Canon

The Canon refers to the set of 60 original stories (56 short stories, 4 novels) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

SUDDENLY HE SPRANG FROM HIS CHAIR.

Somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, there is a travel-worn and battered tin dispatchbox with my name, John H. Watson, M. D., Late Indian Army, painted upon the lid. It is crammed with papers, nearly all of which are records of cases to illustrate the curious problems which Mr. Sherlock Holmes had at various times to examine. Some, and not the least interesting, were complete failures, and as such will hardly bear narrating, since no final explanation is forthcoming. A problem without a solution may interest the student, but can hardly fail to annoy the casual reader. Among these unfinished tales is that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world. No less remarkable is that of the cutter Alicia, which sailed one spring morning into a small patch of mist from where she never again emerged, nor was anything further ever heard of herself and her crew. A third case worthy of note is that of Isadora Persano, the well-known journalist and duellist, who was found stark staring mad with a match box in front of him which contained a remarkable worm said to be unknown to science. Apart from these unfathomed cases, there are some which involve the secrets of private families to an extent which would mean consternation in many exalted quarters if it were thought possible that they might find their way into print. I need not say that such a breach of confidence is unthinkable, and that these records will be separated and destroyed now that my friend has time to turn his energies to the matter. There remain a considerable residue of cases of greater or less interest which I might have edited before had I not feared to give the public a surfeit which might react upon the reputation of the man whom above all others I revere. In some I was myself concerned and can speak as an eye-witness, while in others I was either not present or played so small a part that they could only be told as by a third person. The following narrative is drawn from my own experience.

It was a wild morning in October, and I observed as I was dressing how the last remaining leaves were being whirled from the solitary plane tree which graces the yard behind our house. I descended to breakfast prepared to find my companion in depressed spirits, for, like all great artists, he was easily impressed by his surroundings. On the contrary, I found that he had nearly finished his meal, and that his mood was particularly bright and joyous, with that somewhat sinister cheerfulness which was characteristic of his lighter moments.

“You have a case, Holmes?” I remarked.

“The faculty of deduction is certainly contagious, Watson,” he answered. “It has enabled you to probe my secret. Yes, I have a case. After a month of trivialities and stagnation the wheels move once more.”

“Might I share it?”

“There is little to share, but we may discuss it when you have consumed the two hard-boiled eggs with which our new cook has favoured us. Their condition may not be unconnected with the copy of the Family Herald which I observed yesterday upon the hall-table. Even so trivial a matter as cooking an egg demands an attention which is conscious of the passage of time and incompatible with the love romance in that excellent periodical.”

A quarter of an hour later the table had been cleared and we were face to face. He had drawn a letter from his pocket.

“You have heard of Neil Gibson, the Gold King?” he said.

“You mean the American Senator?”

“Well, he was once Senator for some Western state, but is better known as the greatest gold-mining magnate in the world.”

“Yes, I know of him. He has surely lived in England for some time. His name is very familiar.”

“Yes, he bought a considerable estate in Hampshire some five years ago. Possibly you have already heard of the tragic end of his wife?”

“Of course. I remember it now. That is why the name is familiar. But I really know nothing of the details.”

Holmes waved his hand towards some papers on a chair. “I had no idea that the case was coming my way or I should have had my extracts ready,” said he. “The fact is that the problem, though exceedingly sensational, appeared to present no difficulty. The interesting personality of the accused does not obscure the clearness of the evidence. That was the view taken by the coroner’s jury and also in the police-court proceedings. It is now referred to the Assizes at Winchester. I fear it is a thankless business. I can discover facts, Watson, but I cannot change them. Unless some entirely new and unexpected ones come to light I do not see what my client can hope for.”

“Your client?”

“Ah, I forgot I had not told you. I am getting into your involved habit, Watson, of telling a story backward. You had best read this first.”

The letter which he handed to me, written in a bold, masterful hand, ran as follows:

CLARIDGE’S HOTEL,
October 3rd.

DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES:

I can’t see the best woman God ever made go to her death without doing all that is possible to save her. I can’t explain things–I can’t even try to explain them, but I know beyond all doubt that Miss Dunbar is innocent. You know the facts–who doesn’t? It has been the gossip of the country. And never a voice raised for her! It’s the damned injustice of it all that makes me crazy. That woman has a heart that wouldn’t let her kill a fly. Well, I’ll come at eleven to-morrow and see if you can get some ray of light in the dark. Maybe I have a clue and don’t know it. Anyhow, all I know and all I have and all I am are for your use if only you can save her. If ever in your life you showed your powers, put them now into this case.

