DOCTOR HUXTON RYMER

by Mark Hodder

  • An introduction to this popular old character for the benefit of new readers.

Doctor Huxton Rymer is honourable, skilled, focused and courageous but addicted to opium and an alcoholic. His significant others are: Mary Trent, Marie Galante, Mlle Yvonne Cartier, and Mlle Miton aka the Black Wolf.

Doctor Huxton Rymer

Like another of the UNION JACK's favourite characters (Professor Kew), Dr. Huxton Rymer originally made his name in the fields of medicine, specialising in surgery and attaining an eminence in that branch which placed him in the forefront of his contemporaries.

He it was who, in Vienna, had first discovered the very delicate hip operation which revolutionised modern surgery, and which he gave to the world through the medium of Franz Josef Hospital. Europe and America had rung with the name of the great Dr. Huxton Rymer.

He had been the recipient of invitations from every University of note: a Pittsburgh millionaire had paid a fabulous sum to induce the wizard to make a rush journey to America to perform an operation on his young son; Royalty of every country had sought him; and decorations from scientific bodies had descended on him from every quarter.

And then, at the very apex of his fame, Dr. Huxton Rymer had suddenly and inexplicably dropped out of things. His mysterious disappearance was far more than a nine days' wonder, and a thousand-and-one theories were advanced to explain the puzzle.

But, though his pupils carried on the teachings of him whom they called "The Master," the surgeon did not return to his haunts, and after a time the scientific world knew him no more.

Of his life and his doings after that there still remains extant a patchy record in the volumes of the famous "Index" which the famous criminologist, Sexton Blake, has patiently compiled over many years, and a study of that would serve to provide the answer to many of the questions that have puzzled his former colleagues.

This record was a startling tale of criminal adventure in which Sexton Blake himself played no small part in pursuit of the errant doctor, and of which the chapters were laid out in almost every part of the known globe, and in many unknown parts of it, too.

Then, as suddenly as he had drifted across Blake's orbit, he had drifted out of it, and it was not until Blake had once again come across him in India, during the course of a dangerous investigation there, that he knew that Rymer was still following a life of active criminal adventure.

After that Blake had again encountered him in New York during his investigations of a big whisky-smuggling conspiracy, and once later on, when he encountered him in London accidentally, in the grill-room of the Hotel Venetia.

On that occasion Blake had gone out of his way to inform Rymer that the old warrant for his arrest which had been issued by Scotland Yard had been quashed. The detective had gone even farther, and had told Rymer that, providing he ran straight whilst in England, he, Blake, would not advise Scotland Yard that he had returned. Dr. Huxton Rymer had apparently taken the advice to heart, for he had lain low for a considerable time. He had bought a small estate in Sussex, had spent a good portion of the money he had obtained in New York on fitting it up in a wonderful way, and had also devoted himself to experiments, to writing, and to the manufacture of scientific instruments of the most delicate nature.

But the restlessness of his temperament finally impelled him to conceive a scheme which he thought would satisfy his desires for criminal excitement, and yet keep him clear of the clutches of the law. Accordingly, he let it be known amongst the denizens of the underworld that he was prepared, for a substantial consideration, to advise on all subjects dealing with criminality.

His first case of this description — the affair of Mrs. Stuyvesant Courtlandt's jewels — once again brought him to the notice of Sexton Blake, and it was through information which reached him in this case that Sexton Blake discovered the existence of Rymer's estate in Sussex, which was called Abbey Towers. Thus also the alias of Rymer himself became known to him as "Professor Butterfield."

Chronology

1. When Greek Meets Greek (UNION JACK issue 488, 1913)
Rymer allies himself with Mademoiselle Yvonne Cartier to steal two million in bullion from the tropical country of Salvarita. The scheme is foiled by Sexton Blake and Yvonne cuts her ties with Rymer, putting him ashore on the south coast of England.

2. The Diamond Dragon (UNION JACK issue 493, 1913)

3. The Yellow Sphinx (UNION JACK issue 512, 1913)
Prince Wu Ling rescues Rymer from his addiction to opium and uses him to impersonate a wealthy financier. His plan begins to fail when Sexton Blake and Mademoiselle Yvonne interfere. Rymer makes matters worse for Wu Ling by rebelling. He is terribly tortured for this betrayal but manages to escape when Blake invades Wu Ling's hide-out to ruin his scheme.

