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The Five Orange Pips, a Sherlock Holmes Mystery

In one instance, the nefarious activities of the Ku Klux Klan extended to England, and Sherlock Holmes was called upon to solve some murders which members of this organization had committed.

     For two years, John had not been troubled by any uncanny messages. However, he had received a letter with five orange pips on the previous day. The envelope had the same triple K and the same instructions about putting the papers on the sundial. The only difference was the postmark. It was sent from the eastern division of London.

     John had seen the police, but they did not take him seriously. However, they did send a policeman to stay in the house with him.

     Sherlock told John that he had to act quickly, or else he was lost. The policeman had not come along with John to London because his orders were to stay in the house.
     When Uncle Elias had burned the papers, one sheet had fallen on the floor and had escaped destruction.  It showed that three people had received orange pips. Two had quickly left the country. The third apparently had been killed.

     Sherlock told John that he should act immediately because he was in imminent danger. He should put the remaining sheet in a brass box with a note explaining that his uncle had burned the rest of the papers.. He should then place the brass box on the sundial. He should not think about revenge. Eventually they could obtain revenge through the law.

     After John left to catch the train back home, Sherlock discussed the case with Dr. Watson. Sherlock had noticed that the postmarks of all three letters showed that they were sent from seaports. He therefore concluded that the writer had been on a ship and mailed them in a seaport. From the time that elapsed between the arrival of the first two letters and the death of the victim, Sherlock concluded that whereas the letter traveled by steamer, the writer traveled by a slower sailing ship. Because John’s letter had a London postmark, the murderers were nearby. That is why Sherlock told John to act immediately.

     Sherlock also concluded that more than one man must have committed the murders, since one man would have trouble performing the deed in such a way that it would deceive a coroner’s jury.

     Sherlock knew that the triple K was the initials of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society that originated in the southern part of the United States. It was officially disbanded in 1869 but continued to operate in various localities. It engaged in various illegal practices, including murder. Sherlock figured that the papers that the murderers were trying to obtain incriminated some of the people who had belonged to this secret society.

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