Yours faithfully,

J. NEIL GIBSON.

“There you have it,” said Sherlock Holmes, knocking out the ashes of his after-breakfast pipe and slowly refilling it. “That is the gentleman I await. As to the story, you have hardly time to master all these papers, so I must give it to you in a nutshell if you are to take an intelligent interest in the proceedings. This man is the greatest financial power in the world, and a man, as I understand, of most violent and formidable character. He married a wife, the victim of this tragedy, of whom I know nothing save that she was past her prime, which was the more unfortunate as a very attractive governess superintended the education of two young children. These are the three people concerned, and the scene is a grand old manor house, the centre of a historical English state. Then as to the tragedy. The wife was found in the grounds nearly half a mile from the house, late at night, clad in her dinner dress, with a shawl over her shoulders and a revolver bullet through her brain. No weapon was found near her and there was no local clue as to the murder. No weapon near her, Watson–mark that! The crime seems to have been committed late in the evening, and the body was found by a gamekeeper about eleven o’clock, when it was examined by the police and by a doctor before being carried up to the house. Is this too condensed, or can you follow it clearly?”

“THE WIFE WAS FOUND IN THE GROUNDS NEARLY HALF A MILE FROM THE HOUSE, LATE AT NIGHT.”
“THE WIFE WAS FOUND IN THE GROUNDS NEARLY HALF A MILE FROM THE HOUSE, LATE AT NIGHT.”

“It is all very clear. But why suspect the governess?”

“Well, in the first place there is some very direct evidence. A revolver with one discharged chamber and a calibre which corresponded with the bullet was found on the floor of her wardrobe.” His eyes fixed and he repeated in broken words, “On–the–floor–of–her– wardrobe.” Then he sank into silence, and I saw that some train of thought had been set moving which I should be foolish to interrupt. Suddenly with a start he emerged into brisk life once more. “Yes, Watson, it was found. Pretty damning, eh? So the two juries thought. Then the dead woman had a note upon her making an appointment at that very place and signed by the governess. How’s that? Finally there is the motive. Senator Gibson is an attractive person. If his wife dies, who more likely to succeed her than the young lady who had already by all accounts received pressing attentions from her employer? Love, fortune, power, all depending upon one middleaged life. Ugly, Watson– very ugly!”

“Yes, indeed, Holmes.”

“Nor could she prove an alibi. On the contrary, she had to admit that she was down near Thor Bridge–that was the scene of the tragedy– about that hour. She couldn’t deny it, for some passing villager had seen her there.”

“That really seems final.”

“And yet, Watson–and yet! This bridge–a single broad span of stone with balustraded sides–carries the drive over the narrowest part of a long, deep, reed-girt sheet of water. Thor Mere it is called. In the mouth of the bridge lay the dead woman. Such are the main facts. But here, if I mistake not, is our client, considerably before his time.”

Billy had opened the door, but the name which he announced was an unexpected one. Mr. Marlow Bates was a stranger to both of us. He was a thin, nervous wisp of a man with frightened eyes and a twitching, hesitating manner–a man whom my own professional eye would judge to be on the brink of an absolute nervous breakdown.

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“WHY DID HE EVER DRAG YOU INTO IT AT ALL?” ASKED OUR VISITOR.

It may have been a comedy, or it may have been a tragedy. It cost one man his reason, it cost me a blood-letting, and it cost yet another man the penalties of the law. Yet there was certainly an element of comedy. Well, you shall judge for yourselves.

I remember the date very well, for it was in the same month that Holmes refused a knighthood for services which may perhaps some day be described. I only refer to the matter in passing, for in my position of partner and confidant I am obliged to be particularly careful to avoid any indiscretion. I repeat, however, that this enables me to fix the date, which was the latter end of June, 1902, shortly after the conclusion of the South African War. Holmes had spent several days in bed, as was his habit from time to time, but he emerged that morning with a long foolscap document in his hand and a twinkle of amusement in his austere gray eyes.

“There is a chance for you to make some money. friend Watson,” said he. “Have you ever heard the name of Garrideb?”

I admitted that I had not.

“Well, if you can lay your hand upon a Garrideb, there’s money in it.”

“Why?”

“Ah, that’s a long story–rather a whimsical one, too. I don’t think in all our explorations of human complexities we have ever come upon anything more singular. The fellow will be here presently for cross-examination, so I won’t open the matter up till he comes. But, meanwhile, that’s the name we want.”

The telephone directory lay on the table beside me, and I turned over the pages in a rather hopeless quest. But to my amazement there was this strange name in its due place. I gave a cry of triumph.

“Here you are, Holmes! Here it is!”

Holmes took the book from my hand.

“‘Garrideb, N.,'” he read, “‘136 Little Ryder Street, W.’ Sorry to disappoint you, my dear Watson, but this is the man himself. That is the address upon his letter. We want another to match him.”

Mrs. Hudson had come in with a card upon a tray. I took it up and glanced at it.

“Why, here it is!” I cried in amazement. “This is a different initial. John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law, Moorville, Kansas, U.S.A.”

Holmes smiled as he looked at the card. “I am afraid you must make yet another effort, Watson,” said he. “This gentleman is also in the plot already, though I certainly did not expect to see him this morning. However, he is in a position to tell us a good deal which I want to know.”

A moment later he was in the room. Mr. John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law, was a short, powerful man with the round, fresh, clean-shaven face characteristic of so many American men of affairs. The general effect was chubby and rather childlike, so that one received the impression of quite a young man with a broad set smile upon his face. His eyes, however, were arresting. Seldom in any human head have I seen a pair which bespoke a more intense inward life, so bright were they, so alert, so responsive to every change of thought. His accent was American, but was not accompanied by any eccentricity of speech.

“Mr. Holmes?” he asked, glancing from one to the other. “Ah, yes! Your pictures are not unlike you, sir, if I may say so. I believe you have had a letter from my namesake, Mr. Nathan Garrideb, have you not?”

“Pray sit down,” said Sherlock Holmes. “We shall, I fancy, have a good deal to discuss.” He took up his sheets of foolscap. “You are, of course, the Mr. John Garrideb mentioned in this document. But surely you have been in England some time?”

“Why do you say that, Mr. Holmes?” I seemed to read sudden suspicion in those expressive eyes.

“Your whole outfit is English.”

Mr. Garrideb forced a laugh. “I’ve read of your tricks, Mr. Holmes, but I never thought I would be the subject of them. Where do you read that?”

“The shoulder cut of your coat, the toes of your boots–could anyone doubt it?”

“Well, well, I had no idea I was so obvious a Britisher. But business brought me over here some time ago, and so, as you say, my outfit is nearly all London. However, I guess your time is of value, and we did not meet to talk about the cut of my socks. What about getting down to that paper you hold in your hand?”

Holmes had in some way ruffled our visitor, whose chubby face had assumed a far less amiable expression.

“Patience! Patience, Mr. Garrideb!” said my friend in a soothing voice. “Dr. Watson would tell you that these little digressions of mine sometimes prove in the end to have some bearing on the matter. But why did Mr. Nathan Garrideb not come with you?”

“Why did he ever drag you into it at all?” asked our visitor with a sudden outflame of anger. “What in thunder had you to do with it? Here was a bit of professional business between two gentlemen, and one of them must needs call in a detective! I saw him this morning, and he told me this fool-trick he had played me, and that’s why I am here. But I feel bad about it, all the same.”

“WHY DID HE EVER DRAG YOU INTO IT AT ALL?” ASKED OUR VISITOR.
“WHY DID HE EVER DRAG YOU INTO IT AT ALL?” ASKED OUR VISITOR.

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“HULLO! HULLO! GOOD OLD INDEX. YOU CAN’T BEAT IT.”

Holmes had read carefully a note which the last post had brought him. Then, with the dry chuckle which was his nearest approach to a laugh, he tossed it over to me.

“For a mixture of the modern and the mediaeval, of the practical and of the wildly fanciful, I think this is surely the limit,” said he. “What do you make of it, Watson?”

I read as follows:

46, OLD JEWRY,
Nov. 19th.

Re Vampires

SIR:

Our client, Mr. Robert Ferguson, of Ferguson and Muirhead, tea brokers, of Mincing Lane, has made some inquiry from us in a communication of even date concerning vampires. As our firm specializes entirely upon the assessment of machinery the matter hardly comes within our purview, and we have therefore recommended Mr. Ferguson to call upon you and lay the matter before you. We have not forgotten your successful action in the case of Matilda Briggs.

We are, sir,

Faithfully yours,

MORRISON, MORRISON, AND DODD.

per E. J. C.

“Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson,” said Holmes in a reminiscent voice. “It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared. But what do we know about vampires? Does it come within our purview either? Anything is better than stagnation, but really we seem to have been switched on to a Grimms’ fairy tale. Make a long arm, Watson, and see what V has to say.”

I leaned back and took down the great index volume to which he referred. Holmes balanced it on his knee, and his eyes moved slowly and lovingly over the record of old cases, mixed with the accumulated information of a lifetime.

“Voyage of the Gloria Scott,” he read. “That was a bad business. I have some recollection that you made a record of it, Watson, though I was unable to congratulate you upon the result. Victor Lynch, the forger. Venomous lizard or gila. Remarkable case, that! Vittoria, the circus belle. Vanderbilt and the Yeggman. Vipers. Vigor, the Hammersmith wonder. Hullo! Hullo! Good old index. You can’t beat it. Listen to this, Watson. Vampirism in Hungary. And again, Vampires in Transylvania.” He turned over the pages with eagerness, but after a short intent perusal he threw down the great book with a snarl of disappointment.

“HULLO! HULLO! GOOD OLD INDEX. YOU CAN’T BEAT IT.”
“HULLO! HULLO! GOOD OLD INDEX. YOU CAN’T BEAT IT.”

“Rubbish, Watson, rubbish! What have we to do with walking corpses who can only be held in their grave by stakes driven through their hearts? It’s pure lunacy.”

“But surely,” said I, “the vampire was not necessarily a dead man? A living person might have the habit. I have read, for example, of the old sucking the blood of the young in order to retain their youth.”

“You are right, Watson. It mentions the legend in one of these references. But are we to give serious attention to such things? This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply. I fear that we cannot take Mr. Robert Ferguson very seriously. Possibly this note may be from him and may throw some light upon what is worrying him.”

He took up a second letter which had lain unnoticed upon the table while he had been absorbed with the first. This he began to read with a smile of amusement upon his face which gradually faded away into an expression of intense interest and concentration. When he had finished he sat for some little time lost in thought with the letter dangling from his fingers. Finally, with a start, he aroused himself from his reverie.

“Cheeseman’s, Lamberley. Where is Lamberley, Watson?”

“It is in Sussex, South of Horsham.”

“Not very far, eh? And Cheeseman’s?”

“I know that country, Holmes. It is full of old houses which are named after the men who built them centuries ago. You get Odley’s and Harvey’s and Carriton’s–the folk are forgotten but their names live in their houses.”

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“SEE HERE, MASSER HOLMES, YOU KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF OTHER FOLKS’ BUSINESS.”

I don’t think that any of my adventures with Mr. Sherlock Holmes opened quite so abruptly, or so dramatically, as that which I associate with The Three Gables. I had not seen Holmes for some days and had no idea of the new channel into which his activities had been directed. He was in a chatty mood that morning, however, and had just settled me into the well-worn low armchair on one side of the fire, while he had curled down with his pipe in his mouth upon the opposite chair, when our visitor arrived. If I had said that a mad bull had arrived it would give a clearer impression of what occurred.

The door had flown open and a huge negro had burst into the room. He would have been a comic figure if he had not been terrific, for he was dressed in a very loud gray check suit with a flowing salmon-coloured tie. His broad face and flattened nose were thrust forward, as his sullen dark eyes, with a smouldering gleam of malice in them, turned from one of us to the other.

“Which of you gen’l’men is Masser Holmes?” he asked.

Holmes raised his pipe with a languid smile.

“Oh! it’s you, is it?” said our visitor, coming with an unpleasant, stealthy step round the angle of the table. “See here, Masser Holmes, you keep your hands out of other folks’ business. Leave folks to manage their own affairs. Got that, Masser Holmes?”

“SEE HERE, MASSER HOLMES, YOU KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF OTHER FOLKS’ BUSINESS.”
“SEE HERE, MASSER HOLMES, YOU KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF OTHER FOLKS’ BUSINESS.”

“Keep on talking,” said Holmes. “It’s fine.”

“Oh! it’s fine, is it?” growled the savage. “It won’t be so damn fine if I have to trim you up a bit. I’ve handled your kind before now, and they didn’t look fine when I was through with them. Look at that, Masser Holmes!”

He swung a huge knotted lump of a fist under my friend’s nose. Holmes examined it closely with an air of great interest.

“Were you born so?” he asked. “Or did it come by degrees?”

It may have been the icy coolness of my friend, or it may have been the slight clatter which I made as I picked up the poker. In any case, our visitor’s manner became less flamboyant.

“Well, I’ve given you fair warnin’,” said he. “I’ve a friend that’s interested out Harrow way–you know what I’m meaning–and he don’t intend to have no buttin’ in by you. Got that? You ain’t the law, and I ain’t the law either, and if you come in I’ll be on hand also. Don’t you forget it.”

“I’ve wanted to meet you for some time,” said Holmes. “I won’t ask you to sit down, for I don’t like the smell of you, but aren’t you Steve Dixie, the bruiser?”

“That’s my name, Masser Holmes, and you’ll get put through it for sure if you give me any lip.”

“It is certainly the last thing you need,” said Holmes, staring at our visitor’s hideous mouth. “But it was the killing of young Perkins outside the Holborn–Bar What! you’re not going?”

The negro had sprung back, and his face was leaden. “I won’t listen to no such talk,” said he. “What have I to do with this ‘ere Perkins, Masser Holmes? I was trainin’ at the Bull Ring in Birmingham when this boy done gone get into trouble.”

“Yes, you’ll tell the magistrate about it, Steve,” said Holmes. “I’ve been watching you and Barney Stockdale–”

“So help me the Lord! Masser Holmes–”

“That’s enough. Get out of it. I’ll pick you up when I want you.”

“Good-mornin’, Masser Holmes. I hope there ain’t no hard feelin’s about this ‘ere visit?”

“There will be unless you tell me who sent you.”

“Why, there ain’t no secret about that, Masser Holmes. It was that same gen’l’man that you have just done gone mention.”

“And who set him on to it?”

“S’elp me. I don’t know, Masser Holmes. He just say, ‘Steve, you go see Mr. Holmes, and tell him his life ain’t safe if he go down Harrow way.’ That’s the whole truth.” Without waiting for any further questioning, our visitor bolted out of the room almost as precipitately as he had entered. Holmes knocked out the ashes of his pipe with a quiet chuckle.

“I am glad you were not forced to break his woolly head, Watson. I observed your manoeuvres with the poker. But he is really rather a harmless fellow, a great muscular, foolish, blustering baby, and easily cowed, as you have seen. He is one of the Spencer John gang and has taken part in some dirty work of late which I may clear up when I have time. His immediate principal, Barney, is a more astute person. They specialize in assaults, intimidation, and the like. What I want to know is, who is at the back of them on this particular occasion?”

“But why do they want to intimidate you?”

“It is this Harrow Weald case. It decides me to look into the matter, for if it is worth anyone’s while to take so much trouble, there must be something in it.”

“But what is it?”

“I was going to tell you when we had this comic interlude. Here is Mrs. Maberley’s note. If you care to come with me we will wire her and go out at once.”

DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES [I read]:

I have had a succession of strange incidents occur to me in connection with this house, and I should much value your advice. You would find me at home any time to-morrow. The house is within a short walk of the Weald Station. I believe that my late husband, Mortimer Maberley, was one of your early clients.

Yours faithfully, MARY MABERLEY.

The address was “The Three Gables, Harrow Weald.”

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BILLY ADVANCED AND DREW AWAY THE DRAPERY.

It was pleasant to Dr. Watson to find himself once more in the untidy room of the first floor in Baker Street which had been the starting-point of so many remarkable adventures. He looked round him at the scientific charts upon the wall, the acid-charred bench of chemicals, the violin-case leaning in the corner, the coal-scuttle, which contained of old the pipes and tobacco. Finally, his eyes came round to the fresh and smiling face of Billy, the young but very wise and tactful page, who had helped a little to fill up the gap of loneliness and isolation which surrounded the saturnine figure of the great detective.

“It all seems very unchanged, Billy. You don’t change, either. I hope the same can be said of him?”

Billy glanced with some solicitude at the closed door of the bedroom.

“I think he’s in bed and asleep,” he said.

It was seven in the evening of a lovely summer’s day, but Dr. Watson was sufficiently familiar with the irregularity of his old friend’s hours to feel no surprise at the idea.

“That means a case, I suppose?”

“Yes, sir, he is very hard at it just now. I’m frightened for his health. He gets paler and thinner, and he eats nothing. ‘When will you be pleased to dine, Mr. Holmes?’ Mrs. Hudson asked. ‘Seven-thirty, the day after to-morrow,’ said he. You know his way when he is keen on a case.”

“Yes, Billy, I know.”

“He’s following someone. Yesterday he was out as a workman looking for a job. To-day he was an old woman. Fairly took me in, he did, and I ought to know his ways by now.” Billy pointed with a grin to a very baggy parasol which leaned against the sofa. “That’s part of the old woman’s outfit,” he said.

“But what is it all about, Billy?”

Billy sank his voice, as one who discusses great secrets of State. “I don’t mind telling you, sir, but it should go no farther. It’s this case of the Crown diamond.”

“What–the hundred-thousand-pound burglary?”

“Yes, sir. They must get it back, sir. Why, we had the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary both sitting on that very sofa. Mr. Holmes was very nice to them. He soon put them at their ease and promised he would do all he could. Then there is Lord Cantlemere–”

“Ah!”

“Yes, sir, you know what that means. He’s a stiff’un, sir, if I may say so. I can get along with the Prime Minister, and I’ve nothing against the Home Secretary, who seemed a civil, obliging sort of man, but I can’t stand his Lordship. Neither can Mr. Holmes, sir. You see, he don’t believe in Mr. Holmes and he was against employing him. He’d rather he failed.”

“And Mr. Holmes knows it?”

“Mr. Holmes always knows whatever there is to know.”

“Well, we’ll hope he won’t fail and that Lord Cantlemere will be confounded. But I say, Billy, what is that curtain for across the window?”

“Mr. Holmes had it put up there three days ago. We’ve got something funny behind it.”

BILLY ADVANCED AND DREW AWAY THE DRAPERY.
BILLY ADVANCED AND DREW AWAY THE DRAPERY.

Billy advanced and drew away the drapery which screened the alcove of the bow window.

Dr. Watson could not restrain a cry of amazement. There was a facsimile of his old friend, dressing-gown and all, the face turned three-quarters towards the window and downward, as though reading an invisible book, while the body was sunk deep in an armchair. Billy detached the head and held it in the air.

