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Sherlock Holmes 3-in-1 Box Set
The Blue Carbuncle
The Red-Headed League
re-told in twenty-first century Easy-English
© 2016 Mark Williams
Published by Odyssey
Sherlock Holmes Easy-English 3-in-1 Box Set: The Blue Carbuncle, Silver Blaze, The Red-Headed League re-told in 21st century Easy-English (Easy-English Classics: Sherlock Holmes)
The Blue Carbuncle 1.
The Blue Carbuncle 2.
The Blue Carbuncle 3.
The Blue Carbuncle 4.
The Blue Carbuncle 5.
The Blue Carbuncle 6.
The Blue Carbuncle 7.
The Blue Carbuncle 8.
The Blue Carbuncle 9.
The Blue Carbuncle 10.
The Blue Carbuncle 11.
The Blue Carbuncle 12.
The Blue Carbuncle 13.
The Blue Carbuncle 14.
The Blue Carbuncle 15.
The Blue Carbuncle 16.
Silver Blaze 2.
Silver Blaze 3.
Silver Blaze 4.
Silver Blaze 5.
Silver Blaze 6.
Silver Blaze 7.
Silver Blaze 8.
Silver Blaze 9.
Silver Blaze 10.
Silver Blaze 11.
Silver Blaze 12.
Silver Blaze 13.
Silver Blaze 14.
Silver Blaze 15.
Silver Blaze 16.
Silver Blaze 17.
Silver Blaze 18.
Silver Blaze 19.
Silver Blaze 20.
The Red-Headed League 1.
The Red-Headed League 2.
The Red-Headed League 3.
The Red-Headed League 4.
The Red-Headed League 5.
The Red-Headed League 6.
The Red-Headed League 7.
The Red-Headed League 8.
The Red-Headed League 9.
The Red-Headed League 10.
The Red-Headed League 11.
The Red-Headed League 12.
The Red-Headed League 13.
The Red-Headed League 14.
The Red-Headed League 15.
Thank you for reading
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Also By mark williams
London, England. 1889.
It was Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day, as I made my way carefully through the icy London streets. A cold wind blew light, fluffy snowflakes about and I hoped it wouldn’t snow too heavily that afternoon.
The streets were icy and slippery and I found it easier to walk on the straw strewn across the road than on the pavements. By the time I got to my destination I was absolutely freezing. It was high time I bought myself a new coat and gloves!
I stomped my boots on the first of the stone steps outside 221b Baker Street, so I would not traipse ice and grit into Mrs. Hudson’s hallway. It had been some time since I had lived here, sharing an apartment with my dear friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and I still had a key, so I unlocked the door and let myself in.
“Mrs. Hudson!” I shouted through to the kitchen where I knew the lady of the house would be busy. Partly as a courtesy to let her know I was here; more in the hope she would see me shivering and offer a warm pot of tea.
Which of course she did, bless her.
“Merry Christmas, Dr. Watson,” Mrs. Hudson said as she came into the hallway, wiping floury hands on her flowery apron. “My, you look quite frozen. Hurry yourself along up to Mr. Holmes this instant and I shall bring you both a pot of steaming hot tea.”
“That would be most welcome, Mrs. Hudson,” I said.
“And just look at my floury hands,” the landlady went on. “Why, Dr. Watson, you must surely have known I was making your favourite scones today. The first batch will be coming out of the oven in no time.”
“Splendid, Mrs. Hudson,” I said. “Splendid. And with a pat of fresh butter and your wonderful home-made strawberry jam, of course.”
“Of course,” chuckled Mrs. Hudson.
I leaned in to Mrs. Hudson and whispered, “Don’t tell anyone I said so, Mrs. H., but between the two of us you make far better scones than my dear wife, bless her.”
“Oh, get away with you, Dr. Watson,” Mrs. Hudson blushed, and she shuffled back into the kitchen, chuckling to herself.
I made my way up the stairs to the floor occupied by my dear friend, and knocked once.
“Come in, Watson,” Holmes called out.
I pushed open the door and the warmth from the blazing fire met me. I put my hat on the hat-stand just inside the door and began taking off my gloves, scarf and overcoat.
“And just how did you know it was me, Holmes?” I asked. “The way I walked up the stairs, perhaps? Or the way I shuffled along the landing?”
Holmes dismissed my question with a wave of his hand.
“Really, Watson,” he said, “it did not need any special detective skills to know of your arrival. First off, the bell did not ring, so clearly the visitor had a key. The upstairs rooms are empty right now, which means only three people are privileged to have a key to this house. Mrs. Hudson and I, of course, and your good self.”
I glanced across at my friend. “You said, first off, Holmes. So there’s something else, I take it?”
“Secondly,” continued Holmes, “you called out to Mrs. Hudson while in the hallway, in that booming voice of yours. A discussion about scones and strawberry jam, if I am not mistaken.”
I smiled as I put my coat on the peg and walked across to warm my hands in front of the burning coals. It was always so obvious when Holmes explained his logic.
My friend Sherlock Holmes was laid out on the sofa, feet up, wearing his favourite purple dressing gown. As a rule Holmes only got dressed if he was going out or if he was expecting visitors. He had been smoking his pipe, and reading the morning’s newspapers, which were now crumpled on the floor.
But what immediately caught my eye were the magnifying glass and the forceps on a wooden chair stood next to the sofa, and, hanging from the back of the same wooden chair, a battered old hat.
I knew immediately this hat did not belong to Holmes, but the magnifying glass and forceps did, and they told me the hat must be a clue in some new case Holmes was working on.
“I see you are busy, Holmes,” I said, as I made myself comfortable by the fire. “A Christmas mystery to solve?”
“It is nothing special,” Holmes said. “Just a lost hat handed in to me by Peterson, the Commissionaire, along with a lost goose.”
I stared at Holmes in surprise. “A goose, did you say?”
Holmes smiled. “A big, fat Christmas goose, Watson. Some poor soul went home without his hat and without his Christmas goose, and late on Christmas Eve, of all days. I would imagine the poor man’s wife was not best pleased yesterday when they had their Christmas dinner with no goose on the table.”
“A missing hat and a missing goose?” I looked around the room. “I see the hat, Holmes,” I said. “But not the goose.”
“That is because it is even now roasting in Mrs. Peterson’s oven,” Holmes said.
“Mrs. Peterson’s oven?” I stared in amazement at Holmes. “But what if the rightful owner returns to claim it?”
“More importantly, Watson, what if he does not?” said Holmes. “Another day and the goose would be of no use to anyone. Better that Peterson and his family enjoy it than it goes to waste, given Peterson was the one who found it.”
“That’s true enough,” I said. “But Holmes, how on earth does one lose one’s hat and one’s Christmas goose at the same time? I mean, to lose one or the other is surely carelessness. But to lose both?”
“It happened like this, Watson,” Holmes said, sucking on his pipe. “Peterson had been out late on Christmas Eve, and on his way home saw a scuffle between an elderly man and some youths. The man had been wearing this very hat, and was carrying a Christmas goose over his shoulder.”
“So what happened?” I asked.
Holmes stretched out on the sofa. “It seems the youths were a little lively, perhaps having had a few too many drinks for Christmas, and knocked the man’s hat off. He in turn put his goose down and angrily waved his walking stick at the lads to warn them off. Unfortunately he was closer to a shop window than he realized, and accidentally thrust the walking stick through the glass.”
“Goodness gracious,” I said.
“At this point Peterson called out for them to be careful,” Holmes went on. “But it seems that, when the crowd turned and saw Peterson, still in his Commissionaire’s uniform, they must have mistaken him for a policeman, for they all ran off.”
“Including the man who broke the window, I presume,” I said.
“Including the man who broke the window,” Holmes confirmed. “Most probably he too thought that Peterson was a policeman. By the time Peterson got to the scene all that was left was this battered old hat and a fine Christmas goose."
“And earlier today you had been examining the hat for clues I arrived,” I said.
“Indeed so, Watson,” Holmes said. “We have a name, but no address. The hat and goose belong to one Mr. Henry Baker. That was easily found out, because the goose had a card tied to its leg, with the wording For Mrs. Henry Baker on it. Also, the hat has the initials H.B. on the lining. But that’s not very helpful. There will of course be hundreds of gentlemen by the name of Henry Baker here in big city like London. Far too many to try track down.”
At this point there was a knock at the door and Mrs. Hudson entered with the promised pot of tea and buttered scones with jam.
“Here you are, gentlemen,” she said, placing the tray on the table.
The teapot was covered with a special Christmas tea-cozy she had knitted. Along with the milk jug, sugar bowl, cups, saucers and teaspoons there was a plate piled high with buttered scones with strawberry jam.
“Mrs. Hudson. You are simply wonderful,” I said. “And the buttered scones are wonderful too, And so is this splendid tea-cozy. Isn’t that so, Holmes?”
But Holmes did not hear me, and seemed not to notice Mrs. Hudson or the tray of tea and scones, for he had picked up the battered hat again and was studying it carefully through the magnifying glass.
Mrs. Hudson gave me a knowing smile. She knew all about Holmes and his strange ways.
“Enjoy the scones, Dr. Watson,” she said. “And do try to save at least one for Mr. Holmes for when he finally realises they are there.”
“A hat is a hat, Holmes, surely,” I said, biting into one of Mrs. Hudson’s delicious scones as soon as the landlady had closed the door behind her. “Beyond the initials, HB, surely there is nothing more you can tell from examining that old thing?”
“You are right, Watson,” Holmes said. “There is nothing whatsoever I can deduce from this old hat. Except that Mr. Baker is quite clever, and not so long ago earned a good wage.”
I stopped chomping on my scone and looked at Holmes.
“And that lately,” Holmes continued, “Mr. Baker has fallen on hard times and has taken to drinking to take his mind off his problems. Which may be why his wife no longer loves him as much as she once did.”
I stared in astonishment at Holmes. “You can tell all that from an old hat?”
Holmes held out the hat and magnifying glass for me to take. “Look for yourself,” he said. “It is all there.”
I took the hat and examined it carefully. It was an old black bowler hat that had seen better days. The red silk lining inside was faded, but the initials H.B. could clearly be seen. There was a crack in the hard bowl, and the whole thing was dusty, with faded spots that had been coloured black with writing ink.
I looked through the magnifying glass, but all this did was make larger what I had already seen. I look up at Holmes in bewilderment. “But there is nothing to see,” I declared.
“Nothing?” asked Holmes. “But surely you can see the man is late middle-aged, with gray hair, recently cut, who does little exercise and has no gas in his house.”
I handed the hat and magnifying glass back to Holmes. “Now you are surely joking,” I said.
At this Holmes laughed out loud and, spying the pot of tea, poured himself a cup before turning to me to explain. And of course when he did explain it, it was all so obvious.
First Holmes popped the hat on his own head, and it fell down over his eyes, for it was several sizes too big. He pulled it off again and beamed at me. “Mr. Baker has a head much larger than mine,” he said. “It surely must have a larger brain in it, so he must be clever.”
“Maybe so,” I said, “but what about the rest of it? His wife no longer loves him because he has fallen on hard times and drinks too much? That he is middle-aged with gray hair, recently cut, and has no gas in his house? That is just guess-work, surely?”
“On the contrary,” said Holmes. “It is all here. You saw it with your own eyes.”
“I did no such thing,” I said.
“You saw everything I saw,” Holmes said. “But, Watson, you did not try to make sense of what you saw.”
I took another scone from the plate. “Then tell me, Holmes,” I said, “how does this hat reveal all this information to you, but not to me.”
“Elementary, my dear Watson,” Holmes said. “The hat is three years old, for this design became fashionable at that time. The lining is silk, not some cheaper fabric, and would have cost quite a lot when new. Clearly the hat is now old and needs replacing, but our Mr. Baker still wears it. Therefore three years ago Mr. Baker was in a better job than he is now.”
“Confound it, Holmes, it is always so obvious once you explain it,” I said. “But what about the rest? The recent haircut, and his not being one to exercise?”
“The silk lining has traces of hair-cream,” Holmes said. “And in that cream are short gray hairs, just cut. There are recent sweat stains, and that tells me Mr. Baker is not used to exercise, for no-one would sweat normally at this time of year.”
“Be that as it may,” I said, wishing I had noticed all this myself, “but there is no way, Holmes, absolutely no way, you can tell from that hat that his wife no longer loves him, or that he has no gas in his house. That is beyond even your powers, surely.”
“There is nothing to it,” said Holmes. “The hat is dusty, as you can plainly see, and the dust is house-dust. You can tell by looking through the magnifying glass. It seems like the hat has not been dusted for many weeks. Now tell me, dear Watson, would your wife let you go out in public in such a disgraceful fashion?”
“Of course not,” I said. “Why, I cannot leave the house at all without Mrs. Watson finding something on me that needs brushing or cleaning or adjusting. Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to get out of the front door!”
“Because she loves you so,” Holmes beamed. “But no less clearly Mrs. Baker does not lavish such attention on her own husband anymore.”
“Or perhaps he has no wife,” I said, pleased with myself for finding a weakness in my friend’s theory. “Perhaps Mr. Baker is not married, or something happened that they no longer live together.”
“You are forgetting the card tied to the leg of the goose, Watson,” came the reply. “For Mrs. Henry Baker.”
I sighed. Holmes had an answer for everything.“Ah, but what about the gas?” I demanded.
“Candle wax,” said Holmes matter-of-factly. “There are no less than five candle wax stains on the hat. One, or even two, might come from outside the home, but five? That surely tells us he has no gas-lighting and carries candles frequently.”
Before I could answer Holmes, the outside bell jangled loudly, followed by a fist pounding on the front door.
A smile spread across my friend’s face. “Unless I am very much mistaken there is someone at the door for me.”
“You are expecting visitors?”
“I am expecting no-one,” said Holmes, as the bell jangled again, and the hammering at the door continued. “But anyone visiting Mrs. Hudson would know better than to tug on the bell like that, and the urgency of those pounding fists can only mean someone in need of my services.”
We heard the front door open, but Mrs. Hudson’s words were cut short as the man – for it was a man’s voice – shouted “Mr. Holmes! Mr. Holmes!” in breathless tones and we heard him rush past Mrs. Hudson and storm up the stairs.