Early Today due to Guests Arriving

Weekly Quiz 2014: 22

RESULTS: Cheers to Melissa Anderson “Faith,” and our team members Airy Maher, Sheila Holtgrieve “Daisy” and Margie Deck “Gwen” on this week’s solution. All were perfect and several alternative answers were discovered. Answers below.

This week’s quiz is about Canonical small things: physically and philosophically.  Good Luck!

Please submit solutions by 12 noon on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 to: buttons@johnhwatsonsociety.com

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5 Replies to “Early Today due to Guests Arriving”

  1. This was a great quiz! I had fun!

    It’s interesting that you asked about the small fire in Baker Street (FINA). When I first read about it, I thought that was an odd detail for Holmes to mention in such an off-hand manner. In fact, I could write a whole paper based around the question of the fire and compile evidence for a theory I have. You see, from my impressions, I actually believe that it was not Moriarty who set the fire – but Sherlock Holmes himself!

    This is just from my reading of FINA. If I were to elaborate a great deal, I would have to find evidence in the story to back up my claims. But just for the sake of this comment, I’ll just dive in with my general impression.

    It makes more sense to me that Holmes committed this little bit of arson. There is greater motive for him to do so.

    I believe Moriarty would want to get information left behind in 221B, not destroy anything he could use to his advantage. He wouldn’t need the fire as a means of intimidating Holmes – his henchmen had effectively done that already with falling stones and other mishaps. I would assume that Moriarty would want to scare Holmes away from 221B so that he could get any cases or files that could be led back to him.

    Perhaps he found those files and then destroyed them in the fire? But that doesn’t make sense: Moriarty was confident that he had the upper hand when he encountered Holmes at Baker Street. He had little idea that in a few days Scotland Yard would destroy. He takes Holmes’ hint of “After Monday” as a bluff, when seeing documents at 221B later could have shown him that the Yard is very ready to dismantle everything he built. Moriarty could have acted differently if he had enough information. The reason he and Moran escape capture in England is because they were chasing after Holmes. I think it more likely that if he had known how close his criminal network was about to collapse, he would have focused his attention on outwitting Scotland Yard first before pursuing Holmes.

    Now, as for Holmes, he has greater motive to see a small “accident” occur before he departs England. He knew by that point that it was do or die against Moriarty. If he triumphed, he could return home, but there were too many probabilities that he could fail or face a victory laden with heavy consequences. If even a few of Moriarty’s men were not captured by the Yard, then he would have to go into hiding for a long period of time. The likeliness of his own death was also high.

    So here we have Holmes, aware that he may not be able to return to 221B for a long time (if ever). After so many years, he and Watson would have accumulated numerous cases that would be too delicate or dangerous to fall into outside hands. Far too many documents could be traced to former clients and used as blackmail against them. Even if the documents weren’t found in his absence and used against others, Holmes would likely not be there to tell Watson which cases he should or should not publish. If Holmes chose to destroy some of those more sensitive cases, Watson would more likely publish cases that still had notes intact – which is exactly what he did during the hiatus.

    And then there were any and all documents about Moriarty – if the Yard had all of the necessary information to persecute his network by this point, it would be better to see such documents at 221B destroyed than to see them left at risk of falling into his rival’s grasp.

    Also, why is the fire so small? Fires can spread quickly if unchecked, but this one is small and self-contained – doing little damage, so perhaps it was strategic, controlled damage. If Holmes burned important documents in his fireplace before leaving with Watson to the continent, it would take a considerable amount of time to burn it all. However, a more damaging and controlled fire would destroy them quicker.

    Everyone in the public, Watson included, would simply assume that Moriarty and his men were the culprit behind this fire. Also, Moriarty would find it more suspect that something was immediately afoot if he did not find any documents pertaining to him at 221B if he were to search an undamaged apartment. An ‘accidental’ fire would explain why things were missing and Moriarty might not notice that Holmes was positioning his chess pieces to trap the king with his next move.

    So… although this is unfounded and I would want to find evidence in FINA to see if I could support my theory, from my reading, I think Sherlock Holmes set the fire and blamed it on his nemesis.

    1. A well-reasoned premise and explanation. This has all the signs of a very interesting scholarly research paper. Thank you, Ariana.

  2. Hi Airy: Interesting concept! I’ve always had two conflicting thoughts about this little fire: 1) Moriarty is using very unreliable goons to do this dirty work as they keep failing to cause any real permanent damage or Holmes’ death; or 2) These ‘failures’ were Moriarty’s way of telling Holmes “See, you are safe nowhere. We can get at you in your home, in the street, anywhere we want.”

    1. Aahh! A tag-team scholarly paper! In this corner, for the goons, Margie Deck! In the opposing corner, for Holmes, Ariana Maher!

      As always, it could be a throw-away line that might open up all new exploration into Canonical theory.

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