The Return of Herlock Sholmes
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Return of Herlock Sholmes is a Sherlock Holmes parody of the series The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, written by Charles Hamilton (under pen name Peter Todd), published on 1 january 1916 in The Greyfriars Herald, starring Herlock Sholmes as the detective and Dr. Jotson as his sidekick.
The Return of Herlock Sholmes
Another Grand Story dealing with the Amazing Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, Detective.
Herlock Sholmes having gone to his death in that last struggle with Professor Hickorychicory, it might be supposed that his remarkable career had come to a complete stop. That, however, was far from being the case.
Sholmes was no ordinary man. What happened would undoubtedly have put a period to the career of any other man. To Sholmes it was merely an incident.
I confess to feeling some surprise, however, when, a few weeks after that terrible fatality, Sholmes walked into our old rooms at Shaker Street. My feeling, I suppose, showed in my face, for Sholmes burst into a hearty laugh as he regarded me.
"I have surprised you, my dear Jotson," he remarked.
"Sholmes! It is really you?"
"Myself, in flesh and blood!" he replied. "You never expected to see me again, Jotson?"
"I should have known you better, Sholmes!" I said. "Even after all my amazing experiences with you, you never cease to surprise me!"
He looked anxious for a moment.
"I hope you have kept up the instalments on the furniture, Jotson?"
"Good!" He sank into a seat, and rested his feet upon the table, in the old, easy, elegant manner that was so familiar to me. "Well, here I am again, Jotson, ready for work! Have any clients called during my absence?"
"Several. But, on hearing you were dead, Sholmes, they decided not to place their affairs in your hands. One, however, has persisted, and, indeed, he is calling again this morning. He has left his stick here."
"His stick?" said Sholmes. He took the walking-stick in his hands, and turned it over, regarding it with the old keen look. "Ah! A young man! Not over twenty-five, with a blonde moustache, and very strong teeth. It is curious that he should have black hair as well as a blond moustache. He must have made a long journey when he came here!"
"Sholmes, how can you know?"
"Because he lives in the country, Jotson, and we live in Shaker Street," smiled Sholmes. "A wealthy young man; money no object with him. Just the client I wish to see, if we are to keep those instalments paid, Jotson."
"Sholmes," I almost shouted, "do you seriously mean to tell me that you have deduced all this from the walking-stick?"
"Undoubtedly. Is not my description correct?"
"Perfectly correct! But how, in the name of wonder——"
Sholmes yawned slightly.
"My dear Jotson, look at the stick for yourself. Every picture tells a story, you know, and every story a gem. It is the same with walking-sticks. In the first place, as to wealth. You see that the stick has a silver top, which must have cost, at the lowest computation, eighteen pence. I deduce a wealthy man, careless with his money."
"Most true! But his blonde moustache, his black hair, his strong teeth. Oh, Sholmes——"
"If you examine the stick, Jotson, you will see by certain marks that the owner is in the habit of gnawing it. The wood is hard, the deep indentations argue very strong teeth. In one of those indentations, Jotson, is a short blond hair, evidently from his moustache. In another, a long black hair, equally evidently from his head."
"Marvellous to you, my dear Jotson, but to me a very simple matter." But his age, Sholmes. You stated——"
"Ah, there we are in deeper waters!" he smiled. "Yet it is obvious that if he were an old man, his hair would not have remained black."
"And how do you deduce that he comes from the country?"
"Look at the lower end of the stick, Jotson!"
"It is muddy," I said.
"Exactly. And that variety of mud, Jotson, is not found nearer than Slopshire. I have made a special study of varieties of mud, Jotson, and have, indeed, written a monograph on the subject, now in the collection at Hanwell. But here, I think, is our visitor himself."
The young man entered the room as he spoke, and Sholmes rose courteously.
"Herlock Sholmes?" exclaimed the visitor.
"Himself. You may speak quite freely before my friend, Dr. Jotson."
"Mr Sholmes, hear my story! My name is Hogg — you may have heard the name. I do not wish to boast, Mr. Sholmes, but since the beginning of history, there have been Hoggs in Slopshire. It is the oldest family in the county, connected at one time with the great Lord Bacon, and with the French family of Du Porc. I, sir, am the last of my race, I was reared in our ancient manor on the shores of the Wash. My grandfather, old Sir Pryze Hogg, cast me off. His sternness was due to my love of the cinema, which he held in abhorrence. He made a will, leaving the family estates to his butler, Pawker."
"Sir Pryze Hogg is dead," said the young man. "All the Hoggs have been rash, but Sir Pryze Hogg was rasher than the rest, and he was the victim of a fatality. Before he expired he sent for me, and whispered with his latest breath that he had made a new will. That will, Mr. Sholmes, cannot be found. Unless it is found, Pawker claims the estate under the old will. Mr. Sholmes, I have been accustomed to live in wealth and luxury——"
Sholmes shot me a triumphant glance. It was a verification of his infallible deductions.
"Unless the will is found I shall be reduced to poverty," said the young man moodily. "No more reckless expenditures of sixpences at the cinema, no more wild nights in the Mile End Road. For me, Woodbine cigarettes and fried fish will be things of the past. Save me, Mr. Sholmes!"
"I will save you!" said Herlock Sholmes quietly. "The will shall be found. As you are aware, where there is a will there's a way. Come, Jotson!"
We arrived at the old Manor-house of Hogg, on the shores of the Wash, as night was falling. I glanced curiously at Pawker, the butler, as we were shown in. Unless the will was discovered, a Pawker would reign in the place of a Hogg. That Herlock Sholmes already suspected Pawker of concealing the will of the irascible old baronet, I knew. But where had he concealed it? That was the question. The mystery was, to me, impenetrable, but I had faith in my amazing friend.
For two days Herlock Sholmes appeared to be idle. Our young friend showed impatience, but I knew Sholmes too well. I knew that under the inscrutable exterior his marvellous brain was working at express speed. On the third day the young baronet could contain his impatience no longer.
"Mr. Sholmes, you have not been at work yet——"
"I have been at work;' he yawned.
"You have made discoveries?"
"And what, pray?"
"I have discovered," said Sholmes calmly, "that your butler always serves the soup."
"And that he always, with his own hands, carefully places the soup in the tureen before it is brought into the dining-room."
"And that he never allows the tureen to be washed up with the other crockery," said Sholmes lazily.
"But I do not see——"
"Naturally!" said Sholmes. "If you could see, you would not require my services. But patience! Let us dine!"
We sat down, in great astonishment. That Sholmes was not speaking at random I knew. Yet I could not follow his line of reasoning.
The butler served us, as usual, with soup. I noticed that Sholmes did not taste his. "There is something in the soup," he said, in a quiet, deliberate voice.
The butler started.
"Pray bring the tureen here," said Sholmes.
"The — the tureen?" stammered the butler.
Pawker stood rooted to the floor. His face was deadly pale.
"I am waiting," said Sholmes, smiling. "I remarked that there was something in the soup, Pawker. Ha! Stop him!"
To my amazement, the butler seized the soup-tureen, and rushed to the door. Sholmes was upon him with the spring of a tiger.
The tureen fell to the floor, where it was shattered into a thousand fragments. Soup streamed over the polished floor. In the midst of the spilt soup lay a roll of parchment.
"What does this mean?" shouted the young baronet.
"It means the missing will is discovered, my young friend."
"Sholmes!" I exclaimed. "You mean to say——"
"Pick it up, my dear Jotson, and see for yourself."
I could no longer doubt. It was the missing will, discovered by the marvellous penetration of my extraordinary friend.
Sholmes smiled as we stepped into the train for London. I knew that he was pleased with his success.
"You amaze me more and more, Sholmes!" I said, as he lighted a couple of pipes, and blew out two thick clouds of smoke. "May I ask——"
"The usual question, Jotson!" He laughed. "My dear fellow, it was child's play. The butler had concealed the will. The soup-tureen was never out of his hands. Covered with soup, the document was always invisible. I had discovered that Pawker always washed the tureen himself. It was enough. I had noticed a slight flavour in the soup; I was sure then. True, I could have descended to the kitchen, and demanded the missing document, but I preferred to spring a surprise upon our friend Pawker. You know that I have a touch of the dramatic, Jotson. I dearly love a striking denouement. A cunning rascal, Jotson. Who else would have dreamed of hiding a will in a soup-tureen?"
"And who but you would have divined it?" I could not help exclaiming. "I, too, had noticed a flavour in the soup, but I did not connect it with the missing will. Yet I have studied your methods."
"Ah, my dear Jotson!" said Sholmes, dropping into French, as he often did. "It is Montaigne who says, « Vous êtes drôle, mon cher, vous êtes très drôle. Passez les allumettes ! Merci ! Allons ! »" 
- Translation : "You are funny, my dear, you are very funny. Give me the matches ! Thank you ! Let's go!"