There is a current campaign that features various men of celebrity standing wearing shirts that say, “This is what a feminist looks like,” while it’s nice that there is this little effort going around, it’s kind of sad that we still have to do something like it a hundred years after all of this should have been resolved. We shouldn’t still have problems with people looking down on women, but we do. This story, and a couple of others, actually make me wonder whether or not Arthur Conan Doyle was something of a feminist.
Sherlock wakes John up early one morning and tells him to get dressed. They leave right away. They drink some tea to wake up and Sherlock finally tells John about what’s going on. He received a telegram from Stanley Hopkins, Sherlock’s minion, that he requires immediate assistance, he has released the lady, and it’s difficult to leave Sir Eustace.
Sherlock takes this opportunity to tell John that he sensationalizes their stories too much. John asks Sherlock why he just doesn’t write them himself and Sherlock says that he will. Sherlock thinks that Sir Eustace is dead and explains the timing of when it probably happened to John.
They come to an old house, where they meet Stanley who says that this was probably the work of the Lewisham gang. It is confirmed that Sir Eustace is dead. He died of…BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA by poker; a poker is a piece of metal with a little crook looking thing on the end you use to poke the logs in your fire. Blunt force trauma, oh Arthur, hahahahaha!! You get me every time.
Stanley says the lady isn’t in a very good state, but she will talk. She’s Australian and moved to England because she had been so charmed by Sir Eustace, but it turns out Sir Eustace is not very nice. She also has a few bruises on her person, but says they’re not really related to what is going on.
The lady starts out by saying that life in England is far too fussy and is nothing what she had come to expect. She describes the way of the house saying that someone must have let the Lewisham gang know about the house and how it worked, because no one was disturbed. The Lady did the nightly house check herself because she stated that Eustace was a drunk and could not be trusted with such things.
One of the outside doors was open and an old man appeared and knocked the lady out. She was then tied to a chair with the bell pull. Eustace rushed in the room, but one of the men, there were now three, knocked him over the head with the poker and he died. The men then busted out some vintage wine and had three glasses before taking some silver and leaving. The lady said she came to again, but had to yell for quite a while before the maid found her. The maid corroborates that she saw three men out the window some time later, this was before the lady was untied.
Sherlock examines the murder room. He climbs up and looks at the bell pull. It’s frayed as if someone pulled it loose, but it also looks as if it might have been cut. The dead man is still in the room. Sherlock determines that the man who hit Eustace must have been very strong. Stanley thinks that it will not be very difficult to apprehend the Lewisham gang, but there is a rumor that they’ve gone to America. Sherlock wonders why they didn’t go ahead and kill the lady if they killed Eustace.
Stanley says that the house will be happier without Eustace because he wasn’t a very nice person. There are no footprints to find. There wasn’t a lot taken from the house. Sherlock looked at the glasses the three people drank out of. One of them had beeswing in it, while the others did not. The bottle must have been opened by a pocket screw. One of the murderers must have one.
Sherlock leaves Stanley to find the Lewisham gang, but jumps off the train and pulls John with him. Something is not right. Sherlock says that anyone could be describing the Lewisham gang. Their descriptions were in the paper. It was an awfully convenient out in a situation. It was really too early for burglars to be out and about. They didn’t take very much either. Sherlock also thinks there is something wrong with the wine glasses. Maybe there were only two to start with and the contents of those glasses were poured into a third to make it looks as if three people had been there.
Sherlock goes back to the house and looks it all over again. He says there is one man, not three. They talked to the maid again. She admitted that Eustace was not a nice guy. They speak with the lady again. Sherlock says that he wants the truth, but the lady says she has nothing to tell. Sherlock leaves to look up ship passages for the past eighteen months or so because the lady came to England on a ship. On the way out Sherlock notices a hole has been cut in the ice on the pond for a swan.
Apparently Sherlock told Stanley to look in the swan pond, because Stanley says he found the stolen silver there. Stanley also says the Lewisham gang was arrested in New York City, so they couldn’t have committed the crime. Sherlock goes back to Baker Street and tells John that he expects developments. A man shows up who is called Captain Crocker. It turns out Captain Crocker was the captain of the ship that the lady had come to England on. He says he loved the lady, but heard she had married another man. He went to check on her and saw his terrible temper. He picked up a poker and hit Eustace with it after he had hit his wife. Eustace was dead so all involved decided to make it look like a robbery gone bad.
Captain Crocker tied the lady up with sailor knots in a chair. They staged the three glasses on the mantle. They got the maid to corroborate the story. Sherlock tells Captain Crocker that he thinks the whole thing will come out, but he’s not too interested in what the law thinks. He won’t turn Crocker in.
John and Sherlock declare Captain Crocker not-guilty in a small court in Baker Street and tell him to leave.
What in the heck is beeswing? It sounds gross. I mean, are there little bits of bee spit in the wine? That’s what first went through my head. I looked it up. Beeswing is used in making wine, but it’s also used if you want to make meringue. We kitchen aficionados know it as cream of tartar. I never knew it was used in the wine-making process.
I read this in the story and I’m a bit puzzled:
“”I’ll chance it,” he cried. “I believe you are a man of your word, and a white man, and I’ll tell you the whole story.””
The part that stands out to me is the white man part. What does that mean? What does being white have to do with anything? Is Arthur trying to insinuate that being white somehow makes a person more trust-worthy? Arthur obviously never visited a few of the colonial areas the British Empire had if he thought that to be true. Arthur, dude, what the heck?
When Sherlock and John had their little court Sherlock said, “Vox Populi, vox dei.” Since it’s been a while since I’ve done the Latin thing, I had to look this up. I sort of had it to begin with, but not all the way.
The phrase basically means, “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” It means the decision we made is the decision God would have wanted or we’re acting as an extension of God. Whether it’s actually true or not is an entirely different thing, which we couldn’t prove anyway, so there is no point in worrying about it. This phrase is something that could be used for good or evil. In the case of this story I’m leaning towards the side of good, but people have used the same kind of phrasing to belittle and imprison other peoples all for the sake of God, so you do have to be careful about people who say they’re carrying out the will of God. It may not be the will of God, it may just be some perverted thinking of their own.
The word ejaculation is used once in this story.
This is a story about domestic violence. Domestic violence used to be the thing. If your husband was hitting you, people would be like, “Well, quit doing stuff to make him angry. It’s your own fault.” I’ve heard that some cultures would give whips or riding crops to newly married men to beat their wives. There is an urban myth going around that rule of thumb means you can’t beat your wife with a stick thicker than your thumb. There is a long story about that phrase and where it actually came from, but we’re not getting into it here.
Crocker killed Eustace. Eustace freaking deserved it. Was it still illegal? Yeah, probably. Murder is generally illegal, but self-defense is usually the exception. Revenge, blood feuding, turf wars, and anything else you can think of, are not excuses you can use to get out of murder. If you came home and found your wife in bed with another man and you killed that guy, you might be able to say it was a crime of passion, but you’re probably still going to prison for a while. What Crocker did would probably be considered a crime of passion because he wasn’t in bodily danger, but there might be a lawyer somewhere that could spin it so he was acting in the self-defense of the lady.
Here’s my thing–if a man is abusing his wife or her children and she kills him, I don’t believe she should go to prison. That’s my opinion. If a woman has been beaten for ten years by a man and one day she decides to put arsenic in his food, yeah, well, that’s just too bad for that guy, but I don’t think she should be sentenced for it. The man more than warranted his own death. If a woman kills the man she finds sexually abusing her daughter, she shouldn’t go to prison. I look down heavily upon domestic abuse of any kind.
During the time this story was written, people still told women to just deal with it if their husbands were beating the crap out of them, but we have a surprise–Arthur writes Sherlock to be a staunchly anti-domestic violence person. Way to go Arthur! This is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Male authors generally didn’t waste their time writing about men who got the crap killed out of them because they were beating their wives and then the guy getting away because the other guy deserved it. They wrote about other manly adventures and drinking and stuff. I’m so proud of Arthur right now. I don’t know if he did this just for publicity or what, but even if he did, he still served as an example to all those dirt bags beating their wives. Yeah, you could beat your wife, but somebody might kill you, and then maybe nobody will go to prison for it, because you were a jerk and you deserved it.
Some days, I wouldn’t hang out with Arthur were he suddenly resurrected, but today, I would hang out with him, well, besides that thing about the white guys.
Eustace is dead!!!!
Hey, it may not seem like a big deal that Crocker got away with the justified murder of Eustace, but it’s a big deal. It’s important. It’s important that society figures started to recognize that it wasn’t a good idea to beat your wife. Women were people too and they didn’t deserve to be beaten on. Arthur was a public figure back in his day. This was as much of a big deal as Benedict Cumberbatch wearing a feminist T-shirt; I actually hate to say it, but this was actually a bigger and more impressive thing than Benedict wearing a feminist T-shirt.
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes