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The Case of Doctor Katsulas
Steve Sessions

Mr. Sherlock Holmes' method of analytical reasoning never ceased to astonish me during the years of our intimacy. Yet, while he claimed his "powers of deduction" could solve any occurrence no matter how occulted, I must finally confess that I never believed it for a minute. After all, Holmes' forensic methodology was to infer the particulars from the whole, which is induction, not deduction. It turns out I was correct in taking this cautious stance for his mistake was more than a mere semantic lapse but a prefiguration of the greater error of his convictions. Granted, it is true the solutions for many of our cases were oftentimes cleverly hidden, seemingly unaccountable by natural laws, yet Holmes unearthed answers rooted in the material world by digging deeply with a well-honed intellect. But the case of Doctor Katsulas was not. The mystery, as it were, proved effortless for my friend to unravel; what occurred afterwards still makes the hair of my nape stand erect.

It happened like this. On the snowy morning of December 23rd 19__, I was perishing well dead as I made my way to 221B Baker Street. The snow was thick, both in the air and on the miserably ploughed streets, the cold dreadfully invasive. The only comfort to be found was in that old aphorism, "a warm Christmas brings a fat churchyard;" nevertheless, I am ashamed to admit desiring filled cemeteries for a few appallingly callous blocks so long as I was excluded from their number. My wits returned with my color once I sat near the fire.

Holmes was in one of his heavy-lidded doldrums again. He was not ensconced in the big armchair reading the Daily Telegraph as I expected, instead on the sill in front of the bow windows, smoking his long pipe, blue rings rising in concentric circles as if ripples cast from a rock tossed in a pond. He was in a saturnine mood, head sunk upon his chest, hands clasped behind the back, and clothed in his mouse-coloured dressing-gown. The tobacco from his morning pipe, composed of all the plugs and dottles leftover from the day before, strongly perfumed the sitting-room.

"I do believe I am cursed," Holmes said rather wistfully -- as if I had always been there. I worked myself out of the heavy coat I wore, mindful of my shoulder (that blasted Jezial bullet!). Mrs. Hudson was off today, no doubt engaged in the trappings of the holiday: Christmas trees and stockings hung from the mantle, oyster soup and turkey and plum pudding, mince-pies and cherry-cheeked apples.

He turned from the mullioned windows, a pained look pinching his already compressed features. His face was constructed like the architecture of the day, spikily linear, and his thin eyebrows arched like twin steeples above his inscrutable eyes.

Things had been slow recently because of the weather, sending the criminal underworld into a sort of hibernation, and as I have recorded many times in my memoirs, it was dangerous for Holmes to be without a conundrum to stave off the ennui. Now that he was off the vile cocaine to keep his mind busy during such lulls, his brain began to feed off itself in a most unhealthy way.

"Do you know what I see out these windows?" He asked with a sigh.

"Surely much more than I could ever hope," I said, working myself out of my heavy coat.

"My blushes!" He responded, but then slouched in resignation. "It is, nevertheless, true. But it is an affliction, not a blessing. Not when it is Christmas. Look at the snow."

"I've seen enough," I remarked, settling into a velvet-lined armchair with a groan of ache and relief. I was careful to inspect the cushion for his three-powered magnifier as the brilliant detective was apt to leave it most anywhere but the rosewood stand which came with it.

As I settled he turned back to the frosted glass. "You see the phenomenon called Snow and, for better or worse, are quite content to see only that. I, on the other hand, see the individual ice crystals forming in the air, a blending of symmetry and chance, the temperature, humidity, and impurities in the atmosphere working on each one."

He turned to me forlornly, eyebrows sunken. "There is no magic."

"My word, Holmes," I exclaimed, feeling a twinge of sadness for him. "I do see what you mean. However, all that you've said only enhances the magic."

"That, my friend Watson," he declared, "is an attitude I should endeavor to achieve -- if ever I were to retire. For now, I believe there is work to be done."

He suddenly sprang up from the sill and crossed the room toward the door with such sprightly purpose I thought he might continue right on out into the street still wearing his gown. However, just as he reached for the knob, there was a knock upon the other side of the door and when Holmes flung it open a surprised commissionaire stood in the hall, knuckles poised for another rap. He held an envelope, which Holmes snatched away, produced a sixpence from his pocket, and closed it up in the commissionaire's palm. My friend had done all this, and shut the door, before the poor chap knew what had happened.

"You saw him coming up," I said as Holmes walked past. "When you were talking about the snow. Or perhaps heard him mounting the stairs."

He ignored me, instead unsealing the envelope with a deft slice of an Egyptian letter opener. Holmes pulled out the note and walked over to the fireplace. His right eyebrow steepled even higher.

"What is it?" I inquired. The firelight allowed me to see through the paper, but only so much as to ascertain its brevity. Holmes" face suddenly brightened. He handed me the summons, announcing, "We're off to the country."

	My Dear Mr. Sherlock Homes [it said],
	Please come at once.  Something of grave importance regarding my life's 
work has occurred and I desperately need your coöperation.  
	Dr. Katsulas
"How cryptic," said I; "do you know this person?"

"A gentleman who worked with Dr. Freud," Holmes responded with visible distaste. "But it must indeed be important for he fancies himself the sleuth as well. I'm sure it behooved him to write this, considering his, ah, super ego."

"Dear me, Holmes," I remarked. "You've just made a joke."

"It must be the cold," my friend recovered, tapping his skull with a slender finger. "Ice on the brain."

We found ourselves back in the nasty weather after a short railway journey from Charing Cross Station. A trap took us deep in the country which was covered in snow as white as altar-linen. It wasn't falling anymore but the chill remained and the winds were frightful; a number of times I thought we might overturn. We both had cravats wrapped tautly about our necks and up under our noses as the two-wheeled carriage clip-clopped toward Dr. Katsulas" manor house. Holmes, on the left-hand side of the carriage, had his Inverness shoulder-cape up over his head as well, in addition to the matching deerstalker cap. As we were tousled about behind the apron I asked him about the doctor's alluded work.

"Katsulas" area of expertise is the criminal mind -- the nutters. Scotland Yard's divisional sleuths have turned to him of recent (out of desperation I imagine) to help solve cases involving crimes committed by unstable persons. He provides them with a portrait of the criminal's mental leanings and various aspects concerning character which he can deduce from the nature of the crime. Lestrade speaks rather highly of him. As far as his present work, Dr. Katsulas has been attempting to fathom the inner-workings of Leather Apron, the East End Monster."

"Do go on," I urged, the trap moving along at a slow clip as steam billowed from the horse's nostrils like dragon's breath. The Ripper intrigued me, perhaps mostly because of the assumption that he was a doctor like myself. I fancied any theory that disproved this, mostly out of pride for my profession. I do have to admit, however, that it was agreed upon by most experts that the killer had some training in anatomy; he had removed a kidney from the front in one of the murders without mutilating the other organs surrounding it.

"He has an interesting concept," Holmes said, "quite different from most, and I can deduce it stems from embracing the ideas of his mentor, Dr. Freud. It is Katsulas" contention that the presumption of The Ripper as "sexual miscreant" is a premise which has wrongly shaped the course of investigation."

"I don't know if I follow."

"When Columbus arrived in America," Holmes said, "he thought it was Asia and proceeded to declare the first shrub that smelled like cinnamon -- an Asian spice -- as such. Such is the power of a faulty assumption."

"But if the Ripper wasn't a sexual deviant, than what was he?"

"The obsession, as Katsulas puts it, was not with sex organs but reproductive organs."

"What's the bloody difference?" I asked.

"In here," Holmes said enigmatically, tapping his brow with a sinewy finger, "there is a world of difference. Ah, we're here."

I looked up at the massive grey manor house, restlessly active, a structure of immense vitality. In the snow it appeared a castle looming up out of the clouds; two large iron gates rose from the whiteness, trimmed with snow, lacking only St. Peter.

As our driver trundled past the towering spires, we saw three children working diligently on a snowman. Two were boys, the third a little girl who was adjusting galoshes at the snowman's base. The lads were smoothing out the edges, adjusting the hat and the scarf. The snowman had a crooked raw carrot for a nose, lumps of coal for eyes and buttons, and maple-stick arms.

"Splendid," Holmes encouraged in a puff of breath through his scarf. I could tell he was trying on some Christmas cheer, but like an ill-fitting suit, it did not become him.

"The aim," said Holmes to me as we passed, "is to impose a form on the snow so it appears to exists for the sake of the form. But it is quite impossible. Snow exists bit by bit. You cannot appropriate it."

"Dear me," I exclaimed. "You are cursed. Surely the man of snow is more than the sum of its parts."

He sneered through the cravat as the driver let us off at the front double-doors. My friend presented him with half a sovereign for Christmas tip before he trundled off. Holmes paused a moment to take in his surroundings before pulling the bell ropes. "Now then," he said with some degree of anticipation, "we shall see what has brought us here."

Presently the door opened and we were let in by a Mrs. Pigeon, a frumpy yet circumspect housekeeper in Katsulas" employ, much like our own Mrs. Hudson. There was a distinctive purple bruise on the right side of her face which had been poorly concealed with makeup. Holmes arched an eyebrow.

A man appeared, moving with the nettled animation of the provoked, rubbing the back of his neck arduously. He was a loose-limbed man, wearing a dark suit, a crisp white shirt, and pearl-grey trousers with suspenders that embraced his protruding belly. He had on gold-framed glasses, and his thinning hair had been combed in odd swipes over his head to intimate more. This was undoubtedly Doctor Katsulas.

"Thank you for coming," he said, then noticed me with an inkling of distrust.

"This is my associate and intimate friend, Dr. Watson," Holmes assuaged, "before whom you make speak as if a part of myself." The introductions were made, our ulsters and hats and cravats taken, and we followed him to his study at the end of a long, stone-floored corridor, opposite a door leading to the courtyard.

Like the rest of the house, the room was a very large and high chamber, the walls lined with rare editions and curious artifacts, no doubt pertaining to his Ripper fancy. A wood fire crackled and hissed in a wide old-fashioned hearth flanked by two high-backed wing chairs. A Chesterfield sofa was against one side of the room, flanked by sèvres vases filled with red and gold chrysanthemums. There was a thick pile carpet that sprung underfoot. Double windows faced back out toward the front of the estate. A massive desk cluttered with papers was in the centre of the study, and I spied a leather-bound book lying on top. Die christliche Mystik, by Josef Görres. Double windows facing back out toward the front of the manse.

There was also, in the corner, a mannequin or wax figure, perhaps 5" 7" tall, dressed in a long dark coat trimmed with astrakhan, a white collar and a black tie. There was a large gold chain in his waistcoat. It wore kid gloves. A handlebar mustache was attached to the nondescript face.

"Have a seat," Katsulas offered. The wing-chairs by a deep fireplace with an ornate mantelpiece were indicated. He continued to knead the back of his tense neck absently.

Holmes, who had stepped over to the window with his magnifying glass out, turned to our host. "I see Lestrade was here."

The doctor blinked. "Mrs. Pigeon told you?"

"I said I could see, not hear," said Holmes. "However I also meant smell; the woolen jacket he has been wearing since the air turned chill produces a distinctive odor when wet. Almost all of the lanolin should be removed in the processing, of course, but there still can remain a tiny bit."

"Good God," Katsulas said.

"He was accompanied by no less than three bobbies," Holmes went on. "They spent a good bit of time outside your study window after it had stopped."

"You can smell that?" Katsulas asked.

