In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the
University of London , and proceeded to Netley to go through the course
prescribed for surgeons in the Army .
Having completed my
studies there , I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland
Fusiliers as assistant surgeon .
The regiment was stationed in
India at the time , and before I could join it , the second Afghan war
had broken out .
On landing at Bombay , I learned that my corps
had advanced through the passes , and was already deep in the enemy's
I followed , however , with many other officers who
were in the same situation as myself , and succeeded in reaching
Candahar in safety , where I found my regiment , and at once entered
upon my new duties .
The campaign brought honours and promotion to many , but for me
it had nothing but misfortune and disaster .
I was removed
from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires , with whom I served at
the fatal battle of Maiwand .
There I was struck on the
shoulder by a Jezail bullet , which shattered the bone and grazed the
subclavian artery .
I should have fallen into the hands of the
murderous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and courage shown by
Murray , my orderly , who threw me across a packhorse , and succeeded in
bringing me safely to the British lines .
Worn with pain , and weak from the prolonged hardships which I
had undergone , I was removed , with a great train of wounded sufferers ,
to the base hospital at Peshawar .
Here I rallied , and had
already improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards , and
even to bask a little upon the veranda when I was struck down by
enteric fever , that curse of our Indian possessions .
months my life was despaired of , and when at last I came to myself and
became convalescent , I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board
determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to
I was despatched accordingly , in the troopship
Orontes , and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty , with my health
irretrievably ruined , but with permission from a paternal government
to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it .
I had neither kith nor kin in England , and was therefore as
free as air -- or as free as an income of eleven shillings and
sixpence a day will permit a man to be .
circumstances I naturally gravitated to London , that great cesspool
into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly
There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in
the Strand , leading a comfortless , meaningless existence , and spending
such money as I had , considerably more freely than I ought .
So alarming did the state of my finances become , that I soon realized
that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the
country , or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of
Choosing the latter alternative , I began by making up
my mind to leave the hotel , and take up my quarters in some less
pretentious and less expensive domicile .
On the very day that I had come to this conclusion , I was
standing at the Criterion Bar , when someone tapped me on the shoulder ,
and turning round I recognized young Stamford , who had been a dresser
under me at Bart's .
The sight of a friendly face in the great
wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man .
In old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine ,
but now I hailed him with enthusiasm , and he , in his turn , appeared to
be delighted to see me .
In the exuberance of my joy , I asked
him to lunch with me at the Holborn , and we started off together in a
" Whatever have you been doing with yourself , Watson ? " he asked
in undisguised wonder , as we rattled through the crowded London
" You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut . "
I gave him a short sketch of my adventures , and had hardly
concluded it by the time that we reached our destination .
" Poor devil ! " he said , commiseratingly , after he had listened
to my misfortunes .
" What are you up to now ? "
" Looking for lodgings , " I answered .
" Trying to solve
the problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a
reasonable price . "
" That's a strange thing , " remarked my companion ; " you are the
second man today that has used that expression to me . "
" And who was the first ? " I asked .
" A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the
He was bemoaning himself this morning because he
could not get someone to go halves with him in some nice rooms which
he had found , and which were too much for his purse . "
" By Jove ! " I cried ; " if he really wants someone to share the
rooms and the expense , I am the very man for him .
prefer having a partner to being alone . "
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his
" You don't know Sherlock Holmes yet , " he said ;
" perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion . "
" Why , what is there against him ? "
" Oh , I didn't say there was anything against him .
is a little queer in his ideas -- an enthusiast in some branches of
As far as I know he is a decent fellow enough . "
" A medical student , I suppose ? " said I .
" No -- I have no idea what he intends to go in for .
believe he is well up in anatomy , and he is a first-class chemist ;
but , as far as I know , he has never taken out any systematic medical
His studies are very desultory and eccentric , but he
has amassed a lot of out-of-the-way knowledge which would astonish his
professors . "
" Did you never ask him what he was going in for ? " I asked .
" No ; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out , though he
can be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him . "
" I should like to meet him , " I said .
" If I am to
lodge with anyone , I should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits .
I am not strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement .
I had enough of both in Afghanistan to last me for the
remainder of my natural existence .
How could I meet this
friend of yours ? "
" He is sure to be at the laboratory , " returned my companion .
" He either avoids the place for weeks , or else he works there
from morning till night .
If you like , we will drive round
together after luncheon . "
" Certainly , " I answered , and the conversation drifted away
into other channels .
As we made our way to the hospital after leaving the Holborn ,
Stamford gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman whom I
proposed to take as a fellow-lodger .
" You mustn't blame me if you don't get on with him , " he said ;
" I know nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him
occasionally in the laboratory .
You proposed this
arrangement , so you must not hold me responsible . "
" If we don't get on it will be easy to part company , " I
" It seems to me , Stamford , " I added , looking hard
at my companion , " that you have some reason for washing your hands of
the matter .
Is this fellow's temper so formidable , or what is
Don't be mealymouthed about it . "
" It is not easy to express the inexpressible , " he answered
with a laugh .
" Holmes is a little too scientific for my
tastes -- it approaches to cold-bloodedness .
I could imagine
his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid ,
not out of malevolence , you understand , but simply out of a spirit of
inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects .
do him justice , I think that he would take it himself with the same
He appears to have a passion for definite and
exact knowledge . "
" Very right too . "
" Yes , but it may be pushed to excess .
When it comes
to beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick , it is
certainly taking rather a bizarre shape . "
" Beating the subjects ! "
" Yes , to verify how far bruises may be produced after death .
I saw him at it with my own eyes . "
" And yet you say he is not a medical student ? "
" No .
Heaven knows what the objects of his studies
But here we are , and you must form your own impressions
about him . "
As he spoke , we turned down a narrow lane and
passed through a small side-door , which opened into a wing of the
great hospital .
It was familiar ground to me , and I needed no
guiding as we ascended the bleak stone staircase and made our way down
the long corridor with its vista of whitewashed wall and dun-coloured
Near the farther end a low arched passage branched
away from it and led to the chemical laboratory .
This was a lofty chamber , lined and littered with countless
Broad , low tables were scattered about , which
bristled with retorts , test-tubes , and little Bunsen lamps , with their
blue flickering flames .
There was only one student in the
room , who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work .
At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet
with a cry of pleasure .
" I've found it !
it , " he shouted to my companion , running towards us with a test-tube
in his hand .
" I have found a re-agent which is precipitated
by haemoglobin , and by nothing else . "
Had he discovered a
gold mine , greater delight could not have shone upon his features .
" Dr. Watson , Mr. Sherlock Holmes , " said Stamford , introducing
" How are you ? " he said cordially , gripping my hand with a
strength for which I should hardly have given him credit .
" You have been in Afghanistan , I perceive . "
" How on earth did you know that ? " I asked in astonishment .
" Never mind , " said he , chuckling to himself " The question now
is about haemoglobin .
No doubt you see the significance of
this discovery of mine ? "
" It is interesting , chemically , no doubt , " I answered , " but
" Why , man , it is the most practical medico-legal discovery for
Don't you see that it gives us an infallible test for
blood stains ?
Come over here now ! "
He seized me by
the coat-sleeve in his eagerness , and drew me over to the table at
which he had been working .
" Let us have some fresh blood , " he
said , digging a long bodkin into his finger , and drawing off the
resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette .
" Now , I add
this small quantity of blood to a litre of water .
perceive that the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water .
The proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a million .
I have no doubt , however , that we shall be able to obtain the
characteristic reaction . "
As he spoke , he threw into the
vessel a few white crystals , and then added some drops of a
transparent fluid .
In an instant the contents assumed a dull
mahogany colour , and a brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of
the glass jar .
" Ha ! ha ! " he cried , clapping his hands , and looking as
delighted as a child with a new toy .
" What do you think of
that ? "
" It seems to be a very delicate test , " I remarked .
" Beautiful ! beautiful !
The old guaiacum test was very
clumsy and uncertain .
So is the microscopic examination for
blood corpuscles .
The latter is valueless if the stains are a
few hours old .
Now , this appears to act as well whether the
blood is old or new .
Had this test been invented , there are
hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the
penalty of their crimes . "
" Indeed ! " I murmured .
" Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point .
A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has
been committed .
His linen or clothes are examined and
brownish stains discovered upon them .
Are they blood stains ,
or mud stains , or rust stains , or fruit stains , or what are they ?
That is a question which has puzzled many an expert , and why ?
Because there was no reliable test .
Now we have the
Sherlock Holmes's test , and there will no longer be any difficulty . "
His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke , and he put his hand
over his heart and bowed as if to some applauding crowd conjured up by
his imagination .
" You are to be congratulated , " I remarked , considerably
surprised at his enthusiasm .
" There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year .
He would certainly have been hung had this test been in
Then there was Mason of Bradford , and the
notorious Muller , and Lefevre of Montpellier , and Samson of New
I could name a score of cases in which it would have
been decisive . "
" You seem to be a walking calendar of crime , " said Stamford
with a laugh .
" You might start a paper on those lines .
Call it the ' Police News of the Past . ' "
" Very interesting reading it might be made , too , " remarked
Sherlock Holmes , sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick on
his finger .
" I have to be careful , " he continued , turning to
me with a smile , " for I dabble with poisons a good deal . "
held out his hand as he spoke , and I noticed that it was all mottled
over with similar pieces of plaster , and discoloured with strong
" We came here on business , " said Stamford , sitting down on a
high three-legged stool , and pushing another one in my direction with
his foot .
" My friend here wants to take diggings ; and as you
were complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you , I
thought that I had better bring you together . "
Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his
rooms with me .
" I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street , " he
said , " which would suit us down to the ground .
You don't mind
the smell of strong tobacco , I hope ? "
" I always smoke ' ship's ' myself , " I answered .
" That's good enough .
I generally have chemicals
about , and occasionally do experiments .
Would that annoy
you ? "
" By no means . "
" Let me see -- what are my other shortcomings ?
in the dumps at times , and don't open my mouth for days on end .
You must not think I am sulky when I do that .
Just let me
alone , and I'll soon be right .
What have you to confess now ?
It's just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one
another before they begin to live together . "
I laughed at this cross-examination .
" I keep a bull
pup , " I said , " and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken , and
I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours , and I am extremely lazy .
I have another set of vices when I'm well , but those are the
principal ones at present . "
" Do you include violin playing in your category of rows ? " he
asked , anxiously .
" It depends on the player , " I answered .
well-played violin is a treat for the gods -- a badly played one -- "
" Oh , that's all right , " he cried , with a merry laugh .
" I think we may consider the thing as settled -- that is if the rooms
are agreeable to you . "
" When shall we see them ? "
" Call for me here at noon to-morrow , and we'll go together and
settle everything , " he answered .
" All right -- noon exactly , " said I , shaking his hand .
We left him working among his chemicals , and we walked
together towards my hotel .
" By the way , " I asked suddenly , stopping and turning upon
Stamford , " how the deuce did he know that I had come from
Afghanistan ? "
My companion smiled an enigmatical smile .
just his little peculiarity , " he said .
" A good many people
have wanted to know how he finds things out . "
" Oh ! a mystery is it ? " I cried , rubbing my hands .
" This is very piquant .
I am much obliged to you for bringing
us together .
' The proper study of mankind is man , ' you know . "
" You must study him , then , " Stamford said , as he bade me
" You'll find him a knotty problem , though .
I'll wager he learns more about you than you about him .
Good-bye . "
" Good-bye , " I answered , and strolled on to my hotel ,
considerably interested in my new acquaintance .
We met next day as he had arranged , and inspected the rooms at
No. 221B , Baker Street , of which he had spoken at our meeting .
They consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single
large airy sitting-room , cheerfully furnished , and illuminated by two
broad windows .
So desirable in every way were the apartments ,
and so moderate did the terms seem when divided between us , that the
bargain was concluded upon the spot , and we at once entered into
That very evening I moved my things round from
the hotel , and on the following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me
with several boxes and portmanteaus .
For a day or two we were
busily employed in unpacking and laying out our property to the best
That done , we gradually began to settle down and
to accommodate ourselves to our new surroundings .
Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with .
He was quiet in his ways , and his habits were regular .
was rare for him to be up after ten at night , and he had invariably
breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning .
Sometimes he spent his day at the chemical laboratory , sometimes in
the dissecting-rooms , and occasionally in long walks , which appeared
to take him into the lowest portions of the city .
could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him ; but now and
again a reaction would seize him , and for days on end he would lie
upon the sofa in the sitting-room , hardly uttering a word or moving a
muscle from morning to night .
On these occasions I have
noticed such a dreamy , vacant expression in his eyes , that I might
have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic , had
not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a
As the weeks went by , my interest in him and my curiosity as
to his aims in life gradually deepened and increased .
very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the
most casual observer .
In height he was rather over six feet ,
and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller .
His eyes were sharp and piercing , save during those intervals of
torpor to which I have alluded ; and his thin , hawk-like nose gave his
whole expression an air of alertness and decision .
His chin ,
too , had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of
His hands were invariably blotted with ink and
stained with chemicals , yet he was possessed of extraordinary delicacy
of touch , as I frequently had occasion to observe when I watched him
manipulating his fragile philosophical instruments .
The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody , when I
confess how much this man stimulated my curiosity , and how often I
endeavoured to break through the reticence which he showed on all that
concerned himself .
Before pronouncing judgement , however , be
it remembered how objectless was my life , and how little there was to
engage my attention .
My health forbade me from venturing out
unless the weather was exceptionally genial , and I had no friends who
would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence .
Under these circumstances , I eagerly hailed the little mystery
which hung around my companion , and spent much of my time in
endeavouring to unravel it .
He was not studying medicine .
He had himself , in
reply to a question , confirmed Stamford's opinion upon that point .
Neither did he appear to have pursued any course of reading
which might fit him for a degree , in science or any other recognized
portal which would give him an entrance into the learned world .
Yet his zeal for certain studies was remarkable , and within
eccentric limits his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample and minute
that his observations have fairly astounded me .
Surely no man
would work so hard or attain such precise information unless he had
some definite end in view .
Desultory readers are seldom
remarkable for the exactness of their learning .
burdens his mind with small matters unless he has some very good
reason for doing so .
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge .
contemporary literature , philosophy and politics he appeared to know
next to nothing .
Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle , he inquired
in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done .
surprise reached a climax , however , when I found incidentally that he
was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the
Solar System .
That any civilized human being in this
nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round
the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could
hardly realize it .
" You appear to be astonished , " he said , smiling at my
expression of surprise .
" Now that I do know it I shall do my
best to forget it . "
" To forget it ! "
" You see , " he explained , " I consider that a man's brain
originally is like a little empty attic , and you have to stock it with
such furniture as you choose .
A fool takes in all the lumber
of every sort that he comes across , so that the knowledge which might
be useful to him gets crowded out , or at best is jumbled up with a lot
of other things , so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon
Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what
he takes into his brain-attic .
He will have nothing but the
tools which may help him in doing his work , but of these he has a
large assortment , and all in the most perfect order .
It is a
mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can
distend to any extent .
Depend upon it there comes a time when
for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew
It is of the highest importance , therefore , not to
have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones . "
" But the Solar System ! " I protested .
" What the deuce is it to me ? " he interrupted impatiently : " you
say that we go round the sun .
If we went round the moon it
would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work . "
I was on the point of asking him what that work might be , but
something in his manner showed me that the question would be an
unwelcome one .
I pondered over our short conversation
however , and endeavoured to draw my deductions from it .
said that he would acquire no knowledge which did not bear upon his
Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed was
such as would be useful to him .
I enumerated in my own mind
all the various points upon which he had shown me that he was
exceptionally well informed .
I even took a pencil and jotted
them down .
I could not help smiling at the document when I
had completed it .
It ran in this way :
Sherlock Holmes -- his limits
1. Knowledge of
Literature . -- Nil .
2. " " Philosophy . -- Nil .
" " Astronomy . -- Nil .
4. " " Politics . -- Feeble .
5. " " Botany . -- Variable .
Well up in belladonna ,
opium , and poisons generally .
Knows nothing of practical
6. Knowledge of Geology . -- Practical , but
Tells at a glance different soils from each other .
After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers , and told
me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had
received them .
7. Knowledge of Chemistry . -- Profound .
8. " " Anatomy . -- Accurate , but unsystematic
9. " "
Sensational Literature . -- Immense .
He appears to know every
detail of every horror perpetrated in the century .
the violin well .
11. Is an expert singlestick player , boxer ,
and swordsman .
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British
When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the fire in
" If I can only find what the fellow is driving at by
reconciling all these accomplishments , and discovering a calling which
needs them all , " I said to myself , " I may as well give up the attempt
at once . "
I see that I have alluded above to his powers upon the violin .
These were very remarkable , but as eccentric as all his other
That he could play pieces , and difficult
pieces , I knew well , because at my request he has played me some of
Mendelssohn's Lieder , and other favourites .
When left to
himself , however , he would seldom produce any music or attempt any
recognized air .
Leaning back in his armchair of an evening ,
he would close his eyes and scrape carelessly at the fiddle which was
thrown across his knee .
Sometimes the chords were sonorous
and melancholy .
Occasionally they were fantastic and
Clearly they reflected the thoughts which possessed
him , but whether the music aided those thoughts , or whether the
playing was simply the result of a whim or fancy , was more than I
could determine .
I might have rebelled against these
exasperating solos had it not been that he usually terminated them by
playing in quick succession a whole series of my favourite airs as a
slight compensation for the trial upon my patience .
During the first week or so we had no callers , and I had begun
to think that my companion was as friendless a man as I was myself .
Presently , however , I found that he had many acquaintances ,
and those in the most different classes of society .
one little sallow , rat-faced , dark-eyed fellow , who was introduced to
me as Mr. Lestrade , and who came three or four times in a single week .
One morning a young girl called , fashionably dressed , and
stayed for half an hour or more .
The same afternoon brought a
gray-headed , seedy visitor , looking like a Jew peddler , who appeared
to me to be much excited , and who was closely followed by a slipshod
elderly woman .
On another occasion an old white-haired
gentleman had an interview with my companion ; and on another , a
railway porter in his velveteen uniform .
When any of these
nondescript individuals put in an appearance , Sherlock Holmes used to
beg for the use of the sitting-room , and I would retire to my bedroom .
He always apologized to me for putting me to this
" I have to use this room as a place of
business , " he said , " and these people are my clients . "
I had an opportunity of asking him a point-blank question , and again
my delicacy prevented me from forcing another man to confide in me .
I imagined at the time that he had some strong reason for not
alluding to it , but he soon dispelled the idea by coming round to the
subject of his own accord .
It was upon the 4th of March , as I have good reason to
remember , that I rose somewhat earlier than usual , and found that
Sherlock Holmes had not yet finished his breakfast .
landlady had become so accustomed to my late habits that my place had
not been laid nor my coffee prepared .
With the unreasonable
petulance of mankind I rang the bell and gave a curt intimation that I
was ready .
Then I picked up a magazine from the table and
attempted to while away the time with it , while my companion munched
silently at his toast .
One of the articles had a pencil mark
at the heading , and I naturally began to run my eye through it .
Its somewhat ambitious title was " The Book of Life , " and it
attempted to show how much an observant man might learn by an accurate
and systematic examination of all that came in his way .
struck me as being a remarkable mixture of shrewdness and of
The reasoning was close and intense , but the
deductions appeared to me to be far fetched and exaggerated .
The writer claimed by a momentary expression , a twitch of a muscle or
a glance of an eye , to fathom a man's inmost thoughts .
Deceit , according to him , was an impossibility in the case of one
trained to observation and analysis .
His conclusions were as
infallible as so many propositions of Euclid .
would his results appear to the uninitiated that until they learned
the processes by which he had arrived at them they might well consider
him as a necromancer .
" From a drop of water , " said the writer , " a logician could
infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen
or heard of one or the other .
So all life is a great chain ,
the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of
Like all other arts , the Science of Deduction and
Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study ,
nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest
possible perfection in it .
Before turning to those moral and
mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties ,
let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems .
Let him , on meeting a fellow-mortal , learn at a glance to distinguish
the history of the man , and the trade or profession to which he
Puerile as such an exercise may seem , it sharpens
the faculties of observation , and teaches one where to look and what
to look for .
By a man's finger-nails , by his coat-sleeve , by
his boots , by his trouser-knees , by the callosities of his forefinger
and thumb , by his expression , by his shirtcuffs -- by each of these
things a man's calling is plainly revealed .
That all united
should fail to enlighten the competent inquirer in any case is almost
inconceivable . "
" What ineffable twaddle ! " I cried , slapping the magazine down
on the table ; " I never read such rubbish in my life . "
" What is it ? " asked Sherlock Holmes .
" Why , this article , " I said , pointing at it with my eggspoon
as I sat down to my breakfast .
" I see that you have read it
since you have marked it .
I don't deny that it is smartly
It irritates me , though .
It is evidently
the theory of some armchair lounger who evolves all these neat little
paradoxes in the seclusion of his own study .
It is not
I should like to see him clapped down in a
third-class carriage on the Underground , and asked to give the trades
of all his fellow-travellers .
I would lay a thousand to one
against him . "
" You would lose your money , " Holmes remarked calmly .
" As for the article , I wrote it myself . "
" You ! "
" Yes ; I have a turn both for observation and for deduction .
The theories which I have expressed there , and which appear
to you to be so chimerical , are really extremely practical -- so
practical that I depend upon them for my bread and cheese . "
" And how ? " I asked involuntarily .
" Well , I have a trade of my own .
I suppose I am the
only one in the world .
I'm a consulting detective , if you can
understand what that is .
Here in London we have lots of
government detectives and lots of private ones .
fellows are at fault , they come to me , and I manage to put them on the
right scent .
They lay all the evidence before me , and I am
generally able , by the help of my knowledge of the history of crime ,
to set them straight .
There is a strong family resemblance
about misdeeds , and if you have all the details of a thousand at your
finger ends , it is odd if you can't unravel the thousand and first .
Lestrade is a well-known detective .
He got himself
into a fog recently over a forgery case , and that was what brought him
here . "
" And these other people ? "
" They are mostly sent on by private inquiry agencies .
They are all people who are in trouble about something and want a
little enlightening .
I listen to their story , they listen to
my comments , and then I pocket my fee . "
" But do you mean to say , " I said , " that without leaving your
room you can unravel some knot which other men can make nothing of ,
although they have seen every detail for themselves ? "
" Quite so .
I have a kind of intuition that way .
and again a case turns up which is a little more complex .
Then I have to bustle about and see things with my own eyes .
You see I have a lot of special knowledge which I apply to the
problem , and which facilitates matters wonderfully .
rules of deduction laid down in that article which aroused your scorn
are invaluable to me in practical work .
Observation with me
is second nature .
You appeared to be surprised when I told
you , on our first meeting , that you had come from Afghanistan . "
" You were told , no doubt . "
" Nothing of the sort .
I knew you came from
From long habit the train of thoughts ran so
swiftly through my mind that I arrived at the conclusion without being
conscious of intermediate steps .
There were such steps ,
The train of reasoning ran , ' Here is a gentleman of
a medical type , but with the air of a military man .
an army doctor , then .
He has just come from the tropics , for
his face is dark , and that is not the natural tint of his skin , for
his wrists are fair .
He has undergone hardship and sickness ,
as his haggard face says clearly .
His left arm has been
He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner .
Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much
hardship and got his arm wounded ?
Clearly in Afghanistan . '
The whole train of thought did not occupy a second .
I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan , and you were
astonished . "
" It is simple enough as you explain it , " I said , smiling .
" You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin .
I had no idea
that such individuals did exist outside of stories . "
Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe .
" No doubt you
think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin , " he
" Now , in my opinion , Dupin was a very inferior
That trick of his of breaking in on his friends'
thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence
is really very showy and superficial .
He had some analytical
genius , no doubt ; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe
appeared to imagine . "
" Have you read Gaboriau's works ? " I asked .
Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective ? "
Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically .
" Lecoq was a
miserable bungler , " he said , in an angry voice ; " he had only one thing
to recommend him , and that was his energy .
That book made me
positively ill .
The question was how to identify an unknown
I could have done it in twenty-four hours .
Lecoq took six months or so .
It might be made a textbook for
detectives to teach them what to avoid . "
I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had
admired treated in this cavalier style .
I walked over to the
window and stood looking out into the busy street .
fellow may be very clever , " I said to myself , " but he is certainly
very conceited . "
" There are no crimes and no criminals in these days , " he said ,
" What is the use of having brains in our
I know well that I have it in me to make my name
No man lives or has ever lived who has brought the
same amount of study and of natural talent to the detection of crime
which I have done .
And what is the result ?
no crime to detect , or , at most , some bungling villainy with a motive
so transparent that even a Scotland Yard official can see through it . "
I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of conversation .
I thought it best to change the topic .
" I wonder what that fellow is looking for ? " I asked , pointing
to a stalwart , plainly dressed individual who was walking slowly down
the other side of the street , looking anxiously at the numbers .
He had a large blue envelope in his hand , and was evidently the
bearer of a message .
" You mean the retired sergeant of Marines , " said Sherlock
" Brag and bounce ! " thought I to myself .
" He knows
that I cannot verify his guess . "
The thought had hardly passed through my mind when the man
whom we were watching caught sight of the number on our door , and ran
rapidly across the roadway .
We heard a loud knock , a deep
voice below , and heavy steps ascending the stair .
" For Mr. Sherlock Holmes , " he said , stepping into the room and
handing my friend the letter .
Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit out of him .
He little thought of this when he made that random shot .
" May I ask , my lad , " I said , in the blandest voice , " what your trade
may be ? "
" Commissionaire , sir , " he said , gruffly .
away for repairs . "
" And you were ? " I asked , with a slightly malicious glance at
my companion .
" A sergeant , sir , Royal Marine Light Infantry , sir .
No answer ?
Right , sir . "
He clicked his heels together , raised his hand in salute , and
was gone .
I confess that I was considerably startled by this fresh proof
of the practical nature of my companion's theories .
respect for his powers of analysis increased wondrously .
There still remained some lurking suspicion in my mind , however , that
the whole thing was a prearranged episode , intended to dazzle me ,
though what earthly object he could have in taking me in was past my
When I looked at him , he had finished reading
the note , and his eyes had assumed the vacant , lacklustre expression
which showed mental abstraction .
" How in the world did you deduce that ? " I asked .
" Deduce what ? " said he , petulantly .
" Why , that he was a retired sergeant of Marines . "
" I have no time for trifles , " he answered , brusquely , then
with a smile , " Excuse my rudeness .
You broke the thread of my
thoughts ; but perhaps it is as well .
So you actually were not
able to see that that man was a sergeant of Marines ? "
" No , indeed . "
" It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it .
If you were asked to prove that two and two made four , you might
find some difficulty , and yet you are quite sure of the fact .
Even across the street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed on the
back of the fellow's hand .
That smacked of the sea .
He had a military carriage , however , and regulation side whiskers .
There we have the marine .
He was a man with some
amount of self-importance and a certain air of command .
must have observed the way in which he held his head and swung his
A steady , respectable , middle-aged man , too , on the
face of him -- all facts which led me to believe that he had been a
sergeant . "
" Wonderful ! " I ejaculated .
" Commonplace , " said Holmes , though I thought from his
expression that he was pleased at my evident surprise and admiration .
" I said just now that there were no criminals .
appears that I am wrong -- look at this ! "
He threw me over
the note which the commissionaire had brought .
" Why , " I cried , as I cast my eye over it , " this is terrible ! "
" It does seem to be a little out of the common , " he remarked ,
" Would you mind reading it to me aloud ? "
This is the letter which I read to him , --
" MY DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES : " There has been a bad
business during the night at 3 , Lauriston Gardens , off the Brixton
Our man on the beat saw a light there about two in the
morning , and as the house was an empty one , suspected that something
was amiss .
He found the door open , and in the front room ,
which is bare of furniture , discovered the body of a gentleman , well
dressed , and having cards in his pocket bearing the name of ' Enoch J.
Drebber , Cleveland , Ohio , U. S. A . '
There had been no
robbery , nor is there any evidence as to how the man met his death .
There are marks of blood in the room , but there is no wound
upon his person .
We are at a loss as to how he came into the
empty house ; indeed , the whole affair is a puzzler .
can come round to the house any time before twelve , you will find me
I have left everything in statu quo until I hear from
If you are unable to come , I shall give you fuller
details , and would esteem it a great kindness if you would favour me
with your opinions .
" Yours faithfully , " TOBIAS GREGSON .
" Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland Yarders , " my friend
remarked ; " he and Lestrade are the pick of a bad lot .
are both quick and energetic , but conventional -- shockingly so .
They have their knives into one another , too .
They are as
jealous as a pair of professional beauties .
There will be
some fun over this case if they are both put upon the scent . "
I was amazed at the calm way in which he rippled on .
" Surely there is not a moment to be lost , " I cried , " shall I go and
order you a cab ? "
" I'm not sure about whether I shall go .
I am the most
incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather -- that is , when
the fit is on me , for I can be spry enough at times . "
" Why , it is just such a chance as you have been longing for . "
" My dear fellow , what does it matter to me ?
I unravel the whole matter , you may be sure that Gregson , Lestrade ,
and Co. will pocket all the credit .
That comes of being an
unofficial personage . "
" But he begs you to help him . "
" Yes .
He knows that I am his superior , and
acknowledges it to me ; but he would cut his tongue out before he would
own it to any third person .
However , we may as well go and
have a look .
I shall work it out on my own hook .
may have a laugh at them if I have nothing else .
Come on ! "
He hustled on his overcoat , and bustled about in a way that
showed that an energetic fit had superseded the apathetic one .
" Get your hat , " he said .
" You wish me to come ? "
" Yes , if you have nothing better to do . "
later we were both in a hansom , driving furiously for the Brixton
It was a foggy , cloudy morning , and a dun-coloured veil hung
over the housetops , looking like the reflection of the mud-coloured
streets beneath .
My companion was in the best of spirits , and
prattled away about Cremona fiddles and the difference between a
Stradivarius and an Amati .
As for myself , I was silent , for
the dull weather and the melancholy business upon which we were
engaged depressed my spirits .
" You don't seem to give much thought to the matter in hand , " I
said at last , interrupting Holmes's musical disquisition .
" No data yet , " he answered .
" It is a capital mistake
to theorize before you have all the evidence .
It biases the
judgement . "
" You will have your data soon , " I remarked , pointing with my
finger ; " this is the Brixton Road , and that is the house , if I am not
very much mistaken . "
" So it is .
Stop , driver , stop ! "
still a hundred yards or so from it , but he insisted upon our
alighting , and we finished our journey upon foot .
Number 3 , Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory
It was one of four which stood back some little way
from the street , two being occupied and two empty .
looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows , which were
blank and dreary , save that here and there a " To Let " card had
developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes .
garden sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly plants
separated each of these houses from the street , and was traversed by a
narrow pathway , yellowish in colour , and consisting apparently of a
mixture of clay and of gravel .
The whole place was very
sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the night .
garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood
rails upon the top , and against this wall was leaning a stalwart
police constable , surrounded by a small knot of loafers , who craned
their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching some
glimpse of the proceedings within .
I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have hurried
into the house and plunged into a study of the mystery .
Nothing appeared to be further from his intention .
air of nonchalance which , under the circumstances , seemed to me to
border upon affectation , he lounged up and down the pavement , and
gazed vacantly at the ground , the sky , the opposite houses and the
line of railings .
Having finished his scrutiny , he proceeded
slowly down the path , or rather down the fringe of grass which flanked
the path , keeping his eyes riveted upon the ground .
stopped , and once I saw him smile , and heard him utter an exclamation
of satisfaction .
There were many marks of footsteps upon the
wet clayey soil ; but since the police had been coming and going over
it , I was unable to see how my companion could hope to learn anything
from it .
Still I had had such extraordinary evidence of the
quickness of his perceptive faculties , that I had no doubt that he
could see a great deal which was hidden from me .
At the door of the house we were met by a tall , white-faced ,
flaxen-haired man , with a notebook in his hand , who rushed forward and
wrung my companion's hand with effusion .
" It is indeed kind
of you to come , " he said , " I have had everything left untouched . "
" Except that ! " my friend answered , pointing at the pathway .
" If a herd of buffaloes had passed along , there could not be
a greater mess .
No doubt , however , you had drawn your own
conclusions , Gregson , before you permitted this . "
" I have had so much to do inside the house , " the detective
said evasively .
" My colleague , Mr. Lestrade , is here .
I had relied upon him to look after this . "
Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows sardonically .
" With two such men as yourself and Lestrade upon the ground
there will not be much for a third party to find out , " he said .
Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satisfied way .
think we have done all that can be done , " he answered ; " it's a queer
case , though , and I knew your taste for such things . "
" You did not come here in a cab ? " asked Sherlock Holmes .
" No , sir . "
" Nor Lestrade ? "
" No , sir . "
" Then let us go and look at the room . "
inconsequent remark he strode on into the house followed by Gregson ,
whose features expressed his astonishment .
A short passage , bare-planked and dusty , led to the kitchen
and offices .
Two doors opened out of it to the left and to
the right .
One of these had obviously been closed for many
The other belonged to the dining-room , which was the
apartment in which the mysterious affair had occurred .
walked in , and I followed him with that subdued feeling at my heart
which the presence of death inspires .
It was a large square room , looking all the larger from the
absence of all furniture .
A vulgar flaring paper adorned the
walls , but it was blotched in places with mildew , and here and there
great strips had become detached and hung down , exposing the yellow
plaster beneath .
Opposite the door was a showy fireplace ,
surmounted by a mantelpiece of imitation white marble .
corner of this was stuck the stump of a red wax candle .
solitary window was so dirty that the light was hazy and uncertain ,
giving a dull gray tinge to everything , which was intensified by the
thick layer of dust which coated the whole apartment .
All these details I observed afterwards .
my attention was centred upon the single , grim , motionless figure
which lay stretched upon the boards , with vacant , sightless eyes
staring up at the discoloured ceiling .
It was that of a man
about forty-three or forty-four years of age , middle-sized ,
broad-shouldered , with crisp curling black hair , and a short , stubbly
He was dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and
waistcoat , with light-coloured trousers , and immaculate collar and
A top hat , well brushed and trim , was placed upon the
floor beside him .
His hands were clenched and his arms thrown
abroad , while his lower limbs were interlocked , as though his death
struggle had been a grievous one .
On his rigid face there
stood an expression of horror , and , as it seemed to me , of hatred ,
such as I have never seen upon human features .
and terrible contortion , combined with the low forehead , blunt nose ,
and prognathous jaw , gave the dead man a singularly simious and
ape-like appearance , which was increased by his writhing , unnatural
I have seen death in many forms , but never has it
appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark , grimy
apartment , which looked out upon one of the main arteries of suburban
Lestrade , lean and ferret-like as ever , was standing by the
doorway , and greeted my companion and myself .
" This case will make a stir , sir , " he remarked .
beats anything I have seen , and I am no chicken . "
" There is no clue ? " said Gregson .
" None at all , " chimed in Lestrade .
Sherlock Holmes approached the body , and , kneeling down ,
examined it intently .
" You are sure that there is no wound ? "
he asked , pointing to numerous gouts and splashes of blood which lay
all round .
" Positive ! " cried both detectives .
" Then , of course , this blood belongs to a second individual --
presumably the murderer , if murder has been committed .
reminds me of the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen ,
in Utrecht , in the year '34 .
Do you remember the case ,
Gregson ? "
" No , sir . "
" Read it up -- you really should .
There is nothing
new under the sun .
It has all been done before . "
As he spoke , his nimble fingers were flying here , there , and
everywhere , feeling , pressing , unbuttoning , examining , while his eyes
wore the same far-away expression which I have already remarked upon .
So swiftly was the examination made , that one would hardly
have guessed the minuteness with which it was conducted .
Finally , he sniffed the dead man's lips , and then glanced at the soles
of his patent leather boots .
" He has not been moved at all ? " he asked .
" No more than was necessary for the purpose of our
examination . "
" You can take him to the mortuary now , " he said .
" There is nothing more to be learned . "
Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand .
call they entered the room , and the stranger was lifted and carried
As they raised him , a ring tinkled down and rolled
across the floor .
Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it
with mystified eyes .
" There's been a woman here , " he cried .
" It's a
woman's wedding ring . "
He held it out , as he spoke , upon the palm of his hand .
We all gathered round him and gazed at it .
There could be
no doubt that that circlet of plain gold had once adorned the finger
of a bride .
" This complicates matters , " said Gregson .
knows , they were complicated enough before . "
" You're sure it doesn't simplify them ? " observed Holmes .
" There's nothing to be learned by staring at it .
you find in his pockets ? "
" We have it all here , " said Gregson , pointing to a litter of
objects upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs .
" A gold
watch , No. 97163 , by Barraud , of London .
Gold Albert chain ,
very heavy and solid .
Gold ring , with masonic device .
Gold pin -- bull-dog's head , with rubies as eyes .
leather cardcase , with cards of Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland ,
corresponding with the E. J. D. upon the linen .
No purse , but
loose money to the extent of seven pounds thirteen .
Two letters -- one addressed to E. J.
Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson . "
" At what address ? "
" American Exchange , Strand -- to be left till called for .
They are both from the Guion Steamship Company , and refer to the
sailing of their boats from Liverpool .
It is clear that this
unfortunate man was about to return to New York . "
" Have you made any inquiries as to this man Stangerson ? "
" I did it at once , sir , " said Gregson .
" I have had
advertisements sent to all the newspapers , and one of my men has gone
to the American Exchange , but he has not returned yet . "
" Have you sent to Cleveland ? "
" We telegraphed this morning . "
" How did you word your inquiries ? "
" We simply detailed the circumstances , and said that we should
be glad of any information which could help us . "
" You did not ask for particulars on any point which appeared
to you to be crucial ? "
" I asked about Stangerson . "
" Nothing else ?
Is there no circumstance on which this
whole case appears to hinge ?
Will you not telegraph again ? "
" I have said all I have to say , " said Gregson , in an offended
Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself , and appeared to be about
to make some remark , when Lestrade , who had been in the front room
while we were holding this conversation in the hall , reappeared upon
the scene , rubbing his hands in a pompous and self-satisfied manner .
" Mr. Gregson , " he said , " I have just made a discovery of the
highest importance , and one which would have been overlooked had I not
made a careful examination of the walls . "
The little man's eyes sparkled as he spoke , and he was
evidently in a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point
against his colleague .
" Come here , " he said , bustling back into the room , the
atmosphere of which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly
" Now , stand there ! "
He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall .
" Look at that ! " he said , triumphantly .
I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts .
In this particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled
off , leaving a yellow square of coarse plastering .
this bare space there was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word
" What do you think of that ? " cried the detective , with the air
of a showman exhibiting his show .
" This was overlooked
because it was in the darkest corner of the room , and no one thought
of looking there .
The murderer has written it with his or her
own blood .
See this smear where it has trickled down the
That disposes of the idea of suicide anyhow .
Why was that corner chosen to write it on ?
I will tell you .
See that candle on the mantelpiece .
It was lit at
the time , and if it was lit this corner would be the brightest instead
of the darkest portion of the wall . "
" And what does it mean now that you have found it ? " asked
Gregson in a depreciatory voice .
" Mean ?
Why , it means that the writer was going to put
the female name Rachel , but was disturbed before he or she had time to
You mark my words , when this case comes to be cleared
up , you will find that a woman named Rachel has something to do with
It's all very well for you to laugh , Mr. Sherlock Holmes .
You may be very smart and clever , but the old hound is the
best , when all is said and done . "
" I really beg your pardon ! " said my companion , who had ruffled
the little man's temper by bursting into an explosion of laughter .
" You certainly have the credit of being the first of us to
find this out and , as you say , it bears every mark of having been
written by the other participant in last night's mystery .
have not had time to examine this room yet , but with your permission I
shall do so now . "
As he spoke , he whipped a tape measure and a large round
magnifying glass from his pocket .
With these two implements
he trotted noiselessly about the room , sometimes stopping ,
occasionally kneeling , and once lying flat upon his face .
engrossed was he with his occupation that he appeared to have
forgotten our presence , for he chattered away to himself under his
breath the whole time , keeping up a running fire of exclamations ,
groans , whistles , and little cries suggestive of encouragement and of
As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a
pure-blooded , well-trained foxhound , as it dashes backward and forward
through the covert , whining in its eagerness , until it comes across
the lost scent .
For twenty minutes or more he continued his
researches , measuring with the most exact care the distance between
marks which were entirely invisible to me , and occasionally applying
his tape to the walls in an equally incomprehensible manner .
In one place he gathered up very carefully a little pile of gray dust
from the floor , and packed it away in an envelope .
examined with his glass the word upon the wall , going over every
letter of it with the most minute exactness .
This done , he
appeared to be satisfied , for he replaced his tape and his glass in
his pocket .
" They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking
pains , " he remarked with a smile .
" It's a very bad
definition , but it does apply to detective work . "
Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manoeuvres of their
amateur companion with considerable curiosity and some contempt .
They evidently failed to appreciate the fact , which I had begun to
realize , that Sherlock Holmes's smallest actions were all directed
towards some definite and practical end .
" What do you think of it , sir ? " they both asked .
" It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I were
to presume to help you , " remarked my friend .
" You are doing
so well now that it would be a pity for anyone to interfere . "
There was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke .
you will let me know how your investigations go , " he continued , " I
shall be happy to give you any help I can .
In the meantime I
should like to speak to the constable who found the body .
you give me his name and address ? "
Lestrade glanced at his notebook .
" John Rance , " he
" He is off duty now .
You will find him at 46 ,
Audley Court , Kennington Park Gate . "
Holmes took a note of the address .
" Come along , Doctor , " he said : " we shall go and look him up .
I'll tell you one thing which may help you in the case , " he
continued , turning to the two detectives .
" There has been
murder done , and the murderer was a man .
He was more than six
feet high , was in the prime of life , had small feet for his height ,
wore coarse , square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar .
He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab , which was
drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his off
In all probability the murderer had a florid face ,
and the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long .
These are only a few indications , but they may assist you . "
Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous
" If this man was murdered , how was it done ? " asked the former .
" Poison , " said Sherlock Holmes curtly , and strode off .
" One other thing , Lestrade , " he added , turning round at the door :
" ' Rache , ' is the German for ' revenge ' ; so don't lose your time
looking for Miss Rachel . "
With which Parthian shot he walked away , leaving the two
rivals open mouthed behind him .
It was one o'clock when we left No. 3 , Lauriston Gardens .
Sherlock Holmes led me to the nearest telegraph office , whence he
dispatched a long telegram .
He then hailed a cab , and ordered
the driver to take us to the address given us by Lestrade .
" There is nothing like first-hand evidence , " he remarked ; " as
a matter of fact , my mind is entirely made up upon the case , but still
we may as well learn all that is to be learned . "
" You amaze me , Holmes , " said I .
" Surely you are not
as sure as you pretend to be of all those particulars which you gave . "
" There's no room for a mistake , " he answered .
very first thing which I observed on arriving there was that a cab had
made two ruts with its wheels close to the curb .
Now , up to
last night , we have had no rain for a week , so that those wheels which
left such a deep impression must have been there during the night .
There were the marks of the horse's hoofs , too , the outline
of one of which was far more clearly cut than that of the other three ,
showing that that was a new shoe .
Since the cab was there
after the rain began , and was not there at any time during the morning
-- I have Gregson's word for that -- it follows that it must have been
there during the night , and therefore , that it brought those two
individuals to the house . "
" That seems simple enough , " said I ; " but how about the other
man's height ? "
" Why , the height of a man , in nine cases out of ten , can be
told from the length of his stride .
It is a simple
calculation enough , though there is no use my boring you with figures .
I had this fellow's stride both on the clay outside and on
the dust within .
Then I had a way of checking my calculation .
When a man writes on a wall , his instinct leads him to write
above the level of his own eyes .
Now that writing was just
over six feet from the ground .
It was child's play . "
" And his age ? " I asked .
" Well , if a man can stride four and a half feet without the
smallest effort , he can't be quite in the sere and yellow .
That was the breadth of a puddle on the garden walk which he had
evidently walked across .
Patent-leather boots had gone round ,
and Square-toes had hopped over .
There is no mystery about it
at all .
I am simply applying to ordinary life a few of those
precepts of observation and deduction which I advocated in that
Is there anything else that puzzles you ? "
" The finger-nails and the Trichinopoly , " I suggested .
" The writing on the wall was done with a man's forefinger
dipped in blood .
My glass allowed me to observe that the
plaster was slightly scratched in doing it , which would not have been
the case if the man's nail had been trimmed .
I gathered up
some scattered ash from the floor .
It was dark in colour and
flaky -- such an ash is only made by a Trichinopoly .
made a special study of cigar ashes -- in fact , I have written a
monograph upon the subject .
I flatter myself that I can
distinguish at a glance the ash of any known brand either of cigar or
of tobacco .
It is just in such details that the skilled
detective differs from the Gregson and Lestrade type . "
" And the florid face ? " I asked .
" Ah , that was a more daring shot , though I have no doubt that
I was right .
You must not ask me that at the present state of
the affair . "
I passed my hand over my brow .
" My head is in a
whirl , " I remarked ; " the more one thinks of it the more mysterious it
How came these two men -- if there were two men --
into an empty house ?
What has become of the cabman who drove
How could one man compel another to take poison ?
Where did the blood come from ?
What was the object of the
murderer , since robbery had no part in it ?
How came the
woman's ring there ?
Above all , why should the second man
write up the German word RACHE before decamping ?
that I cannot see any possible way of reconciling all these facts . "
My companion smiled approvingly .
" You sum up the difficulties of the situation succinctly and
well , " he said .
" There is much that is still obscure , though
I have quite made up my mind on the main facts .
As to poor
Lestrade's discovery , it was simply a blind intended to put the police
upon a wrong track , by suggesting Socialism and secret societies .
It was not done by a German .
The A , if you noticed , was
printed somewhat after the German fashion .
Now , a real German
invariably prints in the Latin character , so that we may safely say
that this was not written by one , but by a clumsy imitator who overdid
his part .
It was simply a ruse to divert inquiry into a wrong
I'm not going to tell you much more of the case ,
You know a conjurer gets no credit when once he has
explained his trick and if I show you too much of my method of
working , you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary
individual after all . "
" I shall never do that , " I answered ; " you have brought
detection as near an exact science as it ever will be brought in this
world . "
My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words , and the
earnest way in which I uttered them .
I had already observed
that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any
girl could be of her beauty .
" I'll tell you one other thing , " he said .
" Patent-leathers and Square-toes came in the same cab , and they walked
down the pathway together as friendly as possible -- arm-in-arm , in
all probability .
When they got inside , they walked up and
down the room -- or rather , Patent-leathers stood still while
Square-toes walked up and down .
I could read all that in the
dust ; and I could read that as he walked he grew more and more
That is shown by the increased length of his
He was talking all the while , and working himself
up , no doubt , into a fury .
Then the tragedy occurred .
I've told you all I know myself now , for the rest is mere surmise
and conjecture .
We have a good working basis , however , on
which to start .
We must hurry up , for I want to go to Halle's
concert to hear Norman Neruda this afternoon . "
This conversation had occurred while our cab had been
threading its way through a long succession of dingy streets and
dreary byways .
In the dingiest and dreariest of them our driver
suddenly came to a stand .
" That's Audley Court in there , " he
said , pointing to a narrow slit in the line of dead-coloured brick .
" You'll find me here when you come back . "
Audley Court was not an attractive locality .
narrow passage led us into a quadrangle paved with flags and lined by
sordid dwellings .
We picked our way among groups of dirty
children , and through lines of discoloured linen , until we came to
Number 46 , the door of which was decorated with a small slip of brass
on which the name Rance was engraved .
On inquiry we found
that the constable was in bed , and we were shown into a little front
parlour to await his coming .
He appeared presently , looking a little irritable at being
disturbed in his slumbers .
" I made my report at the office , "
he said .
Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with
it pensively .
" We thought that we should like to hear it all
from your own lips , " he said .
" I shall be most happy to tell you anything I can , " the
constable answered , with his eyes upon the little golden disc .
" Just let us hear it all in your own way as it occurred . "
Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa , and knitted his brows as
though determined not to omit anything in his narrative .
" I'll tell it ye from the beginning , " he said .
time is from ten at night to six in the morning .
there was a fight at the White Hart ; but bar that all was quiet enough
on the beat .
At one o'clock it began to rain , and I met Harry
Murcher -- him who has the Holland Grove beat -- and we stood together
at the corner of Henrietta Street a-talkin' .
maybe about two or a little after -- I thought I would take a look
round and see that all was right down the Brixton Road .
was precious dirty and lonely .
Not a soul did I meet all the
way down , though a cab or two went past me .
I was a-strollin'
down , thinkin' between ourselves how uncommon handy a four of gin hot
would be , when suddenly the glint of a light caught my eye in the
window of that same house .
Now , I knew that them two houses
in Lauriston Gardens was empty on account of him that owns them who
won't have the drains seed to , though the very last tenant what lived
in one of them died o' typhoid fever .
I was knocked all in a
heap , therefore , at seeing a light in the window , and I suspected as
something was wrong .
When I got to the door -- "
" You stopped , and then walked back to the garden gate , " my
companion interrupted .
" What did you do that for ? "
Rance gave a violent jump , and stared at Sherlock Holmes with
the utmost amazement upon his features .
" Why , that's true , sir , " he said ; " though how you come to know
it , Heaven only knows .
Ye see when I got up to the door , it
was so still and so lonesome , that I thought I'd be none the worse for
someone with me .
I ain't afeared of anything on this side o'
the grave ; but I thought that maybe it was him that died o' the
typhoid inspecting the drains what killed him .
gave me a kind o' turn , and I walked back to the gate to see if I
could see Murcher's lantern , but there wasn't no sign of him nor of
anyone else . "
" There was no one in the street ? "
" Not a livin' soul , sir , nor as much as a dog .
pulled myself together and went back and pushed the door open .
All was quiet inside , so I went into the room where the light was
There was a candle flickerin' on the mantelpiece
-- a red wax one -- and by its light I saw -- "
" Yes , I know all that you saw .
You walked round the
room several times , and you knelt down by the body , and then you
walked through and tried the kitchen door , and then -- "
John Rance sprang to his feet with a frightened face and
suspicion in his eyes .
" Where was you hid to see all that ? "
he cried .
" It seems to me that you knows a deal more than you
should . "
Holmes laughed and threw his card across the table to the
" Don't go arresting me for the murder , " he said .
" I am one of the hounds and not the wolf ; Mr. Gregson or Mr.
Lestrade will answer for that .
Go on , though .
did you do next ? "
Rance resumed his seat , without , however , losing his mystified
" I went back to the gate and sounded my whistle .
That brought Murcher and two more to the spot . "
" Was the street empty then ? "
" Well , it was , as far as anybody that could be of any good
goes . "
" What do you mean ? "
The constable's features broadened into a grin , " I've seen
many a drunk chap in my time , " he said , " but never anyone so cryin'
drunk as that cove .
He was at the gate when I came out ,
a-leanin' up ag'in the railings , and a-singin' at the pitch o' his
lungs about Columbine's New-fangled Banner , or some such stuff .
He couldn't stand , far less help . "
" What sort of a man was he ? " asked Sherlock Holmes .
John Rance appeared to be somewhat irritated at this
" He was an uncommon drunk sort o' man , " he said .
" He'd ha' found hisself in the station if we hadn't been so
took up . "
" His face -- his dress -- didn't you notice them ? "
Holmes broke in impatiently .
" I should think I did notice them , seeing that I had to prop
him up -- me and Murcher between us .
He was a long chap , with
a red face , the lower part muffled round -- "
" That will do , " cried Holmes .
" What became of him ? "
" We'd enough to do without lookin' after him , " the policeman
said , in an aggrieved voice .
" I'll wager he found his way
home all right . "
" How was he dressed ? "
" A brown overcoat . "
" Had he a whip in his hand ? "
" A whip -- no . "
" He must have left it behind , " muttered my companion .
" You didn't happen to see or hear a cab after that ? "
" No . "
" There's a half-sovereign for you , " my companion said ,
standing up and taking his hat .
" I am afraid , Rance , that you
will never rise in the force .
That head of yours should be
for use as well as ornament .
You might have gained your
sergeant's stripes last night .
The man whom you held in your
hands is the man who holds the clue of this mystery , and whom we are
There is no use of arguing about it now ; I tell you
that it is so .
Come along , Doctor . "
We started off for the cab together , leaving our informant
incredulous , but obviously uncomfortable .
" The blundering fool ! "
Holmes said , bitterly , as we
drove back to our lodgings .
" Just to think of his having such
an incomparable bit of good luck , and not taking advantage of it . "
" I am rather in the dark still .
It is true that the
description of this man tallies with your idea of the second party in
this mystery .
But why should he come back to the house after
leaving it ?
That is not the way of criminals . "
" The ring , man , the ring : that was what he came back for .
If we have no other way of catching him , we can always bait our
line with the ring .
I shall have him , Doctor -- I'll lay you
two to one that I have him .
I must thank you for it all .
I might not have gone but for you , and so have missed the finest
study I ever came across : a study in scarlet , eh ?
shouldn't we use a little art jargon .
There's the scarlet
thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life , and our
duty is to unravel it , and isolate it , and expose every inch of it .
And now for lunch , and then for Norman Neruda .
attack and her bowing are splendid .
What's that little thing
of Chopin's she plays so magnificently : Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay . "
Leaning back in the cab , this amateur bloodhound carolled away
like a lark while I meditated upon the many-sidedness of the human
Our morning's exertions had been too much for my weak health ,
and I was tired out in the afternoon .
departure for the concert , I lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to
get a couple of hours' sleep .
It was a useless attempt .
My mind had been too much excited by all that had occurred , and
the strangest fancies and surmises crowded into it .
time that I closed my eyes I saw before me the distorted , baboon-like
countenance of the murdered man .
So sinister was the
impression which that face had produced upon me that I found it
difficult to feel anything but gratitude for him who had removed its
owner from the world .
If ever human features bespoke vice of
the most malignant type , they were certainly those of Enoch J.
Drebber , of Cleveland .
Still I recognized that justice must
be done , and that the depravity of the victim was no condonement in
the eyes of the law .
The more I thought of it the more extraordinary did my
companion's hypothesis , that the man had been poisoned , appear .
I remembered how he had sniffed his lips , and had no doubt that he
had detected something which had given rise to the idea .
Then , again , if not poison , what had caused the man's death , since
there was neither wound nor marks of strangulation ?
But , on
the other hand , whose blood was that which lay so thickly upon the
There were no signs of a struggle , nor had the victim
any weapon with which he might have wounded an antagonist .
long as all these questions were unsolved , I felt that sleep would be
no easy matter , either for Holmes or myself .
His quiet ,
self-confident manner convinced me that he had already formed a theory
which explained all the facts , though what it was I could not for an
instant conjecture .
He was very late in returning -- so late that I knew that the
concert could not have detained him all the time .
on the table before he appeared .
" It was magnificent , " he said , as he took his seat .
" Do you remember what Darwin says about music ?
He claims that
the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human
race long before the power of speech was arrived at .
that is why we are so subtly influenced by it .
vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world
was in its childhood . "
" That's rather a broad idea , " I remarked .
" One's ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to
interpret Nature , " he answered .
" What's the matter ?
You're not looking quite yourself .
This Brixton Road affair
has upset you . "
" To tell the truth , it has , " I said .
" I ought to be
more case-hardened after my Afghan experiences .
I saw my own
comrades hacked to pieces at Maiwand without losing my nerve . "
" I can understand .
There is a mystery about this
which stimulates the imagination ; where there is no imagination there
is no horror .
Have you seen the evening paper ? "
" No . "
" It gives a fairly good account of the affair .
does not mention the fact that when the man was raised up a woman's
wedding ring fell upon the floor .
It is just as well it does
not . "
" Why ? "
" Look at this advertisement , " he answered .
" I had one
sent to every paper this morning immediately after the affair . "
He threw the paper across to me and I glanced at the place
It was the first announcement in the " Found "
" In Brixton Road , this morning , " it ran , " a plain
gold wedding ring , found in the roadway between the White Hart Tavern
and Holland Grove .
Apply Dr. Watson , 221B , Baker Street ,
between eight and nine this evening . "
" Excuse my using your name , " he said .
" If I used my
own , some of these dunderheads would recognize it , and want to meddle
in the affair . "
" That is all right , " I answered .
" But supposing
anyone applies , I have no ring . "
" Oh , yes , you have , " said he , handing me one .
will do very well .
It is almost a facsimile . "
" And who do you expect will answer this advertisement ? "
" Why , the man in the brown coat -- our florid friend with the
square toes .
If he does not come himself , he will send an
accomplice . "
" Would he not consider it as too dangerous ? "
" Not at all .
If my view of the case is correct , and I
have every reason to believe that it is , this man would rather risk
anything than lose the ring .
According to my notion he
dropped it while stooping over Drebber's body , and did not miss it at
the time .
After leaving the house he discovered his loss and
hurried back , but found the police already in possession , owing to his
own folly in leaving the candle burning .
He had to pretend to
be drunk in order to allay the suspicions which might have been
aroused by his appearance at the gate .
Now put yourself in
that man's place .
On thinking the matter over , it must have
occurred to him that it was possible that he had lost the ring in the
road after leaving the house .
What would he do then ?
He would eagerly look out for the evening papers in the hope of seeing
it among the articles found .
His eye , of course , would light
upon this .
He would be overjoyed .
Why should he fear
a trap ?
There would be no reason in his eyes why the finding
of the ring should be connected with the murder .
He will come .
You shall see him within an
hour . "
" And then ? " I asked .
" Oh , you can leave me to deal with him then .
any arms ? "
" I have my old service revolver and a few cartridges . "
" You had better clean it and load it .
He will be a
desperate man ; and though I shall take him unawares , it is as well to
be ready for anything . "
I went to my bedroom and followed his advice .
returned with the pistol , the table had been cleared , and Holmes was
engaged in his favourite occupation of scraping upon his violin .
" The plot thickens , " he said , as I entered ; " I have just had
an answer to my American telegram .
My view of the case is the
correct one . "
" And that is ? " I asked eagerly .
" My fiddle would be the better for new strings , " he remarked .
" Put your pistol in your pocket .
When the fellow
comes , speak to him in an ordinary way .
Leave the rest to me .
Don't frighten him by looking at him too hard . "
" It is eight o'clock now , " I said , glancing at my watch .
" Yes .
He will probably be here in a few minutes .
Open the door slightly .
That will do .
the key on the inside .
Thank you !
This is a queer
old book I picked up at a stall yesterday -- De Jure inter Gentes --
published in Latin at Liege in the Lowlands , in 1642 .
Charles's head was still firm on his shoulders when this little
brown-backed volume was struck off . "
" Who is the printer ? "
" Philippe de Croy , whoever he may have been .
flyleaf , in very faded ink , is written ' Ex libris Guliolmi Whyte . '
I wonder who William Whyte was .
seventeenth-century lawyer , I suppose .
His writing has a
legal twist about it .
Here comes our man , I think . "
As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell .
Sherlock Holmes rose softly and moved his chair in the direction of
the door .
We heard the servant pass along the hall , and the
sharp click of the latch as she opened it .
" Does Dr. Watson live here ? " asked a clear but rather harsh
We could not hear the servant's reply , but the door
closed , and someone began to ascend the stairs .
was an uncertain and shuffling one .
A look of surprise passed
over the face of my companion as he listened to it .
slowly along the passage , and there was a feeble tap at the door .
" Come in , " I cried .
At my summons , instead of the man of violence whom we
expected , a very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment .
She appeared to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light , and
after dropping a curtsey , she stood blinking at us with her bleared
eyes and fumbling in her pocket with nervous , shaky fingers .
I glanced at my companion , and his face had assumed such a
disconsolate expression that it was all I could do to keep my
The old crone drew out an evening paper , and pointed at our
" It's this as has brought me , good gentlemen , "
she said , dropping another curtsey ; " a gold wedding ring in the
Brixton Road .
It belongs to my girl Sally , as was married
only this time twelvemonth , which her husband is steward aboard a
Union boat , and what he'd say if he comes 'ome and found her without
her ring is more than I can think , he being short enough at the best
o' times , but more especially when he has the drink .
please you , she went to the circus last night along with -- "
" Is that her ring ? " I asked .
" The Lord be thanked ! " cried the old woman ; " Sally will be a
glad woman this night .
That's the ring . "
" And what may your address be ? " I inquired , taking up a
" 13 , Duncan Street , Houndsditch .
A weary way from
here . "
" The Brixton Road does not lie between any circus and
Houndsditch , " said Sherlock Holmes sharply .
The old woman faced round and looked keenly at him from her
little red-rimmed eyes .
" The gentleman asked me for my
address , " she said .
" Sally lives in lodgings at 3 , Mayfield
Place , Peckham . "
" And your name is ? "
" My name is Sawyer -- hers is Dennis , which Tom Dennis married
her -- and a smart , clean lad , too , as long as he's at sea , and no
steward in the company more thought of ; but when on shore , what with
the women and what with liquor shops -- "
" Here is your ring , Mrs. Sawyer , " I interrupted , in obedience
to a sign from my companion ; " it clearly belongs to your daughter , and
I am glad to be able to restore it to the rightful owner . "
With many mumbled blessings and protestations of gratitude the
old crone packed it away in her pocket , and shuffled off down the
Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet the moment that
she was gone and rushed into his room .
He returned in a few
seconds enveloped in an ulster and a cravat .
" I'll follow
her , " he said , hurriedly ; " she must be an accomplice , and will lead me
to him .
Wait up for me . "
The hall door had hardly
slammed behind our visitor before Holmes had descended the stair .
Looking through the window I could see her walking feebly along
the other side , while her pursuer dogged her some little distance
" Either his whole theory is incorrect , " I thought to
myself , " or else he will be led now to the heart of the mystery . "
There was no need for him to ask me to wait up for him , for I felt
that sleep was impossible until I heard the result of his adventure .
It was close upon nine when he set out .
I had no idea
how long he might be , but I sat stolidly puffing at my pipe and
skipping over the pages of Henri Murger's Vie de Boheme .
o'clock passed , and I heard the footsteps of the maid as she pattered
off to bed .
Eleven , and the more stately tread of the
landlady passed my door , bound for the same destination .
was close upon twelve before I heard the sharp sound of his latchkey .
The instant he entered I saw by his face that he had not been
Amusement and chagrin seemed to be struggling for
the mastery , until the former suddenly carried the day , and he burst
into a hearty laugh .
" I wouldn't have the Scotland Yarders know it for the world , "
he cried , dropping into his chair ; " I have chaffed them so much that
they would never have let me hear the end of it .
I can afford
to laugh , because I know that I will be even with them in the long
run . "
" What is it then ? " I asked .
" Oh , I don't mind telling a story against myself .
That creature had gone a little way when she began to limp and show
every sign of being footsore .
Presently she came to a halt ,
and hailed a four-wheeler which was passing .
I managed to be
close to her so as to hear the address , but I need not have been so
anxious , for she sang it out loud enough to be heard at the other side
of the street , ' Drive to 13 , Duncan Street , Houndsditch , ' she cried .
This begins to look genuine , I thought , and having seen her
safely inside , I perched myself behind .
That's an art which
every detective should be an expert at .
Well , away we
rattled , and never drew rein until we reached the street in question .
I hopped off before we came to the door , and strolled down
the street in an easy , lounging way .
I saw the cab pull up .
The driver jumped down , and I saw him open the door and stand
Nothing came out though .
When I reached
him , he was groping about frantically in the empty cab , and giving
vent to the finest assorted collection of oaths that ever I listened
There was no sign or trace of his passenger , and I fear
it will be some time before he gets his fare .
On inquiring at
Number 13 we found that the house belonged to a respectable
paperhanger , named Keswick , and that no one of the name either of
Sawyer or Dennis had ever been heard of there . "
" You don't mean to say , " I cried , in amazement , " that that
tottering , feeble old woman was able to get out of the cab while it
was in motion , without either you or the driver seeing her ? "
" Old woman be damned ! " said Sherlock Holmes , sharply .
" We were the old women to be so taken in .
It must have been a
young man , and an active one , too , besides being an incomparable
The get-up was inimitable .
He saw that he was
followed , no doubt , and used this means of giving me the slip .
It shows that the man we are after is not as lonely as I imagined
he was , but has friends who are ready to risk something for him .
Now , Doctor , you are looking done-up .
Take my advice and
turn in .
I was certainly feeling very weary , so I obeyed his
I left Holmes seated in front of the smouldering
fire , and long into the watches of the night I heard the low
melancholy wailings of his violin , and knew that he was still
pondering over the strange problem which he had set himself to
The papers next day were full of the " Brixton Mystery , " as
they termed it .
Each had a long account of the affair , and
some had leaders upon it in addition .
There was some
information in them which was new to me .
I still retain in my
scrapbook numerous clippings and extracts bearing upon the case .
Here is a condensation of a few of them :
The Daily Telegraph remarked that in the history of crime
there had seldom been a tragedy which presented stranger features .
The German name of the victim , the absence of all other
motive , and the sinister inscription on the wall , all pointed to its
perpetration by political refugees and revolutionists .
Socialists had many branches in America , and the deceased had no
doubt , infringed their unwritten laws , and been tracked down by them .
After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht , aqua tofana ,
Carbonari , the Marchioness de Brinvilliers , the Darwinian theory , the
principles of Malthus , and the Ratcliff Highway murders , the article
concluded by admonishing the government and advocating a closer watch
over foreigners in England .
The Standard commented upon the fact that lawless outrages of
the sort usually occurred under a Liberal administration .
They arose from the unsettling of the minds of the masses , and the
consequent weakening of all authority .
The deceased was an
American gentleman who had been residing for some weeks in the
He had stayed at the boarding-house of Madame
Charpentier , in Torquay Terrace , Camberwell .
accompanied in his travels by his private secretary , Mr. Joseph
The two bade adieu to their landlady upon
Tuesday , the 4th inst. , and departed to Euston Station with the avowed
intention of catching the Liverpool express .
afterwards seen together upon the platform .
Nothing more is
known of them until Mr. Drebber's body was , as recorded , discovered in
an empty house in the Brixton Road , many miles from Euston .
How he came there , or how he met his fate , are questions which are
still involved in mystery .
Nothing is known of the
whereabouts of Stangerson .
We are glad to learn that Mr.
Lestrade and Mr. Gregson , of Scotland Yard , are both engaged upon the
case , and it is confidently anticipated that these well-known officers
will speedily throw light upon the matter .
The Daily News observed that there was no doubt as to the
crime being a political one .
The despotism and hatred of
Liberalism which animated the Continental governments had had the
effect of driving to our shores a number of men who might have made
excellent citizens were they not soured by the recollection of all
that they had undergone .
Among these men there was a
stringent code of honour , any infringement of which was punished by
Every effort should be made to find the secretary ,
Stangerson , and to ascertain some particulars of the habits of the
A great step had been gained by the discovery of
the address of the house at which he had boarded -- a result which was
entirely due to the acuteness and energy of Mr. Gregson of Scotland
Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over together at
breakfast , and they appeared to afford him considerable amusement .
" I told you that , whatever happened , Lestrade and Gregson
would be sure to score . "
" That depends on how it turns out . "
" Oh , bless you , it doesn't matter in the least .
the man is caught , it will be on account of their exertions ; if he
escapes , it will be in spite of their exertions .
It's heads I
win and tails you lose .
Whatever they do , they will have
' Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire . '
" What on earth is this ? " I cried , for at this moment there
came the pattering of many steps in the hall and on the stairs ,
accompanied by audible expressions of disgust upon the part of our
" It's the Baker Street division of the detective police
force , " said my companion gravely ; and as he spoke there rushed into
the room half a dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs
that ever I clapped eyes on .
" 'Tention ! " cried Holmes , in a sharp tone , and the six dirty
little scoundrels stood in a line like so many disreputable
" In future you shall send up Wiggins alone to
report , and the rest of you must wait in the street .
found it , Wiggins ? "
" No , sir , we hain't , " said one of the youths .
" I hardly expected you would .
You must keep on until
you do .
Here are your wages . "
He handed each of them
a shilling .
" Now , off you go , and come back with a better
report next time . "
He waved his hand , and they scampered away downstairs like so
many rats , and we heard their shrill voices next moment in the street .
" There's more work to be got out of one of those little
beggars than out of a dozen of the force , " Holmes remarked .
" The mere sight of an official-looking person seals men's lips .
These youngsters , however , go everywhere and hear everything .
They are as sharp as needles , too ; all they want is organization . "
" Is it on this Brixton case that you are employing them ? "
I asked .
" Yes ; there is a point which I wish to ascertain .
is merely a matter of time .
Hullo ! we are going to hear some
news now with a vengeance !
Here is Gregson coming down the
road with beatitude written upon every feature of his face .
Bound for us , I know .
Yes , he is stopping .
is ! "
There was a violent peal at the bell , and in a few seconds the
fair-haired detective came up the stairs , three steps at a time , and
burst into our sitting-room .
" My dear fellow , " he cried , wringing Holmes's unresponsive
hand , " congratulate me !
I have made the whole thing as clear
as day . "
A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my companion's
expressive face .
" Do you mean that you are on the right track ? " he asked .
" The right track !
Why , sir , we have the man under
lock and key . "
" And his name is ? "
" Arthur Charpentier , sub-lieutenant in Her Majesty's navy , "
cried Gregson pompously rubbing his fat hands and inflating his chest .
Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief and relaxed into a
" Take a seat , and try one of these cigars , " he said .
" We are anxious to know how you managed it .
Will you have
some whisky and water ? "
" I don't mind if I do , " the detective answered .
tremendous exertions which I have gone through during the last day or
two have worn me out .
Not so much bodily exertion , you
understand , as the strain upon the mind .
You will appreciate
that , Mr. Sherlock Holmes , for we are both brain-workers . "
" You do me too much honour , " said Holmes , gravely .
" Let us hear how you arrived at this most gratifying result . "
The detective seated himself in the armchair , and puffed
complacently at his cigar .
Then suddenly he slapped his thigh
in a paroxysm of amusement .
" The fun of it is , " he cried , " that that fool Lestrade , who
thinks himself so smart , has gone off upon the wrong track altogether .
He is after the secretary Stangerson , who had no more to do
with the crime than the babe unborn .
I have no doubt that he
has caught him by this time . "
The idea tickled Gregson so much that he laughed until he
" And how did you get your clue ? "
" Ah , I'll tell you all about it .
Of course , Dr.
Watson , this is strictly between ourselves .
difficulty which we had to contend with was the finding of this
American's antecedents .
Some people would have waited until
their advertisements were answered , or until parties came forward and
volunteered information .
That is not Tobias Gregson's way of
going to work .
You remember the hat beside the dead man ? "
" Yes , " said Holmes ; " by John Underwood and Sons , 129 ,
Camberwell Road . "
Gregson looked quite crestfallen .
" I had no idea that you noticed that , " he said .
you been there ? "
" No . "
" Ha ! " cried Gregson , in a relieved voice ; " you should never
neglect a chance , however small it may seem . "
" To a great mind , nothing is little , " remarked Holmes ,
" Well , I went to Underwood , and asked him if he had sold a hat
of that size and description .
He looked over his books , and
came on it at once .
He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber ,
residing at Charpentier's Boarding Establishment , Torquay Terrace .
Thus I got at his address . "
" Smart , -- very smart ! " murmured Sherlock Holmes .
" I next called upon Madame Charpentier , " continued the
" I found her very pale and distressed .
Her daughter was in the room , too -- an uncommonly fine girl she is ,
too ; she was looking red about the eyes and her lips trembled as I
spoke to her .
That didn't escape my notice .
to smell a rat .
You know the feeling , Mr. Sherlock Holmes ,
when you come upon the right scent -- a kind of thrill in your nerves .
' Have you heard of the mysterious death of your late boarder
Mr. Enoch J. Drebber , of Cleveland ? ' I asked .
" The mother nodded .
She didn't seem able to get out a
The daughter burst into tears .
I felt more
than ever that these people knew something of the matter .
" ' At what o'clock did Mr. Drebber leave your house for the
train ? ' I asked .
" ' At eight o'clock , ' she said , gulping in her throat to keep
down her agitation .
' His secretary , Mr. Stangerson , said that
there were two trains -- one at 9:15 and one at 11 .
He was to
catch the first . '
" ' And was that the last which you saw of him ? '
" A terrible change came over the woman's face as I asked the
Her features turned perfectly livid .
was some seconds before she could get out the single word ' Yes ' -- and
when it did come it was in a husky , unnatural tone .
" There was silence for a moment , and then the daughter spoke
in a calm , clear voice .
" ' No good can ever come of falsehood , mother , ' she said .
' Let us be frank with this gentleman .
We did see Mr.
Drebber again . '
" ' God forgive you ! ' cried Madame Charpentier , throwing up her
hands and sinking back in her chair .
' You have murdered your
brother . '
" ' Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth , ' the girl
answered firmly .
" ' You had best tell me all about it now , ' I said .
' Half-confidences are worse than none .
Besides , you do not
know how much we know of it . '
" ' On your head be it , Alice ! ' cried her mother ; and then
turning to me , ' I will tell you all , sir .
Do not imagine that
my agitation on behalf of my son arises from any fear lest he should
have had a hand in this terrible affair .
He is utterly
innocent of it .
My dread is , however , that in your eyes and
in the eyes of others he may appear to be compromised .
however , is surely impossible .
His high character , his
profession , his antecedents would all forbid it . '
" ' Your best way is to make a clean breast of the facts , ' I
' Depend upon it , if your son is innocent he will be
none the worse . '
" ' Perhaps , Alice , you had better leave us together , ' she
said , and her daughter withdrew .
' Now , sir , ' she continued ,
' I had no intention of telling you all this , but since my poor
daughter has disclosed it I have no alternative .
decided to speak , I will tell you all without omitting any
particular . '
" ' It is your wisest course , ' said I .
" ' Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three weeks .
He and his secretary , Mr. Stangerson , had been travelling on the
I noticed a Copenhagen label upon each of their
trunks , showing that that had been their last stopping place .
Stangerson was a quiet , reserved man , but his employer , I am sorry to
say , was far otherwise .
He was coarse in his habits and
brutish in his ways .
The very night of his arrival he became
very much the worse for drink , and , indeed , after twelve o'clock in
the day he could hardly ever be said to be sober .
towards the maid-servants were disgustingly free and familiar .
Worst of all , he speedily assumed the same attitude towards my
daughter , Alice , and spoke to her more than once in a way which ,
fortunately , she is too innocent to understand .
occasion he actually seized her in his arms and embraced her -- an
outrage which caused his own secretary to reproach him for his unmanly
conduct . '
" ' But why did you stand all this ? ' I asked .
suppose that you can get rid of your boarders when you wish . '
" Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent question .
' Would to God that I had given him notice on the very day that he
came , ' she said .
' But it was a sore temptation .
were paying a pound a day each -- fourteen pounds a week , and this is
the slack season .
I am a widow , and my boy in the Navy has
cost me much .
I grudged to lose the money .
for the best .
This last was too much , however , and I gave him
notice to leave on account of it .
That was the reason of his
going . '
" ' Well ? '
" ' My heart grew light when I saw him drive away .
son is on leave just now , but I did not tell him anything of all this ,
for his temper is violent , and he is passionately fond of his sister .
When I closed the door behind them a load seemed to be lifted
from my mind .
Alas , in less than an hour there was a ring at
the bell , and I learned that Mr. Drebber had returned .
much excited , and evidently the worse for drink .
his way into the room , where I was sitting with my daughter , and made
some incoherent remark about having missed his train .
turned to Alice , and before my very face , proposed to her that she
should fly with him .
" You are of age , " he said , " and there is
no law to stop you .
I have money enough and to spare .
Never mind the old girl here , but come along with me now straight
You shall live like a princess . "
was so frightened that she shrunk away from him , but he caught her by
the wrist and endeavoured to draw her towards the door .
screamed , and at that moment my son Arthur came into the room .
What happened then I do not know .
I heard oaths and the
confused sounds of a scuffle .
I was too terrified to raise my
When I did look up I saw Arthur standing in the doorway
laughing , with a stick in his hand .
" I don't think that fine
fellow will trouble us again , " he said .
" I will just go after
him and see what he does with himself . "
With those words he
took his hat and started off down the street .
morning we heard of Mr. Drebber's mysterious death . '
" This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier's lips with many
gasps and pauses .
At times she spoke so low that I could
hardly catch the words .
I made shorthand notes of all that
she said however , so that there should be no possibility of a
mistake . "
" It's quite exciting , " said Sherlock Holmes , with a yawn .
" What happened next ? "
" When Mrs. Charpentier paused , " the detective continued , " I
saw that the whole case hung upon one point .
Fixing her with
my eye in a way which I always found effective with women , I asked her
at what hour her son returned .
" ' I do not know , ' she answered .
" ' Not know ? '
" ' No ; he has a latchkey , and he let himself in . '
" ' After you went to bed ? '
" ' Yes . '
" ' When did you go to bed ? '
" ' About eleven . '
" ' So your son was gone at least two hours ? '
" ' Yes . '
" ' Possibly four or five ? '
" ' Yes . '
" ' What was he doing during that time ? '
" ' I do not know , ' she answered , turning white to her very
" Of course after that there was nothing more to be done .
I found out where Lieutenant Charpentier was , took two officers
with me , and arrested him .
When I touched him on the shoulder
and warned him to come quietly with us , he answered us as bold as
brass , ' I suppose you are arresting me for being concerned in the
death of that scoundrel Drebber , ' he said .
We had said
nothing to him about it , so that his alluding to it had a most
suspicious aspect . "
" Very , " said Holmes .
" He still carried the heavy stick which the mother described
him as having with him when he followed Drebber .
It was a
stout oak cudgel . "
" What is your theory , then ? "
" Well , my theory is that he followed Drebber as far as the
Brixton Road .
When there , a fresh altercation arose between
them , in the course of which Drebber received a blow from the stick ,
in the pit of the stomach perhaps , which killed him without leaving
any mark .
The night was so wet that no one was about , so
Charpentier dragged the body of his victim into the empty house .
As to the candle , and the blood , and the writing on the wall , and
the ring , they may all be so many tricks to throw the police on to the
wrong scent . "
" Well done ! " said Holmes in an encouraging voice .
" Really , Gregson , you are getting along .
We shall make
something of you yet . "
" I flatter myself that I have managed it rather neatly , " the
detective answered , proudly .
" The young man volunteered a
statement , in which he said that after following Drebber some time ,
the latter perceived him , and took a cab in order to get away from
On his way home he met an old shipmate , and took a long
walk with him .
On being asked where this old shipmate lived ,
he was unable to give any satisfactory reply .
I think the
whole case fits together uncommonly well .
What amuses me is
to think of Lestrade , who had started off upon the wrong scent .
I am afraid he won't make much of it .
Why , by Jove ,
here's the very man himself ! "
It was indeed Lestrade , who had ascended the stairs while we
were talking , and who now entered the room .
The assurance and
jauntiness which generally marked his demeanour and dress were ,
however , wanting .
His face was disturbed and troubled , while
his clothes were disarranged and untidy .
He had evidently
come with the intention of consulting with Sherlock Holmes , for on
perceiving his colleague he appeared to be embarrassed and put out .
He stood in the centre of the room , fumbling nervously with
his hat and uncertain what to do .
" This is a most
extraordinary case , " he said at last -- " a most incomprehensible
affair . "
" Ah , you find it so , Mr. Lestrade ! " cried Gregson ,
" I thought you would come to that conclusion .
Have you managed to find the secretary , Mr. Joseph
Stangerson ? "
" The secretary , Mr. Joseph Stangerson , " said Lestrade ,
gravely , " was murdered at Halliday's Private Hotel about six o'clock
this morning . "
The intelligence with which Lestrade greeted us was so
momentous and so unexpected that we were all three fairly dumfounded .
Gregson sprang out of his chair and upset the remainder of
his whisky and water .
I stared in silence at Sherlock Holmes ,
whose lips were compressed and his brows drawn down over his eyes .
" Stangerson too ! " he muttered .
