En Femme: A Copper’s Tail (The End)



The following is the final extract from the soon-to-be-published memoirs of Donald Hicks a young detective with the Metropolitan police’s H Division who worked alongside others to investigate the Whitechapel murders of 1888; those carried out, it was believed, by the infamous Jack the Ripper.

24th December 1888. Whitechapel and Scotland Yard. 

Standing for a moment on the corner of Commercial Street and Dorset Street I asked the odd person passing by for money but not with any luck.  Then as if from nowhere a respectable dressed gentleman who seemed of great means came up to me and bid me good evening. He were about five feet nine inches; bespectacled dark eyes, large pale nose and bushy eyebrows; very surly looking; dress – long dark coat; collar and cuffs trimmed with astrakhan; dark felt hat turned down in the middle. I suspected he was a doctor of sorts after he next implored me to let him fondle my duodenum some time later that night. Of course, I laughed at the nature of such an entreaty but then imagining this was the sort of dirty talk that might yield a hot meal went along with it with gusto. Thus I replied, “Alright, doc, you can do what you want with it; just tell me what I need to do.” And he laughed and said, “Lie back and think of England,” then placed his hand on my shoulder and led me to a dark alley just off Dorset Street and out of sight of the general public.

Once there the man pushed me against the wall with his own weight and in so doing I could tell he had little mood for what I had readied myself to accomplish. Nay, before I could gather my wits about me the scoundrel had brought from his pocket two long daggers and begun sharpening them on each of my ears. I cursed myself for having been too long without food and allowing the villain this advantage but just then was I presented with an opportunity to regain some ground as he reached for his felt hat which had dropped to the floor. I took the chance and kneed the man in the groin! Then as he bent double got him roughly about his neck and brought him to the ground. Wallop! Convinced I had apprehended the dread Ripper I then blew my whistle and waited for the arrival of the paddy wagon.

Back at the Yard, however, any hope of a hero’s return was quickly forgone. Insp Abberline explained to me that the suspect was, “Not all he appeared to be,” at which I noticed him wink to the uniformed coppers in the room who had started giggling. The Inspector then proceeded to take off the fellow’s hat and beagle puss, leaving me stunned and in no uncertain terms that I had in fact apprehended none other than young Mr. Cream, the unhappy surgeon! But then was I to encounter greater wonderment as Mr. Cream did proceed to remove his entire face as if peeling a poster from a wall, in so doing revealing himself to be none other than His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, second-in-line to the throne! What a calamity!

Would that I had been furnished with the facts of the Duke’s own vigilante exploits in the search for the Ripper I might have considered twice the arrest, but the damage was done. Not only was my report about the Duke’s licentious behaviour including his request to fondle my duodenum disregarded but I was now to face a charge of misconduct in a public office. With His Royal testimony made through contemptible means bearing witness to my drinking on duty, soliciting sex, allowing a man to kiss my cheek and money laundering I could admit nothing but guilty as charged. Thus late in the evening before Christmas Day was I dismissed from the Met and cast into the street penniless, my only hope thereafter being that Insp Abberline and the Duke would catch typhus and drop dead, and Ebenezer Scrooge may soon change his ways to help the poor.

The End.

NJW, 2016

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