A Study in Scarlet – Hounds Summary

Ralph Edwards – Fri, 26 Aug 1994

  • What would indicate that an artery had been grazed?
  • What was in store for Watson at the end of his nine months?
  • Why all the blue flickering flames for only one student?
  • How could Holmes be sure that nothing else precipitated his re-agent?
  • Why did Holmes seize Watson instead of Stamford by the coat-sleeve?
  • What composed 97% of Holmes’s blood? (assume 1 liter = 30,000 drops)
  • Is there any evidence that the Sherlock Holmes test was ever used?
  • What were Watson’s vices when he was well?
  • Was agreeing to share quarters strange after so brief an acquaintance?
  • Was Watson correct that Holmes was not a difficult man to live with?
  • Did poor pen, ink, left-handedness, or carelessness blot Holmes’ hands?
  • Reconcile “no knowledge of philosophy” with philosophical instruments.
  • Did the magazine name the author?
  • How did Holmes munch silently on toast?
  • Why “bread and cheese” instead of “bread and butter”?
  • Did Holmes observe that Dr. Watson was of a medical type?
  • Should a young gentleman address a middle-aged retired marine as “my lad”?
  • Did “no reply” indicate that Holmes had decided to take the case?
  • Do business cards usually indicate the city, state, and country, but no street address?
  • What was Holmes’ experience with professional beauties?
  • How did Gregson and Lestrade travel to Lauriston Gardens?
  • Was the state of the hat, collar, and cuffs compatible with activity, weather, and Euston?
  • Does agitation remain showing on the face of the dead?
  • Is a Masonic device appropriate for a former Mormon?
  • Is plaster normally yellow?
  • Does a man with a nosebleed keep smoking a cigar?
  • Would a puddle on the garden walk be seen late at night?
  • Would Hope, steadying Drebber, have taken long strides?
  • When had Watson previously flattered Holmes on the score of his art?
  • Does Holmes ever give any other police officer a half-sovereign for providing information?
  • Relate the condition of drains to typhoid fever. Why not an enteric fever?
  • What “legal twist” might be discerned in four words of writing?
  • Was Hope fooled by the facsimile ring?
  • Was less than three weeks in London a reasonable time for Hope to track down Drebber?
  • When does a young girl become “of age”? What things would such a girl be too innocent to understand?
  • Why would a boy in the navy be costly?
  • Isn’t a ladder to the second (third in the U.S.) floor very long and heavy?
  • How could Lestrade know that Stangerson usually did all the paying?
  • Why no luggage, passports, toiletry, etc., but a useless telegram?
  • What events led to the Cleveland police sending a telegram regarding Jefferson Hope? How would they know Hope’s destination?
  • What happened to the pillbox on the sill when a man in a long coat climbed out?
  • Why is the path 1,500 miles in a territory that is 600 miles across?
  • How long does it take to die of hunger? of thirst?
  • What happened to brother Bob and his father?
  • Are desert nights suitable for unlighted walking?
  • Did women carry burdens during migrations to the West?
  • Were homespun garments common in 1847?
  • Were the Mormons all Anglo-Saxons?
  • Was there gold fever in California in 1859?
  • How distant were the Wahsatch Mountains?
  • Is Utah the Pacific slope?
  • Was Lucy’s hair golden or chestnut?
  • Must the bride consent in a Mormon wedding?
  • Why do two people need a roomy villa when the servants sleep in an outhouse?
  • If one can get half-way through the mountains in a night, how many days does it take to get the rest of the way?
  • Was the wedding band a suitable keepsake?
  • What happened to the eleven wives of Drebber and Stangerson?
  • How did Hope locate his two men?
  • Why did Hope emphasize Holmes being on his trail?
  • At what time of day was the gentleman house-hunting on the Brixton Road?
  • What does “firing across a handkerchief” mean?
  • Why did Hope leave the candle burning?
  • Could Holmes have smelt poison through all the alcohol Drebber consumed?
  • What is the background for a belief that pure chance will favor the righteous?
  • Hope was suspicious of Holmes’ advertisement. Why didn’t he suspect anything when asked to drive his cab to the same address mentioned in the advertisement?
  • Why would the Cleveland police respond to a telegram from an unknown Englishman asking about Drebber’s private affairs?
  • Did Holmes note two tracks entering and one leaving?
  • How far would an unattended horse travel?
  • Did Hope lead a useful life?
  • Should Hope have been hung if he had survived?
  • Is it pure coincidence that the superior mortals (Holmes, Ferrier, and Hope) were bachelors?

