Chapter 485 The Unidentified Corpse Of Thames
The pleasant wine party did not last too long before it was interrupted by an uninvited guest. The uninvited guest was a tall man with a fair complexion and grayish-yellow hair. He frowned when he entered through the door.” “Something bad has happened.”
“You always come to me when you are in trouble. I’m not even surprised anymore.” Holmes sat on the sofa, having no intention to deal with the uninvited guest right now. He wanted to introduce Zhang Heng to him first. “Gregson, chief of Scotland Yard. I’m comparing him with his peers,” he looked at Gregson again, “Zhang Heng, my mysterious and lovely new roommate from the far east. We are discussing the influence of professional opponents. We are also trying to eliminate my treasured Port wine as well. Since you are here, would you like to have a glass with us?”
“I am afraid this is not a good time to drink,” the inspector said, glancing at Zhang Heng at the same time. “Don’t worry. This friend of mine can be trusted, and his lips are sealed.” Holmes said, “You can tell me anything that you want to tell me right here.” “Okay.” This wasn’t Gregson’s first rodeo with Holmes. Upon hearing that, he discounted Zhang Heng and spoke his mind.
“I encountered a challenging case.”
“I doubt it, but you can go on.” “In the afternoon, the police on patrol found a dead body at the River Thames. We asked a nearby boatman to help us to retrieve it. The victim is a young girl but that’s all we know. Our efforts in uncovering her identity remain fruitless. There were no clothes, jewelry, and other useful items that could help us to identify her. We don’t know her name, where she lives, what she does, and whether she has any friends or relatives. In short, we don’t know anything about her. No one has reported anyone missing recently. You said that you are most interested in this kinds of sticky cases, so I came to you as soon as possible.” “A wise move.”
After listening to Gregson’s description, Holmes showed a touch of excitement on his face. He turned to Zhang Heng and said, “My friend, I am sorry that we have to end the party early.” “It doesn’t matter. Work is paramount,” Zhang Heng expressed an understanding. Holmes got up, put on his coat, before suddeenly saying, “Where is your hat? Theory class is over. You should put what you have learned into practice next.” Zhang Heng was a little surprised. He could see that Gregson didn’t want him involved in this case. Besides, he and Holmes had only met for two hours. Even though they shared a good chat, Holmes didn’t need to invite him to solve the case.
As of now, Zhang Heng had a primary mission he needed to complete. He did not expect to be granted that opportunity on the very first day he entered this world. Holmes was the kind of person with astute observation. Zhang Heng happened to have many secrets with him. The two hours that Zhang Heng spent chatting with Holmes was stressful. Even though he mentioned wanting to learn from Sherlock, he wanted to not appear too eager and leave a bad impression.
However, it now seemed that Holmes had a habit of dragging his roommate with him to solve any criminal case. In the novel, not too long after he knew Watson, he would drag him to every crime scene he came across. If Zhang Heng remembered correctly, Watson lived with Holmes for several weeks during that time. And they knew each other’s temperaments rather well, This time, however, Holmes and him were only slightly closer than aquaintences.
The inspector wanted to say something about it, but in the end, he decided to keep his mouth shut. Zhang Heng gladly accepted Sherlock’s invitation, and the three of them got into a carriage parked at the roadside.
Most of the narratives in “Sherlock Holmes” took place in the late 19th century. At that period, Britain was in the Victorian era. The industrial revolution was taking place and England expanded its colonies overseas. Politics, economy, and culture developed rapidly, resulting in a gross domestic product larger than all countries put together. They were known as the empire that never rested, and it put them at the center of the world.
London, it’s capital, was also the world’s largest city with a population of more than six million.
Unfortunately, there was an increasing gap between the rich an the poor. To quote Dickens’ opening sentence in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’—This is the best era and the worst era.
Rapid population boom in a such short period turned London in to a sardine can of extremely crowded proportions. Zhang Heng still remembered some data he came across. In every 1,200 square feet, there were 2,795 families with more than 10,000 people living in the same house. They were like piglets locked in a pigpen.
Most ordinary workers earned less than ten pounds a year, and a large portion of the money went into the landlord’s pockets. They were forced to eat low-quality bread mixed with expired flour, potato flour, potassium alum, and chalk powder. Falling sick was not an option, where most didnt have the means to even buy simple clothes or toys for their children. Getting enough rest was a massive problem as well, where most of the population were overworked and exhausted. In contrast, take Watson as an example. The novel states that he worked as a military doctor. Although not a rich man, he could afford a relatively comfortable life in London. Given an allowance of 11 shillings and 6 pence per day, it was equivalent to almost 17 pounds of income every month. As for the landlords and factory owners, they would bag in even more. Hanging around dance theaters each day, they frequently switched sex partners.
The carriage drove towards the River Thames. Holmes was in a good mood along the way, chatting endlessly about the concert he had attended. Unfortunately, it was difficult for his two companions to delve into the topic. Inspector Gregson’s mind was on the case, and although Zhang Heng had played the piano before, he knew but a handful of famous 19th century musicians. “I like music, one of the few things that excites me in this dull world. The other thing I enjoy are those criminal cases. The more complicated and brutal they are, the more I enjoy them. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer criminals are willing to use their brans when they commit crimes.”
“In most cases, you can actually find similarities in cases that have occurred in the past. So, if you get stuck, try looking back at the old ones, and you will find yourself rewarded by them.”
“Did you build an archive in your mancave?” Gregson interjected. “I do have the habit of collecting newspaper clippings with difficult cases on them. However, most of the past cases are stored in here,” Holmes smiled as he tapped on head.