//Mrs. Hudson's Adventure
MRS. HUDSON’S ADVENTURE: (Mar. 1 ‘99)
A POETIC PASTICHE
BY LIZ SOUTHWOOD
(AKA LADY CLARA ST. SIMON)
Fog drifted outside, concealing Baker Street.
The clip-clop of a carriage horse ceased
when it came to a stop outside the front door.
I heard loud banging next from a late caller.
I rushed down the stairs, ushered in a Beefeater,
whose aura of gloom was chill as London Tower.
He hurried in, tore off make-up and uniform,
before my eyes turned into Sherlock Holmes.
His mien was solemn as he said to me,
“Mrs. Hudson, you must help me save a lady.
Dr. Watson’s still ill with malarial chill.
I need you. I need a respectable female.”
My heart started to thump with fear and with dread.
Almost every day I expected him dead.
But he was a good lodger. “I’ll help,” I said.
He looked pleased. “A lady’s life hangs by a thread.
A carriage screeched to a stop in front of me.
A woman leaped out and attempted to flee,
dashing past where I stood near the Tower.
A man in stained black leaped out after her,
shoved aside passers-by, chased and caught her,
dragged her back to the hack and snarled at her,
but not before she dropped a scented handkerchief
whose embroidery I saw with disbelief.
As you may know, I recognize a hundred
coats of arms: this poor lady is nobly bred.
I was assaulted by his odor most foul.
Rotten teeth, I deduced, which I smelled as he growled
at her, ‘Hold still, or I'll shoot you, and do not yell
or your old country church bell will toll your death knell.’
“This whole episode has the smell of Moriarty,
who sells young ladies into slavery.
I pray we don’t arrive at Madlum too late
He’s hidden her there to await her fate.
“I have a plan. Tonight asylum patients
celebrate May Day wiith ancient folk dances.
We will join in, in Morris Dance costumes.”
We soon headed out through the London gloom
with six Irregulars in like disguise.
Fresh horses sped us through the cold foggy night.
In Madlum at last, we danced through torch-lit halls.
When Mr. Holmes glimpsed the captive, I gave her bells
to ring, ribbons to wave, led her along with smiles.
Mr. Holmes slipped some gold to her sentinel
while patients danced around a broomstick May Pole.
A red-faced man with bushy whiskers grabbed me.
Mr. Holmes with a crack on his jaw set me free.
We nine danced out of the noisy, crowded hall,
and escaped into the carriage hid in a stall.
We careened through the night to 221B
where we were greeted by her frantic fiance.
Thanks were expressed to Mr. Holmes next day
when a footman arrived with a note: “I pray
you will accept this precious stone from
her husband-to-be, this ruby sugarplum.”
The doctor, under the weather, but better,
spoke, “You must be the story’s recorder.”
Mr. Holmes put away the glowing jewel,
said gruffly to me, “You acquitted yourself well.”