Week 3, Meeting with Holmes
Here we are, in our furnished house on Devonshire St.
After a short discussion, Chris and Sophie decide to go visit Mr. Sherrinford Holmes. No one has any real reasons why they shouldn't, so they head off to 221B Baker St.
Upon arriving, Mrs. Whatsit escorts the two of them into Holmes' office. Watson is there. The office is somewhat as one would expect from the books in our timeline. There are bullet holes in the wall.
Holmes is interested to see Chris and Sophie, who don't really introduce themselves. Sophie asks Holmes to call her Elizabeth Burns. Chris adds, "Robert." We're not in the least bit surprised that Holmes is interested. We must be extremely interesting.
Holmes wants to know what we want his help with. We tell him that we want a few questions answered. Sophie asks the first question, should we consult with him? Holmes replies that, while he admits to being biased, as we fascinate him, he thinks he can probably help, if anyone can, so it's probably to our advantage.
We tell Mr. Holmes that we are looking for an object. It is somewhere near Regent's Park, for some value of the word "near." We don't know what it is, we don't know what it looks like, nor do we know how close to Regent's Park it would be. Holmes is intrigued, but says he can't do magic.
We tell him that we are involved in a sort of treasure hunt, and we are in London to find the next item of the hunt. We don't know how many players there are -- that's part of the game. In past adventures, sometimes we have run into the other players, sometimes not. In almost all cases, the item in question has been a sort of jewelry. One time it was a crown -- one in a cache of three hundred and some. Once it was a scepter of a tribal king. Once it was a lump of crystal. Once it was an earring. Once it was a bunch of crystals at an archaeological dig. In all cases, the item was distinctive. Distinctively distinctive. Odd, beckoning in its distinctiveness. Chris adds that the Crown Jewels, for example, are probably not it, as they're sort of the height of normality.
Holmes listens to us until we have nothing further to say in our sweeping descriptions of what we're after. Holmes says that he needs to think about it for a day, and asks us to come back. On our way out, Chris puts a tracer on the doorjamb. He and Sophie listen in as they ride the cab home.
There is a long pause. Finally Watson says, "Well, Holmes?"
Holmes says, "Come on Watson."
Watson says, "Where are we going, Holmes?"
Holmes replies, "You are going to the library."
Watson asks, "And you?"
"To the morgue!"
When they arrive home, Chris and Sophie search the day's papers. No new deaths. They do notice two interesting parties though. One is an upper-crust affair with dukes and princesses and people like that. Probably boring. The other, though, looks like something that we were trying to explain to Holmes. An artistic bash with Wilde, Whistler, Blatavsky, Bernhardt, Annie Oakley, and various members of the Golden Dawn all reputed to be going. They wonder how to wangle an invitation.
After a few moments' thought, they decide to head off to the park. Sophie takes her painting gear; Chris takes his guitar. Sophie starts painting a picture of the park. It's Regent's Park, but with a gazebo in the middle that doesn't exist and musicians playing there. The audience are all forest animals. The two of them are only too happy to talk to passers-by.
Towards the end of the afternoon, a fellow stops by, compliments the painting and the music, and asks Chris and Sophie if they know about the party on Saturday that they were trying for an invitation to. Chris says that he had heard of it, but they don't have an invitation. He shrugs. "Oh," says the man. "Why don't you come anyway. If anyone says anything, give them my name."
"Thank you," says Chris, "and you are?"
"Oh," says the fellow. "Lord Alfred."
Chris and Sophie thank dear Lord Alfred.
Meanwhile, Cantrel has gone off to New Scotland Yard. After a bit of trouble, he finds the place, which appears to be a renovated theatre. He finds a Detective Hopkins there, who is the current fellow in charge of the gentleman burglar. Cantrel offers to buy the fellow dinner to talk.
He goes off to the morgue (newspaper) to search for information about the gentleman burglar. He finds that LeRouge has recovered several items that the gentleman burglar has stolen, and once the Suret┌ has recovered something.
At dinner, Cantrel explains that an American client has hired him as a private detective to investigate the gentleman burglar. Cantrel says his client is a past victim. Hopkins comments on Cantrel's accent. He gets a list of people who have investigated the gentleman burglar in the past. Denis Smyth is one of them.
Hopkins explains that the gentleman burglar always leaves a card with his victims, with a picture of a top hat and a monocle. Hopkins also explains that the gentleman burglar has been at it for nigh fifteen years.
The next day (Thursday), Cantrel goes off to find Denis Smyth, who is "away." Oh. For a substantial period. Oh. Dr. Petri, his companion, is with him, Oh, well, what a pity, never mind.
Also Thursday, Chris and Sophie go off to meet with Holmes.
Holmes sits them down and explains that, as interesting as they are, he has to turn down their commission, as he doesn't take jobs from people that lie to him.
"Lie to you?" asks Chris. "When?"
