This Site

(Erm, you do realize there's no such thing as the National Watson Archive, right? Well, outside of
these pages at least.)

This site is dedicated to anyone who has ever made me laugh. It's a thankyou note to
them all, for if asked to list the best things in the world, I would be hard-pushed to decide between bacon sandwiches, laughter, and taking naps.

If anything on these pages has made you laugh, or at least smile, they have gone some
way to repaying my debt of gratitude to those who've done it to me.

So many people have made me laugh over the years, that it's unfair to single anyone
out. Nevertheless, I would like to dedicate this site to Alphonse Allais and Vivian Stanshall in particular. They would know why. So long boys, and thanks for all the laughs, smiles, and moments of bafflement.

This story, if story it be, started out as nothing more than a piece of nonsense written to
amuse myself on a very slow night. It was just an absurdist grumble against the lack of entertainment that night. Why did I choose to put it in the form of an unnamed protagonist musing out loud to an unseen companion? I haven't the faintest idea. It just seemed right, at the time.

Then I wrote a few more, and was about ready to retire the character, when the story
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

2 took on a life of its own, as others started to contribute. Without them, this ongoing little tale would have died out long ago. My thanks to all contributors.

Dramatis Personae
(In no particular order) Introductions "My Uncle" Hazel Site Maintenance James Peasworth Sally Pinafore Apu Koomeswaray Tom "Slappy" Verginson Bowright Dull Lord Fidley Dee Anderson Rev. Dr. Mario Captain Gotten Himmelburg Thomas's Father Martin G. Gnome

Andrew Kirby

Matthew Spong

Tim O'Neil

Mark Mueller Himself Baron Saturday Replicant Chris Cyr

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


My gratitude also to Dave Voorhis, the proprietor of Armchair Airlines, who very kindly donated the space and address for this site. Thankyou.



The National Watson Archive was founded in May 1999 to provide a permanent home for any and
all Watson-related materials. Shortly after our founding and the attendant blaze of publicity, a parcel was hand-delivered to our temporary headquarters here in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The package contained a collection of documents which, upon examination, proved to be priceless to our endeavors. Those documents form the core of our collection today.

There was a cover letter attached to the package, and the envelope also contained two photographs.
Unsigned and undated, the letter contains few clues as to its provenance, but is included here for the sake of completeness.

In my line of work, I often have to inspect the attics of older houses, as I'm sure you can imagine.
Such attics often hold treasures large and small -- a wedding dress here, a teddy bear there, and perhaps in the corner, a clock that stopped the day that Grandfather died. I often find myself daydreaming about their owners' lives. Did they lead a happy life? Did they lead a life circumscribed by bands of iron, with desperation as its core? What might these people have been?

But the house I visited last Thursday [Ed. Note: Shown at right] held few
clues about its former owners. It was a Victorian four-bedroomed house in Wimbledon that had long lain empty; its attic was virtually bare. The only thing to be seen was an old steamer trunk: the kind Grandfather might have packed for a trip to India. Bound around with wooden hoops, it looked as if it could have withstood the rigors of any journey.

The trunk had its owners initials carefully painted on one end: "SJH". I
became quite intrigued by the trunk, and shot it quite a few glances as I continued my work. Eventually I became so intrigued by the enigmatic trunk, that I quite forgot why I had climbed to the attic. I had to know. Whoever "SJH" might be, if there were anything in the trunk that might give me a clue as to his or her history, I had to find it. It was an obsession; I had to open the trunk.

Fortunately, it was not locked, and opened easily. Once opened, the trunk proved to be almost empty. The
only thing inside was a large manilla envelope, around
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

4 three inches thick, and filled with papers. First, there was a small bundle tied to a much larger one with an elastic band. The smaller bundle consisted only of a few typewritten sheets, a white envelope, and a wedding invitation.

I took the contents of the envelope back down to the study [Ed Note: Shown at left], where the
light was better. I opened the white envelope first. Inside was a single dried, pressed rose. As I took the rose from the envelope, the tips of the petals crumbled slightly. The envelope was blank, both outside and in, and empty except for the rose. As I put the rose back into the envelope, I noticed that just a hint of its scent still remained. I wondered who had smelled that scent last.

Next, I examined the wedding invitation. It had been handwritten and the ink had faded. I could
read nothing of the details of the wedding, except that it appeared that both the bride and groom had names that started with a "P". I put it down next to the white envelope.

The typewritten sheets were a little more straightforward: they seemed to be a kind of foreword to
the larger, obviously older, bundle. I began to read.

I have now read all the documents, and they still mystify me, to be honest. You may want to glance
through them yourselves.

The package contained what we presume are the two bundles of papers described in the letter. The
papers now form the majority of our collection. We have received a number of additional documents since the initial delivery, always delivered anonymously. Some were hoaxes -- crude forgeries, but where the documents proved to be genuine, we have included them in the archive.

The entire archive is available for viewing on this web-site. As many of the papers are extremely
faded, we present them here as transcripts rather than reproductions. [Editor's Note: The Watson Papers seem to have been composed by a number of different authors. Handwriting analysis, lexical analysis, and other sophisticated tests seem to confirm this beyond a shadow of doubt. Throughout the remainder of the collection, we have tried to make this clear by the use of different backgrounds for the pages; one per presumed author. Naturally, we have tried to make sure that all documents composed by any one author are consistent in appearance.] Anyone wishing to examine the original documents should visit us at our temporary headquarters, in space generously supplied by our friends at the Sheboygan Art Museum.

The introductory documents referred to in the cover letter are presented in later pages of this
prologue. The documents in the "larger, obviously older bundle" are displayed in the collection proper.

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents
[Editor's note: As previously noted in the "prologue" section, the Watson Papers appear to have been written by many different authors. We have attempted to make this clear through the use of different background images -- one per presumed author -- to give a visual cue to the reader. We have made every effort to carry over these visual cues to the table of contents.]

Real Men Cherries Interlude Teeth After the Party On Taking a Bath Old Friend Silence Letter from Sumatra Where's Sumatra? From the River Mail call, Watson Another Postcard Another Postcard? Sally's Letter Who's Sally? From the Jungle

London's a town for real men, Watson, real men. Ever notice

Ah, there you are Watson - finally dragged yourself out of
bed, eh?...

Tell you what, Watson, you can find some damn good

Know what, Watson? It's time we checked those teeth of
yours again...

There you are! Why weren't you at the party, you juggins?... Now no one could call me a stick-in the-mud Watson... Damnedest thing, Watson.... Silence, Watson, naught but silence tonight... I have only a short time to write before our expedition

Got a letter from Mary's boy, James. Remember him?... Thank you for the socks, and the cologne. I'm drinking the
dregs now...

There's a catalogue for you, a bill for me... We have been forced to leave the boat and proceed on foot... Another bloody Postcard, Watson. Young James again... I've been pining for your dear sweet nephew James... Some skirt named Pinafore - never heard her name before... Things have taken a turn for the better since I last wrote...

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That's not Jungle Anderson speaks Getting Dark A Fortnight? A Lawyer Writes More Jungle The Mansion Mario's Diary Damn Rum House James Explains An Urgent Wire Mario's Diary: II Church Business New Suit Letter to Hazel Who's Hazel? The Tunnel More Slappy Hazel writes Captain's Log In the Park

The young scamp enclosed a photograph of himself and

I fear this may be the last thing I will ever write... Yes, light the lamps if you want old chum... ...It's been over a fortnight since we last heard from young

As efforts to locate you have been so far fruitless... I have hardly been able to spare the strength to write to you

The rains have come, and even as I write they are cooling
the air...

After many days of researching & cross-referencing... Well here's a slice of luck, Watson!... I must protest most highly this unusual letter.... HAVE FOUND YOU MAY STILL HAVE FEELINGS FOR

Feeling better today. Am able to stand erect... Evenin' Watson, sorry to keep you waiting old boy... Watson, I do declare that's a new suit you're wearing... Cor how I miss your smiling face... What in the name of the devil's trousers do we have here?... Well, dear relative, it seems far too long since I wrote to you

Sorry I've been so long to the pen... I cannot thank you enough for your letters... These climes are not healthy for we european sort... Well, put your damn book down for a moment, and come
over here...
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Great News... ...Or was it? Monkeys! Hazel again At the Doctors Hunting Lions Visitors, Watson... ...Thank God They're Gone A Letter from Geneva

Great gads of burning news, m'boy!... Here we go again, Watson... Here we are, Watson; a little industry pays off for once... Can it really be a month since I last wrote?... Ah, you're home Watson - I was hoping you would be... What's that you're up to, Watson? Crossword puzzle, eh?... Watson has the port, doesn't he? Pass it over here... Well, thank the good Lord above they're gone, eh Watson? For some time now, our institution has maintained a security
deposit box in your name...

Ruminations on Geneva What ho, Watson! What ho, what ho, what ho. Message From the Tropics Adventures Beneath Sumatra The Final Lark Firstly, let me apologize for remaining incommunicado for
so long.

I believe in my last letter I left off when Captain Voorhis
was conveying...

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen...

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.





My uncle was a most reclusive man; so reclusive in fact that I never did find out his name. On the
extremely rare occasions that I saw him, I would simply address him as "Uncle", which he seemed to find acceptable. In turn, he would affectionately forget my name, and call me "M'lad" or "Young un".

Of course he addressed most men or boys that way; women, he would address as either "M'dear"
or "My good woman", depending on his mood.

I rather got the impression that even the grown-ups were
unsure of his true name. Most people simply called him "Sir", for instance. My Aunt Mary, on the other hand, always called him "Titchy". I believe this was a reference to his being her younger brother, rather than his height. I never thought to ask, and heaven knows that Aunt Mary was not one to volunteer information.

Perhaps my parents knew my uncle's name, but they died
shortly after I was born. I did once venture to ask my Aunt Mary about the circumstances of their death, but she simply pursed her lips and said nothing. I gathered from this that it was not a "proper subject for discussion", and never raised the topic again.

My uncle was evidently perfectly happy with the confusion
surrounding his name; he certainly did nothing to "lift the veil of secrecy", so to speak. Indeed he seemed to positively revel in the confusion, and at times would even go out of his way to add to it. For example, he would frequently dash off irate letters to the Times using either assumed (generally one of his neighbors) or wholly fictitious names. Also, he would answer with equal equanimity no matter how he was addressed: Cousin James always called him Alex for instance. "Alex, Bill, or Charlie: I couldn't give a blue bugger one way or the other" he once confided.

Any name, that is, except for one: "Holmes". That name would invariably cause him to fly into
paroxysms of rage, although again I don't know the cause. I asked Aunt Mary once, but she merely replied "Least said, soonest mended, dear". I gathered once again that it was not a "proper subject for discussion", and never raised the question again.

Who the mysterious "Holmes" fellow was, or what the cause of my uncle's feud
with him, I cannot say. The only thing I can say with certainty about the situation, is that it in some way concerned my uncle's shadowy amanuensis Watson. I say "amanuensis" because that is how my uncle always referred to him. (Although what my uncle's work was that required an amanuensis, is a conundrum I have not solved to this day.) I say "shadowy", for I have never met a living soul that actually met Watson. The two of them, my uncle and he, shared the flat there in one of Knightsbridge's side-streets but Watson
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

9 seemed to spend a good deal of time with the bedroom door locked whenever I visited. On some occasions he would be gone on "good long, bracing walks" (as my uncle put it) through Hyde Park. I always seemed to arrive a few minutes after he'd left; "not five minutes ago", as my uncle would put it.

When Aunt Mary died, my uncle did tell me that "Watson was
there at the very end, God bless his soul", which must have been a great comfort to her in her extreme pain. By the time I arrived at the infirmary, Aunt Mary had already passed away, and poor Watson had been so overcome by grief that he had rushed away, mere moments before my arrival. I do so wish I could have been there sooner, both for dear Aunt Mary's sake, and yes, also to shake the hand of the man willing to comfort her in her time of need.

After aunt Mary passed away, I saw less and less of my uncle. I
had always been able to tell that he really didn't care that much for others' company, and so my visits became less and less frequent.

One Spring day, I realized that I had not visited him in almost a
year, and resolved on the spot to make good for this. When I arrived, I used my own key to let myself in as usual, and I was confounded by what I saw: the old flat was completely empty. The rooms might have been empty for a hundred years for all the trace there was of the former tenants. As I wandered around the few rooms, empty as they were, they echoed and magnified the sound of my footsteps. I wondered if I should perhaps remove my boots.

After a few minutes of searching, finding nothing but a few ashes in one of the bedrooms
(Watson's), I was ready to let myself out again, and lock the door behind me.To this day, I do not know where Watson or my uncle went.

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.





London's a town for real men, Watson, real men. Ever notice that? You can stand outside the
Bank of England, and watch them as they go by; real men, every last one of them. Try any funny business with those johnnies, Watson, and you'll soon find yourself on the wrong end of a damn good thrashing. They'll knock your bloody chillblains off for you, chaps like that. Cure your corns by knocking you out of your boots, by golly. Real men. I should bloody say so.

Know what, old chum? There's not a single one of those chaps that couldn't eat four fried eggs for
breakfast. Admirable in a man, wouldn't you say, Watson? No finer thing in a man than a hearty appetite, if you want my opinion.

Four, five rashers of bacon. Grilled tomatoes, mushrooms. Maybe even a banger on top. Fried
bread, a few fried kidneys, and a cup of good hot tea afterwards! Real men love their tucker, by golly, and I'm not ashamed to say that I do too.

Not that bloody fish nonsense though; I don't care for your denizens of the deep. Nasty, slimy
creatures; beady eyes. Their eyes seem to follow you around the room, Watson, ever notice that? No bloody eyes on sausages though, what? No fear of a pork chop spying on you, or a slice of toast taking notes. That's why it's men's food Watson, men's food.

Damnit man, but you're quiet tonight! Down in the dumps, eh? Tell you what, let's do riddles until
bedtime; that always cheers you up. Then we'll get an early night, what d'you say? Nothing like a nice cozy bed to smooth the cares away, eh Watson?



Ah, there you are Watson - finally dragged yourself out of bed, eh? Not before time either, I
should say. Your breakfast is cold as charity by now, and you'll be lucky to find another cup of tea in the pot.

Damnedest thing happened this morning, Watson. I was reading the Times, doing the crossword -what's a three letter word meaning "flightless bird"? -- when there was a knock at the front door so loud that it woke up poor old Fifi. Well, you know me Watson, when was the last time I ever opened a door to a stranger, eh? Could have been a foreigner for all I knew. Or worse. But you were still off in the land of Nod, snoring like a bloody steamroller, and I didn't have the heart to rouse you. Besides, I was already dressed and decent, and God alone knows why it takes you so long to get out of your pyjamas. So I went to the door myself.

Now I'd half expected some darkies trying to sell me soap or religion or the like, but when I
opened the door, there wasn't a blessed soul to be seen. But then I looked down at the doormat, and what d'you suppose was there? A bowl of cherries. Bing cherries, in milk. Imagine the scene, Watson: coconut matting, with a white china bowl on top with Bing cherries in it. And milk. And
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

11 no clue where it came from.

Well, naturally Watson, I was more than a little intrigued by this, so I picked up the bowl to
inspect it a bit more closely. I brought the blessed thing back in here, where I'd left my reading glasses, and put it on the dining table. Right here, as a matter of fact. You can still see the ring on the tablecloth. Then I fished around in the milk a little to see if there was anything else in there but...

Damn it all Watson! Have you been listening to a word I've said? Not one bloody word have you
heard, you selfish pig! Oh, but my mother was right about you!



Know what, Watson? It's time we checked those teeth of yours again.
Open wide. My God, Watson, do you ever clean your teeth? I swear I can smell last Thursday's supper and see
last Wednesdays breakfast, damnit! I've been meaning to mention this, Watson, but your personal hygiene isn't all it might be.

You'd better buck up, my lad. I know you've had a fit of the blues lately, but you can't let yourself
go the dogs y'know. Just because you're down in the dumps doesn't mean that you can entirely give up bathing for heaven's sake. You're still a handsome man, Watson - don't go spoiling it, you ninny.

I would have thought that Christmas would have bucked you up a little bit, Watson. Normally it
does. You seemed to be having great fun playing charades yesterday, by golly, and yet today, you're gloomier than a wet weekend. I don't understand you one little bit sometimes, Watson.

You can be a bit of an oddity sometimes. I mean, what was all that babble about last night? 3:30 in
the morning, and there you were, crying like a baby. As if I could find your "innocence" when it's dark as the devil's soul in the bedroom, and I'm sleepy from too much pigeon pie.

There are times you can be a real trial, Watson, a real trial. Y'know what, Watson? I'm going to put this whole thing down to your being overtired. You were
up early on Christmas day, to bed way too late, and your're up late again tonight. I think you're just over-tired, old friend. Get your PJs on, and get into bed, you silly. Tell you what: You can have "Winker" tonight if you'ld like. That always bucks you up a bit. What say you? See you at eight for breakfast tomorrow. Last one to the table pays!

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.



fter the

There you are! Why weren't you at the party, you juggins?
I don't mind admitting, Watson, that I had a drink or two this evening.
Maybe five or six, no one's counting tonight, eh? Here's a good one, Watson, heard old Spencer tell it tonight. We all roared when we heard it. Well, I seem to have forgotten the details, but it definitely involved mutton, that much I do know. And a bike, I believe.

Watson, you are an excellent fellow, most excellent. Did I ever tell
you that? Did I ever show you how to dance the Polka? Or the Czardas? Oh, it's an eastern European dance, not many people know it -- well, except for eastern Europeans, I suppose. Learned it when I was 22, in Croydon of all places -- it's a bit like the Bunny Hug.

Here -- I'll show you how. Just hold on to me and follow my every move. Careful now -- every
move, Watson, or you're liable to trip.

Give me a hand up man. We'll clean that up in the morning. It was only glass anyway. I'll teach
you the Czardas tomorrow: obviously you're not up to dancing tonight.

But you're still an excellent fellow, and it's a damn and rotten shame if a chap can't say that to his
pal. You are top-hole, Watson, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You're one of the best.

So why did you skip the party? Oh, for God's sake man, if you're going to start the water works,
I'm going to bed. Just tell me tomorrow, or write me one of your little notes.



Taking a Bath

Now no one could call me a stick-in the-mud Watson; I've nothing against a little originality. You
tie your boots, I'll tie mine, what? But good God, some fellows just take it too bloody far, if you ask me.

There's some of them seem to actually work at being disconcerting. Take this morning, for instance. I went out to take a bath. I'd dawdled long enough that there were
others around for once - two of them as it happens. There they were, blocking the the bath-house entrance, chit-chatting away as if there were all the time in the world. Blighters. One of them was leaving, the other'd just arrived seemingly, and I couldn't help but overhear some of what they were saying. Their conversation ended with this little gem from the newcomer: - Well, I can assure you that I have nothing like the expenses they say, because my Aunt Elizabeth's gentleman-friend is my financial advisor...
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Well naturally, Watson, I wouldn't have dreamed of trying to make head or tail of that. It still
gives me the creeps to think about it though...

As it happens, the fellow that spilled the beans about his cash flow came
into the stall (D'you say stall about bath-houses?) next to mine. Well, I don't need to tell you Watson, the walls in that place are like bloody rice-paper, they're so thin. You can hear every little splash. And ripple.

So my neighbor, Elizabeth's nephew, starts raising bloody Hell in there.
You'd have sworn there was a seals' board meeting going on. And with a particularly nasty takeover fight in progress.

Then, all of a sudden, silence. He broke off whatever the hell he was up to
to ring for the attendant. - You rang, Sir?, the attendant asked. - Yes - I need change for a Pound.

I'm still wondering, Watson. What the bloody Hell could make a naked man soaking in lukewarm
water drop everything else and ask for change for a Pound?



Old Friend

Damnedest thing, Watson. Last Tuesday, I went down to the "Ox and Buggery" for a pint or two,
and what d'you suppose happened?

This fellow was staring at me. Staring, staring, staring. Staring so damn hard, that I started to get
quite annoyed about it. For tuppence, I'd have punched him right in the face, and reserved the right to come back later with a kick in the teeth. - When you're quite done looking at me, you damned idiot,

I said eventually. But he came over to my table, calm as you please, and took my hand in his as if he were in love.
Bloody fool! --It's really you, and yet that's how you talk to me?

Hadn't the faintest bloody idea who it was.
--It's Louis. Louis Cannon, remember? --What? That's you, Cannon? I couldn't place you for a moment. But, if I might make so bold as to... Didn't you use
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

14 to have blond hair and blue eyes? --That's right. I dyed my hair and eyes. I look better as a brunette, don't you think?

Poor old Cannon! It was so good to see him again - it had been such a long time. So we unwrapped a few memories. How's what's-his-name doing? How about thingy? Remember old so-and-so? Times gone by now,

Cannon and I were in the same class at school. I don't remember any more which of us was the
bigger trouble-maker, but we certainly had some laughs back then.

He started raiding his father's house each morning - his father was an ironmonger - and every day
he'd bring in some knick-knacks or other: knives, screws, locks, magnets (I loved the magnets, Watson.)

In my capacity as a pharmacist's son, I'd bring in snacks: like cough-drops, or dates. Or I'd bring in
syringes (joy!), or orthopedic devices you could use to make slingshots.

One day - God! What a laugh that was! - I came in armed with a box of cookies. Each one
containing, if memory serves, a full half-ounce of strychnine.

No one in the class took more than a single bite of the treacherous treats, but you had to be there
an hour later to see my schoolchums' little white faces! God knows, I laughed myself silly.

We didn't learn much that day. But what a long time ago that was, Watson.

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.




Silence, Watson, naught but silence tonight.
I detest the silence Watson, d'you know that? Oh don't get me wrong - I like quiet all right. But not
silence. Quiet lets a man concentrate on his work, and when you're done you can have a riproaring good time to celebrate the end of the working day. But silence just lets a man listen to his heart beat. Ever notice that, Watson? Your own bloody heart-beat, reminding you that you're mortal eighty times a minute. Silence lets you listen to that, Watson, and I don't want to listen any more.

Come over here and look out of the window a moment. With this weather, not a soul about sensible fellows. Normally there's a few revellers around at this time of night for us to watch together, old friend, but tonight just silence, and empty streets. Empty streets. Time was when we'd be a couple of the revellers ourselves. Where did the happy times go Watson? Where did they go? And why did they have to leave this damned silence behind them?

I'll close the curtains Watson - I can see you're getting chilly. Or is it the silence that's getting to
you too? Silence can do that to a man. Silence can eat a man's soul from the inside out.

Heavens! I need to snap out of this, and pronto! I'll make us both a pot of tea, what d'you say? A "wee dram" in both? Why not? It's hard, is what it is, Watson. Listening to your own heart-beat, listening to your own thoughts
for once. Those damned reminders that you're going to die - your heart reminding you eighty times a minute that there's only so many times that it's going to knock on the inside of your chest. One day you're going to have to see who's there. Makes you long for a little noise for a distraction.

Well, it's starting to warm up in here a little with the kettle going. Be a good sport, and go and get
my service revolver out of my top drawer, there's a good lad.

Fine workmanship, wouldn't you say? Damn nice piece of work; look at this a second. Good
Lord! Who the bloody hell left it loaded? Hang on, I'll find a rag you can use.

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.




From Sumatra

Dear uncle Alex,
I have only a short time to write before our expedition leaves Pundjang and pushes up the
nameless river that leads to our fortunes in the high jungle of Sumatra. Our guides expect trouble, and we have spent many long hours combing the waterfront for reliable weapons, to little avail. This beastly tropical heat and the clouds of rank salty air that befoul this place seem to eat at the works of Western hands with an especially fierce tooth, such that even the best Bristol barrels coated with sweet oil are soon tan with rust.

Yes, the river that leads from this port is nameless, despite it's size. The indigenous population
seldom look upon it's waters, even though most of their habitations are built on rickety bamboo platforms over the slugish waters. They seem to regard it with an especial hatred, and Yiti, my houseboy, has taught me a special curse to say should I ever catch for myself one of the white eels which are it's most prolific denizens. These eels form the staple diet in this region, but the river is said to poison them if one does not recite the curse, thus scaring the native intelligence of the waters into withdrawing the contamination.

The temperature rarely drops below 110 degrees, even during the night. Sometimes the air is so
cloying that even the confines of my netting seem stifling, and I have dragged them down in a rage, shouting and cursing until the guides come to calm me and try to prevent my shaking our hut from it's pilings in my anger. You know how reserved I have always been, but reserve serves little to combat the frustration of dealing with matters here. How I long to be sitting in your parlour, drinking mulled wine with you and Watson while a cheery fire roars in the grate, and outside a blanket of white coats the world... The comforts of familiarity are distant. I have only medicinal gin to distract my mind; foul stuff, brewed by Dutch miners on the outer islands where the nitrate fields are, and not much left of it either.

Wherever we go, a swarming mob of brown faces surrounds us, their damn jabbring fills the air
as they discuss the strangers, and small hands twist and prod at our bodies. It is only their curiosity that impels them to this behaviour, and not malevolent intent, but the effects are similar to a hazing at Rugby. Carlson has already fallen foul of the local constabulry, striking out one day and knocking a small boy from the bamboo walkway we were crossing. He had barely hit the water before a catchanga (a giant garfish, and not the worst of the local aquatic menaces) rose from the mud and tore his body in two. We watched aghast as the white eels, spurned to a frenzy by the smell of blood, swarmed over the little torso. Carlson has been imprisoned in a small cage, barely tall enough to stand in, and I fear his reason may be going. At night his cries are awful. How glad I will be to leave this place.

Anyway, as you know, on the fourteenth we will leave and pilot our steamer up the river. Name or
no, it cannot prevent us from learning it's secrets. Secrets they remain, uncle Alex; none of the local hunters and travellers we have questioned has given us the slightest clue as to what we may find. The strange blue coral-like branches we have spied floating past in the water, the pulsing crimson glow over the jungletops on nights of no moon, the tiny black specks that crawl slowly across the eastern sky as though an endless procession of zeppelins were passing, all remain a mystery. The superstitions of the local inhabitants run deep, and they do not question what they
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

17 cannot explain. Many times dear Yiti has tried to explain their custom, "fahgnah", or the "mystery that remains". Thus the nameless river, thus the way they huddle in their huts when the roaring volcanic sound hoots out of the foothills at dusk.

I must finish in haste. I hear the pilot starting the engines of his old Dornier. Best wishes to you
and Mr Watson, and send me your prayers that I may survive this adventure.

Yours faithfully,
James Peasworth Esq.




Well, here's a how-d'you-do, Watson! Got a letter from Mary's boy, James. Remember him?
Pasty-faced, looked like he thought too much? There's some bloody wog on the stamp, so I'd imagine the boy's still travelling, what! Sumatra. Where in God's name is that? Beyond Calais, I imagine. All I need to know about the bloody place. Brown skinned ruffians, with their turbans and their houkahs. Spitting on your shoes, and offering you their sister for three drachmas or whatever it is they call that toilet-paper they use for money.

Says it's hot there. He must be delirious. Hot in January, I ask you - how in heaven's name could it
be hot in January? The boy must take me for an utter fool Watson.

Going up river, he says. Well, God speed to the lad! Hope he gets there in one piece. Maybe he'll
write again when he gets there. I always like getting letters Watson. Always have.

What are you doing to make that strange noise?

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.



rom the


Dear Uncle Alex, and Watson,
Thank you for the socks, and the cologne. I’m drinking the dregs now, and Anderson sends special thanks to Watson for knitting such excellent covers for his stumps. They serve to keep the smell under control; that is, until he removes them, an event we take every opportunity to postpone. We all know the dear boy is not long for this world, all except him, and he assures us he is feeling much more pucka even as he peels off the clotted wool and squeezes the wriggling life from the shreds of tattered flesh where his shins now end. There are giant clams here, with serrated jaws. We lie, prostrated by the heat, on the deck of this festering boat, trying not to breath too deeply. The air is like fire. The river slaps the boat gently. The natives grunt each time their poles reach the river bottom and they grunt again as they push us forward. They never rest. They are served, on the hour, with a special tea made by a twisted, capering dwarf of an old man who boils his brew constantly over a small charcoal brazier. It makes their eyes shrink and retreat into their sockets, so it seems at times as though a crew of the recently dead were rowing us to our doom. Mysteries surround us here. A troop of monkeys cross the river ahead of the boat, leaping from tree to tree across the water, where the branches touch. Their fur is patchy, and large red toadstools grow from their skin. Several fell into the river, and they are indeed fungus and not some strange marking. The natives look on impassive at this, watching with weary disdain our excitement as we fish the fallen mushrooms from the river. They are unmoved by the glittering curtains of mist that wink and shine like spin silver as we move between them. Some sort of metallic gas; it seems to pass through our flesh as we drive forward, instead of parting to let us through. There are underwater trees here, deep in the still broad pools that the river periodically enters. Forests of them, tall and old, and permanently submerged. Their fruit swells to the size of a large pumpkin, according to out guides, and are filled with gas. When it breaks from a branch, a fruit can easily break a canoe in half should it surface directly beneath. For this reason the natives never fish the pools in that season. Only one event has so far roused the natives from their stolid docility, and that was damn odd. Tarquin, wishing only to help, searched his bag and came up with a sharp knife which he thought Anderson could use to trim the most unsightly pieces of tissue from his stumps. Not just any knife, but a cheese knife, with the pointed fork tip for impaling cubes of soft cheese. He had only to hold it aloft and begin to approach our unfortunate friend when our rowers began shouting. They rushed him as a mob, and, wresting the knife from his hand, cast it far out to the center of a wide pool. Poor Tarquin was heartbroken, crying that it was a present from his mummy (who I happen to know is a beastly cow who quite probably stole this piece of cutlery from one of the houses at which she “do’s”). Anyway, this peculiar behaviour has not been repeated, and mostly our guides treat us with uninterested courtesy. They have been paid well, and will be paid further upon our return, but I sometimes get the impression they press on mostly for the curiosity of seeing which of us shall survive. I vow it shall be I! I will send several copies of this letter. One may get through. The jungle runners are not the most reliable of posts. Do tell Watson to stop worrying.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

19 James Peasworth Esq., somewhere in Sumatra.


ail Call,


Mail call, Watson!
There’s a catalogue for you, a bill for me, and a postcard addressed to both of us. I’ll read it to you if you want. It’s from young James again, the rascal – what’s he up to now?. Postmarked “Kumquat” or some such, can’t quite make it out. “Come hither” perhaps. Stamp still has the same wog in a Fez as his last letter, so I suppose he’s still in M’Bongo or whatever you call it. D’you know where my glasses are? He sends his regards, thanks you for the gifts, but then good Lord – it sounds like the young scamp isn’t enjoying his trip that much. Why on earth did they go to Africa, or Sweden or wherever the blazes M’Bongo is? Good heavens Watson – if you want to see the world, there’s always Kent. My word, young Anderson sounds to be in a bad way. Legs just stumps? That’s a bloody rotten thing to happen to a white man, eh Watson? Even if he was a Roman Catholic. There was a Roman Catholic at my college, did you know that? Seemed like a decent enough chap, although I always did wonder about some of the stains on his shirts. Walked with a limp. He was the only Roman Catholic I’d ever met, so I supposed at the time it was something to do with his religion. As it happens, it was. He’d been shot in an anti-Catholic riot in Manchester, but that wasn’t what I had in mind. What’s the damn word? Liturgical. Thank you Watson. You and your nose in books, eh? I thought it had some liturgical significance. Are you sure about liturgical? But the damnedest thing, Watson. He wouldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Not one blasted piece. Said it was to show respect for Jesus’ being made flesh then dying on a Friday. I could see his point to some extent, but Jesus wasn’t turned into a pair of lamb-chops, now was he? Good God, but I’d have a hard time being a Catholic if Jesus had been born as a plate of bacon and eggs, and died on a Sunday morning, what? But you can read the rest of James’ postcard yourself. I hope the youngster is all right though, Watson. I have a bit of a soft spot for him I admit, and God knows I don’t want to have to listen to Mary if anything should happen to the young pup. D’you remember how she behaved when Bertie got impetigo, and we thought he was a goner?

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.





Dear Uncle Alex (and Watson)
We have been forced to leave the boat and proceed on foot, for lack of rowers. Our native crew
have abandoned us, the swine! Good riddance, I say. They were a superstitious crew, and not to be trusted. They made the most terrible row when Anderson finally succumbed to his wounds and perished. Would you believe, they refused to carry his body to our destination and back again, for a decent burial? The stupid fools claimed that the smell of his liquifying body might attract spirits, or maybe monsters. We had to weight him down with scones and sink him in the river. He was getting quite ripe, even before he kicked the well known bucket.

Slowly and painful is our progress, as we hack a path through the dense sappy undergrowth. What
I wouldn't give for some decent food. The only animal we have been able to shoot is a species of hairless monkey who swing by long tails through the tallest trees. Their loathsome pale flesh is barely worth eating, and I wish again and again that we had defied the crew of the boat when they threw our stock of victuals from the deck. It seems some wheels of camembert were spotted amongst the cans, and this raised their ire to a remarkable degree. I'd rather the cheapest market cheddar to these monkeys and their wormy flesh.

I would send you both a souvenir of my travels, but unfortunately this message must go out by
carrier pigeon, and cannot weigh too much. It is my last pigeon. We ate the others. But, as we progress up the great grey green greasy limp oBo river, we must find our sustenance were we may.

James Peasworth Esq.,
Somewhere in Sumatra.




Another bloody Postcard, Watson. Young James again. Don't hear from the blighter in years and
then three in ten days. Well at least he's not asking for money, that's something.

Sounds like there's trouble afoot in M'Bongo, eh? Why the dickens do people choose to go abroad,
eh? Why do people choose to be foreign, come to that. Dashed fine place to live here - no chance of catching Beri-beri on the way to Victoria, eh? Not like those bloody foreign places. Diseases lurking everywhere, just waiting for you to let your damn guard down for a moment.

Frogs are the worst. All that bloody coughing. D'you know what a Frog once said to me Watson? He thought he was paying me a compliment,
the smelly little sod. He said "If I were not French, I would wish to be English". Well of course, I looked him in the eye, and said "If I were not English, I should bloody well wish I were".

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.




Pinafore Writes

Dear Mr. Holmes (and Watson);
I've been pining for your dear sweet nephew James for 6 months now. I know I've asked you a
hundred times but I must ask you now again; have your inquiries produced any tangible results?

I know my mother never liked him very much, and that incident with the butler puts his sexuality
in some question, but I do love him so, and regret that terrible day when he ran from the alter. He's probably off to the continent putting some Italian banker cartel in line or making mincemeat of some oil baron. If only he would write!

Please, please, please Mr. Holmes, find him with all haste, and I know my father, your friend, the
Inspector, will do right by you. You and he have had a long friendship, and I know he values your judgements.

Sally Pinafore




Now where did this come from, by cracky? Some skirt named Pinafore. Calls me “Mr. Holmes”,
confusing me with that other fellah. That’s normally enough to get me angry, as you know Watson. Remember that time when I had the whole of Scotland Yard at the front door asking for that blighter? Remember what I told them then? “Bugger off, you ninnies.” But I see she has something of a “thing” for young James, even if she can’t get my damn name right. I’ll write back to her later – explain the situation as best as I understand it. Too much Port in me right now, what? Y’know, I’ve a feeling these postcards may add up to something. I think I’ll keep them in a special place. My special place, you cod-faced fool. Why the dickens would I put them in your special place? Good Lord!

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.



rom the ungle


Dear Uncle Alexander Bell and Watson,
Things have taken a turn for the better since I last wrote. There we were, hacking our way through
mile after mile of aspidistra palm and wild celery, constantly assailed by various venomous reptiles and insects, our clothes in tatters, barely able to put one rotten-leather-clad foot in front of the other, when to our surprise we stumbled upon the hunting party of a Doctor Mario, and his various friends and servants.

Mario, despite his continental name, is a decent chap, well versed in the classics and a delight to
converse with. His camp is well appointed, irregardless of our isolation. He tells the most fascinating story regarding his presence here. Apparently he is a merchant, and was running a cargo of several tonnes of best English stilton from Portsmouth to Italy. Of course, one does not usually travel through this part of the world on such a journey, but the doctor assures us that his cargo is much improved in aroma by a leisurely sail through the islands, and that this is the secret of his trade.

He had just sailed into a berth in a nameless town a few miles down the coast from the one we set
out from, and from all reports it's exact twin with regards to sanitation and facilities, when he and his crew were accosted by the authorities. Having checked his manifest, the harbourmaster was adamant that he would have to untie and sail with the tide immediately, or face the full might of the local law for "disturbing the peace"! Imagine the hide of those darkies, trying to kick an honest trader out simply because of some local superstition! To make a long story short, he refused, and insisted on staying for one night at least. Thank God he had the foresight to take as much kit as his men could carry with him, for during the night a large crew of blackguards emerged from the filthy alleys and stormed the dock. They burnt his vessel to the waterline, and it's cargo melted and sizzled into the water. Upon seeing this, he decided that a little hunting expedition might be in order, and despite the lateness of the hour, he and his men set off forthwith.

Since we are headed in roughly the same direction, it seems logical to join forces and continue our
journey together. I have divulged the purpose of my quest to him, and so it seems only right that I should also perform the same courtesy for you.

I have rarely had much time for the fairer sex in my life, what with my studies and all. Science is
faithful, if cold, mistress, and she divulges her secrets with the greatest reluctance. Not so Miss Sally Pinafore. I doubt that you have ever heard of the lady, but she and I were engaged to be married! Yes, and our marriage was very nearly complete before I discovered that the notable swelling of her abdomen was because of a concealed cushion, rather than from a more serious condition. Indeed, it was only because the kindly dean of biology gave me access to the locked section of the library, that I was able to discover that the generation of new life within the body of a woman can not at all be caused by a kiss, no matter how long that kiss lasts. Nor is pregnancy caused by the placing of ones hands within the intimate places of a woman's clothing. During the ceremony, hastily convened in a seedy church in Brighton, I was able, without being noticed, to prick her swollen middle with a hatpin, and she evinced no pain. At that moment I knew that she was merely interested in my future inheritance, and had to leave the church immediately.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Ah, if you could see my face now you would think that I was a glass of fine port! At least I can
say that my reasons for leaving for these remote parts are not entirely tragic. During the course of my studies, I became aware of certain legends, sketchily reported in several journals over the years, of a lost tribe within the interior of Sumatra, who worship a being known as o'Bo, the "Hungry Idiot". Little is known of their practices, and I became determined to reach them before the missionaries come to convince them to leave their heathen ways. My parents were quite willing to lend me the money to mount an expedition, almost eager to see me leave on such a noble cause, and I was to set sail with my fellow students on a tramp steamer the day after my ignoble discovery at the altar rail.

Now I must finish, for we are about to pack and move on. Remember, if Sally is to write to you,
please do not inform her of my present whereabouts. I must admit that I do still think about her fondly, despite her attempted treachery. It may be that someday... but then again it may not.

Give my regards to Watson, James Peasworth Esq.,
somewhere in Sumatra.


hats’s not ungle


By Jove, look at this Watson! The young scamp enclosed a photograph of himself and Anderson.
Young James wasn't exaggerating about that poor devil Anderson being in a bad way by the looks of things, what? What's this? There's a handwritten note on the back.

"Shortly before the end. Anderson begged me to leave him behind, but I gladly picked him up and
carried him."

That's a good stout heart the boy has there, eh? English, through and through. That's the kind of
spirit I like in a man, Watson. Country first, then your friends, and only think of yourself last. Damn good. Win wars with spirit like that. English.

Here's the bloody strange part though, Watson. Looks to me more like young James is in the
Sudan than in the Karma-Sutra or wherever he claims he is. I always did think he was a little soft in the head, Watson - it wouldn't surprise me one little bit if the silly beggar got on the wrong boat. You mark my words, Watson, I'll bet you a fiver he's in the Sudan. Wonder if the fool will realize something's up when he sees his first camel.

Well, we'll find out what the devil's going on when we hear from young James again. Sounds like
a damn good job I didn't tell that Pinafore trollop young James's whereabouts, eh? I told her he was in Dartmoor, doing seven years hard labour for casuistry. That shut her up, silly woman.

Good Lord, the oven's hot Watson, did you know? Oh, not your bloody petit-fours again is it? Oh,
thank God for that; I can't stand those bloody things. But scones, splendid! We do have strawberry jam, I hope?

Well here's a thing, old chum. I'd put young James's letter down on the oven for a moment, and I'll
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

24 be damned if there isn't some new writing appeared on the back. Must have been some invisible ink or whatnot. Good scones by the way. Let's see what we have here. Damnation! You could have told me I was sitting on my glasses, you fool. Twice I've done that this week.

Well, I'll be jiggered. It seems young James might not have been telling us the whole truth about
that Anderson chap. Seems he might even have been telling pork-pies, as Sweeney might put it. What? Sweeney - the chap that delivers the monocles to next door. Tall, talks with a lisp?

Here - take a look at this if you would. You can read it while I slip down to my lawyer - have
young James written out of the will, the blighter. Just in case.




Dear Mother,
I fear this may be the last thing I will ever write. James' "somewhat adventurous fortnight
excursion" has turned into a hellish ordeal for all concerned and, I am very much afraid, my own doom. Though it is my dearest wish to spare you any bad news, I must admit that I am in a very bad way. I have lost my legs to the jaws of a terrible clam. I had tried to keep a positive outlook on things if only to aid the morale of the others (though I care not a whit for James, at this point) but I must admit to myself that this may very well be the end.

My suffering is entirely the fault of James Peasworth. Oh, interminable rotter, foul beast of a man.
He became excited, seeing at the bottom of the river we travel, a group of gargantuan clams. Overcome by greed, he insisted that I swim to the bottom and check them for pearls, offering me naught but a feather to tickle their jaws open. When I refused and attempted to explain to him the difference between a clam and an oyster (as you no doubt recall, I spent a good deal of my childhood studying and collecting molluscs of all types... fascinating creatures) he simply laughed and pushed me in, calling to me, "Don't be such poor sport, Anderson!" The foul creatures were upon me in an instant, snapping at me and churning fiercely in the water, though I would have escaped with only minor injuries had not James felt the need to indulge in childish games, dunking me repeatedly as I attempted to clamber back into the boat. Only when the water turned red with my life's fluid did he allow me to escape.

Of course he apologized profusely when I was finally safe, and claimed to have been unaware of
the danger I had been in. Filthy liar! He has always been jealous of me, ever since I bested him in the Track and Field competitions at Oxford. He delights the loss of my limbs, I know it, and has several times in the past few days hinted at arranging a rematch between the two of us "when I have recovered." I shall never forgive him for this, though I mask my feelings in the dim hope that I will be given the opportunity to strike him down in an unguarded moment. This does not seem likely, however, as I become weaker by the day. Too weak by far to carry out any meaningful form of revenge. I thought the moment was upon me when a blade was offered to me by Tarquin. But before I could grasp it, the thing was flung into the river by the native guides, superstitious louts. Would that they were, for just a moment, Englishmen so that they might comprehend, even if only a little, what lowly, unworthy creatures they truly are. Oh, cruel fate!
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


I am writing this on the back of one of James' letters to his uncle, as James and the rest have
forbidden from taking up the pen after a most indignant letter to a local official resulted in severe beatings to be administered to each of us (though I sincerely profess my words were completely righteous and just). I have managed to pilfer James' papers and inkwell so that I may scratch out this missive. As I write this, James and the others are passed out on the deck. Sick from port I suspect, though they told me there was none available so that I might have something to numb the throbbing pain of what were once my legs. I can still feel them, sometimes, you know. I feel them itching and tingling when I awake in the dead of night. Oh the woe that overcomes me when, unthinking, I move to scratch them and find nothing there.

I swear I shall have my revenge on Peasworth, even if it mean I must escape Hell itself and pursue
him from beyond the grave.

Your loving son, Anderson



Getting Dark

Evening, Watson.
Yes, light the lamps if you want old chum. I'd just been sitting here for a while, thinking a little hadn't really noticed it getting dark. I'd been watching the world outside, if you want to know the truth. You can see out better when it's darker inside, ever notice that, Watson? Why should that be?

I feel old tonight Watson, damned old. I don't see so well any more, I break another bloody tooth
ever time I bite something harder than tissue paper, I have bruises that never seem to heal, and aches that never go away.

You're right, Watson. Staring out of this window's just getting me down. Cup of tea - capital.
Where's that cake your mother sent? Could use a bit of cake with a cuppa. She sent two cakes? What the bloody hell for?

At least there's one thing I'm not too old for, eh Watson? Ha - you know what I mean, you rascal! Well! That was a rather saucy wink, if you like. Scoundrel. Kettle's boiling, Watson. Well, because I made the tea last night and the night before that, and the
nights before that for at least the last two weeks. Good Lord man, hardly going to kill you to make a bloody pot of tea, now is it?

Thankyou. I know what I was meaning to tell you... I met the Devil last night. Don't you tell me "nonsense", you clown; I was the one who was there. It was down at the "Goat
and Sextant", and it was the bloody Devil all right. Here's his card, damnit - take a look. Struck me
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

26 as a dashed interesting chap as a matter of fact - until I realized that getting friendly with the Devil isn't too good an idea. When I really started to think about him being the Devil, I began to wonder if maybe he hadn't put some thoughts into my head. Bloody complicated, dealing with the Devil. No sooner are you congratulating yourself on shutting him out, than you realise that you're committing the sin of pride. Dashed fine pickle you can get yourself into that way.

First you're wondering if he's putting thoughts in your head. Then you're wondering if he made
you wonder if he's putting thoughts in your head. Then of course you start wondering about that one too, and you realise you could go on for ever like that. What's that called when a thing can go on and on for ever? "Infinite something" - "Infinite regrets", maybe? Something like that.

Bloody complicated, whatever it's called. So I bought two more pints, and waited until he had to go to the mens' room. Then I finished his
beer while he was gone, and ran like blazes.

D'you suppose he made me do that?



By cracky, Watson - I've just been checking the calendar, and it's been over a fortnight since we
last heard from young James. I wonder how the young tike's doing?

Well, he did say that the postal service wasn't too good where he was. But I hope that's all it is,
what? Hate to think of the waterworks from Mary if anything untoward should happen, eh?

On the bright side, no more young hussies chasing after him at least. What was that last one's
name? Sally Skirt or Silly Overcoat or some such nonsense.

Hope he writes soon though. Been growing rather fond of the lad these last few months. Other
than that Anderson business of course. That was a dashed poor show on his part.

Like "Pirates of Penzance". That's a dashed poor show too. Wouldn't give you tuppence for it.




Dear Mr. Peasworth:
As efforts to locate you have been so far fruitless, I am sending this letter to your uncle, I assume
he is a man of honour and will see that it gets to you.

I am Apu Koomeswaray, Esq., and I represent the family of Captain Inspector Pinafore. To be
honest, the Inspector is rather relieved that this marriage is not going to take place and wants nothing more than to put the entire affair behind him.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


However, there are several financial matters that he is anxious to resolve. The inspector has no
hope that you will honour a number of sizeable debts that you have accumulated in the course arranging the affair, which was grudgingly obliged to pay as father of the bride, but now since the wedding is obviously off by your own doing, it is his belief, and his legal right, to reclaim those debts.

Chief among those bills are £1500 for a fully catered bachelor party complete with male "exotic
dancer", the rental of a small menagerie of rare South American monkeys, and the complete loss of every liquor and tonic in the Inspector's gin cabinet, as well as the subsequent damage to his home, which is many times the cost of the party.

Add to this the bill for the ring which the Inspector generously purchased for you and which you
signed a promisory note for. This probably would not have been an issue with him except that the ring mysteriously vanished right about the time of your own disappearance.

In any case I am hopeful that you will address these matters in as timely a way possible, or we
may be forced to take matters to the civil courts.

Yours, Apu Koomeswaray




Dear uncle Alex and dear old Watson,
I have hardly been able to spare the strength to write to you recently, as my otherwise sound
constitution still fails to acclimatise to the heat. Luckily we have not been travelling much recently, as soon after I met our travelling companions Dr. Mario and his crew, we had a spot of luck: an abandoned planters mansion emerged from the jungle, and we have been ensconced within it's decaying halls since.

There are few clues as to who built this edifice, or why. Little remains of the coffee and banana
crops the former inhabitants tried to cultivate in this capricious region. This is the reason no farms have been established closer to the coast, and I see little hope that any of this land might be made fruitful no matter how heavy the hand of the brave farmer who tried. Of course the local labour cannot be trusted, and it may be that a team of dedicated Englishmen might wrest bounty from soil that the lax and lazy hand of the indigenous blackamoor may barely touch.

I will write more soon, but for now it is all I can do to pen these few words. One of the doctor's
servants will be setting out for the river this evening, and may find a passing canoe to carry the mail back to civilisation. If you receive this letter it will have happened thusly.

Best wishes, James.

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.





Dear Uncle Alex and Mr. Watson,
The rains have come, and even as I write they are cooling the air and bringing relief to the jungle.
All members of our little band are in high spirits, and looking forward to continuing our journey.

I must tell you more about our current habitation, the planters mansion. We came upon it quite
unexpectedly, literally bumped into it, in fact. Our machetes rang upon it's stone walls as we were cutting our way through a particularly thick stretch of undergrowth. Our first guess was that we had discovered an ancient temple, left behind by a lost civilisation, but these rather picaresque imaginings were soon banished by a more useful if mundane reality.

It is the home of an unknown land baron, built over a century ago, and abandoned seemingly in
great haste after a few years of habitation. We infer these things from many clues; from the state of the contents, the surroundings, and from the few remaining written records within. For instance, there is a road, now completely covered over with forest mould, and punctured with stout trees, that leads from the front of the building to a place where a large expanse of wooden storehouses were most likely built. All that remains now are the rotted remains of the stoutest timbers, and the stone floors, in the same state as the road. This road leads further, running straight through the forest for several leagues to the edge of the river. There it ends, a few black pilings still visible in the green water attesting to the presence at one time of a wharf, for the delivery of supplies and the loading of cargo. I also mentioned to you the few remain trees and plants, notably coffee and coacao bushes, which now grow as their ancestors did, stunted and overshadowed by their taller forest brethren. (I must remember to research if there is any reason why so many useful and domesticated plants from the rain forests, such as the avocado pear and the banana, started their careers playing small parts in the forst under-storey. Is it because they were the only ones within the reach of men, or because they are fast growing enough to be profitable to cultivate?)

Upon first discovering our progress halted by the stone wall, we turned right and continued along
until we reached a window. The wooden shutters had long since decayed, and we were able to gain entrance by climbing the vines which had attempted to colonise the space within. We found ourselves in a large room, at one time a study. The floor was solid, being limestone flags, and the inner walls of the building were mostly of good brick, which had withstood the prying fingers of the voracious vines well. The furnishings had mostly gone the way of all things made by men, except for those made of brass and copper. There were green mounds where armchairs had once stood. What once had been carpets were now lawns of dark moss as fine as the greensward at Kew. Oaken chairs were crumbling sticks, the borers having rendered them as tenuous as spongecake. The bookcases had long since released their loads, their boards hanging down and trailing in the rich mulch of uncounted pages.

Moving cautiously, and well aware of the dangers such a place might contain, being such a fine
home for such creatures as love the dark and seek out damp places, we explored further. Room after room revealed themselves to us, and we moved as dreaming sleepwalkers. The green light from the overgrown windows revealed many wonders. The kitchen was quite sound, although the chimneys were hopelessly stopped with epiphyte plants. A pipe descended from the ceiling, ending in a corroded lump which must have once been a tap. Dr. Mario swung at this ball of rust with his shooters stick, and as it broke away a steady stream of fresh water immediately shot forth
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

29 into the waiting copper beneath. He was obliged to thrust the end of his beloved walking stick into the hole to preserve this supply of water, which had it's origins in a tank on the roof.

We found a grand entrance hall, it's walls adorned with paintings which most likely depict the
original inhabitants, and their family and ancestors. The rich oils have been darkened by time and the humid air, but the rot and moss have left most of their surface alone. They were British, to my eye, and very solid and upstanding people, of serious mien. The brass plates which once were inscribed with their names have been reduced to verdigris now.

We continued up the grand marble staircase, to the second storey. Here the rooms have suffered
much worse. The furnishings of the bedrooms have been totally destroyed, and we have since shovelled them out of the windows in order to inhabit these rooms ourselves. The roof, of slate, which I surmise is of Tuscan origin (and which must have cost a pretty fortune to import) is mostly intact. Now brittle, it may not last much longer, and there are some places where falling branches have smashed the stone inwards and admitted the rain.

Upon completing our first inspection, we decided to halt our expedition for a few days and regain
our strength in this sanctuary. To this purpose we split up and set to work, removing the most noisesome of the garbage, and dispatching whatever lurking vermin we could discover. Soon the building was much cleaner and more pleasant, and our men were happily bedding down for the approaching night.

Mario found me at this time attempting to dislodge the worst growth from the kitchen chimney
with a bamboo pole, and he wordlessly gestured for me to follow him. In silence we proceeded out to the entrance hall, and around the staircase to the rear of it's first flight, where he had discovered a small door of zinc, set into the stone. With a merry smile he mimed drinking from a bottle, and, producing a length of thick copper wire from his jacket, he knelt to try and pick the lock. At the first touch, though, the door swung inwards, revealing that the lock had already been forced some time in the past.

Behind the door we discovered a short passage, followed by a steep spiral staircase. The doctor
had already provisioned himself with an acetylene lantern, which cast it's cool white glare over the well preserved stonework. It was the product of a masters' hand, and bore few signs of the intrusion of moisture, even though we must have already been beneath the water-table.

Down we crept, through two turns of the staircase, until we reached the basement. We found
large, echoing halls of white granite, and too our extreme happiness, plenty of wine. Many of the bottles were full of rank black vinegar, or had suffered from cork rot and leaked their contents onto the floor. The air was full of the sharp smell of lost vintages. There was also much broken glass about, that crunched and splintered beneath our boots. At first I thought this was the result of the explosions of champagne or some other effervescent brew such as ginger beer.

Rounding a corner, we came upon a strange sight. Reams upon reams of bandages lay before us,
scattered in heaps upon the floor. They were strips of linen cloth, rough edged, and the overall effect was as if an Egyptian mummy had disrobed in a hurry and left his cast off raiments in heaps for the laundry girl to pick up. The good doctor grew very agitated at this, and strode forwards to kick at the dusty heaps, and he swung around with his lantern raised high, casting it's beams into the deep, empty shelves which lined this part of the catacombs.

"I believe we are too late m'boy." he said at last in a sad voice.
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"What do you mean, sir" I asked, "and what do these bandages signify?" "Cheese. At one time a fine store of cheese was kept here, and in these conditions it would have
been perfectly edible too, if a little dry in the crust. Many wheels of cheddar, stilton and cheshire, of gloucester and French brie, may once have graced these shelves."

I remembered his professional interest in the subject of cheese, and for a moment shared his
sadness. My mood soon brightened, however, when I turned and beheld the walls of stacked bottles that lay behind us, winking in the light from his swinging lantern.

"Well, at least there is sufficient wine, and with enough wine one might forget about cheese, at
least for awhile!" I quipped.

"Not I, though. Tell me, do you think we should reveal this place to the members of your party?" I thought hard on this, although the decision was obvious. I should tell you that my expedition at
this time consists of eight men: Henry Bottington, Tarquin Westmont, Harrison Ford, Michael Jagger, Edgar Rice-Krispen, Peter Bagge, Burton Bell, and I. (Poor whatshisname Anderson will be remembered, and I have sworn to compensate his parents handsomely, when and if we become fabulously wealthy.) All good men, but not the sort to be allowed unlimited access to strong drink, at least not under these circumstances.

Doctor Mario agreed, as he was worried for the health of his crew. So we selected a few choice
flagons and left the hidden basement, ascending to the air and light above. As we emerged and the doctor carefully fastened the door and arranged some fallen paintings to conceal it from prying eyes, he mused upon the mystery of the cheeses.

"First my cargo, then this. I would not be surprised if the presence of so much cheese was in fact
responsible for the abandonment of this house. Whether the inhabitants were driven out by cheese-hating natives, or slaughtered by thieves, we cannot tell."

"There have been no human remains in the rooms." I reminded him. "It seems most likely that the
occupants simply left when their investment failed."

"Maybe." he mused, and was quite shrouded in thought for the rest of the evening. It was
delightful, to share the sweet vintage with the lads, and sing a few old songs. I do believe the life here could be quite pleasant, if not for the weather. But, as you told me so very, very often when I was young, climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.

I trust that you both are keeping well, and that my parents have not been bothering you for news. I
have been writing Mummy, but have not related anything of importance to her - she worries so.

Should it prove imperative to contact me, you should be able to reach me in short order via
zeppelin mail. I have been sending these missives via the regular flights between Los Angeles and Bangkok, and by this route any mail sent to myself care of the House of the Purple Poppy, Pundjang, Sumatra, will be able to be retrieved by the traders who sometimes ply the river waters in their shallow draft boats. We hope to contact one within the next day or two to carry our mail out and negotiate the purchase of more supplies, before we push on beyond the reach of commerce. I hope the rains cease before then.

Wish me good luck gentlemen. Soon we must leave for the mountains.
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James Peasworth Esq.,



Diary: I

After many days of researching & cross-referencing, I've found some entries in my millions pages
long journal referring to my visit to Sumatra & my brief meeting with James Peasworth. I've gone ahead & omitted sections that describes happenings as mentioned in his letters. His narratives are much more detailed &, well, accurate than mine as I tended to drink a bit in those days & sometimes my entries tend to get a little hazy. This is my effort to fill in any blanks.

Earlier in the year, I had participated in the Gare du Nord robbery in Paris under the leadership of
the brilliant Adam Worth. My take was roughly a half a million in jewels & notes. It would be some time, however, before I would be able to reap the benefits of my crime as most of Europe was on the lookout for us desperate criminal types.

It was with this incentive that I headed toward Indonesia. Actually, the spur was twofold. First,
yeah, I was on the lam. But, secondly, I had been itching to search for the famous "Philosopher's Cheese" which to my understanding was hidden somewhere on a farm or plantation in Sumatra near Mt. Kerinci.

A word about the Philosopher's Cheese. It was said to be the most delicious cheese ever created,
capable even of incurring sexual arousal if not outright orgasms despite orientation. It was that good. My goal was to find the cheese & analyse it so that we could recreate the recipe.

My team & I encountered Peasworth & his lot after we'd been thrashing about in the jungle for a
couple of weeks. I don't even remember what I told him I was there for. I do remember that I kept the cheese business to myself for fear of betrayal. No one on my team knew either. Peasworth himself struck one as a bit effete, but after getting to know him a little I discovered that he was a good enough fellow who drank his share & otherwise pulled his weight for the most part.

Excerpts: Entry (unintelligible), 1898, Thursday I'm wasting my fucking time. "Philosopher's Cheese" my ass. I think Worth just fed me a line to
get me as far as possible from Europe. Asshole. He still denies having stolen Gainsborough's "Duchess of Devonshire" all those years ago but I know he's got it. Maybe, if I threaten to rat to J.P. Morgan, I'll get to see a piece..

Entry (unintelligible), 1898, Friday Found a plantation. No fucking cheese. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Plenty of wine, though, in the cellar.
Some of it still good. Convinced Peasworth to keep it to himself. Don't know if I can trust him to (unintelligible). My team's so desperate they'd eat the bottles if you let them.

Entry (unintelligible), 1898, Saturday Hung over. Diarrhoea. I'm in a bad mood.
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Entry (unintelligible), 1898, Sunday Still feel like crap. (Unintelligible) from Marie Curie
although I doubt any of her mail will reach me out here. She's probably to busy to write what with her fantasy "Radium" experiments. What a waste!! At least I'm looking for something important. Fucking Peasworth is always writing & getting letters. I don't know how he does it. Still sick. I've taken to wearing leaves in my pants to avoid soiling any more clothes. One more crack from any of these assholes about my diaper & I'm killing (unintelligible).



Rum House

Well here’s a slice of luck, Watson! Just after we hear from that lawyer johnnie, we finally have an
address for young James. I believe I left the blighter’s letter over by your chair didn’t I? Let’s take a look. Here it is, under your periodical. What the devil interest do you have in corsets, you monkey? You’ll be the death of me one day Watson. Did you read young James’ letter? Sounds like a damn rum house he found, eh? Still, it’s a roof over his head at least – better than that damnable camping, what? If you want my opinion, loitering within tent should be against the blasted law. I’m not so sure I like the sound of this Mario chap though. No – nothing James said, I just don’t like the sound of a chap named Mario. Touch of the tarbrush in his ancestry, I shouldn’t wonder. Sounds like he could be an eyetie. Never cared for them. Knew a chap – worked at the foreign office, oddly enough – called Benito. He was a scoundrel, if ever you met one. Went to prison for embezzlement eventually – the dusky little devil had some very expensive habits apparently. I suppose this Mario chap would know him, with them both being Italian. Thick as thieves those people. Anyway, I’ll forward this lawyer chap’s letter to James, maybe even dash off a few lines myself. Is there anything you’d like to say to the youngster? No? All right, I’ll just send your regards then.




Dear Uncle Alexander and dear old Watson,
I trust you are both well, and that Watson hasn't had any more turns. I must protest most highly this unusual letter which you have forwarded to me. The claims made
by this wog lawyer Apu are quite without any virtue and are nothing more than the basest lies. It is obvious that the Pinafore family are trying to take advantage of the misunderstanding surrounding our abortive wedding plans, in an attempt to plunder my families coffers, using the possibility of scandal to force us to concede.

I must explain that the social function referred to in the letter was entirely funded from my own
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

33 pocket, and I would be happy to forward the various receipts and bills as soon as I have access to a more secure form of mail.

For instance, the monkeys were members of the species pan lascivious, the Brazilian
Contortionist Monkey, and are actually the mascot of the lodge of which I was a member during my time at university. Our lodge had provided funds to the noted philanthropist Lord Fidley Dee, so he could establish a colony of these rare creatures at his private menagerie in Twickenham. Many nights I accompanied the lads to the Dee estate to view these beautiful nocturnal creatures, with their charming lack of modesty and amusing antics. Though I never had the nerve to debag myself and enter their enclosure, as the other men did, as my constitution has never been terribly strong, and the potent musky smell that the females exude from their glands did not appeal to me. But you can see that they were an essential part of the festivities, as was the dancer, a young boy from Bali named Numan Peeniring. I must admit that I was somewhat embarrassed by the performance he provided, and failed at times to see the traditional significance in much of his "traditional Balinese wedding dance". However, the lads were most appreciative, and he received many offers of future employment from them after the show.

As to the matter of the empty liquor cabinet, I can only suggest that mister Pinafore look much
closer to home for the culprit. Many times during our courtship I smelt the vinous vapours of overindulgence on the breath of his daughter, and she often invited me to accompany her in her furtive tippling. But not I. I assure you the cabinet was empty when we began our revels, and anyway, our tastes run more towards brown ale and stout than to the stronger cordials of which the gentleman (and his daughter) are most fond.

There was no damage to his home, other than some trifling staining of a rather threadbare carpet,
which occurred when some of the lads became over excited and couldn't contain themselves. I'm sure that a clever maid with a bottle of ether could clean it for less than £1500, or even 15 shillings.

Lastly, the ring, which I do have and have carried safely now through adventures that Mr.
Pinafore could not even begin to imagine. There was not time during my departure to return it, but it will be returned in due time, perhaps when this little matter has been settled. I suggest that you forward this letter, along with the enclosed original document, to the family lawyers Mssrs. Terribly, Terribly, Boring and Dull, so that they may compose a suitable reply.

I must confess this matter has left a foul taste in my mouth quite unrelated to the scurvy, and I
apologise for the delay in my reply. Please give my regards to the family, and should you hear any more from Miss Pinafore, I have changed my mind, do please inform her of my circumstances, and of the terrible danger I face on a daily basis, and do forward my invitation that she should join me here, with Doctor Mario and our crew of thirty-plus hardened men. I'm sure she would find the experience entertaining should she deign to join us.

I remain, yours faithfully,
James Peasworth Esq.

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Urgent Wire




Diary: II

Journal Entry, Date illegible Feeling better today. An able to stand erect without cramping up & shitting myself. Could’ve been a lot worse. The rest of the camp, both teams are showing signs of scurvy. Fortunately, I have my little stores of medicine, dried fruit & sundries to get me through this. Kind of a hassle acting as though I were sicker than I really am so that no one becomes suspicious. Peasworth is visibly agitated about something, but it’s hard to figure out exactly what & I feel to crappy to press. I think he got some bad news via the mysterious mail he’s always negotiating. He went off for a bit about someone named “Apoo Come-as-you are” & then proceeded to say some very nasty things about his heritage. That is, unless I’m wrong & “fucking monkeys” is a term of admiration. I’m about ready to give up on this whole expedition but everyone’s too sick to go far. I’d rather not go off on my own as the jungle can get a bit hairy. I’ll give the boys a couple more days & see what the trend is. Should they continue to deteriorate, I’ll slip away when they’re asleep.

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Watson, I do declare that's a new suit you're wearing. Quite the stylish cut too; that must have set
you back a pretty penny, eh? Matching tie and handkerchief too, I see. What the devil are you all dressed up for? Nobody dead is there? I don't care for suits, Watson. They're only fit for births, deaths and marriages, if you want my opinion. Hatches, matches, and dispatches, eh? All damnably disagreeable, and a little blood shed in each. No, give me my tweed jacket and flannel trousers any time. Cricket. They play cricket wearing flannel trousers, don't they? I believe they do; that's what I seem to remember. It's been a while since I went to a cricket match. I was wearing a suit the last time I went to Lord's, as it happens. Middlesex against the Australians. By Jove, what a band of ruffians they were! What? The Australians, you dunce. Who else would I be talking about? Every man-jack of them swarthy, like a pack of bloody Turks. A pair of them looked like they'd slit their own mother's throats for tuppence. You know I don't care for the swarthy, Watson, and several of these johnnies looked like bloody gypsies. Probably worked outdoors, I expect; Farmers maybe. I'd expected them to be wearing turbans, or some other colourful native apparel, but they seemed to be dressed in blazers and flannels when they arrived at the pavilion before the start of the day's play. They could have been forced into the clothes, I suppose, like the time we kidnapped the chimpanzee from the zoo and dressed him in one of Bertie's old suits. Remember that, Watson? When we rang that bounder Edgington's doorbell, and left the chimp behind to take the blame? The look on Edgington's face! I'll bet he thought it was his bloody mother; now there was an old cow if you like. Ugly as sin, and not half so agreeable. Did you ever smell her breath? I don't know what the bloody hell a charnelhouse is, Watson, but she damn' well smelled like one. More than a touch of gin in there too. I never dared to light a match while she was around. I wonder what Edgington did with the chimp? I hope he got him back to the zoo; the poor little devil couldn't have lived for long on that muck that Edgington eats. What d'you call it again? Vegetarian, that's it! Not for me thankyou. Give me a helping of steak and kidney pie any day of the week, and seconds and thirds too. A nice baked jam roll, lashings of custard, and maybe even a glass or two of something refreshing to wash it down with, what? That's the kind of lunch I like, by God! I like to eat a hearty meal, Watson, like any man worthy of the name. That's why I like my flannels; they can hide the extra pound or two, eh? I like to be comfortable in my clothes; my tweed jacket, and my flannels, not cooped up in a suit. So why are you wearing a new suit?

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etter to


Dearest Hazel,
Cor how I miss your smiling face and a pudding on the stove as you'd always treat me on a cold
Londin eve'! Its bloody hot 'ere in this Afrikaan jungle or whatever they call this miserable place! Master Peasworth has shown it to me on a map, but I don't know the better, you know me and maps and figures. Couldn't punch my way out of a satchel, much less a "soomatrin" jungle or whatever they call this hell.

I don't even know what them damnable wog porters see in this excursion, I s'pose they fancy a
farthing or two to weight their purses, but they do go on 'bout the trip they selves! Why Mr. Peasworth and that crazy one-eyed Capt. Minnow must catalogue the damn place for the Royal Society, bunch of rich bastards at home with their sherrys, I don't know dearheart.

I just wanted to come back with a year's worth of pay at the mines for three months of toil on this
trip, but I start to wonder if I'd been better off digging for it never the less.

I'm sending this by way of the young Master through his uncle to you, I do hope you get it, he
seems to have connections to get the mails through, bless his heart.

At least we're not lost. Young Master Peasworth, for all his skirtish ways is surely good with a
map and a sextant. Were it not for him, love, we'd sure be lost! And not that we've lost a few lads. Poor Carlson was stuck in a whicker cage and dangled over crockodiles or some such! They can be savages 'ere!

And although I do trust the young Master to see us through, he does have his ways. Him and the
Captain argue all day and drink that wretched gin all night. Its enough to make the hair on your neck stand on end at times!

Well, we are about to press on, I hear the gang captain calling us to our loads now, so I will write
as soon as we make port, or stumble into some place half-way civilized, rather. Stay stout dear, and have patience wid' me! I'll be back soon.

Your lovin' husband,
"Slappy" Tom "the Gaffer" Verginson




What in the name of the devil's trousers do we have here?
A letter to Hazel from "Slappy", is what we have here, Watson, but who the dickens is Hazel
when she's at home? Good Lord, am I supposed to be on first name terms with every last person in London? There's precious few I'd want to be even on speaking terms, let alone first name terms, I'll tell you that much for nothing.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Like that scoundrel Walters from the club. No, you don't know him, obviously. Saw him Thursday
on Oxford Street, walking towards me with that bloody irritating swagger he has, and I hate a swaggerer, Watson, as you know damn well. Like that buffoon Priestley; he's a swaggerer. Damned blackguard. The last time he was playing squash at the club, I gave the errand boy a fiver to go and get a pair of shoes exactly like his but a size smaller. The blighter wasn't swaggering when he put those on, by Jove. Stepping very gingerly as a matter of fact. I took the liberty of following him home, as it happens - kept myself hidden of course. About 50 yards from his house, he was walking like he had hot coals in his shoes - I'd considered that too of course - and took his shoes and socks off. Well, the cool pavement relieved his feet at once of course - he was almost dancing by the time he got to his driveway.

Well, I must say, the broken glass worked even better than I'd expected. The doctors say it'll be at
least a month before he's up and swaggering again.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Walters was headed towards me, and I know that the damned fellow saw me because he
started swinging his cane. Swinging his cane, Watson! Can you imagine the infernal nerve of the man? Well, I wasn't about to let this pup get the better of me, by God, so I continued on my way towards him, prepared to Cut him dead. I paused on the next corner - a prime spot for Cutting people dead, as you know - and what d'you suppose happened then? The blighter said "Evening, old fruit. Excellent evening for a stroll, what?", and carried on his merry way! Didn't give me a moment's second glance; I had no shot at Cutting him at all.

Well, I ask you! It was a bloody humiliation was what that was, Watson, an absolute humiliation. Well, a couple of calls to friends soon put that to rights. I wish I could have been there when the
police arrived. What? Well, what a chap does in his own home is his own affair, but he can't be too surprised when the police break down his door looking for an escaped tiger. Seems they had a credible report.

Come to that, I'd have liked to have seen the look on the policemen's faces. I'll bet it's not often
that they've seen that little scene, by all that's holy!

Anyway, let's see if we can't get to the bottom of this "Hazel" mystery. You opened the mail this
morning didn't you, old chum? Do you still have the envelopes? Let's have them.

Ah - here we are, this letter wasn't addressed to us. It was addressed to Hazel in care of Mrs.
Henry downstairs. I suppose the postman must have assumed it was for us because of the foreign stamp. Look at this fellow on the stamp Watson. You can tell he's not to be trusted just to look at him, eh? Face like that, it looks like the country's run by a bloody orang-utan, doesn't it? What? Well, maybe it is, yes.

Splendid woman, that Mrs. Henry. I suppose Hazel must be her daughter? I'd always thought Mrs.
Henry was saying "asia", you know how she is. Well that explains why she never smiled when I asked her "Major or Minor?", doesn't it? It doesn't really make sense about the name "Hazel".

This Slappy chappy must be married to her, I suppose. Odd, I'd never known she was married.
You certainly would never know it by the parade of gentleman callers. And some of them are certainly stretching the term "gentleman", Heaven knows. One of them looks as he delivers coal for a living, and another looks like he cuts meat all day long. What? Well it's possible, I suppose.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Well, we'd better get this down to her. Be a good chap and make a copy of it first - you never
know when misdirected mail might come in handy for a bit of a lark. Make a note of the address, too. You never know when one of her gentleman callers might need to write to him accidentally.

I like a bit of fun, Watson, as you know.




Dear Uncle Alex and Watson,
Well, dear relative, it seems far too long since I wrote to you last. Far too much water under the bridge and all that? Well, there has been good reason. The good doctor Mario, having grown exceedingly bored of the plantation manor we found in the deep jungle, and having exhausted the wine in the cellar, wished to push on into the interior of Sumatra, towards the distant range of mountains that were visible from the upper windows of the building, and which my sources had informed me were the last bastion of the secretive tribe who worshipped ,,oBo,,, the idiot god. Now read on. “Great God I’m bored” exclaimed Mario as his considerable bulk slammed into the decayed remnants of my writing desk, sending it in dusty flinders to the floor. “We should leave this place. This house makes me sick. We’re supposed to be daring adventurers in the deepest jungle, not foppish dandies scribbling off hun'reds of bloody notes to a bunch of pencil neck scientists in the bloody Royal Society. And the bloody vino just ran out. No more reason to stay in my book.” “But I’ve just discovered a thrilling discovery!” I told my grublike friend. “There is a species of mildew in the wainscotting here quite unknown to science. If I could only get viable spores out in the mail, have it analysed-” “Bugger that!” roared the Doctor, thrashing around in what remained of the table. Just at that moment we became aware of the strangest sound. The usual jungle sounds, the low mutter of the men in the rooms below, the growling of our dysenteric stomachs, were drowned out by a loud drone, a humming, a definitely artificial mechanical sound. Something like the sound of a large Zeppelin approaching the building. I raced to the window to see what could be the cause, and lo and behold, a large Zeppelin was approaching the building. Dark and foreboding, the enormous aircraft slewed slowly around and tacked back into the slight breeze, rocking slightly, so that we faced the side of it’s gondola. Mario was absolutely awe-struck, and I was barely able to restrain him from falling to the ground below. “It’s a 102” he cried, “the new sort. S’posed to be a right fast mover, that is, but a bugger to land. Wonder what it’s doing here in the middle of nowhere.” The enormous ship was having a hard time maintaining a steady tack, and rocked slowly from side to side. It drifted slowly closer, and we could now make out the white blur of faces behind the windows of the cabin. One of the panes swung open and a voice accosted us through a megaphone. “Peasworth? Peasworth, you cad, I know you’re down there!” cried a voice I knew well. It was
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39 Miss Sally Pinafore, come to exact her revenge, claim her ring, or maybe even try to marry me, I could not tell, but it was certain that I would not enjoy the outcome. “Great Scott, what will I do!” I cried, and slumped to the floor. Mario, however, to whom I had divulged the reasons for my presence in the jungle long before, was swifter in his drunkenness than I was in my shock. He stepped into view at the window and shouted back. “Eh, voolie voo fronglay?” he cried. “Le crayon lecteur de ma table est sur la tante?” I could only groan, so deep was my dismay. I knew that, unless a miracle occurred, I would soon be married in the depths of the jungle, sadly cut down in my prime by a flying woman. “Aimez-vous gouter ma mangue?” cried the Rev Doctor. “Vous avez tous les poulets, je me sens plus cornÈ qu’une portion des biscuits de riz. Sentez mon s’est levÈ, bÈbÈ!” Acting on pure instinct, I jumped to my feet and dashed down the stairs. The men were clustered outside the front door, where we had felled a few trees to provide some open space. The enormous bulk of the gasbag above us plunged us into gloom. “Get your gear ready to move”, I panted. “That airship is loaded with hundreds of soldiers of the grand vizier of Pooonos, come to slaughter us for desecrating the sacred game park of his majesty. Unless we can be ready and moving within 6 minutes, we can expect nothing but a spear through the side and our generative organs drying in the sun!” “Oh Peasworth, Peasworth my darling, I know you are down there. We have flown over land and sea, and ice and fire, and slime, to be here. I have feelings for you, and I know you have feelings for me. Let us be together, and have feelings for each other, many times every day!” The maddening voice drifted down, silencing the men's frenzied cries as they struggled to accumulate their scattered kit and be ready for departure. Their faces were solemn but their eyes smiled as they cast sidelong glances at me. Mario, having abandoned his tactic of shouting poorly constructed phrases of French at the ship, emerged from the front door. “It would seem that the jig is up, old bean” he said. “I can only advise you that escape is well nigh impossible. “Never! Nothing is ever impossible for a dashing young lad like myself and seedy old disreputable sidekick like you! Come, let us be off, before they get the blasted thing to earth!” So Mario and I set about cudgelling the lazier members of the party into action. (I must admit Slappy Tom has become something of a burden, although I strongly suspect he dallies because he enjoys the cudgelling, so wide is the grin on his face when he receives one.) But our efforts were in vain. The men stood, unafraid of fictional spears or native soldiers, and now they had the additionally entertaining sight of Miss Pinafore descending in a bosuns chair at the end of a rope, her skirts flying up about her head with each sudden drop in height. “Come, to the cellar!” cried Mario. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me stumbling back into the building and to the concealed door that led down to the now totally depleted wine cellar below. “But, there is no escape from there!” I cried. “We will be trapped like rats.” Undeterred he manipulated me through the small trapdoor and down the stairs to the sandy floor below. We stood awhile in the pitchy darkness until he had successfully lighted the lamp left there for our convenience, then he led me along the passageways to the empty cheese room, and past it’s
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

40 desolate shelves and scattered bandages. “See?” he said, and, removing the shield from his lamp, held it close to the stone wall at the far end. Amazed, I watched as whisps of black soot from the wick were drawn between the cracks. “I noticed this last night as I searched fitfully for a morsel of something the raiders may have left behind. God knows my suspicions were aroused when we found the front door of this place almost intact, despite the looting. Whoever ransacked this house must have come and gone from an underground tunnel.” “But, my dear Mario” I remonstrated, “surely, despite the terrible faux-Victorian tenor of this story, it would be better to avoid using underground tunnels as a ‘deus ex machina’ to facilitate our getaway?” “Be quiet, young lad,” he assured me, “it worked for Rider Haggard and Wells and a host of others! Freud be damned, we’re getting out through this tunnel and that’s that! Now, stop this selfreferential babbling and help me remove these blocks.” They slid from their positions easily, riding on layers of rotten mortar like graphite powder, and we soon had a hole large enough for even the Reverend Doctor to enter. Once through, we set about repairing the wall, moving with the manic energy of desperation. At last we had the opportunity to look around. The tunnel appeared to be naturally formed, a cave swept from the limestone by running water. The floor was level, and covered in sand. Large white stalactites descended from the ceiling. We strode boldly forward, knowing that it might not be long before Miss Pinafore and whatever personnel manned the airship found us. The men of our respective parties would not remain loyal for long once it was found we had disappeared and abandoned them, and we could not depend on them to slow down the advance of our persuers. At least we would not be troubled any more by demands for “pay”. As I write this we sit besides a swiftly flowing stream which crosses the cave, perhaps a mile from the basement. I will seal this letter in a small bottle that used to contain Sir Luton’s Patent Ointment for Sallow Skin, which I have been saving for this exact purpose, and hurl it into the stream. I can only hope that whoever finds it will forward the bottle to the address inscribed on the label. I remain, yours desperately, James Peasworth Esq., somewhere under Sumatra.




Dearest Hazel,
Sorry I've been so long to the pen but we've had a most interesting turn of events. Soon after I left
off our band o' ruffians made it to a small village by a huge river, the "elbow" river if I heard the name of it correctly.

Them villagers were a sad lot though, having many deformities about their persons, but they were
willn' to share what food they had, and lads had a go at some of the daughters none the less, except Master Peasworth, he were some what shy and rightly so made sick by the sight of them girls
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

41 anyway.

It were right about this time that 'im (Master Peasworth) and that crazy Captain Minnow had
something of a falling out. Having run out of gin they took to eating a colorful mushroom they found growing in the most particular way. Suffice it to say, dear, that you may not want to know how this particular herb was found.

As I was saying, the young master and the captain were indulging in these 'ere mushrooms, and
after about three days of this all of a sudden one night the whole camp heard a terrible yelling from the boss's tent! We all poked our heads out from our tent flaps to see the captain chasing master Peasworth across the compound!

"Avast ye lubber! I'll open yer belly up like a tin o' sardines! I'll hang ye from the highest yardarm
in this yer jungle!" he swore. The young master high-tailed it into the surrounding greenery, at which the Capt. took his peg leg off and looked as though he were going to wing it in the Master's direction but he only managed to flop over on the ground, where he lay moaning fer some time.

It was a little while after that the young Master crept back and quiet as ya please we gathered up
the lads and snookered off down the trail. What became of that chap I'll not care to know.

We had a bit of a bad turn after that. We took a large boat up the river where we all got sick from
bananas we picked off the trees to help stretch our supplies. Master Peasworth were acting in the strangest manner however. He had the death pallor about him and he acted as himself and the lads were 'bout ready to meet the Lord. Anderson finally got sick and tired of 'is carryin' on, and swore at the master "It were just a case of indigestion I tell ya!" and said something about slapping the skirt out of 'im if 'e didn't stop.

A day later we were all much better and started off again. It was a little bit after this that while the
young man was examining a particularly disgusting piece of homoerotic imagery caved into the living rock of a dank old cave we stumbled across a huge bulk of a man with wild hair and mask! "Booga Booga Booga!" cried this savage at wich the young master fell to his knees offering up every lad in the gang to save 'is own skin. The fat man then ripped off the mask to reveal hisself as a gentleman!

"Aw, get on your feet, ya fag, its just me, Mario." I guess he's some wop friend of young Master
Peasworth's. We spent the rest of the night visiting with this chap, he'd brought quite a store of fine drink and food, and we had quite a time. The next day he started with us but early on a wog name "Banjo" or "Bungo" or some such took ill. And this amazing wop character had us paint our faces and then gather 'round the native hand and had us chanting a bunch of mumbojumbo. After an hour of this Master Mario chirped up "Well, that's it, I'm off for a drink." We were quite surprised as the lad still seemed rather out, but Mario didn't seem to think much of it. A few days later the lad seemed ok, but I'm left to wonder if that Mario fellow had anything to do with it at all.

Well, we are getting ready to pack it in again. Give my best to old Missus Parridge, I know how
her lumbago gets, and I'll write back soon as possible.

Love, "Slappy"

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Dear Heart,
I cannot thank you enough for your letters. That you are safe and still reasonably sober means so much to me. Mother was so wrong to say that marrying beneath my station would bring trouble; I care not one fig that you are riff-raff. I must apologise for taking so long before writing back, but in my own defence I will mention that your letters had been misdirected to the gentleman in the flat upstairs; “His Nibs”, as you always called him. When I was leaving for the races this morning, there was “His Nibs”, large as life, kneeling at the foot of the stairs. It looked for all the world like he was trying to pull the stair carpet loose from its fastenings. Well, when he saw me watching him, he stood right up: “Just straightening things out”, he says, pointing to the stairs. “I saw a wrinkle or two”. He said how happy he was to see me. “My dear young woman” he said. “I believe I have something of yours”, and reached in his pocket. Well, you never saw such stuff as he keeps in there! Handkerchiefs, cigars, pepper pots, a small revolver, ties, dolls heads, paintbrushes... Eventually he found your letters and handed them to me with a flourish, and (I swear!) a wink. He said he’d “put Watson in charge of running the blessed things down to you”, but then Watson had been a bit “tight” that night, and since then he’d been bed-ridden with psoriasis. Poor Watson! He does seem to be such a sickly sort, doesn’t he? He never gets out, he’s so poorly all the time. I remember last year when he was stuck in his room for over a month with Psittacosis. No sooner done with that, than he comes down with the mange. At least His Nibs looks after him all right though, although the good Lord alone knows where he found a doctor that will only come at night when we’re all in bed. Still, with the first race starting soon, I had to be on my way. You know me though; no sooner was I outside the front door than I remembered I’d forgotten something. This time it was my lucky rabbit’s foot. I went back into the house to get it and there he was kneeling again, trying to tie a piece of fishing line across the steps! “You be careful now, sir”, says I. “Just trying to secure the carpet, my good woman”, says he. What a good soul he is to take care of hazards round the house like that! Well, I got my rabbit’s foot, and I must say it proved particularly lucky today. A profit of no less than 30 shillings on the day! I should probably have left the rabbit’s foot for poor Mr. Vickers on the top floor. The poor old dear has misfortune enough without his wooden leg suddenly snapping in half on the stairs like that. “His Nibs” had even been good enough to warn him that such a thing might happen if his dog didn’t stop yapping. Just yesterday he said it; he must be psychic. Well, dearest, I’m afraid that the Post-Office closes soon. If you’re ever going to get this letter, I must close now, and sign myself: Your ever loving wife.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

43 Hazel.



Himmelburg’s Log

These climes are not healthy for we European sort. I'm not even sure what day today is. Mein

I am the man at the helm, and I don't even know what day of the week, or month, or hour- oh, I do
know the hour: there it is, on my clock. Right here on my desk! It says 10:16 PM. That's a start.

I don't know what has come over me. We have not been in these parts for more than a day or two,
the first days rather pleasant- not that things aren't pleasant for me right now, but things were rather pleasant in a normal sort of way. I could remember what day of the wek it was, etc.

What was I saying? That's another thing- we've only touched down once before on this devilish island! Just long
enough for the crew to pluck some of the native hemp, which they've stripped of it's rubbish and have been preparing for rope. It's spicy scent has been wafting in clouds through the air as they've burnt the rubbish in a huge metal basket slung beneath the gondola...

Yes, ahh... I've been forgetting things. Even what I was saying. At any rate we've seen adventure enough today! We dropped fraulien Pinafore, who has chartered
this cruise (her parents were exceedingly wealthy, which was exceedingly lucky for poor fraulien Pinafore! Hahahahaha! That is one UGLY joungeren! Hahahahahahaha! ) down to the island today, looking for that other poor soul who has sought to escape her in this fetid place!

Yes, this place is fetid! I am forced into the nude, when in private. It is the only way for a man to stay healthy! The humidity is astounding! I've never experienced anything like it! I'm sure it's got to me! Well,
I'm sure it's got to me at times, at any rate.

I've ordered the crew into their linen shorts and shirts for on-watch hours, and made it known that
clothing was optional when in one's berth. It's the only way for a man to stay healthy! I've been personally of an opinion that nudity is preferable to the health of the human. One is with nature! In the elements most conducive to promoting the physical.

I believe I shall have to spend a few weeks with the Swiss on my return! Clear this murkiness
from my brain!

I have allowed myself (and the crew as well) ample break periods to cool themselves off with a bit
of a bath. Bathing and nudity are the things which make for a healthy body! That's what I've always said.

In fact, I am of the habit to stay in the nude whenever in my quarters. And I've let the crew know
that they may, too. Especially the young frauleins in the maid's quarters. It does not matter that the
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

44 old fat cook is in there!

Being nude is healthy! It is the presence of clothing which creates lust! One must become used to
the natural state!

It is agreeable with the owner. Der Baron von Satturnmorgen. Herr Baron is along for this trip,
though he remains closeted in his quarters with his companions- Countessa Lilith Laevila, and Baroness deHottzer.

I don't know what they do up there, closeted away all day (though the Baron has demanded
quantities of the hemp flowers and leaves to be brought to him for some reason, probably for some botanical interests). Though they surely take air, on the observatory built onto the top of the zeppelin. I know they must do such healthy things! I have been summoned in to find them nude!

Nudity is the only way to survive in these climes! The natives know it! You should know it too!
Nudity is the way to get in touch with your vital juices, keep them flowing though your veins, and your chest free of consumption! It was especially good to see the healthy pink nipples of the Countessa and Baroness!

Surely, we shall all survive! Except for perhaps that mad Fraulein Pinafore! Ha! If you could hear what I am saying right now, you would hear my "tut-tut"! I do not know if she bathes enough! There is a certain *scent* about her of death and disease! I'm
almost certain she spends no time in the nude! I believe this madwoman sleeps in clothing! In this heat!

The Englanders obviously haven't heard of the benefits of nudity! It is hard to believe that a civilised people could maintain the unscientific opinions on hygiene the
Englanders do! Ha!

Prudery. Unscientific prudery! Nudity is natural! It cleans the pores! It lets one's body breath!
Everything on one's body must be able to breath! Especially in this heat!

It will be interesting to see if she does survive- as we have quite obviously all contacted some sort
of strange tropical disease. It is the only thing to explain my clouded head! Fraulein Pinafore has also shown increased signs of agitation.

She has, from the very start, demanded a seat be placed for her on the bridge that she might espy
the rumoured retreat of her reluctant lover. It is highly unusual, to have a civilian on the deck of an airship! One who does not let her body breath!

I am "tut-tut"-ing again! Perhaps the pimples would clear if she would let her body breath! At any rate, I have noticed the symptoms in the Fraulein as well. She has taken to muttering to
herself, with a glazed look on her eye- sometimes singing quietly (sometimes not so quietly, eh?). I have heard her.

Members of the crew do the same. I have found myself marching in my place, humming an air
from Herr Wagner! I sometimes feel as if I am an eagle, riding high above the earth below. I then feel my hands and arms turning into wings and feathers, and I feel the breeze, smoky with the burning hemp-rubbish, blowing through my feathers as if I rode over some firey mountain like
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

45 vesuvius....

Not that our appetites seem to have been harmed by this malady- that could be due to the nudity,
however. Though Fraulien Pinafore also seems to have an appetite. I wonder if she stools regularly?

I have discussed this with the doctor, and the woman's maid (a pert, young blonde thing, with
healthy pink nipples!), and neither has an idea. This is a problem on an airship! The stool is flushed off the shelf of the facilities and onto the earth far below. The englanderen, madwoman she is, refused to answer the ship's doctor when he inquired about her stool!

"That is a very private thing to a lady, Herr Doktor! I only speak of those things with Dr.
Hothrace, in Surry, Wikeshire-on-the-Marsh. The doctor who brought me into this world! I would not speak of such to a total stranger!", at least that's what the Doktor says. She also would not consult with him on the subject of nudity, either! Ha!

Nudity is essential to the survival of the human animal- especially in these inhospitable climes! Even the homids who live in the jungle below know enough to at least approach nudity in there
dress- though they have obviously not developed enough to enjoy the full benefits of nudity on a constant basis. One needs a tame, scientifically cultivated environment in order to get the best results of nudity!

Like the Swiss have developed! Yes! Saunas! Cold-rooms! One must normalize the condition!
One must bring it into balance by experiencing the extremes! Nudity is a must for survival in these climes!

One day, science will prove to all mankind that nudity is healthy- and that the only reason Herr
Schlong raises his evil serpent's head is from the presence of pants! Though even a health regimen of nudity doesn't seem to help the escape of some essence of a man at night, I am sad to report. At least within myself.

I have asked the laundryman, and he reports that such is also true of the crew. Sometimes even
with the presence of blood and stool!

I am "tut-tut"-ing again! They must not avail themselves of enough nudity! Perhaps they retain some clothing in the
commons- poor soldiers! Not to know the healthyness of nudity as one sits in a comfortable chair, writing in one's journal! I have my cabin window open, and the hempy breeze is blowing though my window. We are at a medium altitude, though during the early afternoon we always have to rise above the inevitable rainstorm. It has rained every day here! At the same time!

At least we have been able to rise from following that river so closely- though Herr Baron has
indicated that we are to keep following it. At least we don't have to follow low! It's much cooler here! I would much like to go up to the colder, fresher airs, but Herr Baron likes it here.

I am "sigh"-ing now! For a man so advanced as to appreciate the scientific value of healthy nudity, Herr Baron knows
absolutely nothing about cold airs and the cleansing of the pores!

Now I am "tut-tut"-ing, once again!
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


At any rate we are rid of Fraulein Pinafore, having delivered her to her lover. She was last seen
beating the bearers and forcing them to march upriver as well.

It is nice to be nude. And the way the light shines off the grain of the desktop.. Cpt. Gotten Himmelburg


oings in the


D'you have a moment, Watson? Well, put your damn book down for a moment, and come over
here. Here - I'll save you a job; it was a cobra, and it got in via the bell-pull.

Oh, be quiet for God's sake. I do not always spoil it for you. Didn't tell you the ending of "Prester
John" when you were reading that did I?

Oh, did I? But take a look over here in the park for a moment. You can borrow my old field binoculars if you
want; over on the table by the window. Front knob's the focus, Watson, front knob. The back one's for if your eyes are too damn far apart, like that Methodist chap we used to know.

See that fellow in the rose garden? Is he doing what I think he's doing? The longer I look, the
more convinced I am.

Good Lord above! I didn't need the binoculars to see that, for heaven's sake. That must have been
a good three feet. I didn't know that was even possible.

Does he work there d'you think? Could have been his lunch-break I suppose; I can't imagine that
that's part of his job-description. His contract would make damned interesting reading if it were, eh old boy? Reading that bloody thing would make your mother's eyes water!

Your mother's a Methodist isn't she? It must have been a bit odd growing up in your house, what
with your father.

I knew a Methodist once, Watson. He was a decent enough sort; kept his opinions to himself
which is what I like in a man. Had a bit of a thing about drinking though; I never saw him touch a drop. Maybe he was a Presbyterian, now that I think about it.

Makes you damn glad to be an Anglican, what? No silly rules about what and when you can eat
and drink. No eating meat on Fridays, no eating Pork any time; it's just too bloody confusing Watson. Give me the good old Church of England any time. No real requirements for getting into Heaven apart from simply being a member of the church. And it guarantees that God speaks English. Gives you a bit more free time to enjoy His bounty here on Earth, what? That's my kind of religion; not too many demands.

Why can't everyone be an Anglican?

Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.





Bowright B. Dull, Esq.
Terribly, Terribly, Boring, and Dull
321 Manchester St. London

James! Great gads of burning news, m'boy! Do you recall that eccentric deaf American chappie I told you
about, that "Edison" lout from New York City who was always going about inventing things, and how I told you to sink some spare farthings his way?

Well, by Jove, he's done it! He's invented a new wonder, one that will really sell my lad! He's
created something he calls the "incandescent light bulb"! This wonder of the age creates light by burning electricity! Or so I'm told. What that has over our old dependable gas light I don't really pretend to know, but it has the lads in the Royal Society hopping!

Anyway, that old boy Edison is gearing up to go to production very soon, and he is expecting to
bring his new "Edison Electric Company" to the public at a rapid pace!

You may want to high-tail home old boy and set some financial matters on course. Cordially yours, Bowright


as t?


Here we go again, Watson. All the world and his mistress expecting us to be the Postmaster
bloody General for young James. What is it this time, d'you suppose?

Better not be any more of your gyppoes looking for money. I was ready to raise my hand to that
last fellow, I don't mind saying - that koom-bah-yah chap, or whatever his bloody name was. Johnny foreigner, whoever he was.

What's this? Some lawyer chap giving stock tips? Well, of all the infernal nerve! Do we go to
stockbrokers for advice on the law? Good Lord, no!

My stars! Good job too! Having a good lawyer got me out of a bit of jam that last time, eh
Watson? Old Edgington had me bang to rights that time. Damned if I'd have known what to do without a quick-thinking lawyer. Bloody good job we had that rum, though. God knows how we'd have explained him falling down the stairs otherwise.

I wonder what Edgington will think to his new door knocker when he gets out? I hope I'm there to
see his face; you know how purple he gets. We should probably mark the date on the calendar. It
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

48 was six months he got?

It certainly is a bit of a surprise to see that on a front door, though. You don't get many of them to
the pound, I'll say that much. The landlady is furious, by the way.

Well, anyway, better pass this along to James. Make a copy of it first, there's a good chap, and
then you can run down to the Post-office with it. How much is a stamp to M'Bongo these days? Still? I thought I'd heard it had gone up. Here's a pound; be sure to bring me the change, there's a good fellow.

Mind you, I'm not so bloody sure I like the idea of James investing his money in an American
invention. What did they ever invent apart from strange accents, I ask you? Still! Not our job to make decisions for him, is it now, old chum? He's almost thirty when all's said and done - almost a grown man. If he wants to invest his money in indecent tulips, that has to be his own decision.

I'll make a pot of tea when you get back.



Here we are, Watson; a little industry pays off for once.
D'you remember me telling you about the new Vicar down at Saint Peter's? There's an odd bird, if
you like - hums hymns a lot. Strange name too: "Hubert Hubert". Bloody rum name eh? Never heard of such a thing before.

Well, it seems old Hubert came up with this silly scheme of having the parishioners write down
their prayers, instead of praying silently like decent human beings. Kind of a letter to God, if you like.

My stars, I wonder how much the postage runs? Well, anyway, as soon as I got wind of the Vicar's little scheme I offered him a fiver a week to
pass along the good ones. Had to twist his arm a little - knowing the Bishop didn't hurt, I'll say that much - but he agreed eventually. Nothing much until now, but I believe we might have a bit of fun with this one, eh?

Lord Fidley Dee,
Twickenham Estates, London

Dear God, What in your Good Name are all these blessed monkeys doing in my house? Yours in abject wonder,
Sir Dee.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


Good Lord, I don't believe I ever did tell you this story. It happened that time that you locked
yourself in the lavatory for a few days.

Yes, alright, a week, and you were locked in from the outside. Whatever you say, Watson, but for
Heaven's sake stop interrupting.

Well it was around then that I was glancing at one of young James's letters, and I noticed that he'd
mentioned that this Dee chappie had a private menagerie. With monkeys, by God.

Can you imagine, Watson? Monkeys, and only as far as Twickenham? Well, you know me Watson. When was the last time I turned down a chance for a little fun
involving monkeys, eh? If there's anything that shouts "romp" louder than monkeys, I don't know what it might be.

Gibbons maybe. I love those little rascals. The way they swing from branch to branch like that, I
could watch 'em for a full half-hour. Clever little devils too - it's not every simian that can write historical treatises.

Gorillas? Well, with enough drink inside them, I suppose. That brings back some memories,
b'jove: Atkinson did look a little shell-shocked when he finally got the door closed, didn't he?

Damnit, will you stop interrupting? As I was saying: you don't stare a gift monkey in the mouth, especially when it's only over in
Twickenham. Well, I hadn't really decided what to do with the little fellows, I was thinking probably Harrod's ladyswear, when I stopped to look up this chap's address. And there it was, large as life. I swear on a stack of fivers Watson, this chap had listed his address as "Twickenham, London". "Twickenham, London", of all the colossal cheek of the man. Bloody Hell, Watson, but that's enough to make my blood boil! I don't have much time for the denizens of Surrey in the first place, but to try to claim that it's in London? Good Lord!

Well, this Dee scoundrel had gone too far with that. You know my motto Watson, "Nemo me
inpune lacessit", what?

So I borrowed the miniature nun costumes again, and off to Twickers we set. What? Oh, just one
of the chaps from the club - he's always been quite keen on primate pranks. It took us less than an hour to get there, I was quite surprised. I'd always supposed Surrey to be a lot further. The cab driver was a little surly though, I must say. Kept shouting something about "mibladdy tip" - no idea.

Well, it was absolute child's play getting into the menagerie. Those locks of Dee's wouldn't even
stop a Hottentot, they're so easy to pick. Rounding up the monkeys took us only a few more minutes - those little devils are tremendously fond of toffee, d'you know that? Plus, of course the toffee glues their teeth together which helps. Well, they can't bite you that way, and let me just mention that dressing a monkey in a nun's habit doesn't seem to cheer them up much.

Then we wandered over to Dee's house, the monkeys in tow. As luck would have it, the bounder
was taking a nap. That's where the black paint came in handy. What? Oh I thought I'd mentioned it. Half an hour later, we'd painted over every window in the house, and stopped every clock.

Well, the first monkey we sent into his bedroom was funny enough, but by the time we'd released
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

50 the thirtieth - each four minutes apart - the fellow was a gibbering idiot. "It's still half past three, it's still half past three".

That'll teach him not to claim that Twickenham's in London. Anyway, let's see what we can do with his letter. Did you notice that it must have taken him close
to a month to realize that there really are monkeys in his house? Good Lord, let's be a little kindhearted for once and just stamp it "Not known at this address". You should have the rubber-stamp - you were dealing with the bills last. I'll drop it off at the post office on my way to the passport place.



Writes Again

Dear Tom, Can it really be a month since I last wrote? The days seem to have flown by - between the horseraces and the poker, I don't seem to have a minute to myself any more; I hardly have time to breathe. It was finding one of your letters and reading it again this morning that reminded me. Well, my love, I do apologize for taking so long to write, and I hope that a little news from home will help to keep your spirits up.

My mother is keeping very well. She's as active as always, you know, and as independent as ever.
She just refuses to slow down. Why just last night, as I was getting home from the pub, there she was, up on the step ladder painting the ceiling. I told her, "You do too much, mum - you should think about getting some help. Maybe a maid one day a week."

Well! The mood she went off in! She slammed her bedroom door, and was in there a full half
hour, throwing things, and shouting. Poor old dear, she loves her independence so. Just the mention of having to ask someone for help seems to set her off something alarming.

Anyway, she calmed down eventually, although I did notice her hands were still shaking a bit
when she brought me my supper. I didn't mention it of course - much too personal - and she seemed right as rain again by this morning when she was cooking my breakfast. But I worry about her Tom, especially now that it's time for her to wash the windows again. My mind's made up, sweetheart; this year I'm going to find someone that will hold the ladder for her - I don't care what it costs her.

Uncle Arthur sends his regards, likewise his friend Nigel. I did hear that Nigel was involved in
some kind of a duel last week, but I never did find out what came of it.

We had a bit of a commotion upstairs one night last week. We thought His Nibs up there was
laying carpet at two in the morning, there was so much banging going on. We went up there to complain, and there he was pounding the floor with a golf-club of all things. My stars, but there must have been over a hundred spiders running around in there - big, hairy things they were. Poor Mr. Watson must have been scared out of his wits - he'd locked his bedroom door.

Lord knows how they'd got there, though, unless it was the parcel I'd taken up earlier. I imagine
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

51 they must have been some kind of a present, because I thought I heard the old boy saying that he'd pay someone back for them. He was so out of breath from chasing the spiders, it was hard to tell what he was saying.

I think I told you about Mr. Vickers on the top floor taking a tumble on the stairs? Well, you'll be
glad to hear that he's on the mend. He certainly hasn't lacked for visitors while he was under the weather though; I never knew he had so many friends. Every hour, on the hour, day and night, there's somebody new knocking on his door - Lord knows when he sleeps. His Nibs, helpful as ever, has been paying their cab-fares for them to get over here.

One other thing I should probably mention before I close is your mother died last month - likely I
should have mentioned it earlier, but you know me eh? A mind like a sieve, as you always said.

It was the verdigris that took her in the end - very sudden. Still, it was a blessing for all concerned,
as she was a bit of a nuisance. Don't worry about the funeral expenses though, as we sold her body for medical research. Two very nice gentlemen even came and picked the body up for us, and I kept their business card for when Mum dies.

Well dear, I seem to be running out of time before the snooker tournament. At least I don't have to
go to the Post Office any more. His Nibs told me that I could leave any letters on the hall table, and he'd take care of them for me. I don't even have to seal the envelope! What a thoughtful soul he is. One less chore for me, busy as I am!

Your ever loving wife, Hazel.


t the


Ah you’re home Watson – I was hoping you would be. Pour us a glass of Brandy, would you? Could use something to buck me up a bit after that experience. Well, at least let me get my coat off first. That’s better. Much better. Is there any more in there? So anyway, old chum. Finally decided that my little problem wasn’t getting any better, and I hauled myself off to see the old sawbones about it. Don’t care much for visiting the Doctor, as you know, but it wasn’t improving on its own, so off I toddled. Well – after five minute poking and prodding, and inspecting my ears with his lookthroughmoscope, God knows why, he announces that he thinks I have a urological disorder. Of course I knew what was coming next – he’s going to want to inspect the blasted plumbing, isn’t he? Examine the waterworks, Watson, check the hydrant, you know. Well, that’s not a thing I care for much; not at all, in fact. But you know me; if I have to do something distasteful, I jump in feet first, as they say. Might as well get it over with, eh? So I dropped my drawers, slapped the old Winkie-wankie-woo right there on his desk, and told the blighter to do his worst.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

52 He gave me the strangest of looks, Watson, I’ll say that much. Turns out he’d actually said “a NEUROlogical disorder”. Damned embarrassing, what?




What's that you're up to, Watson? Crossword puzzle, eh? Stuck? Let's have a butchers; see if I
can't give you a few pointers.

Well, there's your first mistake right here, Watson. One across is wrong for starters. Botticelli's not
a wine, you juggins - it's a cheese if I'm not much mistaken. Why the devil you do these things in ink I'll never know.

And three down's wrong as well! It's not India that's "The Dark Continent"; it's Africa, for God's
sake. What? Well, that's true I suppose, but even then it would just be "The Brown Continent" wouldn't it? Good Lord.

Africa. There's a place for men to go, eh? Went there myself as a young man, d'you know that?.
Got inspired to bag myself a lion. A lion by golly; the king of the beasts. King of the beasts, Watson, that's what they call them, the King of the Beasts. Magnificent creatures they are; so gloriously vital. I couldn't wait to kill one.

So I toddled off to Africa with a few guns, a tent, and a handful of fivers to bribe the natives once
I'd arrived. Never hurts to grease a few palms when you're travelling, I find, and your Johnnie foreigner always seems happy to accept a little baksheesh. I hired a couple of our tinted friends to act as guides, and off we set into the heart of darkness.

Don't know why they call it that; sun shone all the time when I was there. So anyway, one of the turbanned ruffians promised to deliver me to the lair of the most fearsome
lion in all of Africa. I'd expected there'd be jungle, but apparently that's somewhere else; maybe India I suppose. They call it the "Velt" of all things, can you imagine? Some such word, anyway. Strange, the way foreigners use words. I had a Kraut once tell me that "velt" meant "world", and here are these gyppoes or whatever they are telling me that "velt" means something like "uncut cricket field". I swear they just make it up as they go along.

Oh yes - the lion. Finally we found the blessed thing; in a cave of all places. My guide - black as
the ace of spades he was - assured me that in that cave was the largest, cruellest, fiercest lion in all of Africa.

To the dusky little devil's credit though, he did warn me not to approach the cave straight away said I should just stand back for a while until I'd gauged the size of the creature. But you know me, eh, Watson? I just sauntered up to the mouth of the cave and chucked a rock inside, just to see what'd happen.

Next thing I knew, there was a creature the size of a runaway train hurtling out of there, and I was
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

53 deafened by the most tremendous "RRROOOAAARRR!!!".

And I don't mind admitting, Watson, that I fouled my britches. No, no, no. Just now, when I went "RRROOOAAARRR!!!"



From Geneva
Gnome Holdings and Trust
Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Mr. Watson,
For some time now, our institution has maintained a security deposit box in your name. This box
has been paid for with the interest earned on several accounts you hold. Serving you in this manner has been our pleasure.

About a year ago our security staff began noticing a peculiar smell in the vault where the safe
deposit boxes are located. At the time, we did not spend much time worrying about the smell, as many boxes were assigned during the Cheese Famine of '17 (oh those were dark and trying times) and most patrons had stored their priceless fromage' in within our walls.

However, the smell has become increasingly worse within the last month. Our entire building has
been closed until we can find the source. We have been contacting each customer to persuade them to come and empty their box, so we may ascertain which one is the culprit.

Mr. Watson, yours is the last box. Please sir, for the love of all that is good, come quickly to
Geneva and and empty your box. Swiss banking laws prohibit us from opening the box ourselves, and our building is being held hostage.

We have enclosed, for your convenience, two tickets (for you and a ladyfriend perhaps?) to
Geneva. Please come at once.

Thank You, Martin G. Gnome


uminations on


What ho, Watson! What ho, what ho, what ho. Top of the morning to ye, as the Paddies say.
Well, because it's such a beautiful Spring morning, Watson, that's why. I nipped out early old boy
- took a stroll before breakfast. Not like me, eh? You know I like to get my snout in the trough before I get started on the day's doings, what? But there was something in the air this morning, Watson. The air was fresh and clean. Inviting.
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.


There wasn't that damned smell of curry this morning from down the road, for one thing. What
those blighters did all day I'll never know. Between the smell and that bloody music of theirs. Sounded like cats being flayed alive. Now you know me, Watson, I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body, but frankly I don't care for Johnny Hindu. The smell from some of those chaps could start an unwound clock, Watson - make a bloody onion weep, some of those fellows. Wasn't that bothered when they left, I'll tell you that much. What? Oh good Lord, Watson! "Left", "had their house burned to the ground"; what's the bloody difference?

And yet the women are beautiful, ever notice that? Sirens of the Orient, some of them; Levantine
enchantresses. Skin the colour of honey, and complexions like Shantung silk...

What? Where was I? Oh, I went for a walk this morning - work up an appetite for breakfast
y'know. Took a stroll in the park, as a matter of fact. Saw old Mr. Parkinson walking his dog, he sends his regards.

Don't be ridiculous, Watson, Mr. Parkinson. And when I got back, there was a mountain of letters waiting for us on the hall table. One of
them's even for you.

Look at this - a foreign stamp, again, by golly. "Helvetie"? Where in the name of God is that
supposed to be? Switzerland, you say? Then why the Devil don't they just put "Switzerland" on their stamps? Make life a lot easier.

Swiss, eh? Don't know much about the Swiss, but I don't care much for what I do know. I know
they're neutral, which is not I thing I like in a chap as you know, Watson. Be for us or aginn us, but don't start this business of lying around and rushing to the aid of the victor; might as well be Italian for God's sake. And I know they make chocolate. And snow. Or am I thinking of Sweden?

Anyway, neutral chocolate-makers, that's all I know about them. They're bankers too, eh? Bankers, by God! Neutral bankers, whatever next? Heard of neutral
corners before, but... Still and all, it's better than being neutered bankers, I s'ppose, not that you'd know the difference sometimes.

Well, let's take a look at this missive from Helvetie, shall we? I know you'll never be able to read
the blasted thing, not after last night - twelve was it you had? I'll read it for you if you like.

Let's see: "Safe deposit box... Terrible smell... Cheese famine... Two tickets...". What the dickens
is this chap rattling on about Watson? "Cheese famine of '17"? What the blazes is that supposed to mean? Good Lord above, this chap's a raving lunatic if you ask me.

Well, my stars, but you live and learn, eh? Now that's two things I've found out about the Swiss
today. They're neutral chocolatiers who run banks, and are off their bloody heads. "Non compost menses" as the doctors say.

Well, here's two tickets to Geneva, at least. You don't mind if I keep 'em d'you, old boy? Not much
chance of you using them any time soon, when all's said and done. "Ladyfriend" indeed; I should bloody coacoa.

No, one of the chaps down the club was just saying he could use a bit of a lark, and by golly I
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

55 think I could too. Been a while since I had a lark. I think I'll stroll over to his place after breakfast - see if I can't interest him in a trip to Swaziland.

All right, Switzerland if you insist. What is for breakfast, by the way?



From the Tropics

Dear Uncle Alex, Firstly, let me apologize for remaining incommunicado for so long. It was completely beyond my control, and I hope and pray that you have not worried too much about my safety. Assuming you received my last missal, you would know that, pursued by Sally Pinafore’s band of ruffians, Mario and myself were pursued into the tunnels which conveniently underlie much of the tropical jungle, and which could be entered from the basement of the abandoned mansion where we were living. Of our adventures in the dark of the underground caverns beneath Sumatra, the less said the better. Suffice it to say, I have learnt a much greater respect than ever before for cockroaches and other forms of life that must crawl in the dark for a living. The stalactites, and especially the stalagmites, proved a constant annoyance. Many times I wished only for a hammer and chisel, that I might procure a flat place upon which to sleep. Mario seemed less worried about our predicament at first, but as time went on, he seemed to deteriorate. Sometimes he descended into raving incoherence, pleading with me to “stop that blasted whining, you pox-eaten knob!” and many other unkind and untrue epithets. We wandered upon hands and knees for days and weeks, aimlessly searching for escape. With no supplies, we were forced to rely on nature for our sustenance, and we all know there is precious little nature deep beneath the ground. The occasional bat fell within reach of our outstretched arms. Sometimes we passed torrents of water flowing through caverns. At times we were reduced to licking the foul slime from the bare rock, both for food and the moisture it contained. All the time we searched for ascending tunnels that might communicate with the surface, but rarely found any. Day by day, or sleep by sleep, rather, the air grew closer and more oppressive as we unwittingly penetrated deeper into the earth. Needless to say, we were both astonished and tantalised when we awoke after a sleep, to realise we could smell cooking chicken! Indeed, the savoury smell of roast fowl was quite strong, and even more surprisingly, it seemed to be wafting from the hole in the floor of the cavern within which we had collapsed! “This cannot be true” croaked my companion in misery. “If it came from above, I might believe our wanderings had brought us near to the surface, and we smelled the dinner of some tribe who dwelled in a cave nearby. As it is, I hardly dare believe my own senses.” “And yet I smell it too” I reassured him. “There surely is an explanation of some kind. As for myself, I desire to satisfy my curiosity by empirical observation! Let us find this chicken and maybe
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56 share it!” “Yes, but how?” My friend, once exceedingly robust, was now barely as stout as I myself was before our adventure began, and I had meanwhile wasted away to a twig. Still, neither of us could fit through the hole in the floor. As if in answer, there was a sudden growl deep within the earth, and the narrow hole widened and gaped into an enormous crack through which we fell. Luckily the cavern beneath was flooded with water, which was shockingly cold. It seemed, though, that no sooner had we splashed down into the small lake, but it drained away through further cracks in the floor of this cave, and left us stranded on cold wet stones. The rumble continued, but fainter, and the shaking of the floor diminished and finally stilled. We were left in silence, with the aroma of chicken now overlaid by rock dust and a coppery smell I associated with time spent in a classroom at college playing with various electrical apparatus. Dazed beyond words, we climbed to our feet and investigated our confines. It seemed the chamber was a wide part of a tunnel. We stumbled along the tunnel, following our noses towards the delicious prize. What we discovered was peculiar beyond words. Mario suddenly stopped walking and started eating. There was a rustling sound, and then I could hear the sound of bones being crunched between his teeth. I flailed about in the darkness, and soon struck his outstretched hand, offering me the chassis from a well-cooked fowl. It was ambrosia! I didn’t even think it incongruous that my friend was offering me such a poor morsel, I merely ate. When there was no more left, we could talk. “It was wrapped” was the first thing my companion said. “Here.” He passed me the wrapping, a piece of paper the size and consistency of which was familiar. “I need light to confirm this” I said, “but I could swear this was a page from the London Times! It definitely has the right dimensions, and a fold down the centre, and texture is familiar as well. If only we could see it, we might be able to judge how long we have been trapped below ground.” “It is definitely a sign that civilised people have been here recently. But where are they now? What were they doing so far below ground, eating chicken? The bones are still warm! I would hate to think our benefactors were hurt in the recent earthquake.” “The two must be related in some way. Occurring at such a close interval, that cannot be chance!” We agreed to continue exploring, in case we discovered other Englishmen trapped beneath fallen rocks dropped by the recent tremor.

Several days later, the chicken bones were just a memory, and we had even divided and eaten whatever sort of paper it was they had been wrapped in. The tunnel we were in wound on and on through the earth, never widening, never narrowing. Once more grim mortality was licking our armpits, when suddenly, another miracle occurred. Light! The first faint glimmers, illuminated and focused by the drops suspended from the stalactites, pierced our eyes. It was such a surprise we didn’t even realise that a distinct smell filled the air, this
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57 time that of coal smoke. When we had recovered our senses, we stumbled forward like drunken germans, arms outstretched towards the precious rays. Around a corner, and for the first time in what must have been a month, we could see! And what a sight assailed us. The tunnel at last widened into a large cavern, roughly one hundred feet across. The light came from an extraordinary machine which spanned the length of the cavity. It appeared to be a ship of some sort, riveted together out of large plates, like an ironclad warship. There were a few portholes studded across its surface, and it sat upon articulated tracks. It’s most distinctive feature was the enormous screw which protruded from one end, most likely the front. The other end was a round plate studded with small spikes and dotted with holes. The coal smoke arose from this device, a thin stream rising from a hole near the stern. I could see a sliding cover that would protect this hole if needed. There were so many strange protruberances and fixtures covering the machine that it nearly drove us mad to see it. Mario recovered first. “I have heard rumours of such machines, but never believed they were true” he told me, sotto voce. Gradually he crouched down on his haunches, and pulled me down as well. “We don’t want to be seen. The hatch is open and I surmise that the captain of that vessel is exploring these caves. It may be better if we are not discovered.” “What is it?” I demanded. “An earth borer, of course! Look at that drill! A truly amazing invention.” “I understand what you mean, but if that is a vehicle that tunnels through the ground, then how did it enter this cavern? Where is the hole?” There was no opening to the rear of the vehicle, and it was too large to have manoeuvred within the cave. It appeared to have been assembled here from parts. “Perhaps it has just been built, and we are to witness it’s first voyage.” suggested my friend. But just as he spoke, we were startled by the sound of a pebble clicking against the floor behind us. We turned, cowering before the tall figure that loomed at our backs. The stranger was tall and lanky, with a small, neat, jet-black Mephistopheles beard and piercing eyes. He was dressed in a blue uniform that appeared to be naval in origin, although it lacked most decoration except for tastefully restrained gold piping on the cuffs, and many small pockets covering the jacket. Each pocket contained a tool of some kind. “I smelt you before I heard you.” he announced, in a strange accent, similar to that of an American, although with more British vowel sounds. I surmised he was from the Canadian territories. “It isn’t often I find company this deep below the surface. Perhaps you would like to have dinner with me, and explain your presence here?” “I accept” announced Mario, rising to his feet and dragging me with him. “I am called Mario, and this is Mr. Peasworth. On behalf of my college and myself, I accept most gratefully. I also would like to thank you for the chicken remains you left behind in a tunnel recently, which served to sustain us for some time.” Crafty Mario! The stranger smiled kindly and bowed. Thus was the puzzle of the mysterious bones, and also the earthquake which dropped us through the floor, solved. Our new acquaintance stepped nimbly down from the tunnel to floor of the cavern and approached the open hatch which gaped in the side of the machine, near the flat end. He leapt aboard and helped us to enter the vehicle, wincing slightly at the touch of our blackened hands.
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58 “Welcome aboard the Goliath!” he announced. “I am Captain Voorhis, designer, builder and pilot of this vehicle. I will take you on a short tour.” He proceeded down the narrow corridor, toward the bow. We followed, glancing around us in amazement. There were windows in the bulkheads, revealing large arrays of glass jars standing in wooden frames, connected in rows via twisted cabling and wrapped securely in dull tin foil. The corridor turned, and we walked past an open door, through which came a blast of heat. Within was the face of a standard coal-fired furnace and boiler, similar to that found on board a train. The coal bins were apparently above our heads, as evidenced by the chute feeding down into the mouth of the furnace, and the water tanks beneath our feet. Before us I saw that a plate of the floor had been raised. In the opening thick bundles of cabling were visible, running from bow to stern. Captain Voorhis stopped, and carefully lowered down the raised plate so that we could pass. Onwards, past ranks of closed doors which I presumed opened onto cabins and living quarters. At last we entered the control cabin of the ship, a wide room which stretched from one side of the ship to another. There were many strange apparatus and devices arrayed around us. Running along the front of the cabin was an enormous machine constructed of complex clockworkings of brass. Our guide stepped up to this contraption and silently began to work upon it’s innards with his array of tools. We examined the surroundings in closer detail. What appeared to be a complicated orrerry at first glance, standing upon an oaken pedestal near the rear of the cabin, on closer examination looked more like an insanely complicated gimbal-mounted lamp. There were many springs involved in it’s construction, and a series of rods which disappeared down through the pedestal into the floor. There were chests arrayed along one side of the room. Mario reached into one and pulled out a set of cards punched with numerous holes, such as is used by industrial looms. The captain glanced disapprovingly at him, and he carefully replaced them. When satisfied with his adjustments to the inner mysteries of the machine, Captain Voorhis seated himself in the large chair of brass and red velvet which occupied the centre of the cabin. “Please be seated, gentlemen. I am sure you want to reach the surface as soon as possible. I will be glad to convey you there, although it will take some hours of lateral travel to reach inhabited parts.” We took our seats and watched apprehensively as our captain began manipulating the brass rods and levers which bristled from the console before him. We heard the cover of the chimney sliding into place above us, and the distant clang of the doorway in the side closing. The treads squealed as they began to roll, conveying us towards the wall of the cavern. Before us the clockworks began to turn, and whole complicated sections of the device rose and fell as though they were intricate gearboxes for some machine. I glanced back at the gimbal; it too was in motion, or rather, responding to the motion of the ship. An instinct told me that it was responsible for recording the speed and motion of our journey, although how the captain consulted it I had no idea. Presumably one of the cryptic dials before his seat. The vehicle lurched as the point of the screw hit the solid rock and stopped. Voorhis touched more levers, and was rewarded with the solid mechanical thunder of the engine engaging and setting the screw to turn. He threw a large knife switch – there was a loud report, a hum, and then the sharp grinding sound of the screw changed, and the ship leapt forward. With incredible rapidity we dove into the solid wall of rock, as it seemed to yield like butter before a hot knife. The earthscrew Goliath bored smoothly through the solid rock. The noise level within the cabin diminished as our speed increased. Captain Voorhis sat in the command chair, his arms folded comfortably along the brass rails, fingering the faceted glass dials and knobs which controlled the mechanisms of our fantastic vessel. The thick glass portholes, one on either side of the cabin, showed the flickering surface of the bare rock outside as we slid horizontally through the earth. “So, I believe you are curious as to how my craft can penetrate the solid ground to such a depth?
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

59 Well, I will show you!” He leapt nimbly from his seat and advanced upon a chalkboard which we had not noticed gracing the wall at the rear of the control cabin. Rapidly he sketched some diagrams that were familiar to me from school. “I presume you are both educated men. You will know then that solid matter consists of both positive and negatively charged particles. Here is an illustration of an atom, with the electrons embedded in the proton like currents in a pudding. This model of the atom only tells half the story! The electrons in the atom are exactly the same as the electrons that make up the electric fluid, which flows through wires and can be made to perform so many tasks.” “Well, the simple fact is that I have discovered the means of converting the electrons in the atoms of rock through which we travel, into the electric fluid familiar from our laboratories! Once in this form, the electrons flow out of the rock and are conducted, via thick bunches of cables, from the bow of the vessel to the stern. The protons, upon being stripped of their electrons, become a strange liquid, which I have named ‘voortricity’, and which is piped from the bow to the stern by a parallel system of tubes. There the two are reunited, and form impenetrable rock behind us. Thus, not only are we allowed to penetrate the ground, but our tunnel is repaired behind us, and we are saved from the problem of disposing of the material removed by our motion.” “But, I cannot conceive how you persuade the electrons and protons to separate.” exclaimed Mario. “Surely it would take a great amount of energy to tear them free from one another? And once separate, an equal amount of energy would be required to reunite them!” “Yes, it does take a large amount of energy to start the process, but once initiated, it becomes self sustaining. The giant boilers, the furnace and coal you saw in the engine room, these provide the motive power for turning the great screw, and moving the treads upon which we travel. The banks of Leyden jars store an enormous charge of electric fluid, which is needed to initiate the reaction. In actual fact, the dissolution is done with an electric machine, which for it’s power draws upon a small proportion of the current flowing through the great cables.” “The actual disassembling of the rock occurs along the edge of each thread of the screw, where there are arrays of projectors of what I term ‘V-rays’. These rays bathe the dust ground from the rock, and cause it to boil into its separate principles.” “Very ingenious! However do you prevent the ‘V-ray’ projectors from demolishing the material of the screw, or indeed themselves?” I asked. “What happens to the excess proton fluid, the ‘voortricity’, left over after the vessel has used the electric power for locomotion?” queried Mario. “Is it somehow used to power the reaction of combining the positive and negative particles back into solid matter at the rear of the vessel?” I suggested. “Why do the particles combine back into rock, instead of some other material? Is it under your control what form they take upon being recombined?” “Could you manufacture anything you wished from your streams of particles?” “Why even bother to have a screw, when you could simple bathe an area of rock with V-rays and make it vaporise?” Doctor Voorhis paused, and appeared embarrassed. He started to reply, then stopped himself, thought better of it, and shook his head.
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60 “You ask many questions. I am sure you must be tired from your recent adventures.” he said with a kindly smile. “No, not at all!” Mario expostulated. “I’d rather hear more about your discoveries. Tell me, what precautions must you take to prevent the voortricity from dissolving the pipes through which it flows?” “It is late!” announced Voorhis with a less kindly smile. “Let me show you to your quarters. We will have time to talk tomorrow. Allow me to escort you.” And with that, he seized us by our arms and briskly escorted us along the metal corridor from the bridge down through the vessel and into a cabin.

I must stop writing now, dear uncle, for my hand is nearly solid with cramp. I will send you further details of my journey soon. Regards to Watson. James peasworth, Esq.



Beneath Sumatra

Dear uncle, I believe in my last letter I left off when Captain Voorhis was conveying Mario and myself from the bridge of the earth-borer Goliath to a cabin. Our host showed us to excellent cabins, such as might be found on the finest steam liners in existence. "I fail to see why I or my guests should live poorly, even here" he said. We fell asleep almost instantly. The next morning, if indeed it was morning, we awoke with splitting headaches. Mario was first to determine the reason. "Our captain must have descended to a great depth" he said. "The pressure inside this ship must be raised because of our depth. I hope we don't ascend too quickly and be stricken with caisson disease." "Have no fear of that." said our host, his voice emerging from a concealed speaking tube. "I have enough experience to avoid such dangers. Do join me in the galley for some eggs, won't you? I have some interesting sights to show you!" Mario and I found decent suits of clothes laid out for us, although the celluloid collars were a trifle tight and I personally thought the hats too fancy considering our circumstances. Nevertheless, we discarded our rags and gratefully donned our new apparel. In the galley our host was manipulating a strange contraption upon the stove. "This device is a vacuum-cooker" he explained. "Boyles law states that gasses expand to fill available space, and this has an affect on the boiling point of liquids. In short, in order to heat our eggs hot enough to cook them at this depth, I would ruin them. This special pan contains a partial vacuum, similar to the pressure at sea level. Inside it, my eggs are done perfectly."
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61 With a hiss and a cloud of steam he cracked the vessel open and removed three perfectly fried eggs. We ate them with relish. "Why have we penetrated to such a depth? Are we in any danger?" I asked. "Why, no. In fact, I believe that our danger is greatly less here than upon the surface, even in the most civilized parts of the Empire. There are no people here, and I'm sure you will agree that people are the greatest source of danger a person ever faced!" Mario and I both laughed at his droll wit. And yet, I was steadily becoming more disturbed at the course events were taking. Our host made no move to explain our presence at such a great depth, when he had clearly stated his intention to transport us to some civilized outpost. "Come, come to the cabin!" he exclaimed to us. "I have so much to show you!" Back in the now-familiar cabin, we sat in the chairs while our host made corrections to the course of his vessel. It was obvious to us now that the gimbal machine on the pedestal was some device for measuring inclination, and that it transmitted it's measurements to the calculating machine which occupied the forward half of the room. It appeared that this enormous calculator was able to guide the ship automatically, and compensate for changes in the attitude of the ship by correcting it's course. "I rely on this machine to steer the ship when I cannot." he told us. "It is almost infallible." At that moment the ship lurched mightily, and a sharp klaxon sounded. Captain Voorhis leapt at the controls and rapidly began working them. Through the portholes on either side of the cabin we could see that the colour of the surrounding rock had changed. Now it was homogenous, and yellow, and slightly translucent. "Almost but not totally infallible" announced our host. The thick grinding sound of our progress had changed into a soft, smooth sound, as of silk being drawn past a comb. "We have descended too deep and entered the cheese layers!" "The cheese layers!" exclaimed Mario. "What on earth do you mean by that?" "I mean the cheese layers. The layers of cheese which are found deep below the surface in these parts. Luckily we seem to have penetrated them in an uninhabited region. Otherwise our situation would be very grim." In the softer medium of the cheese, the ship seemed to wallow. It turned this way and that, and occasionally lurched downwards as it encountered softer portions of curd. Captain Voorhis desperately tried to gain altitude and reach the safety of solid rock, but to no avail. The cheese was too soft for the machine to climb through - it could only descend. "I'll have to go down, there's nothing for it. We will reach rock again, eventually." Down we plunged, until we reached, not rock, but a cavity. With a sickening lurch the vessel dropped down and came to rest half embedded in the floor of a large chamber. The captain triggered floodlights, and through the portholes we could see that we were in a nexus of several tunnels. The walls were rough and one fancied one could see large teeth marks gouged into their surface. "Nothing to worry about. This must be an old tunnel. I'll take us further down as soon as I restart the engine." Voorhis tried his levers, but in vain. The ship refused to move. We were stuck. "Damn and blast it! I will need to check the treads, see if something is jamming them. Please
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62 remain here." He darted from the cabin down the passageway. Mario rose and made to follow him. "Mario, our host requested that we remain here." I reminded him. "I chose not to. Remember, I have a professional interest in cheese." In the corridor we could smell the rich musty tang of the cheese outside. It smelt most like cheddar, or an aged swiss. Mario smiled as the scented wind blew past us. "It's no variety I can identify." he announced. "I must taste it. It would be a lucrative business to mine these seams! I wonder how I could arrange a lease? Can anyone remember whether Sumatra is part of the Empire yet?" Outside our voices were strangely muffled by the soft walls, and the air was moist and warm. There was a faint, disturbing chittering sound. I asked Captain Voorhis whether it was anything to be concerned about. "Merely the sound of mites." he replied. "Too small to hurt us, although they are not pretty to look at." "And what, may I ask, created these tunnels?" asked Mario. "Well, that is the question. I guess I should start with the reason so much cheese may be found in such an inaccessible place." "For several years now scientists have been extending the age of the earth backwards in time, as more discoveries are made about it's nature. I'm sure educated gentlemen such as yourselves must be familiar with the current theories regarding fossils which may be found in sedimentary rock, and in the coal beds of England? They are regarded as the remains of once living creatures whose mortal remains have become imprisoned within rock, petrified by the actions of various chemicals, and then buried by the slow action of windborn dust or sand." "The black oil, which the drillers of artesian wells in the south of America occasionally strike, is also thought to be the end product of the action of decay on small organisms, probably like unto pond scum. Collected deep underground by some sort of naturally occurring 'grease trap' which filtered the stream of artesian water for millennia, this useless substance waits to be discovered in large pockets, like blisters." "Well, I believe that a similar process created these great cheese beds that surround us. At some point in the distant past, a stream of water descended through these rocks bearing a substance very similar to raw cows milk. How such a substance came into existence is open to conjecture. I theorize that ponds on the surface were filled with a species of yeast which produced this substance rather like modern yeasts produce alcohol in beer. Over thousands of years this stream of milk passed through this region, washing away and replacing whatever strata of rock was found here, and over time the natural action of oxidation converted the deposited curds into cheese. And very fine cheese it is too: try some." We did. It tasted similar to Wemsleydale, although slightly stronger. "In accordance with the theories of Darwin, other life changed or 'evolved' to live within this substance, so rich in food value. There are mites, which you can hear. There are also some molds and fungi which are relatives of the green fur which spoils cheddar left too long in the cupboard. There are also the creators of these tunnels..." "Tell me about them. Surely you won't expect me to believe giant rats?"
Copyright © 1999, The National Watson Archive. All rights reserved.

63 "No, that would be too easy, and rather corny as well. I have seen the creators of the tunnels. If we are lucky we won't be meeting them today." Captain Voorhis shuddered, then turned and trudged back along the length of his ship, inspecting the treads. Mario looked thoughtful. "I trust our captain knows best. These tunnels are quite large, and those grooves look very much like teeth marks. I hope we can fix this craft and leave soon." "Oh no." exclaimed the captain. He reached into the mechanism and retrieved a length of shiny metal. "I fear we are undone." "Is the tread broken?" I asked. "No, this is not part of the ship. It is a cheese knife, and it can only have been thrust in by hand... look out!" I started to duck, but I was too slow. A heavy weight impacted against the back of my head, and I slid into unconsciousness...



Final Lark

Sir Arnold Warrington
119C, Baker Street. London, W1.

My Dear Watson, It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these, the last words in which I shall ever
record the singular personality who was my friend and your employer.

You may not immediately recognise my name, but I am "one of the chaps down at the club" that
he spoke of so affectingly from time to time. Maybe you recognise me now.

I'm trying to break this as gently as I can, Watson, but make no mistake about it, he's as dead as a
bloody door-nail. Maybe it would have been better just to tell you the news without beating about the bush like that - I know you've always had a stiff upper lip - but trust me; he's as dead as a flat cat.

Perhaps I should explain the circumstances of his demise. Some time this last March, he approached me at the club. Apparently he'd come into possession of
two tickets to Geneva, Switzerland. He wondered if maybe I wouldn't like to go along with him, "for a bit of a lark". Well, I'm as fond of a lark as the next chap, but the Bridge season wasn't quite over so I had to put him off for a couple of weeks. Well: he wasn't best pleased about that of course, but of course no-one else could bear his company for more than five minutes, so he agreed to wait for the conclusion of my Bridge tourney. (Sir James Rotter and I tied for seventh).
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In the middle of April, we began to make our plans. Packing, planning, fussing, fiddling. He
needed an entire damned steamer trunk of course. Twelve suits, twelve shirts, three raincoats and a half dozen pairs of shoes. I just took the usual: two pairs of socks, an extra pair of underpants, and an emergency pair of trousers, just in case. He was supposed to be in charge of the first-aid kit but he forgot the blessed thing. I ask you Watson: I can get my entire travelling wardrobe into my overcoat pocket, and that silly devil can't even find space in a trunk for a first-aid kit?

We'd agreed to make our departure about the middle of May, and on the day before we were
supposed to go, I toddled over to your rooms to take care of the last-minute details. I was just walking around the corner of Bentinck Street and Welbeck Street when some daft bastard in a van nearly knocked me down. I kept to the pavement after that, Watson, I don't mind telling you. But I was so annoyed that I picked up a brick from the pavement, and hurled the bloody thing at the van. Unfortunately, my aim was a bit off and I came close to hitting some other chap. Odd bird he was; he just shouted "Moriarty!" and brandished his walking stick as he strode away.

I stopped off at the club for a quick pick-me-up, as I was a bit startled by my adventure with the
van. I mentioned the strange fellow to one of the lads down there, and apparently he's well known in these parts. Been known to sit for hours in a public lavatory on Pall Mall and then pick fights with young men, seemingly. Always claims they attacked him first, "wielding a bludgeon" or some such nonsense. Dashed unpleasant, whatever the story behind that is.

Well, I got over to your rooms (you were off on one of your walks), and we agreed on the details
for the trip. Had a dashed pleasant evening actually, two hands of Bezique and a rubber of Port. But imagine my surprise as I was leaving - there was someone climbing out of one of your neighbour's back-room windows, and it was him again! The same fellow I'd almost hit earlier in the day. He positively jumped when he saw me, then yelled "The game is afoot now!" and brandished his walking-stick again. Then he hopped over the garden wall and was gone. Great hand for brandishing, I'll say that much for him.

Your employer and I met up again at your rooms the next day - I would have said good-bye to
you, except that your bedroom door was locked. (I may have left the gas on, I'm afraid, and I hope that didn't cause any problems for you in our absence). We had a little difficulty getting to the station, in that the cab that was supposed to be waiting for us at the end of Lowther Arcade had evidently been commandeered. The dispatcher said it had been taken by a sweaty man in a great hurry. But no matter, we arrived at Victoria Station in plenty of time to catch the train.

While waiting for the train, we had a little light refreshment. As we sat in the station cafeteria, we
were both interested to notice that there was a man skulking around like a mad anarchist bomber first he'd hide behind a pile of luggage, then make a mad dash and hide, elaborately, behind the next pillar. Then to another pile of luggage, where he'd flatten himself against the pile as if to try to melt in with the background. He couldn't have drawn much more attention to himself if he'd tried, and it certainly didn't help that he had on an obviously false moustache, and that his "glasses" were drawn on with grease-paint. The black silk shirt, and red kerchief probably drew more attention than they deflected, too.

We both recognised him instantly: I was about to say "There's that chap again" - the one I'd run into twice the previous day - when I
was interrupted by your employer saying "That bounder! I'll fix him this time, by God!". It seemed to me that he knew the man, and that he didn't care for him much.
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We inquired at the ticket office. We asked which train the man in the obvious disguise was
booked on. The clerk at the window knew instantly who we were talking about -"The one in the cape and silly hat, you mean?"- and he told us he was booked on the Continental Express; the same train as us.

"He's so damned demented he probably thinks he's being pursued. Bet you a stack of fivers he'll
get off in Canterbury 'to throw them off the scent'. Here, let's have a bit of fun; hang the expense", said your employer.

And he engaged a special train to follow the Express, saying "There, that'll give the bugger a case
of the shakes that'll last him for a while. Serve him right, after the business with Fifi".

With that, we got on the train, and settled into our seats. We noticed our disguised friend running
from one pillar to another up the platform. He was making a great show of squeezing himself behind each one, and peering around from the other side to see if he had been observed. Well he had been of course, and by this time most of the people in the area were watching him, fascinated to see his next move.

"Bet you lunch he's heading for the second first-class carriage from the front.". I didn't take him
up on the bet, as he was generally right about such things, and I was right not to. Our disguised friend reached the carriage in question, and in an ill-advised gesture for someone attempting to remain unobserved, paused for a few seconds outside the carriage and gazed heavenward as he flourished his rapier.

A few moments later, the train pulled out of the station, and we were moving through South
London. As the train trundled on, my companion made an attempt to get a porter to deliver a rubber rat to the first-class carriage ahead of us, but the porter balked, noting that it "would be more than my job's worth". Attempts to bribe someone into letting us pretend to be ticket inspectors proved similarly fruitless.

But before too long the train was slowing, and we were pulling into Canterbury. My companion
and I stuck our heads out of the window, and sure enough there was a commotion on the platform by the second first-class carriage. My companion was laughing fit to burst, as in an elaborate gesture of "secrecy" our disguised friend had descended from the train holding his cape in front of his face. As this obscured his vision somewhat, he had blundered into a pile of empty wooden packing crates knocking them hither and yon. The noise drew all the passengers attention, and everyone rushed to the windows to see what the disturbance was.

My companion was still laughing a few minutes later as the train pulled out again, and we
observed two figures trying, unsuccessfully, to hide behind yet another stack of luggage. "And d'you know what the funniest thing is old boy?", he asked. "In another four minutes there'll be my special right behind. The silly beggar will announce that he was right all along, and that he's 'in mortal danger'. Scare the dunderhead into a fresh pair of underpants, I dare say".

The remainder of the journey was relatively uneventful, my companion only once breaking the
silence to remark "Sheep, by God!", as he gazed thoughtfully out of the window. We got off the train in Dover for the ferry, and had a pleasant trip, marred only by an ill-advised attempt to wrestle the wheel from the Captain. Customs at Calais proved to be a little trying, the French being as they are. I should have supposed the expression "Thunderstick" to be comprehensible to anyone, but evidently not.
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The Customs johnnies notwithstanding, we still managed to catch our scheduled train to Paris,
and our connection to Geneva. There was a relatively mild contretemps over the condition of the toilets on the train, but a couple of fivers soon put that to rights. The application of a few more fivers even got us some decent grub on the train: Steak and Kidney pudding for one of the meals! Delicious!

My companion had some trifling business to conduct in Geneva. I am unsure of its nature, but I
did hear him say something about "cocking a snoot", and "showing these bloody darkies what's what". Perhaps with your intimacy with his business dealings, you might understand these references better than I do.

And then we set off for a leisurely tour of Switzerland before returning (as we thought) to dear old
England. We were to tour a few towns in Switzerland and then make our way back to England via Luxembourg, France and Belgium, and thence the ferry to Newhaven.

We discussed our plans over dinner one night, and then your employer spotted the bill (or
l'addition as they say over there). "Good God, above!" he shouted "I'm not paying this bloody thing! How the Hell are we going to sneak out on this?" We sat in the Geneva salle-a-manger arguing the question for half an hour, but in the morning we were on our way again. Our intentions were to travel to the charming hamlet of Rosenlaui, and then to Interlaken by way of Meiringen and the Gemmi pass, and finally branch off to Leuk and down the Rhone valley.

Once at Rosenlaui, we stayed at the "Deutscher Hotel" which was then run by Peter Sellers. He
was an honest, hard-working fellow - could almost have been English in fact - although his German left a lot to be desired. On the morning of our departure, he told us that on no account should we fail to visit the "Reichenbach Falls" which are about halfway down the hills. He further told us that we "should probably go to the bottom", as apparently there's been a history of people losing their footing at the top.

We heeded his advice, and were much impressed by the falls. It is, indeed, a fearful place. The
torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring forever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing forever upward, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamour.

We stood near the bottom chucking in rocks; trying to see who could get one to skip. My
companion was in the act of trying to push me in ("for a laugh" as he put it - you know how he was!) when he spotted something up at the top of the waterfall.

High on the cliffs above us above us were two chaps "acting the giddy goat". It looked for all the
world like one was trying to teach the other the Czardas, an eastern European dance which I learned in Croydon when I was 22. Gazing upwards, I was astonished to realize that one of them was our disguised friend from the train, once again. Except that now he had tried to disguise himself as a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, and none too successfully.

Suddenly, the hotel manager's words proved prophetic: the two of them tumbled over the edge,
and were plummeting to their almost certain deaths below. Ever the noble fellow, your employer attempted to push me underneath them to break their fall, but unfortunately his judgement was a
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67 little blurred by the Brandy he'd been drinking since dawn, and he got underneath them instead. He broke the fall of our disguised friend, who I'm ashamed to say ran away giggling like a schoolgirl. The other was not so fortunate, and knowing that there'd be all kinds of questions, I hoofed his body into the river.

But my companion was gravely injured, and I contemplated bashing his brains out with a bloody
big rock to put him out of his misery. As I tried to decide what to do, he expired. Really. That was how it happened. Really.

A few words may suffice to tell the little that remains. After the autopsy, we had him cremated,
interred the ashes in a half-ton block of concrete, and threw the whole thing overboard in the middle of the Channel. I'm sure it was what he would have wanted.

Yours Faithfully Sir Arnold ("Chuffie") Warrington.

Andrew Kirby died January 21st 2006.

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