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					The Complete Sherlock Holmes
         Arthur Conan Doyle
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                                               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 Face . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          293
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




                                                                     iii
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 Foot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                               825
His Last Bow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          839




                                                                       iv
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




                                                                       v
A Study In Scarlet
                                                A Study In Scarlet




                                            Table of contents

Part I
Mr. Sherlock Holmes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           7
The Science Of Deduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                10
The Lauriston Garden Mystery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      14
What John Rance Had To Tell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   19
Our Advertisement Brings A Visitor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          22
Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                                 26
Light In The Darkness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           30


Part II
On The Great Alkali Plain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               37
The Flower Of Utah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          41
John Ferrier Talks With The Prophet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         44
A Flight For Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   46
The Avenging Angels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           51
A Continuation Of The Reminiscences Of John Watson, M.D. . . . . . . . . .                                                      55
The Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    59




                                                                  3
             PART I.
(Being a reprint from the reminiscences of
         John H. Watson, M.D.,
 late of the Army Medical Department.)
                                           A Study In Scarlet

                                            CHAPTER I.




I
                                       Mr. Sherlock Holmes

          n the year 1878 I took my degree of              which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are
          Doctor of Medicine of the University of          irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time
          London, and proceeded to Netley to go            at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a com-
          through the course prescribed for sur-           fortless, meaningless existence, and spending such
geons in the army. Having completed my studies             money as I had, considerably more freely than I
there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northum-           ought. So alarming did the state of my finances
berland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regi-          become, that I soon realized that I must either
ment was stationed in India at the time, and before        leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in
I could join it, the second Afghan war had bro-            the country, or that I must make a complete alter-
ken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my           ation in my style of living. Choosing the latter al-
corps had advanced through the passes, and was             ternative, I began by making up my mind to leave
already deep in the enemy’s country. I followed,           the hotel, and to take up my quarters in some less
however, with many other officers who were in the           pretentious and less expensive domicile.
same situation as myself, and succeeded in reach-              On the very day that I had come to this con-
ing Candahar in safety, where I found my regi-             clusion, I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when
ment, and at once entered upon my new duties.              some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turn-
    The campaign brought honours and promotion             ing round I recognized young Stamford, who had
to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune          been a dresser under me at Bart’s. The sight of a
and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and            friendly face in the great wilderness of London is
attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at          a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old
the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck            days Stamford had never been a particular crony
on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shat-            of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm,
tered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery.           and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to
I should have fallen into the hands of the murder-         see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him
ous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and            to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started
courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw             off together in a hansom.
me across a pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing              “Whatever have you been doing with yourself,
me safely to the British lines.                            Watson?” he asked in undisguised wonder, as we
                                                           rattled through the crowded London streets. “You
    Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged
                                                           are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut.”
hardships which I had undergone, I was removed,
with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base           I gave him a short sketch of my adventures,
hospital at Peshawar. Here I rallied, and had al-          and had hardly concluded it by the time that we
ready improved so far as to be able to walk about          reached our destination.
the wards, and even to bask a little upon the ve-              “Poor devil!” he said, commiseratingly, after he
randah, when I was struck down by enteric fever,           had listened to my misfortunes. “What are you up
that curse of our Indian possessions. For months           to now?”
my life was despaired of, and when at last I came              “Looking for lodgings,” I answered. “Trying to
to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak           solve the problem as to whether it is possible to
and emaciated that a medical board determined              get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.”
that not a day should be lost in sending me back               “That’s a strange thing,” remarked my com-
to England. I was dispatched, accordingly, in the          panion; “you are the second man to-day that has
troopship Orontes, and landed a month later on             used that expression to me.”
Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably ru-             “And who was the first?” I asked.
ined, but with permission from a paternal govern-              “A fellow who is working at the chemical labo-
ment to spend the next nine months in attempting           ratory up at the hospital. He was bemoaning him-
to improve it.                                             self this morning because he could not get some-
    I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was         one to go halves with him in some nice rooms
therefore as free as air—or as free as an income           which he had found, and which were too much
of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit         for his purse.”
a man to be. Under such circumstances, I natu-                 “By Jove!” I cried, “if he really wants someone
rally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into       to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very

                                                       7
                                           A Study In Scarlet

man for him. I should prefer having a partner to           matter. Is this fellow’s temper so formidable, or
being alone.”                                              what is it? Don’t be mealy-mouthed about it.”
    Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me                “It is not easy to express the inexpressible,”
over his wine-glass. “You don’t know Sherlock              he answered with a laugh. “Holmes is a little
Holmes yet,” he said; “perhaps you would not care          too scientific for my tastes—it approaches to cold-
for him as a constant companion.”                          bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a
                                                           little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out
   “Why, what is there against him?”
                                                           of malevolence, you understand, but simply out
    “Oh, I didn’t say there was anything against           of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate
him. He is a little queer in his ideas—an enthusi-         idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that
ast in some branches of science. As far as I know          he would take it himself with the same readiness.
he is a decent fellow enough.”                             He appears to have a passion for definite and exact
   “A medical student, I suppose?” said I.                 knowledge.”
    “No—I have no idea what he intends to go in               “Very right too.”
for. I believe he is well up in anatomy, and he is a           “Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When
first-class chemist; but, as far as I know, he has          it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting-
never taken out any systematic medical classes.            rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a
His studies are very desultory and eccentric, but          bizarre shape.”
he has amassed a lot of out-of-the way knowledge              “Beating the subjects!”
which would astonish his professors.”
                                                              “Yes, to verify how far bruises may be pro-
    “Did you never ask him what he was going in            duced after death. I saw him at it with my own
for?” I asked.                                             eyes.”
   “No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out,          “And yet you say he is not a medical student?”
though he can be communicative enough when the                 “No. Heaven knows what the objects of his
fancy seizes him.”                                         studies are. But here we are, and you must
    “I should like to meet him,” I said. “If I am to       form your own impressions about him.” As he
lodge with anyone, I should prefer a man of stu-           spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed
dious and quiet habits. I am not strong enough yet         through a small side-door, which opened into a
to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough            wing of the great hospital. It was familiar ground
of both in Afghanistan to last me for the remain-          to me, and I needed no guiding as we ascended the
der of my natural existence. How could I meet this         bleak stone staircase and made our way down the
friend of yours?”                                          long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall
    “He is sure to be at the laboratory,” returned         and dun-coloured doors. Near the further end a
my companion. “He either avoids the place for              low arched passage branched away from it and led
weeks, or else he works there from morning to              to the chemical laboratory.
night. If you like, we shall drive round together              This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered
after luncheon.”                                           with countless bottles. Broad, low tables were scat-
                                                           tered about, which bristled with retorts, test-tubes,
    “Certainly,” I answered, and the conversation
                                                           and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering
drifted away into other channels.
                                                           flames. There was only one student in the room,
    As we made our way to the hospital after leav-         who was bending over a distant table absorbed in
ing the Holborn, Stamford gave me a few more               his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced
particulars about the gentleman whom I proposed            round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure.
to take as a fellow-lodger.                                “I’ve found it! I’ve found it,” he shouted to my
   “You mustn’t blame me if you don’t get on with          companion, running towards us with a test-tube in
him,” he said; “I know nothing more of him than            his hand. “I have found a re-agent which is precip-
I have learned from meeting him occasionally in            itated by hœmoglobin, and by nothing else.” Had
the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so          he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could
you must not hold me responsible.”                         not have shone upon his features.
   “If we don’t get on it will be easy to part com-           “Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stam-
pany,” I answered. “It seems to me, Stamford,” I           ford, introducing us.
added, looking hard at my companion, “that you               “How are you?” he said cordially, gripping
have some reason for washing your hands of the             my hand with a strength for which I should

                                                       8
                                             A Study In Scarlet

hardly have given him credit. “You have been in                  His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put
Afghanistan, I perceive.”                                    his hand over his heart and bowed as if to some ap-
   “How on earth did you know that?” I asked in              plauding crowd conjured up by his imagination.
astonishment.                                                    “You are to be congratulated,” I remarked, con-
                                                             siderably surprised at his enthusiasm.
   “Never mind,” said he, chuckling to himself.
“The question now is about hœmoglobin. No                        “There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frank-
doubt you see the significance of this discovery of           fort last year. He would certainly have been hung
mine?”                                                       had this test been in existence. Then there was
                                                             Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and
   “It is interesting, chemically, no doubt,” I an-
                                                             Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of new Or-
swered, “but practically—”
                                                             leans. I could name a score of cases in which it
    “Why, man, it is the most practical medico-              would have been decisive.”
legal discovery for years. Don’t you see that it                 “You seem to be a walking calendar of crime,”
gives us an infallible test for blood stains. Come           said Stamford with a laugh. “You might start a pa-
over here now!” He seized me by the coat-sleeve              per on those lines. Call it the ‘Police News of the
in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at           Past.’ ”
which he had been working. “Let us have some
                                                                 “Very interesting reading it might be made,
fresh blood,” he said, digging a long bodkin into
                                                             too,” remarked Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small
his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of
                                                             piece of plaster over the prick on his finger. “I have
blood in a chemical pipette. “Now, I add this small
                                                             to be careful,” he continued, turning to me with a
quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive
                                                             smile, “for I dabble with poisons a good deal.” He
that the resulting mixture has the appearance of
                                                             held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it
pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be
                                                             was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster,
more than one in a million. I have no doubt, how-
                                                             and discoloured with strong acids.
ever, that we shall be able to obtain the characteris-
                                                                 “We came here on business,” said Stamford, sit-
tic reaction.” As he spoke, he threw into the vessel
                                                             ting down on a high three-legged stool, and push-
a few white crystals, and then added some drops
                                                             ing another one in my direction with his foot. “My
of a transparent fluid. In an instant the contents
                                                             friend here wants to take diggings, and as you
assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a brownish
                                                             were complaining that you could get no one to go
dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar.
                                                             halves with you, I thought that I had better bring
   “Ha! ha!” he cried, clapping his hands, and               you together.”
looking as delighted as a child with a new toy.
                                                                 Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea
“What do you think of that?”
                                                             of sharing his rooms with me. “I have my eye on a
   “It seems to be a very delicate test,” I remarked.        suite in Baker Street,” he said, “which would suit
    “Beautiful! beautiful! The old Guiacum test              us down to the ground. You don’t mind the smell
was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the micro-              of strong tobacco, I hope?”
scopic examination for blood corpuscles. The lat-                “I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,” I answered.
ter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old.              “That’s good enough. I generally have chem-
Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood           icals about, and occasionally do experiments.
is old or new. Had this test been invented, there            Would that annoy you?”
are hundreds of men now walking the earth who                    “By no means.”
would long ago have paid the penalty of their
                                                                 “Let me see—what are my other shortcomings.
crimes.”
                                                             I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my
   “Indeed!” I murmured.                                     mouth for days on end. You must not think I am
    “Criminal cases are continually hinging upon             sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I’ll
that one point. A man is suspected of a crime                soon be right. What have you to confess now? It’s
months perhaps after it has been committed. His              just as well for two fellows to know the worst of
linen or clothes are examined, and brownish stains           one another before they begin to live together.”
discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or                  I laughed at this cross-examination. “I keep a
mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what         bull pup,” I said, “and I object to rows because
are they? That is a question which has puzzled               my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of
many an expert, and why? Because there was no                ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have
reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes’              another set of vices when I’m well, but those are
test, and there will no longer be any difficulty.”            the principal ones at present.”

                                                         9
                                           A Study In Scarlet

    “Do you include violin-playing in your cate-                My companion smiled an enigmatical smile.
gory of rows?” he asked, anxiously.                         “That’s just his little peculiarity,” he said. “A good
    “It depends on the player,” I answered. “A              many people have wanted to know how he finds
well-played violin is a treat for the gods—a badly-         things out.”
played one—”
    “Oh, that’s all right,” he cried, with a merry              “Oh! a mystery is it?” I cried, rubbing my
laugh. “I think we may consider the thing as set-           hands. “This is very piquant. I am much obliged
tled—that is, if the rooms are agreeable to you.”           to you for bringing us together. ‘The proper study
    “When shall we see them?”                               of mankind is man,’ you know.”
    “Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we’ll
go together and settle everything,” he answered.               “You must study him, then,” Stamford said, as
    “All right—noon exactly,” said I, shaking his           he bade me good-bye. “You’ll find him a knotty
hand.                                                       problem, though. I’ll wager he learns more about
    We left him working among his chemicals, and            you than you about him. Good-bye.”
we walked together towards my hotel.
    “By the way,” I asked suddenly, stopping and               “Good-bye,” I answered, and strolled on to my
turning upon Stamford, “how the deuce did he                hotel, considerably interested in my new acquain-
know that I had come from Afghanistan?”                     tance.




                                            CHAPTER II.
                                    The Science Of Deduction

    We met next day as he had arranged, and in-             long walks, which appeared to take him into the
spected the rooms at No. 221b, Baker Street, of             lowest portions of the City. Nothing could exceed
which he had spoken at our meeting. They con-               his energy when the working fit was upon him;
sisted of a couple of comfortable bed-rooms and             but now and again a reaction would seize him, and
a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully fur-           for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the
nished, and illuminated by two broad windows.               sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a
So desirable in every way were the apartments,              muscle from morning to night. On these occasions
and so moderate did the terms seem when divided             I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in
between us, that the bargain was concluded upon             his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being
the spot, and we at once entered into possession.           addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the
That very evening I moved my things round from              temperance and cleanliness of his whole life for-
the hotel, and on the following morning Sherlock            bidden such a notion.
Holmes followed me with several boxes and port-                 As the weeks went by, my interest in him and
manteaus. For a day or two we were busily em-               my curiosity as to his aims in life, gradually deep-
ployed in unpacking and laying out our property             ened and increased. His very person and appear-
to the best advantage. That done, we gradually be-          ance were such as to strike the attention of the
gan to settle down and to accommodate ourselves             most casual observer. In height he was rather over
to our new surroundings.                                    six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to
    Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live         be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and
with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits              piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to
were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten        which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose
at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and             gave his whole expression an air of alertness and
gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes            decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and
he spent his day at the chemical laboratory, some-          squareness which mark the man of determination.
times in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in          His hands were invariably blotted with ink and

                                                       10
                                           A Study In Scarlet

stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of ex-         and you have to stock it with such furniture as
traordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had          you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every
occasion to observe when I watched him manipu-              sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge
lating his fragile philosophical instruments.               which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or
    The reader may set me down as a hopeless                at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so
busybody, when I confess how much this man                  that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.
stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeav-            Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as
oured to break through the reticence which he               to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have
showed on all that concerned himself. Before pro-           nothing but the tools which may help him in doing
nouncing judgment, however, be it remembered,               his work, but of these he has a large assortment,
how objectless was my life, and how little there            and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to
was to engage my attention. My health forbade me            think that that little room has elastic walls and can
from venturing out unless the weather was excep-            distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes
tionally genial, and I had no friends who would             a time when for every addition of knowledge you
call upon me and break the monotony of my daily             forget something that you knew before. It is of the
existence. Under these circumstances, I eagerly             highest importance, therefore, not to have useless
hailed the little mystery which hung around my              facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
companion, and spent much of my time in endeav-                “But the Solar System!” I protested.
ouring to unravel it.
                                                                “What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted
    He was not studying medicine. He had him-
                                                            impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun.
self, in reply to a question, confirmed Stamford’s
                                                            If we went round the moon it would not make a
opinion upon that point. Neither did he appear to
                                                            pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
have pursued any course of reading which might
fit him for a degree in science or any other recog-              I was on the point of asking him what that
nized portal which would give him an entrance               work might be, but something in his manner
into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain            showed me that the question would be an unwel-
studies was remarkable, and within eccentric lim-           come one. I pondered over our short conversa-
its his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample              tion, however, and endeavoured to draw my de-
and minute that his observations have fairly as-            ductions from it. He said that he would acquire
tounded me. Surely no man would work so hard                no knowledge which did not bear upon his object.
or attain such precise information unless he had            Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed
some definite end in view. Desultory readers are             was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated
seldom remarkable for the exactness of their learn-         in my own mind all the various points upon which
ing. No man burdens his mind with small matters             he had shown me that he was exceptionally well-
unless he has some very good reason for doing so.           informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them
    His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowl-           down. I could not help smiling at the document
edge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and            when I had completed it. It ran in this way—
politics he appeared to know next to nothing.
Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired                 Sherlock Holmes—his limits.
in the naivest way who he might be and what he                1. Knowledge of Literature.—Nil.
had done. My surprise reached a climax, however,              2. Philosophy.—Nil.
when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of             3. Astronomy.—Nil.
the Copernican Theory and of the composition of               4. Politics.—Feeble.
the Solar System. That any civilized human being
                                                              5. Botany.—Variable. Well up in belladonna,
in this nineteenth century should not be aware that
                                                                 opium, and poisons generally. Knows noth-
the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to
                                                                 ing of practical gardening.
me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly
                                                              6. Geology.—Practical, but limited. Tells at a
realize it.
                                                                 glance different soils from each other. Af-
   “You appear to be astonished,” he said, smil-                 ter walks has shown me splashes upon his
ing at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do                 trousers, and told me by their colour and
know it I shall do my best to forget it.”                        consistence in what part of London he had
   “To forget it!”                                               received them.
  “You see,” he explained, “I consider that a                 7. Chemistry.—Profound.
man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic,          8. Anatomy.—Accurate, but unsystematic.

                                                       11
                                            A Study In Scarlet

  9. Sensational Literature.—Immense. He ap-                 any of these nondescript individuals put in an ap-
     pears to know every detail of every horror              pearance, Sherlock Holmes used to beg for the use
     perpetrated in the century.                             of the sitting-room, and I would retire to my bed-
 10. Plays the violin well.                                  room. He always apologized to me for putting me
 11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and             to this inconvenience. “I have to use this room as a
     swordsman.                                              place of business,” he said, “and these people are
 12. Has a good practical knowledge of British               my clients.” Again I had an opportunity of asking
     law.                                                    him a point blank question, and again my delicacy
                                                             prevented me from forcing another man to confide
    When I had got so far in my list I threw it into         in me. I imagined at the time that he had some
the fire in despair. “If I can only find what the              strong reason for not alluding to it, but he soon
fellow is driving at by reconciling all these accom-         dispelled the idea by coming round to the subject
plishments, and discovering a calling which needs            of his own accord.
them all,” I said to myself, “I may as well give up
                                                                 It was upon the 4th of March, as I have good
the attempt at once.”
                                                             reason to remember, that I rose somewhat earlier
    I see that I have alluded above to his pow-              than usual, and found that Sherlock Holmes had
ers upon the violin. These were very remark-                 not yet finished his breakfast. The landlady had
able, but as eccentric as all his other accomplish-          become so accustomed to my late habits that my
ments. That he could play pieces, and difficult               place had not been laid nor my coffee prepared.
pieces, I knew well, because at my request he                With the unreasonable petulance of mankind I
has played me some of Mendelssohn’s Lieder, and              rang the bell and gave a curt intimation that I was
other favourites. When left to himself, however, he          ready. Then I picked up a magazine from the ta-
would seldom produce any music or attempt any                ble and attempted to while away the time with it,
recognized air. Leaning back in his arm-chair of an          while my companion munched silently at his toast.
evening, he would close his eyes and scrape care-            One of the articles had a pencil mark at the head-
lessly at the fiddle which was thrown across his              ing, and I naturally began to run my eye through
knee. Sometimes the chords were sonorous and                 it.
melancholy. Occasionally they were fantastic and                  Its somewhat ambitious title was “The Book of
cheerful. Clearly they reflected the thoughts which           Life,” and it attempted to show how much an ob-
possessed him, but whether the music aided those             servant man might learn by an accurate and sys-
thoughts, or whether the playing was simply the              tematic examination of all that came in his way.
result of a whim or fancy was more than I could              It struck me as being a remarkable mixture of
determine. I might have rebelled against these ex-           shrewdness and of absurdity. The reasoning was
asperating solos had it not been that he usually             close and intense, but the deductions appeared to
terminated them by playing in quick succession a             me to be far-fetched and exaggerated. The writer
whole series of my favourite airs as a slight com-           claimed by a momentary expression, a twitch of a
pensation for the trial upon my patience.                    muscle or a glance of an eye, to fathom a man’s
                                                             inmost thoughts. Deceit, according to him, was an
    During the first week or so we had no callers,
                                                             impossibility in the case of one trained to observa-
and I had begun to think that my companion was
                                                             tion and analysis. His conclusions were as infalli-
as friendless a man as I was myself. Presently,
                                                             ble as so many propositions of Euclid. So startling
however, I found that he had many acquaintances,
                                                             would his results appear to the uninitiated that un-
and those in the most different classes of society.
                                                             til they learned the processes by which he had ar-
There was one little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fel-
                                                             rived at them they might well consider him as a
low who was introduced to me as Mr. Lestrade,
                                                             necromancer.
and who came three or four times in a single
week. One morning a young girl called, fashion-                  “From a drop of water,” said the writer, “a lo-
ably dressed, and stayed for half an hour or more.           gician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or
The same afternoon brought a grey-headed, seedy              a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or
visitor, looking like a Jew pedlar, who appeared             the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature
to me to be much excited, and who was closely                of which is known whenever we are shown a sin-
followed by a slipshod elderly woman. On an-                 gle link of it. Like all other arts, the Science of
other occasion an old white-haired gentleman had             Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be
an interview with my companion; and on another               acquired by long and patient study nor is life long
a railway porter in his velveteen uniform. When              enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest

                                                        12
                                             A Study In Scarlet

possible perfection in it. Before turning to those            you can’t unravel the thousand and first. Lestrade
moral and mental aspects of the matter which                  is a well-known detective. He got himself into a
present the greatest difficulties, let the enquirer be-        fog recently over a forgery case, and that was what
gin by mastering more elementary problems. Let                brought him here.”
him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance               “And these other people?”
to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade
or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such                “They are mostly sent on by private inquiry
an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of            agencies. They are all people who are in trouble
observation, and teaches one where to look and                about something, and want a little enlightening. I
what to look for. By a man’s finger nails, by his              listen to their story, they listen to my comments,
coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by            and then I pocket my fee.”
the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his               “But do you mean to say,” I said, “that with-
expression, by his shirt cuffs—by each of these               out leaving your room you can unravel some knot
things a man’s calling is plainly revealed. That              which other men can make nothing of, although
all united should fail to enlighten the competent             they have seen every detail for themselves?”
enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.”                    “Quite so. I have a kind of intuition that way.
   “What ineffable twaddle!” I cried, slapping the            Now and again a case turns up which is a little
magazine down on the table, “I never read such                more complex. Then I have to bustle about and see
rubbish in my life.”                                          things with my own eyes. You see I have a lot of
   “What is it?” asked Sherlock Holmes.                       special knowledge which I apply to the problem,
                                                              and which facilitates matters wonderfully. Those
    “Why, this article,” I said, pointing at it with          rules of deduction laid down in that article which
my egg spoon as I sat down to my breakfast. “I                aroused your scorn, are invaluable to me in prac-
see that you have read it since you have marked it.           tical work. Observation with me is second na-
I don’t deny that it is smartly written. It irritates         ture. You appeared to be surprised when I told
me though. It is evidently the theory of some arm-            you, on our first meeting, that you had come from
chair lounger who evolves all these neat little para-         Afghanistan.”
doxes in the seclusion of his own study. It is not
practical. I should like to see him clapped down                 “You were told, no doubt.”
in a third class carriage on the Underground, and                 “Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from
asked to give the trades of all his fellow-travellers.        Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts
I would lay a thousand to one against him.”                   ran so swiftly through my mind, that I arrived at
   “You would lose your money,” Sherlock                      the conclusion without being conscious of interme-
Holmes remarked calmly. “As for the article I                 diate steps. There were such steps, however. The
wrote it myself.”                                             train of reasoning ran, ‘Here is a gentleman of a
                                                              medical type, but with the air of a military man.
   “You!”                                                     Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come
   “Yes, I have a turn both for observation and for           from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is
deduction. The theories which I have expressed                not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are
there, and which appear to you to be so chimerical            fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as
are really extremely practical—so practical that I            his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been
depend upon them for my bread and cheese.”                    injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural man-
   “And how?” I asked involuntarily.                          ner. Where in the tropics could an English army
                                                              doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm
    “Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose                wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.’ The whole
I am the only one in the world. I’m a consult-                train of thought did not occupy a second. I then re-
ing detective, if you can understand what that is.            marked that you came from Afghanistan, and you
Here in London we have lots of Government de-                 were astonished.”
tectives and lots of private ones. When these fel-
lows are at fault they come to me, and I manage                   “It is simple enough as you explain it,” I said,
to put them on the right scent. They lay all the ev-          smiling. “You remind me of Edgar Allen Poe’s
idence before me, and I am generally able, by the             Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did
help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to              exist outside of stories.”
set them straight. There is a strong family resem-                Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. “No
blance about misdeeds, and if you have all the de-            doubt you think that you are complimenting me
tails of a thousand at your finger ends, it is odd if          in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now,

                                                         13
                                           A Study In Scarlet

in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow.               I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of
That trick of his of breaking in on his friends’            conversation. I thought it best to change the topic.
thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of             “I wonder what that fellow is looking for?” I
an hour’s silence is really very showy and superfi-          asked, pointing to a stalwart, plainly-dressed in-
cial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but          dividual who was walking slowly down the other
he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe                 side of the street, looking anxiously at the num-
appeared to imagine.”                                       bers. He had a large blue envelope in his hand,
    “Have you read Gaboriau’s works?” I asked.              and was evidently the bearer of a message.
“Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?”
                                                               “You mean the retired sergeant of Marines,”
    Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. “Lecoq            said Sherlock Holmes.
was a miserable bungler,” he said, in an angry
voice; “he had only one thing to recommend him,                “Brag and bounce!” thought I to myself. “He
and that was his energy. That book made me pos-             knows that I cannot verify his guess.”
itively ill. The question was how to identify an               The thought had hardly passed through my
unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-           mind when the man whom we were watching
four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might           caught sight of the number on our door, and ran
be made a text-book for detectives to teach them            rapidly across the roadway. We heard a loud
what to avoid.”                                             knock, a deep voice below, and heavy steps as-
    I felt rather indignant at having two characters        cending the stair.
whom I had admired treated in this cavalier style.              “For Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” he said, stepping
I walked over to the window, and stood looking              into the room and handing my friend the letter.
out into the busy street. “This fellow may be very
clever,” I said to myself, “but he is certainly very           Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit
conceited.”                                                 out of him. He little thought of this when he made
                                                            that random shot. “May I ask, my lad,” I said, in
    “There are no crimes and no criminals in these
                                                            the blandest voice, “what your trade may be?”
days,” he said, querulously. “What is the use of
having brains in our profession? I know well that              “Commissionaire, sir,” he said, gruffly. “Uni-
I have it in me to make my name famous. No                  form away for repairs.”
man lives or has ever lived who has brought the                “And you were?” I asked, with a slightly mali-
same amount of study and of natural talent to               cious glance at my companion.
the detection of crime which I have done. And
what is the result? There is no crime to detect, or,             “A sergeant, sir, Royal Marine Light Infantry,
at most, some bungling villany with a motive so             sir. No answer? Right, sir.”
transparent that even a Scotland Yard official can               He clicked his heels together, raised his hand
see through it.”                                            in a salute, and was gone.




                                           CHAPTER III.
                                 The Lauriston Garden Mystery

    I confess that I was considerably startled by           past my comprehension. When I looked at him
this fresh proof of the practical nature of my              he had finished reading the note, and his eyes had
companion’s theories. My respect for his powers             assumed the vacant, lack-lustre expression which
of analysis increased wondrously. There still re-           showed mental abstraction.
mained some lurking suspicion in my mind, how-
ever, that the whole thing was a pre-arranged                  “How in the world did you deduce that?” I
episode, intended to dazzle me, though what                 asked.
earthly object he could have in taking me in was
                                                               “Deduce what?” said he, petulantly.

                                                       14
                                             A Study In Scarlet

  “Why, that he was a retired sergeant of                          of blood in the room, but there is no
Marines.”                                                          wound upon his person. We are at a
    “I have no time for trifles,” he answered,                      loss as to how he came into the empty
brusquely; then with a smile, “Excuse my rude-                     house; indeed, the whole affair is a
ness. You broke the thread of my thoughts; but                     puzzler. If you can come round to the
perhaps it is as well. So you actually were not able               house any time before twelve, you will
to see that that man was a sergeant of Marines?”                   find me there. I have left everything
                                                                   in statu quo until I hear from you. If
   “No, indeed.”                                                   you are unable to come I shall give you
    “It was easier to know it than to explain why                  fuller details, and would esteem it a
I knew it. If you were asked to prove that two                     great kindness if you would favour me
and two made four, you might find some difficulty,                   with your opinion.
and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across                                       “Yours faithfully,
the street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed                                     “Tobias Gregson.”
on the back of the fellow’s hand. That smacked
of the sea. He had a military carriage, however,                  “Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland
and regulation side whiskers. There we have the               Yarders,” my friend remarked; “he and Lestrade
marine. He was a man with some amount of self-                are the pick of a bad lot. They are both quick and
importance and a certain air of command. You                  energetic, but conventional—shockingly so. They
must have observed the way in which he held his               have their knives into one another, too. They are
head and swung his cane. A steady, respectable,               as jealous as a pair of professional beauties. There
middle-aged man, too, on the face of him—all                  will be some fun over this case if they are both put
facts which led me to believe that he had been a              upon the scent.”
sergeant.”                                                        I was amazed at the calm way in which he rip-
                                                              pled on. “Surely there is not a moment to be lost,”
   “Wonderful!” I ejaculated.
                                                              I cried, “shall I go and order you a cab?”
   “Commonplace,” said Holmes, though I                           “I’m not sure about whether I shall go. I am the
thought from his expression that he was pleased               most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe
at my evident surprise and admiration. “I said just           leather—that is, when the fit is on me, for I can be
now that there were no criminals. It appears that             spry enough at times.”
I am wrong—look at this!” He threw me over the
                                                                  “Why, it is just such a chance as you have been
note which the commissionaire had brought.
                                                              longing for.”
    “Why,” I cried, as I cast my eye over it, “this is            “My dear fellow, what does it matter to me.
terrible!”                                                    Supposing I unravel the whole matter, you may be
   “It does seem to be a little out of the common,”           sure that Gregson, Lestrade, and Co. will pocket
he remarked, calmly. “Would you mind reading it               all the credit. That comes of being an unofficial
to me aloud?”                                                 personage.”
   This is the letter which I read to him—                        “But he begs you to help him.”
                                                                  “Yes. He knows that I am his superior, and ac-
      “My dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes:                           knowledges it to me; but he would cut his tongue
        “There has been a bad business dur-                   out before he would own it to any third person.
      ing the night at 3, Lauriston Gardens,                  However, we may as well go and have a look. I
      off the Brixton Road. Our man on the                    shall work it out on my own hook. I may have a
      beat saw a light there about two in                     laugh at them if I have nothing else. Come on!”
      the morning, and as the house was an                        He hustled on his overcoat, and bustled about
      empty one, suspected that something                     in a way that showed that an energetic fit had su-
      was amiss. He found the door open,                      perseded the apathetic one.
      and in the front room, which is bare
                                                                  “Get your hat,” he said.
      of furniture, discovered the body of a
      gentleman, well dressed, and having                         “You wish me to come?”
      cards in his pocket bearing the name                        “Yes, if you have nothing better to do.” A
      of ‘Enoch J. Drebber, Cleveland, Ohio,                  minute later we were both in a hansom, driving
      U.S.A.’ There had been no robbery, nor                  furiously for the Brixton Road.
      is there any evidence as to how the                         It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-
      man met his death. There are marks                      coloured veil hung over the house-tops, looking

                                                         15
                                            A Study In Scarlet

like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets be-           and once I saw him smile, and heard him utter
neath. My companion was in the best of spirits,              an exclamation of satisfaction. There were many
and prattled away about Cremona fiddles, and the              marks of footsteps upon the wet clayey soil, but
difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati.              since the police had been coming and going over
As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather            it, I was unable to see how my companion could
and the melancholy business upon which we were               hope to learn anything from it. Still I had had such
engaged, depressed my spirits.                               extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his per-
   “You don’t seem to give much thought to                   ceptive faculties, that I had no doubt that he could
the matter in hand,” I said at last, interrupting            see a great deal which was hidden from me.
Holmes’ musical disquisition.                                     At the door of the house we were met by a
    “No data yet,” he answered. “It is a capital mis-        tall, white-faced, flaxen-haired man, with a note-
take to theorize before you have all the evidence.           book in his hand, who rushed forward and wrung
It biases the judgment.”                                     my companion’s hand with effusion. “It is indeed
                                                             kind of you to come,” he said, “I have had every-
   “You will have your data soon,” I remarked,               thing left untouched.”
pointing with my finger; “this is the Brixton Road,
                                                                  “Except that!” my friend answered, pointing at
and that is the house, if I am not very much mis-
                                                             the pathway. “If a herd of buffaloes had passed
taken.”
                                                             along there could not be a greater mess. No doubt,
   “So it is. Stop, driver, stop!” We were still a           however, you had drawn your own conclusions,
hundred yards or so from it, but he insisted upon            Gregson, before you permitted this.”
our alighting, and we finished our journey upon                    “I have had so much to do inside the house,”
foot.                                                        the detective said evasively. “My colleague, Mr.
    Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-                 Lestrade, is here. I had relied upon him to look
omened and minatory look. It was one of four                 after this.”
which stood back some little way from the street,                 Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows
two being occupied and two empty. The latter                 sardonically. “With two such men as yourself and
looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy             Lestrade upon the ground, there will not be much
windows, which were blank and dreary, save that              for a third party to find out,” he said.
here and there a “To Let” card had developed like                 Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satisfied
a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small gar-              way. “I think we have done all that can be done,”
den sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of              he answered; “it’s a queer case though, and I knew
sickly plants separated each of these houses from            your taste for such things.”
the street, and was traversed by a narrow path-
                                                                  “You did not come here in a cab?” asked Sher-
way, yellowish in colour, and consisting apparently
                                                             lock Holmes.
of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole
place was very sloppy from the rain which had                     “No, sir.”
fallen through the night. The garden was bounded                  “Nor Lestrade?”
by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood                  “No, sir.”
rails upon the top, and against this wall was lean-               “Then let us go and look at the room.” With
ing a stalwart police constable, surrounded by a             which inconsequent remark he strode on into the
small knot of loafers, who craned their necks and            house, followed by Gregson, whose features ex-
strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching             pressed his astonishment.
some glimpse of the proceedings within.                           A short passage, bare planked and dusty, led
    I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would                to the kitchen and offices. Two doors opened out
at once have hurried into the house and plunged              of it to the left and to the right. One of these had
into a study of the mystery. Nothing appeared to             obviously been closed for many weeks. The other
be further from his intention. With an air of non-           belonged to the dining-room, which was the apart-
chalance which, under the circumstances, seemed              ment in which the mysterious affair had occurred.
to me to border upon affectation, he lounged up              Holmes walked in, and I followed him with that
and down the pavement, and gazed vacantly at the             subdued feeling at my heart which the presence of
ground, the sky, the opposite houses and the line            death inspires.
of railings. Having finished his scrutiny, he pro-                 It was a large square room, looking all the
ceeded slowly down the path, or rather down the              larger from the absence of all furniture. A vul-
fringe of grass which flanked the path, keeping his           gar flaring paper adorned the walls, but it was
eyes riveted upon the ground. Twice he stopped,              blotched in places with mildew, and here and there

                                                        16
                                           A Study In Scarlet

great strips had become detached and hung down,            in Utrecht, in the year ’34. Do you remember the
exposing the yellow plaster beneath. Opposite the          case, Gregson?”
door was a showy fireplace, surmounted by a man-               “No, sir.”
telpiece of imitation white marble. On one corner
                                                              “Read it up—you really should. There is noth-
of this was stuck the stump of a red wax candle.
                                                           ing new under the sun. It has all been done be-
The solitary window was so dirty that the light
                                                           fore.”
was hazy and uncertain, giving a dull grey tinge
to everything, which was intensified by the thick               As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying
layer of dust which coated the whole apartment.            here, there, and everywhere, feeling, pressing, un-
    All these details I observed afterwards. At            buttoning, examining, while his eyes wore the
present my attention was centred upon the sin-             same far-away expression which I have already
gle grim motionless figure which lay stretched              remarked upon. So swiftly was the examination
upon the boards, with vacant sightless eyes star-          made, that one would hardly have guessed the
ing up at the discoloured ceiling. It was that of a        minuteness with which it was conducted. Finally,
man about forty-three or forty-four years of age,          he sniffed the dead man’s lips, and then glanced
middle-sized, broad shouldered, with crisp curl-           at the soles of his patent leather boots.
ing black hair, and a short stubbly beard. He                 “He has not been moved at all?” he asked.
was dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and               “No more than was necessary for the purposes
waistcoat, with light-coloured trousers, and im-           of our examination.”
maculate collar and cuffs. A top hat, well brushed
                                                              “You can take him to the mortuary now,” he
and trim, was placed upon the floor beside him.
                                                           said. “There is nothing more to be learned.”
His hands were clenched and his arms thrown
abroad, while his lower limbs were interlocked                 Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand.
as though his death struggle had been a grievous           At his call they entered the room, and the stranger
one. On his rigid face there stood an expression           was lifted and carried out. As they raised him,
of horror, and as it seemed to me, of hatred, such         a ring tinkled down and rolled across the floor.
as I have never seen upon human features. This             Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it with mys-
malignant and terrible contortion, combined with           tified eyes.
the low forehead, blunt nose, and prognathous                “There’s been a woman here,” he cried. “It’s a
jaw gave the dead man a singularly simious and             woman’s wedding-ring.”
ape-like appearance, which was increased by his                He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of
writhing, unnatural posture. I have seen death in          his hand. We all gathered round him and gazed
many forms, but never has it appeared to me in             at it. There could be no doubt that that circlet of
a more fearsome aspect than in that dark grimy             plain gold had once adorned the finger of a bride.
apartment, which looked out upon one of the main
                                                              “This complicates matters,” said Gregson.
arteries of suburban London.
                                                           “Heaven knows, they were complicated enough
    Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was            before.”
standing by the doorway, and greeted my compan-
ion and myself.                                                “You’re sure it doesn’t simplify them?” ob-
                                                           served Holmes. “There’s nothing to be learned by
    “This case will make a stir, sir,” he remarked.        staring at it. What did you find in his pockets?”
“It beats anything I have seen, and I am no
chicken.”                                                      “We have it all here,” said Gregson, pointing
                                                           to a litter of objects upon one of the bottom steps
    “There is no clue?” said Gregson.
                                                           of the stairs. “A gold watch, No. 97163, by Bar-
    “None at all,” chimed in Lestrade.                     raud, of London. Gold Albert chain, very heavy
    Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and,              and solid. Gold ring, with masonic device. Gold
kneeling down, examined it intently. “You are sure         pin—bull-dog’s head, with rubies as eyes. Russian
that there is no wound?” he asked, pointing to nu-         leather card-case, with cards of Enoch J. Drebber
merous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all           of Cleveland, corresponding with the E. J. D. upon
round.                                                     the linen. No purse, but loose money to the extent
    “Positive!” cried both detectives.                     of seven pounds thirteen. Pocket edition of Boccac-
    “Then, of course, this blood belongs to a sec-         cio’s ‘Decameron,’ with name of Joseph Stanger-
ond individual—presumably the murderer, if mur-            son upon the fly-leaf. Two letters—one addressed
der has been committed. It reminds me of the cir-          to E. J. Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson.”
cumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen,              “At what address?”

                                                      17
                                            A Study In Scarlet

    “American Exchange, Strand—to be left till               “What do you think of that?” cried the detective,
called for.    They are both from the Guion                  with the air of a showman exhibiting his show.
Steamship Company, and refer to the sailing of               “This was overlooked because it was in the darkest
their boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this un-        corner of the room, and no one thought of looking
fortunate man was about to return to New York.”              there. The murderer has written it with his or her
   “Have you made any inquiries as to this man,              own blood. See this smear where it has trickled
Stangerson?”                                                 down the wall! That disposes of the idea of sui-
                                                             cide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write
   “I did it at once, sir,” said Gregson. “I have had
                                                             it on? I will tell you. See that candle on the man-
advertisements sent to all the newspapers, and one
                                                             telpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was lit this
of my men has gone to the American Exchange,
                                                             corner would be the brightest instead of the dark-
but he has not returned yet.”
                                                             est portion of the wall.”
   “Have you sent to Cleveland?”
   “We telegraphed this morning.”                               “And what does it mean now that you have
                                                             found it?” asked Gregson in a depreciatory voice.
   “How did you word your inquiries?”
   “We simply detailed the circumstances, and                    “Mean? Why, it means that the writer was
said that we should be glad of any information               going to put the female name Rachel, but was
which could help us.”                                        disturbed before he or she had time to finish.
                                                             You mark my words, when this case comes to
  “You did not ask for particulars on any point
                                                             be cleared up you will find that a woman named
which appeared to you to be crucial?”
                                                             Rachel has something to do with it. It’s all very
   “I asked about Stangerson.”                               well for you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. You
   “Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on                may be very smart and clever, but the old hound
which this whole case appears to hinge? Will you             is the best, when all is said and done.”
not telegraph again?”
                                                                 “I really beg your pardon!” said my compan-
   “I have said all I have to say,” said Gregson, in         ion, who had ruffled the little man’s temper by
an offended voice.                                           bursting into an explosion of laughter. “You cer-
   Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and ap-              tainly have the credit of being the first of us to
peared to be about to make some remark, when                 find this out, and, as you say, it bears every mark
Lestrade, who had been in the front room while               of having been written by the other participant in
we were holding this conversation in the hall, reap-         last night’s mystery. I have not had time to exam-
peared upon the scene, rubbing his hands in a                ine this room yet, but with your permission I shall
pompous and self-satisfied manner.                            do so now.”
   “Mr. Gregson,” he said, “I have just made a dis-
                                                                 As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and
covery of the highest importance, and one which
                                                             a large round magnifying glass from his pocket.
would have been overlooked had I not made a
                                                             With these two implements he trotted noiselessly
careful examination of the walls.”
                                                             about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally
    The little man’s eyes sparkled as he spoke, and          kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So
he was evidently in a state of suppressed exulta-            engrossed was he with his occupation that he ap-
tion at having scored a point against his colleague.         peared to have forgotten our presence, for he chat-
   “Come here,” he said, bustling back into the              tered away to himself under his breath the whole
room, the atmosphere of which felt clearer since             time, keeping up a running fire of exclamations,
the removal of its ghastly inmate. “Now, stand               groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of en-
there!”                                                      couragement and of hope. As I watched him I
   He struck a match on his boot and held it up              was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well-
against the wall.                                            trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and for-
                                                             wards through the covert, whining in its eagerness,
   “Look at that!” he said, triumphantly.
                                                             until it comes across the lost scent. For twenty
    I have remarked that the paper had fallen away           minutes or more he continued his researches, mea-
in parts. In this particular corner of the room a            suring with the most exact care the distance be-
large piece had peeled off, leaving a yellow square          tween marks which were entirely invisible to me,
of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there           and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in
was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word—             an equally incomprehensible manner. In one place
                     RACHE.                                  he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey

                                                        18
                                            A Study In Scarlet

dust from the floor, and packed it away in an enve-              Lestrade glanced at his note-book.       “John
lope. Finally, he examined with his glass the word           Rance,” he said. “He is off duty now. You will find
upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the        him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park Gate.”
most minute exactness. This done, he appeared to                Holmes took a note of the address.
be satisfied, for he replaced his tape and his glass
                                                                 “Come along, Doctor,” he said; “we shall go
in his pocket.
                                                             and look him up. I’ll tell you one thing which may
   “They say that genius is an infinite capacity for          help you in the case,” he continued, turning to the
taking pains,” he remarked with a smile. “It’s a             two detectives. “There has been murder done, and
very bad definition, but it does apply to detective           the murderer was a man. He was more than six
work.”                                                       feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet
                                                             for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and
    Gregson and Lestrade had watched the                     smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with
manœuvres of their amateur companion with con-               his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn
siderable curiosity and some contempt. They evi-             by a horse with three old shoes and one new one
dently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had be-        on his off fore leg. In all probability the murderer
gun to realize, that Sherlock Holmes’ smallest ac-           had a florid face, and the finger-nails of his right
tions were all directed towards some definite and             hand were remarkably long. These are only a few
practical end.                                               indications, but they may assist you.”
   “What do you think of it, sir?” they both asked.             Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other
                                                             with an incredulous smile.
    “It would be robbing you of the credit of the
                                                                “If this man was murdered, how was it done?”
case if I was to presume to help you,” remarked
                                                             asked the former.
my friend. “You are doing so well now that it
would be a pity for anyone to interfere.” There was              “Poison,” said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and
a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. “If you         strode off. “One other thing, Lestrade,” he added,
will let me know how your investigations go,” he             turning round at the door: “ ‘Rache,’ is the Ger-
continued, “I shall be happy to give you any help I          man for ‘revenge;’ so don’t lose your time looking
can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the           for Miss Rachel.”
constable who found the body. Can you give me                   With which Parthian shot he walked away,
his name and address?”                                       leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.




                                            CHAPTER IV.
                                  What John Rance Had To Tell

    It was one o’clock when we left No. 3, Lau-                 “There’s no room for a mistake,” he answered.
riston Gardens. Sherlock Holmes led me to the                “The very first thing which I observed on arriving
nearest telegraph office, whence he dispatched a              there was that a cab had made two ruts with its
long telegram. He then hailed a cab, and ordered             wheels close to the curb. Now, up to last night, we
the driver to take us to the address given us by             have had no rain for a week, so that those wheels
Lestrade.                                                    which left such a deep impression must have been
    “There is nothing like first hand evidence,” he           there during the night. There were the marks of
remarked; “as a matter of fact, my mind is entirely          the horse’s hoofs, too, the outline of one of which
made up upon the case, but still we may as well              was far more clearly cut than that of the other
learn all that is to be learned.”                            three, showing that that was a new shoe. Since
                                                             the cab was there after the rain began, and was
   “You amaze me, Holmes,” said I. “Surely you               not there at any time during the morning—I have
are not as sure as you pretend to be of all those            Gregson’s word for that—it follows that it must
particulars which you gave.”

                                                        19
                                           A Study In Scarlet

have been there during the night, and, therefore,           from? What was the object of the murderer, since
that it brought those two individuals to the house.”        robbery had no part in it? How came the woman’s
   “That seems simple enough,” said I; “but how             ring there? Above all, why should the second
about the other man’s height?”                              man write up the German word RACHE before
                                                            decamping? I confess that I cannot see any possi-
    “Why, the height of a man, in nine cases out
                                                            ble way of reconciling all these facts.”
of ten, can be told from the length of his stride.
It is a simple calculation enough, though there is             My companion smiled approvingly.
no use my boring you with figures. I had this fel-               “You sum up the difficulties of the situation
low’s stride both on the clay outside and on the            succinctly and well,” he said. “There is much that
dust within. Then I had a way of checking my cal-           is still obscure, though I have quite made up my
culation. When a man writes on a wall, his instinct         mind on the main facts. As to poor Lestrade’s dis-
leads him to write about the level of his own eyes.         covery it was simply a blind intended to put the
Now that writing was just over six feet from the            police upon a wrong track, by suggesting Social-
ground. It was child’s play.”                               ism and secret societies. It was not done by a Ger-
   “And his age?” I asked.                                  man. The A, if you noticed, was printed somewhat
                                                            after the German fashion. Now, a real German in-
    “Well, if a man can stride four and a-half feet         variably prints in the Latin character, so that we
without the smallest effort, he can’t be quite in           may safely say that this was not written by one, but
the sere and yellow. That was the breadth of a              by a clumsy imitator who overdid his part. It was
puddle on the garden walk which he had evi-                 simply a ruse to divert inquiry into a wrong chan-
dently walked across. Patent-leather boots had              nel. I’m not going to tell you much more of the
gone round, and Square-toes had hopped over.                case, Doctor. You know a conjuror gets no credit
There is no mystery about it at all. I am simply            when once he has explained his trick, and if I show
applying to ordinary life a few of those precepts           you too much of my method of working, you will
of observation and deduction which I advocated              come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary
in that article. Is there anything else that puzzles        individual after all.”
you?”
                                                               “I shall never do that,” I answered; “you have
   “The finger nails and the Trichinopoly,” I sug-           brought detection as near an exact science as it ever
gested.                                                     will be brought in this world.”
    “The writing on the wall was done with a                    My companion flushed up with pleasure at my
man’s forefinger dipped in blood. My glass al-               words, and the earnest way in which I uttered
lowed me to observe that the plaster was slightly           them. I had already observed that he was as sen-
scratched in doing it, which would not have been            sitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl
the case if the man’s nail had been trimmed. I              could be of her beauty.
gathered up some scattered ash from the floor. It
was dark in colour and flakey—such an ash as is                   “I’ll tell you one other thing,” he said. “Patent-
only made by a Trichinopoly. I have made a spe-             leathers and Square-toes came in the same cab,
cial study of cigar ashes—in fact, I have written a         and they walked down the pathway together as
monograph upon the subject. I flatter myself that            friendly as possible—arm-in-arm, in all probabil-
I can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known          ity. When they got inside they walked up and
brand, either of cigar or of tobacco. It is just in         down the room—or rather, Patent-leathers stood
such details that the skilled detective differs from        still while Square-toes walked up and down. I
the Gregson and Lestrade type.”                             could read all that in the dust; and I could read
                                                            that as he walked he grew more and more ex-
   “And the florid face?” I asked.                           cited. That is shown by the increased length of his
   “Ah, that was a more daring shot, though I               strides. He was talking all the while, and working
have no doubt that I was right. You must not ask            himself up, no doubt, into a fury. Then the tragedy
me that at the present state of the affair.”                occurred. I’ve told you all I know myself now, for
    I passed my hand over my brow. “My head                 the rest is mere surmise and conjecture. We have
is in a whirl,” I remarked; “the more one thinks            a good working basis, however, on which to start.
of it the more mysterious it grows. How came                We must hurry up, for I want to go to Halle’s con-
these two men—if there were two men—into an                 cert to hear Norman Neruda this afternoon.”
empty house? What has become of the cabman                     This conversation had occurred while our cab
who drove them? How could one man compel an-                had been threading its way through a long suc-
other to take poison? Where did the blood come              cession of dingy streets and dreary by-ways. In

                                                       20
                                             A Study In Scarlet

the dingiest and dreariest of them our driver sud-                 “You stopped, and then walked back to the gar-
denly came to a stand. “That’s Audley Court in                den gate,” my companion interrupted. “What did
there,” he said, pointing to a narrow slit in the line        you do that for?”
of dead-coloured brick. “You’ll find me here when                   Rance gave a violent jump, and stared at Sher-
you come back.”                                               lock Holmes with the utmost amazement upon his
    Audley Court was not an attractive locality.              features.
The narrow passage led us into a quadrangle                        “Why, that’s true, sir,” he said; “though how
paved with flags and lined by sordid dwellings.                you come to know it, Heaven only knows. Ye see,
We picked our way among groups of dirty chil-                 when I got up to the door it was so still and so
dren, and through lines of discoloured linen, until           lonesome, that I thought I’d be none the worse for
we came to Number 46, the door of which was                   some one with me. I ain’t afeared of anything on
decorated with a small slip of brass on which the             this side o’ the grave; but I thought that maybe it
name Rance was engraved. On enquiry we found                  was him that died o’ the typhoid inspecting the
that the constable was in bed, and we were shown              drains what killed him. The thought gave me a
into a little front parlour to await his coming.              kind o’ turn, and I walked back to the gate to see
    He appeared presently, looking a little irritable         if I could see Murcher’s lantern, but there wasn’t
at being disturbed in his slumbers. “I made my                no sign of him nor of anyone else.”
report at the office,” he said.                                     “There was no one in the street?”
    Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket                   “Not a livin’ soul, sir, nor as much as a dog.
and played with it pensively. “We thought that we             Then I pulled myself together and went back and
should like to hear it all from your own lips,” he            pushed the door open. All was quiet inside,
said.                                                         so I went into the room where the light was a-
    “I shall be most happy to tell you anything I             burnin’. There was a candle flickerin’ on the man-
can,” the constable answered with his eyes upon               telpiece—a red wax one—and by its light I saw—”
the little golden disk.                                            “Yes, I know all that you saw. You walked
    “Just let us hear it all in your own way as it            round the room several times, and you knelt down
occurred.”                                                    by the body, and then you walked through and
    Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa, and knit-           tried the kitchen door, and then—”
ted his brows as though determined not to omit                     John Rance sprang to his feet with a frightened
anything in his narrative.                                    face and suspicion in his eyes. “Where was you
    “I’ll tell it ye from the beginning,” he said.            hid to see all that?” he cried. “It seems to me that
“My time is from ten at night to six in the morn-             you knows a deal more than you should.”
ing. At eleven there was a fight at the ‘White                      Holmes laughed and threw his card across the
Hart’; but bar that all was quiet enough on the               table to the constable. “Don’t get arresting me for
beat. At one o’clock it began to rain, and I met              the murder,” he said. “I am one of the hounds and
Harry Murcher—him who has the Holland Grove                   not the wolf; Mr. Gregson or Mr. Lestrade will an-
beat—and we stood together at the corner of Hen-              swer for that. Go on, though. What did you do
rietta Street a-talkin’. Presently—maybe about two            next?”
or a little after—I thought I would take a look                    Rance resumed his seat, without however los-
round and see that all was right down the Brix-               ing his mystified expression. “I went back to
ton Road. It was precious dirty and lonely. Not a             the gate and sounded my whistle. That brought
soul did I meet all the way down, though a cab or             Murcher and two more to the spot.”
two went past me. I was a strollin’ down, thinkin’                 “Was the street empty then?”
between ourselves how uncommon handy a four
                                                                   “Well, it was, as far as anybody that could be
of gin hot would be, when suddenly the glint of
                                                              of any good goes.”
a light caught my eye in the window of that same
house. Now, I knew that them two houses in Lau-                    “What do you mean?”
riston Gardens was empty on account of him that                    The constable’s features broadened into a grin.
owns them who won’t have the drains seed to,                  “I’ve seen many a drunk chap in my time,” he said,
though the very last tenant what lived in one of              “but never anyone so cryin’ drunk as that cove. He
them died o’ typhoid fever. I was knocked all in a            was at the gate when I came out, a-leanin’ up ag’in
heap therefore at seeing a light in the window, and           the railings, and a-singin’ at the pitch o’ his lungs
I suspected as something was wrong. When I got                about Columbine’s New-fangled Banner, or some
to the door—”                                                 such stuff. He couldn’t stand, far less help.”

                                                         21
                                            A Study In Scarlet

  “What sort of a man was he?” asked Sherlock                hands is the man who holds the clue of this mys-
Holmes.                                                      tery, and whom we are seeking. There is no use of
    John Rance appeared to be somewhat irritated             arguing about it now; I tell you that it is so. Come
at this digression. “He was an uncommon drunk                along, Doctor.”
sort o’ man,” he said. “He’d ha’ found hisself in                We started off for the cab together, leaving our
the station if we hadn’t been so took up.”                   informant incredulous, but obviously uncomfort-
                                                             able.
  “His face—his dress—didn’t you notice them?”
Holmes broke in impatiently.                                    “The blundering fool,” Holmes said, bitterly, as
                                                             we drove back to our lodgings. “Just to think of his
    “I should think I did notice them, seeing that
                                                             having such an incomparable bit of good luck, and
I had to prop him up—me and Murcher between
                                                             not taking advantage of it.”
us. He was a long chap, with a red face, the lower
part muffled round—”                                             “I am rather in the dark still. It is true that the
                                                             description of this man tallies with your idea of
    “That will do,” cried Holmes. “What became               the second party in this mystery. But why should
of him?”                                                     he come back to the house after leaving it? That is
   “We’d enough to do without lookin’ after him,”            not the way of criminals.”
the policeman said, in an aggrieved voice. “I’ll wa-             “The ring, man, the ring: that was what he
ger he found his way home all right.”                        came back for. If we have no other way of catching
   “How was he dressed?”                                     him, we can always bait our line with the ring. I
                                                             shall have him, Doctor—I’ll lay you two to one that
   “A brown overcoat.”
                                                             I have him. I must thank you for it all. I might
   “Had he a whip in his hand?”                              not have gone but for you, and so have missed
   “A whip—no.”                                              the finest study I ever came across: a study in
                                                             scarlet, eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jar-
   “He must have left it behind,” muttered my
                                                             gon. There’s the scarlet thread of murder running
companion. “You didn’t happen to see or hear a
                                                             through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is
cab after that?”
                                                             to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch
   “No.”                                                     of it. And now for lunch, and then for Norman
    “There’s a half-sovereign for you,” my compan-           Neruda. Her attack and her bowing are splendid.
ion said, standing up and taking his hat. “I am              What’s that little thing of Chopin’s she plays so
afraid, Rance, that you will never rise in the force.        magnificently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay.”
That head of yours should be for use as well as                 Leaning back in the cab, this amateur blood-
ornament. You might have gained your sergeant’s              hound carolled away like a lark while I meditated
stripes last night. The man whom you held in your            upon the many-sidedness of the human mind.




                                             CHAPTER V.
                              Our Advertisement Brings A Visitor

    Our morning’s exertions had been too much                my eyes I saw before me the distorted baboon-
for my weak health, and I was tired out in the af-           like countenance of the murdered man. So sinister
ternoon. After Holmes’ departure for the concert,            was the impression which that face had produced
I lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to get              upon me that I found it difficult to feel anything
a couple of hours’ sleep. It was a useless attempt.          but gratitude for him who had removed its owner
My mind had been too much excited by all that                from the world. If ever human features bespoke
had occurred, and the strangest fancies and sur-             vice of the most malignant type, they were cer-
mises crowded into it. Every time that I closed              tainly those of Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland. Still


                                                        22
                                              A Study In Scarlet

I recognized that justice must be done, and that                   “Look at this advertisement,” he answered. “I
the depravity of the victim was no condonement                 had one sent to every paper this morning immedi-
in the eyes of the law.                                        ately after the affair.”
    The more I thought of it the more extraordinary                He threw the paper across to me and I glanced
did my companion’s hypothesis, that the man had                at the place indicated. It was the first announce-
been poisoned, appear. I remembered how he had                 ment in the “Found” column. “In Brixton Road,
sniffed his lips, and had no doubt that he had de-             this morning,” it ran, “a plain gold wedding ring,
tected something which had given rise to the idea.             found in the roadway between the ‘White Hart’
Then, again, if not poison, what had caused the                Tavern and Holland Grove. Apply Dr. Watson,
man’s death, since there was neither wound nor                 221b, Baker Street, between eight and nine this
marks of strangulation? But, on the other hand,                evening.”
whose blood was that which lay so thickly upon                    “Excuse my using your name,” he said. “If I
the floor? There were no signs of a struggle, nor               used my own some of these dunderheads would
had the victim any weapon with which he might                  recognize it, and want to meddle in the affair.”
have wounded an antagonist. As long as all these
questions were unsolved, I felt that sleep would be               “That is all right,” I answered. “But supposing
no easy matter, either for Holmes or myself. His               anyone applies, I have no ring.”
quiet self-confident manner convinced me that he                   “Oh yes, you have,” said he, handing me one.
had already formed a theory which explained all                “This will do very well. It is almost a facsimile.”
the facts, though what it was I could not for an                  “And who do you expect will answer this ad-
instant conjecture.                                            vertisement.”
    He was very late in returning—so late, that I                  “Why, the man in the brown coat—our florid
knew that the concert could not have detained him              friend with the square toes. If he does not come
all the time. Dinner was on the table before he ap-            himself he will send an accomplice.”
peared.
                                                                  “Would he not consider it as too dangerous?”
   “It was magnificent,” he said, as he took his
                                                                   “Not at all. If my view of the case is correct,
seat. “Do you remember what Darwin says about
                                                               and I have every reason to believe that it is, this
music? He claims that the power of producing and
                                                               man would rather risk anything than lose the ring.
appreciating it existed among the human race long
                                                               According to my notion he dropped it while stoop-
before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps
                                                               ing over Drebber’s body, and did not miss it at
that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There
                                                               the time. After leaving the house he discovered
are vague memories in our souls of those misty
                                                               his loss and hurried back, but found the police al-
centuries when the world was in its childhood.”
                                                               ready in possession, owing to his own folly in leav-
   “That’s rather a broad idea,” I remarked.                   ing the candle burning. He had to pretend to be
    “One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they            drunk in order to allay the suspicions which might
are to interpret Nature,” he answered. “What’s the             have been aroused by his appearance at the gate.
matter? You’re not looking quite yourself. This                Now put yourself in that man’s place. On think-
Brixton Road affair has upset you.”                            ing the matter over, it must have occurred to him
                                                               that it was possible that he had lost the ring in the
    “To tell the truth, it has,” I said. “I ought to be
                                                               road after leaving the house. What would he do,
more case-hardened after my Afghan experiences.
                                                               then? He would eagerly look out for the evening
I saw my own comrades hacked to pieces at Mai-
                                                               papers in the hope of seeing it among the arti-
wand without losing my nerve.”
                                                               cles found. His eye, of course, would light upon
    “I can understand. There is a mystery about                this. He would be overjoyed. Why should he fear
this which stimulates the imagination; where there             a trap? There would be no reason in his eyes why
is no imagination there is no horror. Have you seen            the finding of the ring should be connected with
the evening paper?”                                            the murder. He would come. He will come. You
   “No.”                                                       shall see him within an hour.”
    “It gives a fairly good account of the affair. It             “And then?” I asked.
does not mention the fact that when the man was                  “Oh, you can leave me to deal with him then.
raised up, a woman’s wedding ring fell upon the                Have you any arms?”
floor. It is just as well it does not.”                             “I have my old service revolver and a few car-
   “Why?”                                                      tridges.”

                                                          23
                                            A Study In Scarlet

   “You had better clean it and load it. He will             with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket
be a desperate man, and though I shall take him              with nervous, shaky fingers. I glanced at my com-
unawares, it is as well to be ready for anything.”           panion, and his face had assumed such a discon-
    I went to my bedroom and followed his advice.            solate expression that it was all I could do to keep
When I returned with the pistol the table had been           my countenance.
cleared, and Holmes was engaged in his favourite                 The old crone drew out an evening paper, and
occupation of scraping upon his violin.                      pointed at our advertisement. “It’s this as has
   “The plot thickens,” he said, as I entered; “I            brought me, good gentlemen,” she said, dropping
have just had an answer to my American telegram.             another curtsey; “a gold wedding ring in the Brix-
My view of the case is the correct one.”                     ton Road. It belongs to my girl Sally, as was mar-
                                                             ried only this time twelvemonth, which her hus-
   “And that is?” I asked eagerly.
                                                             band is steward aboard a Union boat, and what
    “My fiddle would be the better for new                    he’d say if he comes ’ome and found her without
strings,” he remarked. “Put your pistol in your              her ring is more than I can think, he being short
pocket. When the fellow comes speak to him in an             enough at the best o’ times, but more especially
ordinary way. Leave the rest to me. Don’t frighten           when he has the drink. If it please you, she went
him by looking at him too hard.”                             to the circus last night along with—”
   “It is eight o’clock now,” I said, glancing at my            “Is that her ring?” I asked.
watch.
                                                                “The Lord be thanked!” cried the old woman;
    “Yes. He will probably be here in a few min-             “Sally will be a glad woman this night. That’s the
utes. Open the door slightly. That will do. Now              ring.”
put the key on the inside. Thank you! This is a
                                                                “And what may your address be?” I inquired,
queer old book I picked up at a stall yesterday—De
                                                             taking up a pencil.
Jure inter Gentes—published in Latin at Liege in the
Lowlands, in 1642. Charles’ head was still firm on              “13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch.        A weary
his shoulders when this little brown-backed vol-             way from here.”
ume was struck off.”                                             “The Brixton Road does not lie between any
   “Who is the printer?”                                     circus and Houndsditch,” said Sherlock Holmes
                                                             sharply.
    “Philippe de Croy, whoever he may have been.
On the fly-leaf, in very faded ink, is written ‘Ex                The old woman faced round and looked keenly
libris Guliolmi Whyte.’ I wonder who William                 at him from her little red-rimmed eyes. “The gen-
Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth cen-                 tleman asked me for my address,” she said. “Sally
tury lawyer, I suppose. His writing has a legal              lives in lodgings at 3, Mayfield Place, Peckham.”
twist about it. Here comes our man, I think.”                   “And your name is—?”
    As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell.             “My name is Sawyer—her’s is Dennis, which
Sherlock Holmes rose softly and moved his chair              Tom Dennis married her—and a smart, clean
in the direction of the door. We heard the servant           lad, too, as long as he’s at sea, and no steward
pass along the hall, and the sharp click of the latch        in the company more thought of; but when on
as she opened it.                                            shore, what with the women and what with liquor
   “Does Dr. Watson live here?” asked a clear but            shops—”
rather harsh voice. We could not hear the servant’s              “Here is your ring, Mrs. Sawyer,” I interrupted,
reply, but the door closed, and some one began to            in obedience to a sign from my companion; “it
ascend the stairs. The footfall was an uncertain             clearly belongs to your daughter, and I am glad
and shuffling one. A look of surprise passed over             to be able to restore it to the rightful owner.”
the face of my companion as he listened to it. It
came slowly along the passage, and there was a                   With many mumbled blessings and protesta-
feeble tap at the door.                                      tions of gratitude the old crone packed it away in
                                                             her pocket, and shuffled off down the stairs. Sher-
   “Come in,” I cried.                                       lock Holmes sprang to his feet the moment that
    At my summons, instead of the man of vio-                she was gone and rushed into his room. He re-
lence whom we expected, a very old and wrinkled              turned in a few seconds enveloped in an ulster
woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared               and a cravat. “I’ll follow her,” he said, hurriedly;
to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and              “she must be an accomplice, and will lead me to
after dropping a curtsey, she stood blinking at us           him. Wait up for me.” The hall door had hardly

                                                        24
                                             A Study In Scarlet

slammed behind our visitor before Holmes had                  she cried. This begins to look genuine, I thought,
descended the stair. Looking through the window               and having seen her safely inside, I perched myself
I could see her walking feebly along the other side,          behind. That’s an art which every detective should
while her pursuer dogged her some little distance             be an expert at. Well, away we rattled, and never
behind. “Either his whole theory is incorrect,” I             drew rein until we reached the street in question.
thought to myself, “or else he will be led now to             I hopped off before we came to the door, and
the heart of the mystery.” There was no need for              strolled down the street in an easy, lounging way. I
him to ask me to wait up for him, for I felt that             saw the cab pull up. The driver jumped down, and
sleep was impossible until I heard the result of his          I saw him open the door and stand expectantly.
adventure.                                                    Nothing came out though. When I reached him
                                                              he was groping about frantically in the empty cab,
    It was close upon nine when he set out. I had
                                                              and giving vent to the finest assorted collection of
no idea how long he might be, but I sat stolidly
                                                              oaths that ever I listened to. There was no sign or
puffing at my pipe and skipping over the pages of
                                                              trace of his passenger, and I fear it will be some
                            e
Henri Murger’s Vie de Boh`me. Ten o’clock passed,
                                                              time before he gets his fare. On inquiring at Num-
and I heard the footsteps of the maid as they pat-
                                                              ber 13 we found that the house belonged to a re-
tered off to bed. Eleven, and the more stately tread
                                                              spectable paperhanger, named Keswick, and that
of the landlady passed my door, bound for the
                                                              no one of the name either of Sawyer or Dennis had
same destination. It was close upon twelve before I
                                                              ever been heard of there.”
heard the sharp sound of his latch-key. The instant
he entered I saw by his face that he had not been                 “You don’t mean to say,” I cried, in amazement,
successful. Amusement and chagrin seemed to be                “that that tottering, feeble old woman was able to
struggling for the mastery, until the former sud-             get out of the cab while it was in motion, without
denly carried the day, and he burst into a hearty             either you or the driver seeing her?”
laugh.                                                            “Old woman be damned!” said Sherlock
    “I wouldn’t have the Scotland Yarders know it             Holmes, sharply. “We were the old women to be
for the world,” he cried, dropping into his chair; “I         so taken in. It must have been a young man, and
have chaffed them so much that they would never               an active one, too, besides being an incomparable
have let me hear the end of it. I can afford to laugh,        actor. The get-up was inimitable. He saw that he
because I know that I will be even with them in the           was followed, no doubt, and used this means of
long run.”                                                    giving me the slip. It shows that the man we are
                                                              after is not as lonely as I imagined he was, but has
   “What is it then?” I asked.                                friends who are ready to risk something for him.
    “Oh, I don’t mind telling a story against my-             Now, Doctor, you are looking done-up. Take my
self. That creature had gone a little way when she            advice and turn in.”
began to limp and show every sign of being foot-                  I was certainly feeling very weary, so I obeyed
sore. Presently she came to a halt, and hailed a              his injunction. I left Holmes seated in front of the
four-wheeler which was passing. I managed to                  smouldering fire, and long into the watches of the
be close to her so as to hear the address, but I              night I heard the low, melancholy wailings of his
need not have been so anxious, for she sang it out            violin, and knew that he was still pondering over
loud enough to be heard at the other side of the              the strange problem which he had set himself to
street, ‘Drive to 13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch,’            unravel.




                                                         25
                                           A Study In Scarlet

                                           CHAPTER VI.
                           Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do

    The papers next day were full of the “Brixton           despotism and hatred of Liberalism which ani-
Mystery,” as they termed it. Each had a long ac-            mated the Continental Governments had had the
count of the affair, and some had leaders upon              effect of driving to our shores a number of men
it in addition. There was some information in               who might have made excellent citizens were they
them which was new to me. I still retain in my              not soured by the recollection of all that they had
scrap-book numerous clippings and extracts bear-            undergone. Among these men there was a strin-
ing upon the case. Here is a condensation of a few          gent code of honour, any infringement of which
of them:—                                                   was punished by death. Every effort should be
    The Daily Telegraph remarked that in the history        made to find the secretary, Stangerson, and to as-
of crime there had seldom been a tragedy which              certain some particulars of the habits of the de-
presented stranger features. The German name of             ceased. A great step had been gained by the dis-
the victim, the absence of all other motive, and the        covery of the address of the house at which he had
sinister inscription on the wall, all pointed to its        boarded—a result which was entirely due to the
perpetration by political refugees and revolution-          acuteness and energy of Mr. Gregson of Scotland
ists. The Socialists had many branches in America,          Yard.
and the deceased had, no doubt, infringed their                 Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over
unwritten laws, and been tracked down by them.              together at breakfast, and they appeared to afford
After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht, aqua to-          him considerable amusement.
fana, Carbonari, the Marchioness de Brinvilliers,               “I told you that, whatever happened, Lestrade
the Darwinian theory, the principles of Malthus,            and Gregson would be sure to score.”
and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the article con-              “That depends on how it turns out.”
cluded by admonishing the Government and ad-
                                                                “Oh, bless you, it doesn’t matter in the least. If
vocating a closer watch over foreigners in England.
                                                            the man is caught, it will be on account of their ex-
    The Standard commented upon the fact that               ertions; if he escapes, it will be in spite of their exer-
lawless outrages of the sort usually occurred un-           tions. It’s heads I win and tails you lose. Whatever
der a Liberal Administration. They arose from the           they do, they will have followers. ‘Un sot trouve
unsettling of the minds of the masses, and the con-         toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.’ ”
sequent weakening of all authority. The deceased                “What on earth is this?” I cried, for at this mo-
was an American gentleman who had been resid-               ment there came the pattering of many steps in the
ing for some weeks in the Metropolis. He had                hall and on the stairs, accompanied by audible ex-
stayed at the boarding-house of Madame Charp-               pressions of disgust upon the part of our landlady.
entier, in Torquay Terrace, Camberwell. He was
                                                                “It’s the Baker Street division of the detective
accompanied in his travels by his private secre-
                                                            police force,” said my companion, gravely; and as
tary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The two bade adieu to
                                                            he spoke there rushed into the room half a dozen
their landlady upon Tuesday, the 4th inst., and de-
                                                            of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs that
parted to Euston Station with the avowed intention
                                                            ever I clapped eyes on.
of catching the Liverpool express. They were after-
wards seen together upon the platform. Nothing                  “’Tention!” cried Holmes, in a sharp tone, and
more is known of them until Mr. Drebber’s body              the six dirty little scoundrels stood in a line like so
was, as recorded, discovered in an empty house in           many disreputable statuettes. “In future you shall
the Brixton Road, many miles from Euston. How               send up Wiggins alone to report, and the rest of
he came there, or how he met his fate, are ques-            you must wait in the street. Have you found it,
tions which are still involved in mystery. Nothing          Wiggins?”
is known of the whereabouts of Stangerson. We                   “No, sir, we hain’t,” said one of the youths.
are glad to learn that Mr. Lestrade and Mr. Greg-               “I hardly expected you would. You must keep
son, of Scotland Yard, are both engaged upon the            on until you do. Here are your wages.” He handed
case, and it is confidently anticipated that these           each of them a shilling. “Now, off you go, and
well-known officers will speedily throw light upon           come back with a better report next time.”
the matter.                                                     He waved his hand, and they scampered away
   The Daily News observed that there was no                downstairs like so many rats, and we heard their
doubt as to the crime being a political one. The            shrill voices next moment in the street.

                                                       26
                                             A Study In Scarlet

    “There’s more work to be got out of one of                    “The fun of it is,” he cried, “that that fool
those little beggars than out of a dozen of the               Lestrade, who thinks himself so smart, has gone
force,” Holmes remarked. “The mere sight of                   off upon the wrong track altogether. He is after
an official-looking person seals men’s lips. These             the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do
youngsters, however, go everywhere and hear ev-               with the crime than the babe unborn. I have no
erything. They are as sharp as needles, too; all              doubt that he has caught him by this time.”
they want is organisation.”                                       The idea tickled Gregson so much that he
   “Is it on this Brixton case that you are employ-           laughed until he choked.
ing them?” I asked.                                               “And how did you get your clue?”
     “Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain.            “Ah, I’ll tell you all about it. Of course, Doctor
It is merely a matter of time. Hullo! we are going            Watson, this is strictly between ourselves. The first
to hear some news now with a vengeance! Here                  difficulty which we had to contend with was the
is Gregson coming down the road with beatitude                finding of this American’s antecedents. Some peo-
written upon every feature of his face. Bound for             ple would have waited until their advertisements
us, I know. Yes, he is stopping. There he is!”                were answered, or until parties came forward and
                                                              volunteered information. That is not Tobias Greg-
    There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a            son’s way of going to work. You remember the hat
few seconds the fair-haired detective came up the             beside the dead man?”
stairs, three steps at a time, and burst into our
                                                                  “Yes,” said Holmes; “by John Underwood and
sitting-room.
                                                              Sons, 129, Camberwell Road.”
   “My dear fellow,” he cried, wringing Holmes’                   Gregson looked quite crest-fallen.
unresponsive hand, “congratulate me! I have                       “I had no idea that you noticed that,” he said.
made the whole thing as clear as day.”                        “Have you been there?”
   A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my                    “No.”
companion’s expressive face.                                      “Ha!” cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; “you
   “Do you mean that you are on the right track?”             should never neglect a chance, however small it
he asked.                                                     may seem.”
   “The right track! Why, sir, we have the man                    “To a great mind, nothing is little,” remarked
under lock and key.”                                          Holmes, sententiously.
                                                                  “Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him
   “And his name is?”
                                                              if he had sold a hat of that size and description.
   “Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her                 He looked over his books, and came on it at once.
Majesty’s navy,” cried Gregson, pompously, rub-               He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber, residing
bing his fat hands and inflating his chest.                    at Charpentier’s Boarding Establishment, Torquay
   Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief, and re-             Terrace. Thus I got at his address.”
laxed into a smile.                                               “Smart—very smart!” murmured Sherlock
    “Take a seat, and try one of these cigars,” he            Holmes.
said. “We are anxious to know how you managed                     “I next called upon Madame Charpentier,” con-
it. Will you have some whiskey and water?”                    tinued the detective. “I found her very pale and
                                                              distressed. Her daughter was in the room, too—an
    “I don’t mind if I do,” the detective answered.
                                                              uncommonly fine girl she is, too; she was look-
“The tremendous exertions which I have gone
                                                              ing red about the eyes and her lips trembled as
through during the last day or two have worn me
                                                              I spoke to her. That didn’t escape my notice. I
out. Not so much bodily exertion, you understand,
                                                              began to smell a rat. You know the feeling, Mr.
as the strain upon the mind. You will appreciate
                                                              Sherlock Holmes, when you come upon the right
that, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for we are both brain-
                                                              scent—a kind of thrill in your nerves. ‘Have you
workers.”
                                                              heard of the mysterious death of your late boarder
   “You do me too much honour,” said Holmes,                  Mr. Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland?’ I asked.
gravely. “Let us hear how you arrived at this most                “The mother nodded. She didn’t seem able to
gratifying result.”                                           get out a word. The daughter burst into tears. I felt
   The detective seated himself in the arm-chair,             more than ever that these people knew something
and puffed complacently at his cigar. Then sud-               of the matter.
denly he slapped his thigh in a paroxysm of                       “ ‘At what o’clock did Mr. Drebber leave your
amusement.                                                    house for the train?’ I asked.

                                                         27
                                             A Study In Scarlet

    “ ‘At eight o’clock,’ she said, gulping in her            his employer, I am sorry to say, was far other-
throat to keep down her agitation. ‘His secre-                wise. He was coarse in his habits and brutish in
tary, Mr. Stangerson, said that there were two                his ways. The very night of his arrival he became
trains—one at 9.15 and one at 11. He was to catch             very much the worse for drink, and, indeed, af-
the first.’                                                    ter twelve o’clock in the day he could hardly ever
   “ ‘And was that the last which you saw of him?’            be said to be sober. His manners towards the
                                                              maid-servants were disgustingly free and familiar.
    “A terrible change came over the woman’s face             Worst of all, he speedily assumed the same atti-
as I asked the question. Her features turned per-             tude towards my daughter, Alice, and spoke to her
fectly livid. It was some seconds before she could            more than once in a way which, fortunately, she
get out the single word ‘Yes’—and when it did                 is too innocent to understand. On one occasion
come it was in a husky unnatural tone.                        he actually seized her in his arms and embraced
   “There was silence for a moment, and then the              her—an outrage which caused his own secretary
daughter spoke in a calm clear voice.                         to reproach him for his unmanly conduct.’
   “ ‘No good can ever come of falsehood,                        “ ‘But why did you stand all this,’ I asked. ‘I
mother,’ she said. ‘Let us be frank with this gen-            suppose that you can get rid of your boarders
tleman. We did see Mr. Drebber again.’                        when you wish.’
    “ ‘God forgive you!’ cried Madame Charpen-                    “Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent
tier, throwing up her hands and sinking back in               question. ‘Would to God that I had given him no-
her chair. ‘You have murdered your brother.’                  tice on the very day that he came,’ she said. ‘But it
                                                              was a sore temptation. They were paying a pound
   “ ‘Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,’
                                                              a day each—fourteen pounds a week, and this is
the girl answered firmly.
                                                              the slack season. I am a widow, and my boy in
   “ ‘You had best tell me all about it now,’ I said.         the Navy has cost me much. I grudged to lose
‘Half-confidences are worse than none. Besides,                the money. I acted for the best. This last was too
you do not know how much we know of it.’                      much, however, and I gave him notice to leave on
    “ ‘On your head be it, Alice!’ cried her mother;          account of it. That was the reason of his going.’
and then, turning to me, ‘I will tell you all, sir. Do           “ ‘Well?’
not imagine that my agitation on behalf of my son
                                                                  “ ‘My heart grew light when I saw him drive
arises from any fear lest he should have had a hand
                                                              away. My son is on leave just now, but I did not tell
in this terrible affair. He is utterly innocent of it.
                                                              him anything of all this, for his temper is violent,
My dread is, however, that in your eyes and in the
                                                              and he is passionately fond of his sister. When
eyes of others he may appear to be compromised.
                                                              I closed the door behind them a load seemed to
That however is surely impossible. His high char-
                                                              be lifted from my mind. Alas, in less than an
acter, his profession, his antecedents would all for-
                                                              hour there was a ring at the bell, and I learned
bid it.’
                                                              that Mr. Drebber had returned. He was much ex-
    “ ‘Your best way is to make a clean breast of the         cited, and evidently the worse for drink. He forced
facts,’ I answered. ‘Depend upon it, if your son is           his way into the room, where I was sitting with
innocent he will be none the worse.’                          my daughter, and made some incoherent remark
    “ ‘Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us to-            about having missed his train. He then turned to
gether,’ she said, and her daughter withdrew.                 Alice, and before my very face, proposed to her
‘Now, sir,’ she continued, ‘I had no intention of             that she should fly with him. “You are of age,”
telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has          he said, “and there is no law to stop you. I have
disclosed it I have no alternative. Having once de-           money enough and to spare. Never mind the old
cided to speak, I will tell you all without omitting          girl here, but come along with me now straight
any particular.’                                              away. You shall live like a princess.” Poor Alice
                                                              was so frightened that she shrunk away from him,
   “ ‘It is your wisest course,’ said I.                      but he caught her by the wrist and endeavoured
   “ ‘Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three               to draw her towards the door. I screamed, and at
weeks. He and his secretary, Mr. Stangerson,                  that moment my son Arthur came into the room.
had been travelling on the Continent. I noticed               What happened then I do not know. I heard oaths
a “Copenhagen” label upon each of their trunks,               and the confused sounds of a scuffle. I was too
showing that that had been their last stopping                terrified to raise my head. When I did look up
place. Stangerson was a quiet reserved man, but               I saw Arthur standing in the doorway laughing,

                                                         28
                                            A Study In Scarlet

with a stick in his hand. “I don’t think that fine               “What is your theory, then?”
fellow will trouble us again,” he said. “I will just             “Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as
go after him and see what he does with himself.”             far as the Brixton Road. When there, a fresh alter-
With those words he took his hat and started off             cation arose between them, in the course of which
down the street. The next morning we heard of                Drebber received a blow from the stick, in the pit
Mr. Drebber’s mysterious death.’                             of the stomach, perhaps, which killed him without
    “This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier’s             leaving any mark. The night was so wet that no
lips with many gasps and pauses. At times she                one was about, so Charpentier dragged the body
spoke so low that I could hardly catch the words. I          of his victim into the empty house. As to the can-
made shorthand notes of all that she said, however,          dle, and the blood, and the writing on the wall,
so that there should be no possibility of a mistake.”        and the ring, they may all be so many tricks to
   “It’s quite exciting,” said Sherlock Holmes,              throw the police on to the wrong scent.”
with a yawn. “What happened next?”                              “Well done!” said Holmes in an encouraging
    “When Mrs. Charpentier paused,” the detec-               voice. “Really, Gregson, you are getting along. We
tive continued, “I saw that the whole case hung              shall make something of you yet.”
upon one point. Fixing her with my eye in a                      “I flatter myself that I have managed it rather
way which I always found effective with women, I             neatly,” the detective answered proudly. “The
asked her at what hour her son returned.                     young man volunteered a statement, in which he
   “ ‘I do not know,’ she answered.                          said that after following Drebber some time, the
                                                             latter perceived him, and took a cab in order to get
   “ ‘Not know?’                                             away from him. On his way home he met an old
   “ ‘No; he has a latch-key, and he let himself in.’        shipmate, and took a long walk with him. On be-
   “ ‘After you went to bed?’                                ing asked where this old shipmate lived, he was
                                                             unable to give any satisfactory reply. I think the
   “ ‘Yes.’
                                                             whole case fits together uncommonly well. What
   “ ‘When did you go to bed?’                               amuses me is to think of Lestrade, who had started
   “ ‘About eleven.’                                         off upon the wrong scent. I am afraid he won’t
                                                             make much of—Why, by Jove, here’s the very man
   “ ‘So your son was gone at least two hours?’
                                                             himself!”
   “ ‘Yes.’
                                                                 It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the
   “ ‘Possibly four or five?’                                 stairs while we were talking, and who now entered
   “ ‘Yes.’                                                  the room. The assurance and jauntiness which
   “ ‘What was he doing during that time?’                   generally marked his demeanour and dress were,
                                                             however, wanting. His face was disturbed and
    “ ‘I do not know,’ she answered, turning white           troubled, while his clothes were disarranged and
to her very lips.                                            untidy. He had evidently come with the inten-
    “Of course after that there was nothing more to          tion of consulting with Sherlock Holmes, for on
be done. I found out where Lieutenant Charpen-               perceiving his colleague he appeared to be embar-
tier was, took two officers with me, and arrested             rassed and put out. He stood in the centre of the
him. When I touched him on the shoulder and                  room, fumbling nervously with his hat and uncer-
warned him to come quietly with us, he answered              tain what to do. “This is a most extraordinary
us as bold as brass, ‘I suppose you are arresting me         case,” he said at last—“a most incomprehensible
for being concerned in the death of that scoundrel           affair.”
Drebber,’ he said. We had said nothing to him                   “Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!” cried Greg-
about it, so that his alluding to it had a most sus-         son, triumphantly. “I thought you would come to
picious aspect.”                                             that conclusion. Have you managed to find the
   “Very,” said Holmes.                                      Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?”
   “He still carried the heavy stick which the                  “The Secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson,” said
mother described him as having with him when                 Lestrade gravely, “was murdered at Halliday’s Pri-
he followed Drebber. It was a stout oak cudgel.”             vate Hotel about six o’clock this morning.”




                                                        29
                                             A Study In Scarlet

                                            CHAPTER VII.
                                         Light In The Darkness

    The intelligence with which Lestrade greeted              Stangerson was living there, they at once answered
us was so momentous and so unexpected, that                   me in the affirmative.
we were all three fairly dumfoundered. Gregson                    “ ‘No doubt you are the gentleman whom he
sprang out of his chair and upset the remainder of            was expecting,’ they said. ‘He has been waiting
his whiskey and water. I stared in silence at Sher-           for a gentleman for two days.’
lock Holmes, whose lips were compressed and his
                                                                  “ ‘Where is he now?’ I asked.
brows drawn down over his eyes.
                                                                  “ ‘He is upstairs in bed. He wished to be called
    “Stangerson too!” he muttered.        “The plot           at nine.’
thickens.”
                                                                  “ ‘I will go up and see him at once,’ I said.
    “It was quite thick enough before,” grumbled                  “It seemed to me that my sudden appearance
Lestrade, taking a chair. “I seem to have dropped             might shake his nerves and lead him to say some-
into a sort of council of war.”                               thing unguarded. The Boots volunteered to show
   “Are you—are you sure of this piece of intelli-            me the room: it was on the second floor, and there
gence?” stammered Gregson.                                    was a small corridor leading up to it. The Boots
                                                              pointed out the door to me, and was about to go
   “I have just come from his room,” said
                                                              downstairs again when I saw something that made
Lestrade. “I was the first to discover what had
                                                              me feel sickish, in spite of my twenty years’ experi-
occurred.”
                                                              ence. From under the door there curled a little red
    “We have been hearing Gregson’s view of the               ribbon of blood, which had meandered across the
matter,” Holmes observed. “Would you mind let-                passage and formed a little pool along the skirt-
ting us know what you have seen and done?”                    ing at the other side. I gave a cry, which brought
    “I have no objection,” Lestrade answered, seat-           the Boots back. He nearly fainted when he saw it.
ing himself. “I freely confess that I was of the opin-        The door was locked on the inside, but we put our
ion that Stangerson was concerned in the death of             shoulders to it, and knocked it in. The window
Drebber. This fresh development has shown me                  of the room was open, and beside the window, all
that I was completely mistaken. Full of the one               huddled up, lay the body of a man in his night-
idea, I set myself to find out what had become of              dress. He was quite dead, and had been for some
the Secretary. They had been seen together at Eu-             time, for his limbs were rigid and cold. When we
ston Station about half-past eight on the evening of          turned him over, the Boots recognized him at once
the third. At two in the morning Drebber had been             as being the same gentleman who had engaged the
found in the Brixton Road. The question which                 room under the name of Joseph Stangerson. The
confronted me was to find out how Stangerson had               cause of death was a deep stab in the left side,
been employed between 8.30 and the time of the                which must have penetrated the heart. And now
crime, and what had become of him afterwards.                 comes the strangest part of the affair. What do you
I telegraphed to Liverpool, giving a description              suppose was above the murdered man?”
of the man, and warning them to keep a watch                      I felt a creeping of the flesh, and a presentiment
upon the American boats. I then set to work call-             of coming horror, even before Sherlock Holmes an-
ing upon all the hotels and lodging-houses in the             swered.
vicinity of Euston. You see, I argued that if Dreb-               “The word RACHE, written in letters of blood,”
ber and his companion had become separated, the               he said.
natural course for the latter would be to put up                  “That was it,” said Lestrade, in an awe-struck
somewhere in the vicinity for the night, and then             voice; and we were all silent for a while.
to hang about the station again next morning.”
                                                                  There was something so methodical and so in-
  “They would be likely to agree on some                      comprehensible about the deeds of this unknown
meeting-place beforehand,” remarked Holmes.                   assassin, that it imparted a fresh ghastliness to his
    “So it proved. I spent the whole of yester-               crimes. My nerves, which were steady enough on
day evening in making enquiries entirely without              the field of battle tingled as I thought of it.
avail. This morning I began very early, and at eight              “The man was seen,” continued Lestrade. “A
o’clock I reached Halliday’s Private Hotel, in Little         milk boy, passing on his way to the dairy, hap-
George Street. On my enquiry as to whether a Mr.              pened to walk down the lane which leads from

                                                         30
                                           A Study In Scarlet

the mews at the back of the hotel. He noticed               eyes. I will give you a proof of my knowledge.
that a ladder, which usually lay there, was raised          Could you lay your hand upon those pills?”
against one of the windows of the second floor,                  “I have them,” said Lestrade, producing a small
which was wide open. After passing, he looked               white box; “I took them and the purse and the
back and saw a man descend the ladder. He came              telegram, intending to have them put in a place
down so quietly and openly that the boy imagined            of safety at the Police Station. It was the merest
him to be some carpenter or joiner at work in the           chance my taking these pills, for I am bound to
hotel. He took no particular notice of him, beyond          say that I do not attach any importance to them.”
thinking in his own mind that it was early for him
                                                                “Give them here,” said Holmes. “Now, Doc-
to be at work. He has an impression that the man
                                                            tor,” turning to me, “are those ordinary pills?”
was tall, had a reddish face, and was dressed in
a long, brownish coat. He must have stayed in                  They certainly were not. They were of a pearly
the room some little time after the murder, for we          grey colour, small, round, and almost transparent
found blood-stained water in the basin, where he            against the light. “From their lightness and trans-
had washed his hands, and marks on the sheets               parency, I should imagine that they are soluble in
where he had deliberately wiped his knife.”                 water,” I remarked.
    I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description             “Precisely so,” answered Holmes. “Now would
of the murderer, which tallied so exactly with his          you mind going down and fetching that poor little
own. There was, however, no trace of exultation or          devil of a terrier which has been bad so long, and
satisfaction upon his face.                                 which the landlady wanted you to put out of its
                                                            pain yesterday.”
   “Did you find nothing in the room which could
furnish a clue to the murderer?” he asked.                      I went downstairs and carried the dog upstair
                                                            in my arms. It’s laboured breathing and glazing
    “Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber’s purse in             eye showed that it was not far from its end. In-
his pocket, but it seems that this was usual, as he         deed, its snow-white muzzle proclaimed that it
did all the paying. There was eighty odd pounds             had already exceeded the usual term of canine ex-
in it, but nothing had been taken. Whatever the             istence. I placed it upon a cushion on the rug.
motives of these extraordinary crimes, robbery is
                                                                “I will now cut one of these pills in two,” said
certainly not one of them. There were no papers
                                                            Holmes, and drawing his penknife he suited the
or memoranda in the murdered man’s pocket, ex-
                                                            action to the word. “One half we return into the
cept a single telegram, dated from Cleveland about
                                                            box for future purposes. The other half I will place
a month ago, and containing the words, ‘J. H. is
                                                            in this wine glass, in which is a teaspoonful of wa-
in Europe.’ There was no name appended to this
                                                            ter. You perceive that our friend, the Doctor, is
message.”
                                                            right, and that it readily dissolves.”
   “And there was nothing else?” Holmes asked.                  “This may be very interesting,” said Lestrade,
    “Nothing of any importance. The man’s novel,            in the injured tone of one who suspects that he is
with which he had read himself to sleep was lying           being laughed at, “I cannot see, however, what it
upon the bed, and his pipe was on a chair beside            has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph Stanger-
him. There was a glass of water on the table, and           son.”
on the window-sill a small chip ointment box con-               “Patience, my friend, patience! You will find
taining a couple of pills.”                                 in time that it has everything to do with it. I shall
   Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an            now add a little milk to make the mixture palat-
exclamation of delight.                                     able, and on presenting it to the dog we find that
                                                            he laps it up readily enough.”
    “The last link,” he cried, exultantly. “My case
is complete.”                                                   As he spoke he turned the contents of the
                                                            wine glass into a saucer and placed it in front of
   The two detectives stared at him in amazement.           the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock
    “I have now in my hands,” my companion said,            Holmes’ earnest demeanour had so far convinced
confidently, “all the threads which have formed              us that we all sat in silence, watching the ani-
such a tangle. There are, of course, details to be          mal intently, and expecting some startling effect.
filled in, but I am as certain of all the main facts,        None such appeared, however. The dog contin-
from the time that Drebber parted from Stanger-             ued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in
son at the station, up to the discovery of the body         a laboured way, but apparently neither the better
of the latter, as if I had seen them with my own            nor the worse for its draught.

                                                       31
                                              A Study In Scarlet

    Holmes had taken out his watch, and as minute              strangeness with mystery. The most common-
followed minute without result, an expression of               place crime is often the most mysterious because
the utmost chagrin and disappointment appeared                 it presents no new or special features from which
upon his features. He gnawed his lip, drummed                  deductions may be drawn. This murder would
his fingers upon the table, and showed every other              have been infinitely more difficult to unravel had
symptom of acute impatience. So great was his                  the body of the victim been simply found lying in
emotion, that I felt sincerely sorry for him, while                                                   e
                                                               the roadway without any of those outr´ and sensa-
the two detectives smiled derisively, by no means              tional accompaniments which have rendered it re-
displeased at this check which he had met.                     markable. These strange details, far from making
                                                               the case more difficult, have really had the effect
    “It can’t be a coincidence,” he cried, at last             of making it less so.”
springing from his chair and pacing wildly up and
down the room; “it is impossible that it should be                 Mr. Gregson, who had listened to this address
a mere coincidence. The very pills which I sus-                with considerable impatience, could contain him-
pected in the case of Drebber are actually found               self no longer. “Look here, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,”
after the death of Stangerson. And yet they are                he said, “we are all ready to acknowledge that you
inert. What can it mean? Surely my whole chain                 are a smart man, and that you have your own
of reasoning cannot have been false. It is impossi-            methods of working. We want something more
ble! And yet this wretched dog is none the worse.              than mere theory and preaching now, though. It
Ah, I have it! I have it!” With a perfect shriek of de-        is a case of taking the man. I have made my case
light he rushed to the box, cut the other pill in two,         out, and it seems I was wrong. Young Charpentier
dissolved it, added milk, and presented it to the              could not have been engaged in this second affair.
terrier. The unfortunate creature’s tongue seemed              Lestrade went after his man, Stangerson, and it ap-
hardly to have been moistened in it before it gave             pears that he was wrong too. You have thrown
a convulsive shiver in every limb, and lay as rigid            out hints here, and hints there, and seem to know
and lifeless as if it had been struck by lightning.            more than we do, but the time has come when we
                                                               feel that we have a right to ask you straight how
    Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath, and                    much you do know of the business. Can you name
wiped the perspiration from his forehead. “I                   the man who did it?”
should have more faith,” he said; “I ought to know                 “I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right,
by this time that when a fact appears to be op-                sir,” remarked Lestrade. “We have both tried, and
posed to a long train of deductions, it invariably             we have both failed. You have remarked more than
proves to be capable of bearing some other inter-              once since I have been in the room that you had all
pretation. Of the two pills in that box one was of             the evidence which you require. Surely you will
the most deadly poison, and the other was entirely             not withhold it any longer.”
harmless. I ought to have known that before ever
I saw the box at all.”                                             “Any delay in arresting the assassin,” I ob-
                                                               served, “might give him time to perpetrate some
    This last statement appeared to me to be so                fresh atrocity.”
startling, that I could hardly believe that he was                 Thus pressed by us all, Holmes showed signs of
in his sober senses. There was the dead dog, how-              irresolution. He continued to walk up and down
ever, to prove that his conjecture had been correct.           the room with his head sunk on his chest and his
It seemed to me that the mists in my own mind                  brows drawn down, as was his habit when lost in
were gradually clearing away, and I began to have              thought.
a dim, vague perception of the truth.
                                                                   “There will be no more murders,” he said at
   “All this seems strange to you,” continued                  last, stopping abruptly and facing us. “You can
Holmes, “because you failed at the beginning of                put that consideration out of the question. You
the inquiry to grasp the importance of the single              have asked me if I know the name of the assas-
real clue which was presented to you. I had the                sin. I do. The mere knowing of his name is a small
good fortune to seize upon that, and everything                thing, however, compared with the power of laying
which has occurred since then has served to con-               our hands upon him. This I expect very shortly to
firm my original supposition, and, indeed, was the              do. I have good hopes of managing it through my
logical sequence of it. Hence things which have                own arrangements; but it is a thing which needs
perplexed you and made the case more obscure,                  delicate handling, for we have a shrewd and des-
have served to enlighten me and to strengthen                  perate man to deal with, who is supported, as I
my conclusions. It is a mistake to confound                    have had occasion to prove, by another who is as

                                                          32
                                            A Study In Scarlet

clever as himself. As long as this man has no idea               The fellow came forward with a somewhat
that anyone can have a clue there is some chance             sullen, defiant air, and put down his hands to as-
of securing him; but if he had the slightest suspi-          sist. At that instant there was a sharp click, the
cion, he would change his name, and vanish in an             jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to
instant among the four million inhabitants of this           his feet again.
great city. Without meaning to hurt either of your
feelings, I am bound to say that I consider these               “Gentlemen,” he cried, with flashing eyes, “let
men to be more than a match for the official force,           me introduce you to Mr. Jefferson Hope, the mur-
and that is why I have not asked your assistance.            derer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph Stangerson.”
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              The whole thing occurred in a moment—so
I can communicate with you without endangering               quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have
my own combinations, I shall do so.”                         a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes’
    Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from               triumphant expression and the ring of his voice,
satisfied by this assurance, or by the depreciating           of the cabman’s dazed, savage face, as he glared
allusion to the detective police. The former had             at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared
flushed up to the roots of his flaxen hair, while the          as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second
other’s beady eyes glistened with curiosity and re-          or two we might have been a group of statues.
sentment. Neither of them had time to speak, how-            Then, with an inarticulate roar of fury, the pris-
ever, before there was a tap at the door, and the            oner wrenched himself free from Holmes’s grasp,
spokesman of the street Arabs, young Wiggins, in-            and hurled himself through the window. Wood-
troduced his insignificant and unsavoury person.              work and glass gave way before him; but before he
                                                             got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes
    “Please, sir,” he said, touching his forelock, “I
                                                             sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He
have the cab downstairs.”
                                                             was dragged back into the room, and then com-
    “Good boy,” said Holmes, blandly. “Why don’t             menced a terrific conflict. So powerful and so
you introduce this pattern at Scotland Yard?” he             fierce was he, that the four of us were shaken off
continued, taking a pair of steel handcuffs from             again and again. He appeared to have the con-
a drawer. “See how beautifully the spring works.             vulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit. His
They fasten in an instant.”                                  face and hands were terribly mangled by his pas-
    “The old pattern is good enough,” remarked               sage through the glass, but loss of blood had no ef-
Lestrade, “if we can only find the man to put them            fect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until
on.”                                                         Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his
    “Very good, very good,” said Holmes, smiling.            neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made
“The cabman may as well help me with my boxes.               him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and
Just ask him to step up, Wiggins.”                           even then we felt no security until we had pinioned
    I was surprised to find my companion speak-               his feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to
ing as though he were about to set out on a jour-            our feet breathless and panting.
ney, since he had not said anything to me about
it. There was a small portmanteau in the room,                  “We have his cab,” said Sherlock Holmes. “It
and this he pulled out and began to strap. He was            will serve to take him to Scotland Yard. And now,
busily engaged at it when the cabman entered the             gentlemen,” he continued, with a pleasant smile,
room.                                                        “we have reached the end of our little mystery.
    “Just give me a help with this buckle, cabman,”          You are very welcome to put any questions that
he said, kneeling over his task, and never turning           you like to me now, and there is no danger that I
his head.                                                    will refuse to answer them.”




                                                        33
    PART II.
The Country of the Saints.
                                              A Study In Scarlet

                                               CHAPTER I.
                                      On The Great Alkali Plain

    In the central portion of the great North                  stand out against the dull deposit of alkali. Ap-
American Continent there lies an arid and repul-               proach, and examine them! They are bones: some
sive desert, which for many a long year served                 large and coarse, others smaller and more delicate.
as a barrier against the advance of civilisation.              The former have belonged to oxen, and the latter to
From the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from                   men. For fifteen hundred miles one may trace this
the Yellowstone River in the north to the Colorado             ghastly caravan route by these scattered remains
upon the south, is a region of desolation and si-              of those who had fallen by the wayside.
lence. Nor is Nature always in one mood through-                   Looking down on this very scene, there stood
out this grim district. It comprises snow-capped               upon the fourth of May, eighteen hundred and
and lofty mountains, and dark and gloomy val-                  forty-seven, a solitary traveller. His appearance
leys. There are swift-flowing rivers which dash                 was such that he might have been the very genius
through jagged canons; and there are enormous
                    ˜                                          or demon of the region. An observer would have
plains, which in winter are white with snow, and               found it difficult to say whether he was nearer to
in summer are grey with the saline alkali dust.                forty or to sixty. His face was lean and haggard,
They all preserve, however, the common charac-                 and the brown parchment-like skin was drawn
teristics of barrenness, inhospitality, and misery.            tightly over the projecting bones; his long, brown
    There are no inhabitants of this land of despair.          hair and beard were all flecked and dashed with
A band of Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasion-                white; his eyes were sunken in his head, and
ally traverse it in order to reach other hunting-              burned with an unnatural lustre; while the hand
grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad               which grasped his rifle was hardly more fleshy
to lose sight of those awesome plains, and to find              than that of a skeleton. As he stood, he leaned
themselves once more upon their prairies. The                  upon his weapon for support, and yet his tall fig-
coyote skulks among the scrub, the buzzard flaps                ure and the massive framework of his bones sug-
heavily through the air, and the clumsy grizzly                gested a wiry and vigorous constitution. His gaunt
bear lumbers through the dark ravines, and picks               face, however, and his clothes, which hung so bag-
up such sustenance as it can amongst the rocks.                gily over his shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it
These are the sole dwellers in the wilderness.                 was that gave him that senile and decrepit appear-
                                                               ance. The man was dying—dying from hunger
    In the whole world there can be no more dreary             and from thirst.
view than that from the northern slope of the                      He had toiled painfully down the ravine, and
Sierra Blanco. As far as the eye can reach stretches           on to this little elevation, in the vain hope of see-
the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with                 ing some signs of water. Now the great salt plain
patches of alkali, and intersected by clumps of the            stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt of
dwarfish chaparral bushes. On the extreme verge                 savage mountains, without a sign anywhere of
of the horizon lie a long chain of mountain peaks,             plant or tree, which might indicate the presence
with their rugged summits flecked with snow. In                 of moisture. In all that broad landscape there was
this great stretch of country there is no sign of life,        no gleam of hope. North, and east, and west he
nor of anything appertaining to life. There is no              looked with wild questioning eyes, and then he
bird in the steel-blue heaven, no movement upon                realised that his wanderings had come to an end,
the dull, grey earth—above all, there is absolute si-          and that there, on that barren crag, he was about
lence. Listen as one may, there is no shadow of a              to die. “Why not here, as well as in a feather bed,
sound in all that mighty wilderness; nothing but               twenty years hence,” he muttered, as he seated
silence—complete and heart-subduing silence.                   himself in the shelter of a boulder.
    It has been said there is nothing appertaining                 Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the
to life upon the broad plain. That is hardly true.             ground his useless rifle, and also a large bundle
Looking down from the Sierra Blanco, one sees a                tied up in a grey shawl, which he had carried slung
pathway traced out across the desert, which winds              over his right shoulder. It appeared to be some-
away and is lost in the extreme distance. It is rut-           what too heavy for his strength, for in lowering it,
ted with wheels and trodden down by the feet of                it came down on the ground with some little vio-
many adventurers. Here and there there are scat-               lence. Instantly there broke from the grey parcel
tered white objects which glisten in the sun, and              a little moaning cry, and from it there protruded

                                                          37
                                              A Study In Scarlet

a small, scared face, with very bright brown eyes,                “No, nor drink. And Mr. Bender, he was the
and two little speckled, dimpled fists.                         fust to go, and then Indian Pete, and then Mrs. Mc-
                                                               Gregor, and then Johnny Hones, and then, dearie,
   “You’ve hurt me!” said a childish voice re-
                                                               your mother.”
proachfully.
                                                                   “Then mother’s a deader too,” cried the little
     “Have I though,” the man answered penitently,             girl dropping her face in her pinafore and sobbing
“I didn’t go for to do it.” As he spoke he un-                 bitterly.
wrapped the grey shawl and extricated a pretty
little girl of about five years of age, whose dainty                “Yes, they all went except you and me. Then
shoes and smart pink frock with its little linen               I thought there was some chance of water in this
apron all bespoke a mother’s care. The child                   direction, so I heaved you over my shoulder and
was pale and wan, but her healthy arms and legs                we tramped it together. It don’t seem as though
showed that she had suffered less than her com-                we’ve improved matters. There’s an almighty
panion.                                                        small chance for us now!”
                                                                   “Do you mean that we are going to die too?”
   “How is it now?” he answered anxiously, for
                                                               asked the child, checking her sobs, and raising her
she was still rubbing the towsy golden curls which
                                                               tear-stained face.
covered the back of her head.
                                                                  “I guess that’s about the size of it.”
   “Kiss it and make it well,” she said, with
                                                                  “Why didn’t you say so before?” she said,
perfect gravity, shoving the injured part up to
                                                               laughing gleefully. “You gave me such a fright.
him. “That’s what mother used to do. Where’s
                                                               Why, of course, now as long as we die we’ll be
mother?”
                                                               with mother again.”
   “Mother’s gone. I guess you’ll see her before                  “Yes, you will, dearie.”
long.”
                                                                   “And you too. I’ll tell her how awful good
   “Gone, eh!” said the little girl. “Funny, she               you’ve been. I’ll bet she meets us at the door of
didn’t say good-bye; she ’most always did if she               Heaven with a big pitcher of water, and a lot of
was just goin’ over to Auntie’s for tea, and now               buckwheat cakes, hot, and toasted on both sides,
she’s been away three days. Say, it’s awful dry,               like Bob and me was fond of. How long will it be
ain’t it? Ain’t there no water, nor nothing to eat?”           first?”
   “No, there ain’t nothing, dearie. You’ll just                   “I don’t know—not very long.” The man’s eyes
need to be patient awhile, and then you’ll be all              were fixed upon the northern horizon. In the blue
right. Put your head up agin me like that, and                 vault of the heaven there had appeared three lit-
then you’ll feel bullier. It ain’t easy to talk when           tle specks which increased in size every moment,
your lips is like leather, but I guess I’d best let you        so rapidly did they approach. They speedily re-
know how the cards lie. What’s that you’ve got?”               solved themselves into three large brown birds,
                                                               which circled over the heads of the two wander-
   “Pretty things! fine things!” cried the little girl
                                                               ers, and then settled upon some rocks which over-
enthusiastically, holding up two glittering frag-
                                                               looked them. They were buzzards, the vultures of
ments of mica. “When we goes back to home I’ll
                                                               the west, whose coming is the forerunner of death.
give them to brother Bob.”
                                                                   “Cocks and hens,” cried the little girl gleefully,
   “You’ll see prettier things than them soon,”                pointing at their ill-omened forms, and clapping
said the man confidently. “You just wait a bit.                 her hands to make them rise. “Say, did God make
I was going to tell you though—you remember                    this country?”
when we left the river?”
                                                                   “Of course He did,” said her companion, rather
   “Oh, yes.”                                                  startled by this unexpected question.
    “Well, we reckoned we’d strike another river                  “He made the country down in Illinois, and He
soon, d’ye see. But there was somethin’ wrong;                 made the Missouri,” the little girl continued. “I
compasses, or map, or somethin’, and it didn’t                 guess somebody else made the country in these
turn up. Water ran out. Just except a little drop              parts. It’s not nearly so well done. They forgot the
for the likes of you and—and—”                                 water and the trees.”
    “And you couldn’t wash yourself,” interrupted                 “What would ye think of offering up prayer?”
his companion gravely, staring up at his grimy vis-            the man asked diffidently.
age.                                                              “It ain’t night yet,” she answered.

                                                          38
                                            A Study In Scarlet

   “It don’t matter. It ain’t quite regular, but He          through the haze, and the apparition revealed it-
won’t mind that, you bet. You say over them ones             self as being a great caravan upon its journey for
that you used to say every night in the waggon               the West. But what a caravan! When the head
when we was on the Plains.”                                  of it had reached the base of the mountains, the
   “Why don’t you say some yourself?” the child              rear was not yet visible on the horizon. Right
asked, with wondering eyes.                                  across the enormous plain stretched the straggling
                                                             array, waggons and carts, men on horseback, and
   “I disremember them,” he answered. “I hain’t              men on foot. Innumerable women who staggered
said none since I was half the height o’ that gun. I         along under burdens, and children who toddled
guess it’s never too late. You say them out, and I’ll        beside the waggons or peeped out from under the
stand by and come in on the choruses.”                       white coverings. This was evidently no ordinary
   “Then you’ll need to kneel down, and me too,”             party of immigrants, but rather some nomad peo-
she said, laying the shawl out for that purpose.             ple who had been compelled from stress of circum-
“You’ve got to put your hands up like this. It               stances to seek themselves a new country. There
makes you feel kind o’ good.”                                rose through the clear air a confused clattering and
    It was a strange sight had there been anything           rumbling from this great mass of humanity, with
but the buzzards to see it. Side by side on the              the creaking of wheels and the neighing of horses.
narrow shawl knelt the two wanderers, the little             Loud as it was, it was not sufficient to rouse the
prattling child and the reckless, hardened adven-            two tired wayfarers above them.
turer. Her chubby face, and his haggard, angu-                  At the head of the column there rode a score
lar visage were both turned up to the cloudless              or more of grave ironfaced men, clad in sombre
heaven in heartfelt entreaty to that dread being             homespun garments and armed with rifles. On
with whom they were face to face, while the two              reaching the base of the bluff they halted, and held
voices—the one thin and clear, the other deep and            a short council among themselves.
harsh—united in the entreaty for mercy and for-                 “The wells are to the right, my brothers,” said
giveness. The prayer finished, they resumed their             one, a hard-lipped, clean-shaven man with grizzly
seat in the shadow of the boulder until the child            hair.
fell asleep, nestling upon the broad breast of her
                                                                “To the right of the Sierra Blanco—so we shall
protector. He watched over her slumber for some
                                                             reach the Rio Grande,” said another.
time, but Nature proved to be too strong for him.
For three days and three nights he had allowed                  “Fear not for water,” cried a third. “He who
himself neither rest nor repose. Slowly the eyelids          could draw it from the rocks will not now aban-
drooped over the tired eyes, and the head sunk               don His own chosen people.”
lower and lower upon the breast, until the man’s                “Amen! Amen!” responded the whole party.
grizzled beard was mixed with the gold tresses of                 They were about to resume their journey when
his companion, and both slept the same deep and              one of the youngest and keenest-eyed uttered an
dreamless slumber.                                           exclamation and pointed up at the rugged crag
    Had the wanderer remained awake for another              above them. From its summit there fluttered a
half hour a strange sight would have met his eyes.           little wisp of pink, showing up hard and bright
Far away on the extreme verge of the alkali plain            against the grey rocks behind. At the sight there
there rose up a little spray of dust, very slight at         was a general reining up of horses and unslinging
first, and hardly to be distinguished from the mists          of guns, while fresh horsemen came galloping up
of the distance, but gradually growing higher and            to reinforce the vanguard. The word “Redskins”
broader until it formed a solid, well-defined cloud.          was on every lip.
This cloud continued to increase in size until it                “There can’t be any number of Injuns here,”
became evident that it could only be raised by               said the elderly man who appeared to be in com-
a great multitude of moving creatures. In more               mand. “We have passed the Pawnees, and there
fertile spots the observer would have come to the            are no other tribes until we cross the great moun-
conclusion that one of those great herds of bisons           tains.”
which graze upon the prairie land was approach-
                                                                “Shall I go forward and see, Brother Stanger-
ing him. This was obviously impossible in these
                                                             son,” asked one of the band.
arid wilds. As the whirl of dust drew nearer to the
solitary bluff upon which the two castaways were                “And I,” “and I,” cried a dozen voices.
reposing, the canvas-covered tilts of waggons and               “Leave your horses below and we will await
the figures of armed horsemen began to show up                you here,” the Elder answered. In a moment

                                                        39
                                             A Study In Scarlet

the young fellows had dismounted, fastened their              twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o’ thirst
horses, and were ascending the precipitous slope              and hunger away down in the south.”
which led up to the object which had excited                     “Is she your child?” asked someone.
their curiosity. They advanced rapidly and noise-
                                                                 “I guess she is now,” the other cried, defiantly;
lessly, with the confidence and dexterity of prac-
                                                              “she’s mine ’cause I saved her. No man will take
tised scouts. The watchers from the plain below
                                                              her from me. She’s Lucy Ferrier from this day
could see them flit from rock to rock until their
                                                              on. Who are you, though?” he continued, glancing
figures stood out against the skyline. The young
                                                              with curiosity at his stalwart, sunburned rescuers;
man who had first given the alarm was leading
                                                              “there seems to be a powerful lot of ye.”
them. Suddenly his followers saw him throw up
his hands, as though overcome with astonishment,                 “Nigh upon ten thousand,” said one of the
and on joining him they were affected in the same             young men; “we are the persecuted children of
way by the sight which met their eyes.                        God—the chosen of the Angel Merona.”
                                                                “I never heard tell on him,” said the wanderer.
    On the little plateau which crowned the barren            “He appears to have chosen a fair crowd of ye.”
hill there stood a single giant boulder, and against
this boulder there lay a tall man, long-bearded and               “Do not jest at that which is sacred,” said the
hard-featured, but of an excessive thinness. His              other sternly. “We are of those who believe in
placid face and regular breathing showed that he              those sacred writings, drawn in Egyptian letters
was fast asleep. Beside him lay a little child, with          on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto
her round white arms encircling his brown sinewy              the holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra. We have come
neck, and her golden haired head resting upon                 from Nauvoo, in the State of Illinois, where we
the breast of his velveteen tunic. Her rosy lips              had founded our temple. We have come to seek
were parted, showing the regular line of snow-                a refuge from the violent man and from the god-
white teeth within, and a playful smile played over           less, even though it be the heart of the desert.”
her infantile features. Her plump little white legs               The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recol-
terminating in white socks and neat shoes with                lections to John Ferrier. “I see,” he said, “you are
shining buckles, offered a strange contrast to the            the Mormons.”
long shrivelled members of her companion. On                     “We are the Mormons,” answered his compan-
the ledge of rock above this strange couple there             ions with one voice.
stood three solemn buzzards, who, at the sight of                “And where are you going?”
the new comers uttered raucous screams of disap-
pointment and flapped sullenly away.                              “We do not know. The hand of God is lead-
                                                              ing us under the person of our Prophet. You must
    The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleep-          come before him. He shall say what is to be done
ers who stared about them in bewilderment. The                with you.”
man staggered to his feet and looked down upon                    They had reached the base of the hill by
the plain which had been so desolate when sleep               this time, and were surrounded by crowds of
had overtaken him, and which was now traversed                the pilgrims—pale-faced meek-looking women,
by this enormous body of men and of beasts. His               strong laughing children, and anxious earnest-
face assumed an expression of incredulity as he               eyed men. Many were the cries of astonishment
gazed, and he passed his boney hand over his eyes.            and of commiseration which arose from them
“This is what they call delirium, I guess,” he mut-           when they perceived the youth of one of the
tered. The child stood beside him, holding on to              strangers and the destitution of the other. Their es-
the skirt of his coat, and said nothing but looked            cort did not halt, however, but pushed on, followed
all round her with the wondering questioning gaze             by a great crowd of Mormons, until they reached a
of childhood.                                                 waggon, which was conspicuous for its great size
   The rescuing party were speedily able to con-              and for the gaudiness and smartness of its appear-
vince the two castaways that their appearance was             ance. Six horses were yoked to it, whereas the
no delusion. One of them seized the little girl, and          others were furnished with two, or, at most, four
hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others               a-piece. Beside the driver there sat a man who
supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him               could not have been more than thirty years of age,
towards the waggons.                                          but whose massive head and resolute expression
                                                              marked him as a leader. He was reading a brown-
   “My name is John Ferrier,” the wanderer ex-                backed volume, but as the crowd approached he
plained; “me and that little un are all that’s left o’        laid it aside, and listened attentively to an account

                                                         40
                                           A Study In Scarlet

of the episode. Then he turned to the two cast-                 “On, on to Zion!” cried the crowd of Mormons,
aways.                                                      and the words rippled down the long caravan,
    “If we take you with us,” he said, in solemn            passing from mouth to mouth until they died away
words, “it can only be as believers in our own              in a dull murmur in the far distance. With a crack-
creed. We shall have no wolves in our fold. Better          ing of whips and a creaking of wheels the great
far that your bones should bleach in this wilder-           waggons got into motion, and soon the whole car-
ness than that you should prove to be that little           avan was winding along once more. The Elder to
speck of decay which in time corrupts the whole             whose care the two waifs had been committed, led
fruit. Will you come with us on these terms?”               them to his waggon, where a meal was already
    “Guess I’ll come with you on any terms,” said           awaiting them.
Ferrier, with such emphasis that the grave Elders
could not restrain a smile. The leader alone re-
tained his stern, impressive expression.                        “You shall remain here,” he said. “In a few
    “Take him, Brother Stangerson,” he said, “give          days you will have recovered from your fatigues.
him food and drink, and the child likewise. Let it          In the meantime, remember that now and forever
be your task also to teach him our holy creed. We           you are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it,
have delayed long enough. Forward! On, on to                and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith,
Zion!”                                                      which is the voice of God.”




                                            CHAPTER II.
                                        The Flower Of Utah

    This is not the place to commemorate the                In the town streets and squares sprang up, as if
trials and privations endured by the immigrant              by magic. In the country there was draining and
Mormons before they came to their final haven.               hedging, planting and clearing, until the next sum-
From the shores of the Mississippi to the west-             mer saw the whole country golden with the wheat
ern slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had strug-           crop. Everything prospered in the strange settle-
gled on with a constancy almost unparalleled in             ment. Above all, the great temple which they had
history. The savage man, and the savage beast,              erected in the centre of the city grew ever taller
hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease—every imped-           and larger. From the first blush of dawn until the
iment which Nature could place in the way—had               closing of the twilight, the clatter of the hammer
all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity. Yet            and the rasp of the saw was never absent from the
the long journey and the accumulated terrors had            monument which the immigrants erected to Him
shaken the hearts of the stoutest among them.               who had led them safe through many dangers.
There was not one who did not sink upon his
knees in heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad               The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little
valley of Utah bathed in the sunlight beneath               girl who had shared his fortunes and had been
them, and learned from the lips of their leader that        adopted as his daughter, accompanied the Mor-
this was the promised land, and that these virgin           mons to the end of their great pilgrimage. Little
acres were to be theirs for evermore.                       Lucy Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough
                                                            in Elder Stangerson’s waggon, a retreat which she
   Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful            shared with the Mormon’s three wives and with
administrator as well as a resolute chief. Maps             his son, a headstrong forward boy of twelve. Hav-
were drawn and charts prepared, in which the                ing rallied, with the elasticity of childhood, from
future city was sketched out. All around farms              the shock caused by her mother’s death, she soon
were apportioned and allotted in proportion to              became a pet with the women, and reconciled her-
the standing of each individual. The tradesman              self to this new life in her moving canvas-covered
was put to his trade and the artisan to his calling.        home. In the meantime Ferrier having recovered

                                                       41
                                            A Study In Scarlet

from his privations, distinguished himself as a use-         her father’s mustang, and managing it with all the
ful guide and an indefatigable hunter. So rapidly            ease and grace of a true child of the West. So the
did he gain the esteem of his new companions,                bud blossomed into a flower, and the year which
that when they reached the end of their wander-              saw her father the richest of the farmers left her as
ings, it was unanimously agreed that he should               fair a specimen of American girlhood as could be
be provided with as large and as fertile a tract of          found in the whole Pacific slope.
land as any of the settlers, with the exception of                It was not the father, however, who first discov-
Young himself, and of Stangerson, Kemball, John-             ered that the child had developed into the woman.
ston, and Drebber, who were the four principal El-           It seldom is in such cases. That mysterious change
ders.                                                        is too subtle and too gradual to be measured by
    On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built             dates. Least of all does the maiden herself know
himself a substantial log-house, which received so           it until the tone of a voice or the touch of a hand
many additions in succeeding years that it grew              sets her heart thrilling within her, and she learns,
into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practi-                with a mixture of pride and of fear, that a new and
cal turn of mind, keen in his dealings and skil-             a larger nature has awoken within her. There are
ful with his hands. His iron constitution enabled            few who cannot recall that day and remember the
him to work morning and evening at improving                 one little incident which heralded the dawn of a
and tilling his lands. Hence it came about that his          new life. In the case of Lucy Ferrier the occasion
farm and all that belonged to him prospered ex-              was serious enough in itself, apart from its future
ceedingly. In three years he was better off than             influence on her destiny and that of many besides.
his neighbours, in six he was well-to-do, in nine                 It was a warm June morning, and the Latter
he was rich, and in twelve there were not half a             Day Saints were as busy as the bees whose hive
dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City who                 they have chosen for their emblem. In the fields
could compare with him. From the great inland                and in the streets rose the same hum of human in-
sea to the distant Wahsatch Mountains there was              dustry. Down the dusty high roads defiled long
no name better known than that of John Ferrier.              streams of heavily-laden mules, all heading to the
                                                             west, for the gold fever had broken out in Cal-
    There was one way and only one in which he               ifornia, and the Overland Route lay through the
offended the susceptibilities of his co-religionists.        City of the Elect. There, too, were droves of sheep
No argument or persuasion could ever induce him              and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture
to set up a female establishment after the manner            lands, and trains of tired immigrants, men and
of his companions. He never gave reasons for this            horses equally weary of their interminable jour-
persistent refusal, but contented himself by res-            ney. Through all this motley assemblage, thread-
olutely and inflexibly adhering to his determina-             ing her way with the skill of an accomplished rider,
tion. There were some who accused him of luke-               there galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair face flushed
warmness in his adopted religion, and others who             with the exercise and her long chestnut hair float-
put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to             ing out behind her. She had a commission from
incur expense. Others, again, spoke of some early            her father in the City, and was dashing in as she
love affair, and of a fair-haired girl who had pined         had done many a time before, with all the fearless-
away on the shores of the Atlantic. Whatever the             ness of youth, thinking only of her task and how
reason, Ferrier remained strictly celibate. In every         it was to be performed. The travel-stained adven-
other respect he conformed to the religion of the            turers gazed after her in astonishment, and even
young settlement, and gained the name of being               the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their
an orthodox and straight-walking man.                        pelties, relaxed their accustomed stoicism as they
    Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and           marvelled at the beauty of the pale-faced maiden.
assisted her adopted father in all his undertakings.              She had reached the outskirts of the city when
The keen air of the mountains and the balsamic               she found the road blocked by a great drove of cat-
odour of the pine trees took the place of nurse and          tle, driven by a half-dozen wild-looking herdsmen
mother to the young girl. As year succeeded to               from the plains. In her impatience she endeav-
year she grew taller and stronger, her cheek more            oured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse
rudy, and her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer             into what appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had
upon the high road which ran by Ferrier’s farm               she got fairly into it, however, before the beasts
felt long-forgotten thoughts revive in their mind            closed in behind her, and she found herself com-
as they watched her lithe girlish figure tripping             pletely imbedded in the moving stream of fierce-
through the wheatfields, or met her mounted upon              eyed, long-horned bullocks. Accustomed as she

                                                        42
                                           A Study In Scarlet

was to deal with cattle, she was not alarmed at                “Neither would I,” said her companion.
her situation, but took advantage of every oppor-               “You! Well, I don’t see that it would make
tunity to urge her horse on in the hopes of push-           much matter to you, anyhow. You ain’t even a
ing her way through the cavalcade. Unfortunately            friend of ours.”
the horns of one of the creatures, either by acci-
                                                               The young hunter’s dark face grew so gloomy
dent or design, came in violent contact with the
                                                            over this remark that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud.
flank of the mustang, and excited it to madness.
In an instant it reared up upon its hind legs with             “There, I didn’t mean that,” she said; “of
a snort of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way            course, you are a friend now. You must come and
that would have unseated any but a most skilful             see us. Now I must push along, or father won’t
rider. The situation was full of peril. Every plunge        trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!”
of the excited horse brought it against the horns              “Good-bye,” he answered, raising his broad
again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all           sombrero, and bending over her little hand. She
that the girl could do to keep herself in the sad-          wheeled her mustang round, gave it a cut with
dle, yet a slip would mean a terrible death under           her riding-whip, and darted away down the broad
the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified animals.             road in a rolling cloud of dust.
Unaccustomed to sudden emergencies, her head                    Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his com-
began to swim, and her grip upon the bridle to              panions, gloomy and taciturn. He and they had
relax. Choked by the rising cloud of dust and by            been among the Nevada Mountains prospecting
the steam from the struggling creatures, she might          for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City in
have abandoned her efforts in despair, but for a            the hope of raising capital enough to work some
kindly voice at her elbow which assured her of              lodes which they had discovered. He had been
assistance. At the same moment a sinewy brown               as keen as any of them upon the business un-
hand caught the frightened horse by the curb, and           til this sudden incident had drawn his thoughts
forcing a way through the drove, soon brought her           into another channel. The sight of the fair young
to the outskirts.                                           girl, as frank and wholesome as the Sierra breezes,
   “You’re not hurt, I hope, miss,” said her pre-           had stirred his volcanic, untamed heart to its very
server, respectfully.                                       depths. When she had vanished from his sight,
                                                            he realized that a crisis had come in his life, and
   She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and
                                                            that neither silver speculations nor any other ques-
laughed saucily. “I’m awful frightened,” she said,
                                                            tions could ever be of such importance to him as
naively; “whoever would have thought that Pon-
                                                            this new and all-absorbing one. The love which
cho would have been so scared by a lot of cows?”
                                                            had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden,
    “Thank God you kept your seat,” the other said          changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the wild,
earnestly. He was a tall, savage-looking young fel-         fierce passion of a man of strong will and impe-
low, mounted on a powerful roan horse, and clad             rious temper. He had been accustomed to succeed
in the rough dress of a hunter, with a long rifle            in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart
slung over his shoulders. “I guess you are the              that he would not fail in this if human effort and
daughter of John Ferrier,” he remarked, “I saw you          human perseverance could render him successful.
ride down from his house. When you see him,                     He called on John Ferrier that night, and many
ask him if he remembers the Jefferson Hopes of St.          times again, until his face was a familiar one at
Louis. If he’s the same Ferrier, my father and he           the farm-house. John, cooped up in the valley,
were pretty thick.”                                         and absorbed in his work, had had little chance
   “Hadn’t you better come and ask yourself?”               of learning the news of the outside world dur-
she asked, demurely.                                        ing the last twelve years. All this Jefferson Hope
                                                            was able to tell him, and in a style which inter-
    The young fellow seemed pleased at the sug-
                                                            ested Lucy as well as her father. He had been a
gestion, and his dark eyes sparkled with pleasure.
                                                            pioneer in California, and could narrate many a
“I’ll do so,” he said, “we’ve been in the mountains
                                                            strange tale of fortunes made and fortunes lost in
for two months, and are not over and above in vis-
                                                            those wild, halcyon days. He had been a scout too,
iting condition. He must take us as he finds us.”
                                                            and a trapper, a silver explorer, and a ranchman.
   “He has a good deal to thank you for, and so             Wherever stirring adventures were to be had, Jef-
have I,” she answered, “he’s awful fond of me. If           ferson Hope had been there in search of them. He
those cows had jumped on me he’d have never got             soon became a favourite with the old farmer, who
over it.”                                                   spoke eloquently of his virtues. On such occasions,

                                                       43
                                           A Study In Scarlet

Lucy was silent, but her blushing cheek and her                “And how about father?” she asked.
bright, happy eyes, showed only too clearly that               “He has given his consent, provided we get
her young heart was no longer her own. Her hon-             these mines working all right. I have no fear on
est father may not have observed these symptoms,            that head.”
but they were assuredly not thrown away upon the
                                                               “Oh, well; of course, if you and father have ar-
man who had won her affections.
                                                            ranged it all, there’s no more to be said,” she whis-
   It was a summer evening when he came gallop-             pered, with her cheek against his broad breast.
ing down the road and pulled up at the gate. She
                                                                “Thank God!” he said, hoarsely, stooping and
was at the doorway, and came down to meet him.
                                                            kissing her. “It is settled, then. The longer I stay,
He threw the bridle over the fence and strode up
                                                            the harder it will be to go. They are waiting for me
the pathway.
                                                            at the canon. Good-bye, my own darling—good-
                                                                     ˜
    “I am off, Lucy,” he said, taking her two hands         bye. In two months you shall see me.”
in his, and gazing tenderly down into her face; “I
                                                               He tore himself from her as he spoke, and,
won’t ask you to come with me now, but will you
                                                            flinging himself upon his horse, galloped furiously
be ready to come when I am here again?”
                                                            away, never even looking round, as though afraid
   “And when will that be?” she asked, blushing             that his resolution might fail him if he took one
and laughing.                                               glance at what he was leaving. She stood at the
   “A couple of months at the outside. I will come          gate, gazing after him until he vanished from her
and claim you then, my darling. There’s no one              sight. Then she walked back into the house, the
who can stand between us.”                                  happiest girl in all Utah.




                                           CHAPTER III.
                             John Ferrier Talks With The Prophet

    Three weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope             secutors on their own account, and persecutors of
and his comrades had departed from Salt Lake                the most terrible description. Not the Inquisition
City. John Ferrier’s heart was sore within him              of Seville, nor the German Vehmgericht, nor the
when he thought of the young man’s return, and              Secret Societies of Italy, were ever able to put a
of the impending loss of his adopted child. Yet             more formidable machinery in motion than that
her bright and happy face reconciled him to the             which cast a cloud over the State of Utah.
arrangement more than any argument could have
done. He had always determined, deep down in                    Its invisibility, and the mystery which was at-
his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce          tached to it, made this organization doubly terri-
him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such             ble. It appeared to be omniscient and omnipotent,
a marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as        and yet was neither seen nor heard. The man who
a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think             held out against the Church vanished away, and
of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he             none knew whither he had gone or what had be-
was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the              fallen him. His wife and his children awaited him
subject, however, for to express an unorthodox              at home, but no father ever returned to tell them
opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in             how he had fared at the hands of his secret judges.
the Land of the Saints.                                     A rash word or a hasty act was followed by annihi-
    Yes, a dangerous matter—so dangerous that               lation, and yet none knew what the nature might
even the most saintly dared only whisper their re-          be of this terrible power which was suspended
ligious opinions with bated breath, lest something          over them. No wonder that men went about in
which fell from their lips might be misconstrued,           fear and trembling, and that even in the heart of
and bring down a swift retribution upon them.               the wilderness they dared not whisper the doubts
The victims of persecution had now turned per-              which oppressed them.

                                                       44
                                                     A Study In Scarlet

    At first this vague and terrible power was ex-                     with you, led you safe to the Chosen Valley, gave
ercised only upon the recalcitrants who, having                       you a goodly share of land, and allowed you to
embraced the Mormon faith, wished afterwards                          wax rich under our protection. Is not this so?”
to pervert or to abandon it. Soon, however, it                            “It is so,” answered John Ferrier.
took a wider range. The supply of adult women                             “In return for all this we asked but one condi-
was running short, and polygamy without a fe-                         tion: that was, that you should embrace the true
male population on which to draw was a bar-                           faith, and conform in every way to its usages. This
ren doctrine indeed. Strange rumours began to                         you promised to do, and this, if common report
be bandied about—rumours of murdered immi-                            says truly, you have neglected.”
grants and rifled camps in regions where Indians                           “And how have I neglected it?” asked Ferrier,
had never been seen. Fresh women appeared in                          throwing out his hands in expostulation. “Have
the harems of the Elders—women who pined and                          I not given to the common fund? Have I not at-
wept, and bore upon their faces the traces of an un-                  tended at the Temple? Have I not—?”
extinguishable horror. Belated wanderers upon the                         “Where are your wives?” asked Young, looking
mountains spoke of gangs of armed men, masked,                        round him. “Call them in, that I may greet them.”
stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by them in
                                                                          “It is true that I have not married,” Ferrier an-
the darkness. These tales and rumours took sub-
                                                                      swered. “But women were few, and there were
stance and shape, and were corroborated and re-
                                                                      many who had better claims than I. I was not a
corroborated, until they resolved themselves into
                                                                      lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my
a definite name. To this day, in the lonely ranches
                                                                      wants.”
of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the
Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened                          “It is of that daughter that I would speak to
one.                                                                  you,” said the leader of the Mormons. “She has
                                                                      grown to be the flower of Utah, and has found
    Fuller knowledge of the organization which                        favour in the eyes of many who are high in the
produced such terrible results served to increase                     land.”
rather than to lessen the horror which it inspired                        John Ferrier groaned internally.
in the minds of men. None knew who belonged                               “There are stories of her which I would fain dis-
to this ruthless society. The names of the partic-                    believe—stories that she is sealed to some Gentile.
ipators in the deeds of blood and violence done                       This must be the gossip of idle tongues. What is
under the name of religion were kept profoundly                       the thirteenth rule in the code of the sainted Joseph
secret. The very friend to whom you communi-                          Smith? ‘Let every maiden of the true faith marry
cated your misgivings as to the Prophet and his                       one of the elect; for if she wed a Gentile, she com-
mission, might be one of those who would come                         mits a grievous sin.’ This being so, it is impossible
forth at night with fire and sword to exact a terrible                 that you, who profess the holy creed, should suffer
reparation. Hence every man feared his neighbour,                     your daughter to violate it.”
and none spoke of the things which were nearest
                                                                          John Ferrier made no answer, but he played
his heart.
                                                                      nervously with his riding-whip.
    One fine morning, John Ferrier was about to set                        “Upon this one point your whole faith shall be
out to his wheatfields, when he heard the click of                     tested—so it has been decided in the Sacred Coun-
the latch, and, looking through the window, saw                       cil of Four. The girl is young, and we would not
a stout, sandy-haired, middle-aged man coming                         have her wed grey hairs, neither would we deprive
up the pathway. His heart leapt to his mouth, for                     her of all choice. We Elders have many heifers, 1
this was none other than the great Brigham Young                      but our children must also be provided. Stanger-
himself. Full of trepidation—for he knew that such                    son has a son, and Drebber has a son, and either
a visit boded him little good—Ferrier ran to the                      of them would gladly welcome your daughter to
door to greet the Mormon chief. The latter, how-                      their house. Let her choose between them. They
ever, received his salutations coldly, and followed                   are young and rich, and of the true faith. What say
him with a stern face into the sitting-room.                          you to that?”
   “Brother Ferrier,” he said, taking a seat, and                         Ferrier remained silent for some little time with
eyeing the farmer keenly from under his light-                        his brows knitted.
coloured eyelashes, “the true believers have been                         “You will give us time,” he said at last. “My
good friends to you. We picked you up when you                        daughter is very young—she is scarce of an age to
were starving in the desert, we shared our food                       marry.”
  1 Heber   C. Kemball, in one of his sermons, alludes to his hundred wives under this endearing epithet.


                                                                 45
                                            A Study In Scarlet

   “She shall have a month to choose,” said                     Lucy laughed through her tears at her father’s
Young, rising from his seat. “At the end of that             description.
time she shall give her answer.”                                “When he comes, he will advise us for the best.
   He was passing through the door, when he                  But it is for you that I am frightened, dear. One
turned, with flushed face and flashing eyes. “It               hears—one hears such dreadful stories about those
were better for you, John Ferrier,” he thundered,            who oppose the Prophet: something terrible al-
“that you and she were now lying blanched skele-             ways happens to them.”
tons upon the Sierra Blanco, than that you should               “But we haven’t opposed him yet,” her father
put your weak wills against the orders of the Holy           answered. “It will be time to look out for squalls
Four!”                                                       when we do. We have a clear month before us; at
   With a threatening gesture of his hand, he                the end of that, I guess we had best shin out of
turned from the door, and Ferrier heard his heavy            Utah.”
step scrunching along the shingly path.                         “Leave Utah!”
    He was still sitting with his elbows upon his               “That’s about the size of it.”
knees, considering how he should broach the mat-                “But the farm?”
ter to his daughter when a soft hand was laid
upon his, and looking up, he saw her standing be-                “We will raise as much as we can in money, and
side him. One glance at her pale, frightened face            let the rest go. To tell the truth, Lucy, it isn’t the
showed him that she had heard what had passed.               first time I have thought of doing it. I don’t care
                                                             about knuckling under to any man, as these folk
   “I could not help it,” she said, in answer to his         do to their darned prophet. I’m a free-born Amer-
look. “His voice rang through the house. Oh, fa-             ican, and it’s all new to me. Guess I’m too old to
ther, father, what shall we do?”                             learn. If he comes browsing about this farm, he
   “Don’t you scare yourself,” he answered, draw-            might chance to run up against a charge of buck-
ing her to him, and passing his broad, rough hand            shot travelling in the opposite direction.”
caressingly over her chestnut hair. “We’ll fix it up              “But they won’t let us leave,” his daughter ob-
somehow or another. You don’t find your fancy                 jected.
kind o’ lessening for this chap, do you?”
                                                                 “Wait till Jefferson comes, and we’ll soon man-
   A sob and a squeeze of his hand was her only              age that. In the meantime, don’t you fret yourself,
answer.                                                      my dearie, and don’t get your eyes swelled up, else
    “No; of course not. I shouldn’t care to hear you         he’ll be walking into me when he sees you. There’s
say you did. He’s a likely lad, and he’s a Christian,        nothing to be afeared about, and there’s no danger
which is more than these folk here, in spite o’ all          at all.”
their praying and preaching. There’s a party start-              John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in
ing for Nevada to-morrow, and I’ll manage to send            a very confident tone, but she could not help ob-
him a message letting him know the hole we are               serving that he paid unusual care to the fasten-
in. If I know anything o’ that young man, he’ll be           ing of the doors that night, and that he carefully
back here with a speed that would whip electro-              cleaned and loaded the rusty old shotgun which
telegraphs.”                                                 hung upon the wall of his bedroom.




                                            CHAPTER IV.
                                           A Flight For Life

    On the morning which followed his interview              who was bound for the Nevada Mountains, he en-
with the Mormon Prophet, John Ferrier went in to             trusted him with his message to Jefferson Hope.
Salt Lake City, and having found his acquaintance,           In it he told the young man of the imminent dan-


                                                        46
                                            A Study In Scarlet

ger which threatened them, and how necessary it              them for the maiden’s hand was the highest of
was that he should return. Having done thus he               honours both to her and her father.
felt easier in his mind, and returned home with a               “There are two ways out of the room,” cried
lighter heart.                                               Ferrier; “there is the door, and there is the win-
    As he approached his farm, he was surprised to           dow. Which do you care to use?”
see a horse hitched to each of the posts of the gate.
                                                                His brown face looked so savage, and his gaunt
Still more surprised was he on entering to find
                                                             hands so threatening, that his visitors sprang to
two young men in possession of his sitting-room.
                                                             their feet and beat a hurried retreat. The old
One, with a long pale face, was leaning back in
                                                             farmer followed them to the door.
the rocking-chair, with his feet cocked up upon the
stove. The other, a bull-necked youth with coarse                “Let me know when you have settled which it
bloated features, was standing in front of the win-          is to be,” he said, sardonically.
dow with his hands in his pocket, whistling a pop-              “You shall smart for this!” Stangerson cried,
ular hymn. Both of them nodded to Ferrier as                 white with rage. “You have defied the Prophet and
he entered, and the one in the rocking-chair com-            the Council of Four. You shall rue it to the end of
menced the conversation.                                     your days.”
    “Maybe you don’t know us,” he said. “This                   “The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon
here is the son of Elder Drebber, and I’m Joseph             you,” cried young Drebber; “He will arise and
Stangerson, who travelled with you in the desert             smite you!”
when the Lord stretched out His hand and gath-
ered you into the true fold.”                                    “Then I’ll start the smiting,” exclaimed Ferrier
                                                             furiously, and would have rushed upstairs for his
    “As He will all the nations in His own good
                                                             gun had not Lucy seized him by the arm and re-
time,” said the other in a nasal voice; “He grindeth
                                                             strained him. Before he could escape from her, the
slowly but exceeding small.”
                                                             clatter of horses’ hoofs told him that they were be-
    John Ferrier bowed coldly. He had guessed                yond his reach.
who his visitors were.
                                                                “The young canting rascals!” he exclaimed,
    “We have come,” continued Stangerson, “at the            wiping the perspiration from his forehead; “I
advice of our fathers to solicit the hand of your            would sooner see you in your grave, my girl, than
daughter for whichever of us may seem good to                the wife of either of them.”
you and to her. As I have but four wives and
Brother Drebber here has seven, it appears to me                “And so should I, father,” she answered, with
that my claim is the stronger one.”                          spirit; “but Jefferson will soon be here.”
    “Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson,” cried the other;            “Yes. It will not be long before he comes. The
“the question is not how many wives we have, but             sooner the better, for we do not know what their
how many we can keep. My father has now given                next move may be.”
over his mills to me, and I am the richer man.”                  It was, indeed, high time that someone capable
    “But my prospects are better,” said the other,           of giving advice and help should come to the aid
warmly. “When the Lord removes my father, I                  of the sturdy old farmer and his adopted daugh-
shall have his tanning yard and his leather fac-             ter. In the whole history of the settlement there
tory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the             had never been such a case of rank disobedience
Church.”                                                     to the authority of the Elders. If minor errors were
    “It will be for the maiden to decide,” rejoined          punished so sternly, what would be the fate of this
young Drebber, smirking at his own reflection in              arch rebel. Ferrier knew that his wealth and posi-
the glass. “We will leave it all to her decision.”           tion would be of no avail to him. Others as well
                                                             known and as rich as himself had been spirited
    During this dialogue, John Ferrier had stood
                                                             away before now, and their goods given over to the
fuming in the doorway, hardly able to keep his
                                                             Church. He was a brave man, but he trembled at
riding-whip from the backs of his two visitors.
                                                             the vague, shadowy terrors which hung over him.
    “Look here,” he said at last, striding up to             Any known danger he could face with a firm lip,
them, “when my daughter summons you, you can                 but this suspense was unnerving. He concealed his
come, but until then I don’t want to see your faces          fears from his daughter, however, and affected to
again.”                                                      make light of the whole matter, though she, with
    The two young Mormons stared at him in                   the keen eye of love, saw plainly that he was ill at
amazement. In their eyes this competition between            ease.

                                                        47
                                            A Study In Scarlet

    He expected that he would receive some mes-              came no sign of him. Whenever a horseman clat-
sage or remonstrance from Young as to his con-               tered down the road, or a driver shouted at his
duct, and he was not mistaken, though it came in             team, the old farmer hurried to the gate think-
an unlooked-for manner. Upon rising next morn-               ing that help had arrived at last. At last, when
ing he found, to his surprise, a small square of pa-         he saw five give way to four and that again to
per pinned on to the coverlet of his bed just over           three, he lost heart, and abandoned all hope of es-
his chest. On it was printed, in bold straggling             cape. Single-handed, and with his limited knowl-
letters:—                                                    edge of the mountains which surrounded the set-
                                                             tlement, he knew that he was powerless. The
  “Twenty-nine days are given you for amend-
                                                             more-frequented roads were strictly watched and
ment, and then—”
                                                             guarded, and none could pass along them with-
    The dash was more fear-inspiring than any                out an order from the Council. Turn which way he
threat could have been. How this warning came                would, there appeared to be no avoiding the blow
into his room puzzled John Ferrier sorely, for his           which hung over him. Yet the old man never wa-
servants slept in an outhouse, and the doors and             vered in his resolution to part with life itself before
windows had all been secured. He crumpled the                he consented to what he regarded as his daugh-
paper up and said nothing to his daughter, but the           ter’s dishonour.
incident struck a chill into his heart. The twenty-
                                                                 He was sitting alone one evening pondering
nine days were evidently the balance of the month
                                                             deeply over his troubles, and searching vainly for
which Young had promised. What strength or
                                                             some way out of them. That morning had shown
courage could avail against an enemy armed with
                                                             the figure 2 upon the wall of his house, and the
such mysterious powers? The hand which fas-
                                                             next day would be the last of the allotted time.
tened that pin might have struck him to the heart,
                                                             What was to happen then? All manner of vague
and he could never have known who had slain
                                                             and terrible fancies filled his imagination. And his
him.
                                                             daughter—what was to become of her after he was
   Still more shaken was he next morning. They               gone? Was there no escape from the invisible net-
had sat down to their breakfast when Lucy with a             work which was drawn all round them. He sank
cry of surprise pointed upwards. In the centre of            his head upon the table and sobbed at the thought
the ceiling was scrawled, with a burned stick ap-            of his own impotence.
parently, the number 28. To his daughter it was
                                                                 What was that? In the silence he heard a gen-
unintelligible, and he did not enlighten her. That
                                                             tle scratching sound—low, but very distinct in the
night he sat up with his gun and kept watch and
                                                             quiet of the night. It came from the door of the
ward. He saw and he heard nothing, and yet in
                                                             house. Ferrier crept into the hall and listened in-
the morning a great 27 had been painted upon the
                                                             tently. There was a pause for a few moments, and
outside of his door.
                                                             then the low insidious sound was repeated. Some-
    Thus day followed day; and as sure as morning            one was evidently tapping very gently upon one of
came he found that his unseen enemies had kept               the panels of the door. Was it some midnight as-
their register, and had marked up in some con-               sassin who had come to carry out the murderous
spicuous position how many days were still left to           orders of the secret tribunal? Or was it some agent
him out of the month of grace. Sometimes the fa-             who was marking up that the last day of grace had
tal numbers appeared upon the walls, sometimes               arrived. John Ferrier felt that instant death would
upon the floors, occasionally they were on small              be better than the suspense which shook his nerves
placards stuck upon the garden gate or the rail-             and chilled his heart. Springing forward he drew
ings. With all his vigilance John Ferrier could not          the bolt and threw the door open.
discover whence these daily warnings proceeded.
                                                                 Outside all was calm and quiet. The night
A horror which was almost superstitious came
                                                             was fine, and the stars were twinkling brightly
upon him at the sight of them. He became hag-
                                                             overhead. The little front garden lay before the
gard and restless, and his eyes had the troubled
                                                             farmer’s eyes bounded by the fence and gate, but
look of some hunted creature. He had but one
                                                             neither there nor on the road was any human be-
hope in life now, and that was for the arrival of the
                                                             ing to be seen. With a sigh of relief, Ferrier looked
young hunter from Nevada.
                                                             to right and to left, until happening to glance
   Twenty had changed to fifteen and fifteen to                straight down at his own feet he saw to his aston-
ten, but there was no news of the absentee. One by           ishment a man lying flat upon his face upon the
one the numbers dwindled down, and still there               ground, with arms and legs all asprawl.

                                                        48
                                           A Study In Scarlet

    So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned          packed all the eatables that he could find into a
up against the wall with his hand to his throat to          small parcel, and filled a stoneware jar with wa-
stifle his inclination to call out. His first thought         ter, for he knew by experience that the mountain
was that the prostrate figure was that of some               wells were few and far between. He had hardly
wounded or dying man, but as he watched it he               completed his arrangements before the farmer re-
saw it writhe along the ground and into the hall            turned with his daughter all dressed and ready for
with the rapidity and noiselessness of a serpent.           a start. The greeting between the lovers was warm,
Once within the house the man sprang to his feet,           but brief, for minutes were precious, and there was
closed the door, and revealed to the astonished             much to be done.
farmer the fierce face and resolute expression of                “We must make our start at once,” said Jeffer-
Jefferson Hope.                                             son Hope, speaking in a low but resolute voice,
   “Good God!” gasped John Ferrier. “How you                like one who realizes the greatness of the peril,
scared me! Whatever made you come in like that.”            but has steeled his heart to meet it. “The front
    “Give me food,” the other said, hoarsely. “I            and back entrances are watched, but with caution
have had no time for bite or sup for eight-and-forty        we may get away through the side window and
hours.” He flung himself upon the cold meat and              across the fields. Once on the road we are only two
bread which were still lying upon the table from            miles from the Ravine where the horses are wait-
his host’s supper, and devoured it voraciously.             ing. By daybreak we should be half-way through
“Does Lucy bear up well?” he asked, when he had             the mountains.”
satisfied his hunger.                                           “What if we are stopped,” asked Ferrier.
   “Yes. She does not know the danger,” her fa-                Hope slapped the revolver butt which pro-
ther answered.                                              truded from the front of his tunic. “If they are
                                                            too many for us we shall take two or three of them
   “That is well. The house is watched on every
                                                            with us,” he said with a sinister smile.
side. That is why I crawled my way up to it. They
may be darned sharp, but they’re not quite sharp               The lights inside the house had all been extin-
enough to catch a Washoe hunter.”                           guished, and from the darkened window Ferrier
                                                            peered over the fields which had been his own,
   John Ferrier felt a different man now that he            and which he was now about to abandon for ever.
realized that he had a devoted ally. He seized the          He had long nerved himself to the sacrifice, how-
young man’s leathery hand and wrung it cordially.           ever, and the thought of the honour and happiness
“You’re a man to be proud of,” he said. “There are          of his daughter outweighed any regret at his ru-
not many who would come to share our danger                 ined fortunes. All looked so peaceful and happy,
and our troubles.”                                          the rustling trees and the broad silent stretch of
    “You’ve hit it there, pard,” the young hunter           grain-land, that it was difficult to realize that the
answered. “I have a respect for you, but if you             spirit of murder lurked through it all. Yet the
were alone in this business I’d think twice before          white face and set expression of the young hunter
I put my head into such a hornet’s nest. It’s Lucy          showed that in his approach to the house he had
that brings me here, and before harm comes on her           seen enough to satisfy him upon that head.
I guess there will be one less o’ the Hope family in            Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes, Jef-
Utah.”                                                      ferson Hope had the scanty provisions and water,
   “What are we to do?”                                     while Lucy had a small bundle containing a few
    “To-morrow is your last day, and unless you             of her more valued possessions. Opening the win-
act to-night you are lost. I have a mule and two            dow very slowly and carefully, they waited until a
horses waiting in the Eagle Ravine. How much                dark cloud had somewhat obscured the night, and
money have you?”                                            then one by one passed through into the little gar-
                                                            den. With bated breath and crouching figures they
   “Two thousand dollars in gold, and five in                stumbled across it, and gained the shelter of the
notes.”                                                     hedge, which they skirted until they came to the
    “That will do. I have as much more to add to it.        gap which opened into the cornfields. They had
We must push for Carson City through the moun-              just reached this point when the young man seized
tains. You had best wake Lucy. It is as well that           his two companions and dragged them down into
the servants do not sleep in the house.”                    the shadow, where they lay silent and trembling.
    While Ferrier was absent, preparing his daugh-             It was as well that his prairie training had
ter for the approaching journey, Jefferson Hope             given Jefferson Hope the ears of a lynx. He and

                                                       49
                                           A Study In Scarlet

his friends had hardly crouched down before the                It was a bewildering route for anyone who
melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was heard             was not accustomed to face Nature in her wildest
within a few yards of them, which was imme-                moods. On the one side a great crag towered up
diately answered by another hoot at a small dis-           a thousand feet or more, black, stern, and menac-
tance. At the same moment a vague shadowy fig-              ing, with long basaltic columns upon its rugged
ure emerged from the gap for which they had been           surface like the ribs of some petrified monster. On
making, and uttered the plaintive signal cry again,        the other hand a wild chaos of boulders and debris
on which a second man appeared out of the ob-              made all advance impossible. Between the two ran
scurity.                                                   the irregular track, so narrow in places that they
    “To-morrow at midnight,” said the first who             had to travel in Indian file, and so rough that only
appeared to be in authority. “When the Whip-               practised riders could have traversed it at all. Yet
poor-Will calls three times.”                              in spite of all dangers and difficulties, the hearts
    “It is well,” returned the other. “Shall I tell        of the fugitives were light within them, for every
Brother Drebber?”                                          step increased the distance between them and the
                                                           terrible despotism from which they were flying.
    “Pass it on to him, and from him to the others.
Nine to seven!”                                                 They soon had a proof, however, that they were
                                                           still within the jurisdiction of the Saints. They
    “Seven to five!” repeated the other, and the two
                                                           had reached the very wildest and most desolate
figures flitted away in different directions. Their
                                                           portion of the pass when the girl gave a star-
concluding words had evidently been some form
                                                           tled cry, and pointed upwards. On a rock which
of sign and countersign. The instant that their
                                                           overlooked the track, showing out dark and plain
footsteps had died away in the distance, Jeffer-
                                                           against the sky, there stood a solitary sentinel.
son Hope sprang to his feet, and helping his com-
                                                           He saw them as soon as they perceived him, and
panions through the gap, led the way across the
                                                           his military challenge of “Who goes there?” rang
fields at the top of his speed, supporting and half-
                                                           through the silent ravine.
carrying the girl when her strength appeared to
fail her.                                                     “Travellers for Nevada,” said Jefferson Hope,
                                                           with his hand upon the rifle which hung by his
    “Hurry on! hurry on!” he gasped from time to
                                                           saddle.
time. “We are through the line of sentinels. Every-
thing depends on speed. Hurry on!”                            They could see the lonely watcher fingering his
    Once on the high road they made rapid                  gun, and peering down at them as if dissatisfied at
progress. Only once did they meet anyone, and              their reply.
then they managed to slip into a field, and so avoid           “By whose permission?” he asked.
recognition. Before reaching the town the hunter              “The Holy Four,” answered Ferrier. His Mor-
branched away into a rugged and narrow foot-               mon experiences had taught him that that was the
path which led to the mountains. Two dark jagged           highest authority to which he could refer.
peaks loomed above them through the darkness,
                                                              “Nine from seven,” cried the sentinel.
and the defile which led between them was the Ea-
gle Canon in which the horses were awaiting them.
       ˜                                                      “Seven from five,” returned Jefferson Hope
With unerring instinct Jefferson Hope picked his           promptly, remembering the countersign which he
way among the great boulders and along the bed             had heard in the garden.
of a dried-up watercourse, until he came to the re-            “Pass, and the Lord go with you,” said the
tired corner, screened with rocks, where the faith-        voice from above. Beyond his post the path broad-
ful animals had been picketed. The girl was placed         ened out, and the horses were able to break into
upon the mule, and old Ferrier upon one of the             a trot. Looking back, they could see the solitary
horses, with his money-bag, while Jefferson Hope           watcher leaning upon his gun, and knew that they
led the other along the precipitous and dangerous          had passed the outlying post of the chosen people,
path.                                                      and that freedom lay before them.




                                                      50
                                            A Study In Scarlet

                                             CHAPTER V.
                                        The Avenging Angels

    All night their course lay through intricate             out. This gave the hunter little uneasiness, how-
defiles and over irregular and rock-strewn paths.             ever, for there was game to be had among the
More than once they lost their way, but Hope’s in-           mountains, and he had frequently before had to
timate knowledge of the mountains enabled them               depend upon his rifle for the needs of life. Choos-
to regain the track once more. When morning                  ing a sheltered nook, he piled together a few
broke, a scene of marvellous though savage beauty            dried branches and made a blazing fire, at which
lay before them. In every direction the great snow-          his companions might warm themselves, for they
capped peaks hemmed them in, peeping over each               were now nearly five thousand feet above the sea
other’s shoulders to the far horizon. So steep were          level, and the air was bitter and keen. Having teth-
the rocky banks on either side of them, that the             ered the horses, and bade Lucy adieu, he threw
larch and the pine seemed to be suspended over               his gun over his shoulder, and set out in search of
their heads, and to need only a gust of wind to              whatever chance might throw in his way. Look-
come hurtling down upon them. Nor was the                    ing back he saw the old man and the young girl
fear entirely an illusion, for the barren valley was         crouching over the blazing fire, while the three an-
thickly strewn with trees and boulders which had             imals stood motionless in the back-ground. Then
fallen in a similar manner. Even as they passed,             the intervening rocks hid them from his view.
a great rock came thundering down with a hoarse
                                                                 He walked for a couple of miles through one
rattle which woke the echoes in the silent gorges,
                                                             ravine after another without success, though from
and startled the weary horses into a gallop.
                                                             the marks upon the bark of the trees, and other
    As the sun rose slowly above the eastern hori-           indications, he judged that there were numerous
zon, the caps of the great mountains lit up one              bears in the vicinity. At last, after two or three
after the other, like lamps at a festival, until they        hours’ fruitless search, he was thinking of turning
were all ruddy and glowing. The magnificent                   back in despair, when casting his eyes upwards he
spectacle cheered the hearts of the three fugitives          saw a sight which sent a thrill of pleasure through
and gave them fresh energy. At a wild torrent                his heart. On the edge of a jutting pinnacle, three
which swept out of a ravine they called a halt and           or four hundred feet above him, there stood a crea-
watered their horses, while they partook of a hasty          ture somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance,
breakfast. Lucy and her father would fain have               but armed with a pair of gigantic horns. The big-
rested longer, but Jefferson Hope was inexorable.            horn—for so it is called—was acting, probably, as
“They will be upon our track by this time,” he said.         a guardian over a flock which were invisible to the
“Everything depends upon our speed. Once safe                hunter; but fortunately it was heading in the oppo-
in Carson we may rest for the remainder of our               site direction, and had not perceived him. Lying
lives.”                                                      on his face, he rested his rifle upon a rock, and
                                                             took a long and steady aim before drawing the
    During the whole of that day they struggled              trigger. The animal sprang into the air, tottered
on through the defiles, and by evening they calcu-            for a moment upon the edge of the precipice, and
lated that they were more than thirty miles from             then came crashing down into the valley beneath.
their enemies. At night-time they chose the base
of a beetling crag, where the rocks offered some                 The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the
protection from the chill wind, and there huddled            hunter contented himself with cutting away one
together for warmth, they enjoyed a few hours’               haunch and part of the flank. With this trophy
sleep. Before daybreak, however, they were up and            over his shoulder, he hastened to retrace his steps,
on their way once more. They had seen no signs               for the evening was already drawing in. He had
of any pursuers, and Jefferson Hope began to think           hardly started, however, before he realized the dif-
that they were fairly out of the reach of the terri-         ficulty which faced him. In his eagerness he had
ble organization whose enmity they had incurred.             wandered far past the ravines which were known
He little knew how far that iron grasp could reach,          to him, and it was no easy matter to pick out the
or how soon it was to close upon them and crush              path which he had taken. The valley in which he
them.                                                        found himself divided and sub-divided into many
                                                             gorges, which were so like each other that it was
   About the middle of the second day of their               impossible to distinguish one from the other. He
flight their scanty store of provisions began to run          followed one for a mile or more until he came to

                                                        51
                                           A Study In Scarlet

a mountain torrent which he was sure that he had            men had overtaken the fugitives, and the direction
never seen before. Convinced that he had taken              of their tracks proved that they had afterwards
the wrong turn, he tried another, but with the              turned back to Salt Lake City. Had they carried
same result. Night was coming on rapidly, and               back both of his companions with them? Jeffer-
it was almost dark before he at last found him-             son Hope had almost persuaded himself that they
self in a defile which was familiar to him. Even             must have done so, when his eye fell upon an ob-
then it was no easy matter to keep to the right             ject which made every nerve of his body tingle
track, for the moon had not yet risen, and the high         within him. A little way on one side of the camp
cliffs on either side made the obscurity more pro-          was a low-lying heap of reddish soil, which had
found. Weighed down with his burden, and weary              assuredly not been there before. There was no mis-
from his exertions, he stumbled along, keeping up           taking it for anything but a newly-dug grave. As
his heart by the reflection that every step brought          the young hunter approached it, he perceived that
him nearer to Lucy, and that he carried with him            a stick had been planted on it, with a sheet of pa-
enough to ensure them food for the remainder of             per stuck in the cleft fork of it. The inscription
their journey.                                              upon the paper was brief, but to the point:
    He had now come to the mouth of the very                                    JOHN FERRIER,
defile in which he had left them. Even in the dark-                      Formerly of Salt Lake City,
ness he could recognize the outline of the cliffs                           Died August 4th, 1860.
which bounded it. They must, he reflected, be                The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short
awaiting him anxiously, for he had been absent              a time before, was gone, then, and this was all
nearly five hours. In the gladness of his heart he           his epitaph. Jefferson Hope looked wildly round
put his hands to his mouth and made the glen                to see if there was a second grave, but there was
re-echo to a loud halloo as a signal that he was            no sign of one. Lucy had been carried back by
coming. He paused and listened for an answer.               their terrible pursuers to fulfil her original destiny,
None came save his own cry, which clattered up              by becoming one of the harem of the Elder’s son.
the dreary silent ravines, and was borne back to            As the young fellow realized the certainty of her
his ears in countless repetitions. Again he shouted,        fate, and his own powerlessness to prevent it, he
even louder than before, and again no whisper               wished that he, too, was lying with the old farmer
came back from the friends whom he had left                 in his last silent resting-place.
such a short time ago. A vague, nameless dread
                                                                Again, however, his active spirit shook off the
came over him, and he hurried onwards frantically,
                                                            lethargy which springs from despair. If there was
dropping the precious food in his agitation.
                                                            nothing else left to him, he could at least devote
    When he turned the corner, he came full in              his life to revenge. With indomitable patience
sight of the spot where the fire had been lit. There         and perseverance, Jefferson Hope possessed also a
was still a glowing pile of wood ashes there, but it        power of sustained vindictiveness, which he may
had evidently not been tended since his departure.          have learned from the Indians amongst whom he
The same dead silence still reigned all round. With         had lived. As he stood by the desolate fire, he
his fears all changed to convictions, he hurried on.        felt that the only one thing which could assuage
There was no living creature near the remains of            his grief would be thorough and complete retri-
the fire: animals, man, maiden, all were gone. It            bution, brought by his own hand upon his ene-
was only too clear that some sudden and terrible            mies. His strong will and untiring energy should,
disaster had occurred during his absence—a disas-           he determined, be devoted to that one end. With
ter which had embraced them all, and yet had left           a grim, white face, he retraced his steps to where
no traces behind it.                                        he had dropped the food, and having stirred up
                                                            the smouldering fire, he cooked enough to last
   Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jeffer-
                                                            him for a few days. This he made up into a bun-
son Hope felt his head spin round, and had to
                                                            dle, and, tired as he was, he set himself to walk
lean upon his rifle to save himself from falling.
                                                            back through the mountains upon the track of the
He was essentially a man of action, however, and
                                                            avenging angels.
speedily recovered from his temporary impotence.
Seizing a half-consumed piece of wood from the                  For five days he toiled footsore and weary
smouldering fire, he blew it into a flame, and pro-           through the defiles which he had already traversed
ceeded with its help to examine the little camp.            on horseback. At night he flung himself down
The ground was all stamped down by the feet                 among the rocks, and snatched a few hours of
of horses, showing that a large party of mounted            sleep; but before daybreak he was always well on

                                                       52
                                           A Study In Scarlet

his way. On the sixth day, he reached the Eagle            best claim; but when they argued it out in council,
Canon, from which they had commenced their ill-
   ˜                                                       Drebber’s party was the stronger, so the Prophet
fated flight. Thence he could look down upon                gave her over to him. No one won’t have her very
the home of the saints. Worn and exhausted, he             long though, for I saw death in her face yesterday.
leaned upon his rifle and shook his gaunt hand              She is more like a ghost than a woman. Are you
fiercely at the silent widespread city beneath him.         off, then?”
As he looked at it, he observed that there were                “Yes, I am off,” said Jefferson Hope, who had
flags in some of the principal streets, and other           risen from his seat. His face might have been chis-
signs of festivity. He was still speculating as to         elled out of marble, so hard and set was its expres-
what this might mean when he heard the clatter             sion, while its eyes glowed with a baleful light.
of horse’s hoofs, and saw a mounted man riding                 “Where are you going?”
towards him. As he approached, he recognized                   “Never mind,” he answered; and, slinging his
him as a Mormon named Cowper, to whom he                   weapon over his shoulder, strode off down the
had rendered services at different times. He there-        gorge and so away into the heart of the mountains
fore accosted him when he got up to him, with the          to the haunts of the wild beasts. Amongst them
object of finding out what Lucy Ferrier’s fate had          all there was none so fierce and so dangerous as
been.                                                      himself.
   “I am Jefferson Hope,” he said. “You remem-                 The prediction of the Mormon was only too
ber me.”                                                   well fulfilled. Whether it was the terrible death
    The Mormon looked at him with undisguised              of her father or the effects of the hateful marriage
astonishment—indeed, it was difficult to recognize          into which she had been forced, poor Lucy never
in this tattered, unkempt wanderer, with ghastly           held up her head again, but pined away and died
white face and fierce, wild eyes, the spruce young          within a month. Her sottish husband, who had
hunter of former days. Having, however, at last,           married her principally for the sake of John Fer-
satisfied himself as to his identity, the man’s sur-        rier’s property, did not affect any great grief at his
prise changed to consternation.                            bereavement; but his other wives mourned over
                                                           her, and sat up with her the night before the burial,
   “You are mad to come here,” he cried. “It is as
                                                           as is the Mormon custom. They were grouped
much as my own life is worth to be seen talking
                                                           round the bier in the early hours of the morn-
with you. There is a warrant against you from the
                                                           ing, when, to their inexpressible fear and aston-
Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers away.”
                                                           ishment, the door was flung open, and a savage-
   “I don’t fear them, or their warrant,” Hope             looking, weather-beaten man in tattered garments
said, earnestly. “You must know something of this          strode into the room. Without a glance or a word
matter, Cowper. I conjure you by everything you            to the cowering women, he walked up to the white
hold dear to answer a few questions. We have al-           silent figure which had once contained the pure
ways been friends. For God’s sake, don’t refuse to         soul of Lucy Ferrier. Stooping over her, he pressed
answer me.”                                                his lips reverently to her cold forehead, and then,
   “What is it?” the Mormon asked uneasily. “Be            snatching up her hand, he took the wedding-ring
quick. The very rocks have ears and the trees              from her finger. “She shall not be buried in that,”
eyes.”                                                     he cried with a fierce snarl, and before an alarm
   “What has become of Lucy Ferrier?”                      could be raised sprang down the stairs and was
                                                           gone. So strange and so brief was the episode, that
   “She was married yesterday to young Drebber.
                                                           the watchers might have found it hard to believe it
Hold up, man, hold up, you have no life left in
                                                           themselves or persuade other people of it, had it
you.”
                                                           not been for the undeniable fact that the circlet of
    “Don’t mind me,” said Hope faintly. He was             gold which marked her as having been a bride had
white to the very lips, and had sunk down on the           disappeared.
stone against which he had been leaning. “Mar-                 For some months Jefferson Hope lingered
ried, you say?”                                            among the mountains, leading a strange wild
    “Married yesterday—that’s what those flags              life, and nursing in his heart the fierce desire for
are for on the Endowment House. There was some             vengeance which possessed him. Tales were told
words between young Drebber and young Stanger-             in the City of the weird figure which was seen
son as to which was to have her. They’d both been          prowling about the suburbs, and which haunted
in the party that followed them, and Stangerson            the lonely mountain gorges. Once a bullet whis-
had shot her father, which seemed to give him the          tled through Stangerson’s window and flattened

                                                      53
                                           A Study In Scarlet

itself upon the wall within a foot of him. On an-           his property into money, and that he had departed
other occasion, as Drebber passed under a cliff a           a wealthy man, while his companion, Stangerson,
great boulder crashed down on him, and he only              was comparatively poor. There was no clue at all,
escaped a terrible death by throwing himself upon           however, as to their whereabouts.
his face. The two young Mormons were not long                   Many a man, however vindictive, would have
in discovering the reason of these attempts upon            abandoned all thought of revenge in the face of
their lives, and led repeated expeditions into the          such a difficulty, but Jefferson Hope never faltered
mountains in the hope of capturing or killing their         for a moment. With the small competence he pos-
enemy, but always without success. Then they                sessed, eked out by such employment as he could
adopted the precaution of never going out alone or          pick up, he travelled from town to town through
after nightfall, and of having their houses guarded.        the United States in quest of his enemies. Year
After a time they were able to relax these mea-             passed into year, his black hair turned grizzled,
sures, for nothing was either heard or seen of their        but still he wandered on, a human bloodhound,
opponent, and they hoped that time had cooled               with his mind wholly set upon the one object upon
his vindictiveness.                                         which he had devoted his life. At last his per-
    Far from doing so, it had, if anything, aug-            severance was rewarded. It was but a glance of
mented it. The hunter’s mind was of a hard, un-             a face in a window, but that one glance told him
yielding nature, and the predominant idea of re-            that Cleveland in Ohio possessed the men whom
venge had taken such complete possession of it              he was in pursuit of. He returned to his miser-
that there was no room for any other emotion. He            able lodgings with his plan of vengeance all ar-
was, however, above all things practical. He soon           ranged. It chanced, however, that Drebber, look-
realized that even his iron constitution could not          ing from his window, had recognized the vagrant
stand the incessant strain which he was putting             in the street, and had read murder in his eyes. He
upon it. Exposure and want of wholesome food                hurried before a justice of the peace, accompanied
were wearing him out. If he died like a dog among           by Stangerson, who had become his private secre-
the mountains, what was to become of his revenge            tary, and represented to him that they were in dan-
then? And yet such a death was sure to overtake             ger of their lives from the jealousy and hatred of an
him if he persisted. He felt that that was to play          old rival. That evening Jefferson Hope was taken
his enemy’s game, so he reluctantly returned to the         into custody, and not being able to find sureties,
old Nevada mines, there to recruit his health and           was detained for some weeks. When at last he was
to amass money enough to allow him to pursue                liberated, it was only to find that Drebber’s house
his object without privation.                               was deserted, and that he and his secretary had
    His intention had been to be absent a year at           departed for Europe.
the most, but a combination of unforeseen circum-               Again the avenger had been foiled, and again
stances prevented his leaving the mines for nearly          his concentrated hatred urged him to continue the
five. At the end of that time, however, his memory           pursuit. Funds were wanting, however, and for
of his wrongs and his craving for revenge were              some time he had to return to work, saving every
quite as keen as on that memorable night when               dollar for his approaching journey. At last, hav-
he had stood by John Ferrier’s grave. Disguised,            ing collected enough to keep life in him, he de-
and under an assumed name, he returned to Salt              parted for Europe, and tracked his enemies from
Lake City, careless what became of his own life, as         city to city, working his way in any menial capac-
long as he obtained what he knew to be justice.             ity, but never overtaking the fugitives. When he
There he found evil tidings awaiting him. There             reached St. Petersburg they had departed for Paris;
had been a schism among the Chosen People a few             and when he followed them there he learned that
months before, some of the younger members of               they had just set off for Copenhagen. At the Dan-
the Church having rebelled against the authority            ish capital he was again a few days late, for they
of the Elders, and the result had been the secession        had journeyed on to London, where he at last suc-
of a certain number of the malcontents, who had             ceeded in running them to earth. As to what oc-
left Utah and become Gentiles. Among these had              curred there, we cannot do better than quote the
been Drebber and Stangerson; and no one knew                old hunter’s own account, as duly recorded in Dr.
whither they had gone. Rumour reported that                 Watson’s Journal, to which we are already under
Drebber had managed to convert a large part of              such obligations.




                                                       54
                                             A Study In Scarlet

                                             CHAPTER VI.
              A Continuation Of The Reminiscences Of John Watson, M.D.

    Our prisoner’s furious resistance did not                    “I’ve got a good deal to say,” our prisoner said
apparently indicate any ferocity in his disposition           slowly. “I want to tell you gentlemen all about it.”
towards ourselves, for on finding himself power-                  “Hadn’t you better reserve that for your trial?”
less, he smiled in an affable manner, and expressed           asked the Inspector.
his hopes that he had not hurt any of us in the
                                                                 “I may never be tried,” he answered. “You
scuffle. “I guess you’re going to take me to the
                                                              needn’t look startled. It isn’t suicide I am think-
police-station,” he remarked to Sherlock Holmes.
                                                              ing of. Are you a Doctor?” He turned his fierce
“My cab’s at the door. If you’ll loose my legs I’ll
                                                              dark eyes upon me as he asked this last question.
walk down to it. I’m not so light to lift as I used to
be.”                                                             “Yes; I am,” I answered.
                                                                 “Then put your hand here,” he said, with a
    Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances as if
                                                              smile, motioning with his manacled wrists to-
they thought this proposition rather a bold one;
                                                              wards his chest.
but Holmes at once took the prisoner at his word,
and loosened the towel which we had bound                         I did so; and became at once conscious of an ex-
round his ankles. He rose and stretched his legs, as          traordinary throbbing and commotion which was
though to assure himself that they were free once             going on inside. The walls of his chest seemed to
more. I remember that I thought to myself, as I               thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside
eyed him, that I had seldom seen a more power-                when some powerful engine was at work. In the
fully built man; and his dark sunburned face bore             silence of the room I could hear a dull humming
an expression of determination and energy which               and buzzing noise which proceeded from the same
was as formidable as his personal strength.                   source.
                                                                 “Why,” I cried, “you have an aortic aneurism!”
    “If there’s a vacant place for a chief of the po-
lice, I reckon you are the man for it,” he said,                  “That’s what they call it,” he said, placidly. “I
gazing with undisguised admiration at my fellow-              went to a Doctor last week about it, and he told me
lodger. “The way you kept on my trail was a cau-              that it is bound to burst before many days passed.
tion.”                                                        It has been getting worse for years. I got it from
                                                              over-exposure and under-feeding among the Salt
    “You had better come with me,” said Holmes                Lake Mountains. I’ve done my work now, and I
to the two detectives.                                        don’t care how soon I go, but I should like to leave
   “I can drive you,” said Lestrade.                          some account of the business behind me. I don’t
                                                              want to be remembered as a common cut-throat.”
   “Good! and Gregson can come inside with me.
                                                                  The Inspector and the two detectives had a hur-
You too, Doctor, you have taken an interest in the
                                                              ried discussion as to the advisability of allowing
case and may as well stick to us.”
                                                              him to tell his story.
    I assented gladly, and we all descended to-                  “Do you consider, Doctor, that there is imme-
gether. Our prisoner made no attempt at escape,               diate danger?” the former asked.
but stepped calmly into the cab which had been
                                                                 “Most certainly there is,” I answered.
his, and we followed him. Lestrade mounted the
box, whipped up the horse, and brought us in a                    “In that case it is clearly our duty, in the in-
very short time to our destination. We were ush-              terests of justice, to take his statement,” said the
ered into a small chamber where a police Inspector            Inspector. “You are at liberty, sir, to give your
noted down our prisoner’s name and the names of               account, which I again warn you will be taken
the men with whose murder he had been charged.                down.”
The official was a white-faced unemotional man,                   “I’ll sit down, with your leave,” the pris-
who went through his duties in a dull mechanical              oner said, suiting the action to the word. “This
way. “The prisoner will be put before the mag-                aneurism of mine makes me easily tired, and the
istrates in the course of the week,” he said; “in             tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended
the mean time, Mr. Jefferson Hope, have you any-              matters. I’m on the brink of the grave, and I am
thing that you wish to say? I must warn you that              not likely to lie to you. Every word I say is the ab-
your words will be taken down, and may be used                solute truth, and how you use it is a matter of no
against you.”                                                 consequence to me.”

                                                         55
                                           A Study In Scarlet

    With these words, Jefferson Hope leaned back            the other side of the river. When once I found
in his chair and began the following remarkable             them out I knew that I had them at my mercy.
statement. He spoke in a calm and methodical                I had grown my beard, and there was no chance
manner, as though the events which he narrated              of their recognizing me. I would dog them and
were commonplace enough. I can vouch for the                follow them until I saw my opportunity. I was de-
accuracy of the subjoined account, for I have had           termined that they should not escape me again.
access to Lestrade’s note-book, in which the pris-
                                                                “They were very near doing it for all that. Go
oner’s words were taken down exactly as they
                                                            where they would about London, I was always at
were uttered.
                                                            their heels. Sometimes I followed them on my cab,
    “It don’t much matter to you why I hated these          and sometimes on foot, but the former was the
men,” he said; “it’s enough that they were guilty           best, for then they could not get away from me. It
of the death of two human beings—a father and a             was only early in the morning or late at night that
daughter—and that they had, therefore, forfeited            I could earn anything, so that I began to get be-
their own lives. After the lapse of time that has           hind hand with my employer. I did not mind that,
passed since their crime, it was impossible for me          however, as long as I could lay my hand upon the
to secure a conviction against them in any court. I         men I wanted.
knew of their guilt though, and I determined that
I should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled             “They were very cunning, though. They must
into one. You’d have done the same, if you have             have thought that there was some chance of their
any manhood in you, if you had been in my place.            being followed, for they would never go out alone,
                                                            and never after nightfall. During two weeks I
    “That girl that I spoke of was to have married          drove behind them every day, and never once saw
me twenty years ago. She was forced into marry-             them separate. Drebber himself was drunk half
ing that same Drebber, and broke her heart over it.         the time, but Stangerson was not to be caught nap-
I took the marriage ring from her dead finger, and           ping. I watched them late and early, but never saw
I vowed that his dying eyes should rest upon that           the ghost of a chance; but I was not discouraged,
very ring, and that his last thoughts should be of          for something told me that the hour had almost
the crime for which he was punished. I have car-            come. My only fear was that this thing in my chest
ried it about with me, and have followed him and            might burst a little too soon and leave my work
his accomplice over two continents until I caught           undone.
them. They thought to tire me out, but they could
not do it. If I die to-morrow, as is likely enough,             “At last, one evening I was driving up and
I die knowing that my work in this world is done,           down Torquay Terrace, as the street was called in
and well done. They have perished, and by my                which they boarded, when I saw a cab drive up to
hand. There is nothing left for me to hope for, or          their door. Presently some luggage was brought
to desire.                                                  out, and after a time Drebber and Stangerson fol-
                                                            lowed it, and drove off. I whipped up my horse
    “They were rich and I was poor, so that it was          and kept within sight of them, feeling very ill at
no easy matter for me to follow them. When I                ease, for I feared that they were going to shift their
got to London my pocket was about empty, and I              quarters. At Euston Station they got out, and I left
found that I must turn my hand to something for             a boy to hold my horse, and followed them on to
my living. Driving and riding are as natural to me          the platform. I heard them ask for the Liverpool
as walking, so I applied at a cabowner’s office, and         train, and the guard answer that one had just gone
soon got employment. I was to bring a certain sum           and there would not be another for some hours.
a week to the owner, and whatever was over that             Stangerson seemed to be put out at that, but Dreb-
I might keep for myself. There was seldom much              ber was rather pleased than otherwise. I got so
over, but I managed to scrape along somehow. The            close to them in the bustle that I could hear every
hardest job was to learn my way about, for I reckon         word that passed between them. Drebber said that
that of all the mazes that ever were contrived, this        he had a little business of his own to do, and that
city is the most confusing. I had a map beside me           if the other would wait for him he would soon re-
though, and when once I had spotted the principal           join him. His companion remonstrated with him,
hotels and stations, I got on pretty well.                  and reminded him that they had resolved to stick
   “It was some time before I found out where my            together. Drebber answered that the matter was a
two gentlemen were living; but I inquired and in-           delicate one, and that he must go alone. I could not
quired until at last I dropped across them. They            catch what Stangerson said to that, but the other
were at a boarding-house at Camberwell, over on             burst out swearing, and reminded him that he was

                                                       56
                                           A Study In Scarlet

nothing more than his paid servant, and that he             and when they came to the head of the steps he
must not presume to dictate to him. On that the             gave him a shove and a kick which sent him half
Secretary gave it up as a bad job, and simply bar-          across the road. ‘You hound,’ he cried, shaking
gained with him that if he missed the last train he         his stick at him; ‘I’ll teach you to insult an honest
should rejoin him at Halliday’s Private Hotel; to           girl!’ He was so hot that I think he would have
which Drebber answered that he would be back                thrashed Drebber with his cudgel, only that the
on the platform before eleven, and made his way             cur staggered away down the road as fast as his
out of the station.                                         legs would carry him. He ran as far as the corner,
    “The moment for which I had waited so long              and then, seeing my cab, he hailed me and jumped
had at last come. I had my enemies within my                in. ‘Drive me to Halliday’s Private Hotel,’ said he.
power. Together they could protect each other,                  “When I had him fairly inside my cab, my heart
but singly they were at my mercy. I did not                 jumped so with joy that I feared lest at this last mo-
act, however, with undue precipitation. My plans            ment my aneurism might go wrong. I drove along
were already formed. There is no satisfaction in            slowly, weighing in my own mind what it was best
vengeance unless the offender has time to real-             to do. I might take him right out into the country,
ize who it is that strikes him, and why retribu-            and there in some deserted lane have my last in-
tion has come upon him. I had my plans arranged             terview with him. I had almost decided upon this,
by which I should have the opportunity of making            when he solved the problem for me. The craze for
the man who had wronged me understand that his              drink had seized him again, and he ordered me
old sin had found him out. It chanced that some             to pull up outside a gin palace. He went in, leav-
days before a gentleman who had been engaged in             ing word that I should wait for him. There he re-
looking over some houses in the Brixton Road had            mained until closing time, and when he came out
dropped the key of one of them in my carriage.              he was so far gone that I knew the game was in
It was claimed that same evening, and returned;             my own hands.
but in the interval I had taken a moulding of it,               “Don’t imagine that I intended to kill him in
and had a duplicate constructed. By means of this           cold blood. It would only have been rigid justice
I had access to at least one spot in this great city        if I had done so, but I could not bring myself to
where I could rely upon being free from interrup-           do it. I had long determined that he should have
tion. How to get Drebber to that house was the              a show for his life if he chose to take advantage
difficult problem which I had now to solve.                  of it. Among the many billets which I have filled
    “He walked down the road and went into one              in America during my wandering life, I was once
or two liquor shops, staying for nearly half-an-            janitor and sweeper out of the laboratory at York
hour in the last of them. When he came out he               College. One day the professor was lecturing on
staggered in his walk, and was evidently pretty             poisons, and he showed his students some alka-
well on. There was a hansom just in front of me,            loid, as he called it, which he had extracted from
and he hailed it. I followed it so close that the           some South American arrow poison, and which
nose of my horse was within a yard of his driver            was so powerful that the least grain meant instant
the whole way. We rattled across Waterloo Bridge            death. I spotted the bottle in which this prepa-
and through miles of streets, until, to my astonish-        ration was kept, and when they were all gone, I
ment, we found ourselves back in the Terrace in             helped myself to a little of it. I was a fairly good
which he had boarded. I could not imagine what              dispenser, so I worked this alkaloid into small, sol-
his intention was in returning there; but I went on         uble pills, and each pill I put in a box with a sim-
and pulled up my cab a hundred yards or so from             ilar pill made without the poison. I determined at
the house. He entered it, and his hansom drove              the time that when I had my chance, my gentle-
away. Give me a glass of water, if you please. My           men should each have a draw out of one of these
mouth gets dry with the talking.”                           boxes, while I ate the pill that remained. It would
                                                            be quite as deadly, and a good deal less noisy than
   I handed him the glass, and he drank it down.            firing across a handkerchief. From that day I had
   “That’s better,” he said. “Well, I waited for            always my pill boxes about with me, and the time
a quarter of an hour, or more, when suddenly                had now come when I was to use them.
there came a noise like people struggling inside                “It was nearer one than twelve, and a wild,
the house. Next moment the door was flung open               bleak night, blowing hard and raining in torrents.
and two men appeared, one of whom was Drebber,              Dismal as it was outside, I was glad within—so
and the other was a young chap whom I had never             glad that I could have shouted out from pure exul-
seen before. This fellow had Drebber by the collar,         tation. If any of you gentlemen have ever pined for

                                                       57
                                            A Study In Scarlet

a thing, and longed for it during twenty long years,             “ ‘What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now?’ I
and then suddenly found it within your reach, you            cried, locking the door, and shaking the key in his
would understand my feelings. I lit a cigar, and             face. ‘Punishment has been slow in coming, but it
puffed at it to steady my nerves, but my hands               has overtaken you at last.’ I saw his coward lips
were trembling, and my temples throbbing with                tremble as I spoke. He would have begged for his
excitement. As I drove, I could see old John Ferrier         life, but he knew well that it was useless.
and sweet Lucy looking at me out of the darkness                “ ‘Would you murder me?’ he stammered.
and smiling at me, just as plain as I see you all in
                                                                “ ‘There is no murder,’ I answered. ‘Who talks
this room. All the way they were ahead of me, one
                                                             of murdering a mad dog? What mercy had you
on each side of the horse until I pulled up at the
                                                             upon my poor darling, when you dragged her
house in the Brixton Road.
                                                             from her slaughtered father, and bore her away to
   “There was not a soul to be seen, nor a sound to          your accursed and shameless harem.’
be heard, except the dripping of the rain. When I               “ ‘It was not I who killed her father,’ he cried.
looked in at the window, I found Drebber all hud-
dled together in a drunken sleep. I shook him by                “ ‘But it was you who broke her innocent heart,’
the arm, ‘It’s time to get out,’ I said.                     I shrieked, thrusting the box before him. ‘Let
                                                             the high God judge between us. Choose and eat.
   “ ‘All right, cabby,’ said he.                            There is death in one and life in the other. I shall
    “I suppose he thought we had come to the ho-             take what you leave. Let us see if there is justice
tel that he had mentioned, for he got out without            upon the earth, or if we are ruled by chance.’
another word, and followed me down the garden.                   “He cowered away with wild cries and prayers
I had to walk beside him to keep him steady, for he          for mercy, but I drew my knife and held it to his
was still a little top-heavy. When we came to the            throat until he had obeyed me. Then I swallowed
door, I opened it, and led him into the front room.          the other, and we stood facing one another in si-
I give you my word that all the way, the father and          lence for a minute or more, waiting to see which
the daughter were walking in front of us.                    was to live and which was to die. Shall I ever for-
   “ ‘It’s infernally dark,’ said he, stamping about.        get the look which came over his face when the
                                                             first warning pangs told him that the poison was
   “ ‘We’ll soon have a light,’ I said, striking a
                                                             in his system? I laughed as I saw it, and held
match and putting it to a wax candle which I had
                                                             Lucy’s marriage ring in front of his eyes. It was
brought with me. ‘Now, Enoch Drebber,’ I contin-
                                                             but for a moment, for the action of the alkaloid
ued, turning to him, and holding the light to my
                                                             is rapid. A spasm of pain contorted his features;
own face, ‘who am I?’
                                                             he threw his hands out in front of him, staggered,
    “He gazed at me with bleared, drunken eyes               and then, with a hoarse cry, fell heavily upon the
for a moment, and then I saw a horror spring up              floor. I turned him over with my foot, and placed
in them, and convulse his whole features, which              my hand upon his heart. There was no movement.
showed me that he knew me. He staggered back                 He was dead!
with a livid face, and I saw the perspiration break              “The blood had been streaming from my nose,
out upon his brow, while his teeth chattered in his          but I had taken no notice of it. I don’t know what
head. At the sight, I leaned my back against the             it was that put it into my head to write upon the
door and laughed loud and long. I had always                 wall with it. Perhaps it was some mischievous idea
known that vengeance would be sweet, but I had               of setting the police upon a wrong track, for I felt
never hoped for the contentment of soul which                light-hearted and cheerful. I remembered a Ger-
now possessed me.                                            man being found in New York with RACHE writ-
    “ ‘You dog!’ I said; ‘I have hunted you from             ten up above him, and it was argued at the time
Salt Lake City to St. Petersburg, and you have al-           in the newspapers that the secret societies must
ways escaped me. Now, at last your wanderings                have done it. I guessed that what puzzled the New
have come to an end, for either you or I shall never         Yorkers would puzzle the Londoners, so I dipped
see to-morrow’s sun rise.’ He shrunk still further           my finger in my own blood and printed it on a
away as I spoke, and I could see on his face that            convenient place on the wall. Then I walked down
he thought I was mad. So I was for the time. The             to my cab and found that there was nobody about,
pulses in my temples beat like sledge-hammers,               and that the night was still very wild. I had driven
and I believe I would have had a fit of some sort             some distance when I put my hand into the pocket
if the blood had not gushed from my nose and re-             in which I usually kept Lucy’s ring, and found that
lieved me.                                                   it was not there. I was thunderstruck at this, for it

                                                        58
                                            A Study In Scarlet

was the only memento that I had of her. Thinking             and said that his cab was wanted by a gentleman
that I might have dropped it when I stooped over             at 221b, Baker Street. I went round, suspecting no
Drebber’s body, I drove back, and leaving my cab             harm, and the next thing I knew, this young man
in a side street, I went boldly up to the house—for          here had the bracelets on my wrists, and as neatly
I was ready to dare anything rather than lose the            snackled as ever I saw in my life. That’s the whole
ring. When I arrived there, I walked right into              of my story, gentlemen. You may consider me to
the arms of a police-officer who was coming out,              be a murderer; but I hold that I am just as much
and only managed to disarm his suspicions by pre-            an officer of justice as you are.”
tending to be hopelessly drunk.
                                                                  So thrilling had the man’s narrative been, and
    “That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end.             his manner was so impressive that we had sat
All I had to do then was to do as much for Stanger-          silent and absorbed. Even the professional detec-
son, and so pay off John Ferrier’s debt. I knew that         tives, blase as they were in every detail of crime, ap-
he was staying at Halliday’s Private Hotel, and I            peared to be keenly interested in the man’s story.
hung about all day, but he never came out. I fancy           When he finished we sat for some minutes in a
that he suspected something when Drebber failed              stillness which was only broken by the scratch-
to put in an appearance. He was cunning, was                 ing of Lestrade’s pencil as he gave the finishing
Stangerson, and always on his guard. If he thought           touches to his shorthand account.
he could keep me off by staying indoors he was
very much mistaken. I soon found out which was                   “There is only one point on which I should like
the window of his bedroom, and early next morn-              a little more information,” Sherlock Holmes said
ing I took advantage of some ladders which were              at last. “Who was your accomplice who came for
lying in the lane behind the hotel, and so made my           the ring which I advertised?”
way into his room in the grey of the dawn. I woke                The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely. “I
him up and told him that the hour had come when              can tell my own secrets,” he said, “but I don’t get
he was to answer for the life he had taken so long           other people into trouble. I saw your advertise-
before. I described Drebber’s death to him, and              ment, and I thought it might be a plant, or it might
I gave him the same choice of the poisoned pills.            be the ring which I wanted. My friend volunteered
Instead of grasping at the chance of safety which            to go and see. I think you’ll own he did it smartly.”
that offered him, he sprang from his bed and flew
at my throat. In self-defence I stabbed him to the              “Not a doubt of that,” said Holmes heartily.
heart. It would have been the same in any case, for              “Now, gentlemen,” the Inspector remarked
Providence would never have allowed his guilty               gravely, “the forms of the law must be complied
hand to pick out anything but the poison.                    with. On Thursday the prisoner will be brought
    “I have little more to say, and it’s as well, for        before the magistrates, and your attendance will
I am about done up. I went on cabbing it for a               be required. Until then I will be responsible for
day or so, intending to keep at it until I could save        him.” He rang the bell as he spoke, and Jefferson
enough to take me back to America. I was stand-              Hope was led off by a couple of warders, while my
ing in the yard when a ragged youngster asked                friend and I made our way out of the Station and
if there was a cabby there called Jefferson Hope,            took a cab back to Baker Street.




                                            CHAPTER VII.
                                            The Conclusion

   We had all been warned to appear before                   hand, and Jefferson Hope had been summoned be-
the magistrates upon the Thursday; but when the              fore a tribunal where strict justice would be meted
Thursday came there was no occasion for our tes-             out to him. On the very night after his capture the
timony. A higher Judge had taken the matter in               aneurism burst, and he was found in the morning


                                                        59
                                             A Study In Scarlet

stretched upon the floor of the cell, with a placid                “Now this was a case in which you were given
smile upon his face, as though he had been able in            the result and had to find everything else for your-
his dying moments to look back upon a useful life,            self. Now let me endeavour to show you the dif-
and on work well done.                                        ferent steps in my reasoning. To begin at the be-
                                                              ginning. I approached the house, as you know,
   “Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his
                                                              on foot, and with my mind entirely free from all
death,” Holmes remarked, as we chatted it over
                                                              impressions. I naturally began by examining the
next evening. “Where will their grand advertise-
                                                              roadway, and there, as I have already explained to
ment be now?”
                                                              you, I saw clearly the marks of a cab, which, I as-
    “I don’t see that they had very much to do with           certained by inquiry, must have been there during
his capture,” I answered.                                     the night. I satisfied myself that it was a cab and
    “What you do in this world is a matter of no              not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the
consequence,” returned my companion, bitterly.                wheels. The ordinary London growler is consider-
“The question is, what can you make people be-                ably less wide than a gentleman’s brougham.
lieve that you have done. Never mind,” he con-                    “This was the first point gained. I then walked
tinued, more brightly, after a pause. “I would not            slowly down the garden path, which happened
have missed the investigation for anything. There             to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly suitable
has been no better case within my recollection.               for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared to
Simple as it was, there were several most instruc-            you to be a mere trampled line of slush, but to
tive points about it.”                                        my trained eyes every mark upon its surface had
                                                              a meaning. There is no branch of detective science
   “Simple!” I ejaculated.
                                                              which is so important and so much neglected as
    “Well, really, it can hardly be described as oth-         the art of tracing footsteps. Happily, I have always
erwise,” said Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my sur-             laid great stress upon it, and much practice has
prise. “The proof of its intrinsic simplicity is, that        made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy foot-
without any help save a few very ordinary deduc-              marks of the constables, but I saw also the track
tions I was able to lay my hand upon the criminal             of the two men who had first passed through the
within three days.”                                           garden. It was easy to tell that they had been
                                                              before the others, because in places their marks
   “That is true,” said I.
                                                              had been entirely obliterated by the others com-
    “I have already explained to you that what is             ing upon the top of them. In this way my second
out of the common is usually a guide rather than              link was formed, which told me that the noctur-
a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the           nal visitors were two in number, one remarkable
grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That           for his height (as I calculated from the length of
is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy              his stride), and the other fashionably dressed, to
one, but people do not practise it much. In the               judge from the small and elegant impression left
every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason         by his boots.
forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected.                “On entering the house this last inference was
There are fifty who can reason synthetically for               confirmed. My well-booted man lay before me.
one who can reason analytically.”                             The tall one, then, had done the murder, if murder
   “I confess,” said I, “that I do not quite follow           there was. There was no wound upon the dead
you.”                                                         man’s person, but the agitated expression upon his
                                                              face assured me that he had foreseen his fate be-
    “I hardly expected that you would. Let me see
                                                              fore it came upon him. Men who die from heart
if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you de-
                                                              disease, or any sudden natural cause, never by any
scribe a train of events to them, will tell you what
                                                              chance exhibit agitation upon their features. Hav-
the result would be. They can put those events to-
                                                              ing sniffed the dead man’s lips I detected a slightly
gether in their minds, and argue from them that
                                                              sour smell, and I came to the conclusion that he
something will come to pass. There are few peo-
                                                              had had poison forced upon him. Again, I argued
ple, however, who, if you told them a result, would
                                                              that it had been forced upon him from the hatred
be able to evolve from their own inner conscious-
                                                              and fear expressed upon his face. By the method of
ness what the steps were which led up to that re-
                                                              exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other
sult. This power is what I mean when I talk of
                                                              hypothesis would meet the facts. Do not imagine
reasoning backwards, or analytically.”
                                                              that it was a very unheard of idea. The forcible ad-
   “I understand,” said I.                                    ministration of poison is by no means a new thing

                                                         60
                                              A Study In Scarlet

in criminal annals. The cases of Dolsky in Odessa,             driven the cab. The marks in the road showed me
and of Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once             that the horse had wandered on in a way which
to any toxicologist.                                           would have been impossible had there been any-
    “And now came the great question as to the                 one in charge of it. Where, then, could the driver
reason why. Robbery had not been the object of                 be, unless he were inside the house? Again, it is
the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it poli-                absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry
tics, then, or was it a woman? That was the ques-              out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it
tion which confronted me. I was inclined from the              were, of a third person, who was sure to betray
first to the latter supposition. Political assassins            him. Lastly, supposing one man wished to dog
are only too glad to do their work and to fly. This             another through London, what better means could
murder had, on the contrary, been done most de-                he adopt than to turn cabdriver. All these consid-
liberately, and the perpetrator had left his tracks all        erations led me to the irresistible conclusion that
over the room, showing that he had been there all              Jefferson Hope was to be found among the jarveys
the time. It must have been a private wrong, and               of the Metropolis.
not a political one, which called for such a method-                “If he had been one there was no reason to be-
ical revenge. When the inscription was discovered              lieve that he had ceased to be. On the contrary,
upon the wall I was more inclined than ever to                 from his point of view, any sudden chance would
my opinion. The thing was too evidently a blind.               be likely to draw attention to himself. He would,
When the ring was found, however, it settled the               probably, for a time at least, continue to perform
question. Clearly the murderer had used it to re-              his duties. There was no reason to suppose that he
mind his victim of some dead or absent woman.                  was going under an assumed name. Why should
It was at this point that I asked Gregson whether              he change his name in a country where no one
he had enquired in his telegram to Cleveland as                knew his original one? I therefore organized my
to any particular point in Mr. Drebber’s former ca-            Street Arab detective corps, and sent them sys-
reer. He answered, you remember, in the negative.              tematically to every cab proprietor in London un-
                                                               til they ferreted out the man that I wanted. How
    “I then proceeded to make a careful examina-
                                                               well they succeeded, and how quickly I took ad-
tion of the room, which confirmed me in my opin-
                                                               vantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection.
ion as to the murderer’s height, and furnished me
                                                               The murder of Stangerson was an incident which
with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly
                                                               was entirely unexpected, but which could hardly
cigar and the length of his nails. I had already
                                                               in any case have been prevented. Through it, as
come to the conclusion, since there were no signs
                                                               you know, I came into possession of the pills, the
of a struggle, that the blood which covered the
                                                               existence of which I had already surmised. You
floor had burst from the murderer’s nose in his ex-
                                                               see the whole thing is a chain of logical sequences
citement. I could perceive that the track of blood
                                                               without a break or flaw.”
coincided with the track of his feet. It is sel-
dom that any man, unless he is very full-blooded,                 “It is wonderful!” I cried. “Your merits should
breaks out in this way through emotion, so I haz-              be publicly recognized. You should publish an ac-
arded the opinion that the criminal was probably               count of the case. If you won’t, I will for you.”
a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved that                  “You may do what you like, Doctor,” he an-
I had judged correctly.                                        swered. “See here!” he continued, handing a paper
    “Having left the house, I proceeded to do what             over to me, “look at this!”
Gregson had neglected. I telegraphed to the head                  It was the Echo for the day, and the paragraph
of the police at Cleveland, limiting my enquiry to             to which he pointed was devoted to the case in
the circumstances connected with the marriage of               question.
Enoch Drebber. The answer was conclusive. It                       “The public,” it said, “have lost a sensational
told me that Drebber had already applied for the               treat through the sudden death of the man Hope,
protection of the law against an old rival in love,            who was suspected of the murder of Mr. Enoch
named Jefferson Hope, and that this same Hope                  Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The de-
was at present in Europe. I knew now that I held               tails of the case will probably be never known now,
the clue to the mystery in my hand, and all that               though we are informed upon good authority that
remained was to secure the murderer.                           the crime was the result of an old standing and ro-
   “I had already determined in my own mind                    mantic feud, in which love and Mormonism bore
that the man who had walked into the house with                a part. It seems that both the victims belonged, in
Drebber, was none other than the man who had                   their younger days, to the Latter Day Saints, and

                                                          61
Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt        that a testimonial of some sort will be presented
Lake City. If the case has had no other effect, it, at   to the two officers as a fitting recognition of their
least, brings out in the most striking manner the        services.”
efficiency of our detective police force, and will            “Didn’t I tell you so when we started?” cried
serve as a lesson to all foreigners that they will       Sherlock Holmes with a laugh. “That’s the result
do wisely to settle their feuds at home, and not         of all our Study in Scarlet: to get them a testimo-
to carry them on to British soil. It is an open se-      nial!”
cret that the credit of this smart capture belongs
entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard officials,          “Never mind,” I answered, “I have all the facts
Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was ap-            in my journal, and the public shall know them. In
prehended, it appears, in the rooms of a certain         the meantime you must make yourself contented
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has himself, as an am-          by the consciousness of success, like the Roman
ateur, shown some talent in the detective line, and      miser—
who, with such instructors, may hope in time to                   “ ‘Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo
attain to some degree of their skill. It is expected       Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.’ ”
The Sign of the Four
                                             The Sign of the Four




                                           Table of contents
The Science of Deduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       67
The Statement of the Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        70
In Quest of a Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   73
The Story of the Bald-Headed Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   75
The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   79
Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        82
The Episode of the Barrel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      86
The Baker Street Irregulars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        91
A Break in the Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   95
The End of the Islander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    100
The Great Agra Treasure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      103
The Strange Story of Jonathan Small . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  106




                                                              65
                                          The Sign of the Four

                                            CHAPTER I.




S
                                     The Science of Deduction

           herlock Holmes took his bottle from              which involves increased tissue-change and may at
           the corner of the mantelpiece and his hy-        last leave a permanent weakness. You know, too,
           podermic syringe from its neat morocco           what a black reaction comes upon you. Surely the
           case. With his long, white, nervous fin-          game is hardly worth the candle. Why should you,
gers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled            for a mere passing pleasure, risk the loss of those
back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his          great powers with which you have been endowed?
eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm            Remember that I speak not only as one comrade
and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumer-              to another, but as a medical man to one for whose
able puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp            constitution he is to some extent answerable.”
point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and                   He did not seem offended. On the contrary, he
sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a            put his fingertips together and leaned his elbows
long sigh of satisfaction.                                  on the arms of his chair, like one who has a relish
     Three times a day for many months I had wit-           for conversation.
nessed this performance, but custom had not rec-
                                                                “My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give
onciled my mind to it. On the contrary, from day
                                                            me problems, give me work, give me the most ab-
to day I had become more irritable at the sight, and
                                                            struse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis,
my conscience swelled nightly within me at the
                                                            and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dis-
thought that I had lacked the courage to protest.
                                                            pense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor
Again and again I had registered a vow that I
                                                            the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental
should deliver my soul upon the subject, but there
                                                            exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own par-
was that in the cool, nonchalant air of my com-
                                                            ticular profession,—or rather created it, for I am
panion which made him the last man with whom
                                                            the only one in the world.”
one would care to take anything approaching to
a liberty. His great powers, his masterly manner,             “The only unofficial detective?” I said, raising
and the experience which I had had of his many              my eyebrows.
extraordinary qualities, all made me diffident and              “The only unofficial consulting detective,” he
backward in crossing him.                                   answered. “I am the last and highest court of ap-
     Yet upon that afternoon, whether it was the            peal in detection. When Gregson or Lestrade or
Beaune which I had taken with my lunch, or the              Athelney Jones are out of their depths—which, by
additional exasperation produced by the extreme             the way, is their normal state—the matter is laid
deliberation of his manner, I suddenly felt that I          before me. I examine the data, as an expert, and
could hold out no longer.                                   pronounce a specialist’s opinion. I claim no credit
     “Which is it to-day?” I asked,—“morphine or            in such cases. My name figures in no newspa-
cocaine?”                                                   per. The work itself, the pleasure of finding a
                                                            field for my peculiar powers, is my highest reward.
     He raised his eyes languidly from the old
                                                            But you have yourself had some experience of my
black-letter volume which he had opened. “It
                                                            methods of work in the Jefferson Hope case.”
is cocaine,” he said,—“a seven-per-cent solution.
Would you care to try it?”                                       “Yes, indeed,” said I, cordially. “I was never so
     “No, indeed,” I answered, brusquely. “My con-          struck by anything in my life. I even embodied it
stitution has not got over the Afghan campaign              in a small brochure with the somewhat fantastic
yet. I cannot afford to throw any extra strain upon         title of ‘A Study in Scarlet.’ ”
it.”                                                            He shook his head sadly. “I glanced over it,”
     He smiled at my vehemence. “Perhaps you are            said he. “Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon
right, Watson,” he said. “I suppose that its influ-          it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science,
ence is physically a bad one. I find it, however,            and should be treated in the same cold and un-
so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the         emotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it
mind that its secondary action is a matter of small         with romanticism, which produces much the same
moment.”                                                    effect as if you worked a love-story or an elope-
     “But consider!” I said, earnestly. “Count the          ment into the fifth proposition of Euclid.”
cost! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and ex-             “But the romance was there,” I remonstrated.
cited, but it is a pathological and morbid process,         “I could not tamper with the facts.”

                                                       67
                                              The Sign of the Four

    “Some facts should be suppressed, or at least               hundred and forty forms of cigar-, cigarette-, and
a just sense of proportion should be observed in                pipe-tobacco, with colored plates illustrating the
treating them. The only point in the case which                 difference in the ash. It is a point which is con-
deserved mention was the curious analytical rea-                tinually turning up in criminal trials, and which
soning from effects to causes by which I succeeded              is sometimes of supreme importance as a clue. If
in unraveling it.”                                              you can say definitely, for example, that some mur-
    I was annoyed at this criticism of a work which             der has been done by a man who was smoking an
had been specially designed to please him. I con-               Indian lunkah, it obviously narrows your field of
fess, too, that I was irritated by the egotism which            search. To the trained eye there is as much differ-
seemed to demand that every line of my pamphlet                 ence between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and
should be devoted to his own special doings. More               the white fluff of bird’s-eye as there is between a
than once during the years that I had lived with                cabbage and a potato.”
him in Baker Street I had observed that a small                     “You have an extraordinary genius for minu-
vanity underlay my companion’s quiet and didac-                 tiae,” I remarked.
tic manner. I made no remark, however, but sat                      “I appreciate their importance. Here is my
nursing my wounded leg. I had a Jezail bullet                   monograph upon the tracing of footsteps, with
through it some time before, and, though it did                 some remarks upon the uses of plaster of Paris
not prevent me from walking, it ached wearily at                as a preserver of impresses. Here, too, is a cu-
every change of the weather.                                    rious little work upon the influence of a trade
    “My practice has extended recently to the Con-              upon the form of the hand, with lithotypes of the
tinent,” said Holmes, after a while, filling up his              hands of slaters, sailors, corkcutters, compositors,
old brier-root pipe. “I was consulted last week by              weavers, and diamond-polishers. That is a mat-
Francois Le Villard, who, as you probably know,                 ter of great practical interest to the scientific detec-
has come rather to the front lately in the French de-           tive,—especially in cases of unclaimed bodies, or
tective service. He has all the Celtic power of quick           in discovering the antecedents of criminals. But I
intuition, but he is deficient in the wide range of              weary you with my hobby.”
exact knowledge which is essential to the higher                    “Not at all,” I answered, earnestly. “It is of the
developments of his art. The case was concerned                 greatest interest to me, especially since I have had
with a will, and possessed some features of inter-              the opportunity of observing your practical appli-
est. I was able to refer him to two parallel cases,             cation of it. But you spoke just now of observation
the one at Riga in 1857, and the other at St. Louis             and deduction. Surely the one to some extent im-
in 1871, which have suggested to him the true so-               plies the other.”
lution. Here is the letter which I had this morning
                                                                    “Why, hardly,” he answered, leaning back lux-
acknowledging my assistance.” He tossed over, as
                                                                uriously in his armchair, and sending up thick blue
he spoke, a crumpled sheet of foreign notepaper. I
                                                                wreaths from his pipe. “For example, observa-
glanced my eyes down it, catching a profusion of
                                                                tion shows me that you have been to the Wigmore
notes of admiration, with stray magnifiques, coup-
                                                                Street Post-Office this morning, but deduction lets
      ı
de-maˆtres and tours-de-force, all testifying to the ar-
                                                                me know that when there you dispatched a tele-
dent admiration of the Frenchman.
                                                                gram.”
   “He speaks as a pupil to his master,” said I.
                                                                   “Right!” said I. “Right on both points! But I
    “Oh, he rates my assistance too highly,” said               confess that I don’t see how you arrived at it. It
Sherlock Holmes, lightly. “He has considerable                  was a sudden impulse upon my part, and I have
gifts himself. He possesses two out of the three                mentioned it to no one.”
qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has
                                                                   “It is simplicity itself,” he remarked, chuckling
the power of observation and that of deduction.
                                                                at my surprise,—“so absurdly simple that an ex-
He is only wanting in knowledge; and that may
                                                                planation is superfluous; and yet it may serve to
come in time. He is now translating my small
                                                                define the limits of observation and of deduction.
works into French.”
                                                                Observation tells me that you have a little reddish
   “Your works?”                                                mould adhering to your instep. Just opposite the
   “Oh, didn’t you know?” he cried, laughing.                   Seymour Street Office they have taken up the pave-
“Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs.                 ment and thrown up some earth which lies in such
They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for                 a way that it is difficult to avoid treading in it in
example, is one ‘Upon the Distinction between the               entering. The earth is of this peculiar reddish tint
Ashes of the Various Tobaccoes.’ In it I enumerate a            which is found, as far as I know, nowhere else in

                                                           68
                                               The Sign of the Four

the neighborhood. So much is observation. The                          “Quite so. The W. suggests your own name.
rest is deduction.”                                               The date of the watch is nearly fifty years back,
   “How, then, did you deduce the telegram?”                      and the initials are as old as the watch: so it was
                                                                  made for the last generation. Jewelry usually de-
    “Why, of course I knew that you had not writ-
                                                                  scents to the eldest son, and he is most likely to
ten a letter, since I sat opposite to you all morning.
                                                                  have the same name as the father. Your father
I see also in your open desk there that you have a
                                                                  has, if I remember right, been dead many years.
sheet of stamps and a thick bundle of postcards.
                                                                  It has, therefore, been in the hands of your eldest
What could you go into the post-office for, then,
                                                                  brother.”
but to send a wire? Eliminate all other factors, and
the one which remains must be the truth.”                              “Right, so far,” said I. “Anything else?”
                                                                       “He was a man of untidy habits,—very untidy
     “In this case it certainly is so,” I replied, after a
                                                                  and careless. He was left with good prospects, but
little thought. “The thing, however, is, as you say,
                                                                  he threw away his chances, lived for some time in
of the simplest. Would yo think me impertinent if
                                                                  poverty with occasional short intervals of prosper-
I were to put your theories to a more severe test?”
                                                                  ity, and finally, taking to drink, he died. That is all
   “On the contrary,” he answered, “it would pre-                 I can gather.”
vent me from taking a second dose of cocaine.
                                                                       I sprang from my chair and limped impatiently
I should be delighted to look into any problem
                                                                  about the room with considerable bitterness in my
which you might submit to me.”
                                                                  heart.
    “I have heard you say that it is difficult for a                    “This is unworthy of you, Holmes,” I said. “I
man to have any object in daily use without leav-                 could not have believed that you would have de-
ing the impress of his individuality upon it in such              scended to this. You have made inquires into the
a way that a trained observer might read it. Now,                 history of my unhappy brother, and you now pre-
I have here a watch which has recently come into                  tend to deduce this knowledge in some fanciful
my possession. Would you have the kindness to let                 way. You cannot expect me to believe that you have
me have an opinion upon the character or habits of                read all this from his old watch! It is unkind, and,
the late owner?”                                                  to speak plainly, has a touch of charlatanism in it.”
    I handed him over the watch with some slight                       “My dear doctor,” said he, kindly, “pray accept
feeling of amusement in my heart, for the test                    my apologies. Viewing the matter as an abstract
was, as I thought, an impossible one, and I in-                   problem, I had forgotten how personal and painful
tended it as a lesson against the somewhat dog-                   a thing it might be to you. I assure you, however,
matic tone which he occasionally assumed. He                      that I never even know that you had a brother until
balanced the watch in his hand, gazed hard at the                 you handed me the watch.”
dial, opened the back, and examined the works,
                                                                       “Then how in the name of all that is wonder-
first with his naked eyes and then with a power-
                                                                  ful did you get these facts? They are absolutely
ful convex lens. I could hardly keep from smiling
                                                                  correct in every particular.”
at his crestfallen face when he finally snapped the
case to and handed it back.                                            “Ah, that is good luck. I could only say what
                                                                  was the balance of probability. I did not at all ex-
   “There are hardly any data,” he remarked.
                                                                  pect to be so accurate.“
“The watch has been recently cleaned, which robs
me of my most suggestive facts.”                                       “But it was not mere guess-work?”
                                                                       “No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking
   “You are right,” I answered. “It was cleaned be-
                                                                  habit,—destructive to the logical faculty. What
fore being sent to me.” In my heart I accused my
                                                                  seems strange to you is only so because you do not
companion of putting forward a most lame and
                                                                  follow my train of thought or observe the small
impotent excuse to cover his failure. What data
                                                                  facts upon which large inferences may depend.
could he expect from an uncleaned watch?
                                                                  For example, I began by stating that your brother
   “Though unsatisfactory, my research has not                    was careless. When you observe the lower part
been entirely barren,” he observed, staring up at                 of that watch-case you notice that it is not only
the ceiling with dreamy, lack-lustre eyes. “Subject               dinted in two places, but it is cut and marked all
to your correction, I should judge that the watch                 over from the habit of keeping other hard objects,
belonged to your elder brother, who inherited it                  such as coins or keys, in the same pocket. Surely
from your father.”                                                it is no great feat to assume that a man who treats
   “That you gather, no doubt, from the H. W.                     a fifty-guinea watch so cavalierly must be a care-
upon the back?”                                                   less man. Neither is it a very far-fetched inference

                                                             69
                                          The Sign of the Four

that a man who inherits one article of such value           ask whether you have any professional inquiry on
is pretty well provided for in other respects.”             foot at present?”
    I nodded, to show that I followed his reasoning.            “None. Hence the cocaine. I cannot live with-
    “It is very customary for pawnbrokers in Eng-           out brain-work. What else is there to live for?
land, when they take a watch, to scratch the num-           Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary,
ber of the ticket with a pin-point upon the inside          dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow
of the case. It is more handy than a label, as there        fog swirls down the street and drifts across the
is no risk of the number being lost or transposed.          duncolored houses. What could be more hope-
There are no less than four such numbers visible to         lessly prosaic and material? What is the use of
my lens on the inside of this case. Inference,—that         having powers, doctor, when one has no field upon
your brother was often at low water. Secondary              which to exert them? Crime is commonplace, exis-
inference,—that he had occasional bursts of pros-           tence is commonplace, and no qualities save those
perity, or he could not have redeemed the pledge.           which are commonplace have any function upon
Finally, I ask you to look at the inner plate, which        earth.”
contains the key-hole. Look at the thousands of                I had opened my mouth to reply to this tirade,
scratches all round the hole,—marks where the key           when with a crisp knock our landlady entered,
has slipped. What sober man’s key could have                bearing a card upon the brass salver.
scored those grooves? But you will never see a
drunkard’s watch without them. He winds it at                  “A young lady for you, sir,” she said, address-
night, and he leaves these traces of his unsteady           ing my companion.
hand. Where is the mystery in all this?”                       “Miss Mary Morstan,” he read. “Hum! I have
    “It is as clear as daylight,” I answered. “I re-        no recollection of the name. Ask the young lady to
gret the injustice which I did you. I should have           step up, Mrs. Hudson. Don’t go, doctor. I should
had more faith in your marvellous faculty. May I            prefer that you remain.”




                                            CHAPTER II.
                                    The Statement of the Case

    Miss Morstan entered the room with a firm                placed for her, her lip trembled, her hand quiv-
step and an outward composure of manner. She                ered, and she showed every sign of intense inward
was a blonde young lady, small, dainty, well                agitation.
gloved, and dressed in the most perfect taste.                  “I have come to you, Mr. Holmes,” she said,
There was, however, a plainness and simplicity              “because you once enabled my employer, Mrs. Ce-
about her costume which bore with it a sugges-              cil Forrester, to unravel a little domestic complica-
tion of limited means. The dress was a sombre               tion. She was much impressed by your kindness
grayish beige, untrimmed and unbraided, and she             and skill.”
wore a small turban of the same dull hue, re-                   “Mrs. Cecil Forrester,” he repeated thought-
lieved only by a suspicion of white feather in the          fully. “I believe that I was of some slight service
side. Her face had neither regularity of feature            to her. The case, however, as I remember it, was a
nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was            very simple one.”
sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were
                                                                “She did not think so. But at least you cannot
singularly spiritual and sympathetic. In an experi-
                                                            say the same of mine. I can hardly imagine any-
ence of women which extends over many nations
                                                            thing more strange, more utterly inexplicable, than
and three separate continents, I have never looked
                                                            the situation in which I find myself.”
upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a re-
fined and sensitive nature. I could not but observe              Holmes rubbed his hands, and his eyes glis-
that as she took the seat which Sherlock Holmes             tened. He leaned forward in his chair with an ex-
                                                            pression of extraordinary concentration upon his

                                                       70
                                           The Sign of the Four

clear-cut, hawklike features. “State your case,”                “A singular case,” remarked Holmes.
said he, in brisk, business tones.                               “I have not yet described to you the most sin-
   I felt that my position was an embarrassing               gular part. About six years ago—to be exact, upon
one. “You will, I am sure, excuse me,” I said, rising        the 4th of May, 1882—an advertisement appeared
from my chair.                                               in the Times asking for the address of Miss Mary
    To my surprise, the young lady held up her               Morstan and stating that it would be to her ad-
gloved hand to detain me. “If your friend,” she              vantage to come forward. There was no name or
said, “would be good enough to stop, he might be             address appended. I had at that time just entered
of inestimable service to me.”                               the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester in the capacity
                                                             of governess. By her advice I published my ad-
   I relapsed into my chair.
                                                             dress in the advertisement column. The same day
    “Briefly,” she continued, “the facts are these.           there arrived through the post a small card-board
My father was an officer in an Indian regiment                box addressed to me, which I found to contain a
who sent me home when I was quite a child. My                very large and lustrous pearl. No word of writing
mother was dead, and I had no relative in England.           was enclosed. Since then every year upon the same
I was placed, however, in a comfortable boarding             date there has always appeared a similar box, con-
establishment at Edinburgh, and there I remained             taining a similar pearl, without any clue as to the
until I was seventeen years of age. In the year 1878         sender. They have been pronounced by an expert
my father, who was senior captain of his regiment,           to be of a rare variety and of considerable value.
obtained twelve months’ leave and came home. He              You can see for yourselves that they are very hand-
telegraphed to me from London that he had ar-                some.” She opened a flat box as she spoke, and
rived all safe, and directed me to come down at              showed me six of the finest pearls that I had ever
once, giving the Langham Hotel as his address.               seen.
His message, as I remember, was full of kindness
                                                                “Your statement is most interesting,” said Sher-
and love. On reaching London I drove to the Lang-
                                                             lock Holmes. “Has anything else occurred to
ham, and was informed that Captain Morstan was
                                                             you?”
staying there, but that he had gone out the night
before and had not yet returned. I waited all day                “Yes, and no later than to-day. That is why I
without news of him. That night, on the advice               have come to you. This morning I received this
of the manager of the hotel, I communicated with             letter, which you will perhaps read for yourself.”
the police, and next morning we advertised in all                 “Thank you,” said Holmes. “The envelope
the papers. Our inquiries let to no result; and from         too, please. Postmark, London, S.W. Date, July 7.
that day to this no word has ever been heard of my           Hum! Man’s thumb-mark on corner,—probably
unfortunate father. He came home with his heart              postman. Best quality paper. Envelopes at six-
full of hope, to find some peace, some comfort, and           pence a packet. Particular man in his stationery.
instead—” She put her hand to her throat, and a              No address. ‘Be at the third pillar from the left out-
choking sob cut short the sentence.                          side the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o’clock.
   “The date?” asked Holmes, opening his note-               If you are distrustful, bring two friends. You are
book.                                                        a wronged woman, and shall have justice. Do not
   “He disappeared upon the 3d of December,                  bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your
1878,—nearly ten years ago.”                                 unknown friend.’ Well, really, this is a very pretty
                                                             little mystery. What do you intend to do, Miss
   “His luggage?”                                            Morstan?”
    “Remained at the hotel. There was nothing in                “That is exactly what I want to ask you.”
it to suggest a clue,—some clothes, some books,
and a considerable number of curiosities from the               “Then we shall most certainly go. You and I
Andaman Islands. He had been one of the officers              and—yes, why, Dr. Watson is the very man. Your
in charge of the convict-guard there.”                       correspondent says two friends. He and I have
                                                             worked together before.”
   “Had he any friends in town?”
                                                                 “But would he come?” she asked, with some-
    “Only one that we know of,—Major Sholto,
                                                             thing appealing in her voice and expression.
of his own regiment, the 34th Bombay Infantry.
The major had retired some little time before, and              “I should be proud and happy,” said I, fer-
lived at Upper Norwood. We communicated with                 vently, “if I can be of any service.”
him, of course, but he did not even know that his               “You are both very kind,” she answered. “I
brother officer was in England.”                              have led a retired life, and have no friends whom

                                                        71
                                            The Sign of the Four

I could appeal to. If I am here at six it will do, I          you that the most winning woman I ever knew
suppose?”                                                     was hanged for poisoning three little children for
    “You must not be later,” said Holmes. “There              their insurance-money, and the most repellant man
is one other point, however. Is this handwriting              of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has
the same as that upon the pearl-box addresses?”               spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the Lon-
                                                              don poor.”
    “I have them here,” she answered, producing
half a dozen pieces of paper.                                    “In this case, however—”
    “You are certainly a model client. You have the              “I never make exceptions. An exception dis-
correct intuition. Let us see, now.” He spread out            proves the rule. Have you ever had occasion to
the papers upon the table, and gave little darting            study character in handwriting? What do you
glances from one to the other. “They are disguised            make of this fellow’s scribble?”
hands, except the letter,” he said, presently, “but
there can be no question as to the authorship. See                “It is legible and regular,” I answered. “A man
how the irrepressible Greek e will break out, and             of business habits and some force of character.”
see the twirl of the final s. They are undoubtedly                 Holmes shook his head. “Look at his long let-
by the same person. I should not like to suggest              ters,” he said. “They hardly rise above the com-
false hopes, Miss Morstan, but is there any resem-            mon herd. That d might be an a, and that l an
blance between this hand and that of your father?”            e. Men of character always differentiate their long
    “Nothing could be more unlike.”                           letters, however illegibly they may write. There is
    “I expected to hear you say so. We shall look             vacillation in his k’s and self-esteem in his capitals.
out for you, then, at six. Pray allow me to keep the          I am going out now. I have some few references
papers. I may look into the matter before then. It            to make. Let me recommend this book,—one of
is only half-past three. Au revoir, then.”                    the most remarkable ever penned. It is Winwood
                                                              Reade’s Martyrdom of Man. I shall be back in an
    “Au revoir,” said our visitor, and, with a bright,
                                                              hour.”
kindly glance from one to the other of us, she re-
placed her pearl-box in her bosom and hurried                     I sat in the window with the volume in my
away. Standing at the window, I watched her walk-             hand, but my thoughts were far from the daring
ing briskly down the street, until the gray turban            speculations of the writer. My mind ran upon
and white feather were but a speck in the sombre              our late visitor,—her smiles, the deep rich tones
crowd.                                                        of her voice, the strange mystery which overhung
    “What a very attractive woman!” I exclaimed,              her life. If she were seventeen at the time of
turning to my companion.                                      her father’s disappearance she must be seven-and-
                                                              twenty now,—a sweet age, when youth has lost its
    He had lit his pipe again, and was leaning
                                                              self-consciousness and become a little sobered by
back with drooping eyelids. “Is she?” he said, lan-
                                                              experience. So I sat and mused, until such dan-
guidly. “I did not observe.”
                                                              gerous thoughts came into my head that I hur-
    “You really are an automaton,—a calculating-              ried away to my desk and plunged furiously into
machine!” I cried. “There is something positively             the latest treatise upon pathology. What was I,
inhuman in you at times.”                                     an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker
    He smiled gently. “It is of the first importance,”         banking-account, that I should dare to think of
he said, “not to allow your judgment to be biased             such things? She was a unit, a factor,—nothing
by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere               more. If my future were black, it was better surely
unit,—a factor in a problem. The emotional qual-              to face it like a man than to attempt to brighten it
ities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure           by mere will-o’-the-wisps of the imagination.




                                                         72
                                            The Sign of the Four

                                             CHAPTER III.
                                        In Quest of a Solution

   It was half-past five before Holmes returned.               that he thought that our night’s work might be a
He was bright, eager, and in excellent spirits,—a             serious one.
mood which in his case alternated with fits of the                 Miss Morstan was muffled in a dark cloak,
blackest depression.                                          and her sensitive face was composed, but pale.
    “There is no great mystery in this matter,” he            She must have been more than woman if she
said, taking the cup of tea which I had poured out            did not feel some uneasiness at the strange enter-
for him. “The facts appear to admit of only one               prise upon which we were embarking, yet her self-
explanation.”                                                 control was perfect, and she readily answered the
                                                              few additional questions which Sherlock Holmes
   “What! you have solved it already?”                        put to her.
   “Well, that would be too much to say. I have                   “Major Sholto was a very particular friend of
discovered a suggestive fact, that is all. It is, how-        papa’s,” she said. “His letters were full of allu-
ever, very suggestive. The details are still to be            sions to the major. He and papa were in command
added. I have just found, on consulting the back              of the troops at the Andaman Islands, so they were
files of the Times, that Major Sholto, of Upper Nor-           thrown a great deal together. By the way, a curi-
word, late of the 34th Bombay Infantry, died upon             ous paper was found in papa’s desk which no one
the 28th of April, 1882.”                                     could understand. I don’t suppose that it is of the
  “I may be very obtuse, Holmes, but I fail to see            slightest importance, but I thought you might care
what this suggests.”                                          to see it, so I brought it with me. It is here.”
    “No? You surprise me. Look at it in this way,                 Holmes unfolded the paper carefully and
then. Captain Morstan disappears. The only per-               smoothed it out upon his knee. He then very
son in London whom he could have visited is Ma-               methodically examined it all over with his double
jor Sholto. Major Sholto denies having heard that             lens.
he was in London. Four years later Sholto dies.                   “It is paper of native Indian manufacture,” he
Within a week of his death Captain Morstan’s daugh-           remarked. “It has at some time been pinned to a
ter receives a valuable present, which is repeated            board. The diagram upon it appears to be a plan of
from year to year, and now culminates in a letter             part of a large building with numerous halls, cor-
which describes her as a wronged woman. What                  ridors, and passages. At one point is a small cross
wrong can it refer to except this deprivation of              done in red ink, and above it is ‘3.37 from left,’
her father? And why should the presents begin                 in faded pencil-writing. In the left-hand corner is
immediately after Sholto’s death, unless it is that           a curious hieroglyphic like four crosses in a line
Sholto’s heir knows something of the mystery and              with their arms touching. Beside it is written, in
desires to make compensation? Have you any al-                very rough and coarse characters, ‘The sign of the
ternative theory which will meet the facts?”                  four,—Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah
                                                              Khan, Dost Akbar.’ No, I confess that I do not see
     “But what a strange compensation! And how                how this bears upon the matter. Yet it is evidently
strangely made! Why, too, should he write a letter            a document of importance. It has been kept care-
now, rather than six years ago? Again, the letter             fully in a pocket-book; for the one side is as clean
speaks of giving her justice. What justice can she            as the other.”
have? It is too much to suppose that her father is
still alive. There is no other injustice in her case              “It was in his pocket-book that we found it.”
that you know of.”                                                “Preserve it carefully, then, Miss Morstan, for
                                                              it may prove to be of use to us. I begin to suspect
    “There are difficulties; there are certainly dif-          that this matter may turn out to be much deeper
ficulties,” said Sherlock Holmes, pensively. “But              and more subtle than I at first supposed. I must
our expedition of to-night will solve them all. Ah,           reconsider my ideas.” He leaned back in the cab,
here is a four-wheeler, and Miss Morstan is inside.           and I could see by his drawn brow and his vacant
Are you all ready? Then we had better go down,                eye that he was thinking intently. Miss Morstan
for it is a little past the hour.”                            and I chatted in an undertone about our present
    I picked up my hat and my heaviest stick, but             expedition and its possible outcome, but our com-
I observed that Holmes took his revolver from his             panion maintained his impenetrable reserve until
drawer and slipped it into his pocket. It was clear           the end of our journey.

                                                         73
                                        The Sign of the Four

    It was a September evening, and not yet seven      Morstan’s demeanor was as resolute and collected
o’clock, but the day had been a dreary one,            as ever. I endeavored to cheer and amuse her by
and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great         reminiscences of my adventures in Afghanistan;
city. Mud-colored clouds drooped sadly over the        but, to tell the truth, I was myself so excited at our
muddy streets. Down the Strand the lamps were          situation and so curious as to our destination that
but misty splotches of diffused light which threw a    my stories were slightly involved. To this day she
feeble circular glimmer upon the slimy pavement.       declares that I told her one moving anecdote as to
The yellow glare from the shop-windows streamed        how a musket looked into my tent at the dead of
out into the steamy, vaporous air, and threw a         night, and how I fired a double-barrelled tiger cub
murky, shifting radiance across the crowded thor-      at it. At first I had some idea as to the direction
oughfare. There was, to my mind, something             in which we were driving; but soon, what with
eerie and ghost-like in the endless procession of      our pace, the fog, and my own limited knowledge
faces which flitted across these narrow bars of         of London, I lost my bearings, and knew nothing,
light,—sad faces and glad, haggard and merry.          save that we seemed to be going a very long way.
Like all human kind, they flitted from the gloom        Sherlock Holmes was never at fault, however, and
into the light, and so back into the gloom once        he muttered the names as the cab rattled through
more. I am not subject to impressions, but the dull,   squares and in and out by tortuous by-streets.
heavy evening, with the strange business upon             “Rochester Row,” said he.        “Now Vincent
which we were engaged, combined to make me             Square. Now we come out on the Vauxhall Bridge
nervous and depressed. I could see from Miss           Road. We are making for the Surrey side, appar-
Morstan’s manner that she was suffering from the       ently. Yes, I thought so. Now we are on the bridge.
same feeling. Holmes alone could rise superior to      You can catch glimpses of the river.”
petty influences. He held his open note-book upon
his knee, and from time to time he jotted down             We did indeed bet a fleeting view of a stretch
figures and memoranda in the light of his pocket-       of the Thames with the lamps shining upon the
lantern.                                               broad, silent water; but our cab dashed on, and
                                                       was soon involved in a labyrinth of streets upon
    At the Lyceum Theatre the crowds were al-
                                                       the other side.
ready thick at the side-entrances. In front a
continuous stream of hansoms and four-wheelers            “Wordsworth Road,” said my companion.
were rattling up, discharging their cargoes of         “Priory Road. Lark Hall Lane. Stockwell Place.
shirt-fronted men and beshawled, bediamonded           Robert Street. Cold Harbor Lane. Our quest does
women. We had hardly reached the third pillar,         not appear to take us to very fashionable regions.”
which was our rendezvous, before a small, dark,            We had, indeed, reached a questionable and
brisk man in the dress of a coachman accosted us.      forbidding neighborhood. Long lines of dull brick
    “Are you the parties who come with Miss            houses were only relieved by the coarse glare and
Morstan?” he asked.                                    tawdry brilliancy of public houses at the corner.
    “I am Miss Morstan, and these two gentlemen        Then came rows of two-storied villas each with a
are my friends,” said she.                             fronting of miniature garden, and then again inter-
    He bent a pair of wonderfully penetrating and      minable lines of new staring brick buildings,—the
questioning eyes upon us. “You will excuse me,         monster tentacles which the giant city was throw-
miss,” he said with a certain dogged manner, “but      ing out into the country. At last the cab drew
I was to ask you to give me your word that neither     up at the third house in a new terrace. None
of your companions is a police-officer.”                of the other houses were inhabited, and that at
    “I give you my word on that,” she answered.        which we stopped was as dark as its neighbors,
    He gave a shrill whistle, on which a street Arab   save for a single glimmer in the kitchen window.
led across a four-wheeler and opened the door.         On our knocking, however, the door was instantly
The man who had addressed us mounted to the            thrown open by a Hindoo servant clad in a yellow
box, while we took our places inside. We had           turban, white loose-fitting clothes, and a yellow
hardly done so before the driver whipped up his        sash. There was something strangely incongruous
horse, and we plunged away at a furious pace           in this Oriental figure framed in the commonplace
through the foggy streets.                             door-way of a third-rate suburban dwelling-house.
    The situation was a curious one. We were               “The Sahib awaits you,” said he, and even as he
driving to an unknown place, on an unknown             spoke there came a high piping voice from some
errand. Yet our invitation was either a com-           inner room. “Show them in to me, khitmutgar,“ it
plete hoax,—which was an inconceivable hypoth-         cried. ”Show them straight in to me.”
esis,—or else we had good reason to think that im-
portant issues might hang upon our journey. Miss 74
                                           The Sign of the Four

                                            CHAPTER IV.
                               The Story of the Bald-Headed Man

    We followed the Indian down a sordid and                     I listened to his heart, as requested, but was
common passage, ill lit and worse furnished, un-             unable to find anything amiss, save indeed that he
til he came to a door upon the right, which he               was in an ecstasy of fear, for he shivered from head
threw open. A blaze of yellow light streamed out             to foot. “It appears to be normal,” I said. “You
upon us, and in the centre of the glare there stood          have no cause for uneasiness.”
a small man with a very high head, a bristle of                  “You will excuse my anxiety, Miss Morstan,”
red hair all round the fringe of it, and a bald,             he remarked, airily. “I am a great sufferer, and I
shining scalp which shot out from among it like              have long had suspicions as to that valve. I am
a mountain-peak from fir-trees. He writhed his                delighted to hear that they are unwarranted. Had
hands together as he stood, and his features were            your father, Miss Morstan, refrained from throw-
in a perpetual jerk, now smiling, now scowling,              ing a strain upon his heart, he might have been
but never for an instant in repose. Nature had               alive now.”
given him a pendulous lip, and a too visible line
of yellow and irregular teeth, which he strove fee-             I could have struck the man across the face, so
bly to conceal by constantly passing his hand over           hot was I at this callous and off-hand reference to
the lower part of his face. In spite of his obtru-           so delicate a matter. Miss Morstan sat down, and
sive baldness, he gave the impression of youth. In           her face grew white to the lips. “I knew in my
point of fact he had just turned his thirtieth year.         heart that he was dead,” said she.
    “Your servant, Miss Morstan,” he kept repeat-                 “I can give you every information,” said he,
ing, in a thin, high voice. “Your servant, gentle-           “and, what is more, I can do you justice; and I
men. Pray step into my little sanctum. A small               will, too, whatever Brother Bartholomew may say.
place, miss, but furnished to my own liking. An              I am so glad to have your friends here, not only
oasis of art in the howling desert of South Lon-             as an escort to you, but also as witnesses to what
don.”                                                        I am about to do and say. The three of us can
                                                             show a bold front to Brother Bartholomew. But
    We were all astonished by the appearance o the
                                                             let us have no outsiders,—no police or officials.
apartment into which he invited us. In that sorry
                                                             We can settle everything satisfactorily among our-
house it looked as out of place as a diamond of
                                                             selves, without any interference. Nothing would
the first water in a setting of brass. The richest
                                                             annoy Brother Bartholomew more than any pub-
and glossiest of curtains and tapestries draped the
                                                             licity.” He sat down upon a low settee and blinked
walls, looped back here and there to expose some
                                                             at us inquiringly with his weak, watery blue eyes.
richly-mounted painting or Oriental vase. The car-
pet was of amber-and-black, so soft and so thick               “For my part,” said Holmes, “whatever you
that the foot sank pleasantly into it, as into a bed         may choose to say will go no further.”
of moss. Two great tiger-skins thrown athwart it                I nodded to show my agreement.
increased the suggestion of Eastern luxury, as did               “That is well! That is well!” said he. “May I
a huge hookah which stood upon a mat in the cor-             offer you a glass of Chianti, Miss Morstan? Or of
ner. A lamp in the fashion of a silver dove was              Tokay? I keep no other wines. Shall I open a flask?
hung from an almost invisible golden wire in the             No? Well, then, I trust that you have no objection
centre of the room. As it burned it filled the air            to tobacco-smoke, to the mild balsamic odor of the
with a subtle and aromatic odor.                             Eastern tobacco. I am a little nervous, and I find
    “Mr. Thaddeus Sholto,” said the little man, still        my hookah an invaluable sedative.” He applied a
jerking and smiling. “That is my name. You are               taper to the great bowl, and the smoke bubbled
Miss Morstan, of course. And these gentlemen—”               merrily through the rose-water. We sat all three
    “This is Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and this is Dr.            in a semicircle, with our heads advanced, and our
Watson.”                                                     chins upon our hands, while the strange, jerky lit-
    “A doctor, eh?” cried he, much excited. “Have            tle fellow, with his high, shining head, puffed un-
you your stethoscope? Might I ask you—would                  easily in the centre.
you have the kindness? I have grave doubts as                   “When I first determined to make this commu-
to my mitral valve, if you would be so very good.            nication to you,” said he, “I might have given you
The aortic I may rely upon, but I should value your          my address, but I feared that you might disregard
opinion upon the mitral.”                                    my request and bring unpleasant people with you.

                                                        75
                                           The Sign of the Four

I took the liberty, therefore, of making an appoint-         We read the details in the papers, and, knowing
ment in such a way that my man Williams might                that he had been a friend of our father’s, we dis-
be able to see you first. I have complete confidence           cussed the case freely in his presence. He used
in his discretion, and he had orders, if he were dis-        to join in our speculations as to what could have
satisfied, to proceed no further in the matter. You           happened. Never for an instant did we suspect
will excuse these precautions, but I am a man of             that he had the whole secret hidden in his own
somewhat retiring, and I might even say refined,              breast,—that of all men he alone knew the fate of
tastes, and there is nothing more unaesthetic than           Arthur Morstan.
a policeman. I have a natural shrinking from all
forms of rough materialism. I seldom come in                     “We did know, however, that some mys-
contact with the rough crowd. I live, as you see,            tery—some positive danger—overhung our father.
with some little atmosphere of elegance around               He was very fearful of going out alone, and he al-
me. I may call myself a patron of the arts. It is            ways employed two prize-fighters to act as porters
my weakness. The landscape is a genuine Corot,               at Pondicherry Lodge. Williams, who drove you
and, though a connoisseur might perhaps throw a              to-night, was one of them. He was once light-
doubt upon that Salvator Rosa, there cannot be the           weight champion of England. Our father would
least question about the Bouguereau. I am partial            never tell us what it was he feared, but he had a
to the modern French school.”                                most marked aversion to men with wooden legs.
                                                             On one occasion he actually fired his revolver at a
    “You will excuse me, Mr. Sholto,” said Miss              wooden-legged man, who proved to be a harmless
Morstan, “but I am here at your request to learn             tradesman canvassing for orders. We had to pay a
something which you desire to tell me. It is very            large sum to hush the matter up. My brother and I
late, and I should desire the interview to be as             used to think this a mere whim of my father’s, but
short as possible.”                                          events have since led us to change our opinion.
    “At the best it must take some time,” he an-
swered; “for we shall certainly have to go to Nor-               “Early in 1882 my father received a letter from
wood and see Brother Bartholomew. We shall all               India which was a great shock to him. He nearly
go and try if we can get the better of Brother               fainted at the breakfast-table when he opened it,
Bartholomew. He is very angry with me for tak-               and from that day he sickened to his death. What
ing the course which has seemed right to me. I               was in the letter we could never discover, but I
had quite high words with him last night. You                could see as he held it that it was short and writ-
cannot imagine what a terrible fellow he is when             ten in a scrawling hand. He had suffered for
he is angry.”                                                years from an enlarged spleen, but he now became
                                                             rapidly worse, and towards the end of April we
   “If we are to go to Norwood it would perhaps
                                                             were informed that he was beyond all hope, and
be as well to start at once,” I ventured to remark.
                                                             that he wished to make a last communication to
    He laughed until his ears were quite red. “That          us.
would hardly do,” he cried. “I don’t know what
he would say if I brought you in that sudden way.                “When we entered his room he was propped
No, I must prepare you by showing you how we                 up with pillows and breathing heavily. He be-
all stand to each other. In the first place, I must           sought us to lock the door and to come upon ei-
tell you that there are several points in the story          ther side of the bed. Then, grasping our hands,
of which I am myself ignorant. I can only lay the            he made a remarkable statement to us, in a voice
facts before you as far as I know them myself.               which was broken as much by emotion as by pain.
    “My father was, as you may have guessed, Ma-             I shall try and give it to you in his own very words.
jor John Sholto, once of the Indian army. He re-                 “ ‘I have only one thing,’ he said, ‘which weighs
tired some eleven years ago, and came to live at             upon my mind at this supreme moment. It is my
Pondicherry Lodge in Upper Norwood. He had                   treatment of poor Morstan’s orphan. The cursed
prospered in India, and brought back with him                greed which has been my besetting sin through life
a considerable sum of money, a large collection              has withheld from her the treasure, half at least of
of valuable curiosities, and a staff of native ser-          which should have been hers. And yet I have made
vants. With these advantages he bought himself a             no use of it myself,—so blind and foolish a thing
house, and lived in great luxury. My twin-brother            is avarice. The mere feeling of possession has been
Bartholomew and I were the only children.                    so dear to me that I could not bear to share it with
   “I very well remember the sensation which was             another. See that chaplet dipped with pearls be-
caused by the disappearance of Captain Morstan.              side the quinine-bottle. Even that I could not bear

                                                        76
                                           The Sign of the Four

to part with, although I had got it out with the de-         in the matter. My fault lies in the fact that we con-
sign of sending it to her. You, my sons, will give           cealed not only the body, but also the treasure, and
her a fair share of the Agra treasure. But send her          that I have clung to Morstan’s share as well as to
nothing—not even the chaplet—until I am gone.                my own. I wish you, therefore, to make restitution.
After all, men have been as bad as this and have             Put your ears down to my mouth. The treasure is
recovered.                                                   hidden in—At this instant a horrible change came
                                                             over his expression; his eyes stared wildly, his jaw
    “ ‘I will tell you how Morstan died,’ he contin-
                                                             dropped, and he yelled, in a voice which I can
ued. ‘He had suffered for years from a weak heart,
                                                             never forget, ‘Keep him out! For Christ’s sake keep
but he concealed it from every one. I alone knew
                                                             him out’! We both stared round at the window be-
it. When in India, he and I, through a remark-
                                                             hind us upon which his gaze was fixed. A face
able chain of circumstances, came into possession
                                                             was looking in at us out of the darkness. We could
of a considerable treasure. I brought it over to Eng-
                                                             see the whitening of the nose where it was pressed
land, and on the night of Morstan’s arrival he came
                                                             against the glass. It was a bearded, hairy face, with
straight over here to claim his share. He walked
                                                             wild cruel eyes and an expression of concentrated
over from the station, and was admitted by my
                                                             malevolence. My brother and I rushed towards
faithful Lal Chowdar, who is now dead. Morstan
                                                             the window, but the man was gone. When we re-
and I had a difference of opinion as to the divi-
                                                             turned to my father his head had dropped and his
sion of the treasure, and we came to heated words.
                                                             pulse had ceased to beat.
Morstan had sprung out of his chair in a parox-
ysm of anger, when he suddenly pressed his hand                  “We searched the garden that night, but found
to his side, his face turned a dusky hue, and he             no sign of the intruder, save that just under the
fell backwards, cutting his head against the corner          window a single footmark was visible in the
of the treasure-chest. When I stooped over him I             flower-bed. But for that one trace, we might have
found, to my horror, that he was dead.                       thought that our imaginations had conjured up
                                                             that wild, fierce face. We soon, however, had an-
   “ ‘For a long time I sat half distracted, wonder-         other and a more striking proof that there were
ing what I should do. My first impulse was, of                secret agencies at work all round us. The window
course, to call for assistance; but I could not but          of my father’s room was found open in the morn-
recognize that there was every chance that I would           ing, his cupboards and boxes had been rifled, and
be accused of his murder. His death at the moment            upon his chest was fixed a torn piece of paper, with
of a quarrel, and the gash in his head, would be             the words ‘The sign of the four’ scrawled across it.
black against me. Again, an official inquiry could            What the phrase meant, or who our secret visitor
not be made without bringing out some facts about            may have been, we never knew. As far as we can
the treasure, which I was particularly anxious to            judge, none of my father’s property had been ac-
keep secret. He had told me that no soul upon                tually stolen, though everything had been turned
earth knew where he had gone. There seemed to                out. My brother and I naturally associated this
be no necessity why any soul ever should know.               peculiar incident with the fear which haunted my
    “ ‘I was still pondering over the matter, when,          father during his life; but it is still a complete mys-
looking up, I saw my servant, Lal Chowdar, in the            tery to us.”
doorway. He stole in and bolted the door behind                  The little man stopped to relight his hookah
him. “Do not fear, Sahib,” he said. “No one need             and puffed thoughtfully for a few moments. We
know that you have killed him. Let us hide him               had all sat absorbed, listening to his extraordi-
away, and who is the wiser?” “I did not kill him,”           nary narrative. At the short account of her father’s
said I. Lal Chowdar shook his head and smiled. “I            death Miss Morstan had turned deadly white, and
heard it all, Sahib,” said he. “I heard you quar-            for a moment I feared that she was about to faint.
rel, and I heard the blow. But my lips are sealed.           She rallied however, on drinking a glass of water
All are asleep in the house. Let us put him away             which I quietly poured out for her from a Vene-
together.” That was enough to decide met. If my              tian carafe upon the side-table. Sherlock Holmes
own servant could not believe my innocence, how              leaned back in his chair with an abstracted ex-
could I hope to make it good before twelve fool-             pression and the lids drawn low over his glittering
ish tradesmen in a jury-box? Lal Chowdar and I               eyes. As I glanced at him I could not but think
disposed of the body that night, and within a few            how on that very day he had complained bitterly
days the London papers were full of the mysteri-             of the commonplaceness of life. Here at least was
ous disappearance of Captain Morstan. You will               a problem which would tax his sagacity to the ut-
see from what I say that I can hardly be blamed              most. Mr. Thaddeus Sholto looked from one to

                                                        77
                                            The Sign of the Four

the other of us with an obvious pride at the effect           Miss Morstan remarked just now, it is late, and we
which his story had produced, and then continued              had best put the matter through without delay.”
between the puffs of his overgrown pipe.
                                                                  Our new acquaintance very deliberately coiled
    “My brother and I,” said he, “were, as you may            up the tube of his hookah, and produced from
imagine, much excited as to the treasure which my             behind a curtain a very long befrogged topcoat
father had spoken of. For weeks and for months                with Astrakhan collar and cuffs. This he buttoned
we dug and delved in every part of the garden,                tightly up, in spite of the extreme closeness of
without discovering its whereabouts. It was mad-              the night, and finished his attire by putting on a
dening to think that the hiding-place was on his              rabbit-skin cap with hanging lappets which cov-
very lips at the moment that he died. We could                ered the ears, so that no part of him was visible
judge the splendor of the missing riches by the               save his mobile and peaky face. “My health is
chaplet which he had taken out. Over this chaplet             somewhat fragile,“ he remarked, as he led the way
my brother Bartholomew and I had some little dis-             down the passage. ”I am compelled to be a vale-
cussion. The pearls were evidently of great value,            tudinarian.”
and he was averse to part with them, for, between
friends, my brother was himself a little inclined                 Our cab was awaiting us outside, and our pro-
to my father’s fault. He thought, too, that if we             gramme was evidently prearranged, for the driver
parted with the chaplet it might give rise to gossip          started off at once at a rapid pace. Thaddeus
and finally bring us into trouble. It was all that I           Sholto talked incessantly, in a voice which rose
could do to persuade him to let me find out Miss               high above the rattle of the wheels.
Morstan’s address and send her a detached pearl
                                                                  “Bartholomew is a clever fellow,” said he.
at fixed intervals, so that at least she might never
                                                              “How do you think he found out where the trea-
feel destitute.”
                                                              sure was? He had come to the conclusion that
   “It was a kindly thought,” said our companion,             it was somewhere indoors: so he worked out all
earnestly. “It was extremely good of you.”                    the cubic space of the house, and made measure-
    The little man waved his hand deprecatingly.              ments everywhere, so that not one inch should be
“We were your trustees,“ he said. ”That was                   unaccounted for. Among other things, he found
the view which I took of it, though Brother                   that the height of the building was seventy-four
Bartholomew could not altogether see it in that               feet, but on adding together the heights of all the
light. We had plenty of money ourselves. I desired            separate rooms, and making every allowance for
no more. Besides, it would have been such bad                 the space between, which he ascertained by bor-
taste to have treated a young lady in so scurvy               ings, he could not bring the total to more than
a fashion. ‘Le mauvais gout m`ne au crime.’ The
                             ˆ    e                           seventy feet. There were four feet unaccounted
French have a very neat way of putting these                  for. These could only be at the top of the build-
things. Our difference of opinion on this subject             ing. He knocked a hole, therefore, in the lath-and-
went so far that I thought it best to set up rooms for        plaster ceiling of the highest room, and there, sure
myself: so I left Pondicherry Lodge, taking the old           enough, he came upon another little garret above
khitmutgar and Williams with me. Yesterday, how-              it, which had been sealed up and was known to
ever, I learn that an event of extreme importance             no one. In the centre stood the treasure-chest, rest-
has occurred. The treasure has been discovered. I             ing upon two rafters. He lowered it through the
instantly communicated with Miss Morstan, and it              hole, and there it lies. He computes the value of
only remains for us to drive out to Norwood and               the jewels at not less than half a million sterling.”
demand our share. I explained my views last night
to Brother Bartholomew: so we shall be expected,                  At the mention of this gigantic sum we all
if not welcome, visitors.”                                    stared at one another open-eyed. Miss Morstan,
                                                              could we secure her rights, would change from a
   Mr. Thaddeus Sholto ceased, and sat twitching              needy governess to the richest heiress in England.
on his luxurious settee. We all remained silent,              Surely it was the place of a loyal friend to rejoice
with our thoughts upon the new development                    at such news; yet I am ashamed to say that self-
which the mysterious business had taken. Holmes               ishness took me by the soul, and that my heart
was the first to spring to his feet.                           turned as heavy as lead within me. I stammered
    “You have done well, sir, from first to last,”             out some few halting words of congratulation,
said he. “It is possible that we may be able to               and then sat downcast, with my head drooped,
make you some small return by throwing some                   deaf to the babble of our new acquaintance. He
light upon that which is still dark to you. But, as           was clearly a confirmed hypochondriac, and I was

                                                         78
                                          The Sign of the Four

dreamily conscious that he was pouring forth in-            taking more than two drops of castor oil, while I
terminable trains of symptoms, and imploring in-            recommended strychnine in large doses as a seda-
formation as to the composition and action of in-           tive. However that may be, I was certainly relieved
numerable quack nostrums, some of which he bore             when our cab pulled up with a jerk and the coach-
about in a leather case in his pocket. I trust that         man sprang down to open the door.
he may not remember any of the answers which I
gave him that night. Holmes declares that he over-             “This, Miss Morstan, is Pondicherry Lodge,”
heard me caution him against the great danger of            said Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, as he handed her out.




                                            CHAPTER V.
                               The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge

    It was nearly eleven o’clock when we reached                This was an unexpected obstacle. Thaddeus
this final stage of our night’s adventures. We had           Sholto looked about him in a perplexed and help-
left the damp fog of the great city behind us, and          less manner. “This is too bad of you, McMurdo!”
the night was fairly fine. A warm wind blew from             he said. “If I guarantee them, that is enough for
the westward, and heavy clouds moved slowly                 you. There is the young lady, too. She cannot wait
across the sky, with half a moon peeping occasion-          on the public road at this hour.”
ally through the rifts. It was clear enough to see              “Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus,” said the porter, in-
for some distance, but Thaddeus Sholto took down            exorably. “Folk may be friends o’ yours, and yet
one of the side-lamps from the carriage to give us          no friends o’ the master’s. He pays me well to do
a better light upon our way.                                my duty, and my duty I’ll do. I don’t know none
   Pondicherry Lodge stood in its own grounds,              o’ your friends.”
and was girt round with a very high stone wall                 “Oh, yes you do, McMurdo,” cried Sherlock
topped with broken glass. A single narrow iron-             Holmes, genially. “I don’t think you can have for-
clamped door formed the only means of en-                   gotten me. Don’t you remember the amateur who
trance. On this our guide knocked with a peculiar           fought three rounds with you at Alison’s rooms on
postman-like rat-tat.                                       the night of your benefit four years back?”
   “Who is there?” cried a gruff voice from within.             “Not Mr. Sherlock Holmes!” roared the prize-
   “It is I, McMurdo. You surely know my knock              fighter. “God’s truth! how could I have mistook
by this time.”                                              you? If instead o’ standin’ there so quiet you had
                                                            just stepped up and given me that cross-hit of
   There was a grumbling sound and a clanking               yours under the jaw, I’d ha’ known you without
and jarring of keys. The door swung heavily back,           a question. Ah, you’re one that has wasted your
and a short, deep-chested man stood in the open-            gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you
ing, with the yellow light of the lantern shining           had joined the fancy.”
upon his protruded face and twinkling distrustful
eyes.                                                           “You see, Watson, if all else fails me I have still
                                                            one of the scientific professions open to me,“ said
   “That you, Mr. Thaddeus? But who are the oth-            Holmes, laughing. “Our friend won’t keep us out
ers? I had no orders about them from the master.”           in the cold now, I am sure.”
   “No, McMurdo? You surprise me! I told my                     “In you come, sir, in you come,—you and your
brother last night that I should bring some friends.        friends,” he answered. “Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus,
    “He ain’t been out o’ his room to-day, Mr.              but orders are very strict. Had to be certain of your
Thaddeus, and I have no orders. You know very               friends before I let them in.”
well that I must stick to regulations. I can let you            Inside, a gravel path wound through deso-
in, but your friends must just stop where they are.”        late grounds to a huge clump of a house, square

                                                       79
                                            The Sign of the Four

and prosaic, all plunged in shadow save where a               whom no word or even look of affection had ever
moonbeam struck one corner and glimmered in                   passed, and yet now in an hour of trouble our
a garret window. The vast size of the building,               hands instinctively sought for each other. I have
with its gloom and its deathly silence, struck a chill        marvelled at it since, but at the time it seemed the
to the heart. Even Thaddeus Sholto seemed ill at              most natural thing that I should go out to her so,
ease, and the lantern quivered and rattled in his             and, as she has often told me, there was in her also
hand.                                                         the instinct to turn to me for comfort and protec-
    “I cannot understand it,” he said. “There must            tion. So we stood hand in hand, like two children,
be some mistake. I distinctly told Bartholomew                and there was peace in our hearts for all the dark
that we should be here, and yet there is no light in          things that surrounded us.
his window. I do not know what to make of it.”                   “What a strange place!” she said, looking
  “Does he always guard the premises in this                  round.
way?” asked Holmes.                                              “It looks as though all the moles in England
    “Yes; he has followed my father’s custom. He              had been let loose in it. I have seen something of
was the favorite son, you know, and I sometimes               the sort on the side of a hill near Ballarat, where
think that my father may have told him more than              the prospectors had been at work.”
he ever told me. That is Bartholomew’s window                    “And from the same cause,” said Holmes.
up there where the moonshine strikes. It is quite             “These are the traces of the treasure-seekers. You
bright, but there is no light from within, I think.”          must remember that they were six years looking
    “None,” said Holmes. “But I see the glint of a            for it. No wonder that the grounds look like a
light in that little window beside the door.”                 gravel-pit.”
   “Ah, that is the housekeeper’s room. That is                  At that moment the door of the house burst
where old Mrs. Bernstone sits. She can tell us all            open, and Thaddeus Sholto came running out,
about it. But perhaps you would not mind wait-                with his hands thrown forward and terror in his
ing here for a minute or two, for if we all go in             eyes.
together and she has no word of our coming she                    “There is something amiss with Bartholomew!”
may be alarmed. But hush! what is that?”                      he cried. “I am frightened! My nerves cannot
    He held up the lantern, and his hand shook                stand it.” He was, indeed, half blubbering with
until the circles of light flickered and wavered all           fear, and his twitching feeble face peeping out
round us. Miss Morstan seized my wrist, and                   from the great Astrakhan collar had the helpless
we all stood with thumping hearts, straining our              appealing expression of a terrified child.
ears. From the great black house there sounded                    “Come into the house,” said Holmes, in his
through the silent night the saddest and most piti-           crisp, firm way.
ful of sounds,—the shrill, broken whimpering of a
                                                                 “Yes, do!” pleaded Thaddeus Sholto. “I really
frightened woman.
                                                              do not feel equal to giving directions.”
   “It is Mrs. Bernstone,” said Sholto. “She is the
only woman in the house. Wait here. I shall be                    We all followed him into the housekeeper’s
back in a moment.” He hurried for the door, and               room, which stood upon the left-hand side of the
knocked in his peculiar way. We could see a tall              passage. The old woman was pacing up and down
old woman admit him, and sway with pleasure at                with a scared look and restless picking fingers,
the very sight of him.                                        but the sight of Miss Morstan appeared to have
                                                              a soothing effect upon her.
    “Oh, Mr. Thaddeus, sir, I am so glad you have
come! I am so glad you have come, Mr. Thaddeus,                  “God bless your sweet calm face!” she cried,
sir!” We heard her reiterated rejoicings until the            with an hysterical sob. “It does me good to see
door was closed and her voice died away into a                you. Oh, but I have been sorely tried this day!”
muffled monotone.                                                  Our companion patted her thin, work-worn
   Our guide had left us the lantern. Holmes                  hand, and murmured some few words of kindly
swung it slowly round, and peered keenly at the               womanly comfort which brought the color back
house, and at the great rubbish-heaps which cum-              into the others bloodless cheeks.
bered the grounds. Miss Morstan and I stood to-                  “Master has locked himself in and will now an-
gether, and her hand was in mine. A wondrous                  swer me,” she explained. “All day I have waited to
subtle thing is love, for here were we two who                hear from him, for he often likes to be alone; but
had never seen each other before that day, between            an hour ago I feared that something was amiss, so

                                                         80
                                             The Sign of the Four

I went up and peeped through the key-hole. You                    “This is terrible!” I said to Holmes. “What is to
must go up, Mr. Thaddeus,—you must go up and                   be done?”
look for yourself. I have seen Mr. Bartholomew                     “The door must come down,” he answered,
Sholto in joy and in sorrow for ten long years, but            and, springing against it, he put all his weight
I never saw him with such a face on him as that.”              upon the lock. It creaked and groaned, but did not
    Sherlock Holmes took the lamp and led the                  yield. Together we flung ourselves upon it once
way, for Thaddeus Sholto’s teeth were chattering               more, and this time it gave way with a sudden
in his head. So shaken was he that I had to pass               snap, and we found ourselves within Bartholomew
my hand under his arm as we went up the stairs,                Sholto’s chamber.
for his knees were trembling under him. Twice                      It appeared to have been fitted up as a chemical
as we ascended Holmes whipped his lens out of                  laboratory. A double line of glass-stoppered bot-
his pocket and carefully examined marks which                  tles was drawn up upon the wall opposite the door,
appeared to me to be mere shapeless smudges of                 and the table was littered over with Bunsen burn-
dust upon the cocoa-nut matting which served as                ers, test-tubes, and retorts. In the corners stood
a stair-carpet. He walked slowly from step to step,            carboys of acid in wicker baskets. One of these ap-
holding the lamp, and shooting keen glances to                 peared to leak or to have been broken, for a stream
right and left. Miss Morstan had remained behind               of dark-colored liquid had trickled out from it, and
with the frightened housekeeper.                               the air was heavy with a peculiarly pungent, tar-
                                                               like odor. A set of steps stood at one side of the
    The third flight of stairs ended in a straight pas-         room, in the midst of a litter of lath and plaster,
sage of some length, with a great picture in Indian            and above them there was an opening in the ceil-
tapestry upon the right of it and three doors upon             ing large enough for a man to pass through. At
the left. Holmes advanced along it in the same                 the foot of the steps a long coil of rope was thrown
slow and methodical way, while we kept close at                carelessly together.
his heels, with our long black shadows stream-
                                                                   By the table, in a wooden arm-chair, the mas-
ing backwards down the corridor. The third door
                                                               ter of the house was seated all in a heap, with
was that which we were seeking. Holmes knocked
                                                               his head sunk upon his left shoulder, and that
without receiving any answer, and then tried to
                                                               ghastly, inscrutable smile upon his face. He was
turn the handle and force it open. It was locked
                                                               stiff and cold, and had clearly been dead many
on the inside, however, and by a broad and pow-
                                                               hours. It seemed to me that not only his features
erful bolt, as we could see when we set our lamp
                                                               but all his limbs were twisted and turned in the
up against it. The key being turned, however, the
                                                               most fantastic fashion. By his hand upon the table
hole was not entirely closed. Sherlock Holmes bent
                                                               there lay a peculiar instrument,—a brown, close-
down to it, and instantly rose again with a sharp
                                                               grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer,
intaking of the breath.
                                                               rudely lashed on with coarse twine. Beside it
   “There is something devilish in this, Watson,”              was a torn sheet of note-paper with some words
said he, more moved than I had ever before seen                scrawled upon it. Holmes glanced at it, and then
him. “What do you make of it?”                                 handed it to me.
                                                                  “You see,” he said, with a significant raising of
    I stooped to the hole, and recoiled in horror.
                                                               the eyebrows.
Moonlight was streaming into the room, and it was
bright with a vague and shifty radiance. Look-                    In the light of the lantern I read, with a thrill of
ing straight at me, and suspended, as it were, in              horror, “The sign of the four.”
the air, for all beneath was in shadow, there hung                “In God’s name, what does it all mean?” I
a face,—the very face of our companion Thad-                   asked.
deus. There was the same high, shining head, the                  “It means murder,” said he, stooping over the
same circular bristle of red hair, the same bloodless          dead man. “Ah, I expected it. Look here!” He
countenance. The features were set, however, in a              pointed to what looked like a long, dark thorn
horrible smile, a fixed and unnatural grin, which               stuck in the skin just above the ear.
in that still and moonlit room was more jarring
                                                                  “It looks like a thorn,” said I.
to the nerves than any scowl or contortion. So like
was the face to that of our little friend that I looked            “It is a thorn. You may pick it out. But be care-
round at him to make sure that he was indeed with              ful, for it is poisoned.”
us. Then I recalled to mind that he had mentioned                 I took it up between my finger and thumb. It
to us that his brother and he were twins.                      came away from the skin so readily that hardly

                                                          81
                                           The Sign of the Four

any mark was left behind. One tiny speck of blood               “What time was that?”
showed where the puncture had been.                              “It was ten o’clock. And now he is dead, and
    “This is all an insoluble mystery to me,” said I.        the police will be called in, and I shall be sus-
“It grows darker instead of clearer.”                        pected of having had a hand in it. Oh, yes, I am
   “On the contrary,” he answered, “it clears ev-            sure I shall. But you don’t think so, gentlemen?
ery instant. I only require a few missing links to           Surely you don’t think that it was I? Is it likely
have an entirely connected case.”                            that I would have brought you here if it were I?
   We had almost forgotten our companion’s pres-             Oh, dear! oh, dear! I know that I shall go mad!”
                                                             He jerked his arms and stamped his feet in a kind
ence since we entered the chamber. He was still
standing in the door-way, the very picture of terror,        of convulsive frenzy.
wringing his hands and moaning to himself. Sud-                  “You have no reason for fear, Mr. Sholto,” said
denly, however, he broke out into a sharp, queru-            Holmes, kindly, putting his hand upon his shoul-
lous cry.                                                    der. “Take my advice, and drive down to the sta-
    “The treasure is gone!” he said. “They have              tion to report this matter to the police. Offer to
robbed him of the treasure! There is the hole                assist them in every way. We shall wait here until
through which we lowered it. I helped him to do              your return.”
it! I was the last person who saw him! I left him                The little man obeyed in a half-stupefied fash-
here last night, and I heard him lock the door as I          ion, and we heard him stumbling down the stairs
came down-stairs.”                                           in the dark.




                                            CHAPTER VI.
                           Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration

     “Now, Watson,” said Holmes, rubbing his                 and here again upon the floor, and here again by
hands, “we have half an hour to ourselves. Let               the table. See here, Watson! This is really a very
us make good use of it. My case is, as I have told           pretty demonstration.”
you, almost complete; but we must not err on the                I looked at the round, well-defined muddy
side of over-confidence. Simple as the case seems             discs. “This is not a footmark,” said I.
now, there may be something deeper underlying
it.”                                                             “It is something much more valuable to us. It
                                                             is the impression of a wooden stump. You see here
   “Simple!” I ejaculated.                                   on the sill is the boot-mark, a heavy boot with the
                                                             broad metal heel, and beside it is the mark of the
    “Surely,” said he, with something of the air of          timber-toe.”
a clinical professor expounding to his class. “Just
sit in the corner there, that your footprints may               “It is the wooden-legged man.”
not complicate matters. Now to work! In the first                “Quite so. But there has been some one else,—a
place, how did these folk come, and how did they             very able and efficient ally. Could you scale that
go? The door has not been opened since last night.           wall, doctor?”
How of the window?” He carried the lamp across                    I looked out of the open window. The moon
to it, muttering his observations aloud the while,           still shone brightly on that angle of the house. We
but addressing them to himself rather than to me.            were a good sixty feet from the round, and, look
“Window is snibbed on the inner side. Framework              where I would, I could see no foothold, nor as
is solid. No hinges at the side. Let us open it. No          much as a crevice in the brick-work.
water-pipe near. Roof quite out of reach. Yet a
man has mounted by the window. It rained a lit-                 “It is absolutely impossible,” I answered.
tle last night. Here is the print of a foot in mould             “Without aid it is so. But suppose you had a
upon the sill. And here is a circular muddy mark,            friend up here who lowered you this good stout

                                                        82
                                             The Sign of the Four

rope which I see in the corner, securing one end               floor was formed by the rafters, with thin lath-and-
of it to this great hook in the wall. Then, I think,           plaster between, so that in walking one had to step
if you were an active man, you might swarm up,                 from beam to beam. The roof ran up to an apex,
wooden leg and all. You would depart, of course,               and was evidently the inner shell of the true roof
in the same fashion, and your ally would draw up               of the house. There was no furniture of any sort,
the rope, untie it from the hook, shut the window,             and the accumulated dust of years lay thick upon
snib it on the inside, and get away in the way that            the floor.
he originally came. As a minor point it may be
                                                                   “Here you are, you see,” said Sherlock Holmes,
noted,” he continued, fingering the rope, “that our
                                                               putting his hand against the sloping wall. “This is
wooden-legged friend, though a fair climber, was
                                                               a trap-door which leads out on to the roof. I can
not a professional sailor. His hands were far from
                                                               press it back, and here is the roof itself, sloping
horny. My lens discloses more than one blood-
                                                               at a gentle angle. This, then, is the way by which
mark, especially towards the end of the rope, from
                                                               Number One entered. Let us see if we can find one
which I gather that he slipped down with such ve-
                                                               other traces of his individuality.”
locity that he took the skin off his hand.”
    “This is all very well,” said I, “but the thing be-            He held down the lamp to the floor, and as he
comes more unintelligible than ever. How about                 did so I saw for the second time that night a star-
this mysterious ally? How came he into the                     tled, surprised look come over his face. For my-
room?”                                                         self, as I followed his gaze my skin was cold under
                                                               my clothes. The floor was covered thickly with the
     “Yes, the ally!” repeated Holmes, pensively.              prints of a naked foot,—clear, well defined, per-
“There are features of interest about this ally. He            fectly formed, but scarce half the size of those of
lifts the case from the regions of the commonplace.            an ordinary man.
I fancy that this ally breaks fresh ground in the
annals of crime in this country,—though parallel                  “Holmes,” I said, in a whisper, “a child has
cases suggest themselves from India, and, if my                done the horrid thing.”
memory serves me, from Senegambia.”                               He had recovered his self-possession in an in-
    “How came he, then?” I reiterated. “The door               stant. “I was staggered for the moment,” he said,
is locked, the window is inaccessible. Was it                  “but the thing is quite natural. My memory failed
through the chimney?”                                          me, or I should have been able to foretell it. There
   “The grate is much too small,” he answered. “I              is nothing more to be learned here. Let us go
had already considered that possibility.”                      down.”
   “How then?” I persisted.                                       “What is your theory, then, as to those foot-
    “You will not apply my precept,” he said, shak-            marks?” I asked, eagerly, when we had regained
ing his head. “How often have I said to you                    the lower room once more.
that when you have eliminated the impossible                       “My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself,”
whatever remains, however improbable, must be the              said he, with a touch of impatience. “You know
truth? We know that he did not come through the                my methods. Apply them, and it will be instruc-
door, the window, or the chimney. We also know                 tive to compare results.”
that he could not have been concealed in the room,
                                                                  “I cannot conceive anything which will cover
as there is no concealment possible. Whence, then,
                                                               the facts,” I answered.
did he come?”
   “He came through the hole in the roof,” I cried.                “It will be clear enough to you soon,” he said,
                                                               in an off-hand way. “I think that there is noth-
   “Of course he did. He must have done so. If
                                                               ing else of importance here, but I will look.” He
you will have the kindness to hold the lamp for
                                                               whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hur-
me, we shall now extend our researches to the
                                                               ried about the room on his knees, measuring, com-
room above,—the secret room in which the trea-
                                                               paring, examining, with his long thin nose only a
sure was found.”
                                                               few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes
    He mounted the steps, and, seizing a rafter                gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. So
with either hand, he swung himself up into the                 swift, silent, and furtive were his movements, like
garret. Then, lying on his face, he reached down               those of a trained blood-hound picking out a scent,
for the lamp and held it while I followed him.                 that I could not but think what a terrible criminal
   The chamber in which we found ourselves was                 he would have made had he turned his energy and
about ten feet one way and six the other. The                  sagacity against the law, instead of exerting them

                                                          83
                                             The Sign of the Four

in its defense. As he hunted about, he kept mut-                  “No, it certainly is not.”
tering to himself, and finally he broke out into a                 “With all these data you should be able to draw
loud crow of delight.                                          some just inference. But here are the regulars: so
   “We are certainly in luck,” said he. “We ought              the auxiliary forces may beat a retreat.”
to have very little trouble now. Number One has
                                                                  As he spoke, the steps which had been coming
had the misfortune to tread in the creosote. You
                                                               nearer sounded loudly on the passage, and a very
can see the outline of the edge of his small foot
                                                               stout, portly man in a gray suit strode heavily into
here at the side of this evil-smelling mess. The car-
                                                               the room. He was red-faced, burly and plethoric,
boy has been cracked, You see, and the stuff has
                                                               with a pair of very small twinkling eyes which
leaked out.”
                                                               looked keenly out from between swollen and puffy
   “What then?” I asked.                                       pouches. He was closely followed by an inspector
    “Why, we have got him, that’s all,” said he. “I            in uniform, and by the still palpitating Thaddeus
know a dog that would follow that scent to the                 Sholto.
world’s end. If a pack can track a trailed her-                    “Here’s a business!” he cried, in a muffled,
ring across a shire, how far can a specially-trained           husky voice. “Here’s a pretty business! But who
hound follow so pungent a smell as this? It sounds             are all these? Why, the house seems to be as full
like a sum in the rule of three. The answer should             as a rabbit-warren!”
give us the—But halloo! here are the accredited
representatives of the law.”                                      “I think you must recollect me, Mr. Athelney
                                                               Jones,” said Holmes, quietly.
   Heavy steps and the clamor of loud voices were
audible from below, and the hall door shut with a                  “Why, of course I do!” he wheezed. “It’s Mr.
loud crash.                                                    Sherlock Holmes, the theorist. Remember you! I’ll
                                                               never forget how you lectured us all on causes and
   “Before they come,” said Holmes, “just put
                                                               inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case.
your hand here on this poor fellow’s arm, and here
                                                               It’s true you set us on the right track; but you’ll
on his leg. What do you feel?”
                                                               own now that it was more by good luck than good
   “The muscles are as hard as a board,” I an-                 guidance.”
swered.
                                                                  “It was a piece of very simple reasoning.”
    “Quite so. They are in a state of extreme con-
traction, far exceeding the usual rigor mortis. Cou-              “Oh, come, now, come! Never be ashamed to
pled with this distortion of the face, this Hippo-             own up. But what is all this? Bad business! Bad
cratic smile, or ‘risus sardonicus,’ as the old writers        business! Stern facts here,—no room for theories.
called it, what conclusion would it suggest to your            How lucky that I happened to be out at Norwood
mind?”                                                         over another case! I was at the station when the
                                                               message arrived. What d’you think the man died
    “Death from some powerful vegetable alka-                  of?”
loid,” I answered,—“some strychnine-like sub-
stance which would produce tetanus.”                              “Oh, this is hardly a case for me to theorize
                                                               over,” said Holmes, dryly.
    “That was the idea which occurred to me the
instant I saw the drawn muscles of the face. On                   “No, no. Still, we can’t deny that you hit the
getting into the room I at once looked for the                 nail on the head sometimes. Dear me! Door
means by which the poison had entered the sys-                 locked, I understand. Jewels worth half a million
tem. As you saw, I discovered a thorn which had                missing. How was the window?”
been driven or shot with no great force into the                  “Fastened; but there are steps on the sill.”
scalp. You observe that the part struck was that
which would be turned towards the hole in the                     “Well, well, if it was fastened the steps could
ceiling if the man were erect in his chair. Now ex-            have nothing to do with the matter. That’s com-
amine the thorn.”                                              mon sense. Man might have died in a fit; but then
                                                               the jewels are missing. Ha! I have a theory. These
   I took it up gingerly and held it in the light of           flashes come upon me at times.—Just step outside,
the lantern. It was long, sharp, and black, with a             sergeant, and you, Mr. Sholto. Your friend can re-
glazed look near the point as though some gummy                main.—What do you think of this, Holmes? Sholto
substance had dried upon it. The blunt end had                 was, on his own confession, with his brother last
been trimmed and rounded off with a knife.                     night. The brother died in a fit, on which Sholto
   “Is that an English thorn?” he asked.                       walked off with the treasure. How’s that?”

                                                          84
                                            The Sign of the Four

   “On which the dead man very considerately                       “There, now! Didn’t I tell you!” cried the poor
got up and locked the door on the inside.”                    little man, throwing out his hands, and looking
   “Hum! There’s a flaw there. Let us apply com-               from one to the other of us.
mon sense to the matter. This Thaddeus Sholto                    “Don’t trouble yourself about it, Mr. Sholto,”
was with his brother; there was a quarrel; so much            said Holmes. “I think that I can engage to clear
we know. The brother is dead and the jewels are               you of the charge.”
gone. So much also we know. No one saw the                       “Don’t promise too much, Mr. Theorist,—don’t
brother from the time Thaddeus left him. His bed              promise too much!” snapped the detective. “You
had not been slept in. Thaddeus is evidently in               may find it a harder matter than you think.”
a most disturbed state of mind. His appearance                    “Not only will I clear him, Mr. Jones, but I will
is—well, not attractive. You see that I am weaving            make you a free present of the name and descrip-
my web round Thaddeus. The net begins to close                tion of one of the two people who were in this
upon him.”                                                    room last night. His name, I have every reason to
    “You are not quite in possession of the facts             believe, is Jonathan Small. He is a poorly-educated
yet,” said Holmes. “This splinter of wood, which I            man, small, active, with his right leg off, and wear-
have every reason to believe to be poisoned, was in           ing a wooden stump which is worn away upon the
the man’s scalp where you still see the mark; this            inner side. His left boot has a coarse, square-toed
card, inscribed as you see it, was on the table; and          sole, with an iron band round the heel. He is a
beside it lay this rather curious stone-headed in-            middle-aged man, much sunburned, and has been
strument. How does all that fit into your theory?”             a convict. These few indications may be of some
                                                              assistance to you, coupled with the fact that there
    “Confirms it in every respect,” said the fat de-
                                                              is a good deal of skin missing from the palm of his
tective, pompously. “House is full of Indian cu-
                                                              hand. The other man—”
riosities. Thaddeus brought this up, and if this
splinter be poisonous Thaddeus may as well have                   “Ah! the other man—?” asked Athelney Jones,
made murderous use of it as any other man. The                in a sneering voice, but impressed none the less,
card is some hocus-pocus,—a blind, as like as not.            as I could easily see, by the precision of the other’s
The only question is, how did he depart? Ah, of               manner.
course, here is a hole in the roof.” With great ac-               “Is a rather curious person,” said Sherlock
tivity, considering his bulk, he sprang up the steps          Holmes, turning upon his heel. “I hope before
and squeezed through into the garret, and imme-               very long to be able to introduce you to the pair
diately afterwards we heard his exulting voice pro-           of them. A word with you, Watson.”
claiming that he had found the trap-door.                        He led me out to the head of the stair. “This
   “He can find something,” remarked Holmes,                   unexpected occurrence,“ he said, ”has caused us
shrugging his shoulders. “He has occasional glim-             rather to lose sight of the original purpose of our
merings of reason. Il n’y a pas des sots si incommodes        journey.”
que ceux qui ont de l’esprit!”                                    “I have just been thinking so,” I answered. “It
   “You see!” said Athelney Jones, reappearing                is not right that Miss Morstan should remain in
down the steps again. “Facts are better than mere             this stricken house.”
theories, after all. My view of the case is con-                 “No. You must escort her home. She lives with
firmed. There is a trap-door communicating with                Mrs. Cecil Forrester, in Lower Camberwell: so it is
the roof, and it is partly open.”                             not very far. I will wait for you here if you will
   “It was I who opened it.”                                  drive out again. Or perhaps you are too tired?”
                                                                  “By no means. I don’t think I could rest until I
   “Oh, indeed! You did notice it, then?” He
                                                              know more of this fantastic business. I have seen
seemed a little crestfallen at the discovery. “Well,
                                                              something of the rough side of life, but I give you
whoever noticed it, it shows how our gentleman
                                                              my word that this quick succession of strange sur-
got away. Inspector!”
                                                              prises to-night has shaken my nerve completely.
   “Yes, sir,” from the passage.                              I should like, however, to see the matter through
    “Ask Mr. Sholto to step this way.—Mr. Sholto, it          with you, now that I have got so far.”
is my duty to inform you that anything which you                 “Your presence will be of great service to me,”
may say will be used against you. I arrest you in             he answered. “We shall work the case out inde-
the queen’s name as being concerned in the death              pendently, and leave this fellow Jones to exult over
of your brother.”                                             any mare’s-nest which he may choose to construct.

                                                         85
                                           The Sign of the Four

When you have dropped Miss Morstan I wish you                than that of the whole detective force of London.”
to go on to No. 3 Pinchin Lane, down near the
water’s edge at Lambeth. The third house on the                  “I shall bring him, then,” said I. “It is one now.
right-hand side is a bird-stuffer’s: Sherman is the          I ought to be back before three, if I can get a fresh
name. You will see a weasel holding a young rab-             horse.”
bit in the window. Knock old Sherman up, and                     “And I,” said Holmes, “shall see what I can
tell him, with my compliments, that I want Toby              learn from Mrs. Bernstone, and from the Indian
at once. You will bring Toby back in the cab with            servant, who, Mr. Thaddeus tell me, sleeps in the
you.”                                                        next garret. Then I shall study the great Jones’s
    “A dog, I suppose.”                                      methods and listen to his not too delicate sarcasms.
    “Yes,—a queer mongrel, with a most amazing                                                          o
                                                             ‘Wir sind gewohnt, daß die Menschen verh¨ hnen was
power of scent. I would rather have Toby’s help              sie nicht verstehen.’ Goethe is always pithy.”




                                            CHAPTER VII.
                                     The Episode of the Barrel

    The police had brought a cab with them, and                  It was nearly two o’clock when we reached
in this I escorted Miss Morstan back to her home.            Mrs. Cecil Forrester’s. The servants had retired
After the angelic fashion of women, she had borne            hours ago, but Mrs. Forrester had been so inter-
trouble with a calm face as long as there was                ested by the strange message which Miss Morstan
some one weaker than herself to support, and I               had received that she had sat up in the hope of
had found her bright and placid by the side of               her return. She opened the door herself, a middle-
the frightened housekeeper. In the cab, however,             aged, graceful woman, and it gave me joy to see
she first turned faint, and then burst into a pas-            how tenderly her arm stole round the other’s waist
sion of weeping,—so sorely had she been tried by             and how motherly was the voice in which she
the adventures of the night. She has told me since           greeted her. She was clearly no mere paid depen-
that she thought me cold and distant upon that               dant, but an honored friend. I was introduced, and
journey. She little guessed the struggle within my           Mrs. Forrester earnestly begged me to step in and
breast, or the effort of self-restraint which held me        tell her our adventures. I explained, however, the
back. My sympathies and my love went out to                  importance of my errand, and promised faithfully
her, even as my hand had in the garden. I felt               to call and report any progress which we might
that years of the conventionalities of life could not        make with the case. As we drove away I stole a
teach me to know her sweet, brave nature as had              glance back, and I still seem to see that little group
this one day of strange experiences. Yet there were          on the step, the two graceful, clinging figures, the
two thoughts which sealed the words of affection             half-opened door, the hall light shining through
upon my lips. She was weak and helpless, shaken              stained glass, the barometer, and the bright stair-
in mind and nerve. It was to take her at a disad-            rods. It was soothing to catch even that passing
vantage to obtrude love upon her at such a time.             glimpse of a tranquil English home in the midst of
Worse still, she was rich. If Holmes’s researches            the wild, dark business which had absorbed us.
were successful, she would be an heiress. Was
it fair, was it honorable, that a half-pay surgeon               And the more I thought of what had happened,
should take such advantage of an intimacy which              the wilder and darker it grew. I reviewed the
chance had brought about? Might she not look                 whole extraordinary sequence of events as I rat-
upon me as a mere vulgar fortune-seeker? I could             tled on through the silent gas-lit streets. There was
not bear to risk that such a thought should cross            the original problem: that at least was pretty clear
her mind. This Agra treasure intervened like an              now. The death of Captain Morstan, the sending
impassable barrier between us.                               of the pearls, the advertisement, the letter,—we
                                                             had had light upon all those events. They had

                                                        86
                                           The Sign of the Four

only led us, however, to a deeper and far more                   “Toby lives at No. 7 on the left here.” He moved
tragic mystery. The Indian treasure, the curious             slowly forward with his candle among the queer
plan found among Morstan’s baggage, the strange              animal family which he had gathered round him.
scene at Major Sholto’s death, the rediscovery of            In the uncertain, shadowy light I could see dimly
the treasure immediately followed by the murder              that there were glancing, glimmering eyes peeping
of the discoverer, the very singular accompani-              down at us from every cranny and corner. Even
ments to the crime, the footsteps, the remarkable            the rafters above our heads were lined by solemn
weapons, the words upon the card, corresponding              fowls, who lazily shifted their weight from one leg
with those upon Captain Morstan’s chart,—here                to the other as our voices disturbed their slumbers.
was indeed a labyrinth in which a man less singu-
                                                                 Toby proved to an ugly, long-haired, lop-eared
larly endowed than my fellow-lodger might well
                                                             creature, half spaniel and half lurcher, brown-
despair of ever finding the clue.
                                                             and-white in color, with a very clumsy waddling
    Pinchin Lane was a row of shabby two-storied             gait. It accepted after some hesitation a lump
brick houses in the lower quarter of Lambeth. I              of sugar which the old naturalist handed to me,
had to knock for some time at No. 3 before I could           and, having thus sealed an alliance, it followed
make my impression. At last, however, there was              me to the cab, and made no difficulties about ac-
the glint of a candle behind the blind, and a face           companying me. It had just struck three on the
looked out at the upper window.                              Palace clock when I found myself back once more
    “Go on, you drunken vagabone,” said the face.            at Pondicherry Lodge. The ex-prize-fighter Mc-
“If you kick up any more row I’ll open the kennels           Murdo had, I found, been arrested as an accessory,
and let out forty-three dogs upon you.”                      and both he and Mr. Sholto had been marched off
                                                             to the station. Two constables guarded the narrow
    “If you’ll let one out it’s just what I have come
                                                             gate, but they allowed me to pass with the dog on
for,” said I.
                                                             my mentioning the detective’s name.
   “Go on!” yelled the voice. “So help me gra-
cious, I have a wiper in the bag, an’ I’ll drop it on            Holmes was standing on the door-step, with
your ’ead if you don’t hook it.”                             his hands in his pockets, smoking his pipe.
   “But I want a dog,” I cried.                                 “Ah, you have him there!” said he. “Good dog,
  “I won’t be argued with!” shouted Mr. Sher-                then! Athelney Jones has gone. We have had an
man. “Now stand clear, for when I say ‘three,’               immense display of energy since you left. He has
down goes the wiper.”                                        arrested not only friend Thaddeus, but the gate-
                                                             keeper, the housekeeper, and the Indian servant.
    “Mr. Sherlock Holmes—” I began, but the                  We have the place to ourselves, but for a sergeant
words had a most magical effect, for the window              up-stairs. Leave the dog here, and come up.”
instantly slammed down, and within a minute the
door was unbarred and open. Mr. Sherman was                     We tied Toby to the hall table, and reascended
a lanky, lean old man, with stooping shoulders, a            the stairs. The room was as he had left it, save that
stringy neck, and blue-tinted glasses.                       a sheet had been draped over the central figure. A
                                                             weary-looking police-sergeant reclined in the cor-
    “A friend of Mr. Sherlock is always welcome,”
                                                             ner.
said he. “Step in, sir. Keep clear of the badger; for
he bites. Ah, naughty, naughty, would you take a                “Lend me your bull’s-eye, sergeant,” said my
nip at the gentleman?” This to a stoat which thrust          companion. “Now tie this bit of card round my
its wicked head and red eyes between the bars of             neck, so as to hang it in front of me. Thank you.
its cage. “Don’t mind that, sir: it’s only a slow-           Now I must kick off my boots and stockings.—Just
worm. It hain’t got no fangs, so I gives it the run          you carry them down with you, Watson. I am go-
o’ the room, for it keeps the bettles down. You              ing to do a little climbing. And dip my handker-
must not mind my bein’ just a little short wi’ you at        chief into the creasote. That will do. Now come
first, for I’m guyed at by the children, and there’s          up into the garret with me for a moment.”
many a one just comes down this lane to knock me
                                                                We clambered up through the hole. Holmes
up. What was it that Mr. Sherlock Holmes wanted,
                                                             turned his light once more upon the footsteps in
sir?”
                                                             the dust.
   “He wanted a dog of yours.”
                                                               “I wish you particularly to notice these foot-
   “Ah! that would be Toby.”                                 marks,” he said. “Do you observe anything note-
   “Yes, Toby was the name.”                                 worthy about them?”

                                                        87
                                          The Sign of the Four

  “They belong,” I said, “to a child or a small             dropped this. It confirms my diagnosis, as you
woman.”                                                     doctors express it.”
    “Apart from their size, though. Is there nothing           The object which he held up to me was a small
else?”                                                      pocket or pouch woven out of colored grasses and
   “They appear to be much as other footmarks.”             with a few tawdry beads strung round it. In shape
                                                            and size it was not unlike a cigarette-case. Inside
   “Not at all. Look here! This is the print of a           were half a dozen spines of dark wood, sharp at
right foot in the dust. Now I make one with my              one end and rounded at the other, like that which
naked foot beside it. What is the chief difference?”        had struck Bartholomew Sholto.
   “Your toes are all cramped together. The other              “They are hellish things,” said he. “Look out
print has each toe distinctly divided.”                     that you don’t prick yourself. I’m delighted to
   “Quite so. That is the point. Bear that in mind.         have them, for the chances are that they are all he
Now, would you kindly step over to that flap-                has. There is the less fear of you or me finding
window and smell the edge of the wood-work? I               one in our skin before long. I would sooner face a
shall stay here, as I have this handkerchief in my          Martini bullet, myself. Are you game for a six-mile
hand.”                                                      trudge, Watson?”
    I did as he directed, and was instantly con-               “Certainly,” I answered.
scious of a strong tarry smell.                                “Your leg will stand it?”
    “That is where he put his foot in getting out.             “Oh, yes.”
If you can trace him, I should think that Toby will
                                                                “Here you are, doggy! Good old Toby! Smell
have no difficulty. Now run down-stairs, loose the
                                                            it, Toby, smell it!” He pushed the creasote hand-
dog, and look out for Blondin.”
                                                            kerchief under the dog’s nose, while the creature
    By the time that I got out into the grounds             stood with its fluffy legs separated, and with a
Sherlock Holmes was on the roof, and I could see            most comical cock to its head, like a connoisseur
him like an enormous glow-worm crawling very                sniffing the bouquet of a famous vintage. Holmes
slowly along the ridge. I lost sight of him behind          then threw the handkerchief to a distance, fastened
a stack of chimneys, but he presently reappeared,           a stout cord to the mongrel’s collar, and let him to
and then vanished once more upon the opposite               the foot of the water-barrel. The creature instantly
side. When I made my way round there I found                broke into a succession of high, tremulous yelps,
him seated at one of the corner eaves.                      and, with his nose on the ground, and his tail in
   “That You, Watson?” he cried.                            the air, pattered off upon the trail at a pace which
                                                            strained his leash and kept us at the top of our
   “Yes.”
                                                            speed.
  “This is the place. What is that black thing
                                                                 The east had been gradually whitening, and we
down there?”
                                                            could now see some distance in the cold gray light.
   “A water-barrel.”                                        The square, massive house, with its black, empty
   “Top on it?”                                             windows and high, bare walls, towered up, sad
                                                            and forlorn, behind us. Our course let right across
   “Yes.”                                                   the grounds, in and out among the trenches and
   “No sign of a ladder?”                                   pits with which they were scarred and intersected.
   “No.”                                                    The whole place, with its scattered dirt-heaps and
                                                            ill-grown shrubs, had a blighted, ill-omened look
   “Confound the fellow! It’s a most break-neck             which harmonized with the black tragedy which
place. I ought to be able to come down where he             hung over it.
could climb up. The water-pipe feels pretty firm.
Here goes, anyhow.”                                            On reaching the boundary wall Toby ran along,
                                                            whining eagerly, underneath its shadow, and
   There was a scuffling of feet, and the lantern            stopped finally in a corner screened by a young
began to come steadily down the side of the wall.           beech. Where the two walls joined, several bricks
Then with a light spring he came on to the barrel,          had been loosened, and the crevices left were worn
and from there to the earth.                                down and rounded upon the lower side, as though
   “It was easy to follow him,” he said, drawing            they had frequently been used as a ladder. Holmes
on his stockings and boots. “Tiles were loosened            clambered up, and, taking the dog from me, he
the whole way along, and in his hurry he had                dropped it over upon the other side.

                                                       88
                                          The Sign of the Four

    “There’s the print of wooden-leg’s hand,” he              “But that is mere speculation,” said I.
remarked, as I mounted up beside him. “You see
                                                              “It is more than that. It is the only hypothesis
the slight smudge of blood upon the white plaster.
                                                           which covers the facts. Let us see how it fits in
What a lucky thing it is that we have had no very
                                                           with the sequel. Major Sholto remains at peace for
heavy rain since yesterday! The scent will lie upon
                                                           some years, happy in the possession of his trea-
the road in spite of their eight-and-twenty hours’
                                                           sure. Then he receives a letter from India which
start.”
                                                           gives him a great fright. What was that?”
    I confess that I had my doubts myself when I
reflected upon the great traffic which had passed               “A letter to say that the men whom he had
along the London road in the interval. My fears            wronged had been set free.”
were soon appeased, however. Toby never hes-                   “Or had escaped. That is much more likely, for
itated or swerved, but waddled on in his pecu-             he would have known what their term of impris-
liar rolling fashion. Clearly, the pungent smell of        onment was. It would not have been a surprise
the creasote rose high above all other contending          to him. What does he do then? He guards him-
scents.                                                    self against a wooden-legged man,—a white man,
    “Do not imagine,” said Holmes, “that I depend          mark you, for he mistakes a white tradesman for
for my success in this case upon the mere chance           him, and actually fires a pistol at him. Now, only
of one of these fellows having put his foot in the         one white man’s name is on the chart. The oth-
chemical. I have knowledge now which would                 ers are Hindoos or Mohammedans. There is no
enable me to trace them in many different ways.            other white man. Therefore we may say with con-
This, however, is the readiest and, since fortune          fidence that the wooden-legged man is identical
has put it into our hands, I should be culpable if         with Jonathan Small. Does the reasoning strike yo
I neglected it. It has, however, prevented the case        as being faulty?”
from becoming the pretty little intellectual prob-            “No: it is clear and concise.”
lem which it at one time promised to be. There
might have been some credit to be gained out of it,            “Well, now, let us put ourselves in the place of
but for this too palpable clue.”                           Jonathan Small. Let us look at it from his point of
                                                           view. He comes to England with the double idea of
    “There is credit, and to spare,” said I. “I as-        regaining what he would consider to be his rights
sure you, Holmes, that I marvel at the means by            and of having his revenge upon the man who had
which you obtain your results in this case, even           wronged him. He found out where Sholto lived,
more than I did in the Jefferson Hope Murder. The          and very possibly he established communications
thing seems to me to be deeper and more inexpli-           with some one inside the house. There is this but-
cable. How, for example, could you describe with           ler, Lal Rao, whom we have not seen. Mrs. Bern-
such confidence the wooden-legged man?”                     stone gives him far from a good character. Small
    “Pshaw, my dear boy! it was simplicity itself.         could not find out, however, where the treasure
I don’t wish to be theatrical. It is all patent and        was hid, for no one ever knew, save the major
above-board. Two officers who are in command                and one faithful servant who had died. Suddenly
of a convict-guard learn an important secret as            Small learns that the major is on his death-bed. In
to buried treasure. A map is drawn for them by             a frenzy lest the secret of the treasure die with him,
an Englishman named Jonathan Small. You re-                he runs the gauntlet of the guards, makes his way
member that we saw the name upon the chart in              to the dying man’s window, and is only deterred
Captain Morstan’s possession. He had signed it             from entering by the presence of his two sons.
in behalf of himself and his associates,—the sign          Mad with hate, however, against the dead man,
of the four, as he somewhat dramatically called            he enters the room that night, searches his private
it. Aided by this chart, the officers—or one of             papers in the hope of discovering some memoran-
them—gets the treasure and brings it to England,           dum relating to the treasure, and finally leaves a
leaving, we will suppose, some condition under             momento of his visit in the short inscription upon
which he received it unfulfilled. Now, then, why            the card. He had doubtless planned beforehand
did not Jonathan Small get the treasure himself?           that should he slay the major he would leave some
The answer is obvious. The chart is dated at a time        such record upon the body as a sign that it was
when Morstan was brought into close association            not a common murder, but, from the point of view
with convicts. Jonathan Small did not get the trea-        of the four associates, something in the nature of
sure because he and his associates were themselves         an act of justice. Whimsical and bizarre conceits
convicts and could not get away.”                          of this kind are common enough in the annals of

                                                      89
                                          The Sign of the Four

crime, and usually afford valuable indications as               “That was like following the brook to the par-
to the criminal. Do you follow all this?”                   ent lake. He makes one curious but profound re-
   “Very clearly.”                                          mark. It is that the chief proof of man’s real great-
                                                            ness lies in his perception of his own smallness.
    “Now, what could Jonathan Small do? He                  It argues, you see, a power of comparison and of
could only continue to keep a secret watch upon             appreciation which is in itself a proof of nobility.
the efforts made to find the treasure. Possibly              There is much food for thought in Richter. You
he leaves England and only comes back at inter-             have not a pistol, have you?”
vals. Then comes the discovery of the garret, and
he is instantly informed of it. We again trace the             “I have my stick.”
presence of some confederate in the household.                  “It is just possible that we may need something
Jonathan, with his wooden leg, is utterly unable            of the sort if we get to their lair. Jonathan I shall
to reach the lofty room of Bartholomew Sholto.              leave to you, but if the other turns nasty I shall
He takes with him, however, a rather curious as-            shoot him dead.” He took out his revolver as he
sociate, who gets over this difficulty, but dips his         spoke, and, having loaded two of the chambers, he
naked foot into creasote, whence come Toby, and a           put it back into the right-hand pocket of his jacket.
six-mile limp for a half-pay officer with a damaged
                                                                We had during this time been following the
tendo Achillis.”
                                                            guidance of Toby down the half-rural villa-lined
  “But it was the associate, and not Jonathan,              roads which lead to the metropolis. Now, however,
who committed the crime.”                                   we were beginning to come among continuous
    “Quite so. And rather to Jonathan’s disgust,            streets, where laborers and dockmen were already
to judge by the way the stamped about when he               astir, and slatternly women were taking down
got into the room. He bore no grudge against                shutters and brushing door-steps. At the square-
Bartholomew Sholto, and would have preferred if             topped corner public houses business was just be-
he could have been simply bound and gagged. He              ginning, and rough-looking men were emerging,
did not wish to put his head in a halter. There was         rubbing their sleeves across their beards after their
no help for it, however: the savage instincts of his        morning wet. Strange dogs sauntered up and
companion had broken out, and the poison had                stared wonderingly at us as we passed, but our
done its work: so Jonathan Small left his record,           inimitable Toby looked neither to the right nor
lowered the treasure-box to the ground, and fol-            to the left, but trotted onwards with his nose to
lowed it himself. That was the train of events as           the ground and an occasional eager whine which
far as I can decipher them. Of course as to his             spoke of a hot scent.
personal appearance he must be middle-aged, and                 We had traversed Streatham, Brixton, Cam-
must be sunburned after serving his time in such            berwell, and now found ourselves in Kennington
an oven as the Andamans. His height is readily              Lane, having borne away through the side-streets
calculated from the length of his stride, and we            to the east of the Oval. The men whom we pursued
know that he was bearded. His hairiness was the             seemed to have taken a curiously zigzag road,
one point which impressed itself upon Thaddeus              with the idea probably of escaping observation.
Sholto when he saw him at the window. I don’t               They had never kept to the main road if a parallel
know that there is anything else.”                          side-street would serve their turn. At the foot of
   “The associate?”                                         Kennington Lane they had edged away to the left
                                                            through Bond Street and Miles Street. Where the
    “Ah, well, there is no great mystery in that.
                                                            latter street turns into Knight’s Place, Toby ceased
But you will know all about it soon enough. How
                                                            to advance, but began to run backwards and for-
sweet the morning air is! See how that one little
                                                            wards with one ear cocked and the other droop-
cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic
                                                            ing, the very picture of canine indecision. Then he
flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself
                                                            waddled round in circles, looking up to us from
over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good
                                                            time to time, as if to ask for sympathy in his em-
many folk, but on none, I dare bet, who are on a
                                                            barrassment.
stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel
with our petty ambitions and strivings in the pres-            “What the deuce is the matter with the dog?”
ence of the great elemental forces of nature! Are           growled Holmes. “They surely would not take a
you well up in your Jean Paul?”                             cab, or go off in a balloon.”
    “Fairly so. I worked back to him through Car-              “Perhaps they stood here for some time,” I sug-
lyle.”                                                      gested.

                                                       90
                                          The Sign of the Four

    “Ah! it’s all right. He’s off again,” said my           side-gate into the enclosure, where the sawyers
companion, in a tone of relief.                             were already at work. On the dog raced through
    He was indeed off, for after sniffing round              sawdust and shavings, down an alley, round a pas-
again he suddenly made up his mind, and darted              sage, between two wood-piles, and finally, with a
away with an energy and determination such as he            triumphant yelp, sprang upon a large barrel which
had not yet shown. The scent appeared to be much            still stood upon the hand-trolley on which it had
hotter than before, for he had not even to put his          been brought. With lolling tongue and blinking
nose on the ground, but tugged at his leash and             eyes, Toby stood upon the cask, looking from one
tried to break into a run. I cold see by the gleam          to the other of us for some sign of appreciation.
in Holmes’s eyes that he thought we were nearing            The staves of the barrel and the wheels of the
the end of our journey.                                     trolley were smeared with a dark liquid, and the
    Our course now ran down Nine Elms until we              whole air was heavy with the smell of creasote.
came to Broderick and Nelson’s large timber-yard,              Sherlock Holmes and I looked blankly at each
just past the White Eagle tavern. Here the dog,             other, and then burst simultaneously into an un-
frantic with excitement, turned down through the            controllable fit of laughter.




                                          CHAPTER VIII.
                                   The Baker Street Irregulars

   “What now?” I asked. “Toby has lost his char-            down the roadway. No, we are on the true scent
acter for infallibility.”                                   now.”
    “He acted according to his lights,” said                    It tended down towards the river-side, running
Holmes, lifting him down from the barrel and                through Belmont Place and Prince’s Street. At the
walking him out of the timber-yard. “If you con-            end of Broad Street it ran right down to the wa-
sider how much creasote is carted about London in           ter’s edge, where there was a small wooden wharf.
one day, it is no great wonder that our trail should        Toby led us to the very edge of this, and there
have been crossed. It is much used now, especially          stood whining, looking out on the dark current be-
for the seasoning of wood. Poor Toby is not to              yond.
blame.”
                                                                “We are out of luck,” said Holmes. “They have
   “We must get on the main scent again, I sup-             taken to a boat here.” Several small punts and
pose.”                                                      skiffs were lying about in the water and on the
                                                            edge of the wharf. We took Toby round to each in
    “Yes. And, fortunately, we have no distance to
                                                            turn, but, though he sniffed earnestly, he made no
go. Evidently what puzzled the dog at the corner
                                                            sign.
of Knight’s Place was that there were two different
trails running in opposite directions. We took the              Close to the rude landing-stage was a small
wrong one. It only remains to follow the other.”            brick house, with a wooden placard slung out
                                                            through the second window. “Mordecai Smith”
    There was no difficulty about this. On lead-
                                                            was printed across it in large letters, and, under-
ing Toby to the place where he had committed
                                                            neath, “Boats to hire by the hour or day.” A sec-
his fault, he cast about in a wide circle and finally
                                                            ond inscription above the door informed us that
dashed off in a fresh direction.
                                                            a steam launch was kept,—a statement which was
   “We must take care that he does not now bring            confirmed by a great pile of coke upon the jetty.
us to the place where the creasote-barrel came              Sherlock Holmes looked slowly round, and his
from,” I observed.                                          face assumed an ominous expression.
   “I had thought of that. But you notice that he              “This looks bad,” said he. “These fellows are
keeps on the pavement, whereas the barrel passed            sharper than I expected. They seem to have cov-

                                                       91
                                           The Sign of the Four

ered their tracks. There has, I fear, been precon-               “Yes, sir, a brown, monkey-faced chap that’s
certed management here.”                                     called more’n once for my old man. It was him
    He was approaching the door of the house,                that roused him up yesternight, and, what’s more,
when it opened, and a little, curly-headed lad of            my man knew he was comin’, for he had steam up
six came running out, followed by a stoutish, red-           in the launch. I tell you straight, sir, I don’t feel
faced woman with a large sponge in her hand.                 easy in my mind about it.”
                                                                 “But, my dear Mrs. Smith,” said Holmes,
    “You come back and be washed, Jack,” she
                                                             shrugging his shoulders, “You are frightening
shouted. “Come back, you young imp; for if your
                                                             yourself about nothing. How could you possibly
father comes home and finds you like that, he’ll let
                                                             tell that it was the wooden-legged man who came
us hear of it.”
                                                             in the night? I don’t quite understand how you
   “Dear little chap!” said Holmes, strategically.           can be so sure.”
“What a rosy-cheeked young rascal! Now, Jack, is                 “His voice, sir. I knew his voice, which
there anything you would like?”                              is kind o’ thick and foggy. He tapped at the
    The youth pondered for a moment. “I’d like a             winder,—about three it would be. ‘Show a leg,
shillin’,” said he.                                          matey,’ says he: ‘time to turn out guard.’ My old
   “Nothing you would like better?”                          man woke up Jim,—that’s my eldest,—and away
                                                             they went, without so much as a word to me. I
   “I’d like two shillin’ better,” the prodigy an-           could hear the wooden leg clackin’ on the stones.”
swered, after some thought.
                                                                 “And was this wooden-legged man alone?”
  “Here you are, then! Catch!—A fine child, Mrs.                  “Couldn’t say, I am sure, sir. I didn’t hear no
Smith!”                                                      one else.”
   “Lor’ bless you, sir, he is that, and forward. He             “I am sorry, Mrs. Smith, for I wanted a steam
gets a’most too much for me to manage, ’specially            launch, and I have heard good reports of the—Let
when my man is away days at a time.”                         me see, what is her name?”
   “Away, is he?” said Holmes, in a disappointed                 “The Aurora, sir.”
voice. “I am sorry for that, for I wanted to speak               “Ah! She’s not that old green launch with a
to Mr. Smith.”                                               yellow line, very broad in the beam?”
   “He’s been away since yesterday mornin’, sir,                 “No, indeed. She’s as trim a little thing as any
and, truth to tell, I am beginnin’ to feel frightened        on the river. She’s been fresh painted, black with
about him. But if it was about a boat, sir, maybe I          two red streaks.”
could serve as well.”
                                                                 “Thanks. I hope that you will hear soon from
   “I wanted to hire his steam launch.”                      Mr. Smith. I am going down the river; and if I
    “Why, bless you, sir, it is in the steam launch          should see anything of the Aurora I shall let him
that he has gone. That’s what puzzles me; for                know that you are uneasy. A black funnel, you
I know there ain’t more coals in her than would              say?”
take her to about Woolwich and back. If he’d been                “No, sir. Black with a white band.”
away in the barge I’d ha’ thought nothin’; for many              “Ah, of course. It was the sides which were
a time a job has taken him as far as Gravesend,              black. Good-morning, Mrs. Smith.—There is a
and then if there was much doin’ there he might              boatman here with a wherry, Watson. We shall
ha’ stayed over. But what good is a steam launch             take it and cross the river.
without coals?”                                                  “The main thing with people of that sort,” said
   “He might have bought some at a wharf down                Holmes, as we sat in the sheets of the wherry, “is
the river.”                                                  never to let them think that their information can
    “He might, sir, but it weren’t his way. Many             be of the slightest importance to you. If you do,
a time I’ve heard him call out at the prices they            they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you
charge for a few odd bags. Besides, I don’t like             listen to them under protest, as it were, you are
that wooden-legged man, wi’ his ugly face and                very likely to get what you want.”
outlandish talk. What did he want always knockin’                “Our course now seems pretty clear,” said I.
about here for?”                                                 “What would you do, then?”
   “A wooden-legged man?” said Holmes, with                      “I would engage a launch and go down the
bland surprise.                                              river on the track of the Aurora.”

                                                        92
                                           The Sign of the Four

    “My dear fellow, it would be a colossal task.            the death of Bartholomew Sholto went, I had heard
She may have touched at any wharf on either side             little good of him, and could feel no intense antipa-
of the stream between here and Greenwich. Below              thy to his murderers. The treasure, however, was a
the bridge there is a perfect labyrinth of landing-          different matter. That, or part of it, belonged right-
places for miles. It would take you days and days            fully to Miss Morstan. While there was a chance of
to exhaust them, if you set about it alone.”                 recovering it I was ready to devote my life to the
   “Employ the police, then.”                                one object. True, if I found it it would probably
                                                             put her forever beyond my reach. Yet it would be
    “No. I shall probably call Athelney Jones in             a petty and selfish love which would be influenced
at the last moment. He is not a bad fellow, and I            by such a thought as that. If Holmes could work to
should not like to do anything which would injure            find the criminals, I had a tenfold stronger reason
him professionally. But I have a fancy for working           to urge me on to find the treasure.
it out myself, now that we have gone so far.”
    “Could we advertise, then, asking for informa-               A bath at Baker Street and a complete change
tion from wharfingers?”                                       freshened me up wonderfully. When I came down
                                                             to our room I found the breakfast laid and Holmes
   “Worse and worse! Our men would know that
                                                             pouring out the coffee.
the chase was hot at their heels, and they would
be off out of the country. As it is, they are likely            “Here it is,” said he, laughing, and pointing to
enough to leave, but as long as they think they are          an open newspaper. “The energetic Jones and the
perfectly safe they will be in no hurry. Jones’s en-         ubiquitous reporter have fixed it up between them.
ergy will be of use to us there, for his view of the         But you have had enough of the case. Better have
case is sure to push itself into the daily press, and        your ham and eggs first.”
the runaways will think that every one is off on the
wrong scent.”                                                   I took the paper from him and read the short
                                                             notice, which was headed “Mysterious Business at
   “What are we to do, then?” I asked, as we
                                                             Upper Norwood.”
landed near Millbank Penitentiary.
    “Take this hansom, drive home, have some                     “About twelve o’clock last night,” said
breakfast, and get an hour’s sleep. It is quite on           the Standard, “Mr. Bartholomew Sholto, of
the cards that we may be afoot to-night again. Stop          Pondicherry Lodge, Upper Norwood, was found
at a telegraph-office, cabby! We will keep Toby, for          dead in his room under circumstances which point
he may be of use to us yet.”                                 to foul play. As far as we can learn, no actual
                                                             traces of violence were found upon Mr. Sholto’s
   We pulled up at the Great Peter Street post-
                                                             person, but a valuable collection of Indian gems
office, and Holmes despatched his wire. “Whom
                                                             which the deceased gentleman had inherited from
do you think that is to?” he asked, as we resumed
                                                             his father has been carried off. The discovery was
our journey.
                                                             first made by Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Wat-
   “I am sure I don’t know.”                                 son, who had called at the house with Mr. Thad-
    “You remember the Baker Street division of the           deus Sholto, brother of the deceased. By a singu-
detective police force whom I employed in the Jef-           lar piece of good fortune, Mr. Athelney Jones, the
ferson Hope case?”                                           well-known member of the detective police force,
   “Well,” said I, laughing.                                 happened to be at the Norwood Police Station, and
                                                             was on the ground within half an hour of the first
     “This is just the case where they might be in-          alarm. His trained and experienced faculties were
valuable. If they fail, I have other resources; but          at once directed towards the detection of the crim-
I shall try them first. That wire was to my dirty             inals, with the gratifying result that the brother,
little lieutenant, Wiggins, and I expect that he and         Thaddeus Sholto, has already been arrested, to-
his gang will be with us before we have finished              gether with the housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, an
our breakfast.”                                              Indian butler named Lal Rao, and a porter, or gate-
   It was between eight and nine o’clock now, and            keeper, named McMurdo. It is quite certain that
I was conscious of a strong reaction after the suc-          the thief or thieves were well acquainted with the
cessive excitements of the night. I was limp and             house, for Mr. Jones’s well-known technical knowl-
weary, befogged in mind and fatigued in body. I              edge and his powers of minute observation have
had not the professional enthusiasm which carried            enabled him to prove conclusively that the mis-
my companion on, nor could I look at the matter              creants could not have entered by the door or by
as a mere abstract intellectual problem. As far as           the window, but must have made their way across

                                                        93
                                           The Sign of the Four

the roof of the building, and so through a trap-             Let me know the moment you have news. Is that
door into a room which communicated with that                all clear?”
in which the body was found. This fact, which                    “Yes, guv’nor,” said Wiggins.
has been very clearly made out, proves conclu-                   “The old scale of pay, and a guinea to the boy
sively that it was no mere haphazard burglary.               who finds the boat. Here’s a day in advance. Now
The prompt and energetic action of the officers               off you go!” He handed them a shilling each, and
of the law shows the great advantage of the pres-            away they buzzed down the stairs, and I saw them
ence on such occasions of a single vigorous and              a moment later streaming down the street.
masterful mind. We cannot but think that it sup-                 “If the launch is above water they will find her,”
plies an argument to those who would wish to see             said Holmes, as he rose from the table and lit his
our detectives more decentralized, and so brought            pipe. “They can go everywhere, see everything,
into closer and more effective touch with the cases          overhear every one. I expect to hear before evening
which it is their duty to investigate.”                      that they have spotted her. In the mean while, we
    “Isn’t it gorgeous!” said Holmes, grinning over          can do nothing but await results. We cannot pick
his coffee-cup. “What do you think of it?”                   up the broken trail until we find either the Aurora
    “I think that we have had a close shave our-             or Mr. Mordecai Smith.”
selves of being arrested for the crime.”                         “Toby could eat these scraps, I dare say. Are
                                                             you going to bed, Holmes?”
    “So do I. I wouldn’t answer for our safety now,
                                                                 “No: I am not tired. I have a curious consti-
if he should happen to have another of his attacks
                                                             tution. I never remember feeling tired by work,
of energy.”
                                                             though idleness exhausts me completely. I am go-
    At this moment there was a loud ring at the              ing to smoke and to think over this queer busi-
bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady,            ness to which my fair client has introduced us. If
raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dis-        ever man had an easy task, this of ours ought to
may.                                                         be. Wooden-legged men are not so common, but
    “By heaven, Holmes,” I said, half rising, “I be-         the other man must, I should think, be absolutely
lieve that they are really after us.”                        unique.”
                                                                 “That other man again!”
   “No, it’s not quite so bad as that. It is the un-
official force,—the Baker Street irregulars.”                     “I have no wish to make a mystery of him,—to
                                                             you, anyway. But you must have formed your own
    As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of             opinion. Now, do consider the data. Diminutive
naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices,        footmarks, toes never fettered by boots, naked feet,
and in rushed a dozen dirty and ragged little                stone-headed wooden mace, great agility, small
street-Arabs. There was some show of discipline              poisoned darts. What do you make of all this?”
among them, despite their tumultuous entry, for                  “A savage!” I exclaimed. “Perhaps one of
they instantly drew up in line and stood facing us           those Indians who were the associates of Jonathan
with expectant faces. One of their number, taller            Small.”
and older than the others, stood forward with an
                                                                 “Hardly that,” said he. “When first I saw signs
air of lounding superiority which was very funny
                                                             of strange weapons I was inclined to think so; but
in such a disreputable little carecrow.
                                                             the remarkable character of the footmarks caused
   “Got your message, sir,” said he, “and brought            me to reconsider my views. Some of the inhabi-
’em on sharp. Three bob and a tanner for tickets.”           tants of the Indian Peninsula are small men, but
    “Here you are,” said Holmes, producing some              none could have left such marks as that. The Hin-
silver. “In future they can report to you, Wiggins,          doo proper has long and thin feet. The sandal-
and you to me. I cannot have the house invaded               wearing Mohammedan has the great toe well sep-
in this way. However, it is just as well that you            arated from the others, because the thong is com-
should all hear the instructions. I want to find the          monly passed between. These little darts, too,
whereabouts of a steam launch called the Aurora,             could only be shot in one way. They are from a
owner Mordecai Smith, black with two red streaks,            blow-pipe. Now, then, where are we to find our
funnel black with a white band. She is down the              savage?”
river somewhere. I want one boy to be at Morde-                  “South American,” I hazarded.
cai Smith’s landing-stage opposite Millbank to say               He stretched his hand up, and took down a
if the boat comes back. You must divide it out               bulky volume from the shelf. “This is the first vol-
among yourselves, and do both banks thoroughly.              ume of a gazetteer which is now being published.

                                                        94
                                             The Sign of the Four

It may be looked upon as the very latest author-               their poisoned arrows. These massacres are invari-
ity. What have we here? ‘Andaman Islands, situ-                ably concluded by a cannibal feast.’ Nice, amiable
ated 340 miles to the north of Sumatra, in the Bay             people, Watson! If this fellow had been left to his
of Bengal.’ Hum! hum! What’s all this? Moist                   own unaided devices this affair might have taken
climate, coral reefs, sharks, Port Blair, convict-             an even more ghastly turn. I fancy that, even as it
barracks, Rutland Island, cottonwoods—Ah, here                 is, Jonathan Small would give a good deal not to
we are. ‘The aborigines of the Andaman Islands                 have employed him.”
may perhaps claim the distinction of being the                    “But how came he to have so singular a com-
smallest race upon this earth, though some an-                 panion?”
thropologists prefer the Bushmen of Africa, the
                                                                  “Ah, that is more than I can tell. Since, how-
Digger Indians of America, and the Terra del Fue-
                                                               ever, we had already determined that Small had
gians. The average height is rather below four feet,
                                                               come from the Andamans, it is not so very won-
although many full-grown adults may be found
                                                               derful that this islander should be with him. No
who are very much smaller than this. They are a
                                                               doubt we shall know all about it in time. Look
fierce, morose, and intractable people, though ca-
                                                               here, Watson; you look regularly done. Lie down
pable of forming most devoted friendships when
                                                               there on the sofa, and see if I can put you to sleep.”
their confidence has once been gained.’ Mark that,
Watson. Now, then, listen to this. ‘They are nat-                  He took up his violin from the corner, and as
urally hideous, having large, misshapen heads,                 I stretched myself out he began to play some low,
small, fierce eyes, and distorted features. Their               dreamy, melodious air,—his own, no doubt, for he
feet and hands, however, are remarkably small.                 had a remarkable gift for improvisation. I have a
So intractable and fierce are they that all the ef-             vague remembrance of his gaunt limbs, his earnest
forts of the British official have failed to win them           face, and the rise and fall of his bow. Then I
over in any degree. They have always been a terror             seemed to be floated peacefully away upon a soft
to shipwrecked crews, braining the survivors with              sea of sound, until I found myself in dream-land,
their stone-headed clubs, or shooting them with                with the sweet face of Mary Morstan looking down
                                                               upon me.




                                              CHAPTER IX.
                                          A Break in the Chain

    It was late in the afternoon before I woke,                   “Can I do anything? I am perfectly fresh now,
strengthened and refreshed. Sherlock Holmes still              and quite ready for another night’s outing.”
sat exactly as I had left him, save that he had laid              “No, we can do nothing. We can only wait. If
aside his violin and was deep in a book. He looked             we go ourselves, the message might come in our
across at me, as I stirred, and I noticed that his face        absence, and delay be caused. You can do what
was dark and troubled.                                         you will, but I must remain on guard.”
   “You have slept soundly,” he said. “I feared                    “Then I shall run over to Camberwell and call
that our talk would wake you.”                                 upon Mrs. Cecil Forrester. She asked me to, yes-
    “I heard nothing,” I answered. “Have you had               terday.”
fresh news, then?”                                                “On Mrs. Cecil Forrester?” asked Holmes, with
                                                               the twinkle of a smile in his eyes.
    “Unfortunately, no. I confess that I am sur-
prised and disappointed. I expected something                     “Well, of course Miss Morstan too. They were
definite by this time. Wiggins has just been up                 anxious to hear what happened.”
to report. He says that no trace can be found of                  “I would not tell them too much,” said Holmes.
the launch. It is a provoking check, for every hour            “Women are never to be entirely trusted,—not the
is of importance.”                                             best of them.”

                                                          95
                                              The Sign of the Four

   I did not pause to argue over this atrocious sen-                “Well, he’s that strange, sir. After you was gone
timent. “I shall be back in an hour or two,” I re-              he walked and he walked, up and down, and up
marked.                                                         and down, until I was weary of the sound of his
    “All right! Good luck! But, I say, if you are               footstep. Then I heard him talking to himself and
crossing the river you may as well return Toby, for             muttering, and every time the bell rang out he
I don’t think it is at all likely that we shall have any        came on the stairhead, with ‘What is that, Mrs.
use for him now.”                                               Hudson?’ And now he has slammed off to his
                                                                room, but I can hear him walking away the same as
    I took our mongrel accordingly, and left him,               ever. I hope he’s not going to be ill, sir. I ventured
together with a half-sovereign, at the old natural-             to say something to him about cooling medicine,
ist’s in Pinchin Lane. At Camberwell I found Miss               but he turned on me, sir, with such a look that I
Morstan a little weary after her night’s adventures,            don’t know how ever I got out of the room.”
but very eager to hear the news. Mrs. Forrester,
                                                                    “I don’t think that you have any cause to be
too, was full of curiosity. I told them all that we
                                                                uneasy, Mrs. Hudson,“ I answered. ”I have seen
had done, suppressing, however, the more dread-
                                                                him like this before. He has some small matter
ful parts of the tragedy. Thus, although I spoke
                                                                upon his mind which makes him restless.” I tried
of Mr. Sholto’s death, I said nothing of the exact
                                                                to speak lightly to our worthy landlady, but I was
manner and method of it. With all my omissions,
                                                                myself somewhat uneasy when through the long
however, there was enough to startle and amaze
                                                                night I still from time to time heard the dull sound
them.
                                                                of his tread, and knew how his keen spirit was
    “It is a romance!” cried Mrs. Forrester. “An                chafing against this involuntary inaction.
injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black can-             At breakfast-time he looked worn and haggard,
nibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian. They take the                with a little fleck of feverish color upon either
place of the conventional dragon or wicked earl.”               cheek.
   “And two knight-errants to the rescue,” added                   “You are knocking yourself up, old man,” I
Miss Morstan, with a bright glance at me.                       remarked. “I heard you marching about in the
    “Why, Mary, your fortune depends upon the is-               night.”
sue of this search. I don’t think that you are nearly               “No, I could not sleep,” he answered. “This in-
excited enough. Just imagine what it must be to be              fernal problem is consuming me. It is too much
so rich, and to have the world at your feet!”                   to be balked by so petty an obstacle, when all else
    It sent a little thrill of joy to my heart to notice        had been overcome. I know the men, the launch,
that she showed no sign of elation at the prospect.             everything; and yet I can get no news. I have set
On the contrary, she gave a toss of her proud head,             other agencies at work, and used every means at
as though the matter were one in which she took                 my disposal. The whole river has been searched
small interest.                                                 on either side, but there is no news, nor has Mrs.
                                                                Smith heard of her husband. I shall come to the
    “It is for Mr. Thaddeus Sholto that I am anx-               conclusion soon that they have scuttled the craft.
ious,” she said. “Nothing else is of any conse-                 But there are objections to that.”
quence; but I think that he has behaved most
                                                                   “Or that Mrs. Smith has put us on a wrong
kindly and honorably throughout. It is our duty to
                                                                scent.”
clear him of this dreadful and unfounded charge.”
                                                                    “No, I think that may be dismissed. I had in-
   It was evening before I left Camberwell, and                 quiries made, and there is a launch of that descrip-
quite dark by the time I reached home. My com-                  tion.”
panion’s book and pipe lay by his chair, but he had
disappeared. I looked about in the hope of seeing                  “Could it have gone up the river?”
a note, but there was none.                                         “I have considered that possibility too, and
                                                                there is a search-party who will work up as far as
   “I suppose that Mr. Sherlock Holmes has gone
                                                                Richmond. If no news comes to-day, I shall start
out,” I said to Mrs. Hudson as she came up to
                                                                off myself to-morrow, and go for the men rather
lower the blinds.
                                                                than the boat. But surely, surely, we shall hear
   “No, sir. He has gone to his room, sir. Do you               something.”
know, sir,” sinking her voice into an impressive                    We did not, however. Not a word came to us
whisper, “I am afraid for his health?”                          either from Wiggins or from the other agencies.
   “Why so, Mrs. Hudson?”                                       There were articles in most of the papers upon the

                                                           96
                                            The Sign of the Four

Norwood tragedy. They all appeared to be rather                    the real culprits, and that it is being pros-
hostile to the unfortunate Thaddeus Sholto. No                     ecuted by Mr. Athelney Jones, of Scotland
fresh details were to be found, however, in any of                 Yard, with all his well-known energy and
them, save that an inquest was to be held upon the                 sagacity. Further arrests may be expected
following day. I walked over to Camberwell in the                  at any moment.”
evening to report our ill success to the ladies, and
on my return I found Holmes dejected and some-                “That is satisfactory so far as it goes,” thought I.
what morose. He would hardly reply to my ques-                “Friend Sholto is safe, at any rate. I wonder what
tions, and busied himself all evening in an abstruse          the fresh clue may be; though it seems to be a
chemical analysis which involved much heating of              stereotyped form whenever the police have made
retorts and distilling of vapors, ending at last in a         a blunder.”
smell which fairly drove me out of the apartment.                I tossed the paper down upon the table, but at
Up to the small hours of the morning I could hear             that moment my eye caught an advertisement in
the clinking of his test-tubes which told me that he          the agony column. It ran in this way:
was still engaged in his malodorous experiment.                     “Lost.—Whereas Mordecai Smith, boat-
   In the early dawn I woke with a start, and                       man, and his son, Jim, left Smith’s Wharf
was surprised to find him standing by my bed-                        at or about three o’clock last Tuesday morn-
side, clad in a rude sailor dress with a pea-jacket,                ing in the steam launch Aurora, black with
and a coarse red scarf round his neck.                              two red stripes, funnel black with a white
                                                                    band, the sum of five pounds will be paid to
   “I am off down the river, Watson,” said he. “I                   any one who can give information to Mrs.
have been turning it over in my mind, and I can                     Smith, at Smith’s Wharf, or at 221b Baker
see only one way out of it. It is worth trying, at all              Street, as to the whereabouts of the said
events.”                                                            Mordecai Smith and the launch Aurora.”
   “Surely I can come with you, then?” said I.
                                                              This was clearly Holmes’s doing. The Baker Street
   “No; you can be much more useful if you will               address was enough to prove that. It struck me as
remain here as my representative. I am loath to               rather ingenious, because it might be read by the
go, for it is quite on the cards that some message            fugitives without their seeing in it more than the
may come during the day, though Wiggins was de-               natural anxiety of a wife for her missing husband.
spondent about it last night. I want you to open all
                                                                  It was a long day. Every time that a knock
notes and telegrams, and to act on your own judg-
                                                              came to the door, or a sharp step passed in the
ment if any news should come. Can I rely upon
                                                              street, I imagined that it was either Holmes return-
you?”
                                                              ing or an answer to his advertisement. I tried to
   “Most certainly.”                                          read, but my thoughts would wander off to our
    “I am afraid that you will not be able to wire to         strange quest and to the ill-assorted and villainous
me, for I can hardly tell yet where I may find my-             pair whom we were pursuing. Could there be, I
self. If I am in luck, however, I may not be gone so          wondered, some radical flaw in my companion’s
very long. I shall have news of some sort or other            reasoning. Might he be suffering from some huge
before I get back.”                                           self-deception? Was it not possible that his nimble
                                                              and speculative mind had built up this wild the-
   I had heard nothing of him by breakfast-time.              ory upon faulty premises? I had never known him
On opening the Standard, however, I found that                to be wrong; and yet the keenest reasoner may oc-
there was a fresh allusion to the business.                   casionally be deceived. He was likely, I thought, to
      “With reference to the Upper Norwood                    fall into error through the over-refinement of his
      tragedy,” it remarked, “we have reason to               logic,—his preference for a subtle and bizarre ex-
      believe that the matter promises to be even             planation when a plainer and more commonplace
      more complex and mysterious than was                    one lay ready to his hand. Yet, on the other hand, I
      originally supposed. Fresh evidence has                 had myself seen the evidence, and I had heard the
      shown that it is quite impossible that Mr.              reasons for his deductions. When I looked back on
      Thaddeus Sholto could have been in any                  the long chain of curious circumstances, many of
      way concerned in the matter. He and the                 them trivial in themselves, but all tending in the
      housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, were both re-              same direction, I could not disguise from myself
      leased yesterday evening. It is believed,               that even if Holmes’s explanation were incorrect
      however, that the police have a clue as to                                                    e
                                                              the true theory must be equally outr´ and startling.

                                                         97
                                           The Sign of the Four

    At three o’clock in the afternoon there was a               “This sounds well. He has evidently picked up
loud peal at the bell, an authoritative voice in the        the scent again,” said I.
hall, and, to my surprise, no less a person than Mr.            “Ah, then he has been at fault too,” exclaimed
Athelney Jones was shown up to me. Very differ-             Jones, with evident satisfaction. “Even the best of
ent was he, however, from the brusque and master-           us are thrown off sometimes. Of course this may
ful professor of common sense who had taken over            prove to be a false alarm; but it is my duty as an
the case so confidently at Upper Norwood. His ex-            officer of the law to allow no chance to slip. But
pression was downcast, and his bearing meek and             there is some one at the door. Perhaps this is he.”
even apologetic.                                                A heavy step was heard ascending the stair,
   “Good-day, sir; good-day,” said he. “Mr. Sher-           with a great wheezing and rattling as from a man
lock Holmes is out, I understand.”                          who was sorely put to it for breath. Once or twice
   “Yes, and I cannot be sure when he will be               he stopped, as though the climb were too much
back. But perhaps you would care to wait. Take              for him, but at last he made his way to our door
that chair and try one of these cigars.”                    and entered. His appearance corresponded to the
                                                            sounds which we had heard. He was an aged man,
   “Thank you; I don’t mind if I do,” said he,              clad in seafaring garb, with an old pea-jacket but-
mopping his face with a red bandanna handker-               toned up to his throat. His back was bowed, his
chief.                                                      knees were shaky, and his breathing was painfully
   “And a whiskey-and-soda?”                                asthmatic. As he leaned upon a thick oaken cudgel
                                                            his shoulders heaved in the effort to draw the air
    “Well, half a glass. It is very hot for the time
                                                            into his lungs. He had a colored scarf round his
of year; and I have had a good deal to worry and
                                                            chin, and I could see little of his face save a pair of
try me. You know my theory about this Norwood
                                                            keen dark eyes, overhung by bushy white brows,
case?”
                                                            and long gray side-whiskers. Altogether he gave
   “I remember that you expressed one.”                     me the impression of a respectable master mariner
    “Well, I have been obliged to reconsider it. I          who had fallen into years and poverty.
had my net drawn tightly round Mr. Sholto, sir,                 “What is it, my man?” I asked.
when pop he went through a hole in the middle of                He looked about him in the slow methodical
it. He was able to prove an alibi which could not           fashion of old age.
be shaken. From the time that he left his brother’s             “Is Mr. Sherlock Holmes here?” said he.
room he was never out of sight of some one or
                                                                “No; but I am acting for him. You can tell me
other. So it could not be he who climbed over roofs
                                                            any message you have for him.”
and through trap-doors. It’s a very dark case, and
my professional credit is at stake. I should be very            “It was to him himself I was to tell it,” said he.
glad of a little assistance.”                                   “But I tell you that I am acting for him. Was it
                                                            about Mordecai Smith’s boat?”
   “We all need help sometimes,” said I.
                                                                “Yes. I knows well where it is. An’ I knows
    “Your friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a wonder-           where the men he is after are. An’ I knows where
ful man, sir,” said he, in a husky and confidential          the treasure is. I knows all about it.”
voice. “He’s a man who is not to be beat. I have
                                                                “Then tell me, and I shall let him know.”
known that young man go into a good many cases,
but I never saw the case yet that he could not throw            “It was to him I was to tell it,” he repeated,
a light upon. He is irregular in his methods, and           with the petulant obstinacy of a very old man.
a little quick perhaps in jumping at theories, but,             “Well, you must wait for him.”
on the whole, I think he would have made a most                 “No, no; I ain’t goin’ to lose a whole day to
promising officer, and I don’t care who knows it. I          please no one. If Mr. Holmes ain’t here, then Mr.
have had a wire from him this morning, by which I           Holmes must find it all out for himself. I don’t care
understand that he has got some clue to this Sholto         about the look of either of you, and I won’t tell a
business. Here is the message.”                             word.”
    He took the telegram out of his pocket, and                 He shuffled towards the door, but Athelney
handed it to me. It was dated from Poplar at                Jones got in front of him.
twelve o’clock. “Go to Baker Street at once,“ it                “Wait a bit, my friend,” said he. “You have im-
said. ”If I have not returned, wait for me. I am            portant information, and you must not walk off.
close on the track of the Sholto gang. You can come         We shall keep you, whether you like or not, until
with us to-night if you want to be in at the finish.”        our friend returns.”

                                                       98
                                           The Sign of the Four

    The old man made a little run towards the                    “Never mind. We shall give you two others in
door, but, as Athelney Jones put his broad back              the place of them. But you must put yourself un-
up against it, he recognized the uselessness of re-          der my orders. You are welcome to all the official
sistance.                                                    credit, but you must act on the line that I point out.
    “Pretty sort o’ treatment this!” he cried, stamp-        Is that agreed?”
ing his stick. “I come here to see a gentleman, and             “Entirely, if you will help me to the men.”
you two, who I never saw in my life, seize me and               “Well, then, in the first place I shall want a fast
treat me in this fashion!”                                   police-boat—a steam launch—to be at the West-
   “You will be none the worse,” I said. “We shall           minster Stairs at seven o’clock.”
recompense you for the loss of your time. Sit over              “That is easily managed. There is always one
here on the sofa, and you will not have long to              about there; but I can step across the road and tele-
wait.”                                                       phone to make sure.”
   He came across sullenly enough, and seated                    “Then I shall want two stanch men, in case of
himself with his face resting on his hands. Jones            resistance.”
and I resumed our cigars and our talk. Suddenly,
                                                                 “There will be two or three in the boat. What
however, Holmes’s voice broke in upon us.
                                                             else?”
   “I think that you might offer me a cigar too,”
                                                                 “When we secure the men we shall get the trea-
he said.
                                                             sure. I think that it would be a pleasure to my
  We both started in our chairs. There was                   friend here to take the box round to the young
Holmes sitting close to us with an air of quiet              lady to whom half of it rightfully belongs. Let her
amusement.                                                   be the first to open it.—Eh, Watson?”
    “Holmes!” I exclaimed. “You here! But where                 “It would be a great pleasure to me.”
is the old man?”                                                 “Rather an irregular proceeding,” said Jones,
   “Here is the old man,” said he, holding out a             shaking his head. “However, the whole thing is
heap of white hair. “Here he is,—wig, whiskers,              irregular, and I suppose we must wink at it. The
eyebrows, and all. I thought my disguise was                 treasure must afterwards be handed over to the
pretty good, but I hardly expected that it would             authorities until after the official investigation.”
stand that test.”                                               “Certainly. That is easily managed. One other
   “Ah, you rogue!” cried Jones, highly delighted.           point. I should much like to have a few details
“You would have made an actor, and a rare one.               about this matter from the lips of Jonathan Small
You had the proper workhouse cough, and those                himself. You know I like to work the detail of
weak legs of yours are worth ten pound a week. I             my cases out. There is no objection to my hav-
thought I knew the glint of your eye, though. You            ing an unofficial interview with him, either here in
didn’t get away from us so easily, you see.”                 my rooms or elsewhere, as long as he is efficiently
    “I have been working in that get-up all day,”            guarded?”
said he, lighting his cigar. “You see, a good                   “Well, you are master of the situation. I have
many of the criminal classes begin to know                   had no proof yet of the existence of this Jonathan
me,—especially since our friend here took to pub-            Small. However, if you can catch him I don’t see
lishing some of my cases: so I can only go on                how I can refuse you an interview with him.”
the war-path under some simple disguise like this.              “That is understood, then?”
You got my wire?”
                                                                “Perfectly. Is there anything else?”
   “Yes; that was what brought me here.”
                                                                “Only that I insist upon your dining with us. It
   “How has your case prospered?”                            will be ready in half an hour. I have oysters and
    “It has all come to nothing. I have had to re-           a brace of grouse, with something a little choice in
lease two of my prisoners, and there is no evidence          white wines.—Watson, you have never yet recog-
against the other two.”                                      nized my merits as a housekeeper.”




                                                        99
                                            The Sign of the Four

                                              CHAPTER X.
                                       The End of the Islander

    Our meal was a merry one. Holmes coud talk                    “Well, hardly that.    But there are not many
exceedingly well when he chose, and that night                 launches to beat us.”
he did choose. He appeared to be in a state of
                                                                   “We shall have to catch the Aurora, and she has
nervous exaltation. I have never known him so
                                                               a name for being a clipper. I will tell you how the
brilliant. He spoke on a quick succession of sub-
                                                               land lies, Watson. You recollect how annoyed I was
jects,—on miracle-plays, on medieval pottery, on
                                                               at being balked by so small a thing?”
Stradivarius violins, on the Buddhism of Ceylon,
and on the war-ships of the future,—handling each                 “Yes.”
as though he had made a special study of it. His                   “Well, I gave my mind a thorough rest by
bright humor marked the reaction from his black                plunging into a chemical analysis. One of our
depression of the preceding days. Athelney Jones               greatest statesmen has said that a change of work
proved to be a sociable soul in his hours of relax-            is the best rest. So it is. When I had succeeded in
ation, and face his dinner with the air of a bon vi-           dissolving the hydrocarbon which I was at work
vant. For myself, I felt elated at the thought that            at, I came back to our problem of the Sholtos, and
we were nearing the end of our task, and I caught              thought the whole matter out again. My boys had
something of Holmes’s gaiety. None of us alluded               been up the river and down the river without re-
during dinner to the cause which had brought us                sult. The launch was not at any landing-stage or
together.                                                      wharf, nor had it returned. Yet it could hardly
    When the cloth was cleared, Holmes glanced                 have been scuttled to hide their traces,—though
at this watch, and filled up three glasses with port.           that always remained as a possible hypothesis if
“One bumper,” said he, “to the success of our little           all else failed. I knew this man Small had a certain
expedition. And now it is high time we were off.               degree of low cunning, but I did not think him ca-
Have you a pistol, Watson?”                                    pable of anything in the nature of delicate finesse.
   “I have my old service-revolver in my desk.”                That is usually a product of higher education. I
                                                               then reflected that since he had certainly been in
    “You had best take it, then. It is well to be pre-         London some time—as we had evidence that he
pared. I see that the cab is at the door. I ordered it         maintained a continual watch over Pondicherry
for half-past six.”                                            Lodge—he could hardly leave at a moment’s no-
   It was a little past seven before we reached the            tice, but would need some little time, if it were
Westminster wharf, and found our launch await-                 only a day, to arrange his affairs. That was the
ing us. Holmes eyed it critically.                             balance of probability, at any rate.”
   “Is there anything to mark it as a police-boat?”               “It seems to me to be a little weak,” said I. “It
   “Yes,—that green lamp at the side.”                         is more probable that he had arranged his affairs
                                                               before ever he set out upon his expedition.”
   “Then take it off.”
                                                                   “No, I hardly think so. This lair of his would
   The small change was made, we stepped on                    be too valuable a retreat in case of need for him
board, and the ropes were cast off. Jones, Holmes,             to give it up until he was sure that he could
and I sat in the stern. There was one man at the               do without it. But a second consideration struck
rudder, one to tend the engines, and two burly                 me. Jonathan Small must have felt that the pecu-
police-inspectors forward.                                     liar appearance of his companion, however much
   “Where to?” asked Jones.                                    he may have top-coated him, would give rise to
   “To the Tower. Tell them to stop opposite Ja-               gossip, and possibly be associated with this Nor-
cobson’s Yard.”                                                wood tragedy. He was quite sharp enough to see
                                                               that. They had started from their head-quarters
    Our craft was evidently a very fast one. We                under cover of darkness, and he would wish to
shot past the long lines of loaded barges as though            get back before it was broad light. Now, it was
they were stationary. Holmes smiled with satisfac-             past three o’clock, according to Mrs. Smith, when
tion as we overhauled a river steamer and left her             they got the boat. It would be quite bright, and
behind us.                                                     people would be about in an hour or so. There-
    “We ought to be able to catch anything on the              fore, I argued, they did not go very far. They paid
river,” he said.                                               Smith well to hold his tongue, reserved his launch

                                                         100
                                             The Sign of the Four

for the final escape, and hurried to their lodg-                 be a strange thing if we do not take men, treasure,
ings with the treasure-box. In a couple of nights,              and all.”
when they had time to see what view the papers                      “You have planned it all very neatly, whether
took, and whether there was any suspicion, they                 they are the right men or not,“ said Jones; ”but
would make their way under cover of darkness to                 if the affair were in my hands I should have had
some ship at Gravesend or in the Downs, where                   a body of police in Jacobson’s Yard, and arrested
no doubt they had already arranged for passages                 them when they came down.”
to America or the Colonies.”
                                                                    “Which would have been never. This man
   “But the launch? They could not have taken                   Small is a pretty shrewd fellow. He would send
that to their lodgings.”                                        a scout on ahead, and if anything made him sus-
                                                                picious lie snug for another week.”
    “Quite so. I argued that the launch must be
                                                                    “But you might have stuck to Mordecai Smith,
no great way off, in spite of its invisibility. I then
                                                                and so been led to their hiding-place,” said I.
put myself in the place of Small, and looked at it
as a man of his capacity would. He would prob-                      “In that case I should have wasted my day. I
ably consider that to send back the launch or to                think that it is a hundred to one against Smith
keep it at a wharf would make pursuit easy if the               knowing where they live. As long as he has liquor
police did happen to get on his track. How, then,               and good pay, why should he ask questions? They
could he conceal the launch and yet have her at                 send him messages what to do. No, I thought over
hand when wanted? I wondered what I should do                   every possible course, and this is the best.”
myself if I were in his shoes. I could only think of                While this conversation had been proceeding,
one way of doing it. I might land the launch over               we had been shooting the long series of bridges
to some boat-builder or repairer, with directions to            which span the Thames. As we passed the City
make a trifling change in her. She would then be                 the last rays of the sun were gilding the cross upon
removed to his shed or hard, and so be effectually              the summit of St. Paul’s. It was twilight before we
concealed, while at the same time I could have her              reached the Tower.
at a few hours’ notice.”                                            “That is Jacobson’s Yard,” said Holmes, point-
                                                                ing to a bristle of masts and rigging on the Sur-
   “That seems simple enough.”
                                                                rey side. “Cruise gently up and down here under
    “It is just these very simple things which are              cover of this string of lighters.” He took a pair of
extremely liable to be overlooked. However, I de-               night-glasses from his pocket and gazed some time
termined to act on the idea. I started at once in               at the shore. “I see my sentry at his post,” he re-
this harmless seaman’s rig and inquired at all the              marked, “but no sign of a handkerchief.”
yards down the river. I drew blank at fifteen, but at                “Suppose we go down-stream a short way and
the sixteenth—Jacobson’s—I learned that the Au-                 lie in wait for them,” said Jones, eagerly. We were
rora had been handed over to them two days ago                  all eager by this time, even the policemen and stok-
by a wooden-legged man, with some trivial direc-                ers, who had a very vague idea of what was going
tions as to her rudder. ‘There ain’t naught amiss               forward.
with her rudder,’ said the foreman. ‘There she                      “We have no right to take anything for
lies, with the red streaks.’ At that moment who                 granted,” Holmes answered. “It is certainly ten
should come down but Mordecai Smith, the miss-                  to one that they go down-stream, but we cannot
ing owner? He was rather the worse for liquor. I                be certain. From this point we can see the entrance
should not, of course, have known him, but he bel-              of the yard, and they can hardly see us. It will
lowed out his name and the name of his launch. ‘I               be a clear night and plenty of light. We must stay
want her to-night at eight o’clock,’ said he,—‘eight            where we are. See how the folk swarm over yon-
o’clock sharp, mind, for I have two gentlemen who               der in the gaslight.”
won’t be kept waiting.’ They had evidently paid
                                                                    “They are coming from work in the yard.”
him well, for he was very flush of money, chucking
shillings about to the men. I followed him some                     “Dirty-looking rascals, but I suppose every one
distance, but he subsided into an ale-house: so I               has some little immortal spark concealed about
went back to the yard, and, happening to pick up                him. You would not think it, to look at them. There
one of my boys on the way, I stationed him as a                 is no a priori probability about it. A strange enigma
sentry over the launch. He is to stand at water’s               is man!”
edge and wave his handkerchief to us when they                      “Some one calls him a soul concealed in an an-
start. We shall be lying off in the stream, and it will         imal,” I suggested.

                                                          101
                                           The Sign of the Four

   “Winwood Reade is good upon the subject,”                      At that moment, however, as our evil fate
said Holmes. “He remarks that, while the individ-             would have it, a tug with three barges in tow blun-
ual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate              dered in between us. It was only by putting our
he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for             helm hard down that we avoided a collision, and
example, never foretell what any one man will do,             before we could round them and recover our way
but you can say with precision what an average                the Aurora had gained a good two hundred yards.
number will be up to. Individuals vary, but per-              She was still, however, well in view, and the murky
centages remain constant. So says the statistician.           uncertain twilight was setting into a clear starlit
But do I see a handkerchief? Surely there is a white          night. Our boilers were strained to their utmost,
flutter over yonder.”                                          and the frail shell vibrated and creaked with the
   “Yes, it is your boy,” I cried. “I can see him             fierce energy which was driving us along. We had
plainly.”                                                     shot through the Pool, past the West India Docks,
                                                              down the long Deptford Reach, and up again af-
    “And there is the Aurora,” exclaimed Holmes,              ter rounding the Isle of Dogs. The dull blur in
“and going like the devil! Full speed ahead, en-              front of us resolved itself now clearly enough into
gineer. Make after that launch with the yellow                the dainty Aurora. Jones turned our search-light
light. By heaven, I shall never forgive myself if             upon her, so that we could plainly see the figures
she proves to have the heels of us!”                          upon her deck. One man sat by the stern, with
   She had slipped unseen through the yard-                   something black between his knees over which he
entrance and passed behind two or three small                 stooped. Beside him lay a dark mass which looked
craft, so that she had fairly got her speed up before         like a Newfoundland dog. The boy held the tiller,
we saw her. Now she was flying down the stream,                while against the red glare of the furnace I could
near in to the shore, going at a tremendous rate.             see old Smith, stripped to the waist, and shovel-
Jones looked gravely at her and shook his head.               ling coals for dear life. They may have had some
                                                              doubt at first as to whether we were really pur-
    “She is very fast,” he said. “I doubt if we shall
                                                              suing them, but now as we followed every wind-
catch her.”
                                                              ing and turning which they took there could no
    “We must catch her!” cried Holmes, between                longer be any question about it. At Greenwich
his teeth. “Heap it on, stokers! Make her do all              we were about three hundred paces behind them.
she can! If we burn the boat we must have them!”              At Blackwall we could not have been more than
    We were fairly after her now. The furnaces                two hundred and fifty. I have coursed many crea-
roared, and the powerful engines whizzed and                  tures in many countries during my checkered ca-
clanked, like a great metallic heart. Her sharp,              reer, but never did sport give me such a wild thrill
steep prow cut through the river-water and sent               as this mad, flying man-hunt down the Thames.
two rolling waves to right and to left of us. With            Steadily we drew in upon them, yard by yard. In
every throb of the engines we sprang and quivered             the silence of the night we could hear the panting
like a living thing. One great yellow lantern in              and clanking of their machinery. The man in the
our bows threw a long, flickering funnel of light in           stern still crouched upon the deck, and his arms
front of us. Right ahead a dark blur upon the wa-             were moving as though he were busy, while ev-
ter showed where the Aurora lay, and the swirl of             ery now and then he would look up and measure
white foam behind her spoke of the pace at which              with a glance the distance which still separated us.
she was going. We flashed past barges, steamers,               Nearer we came and nearer. Jones yelled to them
merchant-vessels, in and out, behind this one and             to stop. We were not more than four boat’s lengths
round the other. Voices hailed us out of the dark-            behind them, both boats flying at a tremendous
ness, but still the Aurora thundered on, and still we         pace. It was a clear reach of the river, with Bark-
followed close upon her track.                                ing Level upon one side and the melancholy Plum-
                                                              stead Marshes upon the other. At our hail the man
   “Pile it on, men, pile it on!” cried Holmes, look-         in the stern sprang up from the deck and shook
ing down into the engine-room, while the fierce                his two clinched fists at us, cursing the while in a
glow from below beat upon his eager, aquiline                 high, cracked voice. He was a good-sized, pow-
face. “Get every pound of steam you can.”                     erful man, and as he stood poising himself with
   “I think we gain a little,” said Jones, with his           legs astride I could see that from the thigh down-
eyes on thea Aurora.                                          wards there was but a wooden stump upon the
                                                              right side. At the sound of his strident, angry cries
   “I am sure of it,” said I. “We shall be up with
                                                              there was movement in the huddled bundle upon
her in a very few minutes.”

                                                        102
                                          The Sign of the Four

the deck. It straightened itself into a little black         and beds of decaying vegetation. The launch with
man—the smallest I have ever seen—with a great,              a dull thud ran up upon the mud-bank, with her
misshapen head and a shock of tangled, dishev-               bow in the air and her stern flush with the water.
elled hair. Holmes had already drawn his revolver,           The fugitive sprang out, but his stump instantly
and I whipped out mine at the sight of this sav-             sank its whole length into the sodden soil. In vain
age, distorted creature. He was wrapped in some              he struggled and writhed. Not one step could he
sort of dark ulster or blanket, which left only his          possibly take either forwards or backwards. He
face exposed; but that face was enough to give a             yelled in impotent rage, and kicked frantically into
man a sleepless night. Never have I seen features            the mud with his other foot, but his struggles only
so deeply marked with all bestiality and cruelty.            bored his wooden pin the deeper into the sticky
His small eyes glowed and burned with a sombre               bank. When we brought our launch alongside he
light, and his thick lips were writhed back from             was so firmly anchored that it was only by throw-
his teeth, which grinned and chattered at us with            ing the end of a rope over his shoulders that we
a half animal fury.                                          were able to haul him out, and to drag him, like
    “Fire if he raises his hand,” said Holmes, qui-          some evil fish, over our side. The two Smiths,
etly. We were within a boat’s-length by this time,           father and son, sat sullenly in their launch, but
and almost within touch of our quarry. I can see             came aboard meekly enough when commanded.
the two of them now as they stood, the white man             The Aurora herself we hauled off and made fast
with his legs far apart, shrieking out curses, and           to our stern. A solid iron chest of Indian work-
the unhallowed dwarf with his hideous face, and              manship stood upon the deck. This, there could
his strong yellow teeth gnashing at us in the light          be no question, was the same that had contained
of our lantern.                                              the ill-omened treasure of the Sholtos. There was
    It was well that we had so clear a view of him.          no key, but it was of considerable weight, so we
Even as we looked he plucked out from under                  transferred it carefully to our own little cabin. As
his covering a short, round piece of wood, like a            we steamed slowly up-stream again, we flashed
school-ruler, and clapped it to his lips. Our pis-           our search-light in every direction, but there was
tols rang out together. He whirled round, threw              no sign of the Islander. Somewhere in the dark
up his arms, and with a kind of choking cough fell           ooze at the bottom of the Thames lie the bones of
sideways into the stream. I caught one glimpse of            that strange visitor to our shores.
his venomous, menacing eyes amid the white swirl                “See here,” said Holmes, pointing to the
of the waters. At the same moment the wooden-                wooden hatchway. “We were hardly quick enough
legged man threw himself upon the rudder and                 with our pistols.” There, sure enough, just behind
put it hard down, so that his boat made straight             where we had been standing, stuck one of those
in for the southern bank, while we shot past her             murderous darts which we knew so well. It must
stern, only clearing her by a few feet. We were              have whizzed between us at the instant that we
round after her in an instant, but she was already           fired. Holmes smiled at it and shrugged his shoul-
nearly at the bank. It was a wild and desolate               ders in his easy fashion, but I confess that it turned
place, where the moon glimmered upon a wide ex-              me sick to think of the horrible death which had
panse of marsh-land, with pools of stagnant water            passed so close to us that night.




                                           CHAPTER XI.
                                     The Great Agra Treasure

   Our captive sat in the cabin opposite to the              all over his mahogany features, which told of a
iron box which he had done so much and waited                hard, open-air life. There was a singular promi-
so long to gain. He was a sunburned, reckless-               nence about his bearded chin which marked a man
eyed fellow, with a net-work of lines and wrinkles           who was not to be easily turned from his purpose.



                                                       103
                                             The Sign of the Four

His age may have been fifty or thereabouts, for his              Tonga for it if he had not scrambled off. That was
black, curly hair was thickly shot with gray. His               how he came to leave his club, and some of his
face in repose was not an unpleasing one, though                darts too, as he tells me, which I dare say helped
his heavy brows and aggressive chin gave him,                   to put you on our track; though how you kept on
as I had lately seen, a terrible expression when                it is more than I can tell. I don’t feel no mal-
moved to anger. He sat now with his handcuffed                  ice against you for it. But it does seem a queer
hands upon his lap, and his head sunk upon his                  thing,” he added, with a bitter smile, “that I who
breast, while he looked with his keen, twinkling                have a fair claim to nigh upon half a million of
eyes at the box which had been the cause of his                 money should spend the first half of my life build-
ill-doings. It seemed to me that there was more                 ing a breakwater in the Andamans, and am like to
sorrow than anger in his rigid and contained coun-              spend the other half digging drains at Dartmoor.
tenance. Once he looked up at me with a gleam of                It was an evil day for me when first I clapped eyes
something like humor in his eyes.                               upon the merchant Achmet and had to do with the
    “Well, Jonathan Small,” said Holmes, lighting               Agra treasure, which never brought anything but
a cigar, “I am sorry that it has come to this.”                 a curse yet upon the man who owned it. To him
                                                                it brought murder, to Major Sholto it brought fear
    “And so am I, sir,” he answered, frankly. “I
                                                                and guilt, to me it has meant slavery for life.”
don’t believe that I can swing over the job. I give
you my word on the book that I never raised hand                   At this moment Athelney Jones thrust his
against Mr. Sholto. It was that little hell-hound               broad face and heavy shoulders into the tiny cabin.
Tonga who shot one of his cursed darts into him.                “Quite a family party,” he remarked. “I think I
I had no part in it, sir. I was as grieved as if it had         shall have a pull at that flask, Holmes. Well, I think
been my blood-relation. I welted the little devil               we may all congratulate each other. Pity we didn’t
with the slack end of the rope for it, but it was               take the other alive; but there was no choice. I say,
done, and I could not undo it again.”                           Holmes, you must confess that you cut it rather
                                                                fine. It was all we could do to overhaul her.”
    “Have a cigar,” said Holmes; “and you had best
take a pull out of my flask, for you are very wet.                   “All is well that ends well,” said Holmes. “But
How could you expect so small and weak a man                    I certainly did not know that the Aurora was such
as this black fellow to overpower Mr. Sholto and                a clipper.”
hold him while you were climbing the rope?”                        “Smith says she is one of the fastest launches
    “You seem to know as much about it as if you                on the river, and that if he had had another man to
were there, sir. The truth is that I hoped to find               help him with the engines we should never have
the room clear. I knew the habits of the house                  caught her. He swears he knew nothing of this
pretty well, and it was the time when Mr. Sholto                Norwood business.”
usually went down to his supper. I shall make                      “Neither he did,” cried our prisoner,—“not a
no secret of the business. The best defence that                word. I chose his launch because I heard that she
I can make is just the simple truth. Now, if it                 was a flier. We told him nothing, but we paid him
had been the old major I would have swung for                   well, and he was to get something handsome if we
him with a light heart. I would have thought no                 reached our vessel, the Esmeralda, at Gravesend,
more of knifing him than of smoking this cigar.                  outward bound for the Brazils.”
But it’s cursed hard that I should be lagged over                   “Well, if he has done no wrong we shall see that
this young Sholto, with whom I had no quarrel                   no wrong comes to him. If we are pretty quick in
whatever.”                                                      catching our men, we are not so quick in condemn-
    “You are under the charge of Mr. Athelney                   ing them.” It was amusing to notice how the conse-
Jones, of Scotland Yard. He is going to bring you               quential Jones was already beginning to give him-
up to my rooms, and I shall ask you for a true ac-              self airs on the strength of the capture. From the
count of the matter. You must make a clean breast               slight smile which played over Sherlock Holmes’s
of it, for if you do I hope that I may be of use                face, I could see that the speech had not been lost
to you. I think I can prove that the poison acts                upon him.
so quickly that the man was dead before ever you                    “We will be at Vauxhall Bridge presently,” said
reached the room.”                                              Jones, “and shall land you, Dr. Watson, with the
    “That he was, sir. I never got such a turn in               treasure-box. I need hardly tell you that I am tak-
my life as when I saw him grinning at me with                   ing a very grave responsibility upon myself in do-
his head on his shoulder as I climbed through the               ing this. It is most irregular; but of course an
window. It fairly shook me, sir. I’d have half killed           agreement is an agreement. I must, however, as

                                                          104
                                           The Sign of the Four

a matter of duty, send an inspector with you, since           will be few richer young ladies in England. Is it
you have so valuable a charge. You will drive, no             not glorious?”
doubt?”                                                            I think that I must have been rather overacting
   “Yes, I shall drive.”                                      my delight, and that she detected a hollow ring in
   “It is a pity there is no key, that we may make            my congratulations, for I saw her eyebrows rise a
an inventory first. You will have to break it open.            little, and she glanced at me curiously.
Where is the key, my man?”                                         “If I have it,” said she, “I owe it to you.”
   “At the bottom of the river,” said Small, shortly.              “No, no,” I answered, “not to me, but to my
   “Hum! There was no use your giving this un-                friend Sherlock Holmes. With all the will in the
necessary trouble. We have had work enough al-                world, I could never have followed up a clue which
ready through you. However, doctor, I need not                has taxed even his analytical genius. As it was, we
warn you to be careful. Bring the box back with               very nearly lost it at the last moment.”
you to the Baker Street rooms. You will find us                     “Pray sit down and tell me all about it, Dr. Wat-
there, on our way to the station.”                            son,” said she.
   They landed me at Vauxhall, with my heavy                       I narrated briefly what had occurred since I had
iron box, and with a bluff, genial inspector as my            seen her last,—Holmes’s new method of search,
companion. A quarter of an hour’s drive brought               the discovery of the Aurora, the appearance of
us to Mrs. Cecil Forrester’s. The servant seemed              Athelney Jones, our expedition in the evening, and
surprised at so late a visitor. Mrs. Cecil Forrester          the wild chase down the Thames. She listened
was out for the evening, she explained, and likely            with parted lips and shining eyes to my recital of
to be very late. Miss Morstan, however, was in                our adventures. When I spoke of the dart which
the drawing-room: so to the drawing-room I went,              had so narrowly missed us, she turned so white
box in hand, leaving the obliging inspector in the            that I feared that she was about to faint.
cab.                                                               “It is nothing,” she said, as I hastened to pour
     She was seated by the open window, dressed               her out some water. “I am all right again. It was a
in some sort of white diaphanous material, with a             shock to me to hear that I had placed my friends
little touch of scarlet at the neck and waist. The            in such horrible peril.”
soft light of a shaded lamp fell upon her as she                   “That is all over,” I answered. “It was nothing.
leaned back in the basket chair, playing over her             I will tell you no more gloomy details. Let us turn
sweet, grave face, and tinting with a dull, metal-            to something brighter. There is the treasure. What
lic sparkle the rich coils of her luxuriant hair. One         could be brighter than that? I got leave to bring it
white arm and hand drooped over the side of the               with me, thinking that it would interest you to be
chair, and her whole pose and figure spoke of an               the first to see it.”
absorbing melancholy. At the sound of my foot-                     “It would be of the greatest interest to me,” she
fall she sprang to her feet, however, and a bright            said. There was no eagerness in her voice, how-
flush of surprise and of pleasure colored her pale             ever. It had struck her, doubtless, that it might
cheeks.                                                       seem ungracious upon her part to be indifferent to
    “I heard a cab drive up,” she said. “I thought            a prize which had cost so much to win.
that Mrs. Forrester had come back very early, but                  “What a pretty box!” she said, stooping over it.
I never dreamed that it might be you. What news               “This is Indian work, I suppose?”
have you brought me?”                                              “Yes; it is Benares metal-work.”
   “I have brought something better than news,”                    “And so heavy!” she exclaimed, trying to raise
said I, putting down the box upon the table and               it. “The box alone must be of some value. Where
speaking jovially and boisterously, though my                 is the key?”
heart was heavy within me. “I have brought you
                                                                   “Small threw it into the Thames,” I answered.
something which is worth all the news in the
                                                              “I must borrow Mrs. Forrester’s poker.” There was
world. I have brought you a fortune.”
                                                              in the front a thick and broad hasp, wrought in
   She glanced at iron box. “Is that the treasure,            the image of a sitting Buddha. Under this I thrust
then?” she asked, coolly enough.                              the end of the poker and twisted it outward as a
    “Yes, this is the great Agra treasure. Half of it         lever. The hasp sprang open with a loud snap.
is yours and half is Thaddeus Sholto’s. You will              With trembling fingers I flung back the lid. We
have a couple of hundred thousand each. Think of              both stood gazing in astonishment. The box was
that! An annuity of ten thousand pounds. There                empty!

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                                          The Sign of the Four

    No wonder that it was heavy. The iron-work               golden barrier was gone from between us. “Thank
was two-thirds of an inch thick all round. It was            God!” I ejaculated from my very heart.
massive, well made, and solid, like a chest con-                She looked at me with a quick, questioning
structed to carry things of great price, but not one         smile. “Why do you say that?” she asked.
shred or crumb of metal or jewelry lay within it. It
                                                                “Because you are within my reach again,” I
was absolutely and completely empty.
                                                             said, taking her hand. She did not withdraw it.
   “The treasure is lost,” said Miss Morstan,                “Because I love you, Mary, as truly as ever a man
calmly.                                                      loved a woman. Because this treasure, these riches,
   As I listened to the words and realized what              sealed my lips. Now that they are gone I can tell
they meant, a great shadow seemed to pass from               you how I love you. That is why I said, ‘Thank
my soul. I did not know how this Agra treasure               God.’ ”
had weighed me down, until now that it was fi-                    “Then I say, ‘Thank God,’ too,” she whispered,
nally removed. It was selfish, no doubt, disloyal,            as I drew her to my side. Whoever had lost a trea-
wrong, but I could realize nothing save that the             sure, I knew that night that I had gained one.




                                           CHAPTER XII.
                            The Strange Story of Jonathan Small

   A very patient man was that inspector in the                   “Yes, I have put it away where you shall never
cab, for it was a weary time before I rejoined him.          lay hand upon it,” he cried, exultantly. “It is my
His face clouded over when I showed him the                  treasure; and if I can’t have the loot I’ll take darned
empty box.                                                   good care that no one else does. I tell you that no
   “There goes the reward!” said he, gloomily.               living man has any right to it, unless it is three
“Where there is no money there is no pay. This               men who are in the Andaman convict-barracks
night’s work would have been worth a tenner each             and myself. I know now that I cannot have the
to Sam Brown and me if the treasure had been                 use of it, and I know that they cannot. I have
there.”                                                      acted all through for them as much as for myself.
                                                             It’s been the sign of four with us always. Well I
   “Mr. Thaddeus Sholto is a rich man,” I said.
                                                             know that they would have had me do just what I
“He will see that you are rewarded, treasure or
                                                             have done, and throw the treasure into the Thames
no.”
                                                             rather than let it go to kith or kin of Sholto or of
   The inspector shook his head despondently,                Morstan. It was not to make them rich that we did
however. “It’s a bad job,” he repeated; “and so              for Achmet. You’ll find the treasure where the key
Mr. Athelney Jones will think.”                              is, and where little Tonga is. When I saw that your
    His forecast proved to be correct, for the de-           launch must catch us, I put the loot away in a safe
tective looked blank enough when I got to Baker              place. There are no rupees for you this journey.”
Street and showed him the empty box. They had                     “You are deceiving us, Small,” said Athelney
only just arrived, Holmes, the prisoner, and he, for         Jones, sternly. “If you had wished to throw the
they had changed their plans so far as to report             treasure into the Thames it would have been eas-
themselves at a station upon the way. My compan-             ier for you to have thrown box and all.”
ion lounged in his arm-chair with his usual list-                 “Easier for me to throw, and easier for you to
less expression, while Small sat stolidly opposite           recover,” he answered, with a shrewd, sidelong
to him with his wooden leg cocked over his sound             look. “The man that was clever enough to hunt me
one. As I exhibited the empty box he leaned back             down is clever enough to pick an iron box from the
in his chair and laughed aloud.                              bottom of a river. Now that they are scattered over
   “This is your doing, Small,” said Athelney                five miles or so, it may be a harder job. It went to
Jones, angrily.                                              my heart to do it, though. I was half mad when

                                                       106
                                            The Sign of the Four

you came up with us. However, there’s no good                  country-side, while I was always a bit of a rover. At
grieving over it. I’ve had ups in my life, and I’ve            last, however, when I was about eighteen, I gave
had downs, but I’ve learned not to cry over spilled            them no more trouble, for I got into a mess over
milk.”                                                         a girl, and could only get out of it again by tak-
   “This is a very serious matter, Small,” said the            ing the queen’s shilling and joining the 3d Buffs,
detective. “If you had helped justice, instead of              which was just starting for India.
thwarting it in this way, you would have had a                     “I wasn’t destined to do much soldiering, how-
better chance at your trial.”                                  ever. I had just got past the goose-step, and
    “Justice!” snarled the ex-convict. “A pretty jus-          learned to handle my musket, when I was fool
tice! Whose loot is this, if it is not ours? Where             enough to go swimming in the Ganges. Luckily
is the justice that I should give it up to those who           for me, my company sergeant, John Holder, was
have never earned it? Look how I have earned                   in the water at the same time, and he was one of
it! Twenty long years in that fever-ridden swamp,              the finest swimmers in the service. A crocodile
all day at work under the mangrove-tree, all night             took me, just as I was half-way across, and nipped
chained up in the filthy convict-huts, bitten by                off my right leg as clean as a surgeon could have
mosquitoes, racked with ague, bullied by every                 done it, just above the knee. What with the shock
cursed black-faced policeman who loved to take                 and the loss of blood, I fainted, and should have
it out of a white man. That was how I earned the               drowned if Holder had not caught hold of me and
Agra treasure; and you talk to me of justice be-               paddled for the bank. I was five months in hospital
cause I cannot bear to feel that I have paid this              over it, and when at last I was able to limp out of it
price only that another may enjoy it! I would                  with this timber toe strapped to my stump I found
rather swing a score of times, or have one of                  myself invalided out of the army and unfitted for
Tonga’s darts in my hide, than live in a convict’s             any active occupation.
cell and feel that another man is at his ease in a                 “I was, as you can imagine, pretty down on my
palace with the money that should be mine.” Small              luck at this time, for I was a useless cripple though
had dropped his mask of stoicism, and all this                 not yet in my twentieth year. However, my misfor-
came out in a wild whirl of words, while his eyes              tune soon proved to be a blessing in disguise. A
blazed, and the handcuffs clanked together with                man named Abelwhite, who had come out there as
the impassioned movement of his hands. I could                 an indigo-planter, wanted an overseer to look after
understand, as I saw the fury and the passion of               his coolies and keep them up to their work. He
the man, that it was no groundless or unnatural                happened to be a friend of our colonel’s, who had
terror which had possessed Major Sholto when he                taken an interest in me since the accident. To make
first learned that the injured convict was upon his             a long story short, the colonel recommended me
track.                                                         strongly for the post and, as the work was mostly
   “You forget that we know nothing of all this,”              to be done on horseback, my leg was no great ob-
said Holmes quietly. “We have not heard your                   stacle, for I had enough knee left to keep good grip
story, and we cannot tell how far justice may orig-            on the saddle. What I had to do was to ride over
inally have been on your side.”                                the plantation, to keep an eye on the men as they
    “Well, sir, you have been very fair-spoken to              worked, and to report the idlers. The pay was
me, though I can see that I have you to thank that             fair, I had comfortable quarters, and altogether I
I have these bracelets upon my wrists. Still, I bear           was content to spend the remainder of my life in
no grudge for that. It is all fair and above-board. If         indigo-planting. Mr. Abelwhite was a kind man,
you want to hear my story I have no wish to hold it            and he would often drop into my little shanty and
back. What I say to you is God’s truth, every word             smoke a pipe with me, for white folk out there feel
of it. Thank you; you can put the glass beside me              their hearts warm to each other as they never do
here, and I’ll put my lips to it if I am dry.                  here at home.
    “I am a Worcestershire man myself,—born near                    “Well, I was never in luck’s way long. Sud-
Pershore. I dare say you would find a heap of                   denly, without a note of warning, the great mutiny
Smalls living there now if you were to look. I have            broke upon us. One month India lay as still and
often thought of taking a look round there, but the            peaceful, to all appearance, as Surrey or Kent; the
truth is that I was never much of a credit to the              next there were two hundred thousand black dev-
family, and I doubt if they would be so very glad              ils let loose, and the country was a perfect hell. Of
to see me. They were all steady, chapel-going folk,            course you know all about it, gentlemen,—a deal
small farmers, well known and respected over the               more than I do, very like, since reading is not in

                                                         107
                                          The Sign of the Four

my line. I only know what I saw with my own                 wooden leg and all. We went out to meet the rebels
eyes. Our plantation was at a place called Muttra,          at Shahgunge early in July, and we beat them back
near the border of the Northwest Provinces. Night           for a time, but our powder gave out, and we had
after night the whole sky was alight with the burn-         to fall back upon the city. Nothing but the worst
ing bungalows, and day after day we had small               news came to us from every side,—which is not to
companies of Europeans passing through our es-              be wondered at, for if you look at the map you will
tate with their wives and children, on their way            see that we were right in the heart of it. Lucknow
to Agra, where were the nearest troops. Mr. Abel-           is rather better than a hundred miles to the east,
white was an obstinate man. He had it in his head           and Cawnpore about as far to the south. From ev-
that the affair had been exaggerated, and that it           ery point on the compass there was nothing but
would blow over as suddenly as it had sprung up.            torture and murder and outrage.
There he sat on his veranda, drinking whiskey-                  “The city of Agra is a great place, swarming
pegs and smoking cheroots, while the country was            with fanatics and fierce devil-worshippers of all
in a blaze about him. Of course we stuck by him,            sorts. Our handful of men were lost among the
I and Dawson, who, with his wife, used to do the            narrow, winding streets. Our leader moved across
book-work and the managing. Well, one fine day               the river, therefore, and took up his position in the
the crash came. I had been away on a distant plan-          old fort at Agra. I don’t know if any of you gentle-
tation, and was riding slowly home in the evening,          men have ever read or heard anything of that old
when my eye fell upon something all huddled to-             fort. It is a very queer place,—the queerest that
gether at the bottom of a steep nullah. I rode down         ever I was in, and I have been in some rum corners,
to see what it was, and the cold struck through my          too. First of all, it is enormous in size. I should
heart when I found it was Dawson’s wife, all cut            think that the enclosure must be acres and acres.
into ribbons, and half eaten by jackals and native          There is a modern part, which took all our garri-
dogs. A little further up the road Dawson him-              son, women, children, stores, and everything else,
self was lying on his face, quite dead, with an             with plenty of room over. But the modern part
empty revolver in his hand and four Sepoys lying            is nothing like the size of the old quarter, where
across each other in front of him. I reined up my           nobody goes, and which is given over to the scor-
horse, wondering which way I should turn, but at            pions and the centipedes. It is all full of great de-
that moment I saw thick smoke curling up from               serted halls, and winding passages, and long cor-
Abelwhite’s bungalow and the flames beginning                ridors twisting in and out, so that it is easy enough
to burst through the roof. I knew then that I could         for folk to get lost in it. For this reason it was sel-
do my employer no good, but would only throw                dom that any one went into it, though now and
my own life away if I meddled in the matter. From           again a party with torches might go exploring.
where I stood I could see hundreds of the black
                                                                “The river washes along the front of the old
fiends, with their red coats still on their backs,
                                                            fort, and so protects it, but on the sides and be-
dancing and howling round the burning house.
                                                            hind there are many doors, and these had to be
Some of them pointed at me, and a couple of bul-
                                                            guarded, of course, in the old quarter as well as in
lets sang past my head; so I broke away across the
                                                            that which was actually held by our troops. We
paddy-fields, and found myself late at night safe
                                                            were short-handed, with hardly men enough to
within the walls at Agra.
                                                            man the angles of the building and to serve the
    “As it proved, however, there was no great              guns. It was impossible for us, therefore, to sta-
safety there, either. The whole country was up              tion a strong guard at every one of the innumer-
like a swarm of bees. Wherever the English could            able gates. What we did was to organize a cen-
collect in little bands they held just the ground           tral guard-house in the middle of the fort, and
that their guns commanded. Everywhere else they             to leave each gate under the charge of one white
were helpless fugitives. It was a fight of the mil-          man and two or three natives. I was selected to
lions against the hundreds; and the cruellest part          take charge during certain hours of the night of
of it was that these men that we fought against,            a small isolated door upon the southwest side of
foot, horse, and gunners, were our own picked               the building. Two Sikh troopers were placed un-
troops, whom we had taught and trained, han-                der my command, and I was instructed if anything
dling our own weapons, and blowing our own                  went wrong to fire my musket, when I might rely
bugle-calls. At Agra there were the 3d Bengal               upon help coming at once from the central guard.
Fusiliers, some Sikhs, two troops of horse, and a           As the guard was a good two hundred paces away,
battery of artillery. A volunteer corps of clerks           however, and as the space between was cut up into
and merchants had been formed, and this I joined,           a labyrinth of passages and corridors, I had great

                                                      108
                                            The Sign of the Four

doubts as to whether they could arrive in time to              eyes. I waited, therefore, in silence, to see what it
be of any use in case of an actual attack.                     was that they wanted from me.
    “Well, I was pretty proud at having this small                 “ ‘Listen to me, Sahib,’ said the taller and fiercer
command given me, since I was a raw recruit, and               of the pair, the one whom they called Abdullah
a game-legged one at that. For two nights I kept               Khan. ‘You must either be with us now or you
the watch with my Punjaubees. They were tall,                  must be silenced forever. The thing is too great
fierce-looking chaps, Mahomet Singh and Abdul-                  a one for us to hesitate. Either you are heart and
lah Khan by name, both old fighting-men who had                 soul with us on your oath on the cross of the Chris-
borne arms against us at Chilian-wallah. They                  tians, or your body this night shall be thrown into
could talk English pretty well, but I could get little         the ditch and we shall pass over to our brothers in
out of them. They preferred to stand together and              the rebel army. There is no middle way. Which is
jabber all night in their queer Sikh lingo. For my-            it to be, death or life? We can only give you three
self, I used to stand outside the gate-way, looking            minutes to decide, for the time is passing, and all
down on the broad, winding river and on the twin-              must be done before the rounds come again.’
kling lights of the great city. The beating of drums,               “ ‘How can I decide?’ said I. ‘You have not told
the rattle of tomtoms, and the yells and howls of              me what you want of me. But I tell you know that
the rebels, drunk with opium and with bang, were               if it is anything against the safety of the fort I will
enough to remind us all night of our dangerous                 have no truck with it, so you can drive home your
neighbors across the stream. Every two hours the               knife and welcome.’
officer of the night used to come round to all the
posts, to make sure that all was well.                            “ ‘It is nothing against the fort,’ said he. ‘We
                                                               only ask you to do that which your countrymen
    “The third night of my watch was dark and                  come to this land for. We ask you to be rich. If you
dirty, with a small, driving rain. It was dreary               will be one of us this night, we will swear to you
work standing in the gate-way hour after hour in               upon the naked knife, and by the threefold oath
such weather. I tried again and again to make my               which no Sikh was ever known to break, that you
Sikhs talk, but without much success. At two in                shall have your fair share of the loot. A quarter of
the morning the rounds passed, and broke for a                 the treasure shall be yours. We can say no fairer.’
moment the weariness of the night. Finding that
                                                                  “ ‘But what is the treasure, then?’ I asked. ‘I
my companions would not be led into conversa-
                                                               am as ready to be rich as you can be, if you will
tion, I took out my pipe, and laid down my mus-
                                                               but show me how it can be done.’
ket to strike the match. In an instant the two Sikhs
were upon me. One of them snatched my firelock                      “ ‘You will swear, then,’ said he, ‘by the bones
up and levelled it at my head, while the other held            of your father, by the honor of your mother, by the
a great knife to my throat and swore between his               cross of your faith, to raise no hand and speak no
teeth that he would plunge it into me if I moved a             word against us, either now or afterwards?’
step.                                                              “ ‘I will swear it,’ I answered, ‘provided that the
     “My first thought was that these fellows were              fort is not endangered.’
in league with the rebels, and that this was the                  “ ‘Then my comrade and I will swear that you
beginning of an assault. If our door were in the               shall have a quarter of the treasure which shall be
hands of the Sepoys the place must fall, and the               equally divided among the four of us.’
women and children be treated as they were in
Cawnpore. Maybe you gentlemen think that I am                     “ ‘There are but three,’ said I.
just making out a case for myself, but I give you                  “ ‘No; Dost Akbar must have his share. We can
my word that when I thought of that, though I                  tell the tale to you while we await them. Do you
felt the point of the knife at my throat, I opened             stand at the gate, Mahomet Singh, and give no-
my mouth with the intention of giving a scream,                tice of their coming. The thing stands thus, Sahib,
if it was my last one, which might alarm the main              and I tell it to you because I know that an oath is
guard. The man who held me seemed to know                      binding upon a Feringhee, and that we may trust
my thoughts; for, even as I braced myself to it, he            you. Had you been a lying Hindoo, though you
whispered, ‘Don’t make a noise. The fort is safe               had sworn by all the gods in their false temples,
enough. There are no rebel dogs on this side of                your blood would have been upon the knife, and
the river.’ There was the ring of truth in what he             your body in the water. But the Sikh knows the
said, and I knew that if I raised my voice I was a             Englishman, and the Englishman knows the Sikh.
dead man. I could read it in the fellow’s brown                Hearken, then, to what I have to say.

                                                         109
                                             The Sign of the Four

     “ ‘There is a rajah in the northern provinces              and his jewels taken by the government, so that no
who has much wealth, though his lands are small.                man will be a rupee the better for them. Now, since
Much has come to him from his father, and more                  we do the taking of him, why should we not do the
still he has set by himself, for he is of a low nature          rest as well? The jewels will be as well with us as
and hoards his gold rather than spend it. When                  in the Company’s coffers. There will be enough
the troubles broke out he would be friends both                 to make every one of us rich men and great chiefs.
with the lion and the tiger,—with the Sepoy and                 No one can know about the matter, for here we are
with the Company’s raj. Soon, however, it seemed                cut off from all men. What could be better for the
to him that the white men’s day was come, for                   purpose? Say again, then, Sahib, whether you are
through all the land he could hear of nothing but               with us, or if we must look upon you as an enemy.’
of their death and their overthrow. Yet, being a                    “ ‘I am with you heart and soul,’ said I.
careful man, he made such plans that, come what                     “ ‘It is well,’ he answered, handing me back my
might, half at least of his treasure should be left to          firelock. ‘You see that we trust you, for your word,
him. That which was in gold and silver he kept by               like ours, is not to be broken. We have now only
him in the vaults of his palace, but the most pre-              to wait for my brother and the merchant.’
cious stones and the choicest pearls that he had he                 “ ‘Does your brother know, then, of what you
put in an iron box, and sent it by a trusty servant             will do?’ I asked.
who, under the guise of a merchant, should take it
                                                                    “ ‘The plan is his. He has devised it. We will
to the fort at Agra, there to lie until the land is at
                                                                go to the gate and share the watch with Mahomet
peace. Thus, if the rebels won he would have his
                                                                Singh.’
money, but if the Company conquered his jewels
would be saved to him. Having thus divided his                      “The rain was still falling steadily, for it was
hoard, he threw himself into the cause of the Se-               just the beginning of the wet season. Brown, heavy
poys, since they were strong upon his borders. By               clouds were drifting across the sky, and it was hard
doing this, mark you, Sahib, his property becomes               to see more than a stone-cast. A deep moat lay
the due of those who have been true to their salt.              in front of our door, but the water was in places
                                                                nearly dried up, and it could easily be crossed. It
     “ ‘This pretended merchant, who travels under
                                                                was strange to me to be standing there with those
the name of Achmet, is now in the city of Agra,
                                                                two wild Punjaubees waiting for the man who was
and desires to gain his way into the fort. He
                                                                coming to his death.
has with him as travelling-companion my foster-
brother Dost Akbar, who knows his secret. Dost                      “Suddenly my eye caught the glint of a shaded
Akbar has promised this night to lead him to a                  lantern at the other side of the moat. It van-
side-postern of the fort, and has chosen this one for           ished among the mound-heaps, and then appeared
his purpose. Here he will come presently, and here              again coming slowly in our direction.
he will find Mahomet Singh and myself awaiting                       “ ‘Here they are!’ I exclaimed.
him. The place is lonely, and none shall know of                    “ ‘You will challenge him, Sahib, as usual,’
his coming. The world shall know of the merchant                whispered Abdullah. ‘Give him no cause for fear.
Achmet no more, but the great treasure of the ra-               Send us in with him, and we shall do the rest while
jah shall be divided among us. What say you to it,              you stay here on guard. Have the lantern ready to
Sahib?’                                                         uncover, that we may be sure that it is indeed the
     “In Worcestershire the life of a man seems a               man.’
great and a sacred thing; but it is very different                  “The light had flickered onwards, now stop-
when there is fire and blood all round you and                   ping and now advancing, until I could see two
you have been used to meeting death at every turn.              dark figures upon the other side of the moat. I
Whether Achmet the merchant lived or died was                   let them scramble down the sloping bank, splash
a thing as light as air to me, but at the talk about            through the mire, and climb half-way up to the
the treasure my heart turned to it, and I thought               gate, before I challenged them.
of what I might do in the old country with it,                      “ ‘Who goes there?’ said I, in a subdued voice.
and how my folk would stare when they saw their                     “ ‘Friends,’ came the answer. I uncovered my
ne’er-do-well coming back with his pockets full of              lantern and threw a flood of light upon them. The
gold moidores. I had, therefore, already made up                first was an enormous Sikh, with a black beard
my mind. Abdullah Khan, however, thinking that                  which swept nearly down to his cummerbund.
I hesitated, pressed the matter more closely.                   Outside of a show I have never seen so tall a man.
     “ ‘Consider, Sahib,’ said he, ‘that if this man is         The other was a little, fat, round fellow, with a
taken by the commandant he will be hung or shot,                great yellow turban, and a bundle in his hand,

                                                          110
                                          The Sign of the Four

done up in a shawl. He seemed to be all in a quiver          buried his knife twice in his side. The man never
with fear, for his hands twitched as if he had the           uttered moan nor moved muscle, but lay were he
ague, and his head kept turning to left and right            had fallen. I think myself that he may have broken
with two bright little twinkling eyes, like a mouse          his neck with the fall. You see, gentlemen, that I
when he ventures out from his hole. It gave me the           am keeping my promise. I am telling you every
chills to think of killing him, but I thought of the         work of the business just exactly as it happened,
treasure, and my heart set as hard as a flint within          whether it is in my favor or not.”
me. When he saw my white face he gave a little                   He stopped, and held out his manacled hands
chirrup of joy and came running up towards me.               for the whiskey-and-water which Holmes had
    “ ‘Your protection, Sahib,’ he panted,—‘your             brewed for him. For myself, I confess that I had
protection for the unhappy merchant Achmet. I                now conceived the utmost horror of the man, not
have travelled across Rajpootana that I might seek           only for this cold-blooded business in which he
the shelter of the fort at Agra. I have been robbed          had been concerned, but even more for the some-
and beaten and abused because I have been the                what flippant and careless way in which he nar-
friend of the Company. It is a blessed night this            rated it. Whatever punishment was in store for
when I am once more in safety,—I and my poor                 him, I felt that he might expect no sympathy from
possessions.’                                                me. Sherlock Holmes and Jones sat with their
   “ ‘What have you in the bundle?’ I asked.                 hands upon their knees, deeply interested in the
                                                             story, but with the same disgust written upon their
   “ ‘An iron box,’ he answered, ‘which contains
                                                             faces. He may have observed it, for there was a
one or two little family matters which are of no
                                                             touch of defiance in his voice and manner as he
value to others, but which I should be sorry to
                                                             proceeded.
lose. Yet I am not a beggar; and I shall reward
you, young Sahib, and your governor also, if he                  “It was all very bad, no doubt,” said he. “I
will give me the shelter I ask.’                             should like to know how many fellows in my
   “I could not trust myself to speak longer with            shoes would have refused a share of this loot when
the man. The more I looked at his fat, frightened            they knew that they would have their throats cut
face, the harder did it seem that we should slay             for their pains. Besides, it was my life or his when
him in cold blood. It was best to get it over.               once he was in the fort. If he had got out, the
                                                             whole business would come to light, and I should
   “ ‘Take him to the main guard,’ said I. The two           have been court-martialled and shot as likely as
Sikhs closed in upon him on each side, and the gi-           not; for people were not very lenient at a time like
ant walked behind, while they marched in through             that.”
the dark gate-way. Never was a man so compassed
round with death. I remained at the gate-way with               “Go on with your story,” said Holmes, shortly.
the lantern.                                                     “Well, we carried him in, Abdullah, Akbar, and
    “I could hear the measured tramp of their foot-          I. A fine weight he was, too, for all that he was so
steps sounding through the lonely corridors. Sud-            short. Mahomet Singh was left to guard the door.
denly it ceased, and I heard voices, and a scuffle,           We took him to a place which the Sikhs had al-
with the sound of blows. A moment later there                ready prepared. It was some distance off, where a
came, to my horror, a rush of footsteps coming in            winding passage leads to a great empty hall, the
my direction, with the loud breathing of a running           brick walls of which were all crumbling to pieces.
man. I turned my lantern down the long, straight             The earth floor had sunk in at one place, making
passage, and there was the fat man, running like             a natural grave, so we left Achmet the merchant
the wind, with a smear of blood across his face,             there, having first covered him over with loose
and close at his heels, bounding like a tiger, the           bricks. This done, we all went back to the treasure.
great black-bearded Sikh, with a knife flashing in                “It lay where he had dropped it when he was
his hand. I have never seen a man run so fast as             first attacked. The box was the same which now
that little merchant. He was gaining on the Sikh,            lies open upon your table. A key was hung by
and I could see that if he once passed me and got            a silken cord to that carved handle upon the top.
to the open air he would save himself yet. My                We opened it, and the light of the lantern gleamed
heart softened to him, but again the thought of              upon a collection of gems such as I have read of
his treasure turned me hard and bitter. I cast my            and thought about when I was a little lad at Per-
firelock between his legs as he raced past, and he            shore. It was blinding to look upon them. When
rolled twice over like a shot rabbit. Ere he could           we had feasted our eyes we took them all out and
stagger to his feet the Sikh was upon him, and               made a list of them. There were one hundred and

                                                       111
                                          The Sign of the Four

forty-three diamonds of the first water, including            are suspicious folk in the East, however: so what
one which has been called, I believe, ‘the Great             does this rajah do but take a second even more
Mogul’ and is said to be the second largest stone            trusty servant and set him to play the spy upon
in existence. Then there were ninety-seven very              the first? This second man was ordered never to
fine emeralds, and one hundred and seventy ru-                let Achmet out of his sight, and he followed him
bies, some of which, however, were small. There              like his shadow. He went after him that night and
were forty carbuncles, two hundred and ten sap-              saw him pass through the doorway. Of course
phires, sixty-one agates, and a great quantity of            he thought he had taken refuge in the fort, and
beryls, onyxes, cats’-eyes, turquoises, and other            applied for admission there himself next day, but
stones, the very names of which I did not know               could find no trace of Achmet. This seemed to him
at the time, though I have become more familiar              so strange that he spoke about it to a sergeant of
with them since. Besides this, there were nearly             guides, who brought it to the ears of the comman-
three hundred very fine pearls, twelve of which               dant. A thorough search was quickly made, and
were set in a gold coronet. By the way, these last           the body was discovered. Thus at the very mo-
had been taken out of the chest and were not there           ment that we thought that all was safe we were
when I recovered it.                                         all four seized and brought to trial on a charge of
                                                             murder,—three of us because we had held the gate
    “After we had counted our treasures we put
                                                             that night, and the fourth because he was known
them back into the chest and carried them to the
                                                             to have been in the company of the murdered man.
gate-way to show them to Mahomet Singh. Then
                                                             Not a word about the jewels came out at the trial,
we solemnly renewed our oath to stand by each
                                                             for the rajah had been deposed and driven out
other and be true to our secret. We agreed to
                                                             of India: so no one had any particular interest in
conceal our loot in a safe place until the country
                                                             them. The murder, however, was clearly made out,
should be at peace again, and then to divide it
                                                             and it was certain that we must all have been con-
equally among ourselves. There was no use di-
                                                             cerned in it. The three Sikhs got penal servitude
viding it at present, for if gems of such value were
                                                             for life, and I was condemned to death, though my
found upon us it would cause suspicion, and there
                                                             sentence was afterwards commuted into the same
was no privacy in the fort nor any place where
                                                             as the others.
we could keep them. We carried the box, there-
fore, into the same hall where we had buried the                 “It was rather a queer position that we found
body, and there, under certain bricks in the best-           ourselves in then. There we were all four tied by
preserved wall, we made a hollow and put our                 the leg and with precious little chance of ever get-
treasure. We made careful note of the place, and             ting out again, while we each held a secret which
next day I drew four plans, one for each of us, and          might have put each of us in a palace if we could
put the sign of the four of us at the bottom, for we         only have made use of it. It was enough to make
had sworn that we should each always act for all,            a man eat his heart out to have to stand the kick
so that none might take advantage. That is an oath           and the cuff of every petty jack-in-office, to have
that I can put my hand to my heart and swear that            rice to eat and water to drink, when that gorgeous
I have never broken.                                         fortune was ready for him outside, just waiting to
                                                             be picked up. It might have driven me mad; but I
    “Well, there’s no use my telling you gentle-             was always a pretty stubborn one, so I just held on
men what came of the Indian mutiny. After Wil-               and bided my time.
son took Delhi and Sir Colin relieved Lucknow the
                                                                “At last it seemed to me to have come. I was
back of the business was broken. Fresh troops
                                                             changed from Agra to Madras, and from there to
came pouring in, and Nana Sahib made himself
                                                             Blair Island in the Andamans. There are very few
scarce over the frontier. A flying column under
                                                             white convicts at this settlement, and, as I had be-
Colonel Greathed came round to Agra and cleared
                                                             haved well from the first, I soon found myself a
the Pandies away from it. Peace seemed to be set-
                                                             sort of privileged person. I was given a hut in
tling upon the country, and we four were begin-
                                                             Hope Town, which is a small place on the slopes
ning to hope that the time was at hand when we
                                                             of Mount Harriet, and I was left pretty much to
might safely go off with our shares of the plunder.
                                                             myself. It is a dreary, fever-stricken place, and all
In a moment, however, our hopes were shattered
                                                             beyond our little clearings was infested with wild
by our being arrested as the murderers of Achmet.
                                                             cannibal natives, who were ready enough to blow
    “It came about in this way. When the rajah put           a poisoned dart at us if they saw a chance. There
his jewels into the hands of Achmet he did it be-            was digging, and ditching, and yam-planting, and
cause he knew that he was a trusty man. They                 a dozen other things to be done, so we were busy

                                                       112
                                          The Sign of the Four

enough all day; though in the evening we had a                   “ ‘Nonsense, old chap!’ said the other, slapping
little time to ourselves. Among other things, I              him upon the shoulder. ‘I’ve had a nasty facer my-
learned to dispense drugs for the surgeon, and               self, but—’ That was all I could hear, but it was
picked up a smattering of his knowledge. All the             enough to set me thinking.
time I was on the lookout for a chance of escape;                A couple of days later Major Sholto was
but it is hundreds of miles from any other land,             strolling on the beach: so I took the chance of
and there is little or no wind in those seas: so it          speaking to him.
was a terribly difficult job to get away.
                                                                “ ‘I wish to have your advice, major,’ said I.
    “The surgeon, Dr. Somerton, was a fast, sport-              “ ‘Well, Small, what is it?’ he asked, taking his
ing young chap, and the other young officers                  cheroot from his lips.
would meet in his rooms of an evening and play
cards. The surgery, where I used to make up my                   “ ‘I wanted to ask you, sir,’ said I, ‘who is the
drugs, was next to his sitting-room, with a small            proper person to whom hidden treasure should be
window between us. Often, if I felt lonesome,                handed over. I know where half a million worth
I used to turn out the lamp in the surgery, and              lies, and, as I cannot use it myself, I thought per-
then, standing there, I could hear their talk and            haps the best thing that I could do would be to
watch their play. I am fond of a hand at cards               hand it over to the proper authorities, and then
myself, and it was almost as good as having one              perhaps they would get my sentence shortened for
to watch the others. There was Major Sholto, Cap-            me.’
tain Morstan, and Lieutenant Bromley Brown, who                 “ ‘Half a million, Small?’ he gasped, looking
were in command of the native troops, and there              hard at me to see if I was in earnest.
was the surgeon himself, and two or three prison-
                                                                 “ ‘Quite that, sir,—in jewels and pearls. It lies
officials, crafty old hands who played a nice sly
                                                             there ready for anyone. And the queer thing about
safe game. A very snug little party they used to
                                                             it is that the real owner is outlawed and cannot
make.
                                                             hold property, so that it belongs to the first comer.’
    “Well, there was one thing which very soon                  “ ‘To government, Small,’ he stammered,—‘to
struck me, and that was that the soldiers used al-           government.’ But he said it in a halting fashion,
ways to lose and the civilians to win. Mind, I don’t         and I knew in my heart that I had got him.
say that there was anything unfair, but so it was.
                                                                 “ ‘You think, then, sir, that I should give the
These prison-chaps had done little else than play
                                                             information to the Governor-General?’ said I, qui-
cards ever since they had been at the Andamans,
                                                             etly.
and they knew each other’s game to a point, while
the others just played to pass the time and threw                “ ‘Well, well, you must not do anything rash,
their cards down anyhow. Night after night the               or that you might repent. Let me hear all about it,
soldiers got up poorer men, and the poorer they              Small. Give me the facts.’
got the more keen they were to play. Major Sholto               “I told him the whole story, with small changes
was the hardest hit. He used to pay in notes and             so that he could not identify the places. When
gold at first, but soon it came to notes of hand              I had finished he stood stock still and full of
and for big sums. He sometimes would win for a               thought. I could see by the twitch of his lip that
few deals, just to give him heart, and then the luck         there was a struggle going on within him.
would set in against him worse than ever. All day
                                                                “ ‘This is a very important matter, Small,’ he
he would wander about as black as thunder, and
                                                             said, at last. ‘You must not say a word to any one
he took to drinking a deal more than was good for
                                                             about it, and I shall see you again soon.’
him.
                                                                “Two nights later he and his friend Captain
    “One night he lost even more heavily than                Morstan came to my hut in the dead of the night
usual. I was sitting in my hut when he and Cap-              with a lantern.
tain Morstan came stumbling along on the way to
their quarters. They were bosom friends, those                  “ ‘I want you just to let Captain Morstan hear
two, and never far apart. The major was raving               that story from your own lips, Small,’ said he.
about his losses.                                               “I repeated it as I had told it before.

   “ ‘It’s all up, Morstan,’ he was saying, as they              “ ‘It rings true, eh?’ said he. ‘It’s good enough
passed my hut. ‘I shall have to send in my papers.           to act upon?’
I am a ruined man.’                                             “Captain Morstan nodded.

                                                       113
                                            The Sign of the Four

    “ ‘Look here, Small,’ said the major. ‘We have                “ ‘Nonsense!’ he broke in. ‘What have three
been talking it over, my friend here and I, and                black fellows to do with our agreement?’
we have come to the conclusion that this secret of                “ ‘Black or blue,’ said I, ‘they are in with me,
yours is hardly a government matter, after all, but            and we all go together.’
is a private concern of your own, which of course
you have the power of disposing of as you think                    “Well, the matter ended by a second meeting,
best. Now, the question is, what price would you               at which Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, and
ask for it? We might be inclined to take it up, and            Dost Akbar were all present. We talked the matter
at least look into it, if we could agree as to terms.’         over again, and at last we came to an arrangement.
He tried to speak in a cool, careless way, but his             We were to provide both the officers with charts of
eyes were shining with excitement and greed.                   the part of the Agra fort and mark the place in the
                                                               wall where the treasure was hid. Major Sholto was
   “ ‘Why, as to that, gentlemen,’ I answered, try-
                                                               to go to India to test our story. If he found the box
ing also to be cool, but feeling as excited as he
                                                               he was to leave it there, to send out a small yacht
did, ‘there is only one bargain which a man in my
                                                               provisioned for a voyage, which was to lie off Rut-
position can make. I shall want yo to help me to
                                                               land Island, and to which we were to make our
my freedom, and to help my three companions to
                                                               way, and finally to return to his duties. Captain
theirs. We shall then take yo into partnership, and
                                                               Morstan was then to apply for leave of absence, to
give you a fifth share to divide between you.’
                                                               meet us at Agra, and there we were to have a fi-
   “ ‘Hum!’ said he. ‘A fifth share! That is not                nal division of the treasure, he taking the major’s
very tempting.’                                                share as well as his own. All this we sealed by the
     “ ‘It would come to fifty thousand apiece,’ said           most solemn oaths that the mind could think or
I.                                                             the lips utter. I sat up all night with paper and ink,
                                                               and by the morning I had the two charts all ready,
   “ ‘But how can we gain your freedom? You
                                                               signed with the sign of four,—that is, of Abdullah,
know very well that you ask an impossibility.’
                                                               Akbar, Mahomet, and myself.
    “ ‘Nothing of the sort,’ I answered. ‘I have
                                                                   “Well, gentlemen, I weary you with my long
thought it all out to the last detail. The only bar
                                                               story, and I know that my friend Mr. Jones is im-
to our escape is that we can get no boat fit for the
                                                               patient to get me safely stowed in chokey. I’ll
voyage, and no provisions to last us for so long a
                                                               make it as short as I can. The villain Sholto
time. There are plenty of little yachts and yawls
                                                               went off to India, but he never came back again.
at Calcutta or Madras which would serve our turn
                                                               Captain Morstan showed me his name among a
well. Do you bring one over. We shall engage to
                                                               list of passengers in one of the mail-boats very
get aboard her by night, and if you will drop us
                                                               shortly afterwards. His uncle had died, leaving
on any part of the Indian coast you will have done
                                                               him a fortune, and he had left the army, yet he
your part of the bargain.’
                                                               could stoop to treat five men as he had treated
     “ ‘If there were only one,’ he said.                      us. Morstan went over to Agra shortly afterwards,
   “ ‘None or all,’ I answered. ‘We have sworn it.             and found, as we expected, that the treasure was
The four of us must always act together.’                      indeed gone. The scoundrel had stolen it all, with-
                                                               out carrying out one of the conditions on which
    “ ‘You see, Morstan,’ said he, ‘Small is a man
                                                               we had sold him the secret. From that day I lived
of his word. He does not flinch from his friend. I
                                                               only for vengeance. I thought of it by day and
think we may very well trust him.’
                                                               I nursed it by night. It became an overpower-
    “ ‘It’s a dirty business,’ the other answered.             ing, absorbing passion with me. I cared nothing
‘Yet, as you say, the money would save our com-                for the law,—nothing for the gallows. To escape,
missions handsomely.’                                          to track down Sholto, to have my hand upon his
    “ ‘Well, Small,’ said the major, ‘we must, I sup-          throat,—that was my one thought. Even the Agra
pose, try and meet you. We must first, of course,               treasure had come to be a smaller thing in my
test the truth of your story. Tell me where the box            mind than the slaying of Sholto.
is hid, and I shall get leave of absence and go back               “Well, I have set my mind on many things in
to India in the monthly relief-boat to inquire into            this life, and never one which I did not carry out.
the affair.’                                                   But it was weary years before my time came. I
   “ ‘Not so fast,’ said I, growing colder as he got           have told you that I had picked up something of
hot. ‘I must have the consent of my three com-                 medicine. One day when Dr. Somerton was down
rades. I tell you that it is four or none with us.’            with a fever a little Andaman Islander was picked

                                                         114
                                          The Sign of the Four

up by a convict-gang in the woods. He was sick               not thank me, for I would have you here until the
to death, and had gone to a lonely place to die.             sun was shining. Here and there we drifted about
I took him in hand, though he was as venomous                the world, something always turning up to keep
as a young snake, and after a couple of months I             us from London. All the time, however, I never
got him all right and able to walk. He took a kind           lost sight of my purpose. I would dream of Sholto
of fancy to me then, and would hardly go back to             at night. A hundred times I have killed him in my
his woods, but was always hanging about my hut.              sleep. At last, however, some three or four years
I learned a little of his lingo from him, and this           ago, we found ourselves in England. I had no great
made him all the fonder of me.                               difficulty in finding where Sholto lived, and I set
    “Tonga—for that was his name—was a fine                   to work to discover whether he had realized the
boatman, and owned a big, roomy canoe of his                 treasure, or if he still had it. I made friends with
own. When I found that he was devoted to me and              someone who could help me,—I name no names,
would do anything to serve me, I saw my chance               for I don’t want to get any one else in a hole,—and
of escape. I talked it over with him. He was to              I soon found that he still had the jewels. Then I
bring his boat round on a certain night to an old            tried to get at him in many ways; but he was pretty
wharf which was never guarded, and there he was              sly, and had always two prize-fighters, besides his
to pick me up. I gave him directions to have sev-            sons and his khitmutgar, on guard over him.
eral gourds of water and a lot of yams, cocoa-nuts,              “One day, however, I got word that he was dy-
and sweet potatoes.                                          ing. I hurried at once to the garden, mad that
    “He was stanch and true, was little Tonga. No            he should slip out of my clutches like that, and,
man ever had a more faithful mate. At the night              looking through the window, I saw him lying in
named he had his boat at the wharf. As it chanced,           his bed, with his sons on each side of him. I’d
however, there was one of the convict-guard down             have come through and taken my chance with the
there,—a vile Pathan who had never missed a                  three of them, only even as I looked at him his jaw
chance of insulting and injuring me. I had always            dropped, and I knew that he was gone. I got into
vowed vengeance, and now I had my chance. It                 his room that same night, though, and I searched
was as if fate had placed him in my way that I               his papers to see if there was any record of where
might pay my debt before I left the island. He               he had hidden our jewels. There was not a line,
stood on the bank with his back to me, and his car-          however: so I came away, bitter and savage as a
bine on his shoulder. I looked about for a stone to          man could be. Before I left I bethought me that
beat out his brains with, but none could I see. Then         if I ever met my Sikh friends again it would be a
a queer thought came into my head and showed                 satisfaction to know that I had left some mark of
me where I could lay my hand on a weapon. I sat              our hatred: so I scrawled down the sign of the four
down in the darkness and unstrapped my wooden                of us, as it had been on the chart, and I pinned it
leg. With three long hops I was on him. He put               on his bosom. It was too much that he should be
his carbine to his shoulder, but I struck him full,          taken to the grave without some token from the
and knocked the whole front of his skull in. You             men whom he had robbed and befooled.
can see the split in the wood now where I hit him.              “We earned a living at this time by my exhibit-
We both went down together, for I could not keep             ing poor Tonga at fairs and other such places as
my balance, but when I got up I found him still              the black cannibal. He would eat raw meat and
lying quiet enough. I made for the boat, and in an           dance his war-dance: so we always had a hatful
hour we were well out at sea. Tonga had brought              of pennies after a day’s work. I still heard all the
all his earthly possessions with him, his arms and           news from Pondicherry Lodge, and for some years
his gods. Among other things, he had a long bam-             there was no news to hear, except that they were
boo spear, and some Andaman cocoa-nut matting,               hunting for the treasure. At last, however, came
with which I make a sort of sail. For ten days               what we had waited for so long. The treasure had
we were beating about, trusting to luck, and on              been found. It was up at the top of the house, in
the eleventh we were picked up by a trader which             Mr. Bartholomew Sholto’s chemical laboratory. I
was going from Singapore to Jiddah with a cargo              came at once and had a look at the place, but I
of Malay pilgrims. They were a rum crowd, and                could not see how with my wooden leg I was to
Tonga and I soon managed to settle down among                make my way up to it. I learned, however, about a
them. They had one very good quality: they let               trap-door in the roof, and also about Mr. Sholto’s
you alone and asked no questions.                            supper-hour. It seemed to me that I could manage
    “Well, if I were to tell you all the adventures          the thing easily through Tonga. I brought him out
that my little chum and I went through, you would            with me with a long rope wound round his waist.

                                                       115
                                              The Sign of the Four

He could climb like a cat, and he soon made his                      “Good-night, gentlemen both,” said Jonathan
way through the roof, but, as ill luck would have                Small.
it, Bartholomew Sholto was still in the room, to                     “You first, Small,” remarked the wary Jones as
his cost. Tonga thought he had done something                    they left the room. “I’ll take particular care that
very clever in killing him, for when I came up by                you don’t club me with your wooden leg, what-
the rope I found him strutting about as proud as                 ever you may have done to the gentleman at the
a peacock. Very much surprised was he when I                     Andaman Isles.”
made at him with the rope’s end and cursed him                       “Well, and there is the end of our little drama,”
for a little blood-thirsty imp. I took the treasure-             I remarked, after we had set some time smoking in
box and let it down, and then slid down myself,                  silence. “I fear that it may be the last investigation
having first left the sign of the four upon the ta-               in which I shall have the chance of studying your
ble, to show that the jewels had come back at last               methods. Miss Morstan has done me the honor to
to those who had most right to them. Tonga then                  accept me as a husband in prospective.”
pulled up the rope, closed the window, and made                      He gave a most dismal groan. “I feared as
off the way that he had come.                                    much,” said he. “I really cannot congratulate you.”
    “I don’t know that I have anything else to tell                  I was a little hurt. “Have you any reason to be
you. I had heard a waterman speak of the speed of                dissatisfied with my choice?” I asked.
Smith’s launch, the Aurora, so I thought she would                   “Not at all. I think she is one of the most
be a handy craft for our escape. I engaged with                  charming young ladies I ever met, and might have
old Smith, and was to give him a big sum if he                   been most useful in such work as we have been do-
got us safe to our ship. He knew, no doubt, that                 ing. She had a decided genius that way: witness
there was some screw loose, but he was not in our                the way in which she preserved that Agra plan
secrets. All this is the truth, and if I tell it to you,         from all the other papers of her father. But love
gentlemen, it is not to amuse you,—for you have                  is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional
not done me a very good turn,—but it is because I                is opposed to that true cold reason which I place
believe the best defence I can make is just to hold              above all things. I should never marry myself, lest
back nothing, but let all the wold know how badly                I bias my judgment.”
I have myself been served by Major Sholto, and
                                                                     “I trust,” said I, laughing, “that my judgment
how innocent I am of the death of his son.”
                                                                 may survive the ordeal. But you look weary.”
    “A very remarkable account,” said Sherlock
                                                                     “Yes, the reaction is already upon me. I shall
Holmes. “A fitting wind-up to an extremely in-
                                                                 be as limp as a rag for a week.”
teresting case. There is nothing at all new to me
                                                                     “Strange,” said I, “how terms of what in an-
in the latter part of your narrative, except that you
                                                                 other man I should call laziness alternate with
brought your own rope. That I did not know. By
                                                                 your fits of splendid energy and vigor.”
the way, I had hoped that Tonga had lost all his
darts; yet he managed to shoot one at us in the                      “Yes,” he answered, “there are in me the mak-
boat.”                                                           ings of a very fine loafer and also of a pretty spry
                                                                 sort of fellow. I often think of those lines of old
    “He had lost them all, sir, except the one which
                                                                 Goethe,—
was in his blow-pipe at the time.”
                                                                                Schade, daß die Natur nur
    “Ah, of course,” said Holmes. “I had not
                                                                               einen Mensch aus Dir schuf,
thought of that.”
                                                                             Denn zum wurdigen Mann war
                                                                                          ¨
    “Is there any other point which you would like
                                                                               und zum Schelmen der Stoff.
to ask about?” asked the convict, affably.
                                                                     “By the way, a propos of this Norwood busi-
    “I think not, thank you,” my companion an-
                                                                 ness, you see that they had, as I surmised, a con-
swered.
                                                                 federate in the house, who could be none other
    “Well, Holmes,” said Athelney Jones, “You are                than Lal Rao, the butler: so Jones actually has the
a man to be humored, and we all know that you                    undivided honor of having caught one fish in his
are a connoisseur of crime, but duty is duty, and I              great haul.”
have gone rather far in doing what you and your
                                                                     “The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked.
friend asked me. I shall feel more at ease when
                                                                 “You have done all the work in this business. I get
we have our story-teller here safe under lock and
                                                                 a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what
key. The cab still waits, and there are two inspec-
                                                                 remains for you?”
tors down-stairs. I am much obliged to you both
                                                                     “For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still
for your assistance. Of course you will be wanted
                                                                 remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his
at the trial. Good-night to you.”
                                                                 long white hand up for it.

                                                           116
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
A Scandal in Bohemia
                                                A Scandal in Bohemia




                                               Table of contents
Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   123
Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   127
Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   132




                                                                    121
                                         A Scandal in Bohemia




T
                                            CHAPTER I.
           o Sherlock Holmes she is always the               1888—I was returning from a journey to a patient
           woman. I have seldom heard him men-               (for I had now returned to civil practice), when my
           tion her under any other name. In his             way led me through Baker Street. As I passed the
           eyes she eclipses and predominates the            well-remembered door, which must always be as-
whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emo-           sociated in my mind with my wooing, and with
tion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and         the dark incidents of the Study in Scarlet, I was
that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold,           seized with a keen desire to see Holmes again, and
precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I               to know how he was employing his extraordinary
take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing            powers. His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as
machine that the world has seen, but as a lover              I looked up, I saw his tall, spare figure pass twice
he would have placed himself in a false position.            in a dark silhouette against the blind. He was pac-
He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a           ing the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head sunk
gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for             upon his chest and his hands clasped behind him.
the observer—excellent for drawing the veil from             To me, who knew his every mood and habit, his at-
men’s motives and actions. But for the trained rea-          titude and manner told their own story. He was at
soner to admit such intrusions into his own del-             work again. He had risen out of his drug-created
icate and finely adjusted temperament was to in-              dreams and was hot upon the scent of some new
troduce a distracting factor which might throw a             problem. I rang the bell and was shown up to the
doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensi-          chamber which had formerly been in part my own.
tive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-             His manner was not effusive. It seldom was;
power lenses, would not be more disturbing than              but he was glad, I think, to see me. With hardly
a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet            a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved
there was but one woman to him, and that woman               me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars,
was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and question-           and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the
able memory.                                                 corner. Then he stood before the fire and looked
    I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage          me over in his singular introspective fashion.
had drifted us away from each other. My own                     “Wedlock suits you,” he remarked. “I think,
complete happiness, and the home-centred inter-              Watson, that you have put on seven and a half
ests which rise up around the man who first finds              pounds since I saw you.”
himself master of his own establishment, were suf-
                                                                “Seven!” I answered.
ficient to absorb all my attention, while Holmes,
who loathed every form of society with his whole                 “Indeed, I should have thought a little more.
Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker             Just a trifle more, I fancy, Watson. And in prac-
Street, buried among his old books, and alternat-            tice again, I observe. You did not tell me that you
ing from week to week between cocaine and am-                intended to go into harness.”
bition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce               “Then, how do you know?”
energy of his own keen nature. He was still, as
                                                                “I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you
ever, deeply attracted by the study of crime, and
                                                             have been getting yourself very wet lately, and that
occupied his immense faculties and extraordinary
                                                             you have a most clumsy and careless servant girl?”
powers of observation in following out those clues,
and clearing up those mysteries which had been                   “My dear Holmes,” said I, “this is too much.
abandoned as hopeless by the official police. From            You would certainly have been burned, had you
time to time I heard some vague account of his               lived a few centuries ago. It is true that I had a
doings: of his summons to Odessa in the case of              country walk on Thursday and came home in a
the Trepoff murder, of his clearing up of the sin-           dreadful mess, but as I have changed my clothes I
gular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trinco-            can’t imagine how you deduce it. As to Mary Jane,
malee, and finally of the mission which he had ac-            she is incorrigible, and my wife has given her no-
complished so delicately and successfully for the            tice, but there, again, I fail to see how you work it
reigning family of Holland. Beyond these signs of            out.”
his activity, however, which I merely shared with               He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long,
all the readers of the daily press, I knew little of         nervous hands together.
my former friend and companion.                                “It is simplicity itself,” said he; “my eyes tell
   One night—it was on the twentieth of March,               me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where

                                                       123
                                          A Scandal in Bohemia

the firelight strikes it, the leather is scored by             exaggerated. This account of you we have from all
six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have                 quarters received. Be in your chamber then at that
been caused by someone who has very carelessly                hour, and do not take it amiss if your visitor wear
scraped round the edges of the sole in order to re-           a mask.”
move crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my                      “This is indeed a mystery,” I remarked. “What
double deduction that you had been out in vile                do you imagine that it means?”
weather, and that you had a particularly malignant
                                                                  “I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to
boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey. As to
                                                              theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins
your practice, if a gentleman walks into my rooms
                                                              to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to
smelling of iodoform, with a black mark of nitrate
                                                              suit facts. But the note itself. What do you deduce
of silver upon his right forefinger, and a bulge on
                                                              from it?”
the right side of his top-hat to show where he has
secreted his stethoscope, I must be dull, indeed, if              I carefully examined the writing, and the paper
I do not pronounce him to be an active member of              upon which it was written.
the medical profession.”                                          “The man who wrote it was presumably well
   I could not help laughing at the ease with                 to do,” I remarked, endeavouring to imitate my
which he explained his process of deduction.                  companion’s processes. “Such paper could not be
“When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked,              bought under half a crown a packet. It is pecu-
“the thing always appears to me to be so ridicu-              liarly strong and stiff.”
lously simple that I could easily do it myself,                   “Peculiar—that is the very word,” said Holmes.
though at each successive instance of your rea-               “It is not an English paper at all. Hold it up to the
soning I am baffled until you explain your pro-                light.”
cess. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as               I did so, and saw a large “E” with a small “g,”
yours.”                                                       a “P,” and a large “G” with a small “t” woven into
    “Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette,            the texture of the paper.
and throwing himself down into an armchair.                       “What do you make of that?” asked Holmes.
“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction                 “The name of the maker, no doubt; or his
is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the           monogram, rather.”
steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”
                                                                  “Not at all. The ‘G’ with the small ‘t’ stands
   “Frequently.”                                              for ‘Gesellschaft,’ which is the German for ‘Com-
   “How often?”                                               pany.’ It is a customary contraction like our ‘Co.’
   “Well, some hundreds of times.”                            ‘P,’ of course, stands for ‘Papier.’ Now for the
                                                              ‘Eg.’ Let us glance at our Continental Gazetteer.”
   “Then how many are there?”
                                                              He took down a heavy brown volume from his
   “How many? I don’t know.”                                  shelves. “Eglow, Eglonitz—here we are, Egria. It
    “Quite so! You have not observed. And yet                 is in a German-speaking country—in Bohemia, not
you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know             far from Carlsbad. ‘Remarkable as being the scene
that there are seventeen steps, because I have both           of the death of Wallenstein, and for its numerous
seen and observed. By-the-way, since you are in-              glass-factories and paper-mills.’ Ha, ha, my boy,
terested in these little problems, and since you are          what do you make of that?” His eyes sparkled, and
good enough to chronicle one or two of my tri-                he sent up a great blue triumphant cloud from his
fling experiences, you may be interested in this.”             cigarette.
He threw over a sheet of thick, pink-tinted note-                 “The paper was made in Bohemia,” I said.
paper which had been lying open upon the table.
                                                                  “Precisely. And the man who wrote the note
“It came by the last post,” said he. “Read it aloud.”
                                                              is a German. Do you note the peculiar construc-
   The note was undated, and without either sig-              tion of the sentence—‘This account of you we have
nature or address.                                            from all quarters received.’ A Frenchman or Rus-
    “There will call upon you to-night, at a quar-            sian could not have written that. It is the German
ter to eight o’clock,” it said, “a gentleman who              who is so uncourteous to his verbs. It only re-
desires to consult you upon a matter of the very              mains, therefore, to discover what is wanted by
deepest moment. Your recent services to one of                this German who writes upon Bohemian paper
the royal houses of Europe have shown that you                and prefers wearing a mask to showing his face.
are one who may safely be trusted with matters                And here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to re-
which are of an importance which can hardly be                solve all our doubts.”

                                                        124
                                            A Scandal in Bohemia

    As he spoke there was the sharp sound of                        “Pray take a seat,” said Holmes. “This is my
horses’ hoofs and grating wheels against the curb,              friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasion-
followed by a sharp pull at the bell. Holmes whis-              ally good enough to help me in my cases. Whom
tled.                                                           have I the honour to address?”
   “A pair, by the sound,” said he. “Yes,” he con-                  “You may address me as the Count Von
tinued, glancing out of the window. “A nice little              Kramm, a Bohemian nobleman. I understand that
brougham and a pair of beauties. A hundred and                  this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honour
fifty guineas apiece. There’s money in this case,                and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter
Watson, if there is nothing else.”                              of the most extreme importance. If not, I should
                                                                much prefer to communicate with you alone.”
   “I think that I had better go, Holmes.”                         I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist
    “Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am                and pushed me back into my chair. “It is both, or
lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be                none,” said he. “You may say before this gentle-
interesting. It would be a pity to miss it.”                    man anything which you may say to me.”
                                                                    The Count shrugged his broad shoulders.
   “But your client—”
                                                                “Then I must begin,” said he, “by binding you
   “Never mind him. I may want your help, and                   both to absolute secrecy for two years; at the end of
so may he. Here he comes. Sit down in that arm-                 that time the matter will be of no importance. At
chair, Doctor, and give us your best attention.”                present it is not too much to say that it is of such
                                                                weight it may have an influence upon European
   A slow and heavy step, which had been heard                  history.”
upon the stairs and in the passage, paused imme-
                                                                   “I promise,” said Holmes.
diately outside the door. Then there was a loud
and authoritative tap.                                             “And I.”
                                                                    “You will excuse this mask,” continued our
   “Come in!” said Holmes.
                                                                strange visitor. “The august person who employs
    A man entered who could hardly have been                    me wishes his agent to be unknown to you, and I
less than six feet six inches in height, with the chest         may confess at once that the title by which I have
and limbs of a Hercules. His dress was rich with a              just called myself is not exactly my own.”
richness which would, in England, be looked upon                   “I was aware of it,” said Holmes dryly.
as akin to bad taste. Heavy bands of astrakhan
                                                                   “The circumstances are of great delicacy, and
were slashed across the sleeves and fronts of his
                                                                every precaution has to be taken to quench what
double-breasted coat, while the deep blue cloak
                                                                might grow to be an immense scandal and seri-
which was thrown over his shoulders was lined
                                                                ously compromise one of the reigning families of
with flame-coloured silk and secured at the neck
                                                                Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the
with a brooch which consisted of a single flam-
                                                                great House of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bo-
ing beryl. Boots which extended halfway up his
                                                                hemia.”
calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with
rich brown fur, completed the impression of bar-                    “I was also aware of that,” murmured Holmes,
baric opulence which was suggested by his whole                 settling himself down in his armchair and closing
appearance. He carried a broad-brimmed hat in                   his eyes.
his hand, while he wore across the upper part of                    Our visitor glanced with some apparent sur-
his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a                 prise at the languid, lounging figure of the man
black vizard mask, which he had apparently ad-                  who had been no doubt depicted to him as the
justed that very moment, for his hand was still                 most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent
raised to it as he entered. From the lower part of              in Europe. Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and
the face he appeared to be a man of strong charac-              looked impatiently at his gigantic client.
ter, with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight                “If your Majesty would condescend to state
chin suggestive of resolution pushed to the length              your case,” he remarked, “I should be better able
of obstinacy.                                                   to advise you.”
    “You had my note?” he asked with a deep                        The man sprang from his chair and paced up
harsh voice and a strongly marked German accent.                and down the room in uncontrollable agitation.
“I told you that I would call.” He looked from one              Then, with a gesture of desperation, he tore the
to the other of us, as if uncertain which to address.           mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground.

                                                          125
                                         A Scandal in Bohemia

“You are right,” he cried; “I am the King. Why                  “Stolen.”
should I attempt to conceal it?”                                “My own seal.”
   “Why, indeed?” murmured Holmes. “Your                        “Imitated.”
Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that                  “My photograph.”
I was addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond
                                                                “Bought.”
von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and
hereditary King of Bohemia.”                                    “We were both in the photograph.”
                                                                “Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has
    “But you can understand,” said our strange vis-
                                                            indeed committed an indiscretion.”
itor, sitting down once more and passing his hand
over his high white forehead, “you can understand               “I was mad—insane.”
that I am not accustomed to doing such business in              “You have compromised yourself seriously.”
my own person. Yet the matter was so delicate that              “I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I
I could not confide it to an agent without putting           am but thirty now.”
myself in his power. I have come incognito from                 “It must be recovered.”
Prague for the purpose of consulting you.”
                                                                “We have tried and failed.”
   “Then, pray consult,” said Holmes, shutting his              “Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought.”
eyes once more.
                                                                “She will not sell.”
   “The facts are briefly these: Some five years                  “Stolen, then.”
ago, during a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the
                                                                “Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars
acquaintance of the well-known adventuress, Irene
                                                            in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted
Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you.”
                                                            her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has
    “Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor,” mur-          been waylaid. There has been no result.”
mured Holmes without opening his eyes. For
                                                                “No sign of it?”
many years he had adopted a system of docket-
ing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so                “Absolutely none.”
that it was difficult to name a subject or a person              Holmes laughed. “It is quite a pretty little
on which he could not at once furnish information.          problem,” said he.
In this case I found her biography sandwiched in                “But a very serious one to me,” returned the
between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a staff-         King reproachfully.
commander who had written a monograph upon                      “Very, indeed. And what does she propose to
the deep-sea fishes.                                         do with the photograph?”
   “Let me see!” said Holmes. “Hum! Born in                     “To ruin me.”
New Jersey in the year 1858. Contralto—hum! La                  “But how?”
Scala, hum! Prima donna Imperial Opera of War-
                                                                “I am about to be married.”
saw—yes! Retired from operatic stage—ha! Living
in London—quite so! Your Majesty, as I under-                   “So I have heard.”
stand, became entangled with this young person,                 “To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, sec-
wrote her some compromising letters, and is now             ond daughter of the King of Scandinavia. You may
desirous of getting those letters back.”                    know the strict principles of her family. She is her-
                                                            self the very soul of delicacy. A shadow of a doubt
   “Precisely so. But how—”
                                                            as to my conduct would bring the matter to an
   “Was there a secret marriage?”                           end.”
   “None.”                                                      “And Irene Adler?”
   “No legal papers or certificates?”                            “Threatens to send them the photograph. And
   “None.”                                                  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
   “Then I fail to follow your Majesty. If this             the face of the most beautiful of women, and the
young person should produce her letters for black-          mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than I
mailing or other purposes, how is she to prove              should marry another woman, there are no lengths
their authenticity?”                                        to which she would not go—none.”
   “There is the writing.”                                      “You are sure that she has not sent it yet?”
   “Pooh, pooh! Forgery.”                                       “I am sure.”
   “My private note-paper.”                                     “And why?”

                                                      126
                                           A Scandal in Bohemia

    “Because she has said that she would send it                  The King took a heavy chamois leather bag
on the day when the betrothal was publicly pro-                from under his cloak and laid it on the table.
claimed. That will be next Monday.”
                                                                  “There are three hundred pounds in gold and
    “Oh, then we have three days yet,” said Holmes             seven hundred in notes,” he said.
with a yawn. “That is very fortunate, as I have one
or two matters of importance to look into just at                 Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his
present. Your Majesty will, of course, stay in Lon-            note-book and handed it to him.
don for the present?”                                             “And Mademoiselle’s address?” he asked.
    “Certainly. You will find me at the Langham                   “Is Briony Lodge, Serpentine Avenue, St. John’s
under the name of the Count Von Kramm.”                        Wood.”
    “Then I shall drop you a line to let you know
                                                                  Holmes took a note of it. “One other question,”
how we progress.”
                                                               said he. “Was the photograph a cabinet?”
    “Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety.”
                                                                  “It was.”
    “Then, as to money?”
    “You have carte blanche.”                                      “Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust
                                                               that we shall soon have some good news for you.
    “Absolutely?”
                                                               And good-night, Watson,” he added, as the wheels
    “I tell you that I would give one of the                   of the royal brougham rolled down the street. “If
provinces of my kingdom to have that photo-                    you will be good enough to call to-morrow after-
graph.”                                                        noon at three o’clock I should like to chat this little
    “And for present expenses?”                                matter over with you.”




                                              CHAPTER II.
    At three o’clock precisely I was at Baker Street,          whiskered, with an inflamed face and disreputable
but Holmes had not yet returned. The landlady                  clothes, walked into the room. Accustomed as I
informed me that he had left the house shortly af-             was to my friend’s amazing powers in the use of
ter eight o’clock in the morning. I sat down be-               disguises, I had to look three times before I was
side the fire, however, with the intention of await-            certain that it was indeed he. With a nod he van-
ing him, however long he might be. I was already               ished into the bedroom, whence he emerged in five
deeply interested in his inquiry, for, though it was           minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old.
surrounded by none of the grim and strange fea-                Putting his hands into his pockets, he stretched out
tures which were associated with the two crimes                his legs in front of the fire and laughed heartily for
which I have already recorded, still, the nature of            some minutes.
the case and the exalted station of his client gave it             “Well, really!” he cried, and then he choked
a character of its own. Indeed, apart from the na-             and laughed again until he was obliged to lie back,
ture of the investigation which my friend had on               limp and helpless, in the chair.
hand, there was something in his masterly grasp                    “What is it?”
of a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning,                  “It’s quite too funny. I am sure you could never
which made it a pleasure to me to study his sys-               guess how I employed my morning, or what I
tem of work, and to follow the quick, subtle meth-             ended by doing.”
ods by which he disentangled the most inextrica-
                                                                   “I can’t imagine. I suppose that you have been
ble mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invari-
                                                               watching the habits, and perhaps the house, of
able success that the very possibility of his failing
                                                               Miss Irene Adler.”
had ceased to enter into my head.
                                                                   “Quite so; but the sequel was rather unusual. I
   It was close upon four before the door opened,              will tell you, however. I left the house a little af-
and a drunken-looking groom, ill-kempt and side-               ter eight o’clock this morning in the character of a

                                                         127
                                             A Scandal in Bohemia

groom out of work. There is a wonderful sym-                     the field of my inquiry. I fear that I bore you with
pathy and freemasonry among horsey men. Be                       these details, but I have to let you see my little dif-
one of them, and you will know all that there is                 ficulties, if you are to understand the situation.”
to know. I soon found Briony Lodge. It is a bijou                   “I am following you closely,” I answered.
villa, with a garden at the back, but built out in
front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock                 “I was still balancing the matter in my mind
to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side,               when a hansom cab drove up to Briony Lodge,
well furnished, with long windows almost to the                  and a gentleman sprang out. He was a remark-
floor, and those preposterous English window fas-                 ably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and mous-
teners which a child could open. Behind there was                tached—evidently the man of whom I had heard.
nothing remarkable, save that the passage window                 He appeared to be in a great hurry, shouted to the
could be reached from the top of the coach-house.                cabman to wait, and brushed past the maid who
I walked round it and examined it closely from ev-               opened the door with the air of a man who was
ery point of view, but without noting anything else              thoroughly at home.
of interest.                                                         “He was in the house about half an hour, and
    “I then lounged down the street and found, as                I could catch glimpses of him in the windows of
I expected, that there was a mews in a lane which                the sitting-room, pacing up and down, talking ex-
runs down by one wall of the garden. I lent the                  citedly, and waving his arms. Of her I could see
ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses, and                 nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more
received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and               flurried than before. As he stepped up to the cab,
half, two fills of shag tobacco, and as much infor-               he pulled a gold watch from his pocket and looked
mation as I could desire about Miss Adler, to say                at it earnestly, ‘Drive like the devil,’ he shouted,
nothing of half a dozen other people in the neigh-               ‘first to Gross & Hankey’s in Regent Street, and
bourhood in whom I was not in the least inter-                   then to the Church of St. Monica in the Edgeware
ested, but whose biographies I was compelled to                  Road. Half a guinea if you do it in twenty min-
listen to.”                                                      utes!’

   “And what of Irene Adler?” I asked.                               “Away they went, and I was just wondering
                                                                 whether I should not do well to follow them when
    “Oh, she has turned all the men’s heads down                 up the lane came a neat little landau, the coach-
in that part. She is the daintiest thing under a bon-            man with his coat only half-buttoned, and his tie
net on this planet. So say the Serpentine-mews, to               under his ear, while all the tags of his harness were
a man. She lives quietly, sings at concerts, drives              sticking out of the buckles. It hadn’t pulled up be-
out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp                 fore she shot out of the hall door and into it. I only
for dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except               caught a glimpse of her at the moment, but she
when she sings. Has only one male visitor, but                   was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might
a good deal of him. He is dark, handsome, and                    die for.
dashing, never calls less than once a day, and often
twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner                     “ ‘The Church of St. Monica, John,’ she cried,
Temple. See the advantages of a cabman as a con-                 ‘and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty min-
fidant. They had driven him home a dozen times                    utes.’
from Serpentine-mews, and knew all about him.                       “This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I
When I had listened to all they had to tell, I be-               was just balancing whether I should run for it, or
gan to walk up and down near Briony Lodge once                   whether I should perch behind her landau when
more, and to think over my plan of campaign.                     a cab came through the street. The driver looked
    “This Godfrey Norton was evidently an impor-                 twice at such a shabby fare, but I jumped in before
tant factor in the matter. He was a lawyer. That                 he could object. ‘The Church of St. Monica,’ said I,
sounded ominous. What was the relation between                   ‘and half a sovereign if you reach it in twenty min-
them, and what the object of his repeated visits?                utes.’ It was twenty-five minutes to twelve, and of
Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress? If the          course it was clear enough what was in the wind.
former, she had probably transferred the photo-                      “My cabby drove fast. I don’t think I ever drove
graph to his keeping. If the latter, it was less likely.         faster, but the others were there before us. The cab
On the issue of this question depended whether                   and the landau with their steaming horses were
I should continue my work at Briony Lodge, or                    in front of the door when I arrived. I paid the
turn my attention to the gentleman’s chambers in                 man and hurried into the church. There was not a
the Temple. It was a delicate point, and it widened              soul there save the two whom I had followed and

                                                           128
                                          A Scandal in Bohemia

a surpliced clergyman, who seemed to be expostu-                  “Not in the least.”
lating with them. They were all three standing in                 “Nor running a chance of arrest?”
a knot in front of the altar. I lounged up the side               “Not in a good cause.”
aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a                 “Oh, the cause is excellent!”
church. Suddenly, to my surprise, the three at the
                                                                  “Then I am your man.”
altar faced round to me, and Godfrey Norton came
running as hard as he could towards me.                           “I was sure that I might rely on you.”
                                                                  “But what is it you wish?”
  “ ‘Thank God,’ he cried. ‘You’ll do. Come!
                                                                  “When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I
Come!’
                                                              will make it clear to you. Now,” he said as he
   “ ‘What then?’ I asked.                                    turned hungrily on the simple fare that our land-
  “ ‘Come, man, come, only three minutes, or it               lady had provided, “I must discuss it while I eat,
won’t be legal.’                                              for I have not much time. It is nearly five now. In
                                                              two hours we must be on the scene of action. Miss
    “I was half-dragged up to the altar, and be-
                                                              Irene, or Madame, rather, returns from her drive at
fore I knew where I was I found myself mumbling
                                                              seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her.”
responses which were whispered in my ear, and
                                                                  “And what then?”
vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and
generally assisting in the secure tying up of Irene               “You must leave that to me. I have already ar-
Adler, spinster, to Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It              ranged what is to occur. There is only one point on
was all done in an instant, and there was the gen-            which I must insist. You must not interfere, come
tleman thanking me on the one side and the lady               what may. You understand?”
on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me                    “I am to be neutral?”
in front. It was the most preposterous position in                “To do nothing whatever. There will probably
which I ever found myself in my life, and it was the          be some small unpleasantness. Do not join in it.
thought of it that started me laughing just now. It           It will end in my being conveyed into the house.
seems that there had been some informality about              Four or five minutes afterwards the sitting-room
their license, that the clergyman absolutely refused          window will open. You are to station yourself
to marry them without a witness of some sort, and             close to that open window.”
that my lucky appearance saved the bridegroom                     “Yes.”
from having to sally out into the streets in search               “You are to watch me, for I will be visible to
of a best man. The bride gave me a sovereign, and             you.”
I mean to wear it on my watch-chain in memory                     “Yes.”
of the occasion.”                                                 “And when I raise my hand—so—you will
    “This is a very unexpected turn of affairs,” said         throw into the room what I give you to throw, and
I; “and what then?”                                           will, at the same time, raise the cry of fire. You
   “Well, I found my plans very seriously men-                quite follow me?”
aced. It looked as if the pair might take an imme-                “Entirely.”
diate departure, and so necessitate very prompt                   “It is nothing very formidable,” he said, tak-
and energetic measures on my part. At the church              ing a long cigar-shaped roll from his pocket. “It is
door, however, they separated, he driving back to             an ordinary plumber’s smoke-rocket, fitted with a
the Temple, and she to her own house. ‘I shall                cap at either end to make it self-lighting. Your task
drive out in the park at five as usual,’ she said as           is confined to that. When you raise your cry of fire,
she left him. I heard no more. They drove away                it will be taken up by quite a number of people.
in different directions, and I went off to make my            You may then walk to the end of the street, and I
own arrangements.”                                            will rejoin you in ten minutes. I hope that I have
                                                              made myself clear?”
   “Which are?”
                                                                  “I am to remain neutral, to get near the win-
    “Some cold beef and a glass of beer,” he an-              dow, to watch you, and at the signal to throw in
swered, ringing the bell. “I have been too busy               this object, then to raise the cry of fire, and to wait
to think of food, and I am likely to be busier still          you at the corner of the street.“
this evening. By the way, Doctor, I shall want your
                                                                  “Precisely.”
co-operation.”
                                                                  “Then you may entirely rely on me.”
   “I shall be delighted.”                                        “That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost
   “You don’t mind breaking the law?”                         time that I prepare for the new role I have to play.”

                                                        129
                                         A Scandal in Bohemia

    He disappeared into his bedroom and returned             resolved to use it within a few days. It must be
in a few minutes in the character of an amiable and          where she can lay her hands upon it. It must be in
simple-minded Nonconformist clergyman. His                   her own house.”
broad black hat, his baggy trousers, his white tie,              “But it has twice been burgled.”
his sympathetic smile, and general look of peer-                 “Pshaw! They did not know how to look.”
ing and benevolent curiosity were such as Mr. John               “But how will you look?”
Hare alone could have equalled. It was not merely                “I will not look.”
that Holmes changed his costume. His expression,
                                                                 “What then?”
his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with ev-
ery fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a                 “I will get her to show me.”
fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner,               “But she will refuse.”
when he became a specialist in crime.                            “She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble
                                                             of wheels. It is her carriage. Now carry out my
     It was a quarter past six when we left Baker
                                                             orders to the letter.”
Street, and it still wanted ten minutes to the hour
when we found ourselves in Serpentine Avenue.                    As he spoke the gleam of the side-lights of a
It was already dusk, and the lamps were just be-             carriage came round the curve of the avenue. It
ing lighted as we paced up and down in front of              was a smart little landau which rattled up to the
Briony Lodge, waiting for the coming of its occu-            door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up, one of the
pant. The house was just such as I had pictured              loafing men at the corner dashed forward to open
it from Sherlock Holmes’ succinct description, but           the door in the hope of earning a copper, but was
the locality appeared to be less private than I ex-          elbowed away by another loafer, who had rushed
pected. On the contrary, for a small street in a             up with the same intention. A fierce quarrel broke
quiet neighbourhood, it was remarkably animated.             out, which was increased by the two guardsmen,
There was a group of shabbily dressed men smok-              who took sides with one of the loungers, and by
ing and laughing in a corner, a scissors-grinder             the scissors-grinder, who was equally hot upon the
with his wheel, two guardsmen who were flirting               other side. A blow was struck, and in an instant
with a nurse-girl, and several well-dressed young            the lady, who had stepped from her carriage, was
men who were lounging up and down with cigars                the centre of a little knot of flushed and struggling
in their mouths.                                             men, who struck savagely at each other with their
                                                             fists and sticks. Holmes dashed into the crowd
   “You see,” remarked Holmes, as we paced to                to protect the lady; but just as he reached her he
and fro in front of the house, “this marriage rather         gave a cry and dropped to the ground, with the
simplifies matters. The photograph becomes a                  blood running freely down his face. At his fall
double-edged weapon now. The chances are that                the guardsmen took to their heels in one direction
she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr.              and the loungers in the other, while a number of
Godfrey Norton, as our client is to its coming to            better-dressed people, who had watched the scuf-
the eyes of his princess. Now the question is,               fle without taking part in it, crowded in to help
Where are we to find the photograph?”                         the lady and to attend to the injured man. Irene
   “Where, indeed?”                                          Adler, as I will still call her, had hurried up the
   “It is most unlikely that she carries it about            steps; but she stood at the top with her superb fig-
with her. It is cabinet size. Too large for easy             ure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking
concealment about a woman’s dress. She knows                 back into the street.
that the King is capable of having her waylaid and               “Is the poor gentleman much hurt?” she asked.
searched. Two attempts of the sort have already                  “He is dead,” cried several voices.
been made. We may take it, then, that she does                   “No, no, there’s life in him!” shouted another.
not carry it about with her.”                                “But he’ll be gone before you can get him to hos-
   “Where, then?”                                            pital.”
     “Her banker or her lawyer. There is that dou-               “He’s a brave fellow,” said a woman. “They
ble possibility. But I am inclined to think neither.         would have had the lady’s purse and watch if it
Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do           hadn’t been for him. They were a gang, and a
their own secreting. Why should she hand it over             rough one, too. Ah, he’s breathing now.”
to anyone else? She could trust her own guardian-                “He can’t lie in the street. May we bring him
ship, but she could not tell what indirect or po-            in, marm?“
litical influence might be brought to bear upon a                 “Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There
business man. Besides, remember that she had                 is a comfortable sofa. This way, please!“

                                                       130
                                          A Scandal in Bohemia

     Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony             forward, fell down, clapped my hand to my face,
Lodge and laid out in the principal room, while I             and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old trick.”
still observed the proceedings from my post by the
                                                                 “That also I could fathom.”
window. The lamps had been lit, but the blinds
had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as                 “Then they carried me in. She was bound to
he lay upon the couch. I do not know whether he               have me in. What else could she do? And into
was seized with compunction at that moment for                her sitting-room, which was the very room which
the part he was playing, but I know that I never felt         I suspected. It lay between that and her bedroom,
more heartily ashamed of myself in my life than               and I was determined to see which. They laid me
when I saw the beautiful creature against whom                on a couch, I motioned for air, they were com-
I was conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with            pelled to open the window, and you had your
which she waited upon the injured man. And yet it             chance.”
would be the blackest treachery to Holmes to draw                “How did that help you?”
back now from the part which he had intrusted to
me. I hardened my heart, and took the smoke-                      “It was all-important. When a woman thinks
rocket from under my ulster. After all, I thought,            that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to
we are not injuring her. We are but preventing her            rush to the thing which she values most. It is a per-
from injuring another.                                        fectly overpowering impulse, and I have more than
                                                              once taken advantage of it. In the case of the Dar-
    Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw
                                                              lington substitution scandal it was of use to me,
him motion like a man who is in need of air. A
                                                              and also in the Arnsworth Castle business. A mar-
maid rushed across and threw open the window.
                                                              ried woman grabs at her baby; an unmarried one
At the same instant I saw him raise his hand and
                                                              reaches for her jewel-box. Now it was clear to me
at the signal I tossed my rocket into the room with
                                                              that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house
a cry of “Fire!” The word was no sooner out of my
                                                              more precious to her than what we are in quest of.
mouth than the whole crowd of spectators, well
                                                              She would rush to secure it. The alarm of fire was
dressed and ill—gentlemen, ostlers, and servant-
                                                              admirably done. The smoke and shouting were
maids—joined in a general shriek of “Fire!” Thick
                                                              enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded
clouds of smoke curled through the room and
                                                              beautifully. The photograph is in a recess behind
out at the open window. I caught a glimpse of
                                                              a sliding panel just above the right bell-pull. She
rushing figures, and a moment later the voice of
                                                              was there in an instant, and I caught a glimpse of
Holmes from within assuring them that it was a
                                                              it as she half-drew it out. When I cried out that it
false alarm. Slipping through the shouting crowd
                                                              was a false alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the
I made my way to the corner of the street, and in
                                                              rocket, rushed from the room, and I have not seen
ten minutes was rejoiced to find my friend’s arm in
                                                              her since. I rose, and, making my excuses, escaped
mine, and to get away from the scene of uproar. He
                                                              from the house. I hesitated whether to attempt to
walked swiftly and in silence for some few min-
                                                              secure the photograph at once; but the coachman
utes until we had turned down one of the quiet
                                                              had come in, and as he was watching me narrowly
streets which lead towards the Edgeware Road.
                                                              it seemed safer to wait. A little over-precipitance
  “You did it very nicely, Doctor,” he remarked.              may ruin all.”
“Nothing could have been better. It is all right.”
                                                                 “And now?” I asked.
   “You have the photograph?”
   “I know where it is.”                                          “Our quest is practically finished. I shall call
                                                              with the King to-morrow, and with you, if you
   “And how did you find out?”                                 care to come with us. We will be shown into the
   “She showed me, as I told you she would.”                  sitting-room to wait for the lady, but it is probable
   “I am still in the dark.”                                  that when she comes she may find neither us nor
   “I do not wish to make a mystery,” said he,                the photograph. It might be a satisfaction to his
laughing. “The matter was perfectly simple. You,              Majesty to regain it with his own hands.”
of course, saw that everyone in the street was                   “And when will you call?”
an accomplice. They were all engaged for the
                                                                 “At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so
evening.”
                                                              that we shall have a clear field. Besides, we must
   “I guessed as much.”                                       be prompt, for this marriage may mean a complete
  “Then, when the row broke out, I had a little               change in her life and habits. I must wire to the
moist red paint in the palm of my hand. I rushed              King without delay.”

                                                        131
                                         A Scandal in Bohemia

    We had reached Baker Street and had stopped              the time, but the greeting appeared to come from
at the door. He was searching his pockets for the            a slim youth in an ulster who had hurried by.
key when someone passing said:                                   “I’ve heard that voice before,” said Holmes,
    “Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes.”                    staring down the dimly lit street. “Now, I wonder
    There were several people on the pavement at             who the deuce that could have been.”




                                           CHAPTER III.
   I slept at Baker Street that night, and we were           us with a sardonic eye as we stepped from the
engaged upon our toast and coffee in the morning             brougham.
when the King of Bohemia rushed into the room.
   “You have really got it!” he cried, grasping                 “Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe?” said she.
Sherlock Holmes by either shoulder and looking
eagerly into his face.                                           “I am Mr. Holmes,” answered my companion,
   “Not yet.”                                                looking at her with a questioning and rather star-
   “But you have hopes?”                                     tled gaze.
   “I have hopes.”
                                                                 “Indeed! My mistress told me that you were
   “Then, come. I am all impatience to be gone.”
                                                             likely to call. She left this morning with her hus-
   “We must have a cab.”                                     band by the 5.15 train from Charing Cross for the
   “No, my brougham is waiting.”                             Continent.”
   “Then that will simplify matters.” We de-
scended and started off once more for Briony                    “What!” Sherlock Holmes staggered back,
Lodge.                                                       white with chagrin and surprise. “Do you mean
   “Irene Adler is married,” remarked Holmes.                that she has left England?”
   “Married! When?”
                                                                “Never to return.”
   “Yesterday.”
   “But to whom?”
                                                                “And the papers?” asked the King hoarsely.
   “To an English lawyer named Norton.”                      “All is lost.”
   “But she could not love him.”
   “I am in hopes that she does.”                                “We shall see.” He pushed past the servant
   “And why in hopes?”                                       and rushed into the drawing-room, followed by
                                                             the King and myself. The furniture was scattered
    “Because it would spare your Majesty all fear of
                                                             about in every direction, with dismantled shelves
future annoyance. If the lady loves her husband,
                                                             and open drawers, as if the lady had hurriedly ran-
she does not love your Majesty. If she does not love
                                                             sacked them before her flight. Holmes rushed at
your Majesty, there is no reason why she should
                                                             the bell-pull, tore back a small sliding shutter, and,
interfere with your Majesty’s plan.”
                                                             plunging in his hand, pulled out a photograph and
   “It is true. And yet—Well! I wish she had been            a letter. The photograph was of Irene Adler her-
of my own station! What a queen she would have               self in evening dress, the letter was superscribed to
made!” He relapsed into a moody silence, which               “Sherlock Holmes, Esq. To be left till called for.”
was not broken until we drew up in Serpentine                My friend tore it open and we all three read it to-
Avenue.                                                      gether. It was dated at midnight of the preceding
   The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an el-             night and ran in this way:
derly woman stood upon the steps. She watched

                                                       132
“My dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes:                                              e
                                                           “Irene Norton, n´ e Adler.”
  “You really did it very well. You
took me in completely. Until after the          “What a woman—oh, what a woman!” cried
alarm of fire, I had not a suspicion.        the King of Bohemia, when we had all three read
But then, when I found how I had be-        this epistle. “Did I not tell you how quick and
trayed myself, I began to think. I had      resolute she was? Would she not have made an
been warned against you months ago.         admirable queen? Is it not a pity that she was not
I had been told that if the King em-        on my level?”
ployed an agent it would certainly be          “From what I have seen of the lady she seems
you. And your address had been given        indeed to be on a very different level to your
me. Yet, with all this, you made me re-     Majesty,” said Holmes coldly. “I am sorry that I
veal what you wanted to know. Even          have not been able to bring your Majesty’s busi-
after I became suspicious, I found it       ness to a more successful conclusion.”
hard to think evil of such a dear, kind
                                                “On the contrary, my dear sir,” cried the King;
old clergyman. But, you know, I have
                                            “nothing could be more successful. I know that
been trained as an actress myself. Male
                                            her word is inviolate. The photograph is now as
costume is nothing new to me. I often
                                            safe as if it were in the fire.”
take advantage of the freedom which
it gives. I sent John, the coachman,           “I am glad to hear your Majesty say so.”
to watch you, ran up stairs, got into           “I am immensely indebted to you. Pray tell me
my walking-clothes, as I call them, and     in what way I can reward you. This ring—” He
came down just as you departed.             slipped an emerald snake ring from his finger and
  “Well, I followed you to your door,       held it out upon the palm of his hand.
and so made sure that I was really an          “Your Majesty has something which I should
object of interest to the celebrated Mr.    value even more highly,” said Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes. Then I, rather im-
prudently, wished you good-night, and          “You have but to name it.”
started for the Temple to see my hus-          “This photograph!”
band.                                          The King stared at him in amazement.
  “We both thought the best resource
                                               “Irene’s photograph!” he cried. “Certainly, if
was flight, when pursued by so
                                            you wish it.”
formidable an antagonist; so you will
find the nest empty when you call to-            “I thank your Majesty. Then there is no more
morrow. As to the photograph, your          to be done in the matter. I have the honour to wish
client may rest in peace. I love and        you a very good-morning.” He bowed, and, turn-
am loved by a better man than he.           ing away without observing the hand which the
The King may do what he will with-          King had stretched out to him, he set off in my
out hindrance from one whom he has          company for his chambers.
cruelly wronged. I keep it only to              And that was how a great scandal threatened
safeguard myself, and to preserve a         to affect the kingdom of Bohemia, and how the
weapon which will always secure me          best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were beaten by
from any steps which he might take in       a woman’s wit. He used to make merry over the
the future. I leave a photograph which      cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do
he might care to possess; and I remain,     it of late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or
dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes,                   when he refers to her photograph, it is always un-
                       “Very truly yours,   der the honourable title of the woman.
The Red-Headed League
I
                                         The Red-Headed League

         had called upon my friend, Mr. Sher-                 doubt whether any positive crime has been com-
         lock Holmes, one day in the autumn of                mitted. As far as I have heard it is impossible for
         last year and found him in deep conver-              me to say whether the present case is an instance
         sation with a very stout, florid-faced, el-           of crime or not, but the course of events is cer-
derly gentleman with fiery red hair. With an apol-             tainly among the most singular that I have ever
ogy for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw                 listened to. Perhaps, Mr. Wilson, you would have
when Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room                  the great kindness to recommence your narrative. I
and closed the door behind me.                                ask you not merely because my friend Dr. Watson
   “You could not possibly have come at a better              has not heard the opening part but also because
time, my dear Watson,” he said cordially.                     the peculiar nature of the story makes me anxious
                                                              to have every possible detail from your lips. As a
   “I was afraid that you were engaged.”                      rule, when I have heard some slight indication of
   “So I am. Very much so.”                                   the course of events, I am able to guide myself by
   “Then I can wait in the next room.”                        the thousands of other similar cases which occur
                                                              to my memory. In the present instance I am forced
   “Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has               to admit that the facts are, to the best of my belief,
been my partner and helper in many of my most                 unique.”
successful cases, and I have no doubt that he will
be of the utmost use to me in yours also.”                        The portly client puffed out his chest with an
                                                              appearance of some little pride and pulled a dirty
    The stout gentleman half rose from his chair              and wrinkled newspaper from the inside pocket of
and gave a bob of greeting, with a quick little ques-         his greatcoat. As he glanced down the advertise-
tioning glance from his small fat-encircled eyes.             ment column, with his head thrust forward and
   “Try the settee,” said Holmes, relapsing into              the paper flattened out upon his knee, I took a
his armchair and putting his fingertips together,              good look at the man and endeavoured, after the
as was his custom when in judicial moods. “I                  fashion of my companion, to read the indications
know, my dear Watson, that you share my love                  which might be presented by his dress or appear-
of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions            ance.
and humdrum routine of everyday life. You have                    I did not gain very much, however, by my in-
shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which              spection. Our visitor bore every mark of being
has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will               an average commonplace British tradesman, obese,
excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so                 pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy grey
many of my own little adventures.”                            shepherd’s check trousers, a not over-clean black
    “Your cases have indeed been of the greatest              frock-coat, unbuttoned in the front, and a drab
interest to me,” I observed.                                  waistcoat with a heavy brassy Albert chain, and
    “You will remember that I remarked the other              a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as an
day, just before we went into the very simple prob-           ornament. A frayed top-hat and a faded brown
lem presented by Miss Mary Sutherland, that for               overcoat with a wrinkled velvet collar lay upon
strange effects and extraordinary combinations we             a chair beside him. Altogether, look as I would,
must go to life itself, which is always far more dar-         there was nothing remarkable about the man save
ing than any effort of the imagination.”                      his blazing red head, and the expression of ex-
                                                              treme chagrin and discontent upon his features.
   “A proposition which I took the liberty of
doubting.”                                                       Sherlock Holmes’ quick eye took in my occu-
                                                              pation, and he shook his head with a smile as he
    “You did, Doctor, but none the less you must              noticed my questioning glances. “Beyond the ob-
come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep             vious facts that he has at some time done manual
on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason             labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason,
breaks down under them and acknowledges me                    that he has been in China, and that he has done
to be right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been              a considerable amount of writing lately, I can de-
good enough to call upon me this morning, and to              duce nothing else.”
begin a narrative which promises to be one of the
most singular which I have listened to for some                   Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with
time. You have heard me remark that the strangest             his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon
and most unique things are very often connected               my companion.
not with the larger but with the smaller crimes,                 “How, in the name of good-fortune, did you
and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for             know all that, Mr. Holmes?” he asked. “How did

                                                        137
                                         The Red-Headed League

you know, for example, that I did manual labour.                    on Monday, at eleven o’clock, to Dun-
It’s as true as gospel, for I began as a ship’s car-                can Ross, at the offices of the League, 7
penter.”                                                            Pope’s Court, Fleet Street.”
   “Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is                   “What on earth does this mean?” I ejaculated
quite a size larger than your left. You have worked           after I had twice read over the extraordinary an-
with it, and the muscles are more developed.”                 nouncement.
   “Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?”                  Holmes chuckled and wriggled in his chair, as
                                                              was his habit when in high spirits. “It is a lit-
    “I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you
                                                              tle off the beaten track, isn’t it?” said he. “And
how I read that, especially as, rather against the
                                                              now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell us
strict rules of your order, you use an arc-and-
                                                              all about yourself, your household, and the effect
compass breastpin.”
                                                              which this advertisement had upon your fortunes.
   “Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?”           You will first make a note, Doctor, of the paper and
   “What else can be indicated by that right cuff             the date.”
so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with               “It is The Morning Chronicle of April 27, 1890.
the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it             Just two months ago.”
upon the desk?”                                                   “Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson?”
   “Well, but China?”                                             “Well, it is just as I have been telling you, Mr.
                                                              Sherlock Holmes,” said Jabez Wilson, mopping his
   “The fish that you have tattooed immediately
                                                              forehead; “I have a small pawnbroker’s business at
above your right wrist could only have been done
                                                              Coburg Square, near the City. It’s not a very large
in China. I have made a small study of tattoo
                                                              affair, and of late years it has not done more than
marks and have even contributed to the literature
                                                              just give me a living. I used to be able to keep two
of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes’
                                                              assistants, but now I only keep one; and I would
scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China.
                                                              have a job to pay him but that he is willing to come
When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging
                                                              for half wages so as to learn the business.”
from your watch-chain, the matter becomes even
more simple.”                                                     “What is the name of this obliging youth?”
                                                              asked Sherlock Holmes.
   Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. “Well, I                     “His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he’s not
never!” said he. “I thought at first that you had              such a youth, either. It’s hard to say his age. I
done something clever, but I see that there was               should not wish a smarter assistant, Mr. Holmes;
nothing in it, after all.”                                    and I know very well that he could better himself
    “I begin to think, Watson,” said Holmes, “that            and earn twice what I am able to give him. But,
I make a mistake in explaining. ‘Omne ignotum pro             after all, if he is satisfied, why should I put ideas
magnifico,’ you know, and my poor little reputa-               in his head?”
tion, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so             “Why, indeed? You seem most fortunate in
candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr.                having an employee who comes under the full
Wilson?”                                                      market price. It is not a common experience
    “Yes, I have got it now,” he answered with his            among employers in this age. I don’t know that
thick red finger planted halfway down the column.              your assistant is not as remarkable as your adver-
“Here it is. This is what began it all. You just read         tisement.”
it for yourself, sir.”                                            “Oh, he has his faults, too,” said Mr. Wilson.
                                                              “Never was such a fellow for photography. Snap-
   I took the paper from him and read as follows:
                                                              ping away with a camera when he ought to be im-
       “To the Red-headed League: On ac-                      proving his mind, and then diving down into the
     count of the bequest of the late Ezekiah                 cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pic-
     Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania,                       tures. That is his main fault, but on the whole he’s
     U. S. A., there is now another va-                       a good worker. There’s no vice in him.”
     cancy open which entitles a member                           “He is still with you, I presume?”
     of the League to a salary of £4 a week                       “Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who
     for purely nominal services. All red-                    does a bit of simple cooking and keeps the place
     headed men who are sound in body                         clean—that’s all I have in the house, for I am a
     and mind and above the age of twenty-                    widower and never had any family. We live very
     one years, are eligible. Apply in person                 quietly, sir, the three of us; and we keep a roof

                                                        138
                                          The Red-Headed League

over our heads and pay our debts, if we do noth-                  “ ‘But,’ said I, ‘there would be millions of red-
ing more.                                                      headed men who would apply.’
    “The first thing that put us out was that adver-                “ ‘Not so many as you might think,’ he an-
tisement. Spaulding, he came down into the office               swered. ‘You see it is really confined to London-
just this day eight weeks, with this very paper in             ers, and to grown men. This American had started
his hand, and he says:                                         from London when he was young, and he wanted
   “ ‘I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a             to do the old town a good turn. Then, again, I have
red-headed man.’                                               heard it is no use your applying if your hair is light
                                                               red, or dark red, or anything but real bright, blaz-
   “ ‘Why that?’ I asks.
                                                               ing, fiery red. Now, if you cared to apply, Mr. Wil-
    “ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘here’s another vacancy on the           son, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would
League of the Red-headed Men. It’s worth quite                 hardly be worth your while to put yourself out of
a little fortune to any man who gets it, and I un-             the way for the sake of a few hundred pounds.’
derstand that there are more vacancies than there
                                                                   “Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see
are men, so that the trustees are at their wits’ end
                                                               for yourselves, that my hair is of a very full and
what to do with the money. If my hair would only
                                                               rich tint, so that it seemed to me that if there was
change colour, here’s a nice little crib all ready for
                                                               to be any competition in the matter I stood as good
me to step into.’
                                                               a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent
     “ ‘Why, what is it, then?’ I asked. You see, Mr.          Spaulding seemed to know so much about it that
Holmes, I am a very stay-at-home man, and as my                I thought he might prove useful, so I just ordered
business came to me instead of my having to go to              him to put up the shutters for the day and to come
it, I was often weeks on end without putting my                right away with me. He was very willing to have a
foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn’t know              holiday, so we shut the business up and started off
much of what was going on outside, and I was                   for the address that was given us in the advertise-
always glad of a bit of news.                                  ment.
   “ ‘Have you never heard of the League of the                    “I never hope to see such a sight as that again,
Red-headed Men?’ he asked with his eyes open.                  Mr. Holmes. From north, south, east, and west
   “ ‘Never.’                                                  every man who had a shade of red in his hair
   “ ‘Why, I wonder at that, for you are eligible              had tramped into the city to answer the advertise-
yourself for one of the vacancies.’                            ment. Fleet Street was choked with red-headed
                                                               folk, and Pope’s Court looked like a coster’s or-
   “ ‘And what are they worth?’ I asked.
                                                               ange barrow. I should not have thought there were
   “ ‘Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but               so many in the whole country as were brought to-
the work is slight, and it need not interfere very             gether by that single advertisement. Every shade
much with one’s other occupations.’                            of colour they were—straw, lemon, orange, brick,
   “Well, you can easily think that that made me               Irish-setter, liver, clay; but, as Spaulding said, there
prick up my ears, for the business has not been                were not many who had the real vivid flame-
over-good for some years, and an extra couple of               coloured tint. When I saw how many were wait-
hundred would have been very handy.                            ing, I would have given it up in despair; but
   “ ‘Tell me all about it,’ said I.                           Spaulding would not hear of it. How he did it
                                                               I could not imagine, but he pushed and pulled
    “ ‘Well,’ said he, showing me the advertise-               and butted until he got me through the crowd, and
ment, ‘you can see for yourself that the League                right up to the steps which led to the office. There
has a vacancy, and there is the address where you              was a double stream upon the stair, some going
should apply for particulars. As far as I can make             up in hope, and some coming back dejected; but
out, the League was founded by an American mil-                we wedged in as well as we could and soon found
lionaire, Ezekiah Hopkins, who was very peculiar               ourselves in the office.”
in his ways. He was himself red-headed, and he
had a great sympathy for all red-headed men; so                    “Your experience has been a most entertaining
when he died it was found that he had left his                 one,” remarked Holmes as his client paused and
enormous fortune in the hands of trustees, with                refreshed his memory with a huge pinch of snuff.
instructions to apply the interest to the providing            “Pray continue your very interesting statement.”
of easy berths to men whose hair is of that colour.              “There was nothing in the office but a couple of
From all I hear it is splendid pay and very little to          wooden chairs and a deal table, behind which sat a
do.’                                                           small man with a head that was even redder than

                                                         139
                                         The Red-Headed League

mine. He said a few words to each candidate as               When shall you be able to enter upon your new
he came up, and then he always managed to find                duties?’
some fault in them which would disqualify them.                  “ ‘Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a busi-
Getting a vacancy did not seem to be such a very             ness already,’ said I.
easy matter, after all. However, when our turn                   “ ‘Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson!’ said
came the little man was much more favourable to              Vincent Spaulding. ‘I should be able to look after
me than to any of the others, and he closed the              that for you.’
door as we entered, so that he might have a pri-
                                                                 “ ‘What would be the hours?’ I asked.
vate word with us.
                                                                 “ ‘Ten to two.’
   “ ‘This is Mr. Jabez Wilson,’ said my assistant,
                                                                 “Now a pawnbroker’s business is mostly done
‘and he is willing to fill a vacancy in the League.’
                                                             of an evening, Mr. Holmes, especially Thursday
    “ ‘And he is admirably suited for it,’ the other         and Friday evening, which is just before pay-day;
answered. ‘He has every requirement. I cannot re-            so it would suit me very well to earn a little in the
call when I have seen anything so fine.’ He took a            mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a
step backward, cocked his head on one side, and              good man, and that he would see to anything that
gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then            turned up.
suddenly he plunged forward, wrung my hand,                      “ ‘That would suit me very well,’ said I. ‘And
and congratulated me warmly on my success.                   the pay?’
    “ ‘It would be injustice to hesitate,’ said he.              “ ‘Is £4 a week.’
‘You will, however, I am sure, excuse me for taking              “ ‘And the work?’
an obvious precaution.’ With that he seized my
                                                                 “ ‘Is purely nominal.’
hair in both his hands, and tugged until I yelled
                                                                 “ ‘What do you call purely nominal?’
with the pain. ‘There is water in your eyes,’ said
he as he released me. ‘I perceive that all is as it              “ ‘Well, you have to be in the office, or at least
should be. But we have to be careful, for we have            in the building, the whole time. If you leave, you
twice been deceived by wigs and once by paint. I             forfeit your whole position forever. The will is very
could tell you tales of cobbler’s wax which would            clear upon that point. You don’t comply with the
disgust you with human nature.’ He stepped over              conditions if you budge from the office during that
to the window and shouted through it at the top              time.’
of his voice that the vacancy was filled. A groan of              “ ‘It’s only four hours a day, and I should not
disappointment came up from below, and the folk              think of leaving,’ said I.
all trooped away in different directions until there             “ ‘No excuse will avail,’ said Mr. Duncan Ross;
was not a red-head to be seen except my own and              ‘neither sickness nor business nor anything else.
that of the manager.                                         There you must stay, or you lose your billet.’
    “ ‘My name,’ said he, ‘is Mr. Duncan Ross, and               “ ‘And the work?’
I am myself one of the pensioners upon the fund                  “ ‘Is to copy out the “Encyclopaedia Britan-
left by our noble benefactor. Are you a married              nica.” There is the first volume of it in that press.
man, Mr. Wilson? Have you a family?’                         You must find your own ink, pens, and blotting-
   “I answered that I had not.                               paper, but we provide this table and chair. Will
                                                             you be ready to-morrow?’
   “His face fell immediately.
                                                                 “ ‘Certainly,’ I answered.
   “ ‘Dear me!’ he said gravely, ‘that is very se-
                                                                 “ ‘Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me
rious indeed! I am sorry to hear you say that.
                                                             congratulate you once more on the important po-
The fund was, of course, for the propagation and
                                                             sition which you have been fortunate enough to
spread of the red-heads as well as for their main-
                                                             gain.’ He bowed me out of the room and I went
tenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you
                                                             home with my assistant, hardly knowing what to
should be a bachelor.’
                                                             say or do, I was so pleased at my own good for-
     “My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I          tune.
thought that I was not to have the vacancy after                 “Well, I thought over the matter all day, and
all; but after thinking it over for a few minutes he         by evening I was in low spirits again; for I had
said that it would be all right.                             quite persuaded myself that the whole affair must
    “ ‘In the case of another,’ said he, ‘the objec-         be some great hoax or fraud, though what its ob-
tion might be fatal, but we must stretch a point in          ject might be I could not imagine. It seemed al-
favour of a man with such a head of hair as yours.           together past belief that anyone could make such

                                                       140
                                         The Red-Headed League

a will, or that they would pay such a sum for do-             Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt an-
ing anything so simple as copying out the ‘Ency-              nouncement and the rueful face behind it, until the
clopaedia Britannica.’ Vincent Spaulding did what             comical side of the affair so completely overtopped
he could to cheer me up, but by bedtime I had rea-            every other consideration that we both burst out
soned myself out of the whole thing. However, in              into a roar of laughter.
the morning I determined to have a look at it any-                “I cannot see that there is anything very
how, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with              funny,” cried our client, flushing up to the roots
a quill-pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I            of his flaming head. “If you can do nothing better
started off for Pope’s Court.                                 than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere.”
   “Well, to my surprise and delight, everything                  “No, no,” cried Holmes, shoving him back into
was as right as possible. The table was set out               the chair from which he had half risen. “I really
ready for me, and Mr. Duncan Ross was there to                wouldn’t miss your case for the world. It is most
see that I got fairly to work. He started me off              refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you will ex-
upon the letter A, and then he left me; but he                cuse my saying so, something just a little funny
would drop in from time to time to see that all was           about it. Pray what steps did you take when you
right with me. At two o’clock he bade me good-                found the card upon the door?”
day, complimented me upon the amount that I had                   “I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to
written, and locked the door of the office after me.           do. Then I called at the offices round, but none
    “This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and              of them seemed to know anything about it. Fi-
on Saturday the manager came in and planked                   nally, I went to the landlord, who is an accountant
down four golden sovereigns for my week’s work.               living on the ground-floor, and I asked him if he
It was the same next week, and the same the week              could tell me what had become of the Red-headed
after. Every morning I was there at ten, and ev-              League. He said that he had never heard of any
ery afternoon I left at two. By degrees Mr. Duncan            such body. Then I asked him who Mr. Duncan
Ross took to coming in only once of a morning,                Ross was. He answered that the name was new to
and then, after a time, he did not come in at all.            him.
Still, of course, I never dared to leave the room for            “ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘the gentleman at No. 4.’
an instant, for I was not sure when he might come,               “ ‘What, the red-headed man?’
and the billet was such a good one, and suited me
so well, that I would not risk the loss of it.                   “ ‘Yes.’
                                                                  “ ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘his name was William Mor-
   “Eight weeks passed away like this, and I had              ris. He was a solicitor and was using my room as
written about Abbots and Archery and Armour                   a temporary convenience until his new premises
and Architecture and Attica, and hoped with dili-             were ready. He moved out yesterday.’
gence that I might get on to the B’s before very
long. It cost me something in foolscap, and I                    “ ‘Where could I find him?’
had pretty nearly filled a shelf with my writings.                “ ‘Oh, at his new offices. He did tell me the ad-
And then suddenly the whole business came to an               dress. Yes, 17 King Edward Street, near St. Paul’s.’
end.”                                                             “I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got
   “To an end?”                                               to that address it was a manufactory of artificial
                                                              knee-caps, and no one in it had ever heard of ei-
    “Yes, sir. And no later than this morning. I              ther Mr. William Morris or Mr. Duncan Ross.”
went to my work as usual at ten o’clock, but the
                                                                 “And what did you do then?” asked Holmes.
door was shut and locked, with a little square of
cardboard hammered on to the middle of the panel                 “I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I
with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for your-           took the advice of my assistant. But he could not
self.”                                                        help me in any way. He could only say that if I
                                                              waited I should hear by post. But that was not
   He held up a piece of white cardboard about                quite good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to
the size of a sheet of note-paper. It read in this            lose such a place without a struggle, so, as I had
fashion:                                                      heard that you were good enough to give advice
             The Red-headed League                            to poor folk who were in need of it, I came right
                       is                                     away to you.”
                   Dissolved                                     “And you did very wisely,” said Holmes.
                 October 9, 1890.                             “Your case is an exceedingly remarkable one, and I

                                                        141
                                          The Red-Headed League

shall be happy to look into it. From what you have                “That will do, Mr. Wilson. I shall be happy to
told me I think that it is possible that graver issues         give you an opinion upon the subject in the course
hang from it than might at first sight appear.”                 of a day or two. To-day is Saturday, and I hope
    “Grave enough!” said Mr. Jabez Wilson. “Why,               that by Monday we may come to a conclusion.”
I have lost four pound a week.”                                   “Well, Watson,” said Holmes when our visitor
    “As far as you are personally concerned,” re-              had left us, “what do you make of it all?”
marked Holmes, “I do not see that you have any                     “I make nothing of it,” I answered frankly. “It
grievance against this extraordinary league. On                is a most mysterious business.”
the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by                  “As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a
some £30, to say nothing of the minute knowledge               thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is
which you have gained on every subject which                   your commonplace, featureless crimes which are
comes under the letter A. You have lost nothing                really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the
by them.”                                                      most difficult to identify. But I must be prompt
    “No, sir. But I want to find out about them, and            over this matter.”
who they are, and what their object was in playing                “What are you going to do, then?” I asked.
this prank—if it was a prank—upon me. It was a
pretty expensive joke for them, for it cost them two               “To smoke,” he answered. “It is quite a three
and thirty pounds.”                                            pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to
                                                               me for fifty minutes.” He curled himself up in his
    “We shall endeavour to clear up these points               chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his hawk-
for you. And, first, one or two questions, Mr. Wil-             like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed
son. This assistant of yours who first called your              and his black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill
attention to the advertisement—how long had he                 of some strange bird. I had come to the conclusion
been with you?”                                                that he had dropped asleep, and indeed was nod-
   “About a month then.”                                       ding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his
   “How did he come?”                                          chair with the gesture of a man who has made up
                                                               his mind and put his pipe down upon the mantel-
   “In answer to an advertisement.”
                                                               piece.
   “Was he the only applicant?”
                                                                  “Sarasate plays at the St. James’s Hall this after-
   “No, I had a dozen.”                                        noon,” he remarked. “What do you think, Watson?
   “Why did you pick him?”                                     Could your patients spare you for a few hours?”
   “Because he was handy and would come                           “I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is
cheap.”                                                        never very absorbing.”
   “At half-wages, in fact.”                                      “Then put on your hat and come. I am going
   “Yes.”                                                      through the City first, and we can have some lunch
                                                               on the way. I observe that there is a good deal of
   “What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?”
                                                               German music on the programme, which is rather
   “Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no             more to my taste than Italian or French. It is intro-
hair on his face, though he’s not short of thirty.             spective, and I want to introspect. Come along!”
Has a white splash of acid upon his forehead.”
                                                                   We travelled by the Underground as far as
    Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable ex-             Aldersgate; and a short walk took us to Saxe-
citement. “I thought as much,” said he. “Have                  Coburg Square, the scene of the singular story
you ever observed that his ears are pierced for ear-           which we had listened to in the morning. It was
rings?”                                                        a poky, little, shabby-genteel place, where four
    “Yes, sir. He told me that a gipsy had done it             lines of dingy two-storied brick houses looked out
for him when he was a lad.”                                    into a small railed-in enclosure, where a lawn of
   “Hum!” said Holmes, sinking back in deep                    weedy grass and a few clumps of faded laurel-
thought. “He is still with you?”                               bushes made a hard fight against a smoke-laden
                                                               and uncongenial atmosphere. Three gilt balls and
   “Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him.”
                                                               a brown board with “Jabez Wilson” in white let-
   “And has your business been attended to in                  ters, upon a corner house, announced the place
your absence?”                                                 where our red-headed client carried on his busi-
   “Nothing to complain of, sir.       There’s never           ness. Sherlock Holmes stopped in front of it with
very much to do of a morning.”                                 his head on one side and looked it all over, with

                                                         142
                                         The Red-Headed League

his eyes shining brightly between puckered lids.              newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City
Then he walked slowly up the street, and then                 and Suburban Bank, the Vegetarian Restaurant,
down again to the corner, still looking keenly at             and McFarlane’s carriage-building depot. That
the houses. Finally he returned to the pawnbro-               carries us right on to the other block. And now,
ker’s, and, having thumped vigorously upon the                Doctor, we’ve done our work, so it’s time we
pavement with his stick two or three times, he                had some play. A sandwich and a cup of coffee,
went up to the door and knocked. It was instantly             and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness
opened by a bright-looking, clean-shaven young                and delicacy and harmony, and there are no red-
fellow, who asked him to step in.                             headed clients to vex us with their conundrums.”
    “Thank you,” said Holmes, “I only wished                      My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being
to ask you how you would go from here to the                  himself not only a very capable performer but a
Strand.”                                                      composer of no ordinary merit. All the afternoon
   “Third right, fourth left,” answered the assis-            he sat in the stalls wrapped in the most perfect
tant promptly, closing the door.                              happiness, gently waving his long, thin fingers in
                                                              time to the music, while his gently smiling face
   “Smart fellow, that,” observed Holmes as we
                                                              and his languid, dreamy eyes were as unlike those
walked away. “He is, in my judgment, the fourth
                                                              of Holmes the sleuth-hound, Holmes the relent-
smartest man in London, and for daring I am not
                                                              less, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as
sure that he has not a claim to be third. I have
                                                              it was possible to conceive. In his singular charac-
known something of him before.”
                                                              ter the dual nature alternately asserted itself, and
   “Evidently,” said I, “Mr. Wilson’s assistant               his extreme exactness and astuteness represented,
counts for a good deal in this mystery of the Red-            as I have often thought, the reaction against the
headed League. I am sure that you inquired your               poetic and contemplative mood which occasion-
way merely in order that you might see him.”                  ally predominated in him. The swing of his nature
   “Not him.”                                                 took him from extreme languor to devouring en-
   “What then?”                                               ergy; and, as I knew well, he was never so truly
                                                              formidable as when, for days on end, he had been
   “The knees of his trousers.”                               lounging in his armchair amid his improvisations
   “And what did you see?”                                    and his black-letter editions. Then it was that the
   “What I expected to see.”                                  lust of the chase would suddenly come upon him,
                                                              and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise
   “Why did you beat the pavement?”
                                                              to the level of intuition, until those who were un-
   “My dear doctor, this is a time for observation,           acquainted with his methods would look askance
not for talk. We are spies in an enemy’s country.             at him as on a man whose knowledge was not that
We know something of Saxe-Coburg Square. Let                  of other mortals. When I saw him that afternoon
us now explore the parts which lie behind it.”                so enwrapped in the music at St. James’s Hall I
    The road in which we found ourselves as we                felt that an evil time might be coming upon those
turned round the corner from the retired Saxe-                whom he had set himself to hunt down.
Coburg Square presented as great a contrast to it                “You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor,” he
as the front of a picture does to the back. It was            remarked as we emerged.
one of the main arteries which conveyed the traf-
fic of the City to the north and west. The road-                  “Yes, it would be as well.”
way was blocked with the immense stream of com-                   “And I have some business to do which will
merce flowing in a double tide inward and out-                 take some hours. This business at Coburg Square
ward, while the footpaths were black with the hur-            is serious.”
rying swarm of pedestrians. It was difficult to re-               “Why serious?”
alise as we looked at the line of fine shops and
                                                                 “A considerable crime is in contemplation. I
stately business premises that they really abutted
                                                              have every reason to believe that we shall be in
on the other side upon the faded and stagnant
                                                              time to stop it. But to-day being Saturday rather
square which we had just quitted.
                                                              complicates matters. I shall want your help to-
    “Let me see,” said Holmes, standing at the cor-           night.”
ner and glancing along the line, “I should like just
                                                                 “At what time?”
to remember the order of the houses here. It is a
hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of Lon-                 “Ten will be early enough.”
don. There is Mortimer’s, the tobacconist, the little            “I shall be at Baker Street at ten.”

                                                        143
                                         The Red-Headed League

   “Very well. And, I say, Doctor, there may be              my saying so, just a little too theoretical and fan-
some little danger, so kindly put your army re-              tastic, but he has the makings of a detective in him.
volver in your pocket.” He waved his hand, turned            It is not too much to say that once or twice, as in
on his heel, and disappeared in an instant among             that business of the Sholto murder and the Agra
the crowd.                                                   treasure, he has been more nearly correct than the
    I trust that I am not more dense than my neigh-          official force.”
bours, but I was always oppressed with a sense of                “Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right,”
my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock                said the stranger with deference. “Still, I confess
Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard,                  that I miss my rubber. It is the first Saturday night
I had seen what he had seen, and yet from his                for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my
words it was evident that he saw clearly not only            rubber.”
what had happened but what was about to hap-
pen, while to me the whole business was still con-              “I think you will find,” said Sherlock Holmes,
fused and grotesque. As I drove home to my house             “that you will play for a higher stake to-night than
in Kensington I thought over it all, from the ex-            you have ever done yet, and that the play will be
traordinary story of the red-headed copier of the            more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather, the
“Encyclopaedia” down to the visit to Saxe-Coburg             stake will be some £30,000; and for you, Jones, it
Square, and the ominous words with which he had              will be the man upon whom you wish to lay your
parted from me. What was this nocturnal expedi-              hands.”
tion, and why should I go armed? Where were                      “John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and
we going, and what were we to do? I had the                  forger. He’s a young man, Mr. Merryweather, but
hint from Holmes that this smooth-faced pawn-                he is at the head of his profession, and I would
broker’s assistant was a formidable man—a man                rather have my bracelets on him than on any crim-
who might play a deep game. I tried to puzzle it             inal in London. He’s a remarkable man, is young
out, but gave it up in despair and set the matter            John Clay. His grandfather was a royal duke, and
aside until night should bring an explanation.               he himself has been to Eton and Oxford. His brain
    It was a quarter-past nine when I started from           is as cunning as his fingers, and though we meet
home and made my way across the Park, and                    signs of him at every turn, we never know where
so through Oxford Street to Baker Street. Two                to find the man himself. He’ll crack a crib in Scot-
hansoms were standing at the door, and as I en-              land one week, and be raising money to build an
tered the passage I heard the sound of voices from           orphanage in Cornwall the next. I’ve been on his
above. On entering his room I found Holmes in an-            track for years and have never set eyes on him yet.”
imated conversation with two men, one of whom I                  “I hope that I may have the pleasure of intro-
recognised as Peter Jones, the official police agent,         ducing you to-night. I’ve had one or two little
while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man,             turns also with Mr. John Clay, and I agree with
with a very shiny hat and oppressively respectable           you that he is at the head of his profession. It is
frock-coat.                                                  past ten, however, and quite time that we started.
   “Ha! Our party is complete,” said Holmes,                 If you two will take the first hansom, Watson and
buttoning up his pea-jacket and taking his heavy             I will follow in the second.”
hunting crop from the rack. “Watson, I think you                 Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative
know Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard? Let me intro-              during the long drive and lay back in the cab hum-
duce you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our               ming the tunes which he had heard in the after-
companion in to-night’s adventure.”                          noon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth
    “We’re hunting in couples again, Doctor, you             of gas-lit streets until we emerged into Farrington
see,” said Jones in his consequential way. “Our              Street.
friend here is a wonderful man for starting a chase.
                                                                 “We are close there now,” my friend remarked.
All he wants is an old dog to help him to do the
                                                             “This fellow Merryweather is a bank director, and
running down.”
                                                             personally interested in the matter. I thought it as
   “I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the              well to have Jones with us also. He is not a bad
end of our chase,” observed Mr. Merryweather                 fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profes-
gloomily.                                                    sion. He has one positive virtue. He is as brave as
    “You may place considerable confidence in Mr.             a bulldog and as tenacious as a lobster if he gets
Holmes, sir,” said the police agent loftily. “He has         his claws upon anyone. Here we are, and they are
his own little methods, which are, if he won’t mind          waiting for us.”

                                                       144
                                          The Red-Headed League

    We had reached the same crowded thorough-                  It has become known that we have never had occa-
fare in which we had found ourselves in the morn-              sion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying
ing. Our cabs were dismissed, and, following the               in our cellar. The crate upon which I sit contains
guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down                   2,000 napoleons packed between layers of lead foil.
a narrow passage and through a side door, which                Our reserve of bullion is much larger at present
he opened for us. Within there was a small cor-                than is usually kept in a single branch office, and
ridor, which ended in a very massive iron gate.                the directors have had misgivings upon the sub-
This also was opened, and led down a flight of                  ject.”
winding stone steps, which terminated at another                    “Which were very well justified,” observed
formidable gate. Mr. Merryweather stopped to                   Holmes. “And now it is time that we arranged our
light a lantern, and then conducted us down a                  little plans. I expect that within an hour matters
dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after open-              will come to a head. In the meantime Mr. Mer-
ing a third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which           ryweather, we must put the screen over that dark
was piled all round with crates and massive boxes.             lantern.”
   “You are not very vulnerable from above,”                      “And sit in the dark?”
Holmes remarked as he held up the lantern and
gazed about him.                                                    “I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards
                                                               in my pocket, and I thought that, as we were a par-
    “Nor from below,” said Mr. Merryweather,                           e
                                                               tie carr´e, you might have your rubber after all. But
striking his stick upon the flags which lined the               I see that the enemy’s preparations have gone so
floor. “Why, dear me, it sounds quite hollow!” he               far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And,
remarked, looking up in surprise.                              first of all, we must choose our positions. These
    “I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!”         are daring men, and though we shall take them at
said Holmes severely. “You have already imper-                 a disadvantage, they may do us some harm un-
illed the whole success of our expedition. Might I             less we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate,
beg that you would have the goodness to sit down               and do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then,
upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?”                when I flash a light upon them, close in swiftly.
   The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself                 If they fire, Watson, have no compunction about
upon a crate, with a very injured expression upon              shooting them down.”
his face, while Holmes fell upon his knees upon                    I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top
the floor and, with the lantern and a magnifying                of the wooden case behind which I crouched.
lens, began to examine minutely the cracks be-                 Holmes shot the slide across the front of his
tween the stones. A few seconds sufficed to satisfy             lantern and left us in pitch darkness—such an ab-
him, for he sprang to his feet again and put his               solute darkness as I have never before experienced.
glass in his pocket.                                           The smell of hot metal remained to assure us that
   “We have at least an hour before us,” he re-                the light was still there, ready to flash out at a mo-
marked, “for they can hardly take any steps until              ment’s notice. To me, with my nerves worked up
the good pawnbroker is safely in bed. Then they                to a pitch of expectancy, there was something de-
will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do their           pressing and subduing in the sudden gloom, and
work the longer time they will have for their es-              in the cold dank air of the vault.
cape. We are at present, Doctor—as no doubt you                   “They have but one retreat,” whispered
have divined—in the cellar of the City branch of               Holmes. “That is back through the house into
one of the principal London banks. Mr. Merry-                  Saxe-Coburg Square. I hope that you have done
weather is the chairman of directors, and he will              what I asked you, Jones?”
explain to you that there are reasons why the more                “I have an inspector and two officers waiting at
daring criminals of London should take a consid-               the front door.”
erable interest in this cellar at present.”
                                                                  “Then we have stopped all the holes. And now
   “It is our French gold,” whispered the director.            we must be silent and wait.”
“We have had several warnings that an attempt
might be made upon it.”                                            What a time it seemed! From comparing notes
                                                               afterwards it was but an hour and a quarter, yet it
   “Your French gold?”                                         appeared to me that the night must have almost
    “Yes. We had occasion some months ago to                   gone and the dawn be breaking above us. My
strengthen our resources and borrowed for that                 limbs were weary and stiff, for I feared to change
purpose 30,000 napoleons from the Bank of France.              my position; yet my nerves were worked up to the

                                                         145
                                          The Red-Headed League

highest pitch of tension, and my hearing was so                   “You’ll see your pal again presently,” said
acute that I could not only hear the gentle breath-            Jones. “He’s quicker at climbing down holes than
ing of my companions, but I could distinguish the              I am. Just hold out while I fix the derbies.”
deeper, heavier in-breath of the bulky Jones from
                                                                   “I beg that you will not touch me with your
the thin, sighing note of the bank director. From
                                                               filthy hands,” remarked our prisoner as the hand-
my position I could look over the case in the di-
                                                               cuffs clattered upon his wrists. “You may not be
rection of the floor. Suddenly my eyes caught the
                                                               aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have
glint of a light.
                                                               the goodness, also, when you address me always
    At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone            to say ‘sir’ and ‘please.’ ”
pavement. Then it lengthened out until it became
                                                                   “All right,” said Jones with a stare and a snig-
a yellow line, and then, without any warning or
                                                               ger. “Well, would you please, sir, march upstairs,
sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand ap-
                                                               where we can get a cab to carry your Highness to
peared, a white, almost womanly hand, which felt
                                                               the police-station?”
about in the centre of the little area of light. For a
minute or more the hand, with its writhing fingers,                “That is better,” said John Clay serenely. He
protruded out of the floor. Then it was withdrawn               made a sweeping bow to the three of us and
as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark again             walked quietly off in the custody of the detective.
save the single lurid spark which marked a chink                   “Really, Mr. Holmes,” said Mr. Merryweather
between the stones.                                            as we followed them from the cellar, “I do not
     Its disappearance, however, was but momen-                know how the bank can thank you or repay you.
tary. With a rending, tearing sound, one of the                There is no doubt that you have detected and de-
broad, white stones turned over upon its side and              feated in the most complete manner one of the
left a square, gaping hole, through which streamed             most determined attempts at bank robbery that
the light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a           have ever come within my experience.”
clean-cut, boyish face, which looked keenly about
                                                                   “I have had one or two little scores of my own
it, and then, with a hand on either side of the aper-
                                                               to settle with Mr. John Clay,” said Holmes. “I have
ture, drew itself shoulder-high and waist-high, un-
                                                               been at some small expense over this matter, which
til one knee rested upon the edge. In another in-
                                                               I shall expect the bank to refund, but beyond that
stant he stood at the side of the hole and was haul-
                                                               I am amply repaid by having had an experience
ing after him a companion, lithe and small like
                                                               which is in many ways unique, and by hearing
himself, with a pale face and a shock of very red
                                                               the very remarkable narrative of the Red-headed
hair.
                                                               League.”
   “It’s all clear,” he whispered. “Have you the
chisel and the bags? Great Scott! Jump, Archie,                    “You see, Watson,” he explained in the early
jump, and I’ll swing for it!”                                  hours of the morning as we sat over a glass of
                                                               whisky and soda in Baker Street, “it was perfectly
    Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized                  obvious from the first that the only possible object
the intruder by the collar. The other dived down               of this rather fantastic business of the advertise-
the hole, and I heard the sound of rending cloth               ment of the League, and the copying of the ‘En-
as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light flashed              cyclopaedia,’ must be to get this not over-bright
upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes’ hunting             pawnbroker out of the way for a number of hours
crop came down on the man’s wrist, and the pistol              every day. It was a curious way of managing it,
clinked upon the stone floor.                                   but, really, it would be difficult to suggest a bet-
   “It’s no use, John Clay,” said Holmes blandly.              ter. The method was no doubt suggested to Clay’s
“You have no chance at all.”                                   ingenious mind by the colour of his accomplice’s
   “So I see,” the other answered with the utmost              hair. The £4 a week was a lure which must draw
coolness. “I fancy that my pal is all right, though I          him, and what was it to them, who were playing
see you have got his coat-tails.”                              for thousands? They put in the advertisement, one
                                                               rogue has the temporary office, the other rogue in-
   “There are three men waiting for him at the
                                                               cites the man to apply for it, and together they
door,” said Holmes.
                                                               manage to secure his absence every morning in the
   “Oh, indeed! You seem to have done the thing                week. From the time that I heard of the assistant
very completely. I must compliment you.”                       having come for half wages, it was obvious to me
   “And I you,” Holmes answered. “Your red-                    that he had some strong motive for securing the
headed idea was very new and effective.”                       situation.”

