I’m writing this missive in the expectation that you will shortly return from whatever den of immorality you’re currently residing in and give me a little guidance on what sounds like an interesting case.
I called at Baker Street in the hope of a late breakfast and a tête-à-tête of the manly kind with your good self (and also to escape my dear wife’s carnal demands). However, all I found was a confused housekeeper and a noticeably absent detective. Mrs Hudson let me in and with her usual exuberance pressed her steaming muffins upon me along with a pot of Earl Grey. It seems she too is mystified by your non-appearance. Following a long explanation of exactly how much you have disrupted her routine with your ‘constant comings-in and goings-outs’, she revealed that a ‘saucy bint wiv a lopsided face’ called early yesterday morning and ‘whisked Mister ‘olmes away wiv neither a by-your-leave nor nothin’.
However, to the point of my visit: I received a letter by second post yesterday from a person named Passepartout (who I surmise is of the French variety), regaling me of his latest position as a manservant with that well-known philanthropist and inveterate shirtlifter, Phileas Phogg. It seems that Mister Phogg is to embark on a round-the-world trip as part of some ridiculous bet and Passepartout is concerned the trip may be in peril due to the machinations of one of Phogg’s associates.
I made a few inquiries at my club and discovered (via Bert the porter), that a certain person has been engaged to trail Phogg and sabotage his journey by whatever means necessary. It all sounded a bit far fetched to me, though Bert was adamant that whoever has employed the aforementioned saboteur is determined to win the bet.
On leaving my club I was in half a mind to put the whole thing down to rumour and innuendo, when I noticed a strange-looking chap watching me from the corner of the street. On realising I’d seen him, the fellow took off with some haste. Needless to say, I followed at close quarters and tracked him to a dingy boarding house of poor repute. Further probing of the landlady (and a few shillings to slacken her wanton mouth), I obtained a business card bearing the name The Hooded Claw. The card bore an address in East Londen, and while I have no desire to visit the place, it put me in mind of an old friend of ours, Bill Sikes.
In your absence I shall have a quiet word with friend Sikes and see if he can shed any light on the matter.