August Derleth wrote a “From the Notebooks of Doctor Parker” piece for 1965’s Praed Street Papers, a rare little gem of Ponsiana by the author. It was reissued in a somewhat revised format in 1968 as A Praed Street Dossier and I’m fortunate to own a copy of that one (it’s the unadorned, black-covered one in the bottom row, next to an original Pontine Dossier. It’s an absolute treasure.
Derleth wrote two more sets of ‘Notebooks’ entries for early issues of The Pontine Dossier, the newsletter of The Praed Street Irregulars. Apparently not lacking in hubris, I wrote new ‘Notebooks’ entries for a few issues of The Solar Pons Gazette, my own Pons newsletter, created to fill the hole left by the cessation of The Dossier. I think I’ve written about 9,000 words of ‘Notebooks entries,’ which ain’t bad.
And, to go ahead and Play the Game…
I was recently looking through my collection of miscellaneous papers and found a bundle of papers, mixed in with some notes on the cases of Flaxman Low. I was pleasantly surprised to discover they were as yet unread (by me) excerpts from the notebook of Solar Pons’ Boswell, Doctor Lyndon Parker! I have already published some of his Notebooks writings, but these were new to me. Here is one such entry, with a truly startling revelation! More to follow…
October 2, 1921
I was surprised at Pons’ visitor today: his younger brother, Winford. The junior is an Anglican priest! He is being sent to work in the Jamaican colonies and came by to say goodbye to his brother.
After his departure, I observed that Winford had taken a very different path than the ones followed by his elder brothers. Pons sighed. “Indeed, Parker. As my father had little to bestow upon Bancroft, once it became obvious his faculties were rare indeed, a career in government service was sought for my older brother. There was some discussion of my entering the military, but I was determined to set out on my own path, leading me to become the private enquiry agent which you so ably assist.”
“But from an early age, Winford felt a spiritual calling. I rely on facts, empirical data and supportable deductions as my lodestones. Winford, however, relies on an ethereal faith to guide him.”
“But Pons,” I protested. “I have heard you say that there is more to the world than we can yet explain.”
He waved a hand of dismissal. “Of course, Parker. We are not all-knowing. But that applies in instances that cannot be explained in a secular way. My brother does not deny logic. But that is not his foundation. His faith cannot be validated or proven. I could not practice my profession if I approached it from his vocation’s viewpoint.” He paused and shook his head. “Though there is that Irishman, Byrne, who fancies himself the world’s foremost religious consulting detective.” He gave a short, barking laugh.
I nodded but remained silent. Pons had not even told me of a younger brother and I wanted him to continue talking about him.
“I follow the evidence where it leads. But as Scotland Yard does all too often, Winford begins with a conclusion and looks for evidence to support it.” Pons reached out and took his pipe from the side table and busied himself with lighting it. I waited expectantly, hoping for more, but he was finished talking about his brother.
I would only encounter Winford once more, when the tragic affair of the fiery tobacco plantation took us to Jamaica at his brother’s request.