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Three Hundred Years Earlier

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I mynde twas late in our investigatioune of the manne with the twisted lippe, when Holmes was certayn he must retourne to Mistresse St Clare with no word of her missing husband, when we found ourselves neare to the Globe Theatre, that was then but newly builte, and not far from the foul taverne The Bar of Gold wherein the loste man had last beene seene. I am fonde of playes myself, and though Holmes professes to see lyttle goode in them I think in that he speaks false, and so I look’d upon the hanging bills for aught of intereste as we pass’d, and so miss’d at first the sight of a manne I had some little acquayntance with, until he call’d my name.

“Watson,” said he, “art come to a playe? Tis too late for one to-day, and must imperille thy soule by going to-morrow,” that being the Lord’s day.

“Good day, Will,” I said, turnyng to him. “Nay, we’re here on other business. Dost know Sherlock Holmes?”

“Nay. Well met,” said he, taking Holmes’ hande.

“Tis Shaksper,” I explayn’d to Holmes.

“The writere, aye. Tis through your profession you met Watson?”

“Aye, though he’s too proude for the stage.”

“Tis no matter of pride, but of abilitie,” I objected. “My talents lye not there.”

“But you came heere not to talke of playes, you saide. What business brings you?”

“Holmes’ business,” said I, “which is the investigatioune of riddles. A manne has gone missyng, one Ned St Clayre, that was laste seene not far from here. Dost know him?”

“I think not, but there was a boy of that name in the theatre, juste when I started.”

“Was there?” askt Holmes, suddenlie eager as a hound.

“Indeed, and most skill’d at paynting, as our boies have to be to counterfeit women. He was indeed so fine an actresse and face-painter we hop’d he would staie on, but he left when his beard grew, and I know not what became of him. Tis likely not the same manne.”

“But it myght be,” said Holmes. “Dark hair’d, of middling height, with fine features and a deep voyce?”

“Tis true we us’d to say he had a lady’s face e’en without paint, and twas his voice that went first. But it can do you no goode to know of his past, when tis his present that is in questione.”

“Nay, indeed, I think tis essential. I thank you for your helpe, Master Shakspear. Watson, we must away.”

I knew his look. “Hast solved it?”

“So I think. Come away, we’ve business at Bridewell.”