Headlines

“Fail-proof horse hoof polish!” the radio screeched out. I turned the dial to the next station “Breaking news, from the London Times! Another perplexing mystery has been solved by the honorable Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Doctor John Watson! They were brought the case only 3 days ago. A certain young woman named Helen Stoner came to their living quarters on Baker Street with this strange story. Today with us, we have the venerable Dr. Watson who is going to tell us about the case.” I was immensely interested in the work of the two men.

“So, Doctor, what can you tell us about this new case?” I turned my attention back to my radio “Well, I will start at the beginning. Miss Stoner came to us three mornings ago. She lives at her stepfather’s estate in Surrey, near Leatherhead. Two years ago, Miss Stoner woke to a loud shriek and then a whistle from the room next to hers, where her twin sister was sleeping. She rushed into the adjoining room only to hear her sister scream “the speckled band!” and then slump to the floor, dead. Miss Stoner was forced to sleep in her deceased sister’s room for the past week or so due to renovations in her room. It was right next to her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s bedroom. Ever since she moved into the room next to his, she heard the strange whistles that she heard the night that her sister died. The night before Miss Stoner came to us, she heard the whistle accompanied with a hissing sound and got so frightened that she barred her bedroom door, locked the shutters, and took every precaution that nobody or nothing could get into her room.

The next morning, her stepfather was out, so she took a dogcart to my friend and I’s dwelling on Baker Street. After hearing her story (what I’ve just told you) my friend commenced with questioning her, especially about her stepfather. It turns out that he had lived in India for quite a time with his wife, while he learned about the Indian ways of doctoring. His wife died in India, leaving 200 pounds to each of her daughters upon the event of their marriage. He had served a sentence in prison for killing his Indian butler out of pure rage, and that he was in a good deal of debt. Holmes also found that he had no love for his stepdaughters whatsoever, was often gone for extended periods of time and kept many Indian animals for pets, including a cheetah and baboon, of which Miss Stoner was very frightened of. We also learned that when the young lady’s sister was going to be married the day after she died, that Miss Stoner was at this time engaged also, and that she was very scared of her stepfather.
We arranged to come that afternoon, while Dr. Roylott would still be out and investigate. Miss stoner left our rooms, and not 10 minutes later, we heard an angry tug on the bell rope, and pounding footsteps coming up the stairs. A large, commanding figure stood in our doorway. He introduced himself as Dr. Grimesby Roylott and commenced in telling us that his stepdaughter was of a very excitable nature, prone to over exaggerate things and that if we believed anything she said, we were mad. He also told us that if he found us meddling with his affairs, it would not bode well for us. He grabbed the fire poker and with two large hands, bent it almost completely over as if to prove his strength, and then pounded back down the stairs. Holmes chuckled, picked up the poker and calmly bent it back to its normal shape. We could see now how Miss Stoner was frightened of him.

That afternoon, when we arrived, we found that thankfully, the Doctor was still gone. Miss Stoner took us up to her bedroom, which my companion inspected carefully. There was no way for anything or anyone to get through the window. It was barred, shuttered, and locked. After looking the whole room over, Holmes noticed three strange things. There was a bell cord next to the bed that didn’t ring any bells, the bed was bolted to the floor, and a ventilator that went into the adjoining room, which happened to be Dr. Roylott’s own bedroom, where we went next. What we found was a large messy room with a large safe in it, a table covered in papers, a chair with a stick placed on it that had a leather loop on the end, a saucer of milk, and a few odds and ends from India. My friend must have seen something that I didn’t, because I could tell that he was very pleased.
After inspecting the grounds and giving Miss Stoner some instructions, we went home to Baker street. However, we didn’t stay there long. Holmes told me to get my revolver, he took a few things, and then we left. I had no clue where we were going. We ended up at a lodging house across the road from the Roylott estate, with a perfect view of the house. It was then that I recalled the instructions that Holmes gave Miss Stoner. He had told her to light an oil lamp and put it in the window of her room, until her stepfather had gone to bed, and had ceased to move around in his room. She was also supposed to pack a valise and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We settled down in a room at the lodging house and waited until dark. About 9:30, the oil lamp went out. Holmes jumped up, grabbing his coat and mine, which he handed to me, as I put my revolver snuggly in the inside pocket.
As we snuck into the Roylott grounds we were startled by the baboon running across the lawn. Climbing into the window that led into Miss Stoner’s room (she had opened the shutters and bars) Holmes helped her out the window and told her that there was a cab waiting at the lodging house for her, to take her to her Aunt’s house for safety. Then, we settled down for a long night of intense waiting. Our nerves were strung high, and our ears were tuned to the slightest noise from the room next to the one that we were occupying.
At about 1:35 am, we heard a stirring from the next room. It was followed by the sound of about 10 footsteps, a slight grating noise, another 10 steps, the sound of a chair scraping lightly across the floor, and the squeak of wood as someone stood on top of the chair. Holmes silently picked up his riding whip off of the floor and looked as though he was ready to spring. All of a sudden, we heard the whistle that Miss Stoner had told us about and saw something sliding out of the ventilator, and onto the bell cord. At the same time, we heard a hissing sound, akin to that of steam escaping a pressurized water container. Holmes sprung up with a wild yell and started attacking the bell cord with his stout leather whip. He shoved something back through the ventilator, and then we heard a blood-curdling scream and a heavy thud. We raced to Dr. Roylott’s room and forced the door open. He was lying on the floor with a speckled snake latched onto his neck. Holmes picked the snake up with the stick with the leather loop on the end, shoved it in the safe, and slammed the door. Dr. Grimesby Roylott was dead within 5 minutes. It turns out that the doctor had brought the black and yellow speckled cobra from India and trained it with a series of whistle signals. He had been sending the snake through the ventillator every night for a week, waiting for the snake to find it’s mark. Fortunately for Miss Stoner, it hadn’t.”

“The rest of the story in just a minute.” The radio man’s voice came through, high pitched and nasal. The broadcast was interrupted here by advertisements. I waited until the obnoxious things ended “And now, the rest of the story from Dr. John Watson.” I leaned forward in my chair “When we were finally back in our rooms at Baker Street, I asked my friend how he had deduced that Dr. Roylott was the murderer. He started telling me all of the many clues that I had missed; The dirty fingerprints on the wall going up to the ventilator, the signs on the chair of it being stood on frequently, the snake holder (the stick with a leather loop attached to the end), and the saucer of milk to feed the snake with, and the hissing that Miss Stoner had heard the night before. Also, that the only motive for the murder (and attempted murder) of the two young women was to be able to keep the money that the girls’ mother had left them. Another crucial clue was that Dr. Roylott had construction going on that made the girl have to sleep in the room next to him before the first murder, as well as the attempted second murder. The murder and attempted murder happened just before both girls were to be married (this is when they would have claimed the money that their mother left them), though 2 years apart, thus enhancing his theory and the suspected motive for the crime.”

“I had seen a few of these clues, not realizing the importance of them, while the others, I was totally oblivious to.”

“And what has become of Miss Stoner?” The high pitched nasal voice came again. “Is she still living at the Roylott estate?”
“Miss Helen Stoner is now living with her Aunt out in the English countryside until the full police investigation is over, and she is married.”
“Quite an impressive case, Doctor” the radio man said. “Yes, my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a fantastic detective, and never ceases to amaze me with his admirable deducing skills.”
I flipped the radio off, turned my collar up, and went out to the misty street to start my long day of work. Detective work, to be precise, and a new case had come in today. My name is Sherlock Holmes.

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More Literature Analysis of a Knight of the White Cross

In my last essay I talked about the setting and style of the book assigned for English, so today I’ll be writing about the character development and plot.

 

The Plot development of A Knight of the White Cross, by G.A. Henty

As I said in my last essay, most of Henty’s books pretty much all have the same base story. A handsome, strong, young man rises in fame and fortune and becomes a hero to the country. They normally end up with the fella’ marrying a gal that he rescued from some terrible thing. In A Knight of the White Cross, a young man named Gervaise joins the Order of St. John, in the magnificent city of Rhodes. He has a good thinking head, as well as being a great warrior at a young age (due to the training he received ever since he was a small child). He is a Page to the Grand Master for 3 years, before becoming a professed knight. Soon after, he was sent on a galley with a bunch of other knights. They encountered 5 or 6 pirate ships that they eventually captured with the help of two other galleys that were also on patrol. While out on the ocean, Gervaise showed himself worthy of being dubbed a real Knight upon their return. In later events, Gervaise did lots of things that earned him great renown including capturing 13 pirate ships and destroying 10 more with only one galley. He was a favorite with the Grand Master and all his fellow knights. He took part in the defense of Rhodes during the famous siege of Rhodes. In the end of the book, he marries a girl from Genoa and lives happily ever after.

Character Development

Really the only characters that develop enough to mention are Gervaise, his best friend Ralph Harcourt, and Lady Claudia (the girl he marries). Gervaise starts out being a 13-year-old boy, working as Page to the Grand master of the Order of St. John. Later on, he becomes a professed knight, then a real knight, the captain of a galley (at the age of 17), a slave (he got captured, but then escapes), and then finally a married man. Sir Ralph Harcourt starts out as a professed knight and becomes a real knight at the same time as Gervaise. He is 1st mate to Gervaise on his galley, and eventually, gets awarded with the command of his own galley. Lady Claudia is first introduced in the book as a serious 14-year-old girl. She isn’t talked about a lot since she lives in a whole different country than Gervaise, but she’s talked about enough to know that as she became a woman, she was the beauty of Genoa, and refused many offers for her hand in marriage. When Gervaise asks her to marry him, she accepts and becomes his wife.

 

This Weeks History Essay

This week I started 8th-grade history through the Ron Paul Curriculum. The class is taught by Bradley Fish Jr. Today, I am going to overview what I learned this week. Focusing on a little bit of history from the Middle East.

The Middle East

This civilization includes modern-day Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. You see, the ancient people from this area were farmers, so they needed a great place to plant their crops and keep them lush and green. The middle east was a great choice because there was a semi-circle kind of area that was especially fertile. The Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile rivers all flow through this area, which was called the “fertile crescent” after it’s lush farming land (see pictures below). Between the years of 1000 BC and 500 AD, the middle east changed hands a lot, in fact, 5 different powers ruled during those 1500 years. Babylon, Persia, Parthia, Rome, and for a short time, Alexander the Great was in control.

In 750 AD, the Muslims took over the government, converting it to their religious system, to start forming the Islamic middle east that we know today.

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Map of the Fertile Crescent
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Farms in the Fertile Crescent

 

The Battle of Jumonville Glen

The Battle of Jumonville Glen was a 15-minute skirmish that started the wheels in motion for the 7 years war (also called the French and Indian war).

It all started on a cold winter night. A troop of English and Indian soldiers were marching toward a place called Fort Necessity.  The fort was in construction, and the soldiers were sent to keep it safe from the Canadians while it was being built. The English soldiers were commanded by a man named George Washington, (yes, the same man that let the continental army in the American Revolution) and the Indian soldiers were being led by a man named Tanacharison.

