The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmesby Marvin Kaye
This long-awaited volume finally brings to light several cases of the world's most famous consulting detective that were originally suppressed to avoid scandal and embarrassment to the Crown, public figures, or to Holmes himself. Now, the truth is finally revealed regarding Holmes's exploits involving the Titanic, his rematch with Irene Adler, the/i>
This long-awaited volume finally brings to light several cases of the world's most famous consulting detective that were originally suppressed to avoid scandal and embarrassment to the Crown, public figures, or to Holmes himself. Now, the truth is finally revealed regarding Holmes's exploits involving the Titanic, his rematch with Irene Adler, the childhoods of both Holmes and Watson, and such figures as Ida Tarbell, P.G. Wodehouse, and James McNeil Whistler. The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is a cornucopia of Sherlockiana that will delight fans young and no-so-young.
"Baker Street regulars will enjoy...true to the spirit and language of those written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The delightful game is still afoot!" --San Jose Mercury News on The Confidental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
"Irresistibly entertaining and true to the spirit of the original." --Entertainment Weekly on The Confidental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
"A must-read for the ever-loyal throng of Baker Street fans." --Booklist on The Resurrected Holmes
"If you haven't already succumbed to the Holmes/Watson aura, you will by the time you finish The Resurrected Holmes." --Buffalo News
"If your heart belongs to Baker Street, don't miss Marvin Kaye's generous anthology." --Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine on The Game Is Afoot
"Rich with thrills and laughter, this is a true delight for all students of the Baker STreet menage." --Library Journal on The Game Is Afoot
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The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
By Marvin Kaye
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1998 Marvin Kaye
All rights reserved.
The Darlington Substitution Scandal
by Henry Slesar
On certain days, my friend Sherlock Holmes would invariably wear a scowl, which further lengthened his saturnine face. These were the days when The Strand magazine appeared, its garish cover boasting of yet another "Sherlock Holmes Adventure." As the author of these chronicles I received the brunt of his displeasure, yet it troubled me less and less as I became aware that Holmes wasn't entirely displeased by this celebration of his deductive powers. He would scold me about an excess of melodrama; he would carp about the syntax of the words I put into his mouth; yet by the end of the day, the scowl was erased, and a certain mellowness overtook him. To be perfectly candid, I believe he enjoyed reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes almost as much as he enjoyed living them.
However, as I have noted before, there were cases which Holmes forbade me to dramatize for reasons that were usually quite apparent. He would not give grist to the London gossip mills. He would not have reputations ruined, families victimized, and more often than anyone knew, royal titles debased. But this last cause of reticence is not the reason why I have never published the shocking story of Lord Rufus Darlington. It is simply because no charges were ever brought against the man for his horrific actions, and Holmes forbade any accusations which had never been confirmed in a court of law.
Whether this tale reaches the general public is questionable, since I have stipulated that if any surviving member of the Darlington family can prove slander by its publication it is to be returned to the vault where it will reside until the next century. History has a way of making harmless fable of even the most heinous crimes, but writing as I do now, only days after the Darlington case was resolved, I can scarcely believe that such horror can ever be transformed or forgiven.
Of course, I cannot conceive what the laws of slander may be like in that distant time. I hope they will still protect the weak and innocent. I also hope, fervently, that the laws of the coming years will afford more protection to married women against the brutality of their husbands, cruelty far too easily shrugged off in the age in which we live. In such a time, the Darlington affair might never have happened.
One aspect of the case which made it unlike any other was the part played by Inspector Lestrade, surely one of the most misunderstood figures in the Sherlock Holmes gallery. It is astonishing how many admirers of The Great Detective have relegated poor Lestrade to the role of the hapless professional constantly forced to defer to a gifted amateur who bested him at every turn. In fact, Holmes admired and respected Lestrade, and cherished his friendship, but outside of their professional encounters these two devotees of Justice rarely spent time together. The exception was that bitterly cold day in late January, 1895, when the Inspector, hearing that Holmes was confined to our flat due to a bronchial condition, decided to pay a social call.
