Friday, 16 January 2015

THE TRAGEDY OF THE KEY


           
“Morstan and Sholto! You shall now embark on a secret mission to Andaman islands. If you succeed, you’ll live like kings” the commander exclaimed. Morstan and I used to be great friends until he started robbing me of things I value the most- my rank in the military and the person I love, Mary. While exploring the woods, I heard Morstan’s agonized voice that led me to a debilitated Morstan with a snake bite on his right leg, lying on the ground; powerless. A strange pleasure took over my soul, watching his slow death. “Treasure worth more than anything, give Mary, the key is..” he cried. I searched for the treasure and found a walnut chest under his bed not to give it to Mary but to keep it for myself and never let his soul rest in peace.
                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                               -Sholto (1804 )


As I lay invested in my errands, Sherlock sat comfortably seated in his velvet chair, gazing at the wall. This is utterly absurd, says he, pointing to a copy of The Daily Telegraph. “No new cases that can entice your intellect?” I asked sarcastically, for heaven’s sake, I would rather you focus on the relevance of a case rather than its myst.. I was suddenly interrupted by a telephone call. We had been called by Thaddeus Sholto to investigate on his brother’s sudden and unnatural death. Bartholomew Sholto, an indisposed man in his 50’s was seated diabolically in his armchair with a stiff and contorted body. “Watson, what do you reckon?” Holmes asked. “An epileptic seizure due to something insanely graphic resulting in convulsions and apnea. It is a rare case of SUDEP”. Here, Watson; “This is a recherché 14th century walnut chest with Hindi inscriptions. The intricate gold engravings at the bottom are of Mughal origin and the snake wood is of the hardest nature. Its contents must have triggered his seizure”- he exclaimed while examining the majestic coffer closely. As he moved the chest for further analysis, scraps of yellow paper fell onto the ground. He assembled the pieces together and formed a note which was incoherent and handwritten derangedly. The only detail that was comprehensible was the ‘sign of infinity’ at the end of the note. Albeit, the note made no explicit mention of suicide, it was clear that, in fact, it was a suicide note which according to Holmes; revealed a tortured mind and a man deeply disturbed by his own actions.


 I asked Thaddeus Sholto what he knew about the treasure and he hesitantly revealed that his father left the treasure before he died of lung cancer 20 years ago. “Having seen the effect of that treasure to my father, I took no interest in it. However, my brother became obsessed with it and spent his entire life in making the right key.” said teary Thaddeus.


 Across the cedar escritoire, a broken photo pendant was placed in a chaotic fashion. Sherlock gently placed the necklace on the desk and probed it methodically. ‘ The pearls are of superior quality and Indian origin, just like the treasure chest but the photo is not as old as the pendant. Watson, if only we could find the key.’ We searched high and low, inspected every nook and cranny but of no avail. After extensive investigation and futile efforts, I suggested to quit when suddenly; - ‘Oh dear! Is it not who I think it is?’ exclaimed Holmes. He stormed out of the room with the intensity of a gazelle. I followed Sherlock to his Baker street residence where I saw Mrs. Hudson bursting into tears. “And that’s how he abandoned me for his presumably younger woman!” cried Mrs. Hudson. ‘But where did you find this picture?’ She asked whilst still sobbing. In an instant, I gathered that the young lady in the picture was no one else but Mrs. Hudson. She opened up about her failed relationship with her fiancée, Mr. Morstan. Major Sholto had informed her about Morstan’s affair and how he never intended to meet her again. She added that she married again to forget Mr. Morstan and that she could never truly love anyone again resulting in a failed second marriage with Mr. Hudson.


 While she narrated the story, I noticed a tattoo on Mrs. Hudson’s left wrist- the sign of infinity. Holmes saw the expression on my face and looked at her wrist, “Maybe the key is with her.” exclaimed Sherlock. Mrs. Hudson recalled Mr. Morstan giving her a key the day they parted. Wrapped in a beautiful knitted handkerchief, laid a key in her old drawer. We hurried to the Pondicherry Lodge. I sat in silence in the cab on our way, imagining what the treasure would be like, gold coins, cash, jewels. Surely, Sherlock and I will be shared some of it, I thought to myself. Thaddeus was still there, talking to the police when we arrived. Mrs. Hudson tried to use the key and it fit in. Our eyes were all glued to the box. I could hear everyone’s heavy breathing as Mrs. Hudson opened the treasure chest. To our surprise, she took out a letter from the treasure chest. It said


Dear Mary,
 How are you? Forgive me for I haven’t written you in a long time, there are a lot of things that happened here. Tomorrow, I will embark for a mission and when I get back, I’ll marry you; and never will I have to leave you again.
 To inifinity and beyond, I love you 
Yours,
 Morstan ∞ 

I stood there feeling guilty of the thoughts I had about the treasure. Still confused why Bartholomew had to take his life, I asked Sherlock and he said “Elementary, Watson. Is there any sign of infinity embedded on the chest? No. Bartholomew must have found a way to open the chest only to find out a letter. After working hard for a thing that would turned out absurd and of no value could trigger depression and ultimately, suicide. “But why didn’t Morstan send the letter before embarking for the mission” , I pondered to myself. And then I remembered mail collection in camps was different decades ago.

4 comments:

  1. The story is interesting and kind of hook my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  2. making tattoo important detail in narrative is catchy.

    ReplyDelete