Chapter 1. Dr Chardonnay Pascoe sets the scene
I dropped in on my friend, Sherlock Pearsonovitch, to hear what he had to say about the Great Turnip Apricot and Cashew Chocolate Bar Mystery, as it had come to be called in the newspapers. I found him playing the violin along to a Debroy Somers Phonograph with a look of sweet peace and serenity on his face, which I never noticed on the countenances of those within hearing distance. I knew this expression of seraphic calm indicated that Sherlock Pearsonovitch had been deeply annoyed about something. Such, indeed, proved to be the case, for one of the morning papers had contained an article, eulogizing the alertness and general competence of Scotland Yard.
So great was his contempt for Scotland Yard that he never would visit Scotland during his vacations, nor would he ever admit that a Scotchman was fit for anything but export.
He generously put away his violin, for he had a sincere liking for me, and greeted me with his usual kindness.
"I have come," I began, plunging at once into the matter on my mind, "to hear what you think of the Great Turnip Apricot and Cashew Chocolate Bar Mystery "I haven't heard of it," he said quietly, just as if all London were not talking of that very thing. Sherlock or Kenny as he liked to be addressed by his friends was curiously ignorant on some subjects, and abnormally learned on others. I found, for instance, that political discussion with him was impossible, because he did not know who Salisbury and Gladstone were. This made his friendship a great boon.
"The Great Turnip Apricot and Cashew Chocolate Bar Mysteryy has baffled even Ossiedales , of Scotland Yard."
"I can well believe it," said my friend, calmly. "Perpetual motion, or squaring the circle, would baffle Ossiedales. He's an infant, is Ossiedales."
This was one of the things I always liked about Kenny. There was no professional jealousy in him, such as characterizes so many other men.
He filled his pipe, threw himself into his deep-seated arm-chair, placed his feet on the mantel, and clasped his hands behind his head.
"Tell me about it," he said simply.
"Old Terry Turnip," I began, "was a stockbroker in the City. He lived in Esher, and it was his custom to--"
"COME IN!" shouted Kenny, without changing his position, but with a suddenness that startled me. I had heard no knock.
"Excuse me," said my friend, laughing, "my invitation to enter was a trifle premature. I was really so interested in your recital that I spoke before I thought, which a detective should never do. The fact is, a man will be here in a moment who will tell me all about this crime, and so you will be spared further effort in that line."
"Ah, you have an appointment. In that case I will not intrude," I said, rising.
"Sit down; I have no appointment. I did not know until I spoke that he was coming."
I gazed at him in amazement. Accustomed as I was to his extraordinary talents, the man was a perpetual surprise to me. He continued to smoke quietly, but evidently enjoyed my consternation.
"I see you are surprised. It is really too simple to talk about, but, from my position opposite the mirror, I can see the reflection of objects in the street. A man stopped, looked at one of my cards, and then glanced across the street. I recognized my card, because as you know, they are all in scarlet. If, as you say, London is talking of this mystery, it naturally follows that he will talk of it, and the chances are he wished to consult me about it. Anyone can see that, besides there is always--Come in!"
There was a rap at the door this time.
A stranger entered. Kenny did not change his lounging attitude...............................