Washington and Tanacharison were about 5 miles apart when word came from the Indians that they had spotted the Canadian encampment.  (As a side note really quick, the band of 35 or so Canadians led by Joseph Jumonville, was just a small part of a larger group of soldiers. The larger group had already captured the partly constructed fort that Washington was on his way to defend.  Jumonville and his men were sent to warn Washington not to start messing around with the Canadian’s claimed land).  Washington marched his men the 5 miles that night to where Tanacharison was and set up an ambush.  The next morning, the Canadians were surprised by a bunch of soldiers attacking the camp.  The skirmish lasted only about 15 minutes, but quite a few of the Canadians were killed, including Joseph Jumonville.  Not including a couple of men that managed to escape, all of the Canadian survivors were taken as prisoners.  The dead were either just left in the field where the battle took place or  buried in very shallow graves.  George Washington pushed his men on to the fort.

When word came to the main party of Canadians, Jumonville’s brother was raving mad.  He took a troop of 600 soldiers, attacked Washington and his men and forced him to surrender.  The surrendering terms were written in french, which Washington couldn’t read, so it is questionable if he knew what he was agreeing to when he signed that paper. It turns out that the paper had a confession that he had had Jumonville specifically assassinated in the battle.   That was used against him later in life.

The next year, more and more small conflicts kept happening, and essentially grew into a full blown war.  In fact, both France and England declared war on each other in 1756.  This was the 7 years war, or the French and Indian war.

The Digestive System

So what would happen if you were a piece of food, and you got chewed up and swallowed?  Where would you go?  Well, first off, you would be in the person’s mouth.  You would get chewed up into a slimy, pasty, mass that would be swallowed.  Then, you go down this long tube called the Esophagus.  After going through the esophagus, you would find yourself in the digestive tract, which, essentially, is all of the organs that help digest food.  Now you are in the stomach. The stomach pours out all of this acid stuff that breaks down food even more.  by this time, the food is just molecules!  After being in the stomach for a few hours, you’d go through an opening called the Pyloric Sphincter.  It gauges how much food goes through it.This way, not too much food, and not too little food goes into the small intestine.  The small intestine is a long, winding, tube that the food molecules go through that absorbs the nutrients from the food.  Small intestines are more than 20 feet long!  Now you travel to the liver, which separates the good stuff from the waste and gross stuff.  It takes the vitamins from the food and puts them in your blood to help your body be healthy.  The Liver makes this stuff called bile also. It flows through the small intestine while you are in it, and helps break down fat and stuff.  The gallbladder keeps all of the extra bile that isn’t being used.  The pancreas is very important also. It makes a liquid that helps break protein and carbohydrates down even further.  Now, you are in the large intestine.  After going through there, you would land in the colon. It is basically the place where the waste separates into solid and liquid.  After that, the solid exits through the rectum. I think that I don’t need to explain that any further. 🙂

So, what is Photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis (photo-sin-thu-sis) is a process that plants use to make themselves food, and make us oxygen. It is a complicated name for a complicated process, so I’ll try to break it down for you.  Basically, the sun hits the plant or tree, and the plant uses some of that energy to turn water and carbon dioxide into a thing that it can “eat” and grow with.  What’s left over is a bunch of oxygen! God was a great engineer when he made the earth, because with all of the plants in the world converting yucky carbon-dioxide (what comes our of our mouth when we breath out) into wonderful, pure, oxygen, we never run out of air to breath!

 

Cinder Cone and Shield Volcanoes

Today I’m going to be telling you about two different types of volcanoes. There are four major kinds; Cinder Cone, Composite, Shield, and Lava Dome, but today I am just going to be telling you about  Cinder cones and Shields. First we will look at Cinder Cones.

Cinder cone volcanoes kind of look like a big pile of sand with a huge hole dug in the middle.  But really, they spew out chunks of lava that break apart and form a ton of cinders.  It kind of gradually builds the volcano up. Here is a picture of a Cinder Cone Volcano.

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Cinder Cone Volcano

Shield volcanoes have lava that is very liquidy, so it flows faster.  Also, there isn’t very much ash and rock in  a shield volcano.  In general, they don’t get super duper tall (the tallest is only 14,177′ above sea level).  Despite not being the tallest volcanoes out there, shield volcanoes are super, super wide (some as much 60 miles wide).

 

A Shield Volcano