This evening I was doing some innocent chronology work when I stumbled upon glimpses of a nightmare. The passage that spawned said vision was written by Watson with these words:
"Beside this table, on a wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roylott clad in a long, grey dressing-gown, his bare ankle protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers."
That's the corpse of Dr. Grimesby Roylott we're looking at in that sentence, a man who was alive shortly before, yet is now dead due to the actions of one Sherlock Holmes. Yes, yes, Holmes was just defending himself from a deadly snake, one might argue -- but wouldn't your instinct be to knock in from the bell-pull and kill the thing with whatever you have on hand? And with what controlled force would one have to lightly whip a snake on a rope just enough to convince it to slither backwards whence it came. Was it ever even on that bell pull? Watson doesn't see anything but Holmes going through the motions of beating at the air.
Now, it might seem rather a stretch to accuse Sherlock Holmes of purposefully murdering Grimesby Roylott with his own swamp adder. One wants a motive, and he has none. Without motive, Sherlock Holmes would have to be someone who just kills for pleasure, like a serial killer. And what else do serial killers like to do to remember the joy of a kill? They like to take trophies. And Sherlock Holmes didn't take any trophies, of course.
Well, of course not . . .
Except what color was that dressing gown we see more often than the others? Mouse was it? Some shade of gray, right?
And that tobacco holder of his, what was that again? A Persian slipper?
Yeah, for the lover of iconic Holmes possessions, that corpse of Grimesby Roylott is a lot creepier than most corpses when one considers the details. Normally we read "Speckled Band" so early in the Canon that we forget those two bits of Roylott's by the time we see them again.
The main argument for Holmes's innocence is that John Watson would surely recognize those two things he'd seen on a corpse, leaving an impression strong enough for him to write about later . . . unless that was exactly the reason he did write about them later, to send a cry for help that Scotland Yard readers of The Strand would definitely not pick up on. T'would be a same if no one noticed it for over a hundred years.
Are any other pieces of Holmes's life things we also find at the murder scenes he went to "solve?" Or are the ones we see from moments that followed a story like "Five Orange Pips" or "Greek Interpreter," moments no one but Holmes and his victims got to see.
Suddenly, I have questions. Dark, dark questions.