The Victoria Park Mystery-Abridged Version

Posted in the Little Dorrit Forum

First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#1 Nov 1, 2008
Little Dorrit 2-The Victoria Park Mystery(original version)
Arthur and Amy's girls were rapidly growing up-in the fall of 1874 Caroline celebrated her sixteenth birthday, and shortly beforehand, Fanny had turned fifteen. Little Arthur wasn't far behind- he was eight years old in 1874, but still roughly half the age of his sisters. The girls were now obsessed with "haute couture" and like all teenage girls then and some today, wanted to model the latest styles. They took what jobs they could to earn money so they could keep their dresses up to date. Their school friends kept them informed on the latest fashions from France, and the only problem was when Arthur asked that they not let things get out of hand. Amy went to the girls and told them what Arthur had requested, and said that if they wanted to be in style, they would have to earn the money to do so. So, the girls soberly took jobs in needlework-like making hats and dresses, or running errands so they would have money to spend on items to add to their appearance. The girls sewed their own dresses and changed them on occasion when the fashions changed.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#2 Nov 1, 2008
The Lady Sessant sent them a fashion magazine, which Arthur initially disapproved of, but when Amy examined the magazine and found it to be also poems and etiquette, along with the fashion plates and "How to Attract Gentlemen". With this in mind, Arthur permitted the girls to have the magazine on occasion. Later, the girls went to dancing classes, as Arthur thought any girl of their age and class should at least know how to dance. They stayed in dancing classes several months- and were still attending them in the spring of 1875. Arthur once practiced with them walking with a gentleman, and took them one by one at tea time and escorted them into the dining room. Seeing this made Affery cry. Amy asked what was wrong, and Affery said it was just that the girls were growing up so quickly- it seemed not long ago that they were babies. Amy seemed to have matured along with her daughters, and now at forty-two, is a medium-height matron well changed from her childlike starved appearance twenty years ago.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#3 Nov 1, 2008
Now, Caroline had begun attentions for young men- she had met quite a few at school and elsewhere. One of these young men invited Caroline to a revival meeting scheduled over three days at a nearby church. Caroline is able to attend all three nights of the revival meeting, and returns home each night emotionally and spiritually renewed. On the final day of the revival meeting, Caroline is kneeling at the altar. Her prayer was: "I pray that your hand be upon me, as I have been wrong in slipping out to attend these services without my parents' knowledge. Please forgive me of this sin and keep me when I stand before my parents." On the way out of the church, the young man who invited Caroline escorts her home. He asked, "What are you concerned about?" She answered, "My parents- when they find out where I've been." The young man replied, "You're sixteen, girl! You should have some choice on where you go out at night- especially to a destination this honorable." But Caroline said, "But slipping out without letting them know where I was- that was the true sin." Caroline was left at the door of the rooms and she quietly went inside. Little did she know the man she was with was no young man at all- even with his young appearance. It was a man barely forty years old- Abner Sessant, who had been disowned by his family because of his reckless behavior. He had a track record already of causing strife between teenage girls and their parents, and was poised for a strike at the Clennams- especially now that they had a link with the Sessant family, and maybe someday, a piece of the Sessant fortune. So what better time than a revival meeting at Hatton Garden Church to entice the usually well-protected Caroline out and put her at odds with her parents! And so, he could use defense of Caroline as a excuse for getting at Arthur and Amy, and making a point on how he felt about their claim within the Sessant family.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#4 Nov 2, 2008
