It was just another typical wet, miserable day.
Out in Baker Street, there were people walking about with umbrellas, all drenched to the skin and cabs and carriages were going back and forth.
Then there was I, Sherlock Holmes.
I was staring out into the street, but not paying attention to all the hustle and bustle.
Instead, I was scrutinizing an aged hunch-backed man with a crooked stick, a long grey beard, a large grey moustache, thick wavy grey hair, which came down to his shoulders, a pair of worn-out brown boots, a long grey cloak, torn in many places and round dark glasses, standing outside the empty house across the street.
Whoever he was, had been standing there for some time – an hour perhaps.
Why was he standing directly opposite where Watson and I live? Was he some kind of spy? Why was he wearing dark glasses? Was he looking up at me?
“Holmes, why have you been looking out into the street for the past hour?” asked Watson. “Something, or someone has obviously caught your attention.”
“Right you are Watson. Come and see for yourself.”
Watson came and stood beside me.
“I’ve been staring at that hunchback opposite our lodgings?”
“What of him?”
“Well, I can’t help but wonder if he’s spying on this place. Why the dark glasses? Is he looking at us?”
“Well, I don’t attach any importance to the matter.”
Maybe I was wrong.
I was just going to go and sit down, when a cab drew up outside.
Out of the cab, there stepped a man – medium-sized with thick dark brown hair, a full brown beard, a thick brown moustache, thick eyebrows, a brown leather coat, black trousers, black boots and a navy-blue umbrella.
“This might prove interesting Watson,” said I.
“We have a visitor.”
I then noticed that the hunchback was gone, but paid no thought to him and sat down – ready to meet whoever had arrived.
I heard the door being opened and closed, followed by the voices of Mrs Hudson and the man coming up the stairs.
Finally, Mrs Hudson entered the room.
“There’s a man here, who wishes to speak with you Mr Holmes.”
“Show him in Mrs Hudson,” I said.
Mrs Hudson stood aside – allowing the man to enter.
“Which one of you is Sherlock Holmes?” the man asked, in a Cornish accent.
“I am,” said I.
“I must speak with you urgently, Mr Holmes,” the man said in a voice, which expressed anxiety.
“First sit down and tell me who you are.”
I got up, so that the man could sit down by the warmth of the fire.
“Get him some tea please Mrs Hudson,” I said.
Mrs Hudson left the room.
The man looked at Watson, who was sitting in his usual chair.
“This is my friend and colleague Doctor Watson.”
“I’ve heard of you Watson,” the man said.
“Now then, tell me who you are,” I said.
“My name is George Tobin Mr Holmes.”
“I take it that you are Cornish, by the sound of your accent?” Watson asked.
“Yes Sir. I am the owner of an Inn, in a small village called St Just.”
“State your business please Mr Tobin,” I said.
“You are the very person who is needed in the area where I live Mr Holmes.”
“Go on,” I said.
“Mr Holmes, the area in which I live is being terrorized. People are living in mortal dread.”
“Terrorized by who?”
“Not by who Mr Holmes, by what.”
“What do you mean by what?” asked Watson.
“There is a force of evil in the area, a terrible demon of some kind. It feeds off livestock and is never seen, neither by day, nor night. Worst of all, it emits a spine-chilling, unearthly sound, which stirs the neighbourhood.”
I thought the matter over for a moment.
“Most interesting,” said I.
“You say that it feeds off livestock?” Watson asked.
“Yes Sir. Every night it feeds off a calf or a sheep from a different farm – leaving the remains to be discovered by the farmers.”
“When did this all begin?” Watson asked.
“Ten days ago.”
“Why bring me into it?” asked I.
“Because I and the rest of the people in the area know that you have handled such cases before.”
For a moment my thoughts were drawn to the Hound of the Baskervilles.
I was about to say that I would accept the case, when Mrs Hudson came in with a pot of tea for Mr Tobin.
“Thank you,” Mr Tobin said.
“I’ve decided to accept your case Mr Tobin,” said I.
“Thank you, Mr Holmes.”
“Another case Mr Holmes?”
“Yes Mrs Hudson, another case and a most interesting one.”
“Where are you off to this time Sir?” Mrs Hudson asked.
“Cornwall,” I replied.
Once Mr Tobin had drunk his tea, Watson and I packed our suitcases.
After exchanging farewells with Mrs Hudson, the three of us travelled by cab to Paddington station.
After that, we boarded the train and began our journey to Cornwall. It was a wonderful journey, but I suspected that Mr Tobin hadn’t told Watson and I the full story.
Furthermore, the hunchback, whom had been in Baker Street earlier that day, occupied the compartment directly opposite.
There was something disturbing about the hunchback, whoever he was. Was he dogging us?
On the way, the train stopped at a number of places, including Reading, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Exeter and Plymouth.
At one point it crossed the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel bridge, which spanned the Tamar.
After crossing the bridge the train continued, right down through Cornwall – stopping off at several places, including St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, until it finally reached the seaside town of Penzance.
By that time, it was night.
The lights of the town were shining and a bright full moon, set in a sea of stars, cast a path of light on the ocean and lit up the land.
Mr Tobin spoke of St Michaels Mount – a small island with a castle on top, just off shore.
Watson, myself and Mr Tobin got in a cab, which was no different to those in London and left Penzance.
As the cab made its way through the Cornish countryside, we saw buildings, old mines, fields, farm animals and carriages and cabs going back and forth.
Finally, the cab entered a small village known as St Just. A few more cabs and carriages were going about, in the fairly empty streets, lamps were shining, dogs were barking and dozens of candles were shining inside the houses.
At last, the cab stopped outside an Inn. I could hear people inside and there was a black sign above the door with (THE MINERS ARMS) written on it in gold, Old English lettering.
“Well, this is it,” said Mr Tobin. “The Miners Arms.”
Mr Tobin led Watson and I inside the Inn, which was fairly busy with men and women seated both at tables and the bar, all gossiping, drinking and puffing away at pipes or cigars.
There were several dogs there too, including a greyhound lying by a large open fire.
Standing behind the bar, there was a woman with chest length wavy black hair and green, cat-like eyes, wearing a dark red dress.
Watson and I followed Mr Tobin over to the bar.
“Well, here they are Sally my dear,” Mr Tobin said. “Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.”
At that, everyone looked at Watson and I.
“Which of you is Mr Holmes?” Sally asked kindly, in a Cornish accent.
“I am,” I replied.
“I’m glad you’re here Mr Holmes,” said Sally. “This area needs you and Doctor Watson too. These are dark times and evil is at work.”
“Your husband has told us of the situation,” Watson said.
I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
“Did George tell you two about the pair of gipsies?” Mrs Tobin asked.
“No,” I replied.
“What two gipsies?” asked Watson.
“Tell them George.”
“I’d rather not.”
“Why not?” Sally asked.
“Because it’s not my place to say.”
Mr Tobin was on edge.
“Go on Mr Tobin,” said I.
“Very well Mr Holmes.”
“Were all ears,” said Watson.
“There are two gipsies living on a farm, not far from St Just, owned by a man called Jake Trembath and his wife Jill. They never come here to the village, so we hardly know anything about them. In fact, they stay away from society.
“What’s more, the gipsies arrived here just before the beast came into the area.”
“Why didn’t you tell Holmes and I of this before?” asked Watson.
“Because I felt that it should have come from the Trembath’s.”
That was understandable.
“You did well to tell us Mr Tobin,” I said.
“Anything that will help you and Doctor Watson put a stop to the outrageous happenings, which have been taking place in the area Mr Holmes.”
Suddenly, a young lady – about eighteen years of age resembling Sally, came in behind the bar.
“This is our daughter Kelly,” Mrs Tobin said.
“Who are they?” Kelly asked curiously.
“Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson,” replied Mrs Tobin.
“Which of you is Sherlock Holmes?” Kelly asked.
I nodded my head.
“Show them to their rooms Kelly,” Mrs Tobin said.
Kelly took our cases and showed us to our rooms. My room happened to overlook the square outside.
“Mr Holmes, I hope that you and Doctor Watson solve the mystery and rid the area of this unseen, supernatural fiend, for I have a dreadful premonition that it will start preying on humans soon.”