Birthday Challenge Winners

Birthday Challenge


Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse. This year’s assignment was to:birthdaychallenge1
Provide a story for an illustration by Laurie Fraser Manifold. The illustration featured numerous cleverly costumed felines in and around 221B (left).

Our winner was Sandy Kozinn, and the runner-up was Brad Keefauver. Honorable mentions went to Elaine Coppola, Terry Hunt, and Warren Randall.

Sandy Kozinn

It’s four o’clock on Baker Street and, though we cannot see
Into the kitchen, Mrs. Hudson’s there, she’s brewing CATnip tea.
At the window, Holmes regards the street while reading all the news.
(He’s already checked the back bedroom to see what’s in the MEWS.)

While Sherlock sits, he smokes his pipe. It helps him while he thinks.
He’s trying to fit the things he sees into a chain of LYNX.
A sailor, eyepatch on his PUSS, is muttering at his peg.
“Shiver me timbers, shiver ME – OW! I hate this missing leg!”

Watson comes home and enters the door, hungry as a TIGER.
He’s imagining what there’ll be for tea. A PAN THAt’s paté pie? Grrrrrr.
From the house next door a client comes. It’s Holmes she wants to see.
She has KITTENish ways, but her veil tells Holmes there’s also a mystery.

It turns out she’s a bit of a COUGAR, fooling around with the tar.
She’s lying about the pair of them, but it doesn’t get her far.
Yes, the lady is a CHEETAH, there is no doubt of that,
But the sailor’s far worse at LION. He wants money; he OCELOT.

Holmes calls in the policeman. He’s not CERVAL in the least,
He agrees the sailor has certainly acted like a beast,
Since blackmail is a vicious CATegory of crime.
Now on Baker Street they’re all FELINE fine. After all, it is tea time.

Brad Keefauver

The prisoner of 223B Baker Street attempted to toss one more letter onto the doorstep of neighboring 221.

And one more time he failed. The previous four were all in the bushes, but this one, this oh-so-risky fifth attempt had been blown onto the public sidewalk, that most dangerous spot of all.

His captor, who had left moments before in his constable’s uniform, would not be back for hours. The prisoner’s hopes lay with someone on this street finding the letter and kindly carrying it the few short paces it needed to get to the address on the envelope.

But the other clients seeking 221 were too furtive, too immersed in their own issues, to notice a stray envelope on the sidewalk. And the rest of the traffic on the street, the seamen looking for employ, the society matrons paying morning social calls, did not look promising to the prisoner’s plan.

If only he had faith in his own ability to land a leap from a second floor window. But he had been very ill after his experiences in the Afghan war. A Tazhi Spay bullet had set him on this path. His choice of using the personal ads instead of old Stamford’s help in finding a roommate had proven too unwise as well. So many ill-fated moments had brought him to this place. Now all he needed was one kindness of fate to get him out.

John H. Catson, M.D., looked down at the letter and waited.


Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse.

This year’s assignment: The course of true love doesn’t always run smooth in the Canon, but suppose a lovelorn character met his or her one true mate in a different Canonical tale? If Beryl Garcia wanted to marry a schoolmaster, would she have had better luck with, not Rodger Baskerville/Vandeleur/Stapleton, but Thorneycroft Huxtable? Could Douglas Maberley, instead of passion, violence, and death with Isadora Klein, have found happiness and excellent typewriting support for his novels with Mary Sutherland or Laura Lyons? We’re sure you can come up with your own imaginative couples. Your entry should not exceed 300 words and should not have appeared in print before.

The winner was Sandy Kozinn with:


Mary Sutherland fell in love with a fake,
Not thinking he wanted her money to take.
Her Angel was more of a devil, you see.
He left her with promises, ne’er to be free.

What if Mary, that night when she went to the ball,
Met a rising young plumber who offered to call?
He seemed like a fellow both suave and polite
And clearly had thoughts that were ever so bright.

“So you met a young man? Well, what can you tell?
Bad eyes? Damaged voice? Guess he’s not very well.
You’re an enterprising girl, and I do wonder why
You would take up with someone who seems very shy.

“Let me wine you and dine you and you’ll meet my friends.
I’ll make promises none, but we’ll see where this ends.”
He was good as his word. She met many young men.
She had offers of marriage, again and again.

Though her mother and stepfather ranted in rage,
Said friend: “Stick to your guns, move out of your cage.”
Mary’s married with children, but she’s never forgot,
That rising young plumber, whom she called Escott.

Our runners-up in random order are: Greg Darak, William Walsh, Elaine Coppola, and Warren Randall. Their entries appear below.

One pairing comes immediately to mind. Both of these people are in an unfortunate situation, possibly destined to spend the rest of their lives alone, but if they were to meet, who knows? Each of them is uniquely situated to be understanding of and sympathetic to the other one’s plight. I am writing, of course, about Baron Adelbert Gruner and Eugenia Ronder, the veiled lodger.

Besides their obvious parallel situations, there are other reasons for thinking they might get along. Holmes described Gruner as “a purring cat” (who thinks he sees prospective mice). Eugenia has much experience with large cats, taking care of Sahara King. The couple also have many things in common. At this point in their lives, both know what rejection is like—Eugenia by Leonardo, Adelbert by Violet de Merville. Both of them are passionate. Both of them are murderers. It seems like a marriage made in—well, no, probably not heaven, but still…

—Greg Darak

Seeking an escape, I turned to the Agony Column to address my need for strong, protective companionship. One response stood out, and we agreed to meet the following Saturday for a picnic among the ancient stones in Avebury.

Oh, on first sight, what a marvelous display of masculine strength.  He approached me, striding with confidence up the small hill. His broad shoulders and chiseled features drew everyone’s attention and his gigantic, bounding strides caused some to stagger in awe. Yet, an air of ominous foreboding clung to him, causing anxiety and a shadow of fear in most.

We recognized each other immediately, seemingly standing isolated from the various people walking along the stones. Though strangers, we rushed to each other and we greeted as if we were the closest of friends. Though mismatched in size, we immediately understood that we belonged to each other.

As we walked, he explained the horrors that he endured. He was bound in service to an appalling master who forced him to work in isolation for days while providing the barest of sustenance.  He confessed that the situation directly impacted his disposition and made him angry towards most people.

I relayed my own tale of woe. I told him of one whom I had worshipped like a master, but who had responded to that devotion with cruel treatment and abuse. I explained how he had returned my affection with poison, frequently leaving me paralyzed.

As the day neared its end, we decided that we would depart together, abandon our pasts, and establish new lives elsewhere.  With nothing to return to, we journeyed to Glastonbury. There, living in the shadow of the Tor, I was his Josephine (not Carlo, Dr. Watson), and he, who everyone simply called “The Hound,” was my Benjy.

—Will Walsh

Many women in the Canon are victims of dastardly deeds by men. One of the less commented on is Agatha, the housemaid from CHAS.

Agatha, probably forced to work for the despicable Milverton by poverty, sees rescue in the form of the plumber Escott. This successful young workman not only courts her but proposes to her. Sadly, Escott was really Holmes in disguise using her to find out about the house and to get the beastly dog locked up so that Holmes and Watson can burgle Lady Eva’s letters. How devastated Agatha must have been when Escott disappeared, never to return! When Watson expresses his dismay at Holmes’ deceit, Sherlock merely says that there is a “hated rival” ready to take his place. So who do I suggest as this rival who will step in and marry Agatha?

Given his essential goodness and concern for women, I believe Holmes set up this rival by seeing that Hall Pycroft from STOC met Agatha. They make an ideal couple. We know little of Agatha, but it is likely that she is a Cockney like Hall. We can deduce that she is talkative and accommodating from her help to Holmes—qualities that would attract the friendly Hall. Agatha would certainly find Hall appealing as he is described as “a well-built, fresh-complexioned young fellow” with a “round, ruddy face…naturally full of cheeriness” who has a good position at Mawson and Williams (I’m assuming they still take him on). Both having been deceived, they empathize with each other’s experience, and they have learned to be wary of unscrupulous people making generous offers—a quality that will be useful in their future together as freelance consultants to Scotland Yard on fraud!

—Elaine Coppola

There they were, sitting in the anteroom of a well-known agency in the West End. He was a handsome man, with a visage to be remembered by all who met him. She was rather plain, sitting, clasping and unclasping her hands, an act that seemingly demanded her full attention.

He leaned forward and whispered, “How did you do with Miss Stoper?   That office of hers is rather tight for me.”

She raised her chin and looked closely at him. Was he another villain? she wondered.

“She mentioned an opening for a couple near Dartmoor,” he went on. “But I am rather alone now!”

“I am quite alone as well.” The words now rushed out of her. “I think I lost my last position because I talked of things I shouldn’t have. I may not find another position.”

