Wisteria Lodge – Hounds Summary

Ralph Edwards – Fri, 8 Apr 1994

  • Does “being of a social turn” suggest “no charm in the man”?
  • Is there a difference between “within two days” and “the next day”?
  • How does one light an endless cigarette?
  • When did Holmes write his telegram to Allan Brothers?
  • Why did Garcia travel alone? Why didn’t he take his revolver?
  • Why a cold and melancholy walk at Esher rather than take a trap?
  • Isn’t “Hynes Hynes” an even more unusual name than “Nathan Garrideb”?
  • When would Henderson encounter folks closely enough to lash at?
  • Should Henderson and/or Lopez have noticed that they were being followed by both Warner and a plain-clothes man? How did the followers both keep up with the carriage?
  • Do stout, puffy, red men climb trees?
  • Were the children also staying at the Hotel Escurial in Madrid?
  • Why could Miss Brunett not kill Henderson more readily than Garcia?
  • Wouldn’t this case have been solved without Holmes’s involvement? Are there any other such cases in the Canon?

Chris Redmond – Fri, 20 Sep 1996

In an award-winning article about Wisteria Lodge, Edward F. Clark observed that the story is poorly understood because, among other things, “we don’t read it very often” compared to the more famous and popular stories in the Canon. Are some stories, in fact, read more often than others? And if this is one of the more often neglected ones, why?

Sonia Fetherston – Fri, 12 Dec 1997

Talk about your disaster dinner parties: The host’s mind wandered, the conversation failed, the food was bad, the servant was a regular Lurch – what would Miss Manners do in a situation like this? We’ll see how John Scott Eccles handled the evening as we read our next story, The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge. My Q’s & Comments…

  • Once and for all now: Is Scott Eccles gay or straight?
  • You spend the night with a stranger in an unusual setting. When you wake up, the host and his servants have mysteriously vanished. Doesn’t WIST have its roots in the world of legend and folklore?
  • Sherlock Holmes impersonated a botanist which may or may not account for Warner’s initial notice of him. We learn in STUD that the detective’s knowledge of botany was “variable,” but is there other canonical evidence to support a serious interest in plants?
  • Isn’t the cook a little too orthodox? Can we accept ritual practices that are so exactly by-the-book?
  • A year ago I took a birdhouse painting class, a creative outlet that was supposed to help reduce stress. My very first “canvas” was a 10-inch cottage-style birdhouse that I covered with purple and blue flowery vines. My husband immediately dubbed it “Wisteria Lodge.” In February, I weatherproofed it and hung it in a tree just outside the kitchen window. Before long a feathered family made themselves at home in it. We affectionately named the male “Scott Eccles.” His mate we called “Miss Burnet.” Their surviving babies became “Garcia,” “Baynes” and “Watson.” My family had fun watching their family all summer long. The kitty next door liked watching them, too. In fact, he hung around so much we gave him the inevitable canonical nom: “The Tiger of San Pedro.”

Steve Clarkson – Fri, 19 Feb 1999

John Scott Eccles had just undergone what he termed “a most incredible and grotesque experience.” So jarring was it that he lost little time in consulting Sherlock Holmes, the explainer of the inexplicable. Yet just as Eccles was beginning to relate his story, who should visit 221B Baker Street but Inspector Gregson and another police official, looking for Eccles in connection with the mysterious and brutal death of his host of the previous evening.

After hearing Eccles’s tale of woe, Inspector Gregson was convinced that he had had nothing to do with Mr. Garcia’s death. But the circumstances surrounding that death were so bizarre that Holmes and Watson felt it necessary to visit the scene of the crime. In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will unleash the Hounds upon a scent which contains elements of despotism, voodoo, and vengeance. The trail begins in Latin America and winds through Europe before it leads to the body of a man, his head beaten in, lying in the Oxshott Common.

I sometimes feel that WIST started off like STUD may have: Too long for a short story; not long enough for a novel. For all its relative length, however, there isn’t much mystery or substance to the tale, IMHO. But I note the appearance of the redoubtable Inspector Baynes, who from all appearances is nearly the equal of the Master Detective, at least in this Adventure. Indeed, it was Baynes who learned the true identity of “Mr. Henderson” and his secretary through true detective work: checking “Henderson’s” travels back until his country of origin was revealed. Holmes did not trouble himself to do this. Baring-Gould places this Adventure as having occurred in 1890; could it be that Watson delayed publishing the story for 18 years out of a sense of embarrassment for Holmes, who was at the peak of his powers in the 1890’s?

Just the first couple of paragraphs brought several questions to mind:

  1. No dictionaries, now, how would you define “grotesque?”
  2. Is “Scott Eccles” a compound surname?
  3. Why wouldn’t a woman send a reply-paid telegram instead of appearing in person?

Gregson said that he was led to 221B by Eccles’s wire to Holmes. Was Scotland Yard in the custom of sifting through the myriad telegrams sent throughout London and beyond each day? Or, if Scotland Yard inspectors had John Scott Eccles in view at the time he sent his telegram, why didn’t they detain him on the spot, at Charing Cross Station?

Miss Burnet/Signora Durando was a governess to Don Murillo’s children. It is inconceivable that she did not speak Spanish, particularly as her late husband had Spanish as his native tongue. Why did she write the fatal note to Garcia in English?

For those among us who are conversant with voodoo rituals, what might the mummified object left behind by Murillo’s cook have been, and what did it symbolize? And for the medicos, would strong coffee rapidly overcome the effects of opium?

Miss Burnet/Signora Durando says of Don Murillo, “‘He escaped as you have just described.'” As who just described? The description of Murillo’s escape from San Pedro is related to us in the form of a mental “flashback” by Watson. It was not spoken aloud. Was Miss Burnet a psychic, a mind-reader?

Discover more about Wisteria Lodge and read the canon.