Infomotions, Inc.His Last Bow / Doyle, Arthur Conan



Author: Doyle, Arthur Conan
Title: His Last Bow
Publisher: Wiretap Electronic Text Archive
Tag(s): holmes; watson; cadogan west; sherlock holmes; scott eccles; wisteria lodge; english literature
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HIS LAST BOW by ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

[obi/Doyle/His.Last.Bow]
This text is in the Public Domain.

Preface
The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge
The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
The Adventure of the Devil's Foot
The Adventure of the Red Circle
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
The Adventure of the Dying Detective
His Last Bow - An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

[This does not contain the Cardboard Box adventure,
as that rightly belongs in Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.]

                            PREFACE

                         His Last Bow

  The friends of Mr. Sherlock Holmes will be glad to learn that he
is still alive and well, though somewhat crippled by occasional
attacks of rheumatism. He has, for many years, lived in a small
farm upon the downs five miles from Eastbourne, where his time
is divided between philosophy and agriculture. During this pe-
riod of rest he has refused the most princely offers to take up
various cases, having determined that his retirement was a
permanent one. The approach of the German war caused him
however, to lay his remarkable combination of intellectual and
practical activity at the disposal of the government, with histori-
cal results which are recounted in His Last Bow. Several previ-
ous experiences which have lain long in my portfolio have been
added to His Last Bow so as to complete the volume.

                                          JOHN H. WATSON, M. D.

              The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge

     1. The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles

  I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy
day towards the end of March in the year 1892. Holmes had
received a telegram while we sat at our lunch, and he had
scribbled a reply. He made no remark, but the matter remained
in his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire afterwards with a
thoughtful face, smoking his pipe, and casting an occasional
glance at the message. Suddenly he turned upon me with a
mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

  "I suppose, Watson, we must look upon you as a man of
letters," said he. "How do you define the word 'grotesque'?"

  "Strange -- remarkable," I suggested.

  He shook his head at my definition.

  "There is surely something more than that," said he; "some
underlying suggestion of the tragic and the terrible. If you cast
your mind back to some of those narratives with which you have
afflicted a long-suffering public, you will recognize how often
the grotesque has deepened into the criminal. Think of that little
affair of the red-headed men. That was grotesque enough in the
outset, and yet it ended in a desperate attempt at robbery. Or,
again, there was that most grotesque affair of the five orange
pips, which led straight to a murderous conspiracy. The word
puts me on the alert."

  "Have you it there?" I asked.

  He read the telegram aloud.

      "Have just had most incredible and grotesque experi-

    ence. May I consult you?

                                            "Scott Eccles,

                             "Post-Office, Charing Cross."

  "Man or woman?" I asked.

  "Oh, man, of course. No woman would ever send a reply-
paid telegram. She would have come."

  "Will you see him?"

  "My dear Watson, you know how bored I have been since we
locked up Colonel Carruthers. My mind is like a racing engine,
tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the
work for which it was built. Life is commonplace; the papers are
sterile; audacity and romance seem to have passed forever from
the criminal world. Can you ask me, then, whether I am ready to
look into any new problem, however trivial it may prove? But
here, unless I am mistaken, is our client."

  A measured step was heard upon the stairs, and a moment
later a stout, tall, gray-whiskered and solemnly respectable per-
son was ushered into the room. His life history was written in his
heavy features and pompous manner. From his spats to his
gold-rimmed spectacles he was a Conservative, a churchman, a
good citizen, orthodox and conventional to the last degree. But
same amazing experience had disturbed his native composure
and left its traces in his bristling hair, his flushed, angry cheeks
and his flurried, excited manner. He plunged instantly into his
business.

  "I have had a most singular and unpleasant experience, Mr.
Holmes," said he. "Never in my life have I been placed in such
a situation. It is most improper -- most outrageous. I must insist
upon some explanation." He swelled and puffed in his anger.

  "Pray sit down, Mr. Scott Eccles," said Holmes in a soothing
voice. "May I ask, in the first place, why you came to me at
all?"

  "Well, sir, it did not appear to be a matter which concerned
the police, and yet, when you have heard the facts, you must
admit that I could not leave it where it was. Private detectives
are a class with whom I have absolutely no sympathy, but none
the less, having heard your name --"

  "Quite so. But, in the second place, why did you not come at
once?"

  "What do you mean?"

  Holmes glanced at his watch.

  "It is a quarter-past two," he said. "Your telegram was
dispatched about one. But no one can glance at your toilet and
attire without seeing that your disturbance dates from the mo-
ment of your waking."

  Our client smoothed down his unbrushed hair and felt his
unshaven chin.

  "You are right, Mr. Holmes. I never gave a thought to my
toilet. I was only too glad to get out of such a house. But I have
been running round making inquiries before I came to you. I
went to the house agents, you know, and they said that Mr.
Garcia's rent was paid up all right and that everything was in
order at Wisteria Lodge."

  "Come, come, sir," said Holmes, laughing. "You are like
my friend, Dr. Watson, who has a bad habit of telling his stories
wrong end foremost. Please arrange your thoughts and let me
know, in their due sequence, exactly what those events are
which have sent you out unbrushed and unkempt, with dress
boots and waistcoat buttoned awry, in search of advice and
assistance."

  Our client looked down with a rueful face at his own uncon-
ventional appearance.

  "I'm sure it must look very bad, Mr. Holmes, and I am not
aware that in my whole life such a thing has ever happened
before. But I will tell you the whole queer business, and when I
have done so you will admit, I am sure, that there has been
enough to excuse me."

  But his narrative was nipped in the bud. There was a bustle
outside, and Mrs. Hudson opened the door to usher in two robust
and official-looking individuals, one of whom was well known
to us as Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard, an energetic,
gallant, and, within his limitations, a capable officer. He shook
hands with Holmes and introduced his comrade as Inspector
Baynes, of the Surrey Constabulary.

  "We are hunting together, Mr. Holmes and our trail lay in
this direction." He turned his bulldog ejes upon our visitor.
"Are you Mr. John Scott Eccles, of Popham House, Lee?"

  "I am."

  "We have been following you about all the morning."

  "You traced him through the telegram, no doubt," said Holmes.

  "Exactly, Mr. Holmes. We picked up the scent at Charing
Cross Post-Office and came on here."

  "But why do you follow me? What do you want?"

  "We wish a statement, Mr. Scott Eccles, as to the events
which led up to the death last night of Mr. Aloysius Garcia, of
Wisteria Lodge, near Esher."

  Our client had sat up with staring eyes and every tinge of
colour struck from his astonished face.

  "Dead? Did you say he was dead?"

  "Yes, sir, he is dead."

  "But how? An accident?"

  "Murder, if ever there was one upon earth."

  "Good God! This is awful! You don't mean -- you don't mean
that I am suspected?"

  "A letter of yours was found in the dead man's pocket, and
we know by it that you had planned to pass last night at his
house."

  "So I did."

  "Oh, you did, did you?"

  Out came the official notebook.

  "Wait a bit, Gregson," said Sherlock Holmes. "All you
desire is a plain statement, is it not?"

  "And it is my duty to warn Mr. Scott Eccles that it may be
used against him."

  "Mr. Eccles was going to tell us about it when you entered
the room. I think, Watson, a brandy and soda would do him no
harm. Now, sir, I suggest that you take no notice of this addition
to your audience, and that you proceed with your narrative
exactly as you would have done had you never been interrupted. "

  Our visitor had gulped off the brandy and the colour had
returned to his face. With a dubious glance at the inspector's
notebook, he plunged at once into his extraordinary statement.

  "I am a bachelor," said he, "and being of a sociable turn I
cultivate a large number of friends. Among these are the family
of a retired brewer called Melville, living at Albemarle Mansion,
Kensington. It was at his table that I met some weeks ago a
young fellow named Garcia. He was, I understood, of Spanish
descent and connected in some way with the embassy. He spoke
perfect English, was pleasing in his manners, and as good-
looking a man as ever I saw in my life.

  "In some way we struck up quite a friendship, this young
fellow and I. He seemed to take a fancy to me from the first, and
within two days of our meeting he came to see me at Lee. One
thing led to another, and it ended in his inviting me out to spend
a few days at his house, Wisteria Lodge, between Esher and
Oxshott. Yesterday evening I went to Esher to fulfil this
engagement.

  "He had described his household to me before I went there.
He lived with a faithful servant, a countryman of his own, who
looked after all his needs. This fellow could speak English and
did his housekeeping for him. Then there was a wonderful cook
he said, a half-breed whom he had picked up in his travels, who
could serve an excellent dinner. I remember that he remarked
what a queer household it was to find in the heart of Surrey, and
that I agreed with him, though it has proved a good deal queerer
than I thought.

  "I drove to the place -- about two miles on the south side of
Esher. The house was a fair-sized one, standing back from the
road, with a curving drive which was banked with high ever-
green shrubs. It was an old, tumble-down building in a crazy
state of disrepair. When the trap pulled up on the grass-grown
drive in front of the blotched and weather-stained door, I had
doubts as to my wisdom in visiting a man whom I knew so
slightly. He opened the door himself, however, and greeted me
wlth a great show of cordiality. I was handed over to the
manservant, a melancholy, swarthy individual, who led the way,
my bag in his hand, to my bedroom. The whole place was
depressing. Our dinner was tete-a-tete, and though my host did
his best to be entertaining, his thoughts seemed to continually
wander, and he talked so vaguely and wildly that I could hardly
understand him. He continually drummed his fingers on the
table, gnawed his nails, and gave other signs of nervous impa-
tience. The dinner itself was neither well served nor well cooked,
and the gloomy presence of the taciturn servant did not help to
enliven us. I can assure you that many times in the course of the
evening I wished that I could invent some excuse which would
take me back to Lee.

  "One thing comes back to my memory which may have a
bearing upon the business that you two gentlemen are investigat-
ing. I thought nothing of it at the time. Near the end of dinner a
note was handed in by the servant. I noticed that after my host
had read it he seemed even more distrait and strange than before.
He gave up all pretence at conversation and sat, smoking endless
cigarettes, lost in his own thoughts, but he made no remark as to
the contents. About eleven I was glad to go to bed. Some time
later Garcia looked in at my door -- the room was dark at the
time -- and asked me if I had rung. I said that I had not. He
apologized for having disturbed me so late, saying that it was
nearly one o'clock. I dropped off after this and slept soundly all
night.

  "And now I come to the amazing part of my tale. When I
woke it was broad daylight. I glanced at my watch, and the time
was nearly nine. I had particularly asked to be called at eight, so
I was very much astonished at this forgetfulness. I sprang up and
rang for the servant. There was no response. I rang again and
again, with the same result. Then I came to the conclusion that
the bell was out of order. I huddled on my clothes and hurried
downstairs in an exceedingly bad temper to order some hot
water. You can imagine my surprise when I found that there was
no one there. I shouted in the hall. There was no answer. Then I
ran from room to room. All were deserted. My host had shown
me which was his bedroom the night before, so I knocked at the
door. No reply. I turned the handle and walked in. The room
was empty, and the bed had never been slept in. He had gone with
the rest. The foreign host, the foreign footman, the foreign cook,
all had vanished in the night! That was the end of my visit to
Wisteria Lodge."

  Sherlock Holmes was rubbing his hands and chuckling as he
added this bizarre incident to his collection of strange episodes.

  "Your experience is, so far as I know, perfectly unique," said
he. "May I ask, sir, what you did then?"

  "I was furious. My first idea was that I had been the victim of
some absurd practical joke. I packed my things, banged the hall
door behind me, and set off for Esher, with my bag in my hand.
I called at Allan Brothers, the chief land agents in the village,
and found that it was from this firm that the villa had been
rented. It struck me that the whole proceeding could hardly be
for the purpose of making a fool of me, and that the main object
must be to get out of the rent. It is late in March, so quarter-day
is at hand. But this theory would not work. The agent was
obliged to me for my warning, but told me that the rent had been
paid in advance. Then I made my way to town and called at the
Spanish embassy. The man was unknown there. After this I went
to see Melville, at whose house I had first met Garcia, but I
found that he really knew rather less about him than I did.
Finally when I got your reply to my wire I came out to you,
since I gather that you are a person who gives advice in difficult
cases. But now, Mr. Inspector, I understand, from what you said
when you entered the room, that you can carry the story on, and
that some tragedy has occurred. I can assure you that every word
I have said is the truth, and that, outside of what I have told you,
I know absolutely nothing about the fate of this man. My only
desire is to help the law in every possible way."

  "I am sure of it, Mr. Scott Eccles -- I am sure of it," said
Inspector Gregson in a very amiable tone. "I am bound to say
that everything which you have said agrees very closely with the
facts as they have come to our notice. For example, there was
that note which arrived during dinner. Did you chance to observe
what became of it?"

  "Yes, I did. Garcia rolled it up and threw it into the fire."

  "What do you say to that, Mr. Baynes?"

  The country detective was a stout, puffy, red man, whose face
was only redeemed from grossness by two extraordinarily bright
eyes, almost hidden behind the heavy creases of cheek and brow.
With a slow smile he drew a folded and discoloured scrap of
paper from his pocket.

  "It was a dog-grate, Mr. Holmes, and he overpitched it. I
picked this out unburned from the back of it."

  Holmes smiled his appreciation.

  "You must have examined the house very carefully to find a
single pellet of paper."

  "I did, Mr. Holmes. It's my way. Shall I read it, Mr. Gregson?"

  The Londoner nodded.

  "The note is written upon ordinary cream-laid paper without
watermark. It is a quarter-sheet. The paper is cut off in two snips
with a short-bladed scissors. It has been folded over three times
and sealed with purple wax, put on hurriedly and pressed down
with some flat oval object. It is addressed to Mr. Garcia, Wiste-
ria Lodge. It says:

       "Our own colours, green and white. Green open, white

     shut. Main stair, first corridor, seventh right, green baize.

     Godspeed. D.

It is a woman's writing, done with a sharp-pointed pen, but the
address is either done with another pen or by someone else. It is
thicker and bolder, as you see."

  "A very remarkable note," said Holmes, glancing it over. "I
must compliment you, Mr. Baynes, upon your attention to detail
in your examination of it. A few trifling points might perhaps be
added. The oval seal is undoubtedly a plain sleeve-link -- what
else is of such a shape? The scissors were bent nail scissors.
Short as the two snips are, you can distinctly see the same slight
curve in each."

  The country detective chuckled.

  "I thought I had squeezed all the juice out of it, but I see there
was a little over," he said. "I'm bound to say that I make
nothing of the note except that there was something on hand, and
that a woman, as usual, was at the bottom of it."

  Mr. Scott Eccles had fidgeted in his seat during this conver-
sation.

  "I am glad you found the note, since it corroborates my
story," said he. "But I beg to point out that I have not yet heard
what has happened to Mr. Garcia, nor what has become of his
household."

  "As to Garcia," said Gregson, "that is easily answered. He
was found dead this morning upon Oxshott Common, nearly a
mile from his home. His head had been smashed to pulp by
heavy blows of a sandbag or some such instrument, which had
crushed rather than wounded. It is a lonely corner, and there is
no house within a quarter of a mile of the spot. He had appar-
ently been struck down first from behind, but his assailant had
gone on beating him long after he was dead. It was a most
furious assault. There are no footsteps nor any clue to the
criminals."

  "Robbed?"

  "No, there was no attempt at robbery."

  "This lis very painful -- very painful and terrible," said Mr.
Scott Eccles in a querulous voice, "but it is really uncommonly
hard upon me. I had nothing to do with my host going off upon a
nocturnal excursion and meeting so sad an end. How do I come
to be mixled up with the case?"

  "Very simply, sir," Inspector Baynes answered. "The only
document found in the pocket of the deceased was a letter from
you saying that you would be with him on the night of his death.
It was the envelope of this letter which gave us the dead man's
name and address. It was after nine this morning when we
reached his house and found neither you nor anyone else inside
it. I wired to Mr. Gregson to run you down in London while I
examined Wisteria Lodge. Then I came into town, joined Mr.
Gregson, and here we are."

  "I think now," said Gregson, rising, "we had best put this
matter into an official shape. You will come round with us to the
station, Mr. Scott Eccles, and let us have your statement in
writing."

  "Certainly, I will come at once. But I retain your services,
Mr. Holmes. I desire you to spare no expense and no pains to get
at the truth."

  My friend turned to the country inspector.

  "I suppose that you have no objection to my collaborating
with you, Mr. Baynes?"

  "Highly honoured, sir, I am sure."

  "You appear to have been very prompt and business-like in all
that you have done. Was there any clue, may I ask, as to the
exact hour that the man met his death?"

   "He had been there since one o'clock. There was rain about
that time, and his death had certainly been before the rain."

   "But that is perfectly impossible, Mr. Baynes," cried our
client. "His voice is unmistakable. I could swear to it that it was
he who addressed me in my bedroom at that very hour."

   "Remarkable, but by no means impossible," said Holmes,
smiling.

  "You have a clue?" asked Gregson.

  "On the face of it the case is not a very complex one, though
it certainly presents some novel and interesting features. A fur-
ther knowledge of facts is necessary before I would venture to
give a final and definite opinion. By the way, Mr. Baynes, did
you find anything remarkable besides this note in your examina-
tion of the house?"

  The detective looked at my friend in a singular way.

  "There were," said he, "one or two vely remarkable things.
Perhaps when I have finished at the police-station you would
care to come out and give me your opinion of them."

  "I am entirely at your service," said Sherlock Holmes, ring-
ing the bell. "You will show these gentlemen out, Mrs. Hudson,
and kindly send the boy with this telegram. He is to pay a
five-shilling reply."

  We sat for some time in silence after our visitors had left.
Holmes smoked hard, with his brows drawn down over his keen
eyes, and his head thrust forward in the eager way characteristic
of the man.

  "Well, Watson," he asked, turning suddenly upon me, "what
do you make of it?"

  "I can make nothing of this mystification of Scott Eccles."

  "But the crime?"

  "Well, taken with the disappearance of the man's compan-
ions, I should say that they were in some way concerned in the
murder and had fled from justice."

  "That is certainly a possible point of view. On the face of it
you must admit, however, that it is very strange that his two
servants should have been in a conspiracy against him and
should have attacked him on the one night when he had a guest.
They had him alone at their mercy every other night in the
week."

  "Then why did they fly?"

  "Quite so. Why did they fly? There is a big fact. Another big
fact is the remarkable experience of our client, Scott Eccles.
Now, my dear Watson, is it beyond the limits of human ingenu-
ity to furnish an explanation which would cover both these big
facts? If it were one which would also admit of the mysterious
note with its very curious phraseology, why, then it would be
worth accepting as a temporary hypothesis. If the fresh facts
which come to our knowledge all fit themselves into the scheme,
then our hypothesis may gradually become a solution."

  "But what is our hypothesis?"

  Holmes leaned back in his chair with half-closed eyes.

  "You must admit, my dear Watson, that the idea of a joke is
impossible. There were grave events afoot, as the sequel showed,
and the coaxing of Scott Eccles to Wisteria Lodge had some
connection with them."

  "But what possible connection?"

  "Let us take it link by link. There is, on the face of it
something unnatural about this strange and sudden friendship
between the young Spaniard and Scott Eccles. It was the former
who forced the pace. He called upon Eccles at the other end of
London on the very day after he first met him, and he kept in
close touch with him until he got him down to Esher. Now, what
did he want with Eccles? What could Eccles supply? I see no
charm in the man. He is not particularly intelligent -- not a man
likely to be congenial to a quick-witted Latin. Why, then, was he
picked out from all the other people whom Garcia met as particu-
larly suited to his purpose? Has he any one outstanding quality? I
say that he has. He is the very type of conventional British
respectability, and the very man as a witness to impress another
Briton. You saw yourself how neither of the inspectors dreamed
of questioning his statement, extraordinary as it was."

  "But what was he to witness?"

  "Nothing, as things turned out, but everything had they gone
another way. That is how I read the matter."

  "I see, he might have proved an alibi."

  "Exactly, my dear Watson; he might have proved an alibi.
We will suppose, for argument's sake, that the household of
Wisteria Lodge are confederates in some design. The attempt,
whatever it may be, is to come off, we will say, before one
o'clock. By some juggling of the clocks it is quite possible that
they may have got Scott Eccles to bed earlier than he thought
but in any case it is likely that when Garcia went out of his way
to tell him that it was one it was really not more than twelve. If
Garcia could do whatever he had to do and be back by the hour
mentioned he had evidently a powerful reply to any accusation.
Here was this irreproachable Englishman ready to swear in any
court of law that the accused was in his house all the time. It was
an insurance against the worst."

  "Yes, yes, I see that. But how about the disappearance of the
others?"

  "I have not all my facts yet, but I do not think there are any
insuperable difficulties. Still, it is an error to argue in front of
your data. You find yourself insensibly twisting them round to fit
your theories."

  "And the message?"

  "How did it run? 'Our own colours, green and white.' Sounds
like racing. 'Green open, white shut.~ That is clearly a signal.
'Main stair, first corridor, seventh right, green baize.' This is an
assignation. We may find a jealous husband at the bottom of it
all. It was clearly a dangerous quest. She would not have said
'Godspeed' had it not been so. 'D' -- that should be a guide."

  "The man was a Spaniard. I suggest that 'D' stands for
Dolores, a common female name in Spain."

  "Good, Watson, very good -- but quite inadmissible. A Spaniard
would write to a Spaniard in Spanish. The writer of this note is
certainly English. Well, we can only possess our souls in pa-
tience until this excellent inspector comes back for us. Meanwhile
we can thank our lucky fate which has rescued us for a few short
hours from the insufferable fatigues of idleness."

  An answer had arrived to Holmes's telegram before our Surrey
officer had returned. Holmes read it and was about to place it in
his notebook when he caught a glimpse of my expectant face. He
tossed it across with a laugh.

  "We are moving in exalted circles," said he.

  The telegram was a list of names and addresses:

      Lord Harringby, The Dingle; Sir George Ffolliott, Oxshott

   Towers; Mr. Hynes Hynes, J.P., Purdey Place; Mr. James

   Baker Williams, Forton Old Hall; Mr. Henderson, High

   Gable; Rev. Joshua Stone, Nether Walsling.

  "This is a very obvious way of limiting our field of opera-
tions," said Holmes. "No doubt Baynes, with his methodical
mind, has already adopted some similar plan."

  "I don't quite understand."

  "Well, my dear fellow, we have already arrived at the conclu-
sion that the message received by Garcia at dinner was an
appointment or an assignation. Now, if the obvious reading of it
is correct, and in order to keep this tryst one has to ascend a
main stair and seek the seventh door in a corridor, it is perfectly
clear that the house is a very large one. It is equally certain that
this house cannot be more than a mile or two from Oxshott
since Garcia was walking in that direction and hoped, according
to my reading of the facts, to be back in Wisteria Lodge in time
to avail himself of an alibi, which would only be valid up to one
o'clock. As the number of large houses close to Oxshott must be
limited, I adopted the obvious method of sending to the agents
mentioned by Scott Eccles and obtaining a list of them. Here
they are in this telegram, and the other end of our tangled skein
must lie among them."

  It was nearly six o'clock before we found ourselves in the
pretty Surrey village of Esher, with Inspector Baynes as our
companion.

  Holmes and I had taken things for the night, and found
comfortable quarters at the Bull. Finally we set out in the
company of the detective on our visit to Wisteria Lodge. lt was a
cold, dark March evening, with a sharp wind and a fine rain
beating upon our faces, a fit setting for the wild common over
which our road passed and the tragic goal to which it led us.

                2. The Tiger of San Pedro

  A cold and melancholy walk of a couple of miles brought us to
a high wooden gate, which opened into a gloomy avenue of
chestnuts. The curved and shadowed drive led us to a low, dark
house, pitch-black against a slate-coloured sky. From the front
window upon the left of the door there peeped a glimmer of a
feeble light.

  "There's a constable in possession," said Baynes. "I'll knock
at the window." He stepped across the grass plot and tapped
with his hand on the pane. Through the fogged glass I dimly saw
a man spring up from a chair beside the fire, and heard a sharp
cry from within the room. An instant later a white-faced, hard-
breathing policeman had opened the door, the candle wavering in
his trembling hand.

  "What's the matter, Walters?" asked Baynes sharply.

  The man mopped his forehead with his handkerchief and gave
a long sigh of relief.

  "I am glad you have come, sir. It has been a long evening,
and l don't think my nerve is as good as it was."

  "Your nerve, Walters? I should not have thought you had a
nerve in your body."

  "Well, sir, it's this lonely, silent house and the queer thing in
the kitchen. Then when you tapped at the window I thought it
had come again."

  "That what had come again?"

  "The devil, sir, for all I know. It was at the window."

  "What was at the window, and when?"

  "It was just about two hours ago. The light was just fading. I
was sitting reading in the chair. I don't know what made me look
up, but there was a face looking in at me through the lower pane.
Lord, sir, what a face it was! I'll see it in my dreams."

  "Tut, tut, Walters. This is not talk for a police-constable."

  "I know sir, I know; but it shook me sir, and there's no use
to deny it. it wasn't black, sir, nor was it white, nor any colour
that I know, but a kind of queer shade like clay with a splash of
milk in it. Then there was the size of it -- it was twice yours, sir.
And the look of it -- the great staring goggle eyes, and the line of
white teeth like a hungry beast. I tell you, sir, I couldn't move a
finger, nor get my breath, till it whisked away and was gone.
Out I ran and through the shrubbery, but thank God there was no
one there."

  "If I didn't know you were a good man, Walters, I should put
a black mark against you for this. If it were the devil himself a
constable on duty should never thank God that he could not lay
his hands upon him. I suppose the whole thing is not a vision
and a touch of nerves?"

  "That, at least, is very easily settled," said Holmes, lighting
his little pocket lantern. "Yes," he reported, after a short exami-
nation of the grass bed, "a number twelve shoe, I should say. If
he was all on the same scale as his foot he must certainly have
been a giant."

  "What became of him?"

  "He seems to have broken through the shrubbery and made
for the road."

  "Well," said the inspector with a grave and thoughtful face,
"whoever he may have been, and whatever he may have wanted,
he's gone for the present, and we have more immediate things to
attend to. Now, Mr. Holmes, with your permission, I will show
you round the house."

   The various bedrooms and sitting-rooms had yielded nothing
to a careful search. Apparently the tenants had brought little or
nothing with them, and all the furniture down to the smallest
details had been taken over with the house. A good deal of
clothing with the stamp of Marx and Co., High Holborn, had
been left behind. Telegraphic inquiries had been already made
which showed that Marx knew nothing of his customer save that
he was a good payer. Odds and ends, some pipes, a few novels,
two of them in Spanish, an old-fashioned pinfire revolver, and a
guitar were among the personal property.

   "Nothing in all this," said Baynes, stalking, candle in hand,
from room to room. "But now, Mr. Holmes, I invite your attention
to the kitchen."

  It was a gloomy, high-ceilinged room at the back of the house,
with a straw litter in one corner, which served apparently as a
bed for the cook. The table was piled with half-eaten dishes and
dirty plates, the debris of last night's dinner.

  "Look at this," said Baynes. "What do you make of it?"

  He held up his candle before an extraordinary object which
stood at the back of the dresser. It was so wrinkled and shrunken
and withered that it was difficult to say what it might have been.
One could but say that it was black and leathery and that it bore
some resemblance to a dwarfish, human figure. At first, as I
examined it, I thought that it was a mummified negro baby, and
then it seemed a very twisted and ancient monkey. Finally I was
left in doubt as to whether it was animal or human. A double
band of white shells was strung round the centre of it.

  "Very interesting -- very interesting, indeed!" said Holmes,
peering at this sinister relic. "Anything more?"

  In silence Baynes led the way to the sink and held forward his
candle. The limbs and body of some large, white bird, torn
savagely to pieces with the feathers still on, were littered all over
it. Holmes pointed to the wattles on the severed head.

  "A white cock," said he. "Most interesting! It is really a very
curious case."

  But Mr. Baynes had kept his most sinister exhibit to the last.
From under the sink he drew a zinc pail which contained a
quantity of blood. Then from the table he took a platter heaped
with small pieces of charred bone.

  "Something has been killed and something has been burned.
We raked all these out of the fire. We had a doctor in this
morning. He says that they are not human."

  Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands.

  "I must congratulate you, Inspector, on handling so distinc-
tive and instructive a case. Your powers, if I may say so without
offence, seem superior to your opportunities."

  Inspector Baynes's small eyes twinkled with pleasure.

  "You're right, Mr. Holmes. We stagnate in the provinces. A
case of this sort gives a man a chance, and I hope that I shall
take it. What do you make of these bones?"

  "A lamb, I should say, or a kid."

  "And the white cock?"

  "Curious, Mr. Baynes, very curious. I should say almost
unique."

  "Yes, sir, there must have been some very strange people
with some very strange ways in this house. One of them is dead.
Did his companions follow him and kill him? If they did we
should have them, for every port is watched. But my own views
are different. Yes, sir, my own views are very different."

  "You have a theory then?"

  "And I'll work it myself, Mr. Holmes. It's only due to my
own credit to do so. Your name is made, but I have still to make
mine. I should be glad to be able to say afterwards that I had
solved it without your help."

  Holmes laughed good-humouredly.

  "Well, well, Inspector," said he. "Do you follow your path
and I will follow mine. My results are always very much at your
service if you care to apply to me for them. I think that I have
seen all that I wish in this house, and that my time may be more
profitably employed elsewhere. Au revoir and good luck!"

  I could tell by numerous subtle signs, which might have been
lost upon anyone but myself, that Holmes was on a hot scent. As
impassive as ever to the casual observer, there were none the less
a subdued eagerness and suggestion of tension in his brightened
eyes and brisker manner which assured me that the game was
afoot. After his habit he said nothing, and after mine I asked no
questions. Sufficient for me to share the sport and lend my
humble help to the capture without distracting that intent brain
with needless interruption. All would come round to me in due
time.

  I waited, therefore -- but to my ever-deepening disappointment
I waited in vain. Day succeeded day, and my friend took no step
forward. One morning he spent in town, and I learned from a
casual reference that he had visited the British Museum. Save for
this one excursion, he spent his days in long and often solitary
walks, or in chatting with a number of village gossips whose
acquaintance he had cultivated.

  "I'm sure, Watson, a week in the country will be invaluable
to you," he remarked. "It is very pleasant to see the first green
shoots upon the hedges and the catkins on the hazels once again.
With a spud, a tin box, and an elementary book on botany, there
are instructive days to be spent." He prowled about with this
equipment himself, but it was a poor show of plants which he
would bring back of an evening.

  Occasionally in our rambles we came across Inspector Baynes.
His fat, red face wreathed itself in smiles and his small eyes
glittered as he greeted my companion. He said little about the
case, but from that little we gathered that he also was not
dissatisfied at the course of events. I must admit, however, that I
was somewhat surprised when, some five days after the crime, I
opened my morning paper to find in large letters:

                  THE OXSHOTT MYSTERY

                      A SOLUTION

              ARREST OF SUPPOSED ASSASSIN

  Holmes sprang in his chair as if he had been stung when I read
the headlines.

  "By Jove!" he cried. "You don't mean that Baynes has got
him?"

  "Apparently," said I as I read the following report:

       "Great excitement was caused in Esher and the neigh-

     bouring district when it was learned late last night that an

     arrest had been effected in connection with the Oxshott

     murder. It will be remembered that Mr. Garcia, of Wiste-

     ria Lodge, was found dead on Oxshott Common, his body

     showing signs of extreme violence, and that on the same

     night his servant and his cook fled, which appeared to show

     their participation in the crime. It was suggested, but never

     proved, that the deceased gentleman may have had valu-

     ables in the house, and that their abstraction was the motive

     of the crime. Every effort was made by Inspector Baynes,

     who has the case in hand, to ascertain the hiding place of

     the fugitives, and he had good reason to believe that they

     had not gone far but were lurking in some retreat which had

     been already prepared. It was certain from the first, how-

     ever, that they would eventually be detected, as the cook,

     from the evidence of one or two tradespeople who have

     caught a glimpse of him through the window, was a man of

     most remarkable appearance -- being a huge and hideous

     mulatto, with yellowish features of a pronounced negroid

     type. This man has been seen since the crime, for he was

     detected and pursued by Constable Walters on the same

     evening, when he had the audacity to revisit Wisteria Lodge.

     Inspector Baynes, considering that such a visit must have

     some purpose in view and was likely, therefore, to be

     repeated, abandoned the house but left an ambuscade in the

     shrubbery. The man walked into the trap and was captured

     last night after a struggle in which Constable Downing was

     badly bitten by the savage. We understand that when the

     prisoner is brought before the magistrates a remand will be

     applied for by the police, and that great developments are

     hoped from his capture."

  "Really we must see Baynes at once," cried Holmes, picking
up his hat. "We will just catch him before he starts." We
hurried down the village street and found, as we had expected,
that the inspector was just leaving his lodgings.

  "You've seen the paper, Mr. Holmes?" he asked, holding
one out to us.

  "Yes, Baynes, I've seen it. Pray don't think it a liberty if I
give you a word of friendly warning."

  "Of warning, Mr. Holmes?"

  "I have looked into this case with some care, and I am not
convinced that you are on the right lines. I don't want you to
commit yourself too far unless you are sure."

  "You're very kind, Mr. Holmes."

  "I assure you I speak for your good."

  It seemed to me that something like a wink quivered for an
instant over one of Mr. Baynes's tiny eyes.

  "We agreed to work on our own lines, Mr. Holmes. That's
what I am doing."

  "Oh, very good," said Holmes. "Don't blame me."

  "No, sir; I believe you mean well by me. But we all have our
own systems, Mr. Holmes. You have yours, and maybe I have
mine."

  "Let us say no more about it."

  "You're welcome always to my news. This fellow is a perfect
savage, as strong as a cart-horse and as fierce as the devil. He
chewed Downing's thumb nearly off before they could master
him. He hardly speaks a word of English, and we can get
nothing out of him but grunts."

  "And you think you have evidence that he murdered his late
master?"

  "I didn't say so, Mr. Holmes- I didn't say so. We all have our
little ways. You try yours and I will try mine. That's the
agreement."

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders as we walked away together.
"I can't make the man out. He seems to be riding for a fall.
Well, as he says, we must each try our own way and see what
comes of it. But there's something in Inspector Baynes which I
can't quite understand."

  "Just sit down in that chair, Watson," said Sherlock Holmes
when we had returned to our apartment at the Bull. "I want to
put you in touch with the situation, as I may need your help
to-night. Let me show you the evolution of this case so far as I
have been able to follow it. Simple as it has been in its leading
features, it has none the less presented surprising difficulties in
the way of an arrest. There are gaps in that direction which we
have still to fill.

  "We will go back to the note which was handed in to Garcia
upon the evening of his death. We may put aside this idea of
Baynes's that Garcia's servants were concerned in the matter.
The proof of this lies in the fact that it was he who had arranged
for the presence of Scott Eccles, which could only have been
done for the purpose of an alibi. It was Garcia, then, who had an
enterprise, and apparently a criminal enterprise, in hand that
night in the course of which he met his death. I say 'criminal'
because only a man with a criminal enterprise desires to establish
an alibi. Who, then, is most likely to have taken his life? Surely
the person against whom the criminal enterprise was directed. So
far it seems to me that we are on safe ground.

  "We can now see a reason for the disappearance of Garcia's
household. They were all confederates in the same unknown
crime. If it came off when Garcia returned, any possible suspi-
cion would be warded off by the Englishman's evidence, and all
would be well. But the attempt was a dangerous one, and if
Garcia did not return by a certain hour it was probable that his
own life had been sacrificed. It had been arranged, therefore,
that in such a case his two subordinates were to make for some
prearranged spot where they could escape investigation and be in
a position afterwards to renew their attempt. That would fully
explain the facts, would it not?"

  The whole inexplicable tangle seemed to straighten out before
me. I wondered, as I always did, how it had not been obvious to
me before.

  "But why should one servant return?"

  "We can imagine that in the confusion of flight something
precious, something which he could not bear to part with, had
been left behind. That would explain his persistence, would it
not?"

  "Well, what is the next step?"

  "The next step is the note received by Garcia at the dinner. It
indicates a confederate at the other end. Now, where was the
other end? I have already shown you that it could only lie in
some large house, and that the number of large houses is limited.
My first days in this village were devoted to a series of walks in
which in the intervals of my botanical researches I made a
reconnaissance of all the large houses and an examination of the
family history of the occupants. One house, and only one,
riveted my attention. It is the famous old Jacobean grange of
High Gable, one mile on the farther side of Oxshott, and less
than half a mile from the scene of the tragedy. The other
mansions belonged to prosaic and respectable people who live
far aloof from romance. But Mr. Henderson, of High Gable, was
by all accounts a curious man to whom curious adventures might
befall. I concentrated my attention, therefore, upon him and his
household.

  "A singular set of people, Watson -- the man himself the most
singular of them all. I managed to see him on a plausible pretext,
but I seemed to read in his dark, deep-set, brooding eyes that he
was perfectly aware of my true business. He is a man of fifty,
strong, active, with iron-gray hair, great bunched black eye-
brows, the step of a deer, and the air of an emperor -- a fierce,
masterful man, with a red-hot spirit behind his parchment face.
He is either a foreigner or has lived long in the tropics, for he is
yellow and sapless, but tough as whipcord. His friend and
secretary, Mr. Lucas, is undoubtedly a foreigner, chocolate brown,
wily, suave, and cat-like, with a poisonous gentleness of speech.
You see, Watson, we have come already upon two sets of
foreigners -- one at Wisteria Lodge and one at High Gable -- so
our gaps are beginning to close.

  "These two men, close and confidential friends, are the centre
of the household; but there is one other person who for our
immediate purpose may be even more important. Henderson has
two children -- girls of eleven and thirteen. Their governess is a
Miss Burnet, an Englishwoman of forty or thereabouts. There is
also one confidential manservant. This little group forms the real
family, for they travel about together, and Henderson is a great
traveller, always on the move. It is only within the last few
weeks that he has returned, after a year's absence, to High
Gable. I may add that he is enormously rich, and whatever his
whims may be he can very easily satisfy them. For the rest, his
house is full of butlers, footmen, maidservants, and the usual
overfed, underworked staff of a large English country-house.

  "So much I learned partly from village gossip and partly from
my own observation. There are no better instruments than dis-
charged servants with a grievance, and I was lucky enough to
find one. I call it luck, but it would not have come my way had I
not been looking out for it. As Baynes remarks, we all have our
systems. It was my system which enabled me to find John
Warner, late gardener of High Gable, sacked in a moment of
temper by his imperious employer. He in turn had friends among
the indoor servants who unite in their fear and dislike of their
master. So I had my key to the secrets of the establishment.

  "Curious people, Watson! I don't pretend to understand it all
yet, but very curious people anyway. It's a double-winged house
and the servants live on one side, the family on the other.
There's no link between the two save for Henderson's own
servant, who serves the family's meals. Everything is carried to
a certain door, which forms the one connection. Governess and
children hardly go out at all, except into the garden. Henderson
never by any chance walks alone. His dark secretary is like his
shadow. The gossip among the servants is that their master is
terribly afraid of something. 'Sold his soul to the devil in ex-
change for money,' says Warner, 'and expects his creditor to
come up and claim his own.' Where they came from, or who
they are, nobody has an idea. They are very violent. Twice
Henderson has lashed at folk with his dog-whip, and only his long
purse and heavy compensation have kept him out of the courts.

  "Well, now, Watson, let us judge the situation by this new
information. We may take it that the letter came out of this
strange household and was an invitation to Garcia to carry out
some attempt which had already been planned. Who wrote the
note? It was someone within the citadel, and it was a woman.
Who then but Miss Burnet, the governess? All our reasoning
seems to point that way. At any rate, we may take it as a
hypothesis and see what consequences it would entail. I may add
that Miss Burnet's age and character make it certain that my first
idea that there might be a love interest in our story is out of the
question.

  "If she wrote the note she was presumably the friend and
confederate of Garcia. What, then, might she be expected to do
if she heard of his death? If he met it in some nefarious enter-
prise her lips might be sealed. Still, in her heart, she must retain
bitterness and hatred against those who had killed him and would
presumably help so far as she could to have revenge upon them.
Could we see her, then, and try to use her? That was my first
thought. But now we come to a sinister fact. Miss Burnet has not
been seen by any human eye since the night of the murder. From
that evening she has utterly vanished. Is she alive? Has she
perhaps met her end on the same night as the friend whom she
had summoned? Or is she merely a prisoner? There is the point
which we still have to decide.

  "You will appreciate the difficulty of the situation, Watson.
There is nothing upon which we can apply for a warrant. Our
whole scheme might seem fantastic if laid before a magistrate.
The woman's disappearance counts for nothing, since in that
extraordinary household any member of it might be invisible for
a week. And yet she may at the present moment be in danger of
her life. All I can do is to watch the house and leave my agent,
Warner, on guard at the gates. We can't let such a situation
continue. If the law can do nothing we must take the risk
ourselves."

  "What do you suggest?"

  "I know which is her room. It is accessible from the top of an
outhouse. My suggestion is that you and I go to-night and see if
we can strike at the very heart of the mystery."

  It was not, I must confess, a very alluring prospect. The old
house with its atmosphere of murder, the singular and formidable
inhabitants, the unknown dangers of the approach, and the fact
that we were putting ourselves legally in a false position all
combined to damp my ardour. But there was something in the
ice-cold reasoning of Holmes which made it impossible to shrink
from any adventure which he might recommend. One knew that
thus, and only thus, could a solution be found. I clasped his hand
in silence, and the die was cast.

  But it was not destined that our investigation should have so
adventurous an ending. It was about five o'clock, and the shad-
ows of the March evening were beginning to fall, when an
excited rustic rushed into our room.

  "They've gone, Mr. Holmes. They went by the last train. The
lady broke away, and I've got her in a cab downstairs."

  "Excellent, Warner!" cried Holmes, springing to his feet.
"Watson, the gaps are closing rapidly."

  In the cab was a woman, half-collapsed from nervous exhaus-
tion. She bore upon her aquiline and emaciated face the traces of
some recent tragedy. Her head hung listlessly upon her breast,
but as she raised it and turned her dull eyes upon us I saw that
her pupils were dark dots in the centre of the broad gray iris. She
was drugged with opium.

  "I watched at the gate, same as you advised, Mr. Holmes,"
said our emissary, the discharged gardener. "When the carriage
came out I followed it to the station. She was like one walking in
her sleep, but when they tried to get her into the train she came
to life and struggled. They pushed her into the carriage. She
fought her way out again. I took her part, got her into a cab, and
here we are. I shan't forget the face at the carriage window as I
led her away. I'd have a short life if he had his way -- the
black-eyed, scowling, yellow devil."

  We carried her upstairs, laid her on the sofa, and a couple of
cups of the strongest coffee soon cleared her brain from the mists
of the drug. Baynes had been summoned by Holmes, and the
situation rapidly explained to him.

  "Why, sir, you've got me the very evidence I want," said the
inspector warmly, shaking my friend by the hand. "I was on the
same scent as you from the first."

  "What! You were after Henderson?"

  "Why, Mr. Holmes, when you were crawling in the shrub-
bery at High Gable I was up one of the trees in the plantation and
saw you down below. It was just who would get his evidence
first."

  "Then why did you arrest the mulatto?"

  Baynes chuckled.

  "I was sure Henderson, as he calls himself, felt that he was
suspected, and that he would lie low and make no move so long
as he thought he was in any danger. I arrested the wrong man to
make him believe that our eyes were off him. I knew he would
be likely to clear off then and give us a chance of getting at Miss
Burnet."

  Holmes laid his hand upon the inspector's shoulder.-

  "You will rise high in your profession. You have instinct and
intuition," said he.

  Baynes flushed with pleasure.

  "I've had a plain-clothes man waiting at the station all the
week. Wherever the High Gable folk go he will keep them in
sight. But he must have been hard put to it when Miss Burnet
broke away. However, your man picked her up, and it all ends
well. We can't arrest without her evidence, that is clear, so the
sooner we get a statement the better."

  "Every minute she gets stronger," said Holmes, glancing at
the governess. "But tell me, Baynes, who is this man Henderson?"

  "Henderson," the inspector answered, "is Don Murillo, once
called the Tiger of San Pedro."

  The Tiger of San Pedro! The whole history of the man came
back to me in a flash. He had made his name as the most lewd
and bloodthirsty tyrant that had ever governed any country with a
pretence to civilization. Strong, fearless, and energetic, he had
sufficient virtue to enable him to impose his odious vices upon a
cowering people for ten or twelve years. His name was a terror
through all Central America. At the end of that time there was a
universal rising against him. But he was as cunning as he was
cruel, and at the first whisper of coming trouble he had secretly
conveyed his treasures aboard a ship which was manned by
devoted adherents. It was an empty palace which was stormed by
the insurgents next day. The dictator, his two children, his
secretary, and his wealth had all escaped them. From that mo-
ment he had vanished from the world, and his identity had been
a frequent subject for comment in the European press.

  "Yes, sir, Don Murillo, the Tiger of San Pedro," said Baynes.
"If you look it up you will find that the San Pedro colours are
green and white, same as in the note, Mr. Holmes. Henderson he
called himself, but I traced him back, Paris and Rome and
Madrid to Barcelona, where his ship came in in '86. They've
been looking for him all the time for their revenge, but it is only
now that they have begun to find him out."

  "They discovered him a year ago," said Miss Burnet, who
had sat up and was now intently following the conversation.
"Once already his life has been attempted, but some evil spirit
shielded him. Now, again, it is the noble, chivalrous Garcia who
has fallen, while the monster goes safe. But another will come,
and yet another, until some day justice will be done; that is as
certain as the rise of to-morrow's sun." Her thin hands clenched,
and her worn face blanched with the passion of her hatred.

  "But how come you into this matter Miss Burnet?" asked
Holmes. "How can an English lady join in such a murderous
affair?"

  "I join in it because there is no other way in the world by
which justice can be gained. What does the law of England care
for the rivers of blood shed years ago in San Pedro, or for the
shipload of treasure which this man has stolen? To you they are
like crimes committed in some other planet. But we know. We
have learned the truth in sorrow and in suffering. To us there is
no fiend in hell like Juan Murillo, and no peace in life while his
victims still cry for vengeance."

  "No doubt," said Holmes, "he was as you say I have heard
that he was atrocious. But how are you affected?"

  "I will tell you it all. This villain's policy was to murder, on
one pretext or another, every man who showed such promise that
he might in time come to be a dangerous rival. My husband --
yes, my real name is Signora Victor Durando -- was the San
Pedro minister in London. He met me and married me there. A
nobler man never lived upon earth. Unhappily, Murillo heard of
his excellence, recalled him on some pretext, and had him shot.
With a premonition of his fate he had refused to take me with
him. His estates were confiscated, and I was left with a pittance
and a broken heart.

  "Then came the downfall af the tyrant. He escaped as you
have just described. But the many whose lives he had ruined,
whose nearest and dearest had suffered torture and death at his
hands, would not let the matter rest. They banded themselves
into a society which should never be dissolved until the work
was done. It was my part after we had discovered in the trans-
formed Henderson the fallen despot, to attach myself to his
household and keep the others in touch with his movements.
This I was able to do by securing the position of governess in his
family. He little knew that the woman who faced him at every
meal was the woman whose husband he had hurried at an hour's
notice into eternity. I smiled on him, did my duty to his children,
and bided my time. An attempt was made in Paris and failed.
We zig-zagged swiftly here and there over Europe to throw off
the pursuers and finally retulned to this house, which he had
taken upon his first arrival in England.

  "But here also the ministers of justice were waiting. Knowing
that he would return there, Garcia, who is the son of the former
highest dignitary in San Pedlro, was waiting with two trusty
companions of humble station, all three fired with the same
reasons for revenge. He could do little during the day, for
Murillo took every precaution and never went out save with his
satellite Lucas, or Lopez as he was known in the days of his
greatness. At night, however, he slept alone, and the avenger
might find him. On a certain evening, which had been prear-
ranged, I sent my friend final instructions, for the man was
forever on the alert and continually changed his room. I was to
see that the doors were open and the signal of a green or white
light in a window which faced the drive was to give notice if all
was safe or if the attempt had better be postponed.

  "But everything went wrong with us. In some way I had
excited the suspicion of Lopez, the secretary. He crept up behind
me and sprang upon me just as I had finished the note. He and
his master dragged me to my room and held judgment upon me
as a convicted traitress. Then and there they would have plunged
their knives into me could they have seen how to escape the
consequences of the deed. Finally, after much debate, they
concluded that my murder was too dangerous. But they deter-
mined to get rid forever of Garcia. They had gagged me, and
Murillo twisted my arm round until I gave him the address. I
swear that he might have twisted it off had I understood what it
would mean to Garcia. Lopez addressed the note which I had
written, sealed it with his sleeve-link, and sent it by the hand of
the servant, Jose. How they murdered him I do not know, save
that it was Murillo's hand who struck him down, for Lopez had
remained to guard me. I believe he must have waited among the
gorse bushes through which the path winds and struck him down
as he passed. At first they were of a mind to let him enter the
house and to kill him as a detected burglar; but they argued that
if they were mixed up in an inquiry their own identity would at
once be publicly disclosed and they would be open to further
attacks. With the death of Garcia, the pursuit might cease, since
such a death might frighten others from the task.

  "All would now have been well for them had it not been for
my knowledge of what they had done. I have no doubt that there
were times when my life hung in the balance. I was confined to
my room, terrorized by the most horrible threats, cruelly ill-used
to break my spirit -- see this stab on my shoulder and the bruises
from end to end of my arms -- and a gag was thrust into my
mouth on the one occasion when I tried to call from the window.
For five days this cruel imprisonment continued, with hardly
enough food to hold body and soul together. This afternoon a
good lunch was brought me, but the moment after I took it I
knew that I had been drugged. In a sort of dream I remember
being half-led, half-carried to the carriage; in the same state I was
conveyed to the train. Only then, when the wheels were almost
moving, did I suddenly realize that my liberty lay in my own
hands. I sprang out, they tried to drag me back, and had it not
been for the help of this good man, who led me to the cab, I
should never have broken away. Now, thank God, I am beyond
their power forever."

  We had all listened intently to this remarkable statement. It
was Holmes who broke the silence.

  "Our difficulties are not over," he remarked, shaking his
head. "Our police work ends, but our legal work begins."

  "Exactly," said I. "A plausible lawyer could make it out as
an act of self-defence. There may be a hundred crimes in the
background, but it is only on this one that they can be tried."

  "Come, come," said Baynes cheerily, "I think better of the
law than that. Self-defence is one thing. To entice a man in cold
blood with the object of murdering him is another, whatever
danger you may fear from him. No, no, we shall all be justified
when we see the tenants of High Gable at the next Guildford
Assizes."

  It is a matter of history, however, that a little time was still to
elapse before the Tiger of San Pedro should meet with his
deserts. Wily and bold, he and his companion threw their pur-
suer off their track by entering a lodging-house in Edmonton
Street and leaving by the back-gate into Curzon Square. From
that day they were seen no more in England. Some six months
afterwards the Marquess of Montalva and Signor Rulli, his secre-
tary, were both murdered in their rooms at the Hotel Escurial at
Madrid. The crime was ascribed to Nihilism, and the murderers
were never arrested. Inspector Baynes visited us at Baker Street
with a printed description of the dark face of the secretary, and
of the masterful features, the magnetic black eyes, and the tufted
brows of his master. We could not doubt that justice, if belated,
had come at last.

  "A chaotic case, my dear Watson," said Holmes over an
evening pipe. "It will not be possible for you to present it in that
compact form which is dear to your heart. It covers two conti-
nents, concerns two groups of mysterious persons, and is further
complicated by the highly respectable presence of our friend,
Scott Eccles, whose inclusion shows me that the deceased Garcia
had a scheming mind and a well-developed instinct of self-
preservation. It is remarkable only for the fact that amid a perfect
jungle of possibilities we, with our worthy collaborator, the
inspector, have kept our close hold on the essentials and so been
guided along the crooked and winding path. Is there any point
which is not quite clear to you?"

  "The object of the mulatto cook's return?"

  "I think that the strange creature in the kitchen may account
for it. The man was a primitive savage from the backwoods of
San Pedro, and this was his fetish. When his companion and he
had fled to some prearranged retreat -- already occupied, no doubt
by a confederate -- the companion had persuaded him to leave so
compromising an article of furniture. But the mulatto's heart was
with it, and he was driven back to it next day, when, on
reconnoitring through the window, he found policeman Walters
in possession. He waited three days longer, and then his piety or
his superstition drove him to try once more. Inspector Baynes,
who, with his usual astuteness, had minimized the incident
before me, had really recognized its importance and had left a
trap into which the creature walked. Any other point, Watson?"

  "The torn bird, the pail of blood, the charred bones, all the
mystery of that weird kitchen?"

  Holmes smiled as he turned up an entry in his notebook.

  "I spent a morning in the British Museum reading up on that
and other points. Here is a quotation from Eckermann's Voodoo-
ism and the Negroid Religions:

      The true voodoo-worshipper attempts nothing of impor-

    tance without certain sacrifices which are intended to propi-

    tiate his unclean gods. In extreme cases these rites take the

    form of human sacrifices followed by cannibalism. The

    more usual victims are a white cock, which is plucked in

    pieces alive, or a black goat, whose throat is cut and body

    burned.

  "So you see our savage friend was very orthodox in his ritual.
It is grotesque, Watson," Holmes added, as he slowly fastened
his notebook, "but, as I have had occasion to remark, there is
but one step from the grotesque to the horrible."

         The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans

  In the third week of November, in the year 1895, a dense yellow
fog settled down upon London. From the Monday to the Thurs-
day I doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in
Baker Street to see the loom of the opposite houses. The first day
Holmes had spent in cross-indexing his huge book of references.
The second and third had been patiently occupied upon a subject
which he had recently made his hobby -- the music of the Middle
Ages. But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our
chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still
drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the window-
panes, my comrade's impatient and active nature could endure
this drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our
sitting-room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails,
tapping the furniture, and chafing against inaction.

  "Nothing of interest in the paper, Watson?" he said.

  I was aware that by anything of interest, Holmes meant any-
thing of criminal interest. There was the news of a revolution, of
a possible war, and of an impending change of government; but
these did not come within the horizon of my companion. I could
see nothing recorded in the shape of crime which was not
commonplace and futile. Holmes groaned and resumed his rest-
less meanderings.

  "The London criminal is certainly a dull fellow," said he in
the querulous voice of the sportsman whose game has failed him.
"Look out of this window, Watson. See how the figures loom
up, are dimly seen, and then blend once more into the cloud-
bank. The thief or the murderer could roam London on such a
day as the tiger does the jungle, unseen until he pounces, and
then evident only to his victim."

  "There have," said I, "been numerous petty thefts."

  Holmes snorted his contempt.

  "This great and sombre stage is set for something more
worthy than that," said he. "It is fortunate for this community
that I am not a criminal."

  "It is, indeed!" said I heartily.

  "Suppose that I were Brooks or Woodhouse, or any of the fifty
men who have good reason for taking my life, how long could I
survive against my own pursuit? A summons, a bogus appointment,
and all would be over. It is well they don't have days of fog in
the Latin countries -- the countries of assassination. By Jove! here
comes something at last to break our dead monotony."

  It was the maid with a telegram. Holmes tore it open and burst
out laughing.

  "Well, well! What next?" said he. "Brother Mycroft is com-
ing round."

  "Why not?" I asked.

  "Why not? It is as if you met a tram-car coming down a
country lane. Mycroft has his rails and he runs on them. His Pall
Mall lodgings, the Diogenes Club, Whitehall -- that is his cycle.
Once, and only once, he has been here. What upheaval can
possibly have derailed him?"

  "Does he not explain?"

  Holmes handed me his brother's telegram.

         Must see you over Cadogan West. Coming at once.

                                                MYCROFT.

  "Cadogan West? I have heard the name."

  "It recalls nothing to my mind. But that Mycroft should break
out in this erratic fashion! A planet might as well leave its orbit.
By the way, do you know what Mycroft is?"

  I had some vague recollection of an explanation at the time of
the Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

  "You told me that he had some small office under the British
government."

  Holmes chuckled.

  "I did not know you quite so well in those days. One has to
be discreet when one talks of high matters of state. You are
right in thinking that he is under the British government. You
would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally
he is the British government."

  "My dear Holmes!"

  "I thought I might surprise you. Mycroft draws four hundred
and fifty pounds a year, remains a subordinate, has no ambitions
of any kind, will receive neither honour nor title, but remains the
most indispensable man in the country."

  "But how?"

  "Well, his position is unique. He has made it for himself.
There has never been anything like it before, nor will be again.
He has the tidiest and most orderly brain, with the greatest
capacity for storing facts, of any man living. The same great
powers which I have turned to the detection of crime he has used
for this particular business. The conclusions of every department
are passed to him, and he is the central exchange, the clearing-
house, which makes out the balance. All other men are special-
ists, but his specialism is omniscience. We will suppose that a
minister needs information as to a point which involves the
Navy, India, Canada and the bimetallic question; he could get
his separate advices from various departments upon each, but
only Mycroft can focus them all, and say offhand how each
factor would affect the other. They began by using him as a
short-cut, a convenience; now he has made himself an essential.
In that great brain of his everything is pigeon-holed and can be
handed out in an instant. Again and again his word has decided
the national policy. He lives in it. He thinks of nothing else save
when, as an intellectual exercise, he unbends if I call upon him
and ask him to advise me on one of my little problems. But
Jupiter is descending to-day. What on earth can it mean? Who is
Cadogan West, and what is he to Mycroft?"

  "I have it," I cried, and plunged among the litter of papers
upon the sofa. "Yes, yes, here he is, sure enough! Cadogan
West was the young man who was found dead on the Under-
ground on Tuesday morning."

  Holmes sat up at attention, his pipe halfway to his lips.

  "This must be serious, Watson. A death which has caused my
brother to alter his habits can be no ordinary one. What in the
world can he have to do with it? The case was featureless as I
remember it. The young man had apparently fallen out of the train
and killed himself. He had not been robbed, and there was no
particular reason to suspect violence. Is that not so?"

  "There has been an inquest," said I, "and a good many fresh
facts have come out. Looked at more closely, I should certainly
say that it was a curious case."

  "Judging by its effect upon my brother, I should think it must
be a most extraordinary one." He snuggled down in his arm-
chair. "Now, Watson, let us have the facts."

  "The man's name was Arthur Cadogan West. He was twenty-
seven years of age, unmarried, and a clerk at Woolwich Arsenal."

  "Government employ. Behold the link with Brother Mycroft!"

  "He left Woolwich suddenly on Monday night. Was last seen
by his fiancee, Miss Violet Westbury, whom he left abruptly in
the fog about 7:30 that evening. There was no quarrel between
them and she can give no motive for his action. The next thing
heard of him was when his dead body was discovered by a
plate-layer named Mason, just outside Aldgate Station on the
Underground system in London."

  "When?"

  "The body was found at six on the Tuesday morning. It was
lying wide of the metals upon the left hand of the track as one
goes eastward, at a point close to the station, where the line
emerges from the tunnel in which it runs. The head was badly
crushed -- an injury which might well have been caused by a fall
from the train. The body could only have come on the line in
that way. Had it been carried down from any neighbouring
street, it must have passed the station barriers, where a collector
is always standing. This point seems absolutely certain."

  "Very good. The case is definite enough. The man, dead or
alive, either fell or was precipitated from a train. So much is
clear to me. Continue."

  "The trains which traverse the lines of rail beside which the
body was found are those which run from west to east, some
being purely Metropolitan, and some from Willesden and outly-
ing junctions. It can be stated for certain that this young man
when he met his death, was travelling in this direction at some
late hour of the night, but at what point he entered the train it is
impossible to state."

  "His ticket, of course, would show that."

  "There was no ticket in his pockets."

  "No ticket! Dear me, Watson, this is really very singular.
According to my experience it is not possible to reach the
platform of a Metropolitan train without exhibiting one's ticket.
Presumably, then, the young man had one. Was it taken from
him in order to conceal the station from which he came? It is
possible. Or did he drop it in the carriage? That also is possible.
But the point is of curious interest. I understand that there was
no sign of robbery?"

  "Apparently not. There is a list here of his possessions. His
purse contained two pounds fifteen. He had also a check-book on
the Woolwich branch of the Capital and Counties Bank. Through
this his identity was established. There were also two dress-circle
tickets for the Woolwich Theatre, dated for that very evening.
Also a small packet of technical papers."

  Holmes gave an exclamation of satisfaction.

  "There we have it at last, Watson! British government --
Woolwich. Arsenal -- technical papers -- Brother Mycroft, the chain
is complete. But here he comes, if I am not mistaken, to speak
for himself."

  A moment later the tall and portly form of Mycroft Holmes
was ushered into the room. Heavily built and massive, there was
a suggestion of uncouth physical inertia in the figure, but above
this unwieldy frame there was perched a head so masterful in its
brow, so alert in its steel-gray, deep-set eyes, so firm in its lips,
and so subtle in its play of expression, that after the first glance
one forgot the gross body and remembered only the dominant
mind.

  At his heels came our old friend Lestrade, of Scotland Yard --
thin and austere. The gravity of both their faces foretold some
weighty quest. The detective shook hands without a word. Mycroft
Holmes struggled out of his overcoat and subsided into an armchair.

  "A most annoying business, Sherlock," said he. "I extremely
dislike altering my habits, but the powers that be would take no
denial. In the present state of Siam it is most awkward that I
should be away from the office. But it is a real crisis. I have
never seen the Prime Minister so upset. As to the Admiralty -- it
is buzzing like an overturned bee-hive. Have you read up the
case?"

  "We have just done so. What were the technical papers?"

  "Ah, there's the point! Fortunately, it has not come out. The
press would be furious if it did. The papers which this wretched
youth had in his pocket were the plans of the Bruce-Partington
submarine."

  Mycroft Holmes spoke with a solemnity which showed his
sense of the importance of the subject. His brother and I sat
expectant.

  "Surely you have heard of it? I thought everyone had heard of
it."

  "Only as a name."

  "Its importance can hardly be exaggerated. It has been the
most jealously guarded of all government secrets. You may take
it from me that naval warfare becomes impossible within the
radius of a Bruce-Partington's operation. Two years ago a very
large sum was smuggled through the Estimates and was ex-
pended in acquiring a monopoly of the invention. Every effort
has been made to keep the secret. The plans, which are exceed-
ingly intricate, comprising some thirty separate patents, each
essential to the working of the whole, are kept in an elaborate
safe in a confidential office adjoining the arsenal, with burglar-
proof doors and windows. Under no conceivable circumstances
were the plans to be taken from the office. If the chief construc-
tor of the Navy desired to consult them, even he was forced to
go to the Woolwich office for the purpose. And yet here we find
them in the pocket of a dead junior clerk in the heart of London.
From an official point of view it's simply awful."

  "But you have recovered them?"

  "No, Sherlock, no! That's the pinch. We have not. Ten
papers were taken from Woolwich. There were seven in the
pocket of Cadogan West. The three most essential are gone -- 
stolen, vanished. You must drop everything, Sherlock. Never
mind your usual petty puzzles of the police-court. It's a vital
international problem that you have to solve. Why did Cadogan
West take the papers, where are the missing ones, how did he
die, how came his body where it was found, how can the evil be
set right? Find an answer to all these questions, and you will
have done good service for your country."

  "Why do you not solve it yourself, Mycroft? You can see as
far as I."

  "Possibly, Sherlock. But it is a question of getting details.
Give me your details, and from an armchair I will return you an
excellent expert opinion. But to run here and run there, to
cross-question railway guards, and lie on my face with a lens to
my eye -- it is not my metier. No, you are the one man who can
clear the matter up. If you have a fancy to see your name in the
next honours list --"

  My friend smiled and shook his head.

  "I play the game for the game's own sake," said he. "But the
problem certainly presents some points of interest, and I shall be
very pleased to look into it. Some more facts, please."

  "I have jotted down the more essential ones upon this sheet of
paper, together with a few addresses which you will find of
service. The actual official guardian of the papers is the famous
government expert, Sir James Walter. whose decorations and
sub-titles fill two lines of a book of reference. He has grown
gray in the service, is a gentleman, a favoured guest in the most
exalted houses, and, above all, a man whose patriotism is beyond
suspicion. He is one of two who have a key of the safe. I may
add that the papers were undoubtedly in the office during work-
ing hours on Monday, and that Sir James left for London about
three o'clock taking his key with him. He was at the house of
Admiral Sinclair at Barclay Square during the whole of the
evening when this incident occurred."

  "Has the fact been verified?"

  "Yes; his brother, Colonel Valentine Walter, has testified to
his departure from Woolwich, and Admiral Sinclair to his
arrival in London; so Sir James is no longer a direct factor in the
problem."

  "Who was the other man with a key?"

  "The senior clerk and draughtsman, Mr. Sidney Johnson. He
is a man of forty, married, with five children. He is a silent,
morose man, but he has, on the whole, an excellent record in the
public service. He is unpopular with his colleagues, but a hard
worker. According to his own account, corroborated only by the
word of his wife, he was at home the whole of Monday evening
after office hours, and his key has never left the watch-chain
upon which it hangs."

  "Tell us about Cadogan West."

  "He has been ten years in the service and has done good
work. He has the reputation of being hot-headed and impetuous,
but a straight, honest man. We have nothing against him. He was
next to Sidney Johnson in the office. His duties brought him into
daily, personal contact with the plans. No one else had the
handling of them."

  "Who locked the plans up that night?"

  "Mr. Sidney Johnson, the senior clerk."

  "Well, it is surely perfectly clear who took them away. They
are actually found upon the person of this junior clerk, Cadogan
West. That seems final, does it not?"

  "It does, Sherlock, and yet it leaves so much unexplained. In
the first place, why did he take them?"

  "I presume they were of value?"

  "He could have got several thousands for them very easily."

  "Can you suggest any possible motive for taking the papers to
London except to sell them?"

  "No, I cannot."

  "Then we must take that as our working hypothesis. Young
West took the papers. Now this could only be done by having a
false key --"

  "Several false keys. He had to open the building and the
room."

  "He had, then, several false keys. He took the papers to
London to sell the secret, intending, no doubt, to have the plans
themselves back in the safe next morning before they were
missed. While in London on this treasonable mission he met his
end."

  "How?"

  "We will suppose that he was travelling back to Woolwich
when he was killed and thrown out of the compartment."

  "Aldgate, where the body was found, is considerably past the
station for London Bridge, which would be his route to
Woolwich."

  "Many circumstances could be imagined under which he would
pass London Bridge. There was someone in the carriage, for
example, with whom he was havitlg an absorbing interview. This
interview led to a violent scene in which he lost his life. Possibly
he tried to leave the carriage, fell out on the line, and so met his
end. The other closed the door. There was a thick fog, and
nothing could be seen."

  "No better explanation can be given with our present knowl-
edge; and yet consider, Sherlock, how much you leave un-
touched. We will suppose, for argument's sake, that young
Cadogan West had determined to convey these papers to Lon-
don. He would naturally have made an appointment with the
foreign agent and kept his evening clear. Instead of that he took
two tickets for the theatre, escorted his fiancee halfway there,
and then suddenly disappeared."

  "A blind," said Lestrade, who had sat listening with some
impatience to the conversation.

  "A very singular one. That is objection No. 1. Objection No.
2: We will suppose that he reaches London and sees the foreign
agent. He must bring back the papers before morning or the loss
will be discovered. He took away ten. Only seven were in his
pocket. What had become of the other three? He certainly would
not leave them of his own free will. Then, again, where is the
price of his treason? One would have expected to find a large
sum of money in his pocket."

  "It seems to me perfectly clear," said Lestrade. "I have no
doubt at all as to what occurred. He took the papers to sell them.
He saw the agent. They could not agree as to price. He started
home again, but the agent went with him. In the train the agent
murdered him, took the more essential papers, and threw his
body from the carriage. That would account for everything,
would it not?"

  "Why had he no ticket?"

  "The ticket would have shown which station was nearest the
agent's house. Therefore he took it from the murdered man's
pocket."

  "Good, Lestrade, very good," said Holmes. "Your theory
holds together. But if this is true, then the case is at an end. On
the one hand, the traitor is dead. On the other, the plans of the
Bruce-Partington submarine are presumably already on the Con-
tinent. What is there for us to do?"

  "To act, Sherlock -- to act!" cried Mycroft, springing to his
feet. "All my instincts are against this explanation. Use your
powers! Go to the scene of the crime! See the people concerned!
Leave no stone unturned! In all your career you have never had
so great a chance of serving your country."

  "Well, well!" said Holmes, shrugging his shoulders. "Come,
Watson! And you, Lestrade, could you favour us with your
company for an hour or two? We will begin our investigation by
a visit to Aldgate Station. Good-bye, Mycroft. I shall let you
have a report before evening, but I warn you in advance that you
have little to expect."

  An hour later Holmes, Lestrade and I stood upon the Under-
ground railroad at the point where it emerges from the tunnel
immediately before Aldgate Station. A courteous red-faced old
gentleman represented the railway company.

  "This is where the young man's body lay," said he, indicat-
ing a spot about three feet from the metals. "It could not have
fallen from above, for these, as you see, are all blank walls.
Therefore, it could only have come from a train, and that train,
so far as we can trace it, must have passed about midnight on
Monday."

  "Have the carriages been examined for any sign of violence?"

  "There are no such signs, and no ticket has been found."

  "No record of a door being found open?"

  "None."

  "We have had some fresh evidence this morning," said
Lestrade. "A passenger who passed Aldgate in an ordinary
Metropolitan train about 11:40 on Monday night declares that he
heard a heavy thud, as of a body striking the line, just before the
train reached the station. There was dense fog, however, and
nothing could be seen. He made no report of it at the time. Why
whatever is the matter with Mr. Holmes?"

  My friend was standing with an expression of strained inten-
sity upon his face, staring at the railway metals where they
curved out of the tunnel. Aldgate is a junction, and there was a
network of points. On these his eager, questioning eyes were
fixed, and I saw on his keen, alert face that tightening of the
lips, that quiver of the nostrils, and concentration of the heavy
tufted brows which I knew so well.

  "Points," he muttered, "the points."

  "What of it? What do you mean?"

  "I suppose there are no great number of points on a system
such as this?"

  "No; there are very few."

  "And a curve, too. Points, and a curve. By Jove! if it were
only so."

  "What is it, Mr. Holmes? Have you a clue?"

  "An idea -- an indication, no more. But the case certainly
grows in interest. Unique, perfectly unique, and yet why not? I
do not see any indications of bleeding on the line."

  "There were hardly any."

  "But I understand that there was a considerable wound."

  "The bone was crushed, but there was no great external
injury."

  "And yet one would have expected some bleeding. Would it
be possible for me to inspect the train which contained the
passenger who heard the thud of a fall in the fog?"

  "I fear not, Mr. Holmes. The train has been broken up before
now, and the carriages redistributed."

  "I can assure you, Mr. Holmes," said Lestrade, "that every
carriage has been carefully examined. I saw to it myself."

  It was one of my friend's most obvious weaknesses that he
was impatient with less alert intelligences than his own.

  "Very likely," said he, turning away. "As it happens, it was
not the carriages which I desired to examine. Watson, we have
done all we can here. We need not trouble you any further, Mr.
Lestrade. I think our investigations must now carry us to
Woolwich."

  At London Bridge, Holmes wrote a telegram to his brother,
which he handed to me before dispatching it. It ran thus:

      See some light in the darkness, but it may possibly flicker

    out. Meanwhile, please send by messenger, to await return

    at Baker Street, a complete list of all foreign spies or

    international agents known to be in England, with full

    address.

                                                       SHERLOCK.

      

  "That should be helpful, Watson," he remarked as we took
our seats in the Woolwich train. "We certainly owe Brother
Mycroft a debt for having introduced us to what promises to be a
really very remarkable case."

  His eager face still wore that expression of intense and high-
strung energy, which showed me that some novel and suggestive
circumstance had opened up a stimulating line of thought. See
the foxhound with hanging ears and drooping tail as it lolls about
the kennels, and compare it with the same hound as, with
gleaming eyes and straining muscles, it runs upon a breast-high
scent -- such was the change in Holmes since the morning. He
was a different man from the limp and lounging figure in the
mouse-coloured dressing-gown who had prowled so restlessly
only a few hours before round the fog-girt room.

  "There is material here. There is scope," said he. "I am dull
indeed not to have understood its possibilities."

  "Even now they are dark to me."

  "The end is dark to me also, but I have hold of one idea
which may lead us far. The man met his death elsewhere, and
his body was on the roof of a carriage."

  "On the roof!"

  "Remarkable, is it not? But consider the facts. Is it a coinci-
dence that it is found at the very point where the train pitches
and sways as it comes round on the points? Is not that the place
where an object upon the roof might be expected to fall off? The
points would affect no object inside the train. Either the body fell
from the roof, or a very curious coincidence has occurred. But
now consider the question of the blood. Of course, there was no
bleeding on the line if the body had bled elsewhere. Each fact is
suggestive in itself. Together they have a cumulative force."

  "And the ticket, too!" I cried.

  "Exactly. We could not explain the absence of a ticket. This
would explain it. Everything fits together."

  "But suppose it were so, we are still as far as ever from
unravelling the mystery of his death. Indeed, it becomes not
simpler but stranger."

  "Perhaps," said Holmes thoughtfully, "perhaps." He re-
lapsed into a silent reverie, which lasted until the slow train drew
up at last in Woolwich Station. There he called a cab and drew
Mycroft's paper from his pocket.

  "We have quite a little round of afternoon calls to make,"
said he. "I think that Sir James Walter claims our first attention. "

  The house of the famous official was a fine villa with green
lawns, stretching down to the Thames. As we reached it the fog
was lifting, and a thin, watery sunshine was breaking through. A
butler answered our ring.

  "Sir James, sir!" said he with solemn face. "Sir James died
this morning."

  "Good heavens!" cried Holmes in amazement. "How did he
die?"

  "Perhaps you would care to step in, sir, and see his brother,
Colonel Valentine?"

  "Yes, we had best do so."

  We were ushered into a dim-lit drawing-room, where an in-
stant later we were joined by a very tall, handsome, light-
bearded man of fifty, the younger brother of the dead scientist.
His wild eyes, stained cheeks, and unkempt hair all spoke of the
sudden blow which had fallen upon the household. He was
hardly articulate as he spoke of it.

  "It was this horrible scandal," said he. "My brother, Sir
James, was a man of very sensitive honour, and he could not
survive such an affair. It broke his heart. He was always so
proud of the efficiency of his department, and this was a crush-
ing blow."

  "We had hoped that he might have given us some indications
which would have helped us to clear the matter up."

  "I assure you that it was all a mystery to him as it is to you
and to all of us. He had already put all his knowledge at the
disposal of the police. Naturally he had no doubt that Cadogan
West was guilty. But all the rest was inconceivable."

  "You cannot throw any new light upon the affair?"

  "I know nothing myself save what I have read or heard. I
have no desire to be discourteous, but you can understand, Mr.
Holmes, that we are much disturbed at present, and I must ask
you to hasten this interview to an end."

  "This is indeed an unexpected development," said my friend
when we had regained the cab. "I wonder if the death was
natural, or whether the poor old fellow killed himself! If the
latter, may it be taken as some sign of self-reproach for duty
neglected? We must leave that question to the future. Now we
shall turn to the Cadogan Wests."

  A small but well-kept house in the outskirts of the town
sheltered the bereaved mother. The old lady was too dazed with
grief to be of any use to us, but at her side was a white-faced
young lady, who introduced herself as Miss Violet Westbury, the
fiancee of the dead man, and the last to see him upon that fatal
night.

  "I cannot explain it, Mr. Holmes," she said. "I have not shut
an eye since the tragedy, thinking, thinking, thinking, night and
day, what the true meaning of it can be. Arthur was the most
single-minded, chivalrous, patriotic man upon earth. He would
have cut his right hand off before he would sell a State secret
confided to his keeping. It is absurd, impossible, preposterous to
anyone who knew him."

  "But the facts, Miss Westbury?"

  "Yes, yes I admit I cannot explain them."

  "Was he in any want of money?"

  "No; his needs were very simple and his salary ample. He had
saved a few hundreds, and we were to marry at the New Year."

  "No signs of any mental excitement? Come, Miss Westbury,
be absolutely frank with us."

  The quick eye of my companion had noted some change in her
manner. She coloured and hesitated.

  "Yes," she said at last, "I had a feeling that there was
something on his mind."

  "For long?"

  "Only for the last week or so. He was thoughtful and worried.
Once I pressed him about it. He admitted that there was some-
thing, and that it was concerned with his official life. 'It is too
serious for me to speak about, even to you,' said he. I could get
nothing more."

  Holmes looked grave.

  "Go on, Miss Westbury. Even if it seems to tell against him,
go on. We cannot say what it may lead to."

  "Indeed, I have nothing more to tell. Once or twice it seemed
to me that he was on the point of telling me something. He spoke
one evening of the importance of the secret, and I have some
recollection that he said that no doubt foreign spies would pay a
great deal to have it."

  My friend's face grew graver still.

  "Anything else?"

  "He said that we were slack about such matters -- that it would
be easy for a traitor to get the plans."

  "Was it only recently that he made such remarks?"

  "Yes, quite recently."

  "Now tell us of that last evening."

  "We were to go to the theatre. The fog was so thick that a cab
was useless. We walked, and our way took us close to the office.
Suddenly he darted away into the fog."

  "Without a word?"

  "He gave an exclamation; that was all. I waited but he never
returned. Then I walked home. Next morning, after the office
opened, they came to inquire. About twelve o'clock we heard
the terrible news. Oh, Mr. Holmes, if you could only, only save
his honour! It was so much to him."

  Holmes shook his head sadly.

  "Come, Watson," said he, "our ways lie elsewhere. Our next
station must be the office from which the papers were taken.

  "It was black enough before against this young man, but our
inquiries make it blacker," he remarked as the cab lumbered off.
"His coming marriage gives a motive for the crime. He naturally
wanted money. The idea was in his head, since he spoke about
it. He nearly made the girl an accomplice in the treason by
telling her his plans. It is all very bad."

  "But surely, Holmes, character goes for something? Then,
again, why should he leave the girl in the street and dart away to
commit a felony?"

  "Exactly! There are certainly objections. But it is a formida-
ble case which they have to meet."

  Mr. Sidney Johnson, the senior clerk, met us at the office and
recelved us with that respect which my companion's card always
commanded. He was a thin, gruff, bespectacled man of middle
age, his cheeks haggard, and his hands twitching from the
nervous strain to which he had been subjected.

  "It is bad, Mr. Holmes, very bad! Have you heard of the
death of the chief?"

  "We have just come from his house."

  "The place is disorganized. The chief dead, Cadogan West
dead, our papers stolen. And yet, when we closed our door on
Monday evening, we were as efficient an office as any in the
government service. Good God, it's dreadful to think of! That
West, of all men, should have done such a thing!"

  "You are sure of his guilt, then?"

  "I can see no other way out of it. And yet I would have trusted
him as I trust myself."

  "At what hour was the office closed on Monday?"

  "At five."

  "Did you close it?"

  "I am always the last man out."

  "Where were the plans?"

  "In that safe. I put them there myself."

  "Is there no watchman to the building?"

  "There is, but he has other departments to look after as well.
He is an old soldier and a most trustworthy man. He saw nothing
that evening. Of course the fog was very thick."

  "Suppose that Cadogan West wished to make his way into the
building after hours; he would need three keys, would he not,
before he could reach the papers?"

  "Yes, he would. The key of the outer door, the key of the
office, and the key of the safe."

  "Only Sir James Walter and you had those keys?"

  "I had no keys of the doors -- only of the safe."

  "Was Sir James a man who was orderly in his habits?"

  "Yes, I think he was. I know that so far as those three keys
are concerned he kept them on the same ring. I have often seen
them there."

  "And that ring went with him to London?"

  "He said so."

  "And your key never left your possession?"

  "Never."

  "Then West, if he is the culprit, must have had a duplicate.
And yet none was found upon his body. One other point: if a
clerk in this office desired to sell the plans, would it not be
simpler to copy the plans for himself than to take the originals,
as was actually done?"

  "It would take considerable technical knowledge to copy the
plans in an effective way."

  "But I suppose either Sir James, or you, or West had that
technical knowledge?"

  "No doubt we had, but I beg you won't try to drag me into
the matter, Mr. Holmes. What is the use of our speculating in
this way when the original plans were actually found on West?"

  "Well, it is certainly singular that he should run the risk of
taking originals if he could safely have taken copies, which
would have equally served his turn."

  "Singular, no doubt -- and yet he did so."

  "Every inquiry in this case reveals something inexplicable.
Now there are three papers still missing. They are, as I under-
stand, the vital ones."

  "Yes, that is so."

  "Do you mean to say that anyone holding these three papers
and without the seven others, could construct a Bruce-Partington
submarine?"

  "I reported to that effect to the Admiralty. But to-day I have
been over the drawings again, and I am not so sure of it. The
double valves with the automatic self-adjusting slots are drawn in
one of the papers which have been returned. Until the foreigners
had invented that for themselves they could not make the boat.
Of course they might soon get over the difficulty."

  "But the three missing drawings are the most important?"

  "Undoubtedly."

  "I think, with your permission, I will now take a stroll round
me premises. I do not recall any other question which I desired
to ask."

  He examined the lock of the safe, the door of the room, and
finally the iron shutters of the window. It was only when we
were on the lawn outside that his interest was strongly excited.
There was a laurel bush outside the window, and several of the
branches bore signs of having been twisted or snapped. He
examined them carefully with his lens, and then some dim and
vague marks upon the earth beneath. Finally he asked the chief
clerk to close the iron shutters, and he pointed out to me that
they hardly met in the centre, and that it would be possible for
anyone outside to see what was going on within the room.

  "The indications are ruined by the three days' delay. They
may mean something or nothing. Well, Watson, I do not think
that Woolwich can help us further. It is a small crop which we
have gathered. Let us see if we can do better in London."

  Yet we added one more sheaf to our harvest before we left
Woolwich Station. The clerk in the ticket office was able to say
with confidence that he saw Cadogan West -- whom he knew
well by sight -- upon the Monday night, and that he went to
London by the 8:15 to London Bridge. He was alone and took a
single third-class ticket. The clerk was struck at the time by his
excited and nervous manner. So shaky was he that he could
hardly pick up his change, and the clerk had helped him with it.
A reference to the timetable showed that the 8:15 was the first
train which it was possible for West to take after he had left the
lady about 7:30.

  "Let us reconstruct, Watson," said Holmes after half an hour
of silence. "I am not aware that in all our joint researches we
have ever had a case which was more difficult to get at. Every
fresh advance which we make only reveals a fresh ridge beyond.
And yet we have surely made some appreciable progress.

  "The effect of our inquiries at Woolwich has in the main been
against young Cadogan West; but the indications at the window
would lend themselves to a more favourable hypothesis. Let us
suppose, for example, that he had been approached by some
foreign agent. It might have been done under such pledges as
would have prevented him from speaking of it, and yet would
have affected his thoughts in the direction indicated by his
remarks to his fiancee. Very good. We will now suppose that as
he went to the theatre with the young lady he suddenly, in the
fog, caught a glimpse of this same agent going in the direction of
the office. He was an impetuous man, quick in his decisions.
Everything gave way to his duty. He followed the man, reached
the window, saw the abstraction of the documents, and pursued
the thief. In this way we get over the objection that no one would
take originals when he could make copies. This outsider had to
take originals. So far it holds together."

  "What is the next step?"

  "Then we come into difficulties. One would imagine that
under such circumstances the first act of young Cadogan West
would be to seize the villain and raise the alarm. Why did he not
do so? Could it have been an official superior who took the
papers? That would explain West's conduct. Or could the chief
have given West the slip in the fog, and West started at once to
London to head him off from his own rooms, presuming that he
knew where the rooms were? The call must have been very
pressing, since he left his girl standing in the fog and made no
effort to communicate with her. Our scent runs cold here, and
there is a vast gap between either hypothesis and the laying of
West's body, with seven papers in his pocket, on the roof of a
Metropolitan train. My instinct now is to work from the other
end. If Mycroft has given us the list of addresses we may be able
to pick our man and follow two tracks instead of one."

  Surely enough, a note awaited us at Baker Street. A govern-
ment messenger had brought it post-haste. Holmes glanced at it
and threw it over to me.

       There are numerous small fry, but few who would handle

     so big an affair. The only men worth considering are Adolph

     Meyer, of 13 Great George Street, Westminster; Louis La

     Rothiere, of Campden Mansions, Notting Hill; and Hugo

     Oberstein, 13 Caulfield Gardens, Kensington. The latter

     was known to be in town on Monday and is now reported as

     having left. Glad to hear you have seen some light. The

     Cabinet awaits your final report with the utmost anxiety.

     Urgent representations have arrived from the very highest

     quarter. The whole force of the State is at your back if you

     should need it.

                                                       MYCROFT.

  "I'm afraid," said Holmes, smiling, "that all the queen's
horses and all the queen's men cannot avail in this matter." He
had spread out his big map of London and leaned eagerly over it.
"Well, well," said he presently with an exclamation of satisfac-
tion, "things are turning a little in our direction at last. Why
Watson, I do honestly believe that we are going to pull it off,
after all." He slapped me on the shoulder with a sudden burst of
hilarity. "I am going out now. It is only a reconnaissance. I will
do nothing serious without my trusted comrade and biographer at
my elbow. Do you stay here, and the odds are that you will see
me again in an hour or two. If time hangs heavy get foolscap and
a pen, abd begin your narrative of how we saved the State."

  I felt some reflection of his elation in my own mind, for I
knew well that he would not depart so far from his usual
austerity of demeanour unless there was good cause for exulta-
tion. All the long November evening I waited, filled with impa-
tience for his return. At last, shortly after nine o'clock, there
arrived a messenger with a note:

        Am dining at Goldini's Restaurant, Gloucester Road,

      Kensington. Please come at once and join me there. Bring

      with you a jemmy, a dark lantern, a chisel, and a revolver.

                                                            S. H.

  It was a nice equipment for a respectable citizen to carry
through the dim, fog-draped streets. I stowed them all discreetly
away in my overcoat and drove straight to the address given.
There sat my friend at a little round table near the door of the
garish Italian restaurant.

  "Have you had something to eat? Then join me in a coffee
and curacao. Try one of the proprietor's cigars. They are less
poisonous than one would expect. Have you the tools?"

  "They are here, in my overcoat."

  "Excellent. Let me give you a short sketch of what I have
done, with some indication of what we are about to do. Now it
must be evident to you, Watson, that this young man's body was
placed on the roof of the train. That was clear from the instant
that I determined the fact that it was from the roof, and not from
a carriage, that he had fallen."

  "Could it not have been dropped from a bridge?"

  "I should say it was impossible. If you examine the roofs you
will find that they are slightly rounded, and there is no railing
round them. Therefore, we can say for certain that young Cadogan
West was placed on it."

  "How could he be placed there?"

  "That was the question which we had to answer. There is only
one possible way. You are aware that the Underground runs
clear of tunnels at some points in the West End. I had a vague
memory that as I have travelled by it I have occasionally seen
windows just above my head. Now, suppose that a train halted
under such a window, would there be any difficulty in laying a
body upon the roof?"

  "It seems most improbable."

  "We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other
contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must
be the truth. Here all other contingencies have failed. When I
found that the leading international agent, who had just left
London, lived in a row of houses which abutted upon the Under-
ground, I was so pleased that you were a little astonished at my
sudden frivolity."

  "Oh, that was it, was it?"

  "Yes, that was it. Mr. Hugo Oberstein, of 13 Caulfield
Gardens, had become my objective. I began my operations at
Gloucester Road Station, where a very helpful official walked
with me along the track and allowed me to satisfy myself not
only that the back-stair windows of Caulfield Gardens open on
the line but the even more essential fact that, owing to the
intersection of one of the larger railways, the Underground trains
are frequently held motionless for some minutes at that very
spot."

  "Splendid, Holmes! You have got it!"

  "So far -- so far, Watson. We advance, but the goal is afar.
Well, having seen the back of Caulfield Gardens, I visited the
front and satisfied myself that the bird was indeed flown. It is a
considerable house, unfurnished, so far as I could judge, in the
upper rooms. Oberstein lived there with a single valet, who was
probably a confederate entirely in his confidence. We must bear
in mind that Oberstein has gone to the Continent to dispose of
his booty, but not with any idea of flight; for he had no reason to
fear a warrant, and the idea of an amateur domiciliary visit
would certainly never occur to him. Yet that is precisely what we
are about to make."

  "Could we not get a warrant and legalize it?"

  "Hardly on the evidence."

  "What can we hope to do?"

  "We cannot tell what correspondence may be there."

  "I don't like it, Holmes."

  "My dear fellow, you shall keep watch in the street. I'll do
the criminal part. It's not a time to stick at trifles. Think of
Mycroft's note, of the Admiralty, the Cabinet, the exalted person
who waits for news. We are bound to go."

  My answer was to rise from the table.

  "You are right, Holmes. We are bound to go."

  He sprang up and shook me by the hand.

  "I knew you would not shrink at the last," said he, and for a
moment I saw something in his eyes which was nearer to tender-
ness than I had ever seen. The next instant he was his masterful,
practical self once more.

  "It is nearly half a mile, but there is no hurry. Let us walk,"
said he. "Don't drop the instruments, I beg. Your arrest as a
suspicious character would be a most unfortunate complication."

  Caulfield Gardens was one of those lines of flat-faced, pillared,
and porticoed houses which are so prominent a product of the
middle Victorian epoch in the West End of London. Next door
there appeared to be a children's party, for the merry buzz of
young voices and the clatter of a piano resounded through the
night. The fog still hung about and screened us with its friendly
shade. Holmes had lit his lantern and flashed it upon the massive
door.

  "This is a serious proposition," said he. "It is certainly
bolted as well as locked. We would do better in the area. There
is an excellent archway down yonder in case a too zealous
policeman should intrude. Give me a hand, Watson, and I'll do
the same for you."

  A minute later we were both in the area. Hardly had we
reached the dark shadows before the step of the policeman was
heard in the fog above. As its soft rhythm died away, Holmes set
to work upon the lower door. I saw him stoop and strain until
with a sharp crash it flew open. We sprang through into the dark
passage, closing the area door behind us. Holmes led the way up
the curving, uncarpeted stair. His little fan of yellow light shone
upon a low window.

  "Here we are, Watson -- this must be the one." He threw it
open, and as he did so there was a low, harsh murmur, growing
steadily into a loud roar as a train dashed past us in the darkness.
Holmes swept his light along the window-sill. It was thickly
coated with soot from the passing engines, but the black surface
was blurred and rubbed in places.

  "You can see where they rested the body. Halloa, Watson!
what is this? There can be no doubt that it is a blood mark." He
was pointing to faint discolourations along the woodwork of the
window. "Here it is on the stone of the stair also. The demon-
stration is complete. Let us stay here until a train stops. "

  We had not long to wait. The very next train roared from the
tunnel as before, but slowed in the open, and then, with a
creaking of brakes, pulled up immediately beneath us. It was not
four feet from the window-ledge to the roof of the carriages.
Holmes softly closed the window.

  "So far we are justified," said he. "What do you think of it,
Watson?"

  "A masterpiece. You have never risen to a greater height."

  "I cannot agree with you there. From the moment that I
conceived the idea of the body being upon the roof, which surely
was not a very abstruse one, all the rest was inevitable. If it were
not for the grave interests involved the affair up to this point
would be insignificant. Our difficulties are still before us. But
perhaps we may find something here which may help us."

  We had ascended the kitchen stair and entered the suite of
rooms upon the first floor. One was a dining-room, severely
furnished and containing nothing of interest. A second was a
bedroom, which also drew blank. The remaining room appeared
more promising, and my companion settled down to a systematic
examination. It was littered with books and papers, and was
evidently used as a study. Swiftly and methodically Holmes turned
over the contents of drawer after drawer and cupboard after
cupboard, but no gleam of success came to brighten his austere
face. At the end of an hour he was no further than when he
started.

  "The cunning dog has covered his tracks," said he. "He has
left nothing to incriminate him. His dangerous correspondence
has been destroyed or removed. This is our last chance."

  It was a small tin cash-box which stood upon the writing-
desk. Holmes pried it open with his chisel. Several rolls of paper
were within, covered with figures and calculations, without any
note to show to what they referred. The recurring words "water
pressure" and "pressure to the square inch" suggested some
possible relation to a submarine. Holmes tossed them all impa-
tiently aside. There only remained an envelope with some
small newspaper slips inside it. He shook them out on the
table, and at once I saw by his eager face that his hopes had
been raised.

  "What's this, Watson? Eh? What's this? Record of a series of
messages in the advertisements of a paper. Daily Telegraph
agony column by the print and paper. Right-hand top corner of a
page. No dates -- but messages arrange themselves. This must be
the first:

        "Hoped to hear sooner. Terms agreed to. Write fully to

      address given on card.

                                                      PIERROT.

"Next comes:

        "Too complex for description. Must have full report.

      Stuff awaits you when goods delivered.

                                                    PIERROT.

"Then comes:

        "Matter presses. Must withdraw offer unless contract

      completed. Make appointment by letter. Will confirm by

      advertisement.

                                                    PIERROT.

"Finally:

        "Monday night after nine. Two taps. Only ourselves. Do

      not be so suspicious. Payment in hard cash when goods

      delivered.

                                                      PIERROT.

  "A fairly complete record, Watson! If we could only get at
the man at the other end!" He sat lost in thought, tapping his
fingers on the table. Finally he sprang to his feet.

  "Well, perhaps it won't be so difficult, after all. There is
nothing more to be done here, Watson. I think we might drive
round to the offices of the Daily Telegraph, and so bring a good
day's work to a conclusion."

  Mycroft Holmes and Lestrade had come round by appointment
after breakfast next day and Sherlock Holmes had recounted to
them our proceedings of the day before. The professional shook
his head over our confessed burglary.

  "We can't do these things in the force, Mr. Holmes," said
he. "No wonder you get results that are beyond us. But some of
these days you'll go too far, and you'll find yourself and your
friend in trouble."

  "For England, home and beauty -- eh, Watson? Martyrs on the
altar of our country. But what do you think of it, Mycroft?"

  "Excellent, Sherlock! Admirable! But what use will you make
of it?"

  Holmes picked up the Daily Telegroph which lay upon the
table.

  "Have you seen Pierrot's advertisement to-day?"

  "What? Another one?"

  "Yes, here it is:

        "To-night. Same hour. Same place. Two taps. Most

      vitally important. Your own safety at stake.

                                                PIERROT.

  "By George!" cried Lestrade. "If he answers that we've got
him!"

  "That was my idea when I put it in. I think if you could both
make it convenient to come with us about eight o'clock to
Caulfield Gardens we might possibly get a little nearer to a
solution."

  One of the most remarkable characteristics of Sherlock Holmes
was his power of throwing his brain out of action and switching
all his thoughts on to lighter things whenever he had convinced
himself that he could no longer work to advantage. I remember
that during the whole of that memorable day he lost himself in a
monograph which he had undertaken upon the Polyphonic Mo-
tets of Lassus. For my own part I had none of this power of
detachment, and the day, in consequence, appeared to be inter-
minable. The great national importance of the issue, the suspense
in high quarters, the direct nature of the experiment which we
were trying -- all combined to work upon my nerve. It was a
relief to me when at last, after a light dinner, we set out upon our
expedition. Lestrade and Mycroft met us by appointment at the
outside of Gloucester Road Station. The area door of Oberstein's
house had been left open the night before, and it was necessary
for me, as Mycroft Holmes absolutely and indignantly declined
to climb the railings, to pass in and open the hall door. By nine
o'clock we were all seated in the study, waiting patiently for our
man.

  An hour passed and yet another. When eleven struck, the
measured beat of the great church clock seemed to sound the
dirge of our hopes. Lestrade and Mycroft were fidgeting in their
seats and looking twice a minute at their watches. Holmes sat
silent and composed, his eyelids half shut, but every sense on the
alert. He raised his head with a sudden jerk.

  "He is coming," said he.

  There had been a furtive step past the door. Now it returned.
We heard a shuffling sound outside, and then two sharp taps
with the knocker. Holmes rose, motioning to us to remain seated.
The gas in the hall was a mere point of light. He opened the
outer door, and then as a dark figure slipped past him he closed
and fastened it. "This way!" we heard him say, and a moment
later our man stood before us. Holmes had followed him closely,
and as the man turned with a cry of surprise and alarm he caught
him by the collar and threw him back into the room. Before our
prisoner had recovered his balance the door was shut and Holmes
standing with his back against it. The man glared round him,
staggered, and fell senseless upon the floor. With the shock, his
broad-brimmed hat flew from his head, his cravat slipped down
from his lips, and there were the long light beard and the soft,
handsome delicate features of Colonel Valentine Walter.

  Holmes gave a whistle of surprise.

  "You can write me down an ass this time, Watson," said he.
"This was not the bird that I was looking for."

  "Who is he?" asked Mycroft eagerly.

  "The younger brother of the late Sir James Walter, the head
of the Submarine Department. Yes, yes; I see the fall of the
cards. He is coming to. I think that you had best leave his
examination to me."

  We had carried the prostrate body to the sofa. Now our
prisoner sat up, looked round him with a horror-stricken face,
and passed his hand over his forehead, like one who cannot
believe his own senses.

  "What is this?" he asked. "I came here to visit Mr. Oberstein."

  "Everything is known, Colonel Walter," said Holmes. "How
an English gentleman could behave in such a manner is beyond
my comprehension. But your whole correspondence and rela-
tions with Oberstein are within our knowledge. So also are the
circumstances connected with the death of young Cadogan West.
Let me advise you to gain at least the small credit for repentance
and confession, since there are still some details which we can
only learn from your lips."

  The man groaned and sank his face in his hands. We waited,
but he was silent.

  "I can assure you," said Holmes, "that every essential is
already known. We know that you were pressed for money; that
you took an impress of the keys which your brother held; and
that you entered into a correspondence with Oberstein, who
answered your letters through the advertisement columns of the
Daily Telegraph. We are aware that you went down to the office
in the fog on Monday night, but that you were seen and followed
by young Cadogan West, who had probably some previous
reason to suspect you. He saw your theft, but could not give the
alarm, as it was just possible that you were taking the papers to
your brother in London. Leaving all his private concerns, like
the good citizen that he was, he followed you closely in the fog
and kept at your heels until you reached this very house. There
he intervened, and then it was, Colonel Walter, that to treason
you added the more terrible crime of murder."

  "I did not! I did not! Before God I swear that I did not!" cried
our wretched prisoner.

  "Tell us, then, how Cadogan West met his end before you
laid him upon the roof of a railway carriage."

  "I will. I swear to you that I will. I did the rest. I confess it. It
was just as you say. A Stock Exchange debt had to be paid. I
needed the money badly. Oberstein offered me five thousand. It
was to save myself from ruin. But as to murder, I am as innocent
as you."

  "What happened, then?"

  "He had his suspicions before, and he followed me as you
describe. I never knew it until I was at the very door. It was
thick fog, and one could not see three yards. I had given two
taps and Oberstein had come to the door. The young man rushed
up and demanded to know what we were about to do with the
papers. Oberstein had a short life-preserver. He always carried it
with him. As West forced his way after us into the house
Oberstein struck him on the head. The blow was a fatal one. He
was dead within five minutes. There he lay in the hall, and we
were at our wit's end what to do. Then Oberstein had this idea
about the trains which halted under his back window. But first he
examined the papers which I had brought. He said that three of
them were essential, and that he must keep them. 'You cannot
keep them,' said I. 'There will be a dreadful row at Woolwich if
they are not returned.' 'I must keep them,' said he, 'for they are
so technical that it is impossible in the time to make copies.'
'Then they must all go back together tonight,' said I. He thought
for a little, and then he cried out that he had it. 'Three I will
keep,' said he. 'The others we will stuff into the pocket of this
young man. When he is found the whole business will assuredly
be put to his account. I could see no other way out of it, so we
did as he suggested. We waited half an hour at the window
before a train stopped. It was so thick that nothing could be seen,
and we had no difficulty in lowering West's body on to the train.
That was the end of the matter so far as I was concerned."

  "And your brother?"

  "He said nothing, but he had caught me once with his keys,
and I think that he suspected. I read in his eyes that he sus-
pected. As you know, he never held up his head again."

  There was silence in the room. It was broken by Mycroft
Holmes.

  "Can you not make reparation? It would ease your con-
science, and possibly your punishment."

  "What reparation can I make?"

  "Where is Oberstein with the papers?"

  "I do not know."

  "Did he give you no address?"

  "He said that letters to the Hotel du Louvre, Paris, would
eventually reach him."

  "Then reparation is still within your power," said Sherlock
Holmes.

  "I will do anything I can. I owe this fellow no particular
good-will. He has been my ruin and my downfall."

  "Here are paper and pen. Sit at this desk and write to my
dictation. Direct the envelope to the address given. That is right.
Now the letter:

    "DEAR SIR:

      "With regard to our transaction, you will no doubt have

    observed by now that one essential detail is missing. I have

    a tracing which will make it complete. This has involved

    me in extra trouble, however, and I must ask you for a

    further advance of five hundred pounds. I will not trust it to

    the post, nor will I take anything but gold or notes. I would

    come to you abroad, but it would excite remark if I left the

    country at present. Therefore I shall expect to meet you in

    the smoking-room of the Charing Cross Hotel at noon on

    Saturday. Remember that only English notes, or gold, will

    be taken.

That will do very well. I shall be very much surprised if it does
not fetch our man."

  And it did! It is a matter of history -- that secret history of a
nation which is often so much more intimate and interesting than
its public chronicles -- that Oberstein, eager to complete the coup
of his lifetime, came to the lure and was safely engulfed for
fifteen years in a British prison. In his trunk were found the
invaluable Bruce-Partington plans, which he had put up for
auction in all the naval centres of Europe.

  Colonel Walter died in prison towards the end of the second
year of his sentence. As to Holmes, he returned refreshed to his
monograph upon the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus, which has
since been printed for private circulation, and is said by experts
to be the last word upon the subject. Some weeks afterwards I
learned incidentally that my friend spent a day at Windsor,
whence he returned with a remarkably fine emerald tie-pin.
When I asked him if he had bought it, he answered that it was a
present from a certain gracious lady in whose interests he had
once been fortunate enough to carry out a small commission. He
said no more, but I fancy that I could guess at that lady's august
name, and I have little doubt that the emerald pin will forever
recall to my friend's memory the adventure of the Bruce-Partington
plans.

