A petty thief known as John Smith was arrested for fraudulent behaviour in 1877. He tricked women into thinking he was rich, then stole their belongings and vanished. His guilt was obvious.
In 1852, Adler and Adolf Beck's father died on an expedition to a glacier, and their lives separated. One became a respected climate scientist, one a successful opera singer touring the world. Or so he claimed. But both remained in touch, if only to share the mysterious voices only they could hear.
Charles Ramsey also has a twin. It is 2050, and Greg is a journalist reporting on the climate-change inspired conflicts around the world. When Charles is made redundant from his job as a profiler for the police and sent home with a new experimental chip in his head, he is urged by his brother to explore a little-known aspect of their family history.
All of these people are connected. All of their lives will intersect. And the climate of their world will keep on changing.
Release date: December 12, 2022
Print pages: 320
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Expect Me Tomorrow
The crimes the defendant was charged with were minor, but they had a devastating impact on his alleged victims. Sections of the press took an interest in that, and for a few days the social injustice revealed by the case became a matter of concern. Events moved on, though, and within a few days the criminal was under lock and key and his unhappy victims were forgotten. But for the system of justice the case was to loom large, with a lasting influence on the way criminal trials were heard in British courts.
The importance of the trial lay in the nature of the evidence that was given to convict the man, and his questionable identity.
The year 1877 was the fortieth of the reign of Queen Victoria, widowed by the death of Prince Albert and now living in seclusion. It was the year in which Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake received its initial performance in Moscow, the first lawn tennis championships were held at Wimbledon (delayed by rain), President Rutherford B. Hayes was inaugurated as President of the USA and Thomas Edison invented and patented the phonograph.
The criminal trial was of a man who was accused of fifteen offences, all much the same in detail, and all despicable in motive. His real name was never known to the court, but he called himself ‘John Smith’.
Smith was a confidence trickster and swindler, who preyed on vulnerable women he met on the streets. Most of these women would be described in the word of the day as ‘fallen’. There were many such women in London during the second half of the nineteenth century. A fallen woman was in most cases one whose husband had left her: sometimes inadvertently by his death, or more deliberately by divorce or abandonment. She, blameless, and often with children in her care, would be left with nothing. If she came from the middle classes she would often be disowned by her family. Society would discard her, suspecting immorality or dishonesty. She would resort to desperate measures, somehow finding a place to live and sleep, somehow making enough money to feed herself and her children, somehow maintaining pride in herself, and often surrounded by a few remaining tokens of her past life, which she treasured: a wedding ring, a necklace or earrings, a wristwatch, perhaps even a picture in a frame. John Smith set out deliberately and ruthlessly to cheat these unfortunate women of such harmless mementos.
On May 10th 1877 John Smith was produced from custody at Court No. 1 in the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in London. He appeared before the Common Serjeant, the second most senior judge in London. The Common Serjeant was then Sir Thomas Chambers QC. A jury of twelve ordinary citizens, all men, were empanelled for the hearing. John Smith had the fifteen charges read out to him, to every one of which he pleaded not guilty.
There were no unusual features to the case itself and justice was efficiently dispensed. Smith’s defence was paid for from the public purse, and he was represented by a dock brief called Mr Montagu Williams. The prosecution on behalf of the Crown was led by a barrister named Mr Forrest Fulton.
The court first took evidence from Louisa Leonard. Mrs Leonard told the court she had been stopped in a street near Charing Cross by a well-dressed gentleman, who appeared to have mistaken her for a certain Lady Harridge. The man himself had aristocratic manners and spoke with a faint accent she thought might have been German. He told her his name was Lord Winton de Willoughby, and lived in a residence in St John’s Wood, known throughout London as an exclusive suburb. Once the mistaken identity had been cleared up, Lord Willoughby mentioned that his housekeeper had just departed and he was seeking a replacement. He said he thought Mrs Leonard could be ideal and asked her if he might call on her the next day to discuss the job. The woman told the court that because she was at the time in desperate need of money, she agreed. She gave Lord Willoughby her address. Overnight he sent her a letter of confirmation written on the headed notepaper of an expensive hotel in Mayfair. He included the phrase, Please expect me tomorrow. She received the letter the following morning, and Lord Willoughby called on her later in the day.
