‘What do you think, a cow?’
Arthur poked the skull with his stick. ‘Possibly, or a large hound.’
‘Strange, sitting here in the middle of an empty moor. A deer I could understand. I wonder how it got here.’ James puffed on his pipe.
‘Well, let’s have a closer look. The evidence is all there, we just have to deduce what it means.’
A stiff breeze caused Arthur to place his hand on his deerstalker hat to stop it blowing away as he bent down to inspect the skull.
‘I do wonder why you insist on wearing that thing. We’re not hunting any deer.’
‘One is always on the hunt, James, even if it is just for a good topic to write about.’
Arthur picked up the skull, next to it lay one or two bones from the unfortunate beast.
‘Well?’ James asked.
Arthur shrugged, ‘Beats me. Probably died of old age and skin and meat have been picked away by scavengers.’ He kicked the bones aside and stood up. ‘No doubt you would want some fantastical story about other worlds and fairies and boyhood adventures.’
‘Can we get a move on?’ James pleaded. ‘It wouldn’t do to be stuck out on Kirriemuir Moor in the middle of the night.’
‘Certainly, after you.’
As they walked away across the lonely moor, wind sweeping across the moss and heather and the sky darkening in a gloomy, threatening manner, Arthur stopped and looked back at the skull lying in the desolate surroundings.
‘I wonder,’ he muttered, and turned away to catch up with his friend.
Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) and J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) were lifelong friends after meeting in the early years of their writing careers. Although Doyle did visit Barrie at his childhood home in Kirriemuir, it was after his most famous creation had been published, but I couldn’t resist a little fictional scenario.