"That's were visual acuity comes into play. The footprints are plainly recognizable, and would have naturally filled in any time earlier. They also tested the hold of the steel bars you have in place, which disturbed the snow clinging to them. One officer went so far as to cup his hands to the glass and peer inside; you can see his imprint from here."

"My word," I said.

"So are the footprints visible in your study on the pile carpet."

Katsulas dropped his hand from his neck. "I am ever so glad I called on you, Sir Holmes."

"Now then, what has happened?"

"A robbery most foul. Only I cannot understand how it occurred. Nor the police. Eggnog?"

"Please," Homes said.

Katsulas called on Mrs. Pigeon, asked for three glasses, and sent her out. He paused to look at that mannequin in the corner and he frowned. Presently Mrs. Pigeon entered with three glasses of eggnog on a silver tray and soon we were enjoying spiked holiday drinks. My friend crossed his legs neatly and said, "Now then, presumably something was taken from this room and you suspect the perpetrator entered through the window. But the bars were inspected and proved too solidly set to have been removed."

"That's precisely it," Katsulas said in astonishment. "The window was distinctly locked; I did so myself. The item was here this morning and I left my study but for a moment. When I returned, the window was open and it was gone. There were no tracks in the snow."

"Your housekeeper?" I asked.

"She was working in the entry, washing the floor -- except when she dumped a bucket of grimy water into the courtyard. Then she was right back to work. She never went in my study, and no one could have come in through the front door for they would have passed her."

"And the door to the courtyard," Homes brought up, gesturing cross the hall.

"Mrs. Pigeon keeps that locked at all times."

Holmes sipped his eggnog, then laid his finger on his chin. "This item. Could someone have reached in and taken it through the bars of the window?"

Katsulas looked over at the window and then his desk and shook his head emphatically. "No, no. No arm is that long."

"All right then. Tell us what is missing. Valuable no doubt."

"God yes," Katsulas exclaimed. "Only its pound value, while considerable, is secondary to its scientific import."

"Well what the deuce is it?" I asked impatiently.

The doctor took a deep breath, then went on. "Like I said in the letter, it has to do with my current work."

"Do you mean to say what was pilfered has to do with--"

"Gentlemen Jack, yes. It has everything to do with him. In fact, you might even go so far as to say it was Jack the Ripper who has been stolen."

"Dear me," I vociferated. "What on earth--?"

Katsulas held up a hand. After a short silence, broken only by the rattling of the windows, he explained. "My study has been primarily on the last of the Ripper murders. The first four, as you know, caused quite a panic, vigilante groups patrolling the street and detaining thousands for questioning, men carrying black Gladstone bags attacked by mobs."

"Doctor's bag," I said.

Katsulas ignored me. "After a lull of more than a month, the police commissioner resigning in disgrace, the Ripper struck again. This time he committed his crime safely inside and the pieces of the girl were spread about the room. The hysteria reached epidemic proportions, if it had not already. But nothing else happened. The killings mysteriously stopped."

"Mysteriously?" I inquired.

"No one who commits such crimes simply stops. They are either incapacitated, dead, or they move on to some other locale. But with the Ripper it appears as if the urge to kill simply possessed him, then as suddenly left."

Something struck me. ""Possess" was no doubt a figure of speech."

"At any rate," he went on, ignoring me. I heard Sherlock snort in irritation. "I have centred on this last murder because it took place in the face of almost certain capture and therefore doubly significant. Mary Kelly's murder broke all the patterns."

He held his eggnog glass up and looked at us through it for a moment and I was reminded of Holmes" distorted features when peering through his magnifier. "There was a witness. Not to the murder, but he did see the Ripper." Katsulas gestured to the mannequin. "At two a.m., the night of the killing, this man was returning home when he met Kelly on the street. She asked to borrow some money. He couldn't lend her anything. Kelly said, "I must go and look for some money." She passed him, met another man. Hat drawn down over his eyes, dark complected, Jewish appearance, handlebar mustache, bushy eyebrows. Large gold watch. The watch chain had a seal with some red stone hanging from it. He carried a package or a bag. The fellow put his hand on her shoulder and said something and the man and Kelly laughed and she replied "all right," and he said, "you will be all right for what I have told you." They walked back toward her place.

"The murder was the most ghastly. Completely eviscerated. Pieces of her draped here and there." He opened up his desk and Katsulas produced a photograph. "A picture's worth a thousand words, they say. This is Jack The Ripper."

He handed me the reproduction and it indeed expressed the sheer barbarism of Jack the Ripper's perverted mind more explicitly than any of the newspaper accounts or the lurid etchings in The Illustrated Police News. It seemed incomprehensible that someone who did this did not look a monster but has been described so eloquently, down to his spats.

The photograph shook in my fingers. Lying supine, dressed only in a chemise, Kelly's throat had been cut in a jagged smile from ear to ear. The blood was black, and spattered everywhere. My stomach turned and I quickly handed the picture to Holmes. He looked at it momentarily and sneered. He handed the photo back to the doctor.

I must say a strange thought entered my mind. What if Holmes, with his knack for expert disguises, was the Ripper? Perhaps during his cocaine use; the times coincided. I dropped the thought quickly the way a man might let go of a hot poker.

"Although the papers said no part of the viscera were missing, some were, including the uterus -- as in the case of an early victim. The doctor who did the post-mortem, and he explained that rigor had set but increased during the examination and that made it difficult to really pinpoint the exact time of death. Partially digested food helped set it around one or two in the morning, but of course we know it to be later. Also, the person who mutilated her had no scientific or anatomical knowledge, nor, in the doctor's opinion, possessed the technical knowledge of a butcher or slaughterer."

"But many other experts disagree," I noted.

"Please," Katsulas said with irritation. "Now then, we know that of the five or six sure Ripper murders, they were all characterized by extensive mutilation of women with the womb as the target of his attacks. This was absent once because of disturbance. People say this was sexual, but I say it was the reproductive organs he was fascinated with. It is with his own birth, with his mother."

Homes rolled his eyes. "Dr. Freud speaking, no doubt."

"Listen to me," Katsulas said. "Who is the greatest mother of all?"

"Mother Nature," Holmes retorted with some sarcasm.

"Mary," I replied without thinking. Then it hit me. "Mary. Mary Kelly." "But the others?" Holmes interrupted. "Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride."

Katsulas nodded. "Yes, you know the case. Good. But Polly is a nickname for Mary. Her real name was Mary Anne Nichols. Annie, or Anne, of course, is the mother of Mary. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist."

"Dear me. But what about the other," I asked. "Catherine . . . what was it? Eddowes?"

"Catherine gave me some trouble," he admitted. "Then it hit me, so obvious. Catherine must have been his mother's name. Which helped me narrow the search even more."

My eyes widened. "You've found him?"

"I have indeed," Katsulas said.

I looked at Holmes but the investigator remained silent, finger back on his chin. He seemed to be looking at Katsulas' desk drawer, which was poking out a little where he had ill-closed it upon returning the photograph.

"So, the killer's age had been narrowed down, and I knew his birth month, so I--."

"Hullo?," Holmes intruded. "How did you know that?"

"The watch with the red stone set in it. Birthstone. A ruby. He was born in July."

"Egad," I exclaimed. Sherlock was smiling in appreciation.

"Now, I also deduced he was an artist, and most likely his conflict with his mother he tried to work out through his painting and drawings of ovum but he could not quite get it. He needed more. He needed actual subjects."

"The missing uteruses."

"Correct."

"But how did you gather him an artist?" I wondered.

"The sobriquet given to him earlier was Leather Apron because of some eyewitnesses glimpsing one around his waist. At one of the murders, it is said, he even went so far as to leave behind a butcher's apron in response to this nickname. This was extremely clever. It batted away certain speculations and possibilities the way our predisposition to think his crimes sexual prevents other thought."

"Sir," I said; "I am irretrievably lost."

"It wasn't a leather butcher's apron people has seen earlier. It was a smock."

"A smock . . ."

"This accounts for a man who most definitely was spattered in blood not being noticed --- he was also spattered in paint."

"Of course," I said. "And as to the question of whether he was or was not a doctor based on the supposed understanding of anatomy--"

"An artist's appreciation and knowledge of human anatomy is keen, yet without the precision of a surgeon," Katsulas said. "No, he was an artist. It explained all of the circumstances surrounding Mary Kelly, in fact. Her mutilation was to be his last crime for some time, he knew; he committed it indoors and stayed long after, painting what he had seen so that he may relive it vicariously to tide him over. It is also how he enticed Mary to let him in. What he apparently suggested to Kelly was that she model for him. The package or bag he carried with him were his art supplies."

"I see. . . yes, I see. He says to her, this may seem odd but I'm an artist and you're just the type I'm looking for to model, and I will pay you well."

"And she laughs, relieved and quite happy about this circumstance, quite at ease with him."

"All right," Holmes said. "You say you found him?"

"I did. I went through British naturalization records with the information I had, cross-referenced with art schools. I was able to track him to a boarding house he hid out in, just after the first group of slayings, on the outskirts of London. He left behind an old trunk. It was stored in the basement, waiting for him to come collect it. Apparently, just about Christmas, someone got close without even knowing it; I can be positive he was questioned as a possible suspect, then fled without bothering to gather his belongings. And the murders stopped as a result of this."

"A result of leaving behind some belongings, the murders stopped? What, he couldn't buy another knife?" I said, unbelieving.

Katsulas continued without pause. "In this trunk that I have found were his evening clothes. His Ripper clothes." He gestured toward the mannequin again. "The reason I called you here is because a crucial part of that set has been stolen. His hat. A black soft felt hat. Very peculiar, that hat."

"Peculiar? How so?" I asked.

"I put it on, you see." He stammered a bit. "And suddenly I was . . . struck by a curious, unnamable something. I put on the hat, and I knew."

"Knew what?"

He shook his head. "I became inexplicably violent," he said regrettably.

"Striking your long-time housekeeper," Holmes spoke up.

The doctor was stunned.

"You are left-handed, I noted," Holmes continued. "There was a mark on the right-side of her face. You are also much shorter than she, and the bruise-"

"Yes, yes," he said. "I don't know what came over me. For a minute she was a two-penny whore and I felt the urge to . . . my temper was uncontrollable."

"And you blame the hat?" I asked, incredulous. "Surely you must take responsibility for your own actions."

"I do blame the hat," Katsulas said, "and I will tell you why. Please do not laugh at this. You see here my mannequin. Dressed in his clothes. I did not have the hat on him -- I had it on my desk. I would not put it on that effigy again because of its initial effect. It__ moved.__ I swear it. That figure moved as if alive. It tried to attack me one night as I sat here reading over a . . ."

I glanced over to Holmes and we shared a look.

"Fine. Don't believe me. I don't expect you to. But if you want to talk responsibility," Katsulas said, "then getting that hat back is of the utmost importance. Its a crucial piece of evidence that will, if I can have it examined, help me figure out not only Jack the Ripper, but evil itself."

Holmes had had enough. "I don't know about this other nonsense," he said. "And frankly I don't want to know. I think perhaps you have been working too hard on this case. But I do know where your hat is. And if you had told us in your communiqué what was missing I would have presented it to you at the front door myself not twenty minutes ago."

"Holmes," I cried. "How?"

"I asked if the "item" could have been grabbed through the window. You hesitated, Mr. Katsulas, before telling me that it was on the desk, in the centre of the room, and impossible to reach. This indicated to me that it was small enough to pass through the bars and it was the distance, not size, which gave you pause. Since then, and your elaborate detailing of the particulars of the Whitechapel case, I've been working on how a person might get to the item through the bars. Then I started thinking about how the item might get from the desk to them."

"What? Surely it can't very well have gotten up and walked out on its own," Katsulas said.

"On the contrary, my dear Katsulas, it did. I am not suggesting it simply vanished like a pricked soap bubble, but that, in a manner of speaking, it got up and left the room." He smiled wryly. "Considering the way the windows are rattling as we speak, and noting the way you did not follow through on your closing of the desk drawer when you showed us the photograph of the Kelly woman, and considering several books in your bookcase indicate the same laziness, not quite tucked back all the way, and considering the window hasps are made for right-handers, this brings me to the logical deduction that the hasp on the window was equally loose. The wind rattled the window open, as it is threatening to now, and that, taking in account the heaviness of your open study door and the fact that your Mrs. Pigeon had opened the door to the courtyard opposite, meant a certain dynamic of air currents were able to snatch your precious hat --"

"Through the bars of the window!" Katsulas shouted.

"Precisely."

"So it's out there somewhere blowing around!"

"It is out there somewhere, yes. But not blowing around," Sherlock Holmes said, holding up a finger to keep Katsulas from darting out madly into the snow. "As I told you, if you had cabled us what was missing, I could have presented it to you upon our arrival."

"How?" I asked.

Holmes turned to me with a touch of sad incredulity on his face, making me feel abashed. "But you could have also, Dr. Watson. You looked right at it."

That's when it struck me. I had not separated the particulars as Holmes" famous mind always does. I saw a snowman, not the individual pieces, just as I see snow for its totality, ignoring the solitary flakes. The hat had blown outside and was found by the children. Realization spread across my old face and Holmes smiled a lopsided grin at me. Then I was up from the chair with a groan, moving cross the carpet, gaping through the bars of the window in hopes of seeing the snowman with Katsulas" missing hat on top.

I was drawn away just then by Mrs. Pigeon, her face pallid with panic. "Doctor Katsulas! Come quick!"

"What is it?" The psychologist asked.

"Something's happened to Maria. The boys just ran inside, in a state of shock, saying . . .saying . . . "

"Saying what dear woman?"

"They're too upset to make any sense. Come quickly!"

Dr. Katsulas exited the room hurriedly on her frightened heels but I stayed behind, frozen in place as I looked out the window. "Dear me," I said. My stomach clenched tightly and I had to sit down, collapsing in the nearest chair.

My investigator friend laid a hand on my shoulder, noticing my pallor. "What it is, Watson?"

"I thought I might be able to see it from here, but I can't."

"Why sure you can. That window opens up on the gates. I saw them when I first inspected the--"

"No, no," I said. "I mean it's gone."

"The hat gone?"

"The snowman's gone."

Sherlock Holmes went to the window and exclaimed. For the spot where the snowman had been built was now an empty round hole and, leading away from it, were footprints, made by galoshes, widely spaced and deeply pressed, laid out across the pure driven snow. They disappearing into a copse of clump-headed elms marking the property line of Katsulas" estate. It's scarf hung from the branches of a yew.

And on the ground, near where the man of snow used to be, lay the young girl, Katsulas" Maria. She appeared to have fallen asleep making a snow-angel, but upon closer scrutiny, that was not the case.

* * *

Afterwards, Sherlock retreated into another one of his moods which lasted at least a fortnight, and I regret to say he relapsed into a period of seven-percent solution injections. Hardly a word was spoken between us for that time, and when the two of us did finally converse, the incident at Katsulas" place was strictly forbidden.

Where the old soft felt hat ended up is, of course, still a mystery. I do know, however, from reading The Times and the Daily Telegraph, that several women of easy virtue, all with names derivative of Mary or Anne or Kate, were brutally murdered during the weeks that followed in and about the Surrey countryside, only to stop inexplicably just after the first thaw.