Tags: #Holmes, #Sir, #Detective and mystery stories, #Sherlock (Fictitious character) -- Fiction, #1859-1930, #Arthur Conan, #Doyle
ited by ELLERY QUEEN
NOVELS BY ELLERY QUEEN
THE ROMAN HAT MYSTERY THE SPANISH CAPE MYSTERY
THE FRENCH POWDER MYSTERY HALFWAY HOUSE
THE DUTCH SHOE MYSTERY THE DOOR BETWEEN
THE GREEK COFFIN MYSTERY THE DEVIL TO PAY
THE EGYPTIAN CROSS MYSTERY THE FOUR OF HEARTS
THE AMERICAN GUN MYSTERY THE DRAGON'S TEETH
THE SIAMESE TWIN MYSTERY CALAMITY TOWN
THE CHINESE ORANGE MYSTERY THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN
BOOKS OF SHORT STORIES BY ELLERY QUEEN
THE ADVENTURES OF ELLERY QUEEN THE New ADVENTURES OF ELLERY QUEEN
CRITICAL WORKS BY ELLERY QUEEN
CHALLENGE TO THE READER (AN ANTHOLOGY) 101 YEARS' ENTERTAINMENT:
, THE GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES
1841-1941 (A COMMEMORATIVE ANTHOLOGY) THE DETECTIVE SHORT STORY: A BIBLIOGRAPHY SPORTING BLOOD: THE GREAT SPORTS DETECTIVE STORIES THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES:
THE GREAT WOMEN DETECTIVES AND CRIMINALS THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (AN ANTHOLOGY)
UNDER THE PSEUDONYM OF BARNABY ROSS
THE TRAGEDY OF X (Republished as by Ellery Queen) THE TRAGEDY OF Y (Republished as by Ellery Queen) THE TRAGEDY OF Z (Republished as by Ellery Queen) DRURY LANE'S LAST CASE-
UNDER THE PSEUDONYM OF ELLERY QUEEN, JR.
THE BLACK Doc MYSTERY (A JUVENILE) THE GOLDEN EAGLE MYSTERY (A JUVENILE)
JUNIOR MYSTERIES BY ELLERY QUEEN
ELLERY QUEEN, MASTER DETECTIVE
THE PENTHOUSE MYSTERY
THE PERFECT CRIME
ELLERY QUEEN AND THE ADVENTURE OF THE LAST MAN CLUB
(A Radio Adaptation) ELLERY QUEEN, THE MASTER DETECTIVE: THE ADVENTURE
OF THE MURDERED MILLIONAIRE (A Radio Adaptation)
THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
"The members of the Society of Infallible Detectives were just sitting around and being socially infallible, in their rooms in Fakir Street, when President Holmes strode
in." (page 40)
OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY • BOSTON
COPYRIGHT 1944, BY LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THE RIGHT
TO REPRODUCE THIS BOOK OR PORTIONS
THEREOF IN ANY FORM
Published March 1944 Reprinted April 1944 Reprinted May 1944
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
This is one of the Queens speaking . . .
I want to tell you the unforgettable circumstances that led to my first meeting with Sherlock Holmes.
When I was a child my family lived in a small town in western New York. I didn't realize it then, but I was given a colossal gift early in life — a Huckleberry Finn-Tom Sawyer boyhood spent, by a strange coincidence, in the very town in which Mark Twain lived shortly before I was born.
Does any man with a spark of boyhood still in his heart ever forget his home town? No — it's an unconquerable memory. Most of us never return, but none of us forgets.
I remember we had a river at our back door — the gentle Chemung. I remember how, in the cycle of years, the spring torrents came down from the hills; how they overflowed our peaceful valley —yes, over the massive concrete dikes that towered with grim Egyptian austerity above the shallow bed of the Chemung. I remember how old man river burst through our back door, flooding our kitchen and parlor, driving us — temporary refugees — to our top floor. Happy days for a wide-eyed boy, proud in his hip-boots and man's sou'wester, with the prospect of daily trips by rowboat — voyages of high adventure — to the nearest grocer!
