Infomotions, Inc.The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes / Doyle, Arthur Conan



Author: Doyle, Arthur Conan
Title: The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes
Publisher: Wiretap Electronic Text Archive
Tag(s): holmes; watson; sherlock holmes; colonel; hall pycroft; english literature
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 96,466 words (short) Grade range: 7-10 (grade school) Readability score: 71 (easy)
Identifier: doyle-memoirs-386
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THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

[obi/Doyle/Memoirs]
This text is in the Public Domain.

Silver Blaze
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
The Yellow Face
The Stock-Broker's Clerk
The "Gloria Scott"
The Musgrave Ritual
The Reigate Puzzle
The Crooked Man
The Resident Patient
The Greek Interpreter
The Naval Treaty
The Final Problem

[This contains The Adventure of the Cardboard Box,
which was not present on OBI's copy.]

                    Silver Blaze

  "I am afraid, Watson that I shall have to go," said Holmes as
we sat down together to our breakfast one morning.

  "Go! Where to?"

  "To Dartmoor; to King's Pyland."

  I was not surprised. Indeed, my only wonder was that he had
not already been mixed up in this extraordinary case, which was
the one topic of conversation through the length and breadth of
England. For a whole day my companion had rambled about the
room with his chin upon his chest and his brows knitted, charg-
ing and recharging his pipe with the strongest black tobacco, and
absolutely deaf to any of my questions or remarks. Fresh editions
of every paper had been sent up by our news agent, only to be
glanced over and tossed down into a corner. Yet, silent as he
was, I knew perfectly well what it was over which he was
brooding. There was but one problem before the public which
could challenge his powers of analysis, and that was the singular
disappearance of the favourite for the Wessex Cup, and the
tragic murder of its trainer. When, therefore, he suddenly an-
nounced his intention of setting out for the scene of the drama, it
was only what I had both expected and hoped for.

  "I should be most happy to go down with you if I should not
be in the way," said I.

  "My dear Watson, you would confer a great favour upon me
by coming. And I think that your time will not be misspent, for
there are points about the case which promise to make it an
absolutely unique one. We have, I think, just time to catch our
train at Paddington, and I will go further into the matter upon our
journey. You would oblige me by bringing with you your very
excellent field-glass."

  And so it happened that an hour or so later I found myself in
the corner of a first-class carriage flying along en route for
Exeter, while Sherlock Holmes, with his sharp, eager face framed
in his ear-flapped travelling-cap, dipped rapidly into the bundle
of fresh papers which he had procured at Paddington. We had
left Reading far behind us before he thrust the last one of them
under the seat and offered me his cigar-case.

  "We are going well," said he, looking out of the window and
glancing at his watch. "Our rate at present is fifty-three and a
half miles an hour."

  "I have not observed the quarter-mile posts," said I.

  "Nor have I. But the telegraph posts upon this line are sixty
yards apart, and the calculation is a simple one. I presume that
you have looked into this matter of the murder of John Straker
and the disappearance of Silver Blaze?"

  "I have seen what the Telegraph and the Chronicle have to
say."

  "It is one of those cases where the art of the reasoner should
be used rather for the sifting of details than for the acquiring of
fresh evidence. The tragedy has been so uncommon, so com-
plete, and of such personal importance to so many people that
we are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture, and
hypothesis. The difficulty is to detach the framework of fact -- of
absolute undeniable fact -- from the embellishments of theorists
and reporters. Then, having established ourselves upon this sound
basis, it is our duty to see what inferences may be drawn and
what are the special points upon which the whole mystery turns.
On Tuesday evening I received telegrams from both Colonel
Ross, the owner of the horse, and from Inspector Gregory, who
is looking after the case, inviting my cooperation."

  "Tuesday evening!" I exclaimed. "And this is Thursday
morning. Why didn't you go down yesterday?"

  "Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson -- which is, I am
afraid, a more common occurrence than anyone would think
who only knew me through your memoirs. The fact is that I
could not believe it possible that the most remarkable horse in
England could long remain concealed, especially in so sparsely
inhabited a place as the north of Dartmoor. From hour to hour
yesterday I expected to hear that he had been found, and that his
abductor was the murderer of John Straker. When, however,
another morning had come and I found that beyond the arrest of
young Fitzroy Simpson nothing had been done, I felt that it was
time for me to take action. Yet in some ways I feel that yester-
day has not been wasted."

  "You have formed a theory, then?"

  "At least I have got a grip of the essential facts of the case. I
shall enumerate them to you, for nothing clears up a case so
much as stating it to another person, and I can hardly expect
your cooperation if I do not show you the position from which
we start."

  I lay back against the cushions, puffing at my cigar, while
Holmes, leaning forward, with his long, thin forefinger checking
off the points upon the palm of his left hand, gave me a sketch of
the events which had led to our journey.

  "Silver Blaze," said he, "is from the Somomy stock and
holds as brilliant a record as his famous ancestor. He is now in
his fifth year and has brought in turn each of the prizes of the
turf to Colonel Ross, his fortunate owner. Up to the time of the
catastrophe he was the first favourite for the Wessex Cup, the
betting being three to one on him. He has always, however, been
a prime favourite with the racing public and has never yet
disappointed them, so that even at those odds enormous sums of
money have been laid upon him. It is obvious, therefore, that
there were many people who had the strongest interest in pre-
venting Silver Blaze from being there at the fall of the flag next
Tuesday.

  "The fact was, of course, appreciated at King's Pyland, where
the colonel's training-stable is situated. Every precaution was
taken to guard the favourite. The trainer, John Straker, is a
retired jockey who rode in Colonel Ross's colours before he
became too heavy for the weighing-chair. He has served the
colonel for five years as jockey and for seven as trainer, and has
always shown himself to be a zealous and honest servant. Under
him were three lads, for the establishment was a small one,
containing only four horses in all. One of these lads sat up each
night in the stable, while the others slept in the loft. All three
bore excellent characters. John Straker, who is a married man
lived in a small villa about two hundred yards from the stables.
He has no children, keeps one maidservant, and is comfortably
off. The country round is very lonely, but about half a mile to
the north there is a small cluster of villas which have been built
by a Tavistock contractor for the use of invalids and others who
may wish to enjoy the pure Dartmoor air. Tavistock itself lies
two miles to the west, while across the moor, also about two
miles distant, is the larger training establishment of Mapleton,
which belongs to Lord Backwater and is managed by Silas
Brown. In every other direction the moor is a complete wilder-
ness, inhabited only by a few roaming gypsies. Such was the
general situation last Monday night when the catastrophe occurred.

  "On that evening the horses had been exercised and watered
as usual, and the stables were locked up at nine o'clock. Two of
the lads walked up to the trainer's house, where they had supper
in the kitchen, while the third, Ned Hunter, remained on guard.
At a few minutes after nine the maid, Edith Baxter, carried down
to the stables his supper, which consisted of a dish of curried
mutton. She took no liquid, as there was a water-tap in the
stables, and it was the rule that the lad on duty should drink
nothing else. The maid carried a lantern with her, as it was very
dark and the path ran across the open moor.

  "Edith Baxter was within thirty yards of the stables when a
man appeared out of the darkness and called to her to stop. As
she stepped into the circle of yellow light thrown by the lantern
she saw that he was a person of gentlemanly bearing, dressed in
a gray suit of tweeds, with a cloth cap. He wore gaiters and
carried a heavy stick with a knob to it. She was most impressed,
however, by the extreme pallor of his face and by the nervous-
ness of his manner. His age, she thought, would be rather over
thirty than under it.

  " 'Can you tell me where I am?' he asked. 'I had almost
made up my mind to sleep on the moor when I saw the light of
your lantern.'

  " 'You are close to the King's Pyland training stables,' said
she.

  " 'Oh, indeed! What a stroke of luck!' he cried. 'I understand
that a stable-boy sleeps there alone every night. Perhaps that is
his supper which you are carrying to him. Now I am sure that
you would not be too proud to earn the price of a new dress,
would you?' He took a piece of white paper folded up out of his
waistcoat pocket. 'See that the boy has this to-night, and you
shall have the prettiest frock that money can buy.'

  "She was frightened by the earnestness of his manner and ran
past him to the window through which she was accustomed to
hand the meals. It was already opened, and Hunter was seated at
the small table inside. She had begun to tell him of what had
happened when the stranger came up again.

  " 'Good-evening,' said he, looking through the window. 'I
wanted to have a word with you.' The girl has sworn that as he
spoke she noticed the corner of the little paper packet protruding
from his closed hand.

  " 'What business have you here?' asked the lad.

  " 'It's business that may put something into your pocket.'
said the other. 'You've two horses in for the Wessex Cup --
Silver Blaze and Bayard. Let me have the straight tip and you
won't be a loser. Is it a fact that at the weights Bayard could give
the other a hundred yards in five furlongs, and that the stable
have put their money on him?'

  " 'So, you're one of those damned touts!' cried the lad. 'I'll
show you how we serve them in King's Pyland.' He sprang up
and rushed across the stable to unloose the dog. The girl fled
away to the house, but as she ran she looked back and saw that
the stranger was leaning through the window. A minute later,
however, when Hunter rushed out with the hound he was gone,
and though he ran all round the buildings he failed to find any
trace of him."

  "One moment," I asked. "Did the stable-boy, when he ran
out with the dog, leave the door unlocked behind him?"

  "Excellent, Watson, excellent!" murmured my companion.
"The importance of the point struck me so forcibly that I sent a
special wire to Dartmoor yesterday to clear the matter up. The
boy locked the door before he left it. The window, I may add,
was not large enough for a man to get through.

  "Hunter waited until his fellow-grooms had returned, when he
sent a message to the trainer and told him what had occurred.
Straker was excited at hearing the account, although he does not
seem to have quite realized its true significance. It left him,
however, vaguely uneasy, and Mrs. Straker, waking at one in
the morning, found that he was dressing. In reply to her inquir-
ies, he said that he could not sleep on account of his anxiety
about the horses, and that he intended to walk down to the
stables to see that all was well. She begged him to remain at
home, as she could hear the rain pattering against the window,
but in spite of her entreaties he pulled on his large mackintosh
and left the house.

  "Mrs. Straker awoke at seven in the morning to find that her
husband had not yet returned. She dressed herself hastily, called
the maid, and set off for the stables. The door was open; inside,
huddled together upon a chair, Hunter was sunk in a state of
absolute stupor, the favourite's stall was empty, and there were
no signs of his trainer.

  "The two lads who slept in the chaff-cutting loft above the
harness-room were quickly aroused. They had heard nothing
during the night, for they are both sound sleepers. Hunter was
obviously under the influence of some powerful drug, and as no
sense could be got out of him, he was left to sleep it off while
the two lads and the two women ran out in search of the
absentees. They still had hopes that the trainer had for some
reason taken out the horse for early exercise, but on ascending
the knoll near the house, from which all the neighbouring moors
were visible, they not only could see no signs of the missing
favourite, but they perceived something which warned them that
they were in the presence of a tragedy.

  "About a quarter of a mile from the stables John Straker's
overcoat was flapping from a furze-bush. Immediately beyond
there was a bowl-shaped depression in the moor, and at the
bottom of this was found the dead body of the unfortunate
trainer. His head had been shattered by a savage blow from some
heavy weapon, and he was wounded on the thigh, where there
was a long, clean cut, inflicted evidently by some very sharp
instrument. It was clear, however, that Straker had defended
himself vigorously against his assailants, for in his right hand he
held a small knife, which was clotted with blood up to the
handle, while in his left he clasped a red and black silk cravat,
which was recognized by the maid as having been worn on the
preceding evening by the stranger who had visited the stables.
Hunter, on recovering from his stupor, was also quite positive as
to the ownership of the cravat. He was equally certain that the
same stranger had, while standing at the window, drugged his
curried mutton, and so deprived the stables of their watchman.
As to the missing horse, there were abundant proofs in the mud
which lay at the bottom of the fatal hollow that he had been there
at the time of the struggle. But from that morning he has
disappeared, and although a large reward has been offered, and
all the gypsies of Dartmoor are on the alert, no news has come of
him. Finally, an analysis has shown that the remains of his
supper left by the stable-lad contained an appreciable quantity of
powdered opium, while the people at the house partook of the
same dish on the same night without any ill effect.

  "Those are the main facts of the case, stripped of all surmise,
and stated as baldly as possible. I shall now recapitulate what the
police have done in the matter.

  "Inspector Gregory, to whom the case has been committed, is
an extremely competent officer. Were he but gifted with imagi-
nation he might rise to great heights in his profession. On his
arrival he promptly found and arrested the man upon whom
suspicion naturally rested. There was little difficulty in finding
him, for he inhabited one of those villas which I have men-
tioned. His name, it appears, was Fitzroy Simpson. He was a
man of excellent birth and education, who had squandered a
fortune upon the turf. and who lived now by doing a little quiet
and genteel book-making in the sporting clubs of London. An
examination of his betting-book shows that bets to the amount of
five thousand pounds had been registered by him against the
favourite. On being arrested he volunteered the statement that he
had come down to Dartmoor in the hope of getting some informa-
tion about the King's Pyland horses, and also about Desborough,
the second favourite, which was in charge of Silas Brown at the
Mapleton stables. He did not attempt to deny that he had acted as
described upon the evening before, but declared that he had no
sinister designs and had simply wished to obtain first-hand infor-
mation. When confronted with his cravat he turned very pale and
was utterly unable to account for its presence in the hand of the
murdered man. His wet clothing showed that he had been out in
the storm of the night before, and his stick, which was a penang-
lawyer weighted with lead, was just such a weapon as might, by
repeated blows, have inflicted the terrible injuries to which the
trainer had succumbed. On the other hand, there was no wound
upon his person, while the state of Straker's knife would show
that one at least of his assailants must bear his mark upon him.
There you have it all in a nutshell, Watson, and if you can give
me any light I shall be infinitely obliged to you."

  I had listened with the greatest interest to the statement which
Holmes, with characteristic clearness, had laid before me. Though
most of the facts were familiar to me, I had not sufficiently
appreciated their relative importance, nor their connection to
each other.

  "Is it not possible," I suggested, "that the incised wound
upon Straker may have been caused by his own knife in the
convulsive struggles which follow any brain injury?"

  "It is more than possible; it is probable," said Holmes. "In
that case one of the main points in favour of the accused
disappears."

  "And yet," said I, "even now I fail to understand what the
theory of the police can be."

  "I am afraid that whatever theory we state has very grave
objections to it," returned my companion. "The police imagine,
I take it, that this Fitzroy Simpson, having drugged the lad, and
having in some way obtained a duplicate key, opened the stable
door and took out the horse, with the intention, apparently, of
kidnapping him altogether. His bridle is missing, so that Simp-
son must have put this on. Then, having left the door open
behind him, he was leading the horse away over the moor when
he was either met or overtaken by the trainer. A row naturally
ensued. Simpson beat out the trainer's brains with his heavy
stick without receiving any injury from the small knife which
Straker used in self-defence, and then the thief either led the
horse on to some secret hiding-place, or else it may have bolted
during the struggle, and be now wandering out on the moors.
That is the case as it appears to the police, and improbable as it
is, all other explanations are more improbable still. However, I
shall very quickly test the matter when I am once upon the spot,
and until then I cannot really see how we can get much further
than our present position."

  It was evening before we reached the little town of Tavistock,
which lies, like the boss of a shield, in the middle of the huge
circle of Dartmoor. Two gentlemen were awaiting us in the
station -- the one a tall, fair man with lion-like hair and beard and
curiously penetrating light blue eyes; the other a small, alert
person, very neat and dapper, in a frock-coat and gaiters, with
trim little side-whiskers and an eyeglass. The latter was Colonel
Ross, the well-known sportsman; the other, Inspector Gregory; a
man who was rapidly making his name in the English detective
service.

  "I am delighted that you have come down, Mr. Holmes,"
said the colonel. "The inspector here has done all that could
possibly be suggested, but I wish to leave no stone unturned in
trying to avenge poor Straker and in recovering my horse."

  "Have there been any fresh developments?" asked Holmes.

  "I am sorry to say that we have made very little progress,"
said the inspector. "We have an open carriage outside, and as
you would no doubt like to see the place before the light fails,
we might talk it over as we drive."

  A minute later we were all seated in a comfortable landau and
were rattling through the quaint old Devonshire city. Inspector
Gregory was full of his case and poured out a stream of remarks,
while Holmes threw in an occasional question or interjection.
Colonel Ross leaned back with his arms folded and his hat tilted
over his eyes, while I listened with interest to the dialogue of the
two detectives. Gregory was formulating his theory, which was
almost exactly what Holmes had foretold in the train.

  "The net is drawn pretty close round Fitzroy Simpson," he
remarked, "and I believe myself that he is our man. At the same
time I recognize that the evidence is purely circumstantial, and
that some new development may upset it."

  "How about Straker's knife?"

  "We have quite come to the conclusion that he wounded
himself in his fall."

  "My friend Dr. Watson made that suggestion to me as we
came down. If so, it would tell against this man Simpson."

  "Undoubtedly. He has neither a knife nor any sign of a
wound. The evidence against him is certainly very strong. He
had a great interest in the disappearance of the favourite. He lies
under suspicion of having poisoned the stable-boy; he was un-
doubtedly out in the storm; he was armed with a heavy stick, and
his cravat was found in the dead man's hand. I really think we
have enough to go before a jury."

  Holmes shook his head. "A clever counsel would tear it all to
rags," said he. "Why should he take the horse out of the stable?
If he wished to injure it, why could he not do it there? Has a
duplicate key been found in his possession? What chemist sold
him the powdered opium? Above all, where could he, a stranger
to the district, hide a horse, and such a horse as this? What is his
own explanation as to the paper which he wished the maid to
give to the stable-boy?"

  "He says that it was a ten-pound note. One was found in his
purse. But your other difficulties are not so formidable as they
seem. He is not a stranger to the district. He has twice lodged at
Tavistock in the summer. The opium was probably brought from
London. The key, having served its purpose, would be hurled
away. The horse may be at the bottom of one of the pits or old
mines upon the moor."

  "What does he say about the cravat?"

  "He acknowledges that it is his and declares that he had lost
it. But a new element has been introduced into the case which
may account for his leading the horse from the stable."

  Holmes pricked up his ears.

  "We have found traces which show that a party of gypsies
encamped on Monday night within a mile of the spot where the
murder took place. On Tuesday they were gone. Now, presum-
ing that there was some understanding between Simpson and
these gypsies, might he not have been leading the horse to them
when he was overtaken, and may they not have him now?"

  "It is certainly possible."

  "The moor is being scoured for these gypsies. I have also
examined every stable and outhouse in Tavistock, and for a
radius of ten miles."

  "There is another training-stable quite close, I understand?"

  "Yes, and that is a factor which we must certainly not ne-
glect. As Desborough, their horse, was second in the betting,
they had an interest in the disappearance of the favourite. Silas
Brown, the trainer, is known to have had large bets upon the
event, and he was no friend to poor Straker. We have, however,
examined the stables, and there is nothing to connect him with
the affair."

  "And nothing to connect this man Simpson with the interests
of the Mapleton stables?"

  "Nothing at all."

  Holmes leaned back in the carriage, and the conversation
ceased. A few minutes later our driver pulled up at a neat little
red-brick villa with overhanging eaves which stood by the road.
Some distance off, across a paddock, lay a long gray-tiled
outbuilding. In every other direction the low curves of the moor,
bronze-coloured from the fading ferns, stretched away to the
sky-line, broken only by the steeples of Tavistock, and by a
cluster of houses away to the westward which marked the Mapleton
stables. We all sprang out with the exception of Holmes, who
continued to lean back with his eyes fixed upon the sky in front
of him, entirely absorbed in his own thoughts. It was only when
I touched his arm that he roused himself with a violent start and
stepped out of the carriage.

  "Excuse me," said he, turning to Colonel Ross, who had
looked at him in some surprise. "I was day-dreaming." There
was a gleam in his eyes and a suppressed excitement in his
manner which convinced me, used as I was to his ways, that his
hand was upon a clue, though I could not imagine where he had
found it.

  "Perhaps you would prefer at once to go on to the scene of the
crime, Mr. Holmes?" said Gregory.

  "I think that I should prefer to stay here a little and go into
one or two questions of detail. Straker was brought back here, I
presume?"

  "Yes, he lies upstairs. The inquest is to-morrow."

  "He has been in your service some years, Colonel Ross?"

  "I have always found him an excellent servant."

  "I presume that you made an inventory of what he had in his
pockets at the time of his death, Inspector?"

  "I have the things themselves in the sitting-room if you would
care to see them."

  "I should be very glad." We all filed into the front room and
sat round the central table while the inspector unlocked a square
tin box and lald a small heap of things before us. There was a
box of vestas, two inches of tallow candle. an A D P brier-root
pipe, a pouch of sealskin with half an ounce of long-cut Caven-
dish, a silver watch with a gold chain, five sovereigns in gold,
an aluminum pencil-case, a few papers, and an ivory-handled
knife with a very delicate, inflexible blade marked Weiss & Co.,
London.

  "This is a very singular knife," said Holmes, lifting it up and
examining it minutely. "I presume, as I see blood-stains upon it,
that it is the one which was found in the dead man's grasp.
Watson, this knife is surely in your line?"

  "It is what we call a cataract knife," said I.

  "I thought so. A very delicate blade devised for very delicate
work. A strange thing for a man to carry with him upon a rough
expedition, especially as it would not shut in his pocket."

  "The tip was guarded by a disc of cork which we found
beside his body," said the inspector. "His wife tells us that the
knife had lain upon the dressing-table, and that he had picked it
up as he left the room. It was a poor weapon, but perhaps the
best that he could lay his hands on at the moment."

  "Very possibly. How about these papers?"

  "Three of them are receipted hay-dealers' accounts. One of
them is a letter of instructions from Colonel Ross. This other is a
milliner's account for thirty-seven pounds fifteen made out by
Madame Lesurier, of Bond Street, to William Derbyshire. Mrs.
Straker tells us that Derbyshire was a friend of her husband's
and that occasionally his letters were addressed here."

  "Madame Derbyshire had somewhat expensive tastes," re-
marked Holmes, glancing down the account. "Twenty-two guin-
eas is rather heavy for a single costume. However, there appears
to be nothing more to learn, and we may now go down to the
scene of the crime."

  As we emerged from the sitting-room a woman, who had been
waiting in the passage, took a step forward and laid her hand
upon the inspector's sleeve. Her face was haggard and thin and
eager, stamped with the print of a recent horror.

  "Have you got them? Have you found them?" she panted.

  "No, Mrs. Straker. But Mr. Holmes here has come from
London to help us, and we shall do all that is possible."

  "Surely I met you in Plymouth at a garden-party some little
time ago, Mrs. Straker?" said Holmes.

  "No, sir; you are mistaken."

  "Dear me! Why, I could have sworn to it. You wore a
costume of dove-coloured silk with ostrich-feather trimming."

  "I never had such a dress, sir," answered the lady.

  "Ah, that quite settles it," said Holmes. And with an apology
he followed the inspector outside. A short walk across the moor
took us to the hollow in which the body had been found. At the
brink of it was the furze-bush upon which the coat had been
hung.

  "There was no wind that night, I understand," said Holmes.

  "None, but very heavy rain."

  "In that case the overcoat was not blown against the furze-
bush, but placed there."

  "Yes, it was laid across the bush."

  "You fill me with interest. I perceive that the ground has been
trampled up a good deal. No doubt many feet have been here
since Monday night."

  "A piece of matting has been laid here at the side, and we
have all stood upon that."

  "Excellent."

  "In this bag I have one of the boots which Straker wore, one
of Fitzroy Simpson's shoes, and a cast horseshoe of Silver
Blaze."

  "My dear Inspector, you surpass yourself!" Holmes took the
bag, and, descending into the hollow, he pushed the matting into
a more central position. Then stretching himself upon his face
and leaning his chin upon his hands, he made a careful study of
the trampled mud in front of him. "Hullo!" said he suddenly.
"What's this?" It was a wax vesta, half burned, which was so
coated with mud that it looked at first like a little chip of wood.

  "I cannot think how I came to overlook it," said the inspector
with an expression of annoyance.

  "It was invisible, buried in the mud. I only saw it because I
was looking for it."

  "What! you expected to find it?"

  "I thought it not unlikely."

  He took the boots from the bag and compared the impressions
of each of them with marks upon the ground. Then he clambered
up to the rim of the hollow and crawled about among the ferns
and bushes.

  "I am afraid that there are no more tracks," said the inspec-
tor. "I have examined the ground very carefully for a hundred
yards in each direction."

  "Indeed!" said Holmes, rising. "I should not have the imper-
tinence to do it again after what you say. But I should like to
take a little walk over the moor before it grows dark that I may
know my ground to-morrow, and I think that I shall put this
horseshoe into my pocket for luck."

  Colonel Ross, who had shown some signs of impatience at my
companion's quiet and systematic method of work, glanced at
his watch. "I wish you would come back with me, Inspector,"
said he. "There are several points on which I should like your
advice, and especially as to whether we do not owe it to the
public to remove our horse's name from the entries for the cup."

  "Certainly not," cried Holmes with decision. "I should let
the name stand."

  The colonel bowed. "I am very glad to have had your opin-
ion, sir," said he. "You will find us at poor Straker's house
when you have finished your walk, and we can drive together
into Tavistock."

  He turned back with the inspector, while Holmes and I walked
slowly across the moor. The sun was beginning to sink behind
the stable of Mapleton, and the long sloping plain in front of us
was tinged with gold, deepening into rich, ruddy browns where
the faded ferns and brambles caught the evening light. But the
glories of the landscape were all wasted upon my companion,
who was sunk in the deepest thought.

  "It's this way, Watson," said he at last. "We may leave the
question of who killed John Straker for the instant and confine
ourselves to finding out what has become of the horse. Now,
supposing that he broke away during or after the tragedy, where
could he have gone to? The horse is a very gregarious creature.
If left to himself his instincts would have been either to return to
King's Pyland or go over to Mapleton. Why should he run wild
upon the moor? He would surely have been seen by now. And
why should gypsies kidnap him? These people always clear out
when they hear of trouble, for they do not wish to be pestered by
the police. They could not hope to sell such a horse. They would
run a great risk and gain nothing by taking him. Surely that is
clear."

  "Where is he, then?"

  "I have already said that he must have gone to King's Pyland
or to Mapleton. He is not at King's Pyland. Therefore he is at
Mapleton. Let us take that as a working hypothesis and see what
it leads us to. This part of the moor, as the inspector remarked,
is very hard and dry. But it falls away towards Mapleton, and
you can see from here that there is a long hollow over yonder,
which must have been very wet on Monday night. If our suppo-
sition is correct, then the horse must have crossed that, and there
is the point where we should look for his tracks."

  We had been walking briskly during this conversation, and a
few more minutes brought us to the hollow in question. At
Holmes's request I walked down the bank to the right, and he to
the left, but I had not taken fifty paces before I heard him give a
shout and saw him waving his hand to me. The track of a horse
was plainly outlined in the soft earth in front of him, and the
shoe which he took from his pocket exactly fitted the impression.

  "See the value of imagination," said Holmes. "It is the one
quality which Gregory lacks. We imagined what might have
happened, acted upon the supposition, and find ourselves justi-
fied. Let us proceed."

  We crossed the marshy bottom and passed over a quarter of a
mile of dry, hard turf. Again the ground sloped, and again we
came on the tracks. Then we lost them for half a mile, but only
to pick them up once more quite close to Mapleton. It was
Holmes who saw them first, and he stood pointing with a look of
triumph upon his face. A man's track was visible beside the
horse's.

  "The horse was alone before," I cried.

  "Quite so. It was alone before. Hullo, what is this?"

  The double track turned sharp off and took the direction of
King's Pyland. Holmes whistled, and we both followed along
after it. His eyes were on the trail, but I happened to look a little
to one side and saw to my surprise the same tracks coming back
again in the opposite direction.

  "One for you, Watson," said Holmes when I pointed it out.
"You have saved us a long walk, which would have brought us
back on our own traces. Let us follow the return track."

  We had not to go far. It ended at the paving of asphalt which
led up to the gates of the Mapleton stables. As we approached, a
groom ran out from them.

  "We don't want any loiterers about here," said he.

  "I only wished to ask a question," said Holmes, with his
finger and thumb in his waistcoat pocket. "Should I be too early
to see your master, Mr. Silas Brown, if I were to call at five
o'clock to-morrow morning?"

  "Bless you, sir, if anyone is about he will be, for he is always
the first stirring. But here he is, sir, to answer your questions for
himself. No, sir, no, it is as much as my place is worth to let
him see me touch your money. Afterwards, if you like."

  As Sherlock Holmes replaced the half-crown which he had
drawn from his pocket, a fierce-looking elderly man strode out
from the gate with a hunting-crop swinging in his hand.

  "What's this, Dawson!" he cried. "No gossiping! Go about
your business! And you, what the devil do you want here?"

  "Ten minutes' talk with you, my good sir," said Holmes in
the sweetest of voices.

  "I've no time to talk to every gadabout. We want no strangers
here. Be off, or you may find a dog at your heels."

  Holmes leaned forward and whispered something in the train-
er's ear. He started violently and flushed to the temples.

  "It's a lie!" he shouted. "An infernal lie!"

  "Very good. Shall we argue about it here in public or talk it
over in your parlour?"

  "Oh, come in if you wish to."

  Holmes smiled. "I shall not keep you more than a few min-
utes, Watson." said he. "Now. Mr. Brown. I am quite at your
disposal."

  It was twenty minutes, and the reds had all faded into grays
before Holmes and the trainer reappeared. Never have I seen
such a change as had been brought about in Silas Brown in that
short time. His face was ashy pale, beads of perspiration shone
upon his brow, and his hands shook until the hunting-crop
wagged like a branch in the wind. His bullying, overbearing
manner was all gone too, and he cringed along at my compan-
ion's side like a dog with its master.

  "Your instructions will be done. It shall all be done," said he.

  "There must be no mistake," said Holmes, looking round at
him. The other winced as he read the menace in his eyes.

  "Oh, no, there shall be no mistake. It shall be there. Should I
change it first or not?"

  Holmes thought a little and then burst out laughing. "No,
don't," said he, "I shall write to you about it. No tricks, now,
or --"

  "Oh, you can trust me, you can trust me!"

  "Yes, I think I can. Well, you shall hear from me to-morrow."
He turned upon his heel, disregarding the trembling hand which
the other held out to him, and we set off for King's Pyland.

  "A more perfect compound of the bully, coward, and sneak
than Master Silas Brown I have seldom met with," remarked
Holmes as we trudged along together.

  "He has the horse, then?"

  "He tried to bluster out of it, but I described to him so exactly
what his actions had been upon that morning that he is convinced
that I was watching him. Of course you observed the peculiarly
square toes in the impressions, and that his own boots exactly
corresponded to them. Again, of course no subordinate would
have dared to do such a thing. I described to him how, when
according to his custom he was the first down, he perceived a
strange horse wandering over the moor. How he went out to it,
and his astonishment at recognizing, from the white forehead
which has given the favourite its name, that chance had put in
his power the only horse which could beat the one upon which
he had put his money. Then I described how his first impulse
had been to lead him back to King's Pyland, and how the devil
had shown him how he could hide the horse until the race was
over, and how he had led it back and concealed it at Mapleton.
When I told him every detail he gave it up and thought only of
saving his own skin."

  "But his stables had been searched?"

  "Oh, an old horse-faker like him has many a dodge."

  "But are you not afraid to leave the horse in his power now
since he has every interest in injuring it?"

  "My dear fellow, he will guard it as the apple of his eye. He
knows that his only hope of mercy is to produce it safe."

  "Colonel Ross did not impress me as a man who would be
likely to show much mercy in any case."

  "The matter does not rest with Colonel Ross. I follow my
own methods and tell as much or as little as I choose. That is the
advantage of being unofficial. I don't know whether you ob-
served it, Watson, but the colonel's manner has been just a trifle
cavalier to me. I am inclined now to have a little amusement at
his expense. Say nothing to him about the horse."

  "Certainly not without your permission."

  "And of course this is all quite a minor point compared to the
question of who killed John Straker."

  "And you will devote yourself to that?"

  "On the contrary, we both go back to London by the night
train."

  I was thunderstruck by my friend's words. We had only been
a few hours in Devonshire, and that he should give up an
investigation which he had begun so brilliantly was quite incom-
prehensible to me. Not a word more could I draw from him until
we were back at the trainer's house. The colonel and the inspec-
tor were awaiting us in the parlour.

  "My friend and I return to town by the night-express," said
Holmes. "We have had a charming little breath of your beautiful
Dartmoor air."

  The inspector opened his eyes, and the colonel's lip curled in
a sneer.

  "So you despair of arresting the murderer of poor Straker,"
said he.

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders. "There are certainly grave
difficulties in the way," said he. "I have every hope, however,
that your horse will start upon Tuesday, and I beg that you will
have your jockey in readiness. Might I ask for a photograph of
Mr. John Straker?"

  The inspector took one from an envelope and handed it to
him.

  "My dear Gregory, you anticipate all my wants. If I might ask
you to wait here for an instant, I have a question which I should
like to put to the maid."

  "I must say that I am rather disappointed in our London
consultant," said Colonel Ross bluntly as my friend left the
room. "I do not see that we are any further than when he
came."

  "At least you have his assurance that your horse will run,"
said I.

  "Yes, I have his assurance," said the colonel with a shrug of
his shoulders. "I should prefer to have the horse."

  I was about to make some reply in defence of my friend when
he entered the room again.

  "Now, gentlemen," said he, "I am quite ready for Tavistock."

  As we stepped into the carriage one of the stable-lads held the
door open for us. A sudden idea seemed to occur to Holmes, for
he leaned forward and touched the lad upon the sleeve.

  "You have a few sheep in the paddock," he said. "Who
attends to them?"

  "I do, sir."

  "Have you noticed anything amiss with them of late?"

  "Well, sir, not of much account, but three of them have gone
lame, sir."

  I could see that Holmes was extremely pleased, for he chuck-
led and rubbed his hands together.

  "A long shot, Watson, a very long shot," said he, pinching
my arm. "Gregory, let me recommend to your attention this
singular epidemic among the sheep. Drive on, coachman!"

  Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor
opinion which he had formed of my companion's ability, but I
saw by the inspector's face that his attention had been keenly
aroused.

  "You consider that to be important?" he asked.

  "Exceedingly so."

  "Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my
attention?"

  "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

  "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

  "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

  Four days later Holmes and I were again in the train, bound
for Winchester to see the race for the Wessex Cup. Colonel Rloss
met us by appointment outside the station, and we drove in his
drag to the course beyond the town. His face was grave, and his
manner was cold in the extreme.

  "I have seen nothing of my horse," said he.

  "I suppose that you would know him when you saw him?"
asked Holmes.

  The colonel was very angry. "I have been on the turf for
twenty years and never was asked such a question as that be-
fore," said he. "A child would know Silver Blaze with his white
forehead and his mottled off-foreleg."

  "How is the betting?"

  "Well, that is the curious part of it. You could have got
fifteen to one yesterday, but the price has become shorter and
shorter, until you can hardly get three to one now."

  "Hum!" said Holmes. "Somebody knows something, that is
clear."

  As the drag drew up in the enclosure near the grandstand I
glanced at the card to see the entries.

      Wessex Plate [it ran] 50 sovs. each h ft with 1000 sovs.

    added, for four and five year olds. Second, 300 pounds. Third,

    200 pounds. New course (one mile and five furlongs).

    1 . Mr. Heath Newton's The Negro. Red cap. Cinnamon jacket.

    2. Colonel Wardlaw's Pugilist. Pink cap. Blue and black

       jacket.

    3. Lord Backwater's Desborough. Yellow cap and sleeves.

    4. Colonel Ross's Silver Blaze. Black cap. Red jacket.

    5. Duke of Balmoral's Iris. Yellow and black stripes.

    6. Lord Singleford's Rasper. Purple cap. Black sleeves.

  "We scratched our other one and put all hopes on your
word," said the colonel. "Why, what is that? Silver Blaze
favourite?"

  "Five to four against Silver Blaze!" roared the ring. "Five to
four against Silver Blaze! Five to fifteen against Desborough!
Five to four on the field!"

  "There are the numbers up," I cried. "They are all six
there."

  "All six there? Then my horse is running," cried the colonel
in great agitation. "But I don't see him. My colours have not
passed."

  "Only five have passed. This must be he."

  As I spoke a powerful bay horse swept out from the weighing
enclosure and cantered past us, bearing on its back the well-
known black and red of the colonel.

  "That's not my horse," cried the owner. "That beast has not
a white hair upon its body. What is this that you have done, Mr.
Holmes?"

  "Well, well, let us see how he gets on," said my friend
imperturbably. For a few minutes he gazed through my field-
glass. "Capital! An excellent start!" he cried suddenly. "There
they are, coming round the curve!"

  From our drag we had a superb view as they came up the
straight. The six horses were so close together that a carpet
could have covered them, but halfway up the yellow of the
Mapleton stable showed to the front. Before they reached us,
however, Desborough's bolt was shot, and the colonel's horse,
coming away with a rush, passed the post a good six lengths
before its rival, the Duke of Balmoral's Iris making a bad
third.

  "It's my race, anyhow," gasped the colonel, passing his hand
over his eyes. "I confess that I can make neither head nor tail of
it. Don't you think that you have kept up your mystery long
enough, Mr. Holmes?"

  "Certainly, Colonel, you shall know everything. Let us all go
round and have a look at the horse together. Here he is," he
continued as we made our way into the weighing enclosure,
where only owners and their friends find admittance. "You have
only to wash his face and his leg in spirits of wine, and you will
find that he is the same old Silver Blaze as ever."

  "You take my breath away!"

  "I found him in the hands of a faker and took the liberty of
running him just as he was sent over."

  "My dear sir, you have done wonders. The horse looks very fit
and well. It never went better in its life. I owe you a thousand
apologies for having doubted your ability. You have done me a
great service by recovering my horse. You would do me a
greater still if you could lay your hands on the murderer of John
Straker."

  "I have done so," said Holmes quietly.

  The colonel and I stared at him in amazement. "You have got
him! Where is he, then?"

  "He is here."

  "Here! Where?"

  "In my company at the present moment."

  The colonel flushed angrily. "I quite recognize that I am
under obligations to you, Mr. Holmes," said he, "but I must
regard what you have just said as either a very bad joke or an
insult."

  Sherlock Holmes laughed. "I assure you that I have not associ-
ated you with the crime, Colonel," said he. "The real murderer
is standing immediately behind you." He stepped past and laid
his hand upon the glossy neck of the thoroughbred.

  "The horse!" cried both the colonel and myself.

  "Yes, the horse. And it may lessen his guilt if I say that it was
done in self-defence, and that John Straker was a man who was
entirely unworthy of your confidence. But there goes the bell,
and as I stand to win a little on this next race, I shall defer a
lengthy explanation until a more fitting time."

  We had the corner of a Pullman car to ourselves that evening
as we whirled back to London, and I fancy that the journey was
a short one to Colonel Ross as well as to myself as we listened to
our companion's narrative of the events which had occurred at the
Dartmoor training-stables upon that Monday night, and the means
by which he had unravelled them.

  "I confess," said he, "that any theories which I had formed
from the newspaper reports were entirely erroneous. And yet
there were indications there, had they not been overlaid by other
details which concealed their true import. I went to Devonshire
with the conviction that Fitzroy Simpson was the true culprit,
although, of course, I saw that the evidence against him was by
no means complete. It was while I was in the carriage, just as
we reached the trainer's house, that the immense significance of
the curried mutton occurred to me. You may remember that I
was distrait and remained sitting after you had all alighted. I
was marvelling in my own mind how I could possibly have
overlooked so obvious a clue."

  "I confess," said the colonel, "that even now I cannot see how
it helps us."

  "It was the first link in my chain of reasoning. Powdered
opium is by no means tasteless. The flavour is not disagreeable,
but it is perceptible. Were it mixed with any ordinary dish the
eater would undoubtedly detect it and would probably eat no
more. A curry was exactly the medium which would disguise
this taste. By no possible supposition could this stranger, Fitzroy
Simpson, have caused curry to be served in the trainer's family
that night, and it is surely too monstrous a coincidence to
suppose that he happened to come along with powdered opium
upon the very night when a dish happened to be served which
would disguise the flavour. That is unthinkable. Therefore Simp-
son becomes eliminated from the case, and our attention centres
upon Straker and his wife, the only two people who could have
chosen curried mutton for supper that night. The opium was
added after the dish was set aside for the stable-boy, for the
others had the same for supper with no ill effects. Which of
them, then, had access to that dish without the maid seeing them?

  "Before deciding that question I had grasped the significance
of the silence of the dog, for one true inference invariably
suggests others. The Simpson incident had shown me that a dog
was kept in the stables, and yet, though someone had been in
and had fetched out a horse, he had not barked enough to arouse
the two lads in the loft. Obviously the midnight visitor was
someone whom the dog knew well.

  "I was already convinced, or almost convinced, that John
Straker went down to the stables in the dead of the night and
took out Silver Blaze. For what purpose? For a dishonest one,
obviously, or why should he drug his own stable-boy? And yet I
was at a loss to know why. There have been cases before now
where trainers have made sure of great sums of money by laying
against their own horses through agents and then preventing
them from winning by fraud. Sometimes it is a pulling jockey.
Sometimes it is some surer and subtler means. What was it here?
I hoped that the contents of his pockets might help me to form a
conclusion.

  "And they did so. You cannot have forgotten the singular
knife which was found in the dead man's hand, a knife which
certainly no sane man would choose for a weapon. It was, as Dr.
Watson told us, a form of knife which is used for the most
delicate operations known in surgery. And it was to be used for a
delicate operation that night. You must know, with your wide
experience of turf matters, Colonel Ross, that it is possible to
make a slight nick upon the tendons of a horse's ham, and to do
it subcutaneously, so as to leave absolutely no trace. A horse so
treated would develop a slight lameness, which would be put
down to a strain in exercise or a touch of rheumatism, but never
to foul play."

  "Villain! Scoundrel!" cried the colonel.

  "We have here the explanation of why John Straker wished to
take the horse out on to the moor. So spirited a creature would
have certainly roused the soundest of sleepers when it felt the
prick of the knife. It was absolutely necessary to do it in the
open air."

  "I have been blind!" cried the colonel. "Of course that was
why he needed the candle and struck the match."

  "Undoubtedly. But in examining his belongings I was fortu-
nate enough to discover not only the method of the crime but
even its motives. As a man of the world, Colonel, you know that
men do not carry other people's bills about in their pockets. We
have most of us quite enough to do to settle our own. I at once
concluded that Straker was leading a double life and keeping a
second establishment. The nature of the bill showed that there
was a lady in the case, and one who had expensive tastes.
Liberal as you are with your servants, one can hardly expect that
they can buy twenty-guinea walking dresses for their ladies. I
questioned Mrs. Straker as to the dress without her knowing it,
and, having satisfied myself that it had never reached her, I
made a note of the milliner's address and felt that by calling
there with Straker's photograph I could easily dispose of the
mythical Derbyshire.

  "From that time on all was plain. Straker had led out the
horse to a hollow where his light would be invisible. Simpson in
his flight had dropped his cravat, and Straker had picked it
up -- with some idea, perhaps, that he might use it in securing the
horse's leg. Once in the hollow, he had got behind the horse and
had struck a light; but the creature, frightened at the sudden
glare, and with the strange instinct of animals feeling that some
mischief was intended, had lashed out, and the steel shoe had
struck Straker full on the forehead. He had already, in spite of
the rain, taken off his overcoat in order to do his delicate task,
and so, as he fell, his knife gashed his thigh. Do I make it
clear?"

  "Wonderful!" cried the colonel. "Wonderful! You might
have been there!"

   "My final shot was, I confess. a very long one. It struck me
that so astute a man as Straker would not undertake this delicate
tendon-nicking without a little practise. What could he practise
on? My eyes fell upon the sheep. and I asked a question which,
rather to my surprise, showed that my surmise was correct.

  "When I returned to London I called upon the milliner, who
had recognized Straker as an excellent customer of the name of
Derbyshire. who had a very dashing wife, with a strong partiality
for expensive dresses. I have no doubt that this woman had
plunged him over head and ears in debt, and so led him into this
miserable plot."

  "You have explained all but one thing," cried the colonel.
"Where was the horse?"

  "Ah, it bolted. and was cared for by one of your neighbours.
We must have an amnesty in that direction, I think. This is
Clapham Junction. if I am not mistaken, and we shall be in
Victoria in less than ten minutes. If you care to smoke a cigar in
our rooms, Colonel. I shall be happy to give you any other
details which might interest you."

                The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

  In choosing a few typical cases which illustrate the remarkable
mental qualities of my friend, Sherlock Holmes, I have endeav-
oured, as far as possible, to select those which presented the
minimum of sensationalism, while offering a fair field for his
talents. It is, however, unfortunately impossible entirely to sepa-
rate the sensational from the criminal, and a chronicler is left in
the dilemma that he must either sacrifice details which are
essential to his statement and so give a false impression of the
problem, or he must use matter which chance, and not choice,
has provided him with. With this short preface I shall turn to my
notes of what proved to be a strange, though a peculiarly terri-
ble, chain of events.

  It was a blazing hot day in August. Baker Street was like an
oven, and the glare of the sunlight upon the yellow brickwork of
the house across the road was painful to the eye. It was hard to
believe that these were the same walls which loomed so gloomily
through the fogs of winter. Our blinds were half-drawn, and
Holmes lay curled upon the sofa, reading and re-reading a letter
which he had received by the morning post. For myself, my term
of service in India had trained me to stand heat better than cold,
and a thermometer at ninety was no hardship. But the morning
paper was uninteresting. Parliament had risen. Everybody was
out of town, and I yearned for the glades of the New Forest or
the shingle of Southsea. A depleted bank account had caused me
to postpone my holiday, and as to my companion, neither the
country nor the sea presented the slightest attraction to him. He
loved to lie in the very centre of five millions of people, with his
filaments stretching out and running through them, responsive to
every little rumour or suspicion of unsolved crime. Appreciation
of nature found no place among his many gifts, and his only
change was when he turned his mind from the evil-doer of the
town to track down his brother of the country.

  Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation I had
tossed aside the barren paper, and leaning back in my chair I fell
into a brown study. Suddenly my companion's voice broke in
upon my thoughts:

  "You are right, Watson," said he. "It does seem a most
preposterous way of settling a dispute."

  "Most preposterous!" I exclaimed, and then suddenly realiz-
ing how he had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in
my chair and stared at him in blank amazement.

  "What is this, Holmes?" I cried. "This is beyond anything
which I could have imagined."

  He laughed heartily at my perplexity.

  "You remember," said he, "that some little time ago when I
read you the passage in one of Poe's sketches in which a close
reasoner follows the unspoken thoughts of his companion, you
were inclined to treat the matter as a mere tour-de-force of the
author. On my remarking that I was constantly in the habit of
doing the same thing you expressed incredulity."

  "Oh, no!"

  "Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but certainly
with your eyebrows. So when I saw you throw down your paper
and enter upon a train of thought, I was very happy to have the
oportunity of reading it off, and eventually of breaking into it,
as a proof that I had been in rapport with you."

  But I was still far from satisfied. "In the example which you
read to me," said I, "the reasoner drew his conclusions from the
actions of the man whom he observed. If I remember right, he
stumbled over a heap of stones, looked up at the stars, and so
on. But I have been seated quietly in my chair, and what clues
can I have given you?"

  "You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man
as the means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours
are faithful servants."

  "Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from
my features?"

  "Your features and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot
yourself recall how your reverie commenced?"

  "No, I cannot."

  "Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which
was the action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a
minute with a vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed them-
selves upon your newly framed picture of General Gordon, and I
saw by the alteration in your face that a train of thought had been
started. But it did not lead very far. Your eyes flashed across to
the unframed portrait of Henry Ward Beecher which stands upon
the top of your books. Then you glanced up at the wall, and of
course your meaning was obvious. You were thinking that if the
portrait were framed it would just cover that bare space and
correspond with Gordon's picture over there."

  "You have followed me wonderfully!" I exclaimed.

  "So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your
thoughts went back to Beecher, and you looked hard across as if
you were studying the character in his features. Then your eyes
ceased to pucker, but you continued to look across, and your
face was thoughtful. You were recalling the incidents of Bee-
cher's career. I was well aware that you could not do this
without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of
the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember your
expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he
was received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so
strongly about it that I knew you could not think of Beecher
without thinking of that also. When a moment later I saw your
eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your mind
had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your
lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clenched I was
positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was
shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then, again,
your face grew sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling
upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand
stole towards your own old wound and a smile quivered on your
lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of
settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind.
At this point I agreed with you that it was preposterous and was
glad to find that all my deductions had been correct."

  "Absolutely!" said I. "And now that you have explained it, I
confess that I am as amazed as before."

  "It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you. I
should not have intruded it upon your attention had you not
shown some incredulity the other day. But I have in my hands
here a little problem which may prove to be more difficult of
solution than my small essay in thought reading. Have you
observed in the paper a short paragraph referring to the remark-
able contents of a packet sent through the post to Miss Cushing,
of Cross Street, Croydon?"

  "No, I saw nothing."

  "Ah! then you must have overlooked it. Just toss it over to
me. Here it is, under the financial column. Perhaps you would
be good enough to read it aloud."

  I picked up the paper which he had thrown back to me and
read the paragraph indicated. It was headed "A Gruesome
Packet."

       "Miss Susan Cushing, living at Cross Street, Croydon,

     has been made the victim of what must be regarded as a

     peculiarly revolting practical joke unless some more sinister

     meaning should prove to be attached to the incident. At two

     o'clock yesterday afternoon a small packet, wrapped in

     brown paper, was handed in by the postman. A cardboard

     box was inside, which was filled with coarse salt. On

     emptying this, Miss Cushing was horrified to find two

     human ears, apparently quite freshly severed. The box had

     been sent by parcel post from Belfast upon the morning

     before. There is no indication as to the sender, and the

     matter is the more mysterious as Miss Cushing, who is a

     maiden lady of fifty, has led a most retired life, and has so

     few acquaintances or correspondents that it is a rare event

     for her to receive anything through the post. Some years

     ago, however, when she resided at Penge, she let apart-

     ments in her house to three young medical students,

     whom she was obliged to get rid of on account of their

     noisy and irregular habits. The police are of opinion that

     this outrage may have been perpetrated upon Miss Cush-

     ing by these youths, who owed her a grudge and who

     hoped to frighten her by sending her these relics of the

     dissecting-rooms. Some probability is lent to the theory

     by the fact that one of these students came from the

     north of Ireland, and, to the best of Miss Cushing's

     belief, from Belfast. In the meantime, the matter is being

     actively investigated, Mr. Lestrade, one of the very smart-

     est of our detective officers, being in charge of the

     case."

  "So much for the Daily Chronicle," said Holmes as I finished
reading. "Now for our friend Lestrade. I had a note from him
this morning, in which he says:

       "I think that this case is very much in your line. We have

     every hope of clearing the matter up, but we find a little

     difficulty in getting anything to work upon. We have, of

     course, wired to the Belfast post-office, but a large number

     of parcels were handed in upon that day, and they have no

     means of identifying this particular one, or of remembering

     the sender. The box is a half-pound box of honeydew

     tobacco and does not help us in any way. The medical

     student theory still appears to me to be the most feasible,

     but if you should have a few hours to spare I should be very

     happy to see you out here. I shall be either at the house or

     in the police-station all day.

What say you, Watson? Can you rise superior to the heat and
run down to Croydon with me on the off chance of a case for
your annals?"

  "I was longing for something to do."

  "You shall have it then. Ring for our boots and tell them to
order a cab. I'll be back in a moment when I have changed my
dressing-gown and filled my cigar-case."

  A shower of rain fell while we were in the train, and the heat
was far less oppressive in Croydon than in town. Holmes had
sent on a wire, so that Lestrade, as wiry, as dapper, and as
ferret-like as ever, was waiting for us at the station. A walk of
five minutes took us to Cross Street, where Miss Cushing resided.

  It was a very long street of two-story brick houses, neat and
prim, with whitened stone steps and little groups of aproned
women gossiping at the doors. Halfway down, Lestrade stopped
and tapped at a door, which was opened by a small servant girl.
Miss Cushing was sitting in the front room, into which we were
ushered. She was a placid-faced woman, with large, gentle eyes,
and grizzled hair curving down over her temples on each side. A
worked antimacassar lay upon her lap and a basket of coloured
silks stood upon a stool beside her.

  "They are in the outhouse, those dreadful things," said she as
Lestrade entered. "I wish that you would take them away
altogether."

  "So I shall, Miss Cushing. I only kept them here until my
friend, Mr. Holmes, should have seen them in your presence."

  "Why in my presence, sir?"

  "In case he wished to ask any questions."

  "What is the use of asking me questions when I tell you I
know nothing whatever about it?"

  "Quite so, madam," said Holmes in his soothing way. "I
have no doubt that you have been annoyed more than enough
already over this business."

  "Indeed, I have, sir. I am a quiet woman and live a retired
life. It is something new for me to see my name in the papers
and to find the police in my house. I won't have those things in
here, Mr. Lestrade. If you wish to see them you must go to the
outhouse."

  It was a small shed in the narrow garden which ran behind the
house. Lestrade went in and brought out a yellow cardboard box,
with a piece of brown paper and some string. There was a bench
at the end of the path, and we all sat down while Holmes
examined, one by one, the articles which Lestrade had handed to
him.

