The lighthouse was a circular, three-tiered structure with an attached L-shaped keeper’s house. It was topped by the glass-domed room that housed the lamp which had to be tended to each night by one of the three lighthouse keepers stationed on the island.
The keepers of the Eilean Mòr worked in shifts. Three men were stationed at the lighthouse at all times, while a fourth took a two week leave. The island was totally uninhabited, so having three men stationed there was as much to stave off loneliness as it was to make sure the lighthouse beacon was always tended to. If one man took ill or had an accident, two could easily do the job until the man who was on leave returned. The isle had no boat of its own, but the lighthouse was visible from a neighboring island. If there was a problem, flares could be set off and a boat would be sent over to assist.
The three lighthouse keepers stationed on the island were James Ducat, 43; Thomas Marshall, 28; and Donald McArthur, 40. Ducat was the Principal Keeper; Marshall, the Second Assistant; and McArthur was given the title of Occasional Keeper, as he was taking over for the regular First Assistant who was on extended sick leave.
As Moore approached the landing dock, he was already aware that things weren’t as they should be on the island. On December 15, the captain of a steamer who was passing through the area noticed that the lighthouse’s lamp was dark. He sent a wireless to the Cosmopolitan Line Steamers headquarters and reported the outage, but they failed to send a ship to see if the keepers needed any assistance. To further add to the confusion, the man responsible for checking on Eilean Mòr’s light from the Isle of Lewis, an island about thirty-five miles away, failed to notice that the light was out.
The light was fueled by paraffin, and it wasn’t unheard of to receive a bad batch that wouldn’t light. If that was the case, the Hesperus had extra lamp fuel onboard that should hold them over until a full shipment could be delivered.
The captain of the Hesperus had blown the ship’s horn to alert the keepers of their arrival. When the men didn’t appear on the landing, flares were sent up to alert them, but there was still no response. Moore was sent over to see if the lighthouse keepers needed assistance, and to send back the man he would be relieving.
As Moore tied the boat up to the dock, he became more and more apprehensive. It was customary for the three men stationed there to greet the returning keeper, but the dock’s flagstaff was bare and the landing was deserted. Also absent were the supply containers that were always left on the dock to be replenished when the relief keeper arrived.
The island was eerily quiet as Moore climbed the 150-foot stairway that hugged the edge of the cliff. A strong wind rustled the short brown grasses that covered the southeastern slope, and seagulls cried mournfully overhead. Later, Moore would tell the captain that an overwhelming sense of foreboding came over him on his long walk to the top of the cliff.
Although the day was sunny, and the temperatures rather warm for that time of year, Moore felt a chill go through him as the tower grew nearer. He stopped and looked up at the lantern room perched at the top of the tower. No one stirred behind its tall glass walls.
As he approached the keeper’s house, he called out. But apart from the sound of the wind buffeting the lighthouse, and the cries of the gulls overhead, all was silent. He made his way to the entrance gate, and found that it was closed. Passing through the gate, Moore tried the entrance door that led to the kitchen. It too was closed, but unlocked. He put his hand on the doorknob, turned it, and went in.
Moore walked through the entrance hall and immediately noticed that two of the three oil skinned coats were missing. The remaining coat belonged to Donald McArthur. This waterproof garment was the last layer of clothing the men would put on before heading out of doors. Perhaps no one answered the ship’s horn because two of the men were tending to something on the other side of the island, and the third was inside and hadn’t heard the call. Moore opened the door that led to the kitchen, then closed it behind him. Ahead of him was the kitchen door, which was open. The room beyond was deserted.
On a cold, isolated island, warmth is both a necessity and a creature comfort, so the frigid interior of the keeper house was the first indication that something was terribly wrong. In the short time that Moore had been working on the island, he had never known a winter day when there wasn’t a fire burning brightly in the kitchen fireplace. But there was no fire today, and the ashes were cold to the touch which meant that the fireplace hadn’t been lit for some days. Moore pulled his coat closer around him and looked around the room.
The kitchen was unnaturally quiet, and it took him a few seconds to realize why. The pendulum clock that hung on the far wall that normally marked the time with a sensible, steady click was now still. The clock needed winding daily, so it must have run down.
“Hello,” he called out. “Jim, Tommy, Don?” But there was no reply.
Wind whistled softly through the chinks in the windows, and the boards on the exterior of the keeper house crackled and creaked. The kitchen was neat and clean. The pots and pans had been cleaned and the kitchen tidied up, which showed that the man who had been acting as cook had completed his work. But where was everyone?
Moore walked through the kitchen and checked the other rooms in succession. They were deserted as well. All of the beds were empty, and they looked the way the men would have left them in the Mòrning. Passing through these rooms, Moore entered the lighthouse and starred up the spiral staircase that wound its way along the interior wall of the tower. Far above, he could see sun streaming through the tall glass walls of the lantern room; but like the keeper's house, the lighthouse was as quiet as a tomb.
Moore didn’t take time to search the tower because he knew that something serious had occurred. He darted out of the house, then ran down to the landing where he informed Mr. McCormack that the place was deserted. McCormack, Moore, and a group of men went up to the keeper’s house to search a second time, but they found no further clues as to the lighthouse keepers’ whereabouts.
The only place that hadn’t been searched was the lantern room, and one can only imagine that they were prepared for the worst. Wind echoed softly in the tower’s cold stone interior as McCormack and Moore ascended the iron steps that wound about the tower walls. When the two men reached the top, they breathed a sigh of relief. The room was deserted. The lamp had been cleaned, and the fountain was full of paraffin oil. The blinds were on the windows and in their proper places, and nothing was disturbed or missing from the room.
Head keeper Ducat’s logbook was found in the sleeping quarters. The last written entry was on December 13. Details about December 14 and 15 were found written on a slate. These included the time that the light was extinguished on December 15, as well as barometric, temperature, and wind readings as they were recorded at 9 AM that day. This means that the three men vanished sometime between 9 AM and midnight on the 15th.
When the Hesperus’ crew searched the island, they discovered that the east landing was untouched, but the west landing had suffered severe storm damage. A box located at 110 ft above the shoreline was broken and its contents lay scattered on the cliff below. The winds must have been nearly tornado-force, as the iron railings were bent over, and sections of the iron railway used to carry large kegs of paraffin and other supplies from the dock to the top of the cliff had been wrenched out of the concrete. In addition, a rock weighing more than a ton was found dislodged from its original position and lying on the railway tracks. On top of the cliff, the grass had been ripped away as far as 33 feet from the cliff’s edge.
As night was swiftly approaching, Moore and another man were left on the island to tend to the lighthouse and keep the light burning. The Hesperus would return to the mainland while three replacement keepers could be found. This would mean leaving just two men to tend to the lighthouse; Moore, and one of the crewmen from the Hesperus, A. Lamont.
Superintendent of the Northern Lighthouse Board, Robert Muirhead, was clearly worried about Moore’s mental state. In his report, he wrote, “I may state that, as Moore was naturally very much upset by the unfortunate occurrence, and appeared very nervous, I left seaman A. Lamont on the Island to go to the lightroom and keep him company when on watch for a week or two. If this nervousness does not leave Moore, he will require to be transferred, but I am reluctant to recommend this, as I would desire to have at least one man who knows the work of the Station.”
Moore was definitely shaken by the events. Remember, the three missing men were his friends. He had spent months on the island with them as his only companions, so it’s no wonder the mysterious tragedy affected him so strongly. In addition, he must have considered that the only thing that saved him from a similar fate was his two week shore leave.
The following morning, Moore told Lamont that he thought he heard men’s voices calling in the night. Although it was probably just his troubled imagination, one can’t wonder if the voices he heard were the ghostly cries of his missing comrades. The voices stayed silent after that night, and Moore and his companion had no trouble for the rest of their stay on the island.
Superintendent Muirhead closed the case with his final report saying:
“When the accident occurred, Ducat was wearing sea boots and a waterproof, and Marshall sea boots and oilskins; and as Moore assures me that the men only wore those articles when going down to the landings, they must have intended, when they left the station, either to go down to the landing or the proximity of it.
After a careful examination of the place, the railings, ropes etc and weighing all the evidence which I could secure, I am of opinion that the most likely explanation of the disappearance of the men is that they had all gone down on the afternoon of Saturday, 15 December to the proximity of the West landing, to secure the box with the mooring ropes, etc and that an unexpectedly large roller had come up on the Island, and a large body of water going up higher than where they were and coming down upon them had swept them away with resistless force.”
This seems like a logical conclusion. There was a violent storm, and Ducat and Marshall grabbed their oil skinned coats and raced down to the landing to secure the box to prevent it from being washed away. Because one man was supposed to be left at the lighthouse at all times, McArthur was left behind. As a newcomer to the island, he would be less familiar with the way the box was secured, so leaving him behind made the most sense.
