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This parody appeared in the Indianapolis Journal in 1895. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.


(Translated from the Anglican of Dr. Conandoyle by J. V. Ochiltree.)

One fine June evening I was sitting on my front veranda, smoking Admiral cubebs and thinking about Sherlock Holmes. I had not seen him for more than a week, but had received a note from him the day before containing a bit of characteristic information. It ran as follows:

"My Dear Watson - Eureka! I have evaporated an Infusion of bruised glykys rhiza, and obtained an inspissitated juice which must one day become a valuable articie of commerce. It Is, Indeed, already a favorite confectionery in the peninsular portion of Spain. My discovery was purely incidental and In the line of my professional work. The present end accomplished is the vindication of an honest sailor from a suspicion of burglary and robbery; but that Is a bagatelle compared with the value of the glabra product as a marketable commodity.
P. S. I am in a little trouble and may call to see you soon. S. H.

It was about 9 o'clock. My wife had retired, and I was cogitating this rather puzzllng letter, when Holmes walked In at the front gate. He came forward somewhat hastily, as if on a special errand. I rose to greet him. He grasped my hand nervously - more so than he had ever done before and said:

"Watson, I'm in a hole."

I felt relieved for the moment. Sherlock Holmes was not the man to use American slang if he was in real trouble, I thought.

"I mean It," he said, with some petulance in his tone, for his keen eyes had taken note of my change of expression. "Look here," he went on, when we were both seated; "I have been working on a case for two days and nights without results to speak of, and am about ready to drop it as beyond even my depth."

And he settled back in his chair - a genuine calamus rocker - in a limp sort of way and closed his eyes, as If not caring to pursue the disagreeable subject further.

After a minute or two of silence I said:

"Would you mind giving me some idea of the case?"

He partially aroused himself and looked at me with a half-quizzical grin.

"What's the use?" he said, languidly closing his eyes again; "you can't help me - of course?"

The last phrase was spoken in a tone that nettled me.

"I have no such presumptious ambition," I returned, a little testily. "But it is certainly natural that I should be interested, at least, in a case that has baffled you."

Holmes quickly arose from his seat and advanced to me, offering his hand.

"I beg your pardon, old frlend," he said, with his usual warmth. "I hardly knew what I was saying. Why, I called this evening for the express purpose of making you my confessor."

I accepted his proffered hand and squeezed it cordially. He then resumed his chair.

"Yes," he continued, "I shall tell you all about it - that is, all I know about it, which, I am sorry to say, is d--d little."

He paused and I offered him a cigarette.

"No, thank you," he said; "I prefer this." And he produced a small bottle containing a crystalline liquid, and a hypodermic syringe, which he proceeded to use, first removing his celluloid dicky.

Having adjusted himself, Sherlock Holmes brightened up - evidently under the influence of the alkaloid and began his story,

"Last Monday night - I think about this hour - a rude knock at my door made me spill some nitric acid on my hand, causing me to swear with unusual energy and volubility. I opened the door, intending to ask the intruder why the devil he hadn't pressed the bell, when a heavy-built, powerful man unceremoniously strode in, almost knocking me over as he pushed past me.

"He had no coat on, and his coarse shirt and trousers showed him to be a tradesman of the rougher sort. I closed the door and told him to be seated while I dressed my hand.

"He obeyed, asking me gruffly how I hurt It. Not caring to take the chance of having to deliver a disquisition on the virulence of certain acidiferous chemicals, I told him it was an old sore. When I had wrapped the wound in sulphate of soda I took a seat opposite him and asked him how the meat business was flourishing in Piccadilly.

"The man elevated his shaggy eyebrows and demanded to know ''ow the deuce I got him and his business and location down so fine,' I pointed out his seventeenth century collar, the clotted blood under his finger nails, the abnormal protuberances in his skull at the top of his ears, and mentioned the unconsciously vulgar and brutal way he had in shouldering past his betters, as If he were in the shambles selecting a bullock for his ax.

"The butcher looked at his nails, but gave no further sign of appreciation. When I was done speaking he said:

" 'I guess you're the cove I wants.'

"He then detailed In his coventry dialect how 'sum-un' had broken open his till three alternate nights In the same week, the first time securing a pound and six pence, the second night three shillings, and the last time nothing, because the drawer was empty. The last two nights of the till-tapping he had watched for the burglar, but had seen no one in the shop. Yet the work was done, or attempted, just the same.

"The doors and windows - two of each - were at no time disturbed. Each time the till had been pried open with the butcher's own cleaver, that instrument being always found on the counter in the near vicinity of the disturbed drawer.

