Chapters 6 & 7: dumb-bells, umbrellas, and what Watson finds in the garden

‘Let us try, Watson, you and I, if we can get behind the lie and reconstruct the truth’

[Beware spoilers below!]

So, having questioned ‘the people of the drama’, Holmes sets about testing his own theories, having become convinced that ‘a great big, thumping, obtrusive, uncompromising lie’ is at the centre of Birlstone. Yet, we are being kept as much in the dark about things as MacDonald and Mason. What do you make of Holmes’s caginess?

And what do you make of Watson’s return to the investigation proper, finding Barker and Mrs Douglas in a compromising situation in the garden? Does this incriminate them? Or, like Watson, were you momentarily swayed by ‘a ring of sincerity in the woman’s voice’. Watson does not remain swayed for long however, and Holmes seems rather unsure of women in general.

Surely it is at least a good sign that Holmes finally appears to have got his appetite back, ‘exterminating’ eggs at high tea; a much different man from the one who abstained from breakfast in Chapter 1. He seems convinced this man in a yellow coat is a red herring, yet all the facts seem to contradict eachother. Is Holmes really ‘a man with softening of the brain’, or is he as sharp as ever? If you have any views or thoughts, do post them below. And, despite Holmes’s statement that ‘this enquiry has come to a definite pause’, the next two chapters will be sent out on Sunday. So until then, I leave you with a picture of a snazzy comic-book version of the tale which I recently became aware of; it’s  a dramatic cover which seems to place the mysterious arm mark and eyebrows (see previous comments!) centre stage.

Cheerio for now,



3 thoughts on “Chapters 6 & 7: dumb-bells, umbrellas, and what Watson finds in the garden

  1. Dave

    A loving husband would never surrender his wedding ring and I believe that to be the case here. A Chicago style murder in the english countryside? The wife and best friend chatting happily? I believe they think they have succeeded in their plan…but is the plan what the police believe it to be? Did we not hear that Douglas rarely ventured out or am I imagining that and would he be recognised if he he did in a neighbouring town? Find the wedding ring and solve the mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret

      Yes, I agree, the state of the Douglas marriage is crucial. Watson seems quick to suspect the wife and the friend. Sherlock Holmes seems to have more belief in true love, or at least what he would wish for himself. Mrs Douglas never saw the body. Or did she? The matter of the bicycle is a puzzle, implying the rider has vanished. Did he also have a strange brand on his arm? Is it a secret society pursuing an absconding member? Is it perchance a biker GANG?
      I think the answer will lie with whether Mr Douglas did, in fact, cut himself shaving that morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes indeed Dave, the missing ring is curious. Clearly there is a conspiracy of sorts, but its exact membership remains mysterious.
    I like the idea of a bicycle gang! The bicycle, that symbol of late nineteenth-century modernity, makes a jarring contrast to the odd antiquated image of Birlstone with its drawbridge.


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