On April 23rd…

April 23, 1898: Violet Smith contacted Sherlock Holmes. [SOLI]

Watson, Holmes, and Violet Smith

My friend, who loved above all things precision and concentration of thought, resented anything which distracted his attention from the matter in hand. And yet without a harshness which was foreign to his nature it was impossible to refuse to listen to the story of the young and beautiful woman, tall, graceful, and queenly, who presented herself at Baker Street late in the evening and implored his assistance and advice. It was vain to urge that his time was already fully occupied, for the young lady had come with the determination to tell her story, and it was evident that nothing short of force could get her out of the room until she had done so. With a resigned air and a somewhat weary smile Holmes begged the beautiful intruder to take a seat and to inform us what it was that was troubling her.

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 22nd…

April 22, 1890: Carlo the mastiff attacked Jethro Rucastle. [COPP]

Illustration by Sidney Paget

Holmes and I rushed out, and round the angle of the house, with Toller hurrying behind us. There was the huge famished brute, its black muzzle buried in Rucastle’s throat, while he writhed and screamed upon the ground. Running up, I blew its brains out, and it fell over with its keen white teeth still meeting in the great creases of his neck. With much labour we separated them, and carried him, living but horribly mangled, into the house. We laid him upon the drawing-room sofa, and, having despatched the sobered Toller to bear the news to his wife, I did what I could to relieve his pain.

Date provided by A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 21st…

April 21, 1890: Violet Hunter entered the forbidden room. [COPP]

Violet Hunter (Natasha Richardson) in “The Copper Beeches” (1985)

“Well, Mr. Holmes, from the moment that I understood that there was something about that suite of rooms which I was not to know, I was all on fire to go over them. It was not mere curiosity, though I have my share of that. It was more a feeling of duty – a feeling that some good might come from my penetrating to this place. They talk of woman’s instinct; perhaps it was woman’s instinct which gave me that feeling. At any rate, it was there; and I was keenly on the lookout for any chance to pass the forbidden door.”

Date information based on the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 20th…

Mastiff picture by Philip Reinagle, engraved by John Scott (1894)

April 20, 1890: Carlo the mastiff was last fed. [COPP]

“Better close the front door,” cried Holmes, and we all rushed down the stairs together. We had hardly reached the hall when we heard the baying of a hound, and then a scream of agony, with a horrible worrying sound which it was dreadful to listen to. An elderly man with a red face and shaking limbs came staggering out at a side-door.

“My God!” he cried. “Someone has loosed the dog. It’s not been fed for two days. Quick, quick, or it’ll be too late!”

Date provided by A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 19th…

Emrys James, Jeremy Brett, and Edward Hardwicke

April 19, 1888: Holmes, Watson, and Altheney Jones chased the launch Aurora down the river Thames. [SIGN]

“And there is the Aurora,” exclaimed Holmes, “and going like the devil! Full speed ahead, engineer. Make after that launch with the yellow light. By Heaven, I shall never forgive myself if she proves to have the heels of us!”

April 19, 1888: Tonga was shot and killed by Holmes or Watson (or both). [SIGN]

“Fire if he raises his hand,” said Holmes, quietly.

We were within a boat’s-length by this time, and almost within touch of our quarry. I can see the two men now as they stood: the white man with his legs far apart, shrieking out curses, and the unhallowed dwarf with his hideous face and his strong, yellow teeth gnashing at us in the light of our lantern.

Zena Keller as Tonga

It was well that we had so clear a view of him. Even as we looked he plucked out from under his covering a short, round piece of wood, like a school-ruler, and clapped it to his lips. Our pistols rang out together. He whirled round, threw his arms in the air, and, with a kind of choking cough, fell sideways into the stream. I caught one glimpse of his venomous, menacing eyes amid the white swirl of the waters.

Date provided by A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

 

On April 18th…

April 18, 1888: The Baker Street Irregulars started their search for the launch Aurora. [SIGN]
Comic by Phil Cornell for Ron Lies
Which one of us have not wanted to be a Baker Street Irregular? I was lucky in the sense, I got into the world of 1895 when I was about 11, so I still thought of myself as willing get into whatever dirty messy situation to look for the Aurora if asked by that towering giant of a idol Holmes. One of my local friends also thought she would do the same. I had brought her into the world of the Thames and Tonga firing poison darts whilst chasing a missing Treasure.

April 18, 1887: Action’s house in Reigate was broken into [REIG]

Paget illustration of Holmes, Hayter, and Watson

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine

My old friend Colonel Hayter, who had come under my professional care in Afghanistan, had now taken a house near Reigate, in Surrey, and had frequently asked me to come down to him upon a visit. On the last occasion he had remarked that if my friend would only come with me, he would be glad to extend his hospitality to him also. A little diplomacy was needed, but when Holmes understood that the establishment was a bachelor one, and that he would be allowed the fullest freedom, he fell in with my plans, and a week after our return from Lyons we were under the Colonel’s roof. Hayter was a fine old soldier, who had seen much of the world, and he soon found, as I had expected, that Holmes and he had plenty in common.

On the evening of our arrival we were sitting in the Colonel’s gunroom after dinner, Holmes stretched upon the sofa, while Hayter and I looked over his little armoury of firearms.

“By the way,” said he, suddenly, “I think I’ll take one of these pistols upstairs with me in case we have an alarm.”

“An alarm!” said I’

“Yes, we’ve had a scare in this part lately. Old Acton, who is one of our county magnates, had his house broken into last Monday. No great damage done, but the fellows are still at large.”

The interesting point about this Colonel comes from the distinguished Sherlockian scholar D Martin Dakin. In his indispensable research volume A Sherlock Holmes Commentary, he mentions the fact that Colonel Hayter is the only Colonel Holmes had good luck with. Try to think of any other Colonel in the cases who is an honest and upright British citizen. From Colonel Moran on, if you are able to think of such an upright Colonel, let us know. I bet on Dakin.

Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.

On April 17th… Toby and the Wiper


April 17, 1888: Toby led Holmes and Watson on a creosote trail. [SIGN]
(Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.)

One of the errors mentioned in this story in the Canon involves Watson going to pick up Toby the bloodhound from Old Sherman to try to trail the creosote. The quotes from the story that apply to the problem are:

Chapter 5: The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge

[The room] appeared to have been fitted up as a chemical laboratory. A double line of glass-stoppered bottles was drawn up upon the wall opposite the door, and the table was littered over with Bunsen burners, test-tubes, and retorts. In the corners stood carboys of acid in wicker baskets. One of these appeared to leak or to have been broken, for a stream of dark-coloured liquid had trickled out from it, and the air was heavy with a peculiarly pungent, tar-like odour.

Chapter 6: Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration

He whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hurried about the room on his knees, measuring, comparing, examining, with his long, thin nose only a few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. So swift, silent, and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained bloodhound picking out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he turned his energy and sagacity against the law instead of exerting them in its defence. As he hunted about he kept muttering to himself, and finally he broke out into a loud crow of delight.

“We are certainly in luck,” he said. “We ought to have very little trouble now. Number One has had the misfortune to tread in the creosote. You can see the outline of the edge of his small foot here at the side of this evil-smelling mess. The carboy has been cracked, you see, and the stuff has leaked out.”

“What then?” I asked.

“Why, we have got him, that’s all,” said he. “I know a dog that would follow that scent to the world’s end. If a pack can track a trailed herring across a shire, how far can a specially-trained hound follow so pungent a smell as this? […]”

Chapter 6: Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration

I wish you to go to No. 3, Pinchin Lane, down near the water’s edge at Lambeth. The third house on the right-hand side is a bird-stuffer’s; Sherman is the name. You will see a weasel holding a young rabbit in the window. Knock old Sherman up, and tell him, with my compliments, that I want Toby at once. You will bring Toby back in the cab with you.”

“A dog, I suppose?”

“Yes, a queer mongrel, with a most amazing power of scent. I would rather have Toby’s help than that of the whole detective force of London.”

Chapter 7: The Episode of the Barrel

Pinchin Lane was a row of shabby, two-storied brick houses in the lower quarter of Lambeth. I had to knock for some time at No. 3 before I could make any impression. At last, however, there was the glint of a candle behind the blind, and a face looked out at the upper window.

“Go on, you drunken vagabond,” said the face. “If you kick up any more row, I’ll open the kennels and let out forty-three dogs upon you.”

“If you’ll let one out, it’s just what I have come for,” said I.

“Go on!” yelled the voice. “So help me gracious, I have a wiper in this bag, an’ I’ll drop it on your ‘ead if you don’t hook it!”

Can any one tell us what a wiper is that it might need to be carried in a bag and threaten anyone Prevailing Sherlockian scholarly research indicates the word was supposed to be Viper and was a typo, misprint, or a certain Doctor’s handwriting was very hard to read, or the same certain Doctor/Author could not spell well.

On April 16th…

April 16, 1888: Holmes, Watson and Mary Morstan went to Pondicherry Lodge. [SIGN]

We had hardly reached the third pillar, which was our rendezvous, before a small, dark, brisk man in the dress of a coachman accosted us.

“Are you the parties who come with Miss Morstan?” he asked.

“I am Miss Morstan, and these two gentlemen are my friends,” said she.

He bent a pair of wonderfully penetrating and questioning eyes upon us.

“You will excuse me, miss,” he said, with a certain dogged manner, “but I was to ask you to give me your word that neither of your companions is a police-officer.”

“I give you my word on that,” she answered.

He gave a shrill whistle, on which a street arab led across a four-wheeler and opened the door. The man who had addressed us mounted to the box, while we took our places inside. We had hardly done so before the driver whipped up his horse, and we plunged away at a furious pace through the foggy streets.

The situation was a curious one. We were driving to an unknown place on an unknown errand.

April 16, 1897: Brenda Tregennis was murdered, and her two brothers lost their sanity. [DEVI]
Source
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.

On April 15th… “Chips” on the Sign of Four

April 15, 1888: Tonga killed Bartholomew Sholto with a poison dart. [SIGN]

Source
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.

“Chips” writes:

The Sign of Four – my favorite of the long stories.

I enjoyed the story because it incorporated every thing that would take me from my daily life on the plains of Kansas to the fog covered streets of London and then into the warmth of my new home, 221B Baker Street, with my two favorite companions. A pretty female who needed our help. A mysterious mystery which before it was over involved a revenge plot and a stolen missing treasure of incredible fortune.

And then the Villains! A one-legged man and a murderous pygmy with a blow gun and poison darts. Coupled with a chase down a fog-covered river and these words:

“Fire if he raises his hand,” said Holmes, quietly.

We were within a boat’s-length by this time, and almost within touch of our quarry. I can see the two men now as they stood: the white man with his legs far apart, shrieking out curses, and the unhallowed dwarf with his hideous face and his strong, yellow teeth gnashing at us in the light of our lantern.

It was well that we had so clear a view of him. Even as we looked he plucked out from under his covering a short, round piece of wood, like a school-ruler, and clapped it to his lips. Our pistols rang out together. He whirled round, threw his arms in the air, and, with a kind of choking cough, fell sideways into the stream. I caught one glimpse of his venomous, menacing eyes amid the white swirl of the waters.

Then, as an after action, the treasure disappears, but Watson and Mary Morstan declared their love for each other.

Years later, I met my wife – Mary, as fate would have it. And another quote from the story ends my piece:

“Because I love you, Mary, as truly as ever a man loved a woman. Because this treasure, these riches, sealed my lips. Now that they are gone I can tell you how I love you. That is why I said, `Thank God’.”

“Then I say `Thank God,’ too,” she whispered, as I drew her to my side.

Whoever had lost a treasure, I knew that night that I had gained one.

And that describes my wife who is my life for 45 years and going strong forever.

-Ron, aka The Sign of Four

On April 14th…

April 14, 1887: Holmes lay ill in the Hotel Dulong at Lyons. [REIG]

Three days later we were back in Baker Street together, but it was evident that my friend would be much the better for a change, and the thought of a week of springtime in the country was full of attractions to me also. My old friend Colonel Hayter, who had come under my professional care in Afghanistan, had now taken a house near Reigate, in Surrey, and had frequently asked me to come down to him upon a visit. On the last occasion he had remarked that if my friend would only come with me, he would be glad to extend his hospitality to him also.

Paget illustration of Holmes, Hayter, and Watson

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine

A little diplomacy was needed, but when Holmes understood that the establishment was a bachelor one, and that he would be allowed the fullest freedom, he fell in with my plans, and a week after our return from Lyons we were under the Colonel’s roof. Hayter was a fine old soldier, who had seen much of the world, and he soon found, as I had expected, that Holmes and he had plenty in common.

On the evening of our arrival we were sitting in the Colonel’s gunroom after dinner, Holmes stretched upon the sofa, while Hayter and I looked over his little armoury of firearms.

Source
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.