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22nd December 2005


The Case of the Missing Magneto - Part 2

John Whapshott and Graham Staples bring you part 2 of the latest Herlock Sholmes adventure. Can they solve Whitworth's dilemma?

Sholmes was up and about when I awoke the next morning. He had already breakfasted, because there was not a scrap of food anywhere.

'The game is afoot, Jotson!' said Sholmes.

'What do you mean, Sholmes?'

'No idea. It's just something else I always say.'

'But this clue of yours -?'

'Ah yes! I have been examining it with my microscope, telescope, horoscope and kaleidoscope, and I have been conducting many chemical tests on it.'

'May I see it, Sholmes?'

'Certainly, my dear Jotson. I would be amused to see what deductions you can make. You know my methods, Jotson.'

'In that case, Sholmes, I will require a large quantity of cocaine first.'

'Here, Jotson,' said Sholmes with a smile. 'See what you can make of this.' He showed me a small sheet of paper, which was entirely blank. I examined it for some minutes, but could find nothing which would shed the smallest light upon the case. I had to confess that I was utterly baffled.

'I have to confess that I am utterly baffled,' I said.

Sholmes smiled, grimaced, leered, frowned, grinned and scowled. 'I am not surprised,' said he. 'It was only in the wee small hours that I finally gained the germ of an inkling which, given time, may yield us a lead. Look!'

I took the magnetoHe turned the sheet of paper over. On it was written 'I took the magneto and you must pay me £50,000 to get it back. Ha ha ha! Mori.'

I gazed at it for several minutes.

'What do you make of it, Sholmes?' I asked.

'Well, it is all we have to go on,' said Sholmes. 'I'm sure I will gain inspiration when I fiddle with my Stradivarius.'

'You'll go blind,' I said, in my medical capacity. But it was useless to protest. From the next room came a sound as of several cats being strangled, and someone dragging their nails down a blackboard.

'So Mrs Spudson has managed to find more cats and a blackboard,' muttered Sholmes grimly, as he prepared to play the violin (as it was called in Victorian times).

Whitworth was as good as his word (his word was 'euphonious'). He appeared promptly at 9.43. 'Have you solved the case, Mr Sholmes?' were his first words - he was a precocious and precognisant baby.

'I believe so,' said Sholmes.

'Sholmes!' I exclaimed.

'But then I believe the Earth is flat,' said Sholmes cheerfully.

'But who is Mori?' I asked, remembering the note from the previous day.

'Ah!' exclaimed Sholmes. 'That is very interesting.' Whitworth and I looked interested.

'You will remember my old adversary, Professor Moriarty!' he exclaimed.

'Indeed!' I exclaimed.

He had a shorter brother by the name of Mori'Well, what you may not know is that he had a shorter brother by the name of Mori!' he exclaimed.

'Indeed I did not!' I exclaimed.

'I thought not,' smiled Sholmes. 'No-one has ever heard of Professor Moriarty - even fewer have heard of his brother.'

'What is his business?' I asked.

'He conducts Poles,' said Sholmes.

'What - opinion polls?' asked Whitworth.

'No,' said Sholmes. 'He conducts an orchestra comprised entirely of Polish people.'

'But how is he connected with this crime?' I asked.

'His apparent respectability is merely a screen for his criminal activities,' said Sholmes.

'Isn't conducting an orchestra of Poles bad enough?' I demanded

'Worse!' said Sholmes. 'Mori's real business is obtaining vital parts of motorised velocipedes and then demanding large sums of money for their return.'

'So he's a restorer!' said Whitworth with feeling.

'Er - let's not pursue that one,' said Sholmes tactfully. 'But it is true that we will need to delve into the underworld of motorised velocipedes if we are to locate the infamous Mori.'

'I shall accompany you!' I exclaimed.

'Very well,' said Sholmes. 'But first, good doctor, let's say you and I acquire some culture. I hear there is to be a fine concert at the Wigmore Hall this evening.'

The evening was balmy as we strolled back to Shaker Street after the concert.

'A fine evening's music, as you said, Sholmes,' I remarked.

'Indeed, doctor.'

'Excellent composers, each one. Chopin, Komeda, Kilar, Baird, Paderewski, Moszkowski.'

'I agree.'

'Excellent Polish composers.'

'Polish?'

'Why yes, Sholmes. I am something of a fanatic concerning Polish composers.'

'I had no idea.'

'That was why I was so eager to hear Polish music written by Polish composers played by Polish people in The Polish Orchestra of Poland. But I didn't recognise the short man who was conducting. Did you, Sholmes?'

There was a long pause.

'So,' said Sholmes slowly, 'let me summarise the situation, Jotson. We have just spent three hours in the presence of a short man conducting Poles.'

'Yes, indeed!' I exclaimed.

'And we will tomorrow commence our search for Mori.'

'Yes, indeed!'

'Who is a short man who conducts Poles.'

'Yes, indeed!' As always, it appeared that Sholmes' thinking was much in advance of my own.

'Sholmes,' I confessed, 'I confess I cannot grasp the line of reasoning your amazing mind is taking.'

'One moment,' said Sholmes. He turned smartly into an alley and disappeared into the darkness. The next moment I heard an indescribable, barely-human cry which may be designated as Ohhhhhhhhhhhshhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiitttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next moment Sholmes re-emerged from the alley.

'What was that cry?' I cried.

' A cat,' said Sholmes, who seemed to be much moved.

'A cat?' I asked, incredulously.

'Yes!' snapped Sholmes. He was silent for the rest of the walk back to Shaker Street, and immediately inside our apartment, he shut himself in his room, from whence came an odd sound of sobbing.

The next day Sholmes, Whitworth and myself started our search for the malignant Mori. It took us all over London, to its darkest, dingiest and oiliest recesses.

Each time was the same. Sholmes, armed only with a copy of RealRustbucket's Gazetteer Of Dodgy Dealers, conducted us to parts of London we had never dreamed existed: Southampton, Wallsend, Cork and The Firth of Forth were just a few of the places we visited that day. The premises we sought were inevitably at the end of a darkened alley at the end of a darkened lane at the end of a darkened street.

Outside each was an assortment of rusting heaps, which from the illiterate hand-written descriptions attached we learnt were completely restored, in perfect working order and guaranteed to start every time.

Our final visit was to a particularly dingy part of the dregs of the city. Tenements loomed either side of dripping alleys and [15 pages of description cut. Ed]. Only the lowest of the low, the outcasts and pariahs of society, frequented this forgotten part of the great metropolis. Estate agents' offices abounded, and I saw brass plates denoting the headquarters of the various political parties which so enhance our land. I was approached by a very charming young lady.

'Fancy a shag?' she asked me.

'Most certainly!' I replied. 'I have been looking for an example of the Phalacrocorax Aristotelis bird for many months. I believe it is related to the cormorant. Are you a keen ornithologist?'

'I does everything for the right price, ducky,' she said.

She led me upstairs into a tawdry room in one of the darkened buildings. I thought I heard Sholmes call out my name, but it was too late.

Gentle reader, I must confess that what transpired next was not related in any way to ornithology. Suffice it to say that money changed hands, and it was a new experience for me. When I emerged from the building Sholmes and Whitworth were still waiting for me.

'I trust that was beneficial to your health, dear doctor,' remarked Sholmes with a smile.

'Indeed,' I replied. 'And to my bank balance, for I am now fifty pounds richer. Sometimes there are distinct advantages in being a medical man!'

Through the gloom inside the motorised velocipede emporium, we could just make out a couple of figures lounging idly amongst the indefinable cobweb-covered wrecks. Holmes immediately assumed command of the situation, and spoke in the language of the motorised velocipede world.

Where's the chief oily rag bloke, eh!

'Oi! You lot! Where's the chief oily rag bloke, eh!'

'Wojjerwonnimfor?' muttered one of the denizens in a language which certainly wasn't that of our Glorious Queen.

'Shift yer butt!' ordered Sholmes in that strange language.

'Wossitwerf?'

'It is worth,' said Sholmes magisterially, 'you avoiding the hangman's noose if you co-operate.'

'Ere,' said the man, 'you ain't a motorised velocipede rider after all.'

'I perceive,' replied Sholmes, 'that you have fitted that Double Overboard Beezer with an incorrect cranial backplate thrust locator which will undoubtedly adversely affect the underhinge springs of the lozenge adjuster!'

'Cor blimey!' exclaimed the oily man. 'Strike me pink! Crikey! Cor strike a light!'

'That's enough phoney working class exclamations - Mori!' said Sholmes sternly. I heard Whitworth gasp beside me. And he heard me gasp beside him. So we heard each other gasp. We naturally heard ourselves gasp, but my point is that we also - anyway…

'How did you know it was me, Mr Sholmes?' said Mori.

'Simple!' replied Sholmes. 'The fact that someone was awake during the day in a motorised velocipede emporium is so rare as to lead to only one conclusion.'

Mori gasped. I gasped. And I heard Mori (That's enough! Ed).

'Now,' said Sholmes, 'you must hand over the missing magneto!'

'Shan't!' replied Mori. 'You'll never get it unless you pay me £50,000.'

'We shall see about that,' said Sholmes smoothly. 'Jotson, have you your trusty revolver?'

'Er, no, Sholmes,' I said. 'You told me not to bring it in case someone got hurt.'

'Oh yes, I recall.'

'And you will never find the magneto, Mr Sholmes, because I have hidden it where no man can find it.'

'Herlock Sholmes is no ordinary man,' said Sholmes.

'I can vouch for that!' I murmured in appreciation of our long nights together.

'I shall find it through sharp observation and clinical deduction,' said Sholmes. He went across to a cupboard. 'Am I warm?' he asked.

'Cold!' exclaimed Mori.

'What about over here?' 'Still cold!'

'Mr Sholmes,' said Whitworth. 'Might I make humble suggestion?'

'You may,' said Sholmes. Whitworth whispered something to Sholmes which I could not hear.

'I have decided,' Sholmes announced, 'to leave this emporium and pursue my enquiries elsewhere. Come, Jotson!'

We left the emporium and returned to Shaker Street. Sholmes busied himself in his room, while Whitworth regaled me with enthralling tales from the world of motorised velocipedes.

I was awoken by Sholmes shaking me by the shoulder, knee and neck.

'Come, my dear Jotson!' said Sholmes. 'We must return to the emporium immediately!'

'Pity,' said Whitworth. 'I was just describing to friend Jotson how the splunge connector on my 1853 Deepurple Black Night became separated from the contrarotating thrust-rod…'

'Fascinating, my dear Whitworth,' said Sholmes. 'But we must hurry if we are to regain the magneto!' Whitworth leapt from the chair like a sack of wet cement.

'You have found it, Sholmes!' he exclaimed.

'I believe so!'

'Then my plan - '

'Yes, anyway, we must hurry!' said Sholmes hastily.

Continued next Thursday...


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