List Of Contents | Contents of The Pursuit of the House-Boat, by John Bangs
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small bottle."

"I fail to see what it was in our conversation, however," observed
Hamlet, somewhat impatient over the delay caused by the narration of
this tale, "that suggested this train of thought to you."

"The sequel will show," returned Holmes.

"Oh, Lord!" put in Raleigh.  "Can't we put off the sequel until a
later issue?  Remember, Mr. Holmes, that we are constantly losing

"The sequel is brief, and I can narrate it on our way to the office
of the Navigation Company," observed the detective.  "When the bottle
came I invited Mr. Burgess to join us, which he did, and as the hour
was late when we came to separate, I offered him the use of my parlor
overnight.  This he accepted, and we retired.

"The next morning when I arose to dress, the mystery was cleared."

"You had dreamed its solution?" asked Raleigh.

"No," replied Holmes.  "Burgess had disappeared with all my clothing,
my false-beard, my suit-case, and my watch.  The only thing he had
left me was the bathing-suit and a few empty small bottles."

"And why, may I ask," put in Hamlet, as they drew near to Charon's
office--"why does that case remind you of business as it is conducted

"In this, that it is a good thing to stay out of unless you know it
all," explained Holmes.  "I omitted in the case of Burgess to observe
one thing about him.  Had I observed that his nose was rectilinear,
incurved, and with a lifted base, and that his auricular temporal
angle was between 96 and 97 degrees, I should have known at once that
he was an impostor Vide Ottolenghui on 'Ears and Noses I Have Met,'
pp. 631-640."

"Do you mean to say that you can tell a criminal by his ears?"
demanded Hamlet.

"If he has any--yes; but I did not know that at the time of the
Brighton mystery.  Therefore I should have stayed out of the case.
But here we are.  Good-morning, Charon."

By this time the trio had entered the private office of the president
of the Styx Navigation Company, and in a few moments the vessel was
chartered at a fabulous price.

On the return to the wharf, Sir Walter somewhat nervously asked
Holmes if he thought the plan they had settled upon would work.

"Charon is a very shrewd old fellow," said he.  "He may outwit us

"The chances are just two and one-eighth degrees in your favor,"
observed Holmes, quietly, with a glance at Raleigh's ears.  "The
temporal angle of your ears is 93.125 degrees, whereas Charon's stand
out at 91, by my otometer.  To that extent your criminal instincts
are superior to his.  If criminology is an exact science, reasoning
by your respective ears, you ought to beat him out by a perceptible
though possibly narrow margin."

With which assurance Raleigh went ahead with his preparations, and
within twelve hours the Gehenna was under way, carrying a full
complement of crew and officers, with every state-room on board
occupied by some spirit of the more illustrious kind.

Even Shylock was on board, though no one knew it, for in the dead of
night he had stolen quietly up the gang-plank and had hidden himself
in an empty water-cask in the forecastle.

"'Tisn't Venice," he said, as he sat down and breathed heavily
through the bung of the barrel, "but it's musty and damp enough, and,
considering the cost, I can't complain.  You can't get something for
nothing, even in Hades."


When the Gehenna had passed down the Styx and out through the
beautiful Cimmerian Harbor into the broad waters of the ocean, and
everything was comparatively safe for a while at least, Sherlock
Holmes came down from the bridge, where he had taken his place as the
commander of the expedition at the moment of departure.  His brow was
furrowed with anxiety, and through his massive forehead his brain
could be seen to be throbbing violently, and the corrugations of his
gray matter were not pleasant to witness as he tried vainly to
squeeze an idea out of them.

"What is the matter?" asked Demosthenes, anxiously.  "We are not in
any danger, are we?"

"No," replied Holmes.  "But I am somewhat puzzled at the bubbles on
the surface of the ocean, and the ripples which we passed over an
hour or two ago, barely perceptible through the most powerful
microscope, indicate to my mind that for some reason at present
unknown to me the House-boat has changed her course.  Take that
bubble floating by.  It is the last expiring bit of aerial agitation
of the House-boat's wake.  Observe whence it comes.  Not from the
Azores quarter, but as if instead of steering a straight course
thither the House-boat had taken a sharp turn to the north-east, and
was making for Havre; or, in other words, Paris instead of London
seems to have become their destination."

Demosthenes looked at Holmes with blank amazement, and, to keep from
stammering out the exclamation of wonder that rose to his lips, he
opened his bonbonniere and swallowed a pebble.

"You don't happen to have a cocaine tablet in your box, do you?"
queried Holmes.