As a physician, let me declare that Sherlock Holmes was the worst possible patient. The words "bed rest" were anathema to him. All medicines were "quack nostrums," all medical advisories were "incantations." His remedy for all ills was self-prescribed: the seven and a half percent cocaine solution which gave him a false sense of well-being. That was why Lestrade was surprised to enter our quarters that snowy evening and find Sherlock Holmes by the fireplace, sucking at his empty meerschaum (tobacco tasted foul in his present state), and giving all the appearance of a healthy man ready to enjoy the company of his peer.
They conversed for a good hour, managing to ignore every contribution I attempted to make. I began to feel a bit nettled, and drank more brandy-and-splash than I was accustomed to having, even on a holiday occasion. I was just beginning to doze off in my chair when the Inspector revealed that he had more than one reason for his visit. He wasn't seeking advice on a case; the crime on his mind had been swiftly and easily solved one year before.
"One year to the day," he sighed, lighting a cigar. "A cold night like this one. But perhaps you don't recall it, Mr. Holmes. It wasn't a case to challenge your skills."
Holmes merely nodded, watching Lestrade with narrowed eyes, waiting for him to speak the name that seemed to float between them like the smoke from his cheroot. For some reason, I felt obliged to supply it.
"Carlton Paige," I said, clearing my throat. "Strange, isn't it? Such a commotion then. Now, hardly anyone recalls the case."
"Except," Holmes said pointedly, "Mrs. Paige."
"Yes," Lestrade said. "I'm sure Mrs. Paige is not very happy tonight. On the anniversary of that terrible event."
"How can she be?" I snorted. "In Bristol Prison for Women? Confined for life?"
"No," Lestrade said quietly. "She is no longer there. She has been transferred."
But when I asked him where, the Inspector ignored my question, and looked at Holmes.
"Do you remember the protesters?" he asked. "When she was first incarcerated? Did they really expect us to free a murderer on 'moral' grounds?"
"Still, she had them," I said, feeling perverse. "Carlton Paige was a vicious wife-beater! He drove that poor women to the limit of her endurance. And when she reached that limit—she shot him!"
Holmes smiled thinly. "I've often heard you claim to be at the end of your patience with someone or other, Watson. Did you decide to shoot them through the heart?"
"This was different," I said stiffly. "It was impulsive. The woman had been brutalized for years, and that night, she snapped!"
"Yes," Holmes said, winking at Lestrade. "She snapped a trigger. Of a gun she had 'impulsively' purchased several days before."
"Well, I'll say this much for Mrs. Paige," the Inspector said. "She didn't deny her crime, didn't try to justify it. Called the police herself, and gave us a full confession on the spot. Took her punishment like—"
"Like a man?" Holmes smiled.
"I can't help but feel compassion for her," Lestrade admitted gloomily. "Especially now that she's gone mad."
"Good Lord!" I said. "Do you mean she's lost her mind?"
"The place to which she was transferred is the Institute for the Criminal Insane. I learned of it only recently. But when her symptoms were described to me, my first thought was—wouldn't Mr. Sherlock Holmes find that fascinating!"
The empty pipe came out of Holmes's mouth and his eyes brightened. "For what reason, Inspector?"
"Well, you like strange stories, Mr. Holmes, and here's one for your notebook. Mrs. Paige is suffering from the delusion that her real name is Emma Jane Darlington. Better known as Lady Darlington."
"Is that really so strange?" I said. "How many Napoleons and Lord Nelsons are in Bedlam this very minute?"
"But you miss the point, Watson," Holmes said. "One can understand a madman believing himself to be a famous personage, even a god. But why this rather obscure wife of a relatively obscure patrician?"
"I can tell you that," Lestrade said. "She looks like the woman."
"You mean there's a physical resemblance?"
"How would she know?" I asked. "Being behind bars for the past twelve months?"
"Because of the Rotogravure," the Inspector said. He pulled a folded newspaper clipping out of his pocket, revealing that his interest in this matter ran deep. He handed it to Holmes, and I was forced to look over his shoulder.
"It's a wedding photo," Holmes said.
"Of course," I replied. "Now I remember. This Lord Darlington was something of a roue, but he finally decided to marry. Probably because his father was threatening him with disinheritance if he didn't settle down, produce an heir or two!" I chuckled, but my companions didn't seem amused. I took the clipping from Holmes's hand and studied the sweet, simple face of the bride. The clipping was dated October 1.
"It caused a bit of a stir, this marriage," Lestrade said. "Not that I follow the gossip columns. Mainly because the bride's father is a tea and coffee importer. Hardly blue blood."
"Lovely girl just the same," I said in her defence.
"Yes," Holmes said, "And Mrs. Paige saw this lovely girl in the newspaper, noted the resemblance, and decided that she was the happy bride."
"Exactly," Lestrade said gravely. "And that's when the trouble began. She started shrieking night and day that her husband, Lord Darlington, had betrayed her. That he had put her into this prison in order to continue his abandoned life. She begged and pleaded with her guards to help her, to call her family, her friends, even Darlington himself. She was uncontrollable, Mr. Holmes, totally and completely insane."
"How terrible," I said. "But of course, the woman found her life unbearable. Therefore, she invented a new one."
"Bravo," Holmes said, smiling at me without irony for a change. "Dr. Watson has diagnosed the case with accuracy. Don't you agree, Inspector?"
"Yes," Lestrade said grudgingly. "It has to be the truth." He pulled a large repeater out of his watch pocket and shook his head. "Almost midnight," he said. "I suppose I should be on my way home."
"One more to toast the new year," I said, pouring him a largish brandy. He took it readily enough, lifted it in the air, and we all wished ourselves a Happy 1895. His glass was almost empty when he said, "But I didn't tell you about Lord Darlington's visit to the Institute."
Once again, Holmes brightened.
"Are you saying that Lord Darlington actually visited this woman?"
"Yes," Lestrade said. "Somehow, the story of Mrs. Paige's delusion reached his ear, and he got in touch with one of the physicians in charge. He wondered if perhaps the woman might be helped by a personal visit from Darlington and his wife."
"A reasonable notion," I said. "If she was rational enough to believe her own eyes ..."
"A very kind offer," Holmes said, his mouth twisting cynically. "But not one would expect from a man of Darlington's reputation. He was hardly an altruistic type."
"It was his wife's idea, I believe. She convinced him that it would be an act of charity. They went to see her together, but with unfortunate consequences. Not only did they fail to convince her, but Mrs. Paige took revenge on the institution by trying to burn it down!"
"Good Lord!" I said.
"Tell me exactly what happened," Holmes said, his gaze as intense as an eagle's.
"The details are still a bit cloudy. When the couple arrived, the Institute directors naturally wanted to protect their safety, and assigned a guard to supervise their meeting. Mrs. Paige objected violently; she would only talk to the Darlingtons alone. Rufus Darlington convinced them to allow this departure from precedent. He was confident he could handle any situation."
I glanced at the wedding photograph again. "He looks capable enough. Rather gigantic physically."
"A collegiate boxing champion," Lestrade grunted. "Obviously, he had little to fear from the madwoman. But he was wrong. While they were alone in Mrs. Paige's room, he made the mistake of lighting his pipe. She suddenly seized his matches, and quickly set her mattress on fire. By the time they obtained help, the whole room was ablaze!"
"Yes," I said. "I recall some small news story about that."
"It wasn't worthy of large headlines," Lestrade said. "But it did have a tragic consequence. Mrs. Paige was badly burned on most of her upper body. And worst of all, the visit failed to rid her of her delusion. If anything, her condition worsened."
Holmes had not said a word for the last few minutes. His eyes were closed, and he was breathing shallowly. I had a moment of alarm, knowing his medical condition. I touched him on the shoulder, but when he opened his eyes they were mere slits.
"I think Mr. Holmes should be in bed," I told the Inspector sternly. "He has not been well for the past three days, and I'm afraid this visit has tired him to the point of exhaustion."
Lestrade rose quickly. "I'm sorry," he said. "I had no idea ..."
"Of course not," I said. "Because Mr. Holmes was indulging in one of his favorite pastimes—pretending to be someone else. In this case, a person in good health!"
A flustered Inspector Lestrade left a few minutes later, with many apologies for his lack of insight. I accepted them cordially. But when I returned to Holmes, insisting on his immediate retirement, he looked at me so strangely that I wondered if the fever which had taken two days to subside had returned.
Then he spoke. "I would like to see a doctor."
I reminded him that I still bore the title.
"I want to see a very specific doctor, Watson. Tomorrow."
"Because," he said, his voice as sonorous as a church bell, "it's a matter of life and death. Not my own, dear fellow," he added, seeing my expression.
I woke the next morning a good hour and forty minutes past my usual waking time, surely the result of the surplus brandy I had ingested the night before.
I had an uneasy feeling that Holmes was no longer in his sickbed. I heard the distinct rattle of a cup and saucer, and poking my feet into a pair of slippers, I padded out into the parlour, to see a fully dressed Holmes making himself a cup of tea.
"It's all right," he said in a strained voice. "I'm quite well, Watson, I assure you. I tested my temperature this morning, and it was a smidgeon below normal. I did not cough all night, and my head is clear."
"Surely you don't mean to leave the house?"
"It wasn't easy to obtain the addresses I needed, but as it happens, one of the butlers who serves in Lord Darlington's household is an avid reader of your stories in The Strand. He was thrilled to talk to me, once I convinced him that I was not merely a fictional character."
"But what addresses did you want?"
"For one thing, the present location of Lord Darlington and his bride ... It seems that they've gone off on still another honeymoon, this time around the world, a trip bound to last a year or two. Then Lord Darlington reports to a diplomatic post on the island of Anguilla, a rather smallish outpost in the Caribbean."
I was becoming irritated. "What does all that matter, Holmes?"
"It matters a great deal," he answered. "But what matters even more is the name of Lord Darlington's personal physician. It's Blevin. Dr. Hugo Blevin. Do you know him, Watson?"
"Well, yes," I said. "I've met Blevin a few times, at medical conventions. I wouldn't say we were friends, but we are definitely acquaintances."
Holmes smiled broadly. "Then I can use your name as a reference," he said cheerfully, and sailed towards the door, scooping up his greatcoat as he went. He paused in the open doorway, and his lightheartedness vanished like melted snow.
"And when I return, Watson," he said, in a voice flattened by serious purpose, "you and I are going to visit the Institute for the Criminal Insane."
It was some six hours later that I heard the voice of Sherlock Holmes in the downstairs hallway, consulting Mrs. Hudson about some domestic matter. I had spent the day studying my notes on the Musgrave Ritual affair, but my mind kept wandering back to Inspector Lestrade's visit and Holmes's curious reaction to the story he had related. I simply could not understand my friend's interest in a case whose central mystery was only in the mind of a deranged woman.
When he appeared in the doorway, my first thought was for his well-being. There was indeed a feverish look in his eyes, and I was prepared to insist on an examination, but Holmes quickly quashed the idea.
"We must leave at once, Watson," he said. "We must not let this helpless victim suffer another minute more than necessary!"
"Victim? Suffer? What are you talking about, Holmes?"
"My carriage is downstairs. Take your medical bag; it might be necessary. And dress warmly. The air is frigid, and I don't want you to risk your health."
Considering who had been ill these past few days, the remark seemed highly inappropriate. But then I realized that Holmes was pulling my leg, an indirect sign of his affection.
When we reached the Institute, the first guardian of its portals proved to be a stout Welshman with fierce moustaches. For once, Holmes let me do the talking. I gave him my credentials, and asked to see the highest possible authority on a matter of grave importance. This proved to be a thin, ascetic gentleman named Stokes, who heard our names and began to wheeze with excitement.
"Mr. Holmes!" he said. "What a pleasure to meet you in the flesh! Only yesterday I read of your exploits with that nefarious Red-Headed League!" He ruffled his own reddish crown and grinned toothily. "I might well have been victimized myself."
"Speaking of victims," Holmes said cordially, "we were wondering if we could spend some time with your patient, Mrs. Paige. It's a matter of some importance, but I'm sure you'll understand that I cannot reveal its confidential nature."
Excerpted from The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Marvin Kaye. Copyright © 1998 Marvin Kaye. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Meet the Author
MARVIN KAYE is the author and editor of more than forty books. He lives in New York, New York.
Marvin Kaye is the author and editor of more than forty books. He lives in New York City.
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