The Wentworth Club in Mayfair is used to tales of the archaeological expeditions or of folklore, history, mythology and occult practices of cultures from around the world but on 9th July 1925 the members came together to remember Lord Howard Brightman on the evening of his funeral.
Hilary Fitzallen Howard was holding court in the lounge of the club, chatting with Iain Swan. Howard Wright as usual was trying to stay unobtrusive and out of the way and indeed probably only Walter Anvil, chatting with his lifelong friend Cyril Ripley, had really noted on his presence at all. After a short speech from the club president Gregory Bluffstone in which he spoke of his sadness at the loss of Lord Brightman those assembled filed into the dinning room.
Hilary, Iain, Howard, Ripley and Walter had been sat together and while making introductions to one another a smartly dressed man in a morning suit requested to join the table. Introducing himself as Theodore Rayburn-Price, a club member for over twenty years, the group sat down to dinner. Among the various dinner conversations that took place that evening Rayburn-Price filled his companions in on details of Lord Brightman’s murder (Brightman had had his throat slit from ear to ear, his butler Collins had discovered the body). He also elaborated on a comment that Bluffstone had made in his pre-dinner speech about a terrifying tale that Brightman had told them in late 1919 shortly before he went into seclusion.
Evidently Brightman had been on a dig in northern Iraq and had found a native attempting to steal a strange golden statuette. When he challenged the man the native had pulled a knife and Brightman had had to shoot the man. As he had lain dying the thief grabbed Brightman’s hand and thrust the statuette into it, saying, “Take it! Take it and may the Curse of Nabu make you sleep no more.” Since that fateful night the man had been unable to find a restful sleep.
As dinner wound down, nearly at the end of the cheese, Rayburn-Price made his apologies and left for an urgent meeting however after the end of the meal as the group were enjoying port and cigars he returned asking them if they could lend him some assistance. He lead them to the top floor where he introduced them to Neve Selcibuc, a young American lady with a somewhat unusual tale to tell.
Neve told of the murder of her friend Archie Glossop and his involvement in trying to protect artefacts that apparently came from a secret dig that Reginald Campbell Thompson led alongside the late Lord Brightman. Rayburn-Price was convinced that Neve was in mortal danger from whoever had been following her and needed to spirit her out of London to safety. Neve gave not only her journal to the group but a strange Golden Statuette which Archie had smuggled out of the museum, fearing that it would be stolen if it remained.
After briefly discussing the legal and police implications of Neve leaving the captial Hilary and Ripley followed one of the club’s servants, Jack Henryson, as he led Rayburn-Price and Miss Selibuc out to the kitchen entrance and signalled for the car they had waiting there. As they sped away, hopefully to safety, the group sat and discussed the best thing to do next.
It was decided that Iain would stay with Hilary overnight at his Belgravia residence after dropping Howard home. Meanwhile Ripley and Walter would take it in shifts to stay up and guard the statue whilst reading the journal that the young American left for them.