On November 28th…

Illustration by Walter Paget for The Strand Magazine (December, 1913)

November 28, 1890: Holmes fasted for a second day. [DYIN]

He was indeed a deplorable spectacle. In the dim light of a foggy November day the sick-room was a gloomy spot, but it was that gaunt wasted face staring at me from the bed which sent a chill to my heart. His eyes had the brightness of fever, there was a hectic flush upon either cheek, and dark crusts clung to his lips. The thin hands upon the coverlet twitched incessantly. His voice was croaking and spasmodic. He lay listlessly as I entered the room but the sight of me brought a gleam of recognition to his eyes.

On November 27th…

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in “The Dying Detective” (Granada, 1994)

November 27, 1890: Holmes fasted. [DYIN]

‘Three days of absolute fast does not improve one’s beauty, Watson. For the rest there is nothing which a sponge may not cure. With vaseline upon one’s forehead, belladonna in one’s eyes, rouge over the cheek-bones, and crusts of beeswax round one’s lips a very satisfying effect can be produced. Malingering is a subject upon which I have sometimes thought of writing a monograph. A little occasional talk about half-crowns, oysters, or any other extraneous subject produces a pleasing effect of delirium.’

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

On November 26th…

HMS Orontes [Griffin & Co, 1880]

November 26, 1880: The Orontes docked at Portsmouth bearing Watson. [STUD]

Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base hospital at Peshawur. Here I rallied, and had already improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to bask a little upon the verandah, when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse of our Indian possessions. For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to England. I was dispatched, accordingly, in the troopship Orontes, and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ruined, but with permission from a paternal government to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it.

Illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele for The Strand Magazine (1913)

 

November 26, 1890: Holmes took to his bed. [DYIN]

I was horrified, for I had heard nothing of his illness. I need not say that I rushed for my coat and my hat. As we drove back I asked for the details.

‘There is little I can tell you, sir. He has been working at a case down at Rotherhithe in an alley near the river and he has brought this illness back with him. He took to his bed on Wednesday afternoon and has never moved since. For these three days neither food nor drink have passed his lips.’

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

Limerick Corner: Sussex Vampire

Two more limericks today:

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

There’s a beautiful wife from Peru
Whose behavior has Bob in a stew.
He tells Holmes that she’s wild;
That she’s bitten their child.
Can it be we’ve a vampire in view?
-Issac Asimov, BSI

The Sussex Vampire

Though Ferguson hoped for protection
From a vampire, Holmes’s detection
Revealed that the nibbling
Was caused by the sibling,
Begrudging his father’s affection.
-Wallace W Higgins

Yolanda Vazquez as Carlotta Ferguson (Granada, 1993)

Limerick Corner: Sussex Vampire

Since we have nothing as recorded for this date in the source book I use for daily occurrences, I am including another limerick on the Sussex Vampire. This one is from that very talented limerick author and member of our group, Sandy Kozinn (JHWS “Roxie” and ASH “Esmeralda”).

Two stokers inside a ventilation cowl on the HMS Spiteful, 1901 (Black & White Illustrated Budget, December 21, 1901)

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

There once was a wicked young boy,
Poisoned weapons his favorite toy.
Maimed his dog. For another,
tried to kill his young brother,
off to sea with that vicious young boy!

-Esmeralda

Chips says: I have a built in hatred of any one who hurts a animal other than for the reason of self-protection or others’ protection. Therefore, young Jacky in this story committed – in my opinion – the ultimate crime and deserves the ultimate punishment: becoming shark food would be too good for him but it would keep him from harming another of God’s creatures again.

Just a thought…

[Capital punishment by shark seems a little bit harsh. He could probably use a good scare, though. -Selena Buttons]

Limerick Corner: Sussex Vampire

We have nothing recorded as from the Canon for this date, so I felt that a limerick for this story from the author of the source book I use for daily occurrences in the Cannon would fit in well here.

Richard Dempsey as Jack Ferguson (Granada, 1993)

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

The Babe’s mother sucked blood from his neck,
Of her Husband it made quite a wreck.
Jacky poisoned the child,
So young Jack was exiled
To a whole year at sea, what the heck!

William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP

Just a random thought: How would a year at sea and before returning to the family have cured young Jacky of his hatred for his stepbrother? What would have cured him?

On November 22nd…

November 22, 1895: Colonel Valentine Walter confessed to stealing the Submarine plans. [BRUC]

Jonathan Newth as Col. Valentine Walter (Granada, 1988)

‘I can assure you,’ said Holmes, ‘that every essential is already known. We know that you were pressed for money, that you took an impress of the keys which your brother held, and that you entered into a correspondence with Oberstein, who answered your letters through the advertisement columns of the Daily Telegraph. We are aware that you went down to the office in the fog of Monday night, but that you were seen and followed by young Cadogan West, who had probably some previous reason to suspect you. He saw your theft, but could not give the alarm, as it was just possible that you were taking the papers to your brother in London. Leaving all his private concerns, like the good citizen that he was, he followed you closely in the fog, and kept at your heels until you reached this very house. There he intervened, and then it was, Colonel Walter, that to treason you added the more terrible crime of murder.’