                                                         146
  “But how could you guess what the motive             they were burrowing for. I walked round the cor-
was?“                                                  ner, saw the City and Suburban Bank abutted on
                                                       our friend’s premises, and felt that I had solved my
    “Had there been women in the house, I should       problem. When you drove home after the concert I
have suspected a mere vulgar intrigue. That, how-      called upon Scotland Yard and upon the chairman
ever, was out of the question. The man’s busi-         of the bank directors, with the result that you have
ness was a small one, and there was nothing in         seen.”
his house which could account for such elabo-
                                                          “And how could you tell that they would make
rate preparations, and such an expenditure as they
                                                       their attempt to-night?” I asked.
were at. It must, then, be something out of the
house. What could it be? I thought of the assis-           “Well, when they closed their League offices
tant’s fondness for photography, and his trick of      that was a sign that they cared no longer about
vanishing into the cellar. The cellar! There was the   Mr. Jabez Wilson’s presence—in other words, that
end of this tangled clue. Then I made inquiries as     they had completed their tunnel. But it was es-
to this mysterious assistant and found that I had to   sential that they should use it soon, as it might be
deal with one of the coolest and most daring crim-     discovered, or the bullion might be removed. Sat-
inals in London. He was doing something in the         urday would suit them better than any other day,
cellar—something which took many hours a day           as it would give them two days for their escape.
for months on end. What could it be, once more?        For all these reasons I expected them to come to-
I could think of nothing save that he was running      night.”
a tunnel to some other building.                          “You reasoned it out beautifully,” I exclaimed
                                                       in unfeigned admiration. “It is so long a chain,
    “So far I had got when we went to visit the        and yet every link rings true.”
scene of action. I surprised you by beating upon
                                                           “It saved me from ennui,” he answered, yawn-
the pavement with my stick. I was ascertaining
                                                       ing. “Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me. My
whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind.
                                                       life is spent in one long effort to escape from the
It was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as
                                                       commonplaces of existence. These little problems
I hoped, the assistant answered it. We have had
                                                       help me to do so.”
some skirmishes, but we had never set eyes upon
each other before. I hardly looked at his face.           “And you are a benefactor of the race,” said I.
His knees were what I wished to see. You must              He shrugged his shoulders. “Well, perhaps,
yourself have remarked how worn, wrinkled, and         after all, it is of some little use,” he remarked.
stained they were. They spoke of those hours of        “ ‘L’homme c’est rien—l’oeuvre c’est tout,’ as Gustave
burrowing. The only remaining point was what           Flaubert wrote to George Sand.”
A Case of Identity
M
                                             A Case of Identity

           y dear fellow,” said Sherlock Holmes                hurling them at his wife, which, you will allow, is
            as we sat on either side of the fire in             not an action likely to occur to the imagination of
            his lodgings at Baker Street, “life is in-         the average story-teller. Take a pinch of snuff, Doc-
            finitely stranger than anything which               tor, and acknowledge that I have scored over you
the mind of man could invent. We would not                     in your example.”
dare to conceive the things which are really mere                  He held out his snuffbox of old gold, with a
commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of               great amethyst in the centre of the lid. Its splen-
that window hand in hand, hover over this great                dour was in such contrast to his homely ways and
city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the              simple life that I could not help commenting upon
queer things which are going on, the strange co-               it.
incidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the
wonderful chains of events, working through gen-                   “Ah,” said he, “I forgot that I had not seen you
erations, and leading to the most outr´ results, it
                                         e                     for some weeks. It is a little souvenir from the King
would make all fiction with its conventionalities               of Bohemia in return for my assistance in the case
and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprof-                of the Irene Adler papers.”
itable.”                                                          “And the ring?” I asked, glancing at a remark-
    “And yet I am not convinced of it,” I answered.            able brilliant which sparkled upon his finger.
“The cases which come to light in the papers are,                 “It was from the reigning family of Holland,
as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We                  though the matter in which I served them was of
have in our police reports realism pushed to its ex-           such delicacy that I cannot confide it even to you,
treme limits, and yet the result is, it must be con-           who have been good enough to chronicle one or
fessed, neither fascinating nor artistic.”                     two of my little problems.”
   “A certain selection and discretion must be                    “And have you any on hand just now?” I asked
used in producing a realistic effect,” remarked                with interest.
Holmes. “This is wanting in the police report,                     “Some ten or twelve, but none which present
where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the plat-             any feature of interest. They are important, you
itudes of the magistrate than upon the details,                understand, without being interesting. Indeed, I
which to an observer contain the vital essence of              have found that it is usually in unimportant mat-
the whole matter. Depend upon it, there is noth-               ters that there is a field for the observation, and for
ing so unnatural as the commonplace.”                          the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives
    I smiled and shook my head. “I can quite un-               the charm to an investigation. The larger crimes
derstand your thinking so.” I said. “Of course, in             are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime
your position of unofficial adviser and helper to               the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. In these
everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout                cases, save for one rather intricate matter which
three continents, you are brought in contact with              has been referred to me from Marseilles, there is
all that is strange and bizarre. But here”—I picked            nothing which presents any features of interest. It
up the morning paper from the ground—“let us                   is possible, however, that I may have something
put it to a practical test. Here is the first heading           better before very many minutes are over, for this
upon which I come. ‘A husband’s cruelty to his                 is one of my clients, or I am much mistaken.”
wife.’ There is half a column of print, but I know                 He had risen from his chair and was standing
without reading it that it is all perfectly familiar           between the parted blinds gazing down into the
to me. There is, of course, the other woman, the               dull neutral-tinted London street. Looking over
drink, the push, the blow, the bruise, the sympa-              his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement opposite
thetic sister or landlady. The crudest of writers              there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa
could invent nothing more crude.”                              round her neck, and a large curling red feather
    “Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one                in a broad-brimmed hat which was tilted in a co-
for your argument,” said Holmes, taking the pa-                quettish Duchess of Devonshire fashion over her
per and glancing his eye down it. “This is the                 ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up
Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was              in a nervous, hesitating fashion at our windows,
engaged in clearing up some small points in con-               while her body oscillated backward and forward,
nection with it. The husband was a teetotaler, there           and her fingers fidgeted with her glove buttons.
was no other woman, and the conduct complained                 Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer who
of was that he had drifted into the habit of wind-             leaves the bank, she hurried across the road, and
ing up every meal by taking out his false teeth and            we heard the sharp clang of the bell.

                                                         151
                                            A Case of Identity

    “I have seen those symptoms before,” said                 to you, and so at last, as he would do nothing and
Holmes, throwing his cigarette into the fire. “Os-             kept on saying that there was no harm done, it
cillation upon the pavement always means an af-               made me mad, and I just on with my things and
faire de coeur. She would like advice, but is not             came right away to you.”
sure that the matter is not too delicate for commu-               “Your father,” said Holmes, “your stepfather,
nication. And yet even here we may discriminate.              surely, since the name is different.”
When a woman has been seriously wronged by a                      “Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though
man she no longer oscillates, and the usual symp-             it sounds funny, too, for he is only five years and
tom is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it that           two months older than myself.”
there is a love matter, but that the maiden is not so
                                                                  “And your mother is alive?”
much angry as perplexed, or grieved. But here she
                                                                  “Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn’t
comes in person to resolve our doubts.”
                                                              best pleased, Mr. Holmes, when she married again
    As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and              so soon after father’s death, and a man who was
the boy in buttons entered to announce Miss Mary              nearly fifteen years younger than herself. Father
Sutherland, while the lady herself loomed behind              was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road, and
his small black figure like a full-sailed merchant-            he left a tidy business behind him, which mother
man behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes                 carried on with Mr. Hardy, the foreman; but when
welcomed her with the easy courtesy for which he              Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the busi-
was remarkable, and, having closed the door and               ness, for he was very superior, being a traveller in
bowed her into an armchair, he looked her over in             wines. They got £4700 for the goodwill and in-
the minute and yet abstracted fashion which was               terest, which wasn’t near as much as father could
peculiar to him.                                              have got if he had been alive.”
   “Do you not find,” he said, “that with your                     I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impa-
short sight it is a little trying to do so much type-         tient under this rambling and inconsequential nar-
writing?”                                                     rative, but, on the contrary, he had listened with
    “I did at first,” she answered, “but now I know            the greatest concentration of attention.
where the letters are without looking.” Then, sud-                “Your own little income,” he asked, “does it
denly realising the full purport of his words, she            come out of the business?”
gave a violent start and looked up, with fear and                 “Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left
astonishment upon her broad, good-humoured                    me by my uncle Ned in Auckland. It is in New
face. “You’ve heard about me, Mr. Holmes,” she                Zealand stock, paying 4 1 per cent. Two thousand
                                                                                        2
cried, “else how could you know all that?”                    five hundred pounds was the amount, but I can
    “Never mind,” said Holmes, laughing; “it is               only touch the interest.”
my business to know things. Perhaps I have                        “You interest me extremely,” said Holmes.
trained myself to see what others overlook. If not,           “And since you draw so large a sum as a hun-
why should you come to consult me?”                           dred a year, with what you earn into the bargain,
                                                              you no doubt travel a little and indulge yourself in
    “I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from
                                                              every way. I believe that a single lady can get on
Mrs. Etherege, whose husband you found so easy
                                                              very nicely upon an income of about £60.”
when the police and everyone had given him up
                                                                  “I could do with much less than that, Mr.
for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish you would do as
                                                              Holmes, but you understand that as long as I live
much for me. I’m not rich, but still I have a hun-
                                                              at home I don’t wish to be a burden to them, and
dred a year in my own right, besides the little that
                                                              so they have the use of the money just while I am
I make by the machine, and I would give it all to
                                                              staying with them. Of course, that is only just for
know what has become of Mr. Hosmer Angel.”
                                                              the time. Mr. Windibank draws my interest every
    “Why did you come away to consult me in such              quarter and pays it over to mother, and I find that I
a hurry?” asked Sherlock Holmes, with his finger-              can do pretty well with what I earn at typewriting.
tips together and his eyes to the ceiling.                    It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can often do
   Again a startled look came over the some-                  from fifteen to twenty sheets in a day.”
what vacuous face of Miss Mary Sutherland. “Yes,                  “You have made your position very clear to
I did bang out of the house,” she said, “for it               me,” said Holmes. “This is my friend, Dr. Watson,
made me angry to see the easy way in which Mr.                before whom you can speak as freely as before my-
Windibank—that is, my father—took it all. He                  self. Kindly tell us now all about your connection
would not go to the police, and he would not go               with Mr. Hosmer Angel.”

                                                        152
                                            A Case of Identity

    A flush stole over Miss Sutherland’s face, and                  “Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged af-
she picked nervously at the fringe of her jacket.             ter the first walk that we took. Hosmer—Mr.
“I met him first at the gasfitters’ ball,” she said.            Angel—was a cashier in an office in Leadenhall
“They used to send father tickets when he was                 Street—and—”
alive, and then afterwards they remembered us,                     “What office?”
and sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not
                                                                   “That’s the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don’t
wish us to go. He never did wish us to go any-
                                                              know.”
where. He would get quite mad if I wanted so
much as to join a Sunday-school treat. But this                    “Where did he live, then?”
time I was set on going, and I would go; for what                  “He slept on the premises.”
right had he to prevent? He said the folk were not                 “And you don’t know his address?”
fit for us to know, when all father’s friends were                  “No—except that it was Leadenhall Street.”
to be there. And he said that I had nothing fit to
                                                                   “Where did you address your letters, then?”
wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never
so much as taken out of the drawer. At last, when                  “To the Leadenhall Street Post Office, to be left
nothing else would do, he went off to France upon             till called for. He said that if they were sent to
the business of the firm, but we went, mother and              the office he would be chaffed by all the other
I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be our foreman,                clerks about having letters from a lady, so I of-
and it was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel.”                     fered to typewrite them, like he did his, but he
                                                              wouldn’t have that, for he said that when I wrote
   “I suppose,” said Holmes, “that when Mr.                   them they seemed to come from me, but when
Windibank came back from France he was very an-               they were typewritten he always felt that the ma-
noyed at your having gone to the ball.”                       chine had come between us. That will just show
   “Oh, well, he was very good about it. He                   you how fond he was of me, Mr. Holmes, and the
laughed, I remember, and shrugged his shoulders,              little things that he would think of.”
and said there was no use denying anything to a                    “It was most suggestive,” said Holmes. “It has
woman, for she would have her way.”                           long been an axiom of mine that the little things
    “I see. Then at the gasfitters’ ball you met, as           are infinitely the most important. Can you remem-
I understand, a gentleman called Mr. Hosmer An-               ber any other little things about Mr. Hosmer An-
gel.”                                                         gel?”
                                                                   “He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He
    “Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called
                                                              would rather walk with me in the evening than
next day to ask if we had got home all safe, and af-
                                                              in the daylight, for he said that he hated to be con-
ter that we met him—that is to say, Mr. Holmes, I
                                                              spicuous. Very retiring and gentlemanly he was.
met him twice for walks, but after that father came
                                                              Even his voice was gentle. He’d had the quinsy
back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come
                                                              and swollen glands when he was young, he told
to the house any more.”
                                                              me, and it had left him with a weak throat, and a
   “No?”                                                      hesitating, whispering fashion of speech. He was
    “Well, you know father didn’t like anything of            always well dressed, very neat and plain, but his
the sort. He wouldn’t have any visitors if he could           eyes were weak, just as mine are, and he wore
help it, and he used to say that a woman should be            tinted glasses against the glare.”
happy in her own family circle. But then, as I used                “Well, and what happened when Mr.
to say to mother, a woman wants her own circle to             Windibank, your stepfather, returned to France?”
begin with, and I had not got mine yet.”                           “Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again
  “But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he                     and proposed that we should marry before father
make no attempt to see you?”                                  came back. He was in dreadful earnest and made
                                                              me swear, with my hands on the Testament, that
   “Well, father was going off to France again in             whatever happened I would always be true to him.
a week, and Hosmer wrote and said that it would               Mother said he was quite right to make me swear,
be safer and better not to see each other until he            and that it was a sign of his passion. Mother was
had gone. We could write in the meantime, and he              all in his favour from the first and was even fonder
used to write every day. I took the letters in in the         of him than I was. Then, when they talked of mar-
morning, so there was no need for father to know.”            rying within the week, I began to ask about fa-
   “Were you engaged to the gentleman at this                 ther; but they both said never to mind about fa-
time?”                                                        ther, but just to tell him afterwards, and mother

                                                        153
                                            A Case of Identity

said she would make it all right with him. I didn’t             “She was angry, and said that I was never to
quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that            speak of the matter again.”
I should ask his leave, as he was only a few years              “And your father? Did you tell him?”
older than me; but I didn’t want to do anything on
the sly, so I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the             “Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that
company has its French offices, but the letter came           something had happened, and that I should hear
back to me on the very morning of the wedding.”              of Hosmer again. As he said, what interest could
                                                             anyone have in bringing me to the doors of the
   “It missed him, then?”                                    church, and then leaving me? Now, if he had bor-
   “Yes, sir; for he had started to England just be-         rowed my money, or if he had married me and got
fore it arrived.”                                            my money settled on him, there might be some
                                                             reason, but Hosmer was very independent about
   “Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was               money and never would look at a shilling of mine.
arranged, then, for the Friday. Was it to be in              And yet, what could have happened? And why
church?”                                                     could he not write? Oh, it drives me half-mad to
    “Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St.         think of it, and I can’t sleep a wink at night.” She
Saviour’s, near King’s Cross, and we were to have            pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff and
breakfast afterwards at the St. Pancras Hotel. Hos-          began to sob heavily into it.
mer came for us in a hansom, but as there were                  “I shall glance into the case for you,” said
two of us he put us both into it and stepped him-            Holmes, rising, “and I have no doubt that we shall
self into a four-wheeler, which happened to be               reach some definite result. Let the weight of the
the only other cab in the street. We got to the              matter rest upon me now, and do not let your mind
church first, and when the four-wheeler drove up              dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr. Hos-
we waited for him to step out, but he never did,             mer Angel vanish from your memory, as he has
and when the cabman got down from the box and                done from your life.”
looked there was no one there! The cabman said
                                                                “Then you don’t think I’ll see him again?”
that he could not imagine what had become of
him, for he had seen him get in with his own eyes.              “I fear not.”
That was last Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never              “Then what has happened to him?”
seen or heard anything since then to throw any
                                                                 “You will leave that question in my hands. I
light upon what became of him.”
                                                             should like an accurate description of him and any
    “It seems to me that you have been very shame-           letters of his which you can spare.”
fully treated,” said Holmes.                                      “I advertised for him in last Saturday’s Chron-
    “Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to                icle,” said she. “Here is the slip and here are four
leave me so. Why, all the morning he was saying to           letters from him.”
me that, whatever happened, I was to be true; and               “Thank you. And your address?”
that even if something quite unforeseen occurred
                                                                “No. 31 Lyon Place, Camberwell.”
to separate us, I was always to remember that I
was pledged to him, and that he would claim his                 “Mr. Angel’s address you never had, I under-
pledge sooner or later. It seemed strange talk for           stand. Where is your father’s place of business?”
a wedding-morning, but what has happened since                  “He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the
gives a meaning to it.”                                      great claret importers of Fenchurch Street.”
   “Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is,                 “Thank you. You have made your statement
then, that some unforeseen catastrophe has oc-               very clearly. You will leave the papers here, and
curred to him?”                                              remember the advice which I have given you. Let
    “Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some dan-           the whole incident be a sealed book, and do not
ger, or else he would not have talked so. And then           allow it to affect your life.”
I think that what he foresaw happened.”                         “You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot
                                                             do that. I shall be true to Hosmer. He shall find
   “But you have no notion as to what it could
                                                             me ready when he comes back.”
have been?”
                                                                 For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous
   “None.”                                                   face, there was something noble in the simple faith
   “One more question. How did your mother                   of our visitor which compelled our respect. She
take the matter?”                                            laid her little bundle of papers upon the table and

                                                       154
                                            A Case of Identity

went her way, with a promise to come again when-             The double line a little above the wrist, where the
ever she might be summoned.                                  typewritist presses against the table, was beauti-
    Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes             fully defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand
with his fingertips still pressed together, his legs          type, leaves a similar mark, but only on the left
stretched out in front of him, and his gaze directed         arm, and on the side of it farthest from the thumb,
upward to the ceiling. Then he took down from                instead of being right across the broadest part, as
the rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to            this was. I then glanced at her face, and, observing
him as a counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned           the dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I
back in his chair, with the thick blue cloud-wreaths         ventured a remark upon short sight and typewrit-
spinning up from him, and a look of infinite lan-             ing, which seemed to surprise her.”
guor in his face.                                               “It surprised me.”
     “Quite an interesting study, that maiden,” he              “But, surely, it was obvious. I was then much
observed. “I found her more interesting than her             surprised and interested on glancing down to ob-
little problem, which, by the way, is rather a trite         serve that, though the boots which she was wear-
one. You will find parallel cases, if you consult my          ing were not unlike each other, they were really
index, in Andover in ’77, and there was something            odd ones; the one having a slightly decorated toe-
of the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the            cap, and the other a plain one. One was buttoned
idea, however, there were one or two details which           only in the two lower buttons out of five, and the
were new to me. But the maiden herself was most              other at the first, third, and fifth. Now, when you
instructive.”                                                see that a young lady, otherwise neatly dressed,
  “You appeared to read a good deal upon her                 has come away from home with odd boots, half-
which was quite invisible to me,” I remarked.                buttoned, it is no great deduction to say that she
                                                             came away in a hurry.”
    “Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did
not know where to look, and so you missed all                    “And what else?” I asked, keenly interested, as
that was important. I can never bring you to re-             I always was, by my friend’s incisive reasoning.
alise the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness             “I noted, in passing, that she had written a note
of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang            before leaving home but after being fully dressed.
from a boot-lace. Now, what did you gather from              You observed that her right glove was torn at the
that woman’s appearance? Describe it.”                       forefinger, but you did not apparently see that both
    “Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad-                  glove and finger were stained with violet ink. She
brimmed straw hat, with a feather of a brickish              had written in a hurry and dipped her pen too
red. Her jacket was black, with black beads sewn             deep. It must have been this morning, or the mark
upon it, and a fringe of little black jet ornaments.         would not remain clear upon the finger. All this is
Her dress was brown, rather darker than coffee               amusing, though rather elementary, but I must go
colour, with a little purple plush at the neck and           back to business, Watson. Would you mind read-
sleeves. Her gloves were greyish and were worn               ing me the advertised description of Mr. Hosmer
through at the right forefinger. Her boots I didn’t           Angel?”
observe. She had small round, hanging gold ear-                 I held the little printed slip to the light.
rings, and a general air of being fairly well-to-do
in a vulgar, comfortable, easy-going way.”                          “Missing,” it said, “on the morning
                                                                  of the fourteenth, a gentleman named
   Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly to-                   Hosmer Angel. About five ft. seven in.
gether and chuckled.                                              in height; strongly built, sallow com-
    “’Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along                   plexion, black hair, a little bald in the
wonderfully. You have really done very well in-                   centre, bushy, black side-whiskers and
deed. It is true that you have missed everything                  moustache; tinted glasses, slight infir-
of importance, but you have hit upon the method,                  mity of speech. Was dressed, when
and you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust                  last seen, in black frock-coat faced with
to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate                   silk, black waistcoat, gold Albert chain,
yourself upon details. My first glance is always                   and grey Harris tweed trousers, with
at a woman’s sleeve. In a man it is perhaps bet-                  brown gaiters over elastic-sided boots.
ter first to take the knee of the trouser. As you                  Known to have been employed in an
observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves,                   office in Leadenhall Street. Anybody
which is a most useful material for showing traces.               bringing—”

                                                       155
                                            A Case of Identity

    “That will do,” said Holmes. “As to the let-             and drive to Baker Street, half afraid that I might
ters,” he continued, glancing over them, “they are                                         e
                                                             be too late to assist at the d´ nouement of the lit-
very commonplace. Absolutely no clue in them to              tle mystery. I found Sherlock Holmes alone, how-
Mr. Angel, save that he quotes Balzac once. There            ever, half asleep, with his long, thin form curled
is one remarkable point, however, which will no              up in the recesses of his armchair. A formidable
doubt strike you.”                                           array of bottles and test-tubes, with the pungent
   “They are typewritten,” I remarked.                       cleanly smell of hydrochloric acid, told me that he
                                                             had spent his day in the chemical work which was
    “Not only that, but the signature is typewrit-
                                                             so dear to him.
ten. Look at the neat little ‘Hosmer Angel’ at the
bottom. There is a date, you see, but no super-                 “Well, have you solved it?” I asked as I entered.
scription except Leadenhall Street, which is rather             “Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta.”
vague. The point about the signature is very sug-               “No, no, the mystery!” I cried.
gestive—in fact, we may call it conclusive.”
                                                                 “Oh, that! I thought of the salt that I have
   “Of what?”                                                been working upon. There was never any mystery
  “My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see             in the matter, though, as I said yesterday, some
how strongly it bears upon the case?”                        of the details are of interest. The only drawback
    “I cannot say that I do unless it were that he           is that there is no law, I fear, that can touch the
wished to be able to deny his signature if an ac-            scoundrel.”
tion for breach of promise were instituted.”                    “Who was he, then, and what was his object in
                                                             deserting Miss Sutherland?”
   “No, that was not the point. However, I shall
write two letters, which should settle the matter.               The question was hardly out of my mouth, and
One is to a firm in the City, the other is to the             Holmes had not yet opened his lips to reply, when
young lady’s stepfather, Mr. Windibank, asking               we heard a heavy footfall in the passage and a tap
him whether he could meet us here at six o’clock             at the door.
tomorrow evening. It is just as well that we should              “This is the girl’s stepfather, Mr. James
do business with the male relatives. And now,                Windibank,” said Holmes. “He has written to me
Doctor, we can do nothing until the answers to               to say that he would be here at six. Come in!”
those letters come, so we may put our little prob-               The man who entered was a sturdy, middle-
lem upon the shelf for the interim.”                         sized fellow, some thirty years of age, clean-
    I had had so many reasons to believe in my               shaven, and sallow-skinned, with a bland, insin-
friend’s subtle powers of reasoning and extraordi-           uating manner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp
nary energy in action that I felt that he must have          and penetrating grey eyes. He shot a questioning
some solid grounds for the assured and easy de-              glance at each of us, placed his shiny top-hat upon
meanour with which he treated the singular mys-              the sideboard, and with a slight bow sidled down
tery which he had been called upon to fathom.                into the nearest chair.
Once only had I known him to fail, in the case of               “Good-evening, Mr. James Windibank,” said
the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler photo-            Holmes. “I think that this typewritten letter is
graph; but when I looked back to the weird busi-             from you, in which you made an appointment
ness of the Sign of Four, and the extraordinary cir-         with me for six o’clock?”
cumstances connected with the Study in Scarlet, I
                                                                  “Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I
felt that it would be a strange tangle indeed which
                                                             am not quite my own master, you know. I am sorry
he could not unravel.
                                                             that Miss Sutherland has troubled you about this
    I left him then, still puffing at his black clay          little matter, for I think it is far better not to wash
pipe, with the conviction that when I came again             linen of the sort in public. It was quite against my
on the next evening I would find that he held in              wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable,
his hands all the clues which would lead up to the           impulsive girl, as you may have noticed, and she
identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss              is not easily controlled when she has made up her
Mary Sutherland.                                             mind on a point. Of course, I did not mind you
    A professional case of great gravity was engag-          so much, as you are not connected with the offi-
ing my own attention at the time, and the whole of           cial police, but it is not pleasant to have a family
next day I was busy at the bedside of the sufferer.          misfortune like this noised abroad. Besides, it is a
It was not until close upon six o’clock that I found         useless expense, for how could you possibly find
myself free and was able to spring into a hansom             this Hosmer Angel?”

                                                       156
                                              A Case of Identity

   “On the contrary,” said Holmes quietly; “I have                  “I am very much afraid that it is not. But be-
every reason to believe that I will succeed in dis-             tween ourselves, Windibank, it was as cruel and
covering Mr. Hosmer Angel.”                                     selfish and heartless a trick in a petty way as ever
   Mr. Windibank gave a violent start and                       came before me. Now, let me just run over the
dropped his gloves. “I am delighted to hear it,”                course of events, and you will contradict me if I go
he said.                                                        wrong.”

    “It is a curious thing,” remarked Holmes, “that                 The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his
a typewriter has really quite as much individual-               head sunk upon his breast, like one who is utterly
ity as a man’s handwriting. Unless they are quite               crushed. Holmes stuck his feet up on the corner of
new, no two of them write exactly alike. Some let-              the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his hands
ters get more worn than others, and some wear                   in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as
only on one side. Now, you remark in this note                  it seemed, than to us.
of yours, Mr. Windibank, that in every case there                   “The man married a woman very much older
is some little slurring over of the ‘e,’ and a slight           than himself for her money,” said he, “and he en-
defect in the tail of the ‘r.’ There are fourteen other         joyed the use of the money of the daughter as
characteristics, but those are the more obvious.”               long as she lived with them. It was a consid-
   “We do all our correspondence with this ma-                  erable sum, for people in their position, and the
chine at the office, and no doubt it is a little worn,”          loss of it would have made a serious difference. It
our visitor answered, glancing keenly at Holmes                 was worth an effort to preserve it. The daughter
with his bright little eyes.                                    was of a good, amiable disposition, but affection-
                                                                ate and warm-hearted in her ways, so that it was
    “And now I will show you what is really a very              evident that with her fair personal advantages, and
interesting study, Mr. Windibank,” Holmes contin-               her little income, she would not be allowed to re-
ued. “I think of writing another little monograph               main single long. Now her marriage would mean,
some of these days on the typewriter and its rela-              of course, the loss of a hundred a year, so what
tion to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted          does her stepfather do to prevent it? He takes
some little attention. I have here four letters which           the obvious course of keeping her at home and
purport to come from the missing man. They are                  forbidding her to seek the company of people of
all typewritten. In each case, not only are the ‘e’s’           her own age. But soon he found that that would
slurred and the ‘r’s’ tailless, but you will observe,           not answer forever. She became restive, insisted
if you care to use my magnifying lens, that the                 upon her rights, and finally announced her posi-
fourteen other characteristics to which I have al-              tive intention of going to a certain ball. What does
luded are there as well.”                                       her clever stepfather do then? He conceives an
   Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair and                    idea more creditable to his head than to his heart.
picked up his hat. “I cannot waste time over this               With the connivance and assistance of his wife he
sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes,” he said. “If you           disguised himself, covered those keen eyes with
can catch the man, catch him, and let me know                   tinted glasses, masked the face with a moustache
when you have done it.”                                         and a pair of bushy whiskers, sunk that clear voice
                                                                into an insinuating whisper, and doubly secure on
   “Certainly,” said Holmes, stepping over and                  account of the girl’s short sight, he appears as Mr.
turning the key in the door. “I let you know, then,             Hosmer Angel, and keeps off other lovers by mak-
that I have caught him!”                                        ing love himself.”
    “What! where?” shouted Mr. Windibank, turn-                     “It was only a joke at first,” groaned our visi-
ing white to his lips and glancing about him like a             tor. “We never thought that she would have been
rat in a trap.                                                  so carried away.”
   “Oh, it won’t do—really it won’t,” said Holmes                   “Very likely not. However that may be, the
suavely. “There is no possible getting out of it, Mr.           young lady was very decidedly carried away, and,
Windibank. It is quite too transparent, and it was              having quite made up her mind that her step-
a very bad compliment when you said that it was                 father was in France, the suspicion of treachery
impossible for me to solve so simple a question.                never for an instant entered her mind. She was
That’s right! Sit down and let us talk it over.”                flattered by the gentleman’s attentions, and the
   Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a                   effect was increased by the loudly expressed ad-
ghastly face and a glitter of moisture on his brow.             miration of her mother. Then Mr. Angel began
“It—it’s not actionable,” he stammered.                         to call, for it was obvious that the matter should

                                                          157
be pushed as far as it would go if a real effect         “There’s a cold-blooded scoundrel!” said
were to be produced. There were meetings, and         Holmes, laughing, as he threw himself down into
an engagement, which would finally secure the          his chair once more. “That fellow will rise from
girl’s affections from turning towards anyone else.   crime to crime until he does something very bad,
But the deception could not be kept up forever.       and ends on a gallows. The case has, in some re-
These pretended journeys to France were rather        spects, been not entirely devoid of interest.”
cumbrous. The thing to do was clearly to bring           “I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your
the business to an end in such a dramatic manner      reasoning,” I remarked.
that it would leave a permanent impression upon
                                                          “Well, of course it was obvious from the first
the young lady’s mind and prevent her from look-
                                                      that this Mr. Hosmer Angel must have some strong
ing upon any other suitor for some time to come.
                                                      object for his curious conduct, and it was equally
Hence those vows of fidelity exacted upon a Tes-
                                                      clear that the only man who really profited by the
tament, and hence also the allusions to a possibil-
                                                      incident, as far as we could see, was the stepfa-
ity of something happening on the very morning
                                                      ther. Then the fact that the two men were never
of the wedding. James Windibank wished Miss
                                                      together, but that the one always appeared when
Sutherland to be so bound to Hosmer Angel, and
                                                      the other was away, was suggestive. So were the
so uncertain as to his fate, that for ten years to
                                                      tinted spectacles and the curious voice, which both
come, at any rate, she would not listen to another
                                                      hinted at a disguise, as did the bushy whiskers.
man. As far as the church door he brought her,
                                                      My suspicions were all confirmed by his pecu-
and then, as he could go no farther, he conve-
                                                      liar action in typewriting his signature, which, of
niently vanished away by the old trick of stepping
                                                      course, inferred that his handwriting was so famil-
in at one door of a four-wheeler and out at the
                                                      iar to her that she would recognise even the small-
other. I think that was the chain of events, Mr.
                                                      est sample of it. You see all these isolated facts,
Windibank!”
                                                      together with many minor ones, all pointed in the
   Our visitor had recovered something of his as-     same direction.”
surance while Holmes had been talking, and he            “And how did you verify them?”
rose from his chair now with a cold sneer upon his
                                                          “Having once spotted my man, it was easy
pale face.
                                                      to get corroboration. I knew the firm for which
    “It may be so, or it may not, Mr. Holmes,” said   this man worked. Having taken the printed de-
he, “but if you are so very sharp you ought to be     scription. I eliminated everything from it which
sharp enough to know that it is you who are break-    could be the result of a disguise—the whiskers,
ing the law now, and not me. I have done nothing      the glasses, the voice, and I sent it to the firm, with
actionable from the first, but as long as you keep     a request that they would inform me whether it
that door locked you lay yourself open to an action   answered to the description of any of their trav-
for assault and illegal constraint.”                  ellers. I had already noticed the peculiarities of
                                                      the typewriter, and I wrote to the man himself at
    “The law cannot, as you say, touch you,” said
                                                      his business address asking him if he would come
Holmes, unlocking and throwing open the door,
                                                      here. As I expected, his reply was typewritten and
“yet there never was a man who deserved punish-
                                                      revealed the same trivial but characteristic defects.
ment more. If the young lady has a brother or a
                                                      The same post brought me a letter from Westhouse
friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoul-
                                                      & Marbank, of Fenchurch Street, to say that the de-
ders. By Jove!” he continued, flushing up at the
                                                      scription tallied in every respect with that of their
sight of the bitter sneer upon the man’s face, “it
                                                                                           a
                                                      employee, James Windibank. Voil` tout!”
is not part of my duties to my client, but here’s a
hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat       “And Miss Sutherland?”
myself to—” He took two swift steps to the whip,          “If I tell her she will not believe me. You may
but before he could grasp it there was a wild clat-   remember the old Persian saying, ‘There is dan-
ter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy hall door     ger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger
banged, and from the window we could see Mr.          also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.’
James Windibank running at the top of his speed       There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and
down the road.                                        as much knowledge of the world.”
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
W
                                      The Boscombe Valley Mystery

           e were seated at breakfast one morn-               recent papers in order to master the particulars. It
            ing, my wife and I, when the maid                 seems, from what I gather, to be one of those sim-
            brought in a telegram. It was from                ple cases which are so extremely difficult.”
            Sherlock Holmes and ran in this way:                  “That sounds a little paradoxical.”
     “Have you a couple of days to spare?                         “But it is profoundly true. Singularity is al-
     Have just been wired for from the                        most invariably a clue. The more featureless and
     west of England in connection with                       commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to
     Boscombe Valley tragedy. Shall be glad                   bring it home. In this case, however, they have es-
     if you will come with me. Air and                        tablished a very serious case against the son of the
     scenery perfect. Leave Paddington by                     murdered man.”
     the 11.15.”                                                  “It is a murder, then?”
   “What do you say, dear?” said my wife, looking                 “Well, it is conjectured to be so. I shall take
across at me. “Will you go?”                                  nothing for granted until I have the opportunity of
   “I really don’t know what to say. I have a fairly          looking personally into it. I will explain the state
long list at present.”                                        of things to you, as far as I have been able to un-
   “Oh, Anstruther would do your work for you.                derstand it, in a very few words.
You have been looking a little pale lately. I think               “Boscombe Valley is a country district not very
that the change would do you good, and you                    far from Ross, in Herefordshire. The largest
are always so interested in Mr. Sherlock Holmes’              landed proprietor in that part is a Mr. John Turner,
cases.”                                                       who made his money in Australia and returned
                                                              some years ago to the old country. One of the
   “I should be ungrateful if I were not, seeing
                                                              farms which he held, that of Hatherley, was let
what I gained through one of them,” I answered.
                                                              to Mr. Charles McCarthy, who was also an ex-
“But if I am to go, I must pack at once, for I have
                                                              Australian. The men had known each other in the
only half an hour.”
                                                              colonies, so that it was not unnatural that when
    My experience of camp life in Afghanistan had             they came to settle down they should do so as
at least had the effect of making me a prompt                 near each other as possible. Turner was apparently
and ready traveller. My wants were few and sim-               the richer man, so McCarthy became his tenant
ple, so that in less than the time stated I was in            but still remained, it seems, upon terms of per-
a cab with my valise, rattling away to Padding-               fect equality, as they were frequently together. Mc-
ton Station. Sherlock Holmes was pacing up and                Carthy had one son, a lad of eighteen, and Turner
down the platform, his tall, gaunt figure made                 had an only daughter of the same age, but nei-
even gaunter and taller by his long grey travelling-          ther of them had wives living. They appear to
cloak and close-fitting cloth cap.                             have avoided the society of the neighbouring En-
    “It is really very good of you to come, Wat-              glish families and to have led retired lives, though
son,” said he. “It makes a considerable difference            both the McCarthys were fond of sport and were
to me, having someone with me on whom I can                   frequently seen at the race-meetings of the neigh-
thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either worth-            bourhood. McCarthy kept two servants—a man
less or else biassed. If you will keep the two corner         and a girl. Turner had a considerable household,
seats I shall get the tickets.”                               some half-dozen at the least. That is as much as I
                                                              have been able to gather about the families. Now
    We had the carriage to ourselves save for an im-
                                                              for the facts.
mense litter of papers which Holmes had brought
with him. Among these he rummaged and read,                       “On June 3rd, that is, on Monday last, Mc-
with intervals of note-taking and of meditation,              Carthy left his house at Hatherley about three in
until we were past Reading. Then he suddenly                  the afternoon and walked down to the Boscombe
rolled them all into a gigantic ball and tossed them          Pool, which is a small lake formed by the spread-
up onto the rack.                                             ing out of the stream which runs down the
                                                              Boscombe Valley. He had been out with his
   “Have you heard anything of the case?” he
                                                              serving-man in the morning at Ross, and he had
asked.
                                                              told the man that he must hurry, as he had an ap-
   “Not a word. I have not seen a paper for some              pointment of importance to keep at three. From
days.”                                                        that appointment he never came back alive.
   “The London press has not had very full ac-                    “From Hatherley Farm-house to the Boscombe
counts. I have just been looking through all the              Pool is a quarter of a mile, and two people saw

                                                        161
                                      The Boscombe Valley Mystery

him as he passed over this ground. One was an                     “Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky
old woman, whose name is not mentioned, and                   thing,” answered Holmes thoughtfully. “It may
the other was William Crowder, a game-keeper in               seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you
the employ of Mr. Turner. Both these witnesses                shift your own point of view a little, you may find
depose that Mr. McCarthy was walking alone. The               it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner
game-keeper adds that within a few minutes of his             to something entirely different. It must be con-
seeing Mr. McCarthy pass he had seen his son, Mr.             fessed, however, that the case looks exceedingly
James McCarthy, going the same way with a gun                 grave against the young man, and it is very pos-
under his arm. To the best of his belief, the father          sible that he is indeed the culprit. There are sev-
was actually in sight at the time, and the son was            eral people in the neighbourhood, however, and
following him. He thought no more of the matter               among them Miss Turner, the daughter of the
until he heard in the evening of the tragedy that             neighbouring landowner, who believe in his inno-
had occurred.                                                 cence, and who have retained Lestrade, whom you
    “The two McCarthys were seen after the time               may recollect in connection with the Study in Scar-
when William Crowder, the game-keeper, lost                   let, to work out the case in his interest. Lestrade,
sight of them. The Boscombe Pool is thickly                   being rather puzzled, has referred the case to me,
wooded round, with just a fringe of grass and of              and hence it is that two middle-aged gentlemen
reeds round the edge. A girl of fourteen, Patience            are flying westward at fifty miles an hour instead
Moran, who is the daughter of the lodge-keeper                of quietly digesting their breakfasts at home.”
of the Boscombe Valley estate, was in one of the                  “I am afraid,” said I, “that the facts are so obvi-
woods picking flowers. She states that while she               ous that you will find little credit to be gained out
was there she saw, at the border of the wood and              of this case.”
close by the lake, Mr. McCarthy and his son, and                  “There is nothing more deceptive than an ob-
that they appeared to be having a violent quar-               vious fact,” he answered, laughing. “Besides, we
rel. She heard Mr. McCarthy the elder using very              may chance to hit upon some other obvious facts
strong language to his son, and she saw the lat-              which may have been by no means obvious to Mr.
ter raise up his hand as if to strike his father. She         Lestrade. You know me too well to think that I
was so frightened by their violence that she ran              am boasting when I say that I shall either confirm
away and told her mother when she reached home                or destroy his theory by means which he is quite
that she had left the two McCarthys quarrelling               incapable of employing, or even of understanding.
near Boscombe Pool, and that she was afraid that              To take the first example to hand, I very clearly
they were going to fight. She had hardly said the              perceive that in your bedroom the window is upon
words when young Mr. McCarthy came running                    the right-hand side, and yet I question whether Mr.
up to the lodge to say that he had found his fa-              Lestrade would have noted even so self-evident a
ther dead in the wood, and to ask for the help                thing as that.”
of the lodge-keeper. He was much excited, with-
out either his gun or his hat, and his right hand                “How on earth—”
and sleeve were observed to be stained with fresh                 “My dear fellow, I know you well. I know the
blood. On following him they found the dead                   military neatness which characterises you. You
body stretched out upon the grass beside the pool.            shave every morning, and in this season you shave
The head had been beaten in by repeated blows of              by the sunlight; but since your shaving is less and
some heavy and blunt weapon. The injuries were                less complete as we get farther back on the left
such as might very well have been inflicted by the             side, until it becomes positively slovenly as we get
butt-end of his son’s gun, which was found lying              round the angle of the jaw, it is surely very clear
on the grass within a few paces of the body. Under            that that side is less illuminated than the other. I
these circumstances the young man was instantly               could not imagine a man of your habits looking at
arrested, and a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ having             himself in an equal light and being satisfied with
been returned at the inquest on Tuesday, he was               such a result. I only quote this as a trivial ex-
on Wednesday brought before the magistrates at                ample of observation and inference. Therein lies
Ross, who have referred the case to the next As-                    e
                                                              my m´tier, and it is just possible that it may be of
sizes. Those are the main facts of the case as they           some service in the investigation which lies before
came out before the coroner and the police-court.”            us. There are one or two minor points which were
   “I could hardly imagine a more damning case,”              brought out in the inquest, and which are worth
I remarked.     “If ever circumstantial evidence              considering.”
pointed to a criminal it does so here.”                          “What are they?”

                                                        162
                                      The Boscombe Valley Mystery

    “It appears that his arrest did not take place at         down in the corner of the carriage and read it very
once, but after the return to Hatherley Farm. On              carefully. It ran in this way:
the inspector of constabulary informing him that                    “Mr. James McCarthy, the only son of the
he was a prisoner, he remarked that he was not                      deceased, was then called and gave evidence
surprised to hear it, and that it was no more than                  as follows: ‘I had been away from home for
his deserts. This observation of his had the nat-                   three days at Bristol, and had only just re-
ural effect of removing any traces of doubt which                   turned upon the morning of last Monday,
might have remained in the minds of the coroner’s                   the 3rd. My father was absent from home at
jury.”                                                              the time of my arrival, and I was informed
   “It was a confession,” I ejaculated.                             by the maid that he had driven over to Ross
   “No, for it was followed by a protestation of                    with John Cobb, the groom. Shortly after
innocence.”                                                         my return I heard the wheels of his trap
                                                                    in the yard, and, looking out of my win-
   “Coming on the top of such a damning series of                   dow, I saw him get out and walk rapidly
events, it was at least a most suspicious remark.”                  out of the yard, though I was not aware in
    “On the contrary,” said Holmes, “it is the                      which direction he was going. I then took
brightest rift which I can at present see in the                    my gun and strolled out in the direction
clouds. However innocent he might be, he could                      of the Boscombe Pool, with the intention
not be such an absolute imbecile as not to see that                 of visiting the rabbit warren which is upon
the circumstances were very black against him.                      the other side. On my way I saw William
Had he appeared surprised at his own arrest, or                     Crowder, the game-keeper, as he had stated
feigned indignation at it, I should have looked                     in his evidence; but he is mistaken in think-
upon it as highly suspicious, because such sur-                     ing that I was following my father. I had
prise or anger would not be natural under the cir-                  no idea that he was in front of me. When
cumstances, and yet might appear to be the best                     about a hundred yards from the pool I heard
policy to a scheming man. His frank acceptance                      a cry of “Cooee!” which was a usual signal
of the situation marks him as either an innocent                    between my father and myself. I then hur-
man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint                ried forward, and found him standing by
and firmness. As to his remark about his deserts,                    the pool. He appeared to be much surprised
it was also not unnatural if you consider that he                   at seeing me and asked me rather roughly
stood beside the dead body of his father, and that                  what I was doing there. A conversation en-
there is no doubt that he had that very day so far                  sued which led to high words and almost to
forgotten his filial duty as to bandy words with                     blows, for my father was a man of a very
him, and even, according to the little girl whose                   violent temper. Seeing that his passion was
evidence is so important, to raise his hand as if to                becoming ungovernable, I left him and re-
strike him. The self-reproach and contrition which                  turned towards Hatherley Farm. I had not
are displayed in his remark appear to me to be                      gone more than 150 yards, however, when
the signs of a healthy mind rather than of a guilty                 I heard a hideous outcry behind me, which
one.”                                                               caused me to run back again. I found my
   I shook my head. “Many men have been                             father expiring upon the ground, with his
hanged on far slighter evidence,” I remarked.                       head terribly injured. I dropped my gun
                                                                    and held him in my arms, but he almost
   “So they have. And many men have been
                                                                    instantly expired. I knelt beside him for
wrongfully hanged.”
                                                                    some minutes, and then made my way to
  “What is the young man’s own account of the                       Mr. Turner’s lodge-keeper, his house being
matter?”                                                            the nearest, to ask for assistance. I saw no
    “It is, I am afraid, not very encouraging to his                one near my father when I returned, and
supporters, though there are one or two points in                   I have no idea how he came by his injuries.
it which are suggestive. You will find it here, and                  He was not a popular man, being somewhat
may read it for yourself.”                                          cold and forbidding in his manners, but he
    He picked out from his bundle a copy of the lo-                 had, as far as I know, no active enemies. I
cal Herefordshire paper, and having turned down                     know nothing further of the matter.’
the sheet he pointed out the paragraph in which                     “The Coroner: Did your father make any
the unfortunate young man had given his own                         statement to you before he died?
statement of what had occurred. I settled myself                    “Witness: He mumbled a few words, but I

                                                        163
                                  The Boscombe Valley Mystery

could only catch some allusion to a rat.                    “ ‘And how far from the edge of the wood?’
“The Coroner: What did you understand                       “ ‘About the same.’
by that?                                                    “ ‘Then if it was removed it was while you
“Witness: It conveyed no meaning to me. I                   were within a dozen yards of it?’
thought that he was delirious.                              “ ‘Yes, but with my back towards it.’
“The Coroner: What was the point upon                       “This concluded the examination of the
which you and your father had this final                     witness.”
quarrel?                                             “I see,” said I as I glanced down the column, “that
“Witness: I should prefer not to answer.             the coroner in his concluding remarks was rather
“The Coroner: I am afraid that I must press          severe upon young McCarthy. He calls attention,
it.                                                  and with reason, to the discrepancy about his fa-
“Witness: It is really impossible for me to          ther having signalled to him before seeing him,
tell you. I can assure you that it has noth-         also to his refusal to give details of his conversa-
ing to do with the sad tragedy which fol-            tion with his father, and his singular account of his
lowed.                                               father’s dying words. They are all, as he remarks,
“The Coroner: That is for the court to de-           very much against the son.”
cide. I need not point out to you that                   Holmes laughed softly to himself and stretched
your refusal to answer will prejudice your           himself out upon the cushioned seat. “Both you
case considerably in any future proceedings          and the coroner have been at some pains,” said
which may arise.                                     he, “to single out the very strongest points in the
“Witness: I must still refuse.                       young man’s favour. Don’t you see that you alter-
“The Coroner: I understand that the cry of           nately give him credit for having too much imagi-
‘Cooee’ was a common signal between you              nation and too little? Too little, if he could not in-
and your father?                                     vent a cause of quarrel which would give him the
“Witness: It was.                                    sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from
                                                     his own inner consciousness anything so outr´ as  e
“The Coroner: How was it, then, that he
                                                     a dying reference to a rat, and the incident of the
uttered it before he saw you, and before he
                                                     vanishing cloth. No, sir, I shall approach this case
even knew that you had returned from Bris-
                                                     from the point of view that what this young man
tol?
                                                     says is true, and we shall see whither that hypoth-
“Witness (with considerable confusion): I
                                                     esis will lead us. And now here is my pocket Pe-
do not know.
                                                     trarch, and not another word shall I say of this case
“A Juryman: Did you see nothing which                until we are on the scene of action. We lunch at
aroused your suspicions when you returned            Swindon, and I see that we shall be there in twenty
on hearing the cry and found your father             minutes.”
fatally injured?
                                                         It was nearly four o’clock when we at last, af-
“Witness: Nothing definite.
                                                     ter passing through the beautiful Stroud Valley,
“The Coroner: What do you mean?                      and over the broad gleaming Severn, found our-
“Witness: I was so disturbed and excited             selves at the pretty little country-town of Ross. A
as I rushed out into the open, that I could          lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was
think of nothing except of my father. Yet I          waiting for us upon the platform. In spite of the
have a vague impression that as I ran for-           light brown dustcoat and leather-leggings which
ward something lay upon the ground to the            he wore in deference to his rustic surroundings, I
left of me. It seemed to me to be something          had no difficulty in recognising Lestrade, of Scot-
grey in colour, a coat of some sort, or a            land Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford
plaid perhaps. When I rose from my father            Arms where a room had already been engaged for
I looked round for it, but it was gone.              us.
“ ‘Do you mean that it disappeared before                “I have ordered a carriage,” said Lestrade as we
you went for help?’                                  sat over a cup of tea. “I knew your energetic na-
“ ‘Yes, it was gone.’                                ture, and that you would not be happy until you
“ ‘You cannot say what it was?’                      had been on the scene of the crime.”
“ ‘No, I had a feeling something was there.’             “It was very nice and complimentary of you,”
“ ‘How far from the body?’                           Holmes answered. “It is entirely a question of
“ ‘A dozen yards or so.’                             barometric pressure.”

                                               164
                                         The Boscombe Valley Mystery

   Lestrade looked startled. “I do not quite fol-              speak about it to the coroner was because I was
low,” he said.                                                 concerned in it.”
    “How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No                      “In what way?” asked Holmes.
wind, and not a cloud in the sky. I have a case-                   “It is no time for me to hide anything. James
ful of cigarettes here which need smoking, and the             and his father had many disagreements about me.
sofa is very much superior to the usual country ho-            Mr. McCarthy was very anxious that there should
tel abomination. I do not think that it is probable            be a marriage between us. James and I have al-
that I shall use the carriage to-night.”                       ways loved each other as brother and sister; but of
    Lestrade laughed indulgently. “You have, no                course he is young and has seen very little of life
doubt, already formed your conclusions from the                yet, and—and—well, he naturally did not wish to
newspapers,” he said. “The case is as plain as a               do anything like that yet. So there were quarrels,
pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the plainer           and this, I am sure, was one of them.”
it becomes. Still, of course, one can’t refuse a lady,             “And your father?” asked Holmes. “Was he in
and such a very positive one, too. She has heard               favour of such a union?”
of you, and would have your opinion, though I                      “No, he was averse to it also. No one but
repeatedly told her that there was nothing which               Mr. McCarthy was in favour of it.” A quick blush
you could do which I had not already done. Why,                passed over her fresh young face as Holmes shot
bless my soul! here is her carriage at the door.”              one of his keen, questioning glances at her.
    He had hardly spoken before there rushed into                  “Thank you for this information,” said he.
the room one of the most lovely young women that               “May I see your father if I call to-morrow?”
I have ever seen in my life. Her violet eyes shining,
                                                                   “I am afraid the doctor won’t allow it.”
her lips parted, a pink flush upon her cheeks, all
thought of her natural reserve lost in her overpow-                “The doctor?”
ering excitement and concern.                                      “Yes, have you not heard? Poor father has
    “Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!” she cried, glanc-               never been strong for years back, but this has bro-
ing from one to the other of us, and finally, with a            ken him down completely. He has taken to his bed,
woman’s quick intuition, fastening upon my com-                and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck and that his
panion, “I am so glad that you have come. I have               nervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was
driven down to tell you so. I know that James                  the only man alive who had known dad in the old
didn’t do it. I know it, and I want you to start               days in Victoria.”
upon your work knowing it, too. Never let your-                    “Ha! In Victoria! That is important.”
self doubt upon that point. We have known each                     “Yes, at the mines.”
other since we were little children, and I know his                “Quite so; at the gold-mines, where, as I under-
faults as no one else does; but he is too tender-              stand, Mr. Turner made his money.”
hearted to hurt a fly. Such a charge is absurd to
                                                                   “Yes, certainly.”
anyone who really knows him.”
                                                                   “Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of
    “I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner,” said
                                                               material assistance to me.”
Sherlock Holmes. “You may rely upon my doing
all that I can.”                                                   “You will tell me if you have any news to-
                                                               morrow. No doubt you will go to the prison to
   “But you have read the evidence. You have                   see James. Oh, if you do, Mr. Holmes, do tell him
formed some conclusion? Do you not see some                    that I know him to be innocent.”
loophole, some flaw? Do you not yourself think
that he is innocent?”                                              “I will, Miss Turner.”
                                                                   “I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and
   “I think that it is very probable.”
                                                               he misses me so if I leave him. Good-bye, and
   “There, now!” she cried, throwing back her                  God help you in your undertaking.” She hurried
head and looking defiantly at Lestrade. “You hear!              from the room as impulsively as she had entered,
He gives me hopes.”                                            and we heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off
   Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. “I am afraid               down the street.
that my colleague has been a little quick in form-                 “I am ashamed of you, Holmes,” said Lestrade
ing his conclusions,” he said.                                 with dignity after a few minutes’ silence. “Why
    “But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right.             should you raise up hopes which you are bound
James never did it. And about his quarrel with his             to disappoint? I am not over-tender of heart, but I
father, I am sure that the reason why he would not             call it cruel.”

                                                         165
                                         The Boscombe Valley Mystery

   “I think that I see my way to clearing James                   flight, and must have had the hardihood to return
McCarthy,” said Holmes. “Have you an order to                     and to carry it away at the instant when the son
see him in prison?”                                               was kneeling with his back turned not a dozen
   “Yes, but only for you and me.”                                paces off. What a tissue of mysteries and improb-
                                                                  abilities the whole thing was! I did not wonder at
   “Then I shall reconsider my resolution about                   Lestrade’s opinion, and yet I had so much faith in
going out. We have still time to take a train to                  Sherlock Holmes’ insight that I could not lose hope
Hereford and see him to-night?”                                   as long as every fresh fact seemed to strengthen his
   “Ample.”                                                       conviction of young McCarthy’s innocence.
    “Then let us do so. Watson, I fear that you will                 It was late before Sherlock Holmes returned.
find it very slow, but I shall only be away a couple               He came back alone, for Lestrade was staying in
of hours.”                                                        lodgings in the town.
    I walked down to the station with them, and                      “The glass still keeps very high,” he remarked
then wandered through the streets of the little                   as he sat down. “It is of importance that it should
town, finally returning to the hotel, where I lay                  not rain before we are able to go over the ground.
upon the sofa and tried to interest myself in a                   On the other hand, a man should be at his very
yellow-backed novel. The puny plot of the story                   best and keenest for such nice work as that, and I
was so thin, however, when compared to the deep                   did not wish to do it when fagged by a long jour-
mystery through which we were groping, and I                      ney. I have seen young McCarthy.”
found my attention wander so continually from
                                                                     “And what did you learn from him?”
the action to the fact, that I at last flung it across the
room and gave myself up entirely to a considera-                     “Nothing.”
tion of the events of the day. Supposing that this                   “Could he throw no light?”
unhappy young man’s story were absolutely true,                       “None at all. I was inclined to think at one time
then what hellish thing, what absolutely unfore-                  that he knew who had done it and was screen-
seen and extraordinary calamity could have oc-                    ing him or her, but I am convinced now that he
curred between the time when he parted from his                   is as puzzled as everyone else. He is not a very
father, and the moment when, drawn back by his                    quick-witted youth, though comely to look at and,
screams, he rushed into the glade? It was some-                   I should think, sound at heart.”
thing terrible and deadly. What could it be? Might
not the nature of the injuries reveal something to                    “I cannot admire his taste,” I remarked, “if it is
my medical instincts? I rang the bell and called                  indeed a fact that he was averse to a marriage with
for the weekly county paper, which contained a                    so charming a young lady as this Miss Turner.”
verbatim account of the inquest. In the surgeon’s                     “Ah, thereby hangs a rather painful tale. This
deposition it was stated that the posterior third of              fellow is madly, insanely, in love with her, but
the left parietal bone and the left half of the occip-            some two years ago, when he was only a lad, and
ital bone had been shattered by a heavy blow from                 before he really knew her, for she had been away
a blunt weapon. I marked the spot upon my own                     five years at a boarding-school, what does the idiot
head. Clearly such a blow must have been struck                   do but get into the clutches of a barmaid in Bristol
from behind. That was to some extent in favour of                 and marry her at a registry office? No one knows a
the accused, as when seen quarrelling he was face                 word of the matter, but you can imagine how mad-
to face with his father. Still, it did not go for very            dening it must be to him to be upbraided for not
much, for the older man might have turned his                     doing what he would give his very eyes to do, but
back before the blow fell. Still, it might be worth               what he knows to be absolutely impossible. It was
while to call Holmes’ attention to it. Then there                 sheer frenzy of this sort which made him throw
was the peculiar dying reference to a rat. What                   his hands up into the air when his father, at their
could that mean? It could not be delirium. A man                  last interview, was goading him on to propose to
dying from a sudden blow does not commonly be-                    Miss Turner. On the other hand, he had no means
come delirious. No, it was more likely to be an                   of supporting himself, and his father, who was by
attempt to explain how he met his fate. But what                  all accounts a very hard man, would have thrown
could it indicate? I cudgelled my brains to find                   him over utterly had he known the truth. It was
some possible explanation. And then the incident                  with his barmaid wife that he had spent the last
of the grey cloth seen by young McCarthy. If that                 three days in Bristol, and his father did not know
were true the murderer must have dropped some                     where he was. Mark that point. It is of impor-
part of his dress, presumably his overcoat, in his                tance. Good has come out of evil, however, for the

                                                            166
                                       The Boscombe Valley Mystery

barmaid, finding from the papers that he is in se-               hard enough to tackle facts, Holmes, without fly-
rious trouble and likely to be hanged, has thrown               ing away after theories and fancies.”
him over utterly and has written to him to say that                “You are right,” said Holmes demurely; “you
she has a husband already in the Bermuda Dock-                  do find it very hard to tackle the facts.”
yard, so that there is really no tie between them.
I think that that bit of news has consoled young                   “Anyhow, I have grasped one fact which you
McCarthy for all that he has suffered.”                         seem to find it difficult to get hold of,” replied
                                                                Lestrade with some warmth.
   “But if he is innocent, who has done it?”
                                                                   “And that is—”
   “Ah! who? I would call your attention very
particularly to two points. One is that the mur-                   “That McCarthy senior met his death from Mc-
dered man had an appointment with someone at                    Carthy junior and that all theories to the contrary
the pool, and that the someone could not have                   are the merest moonshine.”
been his son, for his son was away, and he did not                 “Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog,”
know when he would return. The second is that                   said Holmes, laughing. “But I am very much mis-
the murdered man was heard to cry ‘Cooee!’ be-                  taken if this is not Hatherley Farm upon the left.”
fore he knew that his son had returned. Those are
the crucial points upon which the case depends.                     “Yes, that is it.” It was a widespread,
And now let us talk about George Meredith, if you               comfortable-looking building, two-storied, slate-
please, and we shall leave all minor matters until              roofed, with great yellow blotches of lichen upon
to-morrow.”                                                     the grey walls. The drawn blinds and the smoke-
                                                                less chimneys, however, gave it a stricken look, as
    There was no rain, as Holmes had foretold,                  though the weight of this horror still lay heavy
and the morning broke bright and cloudless. At                  upon it. We called at the door, when the maid, at
nine o’clock Lestrade called for us with the car-               Holmes’ request, showed us the boots which her
riage, and we set off for Hatherley Farm and the                master wore at the time of his death, and also a
Boscombe Pool.                                                  pair of the son’s, though not the pair which he had
    “There is serious news this morning,” Lestrade              then had. Having measured these very carefully
observed. “It is said that Mr. Turner, of the Hall, is          from seven or eight different points, Holmes de-
so ill that his life is despaired of.”                          sired to be led to the court-yard, from which we all
   “An elderly man, I presume?” said Holmes.                    followed the winding track which led to Boscombe
    “About sixty; but his constitution has been                 Pool.
shattered by his life abroad, and he has been in                    Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he
failing health for some time. This business has had             was hot upon such a scent as this. Men who
a very bad effect upon him. He was an old friend                had only known the quiet thinker and logician of
of McCarthy’s, and, I may add, a great benefactor               Baker Street would have failed to recognise him.
to him, for I have learned that he gave him Hather-             His face flushed and darkened. His brows were
ley Farm rent free.”                                            drawn into two hard black lines, while his eyes
   “Indeed! That is interesting,” said Holmes.                  shone out from beneath them with a steely glit-
                                                                ter. His face was bent downward, his shoulders
   “Oh, yes! In a hundred other ways he has
                                                                bowed, his lips compressed, and the veins stood
helped him. Everybody about here speaks of his
                                                                out like whipcord in his long, sinewy neck. His
kindness to him.”
                                                                nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal lust
     “Really! Does it not strike you as a little singu-         for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely con-
lar that this McCarthy, who appears to have had                 centrated upon the matter before him that a ques-
little of his own, and to have been under such                  tion or remark fell unheeded upon his ears, or, at
obligations to Turner, should still talk of marry-              the most, only provoked a quick, impatient snarl in
ing his son to Turner’s daughter, who is, presum-               reply. Swiftly and silently he made his way along
ably, heiress to the estate, and that in such a very            the track which ran through the meadows, and so
cocksure manner, as if it were merely a case of a               by way of the woods to the Boscombe Pool. It
proposal and all else would follow? It is the more              was damp, marshy ground, as is all that district,
strange, since we know that Turner himself was                  and there were marks of many feet, both upon the
averse to the idea. The daughter told us as much.               path and amid the short grass which bounded it
Do you not deduce something from that?”                         on either side. Sometimes Holmes would hurry
   “We have got to the deductions and the infer-                on, sometimes stop dead, and once he made quite
ences,” said Lestrade, winking at me. “I find it                 a little detour into the meadow. Lestrade and I

                                                          167
                                     The Boscombe Valley Mystery

walked behind him, the detective indifferent and             the wood and under the shadow of a great beech,
contemptuous, while I watched my friend with the             the largest tree in the neighbourhood. Holmes
interest which sprang from the conviction that ev-           traced his way to the farther side of this and lay
ery one of his actions was directed towards a defi-           down once more upon his face with a little cry of
nite end.                                                    satisfaction. For a long time he remained there,
    The Boscombe Pool, which is a little reed-girt           turning over the leaves and dried sticks, gathering
sheet of water some fifty yards across, is situ-              up what seemed to me to be dust into an envelope
ated at the boundary between the Hatherley Farm              and examining with his lens not only the ground
and the private park of the wealthy Mr. Turner.              but even the bark of the tree as far as he could
Above the woods which lined it upon the farther              reach. A jagged stone was lying among the moss,
side we could see the red, jutting pinnacles which           and this also he carefully examined and retained.
marked the site of the rich landowner’s dwelling.            Then he followed a pathway through the wood un-
On the Hatherley side of the pool the woods grew             til he came to the highroad, where all traces were
very thick, and there was a narrow belt of sodden            lost.
grass twenty paces across between the edge of the                “It has been a case of considerable interest,”
trees and the reeds which lined the lake. Lestrade           he remarked, returning to his natural manner. “I
showed us the exact spot at which the body had               fancy that this grey house on the right must be the
been found, and, indeed, so moist was the ground,            lodge. I think that I will go in and have a word
that I could plainly see the traces which had been           with Moran, and perhaps write a little note. Hav-
left by the fall of the stricken man. To Holmes,             ing done that, we may drive back to our luncheon.
as I could see by his eager face and peering eyes,           You may walk to the cab, and I shall be with you
very many other things were to be read upon the              presently.”
trampled grass. He ran round, like a dog who is                  It was about ten minutes before we regained
picking up a scent, and then turned upon my com-             our cab and drove back into Ross, Holmes still car-
panion.                                                      rying with him the stone which he had picked up
                                                             in the wood.
   “What did you go into the pool for?” he asked.
                                                                 “This may interest you, Lestrade,” he re-
   “I fished about with a rake. I thought there               marked, holding it out. “The murder was done
might be some weapon or other trace. But how on              with it.”
earth—”                                                          “I see no marks.”
    “Oh, tut, tut! I have no time! That left foot of             “There are none.”
yours with its inward twist is all over the place. A             “How do you know, then?”
mole could trace it, and there it vanishes among                 “The grass was growing under it. It had only
the reeds. Oh, how simple it would all have been             lain there a few days. There was no sign of a place
had I been here before they came like a herd of              whence it had been taken. It corresponds with the
buffalo and wallowed all over it. Here is where              injuries. There is no sign of any other weapon.”
the party with the lodge-keeper came, and they                   “And the murderer?”
have covered all tracks for six or eight feet round              “Is a tall man, left-handed, limps with the right
the body. But here are three separate tracks of the          leg, wears thick-soled shooting-boots and a grey
same feet.” He drew out a lens and lay down upon             cloak, smokes Indian cigars, uses a cigar-holder,
his waterproof to have a better view, talking all            and carries a blunt pen-knife in his pocket. There
the time rather to himself than to us. “These are            are several other indications, but these may be
young McCarthy’s feet. Twice he was walking, and             enough to aid us in our search.”
once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are deeply
                                                                 Lestrade laughed. “I am afraid that I am still a
marked and the heels hardly visible. That bears
                                                             sceptic,” he said. “Theories are all very well, but
out his story. He ran when he saw his father on
                                                             we have to deal with a hard-headed British jury.”
the ground. Then here are the father’s feet as he
paced up and down. What is this, then? It is the                 “Nous verrons,” answered Holmes calmly.
butt-end of the gun as the son stood listening. And          “You work your own method, and I shall work
this? Ha, ha! What have we here? Tiptoes! tiptoes!           mine. I shall be busy this afternoon, and shall
Square, too, quite unusual boots! They come, they            probably return to London by the evening train.”
go, they come again—of course that was for the                   “And leave your case unfinished?”
cloak. Now where did they come from?” He ran                     “No, finished.”
up and down, sometimes losing, sometimes find-                    “But the mystery?”
ing the track until we were well within the edge of              “It is solved.”

                                                       168
                                      The Boscombe Valley Mystery

   “Who was the criminal, then?”                              to Bristol for it last night.” He put his hand over
   “The gentleman I describe.”                                part of the map. “What do you read?”
                                                                  “ARAT,” I read.
   “But who is he?”
                                                                  “And now?” He raised his hand.
   “Surely it would not be difficult to find out.                   “BALLARAT.”
This is not such a populous neighbourhood.”
                                                                  “Quite so. That was the word the man uttered,
    Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. “I am a prac-            and of which his son only caught the last two syl-
tical man,” he said, “and I really cannot undertake           lables. He was trying to utter the name of his mur-
to go about the country looking for a left-handed             derer. So and so, of Ballarat.”
gentleman with a game leg. I should become the                    “It is wonderful!” I exclaimed.
laughing-stock of Scotland Yard.”
                                                                  “It is obvious. And now, you see, I had nar-
   “All right,” said Holmes quietly. “I have given            rowed the field down considerably. The possession
you the chance. Here are your lodgings. Good-                 of a grey garment was a third point which, grant-
bye. I shall drop you a line before I leave.”                 ing the son’s statement to be correct, was a cer-
   Having left Lestrade at his rooms, we drove to             tainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness
our hotel, where we found lunch upon the table.               to the definite conception of an Australian from
Holmes was silent and buried in thought with a                Ballarat with a grey cloak.”
pained expression upon his face, as one who finds                  “Certainly.”
himself in a perplexing position.                                 “And one who was at home in the district, for
    “Look here, Watson,” he said when the cloth               the pool can only be approached by the farm or by
was cleared “just sit down in this chair and let me           the estate, where strangers could hardly wander.”
preach to you for a little. I don’t know quite what               “Quite so.”
to do, and I should value your advice. Light a cigar              “Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an
and let me expound.”                                          examination of the ground I gained the trifling de-
   “Pray do so.”                                              tails which I gave to that imbecile Lestrade, as to
                                                              the personality of the criminal.”
     “Well, now, in considering this case there                   “But how did you gain them?”
are two points about young McCarthy’s narrative
                                                                  “You know my method. It is founded upon the
which struck us both instantly, although they im-
                                                              observation of trifles.”
pressed me in his favour and you against him. One
was the fact that his father should, according to his             “His height I know that you might roughly
account, cry ‘Cooee!’ before seeing him. The other            judge from the length of his stride. His boots, too,
was his singular dying reference to a rat. He mum-            might be told from their traces.”
bled several words, you understand, but that was                  “Yes, they were peculiar boots.”
all that caught the son’s ear. Now from this double               “But his lameness?”
point our research must commence, and we will                     “The impression of his right foot was always
begin it by presuming that what the lad says is ab-           less distinct than his left. He put less weight upon
solutely true.”                                               it. Why? Because he limped—he was lame.”
   “What of this ‘Cooee!’ then?”                                  “But his left-handedness.”
    “Well, obviously it could not have been meant                 “You were yourself struck by the nature of the
for the son. The son, as far as he knew, was in Bris-         injury as recorded by the surgeon at the inquest.
tol. It was mere chance that he was within earshot.           The blow was struck from immediately behind,
The ‘Cooee!’ was meant to attract the attention               and yet was upon the left side. Now, how can
of whoever it was that he had the appointment                 that be unless it were by a left-handed man? He
with. But ‘Cooee’ is a distinctly Australian cry, and         had stood behind that tree during the interview
one which is used between Australians. There is               between the father and son. He had even smoked
a strong presumption that the person whom Mc-                 there. I found the ash of a cigar, which my spe-
Carthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool                  cial knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pro-
was someone who had been in Australia.”                       nounce as an Indian cigar. I have, as you know,
                                                              devoted some attention to this, and written a little
   “What of the rat, then?”                                   monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties
   Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his               of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. Having found
pocket and flattened it out on the table. “This is a           the ash, I then looked round and discovered the
map of the Colony of Victoria,” he said. “I wired             stump among the moss where he had tossed it. It

                                                        169
                                     The Boscombe Valley Mystery

was an Indian cigar, of the variety which are rolled            “It may not come to that,” said Holmes.
in Rotterdam.”                                                  “What?”
   “And the cigar-holder?”                                      “I am no official agent. I understand that it was
    “I could see that the end had not been in his            your daughter who required my presence here,
mouth. Therefore he used a holder. The tip had               and I am acting in her interests. Young McCarthy
been cut off, not bitten off, but the cut was not a          must be got off, however.”
clean one, so I deduced a blunt pen-knife.”                      “I am a dying man,” said old Turner. “I have
    “Holmes,” I said, “you have drawn a net round            had diabetes for years. My doctor says it is a ques-
this man from which he cannot escape, and you                tion whether I shall live a month. Yet I would
have saved an innocent human life as truly as if             rather die under my own roof than in a jail.”
you had cut the cord which was hanging him. I
                                                                 Holmes rose and sat down at the table with his
see the direction in which all this points. The cul-
                                                             pen in his hand and a bundle of paper before him.
prit is—”
                                                             “Just tell us the truth,” he said. “I shall jot down
   “Mr. John Turner,” cried the hotel waiter, open-          the facts. You will sign it, and Watson here can
ing the door of our sitting-room, and ushering in            witness it. Then I could produce your confession
a visitor.                                                   at the last extremity to save young McCarthy. I
    The man who entered was a strange and im-                promise you that I shall not use it unless it is ab-
pressive figure. His slow, limping step and bowed             solutely needed.”
shoulders gave the appearance of decrepitude, and                 “It’s as well,” said the old man; “it’s a question
yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and his           whether I shall live to the Assizes, so it matters
enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of               little to me, but I should wish to spare Alice the
unusual strength of body and of character. His tan-          shock. And now I will make the thing clear to
gled beard, grizzled hair, and outstanding, droop-           you; it has been a long time in the acting, but will
ing eyebrows combined to give an air of dignity              not take me long to tell.
and power to his appearance, but his face was of
                                                                 “You didn’t know this dead man, McCarthy.
an ashen white, while his lips and the corners of
                                                             He was a devil incarnate. I tell you that. God keep
his nostrils were tinged with a shade of blue. It
                                                             you out of the clutches of such a man as he. His
was clear to me at a glance that he was in the grip
                                                             grip has been upon me these twenty years, and he
of some deadly and chronic disease.
                                                             has blasted my life. I’ll tell you first how I came to
     “Pray sit down on the sofa,” said Holmes gen-           be in his power.
tly. “You had my note?”
                                                                 “It was in the early ’60’s at the diggings. I
   “Yes, the lodge-keeper brought it up. You said            was a young chap then, hot-blooded and reckless,
that you wished to see me here to avoid scandal.”            ready to turn my hand at anything; I got among
   “I thought people would talk if I went to the             bad companions, took to drink, had no luck with
Hall.”                                                       my claim, took to the bush, and in a word became
   “And why did you wish to see me?” He looked               what you would call over here a highway robber.
across at my companion with despair in his weary             There were six of us, and we had a wild, free life
eyes, as though his question was already an-                 of it, sticking up a station from time to time, or
swered.                                                      stopping the wagons on the road to the diggings.
                                                             Black Jack of Ballarat was the name I went under,
   “Yes,” said Holmes, answering the look rather
                                                             and our party is still remembered in the colony as
than the words. “It is so. I know all about Mc-
                                                             the Ballarat Gang.
Carthy.”
                                                                 “One day a gold convoy came down from Bal-
   The old man sank his face in his hands. “God
                                                             larat to Melbourne, and we lay in wait for it and
help me!” he cried. “But I would not have let the
                                                             attacked it. There were six troopers and six of us,
young man come to harm. I give you my word that
                                                             so it was a close thing, but we emptied four of their
I would have spoken out if it went against him at
                                                             saddles at the first volley. Three of our boys were
the Assizes.”
                                                             killed, however, before we got the swag. I put my
   “I am glad to hear you say so,” said Holmes               pistol to the head of the wagon-driver, who was
gravely.                                                     this very man McCarthy. I wish to the Lord that I
   “I would have spoken now had it not been for              had shot him then, but I spared him, though I saw
my dear girl. It would break her heart—it will               his wicked little eyes fixed on my face, as though
break her heart when she hears that I am arrested.”          to remember every feature. We got away with the

                                                       170
gold, became wealthy men, and made our way              off the streets. It drove me mad to think that I and
over to England without being suspected. There          all that I held most dear should be in the power of
I parted from my old pals and determined to set-        such a man as this. Could I not snap the bond? I
tle down to a quiet and respectable life. I bought      was already a dying and a desperate man. Though
this estate, which chanced to be in the market, and     clear of mind and fairly strong of limb, I knew that
I set myself to do a little good with my money, to      my own fate was sealed. But my memory and my
make up for the way in which I had earned it. I         girl! Both could be saved if I could but silence that
married, too, and though my wife died young she         foul tongue. I did it, Mr. Holmes. I would do it
left me my dear little Alice. Even when she was         again. Deeply as I have sinned, I have led a life of
just a baby her wee hand seemed to lead me down         martyrdom to atone for it. But that my girl should
the right path as nothing else had ever done. In        be entangled in the same meshes which held me
a word, I turned over a new leaf and did my best        was more than I could suffer. I struck him down
to make up for the past. All was going well when        with no more compunction than if he had been
McCarthy laid his grip upon me.                         some foul and venomous beast. His cry brought
    “I had gone up to town about an investment,         back his son; but I had gained the cover of the
and I met him in Regent Street with hardly a coat       wood, though I was forced to go back to fetch the
to his back or a boot to his foot.                      cloak which I had dropped in my flight. That is
                                                        the true story, gentlemen, of all that occurred.”
   “ ‘Here we are, Jack,’ says he, touching me on
the arm; ‘we’ll be as good as a family to you.             “Well, it is not for me to judge you,” said
There’s two of us, me and my son, and you can           Holmes as the old man signed the statement which
have the keeping of us. If you don’t—it’s a fine,        had been drawn out. “I pray that we may never be
law-abiding country is England, and there’s al-         exposed to such a temptation.”
ways a policeman within hail.’                             “I pray not, sir. And what do you intend to
                                                        do?”
    “Well, down they came to the west country,
there was no shaking them off, and there they have          “In view of your health, nothing. You are
lived rent free on my best land ever since. There       yourself aware that you will soon have to answer
was no rest for me, no peace, no forgetfulness; turn    for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes.
where I would, there was his cunning, grinning          I will keep your confession, and if McCarthy is
face at my elbow. It grew worse as Alice grew up,       condemned I shall be forced to use it. If not, it
for he soon saw I was more afraid of her knowing        shall never be seen by mortal eye; and your secret,
my past than of the police. Whatever he wanted he       whether you be alive or dead, shall be safe with
must have, and whatever it was I gave him with-         us.”
out question, land, money, houses, until at last he        “Farewell, then,” said the old man solemnly.
asked a thing which I could not give. He asked for      “Your own deathbeds, when they come, will be the
Alice.                                                  easier for the thought of the peace which you have
    “His son, you see, had grown up, and so had         given to mine.” Tottering and shaking in all his gi-
my girl, and as I was known to be in weak health,       ant frame, he stumbled slowly from the room.
it seemed a fine stroke to him that his lad should           “God help us!” said Holmes after a long si-
step into the whole property. But there I was           lence. “Why does fate play such tricks with poor,
firm. I would not have his cursed stock mixed            helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as
with mine; not that I had any dislike to the lad,       this that I do not think of Baxter’s words, and say,
but his blood was in him, and that was enough. I        ‘There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock
stood firm. McCarthy threatened. I braved him to         Holmes.’ ”
do his worst. We were to meet at the pool midway           James McCarthy was acquitted at the Assizes
between our houses to talk it over.                     on the strength of a number of objections which
    “When I went down there I found him talk-           had been drawn out by Holmes and submitted
ing with his son, so I smoked a cigar and waited        to the defending counsel. Old Turner lived for
behind a tree until he should be alone. But as I        seven months after our interview, but he is now
listened to his talk all that was black and bitter in   dead; and there is every prospect that the son and
me seemed to come uppermost. He was urging              daughter may come to live happily together in ig-
his son to marry my daughter with as little regard      norance of the black cloud which rests upon their
for what she might think as if she were a slut from     past.
The Five Orange Pips
W
                                           The Five Orange Pips

            hen I glance over my notes and                    cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney. Sher-
            records of the Sherlock Holmes cases              lock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fire-
            between the years ’82 and ’90, I                  place cross-indexing his records of crime, while I
            am faced by so many which present                 at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell’s fine
strange and interesting features that it is no easy           sea-stories until the howl of the gale from without
matter to know which to choose and which to                   seemed to blend with the text, and the splash of
leave. Some, however, have already gained public-             the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of the
ity through the papers, and others have not offered           sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother’s,
a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend           and for a few days I was a dweller once more in
possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the            my old quarters at Baker Street.
object of these papers to illustrate. Some, too, have             “Why,” said I, glancing up at my companion,
baffled his analytical skill, and would be, as narra-          “that was surely the bell. Who could come to-
tives, beginnings without an ending, while others             night? Some friend of yours, perhaps?”
have been but partially cleared up, and have their
                                                                  “Except yourself I have none,” he answered. “I
explanations founded rather upon conjecture and
                                                              do not encourage visitors.”
surmise than on that absolute logical proof which
was so dear to him. There is, however, one of these               “A client, then?”
last which was so remarkable in its details and so                “If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would
startling in its results that I am tempted to give            bring a man out on such a day and at such an hour.
some account of it in spite of the fact that there            But I take it that it is more likely to be some crony
are points in connection with it which never have             of the landlady’s.”
been, and probably never will be, entirely cleared                Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture,
up.                                                           however, for there came a step in the passage and a
    The year ’87 furnished us with a long series              tapping at the door. He stretched out his long arm
of cases of greater or less interest, of which I re-          to turn the lamp away from himself and towards
tain the records. Among my headings under this                the vacant chair upon which a newcomer must sit.
one twelve months I find an account of the adven-                  “Come in!” said he.
ture of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Men-                  The man who entered was young, some two-
dicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the              and-twenty at the outside, well-groomed and
lower vault of a furniture warehouse, of the facts            trimly clad, with something of refinement and
connected with the loss of the British barque “So-            delicacy in his bearing. The streaming umbrella
phy Anderson”, of the singular adventures of the              which he held in his hand, and his long shin-
Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and finally             ing waterproof told of the fierce weather through
of the Camberwell poisoning case. In the latter, as           which he had come. He looked about him anx-
may be remembered, Sherlock Holmes was able,                  iously in the glare of the lamp, and I could see that
by winding up the dead man’s watch, to prove                  his face was pale and his eyes heavy, like those of
that it had been wound up two hours before, and               a man who is weighed down with some great anx-
that therefore the deceased had gone to bed within            iety.
that time—a deduction which was of the greatest
importance in clearing up the case. All these I may               “I owe you an apology,” he said, raising his
sketch out at some future date, but none of them              golden pince-nez to his eyes. “I trust that I am not
present such singular features as the strange train           intruding. I fear that I have brought some traces of
of circumstances which I have now taken up my                 the storm and rain into your snug chamber.”
pen to describe.                                                  “Give me your coat and umbrella,” said
    It was in the latter days of September, and the           Holmes. “They may rest here on the hook and
equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional vi-             will be dry presently. You have come up from the
olence. All day the wind had screamed and the                 south-west, I see.”
rain had beaten against the windows, so that even                 “Yes, from Horsham.”
here in the heart of great, hand-made London we                   “That clay and chalk mixture which I see upon
were forced to raise our minds for the instant from           your toe caps is quite distinctive.”
the routine of life and to recognise the presence                 “I have come for advice.”
of those great elemental forces which shriek at
                                                                  “That is easily got.”
mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like
untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in,                     “And help.”
the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind                    “That is not always so easy.”

