16th April, No Comments
By John Watson
Having recently visited Prague, the singular facts concerning Professor Presbury that I layed before my readers in The Creeping Man naturally came to mind.
This story, in The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes, has occasionally been regarded as a work of pure fiction, that is, that it is not a story that I wrote. I do have to admit that I was not as careful in checking Arthur Conan Doyle’s version of my manuscript as maybe I should have been. We always tried to be careful in the final manuscript to be sure that details that needed to be disguised were made suitably obscure without affecting the telling of the story.
This was one of the very last cases handled by Holmes before his retirement to Sussex and by then I saw him but infrequently as I had moved out of Baker Street. I was summoned, in typical Holmes fashion, by one of his laconic messages – “Come at once if convenient – if inconvenient come all the same”!
The Professor, a man in his ealy sixties and a widower, had become engaged to a much younger woman. In an attempt to turn himself into a much younger man, he visited Prague and obtained a serum from a quack. As this serum came from a monkey, a langur monkey to be exact, it had caused the strange behaviour that had so alarmed family, friends, colleagues and in particular his dog, that had resulted in Holmes’ involvement.
As an aside, on this recent visit to Prague, I found a couple of examples of Holmes great influence, particularly it seems on drug related themes! The first is a tobacconist – the other is a bar!