            The Adventure of the Devil's Foot

  In recordinc from time to time some of the curious experiences and 
interesting recollections which I associate with my long and intimate 
friendship with Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I have continually been faced by 
difficulties caused by his own aversion to publicity. To his sombre and 
cynical spirit all popular applause was always abhorrent, and nothing 
amused him more at the end of a successful case than to hand over the actual 
exposure to some orthodox official, and to listen with a mocking smile 
to the general chorus of misplaced congratulation. It was indeed this 
attitude upon the part of my friend and certainly not any lack of 
interesting material which has caused me of late years to lay very few of
my records before the public. My participation in some of his adventures was
always a privilege which entailed discretion and reticence upon me.

  It was, then, with considerable surprise that I received a telegram from 
Holmes last Tuesday -- he has never been known to write where a telegram 
would serve -- in the following terms:

       Why not tell them of the Cornish horror -- strangest case 
I have handled.

I have no idea what backward sweep of memory had brought the matter 
fresh to his mind, or what freak had caused him to desire that I should 
recount it; but I hasten, before another cancelling telegram may arrive, to 
hunt out the notes which give me the exact details of the case and to lay the 
narrative before my readers.

  It was, then, in the spring of the year 1897 that Holmes's iron constitution 
showed some symptoms of giving way in the face of constant hard work of a 
most exacting kind, aggravated, perhaps, by occasional indiscretions of his 
own. In March of that year Dr. Moore Agar, of Harley Street, whose dramatic 
introduction to Holmes I may some day recount, gave positive injunctions 
that the famous private agent lay aside all his cases and surrender himself to 
complete rest if he wished to avert an absolute breakdown. The state of his 
health was not a matter in which he himself took the faintest interest, for 
his mental detachment was absolute, but he was induced at last, on the threat 
of being permanently disqualified from work, to give himself a complete change 
of scene and air. Thus it was that in the early spring of that year we found 
ourselves together in a small cottage near Poldhu Bay, at the further 
extremity of the Cornish peninsula.

  It was a singular spot, and one peculiarly well suited to the grim humour of 
my patient. From the windows of our little whitewashed house, which stood 
high upon a grassy headland, we looked down upon the whole sinister 
semicircle of Mounts Bay, that old death trap of sailing vessels, with its 
fringe of black cliffs and surge-swept reefs on which innumerable seamen
have met their end. With a northerly breeze it lies placid and sheltered, 
inviting the storm-tossed craft to tack into it for rest and protection.

  Then come the sudden swirl round of the wind, the blustering gale from 
the south-west, the dragging anchor, the lee shore, and the last battle in the 
creaming breakers. The wise mariner stands far out from that evil place.

  On the land side our surroundings were as sombre as on the sea. It was a 
country of rolling moors, lonely and dun-coloured, with an occasional church 
tower to mark the site of some oldworld village. In every direction upon 
these moors there were traces of some vanished race which had passed 
utterly away, and left as its sole record strange monuments of stone, 
irregular mounds which contained the burned ashes of the dead, and curious 
earthworks which hinted at prehistoric strife. The glamour and mystery of 
the place, with its sinister atmosphere of forgotten nations, appealed to the 
imagination of my friend, and he spent much of his time in long walks and 
solitary meditations upon the moor. The ancient Cornish language had also 
arrested his attention, and he had, I remember, conceived the idea that it 
was akin to the Chaldean, and had been largely derived from the Phoenician 
traders in tin. He had received a consignment of books upon philology and 
was settling down to develop this thesis when suddenly, to my sorrow and to 
his unfeigned delight, we found ourselves, even in that land of dreams, 
plunged into a problem at our very doors which was more intense, more 
engrossing, and infinitely more mysterious than any of those which had 
driven us from London. Our simple life and peaceful, healthy routine were 
violently interrupted, and we were precipitated into the midst of a series of 
events which caused the utmost excitement not only in Cornwall but 
throughout the whole west of England. Many of my readers may retain some 
recollection of what was called at the time "The Cornish Horror," though a 
most imperfect account of the matter reached the London press. Now, after 
thirteen years, I will give the true details of this inconceivable affair to 
the public.

  I have said that scattered towers marked the villages which dotted this part 
of Cornwall. The nearest of these was the hamlet of Tredannick Wollas, where 
the cottages of a couple of hundred inhabitants clustered round an ancient, 
moss-grown church. The vicar of the parish, Mr. Roundhay, was something of 
an archeologist, and as such Holmes had made his acquaintance. He was
a middle-aged man, portly and affable, with a considerable fund of local lore. 
At his invitation we had taken tea at the vicarage and had come to know, also, 
Mr. Mortimer Tregennis, an independent gentleman, who increased the 
clergyman's scanty resources by taking rooms in his large, straggling house. 
The vicar, being a bachelor, was glad to come to such an arrangement, though 
he had little in common with his lodger, who was a thin, dark, spectacled man, 
with a stoop which gave the impression of actual, physical deformity. I 
remember that during our short visit we found the vicar garrulous, but his 
lodger strangely reticent, a sad-faced, introspective man, sitting with 
averted eyes, brooding apparently upon his own affairs.

  These were the two men who entered abruptly into our little sitting-room 
on Tuesday, March the 16th, shortly after our breakfast hour, as we were 
smoking together, preparatory to our daily excursion upon the moors.

  "Mr. Holmes," said the vicar in an agitated voice, "the most extraordinary 
and tragic affair has occurred during the night. It is the most unheard-of 
business. We can only regard it as a special Providence that you should 
chance to be here at the time, for in all England you are the one man we need."

  I glared at the intrusive vicar with no very friendly eyes; but Holmes took 
his pipe from his lips and sat up in his chair like an old hound who hears the 
view-halloa. He waved his hand to the sofa, and our palpitating visitor with 
his agitated companion sat side by side upon it. Mr. Mortimer Tregennis was 
more selfcontained than the clergyman, but the twitching of his thin hands 
and the brightness of his dark eyes showed that they shared a common 
emotion.

  "Shall I speak or you?" he asked of the vicar.

  "Well, as you seem to have made the discovery, whatever it may be, and the 
vicar to have had it second-hand, perhaps you had better do the speaking," 
said Holmes.

  I glanced at the hastily clad clergyman, with the formally dressed lodger 
seated beside him, and was amused at the surprise which Holmes's simple 
deduction had brought to their faces.

  "Perhaps I had best say a few words first," said the vicar, "and then you 
can judge if you will listen to the details from Mr. Tregennis, or whether we 
should not hasten at once to the scene of this mysterious affair. I may 
explain, then, that our friend here spent last evening in the company of his 
two brothers, Owen and George, and of his sister Brenda, at their house of
Tredannick Wartha, which is near the old stone cross upon the moor. He left 
them shortly after ten o'clock, playing cards round the dining-room table, in 
excellent health and spirits. This morning, being an early riser, he walked in 
that direction before breakfast and was overtaken by the carriage of Dr. 
Richards, who explained that he had just been sent for on a most urgent call 
to Tredannick Wartha. Mr. Mortimer Tregennis naturally went with him. 
When he arrived at Tredannick Wartha he found an extraordinary state of 
things. His two brothers and his sister were seated round the table exactly 
as he had left them, the cards still spread in front of them and the candles 
burned down to their sockets. The sister lay back stone-dead in her chair, 
while the two brothers sat on each side of her laughing, shouting, and 
singing, the senses stricken clean out of them. All three of them, the dead 
woman and the two demented men, retained upon their faces an expression 
of the utmost horror -- a convulsion of terror which was dreadful to look 
upon. There was no sign of the presence of anyone in the house, except Mrs. 
Porter, the old cook and housekeeper, who declared that she had slept 
deeply and heard no sound during the night. Nothing had been stolen or 
disarranged, and there is absolutely no explanation of what the horror can 
be which has frightened a woman to death and two strong men out of their 
senses. There is the situation, Mr. Holmes, in a nutshell, and if you can help 
us to clear it up you will have done a great work."

  I had hoped that in some way I could coax my companion back into the 
quiet which had been the object of our journey; but one glance at his intense 
face and contracted eyebrows told me how vain was now the expectation. 
He sat for some little time in silence, absorbed in the strange drama which 
had broken in upon our peace.

  "I will look into this matter," he said at last. "On the face of it, it 
would appear to be a case of a very exceptional nature. Have you been there 
yourself, Mr. Roundhay?"

  "No, Mr. Holmes. Mr. Tregennis brought back the account to the vicarage, 
and I at once hurried over with him to consult you."

  "How far is it to the house where this singular tragedy occurred?"    

  "About a mile inland."

  "Then we shall walk over together. But before we start I must ask you a few 
questions, Mr. Mortimer Tregennis."

  The other had been silent all this time, but I had observed that his more 
controlled excitement was even greater than the obtrusive emotion of the 
clergyman. He sat with a pale, drawn face, his anxious gaze fixed opon Holmes, 
and his thin hands clasped convulsively together. His pale lips quivered as he 
listened to the dreadful experience which had befallen his family, and his 
dark eyes seemed to reflect something of the horror of the scene.

  "Ask what you like, Mr. Holmes," said he eagerly. "It is a bad thing to 
speak of, but I will answer you the truth."

  "Tell me about last night."

  "Well, Mr. Holmes, I supped there, as the vicar has said, and my elder 
brother George proposed a game of whist afterwards. We sat down about nine 
o'clock. It was a quarter-past ten when I moved to go. I left thern all 
round the table, as merry as could be."

  "Who let you out?"

  "Mrs. Porter had gone to bed, so I let myself out. I shut the hall door 
behind me. The window of the room in which they sat was closed, but the blind 
was not drawn down. There was no change in door or window this morning, nor 
any reason to think that any stranger had been to the house. Yet there they 
sat, driven clean mad with terror, and Brenda lying dead of fright, with her 
head hanging over the arm of the chair. I'll never get the sight of that room 
out of my mind so long as I live."

  "The facts, as you state them, are certainly most remarkable," said Holmes. 
"I take it that you have no theory yourself which can in any way account for 
them?"

  "It's devilish, Mr. Holmes, devilish!" cried Mortimer Tregennis. "It is not 
of this world. Something has come into that room which has dashed the light of 
reason from their minds. What human contrivance could do that?"

  "I fear," said Holmes~, "that if the matter is beyond humanity it is 
certainly beyond me. Yet we must exhaust all natural explanations before we 
fall back upon such a theory as this. As to yourself, Mr. Tregenrlis, I take 
it you were divided in some way from your family, since they lived together 
and you had rooms apart?"

  "That is so, Mr. Holmes, though the matter is past and done with. We were a 
family of tin-miners at Redruth, but we sold out our venture to a company, 
and so retired with enough to keep us. I won't deny that there was some 
feeling about the division of the money and it stood between us for a time, 
but it was all forgiven and forgotten, and we were the best of friends 
together."

  "Looking back at the evening which you spent together, does anything 
stand out in your memory as throwing any possible light upon the tragedy? 
Think carefully, Mr. Tregennis, for any clue which can help me."

  "There is nothing at all, sir."

  "Your people were in their usual spirits?"

  "Never better."

  "Were they nervous people? Did they ever show any apprehension of 
coming danger?"

  "Nothing of the kind."

  "You have nothing to add then, which could assist me?"

  Mortimer Tregennis considered earnestly for a moment.

  "There is one thing occurs to me," said he at last. "As we sat at the table 
my back was to the window, and my brother George, he being my partner at 
cards, was facing it. I saw him once look hard over my shoulder, so I turned 
round and looked also. The blind was up and the window shut, but I could 
just make out the bushes on the lawn, and it seemed to me for a moment 
that I saw something moving among them. I couldn't even say if it was man 
or animal, but I just thought there was something there. When I asked him 
what he was looking at, he told me that he had the same feeling. That is all 
that I can say."

  "Did you not investigate?"

  "No; the matter passed as unimportant."

  "You left them, then, without any premonition of evil?"

  "None at all."

  "I am not clear how you came to hear the news so early this morning."

  "I am an early riser and generally take a walk before breakfast. This 
morning I had hardly started when the doctor in his carriage overtook me. 
He told me that old Mrs. Porter had sent a boy down with an urgent 
message. I sprang in beside him and we drove on. When we got there we 
looked into that dreadful room. The candles and the fire must have burned 
out hours before, and they had been sitting there in the dark until dawn 
had broken. The doctor said Brenda must have been dead at least six hours. 
There were no signs of violence. She just lay across the arm of the chair 
with that look on her face. George and Owen were singing snatches of songs 
and gibbering like two great apes. Oh, it was awful to see! I couldn't stand 
it, and the doctor was as white as a sheet. Indeed, he fell into a chair in 
a sort of faint, and we nearly had him on our hands as well."

  "Remarkable -- most remarkable!" said Holmes, rising and taking his hat. "I 
think, perhaps, we had better go down to Tredannick Wartha without 
further delay. I confess that I have seldom known a case which at first sight 
presented a more singular problem."

  Our proceedings of that first morning did little to advance the 
investigation. It was marked, however, at the outset by an incident which 
left the most sinister impression upon my mind. The approach to the spot at 
which the tragedy occurred is down a narrow, winding, country lane. While we 
made our way along it we heard the raffle of a carriage coming towards us and 
stood aside to let it pass. As it drove by us I caught a glimpse through the 
closed window of a horribly contorted, grinning face glaring out at us. Those 
staring eyes and gnashing teeth flashed past us like a dreadful vision.

  "My brothers!" cried Mortimer Tregennis, white to his lips. "They are taking 
them to Helston."

  We looked with horror after the black carriage, lumbering upon its way. 
Then we turned our steps towards this ill-omened house in which they had 
met their strange fate.

  It was a large and bright dwelling, rather a villa than a cottage, with a 
considerable garden which was already, in that Cornish air, well filled with 
spring flowers. Towards this garden the window of the sitting-room fronted, 
and from it, according to Mortimer Tregennis, must have come that thing of 
evil which had by sheer horror in a single instant blasted their minds. 
Holmes walked slowly and thoughtfully among the flower-plots and along 
the path before we entered the porch. So absorbed was he in his thoughts, I 
remember, that he stumbled over the watering-pot, upset its contents, and 
deluged both our feet and the garden path. Inside the house we were met 
by the e1derly Cornish housekeeper, Mrs. Porter, who, with the aid of a 
young girl, looked after the wants of the family. She readily answered all 
Holmes's questions. She had heard nothing in the night. Her employers had 
all been in excellent spirits lately, and she had never known them more 
cheerful and prosperous. She had fainted with horror upon entering the 
room in the morning and seeing that dreadful company round the table. She 
had, when she recovered, thrown open the window to let the morning air in and 
had run down to the lane, whence she sent a farm-lad for the doctor. The lady 
was on her bed upstairs if we cared to see her. It took four strong men to 
get the brothers into the asylum carriage. She would not herself stay in the 
house another day and was starting that very afternoon to rejoin her family 
at St. Ives.

  We ascended the stairs and viewed the body. Miss Brenda Tregennis had 
been a very beautiful girl, though now verging upon middle age. Her dark, 
clear-cut face was handsome, even in death, but there still lingered upon it 
something of that convulsion of horror which had been her last human 
emotion. From her bedroom we descended to the sitting-room, where this 
strange tragedy had actually occurred. The charred ashes of the overnight fire 
lay in the grate. On the table were the four guttered and burned-out candles, 
with the cards scattered over its surface. The chairs had been moved back 
against the walls, but all else was as it had been the night before. Holmes 
paced with light, swift steps about the room; he sat in the various chairs, 
drawing them up and reconstructing their positions. He tested how much of 
the garden was visible; he examined the floor, the ceiling, and the fireplace; 
but never once did I see that sudden brightening of his eyes and tightening of 
his lips which would have told me that he saw some gleam of light in this 
utter darkness.

  "Why a fire?" he asked once. "Had they always a fire in this small room on a 
spring evening?"

  Mortimer Tregennis explained that the night was cold and damp. For that 
reason, after his arrival, the fire was lit. "What are you going to do now, 
Mr. Holmes?" he asked.

  My friend smiled and laid his hand upon my arm. "I think, Watson, that I 
shall resume that course of tobacco-poisoning which you have so often and so 
justly condemned," said he. "With your permission, gentlemen, we will now 
return to our cottage, for I am not aware that any new factor is likely to 
come to our notice here. I will turn the facts over in my mind, Mr. Tregennis,
and should anything occur to me I will certainly communicate with you and 
the vicar. In the meantime I wish you both good-morning."

  It was not until long after we were back in Poldhu Cottage that Holmes broke 
his complete and absorbed silence. He sat coiled in his armchair, his haggard 
and ascetic face hardly visible amid the blue swirl of his tobacco smoke, his 
black brows drawn down, his forehead contracted, his eyes vacant and far 
away. Finally he laid down his pipe and sprang to his feet.

  "It won't do, Watson!" said he with a laugh. "Let us walk along the cliffs 
together and search for flint arrows. We are more likely to find them than 
clues to this problem. To let the brain work without sufficient material is 
like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces. The sea air, sunshine, and 
patience, Watson -- all else will come.

  "Now, let us calmly define our position, Watson," he continued as we skirted 
the cliffs together. "Let us get a firm grip of the very little which we do 
know, so that when fresh facts arise we may be ready to fit them into their 
places. I take it, in the first place, that neither of us is prepared to admit 
diabolical intrusions into the affairs of men. Let us begin by ruling that 
entirely out of our minds. Very good. There remain three persons who have 
been grievously stricken by some conscious or unconscious human agency. 
That is firm ground. Now, when did this occur? Evidently, assuming his 
narrative to be true, it was immediately after Mr. Mortimer Tregennis had 
left the room. That is a very important point. The presumption is that it was 
within a few minutes afterwards. The cards still lay upon the table. It was 
already past their usual hour for bed. Yet they had not changed their position 
or pushed back their chairs. I repeat then, that the occurrence was 
immediately after his departure, and not later than eleven o'clock last night.

  "Our next obvious step is to check, so far as we can, the movements of 
Mortimer Tregennis after he left the room. In this there is no difficulty, and 
they seem to be above suspicion. Knowing my methods as you do, you were, 
of course, conscious of the somewhat clumsy water-pot expedient by which I 
obtained a clearer impress of his foot than might otherwise have been 
possible. The wet, sandy path took it admirably. Last night was also wet, you 
will remember, and it was not difficult -- having obtained a sample print -- 
to pick out his track among others and to follow his movements. He appears to 
have walked away swiftly in the direction of the vicarage.

  "If, then, Mortimer Tregennis disappeared from the scene, and yet some 
outside person affected the cardplayers, how can we reconstruct that person, 
and how was such an impression of horror conveyed? Mrs. Porter may be 
eliminated. She is evidently harmless. Is there any evidence that someone 
crept up to the garden window and in some manner produced so terrific an
effect that he drove those who saw it out of their senses? The only 
suggestion in this direction comes from Mortimer Tregennis himself, who 
says that his brother spoke about some movement in the garden. That is 
certainly remarkable, as the night was rainy, cloudy, and dark. Anyone who 
had the design to alarm these people would be compelled to place his very 
face against the glass before he could be seen. There is a three-foot 
flowerborder outside this window, but no indication of a footmark. It is 
difficult to imagine, then, how an outsider could have made so terrible an 
impression upon the company, nor have we found any possible motive for 
so strange and elaborate an attempt. You perceive our difficulties, Watson?"

  "They are only too clear," I answered with conviction.

  "And yet, with a little more material, we may prove that they are not 
insurmountable," said Holrnes. "I fancy that among your extensive archives, 
Watson, you may find some which were nearly as obscure. Meanwhile, we 
shall put the case aside until more accurate data are available, and devote 
the rest of our morning to the pursuit of neolithic man."

  I may have commented upon my friend's power of mental detachment, but 
never have I wondered at it more than upon that spring morning in 
Cornwall when for two hours he discoursed upon Celts, arrowheads, and 
shards, as lightly as if no sinister mystery were waiting for his solution. It 
was not until we had returned in the afternoon to our cottlge that we found 
a visitor awaiting us, who soon brought our minds back to the matter in 
hand. Neither of us needed to be told who that visitor was. The huge body, 
the craggy and deeply seamed face with the fierce eyes and hawk-like nose, 
the grizzled hair which nearly brushed our cottage ceiling, the beard -- 
golden at the fringes and white near the lips, save for the nicotin stain 
from his perpetual cigar -- all these were as well known in London as in 
Africa, and could only be associated with the tremendous personality of Dr. 
Leon Sterndale, the great lion-hunter and explorer.

  We had heard of his presence in the district and had once or twice caught 
sight of his tall figure upon the moorland paths. He made no advances to us, 
however, nor would we have dreamed of doing so to him, as it was well 
known that it was his love of seclusion which caused him to spend the 
greater part of the intervals between his journeys in a small bungalow 
buried in the lonely wood of Beauchamp Arriance. Here, amid his books 
and his maps, he lived an absolutely lonely life, attending to his own
simple wants and paying little apparent heed to the affairs of his 
neighbours. It was a surprise to me, therefore, to hear him asking Holmes in 
an eager voice whether he had made any advance in his reconstruction of 
this mysterious episode. "The county police are utterly at fault," said he, 
"but perhaps your wider experience has suggested some conceivable 
explanation. My only claim to being taken into your confidence is that 
during my many residences here I have come to know this family of 
Tregennis very well -- indeed, upon my Cornish mother's side I could call 
them cousins -- and their strange fate has naturally been a great shock to me. 
I may tell you that I had got as far as Plymouth upon my way to Africa, but 
the news reached me this morning, and I came straight back again to help 
in the inquiry."

  Holmes raised his eyebrows.

  "Did you lose your boat through it?"

  "I will take the next."

  "Dear me! that is friendship indeed."

  "I tell you they were relatives."

  "Quite so -- cousins of your mother. Was your baggage aboard the ship?"

  "Some of it, but the main part at the hotel."

  "I see. But surely this event could not have found its way into the Plymouth 
morning papers."

  "No, sir; I had a telegram."

  "Might I ask from whom?"

  A shadow passed over the gaunt face of the explorer.

  "You are very inquisitive, Mr. Holmes."

  "It is my business."

  With an effort Dr. Sterndale recovered his ruffled composure.

  "I have no objection to telling you," he said. "It was Mr. Roundhay, the 
vicar, who sent me the telegram which recalled me."

  "Thank you," said Holmes. "I may say in answer to your original question 
that I have not cleared my mind entirely on the subject of this case, but 
that I have every hope of reaching some conclusion. It would be premature 
to say more."

  "Perhaps you would not mind telling me if your suspicions point in any 
particular direction?"

  "No, I can hardly answer that."

  "Then I have wasted my time and need not prolong my visit." The famous 
doctor strode out of our cottage in considerable ill-humour, and within five 
minutes Holmes had followed him. I saw him no more until the evening, when he 
returned with a slow step and haggard face which assured me that he had made 
no great progress with his investigation. He glanced at a telegram which 
awaited him and threw it into the grate.

  "From the Plymouth hotel, Watson," he said. "I learned the name of it 
from the vicar, and I wired to make certain that Dr. Leon Stemdale's 
account was true. It appears that he did indeed spend last night there, and 
that he has actually allowed some of his baggage to go on to Africa, while 
he returned to be present at this investigation. What do you make of that, 
Watson?"

  "He is deeply interested."

  "Deeply interested -- yes. There is a thread here which we have not yet 
grasped and which might lead us through the tangle. Cheer up, Watson, for 
I am very sure that our material has not yet all come to hand. When it 
does we may soon leave our difficulties behind us."

  Little did I think how soon the words of Holmes would be realized, or how 
strange and sinister would be that new development which opened up an 
entirely fresh line of investigation. I was shaving at my window in the 
morning when I heard the rattle of hoofs and, looking up, saw a dog-cart 
coming at a gallop down the road. It pulled up at our door, and our friend, 
the vicar, sprang from it and rushed up our garden path. Holmes was 
already dressed, and we hastened down to meet him.

  Our visitor was so excited that he could hardly articulate, but at last in 
gasps and bursts his tragic story came out of him.

  "We are devil-ridden, Mr. Holmes! My poor parish is devilridden!" he cried. 
"Satan himself is loose in it! We are given over into his hands!" He danced 
about in his agitation, a ludicrous object if it were not for his ashy face 
and startled eyes. Finally he shot out his terrible news.

  "Mr. Mortimer Tregennis died during the night, and with exactly the same 
symptoms as the rest of his family."

  Holmes sprang to his feet, all energy in an instant.

  "Can you fit us both into your dog-cart?"

  "Yes, I can."

  "Then, Watson, we will postpone our breakfast. Mr. Roundhay, we are 
entirely at your disposal. Hurry -- hurry, before things get disarranged. "

  The lodger occupied two rooms at the vicarage, which were in an angle by 
themselves, the one above the other. Below was a large sitting-room; 
above, his bedroom. They looked out upon a croquet lawn which came up to the 
windows. We had arrived before the doctor or the police, so that everything 
was absolutely undisturbed. Let me describe exactly the scene as we saw it 
upon that misty March morning. It has left an impression which can never be 
effaced from my mind.

  The atmosphere of the room was of a horrible and depressing stuffiness. 
The servant who had first entered had thrown up the window, or it would 
have been even more intolerable. This might partly be due to the fact that a 
lamp stood flaring and smoking on the centre table. Beside it sat the dead 
man, leaning back in his chair, his thin beard projecting, his spectacles 
pushed up on to his forehead, and his lean dark face turned towards the 
window and twisted into the same distortion of terror which had marked the 
features of his dead sister. His limbs were convulsed and his fingers 
contorted as though he had died in a very paroxysm of fear. He was fully 
clothed, though there were signs that his dressing had been done in a hurry. 
We had already learned that his bed had been slept in, and that the tragic 
end had come to him in the early morning.

  One realized the red-hot energy which underlay Holmes's phlegmatic exterior 
when one saw the sudden change which came over him from the moment 
that he entered the fatal apartment. In an instant he was tense and alert, his 
eyes shining, his face set, his limbs quivering with eager activity. He was 
out on the lawn, in through the window, round the room, and up into the 
bedroom, for all the world like a dashing foxhound drawing a cover. In the 
bedroom he made a rapid cast around and ended by throwing open the 
window, which appeared to give him some fresh cause for excitement, for he 
leaned out of it with loud ejaculations of interest and delight. Then he 
rushed down the stair, out through the open window, threw himself upon his 
face on the lawn, sprang up and into the room once more, all with the energy 
of the hunter who is at the very heels of his quarry. The lamp, which was an 
ordinaly standard, he examined with minute care, making certain 
measurements upon its bowl. He carefully scrutinized with his lens the tale 
shield which covered the top of the chimney and scraped off some ashes 
which adhered to its upper surface, putting some of them into an envelope, 
which he placed in his pocketbook. Finally, just as the doctor and the 
official police put in an appearance, he beckoned to the vicar and we all 
three went out upon the lawn.

  "I am glad to say that my investigation has not been entirely barren," he 
remarked. "I cannot remain to discuss the matter with the police, but I 
should be exceedingly obliged, Mr. Roundhay, if you would give the inspector 
my compliments and direct his attention to the bedroom window and to the 
sittingroom lamp. Each is suggestive, and together they are almost conclusive. 
If the police would desire further information I shall be happy to see any of 
them at the conage. And now, Watson, I think that, perhaps, we shall be 
better employed elsewhere."

  It may be that the police resented the intrusion of an amateur, or that they 
imagined themselves to be upon some hopeful line of investigation; but it is 
certain that we heard nothing from them for the next two days. During this 
time Holmes spent some of his time smoking and dreaming in the cottage; but 
a greater portion in country walks which he undertook alone, returning after 
many hours without remark as to where he had been. One experiment 
served to show me the line of his investigation. He had bought a lamp which 
was the duplicate of the one which had burned in the room of Mortimer 
Tregennis on the morning of the tragedy. This he filled with the same oil as 
that used at the vicarage, and he carefully timed the period which it would 
take to be exhausted. Another experiment which he made was of a more 
unpleasant nature, and one which I am not likely ever to forget.

  "You will remember, Watson," he remarked one afternoon, "that there is a 
single common point of resemblance in the varying reports which have 
reached us. This concerns the effect of the atmosphere of the room in each 
case upon those who had first entered it. You will recollect that Mortimer 
Tregennis, in describing the episode of his last visit to his brother's house, 
remarked that the doctor on entering the room fell into a chair? You had 
forgotten? Well, I can answer for it that it was so. Now, you will remember 
also that Mrs. Porter, the housekeeper, told us that she herself fainted upon 
entering the room and had afterwards opened the window. In the second 
case -- that of Mortimer Tregennis himself -- you cannot have forgotten the 
horrible stuffiness of the room when we arrived. though the servant had 
thrown open the window. That servant, I found upon inquiry, was so ill that 
she had gone to her bed. You will admit, Watson, that these facts are very 
suggestive. In each case there is evidence of a poisonous atmosphere. In each 
case, also, there is combustion going on in the room -- in the one case a 
fire, in the other a lamp. The fire was needed, but the lamp was lit -- as a 
comparison of the oil consumed will show -- long after it was broad daylight. 
Why? Surely because there is some connection between three things -- the 
burning, the stuffy atmosphere, and, finally, the madness or death of those 
unfortunate people. That is clear, is it not?"

  "It would appear so."

  "At least we may accept it as a working hypothesis. We will suppose, then, 
that something was burned in each case which produced an atmosphere 
causing strange toxic effects. Very good. In the first instance -- that of the 
Tregennis family -- this substance was placed in the fire. Now the window was 
shut, but the fire would naturally carry fumes to some extent up the chimney. 
Hence one would expect the effects of the poison to be less than in the second 
case, where there was less escape for the vapour. The result seems to indicate 
that it was so, since in the first case only the woman, who had presumably the 
more sensitive organism, was killed, the others exhibiting that temporary or 
permanent lunacy which is evidently the first effect of the drug. In the 
second case the result was complete. The facts, therefore, seem to bear out 
the theory of a poison which worked by combustion.

  "With this train of reasoning in my head I naturally looked about in 
Mortimer Tregennis's room to find some remains of this substance. The obvious 
place to look was the talc shield or smoke-guard of the lamp. There, sure 
enough, I perceived a number of flaky ashes, and round the edges a fringe of 
brownish powder, which had not yet been consumed. Half of this I took, as you 
saw, and I placed it in an envelope."

  "Why half, Holmes?"

  "It is not for me, my dear Watson, to stand in the way of the official 
police force. I leave them all the evidence which I found. The poison still 
remained upon the talc had they the wit to find it. Now, Watson, we will 
light our lamp; we will, however, take the precaution to open our window to 
avoid the premature decease of two deserving members of society, and you will 
seat yourself near that open window in an armchair unless, like a sensible 
man, you determine to have nothing to do with the affair. Oh, you will see it 
out, will you? I thought I knew my Watson. This chair I will place opposite 
yours, so that we may be the same distance from the poison and face to face. 
The door we will leave ajar. Each is now in a position to watch the other
and to bring the experiment to an end should the symptoms seem alarming. 
Is that all clear? Well, then, I take our powder -- or what remains of it --
from the envelope, and I lay it above the burning lamp. So! Now, Watson, let 
us sit down and await developments."

  They were not long in coming. I had hardlv settled in my chair before I was 
conscious of a thick, musky odour, subtle and nauseous. At the very first 
whiff of it my brain and my imagination were beyond all control. A thick, black
cloud swirled before my eyes, and my mind told me that in this cloud, unseen
as yet,  but about to spring out upon my appalled senses, lurked all that
was vaguely horrible, all that was monstrous and inconceivably wicked in the 
universe. Vague shapes swirled and swam amid the dark cloud-bank, each a 
menace and a warning of something coming, the advent of some unspeakable 
dweller upon the threshold, whose very shadow would blast my soul. A freezing 
horror took possession of me. I felt that my hair was rising, that my eyes 
were protruding, that my mouth wag opened, and my tongue like leather. The 
turmoil within my brain was such that something must surely snap. I tried to 
scream and was vaguely aware of some hoarse croak which was my own voice, but 
distant and detached from myself. At the same moment, in some effort of 
escape, I broke through that cloud of despair and had a glimpse of Holmes's 
face, white, rigid, and drawn with horror --  the very look which I had seen 
upon the features of the dead. It was that vision which gave me an instant of 
sanity and of strength. I dashed from my chair, threw my arms round Holmes, 
and together we lurched through the door, and an instant afterwards had 
thrown ourselves down upon the grass plot and were lying side by side, 
conscious only of the glorious sunshine which was bursting its way through 
the hellish cloud of terror which had girt us in. Slowly it rose from our 
souls like the mists from a landscape until peace and reason had returned, 
and we were sitting upon the grass, wiping our clammy foreheads, and looking 
with apprehension at each other to mark the last traces of that terrific 
experience which we had undergone. 

  "Upon my word, Watson!" said Holmes at last with an unsteady voice, "I owe 
you both my thanks and an apology. It was an unjustifiable experiment even 
for one's self, and doubly so for a friend. I am really very sorry."

  "You know," I answered with some emotion, for I had never seen so much of 
Holmes's heart before, "that it is my greatest joy and privilege to help you."

  He relapsed at once into the half-humorous, half-cynical vein which was 
his habitual attitude to those about him. "It would be superfluous to drive 
us mad, my dear Watson," said he. "A candid observer would celtainly 
declare that we were so already before we embarked upon so wild an 
experiment. I confess that I never imagined that the effect could be so 
sudden and so severe." He dashed into the cottage, and, reappearing with 
the burning lamp held at full arm's length, he threw it among a bank of 
brambles. "We must give the room a little time to clear. I take it, Watson, 
that you have no longer a shadow of a doubt as to how these tragedies were 
produced?"

  "None whatever."

  "But the cause remains as obscure as before. Come into the arbour here and 
let us discuss it together. That villainous stuff seems still to linger round 
my throat. I think we must admit that all the evidence points to this man, 
Mortimer Tregennis, having been the criminal in the first tragedy, though he 
was the victim in the second one. We must remember, in the first place, that 
there is some story of a family quarrel, followed by a reconciliation. How 
bitter that quarrel may have been, or how hollow the reconciliation we 
cannot tell. When I think of Mortimer Tregennis, with the foxy face and the
small shrewd, beady eyes behind the spectacles, he is not a man whom I 
should judge to be of a particularly forgiving disposition. Well, in the next 
place, you will remember that this idea of someone moving in the garden, 
which took our attention for a moment from the real cause of the tragedy, 
emanated from him. He had a motive in misleading us. Finally, if he did not 
throw this substance into the fire at the moment of leaving the room, who 
did do so? The affair happened immediately after his departure. Had anyone 
else come in, the family would certainly have risen from the table. Besides, 
in peaceful Cornwall, visitors do not arrive after ten o'clock at night. We 
may take it, then, that all the evidence points to Mortimer Tregennis as the 
culprit."

