"I am not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies . . . I suppose that I am committing a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong again. He is too terribly frightened. Send him to gaol now, and you make him a gaol-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of forgiveness. Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward. If you will have the goodness to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another investigation, in which also a bird will be the chief feature."
Or, to put it more plainly:
"It's not our job. Screw the law. We scared him straight. The prison system sucks. But, hey, that was fun, wasn't it? Let's eat!"
You'll note that the latter translation leaves out the part of the quote most Sherlockians would go to for their Christmas cards: ". . . it is the season of forgiveness."
In his Christmas speech, Holmes gives about five other reasons for letting James Ryder go other than pure forgiveness. Forgiveness is a bit like the Christmas bow he's just putting on top of the package as he hands it to Dr. Watson, who, depending upon which Watson you favor, may have been just waiting for the "Let's eat!" part. (That Watson would be the Nigel Bruce one, in case you were wondering.)
This, of course, followed Holmes and Watson taking a holiday guest back to Baker Street who was half-hoping to get a present, but just got a glass of brandy and a couple of commands to "Get out!" after his tale was told.
Being a Sherlockian at Christmas has its weird side, with "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" being our holiday tale. It's easy to focus on the beginning of the story and take our traditions from wishing our friends "Compliments of the season" on the second day after Christmas . . . but should we also be inviting people into our homes for a glass of brandy and a tale, then shout at them to "GET OUT!" at the appropriate moment, just before dinner?
Well, no, but it does sound a little bit like fun, doesn't it?
Okay, maybe not, for those of you who don't Scrooge it up a bit on Christmas. For those with a bit of the "humbug" in their souls, however, frightening hotel attendants might be just the Grinch-y activity their Sherlockian lights look for. Because, after all, "it is the season of forgiveness," right? People have got to forgive your crabby "Get out!" shouting, especially after you gave them some brandy.
I don't know. This entire post started on a completely different subject, but being "the season of forgiveness," I let that one go. I even let go of using "I am not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies" as Sherlock Holmes's own critique of CBS's Elementary . . . though, whoops, I did just slip it in, devil that I am.
Back to the holiday season and to not trying to do too many "Blue Carbuncle" tributes . . . being a Sherlockian can just get a little weird at this time of year . . . .