Irene Adler Reference Page
from the Irene Adler series by Carole Nelson Douglas
For a long time, arsenic was used to make pigments that were used in paint, fabric and wallpaper. Paris Green, an extremely poisonous, bright green powder that is sometimes used as an insecticide or to kill plant fungi, is an example. It was found to be the cause of death of more than a thousand children who had suddenly died, and for no apparent reason, in Italy in the 1890's. A chemist by the name of Gosio found that all the children who died had been living in rooms with wallpaper containing Paris Green, and there was mildew on the walls. Mold growing on the wallpaper released the arsenic in the pigment and formed arsine gas. Arsine is heavier than air, so it sinks to the floor. Children playing on the floor probably inhaled large doses of this highly toxic form of arsenic. Once this link was established, Paris Green was no longer used in wallpaper. Paris green must be used with great caution because of its poisonous nature. Chemically it is a copper acetoarsenite.
For those not familiar with Christmas in England or the church calendar, the first day of Christmas is December 25, Christmas itself. Gifts are given throughout the next twelve days and the biggest and best gifts are saved for last, the twelfth day being January 6. This is Epiphany, the day celebrating the wise men coming to Bethlehem. The first night would be Christmas eve, December 24. Twelfth night is the evening January 5, when the cake is served. Now you can understand the song "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...."