  "The string is exceedingly interesting," he remarked, holding
it up to the light and sniffing at it. "What do you make of this
string, Lestrade?"

  "It has been tarred."

  "Precisely. It is a piece of tarred twine. You have also, no
doubt, remarked that Miss Cushing has cut the cord with a
scissors, as can be seen by the double fray on each side. This is
of importance."

  "I cannot see the importance," said Lestrade.

  "The importance lies in the fact that the knot is left intact, and
that this knot is of a peculiar character."

  "It is very neatly tied. I had already made a note to that
effect," said Lestrade complacently.

  "So much for the string, then," said Holmes, smiling, "now
for the box wrapper. Brown paper, with a distinct smell of
coffee. What, did you not observe it? I think there can be no
doubt of it. Address printed in rather straggling characters: 'Miss
S. Cushing, Cross Street, Croydon.' Done with a broad-pointed
pen, probably a J, and with very inferior ink. The word 'Croydon'
has been originally spelled with an 'i,' which has been changed
to 'y.' The parcel was directed, then, by a man -- the printing is
distinctly masculine -- of limited education and unacquainted with
the town of Croydon. So far, so good! The box is a yellow
half-pound honeydew box, with nothing distinctive save two
thumb marks at the left bottom corner. It is filled with rough salt
of the quality used for preserving hides and other of the coarser
commercial purposes. And embedded in it are these very singu-
lar enclosures."

  He took out the two ears as he spoke, and laying a board
across his knee he examined them minutely, while Lestrade and
I, bending forward on each side of him, glanced alternately at
these dreadful relics and at the thoughtful, eager face of our
companion. Finally he returned them to the box once more and
sat for a while in deep meditation.

  "You have observed, of course," said he at last, "that the
ears are not a pair."

  "Yes, I have noticed that. But if this were the practical joke
of some students from the dissecting-rooms, it would be as easy
for them to send two odd ears as a pair."

  "Precisely. But this is not a practical joke."

  "You are sure of it?"

  "The presumption is strongly against it. Bodies in the dissecting-
rooms are injected with preservative fluid. These ears bear no
signs of this. They are fresh, too. They have been cut off with a
blunt ihstrument, which would hardly happen if a student had
done it. Again, carbolic or rectified spirits would be the preserva-
tives ivhich would suggest themselves to the medical mind,
certainly not rough salt. I repeat that there is no practical joke
here, but that we are investigating a serious crime."

  A vague thrill ran through me as I listened to my companion's
words and saw the stern gravity which had hardened his features.
This brutal preliminary seemed to shadow forth some strange and
inexplicable horror in the background. Lestrade, however, shook
his head like a man who is only half convinced.

  "There are objections to the joke theory, no doubt," said he,
"but there are much stronger reasons against the other. We know
that this woman has led a most quiet and respectable life at
Penge and here for the last twenty years. She has hardly been
away from her home for a day during that time. Why on earth,
then, should any criminal send her the proofs of his guilt,
especially as, unless she is a most consummate actress, she
understands quite as little of the matter as we do?"

  "That is the problem which we have to solve," Holmes
answered, "and for my part I shall set about it by presuming that
my reasoning is correct, and that a double murder has been
committed. One of these ears is a woman's, small, finely formed,
and pierced for an earring. The other is a man's, sun-burned,
discoloured, and also pierced for an earring. These two people
are presumably dead, or we should have heard their story before
now. To-day is Friday. The packet was posted on Thursday
morning. The tragedy, then, occurred on Wednesday or Tuesday
or earlier. If the two people were murdered, who but their
murderer would have sent this sign of his work to Miss Cushing?
We may take it that the sender of the packet is the man whom we
want. But he must have some strong reason for sending Miss
Cushing this packet. What reason then? It must have been to tell
her that the deed was done! or to pain her, perhaps. But in that
case she knows who it is. Does she know? I doubt it. If she
knew, why should she call the police in? She might have buried
the ears, and no one would have been the wiser. That is what she
would have done if she had wished to shield the criminal. But if
she does not wish to shield him she would give his name. There
is a tangle here which needs straightening out." He had been
talking in a high, quick voice, staring blankly up over the garden
fence, but now he sprang briskly to his feet and walked towards
the house.

  "I have a few questions to ask Miss Cushing," said he.

  "In that case I may leave you here," said Lestrade, "for I
have another small business on hand. I think that I have nothing
further to learn from Miss Cushing. You will find me at the
police-station."

  "We shall look in on our way to the train," answered Holmes.
A moment later he and I were back in the front room, where the
impassive lady was still quietly working away at her antimacas-
sar. She put it down on her lap as we entered and looked at us
with her frank, searching blue eyes.

  "I am convinced, sir," she said, "that this matter is a mis-
take, and that the parcel was never meant for me at all. I have
said this several times to the gentleman from Scotland Yard, but
he simply laughs at me. I have not an enemy in the world, as far
as I know, so why should anyone play me such a trick?"

  "I am coming to be of the same opinion, Miss Cushing," said
Holmes, taking a seat beside her. "I think that it is more than
probable " he paused, and I was surprised, on glancing round
to see that he was staring with singular intentness at the lady's
profile. Surprise and satisfaction were both for an instant to be
read upon his eager face, though when she glanced round to find
out the cause of his silence he had become as demure as ever. I
stared hard myself at her flat, grizzled hair, her trim cap, her
little gilt earrings, her placid features; but I could see nothing
which could account for my companion's evident excitement.

  "There were one or two questions --"

  "Oh, I am weary of questions!" cried Miss Cushing impatiently.

  "You have two sisters, I believe."

  "How could you know that?"

  "I observed the very instant that I entered the room that you
have a portrait group of three ladies upon the mantelpiece, one of
whom is undoubtedly yourself, while the others are so exceed-
ingly like you that there could be no doubt of the relationship."

  "Yes, you are quite right. Those are my sisters, Sarah and
Mary."

  "And here at my elbow is another portrait, taken at Liverpool,
of your younger sister, in the company of a man who appears to
be a steward by his uniform. I observe that she was unmarried at
the time."

  "You are very quick at observing."

  "That is my trade."

  "Well, you are quite right. But she was married to Mr.
Browner a few days afterwards. He was on the South American
line when that was taken, but he was so fond of her that he
couldn't abide to leave her for so long, and he got into the
Liverpool and London boats."

  "Ah, the Conqueror, perhaps?"

  "No, the May Day, when last I heard. Jim came down here to
see me once. That was before he broke the pledge; but after-
wards he would always take drink when he was ashore, and a
little drink would send him stark, staring mad. Ah! it was a bad
day that ever he took a glass in his hand again. First he dropped
me, then he quarrelled with Sarah, and now that Mary has
stopped writing we don't know how things are going with them."

  It was evident that Miss Cushing had come upon a subject on
which she felt very deeply. Like most people who lead a lonely
life, she was shy at first, but ended by becoming extremely
communicative. She told us many details about her brother-in-law
the steward, and then wandering off on the subject of her former
lodgers, the medical students, she gave us a long account of their
delinquencies, with their names and those of their hospitals.
Holmes listened attentively to everything, throwing in a question
from time to time.

  "About your second sister, Sarah," said he. "I wonder, since
you are both maiden ladies, that you do not keep house together."

  "Ah! you don't know Sarah's temper or you would wonder no
more. I tried it when I came to Croydon, and we kept on until
about two months ago, when we had to part. I don't want to say
a word against my own sister, but she was always meddlesome
and hard to please, was Sarah."

  "You say that she quarrelled with your Liverpool relations."

  "Yes, and they were the best of friends at one time. Why, she
went up there to live in order to be near them. And now she has
no word hard enough for Jim Browner. The last six months that
she was here she would speak of nothing but his drinking and his
ways. He had caught her meddling, I suspect, and given her a bit
of his mind, and that was the start of it."

  "Thank you, Miss Cushing," said Holmes, rising and bow-
ing. "Your sister Sarah lives, I think you said, at New Street
Wallington? Good-bye, and I am very sorry that you should have
been troubled over a case with which, as you say, you have
nothing whatever to do."

  There was a cab passing as we came out, and Holmes hailed
it.

  "How far to Wallington?" he asked.

  "Only about a mile, sir."

  "Very good. Jump in, Watson. We must strike while the iron
is hot. Simple as the case is, there have been one or two very
instructive details in connection with it. Just pull up at a tele-
graph office as you pass, cabby."

  Holmes sent off a short wire and for the rest of the drive lay
back in the cab, with his hat tilted over his nose to keep the sun
from his face. Our driver pulled up at a house which was not
unlike the one which we had just quitted. My companion ordered
him to wait, and had his hand upon the knocker, when the door
opened and a grave young gentleman in black, with a very shiny
hat, appeared on the step.

  "Is Miss Cushing at home?" asked Holmes.

  "Miss Sarah Cushing is extremely ill," said he. "She has
been suffering since yesterday from brain symptoms of great
severity. As her medical adviser, I cannot possibly take the
responsibility of allowing anyone to see her. I should recom-
mend you to call again in ten days." He drew on his gloves,
closed the door, and marched off down the street.

  "Well, if we can't we can't," said Holmes, cheerfully.

  "Perhaps she could not or would not have told you much."

  "I did not wish her to tell me anything. I only wanted to look
at her. However, I think that I have got all that I want. Drive us
to some decent hotel, cabby, where we may have some lunch,
and afterwards we shall drop down upon friend Lestrade at the
police-station."

  We had a pleasant little meal together, during which Holmes
would talk about nothing but violins, narrating with great exulta-
tion how he had purchased his own Stradivarius, which was
worth at least five hundred guineas, at a Jew broker's in Tottenham
Court Road for fifty-five shillings. This led him to Paganini, and
we sat for an hour over a bottle of claret while he told me
anecdote after anecdote of that extraordinary man. The afternoon
was far advanced and the hot glare had softened into a mellow
glow before we found ourselves at the police-station. Lestrade was
waiting for us at the door.

  "A telegram for you, Mr. Holmes," said he.

  "Ha! It is the answer!" He tore it open, glanced his eyes over
it, and crumpled it into his pocket. "That's all right," said he.

  "Have you found out anything?"

  "I have found out everything!"

  "What!" Lestrade stared at him in amazement. "You are
joking."

  "I was never more serious in my life. A shocking crime has
been committed, and I think I have now laid bare every detail of
it."

  "And the criminal?"

  Holmes scribbled a few words upon the back of one of his
visiting cards and threw it over to Lestrade.

  "That is the name," he said. "You cannot effect an arrest
until to-morrow night at the earliest. I should prefer that you do
not mention my name at all in connection with the case, as I
choose to be only associated with those crimes which present
some difficulty in their solution. Come on, Watson." We strode
off together to the station, leaving Lestrade still staring with a
delighted face at the card which Holmes had thrown him.

  "The case," said Sherlock Holmes as we chatted over our
cigars that night in our rooms at Baker Street, "is one where, as
in the investigations which you have chronicled under the names
of 'A Study in Scarlet' and of 'The Sign of Four,' we have been
compelled to reason backward from effects to causes. I have
written to Lestrade asking him to supply us with the details
which are now wanting, and which he will only get after he has
secured his man. That he may be safely trusted to do, for
although he is absolutely devoid of reason, he is as tenacious as
a bulldog when he once understands what he has to do, and,
indeed, it is just this tenacity which has brought him to the top at
Scotland Yard."

  "Your case is not complete, then?" I asked.

  "It is fairly complete in essentials. We know who the author of
the revolting business is, although one of the victims still escapes
us. Of course, you have formed your own conclusions."

  "I presume that this Jim Browner, the steward of a Liverpool
boat, is the man whom you suspect?"

  "Oh! it is more than a suspicion."

  "And yet I cannot see anything save very vague indications."

  "On the contrary, to my mind nothing could be more clear.
Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case,
you remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always
an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there
to observe and to draw inferences from our observations. What
did we see first? A very placid and respectable lady, who seemed
quite innocent of any secret, and a portrait which showed me that
she had two younger sisters. It instantly flashed across my mind
that the box might have been meant for one of these. I set the
idea aside as one which could be disproved or confirmed at our
leisure. Then we went to the garden, as you remember, and we
saw the very singular contents of the little yellow box.

  "The string was of the quality which is used by sailmakers
aboard ship, and at once a whiff of the sea was perceptible in our
investigation. When I observed that the knot was one which is
popular with sailors, that the parcel had been posted at a port,
and that the male ear was pierced for an earring which is so
much more common among sailors than landsmen, I was quite
certain that all the actors in the tragedy were to be found among
our seafaring classes.

  "When I came to examine the address of the packet I ob-
served that it was to Miss S. Cushing. Now, the oldest sister
would, of course, be Miss Cushing, and although her initial was
'S' it might belong to one of the others as well. In that case we
should have to commence our investigation from a fresh basis
altogether. I therefore went into the house with the intention of
clearing up this point. I was about to assure Miss Cushing that I
was convinced that a mistake had been made when you may
remember that I came suddenly to a stop. The fact was that I had
just seen something which filled me with surprise and at the
same time narrowed the field of our inquiry immensely.

  "As a medical man, you are aware, Watson, that there is no
part of the body which varies so much as the human ear. Each
ear is as a rule quite distinctive and differs from all other ones.
In last year's Anthropological Journal you will find two short
monographs from my pen upon the subject. I had, therefore,
examined the ears in the box with the eyes of an expert and had
carefully noted their anatomical peculiarities. Imagine my sur-
prise, then, when on looking at Miss Cushing I perceived that
her ear corresponded exactly with the female ear which I had just
inspected. The matter was entirely beyond coincidence. There
was the same shortening of the pinna, the same broad curve of
the upper lobe, the same convolution of the inner cartilage. In all
essentials it was the same ear.

  "Of course I at once saw the enormous importance of the
observation. It was evident that the victim was a blood relation
and probably a very close one. I began to talk to her about her
family, and you remember that she at once gave us some exceed-
ingly valuable details

  "In the first place, her sister's name was Sarah, and her
address had until recently been the same, so that it was quite
obvious how the mistake had occurred and for whom the packet
was meant. Then we heard of this steward, married to the third
sister, and learned that he had at one time been so intimate with
Miss Sarah that she had actually gone up to Liverpool to be near
the Browners, but a quarrel had afterwards divided them. This
quarrel had put a stop to all communications for some months,
so that if Browner had occasion to address a packet to Miss
Sarah, he would undoubtedly have done so to her old address.

  "And now the matter had begun to straighten itself out won-
derfully. We had learned of the existence of this steward, an
impulsive man, of strong passions -- you remember that he threw
up what must have been a very superior berth in order to be
nearer to his wife -- subject, too, to occasional fits of hard drink-
ing. We had reason to believe that his wife had been murdered,
and that a man -- presumably a seafaring man -- had been mur-
dered at the same time. Jealousy, of course, at once suggests
itself as the motive for the crime. And why should these proofs
of the deed be sent to Miss Sarah Cushing? Probably because
during her residence in Liverpool she had some hand in bringing
about the events which led to the tragedy. You will observe that
this line of boats calls at Belfast, Dublin, and Waterford; so that,
presuming that Browner had committed the deed and had embarked
at once upon his steamer, the May Day, Belfast would be the
first place at which he could post his terrible packet.

  "A second solution was at this stage obviously possible, and
although I thought it exceedingly unlikely, I was determined to
elucidate it before going further. An unsuccessful lover might
have killed Mr. and Mrs. Browner, and the male ear might have
belonged to the husband. There were many grave objections to
this theory, but it was conceivable. I therefore sent off a tele-
gram to my friend Algar, of the Liverpool force, and asked him
to find out if Mrs. Browner were at home, and if Browner had
departed in the May Day. Then we went on to Wallington to visit
Miss Sarah.

  "I was curious, in the first place, to see how far the family ear
had been reproduced in her. Then, of course, she might give us
very important information, but I was not sanguine that she
would. She must have heard of the business the day before, since
all Croydon was ringing with it, and she alone could have
understood for whom the packet was meant. If she had been
willing to help justice she would probably have communicated
with the police already. However, it was clearly our duty to see
her, so we went. We found that the news of the arrival of the
packet -- for her illness dated from that time -- had such an effect
upon her as to bring on brain fever. It was clearer than ever that
she understood its full significance, but equally clear that we
should have to wait some time for any assistance from her.

  "However, we were really independent of her help. Our
answers were waiting for us at the police-station, where I had
directed Algar to send them. Nothing could be more conclusive.
Mrs. Browner's house had been closed for more than three days,
and the neighbours were of opinion that she had gone south to
see her relatives. It had been ascertained at the shipping offices
that Browner had left aboard of the May Day, and I calculate that
she is due in the Thames to-morrow night. When he arrives he
will be met by the obtuse but resolute Lestrade, and I have no
doubt that we shall have all our details filled in."

  Sherlock Holmes was not disappointed in his expectations.
Two days later he received a bulky envelope, which contained a
short note from the detective, and a typewritten document, which
covered several pages of foolscap.

  "Lestrade has got him all right," said Holmes, glancing up at
me. "Perhaps it would interest you to hear what he says.

     "MY DEAR MR. HOLMES:

       "In accordance with the scheme which we had formed in

     order to test our theories" ["the 'we' is rather fine, Wat-

     son, is it not?"] "I went down to the Albert Dock yesterday

     at 6 P. M., and boarded the S. S. May Day, belonging to the

     Liverpool, Dublin, and London Steam Packet Company. On

     inquiry, I found that there was a steward on board of the

     name of James Browner and that he had acted during

     the voyage in such an extraordinary manner that the captain

     had been compelled to relieve him of his duties. On de-

     scending to his berth, I found him seated upon a chest with

     his head sunk upon his hands, rocking himself to and fro.

     He is a big, powerful chap, clean-shaven, and very swarthy --

     something like Aldridge, who helped us in the bogus laun-

     dry affair. He jumped up when he heard my business, and I

     had my whistle to my lips to call a couple of river police,

     who were round the corner, but he seemed to have no heart

     in him, and he held out his hands quietly enough for the

     darbies. We brought him along to the cells, and his box as

     well, for we thought there might be something incriminat-

     ing; but, bar a big sharp knife such as most sailors have, we

     got nothing for our trouble. However, we find that we shall

     want no more evidence, for on being brought before the

     inspector at the station he asked leave to make a statement,

     which was, of course, taken down, just as he made it, by

     our shorthand man. We had three copies typewritten, one of

     which I enclose. The affair proves, as I always thought it

     would, to be an extremely simple one, but I am obliged to

     you for assisting me in my investigation. With kind regards,

                                              "Yours very truly,

                                                    "G. LESTRADE

  "Hum! The investigation really was a very simple one,"
remarked Holmes, "but I don't think it struck him in that light
when he first called us in. However, let us see what Jim Browner
has to say for himself. This is his statement as made before
Inspector Montgomery at the Shadwell Police Station, and it has
the advantage of being verbatim."

                           * * *

  " 'Have I anything to say? Yes, I have a deal to say. I have to
make a clean breast of it all. You can hang me, or you can leave
me alone. I don't care a plug which you do. I tell you I've not
shut an eye in sleep since I did it, and I don't believe I ever will
again until I get past all waking. Sometimes it's his face, but
most generally it's hers. I'm never without one or the other
before me. He looks frowning and black-like, but she has a kind
o' surprise upon her face. Ay, the white lamb, she might well be
surprised when she read death on a face that had seldom looked
anything but love upon her before.

  " 'But it was Sarah's fault, and may the curse of a broken
man put a blight on her and set the blood rotting in her veins! It's
not that I want to clear myself. I know that I went back to drink,
like the beast that I was. But she would have forgiven me; she
would have stuck as close to me as a rope to a block if that
woman had never darkened our door. For Sarah Cushing loved
me -- that's the root of the business -- she loved me until all her
love turned to poisonous hate when she knew that I thought more
of my wife's footmark in the mud than I did of her whole body
and soul.

  " 'There were three sisters altogether. The old one was just a
good woman, the second was a devil, and the third was an angel.
Sarah was thirty-three, and Mary was twenty-nine when I mar-
ried. We were just as happy as the day was long when we set up
house together, and in all Liverpool there was no better woman
than my Mary. And then we asked Sarah up for a week, and the
week grew into a month, and one thing led to another, until she
was just one of ourselves.

  " 'I was blue ribbon at that time, and we were putting a little
money by, and all was as bright as a new dollar. My God,
whoever would have thought that it could have come to this?
Whoever would have dreamed it?

  " 'I used to be home for the week-ends very often, and
sometimes if the ship were held back for cargo I would have a
whole week at a time, and in this way I saw a deal of my
sister-in-law, Sarah. She was a fine tall woman, black and quick
and fierce, with a proud way of carrying her head, and a glint
from her eye like a spark from a flint. But when little Mary was
there I had never a thought of her, and that I swear as I hope for
God's mercy.

  " 'It had seemed to me sometimes that she liked to be alone
with me, or to coax me out for a walk with her, but I had never
thought anything of that. But one evening my eyes were opened.
I had come up from the ship and found my wife out, but Sarah at
home. "Where's Mary?" I asked. "Oh, she has gone to pay
some accounts." I was impatient and paced up and down the
room. "Can't you be happy for five minutes without Mary,
Jim?" says she. "It's a bad compliment to me that you can't be
contented with my society for so short a time." "That's all
right, my lass," said I, putting out my hand towards her in a
kindly way, but she had it in both hers in an instant, and they
burned as if they were in a fever. I looked into her eyes and I
read it all there. There was no need for her to speak, nor for me
either. I frowned and drew my hand away. Then she stood by
my side in silence for a bit, and then put up her hand and patted
me on the shoulder. "Steady old Jim!" said she, and with a kind
o' mocking laugh, she ran out of the room.

  " 'Well, from that time Sarah hated me with her whole heart
and soul, and she is a woman who can hate, too. I was a fool to
let her go on biding with us -- a besotted fool -- but I never said a
word to Mary, for I knew it would grieve her. Things went on
much as before, but after a time I began to find that there was a
bit of a change in Mary herself. She had always been so trusting
and so innocent, but now she became queer and suspicious,
wanting to know where I had been and what I had been doing,
and whom my letters were from, and what I had in my pockets,
and a thousand such follies. Day by day she grew queerer and
more irritable, and we had ceaseless rows about nothing. I was
fairly puzzled by it all. Sarah avoided me now, but she and Mary
were just inseparable. I can see now how she was plotting and
scheming and poisoning my wife's mind against me, but I was
such a blind beetle that I could not understand it at the time.
Then I broke my blue ribbon and began to drink again, but I
think I should not have done it if Mary had been the same as
ever. She had some reason to be disgusted with me now, and the
gap between us began to be wider and wider. And then this Alec
Fairbairn chipped in, and things became a thousand times blacker.

  " 'It was to see Sarah that he came to my house first, but soon
it was to see us, for he was a man with winning ways, and he
made friends wherever he went. He was a dashing, swaggering
chap, smart and curled, who had seen half the world and could
talk of what he had seen. He was good company, I won't deny
it, and he had wonderful polite ways with him for a sailor man,
so that I think there must have been a time when he knew more
of the poop than the forecastle. For a month he was in and out of
my house, and never once did it cross my mind that harm might
come of his soft, tricky ways. And then at last something made
me suspect, and from that day my peace was gone forever.

  " 'It was only a little thing, too. I had come into the parlour
unexpected, and as I walked in at the door I saw a light of
welcome on my wife's face. But as she saw who it was it faded
again, and she turned away with a look of disappointment. That
was enough for me. There was no one but Alec Fairbairn whose
step she could have mistaken for mine. If I could have seen him
then I should have killed him, for I have always been like a
madman when my temper gets loose. Mary saw the devil's light
in my eyes, and she ran forward with her hands on my sleeve.
"Don't, Jim, don't!" says she. "Where's Sarah?" I asked. "In
the kitchen," says she. "Sarah," says I as I went in, "this man
Fairbairn is never to darken my door again." "Why not?" says
she. "Because I order it." "Oh!" says she, "if my friends are
not good enough for this house, then I am not good enough for it
either." "You can do what you like," says I, "but if Fairbairn
shows his face here again I'll send you one of his ears for a
keepsake." She was frightened by my face, I think, for she
never answered a word, and the same evening she left my house.

  " 'Well, I don't know now whether it was pure devilry on the
part of this woman, or whether she thought that she could turn
me against my wife by encouraging her to misbehave. Anyway,
she took a house just two streets off and let lodgings to sailors.
Fairbairn used to stay there, and Mary would go round to have
tea with her sister and him. How often she went I don't know,
but I followed her one day, and as I broke in at the door
Fairbairn got away over the back garden wall, like the cowardly
skunk that he was. I swore to my wife that I would kill her if I
found her in his company again, and I led her back with me,
sobbing and trembling, and as white as a piece of paper. There
was no trace of love between us any longer. I could see that she
hated me and feared me, and when the thought of it drove me to
drink, then she despised me as well.

  " 'Well, Sarah found that she could not make a living in
Liverpool, so she went back, as I understand, to live with her
sister in Croydon, and things jogged on much the same as ever at
home. And then came this last week and all the misery and ruin.

  " 'It was in this way. We had gone on the May Day for a
round voyage of seven days, but a hogshead got loose and
started one of our plates, so that we had to put back into port for
twelve hours. I left the ship and came home, thinking what a
surprise it would be for my wife, and hoping that maybe she
would be glad to see me so soon. The thought was in my head as
I turned into my own street, and at that moment a cab passed
me, and there she was, sitting by the side of Fairbairn, the two
chatting and laughing, with never a thought for me as I stood
watching them from the footpath.

  " 'I tell you, and I give you my word for it, that from that
moment I was not my own master, and it is all like a dim dream
when I look back on it. I had been drinking hard of late, and the
two things together fairly turned my brain. There's something
throbbing in my head now, like a docker's hammer, but that
morning I seemed to have all Niagara whizzing and buzzing in
my ears.

  " 'Well, I took to my heels, and l ran after the cab. I had a
heavy oak stick in my hand, and I tell you I saw red from the
first; but as I ran I got cunning, too, and hung back a little to see
them without being seen. They pulled up soon at the railway
station. There was a good crowd round the booking-office, so I
got quite close to them without being seen. They took tickets for
New Brighton. So did I, but I got in three carriages behind them.
When we reached it they walked along the Parade, and I was
never more than a hundred yards from them. At last I saw them
hire a boat and start for a row, for it was a very hot day, and
they thought, no doubt, that it would be cooler on the water.

  " 'It was just as if they had been given into my hands. There
was a bit of a haze, and you could not see more than a few
hundred yards. I hired a boat for myself, and I pulled after them.
I could see the blur of their craft, but they were going nearly as
fast as I, and they must have been a long mile from the shore
before I caught them up. The haze was like a curtain all round
us, and there were we three in the middle of it. My God, shall I
ever forget their faces when they saw who was in the boat that
was closing in upon them? She screamed out. He swore like a
madman and jabbed at me with an oar, for he must have seen
death in my eyes. I got past it and got one in with my stick that
crushed his head like an egg. I would have spared her, perhaps,
for all my madness, but she threw her arms round him, crying
out to him, and calling him "Alec." I struck again, and she lay
stretched beside him. I was like a wild beast then that had tasted
blood. If Sarah had been there, by the Lord, she should have
joined them. I pulled out my knife, and -- well, there! I've said
enough. It gave me a kind of savage joy when I thought how
Sarah would feel when she had such signs as these of what her
meddling had brought about. Then I tied the bodies into the boat,
stove a plank, and stood by until they had sunk. I knew very
well that the owner would think that they had lost their bearings
in the haze, and had drifted off out to sea. I cleaned myself up,
got back to land, and joined my ship without a soul having a
suspicion of what had passed. That night I made up the packet
for Sarah Cushing, and next day I sent it from Belfast.

  " 'There you have the whole truth of it. You can hang me, or
do what you like with me, but you cannot punish me as I have
been punished already. I cannot shut my eyes but I see those two
faces staring at me -- staring at me as they stared when my boat
broke through the haze. I killed them quick, but they are killing
me slow; and if I have another night of it I shall be either mad or
dead before morning. You won't put me alone into a cell, sir?
Por pity's sake don't, and may you be treated in your day of
agony as you treat me now.'

  "What is the meaning of it, Watson?" said Holmes solemnly
als he laid down the paper. "What object is served by this circle
of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or
else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But
what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which
human reason is as far from an answer as ever."

                  The Yellow Face

  [In publishing these short sketches based upon the numer-
ous cases in which my companion's singular gifts have
made us the listeners to, and eventually the actors in, some
strange drama, it is only natural that I should dwell rather
upon his successes than upon his failures. And this not so
much for the sake of his reputation -- for, indeed, it was
when he was at his wit's end that his energy and his
versatility were most admirable -- but because where he failed
it happened too often that no one else succeeded. and that
the tale was left forever without a conclusion. Now and
again, however. it chanced that even when he erred the
truth was still discovered. I have notes of some half-dozen
cases of the kind, the adventure of the Musgrave Ritual and
that which I am about to recount are thc two which present
the strongest features of interest.]

  Sherlock Holmes was a man who seldom took exercise for
exercise's sake. Few men were capable of greater muscular
effort, and he was undoubtedly one of the finest boxers of his
weight that I have ever seen; but he looked upon aimless bodily
exertion as a waste of energy, and he seldom bestirred himself
save where there was some professional object to be served.
Then he was absolutely untiring and indefatigable. That he should
have kept himself in training under such circumstances is re-
markable, but his diet was usually of the sparest, and his habits
were simple to the verge of austerity. Save for the occasional use
of cocaine, he had no vices, and he only turned to the drug as a
protest against the monotony of existence when cases were scanty
and the papers uninteresting.

  One day in early spring he had so far relaxed as to go for a
walk with me in the Park, where the first faint shoots of green
were breaking out upon the elms, and the sticky spear-heads of
the chestnuts were just beginning to burst into their five-fold
leaves. For two hours we rambled about together, in silence for
the most part, as befits two men who know each other inti-
mately. It was nearly five before we were back in Baker Street
once more.

  "Beg pardon, sir," said our page-boy as he opened the door.
"There's been a gentleman here asking for you, sir."

  Holmes glanced reproachfully at me. "So much for afternoon
walks!" said he. "Has this gentleman gone, then?"

  "Yes, sir."

  "Didn't you ask him in?"

  "Yes, sir, he came in."

  "How long did he wait?"

  "Half an hour, sir. He was a very restless gentleman, sir
a-walkin' and a-stampin' all the time he was here. I was waitin'
outside the door, sir, and I could hear him. At last he outs into
the passage, and he cries, 'Is that man never goin' to come?'
Those were his very words, sir. 'You'll only need to wait a little
longer,' says I. 'Then I'll wait in the open air, for I feel half
choked,' says he. 'I'll be back before long.' And with that he ups
and he outs, and all I could say wouldn't hold him back."

  "Well, well, you did your best," said Holmes as we walked
into our room. "It's very annoying, though, Watson. I was badly
in need of a case, and this looks, from the man's impatience, as
if it were of importance. Hullo! that's not your pipe on the table.
He must have left his behind him. A nice old brier with a good
long stem of what the tobacconists call amber. I wonder how
many real amber mouthpieces there are in London? Some people
think that a fly in it is a sign. Well, he must have been disturbed
in his mind to leave a pipe behind him which he evidently values
highly."

  "How do you know that he values it highly?" I asked.

  "Well, I should put the original cost of the pipe at seven and
sixpence. Now it has, you see, been twice mended, once in the
wooden stem and once in the amber. Each of these mends, done,
as you observe, with silver bands, must have cost more than the
pipe did originally. The man must value the pipe highly when he
prefers to patch it up rather than buy a new one with the same
money."

   "Anything else?" I asked, for Holmes was turning the pipe
about in his hand and staring at it in his peculiar pensive way.

   He held it up and tapped on it with his long, thin forefinger,
as a professor might who was lecturing on a bone.

  "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest," said he.
"Nothing has more individuality, save perhaps watches and
bootlaces. The indications here, however, are neither very marked
nor very important. The owner is obviously a muscular man,
left-handed, with an excellent set of teeth, careless in his habits,
and with no need to practise economy."

  My friend threw out the information in a very offhand way, but
I saw that he cocked his eye at me to see if I had followed his
reasoning.

  "You think a man must be well-to-do if he smokes a seven-
shilling pipe?" said I.

  "This is Grosvenor mixture at eightpence an ounce," Holmes
answered, knocking a little out on his palm. "As he might get an
excellent smoke for half the price, he has no need to practise
economy."

  "And the other points?"

  "He has been in the habit of lighting his pipe at lamps and
gasjets. You can see that it is quite charred all down one side.
Of course a match could not have done that. Why should a man
hold a match to the side of his pipe? But you cannot light it at a
lamp without getting the bowl charred. And it is all on the right
side of the pipe. From that I gather that he is a left-handed man.
You hold your own pipe to the lamp and see how naturally you,
being right-handed, hold the left side to the flame. You might do
it once the other way, but not as a constancy. This has always
been held so. Then he has bitten through his amber. It takes a
muscular, energetic fellow. and one with a good set of teeth, to
do that. But if I am not mistaken I hear him upon the stair, so we
shall have something more interesting than his pipe to study."

  An instant later our door opened, and a tall young man
entered the room. He was well but quietly dressed in a dark gray
suit and carried a brown wideawake in his hand. I should have
put him at about thirty, though he was really some years older.

  "l beg your pardon," said he with some embarrassment, "I
suppose I should have knocked. Yes, of course I should have
knocked. The fact is that I am a little upset, and you must put it
all down to that." He passed his hand over his forehead like a
man who is half dazed, and then fell rather than sat down upon a
chalr.

  "I can see that you have not slept for a night or two," said
Holmes in his easy, genial way. "That tries a man's nerves more
than work, and more even than pleasure. May I ask how I can
help you?"

  "I wanted your advice, sir. I don't know what to do, and my
whole life seems to have gone to pieces."

  "You wish to employ me as a consulting detective?"

  "Not that only. I want your opinion as a judicious man -- as a
man of the world. I want to know what I ought to do next. I hope
to God you'll be able to tell me."

  He spoke in little, sharp, jerky outbursts, and it seemed to me
that to speak at all was very painful to him, and that his will all
through was overriding his inclinations.

  "It's a very delicate thing," said he. "One does not like to
speak of one's domestic affairs to strangers. It seems dreadful to
discuss the conduct of one's wife with two men whom I have
never seen before. It's horrible to have to do it. But I've got to
the end of my tether, and I must have advice."

  "My dear Mr. Grant Munro --" began Holmes.

  Our visitor sprang from his chair. "What!" he cried, "you
know my name?"

  "If you wish to preserve your incognito," said Holmes, smil-
ing, "I would suggest that you cease to write your name upon
the lining of your hat, or else that you turn the crown towards the
person whom you are addressing. I was about to say that my
friend and I have listened to a good many strange secrets in this
room, and that we have had the good fortune to bring peace to
many troubled souls. I trust that we may do as much for you.
Might I beg you, as time may prove to be of importance, to
furnish me with the facts of your case without further delay?"

  Our visitor again passed his hand over his forehead, as if he
found it bitterly hard. From every gesture and expression I could
see that he was a reserved. self-contained man, with a dash of
pride in his nature. more likely to hide his wounds than to
expose them. Then suddenly. with a fierce gesture of his closed
hand, like one who throws reserve to the winds, he began:

  "The facts are these, Mr. Holmes," said he. "I am a married
man and have been so for three years. During that time my wife
and I have loved each other as fondly and lived as happily as any
two that ever were joined. We have not had a difference. not
one, in thought or word or deed. And now, since last Monday,
there has suddenly sprung up a barrier between us. and I find
that there is something in her life and in her thoughts of which I
know as little as if she were the woman who brushes by me in
the street. We are estranged, and I want to know why.

  "Now there is one thing that I want to impress upon you
before I go any further, Mr. Holmes. Effie loves me. Don't let
there be any mistake about that. She loves me with her whole
heart and soul, and never more than now. I know it. I feel it. I
don't want to argue about that. A man can tell easily enough
when a woman loves him. But there's this secret between us,
and we can never be the same until it is cleared."

  "Kindly let me have the facts, Mr. Munro," said Holmes
with some impatience.

  "I'll tell you what I know about Effie's history. She was a
widow when I met her first, though quite young -- only twenty-
five. Her name then was Mrs. Hebron. She went out to America
when she was young and lived in the town of Atlanta, where she
married this Hebron, who was a lawyer with a good practice.
They had one child, but the yellow fever broke out badly in the
place, and both husband and child died of it. I have seen his
death certificate. This sickened her of America, and she came
back to live with a maiden aunt at Pinner, in Middlesex. I may
mention that her husband had left her comfortably off, and that
she had a capital of about four thousand five hundred pounds,
which had been so well invested by him that it returned an
average of seven per cent. She had only been six months at
Pinner when I met her; we fell in love with each other. and we
married a few weeks afterwards.

  "I am a hop merchant myself, and as I have an income of
seven or eight hundred, we found ourselves comfortably off and
took a nice eighty-pound-a-year villa at Norbury. Our little place
was very countrified, considering that it is so close to town. We
had an inn and two houses a little above us, and a single cottage
at the other side of the field which faces us, and except those
there were no houses until you got halfway to the station. My
business took me into town at certain seasons, but in summer I
had less to do, and then in our country home my wife and I were
just as happy as could be wished. I tell you that there never was
a shadow between us until this accursed affair began.

  "There's one thing I ought to tell you before I go further.
When we married, my wife made over all her property to
me -- rather against my will, for I saw how awkward it would be
if my business affairs went wrong. However. she would have it
so, and it was done. Well, about six weeks ago she came to me.

  " 'Jack,' said she, 'when you took my money you said that if
ever I wanted any I was to ask you for it.'

  " 'Certainly ' said I. 'It's all your own.'

  " 'Well,' said she, 'I want a hundred pounds.'

  "I was a bit staggered at this, for I had imagined it was simply
a new dress or something of the kind that she was after.

  " 'What on earth for?' I asked.

  " 'Oh,' said she in her playful way, 'you said that you were
only my banker, and bankers never ask questions, you know.'

  " 'If you really mean it, of course you shall have the money,'
said I.

  " 'Oh, yes, I really mean it.'

  " 'And you won't tell me what you want it for?'

  " 'Some day, perhaps, but not just at present, Jack.'

  "So I had to be content with that, though it was the first time
that there had ever been any secret between us. I gave her a
check, and I never thought any more of the matter. It may have
nothing to do with what came afterwards, but I thought it only
right to mention it.

  "Well, I told you just now that there is a cottage not far from
our house. There is just a field between us, but to reach it you
have to go along the road and then turn down a lane. Just beyond
it is a nice little grove of Scotch firs, and I used to be very fond
of strolling down there, for trees are always a neighbourly kind
of thing. The cottage had been standing empty this eight months,
and it was a pity, for it was a pretty two-storied place, with an
old-fashioned porch and a honeysuckle about it. I have stood
many a time and thought what a neat little homestead it would
make.

  "Well, last Monday evening I was taking a stroll down that
way when I met an empty van coming up the lane and saw a pile
of carpets and things lying about on the grass-plot beside the
porch. It was clear that the cottage had at last been let. I walked
past it, and then stopping, as an idle man might, I ran my eye
over it and wondered what sort of folk they were who had come
to live so near us. And as I looked I suddenly became aware that
a face was watching me out of one of the upper windows.

  "I don't know what there was about that face, Mr. Holmes,
but it seemed to send a chill right down my back. I was some
little way off, so that I could not make out the features, but there
was something unnatural and inhuman about the face. That was
the impression that I had, and I moved quickly forward to get a
nearer view of the person who was waching me. But as I did so
the face suddenly disappeared, so suddenly that it seemed to
have been plucked away into the darkness of the room. I stood
for five minutes thinking the business over and trying to analyze
my impressions. I could not tell if the face was that of a man or a
woman. It had been too far from me for that. But its colour was
what had impressed me most. It was of a livid chalky white, and
with something set and rigid about it which was shockingly
unnatural. So disturbed was I that I determined to see a little
more of the new inmates of the cottage. I approached and
knocked at the door, which was instantly opened by a tall, gaunt
woman with a harsh, forbidding face.

  " 'What may you be wantin'?' she asked in a Northern accent.

  "I am your neighbour over yonder,' said I, nodding towards
my house. 'I see that you have only just moved in, so I thought
that if I could be of any help to you in any --'

  " 'Ay, We'll just ask ye when we want ye,' said she, and shut
the door in my face. Annoyed at the churlish rebuff, I turned my
back and walked home. All evening, though I tried to think of
other things, my mind would still turn to the apparition at the
window and the rudeness of the woman. I determined to say
nothing about the former to my wife, for she is a nervous, highly
strung woman, and I had no wish that she should share the
unpleasant impression which had been produced upon myself. I
remarked to her, however, before I fell asleep, that the cottage
was now occupied, to which she returned no reply.

  "I am usually an extremely sound sleeper. It has been a
standing jest in the family that nothing could ever wake me
during the night. And yet somehow on that particular night,
whether it may have been the slight excitement produced by my
little adventure or not I know not, but I siept much more lightly
than usual. Half in my dreams I was dimly conscious that something
was going on in the room, and gradually became aware that my
wife had dressed herself and was slipping on her mantle and her
bonnet. My lips were parted to murmur out some sleepy words
of surprise or remonstrance at this untimely preparation, when
suddenly my half-opened eyes fell upon her face, illuminated by
the candle-light. and astonishment held me dumb. She wore an
expression such as I had never seen before -- such as I should
have thought her incapable of assuming. She was deadly pale
and breathing fast, glancing furtively towards the bed as she
fastened her mantle to see if she had disturbed me. Then
thinking that I was still asleep, she slipped noiselessly from the
room, and an instant later I heard a sharp creaking which could
only come from the hinges of the front door. I sat up in bed and
rapped my knuckles against the rail to make certain that I was
truly awake. Then I took my watch from under the pillow. It was
three in the morning. What on this earth could my wife be doing
out on the country road at three in the morning?

  "I had sat for about twenty minutes turning the thing over in
my mind and trying to find some possible explanation. The more
I thought, the more extraordinary and inexplicable did it appear.
I was still puzzling over it when I heard the door gently close
again, and her footsteps coming up the stairs.

  " 'Where in the world have you been, Effie?' I asked as she
entered.

  "She gave a violent start and a kind of gasping cry when I
spoke, and that cry and start troubled me more than all the rest,
for there was something indescribably guilty about them. My
wife had always been a woman of a frank, open nature, and it
gave me a chill to see her slinking into her own room and crying
out and wincing when her own husband spoke to her.

  " 'You awake, Jack!' she cried with a nervous laugh. 'Why, I
thought that nothing could awake you.'

  " 'Where have you been?' I asked, more sternly.

  " 'I don't wonder that you are surprised,' said she, and I
could see that her fingers were trembling as she undid the
fastenings of her mantle. 'Why, I never remember having done
such a thing in my life before. The fact is that I felt as though I
were choking and had a perfect longing for a breath of fresh air.
I really think that I should have fainted if I had not gone out. I
stood at the door for a few minutes, and now I am quite myself
again.'

  "All the time that she was telling me this story she never once
looked in my direction, and her voice was quite unlike her usual
tones. It was evident to me that she was saying what was false. I
said nothing in reply, but turned my face to the wall, sick at
heart, with my mind filled with a thousand venomous doubts and
suspicions. What was it that my wife was concealing from me?
Where had she been during that strange expedition? I felt that I
should have no peace until I knew, and yet I shrank from asking
her again after once she had told me what was false. All the rest
of the night I tossed and tumbled, framing theory after theory,
each more unlikely than the last.

  "I should have gone to the City that day, but I was too
disturbed in my mind to be able to pay attention to business
matters. My wife seemed to be as upset as myself, and I could
see from the little questioning glances which she kept shooting at
me that she understood that I disbelieved her statement, and that
she was at her wit's end what to do. We hardly exchanged a
word during breakfast, and immediately afterwards I went out
for a walk that I might think the matter out in the fresh morning
air.

  "I went as far as the Crystal Palace, spent an hour in the
grounds, and was back in Norbury by one o'clock. It happened
that my way took me past the cottage, and I stopped for an
instant to look at the windows and to see if I could catch a
glimpse of the strange face which had looked out at me on the
day before. As I stood there, imagine my surprise, Mr. Holmes,
when the door suddenly opened and my wife walked out.

  "I was struck dumb with astonishment at the sight of her, but
my emotions were nothing to those which showed themselves
upon her face when our eyes met. She seemed for an instant to
wish to shrink back inside the house again; and then, seeing how
useless all concealment must be, she came forward, with a very
white face and frightened eyes which belied the smile upon her
lips.

  " 'Ah, Jack,' she said, 'I have just been in to see if I can be
of any assistance to our new neighbours. Why do you look at me
like that, Jack? You are not angry with me?'

  " 'So,' said I, 'this is where you went during the night.'

  " 'What do you mean?' she cried.

  " 'You came here. I am sure of it. Who are these people that
you should visit them at such an hour?'

  " 'I have not been here before.'

  " 'How can you tell me what you know is false?' I cried.
'Your very voice changes as you speak. When have I ever had a
secret from you? I shall enter that cottage, and I shall probe the
matter to the bottom.'

  " 'No, no, Jack, for God's sake!' she gasped in uncontrolla-
ble emotion. Then, as I approached the door, she seized my
sleeve and pulled me back with convulsive strength.

  " 'I implore you not to do this, Jack,' she cried. 'I swear that
I will tell you everything some day, but nothing but misery can
come of it if you enter that cottage.' Then, as I tried to shake her
off, she clung to me in a frenzy of entreaty.

  " 'Trust me, Jack!' she cried. 'Trust me only this once. You
will never have cause to regret it. You know that I would not
have a secret from you if it were not for your own sake. Our
whole lives are at stake in this. If you come home with me all
will be well. If you force your way into that cottage all is over
between us.'

  "There was such earnestness, such despair, in her manner that
her words arrested me, and I stood irresolute before the door.

  " 'I will trust you on one condition, and on one condition
only,' said I at last. 'It is that this mystery comes to an end from
now. You are at liberty to preserve your secret, but you must
promise me that there shall be no more nightly visits, no more
doings which are kept from my knowledge. I am willing to
forget those which are past if you will promise that there shall be
no more in the future.'

  " 'I was sure that you would trust me,' she cried with a great
sigh of relief. 'It shall be just as you wish. Come away -- oh,
come away up to the house.'

  "Still pulling at my sleeve, she led me away from the cottage.
As we went I glanced back, and there was that yellow livid face
watching us out of the upper window. What link could there be
between that creature and my wife? Or how could the coarse,
rough woman whom I had seen the day before be connected with
her? It was a strange puzzle, and yet I knew that my mind could
never know ease again until I had solved it.

  "For two days after this I stayed at home, and my wife
appeared to abide loyally by our engagement, for, as far as I
know, she never stirred out of the house. On the third day
however, I had ample evidence that her solemn promise was not
enough to hold her back from this secret influence which drew
her away from her husband and her duty.

  "I had gone into town on that day, but I returned by the 2:40
instead of the 3:36, which is my usual train. As I entered the
house the maid ran into the hall with a startled face.

  " 'Where is your mistress?' I asked.

  " 'I think that she has gone out for a walk,' she answered.

  "My mind was instantly filled with suspicion. I rushed up-
stairs to make sure that she was not in the house. As I did so I
happened to glance out of one of the upper windows and saw the
maid with whom I had just been speaking running across the
field in the direction of the cottage. Then of course I saw exactly
what it all meant. My wife had gone over there and had asked
the servant to call her if I should return. Tingling with anger, I
rushed down and hurried across, determined to end the matter
once and forever. I saw my wife and the maid hurrying back
along the lane, but I did not stop to speak with them. In the
cottage lay the secret which was casting a shadow over my life. I
vowed that, come what might, it should be a secret no longer. I
did not even knock when I reached it, but turned the handle and
rushed into the passage.

  "It was all still and quiet upon the ground floor. In the kitchen
a kettle was singing on the fire, and a large black cat lay coiled
up in the basket; but there was no sign of the woman whom I had
seen before. I ran into the other room, but it was equally
deserted. Then I rushed up the stairs only to find two other
rooms empty and deserted at the top. There was no one at all in
the whole house. The furniture and pictures were of the most
common and vulgar description, save in the one chamber at the
window of which I had seen the strange face. That was comfort-
able and elegant, and all my suspicions rose into a fierce, bitter
flame when I saw that on the mantelpiece stood a copy of a
full-length photograph of my wife, which had been taken at my
request only three months ago.

  "I stayed long enough to make certain that the house was
absolutely empty. Then I left it, feeling a weight at my heart
such as I had never had before. My wife came out into the hall
as I entered my house; but I was too hurt and angry to speak with
her, and, pushing past her, I made my way into my study. She
followed me, however, before I could close the door.

  " 'I am sorry that I broke my promise, Jack,' said she, 'but if
you knew all the circumstances I am sure that you would forgive
me.'

  " 'Tell me everything, then,' said I.

  " 'I cannot, Jack, I cannot,' she cried.

  " 'Until you tell me who it is that has been living in that
cottage, and who it is to whom you have given that photograph,
there can never be any confidence between us,' said I, and
breaking away from her I left the house. That was yesterday,
Mr. Holmes, and I have not seen her since, nor do I know
anything more about this strange business. It is the first shadow
that has come between us, and it has so shaken me that I do not
know what I should do for the best. Suddenly this morning it
occurred to me that you were the man to advise me, so I have
hurried to you now, and I place myself unreservedly in your
hands. If there is any point which I have not made clear, pray
question me about it. But, above all, tell me quickly what I am
to do. for this misery is more than I can bear."

  Holmes and I had listened with the utmost interest to this
extraordinary statement, which had been delivered in the jerky,
broken fashion of a man who is under the influence of extreme
emotion. My companion sat silent now for some time, with his
chin upon his hand, lost in thought.

  "Tell me," said he at last, "could you swear that this was a
man's face which you saw at the window?"

  "Each time that I saw it I was some distance away from it
so that it is impossible for me to say."

  "You appear, however, to have been disagreeably impressed
by it."

  "It seemed to be of an unusual colour and to have a strange
rigidity about the features. When I approached it vanished with a
jerk."

  "How long is it since your wife asked you for a hundred
pounds?"

  "Nearly two months."

  "Have you ever seen a photograph of her first husband?"

  "No, there was a great fire at Atlanta very shortly after his
death, and all her papers were destroyed."

  "And yet she had a certificate of death. You say that you saw
it."

  "Yes, she got a duplicate after the fire."

  "Did you ever meet anyone who knew her in America?"

  "No."

  "Did she ever talk of revisiting the place?"

  "No."

  "Or get letters from it?"

  "No."

  "Thank you. I should like to think over the matter a little
now. If the cottage is now permanently deserted we may have
some difficulty. If, on the other hand, as I fancy is more likely
the inmates were warned of your coming and left before you
entered yesterday, then they may be back now, and we should
clear it all up easily. Let me advise you, then, to return to
Norbury and to examine the windows of the cottage again. If
you have reason to believe that it is inhabited, do not force your
way in, but send a wire to my friend and me. We shall be with
you within an hour of receiving it, and we shall then very soon
get to the bottom of the business."

  "And if it is still empty?''

  "In that case I shall come out to-morrow and talk it over with
you. Good-bye, and, above all, do not fret until you know that
you really have a cause for it."

  "I am afraid that this is a bad business, Watson," said my
companion as he returned after accompanying Mr. Grant Munro
to the door. "What do you make of it?"

  "It had an ugly sound," I answered.

  "Yes. There's blackmail in it, or I am much mistaken."

  "And who is the blackmailer?"

  "Well, it must be the creature who lives in the only comfort-
able room in the place and has her photograph above his fire-
place. Upon my word, Watson, there is something very attractive
about that livid face at the window, and I would not have missed
the case for worlds."

  "You have a theory?"

  "Yes, a provisional one. But I shall be surprised if it does not
turn out to be correct. This woman's first husband is in that
cottage."

  "Why do you think so?"

  "How else can we explain her frenzied anxiety that her second
one should not enter it? The facts, as I read them, are something
like this: This woman was married in America. Her husband
developed some hateful qualities, or shall we say he contracted
some loathsome disease and became a leper or an imbecile? She
flies from him at last, returns to England, changes her name, and
starts her life, as she thinks, afresh. She has been married three
years and believes that her position is quite secure, having shown
her husband the death certificate of some man whose name she
has assumed, when suddenly her whereabouts is discovered by
her first husband, or, we may suppose, by some unscrupulous
woman who has attached herself to the invalid. They write to the
wife and threaten to come and expose her. She asks for a
hundred pounds and endeavours to buy them off. They come in
spite of it, and when the husband mentions casually to the wife
that there are newcomers in the cottage, she knows in some way
that they are her pursuers. She waits until her husband is asleep
and then she rushes down to endeavour to persuade them to leave
her in peace. Having no success, she goes again next morning,
and her husband meets her, as he has told us, as she comes out.
She promises him then not to go there again, but two days
afterwards the hope of getting rid of those dreadful neighbours
was too strong for her, and she made another attempt, taking
down with her the photograph which had probably been de-
manded from her. In the midst of this interview the maid rushed
in to say that the master had come home, on which the wife,
knowing that he would come straight down to the cottage,
hurried the inmates out at the back door, into the grove of
fir-trees, probably, which was mentioned as standing near. In
this way he found the place deserted. I shall be very much
surprised, however, if it is still so when he reconnoitres it this
evening. What do you think of my theory?"

