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The Complete Sherlock HolmesArthur Conan Doyle Table of contents A Study In Scarlet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 The Sign of the Four . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes A Scandal in Bohemia . . . . . . . . . . . .119 The Red-Headed League . . . . . . . . .135 A Case of Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .149 The Boscombe Valley Mystery . . . .159 The Five Orange Pips . . . . . . . . . . . . .173 The Man with the Twisted Lip . . . .185 The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199 The Adventure of the Speckled Band . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211 The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb . . . . . . . . . . .225 The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .237 The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .249 The Adventure of the Copper Beeches . . . . . . . . . . . . . .263 The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Silver Blaze . . . . .279 The Yellow Face293 The Stock-Broker’s Clerk . . . . . . . . .305 The “Gloria Scott” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .315 The Musgrave Ritual . . . . . . . . . . . . .327 The Reigate Puzzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .339 The Crooked Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .351 The Resident Patient. . . . . . . . . . . . . .361 The Greek Interpreter. . . . . . . . . . . . .373 The Naval Treaty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385 The Final Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .403 The Return of Sherlock Holmes The Adventure of the Empty House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .417 The Adventure of the Norwood Builder . . . . . . . . . . . .429 The Adventure of the Dancing Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .443 The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .457 The Adventure of the Priory School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .469 The Adventure of Black Peter . . . . .485 The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton . . . . .497 The Adventure of the Six Napoleons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .507 The Adventure of the Three Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .519 The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez . . . . . . . . . . . .529 The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter . . . . . . .543 The Adventure of the Abbey Grange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .555 The Adventure of the Second Stain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .569 The Hound of the Baskervilles . . . .583 The Valley Of Fear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .659 His Last Bow Preface . . . . . . . . .741 The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge .743 The Adventure of the Cardboard Box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .761 The Adventure of the Red Circle. .773 The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans . . . . . . .787 The Adventure of the Dying Detective . . . . . . . . . . . . . .803 The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax . . . . . . . . .813 The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot825His Last Bow . . .839 The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes Preface . . . . . . . . .851 The Illustrious Client . . . . . . . . . . . . .853 The Blanched Soldier . . . . . . . . . . . . .867 The Adventure Of The Mazarin Stone . . . . . . . . . . . . . .879 The Adventure of the Three Gables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .889 The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire . . . . . . . . . . . . . .899 The Adventure of the Three Garridebs . . . . . . . . . . . . . .909 The Problem of Thor Bridge . . . . . .919 The Adventure of the Creeping Man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .933 The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .945 The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .957 The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place . . . . . . . . . . . .965 The Adventure of the Retired Colourman. . . . . . . . . . .975 A Study In Scarlet A StudyInScarlet Table of contentsPart IMr. Sherlock Holmes . . . . . . . . . . . . .7The Science Of Deduction . . . . . . . .10The Lauriston Garden Mystery . . .14What John Rance Had To Tell. . . . .19Our Advertisement Brings A Visitor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do. . . . . . . . . . . .26Light In The Darkness . . . . . . . . . . . .30Part IIOn The Great Alkali Plain . . . . . . . .37The Flower Of Utah . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41John Ferrier Talks With The Prophet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44A Flight For Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46The Avenging Angels . . . . . . . . . . . . .51A Continuation Of The Reminiscences Of John Watson, M.D. . . . . . . . . .55The Conclusion .59 3 PART I.(Being a reprint from the reminiscences ofJohnH. Watson, M.D.,late of the Army Medical Department.) A StudyInScarlet CHAPTER I.Mr. SherlockHolmesIn the year 1878I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for sur- geons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northum- berland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regi- ment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had bro- ken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy’s country. I followed, however, with many other of?cers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reach- ing Candahar in safety, where I found my regi- ment, and at once entered upon my new duties. The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shat- tered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery. I should have fallen into the hands of the murder- ous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw me across a pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines. Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base hospital at Peshawar. Here I rallied, and had al- ready improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to bask a little upon the ve- randah, when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse of our Indian possessions. For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to England. I was dispatched, accordingly, in the troopshipOrontes, and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ru- ined, but with permission from a paternal govern- ment to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it. I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air—or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I natu- rally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a com- fortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought. So alarming did the state of my ?nances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alter- ation in my style of living. Choosing the latter al- ternative, I began by making up my mind to leave the hotel, and to take up my quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile. On the very day that I had come to this con- clusion, I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turn- ing round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Bart’s. The sight of a friendly face in the great wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a hansom. “Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?” he asked in undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded London streets. “You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut.” I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly concluded it by the time that we reached our destination. “Poor devil!” he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened to my misfortunes. “What are you up to now?” “Looking for lodgings,” I answered. “Trying to solve the problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.” “That’s a strange thing,” remarked my com- panion; “you are the second man to-day that has used that expression to me.” “And who was the ?rst?” I asked. “A fellow who is working at the chemical labo- ratory up at the hospital. He was bemoaning him- self this morning because he could not get some- one to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had found, and which were too much for his purse.” “By Jove!” I cried, “if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very 7 A StudyInScarlet man for him. I should prefer having a partner to being alone.” Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine-glass. “You don’t know Sherlock Holmes yet,” he said; “perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion.” “Why, what is there against him?” “Oh, I didn’t say there was anything against him. He is a little queer in his ideas—an enthusi- ast in some branches of science. As far as I know he is a decent fellow enough.” “A medical student, I suppose?” said I. “No—I have no idea what he intends to go in for. I believe he is well up in anatomy, and he is a ?rst-class chemist; but, as far as I know, he has never taken out any systematic medical classes. His studies are very desultory and eccentric, but he has amassed a lot of out-of-the way knowledge which would astonish his professors.” “Did you never ask him what he was going in for?” I asked. “No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him.” “I should like to meet him,” I said. “If I am to lodge with anyone, I should prefer a man of stu- dious and quiet habits. I am not strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remain- der of my natural existence. How could I meet this friend of yours?” “He is sure to be at the laboratory,” returned my companion. “He either avoids the place for weeks, or else he works there from morning to night. If you like, we shall drive round together after luncheon.” “Certainly,” I answered, and the conversation drifted away into other channels. As we made our way to the hospital after leav- ing the Holborn, Stamford gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman whom I proposed to take as a fellow-lodger. “You mustn’t blame me if you don’t get on with him,” he said; “I know nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him occasionally in the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so you must not hold me responsible.” “If we don’t get on it will be easy to part com- pany,” I answered. “It seems to me, Stamford,” I added, looking hard at my companion, “that you have some reason for washing your hands of the matter. Is this fellow’s temper so formidable, or what is it? Don’t be mealy-mouthed about it.” “It is not easy to express the inexpressible,” he answered with a laugh. “Holmes is a little too scienti?c for my tastes—it approaches to cold- bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for de?nite and exact knowledge.” “Very right too.” “Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting- rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a bizarre shape.” “Beating the subjects!” “Yes, to verify how far bruises may be pro- duced after death. I saw him at it with my own eyes.” “And yet you say he is not a medical student?” “No. Heaven knows what the objects of his studies are. But here we are, and you must form your own impressions about him.” As he spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed through a small side-door, which opened into a wing of the great hospital. It was familiar ground to me, and I needed no guiding as we ascended the bleak stone staircase and made our way down the long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall and dun-coloured doors. Near the further end a low arched passage branched away from it and led to the chemical laboratory. This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless bottles. Broad, low tables were scat- tered about, which bristled with retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue ?ickering ?ames. There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. “I’ve found it! I’ve found it,” he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. “I have found a re-agent which is precip- itated by hœmoglobin, and by nothing else.” Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features. “Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stam- ford, introducing us. “How are you?” he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should 8 A StudyInScarlet hardly have given him credit. “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.” “How on earth did you know that?” I asked in astonishment. “Never mind,” said he, chuckling to himself. “The question now is about hœmoglobin. No doubt you see the signi?cance of this discovery of mine?” “It is interesting, chemically, no doubt,” I an- swered, “but practically—” “Why, man, it is the most practical medico- legal discovery for years. Don’t you see that it gives us an infallible test for blood stains. Come over here now!” He seized me by the coat-sleeve in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at which he had been working. “Let us have some fresh blood,” he said, digging a long bodkin into his ?nger, and drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette. “Now, I add this small quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive that the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a million. I have no doubt, how- ever, that we shall be able to obtain the characteris- tic reaction.” As he spoke, he threw into the vessel a few white crystals, and then added some drops of a transparent ?uid. In an instant the contents assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar. “Ha! ha!” he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted as a child with a new toy. “What do you think of that?” “It seems to be a very delicate test,” I remarked. “Beautiful! beautiful! The old Guiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the micro- scopic examination for blood corpuscles. The lat- ter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood is old or new. Had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty of their crimes.” “Indeed!” I murmured. “Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed. His linen or clothes are examined, and brownish stains discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a question which has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes’ test, and there will no longer be any dif?culty.” His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put his hand over his heart and bowed as if to some ap- plauding crowd conjured up by his imagination. “You are to be congratulated,” I remarked, con- siderably surprised at his enthusiasm. “There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frank- fort last year. He would certainly have been hung had this test been in existence. Then there was Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of new Or- leans. I could name a score of cases in which it would have been decisive.” “You seem to be a walking calendar of crime,” said Stamford with a laugh. “You might start a pa- per on those lines. Call it the ‘Police News of the Past.’ ” “Very interesting reading it might be made, too,” remarked Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick on his ?nger. “I have to be careful,” he continued, turning to me with a smile, “for I dabble with poisons a good deal.” He held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster, and discoloured with strong acids. “We came here on business,” said Stamford, sit- ting down on a high three-legged stool, and push- ing another one in my direction with his foot. “My friend here wants to take diggings, and as you were complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you, I thought that I had better bring you together.” Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me. “I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,” he said, “which would suit us down to the ground. You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?” “I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,” I answered. “That’s good enough. I generally have chem- icals about, and occasionally do experiments. Would that annoy you?” “By no means.” “Let me see—what are my other shortcomings. I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I’ll soon be right. What have you to confess now? It’s just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together.” I laughed at this cross-examination. “I keep a bull pup,” I said, “and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices when I’m well, but those are the principal ones at present.” 9 A StudyInScarlet “Do you include violin-playing in your cate- gory of rows?” he asked, anxiously. “It depends on the player,” I answered. “A well-played violin is a treat for the gods—a badly- played one—” “Oh, that’s all right,” he cried, with a merry laugh. “I think we may consider the thing as set- tled—that is, if the rooms are agreeable to you.” “When shall we see them?” “Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we’ll go together and settle everything,” he answered. “All right—noon exactly,” said I, shaking his hand. We left him working among his chemicals, and we walked together towards my hotel. “By the way,” I asked suddenly, stopping and turning upon Stamford, “how the deuce did he know that I had come from Afghanistan?” My companion smiled an enigmatical smile. “That’s just his little peculiarity,” he said. “A good many people have wanted to know how he ?nds things out.” “Oh! a mystery is it?” I cried, rubbing my hands. “This is very piquant. I am much obliged to you for bringing us together. ‘The proper study of mankind is man,’ you know.” “You must study him, then,” Stamford said, as he bade me good-bye. “You’ll ?nd him a knotty problem, though. I’ll wager he learns more about you than you about him. Good-bye.” “Good-bye,” I answered, and strolled on to my hotel, considerably interested in my new acquain- tance.CHAPTER II.TheScienceOfDeductionWe met next dayas he had arranged, and in- spected the rooms at No.221b, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting. They con- sisted of a couple of comfortable bed-rooms and a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully fur- nished, and illuminated by two broad windows. So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so moderate did the terms seem when divided between us, that the bargain was concluded upon the spot, and we at once entered into possession. That very evening I moved my things round from the hotel, and on the following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and port- manteaus. For a day or two we were busily em- ployed in unpacking and laying out our property to the best advantage. That done, we gradually be- gan to settle down and to accommodate ourselves to our new surroundings. Holmes was certainly not a dif?cult man to live with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his day at the chemical laboratory, some- times in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in long walks, which appeared to take him into the lowest portions of the City. Nothing could exceed his energy when the working ?t was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life for- bidden such a notion. As the weeks went by, my interest in him and my curiosity as to his aims in life, gradually deep- ened and increased. His very person and appear- ance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. His hands were invariably blotted with ink and 10 A StudyInScarlet stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of ex- traordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe when I watched him manipu- lating his fragile philosophical instruments. The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody, when I confess how much this man stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeav- oured to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned himself. Before pro- nouncing judgment, however, be it remembered, how objectless was my life, and how little there was to engage my attention. My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather was excep- tionally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence. Under these circumstances, I eagerly hailed the little mystery which hung around my companion, and spent much of my time in endeav- ouring to unravel it. He was not studying medicine. He had him- self, in reply to a question, con?rmed Stamford’s opinion upon that point. Neither did he appear to have pursued any course of reading which might ?t him for a degree in science or any other recog- nized portal which would give him an entrance into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain studies was remarkable, and within eccentric lim- its his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample and minute that his observations have fairly as- tounded me. Surely no man would work so hard or attain such precise information unless he had some de?nite end in view. Desultory readers are seldom remarkable for the exactness of their learn- ing. No man burdens his mind with small matters unless he has some very good reason for doing so. His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowl- edge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it. “You appear to be astonished,” he said, smil- ing at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.” “To forget it!” “You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a dif?culty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.” “But the Solar System!” I protested. “What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.” I was on the point of asking him what that work might be, but something in his manner showed me that the question would be an unwel- come one. I pondered over our short conversa- tion, however, and endeavoured to draw my de- ductions from it. He said that he would acquire no knowledge which did not bear upon his object. Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated in my own mind all the various points upon which he had shown me that he was exceptionally well- informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them down. I could not help smiling at the document when I had completed it. It ran in this way—Sherlock Holmes—his limits.1. Knowledge of Literature.—Nil.2. Philosophy.—Nil.3. Astronomy.—Nil.4. Politics.—Feeble.5. Botany.—Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows noth- ing of practical gardening.6. Geology.—Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. Af- ter walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.7. Chemistry.—Profound.8. Anatomy.—Accurate, but unsystematic. 11 A StudyInScarlet 9. Sensational Literature.—Immense. He ap- pears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.10. Plays the violin well.11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law. When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the ?re in despair. “If I can only ?nd what the fellow is driving at by reconciling all these accom- plishments, and discovering a calling which needs them all,” I said to myself, “I may as well give up the attempt at once.” I see that I have alluded above to his pow- ers upon the violin. These were very remark- able, but as eccentric as all his other accomplish- ments. That he could play pieces, and dif?cult pieces, I knew well, because at my request he has played me some of Mendelssohn’s Lieder, and other favourites. When left to himself, however, he would seldom produce any music or attempt any recognized air. Leaning back in his arm-chair of an evening, he would close his eyes and scrape care- lessly at the ?ddle which was thrown across his knee. Sometimes the chords were sonorous and melancholy. Occasionally they were fantastic and cheerful. Clearly they re?ected the thoughts which possessed him, but whether the music aided those thoughts, or whether the playing was simply the result of a whim or fancy was more than I could determine. I might have rebelled against these ex- asperating solos had it not been that he usually terminated them by playing in quick succession a whole series of my favourite airs as a slight com- pensation for the trial upon my patience. During the ?rst week or so we had no callers, and I had begun to think that my companion was as friendless a man as I was myself. Presently, however, I found that he had many acquaintances, and those in the most different classes of society. There was one little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fel- low who was introduced to me as Mr. Lestrade, and who came three or four times in a single week. One morning a young girl called, fashion- ably dressed, and stayed for half an hour or more. The same afternoon brought a grey-headed, seedy visitor, looking like a Jew pedlar, who appeared to me to be much excited, and who was closely followed by a slipshod elderly woman. On an- other occasion an old white-haired gentleman had an interview with my companion; and on another a railway porter in his velveteen uniform. When any of these nondescript individuals put in an ap- pearance, Sherlock Holmes used to beg for the use of the sitting-room, and I would retire to my bed- room. He always apologized to me for putting me to this inconvenience. “I have to use this room as a place of business,” he said, “and these people are my clients.” Again I had an opportunity of asking him a point blank question, and again my delicacy prevented me from forcing another man to con?de in me. I imagined at the time that he had some strong reason for not alluding to it, but he soon dispelled the idea by coming round to the subject of his own accord. It was upon the4th of March, as I have good reason to remember, that I rose somewhat earlier than usual, and found that Sherlock Holmes had not yet ?nished his breakfast. The landlady had become so accustomed to my late habits that my place had not been laid nor my coffee prepared. With the unreasonable petulance of mankind I rang the bell and gave a curt intimation that I was ready. Then I picked up a magazine from the ta- ble and attempted to while away the time with it, while my companion munched silently at his toast. One of the articles had a pencil mark at the head- ing, and I naturally began to run my eye through it. Its somewhat ambitious title was “The Book of Life,” and it attempted to show how much an ob- servant man might learn by an accurate and sys- tematic examination of all that came in his way. It struck me as being a remarkable mixture of shrewdness and of absurdity. The reasoning was close and intense, but the deductions appeared to me to be far-fetched and exaggerated. The writer claimed by a momentary expression, a twitch of a muscle or a glance of an eye, to fathom a man’s inmost thoughts. Deceit, according to him, was an impossibility in the case of one trained to observa- tion and analysis. His conclusions were as infalli- ble as so many propositions of Euclid. So startling would his results appear to the uninitiated that un- til they learned the processes by which he had ar- rived at them they might well consider him as a necromancer. “From a drop of water,” said the writer, “a lo- gician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a sin- gle link of it. Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest 12 A StudyInScarlet possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest dif?culties, let the enquirer be- gin by mastering more elementary problems. Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for. By a man’s ?nger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his fore?nger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt cuffs—by each of these things a man’s calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.” “What ineffable twaddle!” I cried, slapping the magazine down on the table, “I never read such rubbish in my life.” “What is it?” asked Sherlock Holmes. “Why, this article,” I said, pointing at it with my egg spoon as I sat down to my breakfast. “I see that you have read it since you have marked it. I don’t deny that it is smartly written. It irritates me though. It is evidently the theory of some arm- chair lounger who evolves all these neat little para- doxes in the seclusion of his own study. It is not practical. I should like to see him clapped down in a third class carriage on the Underground, and asked to give the trades of all his fellow-travellers. I would lay a thousand to one against him.” “You would lose your money,” Sherlock Holmes remarked calmly. “As for the article I wrote it myself.” “You!” “Yes, I have a turn both for observation and for deduction. The theories which I have expressed there, and which appear to you to be so chimerical are really extremely practical—so practical that I depend upon them for my bread and cheese.” “And how?” I asked involuntarily. “Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose I am the only one in the world. I’m a consult- ing detective, if you can understand what that is. Here in London we have lots of Government de- tectives and lots of private ones. When these fel- lows are at fault they come to me, and I manage to put them on the right scent. They lay all the ev- idence before me, and I am generally able, by the help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to set them straight. There is a strong family resem- blance about misdeeds, and if you have all the de- tails of a thousand at your ?nger ends, it is odd if you can’t unravel the thousand and ?rst. Lestrade is a well-known detective. He got himself into a fog recently over a forgery case, and that was what brought him here.” “And these other people?” “They are mostly sent on by private inquiry agencies. They are all people who are in trouble about something, and want a little enlightening. I listen to their story, they listen to my comments, and then I pocket my fee.” “But do you mean to say,” I said, “that with- out leaving your room you can unravel some knot which other men can make nothing of, although they have seen every detail for themselves?” “Quite so. I have a kind of intuition that way. Now and again a case turns up which is a little more complex. Then I have to bustle about and see things with my own eyes. You see I have a lot of special knowledge which I apply to the problem, and which facilitates matters wonderfully. Those rules of deduction laid down in that article which aroused your scorn, are invaluable to me in prac- tical work. Observation with me is second na- ture. You appeared to be surprised when I told you, on our ?rst meeting, that you had come from Afghanistan.” “You were told, no doubt.” “Nothing of the sort. Iknewyou came from Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind, that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of interme- diate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, ‘Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural man- ner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.’ The whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then re- marked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished.” “It is simple enough as you explain it,” I said, smiling. “You remind me of Edgar Allen Poe’s Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.” Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. “No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now, 13 A StudyInScarlet in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends’ thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour’s silence is really very showy and super?- cial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine.” “Have you read Gaboriau’s works?” I asked. “Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?” Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. “Lecoq was a miserable bungler,” he said, in an angry voice; “he had only one thing to recommend him, and that was his energy. That book made me pos- itively ill. The question was how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty- four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might be made a text-book for detectives to teach them what to avoid.” I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had admired treated in this cavalier style. I walked over to the window, and stood looking out into the busy street. “This fellow may be very clever,” I said to myself, “but he is certainly very conceited.” “There are no crimes and no criminals in these days,” he said, querulously. “What is the use of having brains in our profession? I know well that I have it in me to make my name famous. No man lives or has ever lived who has brought the same amount of study and of natural talent to the detection of crime which I have done. And what is the result? There is no crime to detect, or, at most, some bungling villany with a motive so transparent that even a Scotland Yard of?cial can see through it.” I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of conversation. I thought it best to change the topic. “I wonder what that fellow is looking for?” I asked, pointing to a stalwart, plainly-dressed in- dividual who was walking slowly down the other side of the street, looking anxiously at the num- bers. He had a large blue envelope in his hand, and was evidently the bearer of a message. “You mean the retired sergeant of Marines,” said Sherlock Holmes. “Brag and bounce!” thought I to myself. “He knows that I cannot verify his guess.” The thought had hardly passed through my mind when the man whom we were watching caught sight of the number on our door, and ran rapidly across the roadway. We heard a loud knock, a deep voice below, and heavy steps as- cending the stair. “For Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” he said, stepping into the room and handing my friend the letter. Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit out of him. He little thought of this when he made that random shot. “May I ask, my lad,” I said, in the blandest voice, “what your trade may be?” “Commissionaire, sir,” he said, gruf?y. “Uni- form away for repairs.” “And you were?” I asked, with a slightly mali- cious glance at my companion. “A sergeant, sir, Royal Marine Light Infantry, sir. No answer? Right, sir.” He clicked his heels together, raised his hand in a salute, and was gone.CHAPTER III.TheLauristonGardenMysteryIconfessthat I was considerably startled by this fresh proof of the practical nature of my companion’s theories. My respect for his powers of analysis increased wondrously. There still re- mained some lurking suspicion in my mind, how- ever, that the whole thing was a pre-arranged episode, intended to dazzle me, though what earthly object he could have in taking me in was past my comprehension. When I looked at him he had ?nished reading the note, and his eyes had assumed the vacant, lack-lustre expression which showed mental abstraction. “How in the world did you deduce that?” I asked. “Deduce what?” said he, petulantly. 14 A StudyInScarlet “Why, that he was a retired sergeant of Marines.” “I have no time for tri?es,” he answered, brusquely; then with a smile, “Excuse my rude- ness. You broke the thread of my thoughts; but perhaps it is as well. So you actually were not able to see that that man was a sergeant of Marines?” “No, indeed.” “It was easier to know it than to explain why I knew it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might ?nd some dif?culty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across the street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed on the back of the fellow’s hand. That smacked of the sea. He had a military carriage, however, and regulation side whiskers. There we have the marine. He was a man with some amount of self- importance and a certain air of command. You must have observed the way in which he held his head and swung his cane. A steady, respectable, middle-aged man, too, on the face of him—all facts which led me to believe that he had been a sergeant.” “Wonderful!” I ejaculated. “Commonplace,” said Holmes, though I thought from his expression that he was pleased at my evident surprise and admiration. “I said just now that there were no criminals. It appears that I am wrong—look at this!” He threw me over the note which the commissionaire had brought. “Why,” I cried, as I cast my eye over it, “this is terrible!” “It does seem to be a little out of the common,” he remarked, calmly. “Would you mind reading it to me aloud?” This is the letter which I read to him— “My dearMr. SherlockHolmes: “There has been a bad business dur- ing the night at3, Lauriston Gardens, off the Brixton Road. Our man on the beat saw a light there about two in the morning, and as the house was an empty one, suspected that something was amiss. He found the door open, and in the front room, which is bare of furniture, discovered the body of a gentleman, well dressed, and having cards in his pocket bearing the name of ‘Enoch J. Drebber, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.’ There had been no robbery, nor is there any evidence as to how the man met his death. There are marks of blood in the room, but there is no wound upon his person. We are at a loss as to how he came into the empty house; indeed, the whole affair is a puzzler. If you can come round to the house any time before twelve, you will ?nd me there. I have left everythingin statu quountil I hear from you. If you are unable to come I shall give you fuller details, and would esteem it a great kindness if you would favour me with your opinion. “Yours faithfully, “TobiasGregson.” “Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland Yarders,” my friend remarked; “he and Lestrade are the pick of a bad lot. They are both quick and energetic, but conventional—shockingly so. They have their knives into one another, too. They are as jealous as a pair of professional beauties. There will be some fun over this case if they are both put upon the scent.” I was amazed at the calm way in which he rip- pled on. “Surely there is not a moment to be lost,” I cried, “shall I go and order you a cab?” “I’m not sure about whether I shall go. I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather—that is, when the ?t is on me, for I can be spry enough at times.” “Why, it is just such a chance as you have been longing for.” “My dear fellow, what does it matter to me. Supposing I unravel the whole matter, you may be sure that Gregson, Lestrade, and Co. will pocket all the credit. That comes of being an unof?cial personage.” “But he begs you to help him.” “Yes. He knows that I am his superior, and ac- knowledges it to me; but he would cut his tongue out before he would own it to any third person. However, we may as well go and have a look. I shall work it out on my own hook. I may have a laugh at them if I have nothing else. Come on!” He hustled on his overcoat, and bustled about in a way that showed that an energetic ?t had su- perseded the apathetic one. “Get your hat,” he said. “You wish me to come?” “Yes, if you have nothing better to do.” A minute later we were both in a hansom, driving furiously for the Brixton Road. It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun- coloured veil hung over the house-tops, looking 15 A StudyInScarlet like the re?ection of the mud-coloured streets be- neath. My companion was in the best of spirits, and prattled away about Cremona ?ddles, and the difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati. As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather and the melancholy business upon which we were engaged, depressed my spirits. “You don’t seem to give much thought to the matter in hand,” I said at last, interrupting Holmes’ musical disquisition. “No data yet,” he answered. “It is a capital mis- take to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.” “You will have your data soon,” I remarked, pointing with my ?nger; “this is the Brixton Road, and that is the house, if I am not very much mis- taken.” “So it is. Stop, driver, stop!” We were still a hundred yards or so from it, but he insisted upon our alighting, and we ?nished our journey upon foot. Number3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill- omened and minatory look. It was one of four which stood back some little way from the street, two being occupied and two empty. The latter looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which were blank and dreary, save that here and there a “To Let” card had developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small gar- den sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly plants separated each of these houses from the street, and was traversed by a narrow path- way, yellowish in colour, and consisting apparently of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole place was very sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the night. The garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood rails upon the top, and against this wall was lean- ing a stalwart police constable, surrounded by a small knot of loafers, who craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within. I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have hurried into the house and plunged into a study of the mystery. Nothing appeared to be further from his intention. With an air of non- chalance which, under the circumstances, seemed to me to border upon affectation, he lounged up and down the pavement, and gazed vacantly at the ground, the sky, the opposite houses and the line of railings. Having ?nished his scrutiny, he pro- ceeded slowly down the path, or rather down the fringe of grass which ?anked the path, keeping his eyes riveted upon the ground. Twice he stopped, and once I saw him smile, and heard him utter an exclamation of satisfaction. There were many marks of footsteps upon the wet clayey soil, but since the police had been coming and going over it, I was unable to see how my companion could hope to learn anything from it. Still I had had such extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his per- ceptive faculties, that I had no doubt that he could see a great deal which was hidden from me. At the door of the house we were met by a tall, white-faced, ?axen-haired man, with a note- book in his hand, who rushed forward and wrung my companion’s hand with effusion. “It is indeed kind of you to come,” he said, “I have had every- thing left untouched.” “Except that!” my friend answered, pointing at the pathway. “If a herd of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess. No doubt, however, you had drawn your own conclusions, Gregson, before you permitted this.” “I have had so much to do inside the house,” the detective said evasively. “My colleague, Mr. Lestrade, is here. I had relied upon him to look after this.” Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows sardonically. “With two such men as yourself and Lestrade upon the ground, there will not be much for a third party to ?nd out,” he said. Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satis?ed way. “I think we have done all that can be done,” he answered; “it’s a queer case though, and I knew your taste for such things.” “You did not come here in a cab?” asked Sher- lock Holmes. “No, sir.” “Nor Lestrade?” “No, sir.” “Then let us go and look at the room.” With which inconsequent remark he strode on into the house, followed by Gregson, whose features ex- pressed his astonishment. A short passage, bare planked and dusty, led to the kitchen and of?ces. Two doors opened out of it to the left and to the right. One of these had obviously been closed for many weeks. The other belonged to the dining-room, which was the apart- ment in which the mysterious affair had occurred. Holmes walked in, and I followed him with that subdued feeling at my heart which the presence of death inspires. It was a large square room, looking all the larger from the absence of all furniture. A vul- gar ?aring paper adorned the walls, but it was blotched in places with mildew, and here and there 16 A StudyInScarlet great strips had become detached and hung down, exposing the yellow plaster beneath. Opposite the door was a showy ?replace, surmounted by a man- telpiece of imitation white marble. On one corner of this was stuck the stump of a red wax candle. The solitary window was so dirty that the light was hazy and uncertain, giving a dull grey tinge to everything, which was intensi?ed by the thick layer of dust which coated the whole apartment. All these details I observed afterwards. At present my attention was centred upon the sin- gle grim motionless ?gure which lay stretched upon the boards, with vacant sightless eyes star- ing up at the discoloured ceiling. It was that of a man about forty-three or forty-four years of age, middle-sized, broad shouldered, with crisp curl- ing black hair, and a short stubbly beard. He was dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat, with light-coloured trousers, and im- maculate collar and cuffs. A top hat, well brushed and trim, was placed upon the ?oor beside him. His hands were clenched and his arms thrown abroad, while his lower limbs were interlocked as though his death struggle had been a grievous one. On his rigid face there stood an expression of horror, and as it seemed to me, of hatred, such as I have never seen upon human features. This malignant and terrible contortion, combined with the low forehead, blunt nose, and prognathous jaw gave the dead man a singularly simious and ape-like appearance, which was increased by his writhing, unnatural posture. I have seen death in many forms, but never has it appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark grimy apartment, which looked out upon one of the main arteries of suburban London. Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was standing by the doorway, and greeted my compan- ion and myself. “This case will make a stir, sir,” he remarked. “It beats anything I have seen, and I am no chicken.” “There is no clue?” said Gregson. “None at all,” chimed in Lestrade. Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, kneeling down, examined it intently. “You are sure that there is no wound?” he asked, pointing to nu- merous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all round. “Positive!” cried both detectives. “Then, of course, this blood belongs to a sec- ond individual—presumably the murderer, if mur- der has been committed. It reminds me of the cir- cumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht, in the year ’34. Do you remember the case, Gregson?” “No, sir.” “Read it up—you really should. There is noth- ing new under the sun. It has all been done be- fore.” As he spoke, his nimble ?ngers were ?ying here, there, and everywhere, feeling, pressing, un- buttoning, examining, while his eyes wore the same far-away expression which I have already remarked upon. So swiftly was the examination made, that one would hardly have guessed the minuteness with which it was conducted. Finally, he sniffed the dead man’s lips, and then glanced at the soles of his patent leather boots. “He has not been moved at all?” he asked. “No more than was necessary for the purposes of our examination.” “You can take him to the mortuary now,” he said. “There is nothing more to be learned.” Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand. At his call they entered the room, and the stranger was lifted and carried out. As they raised him, a ring tinkled down and rolled across the ?oor. Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it with mys- ti?ed eyes. “There’s been a woman here,” he cried. “It’s a woman’s wedding-ring.” He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of his hand. We all gathered round him and gazed at it. There could be no doubt that that circlet of plain gold had once adorned the ?nger of a bride. “This complicates matters,” said Gregson. “Heaven knows, they were complicated enough before.” “You’re sure it doesn’t simplify them?” ob- served Holmes. “There’s nothing to be learned by staring at it. What did you ?nd in his pockets?” “We have it all here,” said Gregson, pointing to a litter of objects upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs. “A gold watch, No.97163, by Bar- raud, of London. Gold Albert chain, very heavy and solid. Gold ring, with masonic device. Gold pin—bull-dog’s head, with rubies as eyes. Russian leather card-case, with cards of Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland, corresponding with the E. J. D. upon the linen. No purse, but loose money to the extent of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket edition of Boccac- cio’s ‘Decameron,’ with name of Joseph Stanger- son upon the ?y-leaf. Two letters—one addressed to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson.” “At what address?” 17 A StudyInScarlet “American Exchange, Strand—to be left till called for. They are both from the Guion Steamship Company, and refer to the sailing of their boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this un- fortunate man was about to return to New York.” “Have you made any inquiries as to this man, Stangerson?” “I did it at once, sir,” said Gregson. “I have had advertisements sent to all the newspapers, and one of my men has gone to the American Exchange, but he has not returned yet.” “Have you sent to Cleveland?” “We telegraphed this morning.” “How did you word your inquiries?” “We simply detailed the circumstances, and said that we should be glad of any information which could help us.” “You did not ask for particulars on any point which appeared to you to be crucial?” “I asked about Stangerson.” “Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on which this whole case appears to hinge? Will you not telegraph again?” “I have said all I have to say,” said Gregson, in an offended voice. Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and ap- peared to be about to make some remark, when Lestrade, who had been in the front room while we were holding this conversation in the hall, reap- peared upon the scene, rubbing his hands in a pompous and self-satis?ed manner. “Mr. Gregson,” he said, “I have just made a dis- covery of the highest importance, and one which would have been overlooked had I not made a careful examination of the walls.” The little man’s eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was evidently in a state of suppressed exulta- tion at having scored a point against his colleague. “Come here,” he said, bustling back into the room, the atmosphere of which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly inmate. “Now, stand there!” He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall. “Look at that!” he said, triumphantly. I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In this particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled off, leaving a yellow square of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word— RACHE. “What do you think of that?” cried the detective, with the air of a showman exhibiting his show. “This was overlooked because it was in the darkest corner of the room, and no one thought of looking there. The murderer has written it with his or her own blood. See this smear where it has trickled down the wall! That disposes of the idea of sui- cide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write it on? I will tell you. See that candle on the man- telpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was lit this corner would be the brightest instead of the dark- est portion of the wall.” “And what does it mean now that youhavefound it?” asked Gregson in a depreciatory voice. “Mean? Why, it means that the writer was going to put the female name Rachel, but was disturbed before he or she had time to ?nish. You mark my words, when this case comes to be cleared up you will ?nd that a woman named Rachel has something to do with it. It’s all very well for you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. You may be very smart and clever, but the old hound is the best, when all is said and done.” “I really beg your pardon!” said my compan- ion, who had ruf?ed the little man’s temper by bursting into an explosion of laughter. “You cer- tainly have the credit of being the ?rst of us to ?nd this out, and, as you say, it bears every mark of having been written by the other participant in last night’s mystery. I have not had time to exam- ine this room yet, but with your permission I shall do so now.” As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round magnifying glass from his pocket. With these two implements he trotted noiselessly about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally kneeling, and once lying ?at upon his face. So engrossed was he with his occupation that he ap- peared to have forgotten our presence, for he chat- tered away to himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up a running ?re of exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of en- couragement and of hope. As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well- trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and for- wards through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent. For twenty minutes or more he continued his researches, mea- suring with the most exact care the distance be- tween marks which were entirely invisible to me, and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in an equally incomprehensible manner. In one place he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey 18 A StudyInScarlet dust from the ?oor, and packed it away in an enve- lope. Finally, he examined with his glass the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most minute exactness. This done, he appeared to be satis?ed, for he replaced his tape and his glass in his pocket. “They say that genius is an in?nite capacity for taking pains,” he remarked with a smile. “It’s a very bad de?nition, but it does apply to detective work.” Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manœuvres of their amateur companion with con- siderable curiosity and some contempt. They evi- dently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had be- gun to realize, that Sherlock Holmes’ smallest ac- tions were all directed towards some de?nite and practical end. “What do you think of it, sir?” they both asked. “It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I was to presume to help you,” remarked my friend. “You are doing so well now that it would be a pity for anyone to interfere.” There was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. “If you will let me know how your investigations go,” he continued, “I shall be happy to give you any help I can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the constable who found the body. Can you give me his name and address?” Lestrade glanced at his note-book. “John Rance,” he said. “He is off duty now. You will ?nd him at46, Audley Court, Kennington Park Gate.” Holmes took a note of the address. “Come along, Doctor,” he said; “we shall go and look him up. I’ll tell you one thing which may help you in the case,” he continued, turning to the two detectives. “There has been murder done, and the murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his off fore leg. In all probability the murderer had a ?orid face, and the ?nger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These are only a few indications, but they may assist you.” Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous smile. “If this man was murdered, how was it done?” asked the former. “Poison,” said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. “One other thing, Lestrade,” he added, turning round at the door: “ ‘Rache,’ is the Ger- man for ‘revenge;’ so don’t lose your time looking for Miss Rachel.” With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.CHAPTER IV.WhatJohnRanceHadToTellIt was one o’clockwhen we left No.3, Lau- riston Gardens. Sherlock Holmes led me to the nearest telegraph of?ce, whence he dispatched a long telegram. He then hailed a cab, and ordered the driver to take us to the address given us by Lestrade. “There is nothing like ?rst hand evidence,” he remarked; “as a matter of fact, my mind is entirely made up upon the case, but still we may as well learn all that is to be learned.” “You amaze me, Holmes,” said I. “Surely you are not as sure as you pretend to be of all those particulars which you gave.” “There’s no room for a mistake,” he answered. “The very ?rst thing which I observed on arriving there was that a cab had made two ruts with its wheels close to the curb. Now, up to last night, we have had no rain for a week, so that those wheels which left such a deep impression must have been there during the night. There were the marks of the horse’s hoofs, too, the outline of one of which was far more clearly cut than that of the other three, showing that that was a new shoe. Since the cab was there after the rain began, and was not there at any time during the morning—I have Gregson’s word for that—it follows that it must 19 A StudyInScarlet have been there during the night, and, therefore, that it brought those two individuals to the house.” “That seems simple enough,” said I; “but how about the other man’s height?” “Why, the height of a man, in nine cases out of ten, can be told from the length of his stride. It is a simple calculation enough, though there is no use my boring you with ?gures. I had this fel- low’s stride both on the clay outside and on the dust within. Then I had a way of checking my cal- culation. When a man writes on a wall, his instinct leads him to write about the level of his own eyes. Now that writing was just over six feet from the ground. It was child’s play.” “And his age?” I asked. “Well, if a man can stride four and a-half feet without the smallest effort, he can’t be quite in the sere and yellow. That was the breadth of a puddle on the garden walk which he had evi- dently walked across. Patent-leather boots had gone round, and Square-toes had hopped over. There is no mystery about it at all. I am simply applying to ordinary life a few of those precepts of observation and deduction which I advocated in that article. Is there anything else that puzzles you?” “The ?nger nails and the Trichinopoly,” I sug- gested. “The writing on the wall was done with a man’s fore?nger dipped in blood. My glass al- lowed me to observe that the plaster was slightly scratched in doing it, which would not have been the case if the man’s nail had been trimmed. I gathered up some scattered ash from the ?oor. It was dark in colour and ?akey—such an ash as is only made by a Trichinopoly. I have made a spe- cial study of cigar ashes—in fact, I have written a monograph upon the subject. I ?atter myself that I can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known brand, either of cigar or of tobacco. It is just in such details that the skilled detective differs from the Gregson and Lestrade type.” “And the ?orid face?” I asked. “Ah, that was a more daring shot, though I have no doubt that I was right. You must not ask me that at the present state of the affair.” I passed my hand over my brow. “My head is in a whirl,” I remarked; “the more one thinks of it the more mysterious it grows. How came these two men—if there were two men—into an empty house? What has become of the cabman who drove them? How could one man compel an- other to take poison? Where did the blood come from? What was the object of the murderer, since robbery had no part in it? How came the woman’s ring there? Above all, why should the second man write up the German word RACHE before decamping? I confess that I cannot see any possi- ble way of reconciling all these facts.” My companion smiled approvingly. “You sum up the dif?culties of the situation succinctly and well,” he said. “There is much that is still obscure, though I have quite made up my mind on the main facts. As to poor Lestrade’s dis- covery it was simply a blind intended to put the police upon a wrong track, by suggesting Social- ism and secret societies. It was not done by a Ger- man. The A, if you noticed, was printed somewhat after the German fashion. Now, a real German in- variably prints in the Latin character, so that we may safely say that this was not written by one, but by a clumsy imitator who overdid his part. It was simply a ruse to divert inquiry into a wrong chan- nel. I’m not going to tell you much more of the case, Doctor. You know a conjuror gets no credit when once he has explained his trick, and if I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all.” “I shall never do that,” I answered; “you have brought detection as near an exact science as it ever will be brought in this world.” My companion ?ushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sen- sitive to ?attery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty. “I’ll tell you one other thing,” he said. “Patent- leathers and Square-toes came in the same cab, and they walked down the pathway together as friendly as possible—arm-in-arm, in all probabil- ity. When they got inside they walked up and down the room—or rather, Patent-leathers stood still while Square-toes walked up and down. I could read all that in the dust; and I could read that as he walked he grew more and more ex- cited. That is shown by the increased length of his strides. He was talking all the while, and working himself up, no doubt, into a fury. Then the tragedy occurred. I’ve told you all I know myself now, for the rest is mere surmise and conjecture. We have a good working basis, however, on which to start. We must hurry up, for I want to go to Halle’s con- cert to hear Norman Neruda this afternoon.” This conversation had occurred while our cab had been threading its way through a long suc- cession of dingy streets and dreary by-ways. In 20 A StudyInScarlet the dingiest and dreariest of them our driver sud- denly came to a stand. “That’s Audley Court in there,” he said, pointing to a narrow slit in the line of dead-coloured brick. “You’ll ?nd me here when you come back.” Audley Court was not an attractive locality. The narrow passage led us into a quadrangle paved with ?ags and lined by sordid dwellings. We picked our way among groups of dirty chil- dren, and through lines of discoloured linen, until we came to Number46, the door of which was decorated with a small slip of brass on which the name Rance was engraved. On enquiry we found that the constable was in bed, and we were shown into a little front parlour to await his coming. He appeared presently, looking a little irritable at being disturbed in his slumbers. “I made my report at the of?ce,” he said. Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with it pensively. “We thought that we should like to hear it all from your own lips,” he said. “I shall be most happy to tell you anything I can,” the constable answered with his eyes upon the little golden disk. “Just let us hear it all in your own way as it occurred.” Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa, and knit- ted his brows as though determined not to omit anything in his narrative. “I’ll tell it ye from the beginning,” he said. “My time is from ten at night to six in the morn- ing. At eleven there was a ?ght at the ‘White Hart’; but bar that all was quiet enough on the beat. At one o’clock it began to rain, and I met Harry Murcher—him who has the Holland Grove beat—and we stood together at the corner of Hen- rietta Street a-talkin’. Presently—maybe about two or a little after—I thought I would take a look round and see that all was right down the Brix- ton Road. It was precious dirty and lonely. Not a soul did I meet all the way down, though a cab or two went past me. I was a strollin’ down, thinkin’ between ourselves how uncommon handy a four of gin hot would be, when suddenly the glint of a light caught my eye in the window of that same house. Now, I knew that them two houses in Lau- riston Gardens was empty on account of him that owns them who won’t have the drains seed to, though the very last tenant what lived in one of them died o’ typhoid fever. I was knocked all in a heap therefore at seeing a light in the window, and I suspected as something was wrong. When I got to the door—” “You stopped, and then walked back to the gar- den gate,” my companion interrupted. “What did you do that for?” Rance gave a violent jump, and stared at Sher- lock Holmes with the utmost amazement upon his features. “Why, that’s true, sir,” he said; “though how you come to know it, Heaven only knows. Ye see, when I got up to the door it was so still and so lonesome, that I thought I’d be none the worse for some one with me. I ain’t afeared of anything on this side o’ the grave; but I thought that maybe it was him that died o’ the typhoid inspecting the drains what killed him. The thought gave me a kind o’ turn, and I walked back to the gate to see if I could see Murcher’s lantern, but there wasn’t no sign of him nor of anyone else.” “There was no one in the street?” “Not a livin’ soul, sir, nor as much as a dog. Then I pulled myself together and went back and pushed the door open. All was quiet inside, so I went into the room where the light was a- burnin’. There was a candle ?ickerin’ on the man- telpiece—a red wax one—and by its light I saw—” “Yes, I know all that you saw. You walked round the room several times, and you knelt down by the body, and then you walked through and tried the kitchen door, and then—” John Rance sprang to his feet with a frightened face and suspicion in his eyes. “Where was you hid to see all that?” he cried. “It seems to me that you knows a deal more than you should.” Holmes laughed and threw his card across the table to the constable. “Don’t get arresting me for the murder,” he said. “I am one of the hounds and not the wolf; Mr. Gregson or Mr. Lestrade will an- swer for that. Go on, though. What did you do next?” Rance resumed his seat, without however los- ing his mysti?ed expression. “I went back to the gate and sounded my whistle. That brought Murcher and two more to the spot.” “Was the street empty then?” “Well, it was, as far as anybody that could be of any good goes.” “What do you mean?” The constable’s features broadened into a grin. “I’ve seen many a drunk chap in my time,” he said, “but never anyone so cryin’ drunk as that cove. He was at the gate when I came out, a-leanin’ up ag’in the railings, and a-singin’ at the pitch o’ his lungs about Columbine’s New-fangled Banner, or some such stuff. He couldn’t stand, far less help.” 21 A StudyInScarlet “What sort of a man was he?” asked Sherlock Holmes. John Rance appeared to be somewhat irritated at this digression. “He was an uncommon drunk sort o’ man,” he said. “He’d ha’ found hisself in the station if we hadn’t been so took up.” “His face—his dress—didn’t you notice them?” Holmes broke in impatiently. “I should think I did notice them, seeing that I had to prop him up—me and Murcher between us. He was a long chap, with a red face, the lower part muf?ed round—” “That will do,” cried Holmes. “What became of him?” “We’d enough to do without lookin’ after him,” the policeman said, in an aggrieved voice. “I’ll wa- ger he found his way home all right.” “How was he dressed?” “A brown overcoat.” “Had he a whip in his hand?” “A whip—no.” “He must have left it behind,” muttered my companion. “You didn’t happen to see or hear a cab after that?” “No.” “There’s a half-sovereign for you,” my compan- ion said, standing up and taking his hat. “I am afraid, Rance, that you will never rise in the force. That head of yours should be for use as well as ornament. You might have gained your sergeant’s stripes last night. The man whom you held in your hands is the man who holds the clue of this mys- tery, and whom we are seeking. There is no use of arguing about it now; I tell you that it is so. Come along, Doctor.” We started off for the cab together, leaving our informant incredulous, but obviously uncomfort- able. “The blundering fool,” Holmes said, bitterly, as we drove back to our lodgings. “Just to think of his having such an incomparable bit of good luck, and not taking advantage of it.” “I am rather in the dark still. It is true that the description of this man tallies with your idea of the second party in this mystery. But why should he come back to the house after leaving it? That is not the way of criminals.” “The ring, man, the ring: that was what he came back for. If we have no other way of catching him, we can always bait our line with the ring. I shall have him, Doctor—I’ll lay you two to one that I have him. I must thank you for it all. I might not have gone but for you, and so have missed the ?nest study I ever came across: a study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jar- gon. There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it. And now for lunch, and then for Norman Neruda. Her attack and her bowing are splendid. What’s that little thing of Chopin’s she plays so magni?cently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay.” Leaning back in the cab, this amateur blood- hound carolled away like a lark while I meditated upon the many-sidedness of the human mind.CHAPTER V.OurAdvertisementBringsA VisitorOur morning’s exertionshad been too much for my weak health, and I was tired out in the af- ternoon. After Holmes’ departure for the concert, I lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to get a couple of hours’ sleep. It was a useless attempt. My mind had been too much excited by all that had occurred, and the strangest fancies and sur- mises crowded into it. Every time that I closed my eyes I saw before me the distorted baboon- like countenance of the murdered man. So sinister was the impression which that face had produced upon me that I found it dif?cult to feel anything but gratitude for him who had removed its owner from the world. If ever human features bespoke vice of the most malignant type, they were cer- tainly those of Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland. Still 22 A StudyInScarlet I recognized that justice must be done, and that the depravity of the victim was no condonement in the eyes of the law. The more I thought of it the more extraordinary did my companion’s hypothesis, that the man had been poisoned, appear. I remembered how he had sniffed his lips, and had no doubt that he had de- tected something which had given rise to the idea. Then, again, if not poison, what had caused the man’s death, since there was neither wound nor marks of strangulation? But, on the other hand, whose blood was that which lay so thickly upon the ?oor? There were no signs of a struggle, nor had the victim any weapon with which he might have wounded an antagonist. As long as all these questions were unsolved, I felt that sleep would be no easy matter, either for Holmes or myself. His quiet self-con?dent manner convinced me that he had already formed a theory which explained all the facts, though what it was I could not for an instant conjecture. He was very late in returning—so late, that I knew that the concert could not have detained him all the time. Dinner was on the table before he ap- peared. “It was magni?cent,” he said, as he took his seat. “Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly in?uenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood.” “That’s rather a broad idea,” I remarked. “One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature,” he answered. “What’s the matter? You’re not looking quite yourself. This Brixton Road affair has upset you.” “To tell the truth, it has,” I said. “I ought to be more case-hardened after my Afghan experiences. I saw my own comrades hacked to pieces at Mai- wand without losing my nerve.” “I can understand. There is a mystery about this which stimulates the imagination; where there is no imagination there is no horror. Have you seen the evening paper?” “No.” “It gives a fairly good account of the affair. It does not mention the fact that when the man was raised up, a woman’s wedding ring fell upon the ?oor. It is just as well it does not.” “Why?” “Look at this advertisement,” he answered. “I had one sent to every paper this morning immedi- ately after the affair.” He threw the paper across to me and I glanced at the place indicated. It was the ?rst announce- ment in the “Found” column. “In Brixton Road, this morning,” it ran, “a plain gold wedding ring, found in the roadway between the ‘White Hart’ Tavern and Holland Grove. Apply Dr. Watson,221b, Baker Street, between eight and nine this evening.” “Excuse my using your name,” he said. “If I used my own some of these dunderheads would recognize it, and want to meddle in the affair.” “That is all right,” I answered. “But supposing anyone applies, I have no ring.” “Oh yes, you have,” said he, handing me one. “This will do very well. It is almost a facsimile.” “And who do you expect will answer this ad- vertisement.” “Why, the man in the brown coat—our ?orid friend with the square toes. If he does not come himself he will send an accomplice.” “Would he not consider it as too dangerous?” “Not at all. If my view of the case is correct, and I have every reason to believe that it is, this man would rather risk anything than lose the ring. According to my notion he dropped it while stoop- ing over Drebber’s body, and did not miss it at the time. After leaving the house he discovered his loss and hurried back, but found the police al- ready in possession, owing to his own folly in leav- ing the candle burning. He had to pretend to be drunk in order to allay the suspicions which might have been aroused by his appearance at the gate. Now put yourself in that man’s place. On think- ing the matter over, it must have occurred to him that it was possible that he had lost the ring in the road after leaving the house. What would he do, then? He would eagerly look out for the evening papers in the hope of seeing it among the arti- cles found. His eye, of course, would light upon this. He would be overjoyed. Why should he fear a trap? There would be no reason in his eyes why the ?nding of the ring should be connected with the murder. He would come. He will come. You shall see him within an hour.” “And then?” I asked. “Oh, you can leave me to deal with him then. Have you any arms?” “I have my old service revolver and a few car- tridges.” 23 A StudyInScarlet “You had better clean it and load it. He will be a desperate man, and though I shall take him unawares, it is as well to be ready for anything.” I went to my bedroom and followed his advice. When I returned with the pistol the table had been cleared, and Holmes was engaged in his favourite occupation of scraping upon his violin. “The plot thickens,” he said, as I entered; “I have just had an answer to my American telegram. My view of the case is the correct one.” “And that is?” I asked eagerly. “My ?ddle would be the better for new strings,” he remarked. “Put your pistol in your pocket. When the fellow comes speak to him in an ordinary way. Leave the rest to me. Don’t frighten him by looking at him too hard.” “It is eight o’clock now,” I said, glancing at my watch. “Yes. He will probably be here in a few min- utes. Open the door slightly. That will do. Now put the key on the inside. Thank you! This is a queer old book I picked up at a stall yesterday—De Jure inter Gentes—published in Latin at Liege in the Lowlands, in1642. Charles’ head was still ?rm on his shoulders when this little brown-backed vol- ume was struck off.” “Who is the printer?” “Philippe de Croy, whoever he may have been. On the ?y-leaf, in very faded ink, is written ‘Ex libris Guliolmi Whyte.’ I wonder who William Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth cen- tury lawyer, I suppose. His writing has a legal twist about it. Here comes our man, I think.” As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell. Sherlock Holmes rose softly and moved his chair in the direction of the door. We heard the servant pass along the hall, and the sharp click of the latch as she opened it. “Does Dr. Watson live here?” asked a clear but rather harsh voice. We could not hear the servant’s reply, but the door closed, and some one began to ascend the stairs. The footfall was an uncertain and shuf?ing one. A look of surprise passed over the face of my companion as he listened to it. It came slowly along the passage, and there was a feeble tap at the door. “Come in,” I cried. At my summons, instead of the man of vio- lence whom we expected, a very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and after dropping a curtsey, she stood blinking at us with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket with nervous, shaky ?ngers. I glanced at my com- panion, and his face had assumed such a discon- solate expression that it was all I could do to keep my countenance. The old crone drew out an evening paper, and pointed at our advertisement. “It’s this as has brought me, good gentlemen,” she said, dropping another curtsey; “a gold wedding ring in the Brix- ton Road. It belongs to my girl Sally, as was mar- ried only this time twelvemonth, which her hus- band is steward aboard a Union boat, and what he’d say if he comes ’ome and found her without her ring is more than I can think, he being short enough at the best o’ times, but more especially when he has the drink. If it please you, she went to the circus last night along with—” “Is that her ring?” I asked. “The Lord be thanked!” cried the old woman; “Sally will be a glad woman this night. That’s the ring.” “And what may your address be?” I inquired, taking up a pencil. “13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch. A weary way from here.” “The Brixton Road does not lie between any circus and Houndsditch,” said Sherlock Holmes sharply. The old woman faced round and looked keenly at him from her little red-rimmed eyes. “The gen- tleman asked me formyaddress,” she said. “Sally lives in lodgings at3, May?eld Place, Peckham.” “And your name is—?” “My name is Sawyer—her’s is Dennis, which Tom Dennis married her—and a smart, clean lad, too, as long as he’s at sea, and no steward in the company more thought of; but when on shore, what with the women and what with liquor shops—” “Here is your ring, Mrs. Sawyer,” I interrupted, in obedience to a sign from my companion; “it clearly belongs to your daughter, and I am glad to be able to restore it to the rightful owner.” With many mumbled blessings and protesta- tions of gratitude the old crone packed it away in her pocket, and shuf?ed off down the stairs. Sher- lock Holmes sprang to his feet the moment that she was gone and rushed into his room. He re- turned in a few seconds enveloped in an ulster and a cravat. “I’ll follow her,” he said, hurriedly; “she must be an accomplice, and will lead me to him. Wait up for me.” The hall door had hardly 24 A StudyInScarlet slammed behind our visitor before Holmes had descended the stair. Looking through the window I could see her walking feebly along the other side, while her pursuer dogged her some little distance behind. “Either his whole theory is incorrect,” I thought to myself, “or else he will be led now to the heart of the mystery.” There was no need for him to ask me to wait up for him, for I felt that sleep was impossible until I heard the result of his adventure. It was close upon nine when he set out. I had no idea how long he might be, but I sat stolidly puf?ng at my pipe and skipping over the pages of Henri Murger’sVie de Boh ` eme.Ten o’clock passed, and I heard the footsteps of the maid as they pat- tered off to bed. Eleven, and the more stately tread of the landlady passed my door, bound for the same destination. It was close upon twelve before I heard the sharp sound of his latch-key. The instant he entered I saw by his face that he had not been successful. Amusement and chagrin seemed to be struggling for the mastery, until the former sud- denly carried the day, and he burst into a hearty laugh. “I wouldn’t have the Scotland Yarders know it for the world,” he cried, dropping into his chair; “I have chaffed them so much that they would never have let me hear the end of it. I can afford to laugh, because I know that I will be even with them in the long run.” “What is it then?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t mind telling a story against my- self. That creature had gone a little way when she began to limp and show every sign of being foot- sore. Presently she came to a halt, and hailed a four-wheeler which was passing. I managed to be close to her so as to hear the address, but I need not have been so anxious, for she sang it out loud enough to be heard at the other side of the street, ‘Drive to13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch,’ she cried. This begins to look genuine, I thought, and having seen her safely inside, I perched myself behind. That’s an art which every detective should be an expert at. Well, away we rattled, and never drew rein until we reached the street in question. I hopped off before we came to the door, and strolled down the street in an easy, lounging way. I saw the cab pull up. The driver jumped down, and I saw him open the door and stand expectantly. Nothing came out though. When I reached him he was groping about frantically in the empty cab, and giving vent to the ?nest assorted collection of oaths that ever I listened to. There was no sign or trace of his passenger, and I fear it will be some time before he gets his fare. On inquiring at Num- ber13we found that the house belonged to a re- spectable paperhanger, named Keswick, and that no one of the name either of Sawyer or Dennis had ever been heard of there.” “You don’t mean to say,” I cried, in amazement, “that that tottering, feeble old woman was able to get out of the cab while it was in motion, without either you or the driver seeing her?” “Old woman be damned!” said Sherlock Holmes, sharply. “We were the old women to be so taken in. It must have been a young man, and an active one, too, besides being an incomparable actor. The get-up was inimitable. He saw that he was followed, no doubt, and used this means of giving me the slip. It shows that the man we are after is not as lonely as I imagined he was, but has friends who are ready to risk something for him. Now, Doctor, you are looking done-up. Take my advice and turn in.” I was certainly feeling very weary, so I obeyed his injunction. I left Holmes seated in front of the smouldering ?re, and long into the watches of the night I heard the low, melancholy wailings of his violin, and knew that he was still pondering over the strange problem which he had set himself to unravel. 25 A StudyInScarlet CHAPTER VI.TobiasGregsonShowsWhatHeCanDoThe papers next daywere full of the “Brixton Mystery,” as they termed it. Each had a long ac- count of the affair, and some had leaders upon it in addition. There was some information in them which was new to me. I still retain in my scrap-book numerous clippings and extracts bear- ing upon the case. Here is a condensation of a few of them:— TheDaily Telegraphremarked that in the history of crime there had seldom been a tragedy which presented stranger features. The German name of the victim, the absence of all other motive, and the sinister inscription on the wall, all pointed to its perpetration by political refugees and revolution- ists. The Socialists had many branches in America, and the deceased had, no doubt, infringed their unwritten laws, and been tracked down by them. After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht, aqua to- fana, Carbonari, the Marchioness de Brinvilliers, the Darwinian theory, the principles of Malthus, and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the article con- cluded by admonishing the Government and ad- vocating a closer watch over foreigners in England. TheStandardcommented upon the fact that lawless outrages of the sort usually occurred un- der a Liberal Administration. They arose from the unsettling of the minds of the masses, and the con- sequent weakening of all authority. The deceased was an American gentleman who had been resid- ing for some weeks in the Metropolis. He had stayed at the boarding-house of Madame Charp- entier, in Torquay Terrace, Camberwell. He was accompanied in his travels by his private secre- tary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The two bade adieu to their landlady upon Tuesday, the4th inst., and de- parted to Euston Station with the avowed intention of catching the Liverpool express. They were after- wards seen together upon the platform. Nothing more is known of them until Mr. Drebber’s body was, as recorded, discovered in an empty house in the Brixton Road, many miles from Euston. How he came there, or how he met his fate, are ques- tions which are still involved in mystery. Nothing is known of the whereabouts of Stangerson. We are glad to learn that Mr. Lestrade and Mr. Greg- son, of Scotland Yard, are both engaged upon the case, and it is con?dently anticipated that these well-known of?cers will speedily throw light upon the matter. TheDaily Newsobserved that there was no doubt as to the crime being a political one. The despotism and hatred of Liberalism which ani- mated the Continental Governments had had the effect of driving to our shores a number of men who might have made excellent citizens were they not soured by the recollection of all that they had undergone. Among these men there was a strin- gent code of honour, any infringement of which was punished by death. Every effort should be made to ?nd the secretary, Stangerson, and to as- certain some particulars of the habits of the de- ceased. A great step had been gained by the dis- covery of the address of the house at which he had boarded—a result which was entirely due to the acuteness and energy of Mr. Gregson of Scotland Yard. Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over together at breakfast, and they appeared to afford him considerable amusement. “I told you that, whatever happened, Lestrade and Gregson would be sure to score.” “That depends on how it turns out.” “Oh, bless you, it doesn’t matter in the least. If the man is caught, it will beon accountof their ex- ertions; if he escapes, it will bein spiteof their exer- tions. It’s heads I win and tails you lose. Whatever they do, they will have followers.‘Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.’ ”“What on earth is this?” I cried, for at this mo- ment there came the pattering of many steps in the hall and on the stairs, accompanied by audible ex- pressions of disgust upon the part of our landlady. “It’s the Baker Street division of the detective police force,” said my companion, gravely; and as he spoke there rushed into the room half a dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs that ever I clapped eyes on. “’Tention!” cried Holmes, in a sharp tone, and the six dirty little scoundrels stood in a line like so many disreputable statuettes. “In future you shall send up Wiggins alone to report, and the rest of you must wait in the street. Have you found it, Wiggins?” “No, sir, we hain’t,” said one of the youths. “I hardly expected you would. You must keep on until you do. Here are your wages.” He handed each of them a shilling. “Now, off you go, and come back with a better report next time.” He waved his hand, and they scampered away downstairs like so many rats, and we heard their shrill voices next moment in the street. 26 A StudyInScarlet “There’s more work to be got out of one of those little beggars than out of a dozen of the force,” Holmes remarked. “The mere sight of an of?cial-looking person seals men’s lips. These youngsters, however, go everywhere and hear ev- erything. They are as sharp as needles, too; all they want is organisation.” “Is it on this Brixton case that you are employ- ing them?” I asked. “Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain. It is merely a matter of time. Hullo! we are going to hear some news now with a vengeance! Here is Gregson coming down the road with beatitude written upon every feature of his face. Bound for us, I know. Yes, he is stopping. There he is!” There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a few seconds the fair-haired detective came up the stairs, three steps at a time, and burst into our sitting-room. “My dear fellow,” he cried, wringing Holmes’ unresponsive hand, “congratulate me! I have made the whole thing as clear as day.” A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my companion’s expressive face. “Do you mean that you are on the right track?” he asked. “The right track! Why, sir, we have the man under lock and key.” “And his name is?” “Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her Majesty’s navy,” cried Gregson, pompously, rub- bing his fat hands and in?ating his chest. Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief, and re- laxed into a smile. “Take a seat, and try one of these cigars,” he said. “We are anxious to know how you managed it. Will you have some whiskey and water?” “I don’t mind if I do,” the detective answered. “The tremendous exertions which I have gone through during the last day or two have worn me out. Not so much bodily exertion, you understand, as the strain upon the mind. You will appreciate that, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for we are both brain- workers.” “You do me too much honour,” said Holmes, gravely. “Let us hear how you arrived at this most gratifying result.” The detective seated himself in the arm-chair, and puffed complacently at his cigar. Then sud- denly he slapped his thigh in a paroxysm of amusement. “The fun of it is,” he cried, “that that fool Lestrade, who thinks himself so smart, has gone off upon the wrong track altogether. He is after the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do with the crime than the babe unborn. I have no doubt that he has caught him by this time.” The idea tickled Gregson so much that he laughed until he choked. “And how did you get your clue?” “Ah, I’ll tell you all about it. Of course, Doctor Watson, this is strictly between ourselves. The ?rst dif?culty which we had to contend with was the ?nding of this American’s antecedents. Some peo- ple would have waited until their advertisements were answered, or until parties came forward and volunteered information. That is not Tobias Greg- son’s way of going to work. You remember the hat beside the dead man?” “Yes,” said Holmes; “by John Underwood and Sons,129, Camberwell Road.” Gregson looked quite crest-fallen. “I had no idea that you noticed that,” he said. “Have you been there?” “No.” “Ha!” cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; “you should never neglect a chance, however small it may seem.” “To a great mind, nothing is little,” remarked Holmes, sententiously. “Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him if he had sold a hat of that size and description. He looked over his books, and came on it at once. He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber, residing at Charpentier’s Boarding Establishment, Torquay Terrace. Thus I got at his address.” “Smart—very smart!” murmured Sherlock Holmes. “I next called upon Madame Charpentier,” con- tinued the detective. “I found her very pale and distressed. Her daughter was in the room, too—an uncommonly ?ne girl she is, too; she was look- ing red about the eyes and her lips trembled as I spoke to her. That didn’t escape my notice. I began to smell a rat. You know the feeling, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, when you come upon the right scent—a kind of thrill in your nerves. ‘Have you heard of the mysterious death of your late boarder Mr. Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland?’ I asked. “The mother nodded. She didn’t seem able to get out a word. The daughter burst into tears. I felt more than ever that these people knew something of the matter. “ ‘At what o’clock did Mr. Drebber leave your house for the train?’ I asked. 27 A StudyInScarlet “ ‘At eight o’clock,’ she said, gulping in her throat to keep down her agitation. ‘His secre- tary, Mr. Stangerson, said that there were two trains—one at9.15and one at11. He was to catch the ?rst.’ “ ‘And was that the last which you saw of him?’ “A terrible change came over the woman’s face as I asked the question. Her features turned per- fectly livid. It was some seconds before she could get out the single word ‘Yes’—and when it did come it was in a husky unnatural tone. “There was silence for a moment, and then the daughter spoke in a calm clear voice. “ ‘No good can ever come of falsehood, mother,’ she said. ‘Let us be frank with this gen- tleman. Wedidsee Mr. Drebber again.’ “ ‘God forgive you!’ cried Madame Charpen- tier, throwing up her hands and sinking back in her chair. ‘You have murdered your brother.’ “ ‘Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,’ the girl answered ?rmly. “ ‘You had best tell me all about it now,’ I said. ‘Half-con?dences are worse than none. Besides, you do not know how much we know of it.’ “ ‘On your head be it, Alice!’ cried her mother; and then, turning to me, ‘I will tell you all, sir. Do not imagine that my agitation on behalf of my son arises from any fear lest he should have had a hand in this terrible affair. He is utterly innocent of it. My dread is, however, that in your eyes and in the eyes of others he may appear to be compromised. That however is surely impossible. His high char- acter, his profession, his antecedents would all for- bid it.’ “ ‘Your best way is to make a clean breast of the facts,’ I answered. ‘Depend upon it, if your son is innocent he will be none the worse.’ “ ‘Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us to- gether,’ she said, and her daughter withdrew. ‘Now, sir,’ she continued, ‘I had no intention of telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has disclosed it I have no alternative. Having once de- cided to speak, I will tell you all without omitting any particular.’ “ ‘It is your wisest course,’ said I. “ ‘Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three weeks. He and his secretary, Mr. Stangerson, had been travelling on the Continent. I noticed a “Copenhagen” label upon each of their trunks, showing that that had been their last stopping place. Stangerson was a quiet reserved man, but his employer, I am sorry to say, was far other- wise. He was coarse in his habits and brutish in his ways. The very night of his arrival he became very much the worse for drink, and, indeed, af- ter twelve o’clock in the day he could hardly ever be said to be sober. His manners towards the maid-servants were disgustingly free and familiar. Worst of all, he speedily assumed the same atti- tude towards my daughter, Alice, and spoke to her more than once in a way which, fortunately, she is too innocent to understand. On one occasion he actually seized her in his arms and embraced her—an outrage which caused his own secretary to reproach him for his unmanly conduct.’ “ ‘But why did you stand all this,’ I asked. ‘I suppose that you can get rid of your boarders when you wish.’ “Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent question. ‘Would to God that I had given him no- tice on the very day that he came,’ she said. ‘But it was a sore temptation. They were paying a pound a day each—fourteen pounds a week, and this is the slack season. I am a widow, and my boy in the Navy has cost me much. I grudged to lose the money. I acted for the best. This last was too much, however, and I gave him notice to leave on account of it. That was the reason of his going.’ “ ‘Well?’ “ ‘My heart grew light when I saw him drive away. My son is on leave just now, but I did not tell him anything of all this, for his temper is violent, and he is passionately fond of his sister. When I closed the door behind them a load seemed to be lifted from my mind. Alas, in less than an hour there was a ring at the bell, and I learned that Mr. Drebber had returned. He was much ex- cited, and evidently the worse for drink. He forced his way into the room, where I was sitting with my daughter, and made some incoherent remark about having missed his train. He then turned to Alice, and before my very face, proposed to her that she should ?y with him. “You are of age,” he said, “and there is no law to stop you. I have money enough and to spare. Never mind the old girl here, but come along with me now straight away. You shall live like a princess.” Poor Alice was so frightened that she shrunk away from him, but he caught her by the wrist and endeavoured to draw her towards the door. I screamed, and at that moment my son Arthur came into the room. What happened then I do not know. I heard oaths and the confused sounds of a scuf?e. I was too terri?ed to raise my head. When I did look up I saw Arthur standing in the doorway laughing, 28 A StudyInScarlet with a stick in his hand. “I don’t think that ?ne fellow will trouble us again,” he said. “I will just go after him and see what he does with himself.” With those words he took his hat and started off down the street. The next morning we heard of Mr. Drebber’s mysterious death.’ “This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier’s lips with many gasps and pauses. At times she spoke so low that I could hardly catch the words. I made shorthand notes of all that she said, however, so that there should be no possibility of a mistake.” “It’s quite exciting,” said Sherlock Holmes, with a yawn. “What happened next?” “When Mrs. Charpentier paused,” the detec- tive continued, “I saw that the whole case hung upon one point. Fixing her with my eye in a way which I always found effective with women, I asked her at what hour her son returned. “ ‘I do not know,’ she answered. “ ‘Not know?’ “ ‘No; he has a latch-key, and he let himself in.’ “ ‘After you went to bed?’ “ ‘Yes.’ “ ‘When did you go to bed?’ “ ‘About eleven.’ “ ‘So your son was gone at least two hours?’ “ ‘Yes.’ “ ‘Possibly four or ?ve?’ “ ‘Yes.’ “ ‘What was he doing during that time?’ “ ‘I do not know,’ she answered, turning white to her very lips. “Of course after that there was nothing more to be done. I found out where Lieutenant Charpen- tier was, took two of?cers with me, and arrested him. When I touched him on the shoulder and warned him to come quietly with us, he answered us as bold as brass, ‘I suppose you are arresting me for being concerned in the death of that scoundrel Drebber,’ he said. We had said nothing to him about it, so that his alluding to it had a most sus- picious aspect.” “Very,” said Holmes. “He still carried the heavy stick which the mother described him as having with him when he followed Drebber. It was a stout oak cudgel.” “What is your theory, then?” “Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as far as the Brixton Road. When there, a fresh alter- cation arose between them, in the course of which Drebber received a blow from the stick, in the pit of the stomach, perhaps, which killed him without leaving any mark. The night was so wet that no one was about, so Charpentier dragged the body of his victim into the empty house. As to the can- dle, and the blood, and the writing on the wall, and the ring, they may all be so many tricks to throw the police on to the wrong scent.” “Well done!” said Holmes in an encouraging voice. “Really, Gregson, you are getting along. We shall make something of you yet.” “I ?atter myself that I have managed it rather neatly,” the detective answered proudly. “The young man volunteered a statement, in which he said that after following Drebber some time, the latter perceived him, and took a cab in order to get away from him. On his way home he met an old shipmate, and took a long walk with him. On be- ing asked where this old shipmate lived, he was unable to give any satisfactory reply. I think the whole case ?ts together uncommonly well. What amuses me is to think of Lestrade, who had started off upon the wrong scent. I am afraid he won’t make much of—Why, by Jove, here’s the very man himself!” It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the stairs while we were talking, and who now entered the room. The assurance and jauntiness which generally marked his demeanour and dress were, however, wanting. His face was disturbed and troubled, while his clothes were disarranged and untidy. He had evidently come with the inten- tion of consulting with Sherlock Holmes, for on perceiving his colleague he appeared to be embar- rassed and put out. He stood in the centre of the room, fumbling nervously with his hat and uncer- tain what to do. “This is a most extraordinary case,” he said at last—“a most incomprehensible affair.” “Ah, you ?nd it so, Mr. Lestrade!” cried Greg- son, triumphantly. “I thought you would come to that conclusion. Have you managed to ?nd the Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?” “The Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson,” said Lestrade gravely, “was murdered at Halliday’s Pri- vate Hotel about six o’clock this morning.” 29 A StudyInScarlet CHAPTER VII.LightInTheDarknessThe intelligencewith which Lestrade greeted us was so momentous and so unexpected, that we were all three fairly dumfoundered. Gregson sprang out of his chair and upset the remainder of his whiskey and water. I stared in silence at Sher- lock Holmes, whose lips were compressed and his brows drawn down over his eyes. “Stangerson too!” he muttered. “The plot thickens.” “It was quite thick enough before,” grumbled Lestrade, taking a chair. “I seem to have dropped into a sort of council of war.” “Are you—are you sure of this piece of intelli- gence?” stammered Gregson. “I have just come from his room,” said Lestrade. “I was the ?rst to discover what had occurred.” “We have been hearing Gregson’s view of the matter,” Holmes observed. “Would you mind let- ting us know what you have seen and done?” “I have no objection,” Lestrade answered, seat- ing himself. “I freely confess that I was of the opin- ion that Stangerson was concerned in the death of Drebber. This fresh development has shown me that I was completely mistaken. Full of the one idea, I set myself to ?nd out what had become of the Secretary. They had been seen together at Eu- ston Station about half-past eight on the evening of the third. At two in the morning Drebber had been found in the Brixton Road. The question which confronted me was to ?nd out how Stangerson had been employed between8.30and the time of the crime, and what had become of him afterwards. I telegraphed to Liverpool, giving a description of the man, and warning them to keep a watch upon the American boats. I then set to work call- ing upon all the hotels and lodging-houses in the vicinity of Euston. You see, I argued that if Dreb- ber and his companion had become separated, the natural course for the latter would be to put up somewhere in the vicinity for the night, and then to hang about the station again next morning.” “They would be likely to agree on some meeting-place beforehand,” remarked Holmes. “So it proved. I spent the whole of yester- day evening in making enquiries entirely without avail. This morning I began very early, and at eight o’clock I reached Halliday’s Private Hotel, in Little George Street. On my enquiry as to whether a Mr. Stangerson was living there, they at once answered me in the af?rmative. “ ‘No doubt you are the gentleman whom he was expecting,’ they said. ‘He has been waiting for a gentleman for two days.’ “ ‘Where is he now?’ I asked. “ ‘He is upstairs in bed. He wished to be called at nine.’ “ ‘I will go up and see him at once,’ I said. “It seemed to me that my sudden appearance might shake his nerves and lead him to say some- thing unguarded. The Boots volunteered to show me the room: it was on the second ?oor, and there was a small corridor leading up to it. The Boots pointed out the door to me, and was about to go downstairs again when I saw something that made me feel sickish, in spite of my twenty years’ experi- ence. From under the door there curled a little red ribbon of blood, which had meandered across the passage and formed a little pool along the skirt- ing at the other side. I gave a cry, which brought the Boots back. He nearly fainted when he saw it. The door was locked on the inside, but we put our shoulders to it, and knocked it in. The window of the room was open, and beside the window, all huddled up, lay the body of a man in his night- dress. He was quite dead, and had been for some time, for his limbs were rigid and cold. When we turned him over, the Boots recognized him at once as being the same gentleman who had engaged the room under the name of Joseph Stangerson. The cause of death was a deep stab in the left side, which must have penetrated the heart. And now comes the strangest part of the affair. What do you suppose was above the murdered man?” I felt a creeping of the ?esh, and a presentiment of coming horror, even before Sherlock Holmes an- swered. “The word RACHE, written in letters of blood,” he said. “That was it,” said Lestrade, in an awe-struck voice; and we were all silent for a while. There was something so methodical and so in- comprehensible about the deeds of this unknown assassin, that it imparted a fresh ghastliness to his crimes. My nerves, which were steady enough on the ?eld of battle tingled as I thought of it. “The man was seen,” continued Lestrade. “A milk boy, passing on his way to the dairy, hap- pened to walk down the lane which leads from 30 A StudyInScarlet the mews at the back of the hotel. He noticed that a ladder, which usually lay there, was raised against one of the windows of the second ?oor, which was wide open. After passing, he looked back and saw a man descend the ladder. He came down so quietly and openly that the boy imagined him to be some carpenter or joiner at work in the hotel. He took no particular notice of him, beyond thinking in his own mind that it was early for him to be at work. He has an impression that the man was tall, had a reddish face, and was dressed in a long, brownish coat. He must have stayed in the room some little time after the murder, for we found blood-stained water in the basin, where he had washed his hands, and marks on the sheets where he had deliberately wiped his knife.” I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description of the murderer, which tallied so exactly with his own. There was, however, no trace of exultation or satisfaction upon his face. “Did you ?nd nothing in the room which could furnish a clue to the murderer?” he asked. “Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber’s purse in his pocket, but it seems that this was usual, as he did all the paying. There was eighty odd pounds in it, but nothing had been taken. Whatever the motives of these extraordinary crimes, robbery is certainly not one of them. There were no papers or memoranda in the murdered man’s pocket, ex- cept a single telegram, dated from Cleveland about a month ago, and containing the words, ‘J. H. is in Europe.’ There was no name appended to this message.” “And there was nothing else?” Holmes asked. “Nothing of any importance. The man’s novel, with which he had read himself to sleep was lying upon the bed, and his pipe was on a chair beside him. There was a glass of water on the table, and on the window-sill a small chip ointment box con- taining a couple of pills.” Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an exclamation of delight. “The last link,” he cried, exultantly. “My case is complete.” The two detectives stared at him in amazement. “I have now in my hands,” my companion said, con?dently, “all the threads which have formed such a tangle. There are, of course, details to be ?lled in, but I am as certain of all the main facts, from the time that Drebber parted from Stanger- son at the station, up to the discovery of the body of the latter, as if I had seen them with my own eyes. I will give you a proof of my knowledge. Could you lay your hand upon those pills?” “I have them,” said Lestrade, producing a small white box; “I took them and the purse and the telegram, intending to have them put in a place of safety at the Police Station. It was the merest chance my taking these pills, for I am bound to say that I do not attach any importance to them.” “Give them here,” said Holmes. “Now, Doc- tor,” turning to me, “are those ordinary pills?” They certainly were not. They were of a pearly grey colour, small, round, and almost transparent against the light. “From their lightness and trans- parency, I should imagine that they are soluble in water,” I remarked. “Precisely so,” answered Holmes. “Now would you mind going down and fetching that poor little devil of a terrier which has been bad so long, and which the landlady wanted you to put out of its pain yesterday.” I went downstairs and carried the dog upstair in my arms. It’s laboured breathing and glazing eye showed that it was not far from its end. In- deed, its snow-white muzzle proclaimed that it had already exceeded the usual term of canine ex- istence. I placed it upon a cushion on the rug. “I will now cut one of these pills in two,” said Holmes, and drawing his penknife he suited the action to the word. “One half we return into the box for future purposes. The other half I will place in this wine glass, in which is a teaspoonful of wa- ter. You perceive that our friend, the Doctor, is right, and that it readily dissolves.” “This may be very interesting,” said Lestrade, in the injured tone of one who suspects that he is being laughed at, “I cannot see, however, what it has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph Stanger- son.” “Patience, my friend, patience! You will ?nd in time that it has everything to do with it. I shall now add a little milk to make the mixture palat- able, and on presenting it to the dog we ?nd that he laps it up readily enough.” As he spoke he turned the contents of the wine glass into a saucer and placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock Holmes’ earnest demeanour had so far convinced us that we all sat in silence, watching the ani- mal intently, and expecting some startling effect. None such appeared, however. The dog contin- ued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in a laboured way, but apparently neither the better nor the worse for its draught. 31 A StudyInScarlet Holmes had taken out his watch, and as minute followed minute without result, an expression of the utmost chagrin and disappointment appeared upon his features. He gnawed his lip, drummed his ?ngers upon the table, and showed every other symptom of acute impatience. So great was his emotion, that I felt sincerely sorry for him, while the two detectives smiled derisively, by no means displeased at this check which he had met. “It can’t be a coincidence,” he cried, at last springing from his chair and pacing wildly up and down the room; “it is impossible that it should be a mere coincidence. The very pills which I sus- pected in the case of Drebber are actually found after the death of Stangerson. And yet they are inert. What can it mean? Surely my whole chain of reasoning cannot have been false. It is impossi- ble! And yet this wretched dog is none the worse. Ah, I have it! I have it!” With a perfect shriek of de- light he rushed to the box, cut the other pill in two, dissolved it, added milk, and presented it to the terrier. The unfortunate creature’s tongue seemed hardly to have been moistened in it before it gave a convulsive shiver in every limb, and lay as rigid and lifeless as if it had been struck by lightning. Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath, and wiped the perspiration from his forehead. “I should have more faith,” he said; “I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears to be op- posed to a long train of deductions, it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other inter- pretation. Of the two pills in that box one was of the most deadly poison, and the other was entirely harmless. I ought to have known that before ever I saw the box at all.” This last statement appeared to me to be so startling, that I could hardly believe that he was in his sober senses. There was the dead dog, how- ever, to prove that his conjecture had been correct. It seemed to me that the mists in my own mind were gradually clearing away, and I began to have a dim, vague perception of the truth. “All this seems strange to you,” continued Holmes, “because you failed at the beginning of the inquiry to grasp the importance of the single real clue which was presented to you. I had the good fortune to seize upon that, and everything which has occurred since then has served to con- ?rm my original supposition, and, indeed, was the logical sequence of it. Hence things which have perplexed you and made the case more obscure, have served to enlighten me and to strengthen my conclusions. It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery. The most common- place crime is often the most mysterious because it presents no new or special features from which deductions may be drawn. This murder would have been in?nitely more dif?cult to unravel had the body of the victim been simply found lying in the roadway without any of thoseoutr´ eand sensa- tional accompaniments which have rendered it re- markable. These strange details, far from making the case more dif?cult, have really had the effect of making it less so.” Mr. Gregson, who had listened to this address with considerable impatience, could contain him- self no longer. “Look here, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” he said, “we are all ready to acknowledge that you are a smart man, and that you have your own methods of working. We want something more than mere theory and preaching now, though. It is a case of taking the man. I have made my case out, and it seems I was wrong. Young Charpentier could not have been engaged in this second affair. Lestrade went after his man, Stangerson, and it ap- pears that he was wrong too. You have thrown out hints here, and hints there, and seem to know more than we do, but the time has come when we feel that we have a right to ask you straight how much you do know of the business. Can you name the man who did it?” “I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right, sir,” remarked Lestrade. “We have both tried, and we have both failed. You have remarked more than once since I have been in the room that you had all the evidence which you require. Surely you will not withhold it any longer.” “Any delay in arresting the assassin,” I ob- served, “might give him time to perpetrate some fresh atrocity.” Thus pressed by us all, Holmes showed signs of irresolution. He continued to walk up and down the room with his head sunk on his chest and his brows drawn down, as was his habit when lost in thought. “There will be no more murders,” he said at last, stopping abruptly and facing us. “You can put that consideration out of the question. You have asked me if I know the name of the assas- sin. I do. The mere knowing of his name is a small thing, however, compared with the power of laying our hands upon him. This I expect very shortly to do. I have good hopes of managing it through my own arrangements; but it is a thing which needs delicate handling, for we have a shrewd and des- perate man to deal with, who is supported, as I have had occasion to prove, by another who is as 32 A StudyInScarlet clever as himself. As long as this man has no idea that anyone can have a clue there is some chance of securing him; but if he had the slightest suspi- cion, he would change his name, and vanish in an instant among the four million inhabitants of this great city. Without meaning to hurt either of your feelings, I am bound to say that I consider these men to be more than a match for the of?cial force, and that is why I have not asked your assistance. If I fail I shall, of course, incur all the blame due to this omission; but that I am prepared for. At present I am ready to promise that the instant that I can communicate with you without endangering my own combinations, I shall do so.” Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from satis?ed by this assurance, or by the depreciating allusion to the detective police. The former had ?ushed up to the roots of his ?axen hair, while the other’s beady eyes glistened with curiosity and re- sentment. Neither of them had time to speak, how- ever, before there was a tap at the door, and the spokesman of the street Arabs, young Wiggins, in- troduced his insigni?cant and unsavoury person. “Please, sir,” he said, touching his forelock, “I have the cab downstairs.” “Good boy,” said Holmes, blandly. “Why don’t you introduce this pattern at Scotland Yard?” he continued, taking a pair of steel handcuffs from a drawer. “See how beautifully the spring works. They fasten in an instant.” “The old pattern is good enough,” remarked Lestrade, “if we can only ?nd the man to put them on.” “Very good, very good,” said Holmes, smiling. “The cabman may as well help me with my boxes. Just ask him to step up, Wiggins.” I was surprised to ?nd my companion speak- ing as though he were about to set out on a jour- ney, since he had not said anything to me about it. There was a small portmanteau in the room, and this he pulled out and began to strap. He was busily engaged at it when the cabman entered the room. “Just give me a help with this buckle, cabman,” he said, kneeling over his task, and never turning his head. The fellow came forward with a somewhat sullen, de?ant air, and put down his hands to as- sist. At that instant there was a sharp click, the jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet again. “Gentlemen,” he cried, with ?ashing eyes, “let me introduce you to Mr. Jefferson Hope, the mur- derer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph Stangerson.” The whole thing occurred in a moment—so quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes’ triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the cabman’s dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second or two we might have been a group of statues. Then, with an inarticulate roar of fury, the pris- oner wrenched himself free from Holmes’s grasp, and hurled himself through the window. Wood- work and glass gave way before him; but before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back into the room, and then com- menced a terri?c con?ict. So powerful and so ?erce was he, that the four of us were shaken off again and again. He appeared to have the con- vulsive strength of a man in an epileptic ?t. His face and hands were terribly mangled by his pas- sage through the glass, but loss of blood had no ef- fect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and even then we felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to our feet breathless and panting. “We have his cab,” said Sherlock Holmes. “It will serve to take him to Scotland Yard. And now, gentlemen,” he continued, with a pleasant smile, “we have reached the end of our little mystery. You are very welcome to put any questions that you like to me now, and there is no danger that I will refuse to answer them.” 33 PART II.The Country of the Saints. A StudyInScarlet CHAPTER I.OnTheGreatAlkaliPlainIn the central portionof the great North American Continent there lies an arid and repul- sive desert, which for many a long year served as a barrier against the advance of civilisation. From the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from the Yellowstone River in the north to the Colorado upon the south, is a region of desolation and si- lence. Nor is Nature always in one mood through- out this grim district. It comprises snow-capped and lofty mountains, and dark and gloomy val- leys. There are swift-?owing rivers which dash through jagged ca ˜ nons; and there are enormous plains, which in winter are white with snow, and in summer are grey with the saline alkali dust. They all preserve, however, the common charac- teristics of barrenness, inhospitality, and misery. There are no inhabitants of this land of despair. A band of Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasion- ally traverse it in order to reach other hunting- grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad to lose sight of those awesome plains, and to ?nd themselves once more upon their prairies. The coyote skulks among the scrub, the buzzard ?aps heavily through the air, and the clumsy grizzly bear lumbers through the dark ravines, and picks up such sustenance as it can amongst the rocks. These are the sole dwellers in the wilderness. In the whole world there can be no more dreary view than that from the northern slope of the Sierra Blanco. As far as the eye can reach stretches the great ?at plain-land, all dusted over with patches of alkali, and intersected by clumps of the dwar?sh chaparral bushes. On the extreme verge of the horizon lie a long chain of mountain peaks, with their rugged summits ?ecked with snow. In this great stretch of country there is no sign of life, nor of anything appertaining to life. There is no bird in the steel-blue heaven, no movement upon the dull, grey earth—above all, there is absolute si- lence. Listen as one may, there is no shadow of a sound in all that mighty wilderness; nothing but silence—complete and heart-subduing silence. It has been said there is nothing appertaining to life upon the broad plain. That is hardly true. Looking down from the Sierra Blanco, one sees a pathway traced out across the desert, which winds away and is lost in the extreme distance. It is rut- ted with wheels and trodden down by the feet of many adventurers. Here and there there are scat- tered white objects which glisten in the sun, and stand out against the dull deposit of alkali. Ap- proach, and examine them! They are bones: some large and coarse, others smaller and more delicate. The former have belonged to oxen, and the latter to men. For ?fteen hundred miles one may trace this ghastly caravan route by these scattered remains of those who had fallen by the wayside. Looking down on this very scene, there stood upon the fourth of May, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, a solitary traveller. His appearance was such that he might have been the very genius or demon of the region. An observer would have found it dif?cult to say whether he was nearer to forty or to sixty. His face was lean and haggard, and the brown parchment-like skin was drawn tightly over the projecting bones; his long, brown hair and beard were all ?ecked and dashed with white; his eyes were sunken in his head, and burned with an unnatural lustre; while the hand which grasped his ri?e was hardly more ?eshy than that of a skeleton. As he stood, he leaned upon his weapon for support, and yet his tall ?g- ure and the massive framework of his bones sug- gested a wiry and vigorous constitution. His gaunt face, however, and his clothes, which hung so bag- gily over his shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it was that gave him that senile and decrepit appear- ance. The man was dying—dying from hunger and from thirst. He had toiled painfully down the ravine, and on to this little elevation, in the vain hope of see- ing some signs of water. Now the great salt plain stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt of savage mountains, without a sign anywhere of plant or tree, which might indicate the presence of moisture. In all that broad landscape there was no gleam of hope. North, and east, and west he looked with wild questioning eyes, and then he realised that his wanderings had come to an end, and that there, on that barren crag, he was about to die. “Why not here, as well as in a feather bed, twenty years hence,” he muttered, as he seated himself in the shelter of a boulder. Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the ground his useless ri?e, and also a large bundle tied up in a grey shawl, which he had carried slung over his right shoulder. It appeared to be some- what too heavy for his strength, for in lowering it, it came down on the ground with some little vio- lence. Instantly there broke from the grey parcel a little moaning cry, and from it there protruded 37 A StudyInScarlet a small, scared face, with very bright brown eyes, and two little speckled, dimpled ?sts. “You’ve hurt me!” said a childish voice re- proachfully. “Have I though,” the man answered penitently, “I didn’t go for to do it.” As he spoke he un- wrapped the grey shawl and extricated a pretty little girl of about ?ve years of age, whose dainty shoes and smart pink frock with its little linen apron all bespoke a mother’s care. The child was pale and wan, but her healthy arms and legs showed that she had suffered less than her com- panion. “How is it now?” he answered anxiously, for she was still rubbing the towsy golden curls which covered the back of her head. “Kiss it and make it well,” she said, with perfect gravity, shoving the injured part up to him. “That’s what mother used to do. Where’s mother?” “Mother’s gone. I guess you’ll see her before long.” “Gone, eh!” said the little girl. “Funny, she didn’t say good-bye; she ’most always did if she was just goin’ over to Auntie’s for tea, and now she’s been away three days. Say, it’s awful dry, ain’t it? Ain’t there no water, nor nothing to eat?” “No, there ain’t nothing, dearie. You’ll just need to be patient awhile, and then you’ll be all right. Put your head up agin me like that, and then you’ll feel bullier. It ain’t easy to talk when your lips is like leather, but I guess I’d best let you know how the cards lie. What’s that you’ve got?” “Pretty things! ?ne things!” cried the little girl enthusiastically, holding up two glittering frag- ments of mica. “When we goes back to home I’ll give them to brother Bob.” “You’ll see prettier things than them soon,” said the man con?dently. “You just wait a bit. I was going to tell you though—you remember when we left the river?” “Oh, yes.” “Well, we reckoned we’d strike another river soon, d’ye see. But there was somethin’ wrong; compasses, or map, or somethin’, and it didn’t turn up. Water ran out. Just except a little drop for the likes of you and—and—” “And you couldn’t wash yourself,” interrupted his companion gravely, staring up at his grimy vis- age. “No, nor drink. And Mr. Bender, he was the fust to go, and then Indian Pete, and then Mrs. Mc- Gregor, and then Johnny Hones, and then, dearie, your mother.” “Then mother’s a deader too,” cried the little girl dropping her face in her pinafore and sobbing bitterly. “Yes, they all went except you and me. Then I thought there was some chance of water in this direction, so I heaved you over my shoulder and we tramped it together. It don’t seem as though we’ve improved matters. There’s an almighty small chance for us now!” “Do you mean that we are going to die too?” asked the child, checking her sobs, and raising her tear-stained face. “I guess that’s about the size of it.” “Why didn’t you say so before?” she said, laughing gleefully. “You gave me such a fright. Why, of course, now as long as we die we’ll be with mother again.” “Yes, you will, dearie.” “And you too. I’ll tell her how awful good you’ve been. I’ll bet she meets us at the door of Heaven with a big pitcher of water, and a lot of buckwheat cakes, hot, and toasted on both sides, like Bob and me was fond of. How long will it be ?rst?” “I don’t know—not very long.” The man’s eyes were ?xed upon the northern horizon. In the blue vault of the heaven there had appeared three lit- tle specks which increased in size every moment, so rapidly did they approach. They speedily re- solved themselves into three large brown birds, which circled over the heads of the two wander- ers, and then settled upon some rocks which over- looked them. They were buzzards, the vultures of the west, whose coming is the forerunner of death. “Cocks and hens,” cried the little girl gleefully, pointing at their ill-omened forms, and clapping her hands to make them rise. “Say, did God make this country?” “Of course He did,” said her companion, rather startled by this unexpected question. “He made the country down in Illinois, and He made the Missouri,” the little girl continued. “I guess somebody else made the country in these parts. It’s not nearly so well done. They forgot the water and the trees.” “What would ye think of offering up prayer?” the man asked dif?dently. “It ain’t night yet,” she answered. 38 A StudyInScarlet “It don’t matter. It ain’t quite regular, but He won’t mind that, you bet. You say over them ones that you used to say every night in the waggon when we was on the Plains.” “Why don’t you say some yourself?” the child asked, with wondering eyes. “I disremember them,” he answered. “I hain’t said none since I was half the height o’ that gun. I guess it’s never too late. You say them out, and I’ll stand by and come in on the choruses.” “Then you’ll need to kneel down, and me too,” she said, laying the shawl out for that purpose. “You’ve got to put your hands up like this. It makes you feel kind o’ good.” It was a strange sight had there been anything but the buzzards to see it. Side by side on the narrow shawl knelt the two wanderers, the little prattling child and the reckless, hardened adven- turer. Her chubby face, and his haggard, angu- lar visage were both turned up to the cloudless heaven in heartfelt entreaty to that dread being with whom they were face to face, while the two voices—the one thin and clear, the other deep and harsh—united in the entreaty for mercy and for- giveness. The prayer ?nished, they resumed their seat in the shadow of the boulder until the child fell asleep, nestling upon the broad breast of her protector. He watched over her slumber for some time, but Nature proved to be too strong for him. For three days and three nights he had allowed himself neither rest nor repose. Slowly the eyelids drooped over the tired eyes, and the head sunk lower and lower upon the breast, until the man’s grizzled beard was mixed with the gold tresses of his companion, and both slept the same deep and dreamless slumber. Had the wanderer remained awake for another half hour a strange sight would have met his eyes. Far away on the extreme verge of the alkali plain there rose up a little spray of dust, very slight at ?rst, and hardly to be distinguished from the mists of the distance, but gradually growing higher and broader until it formed a solid, well-de?ned cloud. This cloud continued to increase in size until it became evident that it could only be raised by a great multitude of moving creatures. In more fertile spots the observer would have come to the conclusion that one of those great herds of bisons which graze upon the prairie land was approach- ing him. This was obviously impossible in these arid wilds. As the whirl of dust drew nearer to the solitary bluff upon which the two castaways were reposing, the canvas-covered tilts of waggons and the ?gures of armed horsemen began to show up through the haze, and the apparition revealed it- self as being a great caravan upon its journey for the West. But what a caravan! When the head of it had reached the base of the mountains, the rear was not yet visible on the horizon. Right across the enormous plain stretched the straggling array, waggons and carts, men on horseback, and men on foot. Innumerable women who staggered along under burdens, and children who toddled beside the waggons or peeped out from under the white coverings. This was evidently no ordinary party of immigrants, but rather some nomad peo- ple who had been compelled from stress of circum- stances to seek themselves a new country. There rose through the clear air a confused clattering and rumbling from this great mass of humanity, with the creaking of wheels and the neighing of horses. Loud as it was, it was not suf?cient to rouse the two tired wayfarers above them. At the head of the column there rode a score or more of grave ironfaced men, clad in sombre homespun garments and armed with ri?es. On reaching the base of the bluff they halted, and held a short council among themselves. “The wells are to the right, my brothers,” said one, a hard-lipped, clean-shaven man with grizzly hair. “To the right of the Sierra Blanco—so we shall reach the Rio Grande,” said another. “Fear not for water,” cried a third. “He who could draw it from the rocks will not now aban- don His own chosen people.” “Amen! Amen!” responded the whole party. They were about to resume their journey when one of the youngest and keenest-eyed uttered an exclamation and pointed up at the rugged crag above them. From its summit there ?uttered a little wisp of pink, showing up hard and bright against the grey rocks behind. At the sight there was a general reining up of horses and unslinging of guns, while fresh horsemen came galloping up to reinforce the vanguard. The word “Redskins” was on every lip. “There can’t be any number of Injuns here,” said the elderly man who appeared to be in com- mand. “We have passed the Pawnees, and there are no other tribes until we cross the great moun- tains.” “Shall I go forward and see, Brother Stanger- son,” asked one of the band. “And I,” “and I,” cried a dozen voices. “Leave your horses below and we will await you here,” the Elder answered. In a moment 39 A StudyInScarlet the young fellows had dismounted, fastened their horses, and were ascending the precipitous slope which led up to the object which had excited their curiosity. They advanced rapidly and noise- lessly, with the con?dence and dexterity of prac- tised scouts. The watchers from the plain below could see them ?it from rock to rock until their ?gures stood out against the skyline. The young man who had ?rst given the alarm was leading them. Suddenly his followers saw him throw up his hands, as though overcome with astonishment, and on joining him they were affected in the same way by the sight which met their eyes. On the little plateau which crowned the barren hill there stood a single giant boulder, and against this boulder there lay a tall man, long-bearded and hard-featured, but of an excessive thinness. His placid face and regular breathing showed that he was fast asleep. Beside him lay a little child, with her round white arms encircling his brown sinewy neck, and her golden haired head resting upon the breast of his velveteen tunic. Her rosy lips were parted, showing the regular line of snow- white teeth within, and a playful smile played over her infantile features. Her plump little white legs terminating in white socks and neat shoes with shining buckles, offered a strange contrast to the long shrivelled members of her companion. On the ledge of rock above this strange couple there stood three solemn buzzards, who, at the sight of the new comers uttered raucous screams of disap- pointment and ?apped sullenly away. The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleep- ers who stared about them in bewilderment. The man staggered to his feet and looked down upon the plain which had been so desolate when sleep had overtaken him, and which was now traversed by this enormous body of men and of beasts. His face assumed an expression of incredulity as he gazed, and he passed his boney hand over his eyes. “This is what they call delirium, I guess,” he mut- tered. The child stood beside him, holding on to the skirt of his coat, and said nothing but looked all round her with the wondering questioning gaze of childhood. The rescuing party were speedily able to con- vince the two castaways that their appearance was no delusion. One of them seized the little girl, and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him towards the waggons. “My name is John Ferrier,” the wanderer ex- plained; “me and that little un are all that’s left o’ twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o’ thirst and hunger away down in the south.” “Is she your child?” asked someone. “I guess she is now,” the other cried, de?antly; “she’s mine ’cause I saved her. No man will take her from me. She’s Lucy Ferrier from this day on. Who are you, though?” he continued, glancing with curiosity at his stalwart, sunburned rescuers; “there seems to be a powerful lot of ye.” “Nigh upon ten thousand,” said one of the young men; “we are the persecuted children of God—the chosen of the Angel Merona.” “I never heard tell on him,” said the wanderer. “He appears to have chosen a fair crowd of ye.” “Do not jest at that which is sacred,” said the other sternly. “We are of those who believe in those sacred writings, drawn in Egyptian letters on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto the holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra. We have come from Nauvoo, in the State of Illinois, where we had founded our temple. We have come to seek a refuge from the violent man and from the god- less, even though it be the heart of the desert.” The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recol- lections to John Ferrier. “I see,” he said, “you are the Mormons.” “We are the Mormons,” answered his compan- ions with one voice. “And where are you going?” “We do not know. The hand of God is lead- ing us under the person of our Prophet. You must come before him. He shall say what is to be done with you.” They had reached the base of the hill by this time, and were surrounded by crowds of the pilgrims—pale-faced meek-looking women, strong laughing children, and anxious earnest- eyed men. Many were the cries of astonishment and of commiseration which arose from them when they perceived the youth of one of the strangers and the destitution of the other. Their es- cort did not halt, however, but pushed on, followed by a great crowd of Mormons, until they reached a waggon, which was conspicuous for its great size and for the gaudiness and smartness of its appear- ance. Six horses were yoked to it, whereas the others were furnished with two, or, at most, four a-piece. Beside the driver there sat a man who could not have been more than thirty years of age, but whose massive head and resolute expression marked him as a leader. He was reading a brown- backed volume, but as the crowd approached he laid it aside, and listened attentively to an account 40 A StudyInScarlet of the episode. Then he turned to the two cast- aways. “If we take you with us,” he said, in solemn words, “it can only be as believers in our own creed. We shall have no wolves in our fold. Better far that your bones should bleach in this wilder- ness than that you should prove to be that little speck of decay which in time corrupts the whole fruit. Will you come with us on these terms?” “Guess I’ll come with you on any terms,” said Ferrier, with such emphasis that the grave Elders could not restrain a smile. The leader alone re- tained his stern, impressive expression. “Take him, Brother Stangerson,” he said, “give him food and drink, and the child likewise. Let it be your task also to teach him our holy creed. We have delayed long enough. Forward! On, on to Zion!” “On, on to Zion!” cried the crowd of Mormons, and the words rippled down the long caravan, passing from mouth to mouth until they died away in a dull murmur in the far distance. With a crack- ing of whips and a creaking of wheels the great waggons got into motion, and soon the whole car- avan was winding along once more. The Elder to whose care the two waifs had been committed, led them to his waggon, where a meal was already awaiting them. “You shall remain here,” he said. “In a few days you will have recovered from your fatigues. In the meantime, remember that now and forever you are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it, and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith, which is the voice of God.”CHAPTER II.TheFlowerOfUtahThis is not the placeto commemorate the trials and privations endured by the immigrant Mormons before they came to their ?nal haven. From the shores of the Mississippi to the west- ern slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had strug- gled on with a constancy almost unparalleled in history. The savage man, and the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease—every imped- iment which Nature could place in the way—had all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity. Yet the long journey and the accumulated terrors had shaken the hearts of the stoutest among them. There was not one who did not sink upon his knees in heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad valley of Utah bathed in the sunlight beneath them, and learned from the lips of their leader that this was the promised land, and that these virgin acres were to be theirs for evermore. Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful administrator as well as a resolute chief. Maps were drawn and charts prepared, in which the future city was sketched out. All around farms were apportioned and allotted in proportion to the standing of each individual. The tradesman was put to his trade and the artisan to his calling. In the town streets and squares sprang up, as if by magic. In the country there was draining and hedging, planting and clearing, until the next sum- mer saw the whole country golden with the wheat crop. Everything prospered in the strange settle- ment. Above all, the great temple which they had erected in the centre of the city grew ever taller and larger. From the ?rst blush of dawn until the closing of the twilight, the clatter of the hammer and the rasp of the saw was never absent from the monument which the immigrants erected to Him who had led them safe through many dangers. The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little girl who had shared his fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter, accompanied the Mor- mons to the end of their great pilgrimage. Little Lucy Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough in Elder Stangerson’s waggon, a retreat which she shared with the Mormon’s three wives and with his son, a headstrong forward boy of twelve. Hav- ing rallied, with the elasticity of childhood, from the shock caused by her mother’s death, she soon became a pet with the women, and reconciled her- self to this new life in her moving canvas-covered home. In the meantime Ferrier having recovered 41 A StudyInScarlet from his privations, distinguished himself as a use- ful guide and an indefatigable hunter. So rapidly did he gain the esteem of his new companions, that when they reached the end of their wander- ings, it was unanimously agreed that he should be provided with as large and as fertile a tract of land as any of the settlers, with the exception of Young himself, and of Stangerson, Kemball, John- ston, and Drebber, who were the four principal El- ders. On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a substantial log-house, which received so many additions in succeeding years that it grew into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practi- cal turn of mind, keen in his dealings and skil- ful with his hands. His iron constitution enabled him to work morning and evening at improving and tilling his lands. Hence it came about that his farm and all that belonged to him prospered ex- ceedingly. In three years he was better off than his neighbours, in six he was well-to-do, in nine he was rich, and in twelve there were not half a dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City who could compare with him. From the great inland sea to the distant Wahsatch Mountains there was no name better known than that of John Ferrier. There was one way and only one in which he offended the susceptibilities of his co-religionists. No argument or persuasion could ever induce him to set up a female establishment after the manner of his companions. He never gave reasons for this persistent refusal, but contented himself by res- olutely and in?exibly adhering to his determina- tion. There were some who accused him of luke- warmness in his adopted religion, and others who put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to incur expense. Others, again, spoke of some early love affair, and of a fair-haired girl who had pined away on the shores of the Atlantic. Whatever the reason, Ferrier remained strictly celibate. In every other respect he conformed to the religion of the young settlement, and gained the name of being an orthodox and straight-walking man. Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and assisted her adopted father in all his undertakings. The keen air of the mountains and the balsamic odour of the pine trees took the place of nurse and mother to the young girl. As year succeeded to year she grew taller and stronger, her cheek more rudy, and her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer upon the high road which ran by Ferrier’s farm felt long-forgotten thoughts revive in their mind as they watched her lithe girlish ?gure tripping through the wheat?elds, or met her mounted upon her father’s mustang, and managing it with all the ease and grace of a true child of the West. So the bud blossomed into a ?ower, and the year which saw her father the richest of the farmers left her as fair a specimen of American girlhood as could be found in the whole Paci?c slope. It was not the father, however, who ?rst discov- ered that the child had developed into the woman. It seldom is in such cases. That mysterious change is too subtle and too gradual to be measured by dates. Least of all does the maiden herself know it until the tone of a voice or the touch of a hand sets her heart thrilling within her, and she learns, with a mixture of pride and of fear, that a new and a larger nature has awoken within her. There are few who cannot recall that day and remember the one little incident which heralded the dawn of a new life. In the case of Lucy Ferrier the occasion was serious enough in itself, apart from its future in?uence on her destiny and that of many besides. It was a warm June morning, and the Latter Day Saints were as busy as the bees whose hive they have chosen for their emblem. In the ?elds and in the streets rose the same hum of human in- dustry. Down the dusty high roads de?led long streams of heavily-laden mules, all heading to the west, for the gold fever had broken out in Cal- ifornia, and the Overland Route lay through the City of the Elect. There, too, were droves of sheep and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture lands, and trains of tired immigrants, men and horses equally weary of their interminable jour- ney. Through all this motley assemblage, thread- ing her way with the skill of an accomplished rider, there galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair face ?ushed with the exercise and her long chestnut hair ?oat- ing out behind her. She had a commission from her father in the City, and was dashing in as she had done many a time before, with all the fearless- ness of youth, thinking only of her task and how it was to be performed. The travel-stained adven- turers gazed after her in astonishment, and even the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their pelties, relaxed their accustomed stoicism as they marvelled at the beauty of the pale-faced maiden. She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the road blocked by a great drove of cat- tle, driven by a half-dozen wild-looking herdsmen from the plains. In her impatience she endeav- oured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse into what appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had she got fairly into it, however, before the beasts closed in behind her, and she found herself com- pletely imbedded in the moving stream of ?erce- eyed, long-horned bullocks. Accustomed as she 42 A StudyInScarlet was to deal with cattle, she was not alarmed at her situation, but took advantage of every oppor- tunity to urge her horse on in the hopes of push- ing her way through the cavalcade. Unfortunately the horns of one of the creatures, either by acci- dent or design, came in violent contact with the ?ank of the mustang, and excited it to madness. In an instant it reared up upon its hind legs with a snort of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way that would have unseated any but a most skilful rider. The situation was full of peril. Every plunge of the excited horse brought it against the horns again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all that the girl could do to keep herself in the sad- dle, yet a slip would mean a terrible death under the hoofs of the unwieldy and terri?ed animals. Unaccustomed to sudden emergencies, her head began to swim, and her grip upon the bridle to relax. Choked by the rising cloud of dust and by the steam from the struggling creatures, she might have abandoned her efforts in despair, but for a kindly voice at her elbow which assured her of assistance. At the same moment a sinewy brown hand caught the frightened horse by the curb, and forcing a way through the drove, soon brought her to the outskirts. “You’re not hurt, I hope, miss,” said her pre- server, respectfully. She looked up at his dark, ?erce face, and laughed saucily. “I’m awful frightened,” she said, naively; “whoever would have thought that Pon- cho would have been so scared by a lot of cows?” “Thank God you kept your seat,” the other said earnestly. He was a tall, savage-looking young fel- low, mounted on a powerful roan horse, and clad in the rough dress of a hunter, with a long ri?e slung over his shoulders. “I guess you are the daughter of John Ferrier,” he remarked, “I saw you ride down from his house. When you see him, ask him if he remembers the Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis. If he’s the same Ferrier, my father and he were pretty thick.” “Hadn’t you better come and ask yourself?” she asked, demurely. The young fellow seemed pleased at the sug- gestion, and his dark eyes sparkled with pleasure. “I’ll do so,” he said, “we’ve been in the mountains for two months, and are not over and above in vis- iting condition. He must take us as he ?nds us.” “He has a good deal to thank you for, and so have I,” she answered, “he’s awful fond of me. If those cows had jumped on me he’d have never got over it.” “Neither would I,” said her companion. “You! Well, I don’t see that it would make much matter to you, anyhow. You ain’t even a friend of ours.” The young hunter’s dark face grew so gloomy over this remark that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud. “There, I didn’t mean that,” she said; “of course, you are a friend now. You must come and see us. Now I must push along, or father won’t trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!” “Good-bye,” he answered, raising his broad sombrero, and bending over her little hand. She wheeled her mustang round, gave it a cut with her riding-whip, and darted away down the broad road in a rolling cloud of dust. Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his com- panions, gloomy and taciturn. He and they had been among the Nevada Mountains prospecting for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City in the hope of raising capital enough to work some lodes which they had discovered. He had been as keen as any of them upon the business un- til this sudden incident had drawn his thoughts into another channel. The sight of the fair young girl, as frank and wholesome as the Sierra breezes, had stirred his volcanic, untamed heart to its very depths. When she had vanished from his sight, he realized that a crisis had come in his life, and that neither silver speculations nor any other ques- tions could ever be of such importance to him as this new and all-absorbing one. The love which had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden, changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the wild, ?erce passion of a man of strong will and impe- rious temper. He had been accustomed to succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart that he would not fail in this if human effort and human perseverance could render him successful. He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again, until his face was a familiar one at the farm-house. John, cooped up in the valley, and absorbed in his work, had had little chance of learning the news of the outside world dur- ing the last twelve years. All this Jefferson Hope was able to tell him, and in a style which inter- ested Lucy as well as her father. He had been a pioneer in California, and could narrate many a strange tale of fortunes made and fortunes lost in those wild, halcyon days. He had been a scout too, and a trapper, a silver explorer, and a ranchman. Wherever stirring adventures were to be had, Jef- ferson Hope had been there in search of them. He soon became a favourite with the old farmer, who spoke eloquently of his virtues. On such occasions, 43 A StudyInScarlet Lucy was silent, but her blushing cheek and her bright, happy eyes, showed only too clearly that her young heart was no longer her own. Her hon- est father may not have observed these symptoms, but they were assuredly not thrown away upon the man who had won her affections. It was a summer evening when he came gallop- ing down the road and pulled up at the gate. She was at the doorway, and came down to meet him. He threw the bridle over the fence and strode up the pathway. “I am off, Lucy,” he said, taking her two hands in his, and gazing tenderly down into her face; “I won’t ask you to come with me now, but will you be ready to come when I am here again?” “And when will that be?” she asked, blushing and laughing. “A couple of months at the outside. I will come and claim you then, my darling. There’s no one who can stand between us.” “And how about father?” she asked. “He has given his consent, provided we get these mines working all right. I have no fear on that head.” “Oh, well; of course, if you and father have ar- ranged it all, there’s no more to be said,” she whis- pered, with her cheek against his broad breast. “Thank God!” he said, hoarsely, stooping and kissing her. “It is settled, then. The longer I stay, the harder it will be to go. They are waiting for me at the ca˜ non. Good-bye, my own darling—good- bye. In two months you shall see me.” He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, ?inging himself upon his horse, galloped furiously away, never even looking round, as though afraid that his resolution might fail him if he took one glance at what he was leaving. She stood at the gate, gazing after him until he vanished from her sight. Then she walked back into the house, the happiest girl in all Utah.CHAPTER III.JohnFerrierTalksWithTheProphetThree weeks had passedsince Jefferson Hope and his comrades had departed from Salt Lake City. John Ferrier’s heart was sore within him when he thought of the young man’s return, and of the impending loss of his adopted child. Yet her bright and happy face reconciled him to the arrangement more than any argument could have done. He had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such a marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was in?exible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in the Land of the Saints. Yes, a dangerous matter—so dangerous that even the most saintly dared only whisper their re- ligious opinions with bated breath, lest something which fell from their lips might be misconstrued, and bring down a swift retribution upon them. The victims of persecution had now turned per- secutors on their own account, and persecutors of the most terrible description. Not the Inquisition of Seville, nor the German Vehmgericht, nor the Secret Societies of Italy, were ever able to put a more formidable machinery in motion than that which cast a cloud over the State of Utah. Its invisibility, and the mystery which was at- tached to it, made this organization doubly terri- ble. It appeared to be omniscient and omnipotent, and yet was neither seen nor heard. The man who held out against the Church vanished away, and none knew whither he had gone or what had be- fallen him. His wife and his children awaited him at home, but no father ever returned to tell them how he had fared at the hands of his secret judges. A rash word or a hasty act was followed by annihi- lation, and yet none knew what the nature might be of this terrible power which was suspended over them. No wonder that men went about in fear and trembling, and that even in the heart of the wilderness they dared not whisper the doubts which oppressed them. 44 A StudyInScarlet At ?rst this vague and terrible power was ex- ercised only upon the recalcitrants who, having embraced the Mormon faith, wished afterwards to pervert or to abandon it. Soon, however, it took a wider range. The supply of adult women was running short, and polygamy without a fe- male population on which to draw was a bar- ren doctrine indeed. Strange rumours began to be bandied about—rumours of murdered immi- grants and ri?ed camps in regions where Indians had never been seen. Fresh women appeared in the harems of the Elders—women who pined and wept, and bore upon their faces the traces of an un- extinguishable horror. Belated wanderers upon the mountains spoke of gangs of armed men, masked, stealthy, and noiseless, who ?itted by them in the darkness. These tales and rumours took sub- stance and shape, and were corroborated and re- corroborated, until they resolved themselves into a de?nite name. To this day, in the lonely ranches of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened one. Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such terrible results served to increase rather than to lessen the horror which it inspired in the minds of men. None knew who belonged to this ruthless society. The names of the partic- ipators in the deeds of blood and violence done under the name of religion were kept profoundly secret. The very friend to whom you communi- cated your misgivings as to the Prophet and his mission, might be one of those who would come forth at night with ?re and sword to exact a terrible reparation. Hence every man feared his neighbour, and none spoke of the things which were nearest his heart. One ?ne morning, John Ferrier was about to set out to his wheat?elds, when he heard the click of the latch, and, looking through the window, saw a stout, sandy-haired, middle-aged man coming up the pathway. His heart leapt to his mouth, for this was none other than the great Brigham Young himself. Full of trepidation—for he knew that such a visit boded him little good—Ferrier ran to the door to greet the Mormon chief. The latter, how- ever, received his salutations coldly, and followed him with a stern face into the sitting-room. “Brother Ferrier,” he said, taking a seat, and eyeing the farmer keenly from under his light- coloured eyelashes, “the true believers have been good friends to you. We picked you up when you were starving in the desert, we shared our food with you, led you safe to the Chosen Valley, gave you a goodly share of land, and allowed you to wax rich under our protection. Is not this so?” “It is so,” answered John Ferrier. “In return for all this we asked but one condi- tion: that was, that you should embrace the true faith, and conform in every way to its usages. This you promised to do, and this, if common report says truly, you have neglected.” “And how have I neglected it?” asked Ferrier, throwing out his hands in expostulation. “Have I not given to the common fund? Have I not at- tended at the Temple? Have I not—?” “Where are your wives?” asked Young, looking round him. “Call them in, that I may greet them.” “It is true that I have not married,” Ferrier an- swered. “But women were few, and there were many who had better claims than I. I was not a lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my wants.” “It is of that daughter that I would speak to you,” said the leader of the Mormons. “She has grown to be the ?ower of Utah, and has found favour in the eyes of many who are high in the land.” John Ferrier groaned internally. “There are stories of her which I would fain dis- believe—stories that she is sealed to some Gentile. This must be the gossip of idle tongues. What is the thirteenth rule in the code of the sainted Joseph Smith? ‘Let every maiden of the true faith marry one of the elect; for if she wed a Gentile, she com- mits a grievous sin.’ This being so, it is impossible that you, who profess the holy creed, should suffer your daughter to violate it.” John Ferrier made no answer, but he played nervously with his riding-whip. “Upon this one point your whole faith shall be tested—so it has been decided in the Sacred Coun- cil of Four. The girl is young, and we would not have her wed grey hairs, neither would we deprive her of all choice. We Elders have many heifers,1but our children must also be provided. Stanger- son has a son, and Drebber has a son, and either of them would gladly welcome your daughter to their house. Let her choose between them. They are young and rich, and of the true faith. What say you to that?” Ferrier remained silent for some little time with his brows knitted. “You will give us time,” he said at last. “My daughter is very young—she is scarce of an age to marry.” 1Heber C. Kemball, in one of his sermons, alludes to his hundred wives under this endearing epithet. 45 A StudyInScarlet “She shall have a month to choose,” said Young, rising from his seat. “At the end of that time she shall give her answer.” He was passing through the door, when he turned, with ?ushed face and ?ashing eyes. “It were better for you, John Ferrier,” he thundered, “that you and she were now lying blanched skele- tons upon the Sierra Blanco, than that you should put your weak wills against the orders of the Holy Four!” With a threatening gesture of his hand, he turned from the door, and Ferrier heard his heavy step scrunching along the shingly path. He was still sitting with his elbows upon his knees, considering how he should broach the mat- ter to his daughter when a soft hand was laid upon his, and looking up, he saw her standing be- side him. One glance at her pale, frightened face showed him that she had heard what had passed. “I could not help it,” she said, in answer to his look. “His voice rang through the house. Oh, fa- ther, father, what shall we do?” “Don’t you scare yourself,” he answered, draw- ing her to him, and passing his broad, rough hand caressingly over her chestnut hair. “We’ll ?x it up somehow or another. You don’t ?nd your fancy kind o’ lessening for this chap, do you?” A sob and a squeeze of his hand was her only answer. “No; of course not. I shouldn’t care to hear you say you did. He’s a likely lad, and he’s a Christian, which is more than these folk here, in spite o’ all their praying and preaching. There’s a party start- ing for Nevada to-morrow, and I’ll manage to send him a message letting him know the hole we are in. If I know anything o’ that young man, he’ll be back here with a speed that would whip electro- telegraphs.” Lucy laughed through her tears at her father’s description. “When he comes, he will advise us for the best. But it is for you that I am frightened, dear. One hears—one hears such dreadful stories about those who oppose the Prophet: something terrible al- ways happens to them.” “But we haven’t opposed him yet,” her father answered. “It will be time to look out for squalls when we do. We have a clear month before us; at the end of that, I guess we had best shin out of Utah.” “Leave Utah!” “That’s about the size of it.” “But the farm?” “We will raise as much as we can in money, and let the rest go. To tell the truth, Lucy, it isn’t the ?rst time I have thought of doing it. I don’t care about knuckling under to any man, as these folk do to their darned prophet. I’m a free-born Amer- ican, and it’s all new to me. Guess I’m too old to learn. If he comes browsing about this farm, he might chance to run up against a charge of buck- shot travelling in the opposite direction.” “But they won’t let us leave,” his daughter ob- jected. “Wait till Jefferson comes, and we’ll soon man- age that. In the meantime, don’t you fret yourself, my dearie, and don’t get your eyes swelled up, else he’ll be walking into me when he sees you. There’s nothing to be afeared about, and there’s no danger at all.” John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in a very con?dent tone, but she could not help ob- serving that he paid unusual care to the fasten- ing of the doors that night, and that he carefully cleaned and loaded the rusty old shotgun which hung upon the wall of his bedroom.CHAPTER IV.A FlightForLifeOn the morningwhich followed his interview with the Mormon Prophet, John Ferrier went in to Salt Lake City, and having found his acquaintance, who was bound for the Nevada Mountains, he en- trusted him with his message to Jefferson Hope. In it he told the young man of the imminent dan- 46 A StudyInScarlet ger which threatened them, and how necessary it was that he should return. Having done thus he felt easier in his mind, and returned home with a lighter heart. As he approached his farm, he was surprised to see a horse hitched to each of the posts of the gate. Still more surprised was he on entering to ?nd two young men in possession of his sitting-room. One, with a long pale face, was leaning back in the rocking-chair, with his feet cocked up upon the stove. The other, a bull-necked youth with coarse bloated features, was standing in front of the win- dow with his hands in his pocket, whistling a pop- ular hymn. Both of them nodded to Ferrier as he entered, and the one in the rocking-chair com- menced the conversation. “Maybe you don’t know us,” he said. “This here is the son of Elder Drebber, and I’m Joseph Stangerson, who travelled with you in the desert when the Lord stretched out His hand and gath- ered you into the true fold.” “As He will all the nations in His own good time,” said the other in a nasal voice; “He grindeth slowly but exceeding small.” John Ferrier bowed coldly. He had guessed who his visitors were. “We have come,” continued Stangerson, “at the advice of our fathers to solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of us may seem good to you and to her. As I have but four wives and Brother Drebber here has seven, it appears to me that my claim is the stronger one.” “Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson,” cried the other; “the question is not how many wives we have, but how many we can keep. My father has now given over his mills to me, and I am the richer man.” “But my prospects are better,” said the other, warmly. “When the Lord removes my father, I shall have his tanning yard and his leather fac- tory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the Church.” “It will be for the maiden to decide,” rejoined young Drebber, smirking at his own re?ection in the glass. “We will leave it all to her decision.” During this dialogue, John Ferrier had stood fuming in the doorway, hardly able to keep his riding-whip from the backs of his two visitors. “Look here,” he said at last, striding up to them, “when my daughter summons you, you can come, but until then I don’t want to see your faces again.” The two young Mormons stared at him in amazement. In their eyes this competition between them for the maiden’s hand was the highest of honours both to her and her father. “There are two ways out of the room,” cried Ferrier; “there is the door, and there is the win- dow. Which do you care to use?” His brown face looked so savage, and his gaunt hands so threatening, that his visitors sprang to their feet and beat a hurried retreat. The old farmer followed them to the door. “Let me know when you have settled which it is to be,” he said, sardonically. “You shall smart for this!” Stangerson cried, white with rage. “You have de?ed the Prophet and the Council of Four. You shall rue it to the end of your days.” “The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon you,” cried young Drebber; “He will arise and smite you!” “Then I’ll start the smiting,” exclaimed Ferrier furiously, and would have rushed upstairs for his gun had not Lucy seized him by the arm and re- strained him. Before he could escape from her, the clatter of horses’ hoofs told him that they were be- yond his reach. “The young canting rascals!” he exclaimed, wiping the perspiration from his forehead; “I would sooner see you in your grave, my girl, than the wife of either of them.” “And so should I, father,” she answered, with spirit; “but Jefferson will soon be here.” “Yes. It will not be long before he comes. The sooner the better, for we do not know what their next move may be.” It was, indeed, high time that someone capable of giving advice and help should come to the aid of the sturdy old farmer and his adopted daugh- ter. In the whole history of the settlement there had never been such a case of rank disobedience to the authority of the Elders. If minor errors were punished so sternly, what would be the fate of this arch rebel. Ferrier knew that his wealth and posi- tion would be of no avail to him. Others as well known and as rich as himself had been spirited away before now, and their goods given over to the Church. He was a brave man, but he trembled at the vague, shadowy terrors which hung over him. Any known danger he could face with a ?rm lip, but this suspense was unnerving. He concealed his fears from his daughter, however, and affected to make light of the whole matter, though she, with the keen eye of love, saw plainly that he was ill at ease. 47 A StudyInScarlet He expected that he would receive some mes- sage or remonstrance from Young as to his con- duct, and he was not mistaken, though it came in an unlooked-for manner. Upon rising next morn- ing he found, to his surprise, a small square of pa- per pinned on to the coverlet of his bed just over his chest. On it was printed, in bold straggling letters:— “Twenty-nine days are given you for amend- ment, and then—” The dash was more fear-inspiring than any threat could have been. How this warning came into his room puzzled John Ferrier sorely, for his servants slept in an outhouse, and the doors and windows had all been secured. He crumpled the paper up and said nothing to his daughter, but the incident struck a chill into his heart. The twenty- nine days were evidently the balance of the month which Young had promised. What strength or courage could avail against an enemy armed with such mysterious powers? The hand which fas- tened that pin might have struck him to the heart, and he could never have known who had slain him. Still more shaken was he next morning. They had sat down to their breakfast when Lucy with a cry of surprise pointed upwards. In the centre of the ceiling was scrawled, with a burned stick ap- parently, the number28. To his daughter it was unintelligible, and he did not enlighten her. That night he sat up with his gun and kept watch and ward. He saw and he heard nothing, and yet in the morning a great27had been painted upon the outside of his door. Thus day followed day; and as sure as morning came he found that his unseen enemies had kept their register, and had marked up in some con- spicuous position how many days were still left to him out of the month of grace. Sometimes the fa- tal numbers appeared upon the walls, sometimes upon the ?oors, occasionally they were on small placards stuck upon the garden gate or the rail- ings. With all his vigilance John Ferrier could not discover whence these daily warnings proceeded. A horror which was almost superstitious came upon him at the sight of them. He became hag- gard and restless, and his eyes had the troubled look of some hunted creature. He had but one hope in life now, and that was for the arrival of the young hunter from Nevada. Twenty had changed to ?fteen and ?fteen to ten, but there was no news of the absentee. One by one the numbers dwindled down, and still there came no sign of him. Whenever a horseman clat- tered down the road, or a driver shouted at his team, the old farmer hurried to the gate think- ing that help had arrived at last. At last, when he saw ?ve give way to four and that again to three, he lost heart, and abandoned all hope of es- cape. Single-handed, and with his limited knowl- edge of the mountains which surrounded the set- tlement, he knew that he was powerless. The more-frequented roads were strictly watched and guarded, and none could pass along them with- out an order from the Council. Turn which way he would, there appeared to be no avoiding the blow which hung over him. Yet the old man never wa- vered in his resolution to part with life itself before he consented to what he regarded as his daugh- ter’s dishonour. He was sitting alone one evening pondering deeply over his troubles, and searching vainly for some way out of them. That morning had shown the ?gure2upon the wall of his house, and the next day would be the last of the allotted time. What was to happen then? All manner of vague and terrible fancies ?lled his imagination. And his daughter—what was to become of her after he was gone? Was there no escape from the invisible net- work which was drawn all round them. He sank his head upon the table and sobbed at the thought of his own impotence. What was that? In the silence he heard a gen- tle scratching sound—low, but very distinct in the quiet of the night. It came from the door of the house. Ferrier crept into the hall and listened in- tently. There was a pause for a few moments, and then the low insidious sound was repeated. Some- one was evidently tapping very gently upon one of the panels of the door. Was it some midnight as- sassin who had come to carry out the murderous orders of the secret tribunal? Or was it some agent who was marking up that the last day of grace had arrived. John Ferrier felt that instant death would be better than the suspense which shook his nerves and chilled his heart. Springing forward he drew the bolt and threw the door open. Outside all was calm and quiet. The night was ?ne, and the stars were twinkling brightly overhead. The little front garden lay before the farmer’s eyes bounded by the fence and gate, but neither there nor on the road was any human be- ing to be seen. With a sigh of relief, Ferrier looked to right and to left, until happening to glance straight down at his own feet he saw to his aston- ishment a man lying ?at upon his face upon the ground, with arms and legs all asprawl. 48 A StudyInScarlet So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned up against the wall with his hand to his throat to sti?e his inclination to call out. His ?rst thought was that the prostrate ?gure was that of some wounded or dying man, but as he watched it he saw it writhe along the ground and into the hall with the rapidity and noiselessness of a serpent. Once within the house the man sprang to his feet, closed the door, and revealed to the astonished farmer the ?erce face and resolute expression of Jefferson Hope. “Good God!” gasped John Ferrier. “How you scared me! Whatever made you come in like that.” “Give me food,” the other said, hoarsely. “I have had no time for bite or sup for eight-and-forty hours.” He ?ung himself upon the cold meat and bread which were still lying upon the table from his host’s supper, and devoured it voraciously. “Does Lucy bear up well?” he asked, when he had satis?ed his hunger. “Yes. She does not know the danger,” her fa- ther answered. “That is well. The house is watched on every side. That is why I crawled my way up to it. They may be darned sharp, but they’re not quite sharp enough to catch a Washoe hunter.” John Ferrier felt a different man now that he realized that he had a devoted ally. He seized the young man’s leathery hand and wrung it cordially. “You’re a man to be proud of,” he said. “There are not many who would come to share our danger and our troubles.” “You’ve hit it there, pard,” the young hunter answered. “I have a respect for you, but if you were alone in this business I’d think twice before I put my head into such a hornet’s nest. It’s Lucy that brings me here, and before harm comes on her I guess there will be one less o’ the Hope family in Utah.” “What are we to do?” “To-morrow is your last day, and unless you act to-night you are lost. I have a mule and two horses waiting in the Eagle Ravine. How much money have you?” “Two thousand dollars in gold, and ?ve in notes.” “That will do. I have as much more to add to it. We must push for Carson City through the moun- tains. You had best wake Lucy. It is as well that the servants do not sleep in the house.” While Ferrier was absent, preparing his daugh- ter for the approaching journey, Jefferson Hope packed all the eatables that he could ?nd into a small parcel, and ?lled a stoneware jar with wa- ter, for he knew by experience that the mountain wells were few and far between. He had hardly completed his arrangements before the farmer re- turned with his daughter all dressed and ready for a start. The greeting between the lovers was warm, but brief, for minutes were precious, and there was much to be done. “We must make our start at once,” said Jeffer- son Hope, speaking in a low but resolute voice, like one who realizes the greatness of the peril, but has steeled his heart to meet it. “The front and back entrances are watched, but with caution we may get away through the side window and across the ?elds. Once on the road we are only two miles from the Ravine where the horses are wait- ing. By daybreak we should be half-way through the mountains.” “What if we are stopped,” asked Ferrier. Hope slapped the revolver butt which pro- truded from the front of his tunic. “If they are too many for us we shall take two or three of them with us,” he said with a sinister smile. The lights inside the house had all been extin- guished, and from the darkened window Ferrier peered over the ?elds which had been his own, and which he was now about to abandon for ever. He had long nerved himself to the sacri?ce, how- ever, and the thought of the honour and happiness of his daughter outweighed any regret at his ru- ined fortunes. All looked so peaceful and happy, the rustling trees and the broad silent stretch of grain-land, that it was dif?cult to realize that the spirit of murder lurked through it all. Yet the white face and set expression of the young hunter showed that in his approach to the house he had seen enough to satisfy him upon that head. Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes, Jef- ferson Hope had the scanty provisions and water, while Lucy had a small bundle containing a few of her more valued possessions. Opening the win- dow very slowly and carefully, they waited until a dark cloud had somewhat obscured the night, and then one by one passed through into the little gar- den. With bated breath and crouching ?gures they stumbled across it, and gained the shelter of the hedge, which they skirted until they came to the gap which opened into the corn?elds. They had just reached this point when the young man seized his two companions and dragged them down into the shadow, where they lay silent and trembling. It was as well that his prairie training had given Jefferson Hope the ears of a lynx. He and 49 A StudyInScarlet his friends had hardly crouched down before the melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was heard within a few yards of them, which was imme- diately answered by another hoot at a small dis- tance. At the same moment a vague shadowy ?g- ure emerged from the gap for which they had been making, and uttered the plaintive signal cry again, on which a second man appeared out of the ob- scurity. “To-morrow at midnight,” said the ?rst who appeared to be in authority. “When the Whip- poor-Will calls three times.” “It is well,” returned the other. “Shall I tell Brother Drebber?” “Pass it on to him, and from him to the others. Nine to seven!” “Seven to ?ve!” repeated the other, and the two ?gures ?itted away in different directions. Their concluding words had evidently been some form of sign and countersign. The instant that their footsteps had died away in the distance, Jeffer- son Hope sprang to his feet, and helping his com- panions through the gap, led the way across the ?elds at the top of his speed, supporting and half- carrying the girl when her strength appeared to fail her. “Hurry on! hurry on!” he gasped from time to time. “We are through the line of sentinels. Every- thing depends on speed. Hurry on!” Once on the high road they made rapid progress. Only once did they meet anyone, and then they managed to slip into a ?eld, and so avoid recognition. Before reaching the town the hunter branched away into a rugged and narrow foot- path which led to the mountains. Two dark jagged peaks loomed above them through the darkness, and the de?le which led between them was the Ea- gle Ca˜ non in which the horses were awaiting them. With unerring instinct Jefferson Hope picked his way among the great boulders and along the bed of a dried-up watercourse, until he came to the re- tired corner, screened with rocks, where the faith- ful animals had been picketed. The girl was placed upon the mule, and old Ferrier upon one of the horses, with his money-bag, while Jefferson Hope led the other along the precipitous and dangerous path. It was a bewildering route for anyone who was not accustomed to face Nature in her wildest moods. On the one side a great crag towered up a thousand feet or more, black, stern, and menac- ing, with long basaltic columns upon its rugged surface like the ribs of some petri?ed monster. On the other hand a wild chaos of boulders and debris made all advance impossible. Between the two ran the irregular track, so narrow in places that they had to travel in Indian ?le, and so rough that only practised riders could have traversed it at all. Yet in spite of all dangers and dif?culties, the hearts of the fugitives were light within them, for every step increased the distance between them and the terrible despotism from which they were ?ying. They soon had a proof, however, that they were still within the jurisdiction of the Saints. They had reached the very wildest and most desolate portion of the pass when the girl gave a star- tled cry, and pointed upwards. On a rock which overlooked the track, showing out dark and plain against the sky, there stood a solitary sentinel. He saw them as soon as they perceived him, and his military challenge of “Who goes there?” rang through the silent ravine. “Travellers for Nevada,” said Jefferson Hope, with his hand upon the ri?e which hung by his saddle. They could see the lonely watcher ?ngering his gun, and peering down at them as if dissatis?ed at their reply. “By whose permission?” he asked. “The Holy Four,” answered Ferrier. His Mor- mon experiences had taught him that that was the highest authority to which he could refer. “Nine from seven,” cried the sentinel. “Seven from ?ve,” returned Jefferson Hope promptly, remembering the countersign which he had heard in the garden. “Pass, and the Lord go with you,” said the voice from above. Beyond his post the path broad- ened out, and the horses were able to break into a trot. Looking back, they could see the solitary watcher leaning upon his gun, and knew that they had passed the outlying post of the chosen people, and that freedom lay before them. 50 A StudyInScarlet CHAPTER V.TheAvengingAngelsAll nighttheir course lay through intricate de?les and over irregular and rock-strewn paths. More than once they lost their way, but Hope’s in- timate knowledge of the mountains enabled them to regain the track once more. When morning broke, a scene of marvellous though savage beauty lay before them. In every direction the great snow- capped peaks hemmed them in, peeping over each other’s shoulders to the far horizon. So steep were the rocky banks on either side of them, that the larch and the pine seemed to be suspended over their heads, and to need only a gust of wind to come hurtling down upon them. Nor was the fear entirely an illusion, for the barren valley was thickly strewn with trees and boulders which had fallen in a similar manner. Even as they passed, a great rock came thundering down with a hoarse rattle which woke the echoes in the silent gorges, and startled the weary horses into a gallop. As the sun rose slowly above the eastern hori- zon, the caps of the great mountains lit up one after the other, like lamps at a festival, until they were all ruddy and glowing. The magni?cent spectacle cheered the hearts of the three fugitives and gave them fresh energy. At a wild torrent which swept out of a ravine they called a halt and watered their horses, while they partook of a hasty breakfast. Lucy and her father would fain have rested longer, but Jefferson Hope was inexorable. “They will be upon our track by this time,” he said. “Everything depends upon our speed. Once safe in Carson we may rest for the remainder of our lives.” During the whole of that day they struggled on through the de?les, and by evening they calcu- lated that they were more than thirty miles from their enemies. At night-time they chose the base of a beetling crag, where the rocks offered some protection from the chill wind, and there huddled together for warmth, they enjoyed a few hours’ sleep. Before daybreak, however, they were up and on their way once more. They had seen no signs of any pursuers, and Jefferson Hope began to think that they were fairly out of the reach of the terri- ble organization whose enmity they had incurred. He little knew how far that iron grasp could reach, or how soon it was to close upon them and crush them. About the middle of the second day of their ?ight their scanty store of provisions began to run out. This gave the hunter little uneasiness, how- ever, for there was game to be had among the mountains, and he had frequently before had to depend upon his ri?e for the needs of life. Choos- ing a sheltered nook, he piled together a few dried branches and made a blazing ?re, at which his companions might warm themselves, for they were now nearly ?ve thousand feet above the sea level, and the air was bitter and keen. Having teth- ered the horses, and bade Lucy adieu, he threw his gun over his shoulder, and set out in search of whatever chance might throw in his way. Look- ing back he saw the old man and the young girl crouching over the blazing ?re, while the three an- imals stood motionless in the back-ground. Then the intervening rocks hid them from his view. He walked for a couple of miles through one ravine after another without success, though from the marks upon the bark of the trees, and other indications, he judged that there were numerous bears in the vicinity. At last, after two or three hours’ fruitless search, he was thinking of turning back in despair, when casting his eyes upwards he saw a sight which sent a thrill of pleasure through his heart. On the edge of a jutting pinnacle, three or four hundred feet above him, there stood a crea- ture somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance, but armed with a pair of gigantic horns. The big- horn—for so it is called—was acting, probably, as a guardian over a ?ock which were invisible to the hunter; but fortunately it was heading in the oppo- site direction, and had not perceived him. Lying on his face, he rested his ri?e upon a rock, and took a long and steady aim before drawing the trigger. The animal sprang into the air, tottered for a moment upon the edge of the precipice, and then came crashing down into the valley beneath. The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the hunter contented himself with cutting away one haunch and part of the ?ank. With this trophy over his shoulder, he hastened to retrace his steps, for the evening was already drawing in. He had hardly started, however, before he realized the dif- ?culty which faced him. In his eagerness he had wandered far past the ravines which were known to him, and it was no easy matter to pick out the path which he had taken. The valley in which he found himself divided and sub-divided into many gorges, which were so like each other that it was impossible to distinguish one from the other. He followed one for a mile or more until he came to 51 A StudyInScarlet a mountain torrent which he was sure that he had never seen before. Convinced that he had taken the wrong turn, he tried another, but with the same result. Night was coming on rapidly, and it was almost dark before he at last found him- self in a de?le which was familiar to him. Even then it was no easy matter to keep to the right track, for the moon had not yet risen, and the high cliffs on either side made the obscurity more pro- found. Weighed down with his burden, and weary from his exertions, he stumbled along, keeping up his heart by the re?ection that every step brought him nearer to Lucy, and that he carried with him enough to ensure them food for the remainder of their journey. He had now come to the mouth of the very de?le in which he had left them. Even in the dark- ness he could recognize the outline of the cliffs which bounded it. They must, he re?ected, be awaiting him anxiously, for he had been absent nearly ?ve hours. In the gladness of his heart he put his hands to his mouth and made the glen re-echo to a loud halloo as a signal that he was coming. He paused and listened for an answer. None came save his own cry, which clattered up the dreary silent ravines, and was borne back to his ears in countless repetitions. Again he shouted, even louder than before, and again no whisper came back from the friends whom he had left such a short time ago. A vague, nameless dread came over him, and he hurried onwards frantically, dropping the precious food in his agitation. When he turned the corner, he came full in sight of the spot where the ?re had been lit. There was still a glowing pile of wood ashes there, but it had evidently not been tended since his departure. The same dead silence still reigned all round. With his fears all changed to convictions, he hurried on. There was no living creature near the remains of the ?re: animals, man, maiden, all were gone. It was only too clear that some sudden and terrible disaster had occurred during his absence—a disas- ter which had embraced them all, and yet had left no traces behind it. Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jeffer- son Hope felt his head spin round, and had to lean upon his ri?e to save himself from falling. He was essentially a man of action, however, and speedily recovered from his temporary impotence. Seizing a half-consumed piece of wood from the smouldering ?re, he blew it into a ?ame, and pro- ceeded with its help to examine the little camp. The ground was all stamped down by the feet of horses, showing that a large party of mounted men had overtaken the fugitives, and the direction of their tracks proved that they had afterwards turned back to Salt Lake City. Had they carried back both of his companions with them? Jeffer- son Hope had almost persuaded himself that they must have done so, when his eye fell upon an ob- ject which made every nerve of his body tingle within him. A little way on one side of the camp was a low-lying heap of reddish soil, which had assuredly not been there before. There was no mis- taking it for anything but a newly-dug grave. As the young hunter approached it, he perceived that a stick had been planted on it, with a sheet of pa- per stuck in the cleft fork of it. The inscription upon the paper was brief, but to the point: JOHN FERRIER, Formerly ofSaltLakeCity, Died August4th,1860. The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short a time before, was gone, then, and this was all his epitaph. Jefferson Hope looked wildly round to see if there was a second grave, but there was no sign of one. Lucy had been carried back by their terrible pursuers to ful?l her original destiny, by becoming one of the harem of the Elder’s son. As the young fellow realized the certainty of her fate, and his own powerlessness to prevent it, he wished that he, too, was lying with the old farmer in his last silent resting-place. Again, however, his active spirit shook off the lethargy which springs from despair. If there was nothing else left to him, he could at least devote his life to revenge. With indomitable patience and perseverance, Jefferson Hope possessed also a power of sustained vindictiveness, which he may have learned from the Indians amongst whom he had lived. As he stood by the desolate ?re, he felt that the only one thing which could assuage his grief would be thorough and complete retri- bution, brought by his own hand upon his ene- mies. His strong will and untiring energy should, he determined, be devoted to that one end. With a grim, white face, he retraced his steps to where he had dropped the food, and having stirred up the smouldering ?re, he cooked enough to last him for a few days. This he made up into a bun- dle, and, tired as he was, he set himself to walk back through the mountains upon the track of the avenging angels. For ?ve days he toiled footsore and weary through the de?les which he had already traversed on horseback. At night he ?ung himself down among the rocks, and snatched a few hours of sleep; but before daybreak he was always well on 52 A StudyInScarlet his way. On the sixth day, he reached the Eagle Ca˜ non, from which they had commenced their ill- fated ?ight. Thence he could look down upon the home of the saints. Worn and exhausted, he leaned upon his ri?e and shook his gaunt hand ?ercely at the silent widespread city beneath him. As he looked at it, he observed that there were ?ags in some of the principal streets, and other signs of festivity. He was still speculating as to what this might mean when he heard the clatter of horse’s hoofs, and saw a mounted man riding towards him. As he approached, he recognized him as a Mormon named Cowper, to whom he had rendered services at different times. He there- fore accosted him when he got up to him, with the object of ?nding out what Lucy Ferrier’s fate had been. “I am Jefferson Hope,” he said. “You remem- ber me.” The Mormon looked at him with undisguised astonishment—indeed, it was dif?cult to recognize in this tattered, unkempt wanderer, with ghastly white face and ?erce, wild eyes, the spruce young hunter of former days. Having, however, at last, satis?ed himself as to his identity, the man’s sur- prise changed to consternation. “You are mad to come here,” he cried. “It is as much as my own life is worth to be seen talking with you. There is a warrant against you from the Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers away.” “I don’t fear them, or their warrant,” Hope said, earnestly. “You must know something of this matter, Cowper. I conjure you by everything you hold dear to answer a few questions. We have al- ways been friends. For God’s sake, don’t refuse to answer me.” “What is it?” the Mormon asked uneasily. “Be quick. The very rocks have ears and the trees eyes.” “What has become of Lucy Ferrier?” “She was married yesterday to young Drebber. Hold up, man, hold up, you have no life left in you.” “Don’t mind me,” said Hope faintly. He was white to the very lips, and had sunk down on the stone against which he had been leaning. “Mar- ried, you say?” “Married yesterday—that’s what those ?ags are for on the Endowment House. There was some words between young Drebber and young Stanger- son as to which was to have her. They’d both been in the party that followed them, and Stangerson had shot her father, which seemed to give him the best claim; but when they argued it out in council, Drebber’s party was the stronger, so the Prophet gave her over to him. No one won’t have her very long though, for I saw death in her face yesterday. She is more like a ghost than a woman. Are you off, then?” “Yes, I am off,” said Jefferson Hope, who had risen from his seat. His face might have been chis- elled out of marble, so hard and set was its expres- sion, while its eyes glowed with a baleful light. “Where are you going?” “Never mind,” he answered; and, slinging his weapon over his shoulder, strode off down the gorge and so away into the heart of the mountains to the haunts of the wild beasts. Amongst them all there was none so ?erce and so dangerous as himself. The prediction of the Mormon was only too well ful?lled. Whether it was the terrible death of her father or the effects of the hateful marriage into which she had been forced, poor Lucy never held up her head again, but pined away and died within a month. Her sottish husband, who had married her principally for the sake of John Fer- rier’s property, did not affect any great grief at his bereavement; but his other wives mourned over her, and sat up with her the night before the burial, as is the Mormon custom. They were grouped round the bier in the early hours of the morn- ing, when, to their inexpressible fear and aston- ishment, the door was ?ung open, and a savage- looking, weather-beaten man in tattered garments strode into the room. Without a glance or a word to the cowering women, he walked up to the white silent ?gure which had once contained the pure soul of Lucy Ferrier. Stooping over her, he pressed his lips reverently to her cold forehead, and then, snatching up her hand, he took the wedding-ring from her ?nger. “She shall not be buried in that,” he cried with a ?erce snarl, and before an alarm could be raised sprang down the stairs and was gone. So strange and so brief was the episode, that the watchers might have found it hard to believe it themselves or persuade other people of it, had it not been for the undeniable fact that the circlet of gold which marked her as having been a bride had disappeared. For some months Jefferson Hope lingered among the mountains, leading a strange wild life, and nursing in his heart the ?erce desire for vengeance which possessed him. Tales were told in the City of the weird ?gure which was seen prowling about the suburbs, and which haunted the lonely mountain gorges. Once a bullet whis- tled through Stangerson’s window and ?attened 53 A StudyInScarlet itself upon the wall within a foot of him. On an- other occasion, as Drebber passed under a cliff a great boulder crashed down on him, and he only escaped a terrible death by throwing himself upon his face. The two young Mormons were not long in discovering the reason of these attempts upon their lives, and led repeated expeditions into the mountains in the hope of capturing or killing their enemy, but always without success. Then they adopted the precaution of never going out alone or after nightfall, and of having their houses guarded. After a time they were able to relax these mea- sures, for nothing was either heard or seen of their opponent, and they hoped that time had cooled his vindictiveness. Far from doing so, it had, if anything, aug- mented it. The hunter’s mind was of a hard, un- yielding nature, and the predominant idea of re- venge had taken such complete possession of it that there was no room for any other emotion. He was, however, above all things practical. He soon realized that even his iron constitution could not stand the incessant strain which he was putting upon it. Exposure and want of wholesome food were wearing him out. If he died like a dog among the mountains, what was to become of his revenge then? And yet such a death was sure to overtake him if he persisted. He felt that that was to play his enemy’s game, so he reluctantly returned to the old Nevada mines, there to recruit his health and to amass money enough to allow him to pursue his object without privation. His intention had been to be absent a year at the most, but a combination of unforeseen circum- stances prevented his leaving the mines for nearly ?ve. At the end of that time, however, his memory of his wrongs and his craving for revenge were quite as keen as on that memorable night when he had stood by John Ferrier’s grave. Disguised, and under an assumed name, he returned to Salt Lake City, careless what became of his own life, as long as he obtained what he knew to be justice. There he found evil tidings awaiting him. There had been a schism among the Chosen People a few months before, some of the younger members of the Church having rebelled against the authority of the Elders, and the result had been the secession of a certain number of the malcontents, who had left Utah and become Gentiles. Among these had been Drebber and Stangerson; and no one knew whither they had gone. Rumour reported that Drebber had managed to convert a large part of his property into money, and that he had departed a wealthy man, while his companion, Stangerson, was comparatively poor. There was no clue at all, however, as to their whereabouts. Many a man, however vindictive, would have abandoned all thought of revenge in the face of such a dif?culty, but Jefferson Hope never faltered for a moment. With the small competence he pos- sessed, eked out by such employment as he could pick up, he travelled from town to town through the United States in quest of his enemies. Year passed into year, his black hair turned grizzled, but still he wandered on, a human bloodhound, with his mind wholly set upon the one object upon which he had devoted his life. At last his per- severance was rewarded. It was but a glance of a face in a window, but that one glance told him that Cleveland in Ohio possessed the men whom he was in pursuit of. He returned to his miser- able lodgings with his plan of vengeance all ar- ranged. It chanced, however, that Drebber, look- ing from his window, had recognized the vagrant in the street, and had read murder in his eyes. He hurried before a justice of the peace, accompanied by Stangerson, who had become his private secre- tary, and represented to him that they were in dan- ger of their lives from the jealousy and hatred of an old rival. That evening Jefferson Hope was taken into custody, and not being able to ?nd sureties, was detained for some weeks. When at last he was liberated, it was only to ?nd that Drebber’s house was deserted, and that he and his secretary had departed for Europe. Again the avenger had been foiled, and again his concentrated hatred urged him to continue the pursuit. Funds were wanting, however, and for some time he had to return to work, saving every dollar for his approaching journey. At last, hav- ing collected enough to keep life in him, he de- parted for Europe, and tracked his enemies from city to city, working his way in any menial capac- ity, but never overtaking the fugitives. When he reached St. Petersburg they had departed for Paris; and when he followed them there he learned that they had just set off for Copenhagen. At the Dan- ish capital he was again a few days late, for they had journeyed on to London, where he at last suc- ceeded in running them to earth. As to what oc- curred there, we cannot do better than quote the old hunter’s own account, as duly recorded in Dr. Watson’s Journal, to which we are already under such obligations. 54 A StudyInScarlet CHAPTER VI.A ContinuationOfTheReminiscencesOfJohnWatson, M.D.Our prisoner’s furious resistancedid not apparently indicate any ferocity in his disposition towards ourselves, for on ?nding himself power- less, he smiled in an affable manner, and expressed his hopes that he had not hurt any of us in the scuf?e. “I guess you’re going to take me to the police-station,” he remarked to Sherlock Holmes. “My cab’s at the door. If you’ll loose my legs I’ll walk down to it. I’m not so light to lift as I used to be.” Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances as if they thought this proposition rather a bold one; but Holmes at once took the prisoner at his word, and loosened the towel which we had bound round his ankles. He rose and stretched his legs, as though to assure himself that they were free once more. I remember that I thought to myself, as I eyed him, that I had seldom seen a more power- fully built man; and his dark sunburned face bore an expression of determination and energy which was as formidable as his personal strength. “If there’s a vacant place for a chief of the po- lice, I reckon you are the man for it,” he said, gazing with undisguised admiration at my fellow- lodger. “The way you kept on my trail was a cau- tion.” “You had better come with me,” said Holmes to the two detectives. “I can drive you,” said Lestrade. “Good! and Gregson can come inside with me. You too, Doctor, you have taken an interest in the case and may as well stick to us.” I assented gladly, and we all descended to- gether. Our prisoner made no attempt at escape, but stepped calmly into the cab which had been his, and we followed him. Lestrade mounted the box, whipped up the horse, and brought us in a very short time to our destination. We were ush- ered into a small chamber where a police Inspector noted down our prisoner’s name and the names of the men with whose murder he had been charged. The of?cial was a white-faced unemotional man, who went through his duties in a dull mechanical way. “The prisoner will be put before the mag- istrates in the course of the week,” he said; “in the mean time, Mr. Jefferson Hope, have you any- thing that you wish to say? I must warn you that your words will be taken down, and may be used against you.” “I’ve got a good deal to say,” our prisoner said slowly. “I want to tell you gentlemen all about it.” “Hadn’t you better reserve that for your trial?” asked the Inspector. “I may never be tried,” he answered. “You needn’t look startled. It isn’t suicide I am think- ing of. Are you a Doctor?” He turned his ?erce dark eyes upon me as he asked this last question. “Yes; I am,” I answered. “Then put your hand here,” he said, with a smile, motioning with his manacled wrists to- wards his chest. I did so; and became at once conscious of an ex- traordinary throbbing and commotion which was going on inside. The walls of his chest seemed to thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside when some powerful engine was at work. In the silence of the room I could hear a dull humming and buzzing noise which proceeded from the same source. “Why,” I cried, “you have an aortic aneurism!” “That’s what they call it,” he said, placidly. “I went to a Doctor last week about it, and he told me that it is bound to burst before many days passed. It has been getting worse for years. I got it from over-exposure and under-feeding among the Salt Lake Mountains. I’ve done my work now, and I don’t care how soon I go, but I should like to leave some account of the business behind me. I don’t want to be remembered as a common cut-throat.” The Inspector and the two detectives had a hur- ried discussion as to the advisability of allowing him to tell his story. “Do you consider, Doctor, that there is imme- diate danger?” the former asked. “Most certainly there is,” I answered. “In that case it is clearly our duty, in the in- terests of justice, to take his statement,” said the Inspector. “You are at liberty, sir, to give your account, which I again warn you will be taken down.” “I’ll sit down, with your leave,” the pris- oner said, suiting the action to the word. “This aneurism of mine makes me easily tired, and the tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended matters. I’m on the brink of the grave, and I am not likely to lie to you. Every word I say is the ab- solute truth, and how you use it is a matter of no consequence to me.” 55 A StudyInScarlet With these words, Jefferson Hope leaned back in his chair and began the following remarkable statement. He spoke in a calm and methodical manner, as though the events which he narrated were commonplace enough. I can vouch for the accuracy of the subjoined account, for I have had access to Lestrade’s note-book, in which the pris- oner’s words were taken down exactly as they were uttered. “It don’t much matter to you why I hated these men,” he said; “it’s enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings—a father and a daughter—and that they had, therefore, forfeited their own lives. After the lapse of time that has passed since their crime, it was impossible for me to secure a conviction against them in any court. I knew of their guilt though, and I determined that I should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. You’d have done the same, if you have any manhood in you, if you had been in my place. “That girl that I spoke of was to have married me twenty years ago. She was forced into marry- ing that same Drebber, and broke her heart over it. I took the marriage ring from her dead ?nger, and I vowed that his dying eyes should rest upon that very ring, and that his last thoughts should be of the crime for which he was punished. I have car- ried it about with me, and have followed him and his accomplice over two continents until I caught them. They thought to tire me out, but they could not do it. If I die to-morrow, as is likely enough, I die knowing that my work in this world is done, and well done. They have perished, and by my hand. There is nothing left for me to hope for, or to desire. “They were rich and I was poor, so that it was no easy matter for me to follow them. When I got to London my pocket was about empty, and I found that I must turn my hand to something for my living. Driving and riding are as natural to me as walking, so I applied at a cabowner’s of?ce, and soon got employment. I was to bring a certain sum a week to the owner, and whatever was over that I might keep for myself. There was seldom much over, but I managed to scrape along somehow. The hardest job was to learn my way about, for I reckon that of all the mazes that ever were contrived, this city is the most confusing. I had a map beside me though, and when once I had spotted the principal hotels and stations, I got on pretty well. “It was some time before I found out where my two gentlemen were living; but I inquired and in- quired until at last I dropped across them. They were at a boarding-house at Camberwell, over on the other side of the river. When once I found them out I knew that I had them at my mercy. I had grown my beard, and there was no chance of their recognizing me. I would dog them and follow them until I saw my opportunity. I was de- termined that they should not escape me again. “They were very near doing it for all that. Go where they would about London, I was always at their heels. Sometimes I followed them on my cab, and sometimes on foot, but the former was the best, for then they could not get away from me. It was only early in the morning or late at night that I could earn anything, so that I began to get be- hind hand with my employer. I did not mind that, however, as long as I could lay my hand upon the men I wanted. “They were very cunning, though. They must have thought that there was some chance of their being followed, for they would never go out alone, and never after nightfall. During two weeks I drove behind them every day, and never once saw them separate. Drebber himself was drunk half the time, but Stangerson was not to be caught nap- ping. I watched them late and early, but never saw the ghost of a chance; but I was not discouraged, for something told me that the hour had almost come. My only fear was that this thing in my chest might burst a little too soon and leave my work undone. “At last, one evening I was driving up and down Torquay Terrace, as the street was called in which they boarded, when I saw a cab drive up to their door. Presently some luggage was brought out, and after a time Drebber and Stangerson fol- lowed it, and drove off. I whipped up my horse and kept within sight of them, feeling very ill at ease, for I feared that they were going to shift their quarters. At Euston Station they got out, and I left a boy to hold my horse, and followed them on to the platform. I heard them ask for the Liverpool train, and the guard answer that one had just gone and there would not be another for some hours. Stangerson seemed to be put out at that, but Dreb- ber was rather pleased than otherwise. I got so close to them in the bustle that I could hear every word that passed between them. Drebber said that he had a little business of his own to do, and that if the other would wait for him he would soon re- join him. His companion remonstrated with him, and reminded him that they had resolved to stick together. Drebber answered that the matter was a delicate one, and that he must go alone. I could not catch what Stangerson said to that, but the other burst out swearing, and reminded him that he was 56 A StudyInScarlet nothing more than his paid servant, and that he must not presume to dictate to him. On that the Secretary gave it up as a bad job, and simply bar- gained with him that if he missed the last train he should rejoin him at Halliday’s Private Hotel; to which Drebber answered that he would be back on the platform before eleven, and made his way out of the station. “The moment for which I had waited so long had at last come. I had my enemies within my power. Together they could protect each other, but singly they were at my mercy. I did not act, however, with undue precipitation. My plans were already formed. There is no satisfaction in vengeance unless the offender has time to real- ize who it is that strikes him, and why retribu- tion has come upon him. I had my plans arranged by which I should have the opportunity of making the man who had wronged me understand that his old sin had found him out. It chanced that some days before a gentleman who had been engaged in looking over some houses in the Brixton Road had dropped the key of one of them in my carriage. It was claimed that same evening, and returned; but in the interval I had taken a moulding of it, and had a duplicate constructed. By means of this I had access to at least one spot in this great city where I could rely upon being free from interrup- tion. How to get Drebber to that house was the dif?cult problem which I had now to solve. “He walked down the road and went into one or two liquor shops, staying for nearly half-an- hour in the last of them. When he came out he staggered in his walk, and was evidently pretty well on. There was a hansom just in front of me, and he hailed it. I followed it so close that the nose of my horse was within a yard of his driver the whole way. We rattled across Waterloo Bridge and through miles of streets, until, to my astonish- ment, we found ourselves back in the Terrace in which he had boarded. I could not imagine what his intention was in returning there; but I went on and pulled up my cab a hundred yards or so from the house. He entered it, and his hansom drove away. Give me a glass of water, if you please. My mouth gets dry with the talking.” I handed him the glass, and he drank it down. “That’s better,” he said. “Well, I waited for a quarter of an hour, or more, when suddenly there came a noise like people struggling inside the house. Next moment the door was ?ung open and two men appeared, one of whom was Drebber, and the other was a young chap whom I had never seen before. This fellow had Drebber by the collar, and when they came to the head of the steps he gave him a shove and a kick which sent him half across the road. ‘You hound,’ he cried, shaking his stick at him; ‘I’ll teach you to insult an honest girl!’ He was so hot that I think he would have thrashed Drebber with his cudgel, only that the cur staggered away down the road as fast as his legs would carry him. He ran as far as the corner, and then, seeing my cab, he hailed me and jumped in. ‘Drive me to Halliday’s Private Hotel,’ said he. “When I had him fairly inside my cab, my heart jumped so with joy that I feared lest at this last mo- ment my aneurism might go wrong. I drove along slowly, weighing in my own mind what it was best to do. I might take him right out into the country, and there in some deserted lane have my last in- terview with him. I had almost decided upon this, when he solved the problem for me. The craze for drink had seized him again, and he ordered me to pull up outside a gin palace. He went in, leav- ing word that I should wait for him. There he re- mained until closing time, and when he came out he was so far gone that I knew the game was in my own hands. “Don’t imagine that I intended to kill him in cold blood. It would only have been rigid justice if I had done so, but I could not bring myself to do it. I had long determined that he should have a show for his life if he chose to take advantage of it. Among the many billets which I have ?lled in America during my wandering life, I was once janitor and sweeper out of the laboratory at York College. One day the professor was lecturing on poisons, and he showed his students some alka- loid, as he called it, which he had extracted from some South American arrow poison, and which was so powerful that the least grain meant instant death. I spotted the bottle in which this prepa- ration was kept, and when they were all gone, I helped myself to a little of it. I was a fairly good dispenser, so I worked this alkaloid into small, sol- uble pills, and each pill I put in a box with a sim- ilar pill made without the poison. I determined at the time that when I had my chance, my gentle- men should each have a draw out of one of these boxes, while I ate the pill that remained. It would be quite as deadly, and a good deal less noisy than ?ring across a handkerchief. From that day I had always my pill boxes about with me, and the time had now come when I was to use them. “It was nearer one than twelve, and a wild, bleak night, blowing hard and raining in torrents. Dismal as it was outside, I was glad within—so glad that I could have shouted out from pure exul- tation. If any of you gentlemen have ever pined for 57 A StudyInScarlet a thing, and longed for it during twenty long years, and then suddenly found it within your reach, you would understand my feelings. I lit a cigar, and puffed at it to steady my nerves, but my hands were trembling, and my temples throbbing with excitement. As I drove, I could see old John Ferrier and sweet Lucy looking at me out of the darkness and smiling at me, just as plain as I see you all in this room. All the way they were ahead of me, one on each side of the horse until I pulled up at the house in the Brixton Road. “There was not a soul to be seen, nor a sound to be heard, except the dripping of the rain. When I looked in at the window, I found Drebber all hud- dled together in a drunken sleep. I shook him by the arm, ‘It’s time to get out,’ I said. “ ‘All right, cabby,’ said he. “I suppose he thought we had come to the ho- tel that he had mentioned, for he got out without another word, and followed me down the garden. I had to walk beside him to keep him steady, for he was still a little top-heavy. When we came to the door, I opened it, and led him into the front room. I give you my word that all the way, the father and the daughter were walking in front of us. “ ‘It’s infernally dark,’ said he, stamping about. “ ‘We’ll soon have a light,’ I said, striking a match and putting it to a wax candle which I had brought with me. ‘Now, Enoch Drebber,’ I contin- ued, turning to him, and holding the light to my own face, ‘who am I?’ “He gazed at me with bleared, drunken eyes for a moment, and then I saw a horror spring up in them, and convulse his whole features, which showed me that he knew me. He staggered back with a livid face, and I saw the perspiration break out upon his brow, while his teeth chattered in his head. At the sight, I leaned my back against the door and laughed loud and long. I had always known that vengeance would be sweet, but I had never hoped for the contentment of soul which now possessed me. “ ‘You dog!’ I said; ‘I have hunted you from Salt Lake City to St. Petersburg, and you have al- ways escaped me. Now, at last your wanderings have come to an end, for either you or I shall never see to-morrow’s sun rise.’ He shrunk still further away as I spoke, and I could see on his face that he thought I was mad. So I was for the time. The pulses in my temples beat like sledge-hammers, and I believe I would have had a ?t of some sort if the blood had not gushed from my nose and re- lieved me. “ ‘What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now?’ I cried, locking the door, and shaking the key in his face. ‘Punishment has been slow in coming, but it has overtaken you at last.’ I saw his coward lips tremble as I spoke. He would have begged for his life, but he knew well that it was useless. “ ‘Would you murder me?’ he stammered. “ ‘There is no murder,’ I answered. ‘Who talks of murdering a mad dog? What mercy had you upon my poor darling, when you dragged her from her slaughtered father, and bore her away to your accursed and shameless harem.’ “ ‘It was not I who killed her father,’ he cried. “ ‘But it was you who broke her innocent heart,’ I shrieked, thrusting the box before him. ‘Let the high God judge between us. Choose and eat. There is death in one and life in the other. I shall take what you leave. Let us see if there is justice upon the earth, or if we are ruled by chance.’ “He cowered away with wild cries and prayers for mercy, but I drew my knife and held it to his throat until he had obeyed me. Then I swallowed the other, and we stood facing one another in si- lence for a minute or more, waiting to see which was to live and which was to die. Shall I ever for- get the look which came over his face when the ?rst warning pangs told him that the poison was in his system? I laughed as I saw it, and held Lucy’s marriage ring in front of his eyes. It was but for a moment, for the action of the alkaloid is rapid. A spasm of pain contorted his features; he threw his hands out in front of him, staggered, and then, with a hoarse cry, fell heavily upon the ?oor. I turned him over with my foot, and placed my hand upon his heart. There was no movement. He was dead! “The blood had been streaming from my nose, but I had taken no notice of it. I don’t know what it was that put it into my head to write upon the wall with it. Perhaps it was some mischievous idea of setting the police upon a wrong track, for I felt light-hearted and cheerful. I remembered a Ger- man being found in New York with RACHE writ- ten up above him, and it was argued at the time in the newspapers that the secret societies must have done it. I guessed that what puzzled the New Yorkers would puzzle the Londoners, so I dipped my ?nger in my own blood and printed it on a convenient place on the wall. Then I walked down to my cab and found that there was nobody about, and that the night was still very wild. I had driven some distance when I put my hand into the pocket in which I usually kept Lucy’s ring, and found that it was not there. I was thunderstruck at this, for it 58 A StudyInScarlet was the only memento that I had of her. Thinking that I might have dropped it when I stooped over Drebber’s body, I drove back, and leaving my cab in a side street, I went boldly up to the house—for I was ready to dare anything rather than lose the ring. When I arrived there, I walked right into the arms of a police-of?cer who was coming out, and only managed to disarm his suspicions by pre- tending to be hopelessly drunk. “That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end. All I had to do then was to do as much for Stanger- son, and so pay off John Ferrier’s debt. I knew that he was staying at Halliday’s Private Hotel, and I hung about all day, but he never came out. I fancy that he suspected something when Drebber failed to put in an appearance. He was cunning, was Stangerson, and always on his guard. If he thought he could keep me off by staying indoors he was very much mistaken. I soon found out which was the window of his bedroom, and early next morn- ing I took advantage of some ladders which were lying in the lane behind the hotel, and so made my way into his room in the grey of the dawn. I woke him up and told him that the hour had come when he was to answer for the life he had taken so long before. I described Drebber’s death to him, and I gave him the same choice of the poisoned pills. Instead of grasping at the chance of safety which that offered him, he sprang from his bed and ?ew at my throat. In self-defence I stabbed him to the heart. It would have been the same in any case, for Providence would never have allowed his guilty hand to pick out anything but the poison. “I have little more to say, and it’s as well, for I am about done up. I went on cabbing it for a day or so, intending to keep at it until I could save enough to take me back to America. I was stand- ing in the yard when a ragged youngster asked if there was a cabby there called Jefferson Hope, and said that his cab was wanted by a gentleman at221b, Baker Street. I went round, suspecting no harm, and the next thing I knew, this young man here had the bracelets on my wrists, and as neatly snackled as ever I saw in my life. That’s the whole of my story, gentlemen. You may consider me to be a murderer; but I hold that I am just as much an of?cer of justice as you are.” So thrilling had the man’s narrative been, and his manner was so impressive that we had sat silent and absorbed. Even the professional detec- tives,blaseas they were in every detail of crime, ap- peared to be keenly interested in the man’s story. When he ?nished we sat for some minutes in a stillness which was only broken by the scratch- ing of Lestrade’s pencil as he gave the ?nishing touches to his shorthand account. “There is only one point on which I should like a little more information,” Sherlock Holmes said at last. “Who was your accomplice who came for the ring which I advertised?” The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely. “I can tell my own secrets,” he said, “but I don’t get other people into trouble. I saw your advertise- ment, and I thought it might be a plant, or it might be the ring which I wanted. My friend volunteered to go and see. I think you’ll own he did it smartly.” “Not a doubt of that,” said Holmes heartily. “Now, gentlemen,” the Inspector remarked gravely, “the forms of the law must be complied with. On Thursday the prisoner will be brought before the magistrates, and your attendance will be required. Until then I will be responsible for him.” He rang the bell as he spoke, and Jefferson Hope was led off by a couple of warders, while my friend and I made our way out of the Station and took a cab back to Baker Street.CHAPTER VII.TheConclusionWe had all been warnedto appear before the magistrates upon the Thursday; but when the Thursday came there was no occasion for our tes- timony. A higher Judge had taken the matter in hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned be- fore a tribunal where strict justice would be meted out to him. On the very night after his capture the aneurism burst, and he was found in the morning 59 A StudyInScarlet stretched upon the ?oor of the cell, with a placid smile upon his face, as though he had been able in his dying moments to look back upon a useful life, and on work well done. “Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death,” Holmes remarked, as we chatted it over next evening. “Where will their grand advertise- ment be now?” “I don’t see that they had very much to do with his capture,” I answered. “What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence,” returned my companion, bitterly. “The question is, what can you make people be- lieve that you have done. Never mind,” he con- tinued, more brightly, after a pause. “I would not have missed the investigation for anything. There has been no better case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there were several most instruc- tive points about it.” “Simple!” I ejaculated. “Well, really, it can hardly be described as oth- erwise,” said Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my sur- prise. “The proof of its intrinsic simplicity is, that without any help save a few very ordinary deduc- tions I was able to lay my hand upon the criminal within three days.” “That is true,” said I. “I have already explained to you that what is out of the common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are ?fty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically.” “I confess,” said I, “that I do not quite follow you.” “I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you de- scribe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events to- gether in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few peo- ple, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner conscious- ness what the steps were which led up to that re- sult. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically.” “I understand,” said I. “Now this was a case in which you were given the result and had to ?nd everything else for your- self. Now let me endeavour to show you the dif- ferent steps in my reasoning. To begin at the be- ginning. I approached the house, as you know, on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all impressions. I naturally began by examining the roadway, and there, as I have already explained to you, I saw clearly the marks of a cab, which, I as- certained by inquiry, must have been there during the night. I satis?ed myself that it was a cab and not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the wheels. The ordinary London growler is consider- ably less wide than a gentleman’s brougham. “This was the ?rst point gained. I then walked slowly down the garden path, which happened to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly suitable for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared to you to be a mere trampled line of slush, but to my trained eyes every mark upon its surface had a meaning. There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps. Happily, I have always laid great stress upon it, and much practice has made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy foot- marks of the constables, but I saw also the track of the two men who had ?rst passed through the garden. It was easy to tell that they had been before the others, because in places their marks had been entirely obliterated by the others com- ing upon the top of them. In this way my second link was formed, which told me that the noctur- nal visitors were two in number, one remarkable for his height (as I calculated from the length of his stride), and the other fashionably dressed, to judge from the small and elegant impression left by his boots. “On entering the house this last inference was con?rmed. My well-booted man lay before me. The tall one, then, had done the murder, if murder there was. There was no wound upon the dead man’s person, but the agitated expression upon his face assured me that he had foreseen his fate be- fore it came upon him. Men who die from heart disease, or any sudden natural cause, never by any chance exhibit agitation upon their features. Hav- ing sniffed the dead man’s lips I detected a slightly sour smell, and I came to the conclusion that he had had poison forced upon him. Again, I argued that it had been forced upon him from the hatred and fear expressed upon his face. By the method of exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other hypothesis would meet the facts. Do not imagine that it was a very unheard of idea. The forcible ad- ministration of poison is by no means a new thing 60 A StudyInScarlet in criminal annals. The cases of Dolsky in Odessa, and of Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once to any toxicologist. “And now came the great question as to the reason why. Robbery had not been the object of the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it poli- tics, then, or was it a woman? That was the ques- tion which confronted me. I was inclined from the ?rst to the latter supposition. Political assassins are only too glad to do their work and to ?y. This murder had, on the contrary, been done most de- liberately, and the perpetrator had left his tracks all over the room, showing that he had been there all the time. It must have been a private wrong, and not a political one, which called for such a method- ical revenge. When the inscription was discovered upon the wall I was more inclined than ever to my opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind. When the ring was found, however, it settled the question. Clearly the murderer had used it to re- mind his victim of some dead or absent woman. It was at this point that I asked Gregson whether he had enquired in his telegram to Cleveland as to any particular point in Mr. Drebber’s former ca- reer. He answered, you remember, in the negative. “I then proceeded to make a careful examina- tion of the room, which con?rmed me in my opin- ion as to the murderer’s height, and furnished me with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly cigar and the length of his nails. I had already come to the conclusion, since there were no signs of a struggle, that the blood which covered the ?oor had burst from the murderer’s nose in his ex- citement. I could perceive that the track of blood coincided with the track of his feet. It is sel- dom that any man, unless he is very full-blooded, breaks out in this way through emotion, so I haz- arded the opinion that the criminal was probably a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved that I had judged correctly. “Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson had neglected. I telegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland, limiting my enquiry to the circumstances connected with the marriage of Enoch Drebber. The answer was conclusive. It told me that Drebber had already applied for the protection of the law against an old rival in love, named Jefferson Hope, and that this same Hope was at present in Europe. I knew now that I held the clue to the mystery in my hand, and all that remained was to secure the murderer. “I had already determined in my own mind that the man who had walked into the house with Drebber, was none other than the man who had driven the cab. The marks in the road showed me that the horse had wandered on in a way which would have been impossible had there been any- one in charge of it. Where, then, could the driver be, unless he were inside the house? Again, it is absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it were, of a third person, who was sure to betray him. Lastly, supposing one man wished to dog another through London, what better means could he adopt than to turn cabdriver. All these consid- erations led me to the irresistible conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarveys of the Metropolis. “If he had been one there was no reason to be- lieve that he had ceased to be. On the contrary, from his point of view, any sudden chance would be likely to draw attention to himself. He would, probably, for a time at least, continue to perform his duties. There was no reason to suppose that he was going under an assumed name. Why should he change his name in a country where no one knew his original one? I therefore organized my Street Arab detective corps, and sent them sys- tematically to every cab proprietor in London un- til they ferreted out the man that I wanted. How well they succeeded, and how quickly I took ad- vantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection. The murder of Stangerson was an incident which was entirely unexpected, but which could hardly in any case have been prevented. Through it, as you know, I came into possession of the pills, the existence of which I had already surmised. You see the whole thing is a chain of logical sequences without a break or ?aw.” “It is wonderful!” I cried. “Your merits should be publicly recognized. You should publish an ac- count of the case. If you won’t, I will for you.” “You may do what you like, Doctor,” he an- swered. “See here!” he continued, handing a paper over to me, “look at this!” It was theEchofor the day, and the paragraph to which he pointed was devoted to the case in question. “The public,” it said, “have lost a sensational treat through the sudden death of the man Hope, who was suspected of the murder of Mr. Enoch Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The de- tails of the case will probably be never known now, though we are informed upon good authority that the crime was the result of an old standing and ro- mantic feud, in which love and Mormonism bore a part. It seems that both the victims belonged, in their younger days, to the Latter Day Saints, and 61 Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt Lake City. If the case has had no other effect, it, at least, brings out in the most striking manner the ef?ciency of our detective police force, and will serve as a lesson to all foreigners that they will do wisely to settle their feuds at home, and not to carry them on to British soil. It is an open se- cret that the credit of this smart capture belongs entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard of?cials, Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was ap- prehended, it appears, in the rooms of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has himself, as an am- ateur, shown some talent in the detective line, and who, with such instructors, may hope in time to attain to some degree of their skill. It is expected that a testimonial of some sort will be presented to the two of?cers as a ?tting recognition of their services.” “Didn’t I tell you so when we started?” cried Sherlock Holmes with a laugh. “That’s the result of all our Study in Scarlet: to get them a testimo- nial!” “Never mind,” I answered, “I have all the facts in my journal, and the public shall know them. In the meantime you must make yourself contented by the consciousness of success, like the Roman miser—“ ‘Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.’ ” The Sign of the Four TheSign of theFour Table of contentsThe Science of Deduction . . . . . . . . .67The Statement of the Case . . . . . . . .70In Quest of a Solution . . . . . . . . . . . .73The Story of the Bald-Headed Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration. . . . . . . . . . . .82The Episode of the Barrel . . . . . . . . .86The Baker Street Irregulars . . . . . . .91A Break in the Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . .95The End of the Islander. . . . . . . . . . .100The Great Agra Treasure. . . . . . . . . .103The Strange Story of Jonathan Small . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .106 65 TheSign of theFour CHAPTER I.TheScience ofDeductionSherlockHolmes tookhis bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece and his hy- podermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous ?n- gers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumer- able puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction. Three times a day for many months I had wit- nessed this performance, but custom had not rec- onciled my mind to it. On the contrary, from day to day I had become more irritable at the sight, and my conscience swelled nightly within me at the thought that I had lacked the courage to protest. Again and again I had registered a vow that I should deliver my soul upon the subject, but there was that in the cool, nonchalant air of my com- panion which made him the last man with whom one would care to take anything approaching to a liberty. His great powers, his masterly manner, and the experience which I had had of his many extraordinary qualities, all made me dif?dent and backward in crossing him. Yet upon that afternoon, whether it was the Beaune which I had taken with my lunch, or the additional exasperation produced by the extreme deliberation of his manner, I suddenly felt that I could hold out no longer. “Which is it to-day?” I asked,—“morphine or cocaine?” He raised his eyes languidly from the old black-letter volume which he had opened. “It is cocaine,” he said,—“a seven-per-cent solution. Would you care to try it?” “No, indeed,” I answered, brusquely. “My con- stitution has not got over the Afghan campaign yet. I cannot afford to throw any extra strain upon it.” He smiled at my vehemence. “Perhaps you are right, Watson,” he said. “I suppose that its in?u- ence is physically a bad one. I ?nd it, however, so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the mind that its secondary action is a matter of small moment.” “But consider!” I said, earnestly. “Count the cost! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and ex- cited, but it is a pathological and morbid process, which involves increased tissue-change and may at last leave a permanent weakness. You know, too, what a black reaction comes upon you. Surely the game is hardly worth the candle. Why should you, for a mere passing pleasure, risk the loss of those great powers with which you have been endowed? Remember that I speak not only as one comrade to another, but as a medical man to one for whose constitution he is to some extent answerable.” He did not seem offended. On the contrary, he put his ?ngertips together and leaned his elbows on the arms of his chair, like one who has a relish for conversation. “My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most ab- struse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dis- pense then with arti?cial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own par- ticular profession,—or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.” “The only unof?cial detective?” I said, raising my eyebrows. “The only unof?cial consulting detective,” he answered. “I am the last and highest court of ap- peal in detection. When Gregson or Lestrade or Athelney Jones are out of their depths—which, by the way, is their normal state—the matter is laid before me. I examine the data, as an expert, and pronounce a specialist’s opinion. I claim no credit in such cases. My name ?gures in no newspa- per. The work itself, the pleasure of ?nding a ?eld for my peculiar powers, is my highest reward. But you have yourself had some experience of my methods of work in the Jefferson Hope case.” “Yes, indeed,” said I, cordially. “I was never so struck by anything in my life. I even embodied it in a small brochure with the somewhat fantastic title of ‘A Study in Scarlet.’ ” He shook his head sadly. “I glanced over it,” said he. “Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and un- emotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elope- ment into the ?fth proposition of Euclid.” “But the romance was there,” I remonstrated. “I could not tamper with the facts.” 67 TheSign of theFour “Some facts should be suppressed, or at least a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical rea- soning from effects to causes by which I succeeded in unraveling it.” I was annoyed at this criticism of a work which had been specially designed to please him. I con- fess, too, that I was irritated by the egotism which seemed to demand that every line of my pamphlet should be devoted to his own special doings. More than once during the years that I had lived with him in Baker Street I had observed that a small vanity underlay my companion’s quiet and didac- tic manner. I made no remark, however, but sat nursing my wounded leg. I had a Jezail bullet through it some time before, and, though it did not prevent me from walking, it ached wearily at every change of the weather. “My practice has extended recently to the Con- tinent,” said Holmes, after a while, ?lling up his old brier-root pipe. “I was consulted last week by Francois Le Villard, who, as you probably know, has come rather to the front lately in the French de- tective service. He has all the Celtic power of quick intuition, but he is de?cient in the wide range of exact knowledge which is essential to the higher developments of his art. The case was concerned with a will, and possessed some features of inter- est. I was able to refer him to two parallel cases, the one at Riga in1857, and the other at St. Louis in1871, which have suggested to him the true so- lution. Here is the letter which I had this morning acknowledging my assistance.” He tossed over, as he spoke, a crumpled sheet of foreign notepaper. I glanced my eyes down it, catching a profusion of notes of admiration, with straymagni?ques, coup- de-ma ˆ itresandtours-de-force,all testifying to the ar- dent admiration of the Frenchman. “He speaks as a pupil to his master,” said I. “Oh, he rates my assistance too highly,” said Sherlock Holmes, lightly. “He has considerable gifts himself. He possesses two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has the power of observation and that of deduction. He is only wanting in knowledge; and that may come in time. He is now translating my small works into French.” “Your works?” “Oh, didn’t you know?” he cried, laughing. “Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for example, is one‘Upon the Distinction between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccoes.’In it I enumerate a hundred and forty forms of cigar-, cigarette-, and pipe-tobacco, with colored plates illustrating the difference in the ash. It is a point which is con- tinually turning up in criminal trials, and which is sometimes of supreme importance as a clue. If you can say de?nitely, for example, that some mur- der has been done by a man who was smoking an Indianlunkah, it obviously narrows your ?eld of search. To the trained eye there is as much differ- ence between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and the white ?uff of bird’s-eye as there is between a cabbage and a potato.” “You have an extraordinary genius for minu- tiae,” I remarked. “I appreciate their importance. Here is my monograph upon the tracing of footsteps, with some remarks upon the uses of plaster of Paris as a preserver of impresses. Here, too, is a cu- rious little work upon the in?uence of a trade upon the form of the hand, with lithotypes of the hands of slaters, sailors, corkcutters, compositors, weavers, and diamond-polishers. That is a mat- ter of great practical interest to the scienti?c detec- tive,—especially in cases of unclaimed bodies, or in discovering the antecedents of criminals. But I weary you with my hobby.” “Not at all,” I answered, earnestly. “It is of the greatest interest to me, especially since I have had the opportunity of observing your practical appli- cation of it. But you spoke just now of observation and deduction. Surely the one to some extent im- plies the other.” “Why, hardly,” he answered, leaning back lux- uriously in his armchair, and sending up thick blue wreaths from his pipe. “For example, observa- tion shows me that you have been to the Wigmore Street Post-Of?ce this morning, but deduction lets me know that when there you dispatched a tele- gram.” “Right!” said I. “Right on both points! But I confess that I don’t see how you arrived at it. It was a sudden impulse upon my part, and I have mentioned it to no one.” “It is simplicity itself,” he remarked, chuckling at my surprise,—“so absurdly simple that an ex- planation is super?uous; and yet it may serve to de?ne the limits of observation and of deduction. Observation tells me that you have a little reddish mould adhering to your instep. Just opposite the Seymour Street Of?ce they have taken up the pave- ment and thrown up some earth which lies in such a way that it is dif?cult to avoid treading in it in entering. The earth is of this peculiar reddish tint which is found, as far as I know, nowhere else in 68 TheSign of theFour the neighborhood. So much is observation. The rest is deduction.” “How, then, did you deduce the telegram?” “Why, of course I knew that you had not writ- ten a letter, since I sat opposite to you all morning. I see also in your open desk there that you have a sheet of stamps and a thick bundle of postcards. What could you go into the post-of?ce for, then, but to send a wire? Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” “In this case it certainly is so,” I replied, after a little thought. “The thing, however, is, as you say, of the simplest. Would you think me impertinent if I were to put your theories to a more severe test?” “On the contrary,” he answered, “it would pre- vent me from taking a second dose of cocaine. I should be delighted to look into any problem which you might submit to me.” “I have heard you say that it is dif?cult for a man to have any object in daily use without leav- ing the impress of his individuality upon it in such a way that a trained observer might read it. Now, I have here a watch which has recently come into my possession. Would you have the kindness to let me have an opinion upon the character or habits of the late owner?” I handed him over the watch with some slight feeling of amusement in my heart, for the test was, as I thought, an impossible one, and I in- tended it as a lesson against the somewhat dog- matic tone which he occasionally assumed. He balanced the watch in his hand, gazed hard at the dial, opened the back, and examined the works, ?rst with his naked eyes and then with a power- ful convex lens. I could hardly keep from smiling at his crestfallen face when he ?nally snapped the case to and handed it back. “There are hardly any data,” he remarked. “The watch has been recently cleaned, which robs me of my most suggestive facts.” “You are right,” I answered. “It was cleaned be- fore being sent to me.” In my heart I accused my companion of putting forward a most lame and impotent excuse to cover his failure. What data could he expect from an uncleaned watch? “Though unsatisfactory, my research has not been entirely barren,” he observed, staring up at the ceiling with dreamy, lack-lustre eyes. “Subject to your correction, I should judge that the watch belonged to your elder brother, who inherited it from your father.” “That you gather, no doubt, from the H. W. upon the back?” “Quite so. The W. suggests your own name. The date of the watch is nearly ?fty years back, and the initials are as old as the watch: so it was made for the last generation. Jewelry usually de- scents to the eldest son, and he is most likely to have the same name as the father. Your father has, if I remember right, been dead many years. It has, therefore, been in the hands of your eldest brother.” “Right, so far,” said I. “Anything else?” “He was a man of untidy habits,—very untidy and careless. He was left with good prospects, but he threw away his chances, lived for some time in poverty with occasional short intervals of prosper- ity, and ?nally, taking to drink, he died. That is all I can gather.” I sprang from my chair and limped impatiently about the room with considerable bitterness in my heart. “This is unworthy of you, Holmes,” I said. “I could not have believed that you would have de- scended to this. You have made inquires into the history of my unhappy brother, and you now pre- tend to deduce this knowledge in some fanciful way. You cannot expect me to believe that you have read all this from his old watch! It is unkind, and, to speak plainly, has a touch of charlatanism in it.” “My dear doctor,” said he, kindly, “pray accept my apologies. Viewing the matter as an abstract problem, I had forgotten how personal and painful a thing it might be to you. I assure you, however, that I never even know that you had a brother until you handed me the watch.” “Then how in the name of all that is wonder- ful did you get these facts? They are absolutely correct in every particular.” “Ah, that is good luck. I could only say what was the balance of probability. I did not at all ex- pect to be so accurate.“ “But it was not mere guess-work?” “No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty. What seems strange to you is only so because you do not follow my train of thought or observe the small facts upon which large inferences may depend. For example, I began by stating that your brother was careless. When you observe the lower part of that watch-case you notice that it is not only dinted in two places, but it is cut and marked all over from the habit of keeping other hard objects, such as coins or keys, in the same pocket. Surely it is no great feat to assume that a man who treats a ?fty-guinea watch so cavalierly must be a care- less man. Neither is it a very far-fetched inference 69 TheSign of theFour that a man who inherits one article of such value is pretty well provided for in other respects.” I nodded, to show that I followed his reasoning. “It is very customary for pawnbrokers in Eng- land, when they take a watch, to scratch the num- ber of the ticket with a pin-point upon the inside of the case. It is more handy than a label, as there is no risk of the number being lost or transposed. There are no less than four such numbers visible to my lens on the inside of this case. Inference,—that your brother was often at low water. Secondary inference,—that he had occasional bursts of pros- perity, or he could not have redeemed the pledge. Finally, I ask you to look at the inner plate, which contains the key-hole. Look at the thousands of scratches all round the hole,—marks where the key has slipped. What sober man’s key could have scored those grooves? But you will never see a drunkard’s watch without them. He winds it at night, and he leaves these traces of his unsteady hand. Where is the mystery in all this?” “It is as clear as daylight,” I answered. “I re- gret the injustice which I did you. I should have had more faith in your marvellous faculty. May I ask whether you have any professional inquiry on foot at present?” “None. Hence the cocaine. I cannot live with- out brain-work. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary, dismal, unpro?table world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the duncolored houses. What could be more hope- lessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, doctor, when one has no ?eld upon which to exert them? Crime is commonplace, exis- tence is commonplace, and no qualities save those which are commonplace have any function upon earth.” I had opened my mouth to reply to this tirade, when with a crisp knock our landlady entered, bearing a card upon the brass salver. “A young lady for you, sir,” she said, address- ing my companion. “Miss Mary Morstan,” he read. “Hum! I have no recollection of the name. Ask the young lady to step up, Mrs. Hudson. Don’t go, doctor. I should prefer that you remain.”CHAPTER II.TheStatement of theCaseMissMorstanentered the room with a ?rm step and an outward composure of manner. She was a blonde young lady, small, dainty, well gloved, and dressed in the most perfect taste. There was, however, a plainness and simplicity about her costume which bore with it a sugges- tion of limited means. The dress was a sombre grayish beige, untrimmed and unbraided, and she wore a small turban of the same dull hue, re- lieved only by a suspicion of white feather in the side. Her face had neither regularity of feature nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were singularly spiritual and sympathetic. In an experi- ence of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a re- ?ned and sensitive nature. I could not but observe that as she took the seat which Sherlock Holmes placed for her, her lip trembled, her hand quiv- ered, and she showed every sign of intense inward agitation. “I have come to you, Mr. Holmes,” she said, “because you once enabled my employer, Mrs. Ce- cil Forrester, to unravel a little domestic complica- tion. She was much impressed by your kindness and skill.” “Mrs. Cecil Forrester,” he repeated thought- fully. “I believe that I was of some slight service to her. The case, however, as I remember it, was a very simple one.” “She did not think so. But at least you cannot say the same of mine. I can hardly imagine any- thing more strange, more utterly inexplicable, than the situation in which I ?nd myself.” Holmes rubbed his hands, and his eyes glis- tened. He leaned forward in his chair with an ex- pression of extraordinary concentration upon his 70 TheSign of theFour clear-cut, hawklike features. “State your case,” said he, in brisk, business tones. I felt that my position was an embarrassing one. “You will, I am sure, excuse me,” I said, rising from my chair. To my surprise, the young lady held up her gloved hand to detain me. “If your friend,” she said, “would be good enough to stop, he might be of inestimable service to me.” I relapsed into my chair. “Brie?y,” she continued, “the facts are these. My father was an of?cer in an Indian regiment who sent me home when I was quite a child. My mother was dead, and I had no relative in England. I was placed, however, in a comfortable boarding establishment at Edinburgh, and there I remained until I was seventeen years of age. In the year1878my father, who was senior captain of his regiment, obtained twelve months’ leave and came home. He telegraphed to me from London that he had ar- rived all safe, and directed me to come down at once, giving the Langham Hotel as his address. His message, as I remember, was full of kindness and love. On reaching London I drove to the Lang- ham, and was informed that Captain Morstan was staying there, but that he had gone out the night before and had not yet returned. I waited all day without news of him. That night, on the advice of the manager of the hotel, I communicated with the police, and next morning we advertised in all the papers. Our inquiries let to no result; and from that day to this no word has ever been heard of my unfortunate father. He came home with his heart full of hope, to ?nd some peace, some comfort, and instead—” She put her hand to her throat, and a choking sob cut short the sentence. “The date?” asked Holmes, opening his note- book. “He disappeared upon the3d of December,1878,—nearly ten years ago.” “His luggage?” “Remained at the hotel. There was nothing in it to suggest a clue,—some clothes, some books, and a considerable number of curiosities from the Andaman Islands. He had been one of the of?cers in charge of the convict-guard there.” “Had he any friends in town?” “Only one that we know of,—Major Sholto, of his own regiment, the34th Bombay Infantry. The major had retired some little time before, and lived at Upper Norwood. We communicated with him, of course, but he did not even know that his brother of?cer was in England.” “A singular case,” remarked Holmes. “I have not yet described to you the most sin- gular part. About six years ago—to be exact, upon the4th of May,1882—an advertisement appeared in theTimesasking for the address of Miss Mary Morstan and stating that it would be to her ad- vantage to come forward. There was no name or address appended. I had at that time just entered the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester in the capacity of governess. By her advice I published my ad- dress in the advertisement column. The same day there arrived through the post a small card-board box addressed to me, which I found to contain a very large and lustrous pearl. No word of writing was enclosed. Since then every year upon the same date there has always appeared a similar box, con- taining a similar pearl, without any clue as to the sender. They have been pronounced by an expert to be of a rare variety and of considerable value. You can see for yourselves that they are very hand- some.” She opened a ?at box as she spoke, and showed me six of the ?nest pearls that I had ever seen. “Your statement is most interesting,” said Sher- lock Holmes. “Has anything else occurred to you?” “Yes, and no later than to-day. That is why I have come to you. This morning I received this letter, which you will perhaps read for yourself.” “Thank you,” said Holmes. “The envelope too, please. Postmark, London, S.W. Date, July7. Hum! Man’s thumb-mark on corner,—probably postman. Best quality paper. Envelopes at six- pence a packet. Particular man in his stationery. No address. ‘Be at the third pillar from the left out- side the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o’clock. If you are distrustful, bring two friends. You are a wronged woman, and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.’ Well, really, this is a very pretty little mystery. What do you intend to do, Miss Morstan?” “That is exactly what I want to ask you.” “Then we shall most certainly go. You and I and—yes, why, Dr. Watson is the very man. Your correspondent says two friends. He and I have worked together before.” “But would he come?” she asked, with some- thing appealing in her voice and expression. “I should be proud and happy,” said I, fer- vently, “if I can be of any service.” “You are both very kind,” she answered. “I have led a retired life, and have no friends whom 71 TheSign of theFour I could appeal to. If I am here at six it will do, I suppose?” “You must not be later,” said Holmes. “There is one other point, however. Is this handwriting the same as that upon the pearl-box addresses?” “I have them here,” she answered, producing half a dozen pieces of paper. “You are certainly a model client. You have the correct intuition. Let us see, now.” He spread out the papers upon the table, and gave little darting glances from one to the other. “They are disguised hands, except the letter,” he said, presently, “but there can be no question as to the authorship. See how the irrepressible Greek e will break out, and see the twirl of the ?nal s. They are undoubtedly by the same person. I should not like to suggest false hopes, Miss Morstan, but is there any resem- blance between this hand and that of your father?” “Nothing could be more unlike.” “I expected to hear you say so. We shall look out for you, then, at six. Pray allow me to keep the papers. I may look into the matter before then. It is only half-past three. Au revoir, then.” “Au revoir,” said our visitor, and, with a bright, kindly glance from one to the other of us, she re- placed her pearl-box in her bosom and hurried away. Standing at the window, I watched her walk- ing briskly down the street, until the gray turban and white feather were but a speck in the sombre crowd. “What a very attractive woman!” I exclaimed, turning to my companion. He had lit his pipe again, and was leaning back with drooping eyelids. “Is she?” he said, lan- guidly. “I did not observe.” “You really are an automaton,—a calculating- machine!” I cried. “There is something positively inhuman in you at times.” He smiled gently. “It is of the ?rst importance,” he said, “not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit,—a factor in a problem. The emotional qual- ities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellant man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the Lon- don poor.” “In this case, however—” “I never make exceptions. An exception dis- proves the rule. Have you ever had occasion to study character in handwriting? What do you make of this fellow’s scribble?” “It is legible and regular,” I answered. “A man of business habits and some force of character.” Holmes shook his head. “Look at his long let- ters,” he said. “They hardly rise above the com- mon herd. Thatdmight be ana, and thatlane. Men of character always differentiate their long letters, however illegibly they may write. There is vacillation in hisk’s and self-esteem in his capitals. I am going out now. I have some few references to make. Let me recommend this book,—one of the most remarkable ever penned. It is Winwood Reade’sMartyrdom of Man. I shall be back in an hour.” I sat in the window with the volume in my hand, but my thoughts were far from the daring speculations of the writer. My mind ran upon our late visitor,—her smiles, the deep rich tones of her voice, the strange mystery which overhung her life. If she were seventeen at the time of her father’s disappearance she must be seven-and- twenty now,—a sweet age, when youth has lost its self-consciousness and become a little sobered by experience. So I sat and mused, until such dan- gerous thoughts came into my head that I hur- ried away to my desk and plunged furiously into the latest treatise upon pathology. What was I, an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker banking-account, that I should dare to think of such things? She was a unit, a factor,—nothing more. If my future were black, it was better surely to face it like a man than to attempt to brighten it by mere will-o’-the-wisps of the imagination. 72 TheSign of theFour CHAPTER III.InQuest of aSolutionIt was half-past ?ve before Holmes returned. He was bright, eager, and in excellent spirits,—a mood which in his case alternated with ?ts of the blackest depression. “There is no great mystery in this matter,” he said, taking the cup of tea which I had poured out for him. “The facts appear to admit of only one explanation.” “What! you have solved it already?” “Well, that would be too much to say. I have discovered a suggestive fact, that is all. It is, how- ever,verysuggestive. The details are still to be added. I have just found, on consulting the back ?les of theTimes, that Major Sholto, of Upper Nor- word, late of the34th Bombay Infantry, died upon the28th of April,1882.” “I may be very obtuse, Holmes, but I fail to see what this suggests.” “No? You surprise me. Look at it in this way, then. Captain Morstan disappears. The only per- son in London whom he could have visited is Ma- jor Sholto. Major Sholto denies having heard that he was in London. Four years later Sholto dies.Within a week of his deathCaptain Morstan’s daugh- ter receives a valuable present, which is repeated from year to year, and now culminates in a letter which describes her as a wronged woman. What wrong can it refer to except this deprivation of her father? And why should the presents begin immediately after Sholto’s death, unless it is that Sholto’s heir knows something of the mystery and desires to make compensation? Have you any al- ternative theory which will meet the facts?” “But what a strange compensation! And how strangely made! Why, too, should he write a letter now, rather than six years ago? Again, the letter speaks of giving her justice. What justice can she have? It is too much to suppose that her father is still alive. There is no other injustice in her case that you know of.” “There are dif?culties; there are certainly dif- ?culties,” said Sherlock Holmes, pensively. “But our expedition of to-night will solve them all. Ah, here is a four-wheeler, and Miss Morstan is inside. Are you all ready? Then we had better go down, for it is a little past the hour.” I picked up my hat and my heaviest stick, but I observed that Holmes took his revolver from his drawer and slipped it into his pocket. It was clear that he thought that our night’s work might be a serious one. Miss Morstan was muf?ed in a dark cloak, and her sensitive face was composed, but pale. She must have been more than woman if she did not feel some uneasiness at the strange enter- prise upon which we were embarking, yet her self- control was perfect, and she readily answered the few additional questions which Sherlock Holmes put to her. “Major Sholto was a very particular friend of papa’s,” she said. “His letters were full of allu- sions to the major. He and papa were in command of the troops at the Andaman Islands, so they were thrown a great deal together. By the way, a curi- ous paper was found in papa’s desk which no one could understand. I don’t suppose that it is of the slightest importance, but I thought you might care to see it, so I brought it with me. It is here.” Holmes unfolded the paper carefully and smoothed it out upon his knee. He then very methodically examined it all over with his double lens. “It is paper of native Indian manufacture,” he remarked. “It has at some time been pinned to a board. The diagram upon it appears to be a plan of part of a large building with numerous halls, cor- ridors, and passages. At one point is a small cross done in red ink, and above it is ‘3.37from left,’ in faded pencil-writing. In the left-hand corner is a curious hieroglyphic like four crosses in a line with their arms touching. Beside it is written, in very rough and coarse characters, ‘The sign of the four,—Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, Dost Akbar.’ No, I confess that I do not see how this bears upon the matter. Yet it is evidently a document of importance. It has been kept care- fully in a pocket-book; for the one side is as clean as the other.” “It was in his pocket-book that we found it.” “Preserve it carefully, then, Miss Morstan, for it may prove to be of use to us. I begin to suspect that this matter may turn out to be much deeper and more subtle than I at ?rst supposed. I must reconsider my ideas.” He leaned back in the cab, and I could see by his drawn brow and his vacant eye that he was thinking intently. Miss Morstan and I chatted in an undertone about our present expedition and its possible outcome, but our com- panion maintained his impenetrable reserve until the end of our journey. 73 TheSign of theFour It was a September evening, and not yet seven o’clock, but the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city. Mud-colored clouds drooped sadly over the muddy streets. Down the Strand the lamps were but misty splotches of diffused light which threw a feeble circular glimmer upon the slimy pavement. The yellow glare from the shop-windows streamed out into the steamy, vaporous air, and threw a murky, shifting radiance across the crowded thor- oughfare. There was, to my mind, something eerie and ghost-like in the endless procession of faces which ?itted across these narrow bars of light,—sad faces and glad, haggard and merry. Like all human kind, they ?itted from the gloom into the light, and so back into the gloom once more. I am not subject to impressions, but the dull, heavy evening, with the strange business upon which we were engaged, combined to make me nervous and depressed. I could see from Miss Morstan’s manner that she was suffering from the same feeling. Holmes alone could rise superior to petty in?uences. He held his open note-book upon his knee, and from time to time he jotted down ?gures and memoranda in the light of his pocket- lantern. At the Lyceum Theatre the crowds were al- ready thick at the side-entrances. In front a continuous stream of hansoms and four-wheelers were rattling up, discharging their cargoes of shirt-fronted men and beshawled, bediamonded women. We had hardly reached the third pillar, which was our rendezvous, before a small, dark, brisk man in the dress of a coachman accosted us. “Are you the parties who come with Miss Morstan?” he asked. “I am Miss Morstan, and these two gentlemen are my friends,” said she. He bent a pair of wonderfully penetrating and questioning eyes upon us. “You will excuse me, miss,” he said with a certain dogged manner, “but I was to ask you to give me your word that neither of your companions is a police-of?cer.” “I give you my word on that,” she answered. He gave a shrill whistle, on which a street Arab led across a four-wheeler and opened the door. The man who had addressed us mounted to the box, while we took our places inside. We had hardly done so before the driver whipped up his horse, and we plunged away at a furious pace through the foggy streets. The situation was a curious one. We were driving to an unknown place, on an unknown errand. Yet our invitation was either a com- plete hoax,—which was an inconceivable hypoth- esis,—or else we had good reason to think that im- portant issues might hang upon our journey. Miss Morstan’s demeanor was as resolute and collected as ever. I endeavored to cheer and amuse her by reminiscences of my adventures in Afghanistan; but, to tell the truth, I was myself so excited at our situation and so curious as to our destination that my stories were slightly involved. To this day she declares that I told her one moving anecdote as to how a musket looked into my tent at the dead of night, and how I ?red a double-barrelled tiger cub at it. At ?rst I had some idea as to the direction in which we were driving; but soon, what with our pace, the fog, and my own limited knowledge of London, I lost my bearings, and knew nothing, save that we seemed to be going a very long way. Sherlock Holmes was never at fault, however, and he muttered the names as the cab rattled through squares and in and out by tortuous by-streets. “Rochester Row,” said he. “Now Vincent Square. Now we come out on the Vauxhall Bridge Road. We are making for the Surrey side, appar- ently. Yes, I thought so. Now we are on the bridge. You can catch glimpses of the river.” We did indeed bet a ?eeting view of a stretch of the Thames with the lamps shining upon the broad, silent water; but our cab dashed on, and was soon involved in a labyrinth of streets upon the other side. “Wordsworth Road,” said my companion. “Priory Road. Lark Hall Lane. Stockwell Place. Robert Street. Cold Harbor Lane. Our quest does not appear to take us to very fashionable regions.” We had, indeed, reached a questionable and forbidding neighborhood. Long lines of dull brick houses were only relieved by the coarse glare and tawdry brilliancy of public houses at the corner. Then came rows of two-storied villas each with a fronting of miniature garden, and then again inter- minable lines of new staring brick buildings,—the monster tentacles which the giant city was throw- ing out into the country. At last the cab drew up at the third house in a new terrace. None of the other houses were inhabited, and that at which we stopped was as dark as its neighbors, save for a single glimmer in the kitchen window. On our knocking, however, the door was instantly thrown open by a Hindoo servant clad in a yellow turban, white loose-?tting clothes, and a yellow sash. There was something strangely incongruous in this Oriental ?gure framed in the commonplace door-way of a third-rate suburban dwelling-house. “The Sahib awaits you,” said he, and even as he spoke there came a high piping voice from some inner room. “Show them in to me,khitmutgar,“ it cried. ”Show them straight in to me.” 74 TheSign of theFour CHAPTER IV.TheStory of theBald-HeadedManWe followedthe Indian down a sordid and common passage, ill lit and worse furnished, un- til he came to a door upon the right, which he threw open. A blaze of yellow light streamed out upon us, and in the centre of the glare there stood a small man with a very high head, a bristle of red hair all round the fringe of it, and a bald, shining scalp which shot out from among it like a mountain-peak from ?r-trees. He writhed his hands together as he stood, and his features were in a perpetual jerk, now smiling, now scowling, but never for an instant in repose. Nature had given him a pendulous lip, and a too visible line of yellow and irregular teeth, which he strove fee- bly to conceal by constantly passing his hand over the lower part of his face. In spite of his obtru- sive baldness, he gave the impression of youth. In point of fact he had just turned his thirtieth year. “Your servant, Miss Morstan,” he kept repeat- ing, in a thin, high voice. “Your servant, gentle- men. Pray step into my little sanctum. A small place, miss, but furnished to my own liking. An oasis of art in the howling desert of South Lon- don.” We were all astonished by the appearance o the apartment into which he invited us. In that sorry house it looked as out of place as a diamond of the ?rst water in a setting of brass. The richest and glossiest of curtains and tapestries draped the walls, looped back here and there to expose some richly-mounted painting or Oriental vase. The car- pet was of amber-and-black, so soft and so thick that the foot sank pleasantly into it, as into a bed of moss. Two great tiger-skins thrown athwart it increased the suggestion of Eastern luxury, as did a huge hookah which stood upon a mat in the cor- ner. A lamp in the fashion of a silver dove was hung from an almost invisible golden wire in the centre of the room. As it burned it ?lled the air with a subtle and aromatic odor. “Mr. Thaddeus Sholto,” said the little man, still jerking and smiling. “That is my name. You are Miss Morstan, of course. And these gentlemen—” “This is Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and this is Dr. Watson.” “A doctor, eh?” cried he, much excited. “Have you your stethoscope? Might I ask you—would you have the kindness? I have grave doubts as to my mitral valve, if you would be so very good. The aortic I may rely upon, but I should value your opinion upon the mitral.” I listened to his heart, as requested, but was unable to ?nd anything amiss, save indeed that he was in an ecstasy of fear, for he shivered from head to foot. “It appears to be normal,” I said. “You have no cause for uneasiness.” “You will excuse my anxiety, Miss Morstan,” he remarked, airily. “I am a great sufferer, and I have long had suspicions as to that valve. I am delighted to hear that they are unwarranted. Had your father, Miss Morstan, refrained from throw- ing a strain upon his heart, he might have been alive now.” I could have struck the man across the face, so hot was I at this callous and off-hand reference to so delicate a matter. Miss Morstan sat down, and her face grew white to the lips. “I knew in my heart that he was dead,” said she. “I can give you every information,” said he, “and, what is more, I can do you justice; and I will, too, whatever Brother Bartholomew may say. I am so glad to have your friends here, not only as an escort to you, but also as witnesses to what I am about to do and say. The three of us can show a bold front to Brother Bartholomew. But let us have no outsiders,—no police or of?cials. We can settle everything satisfactorily among our- selves, without any interference. Nothing would annoy Brother Bartholomew more than any pub- licity.” He sat down upon a low settee and blinked at us inquiringly with his weak, watery blue eyes. “For my part,” said Holmes, “whatever you may choose to say will go no further.” I nodded to show my agreement. “That is well! That is well!” said he. “May I offer you a glass of Chianti, Miss Morstan? Or of Tokay? I keep no other wines. Shall I open a ?ask? No? Well, then, I trust that you have no objection to tobacco-smoke, to the mild balsamic odor of the Eastern tobacco. I am a little nervous, and I ?nd my hookah an invaluable sedative.” He applied a taper to the great bowl, and the smoke bubbled merrily through the rose-water. We sat all three in a semicircle, with our heads advanced, and our chins upon our hands, while the strange, jerky lit- tle fellow, with his high, shining head, puffed un- easily in the centre. “When I ?rst determined to make this commu- nication to you,” said he, “I might have given you my address, but I feared that you might disregard my request and bring unpleasant people with you. 75 TheSign of theFour I took the liberty, therefore, of making an appoint- ment in such a way that my man Williams might be able to see you ?rst. I have complete con?dence in his discretion, and he had orders, if he were dis- satis?ed, to proceed no further in the matter. You will excuse these precautions, but I am a man of somewhat retiring, and I might even say re?ned, tastes, and there is nothing more unaesthetic than a policeman. I have a natural shrinking from all forms of rough materialism. I seldom come in contact with the rough crowd. I live, as you see, with some little atmosphere of elegance around me. I may call myself a patron of the arts. It is my weakness. The landscape is a genuine Corot, and, though a connoisseur might perhaps throw a doubt upon that Salvator Rosa, there cannot be the least question about the Bouguereau. I am partial to the modern French school.” “You will excuse me, Mr. Sholto,” said Miss Morstan, “but I am here at your request to learn something which you desire to tell me. It is very late, and I should desire the interview to be as short as possible.” “At the best it must take some time,” he an- swered; “for we shall certainly have to go to Nor- wood and see Brother Bartholomew. We shall all go and try if we can get the better of Brother Bartholomew. He is very angry with me for tak- ing the course which has seemed right to me. I had quite high words with him last night. You cannot imagine what a terrible fellow he is when he is angry.” “If we are to go to Norwood it would perhaps be as well to start at once,” I ventured to remark. He laughed until his ears were quite red. “That would hardly do,” he cried. “I don’t know what he would say if I brought you in that sudden way. No, I must prepare you by showing you how we all stand to each other. In the ?rst place, I must tell you that there are several points in the story of which I am myself ignorant. I can only lay the facts before you as far as I know them myself. “My father was, as you may have guessed, Ma- jor John Sholto, once of the Indian army. He re- tired some eleven years ago, and came to live at Pondicherry Lodge in Upper Norwood. He had prospered in India, and brought back with him a considerable sum of money, a large collection of valuable curiosities, and a staff of native ser- vants. With these advantages he bought himself a house, and lived in great luxury. My twin-brother Bartholomew and I were the only children. “I very well remember the sensation which was caused by the disappearance of Captain Morstan. We read the details in the papers, and, knowing that he had been a friend of our father’s, we dis- cussed the case freely in his presence. He used to join in our speculations as to what could have happened. Never for an instant did we suspect that he had the whole secret hidden in his own breast,—that of all men he alone knew the fate of Arthur Morstan. “We did know, however, that some mys- tery—some positive danger—overhung our father. He was very fearful of going out alone, and he al- ways employed two prize-?ghters to act as porters at Pondicherry Lodge. Williams, who drove you to-night, was one of them. He was once light- weight champion of England. Our father would never tell us what it was he feared, but he had a most marked aversion to men with wooden legs. On one occasion he actually ?red his revolver at a wooden-legged man, who proved to be a harmless tradesman canvassing for orders. We had to pay a large sum to hush the matter up. My brother and I used to think this a mere whim of my father’s, but events have since led us to change our opinion. “Early in1882my father received a letter from India which was a great shock to him. He nearly fainted at the breakfast-table when he opened it, and from that day he sickened to his death. What was in the letter we could never discover, but I could see as he held it that it was short and writ- ten in a scrawling hand. He had suffered for years from an enlarged spleen, but he now became rapidly worse, and towards the end of April we were informed that he was beyond all hope, and that he wished to make a last communication to us. “When we entered his room he was propped up with pillows and breathing heavily. He be- sought us to lock the door and to come upon ei- ther side of the bed. Then, grasping our hands, he made a remarkable statement to us, in a voice which was broken as much by emotion as by pain. I shall try and give it to you in his own very words. “ ‘I have only one thing,’ he said, ‘which weighs upon my mind at this supreme moment. It is my treatment of poor Morstan’s orphan. The cursed greed which has been my besetting sin through life has withheld from her the treasure, half at least of which should have been hers. And yet I have made no use of it myself,—so blind and foolish a thing is avarice. The mere feeling of possession has been so dear to me that I could not bear to share it with another. See that chaplet dipped with pearls be- side the quinine-bottle. Even that I could not bear 76 TheSign of theFour to part with, although I had got it out with the de- sign of sending it to her. You, my sons, will give her a fair share of the Agra treasure. But send her nothing—not even the chaplet—until I am gone. After all, men have been as bad as this and have recovered. “ ‘I will tell you how Morstan died,’ he contin- ued. ‘He had suffered for years from a weak heart, but he concealed it from every one. I alone knew it. When in India, he and I, through a remark- able chain of circumstances, came into possession of a considerable treasure. I brought it over to Eng- land, and on the night of Morstan’s arrival he came straight over here to claim his share. He walked over from the station, and was admitted by my faithful Lal Chowdar, who is now dead. Morstan and I had a difference of opinion as to the divi- sion of the treasure, and we came to heated words. Morstan had sprung out of his chair in a parox- ysm of anger, when he suddenly pressed his hand to his side, his face turned a dusky hue, and he fell backwards, cutting his head against the corner of the treasure-chest. When I stooped over him I found, to my horror, that he was dead. “ ‘For a long time I sat half distracted, wonder- ing what I should do. My ?rst impulse was, of course, to call for assistance; but I could not but recognize that there was every chance that I would be accused of his murder. His death at the moment of a quarrel, and the gash in his head, would be black against me. Again, an of?cial inquiry could not be made without bringing out some facts about the treasure, which I was particularly anxious to keep secret. He had told me that no soul upon earth knew where he had gone. There seemed to be no necessity why any soul ever should know. “ ‘I was still pondering over the matter, when, looking up, I saw my servant, Lal Chowdar, in the doorway. He stole in and bolted the door behind him. “Do not fear, Sahib,” he said. “No one need know that you have killed him. Let us hide him away, and who is the wiser?” “I did not kill him,” said I. Lal Chowdar shook his head and smiled. “I heard it all, Sahib,” said he. “I heard you quar- rel, and I heard the blow. But my lips are sealed. All are asleep in the house. Let us put him away together.” That was enough to decide met. If my own servant could not believe my innocence, how could I hope to make it good before twelve fool- ish tradesmen in a jury-box? Lal Chowdar and I disposed of the body that night, and within a few days the London papers were full of the mysteri- ous disappearance of Captain Morstan. You will see from what I say that I can hardly be blamed in the matter. My fault lies in the fact that we con- cealed not only the body, but also the treasure, and that I have clung to Morstan’s share as well as to my own. I wish you, therefore, to make restitution. Put your ears down to my mouth. The treasure is hidden in—At this instant a horrible change came over his expression; his eyes stared wildly, his jaw dropped, and he yelled, in a voice which I can never forget, ‘Keep him out! For Christ’s sake keep him out’! We both stared round at the window be- hind us upon which his gaze was ?xed. A face was looking in at us out of the darkness. We could see the whitening of the nose where it was pressed against the glass. It was a bearded, hairy face, with wild cruel eyes and an expression of concentrated malevolence. My brother and I rushed towards the window, but the man was gone. When we re- turned to my father his head had dropped and his pulse had ceased to beat. “We searched the garden that night, but found no sign of the intruder, save that just under the window a single footmark was visible in the ?ower-bed. But for that one trace, we might have thought that our imaginations had conjured up that wild, ?erce face. We soon, however, had an- other and a more striking proof that there were secret agencies at work all round us. The window of my father’s room was found open in the morn- ing, his cupboards and boxes had been ri?ed, and upon his chest was ?xed a torn piece of paper, with the words ‘The sign of the four’ scrawled across it. What the phrase meant, or who our secret visitor may have been, we never knew. As far as we can judge, none of my father’s property had been ac- tually stolen, though everything had been turned out. My brother and I naturally associated this peculiar incident with the fear which haunted my father during his life; but it is still a complete mys- tery to us.” The little man stopped to relight his hookah and puffed thoughtfully for a few moments. We had all sat absorbed, listening to his extraordi- nary narrative. At the short account of her father’s death Miss Morstan had turned deadly white, and for a moment I feared that she was about to faint. She rallied however, on drinking a glass of water which I quietly poured out for her from a Vene- tian carafe upon the side-table. Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair with an abstracted ex- pression and the lids drawn low over his glittering eyes. As I glanced at him I could not but think how on that very day he had complained bitterly of the commonplaceness of life. Here at least was a problem which would tax his sagacity to the ut- most. Mr. Thaddeus Sholto looked from one to 77 TheSign of theFour the other of us with an obvious pride at the effect which his story had produced, and then continued between the puffs of his overgrown pipe. “My brother and I,” said he, “were, as you may imagine, much excited as to the treasure which my father had spoken of. For weeks and for months we dug and delved in every part of the garden, without discovering its whereabouts. It was mad- dening to think that the hiding-place was on his very lips at the moment that he died. We could judge the splendor of the missing riches by the chaplet which he had taken out. Over this chaplet my brother Bartholomew and I had some little dis- cussion. The pearls were evidently of great value, and he was averse to part with them, for, between friends, my brother was himself a little inclined to my father’s fault. He thought, too, that if we parted with the chaplet it might give rise to gossip and ?nally bring us into trouble. It was all that I could do to persuade him to let me ?nd out Miss Morstan’s address and send her a detached pearl at ?xed intervals, so that at least she might never feel destitute.” “It was a kindly thought,” said our companion, earnestly. “It was extremely good of you.” The little man waved his hand deprecatingly. “We were your trustees,“ he said. ”That was the view which I took of it, though Brother Bartholomew could not altogether see it in that light. We had plenty of money ourselves. I desired no more. Besides, it would have been such bad taste to have treated a young lady in so scurvy a fashion.‘Le mauvais go ˆ ut m` ene au crime.’The French have a very neat way of putting these things. Our difference of opinion on this subject went so far that I thought it best to set up rooms for myself: so I left Pondicherry Lodge, taking the oldkhitmutgarand Williams with me. Yesterday, how- ever, I learn that an event of extreme importance has occurred. The treasure has been discovered. I instantly communicated with Miss Morstan, and it only remains for us to drive out to Norwood and demand our share. I explained my views last night to Brother Bartholomew: so we shall be expected, if not welcome, visitors.” Mr. Thaddeus Sholto ceased, and sat twitching on his luxurious settee. We all remained silent, with our thoughts upon the new development which the mysterious business had taken. Holmes was the ?rst to spring to his feet. “You have done well, sir, from ?rst to last,” said he. “It is possible that we may be able to make you some small return by throwing some light upon that which is still dark to you. But, as Miss Morstan remarked just now, it is late, and we had best put the matter through without delay.” Our new acquaintance very deliberately coiled up the tube of his hookah, and produced from behind a curtain a very long befrogged topcoat with Astrakhan collar and cuffs. This he buttoned tightly up, in spite of the extreme closeness of the night, and ?nished his attire by putting on a rabbit-skin cap with hanging lappets which cov- ered the ears, so that no part of him was visible save his mobile and peaky face. “My health is somewhat fragile,“ he remarked, as he led the way down the passage. ”I am compelled to be a vale- tudinarian.” Our cab was awaiting us outside, and our pro- gramme was evidently prearranged, for the driver started off at once at a rapid pace. Thaddeus Sholto talked incessantly, in a voice which rose high above the rattle of the wheels. “Bartholomew is a clever fellow,” said he. “How do you think he found out where the trea- sure was? He had come to the conclusion that it was somewhere indoors: so he worked out all the cubic space of the house, and made measure- ments everywhere, so that not one inch should be unaccounted for. Among other things, he found that the height of the building was seventy-four feet, but on adding together the heights of all the separate rooms, and making every allowance for the space between, which he ascertained by bor- ings, he could not bring the total to more than seventy feet. There were four feet unaccounted for. These could only be at the top of the build- ing. He knocked a hole, therefore, in the lath-and- plaster ceiling of the highest room, and there, sure enough, he came upon another little garret above it, which had been sealed up and was known to no one. In the centre stood the treasure-chest, rest- ing upon two rafters. He lowered it through the hole, and there it lies. He computes the value of the jewels at not less than half a million sterling.” At the mention of this gigantic sum we all stared at one another open-eyed. Miss Morstan, could we secure her rights, would change from a needy governess to the richest heiress in England. Surely it was the place of a loyal friend to rejoice at such news; yet I am ashamed to say that self- ishness took me by the soul, and that my heart turned as heavy as lead within me. I stammered out some few halting words of congratulation, and then sat downcast, with my head drooped, deaf to the babble of our new acquaintance. He was clearly a con?rmed hypochondriac, and I was 78 TheSign of theFour dreamily conscious that he was pouring forth in- terminable trains of symptoms, and imploring in- formation as to the composition and action of in- numerable quack nostrums, some of which he bore about in a leather case in his pocket. I trust that he may not remember any of the answers which I gave him that night. Holmes declares that he over- heard me caution him against the great danger of taking more than two drops of castor oil, while I recommended strychnine in large doses as a seda- tive. However that may be, I was certainly relieved when our cab pulled up with a jerk and the coach- man sprang down to open the door. “This, Miss Morstan, is Pondicherry Lodge,” said Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, as he handed her out.CHAPTER V.TheTragedy ofPondicherryLodgeIt was nearlyeleven o’clock when we reached this ?nal stage of our night’s adventures. We had left the damp fog of the great city behind us, and the night was fairly ?ne. A warm wind blew from the westward, and heavy clouds moved slowly across the sky, with half a moon peeping occasion- ally through the rifts. It was clear enough to see for some distance, but Thaddeus Sholto took down one of the side-lamps from the carriage to give us a better light upon our way. Pondicherry Lodge stood in its own grounds, and was girt round with a very high stone wall topped with broken glass. A single narrow iron- clamped door formed the only means of en- trance. On this our guide knocked with a peculiar postman-like rat-tat. “Who is there?” cried a gruff voice from within. “It is I, McMurdo. You surely know my knock by this time.” There was a grumbling sound and a clanking and jarring of keys. The door swung heavily back, and a short, deep-chested man stood in the open- ing, with the yellow light of the lantern shining upon his protruded face and twinkling distrustful eyes. “That you, Mr. Thaddeus? But who are the oth- ers? I had no orders about them from the master.” “No, McMurdo? You surprise me! I told my brother last night that I should bring some friends. “He ain’t been out o’ his room to-day, Mr. Thaddeus, and I have no orders. You know very well that I must stick to regulations. I can let you in, but your friends must just stop where they are.” This was an unexpected obstacle. Thaddeus Sholto looked about him in a perplexed and help- less manner. “This is too bad of you, McMurdo!” he said. “If I guarantee them, that is enough for you. There is the young lady, too. She cannot wait on the public road at this hour.” “Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus,” said the porter, in- exorably. “Folk may be friends o’ yours, and yet no friends o’ the master’s. He pays me well to do my duty, and my duty I’ll do. I don’t know none o’ your friends.” “Oh, yes you do, McMurdo,” cried Sherlock Holmes, genially. “I don’t think you can have for- gotten me. Don’t you remember the amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison’s rooms on the night of your bene?t four years back?” “Not Mr. Sherlock Holmes!” roared the prize- ?ghter. “God’s truth! how could I have mistook you? If instead o’ standin’ there so quiet you had just stepped up and given me that cross-hit of yours under the jaw, I’d ha’ known you without a question. Ah, you’re one that has wasted your gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you had joined the fancy.” “You see, Watson, if all else fails me I have still one of the scienti?c professions open to me,“ said Holmes, laughing. “Our friend won’t keep us out in the cold now, I am sure.” “In you come, sir, in you come,—you and your friends,” he answered. “Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus, but orders are very strict. Had to be certain of your friends before I let them in.” Inside, a gravel path wound through deso- late grounds to a huge clump of a house, square 79 TheSign of theFour and prosaic, all plunged in shadow save where a moonbeam struck one corner and glimmered in a garret window. The vast size of the building, with its gloom and its deathly silence, struck a chill to the heart. Even Thaddeus Sholto seemed ill at ease, and the lantern quivered and rattled in his hand. “I cannot understand it,” he said. “There must be some mistake. I distinctly told Bartholomew that we should be here, and yet there is no light in his window. I do not know what to make of it.” “Does he always guard the premises in this way?” asked Holmes. “Yes; he has followed my father’s custom. He was the favorite son, you know, and I sometimes think that my father may have told him more than he ever told me. That is Bartholomew’s window up there where the moonshine strikes. It is quite bright, but there is no light from within, I think.” “None,” said Holmes. “But I see the glint of a light in that little window beside the door.” “Ah, that is the housekeeper’s room. That is where old Mrs. Bernstone sits. She can tell us all about it. But perhaps you would not mind wait- ing here for a minute or two, for if we all go in together and she has no word of our coming she may be alarmed. But hush! what is that?” He held up the lantern, and his hand shook until the circles of light ?ickered and wavered all round us. Miss Morstan seized my wrist, and we all stood with thumping hearts, straining our ears. From the great black house there sounded through the silent night the saddest and most piti- ful of sounds,—the shrill, broken whimpering of a frightened woman. “It is Mrs. Bernstone,” said Sholto. “She is the only woman in the house. Wait here. I shall be back in a moment.” He hurried for the door, and knocked in his peculiar way. We could see a tall old woman admit him, and sway with pleasure at the very sight of him. “Oh, Mr. Thaddeus, sir, I am so glad you have come! I am so glad you have come, Mr. Thaddeus, sir!” We heard her reiterated rejoicings until the door was closed and her voice died away into a muf?ed monotone. Our guide had left us the lantern. Holmes swung it slowly round, and peered keenly at the house, and at the great rubbish-heaps which cum- bered the grounds. Miss Morstan and I stood to- gether, and her hand was in mine. A wondrous subtle thing is love, for here were we two who had never seen each other before that day, between whom no word or even look of affection had ever passed, and yet now in an hour of trouble our hands instinctively sought for each other. I have marvelled at it since, but at the time it seemed the most natural thing that I should go out to her so, and, as she has often told me, there was in her also the instinct to turn to me for comfort and protec- tion. So we stood hand in hand, like two children, and there was peace in our hearts for all the dark things that surrounded us. “What a strange place!” she said, looking round. “It looks as though all the moles in England had been let loose in it. I have seen something of the sort on the side of a hill near Ballarat, where the prospectors had been at work.” “And from the same cause,” said Holmes. “These are the traces of the treasure-seekers. You must remember that they were six years looking for it. No wonder that the grounds look like a gravel-pit.” At that moment the door of the house burst open, and Thaddeus Sholto came running out, with his hands thrown forward and terror in his eyes. “There is something amiss with Bartholomew!” he cried. “I am frightened! My nerves cannot stand it.” He was, indeed, half blubbering with fear, and his twitching feeble face peeping out from the great Astrakhan collar had the helpless appealing expression of a terri?ed child. “Come into the house,” said Holmes, in his crisp, ?rm way. “Yes, do!” pleaded Thaddeus Sholto. “I really do not feel equal to giving directions.” We all followed him into the housekeeper’s room, which stood upon the left-hand side of the passage. The old woman was pacing up and down with a scared look and restless picking ?ngers, but the sight of Miss Morstan appeared to have a soothing effect upon her. “God bless your sweet calm face!” she cried, with an hysterical sob. “It does me good to see you. Oh, but I have been sorely tried this day!” Our companion patted her thin, work-worn hand, and murmured some few words of kindly womanly comfort which brought the color back into the others bloodless cheeks. “Master has locked himself in and will now an- swer me,” she explained. “All day I have waited to hear from him, for he often likes to be alone; but an hour ago I feared that something was amiss, so 80 TheSign of theFour I went up and peeped through the key-hole. You must go up, Mr. Thaddeus,—you must go up and look for yourself. I have seen Mr. Bartholomew Sholto in joy and in sorrow for ten long years, but I never saw him with such a face on him as that.” Sherlock Holmes took the lamp and led the way, for Thaddeus Sholto’s teeth were chattering in his head. So shaken was he that I had to pass my hand under his arm as we went up the stairs, for his knees were trembling under him. Twice as we ascended Holmes whipped his lens out of his pocket and carefully examined marks which appeared to me to be mere shapeless smudges of dust upon the cocoa-nut matting which served as a stair-carpet. He walked slowly from step to step, holding the lamp, and shooting keen glances to right and left. Miss Morstan had remained behind with the frightened housekeeper. The third ?ight of stairs ended in a straight pas- sage of some length, with a great picture in Indian tapestry upon the right of it and three doors upon the left. Holmes advanced along it in the same slow and methodical way, while we kept close at his heels, with our long black shadows stream- ing backwards down the corridor. The third door was that which we were seeking. Holmes knocked without receiving any answer, and then tried to turn the handle and force it open. It was locked on the inside, however, and by a broad and pow- erful bolt, as we could see when we set our lamp up against it. The key being turned, however, the hole was not entirely closed. Sherlock Holmes bent down to it, and instantly rose again with a sharp intaking of the breath. “There is something devilish in this, Watson,” said he, more moved than I had ever before seen him. “What do you make of it?” I stooped to the hole, and recoiled in horror. Moonlight was streaming into the room, and it was bright with a vague and shifty radiance. Look- ing straight at me, and suspended, as it were, in the air, for all beneath was in shadow, there hung a face,—the very face of our companion Thad- deus. There was the same high, shining head, the same circular bristle of red hair, the same bloodless countenance. The features were set, however, in a horrible smile, a ?xed and unnatural grin, which in that still and moonlit room was more jarring to the nerves than any scowl or contortion. So like was the face to that of our little friend that I looked round at him to make sure that he was indeed with us. Then I recalled to mind that he had mentioned to us that his brother and he were twins. “This is terrible!” I said to Holmes. “What is to be done?” “The door must come down,” he answered, and, springing against it, he put all his weight upon the lock. It creaked and groaned, but did not yield. Together we ?ung ourselves upon it once more, and this time it gave way with a sudden snap, and we found ourselves within Bartholomew Sholto’s chamber. It appeared to have been ?tted up as a chemical laboratory. A double line of glass-stoppered bot- tles was drawn up upon the wall opposite the door, and the table was littered over with Bunsen burn- ers, test-tubes, and retorts. In the corners stood carboys of acid in wicker baskets. One of these ap- peared to leak or to have been broken, for a stream of dark-colored liquid had trickled out from it, and the air was heavy with a peculiarly pungent, tar- like odor. A set of steps stood at one side of the room, in the midst of a litter of lath and plaster, and above them there was an opening in the ceil- ing large enough for a man to pass through. At the foot of the steps a long coil of rope was thrown carelessly together. By the table, in a wooden arm-chair, the mas- ter of the house was seated all in a heap, with his head sunk upon his left shoulder, and that ghastly, inscrutable smile upon his face. He was stiff and cold, and had clearly been dead many hours. It seemed to me that not only his features but all his limbs were twisted and turned in the most fantastic fashion. By his hand upon the table there lay a peculiar instrument,—a brown, close- grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer, rudely lashed on with coarse twine. Beside it was a torn sheet of note-paper with some words scrawled upon it. Holmes glanced at it, and then handed it to me. “You see,” he said, with a signi?cant raising of the eyebrows. In the light of the lantern I read, with a thrill of horror, “The sign of the four.” “In God’s name, what does it all mean?” I asked. “It means murder,” said he, stooping over the dead man. “Ah, I expected it. Look here!” He pointed to what looked like a long, dark thorn stuck in the skin just above the ear. “It looks like a thorn,” said I. “It is a thorn. You may pick it out. But be care- ful, for it is poisoned.” I took it up between my ?nger and thumb. It came away from the skin so readily that hardly 81 TheSign of theFour any mark was left behind. One tiny speck of blood showed where the puncture had been. “This is all an insoluble mystery to me,” said I. “It grows darker instead of clearer.” “On the contrary,” he answered, “it clears ev- ery instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case.” We had almost forgotten our companion’s pres- ence since we entered the chamber. He was still standing in the door-way, the very picture of terror, wringing his hands and moaning to himself. Sud- denly, however, he broke out into a sharp, queru- lous cry. “The treasure is gone!” he said. “They have robbed him of the treasure! There is the hole through which we lowered it. I helped him to do it! I was the last person who saw him! I left him here last night, and I heard him lock the door as I came down-stairs.” “What time was that?” “It was ten o’clock. And now he is dead, and the police will be called in, and I shall be sus- pected of having had a hand in it. Oh, yes, I am sure I shall. But you don’t think so, gentlemen? Surely you don’t think that it was I? Is it likely that I would have brought you here if it were I? Oh, dear! oh, dear! I know that I shall go mad!” He jerked his arms and stamped his feet in a kind of convulsive frenzy. “You have no reason for fear, Mr. Sholto,” said Holmes, kindly, putting his hand upon his shoul- der. “Take my advice, and drive down to the sta- tion to report this matter to the police. Offer to assist them in every way. We shall wait here until your return.” The little man obeyed in a half-stupe?ed fash- ion, and we heard him stumbling down the stairs in the dark.CHAPTER VI.SherlockHolmesGives aDemonstration“Now, Watson,” said Holmes, rubbing his hands, “we have half an hour to ourselves. Let us make good use of it. My case is, as I have told you, almost complete; but we must not err on the side of over-con?dence. Simple as the case seems now, there may be something deeper underlying it.” “Simple!” I ejaculated. “Surely,” said he, with something of the air of a clinical professor expounding to his class. “Just sit in the corner there, that your footprints may not complicate matters. Now to work! In the ?rst place, how did these folk come, and how did they go? The door has not been opened since last night. How of the window?” He carried the lamp across to it, muttering his observations aloud the while, but addressing them to himself rather than to me. “Window is snibbed on the inner side. Framework is solid. No hinges at the side. Let us open it. No water-pipe near. Roof quite out of reach. Yet a man has mounted by the window. It rained a lit- tle last night. Here is the print of a foot in mould upon the sill. And here is a circular muddy mark, and here again upon the ?oor, and here again by the table. See here, Watson! This is really a very pretty demonstration.” I looked at the round, well-de?ned muddy discs. “This is not a footmark,” said I. “It is something much more valuable to us. It is the impression of a wooden stump. You see here on the sill is the boot-mark, a heavy boot with the broad metal heel, and beside it is the mark of the timber-toe.” “It is the wooden-legged man.” “Quite so. But there has been some one else,—a very able and ef?cient ally. Could you scale that wall, doctor?” I looked out of the open window. The moon still shone brightly on that angle of the house. We were a good sixty feet from the round, and, look where I would, I could see no foothold, nor as much as a crevice in the brick-work. “It is absolutely impossible,” I answered. “Without aid it is so. But suppose you had a friend up here who lowered you this good stout 82 TheSign of theFour rope which I see in the corner, securing one end of it to this great hook in the wall. Then, I think, if you were an active man, you might swarm up, wooden leg and all. You would depart, of course, in the same fashion, and your ally would draw up the rope, untie it from the hook, shut the window, snib it on the inside, and get away in the way that he originally came. As a minor point it may be noted,” he continued, ?ngering the rope, “that our wooden-legged friend, though a fair climber, was not a professional sailor. His hands were far from horny. My lens discloses more than one blood- mark, especially towards the end of the rope, from which I gather that he slipped down with such ve- locity that he took the skin off his hand.” “This is all very well,” said I, “but the thing be- comes more unintelligible than ever. How about this mysterious ally? How came he into the room?” “Yes, the ally!” repeated Holmes, pensively. “There are features of interest about this ally. He lifts the case from the regions of the commonplace. I fancy that this ally breaks fresh ground in the annals of crime in this country,—though parallel cases suggest themselves from India, and, if my memory serves me, from Senegambia.” “How came he, then?” I reiterated. “The door is locked, the window is inaccessible. Was it through the chimney?” “The grate is much too small,” he answered. “I had already considered that possibility.” “How then?” I persisted. “You will not apply my precept,” he said, shak- ing his head. “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains,however improbable, must be the truth? We know that he did not come through the door, the window, or the chimney. We also know that he could not have been concealed in the room, as there is no concealment possible. Whence, then, did he come?” “He came through the hole in the roof,” I cried. “Of course he did. He must have done so. If you will have the kindness to hold the lamp for me, we shall now extend our researches to the room above,—the secret room in which the trea- sure was found.” He mounted the steps, and, seizing a rafter with either hand, he swung himself up into the garret. Then, lying on his face, he reached down for the lamp and held it while I followed him. The chamber in which we found ourselves was about ten feet one way and six the other. The ?oor was formed by the rafters, with thin lath-and- plaster between, so that in walking one had to step from beam to beam. The roof ran up to an apex, and was evidently the inner shell of the true roof of the house. There was no furniture of any sort, and the accumulated dust of years lay thick upon the ?oor. “Here you are, you see,” said Sherlock Holmes, putting his hand against the sloping wall. “This is a trap-door which leads out on to the roof. I can press it back, and here is the roof itself, sloping at a gentle angle. This, then, is the way by which Number One entered. Let us see if we can ?nd one other traces of his individuality.” He held down the lamp to the ?oor, and as he did so I saw for the second time that night a star- tled, surprised look come over his face. For my- self, as I followed his gaze my skin was cold under my clothes. The ?oor was covered thickly with the prints of a naked foot,—clear, well de?ned, per- fectly formed, but scarce half the size of those of an ordinary man. “Holmes,” I said, in a whisper, “a child has done the horrid thing.” He had recovered his self-possession in an in- stant. “I was staggered for the moment,” he said, “but the thing is quite natural. My memory failed me, or I should have been able to foretell it. There is nothing more to be learned here. Let us go down.” “What is your theory, then, as to those foot- marks?” I asked, eagerly, when we had regained the lower room once more. “My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself,” said he, with a touch of impatience. “You know my methods. Apply them, and it will be instruc- tive to compare results.” “I cannot conceive anything which will cover the facts,” I answered. “It will be clear enough to you soon,” he said, in an off-hand way. “I think that there is noth- ing else of importance here, but I will look.” He whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hur- ried about the room on his knees, measuring, com- paring, examining, with his long thin nose only a few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. So swift, silent, and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained blood-hound picking out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he turned his energy and sagacity against the law, instead of exerting them 83 TheSign of theFour in its defense. As he hunted about, he kept mut- tering to himself, and ?nally he broke out into a loud crow of delight. “We are certainly in luck,” said he. “We ought to have very little trouble now. Number One has had the misfortune to tread in the creosote. You can see the outline of the edge of his small foot here at the side of this evil-smelling mess. The car- boy has been cracked, You see, and the stuff has leaked out.” “What then?” I asked. “Why, we have got him, that’s all,” said he. “I know a dog that would follow that scent to the world’s end. If a pack can track a trailed her- ring across a shire, how far can a specially-trained hound follow so pungent a smell as this? It sounds like a sum in the rule of three. The answer should give us the—But halloo! here are the accredited representatives of the law.” Heavy steps and the clamor of loud voices were audible from below, and the hall door shut with a loud crash. “Before they come,” said Holmes, “just put your hand here on this poor fellow’s arm, and here on his leg. What do you feel?” “The muscles are as hard as a board,” I an- swered. “Quite so. They are in a state of extreme con- traction, far exceeding the usual rigor mortis. Cou- pled with this distortion of the face, this Hippo- cratic smile, or‘risus sardonicus,’as the old writers called it, what conclusion would it suggest to your mind?” “Death from some powerful vegetable alka- loid,” I answered,—“some strychnine-like sub- stance which would produce tetanus.” “That was the idea which occurred to me the instant I saw the drawn muscles of the face. On getting into the room I at once looked for the means by which the poison had entered the sys- tem. As you saw, I discovered a thorn which had been driven or shot with no great force into the scalp. You observe that the part struck was that which would be turned towards the hole in the ceiling if the man were erect in his chair. Now ex- amine the thorn.” I took it up gingerly and held it in the light of the lantern. It was long, sharp, and black, with a glazed look near the point as though some gummy substance had dried upon it. The blunt end had been trimmed and rounded off with a knife. “Is that an English thorn?” he asked. “No, it certainly is not.” “With all these data you should be able to draw some just inference. But here are the regulars: so the auxiliary forces may beat a retreat.” As he spoke, the steps which had been coming nearer sounded loudly on the passage, and a very stout, portly man in a gray suit strode heavily into the room. He was red-faced, burly and plethoric, with a pair of very small twinkling eyes which looked keenly out from between swollen and puffy pouches. He was closely followed by an inspector in uniform, and by the still palpitating Thaddeus Sholto. “Here’s a business!” he cried, in a muf?ed, husky voice. “Here’s a pretty business! But who are all these? Why, the house seems to be as full as a rabbit-warren!” “I think you must recollect me, Mr. Athelney Jones,” said Holmes, quietly. “Why, of course I do!” he wheezed. “It’s Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the theorist. Remember you! I’ll never forget how you lectured us all on causes and inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case. It’s true you set us on the right track; but you’ll own now that it was more by good luck than good guidance.” “It was a piece of very simple reasoning.” “Oh, come, now, come! Never be ashamed to own up. But what is all this? Bad business! Bad business! Stern facts here,—no room for theories. How lucky that I happened to be out at Norwood over another case! I was at the station when the message arrived. What d’you think the man died of?” “Oh, this is hardly a case for me to theorize over,” said Holmes, dryly. “No, no. Still, we can’t deny that you hit the nail on the head sometimes. Dear me! Door locked, I understand. Jewels worth half a million missing. How was the window?” “Fastened; but there are steps on the sill.” “Well, well, if it was fastened the steps could have nothing to do with the matter. That’s com- mon sense. Man might have died in a ?t; but then the jewels are missing. Ha! I have a theory. These ?ashes come upon me at times.—Just step outside, sergeant, and you, Mr. Sholto. Your friend can re- main.—What do you think of this, Holmes? Sholto was, on his own confession, with his brother last night. The brother died in a ?t, on which Sholto walked off with the treasure. How’s that?” 84 TheSign of theFour “On which the dead man very considerately got up and locked the door on the inside.” “Hum! There’s a ?aw there. Let us apply com- mon sense to the matter. This Thaddeus Sholtowaswith his brother; therewasa quarrel; so much we know. The brother is dead and the jewels are gone. So much also we know. No one saw the brother from the time Thaddeus left him. His bed had not been slept in. Thaddeus is evidently in a most disturbed state of mind. His appearance is—well, not attractive. You see that I am weaving my web round Thaddeus. The net begins to close upon him.” “You are not quite in possession of the facts yet,” said Holmes. “This splinter of wood, which I have every reason to believe to be poisoned, was in the man’s scalp where you still see the mark; this card, inscribed as you see it, was on the table; and beside it lay this rather curious stone-headed in- strument. How does all that ?t into your theory?” “Con?rms it in every respect,” said the fat de- tective, pompously. “House is full of Indian cu- riosities. Thaddeus brought this up, and if this splinter be poisonous Thaddeus may as well have made murderous use of it as any other man. The card is some hocus-pocus,—a blind, as like as not. The only question is, how did he depart? Ah, of course, here is a hole in the roof.” With great ac- tivity, considering his bulk, he sprang up the steps and squeezed through into the garret, and imme- diately afterwards we heard his exulting voice pro- claiming that he had found the trap-door. “He can ?nd something,” remarked Holmes, shrugging his shoulders. “He has occasional glim- merings of reason.Il n’y a pas des sots si incommodes que ceux qui ont de l’esprit!”“You see!” said Athelney Jones, reappearing down the steps again. “Facts are better than mere theories, after all. My view of the case is con- ?rmed. There is a trap-door communicating with the roof, and it is partly open.” “It was I who opened it.” “Oh, indeed! You did notice it, then?” He seemed a little crestfallen at the discovery. “Well, whoever noticed it, it shows how our gentleman got away. Inspector!” “Yes, sir,” from the passage. “Ask Mr. Sholto to step this way.—Mr. Sholto, it is my duty to inform you that anything which you may say will be used against you. I arrest you in the queen’s name as being concerned in the death of your brother.” “There, now! Didn’t I tell you!” cried the poor little man, throwing out his hands, and looking from one to the other of us. “Don’t trouble yourself about it, Mr. Sholto,” said Holmes. “I think that I can engage to clear you of the charge.” “Don’t promise too much, Mr. Theorist,—don’t promise too much!” snapped the detective. “You may ?nd it a harder matter than you think.” “Not only will I clear him, Mr. Jones, but I will make you a free present of the name and descrip- tion of one of the two people who were in this room last night. His name, I have every reason to believe, is Jonathan Small. He is a poorly-educated man, small, active, with his right leg off, and wear- ing a wooden stump which is worn away upon the inner side. His left boot has a coarse, square-toed sole, with an iron band round the heel. He is a middle-aged man, much sunburned, and has been a convict. These few indications may be of some assistance to you, coupled with the fact that there is a good deal of skin missing from the palm of his hand. The other man—” “Ah! the other man—?” asked Athelney Jones, in a sneering voice, but impressed none the less, as I could easily see, by the precision of the other’s manner. “Is a rather curious person,” said Sherlock Holmes, turning upon his heel. “I hope before very long to be able to introduce you to the pair of them. A word with you, Watson.” He led me out to the head of the stair. “This unexpected occurrence,“ he said, ”has caused us rather to lose sight of the original purpose of our journey.” “I have just been thinking so,” I answered. “It is not right that Miss Morstan should remain in this stricken house.” “No. You must escort her home. She lives with Mrs. Cecil Forrester, in Lower Camberwell: so it is not very far. I will wait for you here if you will drive out again. Or perhaps you are too tired?” “By no means. I don’t think I could rest until I know more of this fantastic business. I have seen something of the rough side of life, but I give you my word that this quick succession of strange sur- prises to-night has shaken my nerve completely. I should like, however, to see the matter through with you, now that I have got so far.” “Your presence will be of great service to me,” he answered. “We shall work the case out inde- pendently, and leave this fellow Jones to exult over any mare’s-nest which he may choose to construct. 85 TheSign of theFour When you have dropped Miss Morstan I wish you to go on to No.3Pinchin Lane, down near the water’s edge at Lambeth. The third house on the right-hand side is a bird-stuffer’s: Sherman is the name. You will see a weasel holding a young rab- bit in the window. Knock old Sherman up, and tell him, with my compliments, that I want Toby at once. You will bring Toby back in the cab with you.” “A dog, I suppose.” “Yes,—a queer mongrel, with a most amazing power of scent. I would rather have Toby’s help than that of the whole detective force of London.” “I shall bring him, then,” said I. “It is one now. I ought to be back before three, if I can get a fresh horse.” “And I,” said Holmes, “shall see what I can learn from Mrs. Bernstone, and from the Indian servant, who, Mr. Thaddeus tell me, sleeps in the next garret. Then I shall study the great Jones’s methods and listen to his not too delicate sarcasms.‘Wir sind gewohnt, daß die Menschen verh ¨ ohnen was sie nicht verstehen.’Goethe is always pithy.”CHAPTER VII.TheEpisode of theBarrelThe policehad brought a cab with them, and in this I escorted Miss Morstan back to her home. After the angelic fashion of women, she had borne trouble with a calm face as long as there was some one weaker than herself to support, and I had found her bright and placid by the side of the frightened housekeeper. In the cab, however, she ?rst turned faint, and then burst into a pas- sion of weeping,—so sorely had she been tried by the adventures of the night. She has told me since that she thought me cold and distant upon that journey. She little guessed the struggle within my breast, or the effort of self-restraint which held me back. My sympathies and my love went out to her, even as my hand had in the garden. I felt that years of the conventionalities of life could not teach me to know her sweet, brave nature as had this one day of strange experiences. Yet there were two thoughts which sealed the words of affection upon my lips. She was weak and helpless, shaken in mind and nerve. It was to take her at a disad- vantage to obtrude love upon her at such a time. Worse still, she was rich. If Holmes’s researches were successful, she would be an heiress. Was it fair, was it honorable, that a half-pay surgeon should take such advantage of an intimacy which chance had brought about? Might she not look upon me as a mere vulgar fortune-seeker? I could not bear to risk that such a thought should cross her mind. This Agra treasure intervened like an impassable barrier between us. It was nearly two o’clock when we reached Mrs. Cecil Forrester’s. The servants had retired hours ago, but Mrs. Forrester had been so inter- ested by the strange message which Miss Morstan had received that she had sat up in the hope of her return. She opened the door herself, a middle- aged, graceful woman, and it gave me joy to see how tenderly her arm stole round the other’s waist and how motherly was the voice in which she greeted her. She was clearly no mere paid depen- dant, but an honored friend. I was introduced, and Mrs. Forrester earnestly begged me to step in and tell her our adventures. I explained, however, the importance of my errand, and promised faithfully to call and report any progress which we might make with the case. As we drove away I stole a glance back, and I still seem to see that little group on the step, the two graceful, clinging ?gures, the half-opened door, the hall light shining through stained glass, the barometer, and the bright stair- rods. It was soothing to catch even that passing glimpse of a tranquil English home in the midst of the wild, dark business which had absorbed us. And the more I thought of what had happened, the wilder and darker it grew. I reviewed the whole extraordinary sequence of events as I rat- tled on through the silent gas-lit streets. There was the original problem: that at least was pretty clear now. The death of Captain Morstan, the sending of the pearls, the advertisement, the letter,—we had had light upon all those events. They had 86 TheSign of theFour only led us, however, to a deeper and far more tragic mystery. The Indian treasure, the curious plan found among Morstan’s baggage, the strange scene at Major Sholto’s death, the rediscovery of the treasure immediately followed by the murder of the discoverer, the very singular accompani- ments to the crime, the footsteps, the remarkable weapons, the words upon the card, corresponding with those upon Captain Morstan’s chart,—here was indeed a labyrinth in which a man less singu- larly endowed than my fellow-lodger might well despair of ever ?nding the clue. Pinchin Lane was a row of shabby two-storied brick houses in the lower quarter of Lambeth. I had to knock for some time at No.3before I could make my impression. At last, however, there was the glint of a candle behind the blind, and a face looked out at the upper window. “Go on, you drunken vagabone,” said the face. “If you kick up any more row I’ll open the kennels and let out forty-three dogs upon you.” “If you’ll let one out it’s just what I have come for,” said I. “Go on!” yelled the voice. “So help me gra- cious, I have a wiper in the bag, an’ I’ll drop it on your ’ead if you don’t hook it.” “But I want a dog,” I cried. “I won’t be argued with!” shouted Mr. Sher- man. “Now stand clear, for when I say ‘three,’ down goes the wiper.” “Mr. Sherlock Holmes—” I began, but the words had a most magical effect, for the window instantly slammed down, and within a minute the door was unbarred and open. Mr. Sherman was a lanky, lean old man, with stooping shoulders, a stringy neck, and blue-tinted glasses. “A friend of Mr. Sherlock is always welcome,” said he. “Step in, sir. Keep clear of the badger; for he bites. Ah, naughty, naughty, would you take a nip at the gentleman?” This to a stoat which thrust its wicked head and red eyes between the bars of its cage. “Don’t mind that, sir: it’s only a slow- worm. It hain’t got no fangs, so I gives it the run o’ the room, for it keeps the bettles down. You must not mind my bein’ just a little short wi’ you at ?rst, for I’m guyed at by the children, and there’s many a one just comes down this lane to knock me up. What was it that Mr. Sherlock Holmes wanted, sir?” “He wanted a dog of yours.” “Ah! that would be Toby.” “Yes, Toby was the name.” “Toby lives at No.7on the left here.” He moved slowly forward with his candle among the queer animal family which he had gathered round him. In the uncertain, shadowy light I could see dimly that there were glancing, glimmering eyes peeping down at us from every cranny and corner. Even the rafters above our heads were lined by solemn fowls, who lazily shifted their weight from one leg to the other as our voices disturbed their slumbers. Toby proved to an ugly, long-haired, lop-eared creature, half spaniel and half lurcher, brown- and-white in color, with a very clumsy waddling gait. It accepted after some hesitation a lump of sugar which the old naturalist handed to me, and, having thus sealed an alliance, it followed me to the cab, and made no dif?culties about ac- companying me. It had just struck three on the Palace clock when I found myself back once more at Pondicherry Lodge. The ex-prize-?ghter Mc- Murdo had, I found, been arrested as an accessory, and both he and Mr. Sholto had been marched off to the station. Two constables guarded the narrow gate, but they allowed me to pass with the dog on my mentioning the detective’s name. Holmes was standing on the door-step, with his hands in his pockets, smoking his pipe. “Ah, you have him there!” said he. “Good dog, then! Athelney Jones has gone. We have had an immense display of energy since you left. He has arrested not only friend Thaddeus, but the gate- keeper, the housekeeper, and the Indian servant. We have the place to ourselves, but for a sergeant up-stairs. Leave the dog here, and come up.” We tied Toby to the hall table, and reascended the stairs. The room was as he had left it, save that a sheet had been draped over the central ?gure. A weary-looking police-sergeant reclined in the cor- ner. “Lend me your bull’s-eye, sergeant,” said my companion. “Now tie this bit of card round my neck, so as to hang it in front of me. Thank you. Now I must kick off my boots and stockings.—Just you carry them down with you, Watson. I am go- ing to do a little climbing. And dip my handker- chief into the creasote. That will do. Now come up into the garret with me for a moment.” We clambered up through the hole. Holmes turned his light once more upon the footsteps in the dust. “I wish you particularly to notice these foot- marks,” he said. “Do you observe anything note- worthy about them?” 87 TheSign of theFour “They belong,” I said, “to a child or a small woman.” “Apart from their size, though. Is there nothing else?” “They appear to be much as other footmarks.” “Not at all. Look here! This is the print of a right foot in the dust. Now I make one with my naked foot beside it. What is the chief difference?” “Your toes are all cramped together. The other print has each toe distinctly divided.” “Quite so. That is the point. Bear that in mind. Now, would you kindly step over to that ?ap- window and smell the edge of the wood-work? I shall stay here, as I have this handkerchief in my hand.” I did as he directed, and was instantly con- scious of a strong tarry smell. “That is where he put his foot in getting out. Ifyoucan trace him, I should think that Toby will have no dif?culty. Now run down-stairs, loose the dog, and look out for Blondin.” By the time that I got out into the grounds Sherlock Holmes was on the roof, and I could see him like an enormous glow-worm crawling very slowly along the ridge. I lost sight of him behind a stack of chimneys, but he presently reappeared, and then vanished once more upon the opposite side. When I made my way round there I found him seated at one of the corner eaves. “That You, Watson?” he cried. “Yes.” “This is the place. What is that black thing down there?” “A water-barrel.” “Top on it?” “Yes.” “No sign of a ladder?” “No.” “Confound the fellow! It’s a most break-neck place. I ought to be able to come down where he could climb up. The water-pipe feels pretty ?rm. Here goes, anyhow.” There was a scuf?ing of feet, and the lantern began to come steadily down the side of the wall. Then with a light spring he came on to the barrel, and from there to the earth. “It was easy to follow him,” he said, drawing on his stockings and boots. “Tiles were loosened the whole way along, and in his hurry he had dropped this. It con?rms my diagnosis, as you doctors express it.” The object which he held up to me was a small pocket or pouch woven out of colored grasses and with a few tawdry beads strung round it. In shape and size it was not unlike a cigarette-case. Inside were half a dozen spines of dark wood, sharp at one end and rounded at the other, like that which had struck Bartholomew Sholto. “They are hellish things,” said he. “Look out that you don’t prick yourself. I’m delighted to have them, for the chances are that they are all he has. There is the less fear of you or me ?nding one in our skin before long. I would sooner face a Martini bullet, myself. Are you game for a six-mile trudge, Watson?” “Certainly,” I answered. “Your leg will stand it?” “Oh, yes.” “Here you are, doggy! Good old Toby! Smell it, Toby, smell it!” He pushed the creasote hand- kerchief under the dog’s nose, while the creature stood with its ?uffy legs separated, and with a most comical cock to its head, like a connoisseur snif?ng the bouquet of a famous vintage. Holmes then threw the handkerchief to a distance, fastened a stout cord to the mongrel’s collar, and let him to the foot of the water-barrel. The creature instantly broke into a succession of high, tremulous yelps, and, with his nose on the ground, and his tail in the air, pattered off upon the trail at a pace which strained his leash and kept us at the top of our speed. The east had been gradually whitening, and we could now see some distance in the cold gray light. The square, massive house, with its black, empty windows and high, bare walls, towered up, sad and forlorn, behind us. Our course let right across the grounds, in and out among the trenches and pits with which they were scarred and intersected. The whole place, with its scattered dirt-heaps and ill-grown shrubs, had a blighted, ill-omened look which harmonized with the black tragedy which hung over it. On reaching the boundary wall Toby ran along, whining eagerly, underneath its shadow, and stopped ?nally in a corner screened by a young beech. Where the two walls joined, several bricks had been loosened, and the crevices left were worn down and rounded upon the lower side, as though they had frequently been used as a ladder. Holmes clambered up, and, taking the dog from me, he dropped it over upon the other side. 88 TheSign of theFour “There’s the print of wooden-leg’s hand,” he remarked, as I mounted up beside him. “You see the slight smudge of blood upon the white plaster. What a lucky thing it is that we have had no very heavy rain since yesterday! The scent will lie upon the road in spite of their eight-and-twenty hours’ start.” I confess that I had my doubts myself when I re?ected upon the great traf?c which had passed along the London road in the interval. My fears were soon appeased, however. Toby never hes- itated or swerved, but waddled on in his pecu- liar rolling fashion. Clearly, the pungent smell of the creasote rose high above all other contending scents. “Do not imagine,” said Holmes, “that I depend for my success in this case upon the mere chance of one of these fellows having put his foot in the chemical. I have knowledge now which would enable me to trace them in many different ways. This, however, is the readiest and, since fortune has put it into our hands, I should be culpable if I neglected it. It has, however, prevented the case from becoming the pretty little intellectual prob- lem which it at one time promised to be. There might have been some credit to be gained out of it, but for this too palpable clue.” “There is credit, and to spare,” said I. “I as- sure you, Holmes, that I marvel at the means by which you obtain your results in this case, even more than I did in the Jefferson Hope Murder. The thing seems to me to be deeper and more inexpli- cable. How, for example, could you describe with such con?dence the wooden-legged man?” “Pshaw, my dear boy! it was simplicity itself. I don’t wish to be theatrical. It is all patent and above-board. Two of?cers who are in command of a convict-guard learn an important secret as to buried treasure. A map is drawn for them by an Englishman named Jonathan Small. You re- member that we saw the name upon the chart in Captain Morstan’s possession. He had signed it in behalf of himself and his associates,—the sign of the four, as he somewhat dramatically called it. Aided by this chart, the of?cers—or one of them—gets the treasure and brings it to England, leaving, we will suppose, some condition under which he received it unful?lled. Now, then, why did not Jonathan Small get the treasure himself? The answer is obvious. The chart is dated at a time when Morstan was brought into close association with convicts. Jonathan Small did not get the trea- sure because he and his associates were themselves convicts and could not get away.” “But that is mere speculation,” said I. “It is more than that. It is the only hypothesis which covers the facts. Let us see how it ?ts in with the sequel. Major Sholto remains at peace for some years, happy in the possession of his trea- sure. Then he receives a letter from India which gives him a great fright. What was that?” “A letter to say that the men whom he had wronged had been set free.” “Or had escaped. That is much more likely, for he would have known what their term of impris- onment was. It would not have been a surprise to him. What does he do then? He guards him- self against a wooden-legged man,—a white man, mark you, for he mistakes a white tradesman for him, and actually ?res a pistol at him. Now, only one white man’s name is on the chart. The oth- ers are Hindoos or Mohammedans. There is no other white man. Therefore we may say with con- ?dence that the wooden-legged man is identical with Jonathan Small. Does the reasoning strike yo as being faulty?” “No: it is clear and concise.” “Well, now, let us put ourselves in the place of Jonathan Small. Let us look at it from his point of view. He comes to England with the double idea of regaining what he would consider to be his rights and of having his revenge upon the man who had wronged him. He found out where Sholto lived, and very possibly he established communications with some one inside the house. There is this but- ler, Lal Rao, whom we have not seen. Mrs. Bern- stone gives him far from a good character. Small could not ?nd out, however, where the treasure was hid, for no one ever knew, save the major and one faithful servant who had died. Suddenly Small learns that the major is on his death-bed. In a frenzy lest the secret of the treasure die with him, he runs the gauntlet of the guards, makes his way to the dying man’s window, and is only deterred from entering by the presence of his two sons. Mad with hate, however, against the dead man, he enters the room that night, searches his private papers in the hope of discovering some memoran- dum relating to the treasure, and ?nally leaves a momento of his visit in the short inscription upon the card. He had doubtless planned beforehand that should he slay the major he would leave some such record upon the body as a sign that it was not a common murder, but, from the point of view of the four associates, something in the nature of an act of justice. Whimsical and bizarre conceits of this kind are common enough in the annals of 89 TheSign of theFour crime, and usually afford valuable indications as to the criminal. Do you follow all this?” “Very clearly.” “Now, what could Jonathan Small do? He could only continue to keep a secret watch upon the efforts made to ?nd the treasure. Possibly he leaves England and only comes back at inter- vals. Then comes the discovery of the garret, and he is instantly informed of it. We again trace the presence of some confederate in the household. Jonathan, with his wooden leg, is utterly unable to reach the lofty room of Bartholomew Sholto. He takes with him, however, a rather curious as- sociate, who gets over this dif?culty, but dips his naked foot into creasote, whence come Toby, and a six-mile limp for a half-pay of?cer with a damaged tendo Achillis.” “But it was the associate, and not Jonathan, who committed the crime.” “Quite so. And rather to Jonathan’s disgust, to judge by the way the stamped about when he got into the room. He bore no grudge against Bartholomew Sholto, and would have preferred if he could have been simply bound and gagged. He did not wish to put his head in a halter. There was no help for it, however: the savage instincts of his companion had broken out, and the poison had done its work: so Jonathan Small left his record, lowered the treasure-box to the ground, and fol- lowed it himself. That was the train of events as far as I can decipher them. Of course as to his personal appearance he must be middle-aged, and must be sunburned after serving his time in such an oven as the Andamans. His height is readily calculated from the length of his stride, and we know that he was bearded. His hairiness was the one point which impressed itself upon Thaddeus Sholto when he saw him at the window. I don’t know that there is anything else.” “The associate?” “Ah, well, there is no great mystery in that. But you will know all about it soon enough. How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud ?oats like a pink feather from some gigantic ?amingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good many folk, but on none, I dare bet, who are on a stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel with our petty ambitions and strivings in the pres- ence of the great elemental forces of nature! Are you well up in your Jean Paul?” “Fairly so. I worked back to him through Car- lyle.” “That was like following the brook to the par- ent lake. He makes one curious but profound re- mark. It is that the chief proof of man’s real great- ness lies in his perception of his own smallness. It argues, you see, a power of comparison and of appreciation which is in itself a proof of nobility. There is much food for thought in Richter. You have not a pistol, have you?” “I have my stick.” “It is just possible that we may need something of the sort if we get to their lair. Jonathan I shall leave to you, but if the other turns nasty I shall shoot him dead.” He took out his revolver as he spoke, and, having loaded two of the chambers, he put it back into the right-hand pocket of his jacket. We had during this time been following the guidance of Toby down the half-rural villa-lined roads which lead to the metropolis. Now, however, we were beginning to come among continuous streets, where laborers and dockmen were already astir, and slatternly women were taking down shutters and brushing door-steps. At the square- topped corner public houses business was just be- ginning, and rough-looking men were emerging, rubbing their sleeves across their beards after their morning wet. Strange dogs sauntered up and stared wonderingly at us as we passed, but our inimitable Toby looked neither to the right nor to the left, but trotted onwards with his nose to the ground and an occasional eager whine which spoke of a hot scent. We had traversed Streatham, Brixton, Cam- berwell, and now found ourselves in Kennington Lane, having borne away through the side-streets to the east of the Oval. The men whom we pursued seemed to have taken a curiously zigzag road, with the idea probably of escaping observation. They had never kept to the main road if a parallel side-street would serve their turn. At the foot of Kennington Lane they had edged away to the left through Bond Street and Miles Street. Where the latter street turns into Knight’s Place, Toby ceased to advance, but began to run backwards and for- wards with one ear cocked and the other droop- ing, the very picture of canine indecision. Then he waddled round in circles, looking up to us from time to time, as if to ask for sympathy in his em- barrassment. “What the deuce is the matter with the dog?” growled Holmes. “They surely would not take a cab, or go off in a balloon.” “Perhaps they stood here for some time,” I sug- gested. 90 TheSign of theFour “Ah! it’s all right. He’s off again,” said my companion, in a tone of relief. He was indeed off, for after snif?ng round again he suddenly made up his mind, and darted away with an energy and determination such as he had not yet shown. The scent appeared to be much hotter than before, for he had not even to put his nose on the ground, but tugged at his leash and tried to break into a run. I cold see by the gleam in Holmes’s eyes that he thought we were nearing the end of our journey. Our course now ran down Nine Elms until we came to Broderick and Nelson’s large timber-yard, just past the White Eagle tavern. Here the dog, frantic with excitement, turned down through the side-gate into the enclosure, where the sawyers were already at work. On the dog raced through sawdust and shavings, down an alley, round a pas- sage, between two wood-piles, and ?nally, with a triumphant yelp, sprang upon a large barrel which still stood upon the hand-trolley on which it had been brought. With lolling tongue and blinking eyes, Toby stood upon the cask, looking from one to the other of us for some sign of appreciation. The staves of the barrel and the wheels of the trolley were smeared with a dark liquid, and the whole air was heavy with the smell of creasote. Sherlock Holmes and I looked blankly at each other, and then burst simultaneously into an un- controllable ?t of laughter.CHAPTER VIII.TheBakerStreetIrregulars“What now?” I asked. “Toby has lost his char- acter for infallibility.” “He acted according to his lights,” said Holmes, lifting him down from the barrel and walking him out of the timber-yard. “If you con- sider how much creasote is carted about London in one day, it is no great wonder that our trail should have been crossed. It is much used now, especially for the seasoning of wood. Poor Toby is not to blame.” “We must get on the main scent again, I sup- pose.” “Yes. And, fortunately, we have no distance to go. Evidently what puzzled the dog at the corner of Knight’s Place was that there were two different trails running in opposite directions. We took the wrong one. It only remains to follow the other.” There was no dif?culty about this. On lead- ing Toby to the place where he had committed his fault, he cast about in a wide circle and ?nally dashed off in a fresh direction. “We must take care that he does not now bring us to the place where the creasote-barrel came from,” I observed. “I had thought of that. But you notice that he keeps on the pavement, whereas the barrel passed down the roadway. No, we are on the true scent now.” It tended down towards the river-side, running through Belmont Place and Prince’s Street. At the end of Broad Street it ran right down to the wa- ter’s edge, where there was a small wooden wharf. Toby led us to the very edge of this, and there stood whining, looking out on the dark current be- yond. “We are out of luck,” said Holmes. “They have taken to a boat here.” Several small punts and skiffs were lying about in the water and on the edge of the wharf. We took Toby round to each in turn, but, though he sniffed earnestly, he made no sign. Close to the rude landing-stage was a small brick house, with a wooden placard slung out through the second window. “Mordecai Smith” was printed across it in large letters, and, under- neath, “Boats to hire by the hour or day.” A sec- ond inscription above the door informed us that a steam launch was kept,—a statement which was con?rmed by a great pile of coke upon the jetty. Sherlock Holmes looked slowly round, and his face assumed an ominous expression. “This looks bad,” said he. “These fellows are sharper than I expected. They seem to have cov- 91 TheSign of theFour ered their tracks. There has, I fear, been precon- certed management here.” He was approaching the door of the house, when it opened, and a little, curly-headed lad of six came running out, followed by a stoutish, red- faced woman with a large sponge in her hand. “You come back and be washed, Jack,” she shouted. “Come back, you young imp; for if your father comes home and ?nds you like that, he’ll let us hear of it.” “Dear little chap!” said Holmes, strategically. “What a rosy-cheeked young rascal! Now, Jack, is there anything you would like?” The youth pondered for a moment. “I’d like a shillin’,” said he. “Nothing you would like better?” “I’d like two shillin’ better,” the prodigy an- swered, after some thought. “Here you are, then! Catch!—A ?ne child, Mrs. Smith!” “Lor’ bless you, sir, he is that, and forward. He gets a’most too much for me to manage, ’specially when my man is away days at a time.” “Away, is he?” said Holmes, in a disappointed voice. “I am sorry for that, for I wanted to speak to Mr. Smith.” “He’s been away since yesterday mornin’, sir, and, truth to tell, I am beginnin’ to feel frightened about him. But if it was about a boat, sir, maybe I could serve as well.” “I wanted to hire his steam launch.” “Why, bless you, sir, it is in the steam launch that he has gone. That’s what puzzles me; for I know there ain’t more coals in her than would take her to about Woolwich and back. If he’d been away in the barge I’d ha’ thought nothin’; for many a time a job has taken him as far as Gravesend, and then if there was much doin’ there he might ha’ stayed over. But what good is a steam launch without coals?” “He might have bought some at a wharf down the river.” “He might, sir, but it weren’t his way. Many a time I’ve heard him call out at the prices they charge for a few odd bags. Besides, I don’t like that wooden-legged man, wi’ his ugly face and outlandish talk. What did he want always knockin’ about here for?” “A wooden-legged man?” said Holmes, with bland surprise. “Yes, sir, a brown, monkey-faced chap that’s called more’n once for my old man. It was him that roused him up yesternight, and, what’s more, my man knew he was comin’, for he had steam up in the launch. I tell you straight, sir, I don’t feel easy in my mind about it.” “But, my dear Mrs. Smith,” said Holmes, shrugging his shoulders, “You are frightening yourself about nothing. How could you possibly tell that it was the wooden-legged man who came in the night? I don’t quite understand how you can be so sure.” “His voice, sir. I knew his voice, which is kind o’ thick and foggy. He tapped at the winder,—about three it would be. ‘Show a leg, matey,’ says he: ‘time to turn out guard.’ My old man woke up Jim,—that’s my eldest,—and away they went, without so much as a word to me. I could hear the wooden leg clackin’ on the stones.” “And was this wooden-legged man alone?” “Couldn’t say, I am sure, sir. I didn’t hear no one else.” “I am sorry, Mrs. Smith, for I wanted a steam launch, and I have heard good reports of the—Let me see, what is her name?” “TheAurora, sir.” “Ah! She’s not that old green launch with a yellow line, very broad in the beam?” “No, indeed. She’s as trim a little thing as any on the river. She’s been fresh painted, black with two red streaks.” “Thanks. I hope that you will hear soon from Mr. Smith. I am going down the river; and if I should see anything of theAuroraI shall let him know that you are uneasy. A black funnel, you say?” “No, sir. Black with a white band.” “Ah, of course. It was the sides which were black. Good-morning, Mrs. Smith.—There is a boatman here with a wherry, Watson. We shall take it and cross the river. “The main thing with people of that sort,” said Holmes, as we sat in the sheets of the wherry, “is never to let them think that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. If you do, they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you listen to them under protest, as it were, you are very likely to get what you want.” “Our course now seems pretty clear,” said I. “What would you do, then?” “I would engage a launch and go down the river on the track of theAurora.” 92 TheSign of theFour “My dear fellow, it would be a colossal task. She may have touched at any wharf on either side of the stream between here and Greenwich. Below the bridge there is a perfect labyrinth of landing- places for miles. It would take you days and days to exhaust them, if you set about it alone.” “Employ the police, then.” “No. I shall probably call Athelney Jones in at the last moment. He is not a bad fellow, and I should not like to do anything which would injure him professionally. But I have a fancy for working it out myself, now that we have gone so far.” “Could we advertise, then, asking for informa- tion from whar?ngers?” “Worse and worse! Our men would know that the chase was hot at their heels, and they would be off out of the country. As it is, they are likely enough to leave, but as long as they think they are perfectly safe they will be in no hurry. Jones’s en- ergy will be of use to us there, for his view of the case is sure to push itself into the daily press, and the runaways will think that every one is off on the wrong scent.” “What are we to do, then?” I asked, as we landed near Millbank Penitentiary. “Take this hansom, drive home, have some breakfast, and get an hour’s sleep. It is quite on the cards that we may be afoot to-night again. Stop at a telegraph-of?ce, cabby! We will keep Toby, for he may be of use to us yet.” We pulled up at the Great Peter Street post- of?ce, and Holmes despatched his wire. “Whom do you think that is to?” he asked, as we resumed our journey. “I am sure I don’t know.” “You remember the Baker Street division of the detective police force whom I employed in the Jef- ferson Hope case?” “Well,” said I, laughing. “This is just the case where they might be in- valuable. If they fail, I have other resources; but I shall try them ?rst. That wire was to my dirty little lieutenant, Wiggins, and I expect that he and his gang will be with us before we have ?nished our breakfast.” It was between eight and nine o’clock now, and I was conscious of a strong reaction after the suc- cessive excitements of the night. I was limp and weary, befogged in mind and fatigued in body. I had not the professional enthusiasm which carried my companion on, nor could I look at the matter as a mere abstract intellectual problem. As far as the death of Bartholomew Sholto went, I had heard little good of him, and could feel no intense antipa- thy to his murderers. The treasure, however, was a different matter. That, or part of it, belonged right- fully to Miss Morstan. While there was a chance of recovering it I was ready to devote my life to the one object. True, if I found it it would probably put her forever beyond my reach. Yet it would be a petty and sel?sh love which would be in?uenced by such a thought as that. If Holmes could work to ?nd the criminals, I had a tenfold stronger reason to urge me on to ?nd the treasure. A bath at Baker Street and a complete change freshened me up wonderfully. When I came down to our room I found the breakfast laid and Holmes pouring out the coffee. “Here it is,” said he, laughing, and pointing to an open newspaper. “The energetic Jones and the ubiquitous reporter have ?xed it up between them. But you have had enough of the case. Better have your ham and eggs ?rst.” I took the paper from him and read the short notice, which was headed “Mysterious Business at Upper Norwood.” “About twelve o’clock last night,” said theStandard, “Mr. Bartholomew Sholto, of Pondicherry Lodge, Upper Norwood, was found dead in his room under circumstances which point to foul play. As far as we can learn, no actual traces of violence were found upon Mr. Sholto’s person, but a valuable collection of Indian gems which the deceased gentleman had inherited from his father has been carried off. The discovery was ?rst made by Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Wat- son, who had called at the house with Mr. Thad- deus Sholto, brother of the deceased. By a singu- lar piece of good fortune, Mr. Athelney Jones, the well-known member of the detective police force, happened to be at the Norwood Police Station, and was on the ground within half an hour of the ?rst alarm. His trained and experienced faculties were at once directed towards the detection of the crim- inals, with the gratifying result that the brother, Thaddeus Sholto, has already been arrested, to- gether with the housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, an Indian butler named Lal Rao, and a porter, or gate- keeper, named McMurdo. It is quite certain that the thief or thieves were well acquainted with the house, for Mr. Jones’s well-known technical knowl- edge and his powers of minute observation have enabled him to prove conclusively that the mis- creants could not have entered by the door or by the window, but must have made their way across 93 TheSign of theFour the roof of the building, and so through a trap- door into a room which communicated with that in which the body was found. This fact, which has been very clearly made out, proves conclu- sively that it was no mere haphazard burglary. The prompt and energetic action of the of?cers of the law shows the great advantage of the pres- ence on such occasions of a single vigorous and masterful mind. We cannot but think that it sup- plies an argument to those who would wish to see our detectives more decentralized, and so brought into closer and more effective touch with the cases which it is their duty to investigate.” “Isn’t it gorgeous!” said Holmes, grinning over his coffee-cup. “What do you think of it?” “I think that we have had a close shave our- selves of being arrested for the crime.” “So do I. I wouldn’t answer for our safety now, if he should happen to have another of his attacks of energy.” At this moment there was a loud ring at the bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dis- may. “By heaven, Holmes,” I said, half rising, “I be- lieve that they are really after us.” “No, it’s not quite so bad as that. It is the un- of?cial force,—the Baker Street irregulars.” As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices, and in rushed a dozen dirty and ragged little street-Arabs. There was some show of discipline among them, despite their tumultuous entry, for they instantly drew up in line and stood facing us with expectant faces. One of their number, taller and older than the others, stood forward with an air of lounding superiority which was very funny in such a disreputable little carecrow. “Got your message, sir,” said he, “and brought ’em on sharp. Three bob and a tanner for tickets.” “Here you are,” said Holmes, producing some silver. “In future they can report to you, Wiggins, and you to me. I cannot have the house invaded in this way. However, it is just as well that you should all hear the instructions. I want to ?nd the whereabouts of a steam launch called theAurora, owner Mordecai Smith, black with two red streaks, funnel black with a white band. She is down the river somewhere. I want one boy to be at Morde- cai Smith’s landing-stage opposite Millbank to say if the boat comes back. You must divide it out among yourselves, and do both banks thoroughly. Let me know the moment you have news. Is that all clear?” “Yes, guv’nor,” said Wiggins. “The old scale of pay, and a guinea to the boy who ?nds the boat. Here’s a day in advance. Now off you go!” He handed them a shilling each, and away they buzzed down the stairs, and I saw them a moment later streaming down the street. “If the launch is above water they will ?nd her,” said Holmes, as he rose from the table and lit his pipe. “They can go everywhere, see everything, overhear every one. I expect to hear before evening that they have spotted her. In the mean while, we can do nothing but await results. We cannot pick up the broken trail until we ?nd either theAuroraor Mr. Mordecai Smith.” “Toby could eat these scraps, I dare say. Are you going to bed, Holmes?” “No: I am not tired. I have a curious consti- tution. I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely. I am go- ing to smoke and to think over this queer busi- ness to which my fair client has introduced us. If ever man had an easy task, this of ours ought to be. Wooden-legged men are not so common, but the other man must, I should think, be absolutely unique.” “That other man again!” “I have no wish to make a mystery of him,—to you, anyway. But you must have formed your own opinion. Now, do consider the data. Diminutive footmarks, toes never fettered by boots, naked feet, stone-headed wooden mace, great agility, small poisoned darts. What do you make of all this?” “A savage!” I exclaimed. “Perhaps one of those Indians who were the associates of Jonathan Small.” “Hardly that,” said he. “When ?rst I saw signs of strange weapons I was inclined to think so; but the remarkable character of the footmarks caused me to reconsider my views. Some of the inhabi- tants of the Indian Peninsula are small men, but none could have left such marks as that. The Hin- doo proper has long and thin feet. The sandal- wearing Mohammedan has the great toe well sep- arated from the others, because the thong is com- monly passed between. These little darts, too, could only be shot in one way. They are from a blow-pipe. Now, then, where are we to ?nd our savage?” “South American,” I hazarded. He stretched his hand up, and took down a bulky volume from the shelf. “This is the ?rst vol- ume of a gazetteer which is now being published. 94 TheSign of theFour It may be looked upon as the very latest author- ity. What have we here? ‘Andaman Islands, situ- ated340miles to the north of Sumatra, in the Bay of Bengal.’ Hum! hum! What’s all this? Moist climate, coral reefs, sharks, Port Blair, convict- barracks, Rutland Island, cottonwoods—Ah, here we are. ‘The aborigines of the Andaman Islands may perhaps claim the distinction of being the smallest race upon this earth, though some an- thropologists prefer the Bushmen of Africa, the Digger Indians of America, and the Terra del Fue- gians. The average height is rather below four feet, although many full-grown adults may be found who are very much smaller than this. They are a ?erce, morose, and intractable people, though ca- pable of forming most devoted friendships when their con?dence has once been gained.’ Mark that, Watson. Now, then, listen to this. ‘They are nat- urally hideous, having large, misshapen heads, small, ?erce eyes, and distorted features. Their feet and hands, however, are remarkably small. So intractable and ?erce are they that all the ef- forts of the British of?cial have failed to win them over in any degree. They have always been a terror to shipwrecked crews, braining the survivors with their stone-headed clubs, or shooting them with their poisoned arrows. These massacres are invari- ably concluded by a cannibal feast.’ Nice, amiable people, Watson! If this fellow had been left to his own unaided devices this affair might have taken an even more ghastly turn. I fancy that, even as it is, Jonathan Small would give a good deal not to have employed him.” “But how came he to have so singular a com- panion?” “Ah, that is more than I can tell. Since, how- ever, we had already determined that Small had come from the Andamans, it is not so very won- derful that this islander should be with him. No doubt we shall know all about it in time. Look here, Watson; you look regularly done. Lie down there on the sofa, and see if I can put you to sleep.” He took up his violin from the corner, and as I stretched myself out he began to play some low, dreamy, melodious air,—his own, no doubt, for he had a remarkable gift for improvisation. I have a vague remembrance of his gaunt limbs, his earnest face, and the rise and fall of his bow. Then I seemed to be ?oated peacefully away upon a soft sea of sound, until I found myself in dream-land, with the sweet face of Mary Morstan looking down upon me.CHAPTER IX.A Break in theChainIt was latein the afternoon before I woke, strengthened and refreshed. Sherlock Holmes still sat exactly as I had left him, save that he had laid aside his violin and was deep in a book. He looked across at me, as I stirred, and I noticed that his face was dark and troubled. “You have slept soundly,” he said. “I feared that our talk would wake you.” “I heard nothing,” I answered. “Have you had fresh news, then?” “Unfortunately, no. I confess that I am sur- prised and disappointed. I expected something de?nite by this time. Wiggins has just been up to report. He says that no trace can be found of the launch. It is a provoking check, for every hour is of importance.” “Can I do anything? I am perfectly fresh now, and quite ready for another night’s outing.” “No, we can do nothing. We can only wait. If we go ourselves, the message might come in our absence, and delay be caused. You can do what you will, but I must remain on guard.” “Then I shall run over to Camberwell and call upon Mrs. Cecil Forrester. She asked me to, yes- terday.” “On Mrs. Cecil Forrester?” asked Holmes, with the twinkle of a smile in his eyes. “Well, of course Miss Morstan too. They were anxious to hear what happened.” “I would not tell them too much,” said Holmes. “Women are never to be entirely trusted,—not the best of them.” 95 TheSign of theFour I did not pause to argue over this atrocious sen- timent. “I shall be back in an hour or two,” I re- marked. “All right! Good luck! But, I say, if you are crossing the river you may as well return Toby, for I don’t think it is at all likely that we shall have any use for him now.” I took our mongrel accordingly, and left him, together with a half-sovereign, at the old natural- ist’s in Pinchin Lane. At Camberwell I found Miss Morstan a little weary after her night’s adventures, but very eager to hear the news. Mrs. Forrester, too, was full of curiosity. I told them all that we had done, suppressing, however, the more dread- ful parts of the tragedy. Thus, although I spoke of Mr. Sholto’s death, I said nothing of the exact manner and method of it. With all my omissions, however, there was enough to startle and amaze them. “It is a romance!” cried Mrs. Forrester. “An injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black can- nibal, and a wooden-legged ruf?an. They take the place of the conventional dragon or wicked earl.” “And two knight-errants to the rescue,” added Miss Morstan, with a bright glance at me. “Why, Mary, your fortune depends upon the is- sue of this search. I don’t think that you are nearly excited enough. Just imagine what it must be to be so rich, and to have the world at your feet!” It sent a little thrill of joy to my heart to notice that she showed no sign of elation at the prospect. On the contrary, she gave a toss of her proud head, as though the matter were one in which she took small interest. “It is for Mr. Thaddeus Sholto that I am anx- ious,” she said. “Nothing else is of any conse- quence; but I think that he has behaved most kindly and honorably throughout. It is our duty to clear him of this dreadful and unfounded charge.” It was evening before I left Camberwell, and quite dark by the time I reached home. My com- panion’s book and pipe lay by his chair, but he had disappeared. I looked about in the hope of seeing a note, but there was none. “I suppose that Mr. Sherlock Holmes has gone out,” I said to Mrs. Hudson as she came up to lower the blinds. “No, sir. He has gone to his room, sir. Do you know, sir,” sinking her voice into an impressive whisper, “I am afraid for his health?” “Why so, Mrs. Hudson?” “Well, he’s that strange, sir. After you was gone he walked and he walked, up and down, and up and down, until I was weary of the sound of his footstep. Then I heard him talking to himself and muttering, and every time the bell rang out he came on the stairhead, with ‘What is that, Mrs. Hudson?’ And now he has slammed off to his room, but I can hear him walking away the same as ever. I hope he’s not going to be ill, sir. I ventured to say something to him about cooling medicine, but he turned on me, sir, with such a look that I don’t know how ever I got out of the room.” “I don’t think that you have any cause to be uneasy, Mrs. Hudson,“ I answered. ”I have seen him like this before. He has some small matter upon his mind which makes him restless.” I tried to speak lightly to our worthy landlady, but I was myself somewhat uneasy when through the long night I still from time to time heard the dull sound of his tread, and knew how his keen spirit was cha?ng against this involuntary inaction. At breakfast-time he looked worn and haggard, with a little ?eck of feverish color upon either cheek. “You are knocking yourself up, old man,” I remarked. “I heard you marching about in the night.” “No, I could not sleep,” he answered. “This in- fernal problem is consuming me. It is too much to be balked by so petty an obstacle, when all else had been overcome. I know the men, the launch, everything; and yet I can get no news. I have set other agencies at work, and used every means at my disposal. The whole river has been searched on either side, but there is no news, nor has Mrs. Smith heard of her husband. I shall come to the conclusion soon that they have scuttled the craft. But there are objections to that.” “Or that Mrs. Smith has put us on a wrong scent.” “No, I think that may be dismissed. I had in- quiries made, and there is a launch of that descrip- tion.” “Could it have gone up the river?” “I have considered that possibility too, and there is a search-party who will work up as far as Richmond. If no news comes to-day, I shall start off myself to-morrow, and go for the men rather than the boat. But surely, surely, we shall hear something.” We did not, however. Not a word came to us either from Wiggins or from the other agencies. There were articles in most of the papers upon the 96 TheSign of theFour Norwood tragedy. They all appeared to be rather hostile to the unfortunate Thaddeus Sholto. No fresh details were to be found, however, in any of them, save that an inquest was to be held upon the following day. I walked over to Camberwell in the evening to report our ill success to the ladies, and on my return I found Holmes dejected and some- what morose. He would hardly reply to my ques- tions, and busied himself all evening in an abstruse chemical analysis which involved much heating of retorts and distilling of vapors, ending at last in a smell which fairly drove me out of the apartment. Up to the small hours of the morning I could hear the clinking of his test-tubes which told me that he was still engaged in his malodorous experiment. In the early dawn I woke with a start, and was surprised to ?nd him standing by my bed- side, clad in a rude sailor dress with a pea-jacket, and a coarse red scarf round his neck. “I am off down the river, Watson,” said he. “I have been turning it over in my mind, and I can see only one way out of it. It is worth trying, at all events.” “Surely I can come with you, then?” said I. “No; you can be much more useful if you will remain here as my representative. I am loath to go, for it is quite on the cards that some message may come during the day, though Wiggins was de- spondent about it last night. I want you to open all notes and telegrams, and to act on your own judg- ment if any news should come. Can I rely upon you?” “Most certainly.” “I am afraid that you will not be able to wire to me, for I can hardly tell yet where I may ?nd my- self. If I am in luck, however, I may not be gone so very long. I shall have news of some sort or other before I get back.” I had heard nothing of him by breakfast-time. On opening theStandard, however, I found that there was a fresh allusion to the business.“With reference to the Upper Norwood tragedy,” it remarked, “we have reason to believe that the matter promises to be even more complex and mysterious than was originally supposed. Fresh evidence has shown that it is quite impossible that Mr. Thaddeus Sholto could have been in any way concerned in the matter. He and the housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, were both re- leased yesterday evening. It is believed, however, that the police have a clue as to the real culprits, and that it is being pros- ecuted by Mr. Athelney Jones, of Scotland Yard, with all his well-known energy and sagacity. Further arrests may be expected at any moment.”“That is satisfactory so far as it goes,” thought I. “Friend Sholto is safe, at any rate. I wonder what the fresh clue may be; though it seems to be a stereotyped form whenever the police have made a blunder.” I tossed the paper down upon the table, but at that moment my eye caught an advertisement in the agony column. It ran in this way:“Lost.