from Sherlock Holmes Esq to Dr J Watson:
My apologies for the lack of response to your recent communications – I have been engaged on a matter of utmost secrecy concerning the future of the British Government. Needless to say, the villains are now residing in Pentonville and the Prime Minster has assured me that I will be receiving a Christmas Card this year.
Now, to the matter of our friend Wheatley. I trust you will not be too perturbed to learn that this case too, is now solved. Already I sense your jaws tightening, Watson, as you flagellate yourself lightly on the buttocks in frustration, but since I would not desire you to chomp too ardently at the proverbial bit, I will summarise the events leading up to my ‘unmasking’ of Duke de Richleau:
You will be aware of my apparent behaviour during our last visit to Wheatley’s house and how I appeared to succumb to the delights of his rather fine port, as well as stealing one of his sandals (just a bit of fun). However, this (as I’m sure you have guessed by now) was simply a ploy. I wished to appear somewhat lackadaisical and indifferent to our host’s story, since (as you know) our clients will often be less forthcoming if they think the great Sherlock Holmes is paying close attention.
Perhaps you will recall how I lost interest in Wheatley’s tale altogether after he had mentioned the Chapman fellow? In fact, Watson, I was already aware of the events at Wheatley’s club because (cue suitable music) I was Chapman!
You well know my penchant for dressing up old chum, so you will not be surprised to learn that I was able (after plying the aforementioned attendant with several brandies), to persuade the fellow to take an evening off. His height and build are similar to my own, so it was an easy matter to create a suitable hairpiece and whiskers. His monocle too, was a nice touch, though the tattoo of our own dear Queen on my forehead was perhaps further than I had wished to go – apparently the damn things don’t come off. However, needs must, and suitably attired in Chapman’s clothes, I hung about the Reform Club’s toilet’s until my target happened along.
The rest of Wheatley’s tale happened just as he related, except for one minor detail: the Duke de Richleau (or anyone impersonating him), was not present. What I observed was how Wheatley did indeed walk to the corner of the room where he began to question his own reflection closely. As to the so-called ramblings of Richleau, they were of course Mr Wheatley’s own. When he grabbed hold of the mirror and demanded that it make its intentions plain, I required no further proof.
Ah-ha, I hear you ask, but if you already knew this (my handsome and intelligent friend), why bother to visit the fellow again at his home the other night? Well, Watson, having spent some time with the renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Hosseffeffor, I took his advice and allowed Wheatley to relate the story to us. This proved beyond doubt that the fellow is (to utilise the correct terminology) completely off his bloody head.
As we speak, Wheatley is on his way to the Bedlam Insane Asylum, where I’m assured the nice people there will know what to do with him.
Now, since there is nothing else on the horizon, perhaps you will join me in gobbling a few of Mrs Hudson’s muffins? I shall expect you this afternoon.