Case of the Elegant Lady A Sherlock Holmes Tale A Baker Street Universe Adventure By John Pirillo
A Midsummer Night's Dream was being acted out on the main stage of the Globe Theater, while a rapt audience watched expectantly. As they did so a woman of great elegance rose from her back row chair, just as the show was about to close, and headed for the exit. She bumped into a rather large man and his son, who both gave her a surprised look.
Shopkeeper Goodfellow was about to close his front door and lock it when an Elegant Lady placed a hand upon his arm. "Do be so kind as to stay open but long enough for me to purchase a few things."
He was about to give her a heated response, when he saw her face. He turned pale as a ghost.
Jules and Wells lowered the ramp to the Master of the World. As they did so the Elegant Lady came inside the warehouse and stopped before them. "Do you have room for one more?"
They both gave her shocked looks, too stunned to answer.
A group of young boys scampered from hiding places outside the warehouse and watched as the Master of the World rose on its energy fields and blasted off into the skies. They all cheered and clapped, then burst into a run after the ship.
"And impossible on top of that, my good man!"
Watson was sweating beneath the gaze of Mrs. Hudson who was cutting the locks of his hair just above his eyebrows.
"You must be fashionable, John." She told him soothingly, as she plucked an errant eyebrow hair away!"
"Owww, but must I also pay the price for it as well!"
She took his face and positioned it again as she had it before, her eyes on his sideburns. She took a finger and brushed the sideburns on both sides, then stabbed lightly inward on both sides. "An inch if anything I suppose."
"A what!" Watson exclaimed, starting to get up.
She pushed him down again. "Behave yourself or I'll send you to a proper barber!"
Watson remained seated, but his face was dark with anger. "Why didn't you stay longer with your relatives?"
"And why didn't you answer my mail?" She asked pointedly, and then plucked another eyebrow hair.
"That does it!" Watson jumped up and turned to face her.
Sherlock stepped between the arguing couple. "Children behave."
They both turned on him and at the same time said. "We are not...children!"
Each hurried off to their respective rooms, slamming their doors.
Sherlock sat back down and took the morning paper up again. "Now. Some quiet at last!"
A door slammed open. "And don't think this ends up!" Mrs. Hudson declared, slamming her door shut again.
Watson flung his open. "I wouldn't be so sure about that!" Then he slammed his door shut again.
Sherlock sighed. "The games afoot, but there are no criminals to hold forth and punish."
"I quite agree." Professor Challenger said, entering the room, followed by Conan, who gave Sherlock a touch of his hat and sat down.
"They're at it again, I surmise?"
Sherlock realizing he would have no peace and quiet this day, set his paper down, folded his hands calmly across his right knee and nodded.
Professor Challenger spotted the tray of half eaten scones and still steaming coffee. "May I?"
"But of course. Feel free." Sherlock ordered.
Conan got up quickly and beat Professor Challenger to the small table. He hurriedly dished himself several scones, poured some coffee, left it black and sat back down. He took a bite. "God, how I've missed Missus Hudson."
"Thank you!" Mrs. Hudson said from her room.
Professor Challenger in the midst of sipping from his coffee cup, spit it out and barked with laughter. "However do you put up with all of this, Sherlock?"
Rather than comment on the lack of current clarity among his friends, instead he gestured to the paper. "I suppose you're here because of that?"
Professor Challenger nodded. "Conan was first aware of it and brought it to my attention."
Conan finished his first scone after dipping the remainder into his coffee, napkined his lips dry, then spoke. "A bit on the off and odd, wouldn't you say?"
"To be precise." Professor Challenger added. "Off and off!"
Sherlock rose and went to the window. He spotted Constable Evans and the Inspector exiting their Wagon. "Much more than most realize."
"I suppose you've already solved the case." Conan said with pride.
Sherlock smiled at his friend. "You do me too much honor."
"Well, after all, I did do a rather remarkable job of writing you, you know."
"Indeed." Sherlock said with a smile. "Or someone like you."
"Ah, the infinite worlds theory again." Conan commented with a nod.
"What are the odds of a woman being spotted at The Globe during Shakespeare's most prominent new play, who most resembled our late, but great Queen Mary of Scots?"
Professor Challenger sat down next to the fireplace, took a sip of his coffee, and then closed his eyes. "In this blasted new world of technology anything is possible and likely."
"I agree." Conan stated. "Electric cars. Flying buses. Hand held phones in the works. Ships that touch the stars. Time travel...."
"You've been talking to the twins again, hey?" Sherlock asked with a smile. "How are Jules and Wells?"
"Why don't you ask them yourself? They should be here right after the Inspector and his son, Constable Evans show up."
Sherlock nodded, his eyes on a golden ship lowering from the clouds. "Spot on, Challenger."
Challenger and Conan both jumped up and hurried to the window to watch as the Master of the World descended from the clouds above to a hover above Baker Street. Citizens pointed upwards in surprise, their eyes wide with awe and admiration for the two men who were like one soul in two bodies. Jules and Wells.
A ramp slid out, then descended to street level. Jules and Wells stepped down rapidly, then the ramp withdrew into the ship, which pulled upwards about a dozen yards and remained hovering there, its gigantic shadow throwing a fresh chill across Baker Street and all t he buildings up and down it for a block and a half.
"About time." The Inspector said, climbing the stairs to enter, followed by Constable Evans, who waved a key at Sherlock, who nodded.
Several moments later Jules and Wells came running up the stairwell to join everyone. Hugs and kisses on cheeks went around as Jules made his rounds, pounding one man after the other on the back, kissing their cheeks and watching as his dear friend, Wells, did the same minus the kisses.
Mrs. Hudson came out of her room all smiles. "Oh, I'm so glad to see you boys again! You don't know how much I've missed all of you!"
More hugs and kisses and some tears as she made the rounds.
Last, but not least, Watson came out, swallowing his pride, and was soon also submersed in hugs and kisses, and pounding on the back.
When all were settled down comfortably in a chair, Watson and Mrs. Hudson, as if nothing untoward had ever happened, when downstairs to fetch more food and drink, both laughing and smiling like two children who had fought, but then forgot everything afterwards that had h ppened.
The Inspector smiled. "I see our two love birds remain happy."
Sherlock raised an eyebrow.
Challenger hid a smile, as did Conan.
The Inspector spotted the newspaper with the headlines that had grabbed everyone's attention earlier. "Then you know why we are here?"
Sherlock nodded. "Why we are all here."
Watson and Mrs. Hudson returned with several trays of sandwiches and more coffee. They began handing it out, along with silverware, plates and cups. As Mrs. Hudson poured coffee, Watson poured tea.
"It would seem that Her Majesty's reported death could be wrong." Professor Challenger ventured.
"Perhaps." Sherlock stated somberly.
The Inspector eyed him, stroking his burly mustache violently a moment as his thoughts smashed into each other in confusion. "But the description is accurate and infallible."
Constable Evans laughed. "Father, just because you are the one who spotted her, doesn't make it infallible."
The Inspector turned on his son. "When I ask for your opinion, Constable Evans, it will be loud and...Clear!"
Constable Evans laughed harder.
The Inspector clenched his fists until they turned white. "Kids these days."
Constable Evans gave his father a hug from behind. "Fathers these days."
The Inspector shrugged Constable Evans off him, but not without the others seeing a smile of pride on his face.
"So you believe this woman to be..."
"The good Queen Mary of Scots. Upon my life." The Inspector insisted.
Sherlock sighed. "Perhaps, but we must also consider one other possibility."
"James!" Conan popped out.
"Indeed." Watson agreed. "If he could be a duplicate of Professor Moriarity..."
"And I of your..." He didn't finish the words upon the pained expression on Watson's face.
"Then we must consider the possibility of another Queen Mary of Scots." Professor Challenger barked powerfully across the room.
Jules nodded. "My friends, we have seen the impossible and when you have seen that all else pales to insignificance."
