Excerpt from Through a Glass, Darkly
From "Prologue: The Infinite Strangeness of life"
Drifts of white dogwood blossoms had just begun to show in the trees along Seventh Avenue that eerily warm evening of April 21, 1922. People waiting for tonight's performance in the main auditorium of Carnegie Hall had formed a queue that stretched all the way down Fifty-seventh to the corner of Sixth Avenue. The crowds were giddy with the balmy air, and nobody seemed to much mind the wait. After all, tonight's guest was to be none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the celebrated creator of Sherlock Holmes and one of the most famous authors in the world.
Sir Arthur and his wife, Lady Jean Doyle, three children, and two nannies had arrived in the port of New York on the ocean liner Baltic three days earlier for the beginning of Doyle's triumphal speaking tour of America. The day after his arrival, Doyle had taken his family to the highest point in the city—the fifty-seventh floor of the Woolworth Building (the Empire State Building did not yet exist) to survey the busy hive of Manhattan Island. "There is a rush and roar of brilliancy and sense of motion and power such as nowhere else can be found," he later wrote.
Many of those waiting in line tonight had come just to lay eyes on the man who brought the world the eccentric sleuth in the deerstalker hat, a surprising number of whom believed that Mr. Holmes was actually a real person. Some had written him letters at 221 B Baker Street, imploring his help in some trouble or other; women offered their services as his housekeeper or even their hands in marriage. But fascination with the gaunt, haunted, cocaine-imbibing detective did not fully explain why tonight's lecture-demonstration had drawn a standing-room-only crowd of more than three thousand (and, over successive nights, would fill Carnegie Hall five more times the next year, 1923). Because it was by now widely known that Sir Arthur had opened an astonishing—some said, ridiculous—new chapter in his life. The poster summed it up:
Lee Keedisk presents SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
Famous English Novelist, author of "Sherlock Holmes" mystery series,
whose investigations of Life After Death have aroused