McArthur must have heard the men calling for help, and in a panic rushed out without his coat to help them. By the time he reached the area where the box was kept, the men were gone, having been taken out to sea by a tremendous wave. A second wave then hit and carried McArthur away.
But not everyone at the Northern Lighthouse Board agreed. Why had none of the bodies washed ashore? Why had one of the men left without his coat in the middle of the frigid Outer Hebrides winter? And how could three experienced seamen all be taken unawares by an approaching wave?
At first glance, Muirhead’s conclusion does make sense; but there are problems with his theory, the biggest being weather. There were no reports of storms or giant waves on December 15 anywhere near the Eilean Mòr.
There was some speculation that the men might have been swept away on December 20, the day that a terrific gale caused a considerable amount of damage all over Scotland, and even wrecked part of the Shetland fishing fleet. But from all accounts, the lighthouse went dark on December 15 when the weather was calm, and it remained that way until the Hesperus dropped Moore and his crew off on December 26.
This timeline is extremely important, because if the storm hit the island five days after the lighthouse went dark, then it had nothing at all to do with the men’s disappearance. If the Hesperus had arrived prior to the storm, Moore would have found a perfectly intact island. There would have been no bent railings, and no turf torn away from the top of the cliff. Nor would there have been a one-ton boulder lying on the railway path, and no damaged box of rope. The landscape would have looked as it always had–windswept, beautiful, and serene–and the investigation of the missing three men would certainly have been looked at in an entirely different light.
Although Muirhead ultimately blamed a huge wave for the lighthouse keepers’ deaths, the majority of his report talks about damage done to the west landing by a violent storm; one strong enough to bend steel railings and dislodge a one ton stone. So which was it? A wave that inexplicably rose up in good weather and washed the men away? Or a wave caused by a huge storm that caused a considerable amount of damage to the west landing?
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say a freak storm that only affected the Flannan Islands was to blame for the men’s disappearance. All three lighthouse keepers were experienced seamen. If a storm did suddenly hit the island, they certainly wouldn’t have risked their lives by rushing out into it just to protect a box of mooring rope. They knew that the supply ship was due in five days, so there would have been no reason for them to do this.
Since there was no storm on December 15, we’re left with an odd scenario. Ducat and Marshall go down to the west landing to secure a box of rope in calm weather. They are suddenly taken unawares by a huge wave and washed out to sea. For some reason, McArthur runs out without his coat in a panic in an attempt to rescue them. It’s a complete mystery how he could have known that the men needed help since they were working below the level of the cliff, which meant that they couldn’t be seen from the lighthouse. Nor could McArthur have heard their cries for help since they were too far away. Nonetheless, in this scenario McArthur rushes down the railway tracks, when suddenly another tremendous wave rises up and sweeps him away.
This simply doesn’t add up. These were experienced seamen, and they had been on the island for nearly a year. They were well aware of wave activity both on the ocean and around the island. A wave big enough to rise up well over 110 feet from sea level would have been clearly visible to them from where they were working long before it reached them. What’s more, waves that size would have also been detected on the mainland, but none were reported on December 15, or any other day.
What about the bodies that were never recovered? Studies have shown that a dead body can remain intact in ocean water for up to three weeks. Though bodies rise and fall to the surface due to decomposition gasses, they generally remain on the surface for several days. It is very uncommon for a person to drown close to the shoreline, and their body never to be washed ashore. And it goes without saying that it’s almost impossible to have three bodies drown together, and not one is ever washed ashore.
Some think that the men somehow drowned, and that their bodies were blown out to sea by strong winds. But Muirhead’s report stated that on the 15th, the wind was blowing toward the shore rather than out to sea. Since the wind was blowing toward the shore, the men’s bodies would have been washed ashore rather than taken out to sea. The strong storm on December 20 might have dislodged the bodies from the shore or from the cliff. But even then, at least one body should have washed back onto the shore at some point.
Since 1900, many theories have come and gone, most fueled by false information that over the years has become accepted as fact. For example, you will usually read that Moore entered the lighthouse and found an overturned chair, and uneaten food on the table, as if the three men leapt up suddenly in the middle of a meal and rushed out of the lighthouse. But Moore stated in his report that he found the kitchen to be neat and clean.
So where did this other version of the event come from? From a poem called Flannan Isle about the lighthouse keeper’s disappearance that was published in 1912. The poem was written by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, and one stanza reads:
Yet, as we crowded through the door
We only saw a table, spread
For dinner, meat and cheese and bread;
But, all untouched; and no one there:
As though, when they sat down to eat,
Ere they could even taste,
Alarm had come; and they in haste
Had risen and left the bread and meat:
For at the table-head a chair
Lay tumbled on the floor.
