Ralph Edwards – Fri, 14 Oct 1994
- Is this a conjecture and surmise case?
- What points need clearing up?
- What purpose did the cross-indexing serve?
- What is the origin of the name “Paradol”?
- What is an amateur mendicant?
- Was Mary Morstan’s mother living?
- Why did Watson choose to stay at Baker Street rather than sleeping at home?
- When did Lestrade begin stopping in to visit Holmes?
- Was Openshaw near-sighted?
- Can defeats (Holmes) be equated to bafflements (Watson)?
- Were tires really breakable?
- Are colonels usually foul-mouthed?
- How was Openshaw educated?
- What is the inner flap of an envelope?
- Was an 18 year-old a legal witness?
- Why kill without inquiry or search for papers?
- How did Elias’s eccentricity become known?
- Should the advise given by Holmes have been obvious to Openshaw?
- Why didn’t Holmes protect Openshaw?
- What clue did Watson observe on his own?
- Why had Elias kept the papers?
- Where was the one paper between the time of burning and the uncle’s death?
- Why did Holmes intend to visit Horsham?
- What were the comparative speeds of sail and steam?
- Would the mail delivery have preceded the arrest?
- How could Calhoun have traced Elias?
- Why does Baring-Gould refer to Sign of Four footnote #162?
Chris Redmond – Fri, 19 Jan 1996
In this case Holmes encounters a secret society, and comes off distinctly second best. Do other cases also suggest that his forte is investigation of the isolated incident rather than trying to work single-handed against an organization?
Sonia Fetherston – Fri, 11 Apr 1997
“If we could change just one variable in a story, would that story still work? Or would the outcome change? How? And does changing one variable inevitably lead to changes in other variables?”
No fewer than 6 unchronicled cases are mentioned at the beginning of The Five Orange Pips. They are the adventure of the Paradol Chamber, the Amateur Mendicant Society, the loss of the British bark Sophy Anderson, the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons, the Camberwell poisoning case, and the Tankerville Club scandal. These are all success stories for Holmes.
Don’t they serve only to bolster SH’s sagging performance in FIVE? Without them, doesn’t Holmes look even worse in FIVE? Do these unchronicled cases serve any other purpose than to reassure readers that Holmes does often succeed? Finally, without these and other tantalizing unchronicled cases, would we have that mixed blessing: the Sherlockian pastiche?
Steve Clarkson – Fri, 26 Jun 1998
Brace yourselves, Oh Ye True Believers! Our next Adventure can only be classified as one in which Sherlock Holmes was unsuccessful. Why?
Because he didn’t solve the puzzle John Openshaw presented to him? No, Holmes had the answer in the palm of his hand before Mr. Openshaw went back out into the wild, rainy night. It is this which makes the outcome of FIVE even more unpalatable, for Holmes not only neglected to take precautions to safeguard his client’s life, he ultimately was not able to bring Openshaw’s murderers before the bar of justice.
In a few minutes the Comments and Questions will be posted, and the papers will be upon the sundial. We shall see whether the hardy Pack can unravel the winding trail of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Five Orange Pips is an Adventure which leaves many questions unanswered. To be sure, Holmes knew what was afoot once he heard John Openshaw’s strange narrative. His closing advice to young Openshaw was on target, if inadequate given the danger that threatened. Nonetheless, there remain questions that beg to be discussed.
John Openshaw describes his uncle Elias as being “…fierce and quick-tempered…and of a most retiring disposition. During all the years that he lived at Horsham, I doubt if ever he set foot in the town.” He later said of his uncle, “…he would see no society and did not want any friends, even his own brother.” How, then, did Elias know of a lawyer named Fordham when he wanted a will drawn up? Would Fordham have been a barrister or a solicitor?
One of the more difficult ways for a person to commit suicide is by drowning himself. Elias Openshaw had a revolver with him when he went out on his drunken forays; why did he not shoot himself if suicide was his intention? Was a verdict of “suicide” indicated under the circumstances described, or would a finding of “accidental death” have been more likely and appropriate?
How did Elias come into possession of the all-important papers? They appear to have been nothing less than the clandestine acta of the murderous Ku Klux Klan, based on the one surviving sample of the contents of the brass box. How would the destruction of such records “checkmate” his enemies? And his estate of £14,000 was a considerable amount of money in those days, roughly equal to $70,000 in 1893 and worth close to 1,400,000 1990 dollars. Although Elias Openshaw owned a Florida plantation, he no doubt got less than top money for it, if he got anything at all, when he rather abruptly moved back to England. How did he accumulate so sizeable a fortune in a wrecked economy?
In describing the residue of his uncle’s estate, John Openshaw said that some of the papers found in the locked lumber-room “…were of a date during the reconstruction of the Southern states, and were mostly concerned with politics, for he had evidently taken a strong part in opposing the carpet-bag politicians who had been sent down from the North.” It was always my impression that the vast majority of the voters in the Confederate states had been disenfranchised by a vengeful Congress, and that Northern opportunists came to the South to run for office and thus take advantage of the helpless people. Was it the case that “carpet-baggers” were deliberately sent to the South for that purpose and, if so, by whom?
Odds and Ends: We can imagine what an Amateur Mendicant Society might be (with Hugh Boone as a prominent member), but what might be a Paradol Chamber? Ken and Barbie in a room? Also, the message from the KKK was always the same: “Put the papers on the sundial.” But although Elias Openshaw could have been expected to know which papers were wanted, how could the KKK expect either of the remaining Openshaws to know which of all the many papers in the lumber-room were the ones desired?