This is the second weekly letter, providing clues to help build a theory of the case. The final letter will contain Holmes's solution.
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(Note: the photo of the letter is followed by its text. There are 2 letters this week.)
What is out of the common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance.
MARCH LETTER NO. 1
Text of the letter from Leopold Kimber to Sherlock Holmes
Advocate and Solicitor
Islip, 5 July 1887
Attached is another letter I received from Miss Struckland.
As you suggested, I paid a visit to the market yesterday and met with two different jewellers of whom I am aware. I like to consider myself a bit of an archaeological hobbyist, given all the conversations I share with clients like the Strucklands - so the visit was truly no bother. i browsed their available stock, asking how business was faring, but both of these jewellers deal almost entirely with traditional sorts of jewellery. Namely chains, timepieces, and the like. neither seemed to be in possession of anything similar to what one might find in the Struckland's collection.
When I mentioned that I was a 'collector of rarities' (again, as you suggested), and asked if they had any particularly interesting, or perhaps odd, pieces of note, neither shared with me anything historically or geologically significant. Even their 'special' storage chambers merely consisted of antiquated brooches ad some porcelain figurines, no raw stones, and certainly no fossilized teeth. However, on the the two mentioned that a local assayer, Sidney Turner, holds a unique interest in artefacts and other such novelties.
Although he operates a small shop in Islip, he is somewhat of a travelling vendor and appears to have been away on business over the weekend. A small handwritten sign on his doorfront indicates he planned to reopen 'Monday, or Tuesday' so I will visit again tomorrow. There is one other dedicated jeweller and assayer who operates out of the market, but is shopfront suffered from a small fire last month and the man has been unable to reopen.
As to your question regarding Miss Struckland's request, her father's will did leave me the authority to appoint a neutral archivist, if ever his daughters became unable to complete the cataloguing process. In any case though, this would be woefully difficult. I know of few people who possess the time, let alone willingness, to undertake this endeavour for the pittance the estate would compensate them. I take it that even fewer possess the necessary knowledge. Miss Struckland would have to hope that their estate's caretaker, Mr. Ward, would be willing to step in. Incidentally, her sister's newly beloved, Mr. Rathmore, would make an adequate candidate, if not for his potential involvement in the predicament.
It is too soon to proceed with an additional custodian, but any insight would be indispensable. I want to avoid aggravating the situation if this is solely a sororal dispute. But even so, if Miss Struckland and her sisters are verily failing to make progress on the catalogue, then I will eventually have to intervene in some capacity.
Grateful as always,
Additional March letter: Beryl Struckland to Leopold Kimber
Text of the Letter from Miss Beryl Struckland to Mr. Leopold Kimber
Miss Beryl Struckland
Islip, Oxfordshire, England
5 July, 1887
Dear Mr. Kimber,
I write to you again because this task of completing the collection may soon prove to be impossible, unless you are quiclky able to provide some sort of neutral party to catalogue the collection in our place. Since I last wrote you, my sister and Roger's interest in 'assisting' with the cataloguing has increased steadily alongside my own concern for the specimens. Now, I have learned Miss Amber has become wary of the pair too, and every encounter feels moments away from conflict.
Several days ago, Miss Amethyst offered to assist me with the catalogue again. Miss Amber was situated in the library as well, but silently worked on illustrations instead. The three of us spent nearly six hours together with the collection, and in that time, Roger visited Miss Amethyst on three separate occasions; each time reminding us he was busy with errands 'all about town'. After his third visit, Miss Amethyst momentarily left the sorting room to see him off, her purse in hand.
As Miss Amethyst left the room, Miss Amber nearly leapt out of her seat asking if I had noticed her sister behaving unusually of late. It appears that she had been observing Miss Amethyst the entire time, rather than sketching. Miss amber pointed out how, lately, she had witnessed our sister leaving the house in a haste-- purse held closely by her side-- only to meet Roger, who always seemed to be waiting just beyond the property.
Although Miss Amber said she had yet to follow them any further, she did confirm that our groundskeeper James had witnessed this happening as well. When Miss Amethyst returned to the library that day, she simply claimed that she had planned for a brief rendezvous with Roger. Miss Amber, however, would not concede, and insisted that she empty the contents of her purse. She nearly wrestled the bag away from Miss Amethyst, before accidentally knocking it to the floor. Miss Amethyst furiously collected her belongings and locked herself away from our sister in her chamber. Miss Amber then spent most of the remaining afternoon in her own chamber.
I asked James afterwards, and he confided that Miss Amethyst did appear to hand something off to Roger when he left earlier in the day. He also appeared to give something to Miss Amethyst in return. Unfortunately James was occupied with garden work and failed to see what either of item might have been. Miss Amber, I am sure, believes that Miss Amethyst was exchanging a piece from the collection. I cannot find reason to disagree, but I hesitate to worsen our conflicts with an accusation.
The following morning, Miss Amber asked us to the ballroom and attempted to make amends. She apologised for allowing her anxieties to best her, but then explained that she felt as if pieces from the collection were being 'misplaced' recently. She asked us to be mindful of the collection, assuring us the 'even when sketching specimens' as our mother used to she is always sure to remain within sight of the library or storage chamber. Miss Amethyst remained rather indifferent throughout this, only becoming somewhat agitated when Miss Amber finally spoke of Roger. Miss Amber admitted to having reservations about him, and requested that our sister 'remain vigilant on Roger's visits to the estate'. Miss Amethyst hesitantly agreed, though I could tell she was all but pleased by the suggestion.
In light of all this, I privately met with Miss Amber later that afternoon and confessed my own doubts. To my surprise, she was aware of the specimen I had noticed in Miss Amethyst's chamber. The fossilised tooth happened to be one of the specimens Miss Amber recently illustrated, and as such, she quickly took note when it went missing from its usual crate. She eventually found the specimen beside Miss Amethyst's jewellery case and returned it to the collection, only to realize it was gone from its storage crate again three days ago. This discovery was the root of her outburst in the library. She seems to believe that Miss Amethyst has hidden the piece elsewhere, as she was unable to find it in our sister's chamber again that day.
I write to you this afternoon though, Mr. Kimber, because since then, we have accomplished close to nothing. Despite Miss Amber's apology, every time we gather to work on the collection, we fail to make any substantial progress. The first time we attempted to catalogue again, Miss Amethyst invited Roger to 'keep company'. Already, I was distracted by my own attempts to discreetly observe the man, but then Miss Amber requested he wait outside the chamber, citing the nature of our father's will. Presumably having taken offence to this , Miss Amethyst took off with him shortly thereafter, and Miss Amber began searching for 'missing' specimens. All progress came to a halt.
The few times we have attempted to reconvene after that have failed just as well. Even when Miss Amethyst is in fact helping, I now spend the majority of my time worrying about the specimens and this Roger, whois always conveniently familiar with the work at hand. Yesterday, Miss Amber followed Miss Amethyst out of the sorting chamber when she announced she was taking a brief pause to use the restroom. The tow hardly made it down the hallway before bickering ensued and Miss Amethyst accused Miss Amber of unnecessary surveillance. On this occasion as well, all progress came to an abrupt halt.
If we allow things to progress in this fashion, I efar that we will never finish sorting through the collection. We could normally be able to sort through an entire box of specimens with a few days, especially with the three of us working. This week however, we have only succeeded in cataloguing a singular coprolite, and two distinct bone fragments, each about the size of a finger. In addition to this, I grow concerned for missing specimens.
I have scoured the ballroom and library to the best of my abilities, and the tooth that we suspect that Miss Amethyst took has assuredly not been returned. In speaking with James, I also learned that he caught sight of another specimen-- a lesser chunk of raw emerald-- in her chamber this week. As I write, this piece also remains unaccounted for.
While Miss Amethyst might feel as if she is being treated unjustly, Miss Amber and I struggle to trust her friend Roger with the collection. And how can we trust our sister with the collection if infatuation clouds her judgment? If we cannot come to tems with each other, then it may be in our best interest to simply have a third party intercede. Mr. Kimber, if you could appoint somebody respectable to continue this endeavour in our place, perhaps we could work past these silly disputes and salvage our relationship as sisters.
Please, I urge you not to let Miss Amethyst or Miss Amber know that I have divulged our personal affairs - in spite of her suspicions, Miss Amber was unspeakably embarrassed by her scuffle with Miss Amethyst. Any evidence of hushed talks would only worsen our decaying bonds.
Miss Beryl Struckland
Miss Beryl Struckland
Lucius Beebe Memorial Library 345 Main Street Wakefield, Massachusetts 01880 781-246-6334wakefieldlibrary.org