The Kaiser's Code!
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Kaiser's Code! is a Sherlock Holmes parody of the series The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, written by Charles Hamilton (under pen name Peter Todd), published on 11 march 1916 in The Greyfriars Herald, starring Herlock Sholmes as the detective and Dr. Jotson as his sidekick.
The Kaiser's Code!
Another Grand Story dealing with the Amazing Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, Detective.
I have often referred to the fact that my amazing friend, Herlock Sholmes, has frequently placed his marvellous talents at the service of the police. Inspector Pinkeye, of Scotland Yard, has reason to be grateful to him, notably in the famous case of the Pawned Pickle-Jar. It is much to be regretted that Sholmes has never been given full credit for his inestimable services. Indeed, it is painful to relate that, upon more than one occasion the authorities have preferred their own facts to Sholmes' theories. Such an instance occurred in the case of the Kaiser's Code.
I am perfectly well aware that Inspector Pinkeye does not believe in the Kaiser's Code. Needless to say, I take Sholmes' view of the matter. After my amazing experiences with him at Shaker Street I am not likely to lose faith in the judgment of my astounding friend. Herlock Sholmes was smoking a pipe and several cigarettes one morning after breakfast in our room at Shaker Street, when Inspector Pinkeye was shown in. Sholmes gave him a friendly nod.
"What is it this time, Pinkeye?" he asked. "Help yourself to the cocaine, my dear fellow. You can speak quite freely before my friend Dr. Jotson."
"A very curious case, Mr. Sholmes," said the inspector. "Of course, we are quite capable of dealing with it ourselves——"
Herlock Sholmes smiled ironically.
"But I admit that I should like to have your opinion," said the inspector. "Kindly look at that postcard."
He laid a postcard on the table, and Sholmes glanced at it carelessly. I followed his glance, and could not repress a start of surprise.
For this is what was written on the card:
- "Kt. to K 2.
- W. J."
I could see that Sholmes was interested, for he allowed several of his cigarettes to go out.
"And now this," said the inspector, producing another card.
It contained the following:
- "P takes R. Ch.
- W. J."
Herlock Sholmes' eyes glistened.
He turned over the cards, and found that both of them were addressed to "George Wopps, Esq., Forest View, Sluggs' Road, Peckham."
"Well," said the inspector, "what do you make of that, Mr. Sholmes?"
Herlock Sholmes yawned.
"Nothing; excepting that these cards were posted by a man about six feet high, with a sandy moustache and a cast in the left eye, dressed in a brown ulster, and wearing a fancy waistcoat," he replied.
The inspector started.
"How did you discover that, Mr. Sholmes?"
"My dear Pinkeye," drawled Sholmes, "your methods are not mine, and it would be useless for me to explain. Let us get to business. What is it you wish me to do?"
"For some time past, Mr. Wopps, of Peckham, has been receiving these mysterious communications, and it has come under the notice of my department," explained the inspector. "Evidently it is a secret code. At least, it appears as such."
"It is such," said Sholmes calmly.
"I am glad you agree with me, Mr. Sholmes," said the inspector, evidently relieved. "In war time one cannot be too careful. The efficiency of the German spy system is well known, and if we had the time, we should certainly keep a watch upon the Germans now living in England."
"What steps have you taken, inspector?"
"I have made enquiries concerning this man Wopps. He is a retired grocer, and lives a very quiet life, chiefly amusing his leisure time in playing chess."
"Probably a blind."
"Possibly," assented the inspector.
"I said probably!"
"I do not dispute your judgment, Mr. Sholmes. The house has been watched, and all visitors carefully scrutinised. Nothing of a suspicious character has been observed; but, remembering your methods, Mr. Sholmes, I have come to the conclusion that that fact alone is very significant."
"Extremely so," said Sholmes drily. "How did you obtain possession of the cards?"
"They were discovered in the sanitary dustbin by one of my men."
"That is remarkable," I ventured to observe. "It looks as if Mr. Wopps attaches little importance to them."
Herlock Sholmes smiled.
"My dear Jotson," he said, "how often have I told you that the obvious is necessarily incorrect? If Mr. Wopps appears to attach no importance to these postcards, that is a direct proof that he attaches the greatest importance to them."
"I stand corrected, Sholmes," I said meekly.
And indeed I could not help being astounded at this fresh proof of the perspicacity of my amazing friend.
"You want me to decipher this, I presume," said Sholmes carelessly.
"Exactly," said the inspector. "once the cipher is read, we have evidence in our hands, and can proceed to action. But I fear that even you, Sholmes, may fail."
Sholmes made a gesture, and the inspector was silent.
My friend's eye were fixed upon the mysterious cipher. We watched him anxiously—the inspector with doubt, myself with perfect confidence. I felt, however deep the mystery, Sholmes would not fail. I was right.
Herlock Sholmes looked up at last.
"The first card reads 'Kt. to K 2,'" he said calmly. "K evidently stands for Kaiser."
The inspector drew a deep breath.
"And the 2?" he asked.
"You are probably aware that the present Kaiser is William II."
"True. But the 'Kt.'"
"Evidently an abbreviation of 'Kraut,'" explained Sholmes. "You may know that Germans subsist largely upon a dish known as sauer-kraut. Deciphered, the message means simply this: 'Sauer-kraut to Kaiser William II' Evidently it refers to some attempt to baffle the British blockade of Germany, and hints that sauer-kraut is the article of which they are most in need."
"By Jove!" said the inspector. "And the second card, Mr. Sholmes?"
"P takes R. Ch." said Sholmes musingly. "It is perfectly clear. Prussia takes risks — meaning that the Kaiser takes the risk of the shipment being seized by the British Fleet, so that no loss will fall upon the traitor who is trading with the enemy."
"And the 'ch'?"
"'Ch' are the second two letters of the German word 'schnell.' Schnell means quick. It means that there is no time to be lost."
"Thank you, Mr. Sholmes." The inspector rose to his feet. "With this evidence in our hands, we can obtain a search-warrant. Good-morning.
"I advise you to search the house, and secure the incriminating evidence which is undoubtedly there," said Sholmes. "Let me know your success on the telephone."
"Certainly." The inspector hurried away.
It was about two hours later that the telephone bell rang. Sholmes took up one receiver, and I the other. Sholmes was looking somewhat elated. Only his powerful brain could have penetrated the secret of the Kaiser's secret code, and he knew it. The glory of the capture of the man who was trading with the enemy would fall to Inspector Pinkeye, but for that my friend cared little.
"Is that 'Mr. Sholmes?" came the inspector's voice over the wires.
"Yes, inspector. Have you been to Mr. Wopps'?"
"I am 'phoning from there," replied the inspector.
"You have made the arrest?"
"Then what has happened?"
"Mr. Wopps has explained the matter satisfactorily."
Sholmes gave a somewhat bitter smile.
"Oh, the police!" he murmured.
"It is quite all right, Mr. Sholmes," went on the inspector's voice. "Mr. Wopps is a chess player."
"That is a blind, my dear fellow."
"Not at all. He is in the habit of playing chess by correspondence with a friend at a distance, named William Jones. Mr. Jones' initials are signed on the cards, you will remember."
"And what is Mr. Wopps' valuable explanation of the cipher?" asked Herlock Sholmes, with a smile of sarcasm.
"On the first card, 'Kt. to K2' stands for 'Knight to King's second square." It was Mr. Jones' move in the game then under progress."
"Egregious!" murmured Sholmes. "And the second card?"
"'P takes R — ch,'" said the inspector. "That stands for 'Pawn takes Rook — check!'"
"My dear Sholmes," I ventured to remark, "the explanation is most plausible."
"The fact that the explanation is plausible, Jotson, is convincing proof that there is nothing in it."
"And you are satisfied, inspector?" asked Sholmes.
Herlock Sholmes laughed.
"Then if you are satisfied, inspector, I have no more to say. Good-bye!"
Sholmes rang off.
"What will you do in the matter now, Sholmes?" I asked.
"Nothing!" said Sholmes firmly. "Unless the authorities call me in, I shall make no move in the matter at all. Importation of sauer-kraut into Germany is undoubtedly going on, on a large scale, but I cannot move in the matter. Doubtless the inspector will realise his egregious mistake, and return later to ask my aid. I shall not refuse it."
It is with deep regret that I record that Inspector Pinkeye did not return to ask for further aid in the matter. Whether he realised his egregious blunder, even, I am unable to state. So far as my knowledge extends, no further step has been taken in the case of the Kaiser's Code. The fault is not Sholmes'.