Chris Redmond – Fri, 17 Nov 1995

The original reader of this tale can have had no preconceptions about the conventions of a detective story or the behavior of a detective because no such thing was known. Is there evidence in the details of the story, and in Holmes’ proceedings, that he was in fact originally conceived of as a medical student or a doctor?

The characters in “The Country of the Saints” frequently refer to “the Lord” and sometimes venture to speak in God’s name. What do these chapters suggest that the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories thought — early in his adult life, at least — about organized religion and the value of religious belief? In the stories, Watson often seems to say little and writes even less of his own activities. Is this a man with self-esteem problems?

Steve Clarkson – Fri, 8 May 1998

As we are launched into another cycle of analysis and commentary, perhaps it would be well for us to take a step back and examine some of the overall aspects of this Adventure. A Study in Scarlet, like The Valley of Fear, relies to some extent upon flashback. Both Adventures have their roots in America, although they come to a culmination in England. In A Study in Scarlet, we make the transition from the rooms in Baker Street to the Great Alkali Plain without so much as a by-your-leave from Watson. Granted, it would have taxed Lestrade’s stenographic endurance to the utmost if this portion of the Adventure had been presented as a narrative confession by Jefferson Hope.

But what is the real purpose of this part of the story? After all, don’t we have all we really need to tie loose ends together in the confession of Jefferson Hope, which Watson quotes at the end of the story? Why is it that the flashback style is used in only two of the sixty Adventures (excluding Watson’s mnemonic flashback in WIST)? Why do both of these flashbacks take us to America, and not, for example, to Australia? Could it be that here we are seeing the Literary Agent’s known fascination with America and Americans, gratuitously superimposed over Watson’s own denouement?

In adding this information, is the Literary Agent strictly accurate in his portrayal of various events and aspects of life in America? As one example, consider his depiction of the Mormons, which would appear to perpetuate, some 43 years later, the rumors and misunderstandings about that religious sect which led to the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844 and the subsequent flight of Smith’s followers from Nauvoo, Illinois. I am confident that the Hounds will cross the trails of similar depictions of Americans and the American language, laws, and lifestyle.

For those of us who prefer to quarter the grounds of smaller coverts, I offer the following:

  • Since Jefferson Hope knew Watson’s address from the advertisement about the ring that Holmes placed in the agony column, and was cautious enough to send a friend in disguise to check things out, how was it that Hope freely, albeit truculently, came to the same address just a few days later when summoned by a street Arab?
  • For the medicos among us: Could the terrific loss of blood Hope sustained during his tussle with Holmes, Lestrade, and Watson have contributed to his demise that same evening? Or did the physical exertion aggravate his already perilous condition?
  • Why was Watson so reticent at first about asking Holmes what his occupation was? Didn’t he have a right to know where half the rent money was coming from? And wasn’t it customary for landladies to check references before letting rooms? (For all Mrs. Hudson knew, Holmes might have trashed his digs in Montague Street, and Watson has been characterized by some as a half-pay “bum” in earlier Hounds’ discussions on this Adventure.)
  • What was the significance, if any, of the signs and countersigns (“‘Nine to seven!’…’Seven to five!'”) used by the Avenging Angels?
  • In their display of braggadocio to John Ferrier when they came to the Ferrier homestead seeking Lucy Ferrier’s hand, both Enoch Drebber and Joseph Stangerson boasted of their wealth, either realized or impending. At that time, Stangerson stated that his prospective inheritance would surpass Drebber’s wealth. Yet Stangerson eventually accepted a rather menial position as Drebber’s secretary and factotum in later life. What might have happened to Stangerson’s once-rosy “prospects?”

Discover more about A Study in Scarlet and read the canon.