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Michael A Koontz
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Our beautiful Earth - 2014 
The land of fairies and gnomes

Todays date tells us that today is Tuesday April 22, 2014, a beautiful day for you i hope. It certainly is such where i am. The sun is shining and the air is clean and healthy and behind me the coffee is brewing as i type these words and in a few hours i have a romantic date waiting with my beautiful girlfriend. Yes, today is a beautiful day by all accounts.

Earth day 2014

But today is also Earth day, and for most that might be just another Tuesday. However, considering that we live in a world that needs us to change course today - both as individuals and one mutual global society and to rapidly grow a more proper awareness, not just in words but in the way we do and see our world, health and shared reality. Let us reflect for a mere second upon our beautiful Earth. 

music of the day
Beautiful with you by Halestorm

Earth - the oldest kid on this block

 What your personal belief systems are, is as always your personal belief and choice - and nothing else. 

It is human nature to make our own personal choices, and that freedom and desire to carve our own path in life and thought is a tremendously beautiful part of what makes us all tick

Be it religion or lack of, be it greed and dirty harmful oil, or growing slow, going weak and out of shape and unhealthy instead of the other way around. Reading books or not. Enjoying sex or not. To drink your coffee pure black or having it served as a bowl of cream with a splash of coffee to go.To do others biddings instead of enjoying and doing life in a meaningful and fulfilling way.Cats or dogs, Ice hockey or painting. 

Those are your choices, shaping and forming the way you live the rest of your remaining days.Making tomorrow´s world nothing more then what we are choosing to create out of it. No, it is true, that we can not change the fabric of reality, or to carve unlimited richness out of every situation. But as always, you and no one else, within reason - make and shape your own future and thus - you either choose to help and improve or hinder and lessen all our´s tomorrow. 

Life is made up by basic facts that we all do live in and by, facts that do not change no matter your culture, origin, the color of your skin, your preferred sexual activities or your taste in Star Wars movies, your choice of divine deities or the preferred color of your garden gnomes cap. So let us talk about Earth. 

Name: Earth
Age: 4.54 billion years, give or take a few millions of years
Origin: Orbiting the sun in the milky way galaxy as the third planet from the sun. Earth is the only planet in this corner of the Universe that is not named by us after a roman deity but instead it´s name comes from the language of the Anglo/germanic tribes. 
Life: Yes, Earth is capable of supporting a vast number of intelligent life forms. Ranging from sea dwelling creatures like Dolphins and whales to Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, Birds, Monkeys and other intelligent species like pigs, dogs, cats.

Today we know that Earth is but one of many planets in the Universe capable of supporting life. Potentially speaking, there might be hundreds of millions of planets with some form of life. 
Mass: 5,972,190,000,000,000 billion kg 
Equatorial Diameter: 12,756 km 
Polar Diameter: 12,714 km 
Equatorial Circumference: 40,030 km 
1 Moon. 

And yes, Earth, does not move in perfect speed or rotation. Just as life and climate continually change and adapt to what we do, our planet´s course through space changes too, nor is our day actually 24 hours (but very close to it) or our magnetic field an infinite constant. As life changes ,so do our living, breathing planets too, and the entire universe. 

Climate: Right now the climate at large is warming up and changing, globally speaking, in an artificially exaggerated and harmful way that affects all of Earth and all species, from the changing sea levels to a loss of ice and snow, changes in trepidation and agricultural and biodiversity loss. All due to Homo Sapiens continually putting select corporate and individual profit first for far to long, and at the expensive of, at large, our own and the planets health and well being. Our planet can still partially recover from this neglect, or at the very least, slow down and prevent the worst case scenarios - if we give it a helping hand, and if we do it globally now. 

Food: In the hunt for both growing profit and production capacity humanity industrialized food production. Which is a potentially good thing. But sadly not to produce healthier food in a more effective and less harmful way. Instead we set out to scavenge and poison large areas of Earth as well as exterminated a large portion of other species and or each other. Even as beneficial species as the Wolf and other apex predators. Our leaders having decided that it was more important to produce food that was as profitable as possible instead of producing food that was as healthy and sustainable to eat and produce as possible. As a result, today, the majority of people on this planet do not drink and eat affordable Water, milk and food with a proper nutritional value and density, but instead buy unsustainable and unhealthy beverages and food. Our water,money and natural resources being wastefully used up, instead of providing us all with a healthier and longer life, a large part of our food industry and world, produce and support unhealthy beverages, food and unsustainable energy, countries and corporations 

Air quality: In more sustainable countries and areas, the air quality and nature itself is still at large, a joyful and healthy experience. But in a growing number of cities and countries all over the world, the air quality today have been destroyed to such an extent due to our unsustainable lifestyle choices that hundreds of millions of people already have their natural life span cut short with decades due to the low and unhealthy air quality they are forced to breath. And if all countries all over the world do not prioritize a healthy air quality and honest debate about science, climate and health, the current air pollution problem will only continue to grow as well as spread. After all, no countries air, water, land or food production is shielded from the rest of the world. 


But not all is black and grim. It is more then possible for all of us to make a sustainable profit on sustainable and healthy practices and industries. 

Politicians and corporations could make powerful changes today to create a healthier and more sustainable world for us all to live and thrive in. If they wanted to. 
All energy producers could go green, affordable and sustainable today, if they wanted to. And they could all make a solid and very healthy amount of profit while doing so. 
All food producers could put an end to creating unhealthy and harmful food. If they wanted to. And they would still make a healthy living producing actually healthy and sustainable food. 

Our water crisis could be adverted by all of us, from individuals to countries, politicians and corporations being less wasteful with clean fresh water. Instead of fracking and coca cola, we could all drink healthy water and healthy, nutritionally rich beverages such as milk. 

No car manufacturer today needs to produce unsustainable and polluting cars. No computer, phone, tv, tablet manufacturer needs to create hardware that is not clean and green. 

No one needs to destroy the rain forests in the Amazonas or Sumatra, Papua New Guinea or Thailand. India or Burma to create toilet paper and palm oil. Nor do we need infinitely profit growing revenue. Making the same amount of profit year in year out is really all a company do need to remain profitable. 

No farmer alive - or country - needs wolves and other positive animal species to go extinct No farmer needs to produce unhealthy and unclean food that destroys the very earth it´s farmed from. No one needs hazardous pesticides to produce whole grains, potatoes, strawberries and apples. And no person alive needs to snort Rhino horn or eat shark fins. 

There is not a single politician that actually needs to stand up and lie to the world, claiming that air pollution is due to sand storms in Sahara. Or that Tar sands oil - or fracking - is needed to produce jobs and energy or that poor and unemployed people needs to starve or live on the streets and go without proper and real health care while we lower taxes for the richest people and corporations 

But we do need to choose to not do life in that wasteful and quite retarded and selfish way. 

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( Jean Michel Missri)
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The bay and the sycamore, the oak and the cypress

beneath a dwelling of trees
right next to where 
this creek it reached
a lingering bay
where winter and spring
meet to kiss

in the dew of drops

something born
in the 
and melting of ice

from inside
the lush blossoms
of petals swollen

in the mixing of sunborn warmth
and winters wet

something moist
sultry spreads and lustful grows
with pleasured aching

to open 
ever more

without an end
the wetness grows

in this kiss of lust
and life next to the 
and still
growing oak

music of the day
Sepultura - Under Siege

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wings of a Raven

In a dream forgotten, climbing inside a bell tower.
Or was it, simply 

a memory lost. A moment from life it surely was
although i still did not knew, if it came from a life already lived.

Or, a life, yet to be seen and felt.

High up above, a ravens wings could be seen.
Flapping before they came to rest and the bird´s eyes eerily twitching sharply before focusing on me.

Curiosity and familiarity i swear, could be seen in the eyes of the bird.

Like a taste, upon the back of my tongue. Something came to mind and then, life and time seemed to slow and my heartbeat too.

It´s thump inside my skull and ears, like a breath of words once washed away in the rain and stormy winds that snatched the words from my lips. It was as if i was still talking, but making no sounds at all.

All around me. Light came to fade from both my eyes and in it´s touch upon my skin i could feel it vanishing in mere seconds, as if it was all sucked away.

Why i wondered, 'what am i doing here'. 'how can this be real'.

Like fire in my mind, it burned, like a stream of white waters rushing ahead to crush the river bed and sand castles, the skin burned and prickled and then..

Silence and stillness as before my eyes and beneath the raven.
A magnificent elephant bull, convulsed in a sharp spasm before collapsing towards the ground.

Soundless it tusks seemed to defiantly hold on to the frozen air as if to force it´s body back up, but then, they to hit the mud and dirt. Forcing a gust of dust exploding in a silent cloud

I tried to move my head, or at least i think i tried?
Did my throat itch?

Did i even think that, or is this not even me?. The thought echoed inside me as fingers separated from the soil itself beneath the animal carcass , wrapping around it´s dead body and slowly pulling it down in to the eager earth and out of sight.

As the last of the elephant carcass vanished from my sigh my world seemed to twist around itself and heavy fog swallowed everything and me.

I knew. I knew the air should suddenly be hard to breath, it was as if i knew that my skin was actually burning from the putrefied air and smog that poisoned me by the second. 

Detached, the words forming in my mind, 'i am detached from my body' this is a dream i thought. Or was it really?`

My fingers and hand suddenly stretching out in front of me, carving in the vapid air, as if to create an opening to once again see.

To see the raven above me.

My eyes searching, my mind burning, i carved and carved, faster and with growing desperation before my blood froze to a million shards of ice inside of my veins.

Things where moving.
Around me, moving towards me, away from me?.

Shadows in the fog, shapes without form. Moving silently i thought, but the words echoed back in my mind, 'perhaps there is sound, and i just cant hear anymore'

Who am i? I tried to remember
Where am i. And then i knew, long before i could see it.

Amongst the moving shapes of shadow there was a woman, a woman behind a mask that helped her breath in this air that was killing me.

The world began to twist and warp and the raven cried out my name

music of the day
Linkin Park - Somewhere i belong

#stunningmoment  +Stunning Moment 
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a Song of silence

and nothing more was left behind then the gentle sound of silence 
Or was there not, something calling 
when dream turned to day

Health benefits of dairy

For quite a few years, some health 'experts' tried to steer people away from consuming dairy products, but personally i´ve been saying for a very long time that anyone being serious about their health and keeping fit and active should in fact embrace and include dairy in their daily food.

And as such, i´m happy to see that proper and current science is steadily growing a bigger and more solid case for getting back to promoting dairy in peoples diets. 

Sure, some people are allergic to various dairy products and others might want to skip milk and cheese and yogurt due to the often poor conditions of dairy farm animals. But from a health and food perspective it´s a no brainer to include on a daily basis.

Things to keep an eye on

Do stay away from dairy products with added sugar (just like you should stay away from any food with added sugar).

Buy with your heart and brain (if possible) and go for dairy products from grass fed, free walking cows. Ecological farmers not feeding their cows hormones and keeping them indoors 24/7 do not only produce a healthier product for you, but their farming in general is also kinder for our environment. We need less pesticides in nature and on our food and less resource drain on our environment. Not more.

Benefits of dairy in your fit and active - and healthy - life

It helps you lowering your body fat%

It contains some of the best slow, quality carbs and high bio value proteins you will find in any food resource - essential and positive parts in increasing your lean muscle mass.

It contains quality vitamins and minerals that helps your bone mass and general health.

And no - dairy does not make your blood levels go crazy, it will not make you fat or give you diabetes.

And finally - even tho you might think a bowl of yogurt is "poor" food, it´s easily one of the best quality staples in your diet - choke full of quality nutrition, and it do that at a price point almost no other food can match.

So, instead of wasting money on gainers and food replacement nutrition, go all out on milk and yogurt, cheese and heck - throw in a yummy protein powder too and you´r all set with quality food at a very low price point. ANd the savings you make, use em on berries and fruits, nuts and chocolate - and a gym membership :).

science stuff

A recently published study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Healthcare analyzed dairy fat intake and central obesity among a group of middle-aged men over a 12-year period. Researchers found that high intake of dairy fat (from foods like butter, high-fat milk and whipping cream) was associated with a lower risk of central obesity, while low intake of dairy fat was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.

Please note the study wasn't focusing on fit and active people, but if you are, like me, a fit and active person, that of course only improves on the health benefits and only makes dairy an even saner choice since you obviously care about your health and keeping fit and the quality of food becomes even more important if you do keep fit and active.

A second study published in the European journal of nutrition that reviewed a total of 16 science studies found the same conclusions,  linking high-fat dairy foods with a lower risk of obesity.

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Thank you +Vladimír Vocelka :)
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the bridge and the abyss

While not news to anyone that is interested in health and a healthy life style. I still found it worthwhile to do a post about recent studies in cancer and how much impact our choice in life style have as opposed to our genetics. 

So to keep it short for once =).

music of the day
Bleeding through - Starving vultures

If you are looking for more incentive to start being a bit more active on a daily basis and to eat healthier and to shed some body fat while you tone up a muscle or two - and keep on doing it for all of life.

24 million people per year are thought to get cancer annually by 2035. 
Half of those could be prevented tho - in part by choosing to eat healthier food and by staying fit and active since not only the food we eat, but the activity level with which we "entertain" our body and health and the amount of body fat are all directly linked to an increasing cancer risk.

The other part is down to society by improving upon air pollution and other negative environmental factors.

As for the role of genetics, only 10% of cancers are actually affected by inherited genetics. Our choice in life style and continual health and the shape of "society" where we live (air pollution, sustainability, green and clean, food/water quality, farming and industries et cetera) is much more important.

From keeping physically active every week to drinking less alcohol, not smoking and not sun bathing to much.

healthy advice, tried and true

As i said, nothing new, but still worth repeating since surprisingly many still seems to be unaware of how much their daily small choices affect major long term health.

Quote from the article

In the UK, about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through being a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and being regularly physically active

These results show that many people still seem to mistakenly accept their chances of getting cancer as a throw of the dice, but by making lifestyle changes today, we can help prevent cancer tomorrow

It advises a diet packed with vegetables, fruit, and wholegrains; cutting down on alcohol and red meat; and junking processed meat completely

link to the bbc article

So - dont postpone the start of you taking those 20 minutes daily walks and chucking around some challenging weights at least 2-3 days per week :).

And in a related but separated study, it was proved that, keeping fit and active (and eating healthy) increases, by a wide margin, your chances to survive cancer even if you have already been diagnosed with it.

What if i am already sick with cancer

In a related but separated study on how a fit and active life style affects your chances of defeating cancer once diagnosed with it, researchers found that men who expended 12,600 kilojoules or 3,100 calories on a weekly basis through physical activity were 48 percent less likely to die of any cause during the follow-up period.

The research team found that the most active survivors were 38 percent less likely to die from cancer and 49 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than the least physically active cancer patients.

You can find this particular study in the January issue of the Journal of Physical Activity & Health

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Thank you Elisabeth :)
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a Little cat and stray ants

In the belly of a planet, high up above us amongst the stars and icy cold radiation of infinite space a new moon was born.

Slowly gestating in the comfort and safety of it´s parents giant shadow and gentle touch. And outside in the vast playground it´s older siblings where running around like busy little bees, waiting for the new arrival to break free and shatter it´s parents bonds and join the other 60+ siblings on the merry go round.

Yes. this is a mighty big family.

Not just in numbers, but in size and scope too.

The biggest and oldest child is known as Titan, a fitting name for this play ground bully that towers mighty over the other kids with a diameter of more than 5,000km and a mass that nearly doubles that of Earth´s own Moon.

The youngest one, that is still to young and small for us to be entirely sure that it will ever manage to break free from Saturns hold and thus give birth to the planets 63 known Moon have already been given the name of Peggy.

While scientists today, of course, arent entirely sure exactly if Saturn have managed to give birth to all of it´s 62 moons (or if there´s been more of them in the past) Saturn do give birth to new moons through the planetary rings of debris, dust and rocks that surround it. As we all spin through the Universe, the debris making up Saturns massive and vast rings clumps together over time and once a new body of mass have managed to grow big enoug it slowly breaks free from it´s parent planet by sheer mass and the energy that mass creates.

In the end giving birth to a new moon in our own little corner of the galaxy.

Music of the day
Halestorm - Freak like me

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thank´s a bunch everyone - have a great easter now all of you :)
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winters taciturn disposition and Aprils warmth

the sweet escape
in aprils warmth

an end of silence
and birth of light

the wings of birds and reflected sun
a buzz of sprouts
and tiny things

winters taciturn disposition 
and aprils warmth

spring anew is here

music of the day
Halestorm - daughters of darkness

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sangua Mama

a label, Sangua mama, born in lacking hearts and anger, and my humble, floral sun which is born in smiles and wonder.

Once, she was a proud girl. Before their superstition and anger stripped her shivering soul bare naked in the streets earlier this year.
Once, she smiled upon the rays of sun. Before they cut her skin deep with knives, fueled by hate, fear and a burning wish to destroy something dear and beautiful.
Once, she enjoyed making love. Before burning hot rods of metal where inserted inside her genitals, tarnishing and burning flesh - destroying her for all of life.

Once, she proudly walked these streets of ours and the forest roads nearby. Once her mind jumped in joy as the fluttering birds let their song fly free upon the wind that caressed her hair. Once, was a calm reality before they tortured her outside in the burning midday sun, outside in the streets next to their homes and in view of the public eye, a torture ment to steal her life and pride in front of an ocean of cheering children, fearful people and smug police. 

Her crime was severe in their fearful minds, 

In the cities and country side of Papua New Guinea in the year of 2013 the fact that she was a female was enough of a crime. 

A female in the wrong place and unprotected from the strength and numbers of brothers and a caring husband when the angry mob scavenged their streets for a witch to blame for the death of a 6 year old. And no, this beautiful woman was not related at all to the illness and death of that unfortunate boy. 
She was just born a female and she was just in the wrong place when the angry mob claimed her to be a witch. Torturing her in the open place, ruining the rest of her life while 600 people stood looking by. 
In Papua New Guinea, a poor developing country, but rich on natural resources, a new kind of anger and filthy evil has grown, for decades slowly burning over the fires of poverty and injustice while rich corporations steal their natural resources. 
Unemployment and poverty rises, and a people left to the wind to be exploited as rich corporate owners carve new gold in mining and other exploits. 

And as this divide grows it has provided Papua New Guineas old superstitious beliefs of dark magic and witches with a new and much worse kind of heartless evil that no one opposes - it´s most evil incarnation comes in the shape of angry, some times drug fueled mobs that takes their anger out on any random "witch" they encounter. 

This girl escaped alive at least. Now hiding in safety away from the mob that not just once, but twice sought her out to torture her for her crimes of being a women. 

But she is not a sad and unfortunate exception if that is what you are thinking as you read these words of mine. Similar things happens all the time.
Some numbers actually claim that 90% of all females in Papua New Guinea has now suffered similar gender based violence and abuse. 

Abuse that by law is forbidden but in reality, not opposed by anyone except for at times some officials almost desperate words claiming it is wrong and that it needs to stop.

The question that ponders upon my mind is why the hate.
Why the ignorant fear that has zero ties to the reality of poverty and dying children. Why once again the commercial exploit by already rich corporations and their owners. Why the silence from the world and the powers that we for a short while allow to protect our daily life, to provide safe guidance and protection. Why do the world and its leaders allow the planting of these selfish seeds again and again and again.

Hate breeds hate.
Fear breeds fear.
Ignorance and exploit breeds both and together it can only produce a sadly smiling world. So, why?.

But no worries, dear reader - as bleak as some events in this world might feel (and are), as clouded as the judgment of some are - as far as i am concerned, i am myself - as i think these thoughts and write these words for you to read, i am still marveling at my wonderful day. 

Still enjoying life as bright and loving and free as it should be for you and everybody else too.

Neither of us should ever turn a blind eye to the reality of the day. Neither of us should be the silent one that by not speaking up approves of the real wrongs in life.
No one should allow society going down the wrong path out of fear for things that actually hold very little power in the world.

But as we keep these very real things in our minds, we should - actually, we need to still enjoy and marvel at the wonders in our daily life, the sunset, the singing birds, the grace of your lover, the beauty you stare upon in your mirror.

We should all enjoy the littlest marvels in a kiss upon our lips, the cascading waterfalls and the art that fills our mind and soul with awe. But neither of us should shy away from acknowledging the reality of the things gone wrong. Simply because no one needs to close their mind to the dark in life to enjoy the magic of life.

