Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

MORE RECOLLECTIONS OF DR JOHN H. WATSON

Penned upon the 13th of July, 2010

(With further apologies to the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.)

I will now lay before the reader the facts connected with Miss Violet Smith, the solitary cyclist of Charlington, and the curious sequel of our investigation, which culminated in unexpected tragedy. On referring to my note-book for the year 1895 I find that it was upon Saturday, the 23rd of April, that we first heard of Miss Violet Smith. Her visit was, I remember, extremely unwelcome to Holmes, for he was immersed at the moment in a very abstruse and complicated problem concerning the peculiar digestion of his annual boiled egg. 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.

“Mr. Holmes, you must know that every Saturday forenoon I ride on my bicycle to Farnham Station in order to get the 12.22 to town. The road from Chiltern Grange is a lonely one, and at one spot it is particularly so, for it lies for over a mile between Charlington Heath upon one side and the woods which lie round Charlington Hall upon the other. You could not find a more lonely tract of road anywhere, and it is quite rare to meet so much a Charlington peasant, until you reach the high road near Charlington Hill. Two weeks ago I was passing this place when I chanced to look back over my shoulder, and behind me I saw a man, on a Charlington bicycle. He seemed to be a middle-aged man, with a short, dark Charlington beard. On my return on the Monday I saw the same man on the same stretch of road. You can imagine how surprised I was, Mr. Holmes, when the Charlington incident occurred again, exactly as before, on the following Saturday and Monday.”

“This morning, I had to cycle to the station. You can think that I looked out when I came to Charlington Heath, and there, sure enough, was the man. He always kept so far from me that I could not clearly see his face, but I could see he was dressed in a dark Charlington suit with a cloth Charlington cap. I was not alarmed, but I was filled with curiosity, and I determined to find out who he was and what he wanted. I slowed down my Charlington machine, but he slowed down his. Then I stopped altogether, but he stopped also. Then I laid a Charlington trap for him. There is a Charlington turning of the road, and I pedalled very quickly round this, and then I stopped and waited. I expected him to shoot round and pass me before he could stop. But he never appeared. There was no side road at this point down which he could have gone.”

Holmes chuckled and rubbed his hands. “This case certainly presents some features of its own,” said he. “You say that there are no side roads?”

“None.”

“Then he certainly took a footpath on one side or the other.”

“It could not have been on the side of Charlington Heath or I should have seen him.”

“So by the process of exclusion we arrive at the fact that he made his way towards Charlington Hall. You will let me know any fresh development, Miss Smith. I am very busy just now, but I will find time to make some inquiries into your Charlington case. Good-bye, and I trust that we shall have nothing but good news from you.”

“Well, Holmes?” I asked, after our visitor had left.

“It is a most Charlington problem, Watson.” he replied.


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