Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Five Orange Pips
|The Five Orange Pips|
|Author||Arthur Conan Doyle|
|Series||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
|Villain(s)||The Ku Klux Klan|
The Five Orange Pips, one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the fifth of the twelve stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine in November 1891. Conan Doyle later ranked the story seventh best out of his twelve Adventure stories.
The story, set in 1887, revolves around three men's mysterious deaths. Holmes's client, John Openshaw, comes to 221B Baker Street through wretched weather to seek the great detective's help. He explains that his uncle Elias returned to England after years in Florida and took up residence at Horsham, where his reclusive behaviour struck his nephew as rather odd. It became even odder one day when Uncle Elias received a letter from Pondicherry, India, containing nothing but five dried orange pips and a message that said simply "KKK". He became maniacal after that, and seven weeks later, he died in what was apparently a suicide. John does not believe, however, that his uncle would kill himself.
John's father Joseph then inherited the house, and eventually, a similar thing happened to him. He received the letter with five orange pips and the inscription "KKK". However, there was also a more explicit message telling him to "put the papers on the sundial". Also, his letter was postmarked Dundee. Five days later, Joseph, too, suffered a mysterious unfortunate accident resulting in his death.
John's immediate reason for coming to Holmes turns out to be that he has now received a similar letter, whose postmark indicates that it was sent from London's East End.
Holmes understands the implication of "KKK" right away, although Watson has never heard of the Ku Klux Klan. It is obvious that there is some link between these incidents and John's uncle's years in the United States. It is also obvious that the KKK is out to settle some score.
Watson does, however, after Holmes's prompting, make an observation: the letters were all sent from seaports. Not only that, but the time lag between the receipt of the letters and the men's untimely deaths is commensurate with the distance between those ports and Horsham, the scene of the crimes. Holmes deduces that the murderer or murderers must be crewmen on a ship.
Holmes knows that John hasn't much time. Horsham, being in West Sussex, is not at all far from the East End, and the time lag will be much shorter this time. He is too late. John is found murdered — although once again, it is apparently an accident — near Waterloo Station. Holmes's pride is hurt, and for once, he seems motivated by lust for revenge more than anything else.
Holmes's efforts pay off, at least in part. After wading through many documents recording the comings and goings of ships at Pondicherry, Dundee, and London, Holmes identifies the ship. A stevedore even tells him that there are three American crewmen who were all ashore the night John Openshaw was murdered, but by the time Holmes reaches his conclusions, the ship has sailed for Savannah.
Holmes notifies the authorities there to watch for the ship, but justice is never visited upon the perpetrators, at least not by any lawcourt — their ship is lost at sea.
This is one of but a handful of cases in which Holmes fails.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details