‘I did not! I did not! Before God I swear that I did not!’ cried our wretched prisoner.

‘Tell us, then, how Cadogan West met his end before you laid him upon the roof of a railway carriage.’

‘I will. I swear to you that I will. I did the rest. I confess it. It was just as you say. A Stock Exchange debt had to be paid. I needed the money badly. Oberstein offered me five thousand. It was to save myself from ruin. But as to murder, I am as innocent as you.’

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

On November 21st…

November 21, 1895: Mycroft asked Holmes to find the stolen submarine plans. [BRUC]

‘[…]Every effort has been made to keep the secret. The plans, which are exceedingly intricate, comprising some thirty separate patents, each essential to the working of the whole, are kept in an elaborate safe in a confidential office adjoining the Arsenal, with burglar-proof doors and windows. Under no conceivable circumstances were the plans to be taken from the office. If the Chief Constructor of the Navy desired to consult them, even he was forced to go to the Woolwich office for the purpose. And yet here we find them in the pockets of a dead junior clerk in the heart of London. From an official point of view it’s simply awful.’

‘But you have recovered them?’

‘No, Sherlock, no! That’s the pinch. We have not. Ten papers were taken from Woolwich. There were seven in the pockets of Cadogan West. The three most essential are gone – stolen, vanished. You must drop everything, Sherlock. Never mind your usual petty puzzles of the police-court. It’s a vital international problem that you have to solve. Why did Cadogan West take the papers, where are the missing ones, how did he die, how came his body where it was found, how can the evil be set right? Find an answer to all these questions, and you will have done good service for your country.’

November 21, 1901: Holmes wrote to thank Morrison, Morrison and Dodd for their letter about vampires. [SUSS]

BAKER STREET,
Nov. 21st.
Re Vampires

Sir,

Referring to your letter of the 19th, I beg to state that I have looked into the inquiry of your client, Mr Robert Ferguson, of Ferguson and Muirhead, tea brokers, of Mincing Lane, and that the matter has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. With thanks for your recommendation,

I am, Sir,
Faithfully yours,
SHERLOCK HOLMES

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

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.

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

On October 19th…

October 19, 1889: Holmes and Watson shot and killed the Hound of the Baskervilles. [HOUN]

 

A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish, be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog.

Illustrations by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

With long bounds the huge black creature was leaping down the track, following hard upon the footsteps of our friend. So paralysed were we by the apparition that we allowed him to pass before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired together, and the creature gave a hideous howl, which showed that one at least had hit him. He did not pause, however, but bounded onwards. Far away on the path we saw Sir Henry looking back, his face white in the moonlight, his hands raised in horror, glaring helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunting him down.

But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him. Never have I seen a man run as Holmes ran that night. I am reckoned fleet of foot, but he outpaced me as much as I outpaced the little professional. In front of us as we flew up the track we heard scream after scream from Sir Henry and the deep roar of the hound. I was in time to see the beast spring upon its victim, hurl him to the ground and worry at his throat. But the next instant Holmes had emptied five barrels of his revolver into the creature’s flank. With a last howl of agony and a vicious snap in the air it rolled upon its back, four feet pawing furiously, and then fell limp upon its side. I stooped, panting, and pressed my pistol to the dreadful, shimmering head, but it was useless to press the trigger. The giant hound was dead.

October 19, 1889: Jack Stapleton perished in the Grimpen Mire. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

But more than that we were never destined to know, though there was much which we might surmise. There was no chance of finding footsteps in the mire, for the rising mud oozed swiftly in upon them, but as we at last reached firmer ground beyond the morass we all looked eagerly for them. But no slightest sign of them ever met our eyes. If the earth told a true story, then Stapleton never reached that island of refuge towards which he struggled through the fog upon that last night. Somewhere in the heart of the great Grimpen Mire, down in the foul slime of the huge morass which had sucked him in, this cold and cruel-hearted man is for ever buried.

On October 18th…

The third episode of the first season (airdate: October 18, 1976) of The Muppet Show included a sketch featuring Holmes and Watson: “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues”.

Doesn’t look familiar? That’s possibly because the sketch was filmed specially for the UK broadcast of the show, which was two minutes longer than the US broadcast, thanks to a difference in commercial break times.

(Source: Muppet Wiki)

On October 15th…

October 15, 1889: Watson wrote his second report to Holmes. [HOUN]

Detail of Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh

Baskerville Hall, Oct. 15th

My Dear Holmes, If I was compelled to leave you without much news during the early days of my mission you must acknowledge that I am making up for lost time, and that events are now crowding thick and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon my top note with Barrymore at the window, and now I have quite a budget already which will, unless I am much mistaken, considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could not have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall judge for yourself.