Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Stolen Crown

An original Sherlock Holmes story set a short time after A Scandal in Bohemia. It follows Sherlock and Watson as they investigate the theft of Her Majesty's crown.

Chapter 1

A New Adventure

December 5th, 1888

"Not much for decorations, was he?"
Sherlock said passively as he stepped into the flat of their newest case. Detective Lestrade walked alongside him as they looked around the room. "Joseph Engels. About 47 years old." They kept walking into the kitchen.
"Where did the man work?" Sherlock implored
"He used to work as a coal miner in Bristol."
"Bristol? What in the world was he doing here?"
"He left after he received threats from a co-worker regarding some bet he lost."
Sherlock shrugged. This wasn't the first murder he had investigated. He remembered 7 years ago when he had solved the case of the love-struck American. He looked about the flat, a small home by some standards, with white, cracked walls, and a single painting framed above the sitting room couch. The window looked out into Baker Street, just down the street from 221B, where John Watson was hastily getting himself together. He had just woken up, and found a single piece of paper attached to the door that read, in familiar hand-writing:
"Come to 237B at earliest convenience.
Bring my pipe"
-S.H.
Watson threw on a pair of trousers and a shirt, fixed his hat, and pulled on his shoes. He grabbed Sherlock's pipe from the nightstand in his bedroom, ignoring the strong smell of tobacco that came from its repetitive use. Watson left the building and started down Baker Street, wondering whether it was a murder or a robbery that brought him out of the flat this early in the morning. Sherlock never took a case unless it was interesting, so he knew he'd be writing about this when they returned home.

"Was the poor chap married?" Sherlock turned to Lestrade as they strode into towards the bedroom door.
Lestrade took a small iron key from his breast pocket and positioned it near the door, "He had a wife, but she died some years ago. Mr. Engel kept the ring, but had her name engraved in it."
"And where is the ring now?"
"It's missing. We suspect that it was stolen during the murder."
"Well, I say, Lestrade! Where else could it have gone if it had not been stolen?"
Lestrade placed the key into the lock hole and gave it a stern but gentle turn, and pushed the door open. Inside, resting in front of the small sheetless bed, laid the limp body of Joseph Engels. Around the body was a sizeable pool of cold blood, which led back up into the gaping hole in the man's chest. The body was laying on its back, its eyes still wide open and with a look of terror in them.
"Well, I would assume this is our man." Sherlock remarked as he stepped inside the room towards the body.
He looked around the small room, noticing its dull décor, much like the rest of the house. However, Sherlock smelled a distinct odor of drying paint, and looked to the back wall, just to the far side of the bed (for the bed was perpendicular to the door). Sherlock kneeled down over the body, and quickly closed the man's eyes. He opened the man's shirt, and, examining the chest wound, turned to Lestrade, "Did you happen to find a murder weapon?"
"No, Sir, we did not."
"Hmm. Of course not. Why would you?"
Sherlock took out a thin glass rod from his coat pocket. The rod had notches in the side that represented one inch each. He placed the rod into the wound, and pressed it as far as it would go.
"Well, have no fear, my dear Lestrade. We're looking at a knife no bigger than five-and-a-half inches long. By the shape of the wound, I'd say it was made in Bristol, the old town where our friend is from."
Sherlock closed the man's shirt, and examined the body's hands. It's right hand had a ling cut going from the top of the palm down to the wrist. Sherlock looked over at the left hand, and found that the man was missing his ring finger.
"What did you say the wife's name was?"
"I didn't say it. Her name was Marigold Engels, née Smith."
"And you said that Joseph here had her initials engraved on the ring? Tell me, was it the maiden name or the married name that he used?"
"No doubt the married name."
Sherlock stood up, but not before seeing a smudge of black on the man's left palm. He bent down again to get a closer look. He also noticed that there was a black smudge on the fellow's shirt, as well.
"Have you contacted the Engel's friend in Bristol?"
"Which one would that be, Sherlock?"
"The chap that threatened him out of town."
"No, we haven't been able to get a hold of him."
Sherlock stood up and wiped the glass rod off on a handkerchief and stuck it back into his pocket. "Well, if I were you, I'd get started on a search for the gentlemen."
Lestrade looked puzzled for a moment, and asked, "What for?"
Sherlock chuckled, "What for? Why, he's our murderer, of course! What other evidence would you need? The miner was intent on getting the money he had lost to Engels here, and so he came al the way to London to take it by any means. Just look at this man's palm and shirt! It is covered in coal dust."
Lestrade looked down at the man's palm, "Oh, I see. We must have looked over that in the preliminary search."
"Which is not a surprising feat of Scotland Yard's finest. That is why you asked for me, was it not? Or, perhaps you just like to be shown the obvious which, in the case of the Yarders, is not very obvious."
At that moment, John Watson strode through the bedroom door. He saw the dead corpse on the floor and immediately stepped back. Even after seven years, he still wasn't ready for the kind of surprises Sherlock set him up with.
He walked past Lestrade and handed Sherlock his pipe, still smelling of tobacco.
'Next time, perhaps a little forewarning wouldn't hurt," Watson mumbled as he bent down in front of the body. He would have made an observation, but he already knew Sherlock had beaten him to it long before he got there.

"Well?" Sherlock huffed as he stuffed the pipe with fresh tobacco from his case and lit a match on the underside of his shoe.

"Well what?" Watson asked. He already knew that Sherlock said everything he would say, so there was no point in commenting on anything further.

"How do you suppose our dear friend went about dying?" Sherlock held the match to his pipe long enough to light the tobacco. He gave it a puff and blew out the match. The smoke quickly filled the air and made Lestrade cough.

"Well, I'd say the murderer came in through the broken window in the sitting room, had a tussle with this man, and finally dealt the blow to the chest."

Lestrade looked perplexed at the mention of a broken window, "What broken window? There is no broken win-"
"Aha! There you are again! Showing yourself as the finest Yarder that Her Majesty has ever seen! Come, let me show you what Mr. Watson speaks of." Sherlock took Lestrade by the shoulder and led him to the sitting room window. It was covered by a dimly transparent curtain. Sherlock moved the curtain to the side to reveal a broken window glass, cracked into a giant hole. On the bottom of the window there was a small hint of blood running down a sharp crack in the glass. Lestrade looked amazed. He couldn't believe he and the other inspectors had missed it the first time around. He was going to ask where the broken off pieces went until he looked down and found he was standing in a pile of broken glass. He stepped back and found a rock laying among the glass shards, about the size of an apple. He wondered how Sherlock, and especially Watson, were able to see this detail that the whole company of Yarders couldn't help but look over. He figured it was luck, but quickly changed his thought when he remembered who he was talking to.
"So, how do make all of this out?"
Sherlock let go of Lestrade and took another puff from his pipe.
"Well, here is what I make of it:
Our murderer broke the window with that there rock, and climbed in through it, but cut his hand on a sharp part of the broken pane. Mr. Engels was awoken by this, and got up to investigate. However, before the lad had time to reach for the door, our murderer comes bursting into the room, and starts swinging at him. At some point, Engels tried to grab the knife out of the murderer's hand, but unfortunately only got the blade end of it. Engels, shocked and in pain, was distracted long enough for our murderer to make a quick jab at Engels' chest. He left Engels to bleed out on the floor and quickly left, but not before cutting off the poor chap's ring finger and stealing money from his shirt pocket, hence the coal smudges."

Sherlock took a deep breath and puff on his pipe.
Lestrade was astonished at this, but was also a little disappointed. Usually, Sherlock made the entire investigation out: the crime, the weapon, even the physical appearance and personal preferences of the murderer.
"Is that all? Do you not know anything about our murderer?"
Sherlock took a long drag from his pipe, "Well, we know that he is a miner, so he is likely to be brawny, tall, and unfathomably dirty with coal dust," Sherlock held out his left hand, and curled his ring finger back, "we also know that he in currently in possession of two wedding bands and a severed ring finger."
Lestrade took a mental note to never ask that again. "Right. And where should we begin our search?"
Sherlock strolled to the sitting room and sat down on the couch, "Well, we'd be most likely to find him hiding-"
Just then, Detective Inspector Gregson came into the flat. Tobias Gregson was another one of the Yarders, and worked with Lestrade briefly to catch Jefferson Hope a few years back. His gruff, bearded face and dreary eyes suggested he had been up for several long nights in a row. He strolled over to Sherlock and Lestrade, who was much taller than he.
"Why, dear Tobias! To what do we owe the pleasure?" Sherlock said facetiously while taking another puff.

"I assure you, I would not be here if I hadn't the need for it." He looked over at Lestrade who had gone back into the bedroom where Watson still was. He looked back at Sherlock. "We have a theft of the utmost impor-"

"Theft? You come to a murder scene to complain about theft? Ha! I doubt there is any theft that could be more important than that man over there." Sherlock said, pointing to Engels' body in the next room.

"I assure you, this is far more important."

"And how so?" Sherlock took another puff

"It is a theft of Her Majesty."

Sherlock's smile quickly faded, and, leaning forward, said in a serious manner, "And what exactly was this theft?"

"The theft would be that of Her Majesty's crown."

Sherlock gave a short chuckle, "Which one?"

Gregson couldn't help but grinning also, "It would be the Imperial State Crown."

Sherlock leaned back and took another puff of his pipe. "But, doesn't Her Majesty wear her little diamond crown? What was so important about the Imperial State Crown?"

"It was set to be placed in the Palace as a decoration piece. It was being taken by hand by a Royal Guard to be cleaned and polished before display.

"But I assume it never got to its destination?"

"No, it didn't. Neither the crown nor the Guard made it there."

"No? And where is he now?"

"He was found dead in an abandoned shoe blacking factory. He had a single gunshot wound to the left temple."

Sherlock stood up and took one final puff of his pipe. He called out for Watson, and told him what was happening. "So, the Queen asked for us specifically?"

Tobias nodded, "She asked for the very best, and I told her to look no further than 221B, Baker Street."

Sherlock began walking towards the door, "Yes, thank you for your honest flattery, but I'm afraid that we must make haste if we are to solve this with reasonable time. Come along, Watson."

"But, Sherlock," Watson implored, "where could we possibly be going?"

"Why, my dear Watson," Sherlock turned back and smiled at him, "We're going to see the Queen."

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