The Soldier Named Murray

Royal Horse Artillery and the 66th Foot before the Battle of Maiwand – ‎Richard Caton Woodville, Jr (1856-1927)

“Chips” sends in this poetic toast by Jody Baker (AKA Insp. Baynes, and who in turn gives thanks to Paul Hartnett (JHWS “Scout”)) to he without whom our dear Dr Watson would have perished before ever meeting Holmes.

On the Afghan side of a mountain pass
In the land that’s ruled from Kabul,
Our assistant regimental surgeon
Was a kid just fresh out of school.

He had spent some time at Netley, though;
And they’d taught him mighty well
How to patch up battered infantry troops
Who had fought their way through hell.

Now the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers
Were safe back in Candahar,
And he could’ve stayed back there with them,
If he’d wanted to sit out the war.

But he cast his lot with the Berkshires,
And he joined us in the fight
As we neared the village of Maiwand,
Troops deployed both left and right.

Then those murd’rous stinkin’ Ghazis
Soon filled the air with lead.
And when a slug hit the doctor’s leg,
My Gawd, — how that man bled.

Since I was the doctor’s orderly
I was fightin’ by his side;
And when he fell, I picked him up.
Lor’ — I thought the man had died.

So I slung him over my shoulder
And was headed toward the rear,
When another slug from a Ghazi gun
Brought an end to his career.

It split the spine of his scapula,
And it pierced his body too.
I knew he was hit, and I knew it was bad,
And I thought that he might be through.

So, I held him even closer
And kept on running to the back,
Where I grabbed the Company work-horse
And strapped the doctor to its pack.

We dressed the wounds. We stopped the blood.
And we did what we could do;
But the man was hurt – he was hurt real bad;
And he needed surgery, too.

So we sent him east to Candahar,
Where he joined with several more
To form a train, and then move
North to our base in Pesh’war.

In the base hospital in Pesh’war
Where they nursed him back to health,
They said that our treatment in the field
Saved the man from certain death.

Watson has praised me for my courage,
And for my devotion to the deed,
And for risks I took in saving the life
Of the man whose tales we read.

So pull your chairs up close to the hearth fire,
When it’s cold and the snows are a-flurry.
As you talk about Watson and marvel at Holmes,
Drink a toast to the soldier named Murray.

A Love Affair for Life

My favorite edition is and always will be the Doubleday one volume edition. This volume was the Shangri-La of my childhood. I started out reading an abridged version of the story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. The story was in a weekly messenger that my Catholic school received for the 7th and 8th grade. The purpose was to introduce more adult literature since we were becoming young adults. Instead it started a life time and devotion in one underweight, under-muscled, lonely, bespectacled boy.

I could not get enough of 221B and my two new devoted companions. We solved the mystery and brought Justice where we could. And best of all, they were there with only an opening of a book! I went through all the stories I could find in our small school library. I then harassed our local city public library for library loans. One of the Librarians mentioned in an off-handed tone that Rector’s Book Store downtown had a One Volume collection of all 60(!!!) stories of Holmes and Watson. I had to have that treasure!

So getting my Mom to call down to the store, I found out the horrible information the book was $10.00! The price seemed so unattainable. So as my Mom taught me, I dug into my piggy savings bank and found out I had a whole lot of chores for my neighbors, mowing of neighbors’ lawns with my father’s hand push mower in my future. Finally, those fund raising efforts and a very generous contribution from my Mom made the unobtainable mine.

Mom and I went down one Saturday morning by bus. I normally was in awe of the huge world of books in the store. Not today. Straight to the adult mystery’s section, grabbing the one volume treasure, and straight to the cashiers. When we got there, my Mom stayed in the background while I pulled out my fist of money and laid the desired treasure down in front of the clerk. The clerk looked at the rather large book, about 1300 pages, thumbed through it, saw who he guessed was my Mother in back of me. He spoke out to her: “Ma’am I do not think he would like this book. It is so large and has no pictures.”

My Mom in her coldest tone said, “He wants this book. He does not need pictures to read a book as you do.”

The clerk very quickly rang up the book, took my money from the counter, gave me change and walked with us and apologized all the way out of the store, holding the door open for us, and urged us to come again.

Now as to why the Doubleday one volume is my favorite. You can do no better than the Preface “In Memoriam”. To quote: “The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is triumphant illustration of art’s supremacy over life.” I had my first glimpse of that now familiar sitting room. I learned the major and minor details of Holmesiana to be able spend endless hours of my life in blissful enjoyment discussing these with other dyed in the blood addicts.

I also was able to see my first picture of the flat at 221B Baker Street.

A Limerick for Mary (from Ron “Chips” Lies)

I am going to post a limerick here by the great Isaac Asimov. The limerick is about The Sign of Four, which I will be posting about in the next few days. That is not the total reason that I am posting.

