Ralph Edwards - Fri, 23 Dec 1994
Sherlock Holmes is sufficiently
cold-blooded to refer to a mugging as a "whimsical little incident" at
the beginning of this story, can one accept as heartfelt his emotional
remark at the end of it about "the season of forgiveness"?
There seems to be consensus that we lock the door to Wisteria Lodge, climb into our four-wheeler, and move along to the next story -- this being The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (BLUE), taken out of order so that we may exchange the compliments of the season with one another. Therefore, one day early, here are my questions and comments to get us going:
On the 27th of December,
Watson stopped by to wish Holmes the Compliments of the Season. He found
the Master Detective studying a very disreputable hat, which had belonged
to an unknown gentleman who lost it while defending himself from a gang
of toughs in the Tottenham Road. The unfortunate man had also lost a goose
which he had intended for his Christmas supper. Holmes had given the goose
to Peterson, a commissionaire who found the hat and bird, and had kept
the hat to try to learn more about its owner.
Holmes was about to say something to Watson in the course of giving his findings about the hat's owner when Peterson burst in at the door, wild with excitement. In his hand he held a brilliant blue jewel, which his wife had found in the crop of the goose. Holmes immediately identified it as the Blue Carbuncle, stolen from the Countess of Morcar, who had offered a £1,000 reward for its return.
In a few minutes the Mâitre de Chasse will rally the Hounds to the scent of a beautiful diamond that somehow found its way into the innards of an unimpeachable Christmas goose. The trail will take them through deceit and treachery to a most improbable villain...a shrimp, in fact.
The Adventure of the Blue
Carbuncle has the distinction of being one of the most analyzed and
written-about stories in the Canon. Indeed, only two other stories have
had more written on them, according to De Waal. This makes
a particularly difficult adventure from which to draw questions that have
not already been investigated in previous examinations by the Hounds.
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 21 Dec 2000
Nevertheless, I have pored over the story and derived a few questions; not too many, for I know that today must hold other investigations for our List Members. But I note that Holmes refers to two other adventures that were ostensibly crime-free: the "Irene Adler papers" and "the singular case of Miss Mary Sutherland." What "papers" were there connected with Irene Adler, and what was so singular about the case of Miss Mary Sutherland, to which Holmes compared two "parallel cases" in IDEN?
Holmes infers that Henry Baker probably had not had gas laid on at his home from the presence of five tallow-stains upon Mr. Baker's battered billycock. Yet Holmes says that Baker "walks upstairs at night probably with his hat in one hand and a guttering candle in the other." Under those conditions, how did tallow-stains get on the hat?
Although Holmes describes the Blue Carbuncle as a "forty-grain weight of crystallized charcoal," he does not come right out and call it a "diamond." Peterson's question, "A diamond, sir?" goes unanswered, and his observation that the stone cut into glass is similarly disregarded. I note also that Holmes states that the normal color of carbuncles is "ruby red." Are there red gemstones of sufficient hardness to cut into glass? Could our resident gemologists advise whether there is such a thing as a "ruby red" diamond?
Watson tells us that when he and Holmes visited the Alpha Inn, "Holmes pushed open the door of the private bar...." Would some person better acquainted with such matters kindly explain why the Alpha Inn was alluded to as a "private bar?"
Lastly, why would Breckenridge keep separate lists of his "country" and "town" suppliers, and what would be the geographic distinction between them?
Rosemary Michaud - Thu, 23 Dec 1999
Return to Introducing the 60 Stories
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 21 Dec 2000