Wells added. "We must consider that we now have a doppelganger in our midst."
"The question is." Watson broke in with a solemn voice. "Is she truly the Good Queen of Scots...or..."
"Something worse." The Inspector completed on a sour note, shaking his head at the thought of it. "But we mustn't assume one way or the other. We must find her at any cost to determine the truth."
"And that is why you sought me?" Sherlock asked.
"Actually, I came here for another reason. I shall tell you that when we are alone, but for now this should consume our full attention."
Jules and Wells rose. "We will return to the warehouse. Einstein and Edison were working on a new scanning device that traces markings in one's blood and skin."
"Something called. GNA." Wells finished.
"Ah. God Nucleic Acid." Watson explained.
"Something like that, Watson." Jules said with a smile. Then he and Wells exited. A few moments later the ramp to their ship came down from the sky as a shadow descended further and darkened the room, and they climbed back into the Master of the World. The ramp withdrew and the ship darted off, leaving Baker Street well lit once more by the sunlight.
"I hope this new GNA is more accurate than blood typing that they came up with. I found it highly unamusing to find that my ancestors are descended from apes."
Constable Evans laughed. "Why so surprised, father? You always comment how much man and apes have in common."
The Inspector blushed, and then rose. "Well, then, we must off as well. I assume you will pursue this matter with the utmost sense of urgency and discretion?"
"Most assuredly, Inspector." Sherlock assured him.
The Inspector gave Sherlock a double take. Something about the way he had answered bothered him, then he shrugged and left, followed by Constable Evans and Mrs. Hudson who let them out and relocked the door.
"She's on her way, isn't she?" Conan inquired with a grin.
Sherlock looked bemused a moment, then steepled his fingers together in a classic pose of thought. "I had a few friends of Baker Street look into the rumors. We should be hearing from them shortly."
The sound of many children laughing and playing arose from below. Watson rose, waved, and then joined Mrs. Hudson as she went downstairs to open the door, which became the source of loud knocking.
There was a long silence, and then a burst of happy voices and the children's voices dimmed as they exited the flat and went back onto the streets. Sherlock noted the bundles each carried in their hands. He had Mrs. Hudson make up bundles of food and clothing for them, while also adding a teen pound note for their benefit.
Watson came up and handed Sherlock a roughly scribed note. Sherlock perused it swiftly with his eyes, and then nodded.
"She has agreed to meet with us."
Professor Challenger raised an eyebrow. "How so quickly?"
"My little friends know London inside and out. They are also especially fond of the Queen as she provided them with food and shelter when all others failed to even notice them, except for my good man, Watson here."
Watson blushed beneath everyone's gaze and Mrs. Hudson took his right hand and gave it a warm squeeze, causing his blush to spread even further and deepen.
A knock came from below.
"Please let her majesty in, my dear Watson."
Watson scampered down the stairs, straightening his tie and shirt as he did so, then opened the front door. Immediately, he fell to a knee and bowed. "Your Majesty!"
She touched his head and placed her hand square upon it. "I gather I've given the lot of you quite a fright?"
He nodded. She let go and he rose to his feet, offered his arm, and led her into the sitting room. Everyone gave her a regal bow, acknowledging her as she entered.
Sherlock smiled. "Our ruse has worked, your Majesty."
"I would rather hope so, since it was my idea in the first place!"
Watson and the others gave Sherlock a surprised look. She laughed. "Truly, gentlemen, you don't really believe that men are the only ones with great ideas, do you?"
Sherlock merely smiled. He gave her a half bow, and then said. "Gentleman, may I present to you the true Queen Mary of Scots, and not the one whom all had thought murdered."
A stunned silence filled the room.
"The Queen is dead; long live the Queen." They all roared!
"Harry Houdini" The Eighth Wonder of the World. The sign read. Boldly, loudly, and just the way he wanted it to do.
Harry adjusted his tie and grinned at the mirror image of himself in the box-office window of the Globe Theater, which had been newly remodeled and the invention of Edison to project moving pictures installed and a huge screen. None of it affected him, however, as there were now two possible venues in the grand old Shakespearean theater. The live stage and the moving stage as the Brits were wont to call it.
