Associates of Sherlock Holmes - George Mann
THE RIVER OF SILENCE
Stanley Hopkins, who makes his canonical debut in “The Adventure of Black Peter”, is described as a young police inspector so newly minted that he still retains the posture of a roundsman wearing an official uniform. In all the cases in which he appears, he evinces the utmost regard for Holmes, professing “the admiration and respect of a pupil for the scientific methods of the famous amateur”. Holmes, in turn, seems rather paternally amused by Hopkins, often attempting to steer him in the right direction without entirely giving the game away. This is the story of their first encounter.
Letter sent from Inspector Stanley Michael Hopkins to Mrs Leticia Elizabeth Hopkins, Sunday April 29th, 1894
Thank you for the new muffler and fingerless gloves – you’re dead to rights in supposing a promotion calls for a fellow to look smart, and right to consider that I should have my hands free to boot! You worried over the colour, but it’s just the ticket. A nice, dignified navy will do very well with my brown ulster.
How strange and freeing it is to be out of blue livery and stalking the shadowed streets in neat tweeds! The lads from H Division hooted over my plainclothes at first, saying I looked a smug breed of pigeon, but there was no malice in it and they toasted me plentiful times calling out, “Three cheers for our own Inspector Hopkins!” down at the Bull’s Head last week. (I didn’t myself join in enough to mar the solemnity of my new station, I promise you.)
My musty cubby at the Yard is well-outfitted now, with maps and reference volumes, plentiful ink and paper, and a flask of brandy should any females be forced to consult me in a state of distress – you understand I’d never hope for such a thing, but we live in a dark city, and I mean to shed some light on it. My resolve has impossibly redoubled since the news came down I was to shed my uniform, and when I’ve already thought of nothing else since… well, you know best of anyone to what I refer.
Enough dark reflections. Probably you’ve read of this, but Sherlock Holmes himself has returned as if by miracle from the dead and is to practice independently again in London. What a weird and wonderful world! Before I’d any inkling of joining the Peelers, I admired his brilliant methods (“idolised” Dad used to tease, remember?) and now to make inspector during the very week of his triumphant return from the depths… what an absolute corker. I can’t but think it providential, Mum, truly.
On that note: dare I surmise that the gloves and muffler suggest you’re at peace with my occupation, and your disappointment over my not becoming a clergyman like Dad has faded?
Trusting I interpret your kindly gifts aright, as I’m now to become a professional at reading the subtlest clues, I remain,
Letter sent from Inspector Stanley Michael Hopkins to Mrs Leticia Elizabeth Hopkins, Tuesday May 1st, 1894
I’m sorry for thinking the muffler and gloves suggested you had come round to the notion of my being a policeman. Rest assured that I intend to prove you needn’t simply make the best of a bad business, and can instead feel as proud as you would if I were delivering sermons (a task at which I’ve many times told you I’d be dismal). Remember all the occasions when Sherlock Holmes’s exploits led to God’s justice being served?
Thank you for the dried sausages – they arrived quite safe, and I wrapped them against mice just as you said. Must beg pardon for brevity, as a strange teak box was just dredged from the Thames with something terrible in it. The other inspectors seem not to want to touch the business – dare I hope that I might have the chance to test my mettle, and so soon?
Telegram from SCOTLAND YARD, WHITEHALL to BEXLEY, Tuesday May 1st, 1894
CONTENTS OF TEAK BOX MOST DISTRESSING STOP THANKFULLY CASE ASSIGNED TO ME STOP WILL FULLY APPRISE YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE STOP DUTY CALLS STOP YES I WILL BE CAREFUL
Entry in the diary of Stanley Michael Hopkins, Tuesday May 1st, 1894
Too much has happened to set it all on paper – but I must put my thoughts in proper order, no matter if I’m grasping at snowflakes only to watch them dissolve. Here at Scotland Yard I feel as if I’m starting my career afresh, and