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This parody appeared in the Columbia University Missourian in 1911. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.

The Return of Herlock Sholmes

The Case of the Missing Name Plates

By A. Donan Coyle

"They say that I am a candidate for the 'can't come back club,' Watson," said my friend Herlock Sholmes, as we sat one night in our lodgings In Caker street. The night was cold and damp. Outside the streets glistened from the recent deluge. Now and then fitful spatterings of rain could be heard on the roof. Considering
the night, my friend was in an unusually talkative mood. He was nervous and excited, however, and I suspected that he had secretly taken an injection of the hated drug that had such a hold on him.

"My health has been such as not to permit me to handle any cases recently," Sholmes continued. "There have been many that have interested me Immensely, however. Just today I received a note from a woman who is evidently in some great distress. The case interests me, and I am almost tempted to do what I can for her. See what you make of this," and he passed the note to me.

It was written in a girlish hand on paper of fine texture. It was evidently written in a hurry. It was unusuallv appealing.

"Dear Mr. Sholmes," the note ran, "I am in great trouble. Won't you help me? I do not want to give the case to the Mitchell Yard force. I want to keep it as quiet as possible; so I make this appeal to you. Yours truly, Lady Betty Phipps."

That was all the note said.

"Well," said Sholmes, "what do you think of it, Watson?"

"The writer was evidently laboring under some mental strain," I replied, trying to make something out of the written words.

"You are right there," he replied. "And I have written to the author to come here and explain her case to me. And if I am not mistaken there she is now," he said, as a step sounded on the stairs outside our lodgings. A knock sounded hesitatingly on our door. At the invitation to come in, the door opened slowly, and a woman of unusual beauty entered and closed the door behind her.

"This Is Mr. Sholmes?" she said to my friend, as he arose to greet her.

"Yes," he replied. "This is my friend, Watson. You are Lady Betty Phipps, I presume?"

"I am," she answered in a low tone. "I came to see you on a very strange matter. I would rather that we talked alone." I rose to go, but Sholmes assured her that she could speak frankly before me.

"I live," she began, after being reassured that she need not mind my presence, "in Strike street in the south part of the city. As you may know, we have a crest on our door consisting of three Greek letters. This crest has been handed down in the family many years, and It has always been highly prized as an heirloom. Two nights ago someone stole this nameplate from the door of our house, and since that time we have heard nothing of It. I do not know why anyone should want to steal it. It had no especial value. It was made of brass on wood."

"You suspect no one?" Sholmes inquired, meditatively.

"Not a soul. It would be of no value to anyone outside our immediate famiily."

"You say tho crest consisted of three Greek letters?"

"Yes, the letters Pi Beta Phi. It was an old crest that we have used many years. I myself don't know what it signifies. It is some motto that one of our ancestors used."

"Interesting, and very mysterious," muttered Sholmes. "You have aroused my interest to a great degree. I think we will have some difficulty in finding the culprit. The very simplicity of the case makes it doubly difficult"

Lady Betty, after the assurance of my friend that he would do what he could to recover the crest? left.

"What do you think about it, Watson?" he asked, after Lady Betty had gone.

"I see nothing to it," I replied. "The crest is gone, and that settles it. I can't see what anyone would want with that old relic of aristocracy."

"But you don't get the point," he said, "The crest was evidently stolen at night"

"Sholmes," I cried. "I don't see how you get that from what Lady Betty told us."

"Very simple. You see, the thie,. or whatever he was, would come at night to avoid being seen, and while the inmates of the house were out at some social function."

"marvellous," I muttered, amazed at the acumen of my great friend. "But what does that signify," I inquired.

Sholmes said nothing; he seemed buried in thought. I retired in a short while and soon forgot about the case. In the middle of the night I was awakened suddenly by a noise In the next room. I got up and saw my friend playing the old violin that he always used when working out an especially abstruse puzzle.

"Come on to bed, Herlock," I said. Don't keep me awake all night." But he said nothing. When I got up in the morning Sholmes was gone. I found a note on the table which read as follows:

"Dear Watson: Go to Balrd's manual and find out all you can about Greek letter organizations. Also look up the psychology of the bootblack."

