Oh, God! Not Bicycle Bill! He loved to ride his bicycle, especially when wearing his house shoes!
Oh, poor Bicycle Bill, whom I just made up.
One day John and Sherlock are in Baker Street, Sherlock is very busy, but a guy with a really weird name shows up. His name is Thorneycroft Huxtable, no relation to Dr. Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Yes, his parents also hated him because no one else in the history of man is named Thorneycroft. Can you imagine the playground taunts that man received? Thorney, I’m going to call him that, no, let’s just call him Thorn. Ok, Thorn shows up at Baker Street all exasperated and just lies down on the floor as soon as he gets there. He literally doesn’t say anything, he’s just there, lying on the floor as Sherlock and John go about their business. They soon give him brandy, but he asks for cookies and milk instead. I’m not joking about that. Maybe Thorn is secretly Santa Claus?
Sherlock and John eventually get Thorn to talk, but only after going through his pockets and keeping all the good stuff, not really, but they did actually go through his pockets. They determine who he is with all his distinctions.
Thorn runs a boarding school for privileged young men up north. One of these privileged young men has disappeared and he’s the son of the Duke of Holdernesse; I have no idea what that means. He just up and disappeared and nobody can find any trace of where he’s gone to. They did find that the German instructor was also gone, but there doesn’t seem to be any link between the two as the boy had no German classes and they did not know each other at all.
The Duke wants to matter to stay hush-hush and is offering quite the reward. Sherlock figures that as there is a lot of money involved that he will go up. The area has been searched. No one can find the boy. There were some heel prints outside of the German teachers windows and one of the school bicycles was missing and that’s about it. That was three days ago. Nobody was called previously because of the Duke’s desire to keep everything hush-hush. It seems that he has had a falling out with his wife, who is now living in France. The son has made no secrets of the fact that he prefers his mother to his father. There is some speculation that this might be something of a custody battle. Nevertheless, he wants to go and check things out.
Sherlock determines that the German teacher probably didn’t take the boy, but he can’t say for sure. It doesn’t make sense that the German teacher would get half-dressed, hop out of his window, and steal only one bicycle in order to kidnap somebody. The boy on the other-hand appeared to have been fully dressed when he left his room, also out the window. Sherlock and John go out into the pastures to explore and look for clues. They find some bicycle tire tracks and Sherlock says they were not the type of tires that matched the type of tires from the school. This was a different type of bicycle, so they better keep looking.
They eventually find some more bicycle tracks, which match the types of tires from the school bicycles, but shortly after that they also find a bicycle, and then, the bicycle rider. The German teacher is dead. There is blood everywhere. He died from….wait for it…blunt force trauma! Hahahaha! Oh, Arthur! They send word back to the school that they’ve found the German teacher and continue on.
The odd thing about the scene of the crime is that there are no other footprints or bicycle prints, but there are cow prints, but there don’t seem to be any cows. They continue on and find a lodge in their way. Sherlock twists his ankle and rests awhile at the lodge.The innkeeper isn’t particularly friendly. Sherlock asks to borrow a bicycle because he needs to get back to tell the Duke that the culprit has been found, but the innkeeper swears he doesn’t have a bicycle. Sherlock and John leave, but they don’t go far. They go up on a hill and watch the inn.
They see the innkeeper meet with someone else, it’s the Duke assistant. They speak, a cart leaves and the bicycle is spotted. It’s the bicycle matching the tire tracks that Sherlock first spotted.
Sherlock and John go back to see the Duke. He’s sick in bed. They want to see him anyway. They tell his assistant to scram while they speak to him. Sherlock tells the Duke to make out a check to him for £12000 and that he will tell the Duke who has taken his son. Sherlock then says that the Duke has taken his son. It all comes out. The Duke has indeed played a part in his son’s disappearance, but his assistant played a larger part in the disappearance of the boy.
It turns out that the Duke’s assistant, named James Wilder, is actually the Duke’ illegitimate son. The Duke liked having him around because his mother was dead, but James thought he should get the Duke’s wealth, because he is his son, illegitimate or not. He would stay around and threaten to blackmail the Duke. The Duke’s wife couldn’t handle this and went to France. It turns out that James concocted a plan to kidnap the Duke’s younger son in order to get some recognition and possibly money, but the deal went south because James hired out the innkeeper who killed the German teacher, who had only went out at night to follow the boy in hopes of getting him safely back to the school.
James had hidden the boy at the inn, where he was not mistreated. He was distraught that the German teacher had been murdered. He confessed everything to his father the Duke. He gave the innkeeper advance so he could flee the scene of the crime. The innkeeper was later arrested. The Duke begs Sherlock not to make any of this public. James it to go elsewhere to live his life and the Duchess is to come back to England to be with her son and husband. The boy will be returned safely.
The cow prints are also explained. In the Duke’s personal collection, there are horseshoes that give the impression of cow prints. The innkeeper snatched the boy with a horse shod with cow feet. The boy only left the school because he was given a false letter from his mother saying to meet her in the woods.
