of there being a basement to the Club, and this is born out when Gardiner tells him that a particular door in the hallway leads to the basement storerooms and Gardiner’s office. Gardiner returns from his office with some forms, and relays to Jones the usual membership process that after he fills in the form and provides a cheque for the annual club fees of $800, he will continue to be signed in as a guest until he is regularly accepted into the club at a scheduled meeting of the members. He must continue to take part in the clubs social activities in order to secure a sponsor. Jones writes a cheque for $800 and the President is content that he is a man of sufficient means to warrant consideration.

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