Monday, June 29, 2020

That murder they're still wanted for.

After taking another look at the end of "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," for some thoughts about Inspector Lestrade this week, that story just got weird.

Okay, my initial thought, mentioned on The Watsonian Weekly, was that this was the one time we know that Inspector Lestrade came to Holmes for help and Holmes completely refused.

"My sympathies are with the criminals rather than the victim, and I will not handle this case."

Watson doesn't tell us Lestrade's response to this, but it must be at a point in the relationship between the Scotland Yard man and his consultant where the former had to go, "Well, you're probably right, if we don't catch them, I guess we'll just have to live with that."

Did that sort of weird moment happen often?

What makes it even weird is that in 1904, when Lestrade and his fellow Scotland Yarders read the tale in The Strand Magazine, holy crap, would that suck!  "Hey, Lestrade! Going to visit any escaped suspects for help solving the case today?" "So, you're taking Watson's word that they didn't kill Milverton? Holmes said he was happy he was dead!" How could Watson do that to the poor guy? And wouldn't Gregson 2.0 be knocking on the door of a certain cottage in Sussex after that? (Hmm, good time for a spy mission in America, eh, brother Mycroft?)

Unless, like so many people in Watson's tales, the reason was the usual: The poor fellow is dead now, so I can tell the tale. Irene Adler dies, he tells "A Scandal in Bohemia." Helen Stoner dies, he tells "The Speckled Band." Sherlock Holmes dies, Watson tells the Adventures AND the Memoirs. Watson's stories are practically obituaries!

Lestrade dying or retiring to the country prior to 1904 are the only ways Watson publishing "Charles Augustus Milverton" starts to make sense, and even then is quite problematic.

But let's get to the really weird part of the end of that tale, shall we?

"We had breakfasted and were smoking our morning pipe . . ."

Maybe I'm being all "What's Watson on About by Paul Thomas Miller"* about this, but "our morning pipe?" Sherlock Holmes and John Watson shared their first pipe of the morning? Passing it back and forth, or some romantic two-stemmed pipe for the Baker Street version of Lady and the Tramp? There are a lot of lines people like to bring to the front as evidence of Johnlock, but "smoking our morning pipe" passes a lot of them up for just sounding like couple-speak.

And even for couple-speak, it's just a little weird. Have a wild night, but c'mon! Sharing a morning pipe is just a little too sugary sweet, boys!  Especially if Lestrade's coming in, then it's an over-the-top PDA --  "Sorry, G. We're occupied. *wink*" -- which is actually a marvelous diversion to keep the inspector's mind off realizing that you're his prime suspects.

Hmmm. Maybe it's not all so weird, after all.

But they're still wanted for that murder, as far as Scotland Yard is concerned, to this day.

*A regular feature on The Watsonian Weekly. Listen in, amiga!

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