The Return of Sherlock Holmes
The Return of Sherlock Holmes Foreignness and 'the Other' Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"My mother and I were left without relations in the world except for one uncle, Ralph Smith who went to Africa twenty-five years ago, and we have never had a word from him since." (Solitary Cyclist.13)
This idea of someone heading off to the Empire and disappearing is actually a pretty common trope in English literature. In terms of storytelling, the Empire provided all sorts handy tropes: exotic locales, a convenient place to ship off unwanted characters, a site of mystery, etc. In terms of reality, lots of families had relatives living far off in the Empire in this era, so the long-absent Ralph Smith isn't that unusual.
"Lie number one," said the old man; "I never saw either of these until two months ago, and I have never been in Africa in my life, so you can put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Busybody Holmes!" [...] "Well, well, two of you came over. His reverence is our own homemade article." (Solitary Cyclist.135-137)
This is one of the funnier exchanges in these story, thanks to the crotchety Mr. Williamson. Holmes also raises an interesting idea here: that criminals "coming over" versus "homemade" criminals. A person's foreign status definitely plays a role in criminal debates here.
It represented an alert, sharp-featured simian man, with thick eyebrows and a very peculiar projection of the lower part of the face, like the muzzle of a baboon. (Six Napoleons.47)
Watson's diction, or word choice here alludes to eugenic ideas, or race theory that often associated foreigners with monkeys and apes in derogatory ways.