One of my little brothers has a friend named Zac. My brother’s name is also Zac. The difference between the two Zacs is that one is mostly white and the other is part black. In their group of friends the two are differentiated with Zac and Black Zac, which I think is just terrible. I asked my brother if they could figure out something to call the kid besides that and they said they liked it that way. Teenagers.
I thought this story was going to be something like that, but it’s not.
Watson is at Baker Street hanging around. An unusual amount of men have been showing up and asking for Captain Basil. Watson figures that Sherlock is probably telling people he’s Captain Basil. One morning, Sherlock walks in the door covered in blood and holding a harpoon. Watson doesn’t ask too many questions, but the gist of it is that Sherlock has been stabbing a pig with a harpoon. That’s not a euphemism. He was really stabbing a pig with a harpoon. Watson was like, “Well, Sherlock, whatever floats your boat. I’m not going to ask too many questions. Everyone already thinks we’re gay. I don’t want to be messed up in this whole pig-stabbing business.”
That’s not true, Watson does ask a question. He asks Sherlock if he’s been walking around London all bloody and holding a harpoon. Sherlock says that he has as if it’s the most sensible thing in all the world.
Seriously, if I were a cab driver, I doubt that I would pick up a bloody guy with a harpoon. You never know who he’s going to murder next.
After a bit, a man shows up at Baker Street his name is Stanley Hopkins. Sherlock asks him if he’s a complete failure, but Stanley was like, “No, master, I’m not a complete failure. I did this and I did this. Please don’t hit me. Let me kiss your hand.” Sherlock was like, “No, no, no…there isn’t enough time for hand-kissing this morning. Tell Watson what we’ve been working on.”
Stanley proceeds to tell a story about how while Sherlock was stabbing a pig with a harpoon, he’d been doing research. Stanley says he found a tobacco pouch at the scene of the crime, but the man in question didn’t really smoke. The rest of the story soon comes out. A man has been murdered, with a harpoon. See this is where we find out Stanley really is kind of dim. The bloody man with the harpoon is standing right in front of him and he doesn’t think to arrest him. No, of course Sherlock didn’t murder this man, Sherlock simply went to the butcher’s to stab a pig with a harpoon to see if it could be done by a human being. A pig, as you may know from watching countless episodes of Mythbusters, is the closest animal analog to a human.
The man who was murdered is named Black Peter; he’s not black, he’s just an angry jerk so everyone calls him Black Peter. He was the captain of a ship. He drank and terrorized everybody including his wife and daughter. He would often drink and run them out of the house and beat them in front of the entire town. Nobody likes Black Peter. Black Peter didn’t really like anybody else either. At his country estate, he built himself another little house behind his house because he didn’t want to be in the main house with everyone else. He put all his sailing junk in the little house and often slept there. His wife and daughter were used to hearing him scream and rant from his little house, so they didn’t think anything of it when they heard him scream rather violently one night.
He was found the next morning harpooned to a wall. The harpoon was his own. He had three harpoons decorating his little house. Someone had stabbed him with his own harpoon. Nothing appears to be missing from the little house. The small addition of the tobacco pouch is a strange mystery. Sherlock determines that Stanley is an idiot and that he may not kiss his hand anytime soon. Sherlock must go to the house himself to look for clues. Stanley was not able to find any footprints or anything else of use.
Sherlock and John arrive at Black Peter’s house. The wife and daughter are all but dancing a jig that Black Peter is dead. The little house has been cleaned up a bit, so there isn’t a lot for Sherlock to go on. He says someone has moved a book or a box. They also discover that it seems that someone has tried to break into the little house. They determine to wait that night and see if they come back, because apparently whoever tried to break into the house is an idiot that doesn’t know how to break into houses.
A man does show up and this time he’s figured out how to break into a house. Everyone jumps on his and he says his name is John Hopley Neligan. Nobody really knows how this relates to the case. John Hopley says that his father was a banker. At some point the banking firm went under. A large amount of securities were lost. His father was on a yacht with the securities but never came back. John Hopley does not think his father absconded with the securities to Tahiti. After some time, some of the securities showed up for sale. John Hopley did some sleuthing of his own and was able to trace them back to Black Peter.
He also found out that Black Peter captained a whaling ship in the same oceanic vicinity his father has supposedly been in when he disappeared. John Hopley determined to confront Black Peter, but someone beat him to it. John Hopley read in the paper that Black Peter was dead. John Hopley endeavored to break into the little house to read the log books from the Sea Unicorn to determine if his father had been sighted at sea or picked up. The pages are missing from the log book.
Stanley still wants to arrest John Hopley because his notebook is at the scene of the crime, but he thought he had lost it at a hotel. Hopley is arrested for murder, but Sherlock has more research to do and tells Stanley that has more research to do. They go back to Baker Street where Sherlock reads letters and Watson sends telegraphs.
Stanley is invited back. He says that John Hopley was not the murderer anyway. It takes a very strong man to drive a harpoon through a body. Sherlock should know. He tried to harpoon a pig for an entire morning. Sherlock says the murderer will show up any minute. Soon sailors start appearing at the door. They introduce themselves and Sherlock says the ship is full, but one man comes in whose name is Patrick Cairns and he introduces himself as a harpooner. Sherlock says to arrest this man.
He’s put in restraints and is let to tell his story. He says he didn’t murder Black Peter; he killed Black Peter before Black Peter could kill him. It turns out Patrick had been on the boat with Black Peter when they encountered a vessel stranded at sea. The man aboard looked official and carried with him a single box. Patrick saw Black Peter tip him over the rail and into the ocean. He wanted to blackmail Black Peter because he knew what the man had in his box was worth money. All the man had in the box were securities and they were worth money, but Patrick couldn’t sell them.
