During last night's look at "The Speckled Band," I noticed something odd about the corpse Sherlock Holmes discovers.
"Beside this table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roylott, clad in a long gray dressing-gown, his bare ankles protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers."
Outside of A Study in Scarlet, "The Speckled Band" is the earliest occurring recorded case of Sherlock Holmes that we know of, coming before all the others. And it has certain details that we see repeated, which some might say are part of an author going back to the same creative trough, out of habit or laziness. That is, if you're taking the train of thought that an author was behind all of this . . . .
If you're taking Watson's memory for detail as Canon, however, the occasional familiar bit may make you go, "Hey, wait a minute . . ." as that line above did with me this time out.
Grimesby Roylott has a long gray dressing-gown.
Sherlock Holmes had a long gray dressing-gown. Watson just called it "mouse-coloured" when Holmes dresses his wax dummy in it in "The Empty House."
Grimesby Roylott has Turkish slippers.
Sherlock Holmes has Persian slippers. Given that Persia, a.k.a. Iran, and Turkey share a common border, these are pretty much the same kind of slippers. And yes, I refer to "a" Persian slipper that Holmes kept his tobacco in, mentioned in "The Musgrave Ritual." As well as "the Persian slipper" he offers Watson tobacco from in "The Naval Treaty." Plainly, a pair of Persian slippers. How can I be so certain of this? Well, as Watson showed preferences for ship's and later an Arcadia mixture, it should be plain enough that one slipper had Holmes's tobacco of choice and the other held a supply for visits by Watson.
But I digress.
The point I'm trying to make here is that Grimesby Roylott's personal effects seem like they might have wound up in Sherlock Holmes's sitting room. We know Holmes saved a sovereign to remember Irene Adler by, and coins from the treasure chest the Musgrave ritual led to . . . he did like his souvenirs. Did he take one in every case he worked on?
"Our chambers were full of criminal relics," Watson wrote in that same "Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual." But are we to think that Holmes might have even robbed a corpse of a decent pair of slippers and a dressing gown in his little obsession with criminal relics? Well, the man was extremely comfortable in dealing with bodies in his work. And in 1883, a younger Holmes working apart from the police on a case like he was in the Roylott matter, a case where he wasn't going to make much money, the line between "crime scene" and "yard sale" might not have been as solid as on some other occasions.
It's definitely something worth considering. And maybe time we looked around 221B Baker Street for a few other "freebies" that came as returns on Sherlock Holmes's "invest"-igations.
You never know.