“That’s nothing,” he came back with a smile that cheered her immediately, “I was told that the trust which was reposed in me had been sullied. In any event, this old couple want to leave service; they think the new master will be having more company and will require a more vigorous staff. Miss Stoper told me that there seems to be no one interested in getting that close to the Grimpen Mire!”

She thought for a moment. “I would not mind being away from London for a bit. As long as things were proper-like.

“I am certain that the house would be large enough to provide suitable accommodations. Shall we put it to the lady? By the way, my name is Brunton.”

“No given name.” She gave a small laugh.

“Why are you laughing?”
“My name is Agatha, no surname.”

They both rose and walked to the office.  He said, “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship,” as the door closed.

—Warren Randall


Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at the BSI dinner and the Gaslight Gala and published in the last issue of the Muse.

This year’s assignment was: Many Sherlockians are also aficionados of Jane Austen, A.A. Milne, and/or P.G. Wodehouse. Rewrite a short excerpt from Dr. Watson’s writings in the style of one of these authors. Your entry should not exceed 300 words.

This year’s winner is S. Subramanian whose two submissions we found irresistible. He chose a text near and dear to Adventuresses’ hearts, the first paragraph of SCAN, to rewrite.


To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen; but, as a lover, he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer – excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.


Irene Adler was the only pebble on Sherlock Holmes’ beach. The pebble, he believed, was the mot juste for her – ‘mot juste’ being an expression invented by a silly ass named Flaubert who, as is often the case with these ghastly outsiders, spoke French instead of English. Far be it from me to suggest that he—Holmes, I mean, not the blighter Flaubert—suffered any symptoms of being smitten. He was a pretty cold fish when it came to things like love and what one might, in a general way, shove under the rubric—if that’s the word I want—of Romance and Sentiment. All brain and no heart, so to speak. Love was all very well as a clue to what might make a bozo tick, but it had no other interest for him. It clogged the mind, he believed, just as sand clogged the engine of the old two-seater. He viewed it as a treacly, cloying sherbet, the kind of awful mush that could make sane men lose their bally heads over girls who believed that stars were God’s daisy chain. A calculating bird, if ever there was one. Reminds me of one of those gags Jeeves is forever trotting out, about ‘a levelling, rancorous, rational sort of mind that never looked out of the eye of a saint or out of drunkard’s eye’. (That, Jeeves tells me, is by an Irish cove by the name of Yeats. Speaking of which, remind me to tell you sometime the story of those two Irishmen Pat and Mike.) Where was I? Oh, yes. Holmes and his poppet Irene Adler. He had no use for her as an Object of Desire, even if he had no doubt that that frightful young half-portion (now sadly deceased) was a Queen of her Species.


For Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler was always a Very Special Popsy. He wasn’t, of course, in Love With Her (or Anything Quite So Silly). He was too busy, you see, Thinking Rational Thoughts and Arriving at Logical Conclusions to have much time for such things as Love. When you come to think of it, he had a good deal more use for Stoutness Exercises than for Sentimental Romance. Love, for him, was a Waste of Time, except when it helped him to Infer Motives and Unearth Reasons and—er—those Sorts of Things, which had to do with Detection, or Deduction, or Matters Along Those Lines. When anyone mentioned Love to him, he would say “Oh, help!” or “Oh, bother!” or “Oh, help and bother!” He was sometimes given to Breaking Out Into Song, when he would hum a little verse, such as this one (set to a tune composed by a man with a Prodigistically Long and Protractory name, Pablo Martín Melitón de Sarasate y Navascués):

“Love can be a Pain in the Neck
When you’re attempting hard to think.
It’s a feeling that you should try and check
If you wish to swim instead of sink.
Tra-la, la-la, la-la, la-la!”

Sherlock was a Bear of Very Considerable Brain and No Heart At All. He had a Dim View of Women, being a Misogenius. Still — and though she was Quite Notorarious when she was alive — Sherlock always thought that Irene was the only Popsy that could come anywhere near a Dollop of Honey.


Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse distributed at the BSI dinner and the Gaslight Gala, as well as in the last issue of the Muse.

The assignment was: Write a sonnet about a Canonical case or character, in the style of Starrett’s “221B.”

This year’s winner was Jeff Bradway. Last year’s winner, Sandy Kozinn, was our runner-up, and an honorable mention goes to first-time entrant April Curnow.  Jeff will receive a $30 gift certificate to the bookstore of his choice.

Jeff’s entry:

Two Hundred Twenty-one Bees

Here dwells together still a swarm of note
Who never stung and so can ever fly:
Their drone is dream-like as o’er downs they float.
The Master studies them with practiced eye,
Just as he tracked in London all those years
Men like Moriarty and Merridew.
With bee book done, we hope completion nears
Of his Whole Art, a magnum opus true.

Their yellow nectar fills the honey-combs
As night descends upon this fabled hive:
O, joy of joys! To live near Sherlock Holmes
And help to keep his genius alive!
Though small, their power greater by degrees,
All hail! These two hundred twenty-one bees.

Sandy’s entry:


The world moves fast and faster every day.
The older ways of friendship have all changed.
We hasten here and there; we cannot stay.
The graciousness of time is disarranged.

In days long past two men could meet and share
And finally become the best of friends.
Then, time moved slowly. It takes time to care.

Now we move on before the moment ends.
The past is ours. By opening a book
And seeing there two men who lived aright,
If only for an hour, within our nook,
The present flickers into gas-lit night.

Though worlds have changed and that for which we strive,
Still, Holmes and Watson always are alive.


Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at the BSI dinner and the Gaslight Gala. This year we also published the Challenge in the Winter issue of the Muse.

The assignment was: The current BBC rendition of Sherlock Holmes catapults the Master and Watson into the 21st century and the world of modern technology. We ask you to step into your own time machine and go into the past—any time you like as long as it’s before 1600—and in 200 words or less (in prose, verse, or artwork), imagine Holmes solving crimes without the telegraph, the daily papers, trains, etc.

This year’s winner was Sandy Kozinn. Elaine Coppola and Judith Freeman tied as runners-up.  Sandy’s entry follows:


A Senator’s seat is not for him. He declines it with much thanks.
There’s too much crime unpunished yet along the Tiber’s banks,
And little time to search things out, and none to help him find.
For who in all this crowded town is equal to his mind?

It’s hard to smile and nod one’s head at a spotty pigeon’s liver,
When water coming from the lungs says “that man died in the river.”
Who’ll believe him? Just one physic, who shares a place to sleep,
And perhaps some boys, who carry news, and in the Forum keep
Their ears alert, to hear what’s said, and hear what is the talk.
The boys can run quite fast, at least, when dignity makes him walk.

Many there are who think he’s mad, for he only believes his eyes,
And also ears, and nose, and touch, and the thoughts of a mind that’s wise.
But what all say is true, as it’s always been true, he ignores as this city he roams.
Who is this man? He’s never died.  This man is – Sherlock Holmes.

Elaine also found ancient Rome appealing:


It was a wet dies lunae when Holmesius and I were interrupted in our Londinium townhouse by a messenger asking us to join Procurator Lestradius at the villa of Governor Quintus Pompeius Falco.

Upon arrival, we found Lestradius in the atrium near an injured soldier and a multitude of muddy footprints.  He immediately approached us, saying that the soldier was a messenger from Emperor Hadrian and entrusted with secret documents concerning security arrangements for Hadrian’s forthcoming visit to Britannia to inspect the wall. Upon his arrival at the villa, the soldier had been attacked and the documents stolen. It was imperative that the documents be retrieved before they were seen by rebels.

Holmesius carefully examined the site, leapt to his feet, and asked for all the servants to be gathered together. Once they were present, he examined the sandals of each and quickly singled out one Nicia, a gardener. Nicia confessed and led us to the peristylium where a dispatch bag was concealed in the shrubbery.

Lestradius expressed surprise and asked Holmesius how he had identified the culprit. Holmesius merely held up his codex, Upon the Distinction between the Various Types of Sandals and smiled.

Judith Freeman’s playlet took us back to very ancient times:

TIME: Circa 17,000 BCE

PLACE:  The Hall of Bulls, Lascaux Cave, near Montignac, France

Watson:  Holmes, what are you doing?

Holmes:  Creating art that future scientists will claim shows the perceptiveness of observation. Plus this charcoal will be able to be radiocarbon dated. In effect, I am leaving clues for the future.

Watson:  But, Holmes, you are a detective, not an artist.

Holmes:  “Some touch of the artist wells up within me and calls insistently.” (VALL)

Watson:  Several of the animals you’ve depicted I recognize, but what are those over there?

Holmes:  Ah, “I have been sluggish in mind and wanting in that mixture of imagination and reality which is the basis of my art.” (THOR) I’ll re-work them.

Watson:  What are those symbols at the bottom of the wall over there?  They look, I hesitate to say it, sexually suggestive.

