Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)
I must admit to feeling a little in awe of Ben Ravensburg. He’d lied about his employment at the museum, but knowing him to be an extraordinarily talented author, I saw no harm in giving him the benefit of the doubt. For some years, his books had scared me witless on many a long evening, waiting for Johnny to return from one of his night-time medical emergencies. Reading by lamplight in bed, I’d thrilled at the erotic delights of Ravensburg’s dashing heroes and the creepy apparitions they encountered. Sometimes I had to put down my book and give myself a little feminine pleasure to take my mind off the spooky goings-on.
Even so, listening to his tale, I wondered if his imagination had finally got the better of him.
Leaning forwards, Ravensburg stroked his goatee. “So, when I discovered my ancestor had been burned at the stake as a witch, I began to look into it.”
“And you say this woman—Sarah Ravensburg—was actually a wiccan?” said Holmes.
“That’s right. My research shows that many villagers recognised her as a healer. Some claimed she kept a sort of medical journal where she recorded her herbal remedies.”
Holmes opened his mouth, but I got my question in first. “And you think if you can find this book, it’ll clear her name?”
Ravensburg sat back in his chair. “It’s a long-shot, I know, but I believe it’s worth the effort.”
I looked at Johnny. He looked at Holmes. Holmes looked at the floor. Finally, the big-nosed detective raised his head.
“It’s a fascinating tale, Benny, but not the sort of thing that requires the attention of the world’s greatest detective. If this book exists, I’m sure any investigator with a reasonable level of deductive skill could locate it. Someone like Shaggy Rogers and that ridiculous hound of his would happily take on the case.”
“But that’s just it, Mr Holmes” said the Bearded One. “I’ve already enlisted the help of Shaggy and his friends.”
Holmes frowned. “And?”
“What, all of them?”
Ravensburg nodded. “Shaggy, Scooby, Velma, Daphne and Fred. They were exploring an old barn in the village one night and they vanished. Haven’t been seen since.”
This put a different complexion on the matter and after posing a few more questions, Holmes informed the famous author that he should catch the next train to Pokebottom-on-the-Moor, where we would join him later that day.
“Well,” said Holmes, when Ravensburg had gone. “What d’you think?”
Johnny shrugged. “Not entirely sure, Holmes. Seems odd he hasn’t called in the police.”
“Perhaps he’s worried what they might find.”
Holmes inclined his head towards me. “You think he may be hiding something?”
“Even Lestrade isn’t completely hopeless,” I said. “I think we’re being told only half the story…”
Johnny sighed. “If Ravensburg is hiding something, hadn’t we ought to know what it is before we get involved?”
Holmes ruminated on this for a moment, then his face brightened. “Watson—call the boy. I have two telegrams to send before we embark on this investigation.”
“Telegrams?” said Johnny. “Who to?”
“If I’m right, this has very little to do with a group of missing amateur detectives and a lot to do with an ancient book that has a great deal more value than Ravensburg is letting on.”
As it turned out, Holmes’ theory proved right. But not in the way he expected.