"I questioned him closely, and ascertained that his shop was connected with his dwelling, the only inmates of which were his wife and daughter and a boy who helped him about the shop. The latter slept in a room above the kitchen, in the rear part of the house, and could only enter it by going through the bedroom used by the butcher and his wife. He said he considered the lad as much above suspicion as any of his own family.

"The affair had assumed a look of mystery that was beginning to work on the illiterate fellow's superstition. I asked him whether he had ever fallen asleep while watching. He replied that he had once or twice the first night, but remained wide awake all of the last night, and had at no time heard or seen anything that startled him. Yet in the morning he found the till open and the cleaver lying near it. This was the 'off night,' he said, and he asked me if I would come to his place the next night and keep watch with him. I promised to do so, and he took his leave.

"The following night - that Is, night before last - I found my way to the butcher's market about 10 o'clock, which was the tradesman's hour for closing. I took with me two revolvers and a copy of Tupper's "Proverbial Philosophy." The latter I expected to utilize in keeping myself wakeful. This may sound paradoxical, but it is a fact of experience that the best way to drive off drowsiness is to get mad. I find Tupper indispensable as a stimulant to fighting moods. Ten of his incoherent Alexandrines will put me in a humor to fight the devil.

"I sometimes vary the dose, however, with a copy of Robert Browning or Walt Whitman. There Is another American writer whose 'Altrurian Travels' and 'Literary Passions' are also capital inducers of insomnia furioso.

"Well. I read till sleep was out of the question, and consequently was in a fine mood to quarrel with the butcher when I caught him nodding. After midnight it was awfully hard to keep him awake. Half a dozen times I interrupted his snoring by injecting broken doses of Tupper into his ear, and finally aroused him completely by throwing the book at his head. This cured him. but It came near costing me a thumping.

"At last morning came and we went together to look at the money drawer, in which the butcher at my suggestion had left a couple of shillings. Imagine my amazement at finding the till broken open, the money gone and the cleaver on the counter. We examined the doors and windows and found them securely fastened. We then searched every nook and cranny in the apartment, but found no one concealed. I suggested the possibility of a trap-door, but a minute Inspection of the walls and floor revealed nothing to justify the theory.

"I carefully noted the immediate surroundings of the broken till, and collected, as possible clews, a bit of blank note paper, a horseshoe nail and a quantity of floor rubbish, including a large masticated quid of tobacco. These articles I took with me, promising the butcher to give him a report of my investigations in a day or two.

"I have tried to connect some of them with the robbery, but for the life of me I can't do it. I subjected the tobacco quid to a crucial analysis, and found that it had been dropped there by a sailor of the marine service at least two days before the first burglary. So you see my dilemma. Do you blame me for thinking seriously of joining the Paresis Club?"

I agreed with Holmes that the case was a knotty one. He continued restless, and ten minutes later arose to go. Finding that I could not prevail upon him to remain longer I accompanied him to the gate. As we walked along I ventured to ask him whether he would take any further steps in the matter.

"I sent Jones around to-night," said Holmes. "I told him the case was a rather interesting one, but that I was too busy to attend to it. I am anxious to see how he will come out. Of course, I must make a show of doing something, but if Jones fails, I think I'll throw up the whole business and take a trip to Carlsbad."

"One thing more," I said. "I would like to know how on earth you reached the conclusion that the tobacco quid was dropped by a marine sailor, and how you found that it had lain there some days before the first burglary."

"Oh, I got onto that dead easy," drawled Holmes, again dropping into Yankee vernacular. "I knew that the masticator of that quid was a sailor because he chewed navy tobacco, and I found the bolus under an old broom, which the butcher assured me at the time had not been used for at least ten days. And, by the way, it was from that same quid that I extracted the glykys rhiza juice mentioned in my note to you."

"Pardon my ignorance, Holmes," I said, "but I don't believe I am familiar with that substance."

"Well," he said, with a hesitating air, "I guess I overshot myself a little In that matter, too. I find that the article is in common use In England and America, and is a favorite adulterant in both countries in the manufacture of tobacco. The popular name of the glykys rhiza is licorice root. Good night."

And Sherlock Holmes walked briskly away in the direction of his lodgings.

I called to see him the next day and found him absent. In an interview with his janitor I learned that Holmes had not been out of his room until the evening before for seven or eight days, and that he had been acting strangely of late, pacing the floor and muttering something about an imaginary robbery in Piccadilly.

The sequel, the denouement and the moral of this story are contained In a single word - cocaine!

Indianapolis Journal, 14 April 1895

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