This limerick has been a love poem from myself to my wife, Mary. And I want to spread the word about just how fantastic a wife my Mary has been and how incredibly lucky I am to have her fall in love with me and stay with me through all the good and bad times for 45 years now and at least that many more.

The Sign of the Four

Muttered Sherlock” Never mind Cocaine’s pleasure,
Let us seek out the famed Agra Treasure.”
Answered Watson,”No pearls,
For Myself—only girls;
And its Mary who is made to my measure.”
-Isaac Asimov, BSI (and so much more)

[That is beautiful. I seem to have something in my eye… -Selena Buttons]

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

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?

A Puzzle For You

If you are a jigsaw puzzle fan and a Sherlock Holmes fan, this is for you. Look at this picture, and you are overwhelmed by the World of 1895 that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle captured.

You have pictures of the Holmes brothers, the Ultimate Villain, the devoted Dr Watson and the imagined Femme Fatale.

There are so many of those phrases that we have grown to love, to quote, and to try to live in our everyday actions. How many of us have looked around all everyday situations and tried not just to see but to observe? To count the steps we walk up every day and find out we had no idea that there may be seventeen steps!

This puzzle even has a SPOILER section revealing all 60 of the cases and their villains.  Scenes from the Canon, the cover of Mrs. Beeton’s Christmas Annuals and the cliff at Reichenbach Falls in the Final (or is it?) Problem.  And there is more. So, So much more.

For under $20 ($14.99 USD, to be exact), you can have hours of frustrating satisfaction and unlimited enjoyment. The Think Geek folks did not make this easy but they made it well worth the effort. Truly, thanks to them, The Game is Afoot.

Available now at Sherlock Holmes 1000pc Puzzle.

The Flat at 221B by Jody Baker (AKA Inspector Baynes)

Jody was a good friend, again one I never met, but we exchanged e-mails and grew to be friends. I was a long-distance member of his society, Friends of the Soldier Named Murray. The group had the distinction of being the only active Scion in a Retirement Home recognized by Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars. When Jody and his wife decided it was time to move to a facility where his wife and he had the care they needed , they brought their love of All Things Sherlock with them. Their society was a hit with other residents and members all over the world with whom he had communicated. Their monthly meetings and their gazette, The Alpha Gazette, were lively and entertaining and full of a love of his passionate desire of the World of 1895. This is one article of many he and I exchanged. He informed me I could pass them along to keep the word of the Master forever Green.


The pleasure of seeing a mystery unveiled or a puzzle revealed might be the major attraction of the canonical tales. But these are found in most mystery stories that follow the plot formula of Poe. As we search for the distinguishing characteristic of the Holmes tales, perhaps, we might look at the “snuggery” factor If there ever was a cozy retreat, it was 221B Baker Street.

Though large enough to be “airy,” the flat was a self-contained unit where every necessity and every comfort were on hand for Holmes and Watson. Mrs. Hudson was always there to send up “beef, bread and beer” for the sideboard, or a hearty breakfast in the mornings, tea in the afternoons and other repast as needed, at any time. (How fortunate this fraternity of two to have Mrs. Hudson for a housemother.)

The tantalus, we know, was endowed with an endless supply of whisky. The nearby gasogene was never once known to run out of gas. Tobacco in the Persian slipper and cigars in the coal scuttle were there for the satisfaction of smokers. There was no shortage here of chemical contentment.

Resources to be consulted were always within reach. No need to go out on a stormy night to review records at the public library or the CID files at the Yard. Everything was right here. There were commonplace books for data, the agony columns, notes on old cases and techniques of past investigations and a supply of name directories for all manner of identifications. With everything on hand, Holmes rarely had to leave the fireside to research his cases.

Then, too, there was the warmth of the hearth fire to which our characters were drawn for their camaraderie and conversations. Nothing could be more comfortable than to walk from the blazing coal grate over to the nearby bow window and gaze out into the winter night. (Giant snowflakes float from a dark sky and land on wet cobblestones glistening with the reflected light of gas lamps.)

As an element of security, 221B was a second floor flat which commanded a full view of both the street below and the front door to the residence. Inside, the sound from the treads of 17 steps told Holmes much about a visitor even before the knock at the sitting room door, giving him the advantage over all who called upon him. By the strength of his personality, the clarity of his perception and his innate mental superiority, Holmes could dominate anyone who ventured to enter this sanctum sanctorum. (The mother-bird protects the nest by exercising control over it.)

Finally and most important, there was the fast, warm, manly friendship between two individuals, each of whom could accept the shortcomings of the other and appreciate the strengths of the other. Their personalities, though different, were complementary and not conflictive. Each was supremely confident of his own abilities in his own field. Holmes had his crimes to solve, and Watson had his romances (with the women of many nations on three continents) to pursue. Neither suffered from the insecurity which sometimes forces men to compete where competition serves no useful purpose.

