Latest Update (as at 30/1/11):

Location: London. Back.

Total Distance Cycled: 10,325km
Days Biking: 140
Longest Day: 174km (2/12/10)

Tuesday 7 December 2010

The Curious Case of the Padded Pantaloons

Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.

"Well, Watson, what do you make of it?"

What could Watson make of it? He had been presented with a most singular narrative of which he, at present, could make no sense.

"I am afraid I must desire you to tell me the sorry saga again Holmes. I cannot see any logical explanation."

Holmes drained his coffee cup and placed it carefully upon the saucer. It clinked softly as if to punctuate the silence with a delicacy that directly related to the sensitivity of the matter in question.

"Very well Watson" he began. He spoke slowly this time to allow his distinguished companion a little more time for reflection.

"This morning I received a letter from two travellers in Argentina. The mystery they describe began when they found themselves in a tiny town, far from anywhere, and in need of the services of a laundry.

The outpost, named Rio Mayo, could not however offer any formal business dedicated to this task and so they were forced to seek the aid of their hotelier.

The hotel in which they were staying was of a ancient sort, perhaps glorious in its day, now rather tired and faded. It was one of only two available in the town, and the authors of the letter had been persuaded to settle upon it because of the warm nature of the owners. They had been interested in the travellers, who pursue their journey by bicycle, since making such a long journey in that manner is a habit that is unusual for residents of that part of the world. The owners had expressed their shock and admiration for such an adventure. The hoteliers were a pleasant couple, with two children and a large collection of dogs (one of whom, a Bulldog, lounged almost permanently on a sofa in the communal area) the travellers liked them and felt very welcomed.

It was therefore with no hesitation that they petitioned the female owner for the opportunity to use a sink in her establishment in order that they might solve their present problem and wash the clothes themselves. They describe in their missive the importance of regularly washing their clothes since they travel with so few of them. They therefore guard them closely and feel most attached to their garments. Many of their garments are highly specialised, carefully chosen for the prime activity they undertake, and therefore require sensitive washing that they might remain repeatedly usable.

Upon appealing to the hotelier, she saw their laundry dilemma and after a moment's reflection offered to perform the duty herself for a reasonable fee. They deemed this a very satisfactory outcome for all concerned and handed her the garments to wash.

A few hours later they checked on the situation and were informed that the clothes had nearly been cleaned and would be hung out to dry. This was all as they expected although they did wonder about the delay in having them washed. Since however the process was underway they left and undertook other business.

Their other affairs occupied them for the rest of the day and it was not until late evening that they returned to their hotel and sought to collect their clothes. Upon their arrival however there was no-one present. They hunted around, knocking on several doors, but to no avail. It was not long before it would be dark and they needed to pack and so they decided to see if they could find the clothes themselves and retrieve them.

It was the work of only a few moments to establish that they were hanging on a line positioned at the back of the hotel. They decided to perform the job of removing them from the line themselves in order not to further disturb the owner. The task was a long one since the clothes had been attached to the line with meticulous precision, many times over, since the area is famed for its strong winds. The travellers reflected on the care that had been taken to hang the clothes out.

Shortly after returning to their room, however, they realised that one garment was missing. A pair of half leg pantaloons that they described as cycling shorts. Assuming they must have dropped them on their return they went to look for them.

But they were nowhere to be found. Perhaps they reasoned the owner had hung them elsewhere to dry or maybe they were still in the machine. They decided to wait for her return. They were rather vexed. These were a vital item of clothing, specially designed to allow a cyclist to sit with comfort on a bicycle. They were also one of the most expensive pieces the travellers bought.

It was an hour or two before the owner returned. The travellers were waiting and this is where the trail ran dry. For, you see, the owner could not find them. They were not in her laundry machine, they were not sitting on any surface near the machine, she had employed a friend to hang out the clothes (the lady who had so judiciously done so) and this lady did not remember seeing a black garment with a green squishy inside. A search was conducted of the laundry area and rendered no sign upon the ground, or anywhere nearby. "

"The wind", interrupted Watson. "Surely Holmes the garment was simply carried away in the very strong wind."

"The travellers themselves suggested this, but Watson remember the friend has taken such care with the clothes. All the others remained upon the line. In addition she could name so many of the items involved but could not recollect the padded pantaloons. They conducted a very thorough search of the whole area and they could not be located."

"Then the owner stole the pantaloons. She guessed they were valuable and took them. "

"Come, come Watson. The travellers were at pains to point out how charming the owners appeared. Remember too, that the garment relates to a very specific activity. An activity not commonly undertaken. The garment would appear ugly and unappealing to anyone not seeking to cycle a very long way and its value would be obscured."

"Someone else stole them, perhaps?"

"If one presupposes that someone might want such a thing then it is possible. However, the area at the back of the hotel was fairly secluded. Who would have known they were there and why not take other items too?"

"I see your point. Then, they were destroyed in the machine, or maybe never made it into the machine in the first place."

Holmes smiled indulgently. "You are closer, Watson. Perhaps they indeed never made it into the machine. They were certainly not destroyed in it as that too was checked and the travellers searched all their own possessions with great care. They were sure they gave them to the owner."

"Oh Holmes, I do not know. The item cannot simply have vanished into thin air."

"Well, Watson, it seems that perhaps it did. That is exactly why the travellers have written to me. It is a terrible mystery. No solution could be found. They made a trip to the local constabulary to report them missing and spent a very interesting half an hour in the company of a young female officer of the Argentine force who helped them complete a report to present to their insurers here in London. They commented on her efficiency and how she seemed to measure up well to the criteria for policing posted on the wall of the office. She was the right height to be an Argentine police officer, she must have graduated at at least level three from her educational institution and she was obviously without record or blot herself. Her report however, is all they left town with. They never found the pantaloons and will have to carry on with their female cyclist reduced to using one pair."

"That sounds most inconvenient. But Holmes, I know you, I can see a glint in your eye. You know do you not, who is at the bottom of this strange tale."

"Not who, Watson, what."


"What, Watson, what."

"You´ve lost me."

"There is a candidate for the theft that you have completely overlooked. A creature not a person."

"Go, on."

"The hound, Watson, the hound. The hound that lounged around. It was one of many, so perhaps is not the exact candidate, but there was a dog, Watson, on the premises. I know you are fond of the canine kind but they have a propensity for sneaking soft spongy items to play with and `kill´. I would wager that whilst the washing was sitting on the floor waiting to go into the machine the hound pounced and carried the pantaloons away. My suspicion is confirmed by the fact that the owner herself mentioned that sometimes the dogs carry washing away."

"Good Lord Holmes. No!"

"I fear so, Watson, I fear so. No other explanation is possible. I suspected an arch-paw from the very first moment the crime was revealed. The Hound of the Rio-Mayovilles. That is what this case must be called. The travellers will have to comfort themselves with this and no other solution".

And that, dear reader, is exactly what they did.


  1. Splendid! I was hooked right til the end!

  2. That gave paws for thought but got to the padded bottom of it!! Watson the bot now?

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