He told her he was particular about the appearance of people who worked for him, and gave her a letter of introduction to Redfern’s, a well-known couturier in Bond Street, saying she should order whatever she wished on his account. He wrote down a list of garments she might like to try on for size. He then offered her a small advance on the proposed salary, and handed her a cheque for fifty pounds, drawn on a branch of the Union Bank in Pall Mall. Mrs Leonard told the court she had never imagined that she would ever again see so much money, which would radically improve her reduced circumstances.
Lord Willoughby went on to point out that she would need beautiful jewellery for a job which involved greeting and serving famous and important guests, so he said he would order some new jewellery for her, including a replacement ring. She lent him her existing ring, to match the size, and her wristwatch. He finally asked her if she happened to have any cash, as that morning his valet had laid out his clothes and forgotten to put money in his pocket. She handed over what she had in her savings, which amounted to £13.10s.0d (thirteen pounds and ten shillings). ‘It was all the money I had in the world,’ she told the court, weeping.
She never saw Lord Willoughby again. When she went to Redfern’s they denied ever having heard of him, and had no account in his name. When she tried to take the cheque to the Union Bank she could not find it at the address in Pall Mall. Another branch of the same bank refused to cash it, saying it was forged. She later discovered from the police that her jewellery had been pawned.
Asked in court if she could see the man who had claimed to be Lord Willoughby, she pointed directly at John Smith, who was ordered to stand up in the dock.
‘That is the man,’ she declared.
John Smith in 1877
A total of fourteen more women, of a similar background to Mrs Leonard, told their stories to the court. Some details varied, but the deception was the same. All the women positively identified John Smith as the man who had swindled them.
A police constable called Eliss Spurrell gave evidence as the arresting officer. PC Spurrell said that the only name the defendant would give was ‘John Smith’, which had raised his suspicions. ‘John Smith’ was a name sometimes used by criminals as an alias, but in addition ‘Smith’ spoke with what seemed to be a German accent. Since he would admit to no other name, and there was no other means of identifying him, he was charged as John Smith. When the verdict of the court was known he was sentenced as John Smith, and served his time in prison under that name. He was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude.
Smith was released from prison on licence in April 1881, his period of incarceration reduced because of good behaviour.
Not long after his release he went abroad, where he was to remain for several years. However, John Smith would eventually return.
Yesterday I put the finishing touches to the galley proofs of my new book, and this morning a messenger from the publisher’s office called round to the college to collect them. If all goes to plan the finished edition should be in the bookshops in the spring of next year, 1905, and then we shall see. The publishers, Messrs Sherratt & Hughes, say they will be arranging for extracts to appear in one of the daily newspapers. They are treating it as the breaking of a news story, which of course it is. The announcement that the world will soon end and civilization will be destroyed has been often made by fantasists, but none of them so far has backed up their dire warnings with the unarguable reality of science. At last the truth will be available to the reading public.
The publishers rejected the title I chose for it, saying insensitively that it sounded too stodgy and academic. They are now calling it Take Heed! – A Scientist Warns of the Terror to Come. I can’t complain because the publishers need to make back the money they are investing. I still should have preferred a less catchpenny approach in the title.
There is, though, no toning down of the content. While I was working on the book the facts I was uncovering often kept me awake at night. It is sensational stuff.
With the book complete I now at last have time to set down the extraordinary background to my discoveries.
My story begins nearly four decades ago, in 1868, when I was waiting impatiently in London for the delivery of my files and instruments from Bergen in Norway.
When I left Norway five years earlier after my graduation, I placed everything for safekeeping with the Department of Earth Sciences at Bergen’s Technical University, my alma mater. Since then I had been living and working in London. I was now planning my next move, this time to New York City, where the opportunity of a research position at the Haddon Institute of Biological Study had arisen. I needed to take everything with me.
Two members of the faculty staff in Bergen assured me my property had been despatched – I knew the identity of the shipping agency, and the name of the ship on which they had been loaded, but it had still not berthed in London. I had an onward journey to make. I was due to travel from London to the seaport of Liverpool, where I had already booked passages for myself and my brother with the Star Line.
My subject at university was the study of glaciers, and if pressed to define myself I would use the modern word glaciologist. However, since I left university events and experience have widened my interests. I would now say that I am a generalist on the special subject of climate, or sometimes the other way around.
I became interested in glaciers as a young boy because of my father’s work. He, Joseph Beck, worked most of his life for the various mountain authorities who in those days monitored glaciers. He concentrated on Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in continental Europe, in Vestland. He reported regularly on size, depth, movement, moraine, meltwater levels and snow capture. As soon as I was old enough he would sometimes take me with him on his research trips, and it was because of those long days on the ice that I formed my permanent respect for glaciers.
I am now wary of their sluggish moods, brutal as they sometimes are. Like my father I have measured many of them, climbed several, I have lowered myself into their frigid blue crevasses to take samples of the deepest firn ice. I have slept fitfully in bitterly cold tents beside them, listening to them creak and grind in the night. I still sometimes dream of glaciers.
I lost my father to Jostedalsbreen, when he was alone on the mountain, a routine visit to collect certain measurements. Two colleagues saw him before he departed, and said later that he had been in his normal good spirits. The three of them intended to meet for dinner at the end of the day – instead, those two, together with others, spent days searching for him after he did not return. They never found his body. It must have been encased and crushed somewhere deep inside the glacier, never to be recovered.
His death affected me profoundly but less so my twin brother Dolf, or so it seemed.
Dolf and I were alike, physically identical in fact, but our outlook on the world has always been at odds. I loved clambering up the mountains with Pappa, cold and terrified, enthralled by heights and steep slippery slopes and expanses of deadly ice. Dolf went quiet whenever Pappa proposed a new expedition to the mountains. He pretended to be reading, or to have hurt his leg, or would simply leave the house to avoid any more persuasion. He was clearly distraught when the news of the accident came down the mountain from the rescue team, but he would never speak to me about it. I was desperate to vent and share my unhappiness, and for a time I wanted Dolf close to me so I could relieve that feeling. But Dolf shut himself away emotionally, causing me to do much the same, expressed differently. I started exploring glaciers alone as a sort of tribute to Pappa.
One day, when I was about fifteen years old, I was clambering around on a jagged part of the lower ice sheet, not far above Jostedalsbreen’s snout. I discovered a wall of ice which had apparently become exposed only recently. I was intending to take a sample of the firn, the compressed ice and snow that makes up the depths of the glacier. It was a risky thing to do – at that age I took less care than I would now. Using only one tethered rope and an ice axe I crawled slowly down.
Then I was stricken by what I later came to call an incursion. I was to experience incursions many times over the years, but this time, this day on the terrifying ice wall of a glacier, was the first. I did not try to describe it by any name. It simply happened and it almost killed me.
I was suddenly paralysed – my limbs became frozen, my eyes remained locked on wherever I was looking at that time. I stared at blank ice. I could still breathe, but only with great effort. I could certainly not shout or call for help. There was no one around anyway. By chance I had moments before secured a foothold, and the rope from above was tight. I did not fall, but had this incursion started at almost any time before or after it would have been the end of me. I held on, but there was no choice. My hands were clamped immovably in the handholds I had taken. I stared at the firn before my eyes, barely breathing.
Then came the voice. It sounded so unnaturally close that for an instant I thought someone must be there beside me, or behind me. But I was alone in the mountain valley, clinging to a wall of ice. The voice was in me, within me! Nothing could be closer. Who was it? How did it speak?
More to the point, what did it say? That I do not know. I heard what I thought was my own name, spoken aloud, questioning. It was not fluent, seeming to stutter. It said ‘Ad’ several times, but I was so taken by surprise: the ‘Ad’ sound could have been meant for me, Adler, or my brother – Dolf as I called him, Adolf as he had been named at birth. What was the voice asking? It spoke in English, a language I knew enough of to be able to recognize when spoken, but not enough to understand. The voice spoke quickly, urgently, as if stressed. It was not a normal sound.
As suddenly as I had been seized I was released. My body relaxed, once again within my control, but my handholds also relaxed and for a moment I felt myself falling backwards, away from the firn wall. I managed to grab a spur of ice, corrected the fall, then reached out to regain those precious handholds. Soon I was safe again, but shaken by what had happened.
It was the first incursion of its kind, and as I later discovered it was not to be the last, but I was fifteen, an age when you tend to treat survival as less of a mystery than the cause of the accident. I did not dwell on the incident.
I never forgot it, though.
And now to describe Dolf, my brother.
I have always loved Dolf, but from around the time our father died he became increasingly difficult to understand or live with. He became restless, unfocused, irrational in arguments, petulant, annoying. He would leave the house unannounced, stay away for too long, involve himself in escapades of which I knew nothing and which he would never talk about.
Perhaps my own adventures in the mountains meant I was over compensating in a different way. We were both in distress. We had never known our mother, Astrid: she died two days after our birth. All we had of her was a small painting made by our father shortly before they married. And we had the excuse of being just boys. We were only twelve years old when Pappa died, and soon after we were going through the complex and sometimes awkward process of adolescence.
I was in London, waiting for my papers to arrive, waiting for Dolf. Once again I was being forced to wonder where he had gone and when he would turn up. He had wandered away from the lodgings we were renting together, leaving no message. I had heard nothing from him since. If he was away longer than two more days he would find me gone and the apartment closed. I usually put up with his feckless behaviour, but this time I was determined not to let him interfere with what I wanted to do. The appointment to the Haddon Institute was too important to let slip away.
Dolf is twenty minutes younger than me, and I believe he has always resented the fact that I was first to be born. When he is angry or feeling guilty he treats me sulkily like a much older brother, or even a parent. But we are twins, identical twins, born in the hospital on the island of Christianssund, in 1841. After the death of our mother we were brought up until we were twelve by our grief-stricken father and his sister, our Tante Helena. She had a house in Bergen, so all three of us moved from the island to be with her. After Pappa died we stayed on with her, of course. It was Tante Helena who encouraged both me and Dolf to learn to speak and write English. I took to it better than Dolf, another source of friction between us.
I felt I was honouring the example of Joseph, my father, by following a scientific career. He had tutored me in scientific method. Look at the facts, Adler, he would say. The facts provide evidence of what might follow. Collecting and understanding evidence is a first priority.
All this was lost on Dolf though. He has never shown much interest in that sort of thing. He has gone his own way, in his own fashion. When I wanted to move to London he did not put up much resistance, travelled with me and soon found a job he seemed to enjoy, at least for a while. He worked as a clerk in a merchant’s office, similar to the work he had done in Bergen. When I landed the appointment in New York, he acceded to the idea more quickly than I expected.
But his sudden absences went on. Even in the weeks when we were preparing for the journey to the USA, his drifting around town continued as before. He had a circle of shadowy acquaintances unknown to me. All this was a minor annoyance and I was always glad when he returned nonchalantly, usually taking to his bed for a couple of days to recover from whatever he had been up to.
I could not give too much attention to worrying about Dolf. My time in London was taken up with scouring through climate records, of which a huge archive was maintained at the Royal College of Science in Kensington. I travelled to and from the college every day, noting, recording, analysing, trying to make sense of what history could tell me about the climate of the past. It is my belief that understanding the patterns of the past would reveal possible developments in the future.
Although the Royal College’s records were extensive, consistent and well catalogued, and even the very old entries were legible, they represented only a fraction of the information I wished to extract. Nearly all the records were concerned, understandably enough, with the weather in the British Isles. The British were interested in local effects, in temporary weather events. Hours of sunshine, depth of rainfall, maximum and minimum temperatures, all were faithfully and consistently noted, as were exceptional events: heavy rain leading to flooding, blizzards and deep snow, long periods of summer heat. I needed that data, but I wanted to know about the weather the same day in, say, my home town Bergen, or for that matter in Paris or Baghdad or St Petersburg or Peking, or anywhere else in the world. What had been the weather at sea? What depth of cloud cover had there been? In short the British were interested in weather while I was concerned with the climate.
I corresponded with colleagues in other parts of the world. By following contributions to learned journals about such matters I picked up more interesting information. In this way I opened contact with fellow climate investigators in New York City. This was how my research appointment to the Haddon Institute came about. It included visiting and archive rights to the Haddon Marine Center in Florida.
The Haddon specialized in oceanographical study of currents, and the impact of the annual release of organic matter from the depths to the warmer waters closer to the surface. This process had been proved to have an influence on air temperature in certain areas, which was exactly the kind of information I needed to measure and evaluate.
Two days before I was due to take the train to Liverpool I received notification that the ship had arrived from Norway. My luggage had cleared excise checks and could be collected from Rotherhithe Dock. I went directly there and hired a cab to bring everything back to the lodgings. To my surprise and pleasure my brother Dolf was waiting for me there. He helped carry the instrument cases and document files up to our rooms.
We embraced in a brotherly way, then I said, ‘Where have you been, Dolf?’
