The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane

I TURNED OVER THE PAPER. “THIS NEVER CAME BY POST. HOW DID YOU GET IT?”

It is a most singular thing that a problem which was certainly as abstruse and unusual as any which I have faced in my long professional career should have come to me after my retirement, and be brought, as it were, to my very door. It occurred after my withdrawal to my little Sussex home, when I had given myself up entirely to that soothing life of Nature for which I had so often yearned during the long years spent amid the gloom of London. At this period of my life the good Watson had passed almost beyond my ken. An occasional week-end visit was the most that I ever saw of him. Thus I must act as my own chronicler. Ah! had he but been with me, how much he might have made of so wonderful a happening and of my eventual triumph against every difficulty! As it is, however, I must needs tell my tale in my own plain way, showing by my words each step upon the difficult road which lay before me as I searched for the mystery of the Lion’s Mane.

My villa is situated upon the southern slope of the downs, commanding a great view of the Channel. At this point the coast-line is entirely of chalk cliffs, which can only be descended by a single, long, tortuous path, which is steep and slippery. At the bottom of the path lie a hundred yards of pebbles and shingle, even when the tide is at full. Here and there, however, there are curves and hollows which make splendid swimming pools filled afresh with each flow. This admirable beach extends for some miles in each direction, save only at one point where the little cove and village of Fulworth break the line.

My house is lonely. I, my old housekeeper, and my bees have the estate all to ourselves. Half a mile off, however, is Harold Stackhurst’s well-known coaching establishment, The Gables, quite a large place, which contains some score of young fellows preparing for various professions, with a staff of several masters. Stackhurst himself was a well-known rowing Blue in his day, and an excellent all-round scholar. He and I were always friendly from the day I came to the coast, and he was the one man who was on such terms with me that we could drop in on each other in the evenings without an invitation.

Towards the end of July, 1907, there was a severe gale, the wind blowing up-channel, heaping the seas to the base of the cliffs and leaving a lagoon at the turn of the tide. On the morning of which I speak the wind had abated, and all Nature was newly washed and fresh. It was impossible to work upon so delightful a day, and I strolled out before breakfast to enjoy the exquisite air. I walked along the cliff path which led to the steep descent to the beach. As I walked I heard a shout behind me, and there was Harold Stackhurst waving his hand in cheery greeting.

“What a morning, Mr. Holmes! I thought I should see you out.”

“Going for a swim, I see.”

“At your old tricks again,” he laughed, patting his bulging pocket. “Yes. McPherson started early, and I expect I may find him there.”

Fitzroy McPherson was the science master, a fine upstanding young fellow whose life had been crippled by heart trouble following rheumatic fever. He was a natural athlete, however, and excelled in every game which did not throw too great a strain upon him. Summer and winter he went for his swim, and, as I am a swimmer myself, I have often joined him.

At this moment we saw the man himself. His head showed above the edge of the cliff where the path ends. Then his whole figure appeared at the top, staggering like a drunken man. The next instant he threw up his hands and, with a terrible cry, fell upon his face. Stackhurst and I rushed forward–it may have been fifty yards–and turned him on his back. He was obviously dying. Those glazed sunken eyes and dreadful livid cheeks could mean nothing else. One glimmer of life came into his face for an instant, and he uttered two or three words with an eager air of warning. They were slurred and indistinct, but to my ear the last of them, which burst in a shriek from his lips, were “the Lion’s Mane.” It was utterly irrelevant and unintelligible, and yet I could twist the sound into no other sense. Then he half raised himself from the ground, threw his arms into the air, and fell forward on his side. He was dead.

THE NEXT INSTANT HE THREW UP HIS HANDS, AND, WITH A TERRIBLE CRY, FELL UPON HIS FACE.
THE NEXT INSTANT HE THREW UP HIS HANDS, AND, WITH A TERRIBLE CRY, FELL UPON HIS FACE.

My companion was paralyzed by the sudden horror of it, but I, as may well be imagined, had every sense on the alert. And I had need, for it was speedily evident that we were in the presence of an extraordinary case. The man was dressed only in his Burberry overcoat, his trousers, and an unlaced pair of canvas shoes. As he fell over, his Burberry, which had been simply thrown round his shoulders, slipped off, exposing his trunk. We stared at it in amazement. His back was covered with dark red lines as though he had been terribly flogged by a thin wire scourge. The instrument with which this punishment had been inflicted was clearly flexible, for the long, angry weals curved round his shoulders and ribs. There was blood dripping down his chin, for he had bitten through his lower lip in the paroxysm of his agony. His drawn and distorted face told how terrible that agony had been.

I was kneeling and Stackhurst standing by the body when a shadow fell across us, and we found that Ian Murdoch was by our side. Murdoch was the mathematical coach at the establishment, a tall, dark, thin man, so taciturn and aloof that none can be said to have been his friend. He seemed to live in some high abstract region of surds and conic sections, with little to connect him with ordinary life. He was looked upon as an oddity by the students, and would have been their butt, but there was some strange outlandish blood in the man, which showed itself not only in his coal-black eyes and swarthy face but also in occasional outbreaks of temper, which could only be described as ferocious. On one occasion, being plagued by a little dog belonging to McPherson, he had caught the creature up and hurled it through the plate-glass window, an action for which Stackhurst would certainly have given him his dismissal had he not been a very valuable teacher. Such was the strange complex man who now appeared beside us. He seemed to be honestly shocked at the sight before him, though the incident of the dog may show that there was no great sympathy between the dead man and himself.

“Poor fellow! Poor fellow! What can I do? How can I help?”

“Were you with him? Can you tell us what has happened?”

“No, no, I was late this morning. I was not on the beach at all. I have come straight from The Gables. What can I do?”

“You can hurry to the police-station at Fulworth. Report the matter at once.”

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The Adventure of the Creeping Man

Mr. Sherlock Holmes was always of opinion that I should publish the singular facts connected with Professor Presbury, if only to dispel once for all the ugly rumours which some twenty years ago agitated the university and were echoed in the learned societies of London. There were, however, certain obstacles in the way, and the true history of this curious case remained entombed in the tin box which contains so many records of my friend’s adventures. Now we have at last obtained permission to ventilate the facts which formed one of the very last cases handled by Holmes before his retirement from practice. Even now a certain reticence and discretion have to be observed in laying the matter before the public.

It was one Sunday evening early in September of the year 1903 that I received one of Holmes’s laconic messages:

Come at once if convenient–if inconvenient come all the same. S.H.

The relations between us in those latter days were peculiar. He was a man of habits, narrow and concentrated habits, and I had become one of them. As an institution I was like the violin, the shag tobacco, the old black pipe, the index books, and others perhaps less excusable. When it was a case of active work and a comrade was needed upon whose nerve he could place some reliance, my role was obvious. But apart from this I had uses. I was a whetstone for his mind. I stimulated him. He liked to think aloud in my presence. His remarks could hardly be said to be made to me–many of them would have been as appropriately addressed to his bedstead–but none the less, having formed the habit, it had become in some way helpful that I should register and interject. If I irritated him by a certain methodical slowness in my mentality, that irritation served only to make his own flame-like intuitions and impressions flash up the more vividly and swiftly. Such was my humble role in our alliance.

When I arrived at Baker Street I found him huddled up in his armchair with updrawn knees, his pipe in his mouth and his brow furrowed with thought. It was clear that he was in the throes of some vexatious problem. With a wave of his hand he indicated my old armchair, but otherwise for half an hour he gave no sign that he was aware of my presence. Then with a start he seemed to come from his reverie, and with his usual whimsical smile he greeted me back to what had once been my home.

“You will excuse a certain abstraction of mind, my dear Watson,” said he. “Some curious facts have been submitted to me within the last twenty-four hours, and they in turn have given rise to some speculations of a more general character. I have serious thoughts of writing a small monograph upon the uses of dogs in the work of the detective.”

“But surely, Holmes, this has been explored,” said I. “Bloodhounds– sleuth-hounds–”

“No, no, Watson, that side of the matter is, of course, obvious. But there is another which is far more subtle. You may recollect that in the case which you, in your sensational way, coupled with the Copper Beeches, I was able, by watching the mind of the child, to form a deduction as to the criminal habits of the very smug and respectable father.”

