Ralph Edwards - Fri, 31 Mar 1995
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 are 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?
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:
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's familiarity with horses or lack thereof, please
note that in PRIO he raises 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.
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 29 Mar 2001
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 totalling £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 counryside? I note from Holmes's 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 notes that the side-lamps of a trap were lit, but Holmes remarks 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.
Rosemary Michaud - Thu, 3 Feb 2000
Return to Introducing the 60 Stories
Brad Keefauver - Thu, 29 Mar 2001