April 17, 1888: The launch Aurora disappeared. [SIGN]
He was approaching the door of the house, when it opened, and a little curly-headed lad of six came running out, followed by a stoutish, red-faced woman with a large sponge in her hand.
“You come back and be washed, Jack,” she shouted. “Come back, you young imp; for if your father comes home and finds you like that he’ll let us hear of it.”
“Dear little chap!” cried Holmes, strategically. “What a rosy-cheeked young rascal! Now, Jack, is there anything you would like?”
The youth pondered for a moment.
“I’d like a shillin’,” said he.
“Nothing you would like better?”
“I’d like two shillin’ better,” the prodigy answered, after some thought.
“Here you are, then! Catch! – A fine child, Mrs. Smith!”
“Lor’ bless you, sir, he is that, and forward. He gets a’most too much for me to manage, ‘specially when my man is away days at a time.”
“Away, is he?” said Holmes, in a disappointed voice. “I am sorry for that, for I wanted to speak with Mr. Smith.”
“He’s been away since yesterday mornin’, sir, and, truth to tell, I am beginning to feel frightened about him. But if it was about a boat, sir, maybe I could serve as well.”
“I wanted to hire his steam-launch.”
“Why, bless you, sir, it is in the steam-launch that he has gone. That’s what puzzles me; for I know there ain’t no more coals in her than would take her to about Woolwich and back. If he’d been away in the barge I’d ha’ thought nothin’; for many a time a job has taken him as far as Gravesend, and then if there was much doin’ there he might ha’ stayed over. But what good is a steam-launch without coals?”
So, what will Holmes and Watson do? How will they find the Aurora (besides looking east next to the Denver? Bad inside Colorado joke!!)
To find out the answer to Holmes’s dilemma, check out the Tid Bits column tomorrow, the 18th. Also coming later, another puzzling contradiction that makes this story a mishmash of scholarly debate!
Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes according to Ziesler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI.