As the newest Sherlock Holmes novel works its way though the publishing process toward publication in November, 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.
This week, I’ll preview Ugly, one of the irregulars Doyle never mentioned by name. So, let me introduce you.
Irregular Lives tells the story of how Holmes met Ugly. You may not have known that they met in the midst of the one of the most horrendous murder cases in Scotland Yard. Ugly adopted and raised by the costers of the Spitalfields Market. It’s exciting tale. Here’s a scene for that story:
As Holmes prepared to depart the barracks he noticed one of the guards at the gate had nabbed a small boy by the collar. The nipper, about nine or ten, was screaming bloody murder. His dog was yelping and biting at the heels of the guard.
“Hey, you bastard, let me be!” the lad bellowed.
His arms flailed about as he kicked furiously at the guard, who was clearly on the losing end. Holmes chuckled and walked on.
“I’m lookin for mi Da!” the boy yelled.
Holmes called: “Set him down Corporal. I’ll see to him.”
With that, the lad was dropped to the ground, and the dog ceased his caterwauling.
“What’s your name boy?” Holmes asked.
“Ugly,” was the nipper’s reply. And to be fair, the lad was that. Whether an affliction, or accident of birth, the youth had inordinately large facial features and hands. His lips protruded, framing a huge grin. His brows were bushy, and his ears jutted out. All of this combined to give him an otherworldly appearance. “And, this here is Nicki,” the lad added.
“Pleased to meet you both. Do you have a Christian name?”
“That’s the only name I’ve got. The truth’s the truth, sir. Accept it, is what I say.”
“I concur with your philosophy,” Holmes said.”
“I agree with you. So, you’re looking for your father?”
“Aye, he ’ad business ’ere, ’e did.”
“What does your father look like?”
“Just a bloke.”
“Where’s your mother?”
“She’s dead and buried. Just me and mi Da now.”
“Holmes glimpsed the lorry disappearing down Repository Road.
“Why don’t you come along with me?”
“Don’t think as I will,” the lad declared.
“Where will you go?” Holmes asked.
“I have mi mates. Good lads. All for one, an’ one for all, is our motter.
“Do you know who said that?
“But, before that, it was the Three Musketeers who said those words. Brave fellows who fought for justice.”
“I like that,” Ugly said. He cocked his head. “How did these mustaters go on?”
Holmes peered into the dirty face of the boy. “They lived happy lives, full of adventure.”
The boy’s countenance lit up. “Aye—all for one, an’ one for all!” he shouted, sticking his fist the air. “Come on, Nicki!”
I hope that you will follow this blog in the coming weeks as I introduce Snape, Archie, Kate, Benjie, and others. And, while these sneak previews are fun, they are not a substitute for reading (or listening to) the entire adventure. I’ll let you know the moment it hits the bookstores in November.