The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes

By Liz Hedgecock

Crime & mystery, Short stories, Comedy & satire

Paperback, eBook

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326
2 mins

 

The Case of the Yellow Book

I watched as Sherlock Holmes, eyes narrowed, released a drop from his pipette into a flask of colourless liquid. There was a fizz, a puff of smoke, and the flask’s contents turned electric blue.

‘Amazing, Holmes!’ I cried. ‘What does it do?’

‘Absolutely nothing,’ Holmes smiled. ‘But it is rather attractive, don’t you think?’

I coughed as a pungent smell wafted towards me. ‘The aroma, less so.’ The front door bell jangled heartily and I flapped at the air in front of me. ‘Sometimes, Holmes, your timing is as off as your experiments.’

Billy the page appeared moments later, smirking. ‘Pleased to announce Mr . . . er . . . ’

‘Wilde. Oscar Wilde.’ The owner of the name stepped forward with a flourish of his bowler hat. He was a tall, broad-shouldered young man, wearing rather a loud checked suit. ‘Do I have the honour of addressing Mr Sherlock Holmes?’

‘You do indeed,’ Holmes said, looking him up and down.

‘I see that you are sizing me up,’ the young man observed with a smile. ‘Indeed, people who judge by appearances are the only sensible ones — no! That wasn’t it!’ He frowned. ‘I may as well come to the point. My notebook, full of epigrams which I have polished to a high shine, has been stolen!’

‘Your notebook?’ I asked, mystified.

‘Yes. I am a writer . . . a poet at present, and a student, but one day I hope to write plays, novels . . . ’ He waved his hands in the air as if conducting an orchestra, then froze. ‘But without my book, I am lost!’

‘Hmm.’ Holmes steepled his fingers and closed his eyes. ‘When did you last see the book?’

‘Two days ago. I took it out to make a note about a swallow and a jewel. I made a regrettable blot in the second line which I would give my eye-teeth to see again!’ Wilde’s expression of woe would have been almost comical if it had not been obvious how deeply he was affected.

‘I hope that will not be necessary,’ said Holmes. ‘Where do you usually keep the book?’

‘Next to my heart, in the inside pocket of my jacket.’

‘Of course. And did you replace the book there when you made the note?’

Wilde’s brow furrowed with the effort of recall. ‘No — I left it on the table next to me, in my rooms at Magdalen. I sensed that inspiration would strike again, and I did not want to waste time. Oh!’ He put his head in his hands. ‘What a fool I was!’

‘Mr Wilde, please try not to worry. I am sure that we can recover your book.’ Holmes regarded the young man over his steepled fingers. ‘What does it look like?’

‘It is of an ordinary size, but its binding is a vivid dandelion yellow. Even the humblest flowers may have their own beauty.’ Wilde’s hand automatically went to his pocket, and he winced.

‘And what have your activities been between the last time you saw the book and the moment when you missed it?’

‘Let me see . . . I made the note and put the book down. Ah, and then my aunt arrived unexpectedly!’ Wilde grinned. ‘She likes to surprise me and take me out to tea. She worries that I don’t get enough to eat at college.’

Holmes’s face brightened. ‘Indeed! And where did you go for your tea?’

‘To a tearoom near the college with a wonderful Madeira cake. I have already enquired for my book there, to no avail.’

‘And after that?’

‘I walked Aunt Mabel to the station to catch the London train. We had to rush rather as she had a ticket for the opera.’ Wilde smiled fondly. ‘She’s a wonderful woman, Aunt Mabel. Formidable. Seventy-two and sharp as a hatpin.’

‘Does she encourage you in your literary career, Mr Wilde?’

‘Not exactly.’ Wilde crossed one leg over the other, revealing a sock patterned entirely at odds with his suit. ‘Aunt Mabel only reads popular novels. I presented her with a volume of my poetry once, and she looked over her lorgnette at me — oh, with such an expression on her face!’

*

To find out whether Holmes solves the case, visit the book on Amazon!




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