The Parisians had gotten their first glimpse of the new cinema as it was being called nowadays when the Lumiere Brothers had scared them out of half a day's wine chugging when a huge train had appeared to be running amok into the theater.
He chuckled. How naive we are as humans to think that everything that can go wrong, or even right is about us. We are but specks on the great mantle of God's cloak called Creation. He mused to himself with a twinkle in his eye. He tweaked his mustache, swept his coal colored hair back from his forehead and bowed to a lovely lady who had stopped near him.
"Mademoiselle. Your timing is impeccable."
"And your hubris equally so." She teased.
He smiled and then gave his sister a big hug, as she did him back.
"Well then, shall we see the new play? I hear it's a robust one that Shakespeare hammered out over the weekend. Will spoke to me on the Tesla Phone he and Edison had put together this last year and told me everything about it. Something to do with a King who sells out his country and his citizens in order to accumulate their wealth."
"Rather sounds like some merchants these days. More intent on grabbing wealth, than spreading quality of service and product." She announced somewhat stiffly.
He gave her a double take. "Lady Shareen?"
She gave him a startled look. "How could you know that?"
"I've heard the spiel many times by now, having been and continuing to be best friends with her and her bronzed giant mate, Lord Graystone."
"Ah yes." She admitted. "I rather fancy that would make a difference. Shall we?" She offered him her arm and he took it. They went to the front of the old theater, which had been polished up and repainted for the new act he was presenting later in the evening. The Shakespeare side was not quite so rowdy looking, as Will tended to be more laid back and comfortable with staying in the background, rather than garnering stage presence. Though he was known to occasionally dress as a maiden when one of the female actresses failed to show up.
Lately, the Brits had accepted the introduction of women into the acting profession, which had taken a great load off those men more inclined to close lips with a beautiful lass, than a handsome rogue.
The Ticket Taker smiled at Houdini. "It's so good to see you again, Harry."
"Good to be here, Mary. This here is my sister, Wendy."
"So nice to meet you, Miss Houdini."
"Oh, my last name is not Houdini. That's just a stage name my brother concocted. My real last name is Astor Smith."
"I like that." The Ticker Taker replied, then handed the both of them a ticket. "Old Will is personally taking tickets this afternoon. Something about wanting to see the audience reaction in every way possible."
Houdini winked at Mary. "Thank you. But that shouldn't surprise you; Old Willie is somewhat of a perfectionist. After all this rhyming poetry is truly despicable when it comes to writing it. I could never do such if you paid me a million pounds to do so."
Mary smiled. "Not that you need the money any."
He winked at her, and turned to Wendy, his sister. "Shall we?"
They entered past two marble columns sculpted with demi-gods and fierce mythological creatures. Wendy looked at the creatures a bit fearfully. "Good thing those awful things only exist in the imagination."
Houdini didn't remove that thought from her mind, even though he had personally been responsible for removing at least two of the monsters from existence with the help of the Brotherhood of Baker Street.
"Yes. It would be a...uh...extremely difficult thing to do, wouldn't it?"
Old Will...who was in fact no older than Harry, dimpled when Wendy was brought to him to offer her ticket up. He immediately bowed and took her left hand and kissed it. "Who would have thought such a lovely young creature could ever have been related to Harry here?"
She dimpled back at him, touched by his words. "And I'm sure Harry agrees, don't you Harry?"
But Harry was gone. He had seen something in one of the top balconies. Something that should not have been there. He probably should have warned Will and Wendy, but he didn't want to arouse any fears that weren't based in fact, so he just swept up the heavily carpeted, red cloth that lined the swirling spiral of steps to the next floor, leaving them perplexed in the rear.
"I guess Harry's found someone else to chase." William said, an amused look on his face.
Wendy turned to look at his face. "Truly. My brother has wandering eyes?"