“We put it at different angles, so that it may seem more lifelike. I wouldn’t dare touch it if the blind were not down. But when it’s up you can see this from across the way.”

“We used something of the sort once before.”

“Before my time,” said Billy. He drew the window curtains apart and looked out into the street. “There are folk who watch us from over yonder. I can see a fellow now at the window. Have a look for yourself.”

Watson had taken a step forward when the bedroom door opened, and the long, thin form of Holmes emerged, his face pale and drawn, but his step and bearing as active as ever. With a single spring he was at the window, and had drawn the blind once more.

“That will do, Billy,” said he. “You were in danger of your life then, my boy, and I can’t do without you just yet. Well, Watson, it is good to see you in your old quarters once again. You come at a critical moment.”

“So I gather.”

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I LIT MY PIPE AND LEANED BACK IN MY CHAIR.

The ideas of my friend Watson, though limited, are exceedingly pertinacious. For a long time he has worried me to write an experience of my own. Perhaps I have rather invited this persecution, since I have often had occasion to point out to him how superficial are his own accounts and to accuse him of pandering to popular taste instead of confining himself rigidly to facts and figures. “Try it yourself, Holmes!” he has retorted, and I am compelled to admit that, having taken my pen in my hand, I do begin to realize that the matter must be presented in such a way as may interest the reader. The following case can hardly fail to do so, as it is among the strangest happenings in my collection though it chanced that Watson had no note of it in his collection. Speaking of my old friend and biographer, I would take this opportunity to remark that if I burden myself with a companion in my various little inquiries it is not done out of sentiment or caprice, but it is that Watson has some remarkable characteristics of his own to which in his modesty he has given small attention amid his exaggerated estimates of my own performances. A confederate who foresees your conclusions and course of action is always dangerous, but one to whom each development comes as a perpetual surprise, and to whom the future is always a closed book, is indeed an ideal helpmate.

I find from my notebook that it was in January, 1903, just after the conclusion of the Boer War, that I had my visit from Mr. James M. Dodd, a big, fresh, sunburned, upstanding Briton. The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association. I was alone.

It is my habit to sit with my back to the window and to place my visitors in the opposite chair, where the light falls full upon them. Mr. James M. Dodd seemed somewhat at a loss how to begin the interview. I did not attempt to help him, for his silence gave me more time for observation. I have found it wise to impress clients with a sense of power, and so I gave him some of my conclusions.

“From South Africa, sir, I perceive.”

“Yes, sir,” he answered, with some surprise.

“Imperial Yeomanry, I fancy.”

“Exactly.”

“Middlesex Corps, no doubt.”

“That is so. Mr. Holmes, you are a wizard.”

I smiled at his bewildered expression.

“When a gentleman of virile appearance enters my room with such tan upon his face as an English sun could never give, and with his handkerchief in his sleeve instead of in his pocket, it is not difficult to place him. You wear a short beard, which shows that you were not a regular. You have the cut of a riding-man. As to Middlesex, your card has already shown me that you are a stockbroker from Throgmorton Street. What other regiment would you join?”

“You see everything.”

“I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see. However, Mr. Dodd, it was not to discuss the science of observation that you called upon me this morning. What has been happening at Tuxbury Old Park?”

“Mr. Holmes–!”

“My dear sir, there is no mystery. Your letter came with that heading, and as you fixed this appointment in very pressing terms it was clear that something sudden and important had occurred.”

“Yes, indeed. But the letter was written in the afternoon, and a good deal has happened since then. If Colonel Emsworth had not kicked me out–”

“Kicked you out!”

“Well, that was what it amounted to. He is a hard nail, is Colonel Emsworth. The greatest martinet in the Army in his day, and it was a day of rough language, too. I couldn’t have stuck the colonel if it had not been for Godfrey’s sake.”

I LIT MY PIPE AND LEANED BACK IN MY CHAIR.
I LIT MY PIPE AND LEANED BACK IN MY CHAIR.

I lit my pipe and leaned back in my chair.

“Perhaps you will explain what you are talking about.”

My client grinned mischievously.

“I had got into the way of supposing that you knew everything without being told,” said he. “But I will give you the facts, and I hope to God that you will be able to tell me what they mean. I’ve been awake all night puzzling my brain, and the more I think the more incredible does it become.

“When I joined up in January, 1901–just two years ago–young Godfrey Emsworth had joined the same squadron. He was Colonel Emsworth’s only son–Emsworth the Crimean V. C.–and he had the fighting blood in him, so it is no wonder he volunteered. There was not a finer lad in the regiment. We formed a friendship–the sort of friendship which can only be made when one lives the same life and shares the same joys and sorrows. He was my mate–and that means a good deal in the Army. We took the rough and the smooth together for a year of hard fighting. Then he was hit with a bullet from an elephant gun in the action near Diamond Hill outside-Pretoria. I got one letter from the hospital at Cape Town and one from Southampton. Since then not a word–not one word, Mr. Holmes, for six months and more, and he my closest pal.

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FOR ANSWER HE HAD SHOT HIS LONG, THIN, NERVOUS ARM OUT OF THE SHEETS.

“It can’t hurt now,” was Mr. Sherlock Holmes’s comment when, for the tenth time in as many years, I asked his leave to reveal the following narrative. So it was that at last I obtained permission to put on record what was, in some ways, the supreme moment of my friend’s career.

Both Holmes and I had a weakness for the Turkish bath. It was over a smoke in the pleasant lassitude of the drying-room that I have found him less reticent and more human than anywhere else. On the upper floor of the Northumberland Avenue establishment there is an isolated corner where two couches lie side by side, and it was on these that we lay upon September 3, 1902, the day when my narrative begins. I had asked him whether anything was stirring, and for answer he had shot his long, thin, nervous arm out of the sheets which enveloped him and had drawn an envelope from the inside pocket of the coat which hung beside him.

FOR ANSWER HE HAD SHOT HIS LONG, THIN, NERVOUS ARM OUT OF THE SHEETS.
FOR ANSWER HE HAD SHOT HIS LONG, THIN, NERVOUS ARM OUT OF THE SHEETS.

“It may be some fussy, self-important fool; it may be a matter of life or death,” said he as he handed me the note. “I know no more than this message tells me.”

It was from the Carlton Club and dated the evening before. This is what I read:

Sir James Damery presents his compliments to Mr. Sherlock Holmes and will call upon him at 4:30 to-morrow. Sir James begs to say that the matter upon which he desires to consult Mr. Holmes is very delicate and also very important. He trusts, therefore, that Mr. Holmes will make every effort to grant this interview, and that he will confirm it over the telephone to the Carlton Club.

“I need not say that I have confirmed it, Watson,” said Holmes as I returned the paper. “Do you know anything of this man Damery?”

“Only that this name is a household word in society.”

“Well, I can tell you a little more than that. He has rather a reputation for arranging delicate matters which are to be kept out of the papers. You may remember his negotiations with Sir George Lewis over the Hammerford Will case. He is a man of the world with a natural turn for diplomacy. I am bound, therefore, to hope that it is not a false scent and that he has some real need for our assistance.”

“Our?”

“Well, if you will be so good, Watson.”

“I shall be honoured.”

“Then you have the hour–4:30. Until then we can put the matter out of our heads.”

I was living in my own rooms in Queen Anne Street at the time, but I was round at Baker Street before the time named. Sharp to the half-hour, Colonel Sir James Damery was announced. It is hardly necessary to describe him, for many will remember that large, bluff, honest personality, that broad, cleanshaven face, and, above all, that pleasant, mellow voice. Frankness shone from his gray Irish eyes, and good humour played round his mobile, smiling lips. His lucent top-hat, his dark frock-coat, indeed, every detail, from the pearl pin in the black satin cravat to the lavender spats over the varnished shoes, spoke of the meticulous care in dress for which he was famous. The big, masterful aristocrat dominated the little room.

“Of course, I was prepared to find Dr. Watson,” he remarked with a courteous bow. “His collaboration may be very necessary, for we are dealing on this occasion, Mr. Holmes, with a man to whom violence is familiar and who will, literally, stick at nothing. I should say that there is no more dangerous man in Europe.”

“I have had several opponents to whom that flattering term has been applied,” said Holmes with a smile. “Don’t you smoke? Then you will excuse me if I light my pipe. If your man is more dangerous than the late Professor Moriarty, or than the living Colonel Sebastian Moran, then he is indeed worth meeting. May I ask his name?”

“Have you ever heard of Baron Gruner?”

“You mean the Austrian murderer?”

COLONEL DAMERY THREW UP HIS KID-GLOVED HANDS WITH A LAUGH.
COLONEL DAMERY THREW UP HIS KID-GLOVED HANDS WITH A LAUGH.

Colonel Damery threw up his kid-gloved hands with a laugh. “There is no getting past you, Mr. Holmes! Wonderful! So you have already sized him up as a murderer?”

“It is my business to follow the details of Continental crime. Who could possibly have read what happened at Prague and have any doubts as to the man’s guilt! It was a purely technical legal point and the suspicious death of a witness that saved him! I am as sure that he killed his wife when the socalled ‘accident’ happened in the Splugen Pass as if I had seen him do it. I knew, also, that he had come to England and had a presentiment that sooner or later he would find me some work to do. Well, what has Baron Gruner been up to? I presume it is not this old tragedy which has come up again?”

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BESIDE IT SAT THE DEAD MAN, LEANING BACK IN HIS CHAIR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HE SPENT MUCH OF HIS TIME IN LONG WALKS.
HE SPENT MUCH OF HIS TIME IN LONG WALKS.

