All is Satisfactory, Watson!bySoul Janitor©
I vouchsafe that of all the challenging cases the venerable Mr. Hoames has assayed to solve in the past years, the curious mystery of the Very Nice Gemstone was by far the most pleasurable. It is not often that Hoames and I can step from 228C Butcher Street on a crisp afternoon and return within hours with a case fully solved, and with some most unusual side benefits attached, as I will heretofore explain.
Hoames and I were sitting comfortably in his study on the ninth of October, 1887, basking in the glow of the satisfying resolution of the recent Puzzlement of What Happened to the Guy Who Beat Up the Other Guy (with no thanks due to that confounded Inspector Lestraub!), and generally enjoying our peace and quiet when the housekeeper alerted us to the presence of a visitor. Hoames put down his violin (he had given up learning how to play the vexing thing some months before, and spent most of his time just gnawing absently on the third and fourth strings) and sprang to his feet.
"Perhaps another adventure has come our way, Watkins!" he said enthusiastically, his boundless energy always a sight to behold.
"I almost hope not, dear Hoames," I mused. "I'm still recovering from the Perplexing Case of the Man Who Purloined Seven Hundred Dollars from Someone on the Street at Gunpoint for Financial Benefit and Was Seen by Eleven Witnesses and Captured Immediately."
"Be that as it may, my mind needs a new challenge," Hoames retorted. "We can't sit around in this accursed study every Sunday afternoon. The invention of professional football lies another thirty years hence, and I shall go off my nut if I have to spend one more noontide listening to another one of your blasted light bulb jokes!"
We looked up to behold our visitor, and I must say we were both quite stunned at this particular apparition. It was none other than Lady Dippingham of Upton-Upon-Snootshire, young wife of the noted entrepreneur Lord Dippingham, the man who had made a vast fortune by introducing casino gambling to the Vatican.
"Good day, sirs," she said shyly, ornamented in a smart red dress and hat. "I hope I am not intruding."
"Not at all, Lady Dippingham," Hoames assured her, taking her dainty hand in his own. "Won't you take tea?"
"Please, call me Elsadonnaprunellamadeline," she said, taking a seat.
"To what do we owe this honor, Lady Dippingham?" I asked.
The bashful young lady, who was no more than twenty years young at her wedding the previous December, hung her head. "I have a matter of the utmost urgency and confidentiality to discuss, I'm afraid. It relates to the theft of a certain article in my and my husband's possession. The Very Nice Gemstone has been stolen!"
Hoames and I gasped simultaneously. (Truth be known, my gasp was faked, since I had no idea what the hell the Very Nice Gemstone was.)
"Good Madam," Hoames said, leaning forward, "do you speak of the famed Very Nice Gemstone brought over from Morocco and purchased by your husband at Sotheby's in October of 1874?"
"Indeed I do, sir," Mrs. Dippingham said, her face a study of sorrow. "Since its acquisition, it has rested safely in its case within my bed chamber. But last night, it vanished without a trace while I read quietly in bed—simply vanished from one moment to the next!"
"Fascinating," Hoames whispered, sitting at the edge of his seat.
"Pardon me, Hoames," I interjected, "but could you enlighten me as to the Gemstone's history?"
"For Christ's sake, Watkins, pick up a newspaper once in a while," Hoames said crossly. "The Very Nice Gemstone was handcrafted for King Eltonjohn of Siam seven hundred years ago as a fertility blessing. It seems the King was chronically unable to impregnate his queen for certain reasons of....." Here he narrowed his eyes, trying to recall the whole story.
"Reasons of flaming homosexuality!" I suddenly remembered in one burst. "Yes, the King was a prancing, shimmying nancy-boy, according to legend." "Indeed, you're correct, sir," Lady Dippingham added. "The King was gay as a blueberry scone, and the jewel was made with the belief that whoever wore it would be able to more easily achieve and maintain an......ah....." The poor child's face had become the color of spring roses in Trafalgar Square.
"There there, lass, there's no need to go on," I said, patting her immaculately pearly hand. "We can easily discuss this predicament without resorting to talk of wangies, sausages, and rock hard McStewarts."
"Watkins, enough!" Hoames chided me. "Tell me, Lady Dippingham, is your husband aware of the theft?"
"No sir," she said. "He returns from a purchasing trip in Corfu this very evening, and I wish so much he never had to find out the jewel is gone. Though it's insured, Charles values it for....other reasons."
"Other reasons?" Hoames said, producing his famous meerschaum pipe, lighting it up casually, and puffing on it serenely after a typically cataclysmic six-minute introductory bout of deafening hacking coughs.
