Bonus chapter 2: The ripper
The conundrum that Henry found himself in was that by just moving from the area of Tower Hamlets would not save him, or his family from the abuses of the gang. They had their spies everywhere. Whatever he did would be passed on to the group of thugs. He would have to create a plan to divert the gang’s attention away from him and his family, while they affected their escape from the area. In the days prior to Henry’s marrying Emma, he would have stayed and tried to stand up to the gang. Even now, he wasn’t concerned for his own safety; it was for the well-being of his family that made him so anxious.
First, Emma would have to be told what had transpired. This would probably be the most difficult part of the plan. Henry loved his wife and children dearly, and would do anything to keep them safe. He did not want to lose them.
Their marriage was strong, and Henry had always been the dutiful husband. He had never caused Emma any reason to worry, until now. Emma had always disapproved of his betting on the dogs. She had no idea how much money Henry had ended up losing. If she had known; she would have put an end to it long ago.
The second step in the plan would be picking a destination, a safe place to run to. In reality, Henry and Emma would have to decide whether the threat was great enough to warrant a move to another country. If this were their fate; what country, what continent would they be relegated to? Money would be the deciding factor. After purchasing tickets, they would still need about twenty- five pounds to start their new life. Clothing was the only possession they could take with them – nothing else. All would be left behind.
As soon as he arrived home he approached Emma. “Me darlin, we need to talk about something very important.” Henry said sheepishly.
“What are you on about now Henry, more money for the track?” Emma said jokingly.
“No luv, its much worse. I’ve landed meself in a bit of a pickle, you might say.”
Over the next hour, Henry fully disclosed to her what had transpired. At first, Emma was shocked until the anger took over. She weighed her options as they discussed how they would handle this ’bit of a pickle’. From what she had heard herself about the gang, just distancing herself from Henry would not make her safe. The gang would still take out their revenge on her and the kids, if they found them. Besides, she loved Henry just as much as he loved her. She decided that the only answer would be for her to continue to support Henry to the end. Emma assured Henry of her devotion to him. Even though, she was still in shock, and dismay; she leaned over and kissed him.
Decisions had to be made. The first was to decide where they would go.
They considered all of the available possibilities. One by one, the list was narrowed down. In the running was the east coast of the U.S.A., possibly New York. The other was to Canada, —Toronto, in particular. Henry believed he had an uncle that had moved to the Toronto area. Each location had its pros and cons, which were discussed at length. As they talked about the change their life was about to take, they both agreed that it was becoming exciting. As they let their imaginations take over, the more exciting it became. The voyage, the new land, settling in a new city or town, all meant a new beginning for the whole family.
Henry’s uncle Thomas, who was also a tanner by trade, had moved several years ago. It would be most advantageous for Henry and Emma to find out exactly where he had moved. Then, they would consider making the same move. The only problem with this plan was trying to find out the location of the uncle. No one could even suspect what they were planning, not even Henry’s father George.
Now, that the plan was coming together, Henry and Emma could start the preparations. First, Emma would discretely sell off as much of the family possessions as she could to her closest friends. This would raise some of the needed cash for the escape. While Emma was doing this, Henry set to work finding the whereabouts of his uncle Thomas. He knew that his father, George, had received a letter from him several years earlier. Henry was sure that letter would contain an update on the location where Thomas had moved to and finally settled. The letter would no doubt be kept in a travel chest in George’s room.
When George went out, it would be an easy task for Henry to search the chest and locate the letter. A few coins given to George, for several tankards of ale would assure Henry the time needed for the search. Henry searched his dad’s room and found the letter confirming that his uncle had in fact travelled to Toronto, Canada, where he had begun his new life. There was even an address for him. Henry then recruited his best friend, William Pert, to go and find what ship was leaving for Canada within the next week. He also asked him to purchase tickets on behalf of Henry and his family for the trip. William expressed a desire to follow with his family at a later date. This was excellent news and the two men laughed at the possibilities.
The final step in the plan was to create the required diversion to give the Bruce family the time to get to the docks and board the ship that would take them to their new destination. Once the purchased tickets were in Henry’s hand, he would send an anonymous message to Sir Melville McNaughton, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the London Metropolitan Police Service. This message would inform them that the identity of ’Jack the Ripper’ was in fact a man in the Tower Gang known as, “Leather Gloves”, whose real first name was Tony.
William had found out that the next ship leaving Liverpool at the end of the week was the White Star Line’s TEUTONIC — a ship five hundred and eighty two feet in length and fifty-seven feet in breadth. She was capable of carrying three hundred first class or saloon passengers, one hundred and fifty second class and seven hundred and fifty steerage passengers. It would take six days to cross the Atlantic and after stopping in New York, it would eventually arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, about ten days after setting sail from Liverpool. At first, William had been told that all the tickets had been spoken for, but if he waited, there were four tickets that hadn’t yet been confirmed. William decided to wait in the lobby. After a short while, the purser called him over to say that he was able to sell him the four tickets, as they were still unclaimed. William purchased the four tickets for steerage class and then hurried back to give them to Henry.
Unfortunately, for Henry and his family, it was the middle of December 1890, which meant it would be a cold voyage to say the least. This, of course, would be exacerbated by the fact that they could only afford steerage. A steerage cabin was in the lower part of the ship so it would feel colder and damper. When Mr. Pert had been asked to purchase tickets to Halifax, Henry had instructed to obtain them for the next ship leaving London, despite the cost. As a result, William had obtained the tickets for the Teutonic, which was a more upscale steamer. Of course, this was reflected in the price of the tickets. The cabin was a four-birth cabin, which was perfect for the needs of the Bruce family.
The ship would leave Liverpool on the 19th of December, which gave Henry five days to put his plans in motion. Emma was doing well with her task of liquidating most of their possessions. She had already raised the fifty pounds that they would need. The children would not be told of their plans until the day the boat sailed, but they were already inquisitive having noticed that most of the family possessions were missing. Emma had just said that she had stored some of their property.
Jack the Ripper, meanwhile, had struck several more times after having taken a short break from his slaughtering ways. Two more prostitutes had been murdered and brutally dismembered over the past few days. This put more pressure on the police as the public was demanding action. What a perfect time for Henry’s plan to be implemented. Therefore on the 18th of December, Henry drafted the letter to the police and placed it in an envelope addressed to Sir Melville McNaughton. William, Henry’s friend, had agreed to deliver it to the police station. With any luck, McNaughton would open and read the letter on the morning of the 19th, at the same time the Bruce family were boarding the Teutonic.
The man known, as ’Leather Gloves’, was well known to the police. It wouldn’t take them long to throw out a dragnet to arrest this new suspect. His full name was Tony Drummond and he was known in the east end as a thug and a ‘molly’, which was a term given to homosexuals. He also had very violent tendencies. The police would already have a lot of information about the gang so this would put them under investigation as accomplices. What a plan, Henry chuckled to himself. The gang would have no idea where Henry and his family had fled. By the time they found out, it would be too late for them to act. He hoped that they wouldn’t pay for someone to take the next liner out to try and intercept him and his family. Henry was not only pleased, but was also proud of his plan.
Of course, Henry really had no idea who the real Jack the Ripper was. Maybe, he was a disgruntled patron of the prostitute scene or maybe, a truly deranged man who just hated all women. Whoever he was, Henry hoped that the police would capture him as soon as possible. Until they did, no woman in the Whitechapel area was safe. This was the first time in London’s history that a murderer of such ferocity had preyed on its citizens. The magnitude of Jack’s crimes would surely lead him to the gallows when he was caught. Henry hadn’t really kept up to date with his crimes so he made a mental note to obtain a newspaper, dated the 19th of December to catch up. One question he had been asking himself was whether or not Jack the Ripper was acting alone.
When Henry had confided in William Pert about the predicament he now found himself in, William had offered his assistance and expressed a desire to follow Henry at a later date. The two agreed to maintain their friendship by writing to each other as often as they could. Henry and William talked late into the evening about resettling in Canada and how the move could be the best thing that ever happened to either one of them. William Pert was thirty-eight years of age and his wife Sarah was but thirty years old. Together, they had a child named Roger who was five.
Years ago, the Bruce’s had helped William and Sarah out when their son Roger had become deathly ill. They had given the Perts money to take the child for proper treatment that no doubt saved his life. William and Sarah lived with her parents in a small house located in the borough of Limehouse, which was about a mile from Repton Street. William and his wife had often talked about moving out to be on their own. Life in Sarah’s parent’s home was tolerable, but strained. The couple knew that a move would be in order before much longer.
William also worked at the shipyards, which is where he had met Henry. He was employed as a stevedore, loading and unloading the ships. As a stevedore William had no real trade, which narrowed his opportunities when seeking employment. It had taken him ten years to attain a full time status at the docks. On two occasions, he had narrowly missed being seriously hurt on the job. Both times, the danger came from falling cargo, which had been mishandled. William disliked working in the yards so if there had been an alternative; he would have taken it long ago. The thought of working there until he died or was unable to work any longer was a sobering thought.
Since Henry and Emma’s predicament had reared its ugly head, William and his wife had been talking about following the Bruces to Canada. They agreed that the move would be difficult. They were young enough, however, to start a new life in another land. Henry and William had also discussed going into business together, at some point, opening a leather shop. This would be perfect in Canada as leather was used there for almost everything. Henry could teach William the tanning trade and together they could have a thriving shop. William and Sarah had, therefore, decided to start putting money aside to pay for steamship tickets to Canada to join their friends.
Henry and Emma lay in bed on the eve of their great escape. All the plans had been made, checked, and double-checked. They talked briefly about getting up at an early hour to get Winifred and Roland ready to go. This would include informing the children about what was to transpire. Any misgivings or change of heart was to be dealt with now. In the morning, there would be no time for discussion. Henry took Emma in his arms and kissed her with passion. He was so glad he had her by his side. She was his soul mate to be sure. In a while, both fell into an uneasy sleep. It was five in the morning, but the sun had not risen yet. It was time to wake the kids for breakfast. Then get on their way to the Teutonic’s dock. None of the Bruce family had ever been on an ocean liner. This was going to be an experience to remember.