I remember the unpaved streets — the heavily rutted road that slept in the sun before our house. I have a queer memory about those ruts. Every 4th of July we boys would plant our firecrackers deep in the soft earth of those ruts. Then we'd touch our smoking punks to the row of seedling fuses, run for cover, and watch the "thunderbolts" (that's what they were called in those days) explode with a muffled roar and send heavenward — at least three feet! a shower of dirt and stones. It wasn't so long after the Spanish-American War that we couldn't pretend we were blowing up the
Maine — in some strangely perverted terrestrial fashion only small boys can invent.
I remember the long walks to and from public school — three miles each way, in summer mud and winter drifts; the cherry trees and apple trees and chicken coops and dogs—the long succession of dogs ending with that fine hunter that was killed by a queer-looking machine called an "automobile." I remember the all-day trips to the brown October hills, gathering nuts; the wood fires and the popping corn; the swimming hole that no one knew about but ourselves; the boyhood secret society and its meeting place in the shed behind my best friend's house. We called it "The League of the Clutching Hand" — can you guess why ?
But I started to tell you how I first met Sherlock Holmes. Somehow I cannot think of Holmes without succumbing to a wave of sentimental nostalgia. I find myself fading back —far, far back in the remembrance of things past.
As a boy my reading habits were pure and innocent. I confess now that I never read a Nick Carter until I was past thirty. My literary childhood consisted of Horatio Alger and Tom Swift and the Viking legends and the multi-colored Lang fairy books and — yes, the Oz stories. I can reread the Oz stories even today —and I do. Somehow crime and detection failed to cross my path in all those happy days, except in the movies — "The Clutching Hand," remember? The closest I might have come to blood and thunder would have been TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE — I say "might have come," because oddly enough I have no recollection of TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE as part of my early reading.
When I was twelve years old my family moved to New York City. For a time we lived with my grandfather in Brooklyn. It was in my grandfather's house, only a few weeks after my arrival in fabulous New York, that I met Sherlock Holmes. Oh, unforgettable day!
I was ill in bed. In those days I was afflicted periodically with an abscess of the left ear. It came year after year, with almost astronomical regularity — and always, I remember, during the week of school exams. My grandfather had an old turnip of a watch that he used to place flat against my left ear, and it always astounded him that, even after the ordeal of having had my ear lanced, I still couldn't hear his Big Ben tick.
I was lying in bed, a miserable youngster, on just such a day as Dr. Watson has so often described — a "bleak and windy" day with the ringers of winter scratching at the window pane. One of my aunts walked in and handed me a book she had borrowed at the near-by public library.
It Was THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.
I opened the book with no realization that I stood — rather, I sat —on the brink of my fate. I had no inkling, no premonition, that in another minute my life's work, such as it is, would be born. My first glance was disheartening. I saw the frontispiece of the Harper edition — a picture of a rather innocuous man in dress coat and striped trousers holding the arm of a young woman in bridal gown. A love story, I said to myself — for surely this unattractive couple were in a church about to be married. The quotation under the illustration — "The gentleman in the pew handed it up to her" — was not encouraging. In fact, there was nothing in that ill-chosen frontispiece by Sidney Paget to make a twelve-year-old boy sit up and take notice — especially with his left ear in agony.
Only an unknown and unknowable sixth sense prompted me to turn to the table of contents — and then the world brightened. The first story — A Scandal in Bohemia — seemed to hold little red-blooded promise, but the next story was, and always will be, a milestone.
A strange rushing thrill challenged the pain in my ear. The Red-Headed League! What a combination of simple words to skewer themselves into the brain of a hungry boy! I glanced down quickly — The Man with the Twisted Lip — The Adventure of the Speckled Band — and I was lost! Ecstatically, everlastingly lost!