Friday, 17 May 2013

The Adventure of the Manticore part 2

The front door swinging open and closing behind Holmes brought me back to wakefulness. Holmes was dripping wet, for the storm clouds which had been gathering over London all day had broken open and the heavens had released a great torrent of water upon the city. It seemed to me as I sat up that Holmes had brought the greater part of that same downpour into our room. Holmes shook his soaking head furiously sending water spraying all over the room.

“I could not find a cab” said Holmes simply in explanation as he walked across the living room and into his own, closing the door behind him. A few minutes later he remerged looking fresh and with his eyes shining. “Nothing like an evening walk in London Watson! This city truly is an inspiration to me” cried Holmes unnecessarily loudly.

I shook my head as Holmes practically leapt into his chair. He was always this way when he was engaged upon a case which attracted him. “Well then Holmes”, said I, “what have you been up to that has inspired you so much”.

“Well Watson first I made contact with Mr. Burusa, you remember him from the ruby scarab case”. I strained my memory for a few moments before recalling the case from the large number of them stacked away at the back of mind. Mr. Burusa was an executive at the foreign office and had been accused of stealing the item for which the case was named after, I will lay the adventure on record at some point but for now I will only say it involved a rather unique fight between Holmes myself and the formidable Mr. Cottagin, which was made unique by the fact that it took place in both the inside and outside of a fast moving carriage.

My expression of recollection showed Holmes that I followed him, and he sped onwards; “I managed to obtain from him a list of the people of Indian kind who have recently come over to England. And by a process of elimination I narrowed the number of suspects down to three and found that one of these Mr. Tiran had been murdered about a week ago with no leads to be found except one; a note had been ‘attached’ by a knife to his head. It read simply: I have revenge.

“After further enquiry I found that one of his most faithful servants had been sent out on an errand carrying a paper packet and had returned without it. This servant had been dressed all in black robes which disguised him completely covering all of him but his eyes. That my dear Watson I believe we can call conclusive”.

“Conclusive I suppose you mean of the fact that the man who Feldech bought the spine from has nothing to do with the crimes and that in fact he was also one of the victims”.

“Bravo Watson, your powers of observing the obvious are become more precise every day”, said Holmes dryly. “But his death is indeed very irritating for it deprives us of a great deal of information. But, from what we know this Mr. Tiran obtained this spine through crooked means from the original owners and that they desire to get it back, and finding he did not have it they traced it to Mr. Feldech and killed off the source of their information”.

At this I shivered at the obvious cold bloodedness of the murders, and Holmes saw it. He nodded very slowly and leaned back into his chair stared at the sealing for several minutes before once again continuing. “After that investigation was complete I called at Scotland Yard and spoke with inspector Lestrade who had been engaged upon the case of the murder of Mr. Tiran and tried to find out all I could about the case. Ah Lestrade, if only he could be changed in his was, all he really had for me was precisely what I have just told you and left very disappointed.

“But on my way back here a sudden thought occurred to me which not only will be of great help in the case but also classically shows how I am by far not the nearest equal of the character you place within your romantic writings”.

I sighed, was Holmes always going to go on and on about that? “Well Holmes, what was this new branch of thought?”

“The extraordinarily simple fact that most likely the murders also came from India. Oh to think I was so foolish as to not see it! Ah well, and of course at that time it was far too late to mend matters. So Doctor we have a lead but thanks to my own stupidity we have lost precious time and can do no more until the hours of the morning”.

“Well Holmes if don’t mind I think I’ll retire. I found a good train out to Dorset at about 10:30?”

“Oh, yes most excellent. Well, good night Watson”.

“Goodnight Holmes”. And with that I retired to my room and slept rather uneasily with some very unpleasant images imprinted upon my mind. When I awoke in the morning I dressed and went out into the main room to find that Holmes was gone having left a note upon the table:

Have gone to chase up the lead. Will be back in time to catch the train.


I sighed as I replaced the note upon the table. Holmes would no doubt only catch the train within a few minutes or less before it pulled out of the station. Mean while I did my best to occupy myself                 for the time left until I would have to head out to catch the train. I attempted to read, to smoke and I even took a rather refreshing walk but my mind always steadily wandered back to the case and the rather traumatic experience that Holmes’s latest client had been through.

My original suppositions about Holmes’s timing were to no surprise to me quite correct. Just as the guard cried ‘all aboard’ for the last time Holmes came speeding up the platform like a whirlwind tossed his ticket to the collector-who only just managed to grab it before it was whisked away by an unfriendly breeze-and then leapt up onto the train and just as it began to move out of the station.

