Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sherlock Holmes & The Strange Case Of The Queensland Stingray part 1

I find it recorded in my diary that it was after the sinister business of Murillo’s papers and The-Conspiracy- To-Murder- Club, that Holmes was to involve himself in one of the strangest cases of his long career.

Lestrade had called unexpectedly at 221B Baker Street bearing with him freshly printed copies of the late edition of the Standard, and even I, who over the long years have tried with scant success to emulate Holmes deductive capabilities could see a glint in the narrow faced police detective's eyes that indicated he felt that he had stumbled upon something that would enable him to be for once the bearer of tidings to Holmes rather than the recipient at Delphi.

‘You recall the chief henchman of the late lamented Professor Moriarty, Holmes,’ he began.

‘Colonel Sebastian Moran, most certainly,’ came Holmes' laconic rejoinder, ’When last I saw him he had passed into police custody following an attempt on my life with an air-gun of novel design, you have come to inform me of his successful recapture?’

Lestrade looked a trifle abashed, the escape of Moran from the High Court Sessions had been a popular scandal the preceding year and the man had, so far as I was aware
gone to ground so effectively that he had completely vanished from the ken not only of the Scotlandyarders, but also of Holmes himself.

‘In the sense that he has come before a greater tribunal than the English bar, I have Holmes,’ he stated flourishing the Standard.

Holmes seized the broadsheet and perused its pages rapidly.

‘Ah, capital. His great physical prowess and lack of fear of the animal kingdom - you will recall my remarking Watson that he once pursued an injured tiger
gone maneater into the drains of Agra to effect a trophy - has apparently conspired to affect an ironic ending. Returning abroad, to no less distant a land
than New Zealand - I confess myself flattered at the leagues he seems to have felt necessary to place between us - he rapidly re-acquired a reputation as a
professional game hunter and handler of animals. He established a small game park and made a living - hm, I had thought the days of bread and circuses over -exhibiting his fearlessness by approaching various crocodiles and alligators and discoursing on their ferocity and so on.’

‘I take it the irony is that one of the brutes dispatched him’ I offered, a little offended at Holmes evident satisfaction at the death of a human creature even one who would have felt no compunction at drilling either of us with his silent air-pellets.

‘Why, no.’ Holmes voice changed and I could detect an additional to its timbre beyond what the Germans term schadenfreude - the pleasure at the misfortune
of an enemy. ‘He was killed while swimming by the sting of a ray. Hm. This casts a different light on the matter. Lestrade I will venture a prediction, within a week we will find reports from the antipodies of stingrays being killed and their stings stripped from them.’

‘God God, Holmes why for heaven sake?’ I remonstrated, ‘Surely not revenge, even our colonial cousins would scarely image that they were likely to have stumbled upon the very beast responsible, or vent their passions so indiscriminately.’

‘Nor,’ ventured Lestrade, ‘can I imagine Moran instilling such blind devotion that his customers and audiences would wish to tear beasts asunder to express
it, however fearless and vital his displays.’

‘I commend your reasoning gentlemen, if what I suspect is correct then not only was Colonel Moran murdered, but I very much fear he will not be the last of the inhabitants of New Zealand to feel the bite of the Stingray’s poison.’

Simon BJ


Tardieu said...

It goes without saying that Holmes is a better man than I. Lestrade, Watson and I share a bafflement as to the motives of these yobbos, despite my being a lifelong, water loving resident of said antipodes and a more than occasional yobbo myself.

Site Owner said...

I would say none of this is intended as a dig at the late Mr Irwin, but the circumstances suggested the title of the Sherlock Holmes story to Paul Ebbs who was kind enough to suggest I write it, and with the title a given the 'fearlessness of animals' aspect of Colonel Moran was too good to miss.

In the story 'yobism' is ruled out as too irrational!! Ah, better days.

Simon BJ