"No," returned the Greek.  "Cocaine makes me flighty and nervous, but
these pebbles sort of ballast me and hold me down.  How on earth do
you know that that bubble comes from the wake of the House-boat?"

"By my chemical knowledge, merely," replied Holmes.  "A merely
worldly vessel leaves a phosphorescent bubble in its wake.  That one
we have just discovered is not so, but sulphurescent, if I may coin a
word which it seems to me the English language is very much in need
of.  It proves, then, that the bubble is a portion of the wake of a
Stygian craft, and the only Stygian craft that has cleared the
Cimmerian Harbor for years is the House-boat--Q. E. D."

"We can go back until we find the ripple again, and follow that, I
presume," sneered Le Coq, who did not take much stock in the theories
of his great rival, largely because he was a detective by intuition
rather than by study of the science.

"You can if you want to, but it is better not to," rejoined Holmes,
simply, as though not observing the sneer, "because the ripple
represents the outer lines of the angle of disturbance in the water;
and as any one of the sides to an angle is greater than the
perpendicular from the hypothenuse to the apex, you'd merely be going
the long way.  This is especially important when you consider the
formation of the bow of the House-boat, which is rounded like the
stern of most vessels, and comes near to making a pair of ripples at
an angle of ninety degrees."

"Then," observed Sir Walter, with a sigh of disappointment, "we must
change our course and sail for Paris?"

"I am afraid so," said Holmes; "but of course it's by no means
certain as yet.  I think if Columbus would go up into the mizzentop
and look about him, he might discover something either in
confirmation or refutation of the theory."

"He couldn't discover anything," put in Pinzon.  "He never did."

"Well, I like that!" retorted Columbus.  "I'd like to know who
discovered America."

"So should I," observed Leif Ericson, with a wink at Vespucci.

"Tut!" retorted Columbus.  "I did it, and the world knows it, whether
you claim it or not."

"Yes, just as Noah discovered Ararat," replied Pinzon.  "You sat upon
the deck until we ran plumb into an island, after floating about for
three months, and then you couldn't tell it from a continent, even
when you had it right before your eyes.  Noah might just as well have
told his family that he discovered a roof garden as for you to go
back to Spain telling 'em all that San Salvador was the United

"Well, I don't care," said Columbus, with a short laugh.  "I'm the
one they celebrate, so what's the odds?  I'd rather stay down here in
the smoking-room enjoying a small game, anyhow, than climb up that
mast and strain my eyes for ten or a dozen hours looking for evidence
to prove or disprove the correctness of another man's theory.  I
wouldn't know evidence when I saw it, anyhow.  Send Judge

"I draw the line at the mizzentop," observed Blackstone.  "The
dignity of the bench must and shall be preserved, and I'll never
consent to climb up that rigging, getting pitch and paint on my
ermine, no matter who asks me to go."

"Whomsoever I tell to go, shall go," put in Holmes, firmly.  "I am
commander of this ship.  It will pay you to remember that, Judge

"And I am the Court of Appeals," retorted Blackstone, hotly.  "Bear
that in mind, captain, when you try to send me up.  I'll issue a writ
of habeas corpus on my own body, and commit you for contempt."

"There's no use of sending the Judge, anyhow," said Raleigh, fearing
by the glitter that came into the eye of the commander that trouble
might ensue unless pacificatory measures were resorted to.  "He's
accustomed to weighing everything carefully, and cannot be rushed
into a decision.  If he saw any evidence, he'd have to sit on it a
week before reaching a conclusion.  What we need here more than
anything else is an expert seaman, a lookout, and I nominate Shem.
He has sailed under his father, and I have it on good authority that
he is a nautical expert."

Holmes hesitated for an instant.  He was considering the necessity of
disciplining the recalcitrant Blackstone, but he finally yielded.

"Very well," he said.  "Shem be it.  Bo'sun, pipe Shem on deck, and
tell him that general order number one requires him to report at the
mizzentop right away, and that immediately he sees anything he shall
come below and make it known to me.  As for the rest of us, having a
very considerable appetite, I do now decree that it is dinner-time.
Shall we go below?"

"I don't think I care for any, thank you," said Raleigh.  "Fact is--
ah--I dined last week, and am not hungry."

Noah laughed.  "Oh, come below and watch us eat, then," he said.
"It'll do you good."

But there was no reply.  Raleigh had plunged head first into his
state-room, which fortunately happened to be on the upper deck.  The
rest of the spirits repaired below to the saloon, where they were
soon engaged in an animated discussion of such viands as the larder

"This," said Dr. Johnson, from the head of the table, "is what I call
comfort.  I don't know that I am so anxious to recover the House-
boat, after all."

