Click on these links for publication details of editions used for indexing:

short stories | novels | children's stories

This parody appeared in the Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review in 1916. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.




Author of " A Curious Situation," Etc.


The Sensation in the Burgh.

What a hubbub in Seatown there was! It began in the Provost's household, and a few hours afterwards was gyrating through the whole length and breadth of the burgh - for news travels like a gale in Seatown. And what was it all about? Ah! a serious enough matter I assure you. The Provost had lost his brawn new chain of office. Time was when the Scottish Provosts had no such magnificent adornment, and one day in that distant period a benighted Englishman wandered into a lowland burgh.

"Could you direct me to the Mayor's house?" he inquired of a passer by.


"The' Mayor." repeated the Englishman, impatiently. "The chief man in your town, you know"

"Oh ! you'll be meanin' the Provost?"

"The Provost?" quoth the puzzled southerner. "Does he wear a chain?"

"Na," said the burgh loon, wondering in his turn. " No' him. He gangs louse."

That was in the long ago. Intercourse with the South has brought in the vanities of the South, and no Provost worthy of his name now but must have his chain like an English Mayor, and, sure enough, by and bye the Provost's wife will be ettling forward to get an equal share in the honours. She will scheme for a brooch at the very least, and that dearest of all things to a married woman's heart - a title that will raise her a peg higher than her neighbours. And she'll get it. A woman is bound to get all she wants and often a lot more in this most miraculous of worlds.

But what about the Provost of Seatown's chain! Where had it got to? It was a most calamitous thing to have happened in such a God-fearing burgh. It was stolen. There was no doubt about that, and by someone belonging to Seatown. What a blot on the place where stealing had never been known to occur before. But the Chief Constable knew human nature in other districts, and he declared the chain to have been stolen, and drew out an elaborate list of those open to suspicion.

The Provost's servant was ticked off specially, and a policeman was sent to break open her box. This he accomplished most efficiently, smashing the lid in four places, and receiving himself an artistic smash in one place just on the tip of the nose from the enraged woman. This result at any rate brought forth one arrest, the poor maid being set down for trial for damaging and insulting the majesty of the law. But no chain was found in her box. It was, however, found next day in the desk Wattie Pendriver worked at.


The Chain - and How it Came Back.

The gold chain of office that the row was all about was really a precious article. It had a material value as well as a sentimental one. If accepted by the pawnbroker the needy thief could have raised a full guinea on it. It was gold gilt throughout, and cost after being made to order no less a sum than seven pounds ten shillings sterling. I know, because Gobby Mainspring, who had the job, told me. Gobby is a prominent watchmaker in the burgh, and also a noted tinsmith and patent medicine vendor, etc., therein. Well, Gobby made it, and put his whole heart and mind into the job. He was very careful about spreading the gold over the beautiful sheet iron foundation of the structure, getting it laid on as evenly and as thinly as possible.

And the cost of the chain was subscribed for by the general public, so you can understand how concerned everyone was about Its loss. Bailie Duds himself subscribed half a crown for it; he had hopes of being its second wearer; and a stranger lad who had come in for a week's golf had been mightily persuaded and coerced to yield up five shillings to the fund. Nearly every other body in the place gave at least a penny. The total cash raised for such a laudable purpose and in such a laudable way was fifty pounds odds, which, after the salary of the treasurer, who was one of the most honest and respected lawyers of the town, was deducted, left the handsome sum of seven pounds ten as aforesaid for the chain.

The very same hour its loss was conceived the Provost summoned to his aid the head of the police force in the renowned burgh and the Academy rector - the one had experience and the other learning, so the combination was good enough. But the mystery was so deep that for the first day the only advance made was the smashing up of the servant lass's trunk.

Late in the afternoon of the next day, however, the missing article was discovered, as I have already indicated, in Wattie Pendriver's desk. It had been neatly tucked away in one of the drawers thereof—a drawer that normally only required looking into once in every six months, to wit, on the term day. And it was Wattle Pendriver who found it himself, and carried it straight away, with a white face, to the Provost, the Chief Constable, and the rector, who were together energetically debating the question of the hour.