“Now Holmes you really must stop doing that”, I reprimanded, “someday you’re going to miss the train completely and be stuck out on the platform as the train speeds off”. In reply Holmes cried out; “bah! Watson I would never be so careless.” We both laughed quietly as the train sped through the country side.

After a few minutes I decided to ply Holmes for information. “Well Holmes. Was it a worthwhile lead or not?”

Holmes looked up at me from between his stippled fingers and replied simply; “no”. That one word bespoke all of Holmes’s frustration and disappointment.

“So, they were already here?”

“It is a possibility Watson, but I suspect they slipped in under the official nose, for I could find no one from India who could be suspect”.

“Well what now?”

“Now Watson we shall pursue or investigation at the scenes of the crimes in Dorset”.

And with that Holmes was silent for the greater part of the train ride and only emerged from his silence towards the end of the journey to enter into conversation with me, and so we passed the long train ride. Upon arriving at the station we hailed a cab which took us directly to Mr. Feldech’s estate.

The grounds extended for several miles in each direction from what I could see and consisted mainly of both thick and sparse woodland. The house itself was three stories and made of a dull red brick with rather large curving windows upon the ground floor and several balconies jutted out from the upper levels. The roof being made of a greatly polished tile and so seemed to shine in the sunlight. At the centre of the ground floor was a large double door painted green with golden emblems in the images of griffins were carved upon the door, while a coat of arms consisting of a great shield with coiling serpent upon it, the snake was coiling around a great sword. The shield was held in place by a set of griffins almost identical to those on the doors.

If the great half bird half lions had not been enough to mark the house a large number of policemen were bustling about the estate and out the very front of the house stood our client and inspector Bradstreet. Holmes and I descended from the cab walked swiftly up the path to meet them. “Good morning Bradstreet!” cried Holmes as he ascended the steps at the foot of the door.

“Good morning Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson. Always a pleasure”, replied the detective. “I had wondered if you would be joining us. Mr. Feldech told me he had gone out to you. I assume you’ll be wanting to take a look at the murder sites”.

“Thank you inspector, but I should first like to make an examination of the bodies of the unfortunate victims”, replied Holmes.

“Certainly, though I don’t know how much you’ll be able to find Mr. Holmes” said Bradstreet scratching his head as he spoke of the likely hood of Holmes’s success.

Mr. Feldech followed us as we walked around too the back of the building and entered a large pavilion inside which we found several tables set up and upon three long tables lay the bodies of the three unfortunate victims. Holmes moved immediately to the older one whom I assumed was the father and began very detailed examinations of the body. Then suddenly he looked up still holding his lens which gave a rather ridiculous appearance to the left side of his head at which I tried hard not to laugh though I could tell that I was the only one to see the humor of the situation from the faces of my companions. “My dear Bradstreet would care to help me turn the body over for I perceive from numerous mud stains that he was lying upon his front and so there would be more to tell upon the other side”.

Bradstreet and I both moved over and as gently as possible turned over the poor man’s body so that he lay upon his face and stepped back to allow Holmes to continue his study of the body. As Holmes went over the back of the man carefully with his lens I heard him muttering quietly to himself; “no marks upon the leg or ankle, not a snake then. No marks upon his face so not suffocation. No head injuries, I, ahhh, aha! Slight, very slight but unmistakable, but how is there no blood hmm, oh”. And then his mutterings became so quiet I could not hear a word. After a few more minutes of examination Holmes stood up, stretched and turned to Bradstreet. “I would now like to examine the place of the father’s death”.

“But, you haven’t looked at the other two yet”, exclaimed Bradstreet in confusion.   

“Oh, I’ll do that later”, replied Holmes sticking his head back into the pavilion for he had already dashed past the rest of us and out into the grounds.

We followed the inspector to a large lawn which descended at a gentle slope down from the house until it reached a thin stream which wound its way briefly out of the woods and then back under the cover of the trees. A large piece of matting had been placed upon the ground not far from the house showing the place where the man had been found.

Holmes rushed over to this and bending down close to the ground he peeled the matting away and began to carefully examine the patch of ground. After only a few seconds of observation Holmes stood up and to our surprise took off at high speeds towards the woods keeping in line with the indent in the ground which I assumed was the place where the body had fallen.

