How Sherlock Holmes Found His Gladiatorial Shield

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Archie Roosevelt's Tip: How Sherlock Holmes Found His Gladatorial Shield is an article-fiction written published in the New-York Tribune on 12 january 1908.

How Sherlock Holmes Found His Gladatorial Shield

New-York Tribune
(12 january 1908, magazine section, p. 2)


How Sherlock Holmes Found His Gladiatorial Shield.

The Secret Service men who have to look after him in Washington may not be delighted that Archibald Roosevelt has reached the age when he takes an interest in girls, but the clerical force at the White House is certainly not displeased that something has taken the place of their department as the scene of his activities.

The older clerks will never forget Archie, no matter what Presidents come and go. When he first came to the White House he and his brother Kermit were at the mock gladiatorial age. They armed themselves with tin garbage can covers for shields, with wooden swords and Oriental daggers, and pranced about the White House playfully holding up all whom they encountered, regardless of rank or degree.

There were intricate rules to the game which the two boys carefully taught to each victim. One of the rules provided that if any of the clerks captured one of the youngster's shields the lad must pay a ransom for its return.

"I want my shield," Archie demanded one day of a clerk who had hidden it from him. "How much must I pay you for it?"

"I do not want your money for it," said the clerk. "You cannot buy it."

"I must have my shield," said Archie, with decision. "Won't you tell me how I am to get it?"

"Really, Mr. Roosevelt," said the clerk, in mock pompous tones, "I don't see how you are going to get your shield unless you ask Mr. Sherlock Holmes to help you. Do you know him?"

"Oh, yes. I know Sherlock," said Archie, quite relieved. Gathering up the implements of warfare which yet remained to him, he took his departure. He was back again in five minutes.

"How do you do. Mr. Sherlock Holmes?" he said, with dignity.

It was a minute before the clerk remembered his new role.

"A bad man has stolen my shield. Mr. Sherlock Holmes," continued the President's son. "I want you to tell me where it is."

The clerk took the most improved Sherlockian attitude and spent a minute in deep study. "What manner of shield was this?" he asked.

"It was a round, shiny shield," said Archie, describing the garbage can cover, "with a handle on it so that I can hold it up before me when I fight."

"Well, I think we can get at the bottom of this strange crime," said the clerk. "Suppose you pull your chair up here and we'll do some diagram work."

The lad drew his chair close to the desk and watched the diagram grow. "Why, this is the second floor of our house," he exclaimed after a moment, "and this is the Cabinet room, and this Mr. Cortelyou's, and this is where we are now."

"You are right, Mr. Roosevelt," said Sherlock Holmes. "This is the second floor of the White House, and this dot represents where we are at present."

"Yes, sir," nodded Archie; "that dot shows where we are."

"I am drawing a line from this dot. You must follow it with the utmost care, in and out, wherever it goes. It will finally bring you to your garbage can lid."

"You mean my shield," protested Archie stiffly.

"Certainly — beg pardon, your shield."

After studying the intricate diagram for a minute Archie asked: "And why, Mr. Holmes, don't you tell me just where it is at once, and let me go and get it?"

"Because," said the clerk with disdain, "if I did that I wouldn't be Mr. Sherlock Holmes."

"Oh-h," said Archie, feeling that he had blundered. Then he began the long hunt. In and out, back and forth, around and about, he trotted, faithfully following the eccentric line on the paper. Twice he went around Mr. Cortelyou's desk at a mad gallop, and when asked what he was up to cried back over his shoulder:

"Hist! I'm following the orders of Sherlock Holmes."

It was a panting Archibald who finally trudged back to the room from which he had started. He marched to a door that stood ajar just back of the clerk's desk, and pulled out his shield. He had known it was there all the time, but it would have ruined the game to have found it at once.