"Nor I," said Socrates, "with a ship like this to go off cruising on,
and with such a larder.  Look at the thickness of that puree, Doctor-

"Excuse me," said Boswell, faintly, "but I--I've left my note--bub--
book upstairs, Doctor, and I'd like to go up and get it."

"Certainly," said Dr. Johnson.  "I judge from your color, which is
highly suggestive of a modern magazine poster, that it might be well
too if you stayed on deck for a little while and made a few entries
in your commonplace book."

"Thank you," said Boswell, gratefully.  "Shall you say anything
clever during dinner, sir?  If so, I might be putting it down while
I'm up--"

"Get out!" roared the Doctor.  "Get up as high as you can--get up
with Shem on the mizzentop--"

"Very good, sir," replied Boswell, and he was off.

"You ought to be more lenient with him, Doctor," said Bonaparte; "he
means well."

"I know it," observed Johnson; "but he's so very previous.  Last
winter, at Chaucer's dinner to Burns, I made a speech, which Boswell
printed a week before it was delivered, with the words 'laughter' and
'uproarious applause' interspersed through it.  It placed me in a
false position."

"How did he know what you were going to say?" queried Demosthenes.

"Don't know," replied Johnson.  "Kind of mind-reader, I fancy," he
added, blushing a trifle.  "But, Captain Holmes, what do you deduce
from your observation of the wake of the House-boat?  If she's going
to Paris, why the change?"

"I have two theories," replied the detective.

"Which is always safe," said Le Coq.

"Always; it doubles your chances of success," acquiesced Holmes.
"Anyhow, it gives you a choice, which makes it more interesting.  The
change of her course from Londonward to Parisward proves to me either
that Kidd is not satisfied with the extent of the revenge he has
already taken, and wishes to ruin you gentlemen financially by
turning your wives, daughters, and sisters loose on the Parisian
shops, or that the pirates have themselves been overthrown by the
ladies, who have decided to prolong their cruise and get some fun out
of their misfortune."

"And where else than to Paris would any one in search of pleasure
go?" asked Bonaparte.

"I had more fun a few miles outside of Brussels," said Wellington,
with a sly wink at Washington.

"Oh, let up on that!" retorted Bonaparte.  "It wasn't you beat me at
Waterloo.  You couldn't have beaten me at a plain ordinary game of
old-maid with a stacked pack of cards, much less in the game of war,
if you hadn't had the elements with you."

"Tut!" snapped Wellington.  "It was clear science laid you out,

"Taisey-voo!" shouted the irate Corsican.  "Clear science be hanged!
Wet science was what did it.  If it hadn't been for the rain, my
little Duke, I should have been in London within a week, my
grenadiers would have been camping in your Rue Peekadeely, and the
Old Guard all over everywhere else."

"You must have had a gay army, then,"  laughed Caesar.  "What are
French soldiers made of, that they can't stand the wet--unshrunk
linen or flannel?"

"Bah!" observed Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders and walking a few
paces away.  "You do not understand the French.  The Frenchman is not
a pell-mell soldier like you Romans; he is the poet of arms; he does
not go in for glory at the expense of his dignity; style, form, is
dearer to him than honor, and he has no use for fighting in the wet
and coming out of the fight conspicuous as a victor with the curl out
of his feathers and his epaulets rusted with the damp.  There is no
glory in water.  But if we had had umbrellas and mackintoshes, as
every Englishman who comes to the Continent always has, and a bath-
tub for everybody, then would your Waterloo have been different
again, and the great democracy of Europe with a Bonaparte for emperor
would have been founded for what the Americans call the keeps; and as
for your little Great Britain, ha! she would have become the
Blackwell's Island of the Greater France."

"You're almost as funny as Punch isn't," drawled Wellington, with an
angry gesture at Bonaparte.  "You weren't within telephoning distance
of victory all day.  We simply played with you, my boy.  It was a
regular game of golf for us.  We let you keep up pretty close and win
a few holes, but on the home drive we had you beaten in one stroke.
Go to, my dear Bonaparte, and stop talking about the flood."

"It's a lucky thing for us that Noah wasn't a Frenchman, eh?" said
Frederick the Great.  "How that rain would have fazed him if he had
been!  The human race would have been wiped out."

"Oh, pshaw!" ejaculated Noah, deprecating the unseemliness of the
quarrel, and putting his arm affectionately about Bonaparte's
shoulder.  "When you come down to that, I was French--as French as
one could be in those days--and these Gallic subjects of my friend

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