“We exaggerate the difficulty of the unknown”*

From: ADVENTURE 2: “THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE” (1892) by Arthur Conan Doyle:

” “How, in the name of good fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?” he asked. “How did you know, for example, that I did manual labor? It’s as true as gospel, for I began as a ship’s carpenter.”

     “Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it and the muscles are more developed.”

     “Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?”

     “I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you use an arc and compass breastpin.”

     “Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?”

     “What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it upon the desk.”

     “Well, but China?”

     “The fish which you have tattooed immediately above your wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small study of tattoo marks, and have even contributed to the literature of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes’ scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch chain, the matter becomes even more simple.”

     Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. “Well, I never!” said he. “I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it after all.”

     “I begin to think, Watson,” said Holmes, “that I make a mistake in explaining. *’Omne ignotum pro magnifico,’ you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr. Wilson?” “

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