Slaney's Story (Sherlock Holmes)

This is the Sherlock Holmes story of the Adventure of the Dancing Men, told from our antagonist's, Abe Slaney's perspective!

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1. Slaney's Story

Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock Holmes, (the story or the character). 

Bold = lines I quoted directly from 1984 Sherlock Holmes miniseries episode of Dancing Men

Italicized = lines I quoted directly from the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries book, (with foreword from Anne Perry) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

**********

I, Abe Slaney, am a man who narrowly missed being put to death over I crime I committed out of love for my dear Elsie Patrick, or Elsie Cubitt as she is now called. On this page, as I sit in the jail cell waiting to begin my time of penal servitude, I write my true accounts of the events of the Dancing Men that led me to where I am now.

 

*********

 

I was sitting in a chair in my room at Eldrige’s Farm, pondering my next move in my quest to coax my beloved Elsie away from England and back to where she belonged. I was in awe that she would prefer to remain with that Englishman rather than come with me, her childhood friend! She was the daughter of the boss of the gang I belonged to back in the city, the Joint, and her father had promised her to me long ago. I knew that she was rightfully mine, I intended to claim her.

Upon finally receiving word of her since her disappearance from Chicago, one could say that I was quite furious that she had broken our betrothal and married another man. I came to England to try and bring her back home, since she did not reply to my letter that I had sent about a month prior.

During my stay at Eldrige’s Farm, I snuck out a few times to write messages on the property at Riding Thorpe Manor in the language of the Dancing Men that Elsie’s father created years ago. My first one read, “AM HERE ABE SLANEY,” which I had written on a window sill of the manor the Tuesday before. Seeing as I got no reply from that, I then dropped a note that read the same message onto the sundial in the yard. After I got no reply from that, I decided to take more drastic measures. The thought had occurred to me that someone was dispelling the messages before Elsie even saw them, so I wrote the next one on the door to what appeared to be their tool house, in plain sight of the front windows, to make sure she saw it. This one stated, “AT ELDRIGE’S.” Two days after that, I left a follow up message that read, “COME ELSIE.”

The next night, I came to the house in search of Elsie herself. When she saw me, she let out a shriek that must have beckoned her husband to the room. Quickly, I scrawled out the same message as before, and then fled as Elsie herself blocked her husband from coming after me. The next day, I saw that she had written, “NEVER,” on a different door panel in reply. After reading that, I was blinded by my anger at her impudence. For that reason, I returned two days later to tell her, “ELSIE PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.” I’ll admit that that was a bit rash, but I do have quite the temper when something angers me.

It was that message that spurred a reply on Elsie’s part, which told me to meet her at the end window of Riding Thorpe Manor at three in the morning to discuss issues. Those events are what led to where I was at the beginning of this anecdote, sitting in Eldrige’s farm house.

                                                          

**********

 

The afternoon passed by, and soon enough, I was on my way to Riding Thorpe Manor

in the wee hours of darkness. I remember the letter she wrote: she stated that the sole reason she was agreeing to this was because of her desire to protect her husband’s reputation. To this day, I still wonder how one can lover another that deeply, despite only knowing each other for about a year. It pained me to think that she didn’t want to be with me just because of the profession I chose. She should have known that her father would’ve had my head if I defected from the Joint! Also, since I was known as, “the most dangerous crook in Chicago,” that sort of limited my opportunities for other jobs, even if I wanted them.

As I approached the manor, I saw the lights of a candelabra flickering through the window. From a glance, I saw that the person holding the device must certainly have been Elsie. Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of me, and proceeded to hurriedly usher me in through the open window.

About two minutes after my entrance, Elsie finally broke the awkward silence.

“Can’t you see?” she began with a pleading look in her eyes. “I’ve never been as happy as I’ve been here with him! I love him!” I then turned away from her face to prevent her from seeing the angry look in my eyes at that last statement. “I want to stay, and I’m going to stay!”

“What about your friends in Chicago? What about your family?” I knew that those words were a pitiful and weak argument, considering that the reason she left her family was because of her friends and family.

“Friends, do you call them? Killers, robbers, extortionists? Some family,” she retorted. At the time, I just didn’t understand why she exactly saw those qualities as a problem since everything the Joint did was to her personal gain and benefit.

“But you and I were engaged!” I shouted at her, turning to face her once more.

“I’m sorry, Abe! My father forced me into it! How can I be happy with you and that life? Please go away, I beg you!”

“You BEG me??” I inquired incredulously. I just couldn’t believe the low levels she was stooping to. She probably knew that I could’ve easily taken her by force if I wanted, but my pride and I would’ve preferred if she had come willingly.

“Yes. Hilton is such a good man! It would break my heart if scandal ever touched him!” She then pushed what felt like a good deal of money into my palm, and told me, “It’s all that I have. Please go, okay?” That was the final straw for me. I unleashed my temper and grabbed her, intending to drag her through the window and back to Chicago, if I had to carry her bound and gagged all the way.

“You’re coming home!”

“NO!”

“YOU’RE COMING HOME!

At that point, her husband burst into the room with his revolver pointed straight at me. I then drew my own weapon, released Elsie, and slowly headed for the open window. Right when it appeared that he was going to shoot me, I pulled the trigger on my own weapon at the same time he did on his, then I ran like a madman out the window. During my flight from the property, I heard another gunshot ring out from the manor. However, my sense of self-preservation overtook my curiosity as to what caused that noise.

 

**********

 

During the afternoon of the next day, while I was at Eldrige’s, I received a note that must surely have been written by my dear Elsie, or so I thought. It was written in the Dancing Men language, and read, “COME HERE AT ONCE.” Since I did not want to keep Elsie waiting, I immediately set off on horseback to Riding Thorpe Manor.

Upon arriving at the door to the manor, a maid answered it and showed me into the library. To my utmost surprise, I had scarcely taken a single footstep into the room before I had two metal cuffs on my wrist and a gunpoint at my head.

“Well, gentlemen, you have the drop on me this time, but what the heck is going on!” I bluntly stated. The prospects of how I had walked right into this trap did not look good in my mind’s eye, for most of them involved Elsie’s betrayal.

            Then, the man who had the gun pointed at my head, (who looked like he was constantly alert, in my opinion) replied, “Abe Slaney, I presume?”

“Well if I am, who are you anyway?” I calmly shot back at him.

“My name would mean nothing to you, but I suspect that the one of the Head of the Chicago Police Department will!” My silence must have spoken volumes, as the man’s next quip was, “Ah, I see that it does.”

“I came here in answer to a letter from Mrs. Hilton Cubitt,” I continued. “Don’t tell me that she’s in on this? Don’t tell me that she helped set a trap for me?” Such betrayal to me on her part would have most definitely wrecked and ruined me emotionally, at the time.

“Mrs. Hilton Cubitt was seriously injured, and is at death’s door!”

“AGH!!!” I shrieked, primarily out of surprise and grief.

            “You’re crazy!” I insisted. At the time, there was no rhyme or reason as to how mass bodily harm had come upon my dear Elsie in the past hour. “It was he that was hurt! Not she!” I declared. That basically told them that I was the guilty part of that morning’s transactions. “Who would have hurt little Elsie? I may have threatened her- God forgive me! - but I never would have touched a hair on her pretty little head! Take it back- you! Say that she is not hurt!” At that point, I strongly desired to wrench myself free from the policeman, and beat the fluff out of this man who dared to lie to me about the physical state of my beloved Elsie.

            “She was found, badly wounded, by the side of her dead husband.” After hearing that statement, it felt as if all the anger within me dissipated, and that a wall inside of me had come crashing down. I just sat there, buried my head in my manacled hands, and silently contemplated that new information. It felt like hours before I finally spoke up, but in reality it must have been a mere few minutes.

“I have nothing to hide from you gentlemen. If I shot the man he had his shot at me, and there’s no murder in that!” I then told them all about how Elsie had been pledged to me, and how I loved her more than anything else. It was true! “I tell you that I had first right to her, and that I was only claiming my own!” I just wished that these men would understand that I never meant to harm Elise or her husband; it was just that Hilton Cubitt had been preventing me from taking Elsie away, back to where she belonged.

In turn, the other man with the gun then told me about how I was the guilty party since I stalked Elsie to England and tried to forcibly bring her back home to Chicago.

“You have ended by bringing about the death of a noble man and driving his wife to suicide. That is your record in this business, Mr. Abe Slaney, and you will answer for it to the law!” he told me.

Shocked by the prospect of my imminent incarceration or even death, I simply replied, “If Elsie dies, I care not for what becomes of me.” However, one thing was still nagging me in the back of my mind. As I opened my palm to reveal the note that “Elsie” had sent to me, I stated, “See here mister,” I cried out in desperation. I just knew that I needed them to confirm the terrible thought that was plaguing my mind. “You’re not trying to scare me over this, are you? If the lady is hurt as bad as you say, who was it that wrote this note?

The man with the gun, who at this point I had suspected was the detective of this case, calmly replied, “I wrote it, to bring you here.”

“YOU wrote it?” I repeated incredulously. I was very astounded that anyone outside of the Joint knew it, let alone an Englishman who most likely had never been to Chicago in his life! “There was no one on Earth outside the Joint who knew the secret of the Dancing Men! How came you to write it?”

”What one man can invent, another can discover,” was his simple reply. At that moment, I realized that if this man with such singular powers knew our secret code, then the Joint was compromised. I wished that I could’ve had some way to warn them about that important matter!

The man then continued to explain to me that I was going to be taken away to Norwich and put on trial, and that Elsie herself was the one being accused for her husband’s murder. I didn’t catch all the particulars since I was sort of in a haze after finding out that Elsie was truly almost about to meet thy God. I just told myself that I would now do everything I could to clear her good name of that charge.

“I guess the very best case I can make for myself is the absolute naked truth.” In retrospect, I’m not sure where my logical mind was at that moment, I was just overwhelmed with the situation I had gotten myself into, or I hoped to get a lesser sentence by telling my story willingly. Either way, I then continued on to tell them the absolute and utter truth surrounding my history with Elsie, the events that occurred prior to last night’s happenings.

Upon rambling it all out, I told myself that I would be lucky if I didn’t get a death sentence then and there. However, I knew that these were civil men, who would at least take me to be put on trial. When we were about to leave, I asked to see my dear Elsie one last time. However, as expected, I was denied that right. Once the policemen had me secured in the cab, we drove away from Riding Thorpe Manor in silence.

 

**********

 

Several weeks later, I was then tried at the winter assizes of Norwich and found guilty. I narrowly avoided receiving the death sentence, due to the fact that no one could prove who fired the first shot that night. I did end up with penal servitude, which for some people isn’t much better.

As I conclude this narrative of how I came to be where I am now, my only hope is that Elsie recovers from her fatal wound, and finds another man worthy of her to spend the rest of her days with. I also later learned that the man who discovered the Dancing Men code was named Sherlock Holmes. I hope he rots in the darkest pits of whatever damnation lies in wait for us upon death for sending me to jail like this. Although, I doubt that will occur since he seems to be a champion on the side of “good” and “justice” and other nonsense like that.

To anyone who ever bothers to read this one day, I have ended by turning the Dancing Men to an instrument of my demise, when they have often been used as agents of mine and the Joint’s successes. 

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