The next day, sometime in the afternoon, Amy, obviously disturbed, came into the Sampson and Clennam counting-house. Arthur, sitting at his desk, immediately spotted her and asked, "What is wrong, my little angel?" Amy begun gently wringing her hands as she said, "It's Caroline. I just found out where she's been the last three nights." Arthur said, "Oh?" as he wiped his quill pen's nib on a cloth. Amy continued, "A lady in the Yard told me she's seen Caroline at a church near here attending a revival meeting with a young man." Arthur seemed surprised as he asked, "What? And Caroline told us none of this?" Amy replied, "Not a thing. I have her up in the rooms, waiting for us to speak with her." Arthur was getting angry. He said sternly, "In my opinion, the worst thing she did was going out without our knowledge. She could have asked permission. Go speak with her (momentary pause). I have work here, that will keep me- but I will see her later." Amy said, "All right," and returned to the rooms. She enters the drawing room and sits in a chair near the fireplace. She sends for Caroline, and soon, Caroline comes in, and stands before her. Amy began, "Caroline, I have words for you. I have spoken to your papa about this and he is in agreement with me- and will speak to you later. His work keeps him busy at the moment, and he will not see you until later. But I will say that we are very disturbed in what you had done." Caroline said fearfully, "Yes, Mother." Amy continued, "You could have had the decency to ask us permission to go out- surely, there was no trouble in where you went, we would have encouraged it. It was just the matter that you went out without letting either of us know where you were going and what you were doing. It was not until someone who had seen you told me where you had been did I find out that you had not been in your bed until late. I believe you have much to think about, at least until your papa comes. For now, you may go." Caroline leaves the room, leaving Amy alone.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#5 Nov 2, 2008
Back at the Works, Arthur is finishing up his work in the counting-house, by candlelight, as it is now dark. Mr. Sampson steps into the counting-house, and Arthur asks him, "I ask that you permit me to let you take care of things here while I leave early. I have to deal with a errant daughter." Mr.Sampson answered, "I'll look after things. You can go." Arthur put things away in his desk, and picked up his hat and coat, pausing only to put on the coat, and got ready to leave. Arthur stepped downstairs, took a moment to look around to see things to his satisfaction, and then put on his hat and stepped outside. From the shadows, Abner Sessant was watching Arthur. Arthur suddenly sees a dark shadow move, and he stops, and stays where he is a moment. Abner said softly, "Who knows what he'll do to Caroline. I must not let any harm come to her." (This was spoken loud enough for Arthur to hear). Suddenly, Abner rushed out of the darkness and jumped on Arthur, throwing him to the ground. A blunt object is used to jab into Arthur's back, and soon, a light is thrown upon the scene as Abner runs away, leaving Arthur lying on the ground.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#6 Nov 2, 2008
The light came from a lantern being held by Mr. Sampson. Mr. Sampson cried out, "Stop!" but it was too late- the attacker is long gone. A worker says, "I'll get him," as he runs in the direction obviously taken by the attacker. Arthur lies on his side, and by his breathing and facial expression, he is obviously in pain. Mr.Sampson set the lantern on the ground near to Arthur and kneeled at Arthur's side, and laid a hand upon Arthur as he tried to figure out what was wrong. He is saddened that misfortune has come upon Arthur, and soon calls for help. Soon, several workers come up, and at least two of them help Arthur up, and then walk him to the rooms, as another fetches Arthur's hat. The others follow Mr.Sampson around the Yard, looking for a weapon. Arthur is escorted to the bedroom, and laid on his side in the bed. Mr.Sampson soon comes in and helps Arthur undress and into his nightclothes, and then covers him with a sheet, and does what he can to make sure Arthur is comfortable. By now, a worker had been sent for a doctor, and Amy soon comes in, and sits at Arthur's side, distraught. Caroline cautiously came into the room, and approached Amy slowly. Caroline said, "If you don't mind, I saw the boy who attacked Papa. It was the boy I was with. I know his name. I believe he done it on my account." Amy told Caroline "thank you", and Caroline quietly left the room. Arthur expressed that he is in pain, and Amy stays at his side, holding one of his hands until the doctor arrives.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#7 Nov 2, 2008
Several minutes later, the doctor arrives, and is escorted to the bedroom. The doctor sits on one corner of the bed, and begins his examination. He seems to suspect that the pain is coming from somewhere in Arthur's back, and he ran his hands gently down Arthur's back, and soon found something within one or two of the lower vertebrae, which is confirmed as Arthur gasps from the pain when the doctor touched the area. The police had already been alerted to the situation, and a constable was there, asking Caroline questions about what she knew of the attacker. This constable was also due to talk with Mr.Sampson about the attack. Soon, he is finished with Caroline, and steps in the bedroom a moment before heading to the Works to speak with Mr.Sampson. He said to Amy, "Your daughter gave us very good information, ma'am. Gave us a name-Abner Sessant- and rather good description. Meanwhile, I'm off to speak with Mr.Sampson. Good night, ma'am." The constable went to the Works, as Amy returned to Arthur's bedside.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#8 Nov 2, 2008