"Yes, Mr. Hoames," Lady Dippingham went on. "As you know, my husband is a septagenarian. At his rather advanced age, he sometimes has difficulty of his own when he ventures to....to....." She trailed off again.
"I understand fully," Hoames said. "The invention of Viagra lies some one hundred years hence, and it can be difficult for a man of seasoned years to perform certain husbandly duties without the aid of magic amulets."
"Not that I mind, Mr. Hoames. You see, I've never been much for....that sort of thing. They taught us at the convent that it was a cruel and unpleasant business, and indeed I have found it so."
Hoames rose to his feet apace. "Lady Dippingham, Watkins and I will solve this mystery with as much aplomb as we can muster. I think our first course of action is to take a carriage to your residence and examine the crime scene. Come, let us away!"
There were tears of gratitude in Lady Dippingham's eyes as she stood. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Hoames. I shall meet you at 617 Chutney Street in one hour!"
Fifteen minutes later, Hoames and I were traversing our way through the cobblestone streets of London, anxious to begin our sleuthing. Having not completed our luncheon, we brought along a large watermelon for sustenance and passed it back and forth between us.
"Lovely girl," I noted to Hoames as we dined.
"Indeed," he concurred, scooping up another handful of melon with his bare hands and mashing it into his jaws. "The couple is still very much the talk of the West End. Lord Dippingham, a crusty and icy man of finance, and his blushing bride, an innocent girl of manners and delicacy. You know, you have a seed on your cheek."
"I must say I rather envy Dippingham," I said. "I could not help but notice Lady Dippingham's striking bosom."
"Striking is an understatement, my friend," Hoames said, digging both hands into ever more of the soft, pink, wet fruit. Gazing at that bounteous meat, my mind turned irrevocably to the fact that I had not myself sampled feminine pleasures since I ended my engagement with Miss Gunkenloaf in June on grounds that she was really, really, really goddamned stupid. "It has been some time, Watkins," Hoames continued, "since my cunning detective's eyes examined such a triumphant chest—perhaps not since meeting your own embittered ex-fiancee, who, though being really, really, really goddamned stupid, possessed a most wondrous pair of bubbins."
"Yeah," I said, staring out the window. "Man, life sucks."
"That's really good, Watkins," Hoames said crossly. "There's the Victorian era dignity I so value in a sleuthing assistant. 'Life sucks'. How quaint. Jesus H. Christ!"
Within moments we found ourselves at the gate in front of 617 Chutney Street. We were ushered up a set of winding stairs by a sullen midget butler, and Lady Dippingham met us at the peak.
"This way, gentlemen," she said, leading the way. She had removed the hat she had greeted us with an hour before, revealing her lovely long black hair and soulful blue eyes. What a pleasure it was to attend a young lady to her bedchamber, even in the context of a professional inquiry!
The bedroom was large and cozily lit with several bright oil lamps. "Here, sirs, is where the Very Nice Gemstone was kept," she said, pointing out a small glass case just beside the large four-post bed. The door to the case was still ajar.
"Describe, please," Hoames began, "the jewel in question."
"Well," said Lady Dippingham, "it is a ruby pendant hanging from a silver chain, and cut in a circular O-shape. Sadly, it can be removed from the chain easily and is small enough to fit in any villain's pocket!" The despair rang loudly in her lilting voice.
"I see," Hoames said surveying the room. "What time did the disappearance occur?"
"At about eleven o'clock last night. I was on top of the bed, in my nightclothes, doing the Sunday Times brainteaser. I happened to look over at the case—and the door was open and the Gemstone was gone!"
"Hmmmm," Hoames muttered, restricting himself to only four Ms so as not to further worry the dear woman. "And the doors and windows were sealed tight?"
"Indeed, Mr. Hoames. Oh, I'm ever so in despair!" With that, she covered her eyes and sat on the foot of the bed. I sat also to console her, putting one arm around her tiny shoulders. The gentle squeezing of them pronounced her soft cleavage more impressively, providing an opportune eyeful of bliss.
Hoames noticed the newspaper on the night-table. Lifting it, he turned to Lady Dippingham with a frown on his face. "I'm afraid, Lady Dippingham, that my inquiries will go much more smoothly if you refrain from lying to me!" Lady Dippingham looked at him, eyes wide. "But whatever can you mean, Mr. Hoames?"