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

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

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

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HE SPENT HIS DAY UPON A LOUNGE-CHAIR ON THE VERANDA.

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

“English,” I answered in some surprise. “I got them at Latimer’s, in Oxford Street.”

Holmes smiled with an expression of weary patience.

“The bath!” he said; “the bath! Why the relaxing and expensive Turkish rather than the invigorating home-made article?”

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

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

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

“I don’t admit that a fresh illustration is an explanation,” said I with some asperity.

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

“That is very evident.”

“Absurdly commonplace, is it not?”

“But the boots and the bath?”

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

“What is that?”

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

“Splendid! But why?”

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

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

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

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

“What has happened to her, then?”

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

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

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

“To whom, and where?”

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

“And who is Miss Marie Devine?”

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I HEARD THE SHARP SNAP OF A TWISTED KEY.

Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman. Not only was her first-floor flat invaded at all hours by throngs of singular and often undesirable characters but her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularity in his life which must have sorely tried her patience. His incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his occasional revolver practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him made him the very worst tenant in London. On the other hand, his payments were princely. I have no doubt that the house might have been purchased at the price which Holmes paid for his rooms during the years that I was with him.

The landlady stood in the deepest awe of him and never dared to interfere with him, however outrageous his proceedings might seem. She was fond of him, too, for he had a remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked and distrusted the sex, but he was always a chivalrous opponent. Knowing how genuine was her regard for him, I listened earnestly to her story when she came to my rooms in the second year of my married life and told me of the sad condition to which my poor friend was reduced.

“He’s dying, Dr. Watson,” said she. “For three days he has been sinking, and I doubt if he will last the day. He would not let me get a doctor. This morning when I saw his bones sticking out of his face and his great bright eyes looking at me I could stand no more of it. ‘With your leave or without it, Mr. Holmes, I am going for a doctor this very hour,’ said I. ‘Let it be Watson, then,’ said he. I wouldn’t waste an hour in coming to him, sir, or you may not see him alive.”

I was horrified for I had heard nothing of his illness. I need not say that I rushed for my coat and my hat. As we drove back I asked for the details.

“There is little I can tell you, sir. He has been working at a case down at Rotherhithe, in an alley near the river, and he has brought this illness back with him. He took to his bed on Wednesday afternoon and has never moved since. For these three days neither food nor drink has passed his lips.”

“Good God! Why did you not call in a doctor?”

“He wouldn’t have it, sir. You know how masterful he is. I didn’t dare to disobey him. But he’s not long for this world, as you’ll see for yourself the moment that you set eyes on him.”

He was indeed a deplorable spectacle. In the dim light of a foggy November day the sick room was a gloomy spot, but it was that gaunt, wasted face staring at me from the bed which sent a chill to my heart. His eyes had the brightness of fever, there was a hectic flush upon either cheek, and dark crusts clung to his lips; the thin hands upon the coverlet twitched incessantly, his voice was croaking and spasmodic. He lay listlessly as I entered the room, but the sight of me brought a gleam of recognition to his eyes.

“Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days,” said he in a feeble voice, but with something of his old carelessness of manner.

“My dear fellow!” I cried, approaching him.

“Stand back! Stand right back!” said he with the sharp imperiousness which I had associated only with moments of crisis. “If you approach me, Watson, I shall order you out of the house.”

“But why?”

“Because it is my desire. Is that not enough?”

Yes, Mrs. Hudson was right. He was more masterful than ever. It was pitiful, however, to see his exhaustion.

“I only wished to help,” I explained.

“Exactly! You will help best by doing what you are told.”

“Certainly, Holmes.”

He relaxed the austerity of his manner.

“You are not angry?” he asked, gasping for breath.

Poor devil, how could I be angry when I saw him lying in such a plight before me?

“It’s for your own sake, Watson,” he croaked.

“For MY sake?”

“I know what is the matter with me. It is a coolie disease from Sumatra–a thing that the Dutch know more about than we, though they have made little of it up to date. One thing only is certain. It is infallibly deadly, and it is horribly contagious.”

He spoke now with a feverish energy, the long hands twitching and jerking as he motioned me away.

“Contagious by touch, Watson–that’s it, by touch. Keep your distance and all is well.”

“Good heavens, Holmes! Do you suppose that such a consideration weighs with me of an instant? It would not affect me in the case of a stranger. Do you imagine it would prevent me from doing my duty to so old a friend?”

Again I advanced, but he repulsed me with a look of furious anger.

“If you will stand there I will talk. If you do not you must leave the room.”

I have so deep a respect for the extraordinary qualities of Holmes that I have always deferred to his wishes, even when I least understood them. But now all my professional instincts were aroused. Let him be my master elsewhere, I at least was his in a sick room.

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