The Adventure of the
G. F. Forrest
Misfits: A Book of Parodies
As I pushed open the door, I was greeted by the strains of a ravishing melody. Warlock Bones was playing dreamily on the accordion, and his keen, clear-cut face was almost hidden from view by the dense smoke-wreaths, which curled upwards from an exceedingly filthy briar-wood pipe. As soon as he saw me, he drew a final choking sob from the instrument, and rose to his feet with a smile of welcome.
"Ah, good morning, Goswell," he said cheerily. "But why do you press your trousers under the bed?"
It was true — quite true. This extraordinary observer, the terror of every cowering criminal, the greatest thinker that the world has ever known, had ruthlessly laid bare the secret of my life. Ah, it was true.
"But how did you know?" I asked in a stupor of amazement.
He smiled at my discomfiture.
"I have made a special study of trousers," he answered, "And of beds. I am rarely deceived. But, setting that knowledge, for the moment, on one side, have you forgotten the few days I spent with you three months ago? I saw you do it then."
He could never cease to astound me, this lynx-eyed sleuth of crime. I could never master the marvellous simplicity of his methods. I could only wonder and admire — a privilege, for which I can never be sufficiently grateful. I seated myself on the floor, and, embracing his left knee with both my arms in an ecstasy of passionate adoration, gazed up inquiringly into his intellectual countenance.
He rolled up his sleeve, and, exposing his thin nervous arm, injected half a pint of prussic acid with incredible rapidity. This operation finished, he glanced at the clock.
"In twenty-three or twenty-four minutes," he observed, "a man will probably call to see me. He has a wife, two children, and three false teeth, one of which will very shortly have to be renewed. He is a successful stockbroker of about forty-seven, wears Jaegers, and is an enthusiastic patron of Missing Word Competitions."
"How do you know all this?" I interrupted breathlessly, tapping his tibia with fond impatience.
Bones smiled his inscrutable smile.
"He will come," he continued, "to ask my advice about some jewels which were stolen from his house at Richmond last Thursday week. Among them was a diamond necklace of quite exceptional value."
"Explain," I cried in rapturous admiration. "Please explain."
"My dear Goswell," he laughed, "you are really very dense. Will you never learn my methods? The man is a personal friend of mine. I met him yesterday in the City, and he asked to come and talk over his loss with me this morning. Voila tout. Deduction, my good Goswell, mere deduction."
"But the jewels? Are the police on the track?"
"Very much off it. Really our police are the veriest bunglers. They have already arrested twenty-seven perfectly harmless and unoffending persons, including a dowager duchess, who is still prostrate with the shock; and, unless I am very much mistaken, they will arrest my friend's wife this afternoon. She was in Moscow at the time of the robbery, but that, of course, is of little consequence to these amiable dolts."
"And have you any clue as to the whereabouts of the jewels?"
"A fairly good one," he answered. "So good, in fact, that I can at this present moment lay my hands upon them. It is a very simple case, one of the simplest I have ever had to deal with, and yet in its way a strange one, presenting several difficulties to the average observer. The motive of the robbery is a little puzzling. The thief appears to have been actuated not by the ordinary greed of gain so much as by an intense love of self-advertisement."
"I can hardly imagine," I said with some surprise, "a burglar, qua burglar, wishing to advertise his exploits to the world."
"True, Goswell. You show your usual common sense. But you have not the imagination, without which a detective can do nothing. Your position is that of those energetic, if somewhat beef-witted enthusiasts, the police. They are frankly puzzled by the whole affair. To me, personally, the case is as clear as daylight."
"That I can understand," I murmured with a reverent pat of his shin.
"The actual thief," he continued, "for various reasons I am unwilling to produce. But upon the jewels, as I said just now, I can lay my hand at any moment. Look here!"
He disentangled himself from my embrace, and walked to a patent safe in a corner of the room. From this he extracted a large jewel case, and, opening it, disclosed a set of the most superb diamonds. In the midst a magnificent necklace winked and flashed in the wintry sunlight. The sight took my breath away, and for a time I grovelled in speechless admiration before him.
"But — but how" — I stammered at last, and stopped, for he was regarding my confusion with evident amusement.
"I stole them," said Warlock Bones.
(Prepared by Adrian Nebbett for Gaslight)