  "It is all surmise."

  "But at least it covers all the facts. When new facts come to
our knowledge which cannot be covered by it, it will be time
enough to reconsider it. We can do nothing more until we have a
message from our friend at Norbury."

  But we had not a very long time to wait for that. It came just
as we had finished our tea.

      The cottage is still tenanted [it said]. Have seen the face

    again at the window. Will meet the seven-o'clock train and

    will take no steps until you arrive.

  He was waiting on the platform when we stepped out, and we
could see in the light of the station lamps that he was very pale,
and quivering with agitation.

  "They are still there, Mr. Holmes," said he, laying his hand
hard upon my friend's sleeve. "I saw lights in the cottage as I
came down. We shall settle it now once and for all."

  "What is your plan, then?" asked Holmes as he walked down
the dark tree-lined road.

  "I am going to force my way in and see for myself who is in
the house. I wish you both to be there as witnesses."

  "You are quite determined to do this in spite of your wife's
warning that it is better that you should not solve the mystery?"

  "Yes, I am deterrnined."

  "Well, I think that you are in the right. Any truth is better
than indefinite doubt. We had better go up at once. Of course,
legally, we are putting ourselves hopelessly in the wrong; but I
think that it is worth it."

  It was a very dark night, and a thin rain began to fall as we
turned from the highroad into a narrow lane, deeply rutted, with
hedges on either side. Mr. Grant Munro pushed impatiently
forward, however, and we stumbled after him as best we could.

  "There are the lights of my house," he murmured, pointing to
a glimmer among the trees. "And here is the cottage which I am
going to enter."

  We turned a corner in the lane as he spoke, and there was the
building close beside us. A yellow bar falling across the black
foreground showed that the door was not quite closed, and one
window in the upper story was brightly illuminated. As we
looked, we saw a dark blur moving across the blind.

  "There is that creature!" cried Grant Munro. "You can see
for yourselves that someone is there. Now follow me, and we
shall soon know all."

  We approached the door, but suddenly a woman appeared out
of the shadow and stood in the golden track of the lamplight. I
could not see her face in the darkness, but her arms were thrown
out in an attitude of entreaty.

  "For God's sake, don't, Jack!" she cried. "I had a presenti-
ment that you would come this evening. Think better of it, dear!
Trust me again, and you will never have cause to regret it."

  "I have trusted you too long, Effie," he cried sternly. "Leave
go of me! I must pass you. My friends and I are going to settle
this matter once and forever!" He pushed her to one side, and
we followed closely after him. As he threw the door open an old
woman ran out in front of him and tried to bar his passage, but
he thrust her back, and an instant afterwards we were all upon
the stairs. Grant Munro rushed into the lighted room at the top,
and we entered at his heels.

  It was a cosy, well-furnished apartment, with two candles
burning upon the table and two upon the mantelpiece. In the
corner, stooping over a desk, there sat what appeared to be a
little girl. Her face was turned away as we entered, but we could
see that she was dressed in a red frock, and that she had long
white gloves on. As she whisked round to us, I gave a cry of
surprise and horror. The face which she turned towards us was of
the strangest livid tint, and the features were absolutely devoid of
any expression. An instant later the mystery was explained.
Holmes, with a laugh, passed his hand behind the child's ear, a
mask peeled off from her countenance, and there was a little
coal-black negress, with all her white teeth flashing in amuse-
ment at our amazed faces. I burst out laughing, out of sympathy
with her merriment; but Grant Munro stood staring, with his
hand clutching his throat.

  "My God!" he cried. "What can be the meaning of this?"

  "I will tell you the meaning of it," cried the lady, sweeping
into the room with a proud, set face. "You have forced me,
against my own judgment, to tell you, and now we must both
make the best of it. My husband died at Atlanta. My child
survived."

  "Your child?"

  She drew a large silver locket from her bosom. "You have
never seen this open."

  "I understood that it did not open."

  She touched a spring, and the front hinged back. There was a
portrait within of a man strikingly handsome and intelligent-
looking, but bearing unmistakable signs upon his features of his
African descent.

  "That is John Hebron, of Atlanta," said the lady, "and a
nobler man never walked the earth. I cut myself off from my
race in order to wed him, but never once while he lived did I for
an instant regret it. It was our misfortune that our only child took
after his people rather than mine. It is often so in such matches,
and little Lucy is darker far than ever her father was. But dark or
fair, she is my own dear little girlie, and her mother's pet." The
little creature ran across at the words and nestled up against the
lady's dress. "When I left her in America," she continued, "it
was only because her health was weak, and the change might
have done her harm. She was given to the care of a faithful
Scotch woman who had once been our servant. Never for an
instant did I dream of disowning her as my child. But when
chance threw you in my way, Jack, and I learned to love you, I
feared to tell you about my child. God forgive me, I feared that I
should lose you, and I had not the courage to tell you. I had to
choose between you, and in my weakness I turned away from
my own little girl. For three years I have kept her existence a
secret from you, but I heard from the nurse, and I knew that all
was well with her. At last, however, there came an overwhelm-
ing desire to see the child once more. I struggled against it, but
in vain. Though I knew the danger, I determined to have the
child over, if it were but for a few weeks. I sent a hundred
pounds to the nurse, and I gave her instructions about this
cottage, so that she might come as a neighbour, without my
appearing to be in any way connected with her. I pushed my
precautions so far as to order her to keep the child in the house
	during the daytime, and to cover up her little face and hands so
that even those who might see her at the window should not
gossip about there being a black child in the neighbourhood. If I
had been less cautious I might have been more wise. but I was
half crazy with fear that you should learn the truth.

   It was you who told me first that the cottage was occupied. I
should have waited for the morning, but I could not sleep for
excitement, and so at last I slipped out, knowing how difficult it
is to awake you. But you saw me go, and that was the beginning
of my troubles. Next day you had my secret at your mercy, but
you nobly refrained from pursuing your advantage. Three days
later, however, the nurse and child only just escaped from the
back door as you rushed in at the front one. And now to-night
you at last know all, and I ask you what is to become of us, my
child and me?" She clasped her hands and waited for an answer.

  It was a long ten minutes before Grant Munro broke the
silence, and when his answer came it was one of which I love to
think. He lifted the little child, kissed her, and then, still carry-
ing her, he held his other hand out to his wife and turned towards
the door.

  "We can talk it over more comfortably at home," said he. "I
am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one
than you have given me credit for being."

  Holmes and I followed them down the lane, and my friend
plucked at my sleeve as we came out.

  "I think," said he, "that we shall be of more use in London
than in Norbury."

  Not another word did he say of the case until late that night,
when he was turning away, with his lighted candle, for his
bedroom.

  "Watson," said he, "if it should ever strike you that I am
getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains
to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear,
and I shall be infinitely obliged to you."

                   The Stock-Broker's Clerk

  Shortly after my marriage I had bought a connection in the
Paddington district. Old Mr. Farquhar, from whom I purchased
it, had at one time an excellent general practice; but his age, and
an affliction of the nature of St. Vitus's dance from which he
suffered, had very much thinned it. The public not unnaturally
goes on the principle that he who would heal others must him-
self be whole, and looks askance at the curative powers of the
man whose own case is beyond the reach of his drugs. Thus as
my predecessor weakened his practice declined, until when I
purchased it from him it had sunk from twelve hundred to little
more than three hundred a year. I had confidence, however, in
my own youth and energy and was convinced that in a very few
years the concern would be as flourishing as ever.

  For three months after taking over the practice I was kept very
closely at work and saw little of my friend Sherlock Holmes, for
I was too busy to visit Baker Street, and he seldom went
anywhere himself save upon professional business. I was sur-
prised, therefore, when, one morning in June, as I sat reading
the British Medical Journal after breakfast, I heard a ring at the
bell, followed by the high, somewhat strident tones of my old
companion's voice.

  "Ah, my dear Watson," said he, striding into the room, "I
am very delighted to see you! I trust that Mrs. Watson has entirely
recovered from all the little excitements connected with our
adventure of the Sign of Four."

  "Thank you, we are both very well," said I, shaking him
warmly by the hand.

  "And I hope, also," he continued, sitting down in the rocking-
chair, "that the cares of medical practice have not entirely
obliterated the interest which you used to take in our little
deductive problems."

  "On the contrary," I answered, "it was only last night that I
was looking over my old notes, and classifying some of our past
results."

  "I trust that you don't consider your collection closed."

  "Not at all. I should wish nothing better than to have some
more of such experiences."

  "To-day, for example?"

  "Yes, to-day, if you like."

  "And as far off as Birmingham?"

  "Certainly, if you wish it."

  "And the practice?"

  "I do my neighbour's when he goes. He is always ready to
work off the debt."

  "Ha! nothing could be better," said Holmes, leaning back in
his chair and looking keenly at me from under his half-closed
lids. "I perceive that you have been unwell lately. Summer colds
are always a little trying."

  "I was confined to the house by a severe chill for three days
last week. I thought, however, that I had cast off every trace of
it."

  "So you have. You look remarkably robust."

  "How, then, did you know of it?"

  "My dear fellow, you know my methods."

  "You deduced it, then?"

  "Certainly."

  "And from what?"

  "From your slippers."

  I glanced down at the new patent-leathers which I was wear-
ing. "How on earth --" I began, but Holmes answered my
question before it was asked.

  "Your slippers are new," he said. "You could not have had
them more than a few weeks. The soles which you are at this
moment presenting to me are slightly scorched. For a moment I
thought they might have got wet and been burned in the drying.
But near the instep there is a small circular wafer of paper with
the shopman's hieroglyphics upon it. Damp would of course
have removed this. You had, then, been sitting with your feet
outstretched to the fire, which a man would hardly do even in so
wet a June as this if he were in his full health."

  Like all Holmes's reasoning the thing seemed simplicity itself
when it was once explained. He read the thought upon my
features, and his smile had a tinge of bitterness.

  "I am afraid that I rather give myself away when I explain."
said he. "Results without causes are much more impressive.
You are ready to come to Birmingham. then?"

  "Certainly. What is the case?"

  "You shall hear it all in the train. My client is outside in a
four-wheeler. Can you come at once?"

  "In an instant." I scribbled a note to my neighbour, rushed
upstairs to explain the matter to my wife, and joined Holmes
upon the doorstep.

  "Your neighbour is a doctor." said he, nodding at the brass
plate.

  "Yes, he bought a practice as I did."

  "An old-established one?"

  "Just the same as mine. Both have been ever since the houses
were built."

  "Ah! then you got hold of the best of the two."

  "I think I did. But how do you know?"

  "By the steps, my boy. Yours are worn three inches deeper
than his. But this gentleman in the cab is my client, Mr. Hall
Pycroft. Allow me to introduce you to him. Whip your horse up,
cabby, for we have only just time to catch our train."

  The man whom I found myself facing was a well-built, fresh-
complexioned young fellow, with a frank, honest face and a
slight, crisp, yellow moustache. He wore a very shiny top-hat
and a neat suit of sober black, which made him look what he
was -- a smart young City man, of the class who have been
labelled cockneys, but who give us our crack volunteer regi-
ments, and who turn out more fine athletes and sportsmen than
any body of men in these islands. His round, ruddy face was
naturally full of cheeriness, but the corners of his mouth seemed
to me to be pulled down in a half-comical distress. It was not,
however, until we were in a first-class carriage and well started
upon our journey to Birmingham that I was able to learn what
the trouble was which had driven him to Sherlock Holmes.

  "We have a clear run here of seventy minutes," Holmes
remarked. "I want you, Mr. Hall Pycroft, to tell my friend your
very interesting experience exactly as you have told it to me, or
with more detail if possible. It will be of use to me to hear the
succession of events again. It is a case, Watson, which may
prove to have something in it, or may prove to have nothing, but
which, at least, presents those unusual and outre features which
are as dear to you as they are to me. Now, Mr. Pycroft. I shall
not interrupt you again."

  Our young companion looked at me with a twinkle in his eye.

  "The worst of the story is." said he. "that I show myself up
as such a confounded fool. Of course it may work out all right.
and I don't see that I could have done otherwise; but if I have
lost my crib and get nothing in exchange I shall feel what a soft
Johnny I have been. I'm not very good at telling a story, Dr.
Watson, but it is like this with me:

  "I used to have a billet at Coxon & Woodhouse's, of Draper
Gardens, but they were let in early in the spring through the
Venezuelan loan, as no doubt you remember, and came a nasty
cropper. I have been with them five years. and old Coxon gave
me a ripping good testimonial when the smash came. but of
course we clerks were all turned adrift, the twenty-seven of us. I
tried here and tried there, but there were lots of other chaps on
the same lay as myself, and it was a perfect frost for a long time.
I had been taking three pounds a week at Coxon's, and I had
saved about seventy of them, but I soon worked my way through
that and out at the other end. I was fairly at the end of my tether
at last, and could hardly find the stamps to answer the advertise-
ments or the envelopes to stick them to. I had worn out my
boots paddling up office stairs, and I seemed just as far from
getting a billet as ever.

  "At last I saw a vacancy at Mawson & Williams's, the great
stock-broking firm in Lombard Street. I dare say E. C. is not
much in your line, but I can tell you that this is about the richest
house in London. The advertisement was to be answered by
letter only. I sent in my testimonial and application, but without
the least hope of getting it. Back came an answer by return,
saying that if I would appear next Monday I might take over my
new duties at once, provided that my appearance was satisfac-
tory. No one knows how these things are worked. Some people
say that the manager just plunges his hand into the heap and
takes the first that comes. Anyhow it was my innings that time,
and I don't ever wish to feel better pleased. The screw was a
pound a week rise, and the duties just about the same as at
Coxon's.

  "And now I come to the queer part of the business. I was in
diggings out Hampstead way, 17 Potter's Terrace. Well, I was
sitting doing a smoke that very evening after I had been prom-
ised the appointment, when up came my landlady with a card
which had 'Arthur Pinner, Financial Agent,' printed upon it. I
had never heard the name before and could not imagine what he
wanted with me, but of course I asked her to show him up. In he
walked, a middle-sized dark-haired, dark-eyed. black-bearded
man. with a touch of the sheeny about his nose. He had a brisk
kind of way with him and spoke sharply, like a man who knew
the value of time.

  " 'Mr. Hall Pycroft, I believe?' said he.

  " 'Yes, sir,' I answered, pushing a chair towards him.

  " 'Lately engaged at Coxon & Woodhouse's?'

  " 'Yes, sir.'

  " 'And now on the staff of Mawson's.'

  " 'Quite so.'

  " 'Well.' said he, 'the fact is that I have heard some really
extraordinary stories about your financial ability. You remember
Parker, who used to be Coxon's manager. He can never say
enough about it.'

  "Of course I was pleased to hear this. I had always been
pretty sharp in the office, but I had never dreamed that I was
talked about in the City in this fashion.

  " 'You have a good memory?' said he.

  " 'Pretty fair,' I answered modestly.

  " 'Have you kept in touch with the market while you have-
been out of work?' he asked.

  " 'Yes. I read the stock-exchange list every morning.'

  " 'Now that shows real application!' he cried. 'That is the
way to prosper! You won't mind my testing you, will you? Let
me see. How are Ayrshires?'

  " 'A hundred and six and a quarter to a hundred and five and
seven-eighths.'

  " 'And New Zealand consolidated?'

  " 'A hundred and four.'

  " 'And British Broken Hills?'

  " 'Seven to seven-and-six.'

  " 'Wonderful!' he cried with his hands up. 'This quite fits in
with all that I had heard. My boy, my boy, you are very much
too good to be a clerk at Mawson's!'

  "This outburst rather astonished me, as you can think. 'Well,'
said I, 'other people don't think quite so much of me as you
seem to do, Mr. Pinner. I had a hard enough fight to get this
berth, and I am very glad to have it.'

  " 'Pooh, man; you should soar above it. You are not in your
true sphere. Now, I'll tell you how it stands with me. What I
have to offer is little enough when measured by your ability, but
when compared with Mawson's it's light to dark. Let me see.
When do you go to Mawson's?'

  " 'On Monday.'

  " 'Ha, ha! I think I would risk a little sporting flutter that you
don't go there at all.'

  " 'Not go to Mawson's'?'

  " 'No, sir. By that day you will be the business manager of
the Franco-Midland Hardware Company, Limited, with a hun-
dred and thirty-four branches in the towns and villages of France,
not counting one in Brussels and one in San Remo.'

  "This took my breath away. 'I never heard of it.' said I.

  " 'Very likely not. It has been kept very quiet, for the capital
was all privately subscribed, and it's too good a thing to let the
public into. My brother, Harry Pinner, is promoter, and joins the
board after allotment as managing director. He knew I was in the
swim down here and asked me to pick up a good man cheap. A
young, pushing man with plenty of snap about him. Parker spoke
of you, and that brought me here to-night. We can only offer you
a beggarly five hundred to start with.'

  " 'Five hundred a year!' I shouted.

  " 'Only that at the beginning; but you are to have an over-
riding commission of one per cent on all business done by your
agents, and you may take my word for it that this will come to
more than your salary.'

  " 'But I know nothing about hardware.'

  " 'Tut, my boy, you know about figures.'

  "My head buzzed, and I could hardly sit still in my chair. But
suddenly a little chill of doubt came upon me.

  " 'I must be frank with yoli,' said I. 'Mawson only gives me
two hundred, but Mawson is safe. Now, really, I know so little
about your company that --'

  " 'Ah, smart, smart!' he cried in a kind of ecstasy of delight.
'You are the very man for us. You are not to be talked over, and
quite right, too. Now, here's a note for a hundred pounds, and if
you think that we can do business you may just slip it into your
pocket as an advance upon your salary.'

  " 'That is very handsome,' said I. 'When should I take over
my new duties?'

  " 'Be in Birmingham to-morrow at one,' said he. 'I have a
note in my pocket here which you will take to my brother. You
will find him at 126B Corporation Street. where the temporary
offices of the company are situated. Of course he must confirm
your engagement, but between ourselves it will be all right.'

  " 'Really, I hardly know how to express my gratitude, Mr.
Pinner,' said I.

  " 'Not at all, my boy. You have only got your deserts. There
are one or two small things -- mere formalities -- which I must
arrange with you. You have a bit of paper beside you there.
Kindly write upon it "I am perfectly willing to act as business
manager to the Franco-Midland Hardware Company, Limited, at
a minimum salary of 500 pounds." '

  "I did as he asked. and he put the paper in his pocket.

  " 'There is one other detail,' said he. 'What do you intend to
do about Mawson's?'

  "I had forgotten all about Mawson's in my joy. 'I'll write and
resign,' said I.

  " 'Precisely what I don't want you to do. I had a row over
you with Mawson's manager. I had gone up to ask him about
you, and he was very offensive; accused me of coaxing you
away from the service of the firm, and that sort of thing. At last I
fairly lost my temper. "If you want good men you should pay
them a good price," said I.

  " ' "He would rather have our small price than your big
one," said he.

  " ' "I'll lay you a fiver," said I, "that when he has my offer
you'll never so much as hear from him again."

  " ' "Done!" said he. "We picked him out of the gutter, and
he won't leave us so easily." Those were his very words.'

  " 'The impudent scoundrel!' I cried. 'I've never so much as
seen him in my life. Why should I consider him in any way? I
shall certainly not write if you would rather I didn't.'

  " 'Good! That's a promise,' said he, rising from his chair.
'Well, I'm delighted to have got so good a man for my brother.
Here's your advance of a hundred pounds, and here is the letter.
Make a note of the address. 126B Corporation Street, and re-
member that one o'clock to-morrow is your appointment. Good-
night, and may you have all the fortune that you deserve!'

  "That's just about all that passed between us, as near as I can
remember. You can imagine, Dr. Watson, how pleased I was at
such an extraordinary bit of good fortune. I sat up half the night
hugging myself over it, and next day I was off to Birmingham
in a train that would take me in plenty time for my appointment.
I took my things to a hotel in New Street, and then I made my
way to the address which had been given me.

  "It was a quarter of an hour before my time, but I thought that
would makc no difference. 126B was a passage between two
large shops, which led to a winding stone stair, from which there
were many flats, let as offices to companies or professional men.
The names of the occupants were painted at the bottom on the
wall, but there was no such name as the Franco-Midland
Hardware Company, Limited. I stood for a few minutes with my
heart in my boots, wondering whether the whole thing was an
elaborate hoax or not, when up came a man and addressed me. He
was very like the chap I had seen the night before, the same
figure and voice, but he was clean-shaven and his hair was
lighter.

  " 'Are you Mr. Hall Pycroft?' he asked.

  " 'Yes,' said I.

  " 'Oh! I was expecting you, but you are a trifle before your
time. I had a note from my brother this morning in which he
sang your praises very loudly.'

  " 'I was just looking for the offices when you came.'

  " 'We have not got our name up yet, for we only secured
these temporary premises last week. Come up with me, and we
will talk the matter over.'

  "I followed him to the top of a very lofty stair, and there,
right under the slates, were a couple of empty, dusty little
rooms, uncarpeted and uncurtained, into which he led me. I had
thought of a great office with shining tables and rows of clerks,
such as I was used to, and I daresay I stared rather straight at the
two deal chairs and one little table, which with a ledger and a
waste-paper basket, made up the whole furniture.

  " 'Don't be disheartened, Mr. Pycroft,' said my new ac-
quaintance, seeing the length of my face. 'Rome was not built in
a day, and we have lots of money at our backs, though we don't
cut much dash yet in offices. Pray sit down, and let me have
your letter.'

  "I gave it to him, and he read it over very carefully.

  " 'You seem to have made a vast impression upon my brother
Arthur,' said he, 'and I know that he is a pretty shrewd judge.
He swears by London, you know; and I by Birmingham; but this
time I shall follow his advice. Pray consider yourself definitely
engaged.'

  " 'What are my duties?' I asked.

  " 'You will eventually manage the great depot in Paris, which
will pour a flood of English crockery into the shops of a hundred
and thirty-four agents in France. The purchase will be completed
in a week, and meanwhile you will remain in Birmingham and
make yourself useful.'

  " 'How?'

  "For answer, he took a big red book out of a drawer.

  " 'This is a directory of Paris,' said he, 'with the trades after
the names of the people. I want you to take it home with you
and to mark off all the hardware-sellers, with their addresses. It
would be of the greatest use to me to have them.'

  " 'Surely, there are classified lists?' I suggested.

  " 'Not reliable ones. Their system is different from ours. Stick at
it, and let me have the lists by Monday, at twelve. Good-day,
Mr. Pycroft. If you continue to show zeal and intelligence you
will find the company a good master.'

  "I went back to the hotel with the big book under my arm, and
with very conflicting feelings in my breast. On the one hand, I
was definitely engaged and had a hundred pounds in my pocket;
on the other, the look of the offices, the absence of name on the
wall, and other of the points which would strike a business man
had left a bad impression as to the position of my employers.
However, come what might, I had my money, so l settled down
to my task. All Sunday I was kept hard at work, and yet by
Monday I had only got as far as H. I went round to my
employer, found him in the same dismantled kind of room, and
was told to keep at it until Wednesday, and then come again. On
Wednesday it was still unfinished, so I hammered away until
Friday -- that is, yesterday. Then I brought it round to Mr. Harry
Pinner.

  " 'Thank you very much,' said he, 'I fear that I underrated
the difficulty of the task. This list will be of very material
assistance to me.'

  " 'It took some time,' said I.

  " 'And now,' said he, 'I want you to make a list of the
furniture shops, for they all sell crockery.'

  " 'Very good.'

  " 'And you can come up to-morrow evening at seven and let
me know how you are getting on. Don't overwork yourself. A
couple of hours at Day's Music Hall in the evening would do
you no harm after your labours.' He laughed as he spoke, and I
saw with a thrill that his second tooth upon the left-hand side had
been very badly stuffed with gold."

  Sherlock Holmes rubbed his hands with delight, and I stared
with astonishment at our client.

  "You may well look surprised, Dr. Watson, but it is this
way," said he: "When I was speaking to the other chap in
London, at the time that he laughed at my not going to Maw-
son's, I happened to notice that his tooth was stuffed in this very
identical fashion. The glint of the gold in each case caught my
eye, you see. When I put that with the voice and figure being the
same, and only those things altered which might be changed by a
razor or a wig, I could not doubt that it was the same man. Of
course you expect two brothers to be alike, but not that they
should have the same tooth stuffed in the same way. He bowed
me out, and I found myself in the street, hardly knowing whether
I was on my head or my heels. Back I went to my hotel, put my
head in a basin of cold water, and tried to think it out. Why had
he sent me from London to Birmingham? Why had he got there
before me? And why had he written a letter from himself to
himself? It was altogether too much for me, and I could make no
sense of it. And then suddenly it struck me that what was dark to
me might be very light to Mr. Sherlock Holmes. I had just time
to get up to town by the night train to see him this morning, and
to bring you both back with me to Birmingham."

  There was a pause after the stock-broker's clerk had concluded
his surprising experience. Then Sherlock Holmes cocked his eye
at me, leaning back on the cushions with a pleased and yet
critical face, like a connoisseur who has just taken his first sip of
a comet vintage.

  "Rather fine, Watson, is it not?" said he. "There are points
in it which please me. I think that you will agree with me that an
interview with Mr. Arthur Harry Pinner in the temporary offices
of the Franco-Midland Hardware Company, Limited, would be a
rather interesting experience for both of us."

  "But how can we do it?" I asked.

  "Oh, easily enough," said Hall Pycroft cheerily. "You are
two friends of mine who are in want of a billet, and what could
be more natural than that I should bring you both round to the
managing direetor?"

  "Quite so, of course," said Holmes. "I should like to have a
look at the gentleman and see if I can make anything of his little
game. What qualities have you, my friend, which would make
your services so valuable? Or is it possible that --" He began
biting his nails and staring blankly out of the window, and we
hardly drew another word from him until we were in New Street.

  At seven o'clock that evening we were walking, the three of
us, down Corporation Street to the company's offices.

  "It is no use our being at all before our time," said our client.
"He only comes there to see me, apparently, for the place is
deserted up to the very hour he names."

  "That is suggestive," remarked Holmes.

  "By Jove, I told you so!" cried the clerk. "That's he walking
ahead of us there."

  He pointed to a smallish, dark, well-dressed man who was
bustling along the other side of the road. As we watched him he
looked across at a boy who was bawling out the latest edition of
the evening paper, and, running over among the cabs and busses,
he bought one from him. Then, clutching it in his hand, he
vanished through a doorway.

  "There he goes!" cried Hall Pycroft. "These are the compa-
ny's offices into which he has gone. Come with me, and I'll fix
it up as easily as possible."

  Following his lead, we ascended five stories, until we found
ourselves outside a half-opened door, at which our client tapped.
A voice within bade us enter, and we entered a bare, unfurnished
room such as Hall Pycroft had described. At the single table sat
the man whom we had seen in the street, with his evening paper
spread out in front of him, and as he looked up at us it seemed to
me that I had never looked upon a face which bore such marks of
grief, and of something beyond grief -- of a horror such as comes
to few men in a lifetime. His brow glistened with perspiration,
his cheeks were of the dull, dead white of a fish's belly, and his
eyes were wild and staring. He looked at his clerk as though he
failed to recognize him, and I could see by the astonishment
depicted upon our conductor's face that this was by no means the
usual appearance of his employer.

  "You look ill, Mr. Pinner!" he exclaimed.

  "Yes, I am not very well," answered the other, making
obvious efforts to pull himself together and licking his dry lips
before he spoke. "Who are these gentlemen whom you have
brought with you?"

  "One is Mr. Harris, of Bermondsey, and the other is Mr.
Price, of this town," said our clerk glibly. "They are friends of
mine and gentlemen of experience, but they have been out of a
place for some little time, and they hoped that perhaps you might
find an opening for them in the company's employment."

  "Very possibly! very possibly!" cried Mr. Pinner with a
ghastly smile. "Yes, I have no doubt that we shall be able to do
something for you. What is your particular line, Mr. Harris?"

  "I am an accountant," said Holmes.

  "Ah, yes, we shall want something of the sort. And you. Mr.
Price? "

  "A clerk," said I.

  "I have every hope that the company may accommodate you.
I will let you know about it as soon as we come to any conclu-
sion. And now I beg that you will go. For God's sake leave me
to myself!"

  These last words were shot out of him, as though the con-
straint which he was evidently setting upon himself had sud-
denly and utterly burst asunder. Holmes and I glanced at each
other, and Hall Pycroft took a step towards the table.

  "You forget, Mr. Pinner, that I am here by appointment to
receive some directions from you," said he.

  "Certainly, Mr. Pycroft, certainly," the other resumed in a
calmer tone. "You may wait here a moment and there is no
reason why your friends should not wait with you. I will be
entirely at your service in three minutes, if I might trespass upon
your patience so far." He rose with a very courteous air, and,
bowing to us, he passed out through a door at the farther end of
the room, which he closed behind him.

  "What now?" whispered Holmes. "Is he giving us the slip?"

  "Impossible," answered Pycroft.

  "Why so?"

  "That door leads into an inner room."

  "There is no exit?"

  "None."

  "Is it furnished?"

  "It was empty yesterday."

  "Then what on earth can he be doing? There is something
which I don't understand in this matter. If ever a man was three
parts mad with terror, that man's name is Pinner. What can have
put the shivers on him?"

  "He suspects that we are detectives," I suggested.

  "That's it," cried Pycroft.

  Holmes shook his head. "He did not turn pale. He was pale
when we entered the room," said he. "It is just possible that --"

  His words were interrupted by a sharp rat-tat from the direc-
tion of the inner door.

  "What the deuce is he knocking at his own door for?" cried
the clerk.

  Again and much louder came the rat-tat-tat. We all gazed
expectantly at the closed door. Glancing at Holmes, I saw his
face turn rigid, and he leaned forward in intense excitement.
Then suddenly came a low guggling, gargling sound, and a brisk
drumming upon woodwork. Holmes sprang frantically across the
room and pushed at the door. It was fastened on the inner side.
Following his example, we threw ourselves upon it with all our
weight. One hinge snapped, then the other, and down came the
door with a crash. Rushing over it, we found ourselves in the
inner room. It was empty.

  But it was only for a moment that we were at fault. At one
corner, the corner nearest the room which we had left, there was
a second door. Holmes sprang to it and pulled it open. A coat
and waistcoat were lying on the floor, and from a hook behind
the door, with his own braces round his neck, was hanging the
managing director of the Franco-Midland Hardware Company.
His knees were drawn up, his head hung at a dreadful angle to
his body, and the clatter of his heels against the door made the
noise which had broken in upon our conversation. In an instant I
had caught him round the waist, and held him up while Holmes
and Pycroft untied the elastic bands which had disappeared
between the livid creases of skin. Then we carried him into the
other room, where he lay with a clay-coloured face, puffing his
purple lips in and out with every breath -- a dreadful wreck of all
that he had been but five minutes before.

  "What do you think of him, Watson?" asked Holmes.

  I stooped over him and examined him. His pulse was feeble
and intermittent, but his breathing grew longer, and there was a
little shivering of his eyelids, which showed a thin white slit of
ball beneath.

  "It has been touch and go with him," said I, "but he'll live
now. Just open that window, and hand me the water carafe." I
undid his collar, poured the cold water over his face, and raised
and sank his arms until he drew a long, natural breath. "It's only
a question of time now," said I as I turned away from him.

  Holmes stood by the table, with his hands deep in his trousers'
pockets and his chin upon his breast.

  "I suppose we ought to call the police in now," said he.
"And yet I confess that I'd like to give them a complete case
when they come."

  "It's a blessed mystery to me," cried Pycroft, scratching his
head. "Whatever they wanted to bring me all the way up here
for, and then --"

  "Pooh! All that is clear enough," said Holmes impatiently.
"It is this last sudden move."

  "You understand the rest, then?"

  "I think that it is fairly obvious. What do you say, Watson?"

  I shrugged my shoulders. "I must confess that I am out of my
depths," said I.

  "Oh, surely if you consider the events at first they can only
point to one conclusion."

  "What do you make of them?"

  "Well, the whole thing hinges upon two points. The first is
the making of Pycroft write a declaration by which he entered
the service of this preposterous company. Do you not see how
very suggestive that is?"

  "I am afraid I miss the point."

  "Well, why did they want him to do it? Not as a business
matter, for these arrangements are usually verbal, and there was
no earthly business reason why this should be an exception.
Don't you see, my young friend, that they were very anxious to
obtain a specimen of your handwriting, and had no other way of
doing it?"

  "And why?"

  "Quite so. Why? When we answer that we have made some
progress with our little problem. Why? There can be only one
adequate reason. Someone wanted to learn to imitate your writ-
ing and had to procure a specimen of it first. And now if we pass
on to the second point we find that each throws light upon the
other. That point is the request made by Pinner that you should
not resign your place, but should leave the manager of this
important business in the full expectation that a Mr. Hall Pycroft,
whom he had never seen, was about to enter the office upon the
Monday morning."

  "My God!" cried our client, "what a blind beetle I have
been!"

  "Now you see the point about the handwriting. Suppose that
someone turned up in your place who wrote a completely differ-
ent hand from that in which you had applied for the vacancy, of
course the game would have been up. But in the interval the
rogue had learned to imitate you, and his position was therefore
secure, as I presume that nobody in the office had ever set eyes
upon you.

  "Not a soul," groaned Hall Pycroft.

  "Very good. Of course it was of the utmost importance to
prevent you from thinking better of it, and also to keep you from
coming into contact with anyone who might tell you that your
double was at work in Mawson's office. Therefore they gave
you a handsome advance on your salary, and ran you off to the
Midllands, where they gave you enough work to do to prevent
your going to London, where you might have burst their little
game up. That is all plain enough."

  "But why should this man pretend to be his own brother?"

  "Well, that is pretty clear also. There are evidently only two
of them in it. The other is impersonating you at the office. This
one acted as your engager, and then found that he could not find
you an employer without admitting a third person into his plot.
That he was most unwilling to do. He changed his appearance as
far as he could, and trusted that the likeness, which you could
not fail to observe, would be put down to a family resemblance.
But for the happy chance of the gold stuffing, your suspicions
would probably never have been aroused."

  Hall Pycroft shook his clenched hands in the air. "Good
Lord!" he cried, "while I have been fooled in this way, what
has this other Hall Pycroft been doing at Mawson's? What
should we do, Mr. Holmes? Tell me what to do."

  "We must wire to Mawson's."

  "They shut at twelve on Saturdays."

  "Never mind. There may be some door-keeper or attendant --"

  "Ah, yes, they keep a permanent guard there on account of
the value of the securities that they hold. I remember hearing it
talked of in the City."

  "Very good, we shall wire to him and see if all is well, and if
a clerk of your name is working there. That is clear enough, but
what is not so clear is why at sight of us one of the rogues should
instantly walk out of the room and hang himself."

  "The paper!" croaked a voice behind us. The man was sitting
up, blanched and ghastly, with returning reason in his eyes, and
hands which rubbed nervously at the broad red band which still
encircled his throat.

  "The paper! Of course!" yelled Holmes in a paroxysm of
excitement. "Idiot that I was! I thought so much of our visit that
the paper never entered my head for an instant. To be sure, the
secret must lie there." He flattened it out upon the table, and a
cry of triumph burst from his lips. "Look at this, Watson," he
cried. "It is a London paper, an early edition of the Evening
Standard. Here is what we want. Look at the headlines: 'Crime
in the City. Murder at Mawson & Williams's. Gigantic At-
tempted Robbery. Capture of the Criminal.' Here, Watson, we
are all equally anxious to hear it, so kindly read it aloud to
us."

  It appeared from its position in the paper to have been the one
event of importance in town, and the account of it ran in this
way:

     "A desperate attempt at robbery, culminating in the death

   of one man and the capture of the criminal, occurred this

   afternoon in the City. For some time back Mawson &

   Williams, the famous financial house, have been the guard-

   ians of securities which amount in the aggregate to a sum of

   considerably over a million sterling. So conscious was the

   manager of the responsibility which devolved upon him in

   consequence of the great interests at stake that safes of the

   very latest construction have been employed, and an armed

   watchman has been left day and night in the building. It

   appears that last week a new clerk named Hall Pycroft was

   engaged by the firm. This person appears to have been none

   other than Beddington, the famous forger and cracksman,

   who, with his brother, has only recently emerged from a

   five years' spell of penal servitude. By some means, which

   are not yet clear, he succeeded in winning, under a false

   name, this official position in the office, which he utilized

   in order to obtain mouldings of various locks, and a thor-

   ough knowledge of the position of the strongroom and the

   safes.

     "It is customary at Mawson's for the clerks to leave at

   midday on Saturday. Sergeant Tuson, of the City police,

   was somewhat surprised, therefore, to see a gentleman with

   a carpet-bag come down the steps at twenty minutes past

   one. His suspicions being aroused, the sergeant followed

   the man, and with the aid of Constable Pollock succeeded,

   after a most desperate resistance, in arresting him. It was at

   once clear that. a daring and gigantic robbery had been

   committed. Nearly a hundred thousand pounds' worth of

   American railway bonds, with a large amount of scrip in

   mines and other companies, was discovered in the bag. On

   examining the premises the body of the unfortunate watch-

   man was found doubled up and thrust into the largest of the

   safes, where it would not have been discovered until Mon-

   day morning had it not been for the prompt action of

   Sergeant Tuson. The man's-skull had been shattered by a

   blow from a poker delivered from behind. There could be

   no doubt that Beddington had obtained entrance by pretend-

   ing that he had left something behind him, and having

   murdered the watchman, rapidly rifled the large safe, and

   then made off with his booty. His brother, who usually

   works with him, has not appeared in this job as far as can at

   present be ascertained, although the police are making ener-

   getic inquiries as to his whereabouts."

  "Well, we may save the police some little trouble in that
direction," said Holmes, glancing at the haggard figure huddled
up by the window. "Human nature is a strange mixture, Watson.
You see that even a villain and murderer can inspire such
affection that his brother turns to suicide when he learns that his
neck is forfeited. However, we have no choice as to our action.
The doctor and I will remain on guard, Mr. Pycroft, if you will
have the kindness to step out for the police."

                   The "Gloria Scott"

  "I have some papers here," said my friend Sherlock Holmes as
we sat one winter's night on either side of the fire, "which I
really think, Watson, that it would be worth your while to glance
over. These are the documents in the extraordinary case of the
Gloria Scott, and this is the message which struck Justice of the
Peace Trevor dead with horror when he read it."

  He had picked from a drawer a little tarnished cylinder, and.
undoing the tape, he handed me a short note scrawled upon a
half-sheet of slate-gray paper.

      The supply of game for London is going steadily up {it

    ran]. Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to

    receive all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your

    hen-pheasant's life.

  As I glanced up from reading this enigmatical message, I saw
Holmes chuckling at the expression upon my face.

  "You look a little bewildered," said he.

  "I cannot see how such a message as this could inspire horror.
It seems to me to be rather grotesque than otherwise."

  "Very likely. Yet the fact remains that the reader, who was a
fine, robust old man, was knocked clean down by it as if it had
been the butt end of a pistol."

  "You arouse my curiosity," said I. "But why did you say
just now that there were very particular reasons why I should
study this case?"

  "Because it was the first in which I was ever engaged."

  I had often endeavoured to elicit from my companion what
had first turned his mind in the direction of criminal research,
but had never caught him before in a communicative humour.
Now he sat forward in his armchair and spread out the docu-
ments upon his knees. Then he lit his pipe and sat for some time
smoking and turning them over.

  "You never heard me talk of Victor Trevor?" he asked. "He
was the only friend I made during the two years I was at college.
I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson, always rather fond
of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods
of thought, so that I never mixed much with the men of my year.
Bar fencing and boxing I had few athletic tastes, and then my
line of study was quite distinct from that of the other fellows, so
that we had no points of contact at all. Trevor was the only man
I knew, and that only through the accident of his bull terrier
freezing on to my ankle one morning as I went down to chapel.

  "It was a prosaic way of forming a friendship, but it was
effective. I was laid by the heels for ten days, and Trevor used to
come in to inquire after me. At first it was only a minute's chat
but soon his visits lengthened, and before the end of the term we
were close friends. He was a hearty, full-blooded fellow, full of
spirits and energy, the very opposite to me in most respects, but
we had some subjects in common, and it was a bond of union
when I found that he was as friendless as I. Finally he invited me
down to his father's place at Donnithorpe, in Norfolk, and I
accepted his hospitality for a month of the long vacation.

  "Old Trevor was evidently a man of some wealth and consid-
eration, a J. P., and a landed proprietor. Donnithorpe is a little
hamlet just to the north of Langmere, in the country of the
Broads. The house was an old-fashioned, widespread, oak-beamed
brick building, with a fine lime-lined avenue leading up to it.
There was excellent wild-duck shooting in the fens, remarkably
good fishing, a small but select library, taken over, as I under-
stood, from a former occupant, and a tolerable cook, so that he
would be a fastidious man who could not put in a pleasant month
there.

  "Trevor senior was a widower, and my friend his only son.

  "There had been a daughter, I heard, but she had died of
diphtheria while on a visit to Birmingham. The father interested
me extremely. He was a man of little culture, but with a consid-
erable amount of rude strength, both physically and mentally. He
knew hardly any books, but he had travelled far, had seen much
of the world, and had remembered all that he had learned. In
person he was a thick-set, burly man with a shock of grizzled
hair, a brown, weather-beaten face, and blue eyes which were
keen to the verge of fierceness. Yet he had a reputation for
kindness and charity on the countryside, and was noted for the
leniency of his sentences from the bench.

  "One evening, shortly after my arrival, we were sitting over a
glass of port after dinner, when young Trevor began to talk about
those habits of observation and inference which I had already
formed into a system, although I had not yet appreciated the part
which they were to play in my life. The old man evidently
thought that his son was exaggerating in his description of one or
two trivial feats which I had performed.

  " 'Come, now, Mr. Holmes,' said he, laughing good-
humouredly. 'I'm an excellent subject, if you can deduce any-
thing from me.'

  " 'I fear there is not very much,' I answered. 'I might suggest
that you have gone about in fear of some personal attack within
the last twelvemonth.'

  "The laugh faded from his lips, and he stared at me in great
surprlse.

  " 'Well, that's true enough,' said he. 'You know, Victor,'
turning to his son, 'when we broke up that poaching gang they
swore to knife us, and Sir Edward Holly has actually been
attacked. I've always been on my guard since then, though I
have no idea how you know it.'

  " 'You have a very handsome stick,' I answered. 'By the
inscription I observed that you had not had it more than a year.
But you have taken some pains to bore the head of it and pour
melted lead into the hole so as to make it a formidable weapon. I
argued that you would not take such precautions unless you had
some danger to fear.'

  " 'Anything else?' he asked, smiling.

  " 'You have boxed a good deal in your youth.'

  " 'Right again. How did you know it? Is my nose knocked a
little out of the straight?'

  " 'No,' said I. 'It is your ears. They have the peculiar flatten-
ing and thickening which marks the boxing man.'

  " 'Anything else?'

  " 'You have done a good deal of digging by your callosities.'

  " 'Made all my money at the gold fields.'

  " 'You have been in New Zealand.'

  " 'Right again.'

  " 'You have visited Japan.'

  " 'Quite true.'

  " 'And you have been most intimately associated with some-
one whose initials were J. A., and whom you afterwards were
eager to entirely forget.'

  "Mr. Trevor stood slowly up, fixed his large blue eyes upon
me with a strange wild stare, and then pitched forward, with his
face among the nutshells which strewed the cloth, in a dead
faint.

  "You can imagine, Watson, how shocked both his son and I
were. His attack did not last long, however,- for when we undid
his collar and sprinkled the water from one of the finger-glasses
over his face, he gave a gasp or two and sat up.

  " 'Ah, boys,' said he, forcing a smile, 'I hope I haven't
frightened you. Strong as I look, there is a weak place in my
heart, and it does not take much to knock me over. I don't know
how you manage this, Mr. Holmes, but it seems to me that all
the detectives of fact and of fancy would be children in your
hands. That's your line of life, sir, and you may take the word of
a man who has seen something of the world.'

  "And that recommendation, with the exaggerated estimate of
my ability with which he prefaced it, was, if you will believe
me, Watson, the very first thing which ever made me feel that a
profession might be made out of what had up to that time been
the merest hobby. At the moment, however, I was too much
concerned at the sudden illness of my host to think of anything
else.

  " 'I hope that I have said nothing to pain you?' said I.

  " 'Well, you certainly touched upon rather a tender point.
Might I ask how you know, and how much you know?' He
spoke now in a half-jesting fashion, but a look of terror still
lurked at the back of his eyes.

  " 'It is simplicity itself,' said I. 'When you bared your arm to
draw that fish into the boat I saw that J. A. had been tattooed in
the bend of the elbow. The letters were still legible, but it was
perfectly clear from their blurred appearance, and from the stain-
ing of the skin round them, that efforts had been made to
obliterate them. It was obvious, then, that those initials had once
been very familiar to you, and that you had afterwards wished to
forget them.'

  " 'What an eye you have!' he cried with a sigh of relief. 'It is
just as you say. But we won't talk of it. Of all ghosts the ghosts
of our old loves are the worst. Come into the billiard-room and
have a quiet cigar.'

  "From that day, amid all his cordiality, there was always a
touch of suspicion in Mr. Trevor's manner towards me. Even his
son remarked it. 'You've given the governor such a turn,' said
he, 'that he'll never be sure again of what you know and what
you don't know.' He did not mean to show it, I am sure, but it
was so strongly in his mind that it peeped out at every action. At
last I became so convinced that I was causing him uneasiness
that I drew my visit to a close. On the very day, however, before
I left, an incident occurred which proved in the sequel to be of
importance.

  "We were sitting out upon the lawn on garden chairs, the
three of us, basking in the sun and admiring the view across the
Broads, when a maid came out to say that there was a man at the
door who wanted to see Mr. Trevor.

  " 'What is his name?' asked my host.

  " 'He would not give any.'

  " 'What does he want, then?'

  " 'He says that you know him, and that he only wants a
moment's conversation.'

  " 'Show him round here.' An instant afterwards there ap-
peared a little wizened fellow with a cringing manner and a
shambling style of walking. He wore an open jacket, with a
splotch of tar on the sleeve, a red-and-black check shirt, dunga-
ree trousers, and heavy boots badly worn. His face was thin and
brown and crafty, with a perpetual smile upon it, which showed
an irregular line of yellow teeth, and his crinkled hands were half
closed in a way that is distinctive of sailors. As he came slouch-
ing across the lawn I heard Mr. Trevor make a sort of hiccoughing
noise in his throat, and, jumping out of his chair, he ran into the
house. He was back in a moment, and I smelt a strong reek of
brandy as he passed me.

  " 'Well, my man,' said he. 'What can I do for you?'

  "The sailor stood looking at him with puckered eyes, and with
the same loose-lipped smile upon his face.

  " 'You don't know me?' he asked.

  " 'Why, dear me, it is surely Hudson,' said Mr. Trevor in a
tone of surprise.

  " 'Hudson it is, sir,' said the seaman. 'Why, it's thirty year
and more since I saw you last. Here you are in your house, and
me still picking my salt meat out of the harness cask.'

  " 'Tut, you will find that I have not forgotten old times,'
cried Mr. Trevor, and, walking towards the sailor, he said
something in a low voice. 'Go into the kitchen,' he continued
out loud, 'and you will get food and drink. I have no doubt that I
shall find you a situation.'

  " 'Thank you, sir,' said the seaman, touching his forelock.
'I'm just off a two-yearer in an eight-knot tramp, short-handed at
that, and I wants a rest. I thought I'd get it either with Mr.
Beddoes or with you.'

  " 'Ah!' cried Mr. Trevor. 'You know where Mr. Beddoes is?'

  " 'Bless you, sir, I know where all my old friends are,' said
the fellow with a sinister smile, and he slouched off after the
maid to the kitchen. Mr. Trevor mumbled something to us about
having been shipmate with the man when he was going back to
the diggings, and then, leaving us on the lawn, he went indoors.
An hour later, when we entered the house, we found him stretched
dead drunk upon the dining-room sofa. The whole incident left a
most ugly impression upon my mind, and I was not sorry next
day to leave Donnithorpe behind me, for I felt that my presence
must be a source of embarrassment to my friend.

  "All this occurred during the first month of the long vacation.
I went up to my London rooms, where I spent seven weeks
working out a few experiments in organic chemistry. One day,
however, when the autumn was far advanced and the vacation
drawing to a close, I received a telegram from my friend implor-
ing me to return to Donnithorpe, and saying that he was in great
need of my advice and assistance. Of course I dropped every-
thing and set out for the North once more.

  "He met me with the dog-cart at the station, and I saw at a
glance that the last two months had been very trying ones for
him. He had grown thin and careworn, and had lost the loud,
cheery manner for which he had been remarkable.

  " 'The governor is dying,' were the first words he said.

  " 'Impossible!' I cried. 'What is the matter?'

  " 'Apoplexy. Nervous shock. He's been on the verge all day.
I doubt if we shall find him alive.'

  "I was, as you may think, Watson, horrified at this unex-
pected news.

  " 'What has caused it?' I asked.

  " 'Ah, that is the point. Jump in and we can talk it over while
we drive. You remember that fellow who came upon the evening
before you left us?'

  " 'Perfectly.'

  " 'Do you know who it was that we let into the house that
day?'

  " 'I have no idea.'

  " 'It was the devil, Holmes,' he cried.

  "I stared at him in astonishment.

  " 'Yes, it was the devil himself. We have not had a peaceful
hour since -- not one. The governor has never held up his head
from that evening, and now the life has been crushed out of him
and his heart broken, all through this accursed Hudson.'

  " 'What power had he, then?'

  " 'Ah, that is what I would give so much to know. The
kindly, charitable good old governor -- how could he have fallen
into the clutches of such a ruffian! But I am so glad that you
have come, Holmes. I trust very much to your judgment and
discretion, and I know that you will advise me for the best.'

  "We were dashing along the smooth white country road, with
the long stretch of the Broads in front of us glimmering in the
red light of the setting sun. From a grove upon our left I could
already see the high chimneys and the flagstaff which marked the
squire's dwelling.

  " 'My father made the fellow gardener,'- said my companion,
'and then, as that did not satisfy him, he was promoted to be
butler. The house seemed to be at his mercy, and he wandered
about and did what he chose in it. The maids complained of his
drunken habits and his vile language. The dad raised their wages
all round to recompense them for the annoyance. The fellow
would take the boat and my father's best gun and treat himself to
little shooting trips. And all this with such a sneering, leering,
insolent face that I would have knocked him down twenty times
over if he had been a man of my own age. I tell you, Holmes, I
have had to keep a tight hold upon myself all this time and now
I am asking myself whether, if I had let myself go a littie more, I
might not have been a wiser man.

  " 'Well, matters went from bad to worse with us, and this
animal Hudson became more and more intrusive, until at last, on
his making some insolent reply to my father in my presence one
day, I took him by the shoulders and turned him out of the room.
He slunk away with a livid face and two venomous eyes which
uttered more threats than his tongue could do. I don't know what
passed between the poor dad and him after that, but the dad
came to me next day and asked me whether I would mind
apologizing to Hudson. I refused, as you can imagine, and asked
my father how he could allow such a wretch to take such
liberties with himself and his household.

  " ' "Ah, my boy," said he, "it is all very well to talk, but
you don't know how I am placed. But you shall know, Victor.
I'll see that you shall know, come what may. You wouldn't
believe harm of your poor old father, would you, lad?" He was
very much moved and shut himself up in the study all day,
where I could see through the window that he was writing
busily.

  " 'That evening there came what seemed to me to be a grand
release, for Hudson told us that he was going to leave us. He
walked into the dining-room as we sat after dinner and an-
nounced his intention in the thick voice of a half-drunken man.

  " ' "I've had enough of Norfolk," said he. "I'll run down to
Mr. Beddoes in Hampshire. He'll be as glad to see me as you
were, I daresay."

  " ' "You're not going away in an unkind spirit, Hudson, I
hope," said my father with a tameness which made my blood
boil.

  " ' "I've not had my 'pology," said he sulkily, glancing in
my direction.

  " ' "Victor, you will acknowledge that you have used this
worthy fellow rather roughly," said the dad, turning to me.

  " ' "On the contrary, I think that we have both shown
extraordinary patience towards him," I answered.

  " ' "Oh, you do, do you?" he snarled. "Very good, mate.
We'll see about that!"

  " 'He slouched out of the room and half an hour afterwards
left the house, leaving my father in a state of pitiable nervous-
ness. Night after night I heard him pacing his room, and it was
just as he was recovering his confidence that the blow did at last
fall.'

  " 'And how?' I asked eagerly.

  " 'In a most extraordinary fashion. A letter arrived for my
father yesterday evening, bearing the Fordingham postmark. My
father read it, clapped both his hands to his head, and began
running round the room in little circles like a man who has been
driven out of his senses. When I at last drew him down on to the
sofa, his mouth and eyelids were all puckered on one side, and I
saw that he had a stroke. Dr. Fordham came over at once. We
put him to bed, but the paralysis has spread, he has shown no
sign of returning consciousness, and I think that we shall hardly
find him alive.'

  " 'You horrify me, Trevor!' I cried. 'What then could have
been in this letter to cause so dreadful a result?'

  " 'Nothing. There lies the inexplicable part of it. The message
was absurd and trivial. Ah, my God, it is as I feared!'

