"The Adventure of the Cat's Meow"

On Monday, May 4, 1891, Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty, fought a terrible battle atop the magnificent Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland. Holmes, the world’s foremost private consulting detective and a master of baritsu (the Japanese system of wrestling), emerged victorious, and Moriarty fell, screaming horribly, to his death.

Several weeks earlier, in the detective’s rooms in Baker Street, not far from London’s Marble Arch, Moriarty had warned his adversary: "You hope to beat me. I tell you that you will never beat me."
But Sherlock Holmes walked away from the Reichenbach Falls on May 4, while James Moriarty lay crushed and lifeless in the torrent of foaming water below.

It seemed as though the Professor had, for once, been proven wrong.

Or had he?

In 1939, almost half a century later, British poet T.S. Eliot published a light-hearted collection of verse titled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. In one of the volume’s many poems, "Macavity: the Mystery Cat," Eliot at last revealed the astonishing, incredible truth: far from having been beaten by Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty had returned to resume their duel.

Moriarty come back from the dead?

Indeed. But not in the form of an aging university don.

No, James Moriarty had been reincarnated as a cat!

Those interested in the full details, in the indisputable and incontrovertible array of proofs backing up Eliot’s amazing claim, will have to await the appearance of my forthcoming book, Five Famous Feline Felons, to be published next fall by Pockat Books. But at the insistence of Director P. Schreuders, I have agreed to make a brief summary of the principal indications available for the readers of the Poezenkrant.

Consider, first, the physical aspects.

T.S. Eliot’s description of the mystery cat reads as follows:

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Now, compare that picture with Sherlock Holmes’ own description of Professor James Moriarty, as chronicled in "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head (…) his face protrudes forward and is forever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion."
Some readers may, at this point, already be convinced. But, for the more skeptical, "I shall keep piling fact upon fact upon you, until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right," as Holmes himself put it during "The Adventure of the R
ed-Headed League."

Consider, again.

According to Eliot’s report on the activities of Macavity:

"… they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napolean of Crime."

Now listen to Sherlock Holmes’ comments on Moriarty, again with "The Final Problem" as the source: "He does little himself. He only plans. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized. (…) He is the Napoleon of Crime, Watson!"

"Mungojerrie" and "Griddlebone" are, of course, only the aliases which Eliot used to conceal the true identities of two of the most heinous of Macavity/Moriarty’s henchmen.

"Mungojerrie" was in fact Colonel Sebastian Moran, "the second most dangerous man in London" after Moriarty himself. When Eliot, earlier in his poem, mentions that "He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)," it is actually Moran and not Moriarty to whom he refers. The Colonel "lived by his ill-gotten card gains," said Holmes in "The Adventure of the Empty House," and murdered the Honourable Ronald Adair in order to avoid exposure.

And "Griddlebone" was none other than Mr. Joseph Harrison, who at the Professor’s command stole an important naval treaty from the Foreign Office in the adventure recorded by Conan Doyle as, naturally, "The Naval Treaty." Eliot referred to the case in line 27 of his poem: "And when the Foreign Office finds a treaty gone astray…."

But back to the matter at hand.

Moriarty, "a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty."

Macavity, who was often "engaged in doing complicated long-division sums."

Moriarty – his name eight letters long, beginning with an M and ending in ty.

And then Macacity, the name chosen to cloak the Professor’s reincarnation in secrecy – also eight letters long, also beginning with an M, also ending in ty.

The facts speak for themselves.

Yet one question still remains: after his fall from the Falls, did the archfiend Moriarty wait a full half-century before effecting his return as a cat, or did he come back sooner?

In 1939, T.S. Eliot wrote of another of Macavity’s crimes, a case of "the Admiralty [having lost] some plans and drawings…."

But years earlier, Sherlock Holmes had been called in to investigate that very case, the theft of the plans and drawings of the Bruce-Partington submarine, "the most jealously guarded of all Government secrets." In Conan Doyle’s report, published as "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans," Holmes eventually was able to pin the theft on Colonel Valentine Walter – and Colonel Walter, like Colonel Sebastian Moran before him, was clearly an agent of the Napoleon of Crime.

But "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" took place in November of 1895, a mere 4 1/2 years after the death of James Moriarty.

"You hope to beat me," the Professor had said to Sherlock Holmes. "I tell you that you will never beat me."

By 1895, Moriarty was back.

And the game was again afoot.

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