The Noble Bachelor – Hounds Summary

Ralph Edwards – Fri, 11 Nov 1994

  • Was St. Simon really unfortunate in the long run?
  • How does this case rate for piquancy?
  • Is “memoir” the first proposal for a Canon?
  • Are there implications when a prospective bridegroom is so idle?
  • Would a man who seldom exercises for exercise’s sake (YELL) take a stroll in the rain accompanied by high autumnal winds?
  • Do bullets throb?
  • Would Holmes choose more often to be bored or to lie?
  • Did Holmes indicate he read headlines?
  • How would Lord Backwater know Holmes so well?
  • Why “Esq.” in the first newspaper announcement, but “Mr.” later?
  • Was Doran a millionaire in dollars or pounds?
  • Why didn’t the Duke and the older brother attend the wedding?
  • Why did St. Simon travel to the United States?
  • Was Holmes being properly discreet by answering the question, “And which king?”
  • Would you describe your wife as a noblewoman at bottom?
  • What do you read into “so much that many have aspired to without success”?
  • Was discarding the wedding ring appropriate?
  • Were there witnesses (such as a drunken looking groom) to the true wedding?
  • How was Frank Moulton’s trip financed?
  • Did Holmes overlook Flora in thinking St. Simon might stay?
  • Who paid Holmes’ fee?
  • Was Hattie ever charged with bigamy?

Chris Redmond – Fri, 16 Feb 1996

The reader does not find out until the denouement of this tale that Lord Robert St. Simon really is a bachelor. Several other tales have titles with similar quirks, including A Case of Identity, and some even betray the identity of the criminal. In the present case, is the title appropriate, or does it take the fun away by providing an unintended clue to the solution?

Sonia Fetherston – Thu, 15 May 1997

There are several “bachelors” and “bachelorettes” in this week’s story.

  • St. Simon went through the wedding, but the marriage is now void.
  • Holmes will remain a bachelor, but he “earnestly” ogles Hatty’s image in miniature.
  • Watson is still single, but about to marry.
  • Doran was married but is now a widower. A very rich one!
  • Flora Millar would probably like to marry St. Simon but never can.
  • Lestrade is married, but we never, ever see his wife in the canon.
  • Alice might once have been involved with Frank. Now she’s helping Frank and Hatty.
  • Then there’s Hatty, who wound up with one husband too many.

Gosh, it sounds like the story outline for a Shakespearean comedy! Or maybe like a heroic epic, since Holmes declares that Lady St. Simon is “a myth.”

Exactly how nobly did each of these people behave in the course of the story? I believe Doran was the least noble. He forbade Hatty from marrying the man she loved, which set all the other wheels turning in this story. Then he arranged Hatty’s marriage to a man she didn’t love in a country/society where she’d never be able to fit in. Some other folks also behaved in a less-than-noble fashion. And I can’t decide who, if any, is the most noble in the cast. Watson? Except he wrote it all down for everybody to see. Thoughts and ideas, Hounds?

Steve Clarkson – Fri, 24 Jul 1998

It was not the usual high society wedding. Only a very few people were in attendance as Hatty Doran took her vows as the wife of Lord Robert Walsingham de Vere St. Simon. After the nuptials, the happy couple made their way to a wedding repast at the home of the father of the bride. There was a small disturbance as a young woman tried to force her way into the gathering, saying that she had a prior claim on Lord Robert and threatening to do harm to his young bride. But Hatty had already entered the house and did not hear the disturbance as the butler and the footman pushed the intruder out.

The newlyweds and their guests were enjoying their meal when the bride excused herself and left the room. No one thought much about it until…she failed to return. A hurried search by her father and her new husband turned up no trace of her. Hatty Doran, Lady St. Simon, was gone. Later, police would find her wedding gown floating in the water of the Serpentine in a nearby London park.

In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will summon the Hounds to rally in search of the missing Lady St. Simon…if she ever existed, which Sherlock Holmes clearly doubts. Can the keen noses of the intrepid Pack unravel this mystery within a mystery?

When Lord Robert Walsingham de Vere St. Simon entered 221B, Holmes rose and bowed to him. Can the Hounds recall any other instance where Holmes bowed to a member of the nobility? And was Watson’s depiction of the nobleman (“foppishness;” “stately little cough”) intended to be a caricature of some members of the peerage? Are we supposed to see Lord Robert in a sympathetic light?

Lord Robert remarked that Holmes’ earlier clients were not from the same stratum of society. Holmes says, “‘My last client of the sort was a king.'”  St. Simon interpreted this as a situation where the king had lost his wife, or at least a close family member, whereas Holmes may have meant that his last noble client had been a king. This ambiguity is never resolved; what do the Hounds think Holmes intended by his remark?

In lieu of a portrait, Lord Robert produced an ivory miniature, colored to show Hatty Doran’s lustrous black hair and large dark eyes. Was it common to “colorize” ivory miniatures in Victorian times? Could Hatty’s hair and eyes indicate a Latin heritage?

Lestrade says, “‘In the [wedding] dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a card-case. In the card-case is a note.'” Did Victorian brides carry card-cases? Did their wedding dresses have pockets? Were the card-cases waterproof? Why did Hatty retain the note, and why did she put it in a card-case?

Mr. Francis Hay Moulton had sworn to Hatty that he wouldn’t return to claim her hand until he had as much money as Aloysius Doran. He was captured and imprisoned by the Apaches, escaped, and went to San Francisco, where he learned that Hatty had departed for England. He followed her there, found her through the newspaper society pages, and “staked his claim,” apparently without having amassed the promised fortune. Yet he took rooms in one of the most select hotels in London. How did he come to have sufficient funds to travel to London, and to stay in expensive quarters, if he had only just escaped from the Apaches a few months earlier?

Why didn’t Moulton sign his name to the note he passed to Hatty, instead of the rather formal “F.H.M.”? With respect to the note and its implications to Lestrade, there was no indication that Lestrade verified that Flora Millar’s middle initial, if she had one, was “H.” Why not? And what ultimately happened to Miss Millar? Was she still languishing in jail under suspicion of murder while Holmes played his violin?

Discover more about The Noble Bachelor and read the canon.