4. The Yellow Octopus (UNION JACK issue 526, 1913)

5. The Sacred Sphere (UNION JACK issue 529, 1913)
Rymer investigates the disappearance of a diplomat's daughter — motivated by the huge reward on offer. When he witnesses another girl being kidnapped the same way, he joins the crew of the ship that takes her across the Atlantic. Upon discovering that the girl is actually Mademoiselle Yvonne, Rymer proposes marriage but is refused. Unknown to him, Sexton Blake is aboard the ship and when his allies arrive on Yvonne's yacht, he leads an attack. Rymer escapes with Yvonne as his captive and follows the trail of the previous kidnap victim. Unfortunately, it leads him to Prince Wu Ling, who sentences him to a lifetime of slavery in revenge for his previous betrayals. When Blake catches up and defeats Wu Ling's plans, Yvonne pleads with the detective to broker Rymer's release. Blake does so and a thoroughly humiliated Huxton Rymer slopes away.

6. The Case of the Radium Patient (UNION JACK issue 548, 1914)

7. The Crimson Pearl (UNION JACK issue 564, 1914)
Dr Huxton Rymer gains possession of a priceless pearl which is sought after by The Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle. In the Solomon Islands, he tries to sell the treasure but is defeated when Sexton Blake arrives on the scene in on Mademoiselle Yvonne's yacht. Blake leaves Rymer to escape but gains possession of the pearl for its rightful owners.

8. The Mystery of the Banana Plantation (UNION JACK issue 591, 1915)
Down on his luck, Rymer accepts a commission from financier Jacob Thornhill. He travels to Costa Rica and there, in the guise of a Spaniard named Sancho, lays claim to a banana plantation that rightfully belongs to a young man named David Grieg. After Rymer attempts to kill Grieg, Sexton Blake is consulted. In the Caribbean, he recognises Rymer and they engage in a terrific boxing match which Blake just about wins. With paperwork to prove Thornhill's guilt in the detective's possession, Rymer realises that the game is up and takes to his heels.

9. Scoundrels All; Or, Strang the Silent (UNION JACK issue 613, 1915)
Rymer allies himself with Baron de Beauremon of the Council of Eleven and the two crooks side with revolutionaries in the South American country of Costa Blanca. They hope to gain valuable oil concessions but in this endeavour they are opposed by Sexton Blake, who ultimately defeats their scheme.

10. Sexton Blake — Pirate (UNION JACK issue 618, 1915)

11. The Case of the 'Frisco Leper (UNION JACK issue 623, 1915)
With the Great San Francisco Exposition underway, Rymer attempts to hold the city to ransom by threatening to publicise the presence of a leper. Sexton Blake, of course, defeats the scheme but agrees to let Rymer go in return for him curing the afflicted individual.

12. The Two Mysteries (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 11, 1916)

13. The Blue God (UNION JACK issue 685, 1916)
Rymer steals from a remote tribe in Borneo a sapphire that is worshipped as a god. His scheme to smuggle the gem to England has him pursued by the Hoo Feng Tong. He teams up with Hammerton Palmer to offload the gem but the Chinese gang captures the two men. They are rescued by Sexton Blake and slip away, sans jewel, while the detective battles the Chinamen.

14. The Sunken Schooner (UNION JACK issue 692, 1917)

15. The Ivory Screen (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 219, 1922)

16. The Spirit Smugglers (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 229, 1922)

17. The Diamond Dragon (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 233, 1922)

18. The Case of the Courtlandt Jewels (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 253, 1922)

19. The Winfield Handicap Case (UNION JACK issue 980, 1922)

20. Sexton Blake's Blunder (UNION JACK issue 981, 1922)

21. The Affair of the Rickshaw Coolie (UNION JACK issue 982, 1922)

22. The Voodoo Curse (UNION JACK issue 984, 1922)

23. The Soap Salvors (UNION JACK issue 994, 1922)

24. The Thousandth Chance (UNION JACK issue 1,000, 1922)
In this special story to celebrate the thousandth issue of the UNION JACK, Doctor Huxton Rymer and Mary Trent are joined by Zenith the Albino, Leon Kestrel, Prince Wu Ling, The Three Musketeers, The Black Duchess, George Marsden Plummer and Professor Kew in a bid to rob Sexton Blake of his collection of art and antiques. With help from Mademoiselle Yvonne, the detective foils the plot.

25. The Secret Emerald Mines (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 271, 1923)

26. The Eight-Pointed Star (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 283, 1923)

27. The Crimson Belt (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 307, 1923)
Rymer and Mary Trent interfere at the scene of a murder without realising that they're foiling the plans of Prince Wu Ling. The head of the Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle is trying to lay his hands on a crimson belt in which is hidden a map to treasure from the Manchu dynasty. When Rymer takes the belt, he is pursued by Wu Ling and Sexton Blake to Australia. Here he teams up with the Chinaman and plots to murder Blake. Mademoiselle Yvonne and Tinker foil the plan and rescue the detective who then goes on to recover the treasure.

More to come ... ...