The Crack in the Lens
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The wild and lovely scenery is a backdrop for a tale of madness, love and deceit... Philip K. Jones

In the spring of 1871 Sherlock Holmes is 17 years old. He and his parents have just returned to their estate in Yorkshire after two years in France because Sherlock's oldest brother, Sherrinford, is due to be married.

That spring Sherlock meets Violet, the daughter of Godfrey Rushdale, a tenant farmer on the Holmes estate. Godfrey has succumbed to drink after the death of his wife. He is given to drunken rages and has driven off all the help. The farm is in ruins and the fields have gone fallow. Violet struggles to pay the rent and feed herself and her father.

Sherlock's father, the Squire of Mycroft Manor, is determined to send Sherlock to the university and have him trained as an engineer, a career that Sherlock has no interest in. In furtherance of this objective the Squire hires a tutor, Professor Moriarty, to prepare Sherlock for the university. Sherlock spends his mornings with the Professor and his afternoons with Violet on the moors. A romance blossoms between Sherlock and Violet. Moriarty complains that Sherlock is not studying hard enough and thus begins the first minor frictions between Sherlock and Moriarty. In Sherlock's mind Moriarty is not all he seems to be and the conflicts between them mount as the summer progresses. When Mycroft visits for Sherrinford's wedding, he observes Sherlock watching Violet and warns Sherlock that their father would not be pleased. Sherlock complains to Mycroft about Moriarty but Mycroft thinks Sherlock is imagining evil intentions on Moriarty's part.

In late August a house guest who is familiar with Moriarty's background vanishes overnight. When Sherlock investigates, Moriarty accuses Sherlock of persecuting him. The Squire makes Sherlock work the harvest as punishment. Violet faints while gleaning. Sherlock attempts to take her home, but she insists that he will cause trouble with her father.

Sherlock studies hard trying to forget Violet. Moriarty continues to undermine Sherlock's relationship with his father. Sherlock searches Moriarty's room and finds a letter proving that Moriarty was asked to resign from his former position due to questions of scholarly misconduct and more serious accusations. Moriarty catches Sherlock in his room and threatens to shoot him unless he gives up the letter. Moriarty burns the letter.

When Moriarty hears of Sherlock's past relationship with Violet he meets with her and accosts her. She breaks free and rides away in a snow storm in fear. Sherlock sees this encounter through a window and tries to catch Violet. Sherlock loses Violet in the snowstorm and becomes lost himself. The next morning his brother Sherrinford searches for Sherlock on the moor and finds him nearly frozen to death. He brings him home but Sherlock is gravely ill.

©2010 Darlene A. Cypser