by Jess Nevins
(with thanks to Win, Dennis, Mark and Michael for suggestions which improved he article)
This is the fourth in a series of articles derived from a diary, found in Angleton, Texas, detailing a previously-unknown set of relations to the Wold Newton Family.
While assembling MN's copious notes on a Wold Newton-related family of America's Old West, I was shocked to receive, in the mail, a packet from MN himself! It seems that he had read my summation of his notes on the Carters and approved of it, enough so that he did me the courtesy of forwarding his most recent research to me. MN would not discuss, in his cover note, where he was, and the return address on the packet was smudged and illegible, so I am unable to verify MN's current whereabouts. However, judging from the stamps on the packet, he is somewhere in the Near East, perhaps conducting research in the Archives of the Krak de Chevalier, or the Forbidden City of Qom.
Part 4: "This shadow hanging over me is no trick of the light"
MN's story begins centuries ago, during the reign of England's King Charles I (1600-1649). In the year 1637 Charles was faced with several crises. He had dissolved Parliament in 1629, and the outcry from the common people and the English noblemen had grown louder every year, so that in 1637 it was near-deafening. He had little support for his political goals from those noblemen, not least because of his belief in the divine right of kings and his marked unwillingness to compromise on any of the political or religious reforms that the former members of Parliament had demanded. The Chancellor of the Exchequer faced continual shortfalls in funding, so that many of Charles' dearest projects were all but impossible to achieve or even begin. Earlier in the year he had imposed a revision of the Prayer Book on the Scottish Kirk (Church); this new, "Laudian" form was seen by the Scots as a subversion of God's words and the foisting upon them of "Popery and superstition." This revision acted as the catalyst for the Scottish rebellion in 1639, and from there to the victory of Oliver Cromwell and Charles' death. But in 1637 all that could be seen and heard were the angry words and midnight assaults of affronted Scotsmen.
Charles, intent on his pet project, building a new royal palace at Whitehall to rival the Louvre or the Escorial, could ill-afford these many distractions, and so when he was approached by an upset noblemen demanding that he be appointed "Ambassador Extraordinary" to Constantinople, Charles agreed. The Ottoman Empire was in a state of great upset, with Emperor Murad IV fighting a war against the Persians to retake Baghdad. Charles no doubt saw an opportunity to gain trade advantages and what would now be seen as good p.r. by sending an Ambassador to Constantinople to forge an alliance. The Battle of Lepanto was over sixty years previous and the war with Venice seven years in the future; relations between Muslims and the English had thawed enough for a desultory trade to develop. Charles seems to have thought that a new treaty, one advantageous to England and the Crown (Murad, campaigning in Persia, would have neither the time nor the energy to devote to the treaty to make it more than adequate for his own purposes), would boost his popularity at home.
The nobleman, unfortunately, is one of the minor mysteries of recorded history. We know of him because of his biographer, but even she was unable to cast light on the darkened areas of his life. His name was Orlando, and he was extraordinarily long-lived. He first comes to notice as the particular favorite of Queen Elizabeth I--more than a favorite, in fact, if contemporary rumors are to be believed.1
Accounts of his childhood and early years are spotty at best, and all that can be ascertained with a certainty is that he approached Charles with his request following an unsuccessful love affair with Arch-Duchess Harriet Griselda of Finster-Aarhorn and Scand-op-Boom in the Roumanian territory.
What occurred in Constantinople following his arrival there, however, remains obscure. To quote from Orlando's biographer,
It is, indeed, highly unfortunate, and much to be regretted that at this stage of Orlando's career, when he played a most important part in the public life of his country, we have least information to go upon. We know that he discharged his duties to admiration—witness his Bath and his Dukedom. We know that he had a finger in some of the most delicate negotiations between King Charles and the Turks—to that, treaties in the vault of the Record Office bear testimony. But the revolution which broke out during his period of office, and the fire which followed, have so damaged or destroyed all those papers from which any trustworthy record could be drawn, that what we can give is lamentably incomplete. Often the paper was scorched a deep brown in the middle of the most important sentence. Just when we thought to elucidate a secret that has puzzled historians for a hundred years, there was a hole in the manuscript big enough to put your finger through. We have done our best to piece out a meagre summary from the charred fragments that remain; but often it has been necessary to speculate, to surmise, and even to make use of the imagination.This account, and especially its final sentence, will resonate with anyone who has tried to research the tangled history of the Wold Newton Family.
