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Grace Dunbar, philanthropist and suffragette, can also
be seen in these previous issues of Electro-Graphic Monthly courtesy
of her literary agent Sandy Kozinn:
2004 . . .
Miss Dunbar's Letter of Introduction
Request for Advice from
Mrs. Grace Dunbar Gibson
The Dark Lantern
Jackknife on the Mantel
Members of the League,
I call upon my fellow League members to advise me.
As most of
you are aware, I have spend the years of my widowhood engaged in
the work of furthering the education of young persons, especially
those who might not otherwise have the opportunity for such education
because of financial difficulties. Ive done this remembrance
of my duties as governess to Senator Gibsons children; it
seemed only fitting to me that the Senators wealth should
be used so that others might learn as well.
To this end,
I have established a number of schools in London, where the need
is the greatest, creating my own curriculum for the students, whose
only requirement for admission is the ability and willingness to
best to me to abandon such subjects as Latin, Greek, and drawing
in order that the students might learn the proper use of the English
language alas, some of the poor things dont even have
a single book in their homes and the study of practical mathematics,
thus enabling them to attain positions in which they might earn
a good living. They are also taught some history, philosophy, etc.,
so that they might have sufficient "general knowledge"
to converse easily should they, through their efforts coupled with
their education, rise in the world.
It is, I feel,
important that the students should also be aware of London as a
whole, since so many of them have previously led lives confined
to the districts in which they have been born and live. I personal
escort groups of children to various museums and to such places
as St. Pauls, Fleet Street, and The City, in order that they
might understand from whence power truly arises.
shock and consternation to discover that in the very seat of financial
power, beggars line the streets. I was even more disturbed when
we passed one particular beggar selling pencils. The man had a pleasant
face which was, however, hidden in great measure behind a large,
neatly combed grizzled beard which matched the untrimmed grey hair
on his head. He began to chat with various of the students and even
the teachers among my group, speaking to them in educated tones
of the historical sites and famous buildings near us.
was he, and so interestingly did he present his information, interspersing
facts with humor that held each childs interest, that I was
loath to interrupt the lesson, for lesson it was. However, I soon
realized that it was quite impossible that the situation should
continue; the teachers, as instructed, moved the children on.
As I passed
the beggar, he suddenly winked, screwed up one side of his face
so that he became instantly hideous, and whispered out of one side
of his mouth "Dont tell Holmes Im at it again,
please." In a moment his face became that of a normal man again,
and I moved on without a word.
Upon my return
home, I consulted Dr. Watsons chronicles, and soon realized
that the man he had described in the story he called "The Twisted
Lip" was the beggar I had met that day, although twenty-some
years older. Therein lies my dilemma.
I met Mr.
Neville St. Clair that day by mere chance. To my knowledge he was
doing no harm, and indeed, if he passed his knowledge on to others
besides my students, perhaps some good. On the other hand, according
to Dr. Watsons records, Mr. St. Clair had promised never to
beg on the streets of London again.
Was Dr. Watson
correct in all his details? Had the promise been made? If so, was
I, as no party to the original agreement, obliged to inform Sherlock
Holmes of what I had discovered? Two decades and more had passed;
did I know all the facts? Were funds badly needed for an illness
in the family? Had Mr. St. Clair been unable to retain a position
more suited to his station in life? Did Mrs. St. Clair agree that
she would rather have a happy begging husband than one who was unhappy
in some other profession?
My dear fellow
League members, please advise me, for this is one instance where
I am unsure that doing the obviously right thing might not lead
to great harm.
appreciation for your assistance and advice in this matter, I remain,
Grace Dunbar Gibson