‘Jeg har sunget med en ung kvinne jeg traff, som håper å bli tatt opp i Det kongelige operahus.’
‘We must always speak to each other in English,’ I said.
‘There is no one to overhear us, Adler. Why does it matter?’
‘Because English is our language now. We agreed this before we left home. No one here speaks Norwegian. When we arrive in New York you will find it is the same there.’
‘English is not the language of opera.’
‘Neither is Norwegian, but that’s another matter. Your English is good enough.’
‘Your English is better than mine.’
‘But you don’t need me to speak for you.’
‘And I find it difficult to write in English. The grammar is horrible.’
In fact Dolf’s spoken English was as good as mine. Tante Helena had always instructed us together, but there was still a difference. Dolf spoke English with a more distinctive Norwegian accent. One or two of our English friends said they had thought Dolf was German when they first met him, or at least had a German accent. He said he did not mind. What did it matter?
I continued with my packing and made sure Dolf did not leave the apartment again before our departure. He seemed genuinely excited by the prospect of going to America. I wondered how involved he might have been with the lady opera singer he mentioned, but he never told me her name and did not speak of her again.
We boarded the steamer Star of Albion from Canada Dock in Liverpool. The next morning, on the high tide, we slipped our moorings and set off down the Mersey estuary. I was excited by the knowledge that the ship would be sailing against, or more accurately across, the Gulf Stream, first charted by Benjamin Franklin a century earlier. Once we had passed the northern extremity of the Irish island I spent most of a day on the foredeck, staring out at the ocean, hoping for some visible sign of the current.
On our third day out the captain warned the passengers that he was expecting a gale to blow up. This interested me and I headed up to the deck to watch. For an hour or two the increasing wind and the height of the waves caused movement of the ship, fore and aft and side to side. Dolf, sheltering in the cabin, suffered mal de mer for a day, while I was excited. It turned out to be a rough sea rather than a full-blown storm, but even so.
I was sympathetic to Dolf’s sickness, but it also intrigued me. He sometimes claimed to be a seasoned sailor. One of his past adventures, when he was twenty-three, was running away to sea. He had impulsively signed on as a deckhand on the Snøjeger, a merchant ship docked in Bergen harbour, and when she sailed he sailed with her. He was gone for about a year, while the ship tramped around the Far East. When he was home again he never told me much about it, but it was clear his seafaring days were at an end.
The passengers with us were a mixed bunch: a few were Americans returning home, the majority were English or Scottish, and there were several Italians and Spaniards. Most of them remarked in a friendly way on how physically alike Dolf and I were – our two blond heads, our blue eyes, our slight stature, made us seem different from the others. Dolf and I played a harmless routine we knew people found amusing, so we willingly demonstrated mannerisms we shared, and so on.
As the ship approached the densely clustered buildings of New York City, everyone gathered on the upper deck to share the thrill of arrival. I had read many accounts of travellers in which they described the supreme experience of sailing slowly up the Narrows to the greatest port city in America, and perhaps in the world. I said this to Dolf.
‘Entering Sydney Harbour is better,’ he said, and moved away from me, shading his eyes.
New York did not disappoint me: we were arriving late in the afternoon and the sun was low across the land, dazzling us towards the west but magically lighting up the buildings before us. A light atmospheric haze, which I attributed to a low-pressure system the captain had told me was stationary across the eastern seaboard, softened the stark, rectangular outlines of the modern buildings. The thousands of windows glittered in the rays of the sun. For several minutes the privations of the long voyage felt worthwhile. We had arrived in the new world and the future at last lay ahead.
Dolf sprung one of his unwelcome surprises when we were in the Port Authority arrivals shed, waiting for permission to enter the country. Because I was carrying letters of approval and introduction from the Haddon Institute the officials accepted me, but Dolf encountered more of an obstacle. He told me in London he had prepared the necessary paperwork for our stay, but now it turned out he had done no such thing. After a long wait in the arrivals shed, and after offering what assurances I could, he was granted permission to stay in the USA for one month only. There was no guarantee of renewal. The immigration officers finally waved us through.
While we were still inside the noisy and crowded customs building, trying to agree how to divide up our luggage for carrying, I said to Dolf, ‘As soon as we have settled down we must apply to get you permission to stay in America for more than one month. I have a lot of work to do here.’
‘A single month will be enough,’ he replied, r. . .
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