Both the inspector and I shared a quick glance and set off after Holmes leaving our astonished client standing gaping behind us. When Holmes reached the stream rather to going round to the bridge he proceeded to leap over the stream and continue sprinting at full speed towards the trees. When Bradstreet and I reached the stream we were both out of breath and after sharing a quick nod we set off around the stream to the small wooden bridge father up the stream near the woods.

When we finally caught up to Holmes we found him bending over a small patch of ground behind several bushes. Bradstreet at first opened his mouth to speak but shook my head to quiet him for when Holmes was occupied with a crime scene he did not appreciate any form of interruption. Instead the inspector and I edged closer to Holmes until we could see what he was fascinated by. It seemed to me the some kind of large dog had pushed its feet deep into the ground churning it up, but the strange thing was that it was not the print of any sort of dog that I knew in fact it was more like that of a cat.

A few moments later Holmes leaped around the ground so that he faced the house and I bending over behind him could see finally what was so fascinating about the area. If the bushes in front were pushed even slightly aside it gave a direct view of the place where the man had fallen.

I found that I had to quickly leap out of Holmes’s way as he spun round to examine the ground behind the tracks and stood  bending over that patch of ground, looking (so I presume) for the animal’s receding tracks though I could see nothing. My interpretation proved correct for Holmes suddenly shot up and yelled at the sky in frustration. “Watson”, he said very slowly, “I would prefer that next time you watch where you put your feet!” At this I looked down at my shoes flushing red in embarrassment. Suddenly Holmes burst out laughing and I shot him a very disapproving him scowl. I did not much appreciate being fooled in front of the inspector, but after seeing the situation from Holmes’s angle I couldn’t help but laugh myself.


Several minutes later we found ourselves in the room that had belonged to the murdered sister. “Personally I don’t see how the room has been disturbed”, said I.

“Yes, most people would think that”, explained Feldech, “but to someone such as myself who has seen the room as it normally was could tell that while the room looks orderly several things in the room have been moved to different positions”.

“Well Mr. Holmes”, said Bradstreet, “what do make of all this?”

Holmes did not reply for he was engaged with a careful study of the window which was set into the far wall above the bed. “Hmm, couldn’t be opened from outside. Faint marks………..scratched......” Holmes was muttering under his breath as he usually did in situations such as this. He then proceeded to begin a close examination of the bed sheets making no sound but shaking his head continuously. Suddenly he looked up, “Mr. Feldech you mentioned that your sister had a long scratch similar to the one upon your own face, why then is there so little blood upon the sheets?”

Our client opened his mouth then shut it again, to which Holmes’s simple reply was, “precisely”. And with the Holmes began closely to examine the floor of the room with his lens and to mutter very quietly under his breath. So quietly in fact that I could hear nothing that he said.

After this Holmes returned to the pavilion while I decided to take my leave for a while and to stroll over the grounds a while and get a bit of fresh air. When I next saw Holmes was in the drawing room with Mr. Feldech and inspector Bradstreet, and much to my surprise drinking a cup tea. As I entered I heard Holmes say; “so do not fear, I myself and Watson if he so chooses will. Oh, but look, here he is now. Good afternoon Watson”.

“Good afternoon Holmes. What exactly are we going to be doing?” said I.

“Why we are going to stay here for the night and make sure that Mr. Feldech here does not have any rather unpleasant accidents”. The word accidents dripped with an iciness that showed what Holmes really meant by the word. “Of course if you should wish to stay at the inn instead”, said Holmes with a twinkle in his eye.

“Oh Holmes, don’t be foolish of course I’ll stay”.

“Good, good. Now sit down Watson and we shall discuss our battle plan for the night”.

I seated myself down beside Holmes upon the sofa and listened closely whilst he out lined his plans. “After dinner Mr. Feldech when everyone has left the room you must remain alone in the dining room and do not leave under any circumstances unless I tell you to. That is of paramount importance, you must also appear drunk”.

“Mr. Holmes!” cried our client in outrage.

“I must insist upon the point Mr. Feldech. Bradstreet you shall station both yourself and a constable at the door which leads on to the hallway. Watson and I shall be at the other door, and you Bradstreet are too move in when I call for you, and not before”.

“But Mr. Holmes what on Earth is the purpose of all this?” asked the greatly confused inspector.

“You shall see Bradstreet, you shall see”. Holmes smiled and sipped his tea.
Well, that's part two and I hope you enjoyed it. Next week I should have the Stug I mentioned up and running and rearing to go along with a few more German infantry men. And maybe if I can get myself to work hard enough a couple of other things.
Cheerio! All comments welcome.
Sarge at Arms

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