This was written for "A Tribute to Sherlock Holmes on the Occasion of his 100th Birthday", a BBC radio programme broadcast on 8 January 1954.
The Young Lord Peter Consults Sherlock Holmes
Lionel Hale: Thank you. And now, to the older genius whom we are honouring, a tribute from one who followed in his footsteps, another detective who fights his private war on crime, a tribute to Mr. Holmes, the son of a country squire, from the son of a ducal family -- Lord Peter Wimsey.
Wimsey: The name of Sherlock Holmes was a household word in our family some years before Dr. Watson gave it world-wide publicity. Not only were we distantly connected with Reginald Musgrave, but my father was a minor member of the Cabinet during Lord Holdhurst's tenure of the War Office, and thus participated in the agitations accompanying the theft and happy recovery of the Naval Treaty. I was born in 1890, too late to share my parents' distress over the supposed tragedy at the Reichenbach Falls in the following year; but I just remember my father coming in one evening to announce triumphantly to my mother: "Good news, Honoria! Sherlock Holmes is alive and back in London!" His exploits were my bedtime stories, and in time I learned to read for myself Dr. Watson's revelations of his great friend's character and detective methods.
I am therefore proud to put on record that I once met Sherlock Holmes, and, indeed, was myself a client of his. I was rising eight at the time, and the subject on which I consulted him was the disappearance, at our house in Cavendish Square, of a black kitten named Seneca. The circumstances were somewhat mysterious. The kitten had last been seen in the night-nursery, a room to which there was no access except through the play-room where we were all having breakfast with our nurse and the nursery-governess. We noticed that Seneca had not arrived for his accustomed saucer of milk, and presently we went to look for him. But he was nowhere to be found. Nobody had entered or left the night-nursery except the maid, who affirmed that she had not seen him, although she had done the room very thoroughly. He could not have got out the window, which was securely wired over. The whole house was searched in vain. The grown-ups, in their casual way, said "He'll turn up all right"; but we children suspected that the maid (who disliked cats) of kidnapping and murder.
It was late in the afternoon when, after various adventures, I presented myself at 221B, Bakers Street. Whether my tender years, my flaxen hair, or my distracted appearance persuaded good Mrs. Hudson to admit me I do not know. It can scarcely have been my title, for on that staircase upon which so many crowned heads had carried their troubles, the younger sons of dukes must have been as silver in the days of Solomon. But admit me she did -- and there I beheld the great man, pipe, violin, dressing-gown and all, seated before the fire with Dr. Watson in attendance. He greeted me kindly, saying: "Well, my little man, what can I do for you?" I replied modestly, that I had supposed that he would wish to tell me that himself. He laughed and said: "I am not so omniscient as my friend here makes out. Beyond the obvious facts that you are in distress of mind, that your parents take in the Strand Magazine, and that you left home hastily without consulting them, I know nothing about you." Somewhat abashed by these inferences (for I had not dared to put on my boots and out-door apparel for fear of discovery) I laid my problem before him. "You have looked up the chimney, of course," said he. "Oh, yes, sir," said I. "And nobody went into the night-nursery except the maid?" "Nobody, sir," said I. "In that case," said he, "it is possible that your little pet has been accidentally made up in one of the beds." The suffocating picture thus presented to my imagination so overwhelmed me that I burst into unmanly tears; but Dr. Watson was quick to reassure me that very little air would suffice for so small an animal. He added, however, that it would be well to avoid further delay, and in the friendliest manner offered to escort me home in a hansom cab.
We arrived just in time to allay the fears of the household, who were about to apply to the police for news of me, and hastily proceeding to the night-nursery we found poor Seneca, flattened but quite uninjured, asleep beneath my mattress, just as Mr. Holmes had said. I am glad to remember that I sent my benefactor a grateful letter and the entire contents of my money-box -- about two-and-ninepence, a great sum in those times -- and that with supreme tact he accepted this fee, acknowledging it in a signed receipt. "For professional services rendered," which I cherish to this day. If Mr. Holmes is listening to me now, I should like, while congratulating him on his centenary, to thank him for his kindness to the small boy who has since endeavored, however imperfectly, to follow in his footsteps.
This text was reprinted in Sayers on Holmes, which has the somewhat dubious distinction of being the slenderest volume I own. However, as I learned absolutely everything I know about scholarly writing from reading all this fabulous Holmesian scholarship at the tender age of 12, and I got it basically for free in Amazon's 4-for-3 promotion, it was well worth it.