"Ah, ha!" exclaimed the Chief of Police, taking the chain out of Wattie's trembling hand and surveying him meanwhile with all the terrifying sternness characteristic of the force of which he was the able head, "So it's you."

"Y -es, sir," stammered poor Wattie.

"You will observe, gentlemen," said the Chief Constable, turning to the others, "that I have Walter Pendriver's name down on that list of suspected persons."

"Yes," cried the excited Provost, "but you have everyone's name down who lives in the house or who was near the house any day since the last Council meeting."

"I beg your pardon, Provost Smawares," replied the head policeman severely, "I haven't your own name down."

"No, but you've got the parish minister's and the doctor's."

"Well, and why not?"

"God bless my soul."

"Hush, my dear Provost," chimed in the rector beseechingly; "don't swear, my dear sir."

"Am no' swearin'," came from the Provost fiecely, lapsing into his native Doric.

"I did not put your name down," resumed the Chief Constable, "because I did not conceive that you would steal the chain of your office."

"Daur you to say I did," challenged the excited dignitary.

"I said that such a thing would be impossible," returned the head of the police. "And now, Walter Pendriver," addressing the astounded and quaking clerk, "we will hear your confession. But remember," solemnly, "whatever you say will be used in evidence against you."

"D - do you think I stealt the chain?" demanded the gaping Wattie.

The Chief Constable nodded with all a fiscal's stiffness of authority.

"Then you're a blethrin' idiot," quoth Walter hotly.

" I have made a note of your insulting language," said the Chief Constable, lifting his pen from the note-book he held after a brief interval. "Now let me advise you just to tell us plainly, without any more outrageous language, about this chain."

Wattie glared at the examiner for a little before he answered. Then, with a bit of a laugh - he was regaining his composure now -

"It's all very simple," said he. "The mistress told me to look in every hole and corner of the office, and I looked."

"And found the chain in your desk," said the Chief Constable severely.


"Just so," said the officer, standing up and laying his hand on Wattie's shoulder. "Then I charge you, now, with stealing the Provost's chain, the property of the burgh of Seatown and you will come with me at once to the office."

"Hooly, hooly," cried the Provost intervening, "Wattie's nae thief. That's a' havers."

"Provost Smawares," said the officer, with every ounce of his dignity reflected in his voice and manner, "you will not interfere with me in the execution of my duties."

So poor Wattie, despite all his protests, was lodged that night in one of two cells that constituted the prison of Seatown.


Enter Sherlock Holmes.

At this juncture Emily Smawares - the Provost's youngest daughter - discovered she was really in love with Walter Pendriver. She had turned up her pretty Scotch nose at him, and discouraged and, at rare intervals, favoured him, tantalising him generally whenever she had the chance; but now that he was in real trouble she knew that she loved him, and as a consequence became very energetic on his behalf. But all her rampant efforts proved unavailing, and one day, a few days after his arrest, she betook herself to the Links to have a good cry in solitude.

And it was while she was weeping bitterly in one of the big bunkers there that Sherlock Holmes, Esq., came in her way with a golf stick in his hand. He thought his ball had struck her, and his thought led to polite inquiries, and the inquiries to regular conversation between them. He told her who he was, and she implored his help.

Now Sherlock has always had a soft heart to the women, and he could not refuse her request.

"Cheer up." he said, "I'll have him out in a day or two whether he stole the chain or not."

"But he didn't steal it," she cried indignantly through her tears.

"Of course not," he responded soothingly. "They never do. But cheer up all the same. I'll go back with you and call on the President of the Burns Club."

"What has he got to do with it?" she asked, with her eyes at their widest.

"Ah! my dear," he replied, "that is one of the perfections of my art. I always find out most by interviewing people who couldn't possibly have anything to do with it. Come along, and trust to me giving you back your lover in time, shall we say, for dinner this evening."

Emily blushed furiously.

"I am his sincere wellwisher," she explained. "But we don't have any dinner in the evening," she added. "we get our dinner at one o'clock in the afternoon."

"Dear me! dear me!" he ejaculated. "Why that's the time I take my breakfast. Well, we'll say supper time then. You'll have him back in time for his evening gruel."


Exit the Great Sherlock with the Mystery Solved.

