Good-night Mister Sherlock Holmes

May 10, 2009

“You have doubtless heard of the Beryl Coronet?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Loper @ 4:25 pm
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The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet is a clever little yarn and one of 12 included in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It is not particularly good, or particularly bad, but it has a couple of errors that can only be laid at Doyle’s feet; Holmes had nothing to do with it.

Mr. Alexander Holder, one of the principles at Holder & Stevenson (the second largest private banking concern in the City of London), has agreed to accept the Beryl Coronet — which he describes as “one of the most precious public possessions of the empire” — as collateral on a four-day, ₤50,000 loan. Holder doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the coronet in the bank’s vault so he takes it home and locks it in a bureau in his dressing-room.

The owner/curator of the coronet (who is not identified) admonishes Holder:

“I rely upon you not only to be discreet and to refrain from all gossip upon the matter but, above all, to preserve this coronet with every possible precaution because I need not say that a great public scandal would be caused if any harm were to befall it. Any injury to it would be almost as serious as its complete loss… ” [emphasis added]

Through some family shenanigans, the coronet is stolen. During the theft, Holder’s son attempts to regain the coronet from the perpetrator.  A struggle ensues and unbeknownst to the son, a corner of the coronet, with three attached stones (beryls), is broken off and retained by the the the thief.

Holmes is called in, quickly sorts out the mystery, and eventually returns the broken piece to the senior Holder and exonerating the son.

Here are my concerns:

If any injury would be “almost as serious as its complete loss”, why, after Holmes recovers the broken corner (with the beryls attached), does Mr. Holder exclaim:

“You have it!” he gasped. I am saved! I am saved!”

Saved? The coronet is severely damaged and Holder was specifically cautioned that any injury was tantamount to a complete loss.

I also wonder that Mr. Holder, after having been admonished to “refrain from all gossip upon the matter” proceeded to tell his son (who had known gambling issues) and niece the whole story and exactly where he is going to secure the coronet?

And why does not the younger Holder realize the coronet was broken during the struggle with the thief?  Holmes noted a break would make a noise “like a pistol shot”.  Why did not the son hear it and realize the coronet had been damaged ?

Maybe these are small discrepancies and I suppose they could have happened but they pale in comparison with the biggest question: why did Holder take the coronet home in the first place rather than leave it in the vault of the “second largest private banking concern in the City of London”?

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