"Oh, please forgive me for being so boorish. I didn't realize you two didn't speak of such things." William said, his face reddening with a blush.
She smiled at him. "No matter. It fits rather nicely with his larger than life image now, doesn't it?"
"I imagine so. I hope he doesn't miss the prologue. I wrote it especially for him in honor of his show tonight."
"Really." She said, thrilled to hear it. "What is it called?"
William gave her a long look and then said. "The Fall of Man through Narcissism."
She laughed. "Oh Harry will find that ever so funny."
William let out a relieved breath of air, and then offered his arm. "Come now. He may be late, but I still have time to show you to the box seats. Best seats for hearing everything perfectly."
"I thought the acoustics had been much improved."
"Oh, they have, but there are still certain portions of the old theater that drop words. This way."
He guided her along two aisles, then up a short sweep of steps into a box seat that had room for four.
"Oh, but this is much too large for just Harry and I." She said as he seated her.
"Don't worry. I will be seated behind the two of you watching the stage...and my actors like a hawk!"
She burst into laughter. He gave her a good-bye kiss on her right hand, then hurried back to the ticket taking spot and hurriedly took tickets from what looked to be a Lord and Lady. She thought it might be Whittleson, but she couldn't be for certain because of the lighting in the house being dimmed.
Harry reached the second level of the theater and went searching through the rows of seats he had seen earlier where the apparition had first appeared. If it had really been there, his senses would light up like a roman candle when he came close. It was when he went to the far right of the level and near the sweeping stairs that lifted to the Booth of Royalty, where the Good Queen Mary of Scots had perpetually reserved seats, that he felt the essence penetrate his senses.
It tasted to his awareness like foul soup that had been embodied with sewage and rotting corpses. Hovering over the Queen's chair was something barely visible, but it had enough of a presence for him to see its general outline. Male. It saw him, but ignored him, its eyes on something to its right. Harry looked that way just as Conan burst into the booth, carrying an odd looking scanner in his right hand and a bag of salt in the other. "Be gone, foul demon!" Conan had cried out, and then flung the salt at the presence. The salt spread into a light cloud of particle and enveloped the presence.
The lighting in the house, which was fueled by the new Tesla power generators, flickered horribly, dropping the theater in utter darkness one moment, and then flaring brightly the next. This went on for several seconds accompanied by a high pitched wailing sound that everyone in the audience below could hear and clapped hands over their ears, or fainted from the intensity of it.
Conan ran closer to the presence, and then pulled out a mirror. He held it towards the presence. "This is what you have become. Shall you still call yourself human and claim that Divinity?"
The presence suddenly became as solid as a real person for several long moments that Harry would never forget. It was a tall gentleman with a face that had been scarred horribly. But his eyes were that of a child's. He fell to his knees before Conan. "Father, forgive me."
Then he vanished utterly. Every light in the house went to full blast a long second, and then fell back to their normal luminosity. Within the theater the audience slowly stood up.
Will stood nervously at his ticket-taking spot as everyone turned slowly around to face him. He was going to be thrown bodily out into the street. He could visualize it even that moment, as the men and women fixed their eyes on him, but then a very, very strange thing happened. They all broke into applause. A standing ovation.
"Hear, hear!"The shouts rang through the levels of the theater.
Harry and Conan stood at the edge of the Queen's box and beamed. "He really deserves the recognition, even if not for this once."
Harry smiled. "I trust that Will will not disappoint them." And laughed at his double entendre.
Conan smiled and patted him on the back. "As to the father thing, it was not I he was asking for forgiveness from."
"I rather fancied so, Conan, you really don't look like the fatherly type." Harry laughed.
Conan gave Harry a hard look for a moment, and then laughed. "I suppose I don't." But then as he was exiting the booth, he turned back and said. "But I rather fashion you will not be either."
He left the booth barking like a seal with laughter so loud that some below looked up to see what was going on.
Harry hurried down the steps to the booth for him and his sister, entered and sat beside her. "Will's off to a nice start, isn't he?"
She gave him a searching look. "So you say, Harry. So you say!"