" The plot thickens . "
" It was quite thick enough before , " grumbled Lestrade , taking
a chair , " I seem to have dropped into a sort of council of war . "
" Are you -- are you sure of this piece of intelligence ? "
stammered Gregson .
" I have just come from his room , " said Lestrade .
was the first to discover what had occurred . "
" We have been hearing Gregson's view of the matter , " Holmes
" Would you mind letting us know what you have seen
and done ? "
" I have no objection , " Lestrade answered , seating himself .
" I freely confess that I was of the opinion that Stangerson
was concerned in the death of Drebber .
This fresh development
has shown me that I was completely mistaken .
Full of the one
idea , I set myself to find out what had become of the secretary .
They had been seen together at Euston Station about half-past
eight on the evening of the 3rd .
At two in the morning
Drebber had been found in the Brixton Road .
which confronted me was to find out how Stangerson had been employed
between 8:30 and the time of the crime , and what had become of him
I telegraphed to Liverpool , giving a description
of the man , and warning them to keep a watch upon the American boats .
I then set to work calling upon all the hotels and
lodging-houses in the vicinity of Euston .
You see , I argued
that if Drebber and his companion had become separated , the natural
course for the latter would be to put up somewhere in the vicinity for
the night , and then to hang about the station again next morning . "
" They would be likely to agree on some meeting place
beforehand , " remarked Holmes .
" So it proved .
I spent the whole of yesterday evening
in making inquiries entirely without avail .
This morning I
began very early , and at eight o'clock I reached Halliday's Private
Hotel , in Little George Street .
On my inquiry as to whether a
Mr. Stangerson was living there , they at once answered me in the
" ' No doubt you are the gentleman whom he was expecting , ' they
' He has been waiting for a gentleman for two days . '
" ' Where is he now ? ' I asked .
" ' He is upstairs in bed .
He wished to be called at
nine . '
" ' I will go up and see him at once , ' I said .
" It seemed to me that my sudden appearance might shake his
nerves and lead him to say something unguarded .
volunteered to show me the room : it was on the second floor and there
was a small corridor leading up to it .
The boots pointed out
the door to me , and was about to go downstairs again when I saw
something that made me feel sickish , in spite of my twenty years'
From under the door there curled a little red
ribbon of blood , which had meandered across the passage and formed a
little pool along the skirting at the other side .
I gave a cry , which
brought the boots back .
He nearly fainted when he saw it .
The door was locked on the inside , but we put our shoulders
to it , and knocked it in .
The window of the room was open ,
and beside the window , all huddled up , lay the body of a man in his
He was quite dead , and had been for some time ,
for his limbs were rigid and cold .
When we turned him over ,
the boots recognized him at once as being the same gentleman who had
engaged the room under the name of Joseph Stangerson .
cause of death was a deep stab in the left side , which must have
penetrated the heart .
And now comes the strangest part of the
What do you suppose was above the murdered man ? "
I felt a creeping of the flesh , and a presentiment of coming
horror , even before Sherock Holmes answered .
" The word RACHE , written in letters of blood , " he said ,
" That was it , " said Lestrade , in an awestruck voice , and we
were all silent for a while .
There was something so methodical and so incomprehensible
about the deeds of this unknown assassin , that it imparted a fresh
ghastliness to his crimes .
My nerves , which were steady
enough on the field of battle , tingled as I thought of it .
" The man was seen , " continued Lestrade .
" A milk boy ,
passing on his way to the dairy , happened to walk down the lane which
leads from the mews at the back of the hotel .
He noticed that
a ladder , which usually lay there , was raised against one of the
windows of the second floor , which was wide open .
passing , he looked back and saw a man descend the ladder .
came down so quietly and openly that the boy imagined him to be some
carpenter or joiner at work in the hotel .
He took no
particular notice of him , beyond thinking in his own mind that it was
early for him to be at work .
He has an impression that the
man was tall , had a reddish face , and was dressed in a long , brownish
He must have stayed in the room some little time after
the murder , for we found blood-stained water in the basin , where he
had washed his hands , and marks on the sheets where he had
deliberately wiped his knife . "
I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description of the murderer
which tallied so exactly with his own .
There was , however , no
trace of exultation or satisfaction upon his face .
" Did you find nothing in the room which could furnish a clue
to the murderer ? " he asked .
" Nothing .
Stangerson had Drebber's purse in his
pocket , but it seems that this was usual , as he did all the paying .
There was eighty-odd pounds in it , but nothing had been
Whatever the motives of these extraordinary crimes ,
robbery is certainly not one of them .
There were no papers or
memoranda in the murdered man's pocket , except a single telegram ,
dated from Cleveland about a month ago , and containing the words , ' J.
H. is in Europe . '
There was no name appended to
this message . "
" And there was nothing else ? "
Holmes asked .
" Nothing of any importance .
The man's novel , with
which he had read himself to sleep , was lying upon the bed , and his
pipe was on a chair beside him .
There was a glass of water on
the table , and on the window-sill a small chip ointment box containing
a couple of pills . "
Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an exclamation of
" The last link , " he cried , exultantly .
" My case is
complete . "
The two detectives stared at him in amazement .
" I have now in my hands , " my companion said , confidently , " all
the threads which have formed such a tangle .
There are , of
course , details to be filled in , but I am as certain of all the main
facts , from the time that Drebber parted from Stangerson at the
station , up to the discovery of the body of the latter , as if I had
seen them with my own eyes .
I will give you a proof of my
Could you lay your hand upon those pills ? "
" I have them , " said Lestrade , producing a small white box ; " I
took them and the purse and the telegram , intending to have them put
in a place of safety at the police station .
It was the merest
chance my taking these pills , for I am bound to say that I do not
attach any importance to them . "
" Give them here , " said Holmes .
" Now , Doctor , " turning
to me , " are those ordinary pills ? "
They certainly were not .
They were of a pearly gray
colour , small , round , and almost transparent against the light .
" From their lightness and transparency , I should imagine that they
are soluble in water , " I remarked .
" Precisely so , " answered Holmes .
" Now would you mind
going down and fetching that poor little devil of a terrier which has
been bad so long , and which the landlady wanted you to put out of its
pain yesterday ? "
I went downstairs and carried the dog upstairs in my arms .
Its laboured breathing and glazing eye showed that it was not
far from its end .
Indeed , its snow-white muzzle proclaimed
that it had already exceeded the usual term of canine existence .
I placed it upon a cushion on the rug .
" I will now cut one of these pills in two , " said Holmes , and
drawing his penknife he suited the action to the word .
half we return into the box for future purposes .
half I will place in this wineglass , in which is a teaspoonful of
You perceive that our friend , the doctor , is right ,
and that it readily dissolves . "
" This may be very interesting , " said Lestrade , in the injured
tone of one who suspects that he is being laughed at ; " I cannot see ,
however , what it has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph Stangerson . "
" Patience , my friend , patience !
You will find in time
that it has everything to do with it .
I shall now add a
little milk to make the mixture palatable , and on presenting it to the
dog we find that he laps it up readily enough . "
As he spoke he turned the contents of the wineglass into a
saucer and placed it in front of the terrier , who speedily licked it
Sherlock Holmes's earnest demeanour had so far convinced
us that we all sat in silence , watching the animal intently , and
expecting some startling effect .
None such appeared , however .
The dog continued to lie stretched upon the cushion ,
breathing in a laboured way , but apparently neither the better nor the
worse for its draught .
Holmes had taken out his watch , and as minute followed minute
without result , an expression of the utmost chagrin and disappointment
appeared upon his features .
He gnawed his lip , drummed his
fingers upon the table , and showed every other symptom of acute
So great was his emotion that I felt sincerely
sorry for him , while the two detectives smiled derisively , by no means
displeased at this check which he had met .
" It can't be a coincidence , " he cried , at last springing from
his chair and pacing wildly up and down the room ; " it is impossible
that it should be , a mere coincidence .
The very pills which I
suspected in the case of Drebber are actually found after the death of
And yet they are inert .
What can it
Surely my whole chain of reasoning cannot have been
It is impossible !
And yet this wretched dog
is none the worse .
Ah , I have it !
I have it ! "
With a perfect shriek of delight he rushed to the box , cut the
other pill in two , dissolved it , added milk , and presented it to the
The unfortunate creature's tongue seemed hardly to
have been moistened in it before it gave a convulsive shiver in every
limb , and lay as rigid and lifeless as if it had been struck by
Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath , and wiped the perspiration
from his forehead .
" I should have more faith , " he said ; " I
ought to know by this time that when a fact appears to be opposed to a
long train of deductions , it invariably proves to be capable of
bearing some other interpretation .
Of the two pills in that
box , one was of the most deadly poison , and the other was entirely
I ought to have known that before ever I saw the
box at all . "
This last statement appeared to me to be so startling that I
could hardly believe that he was in his sober senses .
was the dead dog , however , to prove that his conjecture had been
It seemed to me that the mists in my own mind were
gradually clearing away , and I began to have a dim , vague perception
of the truth .
" All this seems strange to you , " continued Holmes , " because
you failed at the beginning of the inquiry to grasp the importance of
the single real clue which was presented to you .
I had the
good fortune to seize upon that , and everything which has occurred
since then has served to confirm my original supposition , and , indeed ,
was the logical sequence of it .
Hence things which have
perplexed you and made the case more obscure have served to enlighten
me and to strengthen my conclusions .
It is a mistake to
confound strangeness with mystery .
The most commonplace crime
is often the most mysterious , because it presents no new or special
features from which deductions may be drawn .
would have been infinitely more difficult to unravel had the body of
the victim been simply found lying in the roadway without any of those
outre and sensational accompaniments which have rendered it
These strange details , far from making the case
more difficult , have really had the effect of making it less so . "
Mr. Gregson , who had listened to this address with
considerable impatience , could contain himself no longer .
" Look here , Mr. Sherlock Holmes , " he said , " we are all ready to
acknowledge that you are a smart man , and that you have your own
methods of working .
We want something more than mere theory
and preaching now , though .
It is a case of taking the man .
I have made my case out , and it seems I was wrong .
Young Charpentier could not have been engaged in this second affair .
Lestrade went after his man , Stangerson , and it appears that
he was wrong too .
You have thrown out hints here , and hints
there , and seem to know more than we do , but the time has come when we
feel that we have a right to ask you straight how much you do know of
the business .
Can you name the man who did it ? "
" I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right , sir , " remarked
" We have both tried , and we have both failed .
You have remarked more than once since I have been in the room
that you had all the evidence which you require .
will not withhold it any longer . "
" Any delay in arresting the assassin , " I observed , " might give
him time to perpetrate some fresh atrocity . "
Thus pressed by us all , Holmes showed signs of irresolution .
He continued to walk up and down the room with his head sunk
on his chest and his brows drawn down , as was his habit when lost in
" There will be no more murders , " he said at last , stopping
abruptly and facing us .
" You can put that consideration out
of the question .
You have asked me if I know the name of the
I do .
The mere knowing of his name is a
small thing , however , compared with the power of laying our hands upon
This I expect very shortly to do .
I have good
hopes of managing it through my own arrangements ; but it is a thing
which needs delicate handling , for we have a shrewd and desperate man
to deal with , who is supported , as I have had occasion to prove , by
another who is as clever as himself .
As long as this man has
no idea that anyone can have a clue there is some chance of securing
him- but if he had the slightest suspicion , he would change his name ,
and vanish in an instant among the four million inhabitants of this
great city .
Without meaning to hurt either of your feelings ,
I am bound to say that I consider these men to be more than a match
for the official force , and that is why I have not asked your
If I fail , I shall , of course , incur all the
blame due to this omission ; but that I am prepared for .
present I am ready to promise that the instant that I can communicate
with you without endangering my own combinations , I shall do so . "
Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from satisfied by this
assurance , or by the depreciating allusion to the detective police .
The former had flushed up to the roots of his flaxen hair ,
while the other's beady eyes glistened with curiosity and resentment .
Neither of them had time to speak , however , before there was
a tap at the door , and the spokesman of the street Arabs , young
Wiggins , introduced his insignificant and unsavoury person .
" Please , sir , " he said , touching his forelock , " I have the cab
downstairs . "
" Good boy , " said Holmes , blandly .
" Why don't you
introduce this pattern at Scotland Yard ? " he continued , taking a pair
of steel handcuffs from a drawer .
" See how beautifully the
spring works .
They fasten in an instant . "
" The old pattern is good enough , " remarked Lestrade , " if we
can only find the man to put them on . "
" Very good , very good , " said Holmes , smiling .
cabman may as well help me with my boxes .
Just ask him to
step up , Wiggins . "
I was surprised to find my companion speaking as though he
were about to set out on a journey , since he had not said anything to
me about it .
There was a small portmanteau in the room , and
this he pulled out and began to strap .
He was busily engaged
at it when the cabman entered the room .
" Just give me a help with this buckle , cabman , " he said ,
kneeling over his task , and never turning his head .
The fellow came forward with a somewhat sullen , defiant air ,
and put down his hands to assist .
At that instant there was a
sharp click , the jangling of metal , and Sherlock Holmes sprang to his
feet again .
" Gentlemen , " he cried , with flashing eyes , " let me introduce
you to Mr. Jefferson Hope , the murderer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph
Stangerson . "
The whole thing occurred in a moment -- so quickly that I had
no time to realize it .
I have a vivid recollection of that
instant , of Holmes's triumphant expression and the ring of his voice ,
of the cabman's dazed , savage face , as he glared at the glittering
handcuffs , which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists .
For a second or two we might have been a group of statues .
Then with an inarticulate roar of fury , the prisoner wrenched himself
free from Holmes's grasp , and hurled himself through the window .
