Thursday, April 12, 2018

The multiverse of fates for chestnut hair

A morning tweet from Christopher Redmond has added a new layer of mystery to Violet Hunter's troubles in "Copper Beeches," that is a hard puzzle to resist:

"I had, as you know, cut off my hair in London, and I had placed it in a great coil at the bottom of my trunk." Violet states, and then goes to explain how she was checking out the drawers in her room at the house known as Copper Beeches, and in a bottom drawer finds "There was only on thing in it, but I am sure that you would never guess what it was. It was my coil of hair."

"With trembling hands," she continues, "I undid my trunk, turned out the contents, and drew from the bottom my own hair. I laid the two tresses together, and I assure you that they were identical. Was it not extraordinary?"

Two coils of hair, both "a peculiar tint of chestnut," one returned to the locked drawer in Violet Hunter's bedroom, the other presumably returned to her trunk. But what, as Chris wonders, became of them after?

"I have devised seven separate explanations, each of which would cover the facts as far as we know them," Sherlock Holmes said of the "Copper Beeches" affair. It would seem only fitting to do likewise with the mystery of Violet Hunter and Alice Rucastle's twin coils of hair. So, on to the devising . . .

1. Violet Hunter kept hers as a memento forever. Mrs. Rucastle kept her daughter's as a memento forever.

2. Mrs. Rucastle never took Alice's hair out of the drawer and eventually the chest of drawers was inherited by Alice's brother, who had similar hair, which fell out as he aged. Having discovered and saved his sister's hair years before and wisely saved it, he made a toupee for himself.

3. Violet Hunter retrieved Alice's hair when she went for her trunk, took both with her to Walsall, made wigs of both, which were then used when the students at her private school there wanted to play twins in the school play.

4. Sherlock Holmes requested both as mementos as they parted ways with Violet Hunter, made wigs himself, and he and Watson would sit around Baker Street playing twin girls and speaking in falsetto voices.

5. Mary Morstan acquired both and added them to her "coils of luxuriant hair" collection, mentioned in The Sign of Four. (Watson's description never said the hair was on her head.)

6. Charles Augustus Milverton acquired both through nefarious means to add extra hair to the pair of chestnut horses that pulled his stately carriage. Having human hair on your horses was the height of evil luxury, and CAM liked his evil luxury.

7. Alice Rucastle-Fowler returned to Copper Beeches years later, broke into the house, fought off the occupants with martial arts learned on the isle of Mauritius, took her hair out of the drawer, held it high and went "YES!" then returned to her life on the island paradise after convincing Violet Hunter to leave Walsall. Then they both sat on the Mauritius beach together drinking fancy cocktails, wearing their hair coils as crowns, noting that the sand on that particular beach looked coppery in the sun, and making a joke about that, just before the camera pulls back in a lovely helicopter shot and the credits roll. (What, you didn't know this theory was the movie adaptation? Of course, it is.)

I suppose if I were Sherlock Holmes, I would start eliminating the impossible or something like that here, but I just really like that beach ending. (Even better than the Baker Street "wigs and falsettos" nights, surprisingly.) Have any thoughts of you own on the fate of the hair? Too late for a 221B Con panel on it, but if you run into me there, we can discuss.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that Violet kept her hair coils until her own hair was just a bit longer, at which point she could have the hair in the coil arranged so as to appear to be her own hair swept up, the way most grown women wore it at the time. Using additional hair to enhance ones own was (and is) not unusual -- the Victorian equivalent of hair extensions.