Orlando seems to have completed the treaty, for in 1638 Murad abolished the Ottoman tribute in Christian children, a significant victory for the English. At some point following the signing of the treaty, after the end of Ramadan, the Order of the Bath and the title of Duke (which Dukedom is not clear) were conferred on Orlando, and a frigate, commanded by Sir Adrian Scrope, arrived in Constantinople to deliver these to him. The British Embassy was host to an enormous party, a masque of proportions unknown to Constantinople, full of the nobility and politicians stationed in Constantinople at that time. At midnight a salute by the Ottoman Imperial Body Guard was staged, and Orlando acknowledged the salute and received the Star and Collar of the Most Noble Order of the Bath. The masque ended at 2 A.M., and Orlando retired, to be joined an hour later by a woman.
This woman, Penelope Hartopp, daughter of the General of the same name, achieved what so many other English and Ottoman woman of Constantinople had desired and schemed for in vain: an evening of love with Orlando. She vanished from his room that morning, enceinte. He lapsed into a coma, and a week later awoke as a woman, his sex somehow changed.
Orlando's personal history following this event is irrelevant to MN's article; those interested in him may read his biography for further information.2It is Ms. Hartopp who we will now follow. She was visiting Constantinople with friends and family on a “mind-broadening” trip, although it might be wondered at the “coincidence” of her uncle removing her from harm’s way in England at the same time that events in England were reaching a climax. Ms. Hartopp was originally scheduled to spend only a few weeks in the Mediterranean before returning home to Leicestershire. Instead she stayed in the city for an additional year. It is clear that once her pregnancy became known to her guardians they kept her in Constantinople rather than having her "shame" become known in London.
Her child was left at a local orphanage and she and her guardians fled the scene, never to return. Her child Hassan, who combined the attractiveness of Orlando with the physical hardiness of the Hartopp line, grew quickly and by age 18 was a physical marvel. Hassan enlisted in the forces of Mohammed Kiuprili, the Grand Vizir from 1656-1661, and was at the forefront of the effort to rein in the Janissairies and execute those army commanders that Kiuprili found “incompetent.” Hassan distinguished himself afterwards under Mohammed Kiuprili’s son, Ahmed Kiuprili, the Grand Vizir from 1661-1678. Hassan won numerous commendations for his actions in the wars against Austria, Poland, and Russia. He was a standout in the Battle of St. Gotthard, the sieges of Candia and Vienna, and the battle of Slankamen (1691), in which he died protecting Grand Vizir Mustafa Kiuprili.
Hassan was also a sadist, glorying in the torture and execution of Christian prisoners, the maltreatment of Christian women, and the kidnaping of Christian children. It might be said that this was customary among Ottomans and for the time period, and that he was no worse (or better) than Christian warriors. But Hassan seems to have been notable even by the standards of the day, and unfortunately this cruelty left its mark. Although it disappeared in some of his descendants, it ultimately returned in full force, much to the sadness of many.
Unfortunately, a gap of evidence exists between Hassan and the other figures in MN’s notes, and although there is substantial circumstantial evidence to link them, there is no direct evidence, and attempts to acquire an exhumation of Ms. Hartopp for DNA testing have been denied.3
MN skips ahead two centuries, to the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II (1876-1909). This was a time of great unrest in the Ottoman Empire, with government by law and Constitution being established and then taken away, a time of insurrections, terrorist acts, rampant crime and corruption, and the development of the Young Turk Movement. Although it is little known in the West, the Sultan did employ certain extraordinary individuals to help him in the fight against crime and various violent terrorists and insurrectionists. One of these men was Gavur Memet (1841-?), an enormously capable man who was extremely successful in his role as special agent to the Sultan and whose feats spawned numerous folk legends and even, it is said, attracted the attention of certain agents of the British government.
Most of Memet's feats remain classified by the Turkish government and were unavailable to MN. The secrets of Memet's personal life have not been kept nearly so discrete, however,4and MN was able to discover the names of his children, all four of whom led notable lives.
The first, Avni (1877-?) did not enter the police force as his father did, but instead used the money that his father left him (through an anonymous gift) on attaining his majority to become a "consulting investigator," what we in the West might call a private detective. By 1912 Avni was well-established in Constantinople as "Merciless Avni," the best private investigator in the city and one who always got his man (or woman). There is some indication that Avni rendered service even to the Grand Vizir, and that during World War One he worked for, or ran, the Vizir’s intelligence service, dueling with British and Russian spies in Constantinople. MN was unable to discover more than a passing reference to Avni's single recorded defeat, at the hands of British adventurer Richard Hannay and the American spy "John Blenkiron"5in 1916. Avni's heyday as investigator was from 1912 to 1920, after which he fades from the public eye and newspapers of Constantinople and so perforce must also from our pages.
Memet's second child, Zihni (1890-?), followed his brother's path (although there is no indication that they knew of their shared parentage) and became a private investigator, using a gift (again anonymous) from his father to establish his firm in Constantinople in the mid-teens. By 1922 his reputation as a devious and masterful detective was secure and he had supplanted Avni in the mind of the Turkish public and government as the foremost consulting detective of Constantinople. "Quickwitted Zihni" was extremely active from 1922 to 1928, with nearly 40 recorded cases, all completed successfully. His use of disguises and advanced (for the day) science, and his superior intelligence, led him to victory in every case. But, like his step-brother, Zihni also disappears from the public record, and MN was unable to find any evidence of his existence after 1929.
Memet's third child, Orhan Çakiroglu (1890-?), entered the police force, following his father's model (although it must be said that there's no solid evidence that he knew for certain of his father's identity. He worked his way up through the ranks of the Constantinople police, and by the late 1930s and early 1940s was solving a number of surprisingly violent cases.
Memet's fourth child, Meshedi (1891-?), was officially adopted by Gavur and raised as his own child. Gavur trained Meshedi in all the skills that he had learned fighting crime, and instilled a love of justice in his son. Meshedi, on graduating from school, decided to become a policeman, to best serve the public. As with Memet’s other children Meshedi received a sizeable monetary gift once he became an adult. Meshedi used his father's money to support himself while he worked in Constantinople (later Istanbul) as a policeman. Thus shielded, he was able to resist the many attempts at bribery and corruption proffered to him and to rise through the ranks quickly, using his intelligence and the training his father gave him to solve the crimes he encountered. Meshedi was active as a police sergeant and later detective from the mid-1920s through the beginning of World War Two, after which time he disappeared. He was known, in Istanbul, as "Honest Meshedi," a term of praise rarely given by the average Turk to the police of Istanbul during that time; the common men and women in Istanbul saw him as a man of unimpeachable integrity, and loved him for it.
Meshedi, however, had one momentary moral blemish, a spot on his escutcheon, although he successfully kept it a secret from everyone at the time. He cheated on his wife. It only happened the once, in 1931, but that one slip led to no small amount of misery, both in Turkey and around the world.
Meshedi seems to have been called in to investigate a poisoning case. A wealthy British businessman, Evelyn Windsor, visiting Istanbul with his daughter Vivian, fell sick and died while visiting the local baths. Meshedi was called in to investigate and discovered a curious entry wound along his left shoulder blade. The wound was quite small, but it was visible, and had left a surprising amount of blood. This led Meshedi to order an autopsy, which revealed that the businessman had been poisoned with the venom of a hamadryad.
While investigating the crime Meshedi became romantically involved with Vivian. The closer he came to tracking down the poisoner the more insistent Vivian became that he leave Istanbul with her. After substantial legwork Meshedi discovered that Vivian had met with a local representative of the dreaded criminal organization the Si Fan. From there it was a simple thing to determine that the goal of the Si Fan and their mysterious leader was the death of Vivian's father, a heavy contributor to the British Labour Party, and that they had paid Vivian to see that this was done. (Vivian had not disposed of the billfold of British pounds, and instead had carelessly stuck it among her belongings)
MN spoke with one of the policemen who assisted Meshedi on this case, and has confirmed that when Meshedi confronted Vivian with this she tried to kill him and then, when that failed, told him that she was pregnant by him. Neither attempt to dissuade him from justice worked, and she was convicted of murder and imprisoned in 1932. She gave birth to Aynur late in 1931. Vivian escaped from prison in 1938 and, having learned her lesson, never again left any evidence behind that might link her to her crimes. The only thing she left behind her, from that point forward, were bodies, as she became the infamous "Vivian LeGrand," the "Lady from Hell," a criminal mastermind and adventuress, poisoner, blackmailer, and thief.
Meshedi seems to have been ashamed, as much for letting himself be seduced by a woman involved in a case he was working on as for cheating on his wife. Aynur was put in to one of the city orphanages and raised as a ward of the state, although Meshedi was diligent about sending the orphanage money. She left the orphanage at age 18, intending to become an actress, but she had little luck gaining stage or screen roles, and by 1954 was reduced to belly-dancing for Western tourists. It was then that she met her future husband, and and following a whirlwind romance was married to him, with a child following some months afterwards.
Aynur's husband is of extremely distinguished lineage, and to adequately describe it we must lay aside Aynur's story for the moment. We will return to it anon, however.
In the early 1890s an amateur investigator named "Victor" set up practice in Cologne. The exact dates of his practice are unknown, as is the extent of his stay in Cologne, but it is known that by New Year's Eve 1892 (or perhaps 1893; the notes MN is relying upon are unclear on this point) "Victor" was an accepted part of the city. He was well-respected by both the police of the city as well as its upper classes. He had a remarkable success rate at solving crimes. He was tall, thin, possessed of a pronounced nose and close only to one man, who was continually dumbfounded (as, it should be said, were the rest of the men and women of Cologne) by "Victor"'s erudition, his skills of detection, and his ability to accurately deduce vast amounts of information about a person simply by looking at them. "Victor" often traveled and treated his rooms in Cologne more as a way station than as living quarters, and by early 1894 he was gone for good from Cologne, his rooms once again being let and his best and only friend left feeling deserted.
If "Victor" sounds familiar, it is for a reason. MN has narrowed down his true identity to either of two men: Sherlock Holmes or Sexton Blake. Both men shared the characteristics of “Victor,” and the personal histories of both Blake and Holmes have large holes in them from 1890 to 1893. Holmes, of course, was presumed dead by English society during this time, the "Great Hiatus," and he was traveling abroad, enjoying the relative freedom from responsibility. But, as with his joust in 1892 with Adolphus Zecchino and his trip to "Wonderland" in 1893, Holmes never felt himself totally liberated from stopping criminals and evil, and it is entirely in character that he should temporarily work in Cologne. For Blake’s part, he did not begin work in London as a consulting detective until late in 1893, and his early adventures, as recorded by “Hal Meredith,” contain several chronological gaps.
It would be in character for either of them to have become involved with a local woman. Neither Holmes nor Blake were committed bachelors, regardless of what their companions and literary agents wished the Victorian public to believe. It is a demonstrable fact that Holmes was involved with Irene Adler and fathered two children on her, and it has been shown elsewhere that Holmes became romantically involved with other women. Blake’s marital status has long been a subject of dispute among historians; his literary agent let slip the existence of a “Mrs. Blake,” but so far no one has been able to discover who this woman might be. Blake’s relations with some of his female clients and enemies, including Olga Nasmyth, the “Girl of Destiny,” and the spy “Mademoiselle Yvonne,” seemed much closer than simply business-like.
And it makes sense, from a psychological standpoint, that both gentlemen would use their time in Cologne to explore freedoms not so easily available in Victorian society, freedoms that involved women.
While in Cologne “Victor” was briefly involved with one Anna Lugoff, a respected concert violinist. Her diary–or at least the pages MN was good enough to forward to me–reveal that she consulted with “Victor” on a case and immediately recognised him as Sherlock Holmes. (This would undoubtedly have either enraged or flattered Blake, had he known of it) She made a conscious decision to seduce him. For his part he was initially amused but acceded to it; Anna was young, beautiful, learned, witty, and excellent company. The relationship proceeded for a month, and was developing well, when Anna suddenly broke it off. According to her diary she had determined that she was pregnant and realized that if she informed “Victor” of this he would feel duty-bound to remain in Cologne. Anna felt that she could not have that on her conscience, as the world needed him more than she did. The thoughts of Holmes or Blake on this remain unknown.
Lugoff returned to her native Berlin and gave birth to twins, supported by her earnings as a performer and her parents' largesse. The first son, Jurgen, entered the Berlinischer Polytechnicum and graduated with advanced degrees in physics and archaeology. After commanding his own unit in France during WW1 Jurgen briefly returned to Germany before emigrating to the United States, where he carried out a series of experiments designed to prove the Simesian "Hollow Earth" theory. In 1935 his efforts were rewarded when he discovered a fantastic kingdom beneath the surface of the Earth. With the help of his two young assistants, Matt Haynes and Don Dixon, Jurgen ventured to this land, which he called "Pharia." Their exploits there and on returning to the surface were chronicled by Carl Pfeufer.
Interestingly, "Pharia" is a transliteration of "ffar-yia," the word in the language of the Xexot people for "Pellucidar," the subterranean land explored by David Innes, Abner Perry, Lord Greystoke, and Jason Gridley. The only conclusion that can be reached is that Jurgen, Haynes and Dixon explored a so-far unchronicled section of Pellucidar, perhaps in the company of one of the Xexots.
Jurgen's life after 1941 is a mystery. It may be that, like the Japanese and Italians in America at the time of America's entry into World War Two, he was interned, and died in the camps. Or, perhaps, he was offered a job with the American government. MN has so far been unable to determine his final fate.
Anna Lugoff's second child, Arno, joined a military academy in Dusseldorf, acquired a scar in a dueling match at age 16, and entered the German army at age 18. He quickly drew notice from the officers for his superior eye-hand coordination, his intelligence, and his dignified bearing. Arno was transferred into the air force, and at the beginning of hostilities volunteered for combat duty. Arno became one of the most feared aces of World War One, shooting down 66 Allied pilots before finally being shot down and captured at Ypres in 1918. (The man who bested him--the only pilot to do so--was the dreaded Black Eagle)
After the war Arno initially took to crime and had several memorable mid-air battles with, among others, Tommy Tomkins, Jack Martin, and, most often, the American adventurer and pilot Rick "Scorchy" Smith. Eventually, however, Arno was convinced to leave crime and wrongdoing behind him, and he became Smith's best friend and wingman.6
It was while flying with Smith that Arno first met the blonde adventuress Mickey Lafarge. Mickey first clashed with Smith and Arno, then began romancing Smith, but she was finally won over by Arno's courage and greatness of heart, and they married in 1936. Arno and Mickey fought for the Allies during WW2, and afterwards, with their son John, returned to Germany.
John turned 18 in 1954 and, using the money he was given as a graduation present, traveled around the Mediterranean. While in Istanbul he encountered a beautiful Turkish girl. The pair were smitten with each other, after a week-long romance were married. The girl was, of course, Aynur, and as mentioned she gave birth to a child a few months after marrying John Lugoff.
Unfortunately, MN has had little luck in tracking their movements following the birth of their child. In large part this is because the child, as an adult, obscured his origins, erasing all records and making himself extremely hard to find. It is even conceivable that he killed his parents. Even his name is unknown, although his pseudonym is somewhat recognizable, to those who’ve done their research.
This child, who we will call X for the moment, was involved with crime from the very beginning, although only two events can be confirmed with any degree of certainty. By his early twenties he was involved in an opium-smuggling operation in Constantinople. In 1977 a Hungarian gang, attempting to wrest control of the drug ring from X, attacked his home, raped his wife, and threatened to kill his children unless X turned control of the operation over to them. X reportedly killed his own wife and children rather than have them used against him in that matter. He then killed all but one of the Hungarian gang and went on a campaign of terror. In the words of one possible witness,
He lets the last Hungarian go, and he goes running. He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground and he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone. Underground. No one has ever seen him again. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night.It was following the murder of his family that X began his meteoric rise to power. Within a decade he had become one of the most powerful crime lords in the world.
The second event which can be confirmed occurred in 1995, when X settled affairs with a man set to betray him and with five American thieves who had indirectly stolen from him in the past. The exact details of X’s revenge remain unclear–the files have been sealed by the New York City police and by the F.B.I.–but the end result was twenty-seven corpses and an exploding ship on a New York City pier.
X’s name, the one he was known to criminals and certain crimefighters alike as, was “Keyser Soze.” However, a moment’s reflection reveals this to be an obvious pseudonym, and MN’s investigations have revealed a disturbing fact.
Consider his name. Although the common spelling of his first name is “Keyser,” it is obvious that the name X actually chose for himself is “Kaiser,” a title befitting his role as a pre-eminent crime lord. His last name, “Soze,” is slightly more challenging. “Soze” is meaningless in Turkish, X’s putative background. Likewise, in German “Soze” has no meaning. However, “sozi” does have a meaning in German. It is pronounced the same as “soze,” and so we may reasonably assume that it is “sozi,” and not “soze,” which X took as his last name.
“Sozi,” in German, means “Red” or “Communist.” X’s chosen name, roughly translated, is “Kaiser of Communists.”
The implication is clear. X was motivated
by more than mere greed and pride in his drive to become a crimelord, and
SPECTRE had good reason not to eliminate him as an unwelcome rival. X was
not just a Capo of a world-wide crime network, responsible for hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of deaths every year by murder, drugs and prostitution.
X was a top agent for the Soviet government and for SMERSH (and perhaps
SPECTRE via SMERSH), responsible for helping to destabilize the West through
crime. We might speculate that X went into business on his own following
the fall of the Soviet Union, or that he remains an agent for a SMERSH/Department
V/SPECTRE now independent of the Soviet Union, but we have no way of knowing
for sure, and there are few investigators (MN and myself included) who
are foolhardy enough to press the issue.
1In addition to being quite extraordinarily good-looking and possessed of considerable personal magnetism he had the "best legs in England," according to Nell Gwyn, companion to King Charles.
2According to hir biographer Orlando was, and remains, an immortal, still living and active today. (For obvious reasons MN and I have used the name hir biographer bestowed upon hir, rather than hir real name) How Orlando might have existed for so long, unchanged and eternally youthful, and the cause of hir sex-change, must remain a mystery, although it might be speculated that s/he in some way was given the elixir of immortality by the Eridaneans or the Capelleans.
3 One intriguing possibility exists, however. It is conceivable that the child of Ms. Hartopp and Orlando was either the cousin of Sir John Hartopp (1637?-1722) or Sir John himself. Sir John, a noted nonconformist and political figure in England in the 17th and 18th century, was born of obscure circumstances, and became the Third Baronet of Freeby, in Leicestershire, in 1658. His son, John (1680?-1762), died without issue, and the title became extinct with him. If the figures mentioned in this article could prove descent from Ms. Hartopp it might be that the title and lands could be revived.
4This is due in large part to Memet's fecundity. His three children were fathered on three different women, and it is quite possible that he had further offspring that MN was unable to discover.
5The true identity of "Blenkiron" will be discussed in a future article.
by this time was acting under the name "Heinie Himmelstoss," and it was
by this name that Smith knew him. However, "Heinie" is an anti-German slur,
and "Himmelstoss" means "Heaven-struck." It is clear that Arno was using
a pseudonym, though his reasons for doing so--not wishing to bring shame
to the family name, perhaps?--will remain unknown.
Böttcher, Maximilian. The "Victor"
Buchan, John. Greenmantle (1916)
Burroughs, Edgar R. The "Pellucidar" stories.
Ferguson, Niall, ed. Virtual History (1997)
McQuarrie, Christopher. “The Usual Suspects.” (1995)
Nadir, Hüseyin. The "Zihni" stories.
Pfeufer, Carl, and Bob Moore. "Dash Dixon and the Hidden Empire."
Rohmer, Sax. The "Fu Manchu" stories.
Sakir, Ziya. The "Gavur Memet" stories.
Sami, Ebu-Süreyya. The "Avni" stories.
The "Sexton Blake" stories.
Sickles, Noel. "Scorchy Smith."
Stephen, Sir Leslie, and Sir Sidney Lee, eds. The Dictionary of National Biography (1950).
Talu, Ercüment Ekrem. The "Meshedi" stories.
Thomas, Eugene. The "Vivian LeGrand" stories.
von Horst. Von Horst's Pellucidar.
Woolf, Virginia. Orlando (1928)