Get ready for some stuff that may or may not be accurate.
Mary is away, so the boys will play. John is having a sleepover at Sherlock’s house. He goes to breakfast one morning and Sherlock is already awake. All this time John has been pondering on past cases that Sherlock has solved.
There is a rather nasty storm outside, but a man appears to be at the door. John asks Sherlock if it’s one of his friends, but Sherlock tells John he doesn’t have any friends besides John. The man knocks on the door anyway. The man is fairly young and Sherlock determines he has come from the south-west, Horsham to be exact. Sherlock also knows all the dirt in the area. There is some talk about how great Sherlock is and how someone else referred the young man to Sherlock, there is no mention of a referer’s discount.
The young man tells Sherlock he has a very strange story, but the police can’t really help him in the matter. He says that his uncle Elias spent some time in America, in the South, but came back to England and moved out to the countryside. He wanted to take his nephew into his home. His nephew, the young man named John Openshaw, had free-reign of the house except for one room in the attic. His uncle never let him go in there and he could never discern what was in there.
One day his uncle got a letter. Inside were five orange pips, or orange seeds. The uncle looked distraught at the reception of this letter. There was a note from the KKK in the envelope that said to put it on the sundial. Seven weeks later, the uncle died in what was ruled a suicide, but the nephew doesn’t believe it. Before the uncle died, he left everything not to the nephew as would be expected, but to the nephew’s father.
At the death of the uncle, John’s father inherited everything. He too received a letter with five orange pips. A few weeks later he died in what was ruled an accident. John soon inherited the fortune. John soon also received a letter from West London. The other letters had come from Pondicherry and Dundee. John is scared because he fears he is next. He went to the police, but the police would not do anything but lend him a police officer for the evening, only at his home. Sherlock knows that things are not good and that this man is in danger. He tells John to put the letter on the sundial in the brass box his uncle possessed as instructed. Sherlock will watch to see who collects it. He cautions John to be very careful on the way home.
The next day, the news is bad. John Openshaw is already dead, it’s ruled as an accident. Sherlock goes into investigation mode. He finds from records of Lloyd’s that there is a ship called The Lone Star, that had been docked at all the areas where the letters were sent from. Sherlock sends a letter to the ship’s next destination, Savannah, Georgia, in hopes that the perpetrators aboard will be arrested by the local law enforcement. There was also a plan to send the five orange pips to the men in question so that they would be scared. It turns out that the ship never makes it to Savannah because it sinks.
Well, Sherlock does solve the mystery, but everybody dies. That’s rather unfortunate.
Ok, ok, let’s talk about something. Arthur really liked the idea of secretive societies. I say this because of what I have read of Arthur’s writing. He repeatedly mentions the free masons. He writes an entire book involving Mormons, with false information I might add, and now he has this story about the KKK. These are all secretive societies to an extent, but Arthur wasn’t too good about doing his research on these societies. It was said he supposedly issued an apology to Brigham Young’s son for the false descriptions he put in A Study in Scarlet about Mormons. Much of what Arthur used in A Study in Scarlet were rumors and fear-mongering about the Mormon church. Arthur has once again used false information about a secretive society. I get that these societies are somewhat secretive, but there is more information out there. I kind of feel as if Arthur got a little lazy with his research. I know it’s fiction, but this is a situation where Arthur is presenting false words for a real organization with real people in it, not that the KKK deserves any defense.
Let’s start off with Arthur’s description of what KKK supposedly means. Arthur says that the Klu Klux klan is supposedly the sound a rifle makes when it clicks. Wrong Arthur. The name is from The Greek kuklos which means circles. This was a group or circle of men united in one effort. Arthur also says the movement died out in the 1860s. It is true that the original movement did lose some steam around the time, but the KKK is still alive and well, believe me. I once took a Poli-sci class with the granddaughter of the Grand Dragon of the KKK. I don’t know if it’s the same guy anymore, but he lived in Gainesville, Ga.
The KKK was concerned with keeping African-Americans enslaved, keeping them from land, and keeping them from voting. It also branched out to include hatred towards other races and even Jewish people. Their idea is that white Christian people are the best, essentially. Arthur is correct in the reasoning about what the KKK doesn’t like. He did get that part correct, but their messages are something different.
I have found no mention in my research that the KKK sent orange pips to foretell death to one of their wayward members. I also found nothing about oak leaves as mentioned in Arthur’s story. Let me tell you several things. The KKK doesn’t send you orange pips; they burn crosses in your yard, or they string you up a in tree and hang you; that’s called lynching. Cross burning is a more modern activity for the KKK though, as it has had three major reincarnations; the first did not burn crosses. The first group of the KKK probably had some other means of sending messages to those they had marked for death, but I have found no record of orange pips. You also have to consider that the only place orange pips would have been readily available in the Southern United States during this time period would have been Florida. Oranges do not grow in the rest of the Southern United States. Seeing as the organization got its start in Tennessee, apple pips would have been more likely.
These days the KKK is an embarrassing society that people are afraid to admit that relatives belong to. They still exist because they have freedom of speech and the government in the United States says you can hate whomever you want to hate as long as you don’t actually hurt them. Although, companies often block hate speech in their internet filters even if it is not illegal.
I do want to say that I might have some of this information about the KKK incorrect because I’m not going to thoroughly research it because I really don’t think it’s worth my brain power because I disagree with the organization. Most of my information comes from living in the South amidst the very people who very well might belong to the KKK.
Sometimes the police cannot protect you. There are organizations that know how to circumvent the law. They can make it look like an accident, usually these organizations are various mafias, but there are others just as Arthur mentions. Sherlock as smart as he is, was not able to prevent John Openshaw’s death. While none of this is a comforting factor, I think it’s a good idea to know that there are some situations where the police just aren’t going to be able to do anything for you. It is best to keep your associations with groups who can circumvent the police to a minimum, at least I think that’s pretty sound advice.
People put a lot of trust in their government. The government can’t always protect you. Sometimes you have to protect yourself. This guy should have been carrying around a shotgun. Look, I’m from the South. I grew up around guns. If someone gives me a death threat, I’m going to carry around a gun and you won’t know I have it. John Openshaw did say he was armed in some manner, but it wasn’t enough. He apparently wasn’t ready or was too careless with his location.
He wasn’t being paranoid. He had a real threat to his life, but because the government didn’t see this as a threat, they weren’t able to provide proper protection for him and he died.
Here is what you should take away from this story:
1. Don’t hang out with groups that can circumvent the government.
2. Learn how to defend yourself. If John Opehshaw had been trained in defensive tactics he might still be alive. Take a self-defense class people.
If all else fails, make sure you have life insurance so your family doesn’t have to scramble to pay for your burial if you are mysteriously murdered by a subversive group.
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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes