The Priory School – Hounds Summary

Ralph Edwards – Fri, 31 Mar 1995

  • Why would the calling card show both M.A. and Ph.D.?
  • Did poor men have bearskin hearthrugs?
  • Who scrambled, rambled, scrammed, and bled?
  • Since liquid drowns the unconscious, why was brandy deemed efficacious in those days (Same question as asked in EMPT)?
  • Why wasn’t Huxtable assisted to rise?
  • How long did the Duke’s affair last?
  • If the Globe had a rumor, why were there no reporters in Mackleton?
  • Isn’t the third floor (second in England) mighty high for a ten-year-old?
  • Why didn’t the Secretary address the envelope?
  • At the Duke’s age wouldn’t the beard be graying?
  • Were police customarily posted at crossroads having no traffic?
  • Wouldn’t kidnappers bypass any inn or police post?
  • What is a sheep path like?
  • Wouldn’t Wilder have had a new, rather than a patched, tire?
  • Why didn’t the biography give Lord Saltire’s first name, Arthur?
  • Was a taste for low company, probably inherited, a typical Victorian ploy?
  • Did midnight seem an early hour for the escape?
  • Why, being so close, did the Duke write instead of visiting?
  • What would the Duke have written about?
  • Was the letter to the Duchess written in the nighttime?
  • Would cow tracks indicate the direction of travel?
  • If the farmers raised cattle and sheep, why were none seen?
  • Were the bicycles high wheel or modern?
  • Could the bicycle have been ridden backwards to disguise the direction of travel?

Chris Redmond – Fri, 21 Jun 1996

The Duke of Holdernesse may well be “one of the greatest subjects of the Crown”, but as a warm human being, he seems to rank with Lord Mount-James of The Missing Three-Quarter. Indeed, few members of the nobility were seen to advantage in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, although we know that hearts, just as brave and fair, may beat in Belgrave Square as in the lowlier air of Seven Dials. Why?

Sonia Fetherston – Thu, 11 Sep 1997

What’s this? Another story about bicycles and abduction?

The Adventure of the Priory School may share some themes with SOLI, but it has a sinister lining all its own! As you read this week’s story, here are my questions and comments to spur your own thoughts:

  • I like the peat-cutter! If you’ve never watched peat being cut, it’s a real art — takes a good eye, careful hands, and a strong knee. He was likely cutting it for home fuel, but the proximity to the Fighting Cock makes me wonder if he didn’t keep a still to supply Reuben Hayes and his customers.
  • Several days after Heidegger vanished, Watson spied dabbled “crimson” blood stains on the yellow blossoms of a gorse bush. Shouldn’t the blood be brown by that time? How long does blood retain its fresh red color?
  • PRIO was first published in Collier’s Weekly (Jan. 1904) with the map that was reproduced in the Doubleday edition. The next month, PRIO appeared in the Strand with a slightly different version of the map — reproduced in the pages of the Oxford edition (and both maps appear in the Oxford footnotes). For those who have both versions: what are the differences? Can you live with them, or do they change your perception of the story in any way?
  • Why did Heidegger climb down the ivy, as opposed to taking the stairs?
  • The Priory School is a gold mine of noms! For new Hounds looking for a nom, this is your week to declare yourself! Just a few that occur to me as I turn the pages: Our Bearskin Hearthrug, The Post Bag, The Patched Dunlop, A Lying Corn-Chandler, A Remarkable Cow, The Rejoicing Lackey, A Self-Evident Villain, A Grimy Lad, A Long Dwindling Beard, and His Milk and Biscuits. Why, there are enough noms to create a whole new scion society; say, the “Pals of the Dook!”

Steve Clarkson – Fri, 27 Nov 1998

The first indication Holmes and Watson had that the game was afoot was when Thorneycroft Huxtable, M.A., Ph.D., etc. visited their rooms at 211B Baker Street and suddenly collapsed on their bearskin hearthrug. After reviving the exhausted Dr. Huxtable and learning about the kidnapping of the only son of the eminent (and wealthy) Duke of Holdernesse, Holmes — upon learning about the £6,000 reward the Duke was offering — agreed to leave two pressing London cases behind and journey to the Peak country of Northern England to investigate.

What started out as the mystifying disappearance of the young Lord Saltire was complicated by the murder of Heidegger, the German master at Dr. Huxtable’s Priory School. Heidegger apparently had seen the young lad leaving the School late at night and had followed…to his death. But at the scene of the brutal murder, there were no incriminating footprints in the soft ground, only the tracks of cows.

In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will summon the Hounds upon a trail that follows bicycle tracks and cow tracks and ends in a shadowy corner of the proud Duke’s family history. There is a twist at the end of the trail that will reveal another, wilier fox behind the entire scheme.

Apropos of earlier posts to the List about Holmes’ familiarity with horses or lack thereof, please note that in PRIO he raised the hind leg of a strange horse to examine its shoe. Wasn’t he at risk of getting kicked? On another tack (sorry, I couldn’t resist), I hypothesize that a few years must have elapsed between Wilder’s birth and his mother’s death in order for him to be able to recall her “pretty ways” to the Duke.

Was Holmes showing unwonted avarice when he put two ongoing cases “on hold” in short order to accompany Dr. Huxtable back to Mackleton, just as soon as he learned that there were rewards totaling £6,000 to be had? And was he evincing cupidity when he rubbed his hands together as he bade the Duke to write out a cheque for the reward, and subsequently patted the cheque fondly as he thrust it deep into his innermost pocket? Such behaviour coming from a man who said, “I play the game for the game’s own sake” seems uncharacteristic.

I have always wondered why a constable would be on duty all night on a road traversing such sparsely settled countryside? I note from Holmes’ map that the constable was apparently stationed at the intersection of a side road with the High Road, but how much traffic would there be in the small hours of the morning?

And would someone please explain how Holmes could know that the bicycle with the patched Dunlop tire was heading away from the Priory School? It seems to me that the rear tire would have passed over the track of the front tire regardless of which way the cyclist was headed.

For the horse fanciers among us, does ::::: equate even roughly with the prints left by a walking horse? Does :.:.:. resemble the tracks of a cantering horse and .*.*.*. those of a galloping horse? And how, if at all, would the special shoes have affected the gait of a horse shod with them?

What kind of ivy would be sturdy enough to sustain the weight of a ten-year-old boy? Obviously, the ivy at Heidegger’s end of the School was not made of such stern stuff.

Once Hayes had been warned by Wilder that the game was up, why did it take so long for him to decide to flee? And Watson noted that the side-lamps of a trap were lit, but Holmes remarked that a lone person made off in a dog-cart. Are traps and dog-carts roughly the same type of vehicle, and do either or both of them have side-lamps?

Lastly, I’d like to hear from the rising young barrister, Holy Peters, the Assizes, or some others of the List’s many legal experts as to whether it would have been possible for the Duke of Holdernesse to break the entail which barred his illegitimate son from inheriting his property.

Discover more about The Priory School and read the canon.