  "As he spoke we came round the curve of the avenue and saw
in the fading light that every blind in the house had been drawn
down. As we dashed up to the door, my friend's face convulsed
with grief, a gentleman in black emerged from it.

  " 'When did it happen, doctor?' asked Trevor.

  " 'Almost immediately after you left.'

  " 'Did he recover consciousness?'

  " 'For an instant before the end.'

  " 'Any message for me?'

  " 'Only that the papers were in the back drawer of the Japa-
nese cabinet.'

  "My friend ascended with the doctor to the chamber of death
while I remained in the study, turning the whole matter over and
over in my head, and feeling as sombre as ever I had done in my
life. What was the past of this Trevor, pugilist, traveller, and
gold-digger, and how had he placed himself in the power of this
acid-faced seaman? Why, too, should he faint at an allusion to
the half-effaced initials upon his arm and die of fright when he
had a letter from Fordingham? Then I remembered that Fordingham
was in Hampshire, and that this Mr. Beddoes, whom the seaman
had gone to visit and presumably to blackmail, had also been
mentioned as living in Hampshire. The letter, then, might either
come from Hudson, the seaman, saying that he had betrayed the
guilty secret which appeared to exist, or it might come from
Beddoes, warning an old confederate that such a betrayal was
imminent. So far it seemed clear enough. But then how could
this letter be trivial and grotesque, as described by the son? He
must have misread it. If so, it must have been one of those
ingenious secret codes which mean one thing while they seem to
mean another. I must see this letter. If there was a hidden
meaning in it, I was confident that I could pluck it forth. For an
hour I sat pondering over it in the gloom, until at last a weeping
maid brought in a lamp, and close at her heels came my friend
Trevor, pale but composed, with these very papers which lie
upon my knee held in his grasp. He sat down opposite to me,
drew the lamp to the edge of the table, and handed me a short
note scribbled, as you see, upon a single sheet of gray paper.
'The supply of game for London is going steadily up,' it ran.
'Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive
all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen-pheasant's
life. '

  "I daresay my face looked as bewildered as yours did just
now when first I read this message. Then I reread it very
carefully. It was evidently as I had thought, and some secret
meaning must lie buried in this strange combination of words. Or
could it be that there was a prearranged significance to such
phrases as 'fly-paper' and 'hen-pheasant'? Such a meaning would
be arbitrary and could not be deduced in any way. And yet I was
loath to believe that this was the case, and the presence of the
word Hudson seemed to show that the subject of the message
was as I had guessed, and that it was from Beddoes rather than
the sailor. I tried it backward, but the combination 'life pheas-
ant's hen' was not encouraging. Then I tried alternate words, but
neither 'the of for' nor 'supply game London' promised to throw
any light upon it.

  "And then in an instant the key of the riddle was in my hands,
and I saw that every third word, beginning with the first, would
give a message which might well drive old Trevor to despair.

  "It was short and terse, the warning, as I now read it to my
companion:

  " 'The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your life.'

  "Victor Trevor sank his face into his shaking hands. 'It must
be that, I suppose,' said he. 'This is worse than death, for it
means disgrace as well. But what is the meaning of these "head-
keepers" and "hen-pheasants"?'

  " 'It means nothing to the message, but it might mean a good
deal to us if we had no other means of discovering the sender.
You see that he has begun by writing "The . . . game . . . is,"
and so on. Afterwards he had, to fulfil the prearranged cipher, to
fill in any two words in each space. He would naturally use the
first words which came to his mind, and if there were so many
which referred to sport among them, you may be tolerably sure
that he is either an ardent shot or interested in breeding. Do you
know anything of this Beddoes?'

  " 'Why, now that you mention it,' said he, 'I remember that
my poor father used to have an invitation from him to shoot over
his preserves every autumn.'

  " 'Then it is undoubtedly from him that the note comes,' said
I. 'It only remains for us to find out what this secret was which
the sailor Hudson seems to have held over the heads of these two
wealthy and respected men.'

  " 'Alas, Holmes, I fear that it is one of sin and shame!' cried
my friend. 'But from you I shall have no secrets. Here is the
statement which was drawn up by my father when he knew that
the danger from Hudson had become imminent. I found it in the
Japanese cabinet, as he told the doctor. Take it and read it to me,
for I have neither the strength nor the courage to do it myself.'

  "These are the very papers, Watson, which he handed to me,
and I will read them to you, as I read them in the old study that
night to him. They are endorsed outside, as you see, 'Some
particulars of the voyage of the bark Gloria Scott, from her
leaving Falmouth on the 8th October, 1855, to her destruction in
N. Lat. 15 degrees 20'. W. Long. 25 degrees 14', on Nov. 6th.' It is
in the form of a letter, and runs in this way.

  " 'My dear. dear son. now that approaching disgrace begins
to darken the closing years of my life, I can write with all truth
and honesty that it is not the terror of the law, it is not the loss of
my position in the county, nor is it my fall in the eyes of all who
have known me, which cuts me to the heart; but it is the thought
that you should come to blush for me -- you who love me and
who have seldom, I hope, had reason to do other than respect
me. But if the blow falls which is forever hanging over me, then
I should wish you to read this, that you may know straight from
me how far I have been to blame. On the other hand, if all
should go well (which may kind God Almighty grant!), then, if
by any chance this paper should be still undestroyed and should
fall into your hands, I conjure you, by all you hold sacred, by
the memory of your dear mother, and by the love which has been
between us, to hurl it into the fire and to never give one thought
to it again.

  " 'If then your eye goes on to read this line, I know that I shall
already have been exposed and dragged from my home, or, as is
more likely, for you know that my heart is weak, be lying with
my tongue sealed forever in death. In either case the time for
suppression is past, and every word which I tell you is the naked
truth, and this I swear as I hope for mercy.

  " 'My name, dear lad, is not Trevor. I was James Armitage in
my younger days, and you can understand now the shock that it
was to me a few weeks ago when your college friend addressed
me in words which seemed to imply that he had surprised my
secret. As Armitage it was that I entered a London banking-
house, and as Armitage I was convicted of breaking my coun-
try's laws, and was sentenced to transportation. Do not think
very harshly of me, laddie. It was a debt of honour, so called,
which I had to pay, and I used money which was not my own to
do it, in the certainty that I could replace it before there could be
any possibility of its being missed. But the most dreadful ill-luck
pursued me. The money which I had reckoned upon never came
to hand, and a premature examination of accounts exposed my
deficit. The case might have been dealt leniently with, but the
laws were more harshly administered thirty years ago than now,
and on my twenty-third birthday I found myself chained as a
felon with thirty-seven other convicts in the 'tween-decks of the
bark Cloria Scott, bound for Australia.

  " 'It was the year '55, when the Crimean War was at its
height, and the old convict ships had been largely used as
transports in the Black Sea. The government was compelled,
therefore, to use smaller and less suitable vessels for sending out
their prisoners. The Gloria Scott had been in the Chinese tea-
trade, but she was an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed
craft, and the new clippers had cut her out. She was a five-
hundred-ton boat; and besides her thirty-eight jail-birds, she
carried twenty-six of a crew, eighteen soldiers, a captain, three
mates, a doctor, a chaplain, and four warders. Nearly a hundred
souls were in her, all told, when we set sail from Faltnouth.

  " 'The partitions between the cells of the convicts instead of
being of thick oak, as is usual in convict-ships, were quite thin
and frail. The man next to me, upon the aft side, was one whom
I had particularly noticed when we were led down the quay. He
was a young man with a clear, hairless face, a long, thin nose,
and rather nut-cracker jaws. He carried his head very jauntily in
the air, had a swaggering style of walking, and was above all
else, remarkable for his extraordinary height. I don't think any of
our heads would have come up to his shoulder, and I am sure
that he could not have measured less than six and a half feet. It
was strange among so many sad and weary faces to see one
which was full of energy and resolution. The sight of it was to
me like a fire in a snowstorm. I was glad, then, to find that he
was my neighbour, and gladder still when, in the dead of the
night, I heard a whisper close to my ear and found that he had
managed to cut an opening in the board which separated us.

  " ' "Hullo, chummy!" said he, "what's your name, and
what are you here for?"

  " 'I answered him, and asked in turn who I was talking with.

  " ' "I'm Jack Prendergast," said he, "and by God! you'll
learn to bless my name before you've done with me."

  " 'I remembered hearing of his case, for it was one which had
made an immense sensation throughout the country some time
before my own arrest. He was a man of good family and of great
ability, but of incurably vicious habits, who had by an ingenious
system of fraud obtained huge sums of money from the leading
London merchants.

  " ' "Ha, ha! You remember my case!" said he proudly.

  " ' "Very well', indeed."

  " ' "Then maybe you remember something queer about it?"

  " ' "What was that, then?"

  " ' "I'd had nearly a quarter of a million, hadn't I?"

  " ' "So it was said."

  " ' "But none was recovered, eh?"

  " ' "No. "

  " ' "Well, where d'ye suppose the balance is?" he asked.

  " ' "I have no idea," said I.

  " ' "Right between my finger and thumb," he cried. "By
God! I've got mare pounds to my name than you've hairs on
your head. And if you've money, my son, and know how to
handle it and spread it, you can do anything. Now, you don't
think it likely that a man who could do anything is going to wear
his breeches out sitting in the stinking hold of a rat-gutted
beetle-ridden, mouldy old coffin of a Chin China coaster. No,
sir, such a man will look after himself and will look after his
chums. You may lay to that! You hold on to him, and you may
kiss the Book that he'll haul you through."

  " 'That was his style of talk, and at first I thought it meant
nothing; but after a while, when he had tested me and sworn me
in with all possible solemnity, he let me understand that there
really was a plot to gain command of the vessel. A dozen of the
prisoners had hatched it before they came aboard, Prendergast
was the leader, and his money was the motive power.

  " ' "I'd a partner," said he, "a rare good man, as true as a
stock to a barrel. He's got the dibbs, he has, and where do you
think he is at this moment? Why, he's the chaplain of this
ship -- the chaplain, no less! He came aboard with a black coat,
and his papers right, and money enough in his box to buy the
thing right up from keel to main-truck. The crew are his, body
and soul. He could buy 'em at so much a gross with a cash
discount, and he did it before ever they signed on. He's got two
of the warders and Mereer, the second mate, and he'd get the
captain himself, if he thought him worth it."

  " ' "What are we to do, then?" I asked.

  " ' "What do you think?" said he. "We'll make the coats of
some of these soldiers redder than ever the tailor did."

  " ' "But they are armed," said I.

  " ' "And so shall we be, my boy. There's a brace of pistols
for every mother's son of us; and if we can't carry this ship, with
the crew at our back, it's time we were all sent to a young
misses' boarding-school. You speak to your mate upon the left
to-night, and see if he is to be trusted."

  " 'I did so and found my other neighbour to be a young fellow in
much the same position as myself, whose crime had been forg-
ery. His name was Evans, but he afterwards changed it, like
myself, and he is now a rich and prosperous man in the south of
England. He was ready enough to join the conspiracy, as the
only means of saving ourselves, and before we had crossed the
bay there were only two of the prisoners who were not in the
secret. One of these was of weak mind, and we did not dare to
trust him, and the other was suffering from jaundice and could not
be of any use to us.

  " 'From the beginning there was really nothing to prevent us
from taking possession of the ship. The crew were a set of
ruffians, specially picked for the job. The sham chaplain came
into our cells to exhort us, carrying a black bag, supposed to be
full of tracts, and so often did he come that by the third day we
had each stowed away at the foot of our beds a file, a brace of
pistols, a pound of powder, and twenty slugs. Two of the
warders were agents of Prendergast, and the second mate was his
right-hand man. The captain, the two mates, two warders, Lieu-
tenant Martin, his eighteen soldiers, and the doctor were all that
we had against us. Yet, safe as it was, we determihed to neglect
no precaution, and to make our attack suddenly by night. It
came, however, more quickly than we expected, and in this way.

  " 'One evening, about the third week after our start, the
doctor had come down to see one of the prisoners who was ill,
and putting his hand down on the bottom of his bunk, he felt the
outline of the pistols. If he had been silent he might have blown
the whole thing, but he was a nervous little chap, so he gave a
cry of surprise and turned so pale that the man knew what was up
in an instant and seized him. He was gagged before he could
give the alarm and tied down upon the bed. He had unlocked the
door that led to the deck, and we were through it in a rush.
The two sentries were shot down, and so was a corporal who
came running to see what was the matter. There were two more
soldiers at the door of the stateroom, and their muskets seemed
not to be loaded, for they never fired upon us, and they were
shot whi!e trying to fix their bayonets. Then we rushed on into
the captain's cabin, but as we pushed open the door there was an
explosion from within, and there he lay with his brains smeared
over the chart of the Atlantic which was pinned upon the table,
while the chaplain stood with a smoking pistol in his hand at his
elbow. The two mates had both been seized by the crew, and the
whole business seemed to be settled.

  " 'The stateroom was next the cabin, and we flocked in there
and flopped down on the settees, all speaking together, for we
were just mad with the feeling that we were free once more.
There were lockers all round, and Wilson, the sham chaplain,
knocked one of them in, and pulled out a dozen of brown sherry.
We cracked off the necks of the bottles, poured the stuff out into
tumblers, and were just tossing them off when in an instant
without warning there came the roar of muskets in our ears, and
the saloon was so full of smoke that we could not see across the
table. When it cleared again the place was a shambles. Wilson
and eight others were wriggling on the top of each other on the
floor, and the blood and the brown sherry on that table turn me
sick now when I think of it. We were so cowed by the sight that
I think we should have given the job up if it had not been for
Prendergast. He bellowed like a bull and rushed for the door
with all that were left alive at his heels. Out we ran, and there on
the poop were the lieutenant and ten of his men. The swing
skylights above the saloon table had been a bit open, and they
had fired on us through the slit. We got on them before they
could load, and they stood to it like men; but we had the upper
hand of them, and in five minutes it was all over. My God! was
there ever a slaughter-house like that ship! Prendergast was like a
raging devil, and he picked the soldiers up as if they had been
children and threw them overboard alive or dead. There was one
sergeant that was horribly wounded and yet kept on swimming
for a surprising time until someone in mercy blew out his brains.
When the fighting was over there was no one left of our enemies
except just the warders, the mates, and the doctor.

  " 'lt was over them that the great quarrel arose. There were
many of us who were glad enough to win back our freedom, and
yet who had no wish to have murder on our souls. It was one
thing to knock the soldiers over with their muskets in their
hands, and it was another to stand by while men were being
killed in cold blood. Eight of us, five convicts and three sailors,
said that we would not see it done. But there was no moving
Prendergast and those who were with him. Our only chance of
safety lay in making a clean job of it, salid he, and he would not
leave a tongue with power to wag in a witness-box. It nearly
came to our sharing the fate of the prisoners, but at last he said
that if we wished we might take a boat and go. We jumped at the
offer, for we were already sick of these blood-thirsty doings, and
we saw that there would be worse beforo it was done. We were
given a suit of sailor togs each, a barrel of water, two casks, one
of junk and one of biscuits, and a compass. Prendergast threw us
over a chart, told us that we were shiprecked mariners whose
ship had foundered in Lat. 15 degrees and Long. 25 degrees west, 
and then cut the painter and let us go.

  " 'And now I come to the most surprising part of my story,
my dear son. The seamen had hauled the fore-yard aback during
the rising, but now as we left them they brought it square again,
and as there was a light wind from the north and east the bark
began to draw slowly away from us. Our boat lay, rising and
falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and Evans and I, who
were the most educated of the party, were sitting in the sheets
working out our position and planning what coast we should
make for. It was a nice question, for the Cape Verdes were about
five hundred miles to the north of us, and the African coast about
seven hundred to the east. On the whole, as the wind was
coming round to the north, we thought hat Sierra Leone might
be best and turned our head in that direction, the bark being at
that time nearly hull down on our starboard quarter. Suddenly as
we looked at her we saw a dense black cloud of smoke shoot up
from her, which hung like a monstrous tree upon the sky-line. A
few seconds later a roar like thunder burst upon our ears, and as
the smoke thinned away there was no sign left of the Gloria
Scott. In an instant we swept the boat's head round again and
pulled with all our strength for the place where the haze still
trailing over the water marked the scene of this catastrophe.

  " 'It was a long hour before we reached it, and at first we
feared that we had come too late to save anyone. A splintered
boat and a number of crates and fragments of spars rising and
falling on the waves showed us where the vessel had foundered;
but there was no sign of life, and we had turned away in despair,
when we heard a cry for help and saw at some distance a piece
of wreckage with a man lying stretchetl across it. When we
pulled him aboard the boat he proved to be a young seaman of
the name of Hudson, who was so burned and exhausted that he
could give us no account of what had happened until the follow-
ing morning.

  " 'It seemed that after we had left, Prendergast and his gang
had proceeded to put to death the five remaining prisoners. The
two warders had been shot and thrown overboard, and so also
had the third mate. Prendergast then descended into the 'tween-
decks and with his own hands cut the throat of the unfortunate
surgeon. There only remained the first mate, who was a bold and
active man. When he saw the convict approaching him with the
bloody knife in his hand he kicked off his bonds, which he had
somehow contrived to loosen, and rushing down the deck he
plunged into the after-hold. A dozen convicts, who descended
with their pistols in search of him, found him with a match-box
in his hand seated beside an open powder-barrel, which was one
of the hundred carried on board, and swearing that he would
blow all hands up if he were in any way molested. An instant
later the explosion occurred, though Hudson thought it was
caused by the misdirected bullet of one of the convicts rather
than the mate's match. Be the cause what it may, it was the
end of the Gloria Scott and of the rabble who held command of
her.

  " 'Such, in a few words, my dear boy, is the history of this
terrible business in which I was involved. Next day we were
picked up by the brig Hotspur, bound for Australia, whose
captain found no difficulty in believing that we were the survi-
vors of a passenger ship which had foundered. The transport ship
Gloria Scott was set down by the Admiralty as being lost at sea,
and no word has ever leaked out as to her true fate. After an
excellent voyage the Hotspur landed us at Sydney, where Evans
and I changed our names and made our way to the diggings,
where, among the crowds who were gathered from all nations,
we had no difficulty in losing our former identities. The rest I
need not relate. We prospered, we travelled, we came back as
rich colonials to England, and we bought country estates. For
more than twenty years we have led peaceful and useful lives,
and we hoped that our past was forever buried. Imagine, then,
my feelings when in the seaman who came to us I recognized
instantly the man who had been picked off the wreck. He had
tracked us down somehow and had set himself to live upon our
fears. You will understand now how it was that I strove to keep
the peace with him, and you will in some measure sympathize
with me in the fears which fill me, now that he has gone from
me to his other victim with threats upon his tongue.'

  "Underneath is written in a hand so shaky as to be hardly
legible, 'Beddoes writes in cipher to say H. has told all. Sweet
Lord, have mercy on our souls!'

  "That was the narrative which I read that night to young
Trevor, and I think, Watson, that under the circumstances it was
a dramatic one. The good fellow was heart-broken at it, and
went out to the Terai tea planting, where I hear that he is doing
well. As to the sailor and Beddoes, neither of them was ever
heard of again after that day on which the letter of warning was
written. They both disappeared utterly and completely. No com-
plaint had been lodged with the police, so that Beddoes had
mistaken a threat for a deed. Hudson had been seen lurking
about, and it was believed by the police that he had done away
with Beddoes and had fled. For myself I believe that the truth
was exactly the opposite. I think that it is most probable that
Beddoes, pushed to desperation and believing himself to have
been already betrayed, had revenged himself upon Hudson, and
had fled from the country with as much money as he could lay
his hands on. Those are the facts of the case, Doctor, and if they
are of any use to your collection, I am sure that they are very
heartily at your service."

                The Musgrave Ritual

  An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend
Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he
was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although
also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none
the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that
ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction. Not that I am in the
least conventional in that respect myself. The rough-and-tumble
work in Afghanistan, coming on the top of natural Bohemianism
of disposition, has made me rather more lax than befits a medical
man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who
keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of
a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed
by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece,
then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. I have always held,
too, that pistol practice should be distinctly an open-air pastime;
and when Holmes, in one of his queer humours, would sit in an
armchair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges
and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patnotic V. R.
done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere
nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.

  Our chambers were always full of chemicals and of criminal
relics which had a way of wandering into unlikely positions, and
of turning up in the butter-dish or in even less desirable places.
But his papers were my great crux. He had a horror of destroying
documents, especially those which were connected with his past
cases, and yet it was only once in every year or two that he
would muster energy to docket and arrange them; for, as I have
mentioned somewhere in these incoherent memoirs, tbe outbursts
of passionate energy when he performed the remarkable feats
with which his name is associated were followed by reactions of
lethargy during which he would lie about with his violin and his
books, hardly moving save from the sofa to the table. Thus
month after month his papers accumulated until every corner of
the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript which were on
no account to be burned, and which could not be put away save
by their owner. One winter's night, as we sat together by the
fire, I ventured to suggest to him that, as he had finished pasting
extracts into his commonplace book, he might employ the next
two hours in making our room a little more habitable. He could
not deny the justice of my request, so with a rather rueful face he
went off to his bedroom, from which he returned presently
pulling a large tin box behind him. This he placed in the middle
of the floor, and, squatting down upon a stool in front of it, he
threw back the lid. I could see that it was already a third full of
bundles of paper tied up with red tape into separate packages.

  "There are cases enough here, Watson," said he, looking at
me with mischievous eyes. "I think that if you knew all that I
had in this box you would ask me to pull some out instead of
putting others in."

  "These are the records of your early work, then?" I asked. "I
have often wished that I had notes of those cases."

  "Yes, my boy, these were all done prematurely before my
biographer had come to glorify me." He lifted bundle after
bundle in a tender, caressing sort of way. "They are not all
successes, Watson," said he. "But there are some pretty little
problems among them. Here's the record of the Tarleton mur-
ders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the
adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of
the aluminum crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the
club-foot, and his abominable wife. And here -- ah. now. this
really is something a little recherche."

  He dived his arm down to the bottom of the chest and brought
up a small wooden box with a sliding lid such as children's toys
are kept in. From within he produced a crumpled piece of paper,
an old-fashioned brass key, a peg of wood with a ball of string
attached to it, and three rusty old discs of metal.

  "Well, my boy, what do you make of this lot?" he asked,
smiling at my expression.

  "It is a curious collection."

  "Very curious, and the story that hangs round it will strike
you as being more curious still."

  "These relics have a history, then?"

  "So much so that they are history."

  "What do you mean by that?"

  Sherlock Holmes picked them up one by one and laid them
along the edge of the table. Then he reseated himself in his chair
and looked them over with a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes.

  "These," said he, "are all that I have left to remind me of the
adventure of the Musgrave Ritual."

  I had heard him mention the case more than once, though I
had never been able to gather the details. "I should be so glad,"
said I, "if you would give me an account of it."

  "And leave the litter as it is?" he cried mischievously. "Your
tidiness won't bear much strain, after all, Watson. But I should
be glad that you should add this case to your annals, for there are
points in it which make it quite unique in the criminal records of
this or, I believe, of any other country. A collection of my
trifling achievements would certainly be incomplete which con-
tained no account of this very singular business.

  "You may remember how the affair of the Gloria Scott, and
my conversation with the unhappy man whose fate I told you of,
first turned my attention in the direction of the profession which
has become my life's work. You see me now when my name has
become known far and wide, and when I am generally recog-
nized both by the public and by the official force as being a final
court of appeal in doubtful cases. Even when you knew me first,
at the time of the affair which you have commemorated in 'A
Study in Scarlet,' I had already established a considerable, though
not a very lucrative, connection. You can hardly realize, then,
how difficult I found it at first, and how long I had to wait before
I succeeded in making any headway.

  "When I first came up to London I had rooms in Montague
Street, just round the corner from the British Museum, and there
I waited, filling in my too abundant leisure time bv studying all
those branches of science which might make me more efficient.
Now and again cases came in my way, principally through the
introduction of old fellow-students, for during my last years at
the university there was a good deal of talk there about myself
and my methods. The third of these cases was that of the
Musgrave Ritual, and it is to the interest which was aroused by
that singular chain of events, and the large issues which proved
to be at stake, that I trace my first stride towards the position
which I now hold.

  "Reginald Musgrave had been in the same college as myself,
and I had some slight acquaintance with him. He was not
generally popular among the undergraduates, though it always
seemed to me that what was set down as pride was really an
attempt to cover extreme natural diffidence. In appearance he
was a man of an exceedingly aristocratic type, thin, high-nosed,
and large-eyed, with languid and yet courtly manners. He was
indeed a scion of one of the very oldest families in the kingdom
though his branch was a cadet one which had separated from the
northern Musgraves some time in the sixteenth century and had
established itself in western Sussex, where the Manor House of
Hurlstone is perhaps the oldest inhabited building in the county.
Something of his birth-place seemed to cling to the man, and I
never looked at his pale, keen face or the poise of his head
without associating him with gray archways and mullioned win-
dows and all the venerable wreckage of a feudal keep. Once or
twice we drifted into talk, and I can remember that more than
once he expressed a keen interest in my methods of observation
and inference.

  "For four years I had seen nothing of him until one morning
he walked into my room in Montague Street. He had changed
little, was dressed like a young man of fashion -- he was always a
bit of a dandy -- and preserved the same quiet, suave manner
which had formerly distinguished him.

  " 'How has all gone with you, Musgrave?' I asked after we
had cordially shaken hands.

  " 'You probably heard of my poor father's death,' said he;
'he was carried off about two years ago. Since then I have of
course had the Hurlstone estate to manage, and as I am member
for my district as well, my life has been a busy one. But I
understand, Holmes, that you are turning to practical ends those
powers with which you used to amaze us?'

  " 'Yes,' said I, 'I have taken to living by my wits.'

  " 'I am delighted to hear it, for your advice at present would
be exceedingly valuable to me. We have had some very strange
doings at Hurlstone, and the police have been able to throw no
light upon the matter. It is really the most extraordinary and
inexplicable business.'

  "You can imagine with what eagerness I listened to him,
Watson, for the very chance for which I had been panting during
all those months of inaction seemed to have come within my
reach. In my inmost heart I believed that I could succeed where
others failed, and now I had the opportunity to test myself.

  " 'Pray let me have the details,' I cried.

  "Reginald Musgrave sat down opposite to me and lit the
cigarette which I had pushed towards him.

  " 'You must know,' said he, 'that though I am a bachelor, I
have to keep up a considerable staff of servants at Hurlstone, for
it is a rambling old place and takes a good deal of looking after.
I preserve, too, and in the pheasant months I usually have a
house-party, so that it would not do to be short-handed. Al-
together there are eight maids, the cook, the butler, two foot-
men, and a boy. The garden and the stables of course have a
separate staff.

  " 'Of these servants the one who had been longest in our
service was Brunton, the butler. He was a young schoolmaster
out of place when he was first taken up by my father, but he was
a man of great energy and character, and he soon became quite
invaluable in the household. He was a well-grown, handsome
man, with a splendid forehead, and though he has been with us
for twenty years he cannot be more than forty now. With his
personal advantages and his extraordinary gifts -- for he can speak
several languages and play nearly every musical instrument -- it
is wonderful that he should have been satisfied so long in such a
position, but I suppose that he was comfortable and lacked
energy to make any change. The butler of Hurlstone is always a
thing that is remembered by all who visit us.

  " 'But this paragon has one fault. He is a bit of a Don Juan,
and you can imagine that for a man like him it is not a very
difficult part to play in a quiet country district. When he was
married it was all right, but since he has been a widower we
have had no end of trouble with him. A few months ago we were
in hopes that he was about to settle down again, for he became
engaged to Rachel Howells, our second housemaid; but he has
thrown her over since then and taken up with Janet Tregellis, the
daughter of the head game-keeper. Rachel -- who is a very good
girl, but of an excitable Welsh temperament -- had a sharp touch
of brain-fever and goes about the house now -- or did until
yesterday -- like a black-eyed shadow of her former self. That
was our first drama at Hurlstone; but a second one came to drive
it from our minds, and it was prefaced by the disgrace and
dismissal of butler Brunton.

  " 'This was how it came about. I have said that the man was
intelligent, and this very intelligence has caused his ruin, for it
seems to have led to an insatiable curiosity about things which
did not in the least concern him. I had no idea of the lengths to
which this would carry him until the merest accident opened my
eyes to it.

  " 'I have said that the house is a rambling one. One day last
week -- on Thursday night, to be more exact -- I found that I
could not sleep, having foolishly taken a cup of strong cafe' noir
after my dinner. After struggling against it until two in the
morning, I felt that it was quite hopeless, so I rose and lit the
candle with the intention af continuing a novel which I was
reading. The book, however, had been left in the billiard-room,
so I pulled on my dressing-gown and started off to get it.

  " 'In order to reach the biilliard-room I had to descend a flight
of stairs and then to cross the head of a passage which led to the
library and the gun-room. You can imagine my surprise when, as
I looked down this corridor. I saw a glimmer of light coming
from the open door of the library. I had myself extinguished the
lamp and closed the door before coming to bed. Naturally my
first thought was of burglar. The corridors at Hurlstone have
their walls largely decorated with trophies of old weapons. From
one of these I picked a battle-axe, and then, leaving my candle
behind me, I crept on tiptoe down the passage and peeped in at
the open door.

  " 'Brunton, the butler, was in the library. He was sitting
fully dressed, in an easy-chair, with a slip of paper which looked
like a map upon his knee, and his forehead sunk forward upon
his hand in deep thought. I stood dumb with astonishment,
watching him from the darkness. A small taper on the edge of
the table shed a feeble light which sufficed to show me that he
was fully dressed. Suddenly, as I looked, he rose from his chair,
and, walking over to a bureau at the side, he unlocked it and
drew out one of the drawers. From this he took a paper, and,
returning to his seat, he flattened it out beside the taper on the
edge of the table and began to study it with minute attention. My
indignation at this calm examination of our family documents
overcame me so far that I took a step forward, and Brunton,
looking up. saw me standing in the doorway. He sprang to his
feet, his face turned livid with fear, and he thrust into his breast
the chart-like paper which he had been originally studying.

  " ' "So!" said I. "This is how you repay the trust which we
have reposed in you. You will leave my service to-morrow."

  " 'He bowed with the look of a man who is utterly crushed
and slunk past me without a word. The taper was still on the
table, and by its light I glanced to see what the paper was which
Brunton had taken from the bureau. To my surprise it was
nothing of any importance at all, but simply a copy of the
questions and answers in the singular old observance called the
Musgrave Ritual. It is a sort of ceremony peculiar to our family,
which each Musgrave for centuries past has gone through on his
coming of age -- a thing of private interest, and perhaps of some
little importance to the archaeologist, like our own blazonings
and charges, but of no practical use whatever.'

  " 'We had better come back to the paper afterwards,' said I.

  " 'If you think it really necessary,' he answered with some
hesitation. 'To continue my statement, however: I relocked the
bureau, using the key which Brunton had left, and I had turned
to go when I was surprised to find that the butler had returned,
and was standing before me.

  " ' "Mr. Musgrave, sir," he cried in a voice which was
hoarse with emotion, "I can't bear disgrace, sir. I've always
been proud above my station in life, and disgrace would kill me.
My blood will be on your head, sir -- it will, indeed -- if you
drive me to despair. If you cannot keep me after what has
passed, then for God's sake let me give you notice and leave in a
month, as if of my own free will. I could stand that, Mr.
Musgrave, but not to be cast out before all the folk that I know
so well."

  " ' "You don't deserve much consideration, Brunton," I
answered. "Your conduct has been most infamous. However, as
you have been a long time in the family, I have no wish to bring
public disgrace upon you. A month, however. is too long. Take
yourself away in a week, and give what reason you like for
going."

  " ' "Only a week, sir?" he cried in a despairing voice. "A
fortnight -- say at least a fortnight!"

  " ' "A week," I repeated, "and you may consider yourself to
have been very leniently dealt with."

  " 'He crept away, his face sunk upon his breast, like a broken
man, while I put out the light and returned to my room.

  " 'For two days after this Brunton was most assiduous in his
attention to his duties. I made no allusion to what had passed and
waited with some curiosity to see how he would cover his
disgrace. On the third morning, however, he did not appear, as
was his custom, after breakfast to receive my instructions for the
day. As I left the dining-room I happened to meet Rachel
Howells, the maid. I have told you that she had only recently
recovered from an illness and was looking so wretchedly pale
and wan that I remonstrated with her for being at work.

  " ' "You should be in bed," I said. "Come back to your
duties when you are stronger."

   " 'She looked at me with so strange an expression that I
began to suspect that her brain was affected.

  " ' "I am strong enough, Mr. Musgrave," said she.

  " ' "We will see what the doctor says," I answered. "You
must stop work now, and when you go downstairs just say that I
wish to see Brunton."

  " ' "The butler is gone," said she.

  " ' "Gone! Gone where?"

  " ' "He is gone. No one has seen him. He is not in his room.
Oh, yes, he is gone, he is gone!" She fell back against the wall
with shriek after shriek of laughter, while I, horrified at this
sudden hysterical attack, rushed to the bell to summon help. The
girl was taken to her room, still screaming and sobbing, while I
made inquiries about Brunton. There was no doubt about it that
he had disappeared. His bed had not been slept in, he had been
seen by no one since he had retired to his room the night before,
and yet it was difficult to see how he could have left the house,
as both windows and doors were found to be fastened in the
morning. His clothes, his watch, and even his money were in his
room, but the black suit which he usually wore was missing. His
slippers, too, were gone, but his boots were left behind. Where
then could butler Brunton have gone in the night, and what could
have become of him now?

  " 'Of course we searched the house from cellar to garret, but
there was no trace of him. It is, as I have said, a labyrinth of an
old house, especially the original wing, which is now practically
uninhabited; but we ransacked every room and cellar without
discovering the least sign of the missing man. It was incredible
to me that he could have gone away leaving all his property
behind him, and yet where could he be? I called in the local
police, but without success. Rain had fallen on the night before.
and we examined the lawn and the paths all round the house, but
in vain. Matters were in this state, when a new development
quite drew our attention away from the original mystery.

  " 'For two days Rachel Howells had been so ill, sometimes
delirious, sometimes hysterical, that a nurse had been employed
to sit up with her at night. On the third night after Brunton's
disappearance, the nurse, finding her patient sleeping nicely, had
dropped into a nap in the armchair, when she woke in the early
morning to find the bed empty, the window open, and no signs
of the invalid. I was instantly aroused, and, with the two foot-
men, started off at once in search of the missing girl. It was not
difficult to tell the direction which she had taken, for, starting
from under her window, we could follow her footmarks easily
across the lawn to the edge of the mere, where they vanished
close to the gravel path which leads out of the grounds. The lake
there is eight feet deep, and you can imagine our feelings when
we saw that the trail of the poor demented girl came to an end at
the edge of it.

  " 'Of course, we had the drags at once and set to work to
recover the remains, but no trace of the body could we find. On
the other hand, we brought to the surface an object of a most
unexpected kind. It was a linen bag which contained within it a
mass of old rusted. and discoloured metal and several dull-
coloured pieces of pebble or glass. This strange find was all that
we could get from the mere, and, although we made every
possible search and inquiry yesterday, we know nothing of the
fate either of Rachel Howells or of Richard Brunton. The county
police are at their wit's end, and I have come up to you as a last
resource.'

  "You can imagine, Watson, with what eagerness I listened to
this extraordinary sequence of events, and endeavoured to piece
them together, and to devise some common thread upon which
they might all hang. The butler was gone. The maid was gone.
The maid had loved the butler, but had afterwards had cause to
hate him. She was of Welsh blood, fiery and passionate. She had
been terribly excited immediately after his disappearance. She
had flung into the lake a bag containing some curious contents.
These were all factors which had to be taken into consideration,
and yet none of them got quite to the heart of the matter. What
was the starting-point of this chain of events? There lay the end
of this tangled line.

  " 'I must see that paper, Musgrave,' said I, 'which this butler
of yours thought it worth his while to consult, even at the risk of
the loss of his place.'

  " 'It is rather an absurd business, this ritual of ours,' he
answered. 'But it has at least the saving grace of antiquity to
excuse it. I have a copy of the questions and answers here if you
care to run your eye over them.'

  "He handed me the very paper which I have here, Watson,
and this is the strange catechism to which each Musgrave had to
submit when he came to man's estate. I will read you the
questions and answers as they stand.

  " 'Whose was it?'

  " 'His who is gone.'

  " 'Who shall have it?'

  " 'He who will come.'

  " 'Where was the sun?'

  " 'Over the oak.'

  " 'Where was the shadow?'

  " 'Under the elm.'

  " 'How was it stepped?'

  " 'North by ten and by ten, east by five and by five, south by
two and by two, west by one and by one, and so under.'

  " 'What shall we give for it?'

  " 'All that is ours.'

  " 'Why should we give it?'

  " 'For the sake of the trust.'

  " 'The original has no date, but is in the spelling of the
middle of the seventeenth century,' remarked Musgrave. 'I am
afraid, however, that it can be of little help to you in solving this
mystery.'

  " 'At least,' said I, 'it gives us another mystery, and one
which is even more interesting than the first. It may be that the
solution of the one may prove to be the solution of the other.
You will excuse me, Musgrave, if I say that your butler appears
to me to have been a very clever man, and to have had a clearer
insight than ten generations of his masters.'

  " 'I hardly follow you,' said Musgrave. 'The paper seems to
me to be of no practical importance.'

  " 'But to me it seems immensely practical, and I fancy that
Brunton took the same view. He had probably seen it before that
night on which you caught him.'

  " 'It is very possible. We took no pains to hide it.'

  " 'He simply wished, I should imagine, to refresh his memory
upon that last occasion. He had, as I understand, some sort of
map or chart which he was comparing with the manuscript, and
which he thrust into his pocket when you appeared.'

  " 'That is true. But what could he have to do with this old
family custom of ours, and what does this rigmarole mean?'

  " 'I don't think that we should have much difficulty in deter-
mining that,' said I; 'with your permission we will take the first
train down to Sussex and go a little more deeply into the matter
upon the spot.

  "The same afternoon saw us both at Hurlstone. Possibly you
have seen pictures and read descriptions of the famous old
building, so I will confine my account of it to saying that it is
built in the shape of an L. the long arm being the more modern
portion, and the shorter the ancient nucleus from which the other
has developed. Over the low, heavy-lintelled door, in the centre
of this old part, is chiselled the date, 1607, but experts are
agreed that the beams and stonework are really much older than
this. The enormously thick walls and tiny windows of this part
had in the last century driven the family into building the new
wing, and the old one was used now as a storehouse and a cellar,
when it was used at all. A splendid park with fine old timber
surrounds the house, and the lake, to which my client. had
referred, lay close to the avenue, about two hundred yards from
the building.

  "I was already firmly convinced, Watson, that there were not
three separate mysteries here, but one only, and that if I could
read the Musgrave Ritual aright I should hold in my hand the
clue which would lead me to the truth concerning both the butler
Brunton and the maid Howells. To that then I turned all my
energies. Why should this servant be so anxious to master this
old formula? Evidently because he saw something in it which
had escaped all those generations of country squires, and from
which he expected some personal advantage. What was it then,
and how had it affected his fate?

  "It was perfectly obvious to me, on reading the Ritual, that
the measurements must refer to some spot to which the rest of
the document alluded, and that if we could find that spot we
should be in a fair way towards finding what the secret was
which the old Musgraves had thought it necessary to embalm in
so curious a fashion. There were two guides given us to start
with, an oak and an elm. As to the oak there could be no
question at all. Right in front of the house, upon the left-hand
side of the drive, there stood a patriarch among oaks. one of the
most magnificent trees that I have ever seen.

  " 'That was there when your Ritual was drawn up,' said I as
we drove past it.

  " 'It was there at the Norman Conquest in all probability,' he
answered. 'It has a girth of twenty-three feet.'

  "Here was one of my fixed points secured.

  " 'Have you any old elms?' I asked.

  " 'There used to be a very old one over yonder, but it was
struck by lightning ten years ago, and we cut down the stump.'

  " 'You can see where it used to be?'

  " 'Oh, yes.'

  " 'There are no other elms?'

  " 'No old ones, but plenty of beeches.'

  " 'I should like to see where it grew.'

  "We had driven up in a dog-cart, and my client led me away
at once, without our entering the house, to the scar on the lawn
where the elm had stood. It was nearly midway between the oak
and the house. My investigation seemed to be progressing.

  " 'I suppose it is impossible to find out how high the elm
was?' I asked.

  " 'I can give you it at once. It was sixty-four feet.'

  " 'How do you come to know it?' I asked in surprise.

  " 'When my old tutor used to give me an exercise in trigo-
nometry, it always took the shape of measuring heights. When I
was a lad I worked out every tree and building in the estate.'

  "This was an unexpected piece of luck. My data were coming
more quickly than I could have reasonably hoped.

  " 'Tell me,' I asked, 'did your butler ever ask you such a
question?'

  "Reginald Musgrave looked at me in astonishment. 'Now that
you call it to my mind,' he answered, 'Brunton did ask me about
the height of the tree some months ago in connection with some
little argument with the groom.'

  "This was excellent news, Watson, for it showed me that I
was on the right road. I looked up at the sun. It was low in the
heavens, and I calculated that in less than an hour it would lie
just above the topmost branches of the old oak. One condition
mentioned in the Ritual would then be fulfilled. And the shadow
of the elm must mean the farther end of the shadow, otherwise
the trunk would have been chosen as the guide. I had, then, to
find where the far end of the shadow would fall when the sun
was just clear of the oak."

  "That must have been difficult, Holmes, when the elm was no
longer there."

  "Well, at least I knew that if Brunton could do it, I could
also. Besides, there was no real difficulty. I went with Musgrave
to his study and whittled myself this peg, to which I tied this
long string with a knot at each yard. Then I took two lengths of a
fishing-rod, which came to just six feet, and I went back with
my client to where the elm had been. The sun was just grazing
the top of the oak. I fastened the rod on end, marked out the
direction of the shadow, and measured it. It was nine feet in
length.

  "Of course the calculation now was a simple one. If a rod of
six feet threw a shadow of nine, a tree of sixty-four feet would
throw one of ninety-six, and the line of the one would of course
be the line of the other. I measured out the distance, which
brought me almost to the wall of the house, and I thrust a peg
into the spot. You can imagine my exultation, Watson, when
within two inches of my peg I saw a conical depression in the
ground. I knew that it was the mark made by Brunton in his
measurements, and that I was still upon his trail.

  "From this starting-point I proceeded to step, having first
taken the cardinal points by my pocket-compass. Ten steps with
each foot took me along parallel with the wall of the house, and
again I marked my spot with a peg. Then I carefully paced off
five to the east and two to the south. It brought me to the very
threshold of the old door. Two steps to the west meant now that I
was to go two paces down the stone-flagged passage, and this
was the place indicated by the Ritual.

  "Never have I felt such a cold chill of disappointment, Wat-
son. For a moment it seemed to me that there must be some
radical mistake in my calculations. The setting sun shone full
upon the passage floor, and I could see that the old, foot-worn
gray stones with which it was paved were firmly cemented
together, and had certainly not been moved for many a long
year. Brunton had not been at work here. I tapped upon the
floor, but it sounded the same all over, and there was no sign of
any crack or crevice. But, fortunately, Musgrave, who had
begun to appreciate the meaning of my proceedings, and who
was now as excited as myself, took out his manuscript to check
my calculations.

  " 'And under,' he cried. 'You have omitted the "and under." '

  "I had thought that it meant that we were to dig, but now, of
course, I saw at once that I was wrong. 'There is a cellar under
this then?' I cried.

  " 'Yes, and as old as the house. Down here, through this
door.'

  "We went down a winding stone stair, and my companion,
striking a match, lit a large lantern which stood on a barrel in the
corner. In an instant it was obvious that we had at last come
upon the true place, and that we had not been the only people to
visit the spot recently.

  "It had been used for the storage of wood, but the billets,
which had evidently been littered over the floor, were now piled
at the sides, so as to leave a clear space in the middle. In this
space lay a large and heavy flagstone with a rusted iron ring in
the centre to which a thick shepherd's-check muffler was attached.

  " 'By Jove!' cried my client. 'That's Brunton's muffler. I
have seen it on him and could swear to it. What has the villain
been doing here?'

  "At my suggestion a couple of the county police were sum-
moned to be present, and I then endeavoured to raise the stone
by pulling on the cravat. I could only move it slightly, and it was
with the aid of one of the constables that I succeeded at last in
carrying it to one side. A black hole yawned beneath into which
we all peered, while Musgrave, kneeling at the side, pushed
down the lantern.

  "A small chamber about seven feet deep and four feet square
lay open to us. At one side of this was a squat, brass-bound
wooden box, the lid of which was hinged upward, with this
curious old-fashioned key projecting from the lock. It was furred
outside by a thick layer of dust, and damp and worms had eaten
through the wood, so that a crop of livid fungi was growing on
the inside of it. Several discs of metal, old coins apparently,
such as I hold here, were scattered over the bottom of the box,
but it contained nothing else.

  "At the moment, however, we had no thought for the old
chest, for our eyes were riveted upon that which crouched
beside it. It was the figure of a man, clad in a suit of black, who
squatted down upon his hams with his forehead sunk upon the
edge of the box and his two arms thrown out on each side of it.
The attitude had drawn all the stagnant blood to the face, and no
man could have recognized that distorted liver-coloured counte-
nance; but his height, his dress, and his hair were all sufficient
to show my client, when we had drawn the body up, that it was
indeed his missing butler. He had been dead some days, but
there was no wound or bruise upon his person to show how he
had met his dreadful end. When his body had been carried from
the cellar we found ourselves still confronted with a problem
which was almost as formidable as that with which we had
started.

  "I confess that so far, Watson, I had been disappointed in my
investigation. I had reckoned upon solving the matter when once
I had found the place referred to in the Ritual; but now I was
there, and was apparently as far as ever from knowing what it
was which the family had concealed with such elaborate precau-
tions. It is true that I had thrown a light upon the fate of
Brunton, but now I had to ascertain how that fate had come upon
him, and what part had been played in the matter by the woman
who had disappeared. I sat down upon a keg in the corner and
thought the whole matter carefully over.

  "You know my methods in such cases, Watson. I put myself
in the man's place, and, having first gauged his intelligence, I
try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded under the
same circumstances. In this case the matter was simplified by
Brunton's intelligence being quite first-rate, so that it was unnec-
essary to make any allowance for the personal equation, as the
astronomers have dubbed it. He knew that something valuable
was concealed. He had spotted the place. He found that the stone
which covered it was just too heavy for a man to move unaided.
What would he do next? He could not get help from outside,
even if he had someone whom he could trust, without the
unbarring of doors and considerable risk of detection. It was
better, if he could, to have his helpmate inside the house. But
whom could he ask? This girl had been devoted to him. A man
always finds it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a
woman's love, however badly he may have treated her. He
would try by a few attentions to make his peace with the girl
Howells, and then would engage her as his accomplice. Together
they would come at night to the cellar, and their united force
would suffice to raise the stone. So far I could follow their
actions as if I had actually seen them.

  "But for two of them, and one a woman, it must have been
heavy work, the raising of that stone. A burly Sussex policeman
and I had found it no light job. What would they do to assist
them? Probably what I should have done myself. I rose and
examined carefully the different billets of wood which were
scattered round the floor. Almost at once I came upon what I
expected. One piece, about three feet in length, had a very
marked indentation at one end. while several were flattened at
the sides as if they had been compressed by some considerable
weight. Evidently, as they had dragged the stone up, they had
thrust thc chunks of wood into the chink until at last when the
opening was large enough to crawl through, they would hold it
open by a billet placed lengthwise, which might very well be-
come indented at the lower end, since the whole weight of the
stone would press it down on to the edge of this other slab. So
far I was still on safe ground.

  "And now how was I to proceed to reconstruct this midnight
drama? Clearly, only one could fit into the hole, and that one
was Brunton. The girl must have waited above. Brunton then
unlocked the box, handed up the contents presumably -- since
they were not to be found -- and then -- and then what happened?

  "What smouldering fire of vengeance had suddenly sprung
into flame in this passionate Celtic woman's soul when she saw
the man who had wronged her == wronged her, perhaps, far more
than we suspected -- in her power? Was it a chance that the wood
had slipped and that the stone had shut Brunton into what had
become his sepulchre? Had she only been guilty of silence as to
his fate? Or had some sudden blow from her hand dashed the
support away and sent the slab crashing down into its place? Be
that as it might, I seemed to see that woman's figure still
clutching at her treasure trove and flying wildly up the winding
stair, with her ears ringing perhaps with the muffled screams
from behind her and with the drumming of frenzied hands against
the slab of stone which was choking her faithless lover's life out.

  "Here was the secret of her blanched face, her shaken nerves,
her peals of hysterical laughter on the next morning. But what
had been in the box? What had she done with that? Of course, it
must have been the old metal and pebbles which my client had
dragged from the mere. She had thrown them in there at the first
opportunity to remove the last trace of her crime.

  "For twenty minutes I had sat motionless, thinking the matter
out. Musgrave still stood with a very pale face, swinging his
lantern and peering down into the hole.

  " 'These are coins of Charles the First,' said he, holding out
the few which had been in the box; 'you see we were right in
fixing our date for the Ritual.'

  " 'We may find something else of Charles the First,' I cried,
as the probable meaning of the first two questions of the Ritual
broke suddenly upon me. 'Let me see the contents of the bag
which you fished from the mere.'

  "We ascended to his study, and he laid the debris before me. I
could understand his regarding it as of small importance when I
looked at it, for the metal was almost black and the stones
lustreless and dull. I rubbed one of them on my sleeve, however,
and it glowed afterwards like a spark in the dark hollow of my
hand. The metal work was in the form of a double ring, but it
had been bent and twisted out of its onginal shape.

  " 'You must bear in mind,' said I, 'that the royal party made
head in England even after the death of the king, and that when
they at last fled they probably left many of their most precious
possessions buried behind them, with the intention of returning
for them in more peaceful times.'

  " 'My ancestor, Sir Ralph Musgrave, was a prominent cava-
lier and the right-hand man of Charles the Second in his wander-
ings,' said my friend.

  " 'Ah, indeed!' I answered. 'Well now, I think that really
should give us the last link that we wanted. I must congratulate
you on coming into the possession, though in rather a tragic
manner, of a relic which is of great intrinsic value, but of even
greater importance as a historical curiosity.'

  " 'What is it, then?' he gasped in astonishment.

  " 'It is nothing less than the ancient crown of the kings of
England.'

  " 'The crown!'

  " 'Precisely. Consider what the Ritual says. How does it run?
"Whose was it?" "His who is gone." That was after the
execution of Charles. Then, "Who shall have it?" "He who will
come." That was Charles the Second, whose advent was already
foreseen. There can, I think, be no doubt that this battered and
shapeless diadem once encircled the brows of the royal Stuarts.'

  " 'And how came it in the pond?'

  " 'Ah, that is a question that will take some time to answer.'
And with that I sketched out to him the whole long chain of
surmise and of proof which I had constructed. The twilight had
closed in and the moon was shining brightly in the sky before my
narrative was finished.

  " 'And how was it then that Charles did not get his crown
when he returned?' asked Musgrave, pushing back the relic into
its linen bag.

  " 'Ah, there you lay your finger upon the one point which we
shall probably never be able to clear up. It is likely that the
Musgrave who held the secret died in the interval, and by some
oversight left this guide to his descendant without explaining the
meaning of it. From that day to this it has been handed down
from father to son, until at last it came within reach of a man
who tore its secret out of it and lost his life in the venture.'

  "And that's the story of the Musgrave Ritual, Watson. They
have the crown down at Hurlstone -- though they had some legal
bother and a considerable sum to pay before they were allowed
to retain it. I am sure that if you mentioned my name they would
be happy to show it to you. Of the woman nothing was ever
heard, and the probability is that she got away out of England
and carried herself and the memory of her crime to some land
beyond the seas."

                  The Reigate Puzzle

  It was some time before the health of my friend Mr. Sherlock
Holmes recovered from the strain caused by his immense exer-
tions in the spring of '87. The whole question of the Netherland-
Sumatra Company and of the colossal schemes of Baron
Maupertuis are too recent in the minds of the public, and are too
intimately concerned with politics and finance to be fitting sub-
jects for this series of sketches. They led, however, in an indirect
fashion to a singular and complex problem which gave my friend
an opportunity of demonstrating the value of a fresh weapon
among the many with which he waged his lifelong battle against
crime.

  On referring to my notes I see that it was upon the fourteenth
of April that l received a telegram from Lyons which informed
me that Holmes was lying ill in the Hotel Dulong. Within
twenty-four hours I was in his sick-room and was relieved to find
that there was nothing formidable in his symptoms. Even his iron
constitution, however, had broken down under the strain of an
investigation which had extended over two months, during which
period he had never worked less than fifteen hours a day and had
more than once, as he assured me. kept to his task for five days
at a stretch. Even the triumphant issue of his labours could not
save him from reaction after so terrible an exertion, and at a time
when Europe was ringing with his name and when his room was
literally ankle-deep with congratulatory telegrams I found him a
prey to the blackest depression. Even the knowledge that he had
succeeded where the police of three countries had failed. and that
he had outmanoeuvred at every point the most accomplished
swindler in Europe. was insufficient to rouse him from his
nervous prostration.

  Three days later we were back in Baker Street together; but it
was evident that my friend would be much the better for a
change, and the thought of a week of springtime in the country
was full of attractions to me also. My old friend, Colonel
Hayter, who had come under my professional care in Afghani-
stan, had now taken a house near Reigate in Surrey and had
frequently asked me to come down to him upon a visit. On the
last occasion he had remarked that if my friend would only come
with me he would be glad to extend his hospitality to him also.
A little diplomacy was needed, but when Holmes understood that
the establishment was a bachelor one, and that he would be
allowed the fullest freedom, he fell in with my plans and a week
after our return from Lyons we were under the colonel's roof.
Hayter was a fine old soldier who had seen much of the world,
and he soon found, as I had expected, that Holmes and he had
much in common.

  On the evening of our arrival we were sitting in the colonel's
gun-room after dinner, Holmes stretched upon the sofa, while
Hayter and I looked over his little armory of Eastern weapons.

  "By the way," said he suddenly, "I think I'll take one of
these pistols upstairs with me in case we have an alarm."

  "An alarm!" said I.

  "Yes, we've had a scare in this part lately. Old Acton, who is
one of our county magnates, had his house broken into last
Monday. No great damage done, but the fellows are still at
large."

  "No clue?" asked Holmes, cocking his eye at the colonel.

  "None as yet. But the affair is a petty one, one of our little
country crimes, which must seem too small for your attention,
Mr. Holmes, after this great international affair."

  Holmes waved away the compliment, though his smile showed
that it had pleased him.

  "Was there any feature of interest?"

  "I fancy not. The thieves ransacked he library and got very
little for their pains. The whole place was turned upside down,
drawers burst open, and presses ransacked, with the result that
an odd volume of Pope's Homer, two plated candlesticks, an
ivory letter-weight, a small oak barometer, and a ball of twine
are all that have vanished."

  "What an extraordinary assortment!" I exclaimed.

  "Oh, the fellows evidently grabbed hold of everything they
could get."

  Holmes grunted from the sofa.

  "The county police ought to make something of that," said
he; "why, it is surely obvious that --"

  But I held up a warning finger.

  "You are here for a rest, my dear fellow. For heaven's sake
don't get started on a new problem when your nerves are all in
shreds."

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders with a glance of comic resig-
nation towards the colonel, and the talk drifted away into less
dangerous channels.

  It was destined, however, that all my professional caution
should be wasted, for next morning the problem obtruded itself
upon us in such a way that it was impossible to ignore it, and our
country visit took a turn which neither of us could have antici-
pated. We were at breakfast when the colonel's butler rushed in
with all his propriety shaken out of him.

  "Have you heard the news, sir?" he gasped. "At the Cun-
ningham's, sir!"

  "Burglary!" cried the colonel, with his coffee-cup in mid-air.

  "Murder!"

  The colonel whistled. "By Jove!" said he. "Who's killed,
then? The J. P. or his son?"

  "Neither, sir. It was William the coachman. Shot through the
heart, sir, and never spoke again."

  "Who shot him, then?"

  "The burglar, sir. He was off like a shot and got clean away.
He'd just broke in at the pantry window when William came on
him and met his end in saving his master's property."

  "What time?"

  "It was last night, sir, somewhere about twelve."

  "Ah, then, we'll step over afterwards," said the colonel
coolly settling down to his breakfast again. "It's a baddish
business," he added when the butler had gone; "he's our leading
man about here, is old Cunningham, and a very decent fellow
too. He'll be cut up over this, for the man has been in his service
for years and was a good servant. It's evidently the same villains
who broke into Acton's."

  "And stole that very singular collection," said Holmes
thoughtfully.

  "Precisely."

  "Hum! It may prove the simplest matter in the world, but all
the same at first glance this is just a little curious, is it not? A
gang of burglars acting in the country might be expected to vary
the scene of their operations, and not to crack two cribs in the
same district within a few days. When you spoke last night of
taking precautions I remember that it passed through my mind
that this was probably the last parish in England to which the
thief or thieves would be likely to turn their attention -- which
shows that I have still much to learn."

  "I fancy it's some local practitioner," said the colonel. "In
that case, of course, Acton's and Cunningham's are just the
places he would go for, since they are far the largest about
here."

  "And richest?"

  "Well, they ought to be, but they've had a lawsuit for some
years which has sucked the blood out of both of them, I fancy.
Old Acton has some claim on half Cunningham's estate, and the
lawyers have been at it with both hands."

  "If it's a local villain there should not be much difficulty in
running him down," said Holmes with a yawn. "All right,
Watson, I don't intend to meddle."

  "Inspector Forrester, sir," said the butler, throwing open the
door.

  The official, a smart, keen-faced young fellow, stepped into
the room. "Good-morning, Colonel," said he. "I hope I don't
intrude, but we hear that Mr. Holmes of Baker Street is here."

  The colonel waved his hand towards my friend, and the
inspector bowed.

  "We thought that perhaps you would care to step across, Mr.
Holmes."

  "The fates are against you, Watson," said he, laughing. "We
were chatting about the matter when you came in, Inspector.
Perhaps you can let us have a few details." As he leaned back in
his chair in the familiar attitude I knew that the case was
hopeless.

  "We had no clue in the Acton affair. But here we have plenty
to go on, and there's no doubt it is the same party in each case.
The man was seen."

  "Ah!"

  "Yes, sir. But he was off like a deer after the shot that killed
poor William Kirwan was fired. Mr. Cunningham saw him from
the bedroom window, and Mr. Alec Cunningham saw him from
the back passage. It was quarter to twelve when the alarm broke
out. Mr. Cunningham had just got into bed, and Mr. Alec was
smoking a pipe in his dressing-gown. They both heard William,
the coachman, calling for help, and Mr. Alec ran down to see
what was the matter. The back door was open, and as he came to
the foot of the stairs he saw two men wrestling together outside.
One of them fired a shot, the other dropped, and the murderer
rushed across the garden and over the hedge. Mr. Cunningham,
looking out of his bedroom, saw the fellow as he gained the
road, but lost sight of him at once. Mr. Alec stopped to see if he
could help the dying man, and so the villain got clean away.
Beyond the fact that he was a middle-sized man and dressed in
some dark stuff, we have no personal clue; but we are making
energetic inquiries, and if he is a stranger we shall soon find him
out."

  "What was this William doing there? Did he say anything
before he died?"

  "Not a word. He lives at the lodge with his mother, and as he
was a very faithful fellow we imagine that he walked up to the
house with the intention of seeing that all was right there. Of
course this Acton business has put everyone on their guard. The
robber must have just burst open the door -- the lock has been
forced -- when William came upon him."

  "Did William say anything to his mother before going out?"

  "She is very old and deaf, and we can get no information
from her. The shock has made her half-witted, but I understand
that she was never very bright. There is one very important
circumstance, however. Look at this!"

  He took a small piece of torn paper from a notebook and
spread it out upon his knee.

  "This was found between the finger and thumb of the dead
man. It appears to be a fragment torn from a larger sheet. You
will observe that the hour mentioned upon it is the very time at
which the poor fellow met his fate. You see that his murderer
might have torn the rest of the sheet from him or he might have
taken this fragment from the murderer. It reads almost as though
it were an appointment."

  Holmes took up the scrap of paper, a facsimile of which is
here reproduced.

                AT QUARTER TO TWELVE

                          LEARN WHAT

                                 MAY

  "Presuming that it is an appointment," continued the inspec-
tor, "it is of course a conceivable theory that this William
Kirwan, though he had the reputation of being an honest man,
may have been in league with the thief. He may have met him
there, may even have helped him to break in the door, and then
they may have fallen out between themselves."

  "This writing is of extraordinary interest," said Holmes, who
had been examining it with intense concentration. "These are
much deeper waters than I had thought." He sank his head upon
his hands, while the inspector smiled at the effect which his case
had had upon the famous London specialist.

  "Your last remark," said Holmes presently, "as to the possi-
bility of there being an understanding between the burglar and
the servant, and this being a note of appointment from one to the
other, is an ingenious and not entirely impossible supposition.
But this writing opens up --" He sank his head into his hands
again and remained for some minutes in the deepest thought.
When he raised his face again I was surprised to see that his
cheek was tinged with colour, and his eyes as bright as before
his illness. He sprang to his feet with all his old energy.

  "I'll tell you what," said he, "I should like to have a quiet
little glance into the details of this case. There is something in it
which fascinates me extremely. If you will permit me, Colonel, I
will leave my friend Watson and you, and I will step round with
the inspector to test the truth of one or two little fancies of mine.
I will be with you again in half an hour."

  An hour and a half had elapsed before the inspector returned
alone.

  "Mr. Holmes is walking up and down in the field outside,
said he. "He wants us all four to go up to the house together."

  "To Mr. Cunningham's?"

  "Yes, sir."

  "What for?"

  The inspector shrugged his shoulders. "I don't quite know
sir. Between ourselves, I think Mr. Holmes has not quite got
over his illness yet. He's been behaving very queerly, and he is
very much excited."

  "I don't think you need alarm yourself," said I. "I have
usually found that there was method in his madness."

  "Some folk might say there was madness in his method,"
muttercd the inspector. "But he's all on fire to start, Colonel, so
we had best go out if you are ready."

  We found Holmes pacing up and down in the field, his chin
sunk upon his breast, and his hands thrust into his trousers
pockets.

  "The matter grows in interest," said he. "Watson, your
country trip has been a distinct success. I have had a charming
morning."

  "You have been up to the scene of the crime, I understand,"
said the colonel.

  "Yes, the inspector and I have made quite a little reconnais-
sance together."

  "Any success?"

  "Well, we have seen some very interesting things. I'll tell you
what we did as we walk. First of all, we saw the body of this
unfortunate man. He certainly died from a revolver wound as
reported."

  "Had you doubted it, then?"

  "Oh, it is as well to test everything. Our inspection was not
wasted. We then had an interview with Mr. Cunningham and his
son, who were able to point out the exact spot where the
murderer had broken through the garden-hedge in his flight. That
was of great interest."

  "Naturally."

  "Then we had a look at this poor fellow's mother. We could
get no information from her, however, as she is very old and
feeble."

  "And what is the result of your investigations?"

  "The conviction that the crime is a very peculiar one. Perhaps
our visit now may do something to make it less obscure. I think
that we are both agreed, Inspector, that the fragment of paper in
the dead man's hand, bearing, as it does, the very hour of his
death written upon it, is of extreme importance."

  "It should give a clue, Mr. Holmes."

  "It does give a clue. Whoever wrote that note was the man
who brought William Kirwan out of his bed at that hour. But
where is the rest of that sheet of paper?"

  "I examined the ground carefully in the hope of finding it."
said the inspector.

  "It was torn out of the dead man's hand. Why was someone so
anxious to get possession of it? Because it incriminated him.
And what would he do with it? Thrust it into his pocket, most
likely, never noticing that a corner of it had been left in the grip
of the corpse. If we could get the rest of that sheet it is obvious
that we should have gone a long way towards solving the mystery."

  "Yes, but how can we get at the criminal's pocket before we
catch the criminal?"

  "Well, well, it was worth thinking over. Then there is another
obvious point. The note was sent to William. The man who
wrote it could not have taken it; otherwise, of course, he might
have delivered his own message by word of mouth. Who brought
the note, then? Or did it come through the post?"

  "I have made inquiries," said the inspector. "William re-
ceived a letter by the afternoon post yesterday. The envelope was
destroyed by him."

  "Excellent!" cried Holmes, clapping the inspector on the
back. "You've seen the postman. It is a pleasure to work with
you. Well, here is the lodge, and if you will come up, Colonel, I
will show you the scene of the crime."

  We passed the pretty cottage where the murdered man had
lived and walked up an oak-lined avenue to the fine old Queen
Anne house, which bears the date of Malplaquet upon the lintel
of the door. Holmes and the inspector led us round it until we
came to the side gate, which is separated by a stretch of garden
from the hedge which lines the road. A constable was standing at
the kitchen door.

  "Throw the door open, officer," said Holmes. "Now, it was
on those stairs that young Mr. Cunningham stood and saw the
two men struggling just where we are. Old Mr. Cunningham was
at that window -- the second on the left -- and he saw the fellow
get away just to the left of that bush. So did the son. They are
both sure of it on account of the bush. Then Mr. Alec ran out
and knelt beside the wounded man. The ground is very hard, you
see, and there are no marks to guide us." As he spoke two men
came down the garden path, from round the angle of the house.
The one was an elderly man, with a strong, deep-lined, heavy-
eyed face; the other a dashing young fellow, whose bright,
smiling expression and showy dress were in strange contrast with
the business which had brought us there.

  "Still at it, then?" said he to Holmes. "I thought you Lon-
doners were never at fault. You don't seem to be so very quick,
after all."

  "Ah, you must give us a little time," said Holmes good-
humouredly.

  "You'll want it," said young Alec Cunningham. "Why, I
don't see that we have any clue at all."

  "There's only one," answered the inspector. "We thought
that if we could only find -- Good heavens. Mr. Holmes! what is
the matter?"

  My poor friend's face had suddenly assumed the most dreadful
expression. His eyes rolled upward, his features writhed in ag-
ony, and with a suppressed groan he dropped on his face upon
the ground. Horrified at the suddenness and severity of the
attack, we carried him into the kitchen, where he lay back in a
large chair and breathed heavily for some minutes. Finally, with
a shamefaced apology for his weakness, he rose once more.

  "Watson would tell you that I have only just recovered from a
severe illness," he explained. "I am liable to these sudden
nervous attacks."

  "Shall I send you home in my trap?" asked old Cunningham.

  "Well, since I am here, there is one point on which I should
like to feel sure. We can very easily verify it."

  "What is it?"

  "Well, it seems to me that it is just possible that the arrival of
this poor fellow William was not before, but after, the entrance
of the burglar into the house. You appear to take it for granted
that although the door was forced the robber never got in."

  "I fancy that is quite obvious," said Mr. Cunningham gravely.
"Why, my son Alec had not yet gone to bed, and he would
certainly have heard anyone moving about."

  "Where was he sitting?"

  "I was smoking in my dressing-room."

  "Which window is that?"

  "The last on the left, next my father's."

  "Both of your lamps were lit, of course?"

  "Undoubtedly."

  "There are some very singular points here," said Holmes,
smiling. "Is it not extraordinary that a burglar -- and a burglar
who had some previous experience -- should deliberately break
into a house at a time when he could see from the lights that two
of the family were still afoot?"

  "He must have been a cool hand."

  "Well, of course, if the case were not an odd one we should
not have been driven to ask you for an explanation," said young
Mr. Alec. "But as to your ideas that the man had robbed the
house before William tackled him, I think it a most absurd
notion. Wouldn't we have found the place disarranged and missed
the things which he had taken?"

  "It depends on what the things were," said Holmes. "You
must remember that we are dealing with a burglar who is a very
peculiar fellow, and who appears to work on lines of his own.
Look, for example, at the queer lot of things which he took from
Acton's -- what was it? -- a ball of string, a letter-weight, and I
don't know what other odds and ends."

  "Well, we are quite in your hands, Mr. Holmes," said old
Cunningham. "Anything which you or the inspector may sug-
gest will most certainly be done."

  "In the first place," said Holmes, "I should like you to offer
a reward -- coming from yourself, for the officials may take a
little time before they would agree upon the sum, and these
things cannot be done too promptly. I have jotted down the form
here, if you would not mind signing it. Fifty pounds was quite
enough, I thought."

  "I would willingly give five hundred," said the J. P., taking
the slip of paper and the pencil which Holmes handed to him.
"This is not quite correct, however," he added, glancing over
the document.

  "I wrote it rather hurriedly."

  "You see you begin, 'Whereas, at about a quarter to one on
Tuesday morning an attempt was made,' and so on. It was at a
quarter to twelve, as a matter of fact."

  I was pained at the mistake, for I knew how keenly Holmes
would feel any slip of the kind. It was his specialty to be
accurate as to fact, but his recent illness had shaken him, and
this one little incident was enough to show me that he was still
far from being himself. He was obviously embarrassed for an
instant, while the inspector raised his eyebrows, and Alec Cun-
ningham burst into a laugh. The old gentleman corrected the
mistake, however, and handed the paper back to Holmes.

  "Get it printed as soon as possible," he said; "I think your
idea is an excellent one."

  Holmes put the slip of paper carefully away into his pocketbook.

  "And now," said he, "it really would be a good thing that we
should all go over the house together and make certain that this
rather erratic burglar did not, after all, carry anything away with
him."

  Before entering, Holmes made an examination of the door
which had been forced. It was evident that a chisel or strong
knife had been thrust in, and the lock forced back with it. We
could see the marks in the wood where it had been pushed in.

  "You don't use bars, then?" he asked.

  "We have never found it necessary."

  "You don't keep a dog?"

  "Yes, but he is chained on the other side of the house."

  "When do the servants go to bed?"

  "About ten."

  "I understand that William was usually in bed also at that
hour?"

  "Yes."

  "It is singular that on this particular night he should have been
up. Now, I should be very glad if you would have the kindness
to show us over the house, Mr. Cunningham."

  A stone-flagged passage, with the kitchens branching away
from it, led by a wooden staircase directly to the first floor of the
house. It came out upon the landing opposite to a second more
ornamental stair which came up from the front hall. Out of this
landing opened the drawing-room and several bedrooms, includ-
ing those of Mr. Cunningham and his son. Holmes walked
slowly, taking keen note of the architecture of the house. I could
tell from his expression that he was on a hot scent, and yet I
could not in the least imagine in what direction his inferences
were leading him.

  "My good sir," said Mr. Cunningharn, with some impa-
tience, "this is surely very unnecessary. That is my room at the
end of the stairs, and my son's is the one beyond it. I leave it to
your judgment whether it was possible for the thief to have come
up here without disturbing us."

  "You musf try round and get on a fresh scent, I fancy," said
the son with a rather malicious smile.

  "Still, I must ask you to humour me a little further. I should
like, for example, to see how far the windows of the bedrooms
command the front. This, I understand, is your son's room" -- he
pushed open the door -- "and that, I presume is the dressing-
room in which he sat smoking when the alarm was given. Where
does the window of that look out to?" He stepped across the
bedroom, pushed open the door, and glanced round the other
chamber.

  "I hope that you are satisfied now?" said Mr. Cunningham
tartly.

  "Thank you, I think I have seen all that I wished."

  "Then if it is really necessary we can go into my room."

  "If it is not too much trouble."

  The J. P. shrugged his shoulders and led the way into his own
chamber, which was a plainly furnished and commonplace room.
As we moved across it in the direction of the window, Holmes
fell back until he and I were the last of the group. Near the foot
of the bed stood a dish of oranges and a carafe of water. As we
passed it Holmes, to my unutterable astonishment, leaned over in
front of me and deliberately knocked the whole thing over. The
glass smashed into a thousand pieces and the fruit rolled about
into every corner of the room.

  "You've done it now, Watson," said he coolly. "A pretty
mess you've made of the carpet."

  I stooped in some confusion and began to pick up the fruit,
understanding for some reason my companion desired me to take
the blame upon myself. The others did the same and set the table
on its legs again.

  "Hullo!" cried the inspector, "where's he got to?"

  Holmes had disappeared.

  "Wait here an instant," said young Alec Cunningham. "The
fellow is off his head, in my opinion. Come with me, father, and
see where he has got to!"

  They rushed out of the room, leaving the inspector, the colo-
nel, and me staring at each other.

  " 'Pon my word, I am inclined to agree with Master Alec,"
said the official. "It may be the effect of this illness, but it
seems to me that --"

  His words were cut short by a sudden scream of "Help! Help!
Murder!" With a thrill I recognized the voice as that of my
friend. I rushed madly from the room on to the landing. The cries
which had sunk down into a hoarse, inarticulate shouting, came
from the room which we had first visited. I dashed in, and on
into the dressing-room beyond. The two Cunninghams were
bending over the prostrate figure of Sherlock Holmes, the young-
er clutching his throat with both hands, while the elder seemed
to be twisting one of his wrists. In an instant the three of us had
torn them away from him, and Holmes staggered to his feet,
very pale and evidently greatly exhausted.

  "Arrest these men, Inspector," he gasped.

  "On what charge?"

  "That of murdering their coachman, William Kirwan."

  The inspector stared about him in bewilderment. "Oh, come
now, Mr. Holmes," said he at last, "I'm sure you don't really
mean to --"

  "Tut, man, look at their faces!" cried Holmes curtly.

  Never certainly have I seen a plainer confession of guilt upon
human countenances. The older man seemed numbed and dazed,
with a heavy, sullen expression upon his strongly marked face.
The son, on the other hand, had dropped all that jaunty, dashing
style which had characterized him, and the ferocity of a danger-
ous wild beast gleamed in his dark eyes and distorted his hand-
some features. The inspector said nothing, but, stepping to the
door, he blew his whistle. Two of his constables came at the
call.

  "I have no alternative, Mr. Cunningham," said he. "I trust
that this may all prove to be an absurd mistake, but you can see
that Ah, would you? Drop it!" He struck out with his hand,
and a revolver which the younger man was in the act of cocking
clattered down upon the floor.

  "Keep that," said Holmes, quietly putting his foot upon it;
"you will find it useful at the trial. But this is what we really
wanted." He held up a little crumpled piece of paper.

  "The remainder of the sheet!" cried the inspector.

  "Precisely."

  "And where was it?"

  "Where I was sure it must be. I'll make the whole matter
clear to you presently. I think, Colonel, that you and Watson
might return now, and I will be with you again in an hour at the
furthest. The inspector and I must have a word with the prison-
ers, but you will certainly see me back at luncheon time."

  Sherlock Holmes was as good as his word, for about one
o'clock he rejoined us in the colonel's smoking-room. He was
accompanied by a little elderly gentleman, who was introduced
to me as the Mr. Acton whose house had been the scene of the
original burglary.

  "I wished Mr. Acton to be present while I demonstrated this
small matter to you," said Holmes, "for it is natural that he
should take a keen interest in the details. I am afraid, my dear
Colonel, that you must regret the hour that you took in such a
stormy petrel as I am."

  "On the contrary," answered the colonel warmly, "I consider
it the greatest privilege to have been permitted to study your
methods of working. I confess that they quite surpass my expec-
tations, and that I am utterly unable to account for your result. I
have not yet seen the vestige of a clue."

  "I am afraid that my explanation may disillusion you, but it
has always been my habit to hide none of my methods, either
from my friend Watson or from anyone who might take an
intelligent interest in them. But, first, as I am rather shaken by
the knocking about which I had in the dressing-room. I think that
I shall help myself to a dash of your brandy, Colonel. My
strength has been rather tried of late."

  "I trust you had no more of those nervous attacks.''

  Sherlock Holmes laughed heartily. "We will come to that in
its turn," said he. "I will lay an account of the case before you
in its due order, showing you the various points which guided
me in my decision. Pray interrupt me if there is any inference
which is not perfectly clear to you.

  "It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be
able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental
and which vital. Otherwise your energy and attention must be
dissipated instead of being concentrated. Now, in this case there
was not the slightest doubt in my mind from the first that the key
of the whole matter must be looked for in the scrap of paper in
the dead man's hand.

  "Before going into this, I would draw your attention to the
fact that, if Alec Cunningham's narrative was correct, and if the
assailant, after shooting William Kirwan, had instantly fled, then
it obviously could not be he who tore the paper from the dead
man's hand. But if it was not he, it must have been Alec
Cunningham himself, for by the time that the old man had
descended several servants were upon the scene. The point is a
simple one, but the inspector had overlooked it because he had
started with the supposition that these county magnates had had
nothing to do with the matter. Now, I make a point of never
having any prejudices, and of following docilely wherever fact
may lead me, and so, in the very first stage of the investigation,
I found myself looking a little askance at the part which had been
played by Mr. Alec Cunningham.

  "And now I made a very careful examination of the corner of
paper which the inspector had submitted to us. It was at once
clear to me that it formed part of a very remarkable document.
Here it is. Do you not now observe something very suggestive
about it?"

  "It has a very irregular look," said the colonel.

  "My dear sir," cried Holmes, "there cannot be the least
doubt in the world that it has been written by two persons doing
alternate words. When I draw your attention to the strong t's of
'at' and 'to,' and ask you to compare them with the weak ones of
'quarter' and 'twelve,' you will instantly recognize the fact. A
very brief analysis of these four words would enable you to say
with the utmost confidence that the 'learn' and the 'maybe' are
written in the stronger hand, and the 'what' in the weaker."

  "By Jove, it's as clear as day!" cried the colonel. "Why on
earth should two men write a letter in such a fashion?"

  "Obviously the business was a bad one, and one of the men
who distrusted the other was determined that, whatever was
done, each should have an equal hand in it. Now, of the two
men, it is clear that the one who wrote the 'at' and 'to' was the
ringleader."

  "How do you get at that?"

  "We might deduce it from the mere character of the one hand
as compared with the other. But we have more assured reasons
than that for supposing it. If you examine this scrap with atten-
tion you will come to the conclusion that the man with the
stronger hand wrote all his words first, leaving blanks for the
other to fill up. These blanks were not always sufficient, and you
can see that the second man had a squeeze to fit his 'quarter' in
between the 'at' and the 'to,' showing that the latter were already
written. The man who wrote all his words first is undoubtedly
the man who planned the affair."

  "Excellent!" cried Mr. Acton.

  "But very superficial," said Holmes. "We come now, how-
ever, to a point which is of importance. You may not be aware
that the deduction of a man's age from his writing is one which
has been brought to consideiable accuracy by experts. In normal
cases one can place a man in his true decade with tolerable
confidence. I say normal cases, because ill-health and physical
weakness reproduce the signs of old age, even when the invalid
is a youth. In this case, looking at the bold, strong hand of the
one, and the rather broken-backed appearance of the other,
which still retains its legibility although the t's have begun to
lose their crossing, we can say that the one was a young man and
the other was advanced in years without being positively decrepit."

  "Excellent!" cried Mr. Acton again.

  "There is a further point, however, which is subtler and of
greater interest. There is something in common between these
hands. They belong to men who are blood-relatives. It may be
most obvious to you in the Greek e's, but to me there are many
small points which indicate the same thing. I have no doubt at all
that a family mannerism can be traced in these two specimens of
writing. I am only, of course, giving you the leading results now
of my examination of the paper. There were twenty-three other
deductions which would be of more interest to experts than to
you. They all tend to deepen the impression upon my mind that
the Cunninghams, father and son, had written this letter.

  "Having got so far, my next step was, of course, to examine
into the details of the crime, and to see how far they would help
us. I went up to the house with the inspector and saw all that was
to be seen. The wound upon the dead man was, as I was able to
determine with absolute confidence, fired from a revolver at the
distance of something over four yards. There was no powder-
blackening on the clothes. Evidently, therefore, Alec Cunning-
ham had lied when he said that the two men were struggling
when the shot was fired. Again, both father and son agreed as to
the place where the man escaped into the road. At that point,
however, as it happens, there is a broadish ditch, moist at the
bottom. As there were no indications of boot-marks about this
ditch, I was absolutely sure not only that the Cunninghams had
again lied but that there had never been any unknown man upon
the scene at all.

  "And now I have to consider the motive of this singular
crime. To get at this, I endeavoured first of all to solve the
reason of the original burglary at Mr. Acton's. I understood,
from something which the colonel told us, that a lawsuit had
been going on between you, Mr. Acton, and the Cunninghams.
Of course, it instantly occurred to me that they had broken into
your library with the intention of getting at some document
which might be of importance in the case."

  "Precisely so," said Mr. Acton. "There can be no possible
doubt as to their intentions. I have the clearest claim upon half of
their present estate, and if they could have found a single paper --
which, fortunately, was in the strong-box of my solicitors -- they
would undoubtedly have crippled our case."

  "There you are," said Holmes, smiling. "It was a dangerous,
reckless attempt in which I seem to trace the influence of young
Alec. Having found nothing, they tried to divert suspicion by
making it appear to be an ordinary burglary, to which end they
carried off whatever they could lay their hands upon. That is all
clear enough, but there was much that was still obscure. What I
wanted, above all. was to get the missing part of that note. I was
certain that Alec had torn it out of the dead man's hand, and
almost certain that he must have thrust it into the pocket of his
dressing-gown. Where else could he have put it? The only
question was whether it was still there. It was worth an effort to
find out, and for that object we all went up to the house.

  "The Cunninghams joined us. as you doubtless remember
outside the kitchen door. It was, of course, of the very first
importance that they should not be reminded of the existence of
this paper otherwise they would naturally destroy it without
delay. The inspector was about to tell them the importance which
we attached to it when, by the luckiest chance in the world, I
tumbled down in a sort of fit and so changed the conversation."

   "Good heavens!" cned the colonel, laughing, "do you mean
to say all our sympathy was wasted and your fit an imposture?"

   "Speaking professionally, it was admirably done," cried I,
looking in amazement at this man who was forever confounding
me with some new phase of his astuteness.

   "It is an art which is often useful," said he. "When I
recovered I managed, by a device which had perhaps some little
merit of ingenuity, to get old Cunningham to write the word
'twelve,' so that I might compare it with the 'twelve' upon the
paper."

   "Oh, what an ass I have been!" I exclaimed.

  "I could see that you were commiserating me over my weak-
ness," said Holmes, laughing. "I was sorry to cause you the
sympathetic pain which I know that you felt. We then went
upstairs together, and, having entered the room and seen the
dressing-gown hanging up behind the door, I contrived, by
upsetting a table, to engage their attention for the moment and
slipped back to examine the pockets. I had hardly got the paper,
however -- which was, as I had expected, in one of them -- when
the two Cunninghams were on me, and would, I verily believe,
have murdered me then and there but for your prompt and
friendly aid. As it is, I feel that young man's grip on my throat
now, and the father has twisted my wrist round in the effort to
get the paper out of my hand. They saw that I must know all
about it, you see, and the sudden change from absolute security
to complete despair made them perfectly desperate.

  "I had a little talk with old Cunningham afterwards as to the
motive of the crime. He was tractable enough, though his son
was a perfect demon. ready to blow out his own or anybody
else's brains if he could have got to his revolver. When Cunning-
ham saw that the case against him was so strong he lost all heart
and made a clean breast of everything. It seems that William had
secretly followed his two masters on the night when they made
their raid upon Mr. Acton's and, having thus got them into his
power, proceeded, under threats of exposure, to levy blackmail
upon them. Mr. Alec, however, was a dangerous man to play
games of that sort with. It was a stroke of positive genius on his
part to see in the burglary scare which was convulsing the
countryside an opportunity of plausibly getting rid of the man
whom he feared. William was decoyed up and shot. and had
they only got the whole of the note and paid a little more
attention to detail in their accessories, it is very possible that
suspicion might never have been aroused."

  "And the note?" I asked.

  Sherlock Holmes placed the subjoined paper before us.

            IF YOU WILL ONLY COME AROUND

            TO THE EAST GATE YOU WILL

            WILL VERY MUCH SURPRISE YOU AND

            BE OF THE GREATEST SERVICE TO YOU AND ALSO

            TO ANNIE MORRISON. BUT SAY NOTHING TO ANYONE

            UPON THE MATTER.

  "It is very much the sort of thing that I expected," said he.
"Of course, we do not yet know what the relations may have
been between Alec Cunningham, William Kirwan, and Annie
Morrison. The result shows that the trap was skilfully baited. I
am sure that you cannot fail to be delighted with the traces of
heredity shown in the p's and in the tails of the g's. The absence
of the i-dots in the old man's writing is also most characteristic.
Watson, I think our quiet rest in the country has been a distinct
success, and I shall certainly return much invigorated to Baker
Street to-morrow."

                   The Crooked Man

  One summer night, a few months after my marriage, I was
seated by my own hearth smoking a last pipe and nodding over a
novel, for my day's work had been an exhausting one. My wife
had already gone upstairs, and the sound of the locking of the
hall door some time before told me that the servants had also
retired. I had risen from my seat and was knocking out the ashes
of my pipe when I suddenly heard the clang of the bell.

  I looked at the clock. It was a quarter to twelve. This could
not be a visitor at so late an hour. A patient evidently, and
possibly an all-night sitting. With a wry face I went out into the
hall and opened the door. To my astonishment it was Sherlock
Holmes who stood upon my step.

  "Ah, Watson," said he, "I hoped that I might not be too late
to catch you."

  "My dear fellow, pray come in."

  "You look surprised, and no wonder! Relieved, too, I fancy!
Hum! You still smoke the Arcadia mixture of your bachelor
days, then! There's no mistaking that fluffy ash upon your coat.
It's easy to tell that you have been accustomed to wear a
uniform, Watson. You'll never pass as a pure-bred civilian as
long as you keep that habit of carrying your handkerchief in your
sleeve. Could you put me up to-night?"

  "With pleasure."

  "You told me that you had bachelor quarters for one, and I
see that you have no gentleman visitor at present. Your hat-stand
proclaims as much."

  "I shall be delighted if you will stay."

  "Thank you. I'll fill the vacant peg then. Sorry to see that
you've had the British workman in the house. He's a token of
evil. Not the drains, I hope?"

  "No, the gas."

  "Ah! He has left two nail-marks from his boot upon your
linoleum just where the light strikes it. No, thank you, I had
some supper at Waterloo, but I'll smoke a pipe with you with
pleasure."

  I handed him my pouch, and he seated himself opposite to me
and smoked for some time.in silence. I was well aware that
nothing but business of importance would have brought him to
me at such an hour, so I waited patiently until he should come
round to it.

  "I see that you are professionally rather busy just now," said
he, glancing very keenly across at me.

  "Yes, I've had a busy day," I answered. "It may seem very
foolish in your eyes," I added, "but really I don't know how
you deduced it."

  Holmes chuckled to himself.

  "I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Wat-
son," said he. "When your round is a short one you walk, and
when it is a long one you use a hansom. As I perceive that your
boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that
you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom."

  "Excellent!" I cried.

  "Elementary," said he. "It is one of those instances where
the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to
his neighbour, because the latter has missed the one little point
which is the basis of the deduction. The same may be said, my
dear fellow, for the effect of some of these little sketches of
yours, which is entirely meretricious, depending as it does upon
your retaining in your own hands some factors in the problem
which are never imparted to the reader. Now, at present I am in
the position of these same readers, for I hold in this hand several
threads of one of the strangest cases which ever perplexed a
man's brain, and yet I lack the one or two which are needful to
complete my theory. But I'll have them, Watson, I'll have
them!" His eyes kindled and a slight flush sprang into his thin
cheeks. For an instant the veil had lifted upon his keen, intense
nature, but for an instant only. When I glanced again his face
had resumed that red-Indian composure which had made so
many regard him as a machine rather than a man.

  "The problem presents features of interest," said he. "I may
even say exceptional features of interest. I have already looked
into the matter, and have come, as I think, within sight of my
solution. If you could accompany me in that last step you might
be of considerable service to me."

  "I should be delighted."

  "Could you go as far as Aldershot to-morrow?"

  "I have no doubt Jackson would take my practice."

  "Very good. I want to start by the 11:10 from Waterloo."

  "That would give me time."

  "Then, if you are not too sleepy, I will give you a sketch of
what has happened, and of what remains to be done."

  "I was sleepy before you came. I am quite wakeful now."

  "I will compress the story as far as may be done without
omitting anything vital to the case. It is conceivable that you
may even have read some account of the matter. It is the
supposed murder of Colonel Barclay, of the Royal Munsters, at
Aldershot, which I am investigating."

  "I have heard nothing of it."

  "It has not excited much attention yet, except locally. The
facts are only two days old. Briefly they are these:

  "The Royal Munsters is, as you know, one of the most
famous Irish regiments in the British Army. It did wonders both
in the Crimea and the Mutiny, and has since that time distin-
guished itself upon every possible occasion. It was commanded
up to Monday night by James Barclay, a gallant veteran, who
started as a full private, was raised to commissioned rank for his
bravery at the time of the Mutiny, and so lived to command the
regiment in which he had once carried a musket.

  "Colonel Barclay had married at the time when he was a
sergeant, and his wife, whose maiden name was Miss Nancy
Devoy, was the daughter of a former colour-sergeant in the same
corps. There was, therefore, as can be imagined, some little
social friction when the young couple (for they were still young)
found themselves in their new surroundings. They appear, how-
ever, to have quickly adapted themselves, and Mrs. Barclay has
always, I understand, been as popular with the ladies of the
regiment as her husband was with his brother officers. I may add
that she was a woman of great beauty, and that even now, when
she has been married for upward of thirty years, she is still of a
striking and queenly appearance.

  "Colonel Barclay's family life appears to have been a uni-
formly happy one. Major Murphy, to whom I owe most of my
facts, assures me that he has never heard of any misunderstand-
ing between the pair. On the whole, he thinks that Barclay's
devotion to his wife was greater than his wife's to Barclay. He
was acutely uneasy if he were absent from her for a day. She, on
the other hand, though devoted and faithful, was less obtrusively
affectionate. But they were regarded in the regiment as the very
model of a middle-aged couple. There was absolutely nothing in
their mutual relations to prepare people for the tragedy which
was to follow.

  "Colonel Barclay himself seems to have had some singular
traits in his character. He was a dashing, jovial old soldier in his
usual mood, but there were occasions on which he seemed to
show himself capable of considerable violence and vindictiveness.
This side of his nature, however, appears never to have been
turned towards his wife. Another fact which had struck Major
Murphy and three out of five of the other officers with whom I
conversed was the singular sort of depression which came upon
him at times. As the major expressed it, the smile has often been
struck from his mouth, as if by some invisible hand, when he has
been joining in the gaieties and chaff of the mess-table. For days
on end, when the mood was on him, he has been sunk in the
deepest gloom. This and a certain tinge of superstition were the
only unusual traits in his character which his brother officers had
observed. The latter peculiarity took the form of a dislike to
being left alone, especially after dark. This puerile feature in a
nature which was conspicuously manly had often given rise to
comment and conjecture.

  "The first battalion of the Royal Munsters (which is the old
One Hundred and Seventeenth) has been stationed at Aldershot
for some years. The married officers live out of barracks, and the
colonel has during all this time occupied a villa called 'Lachine,'
about half a mile from the north camp. The house stands in its
own grounds, but the west side of it is not more than thirty yards
from the highroad. A coachman and two maids form the staff of
servants. These with their master and mistress were the sole
occupants of Lachine, for the Barclays had no children, nor was
it usual for them to have resident visitors.

  "Now for the events at Lachine between nine and ten on the
evening of last Monday.

  "Mrs. Barclay was, it appears, a member of the Roman
Catholic Church and had interested herself very much in the
establishment of the Guild of St. George, which was formed in
connection with the Watt Street Chapel for the purpose of sup-
plying the poor with cast-off clothing. A meeting of the Guild
had been held that evening at eight, and Mrs. Barclay had
hurried over her dinner in order to be present at it. When leaving
the house she was heard by the coachman to make some com-
monplace remark to her husband, and to assure him that she
would be back before very long. She then called for Miss
Morrison, a young lady who lives in the next villa and the two
went off together to their meeting. It lasted forty minutes, and at
a quarter-past nine Mrs. Barclay returned home, having left Miss
Morrison at her door as she passed.

  "There is a room which is used as a morning-room at Lachine.
This faces the road and opens by a large glass folding-door on to
the lawn. The lawn is thirty yards across and is only divided
from the highway by a low wall with an iron rail above it. It was
into this room that Mrs. Barclay went upon her return. The
blinds were not down, for the room was seldom used in the
evening, but Mrs. Barclay herself lit the lamp and then rang the
bell, asking Jane Stewart, the housemaid, to bring her a cup of
tea, which was quite contrary to her usual habits. The colonel
had been sitting in the dining-room, but, hearing that his wife
had returned, he joined her in the morning-room. The coachman
saw him cross the hall and enter it. He was never seen again
alive.

  "The tea which had been ordered was brought up at the end
of ten minutes; but the maid, as she approached the door, was
surprised to hear the voices of her master and mistress in furious
altercation. She knocked without receiving any answer, and even
turned the handle, but only to find that the door was locked upon
the inside. Naturally enough she ran down to tell the cook, and
the two women with the coachman came up into the hall and
listened to the dispute which was still raging. They all agreed
that only two voices were to be heard, those of Barclay and of
his wife. Barclay's remarks were subdued and abrupt so that
none of them were audible to the listeners. The lady's, on the
other hand, were most bitter, and when she raised her voice
could be plainly heard. 'You coward!' she repeated over and
over again. 'What can be done now? What can be done now?
Give me back my life. I will never so much as breathe the same
air with you again! You coward! You coward!' Those were
scraps of her conversation, ending in a sudden dreadful cry in the
man's voice, with a crash, and a piercing scream from the
woman. Convinced that some tragedy had occurred, the coach-
man rushed to the door and strove to force it, while scream after
scream issued from within. He was unable, however, to make
his way in, and the maids were too distracted with fear to be of
any assistance to him. A sudden thought struck him, however,
and he ran through the hall door and round to the lawn upon
which the long French windows open. One side of the window
was open, which I understand was quite usual in the summer-
time, and he passed without difficulty into the room. His mis-
tress had ceased to scream and was stretched insensible upon a
couch, while with his feet tilted over the side of an armchair, and
his head upon the ground near the corner of the fender, was Iying
the unfortunate soldier stone dead in a pool of his own blood.

  "Naturally, the coachman's first thought, on finding that he
could do nothing for his master, was to open the door. But here
an unexpected and singular difficulty presented itself. The key
was not in the inner side of the door, nor could he find it
anywhere in the room. He went out again, therefore, through the
window, and, having obtained the help of a policeman and of a
medical man, he returned. The lady, against whom naturally the
strongest suspicion rested, was removed to her room, still in a
state of insensibility. The colonel's body was then placed upon
the sofa and a careful examination made of the scene of the
tragedy.

  "The injury from which the unfortunate veteran was suffering
was found to be a jagged cut some two inches long at the back
part of his head, which had evidently been caused by a violent
blow from a blunt weapon. Nor was it difficult to guess what
that weapon may have been. Upon the floor, close to the body,
was lying a singular club of hard carved wood with a bone
handle. The colonel possessed a varied collection of weapons
brought from the different countries in which he had fought, and
it is conjectured by the police that this club was among his
trophies. The servants deny having seen it before, but among the
numerous curiosities in the house it is possible that it may have
been overlooked. Nothing else of importance was discovered in
the room by the police, save the inexplicable fact that neither
upon Mrs. Barclay's person nor upon that of the victim nor in
any part of the room was the missing key to be found. The door
had eventually to be opened by a locksmith from Aldershot.

  "That was the state of things, Watson, when upon the Tues-
day morning I, at the request of Major Murphy, went down to
Aldershot to supplement the efforts of the police. I think that you
will acknowledge that the problem was already one of interest,
but my observations soon made me realize that it was in truth
much more extraordinary than would at first sight appear.

  "Before examining the room I cross-questioned the servants,
but only succeeded in eliciting the facts which I have already
stated. One other detail of interest was remembered by Jane
Stewart, the housemaid. You will remember that on hearing the
sound of the quarrel she descended and returned with the other
servants. On that first occasion, when she was alone, she says
that the voices of her master and mistress were sunk so low that
she could hardly hear anything, and judged by their tones rather
than their words that they had fallen out. On my pressing her,
however, she remembered that she heard the word David uttered
twice by the lady. The point is of the utmost importance as
guiding us towards the reason of the sudden quarrel. The colo-
nel's name, you remember, was James.

  "There was one thing in the case which had made the deepest
impression both upon the servants and the police. This was the
contortion of the colonel's face. It had set, according to their
account, into the most dreadful expression of fear and horror
which a human countenance is capable of assuming. More than
one person fainted at the mere sight of him, so terrible was the
effect. It was quite certain that he had foreseen his fate, and that
it had caused him the utmost horror. This, of course, fitted in
well enough with the police theory, if the colonel could have
seen his wife making a murderous attack upon him. Nor was the
fact of the wound being on the back of his head a fatal objection
to this, as he might have turned to avoid the blow. No informa-
tion could be got from the lady herself, who was temporarily
insane from an acute attack of brain-fever.

  "From the police I learned that Miss Morrison, who you
remember went out that evening with Mrs. Barclay, denied
having any knowledge of what it was which had caused the
ill-humour in which her companion had returned.

  "Having gathered these facts, Watson, I smoked several pipes
over them, trying to separate those which were crucial from
others which were merely incidental. There could be no question
that the most distinctive and suggestive point in the case was the
singular disappearance of the door-key. A most careful search
had failed to discover it in the room. Therefore it must have been
taken from it. But neither the colonel nor the colonel's wife
could have taken it. That was perfectly clear. Therefore a third
person must have entered the room. And that third person could
only have come in through the window. It seemed to me that a
careful examination of the room and the lawn might possibly
reveal some traces of this mysterious individual. You know my
methods, Watson. There was not one of them which I did not
apply to the inquiry. And it ended by my discovering traces, but
very different ones from those which I had expected. There had
been a man in the room, and he had crossed the lawn coming
from the road. I was able to obtain five very clear impressions of
his footmarks: one in the roadway itself, at the point where he
had climbed the low wall, two on the lawn, and two very faint
ones upon the stained boards near the window where he had
entered. He had apparently rushed across the lawn, for his
toe-marks were much deeper than his heels. But it was not the
man who surprised me. It was his companion."

  "His companion!"

  Holmes pulled a large sheet of tissue-paper out of his pocket
and carefully unfolded it upon his knee.

  "What do you make of that?" he asked.

  The paper was covered with the tracings of the footmarks of
some small animal. It had five well-marked footpads, an indica-
tion of long nails, and the whole print might be nearly as large as
a dessert-spoon.

  "It's a dog," said I.

  "Did you ever hear of a dog running up a curtain? I found
distinct traces that this creature had done so."

  "A monkey, then?"

  "But it is not the print of a monkey."

  "What can it be, then?"

  "Neither dog nor cat nor monkey nor any creature that we are
familiar with. I have tried to reconstruct it from the measure-
ments. Here are four prints where the beast has been standing
motionless. You see that it is no less than fifteen inches from
fore-foot to hind. Add to that the length of neck and head, and
you get a creature not much less than two feet long -- probably
more if there is any tail. But now observe this other measure-
ment. The animal has been moving, and we have the length of
its stride. In each case it is only about three inches. You have an
indication, you see, of a long body with very short legs attached
to it. It has not been considerate enough to leave any of its hair
behind it. But its general shape must be what I have indicated,
and it can run up a curtain. and it is carnivorous."

  "How do you deduce that?"

  "Because it ran up the curtain. A canary's cage was hanging
in the window, and its aim seems to have been to get at the
bird."

  "Then what was the beast?"

  "Ah, if I could give it a name it might go a long way towards
solving the case. On the whole, it was probably some creature of
the weasel and stoat tribe -- and yet it is larger than any of these
that I have seen."

  "But what had it to do with the crime?"

  "That, also, is still obscure. But we have learned a good deal,
you perceive. We know that a man stood in the road looking at
the quarrcl between the Barclays -- the blinds were up and the
room lighted. We know, also, that he ran across the lawn,
entered the room, accompanied by a strange animal, and that he
either struck the colonel or, as is equally possible, that the
colonel fell down from sheer fright at the sight of him, and cut
his head on the corner of the fender. Finally we have the curious
fact that the intruder carried away the key with him when he
left."

  "Your discoveries seem to have left the business more ob-
scure than it was before," said I.

  "Quite so. They undoubtedly showed that the affair was much
deeper than was at first conjectured. I thought the matter over,
and I came to the conclusion that I must approach the case from
another aspect. But really, Watson, I am keeping you up, and I
might just as well tell you all this on our way to Aldershot
to-morrow."

  "Thank you, you have gone rather too far to stop."

  "It is quite certain that when Mrs. Barclay left the house at
half-past seven she was on good terms with her husband. She
was never, as I think I have said, ostentatiously affectionate, but
she was heard by the coachman chatting with the colonel in a
friendly fashion. Now, it was equally certain that, immediately
on her return, she had gone to the room in which she was least
likely to see her husband, had flown to tea as an agitated woman
will, and finally, on his coming in to her, had broken into
violent recriminations. Therefore something had occurred be-
tween seven-thirty and nine o'clock which had completely al-
tered her feelings towards him. But Miss Morrison had been with
her during the whole of that hour and a half. It was absolutely
certain, therefore, in spite of her denial, that she must know
something of the matter.

  "My first conjecture was that possibly there had been some
passages between this young lady and the old soldier, which the
former had now confessed to the wife. That would account for
the angry return, and also for the girl's denial that anything had
occurred. Nor would it be entirely incompatible with most of the
words overheard. But there was the reference to David, and therc
was the known affection of the colonel for his wife to weigh
against it, to say nothing of the tragic intrusion of this other man,
which might, of course, be entirely disconnected with what had
gone before. It was not easy to pick one's steps, but, on the
whole, I was inclined to dismiss the idea that there had been
anything between the colonel and Miss Morrison, but more than
ever convinced that the young lady held the clue as to what it
was which had turned Mrs. Barclay to hatred of her husband. I
took the obvious course, therefore, of calling upon Miss M., of
explaining to her that I was perfectly certain that she held the
facts in her possession, and of assuring her that her friend, Mrs.
Barclay, might find herself in the dock upon a capital charge
unless the matter were cleared up.

  "Miss Morrison is a little ethereal slip of a girl, with timid
eyes and blond hair, but I found her by no means wanting in
shrewdness and common sense. She sat thinking for some time
after I had spoken, and then, turning to me with a brisk air of
resolution, she broke into a remarkable statement which I will
condense for your benefit.

  " 'I promised my friend that I would say nothing of the
matter, and a promise is a promise,' said she; 'but if I can really
help her when so serious a charge is laid against her, and when
her own mouth, poor darling, is closed by illness, then I think I
am absolved from my promise. I will tell you exactly what
happened upon Monday evening.

  " 'We were returning from the Watt Street Mission about a
quarter to nine o'clock. On our way we had to pass through
Hudson Street, which is a very quiet thoroughfare. There is only
one lamp in it, upon the left-hand side, and as we approached
this lamp I saw a man coming towards us with his back very
bent, and something like a box slung over one of his shoulders.
He appeared to be deformed, for he carried his head low and
walked with his knees bent. We were passing him when he
raised his face to look at us in the circle of light thrown by the
lamp, and as he did so he stopped and screamed out in a dreadful
voice, "My God, it's Nancy!" Mrs. Barclay turned as white as
death and would have fallen down had the dreadful-looking
creature not caught hold of her. I was going to call for the
police, but she, to my surprise, spoke quite civilly to the fellow.

  " ' "I thought you had been dead this thirty years, Henry,"
said she in a shaking voice.

  " ' "So I have," said he, and it was awful to hear the tones
that he said it in. He had a very dark, fearsome face, and a
gleam in his eyes that comes back to me in my dreams. His hair
and whiskers were shot with gray, and his face was all crinkled
and puckered like a withered apple.

  " ' "Just walk on a little way, dear," said Mrs. Barclay; "I
want to have a word with this man. There is nothing to be afraid
of." She tried to speak boldly, but she was still deadly pale and
could hardly get her words out for the trembling of her lips.

  " 'I did as she asked me, and they talked together for a few
minutes. Then she came down the street with her eyes blazing,
and I saw the crippled wretch standing by the lamp-post and
shaking his clenched fists in the air as if he were mad with rage.
She never said a word until we were at the door here, when she
took me by the hand and begged me to tell no one what had
happened.

  " ' "It's an old acquaintance of mine who has come down in
the world," said she. When I promised her I would say nothing
she kissed me, and I have never seen her since. I have told you
now the whole truth, and if I withheld it from the police it is
because I did not realize then the danger in which my dear friend
stood. I know that it can only be to her advantage that everything
should be known.'

  "There was her statement, Watson, and to me, as you can
imagine, it was like a light on a dark night. Everything which
had been disconnected before began at once to assume its true
place, and I had a shadowy presentiment of the whole sequence
of events. My next step obviously was to find the man who had
produced such a remarkable impression upon Mrs. Barclay. If he
were still in Aldershot it should not be a very difficult matter.
There are not such a very great number of civilians, and a
deformed man was sure to have attracted attention. I spent a day
in the search, and by evening -- this very evening, Watson -- I
had run him down. The man's name is Henry Wood, and he
lives in lodgings in this same street in which the ladies met him.
He has only been five days in the place. In the character of a
registration-agent I had a most interesting gossip with his land-
lady. The man is by trade a conjurer and performer, going round
the canteens after nightfall, and giving a little entertainment at
each. He carries some creature about with him in that box, about
which the landlady seemed to be in considerable trepidation, for
she had never seen an animal like it. He uses it in some of his
tricks according to her account. So much the woman was able to
tell me, and also that it was a wonder the man lived, seeing how
twisted he was, and that he spoke in a strange tongue sometimes,
and that for the last two nights she had heard him groaning and
weeping in his bedroom. He was all right, as far as money went,
but in his deposit he had given her what looked like a bad florin.
She showed it to me, Watson, and it was an Indian rupee.

  "So now, my dear fellow, you see exactly how we stand and
why it is I want you. It is perfectly plain that after the ladies
parted from this man he followed them at a distance, that he saw
the quarrel between husband and wife through the window, that
he rushed in, and that the creature which he carried in his box
got loose. That is all very certain. But he is the only person in
this world who can tell us exactly what happened in that room."

  "And you intend to ask him?"

  "Most certainly -- but in the presence of a witness."

  "And I am the witness?"

  "If you will be so good. If he can clear the matter up, well
and good. If he refuses, we have no alternative but to apply for a
warrant."

  "But how do you know he'll be there when we return?"

  "You may be sure that I took some precautions. I have one of
my Baker Street boys mounting guard over him who would stick
to him like a burr, go where he might. We shall find him in
Hudson Street to-morrow, Watson, and meanwhile I should be
the criminal myself if I kept you out of bed any longer."

  It was midday when we found ourselves at the scene of the
tragedy, and, under my companion's guidance, we made our
way at once to Hudson Street. In spite of his capacity for
concealing his emotions, I could easily see that Holmes was in a
state of suppressed excitement, while I was myself tingling with
that half-sporting, half-intellectual pleasure which I invariably
experienced when I associated myself with him in his invest-
igations.

  "This is the street," said he as we turned into a short thor-
oughfare lined with plain two-storied brick houses. "Ah, here is
Simpson to report."

  "He's in all right, Mr. Holmes," cried a small street Arab,
running up to us.

  "Good, Simpson!" said Holmes, patting him on the head.
"Come along, Watson. This is the house." He sent in his card
with a message that he had come on important business, and a
moment later we were face to face with the man whom we had
come to see. In spite of the warm weather he was crouching over
a fire, and the little room was like an oven. The man sat all
twisted and huddled in his chair in a way which gave an inde-
scribable impression of deformity; but the face which he turned
towards us, though worn and swarthy, must at some time have
been remarkable for its beauty. He looked suspiciously at us now
out of yellow-shot, bilious eyes, and, without speaking or rising,
he waved towards two chairs.

  "Mr. Henry Wood, late of India, I believe," said Holmes
affably. "I've come over this little matter of Colonel Barclay's
death."

  "What should I know about that?"

  "That's what I want to ascertain. You know, I suppose, that
unless the matter is cleared up, Mrs. Barclay, who is an old
friend of yours, will in all probability be tried for murder."

  The man gave a violent start.

  "I don't know who you are," he cried, "nor how you come
to know what you do know, but will you swear that this is true
that you tell me?"

  "Why, they are only waiting for her to come to her senses to
arrest her."

  "My God! Are you in the police yourself?"

  "No."

  "What business is it of yours, then?"

  "It's every man's business to see justice done."

  "You can take my word that she is innocent."

  "Then you are guilty."

  "No, I am not."

  "Who killed Colonel James Barclay, then?"

  "It was a just Providence that killed him. But, mind you this,
that if I had knocked his brains out, as it was in my heart to do,
he would have had no more than his due from my hands. If his
own guilty conscience had not struck him down it is likely
enough that I might have had his blood upon my soul. You want
me to tell the story. Well, I don't know why I shouldn't, for
there's no cause for me to be ashamed of it.

  "It was in this way, sir. You see me now with my back like a
camel and my ribs all awry, but there was a time when Corporal
Henry Wood was the smartest man in the One Hundred and
Seventeenth foot. We were in India, then, in cantonments, at a
place we'll call Bhurtee. Barclay, who died the other day, was
sergeant in the same company as myself, and the belle of the
regiment, ay, and the finest girl that ever had the breath of life
between her lips, was Nancy Devoy, the daughter of the colour-
sergeant. There were two men that loved her, and one that she
loved, and you'll smile when you look at this poor thing huddled
before the fire and hear me say that it was for my good looks that
she loved me.

  "Well, though I had her heart, her father was set upon her
marrying Barclay. I was a harum-scarum, reckless lad, and he
had had an education and was already marked for the sword-belt.
But the girl held true to me, and it seemed that I would have had
her when the Mutiny broke out, and all hell was loose in the
country.

  "We were shut up in Bhurtee, the regiment of us with half a
battery of artillery, a company of Sikhs, and a lot of civilians
and women-folk. There were ten thousand rebels round us, and
they were as keen as a set of terriers round a rat-cage. About the
second week of it our water gave out, and it was a question
whether we could communicate with General Neill's column,
which was moving up-country. It was our only chance, for we
could not hope to fight our way out with all the women and
children, so I volunteered to go out and to warn General Neill of
our danger. My offer was accepted, and I talked it over with
Sergeant Barclay, who was supposed to know the ground better
than any other man, and who drew up a route by which I might
get through the rebel lines. At ten o'clock the same night I
started off upon my journey. There were a thousand lives to
save, but it was of only one that I was thinking when I dropped
over the wall that night.

  "My way ran down a dried-up watercourse, which we hoped
would screen me from the enemy's sentries; but as I crept round
the corner of it I walked right into six of them, who were
crouching down in the dark waiting for me. In an instant I was
stunned with a blow and bound hand and foot. But the real blow
was to my heart and not to my head, for as I came to and
listened to as much as I could understand of their talk, I heard
enough to tell me that my comrade, the very man who had
arranged the way I was to take, had betrayed me by means of a
native servant into the hands of the enemy.

  "Well, there's no need for me to dwell on that part of it. You
know now what James Barclay was capable of. Bhurtee was
relieved by Neill next day, but the rebels took me away with
them in their retreat, and it was many a long year before ever I
saw a white face again. I was tortured and tried to get away, and
was captured and tortured again. You can see for yourselves the
state in which I was left. Some of them that fled into Nepal took
me with them, and then afterwards I was up past Darjeeling. The
hill-folk up there murdered the rebels who had me, and I became
their slave for a time until I escaped; but instead of going south I
had to go north, until I found myself among the Afghans. There
I wandered about for many a year, and at last came back to the
Punjab, where I lived mostly among the natives and picked up a
living by the conjuring tricks that I had learned. What use was it
for me, a wretched cripple, to go back to England or to make
myself known to my old comrades? Even my wish for revenge
would not make me do that. I had rather that Nancy and my old
pals should think of Harry Wood as having died with a straight
back, than see him living and crawling with a stick like a
chimpanzee. They never doubted that I was dead, and I meant
that they never should. I heard that Barclay had married Nancy,
and that he was rising rapidly in the regiment, but even that did
not make me speak.

  "But when one gets old one has a longing for home. For years
I've been dreaming of the bright green fields and the hedges of
England. At last I determined to see them before I died. I saved
enough to bring me across, and then I came here where the
soldiers are, for I know their ways and how to amuse them and
so earn enough to keep me."

  "Your narrative is most interesting," said Sherlock Holmes.
"I have already heard of your meeting with Mrs. Barclay, and
your mutual recognition. You then, as I understand, followed her
home and saw through the window an altercation between her
husband and her, in which she doubtless cast his conduct to you
in his teeth. Your own feelings overcame you, and you ran
across the lawn and broke in upon them."

  "I did, sir, and at the sight of me he looked as I have never
seen a man look before, and over he went with his head on the
fender. But he was dead before he fell. I read death on his face
as plain as I can read that text over the fire. The bare sight of me
was like a bullet through his guilty heart."

  "And then?"

  "Then Nancy fainted, and I caught up the key of the door
from her hand, intending to unlock it and get help. But as I was
doing it it seemed to me better to leave it alone and get away, for
the thing might look black against me, and anyway my secret
would be out if I were taken. In my haste I thrust the key into
my pocket, and dropped my stick while I was chasing Teddy,
who had run up the curtain. When I got him into his box, from
which he had slipped, I was off as fast as I could run."

  "Who's Teddy?" asked Holmes.

  The man leaned over and pulled up the front of a kind of hutch
in the corner. In an instant out there slipped a beautiful reddish-
brown creature, thin and lithe, with the legs of a stoat, a long,
thin nose, and a pair of the finest red eyes that ever I saw in an
animal's head.

  "It's a mongoose," I cried.

  "Well, some call them that, and some call them ichneumon,"
said the man. "Snake-catcher is what I call them, and Teddy is
amazing quick on cobras. I have one here without the fangs, and
Teddy catches it every night to please the folk in the canteen.

  "Any other point, sir?"

  "Well, we may have to apply to you again if Mrs. Barclay
should prove to be in serious trouble."

  "In that case, of course, I'd come forward."

  "But if not, there is no object in raking up this scandal against
a dead man, foully as he has acted. You have at least the
satisfaction of knowing that for thirty years of his life his con-
science bitterly reproached him for his wicked deed. Ah, there
goes Major Murphy on the other side of the street. Good-bye,
Wood. I want to learn if anything has happened since yesterday."

  We were in time to overtake the major before he reached the
corner.

  "Ah, Holmes," he said, "I suppose you have heard that all
this fuss has come to nothing?"

  "What then?"

  "The }nquest is just over. The medical evidence showed
conclusively that death was due to apoplexy. You see it was
quite a simple case. after all."

  "Oh, remarkably superficial," said Holmes, smiling. "Come,
Watson, I don't think we shall be wanted in Aldershot any
more."

  "There's one thing," said I as we walked down to the station.
"If the husband's name was James, and the other was Henry,
what was this talk about David?"

  "That one word, my dear Watson, should have told me the
whole story had I been the ideal reasoner which you are so fond
of depicting. It was evidently a term of reproach."

  "Of reproach?''

  "Yes; David strayed a little occasionally, you know, and on
one occasion in the same direction as Sergeant James Barclay.
You remember the small affair of Uriah and Bathsheba? My
Biblical knowledge is a trifle rusty, I fear, but you will find the
story in the first or second of Samuel."

             The Resident Patient

  In glancing over the somewhat incoherent series of Memoirs
with which I have endeavoured to illustrate a few of the mental
peculiarities of my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I have been
struck by the difficulty which I have experienced in picking out
examples which shall in every way answer my purpose. For in
those cases in which Holmes has performed some tour de force
of analytical reasoning, and has demonstrated the value of his
peculiar methods of investigation, the facts themselves have
often been so slight or so commonplace that I could not feel
justified in laying them before the public. On the other hand, it
has frequently happened that he has been concerned in some
research where the facts have been of the most remarkable and
dramatic character, but where the share which he has himself
taken in determining their causes has been less pronounced than
I, as his biographer, could wish. The small matter which I have
chronicled under the heading of "A Study in Scarlet," and that
other later one connected with the loss of the Gloria Scott, may
serve as examples of this Scylla and Charybdis which are forever
threatening the historian. It may be that in the business of which
I am now about to write the part which my friend played is not
sufficiently accentuated; and yet the whole train of circumstances
is so remarkable that I cannot bring myself to omit it entirely
from this series.

  It had been a close, rainy day in October. Our blinds were
half-drawn, and Holmes lay curled upon the sofa, reading and
re-reading a letter which he had received by the morning post.
For myself, my term of service in India had trained me to stand
heat better than cold, and a thermometer of ninety was no
hardship. But the paper was uninteresting. Parliament had risen.
Everybody was out of town, and I yearned for the glades of the
New Forest or the shingle of Southsea. A depleted bank account
had caused me to postpone my holiday, and as to my compan-
ion, neither the country nor the sea presented the slightest attrac-
tion to him. He loved to lie in the very centre of five millions of
people, with his filaments stretching out and running through
them, responsive to every little rumour or suspicion of unsolved
crime. Appreciation of nature found no place among his many
gifts, and his only change was when he turned his mind from the
evildoer of the town to track down his brother of the country.

  Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation, I had
tossed aside the barren paper, and, leaning back in my chair I
fell into a brown study. Suddenly my companion's voice broke
in upon my thoughts.

  "You are right, Watson," said he. "It does seem a very
preposterous way of settling a dispute."

  "Most preposterous!" I exclaimed, and then, suddenly realiz-
ing how he had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in
my chair and stared at him in blank amazement.

  "What is this, Holmes?" I cried. "This is beyond anything
which I could have imagined."

  He laughed heartily at my perplexity.

  "You remember," said he, "that some little time ago, when I
read you the passage in one of Poe's sketches, in which a close
reasoner follows the unspoken thoughts of his companion, you
were inclined to treat the matter as a mere tour de force of the
author. On my remarking that I was constantly in the habit of
doing the same thing you expressed incredulity."

  "Oh, no!"

  "Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but certainly
with your eyebrows. So when I saw you throw down your paper
and enter upon a train of thought, I was very happy to have the
opportunity of reading it off, and eventually of breaking into it,
as a proof that I had been in rapport with you."

  But I was still far from satisfied. "In the example which you
read to me," said I, "the reasoner drew his conclusions from the
actions of the man whom he observed. If I remember right, he
stumbled over a heap of stones, looked up at the stars, and so
on. But I have been seated quietly in my chair, and what clues
can I have given you?"

  "You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man
as the means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours
are faithful servants."

  "Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from
my features?"

  "Your features, and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot
yourself recall how your reverie commenced?"

  "No, I cannot."

  "Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which
was the action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a
minute with a vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed them-
selves upon your newly framed picture of General Gordon, and I
saw by the alteration in your face that a train of thought had been
started. But it did not lead very far. Your eyes turned across to
the unframed portrait of Henry Ward Beecher, which stands
upon the top of your books. You then glanced up at the wall, and
of course your meaning was obvious. You were thinking that if
the portrait were framed it would just cover that bare space and
correspond with Gordon's picture over there."

  "You have followed me wonderfully!" I exclaimed.

  "So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your
thoughts went back to Beecher, and you looked hard across as if
you were studying the character in his features. Then your eyes
ceased to pucker, but you continued to look across, and your
face was thoughtful. You were recalling the incidents of Bee-
cher's career. I was well aware that you could not do this
without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of
the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember you
expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he
was received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so
strongly about it that I knew you could not think of Beecher
without thinking of that also. When a moment later I saw your
eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your mind
had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your
lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clinched, I was
positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was
shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then, again,
your face grew sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling
upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand
stole towards your own old wound, and a smile quivered on your
lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of
settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind.
At this point I agreed with you that it was preposterous, and was
glad to find that all my deductions had been correct.

  "Absolutely!" said I. "And now that you have explained it, I
confess that I am as amazed as before."

  "It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you. I
should not have intruded it upon your attention had you not
shown some incredulity the other day. But the evening has
brought a breeze with it. What do you say to a ramble through
London?"

  I was weary of our little sitting-room and gladly acquiesced.
For three hours we strolled about together, watching the ever-
changing kaleidoscope of life as it ebbs and flows through Fleet
Street and the Strand. His characteristic talk, with its keen
observance of detail and subtle power of inference, held me
amused and enthralled. It was ten o'clock before we reached
Baker Street again. A brougham was waiting at our door.

  "Hum! A doctor's -- general practitioner, I perceive," said
Holmes. "Not been long in practice, but has a good deal to do.
Come to consult us, I fancy! Lucky we came back!"

  I was sufficiently conversant with Holmes's methods to be
able to follow his reasoning, and to see that the nature and state
of the various medical instruments in the wicker basket which
hung in the lamp-light inside the brougham had given him the
data for his swift deduction. The light in our window above
showed that this late visit was indeed intended for us. With some
curiosity as to what could have sent a brother medico to us at
such an hour, I followed Holmes into our sanctum.

  A pale, taper-faced man with sandy whiskers rose up from a
chair by the fire as we entered. His age may not have been more
than three or four and thirty, but his haggard expression and
unhealthy hue told of a life which had sapped his strength and
robbed him of his youth. His manner was nervous and shy, like
that of a sensitive gentleman, and the thin white hand which he
laid on the mantelpiece as he rose was that of an artist rather than
of a surgeon. His dress was quiet and sombre -- a black frock-
coat, dark trousers, and a touch of colour about his necktie.

  "Good-evening, Doctor," said Holmes cheerily. "I am glad
to see that you have only been waiting a very few minutes."

  "You spoke to my coachman, then?"

  "No, it was the candle on the side-table that told me. Pray
resume your seat and let me know how I can serve you."

  "My name is Dr. Percy Trevelyan," said our visitor, "and I
live at 403 Brook Street."

  "Are you not the author of a monograph upon obscure ner-
vous lesions?" I asked.

  His pale cheeks flushed with pleasure at hearing that his work
was known to me.

  "I so seldom hear of the work that I thought it was quite
dead," said he. "My publishers gave me a most discouraging
account of its sale. You are yourself, I presume, a medical man."

  "A retired army surgeon."

  "My own hobby has always been nervous disease. I should
wish to make it an absolute specialty, but of course a man must
take what he can get at first. This, however, is beside the
question, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and I quite appreciate how
valuable your time is. The fact is that a very singular train of
events has occurred recently at my house in Brook Street, and
to-night they came to such a head that I felt it was quite
impossible for me to wait another hour before asking for your
advlce and assistance."

  Sherlock Holmes sat down and lit his pipe. "You are very
welcome to both," said he. "Pray let me have a detailed account
of what the circumstances are which have disturbed you."

  "One or two of them are so trivial," said Dr. Trevelyan
"that really I am almost ashamed to mention them. But the
matter is so inexplicable, and the recent turn which it has taken
is so elaborate, that I shall lay it all before you, and you shall
judge what is essential and what is not.

  "I am compelled, to begin with, to say something of my own
college career. I am a London University man, you know, and I
am sure that you will not think that I am unduly singing my own
praises if I say that my student career was considered by my
professors to be a very promising one. After I had graduated I
continued to devote myself to research, occupying a minor posi-
tion in King's College Hospital, and I was fortunate enough to
excite considerable interest by my research into the pathology of
catalepsy, and finally to win the Bruce Pinkerton prize and
medal by the monograph on nervous lesions to which your friend
has just alluded. I should not go too far if I were to say that there
was a general impression at that time that a distinguished career
lay before me.

  "But the one great stumbling-block lay in my want of capital.
As you will readily understand, a specialist who aims high is
compelled to start in one of a dozen streets in the Cavendish
Square quarter, all of which entail enormous rents and furnishing
expenses. Besides this preliminary outlay, he must be prepared
to keep himself for some years, and to hire a presentable carriage
and horse. To do this was quite beyond my power, and I could
only hope that by economy I might in ten years' time save
enough to enable me to put up my plate. Suddenly, however, an
unexpected incident opened up quite a new prospect to me.

  "This was a visit from a gentleman of the name of Blessington,
who was a complete stranger to me. He came up into my room
one morning, and plunged into business in an instant.

  " 'You are the same Percy Trevelyan who has had so distin-
guished a career and won a great prize lately?' said he.

  "I bowed.

  " 'Answer me frankly,' he continued, 'for you will find it to
your interest to do so. You have all the cleverness which makes a
successful man. Have you the tact?'

  "I could not help smiling at the abruptness of the question.

  " 'l trust that I have my share,' I said.

  " 'Any bad habits? Not drawn towards drink, eh?'

  " 'Really, sir!' I cried.

  " 'Quite right! That's all right! But I was bound to ask. With
all these qualities, why are you not in practice?'

  "I shrugged my shoulders.

  " 'Come, come!' said he in his bustling way. 'It's the old story.
More in your brains than in your pocket, eh? What would you
say if I were to start you in Brook Street?'

  "I stared at him in astonishment.

  " 'Oh, it's for my sake, not for yours,' he cried. 'I'll be
perfectly frank with you, and if it suits you it will suit me very
well. I have a few thousands to invest, d'ye see, and I think I'll
sink them in you.'

  " 'But why?' I gasped.

  " 'Well, it's just like any other speculation, and safer than
most.'

  " 'What am I to do, then?'

  " 'I'll tell you. I'll take the house, furnish it, pay the maids,
and run the whole place. All you have to do is just to wear out
your chair in the consulting-room. I'll let you have pocket-
money and everything. Then you hand over to me three quarters
of what you earn, and you keep the other quarter for yourself.'

  "This was the strange proposal, Mr. Holmes, with which the
man Blessington approached me. I won't weary you with the
account of how we bargained and negotiated. It ended in my
moving into the house next Lady Day, and starting in-practice on
very much the same conditions as he had suggested. He came
himself to live with me in the character of a resident patient. His
heart was weak, it appears, and he needed constant medical
supervision. He turned the two best rooms of the first floor into a
sitting-room and bedroom for himself. He was a man of singular
habits, shunning company and very seldom going out. His life
was irregular, but in one respect he was regularity itself. Every
evening, at the same hour, he walked into the consulting-room,
examined the books, put down five and three-pence for every
guinea that I had earned, and carried the rest off to the strong-
box in his own room.

  "I may say with confidence that he never had occasion to
regret his speculation. From the first it was a success. A few
good cases and the reputation which I had won in the hospital
brought me rapidly to the front, and during the last few years I
have made him a rich man.

  "So much, Mr. Holmes, for my past history and my relations
with Mr. Blessington. It only remains for me now to tell you
what has occurred to bring me here tonight.

  "Some weeks ago Mr. Blessington came down to me in, as it
seemed to me, a state of considerable agitation. He spoke of
some burglary which, he said, had been committed in the West
End, and he appeared, I remember, to be quite unnecessarily
excited about it, declaring that a day should not pass before we
should add stronger bolts to our windows and doors. For a week
he continued to be in a peculiar state of restlessness, peering
continually out of the windows, and ceasing to take the short
walk which had usually been the prelude to his dinner. From his
manner it struck me that he was in mortal dread of something or
somebody, but when I questioned him upon the point he became
so offensive that I was compelled to drop the subject. Gradually,
as time passed, his fears appeared to die away, and he renewed
his former habits, when a fresh event reduced him to the pitiable
state of prostration in which he now lies.

  "What happened was this. Two days ago I received the letter
which I now read to you. Neither address nor date is attached to it.

      "A Russian nobleman who is now resident in England [it

    runs], would be glad to avail himself of the professional

    assistance of Dr. Percy Trevelyan. He has been for some

    years a victim to cataleptic attacks, on which, as is well

    known, Dr. Trevelyan is an authority. He proposes to call at

    about a quarter-past six to-morrow evening, if Dr. Trevelyan

    will make it convenient to be at home.

  "This letter interested me deeply, because the chief difficulty
in the study of catalepsy is the rareness of the disease. You may
believe, then, that I was in my consulting-room when, at the
appointed hour, the page showed in the patient.

  "He was an elderly man, thin, demure, and commonplace -- by
no means the conception one forms of a Russian nobleman. I
was much more struck by the appearance of his companion. This
was a tall young man, surprisingly handsome, with a dark, fierce
face, and the limbs and chest of a Hercules. He had his hand
under the other's arm as they entered, and helped him to a chair
with a tenderness which one would hardly have expected from
his appearance.

  " 'You will excuse my coming in, Doctor,' said he to me,
speaking English with a slight lisp. 'This is my father, and his
health is a matter of the most overwhelming importance to me.'

  "I was touched by this filial anxiety. 'You would, perhaps,
care to remain during the consultation?' said I.

  " 'Not for the world,' he cried with a gesture of horror. 'It is
more painful to me than I can express. If I were to see my father
in one of these dreadful seizures I am convinced that I should
never survive it. My own nervous system is an exceptionally
sensitive one. With your permission, I will remain in the waiting-
room while you go into my father's case.'

  "To this, of course, I assented, and the young man withdrew.
The patient and I then plunged into a discussion of his case, of
which I took exhaustive notes. He was not remarkable for intelli-
gence, and his answers were frequently obscure, which I attrib-
uted to his limited acquaintance with our language. Suddenly,
however, as I sat writing, he ceased to give any answer at all to
my inquiries, and on my turning towards him I was shocked to
see that he was sitting bolt upright in his chair, staring at me with
a perfectly blank and rigid face. He was again in the grip of his
mysterious malady.

  "My first feeling, as I have just said, was one of pity and
horror. My second, I fear, was rather one of professional satis-
faction. I made notes of my patient's pulse and temperature,
tested the rigidity of his muscles. and examined his reflexes.
There was nothing markedly abnormal in any of these condi-
tions, which harmonized with my former experiences. I had
obtained good results in such cases by the inhalation of nitrite of
amyl, and the present seemed an admirable opportunity of
testing its virtues. The bottle was downstairs in my laboratory,
so, leaving my patient seated in his chair, I ran down to get it.
There was some little delay in finding it -- five minutes, let us
say -- and then I returned. Imagine my amazement to find the
room empty and the patient gone.

  "Of course, my first act was to run into the waiting-room.
The son had gone also. The hall door had been closed, but not
shut. My page who admits patients is a new boy and by no
means quick. He waits downstairs and runs up to show patients
out when I ring the consulting-room bell. He had heard nothing,
and the affair remained a complete mystery. Mr. Blessington
came in from his walk shortly afterwards, but I did not say
anything to him upon the subject, for, to tell the truth, I have got
in the way of late of holding as little communication with him as
possible.

  "Well, I never thought that I should see anything more of the
Russian and his son, so you can imagine my amazement when,
at the very same hour this evening, they both came marching
into my consulting-room, just as they had done before.

  " 'I feel that I owe you a great many apologies for my abrupt
departure yesterday, Doctor,' said my patient.

  " 'I confess that I was very much surprised at it,' said I.

  " 'Well, the fact is,' he remarked, 'that when I recover from
these attacks my mind is always very clouded as to all that has
gone before. I woke up in a strange room, as it seemed to me,
and made my way out into the street in a sort of dazed way when
you were absent.'

  " 'And I,' said the son, 'seeing my father pass the door of the
waiting-room, naturally thought that the consultation had come
to an end. It was not until we had reached home that I began to
realize the true state of affairs.'

  " 'Well,' said I, laughing, 'there is no harm done except that
you puzzled me terribly; so if you, sir, would kindly step into the
waiting-room I shall be happy to continue our consultation which
was brought to so abrupt an ending.'

  "For half an hour or so I discussed the old gentleman's
symptoms with him, and then, having prescribed for him, I saw
him go off upon the arm of his son.

  "I have told you that Mr. Blessington generally chose this
hour of the day for his exercise. He came in shortly afterwards
and passed upstairs. An instant later I heard him running down,
and he burst into my consulting-room like a man who is mad
with panic.

  " 'Who has been in my room?' he cried.

  " 'No one,' said I.

  " 'It's a lie!' he yelled. 'Come up and look!'

  "I passed over the grossness of his language, as he seemed
half out of his mind with fear. When I went upstairs with him he
pointed to several footprints upon the light carpet.

  " 'Do you mean to say those are mine?' he cried.

  "They were certainly very much larger than any which he
could have made, and were evidently quite fresh. It rained hard
this afternoon, as you know, and my patients were the only
people who called. It must have been the case, then, that the
man in the waiting-room had, for some unknown reason, while I
was busy with the other, ascended to the room of my resident
patient. Nothing had been touched or taken, but there were the
footprints to prove that the intrusion was an undoubted fact.

  "Mr. Blessington seemed more excited over the matter than I
should have thought possible, though of course it was enough to
disturb anybody's peace of mind. He actually sat crying in an
armchair, and I could hardly get him to speak coherently. It was
his suggestion that I should come round to you, and of course I
at once saw the propriety of it, for certainly the incident is a very
singular one, though he appears to completely overrate its impor-
tance. If you would only come back with me in my brougham,
you would at least be able to soothe him, though I can hardly
hope that you will be able to explain this remarkable occurrence."

  Sherlock Holmes had listened to this long narrative with an
intentness which showed me that his interest was keenly aroused.
His face was as impassive as ever, but his lids had drooped more
heavily over his eyes, and his smoke had curled up more thickly
from his pipe to emphasize each curious episode in the doctor's
tale. As our visitor concluded, Holmes sprang up without a
word, handed me my hat, picked his own from the table, and
followed Dr. Trevelyan to the door. Within a quarter of an hour
we had been dropped at the door of the physician's residence in
Brook Street, one of those sombre, flat-faced houses which one
associates with a West End practice. A small page admitted us,
and we began at once to ascend the broad, well-carpeted stair.

  But a singular interruption brought us to a standstill. The light
at the top was suddenly whisked out, and from the darkness
came a reedy, quavering voice.

  "I have a pistol," it cried. "I give you my word that I'll fire
if you come any nearer."

  "This really grows outrageous, Mr. Blessington," cried Dr.
Trevelyan .

  "Oh, then it is you, Doctor." said the voice with a great
heave of relief. "But those other gentlemen. are they what they
pretend to be ?"

  We were conscious of a long scrutiny out of the darkness.

  "Yes, yes, it's all right," said the voice at last. "You can
come up, and I am sorry if my precautions have annoyed you."

  He relit the stair gas as he spoke, and we saw before us a
singular-looking man, whose appearance, as well as his voice,
testified to his jangled nerves. He was very fat, but had appar-
ently at some time been much fatter, so that the skin hung about
his face in loose pouches, like the cheeks of a bloodhound. He
was of a sickly colour, and his thin, sandy hair seemed to bristle
up with the intensity of his emotion. In his hand he held a pistol,
but he thrust it into his pocket as we advanced.

  "Good-evening, Mr. Holmes," said he. "I am sure I am very
much obliged to you for coming round. No one ever needed your
advice more than I do. I suppose that Dr. Trevelyan has told you
of this most unwarrantable intrusion into my rooms."

  "Quite so," said Holmes. "Who are these two men, Mr.
Blessington, and why do they wish to molest you?"

  "Well, well," said the resident patient in a nervous fashion,
"of course it is hard to say that. You can hardly expect me to
answer that, Mr. Holmes."

  "Do you mean that you don't know?"

  "Come in here, if you please. Just have the kindness to step in
here."

  He led the way into his bedroom, which was large and com-
fortably furnished.

  "You see that," said he, pointing to a big black box at the
end of his bed. "I have never been a very rich man, Mr.
Holmes -- never made but one investment in my life, as Dr.
Trevelyan would tell you. But I don't believe in bankers. I
would never trust a banker, Mr. Holmes. Between ourselves,
what little I have is in that box, so you can understand what it
means to me when unknown people force themselves into my
rooms."

  Holmes looked at Blessington in his questioning way and
shook his head.

  "I cannot possibly advise you if you try to deceive me," said
he.

  "But I have told you everything."

  Holmes turned on his heel with a gesture of disgust. "Good-
night, Dr. Trevelyan," said he.

  "And no advice for me?" cried Blessington in a breaking
voice.

  "My advice to you, sir, is to speak the truth."

  A minute later we were in the street and walking for home.
We had crossed Oxford Street and were halfway down Harley
Street before I could get a word from my companion.

  "Sorry to bring you out on such a fool's errand, Watson," he
said at last. "It is an interesting case, too, at the bottom of it."

  "I can make little of it," I confessed.

  "Well, it is quite evident that there are two men -- more
perhaps, but at least two -- who are determined for some reason
to get at this fellow Blessington. I have no doubt in my mind that
both on the first and on the second occasion that young man
penetrated to Blessington's room, while his confederate, by an
ingenious device, kept the doctor from interfering."

  "And the catalepsy?"

  "A fraudulent imitation, Watson, though I should hardly dare
to hint as much to our specialist. It is a very easy complaint to
imitate. I have done it myself."

  "And then?"

  "By the purest chance Blessington was out on each occasion.
Their reason for choosing so unusual an hour for a consultation
was obviously to insure that there should be no other patient in
the waiting-room. It just happened, however, that this hour
coincided with Blessington's constitutional, which seems to show
that they were not very well acquainted with his daily routine. Of
course, if they had been merely after plunder they would at least
have made some attempt to search for it. Besides, I can read in a
man's eye when it is his own skin that he is frightened for. It is
inconceivable that this fellow could have made two such vindic-
tive enemies as these appear to be without knowing of it. I hold
it, therefore, to be certain that he does know who these men are,
and that for reasons of his own he suppresses it. It is just
possible that to-morrow may find him in a more communicative
mood. "

  "Is there not one alternative," I suggested, "grotesquely im-
probable, no doubt, but still just conceivable? Might the whole
story of the cataleptic Russian and his son be a concoction of Dr.
Trevelyan's, who has, for his own purposes, been in Blessington's
rooms?"

  I saw in the gas-light that Holmes wore an amused smile at
this brilliant departure of mine.

  "My dear fellow," said he, "it was one of the first solutions
which occurred to me, but I was soon able to corroborate the
doctor's tale. This young man has left prints upon the stair-carpet
which made it quite superfluous for me to ask to see those which
he had made in the room. When I tell you that his shoes were
square-toed instead of being pointed like Blessington's, and were
quite an inch and a third longer than the doctor's, you will
acknowledge that there can be no doubt as to his individuality.
But we may sleep on it now, for I shall be surprised if we do not
hear something further from Brook Street in the morning."

  Sherlock Holmes's prophecy was soon fulfilled, and in a
dramatic fashion. At half-past seven next morning, in the first
dim glimmer of daylight, I found him standing by my bedside in
hls dressing-gown.

  "There's a brougham waiting for us, Watson," said he.

  "What's the matter, then?"

  "The Brook Street business."

  "Any fresh news?"

  "Tragic, but ambiguous," said he, pulling up the blind. "Look
at this -- a sheet from a notebook, with 'For God's sake come at
once. P. T.,' scrawled upon it in pencil. Our friend, the doctor,
was hard put to it when he wrote this. Come along, my dear
fellow, for it's an urgent call."

  In a quarter of an hour or so we were back at the physician's
house. He came running out to meet us with a face of horror.

  "Oh, such a business!" he cried with his hands to his temples.

  "What then?"

  "Blessington has committed suicide!"

  Holmes whistled.

  "Yes, he hanged himself during the night."

  We had entered, and the doctor had preceded us into what was
evidently his waiting-room.

  "I really hardly know what I am doing," he cried. "The
police are already upstairs. It has shaken me most dreadfully."

  "When did you find it out?"

  "He has a cup of tea taken in to him early every morning.
When the maid entered, about seven, there the unfortunate fellow
was hanging in the middle of the room. He had tied his cord to
the hook on which the heavy lamp used to hang, and he had
jumped off from the top of the very box that he showed us
yesterday."

  Holmes stood for a moment in deep thought.

  "With your permission," said he at last, "I should like to go
upstairs and look into the matter."

  We both ascended, followed by the doctor.

  It was a dreadful sight which met us as we entered the
bedroom door. I have spoken of the impression of flabbiness
which this man Blessington conveyed. As he dangled from the
hook it was exaggerated and intensified until he was scarce
human in his appearance. The neck was drawn out like a plucked
chicken's, making the rest of him seem the more obese and
unnatural by the contrast. He was clad only in his long night-
dress, and his swollen ankles and ungainly feet protruded starkly
from beneath it. Beside him stood a smart-looking police-inspector,
who was taking notes in a pocketbook

  "Ah, Mr. Holmes," said he heartily as my friend entered, "I
am delighted to see you."

  "Good-morning, Lanner," answered Holmes, "you won't think
me an intruder, I am sure. Have you heard of the events which
led up to this affair?"

  "Yes, I heard something of them."

  "Have you formed any opinion?"

  "As far as I can see, the man has been driven out of his senses
by fright. The bed has been well slept in, you see. There's his
impression, deep enough. It's about five in the morning, you
know, that suicides are most common. That would be about his
time for hanging himself. It seems to have been a very deliberate
affair."

  "I should say that he has been dead about three hours, judging
by the rigidity of the muscles," said I.

  "Noticed anything peculiar about the room?" asked Holmes.

  "Found a screw-driver and some screws on the wash-hand
stand. Seems to have smoked heavily during the night, too. Here
are four cigar-ends that I picked out of the fireplace."

  "Hum!" said Holmes, "have you got his cigar-holder?"

  "No, I have seen none."

  "His cigar-case, then?"

  "Yes, it was in his coat-pocket."

  Holmes opened it and smelled the single cigar which it
contained.

  "Oh, this is a Havana, and these others are cigars of the
peculiar sort which are imported by the Dutch from their East
Indian colonies. They are usually wrapped in straw, you know,
and are thinner for their length than any other brand." He picked
up the four ends and examined them with his pocket-lens.

  "Two of these have been smoked from a holder and two
without," said he. "Two have been cut by a not very sharp
knife, and two have had the ends bitten off by a set of excellent
teeth. This is no suicide, Mr. Lanner. It is a very deeply planned
and cold-blooded murder."

  "Impossible!" cried the inspector.

  "And why?"

  "Why should anyone murder a man in so clumsy a fashion as
by hanging him?"

  "That is what we have to find out."

  "How could they get in?"

  "Through the front door."

  "It was barred in the morning."

  "Then it was barred after them."

  "How do you know?"

  "I saw their traces. Excuse me a moment, and I may be able
to give you some further information about it."

  He went over to the door, and turning the lock he examined it
in his methodical way. Then he took out the key, which was on
the inside. and inspected that also. The bed, the carpet, the
chairs, the mantelpiece, the dead body, and the rope were each
in turn examined, until at last he professed himself satisfied, and
with my aid and that of the inspector cut down the wretched
object and laid it reverently under a sheet.

  "How about this rope?" he asked.

  "It is cut off this," said Dr. Trevelyan, drawing a large coil
from under the bed. "He was morbidly nervous of fire, and
always kept this beside him, so that he might escape by the
window in case the stairs were burning."

  "That must have saved them trouble," said Holmes thought-
fully. "Yes, the actual facts are very plain, and I shall be
surprised if by the afternoon I cannot give you the reasons for
them as well. I will take this photograph of Blessington, which I
see upon the mantelpiece, as it may help me in my inquiries."

  "But you have told us nothing!" cried the doctor.

  "Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of events,"
said Holmes. "There were three of them in it: the young man,
the old man, and a third, to whose identity I have no clue. The
first two, I need hardly remark, are the same who masqueraded
as the Russian count and his son, so we can give a very full
description of them. They were admitted by a confederate inside
the house. If I might offer you a word of advice. Inspector, it
would be to arrest the page. who, as I understand, has only
recently come into your service, Doctor."

  "The young imp cannot be found," said Dr. Trevelyan; "the
maid and the cook have just been searching for him."

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders.

  "He has played a not unimportant part in this drama," said
he. "The three men having ascended the stairs, which they did
on tiptoe, the elder man first, the younger man second, and the
unknown man in the rear --"

  "My dear Holmes!" I ejaculated.

  "Oh, there could be no question as to the superimposing of
the footmarks. I had the advantage of learning which was which
last night. They ascended, then, to Mr. Blessington's room, the
door of which they found to be locked. With the help of a wire,
however, they forced round the key. Even without the lens you
will perceive, by the scratches on this ward, where the pressure
was applied.

  "On entering the room their first proceeding must have been
to gag Mr. Blessington. He may have been asleep, or he may
have been so paralyzed with terror as to have been unable to cry
out. These walls are thick, and it is conceivable that his shriek, if
he had time to utter one, was unheard.

  "Having secured him, it is evident to me that a consultation of
some sort was held. Probably it was something in the nature of a
judicial proceeding. It must have lasted for some time, for it was
then that these cigars were smoked. The older man sat in that
wicker chair; it was he who used the cigar-holder. The younger
man sat over yonder; he knocked his ash off against the chest of
drawers. The third follow paced up and down. Blessington, I
think, sat upright in the bed, but of that I cannot be absolutely
certain.

  "Well, it ended by their taking Blessington and hanging him.
The matter was so prearranged that it is my belief that they
brought with them some sort of block or pulley which might
serve as a gallows. That screw-driver and those screws were, as I
conceive, for fixing it up. Seeing the hook, however, they
naturally saved themselves the trouble. Having finished their
work they made off, and the door was barred behind them by
their confederate."

  We had all listened with the deepest interest to this sketch of
the night's doings, which Holmes had deduced from signs so
subtle and minute that, even when he had pointed them out to us,
we could scarcely follow him in his reasonings. The inspector
hurried away on thc instant to make inquiries about the page.
while Holmes and I returned to Baker Street for breakfast.

  "I'll be back by three," said he when we had finished our
meal. "Both the inspector and the doctor will meet me here at
that hour, and I hope by that time to have cleared up any little
obscurity which the case may still present."

  Our visitors arrived at the appointed time, but it was a quarter
to four before my friend put in an appearance. From his expres-
sion as he entered, however, I could see that all had gone well
with him.

  "Any news, Inspector?"

  "We have got the boy, sir."

  "Excellent, and I have got the men."

  "You have got them!" we cried, all three.

  "Well, at least I have got their identity. This so-called
Blessington is, as I expected, well known at headquarters, and so
are his assailants. Their names are Biddle, Hayward, and Moffat."

  "The Worthingdon bank gang," cried the inspector.

  "Precisely," said Holmes.

  "Then Blessington must have been Sutton."

  "Exactly," said Holmes.

  "Why, that makes it as clear as crystal," said the inspector.

  But Trevelyan and I looked at each other in bewilderment.

  "You must surely remember the great Worthingdon bank
business," said Holmes. "Five men were in it -- these four and a
fifth called Cartwright. Tobin, the caretaker, was murdered, and
the thieves got away with seven thousand pounds. This was in
1875. They were all five arrested, but the evidence against them
was by no means conclusive. This Blessington or Sutton, who
was the worst of the gang, turned informer. On his evidence
Cartwright was hanged and the other three got fifteen years
apiece. When they got out the other day, which was some years
before their full term, they set themselves, as you perceive, to
hunt down the traitor and to avenge the death of their comrade
upon him. Twice they tried to get at him and failed; a third time
you see, it came off. Is there anything further which I can
explain, Dr. Trevelyan?"

  "I think you have made it all remarkably clear," said the
doctor. "No doubt the day on which he was so perturbed was the
day when he had seen of their release in the newspapers."

  "Quite so. His talk about a burglary was the merest blind."

  "But why could he not tell you this?"

  "Well, my dear sir, knowing the vindictive character of his
old associates, he was trying to hide his own identity from
everybody as long as he could. His secret was a shameful one
and he could not bring himself to divulge it. However, wretch as
he was, he was still living under the shield of British law, and I
have no doubt, Inspector, that you will see that, though that
shield may fail to guard, the sword of justice is still there to
avenge."

  Such were the singular circumstances in connection with the
Resident Patient and the Brook Street Doctor. From that night
nothing has been seen of the three murderers by the police, and it
is surmised at Scotland Yard that they were among the passen-
gers of the ill-fated steamer Norah Creina, which was lost some
years ago with all hands upon the Portuguese coast, some leagues
to the north of Oporto. The proceedings against the page broke
down for want of evidence, and the Brook Street Mystery, as it
was called, has never until now been fully dealt with in any
public print.

                   The Greek Interpreter

  During my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Sherlock
Holmes I had never heard him refer to his re}ations, and hardly
ever to his own early life. This reticence upon his part had
increased the somewhat inhuman effect which he produced upon
me, until sometimes I found myself regarding him as an isolated
phenomenon, a brain without a heart, as deficient in human
sympathy as he was preeminent in intelligence. His aversion to
women and his disinclination to form new friendships were both
typical of his unemotional character, but not more so than his
complete suppression of every reference to his own people. I had
come to believe that he was an orphan with no relatives living;
but one day. to my very great surprise, he began to talk to me
about his brother.

  It was after tea on a summer evening, and the conversation,
which had roamed in a desultory, spasmodic fashion from golf
clubs to the causes of the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic,
came round at last to the question of atavism and hereditary
aptitudes. The point under discussion was, how far any singular
gift in an individual was due to his ancestry and how far to his
own early training.

  "In your own case," said I, "from all that you have told me,
it seems obvious that your faculty of observation and your
peculiar facility for deduction are due to your own systematic
training."

  "To some extent," he answered thoughtfully. "My ancestors
were country squires, who appear to have led much the same life
as is natural to their class. But, none the less, my turn that way
is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who
was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is
liable to take the strangest forms."

  "But how do you know that it is hereditary?"

  "Because my brother Mycroft possesses it in a larger degree
than I do."

  This was news to me indeed. If there were another man with
such singular powers in England, how was it that neither police
nor public had heard of him? I put the question, with a hint that
it was my companion's modesty which made him acknowledge
his brother as his superior. Holmes laughed at my suggestion.

  "My dear Watson," said he, "I cannot agree with those who
rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things
should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one's
self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one's own
powers. When I say, therefore, that Mycroft has better powers of
observation than I, you may take it that I am speaking the exact
and literal truth."

  "Is he your junior?"

  "Seven years my senior."

  "How comes it that he is unknown?''

  "Oh, he is very well known in his own circle."

  "Where, then?"

  "Well, in the Diogenes Club, for example."

  I had never heard of the institution, and my face must have
proclaimed as much, for Sherlock Homes pulled out his watch.

  "The Diogenes Club is the queerest club in London, and
Mycroft one of the queerest men. He's always there from quarter
to five to twenty to eight. It's six now, so if you care for a stroll
this beautiful evening I shall be very happy to introduce you to
two curiosities."

  Five minutes later we were in the street, walking towards
Regent's Circus.

  "You wonder," said my companion, "why it is that Mycroft
does not use his powers for detective work. He is incapable of
it."

  "But I thought you said --"

  "I said that he was my superior in observation and deduction.
If the art of the detective began and ended in reasoning from an
armchair, my brother would be the greatest criminal agent that
ever lived. But he has no ambition and no energy. He will not
even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would
rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself
right. Again and again I have taken a problem to him, and have
received an explanation which has afterwards proved to be the
correct one. And yet he was absolutely incapable of working out
the practical points which must be gone into before a case could
be laid before a judge or jury."

  "It is not his profession, then?"

  "By no means. What is to me a means of livelihood is to him
the merest hobby of a dilettante. He has an extraordinary faculty
for figures, and audits the books in some of the government
departments. Mycroft lodges in Pall Mall, and he walks round
the corner into Whitehall every morning and back every evening.
From year's end to year's end he takes no other exercise, and is
seen nowhere else, except only in the Diogenes Club, which is
just opposite his rooms."

  "I cannot recall the name."

  "Very likely not. There are many men in London, you know,
who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish
for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to
comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the conve-
nience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now
contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No
member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one.
Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circum-
stances, allowed. and three offences, if brought to the notice of
the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother
was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very
soothing atmosphere."

  We had reached Pall Mall as we talked, and were walking
down it from the St. James's end. Sherlock Holmes stopped at a
door some little distance from the Carlton, and, cautioning me
not to speak, he led the way into the hall. Through the glass
panelling I caught a glimpse of a large and luxurious room, in
which a considerable number of men were sitting about and
reading papers, each in his own little nook. Holmes showed me
into a small chamber which looked out into Pall Mall, and then,
leaving me for a minute, he came back with a companion whom
I knew could only be his brother.

  Mycroft Holmes was a much larger and stouter man than Sher-
lock. His body was absolutely corpulent, but his face, though
massive, had preserved something of the sharpness of expression
which was so remarkable in that of his brother. His eyes, which
were of a peculiarly light, watery gray, seemed to always retain
that far-away, introspective look which I had only observed in
Sherlock's when he was exerting his full powers.

  "I am glad to meet you, sir," said he, putting out a broad, fat
hand like the flipper of a seal. "I hear of Sherlock everywhere
since you became his chronicler. By the way, Sherlock, I ex-
pected to see you round last week to consult me over that Manor
House case. I thought you might be a little out of your depth."

  "No, I solved it," said my friend, smiling.

  "It was Adams, of course."

  "Yes, it was Adams."

  "I was sure of it from the first." The two sat down together in
the bow-window of the club. "To anyone who wishes to study
mankind this is the spot," said Mycroft. "Look at the magnifi-
cent types! Look at these two men who are coming towards us,
for example."

  "The billiard-marker and the other?"

  "Precisely. What do you make of the other?"

  The two men had stopped opposite the window. Some chalk
marks over the waistcoat pocket were the only signs of billiards
which I could see in one of them. The other was a very small,
dark fellow, with his hat pushed back and several packages
under his arm.

  "An old soldier, I perceive," said Sherlock.

  "And very recently discharged," remarked the brother.

  "Served in India, I see."

  "And a non-commissioned officer."

  "Royal Artillery, I fancy,'' said Sherlock.

  "And a widower."

  "But with a child."

  "Children, my dear boy, children."

  "Come," said I. laughing, "this is a little too much."

  "Surely." answered Holmes, "it is not hard to say that a man
with that bearing. expression of authority, and sun-baked skin. is
a soldier, is more than a private, and is not long from India."

  "That he has not left the service long is shown by his still
wearing his ammunition boots, as they are called," observed
Mycroft.

  "He had not the cavalry stride, yet he wore his hat on one
side, as is shown by the lighter skin on that side of his brow. His
weight is against his being a sapper. He is in the artillery."

  "Then, of course, his complete mourning shows that he has
lost someone very dear. The fact that he is doing his own
shopping looks as though it were his wife. He has been buying
things for children, you perceive. There is a rattle, which shows
that one of them is very young. The wife probably died in
childbed. The fact that he has a picture-book under his arm
shows that there is another child to be thought of."

  I began to understand what my friend meant when he said that
his brother possessed even keener faculties than he did himself.
He glanced across at me and smiled. Mycroft took snuff from a
tortoise-shell box and brushed away the wandering grains from
his coat front with a large, red silk handkerchief.

  "By the way, Sherlock," said he, "I have had something
quite after your own heart -- a most singular problem -- submltted
to my judgment. I really had not the energy to follow it up save
in a very incomplete fashion, but it gave me a basis for some
pleasing speculations. If you would care to hear the facts --"

  "My dear Mycroft, I should be delighted."

  The brother scribbled a note upon a leaf of his pocket-book,
and, ringing the bell, he handed it to the waiter.

  "I have asked Mr. Melas to step across," said he. "He lodges
on the floor above me, and I have some slight acquaintance with
him, which led him to come to me in his perplexity. Mr. Melas
is a Greek by extraction, as I understand, and he is a remarkable
linguist. He earns his living partly as interpreter in the law courts
and partly by acting as guide to any wealthy Orientals who may
visit the Northumberland Avenue hotels. I think I will leave him
to tell his very remarkable experience in his own fashion."

  A few minutes later we were joined by a short, stout man
whose olive face and coal black hair proclaimed his Southern
origin, though his speech was that of an educated Englishman.
He shook hands eagerly with Sherlock Holmes, and his dark
eyes sparkled with pleasure when he understood that the special-
ist was anxious to hear his story.

  "I do not believe that the police credit me -- on my word, I do
not," said he in a wailing voice. "Just because they have never
heard of it before, they think that such a thing cannot be. But I
know that I shall never be easy in my mind until I know what
has become of my poor man with the sticking-plaster upon his
face."

  "I am all attention," said Sherlock Holmes.

  "This is Wednesday evening," said Mr. Melas. "Well, then,
it was Monday night -- only two days ago, you understand -- that
all this happened. I am an interpreter, as perhaps my neighbour
there has told you. I interpret all languages -- or nearly all -- but
as I am a Greek by birth and with a Grecian name, it is with that
particular tongue that I am principally associated. For many
years I have been the chief Greek interpreter in London, and my
name is very well known in the hotels.

  "It happens not unfrequently that I am sent for at strange
hours by foreigners who get into difficulties, or by travellers who
arrive late and wish my services. I was not surprised, therefore,
on Monday night when a Mr. Latimer, a very fashionably
dressed young man, came up to my rooms and asked me to
accompany him in a cab which was waiting at the door. A Greek
friend had come to see him upon business, he said, and as he
could speak nothing but his own tongue, the services of an
interpreter were indispensable. He gave me to understand that his
house was some little distance off, in Kensington, and he seemed
to be in a great hurry, bustling me rapidly into the cab when we
had descended to the street.

  "I say into the cab, but I soon became doubtful as to whether
tt was not a carriage in which I found myself. It was certainly
more roomy than the ordinary four-wheeled disgrace to London,
and the fittings, though frayed, were of rich quality. Mr. Latimer
seated himself opposite to me and we started off through Charing
Cross and up the Shaftesbury Avenue. We had come out upon
Oxford Street and I had ventured some remark as to this being a
roundabout way to Kensington, when my words were arrested by
the extraordinary conduct of my companion.

  "He began by drawing a most formidable-looking bludgeon
loaded with lead from his pocket, and switching it backward and
forward several times, as if to test its weight and strength. Then
he placed it without a word upon the seat beside him. Having
done this, he drew up the windows on each side, and I found to
my astonishment that they were covered with paper so as to
prevent my seeing through them.

  " 'I am sorry to cut off your view, Mr. Melas,' said he. 'The
fact is that I have no intention that you should see what the place
is to which we are driving. It might possibly be inconvenient to
me if you could find your way there again.'

  "As you can imagine, I was utterly taken aback by such an
address. My companion was a powerful, broad-shouldered young
fellow, and, apart from the weapon, I should not have had the
slightest chance in a struggle with him.

  " 'This is very extraordinary conduct, Mr. Latimer,' I stam-
mered. 'You must be aware that what you are doing is quite
illegal. '

  " 'It is somewhat of a liberty, no doubt,' said he, 'but we'll
make it up to you. I must warn you, however, Mr. Melas, that if
at any time to-night you attempt to raise an alarm or do anything
which is against my interest, you will find it a very serious thing.
I beg you to remember that no one knows where you are, and
that, whether you are in this carriage or in my house, you are
equally in my power.'

  "His words were quiet, but he had a rasping way of saying
them, which was very menacing. I sat in silence wondering what
on earth could be his reason for kidnapping me in this extraordi-
nary fashion. Whatever it might be, it was perfectly clear that
there was no possible use in my resisting, and that I could only
wait to see what might befall.

  "For nearly two hours we drove without my having the least
clue as to where we were going. Sometimes the rattle of the
stones told of a paved causeway, and at others our smooth, silent
course suggested asphalt; but, save by this variation in sound,
there was nothing at all which could in the remotest way help me
to form a guess as to where we were. The paper over each
window was impenetrable to light, and a blue curtain was drawn
across the glasswork in front. It was a quarter-past seven when
we left Pall Mall, and my watch showed me that it was ten
minutes to nine when we at last came to a standstill. My com-
panion let down the window, and I caught a glimpse of a low,
arched doorway with a lamp burning above it. As I was hurried
from the carriage it swung open, and I found myself inside the
house, with a vague impression of a lawn and trees on each side
of me as I entered. Whether these were private grounds, how-
ever, or bona-fide country was more than I could possibly ven-
ture to say.

  "There was a coloured gas-lamp inside which was turned so
low that I could see little save that the hall was of some size and
hung with pictures. In the dim light I could make out that the
person who had opened the door was a small, mean-looking,
middle-aged man with rounded shoulders. As he turned towards
us the glint of the light showed me that he was wearing glasses.

  " 'Is this Mr. Melas, Harold?' said he.

  " 'Yes.'

  " 'Well done, well done! No ill-will, Mr. Melas, I hope, but
we could not get on without you. If you deal fair with us you'll
not regret it, but if you try any tricks, God help you!' He spoke
in a nervous, jerky fashion, and with little giggling laughs in
between, but somehow he impressed me with fear more than the
other.

  " 'What do you want with me?' I asked.

  " 'Only to ask a few questions of a Greek gentleman who is
visiting us, and to let us have the answers. But say no more than
you are told to say, or --' here came the nervous giggle again --
'you had better never have been born.'

  "As he spoke he opened a door and showed the way into a
room which appeared to be very richly furnished, but again the
only light was afforded by a single lamp half-turned down. The
chamber was certainly large, and the way in which my feet sank
into the carpet as I stepped across it told me of its richness. I
caught glimpses of velvet chairs, a high white marble mantel-
piece, and what seemed to be a suit of Japanese armour at one
side of it. There was a chair just under the lamp, and the elderly
man motioned that I should sit in it. The younger had left us, but
he suddenly returned through another door, leading with him a
gentleman clad in some sort of loose dressing-gown who moved
slowly towards us. As he came into the circle of dim light which
enabled me to see him more clearly I was thrilled with horror at
his appearance. He was deadly pale and terribly emaciated, with
the protruding, brilliant eyes of a man whose spirit was greater
than his strength. But what shocked me more than any signs of
physical weakness was that his face was grotesquely criss-crossed
with sticking-plaster, and that one large pad of it was fastened
over his mouth.

  " 'Have you the slate, Harold?' cried the older man, as this
strange being fell rather than sat down into a chair. 'Are his
hands loose? Now, then, give him the pencil. You are to ask the
questions, Mr. Melas, and he will write the answers. Ask him
first of all whether he is prepared to sign the papers?"

  "The man's eyes flashed fire.

  " 'Never!' he wrote in Greek upon the slate.

  " 'On no conditions?' I asked at the bidding of our tyrant.

  " 'Only if I see her married in my presence by a Greek priest
whom I know.'

  "The man giggled in his venomous way.

  " 'You know what awaits you, then?'

  " 'I care nothing for myself.'

  "These are samples of the questions and answers which made
up our strange half-spoken, half-written conversation. Again and
again I had to ask him whether he would give in and sign the
documents. Again and again I had the same indignant reply. But
soon a happy thought came to me. I took to adding on little
sentences of my own to each question, innocent ones at first, to
test whether either of our companions knew anything of the
matter, and then, as I found that they showed no sign I played a
more dangerous game. Our conversation ran something like this:

  " 'You can do no good by this obstinacy. Who are you?'

  " 'I care not. I am a stranger in London.'

  " 'Your fate will be on your own head. How long have you
been here?'

  " 'Let it be so. Three weeks.'

  " 'The property can never be yours. What ails you?'

  " 'It shall not go to villains. They are starving me.'

  " 'You shall go free if you sign. What house is this?'

  " 'I will never sign. I do not know.'

  " 'You are not doing her any service. What is your name?'

  " 'Let me hear her say so. Kratides.'

  " 'You shall see her if you sign. Where are you from?'

  " 'Then I shall never see her. Athens.'

  "Another five minutes, Mr. Holmes, and I should have wormed
out the whole story under their very noses. My very next ques-
tion might have cleared the matter up, but at that instant the door
opened and a woman stepped into the room. I could not see her
clearly enough to know more than that she was tall and graceful,
with black hair, and clad in some sort of loose white gown.

  " 'Harold,' said she, speaking English with a broken accent.
'I could not stay away longer. It is so lonely up there with
only -- Oh, my God, it is Paul!'

  "These last words were in Greek, and at the same instant the
man with a convulsive effort tore the plaster from his lips, and
screaming out 'Sophy! Sophy!' rushed into the woman's arms.
Their embrace was but for an instant, however, for the younger
man seized the woman and pushed her out of the room, while the
elder easily overpowered his emaciated victim and dragged him
away through the other door. For a moment I was left alone in
the room, and I sprang to my feet with some vague idea that I
might in some way get a clue to what this house was in which I
found myself. Fortunately, however, I took no steps, for looking
up I saw that the older man was standing in the doorway, with
his eyes fixed upon me.

  " 'That will do, Mr. Melas,' said he. 'You perceive that we
have taken you into our confidence over some very private
business. We should not have troubled you, only that our friend
who speaks Greek and who began these negotiations has been
forced to return to the East. It was quite necessary for us to find
someone to take his place, and we were fortunate in hearing of
your powers.'

  "I bowed.

  " 'There are five sovereigns here,' said he, walking up to me,
'which will, I hope, be a sufficient fee. But remember,' he
added, tapping me lightly on the chest and giggling, 'if you
speak to a human soul about this -- one human soul, mind -- well,
may God have mercy upon your soul!'

  "I cannot tell you the loathing and horror with which this
insignificant-looking man inspired me. I could see him better
now as the lamp-light shone upon him. His features were peaky
and sallow, and his little pointed beard was thready and ill-
nourished. He pushed his face forward as he spoke and his lips
and eyelids were continually twitching like a man with St.
Vitus's dance. I could not help thinking that his strange, catchy
little laugh was also a symptom of some nervous malady. The
terror of his face lay in his eyes, however, steel gray, and
glistening coldly with a malignant, inexorable cruelty in their
depths.

  " 'We shall know if you speak of this,' said he. 'We have our
own means of information. Now you will find the carriage
waiting, and my friend will see you on your way.'

  "I was hurried through the hall and into the vehicle, again
obtaining that momentary glimpse of trees and a garden. Mr.
Latimer followed closely at my heels and took his place opposite
to me without a word. In silence we again drove for an intermi-
nable distance with the windows raised, until at last, just after
midnight, the carriage pulled up.

  " 'You will get down here, Mr. Melas,' said my companion.
'I am sorry to leave you so far from your house, but there is no
alternative. Any attempt upon your part to follow the carriage
can only end in injury to yourself.'

  "He opened the door as he spoke. and I had hardly time to
spring out when the coachman lashed the horse and the carriage
rattled away. I looked around me in astonishment. I was on some
sort of a heathy common mottled over with dark clumps of
furze-bushes. Far away stretched a line of houses, with a light
here and there in the upper windows. On the other side I saw the
red signal-lamps of a railway.

  "The carriage which had brought me was already out of sight.
I stood gazing round and wondering where on earth I might be,
when I saw someone coming towards me in the darkness. As he
came up to me I made out that he was a railway porter.

  " 'Can you tell me what place this is?' I asked.

  " 'Wandsworth Common,' said he.

  " 'Can I get a train into town?'

  " 'If you walk on a mile or so to Clapham Junction,' said he,
'you'll just be in time for the last to Victoria.'

  "So that was the end of my adventure, Mr. Holmes. I do not
know where I was, nor whom I spoke with, nor anything save
what I have told you. But I know that there is foul play going
on, and I want to help that unhappy man if I can. I told the
whole story to Mr. Mycroft Holmes next morning, and subse-
quently to the police."

  We all sat in silence for some little time after listening to this
extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock looked across at his brother.

  "Any steps?" he asked.

  Mycroft picked up the Daily News, which was lying on the
side-table.

       "Anybody supplying any information as to the where-

     abouts of a Greek gentleman named Paul Kratides, from

     Athens, who is unable to speak English, will be rewarded.

     A similar reward paid to anyone giving information about a

     Greek lady whose first name is Sophy. X 2473.

  "That was in all the dailies. No answer."

  "How about the Greek legation?"

  "I have inquired. They know nothing."

  "A wire to the head of the Athens police, then?"

  "Sherlock has all the energy of the family," said Mycroft,
turning to me. "Well, you take the case up by all means and let
me know if you do any good."

  "Certainly," answered my friend, rising from his chair. "I'll
let you know, and Mr. Melas also. In the meantime, Mr. Melas,
I should certainly be on my guard if I were you, for of course
they must know through these advertisements that you have
betrayed them."

  As we walked home together, Holmes stopped at a telegraph
office and sent off several wires.

  "You see, Watson," he remarked, "our evening has been by
no means wasted. Some of my most interesting cases have come
to me in this way through Mycroft. The problem which we have
just listened to, although it can admit of but one explanation, has
still some distinguishing features."

  "You have hopes of solving it?"

  "Well, knowing as much as we do, it will be singular indeed
if we fail to discover the rest. You must yourself have formed
some theory which will explain the facts to which we have
listened."

  "In a vague way, yes."

  "What was your idea, then?"

  "It seemed to me to be obvious that this Greek girl had been
carried off by the young Englishman named Harold Latimer."

  "Carried off from where?"

  "Athens, perhaps."

  Sherlock Holmes shook his head. "This young man could not
talk a word of Greek. The lady could talk English fairly well.
Inference -- that she had been in England some little time, but he
had not been in Greece."

  "Well, then, we will presume that she had once come on a
visit to England, and that this Harold had persuaded her to fly
with him."

  "That is more probable."

  "Then the brother -- for that, I fancy, must be the relationship --
comes over from Greece to interfere. He imprudently puts him-
self into the power of the young man and his older associate.
They seize him and use violence towards him in order to make
him sign some papers to make over the girl's fortune of which
he may be trustee -- to them. This he refuses to do. In order to
negotiate with him they have to get an interpreter, and they pitch
upon this Mr. Melas, having used some other one before. The
girl is not told of the arrival of her brother and finds it out by the
merest accident."

  "Excellent, Watson!" cried Holmes. "I really fancy that you
are not far from the truth. You see that we hold all the cards, and
we have only to fear some sudden act of violence on their part. If
they give us time we must have them."

  "But how can we find where this house lies?"

  "Well, if our conjecture is correct and the girl's name is or
was Sophy Kratides, we should have no difficulty in tracing her.
That must be our main hope, for the brother is, of coursc, a
complete stranger. It is clear that some time has elapsed since
this Harold established these relations with the girl -- some weeks
at any rate -- since the brother in Greece has had time to hear of it
and come across. If they have been living in the same place
during this time, it is probable that we shall have some answer to
Mycroft's advertisement."

  We had reached our house in Baker Street while we had been
talking. Holmes ascended the stair first, and as he opened the
door of our room he gave a start of surprise. Looking over his
shoulder, I was equally astonished. His brother Mycroft was
sitting smoking in the armchair.

  "Come in, Sherlock! Come in, sir," said he blandly, smiling
at our surprised faces. "You don't expect such energy from me
do you, Sherlock? But somehow this case attracts me."

  "How did you get here?"

  "I passed you in a hansom."

  "There has been some new development?"

  "I had an answer to my advertisement."

  "Ah!"

  "Yes, it came within a few minutes of your leaving."

  "And to what effect?"

  Mycroft Holmes took out a sheet of paper.

  "Here it is," said he, "written with a J pen on royal cream
paper by a middle-aged man with a weak constitution.

     "Sir [he saysl:

       "In answer to your advertisement of to-day's date, I beg

    to inform you that I know the young lady in question very

    well. If you should care to call upon me I could give you

    some particulars as to her painful history. She is living at

    present at The Myrtles, Beckenham.

                                               "Yours faithfully,

                                                   "J. DAVENPORT.

  "He writes from Lower Brixton," said Mycroft Holmes. "Do
you not think that we might drive to him now, Sherlock, and
learn these particulars?"

  "My dear Mycroft, the brother's life is more valuable than the
sister's story. I think we should call at Scotland Yard for Inspec-
tor Gregson and go straight out to Beckenham. We know that a
man is being done to death, and every hour may be vital."

  "Better pick up Mr. Melas on our way," I suggested. "We
may need an interpreter."

  "Excellent," said Sherlock Holmes. "Send the boy for a
four-wheeler, and we shall be off at once." He opened the
table-drawer as he spoke, and I noticed that he slipped his
revolver into his pocket. "Yes," said he in answer to my glance,
"I should say, from what we have heard, that we are dealing
with a particularly dangerous gang."

  It was almost dark before we found ourselves in Pall Mall, at
the rooms of Mr. Melas. A gentleman had just called for him,
and he was gone.

  "Can you tell me where?" asked Mycroft Holmes.

  "I don't know, sir," answered the woman who had opened
the door; "I only know that he drove away with the gentleman in
a carriage."

  "Did the gentleman give a name?"

  "No, sir."

  "He wasn't a tall, handsome, dark young man?"

  "Oh, no, sir. He was a little gentleman, with glasses, thin in
the face, but very pleasant in his ways, for he was laughing all
the time that he was talking."

  "Come along!" cried Sherlock Holmes abruptly. "This grows
serious," he observed as we drove to Scotland Yard. "These
men have got hold of Melas again. He is a man of no physical
courage, as they are well aware from their experience the other
night.This villain was able to terrorize him the instant that he
got into his presence. No doubt they want his professional
services, but, having used him, they may be inclined to punish
him for what they will regard as his treachery."

  Our hope was that, by taking train, we might get to Beckenham
as soon as or sooner than the carriage. On reaching Scotland
Yard, however, it was more than an hour before we could get
Inspector Gregson and comply with the legal formalities which
would enable us to enter the house. It was a quarter to ten before
we reached London Bridge, and half past before the four of us
alighted on the Beckenham platform. A drive of half a mile
brought us to The Myrtles -- a large, dark house standing back
from the road in its own grounds. Here we dismissed our cab and
made our way up the drive togeter.

  "The windows are all dark," remarked the inspector. "The
house seems deserted."

  "Our birds are flown and the nest empty," said Holmes.

  "Why do you say so?"

  "A carriage heavily loaded with luggage has passed out dur-
ing the last hour."

  The inspector laughed. "I saw the wheel-tracks in the light of
the gate-lamp, but where does the luggage come in?"

  "You may have observed the same wheel-tracks going the
other way. But the outward-bound ones were very much
deeper -- so much so that we can say for a certainty that there
was a very considerable weiyht on the carriage."

  "You get a trifle beyond me there," said the inspector, shrug-
ging his shoulders. "It will not be an easy door to force, but we
will try if we cannot make someone hear us."

  He hammered loudly at the knocker and pulled at the bell, but
without any success. Holmes had slipped away, but he came
back in a few minutes.

  "I have a window open," said he.

  "It is a mercy that you are on the side of the force, and not
against it, Mr. Holmes," remarked the inspector as he noted the
clever way in which my friend had forced back the catch.
"Well, I think that under the circumstances we may enter with-
out an invitation."

  One after the other we made our way into a large apartment,
which was evidently that in which Mr. Melas had found himself.
The inspector had lit his lantern, and by its light we could see the
two doors, the curtain, the lamp, and the suit of Japanese mail as
he had described them. On the table lay two glasses, an empty
brandy-bottle, and the remains of a meal.

  "What is that?" asked Holmes suddenly.

  We all stood still and listened. A low moaning sound was
coming from somewhere over our heads. Holmes rushed to the
door and out into the hall. The dismal noise came from upstairs.
He dashed up, the inspector and I at his heels. while his brother
Mycroft followed as quickly as his great bulk would permit.

  Three doors faced us upon the second floor, and it was from
the central of these that the sinister sounds were issuing, sinking
sometimes into a dull mumble and rising again into a shrill
whine. It was locked, but the key had been left on the outside.
Holmes flung open the door and rushed in, but he was out again
in an instant, with his hand to his throat.

  "It's charcoal," he cried. "Give it time. It will clear."

  Peering in, we could see that the only light in the room came
from a dull blue flame which flickered from a small brass tripod
in the centre. It threw a livid unnatural circle upon the floor,
while in the shadows beyond we saw the vague loom of two
fiyures which crouched against the wall. From thc open door
there reeked a horrible poisonous exhalation which set us gasp-
ing and coughing. Holmes rushed to the top of the stairs to draw
in the fresh air, and then, dashing into the room, he threw up the
window and hurled the brazen tripod out into the garden.

  "We can enter in a minute," he gasped, darting out again.
"Where is a candle? I doubt if we could strike a match in that
atmosphere. Hold the light at the door and we shall get them out,
Mycroft, now!"

  With a rush we got to the poisoned men and dragged them out
into the well-lit hall. Both of them were blue-lipped and insensi-
ble, with swollen, congested faces and protruding eyes. Indeed,
so distorted were their features that, save for his black beard and
stout figure, we might have failed to recognize in one of them
the Greek interpreter who had parted from us only a few hours
before at the Diogenes Club. His hands and feet were securely
strapped together, and he bore over one eye the marks of a
violent blow. The other, who was secured in a similar fashion
was a tall man in the last stage of emaciation, with several strips
of sticking-plaster arranged in a grotesque pattern over his face.
He had ceased to moan as we laid him down, and a glance
showed me that for him at least our aid had come too late. Mr.
Melas, however, still lived, and in less than an hour, with the
aid of ammonia and brandy, I had the satisfaction of seeing him
open his eyes, and of knowing that my hand had drawn him back
from that dark valley in which all paths meet.

  It was a simple story which he had to tell, and one which did
but confirm our own deductions. His visitor, on entering his
rooms, had drawn a life-preserver from his sleeve, and had so
impressed him with the fear of instant and inevitable death that
he had kidnapped him for the second time. Indeed, it was almost
mesmeric, the effect which this giggling ruffian had produced
upon the unfortunate linguist, for he could not speak of him save
with trembling hands and a blanched cheek. He had been taken
swiftly to Beckenham, and had acted as interpreter in a second
interview, even more dramatic than the first, in which the two
Englishmen had menaced their prisoner with instant death if he
did not comply with their demands. Finally, finding him proof
against every threat, they had hurled him back into his prison
and after reproaching Melas with his treachery, which appeared
from the newspaper advertisement, they had stunned him with a
blow from a stick, and he remembered nothing more until he
found us bending over him.

  And this was the singular case of the Grecian Interpreter, the
explanation of which is still involved in some mystery. We were
able to find out, by communicating with the gentleman who had
answered the advertisement, that the unfortunate young lady
came of a wealthy Grecian family, and that she had been on a
visit to some friends in England. While there she had met a
young man named Harold Latimer, who had acquired an ascen-
dency over her and had eventually persuaded her to fly with him.
Her friends, shocked at the event, had contented themselves with
informing her brother at Athens, and had then washed their
hands of the matter. The brother, on his arrival in England, had
imprudently placed himself in the power of Latimer and of his
associate, whose name was Wilson Kemp -- a man of the foulest
antecedents. These two, finding that through his ignorance of the
language he was helpless in their hands, had kept him a prisoner,
and had endeavoured by cruelty and starvation to make him sign
away his own and his sister's property. They had kept him in the
house without the girl's knowledge, and the plaster over the
face had been for the purpose of making recognition difficult in
case she should ever catch a glimpse of him. Her feminine
perceptions, however, had instantly seen through the disguise
when, on the occasion of the interpreter's visit, she had seen him
for the first time. The poor girl, however, was herself a prisoner,
for there was no one about the house except the man who acted
as coachman, and his wife, both of whom were tools of the
conspirators. Finding that their secret was out, and that their
prisoner was not to be coerced, the two villains with the girl had
fled away at a few hours' notice from the furnished house which
they had hired, having first, as they thought, taken vengeance
both upon the man who had defied and the one who had betrayed
them.

  Months afterwards a curious newspaper cutting reached us
from Buda-Pesth. It told how two Englishmen who had been
travelling with a woman had met with a tragic end. They had
each been stabbed, it seems, and the Hungarian police were of
opinion that they had quarrelled and had inflicted mortal injuries
upon each other. Holmes, however, is, I fancy, of a different
way of thinking, and he holds to this day that, if one could
find the Grecian girl, one might learn how the wrongs of herself
and her brother came to be avenged.

                 The Naval Treaty

  The July which immediately succeeded my marriage was made
memorable by three cases of interest, in which I had the privi-
lege of being associated with Sherlock Holmes and of studying
his methods. I find them recorded in my notes under the head-
ings of "The Adventure of the Second Stain," "The Adventure
of the Naval Treaty," and "The Adventure of the Tired Cap-
tain." The first of these, however, deals with interests of such
importance and implicates so many of the first families in the
kingdom that for many years it will be impossible to make it
public. No case, however, in which Holmes was engaged has
ever illustrated the value of his analytical methods so clearly or
has impressed those who were associated with him so deeply. I
still retain an almost verbatim report of the interview in which he
demonstrated the true facts of the case to Monsieur Dubugue of
the Paris police, and Fritz von Waldbaum, the well-known spe-
cialist of Dantzig, both of whom had wasted their energies upon
what proved to be side-issues. The new century will have come,
however, before the story can be safely told. Meanwhile I pass
on to the second on my list, which promised also at one time to
be of national importance and was marked by several incidents
which give it a quite unique character.

  During my school-days I had been intimately associated with a
lad named Percy Phelps, who was of much the same age as
myself, though he was two classes ahead of me. He was a very
brilliant boy and carried away every prize which the school had
to offer, finishing his exploits by winning a scholarship which
sent him on to continue his triumphant career at Cambridge. He
was, I remember, extremely well connected, and even when we
were all little boys together we knew that his mother's brother
was Lord Holdhurst, the great conservative politician. This gaudy
relationship did him little good at school. On the contrary, it
seemed rather a piquant thing to us to chevy him about the
playground and hit him over the shins with a wicket. But it was
another thing when he came out into the world. I heard vaguely
that his abilities and the influences which he commanded had won
him a good position at the Foreign Office, and then he passed
completely out of my mind until the following letter recalled his
existence:

                                               Briarbrae, Woking.

      MY DEAR WATSON:

        I have no doubt that you can remember "Tadpole" Phelps,

      who was in the fifth form when you were in the third. It is

      possible even that you may have heard that through my

      uncle's influence I obtained a good appointment at the

      Foreign Office, and that I was in a situation of trust and

      honour until a horrible misfortune came suddenly to blast

      my career.

        There is no use writing the details of that dreadful event.

      In the event of your acceding to my request it is probable

      that I shall have to narrate them to you. I have only just

      recovered from nine weeks of brain-fever and am still

      exceedingly weak. Do you think that you could bring your

      friend Mr. Holmes down to see me? I should like to have

      his opinion of the case, though the authorities assure me

      that nothing more can be done. Do try to bring him down,

      and as soon as possible. Every minute seems an hour while

      I live in this state of horrible suspense. Assure him that if I

      have not asked his advice sooner it was not because I did

      not appreciate his talents, but because I have been off my

      head ever since the blow fell. Now I am clear again, though

      I dare not think of it too much for fear of a relapse. I am

      still so weak that I have to write, as you see, by dictating.

      Do try to bring him.

                                            Your old school-fellow,

                                                      PERCY PHELPS.

  There was something that touched me as I read this-letter,
something pitiable in the reiterated appeals to bring Holmes. So
moved was I that even had it been a difficult matter I should
have tried it, but of course I knew well that Holmes loved his
art, so that he was ever as ready to bring his aid as his client
could be to receive it. My wife agreed with me that not a
moment should be lost in laying the matter before him, and so
within an hour of breakfast-time I found myself back once more
in the old rooms in Baker Street.

  Holmes was seated at his side-table clad in his dressing-gown
and working hard over a chemical investigation. A large curved
retort was boiling furiously in the bluish flame of a Bunsen
burner, and the distilled drops were condensing into a two-litre
measure. My friend hardly glanced up as I entered, and I, seeing
that his investigation must be of importance, seated myself in an
armchair and waited. He dipped into this bottle or that, drawing
out a few drops of each with his glass pipette, and finally
brought a test-tube containing a solution over to the table. In his
right hand he held a slip of litmus-paper.

  "You come at a crisis, Watson," said he. "If this paper
remains blue, all is well. If it turns red, it means a man's life."
He dipped it into the test-tube and it flushed at once into a dull,
dirty crimson. "Hum! I thought as much!" he cried. "I will be
at your service in an instant, Watson. You will find tobacco in
the Persian slipper." He turned to his desk and scribbled off
several telegrams, which were handed over to the page-boy.
Then he threw himself down into the chair opposite and drew up
his knees until his fingers clasped round his long, thin shins.

  "A very commonplace little murder," said he. "You've got
something better, I fancy. You are the stormy petrel of crime,
Watson. What is it?"

  I handed him the letter, which he read with the most concen-
trated attention.

  "It does not tell us very much, does it?" he remarked as he
handed it back to me.

  "Hardly anything."

  "And yet the writing is of interest."

  "But the writing is not his own."

  "Precisely. It is a woman's."

  "A man's surely," I cried.

  "No, a woman's, and a woman of rare character. You see, at
the commencement of an investigation it is something to know
that your client is in close contact with someone who, for good
or evil, has an exceptional nature. My interest is already awak-
ened in the case. If you are ready we will start at once for
Woking and see this diplomatist who is in such evil case and the
lady to whom he dictates his letters."

  We were fortunate enough to catch an early train at Waterloo,
and in a little under an hour we found ourselves among the
fir-woods and the heather of Woking. Briarbrae proved to be a
large detached house standing in extensive grounds within a few
minutes' walk of the station. On sending in our cards we were
shown into an elegantly appointed drawing-room, where we
were joined in a few minutes by a rather stout man who received
us with much hospitality.l His age may have been nearer forty
than thirty. but his cheeks were so ruddy and his eyes so merry
that he still conveyed the impression of a plump and mischievous
boy.

  "I am so glad that yau have come," said he, shaking our
hands with effusion. "Percy has been inquiring for you all
morning. Ah, poor old chap, he clings to any straw! His father
and his mother asked me to see you, for the mere mention of the
subject is very painful to them."

  "We have had no details yet," observed Holmes. "I perceive
that you are not yourself a member of the family."

  Our acquaintance looked surprised, and then, glancing down,
he began to laugh.

  "Of course you saw the J H monogram on my locket," said
he. "For a moment I thought you had done something clever.
Joseph Harrison is my name, and as Percy is to marry my sister
Annie I shall at least be a relation by marriage. You will find my
sister in his room, for she has nursed him hand and foot this two
months back. Perhaps we'd better go in at once, for I know how
impatient he is."

  The chamber into which we were shown was on the same
floor as the drawing-room It was furnished partly as a sitting and
partly as a bedroom, with flowers arranged daintily in every
nook and corner. A young man, very pale and worn, was lying
upon a sofa near the open window, through which came the rich
scent of the garden and the balmy summer air. A woman was
sitting beside him, who rase as we entered.

  "Shall I leave, Percy?" she asked.

  He clutched her hand to detain her. "How are you, Watson?"
said he cordially. "I should never have known you under that
moustache, and I daresay you would not be prepared to swear to
me. This I presume is your celebrated friend, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes?"

  I introduced him in a few words, and we both sat down. The
stout young man had left us, but his sister still remained with her
hand in that of the invalid. She was a striking-looking woman, a
little short and thick for symmetry, but with a beautiful olive
complexion, large, dark, Italian eyes, and a wealth of deep black
hair. Her rich tints made the white face of her companion the
more worn and haggard by the contrast.

  "I won't waste your time," said he, raising himself upon the
sofa. "I'll plunge into the matter without further preamble. I was
a happy and successful man, Mr. Holmes, and on the eve of
being married, when a sudden and dreadful misfortune wrecked
all my prospects in life.

  "I was, as Watson may have told you, in the Foreign Office,
and through the influence of my uncle, Lord Holdhurst, I rose
rapidly to a responsible position. When my uncle became foreign
minister in this administration he gave me several missions of
trust, and as I always brought them to a successful conclusion,
he came at last to have the utmost confidence in my ability and
tact.

  "Nearly ten weeks ago -- to be more accurate, on the twenty-
third of May -- he called me into his private room, and, after
complimenting me on the good work which I had done, he
informed me that he had a new commission of trust for me to
execute.

  " 'This,' said he, taking a gray roll of paper from his bureau,
'is the original of that secret treaty between England and Italy of
which, I regret to say, some rumours have already got into the
public press. It is of enormous importance that nothing further
should leak out. The French or the Russian embassy would pay
an immense sum to learn the contents of these papers. They
should not leave my bureau were it not that it is absolutely
necessary to have them copied. You have a desk in your office?'

  " 'Yes, sir.'

  " 'Then take the treaty and lock it up there. I shall give
directions that you may remain behind when the others go, so
that you may copy it at your leisure without fear of being
overlooked. When you have finished, relock both the original
and the draft in the desk, and hand them over to me personally
to-morrow morning.'

  "I took the papers and --"

  "Excuse me an instant," said Holmes. "Were you alone
during this conversation?"

  "Absolutely."

  "In a large room?"

  "Thirty feet each way."

  "In the centre?"

  "Yes, about it."

  "And speaking low?"

  "My uncle's voice is always remarkably low. I hardly spoke
at all."

  "Thank you," said Holmes, shutting his eyes; "pray go on."

  "I did exactly what he indicated and waited until the other
clerks had departed. One of them in my room, Charles Gorot,
had some arrears of work to make up, so I left him there and
went out to dine. When I returned he was gone. I was anxious to
hurry my work, for I knew that Joseph -- the Mr. Harrison whom
you saw just now -- was in town, and that he would travel down
to Woking by the eleven-o'clock train, and I wanted if possible
to catch it.

  "When I came to examine the treaty I saw at once that it was
of such importance that my uncle had been guilty of no exagger-
ation in what he said. Without going into details, I may say that
it defined the position of Great Britain towards the Triple Alli-
ance, and foreshadowed the policy which this country would
pursue in the event of the French fleet gaining a complete
ascendency over that of Italy in the Mediterranean. The ques-
tions treated in it were purely naval. At the end were the
signatures of the high dignitaries who had signed it. I glanced
my eyes over it, and then settled down to my task of copying.

  "It was a long document, written in the French language, and
containing twenty-six separate articles. I copied as quickly as I
could. but at nine o'clock I had only done nine articles, and it
seemed hopeless for me to attempt to catch my train. I was
feeling drowsy and stupid, partly from my dinner and also from
the effects of a long day's work. A cup of coffee would clear my
brain. A commissionaire remains all night in a little lodge at the
foot of the stairs and is in the habit of making coffee at his
spirit-lamp for any of the officials who may be working over-
time. I rang the bell, therefore, to summon him.

  "To my surprise, it was a woman who answered the sum-
mons, a large, coarse-faced, elderly woman, in an apron. She
explained that she was the commissionaire's wife, who did the
charing, and I gave her the order for the coffee.

  "I wrote two more articles. and then, feeling more drowsy
than ever, I rose and walked up and down the room to stretch my
legs. My coffee had not yet come, and I wondered what the
cause of the delay could be. Opening the door, I started down
the corridor to find out. There was a straight passage, dimly
lighted, which led from the room in which I had been working,
and was the only exit from it. It ended in a curving staircase,
with the commissionaire's lodge in the passage at the bottom.
Halfway down this staircase is a small landing, with another
passage running into it at right angles. This second one leads by
means of a second small stair to a side door, used by servants,
and also as a short cut by clerks when coming from Charles
Street. Here is a rough chart of thc place."

  "Thank you. l think that I quite follow you," said Sherlock
Holmes.

  "It is of the utmost importance that you should notice this
point. I went down the stairs and into the hall, where I found the
commissionaire fast asleep in his box, with the kettle boiling
furiously upon the spirit-lamp. I took off the kettle and blew out
the lamp, for the water was spurting over the floor. Then I put
out my hand and was about to shake the man, who was still
sleeping soundly, when a bell over his head rang loudly, and he
woke with a start.

  " 'Mr. Phelps, sir!' said he, looking at me in bewilderment.

  " 'I came down to see if my coffee was ready.'

  " 'I was boiling the kettle when I fell asleep, sir.' He looked
at me and then up at the still quivering bell with an ever-growing
astonishment upon his face.

  " 'If you was here, sir, then who rang the bell?' he asked.

  " 'The bell!' I cried. 'What bell is it?'

  " 'It's the bell of the room you were working in.'

  "A cold hand seemed to close round my heart. Someone, then,
was in that room where my precious treaty lay upon the table. I
ran frantically up the stair and along the passage. There was no
one in the corridors, Mr. Holmes. There was no one in the room.
All was exactly as I left it, save only that the papers which had
been committed to my care had been taken from the desk on
which they lay. The copy was there, and the original was gone."

  Holmes sat up in his chair and rubbed his hands. I could see
that the problem was entirely to his heart. "Pray what did you do
then?" he murmured.

  "I recognized in an instant that the thief must have come up
the stairs from the side door. Of course I must have met him if
he had come the other way."

  "You were satisfied that he could not have been concealed in
the room all the time, or in the corridor which you have just
described as dimly lighted?"

  It is absolutely impossible. A rat could not conceal himself
either in the room or the corridor. There is no cover at all."

  "Thank you. Pray proceed."

  "The commissionaire, seeing by my pale face that something
was to be feared, had followed me upstairs. Now we both rushed
along the corridor and down the steep steps which led to Charles
Street. The door at the bottom was closed but unlocked. We
flung it open and rushed out. I can distinctly remember that as
we did so there came three chimes from a neighbouring clock. It
was a quarter to ten."

  "That is of enormous importance," said Holmes, making a
note upon his shirtcuff.

  "The night was very dark, and a thin, warm rain was falling.
There was no one in Charles Street, but a great traffic was going
on, as usual, in Whitehall, at the extremity. We rushed along the
pavement, bare-headed as we were, and at the far corner we
found a policeman standing.

  " 'A robbery has been committed,' I gasped. 'A document of
immense value has been stolen from the Foreign Office. Has
anyone passed this way?'

  " 'I have been standing here for a quarter of an hour, sir,' said
he, 'only one person has passed during that time a woman, tall
and elderly, with a Paisley shawl.'

  " 'Ah, that is only my wife,' cried the commissionaire; 'has
no one else passed?'

  " 'No one.'

  " 'Then it must be the other way that the thief took,' cried the
fellow, tugging at my sleeve.

  "But I was not satisfied, and the attempts which he made to
draw me away increased my suspicions.

  " 'Which way did the woman go?' I cried.

  " 'I don't know, sir. I noticed her pass. but I had no special
reason for watching her. She seemed to be in a hurry.'

  " 'How long ago was it?'

  " 'Oh, not very many minutes.'

  " 'Within the last five?'

  " 'Well, it could not be more than five.'

  " 'You're only wasting your time, sir, and every minute now
is of importance,' cried the commissionaire; 'take my word for it
that my old woman has nothing to do with it and come down to
the other end of the street. Well, if you won't, I will.' And with
that he rushed off in the other direction.

  "But I was after him in an instant and caught him by the
sleeve.

  " 'Where do you live?' said I.

  " '16 Ivy Lane, Brixton,' he answered. 'But don't let yourself
be drawn away upon a false scent, Mr. Phelps. Come to the
other end of the street and let us see if we can hear of anything.'

  "Nothing was to be lost by following his advice. With the
policeman we both hurried down, but only to find the street full
of traffic, many people coming and going, but all only too eager
to get to a place of safety upon so wet a night. There was no
lounger who could tell us who had passed.

  "Then we returned to the office and searched the stairs and
the passage without result. The corridor which led to the room
was laid down with a kind of creamy linoleum which shows an
impression very easily. We examined it very carefully, but found
no outline of any footmark."

  "Had it been raining all evening?"

  "Since about seven."

  "How is it, then, that the woman who came into the room
about nine left no traces with her muddy boots?"

  "I am glad you raised the point. It occurred to me at the time.
The charwomen are in the habit of taking off their boots at the
commissionaire's office, and putting on list slippers."

  "That is very clear. There were no marks, then, though the
night was a wet one? The chain of events is certainly one of
extraordinary interest. What did you do next?"

  "We examined the room also. There is no possibility of a
secret door, and the windows are quite thirty feet from the
ground. Both of them were fastened on the inside. The carpet
prevents any possibility of a trapdoor, and the ceiling is of the
ordinary whitewashed kind. I will pledge my life that whoever
stole my papers could only have come through the door."

  "How about the fireplace?"

  "They use none. There is a stove. The bell-rope hangs from
the wire just to the right of my desk. Whoever rang it must have
come right up to the desk to do it. But why should any criminal
wish to ring the bell? It is a most insoluble mystery."

  "Certainly the incident was unusual. What were your next
steps? You examined the room, I presume, to see if the intruder
had left any traces -- any cigar-end or dropped glove or hairpin or
other trifle?"

  "There was nothing of the sort."

  "No smell?"

  "Well, we never thought of that."

  "Ah, a scent of tobacco would have been worth a great deal to
us in such an investigation."

  "I never smoke myself, so I think I should have observed it if
there had been any smell of tobacco. There was absolutely no
clue of any kind. The only tangible fact was that the commis-
sionaire's wife -- Mrs. Tangey was the name -- had hurried out of
the place. He could give no explanation save that it was about the
time when the woman always went home. The policeman and I
agreed that our best plan would be to seize the woman before she
could get rid of the papers, presuming that she had them.

  "The alarm had reached Scotland Yard by this time, and Mr.
Forbes, the detective, came round at once and took up the case
with a great deal of energy. We hired a hansom, and in half an
hour we were at the address which had been given to us. A
young woman opened the door, who proved to be Mrs. Tangey's
eldest daughter. Her mother had not come back yet, and we were
shown into the front room to wait.

  "About ten minutes later a knock came at the door, and here
we made the one serious mistake for which I blame myself.
Instead of opening the door ourselves, we allowed the girl to do
so. We heard her say, 'Mother, there are two men in the house
waiting to see you,' and an instant afterwards we heard the patter
of feet rushing down the passage. Forbes flung open the door,
and we both ran into the back room or kitchen, but the woman
had got there before us. She stared at us with defiant eyes. and
then, suddenly recognizing me, an expression of absolute astonish-
ment came over her face.

  " 'Why, if it isn't Mr. Phelps, of the office!' she cried.

  " 'Come, come, who did you think we were when you ran
away from us?' asked my companion.

  " 'I thought you were the brokers,' said she, 'we have had
some trouble with a tradesman.'

  " 'That's not quite good enough.' answered Forbes. 'We have
reason to believe that you have taken a paper of importance from
the Foreign Office, and that you ran in here to dispose of it. You
must come back with us to Scotland Yard to be searched.'

  "It was in vain that she protested and resisted. A four-wheeler
was brought, and we all three drove back in it. We had first
made an examination of the kitchen, and especially of the kitchen
fire, to see whether she might have made away with the papers
during the instant that she was alone. There were no signs,
however, of any ashes or scraps. When we reached Scotland
Yard she was handed over at once to the female searcher. I
waited in an agony of suspense until she came back with her
report. There were no signs of the papers.

  "Then for the first time the horror of my situation came in its
full force. Hitherto I had been acting, and action had numbed
thought. I had been so confident of regaining the treaty at once
that I had not dared to think of what would be the consequence if
I failed to do so. But now there was nothing more to be done,
and I had leisure to realize my position. It was horrible. Watson
there would tell you that I was a nervous, sensitive boy at
school. It is my nature. I thought of my uncle and of his
colleagues in the Cabinet, of the shame which I had brought
upon him, upon myself, upon everyone connected with me.
What though I was the victim of an extraordinary accident? No
allowance is made for accidents where diplomatic interests are at
stake. I was ruined, shamefully, hopelessly ruined. I don't know
what I did. I fancy I must have made a scene. I have a dim
recollection of a group of officials who crowded round me,
endeavouring to soothe me. One of them drove down with me to
Waterloo, and saw me into the Woking train. I believe that he
would have come all the way had it not been that Dr. Ferrier,
who lives near me, was going down by that very train. The
doctor most kindly took charge of me, and it was well he did so,
for I had a fit in the station, and before we reached home I was
practically a raving maniac.

  "You can imagine the state of things here when they were
roused from their beds by the doctor's ringing and found me in
this condition. Poor Annie here and my mother were broken-
hearted. Dr. Ferrier had just heard enough from the detective at
the station to be able to give an idea of what had happened, and
his story did not mend matters. It was evident to all that I was in
for a long illness, so Joseph was bundled out of this cheery
bedroom, and it was turned into a sickroom for me. Here I have
lain. Mr. Holmes. for over nine weeks, unconscious. and raving
with brain-fever. If it had not been for Miss Harrison here and
for the doctor's care. I should not be speaking to you now. She
has nursed me by day and a hired nurse has looked after me by
night, for in my mad fits I was capable of anything. Slowly my
reason has cleared, but it is only during the last three days that
my memory has quite returned. Sometimes I wish that it never
had. The first thing that I did was to wire to Mr. Forbes, who
had the case in hand. He came out, and assures me that, though
everything has been done, no trace of a clue has been discov-
ered. The commissionaire and his wife have been examined in
every way without any light being thrown upon the matter. The
suspicions of the police then rested upon young Gorot, who, as
you may remember, stayed over-time in the office that night. His
remaining behind and his French name were really the only two
points which could suggest suspicion; but, as a matter of fact, I
did not begin work until he had gone, and his people are of
Huguenot extraction, but as English in sympathy and tradition as
you and I are. Nothing was found to implicate him in any way,
and there the matter dropped. I turn to you, Mr. Holmes, as
absolutely my last hope. If you fail me, then my honour as well
as my position are forever forfeited."

  The invalid sank back upon his cushions, tired out by this long
recital, while his nurse poured him out a glass of some stimulat-
ing medicine. Holmes sat silently, with his head thrown back
and his eyes closed, in an attitude which might seem listless to a
stranger, but which I knew betokened the most intense self-
absorption.

  "Your statement has been so explicit," said he at last, "that
you have really left me very few questions to ask. There is one
of the very utmost importance, however. Did you tell anyone
that you had this special task to perform?"

  "No one."

  "Not Miss Harrison here, for example?"

  "No. I had not been back to Woking between getting the
order and executing the commission."

  "And none of your people had by chance been to see you?"

  "None."

  "Did any of them know their way about in the office?"

  "Oh, yes, all of them had been shown over it."

  "Still, of course, if you said nothing to anyone about the
treaty these inquiries are irrelevant."

  "I said nothing."

  "Do you know anything of the commissionaire?"

  "Nothing cxcept that he is an old soldier."

  "What regiment?"

  "Oh, I have heard -- Goldstream Guards."

  "Thank you. I have no doubt I can get details from Forbes.
The authorities are excellent at amassing facts, though they do
not always use them to advantage. What a lovely thing a rose
is!"

  He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the
drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend
of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me,
for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural
objects.

  "There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in
religion," said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. "It
can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest
assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in
the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food,
are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But
this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellish-
ment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which
gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from
the flowers."

  Percy Phelps and his nurse looked at Holmes during this
demonstration with surprise and a good deal of disappointment
written upon their faces. He had fallen into a reverie, with the
moss-rose between his fingers. It had lasted some minutes before
the young lady broke in upon it.

  "Do you see any prospect of solving this mystery, Mr.
Holmes?" she asked with a touch of asperity in her voice.

  "Oh, the mystery!" he answered, coming back with a start to
the realities of life. "Well, it would be absurd to deny that the
case is a very abstruse and complicated one, but I can promise
you that I will look into the matter and let you know any points
which may strike me."

  "Do you see any clue?"

  "You have furnished me with seven, but of course I must test
them before I can pronounce upon their value."

  "You suspect someone?"

  "I suspect myself."

  "What!"

  "Of coming to conclusions too rapidly."

  "Then go to London and test your conclusions."

  "Your advice is very excellent. Miss Harrison." said Holmcs
rising. "I think, Watson, we cannot do better. Do not allow
yourself to indulge in false hopes, Mr. Phelps. The affair is a
very tangled one."

  "I shall be in a fever until I see you again," cried the
diplomatist .

  "Well, I'll come out by the same train to-morrow, though it's
more than likely that my report will be a negative one."

  "God bless you for promising to come," cried our client. "It
gives me fresh life to know that something is being done. By the
way, I have had a letter from Lord Holdhurst."

  "Ha! what did he say?"

  "He was cold, but not harsh, I dare say my severe illness
prevented him from being that. He repeated that the matter was
of the utmost importance, and added that no steps would be
taken about my future -- by which he means, of course, my
dismissal -- until my health was restored and I had an opportunity
of repairing my misfortune."

  "Well, that was reasonable and considerate," said Holmes.
"Come, Watson, for we have a good day's work before us in
town."

  Mr. Joseph Harrison drove us down to the station, and we
were soon whirling up in a Portsmouth train. Holmes was sunk
in profound thought and hardly opened his mouth until we had
passed Clapham Junction.

  "It's a very cheery thing to come into London by any of these
lines which run high and allow you to look down upon the
houses like this."

  I thought he was joking, for the view was sordid enough, but
he soon explained himself.

  "Look at those big, isolated clumps of buildings rising up
above the slates, like brick islands in a lead-coloured sea."

  "The board-schools."

  "Light-houses, my boy! Beacons of the future! Capsules with
hundreds of bright little seeds in each. out of which will spring
the wiser, better England of the future. I suppose that man
Phelps does not drink?"

  "I should not think so."

  "Nor should I, but we are bound to take every possibility into
account. The poor devil has certainly got himself into very deep
water, and it's a question whether we shall ever be able to get
him ashore. What do you think of Miss Harrison?"

  "A girl of strong character."

  "Yes. but she is a good sort, or I am mistaken. She and her
brother are the only children of an iron-master somewhere up
Northumberland way. He got engaged to her when travelling last
winter, and she came down to be introduced to his people, with
her brother as escort. Then came the smash, and she stayed on to
nurse her lover, while brother Joseph, finding himself pretty
snug, stayed on, too. I've been making a few independent
inquiries, you see. But to-day must be a day of inquiries."

  "My practice --" I began.

  "Oh, if you find your own cases more interesting than
mine --" said Holmes with some asperity.

  "I was going to say that my practice could get along very well
for a day or two, since it is the slackest time in the year."

  "Excellent," said he, recovering his good-humour. "Then
we'll look into this matter together. I think that we should begin
by seeing Forbes. He can probably tell us all the details we want
until we know from what side the case is to be approached."

  "You said you had a clue?"

  "Well, we have several, but we can only test their value by
further inquiry. The most difficult crime to track is the one
which is purposeless. Now this is not purposeless. Who is it who
profits by it? There is the French ambassador, there is the
Russian, there is whoever might sell it to either of these, and
there is Lord Holdhurst."

  "Lord Holdhurst!"

  "Well, it is just conceivable that a statesman might find
himself in a position where he was not sorry to have such a
document accidentally destroyed."

  "Not a statesman with the honourable record of Lord Hold-
hurst?"

  "It is a possibility and we cannot afford to disregard it. We
shall see the noble lord to-day and find out if he can tell us
anything. Meanwhile I have already set inquiries on foot."

  "Already?"

  "Yes, I sent wires from Woking station to every evening
paper in London. This advertisement will appear in each of
them."

  He handed over a sheet torn from a notebook. On it was
scribbled in pencil:

     10 pounds reward. The number of the cab which dropped a fare

   at or about the door of the Foreign Office in Charles Street

   at quarter to ten in the evening of May 23d. Apply 22lB,

   Baker Street.

  "You are confident that the thief came in a cab?"

  "If not, there is no harm done. But if Mr. Phelps is correct in
stating that there is no hiding-place either in the room or the
corridors, then the person must have come from outside. If he
came from outside on so wet a night, and yet left no trace of
damp upon the linoleum, which was examined within a few
minutes of his passing, then it is exceedingly probable that he
came in a cab. Yes, I think that we may safely deduce a cab."

  "It sounds plausible."

  "That is one of the clues of which I spoke. It may lead us to
something. And then, of course, there is the bell -- which is the
most distinctive feature of the case. Why should the bell ring?
Was it the thief who did it out of bravado? Or was it someone
who was with the thief who did it in order to prevent the crime?
Or was it an accident? Or was it --?" He sank back into the state
of intense and silent thought from which he had emerged; but it
seemed to me, accustomed as I was to his every mood, that some
new possibility had dawned suddenly upon him.

  It was twenty past three when we reached our terminus, and after
a hasty luncheon at the buffet we pushed on at once to Scotland
Yard. Holmes had already wired to Forbes, and we found him
waiting to receive us -- a small, foxy man with a sharp but by no
means amiable expression. He was decidedly frigid in his man-
ner to us, especially when he heard the errand upon which we
had come.

  "I've heard of your methods before now, Mr. Holmes," said
he tartly. "You are ready enough to use all the information that
the police can lay at your disposal, and then you try to finish the
case yourself and bring discredit on them."

  "On the contrary," said Holmes, "out of my last fifty-three
cases my name has only appeared in four, and the police have
had all the credit in forty-nine. I don't blame you for not
knowing this, for you are young and inexperienced, but if you
wish to get on in your new duties you will work with me and not
against me."

  "I'd be very glad of a hint or two," said the detective,
changing his manner. "I've certainly had no credit from the case
so far."

  "What steps have you taken?"

  "Tangey, the commissionaire, has been shadowed. He left the
Guards with a good character, and we can find nothing against
him. His wife is a bad lot, though. I fancy she knows more about
this than appears."

  "Have you shadowed her?"

  "We have set one of our women on to her. Mrs. Tangey
drinks. and our woman has been with her twice when she was
well on, but she could get nothing out of her."

  "I understand that they have had brokers in the house?"

  "Yes, but they were paid off."

  "Where did the money come from?"

  "That was all right. His pension was due. They have not
shown any sign of being in funds."

  "What explanation did she give of having answered the bell
when Mr. Phelps rang for the coffee?"

  "She said that her husband was very tired and she wished to
relieve him."

  "Well, certainly that would agree with his being found a little
later asleep in his chair. There is nothing against them then but
the woman's character. Did you ask her why she hurried away
that night? Her haste attracted the attention of the police constable."

  "She was later than usual and wanted to get home."

  "Did you point out to her that you and Mr. Phelps, who
started at least twenty minutes after her, got home before her?"

  "She explains that by the difference between a bus and a
hansom."

  "Did she make it clear why, on reaching her house, she ran
into the back kitchen?"

  "Because she had the money there with which to pay off the
brokers."

  "She has at least an answer for everything. Did you ask her
whether in leaving she met anyone or saw anyone loitering about
Charles Street?"

  "She saw no one but the constable."

  "Well, you seem to have cross-examined her pretty thor-
oughly. What else have you done?"

  "The clerk Gorot has been shadowed all these nine weeks, but
without result. We can show nothing against him."

  "Anything else?"

  "Well, we have nothing else to go upon -- no evidence of any
kind."

  "Have you formed any theory about how that bell rang?"

  "Well, I must confess that it beats me. It was a cool hand
whoever it was, to go and give the alarm like that."

  "Yes, it was a queer thing to do. Many thanks to you for what
you have told me. If I can put the man into your hands you shall
hear from me. Come along. Watson."

  "Where are we going to now?" I asked as we left the office.

  "We are now going to interview Lord Holdhurst, the cabinet
minister and future premier of England."

  We were fortunate in finding that Lord Holdhurst was still in
his chambers in Downing Street, and on Holmes sending in his
card we were instantly shown up. The statesman received us
with that old-fashioned courtesy for which he is remarkable and
seated us on the two luxuriant lounges on either side of the
fireplace. Standing on the rug between us, with his slight, tall
figure, his sharp features, thoughtful face, and curling hair
prematurely tinged with gray, he seemed to represent that not
too common type, a nobleman who is in truth noble

  "Your name is very familiar to me, Mr. Holmes," said he,
smiling. "And of course I cannot pretend to be ignorant of the
object of your visit. There has only been one occurrence in these
offices which could call for your attention. In whose interest are
you acting, may I ask?"

  "In that of Mr. Percy Phelps," answered Holmes

  "Ah, my unfortunate nephew! You can understand that our
kinship makes it the more impossible for me to screen him in any
way. I fear that the incident must have a very prejudicial effect
upon his career."

  "But if the document is found?"

  "Ah, that, of course, would be different."

  "I had one or two questions which I wished to ask you, Lord
Holdhurst."

  "I shall be happy to give you any information in my power."

  "Was it in this room that you gave your instructions as to the
copying of the document?"

  "It was."

  "Then you could hardly have been overheard?"

  "It is out of the question."

  "Did you ever mention to anyone that it was your intention to
give anyone the treaty to be copied?"

   "Never."

  "You are certain of that?"

  "Absolutely."

  "Well, since you never said so, and Mr. Phelps never said so,
and nobody else knew anything of the matter, then the thief's
presence in the room was purely accidental. He saw his chance
and he took it."

  The statesman smiled. "You take me out of my province
there," said he.

  Holmes considered for a moment. "There is another very
important point which I wish to discuss with you," said he.
"You feared, as I understand, that very grave results might
follow from the details of this treaty becoming known."

  A shadow passed over the expressive face of the statesman.
"Very grave results indeed."

  "And have they occurred?"

  "Not yet."

  "If the treaty had reached, let us say, the French or Russian
Foreign Office, you would expect to hear of it?"

  "I should," said Lord Holdhurst with a wry face.

  "Since nearly ten weeks have elapsed, then, and nothing has
been heard, it is not unfair to suppose that for some reason the
treaty has not reached them."

  Lord Holdhurst shrugged his shoulders.

  "We can hardly suppose, Mr. Holmes, that the thief took the
treaty in order to frame it and hang it up."

  "Perhaps he is waiting for a better price."

  "If he waits a little longer he will get no price at all. The
treaty will cease to be secret in a few months."

  "That is most important," said Holmes. "Of course, it is a
possible supposition that the thief has had a sudden illness --"

  "An attack of brain-fever, for example?" asked the states-
man, flashing a swift glance at him.