Behold now the great Sherlock Holmes and his everlasting crony, Dr Watson, who sticks closer to Holmes than ever now that he is married, and the Academy Rector, the Provost, the President of the Burns Club, and lastly, though by no manner of means leastly, the Chief Constable. It is that deep one, Sherlock, who does most of the talking.

"Who stole the chain?" he was demanding of the officer.

"I have already told you," answered the latter with emphasis. "Undoubtedly Walter Pendriver."

"Your reasons, please?" asked Holmes.

"They are many," replied the Chief Constable, "but if I give two these will be amply sufficient. First, then, the chain was found in Walter Pendriver's possession; and, second, one of his uncles served a term for stealing doormats; note further on in the race his youthful relative aspires to the appropriation of gold-gilt goods."

"Most extraordinary," remarked Holmes. "You believe in heredity?"

"All men of first-class Intelligence do."

"What a pack of blank scoundrels we must all be then," said the famous detective. "But possibly you're right."

The Chief Constable smiled all over at this admission.

"Now, while we sample the Provost's excellent whisky," resumed Holmes, "I vote we talk on lighter matters. We will return for a moment - only for a moment - afterwards to our interesting case, which the Chief Constable appears to have unravelled so adroitly. Well, then, Mr President, tell us how you get on with a Burns night festival."

"I'll give you an account of our last one," the President agreed, "but it'll be stale talk for these others, for they were both there."

"Did the meeting break up in a solemnly sober fashion?" asked Holmes.

The President took a hearty laugh, and his fellow townsmen grinned.

"My dear sir," said the former, "at a Burns Club festival those who are not wholesomely intoxicated are at least half seas over."

"I see," remarked Holmes. "And this great festival was held —?"

"Just a month ago," replied the President. "The Provost there had worn his chain but once, and was very anxious to hit on a safe place to keep it in."

"Look, was that a flash of lightning?" cried out Holmes with startling suddenness, and while the others were gazing window-wards he cunningly slipped a white tablet into the Provost's tumbler of whisky.

"Ah, I must have been mistaken," he added. "Well, let us drink up and have one, and only one, round more," he suggested, a suggestion which the others were nothing loth to adopt.

A curious effect on the Provost followed the drinking of his liquor. He became dazed and unconscious of the presence of either Holmes or the Chief Constable. He only saw and talked to the President, who had shifted his chair close up to him. They talked together about the chain.

Where will I keep it for safety?" the Provost was ever and anon remarking with evident anxiety. " There's been so many robberies lately; they'll be breaking into my house next."

"Put it in the bank," suggested the President.

"Na, I ken o' a better place than that," declared the Provost after a little. He chuckled and rose from his seat.

"I'll be gettin' hame now, " he said. " Guidnicht," and forthwith he walked out of the room with the chain, which had been lying on the table, in his hand.

"Let us follow him," said Holmes. " You get to the rear, President. You're the only one he's conscious of."

"He may go out into the street," said the perturbed Academy Rector.

"Not him," answered Holmes. "He'll stick to his own house here."

They found him in the passage, walking to and fro. Then he stopped, and went downstairs, down to the ground floor where his place of business was. He made straight for the back place where he kept his trading books, and where his clerk worked. He passed his own desk and went right up to Wattie's. This he opened with a key from a bunch that hetook from his pocket.

"The very place," he said to himself, with a chuckle. "The thieves will never think of looking here for't, and Wattle himsel' winna be in this drawer for months tae come yet." Then he locked up the desk, leaving the chain therein, and walked upstairs again to the top of the house to his own bedroom. They left him there methodically removing his clothes preparatory to getting himself in between the blankets.

Ere Holmes left the house with the others he requested a short interview with Mrs Smawares, to whom he gave a judicially condensed and arranged account of the affair.

"And will you," said he, as he was taking his final leave, "arrange to have a bit of supper ready for Walter?"

"Oh! aye, of course. Puir Wattie," she responded. " We'll have to make it up to him someway."

"Let him marry your daughter Emily," suggested the daring detective.

"Oh! he'll be doing that," said the un-astonished guidwife. " but in the meantime I'll get Emily to run out for a pond o' the best sausages. He's terrible fond o' sausages is Wattie."

Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review, 25 Feb 1916


Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (

found at