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This parody appeared in the Washington DC Evening Star in 1913. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.




Drawings by H.C. Townsend



THE members of the International Society of Infallible Detectives were assembled in their rooms on Faker-st. It was a very rainy day, and they were hoping against hope that a case worthy of their individual and concerted intellects might be brought to them. At last, as a last resort, Arsène Lupin said in despair to the president:

"Do look out of the window, Holmes! 'Most always when you look out you see a case approaching."

With his somewhat hackneyed, bored shrug, Sherlock Holmes removed his pipe from his finely chiseled countenance and placed it carefully in an embroidered piperack given him by a grateful client, who was light complected and an Episcopalian, and whose missing pearls he had once found. Sauntering to the window, he looked saturninely out into a landscape of perpendicular wetness.

"It's all right," he said drearily. "She's coming. A middle-aged lady, not poor, but somewhat parsimonious, an antisuffragist, and a reader of 'The Ladies' Own Ledger.' She has lost an article of great value."

But Holmes spoke slowly, and Watson had time only to breathe the first syllable of his trite and classical response, when the lady was ushered into the room.


"GOOD afternoon. Gentlemen," she said, sinking into a chair offered her by the blithe Watson.

President Holmes gazed at her, as if reading and translating her secret soul.

Lupin, Dupin, Lecocq, and Vidocq, who had risen, made right-angular French bows, hands at hearts. The Thinking Machine kept his seat and gazed at her from his querulous blue eyes, his chin resting on his folded hands, which in turn rested on his knobbed walking stick, which in turn rested, of course, on the floor.

Luther Trant fidgeted a little, and Raffles smiled like the handsome dog that he was.

"I deduce it is raining," said Holmes, looking sternly at his visitor.

"You knew that before," observed Lupin, with a Gallic leer.

"But I ignored that," declared Holmes, "and I deduced it entirely from the lady's umbrella and rubbers."

"Marvelous, Holmes, marvelous!" exclaimed Watson, thrilled to the uttermost fiber of his appreciation.

"You have lost something, Madam," said Holmes, shaking his saturnine forefinger at her.

"Good land, Sir! how did you know that? Was it in the papers?"

"No. But I'm sure you're not mixed up in a murder case, and there's no other crime except robbery; so I know it's theft. The article you lost is -"

"Oh, Holmes," exclaimed the Thinking Machine querulously, "let the lady herself tell what she has lost! She knows more about it than you do."

"I am not sure of that," returned Holmes dubiously, a grim smile lighting up his dark face; "but go on, Madam, tell us what you do know, or think you know, of the case."

"Well, Sir, you see I am a widow."

"I deduced you were a widow," put in Holmes, "as soon as I saw your wedding ring and your black crape veil."

"Marvelous, Holmes, marvelous!" observed Watson a trifle mechanically.

"You also deduced that she read 'The Ladies' Own Ledger,'" said Vidocq. "Can you prove that?"

Languidly Holmes lifted his weary forefinger and pointed to the jabot at the lady's throat. Too true, it was made of a Turkish washcloth, deftly plaited into shape, and worked in cute little designs with red marking cotton. It had been described in that very month's paper, and they all knew it.

"And how did you know she was antisuffrage?" asked the Thinking Machine.

"So many dinky frills on her petticoat, which I saw flippering about as she crossed the street."

"And that she was parsim -"

But Lecocq's rude speech was stayed by Raffles, who clapped his hands over the speaker's mouth.

"Oh, fiddle strings!" cried Holmes. "If she had on such extravagant lingerie, she could afford a taxi, and as she didn't have one she - she was - walking for her health," he concluded, as the lady stared straight at him.

"My name is Mrs. Plummer," she began, "Mrs. Ezra J. Plummer. But I suppose, Sir, you would have known that too, if I hadn't told you."

"Of course," responded Holmes carelessly. "Go on."

"Well, I've lived alone ever since Ezra died, nineteen years come next June, and I've kept my house and home just as it always was. I ain't great for changing my furniture with every whip around of the fashion. The plush chairs in my parlor are just as good now as the day we bought
'em; two of 'em red and three green and the sofa red. Black ebony frames, they have, picked out with gilt, and a neater parlor suit ain't to be found."

"Charming set of furniture," said Raffles politely.

"Tasty idea that, of red and green alternating. And you've lost those chairs, Madam?"

"No, Sir, burglars don't take chairs. What I've lost is a work of art, the chief ornament of my parlor, my choicest possession. A treasure, indeed!" Mrs. Plummer broke down completely and began to cry.

The four French gentlemen, being of sympathetic and emotional dispositions, wept also. The Thinking Machine wriggled uneasily in his chair.

President Holmes gazed out of the window with neatly folded arms. "A work of art!" he hissed. "Ha, a parallel case to the Mona Lisa! What was it, Madam, a picture, a statue?"

"Ah, how clever you are!" she exclaimed. "You've almost hit it. Try again!"

"A statuette, an antique, a curio, a bronze?" the eager detectives suggested one after another.

"No!" exclaimed Mrs. Plummer. "You'll never guess! It was a Rogers Group."

"Rogers Group! What is that?" asked Lecocq; for the fame of the Great Grouper had never penetrated his benighted land.

"Oh, Sir," exclaimed Mrs. Plummer, "it was one of his choicest designs! It was 'Weighing the Baby,' and - oh, if you could see the old doctor peering through his glasses, and the nurse with her clasped hands, and the infant - ah, the infant! - gone!"

Again she broke down and wept as women will, when babies are concerned. And the four Frenchmen sympathetically and copiously followed her lead.

"Ah, a kidnapping case!" exclaimed Luther Trant; while the Thinking Machine inquired tensely:

"How much did the baby weigh?"

But President Holmes interrupted. "Proceed, Madam, to give us the details of the robbery."


"WELL, Sirs, it was this way. I went out to the Sewing Society this afternoon, and of course I locked the house all up as usual. The Rogers Group was in the parlor, on a marble-topped table with a scarf of garnet plush. Sirs, every parlor window was protected by safety catches, and the front door was tightly locked; indeed, all the windows and doors were securely fastened."

"In a word, that parlor was hermetically sealed!" declared Luther Trant sententiously.

"Ha! Hermetically sealed!" cried Rouletabille. That is all a case needs to make it interesting!"

"I left at two o'clock," went on Mrs. Plummer dramatically, "left at two, and when I returned at four that Rogers Group was gone! Not a vestige of it remained. Gone was the baby and the doctor. Gone the scales and the nurse - gone!"

"Gone! Gone!" echoed Dupin, wringing his hands. He was often overwhelmed by excessive sympathy, as were the other French gentlemen.

"And the house hermetically sealed!" pondered Rouletabille exultantly. "There is no problem so delightful as that! Do you remember in 'The Yellow Room' there -"

"Are there any clues?" asked President Holmes, deliberately cutting short Roly-Poly's reminiscences.

"I don't know, Sir," replied the lady. "I've heard you mustn't touch a body until the Coroner comes; so I supposed it was the same with robbery. So I locked up the house again and hurried over."

"Quite right," returned the saturnine Holmes approvingly. "I'll go there at once. Come, Watson."

Though seemingly ignored, the others grabbed their hats and all burst out of the door at once, in true detective eagerness to be first on the scene.



THE rain had stopped, so the party stepped briskly along the still wet pavements; and then, solemnly unlocking her front door, Mrs. Plummer ushered in the ten men.

"The room! Which is the room?" asked Rouletabille hoarsely; for here was a case in which his very soul delighted.

"Here!" and Mrs. Plummer dramatically threw open the parlor door.

Too true, the bay window where for nineteen years the Rogers Group had proudly stood, was empty. Gone indeed the priceless work of art! Gone the kind old doctor, the proud nurse, and the avoirdupois baby!

"Ha! Footprints!" muttered President Holmes, and in a trice he was down on his knees with magnifying glass, compass, and T-square. But the magnifying glass was not needed; for the footprints were of goodly size. Carefully Holmes laid a diagram to scale, and with the help of some of the others a paper pattern was cut exactly like the footprints and a duplicate
given to each member of the club. From these they were to trace the criminal.

"And we can do it!" said Vidocq assuredly.

"Well," said Mrs. Plummer, as if the words were forced from her by a lashing conscience, "those footprints are mine. When I came in, it was some muddy."

"Why did you not tell us in the first place?" demanded Trant.

"Well, you see, I had on my old shoes, and they always were too big for me, anyway."

"Fine example of the eternal feminine!" commented Trant. "But stay! The miscreant must have left I will photograph this plush chenille cover and these plush chairs in hope of getting his thumbprint."

But the next few moments brought startling results. Dozens of fingerprints were found on the dusty surfaces of brackets and mantel. Then Raffles found a tuft of feathers, doubtless from a lady's boa. The Thinking Machine found a handkerchief marked "G"; Dupin found an old letter, Vidocq an eyeglass case, and Lecocq a glove. Raffles found a gray barret, and Holmes picked up a market list.

"Now, Gentlemen," said the president, "you each have your separate clues. Go your ways, make your deductions, and meet tomorrow at our rooms, where I will show you the robber."

The Infallible Detectives went their ways, secretly incensed at Holmes' arrogance.


THE next day at three o'clock they all trooped back to the rooms of their association, and each brought with him a lady, a citizen of the town.

"Ha!" exclaimed Holmes. "The villain seems to be plural."

"And feminine," added the Thinking Machine, lookinj: askance at the buxom dame he had captured.

"First we must take all their pictures," declared Holmes.

"We expected that," said Mrs. Green, who had been identified by the G on her handkerchief, and was spokeswoman for the party. "We put on our best clothes on purpose. Shall we be in a group, or single?"

The ladies fluttered about in pleasant anticipation of being photographed. The performance over, the detectives questioned their captives, whom they had easily identified by the various clues. Each one declared that she had been in Mrs. Plummer's parlor between two and four o'clock the afternoon previous.

"Then," said Holmes, "do you confess that you purloined Mrs. Plummer's Rogers Group?"

"We do!" exclaimed the ladies in a chorus.

"You admit that you took it with felonious intent, in other words you stole it?"

"We did," declared the ladies unanimously. "And you can't put us in jail for it. because we can prove that we were in the right."

"Prove it," said President Holmes.

"I am the president." began Mrs. Green, "and these ladies are members of our Village Improvement Society. In the interests of our work we are often obliged to remove -"

"Ah. yes," exclaimed Holmes, "I quite understand - quite - quite! Not another word, I beg of you, my dear Madam! All is understood. You ladies are excused, and Mrs. Plummer has no case, no case at all. Good afternoon. Ladies."

"Ah, yes, but stay one moment." said Rouletabille. his eager eyes agog with intense interest. "Please, please, may I ask the solution of the only question that interested me in this case? How did you get into that hermetically sealed house?"

Mrs. Green looked at him pityingly. "Sir," she said, "I took the key out from under the mat, and afterward replaced it."

Washington Evening Star Sunday Magazine, 21 February, 1913

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