Five Lives Nero Wolfe Never Led
by Grey Bard
"Sir Nero," I said, "No disrespect, but the Queen isn't exactly going to like this..."
"Botheration, Archie, what do I care what Fat Henry's daughter thinks? This is an outrage!"
"This is also," I said, "how you are paying for those pigeon pies you're so fond of."
He left, snarling, in the direction of the orangerie.
You won't believe me, but the famous Neronetes was the oddest Oracle who ever lived.
The things I could tell you about his dark suspicions about Delphi! Personally, I thought there was an element of professional jealousy, there, but what do I know? He often claimed they were not so much divinely inspired, as chemically, but my personal theory is sour grapes over the better theatrical ambiance.
I mean, how do you compete with a holy seat suspended over a giant steaming crack in the Earth?
Not that Neronetes didn't try, mind.
My employer, Mr. Nero Wolfe of 12 Bascombe Close, attempted to convince me to run a copyright infringement case against Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle - long before his celebrated knighthood, of course. When I explained why that wouldn't wash, he wasn't sure if he'd prefer to go after the man for unjust enrichment or plain libel.
Obviously, none of these proceedings came to anything in the least, but he continued to entertain cool feelings in that direction, a state which only even began to thaw once Doyle deigned to belatedly pay tribute to Wolfe in the form of Holmes' wiser, more sedentary brother.
To the day of his death Mr. Wolfe, and his many satisfied clients, maintained that that Strand fellow didn't have a patch on Wolfe in the matter of good sense or discretion. Gadding about, dressed as a gypsy? Hardly!
Not to mention the imbecility of deducing anything from one's clothes alone. Wolfe had an entire speech about vendors of used clothing as a phenomena not to be ignored.
He was hardly surprised that Holmes became popular on the stage.
Nero Wolfe emigrated to Ferengi space shortly after his thirty first birthday, and never set foot in the Federation again.
He proudly claimed his fees in latinum, or possibly a good ale, and never looked back.
Note To Readers: All names are fully translated into their English equivalents or artistic interpretations thereof. No, I don't speak Mandarin - deal.
Nero Wolfe was one of the most respected, and most spoken about, magistrates in all of Shaangxi Province. After some unknown career in Kaifeng, he passed the government jinshi exams with astonishing grace and promise, especially since he had certainly been an employed man and not apprenticed to any scholar of note.
In retrospect, it is not surprising that he rose to district magistrate and no further, since undoubtedly he rejected any offers of daughters and the political patronage that would have come with them.
Instead, he brought with him a very fine cook from the Hangzhou province, a large chest full of exotic seeds, several trunks full of scrolls and codexes, and settled into his office of state as if it were a beloved ancestral home, and his by right. Naturally, such confidence made a favorable impression, particularly in the light of his soon legendary near-infallibility and his total lack of interest in those district affairs which did not strictly concern him.
Of course, Nero Wolfe was hardly the name of his birth, and some concerns were raised when he recruited his deputies.
One was a quiet and meager-looking merchant's son with a sly look about him, another a village blowhard with a certain useful implacability, and myself - fresh off the grain wagon. To be perfectly honest, our altars weren't terribly impressive - and worse yet, that of Magistrate was entirely shrouded in secrecy. Still, we all functioned well enough, and Wolfe's breadth of learning was impressive and sincere enough to silence all but the most persistent of rumors of a dishonorable past as an army spymaster.
Even I, who functioned also as his personal secretary of correspondence, had mostly put such thoughts from my mind until the day that an outraged young woman came before me in the court loudly demanding justice.