Ralph Edwards - Fri, 28 Apr 1995
It isn't Papa Bear, and it isn't Mama Bear,
so it must be door number 3 -- isn't there something just a little too
pat, too artificial, about a mystery in which Holmes must choose one of
precisely three suspects in a carefully confined area?
Wipe those muddy shoes before you come in to read our next story, The Adventure of the Three Students! Some questions and comments to ponder:
Sherlock Holmes was researching early English
charters at a major university when Mr. Hilton Soames, a tutor and lecturer
in the Greek language, dropped by to present an unusual problem to him.
Holmes was not of a mind to entertain trivial matters such as apparent
cheating on a scholarship examination, but he rather ungraciously agreed
to look into the matter.
The problem was this: Soames had been proofreading his portion of an examination for the Fortescue Scholarship after the galley proofs were returned by the printer. He stepped out for a spot of tea, and returned about an hour later to find that someone had entered his rooms and apparently had copied some or all of the proofs. There were only three persons taking that portion of the Fortescue examination: a young athlete named Gilchrist; an inscrutable native of India named Daulat Ras; and a rakehell young student named Miles McLaren. One of these men must have intruded and copied the examination in Greek; no one else would have had any interest in the matter. The question was, which one?
In a few minutes the Mâitre de Chasse will summon the Hounds to take up the scent of a problem which threatened to engulf a great university in scandal. It is a thin scent, with several twists and turns that include a fainting servant named Bannister. It is not a great leap of faith for the Mâitre to believe that the Hounds will hurdle the difficulties, however.
St. Luke is reputed to have been a Greek
physician who hailed from Antioch (now located in Turkey). There are parallels
between "Greek," which Soames taught, and "physician," which was Watson's
profession. Could there be a link also between "Antioch" and the great
university where this Adventure takes place?
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 26 Apr 2001
Young Gilchrist was poor, and would have wanted very much to win the Fortescue Scholarship to further his education. Might he have mentioned this to Bannister, who then sought to help his young master by leaving the key in Soames's door when he knew that the tutor was not in his rooms?
Soames's portion of the Fortescue Scholarship consisted of half a chapter of Thucydides. The passage of Thucydides was sent to a printer for replication, and the printer would have had to typeset the galley proofs in Greek characters. Did printers know Greek in those days?
In any case, Soames had not finished proofreading the printer's galleys by 4:30 of the afternoon before the Examination. He discovered shortly after 5:30 that the proofs had been tampered with. That same evening he called upon Holmes and Watson (who seemed to be better acquainted with Soames than Holmes was). The resulting investigation ended shortly before 9:00, with Soames protesting to Holmes that the matter must be resolved that evening so that the Examination could go forward on the morrow as scheduled. Even if Holmes had so obliged Soames, would there have remained enough time to finish proofreading the papers, deliver them to the printer first thing in the morning, have any necessary corrections made, and still be able to start the Fortescue Examination on time?
I have sometimes wondered how Gilchrist made the long jump from being a university student to a commissioned member of the Rhodesian Police Force. What would his qualifications for the latter position have been? When did he apply for the position, and why did he apply if he was so interested in continuing his education that he would cheat to win a scholarship? It sounds to me as though he was considering "getting out of Dodge" before the specter of the Fortescue loomed on the immediate horizon.
Rosemary Michaud - Thu, 2 Mar 2000
Return to Introducing the 60 Stories
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 26 Apr 2001