Barnum Institute of Science and Horror

It's too big to fit. I can't take it like that.

Having defeated the voodoo woman, for a time, the investigators returned the ‘voodoo doll’ to the case and retrieved the turquoise Hippo necklace from the other room. Douglas put it on and tried several occult strategies, but nothing unusual happened. Annie carefully cut the Aztec necklace off of the mummy’s chest, where it had been glued. While Scott placed the Hippo necklace onto the mummy, Douglas put on the Aztec necklace and tried to activate it’s divination powers. Nothing unusual happened.

They decided to head to the Sixth Grand Saloon to find the Navajo Witch. Stopping briefly to look about in the Fifth Grand Saloon, they once again heard sounds of someone running around upstairs, and that of a young child sobbing in the far corner of the room. Scott and Elmer went to investigate the sobbing. Annie and Angus dug through P. T. Barnum the Great American Showman looking for whatever had happened to Joice Heth’s remains. Douglas wandered over to investigate The Ape Woman of Borneo.

The Ape Woman looked to be a real specimen. Although it was odd that she held a large egg in her hand and the workmanship of the face appeared to be sub-par, there was nothing else unusual about her.

Annie was having trouble with the wordiness of the text, but Angus was able to find a couple sections that spoke of Joice Heth’s death:

  • Upon her death, Barnum agreed to an autopsy to confirm the woman’s age. (Those who wanted to witness the autopsy could do so at a modest fee of 50 cents per admission.) Unfortunately, the doctors who performed the autopsy determined that, while certainly decrepit and slightly disabled, she appeared to be no older than 80 years old – their estimate was 79. Barnum insisted that there must be some error, but also used this opportunity to announce a public burial would take place. Strangely, the burial never happened, and there is no record of what actually became of Heth’s remains.
  • Later in life, Barnum ‘admitted’ that the woman he had submitted for the autopsy was not Heth, but the black servant woman of an associate that had also died recently. He claimed to have made the switch to honor Joice’s wishes for her body to not be defiled. When asked about her remains, he would never give a direct answer.

Scott and Elmer found a young girl of about 6 sitting between two alligators. Her long black hair was pulled to one side and braided into a long pony-tail. She wore a long tweed dress with a simple reed belt, and a blue beaded bracelet on her right wrist. She was crying because she couldn’t find her mommy, and said she had been here for ever: for years. The girl became skiddish, and they called for the others. Annie knelt down to talk to her and calmed her down, agreeing to help her find her mom. The girl said she could take them to “where she should be”, although the girl couldn’t quite explain what she meant by that. “She’s beautiful, with long straight black hair, brown eyes, and the most beautiful dresses. Her skin is tan, like mine,” the girl stated, although she herself was quite pale. Annie took the girls hand to walk with her, and learned that the girl was actually a ghost. After the initial shock, and some blunt banter between Annie and the girl about who was actually dead, they headed off to find the girl’s mom.

Annie led her to the three glass cases of dolls: “no, none of these look like her,” the girl said. The girl led them back to the Second Grand Saloon, with the case of jewelry and masks on the wall: “This is where she should be. She should be here, and I looked, but couldn’t find her. And now, she’s gone! She’s not here anymore!”

Annie convinced the girl to stay with them so she wouldn’t be alone, and the investigators continued back to the Sixth Grand Saloon.

This room was very difficult to navigate, with numerous tables and glass cases full of various collections: ivory carvings; whistles made from pig tails, reeds, and bones; scraps of cloth from uniforms of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Indian war, Russian Qing Dynasty war, etc.

They passed by two large pieces of furniture: a dresser ornately carved with large roses and decorative swirls with the label "Bedroom dresser of Nancy (Fish) Barnum – from Waldemere home (Woods by the Sea); and a professional roll-top desk with the label “Office desk of P. T. Barnum – from the Marina Mansion”. A photo in a frame labelled “P. T. Barnum and his second wife Nancy” sat spanning both pieces of furniture.

Barnum_and_Nancy.JPG

Annie investigated the dresser while Scott investigated the desk. A piece of crumpled paper was visible from under the right back corner. Annie removed the bottom drawer to retrieve the paper. She discovered a crumpled letter sitting atop a folded newspaper page that had somehow slipped behind and beneath the dresser drawer. The Letter from Barnum to Nancy was a warning with a strange demand to “find an artist and commission a portrait forthwith.” The newspaper page contained an article describing the Barnum Menagerie Fire, with a disturbing portion highlighted: “… the watchman was in the horse room. His lantern exploded, igniting the hay and straw.”

The desk’s roll-top and side drawers were empty, and the middle center drawer was locked. Angus picked the lock somewhat less than deftly. Inside, they discovered a clipped stack of expensive stationary paper. There was no apparent writing on the top page.

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