For reasons that are tags and SEO ratings I had to shorten the title of this post. The full title would actually be The Adventure of the Wisteria Lodge: The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles. This story is a multi-part story and this is the first part, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t mention it. We have actually moved out of the previous collection of Sherlock short stories and into another collection. This collection is called The Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes.
This story takes place in 1892, according to John. Sherlock is asking John what his definition of grotesque is. Sherlock thinks his definition is stupid, but only asked because he got a telegram from John Eccles saying he has had a grotesque experience. Did he fall into a pit of worms? I don’t know, let’s find out.
They’re both called John, this is going to be a problem, let’s call him Eccles. So, Eccles shows up, conveniently after Sherlock has read his telegram. Eccles proceeds to tell John and Sherlock that he has had the strangest night of his life. Sherlock tells him he better start at the beginning, otherwise it’s going to be wrong all the way through. Before he can get started Gregson and another guy show up. They want to question Eccles about the death of a man named Aloysius Garcia.
Eccles is surprised to find that the man is dead. Sherlock prompts him to tell his story.
Eccles knows some people who know some people and was invited to a dinner. There he met a bachelor named Garcia. He worked for the embassy in some manner or another as he was from Spain, or something. He invited Eccles up to his house for a weekend.
He talked to Eccles for some time, keeping him somewhat late into the night. Eccles eventually went to bed, but Garcia popped in to ask if he rang. He said it was near one o’clock in the morning. Eccles said he had not rang and went back to bed. There weren’t many people in the house besides Garcia and Eccles. There was a cook and a servant and that was it. Garcia lived a rather sparse life.
Eccles woke up in the morning and there was no hot water. He angrily rang the bell but no one ever showed up. He walked through the house hoping to find one of the servants, but no one was to be found. He went to Garcia’s room and nobody was there. It looked as if his bed hadn’t been slept in at all.
He thought that maybe he was the butt of some sort of elaborate practical joke. He thought maybe Garcia was trying to get out of paying rent since quarter-day was coming up, but he asked the rental office and nothing.
Gregon has information on the case. Garcia was found dead in a field. He had died of repeated savage blows, BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA! hahahaha, oh, Arthur! The only reason Eccles is implicated at all is because the letter found in Garcia’s pocket was a letter Eccles had written to Garcia confirming his visit.
The only peculiar thing about the evening before is that Eccles received a note and wadded it up and threw it into the fire. The detectives were able to recover it, mostly.
“Our own colours, green and white. Green open, white shut. Main stair, first corridor, seventh right, green baize. Godspeed. D.”
And that’s all the note said. Sherlock deduces that it was written by a lady, possibly a Dolores. Maybe Garcia was having an affair with a woman and the colors were their secret signals. He sends off a telegram asking for all the big houses in the area, because it seems that the note indicates a very large house. Sherlock also thinks that inviting Eccles up would serve as something of an alibi. Maybe it really wasn’t one o’clock when Garcia stepped in. At this point there is nothing for anyone to do, but go to the scene of the crime.
Shhh..! Everybody be quiet. You’re going to wake him up! We can’t do this, if he wakes up. He’s got to wake up and find no one in the house. He has to be alone. Ok?! Let’s do this.
Honestly, I actually think that would be a pretty good prank. Just leave the house and leave the person there alone. Dude, you should have seen your face! Ashton, come on man, why haven’t you done something like this.
Oxshott and Esher are both real places. Wisteria Lodge is described as being between the two areas. They’re not very far apart, so the area isn’t that big, but there doesn’t seem to be much between the two areas, so Wisteria Lodge was not in any one town. It was in between, there was no quick response if something were to happen.
Garcia was found on Oxshott common, which is a stated one mile from his estate. Did he walk? Did he run? Was he drawn in a chariot pulled by chickens? We just don’t know, but what we do know is that Oxshott wasn’t too terribly far away and Garcia probably went there to buy eggs and milk and stuff.
Arthur uses the term half-breed in this story to describe the cook. First off, I’m wondering if he means half-bred in the American sense. Nobody really goes around a calling anyone a half-breed these days, it’s rather rude, but if you did happen to hear the term in the states, it would most likely refer to a person who had a white parent and a Native American parent. Arthur could be referring to a person of Native American lineage in this story, but I’m guessing he probably means this cook is half of some other race with darker skin, not necessarily Native American. I seriously doubt Arthur would use the term half-breed to apply to someone who was half-white and half-Spanish. England had been dealing with Spain for many years, and although I don’t know everything, I don’t believe that English people regularly went around looking down on Spanish people. I think it was more of a “Hey they’re from another country,” deal, not a, “hey, they have darker skin” type of deal.
The word tumbledown is used to describe Garcia’s house in this story. Well, since I’m American I don’t use the word tumbledown very often. I figured it probably wasn’t a compliment, but I didn’t know for sure. If you say someone’s house is tumbledown, you’re basically saying that their house needs to be on an episode of This Old House and a lot of repair work needs to done, like they need to get to Home Depot, stat!
I’ll use it in a sentence.
My mom’s house is tumbledown.
It’s true. I’m not being mean. It’s totally and completely true. My mom’s house is tumbledown. There’s no central heat and there’s only one bathroom.
It’s kind of mean, but if you’re one of those people who don’t quickly make friends and then all of a sudden someone wants to be your friend and it seems in other aspects your friendship would not form, then maybe they’re using you for something. It’s like when Carrie got asked to the prom, it was a joke. It was a cruel joke. Nobody actually wanted to go to the prom with Carrie. It’s not that Carrie wasn’t neat, I mean, who doesn’t want to have pyrokinesis, but she wasn’t popular. She was shy. She had a very hard time talking to anyone. She was raised in a very strange position.
While I don’t think that Eccles was a total social outcast, he did know that other guy, I don’t think he was the life of the party. He wasn’t the guy that everyone invited over because he was great at Balderdash and could do awesome impressions of celebrities. He strikes me as the kind of person who has a few friends, but not many.
Garcia clearly had ulterior motives when inviting Eccles over. We don’t know what those are yet, but we’ll find out. Garcia and Eccles wouldn’t have hung out normally. Garcia would walk by Eccles in his Rayban sunglasses with a woman on each arm while Eccles sat over in the corner doing crossword puzzles with the neighbor’s half-blind niece. They sound as if they operate in two different social circles. While friendships between people of different social circles isn’t impossible or unheard of, it’s just not likely.
Does Martha Stuart hang out with Kanye West? No, she doesn’t. Could she? Yeah, probably. The two of them could probably hang out, but would it be likely? Nope. I just can’t see Kanye West baking in the kitchen with Martha all afternoon, special brownies maybe.
If you’re an Eccles of society, if you’re the person who sat in the corner quietly, if you’re the kid who got bullied in school–first off: congratulations on making it this far; you showed those jerks; second off: if you’re still kind of that personality, you have to be suspicious. I really, really hate to say that, but you do. You have to be on your guard. You’re smart enough to know that the popular girls don’t want you to sit at their table. If the popular girls suddenly invite you to their table, it’s probably not because they’ve had a change of heart. They have another motive. Yeah, they’re jerks, but you don’t have to let their jerkness happen to you. You can learn to recognize when they’re going to exercise their powers of the jerkdom and just not take it.
It’s sad that I say all of this, but it’s true. A person has to learn to guard themselves if they’re the type of person people pick on. You have to learn how to discern who is a bully and who is genuinely a good person. You have to learn how to be more assertive in your life as well. You eventually learn how not to take things from other people, but it can take a heck of a long time to do so. If you don’t do this, you’re going to end up like Eccles. Somebody is going to use you as an excuse, as an alibi, or as a scapegoat.
Notice the first thing that Eccles thinks is that someone is playing a practical joke on him. Well, that’s because people have played jokes on him before.
I still think this would be an awesome prank. I’m bad. I’m terrible. It would awful to do this to a person.
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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes