On November 20th…

November 20, 1901: Bob Ferguson called on Holmes for advice [SUSS]

Illustration by Howard K Elcock for The Strand Magazine (January, 1924)

Promptly at ten o’clock next morning Ferguson strode into our room. I had remembered him as a long, slab-sided man with loose limbs and a fine turn of speed, which had carried him round many an opposing back. There is surely nothing in life more painful than to meet the wreck of a fine athlete whom one has known in his prime. His great frame had fallen in, his flaxen hair was scanty, and his shoulders were bowed. I fear that I roused corresponding emotions in him.

‘Hullo, Watson,’ said he, and his voice was still deep and hearty. ‘You don’t look quite the man you did when I threw you over the ropes into the crowd at the Old Deer Park. I expect I have changed a bit also. But it’s this last day or two that has aged me. I see by your telegram, Mr Holmes, that it is no use my pretending to be anyone’s deputy.’

‘It is simpler to deal direct,’ said Holmes.

‘Of course it is. But you can imagine how difficult it is when you are speaking of the one woman you are bound to protect and help. What can I do? How am I to go to the police with such a story? And yet the kiddies have got to be protected. Is it madness, Mr Holmes? Is it something in the blood? Have you any similar case in your experience? For God’s sake, give me some advice, for I am at my wits’ end.’

November 20, 1901: Holmes told Bob Ferguson that his son, Jacky had tried to poison the baby [SUSS]

Illustration by Howard K Elcock for The Strand Magazine (January, 1924)

‘Jacky!’

‘I watched him as you fondled the child just now. His face was clearly reflected in the glass of the window where the shutter formed a background. I saw such jealousy, such cruel hatred, as I have seldom seen in a human face.’

‘My Jacky!’

‘You have to face it, Mr Ferguson. It is the more painful because it is a distorted love, a maniacal exaggerated love for you, and possibly for his dead mother, which has prompted his action. His very soul is consumed with hatred for this splendid child, whose health and beauty are a contrast to his own weakness.’

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

On November 19th…

Illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele for Collier’s (December 12, 1908)

November 19, 1895: Cadogan West’s body was found on the underground tracks around 6 a.m. [BRUC]

The body was found at six on the Tuesday morning. It was lying wide of the metals upon the left hand of the track as one goes eastward, at a point close to the station, where the line emerges from the tunnel in which it runs. The head was badly crushed – an injury which might well have been caused by a fall from the train. The body could only have come on the fine in that way. Had it been carried down from any neighbouring street, it must have passed the station barriers, where a collector is always standing. This point seems absolutely certain.

November 19, 1901: Holmes received a letter about vampires. [SUSS]

Illustration by Howard K Elcock for The Strand Magazine (January, 1924)

46 OLD JEWRY
Nov. 19th.
Re Vampires

Sir,

Our client, Mr Robert Ferguson, of Ferguson & Muirhead, tea brokers, of Mincing Lane, has made some inquiry from us in a communication of even date concerning vampires. As our firm specializes entirely upon the assessment of machinery the matter hardly comes within our purview, and we have therefore recommended Mr Ferguson to call upon you and lay the matter before you. We have not forgotten your successful action in the case of Matilda Briggs.

We are, Sir,
Faithfully yours,
MORRISON, MORRISON, AND DODD
per E.J.C.

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

On November 18th…

November 18, 1895: Oberstein murdered Arthur Cadogan West. [BRUC] (Spoilers! –Selena Buttons)

Illustration by Arthur Twidle for The Strand Magazine (December, 1908)

‘He had his suspicions before, and he followed me as you describe. I never knew it until I was at the very door. It was thick fog, and one could not see three yards. I had given two taps and Oberstein had come to the door. The young man rushed up and demanded to know what we were about to do with the papers. Oberstein had a short life-preserver. He always carried it with him. As West forced his way after us into the house Oberstein struck him on the head. The blow was a fatal one. He was dead within five minutes. There he lay in the hall, and we were at our wits’ end what to do. Then Oberstein had this idea about the trains which halted under his back window. But first he examined the papers which I had brought. He said that three of them were essential, and that he must keep them. “You cannot keep them,” said I. “There will be a dreadful row at Woolwich if they are not returned.””I must keep them,” said he, “for they are so technical that it is impossible in the time to make copies.” “Then they must all go back together to-night,” said I. He thought for a little, and then he cried out that he had it. “Three I will keep,” said he. “The others we will stuff into the pocket of this young man. When he is found the whole business will assuredly be put to his account.” I could see no other way out of it, so we did as he suggested. We waited half an hour at the window before a train stopped. It was so thick that nothing could be seen, and we had no difficulty in lowering West’s body on to the train. That was the end of the matter so far as I was concerned.’

November 18, 1901: Bob Ferguson’s wife fell ill. [SUSS]

Illustration by Howard K. Elcock for The Strand Magazine (January, 1924)

I followed the girl, who was quivering with strong emotion, up the staircase and down an ancient corridor. At the end was an iron-clamped and massive door. It struck me as I looked at it that if Ferguson tried to force his way to his wife he would find it no easy matter. The girl drew a key from her pocket, and the heavy oaken planks creaked upon their old hinges. I passed in and she swiftly followed, fastening the door behind her.

On the bed a woman was lying who was clearly in a high fever. She was only half conscious, but as I entered she raised a pair of frightened but beautiful eyes and glared at me in apprehension. Seeing a stranger, she appeared to be relieved, and sank back with a sigh upon the pillow. I stepped up to her with a few reassuring words, and she lay still while I took her pulse and temperature. Both were high, and yet my impression was that the condition was rather that of mental and nervous excitement than of any actual seizure.

Birth of an Irene

Publicity material for Sherlock Holmes (2009)

On November 17, 1978, Rachel Anne McAdams was born in London, Ontario, Canada. She began acting as a teenager in theater productions and earned a BFA in Theatre at York University.

In 2009, she appeared as Irene Adler in the film Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson (respectively).

On November 16th…

Eugen Sandow (1889)

In a diary entry on November 16, 1898, Arthur Conan Doyle recorded his clothed weight as 219 pounds. As he approached his 40th birthday, his rather sedentary lifestyle was catching up with him. To get back into shape, he adopted the fitness regimen prescribed by famous strong man Eugen Sandow.

Nothing, in my opinion, is better than the use of the dumb-bell, for developing the whole system, particularly if it is used intelligently, and with a knowledge of the location and functions of the muscles. (Eugen Sandow, Sandow on Physical Training: A Study in the Perfect Type of the Human Form, 1894)

He was the fitness guru of the day, perhaps something like a Richard Simmons without television appearances.

Sources: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”); The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, by Andrew Lycett

“Chips” notes that if you don’t have a copy of the fabulous A Curious Collection of Dates, you might want to suggest it as gift for an upcoming holiday.

Watsonians in the Post

The Fall 2017 issue of The Watsonian has been arriving across the US this week, and is expected to begin landing on the other side of the pond soon. If you do not receive your copy, please do let Selena Buttons know!

Email notifications were sent out last night for the digital edition. The notifications look just like the original email you received when joining the Society, but they now include the link to download the newest issue.

We have a great mix of scholarship, observations, and fiction in this issue, as well as beautiful artwork and a particularly cryptic puzzle from our own Pawky Puzzler, Margie Deck (JHWS “Mopsy”). You’ll find some familiar names and some first-time contributors, hailing from locations all over the globe. We sincerely hope that you will find something that makes you think and something that makes you smile within those pages. Let us know what you think!

On November 6th…

November 6, 1857: The Gloria Scott sank. [GLOR]

The prison hulk, Success, at Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

These are the very papers, Watson, which he handed to me, and I will read them to you as I read them in the old study that night to him. They are indorsed outside, as you see: “Some particulars of the voyage of the barque Gloria Scott, from her leaving Falmouth on the 8th October, 1855, to her destruction in N. lat. 15° 20′, W. long. 25° 14′, on November 6th.”

[…]The seamen had hauled the foreyard aback during the rising, but now as we left them they brought it square again, and, as there was a light wind from the north and east, the barque began to draw slowly away from us. Our boat lay, rising and falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and Evans and I, who were the most educated of the party, were sitting in the sheets working out our position and planning what coast we should make for. It was a nice question, for the Cape de Verds was about 500 miles to the north of us, and the African coast about 700 miles to the east. On the whole, as the wind was coming round to north, we thought that Sierra Leone might be best, and turned our head in that direction, the barque being at that time nearly hull down on our starboard quarter. Suddenly as we looked at her we saw a dense black cloud of smoke shoot up from her, which hung like a monstrous tree upon the sky-line. A few seconds later a roar like thunder burst upon our ears, and as the smoke thinned away there was no sign left of the Gloria Scott.

Limerick Corner: A Toast to Sherlock Holmes

Last night, the Curious Collectors of Baker Street held an event called “Sherlock Gets Schooled” – an evening all about Holmes’s own education and the broader subject of schools in the Canon. I was asked to give the toast to Sherlock Holmes, and I decided to try my hand at writing a limerick.

My hat is officially off to those of you who write all those clever limericks!

Since our dear “Chips” is a fan of limericks, and it happens to be his birthday today, I’d like to share my very first (and quite possibly last!) Sherlockian limericks.

Sherlock Holmes shares few facts from his past
So tiny details large shadows cast
Ribbons athletes sport
Take on great import
If they name his alma mater at last

He was clearly a Cambridge man, some claim
Others carry the Oxonian flame
Wherever his class
Let’s all raise a glass
To the Master, and his own good name

To Sherlock Holmes!

Limerick Corner: Hound of the Baskervilles

A two-part limerick from Sandy Kozinn (JHWS “Roxie”):

Someone’s killing at Baskerville, and fast.
Will the current heir end up the last?
His chances were poor:
The hound howled on the moor.
Then Holmes saw that picture from the past.

The experience wasn’t much fun,
And the end bad for ‘most everyone.
Moral: Don’t walk at night
When a dog might shine bright
Or the way through the swamps been undone.

The Hound and the Bittern: A Sherlockian Sonnet by William S Dorn

The Hound and the Bittern

In the days of yore the old tales tell,
Of a spectral hound Sir Hugo much did dread.
It followed him till last he fell,
Then tore at his throat until he was quite dead.

Anon Sir Charles by the moor he did wait.
Next morn the gentle man’s remains were found.
He laid face down quite near a lonely gate,
Beside him prints of a gigantic hound.

Then Watson came to Baskerville, the Hall,
He strolled the moor and heard a frightening noise.
One man did say it was a bittern’s call,
So fierce it was the doctor lost his poise.

Alas it was the massive hound that glows,
In phosphor spread in globs from jowls to nose.

Illustration of a bittern swallowing a frog from A History of British Birds, 1st Edition, 1843, by William Yarrell