The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

The Sham Huns!

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Sham Huns! 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 march 1916 in The Greyfriars Herald, starring Herlock Sholmes as the detective and Dr. Jotson as his sidekick.

The Sham Huns!

The Greyfriars Herald (4 march 1916, p. 3)
The Greyfriars Herald (4 march 1916, p. 4)
The Greyfriars Herald (4 march 1916, p. 5)

Another Grand Story dealing with the Amazing Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, Detective.

Chapter 1

During the latter part of 1915 a series of remarkable disappearances had attracted a great deal of public attention. It was natural that, after Scotland Yard had realised its helplessness in the matter, the assistance of my amazing friend, Herlock Sholmes, should be called in.

Sholmes, took up the case willingly enough. There were, as he explained to me, many points of quite unusual interest in it. On my return one morning from the funeral of an old friend and patient, I found him busily engaged with the papers relating to the case.

"Quite a remarkable case, Jotson," he said, looking up. "Needless to say, the police can make nothing of it. We must see if we can help them out a little — eh, Jotson? During the past few weeks, my dear fellow, two hundred persons have mysteriously disappeared from London. Strangest of all, the disappearances are continuing, so it is evident that the same mysterious agency is still at work."

"Extraordinary, Sholmes!"

He nodded, and blew out two large clouds of smoke from his pipe.

"A very extraordinary case, Jotson. Look over these papers, my dear fellow, and tell me your opinion. You have studied my methods."

"I will do my best, Sholmes."

I perused the pages eagerly. I should have been very willing to show that I had achieved some measure of success in my study of his amazing methods. I looked up at last with some degree of confidence.

"Foul play," I said.

"And by whom, Jotson?"

"The Germans."

"Such, I believe, is the police theory," said Sholmes, with a smile. "I do not deal in theories, but in facts, unfortunately. However, let us see upon what you base this theory, Jotson?"

I was somewhat nettled by his bantering tone, and I replied a little warmly:

"In each case some sign of German intervention has been discovered. Each of the men who have disappeared was in poor circumstances. Some of them had suffered losses and hardships. Yet, when their lodgings were searched by the police after their amazing disappearance, in most cases a German grammar was discovered. In many cases a German dictionary also came to light. Why should they have purchased these expensive volumes themselves, with their straitened means?"

"Ah! Why?" said Sholmes.

"Moreover, in many cases written sheets of German exercises were found, showing that the unfortunate victims had been studying the German language."


"In some cases neighbours have given that the victims were heard making guttural and animal-like sounds, evident proof that they were endeavouring to learn to speak in German."

"Quite correct."

"I deduce, therefore, Sholmes, that the German agency in the matter is clearly proved. For some reason, which I do not pretend to fathom, German agents supplied these unfortunate men with grammars and dictionaries. Their disappearance followed. In some cases it is possible — I speak as a medical man — that apoplexy may have supervened as a result of speaking too recklessly in German, and the unfortunate victims may have fallen and expired by the wayside. This, however, I admit, would hardly account for two hundred cases."

"Probably not, Jotson. There is no reason why a man of ordinary physical fitness, and with a well-developed larynx, should not speak German for many years, and, indeed, live to a good old age."

"I admit it, Sholmes. For the disappearances I cannot account, but the German agency in the matter appears to me proved beyond the shadow of doubt. Otherwise, why the German grammars, dictionaries, and exercises?"

I was considerably nettled to see Sholmes burst into a hearty laugh.

"My dear Jotson," he said, "you should really apply for a position in the official police."

"You do not, then, agree with my deductions, Sholmes?"

"I fear that I cannot, my dear fellow. You have overlooked the most important point in the case."

"And that?"

"That the victims were in very poor circumstances."

"I do not see how that affects the case."

"Naturally, Yet it is obvious. Allow me to draw your attention to this paragraph in the daily paper, Jotson."

I glanced at the paragraph. It had not, so far as I could see, anything whatever to do with the matter in hand. It gave a description of a concentration camp in which aliens were interned as follows:

"The fitting up of the Jollyboys Hall for interned Germans is now completed. There was some dissatisfaction expressed at first, owing to the lack of marble baths, but this has now been supplied. A seven-course dinner is now provided, the former dinner of five courses having caused discontent. Some ill-natured critics of the administration have found fault with the circumstance that guns and game-licences are supplied to the interned aliens, but we are assured that without these concessions their comfort would not have been complete. We are happy to say that now their only dread is that the war may come to an end, and that they may be sent back to their own country."

I looked at Sholmes in amazement.

"In Heaven's name, Sholmes, what connection has this paragraph, relating to internment camps, with the disappearance of two hundred inhabitants of London in poor circumstances?"

Sholmes did not reply. He yawned, and rose to his feet, and drew his dressing-gown about him. He knocked out the ashes from his pipe absently on the back of my head.

"Would you care for a little run to-day, Jotson?"

"Certainly, my dear Sholmes! But where?"

"To find the two hundred men in poor circumstances who have disappeared," he replied, with a twinkle in his eyes.

"My dear Sholmes——"

"Come!" he said.

We descended to the street. I was lost in amazement. I could not fathom what mysterious clue Herlock Sholmes had discovered, yet it was certain that he was not directed by chance. His deductions were always dictated by a cold, clear logic, and the unravelling of a mystery placed in his hands was a mathematical certainty.

We stepped into a taxi, and sped away through Shaker Street.

Herlock Sholmes sat silent. I asked no questions. For the directions he had given to the driver completed my amazement. It was:

"Jollyboys Hall!"

Chapter 2

Herlock Sholmes did not speak during our journey to Jollyboys Hall. He was examining with care a number of photographs, evidently those of the missing men whose strange disappearance had so startled and mystified the authorities. To a brain like Sholmes; it was nothing to remember every trait in two hundred photographs.

We arrived at Jollyboys Hall.

It was a handsome building, surrounded by sumptuous gardens. The soft strains of a band proceeded from the lofty dining-hall, where the interned aliens were sitting down to the first of the usual seven courses. From the deep woods came occasionally the crack of a gun, showing that the shooting-parties had not yet left all the coverts. The whole scene told of a luxurious comfort that spoke well for the sportsmanlike qualities of the British people, who, in the midst of a great war, could provide for their enemies regardless of expense.

"A happy scene!" said Herlock Sholmes, as we entered the dining-hall. "But I fear, Jotson, that our visit will cast a shadow upon the general bliss."

"But why, Sholmes?"

"I fear, Jotson, that there are some here who are not entitled to share in these luxuries. Duty is sometimes painful, but duty must be done."

Most of the diners glanced at us as we came in. Most of them seemed very contented, though a few were complaining of the soup, which, it appeared, was not a real turtle. The waiters apologised humbly, and assured them that mock-turtle should never be served again at Jollyboys Hall. Sholmes stopped beside one of the diners, who seemed to shrink from his eye, and spoke to him in German:

"Hack, hock!" said Sholmes quietly. "Donnerblitzen sauerkraut. Gug-gug-gooch. Grooh-grooh-grooh!" Sholmes speaks German like a native. "Bub-bub—hack—shack—gerrrrrrgh!"

"Das der dem, ja wohl!" stammered the man. Sholmes smiled.

"I am afraid your German will not pass muster, William Jones," he said. "Leave this establishment at once, and return to your home. You are sharing in a splendour that was never intended for such as you."

I stood rooted to the floor.

Sholmes was busy for an hour or more, and at the end of that time two hundred downcast wretches had been turned from the gates of Jollyboys Hall. Then Sholmes touched me lightly on the arm.

"Come, Jotson!"

We returned to the taxi. As we drove away the merry strains of the band followed us, and hundreds of guttural German voices merrily raised in singing the "Hymn of Hate."

Chapter 3

Sholmes did not speak till we were in our sitting-room at Shaker Street once more, and he had written out his report for the authorities. Then he consented to explain. I was, as usual, on tenterhooks.

"You are surprised, Jotson?"

"I am astounded, Sholmes. You have discovered the hundreds of men in poor circumstances who were missing——"

"Every one, Jotson."

"At Jollyboys Hall?"

"Exactly!" "But how — why — what clue?"

Sholmes laughed.

"The clue was obvious, Jotson. Did I not observe that the most important point in the case was that the missing men were in poor circumstances? That, added to the fact that it was clear that they have been learning German, supplied all the evidence I needed. My dear Jotson, put yourself in their place. As Britishers they might have perished of starvation, but once they had succeeded in passing themselves off as German aliens, they were assured of every comfort and care. I do not defend their conduct, Jotson, but it was a strong temptation. The idea undoubtedly originated with the first man who disappeared — naturally, without leaving a trace behind him, for had the imposition been discovered, he would have been cast out of the lap of luxury, back into the sordid penury of his ordinary existence. But finding himself a happy dweller in the splendours of Jollyboys Hall, every want provided, every wish anticipated, doubtless he decided to let his friends into such a good thing, and they, in turn, communicated the good news to their friends, so that the number of disappearances increased week by week. Had I not been called in, Jotson, the number of pretended German aliens might have run into millions in the long run, and the accommodation of the internment camps strained to breaking point; indeed, it might even have been necessary to cut down the luxuries supplied to the genuine Germans, which would have caused our great State a very real grief. The scheme, however, has been nipped in the bud, owing to my intervention; and the public may rest assured that in future the splendours of Jollyboys Hall will be wholly preserved for genuine Germans."