New Jersey, USA
28 January 1895
A horrible affair, which even now makes my blood run cold to think of it, was described to me recently by a medical man of my acquaintance. The woman who was the victim was of French extraction. She was fine, handsome woman of between 35 and 40 years of age. Her name was Valerie Estrange, and she was one of that wretched class of beings who live by the levying of blackmail and other evil practices.
She made Dr. X's acquaintance as an ordinary patient and had occasion to call upon him at his consulting room several times, so that he came to know her pretty well. He had no idea of what or who his handsome patient was, and no suspicion of her evil character ever suggested itself to him. Therefore he was quite unprepared for the terrible danger with which he suddenly found himself confronted when she threw off the mask.
The charge she brought against him was that he had made a serious mistake in her medicine by putting in a poison in such proportion as to have endangered her life if she had taken it. She alleged that she had indeed taken one dose and had only escaped its fatal effects by the assistance of a chemist who had administered to her an antidote.
It was late at night when she had called, and Dr. X had met her in his consulting room.
"Do I understand," he asked, rising to his feet as he realized the nature of her scheme "that you expect to extort money from me under threat of bringing against me this charge and so injuring me in my profession?"
"Doctor," she urged, "I don't want much. It's a mere nothing to you, while to me it's a matter of life and death. I must have £5 by tomorrow morning, or I shall be turned out of house and home. It's nothing to you, but to me it's everything."
"Don't talk to me like that," he replied angrily. "I would sooner lose the money ten times over than be poltroon enough to pay it to you as you have asked it."
"Then look to yourself, Dr. X, look to yourself, for what I say I can do. I will expose you, and, what is more, the chemist will corroborate what I say."
"What do you mean? What horrible plot is this against me?"
"You will see. I tell you I have the bottle of poisonous medicine as evidence, and the chemist will bear me out in all I say."
Dr. X was desperate. Never for one moment did he entertain the idea of buying her off, her he held, and held rightly, that the man who submits to an imposition of this kind is a traitor to society and a public enemy scarcely less worthy of condemnation than the blackmailer herself. And yet something must be done, for the danger was imminent.
At this moment there was a sound at the window, and looking up Valerie Lestrange saw looking in at her a face like that of a demon. It disappeared almost immediately, but she saw it distinctly. The creature was of dwarfish build, had reddish brown hair about its face and eyes which shone in the darkness. At the sight she shrank back in terror and demanded of the doctor:
"What is it? Who is it, and what does he want?"
"Never you mind who it is. It might be Jack the Ripper, or the Old man of the Sea, or an imp of Satan come to fetch you before your time."
"Jack the Ripper!"
At the word the wretched woman turned pale to the lips and leaned against the table for support.
She read the ghastly details of that strange series of murders will they had become a kind of nightmare to her.
Seeing the terror his words had aroused, Dr. X conceived an idea for his deliverance.
Stepping forward, he seized Valerie by the wrist, and bringing his lips close to her ear he hissed between his teeth:
"Woman, I have told you the truth, but don't drive me to do it. That unclean creature whom you saw is really what I called him in jest. It is indeed Jack the Ripper, and if you do what you have threatened he shall go like a bloodhound on your track and hunt you down, though you shelter in the darkest corner of the earth."
For a moment the bold eyes of the woman quailed before the fierce, threatening glance of Dr. X. Then, with a laugh, she turned to the door, saying:
"Bah! You can't frighten me with a bogy. Unless you pay me in the morning your reputation is gone forever."
So saying she banged the door behind her and went out into the night.
That was the last time Dr. X ever saw her alive.
What really happened to her after she left his house was this:
In spite of herself she could not altogether shake off the sensation of fear which the uncanny appearance and the doctor's words had roused within her. Ever and again she glanced backward over her shoulder to see that she was not followed and assured herself in an undertone that it was some bogy with which the doctor had endeavored to alarm her.
She had reached the corner of the bystreet in which she lived and had almost got the better of her nervous fears, when, suddenly looking back along the road she had just traversed, she saw that which froze her blood with sudden fear.
She was being followed by the dwarfish creature she had seen on the window sill of the doctor's consulting room.
With a cry of terror the wretched woman sank down beneath the shadow of a projecting doorway and for a moment became unconscious.
When she opened her eyes, her pursuer was standing over her, and with a shriek of frenzied terror she flung herself flat down upon the paving stones. A long arm reached out to seize her, and with the terror of it she again lost her reason.
The following morning she was found by a police constable lying in the same spot, and above her crouched upon the threshold of the doorway, was a large Indian monkey. This it was that had aroused her fears when it climbed up to the doctor's window sill from its kennel in the yard beneath his window. And this it was which by some chance had followed her when she left the house.