The Case of the Pawned Pickle-Jar!
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Case of the Pawned Pickle-Jar! is a Sherlock Holmes parody of the series The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, written by Charles Hamilton (under pen name Peter Todd), published on 12 february 1916 in The Greyfriars Herald, starring Herlock Sholmes as the detective and Dr. Jotson as his sidekick.
The Case of the Pawned Pickle-Jar!
Another Grand Story dealing with the Amazing Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, Detective.
I have already mentioned, in the course of these memoirs, the curious case of the Pawned Pickle-Jar. In no case has the amazing insight of my remarkable friend Herlock Sholmes been displayed to greater advantage. How Sholmes, in a few hours, elucidated a mystery that had baffled Scotland Yard for several weeks, I now propose to describe.
Sholmes was lounging idly by the window of our sitting-room in Shaker Street, his hands thrust into the pockets of his celebrated dressing-gown—that somewhat shabby but still gorgeous dressing-gown which has become historic in the annals of crime. I looked up as he uttered a sudden ejaculation.
"Our friend Pinkeye!"
I joined him at the window. Inspector Pinkeye of Scotland Yard had just stopped at the door.
Sholmes smiled slightly.
"My assistance is required again, I fancy, Jotson," he remarked. "Once more the Criminal Investigation Department has realised its helplessness. Well, well, we must do our best to help friend Pinkeye out of his scrape."
A few minutes later our landlady, Mrs. Spudson, showed the inspector into our sitting-room.
"Good-morning, Pinkeye! Have the missing bonds come to light yet?" drawled Herlock Sholmes.
"It is about those bonds that I have come to consult you, Sholmes," said Inspector Pinkeye, sinking into a chair. "I admit, Sholmes, that we have been completely beaten so far. Messrs. Have & Hookit's War Bonds are still missing. We have the thief safe and sound, but the plunder——" The inspector made a gesture of despair. "Can you help us, Sholmes?"
Herlock Sholmes leaned back in his chair, his feet resting negligently on the mantelpiece, his dressing-gown draping carelessly about his knees.
"Pray let me have a few details, Pinkeye," he said. "You can speak quite freely before my friend Dr. Jotson"
"I dare say you have seen the case in the papers," said the inspector. "It beats us, Sholmes. Here is the matter in a nutshell. Mr. H. Walker, chief cashier to Messrs. Have & Hookit, was discovered to have been robbing the firm for years. He was arrested, but not till he had made away with a number of bonds belonging to his employers. These bonds have not been disposed of in the market, and they 54
cannot be found. The prisoner declines to give information. Evidently he has concealed the bonds, as a nest-egg for his old age when he comes out of chokey. But where — that is the question."
"You have searched——"
"His lodgings have been searched, even the wallpaper being stripped off the walls, every inkpot emptied and examined under the microscope, and his bulldog subjected to Rontgen rays. No trace of the bonds has been discovered."
"And his person——"
"Subjected to the most thorough examination. Nothing was found upon him but a pawnticket."
"Ah," said Sholmes — "a pawnticket! An indication that Mr. Walker has been hard up for ready cash?"
"I suppose so, but it does not represent a large amount. The sum stated on the ticket is fourpence, and the article entrusted to the care of the pawnbroker was simply a pickle-jar."
Herlock Sholmes raised his eyebrows.
"A pickle-jar, Pinkeye?"
"Simply a pickle-jar. Quite unconnected with the case in hand, of course. The pickle-jar has been ascertained to be his own property."
"Certainly there seems no obvious connection between a pickle-jar and War Bonds to the value of a thousand pounds," he remarked. "And what is not obvious is of no use to Scotland Yard — eh, Pinkeye?"
"Really, Mr. Sholmes, I don't quite follow. Our department has attached no importance whatever to the pawned pickle-jar."
"Naturally!" said Sholmes. "Can I see the pawnticket?"
The inspector made a gesture of impatience.
"I came to you for advice, Mr. Sholmes. Your methods are not the same as ours, but I admit that, in some cases, you have had phenomenal luck. But——"
"Luck, my dear Pinkeye, is not a word in my vocabulary," said Herlock Sholmes, with some asperity. "My method is deduction. I repeat that I should like to see the pawnticket."
With evident impatience, Inspect Pinkeye drew the little slip of cardboard from his pocket, and passed it to Herlock Sholmes.
"Now tell me what you make of that!" he exclaimed, with unconcealed derision.
Sholmes did not reply.
He took the pawnticket and examined it minutely.
I watched my amazing friend with the keenest of interest. Knowing Herlock Sholmes as I did, I should not have been surprised if he had described minutely the hiding-place of the missing bonds, merely from an examination of the pawnticket referring to the pickle-jar. He did not speak for some minutes, but his brow was very thoughtful. Both his pipes went out, a proof of his concentration of mind. It was the official who broke the silence.
"Wells Mr. Sholmes?"
Herlock Sholmes yawned.
"May I keep this ticket for an hour or so?" he asked.
"Oh, certainly! It is of no use to Scotland Yard!" said the inspector. "Perhaps, Mr. Sholmes, you have already discovered the hiding-place of the bonds?"
Sholmes laughed, and rose.
"My dear Pinkeye, as you have already remarked, my methods are not yours. Jotson, my dear fellow, may I trouble you to call a taxi?"
"Will you do me the honour to remain here a little while, Pinkeye? I shall be absent an hour or so. You will find these cigarettes excellent, and the cask of cocaine is in the corner."
"But — but—" stammered the inspector.
But Herlock Sholmes was gone.
"Bosh!" growled the inspector.
He stood at the window, watching the taxi as it sped away with Herlock Sholmes. The expression on his face was one of ironical impatience. It was evident that he believed that he was wasting time.
"You may rely on Sholmes," I ventured to remark. "His experience of pawntickets has been long and varied, extending over many years. At almost every period in his career he has had a large collection of them."
Inspector Pinkeye merely grunted. He did not share my faith in the amazing abilities of Herlock Sholmes. The hide-bound prejudice of the official mind was not so easily overcome.
In less than an hour, the taxi was heard without, and then we heard the familiar tread of Herlock Sholmes on the stairs. He came in, smiling.
"Well?" snapped Inspector Pinkeye.
"I have had a very agreeable drive," smiled Herlock Sholmes. "I trust you have not been bored by my friend Jotson, Pinkeye?"
"Mr. Sholmes, we are wasting time. Kindly return the pawnticket, and I will return to my duties," said the inspector gruffly.
"Too late!" smiled Herlock Sholmes. "I have parted with it."
"You have parted with it?"
"Yes; but I have something to hand you in exchange."
"And what may that be?"
"The missing bonds," drawled Herlock Sholmes.
He drew a small bundle from beneath his dressing-gown, and laid it upon the table, Inspector Pinkeye gazed upon it, dumbfounded.
"The — the bonds?" he stammered.
"Pray, examine them, Pinkeye, and I think you will find the numbers correct."
With trembling hands, the inspector examined the bonds.
"They are all here;' he said. "In the name of wonder, Sholmes——"
Sholmes shrugged his shoulders.
"My dear Pinkeye, there are the bonds. Good-morning!"
"Sholmes!" I exclaimed, when the inspector was gone.
Herlock Sholmes did not reply for a moment. He was lighting a pipe with his usual methodical care.
"Sholmes, you amaze me more and more. You have discovered the missing bonds?"
"So it appears, Jotson."
"Merely from the clue of the pawnticket?"
"You astound me, Sholmes!"
"My dear Jotson, you should be accustomed to being astounded by this time," said Sholmes chidingly.
"True. And yet——"
"A perfectly simple case, Jotson. Nothing was found on the prisoner but a pawnticket relating to a pickle-jar in the custody of a Mr. Solomons in security for a loan of fourpence. What would you, my dear Jotson, have deduced from that?"
"That H. Walker was extremely short of money, when it was worth his while to raise a loan of fourpence by pawning a pickle-jar," I replied.
"Exactly the conclusion that the police came to, Jotson," Sholmes smiled. "But I did not come to that conclusion, Jotson. Consider a moment, my dear fellow. Fourpence, certainly, is not a sum to be despised. But the purloiner of the bonds had a more powerful motive. If he had pawned a clock, or a walking-stick, or a parrot, the police theory might have held water. But have you not remarked upon the extraordinary circumstances that the article pawned was a pickle-jar?"
"I confess, Sholmes——"
"Not a jar of pickles, you observe, but a pickle-jar," resumed Sholmes. "Does that tell you nothing, my dear Jotson?"
"My dear fellow, you are fully qualified for a high position in Scotland Yard,' said Herlock Sholmes, with a smile. "Observe! The thief's object was to discover a safe hiding-place for the bonds. What securer place could he find than the interior of a pickle-jar placed in the keeping of a common, or garden, pawnbroker? His object was not to raise the useful, but far from lavish, sum of fourpence."
"I presented the pawnticket to Mr. Solomons, Jotson, and claimed the pickle-jar, Inside it—somewhat stained with disused pickles, but still recognisable—reposed the missing bonds. Voila tout."
"Marvellous!" I could not help exclaiming. Sholmes smiled.
"Elementary, my dear Jotson. But, until your valuable memoirs appear in the Press, Jotson, Inspector Pinkeye will remain mystified. The intellect of Scotland Yard is not equal to discerning the connection between the missing bonds and the Pawned Pickle-Jar."