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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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 . . .
"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
"Is there anything else, or was this
a single incident?" Holmes querried
"No, Mr. Holmes, it was not a single
"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?"
"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
"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
"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.
"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?"