I went to the library and spent most of the morning reading volumes on these two subjects. But I saw nothing that could possibly aid us in this case. I rarely questioned my friends methods, however, and went on about my work. I returned to our rooms that night and found Sholmes sitting before the fireplace playing his fiddle and smoking the inevitable pipe.

"Did you find anything," he Inquired as soon as I entered the room.

"I got a lot of junk on those things you said to look up, but I saw nothing that could possibly have any bearing on our case."

"We will see about that later. In the meantime get me something to eat and be prepared for a dangerous night's work," he said, dismissing me.

"You can't be on the track of the person who stole the nameplates already?" I cried In amazement. He only smiled in that enigmatic way of his, and I went to the dining room.

When I returned I found Sholmes in a raincoat He was just thrusting a pistol into one of the pockets of the coat

"Put on your coat, and don't forget your pistol," he said. I got my coat and pistol, and we went forth into the night. It was drizzling dismally. The streets were deserted. Hailing a four-wheeler, Sholmes gave the driver some direction that I did not understand and climbed into the cab. We drove over paved streets for some time, and finally hit a dirt road. We could hear the horses' feet sloshing in the mud. We finally stopped under a street light, and I turned to speak to Sholmes. But I cried oat in amazement instead. For sitting next to me was a disreputable looking fellow, who had the appearance of a bohunk section hand. The person put up his hand for silence.

"Hush, Watson, you fool," the person said. "This is Sholmes."

"The disguise is perfect," I said.

"How do you know what I mean to represent," he Inquired.

"I don't" I said. "But in the stories the disguise must always be perfect."

We descended from the cab. Sholmes went into a dark open lot, and began to make his way cautiously across it Presently a light shone through the trees, and we came upon a little hut. We crept close to this and hid under the window.

"You wait here. I am going inside," Sholmes whispered. "If I don't come out in ten minutes, come in after me."

He then went around to the front of the cabin, pushed open the door and went in. I heard no sound come from the hut and I wondered what sort of a place he had blundered into.

After waiting nine minutes for my friend, I went in after him. I saw him kneeling in the middle of the floor In a bare room with only a table with a lamp on It and a small pallet in one corner for furniture.

"Aha! Shoe polish!" he was muttering as I pushed open the door. He carefully picked some specks from the floor, and put them into an envelope. Feeling my presence he whirled quickly, the pistol in his hand.

"My, you gave me a turn," he cried. "Is my ten minutes up?"

"It Is."

"Let us be gone, then."

When we got back to our room, Sholmes went to his desk and wrote two letters. He rang for a messenger and told him to deliver them to the mail box. Without a word about our expedition, he went to bed.

He had left when I got up, and was gone all day. That night we were sitting before the fireplace. Sholmes had said nothing about the matter since his return.

"Well, Watson, I think our little case of the missing nameplate is about explained."

A foot sounded on the stair. Sholmes went to the door, and a small man, evidently a Greek, came in. He had a package under his arm.

"Have you got it?" Sholmes immediately inquired. The man nodded his
head. Sholmes took the package and unwrapped it On the table lay a large
piece of wood with three Greek letters in brass on it

"The first thing I did after getting the details of the case from Lady Betty was to get a motive for the theft. That is the first thing to do, you know, Watson, in working out a mystery," said Sholmes, after the Greek had left, explaining the case to me. "I went to the library and got out a Greek dictionary and put down all the words that these letters could stand for. I finally hit upon the combination that I thought would explain the mystery. I then went to the directory and looked up those persons whom I thought could be connected with the case. We took the excursion that you remember, and there I found some shoe blacking. That gave me the clue I wanted. After returning home I wrote to the man living there and told him to bring back the nameplate that he stole from the house. I took a long shot on it. As you see by the article there, I hit it right. So the next thing to do is to return the nameplate to Lady Betty, and the case is ended, and you can collect your data in your notebook."

"But Sholmes," I cried, "what were the three words that the Greek letters stood for?"

"SHOES SHINED HERE," replied Sholmes, and went Into his room to bed.

University Missourian, 21 February, 1911

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