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September 4, 1986     The Ponchatoula Times
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September 4, 1986
 

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THE PONCHATOULA TIMES,SEPTEMBER 4,1986,SEC.A., PAGE S EVlF.,N An Original Story By H.L. Arledge The /,dventure of t00he Jade Hanson ered slowly down the crowded, cobblestone street that led to the lodgings of my dearest friend, turning my many worries over and in my mind. It had been all of seven months since I had last been one of my friend's intriguing capers, for this was the period that since I had wed my second wife. As I approached the residence Baker Street, my life's most essential memories swam wildly within mind; memories of my unforgettable life with a real detective, far greater fiction has ever introduced, a man who was by far the superior of student ever to dabble in the business (or art, as he would say) of reasoning. Yet, beneath it all, I believe there lurked a man of caring passion. Jolting myself, I immediately executed a brief but h examination of my person and my belongings. All had to be of the perfection, but not merely for reasons of personal vanity. On the I could never allow my friend to ponder of my own personal and it was this thorough self-analysis that I had hoped would hide my heartbreak from the extra-sensory perception of Sherlock the bell, I touched my left index finger to my opposite wrist in to take my own pulse, something I found myself doing often during friend's more captivating cases. I detected a definite increase in rate as I the footsteps approach the door. "Doctor Watson!" exclaimed my landlady. "This is indeed the most pleasant of surprises." is a pleasure to see you again, Mrs. Hudson." I found it difficult to from the immense hug that my heart ached to give the old widow, it was she who cared so well for me in my ailing years. Turning my ,ughts from past to present, I asked, "Is he in?" is indeed, Doctor Watson, and in one of his brooding moods as well. do not think you could have arrived at a better moment." I chuckled at her as I recalled the number of times that I had mistaken Holmes' days meditation as simple "brooding." it was during these times that he go as much as fifty-six hours without food or sleep. As a physician, 1 Sherlock Holmes both remarkable and revolting. At the door of my former apartment, I gritted my teeth in order to lse my voice. "Mister Sherlock Holmes?" I inquired. "Telegram, sir." curious and obviously suspicious detective slid the massive door back "Watson!" he gasped. "You. a practitioner, posing as a practical Sherlock Holmes had an uncanny way of making anyone feel "1 do find it rather amusing." "Pray come in:,my good man. It has been a long, eventful season. I have to tell you. The room was exactly as I had remembered. In one corner, stood the laboratory. The opposing corner housed Holmes' huge roll-top a gift from the former Marquis of Salisbury. Massive book cases lined in complete contrast with the circular dining table which remained at the room's center. To the table's left, stood the old stone )lace. Its antique birch mantle was decorated in old books, papers, a sheet music by the French violinist Sigerson, two oil lamps, and new, a manila-colored notebook. In front of the fireplace was the oriental carpet and four parlor chairs: three straight-backs and one [t was these surroundings that had served for so many years as the chamber for Sherlock Holmes and some of the most illustrious Western world. Althouqh it was but a visit, it felt good to be home. Watson, began Holmes. "You are aware that it is a scarce moment that allow excitement to take me, but I admit to you n6,, I at elated'." Idn|t  "  " the gentleman's word on this, for Holmes' emotions never surfaced on facial features. "Pray have a seat, my friend, l must tell you of the that have arisen in these months of your absence." "Now, where shall l begin?" Holmes' broad forehead lit up in bright as he lowered a match into his pipe. "Ah, yes. I call it 'The of the Blanched Soldier.' It has been chronicled, Watson. I have last attempted the journalistic endeavor you have so pleaded for, and my dear fellow, l would be honored if you were not only to read to edit as you see fit." "l must say, Holmes, it is I who am honored." It was a task which I could Holmes to undertake, but now he had ventured to attempt without my coaxing. This was most certainly a welcomed surprise and a extraordinary honor. Holmes handed me the manila notebook from the mantle. As I read, he seated himself into the rocking chair that he had imported from "There is no finer wood grain than that formed in the Louisiana CYpress, Watson," he once stated. Seated, puffing away in contentment, he a large spider's web under construction within the ,lace. Perhaps this spider was the reason Holmes was keeping quarters so cold on this day. I wondered. As he watched the pestilent, a expression dominated his features, not dissimilar to that of the observing a specimen. [ thought to myself, "It is no wonder most iishmen considered this most efficent sleuth to be more machine than And l could not have found more accurate evidence than that by Ho!mes himself in the pages of "The Blanched Soldier." If [ been the author I would have spiced the account up a bit, but neverthe- Holmes did a remarkable job. Shortly after my conclusion of the adventure, Holmes and I began a most discussion of the case. It was during this conversation that Mrs. entered with the tea. Lifting my cup, I noticed Holmes' perplexed as he stared at my sleeve cuff. A cold chill shot up my spine. Holmes somehow discovered some small clue to expose my secret; scant fact to reveal my inner-most woes: the problems between Mrs. and myself. Suddenly, as if by an omen, a distinct distraction rushed Holmes to the It was the thundering sound of hoof-beats pounding the bricks of The sound of a large rattling carriage accompanied the noise. it, Holmes, a runaway?" [ speculated. "It's a cab, Watson. The driver is intentionally racing it. You may be old man, that in moments that driver will approach our stoop," Holmes as I joined him at the sill. "Whatever makes you think that?" I could see the bulky, green hansom the bend, rocking wildly as the driver's whip slashed out at the horse. with a sudden jerk, the lengthy reins tightened, dragging the beast to stop. The cab lurched forward, then back, as the brake drew the wheels to clutching halt. The man sprang from his perch and entered the building. you know?" "You will scoff when you hear how simple my deduction was, Watson. hansom is of the color jade. This tells us that it is owned by the Thomas Company, which operates exclusively on London's northeastern far from our humble sanctum. The fact that the driver was racing the informs us that he is running from or to something. Since all of businesses are closed on the sabbath and most of its residents widowers and retirees, it is plausibly safe to assume the cabman has g our services." Holmes was correct; I was extremely surprised of his deduction. "Furthermore, Watson, I submit to you that our man is carrying of singular interest within the jade hansom. Why else would he in such a bulky craft when horseback could carry him thrice as swiftly?" "Astonishing, Holmes. You just may become a decent Pinkerton He was not amused. "Now, Watson, shall we regain our seats to await our guest?" This time Flolmes secured the armchair. 1 sat opposite, leaving the straight-backed r-hair under the lamp for our visitor. Minutes later, I began to worry. No one had come. 1 nearly questioned friend, but his stoic expression advised me otherwise. Finally, a knock upon our door, but it was not a cabman. "Mister Holmes!" said the not so unfamiliar voice. "This is Tobias of Scotland Yard. i must speak with you at once." I opened the The inspector entered; two constables remained outside. "How may I be of service to you, inspector?" asked Holmes. "Mister Holmes, i have reason to believe that you are harboring a fugitive I demand that you release him into my custody immediately." '1 am afraid, my dear Inspector Gregson, that it is you who Js committing injustice. There is no criminal within my quarters." The statement was given in Holmes' usual emotionless tone. "Now, see here, Holmes..." "I have noticed that you have two constables posted outside my entrance. You may feel free to search my rooms as you please, but in the meantime, ! should like to join you in your examination of the hansom." "So, you do know something of this case!' spouted Gregson, spitting into his moustache. "Sir, if you are referring to the murder of the woman inside the cab, who was obviously killed with some sort of sharp instrument, then the answer is 'yes;' I do know something of it." In all the years I had known him, this was my most baffled moment. I had considered myself quite familiar with Holmes' deductive powers, but this time I am compelled to confess, I had not the slightest idea what he was talking about. "Well, Holmes, perhaps it is you that I shall arrest." "That, sir, is absurd. You know me far better than that." "Yes, Holmes, I do, and it is due to your untarnished reputation that I will permit you to examine the cab, but first, you must explain yourself." "My dear fellow, I am afraid it is all purely elementary. A cabman fleeing from the law would abandon his slow moving cart for a lighter, swifter vehicle, therefore, one must assume that he was hauling some heavy object; an object of some singular importance and one he could not easily carry. The pink, lace handkerchief in your trouser pocket, inspector, leads us to believe that the object was a woman. That is, Gregson, unless you have begun the obscure Babylonian practice of homosexuality." I chuckled. Gregson frowned. Holmes continued. "The fact that the handkerchief is spattered with blood leads me to believe that the woman was stabbed or struck by a sharp instrument, probably a knife. If it had been a gun that injured our victim, the blood would have spattered behind the victim. Since you have not had time to have examined the cab, then I must assume that you have not moved the body, therefore the scarf could not have been found behind the victim. I venture to believe that it was the woman's scream that alerted your constables of the crime, for surely the piercing sound of gunshots would have signaled them in time to apprehend the murderer on the scene. "Presently, inspector, you can see how a careful reasoner could easily gather such facts without questioning the criminal whom you are in search of." Holmes bowed as a concert violinist following a standing ovation. "Very well, Holmes, but they are searching the place just the same. Holres ft brow za3s..s.mJ." i/bl-, tht,_ r!t.LWeU, Holmes, are you planning to examine the . or Gre;gson stormed out the doorway. Holmes followed casually at h heels. As Holmes and the inspector descended the stairwell, i lagged behind to finish my tea and to give the constables their tour. My stomach growled as i glanced at my pocket watch. It was nearly noon. If I did not depart soon, surely Holmes would wonder why I would miss my lunch with Mrs. Watson. My insistent curiousity begged me to stay anyway. By the time that I had reached the street, Holmes was rummaging through the jade hansom with his pocket glass in hand. He sniffed. He viewed. He crawled underneath, then climbed to the top. Inside the cab, he sat beside the body, then purposely he fell from the seat. Inspector Gregson and his associate, Inspector Lanstrade, looked on in awe and jealously. A newspaper man happened by and Holmes insisted that he photograph the front portion of inside the cab. The man was reluctant due to the long amount of time it would take, but after a fancy fee from Holmes, the man agreed, and tl =e equipment was set in place. When the photographer had finished, Holmes approached Gregson. At that moment, the two constables, whom 1 had left upstairs, emerged from the building with the missing cabman. "We found him in a storage closet across the hall from Holmes, Sir." "For what gain?" I asked. "It is obvious, Watson. The man felt that I could aide him in his quest, but upon the sound of you, he feared for his confidence. Now, tell us your name and your story, sir." Holmes spoke to the captive. "I am John Williams, Mister Holmes. I swear that I have killed no one. I picked up this lady at Fenton's early this morning. She asked to be driven across town. I explained to her that the Courtney Company was a private line for subscribers only, but she pleaded with me until I finally agreed to take her to another corner. At the next stop, l began slowing down. That is when the lady screamed. I stopped andfound her stabbed. A constable was running down the street. I just did not know what to do. 1 feared no one would believe me, so I came to you, Mister Holmes, for'help." As the man finished his recollection, Holmes frowned. "You said your name is Williams. You are not from France or perhaps, Germany?" The man shook is head in a negative fashion, and I wondered what Holmes was getting at. Surely, Williams is an English name. "Inspector Gregson," began Holmes with a turn, "if you will arrive at my quarters tomorrow at precisely noon, 1 shall give you all answers to solve this most interesting puzzle." Holmes turned, folded his hands behind his back, and began walking towards his residence. Gregson glared with envy, but said not a word. "Oh, and Gregson," Holmes turned again. "If it is not too much of an inconvenience, bring along our Mister Williams, too." "Now, my friend," he began as we reached the stoop, "about Mrs. Watson..." My heart stopped beating. "! must apologize for allowing you to forfeit your noon meal. Please explain it to be my fault." My heartbeat returned. "My good man, since you seem to be retained by the telegraph service today, perhaps I can intrude upon you further." ,, ! laughed. How may I be of assistance, Holmes? "It is pertinent to this matter that you notify my old colleague, Inspector Martin of the Norfolk Constabulary, to travel here immediately. Mark the teily 'urgent.' "By the way, Watson, 1 trust that I will see you tomorrow?" Whether it was a question or a command, I will never be sure. "Heavens, yes, old fellow, the king himself could not possibly keep me away." Twelve O'clock brought a number of surprises to Baker Street. Upon entering the apartment, I discovered five individuals seated about the fireplace. A glaring fire lit their faces: Gregson, Lanstrade, the accused John Williams, Inspector Martin, and an extravagantly uniformed gentleman who could only have been the Scotland Yard Police Commissioner himself, Sir Edward Henry. Sherlock Holmes stood center stage as a school master disciplining five students after class. "Pray be seated, Watson. We were just about to begin." He leaned against the mantle. The firelight grew bright at his back, until the features of his vested suit were no longer visible. "Now, gentlemen," he began, "if you would be so gracious as to pan about this photograph, we may begin our discussion." My friend reached to the mantle and removed the photograph taken by the newspaperman of the day before. He handed it to the police comml=toner, then began hb summation of yesterday's dilemma. "Inspector Gregson, in this photograph, you will notice that I have marked a small 'X' at the cab's floor- board. This is where you discovered the bloody scarf; is it not?" "It is, but what possible difference could that make?" "I submit to you, gentlemen, that the handkerchief or scarf in question was not used merely for pampering the nose, but for something far more diabolical. It was used to conceal an English dagger, the very one which killed Mister Williams' fare." "Allow me to understand you, Holmes." It was Lanstrade. "You believe it was the cabman who carried a pink, lace handkerchief?." The cabman remained silent, staring into the fire. "Of course not, Inspector." Holmes turned to the man who was the commissioner. "Sir Henry, you are a known expert in the field of forensic science, and you dabble somewhat in some type of fingerprint theory. Am I correct?" "Mister Holmes," He sounded defensive. "!, sir, am a devoted scientist and I believe the Fingerprint Classification Method to be the most accurate means of apprehending criminals available to date." "I am positive, Sir Henry, that Gregson and Lanstrade have Invited you here solely to inspect my findings in this case, but If I may, I would first like to hear your discoveries." Gregson squirmed. "Well, sir, I have found metal filings in the scarf..." "And the knife?" Holmes interrupted. "The fingerprints were only those of the woman." "Precisely!" If 1 were not there myself, ! would not have believed it; Sherlock Holmes became excited twice in one week. "i submit to you, gentlemen, that the woman removed the dagger from the scarf, thus leaving the metal filings. Then, the scarf was dropped to the floor-board of the cab. As the carriage slowed to stop, the woman stood with knife in hand." Holmes still stood, acting out his scenario as it was described. "The cab rocked forward as it stopped, since as you know, a hansom only has two wheels. This forward motion plunged the woman into the front-board. The knife's handle struck the walling, causing this scratch here." He was pointing into the photograph. "The dagger's blade was then forced into the woman's chest. As she screamed, the cab rocked backward to complete the stop, tossing the corpse back into the seat." 'ZHolmes! You are saying that there was no murder?" This even I found difficult to accept. John Williams, at this point, decided to speak, but Instead of some enlightening bit of evidence, he simply asked, "Mister Holmes, this fire is terribly warm. Could | trouble you for a small glass of water?" Holmes walked.to the bmdn foHe water. "The evidence concurs, Holmes." it was the commissioner. "But surely the woman had some reason for drawing the dagger." Through the corners of my eyes, I could see Holmes at the basin beside the door. With water in hand, he locked the door and tucked the key into his watch pocket. I wondered why. "Did you hear me, Mister Holmes?" Holmes walked back to our gathering and passed the glass of water to John Williams. "I believe, Sir Henry, you wished to know why the woman drew the dagger. Martin is more qualified to answer you, sir." "That is why I am present, commissioner." It was Holmes' friend from Germany. "I am Inspector Martin of Norfolk. I have often consulted with Mister Holmes on different cases from my district. One such case was the brutal slayings of Wilhelm and Carol Kllnk, last summer." "And those murders are somehow connected with yesterday's Incident," I asked. "The woman who perished within the jade hansom was Elizabeth Klink, the daughter of Wilhelm and Carol." Our group stirred. "Wilhelm and Carol's murderer was apprehended, stood trial, and the sentence was 'death,' but the prisoner escaped and fled Norfolk. He has not been seen since that date." The cabman continued to stare into the blazing fire. He did not seem to have drank any water at all. He simply held the glass in hand. "Inspector Martin, could you tell us the murderer's name?" inquired Lanstade. "He was a Frenchman, John Guillaume (pronounced Gee'ore)." "Perhaps, I am beginning to understand. Somehow, this Elizabeth Klink mistook our cabman ere for her parents' murderer. Sherlock Holmes stood again. "But was it a mistake, Sir Henry? You know by his surname, 'Guillaume,' that the convict is a Frenchman, but have you thought for a moment what the English translation of 'Gulllaume' would be?" John Williams looked up from his perch without a stand, then suddenly, he sprang from his seat, tossing the water into the flames. Blinding smoke filled the tiny chambers. There was a scurry of crashes and choking, i felt my revolver leave my jacket. ! am certain that my complexion was white when the smoke cleared, but as it faded away, the color returned to my face. John Williams stood facing the locked door. Sherlock Holmes and my revolver were at his back. "1 do believe your prisoner is set to leave, Inspectors," said Holmes, unlocking the door. Gregson muttered not a word, as he escorted the criminal away, followed by the other four police officials. "Mi,er Holmes I have heard much about you, sir, and I must say, I am prou"t to find it all true. The English translation of 'Guillaume' ts 'Williams.' 1 would have never expected a detective to need such information. It has truly been a pleasure, Holmes." Sir Henry shook my friend's hand all he made his exit. Holmes closed the door, and a smile grew beneath his hawk-like nose. "Would you care for some brandy, Watson?" He walked to my old desk and removed a flask that I had not touched in months. "Now, Watson, shall we talk of your separation with Mrs. Watson?" "Why, Holmes!" I felt shock in the medical sense of the word. "It's impossible. I have concealed every possible clue. I even went as far as hiring "Watson, e to witthold facts from a detective, but hiding pain from a friend is quite a different matter." "Thank you, Holmes. Make mine a double." THE END Next Week PROHIBITION By B. Vincent McMahon