Chapter 521 Quick Rescue
“In the afternoon, you asked a friend to keep an eye on the Church of the Sacred Heart. Did you suspect Father Jacob at that time?”
In the carriage, Holmes seemed a little surprised.
“No, I didn’t suspect Father Jacob at that time. I’m not targeting the Church of the Sacred Heart.” Zhang Heng shook his head. “You said that the letter came from the church, and although we cleared Father Jacob in the morning, I haven’t given up completely on this lead. Instead, I asked a friend to help me investigate churches in the Whitechapel District. To find out the true attitude of those churches toward prostitutes, she even put on some makeup, masquerading herself as one.”
“Are you talking about Miss Irene Adler?” Holmes came to a sudden realization. “She is indeed a better makeup artist than me.”
“That’s right,” replied Zhang Heng.
“You seem to be very concerned about your bet this time. Allow me to express my opinion on this matter,” Holmes said. “It is unwise to put such a beautiful lady in such grave danger, especially when Whitechapel is shaken by fear of the serial killer.”
Zhang Heng decided to be frank when it came to this. “This incident has developed in ways that have completely exceeded my expectations. I initially planned to meet up with her after investigating Mark Cohen, but I didn’t expect to encounter the police in his residence.”
Zhang Heng had been mingling with Holmes for several months. He knew how certain Scotland Yard officers, Gregson and Lestrade, for instance, were familiar with him. Unfortunately, low-ranking police officers knew very little. Most had never even heard of Holmes’s name, a similar story with the two policemen Zhang Heng encountered at Mark Cohen’s residence. Knowing he still had a long way to go before the quest could be completed, Zhang Heng didn’t want to offend Scotland Yard just because of some misunderstanding. Hence, he elected to surrender his weapon voluntarily.
At first, when he arrived at the police station, he thought someone there would recognize him. After he told the officers in charge of his arrest about his situation, Holmes had been messing with him, which was why no one released him from the cell.
It wasn’t until the Mark Cohen investigations were over that Zhang Heng had time to meet with Irene Adler. By that time, it was completely dark. They then saw a carriage crashing into a fruit cart, overturning it and blocking the road. The coachman and the fruit farmer locked themselves in a heated dispute, and after waiting for a long time, Zhang Heng and Holmes decided they should just switch carriages. By that time they arrived at the East End, it was already around nine in the evening.
“Did you both agree to meet here?” asked Holmes as he alighted the carriage.
The two now stood at a small pavilion, a relatively prosperous place at the East End. Nonetheless, they caught no sight of Irene Adler anywhere.
Although Zhang Heng was worried about her, Irene Adler wasn’t in a situation as dangerous as he had imagined. Other than the fact that the authorities had increased the number of patrols after the three murders, Mark Cohen’s arrest managed to ease Whitechapel District’s tensions. Whatever the relationship between Father Jacob and Jack the Ripper was, he obviously wanted Mark Cohen to take the fall. If that were to be the case, the real Jack the Ripper should now be in hiding since Mark Cohen had been arrested.
But for some reason, Irene Adler still hadn’t shown up.
Was it because she had waited too long and decided to return? It might be the reason she didn’t show up as promised. After all, he did arrive several hours later than the agreed time, and Irene Adler certainly wasn’t the kind of lady that would stand in the same spot, waiting for hours until Zhang Heng arrived.
Before leaving, she should also be smart enough to find a way to notify Zhang Heng. He became increasingly worried that Irene Adler might have been a little too smart for her own good. Having discovered Father Jacob’s anomalous behavior, she might have investigated him alone. Of course, Father Jacob would not just sit there and wait for Irene Adler’s big exposé.
The Church of the Sacred Heart shut its doors at eight. Father Jacob lived in a small house behind the chapel. Without wasting any time, Zhang Heng and Holmes rushed there, and upon their arrival, they found the house to be completely dark. Zhang Heng entered the house through the window, and Holmes, the front door.
Upon deeper inspection, they found the house to be empty.
Only an elderly dog lay on the floor, so old it could hardly move. It couldn’t even manage a bark when a stranger broke in.
Holmes lit a candle, and the two scanned their surroundings. Unlike Mark Cohen’s bloody cabin, Father Jacob’s cottage looked just like an ordinary priest’s residence. Sparsely decorated, a worn and well-read Bible was beside the bed. And that was it. There was nothing else worthy of note inside the house.
According to descriptions by the prostitutes, Father Jacob’s daily routine was simple and straightforward, even considered to be rather rigid. He would either be working at the church or spending time at his residence and being anywhere else for the clergyman was a rarity. Since the church was closed and he wasn’t at home, something was definitely not right. Holmes walked around the kitchen for a while. He was about to say something but decided to keep it in instead.
The disappearance of Irene Adler and Father Jacob made the whole situation a little uncomfortable, especially how Irene Adler only got involved in this matter because of entrustment. If something terrible happened to her, it would be difficult for Zhang Heng to forgive himself. Right now, it was imperative Father Jacob was located as quickly as possible.
In comparison to the sloppy Mark Cohen Father Jacob was a more cautious man. He left nothing in the house that would lead Homes and Zhang Heng to him. The only notebook left behind was related to theology.
The entire house was in pristine condition, almost spick and span. Zhang Heng stood at the desk, closing his eyes. After half a minute he opened his eyes again.
“No matter what relationship Father Jacob has to Jack the Ripper, it will not change the fact that he is a devout priest. Jack the Ripper knew about those prostitutes through Father Jacob, and as a priest, he had sworn an oath to keep those confessions confidential. I don’t think he leaked it intentionally. Jack, the Ripper, must’ve overheard it.” Zhang Heng paused before he finally concluded, “There is probably a secret room in the church, beside the confession room.”
“That secret room is not next to the confession room, but below it. There is to be an empty space below the confession room!” Holmes pompously interjected. “I discovered it when I made my confession at the church. It was obvious when I stepped on the floor. I thought a basement had to be beneath it.”