Alright, should we take a wee on the third rail or not? Don’t touch it! You’re touching it! Why are you touching it?
Who is Bruce Partington and why should we care about him? I have no idea. I have no idea who Bruce Partington is. He’s actually not a person, he’s a submarine, more on that later though.
So Mycroft tells Sherlock and John he’s coming for a visit. This is very strange because Mycroft hardly ever leaves his normal life. The whole thing involves a dead guy. The dead guy’s name is Cadogan West, his parents just wanted a cardigan, but the nurse thought that was his name and wrote it down on the birth certificate, but she didn’t spell it correctly. That’s not true, I made it up. I have no idea why this poor man was named Cadogan. Is it how someone from Boston says cardigan? Hmm…close, but no cigar.
Cadogan was found dead on the train tracks. It doesn’t seem that the train killed him. In his pocket were some very important plans for the Bruce-Partington submarine. There were ten pages in total, but the three most important pages are missing. There are only seven pages in Cadogan’s pocket and he was pretty great and no one could see him stealing super-secret submarine plans from the government to sell to another government, but, hey, you never know who is a traitor.
Mycroft shows up and tells Sherlock that even though this is a matter of national security he can’t be bothered to ask people about things and look for clues, so that’s up to Sherlock. Sherlock begins his questioning. Cadogan had a fiancée(two e’s remember). The fiancée says they were together on a date when Cadogan suddenly ran off. He was never seen alive again by the fiancée. The strange thing about Cadogan was that he didn’t have a ticket for the train. How did he get on the train track? Did someone push him out? Did someone kill him on the train, if so, where’s all the blood? It’s obvious that there was a great deal of blood.
Cadogan was employed for the government contracting company that made up the submarine plans. He would have had to have had three keys made to get at the plans. Only one person had all those keys and he was the head of the office and is named Sir James Walter. Sherlock makes it to the scene where the body was found but there’s no blood. There’s no blood in any of the cars. Sherlock determines that Cadogan’s body must have been on the roof of the train and fell off when the train turned a curve.
The lack of keys on Cadogan’s person and the lack of money in his pockets indicates that he didn’t actually make a deal. Sherlock suggests that someone who lived near the train tracks and had a window that opened onto them probably killed Cadogan and placed his body on the roof.
He begins looking into all the people he knows in England who buy state documents. There is one man in particular, Hugo Oberstein, who happens to live near some train tracks. Sherlock and John make their way to his house, where they do find his house awfully close to the train tracks and they also find a great amount of blood there. Sherlock and John decide to break into his house because he’s not home.
He hasn’t seemed to have left any evidence, but Sherlock finds something. In the agony column of the newspaper there seem to be messages back and forth. There is man named Pierrot in on the whole business as well. They place an ad saying that all the plans weren’t there and the person who had them better show up if they want the whole thing. The person who shows up is not a criminal, well he is, but it’s not who they suspect, it’s Colonel Walter, the younger brother of Sir James Walter, who has died unexpectedly, James, not the Colonel.
It turns out that the colonel had some investing debts and really needed some money so he stole his brother’s key and made copies. He then endeavored to sell the plans of the submarine. With his information Sherlock is able to give enough information to Mycroft for the apprehension of the seller and buyer.
Wait a minute, I’ve almost forgotten Cadogan in this whole thing. Cadogan knew someone was trying to get at the papers, so he followed the Colonel when he saw him when he was out on his date. The night did not end well for Cadogan and the colonel and his conspirator decided to plant the remaining documents on Cadogan to make it appear as if he were the one who originally stole them.
This isn’t important to the story, it is merely mentioned as a hobby belonging to Sherlock. At one point in the story John says Sherlock is working on an article about the polyphonic motets of Lassus. I know you’re wondering what Lassus is, come on, you know you were. Lassus is not a where or a what, he’s a person, a composer in fact. I’ve studied music history, not really in-depth, but in the past I’ve dabbled, and I’ve never heard of Lassus. Lassus is from the Netherlands, but moved all around Europe, even working for the Medicci family at one point.
People began to respect him, like really, really respect him. People wanted to learn his style of composing, but they also thought he had a beautiful voice, and as such, he was kidnapped three times because people wanted to hear him sing. That’s what people say at least.
Now onto some more explanations of what Lassus did. A motet was basically a vocal composition with lots of parts and lots of variation. We would probably just call this a song, but people were more technical back in the day I guess. Imagine there being a soprano 1, soprano 2, alto 1, alto 2, tenor 1, tenor 2, bass 1, and bass 2 parts all in the same song. Non-music people may have no idea what I’m talking about, but if you were in chorus, you know what I’m talking about. Chorus nerds unite!
Polyphonic just means many voices. In my view defining something as a polyphonic motet is a bit repetitive, but I’m not a music historian and there is probably more to it than that.
Lassus was not around in the days of Sherlock Holmes. Lassus existed way back in the 1500s. The story also mentions that Sherlock had jumped deeply into music of the renaissance. What’s impressive is that Arthur actually knew who Lassus was and what he did. He just didn’t say, “Lassus wrote songs,” no, he said, “the polyphonic motets of Lassus.” Did Arthur ever play any instruments or sing in a choir? I don’t know, but he knew what he was talking about in this obscure reference to an obscure composer hundreds of years previous.
That just goes to show you that Arthur can really do his research when he wants to.
Working for the government can get you in some sticky situations. Government jobs are generally desirable. You get good insurance and good pay and it can be difficult to fire people sometimes. With that said, government jobs have their own risks. I mean how many of you know a soldier? Soldiers get base bay, basic housing allowance, other pay perks, sometimes free housing, and they get to move all over the world free of charge. It’s not so peachy though. I’ve done it. There are downfalls to working for the government.
You have to consider that not only do you have to be more careful about what you discuss about your work life with your family, you also have a greater suspicion placed upon you. Sure, the military may give you a security clearance, but because you have that security clearance, you’re going to be one of the first people implicated if something goes wrong.
Cadogan worked for the government. He was respected and nobody really thought ill of him. That doesn’t mean he was above suspicion. Of course Mycroft was suspicious, he’s a Holmes, but did anyone else stop to think that maybe Cadogan wasn’t really responsible for this treason? Nobody else in the investigation thought this. Everybody thought that Cadogan was trying to make a buck by committing treason. With the government you’re guilty until proven innocent. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it works.
Poor Cadogan worked for the wrong place, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and took the wrong actions for an event. In all honesty, it’s probably better to be a whistle-blower than to put yourself in any personal danger in relation to the government, but, of course, you also have to worry about retaliation, which the government says isn’t a thing, they have commercials about it on all the military broadcasting channels, but it’s a thing. There are people higher than you in the government who know how to put the blame on you if they do something bad and that’s exactly what happened to Cadogan.
If you work for the government and know the guy who knows the guy who committed treason, you’re probably guilty too. Mind your P’s and Q’s.
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Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes