As the newest Sherlock Holmes novel continues to work its way though the publishing process toward its debut November 16. I am posting previews from the book — introducing you to some of the irregulars featured in the Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars.
Irregular Lives tells the true story of Holmes’s relationship with the band of street-urchins who became is allies over two decades. Benjie was among the youngest of the irregulars. He was the younger brother of Archie — the lad who eventually took over leadership of the gang after Wiggins left.
This week, I’ll preview Benjie, an irregulars Doyle never mentioned by name. So, let me introduce you with a scene from the story:
BENJIE WAS MESMERIZED by the silver florin spinning in the gentleman’s fingers.
“My boy, this is yours for a few minutes’ work.”
“What d’you want?”
“A small thing really, Benjie. I’m . . . a doctor of sorts. I need a tiny vial of your blood for a patient.”
Benjie’s body recoiled.
“Just a thimbleful, is all.”
Benjie nodded, hesitantly. “For two bob, then.”
“Good boy. Let’s tell the dustman outside that he need not wait for you, shall we?”
The angular man put his arm around the ten-year-old boy’s shoulder and led him out to the street where Tux, a flying dustman, was waiting to collect the ash, rubbish and débris.
“What’s this then?” Tux asked, as Benjie approached, empty handed, toward the waiting horse and cart.
The doctor held out a shilling. “I have a small task for the lad. I’m sure you can do without him for the rest of the day.” He pressed the coin into Tux’s palm.
The ageing dustman looked askance at Benjie, who nodded.
“Very good, guv’ner,” Tux agreed. “You can find your way home, can’t you, Benjie?”
The dirty refuse-collector shrugged his shoulders and, grumbling under his breath, grabbed the reins of his nag and urged it onward.
Benjie was led back into the doctor’s elegant home, and soon found himself lying on his back atop a narrow padded table.
“I’m going to prick your arm with a needle. Hold it still and steady. Close your eyes.”
Benjie shut his eyes; but they suddenly flew open when the doctor’s hand clamped his arm against the tabletop.
“Ow!” Benjie yelped, as the needle struck his vein.
“Quiet. This will only take a moment.”
The sting in Benjie’s arm lessened, and his body relaxed.
“There,” said the Doctor.
As the needle was pulled out, Benjie watched a bead of blood cut a scarlet track down his forearm.
I hope that you will continue to follow this blog as the countdown continues to November 16 — when Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars hits the bookstores.
For while these sneak previews may be fun, they are not a substitute for reading (or listening to) the entire adventure. You can PRE-ORDER NOW on Amazon!