These are a few of the factors of the friendship and of the snuggery in which that friendship prospered. In looking for the attraction of the Holmes tales, these should not be overlooked.

Josiah “Jody” Baker

A Sherlock Holmes Society,
at The Terrace On Mountain Creek

A Note From Chips

I know I promised a song about the female villain in “The Three Gables”. I have to change that. I have not had a great few months health wise, now being confined to a wheelchair and taking pills that help make a fortune for the drug companies. So I turned to my Sherlockian world of 1895. I have not been disappointed. I had a surprise arrive for me in the post today. I wish I had a picture of Selena, aka Beth, who has to have one of the most beautiful hearts and souls in our group.

Readers to my column know how much I am interested in dating what happened and when in the canon. Never mind the little problem of reality. I had been lucky enough to accumulate some of the volumes from those Sherlockian scholars who have gone down this road before. Selena acquired a copy of one of those valuable fascinating volumes and send it to me as a present. The book is The Date being–?: A Compendium of Chronological Data (Expanded and Revised) by Andrew Jay Peck and Leslie S Klinger. This book is the guide to find out which of the great researchers have dated which story. It is simply The Volume to go to. Not only did Beth get a copy which is a Herculean task. She then had it autographed by Les Klinger, the truly best researcher Sherlockian living today. She also autographed the book to me too.

I will never be able to touch on thanking in any way Beth for what she has done for me. How she has given me a renewal of faith in people who go above and beyond to be so kind and caring to one she never met. Beth in our many communications in the past has helped me so much more than she can ever know. And now she has renewed my desire to live in the world of 1895. I love you, Beth.

[You are entirely too kind, Ron. –Beth, “Selena Buttons”]

[PS from Selena: Les Klinger has a few copies of the book that can be purchased from him directly, if anyone else would like to have one of their very own. 🙂 ]

On June 2nd…

According to A Day by Day Chronology of Mr Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn, BSI and DWNP, on June 2, 1902, the house agent presented Mrs Maberly terms of sale for Three Gables. [3GAB]

Mary Ellis as Mary Maberly in “The Three Gables” (1994)

“Yesterday the man arrived with the agreement all drawn out. Luckily I showed it to Mr. Sutro, my lawyer, who lives in Harrow. He said to me, `This is a very strange document. Are you aware that if you sign it you could not legally take anything out of the house – not even your own private possessions?’ When the man came again in the evening I pointed this out, and I said that I meant only to sell the furniture.
” `No, no; everything,’ said he.
” `But my clothes? My jewels?’
” `Well, well, some concession might be made for your personal effects. But nothing shall go out of the house unchecked. My client is a very liberal man, but he has his fads and his own way of doing things. It is everything or nothing with him.’
” `Then it must be nothing,’ said I. And there the matter was left, but the whole thing seemed to me to be so unusual that I thought – ”
Here we had a very extraordinary interruption.

A Bit on Tid Bits

I always meant the definition of Tid Bits to be as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it: “a small and particularly interesting item of gossip or information”.

So, from time to time I will be adding a small and, to me, particularly interesting item of gossip or information. I hope you find the tid bit interesting too. If not, please let me know. This is my baby, so Selena is not to be blamed, just me in this case for as long as it lasts.

Yours in Sherlockian fun and information, “Chips” aka “Tid Bits”

Tid Bit for Today

Are you looking for a dentist in the Denver metro area? You might give him a try. The tooth with the deerstalker looks a little loopy, maybe from the Novocaine?

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

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

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 March 31st…

March 31, 1890: Violet Hunter was interviewed for the Governess position by Jethro Rucastle. [COPP]

Natasha Richardson as Violet Hunter in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Copper Beeches (1985)

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

On March 30th…

March 30, 1894: The Honorable Ronald Adair was murdered. [EMPT]

Paul Lacoux as the Hon. Robert Adair in The Return of Sherlock Holmes: The Empty House (1986)

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

On March 23rd…

March 23, 1889

For today, “Chips” shares two favorite moments from “A Scandal in Bohemia” that show Dr Watson’s taste for adventure and loyalty to Holmes.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (July 1891)

First, a bit of Canonical conversation:

“By the way, Doctor, I shall want your co-operation.”
“I shall be delighted.”
“You don’t mind breaking the law?”
“Not in the least.”
“Nor running a chance of arrest?”
“Not in a good cause.”
“Oh, the cause is excellent!”
“Then I am your man.”
“I was sure that I might rely on you.”

Second, the moment when Irene Adler determines whom she has been fooled by and cannot let the moment go without passing her compliments along to him.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (July 1891)

We had reached Baker Street, and had stopped at the door. He was searching his pockets for the key, when someone passing said: –
“Good night, Mister Sherlock Holmes.”
There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who had hurried by.
“I’ve heard that voice before.” said Holmes, staring down the dimly lit street. “Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have been.”

