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Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery

Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery

Larry Millett
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery
    Book Description:

    Holmes and Watson are off to Minnesota for a third time, this time to retrieve the newly discovered Kensington Rune Stone. But the farmer who found the mysterious stone is murdered, and the stone is stolen the day Holmes arrives. With the help of one Shadwell Rafferty, Holmes must solve this baffling case to find both the stone and the murderer.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8026-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Map of Area around Alexandria, Minnesota, 1899
    (pp. x-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Larry Millett

    The book you are about to read recounts the third adventure of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in Minnesota, following on the heels ofSherlock Holmes and the Red Demon(published in 1996)and Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders(1998). One of the central themes of this newly discovered adventure is what Watson calls “the power of coincidence” and its unpredictable role in human affairs. Coincidence, as it turns out, is also very much a part of the story behind the discovery of the long-lost manuscript forSherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery.

    The story begins...

    (pp. 1-15)

    Coincidence, Sherlock Holmes once remarked to me, is the tribute reason must occasionally pay to fate. In the case of Holmes, that payment was made with surprising regularity, for coincidences of one kind or another played a crucial role in many of his investigations. The amazingly fortuitous circumstances behind the capture of Pemberton, the Ipswich strangler, serve as but one example in this regard.¹ Although Holmes believed as strongly as any man in the rule of reason, he eventually came to accept, if not to embrace, the unpredictable power of coincidence. Or, as he liked to say, “lightning has a...

  6. Chapter Two “I GUESS YOU HAVEN’T HEARD”
    (pp. 16-27)

    The Cunard Line’s schedule was such that it was not until March 20 that we were able to depart on our journey. Holmes used this waiting period to immerse himself more deeply than ever in the mysteries of the runes. Indeed, by the time we left for New York on theCampania,he was able to write the entire futhork with great ease and had also become what he described as a “fair translator” of runic writing. Holmes also made a point of acquainting himself with various archaeological controversies and hoaxes, especially those in America.

    “I am now well posted...

    (pp. 28-40)

    “Well,” said I after hearing this dreadful news, “what are we to do now?”

    “Really, Mr. Smith, I am surprised you should ask such a question,” replied Holmes with an unseemly grin. “We must go at once and see if we can be of any help to the authorities. Mr. Kensington, how far is it to Olaf Wahlgren’s farm?”

    “Just under ten miles.”

    “Then by all means let us go there as quickly as possible. Time is wasting.”

    “As you wish,” said Kensington, setting his team of fine roans into motion with a shake of the reins.

    It took but...

  8. Chapter Four “ROCHESTER KNOWS”
    (pp. 41-53)

    It was well past three o’clock by the time we finally left the barn and walked out into the brisk afternoon air. A day which had seemed uncomfortably damp and chilly in the morning now took on the quality of a wonderful tonic, for the barn’s fetid atmosphere had become almost more than I could tolerate. I took several deep draughts of fresh air, saw that a few stray shafts of sunlight had burned through the clouds, and for an instant thought myself the most fortunate man in the world.

    Such simple delights as these, however, were lost upon Holmes,...

    (pp. 54-65)

    “What an extraordinary young woman!” marveled Holmes as we walked back to our hotel. “I do not believe I have ever met anyone quite like her. Her mind would be a fascinating study for Dr. Freud, don’t you think, Watson?”¹

    “I cannot say,” I replied. “But I am not sure the poor child has anykind of grip on reality.”

    “To the contrary, Watson, I am of the opinion that she is well aware of’reality,’ but simply chooses to ignore it. Indeed, that drawing of hers was amazingly realistic. No, I am inclined to believe the young lady knows much more...

    (pp. 66-78)

    There have been only a few times in my life when the hand of fate seemed to descend from the heavens and slap me across the face, as if to say, “Look, sir, your life can change in an instant, and you must never forget it.” One such occasion came when the Jezail bullet tore through my shoulder at Maiwand and missed killing me by mere inches. Another occurred at the Criterion Bar in London, where I was spotted by young Stanford, an unlikely chance meeting which was to lead to my introduction to Sherlock Holmes.¹ Now, far from home...

  11. Chapter Seven “WELL, I GUESS I WIN”
    (pp. 79-95)

    “So, Mr. Holmes, who is your new lady friend?” Rafferty asked when he joined us for supper that evening in the dining room of the Douglas House. Baked ham, potatoes augratin, black-eyed peas, and apple pie were the featured items on the menu, and Rafferty—who was a trencherman of the first order—was already well on his way toward polishing off his meal when he brought up the topic of our visit with Mary Comstock.

    I sensed that Holmes had expected the question, for he knew as well as anyone that Rafferty sopped up information as readily as he...

    (pp. 96-107)

    Holmes kept at his obscene song until we were well out of view of the Majestic, and I could only imagine what sort of a ruckus he would raise once we reached our hotel. As we turned onto Broadway, which was Alexandria’s main street, Rafferty looked behind us, suddenly let go of Holmes, and announced: “All right, we’re in the clear.”

    To my surprise, Holmes instantly abandoned his dreadful caterwauling, firmly removed himself from my grasp, and said in a completely normal voice: “Well, my dear Watson, what did you think of our little show?”

    In truth I did not...

  13. Chapter Nine “I KILLED NO ONE”
    (pp. 108-120)

    Rafferty’s surprising statement prompted a barrage of questions from Holmes, few of which our friend could answer.

    “I don’t know the whys and wherefores,” Rafferty finally told an exasperated Holmes. “All I know is that Mr. Fogelblad has supposedly stated that he is in possession of the rune stone and will lead the authorities to it as soon as he returns to town. I have no idea how he got his hands on the thing, but I imagine we’ll find that out when we talk to him tomorrow.”

    Holmes considered these words for a moment and said: “Do you think...

  14. Chapter Ten “FOOLED YOU ALL”
    (pp. 121-132)

    Fogelblad’s revelation must have made Holmes and Rafferty feel like miners who, after pounding at hard rock, had suddenly burst through to the mother lode. Neither man, however, gave any evidence of excitement as the interrogation continued.

    “So you are telling us Mr. Wahlgren gave you the stone,” Rafferty said with a trace of disbelief, though I knew perfectly well he did not doubt Fogelblad’s story for a moment. “When did this happen?”


    “This past Monday?”


    “Why did he ask you to hide the rune stone for him?”

    “He was afraid.”

    “Of what?”


    “Did he say who...

  15. Chapter Eleven “GIVE ME THE GUN”
    (pp. 133-144)

    We hardly had time to absorb this latest surprise before Magnus Larson, who had come next to Holmes, snatched the piece of wood from Fogelblad’s hands. He scanned the inscription, his face contorting into a dark scowl, after which he broke the wood in half and threw it violently to the ground. Looking for all the world like some ancient Viking warrior about to commence a round of looting and pillaging, he uttered a series of curses and then confronted Holmes.

    “Is this your work?” he bellowed at Holmes, who stood his ground without flinching. Sheriff Boehm, who was but...

    (pp. 145-157)

    Kensington’s revelation disturbed Holmes greatly, and he immediately insisted upon hearing further details. First, however, he wished to know why Kensington had waited nearly twenty-four hours to tell us of the burglary.

    “Well, I wasn’t sure if it was really all that important,” Kensington explained. “Break-ins do happen around here, although not that often. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more it looks like Moony’s room was the burglar’s target, and I guess that’s kind of scary to me.”

    “As it should be,” said Holmes gravely. “All right, sir, let us have all the details. Overlook nothing!”


    (pp. 158-171)

    The next day, a cold and rainy Sunday, Holmes stayed in his room until late afternoon, refusing breakfast or lunch, and obsessed by what he had come to call “the Rochester problem.” He was convinced that Moony Wahlgren held the key to the rune stone mystery, but as he told me that morning, “I do not yet know how to open the lock. Only if I find Rochester will I gain that knowledge.”

    Holmes’s fascination with the girl had, not surprisingly, intensified after Rafferty revealed the “secret” she had shared with him.

    “We must assume she is telling the truth,”...

    (pp. 172-183)

    Holmes and I left for Holandberg at eight o’clock the next morning after eating breakfast with Rafferty at the hotel. Although I knew that Rafferty would have liked to come along with us, Holmes asked him to stay in Alexandria to undertake much-needed work there. Among other things, Rafferty was to canvass local hardware stores (to see if he could identify the type of lantern glass Holmes had found at Fogelblad’s farm) and to scout for any photographs that might have been taken of the rune stone. Holmes also wanted Rafferty to keep an eye on George Kensington’s house, since...

    (pp. 184-195)

    Once we reached Alexandria, shortly after noon, we waited in the lobby of the Douglas House for Rafferty, who soon put in an appearance. Holmes told him at once about Larson’s murder and the circumstances surrounding it, including Einar Biegen’s disappearance. He also informed Rafferty of his decision not to report the crime to the local authorities.

    Settling his bulk into one of the lobby’s overstuffed chairs, Rafferty slowly shook his head and said: “You’re walkin’ a fine line, Mr. Holmes, a very fine line. Sheriff Boehm will be as angry as a nest of disturbed hornets if he finds...

  20. Chapter Sixteen “YOU WILL HAVE TO PLAY ALONG”
    (pp. 196-208)

    The news that the rune stone had, as it were, been spirited away before our very eyes, left Holmes in an eager and anxious mood.

    “Events are beginning to gallop,” he said as we walked with Rafferty back to the hotel, “and we must be certain that it is we who are in the saddle. We must go to Moorhead, and from there to Fairview Farms, as soon as possible.”

    “There’s a train out this evenin’, if I read the schedule right,” saidRafferty. “We could be there in three hours.”

    “I do not think we should go quite yet, Mr....

    (pp. 209-221)

    The next train to Moorhead was not due until half past twelve, which left us ample time to eat breakfast. Holmes, who seemed to be living on coffee and tobacco, had little appetite. I, however, did not propose to starve on his behalf, and therefore insisted that we find a restaurant. Holmes finally agreed, but only after cau-tioning that we must dine at an inconspicuous place, since he was still worried that Sheriff Boehm might become unmanageable if he found us. We walked for a time, stopping to pick up a copy of the local newspaper, before we found a...

    (pp. 222-233)

    Holmes had found Kensington at the depot’s ticket counter, and the story he now told us was simple yet chilling. After returning from Holandberg the previous night with Magnus Larson’s body, Kensington had performed his various undertaking duties before finally arriving home at ten o’clock. Moony had gone to bed, as was often her custom, about two hours earlier and had seemed perfectly normal to Mrs. Kensington.

    When Kensington himself came home, he saw no reason to disturb the girl, since he assumed she was fast asleep in her upstairs bedroom. He and his wife then went to bed themselves....

  23. Chapter Nineteen “YOU CAN ANSWER A QUESTION FOR ME”
    (pp. 234-244)

    Holmes’s one-word response to Rafferry’s chilling statement made me aware, for perhaps the first time, that we now found ourselves in a situation of almost unprecedented peril. Holmes was, as I have often noted, the ultimate pursuer, a relentless hunter of men, from whom no criminal, however brilliant or ruthless, could hope to escape. And yet now, if I understood the implications of what Rafferty and Holmes were saying, the tables had been turned.

    “Yes, Watson,” said Holmes, noting the pallor which must have spread over my features, “there is now a real question as to whether we are the...

  24. Chapter Twenty “I DON’T LIKE THE LOOK OF THIS”
    (pp. 245-256)

    Early the next morning, which dawned cool and overcast, we ate a hasty breakfast at our hotel, after which Rafferty went out to bring around the wagon he had ordered from one of the local liveries. Only three of us, however, were to make the trip to Fairview Farms, for Holmes had decided that Kensington was to stay in Moorhead. This announcement precipitated a brief argument, since Kensington desperately wanted to accompany us. But Holmes simply would not hear of it, telling Kensington that he must remain in town “in the event there is some word as to Moony’s whereabouts.”...

  25. Chapter Twenty-one “BAD MAN”
    (pp. 257-271)

    As Rafferty swung the team around toward the elevator, which was a good distance away, I noticed that the wind had begun to pick up. The sky was still stretched like a taut gray tent as far as the eye could see, but here and there low black clouds scudded past, heading due south, as were we. It was also getting chillier, and I buttoned up my coat against the stiffening breeze.

    “Mark my words,” said Rafferty. “There’ll be snow by nightfall.”

    We proceeded by due reckoning toward the stark, towering form of the elevator, much as sailors might navigate...

  26. Chapter Twenty-two “WE ARE FINISHED HERE, MR. HOLMES”
    (pp. 272-284)

    As we stared down at the sheriff’s lifeless body, Holmes said: “We must leave at once.”

    “Why do you say that?” I asked. “Shouldn’t we notify the proper authorities of what has happened?”

    Rafferty gave me a pat on the shoulder and said: “Doctor, you’re far too honest a man for the detectin’ business. Mr. Holmes is right. We’re in a nasty bind, and the longer we stay around here, the more trouble we’re likely to be in. Don’t you see the problem? There’s a dead lawman lyin’ at our feet, with a bullet through his neck. Now, if we...

    (pp. 285-296)

    Five days after our memorable encounter with Sheriff Boehm in the elevator, a small gathering took place at the home of George Kensington in Alexandria. Besides our host and his wife, the company included Holmes, myself, Shadwell Rafferty, and Einar Blegen. Among the surviving principals of the rune stone affair, everyone was accounted for other than Nels Fogelblad (who declined an invitation to attend), Moony Wahlgren (who preferred the serenity of her own room), and Mrs. Mary Comstock (who presumably had more pressing business to attend to).

    We had come together to hear Holmes’s final summation of the rune stone...

    (pp. 297-302)

    Upon our return to London, at the end of April 1899, Holmes at once became enmeshed in a series of difficult cases so sensitive in nature that I am not yet at liberty to present them to the world. Holmes, however, did find time to deliver a complete report on the rune stone to Erik Ohman. Citing “incontrovertible evidence” that the stone was “a modern forgery,” Holmes told the professor that “King Oskar under no circumstances should invest in such aspurious artifact.” The professor wrote back to tell us that he was extremely grateful for this information and that Holmes’s...

  29. Notes
    (pp. 303-314)
  30. Author’s Note
    (pp. 315-317)
  31. Back Matter
    (pp. 318-318)