"You said you were alone here last night....but as usual, the Sunday Times brainteaser illuminates as well as educates!" Holding the newspaper out to her, he pointed firmly. "This brainteaser has been filled in with two different sets of penmanship—one female, and one very obviously male!"
I took the newspaper and checked his deductions myself. It was true! Criminy! "Also, Lady Dippingham," Hoames ventured further, "may I point out to you that a 'four-legged equine animal that might win a derby' is not, as your puzzlemate apparently believed, a starfish!"
Lady Dippingham hung her head in shame. "I'm sorry I lied, Mr. Hoames. But you can understand, I am trying to protect my honor!"
"Then it was not your husband who shared the joy of the puzzle with you, eh?" Hoames questioned.
"No sir....it was not."
This confession made me rise off the bed in shock. "Lady Dippingham!" I exclaimed. "Do you mean to tell us that the man who also foolishly wrote 'Miami' as the answer to the clue 'a country made up of Irish people' is ....do you mean to say he is...."
"Oh, just a friend, and that is all!" she cried, and flopped backwards on the coverlet. "But gentlemen, you must think me the lowest sort of creature! I, who possess a husband so rich and worldly, have taken another's company!"
"And this man joined you last night in your bedchamber for an evening of puzzle solving?" Hoames demanded to know.
"Yes," said Miss Dippingham. "It was nothing more than friendly companionship. The boy is merely nineteen, a common laborer who works in the bread mines. I thought I might.....show him some kindness...."
Hoames paced the room, taking in every little detail with his hawk's eyes. He produced his meerschaum pipe again, and in his grave intensity, accidentally put the wrong end in his mouth.
"Lady Dippingham," he said sternly, "obviously you take us for fools. If nothing untoward occurred between you and this 'friend', how do you explain....this?!" He suddenly yanked back the bedcovers to reveal a series of curious indentations in the top sheet. The most prominent was a deep depression flanked on both sides by two small circular ones.
"What do you make of it, Hoames?" I asked, spellbound.
"Quite simple, my dear Watkins," he noted. "In her anxiety to cover up any traces of her evening visitor, our Lady Dippingham forgot to smooth out the sheet. If you examine the center indentation carefully, you will see it corresponds roughly to a pair of stout buttocks. The smaller indentations on either side describe the place where a pair of knees rested!"
"Which implies that a woman rested atop a man in a most indiscreet position!" I finished, overwhelmed by Hoames' logical acumen.
Lady Dippingham closed her eyes. "Yes...it is true. Again you have seen through my defenses. Gentlemen, I have taken a lover....and I could not be more deeply ashamed!"
"Whew, lucky guess," Hoames announced. "I really had no idea what these indentations are. I just figured it was worth a shot."
"Brilliant, Hoames!" I exclaimed. (Most readers of our adventures do not realize that the vast majority of Hoames' deductions were the result of either wildly fortunate guesses or illegal eavesdropping.)
"You must forgive me, gentlemen, for my offenses against God," said Lady Dippingham, rising and gazing out the window. "I was inaccurate when I described conjugal activity as unpleasant. The truth is, I have been unable to satisfy my appalling lusts ever since I became married. I am an unnatural, damnable creature!"
"There there," I offered, again wrapping an arm around the good lady, thirty percent of which was honest concern for her comfort, and the other hundred percent more or less a ruse to gaze at the stunning downslope of her ample cleavage.
"Be that as it may, we have a crime to solve," said Hoames. "This commoner you brought into your bed—we will assume for the moment that he stole the jewel, no?"
"But Mr. Hoames, sir," Lady Dippingham stuttered, "it is quite impossible. You see, I know for a fact that Matthias left this room not only empty-handed—but unclothed as well."
"The devil you say!" I said loudly, mostly because it's a phrase I just can't enough of.
"I do say indeed," she went on. "I heard footsteps out in the hallway at midnight, when we were lying together. Terrified that my husband had returned early, Matthias leapt up from the bed and jumped out of the window onto the street below, then ran for all he was worth, naked through the streets of Bickamby-Below-Bumpenshaven!"
"And you are certain the jewel was not on his person?"
"Quite. But when I looked at the case once again, the jewel was gone!"
"I see," Hoames mused. "Lady Dippingham, I have a theory as to what happened to the Gemstone—but it cannot be confirmed until you go over every detail of exactly what happened between the two of you last night. The more information you give me, the quicker we can resolve this mystery and restore your diamond before your husband arrives!"
