Dare quest sherlock ho.., p.1
By Brian Smith
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
aristocrat - a member of the aristocracy, a noble person
butler - the main male servant
colliery - a coal mine and its buildings
deduce - to use logic or reason to form a conclusion
forenoon - the early part of the day ending with noon
gag - to restrict use of the mouth by inserting a gag
guinea - a gold coin worth 21 shillings
gullible - easily fooled or cheated
hapless - having no luck, unlucky
intrigued - very interested in
pauper - a very poor person who has no money
pukka - real, genuine, first class
shilling - an old silver coin worth 12 pence/pennies
smarmy - behaving in a way that seems polite, kind, or pleasing but is not genuine or believable
theory - an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events
Welcome to a new world...
Did you think you had seen all the dangers that there are? That’s what Edward and Anthony thought too! They have to face fresh challenges and dangers as they leave behind their home and those they love. Why? Because they need to come to the help of a murder victim!
Yet who could give them a dare?
Will the boys rise up to the challenge on this quest? Little do they know, but they will also meet one of the most famous people in the world. And there are some surprising enemies waiting to ruin that man. Can you guess who they are...?
Read on to see how your heroes fare.
The Port of London
It was in the autumn of 1892 that a man all dressed in dark clothes wandered about the streets of London. He was carrying a bag which contained pieces of bread. London was the largest port of the world and the richest city, and yet, at the same time it was home to many of the poorest and most wretched people in the world. These poor, wretched people who often had no home, no education and no hope for their own future only survived from day to day. Every day was a struggle to get enough food to survive and the constant feeling of hunger drove many of them into crime. They were paupers.
Most wretched of all were the children whose parents were not able to care for them. These children were cast out into the streets where they had to fend for themselves or die of hunger and disease. More often than not they were hungry, they were cold, they wore few clothes and had no shoes. They were easy victims for anyone who wanted to exploit them. One such person was the man we mentioned before who was walking around with a bag containing bread.
For those poor, miserable children it was a dream. They would do anything for it.
And what if someone came and just gave them a piece of bread for nothing? If that person promised more food and a bed to sleep in?
The idea was like a vision of paradise to those poor children. It was easy to make them follow such a person.
The man with the bread approached a few children here and a few there. He didn’t want too many at once, but those he gave bread to, followed him willingly. He always chose those who looked the strongest. He told them of a house outside the city where a rich man helped poor children, where there was nice food every day, a warm bed to sleep in, and a garden to play in. It was a place where all the terrors and worries and hunger and cold were no more. It was paradise.
We, of course, know that when something sounds too good to be true, there is usually something wrong. But those poor children had no education. They never spent a single day at school, they couldn’t read or write, they knew nothing about the world except for what they’d seen in the streets of London. For these paupers life was hell, the promise of paradise was irresistible.
One such pauper was little Bob. He was six years old and had lived in the streets for as long as he could remember. He slept on the hard stone of the roads at night. His clothes were filthy and torn and full of holes. He usually felt cold, and hunger was with him every day. Most dogs had a better life than Bob. Every day was a fight for him to get a few scraps of food. He followed the bigger boys who lived in the streets. Sometimes there was a little work to be done. On these days they got food. On other days they had to beg or steal. Few of the well-off people gave anything to the children in the streets. The street children were dirty. Few people managed to see that beneath the layers of dirt and the torn rags there was a child.
So when on that day of autumn 1892 the man with the bag of bread approached Bob and gave him a piece of bread, Bob followed him willingly.
For bread he would go anywhere.
Little Bob and three other children followed the mysterious man happily. Finally they could turn their backs on the cold, dirty streets and dark alleyways that had been misery, and move on to a better life.
None of them knew that they were being watched. Hidden in the shadow of a narrow doorway a keen pair of eyes observed the man with his bread and promises of paradise, and the gullible children who were tricked into following him. The pair of eyes belonged to a tall boy who liked to see but not be seen. He usually had enough to eat and his life was better than that of so many other street children because he was fortunate enough to know someone in London who paid for information of all sorts.
In another part of London there lived a man whose life was so vastly different from that of the poor hungry children, that one might have thought he lived on another planet.
Sir Cecil Montmorency Mottershead was the third son of one of the oldest and most respected families in England. Being from an ancient and wealthy family meant that Sir Cecil had enjoyed a pleasant and carefree life. He had enjoyed the benefits of a healthy and pleasurable life on a large country estate before going to a famous school where he had taken up cricket and a study of the classics. When he finished his schooling he briefly considered an army career but then decided to devote his life to the ancient world, that is to say he learnt everything he could about the glory of Greece and Rome in antiquity. He travelled extensively and soon acquired a large collection of antiques including the busts and statues of ancient philosophers, emperors and Gods. It all cost a lot of money, of course, and he had no income, but that didn’t matter to him. Being a pukka aristocrat he had the means to support his gentlemanly lifestyle.
