26 Aug 2015
This adorable holiday tale of an Americanized son of Watson playing with the son of Sherlock appeared in the Dec. 25 edition of the Chicago Sunday Tribune. This is an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes Edwardian Parodies and Pastiches I: 1900-1904, just published from Peschel Press.
I am in the process of writing about the 10 stories I particularly liked from the collection. I wrote the first post here. “Sherlock Holmes Jr. Meets Santa Claus” is on that list, so instead of writing about it, I thought I’d print it here with the book’s brief introduction above and the footnotes below (the photo of Gillette in his smoking jacket is a bonus).
There are a number of parodies (and even a movie or two) that turned the clock back on Holmes. This one I particularly liked. It hit the tropes one expected from a SH story, and managed to be charming and of its time as well.
Sherlock Holmes, Jr., Meets Santa Claus
The Watson boy enters the Sherlock Holmes woodshed and found Sherlock Holmes, Jr. busily engaged deducing the fact that there was a wood pile in front of him, and he was expected to saw and split enough fuel to last a week.
“Sherl,” said the Watson boy, “do you believe in Santa Claus?”
“Do I believe it? Cert. Why, don’t you know how I got on his trail last Christmas and ran him down?”
“No! You didn’t tell me about it. How was it?”
“Well, pa an’ ma had been telling me all the time that I ought to be a good boy an’ do all the chores as quick and well as I could and go to bed early an’ all that sort of thing, an’ so I did just like pa does when he begins deducing.”
The Watson boy sat down on the sawbuck and looked at Sherlock Holmes, Jr. with undisguised admiration.
“What did you deduce?” he asked.
“In the first place I didn’t deduce anything until Christmas day. The night before, I hung up my stocking like I always do, an’ then I went to bed an’ kept one eye open.”
“One eye open?”
“Yep, that’s the way all good detectives sleep, you know.”
“My! Wasn’t you afraid something would drop in your eye?”
“No, of course not. So along about midnight, I heard stealthy footsteps in the hail. Now I reasoned to myself, there can’t be footsteps without feet to make them. And there can’t be feet without they belong to someone?”
“There’s three feet in a yard,” argued the Watson boy.
“But they don’t make footsteps,” scornfully replied the Holmes boy. “They can’t make footsteps, can they?”
The Watson boy was silenced and the other resumed.
“So I kept on listening, and pretty soon the footsteps got right close to my room an’ I hopped out of bed an’ ran to the door.”
“What did you see? Did you see Santa Claus?”
“No, I saw pa there in his pajamas. He had his arms full of toys and things.”
“So it was him that you heard?”
“No, I told him what I had been listening to an’ how I had reasoned it all out, an’ he patted me on the head and said I’d make a great detective some day, an’ that he had heard the same thing an’ had come to the hall to investigate, and there was Santa Claus sure as you live, an’ pa said he took the presents from Santa Claus an’ was bringing them to me.”
“But that don’t prove there is a Santa Claus,” said the Watson boy from his place on the sawbuck.
“It don’t? Look here, pa took me out in the yard the next morning an’ showed me where Santa had slid around in the snow before he got into the house, an’ went through a long string of talk just like he does to your pa when he is ferreting out some big mystery, an’ by jinks, pa had it all dead to rights about Santa.”
“But how did you deduce?”
“Easy. Pa’s been busted ever since, and ma didn’t get a single thing she wanted, an’ pa got a smoking jacket that fits him like a baby’s shirt would, an’ don’t look the least like the one Gillette wears, an’ a pair of slippers built for steamboat awnings; so there must be a Santa Claus. Because nobody else but a stranger would come around at night an’ leave such a lot of misfits.”
[Back] Sawbuck: A sawhorse with X-shaped ends used to hold wood while it is being sawn.
[Back] Gillette: A reference to William Gillette, the actor-producer who popularized Holmes on the stage.