Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A second manuscript from Mr. Holmes.

Before this year, few people knew of the manuscript written by Sherlock Holmes in his much later years. Many of those hearing of that business of the lady in gray might have thought that was all that he had written in that time. Recently, however, a Sussex historian named Chalmer Chops turned up a stack of other manuscripts written by Holmes during that period, and he was willing to let Sherlock Peoria reprint one of the more representative samples here:

The New Adventure of the Blue Diamond
by Mr. S-something (add that later) Holmes

Some readers of the many cases recorded by Dr. Watson might have wondered why it was that I left the business of consulting detection and retired to the downs of Sussex for such a prosaic past-time as the keeping of bees. I have often wondered this myself, a good three decades having passed since the decision was made. The good Watson wrote down the details of the matter in a tale he entitled "The Adventure of the Blue Diamond," which he then published in a book I keep in a wooden box with his other works. I could, perhaps, read that book and remind myself of some bits of the story, but I would rather sit here and puzzle it out myself as I attempt to ward off my random generic mental decline.

It was the winter time, and Commissar Petrov had brought us a goose that he found on the street. This was a great many years before the invention of the automobile brought along the invention of roadkill, and found street-meat was something we enjoyed on a regular basis. Mrs. Hudson cooked up the bird, and we were sitting down to a nice dinner when Petrov returned to enjoy the fruit of his discovery. As he removed his hat, a fine blue diamond fell out of the hat-band.

I have to stare into space for a time as I picture that falling gem, as it makes me more dramatic, a habit I developed when attempting to inspire Dr. Watson's own writings. It doesn't inspire me, so I think I shall make an excuse to visit East Lothian and the site of the tragic deaths of over a thousand people who were cannibalized by the Sawney Bean family. There is a particular turf that grows upon the Muirfield links nearby that I find packs a pipe most excellently, yet provides a steadfast reminder that we might all be eaten by our fellows at any time. Life is not a happy thing, and should not be enjoyed too much, even during a good pipe.

Which brings me back to that excellent goose dinner, Watson and I shared with Petrov as we looked over the amazing blue gem that fell out of his hat. The hat, it turned out, was found on the same thoroughfare as the street-meat, and we all decided to visit a pub on that street after our dinner for some beer and pretense at making a case of it.

The pub was called the Alpha Inn, and it was near the British Museum. Watson suggested we donate the gem to the museum, but Petrov thought we should just sell it and retire upon the split profits. He was a simple man, and just wanted to spend the rest of his days writing a book about the difference between wasps and bees, as a service to the general public, whom he didn't think were familiar with such a thing. As I picture Petrov taking another big sip of his beer, I pause and look dramatically troubled at the public menace of wasp/bee confusion.

During my reverie, I hear young Billy the page shrieking outside my window. He's apparently stumbled into the honey badger nest again, and I grab up my fireplace poker and head out to his aid. At the bottom of the stairs, I ignore Mrs. Hudson, whom will surely be very dramatic with me later, when I come back in to ring up the animal control people. Women can be so unreasonable where badger-nibbled children are concerned.

Which brings me to the unreasonable lady of the evening who recognized Petrov in the Alpha Inn, and began to plague him over "her cut of the goods." Watson chevied her off with a wicket to the shins, as was his particular skill with the trollops, and we returned to Baker Street, where Watson also chevied Petrov off and we kept the diamond in my safe.

Looking back, I am still not quite sure why I retired, random general mental decline and all that. But if Billy can stay out of trouble with the local vermin for long enough, perhaps I shall write yet another tale of the possible reasons before my inevitable passing. Life is not a happy thing, and should not be enjoyed too much, even during detective stories.

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