Holmes explains that they've left out information. Chris agrees, and says this is not a lie. Holmes points out that he finds no record of much of what they've told him . For example, there is no record of a large cache of crowns like what they described. Chris shrugs and says that this merely means they weren't mentioned in any of the books that he checked in. He does manage to bite his tongue and avoid warning Holmes about theorizing ahead of the evidence.
Chris explains they did leave out much information, but they were careful to not lie. For example, he reminds Holmes that they never said they were Robert and Elizabeth Burns, but simply gave him those names to use. Holmes says he noticed that. "We're preposterous people with preposterous names, Mr. Holmes." says Sophie. "Telling you who we are does nothing except possibly give the game away." Chris adds that, as he said before, there may be other players. If Holmes is not willing to take the job, then Chris doesn't want to give any clues he has away. If Holmes is already working for the other players, he wants to know now, because he doesn't see how he can beat Holmes in a game of hide-and-seek.
Holmes gets exasperated, and explains that he needs information to work properly. Chris offers to answer any question he is asked truthfully.
Holmes asks about the scepter. Where was it? "The Sudan," says Chris. "But what about Khartoum?" asks Holmes. "What about Khartoum?" adds Chris. "It's a place. You might as well ask me, 'what about Everest?' What about it?"
"You don't know about Evan (?) and Gortney (??) ?"
"No," Chris says.
"You don't pay much attention to where you work."
"No. Only enough to do the puzzle. I noticed a few odd reports last time I was in England, eleven years ago, but I didn't pay them much attention. You saw when I got here this time. I can assure you that I saw no note of it in any of the newspapers I read in the intervening time."
"Were you there in the last twenty years?" asks Holmes.
"Mr. Holmes, are you going to take the job?" asks Sophie, ever the businesswoman as her idiot husband says, "No." They glance at each other and shrug.
Holmes decides to accept, if we will be "straight with him" as we Americans put it. He promises to be straight with us. We add that when the game is over, we will tell him all.
Holmes wants to know about the crowns. Where were they?
On a continent with no real name. It was called Middle Earth -- Heaven above, hell below, middle earth.
Holmes asks if this was Midgard. Chris says no, there was no serpent. Chris apologizes for not having any better name, but most people call their land The Land, their language The Language, and themselves The People.
Continent? asks Holmes. How could a continent go unnoticed. Chris shrugs, and asks what the difference is between a continent and an island. He answers his own question by saying that it's the size. It was a big island.
What was the culture there? Primarily English.
The earrings? From another island in the same archipelago, called Gwenedd. Populated by Welsh? Yes.
We tell him that the crystal was kept by people living in the sewers under New York City. For some reason this fascinates him.
We're glad he doesn't ask about the archaeological dig.
He asks how we travel, and we explain that we have a ship. Holmes doesn't ask its name, which we would have told him.
We explain that the items, all of them, were guarded in the most effective way possible for their milieu. They're all hard to get to. Holmes takes note of this.
After playing with the man's mind some more, Chris and Sophie leave. They snoop again. "Well, Holmes?" asks Watson. "Watson, have them followed," says Holmes. Watson leaves. Holmes writes two letters, one to an S. Holmes, asking about Moran and his ilk in the underground. The next is to Mycroft, saying that he has need of information and will be by the club to ask about odd incidents in the past month. He tosses the letters out the window to a small boy. Holmes goes off in a cab.
Chris and Sophie go shopping for their party. Most of the stores are busy, for the society bash. Some duchess is reputed to have changed her wardrobe. They manage to get a few things, and get a used sewing machine. They, with Tom's help, make clothing.
The household servants explain to us that Lord Alfred must be Lord Alfred Douglas, which means nothing to any of us.
We notice in Friday's paper a sparse report of a theft at Toffington house. Should we talk to them?
Chris and Sophie go to the party with Pfusand (Mr. SAN-dyhill) and Daewen. They're all dressed to maim, with jewelry to attract the gentleman burglar and Cantrel on the roof.
At the party, Wilde is there, which thrills Chris. Wilde and Lord Alfred argue, as they're not speaking to each other.
Some time in the party, Chris notices that the spooky types have all left. Searching around, he finds a room guarded by a very discreet servant who tells him that he can't go in there, because the s┌ance is in progress. Oh. He eyes the door and considers sending in a clairvoyant viewpoint. He decides to check for psi first, and is quite shocked to find psi stuff going on behind the door. He retreats.
Back in the other room, he notices that there's a fellow watching him. Drat. Several attempts to ask who that person is fail. The fellow's good at dodging behind crowds, and the one person who notices the watcher doesn't know.
Sophie's noticed the watcher, too. As a lady receiving attention from a gentleman, it's easier for her to confront him. After a bit of effort, she finally gets to the fellow, who says, "Ah, Mrs. Burns. I see your husband has had the same idea I have." It's Holmes, in one of his disguises. But of course. Whew.
"I have?" blips back Chris, telepathically, to Sophie.
"I think I know what your item might be." says Holmes.
"Yes?" asks Sophie.
"The Eye of Dalgroom." says Holmes.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.