We should, remain equally fascinated by mankind's shortcomings as we are by the discoveries that each unfolding morning brings with it - we live in a day and time where it now seems that we will 'soonish' be able to verify the existence of multiple, never ending universes.

People talk about billions of habitable planets, humanity colonizing mars and our life expectancy skyrocketing in just 20 to 30 years.

Each day born holds dark and sadness in the world, such as the situation in Papua New Guinea, but it also holds joy and proud moments such as when Wendy stood up for equality and females in Texas June 2013, and for every single day of all our lives, things such as this is but one of a million different questions and wonders and sadness that our gorgeous life gives birth to each and every day.

Questions and marvels, sad facts of someones pain and mournful day, someones joyful smiles and all equally deserving of being seen and heard, told and considered just as the wonders of life and my floral sun.

"lawless behavior of some police had destroyed community confidence and trust", Official Police review in PNG regarding human rights violations

Violations of human rights and gender based violence in Papua New Guinea had reached such widespread levels in 2007 that the government conceded they had actually been feeding crime, insecurity and a breakdown in the rule of law. 

The then acting Governor-General, Sir Paulias Matane noted in 2007, “the constabulary, instead of protecting and serving the community was being seen more as a threat to our very security.” 

- But despite situations such as NPG and prism and the war on women, we all should have high hopes for tomorrow.

Reality is, every day and every year - life improves worldwide.

With the ever growing "educated voice" of this growing worldwide conscience of citizens that hears and see, talk, learn and listen to and from each other outside of state controlled media and reality obfuscated, silently curated news.
Outside news born from the agenda of simple minded corporate lobbyist and extremist organizations that shy away from the reality of science and life, empathy and care, the world slowly becomes more aware, more emphatic, caring and human.
And slowly do we all create a more just and equal world where the horrors that plagues every day life of so many will have less room to grow and hurt, and that change happens for every day and breath you take with eyes and mind that see.

So, i am now wishing you a wonderful rest of this day and week =)

deja vu

I wrote 'Sangua Mama' almost a year ago, both on my website and here on g+, but i sadly picked such a crappy photo for the g+ post that in the end, after having looked at it´s ugliness for a couple of months i  could not resist deleting the entire post :P. But, i think this writeup deserves a home on g+ too, so here it is again, but with a much better photo of mine to go with it :P

website version

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oh you know, life is a wonderful place every little day even if there is still a lot of stupidity in it too :P. so it´s easy being positive and enjoying life considering that every day there is less stupidity and ignorance left in the world. It might be a way to slow change in many cases and for many people, but it´s going in the right direction at large :).
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
a collection of short stories by
Arthur Conan Doyle

Before you start reading this short chapter, The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle, and not written by myself -  i only made the photograph this time around,  but it is well worth reading if you for some reason have missed out on the original Sherlock Holmes stories (this book is a public domains work by now so you can safely and legally read this entire chapter here on g+) , do take a moment to hit play and enjoy todays musical choice to help put your spirit and mind in the perfect place as you indulge in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. 

Enjoy the read and look :).

music for the day
Heaven & hell - atom and evil

The Five Orange Pips

When I glance over my notes and records of the Sherlock Holmes cases between the years ’82 and ’90, I am faced by so many which present strange and interesting features that it is no easy matter to know which to choose and which to leave.

Some, however, have already gained publicity through the papers, and others have not offered a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the object of these papers to illustrate. Some, too, have baffled his analytical skill, and would be, as narratives, beginnings without an ending, while others have been but partially cleared up, and have their explanations founded rather upon conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to him.

There is, however, one of these last which was so remarkable in its details and so startling in its results that I am tempted to give some account of it in spite of the fact that there are points in connection with it which never have been, and probably never will be, entirely cleared up. 

The year ’87 furnished us with a long series of cases of greater or less interest, of which I retain the records. Among my headings under this one twelve months I find an account of the adventure of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Mendicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse, of the facts connected with the loss of the British barque Sophy Anderson, of the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and finally of the Camberwell poisoning case.

In the latter, as may be remembered, Sherlock Holmes was able, by winding up the dead man’s watch, to prove that it had been wound up two hours before, and that therefore the deceased had gone to bed within that time—a deduction which was of the greatest importance in clearing up the case. All these I may sketch out at some future date, but none of them present such singular features as the strange train of circumstances which I have now taken up my pen to describe. 

It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional violence.

All day the wind had screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life and to recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney.

Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fireplace cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell’s fine sea-stories until the howl of the gale from without seemed to blend with the text, and the splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of the sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother’s, and for a few days I was a dweller once more in my old quarters at Baker Street. 

“Why,” said I, glancing up at my companion, “that was surely the bell. Who could come to-night? Some friend of yours, perhaps?” 

“Except yourself I have none,” he answered. “I do not encourage visitors.” 

“A client, then?” 

“If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is more likely to be some crony of the landlady’s.” 

Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door. He stretched out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself and towards the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit. 

“Come in!” said he. 

The man who entered was young, some two-and-twenty at the outside, well-groomed and trimly clad, with something of refinement and delicacy in his bearing.

The streaming umbrella which he held in his hand, and his long shining waterproof told of the fierce weather through which he had come. He looked about him anxiously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that his face was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of a man who is weighed down with some great anxiety. 

“I owe you an apology,” he said, raising his golden pince-nez to his eyes. “I trust that I am not intruding. I fear that I have brought some traces of the storm and rain into your snug chamber.” 

“Give me your coat and umbrella,” said Holmes. “They may rest here on the hook and will be dry presently. You have come up from the south-west, I see.”

“Give me your coat and umbrella,” said Holmes. “They may rest here on the hook and will be dry presently. You have come up from the south-west, I see.” 

“Yes, from Horsham.” 

“That clay and chalk mixture which I see upon your toe caps is quite distinctive.” 

“I have come for advice.” 

“That is easily got.” 

“And help.” 

“That is not always so easy.” 

“I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes. I heard from Major Prendergast how you saved him in the Tankerville Club scandal.” 

“Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at cards.” 

“He said that you could solve anything.” 

“He said too much.” 

“That you are never beaten.” 

“I have been beaten four times—three times by men, and once by a woman.” 

“But what is that compared with the number of your successes?” 

“It is true that I have been generally successful.” 

“Then you may be so with me.” 

“I beg that you will draw your chair up to the fire and favour me with some details as to your case.” 

“It is no ordinary one.” 

“None of those which come to me are. I am the last court of appeal.” 

“And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your experience, you have ever listened to a more mysterious and inexplicable chain of events than those which have happened in my own family.” 

“You fill me with interest,” said Holmes. “Pray give us the essential facts from the commencement, and I can afterwards question you as to those details which seem to me to be most important.” 

The young man pulled his chair up and pushed his wet feet out towards the blaze. 

“My name,” said he, “is John Openshaw, but my own affairs have, as far as I can understand, little to do with this awful business. It is a hereditary matter; so in order to give you an idea of the facts, I must go back to the commencement of the affair. 

