HIS NAME WAS KAROL. A Latvian of dubious repute. His mother was a generous woman - full of good will. 'Midsummer eve' was a joy to behold, and her celebrations of St John's night were legendary.
But Karol had information which would lead to Sherlock Holmes to his greatest adventure.
It would involve Holmes and Watson in their greatest and most dangerous adventure in the remotest reach of the empire. To Papua New Guinea! The world of magic, murder, mateship and wonder.
"Mr Holmes, my mother gave me a great secret and asked me on her dying bed to pass it to you. It is a secret carving, from some unknown place in the great Pacific Ocean. She was left it by an old sailor, and says it has secrets of demons, and Gods, and saints and the future of us all. Please help us!"
"Missus Okuk! Tea!"
"I'erd you Mister 'Olmes. It's a'coming. Don't get your coconuts in the jaws of a pukpuk!"
"Okuk - we have a problem. And a problem means an adventure, and an adventure means we can say goodbye to boredom."
Holmes was perusing a letter which had arrived in the afternoon post.
"Missus Okuk, tell me what you make of this?"
He passed the paper to the faithful housekeeper, who started trembling as she read.
"Why Mr 'olmes, this is about me!"
"And what does it say, good Missus Okuk?"
"It says - "Ene kumo kimbo panga".
"My fluency in Kuman is somewhat rusty. Help me"
"It means you are a witch and you are from the devil. Mi poret tru!”
"Never fear Missus Okuk, Na ambai wagai kaninga!"
"But Mr 'Olmes - there are three Masalai 'ere!"
"Mrs Okuk - you have had a shock. I implore you to retire early with a glass of good French brandy and this small white pill, a supply of which my late lamented friend Dr Watson gave me when I was enduring a period of depressive self doubt some years ago. I think I have need of several too."
"Mr 'Olmes - you are a sweetie. Some say you 'ave the cold heart of a crocodile, but I say you are as warm as a cuscus!"
"Good Missus Okuk. You must retire now, while I ponder on this new problem. Pray leave me with your translations of that extraordinary letter."
"As you wish Mister Holmes."
Holmes relaxed into his armchair facing the fire, and fell into a dreary trance whilst perusing the puzzling paper.
A shadowy figure arose from the firelight when Holmes was in the Arms of Morpheus and stood before him - his features not to be made out in the dim light.
"Sherlock Holmes! I stand before you. Arise sir and meet your fate!"
Holmes was aroused from his slumber.
"Who are you - what is this I see before me?"
"I good sir am the spirit of Papua past. Do not challenge me."
"Spirit - for I believe this is what you are - say what you want and why you have need of me? Are you a spirit of good or evil?"
"We spirits are neither good nor evil, we simply come to tell the truth, whatever path it may lead you humans down."
Holmes - "Then why are you here spirit?"
Spirit - "I have come to seek your help. I am the Great Masalai of the lands of Papua and New Guinea. You have knowledge of them, and I have need of you."
Holmes - "I know nothing of this. What do you want?"
Spirit - "I have need of one Moriarty, and you know of him. He is your sworn enemy! I am the spirit of Papua past and you must come with me!"
"As you wish, but I am no believer in the supernatural."
"You will be before this night is ended. I come from beyond this world to right wrongs and make amends for great injustice."
"As you wish spirit, but I fear I am falling into a dream."
Holmes wandered and wandered - far from his usual self.
Was this a true spirit, or was it the effects of Watson's superannuated medication?
Holmes was at a loss. He had stepped onto a plane at Heathrow only yesterday, and now he seemed to have been transported into the future.
The doctor scanned his knee and gave him a quick dose of ultrasonic surgery. "There now, that will see you right for the next ten years. But don't go scoring anymore 1,000-run records at Waterhousecricket for a few months!"
"Thank you Doctor. Doctor who?"
"Exactly! Bye-bye now."
Holmes wandered out to the airport entrance and was immediately met by a hover-taxi which zoomed down from above.
"Mister Holmes! Welcome to my taxi. May I take you to the New Simbu Lodge? - the best hotel in town!"
"Well thank you, but how did you know my name?"