This story mentions something that was in the Sherlock television show. That something is Appledore. Appledore in the television show is a large estate owned by a man who apparently village. In this story there is a Lord of Appledore mentioned. So even if the television show didn’t exactly get what Appledore was correct, the villain mentioned, was something of a Lord of Appledore. So they weren’t entirely off from the story. What that also shows me about the good people of the BBC is that they really do their research. You know what, BBC? You could totally hire me and I’ll do the research for you. Think about it. Call me.
Let’s get down to other things. Boarding school huh? I actually asked my mom to send me to boarding school. It would have been light years better than living at home, at least in my house. I’m sure some people would prefer to live at home.
I don’t get boarding school. Well, I do; it used to be that there wasn’t a school close enough for children to go to school. Your kids had two choices: be schooled by you or live at a school. Now, it’s great if you know what you’re doing. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother was actually her teacher for a period of time. This was fine because Caroline Ingalls taught school at one point and actually knew what she was talking about. By the way, if you don’t know who Laura Ingalls Wilder is, she’s an American author who wrote the Little House books, as in Little House on the Prairie.
In a situation like this story, this son was probably sent to boarding school because he needed a broader education than could have been gotten with a simple tutor and he also needed looking after. His father sounds like quite the busy man. As it has been throughout history, if you have children, but don’t have the time to raise them, those children are raised by others. Sometimes those others happen to be a boarding school. There is also a certain repute that some upper-crust children got from going to boarding schools. People would talk to each other and say, “Oh, I sent my boy to Eton.” Then they would assume that your child had the best of educations and also that you were filthy stinking rich because Eton academy isn’t cheap.
You know what movie I love about private schools? Masterminds. It has Patrick Stewart and Vincent Kartheisir in it, when he was a young man. Great stuff. Take that Patrick Stewart, you awful British man trying to kidnap rich people’s kids all at once. Oh, that movie was such a kids movie.
Honestly, if I had kids and I had the money, my kids and my money would go to private school, maybe not boarding school, but definitely private school. I think the public education system has gone to crap. It’s been a well-known fact that students of private schools receive broader educations than children of public schools, despite all the personality taming uniforms. Maybe there was a small schoolhouse closer to this Duke’s estate, but come on, seriously, a son of a Duke would go to a one-room schoolhouse? I don’t think so. Who is going to teach French? Who is going to teach geometry? The teacher at that one-room school-house may know something of both subjects, but would be far from the experts found at a private educational facility. In the time period of this story, children were often sent away to be educated. This boy has it fairly lucky because his actual house isn’t too far away. He could have gone home to visit, but I doubt he did because he wasn’t that close to his father and his father was always busy.
So if you’re wondering why this boy was at boarding school when his house was so close, that’s why.
The whole illegitimate child thing is stupid. Either you parented a child, or you didn’t. There isn’t really any question about it. Just because you didn’t have a marriage license to that child’s other parent, doesn’t mean that the child isn’t yours. No matter who that child is or who his or her parents are, they’re still your heir and should thus receive part of your estate when you die. Period.
For example, lets say you’re married and you have three kids, but you knocked up a woman before you were married and have a son. When you kick the bucket, your worldly assets should be split in some manner of four ways, not just three. Laws have not always been on the side of children born out-of-wedlock though. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but it used to be extremely difficult to get child support payments from men if the woman was not married to the man. Children born out-of-wedlock used to not be eligible to inherit anything. They were written off and claimed by nobody for the most part. That’s sad.
This whole thing is stupid and was caused by religion. I hate to say it because I like religion, but religious law was the entity that said children were illegitimate unless they were born inside of a church-approved union. The law of the land went along with religious law for a very, very long time. That’s why all these illegitimate babies of Henry VIII were never counted for anything in history. He was never married to any of their mothers and thus they never factored into any kind of inheritance or throne ascension. Henry VIII actually had sons, in the plural, but he was never married to their mothers and thus kept switching around wives in order to procure a legitimate son. The whole thing was stupid.
James Wilder in this story has every right, in my opinion, to have responsibilities of his father and to inherit something of his father. He has every single right to be at his father’s house, no matter what his father’s wife thinks. How he went about trying to get his rights wasn’t the best idea, but he has every right to what he was trying to get, maybe not by laws of the time, but morally, it’s his right. When I say morally I don’t mean what is religiously correct, I mean what’s correct as far as being a decent human being.
The Duke is his father. End of story. If people don’t like it, oh well. The Duke should have acknowledged that James was his son. He should have brought it out into the open and afforded James every opportunity that his younger son would have had. He was too much of a chicken to do that though. He was all like, “I’m a Duke, I’m supposed to be holier than thou, people can’t know that I had sex with a woman who I wasn’t married to. It will make me look bad.” Newsflash, Duke, everyone probably already knew. People aren’t stupid. They knew you were diddling James’ mom and that belly she got afterwards was more than just too much cake.
Because the Duke didn’t do the right thing by his son James, all of this crap happened, then he had to cover up even more misdeeds. Everything would have been so much simpler had the Duke been straight from the beginning.
You’re now an apple!
Hey, do you remember how Mrs. Gorf turned people into apples, but then she was outsmarted and turned herself into an apple and then Lewis ate her? If you know what I’m talking about, you’re awesome.
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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes