The Missing Three-Quarter – Hounds Summary

J. Randolf Cox – Mon, 3 Jan 1994

  • What did Holmes’ ignorance of who Godfrey Staunton and Cyril Overton were suggest about the limits of his knowledge?
  • How would you characterize Lord Mount-James (beginning with his name)? What was Holmes’ opinion of him?
  • Can you suggest what Holmes might have done to look at the telegram from Staunton had his first scheme failed? Was his statement about seven methods an idle boast? If not, why do we believe him?
  • Does Doyle play fair by his distribution of clues in this story? How soon should we suspect the solution and how?
  • Note the poetic formula in the last sentence of the story.
  • How were Holmes’ attitudes toward duty and the class system indicated in this story?

Ralph Edwards – Fri, 12 May 1995

  • What was the real point of Overton’s telegram?
  • At which point did Holmes know some sport was involved?
  • Was the drug danger exaggerated by Watson?
  • Would a match between Oxford and Cambridge be played in London?
  • Was Staunton’s father-in-law alive?
  • Is gout humorous?
  • Why didn’t Holmes and Staunton shake hands?
  • Why did Staunton use the words ending his telegram?
  • Why would Staunton take letters, bills, and notebooks with him for a football game?
  • What was Staunton’s financial situation?
  • Would a male telegraphic clerk have been so obliging?
  • Were bicycle lamps available in those days?
  • Did bicycle shops stay open evenings during winter?
  • Did Holmes overrate Armstrong or underrate Moriarty?
  • Does Sleepy Hollow refer to Washington Irving?
  • Should Holmes have suspected the detour?
  • Should private scandals be hushed up?

Chris Redmond – Fri, 2 Aug 1996

There are conspicuously old-fashioned elements in this tale — Holmes’ detective work hangs largely on telegrams and on following a horse-drawn carriage by bicycle — and yet its central feature, the apparent kidnapping of a prominent athlete, is chillingly modern. At the same time, it moves from the broad comedy of Lord Mount-James to the pathos of the final scene. Is the combination effective?

Sonia Fetherston – Fri, 24 Oct 1997

I can j-u-s-t about squeeze into my old cheerleader outfit from 30 years ago — a spectacle sure to frighten all but the bravest in our pack! No, it’s not my costume for the Hounds Halloween party; it’s simply my way of celebrating this weekend’s tale of a school athlete, The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter. Some questions and comments:

  • A scene that’s always intrigued me is Holmes (who has little use for the softer emotions) endeavoring to console Godfrey Staunton. Do you suppose the thinking machine managed to find just the right words of comfort? What might he have said?
  • Why would Hopkins feel that the disappearance of a prominent young athlete was not a matter for the regular police?
  • Several Hounds recently considered possible themes in MUSG. What themes do you see in MISS?
  • Pompey gets all the glory, but the coachman’s dog shouldn’t be forgotten. He’s obedient and stouthearted enough to make an attempt on a man with a stick. I say we adopt this little draghound as our official Hounds of the Internet mascot. He needs a name…what should we call him? “Byte?”
  • Holmes took a long time to warm up to Dr. Armstrong. The detective’s first inclination was wary caution, going so far as to compare Armstrong with a certain Napoleon of crime. Perhaps there was a reason for that cool first impression. Of all the ancient Border clans, the Armstrongs were the most feared — a reputation they worked hard to earn and maintain. The Armstrongs were synonymous with thuggery, rape, theft, arson, and murder. So treacherous were they that most other clans refused to enter alliances with them (the exceptions being the Fairbains and the Nixons). After King James captured the leaders of the Armstrongs in 1610, they were all hanged as a public example of how thieving outlaws would henceforth be dealt with. From that day on, Clan Armstrong had not had a chief. Many survivors of the clan were banished to Ireland, home turf of another family whose name was forever linked with criminal activity…Moriarty.

Steve Clarkson – Fri, 15 Jan 1999

One of the most watched rugby matches of the season, Cambridge versus Oxford, was in the offing. Cambridge had at least an even chance to win due to the presence of Godfrey Staunton,  a crack three-quarter of international fame, on its team. As was customary, the Cambridge Light Blues had been sequestered in a private hotel shortly before the day of the Big Match. Every team member was abed by ten o’clock as specified by the team’s manager, Cyril Overton – except for Godfrey Staunton, who had disappeared. Beside himself with anxiety, Overton went to Scotland Yard for assistance, and Inspector Stanley Hopkins referred him to Sherlock Holmes.

Since Staunton’s only living relative was his uncle, the wealthy (and miserly) Lord Mount-James, there was some concern that Staunton had been kidnapped as a means of getting at his uncle’s wealth. Godfrey had been seen last in the company of a distraught stranger, an older man who appeared to be neither gentleman nor labourer. The only tangible clue to Staunton’s disappearance was a fragment of a message he had written on a telegraph form: “Stand by us for God’s sake!” The telegram was addressed to an eminent physician, Dr. Leslie Armstrong.

In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will release the Hounds from their loose boxes on the trail of a star athlete and the reason or reasons for his sudden disappearance. There is every expectation that the scent of aniseed will be of assistance to the pack in finding the missing athlete.

This Adventure is a comparatively simple match of wits between the formidable Dr. Leslie Armstrong and Sherlock Holmes. There is not a great deal of substance on which to base my questions. However, such as they are, I herewith present a few:
First, so that those of us who are not familiar with the great sport of rugby might see Godfrey Staunton’s disappearance in the proper light, would some of our more knowledgeable List Members please explain the duties of a “three-quarter,” and how the loss of such a team member, albeit one that would now be called a “superstar,” could make such a difference in an entire team’s chances of winning? Is “a goal and two tries” a large margin of victory?

Was Stanley Hopkins’s referral of Cyril Overton to Holmes justifiable? Although I am sure that Scotland Yard had much better things to do than track down every person in England who had disappeared, wouldn’t it have been more in Hopkins’s métier to take appropriate action if he saw the need for it? After all, Godfrey Staunton had considerable fame for his athletic prowess among the followers of rugby, which was every bit as popular in those times as it is in these days.

Since Lord Mount-James was Godfrey Staunton’s “only living relative,” it is apparent that the miserly Lord’s sibling(s) had predeceased him. And yet it is apparent that Godfrey himself bore no noble title, else he would have been referred to as “The Honourable Godfrey Staunton.” So, assuming that no title purveyed with his uncle’s estate, why would Lord Mount-James object to Godfrey getting married? How did Godfrey know that he would be disinherited if he married without his uncle’s consent?

To hark back to another story, in SIGN Holmes presented the tracking dog Toby with his handkerchief, which had been dipped in creosote before leading the dog to the rain barrel where Jonathan Small had stood after climbing down from Bartholomew Sholto’s room. In MISS, there was no mention of Holmes “preconditioning” Pompey the draghound in a similar fashion. Without such prompting, would a draghound follow the scent of aniseed?

If Watson had weaned Holmes away from his cocaine addiction, why did Holmes bring his hypodermic syringe with him to Cambridge? And while we’re talking about medicine (after a fashion), can the medical experts on the List advise as to what form of tuberculosis is the most dangerous, and whether any form acts as quickly as was the case with Godfrey Staunton’s wife?

Lastly, can our British List Members enlighten us as to whether there are any large mansions located on what could be considered the main street(s) of Cambridge?

Discover more about The Missing Three-Quarter and read the canon.