Another piece of totally false information that continues to be circulated is that there were mysterious entries in the light house logbook. The entries written in Thomas Marshall’s handwriting supposedly read:
December 12 - Gale north by northwest. Sea lashed to fury. Never seen such a storm. Waves very high. Tearing at lighthouse. Everything shipshape. James Ducat irritable (Later that same day) Storm still raging, wind steady. Stormbound. Cannot go out. Ship passing sounding foghorn. Could see lights of cabins. Ducat quiet. Donald McArthur crying.
December 13 - Storm continued through night. Wind shifted west by north. Ducat quiet. McArthur praying. (Later that same day) Noon, grey daylight. Me, Ducat and McArthur prayed.
December 14 - No entry
December 15 - 1pm. Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all
The truth is, these log entries are totally fictional. They first showed up in print in 1965 in a book by Vincent Gaddis called Invisible Horizons. In it, he said that he got the log text from a 1929 piece by Ernest Fallon in True Strange Stories. But that piece also proved to be a work of fiction. For the record, the real logbook went missing during the 1901 inquiry into the mens’ disappearance.
When we put this false information aside, and if we consider Muirhead’s theory about the missing men being washed away by huge waves as being improbable, we’re left with the very real possibility that foul play may have played a hand in the mystery of the missing lighthouse keepers.
There’s an often overlooked section of Muirhead’s report that seems to suggest that one or more of the men were planning something. In his report Muirhead wrote:
“I may explain that signals are shown from Flannan Islands by displaying balls or discs on each side of the Tower on poles projecting out from the Lighthouse balcony; the signals being differentiated by one or more discs being shown on the different sides of the Tower.
When at Flannan Islands so lately as 7th December last, I had a conversation with the late Mr Ducat regarding the signals, and he stated that he wished it would be necessary to hoist one of the signals, just to ascertain how soon it would be seen ashore and how soon it would be acted upon.”
Muirhead considered Ducat’s suggestion, but after discussing it with other officials he considered it to be impractical, as the view of the island from the mainland was sometimes obscured by fog. He also didn’t want the keepers’ families worried by a distress signal that might not be seen until long after it was posted.
So, just eight days before the men’s disappearance, Ducat asked for permission to test how long it would take someone to reach the island if a distress signal was hoisted up onto the tower. This seems extremely odd, and more than a little suspicious given the eventual turn of events.
Could Ducat have been planning on killing the other two lighthouse keepers, then sending up a distress signal to make it look as if the men had died in an accident? When Muirhead shot down the idea of using signals on the tower, did he kill the men and bury them somewhere on the island? This would explain why the bodies never washed up on the shore.
One problem with any theory involving murder is that there wasn’t a boat on the island that anyone could escape in. At least, none that anyone knew of. But it’s possible that one could have been bought from a passing ship and secured somewhere out of sight.
There are those that believe that all three men staged their own disappearance, and that they had an accomplice who picked them up in a boat. Ducat and McArthur both had families, but we don't know what their home lives were like or if they had financial troubles. Could the three of them simply have left the island and made their way for the mainland, then started a new life somewhere else? It’s certainly possible. We hear modern day stories of this very thing happening all the time.
Some believe that insanity may have played a part in the men’s disappearance. In the nineteenth century, lighthouse keepers suffered a unusually high frequency of madness and suicide compared to other professions. It was long assumed that they went mad from solitude, but new research suggests that they were literally being poisoned by the lighthouse itself.
In order for the powerful light to show on all sides of the tower, it was necessary for it to rotate smoothly and at a consistent speed. This was accomplished by floating the light on a circular track filled with liquid mercury. When dust and dirt built up in the mercury, the lighthouse keepers would strain it through a fine cloth. So like hatters of the day, lighthouse keepers were probably being driven mad by constant exposure to mercury fumes.
Everyone assumes that McArthur was the last one out of the lighthouse because his coat was left behind. But what if he went mad and ran out without his coat, and the other two men grabbed theirs and ran after him? Maybe they knew of his mental state, and they were trying to prevent him from killing himself. Perhaps, in their effort to save him from jumping off one of the cliffs all three men went over. Or, maybe McArthur killed both of them, then leapt to his death.
