Tag Archives: theft

THE CASE OF THE STOLEN PIG

9 Aug

Considering the wide range of my intellectual pursuits, there’s one thing that I can never understand, Watson,” said Holmes as he fiddled with the bridge of his violin.

Only one?” I murmured quizzically.

Only one,” he concurred, “and that is womankind. “And by womankind I mean all of that species!”

I looked up at him from my newspaper. “If that’s the only subject you get flummoxed by then I must admit it’s a mighty big subject and not even I can comprehend every corner of it,” I told him. “Women, in my opinion, have been specially designed by whoever designs such things to mystify the male of the species for reasons best known to that whoever. Yet they are certainly, on the whole, quite delightful and have charms that can quite envelop a man.”

By designer you mean God?” asked Holmes, almost sneering at me.

I’ve seen enough evil to have my doubts about that fellow,” I said seriously. And I had. The wars that rage across so beautiful a planet as we are blessed to live on are testament to that, and the cruelties inflicted during barbarous campaigns on the innocent are enough to make a sensible want want to curse the very idea of gods..

Tell me, then, one thing about ladies that I might comprehend,” he asked. “and don’t hide your ignorance by mentioning those physical attributes that all can see with their eyes half-closed, for I am certainly aware of those having normally got my eyes fully open!”

I wouldn’t be so crude, Holmes,” I said to him. “The most obvious thing about women is their generosity.”

But I can be generous,” smiled Holmes. “Take that case last week, the one of the stolen pig. You recall it?”

I’ve not long finished composing my exposition on it,” I told him. “In which,” I added, “you turn out rather well!”

Then you will know that Farmer Todge called on my services on account of him being short of one pig when he came to tally his sty of pigs. Solving his mystery was a messy job, as you will recall, but in a day and a half I had lambasted the swine who was causing poor old Todge so much grief. I was, you see, fully aware that the missing pig represented a great part of the man’s wealth, and that to lose a pig in his world is probably worse than a prince losing a coronet in his.”

So you explained to me at the time, Holmes,” I said.

I recall, Watson. Therefore, bearing in mind the apparently disproportionate value of the pig I applied all of my mental resources to solving the riddle. You will recall how we set a trap on the assumption that the thief … for I was sure a human thief rather than fox or other predatory creaturo was involved … would return for more booty once he had run out of pork at home.”

You worked hard on the case,” I confirmed.

Then you will recall how I disguised myself as a scarecrow, adapting stinking garments that I bought off Tramp Joe for more than they were worth, and stood in a field casting my eyes on both crows and pigs for the best part of two whole days and nights until I spied the thief sneaking onto Farmer Todge’s land and approaching his best pigsty.”

I was with you for some of the time, Holmes,” I nodded, “and when I couldn’t actually see you I could most certainly smell you!”

And so I apprehended the thief. It was, you will recall, the widow Grouty. She has seven children all under twelve and all eternally hungry and was widowed two months ago when her husband fell into a grinder and got … er, ground into mince. It was most unpleasant for him but more unpleasant for her because he knew no more and was thus untroubled by matters pertaining to this world whilst she had the welfare of seven brats to attend to for years to come.”

I recall, Holmes,” I sighed, “and I agreed with you when you decided that natural justice runs contrary to the laws of the land in circumstances like that.”

I did indeed, Watson, and I’ve no doubt that you agreed. Thus it was, then, that the two oldest Grouty boys found employment on a pig farm and the pig farmer found himself engaging two needy lads at a fraction of what it would have cost for him to engage a fully grown labourer. And, despite the hardships I had gone through and the several steaming baths I required afterwards to eliminate the stench of Tramp Joe’s filthy rags from my skin, I refused payment for the case on the understanding that Farmer Todge used those funds to provide small extras to the widow, like the odd small pork joint or part of a side of bacon.”

That was indeed kind, Holmes,” I said, “and I am sure to emphasise the very generosity you displayed when I conclude my account for the Strand magazine.”

So how can you say that a lady is generous in terms that imply that a man is not?” demanded Holmes.

I thought for a moment. Then I smiled. “A woman,” I said, “will suffer great indignity when she is led to believe that in all ways her husband is her superior. She has been taught since her birth that men are both physically and mentally superior to women, that if you educate girls to the point of their gaining university degrees their heads may well explode and all sense go away and they will need to spend the remainder of their days in an asylum! And she has accepted this lowly place, has accepted the many inferences that she is inferior, and done it without rancour and gall.”

You believe, do you Watson, that ladies are equal to men in these matters?” asked Holmes. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an absurdity in all of my life! The female gender is a breeding machine, plain and simple and no more and no less than that. She nurtures the young. She feeds her offspring. She cares for them, and then, when her work is done she grows old and weary and has little more left in her life than to feed her man, who is still sturdy and strong and filled with the enthusiasm his toil demands.”

One thing, Holmes,” I said.

Yes, Watson?”

What would you say and what would you do if you discovered Mrs Hudson lurking in the shadows over there, hanging on to your every word…” I pointed towards his dressing room … “and that she was still listening to your every last syllable?”

What would I say?” asked Holmes, “I would say nothing for I would be too busy doing …”

You would? What might that be?” I asked.

I would be running as quickly as I could down the stairs and onto Baker Street, and not stop until I was certain she had stopped pursuing me with a weighted rolling pin in her hands…”

Just as well she isn’t there then, Holmes,” I said.

He was about to add something to his argument when the door opened and Mrs Hudson stood there, one hand behind her back whilst the other rested on the door knob.

Did you know Sherlock,” she said quietly, “that there is a vent that distributes fresh air throughout this house, and if I am standing by the opening in my parlour I can hear every word spoken up here?”

Er…” he stammered, and she pulled the hand from behind her back, revealing that she was holding a porcelain rolling pin by one heavy wooden handle.

© Peter Rogerson 28.07.17