The Adventure of the Leaping Lord of Beasley Manor
Chapter One
by
Kent Ross

     Summer's here had been oppressive, but it finally seemed to have passed. September's rains had come, but even they had only tempered the heat. Now finally as October began, there was a coolness in the morning that was invigorating. So much so, that following our rising and matutinal ablutions, we had enjoyed an excellent morning repast of eggs and fresh rashers, with a strong Arabian coffee that seemed appropriate for this day. It was bright outside our windows, with light wind stirring the leaves, many of which had already descended due to September's rains. We rose from our chairs to take a walk through the park, though a bit unusual for Holmes, but the weather change had stirred us both to enjoy the morning. We strolled casually, not minding our time, since neither of us had pressing business.

     It was with a startled consternation that came from Holmes as we rounded the corner. Right in front of our abode was a stately carriage, certainly of the upper echelons of the city. He may not have snorted, but I heard him mumble, "We might have missed this," as he hurried to the door.

     We were met by Mrs. Hudson who told us that we had a visitor, a "Lady Honorific Beasley, of Beasley Manor. I seated her in your rooms, but she has waited nearly fifteen minutes. I do not think she is accustomed to waiting on others."
      "Of course not, Mrs. Hudson. Thank you. Did you provide her with some tea?"
      "Yes, sir. She seemed some agitated as she waited."

     As we entered our rooms, Holmes spoke to the woman seated near the window, "Lady Beasley, I am sorry we were delayed this morning and so we not present for your arrival."      "Yes," she responded. "I was a bit piqued, but since I had not sent you a note, I can hardly hold it against you. Incidents of recent days have left me a bit confused over proper decorum and I am sorry."
      "Of course, Holmes replied. "I am Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and this is my friend, Dr. John Watson. How can we help you?
      Lady Beasley nodded and said, "Well, I hardly know how to tell you. It seems so, well, innocent, yet so strange, that I knew nowhere else to turn..I trust you perhaps can enlighten me about my son. I could hardly inquire of others"
      "We will do our best, Lady Beasley, but pray tell us more of the nature of the situation."
      "My son, the Earl of Beasley, came to his inheritance five years ago, with the death of my husband. He, my husband that is, had been in poor health for nearly ten years before he expired. His death was not unexpected, and relieved him of much pain and suffering."
      "Thank you, Lady Beasley, but it remains unclear as to your problem with your son. Perhaps you could start at the beginning of the story."
      "Yes, precisely," She said. "It was five years ago that with my husband's death, Arthur took his place. The estates are quite extensive, and with my husband's ill-health, Arthur had already been in charge of their care. He had done well, and has continued doing well, so that the properties have survived the change with hardly a notice."
      "Then," I interjected, "Financial concerns are not part of there problem."
      "Oh, my no," she expostulated.
      "That is not it at all." Holmes said, "Go on, then, M'lady."
      "Well, it was just on the first of May, May Day, just five months ago that the first incident occurred. Perhaps you remember, it had been a wonderful May Day and the village children had come to the Manor for a picnic on the grounds. We often invited them."
      "Yes," I said.
      "That evening though a storm came in with strong winds and rain that fairly shattered the night. I had difficulty sleeping with the storm. I thought I would get up and descend to the library to look for something to read."
      "I do remember that storm. It was quite out of the ordinary," I said.
      "Yes, it was. As I descended the staircase, I did not need a light for I was, of course, entirely familiar with the house. I came down and turned the corner to go to the library and I was surprised to see light coming through the doorway. Somewhat fearful, I crept to the doorway and looked in . . .
      "And . . ." I asked, as Her Ladyship hesitated.
      "It was Arthur." Holmes said, "But that cannot have been unusual?"
      "No, of course not," she replied somewhat shortly, "But it was what Arthur was doing. He was not at the desk reading, but he was leaping around. Not with any intentionality, but leaping and laughing. I feared first for his sanity, so I spoke soothingly to him, 'Arthur?' His leaping ceased and he turned to me and said, 'Mother, whatever are you doing up at this hour?'
     "My reply was, 'What am I doing? Rather, what are you doing?'
      'Oh, that,' he said, 'I was, eh . . . nothing.'
      "And without further explanation, he brushed by me, with a soft touch to my cheek and went to his bed. Well, needless to say, I could not sleep that entire night."
      "Perhaps it was the children that had put him in a gay mind that evening and he was enjoying the memory of them,"
      "Is there anything else, or was this a single incident?" Holmes querried
      "No, Mr. Holmes, it was not a single incident."
      "Then it has happened again?, he added.
      "Yes, at least four more times, of which I am aware, though it could have been more."
      "Did you also observe any of these?" he said.
      "Strangely, the four I have observed all happened on the evening of the first of each month. The first had been so odd of Arthur, that somehow on the first of June I was not asleep, perhaps remembering the incident on May Day, and at a similar time, it was 2:00 a.m., I again descended the stairs and saw that a light was coming from the library. Arthur was again leaping about, I might say cavorting. I didn't interrupt him this time and ascended back to my bedroom."
      "Strange indeed, but what of the other incidents?" Holmes asked.
      "Because of the first two incidents, I deliberately went down again on July first and August first and then again September first, and it was the same as that I had previously observed."
      "And Sir Arthur has himself never spoken of them?" Holmes inquired.
      "Oh, no" she replied, "He would never do that. And, I might add, his behavior and temperament have been exemplary I every other respect. Well, at least, all that I have observed, except . . ." and she stopped haltingly.
     "There is, then, something else?" Holmes followed.
     "Yes," she went on, "I had been considering what I ought to do, if anything, but then it didn't happen."
      "What didn't happen?" I said. "The first of this month, the leaping didn't occur, but something rather more bizarre and mysterious. When I came down again, the light was emanating from the door, but Arthur was not leaping. Oh, this is quite embarrassing. He was sitting at the desk and he was weeping. I entered the room this time and spoke to him, 'Arthur, what is wrong?' He saw me and promptly screeched. Yes, that is the word. He screeched, then in an agonized voice, he cried out 'We are undone and all is ended.' Whatever do you mean, Arthur? 'I cannot tell you. I cannot, but if I should die, you will be safe.' And with that he rushed from the room and left the house, and I have not seen him these past two days. Can you explain this, Mr. Holmes?"
      "Up to this month's change in behavior, the situation did not seem unsettling, but this does call for inquiry, Lady Beasley. We will come to Beasley Manor in the morning and pursue one or two lines that are suggested," Holmes said
      "Oh, thank you, Mr. Holmes. Any expenses you occur will be handled by our solicitor of the city," she added.
      As she arose to leave, she added, "Thank you for receiving me and listening to this strange tale. The Beasley's have been there for hundreds of years, and have not had even the hint of scandal. Please use your discretion. Thank you again."

With that she left our rooms and descended to her carriage. I looked at Holmes and said, "Whatever do you make of that."
      "Nothing without more data, but is has some most intriguing possibilities. Would you share a carriage with me to Beasley Manor in the morning?"