After several years his collection had become valuable, very valuable. This meant nothing to him. His only interest lay in what the objects represented, not what they were worth. And yet, outside the sheltered existence of his aristocratic mansion there were those who saw things very differently. They knew what hunger meant, they knew the value of money and they were attracted to it. This was an attraction that would prove fatal to Sir Cecil.
Every morning Sir Cecil would start the day with breakfast in bed. His butler brought toast, butter and marmalade along with a cup of Ceylon tea and half a grapefruit on a tray. On the side was the latest edition of the Times, carefully ironed so the ink would not leave any stains on Sir Cecil’s fingers. After breakfast the butler helped Sir Cecil into his dressing gown and then followed his master with a special tray. They went to some ancient busts of Zeus, Mars, Hades and other Gods of the ancient world. Each bust received a garland of fresh flowers as an offering. It was not that Sir Cecil necessarily believed in these ancient deities. He merely did it in deference to ancient custom and culture that he was s
The rest of the day he devoted himself to his studies and late at night, before going to bed, he passed by the busts of the Gods and lit some incense while muttering prayers in Greek and Latin. It was a habit that made him feel closer to the people of antiquity who had lived so very long ago.
One such evening, his butler was out on an errand. Sir Cecil had just finished his offering to the Gods when he heard an unusual noise in another room. He went to investigate and saw a well-dressed man, seemingly a burglar. Sir Cecil did not immediately understand the man’s intentions.
“What are you doing here, Sir?” he reprimanded the burglar angrily.
The man, who had apparently been attracted by the valuable collection of antiques, turned round to face Sir Cecil, then pulled out a knife and attacked him.
Taken by surprise Sir Cecil fell over backwards and the burglar stabbed him in the chest. The knife plunged into him and Sir Cecil realized that his life was over. With his dying breath he muttered a few words in Greek, a desperate plea, “Mighty Hades, I dare you avenge my death!”
Far, far away in the underworld, Hades the King of the underworld was roused from his slumber. King Hades knew of Sir Cecil, the only human who still made offerings to him, and so when he heard the wish of this dying man he wasn’t surprised. Hades smiled a little and said “A dare? Very well, so be it.”
In another age stars began to whirl around two surprised boys. Edward and Anthony were watching TV when suddenly they fell into space and were hurled through time. Moments later they landed in London on that fateful night of autumn 1892.
In 221B Baker Street Sherlock Holmes was smoking his pipe. Dr. Watson was out of town and Holmes had no one to share his thoughts with except the little curls of smoke that slowly rose up in the air and filled the room with a grey haze. He had just read about Sir Cecil’s brutal murder and the theft of his valuable collection of antiques in the morning paper. As he had no case to work on, something that always made him irritable, he was glad to have something to occupy his mind.
According to the paper there had been one witness who saw the burglar leave Sir Cecil’s home, and that witness described the burglar as being well-dressed. Holmes realized immediately that this was a clue of immense importance. Few criminals spent enough money on their clothing to appear well-dressed. They didn’t care and they knew it would make them too noticeable. This was an unusual criminal. The great detective was intrigued and began to develop a number of theories.
While Holmes was thus engrossed in his thoughts his housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, knocked on his door before entering to announce that there was someone to see him.
Had it been a lady, a gentleman or anyone else of any kind of standing in society, Mrs. Hudson would have given Holmes their name. When she announced ‘someone’ he knew that it was the kind of person she disapproved of. A lowlife, a dirty ragged smelly person who was not noticed by anyone in London, someone who might have useful information for Holmes. And when he heard nimble footsteps coming up the stairs he knew who it was: One of the Baker Street boys. The Baker Street boys were lucky enough to earn a living by hanging around the city and supplying the great detective with information. No one, not even criminals, noticed these dirty boys who looked like all the other street kids, and so they often came by useful information.
The boy who came up the stairs on that morning quickly informed Holmes of the strange man who lured poor children off the streets with pieces of bread and promises of a better life.
“Describe the man,” Holmes said.
When he heard the description he nodded a little and searched for a coin in his pocket. He found a sixpence, the usual reward. The boy’s eyes were fixed on the shiny silver coin. Then Holmes put it back. The boy looked disappointed. Apparently Holmes didn’t think this piece of information was worth anything. A moment later Holmes’ hand came out of his pocket again and put something in the boy’s hand. It was a shilling, twice more than he had expected!
“Thank you, sir,” the boy said gratefully.
A well-dressed murderer and thief of antiques, and a well-dressed man luring poor children off the streets in one day. Both events were unusual.
“Spread the word,” Holmes said. “A guinea to any boy who finds out where those children are taken to or where they are now.”
