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This parody appeared in the Northampton Mercury in 1901. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.


One winter’s morning, a few years after my marriage, I was lying by my hearth, smoking a red herring, and nodding over the Encyclopedia Britannica, for my day’s work had been a hard one. Since first meeting Shylock Combs, my practice as a doctor had, as a matter of course, rapidly declined.

My presentation clock had chimed 4.47 a.m., and I heard the clang of my front door speaking tube. Thinking it must be the milkman I went into the hall, opened the door, and, to my astonishment, Shylock Combs stood upon my step.

“Ah, Potson,” he said; “I hoped I should not be too early to catch you. I perceive the wind has changed round to N.N.E. by S.W. again.”

I was astounded, as he had not had time to observe the thermometer in my bedroom.

He noticed my amazement and smiled that wonderful smile of his.

“Elementary, my dear Potson.” He said; “I observed the left-hand side of your moustache inclined about 47 5/8 degrees towards the west, and coming as I did from Butcher-street, I at once deduced from which quarter the wind was blowing.”

I was about to make one of my usual remarks when he placed his fingers on his lips and strode into my sitting-room. Naturally, I followed.

He threw  himself into my easy chair, took his corncob pipe out of his pocket, and filling it with snuff, smoked for some hours in silence.

“Potson,” at length he said. “Can you spare a few weeks of your valuable time to assist me in unraveling a most interesting little problem?”

I replied that I thought I could, as it was my busy time, and I knew my friend Dr. Phillipson would look after my one patient during my absence.

“Very good,” he replied, “meet me at Waterloo Station at 10.30 in the morning and do not forget to bring your Gatling gun with you.”

He rose from my chair, and as he was leaving the room said to me, “I am pleased to see that you have recovered from your recent indisposition. You are looking quite yourself again.”

I was completely taken aback, as I had not seen my friend for at least eight months.

“Why, however did you know?” I commenced. Once more that curious smile passed over his face.

“Very simple,” he replied, putting on my best silk hat. “I observed a box of Charles Forde’s Bile Beans for Biliousness on your sideboard as I was leaving. Good morning.”

Northampton Mercury, 15 Nov 1901


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