An early period? A Japanese flag? A dot on a Twister mat? What kind of red circle are we talking about here? Well, I honestly have no idea yet because this is only part 1 of the story, so I guess we’ll find out in part 2 what the red circle is.
A woman comes to see Sherlock, but Sherlock, but Sherlock really doesn’t want to take on her case. She insists and Sherlock is finally like, “UGGGHHH…alright, tell me already!” She proceeds to tell John and Sherlock how she rented out a suite of rooms in her home to a man with a beard. He offered to pay a lot more money than the rent she was asking.
Ever since he moved in, she hasn’t seen him at all, and she means it. Someone has come in after hours at one point, but that’s it. She hears a person moving around. The renter asks for things with notes which are printed and not in cursive. Sherlock says for her to keep her eye out, but there isn’t a whole lot more to be done at this point because the renter isn’t technically breaking their agreement in any way.
The woman shows back up. This time it’s because he husband was abducted and she just knows it is in some way connected with the renter. Sherlock looks at the newspaper because the renter apparently asked for the newspaper. In it, he finds something that appears to be a message. What it all means isn’t exactly clear, but Sherlock assumes that someone mistook the lady’s husband for the renter. Sherlock also assumes that the renter has been switched out with somebody else. The man who rented the room had a beard and wouldn’t smoke cigarettes so shortly. There is also evidence suggesting that the renter does not speak English as a first language.
The woman agrees to hide Sherlock and John in her house and set up some mirrors so they can see inside the room when the renter comes out to get their meal. All is set up as planned, but who opens the door is not a man with a beard, but a woman. Sherlock and John find a house outside and there appears to be a message flashing from the window. They make it out to be Italian, but the message suddenly stops. They decide to check it out.
Sherlock hints that he might have known something of hand-writing analysis, which is an actual thing. In a previous tale, Sherlock analyzed the type from a type writer, but hasn’t really delved into handwriting analysis yet. I actually have the foremost book written on graphoanalysis. I thought it would be an interesting book, so I bought it. I have yet to read all the way through it. You can tell things about a person from their handwriting, but Arthur wrongly assumes that it’s only cursive that can be analyzed. It is possible to analyze both print and cursive writing
Each person writes differently, that’s why handwriting analysis is an important tool in a detective’s bag of skills. If there is a note on the crime scene, perhaps the handwriting could be matched up with someone’s handwriting and then you’ve found your culprit. This is why when you watch some mystery movies the ransom note is cut out of letters in a magazine or newspaper. It’s to avoid detection by handwriting analysis. There is even some handwriting analysis the helped the evidence of Jack the Ripper along, but of course, no one caught him.
Sherlock assumes that if this woman had written in cursive that it would be possible to tell that she was a woman. Women generally do have neater handwriting, but that is not always the case. Part of the difference in handwriting may have to do with how women were educated versus men, but it’s not really something I have enough authority on in order to provide a proper explanation. At certain periods in history, women were not educated and thus had to learn handwriting in secret. It would have been easy to tell between a woman and a man then because the woman’s handwriting would obviously not be as refined as a man’s handwriting, during those time periods anyway.
In an area of China, women at one point invented their own style of handwriting; it’s called nüshu. They were not taught and had to learn and create it on their own. It would have been obvious to tell whether a man or a woman had written a note in that case because it’s a completely different writing style. It would be kind of like writing in Hiragana versus writing in katakana. There would be a bit of overlap, but these are two separate writing styles we’re talking about.
Back to the actual process of handwriting analysis, if Sherlock had actually had a sample and had known how to analyze it, he might have been able to figure out good deal. He could probably tell if the person was left-handed, if they had a tremor, if they were well-educated, maybe that they were a man or a woman, and maybe more if you delve more into the whole process of handwriting analysis. There is another branch of handwriting analysis called graphoanalysis and this was created by Milton Bunker. He believed you could figure out if someone was gay or not from their handwriting. Essentially, Bunker tacked on many more psychological traits into the process of handwriting analysis and made it more like a fortune-telling process rather than a scientific explanation.
Is this going to be about the mafia again? Good Lord, Arthur, what’s with all the secret societies?
If someone offers you more rent than you’re charging for your rental property maybe they’re going to make meth in there.
I feel for this woman. It would be kind of weird renting rooms to a person and never seeing them. I’ve rented a basement apartment before and I saw my landlords all the time. It was a pretty common occurrence. I didn’t sneak off around corners to avoid them. I also have a rental house of my own. Dealing with renters can be a tricky thing. You have to trust that they’re not going to trash your house, or make meth in there.
This woman made an agreement with this guy, but she’s not actually renting to this guy. He didn’t tell her about the woman. That’s grounds for termination of a rental agreement. You’re supposed to let your landlord know who is staying there. If you say, “Well, it’s me, my wife, and our two kids,” you do not then show up and move in with ten kids, three dogs, and grandma. There are also clauses in rental agreements about dangerous activity. If something illegal is going on, you can evict your tenant. They’re making meth? Evict them. They’re assaulting each other in the yard? Evict them. You have the legal right to kick them out in those circumstances. Our landlady also has a legal right to evict her tenant because it’s not the person that was actually supposed to be living there.
Unfortunately, you cannot just evict them for standing in the yard wearing a sports bra and yelling, “RIIIIILLLLEEEYYYY!!!” in a smoker’s voice with a southern accent. True story. You can totally evict them if you come home and find eight police cars and an ambulance in your driveway because someone down there said someone else stabbed someone, but they just got into a fight and no one was actually stabbed.
In essence, our landlady has plenty of reasons to get rid of her tenant.
Damn spot…which we apparently don’t learn about in this part of the story.
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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes