Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blue Carbuncle time of year. . . .


  1. "It is perhaps less suggestive than it might have been," remarked Holmes, "and yet there are a few inferences which represent at least a strong balance of probability. That the man was highly intellectual is of course obvious upon the face of it, and also that he was fairly well-to-do, although he has now fallen upon evil days. He had foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with the decline of his fortunes, seems to indicate some evil influence, probably elves, at work upon him. This may account also for the obvious fact that his wife has ceased to love him. He has, however, retained some degree of self-respect. He is a man who leads a sedentary life, goes out little, perhaps just once a year, is middle-aged, has grizzled hair which he has had cut within the last few days, and which he anoints with lime-cream. These are the more patent facts which are to be deduced from his hat. Also, by the way, that it is extremely improbable that he has gas laid on in his house."

    "How did you deduce that this man was intellectual?"

    For answer Holmes clapped the hat upon his head. It came right over the forehead and settled upon the bridge of his nose. "It is a question of cubic capacity," said he; "a man with so large a brain must have something in it."

    "The decline of his fortunes, then?"

    "This hat is old. These type of plush fur lined hats have long been out of fashion. It is a hat of the very best quality. Look at the fur, and the excellent lining. If this man could afford to buy so expensive a hat. and has had no hat since, then he has assuredly gone down in the world."

    "Well, that is clear enough, certainly. But how about the foresight, and the moral retrogression?"

    "Here is the foresight." said he, putting his finger upon the little disc and loop of the hat-securer. "They are never solid upon hats. If this man ordered one, it is a sign of a certain amount of foresight, since he went out of his way to take this precaution against the wind. But since we see that he has broken the elastic, and has not troubled to replace it, it is obvious that he has less foresight now than formerly, which is a distinct proof of a weakening nature. On the other hand, he has endeavoured to conceal some of these stains upon the plush by daubing them with red ink, which is a sign that he has not entirely lost his self-respect.The further points, that he is middle-aged, that his hair is grizzled, that it has been recently cut, and that he uses lime-cream, are all to be gathered from a close examination of the lower part of the lining. The lens discloses a large number of hair-ends, clean cut by the scissors of the barber. They all appear to be adhesive, and there is a distinct odour of lime-cream. This dust, you will observe, is not the gritty, gray dust of the street, but the fluffy brown dust of the house, showing that it has been hung up indoors most of the time; while the marks of moisture upon the inside are proof positive that the wearer perspired very freely, and could, therefore, hardly be in the best of training."

    "But his wife - you said that she had ceased to love him."

    "This hat has not been brushed for weeks, maybe even months. When I see you, my dear Watson, with a month's accumulation of dust upon your hat, and when your wife allows you to go out in such a state, I shall fear that you also have been unfortunate enough to lose your wife's affection."

    "You have an answer to everything. But how on earth do you deduce that the gas is not laid on in the house?"

    "One tallow stain, or even two, might come by chance; but, when I see no less than five, I think that there can be little doubt that the individual must be brought into frequent contact with burning tallow - walks upstairs at night probably with his hat in one hand and a guttering candle in the other. Anyhow, he never got tallow stains from a gas jet."

    1. Okay, this is going to be part of this image every year.