Patrick confronted Black Peter in his little house. Black Peter pulled a knife on Patrick, so Patrick harpooned him to the wall. Patrick then stole the box of securities, but couldn’t do anything with them. The box of securities is recovered and Sherlock tells Stanley he’s an idiot, he better let John Hopley out of jail and apologize to him, and also that Stanley may never kiss Sherlock’s hand because he’s an idiot. Then Sherlock says he’s going to Norway.
I made that whole hand-kissing thing up, but if you read the actual text, you kind of get the feeling that Stanley is just gushing about Sherlock Holmes. He adores Sherlock Holmes and would probably do anything he asked. For the record, I don’t think Stanley is gay; I just think he really, really admires Sherlock and all the things he does. He looks up to Sherlock as a mentor.
I have never held a harpoon nor tried to harpoon anybody or anything. I can’t verify if the task is really as difficult as Sherlock says it is. I’m sure it does take a considerable amount of force to put an object like that through a human body. Just think about the organs, bones, and cartilage you would have to go through. Doctors have saws to cut through bones. You just can’t karate chop a person and break their bones, well, you can, but you have to be a very skilled karate chopper, or either only fight old grandmas with osteoporosis.
Fun fact: If you do CPR on a person, you might very well crack their ribs while doing chest compressions, especially if you’re trying to resuscitate an older person. Basically, it’s either they die with intact ribs, or they live with broken ribs. If the sound of cracking ribs grosses you out too much, don’t do CPR on anybody.
This story mentions something called a plague-spot–to the Batmobile, Robin!
Na na nana na nana na na na na na na
Ok, here it is–a plague spot is a location associated with the plague. It might be a spot where lots of people died, but it also might be a spot that others associate with contamination from the plague. Remember me talking about Daisy Miller and dissing the idiots who thought the night air gave her malaria? Yeah, well people had stupid ideas about more diseases than just Malaria. Well, that’s what a plague spot is, what Sherlock had to do with one is a mystery to me, because it’s just a little blurb in this story. It probably meant more in the 1800s and early 1900s than it does today. I have no idea what this story is talking about in concerns to an actual location considered a plague spot.
There is another word here that I’ve heard before, but I don’t know the definition of; that word is tantalus. I know this word form Final Fantasy IX, what a great game. I’m not really much of a gamer, but my all time favorite game would have to be Final Fantasy IX. Yes, I realize I’m showing my age in championing that game. If you think that’s weird and old, you probably don’t even want to hear about how much I liked the game Earthbound.
Tantalus is a figure of Greek mythology. Tantalus was made to suffer eternal punishment. He had to stand below a fruit tree bearing fruit he could never reach and every time he tried to drink water it drew away from him. The word tantalize obviously has some origins with this mythology figure. If something is tantalizing, it’s something you want, but you don’t have. A tantalus as described in this tale is a type of liquor container that has a locking bar. That locking bar keeps the servants out of the good liquor, but they can look at it in the clear glass containers and hope it would be theirs despite the fact that they can never get the good whiskey.
I know Sherlock cares about this case because he cares about interesting and weird things, but no one else cares about this case, no one. Black Peter was a jerk. Nobody cares that he’s dead. His wife doesn’t care. His daughter doesn’t care. Any associates he has don’t care. The guy who killed him doesn’t even care. He says he was doing a service to the world, for the most part, by killing him. Nobody cares about Black Peter. Why even investigate? Why not celebrate?
I get that murder is bad. I get that ending somebody’s life is not a good thing. We shouldn’t go around killing each other, ever, really. I get all of that, but when I know a person is bad, I just don’t care as much. I still care that their life has ended and they have no chance of ever turning themselves around to be good, but I’m not going to cry. My stance is: they were a jerk; they’re dead now; let’s party.
That’s awful of me, but come on, if some guy gets murdered and he abused his entire family and was mean to everyone, why are we even wasting resources to prosecute whoever murdered him? Now, if we know the murderer went around murdering other people, I get prosecution. We can’t have this murderer out murdering other people who we actually like. If it’s a one-time deal, that was pretty much self-defense, who cares? Who cares if the dude was harpooned? Nobody cares. Patrick is probably going to get flowers. The people who hated Black Peter are going to send Patrick chocolates and flowers as a thank you for ridding their lives of Black Peter.
I’m really glad that poor John Hopley wasn’t charged with his murder. He also had every right to murder Black Peter, but Patrick beat him to it.
Look, if you’re a jerk and then someone kills you, people aren’t going to care a heck of a lot. People aren’t going to try very hard to catch your murderer. Sure, there might be that one detective who just loves detectiving so much that he catches your murderer, but no one is going to care. They’ll probably just give the guy one of those Get out of Jail Free cards from Monopoly and call all the jails to tell them the guy can use it anywhere. Take this as a lesson–don’t be a jerk in your life, if you are, no one is going to care when you die.
I have told you the story about how an entire school celebrated the death of Black Monkey before, well, same thing, just with Black Peter.
a guy nobody likes, a guy nobody likes is dead, black peter, harpoon, harpooner, john, john watson, sailor, sea unicorn, sherlock, sherlock holmes, stab a pig with a harpoon, The Adventure of Black Peter, The Adventure of Black Peter sherlock holmes, The Adventure of Black Peter sir arthur conan doyle, whaling ship
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes