Sunday, December 24, 2017


I said I would have more time for blogging during Christmas break...but..obviously, that didn't happen! However, I have not disappeared from the face of the earth. Today I wish only to say:


I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a happy New Year! Here is my favorite little video to share with people at Christmas time, I hope you enjoy! :)

We also just watched this movie again: such a lovely film. It is such a beautiful story, well-told and well-acted--really makes me appreciate the story of the Nativity over again every time I watch it. Growing up in a Christian home, sometimes I think we get so used to the story of baby Jesus in a manger that we shrug our shoulders and go on to the next thing, but this movie really helps remind me of how important those first few chapters of each gospel really are. Of course no movie is perfect (for example, in the film, the Wise Men arrive at the stable right after Jesus' birth, not later), but I feel that this is well done, and I seldom say that about Bible movies. Also, some of the soundtrack is simply beautiful. I definitely recommend this as a Christmas movie if you have not seen it.

Image result for the nativity story

That's all, folks! Merry Christmas!! :D


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

ACK! *screams and runs in circles* You guuuuuuyyys!!!! I just got back from the theater from watching "The Last Jedi."

Pretty much what I've been doing for the past half hour.
IT WAS SO GOOD!!! I can't even quite put my finger on WHY it was so good, but, wow...well done. Basically, it starts right where "The Force Awakens" left off and continues everything from there. I'm not going to do a plot synopsis, because that would be boring, but I am going to talk about the characters and the content.

First, Luke Skywalker (!!!). So, Luke is pretty much still as Luke-ish as ever. He's obviously older and grimmer, but he still has that crookedly messed-up nose. He did get pretty 'forcey' with all that balderdash about dark and light and balance, but you know, other than that, it was great to have Luke back. There were some great moments with him and Rey on the island. AND THE DUEL SCENE WITH KYLO! Spoilers! even though Luke was only there in ghost form and not actually physically dueling...I'm still not sure how that worked, but oh well. I would have liked a showdown with Snoke and Luke, but it was not to be. BUT THEN HE DISINTEGRATED! WHY? End spoilers.

Leia: she is still the same ol' Leia. She was a lot stronger with the force than in the previous episodes and somehow survived being in space with no protection or anything (?) It was a little sad for everyone, I think, after Carrie Fischer died and now we see Leia again. She's a serious, kind of a sad character--especially now that Han longer with us (sniff sniff). She and Luke are finally reunited and the first thing she says: "I know what you're going to say. I did something different with my hair." (or something like that). :) 

Rey: The same 'spunky,' strong girl from "The Force Awakens" who is only now learning her full potential and about the 'true meaning of the force,' and all that jazz. I liked Rey because even though she is strong and somewhat independent, she cares about the others, even seeing the hope left in Kylo Ren, and trying to bring it out. She's not the sort of person who gives up easily. 

Finn: He is still a little cowardly and ignorant at times, almost running away from the Resistance and giving up hope, but in the end he's willing to do whatever it takes to beat the bad guys. I mean, there's not a whole lot to say about Finn. He does meet Rose, the Resistance pilot (who is a new character) and they find they have a lot in common (oooooOOOOOhhhhhh) and learn things from working with each other. He does have an amazing duel with Captain Phasma (who apparently was not put in a trash compactor as we thought). So I'm going to put the character of Rose in here as well; she's a pilot who helps immensely in blowing stuff up, etc. She is so excited to meet Finn, the hero, and then is devastated to learn he is deserting from the Resistance. So she zaps him with some sort of taser thingy. She has a sad backstory of her home being taken over by people who sell weapons to whoever pays the highest and loves animals, and I think she's summed up by one of her lines: "You don't destroy what you hate. You protect what you love." Obviously, she and Finn are destined for each other. :P

Poe. YOU GUYS!!!!! Poe was even better in this than the first one (although he should watch his language sometimes...)!!!! I was a little surprised that a white male character would have a strong, positive leading role, and was glad of it. Poe is still a levelheaded, skilled fighter and pilot with a very strong belief in his Resistance, always planning some way to blow up the bad guys. Leia and a couple other upper officers in the Resistance get mad at him, because he's always trying to blow stuff up and not counting the losses (actually Leia demotes him, which is pretty funny). He can be very headstrong and reckless, almost taking over the trigger-happy, smart-alec attitude of Han. Y'all, Poe is the best. He just seems like a Good Guy and is probably the most "real" character, because he makes mistakes and such. He is still best of friends with Finn (and BB-8), and finally meets Rey (hahahahahaha, maniacal laugh!) and GUYS I think I might have been right about them after all! ("I'm Poe."--"I'm Rey."--"I know." BWA-HA-HA!) Anyway, Poe is great, even if his plans aren't always thought out that well...

Kylo Ren: *cries* 

Spoiler paragraph!! Seriously, though. Kylo makes me sad. The POOR GUY!!! He and Rey are constantly force-telepathy-ing and she knows there's good in him still. Then Rey comes to meet Snoke and Kylo is supposed to kill Rey, and and and and AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH that was such a good scene!!!! We're still unsure about his true feelings, but he's a very mixed-up person. So much conflict! It's like he can't decide whether he's good or bad! He says that he wants to be neither and end the Jedi, the Sith, the Resistance, the First Order, just be none of those, but...I don't know. He knows he can never escape from what he's done to his father. End spoilers. We finally get some insight on HOW he turned bad, how it came to be when Luke was training him. That was helpful information. 

So that's about all I have. Of course Chewbacca, the droids, the other bad guys, and such are all there. They're pretty much unchanged. 

CONTENT: There were a few not-so-nice words thrown in, mostly courtesy of Poe. I think he had about three or so, and there may have been a couple I missed. The Plugged In Review gives more detail, but they go into more depth about things than I would have noticed by watching it. Of course there's violence, it's Star Wars. I'll let you read the Plugged In thing for a more full content guide, but I do think they tend to over-analyze things. There is the whole issue with "the religion of the Force," but I just treat that as "all pretend," and even though I wish it wasn't such a prevalent issue, I can still enjoy the movie. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It was well worth seeing and I'll probably be willing to see it in theaters again! The characters are memorable, the plot is interesting, the action is good, and the movie itself is visually pleasing. GO WATCH IT NOW!!! 

Even though we all miss Han...
And here's a poem for you guys. ;)
Have you seen "The Last Jedi" yet? 
Like it or no? 
Planning to see it? 
Comment below! 


Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Things...

You can probably tell that this post is going to be about the new look/name of my blog. And, in part, it is. I have renamed it "Bookends and Bwopper-Eels" because that is much easier to say than my previous name, "The Blog of Iorlh." And I like it better. I've also done a bit of visual redesign as you can see, as well as going through and doing a bit of editing on my "about" pages and suchlike.

So, if there is anything you like or don't like (be honest!), or anything you would like to see added, let me know!

Now, on to other things. New things. (Don't get too excited.)

This semester was my first semester of college at Oakland University. I was majoring in music performance, but a few weeks in, I was beginning to wonder, "Is this really what I want to do? I didn't think it would be like this." Due to several reasons, I have now changed my major to creative writing, with a minor in music (that way my credits still count!). I am officially one of "those people" who change their majors.

Not gonna lie, I have been worried that people would be disappointed in me for changing my major and that I wouldn't be able to give them a satisfactory reason WHY I changed. I usually just explain that I hate practicing my instrument (who knew, right?). I have never picked up my flute and practiced 'for fun,' at least not that I remember. I've always practiced because I Had To; I love to PLAY the flute but not to PRACTICE the flute. And being at school, completely absorbed in music as if that was the only thing I'd ever do, I realized, "I don't want this." It seems like, to be a professional musician, there are so many things you have to sacrifice: your time for family and anything else, your energy, your enjoyment of anything else has to be ignored. Unless music is the very love of your's hard. And don't get me wrong, I'll always love music! I'll always keep playing my flute, but I don't have the desire to be a professional musician.

I believe there are more important things--and to be honest, sometimes I struggled with having time for Bible study and my faith, feeling like I'm treating that as just another class that I want to get a good grade on. So many musicians (not all) have such messed-up lives in so many ways, and that has really discouraged and disappointed me. Not that I would be like that, but...I just couldn't do it. I can't sacrifice my faith and my family for music. And I guess that, in my heart, I always knew it would come down to a choice between writing and music. Now that choice has been made.

I'l probably still feel guilty about this when I'm 87 years old, but, when I finally decided it was a huge relief to know what I was doing. I don't know if this has made any sense at all. But it's been done. I only have two more days and the first semester of college is gone. The fact that I'm taking Thorin's advice helps a little...

That's all. That's what's new...other than the fact that we decorated for Christmas and I'm SO READY for it! Also there are like 7 inches of snow outside right now...but that's all beside the point. Happy end-of-exams-week, and goodbye for now! I go to study German! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Pardon My Dust...Work in Progress

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you know that (obviously) I'm working on updating my blog's look. Things will be changing like crazy around here until I get it right, so, don't mind the mess. :)

And here's the saddest song ever, just for you. I don't know what moof-milker got the idea to put Sherlock pictures to this song, but it's the only YouTube recording (other than live, blech) out there, so that's all I've got for you.... Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving! A Sherlock Holmes Story....

Hello everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! I'm not going to say too much to introduce this, but I thought that now would be a good time to share a story with whoever wants to read it. You can read it over Thanksgiving Break or wait till Christmas, or whenever you want (I mean, or you don't have to read it and you can just skim...)

This is a short story (by 'short' I mean about 10 pages in size 12 font, so BE WARNED) about a child Sherlock Holmes. I wrote it a year or so ago and it was really the only fun school assignment I've had in a long time. I tried to keep in the spirit of the original books, but I felt it was a fall-ish, cozy sort of story. Please enjoy! Let me know what you think, either positive or negative--I am planning to submit this to my school's journal to see if they'll publish it, but we'll see! I would appreciate feedback from any Sherlock fans (or non-fans)! Anyway, here it is.

Note: Please don't steal is my own original work and that would be supremely rude. If you steal it I'll send Watson after you with his revolver. 


The Case of the Doubled Violin

Dear Dr. John Watson,

            Doubtless you remember meeting me during these years of your involvement in my brother’s escapades.  During the term of our short acquaintance, it has come to my attention that perhaps you, Doctor, would wish to hear more particulars of Sherlock’s youth and upbringing.  My brother, as you very well should know, does not often speak of himself, and even more seldom is the time when he speaks of himself before the age of thirty; there is no reason for him to tell you of his youth.  However, seeing as you are really the only man I could honestly call a friend of Sherlock, I am determined to tell you at least what I consider to be the beginning of my brother’s career.  It did not begin, as he thinks, in the case of the Gloria Scott in his college years.  I have seen your own account of my brother’s tale of the case—“the first in which I was ever engaged”—and the absurdity of this statement nearly makes me laugh.  Excuse me, Doctor, but I simply must speak my mind, and my brother is quite wrong about this.  Though it is true that the Gloria Scott was perhaps the first case Sherlock formally undertook and was asked to partake in, the very first case in which I recall his input took place when he was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old.

            At that time, my brother and I lived together (seeing as I was his legal guardian, I could not escape that) in a small apartment—the street and address are unimportant, and it is far too much work to bother recording them.  In these days, I did hardly anything to interfere with Sherlock’s education; he schooled himself and took care of himself without my help.  If one of us were to go out and be away from home for the day or even several days, the other would never worry; in this way, it hardly seemed that we lived together for all that we interacted.  Nobody bothered us, and we went about our simple lives, I working and Sherlock studying in his own manner, for many a year.  However, it was impossible for us to remain completely detached from the world and people around us.

            I had received an invitation from an old friend of our late father’s, a certain Mr. William Harris, who was at that time the owner of the finest theatre in London, of which I am certain you are aware, but which I do not feel inclined to waste ink explaining.  Mr. Harris wished us to be his guests on that Friday afternoon to tour the backstage of his theatre and be introduced to the guest performer; a very virtuosic violinist named Giovanni Andolini (he is still a musician of great renown today, Doctor, if the subject interests you).  Mr. Harris, and the theatre at large, was in that day in possession of one of the finest and most valuable violins in the world; an instrument made in 1725 by Antonio Stradivarius, who as perhaps you will recall, is the greatest of all renowned stringed-instrument makers.  The instrument’s worth was estimated to be in the vicinity of eight hundred thousand pounds, and of course any performer invited to play upon that violin considered it a great honor.  From reading Mr. Harris’s invitation, it sounded as if the owner of the theatre was as excited (if not more excited, ridiculous fellow) than the performer.

             I dislike my parents’ old friends in general, but there was no very respectable way for me to evade this invitation.  Mr. Harris stated that his son and grandson were to accompany us on our tour as well, and speculated that my brother and the youngest Harris might enjoy each other’s company.  This is the most foolish speculation about Sherlock that I perhaps have ever heard, but the prospect of seeing his interaction with an average schoolboy amused me, and as a result I agreed to come, bringing my brother with me.

            When I opened the curtains in Sherlock’s room to wake him at noon on Friday (he had already developed queer sleeping habits as you must know—staying up nights in a row to work on some project and then sleeping for over twelve hours to make up for it), he opened one eye in curiosity, looking very displeased with me and with the sunlight.  I said nothing until he asked, “What on earth do you have planned?”

            “It is our sad obligation,” said I, “to visit an old friend of our parents’ at the theatre.”

            “Mr. Harris, then?”

            “Yes,” I replied.  “Now get up and make yourself presentable.”  Despite my brother’s grumbling and my own displeasure, we were soon on the way to the theatre.  It was not a long distance from where we lived and the weather was fine that day, so we walked.  The theatre was a very grand affair, tall and impressive from the front entrance—one could tell simply at a glance that great pains were taken to preserve the appearance of the place.  As instructed in the invitation, we walked around to the back entrance and were shocked—I can honestly say it was one of the most surprising moments in my life—to see several police guarding the door, along with another group arriving at that moment, alighting from a cab.  A tall, grey-suited gentleman with a brisk step was speaking to the guards and directing one of them to take a large parcel from the delivery-boy.  It was evident from this man’s bearing that he was in a position of authority, but he was not old enough to be the owner of the theatre, and so it was evident that he was the younger Mr. Harris, and the well-dressed young man following him was his son.

            They took notice of us as we watched the scene and quickly approached.  “You must be Mr. Mycroft Holmes,” the gentleman said in a refined tone that reflected his appearance.  “I apologize for your surprise at seeing the police here, but we are all in an uproar.  Please, let me introduce myself.  I am Brendan Harris, and this is my son Eliot.  My father is inside waiting for you.” 

            We shook hands as I introduced myself and Sherlock.  “There has been a theft of some sort?” I questioned.

            “I can explain once we are safely indoors,” said Harris. Trying to engage my stony, silent younger brother in some pleasantries, he asked, “Have you any interest in the musical arts, Sherlock?”  He spoke in the tone of kind condescension which is most often used by adults trying to flatter or intrigue children.

            “At times,” my brother replied with cool disinterest.  I had not bothered much to teach Sherlock how best to interact politely in society, because he had never needed teaching.  Simply from observing other people, my brother had learned how to behave well (as well as how to behave badly) and, as you yourself know, Doctor, he now has the skill to act in any way which becomes his surroundings.  From this kind of self-teaching, he has acquired a strange sort of nonchalance in his everyday manner, and even at the time of this story, this attitude was developing.  “I see you have just come from a piano lesson,” he commented to Eliot.

            Young Eliot Harris blinked in stupidity (please excuse my rudeness, but that is the very first thing that I decided about the young man:  how very indistinct and dull his character was).  “How can you tell that?” he asked Sherlock in a voice that was still the high, unchanged voice of a lad approximately twelve years old.

            “It’s quite obvious,” my brother returned.  “You carry a folder filled with music and, from the corner of that page sticking out I can see that it is a page of piano exercises.  Your fingers are tapping restlessly as if you are taking great pains to remember something your teacher taught you.  And further, that clay-like mud on your shoes and your father’s shoes is the unmistakable mud of Ainsley Street, which of course is where your music school is located.”  Sherlock could have continued, I knew, but it was not the time or the place, and Harris seemed eager to go inside.

            “Bright young fellow,” he laughed.  I was in a terribly bored and bothered mood, but it was made even worse by his laugher; people who laughed at intelligence and at my brother irked and wearied me.  “Come, follow me,” continued Harris.  “I will take you to my father.”  He led us through the backstage entrance and through several cluttered, dimly lit hallways.  The theatre was surprisingly dingy in the places not frequented by paying guests.

            Mr. William Harris was sitting in his office, surrounded by guards and a police inspector.  Sherlock and I were obliged to wait in the dim hallway while the younger Harris, along with Eliot, went in to speak with his father.  He and his son returned, both pale faced and visibly shaken.
            “Something has been done in that office that I can hardly bear, and that I know my father cannot,” Mr. Brendan Harris said, shaking his head.  “You doubtless know of the valuable violin of which our theatre was in possession?”

            “Yes, the Brancaccio Stradivarius,” I replied.  “We are familiar with it.  It has been stolen?”

            “Not just a theft took place,” he said, shaking his head, “but a murder as well.”

            Eliot, who had been shocked and quiet so far, quickly spoke.  “Yes, and the body is still lying just inside the office!” he cried, shuddering.  “The inspector says that the criminal came in and shot the guard, and then opened Grandfather’s safe before running away.”

            “Eliot is correct, unfortunately,” Brendan Harris said.  “They have no way to track the thief, or the instrument for that matter.  I’m sorry you have come at this unfortunate time, but if you wish to come in to see my father, you may.”

            “Yes, we shall come in,” I said.  “It would be a pity to leave without seeing him.”  This I said, as you may imagine, not out of sincerity, but obligation.

            Brendan Harris nodded.  “Come then.”  The guard posted outside of the door opened it and we were led inside.  There were only two guards and one police inspector inside, as well as a stout, pale old man with very grand moustaches sitting at his desk with his head in his hands.  The room was a fine, well-decorated one, quite tidy and smelling strongly of pipe-smoke.  There was nothing unordinary about it save the large safe which was left open on the wall just behind the desk and the seated man.  It seemed that the only thing of interest in the room was the dead man’s body which lay upon the floor.  It was lying upon its face, with arms bent beneath the heavy chest and legs stretched out behind it.

            “Is this how the body was found?” my brother suddenly asked, breaking the silence of the office.

            The eldest Mr. Harris looked up with a very strained and weary face.  “Oh, Mr. Holmes,” he said to me.  “And your brother.  It would be very good to see you if we were not faced by such circumstances as we are this day.  Please forgive me if I do not seem pleased.”
            “Quite all right,” I said, glad of an excuse for myself to seem less pleased as well.

            “Eliot?” Brendan softly said.  “Would you run down the hallway and see if Mr. Andolini is in?”  The boy nodded and, after depositing his folder of music on his grandfather’s desk, and with one last white-faced glance at the corpse on the ground, left to do his father’s bidding.

            Sherlock was looking about the room, irritated that nobody had answered his question a moment ago.  “Has the body been inspected?” he asked.

            “Yes it has,” the police inspector replied.  “We put it back into the position in which it was found after inspection and we are waiting for an official detective from Scotland Yard.  In my eyes, however, it appears that he was guarding the room as Mr. Harris went to speak with the stagehands and the thief saw his opportunity.  He shot the guard and entered the room to steal the violin.”

            Sherlock almost gave a snort of contempt, but restrained himself. So that he wouldn’t seem to be excessively presumptuous, I asked, “What is your name, sir?”

            “Inspector Johnathan Hillston,” he answered, and shook my hand.

            “Mycroft Holmes,” I said.  “And this is my brother Sherlock.  Has the general public been told about the crime?”

            “No,” the inspector told us.  “Mr. Harris is hoping to go on with the concert this evening even if the violin is not found.”

            The theatre owner raised his head.  “It would be a terrible pity to cancel when Giovanni has come all this way and after all our preparation.  Think of the guests who have already purchased tickets—no, I am determined that the concert must go on, though Giovanni will have to play his own instrument instead.” 

            I nodded, and Sherlock looked up at me quizzically.  “Mycroft?” he asked.  I simply looked down at him, and that gave him the answer that he needed.  We did not speak much to each other, and had the peculiar ability to understand what the other meant without speech.  (Even now, a look or an expression is enough for us to communicate, as you yourself have perhaps observed, Watson.)

            My brother stepped forward.  “Do you mind if I look about?” he asked the inspector.

            “Just so long as you do not touch the body,” Inspector Hillston answered, and Sherlock began prowling.  He did not seem to care that the police were watching him with something between amusement and amazement.

            Brendan Harris moved closer to the desk where his father sat rubbing his head in dismay.  “Father, can I get you anything?” he asked in a low voice.  “What is to be done?”

            “There is really only one course of action to be taken,” Mr. Harris said, both to his son and to Hillston.  “The general public shall know nothing of this at present.  Keep the police working day and night to find the criminal, and above all, we must go on with the concert.”

            “Excuse me, Mr. Harris,” Sherlock suddenly interposed.  “Inspector Hillston, this man was not shot from the hallway.”

            “What?” cried the inspector.  “What on earth are you speaking of?”

            “If this is how he was found,” my brother continued, and suddenly he was the center of the attention in the room, “he must have been shot from inside this office.  You doubtless see how he has fallen over upon his hands and the bullet wound is not visible from his back, therefore he must have been shot from the front.  However, if he had been shot in this way by someone outside, in the hallway, he would have fallen either onto his back or out into the hallway.  As we can see, he fell upon his hands into the room, which naturally means that he was shot by someone close to the desk, perhaps even in the act of removing the instrument from the safe.”

            The inspector, guards, and both Harris men looked at Sherlock in amazement.  “I had not thought of that,” Inspector Hillston said.  “Now that you mention it, however, it makes perfect sense.  Wonderful lad!”

            “Then who could have stolen the violin?” Brendan asked.  “Who was able to get in and, by mere chance, find my father not in his office?”

            “An even better question,” the elder Harris said, “is how they could know where the key to my safe was kept.”

            “Where was it kept?” Sherlock asked.  “There are many places in this room suitable for a key to be hidden.”

            Mr. Harris lifted a wearied hand and pointed at his coat, hanging upon a peg on the wall.  “It is in the inside pocket,” he said.  “I could not imagine how the thief found out about it; he could not simply have found it at that moment.  The theft had to be planned by someone who knew where it is.”

            “Very true,” said Sherlock.

            At that moment, young Eliot Harris burst into the office, breathless and quite excited.  It was unnecessary to ask what the matter was, for he quickly exclaimed, “They’ve found the violin!  It was Mr. Andolini all along!”

            “Come, then!” ordered Inspector Hillston, and started for the door.  All followed him save two guards and the elder Mr. Harris, who remained at his desk, rubbing his face with great agitation.  He asked that we go on without him, as he was far too distraught to keep up.

            Sherlock and I followed the others to the Italian musician’s dressing room, where several policemen were standing about, both inside and outside the room.  On entering, we were greeted by the violinist, who sat upon a stool under close guard, with a long, open box upon a table before him and his wrists cuffed.  He had a young, olive-coloured face and looked the epitome of an Italian with his dark eyes and great mass of curly black hair.

            “Here it is, Sir,” one of the policemen said, stepping back so that our party could see the box.  “The thief is here as well—he will not admit to the crime, however, and—”

            Before the policeman could speak further, Andolini interrupted.  “I can swear that I did not steal the instrument!” he cried in his accented, flute-like voice.  “I was to play it at the concert tonight; can I have had any possible reason for stealing it before the performance?  If I had planned a theft, I would have stolen it after tonight.”

            “He has an excellent point,” Sherlock remarked in an offhand way when the Italian had finished.

            Inspector Hillston looked as if he was becoming rather irritated with my brother.  “Who do you think you are, lad?  You imagine you could solve this case better than the London police?”

            “Oh, no,” my brother demurely conceded.  “Carry on.”  It was such an ironic moment for myself, Doctor, hearing my young brother tell the police to carry on, as if giving them permission, that I nearly burst out laughing.  However, I did not, and sat down in one of the several chairs about the room, waiting for them to finish their investigations.  By this time, I had come to a conclusion about who the thief and murderer truly was, but it would have taken far too much effort on my part to prove the fact and I did not feel in the least bit inclined.  I knew that Sherlock would solve the case and so I let him handle matters, Watson.  I could at this moment tell you exactly who the culprit was and how the person managed everything, but I believe you would rather hear the story exactly as it unfolded so as not to overshadow my brother’s part in this case.  Therefore, I will keep my own conclusions to myself and the only comment I will make about them is that I was correct, as you shall see.

            The interrogation of Giovanni Andolini resumed when Mr. Brendan Harris asked, “Do you know where the key to my father’s safe is hidden?”

            The violinist’s face became flushed at this.  “I do,” he replied honestly.  “I heard where it was kept on accident when Mr. Harris’ door was open and I passed by yesterday.  You and he were talking of where he kept it; joking about how the best hiding places were seemingly the least safe, but in his coat pocket it was safer than the safe itself.  You must not have heard me walking by.”

            “I see,” Hillston said, continuing the questions.  “Mr. Andolini, you knew the violin was kept in Mr. Harris’ safe, did you not?”

            “I did,” replied Andolini.  “May I—I wish to say that I understand this looks as if I was indeed the thief and the murderer, but I swear upon anything in the world that I had nothing to do with any of this.  A messenger arrived at my door several minutes ago with this box you see on the table and when I opened it, there was the missing violin.”

            The inspector looked up from his paper.  “Sir, the evidence we have is impossible to disprove.  This is the aforementioned violin, is it not?”

            Young Eliot Harris had his eyes fixed upon the instrument.  With the box lying open upon the table throughout the conversation, we had all been able to get a very careful look at the precious violin, though to my eyes it had no great beauty.  “It certainly looks like it,” the youngest Harris remarked.  “But I think—it has been a long while since I saw it last—but I think that perhaps the wood was a rather different colour.”

            “A different colour, what do you mean?” his father asked.  “Indeed, I do not think so.”

            “Neither do I, though I wish I could agree with the boy,” Andolini sighed.

            “It was only a very slightly different shade,” Eliot said when Inspector Hillston gestured for him to continue.  “There is something about it that looks a very little bit different to me.”

            “Different light, perhaps?” the inspector suggested.  Eliot looked intently at the instrument again and gave the inspector a small motion of agreement or indifference.

            Sherlock sighed, interrupting the interrogation.  “To ensure that it is in fact the violin, you may wish to ask Mr. Harris.  He would most certainly know.”  It was agreed to do as my brother suggested, and a policeman was sent to fetch the elder Harris.

            “I do wish we would stop disturbing my father,” Brendan commented.  “He’s quite undone by this; I believe he has aged more today than in the past five years altogether.”  Nonetheless, Mr. Harris was brought and lifted the violin from its box to inspect it.  His fingers were shaking and he looked terribly gaunt.  Even I pitied him, Doctor, and it takes a very sorry sight to make me pity anyone.

            With a great, tormented sigh, Mr. Harris replaced the instrument.  “This is the very one,” he said, before giving such a cry of astonishment that everyone in the room nearly jumped.

            “What on earth is wrong?” Inspector Hillston asked.

            Harris was shaking his head in disbelief and his face was white.  “No, no, it is not!” he cried.  “It is not the real thing!  See—the colour of the wood!  It is not quite the same.  And here, just on the back of the scroll, the small scratch is not where it always has been, there is no scratch!”  He turned the violin upside-down to indicate the spot, looking nearly faint, and I stood to let him sit in my chair.

            Andolini leaned over from his stool to look at the instrument.  “Santo cielo,” he said in a very soft tone of awe.  “It is true, now that you say that, I see that this is not the violin.  It is a nearly perfect copy, though—who could possibly have made such a fine replica?”  He looked both relieved and worried at the same time at this discovery.

            “If this is not the real violin,” the inspector said, “then may I ask where the real one can be found?”

            Silence filled the room until my brother spoke once again.  “If you wish to find it,” he said quietly, “I believe you would go to the back room in the pawnbroker’s of Ainsley Street and search about.”

            “What can you possibly be talking about?” Brendan Harris cried.  “How could anyone know anything of the location of the violin?”

            I settled myself into a corner with a smile, quite glad that my brother was willing to be so bold.  This would be an excellent show, I was sure, and waited for the first act to begin.

            Folding his arms over his chest, Sherlock spoke again in a very calm tone.  “It is evident from what we have seen and heard today where the violin is—as well as who the criminal is.  Think in this way:  who is the only person who could possibly know where the violin is kept, how to get to it (or where the key is hidden), and who has been around long enough to know when it is safe to sneak in and get it?  Who could make an excellent getaway by framing another person?  The evidence points only to one man.”

            “It is not me!” the Italian exclaimed.  “I assure you with all my heart and soul!”

            “I know it is not you, Sir,” Sherlock broke in with that peculiar mixture of boredom and satisfaction (satisfaction, of course, at his knowledge and the other’s lack of it) so unique to himself.

            “Then who in this great wide earth is it?” the elder Mr. Harris asked. 

            A very sly look came to my brother’s face and he said, “If you would be so good as to accompany me to the pawnbroker’s and retrieve the violin, I shall show you.  Mycroft?”

            “Yes, I shall stay here,” I said, knowing he wished me to stay for certain reasons.  “If you have no objection.”


            Mr. Brendan Harris was in a fit of suspense by this time.  “How can you tell this?” he continued to say.  “How can the evidence point to anyone except for Mr. Andolini?”  Young Eliot was quiet, perhaps due to a respect for his elders that my brother chose not to have in general. 

            I remained in my spot, listening to the Italian’s attempts at conversation with myself and the guards but not speaking a word.  The elder Harris had left and I was thinking quite listlessly about this or that until, about half an hour or so later, Mr. Brendan Harris came striding into the room and, without any preliminaries, dealt the violinist a heavy blow across the face.  Andolini, still being cuffed, was unable to retaliate, and was knocked to the floor with a cry of pain.

            It was not my job to intervene; however, I helped the policemen break the two apart.  “My,” I heard my brother’s casual voice say. “Such a ridiculous outbreak of violence.”

            “Mr. Brendan Harris?” came Inspector Hillston’s voice from the doorway, “you are under arrest for theft and manslaughter.  Please do not resist.”  Though Mr. Harris, the younger, was visibly angered and looked as if he very much wished to resist, he had the sense to realize that he was greatly outnumbered, and grudgingly allowed himself to be cuffed.  The pale-faced, bruised Andolini was helped back to his stool, but not released yet.

            “Where is Mr. Harris?” Inspector Hillston inquired.

            “In his office, Sir,” replied a policeman.  “He is greatly overwhelmed by the outcome of the case.”  He laid a long parcel on the table next to the counterfeit instrument.  “Here is the authentic violin.”

            Inspector Hillston looked at my brother in wonder.  “May I be permitted to hear how you came to this conclusion?  Of course, I believe it—his identity and his dealings were revealed by the man in the pawnbroker’s—but how did you know so far beforehand?”

            With his arms still crossed, Sherlock replied, “It is so wonderfully simple, once you stop to think.  My brother and I met Mr. Brendan and his son as we arrived here this morning, and I immediately saw that they had come from Ainsley Street; the roads in that area have such a peculiar propensity for soiling the cuffs of a man’s trousers in just a certain way.  Mr. Harris directed the deliverer of this parcel, the forged violin, to Mr. Andolini’s room and that, would seem perhaps to be a coincidence.  But it is not.

            “As you will remember, the body of the guard was lying in a way that clearly showed he must have been shot from inside the office.  The culprit must have been someone close enough to Mr. William Harris, on trusted terms enough to be left alone in the office while Mr. Harris went out to speak with the stagehands, leaving his coat (and the key) in the office with the thief.  When the guard came in to inquire after Mr. Harris, the culprit was equipped with the pistol and, seeing no other way to escape discovery as he was in the midst of the thievery, shot the guard.  Shocked by his own unintended murder, the thief took the instrument and fled from the building with the violin, so as to switch it with the completed replica.  What a better excuse for leaving than to take his son to a piano lesson and returning after the theft and murder were discovered.  Now, may I direct a question to Eliot?”

            The boy raised his head in surprise.  “Of course.  I was not instrumental in this crime in any way of which I am aware.”

            “No, I believe you are innocent,” my brother said.  He seemed far older than Eliot, yet the two were nearly the same age—I found it an amusing fact.  “Was your father carrying a parcel on the way to your piano lesson?”

            Eliot thought a moment.  “Yes,” he said.  “I thought nothing of it, for he often returns and borrows instruments from the music school.  He left his parcel there, at the school, today during my lesson.  That I remember.”

            “This is preposterous!” sputtered Brendan, his very tone of voice and attitude declaring him the criminal.  “How do you expect to prove that I went to the pawnbroker’s in Ainsley Street?  How do you prove that I went there at all?”

            “Sir,” Sherlock said, “If you will observe the colour of your trousers’ cuffs and mine, of everyone’s who went to Ainsley Street several minutes ago, and compare the dirt to the cuffs of my brother Mycroft’s trousers, as well as Mr. Andolini’s, you will see it is evident.  As to your presence at the pawnbroker’s, why, the violin was there and the man at work attested to your business, that they were replicating an ‘old family instrument’ for decorative purposes.  It is a very shameful thing for you to have done to your father.”

            I smirked, while the others looked rather shocked at my brother’s behaviour.  “All that is left, I suppose, is the confession,” I ventured to say, and all eyes turned to Brendan Harris.

            He looked around himself with a remarkably disappointed demeanour.  “Yes,” he finally cried.  “Yes, it was my fault all of this has happened.  I see that there is no way to escape this now, and I can bring my confession to you all.”

            “Why, though?” Inspector Hillston asked.  “What motive could you possibly have had for such a crime?”

            Mr. Brendan Harris looked from his son to the inspector in shame.  “I’m afraid I am not the sort of man you believe me to be,” he said.  “In the past few years I have accumulated such a great pile of debts that I have begun to despair of ever acquiring the money to pay for them.  To prevent myself from being exposed as a gambler and a spendthrift, I needed to come by a great deal of money in a very short time; I knew of this violin and of its worth, which is enough and more than enough to pay my debts.  If I could replace it with a replica in my father’s safe for a while and keep the real instrument, in a way renting it to certain groups for a price, I would soon be able to pay off my debts.  I planned to return it once I was finished.

            “And so I began joking with my father about the location of his key and took the instrument with me to Eliot’s piano lessons nearly every week.  Everything went smoothly, no one had any suspicion of me, and I was just taking it for the last time when the guard caught me in the midst of removing the violin from the safe.  I panicked and shot him, and then escaped before anyone could find out, returning once the replica was safely on its way and I had been able to recover my nerves.  The delivery-boy is an accomplice of the pawnbroker’s, and they believed that they were replicating an old instrument for family purposes.  I knew they were very skilled woodworkers and renowned for replicas of wooden items, and so I engaged their services.  I did not intend to murder anyone.”

            Inspector Hillston stepped forward.  “You did all the same,” he said, and looked at the door.  The eldest Mr. Harris had been standing in the doorway, unnoticed by most, for some time now.  “There you are, Sir.  With your permission, we will be taking the criminal to jail for now, until a trial can take place, and we shall hush the matter up so that your business can continue.  Good day.”

            Mr. Harris had no energy to respond except to say, “Good day,” in a rather faint voice.  As the police left with his son in custody, there was a very unpleasant silence in the room.  The policemen were gone and had taken the forged violin with them, and the only people left were Andolini, Mr. Harris, Sherlock, and I, as well as Eliot.  It was he who first spoke.

            “Grandfather,” he said quietly, with a glance at the clock, “the orchestra will be arriving in half an hour.  Had we best go on with the concert?”

            “Yes, Eliot,” the old man said wearily.  “Yes.”  All in a sudden movement, he seemed to jump back to vibrant life and to business.  “Nearly time and there are so many things to be done!” he cried.  “I hope you will forgive the excitement, Mr. Holmes, Sherlock—and will you still be joining us for tonight’s performance?”

            “There may be a slight issue,” Giovanni Andolini suddenly spoke.  He had been released from the handcuffs before the police left, and had been walking about—once he had lifted his own violin as if to play it but set it back down before even lifting the bow.  He was now seated upon the same stool, cradling one arm in the other with a very white and fearful face.

            “The world conspires against me today,” said Mr. Harris sadly.  “Will you still play?”

            Andolini shook his head.  “I cannot,” he said.  “I’m afraid it’s quite broken.  Will someone please go fetch a doctor?”

            “Yes, of course,” Mr. Harris said, and a servant was sent.  Perhaps if I had been a man of your profession, Watson, I could have been better help—medicinal men are possibly among the most helpful ones to have around you.  However, an idea had presented itself to me as Mr. Harris went on about canceling the concert.

            “Excuse me,” I interrupted, endeavouring to be polite, “my brother is himself an excellent violinist and I am sure he could easily perform in Mr. Andolini’s stead.”

            “Mycroft!” interposed Sherlock, and I can easily say that I have never been able to startle and alarm him as much as I did then.

            Andolini almost laughed.  “The violin is ready and my music is spread on the table,” he said, shaking his head.  “Let us see what he can do.”  Though he hardly wanted to play, we insisted on hearing him, and scarcely had Sherlock put the bow to the strings when it was settled; he was to play instead of Giovanni Andolini that evening.  It was a very subtle triumph for myself that I had twice succeeded that day in making my brother do something that he did not want to do, and you will understand what a difficult task that is.

            Several hours later, after an excellent meal and a moment or two of rest, I was seated in the auditorium of the theatre, in seats where I was surrounded by the rich citizens of London, those who could afford the best seats.  Concerts do not naturally hold much pleasure for me, but as the orchestra warmed their instruments and an announcement was made that, due to an unprecedented injury, Andolini would not play, I felt very satisfied.

            I do not know much about musical interpretation and I had never heard the piece before.  However, I believe I can say that the audience, critics and non-musicians alike, were awestruck by my brother’s performance.  As he bowed at the end of the concerto and after playing a select encore (you may be familiar with the selection, he made it up a year before this performance and has elaborated upon it even to this day), a gentleman behind me cried, “Who is this young man?”

            Slowly, I turned in my seat and looked him in the eye.  “That, my dear Sir,” I replied, “is Sherlock Holmes.”

                                      I trust you will find this narrative satisfactory, and remain yours faithfully,
                                                                                                                        Mycroft Holmes
P.S.  Do not mention this letter to Sherlock if you can at all help it.  He is very sensitive about his past and I do not think he would appreciate my telling you of this event.