The Five Orange Pips
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|"The Five Orange Pips"|
|Author||Arthur Conan Doyle|
|Series||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
|Set in||Sept 1887|
The story was first published in The Strand magazine in November 1891. Conan Doyle later ranked the story seventh in a list of his twelve favourite Sherlock Holmes stories. This is also one of only two Sherlock Holmes short stories where Holmes' client dies after seeking his help. The other is "The Dancing Men".
A young Sussex gentleman named John Openshaw has a strange story: in 1869 his uncle Elias Openshaw had suddenly come back to England to settle on an estate at Horsham, West Sussex after living for years in the United States as a planter in Florida and serving as a Colonel in the Confederate Army.
Not being married, Elias had allowed his nephew to stay at his estate. Strange incidents have occurred; one is that although John could go anywhere in the house, he could never enter a locked room containing his uncle's trunks. Another peculiarity was that in March 1883 a letter postmarked Pondicherry, in India, arrived for the Colonel inscribed only "K.K.K." with five orange pips enclosed.
More strange things happened: Papers from the locked room were burnt and a will was drawn up leaving the estate to John Openshaw. The Colonel's behaviour became bizarre. He would either lock himself in his room and drink or he would go shouting forth in a drunken sally with a pistol in his hand. On 2 May 1883 he was found dead in a garden pool.
The next day there is a newspaper account that the body of Openshaw has been found in the River Thames and the death is believed to be an accident. Holmes checks sailing records of ships who were at both Pondicherry in January/February 1883 and at Dundee in January 1885 and recognises a Georgia sloop named The Lone Star. Lone Star may refer to the Lone Star State, Texas, although the boat is registered to Georgia. Furthermore Holmes confirms that The Lone Star had docked in London a week before. Holmes sends five orange pips to the captain of The Lone Star, and then sends a telegram to the Savannah police claiming that the captain and two mates are wanted for murder. The Lone Star never arrives in Savannah due to a severe gale. The only trace of the boat is a ships sternpost marked "L.S." sighted in the North Atlantic.
The 1945 film Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear is partly based on "The Five Orange Pips".
The November 2014 episode of Elementary titled "The Five Orange Pipz" takes some story elements from this short story. The unusual "Pipz" spelling is the trademarked name of a fictional bead toy where a manufacturing error rendered the orange beads poisonous when ingested by children.
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Penguin Popular Classics, 1994, page 108.
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