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Duke de Richleau – Unmasked..

from Sherlock Holmes Esq to Dr J Watson:

Dear Watson
My apologies for the lack of response to your recent communications – I have been engaged on a matter of utmost secrecy concerning the future of the British Government. Needless to say, the villains are now residing in Pentonville and the Prime Minster has assured me that I will be receiving a Christmas Card this year.

Now, to the matter of our friend Wheatley. I trust you will not be too perturbed to learn that this case too, is now solved. Already I sense your jaws tightening, Watson, as you flagellate yourself lightly on the buttocks in frustration, but since I would not desire you to chomp too ardently at the proverbial bit, I will summarise the events leading up to my ‘unmasking’ of Duke de Richleau:

You will be aware of my apparent behaviour during our last visit to Wheatley’s house and how I appeared to succumb to the delights of his rather fine port, as well as stealing one of his sandals (just a bit of fun). However, this (as I’m sure you have guessed by now) was simply a ploy. I wished to appear somewhat lackadaisical and indifferent to our host’s story, since (as you know) our clients will often be less forthcoming if they think the great Sherlock Holmes is paying close attention.

Perhaps you will recall how I lost interest in Wheatley’s tale altogether after he had mentioned the Chapman fellow? In fact, Watson, I was already aware of the events at Wheatley’s club because (cue suitable music) I was Chapman!

You well know my penchant for dressing up old chum, so you will not be surprised to learn that I was able (after plying the aforementioned attendant with several brandies), to persuade the fellow to take an evening off. His height and build are similar to my own, so it was an easy matter to create a suitable hairpiece and whiskers. His monocle too, was a nice touch, though the tattoo of our own dear Queen on my forehead was perhaps  further than I had wished to go – apparently the damn things don’t come off. However, needs must, and suitably attired in Chapman’s clothes, I hung about the Reform Club’s toilet’s until my target happened along.

The rest of Wheatley’s tale happened just as he related, except for one minor detail: the Duke de Richleau (or anyone impersonating him), was not present. What I observed was how Wheatley did indeed walk to the corner of the room where he began to question his own reflection closely. As to the so-called ramblings of Richleau, they were of course Mr Wheatley’s own. When he grabbed hold of the mirror and demanded that it make its intentions plain, I required no further proof.

Ah-ha, I hear you ask, but if you already knew this (my handsome and intelligent friend), why bother to visit the fellow again at his home the other night? Well, Watson, having spent some time with the renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Hosseffeffor, I took his advice and allowed Wheatley to relate the story to us. This proved beyond doubt that the fellow is (to utilise the correct terminology) completely off his bloody head.

As we speak, Wheatley is on his way to the Bedlam Insane Asylum, where I’m assured the nice people there will know what to do with him.

Now, since there is nothing else on the horizon, perhaps you will join me in gobbling a few of Mrs Hudson’s muffins? I shall expect you this afternoon.

Yours
Holmes.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Devil Rides in After Dinner…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Holmes,
Second instalment of my notes from our recent adventure:

Seated in the library, we each took to our own brands of tobacco and puffed away for a few minutes in comparative silence. Wheatley, having first changed into a rather ghastly pair of sandals, began to tell us about his ‘problem’…

“Following the first visit from the fellow calling himself Duke de Richleau,” explained our host, “he turned up again at my club. However, this time, I noticed something rather odd about him: during our first meeting, we had been standing in the darkened hallway (I had no intentions of allowing the man into my house), and so I could not clearly see his face. On the second occasion, I deliberately led him into the club toilets – partly so that I would have a witness (Chapman, the attendant) and because the lighting in there is quite bright and I was certain I would be able to have a good look at him.

“Immediately, he saw my motive and moved into the darkest corner of the room (which wasn’t terribly dark at all) and turned his face away. I moved towards him and began to question him closely, to which the fellow muttered various excuses and moved around so that I was not able to face him. After a moment, I grabbed his shoulders and demanded that he make his intentions plain. At this, he faced me and I saw with horror that his features represented the very characteristics, which I myself had imagined when I first described Duke de Richleau.

“I must have turned pale, for the attendant rushed forward and began mopping my brow and asking if I was alright. I pushed him away and turned to the imposter, demanding that he tell me who he was.

“I cannot say exactly what the fellow told me, but I was dimly aware of being told all the small facts I had worked out for myself when I created the character of The Duke. But further, the very facts which I use as a kind of ‘back-story’ in my books but…” And here he stopped and stared for a moment into the fire. Then looking up, he focused on Holmes and said, “The facts which I never write down, never discuss with anyone and which I never include in any of my books. Mr Holmes…” At this point Wheatley was visibly shaking. “Mr Holmes, this man appeared to know my innermost thoughts.”