Amy asked the doctor, "Do you know yet what occurred?" The doctor paused from his work of examining Arthur and answered, "I find a crack or two in one of the back-bones." Amy sighed. The doctor continued, "But it could be worse. He'll be laid up for just a few weeks. But after that, he'll be much better. But for the moment, we'll let him rest. I have to go at this point, but will be back soon." The doctor left the room as Amy said, "Oh, dear. A injury. But, thank God, not too bad." Amy leaves the room to tend to some things, leaving Arthur to rest in the bed. Arthur rests for most of the time during the next few days, in bed as little as possible.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#9 Nov 3, 2008
But something took the family's focus presently off Arthur. A few days after the attack, young Fanny developed scarlet fever. The fifteen year old girl was in a high fever, and had a noticeable red rash on her body. Melinda wrapped her in clothing kept damp by frequent application of cold water, to keep Fanny as cool as possible. Arthur, now walking on his own, is sitting in a chair next to Fanny's bed and is at work cutting off Fanny's hair. The long dark brown hair dropped in a bowl next to Arthur's chair from each snip of Arthur's scissors, and when Arthur's job is finished, Fanny's hair is so short it appears that she had a "crew cut". Arthur slowly went over to a nearby dresser to wash his hands, as the hair in the wooden bowl is taken away to be burned. Arthur returns to the chair, and sits a moment quietly by Fanny's side. Arthur was permitted to be there because he would accept no other condition at this time.(Also, he was head of the household, and in Victorian times, he could do about anything he pleased.) Amy was always receptive and welcome to Arthur's wishes, so that is why she done things like this and made such arrangements for Arthur at this time.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#10 Nov 3, 2008
Later, Affery came in, and escorted Arthur to the drawing room, where he sat in a chair next to the fireplace. Affery goes and gets Arthur's dinner, and brings it in on a tray, and sets it on a nearby table. The table is near enough that Arthur can eat from it and he does so quietly. Affery stood nearby while Arthur ate, and took the dishes when he was finished. Affery, after taking the dishes to the kitchen, brought Arthur something to drink, as he asked, "How is the girl?" Affery asked, "Fanny?" Arthur replied, "Yes," and Affery told him, "She's sleeping now. The doctor thinks the fever should break soon." Arthur then replied, "Thank you. I will rest for now. You can go." Affery went to the kitchen, and Amy and Caroline came into the room, and took chairs not far from Arthur. Caroline said, "I feel so dreadful now." Amy asked, "Why, child?" Caroline said distressingly, "It's all my fault. If I had stayed her and not gone out, Papa would not have been hurt." Amy answered, "No, child. Someone took advantage of you- and Arthur. You have no blame in any of this." This made Caroline feel a bit better. Amy knew her daughter well enough that Caroline was lured into disobedience- and she did not do what she did to rebel against her parents. Amy lit a candle, then picked up some needlework and worked on it until it got too dark to work. Then, Amy put out the candle and she and Caroline escorted Arthur to the bedroom. As Arthur lay down in the bed, Caroline left the bedroom. She now is sleeping with Little Arthur, as Fanny's condition requires her to sleep alone (it was a contagious illness). Caroline thinks about what her mother told her as she beds down with Little Arthur.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#11 Nov 3, 2008
A week later, the fever breaks, and Fanny is getting better. She still spends all of her time in bed at this point. But at the end of that week, Fanny is much better, and able to sit up a bit, though she is still weak and has to spend most of her time in bed. Fanny's hair is also beginning to grow back at this time. Arthur is also getting better, and is able to walk around with little trouble, and has only a bit of pain. Arthur is able to do some riding, and has to go out on a errand for the Works. He has to use the chestnut gelding Bones, as his own horse Bluebird is now expecting a foal. It had been raining, and is still doing so when Arthur returns to the Works that evening. Arthur dismounts, and a worker takes Bones to the stable. Amy brings out a umbrella for him, and they go into the rooms. Arthur said, "Richard Sessant, our riding teacher and the brother to the young clod that attacked me, is seeking a position at the Works. He says that he can help track down his brother for us."

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#12 Nov 3, 2008
Arthur took off his greatcoat and hung it up to dry, then went upstairs to get some dry clothes as Affery warmed the water in the downstairs shower-bath. Arthur then took a bath and changed into the dry clothes, and left the wet clothes at the laundry on his way upstairs. He goes to the drawing room and sits by the fireplace to get warm. Suddenly, a worker burst in. Arthur turns toward the doorway, and Amy soon comes to the door. The worker said, "Please forgive my intrusion, but I have news- bad news." Arthur asked, "What is it?" The worker continued, "A young man-Payne Merdle- has been found dead near here. They say he's been murdered. Arthur and Amy exchanged shocked glances. They also wondered if there was something going on- and the situation that began with Arthur's attack was part of something much bigger than any of them could have realized.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#13 Nov 3, 2008
When Arthur and Amy asked about Payne Merdle, their daughters knew all too much about him. That he had gone to the same school they had, and his sister Ginger was one of their close friends, and other things. Soon, the rumors came in, especially around Gray's Inn, where Payne and Ginger's family lived. Arthur heard of thse rumors on occasion when riding on errands for the Works. One of these rumors that is of interest is that Ginger and Abner Sessant were once involved romantically- and Abner had designs on Caroline to 'spite her'. Caroline later told her parents about this, which confirmed the story was true. Caroline also knew of a situation between Abner and Payne, which would be related later. The police now have word of all those who knew Payne personally, and are visiting them in turn and questioning them. They had a quite fruitful session with Fanny and Caroline. The reason for this is that the police desire to know all they can about Payne Merdle and who would have grudges enough against him to kill.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#14 Nov 3, 2008
When Richard Sessant began employment at the Works, he tells Arthur about Abner's status with the Sessant family (disowned and disinherited) and why. Abner, however, says Richard, is obviously in hiding. He would need to be, he was already being sought by the police for assaulting Arthur. Fanny now is recovered from her illness, and one afternoon after school, she gets permission from her parents to visit the church where Payne's body is being kept.(The body is held for further investigation, and has been treated to be kept in such a manner as this being over a week since Payne died.) The church is on Gray's Inn Road, and Fanny walks there, and quietly enters. She goes to the corner beyond the worship area(in a side part of the church separated from the main sanctuary by columns.) The body is already shrouded and coffined, and Fanny examines it as much as she can. She can see a bit- she notices several grass stains especially on the face and neck, and then the stab wounds- and what she can see suggests the young Merdle met his end by being stabbed several times with a thin-bladed knife. She can see a few wounds on the shoulders, and markings on the shroud suggests there are similar markings on the chest. She also sees markings on the body that suggest Payne struggled with his attacker. All this she made mental notes of before she left the church.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#15 Nov 3, 2008
Fanny then made the long walk to Victoria Park in northeast London, where she heard Payne Merdle's body was found. She had no trouble finding the exact spot, it was marked with white flags and was located not far from the front gate. She then looked about the place for clues to what happened. She at first noticed several patches of blood-stained grass. She picked up a few blades of this grass and put it in a pocket of her dress. She also noticed some bits of clothing, and picked up a few of these as well. She then looked at the footprints. There is a good many footprints about, but she soon comes to the conclusion they came from only two pairs of shoes. She notices that some of the footprints seem to match the wide foot of Abner Sessant. She looks up, and sees a strange little man dressed in black in front of her. The little man addressed her, beginning with "Pancks-gypsy-fortune-tel ler. I know who you are. Daughter of Arthur Clennam and the former Amy Dorrit. Lives in Bleeding Heart Yard. Here to find information on Payne Merdle. Fanny nodded,"Yes," and seemed surprised at all this until she realized that Mr.Pancks was employed as a clerk at the Works. Then, she looked to one side (toward the front gate) and saw Arthur, holding the reins to Bones in one hand. Bones was grazing next to Arthur.

