Holmes and the Dasher

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Holmes and the Dasher is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche written by Anthony Berkeley Cox (as Anthony Berkeley) published in Punch in 1925.

The detective is Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Bertie Watson.


Holmes and the Dasher

It was a pretty rotten sort of day in March, I remember, that dear old Holmes and I were sitting in the ancestral halls in Baker Street, putting in a quiet bit of meditation. At least Holmes was exercising the good old gray matter over a letter that had just come, while I was relaxing gently in an armchair.

"What-ho, Watson, old fruit," he said at last, tossing the letter over to me. "What does that mass of alluvial deposit you call a brain make of this, what, what?"

The letter went something like this, as far as I can remember; at least, I may not have got all the words quite right, but this was the sort of gist of it, if you take me:

Jolly old Mr. Holmes, I shall be rolling round at about three o'clock to discuss a pretty ripe little problem with you. It's like this. Freddie Devereux asked me to marry him last night, as I can prove with witnesses; but this morning he says he must have been a bit over the edge (a trifle sozzled, if you get me), and that a proposal doesn't count in the eyes of the rotten old Law if made under the influence of friend Demon Rum, as it were. Well, what I mean is what about it? In other words, it's up to you to see that Freddie and I get tethered up together in front of an altar in the pretty near future. Get me?
Yours to a stick of lip salve,

"Well, Watson?" Holmes asked, splashing a little soda into his glass of cocaine. "As the jolly old poet says what, what, what?"

"It seems to me," I said, playing for safety, "that this is a letter from a girl called Cissie Crossgarters, who wants to put the stranglehold on a chappie called Devereux, while he's trying to counter with an uppercut from the jolly old Law. At least, that is, if you take my meaning."

"It's astounding how you get at the heart of things, Watson," said Holmes, in that dashed sneering way of his. "But it is already three o'clock, and there goes the bell. If I'm not barking up the wrong tree, this will be our client. Cissie Crossgarters!" he added ruminatively. "Mark my words, Watson, old laddie, she'll be a bit of a dasher. That is, a topnotcher, as it were."

In spite of his faults I'm bound to say that Holmes certainly is the lad with the outsize brain; the fellow simply exudes intuition. The girl was a topnotcher. The way she sailed into our little sitting room reminded me of a ray of sunshine lighting up the good old Gorgonzola cheese. I mean, poetry and bright effects and whatnot.

"Miss Crossgarters?" asked Holmes, doing the polite.

"Call me Cissie," she said, spraying him with smiles. Oh, she was a dasher all right.

"Allow me to present my friend, colleague and whatnot, Bertie Watson," said Holmes, and she switched the smile onto me. I can tell you, I felt the old heart thumping like a motorbike as I squeezed the tiny little hand she held out to me. I mean, it was so dashed small. In fact, tiny, if you get me. I mean to say, it was such a dashed tiny little hand.

"Well?" said Holmes, when we were all seated, looking his most hatchet-faced and sleuthiest. "And what about everything, as it were? That is, what, what?"

"You got my letter?" cooed the girl, looking at Holmes as if he were the only man in the world. I mean, you know the sort of way they look at you when they want something out of you.

"You bet I did," said Holmes, leaning back and clashing his ringer tips together, as was his habit when on the jolly old trail.

"And what do you think of it?"

"Ah!" said Holmes, fairly bursting with mystery. "That's what we've got to consider. But I may say that the situation appears to me dashed thick and not a little rotten. In fact, dashed rotten and pretty thick as well, if you take me. I mean to say," he added carefully, "well, if you follow what I'm driving at, altogether pretty well dashed thick and rotten, what?"

"You do put things well," said the girl admiringly. "That's just what I felt about it myself. And what had I better do, do you think?"

"Ah!" said Holmes again, clashing away like mad. "It's just that particular little fruity point that we've got to think over, isn't it? I mean, before we get down to action, we've got to put in a bit of pretty useful meditation and whatnot. At least, that's how the thing strikes me."

"How clever you are, Mr. Holmes!" sighed the girl. Holmes heaved himself out of his chair. "And let me tell you that the best way of agitating the old bean into a proper performance of its duties is first of all to restore the good old tissues with a little delicate sustenance. In other words, what about something rather rare in tea somewhere first?"

"Oh, yes!" cried the girl. "How lovely!"

"Top-hole!" I said enthusiastically. I mean, the idea tickled me, what?

Holmes looked at me with a dashed cold eye. "You're not on the stage for this bit of dialogue, dear old laddie," he remarked in the way that writer chappies call incisively.

They trickled out together.

It was past midnight before Holmes returned.

"What ho!" I said doubtfully, still feeling a bit sore, if you understand me.

"What ho!" said Holmes, unleashing his ulster.

"What ho! What ho!"

"What ho! What ho! What?"

"I mean, what about Freddie Devereux?" I asked, to change the conversation.

"That moon-faced lump of mediocrity? What about him?"

"Well, what about him? About him and Miss Crossgarters, as it were. I mean to say, what about them, what?"

"Oh, you mean what about them ? Well, I don't think he'll trouble her much more. You see, Cissie and I have got engaged to be married, what? I mean, what, what, what?"