“Yes, I remember it well.”

“My line of thoughts about dogs is analogous. A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. And their passing moods may reflect the passing moods of others.”

I shook my head. “Surely, Holmes, this is a little far-fetched,” said I.

He had refilled his pipe and resumed his seat, taking no notice of my comment.

“The practical application of what I have said is very close to the problem which I am investigating. It is a tangled skein, you understand. and I am looking for a loose end. One possible loose end lies in the question: Why does Professor Presbury’s wolfhound, Roy, endeavour to bite him?”

I sank back in my chair in some disappointment. Was it for so trivial a question as this that I had been summoned from my work? Holmes glanced across at me.

“The same old Watson!” said he. “You never learn that the gravest issues may depend upon the smallest things. But is it not on the face of it strange that a staid, elderly philosopher–you’ve heard of Presbury, of course, the famous Camford physiologist?–that such a man, whose friend has been his devoted wolfhound, should now have been twice attacked by his own dog? What do you make of it?”

“The dog is ill.”

“Well, that has to be considered. But he attacks no one else, nor does he apparently molest his master, save on very special occasions. Curious, Watson–very curious. But young Mr. Bennett is before his time if that is his ring. I had hoped to have a longer chat with you before he came.”

There was a quick step on the stairs, a sharp tap at the door and a moment later the new client presented himself. He was a tall, handsome youth about thirty, well dressed and elegant, but with something in his bearing which suggested the shyness of the student rather than the self-possession of the man of the world. He shook hands with Holmes, and then looked with some surprise at me.

THERE WAS A QUICK STEP ON THE STAIRS, A SHARP RAP AT THE DOOR, AND A MOMENT LATER THE NEW CLIENT PRESENTED HIMSELF.
THERE WAS A QUICK STEP ON THE STAIRS, A SHARP RAP AT THE DOOR, AND A MOMENT LATER THE NEW CLIENT PRESENTED HIMSELF.

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The Problem of Thor Bridge

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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The Adventure of the Three Garridebs

“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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The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

“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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The Adventure of the Three Gables

“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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The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

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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The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier

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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The Adventure of the Illustrious Client

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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Chapter L: Winds up the Thread and Ties Two Knots at the End

The Firm of Girdlestone

The Firm of Girdlestone

Great was the excitement of the worthy couple at Phillimore Gardens when Kate Harston was brought back to them. Good Mrs. Dimsdale pressed her to her ample bosom and kissed her, and scolded her, and wept over her, while the doctor was so moved that it was only by assuming an expression of portentous severity and by bellowing and stamping about that he was able to keep himself in decent control.

“And you really thought we had forgotten you because we were insane enough to stop writing at that villain’s request?” he said, patting Kate’s pale cheeks tenderly and kissing her.

“I was very foolish,” she said, blushing prettily and rearranging her hair, which had been somewhat tumbled by her numerous caresses.

“Oh, that scoundrel—that pair of scoundrels!” roared the doctor, shaking his fist and dancing about on the hearth-rug. “Pray God they may catch ’em before the trial comes off!”

The good physician’s prayer was not answered in this case, for Burt was the only criminal who appeared in the dock. Our friends all went down to the Winchester Assizes to give evidence, and the navvy was duly convicted of the death of Rebecca Taylforth and condemned to death. He was executed some three weeks afterwards, dying as he had lived, stolid and unrepenting.

There is a little unpretending church not far from Phillimore Gardens, in which a little unpretending clergyman preaches every Sunday out of a very shabby pulpit. It lies in Castle Lane, which is a narrow by-way, and the great crowd of church-goers ebbs and flows within a hundred yards of it, but none know of its existence, for it has never risen to the dignity of a spire, and the bell is so very diminutive that the average muffin man produces quite as much noise. Hence, with the exception of some few families who have chanced to find their way there, and have been so pleased with their spiritual welcome that they have returned, there is a poor and fluctuating congregation. So scanty is it that the struggling incumbent could very well weep when he has spent the week in polishing and strengthening his sermon, and then finds upon the Sunday how very scanty is the audience to whom it is to be addressed.

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