The Histories II – George Germain
Listen to the episode here.
George Germain lived alone in a small house on the bank of Town River, Quincy. To the east the river widens into a bay, one of many on the coast of Massechusettes. The sprawl of Boston is just a few miles to the north.
George had recently been employed by James and Mary Dickenson who lived in Quincy, up on the hill. George had some skill with plants, and had been hired as a gardener and general handyman, The Dickensons had spent two years living in London, England, and George was part of the staff getting the house back in order for their return.
During the winter of 1908, the Dickensons returned to great fanfare. They had been something of a social fixture in the area, and they reaffirmed this status by throwing a lavish Christmas Party. The staff were rewarded generously and this cemented their loyalty. This was especially true of George, who became a trusted manservant to James Dickenson by the spring of 1909.
James Dickenson was something of an amateur scientist, a hobby he was able to pursue due to his family’s wealth. Over the next few months he sent his manservant George on many-an-errand. Some were as innocent as procuring various chemicals, normally in bulk quantities. George could be seen regularly driving a cart back from Boston with barrels of lye and gypsum. He was often sent into the Blue Hills to fill containers with spring water from a source there.
Other errands were a little more mysterious. There were brown-paper parcels to be delivered to various people. He was made to go in the middle of the night, so as not to attract attention. Never once did he give in to his curiosity by carefully peeling off the wrapping. He was making good money with James Dickenson, and besides, he found himself liking the man.
And then there were the burials, again in the middle of the night. These were all located in the grounds of the house, out towards the back wall where a natural overgrowth served as a deterrent to trespassers. He and Dickenson would carry small wooden crates down from the house. They were not heavy, but the linen they were covered with smelled of strong chemicals. Each would be planted in a deep hole, and covered. George thought it very strange, but put it down to the eccentricities of the well-to-do.
By the summer of 1909, George Germaine was a fixture at the Dickenson house. He still slept in his small house by the river, but spent nearly every waking hour in the service of the man he now called friend, as well as master.
Late in the evening, on the 4th of August, 1909, George Germain was startled by a loud knocking on his door. It was about 10.30 when he answered the door to a small group of men. They burst into his home, and brutally beat him around the face until he was unconscious and unrecognisable. They left him there to die, but luckily he was found and transported to a Boston hospital.
Most of the miscreants were apprehended in a few days. Three of them were known in the town as ‘the Chain Gang’ for their tendency to loiter on the chain fence around the Frist Church property on City Square. They gave no explanation for the attack. In fact, they said nothing at all. The police chief noted that they appeared to be cowed into silence.
One man disappeared from town. Phillip Pitts made his escape the very next day. He was assumed to be the ring-leader, and the search for him led as far as New York City.
Meanwhile, George lay recovering in hospital. For a while it was assumed he would succumb to his wounds, but ever so slowly he became stronger. His face healed until he could talk again, and his first words were to thank the man who had visited him every day.
Father Patrick Gorham was George’s pastor. George had been a devout man, ever since quitting the bottle years before. He was at church every Sunday, so Father Gorham thought it only fair that he be at George’s bedside every day. He prayed with him, at first holding the injured man’s hands while George looked up at him through his bandages. And then when he could speak, George thanked the Lord for Father Gorham.
It was noted at the time that George’s employer, James Dickenson, never once visited his trusted manservant in hospital. Nor did he send a note, or gift, or any kind of communication at all. Father Gorham took it upon himself to walk up to the big house on the hill to let the Dickenson’s know what had become of their loyal George.
He arrived at the large door of the house as the September sun made long shadows of the trees. There was no answer to his working the bell-pull, and neither to his loud banging on the door. In fact, after three hard raps the door swung inwards revealing a desolate scene.
Father Gorham walked through the house that evening. There was nary a soul amongst the oak panelling and marble columns. A very thin layer of dust covered the few items of furniture that they had left. It was clear to him that the Dickensons must have moved out at least a month before… around the time of the attack on George, perhaps?
And not only moved out! Any sign of the house’s previous tenants had been removed. Gorham could not imagine how they had removed themselves without the rest of the town realising. Undercover of darkness, he supposed. But still… why the secrecy?
He arrived, at last, to a large room at the top of the house. The entire western side was a semicircular wall of glass, like a conservatory. A brilliant red sunset shone through the half-domed glass roof, painted the stark room in a sinister scarlet. There were only a few objects in here. A long table with four straps attached, two at the bottom and two at the top. A long metal syringe had been left on the floor. The tube still held a milky coloured liquid which had crusted around the end of the needle. And perhaps the most sinister object was the large cage in one corner of the room, big enough to hold a human.
When George Germain was able to speak again, the good Father was there to hear what he had to say. The man was reticent at first. He still had a good deal of loyalty for the man who had treated him so well. This changed somewhat after he was informed of their complete disappearance.
George shared what little he knew with Father Gorham, who was able to make a few assumptions based on the strange tasks that Dickenson had him do. George had not been allowed inside the laboratory at the top of the house, but Gorham was able to draw his own conclusions.
On December 2nd, 1909 , Father Gorham writes a Christmas letter to his sister in Providence.
I hope this letter finds you and yours well and happy. I regret that I cannot be there to celebrate the Holy Day with you this year. I am bound to tend to one of my own parishioners, a man I now call friend as well, George who I have written about before. He is recuperating well, and most of the men who attacked him have been brought to justice, save one. However, they are tight lipped about the whole affair.
George is similarly ignorant to the reason he was set upon. It is clear to me that Dickenson, his master, had him doing some shady things in his service. But cleverly, so that George never really knew the whole picture of the disturbing enterprise of which he had become part. Of that night, George has told me what he can remember, although his memories have been dimmed through the incredible head trauma he suffered at the hands of those evil men.
He had heard a small cry coming from the laboratory, where he was not allowed to enter. Knowing that Dickenson was on the ground floor, he stole into the room. There was a young woman, not even twenty George supposed, strapped to a table in the center of the room. This table I have seen for myself, though the rest of the house was abandoned. She was whimpering, squirming against her bonds. The next part is unbelievable, but somehow I do believe he saw it. Another image of the girl, transparent and luminescent, hovering three feet above the first. They were tethered, he says, by tendrils which fell like syrup from the woman above to the woman below.
Dickenson was at the door before George could see anything further. He certainly did not have a chance to help the poor woman. He says he dodged around his master when he was told to stay where he was. Says that Dickenson had a look in his eye he had not seen before. A vengeful look.
He ran out of the house, and all the way to his shack by the river. It is obvious to me that it was Dickenson himself that set those men about the task of silencing George to what he saw. I have no doubt that they had been told to kill him. It is only by chance, and the will of God that George was able to recover. I think that the moment Dickenson realised that his plan had failed, he set about packing up his experiments and the house.
I am determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, if only to bring George the justice that he deserves. I must confess that the more I look into these goings on, the more I am fascinated by what I find. After the holiday, I am bound for Nova Scotia where another branch of this trail leads.
Please kiss little Henry for me, and God bless you, Eileen, and Hubert too.
All my love,