Monday, July 24, 2017


Thinking of doing some travelling, getting away from it all, just relaxing for a time?

Your first consideration, probably the one that is so knee-jerk you don't even think about it, in choosing a destination is "What is my likelihood of survival?"

In a post a couple months ago, I mused upon Sherlock Holmes beginning his great hiatus with a visit to Victor Trevor in Nepal.  In his description of his travels, he starts by saying "the course of events in London did not run so well as I had hoped, for the trial of the Moriarty gang left two of its most dangerous members, my own most vindictive enemies, at liberty." Then he goes on to say he travelled for two years in Tibet, like he didn't decide to do that until the trial(s) were done. Passing the time with Trevor in Nepal was an excellent remote spot to wait out the criminal proceedings until word came from Mycroft that all was well.

But all was not well, and two of his "most vindictive enemies" seemed like a good reason for him to avoid London for a while. One of those, we assume, was Colonel Sebastian Moran. The other? We aren't told. But would you think Moran was scary enough to keep Sherlock Holmes out of London for all that time, rather than face the old shikari? Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock was not exactly biding his time in comfort and safety, if the much-abbreviated tale he tells gives us any clues. He was exploring the Himalayas as a Norwegian named Sigerson, making remarkable enough inroads to rate appearing in the papers Watson might have read . . . which was probably a pretty dangerous way to spend one's time.

What kind of enemy could pose a threat more frightening to Sherlock Holmes than the mountains of Tibet, to say nothing of his other travels? He was risking life and limb in those travels. What single man could keep him away from London like that? Moran? Puh-lease . . . .

But that other mystery man . . . oh, wait, did I say "man?" Forgive me . . . person apparently had to be captured, tried, or otherwise removed from the scene before Sherlock Holmes dared return to London. Because unlike Moran, Sherlock Holmes could not trap that person with a simple wax dummy. Someone who was in London earlier, but gone when he returned . . . hmm . . . perhaps someone whose family experience a "recent bereavement" when they passed on, just before Holmes's return?

If you recognize those two words, you know who fits that bill. Someone whose role as a Moriarty agent could not be exposed by Scotland Yard, and someone who could hold someone Sherlock Holmes held dear a virtual hostage while said person stayed loyal to their captor, never knowing any threat existed. Someone who Sherlock Holmes managed to avoid at the very start of bringing John Watson into the Moriarty business.

"Is Mrs. Watson in?
"She is away upon a visit."
"Indeed! You are alone?

"Then it makes it the easier for me to propose that you should come away with me for a week . . . ."

We know Holmes had two enemies keeping him from London. We know Moran was someone he could take down. And the only two people we know who seemed to die before he could return were Mrs. Watson and Ronald Adair. And one of them still lives with their mommy.

For now, I'm just leaving this little theory as a far-fetched fancy of the sort Sherlockians pose all the time. Someone has surely hit on this before. As with any criminal accusation, it's best to have all the evidence at hand before making your move (something I'm sure certain folk know all too well these days). Will that time come?

We shall see. But the full story behind Sherlock Holmes's great hiatus from London is one that we're still dying to know.

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