Basil of Baker Street
The Mystery of the Missing Twins
The place is London in the year 1885. Dr. David Q. Dawson opens the tale of how he and his close friend, Basil, become residents below the famous detective's flat of 221B Baker Street. Basil, accompanied with Dawson, would make frequent trips through rain and sleet to stand at the foot of his human mentor, Sherlock Holmes. There he would take notes to learn how to become an unmatchable super sleuth himself. It was one stormy night while visiting Baker Street that Basil observed how clean and spacious the cellars were, a far cry from their dingy dwellings in the East End. A suggestion was soon made to build a town there. Basil began to picture rows of cozy flats, a school, library and other buildings that would make a wonderful place for mice to live and prosper in. A vote was put in at the next meeting with the forty-four families of their community, all of which agreed to start building this town. Carpenters started to work right away at building the homes and, in two weeks, a new town was born. In honor of the famous human detective, Basil named the town Holmestead.
The flat belonging to Basil and Dawson faced the front view of Baker Street so that each could see who would come calling before they entered, just as Mr. Holmes did. Basil continued to study at the foot of the detective, amazed at how one man could solve a crime when everyone else remained baffled to the end. Mice came from all over the world to not only marvel at the splendor of Holmestead, but to seek his aid. Rich or poor, young or old, none were ever turned away from his doorstep. He brought so many criminals to justice that the mere mention of his name would make wrong-doers tremble with fear.
One month after the two moved in, the strangest case of Basil's career had begun. News rang out of Angela and Agatha, their neighbor's young twins, had suddenly vanished into thin air. As their parents came to inform the detective this grave news, Basil and Dawson were currently upstairs in the human's flat. Mr. Holmes was unraveling his success story to Dr. Watson of how he solved a jewel heist, never suspecting a little admirer was frantically scribbling notes at his foot. Basil cheered and congratulated his hero, commenting to Dawson that the man will become a legend. "You are something of a legend yourself," the doctor replied.
An hour later, Mr. Holmes took his violin out from its case. He put a new E string on the instrument and threw the old one in the wastebasket. The mice were then musically entertained when he began to play some Paganini, followed by a Mendelssohn piece. Basil was enchanted and squeaked happily to the brilliant performance. The two men finally retired for bed and it was that time for the two mice to do the same. Basil retrieved the E string from the wastebasket before he and Dawson scurried off to their secret passage.
There was a rule Basil made and it was one rule he was very strict on. No mouse other than himself or Dawson were allowed in the passageway to Holmes' flat. Basil preferred that no one disturb the human detective, so it was a great shock when they saw Mrs. Judson, their mousekeeper, running towards them. She apologized for breaking the rule, but when she told them it was an emergency, Basil kindly asked her to explain what was wrong. The Proudfoots, neighbors of Basil and Dawson, arrived with news of their missing twins Angela and Agatha. Mrs. Proudfoot was so distraught that smelling salts were required and Mr. Proudfoot had to finish explaining to Basil what little they knew. The twins never came home from school, none of their schoolmates knew where they went, and with the hour being eleven at night, Mr. Proudfoot feared something bad had happened to them. He noted they had a fondness for chocolates and may have stopped at the sweetshop, but Mr. Hume, the proprietor, claimed that he did not see them. Being a trusted mouse, Basil removed him as a suspect.
Once the Proudfoots left, Basil began his case, The Mystery of the Missing Twins, starting with he and Dawson going to the sweetshop to look for clues. Still wearing his famous detective's attire, Basil strolled out of his home with walking stick in paw and Dawson carrying a candlestick. The most that the duo found were pairs of footprints in a darkened cellar near the sweetshop. Pairs of big footprints and small footprints could be seen within the disturbed dust, giving Basil a vision. Being the end of the week and their allowances running low, the twins saw a smiling stranger whom offered them free French chocolates. Despite listening to their parent's warning of talking to strangers, the twins went willingly with the stranger. With nothing more for them to find, Basil and Dawson returned to their home to await further news. According to Basil, kidnappers usually send a note, but the waiting for one was pure torture. The more he thought of the poor children, the more angry he turned. "Dawson, the most contemptible creatures on the face of this earth are kidnappers!" he told the doctor with eyes flashing fire. "They are indeed the lowest of the low!"
The following day was mostly spent in suspense with no news of the twins. Mr. Proudfoot came around to discover it was what he feared: his daughters were kidnapped. Basil promised he would do everything in his power to restore them to he and his wife. Children also came around to ask of the twins and Mrs. Judson could only report unhappy news. In the meantime, Basil finished whittling his own violin and added the final E string to play the same Paganini piece Holmes played the night before. However, being terribly out of practice and hitting too many wrong notes, Dawson covered his ears and begged him to stop. Moments after, Dawson spied out their window a plump, middle-aged mouse making his way up to their front door, slipping and sliding on the ice. Basil exclaimed, "Aha! Our long wait is over. Unless I am much mistaken, this is the messenger from the kidnappers!"
The mysterious messenger only arrived to drop off a blue envelope and then scurry away without giving his name. Dawson looked on as their messenger first pulled out a toy kitten minus its tail to get to the envelope. Disappointed that Dawson did not learn much about him, Basil asked to tell him what he did find out just by observing him. Dawson gave the obvious of having children from the toy kitten and that he was a poor mouse judging by his old clothes. Basil agreed, but chided that he was not using his deduction skills to the fullest. Annoyed, Dawson asked Basil what he gathered and the detective explained in greater detail: "He was once a sailor, he now follows the trade of carpenter, and he comes from the Northwest of England. Near the coast, I'd say. Furthermore, his initials are H.H., and he traveled here by train."
Astounded, Dawson asked how he knew all that and Basil proceeded to explain that clues are always at hand if one's mind is trained to observe them. He continued to note that the messenger had a mermaid tattooed on his wrist, a carpenter's rule in his pocket, possessed a Northwest accent, and saw his initials in the cap he was nervously twirling, not to mention he was brushing off some train-soot while doing so. After Dawson was completely impressed, the two quickly retreated near the fire to read the contents from within the blue envelope.
The typed kidnapper's note was a warning to all the mice of Baker Street. The twins were safe and would stay that way as long as their demands were met: to make the Baker Street cellar the headquarters for their gang. Basil was chosen to move everyone out within 48 hours, the same way he moved everyone in with the furniture left behind. If they did not follow orders, they would never set eyes on the twins again. The note was signed The Terrible Three. Angered by the cunning devils, Basil and Dawson set to questioning on what to do, the first having the doctor ask if their mysterious H.H. messenger was one of The Terrible Three. Basil decided on no, for his guilty manner showed he knew the contents of the note, but he was too new at the game. He was, however, an important lead to reach the criminals. At that moment, Basil suddenly gets a jolt of an idea and quickly rushes to gather dirt left behind on his doorstep from the messenger. What appears as normal earth to Dawson appears as coal dust under Basil's microscope. Fitting the pieces together, Basil announced wherever the messenger lives, The Terrible Three must be nearby, and begins to search in his Mouse's Atlas. After scanning the maps, he finds a town called Mousecliffe-on-Sea one mile south of Workington, a fine harbor with the population 958 in the winter and doubled in the summer.
In the blink of an eye, Basil vanished into the next room and ten minutes later emerged as a wrinkled-faced sea captain. Dawson stares dumbfounded yet knowing he should have been prepared when recalling how his friend was a master of disguises. They had worn getup's on other cases that would have fooled their own mothers. Basil took no time in playing the part as well as tossing Dawson some nautical clothing to turn himself into a swaggering sea-mouse. With a little greasepaint, the doctor's well-known features disappeared in the mirror and now looking back was a cocky first mate with a black patch over his one eye. It was time to pack, catch a train for Workington and find the criminals!
A fog as thick as pea soup hung over Baker Street. The icy roads proved too slippery and dangerous to run upon, making the heroes walk at a snail's pace. Spying a hansom with its destination to Euston Station, the two hitched a ride to make it to their train on time. Once on the train in their own warm compartment, Basil began to teach Dawson some sailor lingo before arriving at Workington. The fog had greatly lifted by the time they reach the cliffs, allowing Basil to view his compass by the yellow glow of the moonlight. The two stood high above the ocean's edge, following a narrow path that dipped down into a valley and onward through some thick woods. Owls hooted on occasion, giving Dawson something to shudder about when he did not want to become a juicy morsel to one of his age-old enemies. Fortunately, they were spared of any attacks and reached the Greymouse Inn by dawn.
Basil found it best to write an alias in the registry book, creating the name Captain Baker from Blackpool. Dawson played along by naming himself Mr. Street of Southampton. As the sun continued to rise and brighten, Dawson fell into a deep sleep in their room while Basil went to listen in on any of the town's gossip. His search turned up in his favor. By creating some imaginary sea stories on his own ship, the Pied Piper, to the innkeeper, he in turn received news of some of the Mousecliffe inhabitants, eventually leading to carpenters. With full and smug delight, Basil discovered their messenger's name was Henry Hawkins, praised by many and living in a happy marriage with eight little ones to look after. He recently acquired a job to do cabinets on the Victoria, a yacht that was currently anchored in the harbor. Dawson quickly deduced that the Victoria was not owned by one, but three mice whom may very well fit the description of The Terrible Three. Basil bounded with excitement, adding that no one knows them as that, naturally, but they are a disliked trio by many. Lunch soon called the attention to the hungry doctor, having Basil agree to dine at the Flying Squirrel. It was a place The Terrible Three were known to show up in and Basil wanted to get a good look at the scoundrels.
As they ate their cheese and chips, they noticed three mice standing in the doorway. They were a hulking, ape-like bunch that Dawson would prefer not to run into in a dark alley. The three sat two tables away and quietly discussed eating in the restaurant instead of the slop they were served on the yacht. Basil was soon asked by one of the three if he knew of any good cook's to hire. In his scruffy voice, he replied he did not, for his own cook was just as bad on the Pied Piper. After paying their bill, the two moved on through town. As they walked, Basil mentioned knowing of the three, that each were an expert in crime and had all been behind bars. They soon stopped at a grocer's shop run by Sam Stilton and took pause. Basil knew such a place was filled with more gossip and proceeded to enter, offering 'Mr. Street' to walk in first.
Sam Stilton proved to be a good gossiper. Basil started a fake story about settling down in Mouscliffe and requiring a good carpenter. After telling the two of his entire life, Mr. Stilton began to question what Basil was waiting for: finding someone to build his house. Sure enough, Harry Hawkins' name popped up and Basil was given further information on some unusual activity. The carpenter was buying extra food yet not taking any of it home. He also had sweets sticking out of his pocket. Above all, he always looked scared as if he was in some kind of trouble. Mr. Stilton finally asked that they do not tell Mr. Hawkins' wife such news, having Basil promise that their lips were sealed.
Once the two left the shop, Basil knew that Hawkins was buying all that food for the twins, when, aside from loving sweets, they loved to eat a lot. Dawson then asked if the twins were on the yacht and Basil replied no. The crew would talk and it would be too risky. At that moment, Hawkins himself walked by them. Basil deliberately bumped shoulders so that he would look their way. He quickly apologized, but Hawkins said it was all right and continued on, never suspecting who it was. Basil, meanwhile, could see how nervous Hawkins looked and knew Mr. Stilton was right. He was in trouble. Basil and Dawson made their final stop at the police station where they disclosed their true identities to Constable Clewes. A plan was made between Basil and the constable about the crucial timing of when to strike at the kidnappers. Before they left, Basil was asked to sign autographs for everyone at the station, later complaining the writing muscles in his paw were cramped. "Tut, tut, my dear genius," Dawson teased. "Such is the price of fame!"
The two returned to the inn where Dawson inquired about the plan, only to have Basil smirk and mention how curiosity killed the cat. In other words, time would soon tell the tale. Curling up in his Angora robe, he took a much-needed nap in his room before adjourning downstairs to dinner at five. He told Dawson to eat hearty when he was not sure the last time they would have their next meal. As The Terrible Three dined at the Flying Squirrel, the plan was for the two to board their yacht at six, saying this far too loudly for Dawson's liking. Moving along to the sandy beaches and rocks, they found a dinghy left by Clewes and boarded it to make their way to the yacht. Basil asked if Dawson brought his revolver, receiving a response of him patting his pocket. Basil also reminded him that they were going to be dealing with dangerous ruffians and now was the time to decide if he wanted to return to the inn. "Stuff and nonsense!" the doctor retorted. "We started this together and we'll finish it together." Basil's eyes twinkled with, "If it doesn't finish us first!"
The sounds of singing could be heard as the two neared the Victoria. The crew was singing a shanty sea song, unaware of two new mice boarding their yacht. Basil and Dawson immediately went below deck where they found a typewriter. Basil took out the kidnapper's ransom note and began typing on a new piece of paper of the note's exact words, finding it was the same typewriter used for the note. He further explained to Dawson that some typewriters have their own faults. Much like handwriting, there is a distinctiveness when each letter is pressed down on the paper. Basically, no two typewriters type alike, and after a careful examination, Basil could see with some angles of the letters 'L' and 'B' that he was right. While finding the evidence, harsh footfalls were coming closer. Basil quickly crammed the notes into his pocket and told Dawson to prepare himself. He planned to be deliberately heard over dinner to get caught by The Terrible Three. Not only did the trio come bursting in, but so did several other hulking sailors.
A fight quickly ensued with Basil acting like a wild cat, taking down as many mice as he could. Dawson also fought but ended up being sat on by two mice. The Terrible Three were finally revealed by Basil, naming them as Barney the Bank Robber, Freddie the Forger, and Percy the Pickpocket. As Basil demanded that they stop their crime at once and turn over the twins, one of the three removed some of the greasepaint to see it was the great detective along with the doctor. The trio then have the crew tie them up and take them to upper deck where the three would eventually throw them overboard. While the crew start to sing again, Basil tells Dawson to start gnawing on the ropes. The two are soon freed from their bonds and Basil gives the signal of three squeaks. Before long, the deck is filled with police mice, all fighting and rounding up the ruffians.
Constable Clewes soon appeared amongst the crowd and tipped his hat to Basil, glad that the signal was finally given when they waited a long time on the starboard side of the yacht. Basil commended the constable, also informing him the typewriter and evidence was all below deck. Clewes then asked if the police would receive any credit for this, finding that Basil offered all of the credit to them. He wanted his name completely out of it. He turned to the trio next with his face beaming happily, "So your scheme failed, eh? In his poem 'To a Mouse,' Robert Burns, a wise human poet, wrote: 'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley.' " Basil finally asked where the twins were, receiving an answer that they would never squeal. "Then, I'll find out for myself," Basil snapped, wishing them all a nice, long vacation in Mousemoor Prison.
The time was now past midnight by their watches. The final task no longer required the police or the constable, and Basil would not rest until that task was fulfilled. Dawson stared longingly at their inn as they strode past it, onward to a small set of narrow, crowded homes. Basil eventually reached a home at the end of the lane and peered in the window, seeing Hawkins sound asleep in his chair. Instead of ringing the bell to alert the household, Basil tossed some pebbles at the glass. The rattling sound caused Hawkins to awaken and look around in a daze. Basil "Psst!" to Hawkins, followed by tapping on the window lightly. Hawkins questioned the appearance of a sea captain so late at night, but Basil warned him he should step outside unless he wanted his wife to know of his connection with The Terrible Three. Hawkins flinched and rushed outside, asking how a sea captain would know such a thing. Basil revealed their identities, asking if he recognized them both by now. Upon asking of the twins whereabouts next, Hawkins refrained, having Basil deduce that he had been greatly threatened by the trio.
Hawkins proceeded to tell the two that he was hired to do cabinetwork on the yacht along with handling the twins. He never meant to see any harm come to them and begged the detective not to tell The Terrible Three on him. Basil calmly assured the carpenter that they were taken away by the police and will no longer have the chance to threaten him. Upon hearing this, Hawkins soon feared that he too would go to jail for his crime. He again begged not to be taken away due to his wife and children. Basil, realizing this, made a bargain that if he helped them find the twins, he would not tell the police or his family of what he had done. The deal was set. Hawkins agreed and the three set off to retrieve the twins.
The trek to the hiding place of the twins was first through a long, dark, and treacherous forest. A heavy downpour soaked the trio to the bone and put their feet into mud well up to their ankles. With the guiding light of a lantern, they continued onward, feeling a little bit higher in spirit that they would soon be nearing the end of their dangerous case. Hawkins brought the two up to a tree that had been struck by lightning, stopping to tell them they were nearing a path that lead to an old barn. Safely out of the woods, the three continued through shoulder-high weeds and made their way to the barn half covered in overgrown shrubbery. Once inside the barn, Hawkins continued to lead with his lantern held high. He called out the girl's names, getting nothing in return. All three called out to the girls next, receiving a ghostly echo of a response. Hawkins informed them that the twins were in a locked room upstairs and normally responded when he called for them.
Basil soon laughed at the realization that it was past three in the morning and they were probably asleep. This calmed their nerves some, but not for long when a flapping of wings was heard over Dawson's head. An owl appeared and swooped down upon him. Hearing hoots and screeches, Dawson saw his worst nightmare come to life and was soon clutched by the claws of the owl. Basil and Hawkins immediately came to his aid and fought the creature by hitting it with found sticks. They did not stop there by biting, scratching and kicking at the feathered monster. The owl soon gave up and dropped Dawson, also dropping down from being badly hurt. Basil and Hawkins pulled Dawson aside to safety. Basil then bravely approached the angered owl to examine the damages, finding it would be unable to move for quite some time. The creature was not fully grown or Dawson would have been eaten right away. The three continued up a ladder with Hawkins becoming more agitated to see the twins. He could not wait to see the look on their faces when they saw who came to take them home.
Climbing the ladder to the loft, the three came to a narrow locked door. Hawkins paused to fit a long key into the padlock, allowing the door to swing open and reveal a large room. On the floor was a box filled with half-nibbled chocolates, but it was the delicate sound of snoring that made Dawson sigh with relief. His silent prayers had been answered. Although their clothes were tattered and torn, the twins were both sound asleep, alive and unharmed. Shaking them gently, the twins looked up sleepily to the three. It was until Basil and Dawson removed some of their makeup that they recognized who they were. With a shout of delight, the twins leaped upon the detective and doctor, covering them with sticky wet kisses. When Basil had enough, he waved the little mouselings away, telling them that their parents will soon shower them with affection. "As for myself, I'd sooner tackle a tabbycat than put up with all this kissing!" Giggling, they hugged Hawkins instead. Basil turned to look at the twins sternly, saying this all could have been avoided if they had not gone off with a stranger. The twins promised never to do it again, crossing their hearts.
Tired but content, the mice made their way back to the Greymouse Inn as the black of night began to turn into a dull pink of dawn. Once at the inn, Dawson pulled out his black bag to give the twins a complete check-up, glad to find that both were in perfect health. Hawkins offered to bathe them next. Having eight of his own, he was used to it. Meanwhile, Basil and Dawson were able to change back into their old clothes again. As soon as the shops opened, Hawkins was sent out to buy new pinafores for the twins. Once scrubbed clean and put into their new dresses, they appeared as the prettiest little white mice in all of England. Basil also attracted attention in the lobby once he was no longer wearing his disguise. Heads turned to now stare at the Sherlock Holmes of the Mouse World. With a train heading for London, Hawkins saw the four off at the Workington Station. Before it left the station, Basil told Hawkins that he planned to build a school annex and other buildings. He offered to hire him as a carpenter to do the job along with providing proper lodging for his family. If he was served a prison term, however, the job could wait. Hawkins bid them farewell and exclaimed, "Bless you, Basil-- and bless all of you!"
All the way home to London, the twins kept their noses pressed to the window of the train, watching the scenery flash by with delight. Upon arriving back at Euston Station, Basil and Dawson helped lift the two girls onto a hansom bound for Baker Street. Both the detective and doctor soon watched a heart-warming scene unfold of the children finally reunited with their parents. To Basil, it was an ample reward after all the dangers they faced. Mrs. Proudfoot hugged her daughters while Mr. Proudfoot wiped away tears of joy. Dawson's eyes were also far from being dry. Basil received a number of congratulations from friends and neighbors who had come round. After everyone left and Dawson and Basil settled into their rooms, Mrs. Judson surprised them with a cheese souffle, Basil's favorite dish. She happily deemed him the world's greatest detective, having Basil correct her at being the second. "Mr. Sherlock Holmes, of course, ranks first."
Finally, the two settled down in their chairs by the fire, Basil looking completely exhausted. As his doctor, Dawson ordered him to take a full week's rest. Yawning a bit, Basil sighed and said that sounded fearfully dull. As a storm raged on outside their window, the doorbell suddenly clanged, bolting Basil upright in his chair. Mrs. Judson came in next to tell him that a caller had arrived and said it was a matter of life and death. Giving a pleading look to Dawson as if to ask if that week's rest could wait, the doctor shrugged his shoulders, assuming he would probably grumble and groan the entire week if denied. "Get on with it!" and Basil faced the door with his tiredness magically gone.
With his eyes gleaming in eagerness, he replied, "Mrs. Judson, I am ready to receive my caller."
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