NEARLY EVERY OTHER AUTHOR WRITES ABOUT HIM SO WHY SHOUDN'T I
‘Is he up yet Mrs Hadsome?’
‘Why Lord bless you Dr Wartson he has been up all night. Goodness knows what he is up to now.’
Dr Wartson, formerly of the Queens Own Heavy Cavalry (Not to be confused with the Queens Own Light Cavalry where every man is under eight stone and has to carry lead weights so they are not blown off their horses in a high wind.) mounted the stairs to his friends flat.
As he approached he could hear the sound of a violin being played very badly. The good doctor only knew two tunes. One was God Save the Queen and the other wasn’t. He didn’t think it was either.
He opened the door to be forced back by a thick cloud of stale tobacco smoke.
He found the great detective standing on a chair on one leg with the other strapped behind him. Around his neck was a noose from a rope which dangled from the chandelier.
‘What on earth are you up to?’
‘I am testing a theory and have now satisfied myself that in the Case of the Amputee the man had been murdered.’
‘How do you deduce that?
Hoppity, who was found hanging with a chair beneath him, had one leg. I have stood on a chair for twelve hours perfectly safely on one leg therefore someone must have strangled him and hung him there oh god’
As he spoke Combs twisted in agony and fell from the chair bringing down the chandelier with a crash.
'It’s Cramp. I’d reckoned without Cramp. Perhaps it was suicide after all.’
Wartson sat down and poured himself a cup of luke-warm coffee while Combs stamped around the room to restore the circulation.
He finally collapsed into a chair beside the fireside. '
I deduce that in the very near future we will receive a visit from a very tall distinguished gentleman with a beaver wearing a top hat'
‘Remarkable Combs but why a beaver should be wearing a top hat I can’t imagine?’
‘I will not dignify that last remark with a reply. Of course I intended to convey that he had a beard and a top hat.. As to the rest; Elementary my dear Wartson, I saw him when I peered out of the window a few moments ago.
At that moment Mrs Hadsome entered with the gentleman in question.
Sir Percival Bigger-Wigger Counsellor to the Royal Privy she announced with a curtsey which caused her knee to crack.
‘It’s the arthritis you know’ she remarked with a blush.
‘Am I addressing Mr Dreadlock Combs the detective?’
Combs inclined his head and blew a cloud of tobacco in the newcomers face.
‘I have come to seek your assistance on a very grave and delicate matter concerning Her Majesty the Queen.’
‘Oh! Not the Crown jewels again? You really must be more careful with them and not leave them lying around.’
‘No it is not the Crown Jewels, well not exactly. You could say it is about something that protects the crown jewels.’
‘The Queen made a presentation of a diamond and sapphire encrusted sporran to her loyal and trusted Scottish retainer John McBrowne. The sporran has mysteriously disappeared.’
‘Where was it last seen?’
‘Um that’s the delicate part. It was in the Queens Bed Chamber.’
‘I see. It seems to me Wartson we are dealing with our arch enemy Professor Moresapity. It is not the first time he has tried to stealfrom the palace.He is the second most dangerous and ruthless man in the world.'
‘Who is the first, Combs?’
‘His name is Fred Cuttlebuck. He lives in Hackney Wick and he is truly evil. He pulls wings off flies and steals sweets off little children often snatching the bag away at the last moment.’
‘Will you give me a more detailed description of the article in question?’
‘It is heart shaped made of ermine with the quotation from Burns, ’A mons a mon for au that’ picked out in sapphires and diamonds. It contained four likenesses of the queen on four sovereigns, a small flask of malt whisky, a haggis sandwich and a plug of chewing tobacco.’
‘You can safely leave the matter in my hands Sir Percival. Good Day.’
Peremptorily dismissing the Counsellor Combes turned to his friend.
'The games afoot Wartson.'
'What games that Combs. Are Arsenal playing at home today?
‘Oh! For heaven’s sake.’ We must try to find out if anyone was seen hanging about near the place. Also if it has been offered to any of the usual fences. I think this is a job for my little gang of street urchins the Breaker Street Irregulars.
‘Why are they called the irregulars Combs?’
‘I don’t know. Perhaps they wouldn’t take their Syrup of Figs when their mothers offered it to them.’
Moresthepity was last heard of in Vienna so I want you to go there post haste and see what you can find out. Never mind your practice. Whether you’re here or not some of your patients will live and the others die and I’m sure your wife will be glad to see the back of you for a few days.
‘What will you do?’
‘This is a three pipe and four needle problem Wartson. I must sit and mull it over.'
So saying he picked up his fiddle.
What was that tune he was trying to play?
Five days later Dr Wartson returned from Vienna with no further information but a pair of leder-hosen for himself and some Vienna Schnitzel for his wife.
Combs was missing but had left a note ‘Meet me on the steps of Saint Pauls at three-sixteen precisely’
Wartson arrived on time but could see no-one apart from the usual flower sellers and a scruffy old newspaper seller with a long black beard and dark glasses.
‘Don’t you recognise me Wartson?
‘Oh I recognise you Combs. I think you should have left the deer-stalker hat at home and obtained some of today’s newspapers. Yours are three weeks out of date.
‘You are improving Wartson. Well done. We’ll make a detective of you yet.’
‘There is no time to lose we must be off to Switzerland. I have had a message from Professor Moresthepity to meet him at the Reichenbach Falls. Off to the Shipping Office and book us a passage.
Wartson trotted off but turned up at Combs lodgings shortly afterward. The next available boat or ferry with vacancies is not until Friday week.
That won’t do Sarasati is playing at Wigmore Hall on that day and I have tickets.
‘Well I go into hospital for a Hernia operation the next day so I will not be available to accompany you for some time.'
There was a knock on the door and Mrs Hadsome ushered in a seedy looking individual in a bowler hat and trench coat.
‘Inspector Distraught of New Scotland Yard. Wipe your feet’ she said.
‘What can I do to help Scotland Yard?’ enquired Combs
‘This time it is rather what Scotland Yard can do for you Sir.
I have to inform you that the jewelled sporran which you have been seeking has been recovered and returned to its rightful owner.
‘Where did you recover it and has anyone been apprehended?’
‘It was found under the bed in a rather seedy brothel in Soho.
It was intact and had all its contents although the haggis in the sandwich was beginning to smell a bit off. In fact this was what led to its discovery.
No-one has been arrested but enquiries reveal sightings of a tall man wearing a Tam O Shanter and a kilt entering the premises at 10 p.m. on the night of its disappearance.
The Madam said, He gave the name Shamus Greene and no address.- He has not been traced.’
‘Well done Destraught, Another case brought to a successful conclusion although I don’t think it merits inclusion in your memoirs Wartson.
Now if you will excuse me I will just go and make out my account for services rendered and expenses to send to Sir Percival.