|The Creeping Man|
Members of the Tankerville Club, Cincinnati’s Baker Street Irregulars scion society, will discuss “The Adventure of the Creeping Man” at our next meeting on Friday. It’s a fine example of my conviction that the later Sherlock Holmes stories are often on par with the earlier ones, conventional wisdom to the contrary.
Right off the bat, the opening paragraphs include one of the most passages lines in the Canon. Holmes summons Watson, then living on his own, with the laconic and typically inconsiderate note: “Come at once if convenient – if inconvenient come all the same. – S. H.”
Watson goes on to offer a wonderful paragraph about the Holmes-Watson alliance, beginning with: “The relations between us in those latter days were peculiar. He was a man of habits, narrow and concentrated habits, and I had become one of them. As an institution I was like the violin, the shag tobacco, the old black pipe, the index books, and others perhaps less excusable.”
And yet, in his usual undemonstrative way, Holmes later indicates in a bit of dialogue that he views the good doctor as a full partner in their adventures:
“We can but try.”
“Excellent, Watson! Compound of the Busy Bee and Excelsior. We can but try – the motto of the firm.”
The storyline is wonderfully Gothic, with echoes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But it also has some humor.
Holmes is intrigued by behavior of Professor Presbury’s Russian wolf-hound, Roy, who has tried to bite his master. Asked by Holmes what he thinks of the case, Watson lays out a theory which ends with, “His letters and the box may be connected with some other private transaction – a loan, perhaps, or some share certificates, which are in the box.” Not content with simply disagreeing, Holmes sarcastically responds, “And the wolf-hound no doubt disapproved of the financial bargain. No, no, Watson, there is more in it than this.”
Good old Holmes – the other fixed point in a changing age!