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Authors: David Stuart Davies

The Scroll of the Dead

BOOK: The Scroll of the Dead
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SHERLOCK
HOLMES
THE SCROLL OF THE DEAD
DAVID STUART DAVIES
TITAN BOOKS

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE SCROLL OF THE DEAD

ISBN: 9781845869126

Published by

Titan Books

A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

144 Southwark St

London

SE1 0UP

First Titan edition: October 2009

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Names, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead (except for satirical purposes), is entirely coincidental.

© 1998, 2009 David Stuart Davies.

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No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

Printed in the USA.

AVAILABLE NOW FROM TITAN BOOKS

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE ECTOPLASMIC MAN

Daniel Stashower

ISBN: 9781848564923

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

DR JEKYLL AND MR HOLMES

Loren D. Estleman

ISBN: 9781848567474

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE MAN FROM HELL

Barrie Roberts

ISBN: 9781848565081

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE SCROLL OF THE DEAD

David Stuart Davies

ISBN: 9781848564930

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

SÉANCE FOR A VAMPIRE

Fred Saberhagen

ISBN: 9781848566774

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE SEVENTH BULLET

Daniel D. Victor

ISBN: 9781848566767

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE STALWART COMPANIONS

H. Paul Jeffers

ISBN: 9781848565098

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE VEILED DETECTIVE

David Stuart Davies

ISBN: 9781848564909

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

Manly Wade Wellman & Wade Wellman

ISBN: 9781848564916

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE WHITECHAPEL HORRORS

Edward B. Hanna

ISBN: 9781848567498

COMING SOON FROM TITAN BOOKS

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE ANGEL OF THE OPERA

Sam Siciliano

ISBN: 9781848568617

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA

Richard L. Boyer

ISBN: 9781848568600

To
Freda & Tony
Cherished Chums

Contents

Narrator’s Note

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Epilogue

Narrator’s Note

T
he details of several incidents in this complex investigation only came to my knowledge once the case was closed. Using the information that was furnished to me, I have taken the liberty of dramatising these incidents in order that the reader may be presented with a coherent and cohesive narrative.

John H. Watson

Prologue

F
ate has a strange way of creating a series of events which initially appear to be in no way connected and yet which, with hindsight, can be discerned as cunning links in an arcane chain. My friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes, was usually very astute not only in observing, but also in predicting these matters. Indeed, it was part of his skill as a detective. However, in the affair of the Scroll of the Dead even he, at first, failed to see the relationship between a weird and singular set of occurrences which involved us in one of our most challenging cases.

To relate the story in full, I must refer to my notes detailing a period some twelve months prior to the murders and the theft of the Scroll. The first link in our chain was forged in early May, the year following Holmes’ return from his wanderings abroad after the Reichenbach incident. It was a dark and dismal Tuesday, as I remember it: one of those days which makes you think you have been deceived by the previous day’s sunshine and that spring has not really arrived after all. I had been at my club for most of the afternoon playing billiards with Thurston. I left at five, just as the murky day was crawling its way to solemn evening, and returned to Baker Street. I
poured myself a stiff brandy, a compensation for losing so badly to Thurston, and sat opposite my friend beside our fire. Holmes, who had been turning the pages of a newspaper in a desultory fashion, suddenly threw it down with a sigh and addressed me in a languid and casual manner.

‘Would you care to accompany me this evening, Watson?’ he murmured, a mischievous twinkle lighting his eye. ‘I have an appointment in Kensington, where I shall be communicating with the dead.’

‘Certainly my dear fellow,’ I replied easily, sipping my brandy and stretching my legs before the fire.

Holmes caught my impassive expression and burst into a fit of laughter. ‘A touch, an undeniable touch,’ he chortled. ‘Bravo, Watson.

You are developing a nice facility for dissembling.’

‘I have had a good teacher.’

He raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.

‘However,’ I added pointedly, ‘it is more likely that I am growing used to your outrageous statements.’

He beamed irritatingly and rubbed his hands. ‘Outrageous statements. Tut, tut. I speak naught but the truth.’

‘Communicating with the dead,’ I remarked with incredulity.

‘A séance, my dear fellow.’

‘Surely you are joking,’ said I.

‘Indeed not. I have an appointment with Mr Uriah Hawkshaw, medium, clairvoyant, and spiritual guide, this very evening at nine-thirty sharp. He assures me that he will endeavour to make contact with my dear departed Aunt Sophie. I may take along a friend.’

‘I was not aware you had an Aunt Sophie... Holmes, there is more to this than meets the eye.’

Astute as ever,’ Holmes grinned, as he slipped his watch from his waistcoat pocket. ‘Ah, just time for a wash and a shave before I leave. Are you game?’

* * *

Some time later, as we rattled through the darkened London streets in a hansom, Holmes offered the proper explanation for this evening’s strange excursion.

‘I am performing a favour for my brother, Mycroft. A member of his staff, Sir Robert Hythe, has recently lost his son in a boating accident. The lad was the apple of his father’s eye and his death has affected Sir Robert badly. Apparently he was just coming to terms with his tragic loss, when this Hawkshaw character contacted him and claimed that he was receiving spirit messages from the boy.’

‘What nonsense!’

‘My sentiments too, Watson. But to a grieving father such claims are straws grasped instinctively. In despair, logic is forgotten and replaced by wild hopes and dreams. Apparently Mr Uriah Hawkshaw is a most convincing rogue...’

‘Rogue?’

‘So Mycroft believes. He is one of these Spiritualist charlatans who milk the weak and the bereaved of their wealth in return for a gobbledegook puppet show. Mycroft is concerned as to how far this situation may develop. Hythe is privy to many of the government’s secrets and, purely on a personal level, my brother is keen that the fellow should not be misled any further.’

‘What is your role in the matter?’

‘I am to unmask this ghost-maker for what he is – a fraud and a cheat.’

‘How?’

‘Oh, that should be easy enough. According to my research there are many ways in which these individuals can be exposed. Really, Watson, it has been a most instructive venture. I have thoroughly enjoyed delving into this dark subject. My studies have led me down several learned and diverse avenues, including a visit to Professor Abraham Jordan, expert in
the languages of the North American Indian. It is now clear to me that in order for the unmasking to be achieved convincingly, it has to be done while the dissembler is about his nefarious business – in performance, as it were – with his unfortunate victims in attendance.’

BOOK: The Scroll of the Dead
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