Since: Jul 08

Brownsburg, VA

#16 Nov 3, 2008
Fanny said,"Papa?" Arthur came up to her and asked her,"Why are you here, dearest daughter?" Fanny answered,"I found some things about the killing of the young Merdle, Papa." Arthur replied, "Are you sure that you are to be taking care of this?" Fanny replied,"The constable did ask for assistance." Arthur then asked, "Are you certain this is what was meant?" Arthur paused a moment. "It's about tea time. Come along, daughter." Arthur then acknowledged Mr.Pancks and thanked him, then whistled to Bones and led him back home, with Fanny obediently at Arthur's side. Fanny later learned that Arthur had sent Mr.Pancks to follow and watch over Fanny, as there was now a murderer on the loose, it was no place for a young lady to be out walking alone. After tea was over, a constable came to visit, and Fanny gave him her evidence that she collected in Victoria Park, and also stated to him the observations she made that day. On the way out, the constable said to Arthur, "You have quite the knowledgeable daughter, sir."

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#17 Nov 5, 2008
Things remained quiet for several days, as there was little more to be done about the situation. While things were quiet, the Lady Sessant set out in her carriage to Bleeding Heart Yard. She had something of importance for Arthur-something she felt he needed to know. The carriage stopped just outside the Works, and the Lady Sessant (then about eighty-five years old) was helped out and escorted up to the rooms. When Amy heard of her arrival, and that she wanted to speak with Arthur, she immediately sent Affery to the Works to fetch Arthur, while she made the Lady Sessant a place in the drawing room. The Lady Sessant sat down in the chair provided her in the drawing room and waited for Arthur to arrive. At the Works, Affery came into the counting-house and said, "Arthur, there's a lady at the rooms that would like to see you directly." Arthur asked, "Can she wait?" Mr.Sampson came in and said, "Go on and go, Arthur. From what I can see, it sounds like her business might be important." Arthur then said, "Affery, tell her that I will be there directly." Affery then returns to the rooms, and informs Amy that Arthur is coming.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#18 Nov 5, 2008
Arthur soon goes to the rooms, and he enters the drawing room, and finds the Lady Sessant and Amy seated at opposite sides of the fireplace. The Lady Sessant got up and went up to Arthur. She said, "Please forgive my intrusion, but I have to reacquaint you with my relation. For I have connection to you that you or anyone here not yet know about." Arthur asked, "Excuse me, but what do you mean?" The Lady Sessant answered, "Let's take a chair and I'll tell you." Affery brought a chair for Arthur, and Arthur sat down next to Amy. The Lady Sessant sat down, and began her story. "First, I will tell you a bit about my family. My full name is Caroline Christopher Sessant. Besides being mother to that impudent rascal being sought for assaulting you, I am also the older sister of a singing girl named Catherine Christopher and the daughter of Alfred Arthur and Rebecca Christopher. Our parents died when we were young; and I was brought into the family of Sir George Sessant (as I was twelve years of age) while my sister ended up in the establishment of Frederick Dorrit (the uncle to the young lady here) who then directed players and taught music. It was at this establishment when I heard Catherine became acquainted with a Mr.Clennam." Arthur gasped softly, and he immediately had suspicions that what she was telling him had connections to him somehow.

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#19 Nov 5, 2008
The Lady Sessant continued, "They had a sort of wedding, and Catherine bore him a son. Then, this Mr.Clennam was forced into a marriage his uncle had arranged for him. I learned of this as my late husband (the Lord Richard Sessant) was a acquaintance of this Mr.Clennam and knew my sister. It was not long after this when I found out that my sister being forced by the new Mrs.Clennam to give up her son to her, and so being taken into the guardianship of someone appointed for her. With this, I lost all count of my sister, until I found she was dead. But for her child- baptized with my father's middle name and my maiden name, I was allowed to look about by this Clennam home until this Mrs. Clennam ordered me away. I found she had left the child fallen on the steps and crying- which I took to the doctor and tended. She was too anxious to hide her secret, and so I was allowed no more acquaintance with the child."

Since: Jul 08

Lexington, VA

#20 Nov 5, 2008
Arthur asked, "Who is this child?" The Lady Sessant said, "You!" and Arthur gasped as he fell back into his chair, with a look of extreme shock on his face. The Lady Sessant continued, "You- Arthur Christopher Clennam- born May 17, 1815. I am the aunt you never had and never discovered until now." The Lady Sessant stood upon her feet, obviously in a state of extreme excitement. She continued, "Mrs.Clennam knew about my relation and tried what she could to keep hidden who you really were, because she knew out of everyone I would protect you- and yet, I did until she found out my mission and removed you from my care. For until now, she might have succeeded, but she ultimately failed. It was Affery here not long ago who later told me that she was forced to reveal all this, while you were yet in the Marshalsea, and thus she then tried to keep this from you until she was dead."

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker
First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Little Dorrit Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
little dorrit plot (Dec '08) Jun '12 Gil 59
Little Dorrit 2 Summaries (Jun '09) Jan '10 lady arthur 40
Little Dorrit Book Summaries (May '09) Jun '09 lady arthur 36
Arthur's Travel Journal (Tour of France, 1869) (Mar '09) Apr '09 lady arthur 34
News Little Dorrit (Apr '09) Apr '09 lady arthur 1
Rigaud Tune (Dec '08) Dec '08 Darren 1
Little Dorrit -Arthur's Journal (Nov '08) Dec '08 lady arthur 30
More from around the web