The Bound of the Haskervilles!
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Bound of the Haskervilles! is a Sherlock Holmes parody of the series The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, written by Charles Hamilton (under pen name Peter Todd), published on 4 december 1915 in The Greyfriars Herald, starring Herlock Sholmes as the detective and Dr. Jotson as his sidekick.
The Bound of the Haskervilles!
Another Grand Story dealing with the Amazing Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, Detective.
The story of the disappearance of Sir Huckaback Haskerville, and the strange events that followed, has never been fully told. It is my privilege, as the faithful companion and chronicler of Herlock Sholmes. to give the story to the public for the first thee. It was Shohnes, it is needless to say, who solved the mystery that had baffled the police for three weeks. It is only just that soy amazing friend should be given, even at this late date, the credit that is his due.
The disappearance of Sir Huckaback, the head of one of the oldest families in Slopshire, had created a sensation. There were whispers of family dissensions that had preceded it. Society held that Lady' Haskerville was to blame. What seemed certain was that the unhappy baronet, after hot Words at the breakfast-table, had rushed forth from his ancestral halls, and plunged to his death in the deep chases in the heart of Haskerville Park. From those gloomy depths he had never emerged.
Strange stories were told of that yawning chasm in Haskerville Park. Treditiori had it that a certain ancestor of the Haskervilles„ who had sided with King Charles in the Civil 'Wane had escaped the soldiers of the Parliament by a desperate leap across the yawning gulf. From this tradition the place was known locally as "The Bound of the Haskervilles." A certain resemblance was given to the story by the fact that this ancient Haskerville had had a considerable reputation as is bounder in the Royal Court before the wars.
Be this as it may, there could be little doubt that his descendant had perished in those gloomy depths. His footsteps had been traced to the edge of the chasm, and there were no returning footprints. Where his ancestor, pursued by Cromwell's Ironsides, had bounded to safety, if local tradition was to be relied upon, Sir Huckaback had plunged into his doom.
The grief of Lady Haskerville was terrible. For several days she was not seen at the theatre or the cinema. I was not surprised when, one merging, as I sat at breakfast, with Herlock Sholmes in our rooms at Shaker Street, Lady Haskerville was announced.
Sholmes made a slight gesture of impatience. He was very bits!, at this time upon the case of the missing DePaste diamonds, and had no mind for other work. But his face relaxed at the sight of Lady Haskerville. Even the clever work of her Bond Street complexion specialist could not hide the pallor of her beautiful face.
"Mr. Sholmes," she exclaimed, clasping her hands, "you will help, me! I have come to you as a last resource. The police are helpless.'
Sholmes smiled ironically.
"It is not uncommon for my aid to be called in when the police have proved to be helpless." he remarked. "But really, ray dear Lady Haskerville — pray sit down — really. I cannot leave the case I am engaged upon."
"Mr. Sholmes, to save me from despair !"
I glanced at Sholmes, wondering whether his firmness would be proof against this appeal. My friend wavered.
"Well, well," he said. "Let us see what can be done. Pray give me the details, Lady Haskerville. You may speak quite freely before my friend Jotson."
"I am convinced that Sir Huckaback still lives," said Lady Haskerville, weeping. "But he will not return. Mr. Sholmes, it was my fault; I admit it. Oh, to see him once more, and confess my fault upon any knees! The bloaters were burnt !"
"The bloaters?" queried Herlock Sholmes.
"It was a trifling quarrel," said Lady Haskerville tearfully. "Sir Huckaback's favourite breakfast dish was the succulent bloater. I have never cared for bloaters; my own taste ran rather in the direction of shrimps. Mr. Sholmes, we loved each other dearly; yet upon this subject there was frequently argument. On the morning of Sir Huckaback's disappear-ance there were words — high words. Sir Huckaback maintained that the bloaters were burnt. I maintained that they were done perfectly. Mr. Sholmes, to my shame I confess it, I knew that the bloaters were burnt !" She sobbed.
Sholmes' clear-cut face was very grave.
"And then?" he asked quietly.
"Then, Mr Sholmes, Sir Huckaback rose in wrath, and declared that if he must eat burnt bloaters he would not remain at Haskerville Park. I was angry too; I was not myself at that moment. In my haste I said that if he persisted in his obnoxious predilection for bloaters, I never desired to look upon him again. He gave me one terrible look, and vanished. Too late I called to him; he did not hear, or he would not heed. I hoped he would return. In spite of the difference in our tastes, I loved him dearly. But he did not come back. Search was made. The police were called in. The track of his boots was found, leading down to the yawning abyss in the park known as the Bound of the Haskervilles. There he had disappeared."
Lady Haskerville trembled with emotion. My own eyes were not dry. The grief of this beautiful woman moved me deeply. Sholmes was unusually gentle.
"But I cannot believe that he is dead," continued Lady Haskerville, controlling her emotion. "Mr. Sholmes, he is keeping away from me. He has taken my hasty words too, too seriously; and that he will never give up bloaters I know only too well. I feel that he is living yet, in some quiet and serene spot where he may be able to enjoy his favourite breakfast-dish undisturbed. Ho must be found, Mr. Sholmes, or my heart will be broken. This dreadful doubt must be set at rest."
"It is quite certain that the footprints leading to the chasm were really Sir Huckaback's?" asked Sholmes.
"Yes, that is certain; his footprints were well known. He took number eleven in boots."
Herlock Sholmes caressed his chin thoughtfully for a moment. Then he rose to his feet.
"Your car is outside, Lady Haskerville?"
"Yes, Mr. Sholmes. You will come with me?" she exclaimed eagerly.
"We will come," corrected Herlock Sholmes. "My friend Jotson will, I am sure, give up his patients for one day."
"Willingly !" I exclaimed.
Ten seconds later we were in the car, whirling away at top speed for the ancient home of the Haskervilles, in the heart of Slopshire.
"So that is the celebrated Bound of the Haskervilles!" said Herlock Sholmes thoughtfully.
We arrived at Haskerville Park, and my friend had proceeded at once, to the scene of the supposed suicide of the baronet. Following the tracks in the grassy sward, which had not been disturbed, we had arrived at the border of the yawning abyss.
Sholmes stood regarding it thoughtfully. I watched, in wonder, striving. to guess the thoughts that were passing in that subtle brain. He had stopped for a few minutes in the house to use the telephone. Why? I could not guess. Now we were upon the scene of the disappearance. Three weeks had passed since Sir Huckaback had reached that fatal verge. What did Sholmes hope to discover there?
He turned to me at last with his inscrutable smile.
"Do you feel inclined for a stroll, Jotson?" he asked.
"Anything you like, Sholmes."
We started off along the edge of the abyss. A quarter of a mile's walk brought us to the end, and we walked round it, and along the other side. Sholmes took a pair of powerful glasses from his pocket, and scanned the smiling countryside. In the distance the smoke of a cottage rose above the trees.
He started off again, and I followed him in wonder. When we reached the cottage it was easy to learn that the occupant was at a meal, for a strong scent of frying fish came from the open window.
Sholmes knocked at the door.
It was opened by a man in rough attire, wearing; very large, heavy boots. He looked suspiciously at Sholles.
"What's wanted?" he asked gruffly.
"You are Sir Huckaback Haskerville?" he replied tranquilly.
The man staggered back. I could not repress a cry of astonishment.
"It is false!" exclaimed the cottager. "Sir Huckaback Haskerville is dead."
"My dear Sir Huckaback," said Sholmes quietly, "it is useless to deny your identity. But I have come as a friend, not as an enemy. Her ladyship has repented. She confesses her fault. In future, I am assured, she will utter, not a single word that could wound your feelings upon the subject of bloaters. Sir Huckaback, be generous. Return to her ladyship, and relieve her breaking heart."
"Come!" said Sholmes, with a smile. And, after a brief hesitation, the baronet assented.
"Sholmes, I am on tenterhooks!" I exclaimed, as the express bore us Londonwards. "You astonish me anew every day. But this—"
He laughed as he lighted a couple of cigarettes.
"The fact is, Jotson, I am pleased myself," he said. " Yet it was very simple."
"But the police—"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"The police knew that old story of the Bound of the Haskervilles," he said. "Yet they never thought of the obvious deduction. The baronet had determined to disappear. By leaving the pumistakable track of number eleven boots to the verge of the chasm he gave the desired impression. A certain ancestor of Sir Huckaback originated the tradition of the Bound of the Haskervilles by clearing that chasm at a single jump. Why should not that trait have descended to the present baronet? That was the theory I worked upon, Jotson. I was perfectly prepared to find that, instead of having fallen into the abyss, Sir Huckaback had repeated the performance of his ancestor by clearing, it. Consequently, I searched for hiss on the other side.
"I wished to ascertain, Jotson, whether Sir Huckaback had ever shown any trace of inheriting the peculiar bounding powers of his ancestor. I called up his college at Oxford. In five minutes I had learned all I wished to know. Sir Huckaback's reputation, in his college days, was that of the biggest bounder at Oxford. Have you any cocaine about you, Jolson? Thanks!"
And Herlock Sholmes remained in a comatose condition till we arrived at Shaker Street.