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Authors: Ken Greenwald

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“I can tell you
why I’m certain,” Lady Ann continued, “last night my father came to dinner and
brought a Mr. Vanderlighter of Amsterdam. He examined the stone. And you’ll
agree that a jewel expert like that couldn’t be fooled.”

“That’s true,
Lady Ann,” Holmes said, “and what did you do with the emerald after Mr.
Vanderlighter left?”

“I locked it in
my safe and went to bed. I didn’t unlock the safe again until Dr. Stamford and
Mr. Murphy came here this morning.”

“That settles it
then,” I said in excitement. “The real emerald is still hidden somewhere in
these two rooms!”

“But where, that’s
the question,” added Stamford.

“I must say,” puzzled
Murphy, “it’s completely mystifying.”

“Let’s go back
to what we were all doing at the exact moment you came into the room, Lady Ann,
and informed us of the loss of your stone.”

“Why, we were
drinking a toast, Holmes,” I said.

“Good man,
Watson, that’s it! Lady Ann, hard thinking is, well, it’s thirsty work.”

“I’m so sorry
Mr. Holmes, let me get you something. A glass of port, perhaps?”

“No thank you,
but I do observe that you have a remarkably comprehensive assortment of
liquors. I wonder if I might have a glass of Crème de Menthe?”

“Of course, I’ll
get it for you.”

“Crème de Menthe
in the middle of the day, Holmes?” I asked, quite puzzled.

“I knew you were
eccentric Holmes,” Stamford added, “but this is more than I expected.”

“Mr. Holmes,
this bottle . . . it clinked as I picked it up!” exclaimed Lady Ann.

“I thought it
might. Please allow me, madam. Thank you.”

We watched as
Holmes began pouring out the contents of the bottle.

“I’m sure you
won’t mind if I waste this liquor on the Aspidistra. Just so . . . .”

In a moment,
there was a clinking sound and something dropped into Holmes’ hand. He held it
up so that we could see.

“Lady Ann, allow
me to restore to you the Elfenstone Emerald.”

“Great Scott!” I
exclaimed.

Soon we were all
talking at once in the wake of our astonishment.

“Ingenious,” Holmes
said, interrupting our excitement, “the one safe hiding place in the room.
Where could a green gem be more effectively hidden than in a bottle of green
liquor!”

“Who stole it,
who substituted the fake stone?” I asked, my curiosity taking hold. Lady Ann
stepped forward and faced all of us.

“Frankly, I don’t
care. The gem is restored. That’s all that matters. I prefer not to take this
matter to court. Neither you or I, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, would show up in the
best of light. And my father would disapprove of this whole affair, I’m afraid!”

“Just as you
wish, Lady Ann,” Holmes concurred, bowing to her wishes. “In either case I
shall expect your check for my services, in due course!”

Although Lady
Ann was somewhat stunned by Holmes’ remark, she took it in her stride. Everyone
bowed to her and slowly, amidst idle talk about what had happened, we left her
lodgings. I hailed a four-wheeler, and Holmes, Stamford, Murphy, and I soon
found ourselves in Piccadilly Circus.

“Cabby, pull up
over there. We’ll get out. Here we are at the Criterion again, Stamford. Won’t
you come in and join us for lunch?”

“Thanks, Watson,
but I’ll keep the cab and go on. I actually have a patient this afternoon. A
rare and delightful experience for a young and newly established doctor, as you
probably know.”

“As rare and
delightful as a client is for a young detective, Stamford?” Holmes laughed. “I
quite understand, and I’m correspondingly grateful to you for your profitable
hopes.”

“I’m glad it was
profitable for you, Mr. Holmes. Personally I feel pretty stupid about the whole
thing. Well, goodbye!”

Standing there
in the cold drizzle, we waved our goodbyes as Stamford left. Murphy seemed
pensive and very quiet. I turned to him as he stood waving goodbye to his
friend.

“You’re
remarkably quiet, Murphy.”

“Well, I’m
afraid my conscience won’t let me do much talking, Doctor. I’m heartily ashamed
of myself. Thanks for the lift. I’ll leave you chaps here.”

“Nonsense,” Holmes
insisted, “You must join us for lunch, and no buts about it! I insist, come on.”

“That’s awfully
nice of you.”

“Come, come
Murphy, anyone of us could make a foolish mistake,” I said. “It’s just lucky
you didn’t have to pay for yours.”

In a moment we
were inside the Criterion and seated to the strains of a lovely Viennese waltz.
The waiter poured us some select wine and we perused the menu.

“By George,” I
exclaimed, “I’m as hungry as a hunter. How about you, Murphy?”

“No, I’m afraid
I have very little appetite. This whole case has upset me dreadfully.”

“You mustn’t
take it so much to heart, Murphy. By the way, doctor, I’d like to have your
opinion on the case. Who do you think staged the theft of the emerald today?”

“It’s perfectly
obvious to me, Holmes. Lady Ann Partington did it herself to collect the
insurance money. If she hadn’t, she’d have insisted on your finding the thief.
But you needn’t worry, Holmes, you’ll get your fee all right, I’m sure of that.”

Holmes laughed
and shook his head.

“I’m not
worrying about the fee, but I can assure you that Lady Ann did not engineer
that fraud today.”

“You mean that
it was Stamford?” I said, puzzled.

Holmes turned to
face Murphy.

“Tell him who
was responsible, Murphy.”

“But, how should
I know?”

“Oh come now,
Murphy,” Holmes said in all seriousness as he leaned in towards the man, “let’s
not fence any longer. You did an excellent job. A superlative job. I was almost
sorry to spoil it for you.”

“I don’t think I
understand you, Mr. Holmes.”

“Oh yes you do,
Murphy!” There was a touch of anger in Holmes’ voice now. “You’re a splendid
actor, too. I was so ‘deeply touched’ when you had apparently stolen a fake
jewel, while all the time you knew that the real one was safely hidden in the
bottle of Crème de Menthe! To be abstracted later, at your leisure! Ha, ha! You
scoundrel!”

“Holmes,” I
said, “do you mind telling me what’s going on here? I’m completely and
absolutely in the dark!”

“Surely it’s
obvious, my dear doctor. The imitation emerald was a brilliant copy.”

“What makes you
so sure of that, my dear Holmes?” said Murphy.

“Because this
April Fool’s day hoax was only conceived yesterday. At least that is what you
wished the others to believe. Such a superb paste gem could not have been made
on such short notice. Therefore, it must have been prepared by someone who knew
about the hoax before it was arranged. Now, Watson, when Stamford told you
about the plan last night, whose idea did he say it was?”

“He told me it
was Lady Ann Partington’s plan.”

“Precisely. And
yet Lady Ann referred to it today as Stamford’s idea. Obviously you, my dear
Murphy, presented the plan to each as the notion of the other! And so, only you
could have arranged the real theft behind the hoax. I repeat. A splendid job!”

“Thank you, Mr.
Holmes,” Murphy said, no longer seeming the shamed young man of before. “May I
also compliment you on your cleverness in frustrating my plot?”

“Look here,” I
said in bewilderment, “what is all this? One of you is a criminal, the other is
a detective. Yet you’re throwing each other compliments as if you were in the
same profession!”

“The dividing
line between the criminal and the criminal investigator is thinner than you
might imagine, Watson.”

“How very true,
Holmes,” Murphy added, staring directly at my friend, “would you consider coming
over to my side of the line? Together we would make an unbeatable team.”

Holmes laughed
heartily.

“You flatter me.
Nevertheless, I must decline your offer, Mr. Murphy.”

“What a pity. On
your side of the line, you’ll never be a rich man. By the way, for your
edification, my name is not Murphy, though Stamford insists on thinking it is.”

“Then what is
your name, you scoundrel!” I exclaimed in anger.

“Your friend
Holmes says the word ‘scoundrel’ so much better than you, doctor. Uh, my name?
My name is M-o-r-r-i-a-t-y.”

“Oh, indeed?”
said Holmes, “spelled M-O-R-R-I-E-T-Y?”

“No. Dear me, I
have so much trouble with my name. People will either misspell it or
mispronounce it. I’m afraid I will have to begin calling it the way it looks.
M-O-R-I-A-R-T-Y.”

“Moriarty,” Holmes
observed, “I shall remember that name. I have a feeling we shall meet again.”

“I trust that we
shall. You’ve won the first round, Sherlock Holmes, I admit that. But I believe
a return match is indicated.”

“I look forward
to it, Moriarty. And now, Watson, I can’t stand your baleful glare any longer.
Let’s order lunch, shall we?”

And that is how
it came to pass that the strange and terrifying conflicts between Holmes and
Moriarty began. Little did we realize then what this first meeting would portend
in the future. It was a time of beginnings for both men, and, if I may humbly
add, for myself, in practice as a newly established doctor and friend to Holmes
and his many adventures.

 

Return to table of
contents

 

 

THE CASE OF THE AMATEUR MENDICANTS

 

MY
friend Sherlock Holmes, whatever he may be with his moody and driven nature,
always placed human justice and the natural flow of life before all other
things. He abhorred fools and despised the cunning who took advantage of
others. He especially hated the murderer, for that kind was the worst, taking
life from a human being and bringing grief and pain to everyone.

And yet, if it
were not for the murderers and thieves, there would be no Sherlock Holmes. How
strange that his intense hatred for the criminal is the one thing that
continues to make my good friend so productive. It was thoughts such as these
that reminded me of one of the most unusual cases I and Holmes found ourselves
involved with. It began on a rather stormy November night in 1887. The rain had
been pouring for days, and the only consolation was the clean and breathable
air it had provided.

On this night in
question, I was nodding in front of the fire, a good book of stories in my
hands. I’d had a very tiring day, I remember. It was about the hour that a man
gives his first yawn and glances at the clock, when suddenly, the front
doorbell jangled discordantly.

Mrs. Hudson had
long since retired to bed, and Holmes, after a long and arduous day’s work, was
also asleep, so it was I who crossed to the window and opened it. The rain and
cold came rushing in as I tried to prevent as much water as possible from
soaking the rug. It was extremely dark, but I could just see the outline of a
figure standing on my doorstep. It looked like a woman. Suddenly a cultivated
voice called up to me.

“Is the doctor
in?”

“Yes, madam,” I
yelled through the wind and rain, “I’m the doctor!”

“Then please
come at once! It’s a matter of life and death! I have a carriage waiting!”

I could sense
the pain in her voice and I reassured her that I would be down immediately. I
closed the window, scribbled a note to Holmes, grabbed my coat, hat, and my
bag, then went downstairs and into the rain.

A carriage was
standing at the curb, but I could not see any trace of the lady who called me.
The only person in sight was an old and repulsive looking beggar woman, dressed
in rags and tatters. After a moment of bewilderment, I approached her.

“My good woman,
did you see a lady leave here a moment ago?”

“No doctor, she
didn’t leave, she’s still waiting for you.”

I was
astonished, for the voice coming from this sad woman in tatters was that of the
cultured voice that had called up to me in my rooms.

“Forgive me,
madam, but those clothes of yours . . . I thought you were a beggar woman.”

“There isn’t any
time to discuss that now!” she said frantically. “Please get into this
carriage!”

“But, my good
woman, where’s the driver?”

“I’m going to
drive. Please get in!”

I entered the
carriage, then turned and stuck my head out as she pulled herself up into the
driver’s seat.

“Are you sure
that you can handle those horses, Madam?”

“Of course I
can!” she yelled, then snapped the whip in her hand and we were off! I could
not help thinking how absolutely extraordinary this all seemed to me.