                                                        175
                                            The Five Orange Pips

   “I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes. I heard                   a colonel. When Lee laid down his arms my uncle
from Major Prendergast how you saved him in the                returned to his plantation, where he remained for
Tankerville Club scandal.”                                     three or four years. About 1869 or 1870 he came
   “Ah, of course. He was wrongfully accused of                back to Europe and took a small estate in Sussex,
cheating at cards.”                                            near Horsham. He had made a very considerable
                                                               fortune in the States, and his reason for leaving
   “He said that you could solve anything.”
                                                               them was his aversion to the negroes, and his dis-
   “He said too much.”                                         like of the Republican policy in extending the fran-
   “That you are never beaten.”                                chise to them. He was a singular man, fierce and
  “I have been beaten four times—three times by                quick-tempered, very foul-mouthed when he was
men, and once by a woman.”                                     angry, and of a most retiring disposition. During
                                                               all the years that he lived at Horsham, I doubt
    “But what is that compared with the number                 if ever he set foot in the town. He had a gar-
of your successes?”                                            den and two or three fields round his house, and
    “It is true that I have been generally success-            there he would take his exercise, though very often
ful.”                                                          for weeks on end he would never leave his room.
   “Then you may be so with me.”                               He drank a great deal of brandy and smoked very
   “I beg that you will draw your chair up to the              heavily, but he would see no society and did not
fire and favour me with some details as to your                 want any friends, not even his own brother.
case.”                                                             “He didn’t mind me; in fact, he took a fancy
   “It is no ordinary one.”                                    to me, for at the time when he saw me first I was
    “None of those which come to me are. I am the              a youngster of twelve or so. This would be in the
last court of appeal.”                                         year 1878, after he had been eight or nine years
                                                               in England. He begged my father to let me live
    “And yet I question, sir, whether, in all your
                                                               with him and he was very kind to me in his way.
experience, you have ever listened to a more mys-
                                                               When he was sober he used to be fond of play-
terious and inexplicable chain of events than those
                                                               ing backgammon and draughts with me, and he
which have happened in my own family.”
                                                               would make me his representative both with the
   “You fill me with interest,” said Holmes. “Pray              servants and with the tradespeople, so that by the
give us the essential facts from the commence-                 time that I was sixteen I was quite master of the
ment, and I can afterwards question you as to                  house. I kept all the keys and could go where I
those details which seem to me to be most impor-               liked and do what I liked, so long as I did not dis-
tant.”                                                         turb him in his privacy. There was one singular
    The young man pulled his chair up and pushed               exception, however, for he had a single room, a
his wet feet out towards the blaze.                            lumber-room up among the attics, which was in-
     “My name,” said he, “is John Openshaw, but                variably locked, and which he would never permit
my own affairs have, as far as I can understand,               either me or anyone else to enter. With a boy’s cu-
little to do with this awful business. It is a heredi-         riosity I have peeped through the keyhole, but I
tary matter; so in order to give you an idea of the            was never able to see more than such a collection
facts, I must go back to the commencement of the               of old trunks and bundles as would be expected in
affair.                                                        such a room.
    “You must know that my grandfather had two                     “One day—it was in March, 1883—a letter with
sons—my uncle Elias and my father Joseph. My                   a foreign stamp lay upon the table in front of the
father had a small factory at Coventry, which he               colonel’s plate. It was not a common thing for him
enlarged at the time of the invention of bicycling.            to receive letters, for his bills were all paid in ready
He was a patentee of the Openshaw unbreakable                  money, and he had no friends of any sort. ‘From
tire, and his business met with such success that he           India!’ said he as he took it up, ‘Pondicherry post-
was able to sell it and to retire upon a handsome              mark! What can this be?’ Opening it hurriedly, out
competence.                                                    there jumped five little dried orange pips, which
   “My uncle Elias emigrated to America when he                pattered down upon his plate. I began to laugh
was a young man and became a planter in Florida,               at this, but the laugh was struck from my lips at
where he was reported to have done very well. At               the sight of his face. His lip had fallen, his eyes
the time of the war he fought in Jackson’s army,               were protruding, his skin the colour of putty, and
and afterwards under Hood, where he rose to be                 he glared at the envelope which he still held in his

                                                         176
                                          The Five Orange Pips

trembling hand, ‘K. K. K.!’ he shrieked, and then,           up, like a sheep in a pen, by man or devil. When
‘My God, my God, my sins have overtaken me!’                 these hot fits were over, however, he would rush
   “ ‘What is it, uncle?’ I cried.                           tumultuously in at the door and lock and bar it
                                                             behind him, like a man who can brazen it out no
    “ ‘Death,’ said he, and rising from the table he
                                                             longer against the terror which lies at the roots of
retired to his room, leaving me palpitating with
                                                             his soul. At such times I have seen his face, even
horror. I took up the envelope and saw scrawled
                                                             on a cold day, glisten with moisture, as though it
in red ink upon the inner flap, just above the gum,
                                                             were new raised from a basin.
the letter K three times repeated. There was noth-
ing else save the five dried pips. What could be                  “Well, to come to an end of the matter, Mr.
the reason of his overpowering terror? I left the            Holmes, and not to abuse your patience, there
breakfast-table, and as I ascended the stair I met           came a night when he made one of those drunken
him coming down with an old rusty key, which                 sallies from which he never came back. We found
must have belonged to the attic, in one hand, and            him, when we went to search for him, face down-
a small brass box, like a cashbox, in the other.             ward in a little green-scummed pool, which lay
                                                             at the foot of the garden. There was no sign of
   “ ‘They may do what they like, but I’ll check-
                                                             any violence, and the water was but two feet deep,
mate them still,’ said he with an oath. ‘Tell Mary
                                                             so that the jury, having regard to his known ec-
that I shall want a fire in my room to-day, and send
                                                             centricity, brought in a verdict of ‘suicide.’ But I,
down to Fordham, the Horsham lawyer.’
                                                             who knew how he winced from the very thought
    “I did as he ordered, and when the lawyer ar-            of death, had much ado to persuade myself that
rived I was asked to step up to the room. The fire            he had gone out of his way to meet it. The matter
was burning brightly, and in the grate there was             passed, however, and my father entered into pos-
a mass of black, fluffy ashes, as of burned paper,            session of the estate, and of some £14,000, which
while the brass box stood open and empty beside              lay to his credit at the bank.”
it. As I glanced at the box I noticed, with a start,
that upon the lid was printed the treble K which I               “One moment,” Holmes interposed, “your
had read in the morning upon the envelope.                   statement is, I foresee, one of the most remarkable
                                                             to which I have ever listened. Let me have the date
    “ ‘I wish you, John,’ said my uncle, ‘to witness         of the reception by your uncle of the letter, and the
my will. I leave my estate, with all its advantages          date of his supposed suicide.”
and all its disadvantages, to my brother, your fa-
ther, whence it will, no doubt, descend to you. If              “The letter arrived on March 10, 1883. His
you can enjoy it in peace, well and good! If you             death was seven weeks later, upon the night of
find you cannot, take my advice, my boy, and leave            May 2nd.”
it to your deadliest enemy. I am sorry to give you              “Thank you. Pray proceed.”
such a two-edged thing, but I can’t say what turn                “When my father took over the Horsham prop-
things are going to take. Kindly sign the paper              erty, he, at my request, made a careful examina-
where Mr. Fordham shows you.’                                tion of the attic, which had been always locked
    “I signed the paper as directed, and the lawyer          up. We found the brass box there, although its
took it away with him. The singular incident                 contents had been destroyed. On the inside of the
made, as you may think, the deepest impression               cover was a paper label, with the initials of K. K.
upon me, and I pondered over it and turned it ev-            K. repeated upon it, and ‘Letters, memoranda, re-
ery way in my mind without being able to make                ceipts, and a register’ written beneath. These, we
anything of it. Yet I could not shake off the vague          presume, indicated the nature of the papers which
feeling of dread which it left behind, though the            had been destroyed by Colonel Openshaw. For the
sensation grew less keen as the weeks passed and             rest, there was nothing of much importance in the
nothing happened to disturb the usual routine of             attic save a great many scattered papers and note-
our lives. I could see a change in my uncle, how-            books bearing upon my uncle’s life in America.
ever. He drank more than ever, and he was less               Some of them were of the war time and showed
inclined for any sort of society. Most of his time           that he had done his duty well and had borne the
he would spend in his room, with the door locked             repute of a brave soldier. Others were of a date
upon the inside, but sometimes he would emerge               during the reconstruction of the Southern states,
in a sort of drunken frenzy and would burst out              and were mostly concerned with politics, for he
of the house and tear about the garden with a                had evidently taken a strong part in opposing the
revolver in his hand, screaming out that he was              carpet-bag politicians who had been sent down
afraid of no man, and that he was not to be cooped           from the North.

                                                       177
                                            The Five Orange Pips

    “Well, it was the beginning of ’84 when my fa-             the major, imploring me to come at once. My
ther came to live at Horsham, and all went as well             father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits
as possible with us until the January of ’85. On               which abound in the neighbourhood, and was ly-
the fourth day after the new year I heard my fa-               ing senseless, with a shattered skull. I hurried
ther give a sharp cry of surprise as we sat together           to him, but he passed away without having ever
at the breakfast-table. There he was, sitting with a           recovered his consciousness. He had, as it ap-
newly opened envelope in one hand and five dried                pears, been returning from Fareham in the twi-
orange pips in the outstretched palm of the other              light, and as the country was unknown to him,
one. He had always laughed at what he called                   and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hes-
my cock-and-bull story about the colonel, but he               itation in bringing in a verdict of ‘death from ac-
looked very scared and puzzled now that the same               cidental causes.’ Carefully as I examined every
thing had come upon himself.                                   fact connected with his death, I was unable to find
   “ ‘Why, what on earth does this mean, John?’                anything which could suggest the idea of murder.
he stammered.                                                  There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no
                                                               robbery, no record of strangers having been seen
   “My heart had turned to lead. ‘It is K. K. K.,’             upon the roads. And yet I need not tell you that
said I.                                                        my mind was far from at ease, and that I was well-
    “He looked inside the envelope. ‘So it is,’ he             nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven
cried. ‘Here are the very letters. But what is this            round him.
written above them?’
                                                                  “In this sinister way I came into my inheritance.
   “ ‘Put the papers on the sundial,’ I read, peep-            You will ask me why I did not dispose of it? I an-
ing over his shoulder.                                         swer, because I was well convinced that our trou-
   “ ‘What papers? What sundial?’ he asked.                    bles were in some way dependent upon an inci-
    ’“ ‘The sundial in the garden. There is no other,          dent in my uncle’s life, and that the danger would
said I; ‘but the papers must be those that are de-             be as pressing in one house as in another.
stroyed.’                                                          “It was in January, ’85, that my poor father
   “ ‘Pooh!’ said he, gripping hard at his courage.            met his end, and two years and eight months have
‘We are in a civilised land here, and we can’t have            elapsed since then. During that time I have lived
tomfoolery of this kind. Where does the thing                  happily at Horsham, and I had begun to hope that
come from?’                                                    this curse had passed away from the family, and
   “ ‘From Dundee,’ I answered, glancing at the                that it had ended with the last generation. I had
postmark.                                                      begun to take comfort too soon, however; yester-
                                                               day morning the blow fell in the very shape in
   “ ‘Some preposterous practical joke,’ said he.
                                                               which it had come upon my father.“
‘What have I to do with sundials and papers? I
shall take no notice of such nonsense.’                           The young man took from his waistcoat a
   “ ‘I should certainly speak to the police,’ I said.         crumpled envelope, and turning to the table he
                                                               shook out upon it five little dried orange pips.
   “ ‘And be laughed at for my pains. Nothing of
the sort.’                                                        “This is the envelope,” he continued. “The
   “ ‘Then let me do so?’                                      postmark is London—eastern division. Within are
                                                               the very words which were upon my father’s last
   “ ‘No, I forbid you. I won’t have a fuss made               message: ‘K. K. K.’; and then ‘Put the papers on
about such nonsense.’                                          the sundial.’ ”
   “It was in vain to argue with him, for he was a
very obstinate man. I went about, however, with a                 “What have you done?” asked Holmes.
heart which was full of forebodings.                              “Nothing.”
    “On the third day after the coming of the letter
                                                                  “Nothing?”
my father went from home to visit an old friend
of his, Major Freebody, who is in command of one                   “To tell the truth”—he sank his face into his
of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad that              thin, white hands—“I have felt helpless. I have felt
he should go, for it seemed to me that he was far-             like one of those poor rabbits when the snake is
ther from danger when he was away from home.                   writhing towards it. I seem to be in the grasp of
In that, however, I was in error. Upon the sec-                some resistless, inexorable evil, which no foresight
ond day of his absence I received a telegram from              and no precautions can guard against.”

                                                         178
                                           The Five Orange Pips

    “Tut! tut!” cried Sherlock Holmes. “You must              10th. John Swain cleared.
act, man, or you are lost. Nothing but energy can             12th. Visited Paramore. All well.
save you. This is no time for despair.”                           “Thank you!” said Holmes, folding up the pa-
   “I have seen the police.”                                  per and returning it to our visitor. “And now you
   “Ah!”                                                      must on no account lose another instant. We can-
                                                              not spare time even to discuss what you have told
   “But they listened to my story with a smile. I             me. You must get home instantly and act.”
am convinced that the inspector has formed the
                                                                  “What shall I do?”
opinion that the letters are all practical jokes, and
                                                                  “There is but one thing to do. It must be done
that the deaths of my relations were really acci-
                                                              at once. You must put this piece of paper which
dents, as the jury stated, and were not to be con-
                                                              you have shown us into the brass box which you
nected with the warnings.”
                                                              have described. You must also put in a note to say
   Holmes shook his clenched hands in the air.                that all the other papers were burned by your un-
“Incredible imbecility!” he cried.                            cle, and that this is the only one which remains.
  “They have, however, allowed me a policeman,                You must assert that in such words as will carry
who may remain in the house with me.”                         conviction with them. Having done this, you must
   “Has he come with you to-night?”                           at once put the box out upon the sundial, as di-
                                                              rected. Do you understand?”
   “No. His orders were to stay in the house.”
                                                                  “Entirely.”
   Again Holmes raved in the air.
                                                                  “Do not think of revenge, or anything of the
   “Why did you come to me,” he cried, “and,                  sort, at present. I think that we may gain that by
above all, why did you not come at once?”                     means of the law; but we have our web to weave,
   “I did not know. It was only to-day that I spoke           while theirs is already woven. The first considera-
to Major Prendergast about my troubles and was                tion is to remove the pressing danger which threat-
advised by him to come to you.”                               ens you. The second is to clear up the mystery and
    “It is really two days since you had the letter.          to punish the guilty parties.”
We should have acted before this. You have no                     “I thank you,” said the young man, rising and
further evidence, I suppose, than that which you              pulling on his overcoat. “You have given me fresh
have placed before us—no suggestive detail which              life and hope. I shall certainly do as you advise.”
might help us?”                                                   “Do not lose an instant. And, above all, take
    “There is one thing,” said John Openshaw. He              care of yourself in the meanwhile, for I do not
rummaged in his coat pocket, and, drawing out a               think that there can be a doubt that you are threat-
piece of discoloured, blue-tinted paper, he laid it           ened by a very real and imminent danger. How do
out upon the table. “I have some remembrance,”                you go back?”
said he, “that on the day when my uncle burned                    “By train from Waterloo.”
the papers I observed that the small, unburned                    “It is not yet nine. The streets will be crowded,
margins which lay amid the ashes were of this par-            so I trust that you may be in safety. And yet you
ticular colour. I found this single sheet upon the            cannot guard yourself too closely.”
floor of his room, and I am inclined to think that                 “I am armed.”
it may be one of the papers which has, perhaps,                   “That is well. To-morrow I shall set to work
fluttered out from among the others, and in that               upon your case.”
way has escaped destruction. Beyond the mention                   “I shall see you at Horsham, then?”
of pips, I do not see that it helps us much. I think              “No, your secret lies in London. It is there that
myself that it is a page from some private diary.             I shall seek it.”
The writing is undoubtedly my uncle’s.”
                                                                  “Then I shall call upon you in a day, or in two
   Holmes moved the lamp, and we both bent                    days, with news as to the box and the papers.
over the sheet of paper, which showed by its                  I shall take your advice in every particular.” He
ragged edge that it had indeed been torn from a               shook hands with us and took his leave. Outside
book. It was headed, “March, 1869,” and beneath               the wind still screamed and the rain splashed and
were the following enigmatical notices:                       pattered against the windows. This strange, wild
4th. Hudson came. Same old platform.                          story seemed to have come to us from amid the
7th. Set the pips on McCauley, Paramore, and                  mad elements—blown in upon us like a sheet of
     John Swain, of St. Augustine.                            sea-weed in a gale—and now to have been reab-
9th. McCauley cleared.                                        sorbed by them once more.

                                                        179
                                           The Five Orange Pips

    Sherlock Holmes sat for some time in silence,             from any region within fifty miles of town, chem-
with his head sunk forward and his eyes bent upon             istry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational
the red glow of the fire. Then he lit his pipe,                literature and crime records unique, violin-player,
and leaning back in his chair he watched the blue             boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by co-
smoke-rings as they chased each other up to the               caine and tobacco. Those, I think, were the main
ceiling.                                                      points of my analysis.”
    “I think, Watson,” he remarked at last, “that of              Holmes grinned at the last item. “Well,” he
all our cases we have had none more fantastic than            said, “I say now, as I said then, that a man should
this.”                                                        keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furni-
                                                              ture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put
   “Save, perhaps, the Sign of Four.”
                                                              away in the lumber-room of his library, where he
   “Well, yes. Save, perhaps, that. And yet this              can get it if he wants it. Now, for such a case as the
John Openshaw seems to me to be walking amid                  one which has been submitted to us to-night, we
even greater perils than did the Sholtos.”                    need certainly to muster all our resources. Kindly
   “But have you,” I asked, “formed any definite               hand me down the letter K of the ‘American En-
conception as to what these perils are?”                      cyclopaedia’ which stands upon the shelf beside
                                                              you. Thank you. Now let us consider the situa-
   “There can be no question as to their nature,”             tion and see what may be deduced from it. In the
he answered.                                                  first place, we may start with a strong presumption
  “Then what are they? Who is this K. K. K., and              that Colonel Openshaw had some very strong rea-
why does he pursue this unhappy family?”                      son for leaving America. Men at his time of life do
                                                              not change all their habits and exchange willingly
    Sherlock Holmes closed his eyes and placed his            the charming climate of Florida for the lonely life
elbows upon the arms of his chair, with his finger-            of an English provincial town. His extreme love
tips together. “The ideal reasoner,” he remarked,             of solitude in England suggests the idea that he
“would, when he had once been shown a single                  was in fear of someone or something, so we may
fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all         assume as a working hypothesis that it was fear
the chain of events which led up to it but also all           of someone or something which drove him from
the results which would follow from it. As Cu-                America. As to what it was he feared, we can only
vier could correctly describe a whole animal by               deduce that by considering the formidable letters
the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer           which were received by himself and his successors.
who has thoroughly understood one link in a se-               Did you remark the postmarks of those letters?”
ries of incidents should be able to accurately state
all the other ones, both before and after. We have               “The first was from Pondicherry, the second
not yet grasped the results which the reason alone            from Dundee, and the third from London.”
can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study               “From East London. What do you deduce from
which have baffled all those who have sought a so-             that?”
lution by the aid of their senses. To carry the art,
                                                                 “They are all seaports. That the writer was on
however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that
                                                              board of a ship.”
the reasoner should be able to utilise all the facts
which have come to his knowledge; and this in it-                 “Excellent. We have already a clue. There can
self implies, as you will readily see, a possession           be no doubt that the probability—the strong prob-
of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free           ability—is that the writer was on board of a ship.
education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare              And now let us consider another point. In the case
accomplishment. It is not so impossible, however,             of Pondicherry, seven weeks elapsed between the
that a man should possess all knowledge which is              threat and its fulfilment, in Dundee it was only
likely to be useful to him in his work, and this I            some three or four days. Does that suggest any-
have endeavoured in my case to do. If I remember              thing?”
rightly, you on one occasion, in the early days of               “A greater distance to travel.”
our friendship, defined my limits in a very precise
fashion.”                                                        “But the letter had also a greater distance to
                                                              come.”
    “Yes,” I answered, laughing. “It was a singu-
lar document. Philosophy, astronomy, and politics                “Then I do not see the point.”
were marked at zero, I remember. Botany vari-                    “There is at least a presumption that the vessel
able, geology profound as regards the mud-stains              in which the man or men are is a sailing-ship. It

                                                        180
                                              The Five Orange Pips

looks as if they always send their singular warn-                      marked man in some fantastic but generally
ing or token before them when starting upon their                      recognised shape—a sprig of oak-leaves in
mission. You see how quickly the deed followed                         some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in
the sign when it came from Dundee. If they had                         others. On receiving this the victim might
come from Pondicherry in a steamer they would                          either openly abjure his former ways, or
have arrived almost as soon as their letter. But, as                   might fly from the country. If he braved the
a matter of fact, seven weeks elapsed. I think that                    matter out, death would unfailingly come
those seven weeks represented the difference be-                       upon him, and usually in some strange and
tween the mail-boat which brought the letter and                       unforeseen manner. So perfect was the or-
the sailing vessel which brought the writer.”                          ganisation of the society, and so systematic
   “It is possible.”                                                   its methods, that there is hardly a case upon
                                                                       record where any man succeeded in braving
   “More than that. It is probable. And now you                        it with impunity, or in which any of its out-
see the deadly urgency of this new case, and why I                     rages were traced home to the perpetrators.
urged young Openshaw to caution. The blow has                          For some years the organisation flourished
always fallen at the end of the time which it would                    in spite of the efforts of the United States
take the senders to travel the distance. But this                      government and of the better classes of the
one comes from London, and therefore we cannot                         community in the South. Eventually, in
count upon delay.”                                                     the year 1869, the movement rather sud-
    “Good God!” I cried. “What can it mean, this                       denly collapsed, although there have been
relentless persecution?”                                               sporadic outbreaks of the same sort since
    “The papers which Openshaw carried are obvi-                       that date.’
ously of vital importance to the person or persons
in the sailing-ship. I think that it is quite clear that         “You will observe,” said Holmes, laying down the
there must be more than one of them. A single                    volume, “that the sudden breaking up of the so-
man could not have carried out two deaths in such                ciety was coincident with the disappearance of
a way as to deceive a coroner’s jury. There must                 Openshaw from America with their papers. It may
have been several in it, and they must have been                 well have been cause and effect. It is no wonder
men of resource and determination. Their papers                  that he and his family have some of the more im-
they mean to have, be the holder of them who it                  placable spirits upon their track. You can under-
may. In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the               stand that this register and diary may implicate
initials of an individual and becomes the badge of               some of the first men in the South, and that there
a society.”                                                      may be many who will not sleep easy at night until
                                                                 it is recovered.”
   “But of what society?”
   “Have you never—” said Sherlock Holmes,                          “Then the page we have seen—”
bending forward and sinking his voice—“have you
never heard of the Ku Klux Klan?”                                    “Is such as we might expect. It ran, if I remem-
                                                                 ber right, ‘sent the pips to A, B, and C’—that is,
   “I never have.”
                                                                 sent the society’s warning to them. Then there are
   Holmes turned over the leaves of the book                     successive entries that A and B cleared, or left the
upon his knee. “Here it is,” said he presently:                  country, and finally that C was visited, with, I fear,
     “ ‘Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the                    a sinister result for C. Well, I think, Doctor, that we
     fanciful resemblance to the sound produced                  may let some light into this dark place, and I be-
     by cocking a rifle. This terrible secret soci-               lieve that the only chance young Openshaw has in
     ety was formed by some ex-Confederate sol-                  the meantime is to do what I have told him. There
     diers in the Southern states after the Civil                is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night,
     War, and it rapidly formed local branches                   so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget
     in different parts of the country, notably in               for half an hour the miserable weather and the still
     Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Geor-                  more miserable ways of our fellow-men.”
     gia, and Florida. Its power was used for po-
     litical purposes, principally for the terroris-                It had cleared in the morning, and the sun was
     ing of the negro voters and the murdering                   shining with a subdued brightness through the
     and driving from the country of those who                   dim veil which hangs over the great city. Sher-
     were opposed to its views. Its outrages were                lock Holmes was already at breakfast when I came
     usually preceded by a warning sent to the                   down.

                                                           181
                                          The Five Orange Pips

    “You will excuse me for not waiting for you,”            upon this gang. That he should come to me for
said he; “I have, I foresee, a very busy day be-             help, and that I should send him away to his
fore me in looking into this case of young Open-             death—!” He sprang from his chair and paced
shaw’s.”                                                     about the room in uncontrollable agitation, with a
    “What steps will you take?” I asked.                     flush upon his sallow cheeks and a nervous clasp-
                                                             ing and unclasping of his long thin hands.
    “It will very much depend upon the results of
my first inquiries. I may have to go down to Hor-                 “They must be cunning devils,” he exclaimed
sham, after all.”                                            at last. “How could they have decoyed him down
                                                             there? The Embankment is not on the direct line
    “You will not go there first?”                            to the station. The bridge, no doubt, was too
    “No, I shall commence with the City. Just ring           crowded, even on such a night, for their purpose.
the bell and the maid will bring up your coffee.”            Well, Watson, we shall see who will win in the long
    As I waited, I lifted the unopened newspaper             run. I am going out now!”
from the table and glanced my eye over it. It rested             “To the police?”
upon a heading which sent a chill to my heart.                   “No; I shall be my own police. When I have
    “Holmes,” I cried, “you are too late.”                   spun the web they may take the flies, but not be-
    “Ah!” said he, laying down his cup, “I feared            fore.”
as much. How was it done?” He spoke calmly, but                  All day I was engaged in my professional work,
I could see that he was deeply moved.                        and it was late in the evening before I returned
    “My eye caught the name of Openshaw, and                 to Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes had not come
the heading ‘Tragedy Near Waterloo Bridge.’ Here             back yet. It was nearly ten o’clock before he en-
is the account:                                              tered, looking pale and worn. He walked up to
                                                             the sideboard, and tearing a piece from the loaf he
      “Between nine and ten last night Police-
                                                             devoured it voraciously, washing it down with a
      Constable Cook, of the H Division, on duty
                                                             long draught of water.
      near Waterloo Bridge, heard a cry for help
      and a splash in the water. The night, how-                 “You are hungry,” I remarked.
      ever, was extremely dark and stormy, so                    “Starving. It had escaped my memory. I have
      that, in spite of the help of several passers-         had nothing since breakfast.”
      by, it was quite impossible to effect a res-               “Nothing?”
      cue. The alarm, however, was given, and,                   “Not a bite. I had no time to think of it.”
      by the aid of the water-police, the body was               “And how have you succeeded?”
      eventually recovered. It proved to be that of              “Well.”
      a young gentleman whose name, as it ap-
                                                                 “You have a clue?”
      pears from an envelope which was found in
      his pocket, was John Openshaw, and whose                   “I have them in the hollow of my hand. Young
      residence is near Horsham. It is conjec-               Openshaw shall not long remain unavenged. Why,
      tured that he may have been hurrying down              Watson, let us put their own devilish trade-mark
      to catch the last train from Waterloo Sta-             upon them. It is well thought of!”
      tion, and that in his haste and the extreme                “What do you mean?”
      darkness he missed his path and walked                     He took an orange from the cupboard, and
      over the edge of one of the small landing-             tearing it to pieces he squeezed out the pips upon
      places for river steamboats. The body ex-              the table. Of these he took five and thrust them
      hibited no traces of violence, and there can           into an envelope. On the inside of the flap he
      be no doubt that the deceased had been the             wrote “S. H. for J. O.” Then he sealed it and ad-
      victim of an unfortunate accident, which               dressed it to “Captain James Calhoun, Barque Lone
      should have the effect of calling the atten-           Star, Savannah, Georgia.”
      tion of the authorities to the condition of                “That will await him when he enters port,” said
      the riverside landing-stages.”                         he, chuckling. “It may give him a sleepless night.
We sat in silence for some minutes, Holmes more              He will find it as sure a precursor of his fate as
depressed and shaken than I had ever seen him.               Openshaw did before him.”
    “That hurts my pride, Watson,” he said at last.              “And who is this Captain Calhoun?”
“It is a petty feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my                “The leader of the gang. I shall have the others,
pride. It becomes a personal matter with me now,             but he first.”
and, if God sends me health, I shall set my hand                 “How did you trace it, then?”

                                                       182
    He took a large sheet of paper from his pocket,    passed some time ago, and as the wind is easterly
all covered with dates and names.                      I have no doubt that she is now past the Goodwins
    “I have spent the whole day,” said he, “over       and not very far from the Isle of Wight.”
Lloyd’s registers and files of the old papers, fol-        “What will you do, then?”
lowing the future career of every vessel which             “Oh, I have my hand upon him. He and the
touched at Pondicherry in January and February         two mates, are as I learn, the only native-born
in ’83. There were thirty-six ships of fair tonnage    Americans in the ship. The others are Finns and
which were reported there during those months.         Germans. I know, also, that they were all three
Of these, one, the Lone Star, instantly attracted my   away from the ship last night. I had it from the
attention, since, although it was reported as hav-     stevedore who has been loading their cargo. By
ing cleared from London, the name is that which        the time that their sailing-ship reaches Savannah
is given to one of the states of the Union.”           the mail-boat will have carried this letter, and the
   “Texas, I think.”                                   cable will have informed the police of Savannah
   “I was not and am not sure which; but I knew        that these three gentlemen are badly wanted here
that the ship must have an American origin.”           upon a charge of murder.”
   “What then?”                                            There is ever a flaw, however, in the best laid
                                                       of human plans, and the murderers of John Open-
   “I searched the Dundee records, and when I
                                                       shaw were never to receive the orange pips which
found that the barque Lone Star was there in Jan-
                                                       would show them that another, as cunning and as
uary, ’85, my suspicion became a certainty. I then
                                                       resolute as themselves, was upon their track. Very
inquired as to the vessels which lay at present in
                                                       long and very severe were the equinoctial gales
the port of London.”
                                                       that year. We waited long for news of the Lone Star
   “Yes?”                                              of Savannah, but none ever reached us. We did at
    “The Lone Star had arrived here last week. I       last hear that somewhere far out in the Atlantic a
went down to the Albert Dock and found that            shattered stern-post of a boat was seen swinging
she had been taken down the river by the early         in the trough of a wave, with the letters “L. S.”
tide this morning, homeward bound to Savannah.         carved upon it, and that is all which we shall ever
I wired to Gravesend and learned that she had          know of the fate of the Lone Star.
The Man with the Twisted Lip
I
                                     The Man with the Twisted Lip

          sa Whitney, brother of the late Elias              was? Was it possible that we could bring him back
           Whitney, D.D., Principal of the Theolog-          to her?
           ical College of St. George’s, was much                It seems that it was. She had the surest in-
           addicted to opium. The habit grew                 formation that of late he had, when the fit was
upon him, as I understand, from some foolish                 on him, made use of an opium den in the far-
freak when he was at college; for having read De             thest east of the City. Hitherto his orgies had al-
Quincey’s description of his dreams and sensa-               ways been confined to one day, and he had come
tions, he had drenched his tobacco with laudanum             back, twitching and shattered, in the evening. But
in an attempt to produce the same effects. He                now the spell had been upon him eight-and-forty
found, as so many more have done, that the prac-             hours, and he lay there, doubtless among the dregs
tice is easier to attain than to get rid of, and for         of the docks, breathing in the poison or sleeping
many years he continued to be a slave to the drug,           off the effects. There he was to be found, she was
an object of mingled horror and pity to his friends          sure of it, at the Bar of Gold, in Upper Swandam
and relatives. I can see him now, with yellow,               Lane. But what was she to do? How could she, a
pasty face, drooping lids, and pin-point pupils, all         young and timid woman, make her way into such
huddled in a chair, the wreck and ruin of a noble            a place and pluck her husband out from among
man.                                                         the ruffians who surrounded him?
    One night—it was in June, ’89—there came a                   There was the case, and of course there was
ring to my bell, about the hour when a man gives             but one way out of it. Might I not escort her to
his first yawn and glances at the clock. I sat up in          this place? And then, as a second thought, why
my chair, and my wife laid her needle-work down              should she come at all? I was Isa Whitney’s medi-
in her lap and made a little face of disappointment.         cal adviser, and as such I had influence over him. I
   “A patient!” said she. “You’ll have to go out.”           could manage it better if I were alone. I promised
  I groaned, for I was newly come back from a                her on my word that I would send him home in
weary day.                                                   a cab within two hours if he were indeed at the
                                                             address which she had given me. And so in ten
   We heard the door open, a few hurried words,              minutes I had left my armchair and cheery sitting-
and then quick steps upon the linoleum. Our own              room behind me, and was speeding eastward in a
door flew open, and a lady, clad in some dark-                hansom on a strange errand, as it seemed to me at
coloured stuff, with a black veil, entered the room.         the time, though the future only could show how
   “You will excuse my calling so late,” she began,          strange it was to be.
and then, suddenly losing her self-control, she ran              But there was no great difficulty in the first
forward, threw her arms about my wife’s neck,                stage of my adventure. Upper Swandam Lane is a
and sobbed upon her shoulder. “Oh, I’m in such               vile alley lurking behind the high wharves which
trouble!” she cried; “I do so want a little help.”           line the north side of the river to the east of Lon-
   “Why,” said my wife, pulling up her veil, “it is          don Bridge. Between a slop-shop and a gin-shop,
Kate Whitney. How you startled me, Kate! I had               approached by a steep flight of steps leading down
not an idea who you were when you came in.”                  to a black gap like the mouth of a cave, I found the
    “I didn’t know what to do, so I came straight to         den of which I was in search. Ordering my cab to
you.” That was always the way. Folk who were in              wait, I passed down the steps, worn hollow in the
grief came to my wife like birds to a light-house.           centre by the ceaseless tread of drunken feet; and
                                                             by the light of a flickering oil-lamp above the door
    “It was very sweet of you to come. Now, you              I found the latch and made my way into a long,
must have some wine and water, and sit here com-             low room, thick and heavy with the brown opium
fortably and tell us all about it. Or should you             smoke, and terraced with wooden berths, like the
rather that I sent James off to bed?”                        forecastle of an emigrant ship.
   “Oh, no, no! I want the doctor’s advice and                  Through the gloom one could dimly catch a
help, too. It’s about Isa. He has not been home for          glimpse of bodies lying in strange fantastic poses,
two days. I am so frightened about him!”                     bowed shoulders, bent knees, heads thrown back,
   It was not the first time that she had spoken to           and chins pointing upward, with here and there a
us of her husband’s trouble, to me as a doctor, to           dark, lack-lustre eye turned upon the newcomer.
my wife as an old friend and school companion.               Out of the black shadows there glimmered little
We soothed and comforted her by such words as                red circles of light, now bright, now faint, as the
we could find. Did she know where her husband                 burning poison waxed or waned in the bowls of

                                                       187
                                     The Man with the Twisted Lip

the metal pipes. The most lay silent, but some mut-          man at my side, and yet he sat now as absorbed
tered to themselves, and others talked together in a         as ever, very thin, very wrinkled, bent with age,
strange, low, monotonous voice, their conversation           an opium pipe dangling down from between his
coming in gushes, and then suddenly tailing off              knees, as though it had dropped in sheer lassi-
into silence, each mumbling out his own thoughts             tude from his fingers. I took two steps forward
and paying little heed to the words of his neigh-            and looked back. It took all my self-control to pre-
bour. At the farther end was a small brazier of              vent me from breaking out into a cry of astonish-
burning charcoal, beside which on a three-legged             ment. He had turned his back so that none could
wooden stool there sat a tall, thin old man, with            see him but I. His form had filled out, his wrinkles
his jaw resting upon his two fists, and his elbows            were gone, the dull eyes had regained their fire,
upon his knees, staring into the fire.                        and there, sitting by the fire and grinning at my
    As I entered, a sallow Malay attendant had hur-          surprise, was none other than Sherlock Holmes.
ried up with a pipe for me and a supply of the               He made a slight motion to me to approach him,
drug, beckoning me to an empty berth.                        and instantly, as he turned his face half round to
                                                             the company once more, subsided into a dodder-
   “Thank you. I have not come to stay,” said I.
                                                             ing, loose-lipped senility.
“There is a friend of mine here, Mr. Isa Whitney,
and I wish to speak with him.”                                  “Holmes!” I whispered, “what on earth are you
   There was a movement and an exclamation                   doing in this den?”
from my right, and peering through the gloom, I                  “As low as you can,” he answered; “I have ex-
saw Whitney, pale, haggard, and unkempt, staring             cellent ears. If you would have the great kindness
out at me.                                                   to get rid of that sottish friend of yours I should be
   “My God! It’s Watson,” said he. He was in                 exceedingly glad to have a little talk with you.”
a pitiable state of reaction, with every nerve in a             “I have a cab outside.”
twitter. “I say, Watson, what o’clock is it?”
                                                                 “Then pray send him home in it. You may
   “Nearly eleven.”                                          safely trust him, for he appears to be too limp to
   “Of what day?”                                            get into any mischief. I should recommend you
   “Of Friday, June 19th.”                                   also to send a note by the cabman to your wife to
                                                             say that you have thrown in your lot with me. If
    “Good heavens! I thought it was Wednesday. It
                                                             you will wait outside, I shall be with you in five
is Wednesday. What d’you want to frighten a chap
                                                             minutes.”
for?” He sank his face onto his arms and began to
sob in a high treble key.                                        It was difficult to refuse any of Sherlock
   “I tell you that it is Friday, man. Your wife has         Holmes’ requests, for they were always so exceed-
been waiting this two days for you. You should be            ingly definite, and put forward with such a quiet
ashamed of yourself!”                                        air of mastery. I felt, however, that when Whitney
                                                             was once confined in the cab my mission was prac-
   “So I am. But you’ve got mixed, Watson, for I             tically accomplished; and for the rest, I could not
have only been here a few hours, three pipes, four           wish anything better than to be associated with my
pipes—I forget how many. But I’ll go home with               friend in one of those singular adventures which
you. I wouldn’t frighten Kate—poor little Kate.              were the normal condition of his existence. In a
Give me your hand! Have you a cab?”                          few minutes I had written my note, paid Whit-
   “Yes, I have one waiting.”                                ney’s bill, led him out to the cab, and seen him
    “Then I shall go in it. But I must owe some-             driven through the darkness. In a very short time a
thing. Find what I owe, Watson. I am all off colour.         decrepit figure had emerged from the opium den,
I can do nothing for myself.”                                and I was walking down the street with Sherlock
                                                             Holmes. For two streets he shuffled along with
   I walked down the narrow passage between
                                                             a bent back and an uncertain foot. Then, glanc-
the double row of sleepers, holding my breath to
                                                             ing quickly round, he straightened himself out and
keep out the vile, stupefying fumes of the drug,
                                                             burst into a hearty fit of laughter.
and looking about for the manager. As I passed
the tall man who sat by the brazier I felt a sud-                “I suppose, Watson,” said he, “that you imag-
den pluck at my skirt, and a low voice whispered,            ine that I have added opium-smoking to cocaine
“Walk past me, and then look back at me.” The                injections, and all the other little weaknesses on
words fell quite distinctly upon my ear. I glanced           which you have favoured me with your medical
down. They could only have come from the old                 views.”

                                                       188
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

   “I was certainly surprised to find you there.”              of sombre and deserted streets, which widened
   “But not more so than I to find you.”                       gradually, until we were flying across a broad
                                                              balustraded bridge, with the murky river flow-
   “I came to find a friend.”
                                                              ing sluggishly beneath us. Beyond lay another
   “And I to find an enemy.”                                   dull wilderness of bricks and mortar, its silence
   “An enemy?”                                                broken only by the heavy, regular footfall of the
    “Yes; one of my natural enemies, or, shall I say,         policeman, or the songs and shouts of some be-
my natural prey. Briefly, Watson, I am in the midst            lated party of revellers. A dull wrack was drift-
of a very remarkable inquiry, and I have hoped                ing slowly across the sky, and a star or two twin-
to find a clue in the incoherent ramblings of these            kled dimly here and there through the rifts of the
sots, as I have done before now. Had I been recog-            clouds. Holmes drove in silence, with his head
nised in that den my life would not have been                 sunk upon his breast, and the air of a man who
worth an hour’s purchase; for I have used it be-              is lost in thought, while I sat beside him, curi-
fore now for my own purposes, and the rascally                ous to learn what this new quest might be which
Lascar who runs it has sworn to have vengeance                seemed to tax his powers so sorely, and yet afraid
upon me. There is a trap-door at the back of that             to break in upon the current of his thoughts. We
building, near the corner of Paul’s Wharf, which              had driven several miles, and were beginning to
could tell some strange tales of what has passed              get to the fringe of the belt of suburban villas,
through it upon the moonless nights.”                         when he shook himself, shrugged his shoulders,
                                                              and lit up his pipe with the air of a man who has
   “What! You do not mean bodies?”                            satisfied himself that he is acting for the best.
    “Ay, bodies, Watson. We should be rich men if
                                                                 “You have a grand gift of silence, Watson,” said
we had £1000 for every poor devil who has been
                                                              he. “It makes you quite invaluable as a compan-
done to death in that den. It is the vilest murder-
                                                              ion. ’Pon my word, it is a great thing for me to
trap on the whole riverside, and I fear that Neville
                                                              have someone to talk to, for my own thoughts are
St. Clair has entered it never to leave it more. But
                                                              not over-pleasant. I was wondering what I should
our trap should be here.” He put his two fore-
                                                              say to this dear little woman to-night when she
fingers between his teeth and whistled shrilly—a
                                                              meets me at the door.”
signal which was answered by a similar whistle
from the distance, followed shortly by the rattle of             “You forget that I know nothing about it.”
wheels and the clink of horses’ hoofs.                           “I shall just have time to tell you the facts of
   “Now, Watson,” said Holmes, as a tall dog-                 the case before we get to Lee. It seems absurdly
cart dashed up through the gloom, throwing out                simple, and yet, somehow I can get nothing to go
two golden tunnels of yellow light from its side              upon. There’s plenty of thread, no doubt, but I
lanterns. “You’ll come with me, won’t you?”                   can’t get the end of it into my hand. Now, I’ll state
                                                              the case clearly and concisely to you, Watson, and
   “If I can be of use.”
                                                              maybe you can see a spark where all is dark to
   “Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use; and a              me.”
chronicler still more so. My room at The Cedars is
                                                                 “Proceed, then.”
a double-bedded one.”
   “The Cedars?”                                                  “Some years ago—to be definite, in May,
                                                              1884—there came to Lee a gentleman, Neville St.
   “Yes; that is Mr. St. Clair’s house. I am staying          Clair by name, who appeared to have plenty of
there while I conduct the inquiry.”                           money. He took a large villa, laid out the grounds
   “Where is it, then?”                                       very nicely, and lived generally in good style. By
   “Near Lee, in Kent. We have a seven-mile drive             degrees he made friends in the neighbourhood,
before us.”                                                   and in 1887 he married the daughter of a local
                                                              brewer, by whom he now has two children. He
   “But I am all in the dark.”
                                                              had no occupation, but was interested in several
   “Of course you are. You’ll know all about it               companies and went into town as a rule in the
presently. Jump up here. All right, John; we shall            morning, returning by the 5.14 from Cannon Street
not need you. Here’s half a crown. Look out for               every night. Mr. St. Clair is now thirty-seven years
me to-morrow, about eleven. Give her her head.                of age, is a man of temperate habits, a good hus-
So long, then!”                                               band, a very affectionate father, and a man who
   He flicked the horse with his whip, and                     is popular with all who know him. I may add
we dashed away through the endless succession                 that his whole debts at the present moment, as far

                                                        189
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

as we have been able to ascertain, amount to £88              fears, she rushed down the lane and, by rare good-
10s., while he has £220 standing to his credit in the         fortune, met in Fresno Street a number of consta-
Capital and Counties Bank. There is no reason,                bles with an inspector, all on their way to their
therefore, to think that money troubles have been             beat. The inspector and two men accompanied her
weighing upon his mind.                                       back, and in spite of the continued resistance of
    “Last Monday Mr. Neville St. Clair went into              the proprietor, they made their way to the room in
town rather earlier than usual, remarking before              which Mr. St. Clair had last been seen. There was
he started that he had two important commis-                  no sign of him there. In fact, in the whole of that
sions to perform, and that he would bring his lit-            floor there was no one to be found save a crippled
tle boy home a box of bricks. Now, by the mer-                wretch of hideous aspect, who, it seems, made his
est chance, his wife received a telegram upon this            home there. Both he and the Lascar stoutly swore
same Monday, very shortly after his departure, to             that no one else had been in the front room dur-
the effect that a small parcel of considerable value          ing the afternoon. So determined was their denial
which she had been expecting was waiting for her              that the inspector was staggered, and had almost
at the offices of the Aberdeen Shipping Company.               come to believe that Mrs. St. Clair had been de-
Now, if you are well up in your London, you will              luded when, with a cry, she sprang at a small deal
know that the office of the company is in Fresno               box which lay upon the table and tore the lid from
Street, which branches out of Upper Swandam                   it. Out there fell a cascade of children’s bricks. It
Lane, where you found me to-night. Mrs. St. Clair             was the toy which he had promised to bring home.
had her lunch, started for the City, did some shop-               “This discovery, and the evident confusion
ping, proceeded to the company’s office, got her               which the cripple showed, made the inspector re-
packet, and found herself at exactly 4.35 walking             alise that the matter was serious. The rooms were
through Swandam Lane on her way back to the                   carefully examined, and results all pointed to an
station. Have you followed me so far?”                        abominable crime. The front room was plainly fur-
                                                              nished as a sitting-room and led into a small bed-
   “It is very clear.”
                                                              room, which looked out upon the back of one of
    “If you remember, Monday was an exceedingly               the wharves. Between the wharf and the bedroom
hot day, and Mrs. St. Clair walked slowly, glancing           window is a narrow strip, which is dry at low tide
about in the hope of seeing a cab, as she did not             but is covered at high tide with at least four and
like the neighbourhood in which she found her-                a half feet of water. The bedroom window was
self. While she was walking in this way down                  a broad one and opened from below. On exam-
Swandam Lane, she suddenly heard an ejacula-                  ination traces of blood were to be seen upon the
tion or cry, and was struck cold to see her hus-              windowsill, and several scattered drops were visi-
band looking down at her and, as it seemed to her,            ble upon the wooden floor of the bedroom. Thrust
beckoning to her from a second-floor window. The               away behind a curtain in the front room were all
window was open, and she distinctly saw his face,             the clothes of Mr. Neville St. Clair, with the excep-
which she describes as being terribly agitated. He            tion of his coat. His boots, his socks, his hat, and
waved his hands frantically to her, and then van-             his watch—all were there. There were no signs of
ished from the window so suddenly that it seemed              violence upon any of these garments, and there
to her that he had been plucked back by some ir-              were no other traces of Mr. Neville St. Clair. Out
resistible force from behind. One singular point              of the window he must apparently have gone for
which struck her quick feminine eye was that al-              no other exit could be discovered, and the ominous
though he wore some dark coat, such as he had                 bloodstains upon the sill gave little promise that he
started to town in, he had on neither collar nor              could save himself by swimming, for the tide was
necktie.                                                      at its very highest at the moment of the tragedy.
    “Convinced that something was amiss with                     “And now as to the villains who seemed to be
him, she rushed down the steps—for the house                  immediately implicated in the matter. The Lascar
was none other than the opium den in which you                was known to be a man of the vilest antecedents,
found me to-night—and running through the front               but as, by Mrs. St. Clair’s story, he was known to
room she attempted to ascend the stairs which led             have been at the foot of the stair within a very
to the first floor. At the foot of the stairs, however,         few seconds of her husband’s appearance at the
she met this Lascar scoundrel of whom I have spo-             window, he could hardly have been more than an
ken, who thrust her back and, aided by a Dane,                accessory to the crime. His defence was one of
who acts as assistant there, pushed her out into the          absolute ignorance, and he protested that he had
street. Filled with the most maddening doubts and             no knowledge as to the doings of Hugh Boone,

                                                        190
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

his lodger, and that he could not account in any              upon the matter. One mistake had been made in
way for the presence of the missing gentleman’s               not arresting Boone instantly, as he was allowed
clothes.                                                      some few minutes during which he might have
    “So much for the Lascar manager. Now for the              communicated with his friend the Lascar, but this
sinister cripple who lives upon the second floor               fault was soon remedied, and he was seized and
of the opium den, and who was certainly the last              searched, without anything being found which
human being whose eyes rested upon Neville St.                could incriminate him. There were, it is true,
Clair. His name is Hugh Boone, and his hideous                some blood-stains upon his right shirt-sleeve, but
face is one which is familiar to every man who                he pointed to his ring-finger, which had been cut
goes much to the City. He is a professional beggar,           near the nail, and explained that the bleeding came
though in order to avoid the police regulations he            from there, adding that he had been to the win-
pretends to a small trade in wax vestas. Some little          dow not long before, and that the stains which had
distance down Threadneedle Street, upon the left-             been observed there came doubtless from the same
hand side, there is, as you may have remarked, a              source. He denied strenuously having ever seen
small angle in the wall. Here it is that this crea-           Mr. Neville St. Clair and swore that the presence
ture takes his daily seat, cross-legged with his tiny         of the clothes in his room was as much a mystery
stock of matches on his lap, and as he is a piteous           to him as to the police. As to Mrs. St. Clair’s as-
spectacle a small rain of charity descends into the           sertion that she had actually seen her husband at
greasy leather cap which lies upon the pavement               the window, he declared that she must have been
beside him. I have watched the fellow more than               either mad or dreaming. He was removed, loudly
once before ever I thought of making his profes-              protesting, to the police-station, while the inspec-
sional acquaintance, and I have been surprised at             tor remained upon the premises in the hope that
the harvest which he has reaped in a short time.              the ebbing tide might afford some fresh clue.
His appearance, you see, is so remarkable that no                “And it did, though they hardly found upon
one can pass him without observing him. A shock               the mud-bank what they had feared to find. It was
of orange hair, a pale face disfigured by a horrible           Neville St. Clair’s coat, and not Neville St. Clair,
scar, which, by its contraction, has turned up the            which lay uncovered as the tide receded. And
outer edge of his upper lip, a bulldog chin, and a            what do you think they found in the pockets?”
pair of very penetrating dark eyes, which present a              “I cannot imagine.”
singular contrast to the colour of his hair, all mark
him out from amid the common crowd of mendi-                      “No, I don’t think you would guess. Every
cants and so, too, does his wit, for he is ever ready         pocket stuffed with pennies and half-pennies—421
with a reply to any piece of chaff which may be               pennies and 270 half-pennies. It was no wonder
thrown at him by the passers-by. This is the man              that it had not been swept away by the tide. But a
whom we now learn to have been the lodger at the              human body is a different matter. There is a fierce
opium den, and to have been the last man to see               eddy between the wharf and the house. It seemed
the gentleman of whom we are in quest.”                       likely enough that the weighted coat had remained
                                                              when the stripped body had been sucked away
    “But a cripple!” said I. “What could he have              into the river.”
done single-handed against a man in the prime of
life?”                                                           “But I understand that all the other clothes
                                                              were found in the room. Would the body be
    “He is a cripple in the sense that he walks with          dressed in a coat alone?”
a limp; but in other respects he appears to be
a powerful and well-nurtured man. Surely your                     “No, sir, but the facts might be met speciously
medical experience would tell you, Watson, that               enough. Suppose that this man Boone had thrust
weakness in one limb is often compensated for by              Neville St. Clair through the window, there is no
exceptional strength in the others.”                          human eye which could have seen the deed. What
                                                              would he do then? It would of course instantly
   “Pray continue your narrative.”                            strike him that he must get rid of the tell-tale gar-
   “Mrs. St. Clair had fainted at the sight of the            ments. He would seize the coat, then, and be in
blood upon the window, and she was escorted                   the act of throwing it out, when it would occur to
home in a cab by the police, as her presence could            him that it would swim and not sink. He has little
be of no help to them in their investigations. In-            time, for he has heard the scuffle downstairs when
spector Barton, who had charge of the case, made              the wife tried to force her way up, and perhaps
a very careful examination of the premises, but               he has already heard from his Lascar confederate
without finding anything which threw any light                 that the police are hurrying up the street. There is

                                                        191
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

not an instant to be lost. He rushes to some secret           run out to the horse’s head, and springing down,
hoard, where he has accumulated the fruits of his             I followed Holmes up the small, winding gravel-
beggary, and he stuffs all the coins upon which he            drive which led to the house. As we approached,
can lay his hands into the pockets to make sure of            the door flew open, and a little blonde woman
the coat’s sinking. He throws it out, and would               stood in the opening, clad in some sort of light
have done the same with the other garments had                mousseline de soie, with a touch of fluffy pink
not he heard the rush of steps below, and only just           chiffon at her neck and wrists. She stood with
had time to close the window when the police ap-              her figure outlined against the flood of light, one
peared.”                                                      hand upon the door, one half-raised in her eager-
   “It certainly sounds feasible.”                            ness, her body slightly bent, her head and face pro-
                                                              truded, with eager eyes and parted lips, a standing
    “Well, we will take it as a working hypothesis            question.
for want of a better. Boone, as I have told you,                  “Well?” she cried, “well?” And then, seeing
was arrested and taken to the station, but it could           that there were two of us, she gave a cry of hope
not be shown that there had ever before been any-             which sank into a groan as she saw that my com-
thing against him. He had for years been known                panion shook his head and shrugged his shoul-
as a professional beggar, but his life appeared to            ders.
have been a very quiet and innocent one. There the
                                                                  “No good news?”
matter stands at present, and the questions which
have to be solved—what Neville St. Clair was do-                  “None.”
ing in the opium den, what happened to him when                   “No bad?”
there, where is he now, and what Hugh Boone had                   “No.”
to do with his disappearance—are all as far from                  “Thank God for that. But come in. You must
a solution as ever. I confess that I cannot recall            be weary, for you have had a long day.”
any case within my experience which looked at                     “This is my friend, Dr. Watson. He has been of
the first glance so simple and yet which presented             most vital use to me in several of my cases, and a
such difficulties.”                                            lucky chance has made it possible for me to bring
     While Sherlock Holmes had been detailing this            him out and associate him with this investigation.”
singular series of events, we had been whirling                   “I am delighted to see you,” said she, press-
through the outskirts of the great town until the             ing my hand warmly. “You will, I am sure, for-
last straggling houses had been left behind, and              give anything that may be wanting in our arrange-
we rattled along with a country hedge upon either             ments, when you consider the blow which has
side of us. Just as he finished, however, we drove             come so suddenly upon us.”
through two scattered villages, where a few lights                “My dear madam,” said I, “I am an old cam-
still glimmered in the windows.                               paigner, and if I were not I can very well see that
                                                              no apology is needed. If I can be of any assistance,
    “We are on the outskirts of Lee,” said my com-
                                                              either to you or to my friend here, I shall be indeed
panion. “We have touched on three English coun-
                                                              happy.”
ties in our short drive, starting in Middlesex, pass-
                                                                  “Now, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said the lady as
ing over an angle of Surrey, and ending in Kent.
                                                              we entered a well-lit dining-room, upon the ta-
See that light among the trees? That is The Cedars,
                                                              ble of which a cold supper had been laid out, “I
and beside that lamp sits a woman whose anxious
                                                              should very much like to ask you one or two plain
ears have already, I have little doubt, caught the
                                                              questions, to which I beg that you will give a plain
clink of our horse’s feet.”
                                                              answer.”
   “But why are you not conducting the case from                  “Certainly, madam.”
Baker Street?” I asked.                                           “Do not trouble about my feelings. I am not
    “Because there are many inquiries which must              hysterical, nor given to fainting. I simply wish to
be made out here. Mrs. St. Clair has most kindly              hear your real, real opinion.”
put two rooms at my disposal, and you may rest                    “Upon what point?”
assured that she will have nothing but a welcome                  “In your heart of hearts, do you think that
for my friend and colleague. I hate to meet her,              Neville is alive?”
Watson, when I have no news of her husband.                       Sherlock Holmes seemed to be embarrassed by
Here we are. Whoa, there, whoa!”                              the question. “Frankly, now!” she repeated, stand-
   We had pulled up in front of a large villa which           ing upon the rug and looking keenly down at him
stood within its own grounds. A stable-boy had                as he leaned back in a basket-chair.

                                                        192
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

     “Frankly, then, madam, I do not.”                               “Dearest do not be frightened. All
     “You think that he is dead?”                                  will come well. There is a huge error
                                                                   which it may take some little time to
     “I do.”
                                                                   rectify. Wait in patience.
     “Murdered?”                                                                               “Neville.
     “I don’t say that. Perhaps.”
                                                                  Written in pencil upon the fly-leaf of a book,
     “And on what day did he meet his death?”
                                                              octavo size, no water-mark. Hum! Posted to-day
     “On Monday.”                                             in Gravesend by a man with a dirty thumb. Ha!
     “Then perhaps, Mr. Holmes, you will be good              And the flap has been gummed, if I am not very
enough to explain how it is that I have received a            much in error, by a person who had been chewing
letter from him to-day.”                                      tobacco. And you have no doubt that it is your
     Sherlock Holmes sprang out of his chair as if            husband’s hand, madam?”
he had been galvanised.                                           “None. Neville wrote those words.”
     “What!” he roared.                                           “And they were posted to-day at Gravesend.
                                                              Well, Mrs. St. Clair, the clouds lighten, though I
     “Yes, to-day.” She stood smiling, holding up a
                                                              should not venture to say that the danger is over.”
little slip of paper in the air.
                                                                  “But he must be alive, Mr. Holmes.”
     “May I see it?”
                                                                  “Unless this is a clever forgery to put us on the
     “Certainly.”                                             wrong scent. The ring, after all, proves nothing. It
     He snatched it from her in his eagerness, and            may have been taken from him.”
smoothing it out upon the table he drew over the                  “No, no; it is, it is his very own writing!”
lamp and examined it intently. I had left my chair                “Very well. It may, however, have been written
and was gazing at it over his shoulder. The enve-             on Monday and only posted to-day.”
lope was a very coarse one and was stamped with
                                                                  “That is possible.”
the Gravesend postmark and with the date of that
very day, or rather of the day before, for it was                 “If so, much may have happened between.”
considerably after midnight.                                      “Oh, you must not discourage me, Mr. Holmes.
                                                              I know that all is well with him. There is so keen
     “Coarse writing,” murmured Holmes. “Surely
                                                              a sympathy between us that I should know if evil
this is not your husband’s writing, madam.”
                                                              came upon him. On the very day that I saw him
     “No, but the enclosure is.”                              last he cut himself in the bedroom, and yet I in the
     “I perceive also that whoever addressed the en-          dining-room rushed upstairs instantly with the ut-
velope had to go and inquire as to the address.”              most certainty that something had happened. Do
     “How can you tell that?”                                 you think that I would respond to such a trifle and
                                                              yet be ignorant of his death?”
     “The name, you see, is in perfectly black ink,
which has dried itself. The rest is of the greyish                “I have seen too much not to know that the im-
colour, which shows that blotting-paper has been              pression of a woman may be more valuable than
used. If it had been written straight off, and then           the conclusion of an analytical reasoner. And in
blotted, none would be of a deep black shade. This            this letter you certainly have a very strong piece of
man has written the name, and there has then been             evidence to corroborate your view. But if your hus-
a pause before he wrote the address, which can                band is alive and able to write letters, why should
only mean that he was not familiar with it. It is, of         he remain away from you?”
course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important                “I cannot imagine. It is unthinkable.”
as trifles. Let us now see the letter. Ha! there has               “And on Monday he made no remarks before
been an enclosure here!”                                      leaving you?”
     “Yes, there was a ring. His signet-ring.”                    “No.”
     “And you are sure that this is your husband’s                “And you were surprised to see him in Swan-
hand?”                                                        dam Lane?”
     “One of his hands.”                                          “Very much so.”
     “One?”                                                       “Was the window open?”
                                                                  “Yes.”
     “His hand when he wrote hurriedly. It is very
unlike his usual writing, and yet I know it well.”                “Then he might have called to you?”
                                                                  “He might.”

                                                        193
                                     The Man with the Twisted Lip

   “He only, as I understand, gave an inarticulate           the ceiling, the blue smoke curling up from him,
cry?”                                                        silent, motionless, with the light shining upon his
   “Yes.”                                                    strong-set aquiline features. So he sat as I dropped
                                                             off to sleep, and so he sat when a sudden ejac-
   “A call for help, you thought?”
                                                             ulation caused me to wake up, and I found the
   “Yes. He waved his hands.”                                summer sun shining into the apartment. The pipe
   “But it might have been a cry of surprise. As-            was still between his lips, the smoke still curled
tonishment at the unexpected sight of you might              upward, and the room was full of a dense tobacco
cause him to throw up his hands?”                            haze, but nothing remained of the heap of shag
   “It is possible.”                                         which I had seen upon the previous night.
                                                                 “Awake, Watson?” he asked.
   “And you thought he was pulled back?”
                                                                 “Yes.”
   “He disappeared so suddenly.”
                                                                 “Game for a morning drive?”
   “He might have leaped back. You did not see                   “Certainly.”
anyone else in the room?”
                                                                 “Then dress. No one is stirring yet, but I know
    “No, but this horrible man confessed to having           where the stable-boy sleeps, and we shall soon
been there, and the Lascar was at the foot of the            have the trap out.” He chuckled to himself as he
stairs.”                                                     spoke, his eyes twinkled, and he seemed a dif-
   “Quite so. Your husband, as far as you could              ferent man to the sombre thinker of the previous
see, had his ordinary clothes on?”                           night.
    “But without his collar or tie. I distinctly saw             As I dressed I glanced at my watch. It was no
his bare throat.”                                            wonder that no one was stirring. It was twenty-
                                                             five minutes past four. I had hardly finished when
   “Had he ever spoken of Swandam Lane?”
                                                             Holmes returned with the news that the boy was
   “Never.”                                                  putting in the horse.
   “Had he ever showed any signs of having taken                 “I want to test a little theory of mine,” said he,
opium?”                                                      pulling on his boots. “I think, Watson, that you are
   “Never.”                                                  now standing in the presence of one of the most
    “Thank you, Mrs. St. Clair. Those are the prin-          absolute fools in Europe. I deserve to be kicked
cipal points about which I wished to be abso-                from here to Charing Cross. But I think I have the
lutely clear. We shall now have a little supper and          key of the affair now.”
then retire, for we may have a very busy day to-                 “And where is it?” I asked, smiling.
morrow.”                                                         “In the bathroom,” he answered. “Oh, yes, I
    A large and comfortable double-bedded room               am not joking,” he continued, seeing my look of
had been placed at our disposal, and I was quickly           incredulity. “I have just been there, and I have
between the sheets, for I was weary after my night           taken it out, and I have got it in this Gladstone
of adventure. Sherlock Holmes was a man, how-                bag. Come on, my boy, and we shall see whether
ever, who, when he had an unsolved problem                   it will not fit the lock.”
upon his mind, would go for days, and even for                   We made our way downstairs as quietly as pos-
a week, without rest, turning it over, rearranging           sible, and out into the bright morning sunshine.
his facts, looking at it from every point of view            In the road stood our horse and trap, with the
until he had either fathomed it or convinced him-            half-clad stable-boy waiting at the head. We both
self that his data were insufficient. It was soon             sprang in, and away we dashed down the London
evident to me that he was now preparing for an               Road. A few country carts were stirring, bearing in
all-night sitting. He took off his coat and waist-           vegetables to the metropolis, but the lines of villas
coat, put on a large blue dressing-gown, and then            on either side were as silent and lifeless as some
wandered about the room collecting pillows from              city in a dream.
his bed and cushions from the sofa and armchairs.                “It has been in some points a singular case,”
With these he constructed a sort of Eastern divan,           said Holmes, flicking the horse on into a gallop. “I
upon which he perched himself cross-legged, with             confess that I have been as blind as a mole, but it
an ounce of shag tobacco and a box of matches laid           is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn
out in front of him. In the dim light of the lamp            it at all.”
I saw him sitting there, an old briar pipe between               In town the earliest risers were just begin-
his lips, his eyes fixed vacantly upon the corner of          ning to look sleepily from their windows as we

                                                       194
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

drove through the streets of the Surrey side. Pass-               We both put our eyes to the grating. The pris-
ing down the Waterloo Bridge Road we crossed                  oner lay with his face towards us, in a very deep
over the river, and dashing up Wellington Street              sleep, breathing slowly and heavily. He was a
wheeled sharply to the right and found ourselves              middle-sized man, coarsely clad as became his
in Bow Street. Sherlock Holmes was well known                 calling, with a coloured shirt protruding through
to the force, and the two constables at the door              the rent in his tattered coat. He was, as the inspec-
saluted him. One of them held the horse’s head                tor had said, extremely dirty, but the grime which
while the other led us in.                                    covered his face could not conceal its repulsive ug-
   “Who is on duty?” asked Holmes.                            liness. A broad wheal from an old scar ran right
                                                              across it from eye to chin, and by its contraction
   “Inspector Bradstreet, sir.”                               had turned up one side of the upper lip, so that
    “Ah, Bradstreet, how are you?” A tall, stout of-          three teeth were exposed in a perpetual snarl. A
ficial had come down the stone-flagged passage, in              shock of very bright red hair grew low over his
a peaked cap and frogged jacket. “I wish to have a            eyes and forehead.
quiet word with you, Bradstreet.” “Certainly, Mr.                “He’s a beauty, isn’t he?” said the inspector.
Holmes. Step into my room here.” It was a small,
office-like room, with a huge ledger upon the ta-                 “He certainly needs a wash,” remarked
ble, and a telephone projecting from the wall. The            Holmes. “I had an idea that he might, and I
inspector sat down at his desk.                               took the liberty of bringing the tools with me.” He
                                                              opened the Gladstone bag as he spoke, and took
   “What can I do for you, Mr. Holmes?”
                                                              out, to my astonishment, a very large bath-sponge.
   “I called about that beggarman, Boone—the
                                                                 “He! he! You are a funny one,” chuckled the
one who was charged with being concerned in the
                                                              inspector.
disappearance of Mr. Neville St. Clair, of Lee.”
    “Yes. He was brought up and remanded for                     “Now, if you will have the great goodness to
further inquiries.”                                           open that door very quietly, we will soon make
                                                              him cut a much more respectable figure.”
   “So I heard. You have him here?”
                                                                  “Well, I don’t know why not,” said the inspec-
   “In the cells.”                                            tor. “He doesn’t look a credit to the Bow Street
   “Is he quiet?”                                             cells, does he?” He slipped his key into the lock,
                                                              and we all very quietly entered the cell. The
   “Oh, he gives no trouble. But he is a dirty
                                                              sleeper half turned, and then settled down once
scoundrel.”
                                                              more into a deep slumber. Holmes stooped to the
   “Dirty?”                                                   water-jug, moistened his sponge, and then rubbed
    “Yes, it is all we can do to make him wash his            it twice vigorously across and down the prisoner’s
hands, and his face is as black as a tinker’s. Well,          face.
when once his case has been settled, he will have               “Let me introduce you,” he shouted, “to Mr.
a regular prison bath; and I think, if you saw him,           Neville St. Clair, of Lee, in the county of Kent.”
you would agree with me that he needed it.”
                                                                  Never in my life have I seen such a sight. The
   “I should like to see him very much.”                      man’s face peeled off under the sponge like the
   “Would you? That is easily done. Come this                 bark from a tree. Gone was the coarse brown tint!
way. You can leave your bag.”                                 Gone, too, was the horrid scar which had seamed
   “No, I think that I’ll take it.”                           it across, and the twisted lip which had given
                                                              the repulsive sneer to the face! A twitch brought
   “Very good. Come this way, if you please.”                 away the tangled red hair, and there, sitting up
He led us down a passage, opened a barred door,               in his bed, was a pale, sad-faced, refined-looking
passed down a winding stair, and brought us to a              man, black-haired and smooth-skinned, rubbing
whitewashed corridor with a line of doors on each             his eyes and staring about him with sleepy bewil-
side.                                                         derment. Then suddenly realising the exposure,
    “The third on the right is his,” said the inspec-         he broke into a scream and threw himself down
tor. “Here it is!” He quietly shot back a panel in            with his face to the pillow.
the upper part of the door and glanced through.                  “Great heavens!” cried the inspector, “it is, in-
   “He is asleep,” said he. “You can see him very             deed, the missing man. I know him from the pho-
well.”                                                        tograph.”

                                                        195
                                      The Man with the Twisted Lip

    The prisoner turned with the reckless air of a            red head of hair, and an appropriate dress, I took
man who abandons himself to his destiny. “Be it               my station in the business part of the city, osten-
so,” said he. “And pray what am I charged with?”              sibly as a match-seller but really as a beggar. For
   “With making away with Mr. Neville St.—Oh,                 seven hours I plied my trade, and when I returned
come, you can’t be charged with that unless they              home in the evening I found to my surprise that I
make a case of attempted suicide of it,” said the             had received no less than 26s. 4d.
inspector with a grin. “Well, I have been twenty-                 “I wrote my articles and thought little more of
seven years in the force, but this really takes the           the matter until, some time later, I backed a bill for
cake.”                                                        a friend and had a writ served upon me for £25. I
   “If I am Mr. Neville St. Clair, then it is obvi-           was at my wit’s end where to get the money, but
ous that no crime has been committed, and that,               a sudden idea came to me. I begged a fortnight’s
therefore, I am illegally detained.”                          grace from the creditor, asked for a holiday from
                                                              my employers, and spent the time in begging in
    “No crime, but a very great error has been com-           the City under my disguise. In ten days I had the
mitted,” said Holmes. “You would have done bet-               money and had paid the debt.
ter to have trusted your wife.”
                                                                  “Well, you can imagine how hard it was to set-
   “It was not the wife; it was the children,”                tle down to arduous work at £2 a week when I
groaned the prisoner. “God help me, I would not               knew that I could earn as much in a day by smear-
have them ashamed of their father. My God! What               ing my face with a little paint, laying my cap on
an exposure! What can I do?”                                  the ground, and sitting still. It was a long fight
   Sherlock Holmes sat down beside him on the                 between my pride and the money, but the dollars
couch and patted him kindly on the shoulder.                  won at last, and I threw up reporting and sat day
   “If you leave it to a court of law to clear the            after day in the corner which I had first chosen,
matter up,” said he, “of course you can hardly                inspiring pity by my ghastly face and filling my
avoid publicity. On the other hand, if you convince           pockets with coppers. Only one man knew my se-
the police authorities that there is no possible case         cret. He was the keeper of a low den in which
against you, I do not know that there is any reason           I used to lodge in Swandam Lane, where I could
that the details should find their way into the pa-            every morning emerge as a squalid beggar and in
pers. Inspector Bradstreet would, I am sure, make             the evenings transform myself into a well-dressed
notes upon anything which you might tell us and               man about town. This fellow, a Lascar, was well
submit it to the proper authorities. The case would           paid by me for his rooms, so that I knew that my
then never go into court at all.”                             secret was safe in his possession.
    “God bless you!” cried the prisoner passion-                  “Well, very soon I found that I was saving con-
ately. “I would have endured imprisonment, ay,                siderable sums of money. I do not mean that any
even execution, rather than have left my miserable            beggar in the streets of London could earn £700 a
secret as a family blot to my children.                       year—which is less than my average takings—but
                                                              I had exceptional advantages in my power of mak-
    “You are the first who have ever heard my                  ing up, and also in a facility of repartee, which
story. My father was a schoolmaster in Chester-               improved by practice and made me quite a recog-
field, where I received an excellent education. I              nised character in the City. All day a stream of
travelled in my youth, took to the stage, and fi-              pennies, varied by silver, poured in upon me, and
nally became a reporter on an evening paper in                it was a very bad day in which I failed to take £2.
London. One day my editor wished to have a se-
ries of articles upon begging in the metropolis, and             “As I grew richer I grew more ambitious, took
I volunteered to supply them. There was the point             a house in the country, and eventually married,
from which all my adventures started. It was only             without anyone having a suspicion as to my real
by trying begging as an amateur that I could get              occupation. My dear wife knew that I had busi-
the facts upon which to base my articles. When                ness in the City. She little knew what.
an actor I had, of course, learned all the secrets                “Last Monday I had finished for the day and
of making up, and had been famous in the green-               was dressing in my room above the opium den
room for my skill. I took advantage now of my                 when I looked out of my window and saw, to my
attainments. I painted my face, and to make my-               horror and astonishment, that my wife was stand-
self as pitiable as possible I made a good scar and           ing in the street, with her eyes fixed full upon me.
fixed one side of my lip in a twist by the aid of              I gave a cry of surprise, threw up my arms to cover
a small slip of flesh-coloured plaster. Then with a            my face, and, rushing to my confidant, the Lascar,

                                                        196
entreated him to prevent anyone from coming up            “Good God!       What a week she must have
to me. I heard her voice downstairs, but I knew        spent!”
that she could not ascend. Swiftly I threw off my
                                                          “The police have watched this Lascar,” said In-
clothes, pulled on those of a beggar, and put on my
                                                       spector Bradstreet, “and I can quite understand
pigments and wig. Even a wife’s eyes could not
                                                       that he might find it difficult to post a letter un-
pierce so complete a disguise. But then it occurred
                                                       observed. Probably he handed it to some sailor
to me that there might be a search in the room,
                                                       customer of his, who forgot all about it for some
and that the clothes might betray me. I threw open
                                                       days.”
the window, reopening by my violence a small cut
which I had inflicted upon myself in the bedroom           “That was it,” said Holmes, nodding approv-
that morning. Then I seized my coat, which was         ingly; “I have no doubt of it. But have you never
weighted by the coppers which I had just trans-        been prosecuted for begging?”
ferred to it from the leather bag in which I carried      “Many times; but what was a fine to me?”
my takings. I hurled it out of the window, and it
disappeared into the Thames. The other clothes             “It must stop here, however,” said Bradstreet.
would have followed, but at that moment there          “If the police are to hush this thing up, there must
was a rush of constables up the stair, and a few       be no more of Hugh Boone.”
minutes after I found, rather, I confess, to my re-      “I have sworn it by the most solemn oaths
lief, that instead of being identified as Mr. Neville   which a man can take.”
St. Clair, I was arrested as his murderer.
    “I do not know that there is anything else for         “In that case I think that it is probable that no
me to explain. I was determined to preserve my         further steps may be taken. But if you are found
disguise as long as possible, and hence my prefer-     again, then all must come out. I am sure, Mr.
ence for a dirty face. Knowing that my wife would      Holmes, that we are very much indebted to you
be terribly anxious, I slipped off my ring and con-    for having cleared the matter up. I wish I knew
fided it to the Lascar at a moment when no con-         how you reach your results.”
stable was watching me, together with a hurried            “I reached this one,” said my friend, “by sit-
scrawl, telling her that she had no cause to fear.”    ting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of
    “That note only reached her yesterday,” said       shag. I think, Watson, that if we drive to Baker
Holmes.                                                Street we shall just be in time for breakfast.”
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
I
                                 The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

         had called upon my friend Sherlock                       “No, no, he found it. Its owner is unknown.
          Holmes upon the second morning after                I beg that you will look upon it not as a battered
          Christmas, with the intention of wishing            billycock but as an intellectual problem. And, first,
          him the compliments of the season. He               as to how it came here. It arrived upon Christmas
was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing-              morning, in company with a good fat goose, which
gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right,            is, I have no doubt, roasting at this moment in
and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently              front of Peterson’s fire. The facts are these: about
newly studied, near at hand. Beside the couch was             four o’clock on Christmas morning, Peterson, who,
a wooden chair, and on the angle of the back hung             as you know, is a very honest fellow, was returning
a very seedy and disreputable hard-felt hat, much             from some small jollification and was making his
the worse for wear, and cracked in several places.            way homeward down Tottenham Court Road. In
A lens and a forceps lying upon the seat of the               front of him he saw, in the gaslight, a tallish man,
chair suggested that the hat had been suspended               walking with a slight stagger, and carrying a white
in this manner for the purpose of examination.                goose slung over his shoulder. As he reached the
   “You are engaged,” said I; “perhaps I interrupt            corner of Goodge Street, a row broke out between
you.”                                                         this stranger and a little knot of roughs. One of
                                                              the latter knocked off the man’s hat, on which he
    “Not at all. I am glad to have a friend with
                                                              raised his stick to defend himself and, swinging
whom I can discuss my results. The matter is a
                                                              it over his head, smashed the shop window be-
perfectly trivial one”—he jerked his thumb in the
                                                              hind him. Peterson had rushed forward to pro-
direction of the old hat—“but there are points in
                                                              tect the stranger from his assailants; but the man,
connection with it which are not entirely devoid of
                                                              shocked at having broken the window, and seeing
interest and even of instruction.”
                                                              an official-looking person in uniform rushing to-
    I seated myself in his armchair and warmed                wards him, dropped his goose, took to his heels,
my hands before his crackling fire, for a sharp                and vanished amid the labyrinth of small streets
frost had set in, and the windows were thick with             which lie at the back of Tottenham Court Road.
the ice crystals. “I suppose,” I remarked, “that,             The roughs had also fled at the appearance of Pe-
homely as it looks, this thing has some deadly                terson, so that he was left in possession of the field
story linked on to it—that it is the clue which will          of battle, and also of the spoils of victory in the
guide you in the solution of some mystery and the             shape of this battered hat and a most unimpeach-
punishment of some crime.”                                    able Christmas goose.”
    “No, no. No crime,” said Sherlock Holmes,                    “Which surely he restored to their owner?”
laughing. “Only one of those whimsical littl