Holmes:  “To the man who loves art for its own sake…it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.” (COPP)

Watson:  And all those odd geometric and enigmatic abstract designs?

Holmes:  Well, you know, “art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.” (GREE)


Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at the BSI dinner and the Gaslight Gala.

This year’s assignment: In his recent autobiography, Rolling Stone Keith Richards mentioned that at one point in his life he felt just like Sherlock Holmes—perhaps not surprisingly, if you know anything at all about Richards, as he was using cocaine at the time. In 200 words or fewer (in prose, verse, or artwork), assume the persona of a celebrity (living or dead) and explain why you are like Sherlock Holmes.

This year’s decision was particularly difficult, as our first and second place entries were both exceptional. The winner was Judith Freeman, with second place going to Elaine Coppola. Honorable mentions go to Pj Doyle and Warren Randall.

Judith’s winning entry:

Dear Muse Readers,

It goes without saying that, as an actor, I am naturally familiar with the creative art of disguise. As a matter of fact, there are those that refer to me as the “master of disguise.” Make-up is only one of the skills I used to augment my acting ability.

I have donned such diverse personas as royalty (Richard III) and thief (Raffles), sea captain (Ahab) and suitor (Don Juan). My subtle use of subterfuge was not limited to the stage. (When negotiating the purchase of a home in Beverly Hills, I found Mr. Hyde’s fiendish make-up and unpleasant personality quite the asset.)

To be successful at such endeavors, one must be able not only to “change one’s spots” but to get under the skin of the individual you are impersonating. This takes intelligence, as well as talent. By the way, the more intelligent and talented the individual to be impersonated, the more challenging the impersonation.

One of my finest performances was portraying the world’s most famous private consulting detective. I was not merely like Sherlock Holmes, I have been Sherlock Holmes.

Humbly yours,

John Barrymore

Editor’s Note: for more on Barrymore as Mr Hyde and other Hollywood tales, visit here.

Elaine Coppola went back a little further in history for her choice:

My name is Thomas Jefferson. You know me as the third President of the United States and the primary author of its Declaration of Independence. Courtesy of an amazing trip through time and space (a story for which the world is not yet prepared), I was introduced to Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. Now back at my home at Monticello, I often think about how I am so like Mr. Holmes.

First, there is my physical resemblance. I, too, am tall and lean. I often greet my guests in a dressing gown (mine is definitely blue). I have bouts of depression and, although I have not yet resorted to a seven percent solution, I do cultivate opium poppies. Some say I, like Mr. Holmes, possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome.

We share many of the same interests:

I have a keen interest in science, writing about my practical chemical experiments like “Report on the Methods for Obtaining Fresh Water from Salt” (the first document of a chemical nature to be published by the U.S. Government).

I keep bees.

I enjoy fishing.

However, I feel most like Mr. Sherlock Holmes when I play my violin—mine is an Amati.


Editor’s note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at the BSI dinner and the Baskerville Bash.

This year’s assignment:

In 200 words or less (in prose, verse, or artwork), tell everyone why they should subscribe to the Muse for our next one hundred issues. While the judges, like the Master, are not immune to flattery, we always appreciate wit and independence of thought.

Judging was very difficult this year as we received a number of outstanding entries. This year’s winner was Sarah Montague, ASH’s own answer to Virgil et al.

In Praise of the Muse

Sarah Montague

Arms and the Muse I sing
That brings
News of Sherlock to
The ears of Queens.
Other boroughs too may hear
Of villains dark and cases queer.

Had we but world enough and time
The Muse would not be Serpentine, but
Stretch to an infinity
To 21 and 2 and B.

But at our back we always hear
A literary hansom near,
Bringing puzzles, news, and threads
Of new-found clues in tales much read.

In its pages sweet and strong,
Adventuresses mill and throng
Canonical and circumspect
Or disorderly—but with respect.

Rolled into a Marvel-ous ball,
Memories past and present call;
Holmes and Watson sunder time
And speak of carbuncles and crime.
And though two centuries may pass,
The Muse, eternal, holds us fast.

So it is of the Muse I sing,
That brings us those Holmesian things
And into many mysteries delves,
But brings us most of all — ourselves.
A century that never ends:
A chapbook of Sherlockian friends.

Y U Shud Supskribe to the Muse
Warren Randall

Hear! Read together this Muse of note
Where Ev and all have kept the mem’ry green.
Four times a year; how much they wrote
That age before the world went to a screen
But still the Muse’s afoot for those with eyes
Attuned to catch the plain brown wrapper
Subscribe!  Subscribe!  Yes, for nothing dies
Only you can put it in the crapper.

A scratchy quill scrawls cross the yellow sheet
As author conjures up a wondrous tale
A lonely editor corrects iambic feet
And hopes the laser printer doesn’t fail
Here, though the words explode, the Muse is survivor
Thanks to you, the 100-issue plus Subscriber.


Pj Doyle

  1. No creatures of any kind are harmed during the writing of the Muse.
  2. Reading the Muse on a regular basis may stimulate the activity of one’s lumber room (if you don’t get this reference, you REALLY need to subscribe!)
  3. Subscribing to the Muse will NOT raise your taxes.
  4. The Muse contains no high fructose corn syrup.  (Neither does the Muse endorse artificial sweeteners, nor sugar coating anything.  However, plenty of natural sweetness abounds among the membership.)
  5. The Muse contains no trans-fats, intra-fats, etc.
  6. The Muse is totally non-caloric, but is virtually guaranteed to fuel your brain cells and incite thought.
  7. 9 out of 10 physicians guarantee that the Muse will not cause dermatological irritation.  If you are severely allergic to laughter and/or tears, you may be at risk.
  8. Every subscription to the Muse comes with dessert.  (We haven’t told our editors yet, so you may have to wait for them to work out the shipping/handling processes.)
  9. Because your complexion will clear, your checking account will balance, and there will be peace on earth.
  10. Because Holmes would want you to.


Editor’s note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at the BSI dinner and the Gaslight Gala.

This year’s assignment: 2009 will definitely be The Year of the Horse in Sherlockian circles with the running of the 50th annual Chicago Silver Blaze in conjunction with the BSI Triennial Silver Blaze. And in 2008 nineteen men joined ASH. Should ASH choose to expand further by including equine members, tell us in 200 words or less which Canonical steed would best exemplify the Adventuress spirit.

Interestingly enough, two contenders picked the same horse, but Sandy Kozinn won it in a nose with this sprightly rhyme:

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
But some are better than others:
Some plod along from day to day,
While some take after their mothers.

Some horses do as they’re trained to do
And follow along in a rut,
With a man whom they know, who knows their whims,
And knows what to tell them – But…

In London one day one single horse
Was asked to do something more.
When that muffled man climbed onto the seat,
He’d not driven a brougham before.

“We must save Sherlock Holmes,” that portly man said,
“His life is in danger, you see.”
His flippered hands knew reigns better than reins.
That was clear to the mare as could be.

“He needs Watson to travel along to the coast,
Then somewhere in Europe they’ll hide.”
The horse thought, “It’s my job to get Watson there,
To put him at Holmes’s side.”

To the Arcade she trotted, the station as well,
Then off with Mycroft she fled.
The horse told not a soul.  Though we don’t know her name,
We know that it wasn’t Miss Ed.

Thanks to our “runners-up” for their clever contributions.
Warren Randall got in “under the wire” with this one:

The challenge is to propose which Canonical steed, that is which spirited horse, would best exemplify the Adventuress spirit.  That spirit might be expressed by a favorite ASH motto Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo. (A drop carves the rock, not by force but by persistence.)  It seems but a small step from “persistence” to nag and a nag is a small saddle horse, a derivation said to be of Low German origin.  There are no Canonical saddle horses, but there is Lucy Ferrier’s mustang.  Let’s hear it for the little critter which stood up to a moving stream of fierce-eyed, long-horned bullocks.

Timothy Reich proved a formidable contender with his first Muse contribution. We hope to see him again soon.


(tune: “A Horse With No Name”)
Timothy Reich

On the second part of my journey,
I was looking at the Lowther Arcade.
There were vendors and children, and toys and things,
There was chaos that Saturday brings.
The first thing I met, was a horse and brougham,
A cloaked driver, with a heavy frame.
I boarded quick, like a thief on the lam,
And we bolted with a whip to her mane.

I raced through London behind a horse with no name,
It felt good to be well on my way.
To Holmes in our carriage of the train,
Where Moriarty’s men can cause no delay.

After two blocks, in the morning haze,
Our filly’s speed began to rise.
After three blocks, in the crowded maze,
I was peering for any spies.
I thought it unlikely they could keep up,
We thundered beyond mere gallop.                  (chorus)

After nine blocks, our horse felt the stress;
Our combined weight taking its toll.
We were close, to the Continental Express;
Waiting at Victoria Station as our goal.
The driver pulled her hard as we finished there,
And our filly responded like a seasoned mare.   (chorus)


Editors’ note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at both New York dinners and posted on the ASH website.

This year’s assignment: Write a Sherlockian haiku. Entries should follow the typical American 17-syllable, 3-line structure: five syllables in the first and third lines and seven syllables in the second. Only one haiku can win.

As expected, this Challenge was hard to judge. All the entries were interesting, probably because the form is so restricted. As contestant Brad Keefauver put it: “The haiku is like a little verbal callistenic for working the word-muscles in your head.”

For our one winner, we chose Warren Randall’s linkage of the steps of 221b and the haiku:

The stairs are averse
So I climb them in good form.
Five, Seven and Five!

Congratulations, Warren! Here are some more who shared in the fun (in no special order). Of haikus relating to particular stories, we liked Brad Keefauver’s enthusiastic “rap” version:

Dig Saxe-Coburg Square!
Beat the pavement with your stick!
It’s all hollow, man!

Dorothy Belle Pollack offered a mini-mystery:

Lachine and the tale
Of David and Bathsheba.
But what happened there?

And Jeff Bradway added a critical note:

Scarier than Hell,
The Hound of the Baskervilles:
Hard to show in film.

Michael Pollak worried about the landlady:

Is Mrs. Hudson
The sad reason for the lock
On the Tantalus?

Chrys Kegley considered Holmes’ image:

Sherlock wore a hat,
A funny two-brimmed cloth cap.
Thanks, Sidney Paget.

And Sandy Kozinn reflected on The Master’s skills:

Trouble comes in mist
Blurred like fog through a window.
Holmes can see clearly.

But Dana Richards admonished:

If it should strike you
I am over-confident
Whisper “Norbury.”

And Peter Crupe summed up the January Weekend:

Birthday greetings to
Master of 2-2-1-b,
Many more to come.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

2007 Birthday Challenge

Editors’ note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at both New York dinners and posted on the ASH website.

This year’s assignment was: One hundred years ago (i.e., during the years of 1906 and 1907) no new cases of Sherlock Holmes were published. In 200 words or less, tell us what the good doctor was doing then that prevented his regaling the reading public with more tales of the Master.

The winner of the 2007 Birthday Challenge is Laurie Fraser Manifold’s magnificent depiction of Watson’s experiences in the San Francisco earthquake and its aftermath. Runners-up (in no particular order) were Elaine and Jonathan McCafferty, Ann Margaret Lewis and Sandy Kozinn. Honorable mention also goes to Lelah Urban and Warren Randall. Well done, everyone!

2007 Birthday Winner


Elaine & Jonathan McCafferty

Following her husband’s appearance in the criminal courts, Mrs. Wilson had taken over the old canary training business – that is, bringing young beauties from the country to the cosmopolitan life of a courtesan. Mrs. Wilson’s young charmers gave pleasure to the mighty and gave mighty pleasure – in return for secrets. Those canaries talked. It was at Rules restaurant, London’s Mecca for the aristocratic gourmand, that the King fell for one of the canaries. With King Edward as a canary fancier, Mrs. Wilson dominated the market in monarchical indiscretions. Dr. Watson’s tact and discretion, allied to his medical training and knowledge of intimate personal diseases, made him Mycroft Holmes’ ideal candidate for assuring His Majesty’s continued good health. Unbeknown to the King, Mycroft discovered that the Kaiser had paid to listen to Mrs. Wilson’s canaries. Soon England’s secret defences would be in peril. Dr. Watson took the Head Waiter at Rules into his confidence. “If the King orders any tarts,” he said, “I want to inspect them first.” Thus began a fatal misunderstanding involving a naked woman, a stethoscope, and a Bakewell Pudding. Dr. Watson spent two years in the Tower before His Majesty could see the funny.


By Ann Margaret Lewis

Why did Dr. Watson publish no new cases between 1906 and 1907?  He was a very busy man, for it is then that he became — a daddy

As is evident in BLAN (1903), Dr. Watson is married. The intention of marriage, particularly at that time, was to have a family. Since Watson had “no kith nor kin in England,” he was probably favourable to the idea and, when he married, he married in love, accepting that joyful possibility.

By 1906 Watson had been married for three years, most likely to a younger wife. After learning she was “in a family way,” he was drawn into baby preparations by his nesting mate. Between painting and furnishing the nursery (formerly his study) and baby-proofing (pipes must remain on the mantelpiece or become teething toys!), he was so consumed with new fatherhood and his medical calls (a “busy medical man with calls…every hour,” MAZA, ca. 1903) that he had no time to think of his literary enterprise or his neglected friend Holmes, who wrote in LION (1907) that “Watson had almost passed beyond [his] ken.”

If there’s one thing that would truly be beyond Holmes’ ken, it’s fatherhood.

Give that man a cigar!


Sandy Kozinn

While Holmes tended bees not far from the surf,
Watson, from boredom, returned to the turf.
He saw Holmes but little, almost passed from his ken.1
Conversations were few twixt these once-friendly men.
Watson wrote up some cases and published some, too,
But the ones he remembered were only a few.
The notes for the rest were ensconced in a box
Which he placed in a bank which, he said, was named Cox.
Once Holmes watched his checkbook, but Watson was lax,
And his pounds trotted off. (Yes, these are the facts.
When the bank sent a bill, Watson’s shillings were few,
And he thought to pay later. He forgot. (Yes, it’s true!)
It took quite a long time to settle the matter
And even more time to assort all his data.
Without Holmes’s memory, his writing was slow,
Plus the first thing he wrote was quite long, as you know.2
His readers had over two long years to waitz
On account of a lost bill. Ah, well, such is fate!

1. LION, which takes place in 1909




Editors’ note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at both New York dinners and posted on the ASH website.

This year’s assignment was: Have you noticed how obsessed the media is with couples? Getting together, growing apart, murdering, manipulating, mangling, or marrying—whatever they do, you can bet that we’re going to be told all about it. What do you think today’s media would have to say about some of the couples in the Canon? Excluding couples that include Holmes, Watson and/or Irene, tell us your choice for Canonical Couple of the Year in a titillating modern-day news story of 200 words or less. (And yes, you can do it in rhyme. After all, it might make a good country and western song.)

Our winning entry is from new Muse contributor Jeffry Bradway. Our first runner-up was Warren Randall. Honorable mentions go to Don Izban and Karen Murdoch. Below you’ll find the winning entry and the first runner-up.

From the Devon County Chronicle, October 25, 1888


Dartmoor Couple Exposed!

Jeffry Bradway

GRIMPEN: This quiet moorland village is in shock at news that naturalist Jack Stapleton and Beryl, thought to be his sister, are none other than man and wife. This startling revelation was made by Sherlock Holmes, the well-known investigator, based on records of their marriage in York under the name of Vandeleur.

The couple came to Grimpen two years ago, making Merripit House their residence. Reasons for their deception have yet to be revealed. Stapleton has disappeared in the direction of Grimpen Mire, while his wife, suffering from ill-usage and exhaustion, is recuperating at home.

Sir Henry Baskerville, himself a recent addition to the Grimpen community, had been courting “Miss” Stapleton. Said to be in a state of total collapse, he is unavailable for comment. Dr. James Mortimer, his spokesman, said, “Stapleton has disappeared into the Grimpen Mire, which is just as well for all concerned.” Meanwhile, Baskerville’s housekeeper, Eliza Barrymore, has commented, “He ought to be treated like one of them butterflies he’s so fond of catching.” It is reported that Miss Laura Lyons, of Coombe Tracy, was courted by “Stapleton,” and has intimated that she will, at the first opportunity, begin proceedings against him for breach of promise.


Warren Randall

The Canon abounds with named couples galore.
For example, in Hound, you’ll find Barrymore.
And most of the others seem married for life.
Earmarked is Shlessinger. Was Fraser his wife?

Some of the others ended as splits:
Barclay and Vandeleur and the Hilton Cubitts.
But the Moultons and Luccas and the Jephro Rucastles
Kept it together in spite of their hassles.

So whom shall we chose for Canonical couple,
Honest or true or morally supple?
(Excluding the stars who cannot be seen:
Sherlock and John and lovely Irene.)

First, there’s the husband, he is old without vigor—
Sad to report his trigger lacks rigor—
While the missus, he thought, had empathy
For that chess-playing fellow with his M.D.

That was the story for police and the press.
Pathetic and broken, he must confess,
He was deceived by good friend and wife,
“Alas and alack, my money and life.”

No matter the couple lacked carnal intent,
Their fate was sealed in any event.
Since Josiah for his deed-box was zealous,
He was just greedy, no need to be jealous.

I know there’s a style I really would like
From a strange, languid fellow, Mr. L. Pike,
Who could add titillation for a modern news story,
For my Birthday Challenge! Victory! Glory!



Editor’s note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at both New York dinners and posted on the ASH website.

This year’s assignment: Broadway musicals are often adaptations of well-known tales: Sharespeare’s Romeo and Juliet became West Side Story, and Taming of the Shrew morphed into Kiss Me Kate; Damon Runyon’s characters populated Guys and Dolls, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion became My Fair Lady, and The Sound of MusicChicago, and The King and I were based on true stories. In 250 words or less, tell us which Sherlock Holmes story you think would make a good musical and describe (with titles and cast) several of the hit songs you envision people humming as they leave the theater. (You’re welcome to provide a few verses but, alas, entries over 250 words will be disqualified.)

Our winning entry is 
Laurie Fraser Manifold, whose entry combined the verbal and the visual. Warren Randall was our first runner-up, and honorable mentions went to Don Izban and Sandy Kozinn. We’re pleased to offer these four entries for your enjoyment.


Laurie Fraser Manifold

The faux Hirschfield illustrates the new Broadway musical “Good Night, Irene—Bohemian Scandals,” starring our own Elyse Locurto as Irene Adler, Paul Singleton as Sherlock Holmes, and Kevin Spacey as the King of Bohemia. Some of the hummable hit songs are: “The Incorrigible Mary Jane,” “(I Am Lost without) my Boswell,” “I Don’t Give a Damn for Count Von Kramm,” and “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire.”


Warren Randall

“A Blazing Day at the Races” is the Marx Brothers’ follow-up to their incomparable “A Night at the Adler’s.” Groucho, as Sherlock Z. Holmes, a con(sulting) man, passes himself off as a keen finder of lost horses. He has been summoned by wealthy horse lover, Col. Betsy Ross (RET – WAF) (Margaret Dumont) to find her Clydesdale, Silver Blaze, that went missing after an all-nighter at the local pub. Holmes, after successfully finding the horse that stands 17 steps at the shoulder, disguises him as a Shetland filly and secretly puts him into the traces at the races. Silver Blaze easily wins the brewery wagon Drag Race. The performance ends with the grand ball featuring “The Dynamics of a Chandelier Waltz.”

Other memorable parts of the score include the toe-tapping love duet “There’s a Kernel in my Colonel,” sung as soliloquies in Acts 1 and 2 by Holmes and Ross, while Chico brings a tear to the eye with Dr. Watson’s plaint, “I Missed My Ex in Exeter.” In a brilliant bit of barroom buffoonery, Ross mangles Harpo, as the Dog, signing “I Did Nothing in the Nighttime,” and has the entire audience silently cheering as it files out to the bar.

Abe Slaney’s male chorus line from Chicago is a bit stiff, but the Galop that ends the third act is excellent, given what he has to work with. It will be a long time before we see a show like this again.


Donald B. Izban

In 1940, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote one of their brightest musicals, Pal Joey. The show starred such luminaries as Gene Kelly, June Havoc, and Van Johnson; it was produced and directed by the talented George Abbott; and one of its featured songs was “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”

Pal Joey is about a so-so Chicago hoofer who tries and fails in attempting to be a top dancer and nightclub owner; he also is a “flop” at love. It’s an interesting yarn, but…

Sherlockians could create a better play—produced by Maribeau Briggs, titledPal Johnny (acronym: PEEJAY, to save in the contest word count) and based on all of the “Sacred Writings.” It would be a story of a struggling doctor (John H. Watson), trying to make a living in medicine while foolishly palling around almost full-time with a nameless (for now) companion who fancies himself to be a “consulting detective.” In PEEJAY, Baskerville Bash alumni are cast in these roles:

Allan Devitt—Watson

Chuck Kovacic—the “consulting detective”
Elyse Locurto—Mrs. Hudson

Next, the story line is somewhat rewritten to allow for an ill-fated dalliance between Watson and Hudson (surely a possible, if not probable, Canonical romance).

For the finale, as the curtain descends, Ms. Locurto rhapsodically paraphrases and parodizes (sic) Hart’s lyrics to”Bewitched” with:

Wise at last,

My eyes at last

Are cutting down John

To his size at last.

Realistic, ballistic, and sadistic am I.

Positively socko!


Sandy Kozinn

Shadow pantomime: Countess’s room. Theft and discovery.

John Horner: My Mammy done tole me, “Straighten up now and fly right!” But now the cops say I took her gem away.  I got blues in the night….


221B Baker Street

Holmes:  My idea of a Merry Little Christmas

Is a hat, a goose and clues…..

Watson and Holmes sing about case as:


Shadow pantomime:Scene of Baker being accosted and dropping goose

Peterson shows stone, leaves with ads.  Baker enters: I’m …glad you found my old hat, Glad to have a new goose, I’ll tell you all I can….


Alpha Inn:It’s quarter to two, no one in the place but Watson and you, So landlord, the geese, tell me where you got ’em, landlord speak true.

Holmes learns about geese in duet.


Covent Garden

Breckinridge: Who will buy my beautiful poultry? Who will buy my beautiful geese? None today, but plenty tomorrow, Eat ’em up, then cook with the grease….

Holmes and Watson join in and learn provenance of geese.


Shadow pantomime: Mrs. Oakshott’s

James Ryder (Bill Bailey): Stole the gem and now I roam, Took it to my sister’s home, Lost it in the wrong goose, All my trouble was just no use….


Holmes: Hate to see a shrimpy man gone wrong (repeat),
But when I figured right, just burst out in song.
I’ll let Ryder go, Don’t think he’ll ever sin (repeat),
Now sit yourself down, Watson, Let’s eat a woodcock hen.

Shadow pantomime: Countess’ room. Theft and discovery.

John Horner: My Mammy done tole me, “Straighten up now and fly right!” But now the cops say I took her gem away.  I got blues in the night….

221B Baker Street: Watson and Holmes sing about case.

Holmes:  My idea of a Merry Little Christmas
Is a hat, a goose and clues…

Shadow pantomime: at the same time, scene of Baker being accosted and dropping goose. Peterson shows stone, leaves with ads. Baker enters:

I’m glad you found my old hat,
Glad to have a new goose,
I’ll tell you all I can….

Alpha Inn: Holmes learns about geese in duet

It’s quarter to two, no one in the place but Watson and you,
So landlord, the geese, tell me where you got ’em,
landlord speak true.

Covent Garden: Holmes and Watson learn provenance of geese.

Breckinridge: Who will buy my beautiful poultry?
Who will buy my beautiful geese?
None today, but plenty tomorrow,
Eat ’em up, then cook with the grease…

Shadow pantomime: Mrs. Oakshott’s

James Ryder (Bill Bailey):
Stole the gem and now I roam,
Took it to my sister’s home,
Lost it in the wrong goose,
All my trouble was just no use…


Holmes: Hate to see a shrimpy man gone wrong (repeat),
But when I figured right, just burst out in song.
I’ll let Ryder go, Don’t think he’ll ever sin (repeat),
Now sit yourself down, Watson, Let’s eat a woodcock hen.



Editors’ note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at both New York dinners and posted on the ASH website.
This year’s assignment: Sherlock Holmes is now 150 years old. During his lifetime, he has both seen and observed a great deal about the world. Tell us, in Holmes’ own words, what he has observed about women in recent years and the deductions he has made from his observations. Since the Master has always been concise and direct, you should not require over 250 words to express his opinion.

Our winning entry was Trish Pearlman’s with Sandy Kozinn and Laurie Fraser Manifold as our runners-up.

Interview With The Master
Trish Pearlman

My observations regarding contemporary ladies—pardon me—women fall into two categories, the physical and the sociological. The physical changes are, of course, dramatic. Mrs. Bloomer would be pleased. The outlandish range of fashions, with skirts at all lengths from ankle to, pardon me, bum. Piercings appear in places that savages never thought of. They have tattoos, of all things! Short hair, blue hair, hair. All of this is, of course, but a reflection of sociological change. The same categories of womanhood still exist, but in different proportions. The working woman is everywhere. Many more occupations are available to a respectable lady—I mean woman. A woman may be your physician and request that you drop your drawers and cough! A woman was even Prime Minister. And conducted a war! Of course, it wasn’t a large war, but still…. Women have a broad range of reactions to traditional feminine privileges. Some insist on retaining all of them and others, at the far end of a broad spectrum, will give you a right dressing down for merely opening a door. Nearly all of the women defend their right to control their own lives like tigresses. I do admire an independent woman!
As to my deductions—obviously the suffragists have triumphed! Women today paddle their own canoes—er—drive their own BMWs. How Mrs. Norton would have loved to see it artist's rendition

An Artist’s Rendition
Laurie Fraser Manifold

Laurie wrote us:

My problem with the assignment was my fear that Holmes, while perfectly capable of observing women, has never been able to get past surface observation. He doubtless still categorizes and generalizes, and since he is getting up there in years, he’s probably crotchety about any small advances women have been able to make. (I wonder what he thinks about female detectives?) Any admiration he’s ever shown has been tinged with either a patronizing air or with a certain amount of surprised beMusement. At any rate, I decided that he looks back on the past century of woman’s progress in terms of the vagaries of fashion. Unfortunately, I was not able to put it into words, so I drew it instead.

On His 150th Birthday,
Sherlock Holmes Talks about Women

Sandy Kozinn

They’re never to be trusted, not the best.
I stand by that…Though there were just a few,
Those who alone exceeded all the rest.
There were some, Watson, one or two we knew…
“Miss Stoner—surely she was stout of heart?
Our Mrs. Hudson, true and loyal friend.

Miss Hunter, too, a woman brave and smart…
Yes, there were some whose reason did not bend.

“There was another, clever, kind, and fair:
Miss Irene Adler, talented, so slim…
She beat me, Watson, beat me fair and square…
I wonder what she ever saw in him.

You know of women. I’m still mystified.”
He sits alone. There’s no one by his side.



Editors’ note: Each year we provide an essay topic in a special birthday edition of the Muse which is distributed at both New York dinners and posted on the ASH website.
This year’s assignment: From seemingly ordinary objects such as a hat or pipe, Holmes frequently drew elaborate conclusions about the owner—conclusions which were always correct! Assume that you’ve found a left-handed gray leather glove with a stained thumb and first finger on the sixth step at 221B Baker Street. Give us your conclusions about the glove and its owner and the reasons for them in 250 words or less.
Our winning entry was Warren Randall’s with Sandy Kozinn, Trish Pearlman, and Sue Vizoskie as our three runners-up. Honorable mentions go to (alphabetically): Judith Freeman, Brad Keefauver, Laurie Fraser Manifold, and Regina Stinson.

A Case of “Glove in Bloom”
Warren Randall

“So, Watson, while you still prefer the fair sex, you will accept the offer made by Messrs. Newnes and Smith even though you think it preposterous?”
“Most preposterous!” I exclaimed, and then suddenly realizing how he had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in my chair and stared at him in blank amazement. “You’re doing your mind-reading shtick again, right?”
“Not at all,” he said affably, “you have not lately written even so much as a letter, and I know you would not extend your experience of women to Baker Street.”
“My blushes, Holmes, whatever are you thinking?”
“Blushes, my dear Watson? There was a glove upon the sixth step of the seventeen and it was a left glove.”
“Left? Is that unusual?”
“I have seen this symptom before – a bare left hand at such a low step presages an affaire de cœur Who would call at Baker Street leaving a glove, but neither card nor message? Not a client! Mrs. Hudson’s callers do not climb. Ergo! Someone for good old Watson. It is not brown or tan or black or yellow—not one of your chums. Grey, with a stained thumb and forefinger. Where have we seen its mate? Why upon the right hand of the noted typewriter, Mary Sutherland. We are both upset with the editing of your literary agent, who substitutes his imagination for your poor penmanship, hence the need not for professional companionship, but professional transcription.”
“Yes, Holmes,” I hastened to agree, “Miss Sutherland is quite forgetful.”
“You are fortunate it was not a white glove, for that would require a rebuke and perhaps a constable.”

The Evidence of the Glove
Sandy Kozinn

“What do you make of this glove, Watson? I found it on the sixth step of our stairs.”
“It’s stained on the thumb and left forefinger. Probably dropped by one of your clients.”
“This glove cannot belong to a client. You returned from your rounds just before the rain started. You were writing at your desk, your slippers on, your boots off, your leg upon a footstool. I left, and saw no glove below. The boots are still dry, so you have not gone out, yet you spoke of no client.”
“Well, I don’t know how the glove got there, Holmes. It’s all nonsense, anyhow.”
“These gloves, Watson, belong to a physician, no stranger to this house, in haste this morning, who has difficulty walking stairs.”
“Nonsense, Holmes, how could you possibly know that?”
“A stranger would missed his glove when he left. One whiff tells me that the stains are iodoform. A doctor who doesn’t remove his gloves to replace the iodoform bottle in his bag is in a hurry indeed.”
“Oh well, it seems so simple when you point it out, Holmes. But the difficulty with the stairs? Bosh, Holmes!”
“The only physician familiar with this house has a sore leg. Surely steps are difficult. The glove is yours, Watson!”
“But I put my glove in my pocket when I stopped on the stairs. Unless one….”
“Elementary, my dear Watson!”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Cut! Print! Nice work, Mr. Rathbone, Mr. Bruce! Eight o’clock tomorrow for the fog scene, please.”

The Adventure of the First Stain
Trish Pearlman

There was a mysterious maiden
Who came with rich chocolates laden
To two-two-one B—
T’was a tribute, you see.
As she came near, her courage was fadin’.

Still, she knocked and Billy the page
Answered quickly, or so she did gauge.
The beribboned treat
That she carried smelled sweet
She was moving quite slow at this stage.

By the third step, she started to weaken,
Said to Billy, “Let’s just take a peek in…”
So they opened the package,
Took a look at the snackage,
Of its own will, her left hand did sneak in.

Between them, they ate the box bare,
Seated comfortably on the sixth stair.
So embarrassed was she,
Dropped her glove and did flee.
Billy thought he had best not be there.

Observations and deductions that led me to this scenario:
The glove was a lady’s glove, dove gray and quite costly. The stains upon index finger and thumb were chocolate — Guatemalan dark, to be precise. There was also a hint of hazelnut praline, such as is found in chocolate assortments. The lady had been acting on impulse or she would have removed her glove before eating. Since Billy must have admitted her to the house, he clearly had a powerful inducement to conceal this fact. I suspect a mixture of chivalry and bribery. She must have intended to present the candies to Mr. Holmes or Dr. Watson and departed in chagrin once they had been prematurely consumed.

Mrs. Hudson and Her Stained Gray Glove
Sue Vizoskie

The left-handed gray leather glove with a stained thumb and first finger belong unmistakably to Mrs. Hudson. Dressed for her afternoon errands and wearing her gray feathered hat and gray kid leather gloves, she remembered that she needed to speak to Mr. Holmes. So, before leaving, she climbed the stairs, grasping the banister in her regular, irregular manner – that is, gliding the thumb and first finger of her left hand along the opposite edges of the banister to be certain that the maid had dusted both sides properly. As she reached the sixth step, Mrs. Hudson realized that a sticky substance was impeding her hand’s smooth progress. Mrs. Hudson stopped dead in her tracks, removed the affected glove and inspected it carefully. In six short steps, the pristine glove had acquired brown stains on thumb and first finger. She cautiously sniffed the stains. She didn’t require the services of a consulting detective to identify the stain: it was boot polish, not furniture polish. The new maid had blundered. Here was a serious case of mis-identity.

Mrs. Hudson turned slowly, accidentally dropping the offending glove on the step. She descended, her hat feathers gracefully waving—some might say oscillating—from side to side as she shook her head. Errands forgotten and heading toward the kitchen to find the maid, Mrs. Hudson realized that she had just stained her right glove. The afternoon had now become the mis-adventure of the second stain.



Editors’ note: Each year the Muse editors prepare a special edition to include in the packets at the BSI dinner and the Baskerville Bash. In it, we thank our contributors for their efforts and challenge our subscribers to enter an essay competition.
This year’s assignment:
Much has been said and written lately about “evil.” Evil, of course, abounds in the Canon:
Moriarty, Moran, Milverton — just to name a few Men.
In 200 words or less, name the most evil Woman in the Canon and give your reasons for your choice.

Muse readers are always original thinkers, but we were startled by some of the responses and we think you will be, too. Certainly this was our most successful competition to date in terms of both numbers and originality of entries.

After much deliberation, we awarded the prize (a $30 gift certificate for the book store of her choice) to Laurie Fraser Manifold. Runners-up (in alphabetical order) were Sandy Kozinn (last year’s winner), Warren Randall, and Barbara Roden. Honorable mentions go to Don Izban, Dayna McCausland, Julie McKuras and Sue Vizoskie.

And now, here are the winning and runner-up entries for your enjoyment.

The Most Evil Woman in the Canon
A Poem (with footnote)
Laurie Fraser Manifold

Who might be the woman
With Evil so hearty
Her evil out-eviled
Even Old Moriarty?
It certainly can’t be
That fair operatic genie
Whom Holmes called The Woman
And we call Irene.
Nor Flora Millar
(Since she’s just out to brunch)
And none of the Violets
For they’re a sweet bunch.
Nor is it poor Beryl
Who lived out a lie,
Nor it is sad Kitty
Who loved a bad guy.
And not Lady Carfax
Or Nihilist Anna,
Nor Effie Munro
Who had lived near Savannah.1
Nor Miss Sarah Cushing
(Tho’ she was a case)
Nor fair widow Klein
Of the loveliest face.
The Grand Prize in Evil
Has no share in blame
With any adventuress
We know by name.
Holmes found her so lovely
And quite full of charm,
But she had no conscience,
Instead doing harm.
She shall be anonymous
In nameless endurance.
She poisoned her children
To get their insurance.

1. Apologies to Georgians: Admittedly, Savannah and Atlanta are not near at all, yet they are closer to each other than they are to Baker Street.

What are the characteristics of the most evil woman in the Canon?
Sandy Kozinn

She acts vilely to her own father.
She is inflexible in her behavior.
She is obdurate in her views.
She is loath to listen to others.
She is egocentric in her concerns.
She is trusting of the wrong person.
She is determined to have her own way.
She is educated, but not contemplative.
She is maddening at times.
She is extravagant in her emotions.
She is rational, but not reasonable.
She is very single minded.
She is intelligent, but not sensitive.
She is loving only in the wrong direction.
She is lacking the ability to sense hypocrisy.
She is extraordinarily unaware of character.

Good reasons, perhaps, but not definitive. Nevertheless, we know this is the most evil woman in the Canon because Watson, in choosing a name to disguise the real woman in the story, told us so.

The letters of the name of the most evil woman form an anagram for the words of an introduction: Evil, meet evil Lord.

And Baron Gruner bowed to Violet de Merville.

Warren Randall

Here live forever those wicked ones
Who always schemed and made men cry
How very dear they seem, to mother’s sons
The time before they made men sigh.
But still the game’s afoot for these little dears
Attuned to catch the unwary innocent
Sherlock is Sherlock yet, through all the years
To straighten up any who are criminally bent.
A red lamp glows above these ladies’ acts
It matters not if she has done a crime.
A lonely Sherlock splashes after facts
So many women, so little time.
Here, though all are equal, One is great
And She is always wicked, Evil Incarnate.
“You have seen me as an old lady, Watson,” said Holmes describing one of his escapades, while Billy, the page, reported Holmes went out as an old woman who “fairly took me in, he did.” There is no report on whether suitable undergarments were worn; that makes these little transvestite jaunts even more morally wrong, immoral and wicked.
As these last terms define evil, Mr. Holmes is the most evil woman in the Canon, since every single female considered for this honor had a good and sufficient reason for her action.
Detailed explanations supplied upon request.

The Most Evil Woman in the Canon
Barbara Roden

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “evil” as “1) morally bad; wicked; 2) harmful or tending to harm, esp. intentionally.”
Leaving aside 1, with its overtones of judgment and looking at the second definition, I have no hesitation in saying that Mrs. Sutherland — mother of Mary, the unfortunate fiancée in IDEN — is the most evil woman in the Canon. Unlike other women in the Holmes adventures, who act under duress (cf. Beryl Stapleton, Mrs. Rucastle), Mrs. Sutherland is an active (“Mother was all in his favour from the first”), enthusiastic (“[she] was even fonder of him than I was”), and determined (“Mother said he was quite right to make me swear”) participant in the deliberate deception played on her own daughter. Where most women would expect to find loving guidance and sympathy, Mary unknowingly finds guile, deception, and cold-blooded cruelty, carried out in order to defraud Mary of an income which would disappear out of her parents’ grasp upon her marriage. That this deception is apparently intended to extend over a period of several years, causing Mary untold anguish and distress, further emphasizes the evil nature of the monstrous Mrs. Sutherland.



Editor’s note: Each year we provide attendees of the BSI dinner and the Baskerville Bash with a “special edition” of the Muse which recaps the year’s events and challenges readers with a competition.

This year’s assignment was: In SCAN, Holmes says: “When a woman thinks that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values most.” We would point out that this statement is equally true for the male of the species. In 200 words or less, if 221B Baker Street were on fire, what one item would Holmes and Mrs. Hudson each rush for and why?

As always, it was difficult to pick a winner from many clever entries. Certainly the Stradivarius was first choice for Holmes among the entrants. However, our winner, Sandy Kozinn, took an imaginative and humanistic approach to the problem in the following sonnet:

What Would Holmes and Mrs. Hudson Do
if 221 Baker Street Were on Fire?

Sandy Kozinn

What do they take, these two, when there’s a fire?
What is worth most? And yet they cannot tarry
As leaping up, the flames burn ever higher.
Of all, what few might Holmes or Hudson carry?
For him: the books, the papers, all his cases,
The records of his life, his quest, his work.
But which? The memory of a thousand faces
Makes choosing one a task from which he’d shirk.
For her, perhaps, the answer’s not so hard:
The history of her art, to which she clings.
But cooking’s in the heart, not on a card.
She runs to Holmes. “Leave now! They’re only things.”
Each thinks of great loss should there be great harm.
Each saves the other. They leave, arm in arm.

Our first runner-up was Sue Vizoskie, who wrote:

A Violin and a Beeton’s
Sue Vizoskie

If fire threatened 221, Holmes would rush for his Stradivarius. All else could be replaced; he could even reconstruct his commonplace books, although it would be a laborious task, indeed. But his Stradivarius, ahhh, how could he ever replace such a unique work of art? Playing it soothed and distracted Holmes when London’s dullness oppressed his spirit. And, when the solution to a case was elusive, he played the Stradivarius as his ultimate method to focus. Could Holmes survive without his Stradivarius?

Mrs. Hudson, however, would rush for her Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Certainly she could purchase a new copy, but it wouldn’t have her personal notes, handwritten in the margins throughout her years of housekeeping. How had she shined the bear’s teeth and fluffed the bearskin rug? What was the best method to remove chemical residue from wallpaper? How had she cleaned the Wigmore Street mud from those 17 steps? Which was Watson’s favorite curried chicken? Wherever Mrs. Hudson resumed housekeeping, if Holmes and Watson were her tenants, she’d face the same challenging tasks again.

And, if Mrs. Hudson had her Beeton’s and Holmes had his Stradivarius, they’d both be back in business!

The second runner-up is a newcomer to the Muse and a new subscriber. We’re delighted to welcome Laurie Fraser Manifold to our pages with the following entry:

A Birthday Challenge Assignment
(as told by J.H Watson, M.D.)
Laurie Fraser Manifold

I had been quite busy establishing my practice since my marriage, but I was eager to query Holmes as to a certain matter. So imagine my concern when, upon strolling to my erstwhile lodging through October evening fog, I was greeted by a hellish glow and fire bells’ din upon reaching Baker Street. At the outskirts of the gawking crowd was young Wiggins.
“Cor, blimey, sir! Hit’s the guvnor’s house, t’is!”
Dreadful possibilities raced through my brain. Could this be the work of Moriarty?
Imagine my grateful relief when I observed, amongst the fire brigade lads’ helmets, the noble head of my friend.
Smoke and flame mingled with the fog, but Holmes was safe! So, too, Mrs. Hudson, her maid, and Billy the page.
“Why Holmes, I’m pleased to see you unsinged.”
“Yes, Watson, I’m well, despite the inconvenience. I escaped with the dressing gown on my back & my violin. My pipes, alas, are gone.”
“The rest of the household evacuated successfully?”
“We nearly lost Mrs. Hudson. The silly woman returned to retrieve a cabinet photograph of her late husband!”



Each year, the editors of the Muse prepare a commemorative special edition for distribution at the BSI dinner and the Baskerville Bash. The issue recognizes the past year’s contributors to the Muse. It also includes an essay competition.

This year’s assignment, suggested by Linda Spessotti, was to “write an uncharacteristic, corrupt, non-Watsonian, reprehensible (i.e. bad) opening to a Sherlock Holmes case.”

The responses were numerous and came from many countries. All were truly and delightfully awful. However, one entry was especially appalling. The winner of the 2000 Birthday Competition is Sandy Kozinn. She will receive a $30 gift certificate from the bookstore of her choice for her efforts. The first runner-up was Warren Randall, and the second runner-up was John Russo.

Here are all three entries, as well as Sandy’s cover letter – a rather remarkable work in its own right.

My dear Ms. Diamond,

It has recently come to my attention that your fine literary magazine, “The Serpentine Muse, “is seeking assistance from those who may have unpublished work from the hand of John H. Watson, MD.”

While I have no such completed work available to assist you in your project, I have recently come across certain fragments, which appear to be the uncompleted beginning of a story by Dr. Watson. These fragments were found among the papers of the late Dolly C. Arthur, Emerita Professor of Late 19th and Early 20th Century Popular Fiction and holder of the Moriarty Chair of Creative Writing.

Professor Arthur’s handwriting became difficult to read as she aged, but those of us assisting in organizing her papers believe that the post-it note stuck to the pile of clipped-together papers reads something like “The Adventure of the Lost (or Last?) Manuscript.”

I enclose a copy of the transcribed papers for submission to your project.