“You must know that my grandfather had two sons—my uncle Elias and my father Joseph. My father had a small factory at Coventry, which he enlarged at the time of the invention of bicycling. He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable tire, and his business met with such success that he was able to sell it and to retire upon a handsome competence. 

“My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he was a young man and became a planter in Florida, where he was reported to have done very well. At the time of the war he fought in Jackson’s army, and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be a colonel.

When Lee laid down his arms my uncle returned to his plantation, where he remained for three or four years. About 1869 or 1870 he came back to Europe and took a small estate in Sussex, near Horsham. He had made a very considerable fortune in the States, and his reason for leaving them was his aversion to the negroes, and his dislike of the Republican policy in extending the franchise to them.

He was a singular man, fierce and quick-tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was angry, and of a most retiring disposition. During all the years that he lived at Horsham, I doubt if ever he set foot in the town. He had a garden and two or three fields round his house, and there he would take his exercise, though very often for weeks on end he would never leave his room. He drank a great deal of brandy and smoked very heavily, but he would see no society and did not want any friends, not even his own brother. 

“He didn’t mind me; in fact, he took a fancy to me, for at the time when he saw me first I was a youngster of twelve or so. This would be in the year 1878, after he had been eight or nine years in England.

He begged my father to let me live with him and he was very kind to me in his way. When he was sober he used to be fond of playing backgammon and draughts with me, and he would make me his representative both with the servants and with the tradespeople, so that by the time that I was sixteen I was quite master of the house. I kept all the keys and could go where I liked and do what I liked, so long as I did not disturb him in his privacy.

There was one singular exception, however, for he had a single room, a lumber-room up among the attics, which was invariably locked, and which he would never permit either me or anyone else to enter. With a boy’s curiosity I have peeped through the keyhole, but I was never able to see more than such a collection of old trunks and bundles as would be expected in such a room. 

One day, it was in March, 1883 

“One day—it was in March, 1883—a letter with a foreign stamp lay upon the table in front of the colonel’s plate. It was not a common thing for him to receive letters, for his bills were all paid in ready money, and he had no friends of any sort. ‘From India!’ said he as he took it up, ‘Pondicherry postmark! What can this be?’

Opening it hurriedly, out there jumped five little dried orange pips, which pattered down upon his plate. I began to laugh at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at the sight of his face. His lip had fallen, his eyes were protruding, his skin the colour of putty, and he glared at the envelope which he still held in his trembling hand, ‘K. K. K.!’ he shrieked, and then, ‘My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!’ 

“ ‘What is it, uncle?’ I cried. 

“ ‘Death,’ said he, and rising from the table he retired to his room, leaving me palpitating with horror. I took up the envelope and saw scrawled in red ink upon the inner flap, just above the gum, the letter K three times repeated. There was nothing else save the five dried pips. What could be the reason of his overpowering terror? I left the breakfast-table, and as I ascended the stair I met him coming down with an old rusty key, which must have belonged to the attic, in one hand, and a small brass box, like a cashbox, in the other. 

“ ‘They may do what they like, but I’ll checkmate them still,’ said he with an oath. ‘Tell Mary that I shall want a fire in my room to-day, and send down to Fordham, the Horsham lawyer.’ 

“I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer arrived I was asked to step up to the room. The fire was burning brightly, and in the grate there was a mass of black, fluffy ashes, as of burned paper, while the brass box stood open and empty beside it. As I glanced at the box I noticed, with a start, that upon the lid was printed the treble K which I had read in the morning upon the envelope. 

“ ‘I wish you, John,’ said my uncle, ‘to witness my will. I leave my estate, with all its advantages and all its disadvantages, to my brother, your father, whence it will, no doubt, descend to you. If you can enjoy it in peace, well and good! If you find you cannot, take my advice, my boy, and leave it to your deadliest enemy.

I am sorry to give you such a two-edged thing, but I can’t say what turn things are going to take. Kindly sign the paper where Mr. Fordham shows you.’ 

“I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer took it away with him. The singular incident made, as you may think, the deepest impression upon me, and I pondered over it and turned it every way in my mind without being able to make anything of it.

Yet I could not shake off the vague feeling of dread which it left behind, though the sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed and nothing happened to disturb the usual routine of our lives. I could see a change in my uncle, however. He drank more than ever, and he was less inclined for any sort of society. Most of his time he would spend in his room, with the door locked upon the inside, but sometimes he would emerge in a sort of drunken frenzy and would burst out of the house and tear about the garden with a revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was afraid of no man, and that he was not to be cooped up, like a sheep in a pen, by man or devil.

When these hot fits were over, however, he would rush tumultuously in at the door and lock and bar it behind him, like a man who can brazen it out no longer against the terror which lies at the roots of his soul. At such times I have seen his face, even on a cold day, glisten with moisture, as though it were new raised from a basin. 

“Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr. Holmes, and not to abuse your patience, there came a night when he made one of those drunken sallies from which he never came back. We found him, when we went to search for him, face downward in a little green-scummed pool, which lay at the foot of the garden.

There was no sign of any violence, and the water was but two feet deep, so that the jury, having regard to his known eccentricity, brought in a verdict of ‘suicide.’ But I, who knew how he winced from the very thought of death, had much ado to persuade myself that he had gone out of his way to meet it. The matter passed, however, and my father entered into possession of the estate, and of some £14,000, which lay to his credit at the bank.” 

“One moment,” Holmes interposed, “your statement is, I foresee, one of the most remarkable to which I have ever listened. Let me have the date of the reception by your uncle of the letter, and the date of his supposed suicide.” 

“The letter arrived on March 10, 1883. His death was seven weeks later, upon the night of May 2nd.” 

“Thank you. Pray proceed.” 

“When my father took over the Horsham property, he, at my request, made a careful examination of the attic, which had been always locked up. We found the brass box there, although its contents had been destroyed. On the inside of the cover was a paper label, with the initials of K. K. K. repeated upon it, and ‘Letters, memoranda, receipts, and a register’ written beneath.

These, we presume, indicated the nature of the papers which had been destroyed by Colonel Openshaw. For the rest, there was nothing of much importance in the attic save a great many scattered papers and note-books bearing upon my uncle’s life in America. Some of them were of the war time and showed that he had done his duty well and had borne the repute of a brave soldier.

Others were of a date during the reconstruction of the Southern states, and were mostly concerned with politics, for he had evidently taken a strong part in opposing the carpet-bag politicians who had been sent down from the North. 

“Well, it was the beginning of ’84 when my father came to live at Horsham, and all went as well as possible with us until the January of ’85. On the fourth day after the new year I heard my father give a sharp cry of surprise as we sat together at the breakfast-table.

There he was, sitting with a newly opened envelope in one hand and five dried orange pips in the outstretched palm of the other one. He had always laughed at what he called my cock-and-bull story about the colonel, but he looked very scared and puzzled now that the same thing had come upon himself. 

“ ‘Why, what on earth does this mean, John?’ he stammered. 

“My heart had turned to lead. ‘It is K. K. K.,’ said I. 

“He looked inside the envelope. ‘So it is,’ he cried. ‘Here are the very letters. But what is this written above them?’ 

“ ‘Put the papers on the sundial,’ I read, peeping over his shoulder. 

“ ‘What papers? What sundial?’ he asked. 

“ ‘The sundial in the garden. There is no other,’ said I; ‘but the papers must be those that are destroyed.’ 

“ ‘Pooh!’ said he, gripping hard at his courage. ‘We are in a civilised land here, and we can’t have tomfoolery of this kind. Where does the thing come from?’ 

“ ‘From Dundee,’ I answered, glancing at the postmark. 

“ ‘Some preposterous practical joke,’ said he. ‘What have I to do with sundials and papers? I shall take no notice of such nonsense.’ 

“ ‘I should certainly speak to the police,’ I said. 

“ ‘And be laughed at for my pains. Nothing of the sort.’ 

“ ‘Then let me do so?’ 

“ ‘No, I forbid you. I won’t have a fuss made about such nonsense.’ 

“It was in vain to argue with him, for he was a very obstinate man. I went about, however, with a heart which was full of forebodings. 

“On the third day after the coming of the letter my father went from home to visit an old friend of his, Major Freebody, who is in command of one of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad that he should go, for it seemed to me that he was farther from danger when he was away from home. In that, however, I was in error.

Upon the second day of his absence I received a telegram from the major, imploring me to come at once. My father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits which abound in the neighbourhood, and was lying senseless, with a shattered skull. I hurried to him, but he passed away without having ever recovered his consciousness.

He had, as it appears, been returning from Fareham in the twilight, and as the country was unknown to him, and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hesitation in bringing in a verdict of ‘death from accidental causes.’ Carefully as I examined every fact connected with his death, I was unable to find anything which could suggest the idea of murder. There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no robbery, no record of strangers having been seen upon the roads. And yet I need not tell you that my mind was far from at ease, and that I was well-nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven round him. 

“In this sinister way I came into my inheritance. You will ask me why I did not dispose of it? I answer, because I was well convinced that our troubles were in some way dependent upon an incident in my uncle’s life, and that the danger would be as pressing in one house as in another. 

“It was in January, ’85, that my poor father met his end, and two years and eight months have elapsed since then. During that time I have lived happily at Horsham, and I had begun to hope that this curse had passed away from the family, and that it had ended with the last generation.

I had begun to take comfort too soon, however; yesterday morning the blow fell in the very shape in which it had come upon my father.” 

The young man took from his waistcoat a crumpled envelope, and turning to the table he shook out upon it five little dried orange pips. 

“This is the envelope,” he continued. “The postmark is London—eastern division. Within are the very words which were upon my father’s last message: ‘K. K. K.’; and then ‘Put the papers on the sundial.’ ” 

“What have you done?” asked Holmes. 



“To tell the truth”—he sank his face into his thin, white hands—“I have felt helpless. I have felt like one of those poor rabbits when the snake is writhing towards it. I seem to be in the grasp of some resistless, inexorable evil, which no foresight and no precautions can guard against.” 

Nothing but energy can save you. This is no time for despair 

“Tut! tut!” cried Sherlock Holmes. “You must act, man, or you are lost. Nothing but energy can save you. This is no time for despair.” 

“I have seen the police.” 


“But they listened to my story with a smile. I am convinced that the inspector has formed the opinion that the letters are all practical jokes, and that the deaths of my relations were really accidents, as the jury stated, and were not to be connected with the warnings.” 

Holmes shook his clenched hands in the air. “Incredible imbecility!” he cried. 

“They have, however, allowed me a policeman, who may remain in the house with me.” 

“Has he come with you to-night?” 

“No. His orders were to stay in the house.” 

Again Holmes raved in the air. 

“Why did you come to me,” he cried, “and, above all, why did you not come at once?” 

“I did not know. It was only to-day that I spoke to Major Prendergast about my troubles and was advised by him to come to you.” 

“It is really two days since you had the letter. We should have acted before this. You have no further evidence, I suppose, than that which you have placed before us—no suggestive detail which might help us?” 

“There is one thing,” said John Openshaw. He rummaged in his coat pocket, and, drawing out a piece of discoloured, blue-tinted paper, he laid it out upon the table. “I have some remembrance,” said he, “that on the day when my uncle burned the papers I observed that the small, unburned margins which lay amid the ashes were of this particular colour. I found this single sheet upon the floor of his room, and I am inclined to think that it may be one of the papers which has, perhaps, fluttered out from among the others, and in that way has escaped destruction. Beyond the mention of pips, I do not see that it helps us much. I think myself that it is a page from some private diary. The writing is undoubtedly my uncle’s.” 

Holmes moved the lamp, and we both bent over the sheet of paper, which showed by its ragged edge that it had indeed been torn from a book. It was headed, “March, 1869,” and beneath were the following enigmatical notices: 

“4th. Hudson came. Same old platform. 

“7th. Set the pips on McCauley, Paramore, and 

John Swain, of St. Augustine. 

“9th. McCauley cleared. 

“10th. John Swain cleared. 

“12th. Visited Paramore. All well.” 

“Thank you!” said Holmes, folding up the paper and returning it to our visitor. “And now you must on no account lose another instant. We cannot spare time even to discuss what you have told me. You must get home instantly and act.” 

“What shall I do?” 

“There is but one thing to do. It must be done at once. You must put this piece of paper which you have shown us into the brass box which you have described. You must also put in a note to say that all the other papers were burned by your uncle, and that this is the only one which remains. You must assert that in such words as will carry conviction with them. Having done this, you must at once put the box out upon the sundial, as directed. Do you understand?” 


“Do not think of revenge, or anything of the sort, at present. I think that we may gain that by means of the law; but we have our web to weave, while theirs is already woven. The first consideration is to remove the pressing danger which threatens you. The second is to clear up the mystery and to punish the guilty parties.” 

“I thank you,” said the young man, rising and pulling on his overcoat. “You have given me fresh life and hope. I shall certainly do as you advise.” 

“Do not lose an instant. And, above all, take care of yourself in the meanwhile, for I do not think that there can be a doubt that you are threatened by a very real and imminent danger. How do you go back?” 

“By train from Waterloo.” 

“It is not yet nine. The streets will be crowded, so I trust that you may be in safety. And yet you cannot guard yourself too closely.” 

“I am armed.” 

“That is well. To-morrow I shall set to work upon your case.” 

“I shall see you at Horsham, then?” 

“No, your secret lies in London. It is there that I shall seek it.” 

“Then I shall call upon you in a day, or in two days, with news as to the box and the papers. I shall take your advice in every particular.” He shook hands with us and took his leave.

Outside the wind still screamed and the rain splashed and pattered against the windows. This strange, wild story seemed to have come to us from amid the mad elements—blown in upon us like a sheet of sea-weed in a gale—and now to have been reabsorbed by them once more. 

Sherlock Holmes sat for some time in silence, with his head sunk forward and his eyes bent upon the red glow of the fire. Then he lit his pipe, and leaning back in his chair he watched the blue smoke-rings as they chased each other up to the ceiling. 

“I think, Watson,” he remarked at last, “that of all our cases we have had none more fantastic than this.” 

“Save, perhaps, the Sign of Four.” 

“Well, yes. Save, perhaps, that. And yet this John Openshaw seems to me to be walking amid even greater perils than did the Sholtos.” 

“But have you,” I asked, “formed any definite conception as to what these perils are?” 

“There can be no question as to their nature,” he answered. 

“Then what are they? Who is this K. K. K., and why does he pursue this unhappy family?” 

Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes and placed his elbows upon the arms of his chair, with his finger-tips together. “The ideal reasoner,” he remarked, “would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it. As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after.

We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study which have baffled all those who have sought a solution by the aid of their senses. To carry the art, however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilise all the facts which have come to his knowledge; and this in itself implies, as you will readily see, a possession of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare accomplishment.

It is not so impossible, however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I have endeavoured in my case to do. If I remember rightly, you on one occasion, in the early days of our friendship, defined my limits in a very precise fashion.” 

“Yes,” I answered, laughing. “It was a singular document. Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero, I remember. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud-stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin-player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the main points of my analysis.” 

Holmes grinned at the last item. “Well,” he said, “I say now, as I said then, that a man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it. Now, for such a case as the one which has been submitted to us to-night, we need certainly to muster all our resources.

Kindly hand me down the letter K of the American Encyclopaedia which stands upon the shelf beside you. Thank you. Now let us consider the situation and see what may be deduced from it. In the first place, we may start with a strong presumption that Colonel Openshaw had some very strong reason for leaving America. Men at his time of life do not change all their habits and exchange willingly the charming climate of Florida for the lonely life of an English provincial town. His extreme love of solitude in England suggests the idea that he was in fear of someone or something, so we may assume as a working hypothesis that it was fear of someone or something which drove him from America.

As to what it was he feared, we can only deduce that by considering the formidable letters which were received by himself and his successors. Did you remark the postmarks of those letters?” 

“The first was from Pondicherry, the second from Dundee, and the third from London.” 

“From East London. What do you deduce from that?” 

“They are all seaports. That the writer was on board of a ship.” 

“Excellent. We have already a clue. There can be no doubt that the probability—the strong probability—is that the writer was on board of a ship. And now let us consider another point. In the case of Pondicherry, seven weeks elapsed between the threat and its fulfilment, in Dundee it was only some three or four days. Does that suggest anything?” 

“A greater distance to travel.” 

“But the letter had also a greater distance to come.” 

“Then I do not see the point.” 

“There is at least a presumption that the vessel in which the man or men are is a sailing-ship. It looks as if they always send their singular warning or token before them when starting upon their mission. You see how quickly the deed followed the sign when it came from Dundee. If they had come from Pondicherry in a steamer they would have arrived almost as soon as their letter.

But, as a matter of fact, seven weeks elapsed. I think that those seven weeks represented the difference between the mail-boat which brought the letter and the sailing vessel which brought the writer.” 

“It is possible.” 

“More than that. It is probable. And now you see the deadly urgency of this new case, and why I urged young Openshaw to caution. The blow has always fallen at the end of the time which it would take the senders to travel the distance. But this one comes from London, and therefore we cannot count upon delay.” 

“Good God!” I cried. “What can it mean, this relentless persecution?” 

A relentless persecution and important papers 

“The papers which Openshaw carried are obviously of vital importance to the person or persons in the sailing-ship. I think that it is quite clear that there must be more than one of them. A single man could not have carried out two deaths in such a way as to deceive a coroner’s jury. There must have been several in it, and they must have been men of resource and determination.

Their papers they mean to have, be the holder of them who it may. In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the initials of an individual and becomes the badge of a society.” 

“But of what society?” 

“Have you never—” said Sherlock Holmes, bending forward and sinking his voice—“have you never heard of the Ku Klux Klan?” 

“I never have.” 

Holmes turned over the leaves of the book upon his knee. “Here it is,” said he presently: 

“ ‘Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the fanciful resemblance to the sound produced by cocking a rifle. This terrible secret society was formed by some ex-Confederate soldiers in the Southern states after the Civil War, and it rapidly formed local branches in different parts of the country, notably in Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. Its power was used for political purposes, principally for the terrorising of the negro voters and the murdering and driving from the country of those who were opposed to its views.

Its outrages were usually preceded by a warning sent to the marked man in some fantastic but generally recognised shape—a sprig of oak-leaves in some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in others. On receiving this the victim might either openly abjure his former ways, or might fly from the country. If he braved the matter out, death would unfailingly come upon him, and usually in some strange and unforeseen manner. So perfect was the organisation of the society, and so systematic its methods, that there is hardly a case upon record where any man succeeded in braving it with impunity, or in which any of its outrages were traced home to the perpetrators.

For some years the organisation flourished in spite of the efforts of the United States government and of the better classes of the community in the South. Eventually, in the year 1869, the movement rather suddenly collapsed, although there have been sporadic outbreaks of the same sort since that date.’ 

“You will observe,” said Holmes, laying down the volume, “that the sudden breaking up of the society was coincident with the disappearance of Openshaw from America with their papers. It may well have been cause and effect. It is no wonder that he and his family have some of the more implacable spirits upon their track. You can understand that this register and diary may implicate some of the first men in the South, and that there may be many who will not sleep easy at night until it is recovered.” 

“Then the page we have seen—” 

“Is such as we might expect. It ran, if I remember right, ‘sent the pips to A, B, and C’—that is, sent the society’s warning to them. Then there are successive entries that A and B cleared, or left the country, and finally that C was visited, with, I fear, a sinister result for C. Well, I think, Doctor, that we may let some light into this dark place, and I believe that the only chance young Openshaw has in the meantime is to do what I have told him. There is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellow men.” 

It had cleared in the morning, and the sun was shining with a subdued brightness through the dim veil which hangs over the great city. Sherlock Holmes was already at breakfast when I came down. 

“You will excuse me for not waiting for you,” said he; “I have, I foresee, a very busy day before me in looking into this case of young Openshaw’s.” 

“What steps will you take?” I asked. 

“It will very much depend upon the results of my first inquiries. I may have to go down to Horsham, after all.” 

“You will not go there first?” 

“No, I shall commence with the City. Just ring the bell and the maid will bring up your coffee.” 

As I waited, I lifted the unopened newspaper from the table and glanced my eye over it. It rested upon a heading which sent a chill to my heart. 

“Holmes,” I cried, “you are too late.” 

“Ah!” said he, laying down his cup, “I feared as much. How was it done?” He spoke calmly, but I could see that he was deeply moved. 

“My eye caught the name of Openshaw, and the heading ‘Tragedy Near Waterloo Bridge.’ Here is the account: 

“ ‘Between nine and ten last night Police-Constable Cook, of the H Division, on duty near Waterloo Bridge, heard a cry for help and a splash in the water. The night, however, was extremely dark and stormy, so that, in spite of the help of several passers-by, it was quite impossible to effect a rescue.

The alarm, however, was given, and, by the aid of the water-police, the body was eventually recovered. It proved to be that of a young gentleman whose name, as it appears from an envelope which was found in his pocket, was John Openshaw, and whose residence is near Horsham. It is conjectured that he may have been hurrying down to catch the last train from Waterloo Station, and that in his haste and the extreme darkness he missed his path and walked over the edge of one of the small landing-places for river steamboats.

The body exhibited no traces of violence, and there can be no doubt that the deceased had been the victim of an unfortunate accident, which should have the effect of calling the attention of the authorities to the condition of the riverside landing-stages.’ ” 

We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more depressed and shaken than I had ever seen him. 

“That hurts my pride, Watson,” he said at last. “It is a petty feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my pride. It becomes a personal matter with me now, and, if God sends me health, I shall set my hand upon this gang. That he should come to me for help, and that I should send him away to his death—!” He sprang from his chair and paced about the room in uncontrollable agitation, with a flush upon his sallow cheeks and a nervous clasping and unclasping of his long thin hands. 

“They must be cunning devils,” he exclaimed at last. “How could they have decoyed him down there? The Embankment is not on the direct line to the station. The bridge, no doubt, was too crowded, even on such a night, for their purpose. Well, Watson, we shall see who will win in the long run. I am going out now!” 

“To the police?” 

“No; I shall be my own police. When I have spun the web they may take the flies, but not before.” 

All day I was engaged in my professional work, and it was late in the evening before I returned to Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes had not come back yet. It was nearly ten o’clock before he entered, looking pale and worn. He walked up to the sideboard, and tearing a piece from the loaf he devoured it voraciously, washing it down with a long draught of water. 

“You are hungry,” I remarked. 

“Starving. It had escaped my memory. I have had nothing since breakfast.” 


“Not a bite. I had no time to think of it.” 

“And how have you succeeded?” 


“You have a clue?” 

“I have them in the hollow of my hand. Young Openshaw shall not long remain unavenged. Why, Watson, let us put their own devilish trade-mark upon them. It is well thought of!” 

“What do you mean?” 

He took an orange from the cupboard, and tearing it to pieces he squeezed out the pips upon the table. Of these he took five and thrust them into an envelope. On the inside of the flap he wrote “S. H. for J. O.” Then he sealed it and addressed it to “Captain James Calhoun, Barque Lone Star, Savannah, Georgia.” 

“That will await him when he enters port,” said he, chuckling. “It may give him a sleepless night. He will find it as sure a precursor of his fate as Openshaw did before him.” 

Captain Calhoun and the clues in the hollow of my hand 

“And who is this Captain Calhoun?” 

“The leader of the gang. I shall have the others, but he first.” 

“How did you trace it, then?” 

He took a large sheet of paper from his pocket, all covered with dates and names. 

“I have spent the whole day,” said he, “over Lloyd’s registers and files of the old papers, following the future career of every vessel which touched at Pondicherry in January and February in ’83. There were thirty-six ships of fair tonnage which were reported there during those months. Of these, one, the Lone Star, instantly attracted my attention, since, although it was reported as having cleared from London, the name is that which is given to one of the states of the Union.” 

“Texas, I think.” 

“I was not and am not sure which; but I knew that the ship must have an American origin.” 

“What then?” 

“I searched the Dundee records, and when I found that the barque Lone Star was there in January, ’85, my suspicion became a certainty. I then inquired as to the vessels which lay at present in the port of London.” 


“The Lone Star had arrived here last week. I went down to the Albert Dock and found that she had been taken down the river by the early tide this morning, homeward bound to Savannah. I wired to Gravesend and learned that she had passed some time ago, and as the wind is easterly I have no doubt that she is now past the Goodwins and not very far from the Isle of Wight.” 

“What will you do, then?” 

“Oh, I have my hand upon him. He and the two mates, are as I learn, the only native-born Americans in the ship. The others are Finns and Germans. I know, also, that they were all three away from the ship last night. I had it from the stevedore who has been loading their cargo. By the time that their sailing-ship reaches Savannah the mail-boat will have carried this letter, and the cable will have informed the police of Savannah that these three gentlemen are badly wanted here upon a charge of murder.” 

There is ever a flaw, however, in the best laid of human plans, and the murderers of John Openshaw were never to receive the orange pips which would show them that another, as cunning and as resolute as themselves, was upon their track. Very long and very severe were the equinoctial gales that year. We waited long for news of the Lone Star of Savannah, but none ever reached us.

We did at last hear that somewhere far out in the Atlantic a shattered stern-post of a boat was seen swinging in the trough of a wave, with the letters “L. S.” carved upon it, and that is all which we shall ever know of the fate of the Lone Star.

And if you enjoyed the read, then you will be happy to know that you can read the rest of the book here (free of charge)

#europeanphotography   +Europeans on G+ 
Rubén Trejo C.'s profile photoMichael A Koontz's profile photoSuzi Harr's profile photoWesley Yeoh's profile photo
no worries man :) - we wise people prioritize things as we need and feel like (i certainly do the same) :P. Thanks for the kind words about the photo, and +Javier Pantoja good luck with the diaper change today :P
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photo of the day 12 Feb, 2014
photographer +Johan Swanepoel  

I simply do not need to say anything about this beautiful piece of art, straight from life and more precious and perfectly beautiful, as it is then any man made trinket

the black Rhinoceros

Let us Tremble
As it steadfast moves
The crunchy Earth

to whisper
in puffs of dust

a leaf through air
came to rest, on top
its mighty crest

the song of
crickets near

music of the day
Starving vultures - bleeding through

The tides of man

And then we contemplate the tides of man that moves like the rise and fall of sea, one part a selfish beast that cries out in night whenever it cant stockpile even more - of whatever, was deemed it´s latest in the moment drug like fix.

And then there´s the lost wanderer, that knows, but doesnt do as the wells run dry.

But then again, there are those that do water the plants and color the sky, breathing life for all it is, and that is where i will put my moneys worth :).

this should have been called - the worlds illegal trade in horn
Because it is not a problem of one nation, it is a problem and symptom of the entire globe.

Black Rhinoceros - Etosha
Андрей Рогачёв's profile photoJean-Marc Lozach's profile photoVladimír Vocelka's profile photoLouisa Catharine Forsyth's profile photo
Beautiful photo
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Have him in circles
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Author and photographer
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Making life a beautiful stream. Photographer and Author
Depicting the beauty of life that i see and enjoy, through the visual and written art of photography and words.

Some fav posts and photos of my own

A newly born day
Do we float in the dark
autumn Serenade - Octobers day II
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