NOTE: This is a continuation of the Misadventure of the Sacrificial Sheep, a Parody
“He’s coming ‘round, Lestrade.”
Someone was attempting to pour brandy down my throat. I erupted in a paroxysm of coughing and soon wheezed to full consciousness, the apparent objective of the brandy-wielder.
“You fainted, Watson,” said he.
Between gasps, I recalled how Holmes had just made me the target for Col. Sebastian Moran’s new air gun. Noting the shattered window, I checked my head for supernumerary holes. Finding none, I asked, “How could you, Holmes?”
Holmes shrugged and gulped down the remaining brandy.
Inspector Lestrade shook my hand vigourously. “Well done, Doctor Watson! We caught Moran as he fired. Back to Dartmoor he goes. Brave of you to play the target, very brave indeed!”
“Yes, Lestrade,” said Holmes. “We knew Col. Moran wouldn’t fall for the wax bust trick again, so Watson played the sacrificial old goat…er…lamb.” Holmes slapped me on the back, sending me into further brandy-fueled gasps.
“My deerstalker, please, Watson.”
I snatched it off and thrust it at him.
“What of Moran’s fellow escapees?” Holmes asked Lestrade.
“Ned Ninkum and Professor Lopseikz, the mad, one-eyed, hunchbacked herpetologist, remain at large.”
“Pity,” said Holmes.
After the police left, Holmes held up a bony hand. “I know what you’re thinking, Watson, but you were in no danger whatsoever. Moran aimed at your shadow, not your head. He missed by several inches.”
All the same, Holmes…”
“But come, Watson! We must be off to Surrey.”
“To Penwick-on-Pyddle and Fang Manor, the home of Professor Hermann Lopseikz’s cousins. He may try to steal the famous Lopseikz Emerald.”
”Why should I go?” I was still a bit piqued.
“The country air will do you good, Watson. Besides, Mrs. Hudson is planning mutton flambé for tomorrow’s dinner.”
“I’ll pack my bag.”
We were soon hurtling across Surrey in a first class compartment.
“I say, Holmes, why was Professor Lopseikz incarcerated?”
“Supplied deadly snakes to would-be murderers. Grimesby Roylott procured his swamp adder through the Professor.”
“The Speckled Band!”
Holmes nodded. “Precisely. The most deadly snake in India. One bite, one nibble, causes death in seconds.”
I imagined a crawling sensation in my drawers. It was all I could do to remain seated. The feeling passed, but left me with a sense of foreboding.
At Penwick-on-Pyddle, we met the Lopseikz family, including Brunhilde and Ingebord, beauteous cousins of the one-eyed snake doctor. We were shewn to our rooms, where Holmes inspected the bell-pulls closely. I looked under my bed, but saw only a willow-pattern chamber pot.
We then made a circuit of the entire house, opening drawers and cupboards, knocking on panels. “What are we looking for, Holmes?” I said, reaching into an urn.
I extracted my hand.
“…And secret panels. Lopseikz may know a way in.”
We found nothing and locked all the doors before retiring for the night.
About midnight, I awoke, imagining that I’d heard footsteps enter my room. My heart pounded, but I decided I’d been dreaming, as we’d secured the house earlier. I slept.
Just before dawn, I felt a minor call of nature. I had no sooner seated myself upon the willow-pattern convenience than a hideous shriek shattered the night. My hideous shriek. I’d been bitten at the site of my old Jezail bullet wound. I leapt to my feet.
A hunchback wearing an eye patch appeared in my doorway, holding a lamp and grinning. “Ach, Himmel!” he said. “You haff on the bum by a snake been ge-bitten!” In the looking glass I saw, dangling resolutely from my posterior, a speckled band! Everything went black.
[To be continued. Maybe]