“The cursed greed which has been my besetting sin through life has withheld from her the treasure, half at least of which should have been hers.”
— Thaddeus Sholto
Did Thaddeus Sholto create this year’s John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt with the express purpose of keeping Watsonians too confused to find their treasured answers? Does half of that treasure still elude the deserving Morstans of our number, with no Sherlock Holmes on the scene to make matters right . . . though it we may be watching it fall into the river even now?
Well, climb aboard the police boat that Athelney Jones has provided and let’s give chase, even if the stokers have to put pieces of the boat itself into the furnaces. Let’s throw that page 279 of Strand Magazine into the furnace first.
The eight points to come away with are those questions Mary Morstan badgers her poor husband with.
1. “Why, vampires should fill up the very Earth, they’re so prolific! Tell me his name, won’t you?” (It wasn’t Bram Stoker, but another writer, perhaps?)
2. “This fellow has the makings of a proper pirate! Tell me why!” (I think she means Hatherly.)
3. “Because he eventually got fitted with a wooden peg-thumb?”
4. “Speaking of ships, this one plainly had a fleet. Name please!” (Someone with a fleet, I guess.)
4. “If the man with the fleet lived up to his name, which marvelous sequel would his fleet appear in?” (Modern folk do have two names, unlike the fleet guy. And you might need to capitalize a word in that question to fully get the reference.)
5.“How many times do I spread Napoleon III’s cheap alternative to butter?” (Napoleon the third might have invented the generic, but the name brand is what Watson uses.)
6.“Tell me about the seven hour bear, at the very least!” (Someone engaging in a bear-like behavior for seven hours, perhaps?)
7.“Highest paid strumpet in England! Tell me!” (Oh, don’t tell Watson that she walked the pavement!)
8. “Who gave you sixpence and who gave you a farthing? The opium addict on his off day or the drunkard between nips?” (The opium addict gave sixpence, the drunkard the farthing. Somebody with a filthy mind concocted a puzzle based on the location of one of these.)
All of the answers can be found on that page 279 in the image in the hunt, and even with those clues, you may not find it easy, as this part of the hunt was plainly the work of a madman on a deadline, grasping at allusions to history, pop culture, and body parts.
Do we need to stoke the fire with more of the dread Watsonicon?
For “The Adventure of Two Men,” you have to think like Sherlock Holmes. Exactly like Sherlock Holmes.
“Mystery Missive,” “Bunch of Places,” perhaps those were straightforward?
That “Breakfast Interrogation.” Hmm. Let’s count those out.
“First question. If we applied the canon process thrice, the result from my notes would be six. Can you name the six?” (Six answers, and maybe not the canon you’re thinking of with your canon eyes.)
“Home alone and the two lovers made a trio. Can you name the three?” (Three answers, a movie reference and two synonyms, maybe?)
“These other three weren’t snowmen and one was not a man at all. To whom do I refer?” (How many kinds of snowmen are there? These folk weren’t that one kind.)
“Three who didn’t have to pay a bill?” (There are a couple ways to get out of paying a hotel bill. One always works, but few use it.)
“Two with the same attorney?” (You can get this one.)
“I’ve got the 3 R’s, 3M, 3G, and Triple H, yet all are the same subject.
Give me the dozen and the subject!” (Well, it’s not a bakers dozen. The apostrophe in bakers is missing on purpose. When you get the twelve points, the thirteenth point might be something in the same category as “baker.”)
“A lady with a snake unknown to science!” (It’s not an adder.)
“Both women gave off light, yet their sources were entirely different!” (Two answers, pretty much as described.)
“Sergius! Gruner! One is an anagram.” (Get in the pool, you’ll figure it out.)
“Only a superman fears no disease.” (You know a superman, don’t you? Google him if you don’t.)
Is that enough stoking of the furnaces to keep your police boat in the chase? Do we have to break this boat of a JHWS Treasure Hunt up even more? A third of the month left!