"Easy - our identimeter picks up your details from within a few steps" said the cheerful man from the Western Highlands.
"And you are our lucky 100th visitor! Your ride is free, and here are 100 credits!"
Holmes was aghast. This was a far cry from the Port Moresby he knew. The hovertaxi sped along pristine freeways, over a beautiful sun-bathed tropical city, past luxurious houses, gleaming gardens and streets kept spic and span and was within a few minutes hovering over the hotel.
"Here we are sir - the New Simbu Lodge. Welcome to Melanesia."
Holmes stared up in amazement at the vast and luxurious glass and marble structure before him. His eye caught the sign and he gasped.
"The New Simbu Lodge and Casino, proud member of the Moriarty Syndicate."
Was he dreaming?
Holmes found himself wafted on the wings of buai to the gentle Isle of Manus by the Great Masalai. He entered a humble hut to seek directions.
But before he had time to take in his surroundings he was ambushed!
"Surrender or die!" and a fierce arm choked his head while a cutthroat-sharp bush knife was held to his throat.
"Why Salome - the famous warrioress of the Geefouress! How pleasant to be reacquainted."
"Sorry Mr Sherlock, I didn't know it was you." She relaxed her grasp.
"Now listen young lady, I need your help in finding a white man held in detention here. His name you have heard before - Moriarty!"
"Not so much of that 'young lady' pekpek if you please. I am a princess and respected leader of my tribe!"
"And I bow before you ma'am and apologise. But we have the same quest. We must find Moriarty before this night is done. Will you help me as you did before with the illustrious Queen Emma?"
"For you Mr Sherlock, yes. But I have my price. My people need medicine to battle the deadly mosquito disease which is even now spreading into my land.
Oh, And where is that lovely Doctor Watson?"
"As usual he is late to the party, but I daresay he will show up soon enough. And yes I can provide some medicine to help your people."
Salome gathered her contacts, whispered secret instructions and they spread out across the island.
Where was Moriarty hiding? They had to find him to satisfy the Great Masalai.
In his secret bush camp, Moriarty was holding court.
Moriarty - "bring in the next!"
"This is Quisling sir."
Very well. Young Quisling, you have been consorting with the enemy, seducing the young native girls, spreading false rumours, leaking secret information, and torturing the natives. How do you plead?"
"Good man. Come sit and enjoy a glass of Schnapps. You are a man after my own heart.
"Bring in Ndrau!"
"You promised me six bags of copra, but today you brought in only four! Please explain."
"Well the trees master, we had a roun win and the nuts, they fell into the sea!"
"No excuse. You promise six, you deliver six"
"Beat the Sklave! She must learn her lesson. Six bags, so six lashes"
Crack went the whip, the scream ascended to heaven.
Crack went the whip, the scream ascended to the great Masalai.
Crack went the whip, the scream reached Holmes's ears.
Holmes burst in.
"Moriarty, stop this! You are the very devil!"
"Ah Holmes, my old adversary. What are you doing here? May I have the pleasure of introducing you to my whip of justice?"
But then a dark cloud enveloped them all.
"Enough Moriarty!" sounded the booming voice of the great Masalai.
"You are about to meet your doom!"
"Come, come, and see the products of your present life!"
"What is happening?" squealed Moriarty.
"Fate, Moriarty, fate."
Bond was driving his Lagonda to the limit down the Poreporena Freeway.
"Holmes - put your seatbelt on"
Kinatoea had passed him a code red message. "Get Holmes Airways ASAP".
The Lagonda had roared into gear, and with Holmes bundled inside it was making the best time ever from Moresby Central to 9 mile.
"Step on it Bond!"
Holmes was pleading from what was an excuse for a back seat.
"Rely on me Holmes, Kinatoa has spoken. So has C."
And so the car sped on, only to come to a screeching halt at the four mile roundabout.
"This bloody PMV!" complained Bond, as Holmes eventually woke up,
"I have a taxi to catch!"
Only a Port Moresby taxi could get him to Jackson's in advance of Bond.
Holmes the journalist was in search of an exclusive - the Kevin O'Neill interview!
It was 2014, and the Masalai of Papua New Guinea present was about to make its presence felt!
Moa iet behain...