The dreadful Hercules Peasemold seems to be behind an inexplicable but deadly dance which has led to the apparent demise of Dorothy Aileen Knickerthwaite.
Bloatmingle and Spiggot have leapt into a Police Humber (which incidentally has some tappet chatter and something of a small end knock) and hastened to the alluringly-named Dead Man's Wharf...
During the hair-raising journey, Bloatmingle urgently apprised his bobbies of the facts as he saw them. “Mrs Knickerthwaite isn’t dead. The poison in the corsets immobilizes but isn’t fatal. Whilst his victims are virtually paralyzed, Peasemold…” Bloatmingle paused, wondering if these two relatively young policemen could take this. “Steals their ration books!” The two bobbies swallowed audibly. Fittock blanched. Even the driver swerved the speeding Humber slightly.
Bloatmingle continued. “It's true lads. The man’s a fiend. And I think we’ll find that the crimes labelled by an hysterical press as 'The Chisel Murders' are down to him as well. After all, what did we find? No bodies, just cruelly abused chisels. And I happen to know that whilst Peasemold was a pupil at Abattoir Road Boys’ Elementary school before the war, he was rubbish at woodwork and constantly caned for dreadful dovetails. Hence his war on chisels!”
The Humber slowed as it entered a grimy side street close to the river.
“Just down here on the left, sir,” called the driver. “Splendid!” replied Bloatmingle. “Here’s what we’ll do. I will knock on the front door whilst you and Whatsisname sneak round the back. “ Oh, Inspector,” said Fittock, “That’s brilliant. Sneak round the back. Brilliant!”
Bloatmingle blushed slightly but he was used to compliments from less able people. “Yes. Sneak round the back. Take your pistols. And remember, if Peasemold is not alone but with Tommy No-nose, this won’t be easy!”
Bloatmingle’s hard knuckles hammered on the door of No 37 Dead Man’s Wharf before a small window slid open in the door. The window had more life in it than the pair of dull eyes that peered out.
"That’s not the secret knock," said the flat voice attached to the emotionless eyes.
"Yes it was," said Bloatmingle, not sure what to say but certain that there were speech marks there waiting for him to say something.
"No it ain’t!" protested the voice. ‘It was nothing like the secret knock.’
"My dear man," laughed Bloatmingle, "the very fact that you don’t recognise the knock surely proves that mine was a very secret knock! Why, isn’t 'not knowing' the very definition of 'secret'? Whether it’s the secret knock you were expecting is an entirely different matter and, frankly, none of my concern... Now, tell me, were you told to only open the door to a secret knock?"
"Yes," said the voice, confused.
"And would you allow that by not recognising my knock, you are clearly not in on that secret?"
"Urm… I suppose so…"
"Therefore my knock was a secret knock, you were told to open the door to a secret knock, therefore QED, ipso facto, and how’s your father: open this ruddy door!"
There was a long moment as distant gears slowly turned but eventually the door did open.
"You better explain that to the boss," said the small man appearing in the dim light.
"I’ll do just that," said Bloatmingle, using the end of his Webley to produce another secret knock but this time across the man’s temple.
"Urgh!" said the man as he fell into a heap.
"Ah, so you knew the password as well!" gloated Bloatmingle as he stepped across the body. "Excellent work that man!"