Very truly yours, Sandy Kozinn


It was a dark and stormy night, the wind sobbing in the chimney like a hound baying at the moor.
…yes, he said, yes, I’ve found the test, yes, he said, yes, the test, the test for human blood, he said, yes, for human blood….
I limped across the room, cursing my hip. Bullet wounds are easy to remember. “Cut the cackle, Holmes,” I sneered, “and take a glom at the Mirror’s Agony Column.”
“Hark, a client! On the 19th stair!”
“What a pain,” remarked Holmes, opening the battered wooden case and sniffing up some nose candy. “Guess I’ll need something to stay alert.”
A man entered. The man sat. “My name is Ernest. Ernest is a fine name. Ernest was my father’s name. Ernest was my grandfather’s name. It had much honor. Now it may be soiled. I need your help.”
“The facts, sir,” Holmes snarled, “just the facts.”

by Warren Randall

To Sherlock Holmes, he was always The Woman. I have seldom heard him mention him under any other name. In his Commonplace books, his clippings eclipse all others. It is not that he felt anything akin to emotion for Irving Adler. As all emotions, and love particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind, Irving was a problem waiting to happen.
The case began on May night in ‘94 as we sat huddled by the sea coal fire. I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us away from each other, but I stopped by anyway.
Holmes began to read his new monograph of the evening to me, Needles and Pins: The Art of the Lapel. As I suggested, “Get a life,” there came a rap-rap-rapping on our solid British oaken door.
“Come in,” we both called, after the door flung open.

by John Russo

I sat down to join my friend and companion, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, at the breakfast table. Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, was clearing away a trayful of remnants of what Holmes had already devoured. She spoke in her typically cheerful voice as she greeted me and assessed what she had just brought in for our meal.
“Mornin’ Doc! You have a ways to go to catch up with your friend here. He’s already eaten two stacks of pancakes and a pound and a half of bacon. I’ve just brought up another stack and a slew of bangers as well!”
Holmes spoke up, “Morning, Johnnie! Sorry, but I’ve already cleaned Mrs. Hudson out of bacon, and I think I could still eat a horse! I wonder where Silver Blaze is right now.”
We all laughed and laughed right up to lunch.



Editor’s note: This year’s commemorative Muse Special Edition” given out at the Birthday dinners asked readers to write (in 200 words or less) about the Canonical Mary who most or least exemplified the Adventuress spirit. We’re pleased to present the winning entry from Susan Vizoskie and the runner-up from David R. McCallister. This is a “two-peat” for Susan, our last year’s winner.

MARY MABERLEY: An Adventuress She’s Not!

by Susan Vizoskie

Of all the “Mary”s in the Canon, Mary Maberley least exemplifies the Adventuress spirit. I sense you disagree; after all, she did consult Sherlock Holmes. But, since her husband had consulted him previously, she does not earn Adventuress points for intelligence or initiative. In truth, by ignoring Holmes’ advice to have someone stay with her for protection, she proved her stupidity and foolishness and put herself and her maid in jeopardy!

Mary’s most serious deficiency is her lack of human emotion. What happened to mourning for her son? Victorians perfected mourning, and Douglas had died a mere month before! Mary expresses little interest in her son throughout the story. She appears to be very cold, and that is the antithesis of an Adventuress. Adventuresses care about people, their friends, their families, even their enemies; they may be in control of their emotions, but they do experience and express them.

Only in expressing interest in traveling does Mary Maberley exhibit any trait akin to an Adventuress. We can only hope that in satisfying her desire to travel (enabled by the £5,000 from Isadora Klein), Mary Maberley becomes more human and more like an Adventuress.


 by David R. McCallister

The question of “Adventuress spirit” begs definition. Subdivided into broad categories of intellectual, physical, and sophistication levels attained, we may achieve an objective sense of the epitome and nadir among the sample of “Mary”s.

The presentation in a compact form requires a graphic format, with (+) positive for that feature, (0) neutral, and negative, on a biased and subjective basis.

Brackenstall + + +
Cushing 0 +
Holder +
Morstan + + 0
Sutherland + 0


Mary Cushing was a victim though inattention; Mary Holder made an unwise liaison with a fugitive, and Mary Sutherland’s brain could not match her generous figure or nature. Mary Morstan might be adventuresome; she is traveled, but naive and domesticated.

Mary Maberley was, without censure to be sure, merely a pawn, clueless as to the house purchase, physically fragile, and living a sheltered life. Despite her laudable concern for her son, her efforts result in a stalemate, without achieving justice; the least adventuress of them all.

Mary Brackenstall receives the only triple plus: for her resolution and quick wit, beauty and accomplishments, and pro-active nature. The unfortunate marriage notwithstanding, she ends up titled, wealthy, and free to enjoy an active life with her true love; surely the best exemplar of the Adventuress spirit.



Editor’s Note:  Recipients of the special edition Muse (given out at both the BSI dinner and the Baskerville Bash) were asked to answer the following query: Which woman in the Canon (other than The Woman, Irene Adler) most exemplifies the Adventuress spirit? Susan Vizoskie, our winner, will receive a $30 gift certificate for the bookstore of her choice. Our runner-up was Joe Moran with the somewhat unique choice of St. Monica. He commented: “…the best reason for nominating St. Monica is to be found in the recent news, which tells us how her namesake has achieved prominence today by her ability to cause such great consternation for a prominent male caught with his pants down!”

Georgiana, the Coquettish Duchess of Devonshire:

Adjective or Adventuress

by Susan Vizoskie

Mentioned as merely an adjective in IDEN, the real Duchess of Devonshire is the woman in the Canon who best exemplifies the Adventuress spirit. Lady Georgiana Spencer of Althorp (1757-1806), exceedingly tall, beautiful, and gregarious, fell in love with one of the most eligible bachelors in England, William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire (1748-1811). Prevailing against her parents’ wishes for a lengthier engagement, she married him just before her seventeenth birthday.

In London, the Cavendishes lived in Devonshire House just off Piccadilly. Georgiana breathed fresh air into London society (or perhaps pumped fresh blood would be more accurate), and soon she held the salon, entertaining Sheridan, Samuel Johnson, and others who described her with superlatives as they commented on her beauty, grace, charm, and wit. She was reputed to be the model for one of the characters in Sheridan’sA School for Scandal,and her portraits by Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds still survive at Chatsworth, the family country estate. Georgiana was legendary for gambling (and excessive losses) and setting fashion trends. The size and glamour of her cartwheel hats alone qualify her as an adventuress supreme!

The Cavendish household was a tad unorthodox. They “adopted” Lady Elizabeth Foster, an English woman who had been abandoned by her husband. Georgiana and Elizabeth became best friends, and the Duke and Elizabeth became best “friends” also. The Duke and Duchess had two daughters and, finally, in 1790, a son, William Spencer. The Duke and Lady Elizabeth had two children, a daughter and, also in 1790, a son (who was a few weeks older than the Duke-ling). Although Lady Elizabeth spent her pregnancies abroad and her children were raised abroad, Georgiana knew about the relationship and the children and continued to regard Elizabeth as her best friend.

In 1791, the Duchess had an affair (and a child in 1792) with Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey (yes, the Earl Grey of tea renown). The Duke demanded that Georgiana spend the pregnancy in Europe (where else?), and Georgiana demanded that her best friend Lady Elizabeth accompany her. In any case, Elizabeth couldn’t properly remain in the Duke’s household if the Duchess were away. What would Society say?

From 1795 until her death in 1806, Georgiana suffered from serious illness. Knowing her death was imminent, she wrote each of her children, reminding them of her love and her hopes for their happiness and giving her final advice to be wiser financially than she had been and to give happiness to others. Georgiana was mourned by the Duke, her children, and Lady Elizabeth. (And, yes, the Duke did marry Lady Elizabeth in 1809.) Years later, William Spencer, the 6th Duke, while extensively remodeling and refurbishing Devonshire House, refused to alter his mother’s apartments, wishing to preserve her rooms just as she had left them.

And so, dear readers, I propose Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire as the woman in the Canon who best exemplifies the Adventuress spirit. She was far more than a fashion adjective. Strong of character, she followed her own heart and mind; she was beautiful, witty, and charming (as, of course, are all Adventuresses). She was loving and beloved, and she valued friends and friendship. She lived her shortened life with zest and joie de vivre!

Author’s note: Georgiana was an ancestor of the late Princess Diana… same Spencer family and country estate. In 1897, Devonshire House was the site of a lavish costume ball given to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, hosted by the 8th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.


The Duchess of Devonshire, The House: Living at Chatsworth.  New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982, pp. 13-77.

Foss, Arthur, The Dukes of Britain. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986, pp. 6-12, 61-72.

Pearson, John, The Serpent and the Stag: The Saga of England’s Powerful and Glamorous Cavendish Family from the Age of Henry the Eighth to the Present. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983, pp. 122-203.