—Whereas Mordecai Smith, boat- man, and his son, Jim, left Smith’s Wharf at or about three o’clock last Tuesday morn- ing in the steam launch Aurora, black with two red stripes, funnel black with a white band, the sum of ?ve pounds will be paid to any one who can give information to Mrs. Smith, at Smith’s Wharf, or at221bBaker Street, as to the whereabouts of the said Mordecai Smith and the launch Aurora.”This was clearly Holmes’s doing. The Baker Street address was enough to prove that. It struck me as rather ingenious, because it might be read by the fugitives without their seeing in it more than the natural anxiety of a wife for her missing husband. It was a long day. Every time that a knock came to the door, or a sharp step passed in the street, I imagined that it was either Holmes return- ing or an answer to his advertisement. I tried to read, but my thoughts would wander off to our strange quest and to the ill-assorted and villainous pair whom we were pursuing. Could there be, I wondered, some radical ?aw in my companion’s reasoning. Might he be suffering from some huge self-deception? Was it not possible that his nimble and speculative mind had built up this wild the- ory upon faulty premises? I had never known him to be wrong; and yet the keenest reasoner may oc- casionally be deceived. He was likely, I thought, to fall into error through the over-re?nement of his logic,—his preference for a subtle and bizarre ex- planation when a plainer and more commonplace one lay ready to his hand. Yet, on the other hand, I had myself seen the evidence, and I had heard the reasons for his deductions. When I looked back on the long chain of curious circumstances, many of them trivial in themselves, but all tending in the same direction, I could not disguise from myself that even if Holmes’s explanation were incorrect the true theory must be equally outr´ e and startling. 97 TheSign of theFour At three o’clock in the afternoon there was a loud peal at the bell, an authoritative voice in the hall, and, to my surprise, no less a person than Mr. Athelney Jones was shown up to me. Very differ- ent was he, however, from the brusque and master- ful professor of common sense who had taken over the case so con?dently at Upper Norwood. His ex- pression was downcast, and his bearing meek and even apologetic. “Good-day, sir; good-day,” said he. “Mr. Sher- lock Holmes is out, I understand.” “Yes, and I cannot be sure when he will be back. But perhaps you would care to wait. Take that chair and try one of these cigars.” “Thank you; I don’t mind if I do,” said he, mopping his face with a red bandanna handker- chief. “And a whiskey-and-soda?” “Well, half a glass. It is very hot for the time of year; and I have had a good deal to worry and try me. You know my theory about this Norwood case?” “I remember that you expressed one.” “Well, I have been obliged to reconsider it. I had my net drawn tightly round Mr. Sholto, sir, when pop he went through a hole in the middle of it. He was able to prove an alibi which could not be shaken. From the time that he left his brother’s room he was never out of sight of some one or other. So it could not be he who climbed over roofs and through trap-doors. It’s a very dark case, and my professional credit is at stake. I should be very glad of a little assistance.” “We all need help sometimes,” said I. “Your friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a wonder- ful man, sir,” said he, in a husky and con?dential voice. “He’s a man who is not to be beat. I have known that young man go into a good many cases, but I never saw the case yet that he could not throw a light upon. He is irregular in his methods, and a little quick perhaps in jumping at theories, but, on the whole, I think he would have made a most promising of?cer, and I don’t care who knows it. I have had a wire from him this morning, by which I understand that he has got some clue to this Sholto business. Here is the message.” He took the telegram out of his pocket, and handed it to me. It was dated from Poplar at twelve o’clock. “Go to Baker Street at once,“ it said. ”If I have not returned, wait for me. I am close on the track of the Sholto gang. You can come with us to-night if you want to be in at the ?nish.” “This sounds well. He has evidently picked up the scent again,” said I. “Ah, then he has been at fault too,” exclaimed Jones, with evident satisfaction. “Even the best of us are thrown off sometimes. Of course this may prove to be a false alarm; but it is my duty as an of?cer of the law to allow no chance to slip. But there is some one at the door. Perhaps this is he.” A heavy step was heard ascending the stair, with a great wheezing and rattling as from a man who was sorely put to it for breath. Once or twice he stopped, as though the climb were too much for him, but at last he made his way to our door and entered. His appearance corresponded to the sounds which we had heard. He was an aged man, clad in seafaring garb, with an old pea-jacket but- toned up to his throat. His back was bowed, his knees were shaky, and his breathing was painfully asthmatic. As he leaned upon a thick oaken cudgel his shoulders heaved in the effort to draw the air into his lungs. He had a colored scarf round his chin, and I could see little of his face save a pair of keen dark eyes, overhung by bushy white brows, and long gray side-whiskers. Altogether he gave me the impression of a respectable master mariner who had fallen into years and poverty. “What is it, my man?” I asked. He looked about him in the slow methodical fashion of old age. “Is Mr. Sherlock Holmes here?” said he. “No; but I am acting for him. You can tell me any message you have for him.” “It was to him himself I was to tell it,” said he. “But I tell you that I am acting for him. Was it about Mordecai Smith’s boat?” “Yes. I knows well where it is. An’ I knows where the men he is after are. An’ I knows where the treasure is. I knows all about it.” “Then tell me, and I shall let him know.” “It was to him I was to tell it,” he repeated, with the petulant obstinacy of a very old man. “Well, you must wait for him.” “No, no; I ain’t goin’ to lose a whole day to please no one. If Mr. Holmes ain’t here, then Mr. Holmes must ?nd it all out for himself. I don’t care about the look of either of you, and I won’t tell a word.” He shuf?ed towards the door, but Athelney Jones got in front of him. “Wait a bit, my friend,” said he. “You have im- portant information, and you must not walk off. We shall keep you, whether you like or not, until our friend returns.” 98 TheSign of theFour The old man made a little run towards the door, but, as Athelney Jones put his broad back up against it, he recognized the uselessness of re- sistance. “Pretty sort o’ treatment this!” he cried, stamp- ing his stick. “I come here to see a gentleman, and you two, who I never saw in my life, seize me and treat me in this fashion!” “You will be none the worse,” I said. “We shall recompense you for the loss of your time. Sit over here on the sofa, and you will not have long to wait.” He came across sullenly enough, and seated himself with his face resting on his hands. Jones and I resumed our cigars and our talk. Suddenly, however, Holmes’s voice broke in upon us. “I think that you might offer me a cigar too,” he said. We both started in our chairs. There was Holmes sitting close to us with an air of quiet amusement. “Holmes!” I exclaimed. “You here! But where is the old man?” “Here is the old man,” said he, holding out a heap of white hair. “Here he is,—wig, whiskers, eyebrows, and all. I thought my disguise was pretty good, but I hardly expected that it would stand that test.” “Ah, you rogue!” cried Jones, highly delighted. “You would have made an actor, and a rare one. You had the proper workhouse cough, and those weak legs of yours are worth ten pound a week. I thought I knew the glint of your eye, though. You didn’t get away from us so easily, you see.” “I have been working in that get-up all day,” said he, lighting his cigar. “You see, a good many of the criminal classes begin to know me,—especially since our friend here took to pub- lishing some of my cases: so I can only go on the war-path under some simple disguise like this. You got my wire?” “Yes; that was what brought me here.” “How has your case prospered?” “It has all come to nothing. I have had to re- lease two of my prisoners, and there is no evidence against the other two.” “Never mind. We shall give you two others in the place of them. But you must put yourself un- der my orders. You are welcome to all the of?cial credit, but you must act on the line that I point out. Is that agreed?” “Entirely, if you will help me to the men.” “Well, then, in the ?rst place I shall want a fast police-boat—a steam launch—to be at the West- minster Stairs at seven o’clock.” “That is easily managed. There is always one about there; but I can step across the road and tele- phone to make sure.” “Then I shall want two stanch men, in case of resistance.” “There will be two or three in the boat. What else?” “When we secure the men we shall get the trea- sure. I think that it would be a pleasure to my friend here to take the box round to the young lady to whom half of it rightfully belongs. Let her be the ?rst to open it.—Eh, Watson?” “It would be a great pleasure to me.” “Rather an irregular proceeding,” said Jones, shaking his head. “However, the whole thing is irregular, and I suppose we must wink at it. The treasure must afterwards be handed over to the authorities until after the of?cial investigation.” “Certainly. That is easily managed. One other point. I should much like to have a few details about this matter from the lips of Jonathan Small himself. You know I like to work the detail of my cases out. There is no objection to my hav- ing an unof?cial interview with him, either here in my rooms or elsewhere, as long as he is ef?ciently guarded?” “Well, you are master of the situation. I have had no proof yet of the existence of this Jonathan Small. However, if you can catch him I don’t see how I can refuse you an interview with him.” “That is understood, then?” “Perfectly. Is there anything else?” “Only that I insist upon your dining with us. It will be ready in half an hour. I have oysters and a brace of grouse, with something a little choice in white wines.—Watson, you have never yet recog- nized my merits as a housekeeper.” 99 TheSign of theFour CHAPTER X.TheEnd of theIslanderOur mealwas a merry one. Holmes coud talk exceedingly well when he chose, and that night he did choose. He appeared to be in a state of nervous exaltation. I have never known him so brilliant. He spoke on a quick succession of sub- jects,—on miracle-plays, on medieval pottery, on Stradivarius violins, on the Buddhism of Ceylon, and on the war-ships of the future,—handling each as though he had made a special study of it. His bright humor marked the reaction from his black depression of the preceding days. Athelney Jones proved to be a sociable soul in his hours of relax- ation, and face his dinner with the air of abon vi- vant. For myself, I felt elated at the thought that we were nearing the end of our task, and I caught something of Holmes’s gaiety. None of us alluded during dinner to the cause which had brought us together. When the cloth was cleared, Holmes glanced at this watch, and ?lled up three glasses with port. “One bumper,” said he, “to the success of our little expedition. And now it is high time we were off. Have you a pistol, Watson?” “I have my old service-revolver in my desk.” “You had best take it, then. It is well to be pre- pared. I see that the cab is at the door. I ordered it for half-past six.” It was a little past seven before we reached the Westminster wharf, and found our launch await- ing us. Holmes eyed it critically. “Is there anything to mark it as a police-boat?” “Yes,—that green lamp at the side.” “Then take it off.” The small change was made, we stepped on board, and the ropes were cast off. Jones, Holmes, and I sat in the stern. There was one man at the rudder, one to tend the engines, and two burly police-inspectors forward. “Where to?” asked Jones. “To the Tower. Tell them to stop opposite Ja- cobson’s Yard.” Our craft was evidently a very fast one. We shot past the long lines of loaded barges as though they were stationary. Holmes smiled with satisfac- tion as we overhauled a river steamer and left her behind us. “We ought to be able to catch anything on the river,” he said. “Well, hardly that. But there are not many launches to beat us.” “We shall have to catch theAurora, and she has a name for being a clipper. I will tell you how the land lies, Watson. You recollect how annoyed I was at being balked by so small a thing?” “Yes.” “Well, I gave my mind a thorough rest by plunging into a chemical analysis. One of our greatest statesmen has said that a change of work is the best rest. So it is. When I had succeeded in dissolving the hydrocarbon which I was at work at, I came back to our problem of the Sholtos, and thought the whole matter out again. My boys had been up the river and down the river without re- sult. The launch was not at any landing-stage or wharf, nor had it returned. Yet it could hardly have been scuttled to hide their traces,—though that always remained as a possible hypothesis if all else failed. I knew this man Small had a certain degree of low cunning, but I did not think him ca- pable of anything in the nature of delicate ?nesse. That is usually a product of higher education. I then re?ected that since he had certainly been in London some time—as we had evidence that he maintained a continual watch over Pondicherry Lodge—he could hardly leave at a moment’s no- tice, but would need some little time, if it were only a day, to arrange his affairs. That was the balance of probability, at any rate.” “It seems to me to be a little weak,” said I. “It is more probable that he had arranged his affairs before ever he set out upon his expedition.” “No, I hardly think so. This lair of his would be too valuable a retreat in case of need for him to give it up until he was sure that he could do without it. But a second consideration struck me. Jonathan Small must have felt that the pecu- liar appearance of his companion, however much he may have top-coated him, would give rise to gossip, and possibly be associated with this Nor- wood tragedy. He was quite sharp enough to see that. They had started from their head-quarters under cover of darkness, and he would wish to get back before it was broad light. Now, it was past three o’clock, according to Mrs. Smith, when they got the boat. It would be quite bright, and people would be about in an hour or so. There- fore, I argued, they did not go very far. They paid Smith well to hold his tongue, reserved his launch 100 TheSign of theFour for the ?nal escape, and hurried to their lodg- ings with the treasure-box. In a couple of nights, when they had time to see what view the papers took, and whether there was any suspicion, they would make their way under cover of darkness to some ship at Gravesend or in the Downs, where no doubt they had already arranged for passages to America or the Colonies.” “But the launch? They could not have taken that to their lodgings.” “Quite so. I argued that the launch must be no great way off, in spite of its invisibility. I then put myself in the place of Small, and looked at it as a man of his capacity would. He would prob- ably consider that to send back the launch or to keep it at a wharf would make pursuit easy if the police did happen to get on his track. How, then, could he conceal the launch and yet have her at hand when wanted? I wondered what I should do myself if I were in his shoes. I could only think of one way of doing it. I might land the launch over to some boat-builder or repairer, with directions to make a tri?ing change in her. She would then be removed to his shed or hard, and so be effectually concealed, while at the same time I could have her at a few hours’ notice.” “That seems simple enough.” “It is just these very simple things which are extremely liable to be overlooked. However, I de- termined to act on the idea. I started at once in this harmless seaman’s rig and inquired at all the yards down the river. I drew blank at ?fteen, but at the sixteenth—Jacobson’s—I learned that theAu- rorahad been handed over to them two days ago by a wooden-legged man, with some trivial direc- tions as to her rudder. ‘There ain’t naught amiss with her rudder,’ said the foreman. ‘There she lies, with the red streaks.’ At that moment who should come down but Mordecai Smith, the miss- ing owner? He was rather the worse for liquor. I should not, of course, have known him, but he bel- lowed out his name and the name of his launch. ‘I want her to-night at eight o’clock,’ said he,—‘eight o’clock sharp, mind, for I have two gentlemen who won’t be kept waiting.’ They had evidently paid him well, for he was very ?ush of money, chucking shillings about to the men. I followed him some distance, but he subsided into an ale-house: so I went back to the yard, and, happening to pick up one of my boys on the way, I stationed him as a sentry over the launch. He is to stand at water’s edge and wave his handkerchief to us when they start. We shall be lying off in the stream, and it will be a strange thing if we do not take men, treasure, and all.” “You have planned it all very neatly, whether they are the right men or not,“ said Jones; ”but if the affair were in my hands I should have had a body of police in Jacobson’s Yard, and arrested them when they came down.” “Which would have been never. This man Small is a pretty shrewd fellow. He would send a scout on ahead, and if anything made him sus- picious lie snug for another week.” “But you might have stuck to Mordecai Smith, and so been led to their hiding-place,” said I. “In that case I should have wasted my day. I think that it is a hundred to one against Smith knowing where they live. As long as he has liquor and good pay, why should he ask questions? They send him messages what to do. No, I thought over every possible course, and this is the best.” While this conversation had been proceeding, we had been shooting the long series of bridges which span the Thames. As we passed the City the last rays of the sun were gilding the cross upon the summit of St. Paul’s. It was twilight before we reached the Tower. “That is Jacobson’s Yard,” said Holmes, point- ing to a bristle of masts and rigging on the Sur- rey side. “Cruise gently up and down here under cover of this string of lighters.” He took a pair of night-glasses from his pocket and gazed some time at the shore. “I see my sentry at his post,” he re- marked, “but no sign of a handkerchief.” “Suppose we go down-stream a short way and lie in wait for them,” said Jones, eagerly. We were all eager by this time, even the policemen and stok- ers, who had a very vague idea of what was going forward. “We have no right to take anything for granted,” Holmes answered. “It is certainly ten to one that they go down-stream, but we cannot be certain. From this point we can see the entrance of the yard, and they can hardly see us. It will be a clear night and plenty of light. We must stay where we are. See how the folk swarm over yon- der in the gaslight.” “They are coming from work in the yard.” “Dirty-looking rascals, but I suppose every one has some little immortal spark concealed about him. You would not think it, to look at them. There is noa prioriprobability about it. A strange enigma is man!” “Some one calls him a soul concealed in an an- imal,” I suggested. 101 TheSign of theFour “Winwood Reade is good upon the subject,” said Holmes. “He remarks that, while the individ- ual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but per- centages remain constant. So says the statistician. But do I see a handkerchief? Surely there is a white ?utter over yonder.” “Yes, it is your boy,” I cried. “I can see him plainly.” “And there is theAurora,” exclaimed Holmes, “and going like the devil! Full speed ahead, en- gineer. Make after that launch with the yellow light. By heaven, I shall never forgive myself if she proves to have the heels of us!” She had slipped unseen through the yard- entrance and passed behind two or three small craft, so that she had fairly got her speed up before we saw her. Now she was ?ying down the stream, near in to the shore, going at a tremendous rate. Jones looked gravely at her and shook his head. “She is very fast,” he said. “I doubt if we shall catch her.” “Wemustcatch her!” cried Holmes, between his teeth. “Heap it on, stokers! Make her do all she can! If we burn the boat we must have them!” We were fairly after her now. The furnaces roared, and the powerful engines whizzed and clanked, like a great metallic heart. Her sharp, steep prow cut through the river-water and sent two rolling waves to right and to left of us. With every throb of the engines we sprang and quivered like a living thing. One great yellow lantern in our bows threw a long, ?ickering funnel of light in front of us. Right ahead a dark blur upon the wa- ter showed where theAuroralay, and the swirl of white foam behind her spoke of the pace at which she was going. We ?ashed past barges, steamers, merchant-vessels, in and out, behind this one and round the other. Voices hailed us out of the dark- ness, but still theAurorathundered on, and still we followed close upon her track. “Pile it on, men, pile it on!” cried Holmes, look- ing down into the engine-room, while the ?erce glow from below beat upon his eager, aquiline face. “Get every pound of steam you can.” “I think we gain a little,” said Jones, with his eyes on theaAurora. “I am sure of it,” said I. “We shall be up with her in a very few minutes.” At that moment, however, as our evil fate would have it, a tug with three barges in tow blun- dered in between us. It was only by putting our helm hard down that we avoided a collision, and before we could round them and recover our way theAurorahad gained a good two hundred yards. She was still, however, well in view, and the murky uncertain twilight was setting into a clear starlit night. Our boilers were strained to their utmost, and the frail shell vibrated and creaked with the ?erce energy which was driving us along. We had shot through the Pool, past the West India Docks, down the long Deptford Reach, and up again af- ter rounding the Isle of Dogs. The dull blur in front of us resolved itself now clearly enough into the daintyAurora. Jones turned our search-light upon her, so that we could plainly see the ?gures upon her deck. One man sat by the stern, with something black between his knees over which he stooped. Beside him lay a dark mass which looked like a Newfoundland dog. The boy held the tiller, while against the red glare of the furnace I could see old Smith, stripped to the waist, and shovel- ling coals for dear life. They may have had some doubt at ?rst as to whether we were really pur- suing them, but now as we followed every wind- ing and turning which they took there could no longer be any question about it. At Greenwich we were about three hundred paces behind them. At Blackwall we could not have been more than two hundred and ?fty. I have coursed many crea- tures in many countries during my checkered ca- reer, but never did sport give me such a wild thrill as this mad, ?ying man-hunt down the Thames. Steadily we drew in upon them, yard by yard. In the silence of the night we could hear the panting and clanking of their machinery. The man in the stern still crouched upon the deck, and his arms were moving as though he were busy, while ev- ery now and then he would look up and measure with a glance the distance which still separated us. Nearer we came and nearer. Jones yelled to them to stop. We were not more than four boat’s lengths behind them, both boats ?ying at a tremendous pace. It was a clear reach of the river, with Bark- ing Level upon one side and the melancholy Plum- stead Marshes upon the other. At our hail the man in the stern sprang up from the deck and shook his two clinched ?sts at us, cursing the while in a high, cracked voice. He was a good-sized, pow- erful man, and as he stood poising himself with legs astride I could see that from the thigh down- wards there was but a wooden stump upon the right side. At the sound of his strident, angry cries there was movement in the huddled bundle upon 102 TheSign of theFour the deck. It straightened itself into a little black man—the smallest I have ever seen—with a great, misshapen head and a shock of tangled, dishev- elled hair. Holmes had already drawn his revolver, and I whipped out mine at the sight of this sav- age, distorted creature. He was wrapped in some sort of dark ulster or blanket, which left only his face exposed; but that face was enough to give a man a sleepless night. Never have I seen features so deeply marked with all bestiality and cruelty. His small eyes glowed and burned with a sombre light, and his thick lips were writhed back from his teeth, which grinned and chattered at us with a half animal fury. “Fire if he raises his hand,” said Holmes, qui- etly. We were within a boat’s-length by this time, and almost within touch of our quarry. I can see the two of them now as they stood, the white man with his legs far apart, shrieking out curses, and the unhallowed dwarf with his hideous face, and his strong yellow teeth gnashing at us in the light of our lantern. It was well that we had so clear a view of him. Even as we looked he plucked out from under his covering a short, round piece of wood, like a school-ruler, and clapped it to his lips. Our pis- tols rang out together. He whirled round, threw up his arms, and with a kind of choking cough fell sideways into the stream. I caught one glimpse of his venomous, menacing eyes amid the white swirl of the waters. At the same moment the wooden- legged man threw himself upon the rudder and put it hard down, so that his boat made straight in for the southern bank, while we shot past her stern, only clearing her by a few feet. We were round after her in an instant, but she was already nearly at the bank. It was a wild and desolate place, where the moon glimmered upon a wide ex- panse of marsh-land, with pools of stagnant water and beds of decaying vegetation. The launch with a dull thud ran up upon the mud-bank, with her bow in the air and her stern ?ush with the water. The fugitive sprang out, but his stump instantly sank its whole length into the sodden soil. In vain he struggled and writhed. Not one step could he possibly take either forwards or backwards. He yelled in impotent rage, and kicked frantically into the mud with his other foot, but his struggles only bored his wooden pin the deeper into the sticky bank. When we brought our launch alongside he was so ?rmly anchored that it was only by throw- ing the end of a rope over his shoulders that we were able to haul him out, and to drag him, like some evil ?sh, over our side. The two Smiths, father and son, sat sullenly in their launch, but came aboard meekly enough when commanded. TheAuroraherself we hauled off and made fast to our stern. A solid iron chest of Indian work- manship stood upon the deck. This, there could be no question, was the same that had contained the ill-omened treasure of the Sholtos. There was no key, but it was of considerable weight, so we transferred it carefully to our own little cabin. As we steamed slowly up-stream again, we ?ashed our search-light in every direction, but there was no sign of the Islander. Somewhere in the dark ooze at the bottom of the Thames lie the bones of that strange visitor to our shores. “See here,” said Holmes, pointing to the wooden hatchway. “We were hardly quick enough with our pistols.” There, sure enough, just behind where we had been standing, stuck one of those murderous darts which we knew so well. It must have whizzed between us at the instant that we ?red. Holmes smiled at it and shrugged his shoul- ders in his easy fashion, but I confess that it turned me sick to think of the horrible death which had passed so close to us that night.CHAPTER XI.TheGreatAgraTreasureOur captivesat in the cabin opposite to the iron box which he had done so much and waited so long to gain. He was a sunburned, reckless- eyed fellow, with a net-work of lines and wrinkles all over his mahogany features, which told of a hard, open-air life. There was a singular promi- nence about his bearded chin which marked a man who was not to be easily turned from his purpose. 103 TheSign of theFour His age may have been ?fty or thereabouts, for his black, curly hair was thickly shot with gray. His face in repose was not an unpleasing one, though his heavy brows and aggressive chin gave him, as I had lately seen, a terrible expression when moved to anger. He sat now with his handcuffed hands upon his lap, and his head sunk upon his breast, while he looked with his keen, twinkling eyes at the box which had been the cause of his ill-doings. It seemed to me that there was more sorrow than anger in his rigid and contained coun- tenance. Once he looked up at me with a gleam of something like humor in his eyes. “Well, Jonathan Small,” said Holmes, lighting a cigar, “I am sorry that it has come to this.” “And so am I, sir,” he answered, frankly. “I don’t believe that I can swing over the job. I give you my word on the book that I never raised hand against Mr. Sholto. It was that little hell-hound Tonga who shot one of his cursed darts into him. I had no part in it, sir. I was as grieved as if it had been my blood-relation. I welted the little devil with the slack end of the rope for it, but it was done, and I could not undo it again.” “Have a cigar,” said Holmes; “and you had best take a pull out of my ?ask, for you are very wet. How could you expect so small and weak a man as this black fellow to overpower Mr. Sholto and hold him while you were climbing the rope?” “You seem to know as much about it as if you were there, sir. The truth is that I hoped to ?nd the room clear. I knew the habits of the house pretty well, and it was the time when Mr. Sholto usually went down to his supper. I shall make no secret of the business. The best defence that I can make is just the simple truth. Now, if it had been the old major I would have swung for him with a light heart. I would have thought no more of kni?ng him than of smoking this cigar. But it’s cursed hard that I should be lagged over this young Sholto, with whom I had no quarrel whatever.” “You are under the charge of Mr. Athelney Jones, of Scotland Yard. He is going to bring you up to my rooms, and I shall ask you for a true ac- count of the matter. You must make a clean breast of it, for if you do I hope that I may be of use to you. I think I can prove that the poison acts so quickly that the man was dead before ever you reached the room.” “That he was, sir. I never got such a turn in my life as when I saw him grinning at me with his head on his shoulder as I climbed through the window. It fairly shook me, sir. I’d have half killed Tonga for it if he had not scrambled off. That was how he came to leave his club, and some of his darts too, as he tells me, which I dare say helped to put you on our track; though how you kept on it is more than I can tell. I don’t feel no mal- ice against you for it. But it does seem a queer thing,” he added, with a bitter smile, “that I who have a fair claim to nigh upon half a million of money should spend the ?rst half of my life build- ing a breakwater in the Andamans, and am like to spend the other half digging drains at Dartmoor. It was an evil day for me when ?rst I clapped eyes upon the merchant Achmet and had to do with the Agra treasure, which never brought anything but a curse yet upon the man who owned it. To him it brought murder, to Major Sholto it brought fear and guilt, to me it has meant slavery for life.” At this moment Athelney Jones thrust his broad face and heavy shoulders into the tiny cabin. “Quite a family party,” he remarked. “I think I shall have a pull at that ?ask, Holmes. Well, I think we may all congratulate each other. Pity we didn’t take the other alive; but there was no choice. I say, Holmes, you must confess that you cut it rather ?ne. It was all we could do to overhaul her.” “All is well that ends well,” said Holmes. “But I certainly did not know that theAurorawas such a clipper.” “Smith says she is one of the fastest launches on the river, and that if he had had another man to help him with the engines we should never have caught her. He swears he knew nothing of this Norwood business.” “Neither he did,” cried our prisoner,—“not a word. I chose his launch because I heard that she was a ?ier. We told him nothing, but we paid him well, and he was to get something handsome if we reached our vessel, theEsmeralda, at Gravesend, outward bound for the Brazils.” “Well, if he has done no wrong we shall see that no wrong comes to him. If we are pretty quick in catching our men, we are not so quick in condemn- ing them.” It was amusing to notice how the conse- quential Jones was already beginning to give him- self airs on the strength of the capture. From the slight smile which played over Sherlock Holmes’s face, I could see that the speech had not been lost upon him. “We will be at Vauxhall Bridge presently,” said Jones, “and shall land you, Dr. Watson, with the treasure-box. I need hardly tell you that I am tak- ing a very grave responsibility upon myself in do- ing this. It is most irregular; but of course an agreement is an agreement. I must, however, as 104 TheSign of theFour a matter of duty, send an inspector with you, since you have so valuable a charge. You will drive, no doubt?” “Yes, I shall drive.” “It is a pity there is no key, that we may make an inventory ?rst. You will have to break it open. Where is the key, my man?” “At the bottom of the river,” said Small, shortly. “Hum! There was no use your giving this un- necessary trouble. We have had work enough al- ready through you. However, doctor, I need not warn you to be careful. Bring the box back with you to the Baker Street rooms. You will ?nd us there, on our way to the station.” They landed me at Vauxhall, with my heavy iron box, and with a bluff, genial inspector as my companion. A quarter of an hour’s drive brought us to Mrs. Cecil Forrester’s. The servant seemed surprised at so late a visitor. Mrs. Cecil Forrester was out for the evening, she explained, and likely to be very late. Miss Morstan, however, was in the drawing-room: so to the drawing-room I went, box in hand, leaving the obliging inspector in the cab. She was seated by the open window, dressed in some sort of white diaphanous material, with a little touch of scarlet at the neck and waist. The soft light of a shaded lamp fell upon her as she leaned back in the basket chair, playing over her sweet, grave face, and tinting with a dull, metal- lic sparkle the rich coils of her luxuriant hair. One white arm and hand drooped over the side of the chair, and her whole pose and ?gure spoke of an absorbing melancholy. At the sound of my foot- fall she sprang to her feet, however, and a bright ?ush of surprise and of pleasure colored her pale cheeks. “I heard a cab drive up,” she said. “I thought that Mrs. Forrester had come back very early, but I never dreamed that it might be you. What news have you brought me?” “I have brought something better than news,” said I, putting down the box upon the table and speaking jovially and boisterously, though my heart was heavy within me. “I have brought you something which is worth all the news in the world. I have brought you a fortune.” She glanced at iron box. “Is that the treasure, then?” she asked, coolly enough. “Yes, this is the great Agra treasure. Half of it is yours and half is Thaddeus Sholto’s. You will have a couple of hundred thousand each. Think of that! An annuity of ten thousand pounds. There will be few richer young ladies in England. Is it not glorious?” I think that I must have been rather overacting my delight, and that she detected a hollow ring in my congratulations, for I saw her eyebrows rise a little, and she glanced at me curiously. “If I have it,” said she, “I owe it to you.” “No, no,” I answered, “not to me, but to my friend Sherlock Holmes. With all the will in the world, I could never have followed up a clue which has taxed even his analytical genius. As it was, we very nearly lost it at the last moment.” “Pray sit down and tell me all about it, Dr. Wat- son,” said she. I narrated brie?y what had occurred since I had seen her last,—Holmes’s new method of search, the discovery of theAurora, the appearance of Athelney Jones, our expedition in the evening, and the wild chase down the Thames. She listened with parted lips and shining eyes to my recital of our adventures. When I spoke of the dart which had so narrowly missed us, she turned so white that I feared that she was about to faint. “It is nothing,” she said, as I hastened to pour her out some water. “I am all right again. It was a shock to me to hear that I had placed my friends in such horrible peril.” “That is all over,” I answered. “It was nothing. I will tell you no more gloomy details. Let us turn to something brighter. There is the treasure. What could be brighter than that? I got leave to bring it with me, thinking that it would interest you to be the ?rst to see it.” “It would be of the greatest interest to me,” she said. There was no eagerness in her voice, how- ever. It had struck her, doubtless, that it might seem ungracious upon her part to be indifferent to a prize which had cost so much to win. “What a pretty box!” she said, stooping over it. “This is Indian work, I suppose?” “Yes; it is Benares metal-work.” “And so heavy!” she exclaimed, trying to raise it. “The box alone must be of some value. Where is the key?” “Small threw it into the Thames,” I answered. “I must borrow Mrs. Forrester’s poker.” There was in the front a thick and broad hasp, wrought in the image of a sitting Buddha. Under this I thrust the end of the poker and twisted it outward as a lever. The hasp sprang open with a loud snap. With trembling ?ngers I ?ung back the lid. We both stood gazing in astonishment. The box was empty! 105 TheSign of theFour No wonder that it was heavy. The iron-work was two-thirds of an inch thick all round. It was massive, well made, and solid, like a chest con- structed to carry things of great price, but not one shred or crumb of metal or jewelry lay within it. It was absolutely and completely empty. “The treasure is lost,” said Miss Morstan, calmly. As I listened to the words and realized what they meant, a great shadow seemed to pass from my soul. I did not know how this Agra treasure had weighed me down, until now that it was ?- nally removed. It was sel?sh, no doubt, disloyal, wrong, but I could realize nothing save that the golden barrier was gone from between us. “Thank God!” I ejaculated from my very heart. She looked at me with a quick, questioning smile. “Why do you say that?” she asked. “Because you are within my reach again,” I said, taking her hand. She did not withdraw it. “Because I love you, Mary, as truly as ever a man loved a woman. Because this treasure, these riches, sealed my lips. Now that they are gone I can tell you how I love you. That is why I said, ‘Thank God.’ ” “Then I say, ‘Thank God,’ too,” she whispered, as I drew her to my side. Whoever had lost a trea- sure, I knew that night that I had gained one.CHAPTER XII.TheStrangeStory ofJonathanSmallAvery patientman was that inspector in the cab, for it was a weary time before I rejoined him. His face clouded over when I showed him the empty box. “There goes the reward!” said he, gloomily. “Where there is no money there is no pay. This night’s work would have been worth a tenner each to Sam Brown and me if the treasure had been there.” “Mr. Thaddeus Sholto is a rich man,” I said. “He will see that you are rewarded, treasure or no.” The inspector shook his head despondently, however. “It’s a bad job,” he repeated; “and so Mr. Athelney Jones will think.” His forecast proved to be correct, for the de- tective looked blank enough when I got to Baker Street and showed him the empty box. They had only just arrived, Holmes, the prisoner, and he, for they had changed their plans so far as to report themselves at a station upon the way. My compan- ion lounged in his arm-chair with his usual list- less expression, while Small sat stolidly opposite to him with his wooden leg cocked over his sound one. As I exhibited the empty box he leaned back in his chair and laughed aloud. “This is your doing, Small,” said Athelney Jones, angrily. “Yes, I have put it away where you shall never lay hand upon it,” he cried, exultantly. “It is my treasure; and if I can’t have the loot I’ll take darned good care that no one else does. I tell you that no living man has any right to it, unless it is three men who are in the Andaman convict-barracks and myself. I know now that I cannot have the use of it, and I know that they cannot. I have acted all through for them as much as for myself. It’s been the sign of four with us always. Well I know that they would have had me do just what I have done, and throw the treasure into the Thames rather than let it go to kith or kin of Sholto or of Morstan. It was not to make them rich that we did for Achmet. You’ll ?nd the treasure where the key is, and where little Tonga is. When I saw that your launch must catch us, I put the loot away in a safe place. There are no rupees for you this journey.” “You are deceiving us, Small,” said Athelney Jones, sternly. “If you had wished to throw the treasure into the Thames it would have been eas- ier for you to have thrown box and all.” “Easier for me to throw, and easier for you to recover,” he answered, with a shrewd, sidelong look. “The man that was clever enough to hunt me down is clever enough to pick an iron box from the bottom of a river. Now that they are scattered over ?ve miles or so, it may be a harder job. It went to my heart to do it, though. I was half mad when 106 TheSign of theFour you came up with us. However, there’s no good grieving over it. I’ve had ups in my life, and I’ve had downs, but I’ve learned not to cry over spilled milk.” “This is a very serious matter, Small,” said the detective. “If you had helped justice, instead of thwarting it in this way, you would have had a better chance at your trial.” “Justice!” snarled the ex-convict. “A pretty jus- tice! Whose loot is this, if it is not ours? Where is the justice that I should give it up to those who have never earned it? Look how I have earned it! Twenty long years in that fever-ridden swamp, all day at work under the mangrove-tree, all night chained up in the ?lthy convict-huts, bitten by mosquitoes, racked with ague, bullied by every cursed black-faced policeman who loved to take it out of a white man. That was how I earned the Agra treasure; and you talk to me of justice be- cause I cannot bear to feel that I have paid this price only that another may enjoy it! I would rather swing a score of times, or have one of Tonga’s darts in my hide, than live in a convict’s cell and feel that another man is at his ease in a palace with the money that should be mine.” Small had dropped his mask of stoicism, and all this came out in a wild whirl of words, while his eyes blazed, and the handcuffs clanked together with the impassioned movement of his hands. I could understand, as I saw the fury and the passion of the man, that it was no groundless or unnatural terror which had possessed Major Sholto when he ?rst learned that the injured convict was upon his track. “You forget that we know nothing of all this,” said Holmes quietly. “We have not heard your story, and we cannot tell how far justice may orig- inally have been on your side.” “Well, sir, you have been very fair-spoken to me, though I can see that I have you to thank that I have these bracelets upon my wrists. Still, I bear no grudge for that. It is all fair and above-board. If you want to hear my story I have no wish to hold it back. What I say to you is God’s truth, every word of it. Thank you; you can put the glass beside me here, and I’ll put my lips to it if I am dry. “I am a Worcestershire man myself,—born near Pershore. I dare say you would ?nd a heap of Smalls living there now if you were to look. I have often thought of taking a look round there, but the truth is that I was never much of a credit to the family, and I doubt if they would be so very glad to see me. They were all steady, chapel-going folk, small farmers, well known and respected over the country-side, while I was always a bit of a rover. At last, however, when I was about eighteen, I gave them no more trouble, for I got into a mess over a girl, and could only get out of it again by tak- ing the queen’s shilling and joining the3d Buffs, which was just starting for India. “I wasn’t destined to do much soldiering, how- ever. I had just got past the goose-step, and learned to handle my musket, when I was fool enough to go swimming in the Ganges. Luckily for me, my company sergeant, John Holder, was in the water at the same time, and he was one of the ?nest swimmers in the service. A crocodile took me, just as I was half-way across, and nipped off my right leg as clean as a surgeon could have done it, just above the knee. What with the shock and the loss of blood, I fainted, and should have drowned if Holder had not caught hold of me and paddled for the bank. I was ?ve months in hospital over it, and when at last I was able to limp out of it with this timber toe strapped to my stump I found myself invalided out of the army and un?tted for any active occupation. “I was, as you can imagine, pretty down on my luck at this time, for I was a useless cripple though not yet in my twentieth year. However, my misfor- tune soon proved to be a blessing in disguise. A man named Abelwhite, who had come out there as an indigo-planter, wanted an overseer to look after his coolies and keep them up to their work. He happened to be a friend of our colonel’s, who had taken an interest in me since the accident. To make a long story short, the colonel recommended me strongly for the post and, as the work was mostly to be done on horseback, my leg was no great ob- stacle, for I had enough knee left to keep good grip on the saddle. What I had to do was to ride over the plantation, to keep an eye on the men as they worked, and to report the idlers. The pay was fair, I had comfortable quarters, and altogether I was content to spend the remainder of my life in indigo-planting. Mr. Abelwhite was a kind man, and he would often drop into my little shanty and smoke a pipe with me, for white folk out there feel their hearts warm to each other as they never do here at home. “Well, I was never in luck’s way long. Sud- denly, without a note of warning, the great mutiny broke upon us. One month India lay as still and peaceful, to all appearance, as Surrey or Kent; the next there were two hundred thousand black dev- ils let loose, and the country was a perfect hell. Of course you know all about it, gentlemen,—a deal more than I do, very like, since reading is not in 107 TheSign of theFour my line. I only know what I saw with my own eyes. Our plantation was at a place called Muttra, near the border of the Northwest Provinces. Night after night the whole sky was alight with the burn- ing bungalows, and day after day we had small companies of Europeans passing through our es- tate with their wives and children, on their way to Agra, where were the nearest troops. Mr. Abel- white was an obstinate man. He had it in his head that the affair had been exaggerated, and that it would blow over as suddenly as it had sprung up. There he sat on his veranda, drinking whiskey- pegs and smoking cheroots, while the country was in a blaze about him. Of course we stuck by him, I and Dawson, who, with his wife, used to do the book-work and the managing. Well, one ?ne day the crash came. I had been away on a distant plan- tation, and was riding slowly home in the evening, when my eye fell upon something all huddled to- gether at the bottom of a steep nullah. I rode down to see what it was, and the cold struck through my heart when I found it was Dawson’s wife, all cut into ribbons, and half eaten by jackals and native dogs. A little further up the road Dawson him- self was lying on his face, quite dead, with an empty revolver in his hand and four Sepoys lying across each other in front of him. I reined up my horse, wondering which way I should turn, but at that moment I saw thick smoke curling up from Abelwhite’s bungalow and the ?ames beginning to burst through the roof. I knew then that I could do my employer no good, but would only throw my own life away if I meddled in the matter. From where I stood I could see hundreds of the black ?ends, with their red coats still on their backs, dancing and howling round the burning house. Some of them pointed at me, and a couple of bul- lets sang past my head; so I broke away across the paddy-?elds, and found myself late at night safe within the walls at Agra. “As it proved, however, there was no great safety there, either. The whole country was up like a swarm of bees. Wherever the English could collect in little bands they held just the ground that their guns commanded. Everywhere else they were helpless fugitives. It was a ?ght of the mil- lions against the hundreds; and the cruellest part of it was that these men that we fought against, foot, horse, and gunners, were our own picked troops, whom we had taught and trained, han- dling our own weapons, and blowing our own bugle-calls. At Agra there were the3d Bengal Fusiliers, some Sikhs, two troops of horse, and a battery of artillery. A volunteer corps of clerks and merchants had been formed, and this I joined, wooden leg and all. We went out to meet the rebels at Shahgunge early in July, and we beat them back for a time, but our powder gave out, and we had to fall back upon the city. Nothing but the worst news came to us from every side,—which is not to be wondered at, for if you look at the map you will see that we were right in the heart of it. Lucknow is rather better than a hundred miles to the east, and Cawnpore about as far to the south. From ev- ery point on the compass there was nothing but torture and murder and outrage. “The city of Agra is a great place, swarming with fanatics and ?erce devil-worshippers of all sorts. Our handful of men were lost among the narrow, winding streets. Our leader moved across the river, therefore, and took up his position in the old fort at Agra. I don’t know if any of you gentle- men have ever read or heard anything of that old fort. It is a very queer place,—the queerest that ever I was in, and I have been in some rum corners, too. First of all, it is enormous in size. I should think that the enclosure must be acres and acres. There is a modern part, which took all our garri- son, women, children, stores, and everything else, with plenty of room over. But the modern part is nothing like the size of the old quarter, where nobody goes, and which is given over to the scor- pions and the centipedes. It is all full of great de- serted halls, and winding passages, and long cor- ridors twisting in and out, so that it is easy enough for folk to get lost in it. For this reason it was sel- dom that any one went into it, though now and again a party with torches might go exploring. “The river washes along the front of the old fort, and so protects it, but on the sides and be- hind there are many doors, and these had to be guarded, of course, in the old quarter as well as in that which was actually held by our troops. We were short-handed, with hardly men enough to man the angles of the building and to serve the guns. It was impossible for us, therefore, to sta- tion a strong guard at every one of the innumer- able gates. What we did was to organize a cen- tral guard-house in the middle of the fort, and to leave each gate under the charge of one white man and two or three natives. I was selected to take charge during certain hours of the night of a small isolated door upon the southwest side of the building. Two Sikh troopers were placed un- der my command, and I was instructed if anything went wrong to ?re my musket, when I might rely upon help coming at once from the central guard. As the guard was a good two hundred paces away, however, and as the space between was cut up into a labyrinth of passages and corridors, I had great 108 TheSign of theFour doubts as to whether they could arrive in time to be of any use in case of an actual attack. “Well, I was pretty proud at having this small command given me, since I was a raw recruit, and a game-legged one at that. For two nights I kept the watch with my Punjaubees. They were tall, ?erce-looking chaps, Mahomet Singh and Abdul- lah Khan by name, both old ?ghting-men who had borne arms against us at Chilian-wallah. They could talk English pretty well, but I could get little out of them. They preferred to stand together and jabber all night in their queer Sikh lingo. For my- self, I used to stand outside the gate-way, looking down on the broad, winding river and on the twin- kling lights of the great city. The beating of drums, the rattle of tomtoms, and the yells and howls of the rebels, drunk with opium and with bang, were enough to remind us all night of our dangerous neighbors across the stream. Every two hours the of?cer of the night used to come round to all the posts, to make sure that all was well. “The third night of my watch was dark and dirty, with a small, driving rain. It was dreary work standing in the gate-way hour after hour in such weather. I tried again and again to make my Sikhs talk, but without much success. At two in the morning the rounds passed, and broke for a moment the weariness of the night. Finding that my companions would not be led into conversa- tion, I took out my pipe, and laid down my mus- ket to strike the match. In an instant the two Sikhs were upon me. One of them snatched my ?relock up and levelled it at my head, while the other held a great knife to my throat and swore between his teeth that he would plunge it into me if I moved a step. “My ?rst thought was that these fellows were in league with the rebels, and that this was the beginning of an assault. If our door were in the hands of the Sepoys the place must fall, and the women and children be treated as they were in Cawnpore. Maybe you gentlemen think that I am just making out a case for myself, but I give you my word that when I thought of that, though I felt the point of the knife at my throat, I opened my mouth with the intention of giving a scream, if it was my last one, which might alarm the main guard. The man who held me seemed to know my thoughts; for, even as I braced myself to it, he whispered, ‘Don’t make a noise. The fort is safe enough. There are no rebel dogs on this side of the river.’ There was the ring of truth in what he said, and I knew that if I raised my voice I was a dead man. I could read it in the fellow’s brown eyes. I waited, therefore, in silence, to see what it was that they wanted from me. “ ‘Listen to me, Sahib,’ said the taller and ?ercer of the pair, the one whom they called Abdullah Khan. ‘You must either be with us now or you must be silenced forever. The thing is too great a one for us to hesitate. Either you are heart and soul with us on your oath on the cross of the Chris- tians, or your body this night shall be thrown into the ditch and we shall pass over to our brothers in the rebel army. There is no middle way. Which is it to be, death or life? We can only give you three minutes to decide, for the time is passing, and all must be done before the rounds come again.’ “ ‘How can I decide?’ said I. ‘You have not told me what you want of me. But I tell you know that if it is anything against the safety of the fort I will have no truck with it, so you can drive home your knife and welcome.’ “ ‘It is nothing against the fort,’ said he. ‘We only ask you to do that which your countrymen come to this land for. We ask you to be rich. If you will be one of us this night, we will swear to you upon the naked knife, and by the threefold oath which no Sikh was ever known to break, that you shall have your fair share of the loot. A quarter of the treasure shall be yours. We can say no fairer.’ “ ‘But what is the treasure, then?’ I asked. ‘I am as ready to be rich as you can be, if you will but show me how it can be done.’ “ ‘You will swear, then,’ said he, ‘by the bones of your father, by the honor of your mother, by the cross of your faith, to raise no hand and speak no word against us, either now or afterwards?’ “ ‘I will swear it,’ I answered, ‘provided that the fort is not endangered.’ “ ‘Then my comrade and I will swear that you shall have a quarter of the treasure which shall be equally divided among the four of us.’ “ ‘There are but three,’ said I. “ ‘No; Dost Akbar must have his share. We can tell the tale to you while we await them. Do you stand at the gate, Mahomet Singh, and give no- tice of their coming. The thing stands thus, Sahib, and I tell it to you because I know that an oath is binding upon a Feringhee, and that we may trust you. Had you been a lying Hindoo, though you had sworn by all the gods in their false temples, your blood would have been upon the knife, and your body in the water. But the Sikh knows the Englishman, and the Englishman knows the Sikh. Hearken, then, to what I have to say. 109 TheSign of theFour “ ‘There is a rajah in the northern provinces who has much wealth, though his lands are small. Much has come to him from his father, and more still he has set by himself, for he is of a low nature and hoards his gold rather than spend it. When the troubles broke out he would be friends both with the lion and the tiger,—with the Sepoy and with the Company’sraj. Soon, however, it seemed to him that the white men’s day was come, for through all the land he could hear of nothing but of their death and their overthrow. Yet, being a careful man, he made such plans that, come what might, half at least of his treasure should be left to him. That which was in gold and silver he kept by him in the vaults of his palace, but the most pre- cious stones and the choicest pearls that he had he put in an iron box, and sent it by a trusty servant who, under the guise of a merchant, should take it to the fort at Agra, there to lie until the land is at peace. Thus, if the rebels won he would have his money, but if the Company conquered his jewels would be saved to him. Having thus divided his hoard, he threw himself into the cause of the Se- poys, since they were strong upon his borders. By doing this, mark you, Sahib, his property becomes the due of those who have been true to their salt. “ ‘This pretended merchant, who travels under the name of Achmet, is now in the city of Agra, and desires to gain his way into the fort. He has with him as travelling-companion my foster- brother Dost Akbar, who knows his secret. Dost Akbar has promised this night to lead him to a side-postern of the fort, and has chosen this one for his purpose. Here he will come presently, and here he will ?nd Mahomet Singh and myself awaiting him. The place is lonely, and none shall know of his coming. The world shall know of the merchant Achmet no more, but the great treasure of the ra- jah shall be divided among us. What say you to it, Sahib?’ “In Worcestershire the life of a man seems a great and a sacred thing; but it is very different when there is ?re and blood all round you and you have been used to meeting death at every turn. Whether Achmet the merchant lived or died was a thing as light as air to me, but at the talk about the treasure my heart turned to it, and I thought of what I might do in the old country with it, and how my folk would stare when they saw their ne’er-do-well coming back with his pockets full of gold moidores. I had, therefore, already made up my mind. Abdullah Khan, however, thinking that I hesitated, pressed the matter more closely. “ ‘Consider, Sahib,’ said he, ‘that if this man is taken by the commandant he will be hung or shot, and his jewels taken by the government, so that no man will be a rupee the better for them. Now, since we do the taking of him, why should we not do the rest as well? The jewels will be as well with us as in the Company’s coffers. There will be enough to make every one of us rich men and great chiefs. No one can know about the matter, for here we are cut off from all men. What could be better for the purpose? Say again, then, Sahib, whether you are with us, or if we must look upon you as an enemy.’ “ ‘I am with you heart and soul,’ said I. “ ‘It is well,’ he answered, handing me back my ?relock. ‘You see that we trust you, for your word, like ours, is not to be broken. We have now only to wait for my brother and the merchant.’ “ ‘Does your brother know, then, of what you will do?’ I asked. “ ‘The plan is his. He has devised it. We will go to the gate and share the watch with Mahomet Singh.’ “The rain was still falling steadily, for it was just the beginning of the wet season. Brown, heavy clouds were drifting across the sky, and it was hard to see more than a stone-cast. A deep moat lay in front of our door, but the water was in places nearly dried up, and it could easily be crossed. It was strange to me to be standing there with those two wild Punjaubees waiting for the man who was coming to his death. “Suddenly my eye caught the glint of a shaded lantern at the other side of the moat. It van- ished among the mound-heaps, and then appeared again coming slowly in our direction. “ ‘Here they are!’ I exclaimed. “ ‘You will challenge him, Sahib, as usual,’ whispered Abdullah. ‘Give him no cause for fear. Send us in with him, and we shall do the rest while you stay here on guard. Have the lantern ready to uncover, that we may be sure that it is indeed the man.’ “The light had ?ickered onwards, now stop- ping and now advancing, until I could see two dark ?gures upon the other side of the moat. I let them scramble down the sloping bank, splash through the mire, and climb half-way up to the gate, before I challenged them. “ ‘Who goes there?’ said I, in a subdued voice. “ ‘Friends,’ came the answer. I uncovered my lantern and threw a ?ood of light upon them. The ?rst was an enormous Sikh, with a black beard which swept nearly down to his cummerbund. Outside of a show I have never seen so tall a man. The other was a little, fat, round fellow, with a great yellow turban, and a bundle in his hand, 110 TheSign of theFour done up in a shawl. He seemed to be all in a quiver with fear, for his hands twitched as if he had the ague, and his head kept turning to left and right with two bright little twinkling eyes, like a mouse when he ventures out from his hole. It gave me the chills to think of killing him, but I thought of the treasure, and my heart set as hard as a ?int within me. When he saw my white face he gave a little chirrup of joy and came running up towards me. “ ‘Your protection, Sahib,’ he panted,—‘your protection for the unhappy merchant Achmet. I have travelled across Rajpootana that I might seek the shelter of the fort at Agra. I have been robbed and beaten and abused because I have been the friend of the Company. It is a blessed night this when I am once more in safety,—I and my poor possessions.’ “ ‘What have you in the bundle?’ I asked. “ ‘An iron box,’ he answered, ‘which contains one or two little family matters which are of no value to others, but which I should be sorry to lose. Yet I am not a beggar; and I shall reward you, young Sahib, and your governor also, if he will give me the shelter I ask.’ “I could not trust myself to speak longer with the man. The more I looked at his fat, frightened face, the harder did it seem that we should slay him in cold blood. It was best to get it over. “ ‘Take him to the main guard,’ said I. The two Sikhs closed in upon him on each side, and the gi- ant walked behind, while they marched in through the dark gate-way. Never was a man so compassed round with death. I remained at the gate-way with the lantern. “I could hear the measured tramp of their foot- steps sounding through the lonely corridors. Sud- denly it ceased, and I heard voices, and a scuf?e, with the sound of blows. A moment later there came, to my horror, a rush of footsteps coming in my direction, with the loud breathing of a running man. I turned my lantern down the long, straight passage, and there was the fat man, running like the wind, with a smear of blood across his face, and close at his heels, bounding like a tiger, the great black-bearded Sikh, with a knife ?ashing in his hand. I have never seen a man run so fast as that little merchant. He was gaining on the Sikh, and I could see that if he once passed me and got to the open air he would save himself yet. My heart softened to him, but again the thought of his treasure turned me hard and bitter. I cast my ?relock between his legs as he raced past, and he rolled twice over like a shot rabbit. Ere he could stagger to his feet the Sikh was upon him, and buried his knife twice in his side. The man never uttered moan nor moved muscle, but lay were he had fallen. I think myself that he may have broken his neck with the fall. You see, gentlemen, that I am keeping my promise. I am telling you every work of the business just exactly as it happened, whether it is in my favor or not.” He stopped, and held out his manacled hands for the whiskey-and-water which Holmes had brewed for him. For myself, I confess that I had now conceived the utmost horror of the man, not only for this cold-blooded business in which he had been concerned, but even more for the some- what ?ippant and careless way in which he nar- rated it. Whatever punishment was in store for him, I felt that he might expect no sympathy from me. Sherlock Holmes and Jones sat with their hands upon their knees, deeply interested in the story, but with the same disgust written upon their faces. He may have observed it, for there was a touch of de?ance in his voice and manner as he proceeded. “It was all very bad, no doubt,” said he. “I should like to know how many fellows in my shoes would have refused a share of this loot when they knew that they would have their throats cut for their pains. Besides, it was my life or his when once he was in the fort. If he had got out, the whole business would come to light, and I should have been court-martialled and shot as likely as not; for people were not very lenient at a time like that.” “Go on with your story,” said Holmes, shortly. “Well, we carried him in, Abdullah, Akbar, and I. A ?ne weight he was, too, for all that he was so short. Mahomet Singh was left to guard the door. We took him to a place which the Sikhs had al- ready prepared. It was some distance off, where a winding passage leads to a great empty hall, the brick walls of which were all crumbling to pieces. The earth ?oor had sunk in at one place, making a natural grave, so we left Achmet the merchant there, having ?rst covered him over with loose bricks. This done, we all went back to the treasure. “It lay where he had dropped it when he was ?rst attacked. The box was the same which now lies open upon your table. A key was hung by a silken cord to that carved handle upon the top. We opened it, and the light of the lantern gleamed upon a collection of gems such as I have read of and thought about when I was a little lad at Per- shore. It was blinding to look upon them. When we had feasted our eyes we took them all out and made a list of them. There were one hundred and 111 TheSign of theFour forty-three diamonds of the ?rst water, including one which has been called, I believe, ‘the Great Mogul’ and is said to be the second largest stone in existence. Then there were ninety-seven very ?ne emeralds, and one hundred and seventy ru- bies, some of which, however, were small. There were forty carbuncles, two hundred and ten sap- phires, sixty-one agates, and a great quantity of beryls, onyxes, cats’-eyes, turquoises, and other stones, the very names of which I did not know at the time, though I have become more familiar with them since. Besides this, there were nearly three hundred very ?ne pearls, twelve of which were set in a gold coronet. By the way, these last had been taken out of the chest and were not there when I recovered it. “After we had counted our treasures we put them back into the chest and carried them to the gate-way to show them to Mahomet Singh. Then we solemnly renewed our oath to stand by each other and be true to our secret. We agreed to conceal our loot in a safe place until the country should be at peace again, and then to divide it equally among ourselves. There was no use di- viding it at present, for if gems of such value were found upon us it would cause suspicion, and there was no privacy in the fort nor any place where we could keep them. We carried the box, there- fore, into the same hall where we had buried the body, and there, under certain bricks in the best- preserved wall, we made a hollow and put our treasure. We made careful note of the place, and next day I drew four plans, one for each of us, and put the sign of the four of us at the bottom, for we had sworn that we should each always act for all, so that none might take advantage. That is an oath that I can put my hand to my heart and swear that I have never broken. “Well, there’s no use my telling you gentle- men what came of the Indian mutiny. After Wil- son took Delhi and Sir Colin relieved Lucknow the back of the business was broken. Fresh troops came pouring in, and Nana Sahib made himself scarce over the frontier. A ?ying column under Colonel Greathed came round to Agra and cleared the Pandies away from it. Peace seemed to be set- tling upon the country, and we four were begin- ning to hope that the time was at hand when we might safely go off with our shares of the plunder. In a moment, however, our hopes were shattered by our being arrested as the murderers of Achmet. “It came about in this way. When the rajah put his jewels into the hands of Achmet he did it be- cause he knew that he was a trusty man. They are suspicious folk in the East, however: so what does this rajah do but take a second even more trusty servant and set him to play the spy upon the ?rst? This second man was ordered never to let Achmet out of his sight, and he followed him like his shadow. He went after him that night and saw him pass through the doorway. Of course he thought he had taken refuge in the fort, and applied for admission there himself next day, but could ?nd no trace of Achmet. This seemed to him so strange that he spoke about it to a sergeant of guides, who brought it to the ears of the comman- dant. A thorough search was quickly made, and the body was discovered. Thus at the very mo- ment that we thought that all was safe we were all four seized and brought to trial on a charge of murder,—three of us because we had held the gate that night, and the fourth because he was known to have been in the company of the murdered man. Not a word about the jewels came out at the trial, for the rajah had been deposed and driven out of India: so no one had any particular interest in them. The murder, however, was clearly made out, and it was certain that we must all have been con- cerned in it. The three Sikhs got penal servitude for life, and I was condemned to death, though my sentence was afterwards commuted into the same as the others. “It was rather a queer position that we found ourselves in then. There we were all four tied by the leg and with precious little chance of ever get- ting out again, while we each held a secret which might have put each of us in a palace if we could only have made use of it. It was enough to make a man eat his heart out to have to stand the kick and the cuff of every petty jack-in-of?ce, to have rice to eat and water to drink, when that gorgeous fortune was ready for him outside, just waiting to be picked up. It might have driven me mad; but I was always a pretty stubborn one, so I just held on and bided my time. “At last it seemed to me to have come. I was changed from Agra to Madras, and from there to Blair Island in the Andamans. There are very few white convicts at this settlement, and, as I had be- haved well from the ?rst, I soon found myself a sort of privileged person. I was given a hut in Hope Town, which is a small place on the slopes of Mount Harriet, and I was left pretty much to myself. It is a dreary, fever-stricken place, and all beyond our little clearings was infested with wild cannibal natives, who were ready enough to blow a poisoned dart at us if they saw a chance. There was digging, and ditching, and yam-planting, and a dozen other things to be done, so we were busy 112 TheSign of theFour enough all day; though in the evening we had a little time to ourselves. Among other things, I learned to dispense drugs for the surgeon, and picked up a smattering of his knowledge. All the time I was on the lookout for a chance of escape; but it is hundreds of miles from any other land, and there is little or no wind in those seas: so it was a terribly dif?cult job to get away. “The surgeon, Dr. Somerton, was a fast, sport- ing young chap, and the other young of?cers would meet in his rooms of an evening and play cards. The surgery, where I used to make up my drugs, was next to his sitting-room, with a small window between us. Often, if I felt lonesome, I used to turn out the lamp in the surgery, and then, standing there, I could hear their talk and watch their play. I am fond of a hand at cards myself, and it was almost as good as having one to watch the others. There was Major Sholto, Cap- tain Morstan, and Lieutenant Bromley Brown, who were in command of the native troops, and there was the surgeon himself, and two or three prison- of?cials, crafty old hands who played a nice sly safe game. A very snug little party they used to make. “Well, there was one thing which very soon struck me, and that was that the soldiers used al- ways to lose and the civilians to win. Mind, I don’t say that there was anything unfair, but so it was. These prison-chaps had done little else than play cards ever since they had been at the Andamans, and they knew each other’s game to a point, while the others just played to pass the time and threw their cards down anyhow. Night after night the soldiers got up poorer men, and the poorer they got the more keen they were to play. Major Sholto was the hardest hit. He used to pay in notes and gold at ?rst, but soon it came to notes of hand and for big sums. He sometimes would win for a few deals, just to give him heart, and then the luck would set in against him worse than ever. All day he would wander about as black as thunder, and he took to drinking a deal more than was good for him. “One night he lost even more heavily than usual. I was sitting in my hut when he and Cap- tain Morstan came stumbling along on the way to their quarters. They were bosom friends, those two, and never far apart. The major was raving about his losses. “ ‘It’s all up, Morstan,’ he was saying, as they passed my hut. ‘I shall have to send in my papers. I am a ruined man.’ “ ‘Nonsense, old chap!’ said the other, slapping him upon the shoulder. ‘I’ve had a nasty facer my- self, but—’ That was all I could hear, but it was enough to set me thinking. A couple of days later Major Sholto was strolling on the beach: so I took the chance of speaking to him. “ ‘I wish to have your advice, major,’ said I. “ ‘Well, Small, what is it?’ he asked, taking his cheroot from his lips. “ ‘I wanted to ask you, sir,’ said I, ‘who is the proper person to whom hidden treasure should be handed over. I know where half a million worth lies, and, as I cannot use it myself, I thought per- haps the best thing that I could do would be to hand it over to the proper authorities, and then perhaps they would get my sentence shortened for me.’ “ ‘Half a million, Small?’ he gasped, looking hard at me to see if I was in earnest. “ ‘Quite that, sir,—in jewels and pearls. It lies there ready for anyone. And the queer thing about it is that the real owner is outlawed and cannot hold property, so that it belongs to the ?rst comer.’ “ ‘To government, Small,’ he stammered,—‘to government.’ But he said it in a halting fashion, and I knew in my heart that I had got him. “ ‘You think, then, sir, that I should give the information to the Governor-General?’ said I, qui- etly. “ ‘Well, well, you must not do anything rash, or that you might repent. Let me hear all about it, Small. Give me the facts.’ “I told him the whole story, with small changes so that he could not identify the places. When I had ?nished he stood stock still and full of thought. I could see by the twitch of his lip that there was a struggle going on within him. “ ‘This is a very important matter, Small,’ he said, at last. ‘You must not say a word to any one about it, and I shall see you again soon.’ “Two nights later he and his friend Captain Morstan came to my hut in the dead of the night with a lantern. “ ‘I want you just to let Captain Morstan hear that story from your own lips, Small,’ said he. “I repeated it as I had told it before. “ ‘It rings true, eh?’ said he. ‘It’s good enough to act upon?’ “Captain Morstan nodded. 113 TheSign of theFour “ ‘Look here, Small,’ said the major. ‘We have been talking it over, my friend here and I, and we have come to the conclusion that this secret of yours is hardly a government matter, after all, but is a private concern of your own, which of course you have the power of disposing of as you think best. Now, the question is, what price would you ask for it? We might be inclined to take it up, and at least look into it, if we could agree as to terms.’ He tried to speak in a cool, careless way, but his eyes were shining with excitement and greed. “ ‘Why, as to that, gentlemen,’ I answered, try- ing also to be cool, but feeling as excited as he did, ‘there is only one bargain which a man in my position can make. I shall want yo to help me to my freedom, and to help my three companions to theirs. We shall then take yo into partnership, and give you a ?fth share to divide between you.’ “ ‘Hum!’ said he. ‘A ?fth share! That is not very tempting.’ “ ‘It would come to ?fty thousand apiece,’ said I. “ ‘But how can we gain your freedom? You know very well that you ask an impossibility.’ “ ‘Nothing of the sort,’ I answered. ‘I have thought it all out to the last detail. The only bar to our escape is that we can get no boat ?t for the voyage, and no provisions to last us for so long a time. There are plenty of little yachts and yawls at Calcutta or Madras which would serve our turn well. Do you bring one over. We shall engage to get aboard her by night, and if you will drop us on any part of the Indian coast you will have done your part of the bargain.’ “ ‘If there were only one,’ he said. “ ‘None or all,’ I answered. ‘We have sworn it. The four of us must always act together.’ “ ‘You see, Morstan,’ said he, ‘Small is a man of his word. He does not ?inch from his friend. I think we may very well trust him.’ “ ‘It’s a dirty business,’ the other answered. ‘Yet, as you say, the money would save our com- missions handsomely.’ “ ‘Well, Small,’ said the major, ‘we must, I sup- pose, try and meet you. We must ?rst, of course, test the truth of your story. Tell me where the box is hid, and I shall get leave of absence and go back to India in the monthly relief-boat to inquire into the affair.’ “ ‘Not so fast,’ said I, growing colder as he got hot. ‘I must have the consent of my three com- rades. I tell you that it is four or none with us.’ “ ‘Nonsense!’ he broke in. ‘What have three black fellows to do with our agreement?’ “ ‘Black or blue,’ said I, ‘they are in with me, and we all go together.’ “Well, the matter ended by a second meeting, at which Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, and Dost Akbar were all present. We talked the matter over again, and at last we came to an arrangement. We were to provide both the of?cers with charts of the part of the Agra fort and mark the place in the wall where the treasure was hid. Major Sholto was to go to India to test our story. If he found the box he was to leave it there, to send out a small yacht provisioned for a voyage, which was to lie off Rut- land Island, and to which we were to make our way, and ?nally to return to his duties. Captain Morstan was then to apply for leave of absence, to meet us at Agra, and there we were to have a ?- nal division of the treasure, he taking the major’s share as well as his own. All this we sealed by the most solemn oaths that the mind could think or the lips utter. I sat up all night with paper and ink, and by the morning I had the two charts all ready, signed with the sign of four,—that is, of Abdullah, Akbar, Mahomet, and myself. “Well, gentlemen, I weary you with my long story, and I know that my friend Mr. Jones is im- patient to get me safely stowed in chokey. I’ll make it as short as I can. The villain Sholto went off to India, but he never came back again. Captain Morstan showed me his name among a list of passengers in one of the mail-boats very shortly afterwards. His uncle had died, leaving him a fortune, and he had left the army, yet he could stoop to treat ?ve men as he had treated us. Morstan went over to Agra shortly afterwards, and found, as we expected, that the treasure was indeed gone. The scoundrel had stolen it all, with- out carrying out one of the conditions on which we had sold him the secret. From that day I lived only for vengeance. I thought of it by day and I nursed it by night. It became an overpower- ing, absorbing passion with me. I cared nothing for the law,—nothing for the gallows. To escape, to track down Sholto, to have my hand upon his throat,—that was my one thought. Even the Agra treasure had come to be a smaller thing in my mind than the slaying of Sholto. “Well, I have set my mind on many things in this life, and never one which I did not carry out. But it was weary years before my time came. I have told you that I had picked up something of medicine. One day when Dr. Somerton was down with a fever a little Andaman Islander was picked 114 TheSign of theFour up by a convict-gang in the woods. He was sick to death, and had gone to a lonely place to die. I took him in hand, though he was as venomous as a young snake, and after a couple of months I got him all right and able to walk. He took a kind of fancy to me then, and would hardly go back to his woods, but was always hanging about my hut. I learned a little of his lingo from him, and this made him all the fonder of me. “Tonga—for that was his name—was a ?ne boatman, and owned a big, roomy canoe of his own. When I found that he was devoted to me and would do anything to serve me, I saw my chance of escape. I talked it over with him. He was to bring his boat round on a certain night to an old wharf which was never guarded, and there he was to pick me up. I gave him directions to have sev- eral gourds of water and a lot of yams, cocoa-nuts, and sweet potatoes. “He was stanch and true, was little Tonga. No man ever had a more faithful mate. At the night named he had his boat at the wharf. As it chanced, however, there was one of the convict-guard down there,—a vile Pathan who had never missed a chance of insulting and injuring me. I had always vowed vengeance, and now I had my chance. It was as if fate had placed him in my way that I might pay my debt before I left the island. He stood on the bank with his back to me, and his car- bine on his shoulder. I looked about for a stone to beat out his brains with, but none could I see. Then a queer thought came into my head and showed me where I could lay my hand on a weapon. I sat down in the darkness and unstrapped my wooden leg. With three long hops I was on him. He put his carbine to his shoulder, but I struck him full, and knocked the whole front of his skull in. You can see the split in the wood now where I hit him. We both went down together, for I could not keep my balance, but when I got up I found him still lying quiet enough. I made for the boat, and in an hour we were well out at sea. Tonga had brought all his earthly possessions with him, his arms and his gods. Among other things, he had a long bam- boo spear, and some Andaman cocoa-nut matting, with which I make a sort of sail. For ten days we were beating about, trusting to luck, and on the eleventh we were picked up by a trader which was going from Singapore to Jiddah with a cargo of Malay pilgrims. They were a rum crowd, and Tonga and I soon managed to settle down among them. They had one very good quality: they let you alone and asked no questions. “Well, if I were to tell you all the adventures that my little chum and I went through, you would not thank me, for I would have you here until the sun was shining. Here and there we drifted about the world, something always turning up to keep us from London. All the time, however, I never lost sight of my purpose. I would dream of Sholto at night. A hundred times I have killed him in my sleep. At last, however, some three or four years ago, we found ourselves in England. I had no great dif?culty in ?nding where Sholto lived, and I set to work to discover whether he had realized the treasure, or if he still had it. I made friends with someone who could help me,—I name no names, for I don’t want to get any one else in a hole,—and I soon found that he still had the jewels. Then I tried to get at him in many ways; but he was pretty sly, and had always two prize-?ghters, besides his sons and hiskhitmutgar, on guard over him. “One day, however, I got word that he was dy- ing. I hurried at once to the garden, mad that he should slip out of my clutches like that, and, looking through the window, I saw him lying in his bed, with his sons on each side of him. I’d have come through and taken my chance with the three of them, only even as I looked at him his jaw dropped, and I knew that he was gone. I got into his room that same night, though, and I searched his papers to see if there was any record of where he had hidden our jewels. There was not a line, however: so I came away, bitter and savage as a man could be. Before I left I bethought me that if I ever met my Sikh friends again it would be a satisfaction to know that I had left some mark of our hatred: so I scrawled down the sign of the four of us, as it had been on the chart, and I pinned it on his bosom. It was too much that he should be taken to the grave without some token from the men whom he had robbed and befooled. “We earned a living at this time by my exhibit- ing poor Tonga at fairs and other such places as the black cannibal. He would eat raw meat and dance his war-dance: so we always had a hatful of pennies after a day’s work. I still heard all the news from Pondicherry Lodge, and for some years there was no news to hear, except that they were hunting for the treasure. At last, however, came what we had waited for so long. The treasure had been found. It was up at the top of the house, in Mr. Bartholomew Sholto’s chemical laboratory. I came at once and had a look at the place, but I could not see how with my wooden leg I was to make my way up to it. I learned, however, about a trap-door in the roof, and also about Mr. Sholto’s supper-hour. It seemed to me that I could manage the thing easily through Tonga. I brought him out with me with a long rope wound round his waist. 115 TheSign of theFour He could climb like a cat, and he soon made his way through the roof, but, as ill luck would have it, Bartholomew Sholto was still in the room, to his cost. Tonga thought he had done something very clever in killing him, for when I came up by the rope I found him strutting about as proud as a peacock. Very much surprised was he when I made at him with the rope’s end and cursed him for a little blood-thirsty imp. I took the treasure- box and let it down, and then slid down myself, having ?rst left the sign of the four upon the ta- ble, to show that the jewels had come back at last to those who had most right to them. Tonga then pulled up the rope, closed the window, and made off the way that he had come. “I don’t know that I have anything else to tell you. I had heard a waterman speak of the speed of Smith’s launch, theAurora, so I thought she would be a handy craft for our escape. I engaged with old Smith, and was to give him a big sum if he got us safe to our ship. He knew, no doubt, that there was some screw loose, but he was not in our secrets. All this is the truth, and if I tell it to you, gentlemen, it is not to amuse you,—for you have not done me a very good turn,—but it is because I believe the best defence I can make is just to hold back nothing, but let all the wold know how badly I have myself been served by Major Sholto, and how innocent I am of the death of his son.” “A very remarkable account,” said Sherlock Holmes. “A ?tting wind-up to an extremely in- teresting case. There is nothing at all new to me in the latter part of your narrative, except that you brought your own rope. That I did not know. By the way, I had hoped that Tonga had lost all his darts; yet he managed to shoot one at us in the boat.” “He had lost them all, sir, except the one which was in his blow-pipe at the time.” “Ah, of course,” said Holmes. “I had not thought of that.” “Is there any other point which you would like to ask about?” asked the convict, affably. “I think not, thank you,” my companion an- swered. “Well, Holmes,” said Athelney Jones, “You are a man to be humored, and we all know that you are a connoisseur of crime, but duty is duty, and I have gone rather far in doing what you and your friend asked me. I shall feel more at ease when we have our story-teller here safe under lock and key. The cab still waits, and there are two inspec- tors down-stairs. I am much obliged to you both for your assistance. Of course you will be wanted at the trial. Good-night to you.” “Good-night, gentlemen both,” said Jonathan Small. “You ?rst, Small,” remarked the wary Jones as they left the room. “I’ll take particular care that you don’t club me with your wooden leg, what- ever you may have done to the gentleman at the Andaman Isles.” “Well, and there is the end of our little drama,” I remarked, after we had set some time smoking in silence. “I fear that it may be the last investigation in which I shall have the chance of studying your methods. Miss Morstan has done me the honor to accept me as a husband in prospective.” He gave a most dismal groan. “I feared as much,” said he. “I really cannot congratulate you.” I was a little hurt. “Have you any reason to be dissatis?ed with my choice?” I asked. “Not at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met, and might have been most useful in such work as we have been do- ing. She had a decided genius that way: witness the way in which she preserved that Agra plan from all the other papers of her father. But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.” “I trust,” said I, laughing, “that my judgment may survive the ordeal. But you look weary.” “Yes, the reaction is already upon me. I shall be as limp as a rag for a week.” “Strange,” said I, “how terms of what in an- other man I should call laziness alternate with your ?ts of splendid energy and vigor.” “Yes,” he answered, “there are in me the mak- ings of a very ?ne loafer and also of a pretty spry sort of fellow. I often think of those lines of old Goethe,—Schade, daß die Natur nur einen Mensch aus Dir schuf, Denn zum w ¨ urdigen Mann war und zum Schelmen der Stoff.“By the way, a propos of this Norwood busi- ness, you see that they had, as I surmised, a con- federate in the house, who could be none other than Lal Rao, the butler: so Jones actually has the undivided honor of having caught one ?sh in his great haul.” “The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked. “You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?” “For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it. 116 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes A Scandal in Bohemia A Scandal inBohemia Table of contentsChapter1. . . . . . .123Chapter2. . . . . . .127Chapter3. . . . . . .132 121 A Scandal inBohemia CHAPTER I.ToSherlockHolmesshe is alwaysthewoman. I have seldom heard him men- tion her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emo- tion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer—excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained rea- soner to admit such intrusions into his own del- icate and ?nely adjusted temperament was to in- troduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensi- tive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high- power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and question- able memory. I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the home-centred inter- ests which rise up around the man who ?rst ?nds himself master of his own establishment, were suf- ?cient to absorb all my attention, while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternat- ing from week to week between cocaine and am- bition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the ?erce energy of his own keen nature. He was still, as ever, deeply attracted by the study of crime, and occupied his immense faculties and extraordinary powers of observation in following out those clues, and clearing up those mysteries which had been abandoned as hopeless by the of?cial police. From time to time I heard some vague account of his doings: of his summons to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder, of his clearing up of the sin- gular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trinco- malee, and ?nally of the mission which he had ac- complished so delicately and successfully for the reigning family of Holland. Beyond these signs of his activity, however, which I merely shared with all the readers of the daily press, I knew little of my former friend and companion. One night—it was on the twentieth of March,1888—I was returning from a journey to a patient (for I had now returned to civil practice), when my way led me through Baker Street. As I passed the well-remembered door, which must always be as- sociated in my mind with my wooing, and with the dark incidents of the Study in Scarlet, I was seized with a keen desire to see Holmes again, and to know how he was employing his extraordinary powers. His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as I looked up, I saw his tall, spare ?gure pass twice in a dark silhouette against the blind. He was pac- ing the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head sunk upon his chest and his hands clasped behind him. To me, who knew his every mood and habit, his at- titude and manner told their own story. He was at work again. He had risen out of his drug-created dreams and was hot upon the scent of some new problem. I rang the bell and was shown up to the chamber which had formerly been in part my own. His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner. Then he stood before the ?re and looked me over in his singular introspective fashion. “Wedlock suits you,” he remarked. “I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you.” “Seven!” I answered. “Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a tri?e more, I fancy, Watson. And in prac- tice again, I observe. You did not tell me that you intended to go into harness.” “Then, how do you know?” “I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you have been getting yourself very wet lately, and that you have a most clumsy and careless servant girl?” “My dear Holmes,” said I, “this is too much. You would certainly have been burned, had you lived a few centuries ago. It is true that I had a country walk on Thursday and came home in a dreadful mess, but as I have changed my clothes I can’t imagine how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and my wife has given her no- tice, but there, again, I fail to see how you work it out.” He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long, nervous hands together. “It is simplicity itself,” said he; “my eyes tell me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where 123 A Scandal inBohemia the ?relight strikes it, the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sole in order to re- move crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey. As to your practice, if a gentleman walks into my rooms smelling of iodoform, with a black mark of nitrate of silver upon his right fore?nger, and a bulge on the right side of his top-hat to show where he has secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull, indeed, if I do not pronounce him to be an active member of the medical profession.” I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. “When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridicu- lously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your rea- soning I am baf?ed until you explain your pro- cess. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.” “Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.” “Frequently.” “How often?” “Well, some hundreds of times.” “Then how many are there?” “How many? I don’t know.” “Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed. By-the-way, since you are in- terested in these little problems, and since you are good enough to chronicle one or two of my tri- ?ing experiences, you may be interested in this.” He threw over a sheet of thick, pink-tinted note- paper which had been lying open upon the table. “It came by the last post,” said he. “Read it aloud.” The note was undated, and without either sig- nature or address. “There will call upon you to-night, at a quar- ter to eight o’clock,” it said, “a gentleman who desires to consult you upon a matter of the very deepest moment. Your recent services to one of the royal houses of Europe have shown that you are one who may safely be trusted with matters which are of an importance which can hardly be exaggerated. This account of you we have from all quarters received. Be in your chamber then at that hour, and do not take it amiss if your visitor wear a mask.” “This is indeed a mystery,” I remarked. “What do you imagine that it means?” “I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. But the note itself. What do you deduce from it?” I carefully examined the writing, and the paper upon which it was written. “The man who wrote it was presumably well to do,” I remarked, endeavouring to imitate my companion’s processes. “Such paper could not be bought under half a crown a packet. It is pecu- liarly strong and stiff.” “Peculiar—that is the very word,” said Holmes. “It is not an English paper at all. Hold it up to the light.” I did so, and saw a large “E” with a small “g,” a “P,” and a large “G” with a small “t” woven into the texture of the paper. “What do you make of that?” asked Holmes. “The name of the maker, no doubt; or his monogram, rather.” “Not at all. The ‘G’ with the small ‘t’ stands for ‘Gesellschaft,’ which is the German for ‘Com- pany.’ It is a customary contraction like our ‘Co.’ ‘P,’ of course, stands for ‘Papier.’ Now for the ‘Eg.’ Let us glance at our Continental Gazetteer.” He took down a heavy brown volume from his shelves. “Eglow, Eglonitz—here we are, Egria. It is in a German-speaking country—in Bohemia, not far from Carlsbad. ‘Remarkable as being the scene of the death of Wallenstein, and for its numerous glass-factories and paper-mills.’ Ha, ha, my boy, what do you make of that?” His eyes sparkled, and he sent up a great blue triumphant cloud from his cigarette. “The paper was made in Bohemia,” I said. “Precisely. And the man who wrote the note is a German. Do you note the peculiar construc- tion of the sentence—‘This account of you we have from all quarters received.’ A Frenchman or Rus- sian could not have written that. It is the German who is so uncourteous to his verbs. It only re- mains, therefore, to discover what is wanted by this German who writes upon Bohemian paper and prefers wearing a mask to showing his face. And here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to re- solve all our doubts.” 124 A Scandal inBohemia As he spoke there was the sharp sound of horses’ hoofs and grating wheels against the curb, followed by a sharp pull at the bell. Holmes whis- tled. “A pair, by the sound,” said he. “Yes,” he con- tinued, glancing out of the window. “A nice little brougham and a pair of beauties. A hundred and ?fty guineas apiece. There’s money in this case, Watson, if there is nothing else.” “I think that I had better go, Holmes.” “Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it.” “But your client—” “Never mind him. I may want your help, and so may he. Here he comes. Sit down in that arm- chair, Doctor, and give us your best attention.” A slow and heavy step, which had been heard upon the stairs and in the passage, paused imme- diately outside the door. Then there was a loud and authoritative tap. “Come in!” said Holmes. A man entered who could hardly have been less than six feet six inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules. His dress was rich with a richness which would, in England, be looked upon as akin to bad taste. Heavy bands of astrakhan were slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his double-breasted coat, while the deep blue cloak which was thrown over his shoulders was lined with ?ame-coloured silk and secured at the neck with a brooch which consisted of a single ?am- ing beryl. Boots which extended halfway up his calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with rich brown fur, completed the impression of bar- baric opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance. He carried a broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore across the upper part of his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a black vizard mask, which he had apparently ad- justed that very moment, for his hand was still raised to it as he entered. From the lower part of the face he appeared to be a man of strong charac- ter, with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight chin suggestive of resolution pushed to the length of obstinacy. “You had my note?” he asked with a deep harsh voice and a strongly marked German accent. “I told you that I would call.” He looked from one to the other of us, as if uncertain which to address. “Pray take a seat,” said Holmes. “This is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasion- ally good enough to help me in my cases. Whom have I the honour to address?” “You may address me as the Count Von Kramm, a Bohemian nobleman. I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honour and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter of the most extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to communicate with you alone.” I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist and pushed me back into my chair. “It is both, or none,” said he. “You may say before this gentle- man anything which you may say to me.” The Count shrugged his broad shoulders. “Then I must begin,” said he, “by binding you both to absolute secrecy for two years; at the end of that time the matter will be of no importance. At present it is not too much to say that it is of such weight it may have an in?uence upon European history.” “I promise,” said Holmes. “And I.” “You will excuse this mask,” continued our strange visitor. “The august person who employs me wishes his agent to be unknown to you, and I may confess at once that the title by which I have just called myself is not exactly my own.” “I was aware of it,” said Holmes dryly. “The circumstances are of great delicacy, and every precaution has to be taken to quench what might grow to be an immense scandal and seri- ously compromise one of the reigning families of Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the great House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bo- hemia.” “I was also aware of that,” murmured Holmes, settling himself down in his armchair and closing his eyes. Our visitor glanced with some apparent sur- prise at the languid, lounging ?gure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to him as the most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent in Europe. Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and looked impatiently at his gigantic client. “If your Majesty would condescend to state your case,” he remarked, “I should be better able to advise you.” The man sprang from his chair and paced up and down the room in uncontrollable agitation. Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground. 125 A Scandal inBohemia “You are right,” he cried; “I am the King. Why should I attempt to conceal it?” “Why, indeed?” murmured Holmes. “Your Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia.” “But you can understand,” said our strange vis- itor, sitting down once more and passing his hand over his high white forehead, “you can understand that I am not accustomed to doing such business in my own person. Yet the matter was so delicate that I could not con?de it to an agent without putting myself in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the purpose of consulting you.” “Then, pray consult,” said Holmes, shutting his eyes once more. “The facts are brie?y these: Some ?ve years ago, during a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the well-known adventuress, Irene Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you.” “Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor,” mur- mured Holmes without opening his eyes. For many years he had adopted a system of docket- ing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it was dif?cult to name a subject or a person on which he could not at once furnish information. In this case I found her biography sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a staff- commander who had written a monograph upon the deep-sea ?shes. “Let me see!” said Holmes. “Hum! Born in New Jersey in the year1858. Contralto—hum! La Scala, hum! Prima donna Imperial Opera of War- saw—yes! Retired from operatic stage—ha! Living in London—quite so! Your Majesty, as I under- stand, became entangled with this young person, wrote her some compromising letters, and is now desirous of getting those letters back.” “Precisely so. But how—” “Was there a secret marriage?” “None.” “No legal papers or certi?cates?” “None.” “Then I fail to follow your Majesty. If this young person should produce her letters for black- mailing or other purposes, how is she to prove their authenticity?” “There is the writing.” “Pooh, pooh! Forgery.” “My private note-paper.” “Stolen.” “My own seal.” “Imitated.” “My photograph.” “Bought.” “We were both in the photograph.” “Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed committed an indiscretion.” “I was mad—insane.” “You have compromised yourself seriously.” “I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I am but thirty now.” “It must be recovered.” “We have tried and failed.” “Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought.” “She will not sell.” “Stolen, then.” “Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result.” “No sign of it?” “Absolutely none.” Holmes laughed. “It is quite a pretty little problem,” said he. “But a very serious one to me,” returned the King reproachfully. “Very, indeed. And what does she propose to do with the photograph?” “To ruin me.” “But how?” “I am about to be married.” “So I have heard.” “To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, sec- ond daughter of the King of Scandinavia. You may know the strict principles of her family. She is her- self the very soul of delicacy. A shadow of a doubt as to my conduct would bring the matter to an end.” “And Irene Adler?” “Threatens to send them the photograph. And she will do it. I know that she will do it. You do not know her, but she has a soul of steel. She has the face of the most beautiful of women, and the mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than I should marry another woman, there are no lengths to which she would not go—none.” “You are sure that she has not sent it yet?” “I am sure.” “And why?” 126 A Scandal inBohemia “Because she has said that she would send it on the day when the betrothal was publicly pro- claimed. That will be next Monday.” “Oh, then we have three days yet,” said Holmes with a yawn. “That is very fortunate, as I have one or two matters of importance to look into just at present. Your Majesty will, of course, stay in Lon- don for the present?” “Certainly. You will ?nd me at the Langham under the name of the Count Von Kramm.” “Then I shall drop you a line to let you know how we progress.” “Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety.” “Then, as to money?” “You have carte blanche.” “Absolutely?” “I tell you that I would give one of the provinces of my kingdom to have that photo- graph.” “And for present expenses?” The King took a heavy chamois leather bag from under his cloak and laid it on the table. “There are three hundred pounds in gold and seven hundred in notes,” he said. Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his note-book and handed it to him. “And Mademoiselle’s address?” he asked. “Is Briony Lodge, Serpentine Avenue, St. John’s Wood.” Holmes took a note of it. “One other question,” said he. “Was the photograph a cabinet?” “It was.” “Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust that we shall soon have some good news for you. And good-night, Watson,” he added, as the wheels of the royal brougham rolled down the street. “If you will be good enough to call to-morrow after- noon at three o’clock I should like to chat this little matter over with you.”CHAPTER II.At three o’clock precisely I was at Baker Street, but Holmes had not yet returned. The landlady informed me that he had left the house shortly af- ter eight o’clock in the morning. I sat down be- side the ?re, however, with the intention of await- ing him, however long he might be. I was already deeply interested in his inquiry, for, though it was surrounded by none of the grim and strange fea- tures which were associated with the two crimes which I have already recorded, still, the nature of the case and the exalted station of his client gave it a character of its own. Indeed, apart from the na- ture of the investigation which my friend had on hand, there was something in his masterly grasp of a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, which made it a pleasure to me to study his sys- tem of work, and to follow the quick, subtle meth- ods by which he disentangled the most inextrica- ble mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invari- able success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter into my head. It was close upon four before the door opened, and a drunken-looking groom, ill-kempt and side- whiskered, with an in?amed face and disreputable clothes, walked into the room. Accustomed as I was to my friend’s amazing powers in the use of disguises, I had to look three times before I was certain that it was indeed he. With a nod he van- ished into the bedroom, whence he emerged in ?ve minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old. Putting his hands into his pockets, he stretched out his legs in front of the ?re and laughed heartily for some minutes. “Well, really!” he cried, and then he choked and laughed again until he was obliged to lie back, limp and helpless, in the chair. “What is it?” “It’s quite too funny. I am sure you could never guess how I employed my morning, or what I ended by doing.” “I can’t imagine. I suppose that you have been watching the habits, and perhaps the house, of Miss Irene Adler.” “Quite so; but the sequel was rather unusual. I will tell you, however. I left the house a little af- ter eight o’clock this morning in the character of a 127 A Scandal inBohemia groom out of work. There is a wonderful sym- pathy and freemasonry among horsey men. Be one of them, and you will know all that there is to know. I soon found Briony Lodge. It is abijouvilla, with a garden at the back, but built out in front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, well furnished, with long windows almost to the ?oor, and those preposterous English window fas- teners which a child could open. Behind there was nothing remarkable, save that the passage window could be reached from the top of the coach-house. I walked round it and examined it closely from ev- ery point of view, but without noting anything else of interest. “I then lounged down the street and found, as I expected, that there was a mews in a lane which runs down by one wall of the garden. I lent the ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses, and received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and half, two ?lls of shag tobacco, and as much infor- mation as I could desire about Miss Adler, to say nothing of half a dozen other people in the neigh- bourhood in whom I was not in the least inter- ested, but whose biographies I was compelled to listen to.” “And what of Irene Adler?” I asked. “Oh, she has turned all the men’s heads down in that part. She is the daintiest thing under a bon- net on this planet. So say the Serpentine-mews, to a man. She lives quietly, sings at concerts, drives out at ?ve every day, and returns at seven sharp for dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except when she sings. Has only one male visitor, but a good deal of him. He is dark, handsome, and dashing, never calls less than once a day, and often twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner Temple. See the advantages of a cabman as a con- ?dant. They had driven him home a dozen times from Serpentine-mews, and knew all about him. When I had listened to all they had to tell, I be- gan to walk up and down near Briony Lodge once more, and to think over my plan of campaign. “This Godfrey Norton was evidently an impor- tant factor in the matter. He was a lawyer. That sounded ominous. What was the relation between them, and what the object of his repeated visits? Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress? If the former, she had probably transferred the photo- graph to his keeping. If the latter, it was less likely. On the issue of this question depended whether I should continue my work at Briony Lodge, or turn my attention to the gentleman’s chambers in the Temple. It was a delicate point, and it widened the ?eld of my inquiry. I fear that I bore you with these details, but I have to let you see my little dif- ?culties, if you are to understand the situation.” “I am following you closely,” I answered. “I was still balancing the matter in my mind when a hansom cab drove up to Briony Lodge, and a gentleman sprang out. He was a remark- ably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and mous- tached—evidently the man of whom I had heard. He appeared to be in a great hurry, shouted to the cabman to wait, and brushed past the maid who opened the door with the air of a man who was thoroughly at home. “He was in the house about half an hour, and I could catch glimpses of him in the windows of the sitting-room, pacing up and down, talking ex- citedly, and waving his arms. Of her I could see nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more ?urried than before. As he stepped up to the cab, he pulled a gold watch from his pocket and looked at it earnestly, ‘Drive like the devil,’ he shouted, ‘?rst to Gross & Hankey’s in Regent Street, and then to the Church of St. Monica in the Edgeware Road. Half a guinea if you do it in twenty min- utes!’ “Away they went, and I was just wondering whether I should not do well to follow them when up the lane came a neat little landau, the coach- man with his coat only half-buttoned, and his tie under his ear, while all the tags of his harness were sticking out of the buckles. It hadn’t pulled up be- fore she shot out of the hall door and into it. I only caught a glimpse of her at the moment, but she was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might die for. “ ‘The Church of St. Monica, John,’ she cried, ‘and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty min- utes.’ “This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I was just balancing whether I should run for it, or whether I should perch behind her landau when a cab came through the street. The driver looked twice at such a shabby fare, but I jumped in before he could object. ‘The Church of St. Monica,’ said I, ‘and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty min- utes.’ It was twenty-?ve minutes to twelve, and of course it was clear enough what was in the wind. “My cabby drove fast. I don’t think I ever drove faster, but the others were there before us. The cab and the landau with their steaming horses were in front of the door when I arrived. I paid the man and hurried into the church. There was not a soul there save the two whom I had followed and 128 A Scandal inBohemia a surpliced clergyman, who seemed to be expostu- lating with them. They were all three standing in a knot in front of the altar. I lounged up the side aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a church. Suddenly, to my surprise, the three at the altar faced round to me, and Godfrey Norton came running as hard as he could towards me. “ ‘Thank God,’ he cried. ‘You’ll do. Come! Come!’ “ ‘What then?’ I asked. “ ‘Come, man, come, only three minutes, or it won’t be legal.’ “I was half-dragged up to the altar, and be- fore I knew where I was I found myself mumbling responses which were whispered in my ear, and vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and generally assisting in the secure tying up of Irene Adler, spinster, to Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It was all done in an instant, and there was the gen- tleman thanking me on the one side and the lady on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me in front. It was the most preposterous position in which I ever found myself in my life, and it was the thought of it that started me laughing just now. It seems that there had been some informality about their license, that the clergyman absolutely refused to marry them without a witness of some sort, and that my lucky appearance saved the bridegroom from having to sally out into the streets in search of a best man. The bride gave me a sovereign, and I mean to wear it on my watch-chain in memory of the occasion.” “This is a very unexpected turn of affairs,” said I; “and what then?” “Well, I found my plans very seriously men- aced. It looked as if the pair might take an imme- diate departure, and so necessitate very prompt and energetic measures on my part. At the church door, however, they separated, he driving back to the Temple, and she to her own house. ‘I shall drive out in the park at ?ve as usual,’ she said as she left him. I heard no more. They drove away in different directions, and I went off to make my own arrangements.” “Which are?” “Some cold beef and a glass of beer,” he an- swered, ringing the bell. “I have been too busy to think of food, and I am likely to be busier still this evening. By the way, Doctor, I shall want your co-operation.” “I shall be delighted.” “You don’t mind breaking the law?” “Not in the least.” “Nor running a chance of arrest?” “Not in a good cause.” “Oh, the cause is excellent!” “Then I am your man.” “I was sure that I might rely on you.” “But what is it you wish?” “When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I will make it clear to you. Now,” he said as he turned hungrily on the simple fare that our land- lady had provided, “I must discuss it while I eat, for I have not much time. It is nearly ?ve now. In two hours we must be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame, rather, returns from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her.” “And what then?” “You must leave that to me. I have already ar- ranged what is to occur. There is only one point on which I must insist. You must not interfere, come what may. You understand?” “I am to be neutral?” “To do nothing whatever. There will probably be some small unpleasantness. Do not join in it. It will end in my being conveyed into the house. Four or ?ve minutes afterwards the sitting-room window will open. You are to station yourself close to that open window.” “Yes.” “You are to watch me, for I will be visible to you.” “Yes.” “And when I raise my hand—so—you will throw into the room what I give you to throw, and will, at the same time, raise the cry of ?re. You quite follow me?” “Entirely.” “It is nothing very formidable,” he said, tak- ing a long cigar-shaped roll from his pocket. “It is an ordinary plumber’s smoke-rocket, ?tted with a cap at either end to make it self-lighting. Your task is con?ned to that. When you raise your cry of ?re, it will be taken up by quite a number of people. You may then walk to the end of the street, and I will rejoin you in ten minutes. I hope that I have made myself clear?” “I am to remain neutral, to get near the win- dow, to watch you, and at the signal to throw in this object, then to raise the cry of ?re, and to wait you at the corner of the street.“ “Precisely.” “Then you may entirely rely on me.” “That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost time that I prepare for the new role I have to play.” 129 A Scandal inBohemia He disappeared into his bedroom and returned in a few minutes in the character of an amiable and simple-minded Nonconformist clergyman. His broad black hat, his baggy trousers, his white tie, his sympathetic smile, and general look of peer- ing and benevolent curiosity were such as Mr. John Hare alone could have equalled. It was not merely that Holmes changed his costume. His expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with ev- ery fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a ?ne actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in crime. It was a quarter past six when we left Baker Street, and it still wanted ten minutes to the hour when we found ourselves in Serpentine Avenue. It was already dusk, and the lamps were just be- ing lighted as we paced up and down in front of Briony Lodge, waiting for the coming of its occu- pant. The house was just such as I had pictured it from Sherlock Holmes’ succinct description, but the locality appeared to be less private than I ex- pected. On the contrary, for a small street in a quiet neighbourhood, it was remarkably animated. There was a group of shabbily dressed men smok- ing and laughing in a corner, a scissors-grinder with his wheel, two guardsmen who were ?irting with a nurse-girl, and several well-dressed young men who were lounging up and down with cigars in their mouths. “You see,” remarked Holmes, as we paced to and fro in front of the house, “this marriage rather simpli?es matters. The photograph becomes a double-edged weapon now. The chances are that she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. Godfrey Norton, as our client is to its coming to the eyes of his princess. Now the question is, Where are we to ?nd the photograph?” “Where, indeed?” “It is most unlikely that she carries it about with her. It is cabinet size. Too large for easy concealment about a woman’s dress. She knows that the King is capable of having her waylaid and searched. Two attempts of the sort have already been made. We may take it, then, that she does not carry it about with her.” “Where, then?” “Her banker or her lawyer. There is that dou- ble possibility. But I am inclined to think neither. Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do their own secreting. Why should she hand it over to anyone else? She could trust her own guardian- ship, but she could not tell what indirect or po- litical in?uence might be brought to bear upon a business man. Besides, remember that she had resolved to use it within a few days. It must be where she can lay her hands upon it. It must be in her own house.” “But it has twice been burgled.” “Pshaw! They did not know how to look.” “But how will you look?” “I will not look.” “What then?” “I will get her to show me.” “But she will refuse.” “She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble of wheels. It is her carriage. Now carry out my orders to the letter.” As he spoke the gleam of the side-lights of a carriage came round the curve of the avenue. It was a smart little landau which rattled up to the door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up, one of the loa?ng men at the corner dashed forward to open the door in the hope of earning a copper, but was elbowed away by another loafer, who had rushed up with the same intention. A ?erce quarrel broke out, which was increased by the two guardsmen, who took sides with one of the loungers, and by the scissors-grinder, who was equally hot upon the other side. A blow was struck, and in an instant the lady, who had stepped from her carriage, was the centre of a little knot of ?ushed and struggling men, who struck savagely at each other with their ?sts and sticks. Holmes dashed into the crowd to protect the lady; but just as he reached her he gave a cry and dropped to the ground, with the blood running freely down his face. At his fall the guardsmen took to their heels in one direction and the loungers in the other, while a number of better-dressed people, who had watched the scuf- ?e without taking part in it, crowded in to help the lady and to attend to the injured man. Irene Adler, as I will still call her, had hurried up the steps; but she stood at the top with her superb ?g- ure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking back into the street. “Is the poor gentleman much hurt?” she asked. “He is dead,” cried several voices. “No, no, there’s life in him!” shouted another. “But he’ll be gone before you can get him to hos- pital.” “He’s a brave fellow,” said a woman. “They would have had the lady’s purse and watch if it hadn’t been for him. They were a gang, and a rough one, too. Ah, he’s breathing now.” “He can’t lie in the street. May we bring him in, marm?