  "Then his own death was suicide!"

  "Well, Watson, it is on the face of it a not impossible supposition. The man 
who had the guilt upon his soul of having brought such a fate upon his 
own family might well be driven by remorse to inflict it upon himself.
There are, however, some cogent reasons against it. Forturlately, there is one 
man in England who knows all about it, and I have made arrangements by which 
we shall hear the facts this afternoon from his own lips. Ah! he is a little 
before his time. Perhaps you would kindly step this way, Dr. Leon Sterndale. 
We have been conducting a chemical experiment indoors which has left our 
little room hardly fit for the reception of so distinguished a visitor."

  I had heard the click of the garden gate, and now the majestic figure of the 
great African explorer appeared upon the path. He turned in some surprise 
towards the rustic arbour in which we sat.

  "You sent for me, Mr. Holmes. I had your note about an hour ago, and I have 
come, though I really do not know why I should obey your summons."

  "Perhaps we can clear the point up before we separate," said Holmes. 
"Meanwhile, I am much obliged to you for your courteous acquiescence. You 
will excuse this informal reception in the open air, but my friend Watson and 
I have nearly furnished an additional chapter to what the papers call the 
Cornish Horror, and we prefer a clear atmosphere for the present. Perhaps, 
since the matters which we have to discuss will affect you personally in a 
very intimate fashion, it is as well that we should talk where there can be no 
eavesdropping."

  The explorer took his cigar from his lips and gazed sternly at my companlon.

  "I am at a loss to know, sir," he said, "what you can have to speak about 
which affects me personally in a very intimate fashion."

  "The killing of Mortimer Tregennis," said Holmes.

  For a moment I wished that I were armed. Stemdale's fierce face turned to a 
dusky red, his eyes glared, and the knotted, passionate veins started out in 
his forehead, while he sprang forward with clenched hands towards my 
companion. Then he stopped, and with a violent effort he resumed a cold, 
rigid calmness, which was, perhaps, more suggestive of danger than his hot-
headed outburst.

  "I have lived so long among savages and beyond the law," said he, "that I 
have got into the way of being a law to myself. You would do well, Mr. 
Holmes, not to forget it, for I have no desire to do you an injury."

  "Nor have I any desire to do you an injury, Dr. Sterndale. Surely the 
clearest proof of it is that, knowing what I know, I have sent for you and 
not for the police."

  Sterndale sat down with a gasp, overawed for, perhaps, the first time in 
his adventurous life. There was a calm assurance of power in Holmes's 
manner which could not be withstood. Our visitor stammered for a 
moment, his great hands opening and shutting in his agitation.

  "What do you mean?" he asked at last. "If this is bluff upon your part, Mr. 
Holmes, you have chosen a bad man for your experiment. Let us have no 
more beating about the bush. What do you mean?"

  "I will tell you," said Holmes, "and the reason why I tell you is that I 
hope frankness may beget frankness. What my next step may be will depend 
entirely upon the nature of your own defence."

  "My defence?"

  "Yes, sir."

  "My defence against what?"

  "Against the charge of killing Mortimer Tregennis."

  Sterndale mopped his forehead with his handkerchief. "Upon my word, you 
are getting on," said he. "Do all your successes depend upon this prodigious 
power of bluff?"

  "The bluff," said Holmes sternly, "is upon your side, Dr. Leon Sterndale, 
and not upon mine. As a proof I will tell you some of the facts upon which my 
conclusions are based. Of your return from Plymouth, allowing much of 
your property to go on to Africa, I will say nothing save that it first 
informed me that you were one of the factors which had to be taken into 
account in reconstructing this drama --"

  "I came back --"

  "I have heard your reasons and regard them as unconvincing and 
inadequate. We will pass that. You came down here to ask me whom I 
suspected. I refused to answer you. You then went to the vicarage, waited 
outside it for some time, and finally returned to your cottage."

  "How do you know that?"

  "I followed you."

  "I saw no one."

  "That is what you may expect to see when I follow you. You spent a 
restless night at your cottage, and you formed certain plans, which in the 
early morning you proceeded to put into execution. Leaving your door just 
as day was breaking, you filled your pocket with some reddish gravel that 
was lying heaped beside your gate."

  Sterndale gave a violent start and looked at Holmes in amazement.

  "You then walked swiftly for the mile which separated you from the 
vicarage. You were wearing, I may remark, the same pair of ribbed tennis 
shoes which are at the present moment upon your feet. At the vicarage
you passed through the orchard and the side hedge, coming out under the 
window of the lodger Tregennis. It was now daylight, but the household was 
not yet stirring. You drew some of the gravel from your pocket, and you 
threw it up at the window above you."

  Sterndale sprang to his feet.

  "I believe that you are the devil himself!" he cried.

  Holmes smiled at the compliment. "It took two, or possibly three, handfuls 
before the lodger came to the window. You beckoned him to come down. He 
dressed hurriedly and descended to his sitting-room. You entered by the 
window. There was an interview -- a short one -- during which you walked up 
and down the room. Then you passed out and closed the window, standing 
on the lawn outside smoking a cigar and watching what occurred. Finally, 
after the death of Tregennis, you withdrew as you had come. Now, Dr. 
Sterndale, how do you justify such conduct, and what were the motives for 
your actions? If you prevaricate or trifle with me, I give you my assurance 
that the matter will pass out ol my hands forever."

  Our visitor's face had turned ashen gray as he listened to the words of his 
accuser. Now he sat for some time in thought with his face sunk in his 
hands. Then with a sudden impulsive gesture he plucked a photograph 
from his breast-pocket and threw it on the rustic table before us.

  "That is why I have done it," said he.

  It showed the bust and face of a very beautiful woman. Holmes stooped 
over it.

  "Brenda Tregennis," said he.

  "Yes, Brenda Tregennis," repeated our visitor. "For years I have loved her. 
For years she has loved me. There is the secret of that Cornish seclusion 
which people have marvelled at. It has brought me close to the one thing 
on earth that was dear to me. I could not marry her, for I have a wife who 
has left me for years and yet whom, by the deplorable laws of England, I 
could not divorce. For years Brenda waited. For years I waited. And this is 
what we have waited for." A terrible sob shook his great frame, and he 
clutched his throat under his brindled beard. Then with an effort he 
mastered himself and spoke on:

  "The vicar knew. He was in our confidence. He would tell you that she was 
an angel upon earth. That was why he telegraphed to me and I returned. 
What was my baggage or Africa to me when I learned that such a fate had 
come upon my darling? There you have the missing clue to my action, Mr. 
Holmes."

  "Proceed," said my friend.

  Dr. Sterndale drew from his pocket a paper packet and laid it upon the 
table. On the outside was written "Radix pedis diaboli" with a red poison 
label beneath it. He pushed it towards me. "I understand that you are a 
doctor, sir. Have you ever heard of this preparation?"

  "Devil's-foot root! No, I have never heard of it."

  "It is no reflection upon your professional knowledge," said he, "for I 
believe that, save for one sample in a laboratory at Buda, there is no other 
specimen in Europe. It has not yet found its way either into the pharmacopceia
or into the literature of toxicology. The root is shaped like a foot, half 
human, half goatlike; hence the fanciful name given by a botanical missionary.
It is used as an ordeal poison by the medicine-men in certain districts of 
West Africa and is kept as a secret among them. This particular specimen I 
obtained under very extraordinary circumstances in the Ubangi country." He 
opened the paper as he spoke and disclosed a heap of reddish-brown, snuff-like 
powder.

  "Well, sir?" asked Holmes sternly.

  "I am about to tell you, Mr. Holmes, all that actually occurred, for you 
already know so much that it is clearly to my interest that you should know 
all. I have already explained the relationship in which I stood to the 
Tregennis family. For the sake of the sister I was friendly with the brothers.
There was a family quarrel about money which estranged this man Mortimer, but 
it was supposed to be made up, and I afterwards met him as I did the others. 
He was a sly, subtle, scheming man, and several things arose which gave me a 
suspicion of him, but I had no cause for any positive quarrel.

  "One day, only a couple of weeks ago, he came down to my cottage and I 
showed him some of my African curiosities. Among other things I exhibited 
this powder, and I told him of its strange properties, how it stimulates those 
brain centres which control the emotion of fear, and how either madness or 
death is the fate of the unhappy native who is subjected to the ordeal by the 
priest of his tribe. I told him also how powerless European science would be 
to detect it. How hi took it I cannot say, for I never left the room, but 
there is no doubt that it was then, while I was opening cabinets and stooping 
to boxes, that he managed to abstract some of the devil's-foot root. I well 
remember how he plied me with questions as to the amount and the time that 
was needed for its effect, but I little dreamed that he could have a personal 
reason for asking. 

  "I thought no more of the matter until the vicar's telegram reached me at 
Plymouth. This villain had thought that I would be at sea before the news 
could reach me, and that I should be lost for years in Africa. But I returned 
at once. Of course, I could not listen to the details without feeling assured 
that my poison had been used. I came round to see you on the chance tbat some 
other explanation had suggesteid itself to you. But there could be none. I was 
convinced that Mortimer Tregennis was the murderer; that for the sake of 
money, and with the idea, perhaps, that if the other members of his family 
were all insane he would be the sole guardian of their joint property, he had 
used the devil's-foot powder upon them, driven two of them out of their 
senses, and killed his sister Brenda, the one human being whom I have ever 
loved or who has ever loved me. There was his crime; what was to be his 
punishment?

  "Should I appeal to the law? Where were my proofs? I knew that the facts 
were true, but could I help to make a jury of countrymen believe so fantastic 
a story? I might or I might not. But I could not afford to fail. My soul 
cried out for revenge. I have said to you once before, Mr. Holmes, that I 
have spent much of my life outside the law, and that I have come at last to 
be a law to myself. So it was now. I determined that the fate which he had 
given to others should be shared by himself. Either that or I would do 
justice upon him with my own hand. In all England there can be no man who 
sets less value upon his own life than I do at the present moment.

  "Now I have told you all. You have yourself supplied the rest. I did, as 
you say, after a restless night, set off early from my cottage. I foresaw the 
difficulty of arousing him, so I gathered some gravel from the pile which you 
have mentioned, and I used it to throw up to his window. He came down and 
admitted me through the window of the sitting-room. I laid his offence before 
him. I told him that I had come both as judge and executioner. The wretch sank 
into a chair, paralyzed at the sight of my revolver. I lit the lamp, put the 
powder above it, and stood outside the window, ready to carry out my 
threat to shoot him should he try to leave the room. In five minutes he died. 
My God! how he died! But my heart was flint, for he endured nothing which 
my innocent darling had not felt before him. There is my story, Mr. Holmes. 
Perhaps, if you loved a woman, you would have done as much yourself. At 
any rate, I am in your hands. You can take what steps you like. As I have 
already said, there is no man living who can fear death less than I do. "

  Holmes sat for some little time in silence.

  "What were your plans?" he asked at last.

  "I had intended to bury myself in central Africa. My work there is but 
half finished."

  "Go and do the other half," said Holmes. "I, at least, am not prepared to 
prevent you."

  Dr. Sterndale raised his giant figure, bowed gravely, and waliked from the 
arbour. Holmes lit his pipe and handed me his pouch.

  "Some fumes which are not poisonous would be a welcome change," said he. 
"I think you must agree, Watson, that it is not a case in which we are called 
upon to interfere. Our investigation has been independent, and our action 
shall be so also. You would not denounce the man?"

  "Certainly not," I answered.

  "I have never loved, Watson, but if I did and if the woman I loved had met 
such an end, I might act even as our lawless lion-hunter has done. Who 
knows? Well, Watson, I will not offend your intelligence by explaining what 
is obvious. The gravel upon the window-sill was, of course, the starting-
point of my research. It was unlike anything in the vicarage garden. Only 
when my attention had been drawn to Dr. Sterndale and his cottage did I 
find its counterpart. The lamp shining in broad daylight and the remains of 
powder upon the shield were successive links in a fairly obvious chain. And 
now, my dear Watson, I think we may dismiss the matter from our mind 
and go back with a clear conscience to the study of those Chaldean roots 
which are surely to be traced in the Cornish branch of the great Celtic 
speech."

                The Adventure of the Red Circle

  "Well, Mrs. Warren, I cannot see that you have any particular
cause for uneasiness, nor do I understand why I, whose time is
of some value, should interfere in the matter. I really have other
things to engage me." So spoke Sherlock Holmes and turned
back to the great scrapbook in which he was arranging and
indexing some of his recent material.

  But the landlady had the pertinacity and also the cunning of
her sex. She held her ground firmly.

  "You arranged an affair for a lodger of mine last year," she
said -- "Mr. Fairdale Hobbs."

  "Ah, yes -- a simple matter."

  "But he would never cease talking of it -- your kindness, sir,
and the way in which you brought light into the darkness. I
remembered his words when I was in doubt and darkness myself.
I know you could if you only would."

  Holmes was accessible upon the side of flattery, and also, to
do him justice, upon the side of kindliness. The two forces made
him lay down his gum-brush with a sigh of resignation and push
back his chair.

  "Well, well, Mrs. Warren, let us hear about it, then. You
don't object to tobacco, I take it? Thank you, Watson -- the
matches! You are uneasy, as I understand, because your new
lodger remains in his rooms and you cannot see him. Why, bless
you, Mrs. Warren, if I were your lodger you often would not see
me for weeks on end."

  "No doubt, sir; but this is different. It frightens me, Mr.
Holmes. I can't sleep for fright. To hear his quick step moving
here and moving there from early morning to late at night, and
yet never to catch so much as a glimpse of him -- it's more than I
can stand. My husband is as nervous over it as I am, but he is
out at his work all day, while I get no rest from it. What is he
hiding for? What has he done? Except for the girl, I am all alone
in the house with him, and it's more than my nerves can stand."

  Holmes leaned forward and laid his long, thin fingers upon the
woman's shoulder. He had an almost hypnotic power of soothing
when he wished. The scared look faded from her eyes, and her
agitated features smoothed into their usual commonplace. She sat
down in the chair which he had indicated

  "If I take it up I must understand every detail," said he.
"Take time to consider. The smallest point may be the most
essential. You say that the man came ten days ago and paid you
for a fortnight's board and lodging?"

  "He asked my terms, sir. I said fifty shillings a week. There
is a small sitting-room and bedroom, and all complete, at the top
of the house."

  "Well?"

  "He said, 'I'll pay you five pounds a week if I can have it on
my own terms.' I'm a poor woman, sir, and Mr. Warren earns
little, and the money meant much to me. He took out a ten-
pound note, and he held it out to me then and there. 'You can
have the same every fortnight for a long time to come if you
keep the terms,' he said. 'If not, I'll have no more to do with
you.' "

  "What were the terms?"

  "Well, sir, they were that he was to have a key of the house.
That was all right. Lodgers often have them. Also, that he was to
be left entirely to himself and never, upon any excuse, to be
disturbed."

  "Nothing wonderful in that, surely?"

  "Not in reason, sir. But this is out of all reason. He has been
there for ten days, and neither Mr. Warren, nor I, nor the girl
has once set eyes upon him. We can hear that quick step of his
pacing up and down, up and down, night, morning, and noon; but
except on that first night he has never once gone out of the
house."

  "Oh, he went out the first night, did he?"

  "Yes, sir, and returned very late -- after we were all in bed. He
told me after he had taken the rooms that he would do so and
asked me not to bar the door. I heard him come up the stair after
midnight."

  "But his meals?"

  "It was his particular direction that we should always, when
he rang, leave his meal upon a chair, outside his door. Then he
rings again when he has finished, and we take it down from the
same chair. If he wants anything else he prints it on a slip of
paper and leaves it."

  "Prints it?"

  "Yes, sir; prints it in pencil. Just the word, nothing more.
Here's one I brought to show you -- SOAP. Here's another -- MATCH.
This is one he left the first morning -- DAILY GAZETTE. I leave that
paper with his breakfast every morning."

  "Dear me, Watson," said Holmes, staring with great curiosity
at the slips of foolscap which the landlady had handed to him,
"this is certainly a little unusual. Seclusion I can understand; but
why print? Printing is a clumsy process. Why not write? What
would it suggest, Watson?"

  "That he desired to conceal his handwriting."

  "But why? What can it matter to him that his landlady should
have a word of his writing? Still, it may be as you say. Then,
again, why such laconic messages?"

  "I cannot imagine."

  "It opens a pleasing field for intelligent speculation. The
words are written with a broad-pointed, violet-tinted pencil of a
not unusual pattern. You will observe that the paper is torn away
at the side here after the printing was done, so that the s of 'SOAP'
is partly gone. Suggestive, Watson, is it not?"

  "Of caution?"

  "Exactly. There was evidently some mark, some thumbprint,
something which might give a clue to the person's identity.
Now, Mrs. Warren, you say that the man was of middle size,
dark, and bearded. What age would he be?"

  "Youngish, sir -- not over thirty."

  "Well, can you give me no further indications?"

  "He spoke good English, sir, and yet I thought he was a
foreigner by his accent."

  "And he was well dressed?"

  "Very smartly dressed, sir -- quite the gentleman. Dark clothes --
nothing you would note."

  "He gave no name?"

  "No, sir."

  "And has had no letters or callers?"

  "None."

  "But surely you or the girl enter his room of a morning?"

  "No, sir; he looks after himself entirely."

  "Dear me! that is certainly remarkable. What about his
luggage?"

  "He had one big brown bag with him -- nothing else."

  "Well, we don't seem to have much material to help us. Do
you say nothing has come out of that room -- absolutely nothing?"

  The landlady drew an envelope from her bag; from it she
shook out two burnt matches and a cigarette-end upon the table.

  "They were on his tray this morning. I brought them because
I had heard that you can read great things out of small ones."

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders.

  "There is nothing here," said he. "The matches have, of
course, been used to light cigarettes. That is obvious from the
shortness of the but end. Half the match is consumed in
lighting a pipe or cigar. But, dear me! this cigarette stub is
certainly remarkable. The gentleman was bearded and moustached,
you say?"

  "Yes, sir."

  "I don't understand that. I should say that only a clean-
shaven man could have smoked this. Why, Watson, even your
modest moustache would have been singed."

  "A holder?" I suggested.

  "No, no; the end is matted. I suppose there could not be two
people in your rooms, Mrs. Warren?"

  "No, sir. He eats so little that I often wonder it can keep life
in one."

  "Well, I think we must wait for a little more material. After
all, you have nothing to complain of. You have received your
rent, and he is not a troublesome lodger, though he is certainly
an unusual one. He pays you well, and if he chooses to lie
concealed it is no direct business of yours. We have no excuse
for an intrusion upon his privacy until we have some reason to
think that there is a guilty reason for it. I've taken up the matter,
and I won't lose sight of it. Report to me if anything fresh
occurs, and rely upon my assistance if it should be needed.

  "There are certainly some points of interest in this case,
Watson," he remarked when the landlady had left us. "It may,
of course, be trivial -- individual eccentricity; or it may be very
much deeper than appears on the surface. The first thing that
strikes one is the obvious possibility that the person now in the
rooms may be entirely different from the one who engaged
them."

  "Why should you think so?"

  "Well, apart from this cigarette-end, was it not suggestive that
the only time the lodger went out was immediately after his
taking the rooms? He came back -- or someone came back -- when
all witnesses were out of the way. We have no proof that the
person who came back was the person who went out. Then,
again, the man who took the rooms spoke English well. This
other, however, prints 'match' when it should have been 'matches.'
I can imagine that the word was taken out of a dictionary, which
would give the noun but not the plural. The laconic style may be
to conceal the absence of knowledge of English. Yes, Watson,
there are good reasons to suspect that there has been a substitu-
tion of lodgers."

  "But for what possible end?"

  "Ah! there lies our problem. There is one rather obvious line
of investigation." He took down the great book in which, day by
day, he filed the agony columns of the various London journals.
"Dear me!" said he, turning over the pages, "what a chorus of
groans, cries, and bleatings! What a rag-bag of singular happen-
ings! But surely the most valuable hunting-ground that ever was
given to a student of the unusual! This person is alone and
cannot be approached by letter without a breach of that absolute
secrecy which is desired. How is any news or any message to
reach him from without? Obviously by advertisement through a
newspaper. There seems no other way, and fortunately we need
concern ourselves with the one paper only. Here are the Daily
Gazette extracts of the last fortnight. 'Lady with a black boa at
Prince's Skating Club' -- that we may pass. 'Surely Jimmy will
not break his mother's heart' -- that appears to be irrelevant. 'If
the lady who fainted in the Brixton bus' -- she does not interest
me. 'Every day my heart longs --' Bleat, Watson -- unmitigated
bleat! Ah, this is a little more possible. Listen to this: 'Be
patient. Will find some sure means of communication. Mean-
while, this column. G.' That is two days after Mrs. Warren's
lodger arrived. It sounds plausible, does it not? The mysterious
one could understand English, even if he could not print it. Let
us see if we can pick up the trace again. Yes, here we are -- three
days later. 'Am making successful arrangements. Patience and
prudence. The clouds will pass. G.' Nothing for a week after
that. Then comes something much more definite: 'The path is
clearing. If I find chance signal message remember code agreed --
one A, two B, and so on. You will hear soon. G.' That was in
yesterday's paper, and there is nothing in to-day's. It's all very
appropriate to Mrs. Warren's lodger. If we wait a little, Watson,
I don't doubt that the affair will grow more intelligible."

  So it proved; for in the morning I found my friend standing on
the hearthrug with his back to the fire and a smile of complete
satisfaction upon his face.

  "How's this, Watson?" he cried, picking up the paper from
the table. " 'High red house with white stone facings. Third
floor. Second window left. After dusk. G.' That is definite
enough. I think after breakfast we must make a little reconnais-
sance of Mrs. Warren's neighbourhood. Ah, Mrs. Warren! what
news do you bring us this morning?"

  Our client had suddenly burst into the room with an explosive
energy which told of some new and momentous development.

  "It's a police matter, Mr. Holmes!" she cried. "I'll have no
more of it! He shall pack out of there with his baggage. I would
have gone straight up and told him so, only I thought it was but
fair to you to take your opinion first. But I'm at the end of my
patience, and when it comes to knocking my old man about "

  "Knocking Mr. Warren about?"

  "Using him roughly, anyway."

  "But who used him roughly?"

  "Ah! that's what we want to know! It was this morning, sir.
Mr. Warren is a timekeeper at Morton and Waylight's, in
Tottenham Court Road. He has to be out of the house before
seven. Well, this morning he had not gone ten paces down the
road when two men came up behind him, threw a coat over his
head, and bundled him into a cab that was beside the curb. They
drove him an hour, and then opened the door and shot him out.
He lay in the roadway so shaken in his wits that he never saw
what became of the cab. When he picked himself up he found he
was on Hampstead Heath; so he took a bus home, and there he
lies now on the sofa, while I came straight round to tell you what
had happened."

  "Most interesting," said Holmes. "Did he observe the ap-
pearance of these men -- did he hear them talk?"

  "No; he is clean dazed. He just knows that he was lifted up as
if by magic and dropped as if by magic. Two at least were in it,
and maybe three."

  "And you connect this attack with your lodger?"

  "Well, we've lived there fifteen years and no such happenings
ever came before. I've had enough of him. Money's not every-
thing. I'll have him out of my house before the day is done."

  "Wait a bit, Mrs. Warren. Do nothing rash. I begin to think
that this affair may be very much more important than appeared
at first sight. It is clear now that some danger is threatening your
lodger. It is equally clear that his enemies, lying in wait for him
near your door, mistook your husband for him in the foggy
morning light. On discovering their mistake they released him.
What they would have done had it not been a mistake, we can
only conjecture."

  "Well, what am I to do, Mr. Holmes?"

  "I have a great fancy to see this lodger of yours, Mrs.
Warren."

  "I don't see how that is to be managed, unless you break in
the door. I always hear him unlock it as I go down the stair after
I leave the tray."

  "He has to take the tray in. Surely we could conceal ourselves
and see him do it."

  The landlady thought for a moment.

  "Well, sir, there's the box-room opposite. I could arrange a
looking-glass, maybe, and if you were behind the door --"

  "Excellent!" said Holmes. "When does he lunch?"

  "About one, sir."

  "Then Dr. Watson and I will come round in time. For the
present, Mrs. Warren, good-bye."

  At half-past twelve we found ourselves upon the steps of Mrs.
Warren's house -- a high, thin, yellow-brick edifice in Great
Orme Street, a narrow thoroughfare at the northeast side of the
British Museum. Standing as it does near the corner of the street
it commands a view down Howe Street, with its more preten-
tious houses. Holmes pointed with a chuckle to one of these, a
row of residential flats, which projected so that they could not
fail to catch the eye.

  "See, Watson!" said he. " 'High red house with stone facings.'
There is the signal station all right. We know the place, and we
know the code; so surely our task should be simple. There's a 'to
let' card in that window. It is evidently an empty flat to which
the confederate has access. Well, Mrs. Warren, what now?"

  "I have it all ready for you. If you will both come up and
leave your boots below on the landing, I'll put you there now."

  It was an excellent hiding-place which she had arranged. The
mirror was so placed that, seated in the dark, we could very
plainly see the door opposite. We had hardly settled down in it,
and Mrs. Warren left us, when a distant tinkle announced that
our mysterious neighbour had rung. Presently the landlady ap-
peared with the tray, laid it down upon a chair beside the closed
door, and then, treading heavily, departed. Crouching together in
the angle of the door, we kept our eyes fixed upon the mirror.
Suddenly, as the landlady's footsteps died away, there was the
creak of a turning key, the handle revolved, and two thin hands
darted out and lifted the tray from the chair. An instant later it
was hurriedly replaced, and I caught a glimpse of a dark, beauti-
ful, horrified face glaring at the narrow opening of the box-
room. Then the door crashed to, the key turned once more, and
all was silence. Holmes twitched my sleeve, and together we
stole down the stair.

  "I will call again in the evening," said he to the expectant
landlady. "I think, Watson, we can discuss this business better
in our own quarters."

  "My surmise, as you saw, proved to be correct," said he,
speaking from the depths of his easy-chair. "There has been a
substitution of lodgers. What I did not foresee is that we should
find a woman, and no ordinary woman, Watson."

  "She saw us."

  "Well, she saw something to alarm her. That is certain. The
general sequence of events is pretty clear, is it not? A couple
seek refuge in London from a very terrible and instant danger.
The measure of that danger is the rigour of their precautions. The
man, who has some work which he must do, desires to leave the
woman in absolute safety while he does it. It is not an easy
problem, but he solved it in an original fashion, and so effec-
tively that her presence was not even known to the landlady who
supplies her with food. The printed messages, as is now evident,
were to prevent her sex being discovered by her writing. The
man cannot come near the woman, or he will guide their enemies
to her. Since he cannot communicate with her direct, he has
recourse to the agony column of a paper. So far all is clear."

  "But what is at the root of it?"

  "Ah, yes, Watson -- severely practical, as usual! What is at
the root of it all? Mrs. Warren's whimsical problem enlarges
somewhat and assumes a more sinister aspect as we proceed.
This much we can say: that it is no ordinary love escapade. You
saw the woman's face at the sign of danger. We have heard, too,
of the attack upon the landlord, which was undoubtedly meant
for the lodger. These alarms, and the desperate need for secrecy,
argue that the matter is one of life or death. The attack upon Mr.
Warren further shows that the enemy, whoever they are, are
themselves not aware of the substitution of the female lodger for
the male. It is very curious and complex, Watson."

  "Why should you go further in it? What have you to gain
from it?"

  "What, indeed? It is art for art's sake, Watson. I suppose
when you doctored you found yourself studying cases without
though{ of a fee?"

  "For my education, Holmes."

  "Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with
the greatest for the last. This is an instructive case. There is
neither money nor credit in it, and yet one would wish to tidy it
up. When dusk comes we should find ourselves one stage ad-
vanced in our investigation."

  When we returned to Mrs. Warren's rooms, the gloom of a
London winter evening had thickened into one gray curtain, a
dead monotone of colour, broken only by the sharp yellow
squares of the windows and the blurred haloes of the gas-lamps.
As we peered from the darkened sitting-room of the lodging-
house, one more dim light glimmered high up through the
obscurity.

  "Someone is moving in that room," said Holmes in a whis-
per, his gaunt and eager face thrust forward to the window-pane.
"Yes, I can see his shadow. There he is again! He has a candle
in his hand. Now he is peering across. He wants to be sure that
she is on the lookout. Now he begins to flash. Take the message
also, Watson, that we may check each other. A single flash -- 
that is A, surely. Now, then. How many did you make it?
Twenty. So did I. That should mean T. AT -- that's intelligible
enough! Another T. Surely this is the beginning of a second
word. Now, then -- TENTA. Dead stop. That can't be all, Watson?
ATTENTA gives no sense. Nor is it any better as three words AT,
TEN, TA, unless T. A. are a person's initials. There it goes again!
What's that? ATTE why, it is the same message over again.
Curious, Watson, very curious! Now he is off once more! AT --
why, he is repeating it for the third time. ATTENTA three times!
How often will he repeat it? No, that seems to be the finish. He
has withdrawn from the window. What do you make of it,
Watson?"

  "A cipher message, Holmes."

  My companion gave a sudden chuckle of comprehension.

  "And not a very obscure cipher, Watson," said he. "Why, of
course, it is Italian! The A means that it is addressed to a woman.
'Beware! Beware! Beware!' How's that, Watson?"

  "I believe you have hit it."

  "Not a doubt of it. It is a very urgent message, thrice repeated
to make it more so. But beware of what? Wait a bit; he is
coming to the window once more."

  Again we saw the dim silhouette of a crouching man and the
whisk of the small flame across the window as the signals were
renewed. They came more rapidly than before -- so rapid that it
was hard to follow them.

  "PERICOLO pericolo -- eh, what's that, Watson? 'Danger,' isn't
it? Yes, by Jove, it's a danger signal. There he goes again! PERI.
Halloa, what on earth --"

  The light had suddenly gone out, the glimmering square of
window had disappeared, and the third floor formed a dark band
round the lofty building, with its tiers of shining casements. That
last warning cry had been suddenly cut short. How, and by
whom? The same thought occurred on the instant to us both.
Holmes sprang up from where he crouched by the window.

  "This is serious, Watson," he cried. "There is some devilry
going forward! Why should such a message stop in such a way?
I should put Scotland Yard in touch with this business -- and yet,
it is too pressing for us to leave."

  "Shall I go for the police?"

  "We must define the situation a little more clearly. It may
bear some more innocent interpretation. Come. Watson, let us
go across ourselves and see what we can make of it."

                            2

  As we walked rapidly down Howe Street I glanced back at the
building which we had left. There, dimly outlined at the top
window, I could see the shadow of a head, a woman's head,
gazing tensely, rigidly, out into the night, waiting with breath-
less suspense for the renewal of that interrupted message. At the
doorway of the Howe Street flats a man, muffled in a cravat and
greatcoat, was leaning against the railing. He started as the
hall-light fell upon our faces.

  "Holmes!" he cried.

  "Why, Gregson!" said my companion as he shook hands with
the Scotland Yard detective. "Journeys end with lovers' meet-
ings. What brings you here?"

  "The same reasons that bring you, I expect," said Gregson.
"How you got on to it I can't imagine."

  "Different threads, but leading up to the same tangle. I've
been taking the signals."

  "Signals?"

  "Yes, from that window. They broke off in the middle. We
came over to see the reason. But since it is safe in your hands I
see no object in continuing the business."

  "Wait a bit!" cried Gregson eagerly. "I'll do you this justice,
Mr. Holmes, that I was never in a case yet that I didn't feel
stronger for having you on my side. There's only the one exit to
these flats, so we have him safe."

  "Who is he?"

  "Well, well, we score over you for once, Mr. Holmes. You
must give us best this time." He struck his stick sharply upon
the ground, on which a cabman, his whip in his hand, sauntered
over from a four-wheeler which stood on the far side of the
street. "May I introduce you to Mr. Sherlock Holmes?" he said
to the cabman. "This is Mr. Leverton, of Pinkerton's American
Agency."

  "The hero of the Long Island cave mystery?" said Holmes.
"Sir, I am pleased to meet you."

  The American, a quiet, businesslike young man, with a clean-
shaven, hatchet face, flushed up at the words of commendation.
"I am on the trail of my life now, Mr. Holmes," said he. "If I
can get Gorgiano --"

  "What! Gorgiano of the Red Circle?"

  "Oh, he has a European fame, has he? Well, we've learned all
about him in America. We know he is at the bottom of fifty
murders, and yet we have nothing positive we can take him on. I
tracked him over from New York, and I've been close to him for
a week in London, waiting some excuse to get my hand on his
collar. Mr. Gregson and I ran him to ground in that big tenement
house, and there's only the one door, so he can't slip us. There's
three folk come out since he went in, but I'll swear he wasn't
one of them."

  "Mr. Holmes talks of signals," said Gregson. "I expect, as
usual, he knows a good deal that we don't."

  In a few clear words Holmes explained the situation as it had
appeared to us.

  The American struck his hands together with vexation.

  "He's on to us!" he cried.

  "Why do you think so?"

  "Well, it figures out that way, does it not? Here he is, sending
out messages to an accomplice -- there are several of his gang in
London. Then suddenly, just as by your own account he was
telling them that there was danger, he broke short off. What
could it mean except that from the window he had suddenly
either caught sight of us in the street, or in some way come to
understand how close the danger was, and that he must act right
away if he was to avoid it? What do you suggest, Mr. Holmes?"

  "That we go up at once and see for ourselves."

  "But we have no warrant for his arrest."

  "He is in unoccupied premises under suspicious circumstances,"
said Gregson. "That is good enough for the moment. When we
have him by the heels we can see if New York can't help us to
keep him. I'll take the responsibility of arresting him now."

  Our official detectives may blunder in the matter of intelli-
gence, but never in that of courage. Gregson climbed the stair to
arrest this desperate murderer with the same absolutely quiet and
businesslike bearing with which he would have ascended the
official staircase of Scotland Yard. The Pinkerton man had tried
to push past him, but Gregson had firmly elbowed him back.
London dangers were the privilege of the London force.

  The door of the left-hand flat upon the third landing was
standing ajar. Gregson pushed it open. Within all was absolute
silence and darkness. I struck a match and lit the detective's
lantern. As I did so, and as the flicker steadied into a flame, we
all gave a gasp of surprise. On the deal boards of the carpetless
floor there was outlined a fresh track of blood. The red steps
pointed towards us and led away from an inner room, the door of
which was closed. Gregson flung it open and held his light full
blaze in front of him, while we all peered eagerly over his
shoulders.

  In the middle of the floor of the empty room was huddled the
figure of an enormous man, his clean-shaven, swarthy face
grotesquely horrible in its contortion and his head encircled by a
ghastly crimson halo of blood, lying in a broad wet circle upon
the white woodwork. His knees were drawn up, his hands thrown
out in agony, and from the centre of his broad, brown, upturned
throat there projected the white haft of a knife driven blade-deep
into his body. Giant as he was, the man must have gone down
like a pole-axed ox before that terrific blow. Beside his right
hand a most formidable horn-handled, two-edged dagger lay
upon the floor, and near it a black kid glove.

  "By George! it's Black Gorgiano himself!" cried the Ameri-
can detective. "Someone has got ahead of us this time."

  "Here is the candle in the window, Mr. Holmes," said Gregson.
"Why, whatever are you doing?"

  Holmes had stepped across, had lit the candle, and was pass-
ing it backward and forward across the window-panes. Then he
peered into the darkness, blew the candle out, and threw it on the
floor.

  "I rather think that will be helpful," said he. He came over
and stood in deep thought while the two professionals were
examining the body. "You say that three people came out from
the flat while you were waiting downstairs," said he at last.
"Did you observe them closely?"

  "Yes, I did."

  "Was there a fellow about thirty, black-bearded, dark, of
middle size?"

  "Yes; he was the last to pass me."

  "That is your man, I fancy. I can give you his description,
and we have a very excellent outline of his footmark. That
should be enough for you."

  "Not much, Mr. Holmes, among the millions of London."

  "Perhaps not. That is why I thought it best to summon this
lady to your aid."

  We all turned round at the words. There, framed in the
doorway, was a tall and beautiful woman -- the mysterious lodger
of Bloomsbury. Slowly she advanced, her face pale and drawn
with a frightful apprehension, her eyes fixed and staring, her
terrified gaze riveted upon the dark figure on the floor.

  "You have killed him!" she muttered. "Oh, Dio mio, you
have killed him!" Then I heard a sudden sharp intake of her
breath, and she sprang into the air with a cry of joy. Round and
round the room she danced, her hands clapping, her dark eyes
gleaming with delighted wonder, and a thousand pretty Italian
exclamations pouring from her lips. It was terrible and amazing
to see such a woman so convulsed with joy at such a sight.
Suddenly she stopped and gazed at us all with a questioning
stare.

  "But you! You are police, are you not? You have killed
Giuseppe Gorgiano. Is it not so?"

  "We are police, madam."

  She looked round into the shadows of the room.

  "But where, then, is Gennaro?" she asked. "He is my hus-
band, Gennaro Lucca. I am Emilia Lucca, and we are both from
New York. Where is Gennaro? He called me this moment from
this window, and I ran with all my speed."

  "It was I who called," said Holmes.

  "You! How could you call?"

  "Your cipher was not difficult, madam. Your presence here
was desirable. I knew that I had only to flash 'Vieni' and you
would surely come."

  The beautiful Italian looked with awe at my companion.

  "I do not understand how you know these things," she said.
"Giuseppe Gorgiano -- how did he --" She paused, and then
suddenly her face lit up with pride and delight. "Now I see it!
My Gennaro! My splendid, beautiful Gennaro, who has guarded
me safe from all harm, he did it, with his own strong hand he
killed the monster! Oh, Gennaro, how wonderful you are! What
woman could ever be worthy of such a man?"

  "Well, Mrs. Lucca," said the prosaic Gregson, laying his
hand upon the lady's sleeve with as little sentiment as if she were
a Notting Hill hooligan, "I am not very clear yet who you are or
what you are; but you've said enough to make it very clear that
we shall want you at the Yard."

  "One moment, Gregson," said Holmes. "I rather fancy that
this lady may be as anxious to give us information as we can be
to get it. You understand, madam, that your husband will be
arrested and tried for the death of the man who lies before us?
What you say may be used in evidence. But if you think that he
has acted from motives which are not criminal, and which he
would wish to have known, then you cannot serve him better
than by telling us the whole story."

  "Now that Gorgiano is dead we fear nothing," said the lady.
"He was a devil and a monster, and there can be no judge in the
world who would punish my husband for having killed him."

  "In that case," said Holmes, "my suggestion is that we lock
this door, leave things as we found them, go with this lady to her
room, and form our opinion after we have heard what it is that
she has to say to us."

  Half an hour later we were seated, all four, in the small
sitting-room of Signora Lucca, listening to her remarkable narra-
tive of those sinister events, the ending of which we had chanced
to witness. She spoke in rapid and fluent but very unconventional
English, which, for the sake of clearness, I will make grammatical.

  "I was born in Posilippo, near Naples," said she, "and was
the daughter of Augusto Barelli, who was the chief lawyer and
once the deputy of that part. Gennaro was in my father's em-
ployment, and I came to love him, as any woman must. He had
neither money nor position -- nothing but his beauty and strength
and energy -- so my father forbade the match. We fled together,
were married at Bari, and sold my jewels to gain the money
which would take us to America. This was four years ago, and
we have been in New York ever since.

  "Fortune was very good to us at first. Gennaro was able to do
a service to an Italian gentleman-- he saved him from some
ruffians in the place called the Bowery and so made a powerful
friend. His name was Tito Castalotte and he was the senior
partner of the great firm of Castalotte and Zamba, who are the
chief fruit importers of New York. Signor Zamba is an invalid,
and our new friend Castalotte has all power within the firm,
which employs more than three hundred men. He took my
husband into his employment, made him head of a department,
and showed his good-will towards him in every way. Signor
Castalotte was a bachelor, and I believe that he felt as if Gennaro
was his son, and both my husband and I loved him as if he were
our father. We had taken and furnished a little house in Brook-
lyn, and our whole future seemed assured when that black cloud
appeared which was soon to overspread our sky.

  "One night, when Gennaro returned from his work, he brought
a fellow-countryman back with him. His name was Gorgiano,
and he had come also from Posilippo. He was a huge man, as
you can testify, for you have looked upon his corpse. Not only
was his body that of a giant but everything about him was
grotesque, gigantic, and terrifying. His voice was like thunder in
our little house. There was scarce room for the whirl of his great
arms as he talked. His thoughts, his emotions, his passions, all
were exaggerated and monstrous. He talked, or rather roared,
with such energy that others could but sit and listen, cowed with
the mighty stream of words. His eyes blazed at you and held you
at his mercy. He was a terrible and wonderful man. I thank God
that he is dead!

  "He came again and again. Yet I was aware that Gennaro was
no more happy than I was in his presence. My poor husband
would sit pale and listless, listening to the endless raving upon
politics and upon social questions which made up our visitor's
conversation. Gennaro said nothing, but I, who knew him so
well, could read in his face some emotion which I had never
seen there before. At first I thought that it was dislike. And then,
gradually, I understood that it was more than dislike. It was
fear -- a deep, secret, shrinking fear. That night -- the night that I
read his terror -- I put my arms round him and I implored him by
his love for me and by all that he held dear to hold nothing from
me, and to tell me why this huge man overshadowed him so.

  "He told me, and my own heart grew cold as ice as I listened.
My poor Gennaro, in his wild and fiery days, when all the world
seemed against him and his mind was driven half mad by the
injustices of life, had joined a Neapolitan society, the Red
Circle, which was allied to the old Carbonari. The oaths and
secrets of this brotherhood were frightful, but once within its rule
no escape was possible. When we had fled to America Gennaro
thought that he had cast it all off forever. What was his horror
one evening to meet in the streets the very man who had initiated
him in Naples, the giant Gorgiano, a man who had earned the
name of 'Death' in the south of Italy, for he was red to the elbow
in murder! He had come to New York to avoid the Italian police,
and he had already planted a branch of this dreadful society in
his new home. All this Gennaro told me and showed me a
summons which he had received that very day, a Red Circle
drawn upon the head of it telling him that a lodge would be held
upon a certain date, and that his presence at it was required and
ordered.

  "That was bad enough, but worse was to come. I had noticed
for some time that when Gorgiano came to us, as he constantly
did, in the evening, he spoke much to me; and even when his
words were to my husband those terrible, glaring, wild-beast eyes
of his were always turned upon me. One night his secret came
out. I had awakened what he called 'love' within him -- the love
of a brute -- a savage. Gennaro had not yet returned when he
came. He pushed his way in, seized me in his mighty arms,
hugged me in his bear's embrace, covered me with kisses, and
implored me to come away with him. I was struggling and
screaming when Gennaro entered and attacked him. He struck
Gennaro senseless and fled from the house which he was never
more to enter. It was a deadly enemy that we made that night.

  "A few days later came the meeting. Gennaro returned from it
with a face which told me that something dreadful had occurred.
It was worse than we could have imagined possible. The funds
of the society were raised by blackmailing rich Italians and
threatening them with violence should they refuse the money. It
seems that Castalotte, our dear friend and benefactor, had been
approached. He had refused to yield to threats, and he had
handed the notices to the police. It was resolved now that such
an example should be made of him as would prevent any other
victim from rebelling. At the meeting it was arranged that he and
his house should be blown up with dynamite. There was a
drawing of lots as to who should carry out the deed. Gennaro
saw our enemy's cruel face smiling at him as he dipped his hand
in the bag. No doubt it had been prearranged in some fashion,
for it was the fatal disc with the Red Circle upon it, the mandate
for murder, which lay upon his palm. He was to kill his best
friend, or he was to expose himself and me to the vengeance of
his comrades. It was part of their fiendish system to punish those
whom they feared or hated by injuring not only their own
persons but those whom they loved, and it was the knowledge of
this which hung as a terror over my poor Gennaro's head and
drove him nearly crazy with apprehension.

  "All that night we sat together, our arms round each other,
each strengthening each for the troubles that lay before us. The
very next evening had been fixed tor the attempt. By midday my
husband and I were on our way to London, but not before he had
given our benefactor full warning of his danger, and had also left
such information for the police as would safeguard his life for
the future.

  "The rest, gentlemen, you know for yourselves. We were sure
that our enemies would be behind us like our own shadows.
Gorgiano had his private reasons for vengeance, but in any case
we knew how ruthless, cunning, and untiring he could be. Both
Italy and America are full of stories of his dreadful powers. If
ever they were exerted it would be now. My darling made use of
the few clear days which our start had given us in arranging for a
refuge for me in such a fashion that no possible danger could
reach me. For his own part, he wished to be free that he might
communicate both with the American and with the Italian police.
I do not myself know where he lived, or how. All that I learned
was through the columns of a newspaper. But once as I looked
through my window, I saw two Italians watching the house, and
I understood that in some way Gorgiano had found out our
retreat. Finally Gennaro told me, through the paper, that he
would signal to me from a certain window, but when the signals
came they were nothing but warnings, which were suddenly
interrupted. It is very clear to me now that he knew Gorgiano to
be close upon him, and that, thank God, he was ready for him
when he came. And now, gentlemen, I would ask you whether
we have anything to fear from the law, or whether any judge
upon earth would condemn my Gennaro for what he has done?"

  "Well, Mr. Gregson," said the American, looking across at
the official, "I don't know what your British point of view may
be, but I guess that in New York this lady's husband will receive
a pretty general vote of thanks."

  "She will have to come with me and see the chief," Gregson
answered. "If what she says is corroborated, I do not think she
or her husband has much to fear. But what I can't make head or
tail of, Mr. Holmes, is how on earth you got yourself mixed up
in the matter."

  "Education, Gregson, education. Still seeking knowledge at
the old university. Well, Watson, you have one more specimen
of the tragic and grotesque to add to your collection. By the way,
it is not eight o'clock, and a Wagner night at Covent Garden! If
we hurry, we might be in time for the second act."

           The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

  "But why Turkish?" asked Mr. Sherlock Holmes, gazing fix-
edly at my boots. I was reclining in a cane-backed chair at the
moment, and my protruded feet had attracted his ever-active
attention.

  "English," I answered in some surprise. "I got them at
Latimer's, in Oxford Street."

  Holmes smiled with an expression of weary patience.

  "The bath!" he said; "the bath! Why the relaxing and expen-
sive Turkish rather than the invigorating home-made article?"

  "Because for the last few days I have been feeling rheumatic
and old. A Turkish bath is what we call an alterative in
medicine -- a fresh starting-point, a cleanser of the system.

  "By the way, Holmes," I added, "I have no doubt the
connection between my boots and a Turkish bath is a perfectly
self-evident one to a logical mind, and yet I should be obliged to
you if you would indicate it."

  "The train of reasoning is not very obscure, Watson," said
Holmes with a mischievous twinkle. "It belongs to the same
elementary class of deduction which I should illustrate if I were
to ask you who shared your cab in your drive this morning."

  "I don't admit that a fresh illustration is an explanation," said
I with some asperity.

  "Bravo, Watson! A very dignified and logical remonstrance.
Let me see, what were the points? Take the last one first -- the
cab. You observe that you have some splashes on the left sleeve
and shoulder of your coat. Had you sat in the centre of a hansom
you would probably have had no splashes, and if you had they
would certainly have been symmetrical. Therefore it is clear that
you sat at the side. Therefore it is equally clear that you had a
companion."

  "That is very evident."

  "Absurdly commonplace, is it not?"

  "But the boots and the bath?"

  "Equally childish. You are in the habit of doing up your boots
in a certain way. I see them on this occasion fastened with an
elaborate double bow, which is not your usual method of tying
them. You have, therefore, had them off. Who has tied them? A
bootmaker -- or the boy at the bath. It is unlikely that it is the
bootmaker, since your boots are nearly new. Well, what re-
mains? The bath. Absurd, is it not? But, for all that, the Turkish
bath has served a purpose."

  "What is that?"

  "You say that you have had it because you need a change. Let
me suggest that you take one. How would Lausanne do, my dear
Watson -- first-class tickets and all expenses paid on a princely
scale?"

  "Splendid! But why?"

  Holmes leaned back in his armchair and took his notebook
from his pocket.

  "One of the most dangerous classes in the world," said he,
"is the drifting and friendless woman. She is the most harmless
and often the most useful of mortals, but she is the inevitable
inciter of crime in others. She is helpless. She is migratory. She
has sufficient means to take her from country to country and
from hotel to hotel. She is lost, as often as not, in a maze
of obscure pensions and boarding-houses. She is a stray chicken
in a world of foxes. When she is gobbled up she is hardly
missed. I much fear that some evil has come to the Lady Frances
Carfax."

  I was relieved at this sudden descent from the general to the
particular. Holmes consulted his notes.

  "Lady Frances," he continued, "is the sole survivor of the
direct family of the late Earl of Rufton. The estates went, as you
may remember, in the male line. She was left with limited
means, but with some very remarkable old Spanish jewellery of
silver and curiously cut diamonds to which she was fondly
attached -- too attached, for she refused to leave them with her
banker and always carried them about with her. A rather pathetic
figure, the Lady Frances, a beautiful woman, still in fresh mid-
dle age, and yet, by a strange chance, the last derelict of what
only twenty years ago was a goodly fleet."

  "What has happened to her, then?"

  "Ah, what has happened to the Lady Frances? Is she alive or
dead? There is our problem. She is a lady of precise habits, and
for four years it has been her invariable custom to write every
second week to Miss Dobney, her old governess, who has long
retired and lives in Camberwell. It is this Miss Dobney who has
consulted me. Nearly five weeks have passed without a word.
The last letter was from the Hotel National at Lausanne. Lady
Frances seems to have left there and given no address. The
family are anxious, and as they are exceedingly wealthy no sum
wlll be spared if we can clear the matter up."

  "Is Miss Dobney the only source of information? Surely she
had other correspondents?"

  "There is one correspondent who is a sure draw, Watson.
That is the bank. Single ladies must live, and their passbooks are
compressed diaries. She banks at Silvester's. I have glanced over
her account. The last check but one paid her bill at Lausanne
but it was a large one and probably left her with cash in hand.
Only one check has been drawn since."

  "To whom, and where?"

  "To Miss Marie Devine. There is nothing to show where
the check was drawn. It was cashed at the Credit Lyonnais
at Montpellier less than three weeks ago. The sum was fifty
pounds."

  "And who is Miss Marie Devine?"

  "That also I have been able to discover. Miss Marie Devine
was the maid of Lady Frances Carfax. Why she should have
paid her this check we have not yet determined. I have no
doubt, however, that your researches will soon clear the matter
up."

  "My researches!"

  "Hence the health-giving expedition to Lausanne. You know
that I cannot possibly leave London while old Abrahams is in
such mortal terror of his life. Besides, on general principles it is
best that I should not leave the country. Scotland Yard feels
lonely without me, and it causes an unhealthy excitement among
the criminal classes. Go, then, my dear Watson, and if my
humble counsel can ever be valued at so extravagant a rate as
two pence a word, it waits your disposal night and day at the end
of the Continental wire."

  Two days later found me at the Hotel National at Lausanne,
where I received every courtesy at the hands of M. Moser, the
well-known manager. Lady Frances, as he informed me, had
stayed there for several weeks. She had been much liked by all
who met her. Her age was not more than forty. She was still
handsome and bore every sign of having in her youth been a very
lovely woman. M. Moser knew nothing of any valuable jewellery,
but it had been remarked by the servants that the heavy trunk in
the lady's bedroom was always scrupulously locked. Marie
Devine, the maid, was as popular as her mistress. She was
actually engaged to one of the head waiters in the hotel, and
there was no difficulty in getting her address. It was 11 Rue de
Trajan, Montpellier. All this I jotted down and felt that Holmes
himself could not have been more adroit in collecting his facts.

  Only one corner still remained in the shadow. No light which I
possessed could clear up the cause for the lady's sudden depar-
ture. She was very happy at Lausanne. There was every reason
to believe that she intended to remain for the season in her
luxurious rooms overlooking the lake. And yet she had left at a
single day's notice, which involved her in the useless payment of
a week's rent. Only Jules Vibart, the lover of the maid, had any
suggestion to offer. He connected the sudden departure with the
visit to the hotel a day or two before of a tall, dark, bearded
man. "Un sauvage -- un veritable sauvage!" cried Jules Vibart.
The man had rooms somewhere in the town. He had been seen
talking earnestly to Madame on the promenade by the lake. Then
he had called. She had refused to see him. He was English, but
of his name there was no record. Madame had left the place
immediately afterwards. Jules Vibart, and, what was of more
importance, Jules Vibart's sweetheart, thought that this call and
this departure were cause and effect. Only one thing Jules would
not discuss. That was the reason why Marie had left her mis-
tress. Of that he could or would say nothing. If I wished to
know, I must go to Montpellier and ask her.

  So ended the first chapter of my inquiry. The second was
devoted to the place which Lady Frances Carfax had sought
when she left Lausanne. Concerning this there had been some
secrecy, which confirmed the idea that she had gone with the
intention of throwing someone off her track. Otherwise why
should not her luggage have been openly labelled for Baden?
Both she and it reached the Rhenish spa by some circuitous
route. This much I gathered from the manager of Cook's local
office. So to Baden I went, after dispatching to Holmes an
account of all my proceedings and receiving in reply a telegram
of half-humorous commendation.

  At Baden the track was not difficult to follow. Lady Frances
had stayed at the Englischer Hof for a fortnight. While there she
had made the acquaintance of a Dr. Shlessinger and his wife, a
missionary from South America. Like most lonely ladies, Lady
Frances found her comfort and occupation in religion. Dr. Shles-
singer's remarkable personality, his whole-hearted devotion, and
the fact that he was recovering from a disease contracted in the
exercise of his apostolic duties affected her deeply. She had
helped Mrs. Shlessinger in the nursing of the convalescent saint.
He spent his day, as the manager described it to me, upon a
lounge-chair on the veranda, with an attendant lady upon either
side of him. He was preparing a map of the Holy Land, with
special reference to the kingdom of the Midianites, upon which
he was writing a monograph. Finally, having improved much in
health, he and his wife had returned to London, and Lady
Frances had started thither in their company. This was just three
weeks before, and the manager had heard nothing since. As to
the maid, Marie, she had gone off some days beforehand in
floods of tears, after informing the other maids that she was
leaving service forever. Dr. Shlessinger had paid the bill of the
whole party before his departure.

  "By the way," said the landlord in conclusion, "you are not
the only friend of Lady Frances Carfax who is inquiring after her
just now. Only a week or so ago we had a man here upon the
same errand."

  "Did he give a name?" I asked.

  "None; but he was an Englishman, though of an unusual
type."

  "A savage?" said I, linking my facts after the fashion of my
illustrious friend.

  "Exactly. That describes him very well. He is a bulky, bearded,
sunburned fellow, who looks as if he would be more at home in
a farmers' inn than in a fashionable hotel. A hard, fierce man, I
should think, and one whom I should be sorry to offend."

  Already the mystery began to define itself, as figures grow
clearer with the lifting of a fog. Here was this good and pious
lady pursued from place to place by a sinister and unrelenting
figure. She feared him, or she would not have fled from Lausanne.
He had still followed. Sooner or later he would overtake her.
Had he already overtaken her? Was that the secret of her contin-
ued silence? Could the good people who were her companions
not screen her from his violence or his blackmail? What horrible
purpose, what deep design, lay behind this long pursuit? There
was the problem which I had to solve.

  To Holmes I wrote showing how rapidly and surely I had got
down to the roots of the matter. In reply I had a telegram asking
for a description of Dr. Shlessinger's left ear. Holmes's ideas of
humour are strange and occasionally offensive, so I took no
notice of his ill-timed jest -- indeed, I had already reached Mont-
pellier in my pursuit of the maid, Marie, before his message
came.

  I had no difficulty in finding the ex-servant and in learning all
that she could tell me. She was a devoted creature, who had only
left her mistress because she was sure that she was in good
hands, and because her own approaching marriage made a sepa-
ration inevitable in any case. Her mistress had, as she confessed
with distress, shown some irritability of temper towards her
during their stay in Baden, and had even questioned her once as
if she had suspicions of her honesty, and this had made the
parting easier than it would otherwise have been. Lady Frances
had given her fifty pounds as a wedding-present. Like me, Marie
viewed with deep distrust the stranger who had driven her mis-
tress from Lausanne. With her own eyes she had seen him seize
the lady's wrist with great violence on the public promenade by
the lake. He was a fierce and terrible man. She believed that it
was out of dread of him that Lady Frances had accepted the
escort of the Shlessingers to London. She had never spoken to
Marie about it, but many little signs had convinced the maid that
her mistress lived in a state of continual nervous apprehension.
So far she had got in her narrative, when suddenly she sprang
from her chair and her face was convulsed with surprise and
fear. "See!" she cried. "The miscreant follows still! There is the
very man of whom I speak."

  Through the open sitting-room window I saw a huge, swarthy
man with a bristling black beard walking slowly down the centre
of the street and staring eagerly at the numbers of the houses. It
was clear that, like myself, he was on the track of the maid.
Acting upon the impulse of the moment, I rushed out and
accosted him.

  "You are an Englishman," I said.

  "What if I am?" he asked with a most villainous scowl.

  "May I ask what your name is?"

  "No, you may not," said he with decision.

  The situation was awkward, but the most direct way is often
the best.

  "Where is the Lady Frances Carfax?" I asked.

  He stared at me in amazement.

  "What have you done with her? Why have you pursued her? I
insist upon an answer!" said I.

  The fellow gave a bellow of anger and sprang upon me like a
tiger. I have held my own in many a struggle, but the man had a
grip of iron and the fury of a fiend. His hand was on my throat
and my senses were nearly gone before an unshaven French
ouvrier in a blue blouse darted out from a cabaret opposite, with
a cudgel in his hand, and struck my assailant a sharp crack over
the forearm, which made him leave go his hold. He stood for an
instant fuming with rage and uncertain whether he should not
renew his attack. Then, with a snarl of anger, he left me and
entered the cottage from which I had just come. I turned to thank
my preserver, who stood beside me in the roadway.

  "Well, Watson," said he, "a very pretty hash you have made
of it! I rather think you had better come back with me to London
by the night express."

  An hour afterwards, Sherlock Holmes, in his usual garb and
style, was seated in my private room at the hotel. His explana-
tion of his sudden and opportune appearance was simplicity
itself, for, finding that he could get away from London, he
determined to head me off at the next obvious point of my
travels. In the disguise of a workingman he had sat in the
cabaret waiting for my appearance.

  "And a singularly consistent investigation you have made, my
dear Watson," said he. "I cannot at the moment recall any
possible blunder which you have omitted. The total effect of
your proceeding has been to give the alarm everywhere and yet
to discover nothing."

  "Perhaps you would have done no better," I answered bitterly.

  "There is no 'perhaps' about it. I have done better. Here is the
Hon. Philip Green, who is a fellow-lodger with you in this hotel,
and we may find him the starting-point for a more successful
investigation."

  A card had come up on a salver, and it was followed by the
same bearded ruffian who had attacked me in the street. He
started when he saw me.

  "What is this, Mr. Holmes?" he asked. "I had your note and
I have come. But what has this man to do with the matter?"

  "This is my old friend and associate, Dr. Watson, who is
helping us in this affair."

  The stranger held out a huge, sunburned hand, with a few
words of apology.

  "I hope I didn't harm you. When you accused me of hurting her
I lost my grip of myself. Indeed, I'm not responsible in these
days. My nerves are like live wires. But this situation is beyond
me. What I want to know, in the first place, Mr. Holmes, is,
how in the world you came to hear of my existence at all."

  "I am in touch with Miss Dobney, Lady Frances's governess."

  "Old Susan Dobney with the mob cap! I remember her well."

  "And she remembers you. It was in the days before -- before
you found it better to go to South Africa."

  "Ah, I see you know my whole story. I need hide nothing
from you. I swear to you, Mr. Holmes, that there never was in
this world a man who loved a woman with a more wholehearted
love than I had for Frances. I was a wild youngster, I know --
not worse than others of my class. But her mind was pure as
snow. She could not bear a shadow of coarseness. So, when she
came to hear of things that I had done, she would bave no more
to say to me. And yet she loved me -- that is the wonder of
it! -- loved me well enough to remain single all her sainted days
just for my sake alone. When the years had passed and I had
made my money at Barberton I thought perhaps I could seek her
out and soften her. I had heard that she was still unmarried. I
found her at Lausanne and tried all I knew. She weakened, I
think, but her will was strong, and when next I called she had
left the town. I traced her to Baden, and then after a time heard
that her maid was here. I'm a rough fellow, fresh from a rough
life, and when Dr. Watson spoke to me as he did I lost hold of
myself for a moment. But for God's sake tell me what has
become of the Lady Frances."

  "That is for us to find out," said Sherlock Holmes with
peculiar gravity. "What is your London address, Mr. Green?"

  "The Langham Hotel will find me."

  "Then may I recommend that you return there and be on hand
in case I should want you? I have no desire to encourage false
hopes, but you may rest assured that all that can be done will be
done for the safety of Lady Frances. I can say no more for the
instant. I will leave you this card so that you may be able to keep
in touch with us. Now, Watson, if you will pack your bag I will
cable to Mrs. Hudson to make one of her best efforts for two
hungry travellers at 7:30 to-morrow."

  A telegram was awaiting us when we reached our Baker Street
rooms, which Holmes read with an exclamation of interest and
threw across to me. "Jagged or torn," was the message, and the
place of origin, Baden.

  "What is this?" I asked.

  "It is everything," Holmes answered. "You may remember
my seemingly irrelevant question as to this clerical gentleman's
left ear. You did not answer it."

  "I had left Baden and could not inquire."

  "Exactly. For this reason I sent a duplicate to the manager of
the Englischer Hof, whose answer lies here."

  "What does it show?"

  "It shows, my dear Watson, that we are dealing with an
exceptionally astute and dangerous man. The Rev. Dr. Shlessinger,
missionary from South America, is none other than Holy Peters,
one of the most unscrupulous rascals that Australia has ever
evolved -- and for a young country it has turned out some very
finished types. His particular specialty is the beguiling of lonely
ladies by playing upon their religious feelings, and his so-called
wife, an Englishwoman named Fraser, is a worthy helpmate.
The nature of his tactics suggested his identity to me, and this
physical peculiarity -- he was badly bitten in a saloon-fight at
Adelaide in '89 -- confirmed my suspicion. This poor lady is in
the hands of a most infernal couple, who will stick at nothing,
Watson. That she is already dead is a very likely supposition. If
not, she is undoubtedly in some sort of confinement and unable
to write to Miss Dobney or her other friends. It is always
possible that she never reached London, or that she has passed
through it, but the former is improbable, as, with their system of
registration, it is not easy for foreigners to play tricks with the
Continental police; and the latter is also unlikely, as these rogues
could not hope to find any other place where it would be as easy
to keep a person under restraint. All my instincts tell me that she
is in London, but as we have at present no possible means of
telling where, we can only take the obvious steps, eat our dinner,
and possess our souls in patience. Later in the evening I will
stroll down and have a word with friend Lestrade at Scotland
Yard."

  But neither the official police nor Holmes's own small but
very efficient organization sufficed to clear away the mystery.
Amid the crowded millions of London the three persons we
sought were as completely obliterated as if they had never lived.
Advertisements were tried, and failed. Clues were followed, and
led to nothing. Every criminal resort which Shlessinger might
frequent was drawn in vain. His old associates were watched
but they kept clear of him. And then suddenly, after a week of
helpless suspense, there came a flash of light. A silver-and-
brilliant pendant of old Spanish design had been pawned at
Bovington's, in Westminster Road. The pawner was a large
clean-shaven man of clerical appearance. His name and address
were demonstrably false. The ear had escaped notice, but the
description was surely that of Shlessinger.

  Three times had our bearded friend from the Langham called
for news -- the third time within an hour of this fresh develop-
ment. His clothes were getting looser on his great body. He
seemed to be wilting away in his anxiety. "If you will only give
me something to do!" was his constant wail. At last Holmes
could oblige him.

  "He has begun to pawn the jewels. We should get him now."

  "But does this mean that any harm has befallen the Lady
Frances?"

  Holmes shook his head very gravely.

  "Supposing that they have held her prisoner up to now, it is
clear that they cannot let her loose without their own destruction.
We must prepare for the worst."

  "What can I do?"

  "These people do not know you by sight?"

  "No."

  "It is possible that he will go to some other pawnbroker in the
future. In that case, we must begin again. On the other hand, he
has had a fair price and no questions asked, so if he is in need of
ready-money he will probably come back to Bovington's. I will
give you a note to them, and they will let you wait in the shop. If
the fellow comes you will follow him home. But no indiscretion
and, above all, no violence. I put you on your honour that you
will take no step without my knowledge and consent."

  For two days the Hon. Philip Green (he was, I may mention
the son of the famous admiral of that name who commanded the
Sea of Azof fleet in the Crimean War) brought us no news. On
the evening of the third he rushed into our sitting-room, pale,
trembling, with every muscle of his powerful frame quivering
with excitement.

  "We have him! We have him!" he cried.

  He was incoherent in his agitation. Holmes soothed him with a
few words and thrust him into an armchair.

  "Come, now, give us the order of events," said he.

  "She came only an hour ago. It was the wife, this time, but
the pendant she brought was the fellow of the other. She is a tall,
pale woman, with ferret eyes."

  "That is the lady," said Holmes.

  "She left the office and I followed her. She walked up the
Kennington Road, and I kept behind her. Presently she went into
a shop. Mr. Holmes, it was an undertaker's."

  My companion started. "Well?" he asked in that vibrant
voice which told of the fiery soul behind the cold gray face.

  "She was talking to the woman behind the counter. I entered
as well. 'It is late,' I heard her say, or words to that effect. The
woman was excusing herself. 'It should be there before now,'
she answered. 'It took longer, being out of the ordinary.' They
both stopped and looked at me, so I asked some question and
then left the shop."

  "You did excellently well. What happened next?"

  "The woman came out, but I had hid myself in a doorway.
Her suspicions had been aroused, I think, for she looked round
her. Then she called a cab and got in. I was lucky enough to get
another and so to follow her. She got down at last at No. 36
Poultney Square, Brixton. I drove past, left my cab at the corner
of the square, and watched the house."

  "Did you see anyone?"

  "The windows were all in darkness save one on the lower
floor. The blind was down, and I could not see in. I was
standing there, wondering what I should do next, when a cov-
ered van drove up with two men in it. They descended, took
something out of the van, and carried it up the steps to the hall
door. Mr. Holmes, it was a coffin."

  "Ah!"

  "For an instant I was on the point of rushing in. The door had
been opened to admit the men and their burden. It was the
woman who had opened it. But as I stood there she caught a
glimpse of me, and I think that she recognized me. I saw her
start, and she hastily closed the door. I remembered my promise
to you, and here I am."

  "You have done excellent work," said Holmes, scribbling a
few words upon a half-sheet of paper. "We can do nothing legal
without a warrant, and you can serve the cause best by taking
this note down to the authorities and getting one. There may be
some difficulty, but I should think that the sale of the jewellery
should be sufficient. Lestrade will see to all details."

  "But they may murder her in the meanwhile. What could the
coffin mean, and for whom could it be but for her?"

  "We will do all that can be done, Mr. Green. Not a moment
will be lost. Leave it in our hands. Now, Watson," he added as
our client hurried away, "he will set the regular forces on the
move. We are, as usual, the irregulars, and we must take our
own line of action. The situation strikes me as so desperate that
the most extreme measures are justified. Not a moment is to be
lost in getting to Poultney Square.

  "Let us try to reconstruct the situation," said he as we drove
swiftly past the Houses of Parliament and over Westminster
Bridge. "These villains have coaxed this unhappy lady to Lon-
don, after first alienating her from her faithful maid. If she has
written any letters they have been intercepted. Through some
confederate they have engaged a furnished house. Once inside it,
they have made her a prisoner, and they have become possessed
of the valuable jewellery which has been their object from the
first. Already they have begun to sell part of it, which seems safe
enough to them, since they have no reason to think that anyone
is interested in the lady's fate. When she is released she will, of
course, denounce them. Therefore, she must not be released. But
they cannot keep her under lock and key forever. So murder is
their only solution."

  "That seems very clear."

  "Now we will take another line of reasoning. When you
follow two separate chains of thought, Watson, you will find
some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth.
We will start now, not from the lady but from the coffin and
argue backward. That incident proves, I fear, beyond all doubt
that the lady is dead. It points also to an orthodox burial with
proper accompaniment of medical certificate and official sanc-
tion. Had the lady been obviously murdered, they would have
buried her in a hole in the back garden. But here all is open and
regular. What does that mean? Surely that they have done her to
death in some way which has deceived the doctor and simulated
a natural end -- poisoning, perhaps. And yet how strange that they
should ever let a doctor approach her unless he were a confeder-
ate, which is hardly a credible proposition."

  "Could they have forged a medical certificate?"

  "Dangerous, Watson, very dangerous. No, I hardly see them
doing that. Pull up, cabby! This is evidently the undertaker's, for
we have just passed the pawnbroker's. Would you go in, Wat-
son? Your appearance inspires confidence. Ask what hour the
Poultney Square funeral takes place to-morrow."

  The woman in the shop answered me without hesitation that it
was to be at eight o'clock in the morning. "You see, Watson, no
mystery; everything aboveboard! In some way the legal forms
have undoubtedly been complied with, and they think that they
have little to fear. Well, there's nothing for it now but a direct
frontal attack. Are you armed?"

  "My stick!"

  "Well, well, we shall be strong enough. 'Thrice is he armed
who hath his quarrel just.' We simply can't afford to wait for the
police or to keep within the four corners of the law. You can
drive off, cabby. Now, Watson, we'll just take our luck to-
gether, as we have occasionally done in the past."

  He had rung loudly at the door of a great dark house in the
centre of Poultney Square. It was opened immediately, and the
figure of a tall woman was outlined against the dim-lit hall.

  "Well, what do you want?" she asked sharply, peering at us
through the darkness.

  "I want to speak to Dr. Shlessinger," said Holmes.

  "There is no such person here," she answered, and tried to
close the door, but Holmes had jammed it with his foot.

  "Well, I want to see the man who lives here, whatever he
may call himself," said Holmes firmly.

  She hesitated. Then she threw open the door. "Well, come
in!" said she. "My husband is not afraid to face any man in the
world." She closed the door behind us and showed us into a
sitting-room on the right side of the hall, turning up the gas as
she left us. "Mr. Peters will be with you in an instant," she
said.

  Her words were literally true, for we had hardly time to look
around the dusty and moth-eaten apartment in which we found
ourselves before the door opened and a big, clean-shaven bald-
headed man stepped lightly into the room. He had a large red
face, with pendulous cheeks, and a general air of superficial
benevolence which was marred by a cruel, vicious mouth.

  "There is surely some mistake here, gentlemen," he said in
an unctuous, make-everything-easy voice. "I fancy that you
have been misdirected. Possibly if you tried farther down the
street --"

  "That will do; we have no time to waste," said my compan-
ion firmly. "You are Henry Peters, of Adelaide, late the Rev.
Dr. Shlessinger, of Baden and South America. I am as sure of
that as that my own name is Sherlock Holmes."

  Peters, as I will now call him, started and stared hard at
his formidable pursuer. "I guess your name does not frighten
me, Mr. Holmes," said he coolly. "When a man's conscience
is easy you can't rattle him. What is your business in my
house?"

  "I want to know what you have done with the Lady Frances
Carfax, whom you brought away with you from Baden."

  "I'd be very glad if you could tell me where that lady may
be," Peters answered coolly. "I've a bill against her for nearly a
hundred pounds, and nothing to show for it but a couple of
trumpery pendants that the dealer would hardly look at. She
attached herself to Mrs. Peters and me at Baden -- it is a fact that
I was using another name at the time -- and she stuck on to us
until we came to London. I paid her bill and her ticket. Once in
London, she gave us the slip, and, as I say, left these out-of-date
jewels to pay her bills. You find her, Mr. Holmes, and I'm your
debtor."

  "I mean to find her," said Sherlock Holmes. "I'm going
through this house till I do find her."

  "Where is your warrant?"

  Holmes half drew a revolver from his pocket. "This will have
to serve till a better one comes."

  "Why, you are a common burglar."

  "So you might describe me," said Holmes cheerfully. "My
companion is also a dangerous ruffian. And together we are
going through your house."

  Our opponent opened the door.

  "Fetch a policeman, Annie!" said he. There was a whisk of
feminine skirts down the passage, and the hall door was opened
and shut.

  "Our time is limited, Watson," said Holmes. "If you try to
stop us, Peters, you will most certainly get hurt. Where is that
coffin which was brought into your house?"

  "What do you want with the coffin? It is in use. There is a
body in it."

  "I must see that body."

  "Never with my consent."

  "Then without it." With a quick movement Holmes pushed
the fellow to one side and passed into the hall. A door half
opened stood immediately before us. We entered. It was the
dining-room. On the table, under a half-lit chandelier, the coffin
was lying. Holmes turned up the gas and raised the lid. Deep
down in the recesses of the coffin lay an emaciated figure. The
glare from the lights above beat down upon an aged and withered
face. By no possible process of cruelty, starvation, or disease
could this worn-out wreck be the still beautiful Lady Frances.
Holmes's face showed his amazement, and also his relief.

  "Thank God!" he muttered. "It's someone else."

  "Ah, you've blundered badly for once, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,"
said Peters, who had followed us into the room.

  "Who is this dead woman?"

  "Well, if you really must know, she is an old nurse of my
wife's, Rose Spender by name, whom we found in the Brixton
Workhouse Infirmary. We brought her round here, called in Dr.
Horsom, of 13 Firbank Villas -- mind you take the address, Mr.
Holmes -- and had her carefully tended, as Christian folk should.
On the third day she died -- certificate says senile decay -- but
that's only the doctor's opinion, and of course you know better.
We ordered her funeral to be carried out by Stimson and Co., of
the Kennington Road, who will bury her at eight o'clock to-
morrow morning. Can you pick any hole in that, Mr. Holmes?
You've made a silly blunder, and you may as well own up to it.
I'd give something for a photograph of your gaping, staring face
when you pulled aside that lid expecting to see the Lady Frances
Carfax and only found a poor old woman of ninety."

  Holmes's expression was as impassive as ever under the jeers
of his antagonist, but his clenched hands betrayed his acute
annoyance.

  "I am going through your house," said he.

  "Are you, though!" cried Peters as a woman's voice and
heavy steps sounded in the passage. "We'll soon see about that.
This way, officers, if you please. These men have forced their
way into my house, and I cannot get rid of them. Help me to put
them out."

  A sergeant and a constable stood in the doorway. Holmes
drew his card from his case.

  "This is my name and address. This is my friend, Dr. Watson."

  "Bless you, sir, we know you very well," said the sergeant,
"but you can't stay here without a warrant."

  "Of course not. I quite understand that."

  "Arrest him!" cried Peters.

  "We know where to lay our hands on this gentleman if he is
wanted," said the sergeant majestically, "but you'll have to go,
Mr. Holmes."

  "Yes, Watson, we shall have to go."

  A minute later we were in the street once more. Holmes was
as cool as ever, but I was hot with anger and humiliation. The
sergeant had followed us.

  "Sorry, Mr. Holmes, but that's the law."

  "Exactly, Sergeant, you could not do otherwise."

  "I expect there was good reason for your presence there. If
there is anything I can do --"

  "It's a missing lady, Sergeant, and we think she is in that
house. I expect a warrant presently."

  "Then I'll keep my eye on the parties, Mr. Holmes. If any-
thing comes along, I will surely let you know."

  It was only nine o'clock, and we were off full cry upon the
trail at once. First we drove to Brixton Workhouse Infirmary,
where we found that it was indeed the truth that a charitable
couple had called-some days before, that they had claimed an
imbecile old woman as a former servant, and that they had
obtained permission to take her away with them. No surprise was
expressed at the news that she had since died.

  The doctor was our next goal. He had been called in, had
found the woman dying of pure senility, had actually seen her
pass away, and had signed the certificate in due form. "I assure
you that everything was perfectly normal and there was no room
for foul play in the matter," said he. Nothing in the house had
struck him as suspicious save that for people of their class it was
remarkable that they should have no servant. So far and no
farther went the doctor.

  Finally we found our way to Scotland Yard. There had been
difficulties of procedure in regard to the warrant. Some delay
was inevitable. The magistrate's signature might not be obtained
until next morning. If Holmes would call about nine he could go
down with Lestrade and see it acted upon. So ended the day,
save that near midnight our friend, the sergeant, called to say
that he had seen flickering lights here and there in the windows
of the great dark house, but that no one had left it and none
had entered. We could but pray for patience and wait for the
morrow.

  Sherlock Holmes was too irritable for conversation and too
restless for sleep. I left him smoking hard, with his heavy, dark
brows knotted together, and his long, nervous fingers tapping
upon the arms of his chair, as he turned over in his mind every
possible solution of the mystery. Several times in the course of
the night I heard him prowling about the house. Finally, just
after I had been called in the morning, he rushed into my room.
He was in his dressing-gown, but his pale, hollow-eyed face told
me that his night had been a sleepless one.

  "What time was the funeral? Eight, was it not?" he asked
eagerly. "Well, it is 7:20 now. Good heavens, Watson, what has
become of any brains that God has given me? Quick, man, quick!
It's life or death -- a hundred chances on death to one on life. I'll
never forgive myself, never, if we are too late!"

  Five minutes had not passed before we were flying in a
hansom down Baker Street. But even so it was twenty-five to
eight as we passed Big Ben, and eight struck as we tore down
the Brixton Road. But others were late as well as we. Ten
minutes after the hour the hearse was still standing at the door of
the house, and even as our foaming horse came to a halt the
coffin, supported by three men, appeared on the threshold. Holmes
darted forward and barred their way.

  "Take it back!" he cried, laying his hand on the breast of the
foremost. "Take it back this instant!"

  "What the devil do you mean? Once again I ask you, where is
your warrant?" shouted the furious Peters, his big red face
glaring over the farther erid of the coffin.

  "The warrant is on its way. This coffin shall remain in the
house until it comes."

  The authority in Holmes's voice had its effect upon the bear-
ers. Peters had suddenly vanished into the house, and they
obeyed these new orders. "Quick, Watson, quick! Here is a
screw-driver!" he shouted as the coffin was replaced upon the
table. "Here's one for you, my man! A sovereign if the lid
comes off in a minute! Ask no questions -- work away! That's
good! Another! And another! Now pull all together! It's giving!
It's giving! Ah, that does it at last."

  With a united effort we tore off the coffin-lid. As we did so
there came from the inside a stupefying and overpowering smell
of chloroform. A body lay within, its head all wreathed in
cotton-wool, which had been soaked in the narcotic. Holmes
plucked it off and disclosed the statuesque face of a hand-
some and spiritual woman of middle age. In an instant he had
passed his arm round the figure and raised her to a sitting
position.

  "Is she gone, Watson? Is there a spark left? Surely we are not
too late!"

  For half an hour it seemed that we were. What with actual
suffocation, and what with the poisonous fumes of the chloro-
form, the Lady Frances seemed to have passed the last point of
recall. And then, at last, with artificial respiration, with injected
ether, with every device that science could suggest, some flutter
of life, some quiver of the eyelids, some dimming of a mirror,
spoke of the slowly returning life. A cab had driven up, and
Holmes, parting the blind, looked out at it. "Here is Lestrade
with his warrant," said he. "He will find that his birds have
flown. And here," he added as a heavy step hurried along the
passage, "is someone who has a better right to nurse this lady than
we have. Good morning, Mr. Green; I think that the sooner we
can move the Lady Frances the better. Meanwhile, the funeral
may proceed, and the poor old woman who still lies in that
coffin may go to her last resting-place alone."

  "Should you care to add the case to your annals, my dear
Watson," said Holmes that evening, "it can only be as an
example of that temporary eclipse to which even the best-balanced
mind may be exposed. Such slips are common to all mortals,
and the greatest is he who can recognize and repair them. To this
modified credit I may, perhaps, make some claim. My night was
haunted by the thought that somewhere a clue, a strange sen-
tence, a curious observation, had come under my notice and had
been too easily dismissed. Then, suddenly, in the gray of the
morning, the words came back to me. It was the remark of the
undertaker's wife, as reported by Philip Green. She had said, 'It
should be there before now. It took longer, being out of the
ordinary.' It was the coffin of which she spoke. It had been out
of the ordinary. That could only mean that it had been made to
some special measurement. But why? Why? Then in an instant I
remembered the deep sides, and the little wasted figure at the
bottom. Why so large a coffin for so small a body? To leave
room for another body. Both would be buried under the one
certificate. It had all been so clear, if only my own sight had not
been dimmed. At eight the Lady Frances would be buried. Our
one chance was to stop the coffin before it left the house.

  "It was a desperate chance that we might find her alive, but it
was a chance, as the result showed. These people had never, to
my knowledge, done a murder. They might shrink from actual
violence at the last. They could bury her with no sign of how she
met her end, and even if she were exhumed there was a chance
for them. I hoped that such considerations might prevail with
them. You can reconstruct the scene well enough. You saw the
horrible den upstairs, where the poor lady had been kept so
long. They rushed in and overpowered her with their chloro-
form, carried her down, poured more into the coffin to insure
against her waking, and then screwed down the lid. A clever
device, Watson. It is new to me in the annals of crime. If
our ex-missionary friends escape the clutches of Lestrade, I
shall expect to hear of some brilliant incidents in their future
career."

            The Advenfure of the Dying Detective

  Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-
suffering woman. Not only was her first-floor flat invaded at all
hours by throngs of singular and often undesirable characters but
her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularity in
his life which must have sorely tried her patience. His incredible
untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his occasional
revolver practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous
scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and dan-
ger which hung around him made him the very worst tenant in
London. On the other hand, his payments were princely. I have
no doubt that the house might have been purchased at the price
which Holmes paid for his rooms during the years that I was
with him.

  The landlady stood in the deepest awe of him and never dared
to interfere with him, however outrageous his proceedings might
seem. She was fond of him, too, for he had a remarkable
gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked
and distrusted the sex, but he was always a chivalrous opponent.
Knowing how genuine was her regard for him, I listened earnestly
to her story when she came to my rooms in the second year of
my married life and told me of the sad condition to which my
poor friend was reduced.

  "He's dying, Dr. Watson," said she. "For three days he has
been sinking, and I doubt if he will last the day. He would not
let me get a doctor. This morning when I saw his bones sticking
out of his face and his great bright eyes looking at me I could
stand no more of it. 'With your leave or without it, Mr. Holmes,
I am going for a doctor this very hour,' said I. 'Let it be Watson,
then,' said he. I wouldn't waste an hour in coming to him, sir, or
you may not see him alive."

  I was horrified for I had heard nothing of his illness. I need
not say that I rushed for my coat and my hat. As we drove back I
asked for the details.

  "There is little I can tell you, sir. He has been working at a
case down at Rotherhithe, in an alley near the river, and he has
brought this illness back with him. He took to his bed on
Wednesday afternoon and has never moved since. For these
three days neither food nor drink has passed his lips."

  "Good God! Why did you not call in a doctor?"

  "He wouldn't have it, sir. You know how masterful he is. I
didn't dare to disobey him. But he's not long for this world, as
you'll see for yourself the moment that you set eyes on him."

  He was indeed a deplorable spectacle. In the dim light of a
foggy November day the sick room was a gloomy spot, but it
was that gaunt, wasted face staring at me from the bed which
sent a chill to my heart. His eyes had the brightness of fever,
there was a hectic flush upon either cheek, and dark crusts clung
to his lips; the thin hands upon the coverlet twitched incessantly,
his voice was croaking and spasmodic. He lay listlessly as I
entered the room, but the sight of me brought a gleam of
recognition to his eyes.

  "Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days," said
he in a feeble voice, but with something of his old carelessness
of manner.

  "My dear fellow!" I cried, approaching him.

  "Stand back! Stand right back!" said he with the sharp impe-
riousness which I had associated only with moments of crisis.
"If you approach me, Watson, I shall order you out of the
house."

  "But why?"

  "Because it is my desire. Is that not enough?"

  Yes, Mrs. Hudson was right. He was more masterful than
ever. It was pitiful, however, to see his exhaustion.

  "I only wished to help," I explained.

  "Exactly! You will help best by doing what you are told."

  "Certainly, Holmes."

  He relaxed the austerity of his manner.

  "You are not angry?" he asked, gasping for breath.

  Poor devil, how could I be angry when I saw him lying in
such a plight before me?

  "It's for your own sake, Watson," he croaked.

  "For my sake?"

  "I know what is the matter with me. It is a coolie disease
from Sumatra -- a thing that the Dutch know more about than we,
though they have made little of it up to date. One thing only is
certain. It is infallibly deadly, and it is horribly contagious."

  He spoke now with a feverish energy, the long hands twitch-
ing and jerking as he motioned me away.

  "Contagious by touch, Watson -- that's it, by touch. Keep
your distance and all is well."

  "Good heavens, Holmes! Do you suppose that such a consid-
eration weighs with me for an instant? It would not affect me in
the case of a stranger. Do you imagine it would prevent me from
doing my duty to so old a friend?"

  Again I advanced, but he repulsed me with a look of furious
anger.

  "If you will stand there I will talk. If you do not you must
leave the room."

  I have so deep a respect for the extraordinary qualities of
Holmes that I have always deferred to his wishes, even when I
least understood them. But now all my professional instincts
were aroused. Let him be my master elsewhere, I at least was his
in a sick room.

  "Holmes," said I, "you are not yourself. A sick man is but a
child, and so I will treat you. Whether you like it or not, I will
examine your symptoms and treat you for them."

  He looked at me with venomous eyes.

  "If I am to have a doctor whether I will or not, let me at least
have someone in whom I have confidence," said he.

  "Then you have none in me?"

  "In your friendship, certainly. But facts are facts, Watson,
and, after all, you are only a general practitioner with very
limited experience and mediocre qualifications. It is painful to
have to say these things, but you leave me no choice."

  I was bitterly hurt.

  "Such a remark is unworthy of you, Holmes. It shows me
very clearly the state of your own nerves. But if you have no
confidence in me I would not intrude my services. Let me bring
Sir Jasper Meek or Penrose Fisher, or any of the best men in
London. But someone you must have, and that is final. If you
think that I am going to stand here and see you die without either
helping you myself or bringing anyone else to help you, then you
have mistaken your man."

  "You mean well, Watson," said the sick man with something
between a sob and a groan. "Shall I demonstrate your own
ignorance? What do you know, pray, of Tapanuli fever? What do
you know of the black Formosa corruption?"

  "I have never heard of either."

  "There are many problems of disease, many strange patholog-
ical possibilities, in the East, Watson." He paused after each
sentence to collect his failing strength. "I have learned so much
during some recent researches which have a medico-criminal
aspect. It was in the course of them that I contracted this
complaint. You can do nothing."

  "Possibly not. But I happen to know that Dr. Ainstree, the
greatest living authority upon tropical disease, is now in London.
All remonstrance is useless, Holmes, I am going this instant to
fetch him." I turned resolutely to the door.

  Never have I had such a shock! In an instant, with a tiger-
spring, the dying man had intercepted me. I heard the sharp snap
of a twisted key. The next moment he had staggered back to his
bed, exhausted and panting after his one tremendous outflame of
energy.

  "You won't take the key from me by force, Watson. I've got
you, my friend. Here you are, and here you will stay until I will
otherwise. But I'll humour you." (All this in little gasps, with
terrible struggles for breath between.) "You've only my own
good at heart. Of course I know that very well. You shall have
your way, but give me time to get my strength. Not now,
Watson, not now. It's four o'clock. At six you can go."

  "This is insanity, Holmes."

  "Only two hours, Watson. I promise you will go at six. Are
you content to wait?"

  "l seem to have no choice."

  "None in the world, Watson. Thank you, I need no help in
arranging the clothes. You will please keep your distance. Now,
Watson, there is one other condition that I would make. You will
seek help, not from the man you mention, but from the one that I
choose."

  "By all means."

  "The first three sensible words that you have uttered since you
entered this room, Watson. You will find some books over
there. I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels
when it pours electricity into a non-conductor? At six, Watson,
we resume our conversation."

  But it was destined to be resumed long before that hour, and
in circumstances which gave me a shock hardly second to that
caused by his spring to the door. I had stood for some minutes
looking at the silent figure in the bed. His face was almost
covered by the clothes and he appeared to be asleep. Then,
unable to settle down to reading, I walked slowly round the
room, examining the pictures of celebrated criminals with which
every wall was adorned. Finally, in my aimless perambulation, I
came to the mantelpiece. A litter of pipes, tobacco-pouches,
syringes, penknives, revolver-cartridges, and other debris was
scattered over it. In the midst of these was a small black and
white ivory box with a sliding lid. It was a neat little thing, and I
had stretched out my hand to examine it more closely when -- It
was a dreadful cry that he gave -- a yell which might have been
heard down the street. My skin went cold and my hair bristled at
that horrible scream. As I turned I caught a glimpse of a con-
vulsed face and frantic eyes. I stood paralyzed, with the little
box in my hand.

  "Put it down! Down, this instant, Watson -- this instant, I say!"
His head sank back upon the pillow and he gave a deep sigh of
relief as I replaced the box upon the mantelpiece. "I hate to have
my things touched, Watson. You know that I hate it. You fidget
me beyond endurance. You, a doctor -- you are enough to drive a
patient into an asylum. Sit down, man, and let me have my
rest!"

  The incident left a most unpleasant impression upon my mind.
The violent and causeless excitement, followed by this brutality
of speech, so far removed from his usual suavity, showed me
how deep was the disorganization of his mind. Of all ruins, that
of a noble mind is the most deplorable. I sat in silent dejection
until the stipulated time had passed. He seemed to have been
watching the clock as well as I, for it was hardly six before he
began to talk with the same feverish animation as before.

  "Now, Watson," said he. "Have you any change in your
pocket?"

  "Yes."

  "Any silver?"

  "A good deal."

  "How many half-crowns?"

  "I have five."

  "Ah, too few! Too few! How very unfortunate, Watson!
However, such as they are you can put them in your watchpocket.
And all the rest of your money in your left trouserpocket. Thank
you. It will balance you so much better like that."

  This was raving insanity. He shuddered, and again made a
sound between a cough and a sob.

  "You will now light the gas, Watson, but you will be very
careful that not for one instant shall it be more than half on. I
implore you to be careful, Watson. Thank you, that is excellent.
No, you need not draw the blind. Now you will have the
kindness to place some letters and papers upon this table within
my reach. Thank you. Now some of that litter from the mantel-
piece. Excellent, Watson! There is a sugar-tongs there. Kindly
raise that small ivory box with its assistance. Place it here among
the papers. Good! You can now go and fetch Mr. Culverton
Smith, of 13 Lower Burke Street."

  To tell the truth, my desire to fetch a doctor had somewhat
weakened, for poor Holmes was so obviously delirious that
it seemed dangerous to leave him. However, he was as eager
now to consult the person named as he had been obstinate in
refusing.

  "I never heard the name," said I.

  "Possibly not, my good Watson. It may surprise you to know
that the man upon earth who is best versed in this disease is not a
medical man, but a planter. Mr. Culverton Smith is a well-
known resident of Sumatra, now visiting London. An outbreak
of the disease upon his plantation, which was distant from
medical aid, caused him to study it himself, with some rather
far-reaching consequences. He is a very methodical person, and I
did not desire you to start before six, because I was well aware
that you would not find him in his study. If you could persuade
him to come here and give us the benefit of his unique experi-
ence of this disease, the investigation of which has been his
dearest hobby, I cannot doubt that he could help me."

  I give Holmes's remarks as a consecutive whole and will not
attempt to indicate how they were interrupted by gaspings for
breath and those clutchings of his hands which indicated the pain
from which he was suffering. His appearance had changed for
the worse during the few hours that I had been with him. Those
hectic spots were more pronounced, the eyes shone more brightly
out of darker hollows, and a cold sweat glimmered upon his
brow. He still retained, however, the jaunty gallantry of his
speech. To the last gasp he would always be the master.

  "You will tell him exactly how you have left me," said he.
"You will convey the very impression which is in your own
mind -- a dying man -- a dying and delirious man. Indeed, I can-
not think why the whole bed of the ocean is not one solid mass
of oysters, so prolific the creatures seem. Ah, I am wandering!
Strange how the brain controls the brain! What was I saying,
Watson?"

  "My directions for Mr. Culverton Smith."

  "Ah, yes, I remember. My life depends upon it. Plead with
him, Watson. There is no good feeling between us. His nephew,
Watson -- I had suspicions of foul play and I allowed him to see
it. The boy died horribly. He has a grudge against me. You will
soften him, Watson. Beg him, pray him, get him here by any
means. He can save me -- only he!"

  "I will bring him in a cab, if I have to carry him down to
it."

  "You will do nothing of the sort. You will persuade him to
come. And then you will return in front of him. Make any
excuse so as not to come with him. Don't forget, Watson. You
won't fail me. You never did fail me. No doubt there are natural
enemies which limit the increase of the creatures. You and I,
Watson, we have done our part. Shall the world, then, be
overrun by oysters? No, no; horrible! You'll convey all that is in
your mind."

  I left him full of the image of this magnificent intellect bab-
bling like a foolish child. He had handed me the key, and with a
happy thought I took it with me lest he should lock himself in.
Mrs. Hudson was waiting, trembling and weeping, in the pas-
sage. Behind me as I passed from the flat I heard Holmes's high,
thin voice in some delirious chant. Below, as I stood whistling
for a cab, a man came on me through the fog.

  "How is Mr. Holmes, sir?" he asked.

  It was an old acquaintance, Inspector Morton, of Scotland
Yard, dressed in unofficial tweeds.

  "He is very ill," I answered.

  He looked at me in a most singular fashion. Had it not been
too fiendish, I could have imagined that the gleam of the fanlight
showed exultation in his face.

  "I heard some rumour of it," said he.

  The cab had driven up, and I left him.

  Lower Burke Street proved to be a line of fine houses lying in
the vague borderland between Notting Hill and Kensington. The
particular one at which my cabman pulled up had an air of smug
and demure respectability in its old-fashioned iron railings, its
massive folding-door, and its shining brasswork. All was in
keeping with a solemn butler who appeared framed in the pink
radiance of a tinted electric light behind him.

  "Yes, Mr. Culverton Smith is in. Dr. Watson! Very good, sir,
I will take up your card."

  My humble name and title did not appear to impress Mr.
Culverton Smith. Through the half-open door I heard a high,
petulant, penetrating voice.

  "Who is this person? What does he want? Dear me, Staples,
how often have I said that I am not to be disturbed in my hours
of study?"

  There came a gentle flow of soothing explanation from the
butler.

  "Well, I won't see him, Staples. I can't have my work inter-
rupted like this. I am not at home. Say so. Tell him to come in
the morning if he really must see me."

  Again the gentle murmur.

  "Well, well, give him that message. He can come in the
morning, or he can stay away. My work must not be hindered."

  I thought of Holmes tossing upon his bed of sickness and
counting the minutes, perhaps, until I could bring help to him. It
was not a time to stand upon ceremony. His life depended upon
my promptness. Before the apologetic butler had delivered his
message I had pushed past him and was in the room.

  With a shrill cry of anger a man rose from a reclining chair
beside the fire. I saw a great yellow face, coarse-grained and
greasy, with heavy, double-chin, and two sullen, menacing gray
eyes which glared at me from under tufted and sandy brows. A
high bald head had a small velvet smoking-cap poised coquett-
ishly upon one side of its pink curve. The skull was of enormous
capacity, and yet as I looked down I saw to my amazement that
the figure of the man was small and frail, twisted in the shoul-
ders and back like one who has suffered from rickets in his
childhood.

  "What's this?" he cried in a high, screaming voice. "What is
the meaning of this intrusion? Didn't I send you word that I
would see you to-morrow morning?"

  "I am sorry," said I, "but the matter cannot be delayed. Mr.
Sherlock Holmes --"

  The mention of my friend's name had an extraordinary effect
upon the little man. The look of anger passed in an instant from
his face. His features became tense and alert.

  "Have you come from Holmes?" he asked.

  "I have just left him."

  "What about Holmes? How is he?"

  "He is desperately ill. That is why I have come."

  The man motioned me to a chair, and turned to resume his
own. As he did so I caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror
over the mantelpiece. I could have sworn that it was set in a
malicious and abominable smile. Yet I persuaded myself that it
must have been some nervous contraction which I had surprised,
for he turned to me an instant later with genuine concern upon
his features.

  "I am sorry to hear this," said he. "I only know Mr. Holmes
through some business dealings which we have had, but I have
every respect for his talents and his character. He is an amateur
of crime, as I am of disease. For him the villain, for me the
microbe. There are my prisons," he continued, pointing to a row
of bottles and jars which stood upon a side table. "Among those
gelatine cultivations some of the very worst offenders in the
world are now doing time."

  "It was on account of your special knowledge that Mr. Holmes
desired to see you. He has a high opinion of you and thought that
you were the one man in London who could help him."

  The little man started, and the jaunty smoking-cap slid to the
floor.

  "Why?" he asked. "Why should Mr. Holmes think that I
could help him in his trouble?"

  "Because of your knowledge of Eastern diseases."

  "But why should he think that this disease which he has
contracted is Eastern?"

  "Because, in some professional inquiry, he has been working
among Chinese sailors down in the docks."

  Mr. Culverton Smith smiled pleasantly and picked up his
smoking-cap.

  "Oh, that's it -- is it?" said he. "I trust the matter is not so
grave as you suppose. How long has he been ill?"

  "About three days."

  "Is he delirious?"

  "Occasionally."

  "Tut, tut! This sounds serious. It would be inhuman not to
answer his call. I very much resent any interruption to my work,
Dr. Watson, but this case is certainly exceptional. I will come
with you at once."

  I remembered Holmes's injunction.

  "I have another appointment," said I.

  "Very good. I will go alone. I have a note of Mr. Holmes's
address. You can rely upon my being there within half an hour at
most."

  It was with a sinking heart that I reentered Holmes's bedroom.
For all that I knew the worst might have happened in my
absence. To my enormous relief, he had improved greatly in the
interval. His appearance was as ghastly as ever, but all trace of
delirium had left him and he spoke in a feeble voice, it is true,
but with even more than his usual crispness and lucidity.

  "Well, did you see him, Watson?"

  "Yes; he is coming."

  "Admirable, Watson! Admirable! You are the best of mes-
sengers."

  "He wished to return with me."

  "That would never do, Watson. That would be obviously
impossible. Did he ask what ailed me?"

  "I told him about the Chinese in the East End."

  "Exactly! Well, Watson, you have done all that a good friend
could. You can now disappear from the scene."

  "I must wait and hear his opinion, Holmes."

  "Of course you must. But I have reasons to suppose that this
opinion would be very much more frank and valuable if he
imagines that we are alone. There is just room behind the head
of my bed, Watson."

  "My dear Holmes!"

  "I fear there is no alternative, Watson. The room does not
lend itself to concealment, which is as well, as it is the less
likely to arouse suspicion. But just there, Watson, I fancy that it
could be done." Suddenly he sat up with a rigid intentness upon
his haggard face. "There are the wheels, Watson. Quick, man,
if you love me! And don't budge, whatever happens -- whatever
happens, do you hear? Don't speak! Don't move! Just listen with
all your ears." Then in an instant his sudden access of strength
departed, and his masterful, purposeful talk droned away into the
low, vague murmurings of a semi-dellrious man.

  From the hiding-place into which I had been so swiftly hustled
I heard the footfalls upon the stair, with the opening and the
closing of the bedroom door. Then, to my surprise, there came a
long silence, broken only by the heavy breathings and gaspings
of the sick man. I could imagine that our visitor was standing by
the bedside and looking down at the sufferer. At last that strange
hush was broken.

  "Holmes!" he cried. "Holmes!" in the insistent tone of one
who awakens a sleeper. "Can't you hear me, Holmes?" There
was a rustling, as if he had shaken the sick man roughly by the
shoulder.

  "Is that you, Mr. Smith?" Holmes whispered. "I hardly
dared hope that you would come."

  The other laughed.

  "I should imagine not," he said. "And yet, you see, I am
here. Coals of fire, Holmes -- coals of fire!"

  "It is very good of you -- very noble of you. I appreciate your
special knowledge."

  Our visitor sniggered.

  "You do. You are, fortunately, the only man in London who
does. Do you know what is the matter with you?"

  "The same," said Holmes.

  "Ah! You recognize the symptoms?"

  "Only too well."

  "Well, I shouldn't be surprised, Holmes. I shouldn't be sur-
prised if it were the same. A bad lookout for you if it is. Poor
Victor was a dead man on the fourth day -- a strong, hearty
young fellow. It was certainly, as you said, very surprising that
he should have contracted an out-of-the-way Asiatic disease in
the heart of London -- a disease, too, of which I had made such a
very special study. Singular coincidence, Holmes. Very smart of
you to notice it, but rather uncharitable to suggest that it was
cause and effect."

  "I knew that you did it."

  "Oh, you did, did you? Well, you couldn't prove it, anyhow.
But what do you think of yourself spreading reports about me
like that, and then crawling to me for help the moment you are in
trouble? What sort of a game is that -- eh?"

  I heard the rasping, laboured breathing of the sick man. "Give
me the water!" he gasped.

  "You're precious near your end, my friend, but I don't want
you to go till I have had a word with you. That's why I give you
water. There, don't slop it about! That's right. Can you under-
stand what I say?"

  Holmes groaned.

  "Do what you can for me. Let bygones be bygones," he
whispered. "I'll put the words out of my head -- I swear I will.
Only cure me, and I'll forget it."

  "Forget what?"

  "Well, about Victor Savage's death. You as good as admitted
just now that you had done it. I'll forget it."

  "You can forget it or remember it, just as you like. I don't see
you in the witness-box. Quite another shaped box, my good
Holmes, I assure you. It matters nothing to me that you should
know how my nephew died. It's not him we are talking about.
It's you."

  "Yes, yes."

  "The fellow who came for me -- I've forgotten his name -- said
that you contracted it down in the East End among the sailors."

  "I could only account for it so."

  "You are proud of your brains, Holmes, are you not? Think
yourself smart, don't you? You came across someone who was
smarter this time. Now cast your mind back, Holmes. Can you
think of no other way you could have got this thing?"

