In my view, the deductive capacity of Sherlock Holmes has no paragon in the history of Criminology. Sometimes it would be said that he possessed psychic powers, and that it was through such powers that he guessed things. And now that I’ve brought psychic powers up, let me tell you an episode that personally made me put my hair on end.
From time to time, Holmes and I used to go for a walk late at night. The streets were calmer and lent themselves more to reflection and relaxed conversation. Well, there was an itinerary we frequented. We left Baker Street, took Marylebone Road, then along Kilburn High Road, to finally reach the Thames as it passed through Chelsea.
In the course of this itinerary a curious phenomenon happened every time. When we passed a house that overlooked Paddington Basin, it fell at our feet a roasted hazelnut. Obviously, after experiencing this phenomenon a certain number of times, we were already forewarned and looked up trying to determine where “the gift” came from. (Holmes didn’t like hazelnuts but I ate it with delight.) The strange thing is that the hazelnut came out of a window without us seeing anyone throw it, which did not prevent the hazelnut from falling right at our feet, as if someone were looking out the window waiting for the right moment to throw the hazelnut. But no one was seen in the window.
At first, we tried not to overestimate the phenomenon, but since the hazelnuts pitcher never missed the shot, we began to wonder what the key to that mystery should be. To test the hazelnuts pitcher, one night Holmes snatched from my mouth the roasted hazelnut that I was going to eat and threw it back through the window where it had come from. We waited impatiently to see what would happen next. I expected the pitcher to throw the hazelnut again, because my mouth had already anticipated the pleasure of tasting it. However, that was not what happened… but a much more intriguing and frightening thing!
A whitish haze leaned out the window and we stared open-mouthed how that haze shook menacingly what seemed to be an arm while we heard a squeaky voice that was giving us a dressing-down. The whitish shadow withdrew and after a moment of paralysis because of the stupefaction, Holmes and I looked at each other with our eyes wide open and we both burst into a hysterical giggle. I don’t know what Holmes’ emotions would be, but I can say that, for my part, that hysterical giggle hid what was really the fear of the supernatural, a fear that had already assaulted me one night when, being in my bed, a kind of pixie with a beret jumped on me and forced me to recite the multiplication table for five.
After that, we went the next morning expressly to that house to make inquiries. And what we found out didn’t leave me calmer. It turned out that in the apartment from whose window we were thrown roasted hazelnuts had died a few months ago a roasted hazelnuts’ street-corner seller.
From then on, Holmes and I carefully avoid going through that stretch of street although that meant going a roundabout route.