Maddened by Mystery
by Stephen Leacock
THE great detective sat in his office. He wore a long green
gown and half a dozen secret badges pinned to the outside of
Three or four pairs of false whiskers hung on a
whisker-stand beside him.
Goggles, blue spectacles, and motor glasses lay within
He could completely disguise himself at a second's notice.
Half a bucket of cocaine and a dipper stood on a chair at
his elbow. His face was absolutely impenetrable.
A pile of cryptograms lay on the desk. The Great
Detective hastily tore them open one after the other, solved
them, and threw them down the cryptogram-chute at his side.
There was a rap at the door.
The Great Detective hurriedly wrapped himself in a pink
domino, adjusted a pair of false black whiskers and cried,
His secretary entered. "Ha," said the
detective, "it is you."
He laid aside his disguise.
"Sir," said the young man in intense
excitement, "a mystery has been committed!"
"Ha!" said the Great Detective, his eye
kindling, "is it such as to completely baffle the police of the entire
"They are so completely baffled with it," said the
secretary, "that they are lying collapsed in heaps; many of
them have committed suicide."
"So," said the detective, "and is the mystery one that is
absolutely unparalleled in the whole recorded annals of the
"And I suppose," said the detective, "that it involves
names which you would scarcely dare to breathe, at least
without first using some kind of atomizer or throat-gargle."
"And it is connected, I presume, with the highest
diplomatic consequences, so that if we fail to solve it
England will be at war with the whole world in sixteen
His secretary, still quivering with excitement, again
"And finally," said the Great
Detective, "I presume that
it was committed in broad daylight, in some such place as
the entrance of the Bank of England, or in the cloak-room of
the House of Commons, and under the very eyes of the
"Those," said the secretary, "are the
very conditions of the mystery."
"Good," said the Great Detective, "now
wrap yourself in this disguise, put on these brown whiskers and tell me what
The secretary wrapped himself in a blue domino with lace
insertions, then, bending over, he whispered in the ear of
the Great Detective:
"The Prince of Wurttemberg has been kidnapped."
The Great Detective bounded from his chair as if he had
been kicked from below.
A prince stolen! Evidently a Bourbon! The scion of one
of the oldest families in Europe kidnapped. Here was a
mystery indeed worthy of his analytical brain.
His mind began to move like lightning.
"Stop!" he said, "how do you know this?"
The secretary handed him a telegram. It was from the
Prefect of Police of Paris. It read: "The Prince of
Wurttemberg stolen. Probably forwarded to London. Must have
him here for the opening day of the Exhibition. £1,000
So! The Prince had been
kidnapped out of Paris at the
very time when his appearance at the International
Exposition would have ben a political event of the first
With the Great Detective, to think was to act, and to act
was to think. Frequently he could do both together.
"Wire to Paris for a description of the Prince."
The secretary bowed and left.
At the same moment there was a slight scratching at the
A visitor entered. He crawled stealthily on his hands and
knees. A hearth-rug thrown over his head and shoulders
disguised his identity.
He crawled to the middle of the room.
Then he rose.
It was the Prime Minster of England.
"You!" said the detective.
"Me," said the Prime Minister.
"You have come in regard the kidnapping
of the Prince of Wurttemberg?"
The Prime Minister started.
"How do you know?" he said.
The Great Detective smiled his inscrutable smile.
"Yes," said the Prime Minister.
"I will use no
concealment. I am interested, deeply interested. Find the
Prince of Wurttemberg, get him safe back to Paris and I will
add £500 to the reward already offered. But listen,"
he said impressively as he left the room, "see to it that no
attempt is made to alter the marking of the prince, or to
clip his tail."
So! To clip the Prince's tail! The brain of the Great
Detective reeled. So! a gang of miscreants had conspired
to--but no! the thing was not possible.
There was another rap at the door.
A second visitor was seen. He wormed his way in, lying
almost prone upon his stomach, and wriggling across the
floor. He was enveloped in a long purple cloak. He stood up
and peeped over the top of it.
It was the Archbishop of Canterbury!
"Your Grace!" exclaimed the detective in amazement--"pray
do not stand, I beg you. Sit down, lie down, anything
rather than stand."
The Archbishop took off his mitre and laid it wearily on
"You are here in regard to the Prince of Wurttemberg."
The Archbishop started and crossed himself.
Was the man a magician?
"Yes," he said, "much depends on getting him back. But I
have only come to say this: my sister is desirous of seeing
you. She is coming here. She has been extremely indiscreet
and her fortune hangs upon the Prince. Get him back to
Paris or I fear she will be ruined."
The Archbishop regained his mitre, uncrossed himself,
wrapped his cloak about him, and crawled stealthily out on
his hands and knees, purring like a cat.
The face of the Great Detective showed the most profound
sympathy. It ran up and down in furrows. "So," he
muttered, "the sister of the Archbishop, the Countess of
Dashleigh!" Accustomed as he was to the life of the
aristocracy, even the Great Detective felt that there was
here intrigue of more than customary complexity.
There was a loud rapping at the door.
There entered the Countess of Dashleigh. She was all in
She was the most beautiful woman in England. She strode
imperiously into the room. She seized a chair imperiously
and seated herself on it, imperial side up.
She took off her tiara of diamonds and put it on the
tiara-holder beside her and uncoiled her boa of pearls and
put it on the pearl-stand.
"You have come," said the Great Detective, "about the
Prince of Wurttemberg."
"Wretched little pup!" said the Countess of Dashleigh in
So! A further complication! Far from being in love with
the Prince, the Countess denounced the Bourbon as a pup!
"You are interested in him, I believe."
"Interested!" said the Countess. "I should rather say so.
Why, I bred him!"
"You which?" gasped the Great Detective, his usually
impassive features suffused with a carmine blush.
"I bred him," said the Countess, "and
I've got £10,000 pounds upon his chances, so no wonder I want
him back in Paris. Only listen," she said, "if they've got hold
of the Prince and cut his tail or spoiled the markings of his
stomach it would be far better to have quietly put out of
the way here."
The Great Detective reeled and leaned up against the side
of the room. So! The cold-blooded admission of the
beautiful woman for the moment took away his breath!
Herself the mother of the young Bourbon, misallied with one
of the greatest families of Europe, staking her fortune on a
Royalist plot, and yet with so instinctive a knowledge of
European politics as to know that any removal of the
hereditary birth-marks of the Prince would forfeit for him
the sympathy of the French populace.
The Countess resumed her tiara.
The secretary re-entered.
"I have three telegrams from Paris," he said. "They are
He handed over the first telegram.
"The Prince of Wurttemberg has a long, wet snout, broad
ears, very long body, and short hind legs."
The Great Detective looked puzzled.
He read the second telegram.
"The Prince of Wurttemberg is easily recognized by his
And then the third.
"The Prince of Wurttemberg can be recognized by a patch of
white hair across the centre of his back."
The two men looked at one another. The mystery was
The Great Detective spoke.
"Give me my domino," he said. "These clues must be
followed up," the pausing, while his quick brain analysed
and summed up the evidence before him--"a young man," he
muttered, "evidently young since described as a 'pup,' with
a long, wet snout (ha! addicted obviously to drinking), a
streak of white hair across his back (a first sign of the
results of his abandoned life)--yes, yes," he continued,
"with this clue I shall find him easily."
The Great Detective rose.
He wrapped himself in a long black cloak with white
whiskers and blue spectacles attached.
Completely disfigured, he issued forth.
He began the search.
For four days he visited every corner of London.
He entered every saloon in the city. In each of them he
drank a glass of rum. In some of them he assumed the
disguise of a sailor. In others he entered as a solider.
Into others he penetrated as a clergyman. His disguise was
perfect. Nobody paid any attention to him as long as he had
the price of a drink.
The search proved fruitless.
Two young men were arrested under suspicion of being the
Prince, only to be released.
The identification was incomplete in each case.
One had a long wet nose but no hair on his back.
The other had hair on his back but couldn't bark.
Neither of them was the young Bourbon.
The Great Detective continued his search.
He stopped at nothing.
Secretly, after nightfall, he visited the home of the
Prime Minister. He examined it from top to bottom. He
measured all the doors and windows. He took up the
flooring. He inspected the plumbing. He examined the
furniture. He found nothing.
With equal secrecy he penetrated into the palace of the
Archbishop. He examined it from top to bottom. Disguised
as a choir-boy he took part in the offices of the church.
He found nothing.
Still undismayed, the Great Detective made his way into
the home of the Countess of Dashleigh. Disguised as a
housemaid, he entered the service of the Countess.
Then at last a clue came which gave him a solution of the
On the wall of the Countess's boudoir was a large framed
It was a portrait.
Under it was a printed legend:
The portrait was that of a Dachshund.
The long body, the broad ears, the unclipped tail, the
short hind legs--all was there.
In a fraction of a second the lightning mind of the Great
Detective had penetrated the whole mystery.
THE PRINCE WAS A DOG ! ! ! !
Hastily throwing a domino over his housemaid's dress, he
rushed to the street. He summoned a passing hansom, and in
a few moments was at his house.
"I have it," he gasped to his secretary. "The mystery is
solved. I have pieced it together. By sheer analysis I
have reasoned it out. Listen--hind legs, hair on back, wet
snout, pup--eh, what? does that suggest nothing to you?"
"Nothing," said the secretary; "it seems perfectly
The Great Detective, now recovered from his excitement,
"It means simply this, my dear fellow. The Prince of
Wurttemberg is a dog, a prize Dachshund. The Countess of
Dashleigh bred him, and he is worth some £25,000 in
addition to the prize of £10,000 offered at the Paris
dog show. Can you wonder that----"
At that moment the Great Detective was interrupted by the
scream of a woman.
The Countess of Dashleigh rushed into the room.
Her face was wild.
Her tiara was in disorder.
Her pearls were dripping all over the place.
She wrung her hands and moaned.
"They have cut his tail," she gasped, "and taken all the
hair off his back. What can I do? I am undone! !"
"Madam," said the Great Detective, calm as bronze, "do
yourself up. I can save you yet."
"Listen. This is how. The Prince was to have been shown
The Countess nodded.
"Your fortune was staked on him."
The Countess nodded again.
"The dog was stolen, carried to London, his tail cut and
his marks disfigured."
Amazed at the quiet penetration of the Great Detective,
the Countess kept on nodding and nodding.
"And you are ruined?"
"I am," she gasped, and sank to the floor in a heap of
"Madame," said the Great Detective, "all is not lost."
He straightened himself up to his full height. A look of
inflinchable unflexibility flickered over his features.
The honour of England, the fortune of the most beautiful
woman in England was at stake.
"I will do it," he murmured.
"Rise dear lady," he continued.
"Fear nothing. I WILL
IMPERSONATE THE DOG! ! !"
That night the Great Detective might have been seen on the
deck of the Calais packet boat with his secretary. He was
on his hands and knees in a long black cloak, and his
secretary had him on a short chain.
He barked at the waves exultingly and licked the
"What a beautiful dog," said the passengers.
The disguise was absolutely complete.
The Great Detective had been coated over with mucilage to
which dog hairs had been applied. The markings on his back
were perfect. His tail, adjusted with an automatic coupler,
moved up and down responsive to every thought. His deep
eyes were full of intelligence.
Next day he was exhibited in the Dachshund class at the
He won all hearts.
"Quel beau chien!" cried the French people.
"Ach! was ein Dog!" cried the Spanish.
The Great Detective took the first prize.
The fortune of the Countess was saved.
Unfortunately, as the Great Detective had neglected to pay
the dog tax, he was caught and destroyed by the
dog-catchers. But that is, of course, quite outside of the
present narrative, and is only mentioned as an odd fact of