Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Court of Miracles

The Court of Miracles is the name both of a rumoured criminal gang, and of its headquarters. The name is said to have been bestowed because criminals often pretend to be blind, crippled, wounded in war etc. In the gang's headquarters they drop their pretence, and thus one may see 'miracles' such as the dying brought to full health and cripples walking.

The Masters of the group, collectively known as "The Four-Face Ghoul" are said to be as follows:
  • The Middleman, or Half-hanged Smith.
  • The Glove Woman. or the Fox-Eyed Woman (some speak of these as two people, and Sir Archy and the Grand Master as one).
  • Sir Archy.
  • The Grand Master, a man called Bill, or the King.
The gang's headquarters is said to be in the sewers beneath the city.

Their main income is said to come from drugging the unwary and stealing their kidneys. To whom they are sold is unknown, but some say that these 'clients' have become the true masters of the gang.

The Court is also said to sell the scalps of their victims to wig- and rope-makers, the fat for soap and candles, and various other items to sorcerers and alchemists.

I have been told that one way in which the gang finds victims is as follows:

A messenger turns up at the house of a known thief, unscrupulous merchant, or similar person. The messenger bears a letter, and says,
"I don't know who it's for, I was just told to deliver this to anyone in the house".

The house might be in Market Street, but the message is marked 'to the master of the house, Margate Street', or a similar plausible mistake.

The message might say, for example,
"all is in readiness my dear friend. You have but to turn up under pier 'D' at the docks, at exactly midnight this Friday. The man there won't know you - but simply ask him for a tinder-box as a password. This man will guide you outside the city, where the 10,000 shells are hidden. I will stay in the inn until you come to deliver my share."

The victim decides to cunningly take advantage of this mistake. They turn up at the pier at the appointed time. Naturally they tell noone, and make sure that no one sees them. The man is there and recognises the password, and guides them outside the city, where other members of the gang wait to overpower them.

The Court of Miracles is said to include a group of assassins called the Good Guests, so-called because they bring their own 'cutlery' and 'spices' (weapons and poison).

There are a number of other criminal gangs in the city, and tales told about one may truly belong to another. They include the Picaroons, the Dead Rabbits, the Roach Guards, the Second-Storey Women, and the Shirt Tails.

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