As the carriage
rushed through the rain-soaked streets I tried to find out where we were going,
but the woman insisted I not ask her any further questions. I sat back, the
cobble stone streets whirling by under our feet and the rain running down in
rivers against the glass of the carriage windows. I pulled my coat tight up
around me for it was bitterly cold. And as I was bumped and jostled throughout
this mad, racing drive, my thoughts turned back to my home where, only moments
before, I was in the warm comfort of my favorite chair. A particularly bad bump
shook me back to reality. I saw that we were in the warehouse district not far
from the waterfront, for I could hear the fog horns and boats sounding a short
distance away. I knew there were no dwellings here, for this was strictly a
business district and a place of often dealt shady crime. Suddenly the carriage
pulled up in front of one of the warehouses.

“Why are we
stopping here, madam?” I asked, not without some trepidation on my part.

“Because this is
where we are going. Please hurry! Follow me down these steps!”

I stepped from
the carriage and rushed forward into the safety of a doorway through which she
had entered. She gestured to me and I followed her down a long and deep
staircase to the basement of the warehouse. It was quite dark, but there was a
crack of light coming from a small opening in the middle of the door. She was
about to knock on the door, when I stayed her hand.

“Madam, do be so
kind as to tell me where you are taking me.”

“We have
a . . .
a club here in the
basement,” she said in hesitant tones. “Come, you’ll see for yourself in a
moment.”

She knocked in a
pattern. One, a break, then three. She did this only one more time. One, a
break, then three. We waited a moment and the small flap covering the opening
in the middle of the door was pushed aside. The silhouette of a man blended
with the streaks of bright light that burst from the opening.

“Who knocks?”
said the man.

“Number seven,” said
the lady in rags.

“Give the
password.”

“To the lanterns.”

“You may enter.”

As the small
flap closed I turned to the lady in wonderment.

“This must be a
very secret club of yours, madam.”

“It is, doctor.”

The door was
opened and a small man eyed us both as we passed him and walked down a short
corridor. I seemed to hear piano music from a distance.

“Madam,” I
insisted of her, “I do wish you’d tell me where you are taking me. This looks
like the entrance to an opium den or a thieves’ kitchen.”

“Don’t worry,
doctor, you are in no danger.”

She swung open a
second door and the piano music filled my ears. There before me was a
luxuriously furnished large room, filled with talking people, some of them in
full evening dress and others in beggars clothing!

“There, doctor,
does that look like a thieves’ kitchen?”

“I can’t believe
my eyes, madam. What a strange collection of people! Absolutely amazing!”

Suddenly,
looming up before me was a large man, deeply scared, with fiery eyes and a head
of hair that was pulled back and tied, like that of a gypsy. He was in beggar’s
clothes, with a dagger stuck through his belt.

“Number seven,” he
said, “who is this man?”

“He’s a doctor.
I went to fetch him.”

“I thought I
said there were to be no strangers inside here!”

“Now look here,
my good man,” I said angrily, “I’ve been extremely patient so far, but my
temper is beginning to wear a little thin. Either let me see your patient at
once, or show me out! My time is valuable and I don’t propose to waste it!”

“I’m sorry,
doctor,” said the lady, who then turned to the tall and steely man, “where is
Julian?”

“He’s in the
back room,” he said with a gesture, pointing to a large door to one side. “And
if you know what’s good for you Dr. what-ever-you-call-yourself, you’ll forget
everything you see in here!”

“Stop
threatening me, sir! I’m not in the least interested in your blasted club! Just
take me to the patient!”

Without a word,
the tall man walked to the room, I following with the lady beside me. This
second room was smaller, but it too was exquisitely furnished.

“This is the man
we want you to examine, doctor,” said the tall one, pointing to a well dressed
gentleman who was lying on a velvet couch.

“Well, someone
had better tell me what happened to him,” I said.

“He fell down
the stairs leading into the club room,” said the young lady.

“Why did you
move him?”

“We wanted him
to be comfortable.”

“That’s the
worst thing in the world you could have done,” I said in dismay, “never move a
person with an injured skull!”

“Is he going to
be all right, doctor?” said the young lady.

I examined the
gentleman as she spoke, then, heaving a great sigh, I turned to the lady.