The truth is, we simply don’t know what happened to the lighthouse keepers that day, and we probably never will. But whether it was a gigantic wave that swallowed the three men into the sea, a murderous plot, or an act of madness, one thing is for certain; the disappearance of the Eilean Mor lighthouse keepers remains one of the most baffling unsolved mysteries of the Twentieth Century.
Because so much lore and superstition surrounds the lighthouse keepers’ disappearance, writers and filmmakers have adapted the story in many different ways. The 2018 movie “The Vanishing” used it as a setting for murder and greed, and various writers have put their own spin on the mystery.
Whenever anyone vanishes without a trace our imaginations begin to run wild. It’s human nature to want to solve a mystery, if for no other reason than to make sure that such a thing doesn’t happen again. But for a writer, a mystery presents a challenge; to come up with a unique solution to the problem. So to end this journey I’ll leave you with my own twisted tale about the disappearance of the Eilean Mor Lighthouse keepers.
Before This Dreamless Sleep by Barry Pirro
“Do you think he knows?” Marshall whispered, “Could he have overheard us?”
“You know as well as I do,” Ducat said, “the man’s a lummox. He don’t know a thing. And we never talk about it when he’s nearby. He’s as dumb as a blind babe he is.”
“But he’s not,” Marshall said. “He’s not stupid. You know what he is! You know what he did. And to get away with it for this long; starting a new life with a wife and kids. I’m telling you, he’s shrewd. He’ll be on to us, I know he will.”
Ducat gazed into the fire. “Keep your voice down. I know what the man did,” Ducat said softly, “and I know what he is. He’s a monster, he is. We both read the journal, and I remember it in the papers like it was yesterday. No one’s safe with the likes of him around. No man, and certainly no woman. Which is why we have to do it today.”
“Why don’t we report him to the authorities?” Marshal said. “Let them take care of him.”
“I’m the authority on this island,” Ducat said, slamming his fist on the table. “I’m the authority. Get that through your skull. There’ll be no trial where he might get off. No chance he might escape. This ends now.”
“All the same,” Marshall said, “I think we should wait. Moore will be here in five days. That’s just not enough time.“
“Enough time?” Ducat said with a dark laugh. “Enough time for what? It don’t take more than ‘Donnie, come and have a little look-see over here’ to get the job done. It’s not like the man can fly, you know. The five days before Moore gets back is more than enough time to let nature take care of what’ll be left of the sod. Between the gulls, the fish, the crabs, and the tides, you won’t be able to tell Donnie from a dead seal.”
“But that’s the problem,” Marshall said, “How do we explain it if we don’t haul him up afterward?”
“If Muirhead had let me put signals on the lighthouse to let the folks on the mainland think there was a problem, we’d do that,” Ducat said. “But without that as our cover we have to do it different, that’s all. Its’ better this way anyway. The less left of the bastard the better. When Moore gets here we just say Donnie went missing, and that we searched and searched for him. By the time they find him, it’ll look like he fell off the cliff by accident. That’ll be that and the world will be a safer place, believe you me.”
They heard the outer door of the keeper’s house open then shut, and Marshall went over to the fireplace and pretended to tend the fire. McArthur came in, his hair tousled and wet with mist, and his eyes red and watering from the wind.
“Damn it’s cold,” he said, coming into the kitchen still wearing his oilskin. “Hey Tommy, put some more coal on the fire. The wind’s whippin up a fury out there and I’m chilled to the bone.”
“Did you get that box tied up?” Ducat asked. “I don’t want it bustin’ up against the rocks.”
“I tried, but the wind’s too strong for me to do it alone,” McArther said. “I’m gonna need one of you to help me with it. We should get it done right away. You said yourself a gale is on its way. There’s no knowing how bad it’ll be.”
Marshall turned slightly and eyed Ducat as McArther made his way to the fireplace. Ducat rose from his chair. “I guess it’ll have to be me helpin’ you out, Donnie-boy. Tom’s got to get the light ready. Dark’s comin’ on fast.”
McArthur turned around slowly. “The name is Donald, Mr. Ducat. Donald. Not ‘Donnie-boy’.”
“Oh, excuse me. Well, Donald it is then,” said Ducat with a slight smile. “Tommy, you stay here while I go and help Mr. Donald McArthur tend to that box. Or, would you rather I call you Mr. Marshall?” he added with a laugh. “Be back in two shakes.”
The two men left the kitchen and closed the door behind them. Before heading outside Ducat grabbed his oilskin from the hook near the front door, then he and McArthur headed out into the fading afternoon toward the west landing. As the two made their way across the field, a storm far out to sea sent tendrils of lightning dancing on the ocean’s horizon, as if bright spidery hands were caressing the edges of the earth.