"Well," Lady Dippingham began, "at seven o'clock I saw Matthias through my window. He was just an anonymous youth walking home from the mines, but I desired his company instantly, and let him know by gracefully dropping a symbolic green silk kerchief from my balcony, letting it catch the evening breeze in an understated gesture of fondness. But figuring such subtle symbolism might be beyond his grasp, I also wrote the words 'I NEED A RANDY POKE' on the kerchief to speed things up."
"My lady!" I exclaimed. "May I ask, wherever did you learn such an expression? The invention of Cinemax is nigh eighty years away!"
"Most people think a convent is a pious and restricting place, Mr. Watkins," she explained, "but in reality, we spent most of the day fingering each other, writing dirty limericks, and betting on professional wrestling."
"Please go on with your tale," Hoames urged.
"The boy came up, introduced himself as Matthias, and proceeded to strip me naked," Lady Dippingham continued. "Within moments, I felt his hot firebrand in my mouth, and I proceeded to denigrate myself in all sorts of terrible ways."
Hoames and I sat down in chairs simultaneously to conceal our predictable physical reactions to the woman's words. While handmade woolen slacks are ideal for solving dastardly mysteries on cool autumn days, they serve most poorly when attempting to hide male excitement of an elongatory nature.
"Matthias was here for several hours, and we spent each other entirely," Lady Dippingham told us. "In every conceivable position, everywhere in the room. He even tried to introduce my midget butler into the fray, and while I was admittedly enthralled by the suggestion, I felt that discretion forbade it."
"I see," Hoames mused. "Now tell me, by chance, did Matthias' performance ever wane during this time, even for a moment?"
"Well," Lady Dippingham said, "I'm afraid I may have overtaxed the sweet lad a bit. After his third exultant deposit of seed, I leapt upon him again a might too quickly, and his final erection of the evening was most wobbly and unstable....but only for a minute or two."
"Exactly as I suspected!" Hoames said. "Only for a minute or two....and then, perchance, did he see fit to turn you over and proceed with rear-entry relations for the duration?"
"Why yes!" the adulterer before us exclaimed. "And just moments after the culmination of a most enchanting boning, he was forced to spring up and leave me!"
"Indeed," said Hoames. "Lady Dippingham, you will be happy to know that I believe that not only was the Very Nice Gemstone not stolen, but that it is here with us in this very room even as we speak!"
"Why, Hoames," I protested, "I fear you must be mad!"
"Mad as a hatter, dear Watkins, but of this thing I am certain. You see, it was the revelation of Matthias' difficulty with momentary limpness that has made me believe he used the Very Nice Gemstone for its original purpose—to help maintain the male erection. But it was not his neck with which he adorned the amulet—it was...."
"His floppingpole!" Lady Dippingham finished for him. "Could it be?"
"The amulet is the ideal size and shape to use as what the disgustingly lurid Americans refer to as a Ring of Caring. I believe that your fair face, good Lady, was smooshed conveniently into your satin pillow when he removed the Gemstone from its case, unlatched the chain, and applied it to his javelin in order to remain as hard as you desired. And after his final sighs were complete, the resumption of his pizzler to its soft pre-arousal state caused the Gemstone to be loosed. When he leapt up to dart out of the room, it undoubtedly remained in its new sheath, Lady Dippingham—your once-virginal honeycup!"
She gasped for about the five thousandth time that afternoon. "You really suppose the Gemstone resides within my gentleglove?"
"I do!" said Hoames. "The only question that plagues us is, what is the most effective and pleasurable means to lance the amulet and bring it back to civilization?"
I don't have to tell you, dear Reader, that the solution which eventually entered Hoames' mind was most unprecedented. Just moments later, Lady Dippingham had slid her undergarments off in preparation to receive my colleague's maypole into her splendorgarden for the purposes of rescuing the Very Nice Gemstone from its current happy home. This was to be both a clever application of sound engineering principles and a most relaxing post-church diversion!
"Now, Lady Dippingham," Hoames informed our host, standing beside her bed and spreading her alabaster legs with chivalrous gentleness, "I assure you that this act of intercourse is strictly proffered as a means to an end, for the purposes of settling this unsavory issue and making sure a valuable totem is not lost. Please do not take my erection as inappropriate flattery or lewd enthusiasm; it is merely a biological reaction to certain innate male properties of the craniothalamus."
"I understand, Mr. Hoames," replied Lady Dippingham, lying on her back and reaching up to fondle what was to soon become her lilycavern's newest short-term tenant. "In return, kindly do not misperceive the rapidly escalating moisture within my blossombox as a sign of excitement and lust. It is hot, slippery, and eager only due to my sense of relief that your cunning mind has solved the case so quickly and efficiently!"