A SHERLOCKIAN ADVENTURE IN SERENDIPITY
by Irving Kamil
(Mr. Kamil is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars (M.Oscar Meunier of Grenoble), and a founder of the scion
Mrs.Hudson's Cliffdwellers, which he headed for 21 years until turning it over to younger hands two years ago.)

muse

One of the aspects of being a Sherlockian that gives me extreme pleasure is enjoying
Sherlockian serendipitous adventures.For those unfamiliar with the Persian fairy tale entitled
The Three Princes of Serendip, serendipity is the faculty of finding valuable or agreeable
things not sought for. For example, you are in an unfamiliar town and you set out looking for
a place for lunch, and by accident, remarkably, you come upon this marvelous bookstore just
loaded with first editions of the canon, most of which are presentation copies signed by the
so-called literary agent to Queen Victoria, or to King Edward the Seventh, or to King
George the Fifth. Thatís exactly what happened to the three princes of Serendip
They were
constantly finding, by accident, not bookstores, perhaps, but other wondrous things which
they found valuable or agreeable.

And thatís serendipity. I have these Sherlockian serendipitous adventures all the time. For
example, while riding on the subway one day, it occurred to me that I really didnít know
much about the House of Ormstein, family of the hereditary kings of Bohemia, you know,

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the fellow in the mask who visited the Master in SCAN.

So when I arrived home, I opened my Oxford edition of the Adventures, turned to the case, and
read not only the passages related to the Grand Duke of† Cassel-Felstein, but the excellent notes at
the back of the volume. Those led me to my world atlas to locate such sites as Schleswig-Holstein, Feldkirch, and the town of Carlstein in Bohemia.

Like a scavenger hunt, I was then sent to my world almanac, my computerís encyclopedia program,
and, inevitably, to Baring-Gouldís Annotated Sherlock Holmes and De Waalís bibliography. By this
time, my desk was piled high with books, and I had spent a most fascinating two hours, discovering

all sorts of remarkable information, useful, Iím afraid only on a very specialized category of Jeopardy. But I was happy, and not the least bit tired, despite my round-the-world adventure.

When my lovely wife, Selma, who had been busy in the kitchen all this time, signaled that it was time for dinner, I sighed, sorry to have to end another Sherlockian serendipitous adventure, sorry to have to leave middle Europe, sorry to leave 1895, but eager to report to her on my travels, on the history of the Hapsburg dynasty, on the tradition of electing the kings of Bohemia, which practice ended in 1657, and on the possible sources for all those exotic names used in ďScandal,Ē the first of Watsonís short reports.

You get the picture?

 

Now you mustnít think that such adventures are nonproductive. Hardly. Many of mine have resulted in articles for the

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Baker Street Journal or other scholarly periodicals. For example, a thorough investigation of
my invested name, Monsieur Oscar Meunier of Grenoble, resulted in my spending the better
part of a week in the several libraries of Columbia University, ending up in the art library,
where I discovered that my invested title was a pseudonym for Auguste Rodin and that it was
really that great sculptor who had prepared the bust in wax at which Colonel Moran aimed his
Herter air rifle. This discovery was published in the Journal, adding whipped cream and a cherry to what had been a fabulous adventure.

Other serendipitous meanderings have resulted in the creation of scion societies in places
where they were sorely missing, such as the Asian Travelers, which Selma and I formed on
the Great Wall of China, or the Penguins of Antarctica, which we organized amid the

thousands of waddling penguins and towering icebergs of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Recently, I had a Sherlockian serendipitous adventure, believe it or not, that was generated by this very cruise we are now on. It was a remarkable experience, believe me. And so I thought I would share it with you, taking you with me from place to place, revealing the wonders I came upon by sheer accident. Perhaps by so doing I may stimulate you to experiment yourselves and engage in your own adventures in serendipity.

 

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