On March 22nd… The King Comes To Call

Friday, March 22, 1889: The King of Bohemia visited Holmes. [SCAN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand magazine [July, 1891]

The man sprang from his chair, and paced up and down the room in uncontrollable agitation. Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground. “You are right,” he cried, “I am the King. Why should I attempt to conceal it?”

“Why, indeed?” murmured Holmes. “Your Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia.” [SCAN]

On episode three of Trifles, I made this comment to Scott Monty, dealing with this image: “You mentioned in this post the burger King of Bohemia. I saw an ad for a burger at Burger King. They were discussing a new product. So I think we could call Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia “The Bacon Burger King of Bohemia who also told Holmes quite a few whoppers”.

Scott thought it funny – any comments from any who read this? -Chips aka Ron

A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes According to Zeisler and Christ by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI

A Limerick for March 21st

For my posting on this date I am going to publish a limerick that I promised some one near and dear to me that I would. I hope my partner and co-columnist will understand. I think she will. [Of course! -Selena Buttons]

So, to honor the Author’s memory and to keep my word, here is a special limerick for the start of “A Scandal in Bohemia” written by a Special Sherlockian as part of his series.

When the King had his way with Irene,
The pictures they took were obscene.
But her consortin’
With Godfrey Norton
Meant those pictures remained unseen.

May God bless you Don where ever you are.


On March 11th…

Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley, Hampshire: from the harbour. Line engraving by T.A. Prior, 1857, after E. Duncan.

The Royal Victoria Military Hospital Netley began accepting patients on March 11, 1863.

Construction began on the hospital in 1856, with the first stone ceremonially laid by Queen Victoria. The inscription on the stone read:

This stone was laid on the 19th day of May in the year of our Lord, 1856, by Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland as the foundation stone of the Victoria Military Hospital intended for the reception of the sick and wounded soldiers of her Army.


In their book A Curious Collection of Dates, Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”) write:

Some thirty million bricks later, the hospital with its 1,000 beds was the longest building in the world. Unfortunately its design sacrificed practicality to grandeur, and by the time medical professionals such as Florence Nightingale were able to offer their suggestions, it was too late to make substantial changes. As a result the lovely grounds and the independent infrastructure (including a reservoir and generator) were counterbalanced by dark patient wards, more ventilation and unpleasant odors. Despite its problems the Royal Victoria served Britain through its wars and conflicts until a fire in 1963 destroyed a large section of the main building. With the exception of the chapel the hospital was demolished in 1966. Today, it serves as the Royal Victoria Visitors Center and Country Park.


We may be most immediately familiar with Netley from Dr Watson’s very first words to us, in A Study in Scarlet:

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy’s country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties.

Information from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”), with additional information of the stone inscription courtesy of QARANC’s Netley Hospital Information Page.

Posted by The Dynamic Duo Ron (JHWS “Chips”) aka Ron and Beth (JHWS “Selena”)

On March 8th… The End of Jack Douglas

March 8, 1888: Holmes learned that Jack Douglas had been lost at sea. [VALL]

“No, I don’t say that,” said Holmes, and his eyes seemed to be looking far into the future. “I don’t say that he can’t be beat. But you must give me time – you must give me time!” We all sat in silence for some minutes, while those fateful eyes still strained to pierce the veil.

A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI

On March 7th…

March 7, 1881: Jefferson Hope’s body was found in his cell. [STUD]

He had gone to the final judgment and reunion with Lucy. One can hope that mercy ruled determination of their case. Their suffering and pain on earth was enough. -Chips

A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI

On March 6th… Terrier or Bull Pup?

March 6, 1881: Holmes tested some pills on the landlady’s dying dog. [STUD]

…Or was it Watson’s bull pup mentioned in the conversation that they had about each other and their habits before they moved in at 221B, as some Sherlockian scholars have noted?

As he spoke he turned the contents of the wine-glass into a saucer and placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock Holmes’s earnest demeanour had so far convinced us that we all sat in silence, watching the animal intently, and expecting some startling effect. None such appeared, however. The dog continued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in a laboured way, but apparently neither the better nor the worse for its draught.

March 6, 1881: Jefferson Hope was captured. [STUD]

Illustration by George Hutchinson for A Study in Scarlet (1891)

The whole thing occurred in a moment – so quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes’s triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the cabman’s dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second or two we might have been a group of statues. Then with an inarticulate roar of fury, the prisoner wrenched himself free from Holmes’s grasp, and hurled himself through the window. Woodwork and glass gave way before him; but before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back into the room, and then commenced a terrific conflict. So powerful and so fierce was he that the four of us were shaken off again and again. He appeared to have the convulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit. His face and hands were terribly mangled by his passage through the glass, but the loss of blood had no effect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and even then we felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to our feet breathless and panting.