“No, madam, I’m
afraid he isn’t. His neck is broken. He’s dead.”

“Julian, dead!”
the lady exclaimed, her hand against her trembling mouth.

“You are sure of
that, doctor?” the tall man asked, eyeing me suspiciously.

“Of course I’m
sure of that, my good man. I’m afraid you need an undertaker now, not a doctor.”

The tall, gruff
looking man leaned over the body a moment, shook his head, then turned towards
the door.

“I must tell the
others,” he said. He entered the main room and raised his arms.

“Quiet,
everybody, quiet! Julian is dead.”

A murmuring was
set up as the various beggars and well dressed people began to talk among
themselves. A few of the club members stepped forward and went into the room to
observe the now dead Julian.

“This is
terrible,” said one small man dressed in impeccable clothing. “Who is this man?”

“He’s a doctor.”

“For Heavens
sake, we must get him out of here at once. We don’t want any strangers nosing
about!”

Some of the
members began protesting my presence with anger.

“Just a minute,”
I said loudly to assuage their nervousness, “I assure you, ladies and
gentlemen, I haven’t the slightest desire to stay here one moment longer. If
you’d direct me to the door again, madam, I’ll try to find a cab myself, in
this God forsaken district, and go home!”

“Show him out
and give him his money!”

“Follow me,
please,” said the young lady who had called upon me for my services. She
directed me to the door, and accompanied me outside.

“Do you mind, if
I don’t drive you home, doctor?” she said apologetically.

“Frankly, young
lady, I should much prefer it. After this experience I feel my nerves are not
in the best of shape.”

“You mustn’t be
angry with me, Doctor, please.”

“To whom shall I
send in my bill, madam?”

“Here is a five
pound note. That should cover your time and trouble, shouldn’t it?”

“No, no. It’s
far too much, madam,” I said in surprise at the large amount she was willing to
pay me.

“It’s late at
night, doctor, and it hasn’t been a very pleasant case for you. Please take it.”

“Very kind of
you. Very generous, indeed. I was wondering, however, how you happened to come
to me in the first place?”

“I was driving
about looking for a doctor, and a policeman directed me to your house. May I
come around in the morning for a death certificate?”

“Of course,
madam. Do you remember my address?”

“Yes, but I don’t
know your name.”

“Watson. Dr.
John H. Watson.”

“Dr. Watson?”
she said, “not the Dr. Watson who is associated with Sherlock Holmes?”

“Well, madam,” I
said, quite pleased, “I’m flattered that you know of me.”

She backed away,
a look of fright on her face.

“Good night,
doctor. And please, forget about everything you’ve seen here tonight!”

With that, she
turned and ran back into the warehouse, the rain obliterating her in a swirl of
darkness. I stood perplexed for a moment, unable to fathom not only her fright,
but the entire reason behind such an unusual band of people assuming such
enterprise as this club they were a party to. As luck would have it, I spotted
a Hansom a short distance away, turned up my coat collar to protect me from the
biting rain and ran to catch it. It was not long I was once again on my way
across town, this time to return to the comfort of my warm lodgings. As I sat
in the Hansom, I pondered on this amazing late-night rendezvous and decided
that it would be best to tell my good friend Holmes about the entire incident.

The following
morning found me seated opposite Holmes as we enjoyed an early breakfast. I
told him the entire story, leaving out no single detail that I could remember.
He sat, listening attentively as he finished the last of the meal.

“And that’s the
way it was, Holmes. One of the most curious adventures I’ve ever had without
you.”

“Very
interesting, Watson. You say this underground cellar was luxuriously furnished?”

“Yes, and as I’ve
told you, I was surprised by the amazing mixture of people there. Some in rags
and some in evening dress.”

“Just like the
nursery rhyme. ‘Some in rags and some in tags and some in velvet gowns.’ ”

“Exactly,
Holmes. Even the feeling that I was taking part in a story out of the Arabian
Nights. I must say though I was pretty angry at the time. However, after a good
nights rest, I feel quite differently this morning.”

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