  "I can't think. My mind is gone. For heaven's sake help
me! "

  "Yes, I will help you. I'll help you to understand just where
you are and how you got there. I'd like you to know before you
die."

  "Give me something to ease my pain."

  "Painful, is it? Yes, the coolies used to do some squealing
towards the end. Takes you as cramp, I fancy."

  "Yes, yes; it is cramp."

  "Well, you can hear what I say, anyhow. Listen now! Can
you remember any unusual incident in your life just about the
time your symptoms began?"

  "No, no; nothing."

  "Think again."

  "I'm too ill to think."

  "Well, then, I'll help you. Did anything come by post?"

  "By post?"

  "A box by chance?"

  "I'm fainting -- I'm gone!"

  "Listen, Holmes!" There was a sound as if he was shaking
the dying man, and it was all that I could do to hold myself quiet
in my hiding-place. "You must hear me. You shall hear me. Do
you remember a box -- an ivory box? It came on Wednesday.
You opened it -- do you remember?"

  "Yes, yes, I opened it. There was a sharp spring inside it.
Some joke --"

  "It was no joke, as you will find to your cost. You fool,
you would have it and you have got it. Who asked you to cross
my path? If you had left me alone I would not have hurt
you."

  "I remember," Holmes gasped. "The spring! It drew blood.
This box -- this on the table."

  "The very one, by George! And it may as well leave the room
in my pocket. There goes your last shred of evidence. But you
have the truth now, Holmes, and you can die with the knowledge
that I killed you. You knew too much of the fate of Victor
Savage, so I have sent you to share it. You are very near your
end, Holmes. I will sit here and I will watch you die."

  Holmes's voice had sunk to an almost inaudible whisper.

  "What is that?" said Smith. "Turn up the gas? Ah, the
shadows begin to fall, do they? Yes, I will turn it up, that I may
see you the better." He crossed the room and the light suddenly
brightened. "Is there any other little service that I can do you,
my friend?"

  "A match and a cigarette."

  I nearly called out in my joy and my amazement. He was
speaking in his natural voice -- a little weak, perhaps, but the very
voice I knew. There was a long pause, and I felt that Culverton
Smith was standing in silent amazement looking down at his
companion.

  "What's the meaning of this?" I heard him say at last in a
dry, rasping tone.

  "The best way of successfully acting a part is to be it," said
Holmes. "I give you my word that for three days I have tasted
neither food nor drink until you were good enough to pour me
out that glass of water. But it is the tobacco which I find most
irksome. Ah, here are some cigarettes." I heard the striking of a
match. "That is very much better. Halloa! halloa! Do I hear the
step of a friend?"

  There were footfalls outside, the door opened, and Inspector
Morton appeared.

  "All is in order and this is your man," said Holmes.

  The officer gave the usual cautions.

  "I arrest you on the charge of the murder of one Victor
Savage," he concluded.

  "And you might add of the attempted murder of one Sherlock
Holmes," remarked my friend with a chuckle. "To save an
invalid trouble, Inspector, Mr. Culverton Smith was good enough
to give our signal by turning up the gas. By the way, the prisoner
has a small box in the right-hand pocket of his coat which it
would be as well to remove. Thank you. I would handle it
gingerly if I were you. Put it down here. It may play its part in
the trial."

  There was a sudden rush and a scuffle, followed by the clash
of iron and a cry of pain.

  "You'll only get yourself hurt," said the inspector. "Stand
still, will you?" There was the click of the closing handcuffs.

  "A nice trap!" cried the high, snarling voice. "It will bring
you into the dock, Holmes, not me. He asked me to come here to
cure him. I was sorry for him and I came. Now he will pretend,
no doubt, that I have said anything which he may invent which
will corroborate his insane suspicions. You can lie as you like,
Holmes. My word is always as good as yours."

  "Good heavens!" cried Holmes. "I had totally forgotten him.
My dear Watson, I owe you a thousand apologies. To think that
I should have overlooked you! I need not introduce you to Mr.
Culverton Smith, since I understand that you met somewhat
earlier in the evening. Have you the cab below? I will follow you
when I am dressed, for I may be of some use at the station.

  "I never needed it more," said Holmes as he refreshed himself
with a glass of claret and some biscuits in the intervals of his
toilet. "However, as you know, my habits are irregular, and
such a feat means less to me than to most men. It was very
essential that I should impress Mrs. Hudson with the reality of
my condition, since she was to convey it to you, and you in turn
to him. You won't be offended, Watson? You will realize that
among your many talents dissimulation finds no place, and that
if you had shared my secret you would never have been able to
impress Smith with the urgent necessity of his presence, which
was the vital point of the whole scheme. Knowing his vindictive
nature, I was perfectly certain that he would come to look upon
his handiwork."

  "But your appearance, Holmes -- your ghastly face?"

  "Three days of absolute fast does not improve one's beauty,
Watson. For the rest, there is nothing which a sponge may not
cure. With vaseline upon one's forehead, belladonna in one's
eyes, rouge over the cheek-bones, and crusts of beeswax round
one's lips, a very satisfying effect can be produced. Malingering
is a subject upon which I have sometimes thought of writing a
monograph. A little occasional talk about half-crowns, oysters-,
or any other extraneous subject produces a pleasing effect of
delirium."

  "But why would you not let me near you, since there was in
truth no infection?"

  "Can you ask, my dear Watson? Do you imagine that I have
no respect for your medical talents? Could I fancy that your
astute judgment would pass a dying man who, however weak,
had no rise of pulse or temperature? At four yards, I could
deceive you. If I failed to do so, who would bring my Smith
within my grasp? No, Watson, I would not touch that box. You
can just see if you look at it sideways where the sharp spring
like a viper's tooth emerges as you open it. I dare say it was
by some such device that poor Savage, who stood between
this monster and a reversion, was done to death. My correspon-
dence, however, is, as you know, a varied one, and I am
somewhat upon my guard against any packages which reach
me. It was clear to me, however, that by pretending that he
had really succeeded in his design I might surprise a con-
fession. That pretence I have carried out with the thoroughness
of the true artist. Thank you, Watson, you must help me on
with my coat. When we have finished at the police-station I
think that something nutritious at Simpson's would not be out
of place."

                        His Last Bow

              An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

  It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August -- the most terrible 
August in the history of the world. One might have thought already that 
God's curse hung heavy over a degenerate world, for there was an awesome 
hush and a feeling of vague expectancy in the sultry and stagnant air. The 
sun had long set, but one blood-red gash like an open wound lay low in the 
distant west. Above, the stars were shining brightly, and below, the lights of 
the shipping glimmered in the bay. The two famous Germans stood beside 
the stone parapet of the garden walk, with the long, low, heavily gabled 
house behind them, and they looked down upon the broad sweep of the 
beach at the foot of the great chalk cliff on which Von Bork, like some 
wandering eagle, had perched himself four years before. They stood with 
their heads close together, talking in low, confidential tones. From below the 
two glowing ends of their cigars might have been the smouldering eyes of 
some malignant fiend looking down in the darkness.

  A remarkable man this Von Bork -- a man who could hardly be matched 
among all the devoted agents of the Kaiser. It was his talents which had 
first recommended him for the English mission, the most important mission 
of all, but since he had taken it over those talents had become more and 
more manifest to the half-dozen people in the world who were really in 
touch with the truth. One of these was his present companion, Baron Von 
Herling, the chief secretary of the legation, whose huge lOO-horse-power 
Benz car was blocking the country lane as it waited to waft its owner back 
to London.

  "So far as I can judge the trend of events, you will probably be back in 
Berlin within the week," the secretary was saying. "When you get there, my 
dear Von Bork, I think you will be surprised at the welcome you will receive. 
I happen to know what is thought in the highest quarters of your work in this 
country." He was a huge man, the secretary, deep, broad, and tall, with a 
slow, heavy fashion of speech which had been his main asset in his political 
career.

  Von Bork laughed.

  "They are not very hard to deceive," he remarked. "A more docile, simple 
folk could not be imagined."

  "I don't know about that," said the other thoughtfully. "They have strange 
limits and one must learn to observe them. It is that surface simplicity of 
theirs which makes a trap for the stranger. One's first impression is that 
they are entirely soft. Then one comes suddenly upon something very hard, 
and you know that you have reached the limit and must adapt yourself to 
the fact. They have, for example, their insular conventions which simply 
must be observed."

  "Meaning, 'good form' and that sort of thing?" Von Bork sighed as one who 
had suffered much.

  "Meaning British prejudice in all its queer manifestations. As an example I 
may quote one of my own worst blunders -- I can afford to talk of my 
blunders, for you know my work well enough to be aware of my successes. 
It was on my first arrival. I was invited to a week-end gathering at the 
country house of a cabinet minister. The conversation was amazingly 
indiscreet."

  Von Bork nodded. "I've been there," said he dryly.

  "Exactly. Well, I naturally sent a resume of the information to Berlin. 
Unfortunately our good chancellor is a little heavy-handed in these matters, 
and he transmitted a remark which showed that he was aware of what had 
been said. This, of course, took the trail straight up to me. You've no idea 
the harm that it did me. There was nothing soft about our British hosts on 
that occasion, I can assure you. I was two years living it down. Now you, with 
this sporting pose of yours --"

  "No, no, don't call it a pose. A pose is an artificial thing. This is quite 
natural. I am a born sportsman. I enjoy it."

  "Well, that makes it the more effective. You yacht against them, you hunt 
with them, you play polo, you match them in every game, your four-in-
hand takes the prize at Olympia. I have even heard that you go the length 
of boxing with the young officers. What is the result? Nobody takes you 
seriously. You are a 'good old sport,' 'quite a decent fellow for a German,' 
a hard-drinking, night-club, knock-about-town, devil-may-care young fellow. 
And all the time this quiet country house of yours is the centre of half the 
mischief in England, and the sporting squire the most astute secret-service 
man in Europe. Genius, my dear Von BorkÑgenius!"

  "You flatter me, Baron. But certainly I may claim that my four years in this 
country have not been unproductive. I've never shown you my little store. 
Would you mind stepping in for a moment?"

  The door of the study opened straight on to the terrace. Von Bork pushed it 
back, and, leading the way, he clicked the switch of the electric light. He 
then closed the door behind the bulky form which followed him and carefully 
adjusted the heavy curtain over the latticed window. Only when all these 
precautions had been taken and tested did he turn his sunburned aquiline 
face to his guest.

  "Some of my papers have gone," said he. "When my wife and the household 
left yesterday for Flushing they took the less important with them. I must, of 
course, claim the protection of the embassy for the others."

  "Your name has already been filed as one of the personal suite. There will 
be no difficulties for you or your baggage. Of course, it is just possible 
that we may not have to go. England may leave France to her fate. We are sure 
that there is no binding treaty between them."

  "And Belgium?"

  "Yes, and Belgium, too."

  Von Bork shook his head. "I don't see how that could be. There is a definite 
treaty there. She could never recover from such a humiliation."

  "She would at least have peace for the moment."

  "But her honour?"

  "Tut, my dear sir, we live in a utilitarian age. Honour is a mediaeval 
conception. Besides England is not ready. It is an inconceivable thing, but 
even our special war tax of fifty million, which one would think made our 
purpose as clear as if we had advertised it on the front page of the Times, 
has not roused these people from their slumbers. Here and there one hears a 
question. It is my business to find an answer. Here and there also there is an 
irritation. It is my business to soothe it. But I can assure you that so far 
as the essentials go -- the storage of munitions, the preparation for 
submarine attack, the arrangements for making high explosives -- nothing is 
prepared. How, then, can England come in, especially when we have stirred 
her up such a devil's brew of Irish civil war, window-breaking Furies, and God 
knows what to keep her thoughts at home."

  "She must think of her future."

  "Ah, that is another matter. I fancy that in the future we have our own very 
definite plans about England, and that your information will be very vital to 
us. It is to-day or to-morrow with Mr. John Bull. If he prefers to-day we are 
perfectly ready. If it is to-morrow we shall be more ready still. I should 
think they would be wiser to fight with allies than without them, but that is 
their own affair. This week is their week of destiny. But you were speaking 
of your papers." He sat in the armchair with the light shining upon his broad 
bald head, while he puffed sedately at his cigar.

  The large oak-panelled, book-lined room had a curtain hung in the further 
corner. When this was drawn it disclosed a large, brass-bound safe. Von Bork 
detached a small key from his watch chain, and after some considerable 
manipulation of the lock he swung open the heavy door.

  "Look!" said he, standing clear, with a wave of his hand.

  The light shone vividly into the opened safe, and the secretary of the 
embassy gazed with an absorbed interest at the rows of stuffed pigeon-holes 
with which it was furnished. Each pigeonhole had its label, and his eyes as he 
glanced along them read a long series of such titles as "Fords," "Harbour-
defences," "Aeroplanes," "Ireland," "Egypt," "Portsmouth forts," "The 
Channel," "Rosythe," and a score of others. Each compartment was bristling 
with papers and plans.

  "Colossal!" said the secretary. Putting down his cigar he softly clapped 
his fat hands.

  "And all in four years, Baron. Not such a bad show for the hard-drinking, 
hard-riding country squire. But the gem of my collection is coming and there 
is the setting all ready for it." He pointed to a space over which "Naval 
Signals" was printed.

  "But you have a good dossier there already."

  "Out of date and waste paper. The Admiralty in some way got the alarm 
and every code has been changed. It was a blow, Baron -- the worst setback in 
my whole campaign. But thanks to my check-book and the good Altamont all will 
be well to-night."

  The Baron looked at his watch and gave a guttural exclamation of 
disappointment.

  "Well, I really can wait no longer. You can imagine that things are moving 
at present in Carlton Terrace and that we have all to be at our posts. I 
had hoped to be able to bring news of your great coup. Did Altamont 
name no hour?"

  Von Bork pushed over a telegram.

        Will come without fail to-night and bring new sparking plugs.

                                                            ALTAMONT.

  "Sparking plugs, eh?"

  "You see he poses as a motor expert and I keep a full garage. In our 
code everything likely to come up is named after some spare part. If he 
talks of a radiator it is a battleship, of an oil pump a cruiser, and so on. 
Sparking plugs are naval signals."

  "From Portsmouth at midday," said the secretary, examining the 
superscription. "By the way, what do you give him?"

  "Five hundred pounds for this particular job. Of course he has a salary as 
well."

  "The greedy rogue. They are useful, these traitors, but I grudge them 
their blood money."

  "I grudge Altamont nothing. He is a wonderful worker. If I pay him well, 
at least he delivers the goods, to use his own phrase. Besides he is not a 
traitor. I assure you that our most pan-Germanic Junker is a sucking 
dove in his feelings towards England as compared with a real bitter Irish-
American."

  "Oh, an Irish-American?"

  "If you heard him talk you would not doubt it. Sometimes I assure you I 
can hardly understand him. He seems to have declared war on the King's 
English as well as on the English king. Must you really go? He may be 
here any moment."

  "No. I'm sorry, but I have already overstayed my time. We shall expect 
you early to-morrow, and when you get that signal book through the 
little door on the Duke of York's steps you can put a triumphant finis to 
your record in England. What! Tokay!"

  He indicated a heavily sealed dust-covered bottle which stood with two high 
glasses upon a salver.

  "May I offer you a glass before your journey?"

  "No, thanks. But it looks like revelry."

  "Altamont has a nice taste in wines, and he took a fancy to my Tokay. He is 
a touchy fellow and needs humouring in small things. I have to study him, I 
assure you." They had strolled out on to the terrace again, and along it to 
the further end where at a touch from the Baron's chauffeur the great car 
shivered and chuckled. "Those are the lights of Harwich, I suppose," said the 
secretary, pulling on his dust coat. "How still and peaceful it all seems. 
There may be other lights within the week, and the English coast a less 
tranquil place! The heavens, too, may not be quite so peaceful if all that 
the good Zeppelin promises us comes true. By the way, who is that?"

  Only one window showed a light behind them; in it there stood a lamp, and 
beside it, seated at a table, was a dear old ruddy-faced woman in a country 
cap. She was bending over her knitting and stopping occasionally to stroke a 
large black cat upon a stool beside her.

  "That is Martha, the only servant I have left."

  The secretary chuckled.

  "She might almost personify Britannia," said he, "with her complete self-
absorption and general air of comfortable somnolence. Well, au revoir, Von 
Bork!" With a final wave of his hand he sprang into the car, and a moment 
later the two golden cones from the headlights shot forward through the 
darkness. The secretary lay back in the cushions of the luxurious limousine, 
with his thoughts so full of the impending European tragedy that he hardly 
observed that as his car swung round the village street it nearly passed over 
a little Ford coming in the opposite direction.

  Von Bork walked slowly back to the study when the last gleams of the motor 
lamps had faded into the distance. As he passed he observed that his old 
housekeeper had put out her lamp and retired. It was a new experience to 
him, the silence and darkness of his widespread house, for his family and 
household had been a large one. It was a relief to him, however, to think that 
they were all in safety and that, but for that one old woman who had 
lingered in the kitchen, he had the whole place to himself. There was a good 
deal of tidying up to do inside his study and he set himself to do it until 
his keen, handsome face was flushed with the heat of the burning papers. A 
leather valise stood beside his table, and into this he began to pack very 
neatly and systematically the precious contents of his safe. He had hardly 
got started with the work, however, when his quick ears caught the sound of a 
distant car. Instantly he gave an exclamation of satisfaction, strapped up 
the valise, shut the safe, locked it, and hurried out on to the terrace. He 
was just in time to see the lights of a small car come to a halt at the gate. 
A passenger sprang out of it and advanced swiftly towards him, while the 
chauffeur, a heavily built, elderly man with a gray moustache, settled down 
like one who resigns himself to a long vigil.

  "Well?" asked Von Bork eagerly, running forward to meet his visitor.

  For answer the man waved a small brown-paper parcel triumphantly above 
his head.

  "You can give me the glad hand to-night, mister," he cried. "I'm bringing 
home the bacon at last."

  "The signals?"

  "Same as I said in my cable. Every last one of them, semaphore, lamp code, 
Marconi -- a copy, mind you, not the original. That was too dangerous. But 
it's the real goods, and you can lay to that." He slapped the German upon the 
shoulder with a rough familiarity from which the other winced.

  "Come in," he said. "I'm all alone in the house. I was only waiting for 
this. Of course a copy is better than the original. If an original were 
missing they would change the whole thing. You think it's all safe about the 
copy?"

  The Irish-American had entered the study and stretched his long limbs from 
the armchair. He was a tall, gaunt man of sixty, with clear-cut features and a 
small goatee beard which gave him a general resemblance to the caricatures 
of Uncle Sam. A halfsmoked, sodden cigar hung from the corner of his mouth, 
and as he sat down he struck a match and relit it. "Making ready for a 
move?" he remarked as he looked round him. "Say, mister," he added, as his 
eyes fell upon the safe from which the curtain was now removed, "you don't 
tell me you keep your papers in that?"

  "Why not?"

  "Gosh, in a wide-open contraption like that! And they reckon you to be 
some spy. Why, a Yankee crook would be into that with a can-
opener. If I'd known that any letter of mine was goin' to lie loose in a thing 
like that I'd have been a mug to write to you at all."

  "It would puzzle any crook to force that safe," Von Bork answered. "You 
won't cut that metal with any tool."

  "But the lock?"

  "No, it's a double combination lock. You know what that is?"

  "Search me," said the American.

  "Well, you need a word as well as a set of figures before you can get the 
lock to work." He rose and showed a doubleradiating disc round the keyhole. 
"This outer one is for the letters, thel inner one for the figures."

  "Well, well, that's fine."

  "So it's not quite as simple as you thought. It was four years ago that I 
had it made, and what do you think I chose for the word and figures?"

  "It's beyond me."

  "Well, I chose August for the word, and 1914 for the figures, and here we 
are."

  The American's face showed his surprise and admiration.

  "My, but that was smart! You had it down to a fine thing."

  "Yes, a few of us even then could have guessed the date. Here it is, and I'm 
shutting down to-morrow morning. "

  "Well, I guess you'll have to fix me up also. I'm not staying in this gol- 
darned country all on my lonesome. In a week or less, from what I see, John 
Bull will be on his hind legs and fair ramping. I'd rather watch him from 
over the water."

  "But you're an American citizen?"

  "Well, so was Jack James an American citizen, but he's doing time in 
Portland all the same. It cuts no ice with a British copper to tell him 
you're an American citizen. 'It's British law and order over here,' says he. 
By the way, mister, talking of Jack James, it seems to me you don't do much 
to cover your men."

  "What do you mean?" Von Bork asked sharply.

  "Well, you are their employer, ain't you? It's up to you to see that they 
don't fall down. But they do fall down, and when did you ever pick them up? 
There's James --"

  "It was James's own fault. You know that yourself. He was too self-willed 
for the job."

  "James was a bonehead -- I give you that. Then there was Hollis. "

  "The man was mad."

  "Well, he went a bit woozy towards the end. It's enough to make a man 
bughouse when he has to play a part from morning to night with a hundred 
guys all ready to set the coppers wise to him. But now there is Steiner --"

  Von Bork started violently, and his ruddy face turned a shade paler.

  "What about Steiner?"

  "Well, they've got him, that's all. They raided his store last night, and 
he and his papers are all in Portsmouth jail. You'll go off and he, poor 
devil, will have to stand the racket, and lucky if he gets off with his life. 
That's why I want to get over the water as soon as you do."

  Von Bork was a strong, self-contained man, but it was easy to see that the 
news had shaken him.

  "How could they have got on to Steiner?" he muttered. "That's the worst blow 
yet."

  "Well, you nearly had a worse one, for I believe they are not far off me."

  "You don't mean that!"

  "Sure thing. My landlady down Fratton way had some inquiries, and when I 
heard of it I guessed it was time for me to hustle. But what I want to know, 
mister, is how the coppers know these things? Steiner is the fifth man you've 
lost since I signed on with you, and I know the name of the sixth if I don't 
get a move on. How do you explain it, and ain't you ashamed to see your men 
go down like this?"

  Von Bork flushed crimson.

  "How dare you speak in such a way!"

  "If I didn't dare things, mister, I wouldn't be in your service. But I'll 
tell you straight what is in my mind. I've heard that with you German 
politicians when an agent has done his work you are not sorry to see him put 
away."

  Von Bork sprang to his feet.

  "Do you dare to suggest that I have given away my own agents!"

  "I don't stand for that, mister, but there's a stool pigeon or a cross 
somewhere, and it's up to you to find out where it is. Anyhow I am taking no 
more chances. It's me for little Holland, and the sooner the better."

  Von Bork had mastered his anger.

  "We have been allies too long to quarrel now at the very hour of victory," 
he said. "You've done splendid work and taken risks, and I can't forget it. By 
all means go to Holland, and you can get a boat from Rotterdam to New York. 
No other line will be safe a week from now. I'll take that book and pack it 
with the rest."

  The American held the small parcel in his hand, but made no motion to give 
it up.

  "What about the dough?" he asked.

  "The what?"

  "The boodle. The reward. The 500 pounds. The gunner turned damned nasty at 
the last, and I had to square him with an extra hundred dollars or it would 
have been nitsky for you and me. 'Nothin' doin'!' says he, and he meant it, 
too, but the last hundred did it. It's cost me two hundred pound from first 
to last, so it isn't likely I'd give it up without gettin' my wad. "

  Von Bork smiled with some bitterness. "You don't seem to have a very high 
opinion of my honour," said he, "you want the money before you give up the 
book."

  "Well, mister, it is a business proposition."

  "All right. Have your way." He sat down at the table and scribbled a check, 
which he tore from the book, but he refrained from handing it to his 
companion. "After all, since we are to be on such terms, Mr. Altamont," said 
he, "I don't see why I should trust you any more than you trust me. Do you 
understand?" he added, looking back over his shoulder at the American. 
"There's the check upon the table. I claim the right to examine that parcel 
before you pick the money up."

  The American passed it over without a word. Von Bork undid a winding of 
string and two wrappers of paper. Then he sat gazing for a moment in silent 
amazement at a small blue book which lay before him. Across the cover was 
printed in golden letters Practical Handbook of Bee Culture. Only for one 
instant did the master spy glare at this strangely irrelevant inscription. The 
next he was gripped at the back of his neck by a grasp of iron, and a 
chloroformed sponge was held in front of his writhing face.

  "Another glass, Watson!" said Mr. Sherlock Holmes as he extended the bottle 
of Imperial Tokay.

  The thickset chauffeur, who had seated himself by the table pushed 
forward his glass with some eagerness.

  "It is a good wine, Holmes."

  "A remarkable wine, Watson. Our friend upon the sofa has assured me 
that it is from Franz Josef's special cellar at the Schoenbrunn Palace. 
Might I trouble you to open the window for chloroform vapour does not 
help the palate."

  The safe was ajar, and Holmes standing in front of it was removing 
dossier after dossier, swiftly examining each, and then packing it neatly 
in Von Bork's valise. The German lay upon the sofa sleeping stertorously 
with a strap round his upper arms and another round his legs.
"We need not hurry ourselves, Watson. We are safe from interruption. 
Would you mind touching the bell? There is no one in the house except 
old Martha, who has played her part to admiration. I got her the situation 
here when first I took the matter up. Ah, Martha, you will be glad to hear 
that all is well."

  The pleasant old lady had appeared in the doorway. She curtseyed with a 
smile to Mr. Holmes, but glanced with some apprehension at the figure 
upon the sofa.

  "It is all right, Martha. He has not been hurt at all."

  "I am glad of that, Mr. Holmes. According to his lights he has been a kind 
master. He wanted me to go with his wife to Germany yesterday, but 
that would hardly have suited your plans, would it, sir?"

  "No, indeed, Martha. So long as you were here I was easy in my mind. We 
waited some time for your signal to-night."

  "It was the secretary, sir."

  "I know. His car passed ours."

  "I thought he would never go. I knew that it would not suit your plans, 
sir, to find him here."

  "No, indeed. Well, it only meant that we waited half an hour or so until I 
saw your lamp go out and knew that the coast was clear. You can report 
to me to-morrow in London, Martha, at Claridge's Hotel."

  "Very good, sir."

  "I suppose you have everything ready to leave."

  "Yes, sir. He posted seven letters to-day. I have the addresses as usual."

  "Very good, Martha. I will look into them to-morrow. Good-
night. These papers," he continued as the old lady vanished, "are not of 
very great imponance, for, of course, the information which they represent 
has been sent off long ago to the German government. These are the 
originals which could not safely be got out of the country."

  "Then they are of no use."

  "I should not go so far as to say that, Watson. They will at least show our 
people what is known and what is not. I may say that a good many of 
these papers have come tbrough me, and I need not add are thoroughly 
untrustworthy. It would brighten my declining years to see a German 
cruiser navigating the Solent according to the mine-field plans which I 
have furnished. But you, Watson" -- he stopped his work and took his old 
friend by the shoulders -- "I've hardly seen you in the light yet. How have 
the years used you? You look the same blithe boy as ever. "

  "I feel twenty years younger, Holmes. I have seldom felt so happy as when 
I got your wire asking me to meet you at Harwich with the car. But you, 
Holmes -- you have changed very little --  save for that horrible goatee."

  "These are the sacrifices one makes for one's country, Watson," said 
Holmes, pulling at his little tuft. "To-morrow it will be but a dreadful 
memory. With my hair cut and a few other superficial changes I shall no 
doubt reappear at Claridge's tomorrow as I was before this American 
stunt -- I beg your pardon, Watson, my well of English seems to be 
permanently defiled --  before this American job came my way."

  "But you have retired, Holmes. We heard of you as living the life of a 
hermit among your bees and your books in a small farm upon the South 
Downs."

  "Exactly, Watson. Here is the fruit of my leisured ease, the magnum opus of 
my latter years!" He picked up the volume from the table and read out the 
whole title, Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations 
upon the Segregation of the Queen. "Alone I did it. Behold the fruit of 
pensive nights and laborious days when I watched the little working gangs 
as once I watched the criminal world of London."

  "But how did you get to work again?"

  "Ah, I have often marvelled at it myself. The Foreign Minister alone I could 
have withstood, but when the Premier also deigned to visit my humble 
roof! The fact is, Watson, that this gentleman upon the sofa was a bit too 
good for our people. He was in a class by himself. Things were going wrong, 
and no one could understand why they were going wrong. Agents were suspected 
or even caught, but there was evidence of some strong and secret central 
force. It was absolutely necessary to expose it. Strong pressure was brought 
upon me to look into the matter. It has cost me two years, Watson, but they 
have not been devoid of excitement. When I say that I started my pilgrimage 
at Chicago, graduated in an Irish secret society at Buffalo, gave serious 
trouble to the constabulary at Skibbareen, and so eventually caught the eye 
of a subordinate agent of Von Bork, who recommended me as a likely man, you 
will realize that the matter was complex. Since then I have been honoured by 
his confidence, which has not prevented most of his plans going subtly wrong 
and five of his best agents being in prison. I watched them, Watson, and I 
picked them as they ripened. Well, sir, I hope that you are none the worse!"

  The last remark was addressed to Von Bork himself, who after much 
gasping and blinking had lain quietly listening to Holmes's statement. He 
broke out now into a furious stream of German invective, his face convulsed 
with passion. Holmes continued his swift investigation of documents while 
his prisoner cursed and swore.

  "Though unmusical, German is the most expressive of all languages," he 
observed when Von Bork had stopped from pure exhaustion. "Hullo! Hullo!" 
he added as he looked hard at the corner of a tracing before putting it in the 
box. "This should put another bird in the cage. I had no idea that the 
paymaster was such a rascal, though I have long had an eye upon him. 
Mister Von Bork, you have a great deal to answer for."

  The prisoner had raised himself with some difficulty upon the sofa and was 
staring with a strange mixture of amazement and hatred at his captor.
I shall get level with you, Altamont," he said, speaking with slow 
deliberation. "If it takes me all my life I shall get level with you!"

  "The old sweet song," said Holmes. "How often have I heard it in days gone 
by. It was a favourite ditty of the late lamented Professor Moriarty. Colonel 
Sebastian Moran has also been known to warble it. And yet I live and keep 
bees upon the South Downs."

  "Curse you, you double traitor!" cried the German, straining against his 
bonds and glaring murder from his furious eyes.

  "No, no, it is not so bad as that," said Holmes, smiling. "As my speech 
surely shows you, Mr. Altamont af Chicago had no existence in fact. I used 
him and he is gone."

  "Then who are you?"

  "It is really immaterial who I am, but since the matter seems to interest 
you, Mr. Von Bork, I may say that this is not my first acquaintance with the 
members of your family. I have done a good deal of business in Germany in 
the past and my name is probably familiar to you."

  "I would wish to know it," said the Prussian grimly.

  "It was I who brought about the separation between Irene Adler and the late 
King of Bohemia when yorur cousin Heinrich was the Imperial Envoy. It was I 
also who saved from murder, by the Nihilist Klopman, Count Von und Zu 
Grafenstein, who was your mother's elder brother. It was I --"

  Von Bork sat up in amazement.

  "There is only one man," he cried.

  "Exactly," said Holmes.

  Von Bork groaned and sank back on the sofa. "And most of that information 
came through you," he cried. "What is it worth? What have I done? It is my 
ruin forever!"

  "It is certainly a little untrustworthy," said Holmes. "It will require some 
checking and you have little time to check it. Your admiral may find the new 
guns rather larger than he expects, and the cruisers perhaps a trifle faster."

  Von Bork clutched at his own throat in despair.

  "There are a good many other points of defail which will, no doubt, come to 
light in good time. But youl have one quality which is very rare in a German, 
Mr. Von Bork: you are a sportsman and you will bear me no ill-will when you 
realize that you, who have outwitted so many other people, have at last been 
outwitted yourself. After all, you have done vour best for your country, and I 
have done my best for mine, and what could be more natural? Besides," he 
added, not unkindly, as he laid his hand upon the shoulder of the prostrate 
man, "it is better than to fall before some more ignoble foe. These papers are 
now ready. Watson. If you will help me with our prisoner, I think that we 
may get started for London at once."

  It was no easy task to move Von Bork, for he was a strong and a desperate 
man. Finally, holding either arm, the two friends walked him very slowly down 
the garden walk which he had trod with such proud confidence when he 
received the congratulations of the famous diplomatist only a few hours 
before. After a short, final struggle he was hoisted, still bound hand and 
foot, into the spare seat of the little car. His precious valise was wedged 
in beside him.

  "I trust that you are as comfortable as circumstances permit," said Holmes 
when the final arrangements were made. "Should I be guilty of a liberty if I 
lit a cigar and placed it between your lips?"

  But all amenities were wasted upon the angry German.

  "I suppose you realize, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said he, "that if your 
government bears you out in this treatment it becomes an act of war."

  "What about your government and all this treatment?" said Holmes, tapping 
the valise.

  "You are a private individual. You have no warrant for my arrest. The whole 
proceeding is absolutely illegal and outrageous."

  "Absolutely," said Holmes.

  "Kidnapping a German subject."

  "And stealing his private papers."

  "Well, you realize your position, you and your accomplice here. If I were to 
shout for help as we pass through the village --"

  "My dear sir, if you did anything so foolish you would probably enlarge the 
two limited titles of our village inns by giving us 'The Dangling Prussian' 
as a signpost. The Englishman is a patient creature, but at present his 
temper is a little inflamed, and it would be as well not to try him too far. 
No, Mr. Von Bork, you will go with us in a quiet, sensible fashion to 
Scotland Yard, whence you can send for your friend, Baron Von Herling, and 
see if even now you may not fill that place which he has reserved for you in 
the ambassadorial suite. As to you, Watson, you are joining us with your old 
service, as I understand, so London won't be out of your way. Stand with me 
here upon the terrace, for it may be the last quiet talk that we shall ever 
have."

  The two friends chatted in intimate converse for a few minutes, recalling 
once again the days of the past, while their prisoner vainly wriggled to undo 
the bonds that held him. As they turned to the car Holmes pointed back to the 
moonlit sea and shook a thoughtful head.

  "There's an east wind coming, Watson."

  "l think not, Holmes. It is very warm."

  "Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There's an 
east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It 
will be cold and bitter, Watson and a good many of us may wither before its 
blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger 
land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared. Start her up, 
Watson, for it's time that we were on our way. I have a check for five 
hundred pounds which should be cashed early, for the drawer is quite 
capable of stopping it if he can."

.

Colophon

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