“Yes, sir,” the boy said happily and ran off.
A bit earlier that day, the sky was still dark and yet a grey line on the horizon in the east heralded first dawn, there was a mysterious whirl of stars in Regent’s Park in London. Coming through space and time Anthony and Edward fell onto the cold, damp grass in surprise.
“What the…?” Edward said in astonishment.
“It wasn’t me,” Anthony said.
Neither of them had made a dare, and they couldn’t understand how they had been taken from the comfort of their home and flung into another adventure.
The whirling stars around them popped and vanished one by one. When the last star popped they briefly saw an image of Sir Cecil invoking King Hades. They understood.
It was pitch black. In the distance they made out a weak glow coming from gas lights along the road.
“Let’s go there,” Anthony said.
Edward agreed and they made their way across the lawn. When they reached the lights Edward suddenly understood where they were.
“We’re back in London,” he said. They had spent some time in London with their parents before their last quest. Flying to modern London in a plane was one thing but now everything looked different.
Anthony looked at the gas street lights. Then a horse drawn coach passed them in the street. The coacher wore old-fashioned clothes and a top hat.
“This isn’t London,” Anthony said.
“Yes, it is,” Edward said, “but we’re in the past.” He sighed and said “I don’t want to be here.”
Anthony thought for a moment. He remembered what King Hades had done for them in their last quest and said “If Hades wants it then we should do it.”
For a moment Edward looked at his brother in surprise and then said “Yes, I suppose you’re right. In any case we haven’t got much choice.”
The two brothers walked away from the park and through the streets. Dawn broke, the sun rose and the greatest city on Earth came to life. The image of Sir Cecil dying was on their minds, yet the two brothers didn’t know who he was or how to avenge his death and fulfil their quest.
The streets were very different from the London they had seen on their last trip. Gone were the double decker buses and the noise and smell of motor traffic, replaced by horse drawn coaches, the sound of iron-clad wheels on cobble stones and the smell of burning coal from a myriad of fires whose smoke ascended from chimneys around the city. No one was wearing T-shirts or jeans, instead the wealthier folk could be recognized by their fine suits and dresses while other people were dressed in working clothes. The two brothers walked along the streets looking at everything curiously and wondering where to begin their quest.
After wandering about the streets for several hours they began to feel an unpleasant pang in their stomachs. They’d had nothing to eat since the night before.
“I’m starving,” Edward said and looked at the tradesmen selling bread and other food.
“Me too,” Anthony said. He checked his pockets. “I’ve got no money. How about you?”
Edward shook his head.
They heard the chimes of a church bell. It was nine o’clock in the forenoon.
Across the street someone noticed their longing look at the food. A man clad in a suit that had seen better days and a top hat with a worn rim walked towards them with a smarmy smile.
“Hungry, eh?” he said.
The boys looked at him in surprise.
The man reached into his bag and pulled out two pieces of bread.
“Here, have this,” he said. Seeing them hesitate he added “It’s for
Anthony stretched out his hand to take the bread but Edward pulled him back.
“Why are you doing this?” Edward asked.
“Ay, don’t trust me, eh?” the man said and bent down low with the same smarmy smile on his face. “A kind-hearted gentleman sent me here to help poor hungry lads like you. And you know what, there’s lots more where this came from, lots more. In fact there’s a beautiful house out in the country where poor boys like you can live and eat all you want every day. And all that’s a gift from the kind gentleman. Now ain’t that wonderful?”
Edward felt the man’s smelly breath in his face and drew back feeling disgusted.
“Now just take this fresh bread and eat it and you can come with me to live in the nice house and you’ll never be hungry again,” the man said smiling his smarmy, false smile.
Edward didn’t understand what the man was up to, yet he felt alarm bells ringing at the back of his head that told him something was wrong, seriously wrong.
“No, thank you,” he said and pulled Anthony away quickly.
“Stay hungry then,” the man said and walked away looking for some other hapless victim.
Edward pulled Anthony behind one of the tradesmen from where they watched the strange man walk away.
The tradesman looked at them curiously and said “What’s this about then?”
Edward quickly told him what had happened.
The man nodded. “A good thing you didn’t follow him, if you ask me. There’s no such thing as a free meal in life, you know. You boys are hungry then?”
The tradesman looked at their neat clean clothes which were so very different from those of street boys.
“You two look honest enough. Tell you what, if you make a delivery for me I’ll give you some bread to eat. How about that?”
The boys readily agreed. The tradesman explained to them where to go and gave them a bag of food to deliver.
“No dawdling on the way, mind!” he said. “Just come right back here and you’ll get your food.”
Dare Quest - Sherlock Holmes by Brian Smith / Thrillers & Crime have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on34 votes