Back at the lighthouse, Marshall paced the kitchen nervously. Wind battered against the keeper's house. The boards on the siding creaked, and the wind moaned overhead in the lamp room. The clock on the far wall ticked steadily, and seemed to grow louder as the minutes passed.
After ten minutes Marshall finally heard the back door open, then shut with a bang. There was the sound of a coat being removed and hung up on the peg near the door, then the kitchen door opened.
Marshall looked up and started to say, “Is it done?” but stopped in mid sentence as McArthur walked into the room, brushing his fingers through his damp hair.
“God it’s cold out there,” he said. “Better get your gear on. Ducat wants you to help him down by the landing. We tried to get the box off the crane, but it’s stuck and he thinks you’d do a better job at it. Or in his own words, ‘McArthur, you’re about as useful as a tits on a bull. Send Marshall out here.’”
McArthur laughed and moved over to the stove and put the kettle on. “You’d better get moving. He’s in a foul mood. I’ll make a pot of tea for the three of us. It’ll be ready when you get back. You shouldn’t be long.”
Marshall headed toward the hallway door. ‘Ducat must have lost his nerve,’ he thought. ‘Or maybe he has a new plan. I just wish this was over.’ He headed down the hallway and grabbed his oilskin off the hook.
“Go and get the light ready,” Marshall said. “If we’re not back soon, start it up. The last thing we need is for the light to go out with a gale heading our way.” He opened the door, headed out into the darkening afternoon, then pulled the door shut behind him.
McArthur counted to ten, then headed for the back door. He put his oilskin on. He’d be needing it with the wind starting to blow as it was. He opened the door, grabbed the length of pipe used to prop it open in the summer months, then headed out into the fading light, all the while whistling the tune of an old sea shanty.
When he got back fifteen minutes later, he was soaked to the skin. Both men now lay at the bottom of the cliff. Ducat had put up a fight, but in the end he lost his footing and went over so fast he didn’t have time to scream. Marshall was no problem at all. The wind was blowing so strong that he never heard McArthur coming up behind him. He later reflected on how satisfying the sound of the pipe hitting Tommy’s skull was. ‘Just like a ripe melon hitting a stone floor,’ he thought.
McArthur climbed to the top of the tower and started the light, then set it in motion for all the world to see. He tidied up the kitchen, then went into the sleeping quarters and made up Ducat and Marshall’s beds. The wind was loud. A superstitious man might have been frightened alone on the island on a night like this, but not McArthur. He calmly sat on the edge of his bed, took out his journal, and began a new entry.
December 14, 1900 - I wondered how Ducat and Marshall would react when they read about my adventures. I left this book out for them to see, as if I had forgotten to tuck it under my pillow. There was always a chance they wouldn’t read it, but we all know human nature, and how curiosity killed the cat. I hope they also enjoyed the newspaper clippings. Every time I read them, it brings back fond memories.
This island is a long way from London, and twelve years is a very long time. Though these two weren’t pretty like my five young Whitechaple lassies, playing cat and mouse with the boys was such fun! Listening in at windows and seeing their glances at one another day after day; it was all I could do to keep a straight face.
Now Jack’s a happy boy again! My knife's so nice and sharp, I want to get to work first thing in the morning. But first I’ll have a shave and a change of clothes – the priestly disguise I’d stashed away for when I reach the mainland. I’ll put fuel in the light, and hang my oilskin coat on its peg to keep everyone guessing, then I’ll take my two keepers for a little ride in the rowboat I’d hidden on the far side of the island. The old fishermen that passed by on the trawler helped with that. Money talks, you know. And the same gentleman who sold me the boat will pick me up this afternoon. Poor man. It’s a pity he won’t live long enough to see me off. It’s a good thing I know how to pilot a trawler.
Tomorrow, Ducat and Marshall will sit quiet as two dead church mice, and I’ll row and row until the lighthouse is just a speck in the distance, then I’ll spend a pleasant morning feeding the fishies with their stinking innards. I know the papers will never give me credit for these two, but I don’t mind. After all, a Ripper by any other name is still The Ripper.
McArthur put down his pen and stored his journal in his bag. He climbed into bed, pulled the covers over him, then turned out the light. He had a smile on his face, and not a care in the world. The last thought he had before his dreamless sleep began was, ‘My god, It’s good to be back!’