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Sherlock Holmes in New Guinea: The Preface


Watson and Holmes at home (Sidney Paget)IT BEGAN as a fairly ordinary day.

Holmes was dozing at the fire. Mrs Hudson was watering the flowers, having cleared the breakfast tray at the great detective’s feet, his Persian slipper of best Cuban tobacco falling from his hand as he fell into a slumber.

But the peace of an early spring morning was rudely interrupted.

Dr Watson burst in. "Holmes, Holmes, I have something extraordinary to relate!"

Holmes - "I get tired of these excited intrusions of yours Watson. Please be explicit, exact and to the point."

Watson - "I have a piece of paper here which I am sure will inflame your curiosity."

Holmes - "It is a mere nothing. One casual glance reveals that it is a quarto page, a poor copy of a Sibyllenbuch original, probably originating from the Limehouse copy factories. A false incunabula."

Watson - "Holmes, you amaze me! How can you gather that from one glance?"

Holmes - "The watermark. Look at it closely. See, it is a cheap fake."

Then Holmes paused and grabbed the page from Watson, peering at it intently.

"But what do we have here? There is something hidden which I believe deserves closer examination. Let's see what my new microscope has to say."

Holmes went to his early Köhler, an instrument which few people in Britain possessed.

Holmes - "Watson, I think I've found something of interest. This paper is from no land in the recognised British  Empire. Futhermore there are clear traces of banana fibre in the weave.

"If I am not mistaken, it is from New Guinea, that strange uncharted place in the south western Pacific, north of the Antipodes.

"There is more to this than meets the eye. Watson, did you note that small dark patch in the top left-hand corner?”

Watson - "No, can't say I did. But the suspicious looking fellow who gave this to me had a strange wild story to tell."

Holmes (ignoring Watson's last revelation) - "It is a microcode and can only be observed through powerful magnification."

Holmes pondered for a few minutes, and then jumped out of his seat as if electrocuted by one of Mr Tesla's new machines.

"There is no time to lose. Come Watson, we must proceed with haste."

And so began the great Sherlock Holmes New Guinea mystery.


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Alex Harris

Awesome start Peter. I look forward to the next instalment.

Peter Kranz

Well spotted, Michael.

Holmes' favourite tobacco has acquired a somewhat offensive meaning since his lifetime which I believe was inappropriate for the delicate sensitivities of our good readers.

Sherlock Holmes smoked shag tobacco, kept in the toe of a Persian slipper. He kept his cigars in the coal-scuttle. He also smoked cigarettes on occasion ( - KJ

Michael Dom

I believe everything except the Cuban tobacco. This is obviously a story from Holmes personal casebook, because I've read most of Watson's embellishments.

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