For January 2013 Jim Hilton


Keywords to include in the story: gumball   accubation   ubiquitous

I lounged, almost in a pose of accubation, in the Elephant and Castle, awaiting the arrival of my dear companion, Doctor Watson.  I entertained myself by browsing the Daily Telegraph, seeking the unusual, the arcane.  This daily rag of the bourgeoisie seemed bulging with adverts for things common, as well as things apparently found only in the homes of carnival denizens.  What the devil was a gumball machine, anyway?


Ubiquitous among these adverts were the brazen claims made by the purveyors of patent medications, purported to cure all the ailments of gullible, frail, hypochondriacally crippled people with loose monies to spend on panaceas. Oh, the folly!

Half-past, and still no Watson. Deucedly irritating!  Perhaps he had been detained by one of those hypochondriacs, himself.  This was not the first time he had been late due to the demands of a woman who was distressed by the changing appearance of her aging body, or perhaps by the entreaties of a gentleman hoping to achieve those levels of performance remembered from years past.  Gad, what fools we mortals be!

As I gazed upon the patrons of the Elephant I practiced my powers of deduction, seeking only the smallest of details which would lead invariably to the revelation of their backgrounds or fields of employ.  Here was a somewhat nicely dressed man of means, regaling his companions with his tales of conquests in the marketplace.  As he spoke, I glanced at his hands, those revealing appendages which told many things about their owners.  His were stained perceptibly black at the tips, suggesting labors at the presses rather than as the top publisher he claimed to be.

Also at his table, seated next to another braggart, was a woman clothed in finery, sparklingly bejeweled.  Something about this Kensington courtesan did not ring true, and it took me but a moment to discover the clue.  The reflected beams of sunlight captured by her earrings did not display the correct levels of radiance expected from true diamonds.  I had written a monograph on this very subject and therefore knew that these baubles were not genuine.  Further investigation revealed that her gown was rather crudely stitched across the shoulders, indicative of manufacture by the new lock-stitch machines, rather than the fine stitches produced by a seamstress of quality and experience.chatelaine-2 Finally, I noted that her chatelaine was of very poor quality and was at the point of failing, thus to release her trinkets upon the floor.


Across the room was another gathering of men, surrounding a man who was holding forth on the marvels of manufacure that could be seen at the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park.  And, although he had been exposed to many miracles of the Industrial Age, his attempts at explanation of these marvels bordered on the laughable.  Unfortunately, his voice carried well across the public house and I could hear all of it, much more than I desired.  According to him, some of these new mechanisms employed principles never mentioned in any physics textbook.  It was all I could do to keep from rising to my feet and take him down from his pedestal by use of pure logic.  And yet I restrained myself.

“Holmes, are you well?  You seem quite distracted,” said, Watson, arriving at last.  I rose to shake his hand, delighted to welcome him to my table.

“Dr. Watson, you have delivered me from boredom once again!  How wonderful to see you!  Any news of further investigations to be made, new mysteries to solve?”

We sat down together to plumb the depths of human foibles.


About Jim Hilton

Just having a good time writing about our little adventures.
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