Having received no reply from either the Watsons or from Holmes, I determined to go to the island myself. Though I may well be (as Holmes has often chided), a sallow, rat-faced, dark-eyed, furtive-looking fellow, I am nevertheless, a jolly good detective and my gut feeling is that my Baker Street friends are in mortal danger. The telegraphical communication which arrived this morning from Sergeant Radish gave me a deal more than a bit of a turn, and for a moment my mind was in turmoil. Thankfully, turmoil is not a new experience for me and I dealt with it in a fitting and correct manner as outlined in the current edition of Police Procedures (Londen Edition).
I had entreated the pathologist Mister Stallworthy to investigate further into the possible identity of the dead person we had previously assumed to be Doctor Edward Armstrong, and in this respect had also sent a memo to Sergeant Radish to assist the doctor by any means possible.
Radish is not the most intellectual of coppers, but the man has a good heart and has seemingly moved heaven and earth (or earth, at least) in a bid to discover the truth. It turns out that the distant relative who came to identify Armstrong forgot to mention a rather significant piece of information which I have to say, sheds a light of a very different kind on the matter. Why the chap did not mention this at the time was a mystery, but the receipt of supplementary information explained his initial reticence, leaving no doubt as to his motives in concealing the truth. As Radish notes: It has been revealed that the Cousin from Cambridge is an inveterate shirt-lifter who often dresses up in ladies attire, goes waltzing off around the Old Town in the middle of the night, offering sexual favours to anyone with twopence-ha’penny to spare… This, to my mind explains everything.
Anyways, the upshot is that this shirt-lifting cousin did not want to admit that the real Doctor Edward Armstrong was in fact Doctor Edwina Armstrong, who, having found herself unable to obtain a position in General Practice, had masqueraded as a gentleman in order to further her career.
All of which suggests that the person who visited Mister Holmes was nothing more than an imposter, employed or otherwise persuaded to go to Baker Street and tell a certain story. I have no doubt that this was done entirely because of the reputation the famous detective has for digging out the truth. Whoever instigated this assignment knew Holmes couldn’t be fooled by a mere woman and would sniff her out in a trice, in which case the game, as it were, would not have been afoot, but up, good and proper.
All of which (again) suggest that someone on the island is a woman. And not only that, but a woman who is pretending to be a different woman, and in fact may be doubly pretending to be a woman who is really a man. Or something like that.
It was with all of this going round in my tiny mind that I made the crossing to Huge Island in a rowing boat borrowed from an old sea dog named Captain Ahab (so-named due to his being from Wales).
It was getting on for noon when I steered the boat towards the jetty and tied her up. From the shore I could see nothing, so hurried up the incline towards where I surmised the house would be. A few minutes later I had reached the crest of the incline and stood on the edge of a vast lawn. Making my way across the grass, I kept to one side, concealing myself as best I could among the trees and weirdly shaped hedges. The house now lay in front of me, and pausing for a moment, I took in its vastness, marvelling in the knowledge that this once-grand edifice had been the scene of at least four murders.
Just as I started forward again, a terrifying scream broke the stillness and as if that were not enough, I recognised the voice – it was Doctor Watson.