  "I did not say so," said Holmes imperturbably. "And now
Lord Holdhurst, we have already taken up too much of your
valuable time, and we shall wish you good-day."

  "Every success to your investigation, be the criminal who it
may," answered the nobleman as he bowed us out at the door.

  "He's a fine fellow," said Holmes as we came out into
Whitehall. "But he has a struggle to keep up his position. He is
far from rich and has many calls. You noticed, of course, that
his boots had been resoled. Now, Watson, I won't detain you
from your legitimate work any longer. I shall do nothing more
to-day unless I have an answer to my cab advertisement. But I
should be extremely obliged to you if you would come down
with me to Woking to-morrow by the same train which we took
yesterday."

                           *  *  *

  I met him accordingly next morning and we travelled down to
Woking together. He had had no answer to his advertisement, he
said, and no fresh light had been thrown upon the case. He had,
when he so willed it, the utter immobility of countenance of a
red Indian, and I could not gather from his appearance whether
he was satisfied or not with the position of the case. His conver-
sation, I remember, was about the Bertillon system of measure-
ments, and he expressed his enthusiastic admiration of the French
savant.

  We found our client still under the charge of his devoted
nurse, but looking considerably better than before. He rose from
the sofa and greeted us without difficulty when we entered.

  "Any news?" he asked eagerly.

  "My report, as I expected, is a negative one," said Holmes.
"I have seen Forbes, and I have seen your uncle, and I have set
one or two trains of inquiry upon foot which may lead to
something."

  "You have not lost heart, then?"

  "By no means."

  "God bless you for saying that!" cried Miss Harrison. "If we
keep our courage and our patience the truth must come out."

  "We have more to tell you than you have for us," said
Phelps, reseating himself upon the couch.

  "I hoped you might have something."

  "Yes, we have had an adventure during the night, and one
which might have proved to be a serious one." His expression
grew very grave as he spoke, and a look of something akin to
fear sprang up in his eyes. "Do you know," said he, "that I
begin to believe that I am the unconscious centre of some
monstrous conspiracy, and that my life is aimed at as well as my
honour?"

  "Ah!" cried Holmes.

  "It sounds incredible, for I have not, as far as I know, an
enemy in the world. Yet from last night's experience I can come
to no other conclusion."

  "Pray let me hear it."

  "You must know that last night was the very first night that I
have ever slept without a nurse in the room. I was so much better
that I thought I could dispense with one. I had a night-light
burning, however. Well, about two in the morning I had sunk
into a light sleep when I was suddenly aroused by a slight noise.
It was like the sound which a mouse makes when it is gnawing a
plank, and I lay listening to it for some time under the impres-
sion that it must come from that cause. Then it grew louder, and
suddenly there came from the window a sharp metallic snick. I
sat up in amazement. There could be no doubt what the sounds
were now. The first ones had been caused by someone forcing an
instrument through the slit between the sashes and the second by
the catch being pressed back.         

  "There was a pause then for about ten minutes, as if the
person were waiting to see whether the noise had awakened me.
Then I heard a gentle creaking as the window was very slowly
opened. I could stand it no longer, for my nerves are not what
they used to be. I sprang out of bed and flung open the shutters.
A man was crouching at the window. I could see llttle of him,
for he was gone like a flash. He was wrapped in some sort of
cloak which came across the lower part of his face. One thing
only I am sure of, and that is that he had some weapon in his
hand. It looked to me like a long knife. I distinctly saw the
gleam of it as he turned to run."

  "This is most interesting," said Holmes. "Pray what did you
do then?"

  "I should have followed him through the open window if I
had been stronger. As it was, I rang the bell and roused the
house. It took some little time, for the bell rings in the kitchen
and the servants all sleep upstairs. I shouted, however, and that
brought Joseph down, and he roused the others. Joseph and the
groom found marks on the bed outside the window, but the
weather has been so dry lately that they found it hopeless to
follow the trail across the grass. There's a place, however, on
the wooden fence which skirts the road which shows signs, they
tell me, as if someone had got over, and had snapped the top of
the rail in doing so. I have said nothing to the local police yet,
for I thought I had best have your opinion first."

  This tale of our client's appeared to have an extraordinary
effect upon Sherlock Holmes. He rose from his chair and paced
about the room in uncontrollable excitement.

  "Misfortunes never come single," said Phelps, smiling, though
it was evident that his adventure had somewhat shaken him.

  "You have certainly had your share," said Holmes. "Do you
think you could walk round the house with me?"

  "Oh, yes, I should like a little sunshine. Joseph will come,
too."

  "And I also," said Miss Harrison.

  "I am afraid not," said Holmes, shaking his head. "I think I
must ask you to remain sitting exactly where you are."

  The young lady resumed her seat with an air of displeasure.
Her brother, however, had joined us and we set off all four
together. We passed round the lawn to the outside of the young
diplomatist's window. Thcre were, as he had said, marks upon
the bed, but they were hopelessly blurred and vague. Holmes
stooped over them for an instant, and then rose shrugging his
shoulders.

  "I don't think anyone could make much of this," said he.
"Let us go round the house and see why this particular room was
chosen by the burglar. I should have thought those larger win-
dows of the drawing-room and dining-room would have had
more attractions for him."

  "They are more visible from the road," suggested Mr. Joseph
Harrison.

  "Ah, yes, of course. There is a door here which he might
have attempted. What is it for?"

  "It is the side entrance for trades-people. Of course it is
locked at night."

  "Have you ever had an alarm like this before?"

  "Never," said our client.

  "Do you keep plate in the house, or anything to attract
burglars?"

  "Nothing of value."

  Holmes strolled round the house with his hands in his pockets
and a negligent air which was unusual with him.

  "By the way," said he to Joseph Harrison, "you found some
place, I understand, where the fellow scaled the fence. Let us
have a look at that!"

  The plump young man led us to a spot where the top of one of
the wooden rails had been cracked. A small fragment of the
wood was hanging down. Holmes pulled it off and examined it
critically.

  "Do you think that was done last night? It looks rather old,
does it not?"

  "Well, possibly so."

  "There are no marks of anyone jumping down upon the other
side. No, I fancy we shall get no help here. Let us go back to the
bedroom and talk the matter over."

  Percy Phelps was walking very slowly, leaning upon the arm
of his future brother-in-law. Holmes walked swiftly across the
lawn, and we were at the open window of the bedroom long
before the others came up.

  "Miss Harrison," said Holmes, speaking with the utmost
intensity of manner, you must stay where you are all day. Let
nothing prevent you from staying where you are all day. It is of
the utmost importance."

  "Certainly, if you wish it, Mr. Holmes," said the girl in
astonishment .

  "When you go to bed lock the door of this room on the
outside and keep the key. Promise to do this."

  "But Percy?"

  "He will come to London with us."

  "And am I to remain here?"

  "It is for his sake. You can serve him. Quick! Promise!"

  She gave a quick nod of assent just as the other two came up.

  "Why do you sit moping there, Annie?" cried her brother.
"Come out into the sunshine!"

  "No, thank you, Joseph. I have a slight headache and this
room is deliciously cool and soothing."

  "What do you propose now, Mr. Holmes?" asked our client.

  "Well, in investigating this minor affair we must not lose
sight of our main inquiry. It would be a very great help to me if
you would come up to London with us."

  "At once?"

  "Well, as soon as you conveniently can. Say in an hour."

  "I feel quite strong enough, if I can really be of any help."

  "The greatest possible."

  "Perhaps you would like me to stay there to-night?"

  "I was just going to propose it."

  "Then, if my friend of the night comes to revisit me, he will
find the bird flown. We are all in your hands, Mr. Holmes, and
you must tell us exactly what you would like done. Perhaps you
would prefer that Joseph came with us so as to look after me?"

  "Oh, no, my friend Watson is a medical man, you know, and
he'll look after you. We'll have our lunch here, if you will
permit us, and then we shall all three set off for town together."

  It was arranged as he suggested. though Miss Harrison ex-
cused herself from leaving the bedroom, in accordance with
Holmes's suggestion. What the object of my friend's manoeu-
vres was I could not conceive, unless it were to keep the lady
away from Phelps, who, rejoiced by his returning health and by
the prospect of action, lunched with us in the dining-room.
Holmes had a still more startling surprise for us, however, for,
after accompanying us down to the station and seeing us into our
carriage, he calmly announced that he had no intention of leav-
ing Woking.

  "There are one or two small points which I should desire to
clear up before I go," said he. "Your absence, Mr. Phelps, will
in some ways rather assist me. Watson, when you reach London
you would oblige me by driving at once to Baker Street with our
friend here, and remaining with him until I see you again. It is
fortunate that you are old school-fellows, as you must have much
to talk over. Mr. Phelps can have the spare bedroom to-night,
and I will be with you in time for breakfast, for there is a train
which will take me into Waterloo at eight."

  "But how about our investigation in London?" asked Phelps
ruefully.

  "We can do that to-morrow. I think that just at present I can
be of more immediate use here."

  "You might tell them at Briarbrae that I hope to be back
to-morrow night," cried Phelps, as we began to move from the
platform.

  "I hardly expect to go back to Briarbrae," answered Holmes,
and waved his hand to us cheerily as we shot out from the
station.

  Phelps and I talked it over on our journey, but neither of us
could devise a satisfactory reason for this new development.

  "I suppose he wants to find out some clues as to the burglary
last night, if a burglar it was. For myself, I don't believe it was
an ordinary thief."

  "What is your own idea, then?"

  "Upon my word, you may put it down to my weak nerves or
not, but I believe there is some deep political intrigue going on
around me, and that for some reason that passes my understand-
ing my life is aimed at by the conspirators. It sounds high-flown
and absurd, but consider the facts! Why should a thief try to
break in at a bedroom window where there could be no hope of
any plunder, and why should he come with a long knife in his
hand?"

  "You are sure it was not a house-breaker's jimmy?"

  "Oh, no, it was a knife. I saw the flash of the blade quite
distinctly."

  "But why on earth should you be pursued with such animosity?"

  "Ah, that is the question."

  "Well, if Holmes takes the same view, that would account for
his action, would it not? Presuming that your theory is correct, if
he can lay his hands upon the man who threatened you last night
he will have gone a long way towards finding who took the naval
treaty. It is absurd to suppose that you have two enemies, one of
whom robs you, while the other threatens your life."

  "But Holmes said that he was not going to Briarbrae."

  "I have known him for some time," said I, "but I never knew
him do anything yet without a very good reason," and with that
our conversation drifted off on to other topics.

  But it was a weary day for me. Phelps was still weak after his
long illness, and his misfortunes made him querulous and ner-
vous. In vain I endeavoured to interest him in Afghanistan, in
India, in social questions, in anything which might take his mind
out of the groove. He would always come back to his lost treaty,
wondering, guessing, speculating as to what Holmes was doing,
what steps Lord Holdhurst was taking, what news we should
have in the morning. As the evening wore on his excitement
became quite painful.

  "You have implicit faith in Holmes?" he asked.

  "I have seen him do some remarkable things."

  "But he never brought light into anything quite so dark as
this?"

  "Oh, yes, I have known him solve questions which presented
fewer clues than yours."

  "But not where such large interests are at stake?"

  "I don't know that. To my certain knowledge he has acted on
behalf of three of the reigning houses of Europe in very vital
matters."

  "But you know him well, Watson. He is such an inscrutable
fellow that I never quite know what to make of him. Do you
think he is hopeful? Do you think he expects to make a success
of it?"

  "He has said nothing."

  "That is a bad sign."

  "On the contrary. I have noticed that when he is off the trail
he generally says so. It is when he is on a scent and is not quite
absolutely sure yet that it is the right one that he is most taciturn.
Now, my dear fellow, we can't help matters by making our-
selves nervous about them, so let me implore you to go to bed
and so be fresh for whatever may await us to-morrow."

  I was able at last to persuade my companion to take my
advice, though I knew from his excited manner that there was
not much hope of sleep for him. Indeed, his mood was infectious
for I lay tossing half the night myself, brooding over this strange
problem and inventing a hundred theories, each of which was
more impossible than the last. Why had Holmes remained at
Woking? Why had he asked Miss Harrison to remain in the
sick-room all day? Why had he been so careful not to inform the
people at Briarbrae that he intended to remain near them? I
cudgelled my brains until I fell asleep in the endeavour to find
some explanation which would cover all these facts.

  It was seven o'clock when I awoke, and I set off at once for
Phelps's room to find him haggard and spent after a sleepless
night. His first question was whether Holmes had arrived yet.

  "He'll be here when he promised," said I, "and not an
instant sooner or later."

  And my words were true, for shortly after eight a hansom
dashed up to the door and our friend got out of it. Standing in the
window we saw that his left hand was swathed in a bandage and
that his face was very grim and pale. He entered the house, but it
was some little time before he came upstairs.

  "He looks like a beaten man," cried Phelps.

  I was forced to confess that he was right. "After all," said I,
"the clue of the matter lies probably here in town."

  Phelps gave a groan.

  "I don't know how it is," said he, "but I had hoped for so
much from his return. But surely his hand was not tied up like
that yesterday. What can be the matter?"

  "You are not wounded, Holmes?" I asked as my friend
entered the room.

  "Tut, it is only a scratch through my own clumsiness," he
answered, nodding his good-morning to us. "This case of yours,
Mr. Phelps, is certainly one of the darkest which I have ever
investigated."

  "I feared that you would find it beyond you."

  "It has been a most remarkable experience."

  "That bandage tells of adventures," said I. "Won't you tell
us what has happened?"

  "After breakfast, my dear Watson. Remember that I have
breathed thirty miles of Surrey air this morning. I suppose that
there has been no answer from my cabman advertisement? Well,
well, we cannot expect to score every time."

  The table was all laid, and just as I was about to ring Mrs.
Hudson entered with the tea and coffee. A few minutes later she
brought in three covers, and we all drew up to the table, Holmes
ravenous, I curious, and Phelps in the gloomiest state of depression.

  "Mrs. Hudson has risen to the occasion," said Holmes, un-
covering a dish of curried chicken. "Her cuisine is a little
limited, but she has as good an idea of breakfast as a Scotchwoman.
What have you there, Watson?"

  "Ham and eggs," I answered.

  "Good! What are you going to take, Mr. Phelps -- curried
fowl or eggs, or will you help yourself?"

  "Thank you. I can eat nothing," said Phelps.

  "Oh, come! Try the dish before you."

  "Thank you, I would really rather not."

  "Well, then," said Holmes with a mischievous twinkle, "I
suppose that you have no objection to helping me?"

  Phelps raised the cover, and as he did so he uttered a scream
and sat there staring with a face as white as the plate upon which
he looked. Across the centre of it was lying a little cylinder of
blue-gray paper. He caught it up, devoured it with his eyes, and
then danced madly about the room, pressing it to his bosom and
shrieking out in his delight. Then he fell back into an armchair,
so limp and exhausted with his own emotions that we had to
pour brandy down his throat to keep him from fainting.

  "There! there!" said Holmes soothingly, patting him upon the
shoulder. "It was too bad to spring it on you like this, but
Watson here will tell you that I never can resist a touch of the
dramatic."

  Phelps seized his hand and kissed it. "God bless you!" he
cried. "You have saved my honour."

  "Well, my own was at stake, you know," said Holmes. "I
assure you it is just as hateful to me to fail in a case as it can be
to you to blunder over a commission."

  Phelps thrust away the precious document into the innermost
pocket of his coat.

  "I have not the heart to interrupt your breakfast any further,
and yet I am dying to know how you got it and where it was."

  Sherlock Holmes swallowed a cup of coffee and turned his
attention to the ham and eggs. Then he rose, lit his pipe, and
settled himself down into his chair.

  "I'll tell you what I did first, and how I came to do it
afterwards," said he. "After leaving you at the station I went for
a charming walk through some admirable Surrey scenery to a
pretty little village called Ripley, where I had my tea at an inn
and took the precaution of filling my flask and of putting a paper
of sandwiches in my pocket. There I remained until evening,
when I set off for Woking again and found myself in the
highroad outside Briarbrae just after sunset.

  "Well, I waited until thc road was clear -- it is never a very
frequented one at any time, I fancy -- and then I clambered over
the fence into the grounds."

  "Surely the gate was open!" ejaculated Phelps.

  "Yes, but I have a peculiar taste in these matters. I chose the
place where the three fir-trees stand, and behind their screen I
got over without the least chance of anyone in the house being
able to see me. I crouched down among the bushes on the other
side and crawled from one to the other -- witness the disreputable
state of my trouser knees -- until I had reached the clump of
rhododendrons just opposite to your bedroom window. There I
squatted down and awaited developments.

  "The blind was not down in your room, and I could see Miss
Harrison sitting there reading by the table. It was quarter-past ten
when she closed her book, fastened the shutters, and retired.

  "I heard her shut the door and felt quite sure that she had
turned the key in the lock."

  "The key!" ejaculated Phelps.

  "Yes, I had given Miss Harrison instructions to lock the door
on the outside and take the key with her when she went to bed.
She carried out every one of my injunctions to the letter, and
certainly without her cooperation you would not have that paper
in your coat-pocket. She departed then and the lights went out
and I was left squatting in the rhododendron-bush.

  "The night was fine, but still it was a very weary vigil. Of
course it has the sort of excitement about it that the sportsman
feels when he lies beside the watercourse and waits for the big
game. It was very long, though -- almost as long, Watson, as
when you and I waited in that deadly room when we looked
into the little problem of the Speckled Band. There was a
church-clock down at Woking which struck the quarters, and I
thought more than once that it had stopped. At last, however,
about two in the morning, I suddenly heard the gentle sound of a
bolt being pushed back and the creaking of a key. A moment
later the servants door was opened, and Mr. Joseph Harrison
stepped out into the moonlight."

  "Joseph!" ejaculated Phelps.

  "He was bare-headed, but he had a black cloak thrown over
his shoulder, so that he could conceal his face in an instant if
there were any alarm. He walked on tiptoe under the shadow of
the wall, and when he reached the window he worked a long-
bladed knife through the sash and pushed back the catch. Then
he flung open the window, and putting his knife through the
crack in the shutters, he thrust the bar up and swung them open.

  "From where I lay I had a perfect view of the inside of the
room and of every one of his movements. He lit the two candles
which stood upon the mantelpiece, and then he proceeded to turn
back the corner of the carpet in the neighbourhood of the door.
Presently he stooped and picked out a square piece of board,
such as is usually left to enable plumbers to get at the joints of
the gas-pipes. This one covered, as a matter of fact, the T joint
which gives off the pipe which supplies the kitchen underneath.
Out of this hiding-place he drew that little cylinder of paper,
pushed down the board, rearranged the carpet, blew out the
candles, and walked straight into my arms as I stood waiting for
him outside the window.

  "Well, he has rather more viciousness than I gave him credit
for, has Master Joseph. He flew at me with his knife, and I had
to grasp him twice, and got a cut over the knuckles, before I had
the upper hand of him. He looked murder out of the only eye he
could see with when we had finished, but he listened to reason
and gave up the papers. Having got them I let my man go, but I
wired full particulars to Forbes this morning. If he is quick
enough to catch his bird, well and good. But if, as I shrewdly
suspect, he finds the nest empty before he gets there, why, all
the better for the government. I fancy that Lord Holdhurst, for
one, and Mr. Percy Phelps for another, would very much rather
that the affair never got as far as a police-court."

  "My God!" gasped our client. "Do you tell me that during
these long ten weeks of agony the stolen papers were within the
very room with me all the time?"

  "So it was."

  "And Joseph! Joseph a villain and a thief!"

  "Hum! I am afraid Joseph's character is a rather deeper and
more dangerous one than one might judge from his appearance.
From what I have heard from him this morning, I gather that he
has lost heavily in dabbling with stocks, and that he is ready to
do anything on earth to better his fortunes. Being an absolutely
selfish man, when a chance presents itself he did not allow either
his sister's happiness or your reputation to hold his hand."

  Percy Phelps sank back in his chair. "My head whirls," said
he. "Your words have dazed me."

  "The principal difficulty in your case," remarked Holmes in
his didactic fashion, "lay in the fact of there being too much
evidence. What was vital was overlaid and hidden by what was
irrelevant. Of all the facts which were presented to us we had to
pick just those which we deemed to be essential, and then piece
them together in their order, so as to reconstruct this very
remarkable chain of events. I had already begun to suspect
Joseph from the fact that you had intended to travel home with
him that night, and that therefore it was a likely enough thing
that he should call for you, knowing the Foreign Office well,
upon his way. When I heard that someone had been so anxious
to get into the bedroom, in which no one but Joseph could have
concealed anything -- you told us in your narrative how you had
turned Joseph out when you arrived with the doctor -- my suspi-
cions all changed to certainties, especially as the attempt was
made on the first night upon which the nurse was absent, show-
ing that the intruder was well acquainted with the ways of the
house."

  "How blind I have been!"

  "The facts of the case, as far as I have worked them out, are
these: This Joseph Harrison entered the office through the Charles
Street door, and knowing his way he walked straight into your
room the instant after you left it. Finding no one there he
promptly rang the bell, and at the instant that he did so his eyes
caught the paper upon the table. A glance showed him that
chance had put in his way a State document of immense value,
and in an instant he had thrust it into his pocket and was gone. A
few minutes elapsed, as you remember, before the sleepy com-
missionaire drew your attention to the bell, and those were just
enough to give the thief time to make his escape.

  "He made his way to Woking by the first train, and, having
examined his booty and assured himself that it really was of
immense value, he had concealed it in what he thought was a
very safe place, with the intention of taking it out again in a day
or two, and carrying it to the French embassy, or wherever he
thought that a long price was to be had. Then came your sudden
return. He, without a moment's warning, was bundled out of his
room, and from that time onward there were always at least two
of you there to prevent him from regaining his treasure. The
situation to him must have been a maddening one. But at last he
thought he saw his chance. He tried to steal in, but was baffled
by your wakefulness. You may remember that you did not take
your usual draught that night."

  "I remember."

  "I fancy that he had taken steps to make that draught effica-
cious, and that he quite relied upon your being unconscious. Of
course, I understood that he would repeat the attempt whenever
it could be done with safety. Your leaving the room gave him the
chance he wanted. I kept Miss Harrison in it all day so that he
might not anticipate us. Then, having given him the idea that the
coast was clear, I kept guard as I have described. I already knew
that the papers were probably in the room, but I had no desire to
rip up all the planking and skirting in search of them. I let him
take them, therefore, from the hiding-place, and so saved myself
an infinity of trouble. Is there any other point which I can make
clear?"

  "Why did he try the window on the first occasion," I asked,
"when he might have entered by the door?"

  "In reaching the door he would have to pass seven bedrooms.
On the other hand, he could get out on to the lawn, with ease,
Anyt!ling else?"

  "You do not think," asked Phelps, "that he had any murder-
ous intention? The knife was only meant as a tool."

  "li may be so," answered Holmes, shrugging his shoulders.
"I can only say for certain that Mr. Joseph Harrison is a gentle-
man to whose mercy I should be extremely unwilling to trust."

                  The Final Problem

  It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the
last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by
which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished. In an
incoherent and. as I deeply feel, an entirely inadequate fashion, I
have endeavoured to give some account of my strange experiences
in his company from the chance which first brought us together
at the period of the "Study in Scarlet," up to the time of his
interference in the matter of the "Naval Treaty" -- an interfer-
ence which had the unquestionable effect of preventing a serious
international complication. It was my intention to have stopped
there, and to have said nothing of that event which has created a
void in my life which the lapse of two years has done little to
fill. My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in
which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother,
and I have no choice but to lay the facts before the public exactly
as they occurred. I alone know the absolute truth of the matter,
and I am satisfied that the time has come when no good purpose
is to be served by its suppression. As far as I know, there have
been only three accounts in the public press: that in the Journal
de Geneve on May 6th, 1891, the Reuter's dispatch in the
English papers on May 7th, and finally the recent letters to
which I have alluded. Of these the first and second were ex-
tremely condensed, while the last is, as I shall now show, an
absolute perversion of the facts. It lies with me to tell for the first
time what really took place between Professor Moriarty and Mr.
Sherlock Holmes.

  It may be remembered that after my marriage, and my subse-
quent start in private practice, the very intimate relations which
had existed between Holmes and myself became to some extent
modified. He still came to me from time to time when he desired
a companion in his investigations, but these occasions grew more
and more seldom, until I find that in the year 1890 there were
only three cases of which I retain any record. During the winter
of that year and the early spring of 1891, I saw in the papers that
he had been engaged by the French government upon a matter of
supreme importance, and I received two notes from Holmes,
dated from Narbonne and from Nimes, from which I gathered
that his stay in France was likely to be a long one. It was with
some surprise, therefore, that I saw him walk into my consulting-
room upon the evening of April 24th. It struck me that he was
looking even paler and thinner than usual.

  "Yes, I have been using myself up rather too freely," he
remarked, in answer to my look rather than to my words; "I
have been a little pressed of late. Have you any objection to my
closing your shutters?"

  The only light in the room came from the lamp upon the table
at which I had been reading. Holmes edged his way round the
wall, and, flinging the shutters together, he bolted them securely.

  "You are afraid of something?" I asked.

  "Well, I am."

  "Of what?"

  "Of air-guns."

  "My dear Holmes, what do you mean?"

  "I think that you know me well enough. Watson. to under-
stand that I am by no means a nervous man. At the same time, it
is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger
when it is close upon you. Might I trouble you for a match?" He
drew in the smoke of his cigarette as if the soothing influence
was grateful to him.

  "I must apologize for calling so late," said he, "and I must
further beg you to be so unconventional as to allow me to leave
your house presently by scrambling over your back garden wall."

  "But what does it all mean?" I asked.

  He held out his hand, and I saw in the light of the lamp that
two of his knuckles were burst and bleeding.

  "It's not an airy nothing, you see," said he. smiling. "On the
contrary, it is solid enough for a man to break his hand over. Is
Mrs. Watson in?"

  "She is away upon a visit."

  "Indeed! You are alone?"

  "Quite."

  "Then it makes it the easier for me to propose that you should
come away with me for a week to the Continent."

  "Where?"

  "Oh, anywhere. It's all the same to me."

  There was something very strange in all this. It was not
Holmes's nature to take an aimless holiday, and something
about his pale, worn face told me that his nerves were at their
highest tension. He saw the question in my eyes, and, putting his
finger-tips together and his elbows upon his knees, he explained
the situation.

  "You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?" said
he.

  "Never."

  "Ay, there's the genius and the wonder of the thing!" he
cried. "The man pervades London, and no one has heard of him.
That's what puts him on a pinnacle in the records of crime. I tell
you Watson, in all seriousness, that if I could beat that man, if I
could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had
reached its summit, and I should be prepared to turn to some
more placid line in life. Between ourselves, the recent cases in
which I have been of assistance to the royal family of Scandina-
via, and to the French republic, have left me in such a position
that I could continue to live in the quiet fashion which is most
congenial to me, and to concentrate my attention upon my
chemical researches. But I could not rest. Watson, I could not sit
quiet in my chair, if I thought that such a man as Professor
Moriarty were walking the streets of London unchallenged."

  "What has he done, then?"

  "His career has been an extraordinary one. He is a man of
good birth and excellent education. endowed by nature with a
phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the age of twenty-one he
wrote a treatise upon the binomial theorem, which has had a
European vogue. On the strength of it he won the mathematical
chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all appear-
ances, a most brilliant career before him. But the man had
hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal
strain ran in his blood, which, instead of being modified, was
increased and rendered infinitely more dangerous by his extraor-
dinary mental powers. Dark rumours gathered round him in the
university town, and eventually he was compelled to resign his
chair and to come down to London, where he set up as an army
coach. So much is known to the world, but what I am telling you
now is what I have myself discovered.

  "As you are aware, Watson, there is no one who knows the
higher criminal world of London so well as I do. For years past I
have continually been conscious of some power behind the male-
factor, some deep organizing power which forever stands in the
way of the law, and throws its shield over the wrong-doer. Again
and again in cases of the most varying sorts -- forgery cases,
robberies, murders -- I have felt the presence of this force, and I
have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in
which I have not been personally consulted. For years I have
endeavoured to break through the veil which shrouded it, and at
last the time came when l seized my thread and followed it, until
it led me. after a thousand cunning windings, to ex-Professor
Moriarty, of mathematical celebrity.

  "He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of
half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great
city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a
brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the
centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he
knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself.
He only plans. But his agents are numerous and splendidly
organized. Is there a crime to be done, a paper to be abstracted,
we will say, a house to be rifled, a man to be removed -- the
word is passed to the professor, the matter is organized and
carried out. The agent may be caught. In that case money is
found for his bail or his detence. But the central power which
uses the agent is never caught -- never so much as suspected.
This was the organization which I deduced, Watson, and which I
devoted my whole energy to exposing and breaking up.

  "But the professor was fenced round with safeguards so cun-
ningly devised that, do what I would, it seemed impossible to get
evidence which would convict in a court of law. You know my
powers, my dear Watson, and yet at the end of three months I
was forced to confess that I had at last met an antagonist who
was my intellectual equal. My horror at his crimes was lost in
my admiration at his skill. But at last he made a trip -- only a
little, little trip but it was more than he could afford, when I
was so close upon him. I had my chance, and, starting from that
point, I have woven my net round him until now it is all ready to
close. In three days -- that is to say, on Monday next -- matters
will be ripe, and the professor, with all the principal members of
his gang, will be in the hands of the police. Then will come the
greatest criminal trial of the century, the clearing up of over forty
mysteries, and the rope for all of them; but if we move at all
prematurely, you understand, they may slip out of our hands
even at the last moment.

  "Now, if I could have done this without the knowledge of
Professor Moriarty, all would have been well. But he was too
wily for that. He saw every step which I took to draw my toils
round him. Again and again he strove to break away, but I as
often headed him off. I tell you, my friend, that if a detailed
account of that silent contest could be written, it would take its
place as the most brilliant bit of thrust-and-parry work in the
history of detection. Never have I risen to such a height, and
never have I been so hard pressed by an opponent. He cut deep,
and yet I just undercut him. This morning the last steps were
taken, and three days only were wanted to complete the busi-
ness. I was sitting in my room thinking the matter over when the
door opened and Professor Moriarty stood before me.

  "My nerves are fairly proof, Watson, but I must confess to a
start when I saw the very man who had been so much in my
thoughts standing there on my threshold. His appearance was
quite familiar to me. He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead
domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken
in his head. He is clean-shaven, pale, and ascetic-looking, re-
taining something of the professor in his features. His shoulders
are rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward
and is forever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously
reptilian fashion. He peered at me with great curiosity in his
puckered eyes.

  " 'You have less frontal development than I should have
expected,' said he at last. 'It is a dangerous habit to finger
loaded firearms in the pocket of one's dressing-gown.'

  "The fact is that upon his entrance I had instantly recognized
the extreme personal danger in which I lay. The only conceiv-
able escape for him lay in silencing my tongue. In an instant I
had slipped the revolver from the drawer into my pocket and was
covering him through the cloth. At his remark I drew the weapon
out and laid it cocked upon the table. He still smiled and
blinked, but there was something about his eyes which made me
feel very glad that I had it there.

  " 'You evidently don't know me,' said he.

  " 'On the contrary,' I answered, 'I think it is fairly evident
that I do. Pray take a chair. I can spare you five minutes if you
have anything to say.'

  " 'All that I have to say has already crossed your mind,' said
he.

  " 'Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,' I replied.

  " 'You stand fast?'

  " 'Absolutely. '

  "He clapped his hand into his pocket, and I raised the pistol
from the table. But he merely drew out a memorandum-book in
which he had scribbled some dates.

  " 'You crossed my path on the fourth of January,' said he.
'On the twenty-third you incommoded me; by the middle of
February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the end of
March I was absolutely hampered in my plans; and now, at the
close of April, I find myself placed in such a position through
your continual persecution that I am in positive danger of losing
my liberty. The situation is becoming an impossible one.'

  " 'Have you any suggestion to make?' I asked.

  " 'You must drop it, Mr. Holmes,' said he, swaying his face
about. 'You really must, you know.'

  " 'After Monday,' said I.

  " 'Tut, tut!' said he. 'I am quite sure that a man of your
intelligence will see that there can be but one outcome to this
affair. It is necessary that you should withdraw. You have
worked things in such a fashion that we have only one resource
left. It has been an intellectual treat to me to see the way in
which you have grappled with this affair, and I say, unaffect-
edly, that it would be a grief to me to be forced to take any
extreme measure. You smile, sir, but I assure you that it really
would.

  " 'Danger is part of my trade,' I remarked.

  " 'This is not danger,' said he. 'It is inevitable destruction.
You stand in the way not merely of an individual but of a mighty
organization, the full extent of which you, with all your clever-
ness, have been unable to realize. You must stand clear, Mr.
Holmes, or be trodden under foot.'

  " 'I am afraid,' said I, rising, 'that in the pleasure of this
conversation I am neglecting business of importance which awaits
me elsewhere.'

  "He rose also and looked at me in silence, shaking his head
sadly.

  " 'Well, well,' said he at last. 'It seems a pity, but I have
done what I could. I know every move of your game. You can
do nothing before Monday. It has been a duel between you and
me, Mr. Holmes. You hope to place me in the dock. I tell you
that I will never stand in the dock. You hope to beat me. I tell
you that you will never beat me. If you are clever enough to
bring destruction upon me, rest assured that I shall do as much to
you.'

  " 'You have paid me several compliments, Mr. Moriarty,'
said I. 'Let me pay you one in return when I say that if I were
assured of the former eventuality I would, in the interests of the
public, cheerfully accept the latter.'

  " 'I can promise you the one, but not the other,' he snarled,
and so turned his rounded back upon me and went peering and
blinking out of the room.

  "That was my singular intervie with Professor Moriarty. I
confess that it left an unpleasant effect upon my mind. His soft,
precise fashion of speech leaves a conviction of sincerity which a
mere bully could not produce. Of course, you will say: 'Why not
take police precautions against him?' The reason is that I am
well convinced that it is from his agents the blow would fall. I
have the best of proofs that it would be so."

  "You have already been assaulted?"

  "My dear Watson, Professor Moriarty is not a man who lets
the grass grow under his feet. I went out about midday to
transact some business in Oxford Street. As I passed the corner
which leads from Bentinck Street on to the Welbeck Street
crossing a two-horse van furiously driven whizzed round and
was on me like a flash. I sprang for the foot-path and saved
myself by the fraction of a second. The van dashed round by
Marylebone Lane and was gone in an instant. I kept to the
pavement after that, Watson, but as I walked down Vere Street a
brick came down from the roof of one of the houses and was
shattered to fragments at my feet. I called the police and had the
place examined. There were slates and bricks piled up on the
roof preparatory to some repairs, and they would have me be-
lieve that the wind had toppled over one of these. Of course I
knew better, but I could prove nothing. I took a cab after that
and reached my brother's rooms in Pall Mall, where I spent the
day. Now I have come round to you, and on my way I was
attacked by a rough with a bludgeon. I knocked him down, and
the police have him in custody; but I can tell you with the most
absolute confidence that no possible connection will ever be
traced between the gentleman upon whose front teeth I have
barked my knuckles and the retiring mathematical coach, who is,
I daresay, working out problems upon a black-board ten miles
away. You will not wonder, Watson, that my first act on enter-
ing your rooms was to close your shutters, and that I have been
compelled to ask your permission to leave the house by some
less conspicuous exit than the front door."

  I had often admired my friend's courage, but never more than
now, as he sat quietly checking off a series of incidents which
must have combined to make up a day of horror.

  "You will spend the night here?" I said.

  "No, my friend, you might find me a dangerous guest. I have
my plans laid, and all will be well. Matters have gone so far now
that they can move without my help as far as the arrest goes,
though my presence is necessary for a conviction. It is obvious,
therefore, that I cannot do better than get away for the few days
which remain before the police are at liberty to act. It would be a
great pleasure to me, therefore, if you could come on to the
Continent with me."

  "The practice is quiet," said I, "and I have an accommodat-
ing neighbour. I should be glad to come."

  "And to start to-morrow morning?"

  "If necessary."

  "Oh, yes, it is most necessary. Then these are your instruc-
tions, and I beg, my dear Watson, that you will obey them to the
letter, for you are now playing a double-handed game with me
against the cleverest rogue and the most powerful syndicate of
criminals in Europe. Now listen! You will dispatch whatever
luggage you intend to take by a trusty messenger unaddressed to
Victoria to-night. In the morning you will send for a hansom,
desiring your man to take neither the first nor the second which
may present itself. Into this hansom you will jump, and you will
drive to the Strand end of the Lowther Arcade, handing the
address to the cabman upon a slip of paper, with a request that
he will not throw it away. Have your fare ready, and the instant
that your cab stops, dash through the Arcade, timing yourself to
reach the other side at a quarter-past nine. You will find a small
brougham waiting close to the curb, driven by a fellow with a
heavy black cloak tipped at the collar with red. Into this you will
step, and you will reach Victoria in time for the Continental
express."

  "Where shall I meet you?"

  "At the station. The second first-class carriage from the front
will be reserved for us."

  "The carriage is our rendezvous, then?"

  "Yes."

  It was in vain that I asked Holmes to remain for the evening.
It was evident to me that he thought he might bring trouble to the
roof he was under, and that that was the motive which impelled
him to go. With a few hurried words as to our plans for the
morrow he rose and came out with me into the garden, clamber-
ing over the wall which leads into Mortimer Street, and immedi-
ately whistling for a hansom, in which I heard him drive away.

  In the morning I obeyed Holmes's injunctions to the letter. A
hansom was procured with such precautions as would prevent its
being one which was placed ready for us, and I drove immedi-
ately after breakfast to the Lowther Arcade, through which I
hurried at the top of my speed. A brougham was waiting with a
very massive driver wrapped in a dark cloak, who, the instant
that I had stepped in, whipped up the horse and rattled off to
Victoria Station. On my alighting there he turned the camage,
and dashed away again without so much as a look in my direction.

  So far all had gone admirably. My luggage was waiting for
me, and I had no difficulty in finding the carriage which Holmes
had indicated, the less so as it was the only one in the train
which was marked "Engaged." My only source of anxiety now
was the non-appearance of Holmes. The station clock marked
only seven minutes from the time when we were due to start. In
vain I searched among the groups of travellers and leave-takers
for the lithe figure of my friend. There was no sign of him. I
spent a few minutes in assisting a venerable Italian priest, who
was endeavouring to make a porter understand, in his broken
English, that his luggage was to be booked through to Paris.
Then, having taken another look round, I returned to my car-
riage, where I found that the porter, in spite of the ticket, had
given me my decrepit Italian friend as a travelling companion. It
was useless for me to explain to him that his presence was an
intrusion, for my Italian was even more limited than his English,
so I shrugged my shoulders resignedly, and continued to look out
anxiously for my friend. A chill of fear had come over me, as I
thought that his absence might mean that some blow had fallen
during the night. Already the doors had all been shut and the
whistle blown, when --

  "My dear Watson," said a voice, "you have not even conde-
scended to say good-morning."

  I turned in uncontrollable astonishment. The aged ecclesiastic
had turned his face towards me. For an instant the wrinkles were
smoothed away, the nose drew away from the chin, the lower lip
ceased to protrude and the mouth to mumble, the dull eyes
regained their fire, the drooping figure expanded. The next the
whole frame collapsed again, and Holmes had gone as quickly as
he had come.

  "Good heavens!" I cried, "how you startled me!"

  "Every precaution is still necessary," he whispered. "I have
reason to think that they are hot upon our trail. Ah, there is
Moriarty himself."

  The train had already begun to move as Holmes spoke. Glanc-
ing back, I saw a tall man pushing his way furiously through the
crowd, and waving his hand as if he desired to have the train
stopped. It was too late, however, for we were rapidly gathering
momentum, and an instant later had shot clear of the station.

  "With all our precautions, you see that we have cut it rather
fine," said Holmes, laughing. He rose, and throwing off the
black cassock and hat which had formed his disguise, he packed
them away in a hand-bag.

  "Have you seen the morning paper, Watson?"

  "No."

  "You haven't seen about Baker Street, then?"

  "Baker Street?"

  "They set fire to our rooms last night. No great harm was
done."

  "Good heavens, Holmes. this is intolerable!"

  "They must have lost my track completely after their
bludgeonman was arrested. Otherwise they could not have imag-
ined that I had returned to my rooms. They have evidently taken
the precaution of watching you, however, and that is what has
brought Moriarty to Victoria. You could not have made any slip
in coming?"

  "I did exactly what you advised."

  "Did you find your brougham?"

  "Yes, it was waiting."

  "Did you recognize your coachman?"

  "No."

  "It was my brother Mycroft. It is an advantage to get about in
such a case without taking a mercenary into your confidence.
But we must plan what we are to do about Moriarty now."

  "As this is an express, and as the boat runs in connection with
it, I should think we have shaken him off very effectively."

  "My dear Watson, you evidently did not realize my meaning
when I said that this man may be taken as being quite on the
same intellectual plane as myself. You do not imagine that if I
were the pursuer I should allow myself to be baffled by so slight
an obstacle. Why, then, should you think so meanly of him?"

  "What will he do?"

  "What I should do."

  "What would you do, then?"

  "Engage a special."

  "But it must be late."

  "By no means. This train stops at Canterbury; and there is
always at least a quarter of an hour's delay at the boat. He will
catch us there."

  "One would think that we were the criminals. Let us have him
arrested on his arrival."

  "It would be to ruin the work of three months. We should get
the big fish. but the smaller would dart right and left out of the
net. On Monday we should have them all. No, an arrest is
inadmissible."

  "What then?"

  "We shall get out at Canterbury."

  "And then?"

  "Well, then we must make a cross-country journey to
Newhaven, and so over to Dieppe. Moriarty will again do what I
should do. He will get on to Paris, mark down our luggage, and
wait for two days at the depot. In the meantime we shall treat
ourselves to a couple of carpet-bags, encourage the manufactures
of the countries through which we travel, and make our way at
our leisure into Switzerland, via Luxembourg and Basle."

  At Canterbury, therefore, we alighted, only to find that we
should have to walt an hour before we could get a train to
Newhaven.

  I was still looking rather ruefully after the rapidly disappearing
luggage-van which contained my wardrobe, when Holmes pulled
my sleeve and pointed up the line.

  "Already, you see," said he.

  Far away, from among the Kentish woods there rose a thin
spray of smoke. A minute later a carriage and engine could be
seen flying along the open curve which leads to the station. We
had hardly time to take our place behind a pile of luggage when
it passed with a rattle and a roar, beating a blast of hot air into
our faces.

  "There he goes," said Holmes, as we watched the carriage
swing and rock over the points. "There are limits, you see, to
our friend's intelligetnce. It would have been a coup-de-maitre
had he deduced what I would deduce and acted accordingly."

  "And what would he have done had he overtaken us?"

  "There cannot be the least doubt that he would have made a
murderous attack upon me. It is, however, a game at which two
may play. The question now is whether we should take a prema-
ture lunch here, or run our chance of starving before we reach
the buffet at Newhaven."

  We made our way to Brussels that night and spent two days
there, moving on upon the third day as far as Strasbourg. On the
Monday morning Holmes had telegraphed to the London police,
and in the evening we found a reply waiting for us at our hotel.
Holmes tore it open, and then with a bitter curse hurled it into
the grate.

  "I might have known it!" he groaned. "He has escaped!"

  "Moriarty?"

  "They have secured the whole gang with the exception of
him. He has given them the slip. Of course, when I had left the
country there was no one to cope with him. But I did think that I
had put the game in their hands. I think that you had better return
to England, Watson."

  "Why?"

  "Because you will find me a dangerous companion now. This
man's occupation is gone. He is lost if he returns to London. If I
read his character right he will devote his whole energies to
revenging himself upon me. He said as much in our short
interview, and I fancy that he meant it. I should certainly recom-
mend you to return to your practice."

  It was hardly an appeal to be successful with one who was an
old campaigner as well as an old friend. We sat in the Strasbourg
salle-a-manger arguing the question for half an hour, but the
same night we had resumed our journey and were well on our
way to Geneva.

  For a charming week we wandered up the valley of the Rhone,
and then, branching off at Leuk, we made our way over the
Gemmi Pass, still deep in snow, and so, by way of Interlaken, to
Meiringen. It was a lovely trip, the dainty green of the spring
below, the virgin white of the winter above; but it was clear to
me that never for one instant did Holmes forget the shadow
which lay across him. In the homely Alpine villages or in the
lonely mountain passes, I could still tell by his quick glancing
eyes and his sharp scrutiny of every face that passed us, that he
was well convinced that, walk where we would, we could not
walk ourselves clear of the danger which was dogging our
footsteps

  Once, i remember, as we passed over the Gemmi, and walked
along the border of the melancholy Daubensee, a large rock
which had been dislodged from the ridge upon our right clattered
down and roared into the lake behind us. In an instant Holmes
had raced up on to the ridge, and, standing upon a lofty pinna-
cle, craned his neck in every direction. It was in vain that our
guide assured him that a fall of stones was a common chance in
the springtime at that spot. He said nothing, but he smiled at me
with the air of a man who sees the fulfilment of that which he
had expected.

  And yet for all his watchfulness he was never depressed. On
the contrary, I can never recollect having seen him in such
exuberant spirits. Again and again he recurred to the fact that if
he could be assured that society was freed from Professor Moriarty
he would cheerfully bring his own career to a conclusion.

  "I think that I may go so far as to say, Watson, that I have not
lived wholly in vain," he remarked. "If my record were closed
to-night I could still survey it with equanimity. The air of
London is the sweeter for my presence. In over a thousand cases
I am not aware that I have ever used my powers upon the wrong
side. Of late I have been tempted to look into the problems
furnished by nature rather than those more superficial ones tor
which our artificial state of society is responsible. Your memoirs
will draw to an end, Watson, upon the day that I crown my
career by the capture or extinction of the most dangerous and
capable criminal in Europe."

  I shall be brief, and yet exact, in the little which remains for
me to tell. It is not a subject on which I would willingly dwell,
and yet I am conscious that a duty devolves upon me to omit no
detail.

  It was on the third of May that we reached the little village of
Meiringen, where we put up at the Englischer Hof. then kept by
Peter Steiler the elder. Our landlord was an intelligent man and
spoke excellent English, having served for three years as waiter
at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. At his advice, on the after-
noon of the fourth we set off together, with the intention of
crossing the hills and spending the night at the hamlet of Rosenlaui.
We had strict injunctions, however, on no account to pass the
falls of Reichenbach, which are about halfway up the hills,
without making a small detour to see them.

  It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the
melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the
spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft
into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by
glistening coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boil-
ing pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the
stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green
water roaring forever down, and the thick flickering curtain of
spray hissing forever upward, turn a man giddy with their con-
stant whirl and clamour. We stood near the edge peering down at
the gleam of the breaking water far below us against the black
rocks, and listening to the half-human shout which came boom-
ing up with the spray out of the abyss.

  The path has been cut halfway round the fall to afford a
complete view, but it ends abruptly, and the traveller has to
return as he came. We had turned to do so, when we saw a
Swiss lad come running along it with a letter in his hand. It bore
the mark of the hotel which we had just left and was addressed to
me by the landlord. It appeared that within a very few minutes of
our leaving, an English lady had arrived who was in the last
stage of consumption. She had wintered at Davos Platz and was
journeying now to join her friends at Lucerne, when a sudden
hemorrhage had overtaken her. It was thought that she could
hardly live a few hours, but it would be a great consolation to
her to see an English doctor, and, if I would only return, etc.
The good Steiler assured me in a postscript that he would himself
look upon my compliance as a very great favour, since the lady
absolutely refused to see a Swiss physician, and he could not but
feel that he was incurring a great responsibility.

  The appeal was one which could not be ignored. It was
impossible to refuse the request of a fellow-countrywoman dying
in a strange land. Yet I had my scruples about leaving Holmes. It
was finally agreed, however, that he should retain the young
Swiss messenger with him as guide and companion while I
returned to Meiringen. My friend would stay some little time at
the fall, he said, and would then walk slowly over the hill to
Rosenlaui, where I was to rejoin him in the evening. As I turned
away I saw Holmes, with his back against a rock and his arms
folded, gazing down at the rush of the waters. It was the last that
I was ever destined to see of him in this world.

  When I was near the bottom of the descent I looked back. It
was impossible, from that position, to see the fall, but I could
see the curving path which winds over the shoulder of the hills
and leads to it. Along this a man was, I remember, walking very
rapidly.

  I could see his black figure clearly outlined against the green
behind him. I noted him, and the energy with which he walked,
but he passed from my mind again as I hurried on upon my
errand.

  It may have been a little over an hour before I reached
Meiringen. Old Steiler was standing at the porch of his hotel.

  "Well," said I, as I came hurrying up, "I trust that she is no
worse?"

  A look of surprise passed over his face, and at the first quiver
of his eyebrows my heart turned to lead in my breast.

  "You did not write this?" I said, pulling the letter from my
pocket. "There is no sick Englishwoman in the hotel?"

  "Certainly not!" he cried. "But it has the hotel mark upon it!
Ha, it must have been written by that tall Englishman who came
in after you had gone. He said --"

  But I waited for none of the landlord's explanation. In a tingle
of fear I was already running down the village street, and making
for the path which I had so lately descended. It had taken me an
hour to come down. For all my efforts two more had passed
betore I found myself at the fall of Reichenbach once more.
There was Holmes's Alpine-stock still leaning against the rock
by which I had left him. But there was no sign of him, and it
was in vain that I shouted. My only answer was my own voice
reverberating in a rolling echo from the cliffs around me.

  It was the sight of that Alpine-stock which turned me cold and
sick. He had not gone to Rosenlaui, then. He had remained on
that three-foot path, with sheer wall on one side and sheer drop
on the other, until his enemy had overtaken him. The young
Swiss had gone too. He had probably been in the pay of Moriarty
and had left the two men together. And then what had happened?
Who was to tell us what had happened then?

  I stood for a minute or two to collect myself, for I was dazed
with the horror of the thing. Then I began to think of Holmes's
own methods and to try to practise them in reading this tragedy.
It was, alas, only too easy to do. During our conversation we
had not gone to the end of the path, and the Alpine-stock marked
the place where we had stood. The blackish soil is kept forever
soft by the incessant drift of spray, and a bird would leave its
tread upon it. Two lines of footmarks were clearly marked along
the farther end of the path, both leading away from me. There
were none returning. A few yards from the end the soil was all
ploughed up into a patch of mud, and the brambles and ferns
which fringed the chasm were torn and bedraggled. I lay upon
my face and peered over with the spray spouting up all around
me. It had darkened since I left, and now I could only see here
and there the glistening of moisture upon the black walls, and far
away down at the end of the shaft the gleam of the broken water.
I shouted; but only that same half-human cry of the fall was
borne back to my ears.

  But it was destined that I should, after all, have a last word of
greeting from my friend and comrade. I have said that his
Alpine-stock had been left leaning against a rock which jutted on
to the path. From the top of this bowlder the gleam of something
bright caught my eye, and raising my hand I found that it came
from the silver cigarette-case which he used to carry. As I took it
up a small square of paper upon which it had lain fluttered down
on to the ground. Unfolding it, I found that it consisted of three
pages torn from his notebook and addressed to me. It was
characteristic of the man that the direction was as precise. and
the writing as firm and clear, as though it had been written in his
study.

     MY DEAR WATSON [it said]:

       I write these few lines through the courtesy of Mr.

     Moriarty, who awaits my convenience for the final discus-

     sion of those questions which lie between us. He has been

     giving me a sketch of the methods by which he avoided the

     English police and kept himself informed of our move-

     ments. They certainly confirm the very high opinion which

     I had formed of his abilities. I am pleased to think that I

     shall be able to free society from any further effects of his

     presence, though I fear that it is at a cost which will give

     pain to my friends, and especially, my dear Watson, to you.

     I have already explained to you, however, that my career

     had in any case reached its crisis, and that no possible

     conclusion to it could be more congenial to me than this.

     Indeed, if I may make a full confession to you, I was quite

     convinced that the letter from Meiringen was a hoax, and I

     allowed you to depart on that errand under the persuasion

     that some development of this sort would follow. Tell In-

     spector Patterson that the papers which he needs to convict

     the gang are in pigeonhole M., done up in a blue envelope

     and inscribed "Moriarty." I made every disposition of my

     property before leaving England and handed it to my brother

     Mycroft. Pray give my greetings to Mrs. Watson, and

     believe me to be, my dear fellow

                                           Very sincerely yours,

                                                SHERLOCK HOLMES.

  A few words may suffice to tell the little that remains. An
examination by experts leaves little doubt that a personal contest
between the two men ended, as it could hardly fail to end in such
a situation, in their reeling over, locked in each other's arms.
Any attempt at recovering the bodies was absolutely hopeless,
and there, deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water
and seething foam, will lie for all time the most dangerous
criminal and the foremost champion of the law of their genera-
tion. The Swiss youth was never found again, and there can be
no doubt that he was one of the numerous agents whom Moriarty
kept in his employ. As to the gang, it will be within the memory
of the public how completely the evidence which Holmes had
accumulated exposed their organization, and how heavily the
hand of the dead man weighed upon them. Of their terrible chief
few details came out during the proceedings, and if I have now
been compelled to make a clear statement of his career, it is due
to those injudicious champions who have endeavoured to clear
his memory by attacks upon him whom I shall ever regard as the
best and the wisest man whom I have ever known.
.

Colophon

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