Blue Carbuncle and
Sherlock's Real Last Name
For sure there is a Santa Claus, a Sherlock Hotmes and elves,
And in this delightful fantasy -- well, read it for yourselves.
Mysteries abound in the Yuletide season. Not among the least of these has long
been "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," and we do not mean the
theft and recovery of the Countess of Morcar's gem. The true mystery of that
sensational tale is to be found in its opening line: "I had called upon
my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, with the
intention of wisliing him the compliments of the season."
Now anyone with an ounce of sensitivity has to wonder about those words from
Dr. Watson's pen. Watson and his wife Mary were, if we are to go by the facts
in STUD and SIGN, without kith or kin in England. Both were warm and friendly
folk-so why-didn't they invite their good friend and known loner Sherlock Holmes
over for Christmas? And if he excused himself, why wait until two days later
to wander over and wish him a happy holiday?
A curious set of events, that. The two-day gap also figures in another less
obvious curiosity in BLUE. When Watson called Holmes, he found him apparently
having just examined Henry Baker's hat. Not much later, Holmes sends an ad to
the papers in an attempt to find Baker. This series of events is all well and
good, but why has Holmes waited so long to act upon either matter when he received
the hat and goose on Christmas morning, two days before?
Now we have two little mysteries. Both of them could easily be explained if
Holmes was busy on Christmas and shortly thereafter. In fact, although Holmes
said of Peterson, "He brought round both hat and goose to me on Christmas
morning," it is entirely possible that Holmes was not at home at that time.
Mrs. Hudson could easily have accepted the items for him in his absence. Assuming
that, we find that our two earlier mysteries are solved -- Holmes wasn't home
on Christmas. But now a new mystery appears:Where was he?
With his own family, perhaps? Outside of brother Mycroft -- dear old big, fat
Mycroft -- we know very little of the Holmes clan. Sherlock makes a vague allusion
to "country squires" and a connection between his grandmother and
Vernet, but nothing more. Lacking evidence from that quarter, suppose we examine
it from a genetic perspective and narrow down the kind of people Sherlock and
Mycroft were descended from. From their example, we know their forbears must
have been: 1. Extremely observant. 2. Extremely long-lived (both men are now
in their 130's). 3. Fluent in almost every conceivable language. Sherlock never
seems to encounter any language he does not know a little of-he even works on
the docks among the Chinese in DYIN. 4. Good people, with a sense of duty to
humanity. 5. Probably mythic. Studies have been made on such things as insanity
and heredity, and alcoholism and heredity, but none yet on mythicness and heredity.
One would think a link exists.
So where does this leave us? One strong possibility for Sherlock's and Mycroft's
true father comes immediately to mind. About whom but the father of Sherlock
Holmes could someone say: "He sees you when you're sleeping; he knows when
you're awake; he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness'
Yes, sometime in the 1840's, Santa Claus did come to town. And this time he
wasn't bringing toys. After centuries of life among the elves, jolly old St.
Nick was long overdue for a mate. Whether she was the first Mrs. Claus, or merely
another in a Watson-like line of wives, we cannot be sure. But perhaps it was
this trait of Watson's, so like Holmes's father, that helped spark the two mens'
Naturally, with so famous a father, Sherlock and Mycroft would have wanted
to tone down their connection as they entered the world themselves. In hiding
their true last name, the two still wanted to pay some respect to the old man,
so it would seem they chose his favorite syllable and turned it into a pseudonym:
Ho-ho-Holmes. And even after the two men were out in the world with careers
of their own, they could still come home at least once a year to the North Pole
and help with the family business during the busy season.
Thus finishes our last mystery of BLUE, and Holmes's absence is explained.
It's no wonder Watson was wishing him a mild "compliments of the season."
What can you say to a man who has just had the most Christmassy Christmas of
all? Or perhaps Watson was merely peeved at the lump of coal in his stocking
Now, dont go telling us that theres no Santa Claus. Youve
never seen his obituary in the London Times, either, have you? Case closed.
(Printed in Plugs & Dottles, January 1986)