Holmes puffed his pipe and made one or two ‘hmm’ sounds, but said nothing. Wheatley leaned forwards, eager to hear my companion’s opinion, but Holmes already had his eye on the bottle of port which stood nearby on the mantelshelf. “May I?” He asked, and before Wheatley could reply, Holmes had poured three large glasses of port (the largest for himself) and proposed a toast, “To The Duke…and all who sail in him.” And with that, he quaffed his drink and helped himself to another.

At some point in the evening, I swapped my own glass for one of blackcurrant cordial, since it was obvious my companion was quickly becoming inebriated. Wheatley too, was well on the way to drunken oblivion and became rather irritated at Holmes at his lack of response to the story.

When Homes finally blacked out, I decided we had outlived our welcome and with the help of Wheatley’s manservant, managed to get my friend into a Hansome.

To be continued.

Watson

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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To the Devil a Doctor…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Holmes
Here is the first instalment of my notes from the other night, which I trust you will find useful:

Arriving at our host’s rooms in Mayfair, I must admit that I experienced more than a jolt of fright at the idea of meeting such a renowned author. When I’d suggested to Holmes that we take on this case, I had no idea the man was considered to be such an authority in the world of the occult. When I happened to mention it to my good lady wife, however, she soon put me right on the matter – apparently she has been swallowing every ounce of the fellow’s devilish output for the last ten years, and declares him to be a master storyteller with hordes of followers (or ‘BeWitches’) across the globe.

Given such high regard by a woman who (in my humble opinion) has no taste in literature bar the occasional foray into trashy bodice-rippers, I might normally have disregarded her comments. However, I bumped into our old acquaintance Mr Crowley on my rounds that morning and he was at pains to learn how Holmes and I managed to wangle an invitation to Wheatley’s place for dinner. I naturally put the fellow off, knowing he’d be ‘in like Flynn’ given the chance to inveigle himself into our affairs, so I sent him away with a flea in his ear. His clear adoration did give me pause for thought, though, so I picked up a couple of Wheatley’s books at the British Library in preparation for our dinner engagement.

And so, as we stood in the vast hall of that rather daunting foyer shortly after 7.30pm, I couldn’t help feel that we’d stumbled into something that might have rather more to offer in terms of danger and personal safety, than our usual run of the mill investigations.

The man himself, when he appeared at the top of the stairs, was well turned out, rather younger than I’d expected and sporting an impressive row of medals across his dinner jacket. He hurried down the stairs and shook our hands heartily, bidding us to follow him into the dining room.

Rather disappointingly, we had sherry before dinner (perhaps I was expecting goblets of blood!) Then a manservant emerged with an unusual starter: chicken wings and potato wedges. Wheatley said he’d come across them in the colonies and had been filling his face with them ever since. The main course followed (roast beef) and a simple dessert (lemon tart with cream) and throughout this, our host chattered away about everything under the sun. Everything that is, except for the reason that had summoned us to his house.

It was after we had retired to the library that Wheatley began his story…

Watson.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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Notes on a Sandal…

from Sherlock Holmes Esq to Dr J Watson:

Dear Watson,
I trust you made provision to take adequate notes last evening since I, as you no doubt observed, ingratiated myself rather excessively into Wheatley’s household. Or put another way – I drank too deeply at the well.

Mrs Hudson has, as expected, taken me to task at my lack of discipline, however, the good-hearted soul that she is has had me laid up in bed all day with a cold compress and some foul-smelling liquid she assures me is vegetable soup. My migraine is still throbbing away, so I hope you will not think me overly demanding if I beg that you write up your notes and let me have them as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I seem to have acquired a pair of our host’s sandals – quite how they might have been secreted about my person, I cannot imagine. however, one of these items bears a strange inscription on the soul: the single word ‘Sizeten.’ It may be a clue, or it may not. Discount nothing, Watson. Nothing.

I believe Mr Wheatley may be in danger from this Sizeten fellow, whoever he is, so please go with him this evening if he insists (as I suspect he will) on visiting his ailing sister in Carlisle Square.

I shall see you anon, migraine permitting,

Holmes.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Devil Rides Out to Dinner…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Holmes
I had a telegram this morning that I believe will interest you, and since I perceived the other night that you have no urgent cases at present, I’m sure you’ll be glad to set your mind to the mystery.

The missive was from a chap named Wheatley who apparently is the author of several supposedly ‘popular’ novels of the occult variety – not the sort of thing you would read, Holmes. However, he recounts a rather interesting visitor: Wheatley, or Big Den, as he likes to be called, claims that one of his fictional characters – the Duke de Richleau – turned up on his doorstep the other night demanding that he perform some bizarre ritual in order to make him (Richleau) into a real person, rather than a fictional character.

I’m sure you’ll have already deduced, as I have, that this must be some weird blackmailing plot, but as Wheatley has invited us for dinner tomorrow evening, I thought it would at least give us an interesting puzzle to mull over.

Watson.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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