“ “Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There is a comfortable sofa. This way, please!“ 130 A Scandal inBohemia Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony Lodge and laid out in the principal room, while I still observed the proceedings from my post by the window. The lamps had been lit, but the blinds had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as he lay upon the couch. I do not know whether he was seized with compunction at that moment for the part he was playing, but I know that I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life than when I saw the beautiful creature against whom I was conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with which she waited upon the injured man. And yet it would be the blackest treachery to Holmes to draw back now from the part which he had intrusted to me. I hardened my heart, and took the smoke- rocket from under my ulster. After all, I thought, we are not injuring her. We are but preventing her from injuring another. Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw him motion like a man who is in need of air. A maid rushed across and threw open the window. At the same instant I saw him raise his hand and at the signal I tossed my rocket into the room with a cry of “Fire!” The word was no sooner out of my mouth than the whole crowd of spectators, well dressed and ill—gentlemen, ostlers, and servant- maids—joined in a general shriek of “Fire!” Thick clouds of smoke curled through the room and out at the open window. I caught a glimpse of rushing ?gures, and a moment later the voice of Holmes from within assuring them that it was a false alarm. Slipping through the shouting crowd I made my way to the corner of the street, and in ten minutes was rejoiced to ?nd my friend’s arm in mine, and to get away from the scene of uproar. He walked swiftly and in silence for some few min- utes until we had turned down one of the quiet streets which lead towards the Edgeware Road. “You did it very nicely, Doctor,” he remarked. “Nothing could have been better. It is all right.” “You have the photograph?” “I know where it is.” “And how did you ?nd out?” “She showed me, as I told you she would.” “I am still in the dark.” “I do not wish to make a mystery,” said he, laughing. “The matter was perfectly simple. You, of course, saw that everyone in the street was an accomplice. They were all engaged for the evening.” “I guessed as much.” “Then, when the row broke out, I had a little moist red paint in the palm of my hand. I rushed forward, fell down, clapped my hand to my face, and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old trick.” “That also I could fathom.” “Then they carried me in. She was bound to have me in. What else could she do? And into her sitting-room, which was the very room which I suspected. It lay between that and her bedroom, and I was determined to see which. They laid me on a couch, I motioned for air, they were com- pelled to open the window, and you had your chance.” “How did that help you?” “It was all-important. When a woman thinks that her house is on ?re, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values most. It is a per- fectly overpowering impulse, and I have more than once taken advantage of it. In the case of the Dar- lington substitution scandal it was of use to me, and also in the Arnsworth Castle business. A mar- ried woman grabs at her baby; an unmarried one reaches for her jewel-box. Now it was clear to me that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house more precious to her than what we are in quest of. She would rush to secure it. The alarm of ?re was admirably done. The smoke and shouting were enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded beautifully. The photograph is in a recess behind a sliding panel just above the right bell-pull. She was there in an instant, and I caught a glimpse of it as she half-drew it out. When I cried out that it was a false alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the rocket, rushed from the room, and I have not seen her since. I rose, and, making my excuses, escaped from the house. I hesitated whether to attempt to secure the photograph at once; but the coachman had come in, and as he was watching me narrowly it seemed safer to wait. A little over-precipitance may ruin all.” “And now?” I asked. “Our quest is practically ?nished. I shall call with the King to-morrow, and with you, if you care to come with us. We will be shown into the sitting-room to wait for the lady, but it is probable that when she comes she may ?nd neither us nor the photograph. It might be a satisfaction to his Majesty to regain it with his own hands.” “And when will you call?” “At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so that we shall have a clear ?eld. Besides, we must be prompt, for this marriage may mean a complete change in her life and habits. I must wire to the King without delay.” 131 A Scandal inBohemia We had reached Baker Street and had stopped at the door. He was searching his pockets for the key when someone passing said: “Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes.” There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who had hurried by. “I’ve heard that voice before,” said Holmes, staring down the dimly lit street. “Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have been.”CHAPTER III.I slept at Baker Street that night, and we were engaged upon our toast and coffee in the morning when the King of Bohemia rushed into the room. “You have really got it!” he cried, grasping Sherlock Holmes by either shoulder and looking eagerly into his face. “Not yet.” “But you have hopes?” “I have hopes.” “Then, come. I am all impatience to be gone.” “We must have a cab.” “No, my brougham is waiting.” “Then that will simplify matters.” We de- scended and started off once more for Briony Lodge. “Irene Adler is married,” remarked Holmes. “Married! When?” “Yesterday.” “But to whom?” “To an English lawyer named Norton.” “But she could not love him.” “I am in hopes that she does.” “And why in hopes?” “Because it would spare your Majesty all fear of future annoyance. If the lady loves her husband, she does not love your Majesty. If she does not love your Majesty, there is no reason why she should interfere with your Majesty’s plan.” “It is true. And yet—Well! I wish she had been of my own station! What a queen she would have made!” He relapsed into a moody silence, which was not broken until we drew up in Serpentine Avenue. The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an el- derly woman stood upon the steps. She watched us with a sardonic eye as we stepped from the brougham. “Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe?” said she. “I am Mr. Holmes,” answered my companion, looking at her with a questioning and rather star- tled gaze. “Indeed! My mistress told me that you were likely to call. She left this morning with her hus- band by the5.15train from Charing Cross for the Continent.” “What!” Sherlock Holmes staggered back, white with chagrin and surprise. “Do you mean that she has left England?” “Never to return.” “And the papers?” asked the King hoarsely. “All is lost.” “We shall see.” He pushed past the servant and rushed into the drawing-room, followed by the King and myself. The furniture was scattered about in every direction, with dismantled shelves and open drawers, as if the lady had hurriedly ran- sacked them before her ?ight. Holmes rushed at the bell-pull, tore back a small sliding shutter, and, plunging in his hand, pulled out a photograph and a letter. The photograph was of Irene Adler her- self in evening dress, the letter was superscribed to “Sherlock Holmes, Esq. To be left till called for.” My friend tore it open and we all three read it to- gether. It was dated at midnight of the preceding night and ran in this way: 132 “My dearMr. SherlockHolmes: “You really did it very well. You took me in completely. Until after the alarm of ?re, I had not a suspicion. But then, when I found how I had be- trayed myself, I began to think. I had been warned against you months ago. I had been told that if the King em- ployed an agent it would certainly be you. And your address had been given me. Yet, with all this, you made me re- veal what you wanted to know. Even after I became suspicious, I found it hard to think evil of such a dear, kind old clergyman. But, you know, I have been trained as an actress myself. Male costume is nothing new to me. I often take advantage of the freedom which it gives. I sent John, the coachman, to watch you, ran up stairs, got into my walking-clothes, as I call them, and came down just as you departed. “Well, I followed you to your door, and so made sure that I was really an object of interest to the celebrated Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Then I, rather im- prudently, wished you good-night, and started for the Temple to see my hus- band. “We both thought the best resource was ?ight, when pursued by so formidable an antagonist; so you will ?nd the nest empty when you call to- morrow. As to the photograph, your client may rest in peace. I love and am loved by a better man than he. The King may do what he will with- out hindrance from one whom he has cruelly wronged. I keep it only to safeguard myself, and to preserve a weapon which will always secure me from any steps which he might take in the future. I leave a photograph which he might care to possess; and I remain, dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes, “Very truly yours, “IreneNorton, n´ ee Adler.” “What a woman—oh, what a woman!” cried the King of Bohemia, when we had all three read this epistle. “Did I not tell you how quick and resolute she was? Would she not have made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity that she was not on my level?” “From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty,” said Holmes coldly. “I am sorry that I have not been able to bring your Majesty’s busi- ness to a more successful conclusion.” “On the contrary, my dear sir,” cried the King; “nothing could be more successful. I know that her word is inviolate. The photograph is now as safe as if it were in the ?re.” “I am glad to hear your Majesty say so.” “I am immensely indebted to you. Pray tell me in what way I can reward you. This ring—” He slipped an emerald snake ring from his ?nger and held it out upon the palm of his hand. “Your Majesty has something which I should value even more highly,” said Holmes. “You have but to name it.” “This photograph!” The King stared at him in amazement. “Irene’s photograph!” he cried. “Certainly, if you wish it.” “I thank your Majesty. Then there is no more to be done in the matter. I have the honour to wish you a very good-morning.” He bowed, and, turn- ing away without observing the hand which the King had stretched out to him, he set off in my company for his chambers. And that was how a great scandal threatened to affect the kingdom of Bohemia, and how the best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were beaten by a woman’s wit. He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her photograph, it is always un- der the honourable title of the woman. The Red-Headed League TheRed-HeadedLeague Ihad calledupon my friend, Mr. Sher- lock Holmes, one day in the autumn of last year and found him in deep conver- sation with a very stout, orid-faced, el- derly gentleman with ery red hair. With an apol- ogy for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw when Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room and closed the door behind me. ?You could not possibly have come at a better time, my dear Watson,? he said cordially. ?I was afraid that you were engaged.? ?So I am. Very much so.? ?Then I can wait in the next room.? ?Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partner and helper in many of my most successful cases, and I have no doubt that he will be of the utmost use to me in yours also.? The stout gentleman half rose from his chair and gave a bob of greeting, with a quick little ques- tioning glance from his small fat-encircled eyes. ?Try the settee,? said Holmes, relapsing into his armchair and putting his ngertips together, as was his custom when in judicial moods. ?I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life. You have shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own little adventures.? ?Your cases have indeed been of the greatest interest to me,? I observed. ?You will remember that I remarked the other day, just before we went into the very simple prob- lem presented by Miss Mary Sutherland, that for strange effects and extraordinary combinations we must go to life itself, which is always far more dar- ing than any effort of the imagination.? ?A proposition which I took the liberty of doubting.? ?You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been good enough to call upon me this morning, and to begin a narrative which promises to be one of the most singular which I have listened to for some time. You have heard me remark that the strangest and most unique things are very often connected not with the larger but with the smaller crimes, and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for doubt whether any positive crime has been com- mitted. As far as I have heard it is impossible for me to say whether the present case is an instance of crime or not, but the course of events is cer- tainly among the most singular that I have ever listened to. Perhaps, Mr. Wilson, you would have the great kindness to recommence your narrative. I ask you not merely because my friend Dr. Watson has not heard the opening part but also because the peculiar nature of the story makes me anxious to have every possible detail from your lips. As a rule, when I have heard some slight indication of the course of events, I am able to guide myself by the thousands of other similar cases which occur to my memory. In the present instance I am forced to admit that the facts are, to the best of my belief, unique.? The portly client puffed out his chest with an appearance of some little pride and pulled a dirty and wrinkled newspaper from the inside pocket of his greatcoat. As he glanced down the advertise- ment column, with his head thrust forward and the paper attened out upon his knee, I took a good look at the man and endeavoured, after the fashion of my companion, to read the indications which might be presented by his dress or appear- ance. I did not gain very much, however, by my in- spection. Our visitor bore every mark of being an average commonplace British tradesman, obese, pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy grey shepherd’s check trousers, a not over-clean black frock-coat, unbuttoned in the front, and a drab waistcoat with a heavy brassy Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as an ornament. A frayed top-hat and a faded brown overcoat with a wrinkled velvet collar lay upon a chair beside him. Altogether, look as I would, there was nothing remarkable about the man save his blazing red head, and the expression of ex- treme chagrin and discontent upon his features. Sherlock Holmes’ quick eye took in my occu- pation, and he shook his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances. ?Beyond the ob- vious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can de- duce nothing else.? Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forenger upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion. ?How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?? he asked. ?How did 137 TheRed-HeadedLeague you know, for example, that I did manual labour. It’s as true as gospel, for I began as a ship’s car- penter.” “Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed.” “Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?” “I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you use an arc-and- compass breastpin.” “Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?” “What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for ?ve inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it upon the desk?” “Well, but China?” “The ?sh that you have tattooed immediately above your right wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature of the subject. That trick of staining the ?shes’ scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter becomes even more simple.” Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. “Well, I never!” said he. “I thought at ?rst that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it, after all.” “I begin to think, Watson,” said Holmes, “that I make a mistake in explaining.‘Omne ignotum pro magni?co,’you know, and my poor little reputa- tion, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid. Can you not ?nd the advertisement, Mr. Wilson?” “Yes, I have got it now,” he answered with his thick red ?nger planted halfway down the column. “Here it is. This is what began it all. You just read it for yourself, sir.” I took the paper from him and read as follows: “To theRed-headedLeague: On ac- count of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., there is now another va- cancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of£4a week for purely nominal services. All red- headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age of twenty- one years, are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at eleven o’clock, to Dun- can Ross, at the of?ces of the League,7Pope’s Court, Fleet Street.” “What on earth does this mean?” I ejaculated after I had twice read over the extraordinary an- nouncement. Holmes chuckled and wriggled in his chair, as was his habit when in high spirits. “It is a lit- tle off the beaten track, isn’t it?” said he. “And now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell us all about yourself, your household, and the effect which this advertisement had upon your fortunes. You will ?rst make a note, Doctor, of the paper and the date.” “It isThe Morning Chronicleof April27,1890. Just two months ago.” “Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson?” “Well, it is just as I have been telling you, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Jabez Wilson, mopping his forehead; “I have a small pawnbroker’s business at Coburg Square, near the City. It’s not a very large affair, and of late years it has not done more than just give me a living. I used to be able to keep two assistants, but now I only keep one; and I would have a job to pay him but that he is willing to come for half wages so as to learn the business.” “What is the name of this obliging youth?” asked Sherlock Holmes. “His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he’s not such a youth, either. It’s hard to say his age. I should not wish a smarter assistant, Mr. Holmes; and I know very well that he could better himself and earn twice what I am able to give him. But, after all, if he is satis?ed, why should I put ideas in his head?” “Why, indeed? You seem most fortunate in having an employee who comes under the full market price. It is not a common experience among employers in this age. I don’t know that your assistant is not as remarkable as your adver- tisement.” “Oh, he has his faults, too,” said Mr. Wilson. “Never was such a fellow for photography. Snap- ping away with a camera when he ought to be im- proving his mind, and then diving down into the cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pic- tures. That is his main fault, but on the whole he’s a good worker. There’s no vice in him.” “He is still with you, I presume?” “Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who does a bit of simple cooking and keeps the place clean—that’s all I have in the house, for I am a widower and never had any family. We live very quietly, sir, the three of us; and we keep a roof 138 TheRed-HeadedLeague over our heads and pay our debts, if we do noth- ing more. “The ?rst thing that put us out was that adver- tisement. Spaulding, he came down into the of?ce just this day eight weeks, with this very paper in his hand, and he says: “ ‘I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed man.’ “ ‘Why that?’ I asks. “ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘here’s another vacancy on the League of the Red-headed Men. It’s worth quite a little fortune to any man who gets it, and I un- derstand that there are more vacancies than there are men, so that the trustees are at their wits’ end what to do with the money. If my hair would only change colour, here’s a nice little crib all ready for me to step into.’ “ ‘Why, what is it, then?’ I asked. You see, Mr. Holmes, I am a very stay-at-home man, and as my business came to me instead of my having to go to it, I was often weeks on end without putting my foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn’t know much of what was going on outside, and I was always glad of a bit of news. “ ‘Have you never heard of the League of the Red-headed Men?’ he asked with his eyes open. “ ‘Never.’ “ ‘Why, I wonder at that, for you are eligible yourself for one of the vacancies.’ “ ‘And what are they worth?’ I asked. “ ‘Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but the work is slight, and it need not interfere very much with one’s other occupations.’ “Well, you can easily think that that made me prick up my ears, for the business has not been over-good for some years, and an extra couple of hundred would have been very handy. “ ‘Tell me all about it,’ said I. “ ‘Well,’ said he, showing me the advertise- ment, ‘you can see for yourself that the League has a vacancy, and there is the address where you should apply for particulars. As far as I can make out, the League was founded by an American mil- lionaire, Ezekiah Hopkins, who was very peculiar in his ways. He was himself red-headed, and he had a great sympathy for all red-headed men; so when he died it was found that he had left his enormous fortune in the hands of trustees, with instructions to apply the interest to the providing of easy berths to men whose hair is of that colour. From all I hear it is splendid pay and very little to do.’ “ ‘But,’ said I, ‘there would be millions of red- headed men who would apply.’ “ ‘Not so many as you might think,’ he an- swered. ‘You see it is really con?ned to London- ers, and to grown men. This American had started from London when he was young, and he wanted to do the old town a good turn. Then, again, I have heard it is no use your applying if your hair is light red, or dark red, or anything but real bright, blaz- ing, ?ery red. Now, if you cared to apply, Mr. Wil- son, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would hardly be worth your while to put yourself out of the way for the sake of a few hundred pounds.’ “Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see for yourselves, that my hair is of a very full and rich tint, so that it seemed to me that if there was to be any competition in the matter I stood as good a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent Spaulding seemed to know so much about it that I thought he might prove useful, so I just ordered him to put up the shutters for the day and to come right away with me. He was very willing to have a holiday, so we shut the business up and started off for the address that was given us in the advertise- ment. “I never hope to see such a sight as that again, Mr. Holmes. From north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of red in his hair had tramped into the city to answer the advertise- ment. Fleet Street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope’s Court looked like a coster’s or- ange barrow. I should not have thought there were so many in the whole country as were brought to- gether by that single advertisement. Every shade of colour they were—straw, lemon, orange, brick, Irish-setter, liver, clay; but, as Spaulding said, there were not many who had the real vivid ?ame- coloured tint. When I saw how many were wait- ing, I would have given it up in despair; but Spaulding would not hear of it. How he did it I could not imagine, but he pushed and pulled and butted until he got me through the crowd, and right up to the steps which led to the of?ce. There was a double stream upon the stair, some going up in hope, and some coming back dejected; but we wedged in as well as we could and soon found ourselves in the of?ce.” “Your experience has been a most entertaining one,” remarked Holmes as his client paused and refreshed his memory with a huge pinch of snuff. “Pray continue your very interesting statement.” “There was nothing in the of?ce but a couple of wooden chairs and a deal table, behind which sat a small man with a head that was even redder than 139 TheRed-HeadedLeague mine. He said a few words to each candidate as he came up, and then he always managed to ?nd some fault in them which would disqualify them. Getting a vacancy did not seem to be such a very easy matter, after all. However, when our turn came the little man was much more favourable to me than to any of the others, and he closed the door as we entered, so that he might have a pri- vate word with us. “ ‘This is Mr. Jabez Wilson,’ said my assistant, ‘and he is willing to ?ll a vacancy in the League.’ “ ‘And he is admirably suited for it,’ the other answered. ‘He has every requirement. I cannot re- call when I have seen anything so ?ne.’ He took a step backward, cocked his head on one side, and gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then suddenly he plunged forward, wrung my hand, and congratulated me warmly on my success. “ ‘It would be injustice to hesitate,’ said he. ‘You will, however, I am sure, excuse me for taking an obvious precaution.’ With that he seized my hair in both his hands, and tugged until I yelled with the pain. ‘There is water in your eyes,’ said he as he released me. ‘I perceive that all is as it should be. But we have to be careful, for we have twice been deceived by wigs and once by paint. I could tell you tales of cobbler’s wax which would disgust you with human nature.’ He stepped over to the window and shouted through it at the top of his voice that the vacancy was ?lled. A groan of disappointment came up from below, and the folk all trooped away in different directions until there was not a red-head to be seen except my own and that of the manager. “ ‘My name,’ said he, ‘is Mr. Duncan Ross, and I am myself one of the pensioners upon the fund left by our noble benefactor. Are you a married man, Mr. Wilson? Have you a family?’ “I answered that I had not. “His face fell immediately. “ ‘Dear me!’ he said gravely, ‘that is very se- rious indeed! I am sorry to hear you say that. The fund was, of course, for the propagation and spread of the red-heads as well as for their main- tenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you should be a bachelor.’ “My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I thought that I was not to have the vacancy after all; but after thinking it over for a few minutes he said that it would be all right. “ ‘In the case of another,’ said he, ‘the objec- tion might be fatal, but we must stretch a point in favour of a man with such a head of hair as yours. When shall you be able to enter upon your new duties?’ “ ‘Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a busi- ness already,’ said I. “ ‘Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson!’ said Vincent Spaulding. ‘I should be able to look after that for you.’ “ ‘What would be the hours?’ I asked. “ ‘Ten to two.’ “Now a pawnbroker’s business is mostly done of an evening, Mr. Holmes, especially Thursday and Friday evening, which is just before pay-day; so it would suit me very well to earn a little in the mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a good man, and that he would see to anything that turned up. “ ‘That would suit me very well,’ said I. ‘And the pay?’ “ ‘Is£4a week.’ “ ‘And the work?’ “ ‘Is purely nominal.’ “ ‘What do you call purely nominal?’ “ ‘Well, you have to be in the of?ce, or at least in the building, the whole time. If you leave, you forfeit your whole position forever. The will is very clear upon that point. You don’t comply with the conditions if you budge from the of?ce during that time.’ “ ‘It’s only four hours a day, and I should not think of leaving,’ said I. “ ‘No excuse will avail,’ said Mr. Duncan Ross; ‘neither sickness nor business nor anything else. There you must stay, or you lose your billet.’ “ ‘And the work?’ “ ‘Is to copy out the “Encyclopaedia Britan- nica.” There is the ?rst volume of it in that press. You must ?nd your own ink, pens, and blotting- paper, but we provide this table and chair. Will you be ready to-morrow?’ “ ‘Certainly,’ I answered. “ ‘Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me congratulate you once more on the important po- sition which you have been fortunate enough to gain.’ He bowed me out of the room and I went home with my assistant, hardly knowing what to say or do, I was so pleased at my own good for- tune. “Well, I thought over the matter all day, and by evening I was in low spirits again; for I had quite persuaded myself that the whole affair must be some great hoax or fraud, though what its ob- ject might be I could not imagine. It seemed al- together past belief that anyone could make such 140 TheRed-HeadedLeague a will, or that they would pay such a sum for do- ing anything so simple as copying out the ‘Ency- clopaedia Britannica.’ Vincent Spaulding did what he could to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had rea- soned myself out of the whole thing. However, in the morning I determined to have a look at it any- how, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with a quill-pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I started off for Pope’s Court. “Well, to my surprise and delight, everything was as right as possible. The table was set out ready for me, and Mr. Duncan Ross was there to see that I got fairly to work. He started me off upon the letter A, and then he left me; but he would drop in from time to time to see that all was right with me. At two o’clock he bade me good- day, complimented me upon the amount that I had written, and locked the door of the of?ce after me. “This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and on Saturday the manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns for my week’s work. It was the same next week, and the same the week after. Every morning I was there at ten, and ev- ery afternoon I left at two. By degrees Mr. Duncan Ross took to coming in only once of a morning, and then, after a time, he did not come in at all. Still, of course, I never dared to leave the room for an instant, for I was not sure when he might come, and the billet was such a good one, and suited me so well, that I would not risk the loss of it. “Eight weeks passed away like this, and I had written about Abbots and Archery and Armour and Architecture and Attica, and hoped with dili- gence that I might get on to the B’s before very long. It cost me something in foolscap, and I had pretty nearly ?lled a shelf with my writings. And then suddenly the whole business came to an end.” “To an end?” “Yes, sir. And no later than this morning. I went to my work as usual at ten o’clock, but the door was shut and locked, with a little square of cardboard hammered on to the middle of the panel with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for your- self.” He held up a piece of white cardboard about the size of a sheet of note-paper. It read in this fashion: TheRed-headedLeague isDissolvedOctober9,1890. Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt an- nouncement and the rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so completely overtopped every other consideration that we both burst out into a roar of laughter. “I cannot see that there is anything very funny,” cried our client, ?ushing up to the roots of his ?aming head. “If you can do nothing better than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere.” “No, no,” cried Holmes, shoving him back into the chair from which he had half risen. “I really wouldn’t miss your case for the world. It is most refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you will ex- cuse my saying so, something just a little funny about it. Pray what steps did you take when you found the card upon the door?” “I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to do. Then I called at the of?ces round, but none of them seemed to know anything about it. Fi- nally, I went to the landlord, who is an accountant living on the ground-?oor, and I asked him if he could tell me what had become of the Red-headed League. He said that he had never heard of any such body. Then I asked him who Mr. Duncan Ross was. He answered that the name was new to him. “ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘the gentleman at No.4.’ “ ‘What, the red-headed man?’ “ ‘Yes.’ “ ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘his name was William Mor- ris. He was a solicitor and was using my room as a temporary convenience until his new premises were ready. He moved out yesterday.’ “ ‘Where could I ?nd him?’ “ ‘Oh, at his new of?ces. He did tell me the ad- dress. Yes,17King Edward Street, near St. Paul’s.’ “I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got to that address it was a manufactory of arti?cial knee-caps, and no one in it had ever heard of ei- ther Mr. William Morris or Mr. Duncan Ross.” “And what did you do then?” asked Holmes. “I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I took the advice of my assistant. But he could not help me in any way. He could only say that if I waited I should hear by post. But that was not quite good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to lose such a place without a struggle, so, as I had heard that you were good enough to give advice to poor folk who were in need of it, I came right away to you.” “And you did very wisely,” said Holmes. “Your case is an exceedingly remarkable one, and I 141 TheRed-HeadedLeague shall be happy to look into it. From what you have told me I think that it is possible that graver issues hang from it than might at ?rst sight appear.” “Grave enough!” said Mr. Jabez Wilson. “Why, I have lost four pound a week.” “As far as you are personally concerned,” re- marked Holmes, “I do not see that you have any grievance against this extraordinary league. On the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by some£30, to say nothing of the minute knowledge which you have gained on every subject which comes under the letter A. You have lost nothing by them.” “No, sir. But I want to ?nd out about them, and who they are, and what their object was in playing this prank—if it was a prank—upon me. It was a pretty expensive joke for them, for it cost them two and thirty pounds.” “We shall endeavour to clear up these points for you. And, ?rst, one or two questions, Mr. Wil- son. This assistant of yours who ?rst called your attention to the advertisement—how long had he been with you?” “About a month then.” “How did he come?” “In answer to an advertisement.” “Was he the only applicant?” “No, I had a dozen.” “Why did you pick him?” “Because he was handy and would come cheap.” “At half-wages, in fact.” “Yes.” “What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?” “Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no hair on his face, though he’s not short of thirty. Has a white splash of acid upon his forehead.” Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable ex- citement. “I thought as much,” said he. “Have you ever observed that his ears are pierced for ear- rings?” “Yes, sir. He told me that a gipsy had done it for him when he was a lad.” “Hum!” said Holmes, sinking back in deep thought. “He is still with you?” “Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him.” “And has your business been attended to in your absence?” “Nothing to complain of, sir. There’s never very much to do of a morning.” “That will do, Mr. Wilson. I shall be happy to give you an opinion upon the subject in the course of a day or two. To-day is Saturday, and I hope that by Monday we may come to a conclusion.” “Well, Watson,” said Holmes when our visitor had left us, “what do you make of it all?” “I make nothing of it,” I answered frankly. “It is a most mysterious business.” “As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most dif?cult to identify. But I must be prompt over this matter.” “What are you going to do, then?” I asked. “To smoke,” he answered. “It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for ?fty minutes.” He curled himself up in his chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his hawk- like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed and his black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill of some strange bird. I had come to the conclusion that he had dropped asleep, and indeed was nod- ding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his chair with the gesture of a man who has made up his mind and put his pipe down upon the mantel- piece. “Sarasate plays at the St. James’s Hall this after- noon,” he remarked. “What do you think, Watson? Could your patients spare you for a few hours?” “I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is never very absorbing.” “Then put on your hat and come. I am going through the City ?rst, and we can have some lunch on the way. I observe that there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which is rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is intro- spective, and I want to introspect. Come along!” We travelled by the Underground as far as Aldersgate; and a short walk took us to Saxe- Coburg Square, the scene of the singular story which we had listened to in the morning. It was a poky, little, shabby-genteel place, where four lines of dingy two-storied brick houses looked out into a small railed-in enclosure, where a lawn of weedy grass and a few clumps of faded laurel- bushes made a hard ?ght against a smoke-laden and uncongenial atmosphere. Three gilt balls and a brown board with “JabezWilson” in white let- ters, upon a corner house, announced the place where our red-headed client carried on his busi- ness. Sherlock Holmes stopped in front of it with his head on one side and looked it all over, with 142 TheRed-HeadedLeague his eyes shining brightly between puckered lids. Then he walked slowly up the street, and then down again to the corner, still looking keenly at the houses. Finally he returned to the pawnbro- ker’s, and, having thumped vigorously upon the pavement with his stick two or three times, he went up to the door and knocked. It was instantly opened by a bright-looking, clean-shaven young fellow, who asked him to step in. “Thank you,” said Holmes, “I only wished to ask you how you would go from here to the Strand.” “Third right, fourth left,” answered the assis- tant promptly, closing the door. “Smart fellow, that,” observed Holmes as we walked away. “He is, in my judgment, the fourth smartest man in London, and for daring I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third. I have known something of him before.” “Evidently,” said I, “Mr. Wilson’s assistant counts for a good deal in this mystery of the Red- headed League. I am sure that you inquired your way merely in order that you might see him.” “Not him.” “What then?” “The knees of his trousers.” “And what did you see?” “What I expected to see.” “Why did you beat the pavement?” “My dear doctor, this is a time for observation, not for talk. We are spies in an enemy’s country. We know something of Saxe-Coburg Square. Let us now explore the parts which lie behind it.” The road in which we found ourselves as we turned round the corner from the retired Saxe- Coburg Square presented as great a contrast to it as the front of a picture does to the back. It was one of the main arteries which conveyed the traf- ?c of the City to the north and west. The road- way was blocked with the immense stream of com- merce ?owing in a double tide inward and out- ward, while the footpaths were black with the hur- rying swarm of pedestrians. It was dif?cult to re- alise as we looked at the line of ?ne shops and stately business premises that they really abutted on the other side upon the faded and stagnant square which we had just quitted. “Let me see,” said Holmes, standing at the cor- ner and glancing along the line, “I should like just to remember the order of the houses here. It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of Lon- don. There is Mortimer’s, the tobacconist, the little newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City and Suburban Bank, the Vegetarian Restaurant, and McFarlane’s carriage-building depot. That carries us right on to the other block. And now, Doctor, we’ve done our work, so it’s time we had some play. A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony, and there are no red- headed clients to vex us with their conundrums.” My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being himself not only a very capable performer but a composer of no ordinary merit. All the afternoon he sat in the stalls wrapped in the most perfect happiness, gently waving his long, thin ?ngers in time to the music, while his gently smiling face and his languid, dreamy eyes were as unlike those of Holmes the sleuth-hound, Holmes the relent- less, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as it was possible to conceive. In his singular charac- ter the dual nature alternately asserted itself, and his extreme exactness and astuteness represented, as I have often thought, the reaction against the poetic and contemplative mood which occasion- ally predominated in him. The swing of his nature took him from extreme languor to devouring en- ergy; and, as I knew well, he was never so truly formidable as when, for days on end, he had been lounging in his armchair amid his improvisations and his black-letter editions. Then it was that the lust of the chase would suddenly come upon him, and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise to the level of intuition, until those who were un- acquainted with his methods would look askance at him as on a man whose knowledge was not that of other mortals. When I saw him that afternoon so enwrapped in the music at St. James’s Hall I felt that an evil time might be coming upon those whom he had set himself to hunt down. “You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor,” he remarked as we emerged. “Yes, it would be as well.” “And I have some business to do which will take some hours. This business at Coburg Square is serious.” “Why serious?” “A considerable crime is in contemplation. I have every reason to believe that we shall be in time to stop it. But to-day being Saturday rather complicates matters. I shall want your help to- night.” “At what time?” “Ten will be early enough.” “I shall be at Baker Street at ten.” 143 TheRed-HeadedLeague “Very well. And, I say, Doctor, there may be some little danger, so kindly put your army re- volver in your pocket.” He waved his hand, turned on his heel, and disappeared in an instant among the crowd. I trust that I am not more dense than my neigh- bours, but I was always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard, I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident that he saw clearly not only what had happened but what was about to hap- pen, while to me the whole business was still con- fused and grotesque. As I drove home to my house in Kensington I thought over it all, from the ex- traordinary story of the red-headed copier of the “Encyclopaedia” down to the visit to Saxe-Coburg Square, and the ominous words with which he had parted from me. What was this nocturnal expedi- tion, and why should I go armed? Where were we going, and what were we to do? I had the hint from Holmes that this smooth-faced pawn- broker’s assistant was a formidable man—a man who might play a deep game. I tried to puzzle it out, but gave it up in despair and set the matter aside until night should bring an explanation. It was a quarter-past nine when I started from home and made my way across the Park, and so through Oxford Street to Baker Street. Two hansoms were standing at the door, and as I en- tered the passage I heard the sound of voices from above. On entering his room I found Holmes in an- imated conversation with two men, one of whom I recognised as Peter Jones, the of?cial police agent, while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man, with a very shiny hat and oppressively respectable frock-coat. “Ha! Our party is complete,” said Holmes, buttoning up his pea-jacket and taking his heavy hunting crop from the rack. “Watson, I think you know Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard? Let me intro- duce you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our companion in to-night’s adventure.” “We’re hunting in couples again, Doctor, you see,” said Jones in his consequential way. “Our friend here is a wonderful man for starting a chase. All he wants is an old dog to help him to do the running down.” “I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our chase,” observed Mr. Merryweather gloomily. “You may place considerable con?dence in Mr. Holmes, sir,” said the police agent loftily. “He has his own little methods, which are, if he won’t mind my saying so, just a little too theoretical and fan- tastic, but he has the makings of a detective in him. It is not too much to say that once or twice, as in that business of the Sholto murder and the Agra treasure, he has been more nearly correct than the of?cial force.” “Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right,” said the stranger with deference. “Still, I confess that I miss my rubber. It is the ?rst Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my rubber.” “I think you will ?nd,” said Sherlock Holmes, “that you will play for a higher stake to-night than you have ever done yet, and that the play will be more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather, the stake will be some£30,000; and for you, Jones, it will be the man upon whom you wish to lay your hands.” “John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. He’s a young man, Mr. Merryweather, but he is at the head of his profession, and I would rather have my bracelets on him than on any crim- inal in London. He’s a remarkable man, is young John Clay. His grandfather was a royal duke, and he himself has been to Eton and Oxford. His brain is as cunning as his ?ngers, and though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know where to ?nd the man himself. He’ll crack a crib in Scot- land one week, and be raising money to build an orphanage in Cornwall the next. I’ve been on his track for years and have never set eyes on him yet.” “I hope that I may have the pleasure of intro- ducing you to-night. I’ve had one or two little turns also with Mr. John Clay, and I agree with you that he is at the head of his profession. It is past ten, however, and quite time that we started. If you two will take the ?rst hansom, Watson and I will follow in the second.” Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative during the long drive and lay back in the cab hum- ming the tunes which he had heard in the after- noon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth of gas-lit streets until we emerged into Farrington Street. “We are close there now,” my friend remarked. “This fellow Merryweather is a bank director, and personally interested in the matter. I thought it as well to have Jones with us also. He is not a bad fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profes- sion. He has one positive virtue. He is as brave as a bulldog and as tenacious as a lobster if he gets his claws upon anyone. Here we are, and they are waiting for us.” 144 TheRed-HeadedLeague We had reached the same crowded thorough- fare in which we had found ourselves in the morn- ing. Our cabs were dismissed, and, following the guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down a narrow passage and through a side door, which he opened for us. Within there was a small cor- ridor, which ended in a very massive iron gate. This also was opened, and led down a ?ight of winding stone steps, which terminated at another formidable gate. Mr. Merryweather stopped to light a lantern, and then conducted us down a dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after open- ing a third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which was piled all round with crates and massive boxes. “You are not very vulnerable from above,” Holmes remarked as he held up the lantern and gazed about him. “Nor from below,” said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stick upon the ?ags which lined the ?oor. “Why, dear me, it sounds quite hollow!” he remarked, looking up in surprise. “I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!” said Holmes severely. “You have already imper- illed the whole success of our expedition. Might I beg that you would have the goodness to sit down upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?” The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself upon a crate, with a very injured expression upon his face, while Holmes fell upon his knees upon the ?oor and, with the lantern and a magnifying lens, began to examine minutely the cracks be- tween the stones. A few seconds suf?ced to satisfy him, for he sprang to his feet again and put his glass in his pocket. “We have at least an hour before us,” he re- marked, “for they can hardly take any steps until the good pawnbroker is safely in bed. Then they will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do their work the longer time they will have for their es- cape. We are at present, Doctor—as no doubt you have divined—in the cellar of the City branch of one of the principal London banks. Mr. Merry- weather is the chairman of directors, and he will explain to you that there are reasons why the more daring criminals of London should take a consid- erable interest in this cellar at present.” “It is our French gold,” whispered the director. “We have had several warnings that an attempt might be made upon it.” “Your French gold?” “Yes. We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our resources and borrowed for that purpose30,000napoleons from the Bank of France. It has become known that we have never had occa- sion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying in our cellar. The crate upon which I sit contains2,000napoleons packed between layers of lead foil. Our reserve of bullion is much larger at present than is usually kept in a single branch of?ce, and the directors have had misgivings upon the sub- ject.” “Which were very well justi?ed,” observed Holmes. “And now it is time that we arranged our little plans. I expect that within an hour matters will come to a head. In the meantime Mr. Mer- ryweather, we must put the screen over that dark lantern.” “And sit in the dark?” “I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards in my pocket, and I thought that, as we were apar- tie carr ´ ee, you might have your rubber after all. But I see that the enemy’s preparations have gone so far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And, ?rst of all, we must choose our positions. These are daring men, and though we shall take them at a disadvantage, they may do us some harm un- less we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate, and do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then, when I ?ash a light upon them, close in swiftly. If they ?re, Watson, have no compunction about shooting them down.” I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top of the wooden case behind which I crouched. Holmes shot the slide across the front of his lantern and left us in pitch darkness—such an ab- solute darkness as I have never before experienced. The smell of hot metal remained to assure us that the light was still there, ready to ?ash out at a mo- ment’s notice. To me, with my nerves worked up to a pitch of expectancy, there was something de- pressing and subduing in the sudden gloom, and in the cold dank air of the vault. “They have but one retreat,” whispered Holmes. “That is back through the house into Saxe-Coburg Square. I hope that you have done what I asked you, Jones?” “I have an inspector and two of?cers waiting at the front door.” “Then we have stopped all the holes. And now we must be silent and wait.” What a time it seemed! From comparing notes afterwards it was but an hour and a quarter, yet it appeared to me that the night must have almost gone and the dawn be breaking above us. My limbs were weary and stiff, for I feared to change my position; yet my nerves were worked up to the 145 TheRed-HeadedLeague highest pitch of tension, and my hearing was so acute that I could not only hear the gentle breath- ing of my companions, but I could distinguish the deeper, heavier in-breath of the bulky Jones from the thin, sighing note of the bank director. From my position I could look over the case in the di- rection of the ?oor. Suddenly my eyes caught the glint of a light. At ?rst it was but a lurid spark upon the stone pavement. Then it lengthened out until it became a yellow line, and then, without any warning or sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand ap- peared, a white, almost womanly hand, which felt about in the centre of the little area of light. For a minute or more the hand, with its writhing ?ngers, protruded out of the ?oor. Then it was withdrawn as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again save the single lurid spark which marked a chink between the stones. Its disappearance, however, was but momen- tary. With a rending, tearing sound, one of the broad, white stones turned over upon its side and left a square, gaping hole, through which streamed the light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a clean-cut, boyish face, which looked keenly about it, and then, with a hand on either side of the aper- ture, drew itself shoulder-high and waist-high, un- til one knee rested upon the edge. In another in- stant he stood at the side of the hole and was haul- ing after him a companion, lithe and small like himself, with a pale face and a shock of very red hair. “It’s all clear,” he whispered. “Have you the chisel and the bags? Great Scott! Jump, Archie, jump, and I’ll swing for it!” Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized the intruder by the collar. The other dived down the hole, and I heard the sound of rending cloth as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light ?ashed upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes’ hunting crop came down on the man’s wrist, and the pistol clinked upon the stone ?oor. “It’s no use, John Clay,” said Holmes blandly. “You have no chance at all.” “So I see,” the other answered with the utmost coolness. “I fancy that my pal is all right, though I see you have got his coat-tails.” “There are three men waiting for him at the door,” said Holmes. “Oh, indeed! You seem to have done the thing very completely. I must compliment you.” “And I you,” Holmes answered. “Your red- headed idea was very new and effective.” “You’ll see your pal again presently,” said Jones. “He’s quicker at climbing down holes than I am. Just hold out while I ?x the derbies.” “I beg that you will not touch me with your ?lthy hands,” remarked our prisoner as the hand- cuffs clattered upon his wrists. “You may not be aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have the goodness, also, when you address me always to say ‘sir’ and ‘please.’ ” “All right,” said Jones with a stare and a snig- ger. “Well, would you please, sir, march upstairs, where we can get a cab to carry your Highness to the police-station?” “That is better,” said John Clay serenely. He made a sweeping bow to the three of us and walked quietly off in the custody of the detective. “Really, Mr. Holmes,” said Mr. Merryweather as we followed them from the cellar, “I do not know how the bank can thank you or repay you. There is no doubt that you have detected and de- feated in the most complete manner one of the most determined attempts at bank robbery that have ever come within my experience.” “I have had one or two little scores of my own to settle with Mr. John Clay,” said Holmes. “I have been at some small expense over this matter, which I shall expect the bank to refund, but beyond that I am amply repaid by having had an experience which is in many ways unique, and by hearing the very remarkable narrative of the Red-headed League.” “You see, Watson,” he explained in the early hours of the morning as we sat over a glass of whisky and soda in Baker Street, “it was perfectly obvious from the ?rst that the only possible object of this rather fantastic business of the advertise- ment of the League, and the copying of the ‘En- cyclopaedia,’ must be to get this not over-bright pawnbroker out of the way for a number of hours every day. It was a curious way of managing it, but, really, it would be dif?cult to suggest a bet- ter. The method was no doubt suggested to Clay’s ingenious mind by the colour of his accomplice’s hair. The£4a week was a lure which must draw him, and what was it to them, who were playing for thousands? They put in the advertisement, one rogue has the temporary of?ce, the other rogue in- cites the man to apply for it, and together they manage to secure his absence every morning in the week. From the time that I heard of the assistant having come for half wages, it was obvious to me that he had some strong motive for securing the situation.” 146 “But how could you guess what the motive was?“ “Had there been women in the house, I should have suspected a mere vulgar intrigue. That, how- ever, was out of the question. The man’s busi- ness was a small one, and there was nothing in his house which could account for such elabo- rate preparations, and such an expenditure as they were at. It must, then, be something out of the house. What could it be? I thought of the assis- tant’s fondness for photography, and his trick of vanishing into the cellar. The cellar! There was the end of this tangled clue. Then I made inquiries as to this mysterious assistant and found that I had to deal with one of the coolest and most daring crim- inals in London. He was doing something in the cellar—something which took many hours a day for months on end. What could it be, once more? I could think of nothing save that he was running a tunnel to some other building. “So far I had got when we went to visit the scene of action. I surprised you by beating upon the pavement with my stick. I was ascertaining whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind. It was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as I hoped, the assistant answered it. We have had some skirmishes, but we had never set eyes upon each other before. I hardly looked at his face. His knees were what I wished to see. You must yourself have remarked how worn, wrinkled, and stained they were. They spoke of those hours of burrowing. The only remaining point was what they were burrowing for. I walked round the cor- ner, saw the City and Suburban Bank abutted on our friend’s premises, and felt that I had solved my problem. When you drove home after the concert I called upon Scotland Yard and upon the chairman of the bank directors, with the result that you have seen.” “And how could you tell that they would make their attempt to-night?” I asked. “Well, when they closed their League of?ces that was a sign that they cared no longer about Mr. Jabez Wilson’s presence—in other words, that they had completed their tunnel. But it was es- sential that they should use it soon, as it might be discovered, or the bullion might be removed. Sat- urday would suit them better than any other day, as it would give them two days for their escape. For all these reasons I expected them to come to- night.” “You reasoned it out beautifully,” I exclaimed in unfeigned admiration. “It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.” “It saved me from ennui,” he answered, yawn- ing. “Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so.” “And you are a benefactor of the race,” said I. He shrugged his shoulders. “Well, perhaps, after all, it is of some little use,” he remarked.“ ‘L’homme c’est rien—l’oeuvre c’est tout,’as Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand.” A Case of Identity A Case ofIdentity My dearfellow,? said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either side of the re in his lodgings at Baker Street, ?life is in- nitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could y out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange co- incidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through gen- erations, and leading to the most outr · e results, it would make all ction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprof- itable.? ?And yet I am not convinced of it,? I answered. ?The cases which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed to its ex- treme limits, and yet the result is, it must be con- fessed, neither fascinating nor artistic.? ?A certain selection and discretion must be used in producing a realistic effect,? remarked Holmes. ?This is wanting in the police report, where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the plat- itudes of the magistrate than upon the details, which to an observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter. Depend upon it, there is noth- ing so unnatural as the commonplace.? I smiled and shook my head. ?I can quite un- derstand your thinking so.? I said. ?Of course, in your position of unofcial adviser and helper to everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout three continents, you are brought in contact with all that is strange and bizarre. But here??I picked up the morning paper from the ground??let us put it to a practical test. Here is the rst heading upon which I come. ‘A husband’s cruelty to his wife.’ There is half a column of print, but I know without reading it that it is all perfectly familiar to me. There is, of course, the other woman, the drink, the push, the blow, the bruise, the sympa- thetic sister or landlady. The crudest of writers could invent nothing more crude.? ?Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one for your argument,? said Holmes, taking the pa- per and glancing his eye down it. ?This is the Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was engaged in clearing up some small points in con- nection with it. The husband was a teetotaler, there was no other woman, and the conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit of wind- ing up every meal by taking out his false teeth and hurling them at his wife, which, you will allow, is not an action likely to occur to the imagination of the average story-teller. Take a pinch of snuff, Doc- tor, and acknowledge that I have scored over you in your example.? He held out his snuffbox of old gold, with a great amethyst in the centre of the lid. Its splen- dour was in such contrast to his homely ways and simple life that I could not help commenting upon it. ?Ah,? said he, ?I forgot that I had not seen you for some weeks. It is a little souvenir from the King of Bohemia in return for my assistance in the case of the Irene Adler papers.? ?And the ring?? I asked, glancing at a remark- able brilliant which sparkled upon his nger. ?It was from the reigning family of Holland, though the matter in which I served them was of such delicacy that I cannot conde it even to you, who have been good enough to chronicle one or two of my little problems.? ?And have you any on hand just now?? I asked with interest. ?Some ten or twelve, but none which present any feature of interest. They are important, you understand, without being interesting. Indeed, I have found that it is usually in unimportant mat- ters that there is a eld for the observation, and for the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives the charm to an investigation. The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. In these cases, save for one rather intricate matter which has been referred to me from Marseilles, there is nothing which presents any features of interest. It is possible, however, that I may have something better before very many minutes are over, for this is one of my clients, or I am much mistaken.? He had risen from his chair and was standing between the parted blinds gazing down into the dull neutral-tinted London street. Looking over his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement opposite there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa round her neck, and a large curling red feather in a broad-brimmed hat which was tilted in a co- quettish Duchess of Devonshire fashion over her ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up in a nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows, while her body oscillated backward and forward, and her ngers dgeted with her glove buttons. Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer who leaves the bank, she hurried across the road, and we heard the sharp clang of the bell. 151 A Case ofIdentity “I have seen those symptoms before,” said Holmes, throwing his cigarette into the ?re. “Os- cillation upon the pavement always means anaf- faire de coeur. She would like advice, but is not sure that the matter is not too delicate for commu- nication. And yet even here we may discriminate. When a woman has been seriously wronged by a man she no longer oscillates, and the usual symp- tom is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it that there is a love matter, but that the maiden is not so much angry as perplexed, or grieved. But here she comes in person to resolve our doubts.” As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and the boy in buttons entered to announce Miss Mary Sutherland, while the lady herself loomed behind his small black ?gure like a full-sailed merchant- man behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes welcomed her with the easy courtesy for which he was remarkable, and, having closed the door and bowed her into an armchair, he looked her over in the minute and yet abstracted fashion which was peculiar to him. “Do you not ?nd,” he said, “that with your short sight it is a little trying to do so much type- writing?” “I did at ?rst,” she answered, “but now I know where the letters are without looking.” Then, sud- denly realising the full purport of his words, she gave a violent start and looked up, with fear and astonishment upon her broad, good-humoured face. “You’ve heard about me, Mr. Holmes,” she cried, “else how could you know all that?” “Never mind,” said Holmes, laughing; “it is my business to know things. Perhaps I have trained myself to see what others overlook. If not, why should you come to consult me?” “I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from Mrs. Etherege, whose husband you found so easy when the police and everyone had given him up for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish you would do as much for me. I’m not rich, but still I have a hun- dred a year in my own right, besides the little that I make by the machine, and I would give it all to know what has become of Mr. Hosmer Angel.” “Why did you come away to consult me in such a hurry?” asked Sherlock Holmes, with his ?nger- tips together and his eyes to the ceiling. Again a startled look came over the some- what vacuous face of Miss Mary Sutherland. “Yes, I did bang out of the house,” she said, “for it made me angry to see the easy way in which Mr. Windibank—that is, my father—took it all. He would not go to the police, and he would not go to you, and so at last, as he would do nothing and kept on saying that there was no harm done, it made me mad, and I just on with my things and came right away to you.” “Your father,” said Holmes, “your stepfather, surely, since the name is different.” “Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though it sounds funny, too, for he is only ?ve years and two months older than myself.” “And your mother is alive?” “Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn’t best pleased, Mr. Holmes, when she married again so soon after father’s death, and a man who was nearly ?fteen years younger than herself. Father was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road, and he left a tidy business behind him, which mother carried on with Mr. Hardy, the foreman; but when Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the busi- ness, for he was very superior, being a traveller in wines. They got£4700for the goodwill and in- terest, which wasn’t near as much as father could have got if he had been alive.” I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impa- tient under this rambling and inconsequential nar- rative, but, on the contrary, he had listened with the greatest concentration of attention. “Your own little income,” he asked, “does it come out of the business?” “Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left me by my uncle Ned in Auckland. It is in New Zealand stock, paying41 2per cent. Two thousand ?ve hundred pounds was the amount, but I can only touch the interest.” “You interest me extremely,” said Holmes. “And since you draw so large a sum as a hun- dred a year, with what you earn into the bargain, you no doubt travel a little and indulge yourself in every way. I believe that a single lady can get on very nicely upon an income of about£60.” “I could do with much less than that, Mr. Holmes, but you understand that as long as I live at home I don’t wish to be a burden to them, and so they have the use of the money just while I am staying with them. Of course, that is only just for the time. Mr. Windibank draws my interest every quarter and pays it over to mother, and I ?nd that I can do pretty well with what I earn at typewriting. It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do from ?fteen to twenty sheets in a day.” “You have made your position very clear to me,” said Holmes. “This is my friend, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before my- self. Kindly tell us now all about your connection with Mr. Hosmer Angel.” 152 A Case ofIdentity A ?ush stole over Miss Sutherland’s face, and she picked nervously at the fringe of her jacket. “I met him ?rst at the gas?tters’ ball,” she said. “They used to send father tickets when he was alive, and then afterwards they remembered us, and sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not wish us to go. He never did wish us to go any- where. He would get quite mad if I wanted so much as to join a Sunday-school treat. But this time I was set on going, and I would go; for what right had he to prevent? He said the folk were not ?t for us to know, when all father’s friends were to be there. And he said that I had nothing ?t to wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never so much as taken out of the drawer. At last, when nothing else would do, he went off to France upon the business of the ?rm, but we went, mother and I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be our foreman, and it was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel.” “I suppose,” said Holmes, “that when Mr. Windibank came back from France he was very an- noyed at your having gone to the ball.” “Oh, well, he was very good about it. He laughed, I remember, and shrugged his shoulders, and said there was no use denying anything to a woman, for she would have her way.” “I see. Then at the gas?tters’ ball you met, as I understand, a gentleman called Mr. Hosmer An- gel.” “Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called next day to ask if we had got home all safe, and af- ter that we met him—that is to say, Mr. Holmes, I met him twice for walks, but after that father came back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come to the house any more.” “No?” “Well, you know father didn’t like anything of the sort. He wouldn’t have any visitors if he could help it, and he used to say that a woman should be happy in her own family circle. But then, as I used to say to mother, a woman wants her own circle to begin with, and I had not got mine yet.” “But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he make no attempt to see you?” “Well, father was going off to France again in a week, and Hosmer wrote and said that it would be safer and better not to see each other until he had gone. We could write in the meantime, and he used to write every day. I took the letters in in the morning, so there was no need for father to know.” “Were you engaged to the gentleman at this time?” “Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged af- ter the ?rst walk that we took. Hosmer—Mr. Angel—was a cashier in an of?ce in Leadenhall Street—and—” “What of?ce?” “That’s the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don’t know.” “Where did he live, then?” “He slept on the premises.” “And you don’t know his address?” “No—except that it was Leadenhall Street.” “Where did you address your letters, then?” “To the Leadenhall Street Post Of?ce, to be left till called for. He said that if they were sent to the of?ce he would be chaffed by all the other clerks about having letters from a lady, so I of- fered to typewrite them, like he did his, but he wouldn’t have that, for he said that when I wrote them they seemed to come from me, but when they were typewritten he always felt that the ma- chine had come between us. That will just show you how fond he was of me, Mr. Holmes, and the little things that he would think of.” “It was most suggestive,” said Holmes. “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are in?nitely the most important. Can you remem- ber any other little things about Mr. Hosmer An- gel?” “He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He would rather walk with me in the evening than in the daylight, for he said that he hated to be con- spicuous. Very retiring and gentlemanly he was. Even his voice was gentle. He’d had the quinsy and swollen glands when he was young, he told me, and it had left him with a weak throat, and a hesitating, whispering fashion of speech. He was always well dressed, very neat and plain, but his eyes were weak, just as mine are, and he wore tinted glasses against the glare.” “Well, and what happened when Mr. Windibank, your stepfather, returned to France?” “Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again and proposed that we should marry before father came back. He was in dreadful earnest and made me swear, with my hands on the Testament, that whatever happened I would always be true to him. Mother said he was quite right to make me swear, and that it was a sign of his passion. Mother was all in his favour from the ?rst and was even fonder of him than I was. Then, when they talked of mar- rying within the week, I began to ask about fa- ther; but they both said never to mind about fa- ther, but just to tell him afterwards, and mother 153 A Case ofIdentity said she would make it all right with him. I didn’t quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that I should ask his leave, as he was only a few years older than me; but I didn’t want to do anything on the sly, so I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the company has its French of?ces, but the letter came back to me on the very morning of the wedding.” “It missed him, then?” “Yes, sir; for he had started to England just be- fore it arrived.” “Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was arranged, then, for the Friday. Was it to be in church?” “Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. Saviour’s, near King’s Cross, and we were to have breakfast afterwards at the St. Pancras Hotel. Hos- mer came for us in a hansom, but as there were two of us he put us both into it and stepped him- self into a four-wheeler, which happened to be the only other cab in the street. We got to the church ?rst, and when the four-wheeler drove up we waited for him to step out, but he never did, and when the cabman got down from the box and looked there was no one there! The cabman said that he could not imagine what had become of him, for he had seen him get in with his own eyes. That was last Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never seen or heard anything since then to throw any light upon what became of him.” “It seems to me that you have been very shame- fully treated,” said Holmes. “Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to leave me so. Why, all the morning he was saying to me that, whatever happened, I was to be true; and that even if something quite unforeseen occurred to separate us, I was always to remember that I was pledged to him, and that he would claim his pledge sooner or later. It seemed strange talk for a wedding-morning, but what has happened since gives a meaning to it.” “Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, then, that some unforeseen catastrophe has oc- curred to him?” “Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some dan- ger, or else he would not have talked so. And then I think that what he foresaw happened.” “But you have no notion as to what it could have been?” “None.” “One more question. How did your mother take the matter?” “She was angry, and said that I was never to speak of the matter again.” “And your father? Did you tell him?” “Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that something had happened, and that I should hear of Hosmer again. As he said, what interest could anyone have in bringing me to the doors of the church, and then leaving me? Now, if he had bor- rowed my money, or if he had married me and got my money settled on him, there might be some reason, but Hosmer was very independent about money and never would look at a shilling of mine. And yet, what could have happened? And why could he not write? Oh, it drives me half-mad to think of it, and I can’t sleep a wink at night.” She pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff and began to sob heavily into it. “I shall glance into the case for you,” said Holmes, rising, “and I have no doubt that we shall reach some de?nite result. Let the weight of the matter rest upon me now, and do not let your mind dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr. Hos- mer Angel vanish from your memory, as he has done from your life.” “Then you don’t think I’ll see him again?” “I fear not.” “Then what has happened to him?” “You will leave that question in my hands. I should like an accurate description of him and any letters of his which you can spare.” “I advertised for him in last Saturday’sChron- icle,” said she. “Here is the slip and here are four letters from him.” “Thank you. And your address?” “No.31Lyon Place, Camberwell.” “Mr. Angel’s address you never had, I under- stand. Where is your father’s place of business?” “He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the great claret importers of Fenchurch Street.” “Thank you. You have made your statement very clearly. You will leave the papers here, and remember the advice which I have given you. Let the whole incident be a sealed book, and do not allow it to affect your life.” “You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot do that. I shall be true to Hosmer. He shall ?nd me ready when he comes back.” For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous face, there was something noble in the simple faith of our visitor which compelled our respect. She laid her little bundle of papers upon the table and 154 A Case ofIdentity went her way, with a promise to come again when- ever she might be summoned. Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes with his ?ngertips still pressed together, his legs stretched out in front of him, and his gaze directed upward to the ceiling. Then he took down from the rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to him as a counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned back in his chair, with the thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning up from him, and a look of in?nite lan- guor in his face. “Quite an interesting study, that maiden,” he observed. “I found her more interesting than her little problem, which, by the way, is rather a trite one. You will ?nd parallel cases, if you consult my index, in Andover in ’77, and there was something of the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the idea, however, there were one or two details which were new to me. But the maiden herself was most instructive.” “You appeared to read a good deal upon her which was quite invisible to me,” I remarked. “Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did not know where to look, and so you missed all that was important. I can never bring you to re- alise the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang from a boot-lace. Now, what did you gather from that woman’s appearance? Describe it.” “Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad- brimmed straw hat, with a feather of a brickish red. Her jacket was black, with black beads sewn upon it, and a fringe of little black jet ornaments. Her dress was brown, rather darker than coffee colour, with a little purple plush at the neck and sleeves. Her gloves were greyish and were worn through at the right fore?nger. Her boots I didn’t observe. She had small round, hanging gold ear- rings, and a general air of being fairly well-to-do in a vulgar, comfortable, easy-going way.” Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly to- gether and chuckled. “’Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully. You have really done very well in- deed. It is true that you have missed everything of importance, but you have hit upon the method, and you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details. My ?rst glance is always at a woman’s sleeve. In a man it is perhaps bet- ter ?rst to take the knee of the trouser. As you observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves, which is a most useful material for showing traces. The double line a little above the wrist, where the typewritist presses against the table, was beauti- fully de?ned. The sewing-machine, of the hand type, leaves a similar mark, but only on the left arm, and on the side of it farthest from the thumb, instead of being right across the broadest part, as this was. I then glanced at her face, and, observing the dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I ventured a remark upon short sight and typewrit- ing, which seemed to surprise her.” “It surprised me.” “But, surely, it was obvious. I was then much surprised and interested on glancing down to ob- serve that, though the boots which she was wear- ing were not unlike each other, they were really odd ones; the one having a slightly decorated toe- cap, and the other a plain one. One was buttoned only in the two lower buttons out of ?ve, and the other at the ?rst, third, and ?fth. Now, when you see that a young lady, otherwise neatly dressed, has come away from home with odd boots, half- buttoned, it is no great deduction to say that she came away in a hurry.” “And what else?” I asked, keenly interested, as I always was, by my friend’s incisive reasoning. “I noted, in passing, that she had written a note before leaving home but after being fully dressed. You observed that her right glove was torn at the fore?nger, but you did not apparently see that both glove and ?nger were stained with violet ink. She had written in a hurry and dipped her pen too deep. It must have been this morning, or the mark would not remain clear upon the ?nger. All this is amusing, though rather elementary, but I must go back to business, Watson. Would you mind read- ing me the advertised description of Mr. Hosmer Angel?” I held the little printed slip to the light. “Missing,” it said, “on the morning of the fourteenth, a gentleman named Hosmer Angel. About ?ve ft. seven in. in height; strongly built, sallow com- plexion, black hair, a little bald in the centre, bushy, black side-whiskers and moustache; tinted glasses, slight in?r- mity of speech. Was dressed, when last seen, in black frock-coat faced with silk, black waistcoat, gold Albert chain, and grey Harris tweed trousers, with brown gaiters over elastic-sided boots. Known to have been employed in an of?ce in Leadenhall Street. Anybody bringing—” 155 A Case ofIdentity “That will do,” said Holmes. “As to the let- ters,” he continued, glancing over them, “they are very commonplace. Absolutely no clue in them to Mr. Angel, save that he quotes Balzac once. There is one remarkable point, however, which will no doubt strike you.” “They are typewritten,” I remarked. “Not only that, but the signature is typewrit- ten. Look at the neat little ‘Hosmer Angel’ at the bottom. There is a date, you see, but no super- scription except Leadenhall Street, which is rather vague. The point about the signature is very sug- gestive—in fact, we may call it conclusive.” “Of what?” “My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see how strongly it bears upon the case?” “I cannot say that I do unless it were that he wished to be able to deny his signature if an ac- tion for breach of promise were instituted.” “No, that was not the point. However, I shall write two letters, which should settle the matter. One is to a ?rm in the City, the other is to the young lady’s stepfather, Mr. Windibank, asking him whether he could meet us here at six o’clock tomorrow evening. It is just as well that we should do business with the male relatives. And now, Doctor, we can do nothing until the answers to those letters come, so we may put our little prob- lem upon the shelf for the interim.” I had had so many reasons to believe in my friend’s subtle powers of reasoning and extraordi- nary energy in action that I felt that he must have some solid grounds for the assured and easy de- meanour with which he treated the singular mys- tery which he had been called upon to fathom. Once only had I known him to fail, in the case of the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler photo- graph; but when I looked back to the weird busi- ness of the Sign of Four, and the extraordinary cir- cumstances connected with the Study in Scarlet, I felt that it would be a strange tangle indeed which he could not unravel. I left him then, still puf?ng at his black clay pipe, with the conviction that when I came again on the next evening I would ?nd that he held in his hands all the clues which would lead up to the identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss Mary Sutherland. A professional case of great gravity was engag- ing my own attention at the time, and the whole of next day I was busy at the bedside of the sufferer. It was not until close upon six o’clock that I found myself free and was able to spring into a hansom and drive to Baker Street, half afraid that I might be too late to assist at the d´ enouement of the lit- tle mystery. I found Sherlock Holmes alone, how- ever, half asleep, with his long, thin form curled up in the recesses of his armchair. A formidable array of bottles and test-tubes, with the pungent cleanly smell of hydrochloric acid, told me that he had spent his day in the chemical work which was so dear to him. “Well, have you solved it?” I asked as I entered. “Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta.” “No, no, the mystery!” I cried. “Oh, that! I thought of the salt that I have been working upon. There was never any mystery in the matter, though, as I said yesterday, some of the details are of interest. The only drawback is that there is no law, I fear, that can touch the scoundrel.” “Who was he, then, and what was his object in deserting Miss Sutherland?” The question was hardly out of my mouth, and Holmes had not yet opened his lips to reply, when we heard a heavy footfall in the passage and a tap at the door. “This is the girl’s stepfather, Mr. James Windibank,” said Holmes. “He has written to me to say that he would be here at six. Come in!” The man who entered was a sturdy, middle- sized fellow, some thirty years of age, clean- shaven, and sallow-skinned, with a bland, insin- uating manner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp and penetrating grey eyes. He shot a questioning glance at each of us, placed his shiny top-hat upon the sideboard, and with a slight bow sidled down into the nearest chair. “Good-evening, Mr. James Windibank,” said Holmes. “I think that this typewritten letter is from you, in which you made an appointment with me for six o’clock?” “Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I am not quite my own master, you know. I am sorry that Miss Sutherland has troubled you about this little matter, for I think it is far better not to wash linen of the sort in public. It was quite against my wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable, impulsive girl, as you may have noticed, and she is not easily controlled when she has made up her mind on a point. Of course, I did not mind you so much, as you are not connected with the of?- cial police, but it is not pleasant to have a family misfortune like this noised abroad. Besides, it is a useless expense, for how could you possibly ?nd this Hosmer Angel?” 156 A Case ofIdentity “On the contrary,” said Holmes quietly; “I have every reason to believe that I will succeed in dis- covering Mr. Hosmer Angel.” Mr. Windibank gave a violent start and dropped his gloves. “I am delighted to hear it,” he said. “It is a curious thing,” remarked Holmes, “that a typewriter has really quite as much individual- ity as a man’s handwriting. Unless they are quite new, no two of them write exactly alike. Some let- ters get more worn than others, and some wear only on one side. Now, you remark in this note of yours, Mr. Windibank, that in every case there is some little slurring over of the ‘e,’ and a slight defect in the tail of the ‘r.’ There are fourteen other characteristics, but those are the more obvious.” “We do all our correspondence with this ma- chine at the of?ce, and no doubt it is a little worn,” our visitor answered, glancing keenly at Holmes with his bright little eyes. “And now I will show you what is really a very interesting study, Mr. Windibank,” Holmes contin- ued. “I think of writing another little monograph some of these days on the typewriter and its rela- tion to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted some little attention. I have here four letters which purport to come from the missing man. They are all typewritten. In each case, not only are the ‘e’s’ slurred and the ‘r’s’ tailless, but you will observe, if you care to use my magnifying lens, that the fourteen other characteristics to which I have al- luded are there as well.” Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair and picked up his hat. “I cannot waste time over this sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes,” he said. “If you can catch the man, catch him, and let me know when you have done it.” “Certainly,” said Holmes, stepping over and turning the key in the door. “I let you know, then, that I have caught him!” “What! where?” shouted Mr. Windibank, turn- ing white to his lips and glancing about him like a rat in a trap. “Oh, it won’t do—really it won’t,” said Holmes suavely. “There is no possible getting out of it, Mr. Windibank. It is quite too transparent, and it was a very bad compliment when you said that it was impossible for me to solve so simple a question. That’s right! Sit down and let us talk it over.” Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a ghastly face and a glitter of moisture on his brow. “It—it’s not actionable,” he stammered. “I am very much afraid that it is not. But be- tween ourselves, Windibank, it was as cruel and sel?sh and heartless a trick in a petty way as ever came before me. Now, let me just run over the course of events, and you will contradict me if I go wrong.” The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his head sunk upon his breast, like one who is utterly crushed. Holmes stuck his feet up on the corner of the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his hands in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as it seemed, than to us. “The man married a woman very much older than himself for her money,” said he, “and he en- joyed the use of the money of the daughter as long as she lived with them. It was a consid- erable sum, for people in their position, and the loss of it would have made a serious difference. It was worth an effort to preserve it. The daughter was of a good, amiable disposition, but affection- ate and warm-hearted in her ways, so that it was evident that with her fair personal advantages, and her little income, she would not be allowed to re- main single long. Now her marriage would mean, of course, the loss of a hundred a year, so what does her stepfather do to prevent it? He takes the obvious course of keeping her at home and forbidding her to seek the company of people of her own age. But soon he found that that would not answer forever. She became restive, insisted upon her rights, and ?nally announced her posi- tive intention of going to a certain ball. What does her clever stepfather do then? He conceives an idea more creditable to his head than to his heart. With the connivance and assistance of his wife he disguised himself, covered those keen eyes with tinted glasses, masked the face with a moustache and a pair of bushy whiskers, sunk that clear voice into an insinuating whisper, and doubly secure on account of the girl’s short sight, he appears as Mr. Hosmer Angel, and keeps off other lovers by mak- ing love himself.” “It was only a joke at ?rst,” groaned our visi- tor. “We never thought that she would have been so carried away.” “Very likely not. However that may be, the young lady was very decidedly carried away, and, having quite made up her mind that her step- father was in France, the suspicion of treachery never for an instant entered her mind. She was ?attered by the gentleman’s attentions, and the effect was increased by the loudly expressed ad- miration of her mother. Then Mr. Angel began to call, for it was obvious that the matter should 157 be pushed as far as it would go if a real effect were to be produced. There were meetings, and an engagement, which would ?nally secure the girl’s affections from turning towards anyone else. But the deception could not be kept up forever. These pretended journeys to France were rather cumbrous. The thing to do was clearly to bring the business to an end in such a dramatic manner that it would leave a permanent impression upon the young lady’s mind and prevent her from look- ing upon any other suitor for some time to come. Hence those vows of ?delity exacted upon a Tes- tament, and hence also the allusions to a possibil- ity of something happening on the very morning of the wedding. James Windibank wished Miss Sutherland to be so bound to Hosmer Angel, and so uncertain as to his fate, that for ten years to come, at any rate, she would not listen to another man. As far as the church door he brought her, and then, as he could go no farther, he conve- niently vanished away by the old trick of stepping in at one door of a four-wheeler and out at the other. I think that was the chain of events, Mr. Windibank!” Our visitor had recovered something of his as- surance while Holmes had been talking, and he rose from his chair now with a cold sneer upon his pale face. “It may be so, or it may not, Mr. Holmes,” said he, “but if you are so very sharp you ought to be sharp enough to know that it is you who are break- ing the law now, and not me. I have done nothing actionable from the ?rst, but as long as you keep that door locked you lay yourself open to an action for assault and illegal constraint.” “The law cannot, as you say, touch you,” said Holmes, unlocking and throwing open the door, “yet there never was a man who deserved punish- ment more. If the young lady has a brother or a friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoul- ders. By Jove!” he continued, ?ushing up at the sight of the bitter sneer upon the man’s face, “it is not part of my duties to my client, but here’s a hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat myself to—” He took two swift steps to the whip, but before he could grasp it there was a wild clat- ter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy hall door banged, and from the window we could see Mr. James Windibank running at the top of his speed down the road. “There’s a cold-blooded scoundrel!” said Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down into his chair once more. “That fellow will rise from crime to crime until he does something very bad, and ends on a gallows. The case has, in some re- spects, been not entirely devoid of interest.” “I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your reasoning,” I remarked. “Well, of course it was obvious from the ?rst that this Mr. Hosmer Angel must have some strong object for his curious conduct, and it was equally clear that the only man who really pro?ted by the incident, as far as we could see, was the stepfa- ther. Then the fact that the two men were never together, but that the one always appeared when the other was away, was suggestive. So were the tinted spectacles and the curious voice, which both hinted at a disguise, as did the bushy whiskers. My suspicions were all con?rmed by his pecu- liar action in typewriting his signature, which, of course, inferred that his handwriting was so famil- iar to her that she would recognise even the small- est sample of it. You see all these isolated facts, together with many minor ones, all pointed in the same direction.” “And how did you verify them?” “Having once spotted my man, it was easy to get corroboration. I knew the ?rm for which this man worked. Having taken the printed de- scription. I eliminated everything from it which could be the result of a disguise—the whiskers, the glasses, the voice, and I sent it to the ?rm, with a request that they would inform me whether it answered to the description of any of their trav- ellers. I had already noticed the peculiarities of the typewriter, and I wrote to the man himself at his business address asking him if he would come here. As I expected, his reply was typewritten and revealed the same trivial but characteristic defects. The same post brought me a letter from Westhouse & Marbank, of Fenchurch Street, to say that the de- scription tallied in every respect with that of their employee, James Windibank. Voil` a tout!” “And Miss Sutherland?” “If I tell her she will not believe me. You may remember the old Persian saying, ‘There is dan- ger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.’ There is as much sense in Ha?z as in Horace, and as much knowledge of the world.” The Boscombe Valley Mystery TheBoscombeValleyMystery We were seatedat breakfast one morn- ing, my wife and I, when the maid brought in a telegram. It was from Sherlock Holmes and ran in this way: ?Have you a couple of days to spare? Have just been wired for from the west of England in connection with Boscombe Valley tragedy. Shall be glad if you will come with me. Air and scenery perfect. Leave Paddington by the11.15.? ?What do you say, dear?? said my wife, looking across at me. ?Will you go?? ?I really don’t know what to say. I have a fairly long list at present.? ?Oh, Anstruther would do your work for you. You have been looking a little pale lately. I think that the change would do you good, and you are always so interested in Mr. Sherlock Holmes’ cases.? ?I should be ungrateful if I were not, seeing what I gained through one of them,? I answered. ?But if I am to go, I must pack at once, for I have only half an hour.? My experience of camp life in Afghanistan had at least had the effect of making me a prompt and ready traveller. My wants were few and sim- ple, so that in less than the time stated I was in a cab with my valise, rattling away to Padding- ton Station. Sherlock Holmes was pacing up and down the platform, his tall, gaunt gure made even gaunter and taller by his long grey travelling- cloak and close-tting cloth cap. ?It is really very good of you to come, Wat- son,? said he. ?It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either worth- less or else biassed. If you will keep the two corner seats I shall get the tickets.? We had the carriage to ourselves save for an im- mense litter of papers which Holmes had brought with him. Among these he rummaged and read, with intervals of note-taking and of meditation, until we were past Reading. Then he suddenly rolled them all into a gigantic ball and tossed them up onto the rack. ?Have you heard anything of the case?? he asked. ?Not a word. I have not seen a paper for some days.? ?The London press has not had very full ac- counts. I have just been looking through all the recent papers in order to master the particulars. It seems, from what I gather, to be one of those sim- ple cases which are so extremely difcult.? ?That sounds a little paradoxical.? ?But it is profoundly true. Singularity is al- most invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difcult it is to bring it home. In this case, however, they have es- tablished a very serious case against the son of the murdered man.? ?It is a murder, then?? ?Well, it is conjectured to be so. I shall take nothing for granted until I have the opportunity of looking personally into it. I will explain the state of things to you, as far as I have been able to un- derstand it, in a very few words. ?Boscombe Valley is a country district not very far from Ross, in Herefordshire. The largest landed proprietor in that part is a Mr. John Turner, who made his money in Australia and returned some years ago to the old country. One of the farms which he held, that of Hatherley, was let to Mr. Charles McCarthy, who was also an ex- Australian. The men had known each other in the colonies, so that it was not unnatural that when they came to settle down they should do so as near each other as possible. Turner was apparently the richer man, so McCarthy became his tenant but still remained, it seems, upon terms of per- fect equality, as they were frequently together. Mc- Carthy had one son, a lad of eighteen, and Turner had an only daughter of the same age, but nei- ther of them had wives living. They appear to have avoided the society of the neighbouring En- glish families and to have led retired lives, though both the McCarthys were fond of sport and were frequently seen at the race-meetings of the neigh- bourhood. McCarthy kept two servants?a man and a girl. Turner had a considerable household, some half-dozen at the least. That is as much as I have been able to gather about the families. Now for the facts. ?On June3rd, that is, on Monday last, Mc- Carthy left his house at Hatherley about three in the afternoon and walked down to the Boscombe Pool, which is a small lake formed by the spread- ing out of the stream which runs down the Boscombe Valley. He had been out with his serving-man in the morning at Ross, and he had told the man that he must hurry, as he had an ap- pointment of importance to keep at three. From that appointment he never came back alive. ?From Hatherley Farm-house to the Boscombe Pool is a quarter of a mile, and two people saw 161 TheBoscombeValleyMystery him as he passed over this ground. One was an old woman, whose name is not mentioned, and the other was William Crowder, a game-keeper in the employ of Mr. Turner. Both these witnesses depose that Mr. McCarthy was walking alone. The game-keeper adds that within a few minutes of his seeing Mr. McCarthy pass he had seen his son, Mr. James McCarthy, going the same way with a gun under his arm. To the best of his belief, the father was actually in sight at the time, and the son was following him. He thought no more of the matter until he heard in the evening of the tragedy that had occurred. “The two McCarthys were seen after the time when William Crowder, the game-keeper, lost sight of them. The Boscombe Pool is thickly wooded round, with just a fringe of grass and of reeds round the edge. A girl of fourteen, Patience Moran, who is the daughter of the lodge-keeper of the Boscombe Valley estate, was in one of the woods picking ?owers. She states that while she was there she saw, at the border of the wood and close by the lake, Mr. McCarthy and his son, and that they appeared to be having a violent quar- rel. She heard Mr. McCarthy the elder using very strong language to his son, and she saw the lat- ter raise up his hand as if to strike his father. She was so frightened by their violence that she ran away and told her mother when she reached home that she had left the two McCarthys quarrelling near Boscombe Pool, and that she was afraid that they were going to ?ght. She had hardly said the words when young Mr. McCarthy came running up to the lodge to say that he had found his fa- ther dead in the wood, and to ask for the help of the lodge-keeper. He was much excited, with- out either his gun or his hat, and his right hand and sleeve were observed to be stained with fresh blood. On following him they found the dead body stretched out upon the grass beside the pool. The head had been beaten in by repeated blows of some heavy and blunt weapon. The injuries were such as might very well have been in?icted by the butt-end of his son’s gun, which was found lying on the grass within a few paces of the body. Under these circumstances the young man was instantly arrested, and a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ having been returned at the inquest on Tuesday, he was on Wednesday brought before the magistrates at Ross, who have referred the case to the next As- sizes. Those are the main facts of the case as they came out before the coroner and the police-court.” “I could hardly imagine a more damning case,” I remarked. “If ever circumstantial evidence pointed to a criminal it does so here.” “Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing,” answered Holmes thoughtfully. “It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may ?nd it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different. It must be con- fessed, however, that the case looks exceedingly grave against the young man, and it is very pos- sible that he is indeed the culprit. There are sev- eral people in the neighbourhood, however, and among them Miss Turner, the daughter of the neighbouring landowner, who believe in his inno- cence, and who have retained Lestrade, whom you may recollect in connection with the Study in Scar- let, to work out the case in his interest. Lestrade, being rather puzzled, has referred the case to me, and hence it is that two middle-aged gentlemen are ?ying westward at ?fty miles an hour instead of quietly digesting their breakfasts at home.” “I am afraid,” said I, “that the facts are so obvi- ous that you will ?nd little credit to be gained out of this case.” “There is nothing more deceptive than an ob- vious fact,” he answered, laughing. “Besides, we may chance to hit upon some other obvious facts which may have been by no means obvious to Mr. Lestrade. You know me too well to think that I am boasting when I say that I shall either con?rm or destroy his theory by means which he is quite incapable of employing, or even of understanding. To take the ?rst example to hand, I very clearly perceive that in your bedroom the window is upon the right-hand side, and yet I question whether Mr. Lestrade would have noted even so self-evident a thing as that.” “How on earth—” “My dear fellow, I know you well. I know the military neatness which characterises you. You shave every morning, and in this season you shave by the sunlight; but since your shaving is less and less complete as we get farther back on the left side, until it becomes positively slovenly as we get round the angle of the jaw, it is surely very clear that that side is less illuminated than the other. I could not imagine a man of your habits looking at himself in an equal light and being satis?ed with such a result. I only quote this as a trivial ex- ample of observation and inference. Therein lies mym´ etier, and it is just possible that it may be of some service in the investigation which lies before us. There are one or two minor points which were brought out in the inquest, and which are worth considering.” “What are they?” 162 TheBoscombeValleyMystery “It appears that his arrest did not take place at once, but after the return to Hatherley Farm. On the inspector of constabulary informing him that he was a prisoner, he remarked that he was not surprised to hear it, and that it was no more than his deserts. This observation of his had the nat- ural effect of removing any traces of doubt which might have remained in the minds of the coroner’s jury.” “It was a confession,” I ejaculated. “No, for it was followed by a protestation of innocence.” “Coming on the top of such a damning series of events, it was at least a most suspicious remark.” “On the contrary,” said Holmes, “it is the brightest rift which I can at present see in the clouds. However innocent he might be, he could not be such an absolute imbecile as not to see that the circumstances were very black against him. Had he appeared surprised at his own arrest, or feigned indignation at it, I should have looked upon it as highly suspicious, because such sur- prise or anger would not be natural under the cir- cumstances, and yet might appear to be the best policy to a scheming man. His frank acceptance of the situation marks him as either an innocent man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint and ?rmness. As to his remark about his deserts, it was also not unnatural if you consider that he stood beside the dead body of his father, and that there is no doubt that he had that very day so far forgotten his ?lial duty as to bandy words with him, and even, according to the little girl whose evidence is so important, to raise his hand as if to strike him. The self-reproach and contrition which are displayed in his remark appear to me to be the signs of a healthy mind rather than of a guilty one.” I shook my head. “Many men have been hanged on far slighter evidence,” I remarked. “So they have. And many men have been wrongfully hanged.” “What is the young man’s own account of the matter?” “It is, I am afraid, not very encouraging to his supporters, though there are one or two points in it which are suggestive. You will ?nd it here, and may read it for yourself.” He picked out from his bundle a copy of the lo- cal Herefordshire paper, and having turned down the sheet he pointed out the paragraph in which the unfortunate young man had given his own statement of what had occurred. I settled myself down in the corner of the carriage and read it very carefully. It ran in this way:“Mr. James McCarthy, the only son of the deceased, was then called and gave evidence as follows: ‘I had been away from home for three days at Bristol, and had only just re- turned upon the morning of last Monday, the3rd. My father was absent from home at the time of my arrival, and I was informed by the maid that he had driven over to Ross with John Cobb, the groom. Shortly after my return I heard the wheels of his trap in the yard, and, looking out of my win- dow, I saw him get out and walk rapidly out of the yard, though I was not aware in which direction he was going. I then took my gun and strolled out in the direction of the Boscombe Pool, with the intention of visiting the rabbit warren which is upon the other side. On my way I saw William Crowder, the game-keeper, as he had stated in his evidence; but he is mistaken in think- ing that I was following my father. I had no idea that he was in front of me. When about a hundred yards from the pool I heard a cry of “Cooee!” which was a usual signal between my father and myself. I then hur- ried forward, and found him standing by the pool. He appeared to be much surprised at seeing me and asked me rather roughly what I was doing there. A conversation en- sued which led to high words and almost to blows, for my father was a man of a very violent temper. Seeing that his passion was becoming ungovernable, I left him and re- turned towards Hatherley Farm. I had not gone more than150yards, however, when I heard a hideous outcry behind me, which caused me to run back again. I found my father expiring upon the ground, with his head terribly injured. I dropped my gun and held him in my arms, but he almost instantly expired. I knelt beside him for some minutes, and then made my way to Mr. Turner’s lodge-keeper, his house being the nearest, to ask for assistance. I saw no one near my father when I returned, and I have no idea how he came by his injuries. He was not a popular man, being somewhat cold and forbidding in his manners, but he had, as far as I know, no active enemies. I know nothing further of the matter.’ “The Coroner: Did your father make any statement to you before he died? “Witness: He mumbled a few words, but I 163 TheBoscombeValleyMystery could only catch some allusion to a rat. “The Coroner: What did you understand by that? “Witness: It conveyed no meaning to me. I thought that he was delirious. “The Coroner: What was the point upon which you and your father had this ?nal quarrel? “Witness: I should prefer not to answer. “The Coroner: I am afraid that I must press it. “Witness: It is really impossible for me to tell you. I can assure you that it has noth- ing to do with the sad tragedy which fol- lowed. “The Coroner: That is for the court to de- cide. I need not point out to you that your refusal to answer will prejudice your case considerably in any future proceedings which may arise. “Witness: I must still refuse. “The Coroner: I understand that the cry of ‘Cooee’ was a common signal between you and your father? “Witness: It was. “The Coroner: How was it, then, that he uttered it before he saw you, and before he even knew that you had returned from Bris- tol? “Witness (with considerable confusion): I do not know. “A Juryman: Did you see nothing which aroused your suspicions when you returned on hearing the cry and found your father fatally injured? “Witness: Nothing de?nite. “The Coroner: What do you mean? “Witness: I was so disturbed and excited as I rushed out into the open, that I could think of nothing except of my father. Yet I have a vague impression that as I ran for- ward something lay upon the ground to the left of me. It seemed to me to be something grey in colour, a coat of some sort, or a plaid perhaps. When I rose from my father I looked round for it, but it was gone. “ ‘Do you mean that it disappeared before you went for help?’ “ ‘Yes, it was gone.’ “ ‘You cannot say what it was?’ “ ‘No, I had a feeling something was there.’ “ ‘How far from the body?’ “ ‘A dozen yards or so.’ “ ‘And how far from the edge of the wood?’ “ ‘About the same.’ “ ‘Then if it was removed it was while you were within a dozen yards of it?’ “ ‘Yes, but with my back towards it.’ “This concluded the examination of the witness.”“I see,” said I as I glanced down the column, “that the coroner in his concluding remarks was rather severe upon young McCarthy. He calls attention, and with reason, to the discrepancy about his fa- ther having signalled to him before seeing him, also to his refusal to give details of his conversa- tion with his father, and his singular account of his father’s dying words. They are all, as he remarks, very much against the son.” Holmes laughed softly to himself and stretched himself out upon the cushioned seat. “Both you and the coroner have been at some pains,” said he, “to single out the very strongest points in the young man’s favour. Don’t you see that you alter- nately give him credit for having too much imagi- nation and too little? Too little, if he could not in- vent a cause of quarrel which would give him the sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from his own inner consciousness anything so outr ´ e as a dying reference to a rat, and the incident of the vanishing cloth. No, sir, I shall approach this case from the point of view that what this young man says is true, and we shall see whither that hypoth- esis will lead us. And now here is my pocket Pe- trarch, and not another word shall I say of this case until we are on the scene of action. We lunch at Swindon, and I see that we shall be there in twenty minutes.” It was nearly four o’clock when we at last, af- ter passing through the beautiful Stroud Valley, and over the broad gleaming Severn, found our- selves at the pretty little country-town of Ross. A lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was waiting for us upon the platform. In spite of the light brown dustcoat and leather-leggings which he wore in deference to his rustic surroundings, I had no dif?culty in recognising Lestrade, of Scot- land Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford Arms where a room had already been engaged for us. “I have ordered a carriage,” said Lestrade as we sat over a cup of tea. “I knew your energetic na- ture, and that you would not be happy until you had been on the scene of the crime.” “It was very nice and complimentary of you,” Holmes answered. “It is entirely a question of barometric pressure.” 164 TheBoscombeValleyMystery Lestrade looked startled. “I do not quite fol- low,” he said. “How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No wind, and not a cloud in the sky. I have a case- ful of cigarettes here which need smoking, and the sofa is very much superior to the usual country ho- tel abomination. I do not think that it is probable that I shall use the carriage to-night.” Lestrade laughed indulgently. “You have, no doubt, already formed your conclusions from the newspapers,” he said. “The case is as plain as a pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the plainer it becomes. Still, of course, one can’t refuse a lady, and such a very positive one, too. She has heard of you, and would have your opinion, though I repeatedly told her that there was nothing which you could do which I had not already done. Why, bless my soul! here is her carriage at the door.” He had hardly spoken before there rushed into the room one of the most lovely young women that I have ever seen in my life. Her violet eyes shining, her lips parted, a pink ?ush upon her cheeks, all thought of her natural reserve lost in her overpow- ering excitement and concern. “Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!” she cried, glanc- ing from one to the other of us, and ?nally, with a woman’s quick intuition, fastening upon my com- panion, “I am so glad that you have come. I have driven down to tell you so. I know that James didn’t do it. I know it, and I want you to start upon your work knowing it, too. Never let your- self doubt upon that point. We have known each other since we were little children, and I know his faults as no one else does; but he is too tender- hearted to hurt a ?y. Such a charge is absurd to anyone who really knows him.” “I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner,” said Sherlock Holmes. “You may rely upon my doing all that I can.” “But you have read the evidence. You have formed some conclusion? Do you not see some loophole, some ?aw? Do you not yourself think that he is innocent?” “I think that it is very probable.” “There, now!” she cried, throwing back her head and looking de?antly at Lestrade. “You hear! He gives me hopes.” Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. “I am afraid that my colleague has been a little quick in form- ing his conclusions,” he said. “But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right. James never did it. And about his quarrel with his father, I am sure that the reason why he would not speak about it to the coroner was because I was concerned in it.” “In what way?” asked Holmes. “It is no time for me to hide anything. James and his father had many disagreements about me. Mr. McCarthy was very anxious that there should be a marriage between us. James and I have al- ways loved each other as brother and sister; but of course he is young and has seen very little of life yet, and—and—well, he naturally did not wish to do anything like that yet. So there were quarrels, and this, I am sure, was one of them.” “And your father?” asked Holmes. “Was he in favour of such a union?” “No, he was averse to it also. No one but Mr. McCarthy was in favour of it.” A quick blush passed over her fresh young face as Holmes shot one of his keen, questioning glances at her. “Thank you for this information,” said he. “May I see your father if I call to-morrow?” “I am afraid the doctor won’t allow it.” “The doctor?” “Yes, have you not heard? Poor father has never been strong for years back, but this has bro- ken him down completely. He has taken to his bed, and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck and that his nervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was the only man alive who had known dad in the old days in Victoria.” “Ha! In Victoria! That is important.” “Yes, at the mines.” “Quite so; at the gold-mines, where, as I under- stand, Mr. Turner made his money.” “Yes, certainly.” “Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of material assistance to me.” “You will tell me if you have any news to- morrow. No doubt you will go to the prison to see James. Oh, if you do, Mr. Holmes, do tell him that I know him to be innocent.” “I will, Miss Turner.” “I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and he misses me so if I leave him. Good-bye, and God help you in your undertaking.” She hurried from the room as impulsively as she had entered, and we heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off down the street. “I am ashamed of you, Holmes,” said Lestrade with dignity after a few minutes’ silence. “Why should you raise up hopes which you are bound to disappoint? I am not over-tender of heart, but I call it cruel.” 165 TheBoscombeValleyMystery “I think that I see my way to clearing James McCarthy,” said Holmes. “Have you an order to see him in prison?” “Yes, but only for you and me.” “Then I shall reconsider my resolution about going out. We have still time to take a train to Hereford and see him to-night?” “Ample.” “Then let us do so. Watson, I fear that you will ?nd it very slow, but I shall only be away a couple of hours.” I walked down to the station with them, and then wandered through the streets of the little town, ?nally returning to the hotel, where I lay upon the sofa and tried to interest myself in a yellow-backed novel. The puny plot of the story was so thin, however, when compared to the deep mystery through which we were groping, and I found my attention wander so continually from the action to the fact, that I at last ?ung it across the room and gave myself up entirely to a considera- tion of the events of the day. Supposing that this unhappy young man’s story were absolutely true, then what hellish thing, what absolutely unfore- seen and extraordinary calamity could have oc- curred between the time when he parted from his father, and the moment when, drawn back by his screams, he rushed into the glade? It was some- thing terrible and deadly. What could it be? Might not the nature of the injuries reveal something to my medical instincts? I rang the bell and called for the weekly county paper, which contained a verbatim account of the inquest. In the surgeon’s deposition it was stated that the posterior third of the left parietal bone and the left half of the occip- ital bone had been shattered by a heavy blow from a blunt weapon. I marked the spot upon my own head. Clearly such a blow must have been struck from behind. That was to some extent in favour of the accused, as when seen quarrelling he was face to face with his father. Still, it did not go for very much, for the older man might have turned his back before the blow fell. Still, it might be worth while to call Holmes’ attention to it. Then there was the peculiar dying reference to a rat. What could that mean? It could not be delirium. A man dying from a sudden blow does not commonly be- come delirious. No, it was more likely to be an attempt to explain how he met his fate. But what could it indicate? I cudgelled my brains to ?nd some possible explanation. And then the incident of the grey cloth seen by young McCarthy. If that were true the murderer must have dropped some part of his dress, presumably his overcoat, in his ?ight, and must have had the hardihood to return and to carry it away at the instant when the son was kneeling with his back turned not a dozen paces off. What a tissue of mysteries and improb- abilities the whole thing was! I did not wonder at Lestrade’s opinion, and yet I had so much faith in Sherlock Holmes’ insight that I could not lose hope as long as every fresh fact seemed to strengthen his conviction of young McCarthy’s innocence. It was late before Sherlock Holmes returned. He came back alone, for Lestrade was staying in lodgings in the town. “The glass still keeps very high,” he remarked as he sat down. “It is of importance that it should not rain before we are able to go over the ground. On the other hand, a man should be at his very best and keenest for such nice work as that, and I did not wish to do it when fagged by a long jour- ney. I have seen young McCarthy.” “And what did you learn from him?” “Nothing.” “Could he throw no light?” “None at all. I was inclined to think at one time that he knew who had done it and was screen- ing him or her, but I am convinced now that he is as puzzled as everyone else. He is not a very quick-witted youth, though comely to look at and, I should think, sound at heart.” “I cannot admire his taste,” I remarked, “if it is indeed a fact that he was averse to a marriage with so charming a young lady as this Miss Turner.” “Ah, thereby hangs a rather painful tale. This fellow is madly, insanely, in love with her, but some two years ago, when he was only a lad, and before he really knew her, for she had been away ?ve years at a boarding-school, what does the idiot do but get into the clutches of a barmaid in Bristol and marry her at a registry of?ce? No one knows a word of the matter, but you can imagine how mad- dening it must be to him to be upbraided for not doing what he would give his very eyes to do, but what he knows to be absolutely impossible. It was sheer frenzy of this sort which made him throw his hands up into the air when his father, at their last interview, was goading him on to propose to Miss Turner. On the other hand, he had no means of supporting himself, and his father, who was by all accounts a very hard man, would have thrown him over utterly had he known the truth. It was with his barmaid wife that he had spent the last three days in Bristol, and his father did not know where he was. Mark that point. It is of impor- tance. Good has come out of evil, however, for the 166 TheBoscombeValleyMystery barmaid, ?nding from the papers that he is in se- rious trouble and likely to be hanged, has thrown him over utterly and has written to him to say that she has a husband already in the Bermuda Dock- yard, so that there is really no tie between them. I think that that bit of news has consoled young McCarthy for all that he has suffered.” “But if he is innocent, who has done it?” “Ah! who? I would call your attention very particularly to two points. One is that the mur- dered man had an appointment with someone at the pool, and that the someone could not have been his son, for his son was away, and he did not know when he would return. The second is that the murdered man was heard to cry ‘Cooee!’ be- fore he knew that his son had returned. Those are the crucial points upon which the case depends. And now let us talk about George Meredith, if you please, and we shall leave all minor matters until to-morrow.” There was no rain, as Holmes had foretold, and the morning broke bright and cloudless. At nine o’clock Lestrade called for us with the car- riage, and we set off for Hatherley Farm and the Boscombe Pool. “There is serious news this morning,” Lestrade observed. “It is said that Mr. Turner, of the Hall, is so ill that his life is despaired of.” “An elderly man, I presume?” said Holmes. “About sixty; but his constitution has been shattered by his life abroad, and he has been in failing health for some time. This business has had a very bad effect upon him. He was an old friend of McCarthy’s, and, I may add, a great benefactor to him, for I have learned that he gave him Hather- ley Farm rent free.” “Indeed! That is interesting,” said Holmes. “Oh, yes! In a hundred other ways he has helped him. Everybody about here speaks of his kindness to him.” “Really! Does it not strike you as a little singu- lar that this McCarthy, who appears to have had little of his own, and to have been under such obligations to Turner, should still talk of marry- ing his son to Turner’s daughter, who is, presum- ably, heiress to the estate, and that in such a very cocksure manner, as if it were merely a case of a proposal and all else would follow? It is the more strange, since we know that Turner himself was averse to the idea. The daughter told us as much. Do you not deduce something from that?” “We have got to the deductions and the infer- ences,” said Lestrade, winking at me. “I ?nd it hard enough to tackle facts, Holmes, without ?y- ing away after theories and fancies.” “You are right,” said Holmes demurely; “you do ?nd it very hard to tackle the facts.” “Anyhow, I have grasped one fact which you seem to ?nd it dif?cult to get hold of,” replied Lestrade with some warmth. “And that is—” “That McCarthy senior met his death from Mc- Carthy junior and that all theories to the contrary are the merest moonshine.” “Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog,” said Holmes, laughing. “But I am very much mis- taken if this is not Hatherley Farm upon the left.” “Yes, that is it.” It was a widespread, comfortable-looking building, two-storied, slate- roofed, with great yellow blotches of lichen upon the grey walls. The drawn blinds and the smoke- less chimneys, however, gave it a stricken look, as though the weight of this horror still lay heavy upon it. We called at the door, when the maid, at Holmes’ request, showed us the boots which her master wore at the time of his death, and also a pair of the son’s, though not the pair which he had then had. Having measured these very carefully from seven or eight different points, Holmes de- sired to be led to the court-yard, from which we all followed the winding track which led to Boscombe Pool. Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such a scent as this. Men who had only known the quiet thinker and logician of Baker Street would have failed to recognise him. His face ?ushed and darkened. His brows were drawn into two hard black lines, while his eyes shone out from beneath them with a steely glit- ter. His face was bent downward, his shoulders bowed, his lips compressed, and the veins stood out like whipcord in his long, sinewy neck. His nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal lust for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely con- centrated upon the matter before him that a ques- tion or remark fell unheeded upon his ears, or, at the most, only provoked a quick, impatient snarl in reply. Swiftly and silently he made his way along the track which ran through the meadows, and so by way of the woods to the Boscombe Pool. It was damp, marshy ground, as is all that district, and there were marks of many feet, both upon the path and amid the short grass which bounded it on either side. Sometimes Holmes would hurry on, sometimes stop dead, and once he made quite a little detour into the meadow. Lestrade and I 167 TheBoscombeValleyMystery walked behind him, the detective indifferent and contemptuous, while I watched my friend with the interest which sprang from the conviction that ev- ery one of his actions was directed towards a de?- nite end. The Boscombe Pool, which is a little reed-girt sheet of water some ?fty yards across, is situ- ated at the boundary between the Hatherley Farm and the private park of the wealthy Mr. Turner. Above the woods which lined it upon the farther side we could see the red, jutting pinnacles which marked the site of the rich landowner’s dwelling. On the Hatherley side of the pool the woods grew very thick, and there was a narrow belt of sodden grass twenty paces across between the edge of the trees and the reeds which lined the lake. Lestrade showed us the exact spot at which the body had been found, and, indeed, so moist was the ground, that I could plainly see the traces which had been left by the fall of the stricken man. To Holmes, as I could see by his eager face and peering eyes, very many other things were to be read upon the trampled grass. He ran round, like a dog who is picking up a scent, and then turned upon my com- panion. “What did you go into the pool for?” he asked. “I ?shed about with a rake. I thought there might be some weapon or other trace. But how on earth—” “Oh, tut, tut! I have no time! That left foot of yours with its inward twist is all over the place. A mole could trace it, and there it vanishes among the reeds. Oh, how simple it would all have been had I been here before they came like a herd of buffalo and wallowed all over it. Here is where the party with the lodge-keeper came, and they have covered all tracks for six or eight feet round the body. But here are three separate tracks of the same feet.” He drew out a lens and lay down upon his waterproof to have a better view, talking all the time rather to himself than to us. “These are young McCarthy’s feet. Twice he was walking, and once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are deeply marked and the heels hardly visible. That bears out his story. He ran when he saw his father on the ground. Then here are the father’s feet as he paced up and down. What is this, then? It is the butt-end of the gun as the son stood listening. And this? Ha, ha! What have we here? Tiptoes! tiptoes! Square, too, quite unusual boots! They come, they go, they come again—of course that was for the cloak. Now where did they come from?” He ran up and down, sometimes losing, sometimes ?nd- ing the track until we were well within the edge of the wood and under the shadow of a great beech, the largest tree in the neighbourhood. Holmes traced his way to the farther side of this and lay down once more upon his face with a little cry of satisfaction. For a long time he remained there, turning over the leaves and dried sticks, gathering up what seemed to me to be dust into an envelope and examining with his lens not only the ground but even the bark of the tree as far as he could reach. A jagged stone was lying among the moss, and this also he carefully examined and retained. Then he followed a pathway through the wood un- til he came to the highroad, where all traces were lost. “It has been a case of considerable interest,” he remarked, returning to his natural manner. “I fancy that this grey house on the right must be the lodge. I think that I will go in and have a word with Moran, and perhaps write a little note. Hav- ing done that, we may drive back to our luncheon. You may walk to the cab, and I shall be with you presently.” It was about ten minutes before we regained our cab and drove back into Ross, Holmes still car- rying with him the stone which he had picked up in the wood. “This may interest you, Lestrade,” he re- marked, holding it out. “The murder was done with it.” “I see no marks.” “There are none.” “How do you know, then?” “The grass was growing under it. It had only lain there a few days. There was no sign of a place whence it had been taken. It corresponds with the injuries. There is no sign of any other weapon.” “And the murderer?” “Is a tall man, left-handed, limps with the right leg, wears thick-soled shooting-boots and a grey cloak, smokes Indian cigars, uses a cigar-holder, and carries a blunt pen-knife in his pocket. There are several other indications, but these may be enough to aid us in our search.” Lestrade laughed. “I am afraid that I am still a sceptic,” he said. “Theories are all very well, but we have to deal with a hard-headed British jury.” “Nous verrons,” answered Holmes calmly. “You work your own method, and I shall work mine. I shall be busy this afternoon, and shall probably return to London by the evening train.” “And leave your case un?nished?” “No, ?nished.” “But the mystery?” “It is solved.” 168 TheBoscombeValleyMystery “Who was the criminal, then?” “The gentleman I describe.” “But who is he?” “Surely it would not be dif?cult to ?nd out. This is not such a populous neighbourhood.” Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. “I am a prac- tical man,” he said, “and I really cannot undertake to go about the country looking for a left-handed gentleman with a game leg. I should become the laughing-stock of Scotland Yard.” “All right,” said Holmes quietly. “I have given you the chance. Here are your lodgings. Good- bye. I shall drop you a line before I leave.” Having left Lestrade at his rooms, we drove to our hotel, where we found lunch upon the table. Holmes was silent and buried in thought with a pained expression upon his face, as one who ?nds himself in a perplexing position. “Look here, Watson,” he said when the cloth was cleared “just sit down in this chair and let me preach to you for a little. I don’t know quite what to do, and I should value your advice. Light a cigar and let me expound.” “Pray do so.” “Well, now, in considering this case there are two points about young McCarthy’s narrative which struck us both instantly, although they im- pressed me in his favour and you against him. One was the fact that his father should, according to his account, cry ‘Cooee!’ before seeing him. The other was his singular dying reference to a rat. He mum- bled several words, you understand, but that was all that caught the son’s ear. Now from this double point our research must commence, and we will begin it by presuming that what the lad says is ab- solutely true.” “What of this ‘Cooee!’ then?” “Well, obviously it could not have been meant for the son. The son, as far as he knew, was in Bris- tol. It was mere chance that he was within earshot. The ‘Cooee!’ was meant to attract the attention of whoever it was that he had the appointment with. But ‘Cooee’ is a distinctly Australian cry, and one which is used between Australians. There is a strong presumption that the person whom Mc- Carthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool was someone who had been in Australia.” “What of the rat, then?” Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and ?attened it out on the table. “This is a map of the Colony of Victoria,” he said. “I wired to Bristol for it last night.” He put his hand over part of the map. “What do you read?” “ARAT,” I read. “And now?” He raised his hand. “BALLARAT.” “Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, and of which his son only caught the last two syl- lables. He was trying to utter the name of his mur- derer. So and so, of Ballarat.” “It is wonderful!” I exclaimed. “It is obvious. And now, you see, I had nar- rowed the ?eld down considerably. The possession of a grey garment was a third point which, grant- ing the son’s statement to be correct, was a cer- tainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness to the de?nite conception of an Australian from Ballarat with a grey cloak.” “Certainly.” “And one who was at home in the district, for the pool can only be approached by the farm or by the estate, where strangers could hardly wander.” “Quite so.” “Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an examination of the ground I gained the tri?ing de- tails which I gave to that imbecile Lestrade, as to the personality of the criminal.” “But how did you gain them?” “You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of tri?es.” “His height I know that you might roughly judge from the length of his stride. His boots, too, might be told from their traces.” “Yes, they were peculiar boots.” “But his lameness?” “The impression of his right foot was always less distinct than his left. He put less weight upon it. Why? Because he limped—he was lame.” “But his left-handedness.” “You were yourself struck by the nature of the injury as recorded by the surgeon at the inquest. The blow was struck from immediately behind, and yet was upon the left side. Now, how can that be unless it were by a left-handed man? He had stood behind that tree during the interview between the father and son. He had even smoked there. I found the ash of a cigar, which my spe- cial knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pro- nounce as an Indian cigar. I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and written a little monograph on the ashes of140different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. Having found the ash, I then looked round and discovered the stump among the moss where he had tossed it. It 169 TheBoscombeValleyMystery was an Indian cigar, of the variety which are rolled in Rotterdam.” “And the cigar-holder?” “I could see that the end had not been in his mouth. Therefore he used a holder. The tip had been cut off, not bitten off, but the cut was not a clean one, so I deduced a blunt pen-knife.” “Holmes,” I said, “you have drawn a net round this man from which he cannot escape, and you have saved an innocent human life as truly as if you had cut the cord which was hanging him. I see the direction in which all this points. The cul- prit is—” “Mr. John Turner,” cried the hotel waiter, open- ing the door of our sitting-room, and ushering in a visitor. The man who entered was a strange and im- pressive ?gure. His slow, limping step and bowed shoulders gave the appearance of decrepitude, and yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and his enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of unusual strength of body and of character. His tan- gled beard, grizzled hair, and outstanding, droop- ing eyebrows combined to give an air of dignity and power to his appearance, but his face was of an ashen white, while his lips and the corners of his nostrils were tinged with a shade of blue. It was clear to me at a glance that he was in the grip of some deadly and chronic disease. “Pray sit down on the sofa,” said Holmes gen- tly. “You had my note?” “Yes, the lodge-keeper brought it up. You said that you wished to see me here to avoid scandal.” “I thought people would talk if I went to the Hall.” “And why did you wish to see me?” He looked across at my companion with despair in his weary eyes, as though his question was already an- swered. “Yes,” said Holmes, answering the look rather than the words. “It is so. I know all about Mc- Carthy.” The old man sank his face in his hands. “God help me!” he cried. “But I would not have let the young man come to harm. I give you my word that I would have spoken out if it went against him at the Assizes.” “I am glad to hear you say so,” said Holmes gravely. “I would have spoken now had it not been for my dear girl. It would break her heart—it will break her heart when she hears that I am arrested.” “It may not come to that,” said Holmes. “What?” “I am no of?cial agent. I understand that it was your daughter who required my presence here, and I am acting in her interests. Young McCarthy must be got off, however.” “I am a dying man,” said old Turner. “I have had diabetes for years. My doctor says it is a ques- tion whether I shall live a month. Yet I would rather die under my own roof than in a jail.” Holmes rose and sat down at the table with his pen in his hand and a bundle of paper before him. “Just tell us the truth,” he said. “I shall jot down the facts. You will sign it, and Watson here can witness it. Then I could produce your confession at the last extremity to save young McCarthy. I promise you that I shall not use it unless it is ab- solutely needed.” “It’s as well,” said the old man; “it’s a question whether I shall live to the Assizes, so it matters little to me, but I should wish to spare Alice the shock. And now I will make the thing clear to you; it has been a long time in the acting, but will not take me long to tell. “You didn’t know this dead man, McCarthy. He was a devil incarnate. I tell you that. God keep you out of the clutches of such a man as he. His grip has been upon me these twenty years, and he has blasted my life. I’ll tell you ?rst how I came to be in his power. “It was in the early ’60’s at the diggings. I was a young chap then, hot-blooded and reckless, ready to turn my hand at anything; I got among bad companions, took to drink, had no luck with my claim, took to the bush, and in a word became what you would call over here a highway robber. There were six of us, and we had a wild, free life of it, sticking up a station from time to time, or stopping the wagons on the road to the diggings. Black Jack of Ballarat was the name I went under, and our party is still remembered in the colony as the Ballarat Gang. “One day a gold convoy came down from Bal- larat to Melbourne, and we lay in wait for it and attacked it. There were six troopers and six of us, so it was a close thing, but we emptied four of their saddles at the ?rst volley. Three of our boys were killed, however, before we got the swag. I put my pistol to the head of the wagon-driver, who was this very man McCarthy. I wish to the Lord that I had shot him then, but I spared him, though I saw his wicked little eyes ?xed on my face, as though to remember every feature. We got away with the 170 gold, became wealthy men, and made our way over to England without being suspected. There I parted from my old pals and determined to set- tle down to a quiet and respectable life. I bought this estate, which chanced to be in the market, and I set myself to do a little good with my money, to make up for the way in which I had earned it. I married, too, and though my wife died young she left me my dear little Alice. Even when she was just a baby her wee hand seemed to lead me down the right path as nothing else had ever done. In a word, I turned over a new leaf and did my best to make up for the past. All was going well when McCarthy laid his grip upon me. “I had gone up to town about an investment, and I met him in Regent Street with hardly a coat to his back or a boot to his foot. “ ‘Here we are, Jack,’ says he, touching me on the arm; ‘we’ll be as good as a family to you. There’s two of us, me and my son, and you can have the keeping of us. If you don’t—it’s a ?ne, law-abiding country is England, and there’s al- ways a policeman within hail.’ “Well, down they came to the west country, there was no shaking them off, and there they have lived rent free on my best land ever since. There was no rest for me, no peace, no forgetfulness; turn where I would, there was his cunning, grinning face at my elbow. It grew worse as Alice grew up, for he soon saw I was more afraid of her knowing my past than of the police. Whatever he wanted he must have, and whatever it was I gave him with- out question, land, money, houses, until at last he asked a thing which I could not give. He asked for Alice. “His son, you see, had grown up, and so had my girl, and as I was known to be in weak health, it seemed a ?ne stroke to him that his lad should step into the whole property. But there I was ?rm. I would not have his cursed stock mixed with mine; not that I had any dislike to the lad, but his blood was in him, and that was enough. I stood ?rm. McCarthy threatened. I braved him to do his worst. We were to meet at the pool midway between our houses to talk it over. “When I went down there I found him talk- ing with his son, so I smoked a cigar and waited behind a tree until he should be alone. But as I listened to his talk all that was black and bitter in me seemed to come uppermost. He was urging his son to marry my daughter with as little regard for what she might think as if she were a slut from off the streets. It drove me mad to think that I and all that I held most dear should be in the power of such a man as this. Could I not snap the bond? I was already a dying and a desperate man. Though clear of mind and fairly strong of limb, I knew that my own fate was sealed. But my memory and my girl! Both could be saved if I could but silence that foul tongue. I did it, Mr. Holmes. I would do it again. Deeply as I have sinned, I have led a life of martyrdom to atone for it. But that my girl should be entangled in the same meshes which held me was more than I could suffer. I struck him down with no more compunction than if he had been some foul and venomous beast. His cry brought back his son; but I had gained the cover of the wood, though I was forced to go back to fetch the cloak which I had dropped in my ?ight. That is the true story, gentlemen, of all that occurred.” “Well, it is not for me to judge you,” said Holmes as the old man signed the statement which had been drawn out. “I pray that we may never be exposed to such a temptation.” “I pray not, sir. And what do you intend to do?” “In view of your health, nothing. You are yourself aware that you will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes. I will keep your confession, and if McCarthy is condemned I shall be forced to use it. If not, it shall never be seen by mortal eye; and your secret, whether you be alive or dead, shall be safe with us.” “Farewell, then,” said the old man solemnly. “Your own deathbeds, when they come, will be the easier for the thought of the peace which you have given to mine.” Tottering and shaking in all his gi- ant frame, he stumbled slowly from the room. “God help us!” said Holmes after a long si- lence. “Why does fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter’s words, and say, ‘There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes.’ ” James McCarthy was acquitted at the Assizes on the strength of a number of objections which had been drawn out by Holmes and submitted to the defending counsel. Old Turner lived for seven months after our interview, but he is now dead; and there is every prospect that the son and daughter may come to live happily together in ig- norance of the black cloud which rests upon their past. The Five Orange Pips TheFiveOrangePips WhenIglanceover my notes and records of the Sherlock Holmes cases between the years ’82and ’90, I am faced by so many which present strange and interesting features that it is no easy matter to know which to choose and which to leave. Some, however, have already gained public- ity through the papers, and others have not offered a eld for those peculiar qualities which my friend possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the object of these papers to illustrate. Some, too, have bafed his analytical skill, and would be, as narra- tives, beginnings without an ending, while others have been but partially cleared up, and have their explanations founded rather upon conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to him. There is, however, one of these last which was so remarkable in its details and so startling in its results that I am tempted to give some account of it in spite of the fact that there are points in connection with it which never have been, and probably never will be, entirely cleared up. The year ’87furnished us with a long series of cases of greater or less interest, of which I re- tain the records. Among my headings under this one twelve months I nd an account of the adven- ture of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Men- dicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse, of the facts connected with the loss of the British barque ?So- phy Anderson?, of the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and nally of the Camberwell poisoning case. In the latter, as may be remembered, Sherlock Holmes was able, by winding up the dead man’s watch, to prove that it had been wound up two hours before, and that therefore the deceased had gone to bed within that time?a deduction which was of the greatest importance in clearing up the case. All these I may sketch out at some future date, but none of them present such singular features as the strange train of circumstances which I have now taken up my pen to describe. It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional vi- olence. All day the wind had screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life and to recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney. Sher- lock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the re- place cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell’s ne sea-stories until the howl of the gale from without seemed to blend with the text, and the splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of the sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother’s, and for a few days I was a dweller once more in my old quarters at Baker Street. ?Why,? said I, glancing up at my companion, ?that was surely the bell. Who could come to- night? Some friend of yours, perhaps?? ?Except yourself I have none,? he answered. ?I do not encourage visitors.? ?A client, then?? ?If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is more likely to be some crony of the landlady’s.? Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door. He stretched out his long arm to turn the lamp away from himself and towards the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit. ?Come in!? said he. The man who entered was young, some two- and-twenty at the outside, well-groomed and trimly clad, with something of renement and delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella which he held in his hand, and his long shin- ing waterproof told of the erce weather through which he had come. He looked about him anx- iously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that his face was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of a man who is weighed down with some great anx- iety. ?I owe you an apology,? he said, raising his golden pince-nez to his eyes. ?I trust that I am not intruding. I fear that I have brought some traces of the storm and rain into your snug chamber.? ?Give me your coat and umbrella,? said Holmes. ?They may rest here on the hook and will be dry presently. You have come up from the south-west, I see.? ?Yes, from Horsham.? ?That clay and chalk mixture which I see upon your toe caps is quite distinctive.? ?I have come for advice.? ?That is easily got.? ?And help.? ?That is not always so easy.? 175 TheFiveOrangePips “I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes. I heard from Major Prendergast how you saved him in the Tankerville Club scandal.” “Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at cards.” “He said that you could solve anything.” “He said too much.” “That you are never beaten.” “I have been beaten four times—three times by men, and once by a woman.” “But what is that compared with the number of your successes?” “It is true that I have been generally success- ful.” “Then you may be so with me.” “I beg that you will draw your chair up to the ?re and favour me with some details as to your case.” “It is no ordinary one.” “None of those which come to me are. I am the last court of appeal.” “And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your experience, you have ever listened to a more mys- terious and inexplicable chain of events than those which have happened in my own family.” “You ?ll me with interest,” said Holmes. “Pray give us the essential facts from the commence- ment, and I can afterwards question you as to those details which seem to me to be most impor- tant.” The young man pulled his chair up and pushed his wet feet out towards the blaze. “My name,” said he, “is John Openshaw, but my own affairs have, as far as I can understand, little to do with this awful business. It is a heredi- tary matter; so in order to give you an idea of the facts, I must go back to the commencement of the affair. “You must know that my grandfather had two sons—my uncle Elias and my father Joseph. My father had a small factory at Coventry, which he enlarged at the time of the invention of bicycling. He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable tire, and his business met with such success that he was able to sell it and to retire upon a handsome competence. “My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he was a young man and became a planter in Florida, where he was reported to have done very well. At the time of the war he fought in Jackson’s army, and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be a colonel. When Lee laid down his arms my uncle returned to his plantation, where he remained for three or four years. About1869or1870he came back to Europe and took a small estate in Sussex, near Horsham. He had made a very considerable fortune in the States, and his reason for leaving them was his aversion to the negroes, and his dis- like of the Republican policy in extending the fran- chise to them. He was a singular man, ?erce and quick-tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was angry, and of a most retiring disposition. During all the years that he lived at Horsham, I doubt if ever he set foot in the town. He had a gar- den and two or three ?elds round his house, and there he would take his exercise, though very often for weeks on end he would never leave his room. He drank a great deal of brandy and smoked very heavily, but he would see no society and did not want any friends, not even his own brother. “He didn’t mind me; in fact, he took a fancy to me, for at the time when he saw me ?rst I was a youngster of twelve or so. This would be in the year1878, after he had been eight or nine years in England. He begged my father to let me live with him and he was very kind to me in his way. When he was sober he used to be fond of play- ing backgammon and draughts with me, and he would make me his representative both with the servants and with the tradespeople, so that by the time that I was sixteen I was quite master of the house. I kept all the keys and could go where I liked and do what I liked, so long as I did not dis- turb him in his privacy. There was one singular exception, however, for he had a single room, a lumber-room up among the attics, which was in- variably locked, and which he would never permit either me or anyone else to enter. With a boy’s cu- riosity I have peeped through the keyhole, but I was never able to see more than such a collection of old trunks and bundles as would be expected in such a room. “One day—it was in March,1883—a letter with a foreign stamp lay upon the table in front of the colonel’s plate. It was not a common thing for him to receive letters, for his bills were all paid in ready money, and he had no friends of any sort. ‘From India!’ said he as he took it up, ‘Pondicherry post- mark! What can this be?’ Opening it hurriedly, out there jumped ?ve little dried orange pips, which pattered down upon his plate. I began to laugh at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at the sight of his face. His lip had fallen, his eyes were protruding, his skin the colour of putty, and he glared at the envelope which he still held in his 176 TheFiveOrangePips trembling hand, ‘K. K. K.!’ he shrieked, and then, ‘My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!’ “ ‘What is it, uncle?’ I cried. “ ‘Death,’ said he, and rising from the table he retired to his room, leaving me palpitating with horror. I took up the envelope and saw scrawled in red ink upon the inner ?ap, just above the gum, the letter K three times repeated. There was noth- ing else save the ?ve dried pips. What could be the reason of his overpowering terror? I left the breakfast-table, and as I ascended the stair I met him coming down with an old rusty key, which must have belonged to the attic, in one hand, and a small brass box, like a cashbox, in the other. “ ‘They may do what they like, but I’ll check- mate them still,’ said he with an oath. ‘Tell Mary that I shall want a ?re in my room to-day, and send down to Fordham, the Horsham lawyer.’ “I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer ar- rived I was asked to step up to the room. The ?re was burning brightly, and in the grate there was a mass of black, ?uffy ashes, as of burned paper, while the brass box stood open and empty beside it. As I glanced at the box I noticed, with a start, that upon the lid was printed the treble K which I had read in the morning upon the envelope. “ ‘I wish you, John,’ said my uncle, ‘to witness my will. I leave my estate, with all its advantages and all its disadvantages, to my brother, your fa- ther, whence it will, no doubt, descend to you. If you can enjoy it in peace, well and good! If you ?nd you cannot, take my advice, my boy, and leave it to your deadliest enemy. I am sorry to give you such a two-edged thing, but I can’t say what turn things are going to take. Kindly sign the paper where Mr. Fordham shows you.’ “I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer took it away with him. The singular incident made, as you may think, the deepest impression upon me, and I pondered over it and turned it ev- ery way in my mind without being able to make anything of it. Yet I could not shake off the vague feeling of dread which it left behind, though the sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed and nothing happened to disturb the usual routine of our lives. I could see a change in my uncle, how- ever. He drank more than ever, and he was less inclined for any sort of society. Most of his time he would spend in his room, with the door locked upon the inside, but sometimes he would emerge in a sort of drunken frenzy and would burst out of the house and tear about the garden with a revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was afraid of no man, and that he was not to be cooped up, like a sheep in a pen, by man or devil. When these hot ?ts were over, however, he would rush tumultuously in at the door and lock and bar it behind him, like a man who can brazen it out no longer against the terror which lies at the roots of his soul. At such times I have seen his face, even on a cold day, glisten with moisture, as though it were new raised from a basin. “Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr. Holmes, and not to abuse your patience, there came a night when he made one of those drunken sallies from which he never came back. We found him, when we went to search for him, face down- ward in a little green-scummed pool, which lay at the foot of the garden. There was no sign of any violence, and the water was but two feet deep, so that the jury, having regard to his known ec- centricity, brought in a verdict of ‘suicide.’ But I, who knew how he winced from the very thought of death, had much ado to persuade myself that he had gone out of his way to meet it. The matter passed, however, and my father entered into pos- session of the estate, and of some£14,000, which lay to his credit at the bank.” “One moment,” Holmes interposed, “your statement is, I foresee, one of the most remarkable to which I have ever listened. Let me have the date of the reception by your uncle of the letter, and the date of his supposed suicide.” “The letter arrived on March10,1883. His death was seven weeks later, upon the night of May2nd.” “Thank you. Pray proceed.” “When my father took over the Horsham prop- erty, he, at my request, made a careful examina- tion of the attic, which had been always locked up. We found the brass box there, although its contents had been destroyed. On the inside of the cover was a paper label, with the initials of K. K. K. repeated upon it, and ‘Letters, memoranda, re- ceipts, and a register’ written beneath. These, we presume, indicated the nature of the papers which had been destroyed by Colonel Openshaw. For the rest, there was nothing of much importance in the attic save a great many scattered papers and note- books bearing upon my uncle’s life in America. Some of them were of the war time and showed that he had done his duty well and had borne the repute of a brave soldier. Others were of a date during the reconstruction of the Southern states, and were mostly concerned with politics, for he had evidently taken a strong part in opposing the carpet-bag politicians who had been sent down from the North. 177 TheFiveOrangePips “Well, it was the beginning of ’84when my fa- ther came to live at Horsham, and all went as well as possible with us until the January of ’85. On the fourth day after the new year I heard my fa- ther give a sharp cry of surprise as we sat together at the breakfast-table. There he was, sitting with a newly opened envelope in one hand and ?ve dried orange pips in the outstretched palm of the other one. He had always laughed at what he called my cock-and-bull story about the colonel, but he looked very scared and puzzled now that the same thing had come upon himself. “ ‘Why, what on earth does this mean, John?’ he stammered. “My heart had turned to lead. ‘It is K. K. K.,’ said I. “He looked inside the envelope. ‘So it is,’ he cried. ‘Here are the very letters. But what is this written above them?’ “ ‘Put the papers on the sundial,’ I read, peep- ing over his shoulder. “ ‘What papers? What sundial?’ he asked. ’“ ‘The sundial in the garden. There is no other, said I; ‘but the papers must be those that are de- stroyed.’ “ ‘Pooh!’ said he, gripping hard at his courage. ‘We are in a civilised land here, and we can’t have tomfoolery of this kind. Where does the thing come from?’ “ ‘From Dundee,’ I answered, glancing at the postmark. “ ‘Some preposterous practical joke,’ said he. ‘What have I to do with sundials and papers? I shall take no notice of such nonsense.’ “ ‘I should certainly speak to the police,’ I said. “ ‘And be laughed at for my pains. Nothing of the sort.’ “ ‘Then let me do so?’ “ ‘No, I forbid you. I won’t have a fuss made about such nonsense.’ “It was in vain to argue with him, for he was a very obstinate man. I went about, however, with a heart which was full of forebodings. “On the third day after the coming of the letter my father went from home to visit an old friend of his, Major Freebody, who is in command of one of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad that he should go, for it seemed to me that he was far- ther from danger when he was away from home. In that, however, I was in error. Upon the sec- ond day of his absence I received a telegram from the major, imploring me to come at once. My father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits which abound in the neighbourhood, and was ly- ing senseless, with a shattered skull. I hurried to him, but he passed away without having ever recovered his consciousness. He had, as it ap- pears, been returning from Fareham in the twi- light, and as the country was unknown to him, and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hes- itation in bringing in a verdict of ‘death from ac- cidental causes.’ Carefully as I examined every fact connected with his death, I was unable to ?nd anything which could suggest the idea of murder. There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no robbery, no record of strangers having been seen upon the roads. And yet I need not tell you that my mind was far from at ease, and that I was well- nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven round him. “In this sinister way I came into my inheritance. You will ask me why I did not dispose of it? I an- swer, because I was well convinced that our trou- bles were in some way dependent upon an inci- dent in my uncle’s life, and that the danger would be as pressing in one house as in another. “It was in January, ’85, that my poor father met his end, and two years and eight months have elapsed since then. During that time I have lived happily at Horsham, and I had begun to hope that this curse had passed away from the family, and that it had ended with the last generation. I had begun to take comfort too soon, however; yester- day morning the blow fell in the very shape in which it had come upon my father.“ The young man took from his waistcoat a crumpled envelope, and turning to the table he shook out upon it ?ve little dried orange pips. “This is the envelope,” he continued. “The postmark is London—eastern division. Within are the very words which were upon my father’s last message: ‘K. K. K.’; and then ‘Put the papers on the sundial.’ ” “What have you done?” asked Holmes. “Nothing.” “Nothing?” “To tell the truth”—he sank his face into his thin, white hands—“I have felt helpless. I have felt like one of those poor rabbits when the snake is writhing towards it. I seem to be in the grasp of some resistless, inexorable evil, which no foresight and no precautions can guard against.” 178 TheFiveOrangePips “Tut! tut!” cried Sherlock Holmes. “You must act, man, or you are lost. Nothing but energy can save you. This is no time for despair.” “I have seen the police.” “Ah!” “But they listened to my story with a smile. I am convinced that the inspector has formed the opinion that the letters are all practical jokes, and that the deaths of my relations were really acci- dents, as the jury stated, and were not to be con- nected with the warnings.” Holmes shook his clenched hands in the air. “Incredible imbecility!” he cried. “They have, however, allowed me a policeman, who may remain in the house with me.” “Has he come with you to-night?” “No. His orders were to stay in the house.” Again Holmes raved in the air. “Why did you come to me,” he cried, “and, above all, why did you not come at once?” “I did not know. It was only to-day that I spoke to Major Prendergast about my troubles and was advised by him to come to you.” “It is really two days since you had the letter. We should have acted before this. You have no further evidence, I suppose, than that which you have placed before us—no suggestive detail which might help us?” “There is one thing,” said John Openshaw. He rummaged in his coat pocket, and, drawing out a piece of discoloured, blue-tinted paper, he laid it out upon the table. “I have some remembrance,” said he, “that on the day when my uncle burned the papers I observed that the small, unburned margins which lay amid the ashes were of this par- ticular colour. I found this single sheet upon the ?oor of his room, and I am inclined to think that it may be one of the papers which has, perhaps, ?uttered out from among the others, and in that way has escaped destruction. Beyond the mention of pips, I do not see that it helps us much. I think myself that it is a page from some private diary. The writing is undoubtedly my uncle’s.” Holmes moved the lamp, and we both bent over the sheet of paper, which showed by its ragged edge that it had indeed been torn from a book. It was headed, “March,1869,” and beneath were the following enigmatical notices:4th. Hudson came. Same old platform.7th. Set the pips on McCauley, Paramore, and John Swain, of St. Augustine.9th. McCauley cleared.10th. John Swain cleared.12th. Visited Paramore. All well. “Thank you!” said Holmes, folding up the pa- per and returning it to our visitor. “And now you must on no account lose another instant. We can- not spare time even to discuss what you have told me. You must get home instantly and act.” “What shall I do?” “There is but one thing to do. It must be done at once. You must put this piece of paper which you have shown us into the brass box which you have described. You must also put in a note to say that all the other papers were burned by your un- cle, and that this is the only one which remains. You must assert that in such words as will carry conviction with them. Having done this, you must at once put the box out upon the sundial, as di- rected. Do you understand?” “Entirely.” “Do not think of revenge, or anything of the sort, at present. I think that we may gain that by means of the law; but we have our web to weave, while theirs is already woven. The ?rst considera- tion is to remove the pressing danger which threat- ens you. The second is to clear up the mystery and to punish the guilty parties.” “I thank you,” said the young man, rising and pulling on his overcoat. “You have given me fresh life and hope. I shall certainly do as you advise.” “Do not lose an instant. And, above all, take care of yourself in the meanwhile, for I do not think that there can be a doubt that you are threat- ened by a very real and imminent danger. How do you go back?” “By train from Waterloo.” “It is not yet nine. The streets will be crowded, so I trust that you may be in safety. And yet you cannot guard yourself too closely.” “I am armed.” “That is well. To-morrow I shall set to work upon your case.” “I shall see you at Horsham, then?” “No, your secret lies in London. It is there that I shall seek it.” “Then I shall call upon you in a day, or in two days, with news as to the box and the papers. I shall take your advice in every particular.” He shook hands with us and took his leave. Outside the wind still screamed and the rain splashed and pattered against the windows. This strange, wild story seemed to have come to us from amid the mad elements—blown in upon us like a sheet of sea-weed in a gale—and now to have been reab- sorbed by them once more. 179 TheFiveOrangePips Sherlock Holmes sat for some time in silence, with his head sunk forward and his eyes bent upon the red glow of the ?re. Then he lit his pipe, and leaning back in his chair he watched the blue smoke-rings as they chased each other up to the ceiling. “I think, Watson,” he remarked at last, “that of all our cases we have had none more fantastic than this.” “Save, perhaps, the Sign of Four.” “Well, yes. Save, perhaps, that. And yet this John Openshaw seems to me to be walking amid even greater perils than did the Sholtos.” “But have you,” I asked, “formed any de?nite conception as to what these perils are?” “There can be no question as to their nature,” he answered. “Then what are they? Who is this K. K. K., and why does he pursue this unhappy family?” Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes and placed his elbows upon the arms of his chair, with his ?nger- tips together. “The ideal reasoner,” he remarked, “would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it. As Cu- vier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a se- ries of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after. We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study which have baf?ed all those who have sought a so- lution by the aid of their senses. To carry the art, however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilise all the facts which have come to his knowledge; and this in it- self implies, as you will readily see, a possession of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare accomplishment. It is not so impossible, however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I have endeavoured in my case to do. If I remember rightly, you on one occasion, in the early days of our friendship, de?ned my limits in a very precise fashion.” “Yes,” I answered, laughing. “It was a singu- lar document. Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero, I remember. Botany vari- able, geology profound as regards the mud-stains from any region within ?fty miles of town, chem- istry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin-player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by co- caine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the main points of my analysis.” Holmes grinned at the last item. “Well,” he said, “I say now, as I said then, that a man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furni- ture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it. Now, for such a case as the one which has been submitted to us to-night, we need certainly to muster all our resources. Kindly hand me down the letter K of the ‘American En- cyclopaedia’ which stands upon the shelf beside you. Thank you. Now let us consider the situa- tion and see what may be deduced from it. In the ?rst place, we may start with a strong presumption that Colonel Openshaw had some very strong rea- son for leaving America. Men at his time of life do not change all their habits and exchange willingly the charming climate of Florida for the lonely life of an English provincial town. His extreme love of solitude in England suggests the idea that he was in fear of someone or something, so we may assume as a working hypothesis that it was fear of someone or something which drove him from America. As to what it was he feared, we can only deduce that by considering the formidable letters which were received by himself and his successors. Did you remark the postmarks of those letters?” “The ?rst was from Pondicherry, the second from Dundee, and the third from London.” “From East London. What do you deduce from that?” “They are all seaports. That the writer was on board of a ship.” “Excellent. We have already a clue. There can be no doubt that the probability—the strong prob- ability—is that the writer was on board of a ship. And now let us consider another point. In the case of Pondicherry, seven weeks elapsed between the threat and its ful?lment, in Dundee it was only some three or four days. Does that suggest any- thing?” “A greater distance to travel.” “But the letter had also a greater distance to come.” “Then I do not see the point.” “There is at least a presumption that the vessel in which the man or men are is a sailing-ship. It 180 TheFiveOrangePips looks as if they always send their singular warn- ing or token before them when starting upon their mission. You see how quickly the deed followed the sign when it came from Dundee. If they had come from Pondicherry in a steamer they would have arrived almost as soon as their letter. But, as a matter of fact, seven weeks elapsed. I think that those seven weeks represented the difference be- tween the mail-boat which brought the letter and the sailing vessel which brought the writer.” “It is possible.” “More than that. It is probable. And now you see the deadly urgency of this new case, and why I urged young Openshaw to caution. The blow has always fallen at the end of the time which it would take the senders to travel the distance. But this one comes from London, and therefore we cannot count upon delay.” “Good God!” I cried. “What can it mean, this relentless persecution?” “The papers which Openshaw carried are obvi- ously of vital importance to the person or persons in the sailing-ship. I think that it is quite clear that there must be more than one of them. A single man could not have carried out two deaths in such a way as to deceive a coroner’s jury. There must have been several in it, and they must have been men of resource and determination. Their papers they mean to have, be the holder of them who it may. In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the initials of an individual and becomes the badge of a society.” “But of what society?” “Have you never—” said Sherlock Holmes, bending forward and sinking his voice—“have you never heard of the Ku Klux Klan?” “I never have.” Holmes turned over the leaves of the book upon his knee. “Here it is,” said he presently:“ ‘Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the fanciful resemblance to the sound produced by cocking a ri?e. This terrible secret soci- ety was formed by some ex-Confederate sol- diers in the Southern states after the Civil War, and it rapidly formed local branches in different parts of the country, notably in Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Geor- gia, and Florida. Its power was used for po- litical purposes, principally for the terroris- ing of the negro voters and the murdering and driving from the country of those who were opposed to its views. Its outrages were usually preceded by a warning sent to the marked man in some fantastic but generally recognised shape—a sprig of oak-leaves in some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in others. On receiving this the victim might either openly abjure his former ways, or might ?y from the country. If he braved the matter out, death would unfailingly come upon him, and usually in some strange and unforeseen manner. So perfect was the or- ganisation of the society, and so systematic its methods, that there is hardly a case upon record where any man succeeded in braving it with impunity, or in which any of its out- rages were traced home to the perpetrators. For some years the organisation ?ourished in spite of the efforts of the United States government and of the better classes of the community in the South. Eventually, in the year1869, the movement rather sud- denly collapsed, although there have been sporadic outbreaks of the same sort since that date.’“You will observe,” said Holmes, laying down the volume, “that the sudden breaking up of the so- ciety was coincident with the disappearance of Openshaw from America with their papers. It may well have been cause and effect. It is no wonder that he and his family have some of the more im- placable spirits upon their track. You can under- stand that this register and diary may implicate some of the ?rst men in the South, and that there may be many who will not sleep easy at night until it is recovered.” “Then the page we have seen—” “Is such as we might expect. It ran, if I remem- ber right, ‘sent the pips to A, B, and C’—that is, sent the society’s warning to them. Then there are successive entries that A and B cleared, or left the country, and ?nally that C was visited, with, I fear, a sinister result for C. Well, I think, Doctor, that we may let some light into this dark place, and I be- lieve that the only chance young Openshaw has in the meantime is to do what I have told him. There is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellow-men.” It had cleared in the morning, and the sun was shining with a subdued brightness through the dim veil which hangs over the great city. Sher- lock Holmes was already at breakfast when I came down. 181 TheFiveOrangePips “You will excuse me for not waiting for you,” said he; “I have, I foresee, a very busy day be- fore me in looking into this case of young Open- shaw’s.” “What steps will you take?” I asked. “It will very much depend upon the results of my ?rst inquiries. I may have to go down to Hor- sham, after all.” “You will not go there ?rst?” “No, I shall commence with the City. Just ring the bell and the maid will bring up your coffee.” As I waited, I lifted the unopened newspaper from the table and glanced my eye over it. It rested upon a heading which sent a chill to my heart. “Holmes,” I cried, “you are too late.” “Ah!” said he, laying down his cup, “I feared as much. How was it done?” He spoke calmly, but I could see that he was deeply moved. “My eye caught the name of Openshaw, and the heading ‘Tragedy Near Waterloo Bridge.’ Here is the account:“Between nine and ten last night Police- Constable Cook, of the H Division, on duty near Waterloo Bridge, heard a cry for help and a splash in the water. The night, how- ever, was extremely dark and stormy, so that, in spite of the help of several passers- by, it was quite impossible to effect a res- cue. The alarm, however, was given, and, by the aid of the water-police, the body was eventually recovered. It proved to be that of a young gentleman whose name, as it ap- pears from an envelope which was found in his pocket, was John Openshaw, and whose residence is near Horsham. It is conjec- tured that he may have been hurrying down to catch the last train from Waterloo Sta- tion, and that in his haste and the extreme darkness he missed his path and walked over the edge of one of the small landing- places for river steamboats. The body ex- hibited no traces of violence, and there can be no doubt that the deceased had been the victim of an unfortunate accident, which should have the effect of calling the atten- tion of the authorities to the condition of the riverside landing-stages.”We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more depressed and shaken than I had ever seen him. “That hurts my pride, Watson,” he said at last. “It is a petty feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my pride. It becomes a personal matter with me now, and, if God sends me health, I shall set my hand upon this gang. That he should come to me for help, and that I should send him away to his death—!” He sprang from his chair and paced about the room in uncontrollable agitation, with a ?ush upon his sallow cheeks and a nervous clasp- ing and unclasping of his long thin hands. “They must be cunning devils,” he exclaimed at last. “How could they have decoyed him down there? The Embankment is not on the direct line to the station. The bridge, no doubt, was too crowded, even on such a night, for their purpose. Well, Watson, we shall see who will win in the long run. I am going out now!” “To the police?” “No; I shall be my own police. When I have spun the web they may take the ?ies, but not be- fore.” All day I was engaged in my professional work, and it was late in the evening before I returned to Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes had not come back yet. It was nearly ten o’clock before he en- tered, looking pale and worn. He walked up to the sideboard, and tearing a piece from the loaf he devoured it voraciously, washing it down with a long draught of water. “You are hungry,” I remarked. “Starving. It had escaped my memory. I have had nothing since breakfast.” “Nothing?” “Not a bite. I had no time to think of it.” “And how have you succeeded?” “Well.” “You have a clue?” “I have them in the hollow of my hand. Young Openshaw shall not long remain unavenged. Why, Watson, let us put their own devilish trade-mark upon them. It is well thought of!” “What do you mean?” He took an orange from the cupboard, and tearing it to pieces he squeezed out the pips upon the table. Of these he took ?ve and thrust them into an envelope. On the inside of the ?ap he wrote “S. H. for J. O.” Then he sealed it and ad- dressed it to “Captain James Calhoun, BarqueLone Star, Savannah, Georgia.” “That will await him when he enters port,” said he, chuckling. “It may give him a sleepless night. He will ?nd it as sure a precursor of his fate as Openshaw did before him.” “And who is this Captain Calhoun?” “The leader of the gang. I shall have the others, but he ?rst.” “How did you trace it, then?” 182 He took a large sheet of paper from his pocket, all covered with dates and names. “I have spent the whole day,” said he, “over Lloyd’s registers and ?les of the old papers, fol- lowing the future career of every vessel which touched at Pondicherry in January and February in ’83. There were thirty-six ships of fair tonnage which were reported there during those months. Of these, one, theLone Star, instantly attracted my attention, since, although it was reported as hav- ing cleared from London, the name is that which is given to one of the states of the Union.” “Texas, I think.” “I was not and am not sure which; but I knew that the ship must have an American origin.” “What then?” “I searched the Dundee records, and when I found that the barqueLone Starwas there in Jan- uary, ’85, my suspicion became a certainty. I then inquired as to the vessels which lay at present in the port of London.” “Yes?” “TheLone Starhad arrived here last week. I went down to the Albert Dock and found that she had been taken down the river by the early tide this morning, homeward bound to Savannah. I wired to Gravesend and learned that she had passed some time ago, and as the wind is easterly I have no doubt that she is now past the Goodwins and not very far from the Isle of Wight.” “What will you do, then?” “Oh, I have my hand upon him. He and the two mates, are as I learn, the only native-born Americans in the ship. The others are Finns and Germans. I know, also, that they were all three away from the ship last night. I had it from the stevedore who has been loading their cargo. By the time that their sailing-ship reaches Savannah the mail-boat will have carried this letter, and the cable will have informed the police of Savannah that these three gentlemen are badly wanted here upon a charge of murder.” There is ever a ?aw, however, in the best laid of human plans, and the murderers of John Open- shaw were never to receive the orange pips which would show them that another, as cunning and as resolute as themselves, was upon their track. Very long and very severe were the equinoctial gales that year. We waited long for news of theLone Starof Savannah, but none ever reached us. We did at last hear that somewhere far out in the Atlantic a shattered stern-post of a boat was seen swinging in the trough of a wave, with the letters “L. S.” carved upon it, and that is all which we shall ever know of the fate of theLone Star. The Man with the Twisted Lip TheMan with theTwistedLip IsaWhitney, brother of the late Elias Whitney, D.D., Principal of the Theolog- ical College of St. George’s, was much addicted to opium. The habit grew upon him, as I understand, from some foolish freak when he was at college; for having read De Quincey’s description of his dreams and sensa- tions, he had drenched his tobacco with laudanum in an attempt to produce the same effects. He found, as so many more have done, that the prac- tice is easier to attain than to get rid of, and for many years he continued to be a slave to the drug, an object of mingled horror and pity to his friends and relatives. I can see him now, with yellow, pasty face, drooping lids, and pin-point pupils, all huddled in a chair, the wreck and ruin of a noble man. One night?it was in June, ’89?there came a ring to my bell, about the hour when a man gives his rst yawn and glances at the clock. I sat up in my chair, and my wife laid her needle-work down in her lap and made a little face of disappointment. ?A patient!? said she. ?You’ll have to go out.? I groaned, for I was newly come back from a weary day. We heard the door open, a few hurried words, and then quick steps upon the linoleum. Our own door ew open, and a lady, clad in some dark- coloured stuff, with a black veil, entered the room. ?You will excuse my calling so late,? she began, and then, suddenly losing her self-control, she ran forward, threw her arms about my wife’s neck, and sobbed upon her shoulder. ?Oh, I’m in such trouble!? she cried; ?I do so want a little help.? ?Why,? said my wife, pulling up her veil, ?it is Kate Whitney. How you startled me, Kate! I had not an idea who you were when you came in.? ?I didn’t know what to do, so I came straight to you.? That was always the way. Folk who were in grief came to my wife like birds to a light-house. ?It was very sweet of you to come. Now, you must have some wine and water, and sit here com- fortably and tell us all about it. Or should you rather that I sent James off to bed?? ?Oh, no, no! I want the doctor’s advice and help, too. It’s about Isa. He has not been home for two days. I am so frightened about him!? It was not the rst time that she had spoken to us of her husband’s trouble, to me as a doctor, to my wife as an old friend and school companion. We soothed and comforted her by such words as we could nd. Did she know where her husband was? Was it possible that we could bring him back to her? It seems that it was. She had the surest in- formation that of late he had, when the t was on him, made use of an opium den in the far- thest east of the City. Hitherto his orgies had al- ways been conned to one day, and he had come back, twitching and shattered, in the evening. But now the spell had been upon him eight-and-forty hours, and he lay there, doubtless among the dregs of the docks, breathing in the poison or sleeping off the effects. There he was to be found, she was sure of it, at the Bar of Gold, in Upper Swandam Lane. But what was she to do? How could she, a young and timid woman, make her way into such a place and pluck her husband out from among the rufans who surrounded him? There was the case, and of course there was but one way out of it. Might I not escort her to this place? And then, as a second thought, why should she come at all? I was Isa Whitney’s medi- cal adviser, and as such I had inuence over him. I could manage it better if I were alone. I promised her on my word that I would send him home in a cab within two hours if he were indeed at the address which she had given me. And so in ten minutes I had left my armchair and cheery sitting- room behind me, and was speeding eastward in a hansom on a strange errand, as it seemed to me at the time, though the future only could show how strange it was to be. But there was no great difculty in the rst stage of my adventure. Upper Swandam Lane is a vile alley lurking behind the high wharves which line the north side of the river to the east of Lon- don Bridge. Between a slop-shop and a gin-shop, approached by a steep ight of steps leading down to a black gap like the mouth of a cave, I found the den of which I was in search. Ordering my cab to wait, I passed down the steps, worn hollow in the centre by the ceaseless tread of drunken feet; and by the light of a ickering oil-lamp above the door I found the latch and made my way into a long, low room, thick and heavy with the brown opium smoke, and terraced with wooden berths, like the forecastle of an emigrant ship. Through the gloom one could dimly catch a glimpse of bodies lying in strange fantastic poses, bowed shoulders, bent knees, heads thrown back, and chins pointing upward, with here and there a dark, lack-lustre eye turned upon the newcomer. Out of the black shadows there glimmered little red circles of light, now bright, now faint, as the burning poison waxed or waned in the bowls of 187 TheMan with theTwistedLip the metal pipes. The most lay silent, but some mut- tered to themselves, and others talked together in a strange, low, monotonous voice, their conversation coming in gushes, and then suddenly tailing off into silence, each mumbling out his own thoughts and paying little heed to the words of his neigh- bour. At the farther end was a small brazier of burning charcoal, beside which on a three-legged wooden stool there sat a tall, thin old man, with his jaw resting upon his two ?sts, and his elbows upon his knees, staring into the ?re. As I entered, a sallow Malay attendant had hur- ried up with a pipe for me and a supply of the drug, beckoning me to an empty berth. “Thank you. I have not come to stay,” said I. “There is a friend of mine here, Mr. Isa Whitney, and I wish to speak with him.” There was a movement and an exclamation from my right, and peering through the gloom, I saw Whitney, pale, haggard, and unkempt, staring out at me. “My God! It’s Watson,” said he. He was in a pitiable state of reaction, with every nerve in a twitter. “I say, Watson, what o’clock is it?” “Nearly eleven.” “Of what day?” “Of Friday, June19th.” “Good heavens! I thought it was Wednesday. It is Wednesday. What d’you want to frighten a chap for?” He sank his face onto his arms and began to sob in a high treble key. “I tell you that it is Friday, man. Your wife has been waiting this two days for you. You should be ashamed of yourself!” “So I am. But you’ve got mixed, Watson, for I have only been here a few hours, three pipes, four pipes—I forget how many. But I’ll go home with you. I wouldn’t frighten Kate—poor little Kate. Give me your hand! Have you a cab?” “Yes, I have one waiting.” “Then I shall go in it. But I must owe some- thing. Find what I owe, Watson. I am all off colour. I can do nothing for myself.” I walked down the narrow passage between the double row of sleepers, holding my breath to keep out the vile, stupefying fumes of the drug, and looking about for the manager. As I passed the tall man who sat by the brazier I felt a sud- den pluck at my skirt, and a low voice whispered, “Walk past me, and then look back at me.” The words fell quite distinctly upon my ear. I glanced down. They could only have come from the old man at my side, and yet he sat now as absorbed as ever, very thin, very wrinkled, bent with age, an opium pipe dangling down from between his knees, as though it had dropped in sheer lassi- tude from his ?ngers. I took two steps forward and looked back. It took all my self-control to pre- vent me from breaking out into a cry of astonish- ment. He had turned his back so that none could see him but I. His form had ?lled out, his wrinkles were gone, the dull eyes had regained their ?re, and there, sitting by the ?re and grinning at my surprise, was none other than Sherlock Holmes. He made a slight motion to me to approach him, and instantly, as he turned his face half round to the company once more, subsided into a dodder- ing, loose-lipped senility. “Holmes!” I whispered, “what on earth are you doing in this den?” “As low as you can,” he answered; “I have ex- cellent ears. If you would have the great kindness to get rid of that sottish friend of yours I should be exceedingly glad to have a little talk with you.” “I have a cab outside.” “Then pray send him home in it. You may safely trust him, for he appears to be too limp to get into any mischief. I should recommend you also to send a note by the cabman to your wife to say that you have thrown in your lot with me. If you will wait outside, I shall be with you in ?ve minutes.” It was dif?cult to refuse any of Sherlock Holmes’ requests, for they were always so exceed- ingly de?nite, and put forward with such a quiet air of mastery. I felt, however, that when Whitney was once con?ned in the cab my mission was prac- tically accomplished; and for the rest, I could not wish anything better than to be associated with my friend in one of those singular adventures which were the normal condition of his existence. In a few minutes I had written my note, paid Whit- ney’s bill, led him out to the cab, and seen him driven through the darkness. In a very short time a decrepit ?gure had emerged from the opium den, and I was walking down the street with Sherlock Holmes. For two streets he shuf?ed along with a bent back and an uncertain foot. Then, glanc- ing quickly round, he straightened himself out and burst into a hearty ?t of laughter. “I suppose, Watson,” said he, “that you imag- ine that I have added opium-smoking to cocaine injections, and all the other little weaknesses on which you have favoured me with your medical views.” 188 TheMan with theTwistedLip “I was certainly surprised to ?nd you there.” “But not more so than I to ?nd you.” “I came to ?nd a friend.” “And I to ?nd an enemy.” “An enemy?” “Yes; one of my natural enemies, or, shall I say, my natural prey. Brie?y, Watson, I am in the midst of a very remarkable inquiry, and I have hoped to ?nd a clue in the incoherent ramblings of these sots, as I have done before now. Had I been recog- nised in that den my life would not have been worth an hour’s purchase; for I have used it be- fore now for my own purposes, and the rascally Lascar who runs it has sworn to have vengeance upon me. There is a trap-door at the back of that building, near the corner of Paul’s Wharf, which could tell some strange tales of what has passed through it upon the moonless nights.” “What! You do not mean bodies?” “Ay, bodies, Watson. We should be rich men if we had£1000for every poor devil who has been done to death in that den. It is the vilest murder- trap on the whole riverside, and I fear that Neville St. Clair has entered it never to leave it more. But our trap should be here.” He put his two fore- ?ngers between his teeth and whistled shrilly—a signal which was answered by a similar whistle from the distance, followed shortly by the rattle of wheels and the clink of horses’ hoofs. “Now, Watson,” said Holmes, as a tall dog- cart dashed up through the gloom, throwing out two golden tunnels of yellow light from its side lanterns. “You’ll come with me, won’t you?” “If I can be of use.” “Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still more so. My room at The Cedars is a double-bedded one.” “The Cedars?” “Yes; that is Mr. St. Clair’s house. I am staying there while I conduct the inquiry.” “Where is it, then?” “Near Lee, in Kent. We have a seven-mile drive before us.” “But I am all in the dark.” “Of course you are. You’ll know all about it presently. Jump up here. All right, John; we shall not need you. Here’s half a crown. Look out for me to-morrow, about eleven. Give her her head. So long, then!” He ?icked the horse with his whip, and we dashed away through the endless succession of sombre and deserted streets, which widened gradually, until we were ?ying across a broad balustraded bridge, with the murky river ?ow- ing sluggishly beneath us. Beyond lay another dull wilderness of bricks and mortar, its silence broken only by the heavy, regular footfall of the policeman, or the songs and shouts of some be- lated party of revellers. A dull wrack was drift- ing slowly across the sky, and a star or two twin- kled dimly here and there through the rifts of the clouds. Holmes drove in silence, with his head sunk upon his breast, and the air of a man who is lost in thought, while I sat beside him, curi- ous to learn what this new quest might be which seemed to tax his powers so sorely, and yet afraid to break in upon the current of his thoughts. We had driven several miles, and were beginning to get to the fringe of the belt of suburban villas, when he shook himself, shrugged his shoulders, and lit up his pipe with the air of a man who has satis?ed himself that he is acting for the best. “You have a grand gift of silence, Watson,” said he. “It makes you quite invaluable as a compan- ion. ’Pon my word, it is a great thing for me to have someone to talk to, for my own thoughts are not over-pleasant. I was wondering what I should say to this dear little woman to-night when she meets me at the door.” “You forget that I know nothing about it.” “I shall just have time to tell you the facts of the case before we get to Lee. It seems absurdly simple, and yet, somehow I can get nothing to go upon. There’s plenty of thread, no doubt, but I can’t get the end of it into my hand. Now, I’ll state the case clearly and concisely to you, Watson, and maybe you can see a spark where all is dark to me.” “Proceed, then.” “Some years ago—to be de?nite, in May,1884—there came to Lee a gentleman, Neville St. Clair by name, who appeared to have plenty of money. He took a large villa, laid out the grounds very nicely, and lived generally in good style. By degrees he made friends in the neighbourhood, and in1887he married the daughter of a local brewer, by whom he now has two children. He had no occupation, but was interested in several companies and went into town as a rule in the morning, returning by the5.14from Cannon Street every night. Mr. St. Clair is now thirty-seven years of age, is a man of temperate habits, a good hus- band, a very affectionate father, and a man who is popular with all who know him. I may add that his whole debts at the present moment, as far 189 TheMan with theTwistedLip as we have been able to ascertain, amount to£88 10s., while he has£220standing to his credit in the Capital and Counties Bank. There is no reason, therefore, to think that money troubles have been weighing upon his mind. “Last Monday Mr. Neville St. Clair went into town rather earlier than usual, remarking before he started that he had two important commis- sions to perform, and that he would bring his lit- tle boy home a box of bricks. Now, by the mer- est chance, his wife received a telegram upon this same Monday, very shortly after his departure, to the effect that a small parcel of considerable value which she had been expecting was waiting for her at the of?ces of the Aberdeen Shipping Company. Now, if you are well up in your London, you will know that the of?ce of the company is in Fresno Street, which branches out of Upper Swandam Lane, where you found me to-night. Mrs. St. Clair had her lunch, started for the City, did some shop- ping, proceeded to the company’s of?ce, got her packet, and found herself at exactly4.35walking through Swandam Lane on her way back to the station. Have you followed me so far?” “It is very clear.” “If you remember, Monday was an exceedingly hot day, and Mrs. St. Clair walked slowly, glancing about in the hope of seeing a cab, as she did not like the neighbourhood in which she found her- self. While she was walking in this way down Swandam Lane, she suddenly heard an ejacula- tion or cry, and was struck cold to see her hus- band looking down at her and, as it seemed to her, beckoning to her from a second-?oor window. The window was open, and she distinctly saw his face, which she describes as being terribly agitated. He waved his hands frantically to her, and then van- ished from the window so suddenly that it seemed to her that he had been plucked back by some ir- resistible force from behind. One singular point which struck her quick feminine eye was that al- though he wore some dark coat, such as he had started to town in, he had on neither collar nor necktie. “Convinced that something was amiss with him, she rushed down the steps—for the house was none other than the opium den in which you found me to-night—and running through the front room she attempted to ascend the stairs which led to the ?rst ?oor. At the foot of the stairs, however, she met this Lascar scoundrel of whom I have spo- ken, who thrust her back and, aided by a Dane, who acts as assistant there, pushed her out into the street. Filled with the most maddening doubts and fears, she rushed down the lane and, by rare good- fortune, met in Fresno Street a number of consta- bles with an inspector, all on their way to their beat. The inspector and two men accompanied her back, and in spite of the continued resistance of the proprietor, they made their way to the room in which Mr. St. Clair had last been seen. There was no sign of him there. In fact, in the whole of that ?oor there was no one to be found save a crippled wretch of hideous aspect, who, it seems, made his home there. Both he and the Lascar stoutly swore that no one else had been in the front room dur- ing the afternoon. So determined was their denial that the inspector was staggered, and had almost come to believe that Mrs. St. Clair had been de- luded when, with a cry, she sprang at a small deal box which lay upon the table and tore the lid from it. Out there fell a cascade of children’s bricks. It was the toy which he had promised to bring home. “This discovery, and the evident confusion which the cripple showed, made the inspector re- alise that the matter was serious. The rooms were carefully examined, and results all pointed to an abominable crime. The front room was plainly fur- nished as a sitting-room and led into a small bed- room, which looked out upon the back of one of the wharves. Between the wharf and the bedroom window is a narrow strip, which is dry at low tide but is covered at high tide with at least four and a half feet of water. The bedroom window was a broad one and opened from below. On exam- ination traces of blood were to be seen upon the windowsill, and several scattered drops were visi- ble upon the wooden ?oor of the bedroom. Thrust away behind a curtain in the front room were all the clothes of Mr. Neville St. Clair, with the excep- tion of his coat. His boots, his socks, his hat, and his watch—all were there. There were no signs of violence upon any of these garments, and there were no other traces of Mr. Neville St. Clair. Out of the window he must apparently have gone for no other exit could be discovered, and the ominous bloodstains upon the sill gave little promise that he could save himself by swimming, for the tide was at its very highest at the moment of the tragedy. “And now as to the villains who seemed to be immediately implicated in the matter. The Lascar was known to be a man of the vilest antecedents, but as, by Mrs. St. Clair’s story, he was known to have been at the foot of the stair within a very few seconds of her husband’s appearance at the window, he could hardly have been more than an accessory to the crime. His defence was one of absolute ignorance, and he protested that he had no knowledge as to the doings of Hugh Boone, 190 TheMan with theTwistedLip his lodger, and that he could not account in any way for the presence of the missing gentleman’s clothes. “So much for the Lascar manager. Now for the sinister cripple who lives upon the second ?oor of the opium den, and who was certainly the last human being whose eyes rested upon Neville St. Clair. His name is Hugh Boone, and his hideous face is one which is familiar to every man who goes much to the City. He is a professional beggar, though in order to avoid the police regulations he pretends to a small trade in wax vestas. Some little distance down Threadneedle Street, upon the left- hand side, there is, as you may have remarked, a small angle in the wall. Here it is that this crea- ture takes his daily seat, cross-legged with his tiny stock of matches on his lap, and as he is a piteous spectacle a small rain of charity descends into the greasy leather cap which lies upon the pavement beside him. I have watched the fellow more than once before ever I thought of making his profes- sional acquaintance, and I have been surprised at the harvest which he has reaped in a short time. His appearance, you see, is so remarkable that no one can pass him without observing him. A shock of orange hair, a pale face dis?gured by a horrible scar, which, by its contraction, has turned up the outer edge of his upper lip, a bulldog chin, and a pair of very penetrating dark eyes, which present a singular contrast to the colour of his hair, all mark him out from amid the common crowd of mendi- cants and so, too, does his wit, for he is ever ready with a reply to any piece of chaff which may be thrown at him by the passers-by. This is the man whom we now learn to have been the lodger at the opium den, and to have been the last man to see the gentleman of whom we are in quest.” “But a cripple!” said I. “What could he have done single-handed against a man in the prime of life?” “He is a cripple in the sense that he walks with a limp; but in other respects he appears to be a powerful and well-nurtured man. Surely your medical experience would tell you, Watson, that weakness in one limb is often compensated for by exceptional strength in the others.” “Pray continue your narrative.” “Mrs. St. Clair had fainted at the sight of the blood upon the window, and she was escorted home in a cab by the police, as her presence could be of no help to them in their investigations. In- spector Barton, who had charge of the case, made a very careful examination of the premises, but without ?nding anything which threw any light upon the matter. One mistake had been made in not arresting Boone instantly, as he was allowed some few minutes during which he might have communicated with his friend the Lascar, but this fault was soon remedied, and he was seized and searched, without anything being found which could incriminate him. There were, it is true, some blood-stains upon his right shirt-sleeve, but he pointed to his ring-?nger, which had been cut near the nail, and explained that the bleeding came from there, adding that he had been to the win- dow not long before, and that the stains which had been observed there came doubtless from the same source. He denied strenuously having ever seen Mr. Neville St. Clair and swore that the presence of the clothes in his room was as much a mystery to him as to the police. As to Mrs. St. Clair’s as- sertion that she had actually seen her husband at the window, he declared that she must have been either mad or dreaming. He was removed, loudly protesting, to the police-station, while the inspec- tor remained upon the premises in the hope that the ebbing tide might afford some fresh clue. “And it did, though they hardly found upon the mud-bank what they had feared to ?nd. It was Neville St. Clair’s coat, and not Neville St. Clair, which lay uncovered as the tide receded. And what do you think they found in the pockets?” “I cannot imagine.” “No, I don’t think you would guess. Every pocket stuffed with pennies and half-pennies—421pennies and270half-pennies. It was no wonder that it had not been swept away by the tide. But a human body is a different matter. There is a ?erce eddy between the wharf and the house. It seemed likely enough that the weighted coat had remained when the stripped body had been sucked away into the river.” “But I understand that all the other clothes were found in the room. Would the body be dressed in a coat alone?” “No, sir, but the facts might be met speciously enough. Suppose that this man Boone had thrust Neville St. Clair through the window, there is no human eye which could have seen the deed. What would he do then? It would of course instantly strike him that he must get rid of the tell-tale gar- ments. He would seize the coat, then, and be in the act of throwing it out, when it would occur to him that it would swim and not sink. He has little time, for he has heard the scuf?e downstairs when the wife tried to force her way up, and perhaps he has already heard from his Lascar confederate that the police are hurrying up the street. There is 191 TheMan with theTwistedLip not an instant to be lost. He rushes to some secret hoard, where he has accumulated the fruits of his beggary, and he stuffs all the coins upon which he can lay his hands into the pockets to make sure of the coat’s sinking. He throws it out, and would have done the same with the other garments had not he heard the rush of steps below, and only just had time to close the window when the police ap- peared.” “It certainly sounds feasible.” “Well, we will take it as a working hypothesis for want of a better. Boone, as I have told you, was arrested and taken to the station, but it could not be shown that there had ever before been any- thing against him. He had for years been known as a professional beggar, but his life appeared to have been a very quiet and innocent one. There the matter stands at present, and the questions which have to be solved—what Neville St. Clair was do- ing in the opium den, what happened to him when there, where is he now, and what Hugh Boone had to do with his disappearance—are all as far from a solution as ever. I confess that I cannot recall any case within my experience which looked at the ?rst glance so simple and yet which presented such dif?culties.” While Sherlock Holmes had been detailing this singular series of events, we had been whirling through the outskirts of the great town until the last straggling houses had been left behind, and we rattled along with a country hedge upon either side of us. Just as he ?nished, however, we drove through two scattered villages, where a few lights still glimmered in the windows. “We are on the outskirts of Lee,” said my com- panion. “We have touched on three English coun- ties in our short drive, starting in Middlesex, pass- ing over an angle of Surrey, and ending in Kent. See that light among the trees? That is The Cedars, and beside that lamp sits a woman whose anxious ears have already, I have little doubt, caught the clink of our horse’s feet.” “But why are you not conducting the case from Baker Street?” I asked. “Because there are many inquiries which must be made out here. Mrs. St. Clair has most kindly put two rooms at my disposal, and you may rest assured that she will have nothing but a welcome for my friend and colleague. I hate to meet her, Watson, when I have no news of her husband. Here we are. Whoa, there, whoa!” We had pulled up in front of a large villa which stood within its own grounds. A stable-boy had run out to the horse’s head, and springing down, I followed Holmes up the small, winding gravel- drive which led to the house. As we approached, the door ?ew open, and a little blonde woman stood in the opening, clad in some sort of light mousseline de soie, with a touch of ?uffy pink chiffon at her neck and wrists. She stood with her ?gure outlined against the ?ood of light, one hand upon the door, one half-raised in her eager- ness, her body slightly bent, her head and face pro- truded, with eager eyes and parted lips, a standing question. “Well?” she cried, “well?” And then, seeing that there were two of us, she gave a cry of hope which sank into a groan as she saw that my com- panion shook his head and shrugged his shoul- ders. “No good news?” “None.” “No bad?” “No.” “Thank God for that. But come in. You must be weary, for you have had a long day.” “This is my friend, Dr. Watson. He has been of most vital use to me in several of my cases, and a lucky chance has made it possible for me to bring him out and associate him with this investigation.” “I am delighted to see you,” said she, press- ing my hand warmly. “You will, I am sure, for- give anything that may be wanting in our arrange- ments, when you consider the blow which has come so suddenly upon us.” “My dear madam,” said I, “I am an old cam- paigner, and if I were not I can very well see that no apology is needed. If I can be of any assistance, either to you or to my friend here, I shall be indeed happy.” “Now, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said the lady as we entered a well-lit dining-room, upon the ta- ble of which a cold supper had been laid out, “I should very much like to ask you one or two plain questions, to which I beg that you will give a plain answer.” “Certainly, madam.” “Do not trouble about my feelings. I am not hysterical, nor given to fainting. I simply wish to hear your real, real opinion.” “Upon what point?” “In your heart of hearts, do you think that Neville is alive?” Sherlock Holmes seemed to be embarrassed by the question. “Frankly, now!” she repeated, stand- ing upon the rug and looking keenly down at him as he leaned back in a basket-chair. 192 TheMan with theTwistedLip “Frankly, then, madam, I do not.” “You think that he is dead?” “I do.” “Murdered?” “I don’t say that. Perhaps.” “And on what day did he meet his death?” “On Monday.” “Then perhaps, Mr. Holmes, you will be good enough to explain how it is that I have received a letter from him to-day.” Sherlock Holmes sprang out of his chair as if he had been galvanised. “What!” he roared. “Yes, to-day.” She stood smiling, holding up a little slip of paper in the air. “May I see it?” “Certainly.” He snatched it from her in his eagerness, and smoothing it out upon the table he drew over the lamp and examined it intently. I had left my chair and was gazing at it over his shoulder. The enve- lope was a very coarse one and was stamped with the Gravesend postmark and with the date of that very day, or rather of the day before, for it was considerably after midnight. “Coarse writing,” murmured Holmes. “Surely this is not your husband’s writing, madam.” “No, but the enclosure is.” “I perceive also that whoever addressed the en- velope had to go and inquire as to the address.” “How can you tell that?” “The name, you see, is in perfectly black ink, which has dried itself. The rest is of the greyish colour, which shows that blotting-paper has been used. If it had been written straight off, and then blotted, none would be of a deep black shade. This man has written the name, and there has then been a pause before he wrote the address, which can only mean that he was not familiar with it. It is, of course, a tri?e, but there is nothing so important as tri?es. Let us now see the letter. Ha! there has been an enclosure here!” “Yes, there was a ring. His signet-ring.” “And you are sure that this is your husband’s hand?” “One of his hands.” “One?” “His hand when he wrote hurriedly. It is very unlike his usual writing, and yet I know it well.” “Dearest do not be frightened. All will come well. There is a huge error which it may take some little time to rectify. Wait in patience. “Neville. Written in pencil upon the ?y-leaf of a book, octavo size, no water-mark. Hum! Posted to-day in Gravesend by a man with a dirty thumb. Ha! And the ?ap has been gummed, if I am not very much in error, by a person who had been chewing tobacco. And you have no doubt that it is your husband’s hand, madam?” “None. Neville wrote those words.” “And they were posted to-day at Gravesend. Well, Mrs. St. Clair, the clouds lighten, though I should not venture to say that the danger is over.” “But he must be alive, Mr. Holmes.” “Unless this is a clever forgery to put us on the wrong scent. The ring, after all, proves nothing. It may have been taken from him.” “No, no; it is, it is his very own writing!” “Very well. It may, however, have been written on Monday and only posted to-day.” “That is possible.” “If so, much may have happened between.” “Oh, you must not discourage me, Mr. Holmes. I know that all is well with him. There is so keen a sympathy between us that I should know if evil came upon him. On the very day that I saw him last he cut himself in the bedroom, and yet I in the dining-room rushed upstairs instantly with the ut- most certainty that something had happened. Do you think that I would respond to such a tri?e and yet be ignorant of his death?” “I have seen too much not to know that the im- pression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner. And in this letter you certainly have a very strong piece of evidence to corroborate your view. But if your hus- band is alive and able to write letters, why should he remain away from you?” “I cannot imagine. It is unthinkable.” “And on Monday he made no remarks before leaving you?” “No.” “And you were surprised to see him in Swan- dam Lane?” “Very much so.” “Was the window open?” “Yes.” “Then he might have called to you?” “He might.” 193 TheMan with theTwistedLip “He only, as I understand, gave an inarticulate cry?” “Yes.” “A call for help, you thought?” “Yes. He waved his hands.” “But it might have been a cry of surprise. As- tonishment at the unexpected sight of you might cause him to throw up his hands?” “It is possible.” “And you thought he was pulled back?” “He disappeared so suddenly.” “He might have leaped back. You did not see anyone else in the room?” “No, but this horrible man confessed to having been there, and the Lascar was at the foot of the stairs.” “Quite so. Your husband, as far as you could see, had his ordinary clothes on?” “But without his collar or tie. I distinctly saw his bare throat.” “Had he ever spoken of Swandam Lane?” “Never.” “Had he ever showed any signs of having taken opium?” “Never.” “Thank you, Mrs. St. Clair. Those are the prin- cipal points about which I wished to be abso- lutely clear. We shall now have a little supper and then retire, for we may have a very busy day to- morrow.” A large and comfortable double-bedded room had been placed at our disposal, and I was quickly between the sheets, for I was weary after my night of adventure. Sherlock Holmes was a man, how- ever, who, when he had an unsolved problem upon his mind, would go for days, and even for a week, without rest, turning it over, rearranging his facts, looking at it from every point of view until he had either fathomed it or convinced him- self that his data were insuf?cient. It was soon evident to me that he was now preparing for an all-night sitting. He took off his coat and waist- coat, put on a large blue dressing-gown, and then wandered about the room collecting pillows from his bed and cushions from the sofa and armchairs. With these he constructed a sort of Eastern divan, upon which he perched himself cross-legged, with an ounce of shag tobacco and a box of matches laid out in front of him. In the dim light of the lamp I saw him sitting there, an old briar pipe between his lips, his eyes ?xed vacantly upon the corner of the ceiling, the blue smoke curling up from him, silent, motionless, with the light shining upon his strong-set aquiline features. So he sat as I dropped off to sleep, and so he sat when a sudden ejac- ulation caused me to wake up, and I found the summer sun shining into the apartment. The pipe was still between his lips, the smoke still curled upward, and the room was full of a dense tobacco haze, but nothing remained of the heap of shag which I had seen upon the previous night. “Awake, Watson?” he asked. “Yes.” “Game for a morning drive?” “Certainly.” “Then dress. No one is stirring yet, but I know where the stable-boy sleeps, and we shall soon have the trap out.” He chuckled to himself as he spoke, his eyes twinkled, and he seemed a dif- ferent man to the sombre thinker of the previous night. As I dressed I glanced at my watch. It was no wonder that no one was stirring. It was twenty- ?ve minutes past four. I had hardly ?nished when Holmes returned with the news that the boy was putting in the horse. “I want to test a little theory of mine,” said he, pulling on his boots. “I think, Watson, that you are now standing in the presence of one of the most absolute fools in Europe. I deserve to be kicked from here to Charing Cross. But I think I have the key of the affair now.” “And where is it?” I asked, smiling. “In the bathroom,” he answered. “Oh, yes, I am not joking,” he continued, seeing my look of incredulity. “I have just been there, and I have taken it out, and I have got it in this Gladstone bag. Come on, my boy, and we shall see whether it will not ?t the lock.” We made our way downstairs as quietly as pos- sible, and out into the bright morning sunshine. In the road stood our horse and trap, with the half-clad stable-boy waiting at the head. We both sprang in, and away we dashed down the London Road. A few country carts were stirring, bearing in vegetables to the metropolis, but the lines of villas on either side were as silent and lifeless as some city in a dream. “It has been in some points a singular case,” said Holmes, ?icking the horse on into a gallop. “I confess that I have been as blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.” In town the earliest risers were just begin- ning to look sleepily from their windows as we 194 TheMan with theTwistedLip drove through the streets of the Surrey side. Pass- ing down the Waterloo Bridge Road we crossed over the river, and dashing up Wellington Street wheeled sharply to the right and found ourselves in Bow Street. Sherlock Holmes was well known to the force, and the two constables at the door saluted him. One of them held the horse’s head while the other led us in. “Who is on duty?” asked Holmes. “Inspector Bradstreet, sir.” “Ah, Bradstreet, how are you?” A tall, stout of- ?cial had come down the stone-?agged passage, in a peaked cap and frogged jacket. “I wish to have a quiet word with you, Bradstreet.” “Certainly, Mr. Holmes. Step into my room here.” It was a small, of?ce-like room, with a huge ledger upon the ta- ble, and a telephone projecting from the wall. The inspector sat down at his desk. “What can I do for you, Mr. Holmes?” “I called about that beggarman, Boone—the one who was charged with being concerned in the disappearance of Mr. Neville St. Clair, of Lee.” “Yes. He was brought up and remanded for further inquiries.” “So I heard. You have him here?” “In the cells.” “Is he quiet?” “Oh, he gives no trouble. But he is a dirty scoundrel.” “Dirty?” “Yes, it is all we can do to make him wash his hands, and his face is as black as a tinker’s. Well, when once his case has been settled, he will have a regular prison bath; and I think, if you saw him, you would agree with me that he needed it.” “I should like to see him very much.” “Would you? That is easily done. Come this way. You can leave your bag.” “No, I think that I’ll take it.” “Very good. Come this way, if you please.” He led us down a passage, opened a barred door, passed down a winding stair, and brought us to a whitewashed corridor with a line of doors on each side. “The third on the right is his,” said the inspec- tor. “Here it is!” He quietly shot back a panel in the upper part of the door and glanced through. “He is asleep,” said he. “You can see him very well.” We both put our eyes to the grating. The pris- oner lay with his face towards us, in a very deep sleep, breathing slowly and heavily. He was a middle-sized man, coarsely clad as became his calling, with a coloured shirt protruding through the rent in his tattered coat. He was, as the inspec- tor had said, extremely dirty, but the grime which covered his face could not conceal its repulsive ug- liness. A broad wheal from an old scar ran right across it from eye to chin, and by its contraction had turned up one side of the upper lip, so that three teeth were exposed in a perpetual snarl. A shock of very bright red hair grew low over his eyes and forehead. “He’s a beauty, isn’t he?” said the inspector. “He certainly needs a wash,” remarked Holmes. “I had an idea that he might, and I took the liberty of bringing the tools with me.” He opened the Gladstone bag as he spoke, and took out, to my astonishment, a very large bath-sponge. “He! he! You are a funny one,” chuckled the inspector. “Now, if you will have the great goodness to open that door very quietly, we will soon make him cut a much more respectable ?gure.” “Well, I don’t know why not,” said the inspec- tor. “He doesn’t look a credit to the Bow Street cells, does he?” He slipped his key into the lock, and we all very quietly entered the cell. The sleeper half turned, and then settled down once more into a deep slumber. Holmes stooped to the water-jug, moistened his sponge, and then rubbed it twice vigorously across and down the prisoner’s face. “Let me introduce you,” he shouted, “to Mr. Neville St. Clair, of Lee, in the county of Kent.” Never in my life have I seen such a sight. The man’s face peeled off under the sponge like the bark from a tree. Gone was the coarse brown tint! Gone, too, was the horrid scar which had seamed it across, and the twisted lip which had given the repulsive sneer to the face! A twitch brought away the tangled red hair, and there, sitting up in his bed, was a pale, sad-faced, re?ned-looking man, black-haired and smooth-skinned, rubbing his eyes and staring about him with sleepy bewil- derment. Then suddenly realising the exposure, he broke into a scream and threw himself down with his face to the pillow. “Great heavens!” cried the inspector, “it is, in- deed, the missing man. I know him from the pho- tograph.” 195 TheMan with theTwistedLip The prisoner turned with the reckless air of a man who abandons himself to his destiny. “Be it so,” said he. “And pray what am I charged with?” “With making away with Mr. Neville St.—Oh, come, you can’t be charged with that unless they make a case of attempted suicide of it,” said the inspector with a grin. “Well, I have been twenty- seven years in the force, but this really takes the cake.” “If I am Mr. Neville St. Clair, then it is obvi- ous that no crime has been committed, and that, therefore, I am illegally detained.” “No crime, but a very great error has been com- mitted,” said Holmes. “You would have done bet- ter to have trusted your wife.” “It was not the wife; it was the children,” groaned the prisoner. “God help me, I would not have them ashamed of their father. My God! What an exposure! What can I do?” Sherlock Holmes sat down beside him on the couch and patted him kindly on the shoulder. “If you leave it to a court of law to clear the matter up,” said he, “of course you can hardly avoid publicity. On the other hand, if you convince the police authorities that there is no possible case against you, I do not know that there is any reason that the details should ?nd their way into the pa- pers. Inspector Bradstreet would, I am sure, make notes upon anything which you might tell us and submit it to the proper authorities. The case would then never go into court at all.” “God bless you!” cried the prisoner passion- ately. “I would have endured imprisonment, ay, even execution, rather than have left my miserable secret as a family blot to my children. “You are the ?rst who have ever heard my story. My father was a schoolmaster in Chester- ?eld, where I received an excellent education. I travelled in my youth, took to the stage, and ?- nally became a reporter on an evening paper in London. One day my editor wished to have a se- ries of articles upon begging in the metropolis, and I volunteered to supply them. There was the point from which all my adventures started. It was only by trying begging as an amateur that I could get the facts upon which to base my articles. When an actor I had, of course, learned all the secrets of making up, and had been famous in the green- room for my skill. I took advantage now of my attainments. I painted my face, and to make my- self as pitiable as possible I made a good scar and ?xed one side of my lip in a twist by the aid of a small slip of ?esh-coloured plaster. Then with a red head of hair, and an appropriate dress, I took my station in the business part of the city, osten- sibly as a match-seller but really as a beggar. For seven hours I plied my trade, and when I returned home in the evening I found to my surprise that I had received no less than26s.4d. “I wrote my articles and thought little more of the matter until, some time later, I backed a bill for a friend and had a writ served upon me for£25. I was at my wit’s end where to get the money, but a sudden idea came to me. I begged a fortnight’s grace from the creditor, asked for a holiday from my employers, and spent the time in begging in the City under my disguise. In ten days I had the money and had paid the debt. “Well, you can imagine how hard it was to set- tle down to arduous work at£2a week when I knew that I could earn as much in a day by smear- ing my face with a little paint, laying my cap on the ground, and sitting still. It was a long ?ght between my pride and the money, but the dollars won at last, and I threw up reporting and sat day after day in the corner which I had ?rst chosen, inspiring pity by my ghastly face and ?lling my pockets with coppers. Only one man knew my se- cret. He was the keeper of a low den in which I used to lodge in Swandam Lane, where I could every morning emerge as a squalid beggar and in the evenings transform myself into a well-dressed man about town. This fellow, a Lascar, was well paid by me for his rooms, so that I knew that my secret was safe in his possession. “Well, very soon I found that I was saving con- siderable sums of money. I do not mean that any beggar in the streets of London could earn£700a year—which is less than my average takings—but I had exceptional advantages in my power of mak- ing up, and also in a facility of repartee, which improved by practice and made me quite a recog- nised character in the City. All day a stream of pennies, varied by silver, poured in upon me, and it was a very bad day in which I failed to take£2. “As I grew richer I grew more ambitious, took a house in the country, and eventually married, without anyone having a suspicion as to my real occupation. My dear wife knew that I had busi- ness in the City. She little knew what. “Last Monday I had ?nished for the day and was dressing in my room above the opium den when I looked out of my window and saw, to my horror and astonishment, that my wife was stand- ing in the street, with her eyes ?xed full upon me. I gave a cry of surprise, threw up my arms to cover my face, and, rushing to my con?dant, the Lascar, 196 entreated him to prevent anyone from coming up to me. I heard her voice downstairs, but I knew that she could not ascend. Swiftly I threw off my clothes, pulled on those of a beggar, and put on my pigments and wig. Even a wife’s eyes could not pierce so complete a disguise. But then it occurred to me that there might be a search in the room, and that the clothes might betray me. I threw open the window, reopening by my violence a small cut which I had in?icted upon myself in the bedroom that morning. Then I seized my coat, which was weighted by the coppers which I had just trans- ferred to it from the leather bag in which I carried my takings. I hurled it out of the window, and it disappeared into the Thames. The other clothes would have followed, but at that moment there was a rush of constables up the stair, and a few minutes after I found, rather, I confess, to my re- lief, that instead of being identi?ed as Mr. Neville St. Clair, I was arrested as his murderer. “I do not know that there is anything else for me to explain. I was determined to preserve my disguise as long as possible, and hence my prefer- ence for a dirty face. Knowing that my wife would be terribly anxious, I slipped off my ring and con- ?ded it to the Lascar at a moment when no con- stable was watching me, together with a hurried scrawl, telling her that she had no cause to fear.” “That note only reached her yesterday,” said Holmes. “Good God! What a week she must have spent!” “The police have watched this Lascar,” said In- spector Bradstreet, “and I can quite understand that he might ?nd it dif?cult to post a letter un- observed. Probably he handed it to some sailor customer of his, who forgot all about it for some days.” “That was it,” said Holmes, nodding approv- ingly; “I have no doubt of it. But have you never been prosecuted for begging?” “Many times; but what was a ?ne to me?” “It must stop here, however,” said Bradstreet. “If the police are to hush this thing up, there must be no more of Hugh Boone.” “I have sworn it by the most solemn oaths which a man can take.” “In that case I think that it is probable that no further steps may be taken. But if you are found again, then all must come out. I am sure, Mr. Holmes, that we are very much indebted to you for having cleared the matter up. I wish I knew how you reach your results.” “I reached this one,” said my friend, “by sit- ting upon ?ve pillows and consuming an ounce of shag. I think, Watson, that if we drive to Baker Street we shall just be in time for breakfast.” The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle Ihad calledupon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, with the intention of wishing him the compliments of the season. He was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing- gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, near at hand. Beside the couch was a wooden chair, and on the angle of the back hung a very seedy and disreputable hard-felt hat, much the worse for wear, and cracked in several places. A lens and a forceps lying upon the seat of the chair suggested that the hat had been suspended in this manner for the purpose of examination. ?You are engaged,? said I; ?perhaps I interrupt you.? ?Not at all. I am glad to have a friend with whom I can discuss my results. The matter is a perfectly trivial one??he jerked his thumb in the direction of the old hat??but there are points in connection with it which are not entirely devoid of interest and even of instruction.? I seated myself in his armchair and warmed my hands before his crackling re, for a sharp frost had set in, and the windows were thick with the ice crystals. ?I suppose,? I remarked, ?that, homely as it looks, this thing has some deadly story linked on to it?that it is the clue which will guide you in the solution of some mystery and the punishment of some crime.? ?No, no. No crime,? said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. ?Only one of those whimsical little inci- dents which will happen when you have four mil- lion human beings all jostling each other within the space of a few square miles. Amid the action and reaction of so dense a swarm of humanity, every possible combination of events may be ex- pected to take place, and many a little problem will be presented which may be striking and bizarre without being criminal. We have already had ex- perience of such.? ?So much so,? I remarked, ?that of the last six cases which I have added to my notes, three have been entirely free of any legal crime.? ?Precisely. You allude to my attempt to recover the Irene Adler papers, to the singular case of Miss Mary Sutherland, and to the adventure of the man with the twisted lip. Well, I have no doubt that this small matter will fall into the same innocent cate- gory. You know Peterson, the commissionaire?? ?Yes.? ?It is to him that this trophy belongs.? ?It is his hat.? ?No, no, he found it. Its owner is unknown. I beg that you will look upon it not as a battered billycock but as an intellectual problem. And, rst, as to how it came here. It arrived upon Christmas morning, in company with a good fat goose, which is, I have no doubt, roasting at this moment in front of Peterson’s re. The facts are these: about four o’clock on Christmas morning, Peterson, who, as you know, is a very honest fellow, was returning from some small jollication and was making his way homeward down Tottenham Court Road. In front of him he saw, in the gaslight, a tallish man, walking with a slight stagger, and carrying a white goose slung over his shoulder. As he reached the corner of Goodge Street, a row broke out between this stranger and a little knot of roughs. One of the latter knocked off the man’s hat, on which he raised his stick to defend himself and, swinging it over his head, smashed the shop window be- hind him. Peterson had rushed forward to pro- tect the stranger from his assailants; but the man, shocked at having broken the window, and seeing an ofcial-looking person in uniform rushing to- wards him, dropped his goose, took to his heels, and vanished amid the labyrinth of small streets which lie at the back of Tottenham Court Road. The roughs had also ed at the appearance of Pe- terson, so that he was left in possession of the eld of battle, and also of the spoils of victory in the shape of this battered hat and a most unimpeach- able Christmas goose.? ?Which surely he restored to their owner?? ?My dear fellow, there lies the problem. It is true that ‘For Mrs. Henry Baker’ was printed upon a small card which was tied to the bird’s left leg, and it is also true that the initials ‘H. B.’ are legible upon the lining of this hat, but as there are some thousands of Bakers, and some hundreds of Henry Bakers in this city of ours, it is not easy to restore lost property to any one of them.? ?What, then, did Peterson do?? ?He brought round both hat and goose to me on Christmas morning, knowing that even the smallest problems are of interest to me. The goose we retained until this morning, when there were signs that, in spite of the slight frost, it would be well that it should be eaten without unnecessary delay. Its nder has carried it off, therefore, to ful- l the ultimate destiny of a goose, while I continue to retain the hat of the unknown gentleman who lost his Christmas dinner.? ?Did he not advertise?? ?No.? 201 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle “Then, what clue could you have as to his iden- tity?” “Only as much as we can deduce.” “From his hat?” “Precisely.” “But you are joking. What can you gather from this old battered felt?” “Here is my lens. You know my methods. What can you gather yourself as to the individ- uality of the man who has worn this article?” I took the tattered object in my hands and turned it over rather ruefully. It was a very or- dinary black hat of the usual round shape, hard and much the worse for wear. The lining had been of red silk, but was a good deal discoloured. There was no maker’s name; but, as Holmes had re- marked, the initials “H. B.” were scrawled upon one side. It was pierced in the brim for a hat- securer, but the elastic was missing. For the rest, it was cracked, exceedingly dusty, and spotted in several places, although there seemed to have been some attempt to hide the discoloured patches by smearing them with ink. “I can see nothing,” said I, handing it back to my friend. “On the contrary, Watson, you can see every- thing. You fail, however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences.” “Then, pray tell me what it is that you can infer from this hat?” He picked it up and gazed at it in the pecu- liar introspective fashion which was characteris- tic of him. “It is perhaps less suggestive than it might have been,” he remarked, “and yet there are a few inferences which are very distinct, and a few others which represent at least a strong balance of probability. That the man was highly intellectual is of course obvious upon the face of it, and also that he was fairly well-to-do within the last three years, although he has now fallen upon evil days. He had foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with the decline of his fortunes, seems to indicate some evil in?uence, probably drink, at work upon him. This may account also for the obvious fact that his wife has ceased to love him.” “My dear Holmes!” “He has, however, retained some degree of self- respect,” he continued, disregarding my remon- strance. “He is a man who leads a sedentary life, goes out little, is out of training entirely, is middle-aged, has grizzled hair which he has had cut within the last few days, and which he anoints with lime-cream. These are the more patent facts which are to be deduced from his hat. Also, by the way, that it is extremely improbable that he has gas laid on in his house.” “You are certainly joking, Holmes.” “Not in the least. Is it possible that even now, when I give you these results, you are unable to see how they are attained?” “I have no doubt that I am very stupid, but I must confess that I am unable to follow you. For example, how did you deduce that this man was intellectual?” For answer Holmes clapped the hat upon his head. It came right over the forehead and settled upon the bridge of his nose. “It is a question of cu- bic capacity,” said he; “a man with so large a brain must have something in it.” “The decline of his fortunes, then?” “This hat is three years old. These ?at brims curled at the edge came in then. It is a hat of the very best quality. Look at the band of ribbed silk and the excellent lining. If this man could afford to buy so expensive a hat three years ago, and has had no hat since, then he has assuredly gone down in the world.” “Well, that is clear enough, certainly. But how about the foresight and the moral retrogression?” Sherlock Holmes laughed. “Here is the fore- sight,” said he putting his ?nger upon the little disc and loop of the hat-securer. “They are never sold upon hats. If this man ordered one, it is a sign of a certain amount of foresight, since he went out of his way to take this precaution against the wind. But since we see that he has broken the elas- tic and has not troubled to replace it, it is obvious that he has less foresight now than formerly, which is a distinct proof of a weakening nature. On the other hand, he has endeavoured to conceal some of these stains upon the felt by daubing them with ink, which is a sign that he has not entirely lost his self-respect.” “Your reasoning is certainly plausible.” “The further points, that he is middle-aged, that his hair is grizzled, that it has been recently cut, and that he uses lime-cream, are all to be gath- ered from a close examination of the lower part of the lining. The lens discloses a large number of hair-ends, clean cut by the scissors of the barber. They all appear to be adhesive, and there is a dis- tinct odour of lime-cream. This dust, you will ob- serve, is not the gritty, grey dust of the street but the ?uffy brown dust of the house, showing that it 202 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle has been hung up indoors most of the time, while the marks of moisture upon the inside are proof positive that the wearer perspired very freely, and could therefore, hardly be in the best of training.” “But his wife—you said that she had ceased to love him.” “This hat has not been brushed for weeks. When I see you, my dear Watson, with a week’s ac- cumulation of dust upon your hat, and when your wife allows you to go out in such a state, I shall fear that you also have been unfortunate enough to lose your wife’s affection.” “But he might be a bachelor.” “Nay, he was bringing home the goose as a peace-offering to his wife. Remember the card upon the bird’s leg.” “You have an answer to everything. But how on earth do you deduce that the gas is not laid on in his house?” “One tallow stain, or even two, might come by chance; but when I see no less than ?ve, I think that there can be little doubt that the individual must be brought into frequent contact with burn- ing tallow—walks upstairs at night probably with his hat in one hand and a guttering candle in the other. Anyhow, he never got tallow-stains from a gas-jet. Are you satis?ed?” “Well, it is very ingenious,” said I, laughing; “but since, as you said just now, there has been no crime committed, and no harm done save the loss of a goose, all this seems to be rather a waste of energy.” Sherlock Holmes had opened his mouth to re- ply, when the door ?ew open, and Peterson, the commissionaire, rushed into the apartment with ?ushed cheeks and the face of a man who is dazed with astonishment. “The goose, Mr. Holmes! The goose, sir!” he gasped. “Eh? What of it, then? Has it returned to life and ?apped off through the kitchen window?” Holmes twisted himself round upon the sofa to get a fairer view of the man’s excited face. “See here, sir! See what my wife found in its crop!” He held out his hand and displayed upon the centre of the palm a brilliantly scintillating blue stone, rather smaller than a bean in size, but of such purity and radiance that it twinkled like an electric point in the dark hollow of his hand. Sherlock Holmes sat up with a whistle. “By Jove, Peterson!” said he, “this is treasure trove in- deed. I suppose you know what you have got?” “A diamond, sir? A precious stone. It cuts into glass as though it were putty.” “It’s more than a precious stone. It is the pre- cious stone.” “Not the Countess of Morcar’s blue carbuncle!” I ejaculated. “Precisely so. I ought to know its size and shape, seeing that I have read the advertisement about it in The Times every day lately. It is ab- solutely unique, and its value can only be conjec- tured, but the reward offered of£1000is certainly not within a twentieth part of the market price.” “A thousand pounds! Great Lord of mercy!” The commissionaire plumped down into a chair and stared from one to the other of us. “That is the reward, and I have reason to know that there are sentimental considerations in the background which would induce the Countess to part with half her fortune if she could but recover the gem.” “It was lost, if I remember aright, at the Hotel Cosmopolitan,” I remarked. “Precisely so, on December22nd, just ?ve days ago. John Horner, a plumber, was accused of hav- ing abstracted it from the lady’s jewel-case. The evidence against him was so strong that the case has been referred to the Assizes. I have some ac- count of the matter here, I believe.” He rummaged amid his newspapers, glancing over the dates, un- til at last he smoothed one out, doubled it over, and read the following paragraph:“Hotel Cosmopolitan Jewel Robbery. John Horner,26, plumber, was brought up upon the charge of having upon the22nd inst., abstracted from the jewel-case of the Count- ess of Morcar the valuable gem known as the blue carbuncle. James Ryder, upper- attendant at the hotel, gave his evidence to the effect that he had shown Horner up to the dressing-room of the Countess of Morcar upon the day of the robbery in order that he might solder the second bar of the grate, which was loose. He had re- mained with Horner some little time, but had ?nally been called away. On return- ing, he found that Horner had disappeared, that the bureau had been forced open, and that the small morocco casket in which, as it afterwards transpired, the Countess was accustomed to keep her jewel, was lying empty upon the dressing-table. Ryder in- stantly gave the alarm, and Horner was ar- rested the same evening; but the stone could 203 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle not be found either upon his person or in his rooms. Catherine Cusack, maid to the Countess, deposed to having heard Ryder’s cry of dismay on discovering the robbery, and to having rushed into the room, where she found matters as described by the last witness. Inspector Bradstreet, B division, gave evidence as to the arrest of Horner, who struggled frantically, and protested his innocence in the strongest terms. Evidence of a previous conviction for robbery having been given against the prisoner, the magis- trate refused to deal summarily with the of- fence, but referred it to the Assizes. Horner, who had shown signs of intense emotion during the proceedings, fainted away at the conclusion and was carried out of court.”“Hum! So much for the police-court,” said Holmes thoughtfully, tossing aside the paper. “The ques- tion for us now to solve is the sequence of events leading from a ri?ed jewel-case at one end to the crop of a goose in Tottenham Court Road at the other. You see, Watson, our little deductions have suddenly assumed a much more important and less innocent aspect. Here is the stone; the stone came from the goose, and the goose came from Mr. Henry Baker, the gentleman with the bad hat and all the other characteristics with which I have bored you. So now we must set ourselves very seriously to ?nding this gentleman and ascertain- ing what part he has played in this little mystery. To do this, we must try the simplest means ?rst, and these lie undoubtedly in an advertisement in all the evening papers. If this fail, I shall have re- course to other methods.” “What will you say?” “Give me a pencil and that slip of paper. Now, then: ‘Found at the corner of Goodge Street, a goose and a black felt hat. Mr. Henry Baker can have the same by applying at6.30this evening at221b, Baker Street.’ That is clear and con- cise.” “Very. But will he see it?” “Well, he is sure to keep an eye on the papers, since, to a poor man, the loss was a heavy one. He was clearly so scared by his mischance in breaking the window and by the approach of Peterson that he thought of nothing but ?ight, but since then he must have bitterly regretted the impulse which caused him to drop his bird. Then, again, the in- troduction of his name will cause him to see it, for everyone who knows him will direct his attention to it. Here you are, Peterson, run down to the ad- vertising agency and have this put in the evening papers.” “In which, sir?” “Oh, in theGlobe, Star, Pall Mall, St. James’s, Evening News, Standard, Echo,and any others that occur to you.” “Very well, sir. And this stone?” “Ah, yes, I shall keep the stone. Thank you. And, I say, Peterson, just buy a goose on your way back and leave it here with me, for we must have one to give to this gentleman in place of the one which your family is now devouring.” When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes took up the stone and held it against the light. “It’s a bonny thing,” said he. “Just see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil’s pet baits. In the larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a bloody deed. This stone is not yet twenty years old. It was found in the banks of the Amoy River in southern China and is remark- able in having every characteristic of the carbun- cle, save that it is blue in shade instead of ruby red. In spite of its youth, it has already a sinister history. There have been two murders, a vitriol- throwing, a suicide, and several robberies brought about for the sake of this forty-grain weight of crystallised charcoal. Who would think that so pretty a toy would be a purveyor to the gallows and the prison? I’ll lock it up in my strong box now and drop a line to the Countess to say that we have it.” “Do you think that this man Horner is inno- cent?” “I cannot tell.” “Well, then, do you imagine that this other one, Henry Baker, had anything to do with the matter?” “It is, I think, much more likely that Henry Baker is an absolutely innocent man, who had no idea that the bird which he was carrying was of considerably more value than if it were made of solid gold. That, however, I shall determine by a very simple test if we have an answer to our ad- vertisement.” “And you can do nothing until then?” “Nothing.” “In that case I shall continue my professional round. But I shall come back in the evening at the hour you have mentioned, for I should like to see the solution of so tangled a business.” “Very glad to see you. I dine at seven. There is a woodcock, I believe. By the way, in view of recent 204 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle occurrences, perhaps I ought to ask Mrs. Hudson to examine its crop.” I had been delayed at a case, and it was a little after half-past six when I found myself in Baker Street once more. As I approached the house I saw a tall man in a Scotch bonnet with a coat which was buttoned up to his chin waiting outside in the bright semicircle which was thrown from the fan- light. Just as I arrived the door was opened, and we were shown up together to Holmes’ room. “Mr. Henry Baker, I believe,” said he, rising from his armchair and greeting his visitor with the easy air of geniality which he could so readily as- sume. “Pray take this chair by the ?re, Mr. Baker. It is a cold night, and I observe that your circula- tion is more adapted for summer than for winter. Ah, Watson, you have just come at the right time. Is that your hat, Mr. Baker?” “Yes, sir, that is undoubtedly my hat.” He was a large man with rounded shoulders, a massive head, and a broad, intelligent face, slop- ing down to a pointed beard of grizzled brown. A touch of red in nose and cheeks, with a slight tremor of his extended hand, recalled Holmes’ sur- mise as to his habits. His rusty black frock-coat was buttoned right up in front, with the collar turned up, and his lank wrists protruded from his sleeves without a sign of cuff or shirt. He spoke in a slow staccato fashion, choosing his words with care, and gave the impression generally of a man of learning and letters who had had ill-usage at the hands of fortune. “We have retained these things for some days,” said Holmes, “because we expected to see an ad- vertisement from you giving your address. I am at a loss to know now why you did not advertise.” Our visitor gave a rather shamefaced laugh. “Shillings have not been so plentiful with me as they once were,” he remarked. “I had no doubt that the gang of roughs who assaulted me had car- ried off both my hat and the bird. I did not care to spend more money in a hopeless attempt at recov- ering them.” “Very naturally. By the way, about the bird, we were compelled to eat it.” “To eat it!” Our visitor half rose from his chair in his excitement. “Yes, it would have been of no use to anyone had we not done so. But I presume that this other goose upon the sideboard, which is about the same weight and perfectly fresh, will answer your pur- pose equally well?” “Oh, certainly, certainly,” answered Mr. Baker with a sigh of relief. “Of course, we still have the feathers, legs, crop, and so on of your own bird, so if you wish—” The man burst into a hearty laugh. “They might be useful to me as relics of my adventure,” said he, “but beyond that I can hardly see what use thedisjecta membraof my late acquaintance are going to be to me. No, sir, I think that, with your permission, I will con?ne my attentions to the ex- cellent bird which I perceive upon the sideboard.” Sherlock Holmes glanced sharply across at me with a slight shrug of his shoulders. “There is your hat, then, and there your bird,” said he. “By the way, would it bore you to tell me where you got the other one from? I am somewhat of a fowl fancier, and I have seldom seen a better grown goose.” “Certainly, sir,” said Baker, who had risen and tucked his newly gained property under his arm. “There are a few of us who frequent the Alpha Inn, near the Museum—we are to be found in the Mu- seum itself during the day, you understand. This year our good host, Windigate by name, instituted a goose club, by which, on consideration of some few pence every week, we were each to receive a bird at Christmas. My pence were duly paid, and the rest is familiar to you. I am much indebted to you, sir, for a Scotch bonnet is ?tted neither to my years nor my gravity.” With a comical pomposity of manner he bowed solemnly to both of us and strode off upon his way. “So much for Mr. Henry Baker,” said Holmes when he had closed the door behind him. “It is quite certain that he knows nothing whatever about the matter. Are you hungry, Watson?” “Not particularly.” “Then I suggest that we turn our dinner into a supper and follow up this clue while it is still hot.” “By all means.” It was a bitter night, so we drew on our ul- sters and wrapped cravats about our throats. Out- side, the stars were shining coldly in a cloudless sky, and the breath of the passers-by blew out into smoke like so many pistol shots. Our footfalls rang out crisply and loudly as we swung through the doctors’ quarter, Wimpole Street, Harley Street, and so through Wigmore Street into Oxford Street. In a quarter of an hour we were in Bloomsbury at the Alpha Inn, which is a small public-house at the corner of one of the streets which runs down into 205 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle Holborn. Holmes pushed open the door of the pri- vate bar and ordered two glasses of beer from the ruddy-faced, white-aproned landlord. “Your beer should be excellent if it is as good as your geese,” said he. “My geese!” The man seemed surprised. “Yes. I was speaking only half an hour ago to Mr. Henry Baker, who was a member of your goose club.” “Ah! yes, I see. But you see, sir, them’s not our geese.” “Indeed! Whose, then?” “Well, I got the two dozen from a salesman in Covent Garden.” “Indeed? I know some of them. Which was it?” “Breckinridge is his name.” “Ah! I don’t know him. Well, here’s your good health landlord, and prosperity to your house. Good-night.” “Now for Mr. Breckinridge,” he continued, but- toning up his coat as we came out into the frosty air. “Remember, Watson that though we have so homely a thing as a goose at one end of this chain, we have at the other a man who will certainly get seven years’ penal servitude unless we can estab- lish his innocence. It is possible that our inquiry may but con?rm his guilt; but, in any case, we have a line of investigation which has been missed by the police, and which a singular chance has placed in our hands. Let us follow it out to the bitter end. Faces to the south, then, and quick march!” We passed across Holborn, down Endell Street, and so through a zigzag of slums to Covent Gar- den Market. One of the largest stalls bore the name of Breckinridge upon it, and the proprietor a horsey-looking man, with a sharp face and trim side-whiskers was helping a boy to put up the shutters. “Good-evening. It’s a cold night,” said Holmes. The salesman nodded and shot a questioning glance at my companion. “Sold out of geese, I see,” continued Holmes, pointing at the bare slabs of marble. “Let you have ?ve hundred to-morrow morn- ing.” “That’s no good.” “Well, there are some on the stall with the gas- ?are.” “Ah, but I was recommended to you.” “Who by?” “The landlord of the Alpha.” “Oh, yes; I sent him a couple of dozen.” “Fine birds they were, too. Now where did you get them from?” To my surprise the question provoked a burst of anger from the salesman. “Now, then, mister,” said he, with his head cocked and his arms akimbo, “what are you driv- ing at? Let’s have it straight, now.” “It is straight enough. I should like to know who sold you the geese which you supplied to the Alpha.” “Well then, I shan’t tell you. So now!” “Oh, it is a matter of no importance; but I don’t know why you should be so warm over such a tri- ?e.” “Warm! You’d be as warm, maybe, if you were as pestered as I am. When I pay good money for a good article there should be an end of the busi- ness; but it’s ‘Where are the geese?’ and ‘Who did you sell the geese to?’ and ‘What will you take for the geese?’ One would think they were the only geese in the world, to hear the fuss that is made over them.” “Well, I have no connection with any other peo- ple who have been making inquiries,” said Holmes carelessly. “If you won’t tell us the bet is off, that is all. But I’m always ready to back my opinion on a matter of fowls, and I have a ?ver on it that the bird I ate is country bred.” “Well, then, you’ve lost your ?ver, for it’s town bred,” snapped the salesman. “It’s nothing of the kind.” “I say it is.” “I don’t believe it.” “D’you think you know more about fowls than I, who have handled them ever since I was a nip- per? I tell you, all those birds that went to the Alpha were town bred.” “You’ll never persuade me to believe that.” “Will you bet, then?” “It’s merely taking your money, for I know that I am right. But I’ll have a sovereign on with you, just to teach you not to be obstinate.” The salesman chuckled grimly. “Bring me the books, Bill,” said he. The small boy brought round a small thin vol- ume and a great greasy-backed one, laying them out together beneath the hanging lamp. “Now then, Mr. Cocksure,” said the salesman, “I thought that I was out of geese, but before I ?n- ish you’ll ?nd that there is still one left in my shop. You see this little book?” 206 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle “Well?” “That’s the list of the folk from whom I buy. D’you see? Well, then, here on this page are the country folk, and the numbers after their names are where their accounts are in the big ledger. Now, then! You see this other page in red ink? Well, that is a list of my town suppliers. Now, look at that third name. Just read it out to me.” “Mrs. Oakshott,117, Brixton Road—249,” read Holmes. “Quite so. Now turn that up in the ledger.” Holmes turned to the page indicated. “Here you are, ‘Mrs. Oakshott,117, Brixton Road, egg and poultry supplier.’ ” “Now, then, what’s the last entry?” “ ‘December22nd. Twenty-four geese at7s.6d.’ ” “Quite so. There you are. And underneath?” “ ‘Sold to Mr. Windigate of the Alpha, at12s.’ ” “What have you to say now?” Sherlock Holmes looked deeply chagrined. He drew a sovereign from his pocket and threw it down upon the slab, turning away with the air of a man whose disgust is too deep for words. A few yards off he stopped under a lamp-post and laughed in the hearty, noiseless fashion which was peculiar to him. “When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the ‘Pink ’un’ protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a bet,” said he. “I daresay that if I had put£100down in front of him, that man would not have given me such complete information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was doing me on a wager. Well, Watson, we are, I fancy, nearing the end of our quest, and the only point which remains to be determined is whether we should go on to this Mrs. Oakshott to-night, or whether we should reserve it for to- morrow. It is clear from what that surly fellow said that there are others besides ourselves who are anxious about the matter, and I should—” His remarks were suddenly cut short by a loud hubbub which broke out from the stall which we had just left. Turning round we saw a little rat- faced fellow standing in the centre of the circle of yellow light which was thrown by the swinging lamp, while Breckinridge, the salesman, framed in the door of his stall, was shaking his ?sts ?ercely at the cringing ?gure. “I’ve had enough of you and your geese,” he shouted. “I wish you were all at the devil together. If you come pestering me any more with your silly talk I’ll set the dog at you. You bring Mrs. Oak- shott here and I’ll answer her, but what have you to do with it? Did I buy the geese off you?” “No; but one of them was mine all the same,” whined the little man. “Well, then, ask Mrs. Oakshott for it.” “She told me to ask you.” “Well, you can ask the King of Proosia, for all I care. I’ve had enough of it. Get out of this!” He rushed ?ercely forward, and the inquirer ?it- ted away into the darkness. “Ha! this may save us a visit to Brixton Road,” whispered Holmes. “Come with me, and we will see what is to be made of this fellow.” Strid- ing through the scattered knots of people who lounged round the ?aring stalls, my companion speedily overtook the little man and touched him upon the shoulder. He sprang round, and I could see in the gas-light that every vestige of colour had been driven from his face. “Who are you, then? What do you want?” he asked in a quavering voice. “You will excuse me,” said Holmes blandly, “but I could not help overhearing the questions which you put to the salesman just now. I think that I could be of assistance to you.” “You? Who are you? How could you know anything of the matter?” “My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my busi- ness to know what other people don’t know.” “But you can know nothing of this?” “Excuse me, I know everything of it. You are endeavouring to trace some geese which were sold by Mrs. Oakshott, of Brixton Road, to a salesman named Breckinridge, by him in turn to Mr. Windi- gate, of the Alpha, and by him to his club, of which Mr. Henry Baker is a member.” “Oh, sir, you are the very man whom I have longed to meet,” cried the little fellow with out- stretched hands and quivering ?ngers. “I can hardly explain to you how interested I am in this matter.” Sherlock Holmes hailed a four-wheeler which was passing. “In that case we had better discuss it in a cosy room rather than in this wind-swept market-place,” said he. “But pray tell me, before we go farther, who it is that I have the pleasure of assisting.” The man hesitated for an instant. “My name is John Robinson,” he answered with a sidelong glance. “No, no; the real name,” said Holmes sweetly. “It is always awkward doing business with an alias.” 207 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle A ?ush sprang to the white cheeks of the stranger. “Well then,” said he, “my real name is James Ryder.” “Precisely so. Head attendant at the Hotel Cos- mopolitan. Pray step into the cab, and I shall soon be able to tell you everything which you would wish to know.” The little man stood glancing from one to the other of us with half-frightened, half-hopeful eyes, as one who is not sure whether he is on the verge of a windfall or of a catastrophe. Then he stepped into the cab, and in half an hour we were back in the sitting-room at Baker Street. Nothing had been said during our drive, but the high, thin breath- ing of our new companion, and the claspings and unclaspings of his hands, spoke of the nervous ten- sion within him. “Here we are!” said Holmes cheerily as we ?led into the room. “The ?re looks very seasonable in this weather. You look cold, Mr. Ryder. Pray take the basket-chair. I will just put on my slippers be- fore we settle this little matter of yours. Now, then! You want to know what became of those geese?” “Yes, sir.” “Or rather, I fancy, of that goose. It was one bird, I imagine in which you were inter- ested—white, with a black bar across the tail.” Ryder quivered with emotion. “Oh, sir,” he cried, “can you tell me where it went to?” “It came here.” “Here?” “Yes, and a most remarkable bird it proved. I don’t wonder that you should take an interest in it. It laid an egg after it was dead—the bonniest, brightest little blue egg that ever was seen. I have it here in my museum.” Our visitor staggered to his feet and clutched the mantelpiece with his right hand. Holmes un- locked his strong-box and held up the blue carbun- cle, which shone out like a star, with a cold, bril- liant, many-pointed radiance. Ryder stood glaring with a drawn face, uncertain whether to claim or to disown it. “The game’s up, Ryder,” said Holmes quietly. “Hold up, man, or you’ll be into the ?re! Give him an arm back into his chair, Watson. He’s not got blood enough to go in for felony with impunity. Give him a dash of brandy. So! Now he looks a lit- tle more human. What a shrimp it is, to be sure!” For a moment he had staggered and nearly fallen, but the brandy brought a tinge of colour into his cheeks, and he sat staring with frightened eyes at his accuser. “I have almost every link in my hands, and all the proofs which I could possibly need, so there is little which you need tell me. Still, that little may as well be cleared up to make the case com- plete. You had heard, Ryder, of this blue stone of the Countess of Morcar’s?” “It was Catherine Cusack who told me of it,” said he in a crackling voice. “I see—her ladyship’s waiting-maid. Well, the temptation of sudden wealth so easily acquired was too much for you, as it has been for better men before you; but you were not very scrupu- lous in the means you used. It seems to me, Ry- der, that there is the making of a very pretty vil- lain in you. You knew that this man Horner, the plumber, had been concerned in some such mat- ter before, and that suspicion would rest the more readily upon him. What did you do, then? You made some small job in my lady’s room—you and your confederate Cusack—and you managed that he should be the man sent for. Then, when he had left, you ri?ed the jewel-case, raised the alarm, and had this unfortunate man arrested. You then—” Ryder threw himself down suddenly upon the rug and clutched at my companion’s knees. “For God’s sake, have mercy!” he shrieked. “Think of my father! Of my mother! It would break their hearts. I never went wrong before! I never will again. I swear it. I’ll swear it on a Bible. Oh, don’t bring it into court! For Christ’s sake, don’t!” “Get back into your chair!” said Holmes sternly. “It is very well to cringe and crawl now, but you thought little enough of this poor Horner in the dock for a crime of which he knew nothing.” “I will ?y, Mr. Holmes. I will leave the country, sir. Then the charge against him will break down.” “Hum! We will talk about that. And now let us hear a true account of the next act. How came the stone into the goose, and how came the goose into the open market? Tell us the truth, for there lies your only hope of safety.” Ryder passed his tongue over his parched lips. “I will tell you it just as it happened, sir,” said he. “When Horner had been arrested, it seemed to me that it would be best for me to get away with the stone at once, for I did not know at what mo- ment the police might not take it into their heads to search me and my room. There was no place about the hotel where it would be safe. I went out, 208 TheAdventure of theBlueCarbuncle as if on some commission, and I made for my sis- ter’s house. She had married a man named Oak- shott, and lived in Brixton Road, where she fat- tened fowls for the market. All the way there ev- ery man I met seemed to me to be a policeman or a detective; and, for all that it was a cold night, the sweat was pouring down my face before I came to the Brixton Road. My sister asked me what was the matter, and why I was so pale; but I told her that I had been upset by the jewel robbery at the hotel. Then I went into the back yard and smoked a pipe and wondered what it would be best to do. “I had a friend once called Maudsley, who went to the bad, and has just been serving his time in Pentonville. One day he had met me, and fell into talk about the ways of thieves, and how they could get rid of what they stole. I knew that he would be true to me, for I knew one or two things about him; so I made up my mind to go right on to Kil- burn, where he lived, and take him into my con?- dence. He would show me how to turn the stone into money. But how to get to him in safety? I thought of the agonies I had gone through in com- ing from the hotel. I might at any moment be seized and searched, and there would be the stone in my waistcoat pocket. I was leaning against the wall at the time and looking at the geese which were waddling about round my feet, and suddenly an idea came into my head which showed me how I could beat the best detective that ever lived. “My sister had told me some weeks before that I might have the pick of her geese for a Christmas present, and I knew that she was always as good as her word. I would take my goose now, and in it I would carry my stone to Kilburn. There was a little shed in the yard, and behind this I drove one of the birds—a ?ne big one, white, with a barred tail. I caught it, and prying its bill open, I thrust the stone down its throat as far as my ?n- ger could reach. The bird gave a gulp, and I felt the stone pass along its gullet and down into its crop. But the creature ?apped and struggled, and out came my sister to know what was the matter. As I turned to speak to her the brute broke loose and ?uttered off among the others. “ ‘Whatever were you doing with that bird, Jem?’ says she. “ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘you said you’d give me one for Christmas, and I was feeling which was the fat- test.’ “ ‘Oh,’ says she, ‘we’ve set yours aside for you—Jem’s bird, we call it. It’s the big white one over yonder. There’s twenty-six of them, which makes one for you, and one for us, and two dozen for the market.’ “ ‘Thank you, Maggie,’ says I; ‘but if it is all the same to you, I’d rather have that one I was han- dling just now.’ “ ‘The other is a good three pound heavier,’ said she, ‘and we fattened it expressly for you.’ “ ‘Never mind. I’ll have the other, and I’ll take it now,’ said I. “ ‘Oh, just as you like,’ said she, a little huffed. ‘Which is it you want, then?’ “ ‘That white one with the barred tail, right in the middle of the ?ock.’ “ ‘Oh, very well. Kill it and take it with you.’ “Well, I did what she said, Mr. Holmes, and I carried the bird all the way to Kilburn. I told my pal what I had done, for he was a man that it was easy to tell a thing like that to. He laughed until he choked, and we got a knife and opened the goose. My heart turned to water, for there was no sign of the stone, and I knew that some terrible mistake had occurred. I left the bird, rushed back to my sister’s, and hurried into the back yard. There was not a bird to be seen there. “ ‘Where are they all, Maggie?’ I cried. “ ‘Gone to the dealer’s, Jem.’ “ ‘Which dealer’s?’ “ ‘Breckinridge, of Covent Garden.’ “ ‘But was there another with a barred tail?’ I asked, ‘the same as the one I chose?’ “ ‘Yes, Jem; there were two barred-tailed ones, and I could never tell them apart.’ “Well, then, of course I saw it all, and I ran off as hard as my feet would carry me to this man Breckinridge; but he had sold the lot at once, and not one word would he tell me as to where they had gone. You heard him yourselves to-night. Well, he has always answered me like that. My sis- ter thinks that I am going mad. Sometimes I think that I am myself. And now—and now I am myself a branded thief, without ever having touched the wealth for which I sold my character. God help me! God help me!” He burst into convulsive sob- bing, with his face buried in his hands. There was a long silence, broken only by his heavy breathing and by the measured tapping of Sherlock Holmes’ ?nger-tips upon the edge of the table. Then my friend rose and threw open the door. “Get out!” said he. “What, sir! Oh, Heaven bless you!” 209 “No more words. Get out!” And no more words were needed. There was a rush, a clatter upon the stairs, the bang of a door, and the crisp rattle of running footfalls from the street. “After all, Watson,” said Holmes, reaching up his hand for his clay pipe, “I am not retained by the police to supply their de?ciencies. If Horner were in danger it would be another thing; but this fel- low will not appear against him, and the case must collapse. I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong again; he is too terribly frightened. Send him to jail now, and you make him a jail-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of forgiveness. Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward. If you will have the goodness to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another in- vestigation, in which, also a bird will be the chief feature.” The Adventure of the Speckled Band TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand On glancingover my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I nd many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquire- ment of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic. Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than that which was associated with the well-known Surrey fam- ily of the Roylotts of Stoke Moran. The events in question occurred in the early days of my associ- ation with Holmes, when we were sharing rooms as bachelors in Baker Street. It is possible that I might have placed them upon record before, but a promise of secrecy was made at the time, from which I have only been freed during the last month by the untimely death of the lady to whom the pledge was given. It is perhaps as well that the facts should now come to light, for I have reasons to know that there are widespread rumours as to the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott which tend to make the matter even more terrible than the truth. It was early in April in the year ’83that I woke one morning to nd Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by the side of my bed. He was a late riser, as a rule, and as the clock on the man- telpiece showed me that it was only a quarter-past seven, I blinked up at him in some surprise, and perhaps just a little resentment, for I was myself regular in my habits. ?Very sorry to knock you up, Watson,? said he, ?but it’s the common lot this morning. Mrs. Hud- son has been knocked up, she retorted upon me, and I on you.? ?What is it, then?a re?? ?No; a client. It seems that a young lady has arrived in a considerable state of excitement, who insists upon seeing me. She is waiting now in the sitting-room. Now, when young ladies wander about the metropolis at this hour of the morning, and knock sleepy people up out of their beds, I presume that it is something very pressing which they have to communicate. Should it prove to be an interesting case, you would, I am sure, wish to follow it from the outset. I thought, at any rate, that I should call you and give you the chance.? ?My dear fellow, I would not miss it for any- thing.? I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his professional investigations, and in admiring the rapid deductions, as swift as intu- itions, and yet always founded on a logical ba- sis with which he unravelled the problems which were submitted to him. I rapidly threw on my clothes and was ready in a few minutes to accom- pany my friend down to the sitting-room. A lady dressed in black and heavily veiled, who had been sitting in the window, rose as we entered. ?Good-morning, madam,? said Holmes cheer- ily. ?My name is Sherlock Holmes. This is my intimate friend and associate, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself. Ha! I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had the good sense to light the re. Pray draw up to it, and I shall order you a cup of hot coffee, for I observe that you are shivering.? ?It is not cold which makes me shiver,? said the woman in a low voice, changing her seat as requested. ?What, then?? ?It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.? She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could see that she was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and grey, with restless frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features and gure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expres- sion was weary and haggard. Sherlock Holmes ran her over with one of his quick, all-comprehensive glances. ?You must not fear,? said he soothingly, bend- ing forward and patting her forearm. ?We shall soon set matters right, I have no doubt. You have come in by train this morning, I see.? ?You know me, then?? ?No, but I observe the second half of a return ticket in the palm of your left glove. You must have started early, and yet you had a good drive in a dog-cart, along heavy roads, before you reached the station.? The lady gave a violent start and stared in be- wilderment at my companion. ?There is no mystery, my dear madam,? said he, smiling. ?The left arm of your jacket is spat- tered with mud in no less than seven places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver.? ?Whatever your reasons may be, you are per- fectly correct,? said she. ?I started from home be- fore six, reached Leatherhead at twenty past, and came in by the rst train to Waterloo. Sir, I can 213 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand stand this strain no longer; I shall go mad if it con- tinues. I have no one to turn to—none, save only one, who cares for me, and he, poor fellow, can be of little aid. I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes; I have heard of you from Mrs. Farintosh, whom you helped in the hour of her sore need. It was from her that I had your address. Oh, sir, do you not think that you could help me, too, and at least throw a little light through the dense dark- ness which surrounds me? At present it is out of my power to reward you for your services, but in a month or six weeks I shall be married, with the control of my own income, and then at least you shall not ?nd me ungrateful.” Holmes turned to his desk and, unlocking it, drew out a small case-book, which he consulted. “Farintosh,” said he. “Ah yes, I recall the case; it was concerned with an opal tiara. I think it was before your time, Watson. I can only say, madam, that I shall be happy to devote the same care to your case as I did to that of your friend. As to reward, my profession is its own reward; but you are at liberty to defray whatever expenses I may be put to, at the time which suits you best. And now I beg that you will lay before us everything that may help us in forming an opinion upon the matter.” “Alas!” replied our visitor, “the very horror of my situation lies in the fact that my fears are so vague, and my suspicions depend so entirely upon small points, which might seem trivial to another, that even he to whom of all others I have a right to look for help and advice looks upon all that I tell him about it as the fancies of a nervous woman. He does not say so, but I can read it from his sooth- ing answers and averted eyes. But I have heard, Mr. Holmes, that you can see deeply into the man- ifold wickedness of the human heart. You may advise me how to walk amid the dangers which encompass me.” “I am all attention, madam.” “My name is Helen Stoner, and I am living with my stepfather, who is the last survivor of one of the oldest Saxon families in England, the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, on the western border of Surrey.” Holmes nodded his head. “The name is famil- iar to me,” said he. “The family was at one time among the richest in England, and the estates extended over the bor- ders into Berkshire in the north, and Hampshire in the west. In the last century, however, four succes- sive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful disposi- tion, and the family ruin was eventually completed by a gambler in the days of the Regency. Nothing was left save a few acres of ground, and the two- hundred-year-old house, which is itself crushed under a heavy mortgage. The last squire dragged out his existence there, living the horrible life of an aristocratic pauper; but his only son, my stepfa- ther, seeing that he must adapt himself to the new conditions, obtained an advance from a relative, which enabled him to take a medical degree and went out to Calcutta, where, by his professional skill and his force of character, he established a large practice. In a ?t of anger, however, caused by some robberies which had been perpetrated in the house, he beat his native butler to death and nar- rowly escaped a capital sentence. As it was, he suf- fered a long term of imprisonment and afterwards returned to England a morose and disappointed man. “When Dr. Roylott was in India he married my mother, Mrs. Stoner, the young widow of Major- General Stoner, of the Bengal Artillery. My sister Julia and I were twins, and we were only two years old at the time of my mother’s re-marriage. She had a considerable sum of money—not less than£1000a year—and this she bequeathed to Dr. Roy- lott entirely while we resided with him, with a pro- vision that a certain annual sum should be allowed to each of us in the event of our marriage. Shortly after our return to England my mother died—she was killed eight years ago in a railway accident near Crewe. Dr. Roylott then abandoned his at- tempts to establish himself in practice in London and took us to live with him in the old ances- tral house at Stoke Moran. The money which my mother had left was enough for all our wants, and there seemed to be no obstacle to our happiness. “But a terrible change came over our stepfather about this time. Instead of making friends and ex- changing visits with our neighbours, who had at ?rst been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family, and in my stepfather’s case it had, I believe, been in- tensi?ed by his long residence in the tropics. A se- ries of disgraceful brawls took place, two of which ended in the police-court, until at last he became the terror of the village, and the folks would ?y at his approach, for he is a man of immense strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger. “Last week he hurled the local blacksmith over a parapet into a stream, and it was only by pay- 214 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand ing over all the money which I could gather to- gether that I was able to avert another public expo- sure. He had no friends at all save the wandering gypsies, and he would give these vagabonds leave to encamp upon the few acres of bramble-covered land which represent the family estate, and would accept in return the hospitality of their tents, wan- dering away with them sometimes for weeks on end. He has a passion also for Indian animals, which are sent over to him by a correspondent, and he has at this moment a cheetah and a ba- boon, which wander freely over his grounds and are feared by the villagers almost as much as their master. “You can imagine from what I say that my poor sister Julia and I had no great pleasure in our lives. No servant would stay with us, and for a long time we did all the work of the house. She was but thirty at the time of her death, and yet her hair had already begun to whiten, even as mine has.” “Your sister is dead, then?” “She died just two years ago, and it is of her death that I wish to speak to you. You can under- stand that, living the life which I have described, we were little likely to see anyone of our own age and position. We had, however, an aunt, my mother’s maiden sister, Miss Honoria Westphail, who lives near Harrow, and we were occasionally allowed to pay short visits at this lady’s house. Ju- lia went there at Christmas two years ago, and met there a half-pay major of marines, to whom she became engaged. My stepfather learned of the en- gagement when my sister returned and offered no objection to the marriage; but within a fortnight of the day which had been ?xed for the wedding, the terrible event occurred which has deprived me of my only companion.” Sherlock Holmes had been leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed and his head sunk in a cushion, but he half opened his lids now and glanced across at his visitor. “Pray be precise as to details,” said he. “It is easy for me to be so, for every event of that dreadful time is seared into my memory. The manor-house is, as I have already said, very old, and only one wing is now inhabited. The bedrooms in this wing are on the ground ?oor, the sitting-rooms being in the central block of the buildings. Of these bedrooms the ?rst is Dr. Roy- lott’s, the second my sister’s, and the third my own. There is no communication between them, but they all open out into the same corridor. Do I make myself plain?” “Perfectly so.” “The windows of the three rooms open out upon the lawn. That fatal night Dr. Roylott had gone to his room early, though we knew that he had not retired to rest, for my sister was troubled by the smell of the strong Indian cigars which it was his custom to smoke. She left her room, there- fore, and came into mine, where she sat for some time, chatting about her approaching wedding. At eleven o’clock she rose to leave me, but she paused at the door and looked back. “ ‘Tell me, Helen,’ said she, ‘have you ever heard anyone whistle in the dead of the night?’ “ ‘Never,’ said I. “ ‘I suppose that you could not possibly whis- tle, yourself, in your sleep?’ “ ‘Certainly not. But why?’ “ ‘Because during the last few nights I have always, about three in the morning, heard a low, clear whistle. I am a light sleeper, and it has awakened me. I cannot tell where it came from—perhaps from the next room, perhaps from the lawn. I thought that I would just ask you whether you had heard it.’ “ ‘No, I have not. It must be those wretched gipsies in the plantation.’ “ ‘Very likely. And yet if it were on the lawn, I wonder that you did not hear it also.’ “ ‘Ah, but I sleep more heavily than you.’ “ ‘Well, it is of no great consequence, at any rate.’ She smiled back at me, closed my door, and a few moments later I heard her key turn in the lock.” “Indeed,” said Holmes. “Was it your custom always to lock yourselves in at night?” “Always.” “And why?” “I think that I mentioned to you that the doctor kept a cheetah and a baboon. We had no feeling of security unless our doors were locked.” “Quite so. Pray proceed with your statement.” “I could not sleep that night. A vague feeling of impending misfortune impressed me. My sis- ter and I, you will recollect, were twins, and you know how subtle are the links which bind two souls which are so closely allied. It was a wild night. The wind was howling outside, and the rain was beating and splashing against the windows. Suddenly, amid all the hubbub of the gale, there burst forth the wild scream of a terri?ed woman. I knew that it was my sister’s voice. I sprang from my bed, wrapped a shawl round me, and rushed into the corridor. As I opened my door 215 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand I seemed to hear a low whistle, such as my sis- ter described, and a few moments later a clanging sound, as if a mass of metal had fallen. As I ran down the passage, my sister’s door was unlocked, and revolved slowly upon its hinges. I stared at it horror-stricken, not knowing what was about to issue from it. By the light of the corridor-lamp I saw my sister appear at the opening, her face blanched with terror, her hands groping for help, her whole ?gure swaying to and fro like that of a drunkard. I ran to her and threw my arms round her, but at that moment her knees seemed to give way and she fell to the ground. She writhed as one who is in terrible pain, and her limbs were dread- fully convulsed. At ?rst I thought that she had not recognised me, but as I bent over her she sud- denly shrieked out in a voice which I shall never forget, ‘Oh, my God! Helen! It was the band! The speckled band!’ There was something else which she would fain have said, and she stabbed with her ?nger into the air in the direction of the doc- tor’s room, but a fresh convulsion seized her and choked her words. I rushed out, calling loudly for my stepfather, and I met him hastening from his room in his dressing-gown. When he reached my sister’s side she was unconscious, and though he poured brandy down her throat and sent for med- ical aid from the village, all efforts were in vain, for she slowly sank and died without having re- covered her consciousness. Such was the dreadful end of my beloved sister.” “One moment,” said Holmes, “are you sure about this whistle and metallic sound? Could you swear to it?” “That was what the county coroner asked me at the inquiry. It is my strong impression that I heard it, and yet, among the crash of the gale and the creaking of an old house, I may possibly have been deceived.” “Was your sister dressed?” “No, she was in her night-dress. In her right hand was found the charred stump of a match, and in her left a match-box.” “Showing that she had struck a light and looked about her when the alarm took place. That is important. And what conclusions did the coro- ner come to?” “He investigated the case with great care, for Dr. Roylott’s conduct had long been notorious in the county, but he was unable to ?nd any satisfac- tory cause of death. My evidence showed that the door had been fastened upon the inner side, and the windows were blocked by old-fashioned shut- ters with broad iron bars, which were secured ev- ery night. The walls were carefully sounded, and were shown to be quite solid all round, and the ?ooring was also thoroughly examined, with the same result. The chimney is wide, but is barred up by four large staples. It is certain, therefore, that my sister was quite alone when she met her end. Besides, there were no marks of any violence upon her.” “How about poison?” “The doctors examined her for it, but without success.” “What do you think that this unfortunate lady died of, then?” “It is my belief that she died of pure fear and nervous shock, though what it was that frightened her I cannot imagine.” “Were there gipsies in the plantation at the time?” “Yes, there are nearly always some there.” “Ah, and what did you gather from this allu- sion to a band—a speckled band?” “Sometimes I have thought that it was merely the wild talk of delirium, sometimes that it may have referred to some band of people, perhaps to these very gipsies in the plantation. I do not know whether the spotted handkerchiefs which so many of them wear over their heads might have sug- gested the strange adjective which she used.” Holmes shook his head like a man who is far from being satis?ed. “These are very deep waters,” said he; “pray go on with your narrative.” “Two years have passed since then, and my life has been until lately lonelier than ever. A month ago, however, a dear friend, whom I have known for many years, has done me the honour to ask my hand in marriage. His name is Armitage—Percy Armitage—the second son of Mr. Armitage, of Crane Water, near Reading. My stepfather has of- fered no opposition to the match, and we are to be married in the course of the spring. Two days ago some repairs were started in the west wing of the building, and my bedroom wall has been pierced, so that I have had to move into the chamber in which my sister died, and to sleep in the very bed in which she slept. Imagine, then, my thrill of ter- ror when last night, as I lay awake, thinking over her terrible fate, I suddenly heard in the silence of the night the low whistle which had been the herald of her own death. I sprang up and lit the 216 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand lamp, but nothing was to be seen in the room. I was too shaken to go to bed again, however, so I dressed, and as soon as it was daylight I slipped down, got a dog-cart at the Crown Inn, which is opposite, and drove to Leatherhead, from whence I have come on this morning with the one object of seeing you and asking your advice.” “You have done wisely,” said my friend. “But have you told me all?” “Yes, all.” “Miss Roylott, you have not. You are screening your stepfather.” “Why, what do you mean?” For answer Holmes pushed back the frill of black lace which fringed the hand that lay upon our visitor’s knee. Five little livid spots, the marks of four ?ngers and a thumb, were printed upon the white wrist. “You have been cruelly used,” said Holmes. The lady coloured deeply and covered over her injured wrist. “He is a hard man,” she said, “and perhaps he hardly knows his own strength.” There was a long silence, during which Holmes leaned his chin upon his hands and stared into the crackling ?re. “This is a very deep business,” he said at last. “There are a thousand details which I should de- sire to know before I decide upon our course of action. Yet we have not a moment to lose. If we were to come to Stoke Moran to-day, would it be possible for us to see over these rooms without the knowledge of your stepfather?” “As it happens, he spoke of coming into town to-day upon some most important business. It is probable that he will be away all day, and that there would be nothing to disturb you. We have a housekeeper now, but she is old and foolish, and I could easily get her out of the way.” “Excellent. You are not averse to this trip, Wat- son?” “By no means.” “Then we shall both come. What are you going to do yourself?” “I have one or two things which I would wish to do now that I am in town. But I shall return by the twelve o’clock train, so as to be there in time for your coming.” “And you may expect us early in the afternoon. I have myself some small business matters to at- tend to. Will you not wait and breakfast?” “No, I must go. My heart is lightened already since I have con?ded my trouble to you. I shall look forward to seeing you again this afternoon.” She dropped her thick black veil over her face and glided from the room. “And what do you think of it all, Watson?” asked Sherlock Holmes, leaning back in his chair. “It seems to me to be a most dark and sinister business.” “Dark enough and sinister enough.” “Yet if the lady is correct in saying that the ?ooring and walls are sound, and that the door, window, and chimney are impassable, then her sis- ter must have been undoubtedly alone when she met her mysterious end.” “What becomes, then, of these nocturnal whis- tles, and what of the very peculiar words of the dying woman?” “I cannot think.” “When you combine the ideas of whistles at night, the presence of a band of gipsies who are on intimate terms with this old doctor, the fact that we have every reason to believe that the doctor has an interest in preventing his stepdaughter’s mar- riage, the dying allusion to a band, and, ?nally, the fact that Miss Helen Stoner heard a metallic clang, which might have been caused by one of those metal bars that secured the shutters falling back into its place, I think that there is good ground to think that the mystery may be cleared along those lines.” “But what, then, did the gipsies do?” “I cannot imagine.” “I see many objections to any such theory.” “And so do I. It is precisely for that reason that we are going to Stoke Moran this day. I want to see whether the objections are fatal, or if they may be explained away. But what in the name of the devil!” The ejaculation had been drawn from my com- panion by the fact that our door had been sud- denly dashed open, and that a huge man had framed himself in the aperture. His costume was a peculiar mixture of the professional and of the agricultural, having a black top-hat, a long frock- coat, and a pair of high gaiters, with a hunting- crop swinging in his hand. So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the door- way, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side. A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion, was turned from one to 217 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and his high, thin, ?eshless nose, gave him some- what the resemblance to a ?erce old bird of prey. “Which of you is Holmes?” asked this appari- tion. “My name, sir; but you have the advantage of me,” said my companion quietly. “I am Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran.” “Indeed, Doctor,” said Holmes blandly. “Pray take a seat.” “I will do nothing of the kind. My stepdaugh- ter has been here. I have traced her. What has she been saying to you?” “It is a little cold for the time of the year,” said Holmes. “What has she been saying to you?” screamed the old man furiously. “But I have heard that the crocuses promise well,” continued my companion imperturbably. “Ha! You put me off, do you?” said our new visitor, taking a step forward and shaking his hunting-crop. “I know you, you scoundrel! I have heard of you before. You are Holmes, the med- dler.” My friend smiled. “Holmes, the busybody!” His smile broadened. “Holmes, the Scotland Yard Jack-in-of?ce!” Holmes chuckled heartily. “Your conversation is most entertaining,” said he. “When you go out close the door, for there is a decided draught.” “I will go when I have said my say. Don’t you dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here. I traced her! I am a dan- gerous man to fall foul of! See here.” He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands. “See that you keep yourself out of my grip,” he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the ?replace he strode out of the room. “He seems a very amiable person,” said Holmes, laughing. “I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.” As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again. “Fancy his having the insolence to confound me with the of?cial detective force! This incident gives zest to our investigation, however, and I only trust that our little friend will not suffer from her imprudence in allowing this brute to trace her. And now, Watson, we shall order breakfast, and af- terwards I shall walk down to Doctors’ Commons, where I hope to get some data which may help us in this matter.” It was nearly one o’clock when Sherlock Holmes returned from his excursion. He held in his hand a sheet of blue paper, scrawled over with notes and ?gures. “I have seen the will of the deceased wife,” said he. “To determine its exact meaning I have been obliged to work out the present prices of the in- vestments with which it is concerned. The total income, which at the time of the wife’s death was little short of£1100, is now, through the fall in agri- cultural prices, not more than£750. Each daughter can claim an income of£250, in case of marriage. It is evident, therefore, that if both girls had mar- ried, this beauty would have had a mere pittance, while even one of them would cripple him to a very serious extent. My morning’s work has not been wasted, since it has proved that he has the very strongest motives for standing in the way of anything of the sort. And now, Watson, this is too serious for dawdling, especially as the old man is aware that we are interesting ourselves in his af- fairs; so if you are ready, we shall call a cab and drive to Waterloo. I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An Eley’s No.2is an excellent argument with gen- tlemen who can twist steel pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think, all that we need.” At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a train for Leatherhead, where we hired a trap at the station inn and drove for four or ?ve miles through the lovely Surrey lanes. It was a perfect day, with a bright sun and a few ?eecy clouds in the heavens. The trees and wayside hedges were just throwing out their ?rst green shoots, and the air was full of the pleasant smell of the moist earth. To me at least there was a strange contrast between the sweet promise of the spring and this sinister quest upon which we were engaged. My companion sat in the front of the trap, his arms folded, his hat pulled down over his eyes, and his chin sunk upon his breast, buried in the deepest thought. Suddenly, however, he started, tapped me on the shoulder, and pointed over the meadows. “Look there!” said he. A heavily timbered park stretched up in a gen- tle slope, thickening into a grove at the highest point. From amid the branches there jutted out the grey gables and high roof-tree of a very old mansion. “Stoke Moran?” said he. 218 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand “Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby Roylott,” remarked the driver. “There is some building going on there,” said Holmes; “that is where we are going.” “There’s the village,” said the driver, point- ing to a cluster of roofs some distance to the left; “but if you want to get to the house, you’ll ?nd it shorter to get over this stile, and so by the foot- path over the ?elds. There it is, where the lady is walking.” “And the lady, I fancy, is Miss Stoner,” ob- served Holmes, shading his eyes. “Yes, I think we had better do as you suggest.” We got off, paid our fare, and the trap rattled back on its way to Leatherhead. “I thought it as well,” said Holmes as we climbed the stile, “that this fellow should think we had come here as architects, or on some de?nite business. It may stop his gossip. Good-afternoon, Miss Stoner. You see that we have been as good as our word.” Our client of the morning had hurried forward to meet us with a face which spoke her joy. “I have been waiting so eagerly for you,” she cried, shak- ing hands with us warmly. “All has turned out splendidly. Dr. Roylott has gone to town, and it is unlikely that he will be back before evening.” “We have had the pleasure of making the doc- tor’s acquaintance,” said Holmes, and in a few words he sketched out what had occurred. Miss Stoner turned white to the lips as she listened. “Good heavens!” she cried, “he has followed me, then.” “So it appears.” “He is so cunning that I never know when I am safe from him. What will he say when he returns?” “He must guard himself, for he may ?nd that there is someone more cunning than himself upon his track. You must lock yourself up from him to- night. If he is violent, we shall take you away to your aunt’s at Harrow. Now, we must make the best use of our time, so kindly take us at once to the rooms which we are to examine.” The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each side. In one of these wings the windows were bro- ken and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin. The central portion was in little better repair, but the right-hand block was comparatively modern, and the blinds in the windows, with the blue smoke curling up from the chimneys, showed that this was where the family resided. Some scaffolding had been erected against the end wall, and the stone-work had been broken into, but there were no signs of any workmen at the moment of our visit. Holmes walked slowly up and down the ill- trimmed lawn and examined with deep attention the outsides of the windows. “This, I take it, belongs to the room in which you used to sleep, the centre one to your sister’s, and the one next to the main building to Dr. Roy- lott’s chamber?” “Exactly so. But I am now sleeping in the mid- dle one.” “Pending the alterations, as I understand. By the way, there does not seem to be any very press- ing need for repairs at that end wall.” “There were none. I believe that it was an ex- cuse to move me from my room.” “Ah! that is suggestive. Now, on the other side of this narrow wing runs the corridor from which these three rooms open. There are windows in it, of course?” “Yes, but very small ones. Too narrow for any- one to pass through.” “As you both locked your doors at night, your rooms were unapproachable from that side. Now, would you have the kindness to go into your room and bar your shutters?” Miss Stoner did so, and Holmes, after a careful examination through the open window, endeav- oured in every way to force the shutter open, but without success. There was no slit through which a knife could be passed to raise the bar. Then with his lens he tested the hinges, but they were of solid iron, built ?rmly into the massive masonry. “Hum!” said he, scratching his chin in some per- plexity, “my theory certainly presents some dif?- culties. No one could pass these shutters if they were bolted. Well, we shall see if the inside throws any light upon the matter.” A small side door led into the whitewashed corridor from which the three bedrooms opened. Holmes refused to examine the third chamber, so we passed at once to the second, that in which Miss Stoner was now sleeping, and in which her sister had met with her fate. It was a homely little room, with a low ceiling and a gaping ?re- place, after the fashion of old country-houses. A brown chest of drawers stood in one corner, a narrow white-counterpaned bed in another, and a dressing-table on the left-hand side of the win- dow. These articles, with two small wicker-work 219 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand chairs, made up all the furniture in the room save for a square of Wilton carpet in the centre. The boards round and the panelling of the walls were of brown, worm-eaten oak, so old and discoloured that it may have dated from the original building of the house. Holmes drew one of the chairs into a corner and sat silent, while his eyes travelled round and round and up and down, taking in ev- ery detail of the apartment. “Where does that bell communicate with?” he asked at last pointing to a thick bell-rope which hung down beside the bed, the tassel actually ly- ing upon the pillow. “It goes to the housekeeper’s room.” “It looks newer than the other things?” “Yes, it was only put there a couple of years ago.” “Your sister asked for it, I suppose?” “No, I never heard of her using it. We used always to get what we wanted for ourselves.” “Indeed, it seemed unnecessary to put so nice a bell-pull there. You will excuse me for a few minutes while I satisfy myself as to this ?oor.” He threw himself down upon his face with his lens in his hand and crawled swiftly backward and for- ward, examining minutely the cracks between the boards. Then he did the same with the wood-work with which the chamber was panelled. Finally he walked over to the bed and spent some time in staring at it and in running his eye up and down the wall. Finally he took the bell-rope in his hand and gave it a brisk tug. “Why, it’s a dummy,” said he. “Won’t it ring?” “No, it is not even attached to a wire. This is very interesting. You can see now that it is fas- tened to a hook just above where the little opening for the ventilator is.” “How very absurd! I never noticed that be- fore.” “Very strange!” muttered Holmes, pulling at the rope. “There are one or two very singular points about this room. For example, what a fool a builder must be to open a ventilator into another room, when, with the same trouble, he might have communicated with the outside air!” “That is also quite modern,” said the lady. “Done about the same time as the bell-rope?” remarked Holmes. “Yes, there were several little changes carried out about that time.” “They seem to have been of a most interest- ing character—dummy bell-ropes, and ventilators which do not ventilate. With your permission, Miss Stoner, we shall now carry our researches into the inner apartment.” Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s chamber was larger than that of his step-daughter, but was as plainly furnished. A camp-bed, a small wooden shelf full of books, mostly of a technical character, an arm- chair beside the bed, a plain wooden chair against the wall, a round table, and a large iron safe were the principal things which met the eye. Holmes walked slowly round and examined each and all of them with the keenest interest. “What’s in here?” he asked, tapping the safe. “My stepfather’s business papers.” “Oh! you have seen inside, then?” “Only once, some years ago. I remember that it was full of papers.” “There isn’t a cat in it, for example?” “No. What a strange idea!” “Well, look at this!” He took up a small saucer of milk which stood on the top of it. “No; we don’t keep a cat. But there is a cheetah and a baboon.” “Ah, yes, of course! Well, a cheetah is just a big cat, and yet a saucer of milk does not go very far in satisfying its wants, I daresay. There is one point which I should wish to determine.” He squatted down in front of the wooden chair and examined the seat of it with the greatest attention. “Thank you. That is quite settled,” said he, ris- ing and putting his lens in his pocket. “Hullo! Here is something interesting!” The object which had caught his eye was a small dog lash hung on one corner of the bed. The lash, however, was curled upon itself and tied so as to make a loop of whipcord. “What do you make of that, Watson?” “It’s a common enough lash. But I don’t know why it should be tied.” “That is not quite so common, is it? Ah, me! it’s a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the worst of all. I think that I have seen enough now, Miss Stoner, and with your permission we shall walk out upon the lawn.” I had never seen my friend’s face so grim or his brow so dark as it was when we turned from the scene of this investigation. We had walked several times up and down the lawn, neither Miss Stoner nor myself liking to break in upon his thoughts before he roused himself from his reverie. 220 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand “It is very essential, Miss Stoner,” said he, “that you should absolutely follow my advice in every respect.” “I shall most certainly do so.” “The matter is too serious for any hesitation. Your life may depend upon your compliance.” “I assure you that I am in your hands.” “In the ?rst place, both my friend and I must spend the night in your room.” Both Miss Stoner and I gazed at him in aston- ishment. “Yes, it must be so. Let me explain. I believe that that is the village inn over there?” “Yes, that is the Crown.” “Very good. Your windows would be visible from there?” “Certainly.” “You must con?ne yourself to your room, on pretence of a headache, when your stepfather comes back. Then when you hear him retire for the night, you must open the shutters of your win- dow, undo the hasp, put your lamp there as a sig- nal to us, and then withdraw quietly with every- thing which you are likely to want into the room which you used to occupy. I have no doubt that, in spite of the repairs, you could manage there for one night.” “Oh, yes, easily.” “The rest you will leave in our hands.” “But what will you do?” “We shall spend the night in your room, and we shall investigate the cause of this noise which has disturbed you.” “I believe, Mr. Holmes, that you have already made up your mind,” said Miss Stoner, laying her hand upon my companion’s sleeve. “Perhaps I have.” “Then, for pity’s sake, tell me what was the cause of my sister’s death.” “I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak.” “You can at least tell me whether my own thought is correct, and if she died from some sud- den fright.” “No, I do not think so. I think that there was probably some more tangible cause. And now, Miss Stoner, we must leave you for if Dr. Roylott returned and saw us our journey would be in vain. Good-bye, and be brave, for if you will do what I have told you, you may rest assured that we shall soon drive away the dangers that threaten you.” Sherlock Holmes and I had no dif?culty in en- gaging a bedroom and sitting-room at the Crown Inn. They were on the upper ?oor, and from our window we could command a view of the avenue gate, and of the inhabited wing of Stoke Moran Manor House. At dusk we saw Dr. Grimesby Roy- lott drive past, his huge form looming up beside the little ?gure of the lad who drove him. The boy had some slight dif?culty in undoing the heavy iron gates, and we heard the hoarse roar of the doctor’s voice and saw the fury with which he shook his clinched ?sts at him. The trap drove on, and a few minutes later we saw a sudden light spring up among the trees as the lamp was lit in one of the sitting-rooms. “Do you know, Watson,” said Holmes as we sat together in the gathering darkness, “I have really some scruples as to taking you to-night. There is a distinct element of danger.” “Can I be of assistance?” “Your presence might be invaluable.” “Then I shall certainly come.” “It is very kind of you.” “You speak of danger. You have evidently seen more in these rooms than was visible to me.” “No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a lit- tle more. I imagine that you saw all that I did.” “I saw nothing remarkable save the bell-rope, and what purpose that could answer I confess is more than I can imagine.” “You saw the ventilator, too?” “Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very un- usual thing to have a small opening between two rooms. It was so small that a rat could hardly pass through.” “I knew that we should ?nd a ventilator before ever we came to Stoke Moran.” “My dear Holmes!” “Oh, yes, I did. You remember in her statement she said that her sister could smell Dr. Roylott’s cigar. Now, of course that suggested at once that there must be a communication between the two rooms. It could only be a small one, or it would have been remarked upon at the coroner’s inquiry. I deduced a ventilator.” “But what harm can there be in that?” “Well, there is at least a curious coincidence of dates. A ventilator is made, a cord is hung, and a lady who sleeps in the bed dies. Does not that strike you?” “I cannot as yet see any connection.” 221 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand “Did you observe anything very peculiar about that bed?” “No.” “It was clamped to the ?oor. Did you ever see a bed fastened like that before?” “I cannot say that I have.” “The lady could not move her bed. It must al- ways be in the same relative position to the venti- lator and to the rope—or so we may call it, since it was clearly never meant for a bell-pull.” “Holmes,” I cried, “I seem to see dimly what you are hinting at. We are only just in time to pre- vent some subtle and horrible crime.” “Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a doctor does go wrong he is the ?rst of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their profes- sion. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still. But we shall have horrors enough before the night is over; for goodness’ sake let us have a quiet pipe and turn our minds for a few hours to something more cheerful.” About nine o’clock the light among the trees was extinguished, and all was dark in the direc- tion of the Manor House. Two hours passed slowly away, and then, suddenly, just at the stroke of eleven, a single bright light shone out right in front of us. “That is our signal,” said Holmes, springing to his feet; “it comes from the middle window.” As we passed out he exchanged a few words with the landlord, explaining that we were going on a late visit to an acquaintance, and that it was possible that we might spend the night there. A moment later we were out on the dark road, a chill wind blowing in our faces, and one yellow light twinkling in front of us through the gloom to guide us on our sombre errand. There was little dif?culty in entering the grounds, for unrepaired breaches gaped in the old park wall. Making our way among the trees, we reached the lawn, crossed it, and were about to enter through the window when out from a clump of laurel bushes there darted what seemed to be a hideous and distorted child, who threw itself upon the grass with writhing limbs and then ran swiftly across the lawn into the darkness. “My God!” I whispered; “did you see it?” Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his agitation. Then he broke into a low laugh and put his lips to my ear. “It is a nice household,” he murmured. “That is the baboon.” I had forgotten the strange pets which the doc- tor affected. There was a cheetah, too; perhaps we might ?nd it upon our shoulders at any mo- ment. I confess that I felt easier in my mind when, after following Holmes’ example and slipping off my shoes, I found myself inside the bedroom. My companion noiselessly closed the shutters, moved the lamp onto the table, and cast his eyes round the room. All was as we had seen it in the daytime. Then creeping up to me and making a trumpet of his hand, he whispered into my ear again so gen- tly that it was all that I could do to distinguish the words: “The least sound would be fatal to our plans.” I nodded to show that I had heard. “We must sit without light. He would see it through the ventilator.” I nodded again. “Do not go asleep; your very life may depend upon it. Have your pistol ready in case we should need it. I will sit on the side of the bed, and you in that chair.” I took out my revolver and laid it on the corner of the table. Holmes had brought up a long thin cane, and this he placed upon the bed beside him. By it he laid the box of matches and the stump of a candle. Then he turned down the lamp, and we were left in darkness. How shall I ever forget that dreadful vigil? I could not hear a sound, not even the drawing of a breath, and yet I knew that my companion sat open-eyed, within a few feet of me, in the same state of nervous tension in which I was myself. The shutters cut off the least ray of light, and we waited in absolute darkness. From outside came the occasional cry of a night-bird, and once at our very window a long drawn catlike whine, which told us that the chee- tah was indeed at liberty. Far away we could hear the deep tones of the parish clock, which boomed out every quarter of an hour. How long they seemed, those quarters! Twelve struck, and one and two and three, and still we sat waiting silently for whatever might befall. Suddenly there was the momentary gleam of a light up in the direction of the ventilator, which vanished immediately, but was succeeded by a 222 TheAdventure of theSpeckledBand strong smell of burning oil and heated metal. Someone in the next room had lit a dark-lantern. I heard a gentle sound of movement, and then all was silent once more, though the smell grew stronger. For half an hour I sat with straining ears. Then suddenly another sound became audible—a very gentle, soothing sound, like that of a small jet of steam escaping continually from a kettle. The instant that we heard it, Holmes sprang from the bed, struck a match, and lashed furiously with his cane at the bell-pull. “You see it, Watson?” he yelled. “You see it?” But I saw nothing. At the moment when Holmes struck the light I heard a low, clear whis- tle, but the sudden glare ?ashing into my weary eyes made it impossible for me to tell what it was at which my friend lashed so savagely. I could, however, see that his face was deadly pale and ?lled with horror and loathing. He had ceased to strike and was gazing up at the ventilator when suddenly there broke from the silence of the night the most horrible cry to which I have ever listened. It swelled up louder and louder, a hoarse yell of pain and fear and anger all mingled in the one dreadful shriek. They say that away down in the village, and even in the distant parsonage, that cry raised the sleepers from their beds. It struck cold to our hearts, and I stood gazing at Holmes, and he at me, until the last echoes of it had died away into the silence from which it rose. “What can it mean?” I gasped. “It means that it is all over,” Holmes answered. “And perhaps, after all, it is for the best. Take your pistol, and we will enter Dr. Roylott’s room.” With a grave face he lit the lamp and led the way down the corridor. Twice he struck at the chamber door without any reply from within. Then he turned the handle and entered, I at his heels, with the cocked pistol in my hand. It was a singular sight which met our eyes. On the table stood a dark-lantern with the shutter half open, throwing a brilliant beam of light upon the iron safe, the door of which was ajar. Beside this table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roy- lott clad in a long grey dressing-gown, his bare ankles protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers. Across his lap lay the short stock with the long lash which we had no- ticed during the day. His chin was cocked upward and his eyes were ?xed in a dreadful, rigid stare at the corner of the ceiling. Round his brow he had a peculiar yellow band, with brownish speckles, which seemed to be bound tightly round his head. As we entered he made neither sound nor motion. “The band! the speckled band!” whispered Holmes. I took a step forward. In an instant his strange headgear began to move, and there reared itself from among his hair the squat diamond-shaped head and puffed neck of a loathsome serpent. “It is a swamp adder!” cried Holmes; “the deadliest snake in India. He has died within ten seconds of being bitten. Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another. Let us thrust this creature back into its den, and we can then re- move Miss Stoner to some place of shelter and let the county police know what has happened.” As he spoke he drew the dog-whip swiftly from the dead man’s lap, and throwing the noose round the reptile’s neck he drew it from its horrid perch and, carrying it at arm’s length, threw it into the iron safe, which he closed upon it. Such are the true facts of the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran. It is not nec- essary that I should prolong a narrative which has already run to too great a length by telling how we broke the sad news to the terri?ed girl, how we conveyed her by the morning train to the care of her good aunt at Harrow, of how the slow pro- cess of of?cial inquiry came to the conclusion that the doctor met his fate while indiscreetly playing with a dangerous pet. The little which I had yet to learn of the case was told me by Sherlock Holmes as we travelled back next day. “I had,” said he, “come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insuf?cient data. The presence of the gipsies, and the use of the word ‘band,’ which was used by the poor girl, no doubt, to explain the appearance which she had caught a hurried glimpse of by the light of her match, were suf?cient to put me upon an entirely wrong scent. I can only claim the merit that I in- stantly reconsidered my position when, however, it became clear to me that whatever danger threat- ened an occupant of the room could not come ei- ther from the window or the door. My attention was speedily drawn, as I have already remarked to you, to this ventilator, and to the bell-rope which hung down to the bed. The discovery that this was a dummy, and that the bed was clamped to the ?oor, instantly gave rise to the suspicion that the rope was there as a bridge for something passing through the hole and coming to the bed. The idea of a snake instantly occurred to me, and when I coupled it with my knowledge that the doctor was furnished with a supply of creatures from India, I felt that I was probably on the right track. The idea 223 of using a form of poison which could not possi- bly be discovered by any chemical test was just such a one as would occur to a clever and ruthless man who had had an Eastern training. The ra- pidity with which such a poison would take effect would also, from his point of view, be an advan- tage. It would be a sharp-eyed coroner, indeed, who could distinguish the two little dark punc- tures which would show where the poison fangs had done their work. Then I thought of the whis- tle. Of course he must recall the snake before the morning light revealed it to the victim. He had trained it, probably by the use of the milk which we saw, to return to him when summoned. He would put it through this ventilator at the hour that he thought best, with the certainty that it would crawl down the rope and land on the bed. It might or might not bite the occupant, perhaps she might escape every night for a week, but sooner or later she must fall a victim. “I had come to these conclusions before ever I had entered his room. An inspection of his chair showed me that he had been in the habit of stand- ing on it, which of course would be necessary in order that he should reach the ventilator. The sight of the safe, the saucer of milk, and the loop of whipcord were enough to ?nally dispel any doubts which may have remained. The metallic clang heard by Miss Stoner was obviously caused by her stepfather hastily closing the door of his safe upon its terrible occupant. Having once made up my mind, you know the steps which I took in order to put the matter to the proof. I heard the creature hiss as I have no doubt that you did also, and I instantly lit the light and attacked it.” “With the result of driving it through the ven- tilator.” “And also with the result of causing it to turn upon its master at the other side. Some of the blows of my cane came home and roused its snak- ish temper, so that it ?ew upon the ?rst person it saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsi- ble for Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s death, and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience.” The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb Of allthe problems which have been submitted to my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for solution during the years of our intimacy, there were only two which I was the means of introducing to his notice?that of Mr. Hatherley’s thumb, and that of Colonel War- burton’s madness. Of these the latter may have afforded a ner eld for an acute and original ob- server, but the other was so strange in its inception and so dramatic in its details that it may be the more worthy of being placed upon record, even if it gave my friend fewer openings for those deduc- tive methods of reasoning by which he achieved such remarkable results. The story has, I believe, been told more than once in the newspapers, but, like all such narratives, its effect is much less strik- ing when set forthen blocin a single half-column of print than when the facts slowly evolve before your own eyes, and the mystery clears gradually away as each new discovery furnishes a step which leads on to the complete truth. At the time the cir- cumstances made a deep impression upon me, and the lapse of two years has hardly served to weaken the effect. It was in the summer of ’89, not long after my marriage, that the events occurred which I am now about to summarise. I had returned to civil practice and had nally abandoned Holmes in his Baker Street rooms, although I continually visited him and occasionally even persuaded him to forgo his Bohemian habits so far as to come and visit us. My practice had steadily increased, and as I happened to live at no very great distance from Paddington Station, I got a few patients from among the ofcials. One of these, whom I had cured of a painful and lingering disease, was never weary of advertising my virtues and of endeavour- ing to send me on every sufferer over whom he might have any inuence. One morning, at a little before seven o’clock, I was awakened by the maid tapping at the door to announce that two men had come from Padding- ton and were waiting in the consulting-room. I dressed hurriedly, for I knew by experience that railway cases were seldom trivial, and hastened downstairs. As I descended, my old ally, the guard, came out of the room and closed the door tightly behind him. ?I’ve got him here,? he whispered, jerking his thumb over his shoulder; ?he’s all right.? ?What is it, then?? I asked, for his manner sug- gested that it was some strange creature which he had caged up in my room. ?It’s a new patient,? he whispered. ?I thought I’d bring him round myself; then he couldn’t slip away. There he is, all safe and sound. I must go now, Doctor; I have my dooties, just the same as you.? And off he went, this trusty tout, without even giving me time to thank him. I entered my consulting-room and found a gentleman seated by the table. He was quietly dressed in a suit of heather tweed with a soft cloth cap which he had laid down upon my books. Round one of his hands he had a handkerchief wrapped, which was mottled all over with blood- stains. He was young, not more than ve-and- twenty, I should say, with a strong, masculine face; but he was exceedingly pale and gave me the im- pression of a man who was suffering from some strong agitation, which it took all his strength of mind to control. ?I am sorry to knock you up so early, Doctor,? said he, ?but I have had a very serious accident during the night. I came in by train this morn- ing, and on inquiring at Paddington as to where I might nd a doctor, a worthy fellow very kindly escorted me here. I gave the maid a card, but I see that she has left it upon the side-table.? I took it up and glanced at it. ?Mr. Victor Hatherley, hydraulic engineer,16A, Victoria Street (3rd oor).? That was the name, style, and abode of my morning visitor. ?I regret that I have kept you waiting,? said I, sitting down in my library- chair. ?You are fresh from a night journey, I un- derstand, which is in itself a monotonous occupa- tion.? ?Oh, my night could not be called monotonous,? said he, and laughed. He laughed very heartily, with a high, ringing note, leaning back in his chair and shaking his sides. All my medical instincts rose up against that laugh. ?Stop it!? I cried; ?pull yourself together!? and I poured out some water from a caraffe. It was useless, however. He was off in one of those hysterical outbursts which come upon a strong nature when some great crisis is over and gone. Presently he came to himself once more, very weary and pale-looking. ?I have been making a fool of myself,? he gasped. ?Not at all. Drink this.? I dashed some brandy into the water, and the colour began to come back to his bloodless cheeks. ?That’s better!? said he. ?And now, Doctor, perhaps you would kindly attend to my thumb, or rather to the place where my thumb used to be.? 227 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb He unwound the handkerchief and held out his hand. It gave even my hardened nerves a shudder to look at it. There were four protruding ?ngers and a horrid red, spongy surface where the thumb should have been. It had been hacked or torn right out from the roots. “Good heavens!” I cried, “this is a terrible in- jury. It must have bled considerably.” “Yes, it did. I fainted when it was done, and I think that I must have been senseless for a long time. When I came to I found that it was still bleed- ing, so I tied one end of my handkerchief very tightly round the wrist and braced it up with a twig.” “Excellent! You should have been a surgeon.” “It is a question of hydraulics, you see, and came within my own province.” “This has been done,” said I, examining the wound, “by a very heavy and sharp instrument.” “A thing like a cleaver,” said he. “An accident, I presume?” “By no means.” “What! a murderous attack?” “Very murderous indeed.” “You horrify me.” I sponged the wound, cleaned it, dressed it, and ?nally covered it over with cotton wadding and carbolised bandages. He lay back without wincing, though he bit his lip from time to time. “How is that?” I asked when I had ?nished. “Capital! Between your brandy and your ban- dage, I feel a new man. I was very weak, but I have had a good deal to go through.” “Perhaps you had better not speak of the mat- ter. It is evidently trying to your nerves.” “Oh, no, not now. I shall have to tell my tale to the police; but, between ourselves, if it were not for the convincing evidence of this wound of mine, I should be surprised if they believed my statement, for it is a very extraordinary one, and I have not much in the way of proof with which to back it up; and, even if they believe me, the clues which I can give them are so vague that it is a question whether justice will be done.” “Ha!” cried I, “if it is anything in the nature of a problem which you desire to see solved, I should strongly recommend you to come to my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, before you go to the of?cial police.” “Oh, I have heard of that fellow,” answered my visitor, “and I should be very glad if he would take the matter up, though of course I must use the of- ?cial police as well. Would you give me an intro- duction to him?” “I’ll do better. I’ll take you round to him my- self.” “I should be immensely obliged to you.” “We’ll call a cab and go together. We shall just be in time to have a little breakfast with him. Do you feel equal to it?” “Yes; I shall not feel easy until I have told my story.” “Then my servant will call a cab, and I shall be with you in an instant.” I rushed upstairs, ex- plained the matter shortly to my wife, and in ?ve minutes was inside a hansom, driving with my new acquaintance to Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes was, as I expected, lounging about his sitting-room in his dressing-gown, read- ing the agony column ofThe Timesand smoking his before-breakfast pipe, which was composed of all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the day before, all carefully dried and collected on the corner of the mantelpiece. He received us in his quietly genial fashion, ordered fresh rashers and eggs, and joined us in a hearty meal. When it was concluded he settled our new acquaintance upon the sofa, placed a pillow beneath his head, and laid a glass of brandy and water within his reach. “It is easy to see that your experience has been no common one, Mr. Hatherley,” said he. “Pray, lie down there and make yourself absolutely at home. Tell us what you can, but stop when you are tired and keep up your strength with a little stimulant.” “Thank you,” said my patient. “but I have felt another man since the doctor bandaged me, and I think that your breakfast has completed the cure. I shall take up as little of your valuable time as possible, so I shall start at once upon my peculiar experiences.” Holmes sat in his big armchair with the weary, heavy-lidded expression which veiled his keen and eager nature, while I sat opposite to him, and we listened in silence to the strange story which our visitor detailed to us. “You must know,” said he, “that I am an or- phan and a bachelor, residing alone in lodgings in London. By profession I am a hydraulic engi- neer, and I have had considerable experience of my work during the seven years that I was ap- prenticed to Venner & Matheson, the well-known ?rm, of Greenwich. Two years ago, having served my time, and having also come into a fair sum 228 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb of money through my poor father’s death, I de- termined to start in business for myself and took professional chambers in Victoria Street. “I suppose that everyone ?nds his ?rst inde- pendent start in business a dreary experience. To me it has been exceptionally so. During two years I have had three consultations and one small job, and that is absolutely all that my profession has brought me. My gross takings amount to£27 10s. Every day, from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon, I waited in my little den, until at last my heart began to sink, and I came to believe that I should never have any practice at all. “Yesterday, however, just as I was thinking of leaving the of?ce, my clerk entered to say there was a gentleman waiting who wished to see me upon business. He brought up a card, too, with the name of ‘Colonel Lysander Stark’ engraved upon it. Close at his heels came the colonel himself, a man rather over the middle size, but of an exceed- ing thinness. I do not think that I have ever seen so thin a man. His whole face sharpened away into nose and chin, and the skin of his cheeks was drawn quite tense over his outstanding bones. Yet this emaciation seemed to be his natural habit, and due to no disease, for his eye was bright, his step brisk, and his bearing assured. He was plainly but neatly dressed, and his age, I should judge, would be nearer forty than thirty. “ ‘Mr. Hatherley?’ said he, with something of a German accent. ‘You have been recommended to me, Mr. Hatherley, as being a man who is not only pro?cient in his profession but is also discreet and capable of preserving a secret.’ “I bowed, feeling as ?attered as any young man would at such an address. ‘May I ask who it was who gave me so good a character?’ “ ‘Well, perhaps it is better that I should not tell you that just at this moment. I have it from the same source that you are both an orphan and a bachelor and are residing alone in London.’ “ ‘That is quite correct,’ I answered; ‘but you will excuse me if I say that I cannot see how all this bears upon my professional quali?cations. I understand that it was on a professional matter that you wished to speak to me?’ “ ‘Undoubtedly so. But you will ?nd that all I say is really to the point. I have a professional commission for you, but absolute secrecy is quite essential—absolute secrecy, you understand, and of course we may expect that more from a man who is alone than from one who lives in the bo- som of his family.’ “ ‘If I promise to keep a secret,’ said I, ‘you may absolutely depend upon my doing so.’ “He looked very hard at me as I spoke, and it seemed to me that I had never seen so suspicious and questioning an eye. “ ‘Do you promise, then?’ said he at last. “ ‘Yes, I promise.’ “ ‘Absolute and complete silence before, dur- ing, and after? No reference to the matter at all, either in word or writing?’ “ ‘I have already given you my word.’ “ ‘Very good.’ He suddenly sprang up, and darting like lightning across the room he ?ung open the door. The passage outside was empty. “ ‘That’s all right,’ said he, coming back. ‘I know that clerks are sometimes curious as to their master’s affairs. Now we can talk in safety.’ He drew up his chair very close to mine and began to stare at me again with the same questioning and thoughtful look. “A feeling of repulsion, and of something akin to fear had begun to rise within me at the strange antics of this ?eshless man. Even my dread of los- ing a client could not restrain me from showing my impatience. “ ‘I beg that you will state your business, sir,’ said I; ‘my time is of value.’ Heaven forgive me for that last sentence, but the words came to my lips. “ ‘How would ?fty guineas for a night’s work suit you?’ he asked. “ ‘Most admirably.’ “ ‘I say a night’s work, but an hour’s would be nearer the mark. I simply want your opinion about a hydraulic stamping machine which has got out of gear. If you show us what is wrong we shall soon set it right ourselves. What do you think of such a commission as that?’ “ ‘The work appears to be light and the pay mu- ni?cent.’ “ ‘Precisely so. We shall want you to come to- night by the last train.’ “ ‘Where to?’ “ ‘To Eyford, in Berkshire. It is a little place near the borders of Oxfordshire, and within seven miles of Reading. There is a train from Paddington which would bring you there at about11.15.’ “ ‘Very good.’ “ ‘I shall come down in a carriage to meet you.’ “ ‘There is a drive, then?’ “ ‘Yes, our little place is quite out in the country. It is a good seven miles from Eyford Station.’ “ ‘Then we can hardly get there before mid- night. I suppose there would be no chance of 229 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb a train back. I should be compelled to stop the night.’ “ ‘Yes, we could easily give you a shake-down.’ “ ‘That is very awkward. Could I not come at some more convenient hour?’ “ ‘We have judged it best that you should come late. It is to recompense you for any inconvenience that we are paying to you, a young and unknown man, a fee which would buy an opinion from the very heads of your profession. Still, of course, if you would like to draw out of the business, there is plenty of time to do so.’ “I thought of the ?fty guineas, and of how very useful they would be to me. ‘Not at all,’ said I, ‘I shall be very happy to accommodate myself to your wishes. I should like, however, to understand a little more clearly what it is that you wish me to do.’ “ ‘Quite so. It is very natural that the pledge of secrecy which we have exacted from you should have aroused your curiosity. I have no wish to commit you to anything without your having it all laid before you. I suppose that we are absolutely safe from eavesdroppers?’ “ ‘Entirely.’ “ ‘Then the matter stands thus. You are proba- bly aware that fuller’s-earth is a valuable product, and that it is only found in one or two places in England?’ “ ‘I have heard so.’ “ ‘Some little time ago I bought a small place—a very small place—within ten miles of Reading. I was fortunate enough to discover that there was a deposit of fuller’s-earth in one of my ?elds. On examining it, however, I found that this deposit was a comparatively small one, and that it formed a link between two very much larger ones upon the right and left—both of them, however, in the grounds of my neighbours. These good peo- ple were absolutely ignorant that their land con- tained that which was quite as valuable as a gold- mine. Naturally, it was to my interest to buy their land before they discovered its true value, but un- fortunately I had no capital by which I could do this. I took a few of my friends into the secret, however, and they suggested that we should qui- etly and secretly work our own little deposit and that in this way we should earn the money which would enable us to buy the neighbouring ?elds. This we have now been doing for some time, and in order to help us in our operations we erected a hydraulic press. This press, as I have already ex- plained, has got out of order, and we wish your advice upon the subject. We guard our secret very jealously, however, and if it once became known that we had hydraulic engineers coming to our lit- tle house, it would soon rouse inquiry, and then, if the facts came out, it would be good-bye to any chance of getting these ?elds and carrying out our plans. That is why I have made you promise me that you will not tell a human being that you are going to Eyford to-night. I hope that I make it all plain?’ “ ‘I quite follow you,’ said I. ‘The only point which I could not quite understand was what use you could make of a hydraulic press in excavating fuller’s-earth, which, as I understand, is dug out like gravel from a pit.’ “ ‘Ah!’ said he carelessly, ‘we have our own process. We compress the earth into bricks, so as to remove them without revealing what they are. But that is a mere detail. I have taken you fully into my con?dence now, Mr. Hatherley, and I have shown you how I trust you.’ He rose as he spoke. ‘I shall expect you, then, at Eyford at11.15.’ “ ‘I shall certainly be there.’ “ ‘And not a word to a soul.’ He looked at me with a last long, questioning gaze, and then, pressing my hand in a cold, dank grasp, he hur- ried from the room. “Well, when I came to think it all over in cool blood I was very much astonished, as you may both think, at this sudden commission which had been intrusted to me. On the one hand, of course, I was glad, for the fee was at least tenfold what I should have asked had I set a price upon my own services, and it was possible that this order might lead to other ones. On the other hand, the face and manner of my patron had made an unpleasant im- pression upon me, and I could not think that his explanation of the fuller’s-earth was suf?cient to explain the necessity for my coming at midnight, and his extreme anxiety lest I should tell anyone of my errand. However, I threw all fears to the winds, ate a hearty supper, drove to Paddington, and started off, having obeyed to the letter the in- junction as to holding my tongue. “At Reading I had to change not only my car- riage but my station. However, I was in time for the last train to Eyford, and I reached the little dim-lit station after eleven o’clock. I was the only passenger who got out there, and there was no one upon the platform save a single sleepy porter with a lantern. As I passed out through the wicket gate, however, I found my acquaintance of the morning waiting in the shadow upon the other side. With- out a word he grasped my arm and hurried me 230 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb into a carriage, the door of which was standing open. He drew up the windows on either side, tapped on the wood-work, and away we went as fast as the horse could go.” “One horse?” interjected Holmes. “Yes, only one.” “Did you observe the colour?” “Yes, I saw it by the side-lights when I was step- ping into the carriage. It was a chestnut.” “Tired-looking or fresh?” “Oh, fresh and glossy.” “Thank you. I am sorry to have interrupted you. Pray continue your most interesting state- ment.” “Away we went then, and we drove for at least an hour. Colonel Lysander Stark had said that it was only seven miles, but I should think, from the rate that we seemed to go, and from the time that we took, that it must have been nearer twelve. He sat at my side in silence all the time, and I was aware, more than once when I glanced in his di- rection, that he was looking at me with great in- tensity. The country roads seem to be not very good in that part of the world, for we lurched and jolted terribly. I tried to look out of the windows to see something of where we were, but they were made of frosted glass, and I could make out noth- ing save the occasional bright blur of a passing light. Now and then I hazarded some remark to break the monotony of the journey, but the colonel answered only in monosyllables, and the conversa- tion soon ?agged. At last, however, the bumping of the road was exchanged for the crisp smooth- ness of a gravel-drive, and the carriage came to a stand. Colonel Lysander Stark sprang out, and, as I followed after him, pulled me swiftly into a porch which gaped in front of us. We stepped, as it were, right out of the carriage and into the hall, so that I failed to catch the most ?eeting glance of the front of the house. The instant that I had crossed the threshold the door slammed heavily behind us, and I heard faintly the rattle of the wheels as the carriage drove away. “It was pitch dark inside the house, and the colonel fumbled about looking for matches and muttering under his breath. Suddenly a door opened at the other end of the passage, and a long, golden bar of light shot out in our direction. It grew broader, and a woman appeared with a lamp in her hand, which she held above her head, push- ing her face forward and peering at us. I could see that she was pretty, and from the gloss with which the light shone upon her dark dress I knew that it was a rich material. She spoke a few words in a foreign tongue in a tone as though asking a ques- tion, and when my companion answered in a gruff monosyllable she gave such a start that the lamp nearly fell from her hand. Colonel Stark went up to her, whispered something in her ear, and then, pushing her back into the room from whence she had come, he walked towards me again with the lamp in his hand. “ ‘Perhaps you will have the kindness to wait in this room for a few minutes,’ said he, throwing open another door. It was a quiet, little, plainly furnished room, with a round table in the centre, on which several German books were scattered. Colonel Stark laid down the lamp on the top of a harmonium beside the door. ‘I shall not keep you waiting an instant,’ said he, and vanished into the darkness. “I glanced at the books upon the table, and in spite of my ignorance of German I could see that two of them were treatises on science, the others being volumes of poetry. Then I walked across to the window, hoping that I might catch some glimpse of the country-side, but an oak shutter, heavily barred, was folded across it. It was a won- derfully silent house. There was an old clock tick- ing loudly somewhere in the passage, but other- wise everything was deadly still. A vague feeling of uneasiness began to steal over me. Who were these German people, and what were they doing living in this strange, out-of-the-way place? And where was the place? I was ten miles or so from Eyford, that was all I knew, but whether north, south, east, or west I had no idea. For that mat- ter, Reading, and possibly other large towns, were within that radius, so the place might not be so secluded, after all. Yet it was quite certain, from the absolute stillness, that we were in the country. I paced up and down the room, humming a tune under my breath to keep up my spirits and feeling that I was thoroughly earning my ?fty-guinea fee. “Suddenly, without any preliminary sound in the midst of the utter stillness, the door of my room swung slowly open. The woman was stand- ing in the aperture, the darkness of the hall behind her, the yellow light from my lamp beating upon her eager and beautiful face. I could see at a glance that she was sick with fear, and the sight sent a chill to my own heart. She held up one shaking ?nger to warn me to be silent, and she shot a few whispered words of broken English at me, her eyes glancing back, like those of a frightened horse, into the gloom behind her. “ ‘I would go,’ said she, trying hard, as it seemed to me, to speak calmly; ‘I would go. I 231 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb should not stay here. There is no good for you to do.’ “ ‘But, madam,’ said I, ‘I have not yet done what I came for. I cannot possibly leave until I have seen the machine.’ “ ‘It is not worth your while to wait,’ she went on. ‘You can pass through the door; no one hin- ders.’ And then, seeing that I smiled and shook my head, she suddenly threw aside her constraint and made a step forward, with her hands wrung together. ‘For the love of Heaven!’ she whispered, ‘get away from here before it is too late!’ “But I am somewhat headstrong by nature, and the more ready to engage in an affair when there is some obstacle in the way. I thought of my ?fty- guinea fee, of my wearisome journey, and of the unpleasant night which seemed to be before me. Was it all to go for nothing? Why should I slink away without having carried out my commission, and without the payment which was my due? This woman might, for all I knew, be a monomaniac. With a stout bearing, therefore, though her man- ner had shaken me more than I cared to confess, I still shook my head and declared my intention of remaining where I was. She was about to re- new her entreaties when a door slammed over- head, and the sound of several footsteps was heard upon the stairs. She listened for an instant, threw up her hands with a despairing gesture, and van- ished as suddenly and as noiselessly as she had come. “The newcomers were Colonel Lysander Stark and a short thick man with a chinchilla beard growing out of the creases of his double chin, who was introduced to me as Mr. Ferguson. “ ‘This is my secretary and manager,’ said the colonel. ‘By the way, I was under the impression that I left this door shut just now. I fear that you have felt the draught.’ “ ‘On the contrary,’ said I, ‘I opened the door myself because I felt the room to be a little close.’ “He shot one of his suspicious looks at me. ‘Perhaps we had better proceed to business, then,’ said he. ‘Mr. Ferguson and I will take you up to see the machine.’ “ ‘I had better put my hat on, I suppose.’ “ ‘Oh, no, it is in the house.’ “ ‘What, you dig fuller’s-earth in the house?’ “ ‘No, no. This is only where we compress it. But never mind that. All we wish you to do is to examine the machine and to let us know what is wrong with it.’ “We went upstairs together, the colonel ?rst with the lamp, the fat manager and I behind him. It was a labyrinth of an old house, with corri- dors, passages, narrow winding staircases, and lit- tle low doors, the thresholds of which were hol- lowed out by the generations who had crossed them. There were no carpets and no signs of any furniture above the ground ?oor, while the plas- ter was peeling off the walls, and the damp was breaking through in green, unhealthy blotches. I tried to put on as unconcerned an air as possible, but I had not forgotten the warnings of the lady, even though I disregarded them, and I kept a keen eye upon my two companions. Ferguson appeared to be a morose and silent man, but I could see from the little that he said that he was at least a fellow- countryman. “Colonel Lysander Stark stopped at last before a low door, which he unlocked. Within was a small, square room, in which the three of us could hardly get at one time. Ferguson remained out- side, and the colonel ushered me in. “ ‘We are now,’ said he, ‘actually within the hy- draulic press, and it would be a particularly un- pleasant thing for us if anyone were to turn it on. The ceiling of this small chamber is really the end of the descending piston, and it comes down with the force of many tons upon this metal ?oor. There are small lateral columns of water outside which receive the force, and which transmit and multi- ply it in the manner which is familiar to you. The machine goes readily enough, but there is some stiffness in the working of it, and it has lost a little of its force. Perhaps you will have the goodness to look it over and to show us how we can set it right.’ “I took the lamp from him, and I examined the machine very thoroughly. It was indeed a gi- gantic one, and capable of exercising enormous pressure. When I passed outside, however, and pressed down the levers which controlled it, I knew at once by the whishing sound that there was a slight leakage, which allowed a regurgita- tion of water through one of the side cylinders. An examination showed that one of the india-rubber bands which was round the head of a driving-rod had shrunk so as not quite to ?ll the socket along which it worked. This was clearly the cause of the loss of power, and I pointed it out to my compan- ions, who followed my remarks very carefully and asked several practical questions as to how they should proceed to set it right. When I had made it clear to them, I returned to the main chamber of the machine and took a good look at it to satisfy 232 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb my own curiosity. It was obvious at a glance that the story of the fuller’s-earth was the merest fab- rication, for it would be absurd to suppose that so powerful an engine could be designed for so inad- equate a purpose. The walls were of wood, but the ?oor consisted of a large iron trough, and when I came to examine it I could see a crust of metallic deposit all over it. I had stooped and was scraping at this to see exactly what it was when I heard a muttered exclamation in German and saw the ca- daverous face of the colonel looking down at me. “ ‘What are you doing there?’ he asked. “I felt angry at having been tricked by so elab- orate a story as that which he had told me. ‘I was admiring your fuller’s-earth,’ said I; ‘I think that I should be better able to advise you as to your machine if I knew what the exact purpose was for which it was used.’ “The instant that I uttered the words I regretted the rashness of my speech. His face set hard, and a baleful light sprang up in his grey eyes. “ ‘Very well,’ said he, ‘you shall know all about the machine.’ He took a step backward, slammed the little door, and turned the key in the lock. I rushed towards it and pulled at the handle, but it was quite secure, and did not give in the least to my kicks and shoves. ‘Hullo!’ I yelled. ‘Hullo! Colonel! Let me out!’ “And then suddenly in the silence I heard a sound which sent my heart into my mouth. It was the clank of the levers and the swish of the leaking cylinder. He had set the engine at work. The lamp still stood upon the ?oor where I had placed it when examining the trough. By its light I saw that the black ceiling was coming down upon me, slowly, jerkily, but, as none knew bet- ter than myself, with a force which must within a minute grind me to a shapeless pulp. I threw myself, screaming, against the door, and dragged with my nails at the lock. I implored the colonel to let me out, but the remorseless clanking of the levers drowned my cries. The ceiling was only a foot or two above my head, and with my hand up- raised I could feel its hard, rough surface. Then it ?ashed through my mind that the pain of my death would depend very much upon the position in which I met it. If I lay on my face the weight would come upon my spine, and I shuddered to think of that dreadful snap. Easier the other way, perhaps; and yet, had I the nerve to lie and look up at that deadly black shadow wavering down upon me? Already I was unable to stand erect, when my eye caught something which brought a gush of hope back to my heart. “I have said that though the ?oor and ceiling were of iron, the walls were of wood. As I gave a last hurried glance around, I saw a thin line of yel- low light between two of the boards, which broad- ened and broadened as a small panel was pushed backward. For an instant I could hardly believe that here was indeed a door which led away from death. The next instant I threw myself through, and lay half-fainting upon the other side. The panel had closed again behind me, but the crash of the lamp, and a few moments afterwards the clang of the two slabs of metal, told me how narrow had been my escape. “I was recalled to myself by a frantic plucking at my wrist, and I found myself lying upon the stone ?oor of a narrow corridor, while a woman bent over me and tugged at me with her left hand, while she held a candle in her right. It was the same good friend whose warning I had so fool- ishly rejected. “ ‘Come! come!’ she cried breathlessly. ‘They will be here in a moment. They will see that you are not there. Oh, do not waste the so-precious time, but come!’ “This time, at least, I did not scorn her advice. I staggered to my feet and ran with her along the corridor and down a winding stair. The latter led to another broad passage, and just as we reached it we heard the sound of running feet and the shout- ing of two voices, one answering the other from the ?oor on which we were and from the one be- neath. My guide stopped and looked about her like one who is at her wit’s end. Then she threw open a door which led into a bedroom, through the window of which the moon was shining brightly. “ ‘It is your only chance,’ said she. ‘It is high, but it may be that you can jump it.’ “As she spoke a light sprang into view at the further end of the passage, and I saw the lean ?gure of Colonel Lysander Stark rushing forward with a lantern in one hand and a weapon like a butcher’s cleaver in the other. I rushed across the bedroom, ?ung open the window, and looked out. How quiet and sweet and wholesome the garden looked in the moonlight, and it could not be more than thirty feet down. I clambered out upon the sill, but I hesitated to jump until I should have heard what passed between my saviour and the ruf?an who pursued me. If she were ill-used, then at any risks I was determined to go back to her as- sistance. The thought had hardly ?ashed through my mind before he was at the door, pushing his way past her; but she threw her arms round him and tried to hold him back. 233 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb “ ‘Fritz! Fritz!’ she cried in English, ‘remem- ber your promise after the last time. You said it should not be again. He will be silent! Oh, he will be silent!’ “ ‘You are mad, Elise!’ he shouted, struggling to break away from her. ‘You will be the ruin of us. He has seen too much. Let me pass, I say!’ He dashed her to one side, and, rushing to the win- dow, cut at me with his heavy weapon. I had let myself go, and was hanging by the hands to the sill, when his blow fell. I was conscious of a dull pain, my grip loosened, and I fell into the garden below. “I was shaken but not hurt by the fall; so I picked myself up and rushed off among the bushes as hard as I could run, for I understood that I was far from being out of danger yet. Sud- denly, however, as I ran, a deadly dizziness and sickness came over me. I glanced down at my hand, which was throbbing painfully, and then, for the ?rst time, saw that my thumb had been cut off and that the blood was pouring from my wound. I endeavoured to tie my handkerchief round it, but there came a sudden buzzing in my ears, and next moment I fell in a dead faint among the rose- bushes. “How long I remained unconscious I cannot tell. It must have been a very long time, for the moon had sunk, and a bright morning was breaking when I came to myself. My clothes were all sodden with dew, and my coat-sleeve was drenched with blood from my wounded thumb. The smarting of it recalled in an instant all the par- ticulars of my night’s adventure, and I sprang to my feet with the feeling that I might hardly yet be safe from my pursuers. But to my astonishment, when I came to look round me, neither house nor garden were to be seen. I had been lying in an an- gle of the hedge close by the highroad, and just a little lower down was a long building, which proved, upon my approaching it, to be the very station at which I had arrived upon the previous night. Were it not for the ugly wound upon my hand, all that had passed during those dreadful hours might have been an evil dream. “Half dazed, I went into the station and asked about the morning train. There would be one to Reading in less than an hour. The same porter was on duty, I found, as had been there when I arrived. I inquired of him whether he had ever heard of Colonel Lysander Stark. The name was strange to him. Had he observed a carriage the night before waiting for me? No, he had not. Was there a police-station anywhere near? There was one about three miles off. “It was too far for me to go, weak and ill as I was. I determined to wait until I got back to town before telling my story to the police. It was a lit- tle past six when I arrived, so I went ?rst to have my wound dressed, and then the doctor was kind enough to bring me along here. I put the case into your hands and shall do exactly what you advise.” We both sat in silence for some little time af- ter listening to this extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock Holmes pulled down from the shelf one of the ponderous commonplace books in which he placed his cuttings. “Here is an advertisement which will interest you,” said he. “It appeared in all the papers about a year ago. Listen to this:“ ‘Lost, on the9th inst., Mr. Jeremiah Hayling, aged twenty-six, a hydraulic en- gineer. Left his lodgings at ten o’clock at night, and has not been heard of since. Was dressed in—’etc., etc. Ha! That represents the last time that the colonel needed to have his machine overhauled, I fancy.” “Good heavens!” cried my patient. “Then that explains what the girl said.” “Undoubtedly. It is quite clear that the colonel was a cool and desperate man, who was absolutely determined that nothing should stand in the way of his little game, like those out-and-out pirates who will leave no survivor from a captured ship. Well, every moment now is precious, so if you feel equal to it we shall go down to Scotland Yard at once as a preliminary to starting for Eyford.” Some three hours or so afterwards we were all in the train together, bound from Reading to the little Berkshire village. There were Sherlock Holmes, the hydraulic engineer, Inspector Brad- street, of Scotland Yard, a plain-clothes man, and myself. Bradstreet had spread an ordnance map of the county out upon the seat and was busy with his compasses drawing a circle with Eyford for its centre. “There you are,” said he. “That circle is drawn at a radius of ten miles from the village. The place we want must be somewhere near that line. You said ten miles, I think, sir.” “It was an hour’s good drive.” “And you think that they brought you back all that way when you were unconscious?” 234 TheAdventure of theEngineer’sThumb “They must have done so. I have a confused memory, too, of having been lifted and conveyed somewhere.” “What I cannot understand,” said I, “is why they should have spared you when they found you lying fainting in the garden. Perhaps the villain was softened by the woman’s entreaties.” “I hardly think that likely. I never saw a more inexorable face in my life.” “Oh, we shall soon clear up all that,” said Brad- street. “Well, I have drawn my circle, and I only wish I knew at what point upon it the folk that we are in search of are to be found.” “I think I could lay my ?nger on it,” said Holmes quietly. “Really, now!” cried the inspector, “you have formed your opinion! Come, now, we shall see who agrees with you. I say it is south, for the country is more deserted there.” “And I say east,” said my patient. “I am for west,” remarked the plain-clothes man. “There are several quiet little villages up there.” “And I am for north,” said I, “because there are no hills there, and our friend says that he did not notice the carriage go up any.” “Come,” cried the inspector, laughing; “it’s a very pretty diversity of opinion. We have boxed the compass among us. Who do you give your casting vote to?” “You are all wrong.” “But we can’tallbe.” “Oh, yes, you can. This is my point.” He placed his ?nger in the centre of the circle. “This is where we shall ?nd them.” “But the twelve-mile drive?” gasped Hatherley. “Six out and six back. Nothing simpler. You say yourself that the horse was fresh and glossy when you got in. How could it be that if it had gone twelve miles over heavy roads?” “Indeed, it is a likely ruse enough,” observed Bradstreet thoughtfully. “Of course there can be no doubt as to the nature of this gang.” “None at all,” said Holmes. “They are coin- ers on a large scale, and have used the machine to form the amalgam which has taken the place of silver.” “We have known for some time that a clever gang was at work,” said the inspector. “They have been turning out half-crowns by the thousand. We even traced them as far as Reading, but could get no farther, for they had covered their traces in a way that showed that they were very old hands. But now, thanks to this lucky chance, I think that we have got them right enough.” But the inspector was mistaken, for those crim- inals were not destined to fall into the hands of justice. As we rolled into Eyford Station we saw a gigantic column of smoke which streamed up from behind a small clump of trees in the neighbour- hood and hung like an immense ostrich feather over the landscape. “A house on ?re?” asked Bradstreet as the train steamed off again on its way. “Yes, sir!” said the station-master. “When did it break out?” “I hear that it was during the night, sir, but it has got worse, and the whole place is in a blaze.” “Whose house is it?” “Dr. Becher’s.” “Tell me,” broke in the engineer, “is Dr. Becher a German, very thin, with a long, sharp nose?” The station-master laughed heartily. “No, sir, Dr. Becher is an Englishman, and there isn’t a man in the parish who has a better-lined waistcoat. But he has a gentleman staying with him, a patient, as I understand, who is a foreigner, and he looks as if a little good Berkshire beef would do him no harm.” The station-master had not ?nished his speech before we were all hastening in the direction of the ?re. The road topped a low hill, and there was a great widespread whitewashed building in front of us, spouting ?re at every chink and window, while in the garden in front three ?re-engines were vainly striving to keep the ?ames under. “That’s it!” cried Hatherley, in intense excite- ment. “There is the gravel-drive, and there are the rose-bushes where I lay. That second window is the one that I jumped from.” “Well, at least,” said Holmes, “you have had your revenge upon them. There can be no ques- tion that it was your oil-lamp which, when it was crushed in the press, set ?re to the wooden walls, though no doubt they were too excited in the chase after you to observe it at the time. Now keep your eyes open in this crowd for your friends of last night, though I very much fear that they are a good hundred miles off by now.” And Holmes’ fears came to be realised, for from that day to this no word has ever been heard either of the beautiful woman, the sinister German, or the morose Englishman. Early that morning a peasant had met a cart containing several peo- ple and some very bulky boxes driving rapidly in 235 the direction of Reading, but there all traces of the fugitives disappeared, and even Holmes’ ingenu- ity failed ever to discover the least clue as to their whereabouts. The ?remen had been much perturbed at the strange arrangements which they had found within, and still more so by discovering a newly severed human thumb upon a window-sill of the second ?oor. About sunset, however, their ef- forts were at last successful, and they subdued the ?ames, but not before the roof had fallen in, and the whole place been reduced to such abso- lute ruin that, save some twisted cylinders and iron piping, not a trace remained of the machinery which had cost our unfortunate acquaintance so dearly. Large masses of nickel and of tin were dis- covered stored in an out-house, but no coins were to be found, which may have explained the pres- ence of those bulky boxes which have been already referred to. How our hydraulic engineer had been con- veyed from the garden to the spot where he re- covered his senses might have remained forever a mystery were it not for the soft mould, which told us a very plain tale. He had evidently been car- ried down by two persons, one of whom had re- markably small feet and the other unusually large ones. On the whole, it was most probable that the silent Englishman, being less bold or less murder- ous than his companion, had assisted the woman to bear the unconscious man out of the way of dan- ger. “Well,” said our engineer ruefully as we took our seats to return once more to London, “it has been a pretty business for me! I have lost my thumb and I have lost a ?fty-guinea fee, and what have I gained?” “Experience,” said Holmes, laughing. “Indi- rectly it may be of value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain the reputation of be- ing excellent company for the remainder of your existence.” The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor TheLordSt. Simon marriage, and its cu- rious termination, have long ceased to be a subject of interest in those exalted circles in which the unfortunate bride- groom moves. Fresh scandals have eclipsed it, and their more piquant details have drawn the gos- sips away from this four-year-old drama. As I have reason to believe, however, that the full facts have never been revealed to the general public, and as my friend Sherlock Holmes had a considerable share in clearing the matter up, I feel that no mem- oir of him would be complete without some little sketch of this remarkable episode. It was a few weeks before my own marriage, during the days when I was still sharing rooms with Holmes in Baker Street, that he came home from an afternoon stroll to nd a letter on the table waiting for him. I had remained indoors all day, for the weather had taken a sudden turn to rain, with high autumnal winds, and the Jezail bullet which I had brought back in one of my limbs as a relic of my Afghan campaign throbbed with dull persistence. With my body in one easy-chair and my legs upon another, I had surrounded myself with a cloud of newspapers until at last, saturated with the news of the day, I tossed them all aside and lay listless, watching the huge crest and mono- gram upon the envelope upon the table and won- dering lazily who my friend’s noble correspondent could be. ?Here is a very fashionable epistle,? I remarked as he entered. ?Your morning letters, if I remem- ber right, were from a sh-monger and a tide- waiter.? ?Yes, my correspondence has certainly the charm of variety,? he answered, smiling, ?and the humbler are usually the more interesting. This looks like one of those unwelcome social sum- monses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie.? He broke the seal and glanced over the con- tents. ?Oh, come, it may prove to be something of in- terest, after all.? ?Not social, then?? ?No, distinctly professional.? ?And from a noble client?? ?One of the highest in England.? ?My dear fellow, I congratulate you.? ?I assure you, Watson, without affectation, that the status of my client is a matter of less moment to me than the interest of his case. It is just possi- ble, however, that that also may not be wanting in this new investigation. You have been reading the papers diligently of late, have you not?? ?It looks like it,? said I ruefully, pointing to a huge bundle in the corner. ?I have had nothing else to do.? ?It is fortunate, for you will perhaps be able to post me up. I read nothing except the criminal news and the agony column. The latter is always instructive. But if you have followed recent events so closely you must have read about Lord St. Si- mon and his wedding?? ?Oh, yes, with the deepest interest.? ?That is well. The letter which I hold in my hand is from Lord St. Simon. I will read it to you, and in return you must turn over these papers and let me have whatever bears upon the matter. This is what he says: ? ‘My dearMr. SherlockHolmes: ? ‘Lord Backwater tells me that I may place implicit reliance upon your judg- ment and discretion. I have deter- mined, therefore, to call upon you and to consult you in reference to the very painful event which has occurred in connection with my wedding. Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is acting already in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no objection to your co-operation, and that he even thinks that it might be of some assistance. I will call at four o’clock in the after- noon, and, should you have any other engagement at that time, I hope that you will postpone it, as this matter is of paramount importance. ? ‘Yours faithfully, ? ‘St. Simon.’ ?It is dated from Grosvenor Mansions, written with a quill pen, and the noble lord has had the misfortune to get a smear of ink upon the outer side of his right little nger,? remarked Holmes as he folded up the epistle. ?He says four o’clock. It is three now. He will be here in an hour.? ?Then I have just time, with your assistance, to get clear upon the subject. Turn over those papers and arrange the extracts in their order of time, while I take a glance as to who our client is.? He picked a red-covered volume from a line of books of reference beside the mantelpiece. ?Here he is,? said he, sitting down and attening it out upon his knee. ? ‘Lord Robert Walsingham de Vere 239 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral.’ Hum! ‘Arms: Azure, three caltrops in chief over a fess sable. Born in1846.’ He’s forty-one years of age, which is mature for marriage. Was Under- Secretary for the colonies in a late administration. The Duke, his father, was at one time Secretary for Foreign Affairs. They inherit Plantagenet blood by direct descent, and Tudor on the distaff side. Ha! Well, there is nothing very instructive in all this. I think that I must turn to you Watson, for some- thing more solid.” “I have very little dif?culty in ?nding what I want,” said I, “for the facts are quite recent, and the matter struck me as remarkable. I feared to re- fer them to you, however, as I knew that you had an inquiry on hand and that you disliked the in- trusion of other matters.” “Oh, you mean the little problem of the Grosvenor Square furniture van. That is quite cleared up now—though, indeed, it was obvious from the ?rst. Pray give me the results of your newspaper selections.” “Here is the ?rst notice which I can ?nd. It is in the personal column of theMorning Post, and dates, as you see, some weeks back:“ ‘A marriage has been arranged [it says] and will, if rumour is correct, very shortly take place, between Lord Robert St. Simon, second son of the Duke of Balmoral, and Miss Hatty Doran, the only daughter of Aloysius Doran. Esq., of San Francisco, Cal., U.S.A.’That is all.” “Terse and to the point,” remarked Holmes, stretching his long, thin legs towards the ?re. “There was a paragraph amplifying this in one of the society papers of the same week. Ah, here it is:“ ‘There will soon be a call for protection in the marriage market, for the present free-trade principle appears to tell heavily against our home product. One by one the management of the noble houses of Great Britain is passing into the hands of our fair cousins from across the Atlantic. An important addition has been made during the last week to the list of the prizes which have been borne away by these charming invaders. Lord St. Simon, who has shown himself for over twenty years proof against the little god’s arrows, has now de?nitely announced his approaching marriage with Miss Hatty Doran, the fascinating daugh- ter of a California millionaire. Miss Do- ran, whose graceful ?gure and striking face attracted much attention at the Westbury House festivities, is an only child, and it is currently reported that her dowry will run to considerably over the six ?gures, with expectancies for the future. As it is an open secret that the Duke of Balmoral has been compelled to sell his pictures within the last few years, and as Lord St. Simon has no property of his own save the small estate of Birchmoor, it is obvious that the Califor- nian heiress is not the only gainer by an alliance which will enable her to make the easy and common transition from a Repub- lican lady to a British peeress.’ ”“Anything else?” asked Holmes, yawning. “Oh, yes; plenty. Then there is another note in theMorning Postto say that the marriage would be an absolutely quiet one, that it would be at St. George’s, Hanover Square, that only half a dozen intimate friends would be invited, and that the party would return to the furnished house at Lan- caster Gate which has been taken by Mr. Aloysius Doran. Two days later—that is, on Wednesday last—there is a curt announcement that the wed- ding had taken place, and that the honeymoon would be passed at Lord Backwater’s place, near Peters?eld. Those are all the notices which ap- peared before the disappearance of the bride.” “Before the what?” asked Holmes with a start. “The vanishing of the lady.” “When did she vanish, then?” “At the wedding breakfast.” “Indeed. This is more interesting than it promised to be; quite dramatic, in fact.” “Yes; it struck me as being a little out of the common.” “They often vanish before the ceremony, and occasionally during the honeymoon; but I cannot call to mind anything quite so prompt as this. Pray let me have the details.” “I warn you that they are very incomplete.” “Perhaps we may make them less so.” “Such as they are, they are set forth in a sin- gle article of a morning paper of yesterday, which I will read to you. It is headed, ‘Singular Occur- rence at a Fashionable Wedding’: 240 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor “ ‘The family of Lord Robert St. Simon has been thrown into the greatest consterna- tion by the strange and painful episodes which have taken place in connection with his wedding. The ceremony, as shortly announced in the papers of yesterday, oc- curred on the previous morning; but it is only now that it has been possible to con- ?rm the strange rumours which have been so persistently ?oating about. In spite of the attempts of the friends to hush the mat- ter up, so much public attention has now been drawn to it that no good purpose can be served by affecting to disregard what is a common subject for conversation. “ ‘The ceremony, which was performed at St. George’s, Hanover Square, was a very quiet one, no one being present save the father of the bride, Mr. Aloysius Doran, the Duchess of Balmoral, Lord Backwater, Lord Eustace and Lady Clara St. Simon (the younger brother and sister of the bride- groom), and Lady Alicia Whittington. The whole party proceeded afterwards to the house of Mr. Aloysius Doran, at Lancaster Gate, where breakfast had been prepared. It appears that some little trouble was caused by a woman, whose name has not been ascertained, who endeavoured to force her way into the house after the bridal party, alleging that she had some claim upon Lord St. Simon. It was only after a painful and prolonged scene that she was ejected by the butler and the footman. The bride, who had fortunately entered the house be- fore this unpleasant interruption, had sat down to breakfast with the rest, when she complained of a sudden indisposition and retired to her room. Her prolonged absence having caused some comment, her father followed her, but learned from her maid that she had only come up to her chamber for an instant, caught up an ulster and bon- net, and hurried down to the passage. One of the footmen declared that he had seen a lady leave the house thus apparelled, but had refused to credit that it was his mis- tress, believing her to be with the com- pany. On ascertaining that his daughter had disappeared, Mr. Aloysius Doran, in conjunction with the bridegroom, instantly put themselves in communication with the police, and very energetic inquiries are be- ing made, which will probably result in a speedy clearing up of this very singu- lar business. Up to a late hour last night, however, nothing had transpired as to the whereabouts of the missing lady. There are rumours of foul play in the matter, and it is said that the police have caused the arrest of the woman who had caused the original dis- turbance, in the belief that, from jealousy or some other motive, she may have been con- cerned in the strange disappearance of the bride.’ ”“And is that all?” “Only one little item in another of the morning papers, but it is a suggestive one.” “And it is—” “That Miss Flora Millar, the lady who had caused the disturbance, has actually been arrested. It appears that she was formerly adanseuseat the Allegro, and that she has known the bridegroom for some years. There are no further particulars, and the whole case is in your hands now—so far as it has been set forth in the public press.” “And an exceedingly interesting case it appears to be. I would not have missed it for worlds. But there is a ring at the bell, Watson, and as the clock makes it a few minutes after four, I have no doubt that this will prove to be our noble client. Do not dream of going, Watson, for I very much prefer having a witness, if only as a check to my own memory.” “Lord Robert St. Simon,” announced our page- boy, throwing open the door. A gentleman en- tered, with a pleasant, cultured face, high-nosed and pale, with something perhaps of petulance about the mouth, and with the steady, well-opened eye of a man whose pleasant lot it had ever been to command and to be obeyed. His manner was brisk, and yet his general appearance gave an un- due impression of age, for he had a slight for- ward stoop and a little bend of the knees as he walked. His hair, too, as he swept off his very curly-brimmed hat, was grizzled round the edges and thin upon the top. As to his dress, it was care- ful to the verge of foppishness, with high collar, black frock-coat, white waistcoat, yellow gloves, patent-leather shoes, and light-coloured gaiters. He advanced slowly into the room, turning his head from left to right, and swinging in his right hand the cord which held his golden eyeglasses. “Good-day, Lord St. Simon,” said Holmes, ris- ing and bowing. “Pray take the basket-chair. This is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson. Draw up a little to the ?re, and we will talk this matter over.” 241 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor “A most painful matter to me, as you can most readily imagine, Mr. Holmes. I have been cut to the quick. I understand that you have already man- aged several delicate cases of this sort, sir, though I presume that they were hardly from the same class of society.” “No, I am descending.” “I beg pardon.” “My last client of the sort was a king.” “Oh, really! I had no idea. And which king?” “The King of Scandinavia.” “What! Had he lost his wife?” “You can understand,” said Holmes suavely, “that I extend to the affairs of my other clients the same secrecy which I promise to you in yours.” “Of course! Very right! very right! I’m sure I beg pardon. As to my own case, I am ready to give you any information which may assist you in forming an opinion.” “Thank you. I have already learned all that is in the public prints, nothing more. I presume that I may take it as correct—this article, for example, as to the disappearance of the bride.” Lord St. Simon glanced over it. “Yes, it is cor- rect, as far as it goes.” “But it needs a great deal of supplementing be- fore anyone could offer an opinion. I think that I may arrive at my facts most directly by question- ing you.” “Pray do so.” “When did you ?rst meet Miss Hatty Doran?” “In San Francisco, a year ago.” “You were travelling in the States?” “Yes.” “Did you become engaged then?” “No.” “But you were on a friendly footing?” “I was amused by her society, and she could see that I was amused.” “Her father is very rich?” “He is said to be the richest man on the Paci?c slope.” “And how did he make his money?” “In mining. He had nothing a few years ago. Then he struck gold, invested it, and came up by leaps and bounds.” “Now, what is your own impression as to the young lady’s—your wife’s character?” The nobleman swung his glasses a little faster and stared down into the ?re. “You see, Mr. Holmes,” said he, “my wife was twenty before her father became a rich man. During that time she ran free in a mining camp and wandered through woods or mountains, so that her education has come from Nature rather than from the schoolmas- ter. She is what we call in England a tomboy, with a strong nature, wild and free, unfettered by any sort of traditions. She is impetuous—volcanic, I was about to say. She is swift in making up her mind and fearless in carrying out her resolutions. On the other hand, I would not have given her the name which I have the honour to bear”—he gave a little stately cough—“had not I thought her to be at bottom a noble woman. I believe that she is capable of heroic self-sacri?ce and that anything dishonourable would be repugnant to her.” “Have you her photograph?” “I brought this with me.” He opened a locket and showed us the full face of a very lovely woman. It was not a photograph but an ivory miniature, and the artist had brought out the full effect of the lustrous black hair, the large dark eyes, and the exquisite mouth. Holmes gazed long and earnestly at it. Then he closed the locket and handed it back to Lord St. Simon. “The young lady came to London, then, and you renewed your acquaintance?” “Yes, her father brought her over for this last London season. I met her several times, became engaged to her, and have now married her.” “She brought, I understand, a considerable dowry?” “A fair dowry. Not more than is usual in my family.” “And this, of course, remains to you, since the marriage is afait accompli?” “I really have made no inquiries on the sub- ject.” “Very naturally not. Did you see Miss Doran on the day before the wedding?” “Yes.” “Was she in good spirits?” “Never better. She kept talking of what we should do in our future lives.” “Indeed! That is very interesting. And on the morning of the wedding?” “She was as bright as possible—at least until after the ceremony.” “And did you observe any change in her then?” “Well, to tell the truth, I saw then the ?rst signs that I had ever seen that her temper was just a lit- tle sharp. The incident however, was too trivial to 242 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor relate and can have no possible bearing upon the case.” “Pray let us have it, for all that.” “Oh, it is childish. She dropped her bouquet as we went towards the vestry. She was passing the front pew at the time, and it fell over into the pew. There was a moment’s delay, but the gentleman in the pew handed it up to her again, and it did not appear to be the worse for the fall. Yet when I spoke to her of the matter, she an- swered me abruptly; and in the carriage, on our way home, she seemed absurdly agitated over this tri?ing cause.” “Indeed! You say that there was a gentleman in the pew. Some of the general public were present, then?” “Oh, yes. It is impossible to exclude them when the church is open.” “This gentleman was not one of your wife’s friends?” “No, no; I call him a gentleman by courtesy, but he was quite a common-looking person. I hardly noticed his appearance. But really I think that we are wandering rather far from the point.” “Lady St. Simon, then, returned from the wed- ding in a less cheerful frame of mind than she had gone to it. What did she do on re-entering her fa- ther’s house?” “I saw her in conversation with her maid.” “And who is her maid?” “Alice is her name. She is an American and came from California with her.” “A con?dential servant?” “A little too much so. It seemed to me that her mistress allowed her to take great liberties. Still, of course, in America they look upon these things in a different way.” “How long did she speak to this Alice?” “Oh, a few minutes. I had something else to think of.” “You did not overhear what they said?” “Lady St. Simon said something about ‘jump- ing a claim.’ She was accustomed to use slang of the kind. I have no idea what she meant.” “American slang is very expressive sometimes. And what did your wife do when she ?nished speaking to her maid?” “She walked into the breakfast-room.” “On your arm?” “No, alone. She was very independent in lit- tle matters like that. Then, after we had sat down for ten minutes or so, she rose hurriedly, muttered some words of apology, and left the room. She never came back.” “But this maid, Alice, as I understand, deposes that she went to her room, covered her bride’s dress with a long ulster, put on a bonnet, and went out.” “Quite so. And she was afterwards seen walk- ing into Hyde Park in company with Flora Millar, a woman who is now in custody, and who had already made a disturbance at Mr. Doran’s house that morning.” “Ah, yes. I should like a few particulars as to this young lady, and your relations to her.” Lord St. Simon shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows. “We have been on a friendly footing for some years—I may say on a very friendly footing. She used to be at the Allegro. I have not treated her ungenerously, and she had no just cause of complaint against me, but you know what women are, Mr. Holmes. Flora was a dear little thing, but exceedingly hot-headed and devot- edly attached to me. She wrote me dreadful letters when she heard that I was about to be married, and, to tell the truth, the reason why I had the marriage celebrated so quietly was that I feared lest there might be a scandal in the church. She came to Mr. Doran’s door just after we returned, and she endeavoured to push her way in, utter- ing very abusive expressions towards my wife, and even threatening her, but I had foreseen the possi- bility of something of the sort, and I had two police fellows there in private clothes, who soon pushed her out again. She was quiet when she saw that there was no good in making a row.” “Did your wife hear all this?” “No, thank goodness, she did not.” “And she was seen walking with this very woman afterwards?” “Yes. That is what Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, looks upon as so serious. It is thought that Flora decoyed my wife out and laid some terrible trap for her.” “Well, it is a possible supposition.” “You think so, too?” “I did not say a probable one. But you do not yourself look upon this as likely?” “I do not think Flora would hurt a ?y.” 243 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor “Still, jealousy is a strange transformer of char- acters. Pray what is your own theory as to what took place?” “Well, really, I came to seek a theory, not to propound one. I have given you all the facts. Since you ask me, however, I may say that it has occurred to me as possible that the excitement of this affair, the consciousness that she had made so immense a social stride, had the effect of causing some little nervous disturbance in my wife.” “In short, that she had become suddenly de- ranged?” “Well, really, when I consider that she has turned her back—I will not say upon me, but upon so much that many have aspired to without suc- cess—I can hardly explain it in any other fashion.” “Well, certainly that is also a conceivable hy- pothesis,” said Holmes, smiling. “And now, Lord St. Simon, I think that I have nearly all my data. May I ask whether you were seated at the breakfast-table so that you could see out of the window?” “We could see the other side of the road and the Park.” “Quite so. Then I do not think that I need to detain you longer. I shall communicate with you.” “Should you be fortunate enough to solve this problem,” said our client, rising. “I have solved it.” “Eh? What was that?” “I say that I have solved it.” “Where, then, is my wife?” “That is a detail which I shall speedily supply.” Lord St. Simon shook his head. “I am afraid that it will take wiser heads than yours or mine,” he remarked, and bowing in a stately, old- fashioned manner he departed. “It is very good of Lord St. Simon to honour my head by putting it on a level with his own,” said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. “I think that I shall have a whisky and soda and a cigar after all this cross-questioning. I had formed my conclusions as to the case before our client came into the room.” “My dear Holmes!” “I have notes of several similar cases, though none, as I remarked before, which were quite as prompt. My whole examination served to turn my conjecture into a certainty. Circumstantial ev- idence is occasionally very convincing, as when you ?nd a trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau’s example.” “But I have heard all that you have heard.” “Without, however, the knowledge of pre- existing cases which serves me so well. There was a parallel instance in Aberdeen some years back, and something on very much the same lines at Munich the year after the Franco-Prussian War. It is one of these cases—but, hullo, here is Lestrade! Good-afternoon, Lestrade! You will ?nd an extra tumbler upon the sideboard, and there are cigars in the box.” The of?cial detective was attired in a pea-jacket and cravat, which gave him a decidedly nautical appearance, and he carried a black canvas bag in his hand. With a short greeting he seated himself and lit the cigar which had been offered to him. “What’s up, then?” asked Holmes with a twin- kle in his eye. “You look dissatis?ed.” “And I feel dissatis?ed. It is this infernal St. Simon marriage case. I can make neither head nor tail of the business.” “Really! You surprise me.” “Who ever heard of such a mixed affair? Every clue seems to slip through my ?ngers. I have been at work upon it all day.” “And very wet it seems to have made you,” said Holmes laying his hand upon the arm of the pea-jacket. “Yes, I have been dragging the Serpentine.” “In heaven’s name, what for?” “In search of the body of Lady St. Simon.” Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily. “Have you dragged the basin of Trafalgar Square fountain?” he asked. “Why? What do you mean?” “Because you have just as good a chance of ?nding this lady in the one as in the other.” Lestrade shot an angry glance at my compan- ion. “I suppose you know all about it,” he snarled. “Well, I have only just heard the facts, but my mind is made up.” “Oh, indeed! Then you think that the Serpen- tine plays no part in the matter?” “I think it very unlikely.” “Then perhaps you will kindly explain how it is that we found this in it?” He opened his bag as he spoke, and tumbled onto the ?oor a wedding- dress of watered silk, a pair of white satin shoes and a bride’s wreath and veil, all discoloured and soaked in water. “There,” said he, putting a new wedding-ring upon the top of the pile. “There is a little nut for you to crack, Master Holmes.” 244 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor “Oh, indeed!” said my friend, blowing blue rings into the air. “You dragged them from the Serpentine?” “No. They were found ?oating near the mar- gin by a park-keeper. They have been identi?ed as her clothes, and it seemed to me that if the clothes were there the body would not be far off.” “By the same brilliant reasoning, every man’s body is to be found in the neighbourhood of his wardrobe. And pray what did you hope to arrive at through this?” “At some evidence implicating Flora Millar in the disappearance.” “I am afraid that you will ?nd it dif?cult.” “Are you, indeed, now?” cried Lestrade with some bitterness. “I am afraid, Holmes, that you are not very practical with your deductions and your inferences. You have made two blunders in as many minutes. This dress does implicate Miss Flora Millar.” “And how?” “In the dress is a pocket. In the pocket is a card-case. In the card-case is a note. And here is the very note.” He slapped it down upon the table in front of him. “Listen to this: “ ‘You will see me when all is ready. Come at once. “ ‘F.H.M.’ Now my theory all along has been that Lady St. Simon was decoyed away by Flora Millar, and that she, with confederates, no doubt, was responsible for her disappearance. Here, signed with her ini- tials, is the very note which was no doubt quietly slipped into her hand at the door and which lured her within their reach.” “Very good, Lestrade,” said Holmes, laughing. “You really are very ?ne indeed. Let me see it.” He took up the paper in a listless way, but his attention instantly became riveted, and he gave a little cry of satisfaction. “This is indeed important,” said he. “Ha! you ?nd it so?” “Extremely so. I congratulate you warmly.” Lestrade rose in his triumph and bent his head to look. “Why,” he shrieked, “you’re looking at the wrong side!” “On the contrary, this is the right side.” “The right side? You’re mad! Here is the note written in pencil over here.” “And over here is what appears to be the frag- ment of a hotel bill, which interests me deeply.” “There’s nothing in it. I looked at it before,” said Lestrade. “ ‘Oct.4th, rooms8s., breakfast2s.6d., cocktail1s., lunch2s.6d., glass sherry,8d.’ I see nothing in that.” “Very likely not. It is most important, all the same. As to the note, it is important also, or at least the initials are, so I congratulate you again.” “I’ve wasted time enough,” said Lestrade, ris- ing. “I believe in hard work and not in sitting by the ?re spinning ?ne theories. Good-day, Mr. Holmes, and we shall see which gets to the bottom of the matter ?rst.” He gathered up the garments, thrust them into the bag, and made for the door. “Just one hint to you, Lestrade,” drawled Holmes before his rival vanished; “I will tell you the true solution of the matter. Lady St. Simon is a myth. There is not, and there never has been, any such person.” Lestrade looked sadly at my companion. Then he turned to me, tapped his forehead three times, shook his head solemnly, and hurried away. He had hardly shut the door behind him when Holmes rose to put on his overcoat. “There is something in what the fellow says about outdoor work,” he remarked, “so I think, Watson, that I must leave you to your papers for a little.” It was after ?ve o’clock when Sherlock Holmes left me, but I had no time to be lonely, for within an hour there arrived a confectioner’s man with a very large ?at box. This he unpacked with the help of a youth whom he had brought with him, and presently, to my very great astonishment, a quite epicurean little cold supper began to be laid out upon our humble lodging-house mahogany. There were a couple of brace of cold woodcock, a pheas- ant, apˆ at´ e de foie graspie with a group of ancient and cobwebby bottles. Having laid out all these luxuries, my two visitors vanished away, like the genii of the Arabian Nights, with no explanation save that the things had been paid for and were ordered to this address. Just before nine o’clock Sherlock Holmes stepped briskly into the room. His features were gravely set, but there was a light in his eye which made me think that he had not been disappointed in his conclusions. “They have laid the supper, then,” he said, rub- bing his hands. “You seem to expect company. They have laid for ?ve.” “Yes, I fancy we may have some company drop- ping in,” said he. “I am surprised that Lord St. 245 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor Simon has not already arrived. Ha! I fancy that I hear his step now upon the stairs.” It was indeed our visitor of the afternoon who came bustling in, dangling his glasses more vigor- ously than ever, and with a very perturbed expres- sion upon his aristocratic features. “My messenger reached you, then?” asked Holmes. “Yes, and I confess that the contents startled me beyond measure. Have you good authority for what you say?” “The best possible.” Lord St. Simon sank into a chair and passed his hand over his forehead. “What will the Duke say,” he murmured, “when he hears that one of the family has been subjected to such humiliation?” “It is the purest accident. I cannot allow that there is any humiliation.” “Ah, you look on these things from another standpoint.” “I fail to see that anyone is to blame. I can hardly see how the lady could have acted other- wise, though her abrupt method of doing it was undoubtedly to be regretted. Having no mother, she had no one to advise her at such a crisis.” “It was a slight, sir, a public slight,” said Lord St. Simon, tapping his ?ngers upon the table. “You must make allowance for this poor girl, placed in so unprecedented a position.” “I will make no allowance. I am very angry indeed, and I have been shamefully used.” “I think that I heard a ring,” said Holmes. “Yes, there are steps on the landing. If I cannot persuade you to take a lenient view of the matter, Lord St. Simon, I have brought an advocate here who may be more successful.” He opened the door and ush- ered in a lady and gentleman. “Lord St. Simon,” said he “allow me to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Francis Hay Moulton. The lady, I think, you have already met.” At the sight of these newcomers our client had sprung from his seat and stood very erect, with his eyes cast down and his hand thrust into the breast of his frock-coat, a picture of offended dignity. The lady had taken a quick step forward and had held out her hand to him, but he still refused to raise his eyes. It was as well for his resolution, perhaps, for her pleading face was one which it was hard to resist. “You’re angry, Robert,” said she. “Well, I guess you have every cause to be.” “Pray make no apology to me,” said Lord St. Simon bitterly. “Oh, yes, I know that I have treated you real bad and that I should have spoken to you before I went; but I was kind of rattled, and from the time when I saw Frank here again I just didn’t know what I was doing or saying. I only wonder I didn’t fall down and do a faint right there before the al- tar.” “Perhaps, Mrs. Moulton, you would like my friend and me to leave the room while you explain this matter?” “If I may give an opinion,” remarked the strange gentleman, “we’ve had just a little too much secrecy over this business already. For my part, I should like all Europe and America to hear the rights of it.” He was a small, wiry, sunburnt man, clean-shaven, with a sharp face and alert manner. “Then I’ll tell our story right away,” said the lady. “Frank here and I met in ’84, in McQuire’s camp, near the Rockies, where pa was working a claim. We were engaged to each other, Frank and I; but then one day father struck a rich pocket and made a pile, while poor Frank here had a claim that petered out and came to nothing. The richer pa grew the poorer was Frank; so at last pa wouldn’t hear of our engagement lasting any longer, and he took me away to ’Frisco. Frank wouldn’t throw up his hand, though; so he fol- lowed me there, and he saw me without pa know- ing anything about it. It would only have made him mad to know, so we just ?xed it all up for ourselves. Frank said that he would go and make his pile, too, and never come back to claim me un- til he had as much as pa. So then I promised to wait for him to the end of time and pledged my- self not to marry anyone else while he lived. ‘Why shouldn’t we be married right away, then,’ said he, ‘and then I will feel sure of you; and I won’t claim to be your husband until I come back?’ Well, we talked it over, and he had ?xed it all up so nicely, with a clergyman all ready in waiting, that we just did it right there; and then Frank went off to seek his fortune, and I went back to pa. “The next I heard of Frank was that he was in Montana, and then he went prospecting in Ari- zona, and then I heard of him from New Mexico. After that came a long newspaper story about how a miners’ camp had been attacked by Apache In- dians, and there was my Frank’s name among the killed. I fainted dead away, and I was very sick for months after. Pa thought I had a decline and took me to half the doctors in ’Frisco. Not a word 246 TheAdventure of theNobleBachelor of news came for a year and more, so that I never doubted that Frank was really dead. Then Lord St. Simon came to ’Frisco, and we came to London, and a marriage was arranged, and pa was very pleased, but I felt all the time that no man on this earth would ever take the place in my heart that had been given to my poor Frank. “Still, if I had married Lord St. Simon, of course I’d have done my duty by him. We can’t command our love, but we can our actions. I went to the al- tar with him with the intention to make him just as good a wife as it was in me to be. But you may imagine what I felt when, just as I came to the al- tar rails, I glanced back and saw Frank standing and looking at me out of the ?rst pew. I thought it was his ghost at ?rst; but when I looked again there he was still, with a kind of question in his eyes, as if to ask me whether I were glad or sorry to see him. I wonder I didn’t drop. I know that ev- erything was turning round, and the words of the clergyman were just like the buzz of a bee in my ear. I didn’t know what to do. Should I stop the service and make a scene in the church? I glanced at him again, and he seemed to know what I was thinking, for he raised his ?nger to his lips to tell me to be still. Then I saw him scribble on a piece of paper, and I knew that he was writing me a note. As I passed his pew on the way out I dropped my bouquet over to him, and he slipped the note into my hand when he returned me the ?owers. It was only a line asking me to join him when he made the sign to me to do so. Of course I never doubted for a moment that my ?rst duty was now to him, and I determined to do just whatever he might di- rect. “When I got back I told my maid, who had known him in California, and had always been his friend. I ordered her to say nothing, but to get a few things packed and my ulster ready. I know I ought to have spoken to Lord St. Simon, but it was dreadful hard before his mother and all those great people. I just made up my mind to run away and explain afterwards. I hadn’t been at the table ten minutes before I saw Frank out of the window at the other side of the road. He beckoned to me and then began walking into the Park. I slipped out, put on my things, and followed him. Some woman came talking something or other about Lord St. Si- mon to me—seemed to me from the little I heard as if he had a little secret of his own before mar- riage also—but I managed to get away from her and soon overtook Frank. We got into a cab to- gether, and away we drove to some lodgings he had taken in Gordon Square, and that was my true wedding after all those years of waiting. Frank had been a prisoner among the Apaches, had escaped, came on to ’Frisco, found that I had given him up for dead and had gone to England, followed me there, and had come upon me at last on the very morning of my second wedding.” “I saw it in a paper,” explained the American. “It gave the name and the church but not where the lady lived.” “Then we had a talk as to what we should do, and Frank was all for openness, but I was so ashamed of it all that I felt as if I should like to van- ish away and never see any of them again—just sending a line to pa, perhaps, to show him that I was alive. It was awful to me to think of all those lords and ladies sitting round that breakfast- table and waiting for me to come back. So Frank took my wedding-clothes and things and made a bundle of them, so that I should not be traced, and dropped them away somewhere where no one could ?nd them. It is likely that we should have gone on to Paris to-morrow, only that this good gentleman, Mr. Holmes, came round to us this evening, though how he found us is more than I can think, and he showed us very clearly and kindly that I was wrong and that Frank was right, and that we should be putting ourselves in the wrong if we were so secret. Then he offered to give us a chance of talking to Lord St. Simon alone, and so we came right away round to his rooms at once. Now, Robert, you have heard it all, and I am very sorry if I have given you pain, and I hope that you do not think very meanly of me.” Lord St. Simon had by no means relaxed his rigid attitude, but had listened with a frowning brow and a compressed lip to this long narrative. “Excuse me,” he said, “but it is not my custom to discuss my most intimate personal affairs in this public manner.” “Then you won’t forgive me? You won’t shake hands before I go?” “Oh, certainly, if it would give you any plea- sure.” He put out his hand and coldly grasped that which she extended to him. “I had hoped,” suggested Holmes, “that you would have joined us in a friendly supper.” “I think that there you ask a little too much,” responded his Lordship. “I may be forced to acqui- esce in these recent developments, but I can hardly be expected to make merry over them. I think that with your permission I will now wish you all a very good-night.” He included us all in a sweep- ing bow and stalked out of the room. 247 “Then I trust that you at least will honour me with your company,” said Sherlock Holmes. “It is always a joy to meet an American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a ?ag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes.” “The case has been an interesting one,” re- marked Holmes when our visitors had left us, “be- cause it serves to show very clearly how simple the explanation may be of an affair which at ?rst sight seems to be almost inexplicable. Nothing could be more natural than the sequence of events as nar- rated by this lady, and nothing stranger than the result when viewed, for instance, by Mr. Lestrade of Scotland Yard.” “You were not yourself at fault at all, then?” “From the ?rst, two facts were very obvious to me, the one that the lady had been quite will- ing to undergo the wedding ceremony, the other that she had repented of it within a few minutes of returning home. Obviously something had oc- curred during the morning, then, to cause her to change her mind. What could that something be? She could not have spoken to anyone when she was out, for she had been in the company of the bridegroom. Had she seen someone, then? If she had, it must be someone from America because she had spent so short a time in this country that she could hardly have allowed anyone to acquire so deep an in?uence over her that the mere sight of him would induce her to change her plans so com- pletely. You see we have already arrived, by a pro- cess of exclusion, at the idea that she might have seen an American. Then who could this American be, and why should he possess so much in?uence over her? It might be a lover; it might be a hus- band. Her young womanhood had, I knew, been spent in rough scenes and under strange condi- tions. So far I had got before I ever heard Lord St. Simon’s narrative. When he told us of a man in a pew, of the change in the bride’s manner, of so transparent a device for obtaining a note as the dropping of a bouquet, of her resort to her con?- dential maid, and of her very signi?cant allusion to claim-jumping—which in miners’ parlance means taking possession of that which another person has a prior claim to—the whole situation became ab- solutely clear. She had gone off with a man, and the man was either a lover or was a previous hus- band—the chances being in favour of the latter.” “And how in the world did you ?nd them?” “It might have been dif?cult, but friend Lestrade held information in his hands the value of which he did not himself know. The initials were, of course, of the highest importance, but more valuable still was it to know that within a week he had settled his bill at one of the most se- lect London hotels.” “How did you deduce the select?” “By the select prices. Eight shillings for a bed and eightpence for a glass of sherry pointed to one of the most expensive hotels. There are not many in London which charge at that rate. In the sec- ond one which I visited in Northumberland Av- enue, I learned by an inspection of the book that Francis H. Moulton, an American gentleman, had left only the day before, and on looking over the entries against him, I came upon the very items which I had seen in the duplicate bill. His let- ters were to be forwarded to226Gordon Square; so thither I travelled, and being fortunate enough to ?nd the loving couple at home, I ventured to give them some paternal advice and to point out to them that it would be better in every way that they should make their position a little clearer both to the general public and to Lord St. Simon in par- ticular. I invited them to meet him here, and, as you see, I made him keep the appointment.” “But with no very good result,” I remarked. “His conduct was certainly not very gracious.” “Ah, Watson,” said Holmes, smiling, “perhaps you would not be very gracious either, if, after all the trouble of wooing and wedding, you found yourself deprived in an instant of wife and of for- tune. I think that we may judge Lord St. Simon very mercifully and thank our stars that we are never likely to ?nd ourselves in the same position. Draw your chair up and hand me my violin, for the only problem we have still to solve is how to while away these bleak autumnal evenings.” The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet Holmes,?saidI as I stood one morn- ing in our bow-window looking down the street, ?here is a madman coming along. It seems rather sad that his rel- atives should allow him to come out alone.? My friend rose lazily from his armchair and stood with his hands in the pockets of his dressing- gown, looking over my shoulder. It was a bright, crisp February morning, and the snow of the day before still lay deep upon the ground, shimmer- ing brightly in the wintry sun. Down the centre of Baker Street it had been ploughed into a brown crumbly band by the trafc, but at either side and on the heaped-up edges of the foot-paths it still lay as white as when it fell. The grey pavement had been cleaned and scraped, but was still dan- gerously slippery, so that there were fewer pas- sengers than usual. Indeed, from the direction of the Metropolitan Station no one was coming save the single gentleman whose eccentric conduct had drawn my attention. He was a man of about fty, tall, portly, and imposing, with a massive, strongly marked face and a commanding gure. He was dressed in a sombre yet rich style, in black frock-coat, shining hat, neat brown gaiters, and well-cut pearl-grey trousers. Yet his actions were in absurd contrast to the dignity of his dress and features, for he was running hard, with occasional little springs, such as a weary man gives who is little accustomed to set any tax upon his legs. As he ran he jerked his hands up and down, waggled his head, and writhed his face into the most extraordinary con- tortions. ?What on earth can be the matter with him?? I asked. ?He is looking up at the numbers of the houses.? ?I believe that he is coming here,? said Holmes, rubbing his hands. ?Here?? ?Yes; I rather think he is coming to consult me professionally. I think that I recognise the symp- toms. Ha! did I not tell you?? As he spoke, the man, pufng and blowing, rushed at our door and pulled at our bell until the whole house resounded with the clanging. A few moments later he was in our room, still pufng, still gesticulating, but with so xed a look of grief and despair in his eyes that our smiles were turned in an instant to horror and pity. For a while he could not get his words out, but swayed his body and plucked at his hair like one who has been driven to the extreme limits of his reason. Then, suddenly springing to his feet, he beat his head against the wall with such force that we both rushed upon him and tore him away to the centre of the room. Sherlock Holmes pushed him down into the easy-chair and, sitting beside him, patted his hand and chatted with him in the easy, sooth- ing tones which he knew so well how to employ. ?You have come to me to tell your story, have you not?? said he. ?You are fatigued with your haste. Pray wait until you have recovered yourself, and then I shall be most happy to look into any little problem which you may submit to me.? The man sat for a minute or more with a heav- ing chest, ghting against his emotion. Then he passed his handkerchief over his brow, set his lips tight, and turned his face towards us. ?No doubt you think me mad?? said he. ?I see that you have had some great trouble,? responded Holmes. ?God knows I have!?a trouble which is enough to unseat my reason, so sudden and so terrible is it. Public disgrace I might have faced, although I am a man whose character has never yet borne a stain. Private afiction also is the lot of every man; but the two coming together, and in so frightful a form, have been enough to shake my very soul. Besides, it is not I alone. The very noblest in the land may suffer unless some way be found out of this horrible affair.? ?Pray compose yourself, sir,? said Holmes, ?and let me have a clear account of who you are and what it is that has befallen you.? ?My name,? answered our visitor, ?is proba- bly familiar to your ears. I am Alexander Holder, of the banking rm of Holder & Stevenson, of Threadneedle Street.? The name was indeed well known to us as be- longing to the senior partner in the second largest private banking concern in the City of London. What could have happened, then, to bring one of the foremost citizens of London to this most pitiable pass? We waited, all curiosity, until with another effort he braced himself to tell his story. ?I feel that time is of value,? said he; ?that is why I hastened here when the police inspector suggested that I should secure your co-operation. I came to Baker Street by the Underground and hurried from there on foot, for the cabs go slowly through this snow. That is why I was so out of breath, for I am a man who takes very little ex- ercise. I feel better now, and I will put the facts before you as shortly and yet as clearly as I can. ?It is, of course, well known to you that in a successful banking business as much depends 251 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet upon our being able to ?nd remunerative invest- ments for our funds as upon our increasing our connection and the number of our depositors. One of our most lucrative means of laying out money is in the shape of loans, where the security is unim- peachable. We have done a good deal in this direc- tion during the last few years, and there are many noble families to whom we have advanced large sums upon the security of their pictures, libraries, or plate. “Yesterday morning I was seated in my of?ce at the bank when a card was brought in to me by one of the clerks. I started when I saw the name, for it was that of none other than—well, perhaps even to you I had better say no more than that it was a name which is a household word all over the earth—one of the highest, noblest, most ex- alted names in England. I was overwhelmed by the honour and attempted, when he entered, to say so, but he plunged at once into business with the air of a man who wishes to hurry quickly through a disagreeable task. “ ‘Mr. Holder,’ said he, ‘I have been informed that you are in the habit of advancing money.’ “ ‘The ?rm does so when the security is good.’ I answered. “ ‘It is absolutely essential to me,’ said he, ‘that I should have£50,000at once. I could, of course, borrow so tri?ing a sum ten times over from my friends, but I much prefer to make it a matter of business and to carry out that business myself. In my position you can readily understand that it is unwise to place one’s self under obligations.’ “ ‘For how long, may I ask, do you want this sum?’ I asked. “ ‘Next Monday I have a large sum due to me, and I shall then most certainly repay what you ad- vance, with whatever interest you think it right to charge. But it is very essential to me that the money should be paid at once.’ “ ‘I should be happy to advance it without fur- ther parley from my own private purse,’ said I, ‘were it not that the strain would be rather more than it could bear. If, on the other hand, I am to do it in the name of the ?rm, then in justice to my partner I must insist that, even in your case, every businesslike precaution should be taken.’ “ ‘I should much prefer to have it so,’ said he, raising up a square, black morocco case which he had laid beside his chair. ‘You have doubtless heard of the Beryl Coronet?’ “ ‘One of the most precious public possessions of the empire,’ said I. “ ‘Precisely.’ He opened the case, and there, imbedded in soft, ?esh-coloured velvet, lay the magni?cent piece of jewellery which he had named. ‘There are thirty-nine enormous beryls,’ said he, ‘and the price of the gold chasing is incal- culable. The lowest estimate would put the worth of the coronet at double the sum which I have asked. I am prepared to leave it with you as my security.’ “I took the precious case into my hands and looked in some perplexity from it to my illustrious client. “ ‘You doubt its value?’ he asked. “ ‘Not at all. I only doubt—’ “ ‘The propriety of my leaving it. You may set your mind at rest about that. I should not dream of doing so were it not absolutely certain that I should be able in four days to reclaim it. It is a pure matter of form. Is the security suf?cient?’ “ ‘Ample.’ “ ‘You understand, Mr. Holder, that I am giv- ing you a strong proof of the con?dence which I have in you, founded upon all that I have heard of you. I rely upon you not only to be discreet and to refrain from all gossip upon the matter but, above all, to preserve this coronet with every pos- sible precaution because I need not say that a great public scandal would be caused if any harm were to befall it. Any injury to it would be almost as se- rious as its complete loss, for there are no beryls in the world to match these, and it would be impos- sible to replace them. I leave it with you, however, with every con?dence, and I shall call for it in per- son on Monday morning.’ “Seeing that my client was anxious to leave, I said no more but, calling for my cashier, I ordered him to pay over ?fty£1000notes. When I was alone once more, however, with the precious case lying upon the table in front of me, I could not but think with some misgivings of the immense responsibility which it entailed upon me. There could be no doubt that, as it was a national posses- sion, a horrible scandal would ensue if any misfor- tune should occur to it. I already regretted having ever consented to take charge of it. However, it was too late to alter the matter now, so I locked it up in my private safe and turned once more to my work. “When evening came I felt that it would be an imprudence to leave so precious a thing in the of- ?ce behind me. Bankers’ safes had been forced before now, and why should not mine be? If so, how terrible would be the position in which 252 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet I should ?nd myself! I determined, therefore, that for the next few days I would always carry the case backward and forward with me, so that it might never be really out of my reach. With this inten- tion, I called a cab and drove out to my house at Streatham, carrying the jewel with me. I did not breathe freely until I had taken it upstairs and locked it in the bureau of my dressing-room. “And now a word as to my household, Mr. Holmes, for I wish you to thoroughly understand the situation. My groom and my page sleep out of the house, and may be set aside altogether. I have three maid-servants who have been with me a number of years and whose absolute reliability is quite above suspicion. Another, Lucy Parr, the second waiting-maid, has only been in my service a few months. She came with an excellent charac- ter, however, and has always given me satisfaction. She is a very pretty girl and has attracted admirers who have occasionally hung about the place. That is the only drawback which we have found to her, but we believe her to be a thoroughly good girl in every way. “So much for the servants. My family itself is so small that it will not take me long to describe it. I am a widower and have an only son, Arthur. He has been a disappointment to me, Mr. Holmes—a grievous disappointment. I have no doubt that I am myself to blame. People tell me that I have spoiled him. Very likely I have. When my dear wife died I felt that he was all I had to love. I could not bear to see the smile fade even for a moment from his face. I have never denied him a wish. Per- haps it would have been better for both of us had I been sterner, but I meant it for the best. “It was naturally my intention that he should succeed me in my business, but he was not of a business turn. He was wild, wayward, and, to speak the truth, I could not trust him in the han- dling of large sums of money. When he was young he became a member of an aristocratic club, and there, having charming manners, he was soon the intimate of a number of men with long purses and expensive habits. He learned to play heavily at cards and to squander money on the turf, until he had again and again to come to me and implore me to give him an advance upon his allowance, that he might settle his debts of honour. He tried more than once to break away from the dangerous company which he was keeping, but each time the in?uence of his friend, Sir George Burnwell, was enough to draw him back again. “And, indeed, I could not wonder that such a man as Sir George Burnwell should gain an in- ?uence over him, for he has frequently brought him to my house, and I have found myself that I could hardly resist the fascination of his manner. He is older than Arthur, a man of the world to his ?nger-tips, one who had been everywhere, seen everything, a brilliant talker, and a man of great personal beauty. Yet when I think of him in cold blood, far away from the glamour of his presence, I am convinced from his cynical speech and the look which I have caught in his eyes that he is one who should be deeply distrusted. So I think, and so, too, thinks my little Mary, who has a woman’s quick insight into character. “And now there is only she to be described. She is my niece; but when my brother died ?ve years ago and left her alone in the world I adopted her, and have looked upon her ever since as my daughter. She is a sunbeam in my house—sweet, loving, beautiful, a wonderful manager and house- keeper, yet as tender and quiet and gentle as a woman could be. She is my right hand. I do not know what I could do without her. In only one matter has she ever gone against my wishes. Twice my boy has asked her to marry him, for he loves her devotedly, but each time she has refused him. I think that if anyone could have drawn him into the right path it would have been she, and that his marriage might have changed his whole life; but now, alas! it is too late—forever too late! “Now, Mr. Holmes, you know the people who live under my roof, and I shall continue with my miserable story. “When we were taking coffee in the drawing- room that night after dinner, I told Arthur and Mary my experience, and of the precious trea- sure which we had under our roof, suppressing only the name of my client. Lucy Parr, who had brought in the coffee, had, I am sure, left the room; but I cannot swear that the door was closed. Mary and Arthur were much interested and wished to see the famous coronet, but I thought it better not to disturb it. “ ‘Where have you put it?’ asked Arthur. “ ‘In my own bureau.’ “ ‘Well, I hope to goodness the house won’t be burgled during the night.’ said he. “ ‘It is locked up,’ I answered. “ ‘Oh, any old key will ?t that bureau. When I was a youngster I have opened it myself with the key of the box-room cupboard.’ “He often had a wild way of talking, so that I thought little of what he said. He followed me to my room, however, that night with a very grave face. 253 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet “ ‘Look here, dad,’ said he with his eyes cast down, ‘can you let me have£200?’ “ ‘No, I cannot!’ I answered sharply. ‘I have been far too generous with you in money matters.’ “ ‘You have been very kind,’ said he, ‘but I must have this money, or else I can never show my face inside the club again.’ “ ‘And a very good thing, too!’ I cried. “ ‘Yes, but you would not have me leave it a dishonoured man,’ said he. ‘I could not bear the disgrace. I must raise the money in some way, and if you will not let me have it, then I must try other means.’ “I was very angry, for this was the third de- mand during the month. ‘You shall not have a farthing from me,’ I cried, on which he bowed and left the room without another word. “When he was gone I unlocked my bureau, made sure that my treasure was safe, and locked it again. Then I started to go round the house to see that all was secure—a duty which I usually leave to Mary but which I thought it well to perform myself that night. As I came down the stairs I saw Mary herself at the side window of the hall, which she closed and fastened as I approached. “ ‘Tell me, dad,’ said she, looking, I thought, a little disturbed, ‘did you give Lucy, the maid, leave to go out to-night?’ “ ‘Certainly not.’ “ ‘She came in just now by the back door. I have no doubt that she has only been to the side gate to see someone, but I think that it is hardly safe and should be stopped.’ “ ‘You must speak to her in the morning, or I will if you prefer it. Are you sure that everything is fastened?’ “ ‘Quite sure, dad.’ “ ‘Then, good-night.’ I kissed her and went up to my bedroom again, where I was soon asleep. “I am endeavouring to tell you everything, Mr. Holmes, which may have any bearing upon the case, but I beg that you will question me upon any point which I do not make clear.” “On the contrary, your statement is singularly lucid.” “I come to a part of my story now in which I should wish to be particularly so. I am not a very heavy sleeper, and the anxiety in my mind tended, no doubt, to make me even less so than usual. About two in the morning, then, I was awakened by some sound in the house. It had ceased ere I was wide awake, but it had left an impression behind it as though a window had gently closed somewhere. I lay listening with all my ears. Sud- denly, to my horror, there was a distinct sound of footsteps moving softly in the next room. I slipped out of bed, all palpitating with fear, and peeped round the corner of my dressing-room door. “ ‘Arthur!’ I screamed, ‘you villain! you thief! How dare you touch that coronet?’ “The gas was half up, as I had left it, and my unhappy boy, dressed only in his shirt and trousers, was standing beside the light, holding the coronet in his hands. He appeared to be wrench- ing at it, or bending it with all his strength. At my cry he dropped it from his grasp and turned as pale as death. I snatched it up and examined it. One of the gold corners, with three of the beryls in it, was missing. “ ‘You blackguard!’ I shouted, beside myself with rage. ‘You have destroyed it! You have dis- honoured me forever! Where are the jewels which you have stolen?’ “ ‘Stolen!’ he cried. “ ‘Yes, thief!’ I roared, shaking him by the shoulder. “ ‘There are none missing. There cannot be any missing,’ said he. “ ‘There are three missing. And you know where they are. Must I call you a liar as well as a thief? Did I not see you trying to tear off another piece?’ “ ‘You have called me names enough,’ said he, ‘I will not stand it any longer. I shall not say another word about this business, since you have chosen to insult me. I will leave your house in the morning and make my own way in the world.’ “ ‘You shall leave it in the hands of the police!’ I cried half-mad with grief and rage. ‘I shall have this matter probed to the bottom.’ “ ‘You shall learn nothing from me,’ said he with a passion such as I should not have thought was in his nature. ‘If you choose to call the police, let the police ?nd what they can.’ “By this time the whole house was astir, for I had raised my voice in my anger. Mary was the ?rst to rush into my room, and, at the sight of the coronet and of Arthur’s face, she read the whole story and, with a scream, fell down senseless on the ground. I sent the house-maid for the police and put the investigation into their hands at once. When the inspector and a constable entered the house, Arthur, who had stood sullenly with his 254 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet arms folded, asked me whether it was my inten- tion to charge him with theft. I answered that it had ceased to be a private matter, but had become a public one, since the ruined coronet was national property. I was determined that the law should have its way in everything. “ ‘At least,’ said he, ‘you will not have me ar- rested at once. It would be to your advantage as well as mine if I might leave the house for ?ve min- utes.’ “ ‘That you may get away, or perhaps that you may conceal what you have stolen,’ said I. And then, realising the dreadful position in which I was placed, I implored him to remember that not only my honour but that of one who was far greater than I was at stake; and that he threatened to raise a scandal which would convulse the nation. He might avert it all if he would but tell me what he had done with the three missing stones. “ ‘You may as well face the matter,’ said I; ‘you have been caught in the act, and no confes- sion could make your guilt more heinous. If you but make such reparation as is in your power, by telling us where the beryls are, all shall be forgiven and forgotten.’ “ ‘Keep your forgiveness for those who ask for it,’ he answered, turning away from me with a sneer. I saw that he was too hardened for any words of mine to in?uence him. There was but one way for it. I called in the inspector and gave him into custody. A search was made at once not only of his person but of his room and of every portion of the house where he could possibly have concealed the gems; but no trace of them could be found, nor would the wretched boy open his mouth for all our persuasions and our threats. This morning he was removed to a cell, and I, af- ter going through all the police formalities, have hurried round to you to implore you to use your skill in unravelling the matter. The police have openly confessed that they can at present make nothing of it. You may go to any expense which you think necessary. I have already offered a re- ward of£1000. My God, what shall I do! I have lost my honour, my gems, and my son in one night. Oh, what shall I do!” He put a hand on either side of his head and rocked himself to and fro, droning to himself like a child whose grief has got beyond words. Sherlock Holmes sat silent for some few min- utes, with his brows knitted and his eyes ?xed upon the ?re. “Do you receive much company?” he asked. “None save my partner with his family and an occasional friend of Arthur’s. Sir George Burnwell has been several times lately. No one else, I think.” “Do you go out much in society?” “Arthur does. Mary and I stay at home. We neither of us care for it.” “That is unusual in a young girl.” “She is of a quiet nature. Besides, she is not so very young. She is four-and-twenty.” “This matter, from what you say, seems to have been a shock to her also.” “Terrible! She is even more affected than I.” “You have neither of you any doubt as to your son’s guilt?” “How can we have when I saw him with my own eyes with the coronet in his hands.” “I hardly consider that a conclusive proof. Was the remainder of the coronet at all injured?” “Yes, it was twisted.” “Do you not think, then, that he might have been trying to straighten it?” “God bless you! You are doing what you can for him and for me. But it is too heavy a task. What was he doing there at all? If his purpose were innocent, why did he not say so?” “Precisely. And if it were guilty, why did he not invent a lie? His silence appears to me to cut both ways. There are several singular points about the case. What did the police think of the noise which awoke you from your sleep?” “They considered that it might be caused by Arthur’s closing his bedroom door.” “A likely story! As if a man bent on felony would slam his door so as to wake a household. What did they say, then, of the disappearance of these gems?” “They are still sounding the planking and probing the furniture in the hope of ?nding them.” “Have they thought of looking outside the house?” “Yes, they have shown extraordinary energy. The whole garden has already been minutely ex- amined.” “Now, my dear sir,” said Holmes. “is it not obvious to you now that this matter really strikes very much deeper than either you or the police were at ?rst inclined to think? It appeared to you to be a simple case; to me it seems exceedingly complex. Consider what is involved by your the- ory. You suppose that your son came down from his bed, went, at great risk, to your dressing-room, opened your bureau, took out your coronet, broke off by main force a small portion of it, went off 255 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet to some other place, concealed three gems out of the thirty-nine, with such skill that nobody can ?nd them, and then returned with the other thirty- six into the room in which he exposed himself to the greatest danger of being discovered. I ask you now, is such a theory tenable?” “But what other is there?” cried the banker with a gesture of despair. “If his motives were in- nocent, why does he not explain them?” “It is our task to ?nd that out,” replied Holmes; “so now, if you please, Mr. Holder, we will set off for Streatham together, and devote an hour to glancing a little more closely into details.” My friend insisted upon my accompanying them in their expedition, which I was eager enough to do, for my curiosity and sympathy were deeply stirred by the story to which we had lis- tened. I confess that the guilt of the banker’s son appeared to me to be as obvious as it did to his unhappy father, but still I had such faith in Holmes’ judgment that I felt that there must be some grounds for hope as long as he was dissat- is?ed with the accepted explanation. He hardly spoke a word the whole way out to the southern suburb, but sat with his chin upon his breast and his hat drawn over his eyes, sunk in the deepest thought. Our client appeared to have taken fresh heart at the little glimpse of hope which had been presented to him, and he even broke into a desul- tory chat with me over his business affairs. A short railway journey and a shorter walk brought us to Fairbank, the modest residence of the great ?nancier. Fairbank was a good-sized square house of white stone, standing back a little from the road. A double carriage-sweep, with a snow-clad lawn, stretched down in front to two large iron gates which closed the entrance. On the right side was a small wooden thicket, which led into a narrow path between two neat hedges stretching from the road to the kitchen door, and forming the trades- men’s entrance. On the left ran a lane which led to the stables, and was not itself within the grounds at all, being a public, though little used, thoroughfare. Holmes left us standing at the door and walked slowly all round the house, across the front, down the tradesmen’s path, and so round by the garden behind into the stable lane. So long was he that Mr. Holder and I went into the dining-room and waited by the ?re until he should return. We were sitting there in silence when the door opened and a young lady came in. She was rather above the middle height, slim, with dark hair and eyes, which seemed the darker against the absolute pal- lor of her skin. I do not think that I have ever seen such deadly paleness in a woman’s face. Her lips, too, were bloodless, but her eyes were ?ushed with crying. As she swept silently into the room she impressed me with a greater sense of grief than the banker had done in the morning, and it was the more striking in her as she was evidently a woman of strong character, with immense capac- ity for self-restraint. Disregarding my presence, she went straight to her uncle and passed her hand over his head with a sweet womanly caress. “You have given orders that Arthur should be liberated, have you not, dad?” she asked. “No, no, my girl, the matter must be probed to the bottom.” “But I am so sure that he is innocent. You know what woman’s instincts are. I know that he has done no harm and that you will be sorry for hav- ing acted so harshly.” “Why is he silent, then, if he is innocent?” “Who knows? Perhaps because he was so an- gry that you should suspect him.” “How could I help suspecting him, when I ac- tually saw him with the coronet in his hand?” “Oh, but he had only picked it up to look at it. Oh, do, do take my word for it that he is inno- cent. Let the matter drop and say no more. It is so dreadful to think of our dear Arthur in a prison!” “I shall never let it drop until the gems are found—never, Mary! Your affection for Arthur blinds you as to the awful consequences to me. Far from hushing the thing up, I have brought a gen- tleman down from London to inquire more deeply into it.” “This gentleman?” she asked, facing round to me. “No, his friend. He wished us to leave him alone. He is round in the stable lane now.” “The stable lane?” She raised her dark eye- brows. “What can he hope to ?nd there? Ah! this, I suppose, is he. I trust, sir, that you will succeed in proving, what I feel sure is the truth, that my cousin Arthur is innocent of this crime.” “I fully share your opinion, and I trust, with you, that we may prove it,” returned Holmes, go- ing back to the mat to knock the snow from his shoes. “I believe I have the honour of addressing Miss Mary Holder. Might I ask you a question or two?” “Pray do, sir, if it may help to clear this horrible affair up.” 256 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet “You heard nothing yourself last night?” “Nothing, until my uncle here began to speak loudly. I heard that, and I came down.” “You shut up the windows and doors the night before. Did you fasten all the windows?” “Yes.” “Were they all fastened this morning?” “Yes.” “You have a maid who has a sweetheart? I think that you remarked to your uncle last night that she had been out to see him?” “Yes, and she was the girl who waited in the drawing-room, and who may have heard uncle’s remarks about the coronet.” “I see. You infer that she may have gone out to tell her sweetheart, and that the two may have planned the robbery.” “But what is the good of all these vague theo- ries,” cried the banker impatiently, “when I have told you that I saw Arthur with the coronet in his hands?” “Wait a little, Mr. Holder. We must come back to that. About this girl, Miss Holder. You saw her return by the kitchen door, I presume?” “Yes; when I went to see if the door was fas- tened for the night I met her slipping in. I saw the man, too, in the gloom.” “Do you know him?” “Oh, yes! he is the green-grocer who brings our vegetables round. His name is Francis Prosper.” “He stood,” said Holmes, “to the left of the door—that is to say, farther up the path than is necessary to reach the door?” “Yes, he did.” “And he is a man with a wooden leg?” Something like fear sprang up in the young lady’s expressive black eyes. “Why, you are like a magician,” said she. “How do you know that?” She smiled, but there was no answering smile in Holmes’ thin, eager face. “I should be very glad now to go upstairs,” said he. “I shall probably wish to go over the outside of the house again. Perhaps I had better take a look at the lower windows before I go up.” He walked swiftly round from one to the other, pausing only at the large one which looked from the hall onto the stable lane. This he opened and made a very careful examination of the sill with his powerful magnifying lens. “Now we shall go upstairs,” said he at last. The banker’s dressing-room was a plainly fur- nished little chamber, with a grey carpet, a large bureau, and a long mirror. Holmes went to the bureau ?rst and looked hard at the lock. “Which key was used to open it?” he asked. “That which my son himself indicated—that of the cupboard of the lumber-room.” “Have you it here?” “That is it on the dressing-table.” Sherlock Holmes took it up and opened the bu- reau. “It is a noiseless lock,” said he. “It is no won- der that it did not wake you. This case, I presume, contains the coronet. We must have a look at it.” He opened the case, and taking out the diadem he laid it upon the table. It was a magni?cent speci- men of the jeweller’s art, and the thirty-six stones were the ?nest that I have ever seen. At one side of the coronet was a cracked edge, where a corner holding three gems had been torn away. “Now, Mr. Holder,” said Holmes, “here is the corner which corresponds to that which has been so unfortunately lost. Might I beg that you will break it off.” The banker recoiled in horror. “I should not dream of trying,” said he. “Then I will.” Holmes suddenly bent his strength upon it, but without result. “I feel it give a little,” said he; “but, though I am exceptionally strong in the ?ngers, it would take me all my time to break it. An ordinary man could not do it. Now, what do you think would happen if I did break it, Mr. Holder? There would be a noise like a pistol shot. Do you tell me that all this happened within a few yards of your bed and that you heard noth- ing of it?” “I do not know what to think. It is all dark to me.” “But perhaps it may grow lighter as we go. What do you think, Miss Holder?” “I confess that I still share my uncle’s perplex- ity.” “Your son had no shoes or slippers on when you saw him?” “He had nothing on save only his trousers and shirt.” “Thank you. We have certainly been favoured with extraordinary luck during this inquiry, and it will be entirely our own fault if we do not succeed in clearing the matter up. With your permission, Mr. Holder, I shall now continue my investigations outside.” He went alone, at his own request, for he explained that any unnecessary footmarks might 257 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet make his task more dif?cult. For an hour or more he was at work, returning at last with his feet heavy with snow and his features as inscrutable as ever. “I think that I have seen now all that there is to see, Mr. Holder,” said he; “I can serve you best by returning to my rooms.” “But the gems, Mr. Holmes. Where are they?” “I cannot tell.” The banker wrung his hands. “I shall never see them again!” he cried. “And my son? You give me hopes?” “My opinion is in no way altered.” “Then, for God’s sake, what was this dark busi- ness which was acted in my house last night?” “If you can call upon me at my Baker Street rooms to-morrow morning between nine and ten I shall be happy to do what I can to make it clearer. I understand that you give mecarte blancheto act for you, provided only that I get back the gems, and that you place no limit on the sum I may draw.” “I would give my fortune to have them back.” “Very good. I shall look into the matter be- tween this and then. Good-bye; it is just possible that I may have to come over here again before evening.” It was obvious to me that my companion’s mind was now made up about the case, although what his conclusions were was more than I could even dimly imagine. Several times during our homeward journey I endeavoured to sound him upon the point, but he always glided away to some other topic, until at last I gave it over in despair. It was not yet three when we found ourselves in our rooms once more. He hurried to his cham- ber and was down again in a few minutes dressed as a common loafer. With his collar turned up, his shiny, seedy coat, his red cravat, and his worn boots, he was a perfect sample of the class. “I think that this should do,” said he, glancing into the glass above the ?replace. “I only wish that you could come with me, Watson, but I fear that it won’t do. I may be on the trail in this matter, or I may be following a will-o’-the-wisp, but I shall soon know which it is. I hope that I may be back in a few hours.” He cut a slice of beef from the joint upon the sideboard, sandwiched it between two rounds of bread, and thrusting this rude meal into his pocket he started off upon his expedition. I had just ?nished my tea when he returned, evidently in excellent spirits, swinging an old elastic-sided boot in his hand. He chucked it down into a corner and helped himself to a cup of tea. “I only looked in as I passed,” said he. “I am going right on.” “Where to?” “Oh, to the other side of the West End. It may be some time before I get back. Don’t wait up for me in case I should be late.” “How are you getting on?” “Oh, so so. Nothing to complain of. I have been out to Streatham since I saw you last, but I did not call at the house. It is a very sweet little problem, and I would not have missed it for a good deal. However, I must not sit gossiping here, but must get these disreputable clothes off and return to my highly respectable self.” I could see by his manner that he had stronger reasons for satisfaction than his words alone would imply. His eyes twinkled, and there was even a touch of colour upon his sallow cheeks. He hastened upstairs, and a few minutes later I heard the slam of the hall door, which told me that he was off once more upon his congenial hunt. I waited until midnight, but there was no sign of his return, so I retired to my room. It was no uncommon thing for him to be away for days and nights on end when he was hot upon a scent, so that his lateness caused me no surprise. I do not know at what hour he came in, but when I came down to breakfast in the morning there he was with a cup of coffee in one hand and the paper in the other, as fresh and trim as possible. “You will excuse my beginning without you, Watson,” said he, “but you remember that our client has rather an early appointment this morn- ing.” “Why, it is after nine now,” I answered. “I should not be surprised if that were he. I thought I heard a ring.” It was, indeed, our friend the ?nancier. I was shocked by the change which had come over him, for his face which was naturally of a broad and massive mould, was now pinched and fallen in, while his hair seemed to me at least a shade whiter. He entered with a weariness and lethargy which was even more painful than his violence of the morning before, and he dropped heavily into the armchair which I pushed forward for him. “I do not know what I have done to be so severely tried,” said he. “Only two days ago I was a happy and prosperous man, without a care in 258 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet the world. Now I am left to a lonely and dishon- oured age. One sorrow comes close upon the heels of another. My niece, Mary, has deserted me.” “Deserted you?” “Yes. Her bed this morning had not been slept in, her room was empty, and a note for me lay upon the hall table. I had said to her last night, in sorrow and not in anger, that if she had married my boy all might have been well with him. Per- haps it was thoughtless of me to say so. It is to that remark that she refers in this note: “ ‘My dearestUncle: “ ‘I feel that I have brought trouble upon you, and that if I had acted dif- ferently this terrible misfortune might never have occurred. I cannot, with this thought in my mind, ever again be happy under your roof, and I feel that I must leave you forever. Do not worry about my future, for that is provided for; and, above all, do not search for me, for it will be fruitless labour and an ill-service to me. In life or in death, I am ever “ ‘Your loving “ ‘Mary.’ “What could she mean by that note, Mr. Holmes? Do you think it points to suicide?” “No, no, nothing of the kind. It is perhaps the best possible solution. I trust, Mr. Holder, that you are nearing the end of your troubles.” “Ha! You say so! You have heard something, Mr. Holmes; you have learned something! Where are the gems?” “You would not think£1000pounds apiece an excessive sum for them?” “I would pay ten.” “That would be unnecessary. Three thousand will cover the matter. And there is a little reward, I fancy. Have you your check-book? Here is a pen. Better make it out for£4000.” With a dazed face the banker made out the re- quired check. Holmes walked over to his desk, took out a little triangular piece of gold with three gems in it, and threw it down upon the table. With a shriek of joy our client clutched it up. “You have it!” he gasped. “I am saved! I am saved!” The reaction of joy was as passionate as his grief had been, and he hugged his recovered gems to his bosom. “There is one other thing you owe, Mr. Holder,” said Sherlock Holmes rather sternly. “Owe!” He caught up a pen. “Name the sum, and I will pay it.” “No, the debt is not to me. You owe a very humble apology to that noble lad, your son, who has carried himself in this matter as I should be proud to see my own son do, should I ever chance to have one.” “Then it was not Arthur who took them?” “I told you yesterday, and I repeat to-day, that it was not.” “You are sure of it! Then let us hurry to him at once to let him know that the truth is known.” “He knows it already. When I had cleared it all up I had an interview with him, and ?nding that he would not tell me the story, I told it to him, on which he had to confess that I was right and to add the very few details which were not yet quite clear to me. Your news of this morning, however, may open his lips.” “For heaven’s sake, tell me, then, what is this extraordinary mystery!” “I will do so, and I will show you the steps by which I reached it. And let me say to you, ?rst, that which it is hardest for me to say and for you to hear: there has been an understanding between Sir George Burnwell and your niece Mary. They have now ?ed together.” “My Mary? Impossible!” “It is unfortunately more than possible; it is cer- tain. Neither you nor your son knew the true char- acter of this man when you admitted him into your family circle. He is one of the most dangerous men in England—a ruined gambler, an absolutely des- perate villain, a man without heart or conscience. Your niece knew nothing of such men. When he breathed his vows to her, as he had done to a hun- dred before her, she ?attered herself that she alone had touched his heart. The devil knows best what he said, but at least she became his tool and was in the habit of seeing him nearly every evening.” “I cannot, and I will not, believe it!” cried the banker with an ashen face. “I will tell you, then, what occurred in your house last night. Your niece, when you had, as she thought, gone to your room, slipped down and talked to her lover through the window which leads into the stable lane. His footmarks had pressed right through the snow, so long had he stood there. She told him of the coronet. His wicked lust for gold kindled at the news, and he bent her to his will. I have no doubt that she loved you, but there are women in whom the love of a 259 TheAdventure of theBerylCoronet lover extinguishes all other loves, and I think that she must have been one. She had hardly listened to his instructions when she saw you coming down- stairs, on which she closed the window rapidly and told you about one of the servants’ escapade with her wooden-legged lover, which was all per- fectly true. “Your boy, Arthur, went to bed after his inter- view with you but he slept badly on account of his uneasiness about his club debts. In the mid- dle of the night he heard a soft tread pass his door, so he rose and, looking out, was surprised to see his cousin walking very stealthily along the passage until she disappeared into your dressing- room. Petri?ed with astonishment, the lad slipped on some clothes and waited there in the dark to see what would come of this strange affair. Presently she emerged from the room again, and in the light of the passage-lamp your son saw that she car- ried the precious coronet in her hands. She passed down the stairs, and he, thrilling with horror, ran along and slipped behind the curtain near your door, whence he could see what passed in the hall beneath. He saw her stealthily open the window, hand out the coronet to someone in the gloom, and then closing it once more hurry back to her room, passing quite close to where he stood hid behind the curtain. “As long as she was on the scene he could not take any action without a horrible exposure of the woman whom he loved. But the instant that she was gone he realised how crushing a misfortune this would be for you, and how all-important it was to set it right. He rushed down, just as he was, in his bare feet, opened the window, sprang out into the snow, and ran down the lane, where he could see a dark ?gure in the moonlight. Sir George Burnwell tried to get away, but Arthur caught him, and there was a struggle between them, your lad tugging at one side of the coro- net, and his opponent at the other. In the scuf?e, your son struck Sir George and cut him over the eye. Then something suddenly snapped, and your son, ?nding that he had the coronet in his hands, rushed back, closed the window, ascended to your room, and had just observed that the coronet had been twisted in the struggle and was endeavour- ing to straighten it when you appeared upon the scene.” “Is it possible?” gasped the banker. “You then roused his anger by calling him names at a moment when he felt that he had de- served your warmest thanks. He could not explain the true state of affairs without betraying one who certainly deserved little enough consideration at his hands. He took the more chivalrous view, how- ever, and preserved her secret.” “And that was why she shrieked and fainted when she saw the coronet,” cried Mr. Holder. “Oh, my God! what a blind fool I have been! And his asking to be allowed to go out for ?ve minutes! The dear fellow wanted to see if the missing piece were at the scene of the struggle. How cruelly I have misjudged him!” “When I arrived at the house,” continued Holmes, “I at once went very carefully round it to observe if there were any traces in the snow which might help me. I knew that none had fallen since the evening before, and also that there had been a strong frost to preserve impressions. I passed along the tradesmen’s path, but found it all tram- pled down and indistinguishable. Just beyond it, however, at the far side of the kitchen door, a woman had stood and talked with a man, whose round impressions on one side showed that he had a wooden leg. I could even tell that they had been disturbed, for the woman had run back swiftly to the door, as was shown by the deep toe and light heel marks, while Wooden-leg had waited a little, and then had gone away. I thought at the time that this might be the maid and her sweetheart, of whom you had already spoken to me, and in- quiry showed it was so. I passed round the garden without seeing anything more than random tracks, which I took to be the police; but when I got into the stable lane a very long and complex story was written in the snow in front of me. “There was a double line of tracks of a booted man, and a second double line which I saw with delight belonged to a man with naked feet. I was at once convinced from what you had told me that the latter was your son. The ?rst had walked both ways, but the other had run swiftly, and as his tread was marked in places over the depression of the boot, it was obvious that he had passed af- ter the other. I followed them up and found they led to the hall window, where Boots had worn all the snow away while waiting. Then I walked to the other end, which was a hundred yards or more down the lane. I saw where Boots had faced round, where the snow was cut up as though there had been a struggle, and, ?nally, where a few drops of blood had fallen, to show me that I was not mistaken. Boots had then run down the lane, and another little smudge of blood showed that it was he who had been hurt. When he came to the highroad at the other end, I found that the pave- ment had been cleared, so there was an end to that clue. 260 “On entering the house, however, I examined, as you remember, the sill and framework of the hall window with my lens, and I could at once see that someone had passed out. I could distin- guish the outline of an instep where the wet foot had been placed in coming in. I was then begin- ning to be able to form an opinion as to what had occurred. A man had waited outside the window; someone had brought the gems; the deed had been overseen by your son; he had pursued the thief; had struggled with him; they had each tugged at the coronet, their united strength causing injuries which neither alone could have effected. He had returned with the prize, but had left a fragment in the grasp of his opponent. So far I was clear. The question now was, who was the man and who was it brought him the coronet? “It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, how- ever improbable, must be the truth. Now, I knew that it was not you who had brought it down, so there only remained your niece and the maids. But if it were the maids, why should your son allow himself to be accused in their place? There could be no possible reason. As he loved his cousin, however, there was an excellent explanation why he should retain her secret—the more so as the se- cret was a disgraceful one. When I remembered that you had seen her at that window, and how she had fainted on seeing the coronet again, my conjecture became a certainty. “And who could it be who was her confeder- ate? A lover evidently, for who else could out- weigh the love and gratitude which she must feel to you? I knew that you went out little, and that your circle of friends was a very limited one. But among them was Sir George Burnwell. I had heard of him before as being a man of evil reputation among women. It must have been he who wore those boots and retained the missing gems. Even though he knew that Arthur had discovered him, he might still ?atter himself that he was safe, for the lad could not say a word without compromis- ing his own family. “Well, your own good sense will suggest what measures I took next. I went in the shape of a loafer to Sir George’s house, managed to pick up an acquaintance with his valet, learned that his master had cut his head the night before, and, ?- nally, at the expense of six shillings, made all sure by buying a pair of his cast-off shoes. With these I journeyed down to Streatham and saw that they exactly ?tted the tracks.” “I saw an ill-dressed vagabond in the lane yes- terday evening,” said Mr. Holder. “Precisely. It was I. I found that I had my man, so I came home and changed my clothes. It was a delicate part which I had to play then, for I saw that a prosecution must be avoided to avert scan- dal, and I knew that so astute a villain would see that our hands were tied in the matter. I went and saw him. At ?rst, of course, he denied everything. But when I gave him every particular that had oc- curred, he tried to bluster and took down a life- preserver from the wall. I knew my man, however, and I clapped a pistol to his head before he could strike. Then he became a little more reasonable. I told him that we would give him a price for the stones he held—£1000apiece. That brought out the ?rst signs of grief that he had shown. ‘Why, dash it all!’ said he, ‘I’ve let them go at six hun- dred for the three!’ I soon managed to get the ad- dress of the receiver who had them, on promising him that there would be no prosecution. Off I set to him, and after much chaffering I got our stones at1000pounds apiece. Then I looked in upon your son, told him that all was right, and eventually got to my bed about two o’clock, after what I may call a really hard day’s work.” “A day which has saved England from a great public scandal,” said the banker, rising. “Sir, I can- not ?nd words to thank you, but you shall not ?nd me ungrateful for what you have done. Your skill has indeed exceeded all that I have heard of it. And now I must ?y to my dear boy to apologise to him for the wrong which I have done him. As to what you tell me of poor Mary, it goes to my very heart. Not even your skill can inform me where she is now.” “I think that we may safely say,” returned Holmes, “that she is wherever Sir George Burnwell is. It is equally certain, too, that whatever her sins are, they will soon receive a more than suf?cient punishment.” The Adventure of the Copper Beeches TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches To the manwho loves art for its own sake,? remarked Sherlock Holmes, toss- ing aside the advertisement sheet of theDaily Telegraph, ?it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived. It is pleas- ant to me to observe, Watson, that you have so far grasped this truth that in these little records of our cases which you have been good enough to draw up, and, I am bound to say, occasionally to em- bellish, you have given prominence not so much to the manycauses c · el  ebresand sensational trials in which I have gured but rather to those inci- dents which may have been trivial in themselves, but which have given room for those faculties of deduction and of logical synthesis which I have made my special province.? ?And yet,? said I, smiling, ?I cannot quite hold myself absolved from the charge of sensationalism which has been urged against my records.? ?You have erred, perhaps,? he observed, taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood??you have erred perhaps in attempting to put colour and life into each of your statements instead of conning your- self to the task of placing upon record that severe reasoning from cause to effect which is really the only notable feature about the thing.? ?It seems to me that I have done you full justice in the matter,? I remarked with some coldness, for I was repelled by the egotism which I had more than once observed to be a strong factor in my friend’s singular character. ?No, it is not selshness or conceit,? said he, answering, as was his wont, my thoughts rather than my words. ?If I claim full justice for my art, it is because it is an impersonal thing?a thing be- yond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell. You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures into a series of tales.? It was a cold morning of the early spring, and we sat after breakfast on either side of a cheery re in the old room at Baker Street. A thick fog rolled down between the lines of dun-coloured houses, and the opposing windows loomed like dark, shapeless blurs through the heavy yellow wreaths. Our gas was lit and shone on the white cloth and glimmer of china and metal, for the ta- ble had not been cleared yet. Sherlock Holmes had been silent all the morning, dipping continuously into the advertisement columns of a succession of papers until at last, having apparently given up his search, he had emerged in no very sweet temper to lecture me upon my literary shortcomings. ?At the same time,? he remarked after a pause, during which he had sat pufng at his long pipe and gazing down into the re, ?you can hardly be open to a charge of sensationalism, for out of these cases which you have been so kind as to interest yourself in, a fair proportion do not treat of crime, in its legal sense, at all. The small matter in which I endeavoured to help the King of Bohemia, the singular experience of Miss Mary Sutherland, the problem connected with the man with the twisted lip, and the incident of the noble bachelor, were all matters which are outside the pale of the law. But in avoiding the sensational, I fear that you may have bordered on the trivial.? ?The end may have been so,? I answered, ?but the methods I hold to have been novel and of in- terest.? ?Pshaw, my dear fellow, what do the public, the great unobservant public, who could hardly tell a weaver by his tooth or a compositor by his left thumb, care about the ner shades of analysis and deduction! But, indeed, if you are trivial. I can- not blame you, for the days of the great cases are past. Man, or at least criminal man, has lost all en- terprise and originality. As to my own little prac- tice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that I have touched bottom at last, however. This note I had this morning marks my zero-point, I fancy. Read it!? He tossed a crumpled letter across to me. It was dated from Montague Place upon the preceding evening, and ran thus: DearMr. Holmes: I am very anxious to consult you as to whether I should or should not ac- cept a situation which has been offered to me as governess. I shall call at half- past ten to-morrow if I do not inconve- nience you. Yours faithfully, VioletHunter. ?Do you know the young lady?? I asked. ?Not I.? ?It is half-past ten now.? ?Yes, and I have no doubt that is her ring.? ?It may turn out to be of more interest than you think. You remember that the affair of the blue car- buncle, which appeared to be a mere whim at rst, 265 TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches developed into a serious investigation. It may be so in this case, also.” “Well, let us hope so. But our doubts will very soon be solved, for here, unless I am much mis- taken, is the person in question.” As he spoke the door opened and a young lady entered the room. She was plainly but neatly dressed, with a bright, quick face, freckled like a plover’s egg, and with the brisk manner of a woman who has had her own way to make in the world. “You will excuse my troubling you, I am sure,” said she, as my companion rose to greet her, “but I have had a very strange experience, and as I have no parents or relations of any sort from whom I could ask advice, I thought that perhaps you would be kind enough to tell me what I should do.” “Pray take a seat, Miss Hunter. I shall be happy to do anything that I can to serve you.” I could see that Holmes was favourably im- pressed by the manner and speech of his new client. He looked her over in his searching fashion, and then composed himself, with his lids drooping and his ?nger-tips together, to listen to her story. “I have been a governess for ?ve years,” said she, “in the family of Colonel Spence Munro, but two months ago the colonel received an appoint- ment at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and took his chil- dren over to America with him, so that I found myself without a situation. I advertised, and I an- swered advertisements, but without success. At last the little money which I had saved began to run short, and I was at my wit’s end as to what I should do. “There is a well-known agency for governesses in the West End called Westaway’s, and there I used to call about once a week in order to see whether anything had turned up which might suit me. Westaway was the name of the founder of the business, but it is really managed by Miss Stoper. She sits in her own little of?ce, and the ladies who are seeking employment wait in an anteroom, and are then shown in one by one, when she consults her ledgers and sees whether she has anything which would suit them. “Well, when I called last week I was shown into the little of?ce as usual, but I found that Miss Stoper was not alone. A prodigiously stout man with a very smiling face and a great heavy chin which rolled down in fold upon fold over his throat sat at her elbow with a pair of glasses on his nose, looking very earnestly at the ladies who entered. As I came in he gave quite a jump in his chair and turned quickly to Miss Stoper. “ ‘That will do,’ said he; ‘I could not ask for anything better. Capital! capital!’ He seemed quite enthusiastic and rubbed his hands together in the most genial fashion. He was such a comfortable- looking man that it was quite a pleasure to look at him. “ ‘You are looking for a situation, miss?’ he asked. “ ‘Yes, sir.’ “ ‘As governess?’ “ ‘Yes, sir.’ “ ‘And what salary do you ask?’ “ ‘I had£4a month in my last place with Colonel Spence Munro.’ “ ‘Oh, tut, tut! sweating—rank sweating!’ he cried, throwing his fat hands out into the air like a man who is in a boiling passion. ‘How could anyone offer so pitiful a sum to a lady with such attractions and accomplishments?’ “ ‘My accomplishments, sir, may be less than you imagine,’ said I. ‘A little French, a little Ger- man, music, and drawing—’ “ ‘Tut, tut!’ he cried. ‘This is all quite beside the question. The point is, have you or have you not the bearing and deportment of a lady? There it is in a nutshell. If you have not, you are not ?tted for the rearing of a child who may some day play a considerable part in the history of the country. But if you have why, then, how could any gentleman ask you to condescend to accept anything under the three ?gures? Your salary with me, madam, would commence at£100a year.’ “You may imagine, Mr. Holmes, that to me, destitute as I was, such an offer seemed almost too good to be true. The gentleman, however, see- ing perhaps the look of incredulity upon my face, opened a pocket-book and took out a note. “ ‘It is also my custom,’ said he, smiling in the most pleasant fashion until his eyes were just two little shining slits amid the white creases of his face, ‘to advance to my young ladies half their salary beforehand, so that they may meet any little expenses of their journey and their wardrobe.’ “It seemed to me that I had never met so fasci- nating and so thoughtful a man. As I was already in debt to my tradesmen, the advance was a great convenience, and yet there was something unnat- ural about the whole transaction which made me wish to know a little more before I quite commit- ted myself. “ ‘May I ask where you live, sir?’ said I. 266 TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches “ ‘Hampshire. Charming rural place. The Cop- per Beeches, ?ve miles on the far side of Winch- ester. It is the most lovely country, my dear young lady, and the dearest old country-house.’ “ ‘And my duties, sir? I should be glad to know what they would be.’ “ ‘One child—one dear little romper just six years old. Oh, if you could see him killing cock- roaches with a slipper! Smack! smack! smack! Three gone before you could wink!’ He leaned back in his chair and laughed his eyes into his head again. “I was a little startled at the nature of the child’s amusement, but the father’s laughter made me think that perhaps he was joking. “ ‘My sole duties, then,’ I asked, ‘are to take charge of a single child?’ “ ‘No, no, not the sole, not the sole, my dear young lady,’ he cried. ‘Your duty would be, as I am sure your good sense would suggest, to obey any little commands my wife might give, provided always that they were such commands as a lady might with propriety obey. You see no dif?culty, heh?’ “ ‘I should be happy to make myself useful.’ “ ‘Quite so. In dress now, for example. We are faddy people, you know—faddy but kind-hearted. If you were asked to wear any dress which we might give you, you would not object to our lit- tle whim. Heh?’ “ ‘No,’ said I, considerably astonished at his words. “ ‘Or to sit here, or sit there, that would not be offensive to you?’ “ ‘Oh, no.’ “ ‘Or to cut your hair quite short before you come to us?’ “I could hardly believe my ears. As you may observe, Mr. Holmes, my hair is somewhat luxu- riant, and of a rather peculiar tint of chestnut. It has been considered artistic. I could not dream of sacri?cing it in this offhand fashion. “ ‘I am afraid that that is quite impossible,’ said I. He had been watching me eagerly out of his small eyes, and I could see a shadow pass over his face as I spoke. “ ‘I am afraid that it is quite essential,’ said he. ‘It is a little fancy of my wife’s, and ladies’ fan- cies, you know, madam, ladies’ fancies must be consulted. And so you won’t cut your hair?’ “ ‘No, sir, I really could not,’ I answered ?rmly. “ ‘Ah, very well; then that quite settles the mat- ter. It is a pity, because in other respects you would really have done very nicely. In that case, Miss Stoper, I had best inspect a few more of your young ladies.’ “The manageress had sat all this while busy with her papers without a word to either of us, but she glanced at me now with so much annoy- ance upon her face that I could not help suspecting that she had lost a handsome commission through my refusal. “ ‘Do you desire your name to be kept upon the books?’ she asked. “ ‘If you please, Miss Stoper.’ “ ‘Well, really, it seems rather useless, since you refuse the most excellent offers in this fashion,’ said she sharply. ‘You can hardly expect us to ex- ert ourselves to ?nd another such opening for you. Good-day to you, Miss Hunter.’ She struck a gong upon the table, and I was shown out by the page. “Well, Mr. Holmes, when I got back to my lodg- ings and found little enough in the cupboard, and two or three bills upon the table. I began to ask myself whether I had not done a very foolish thing. After all, if these people had strange fads and ex- pected obedience on the most extraordinary mat- ters, they were at least ready to pay for their ec- centricity. Very few governesses in England are getting£100a year. Besides, what use was my hair to me? Many people are improved by wearing it short and perhaps I should be among the number. Next day I was inclined to think that I had made a mistake, and by the day after I was sure of it. I had almost overcome my pride so far as to go back to the agency and inquire whether the place was still open when I received this letter from the gentle- man himself. I have it here and I will read it to you: “ ‘The Copper Beeches, near Winchester. “ ‘DearMissHunter: “ ‘Miss Stoper has very kindly given me your address, and I write from here to ask you whether you have reconsid- ered your decision. My wife is very anxious that you should come, for she has been much attracted by my de- scription of you. We are willing to give£30a quarter, or£120a year, so as to recompense you for any little in- convenience which our fads may cause you. They are not very exacting, af- ter all. My wife is fond of a particular 267 TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches shade of electric blue and would like you to wear such a dress indoors in the morning. You need not, however, go to the expense of purchasing one, as we have one belonging to my dear daughter Alice (now in Philadelphia), which would, I should think, ?t you very well. Then, as to sitting here or there, or amusing yourself in any man- ner indicated, that need cause you no inconvenience. As regards your hair, it is no doubt a pity, especially as I could not help remarking its beauty during our short interview, but I am afraid that I must remain ?rm upon this point, and I only hope that the increased salary may recompense you for the loss. Your duties, as far as the child is concerned, are very light. Now do try to come, and I shall meet you with the dog-cart at Winchester. Let me know your train. “ ‘Yours faithfully, “ ‘JephroRucastle.’ “That is the letter which I have just received, Mr. Holmes, and my mind is made up that I will accept it. I thought, however, that before taking the ?nal step I should like to submit the whole matter to your consideration.” “Well, Miss Hunter, if your mind is made up, that settles the question,” said Holmes, smiling. “But you would not advise me to refuse?” “I confess that it is not the situation which I should like to see a sister of mine apply for.” “What is the meaning of it all, Mr. Holmes?” “Ah, I have no data. I cannot tell. Perhaps you have yourself formed some opinion?” “Well, there seems to me to be only one pos- sible solution. Mr. Rucastle seemed to be a very kind, good-natured man. Is it not possible that his wife is a lunatic, that he desires to keep the matter quiet for fear she should be taken to an asylum, and that he humours her fancies in every way in order to prevent an outbreak?” “That is a possible solution—in fact, as matters stand, it is the most probable one. But in any case it does not seem to be a nice household for a young lady.” “But the money, Mr. Holmes, the money!” “Well, yes, of course the pay is good—too good. That is what makes me uneasy. Why should they give you£120a year, when they could have their pick for£40? There must be some strong reason behind.” “I thought that if I told you the circumstances you would understand afterwards if I wanted your help. I should feel so much stronger if I felt that you were at the back of me.” “Oh, you may carry that feeling away with you. I assure you that your little problem promises to be the most interesting which has come my way for some months. There is something distinctly novel about some of the features. If you should ?nd yourself in doubt or in danger—” “Danger! What danger do you foresee?” Holmes shook his head gravely. “It would cease to be a danger if we could de?ne it,” said he. “But at any time, day or night, a telegram would bring me down to your help.” “That is enough.” She rose briskly from her chair with the anxiety all swept from her face. “I shall go down to Hampshire quite easy in my mind now. I shall write to Mr. Rucastle at once, sacri?ce my poor hair to-night, and start for Winchester to-morrow.” With a few grateful words to Holmes she bade us both good-night and bus- tled off upon her way. “At least,” said I as we heard her quick, ?rm steps descending the stairs, “she seems to be a young lady who is very well able to take care of herself.” “And she would need to be,” said Holmes gravely. “I am much mistaken if we do not hear from her before many days are past.” It was not very long before my friend’s pre- diction was ful?lled. A fortnight went by, dur- ing which I frequently found my thoughts turn- ing in her direction and wondering what strange side-alley of human experience this lonely woman had strayed into. The unusual salary, the curious conditions, the light duties, all pointed to some- thing abnormal, though whether a fad or a plot, or whether the man were a philanthropist or a vil- lain, it was quite beyond my powers to determine. As to Holmes, I observed that he sat frequently for half an hour on end, with knitted brows and an abstracted air, but he swept the matter away with a wave of his hand when I mentioned it. “Data! data! data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.” And yet he would always wind up by muttering that no sister of his should ever have accepted such a situation. The telegram which we eventually received came late one night just as I was thinking of turn- ing in and Holmes was settling down to one of 268 TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches those all-night chemical researches which he fre- quently indulged in, when I would leave him stooping over a retort and a test-tube at night and ?nd him in the same position when I came down to breakfast in the morning. He opened the yel- low envelope, and then, glancing at the message, threw it across to me. “Just look up the trains in Bradshaw,” said he, and turned back to his chemical studies. The summons was a brief and urgent one. Please be at the Black Swan Hotel at Winchester at midday to-morrow [it said]. Do come! I am at my wit’s end. Hunter. “Will you come with me?” asked Holmes, glancing up. “I should wish to.” “Just look it up, then.” “There is a train at half-past nine,” said I, glanc- ing over my Bradshaw. “It is due at Winchester at11.30.” “That will do very nicely. Then perhaps I had better postpone my analysis of the acetones, as we may need to be at our best in the morning.” By eleven o’clock the next day we were well upon our way to the old English capital. Holmes had been buried in the morning papers all the way down, but after we had passed the Hampshire bor- der he threw them down and began to admire the scenery. It was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, ?ecked with little ?eecy white clouds drift- ing across from west to east. The sun was shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip in the air, which set an edge to a man’s energy. All over the countryside, away to the rolling hills around Aldershot, the little red and grey roofs of the farm-steadings peeped out from amid the light green of the new foliage. “Are they not fresh and beautiful?” I cried with all the enthusiasm of a man fresh from the fogs of Baker Street. But Holmes shook his head gravely. “Do you know, Watson,” said he, “that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.” “Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would asso- ciate crime with these dear old homesteads?” “They always ?ll me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” “You horrify me!” “But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunk- ard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indig- nation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own ?elds, ?lled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Had this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in Winchester, I should never have had a fear for her. It is the ?ve miles of country which makes the danger. Still, it is clear that she is not personally threatened.” “No. If she can come to Winchester to meet us she can get away.” “Quite so. She has her freedom.” “Whatcanbe the matter, then? Can you sug- gest no explanation?” “I have devised seven separate explanations, each of which would cover the facts as far as we know them. But which of these is correct can only be determined by the fresh information which we shall no doubt ?nd waiting for us. Well, there is the tower of the cathedral, and we shall soon learn all that Miss Hunter has to tell.” The Black Swan is an inn of repute in the High Street, at no distance from the station, and there we found the young lady waiting for us. She had engaged a sitting-room, and our lunch awaited us upon the table. “I am so delighted that you have come,” she said earnestly. “It is so very kind of you both; but indeed I do not know what I should do. Your ad- vice will be altogether invaluable to me.” “Pray tell us what has happened to you.” “I will do so, and I must be quick, for I have promised Mr. Rucastle to be back before three. I got his leave to come into town this morning, though he little knew for what purpose.” 269 TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches “Let us have everything in its due order.” Holmes thrust his long thin legs out towards the ?re and composed himself to listen. “In the ?rst place, I may say that I have met, on the whole, with no actual ill-treatment from Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle. It is only fair to them to say that. But I cannot understand them, and I am not easy in my mind about them.” “What can you not understand?” “Their reasons for their conduct. But you shall have it all just as it occurred. When I came down, Mr. Rucastle met me here and drove me in his dog- cart to the Copper Beeches. It is, as he said, beau- tifully situated, but it is not beautiful in itself, for it is a large square block of a house, whitewashed, but all stained and streaked with damp and bad weather. There are grounds round it, woods on three sides, and on the fourth a ?eld which slopes down to the Southampton highroad, which curves past about a hundred yards from the front door. This ground in front belongs to the house, but the woods all round are part of Lord Southerton’s pre- serves. A clump of copper beeches immediately in front of the hall door has given its name to the place. “I was driven over by my employer, who was as amiable as ever, and was introduced by him that evening to his wife and the child. There was no truth, Mr. Holmes, in the conjecture which seemed to us to be probable in your rooms at Baker Street. Mrs. Rucastle is not mad. I found her to be a silent, pale-faced woman, much younger than her hus- band, not more than thirty, I should think, while he can hardly be less than forty-?ve. From their con- versation I have gathered that they have been mar- ried about seven years, that he was a widower, and that his only child by the ?rst wife was the daugh- ter who has gone to Philadelphia. Mr. Rucastle told me in private that the reason why she had left them was that she had an unreasoning aversion to her stepmother. As the daughter could not have been less than twenty, I can quite imagine that her position must have been uncomfortable with her father’s young wife. “Mrs. Rucastle seemed to me to be colourless in mind as well as in feature. She impressed me nei- ther favourably nor the reverse. She was a nonen- tity. It was easy to see that she was passionately devoted both to her husband and to her little son. Her light grey eyes wandered continually from one to the other, noting every little want and fore- stalling it if possible. He was kind to her also in his bluff, boisterous fashion, and on the whole they seemed to be a happy couple. And yet she had some secret sorrow, this woman. She would of- ten be lost in deep thought, with the saddest look upon her face. More than once I have surprised her in tears. I have thought sometimes that it was the disposition of her child which weighed upon her mind, for I have never met so utterly spoiled and so ill-natured a little creature. He is small for his age, with a head which is quite disproportion- ately large. His whole life appears to be spent in an alternation between savage ?ts of passion and gloomy intervals of sulking. Giving pain to any creature weaker than himself seems to be his one idea of amusement, and he shows quite remark- able talent in planning the capture of mice, little birds, and insects. But I would rather not talk about the creature, Mr. Holmes, and, indeed, he has little to do with my story.” “I am glad of all details,” remarked my friend, “whether they seem to you to be relevant or not.” “I shall try not to miss anything of importance. The one unpleasant thing about the house, which struck me at once, was the appearance and con- duct of the servants. There are only two, a man and his wife. Toller, for that is his name, is a rough, uncouth man, with grizzled hair and whiskers, and a perpetual smell of drink. Twice since I have been with them he has been quite drunk, and yet Mr. Rucastle seemed to take no notice of it. His wife is a very tall and strong woman with a sour face, as silent as Mrs. Rucastle and much less ami- able. They are a most unpleasant couple, but for- tunately I spend most of my time in the nursery and my own room, which are next to each other in one corner of the building. “For two days after my arrival at the Copper Beeches my life was very quiet; on the third, Mrs. Rucastle came down just after breakfast and whis- pered something to her husband. “ ‘Oh, yes,’ said he, turning to me, ‘we are very much obliged to you, Miss Hunter, for falling in with our whims so far as to cut your hair. I as- sure you that it has not detracted in the tiniest iota from your appearance. We shall now see how the electric-blue dress will become you. You will ?nd it laid out upon the bed in your room, and if you would be so good as to put it on we should both be extremely obliged.’ “The dress which I found waiting for me was of a peculiar shade of blue. It was of excellent material, a sort of beige, but it bore unmistakable signs of having been worn before. It could not have been a better ?t if I had been measured for it. Both Mr. and Mrs. Rucastle expressed a delight at the look of it, which seemed quite exaggerated in its vehemence. They were waiting for me in the 270 TheAdventure of theCopperBeeches drawing-room, which is a very large room, stretch- ing along the entire front of the house, with three long windows reaching down to the ?oor. A chair had been placed close to the central window, with its back turned towards it. In this I was asked to sit, and then Mr. Rucastle, walking up and down on the other side of the room, began to tell me a se- ries of the funniest stories that I have ever listened to. You cannot imagine how comical he was, and I laughed until I was quite weary. Mrs. Rucastle, however, who has evidently no sense of humour, never so much as smiled, but sat with her hands in her lap, and a sad, anxious look upon her face. Af- ter an hour or so, Mr. Rucastle suddenly remarked that it was time to commence the duties of the day, and that I might change my dress and go to little Edward in the nursery. “Two days later this same performance was gone through under exactly similar circumstances. Again I changed my dress, again I sat in the win- dow, and again I laughed very heartily at the funny stories of which my employer had an im- mense r´ epertoire, and which he told inimitably. Then he handed me a yellow-backed novel, and moving my chair a little sideways, that my own shadow might not fall upon the page, he begged me to read aloud to him. I read for about ten min- utes, beginning in the heart of a chapter, and then suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, he ordered me to cease and to change my dress. “You can easily imagine, Mr. Holmes, how cu- rious I became as to what the meaning of this ex- traordinary performance could possibly be. They were always very careful, I observed, to turn my face away from the window, so that I became con- sumed with the desire to see what was going on behind my back. At ?rst it seemed to be impossi- ble, but I soon devised a means. My hand-mirror had been broken, so a happy thought seized me, and I concealed a piece of the glass in my hand- kerchief. On the next occasion, in the midst of my laughter, I put my handkerchief up to my eyes, and was able with a little management to see all that there was behind me. I confess that I was dis- appointed. There was