Woodwork and glass gave way before him ; but before he got quite
through , Gregson , Lestrade , and Holmes sprang upon him like so many
He was dragged back into the room , and then
commenced a terrific conflict .
So powerful and so fierce was
he that the four of us were shaken off again and again .
appeared to have the convulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit .
His face and hands were terribly mangled by his passage
through the glass , but loss of blood had no effect in diminishing his
It was not until Lestrade succeeded in getting
his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made him
realize that his struggles were of no avail ; and even then we felt no
security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands .
That done , we rose to our feet breathless and panting .
" We have his cab , " said Sherlock Holmes .
" It will
serve to take him to Scotland Yard .
And now , gentlemen , " he
continued , with a pleasant smile , " we have reached the end of our
little mystery .
You are very welcome to put any questions
that you like to me now , and there is no danger that I will refuse to
answer them . "
In the central portion of the great North American Continent
there lies an arid and repulsive desert , which for many a long year
served as a barrier against the advance of civilization .
the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska , and from the Yellowstone River in the
north to the Colorado upon the south , is a region of desolation and
Nor is Nature always in one mood throughout this
grim district .
It comprises snow-capped and lofty mountains ,
and dark and gloomy valleys .
There are swift-flowing rivers
which dash through jagged canons ; and there are enormous plains , which
in winter are white with snow , and in summer are gray with the saline
alkali dust .
They all preserve , however , the common
characteristics of barrenness , inhospitality , and misery .
There are no inhabitants of this land of despair .
band of Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it in order
to reach other hunting-grounds , but the hardiest of the braves are
glad to lose sight of those awesome plains , and to find themselves
once more upon their prairies .
The coyote skulks among the
scrub , the buzzard flaps heavily through the air , and the clumsy
grizzly bear lumbers through the dark ravines , and picks up such
sustenance as it can amongst the rocks .
These are the sole
dwellers in the wilderness .
In the whole world there can be no more dreary view than that
from the northern slope of the Sierra Blanco .
As far as the
eye can reach stretches the great flat plain-land , all dusted over
with patches of alkali , and intersected by clumps of the dwarfish
chaparral bushes .
On the extreme verge of the horizon lie a
long chain of mountain peaks , with their rugged summits flecked with
In this great stretch of country there is no sign of
life , nor of anything appertaining to life .
There is no bird
in the steel-blue heaven , no movement upon the dull , gray earth --
above all , there is absolute silence .
Listen as one may ,
there is no shadow of a sound in all that mighty wilderness ; nothing
but silence -- complete and heart-subduing silence .
It has been said there is nothing appertaining to life upon
the broad plain .
That is hardly true .
from the Sierra Blanco , one sees a pathway traced out across the
desert , which winds away and is lost in the extreme distance .
It is rutted with wheels and trodden down by the feet of many
Here and there there are scattered white objects
which glisten in the sun , and stand out against the dull deposit of
Approach , and examine them !
They are bones :
some large and coarse , others smaller and more delicate .
former have belonged to oxen , and the latter to men .
fifteen hundred miles one may trace this ghastly caravan route by
these scattered remains of those who had fallen by the wayside .
Looking down on this very scene , there stood upon the fourth
of May , eighteen hundred and forty-seven , a solitary traveller .
His appearance was such that he might have been the very genius or
demon of the region .
An observer would have found it
difficult to say whether he was nearer to forty or to sixty .
His face was lean and haggard , and the brown parchment-like skin was
drawn tightly over the projecting bones ; his long , brown hair and
beard were all flecked and dashed with white ; his eyes were sunken in
his head , and burned with an unnatural lustre ; while the hand which
grasped his rifle was hardly more fleshy than that of a skeleton .
As he stood , he leaned upon his weapon for support , and yet his
tall figure and the massive framework of his bones suggested a wiry
and vigorous constitution .
His gaunt face , however , and his
clothes , which hung so baggily over his shrivelled limbs , proclaimed
what it was that gave him that senile and decrepit appearance .
The man was dying -- dying from hunger and from thirst .
He had toiled painfully down the ravine , and on to this little
elevation , in the vain hope of seeing some signs of water .
Now the great salt plain stretched before his eyes , and the distant
belt of savage mountains , without a sign anywhere of plant or tree ,
which might indicate the presence of moisture .
In all that
broad landscape there was no gleam of hope .
North , and east ,
and west he looked with wild , questioning eyes , and then he realized
that his wanderings had come to an end , and that there , on that barren
crag , he was about to die .
" Why not here , as well as in a
feather bed , twenty years hence ? " he muttered , as he seated himself in
the shelter of a boulder .
Before sitting down , he had deposited upon the ground his
useless rifle , and also a large bundle tied up in a gray shawl , which
he had carried slung over his right shoulder .
It appeared to
be somewhat too heavy for his strength , for in lowering it , it came
down on the ground with some little violence .
broke from the gray parcel a little moaning cry , and from it there
protruded a small , scared face , with very bright brown eyes , and two
little speckled dimpled fists .
" You've hurt me ! " said a childish voice , reproachfully .
" Have I , though ? " the man answered penitently ; " I didn't go
for to do it . "
As he spoke he unwrapped the gray shawl and
extricated a pretty little girl of about five years of age , whose
dainty shoes and smart pink frock with its little linen apron , all
bespoke a mother's care .
The child was pale and wan , but her
healthy arms and legs showed that she had suffered less than her
" How is it now ? " he answered anxiously , for she was still
rubbing the tousy golden curls which covered the back of her head .
" Kiss it and make it well , " she said , with perfect gravity ,
showing the injured part up to him .
" That's what mother used
to do .
Where's mother ? "
" Mother's gone .
I guess you'll see her before long . "
" Gone , eh ! " said the little girl .
" Funny , she didn't
say good-bye ; she most always did if she was just goin' over to
auntie's for tea , and now she's been away three days .
it's awful dry , ain't it ?
Ain't there no water nor nothing to
eat ? "
" No , there ain't nothing , dearie .
You'll just need to
be patient awhile , and then you'll be all right .
head up ag'in me like that , and then you'll feel bullier .
ain't easy to talk when your lips is like leather , but I guess I'd
best let you know how the cards lie .
What's that you've got ? "
" Pretty things ! fine things ! " cried the little girl
enthusiastically , holding up two glittering fragments of mica .
" When we goes back to home I'll give them to brother Bob . "
" You'll see prettier things than them soon , " said the man
" You just wait a bit .
I was going to
tell you though -- you remember when we left the river ? "
" Oh , yes . "
" Well , we reckoned we'd strike another river soon , d'ye see .
But there was somethin' wrong ; compasses , or map , or
somethin' , and it didn't turn up .
Water ran out .
Just except a little drop for the likes of you , and -- and -- "
" And you couldn't wash yourself , " interrupted his companion
gravely , staring up at his grimy visage .
" No , nor drink .
And Mr. Bender , he was the fust to
go , and then Indian Pete , and then Mrs. McGregor , and then Johnny
Hones , and then , dearie , your mother . "
" Then mother's a deader too , " cried the little girl , dropping
her face in her pinafore and sobbing bitterly .
" Yes , they all went except you and me .
Then I thought
there was some chance of water in this direction , so I heaved you over
my shoulder and we tramped it together .
It don't seem as
though we've improved matters .
There's an almighty small
chance for us now ! "
" Do you mean that we are going to die to ? " asked the child ,
checking her sobs , and raising her tear-stained face .
" I guess that's about the size of it . "
" Why didn't you say so before ? " she said , laughing gleefully .
" You gave me such a fright .
Why , of course , now as
long as we die we'll be with mother again . "
" Yes , you will , dearie . "
" And you too .
I'll tell her how awful good you've
I'll bet she meets us at the door of heaven with a big
pitcher of water , and a lot of buckwheat cakes , hot and toasted on
both sides , like Bob and me was fond of .
How long will it be
first ? "
" I don't know -- not very long . "
The man's eyes were
fixed upon the northern horizon .
In the blue vault of the
heaven there had appeared three little specks which increased in size
every moment , so rapidly did they approach .
resolved themselves into three large brown birds , which circled over
the heads of the two wanderers , and then settled upon some rocks which
overlooked them .
They were buzzards , the vultures of the
West , whose coming is the forerunner of death .
" Cocks and hens , " cried the little girl gleefully , pointing at
their ill-omened forms , and clapping her hands to make them rise .
" Say , did God make this country ? "
" Of course He did , " said her companion , rather startled by
this unexpected question .
" He made the country down in Illinois , and He made the
Missouri , " the little girl continued .
" I guess somebody else
made the country in these parts .
It's not nearly so well
They forgot the water and the trees . "
" What would ye think of offering up prayer ? " the man asked
" It ain't night yet , " she answered .
" It don't matter .
It ain't quite regular , but He
won't mind that , you bet .
You say over them ones that you
used to say every night in the wagon when we was on the plains . "
" Why don't you say some yourself ? " the child asked , with
wondering eyes .
" I disremember them , " he answered .
" I hain't said
none since I was half the height o' that gun .
I guess it's
never too late .
You say them out , and I'll stand by and come
in on the choruses . "
" Then you'll need to kneel down , and me too , " she said , laying
the shawl out for that purpose .
" You've got to put your hands
up like this .
It makes you feel kind of good . "
It was a strange sight , had there been anything but the
buzzards to see it .
Side by side on the narrow shawl knelt
the two wanderers , the little prattling child and the reckless ,
hardened adventurer .
Her chubby face and his haggard , angular
visage were both turned up to the cloudless heaven in heartfelt
entreaty to that dread Being with whom they were face to face , while
the two voices -- the one thin and clear , the other deep and harsh --
united in the entreaty for mercy and forgiveness .
finished , they resumed their seat in the shadow of the boulder until
the child fell asleep , nestling upon the broad breast of her
He watched over her slumber for some time , but
Nature proved to be too strong for him .
For three days and
three nights he had allowed himself neither rest nor repose .
Slowly the eyelids drooped over the tired eyes , and the head sunk
lower and lower upon the breast , until the man's grizzled beard was
mixed with the gold tresses of his companion , and both slept the same
deep and dreamless slumber .
Had the wanderer remained awake for another half-hour a
strange sight would have met his eyes .
Far away on the
extreme verge of the alkali plain there rose up a little spray of
dust , very slight at first , and hardly to be distinguished from the
mists of the distance , but gradually growing higher and broader until
it formed a solid , well-defined cloud .
This cloud continued
to increase in size until it became evident that it could only be
raised by a great multitude of moving creatures .
fertile spots the observer would have come to the conclusion that one
of those great herds of bisons which graze upon the prairie land was
approaching him .
This was obviously impossible in these arid
As the whirl of dust drew nearer to the solitary bluff
upon which the two castaways were reposing , the canvas-covered tilts
of wagons and the figures of armed horsemen began to show up through
the haze , and the apparition revealed itself as being a great caravan
upon its journey for the West .
But what a caravan !
When the head of it had reached the base of the mountains , the rear
was not yet visible on the horizon .
Right across the enormous
plain stretched the straggling array , wagons and carts , men on
horseback , and men on foot .
Innumerable women who staggered
along under burdens , and children who toddled beside the wagons or
peeped out from under the white coverings .
This was evidently
no ordinary party of immigrants , but rather some nomad people who had
been compelled from stress of circumstances to seek themselves a new
There rose through the clear air a confused
clattering and rumbling from this great mass of humanity , with the
creaking of wheels and the neighing of horses .
Loud as it
was , it was not sufficient to rouse the two tired wayfarers above
At the head of the column there rode a score or more of grave ,
iron-faced men , clad in sombre homespun garments and armed with
On reaching the base of the bluff they halted , and
held a short council among themselves .
" The wells are to the right , my brothers , " said one , a
hard-lipped , clean-shaven man with grizzly hair .
" To the right of the Sierra Blanco -- so we shall reach the
Rio Grande , " said another .
" Fear not for water , " cried a third .
" He who could
draw it from the rocks will not now abandon His own chosen people . "
" Amen ! amen ! " responded the whole party .
They were about to resume their journey when one of the
youngest and keenest-eyed uttered an exclamation and pointed up at
the rugged crag above them .
From its summit there fluttered
a little wisp of pink , showing up hard and bright against the gray
rocks behind .
At the sight there was a general reining up of
horses and unslinging of guns , while fresh horsemen came galloping up
to reinforce the vanguard .
The word " Redskins " was on every
" There can't be any number of Injuns here , " said the elderly
man who appeared to be in command .
" We have passed the
Pawlees , and there are no other tribes until we cross the great
mountains . "
" Shall I go forward and see , Brother Stangerson ? " asked one of
the band .
" And I , " " And I , " cried a dozen voices .
" Leave your horses below and we will await you here , " the
elder answered .
In a moment the young fellows had dismounted ,
fastened their horses , and were ascending the precipitous slope which
led up to the object which had excited their curiosity .
advanced rapidly and noiselessly , with the confidence and dexterity of
practised scouts .
The watchers from the plain below could see
them flit from rock to rock until their figures stood out against the
The young man who had first given the alarm was
leading them .
Suddenly his followers saw him throw up his
hands , as though overcome with astonishment , and on joining him they
were affected in the same way by the sight which met their eyes .
On the little plateau which crowned the barren hill there
stood a single giant boulder , and against this boulder there lay a
tall man , long-bearded and hard-featured , but of an excessive
His placid face and regular breathing showed that
he was fast asleep .
Beside him lay a child , with her round
white arms encircling his brown sinewy neck , and her golden-haired
head resting upon the breast of his velveteen tunic .
lips were parted , showing the regular line of snow-white teeth within ,
and a playful smile played over her infantile features .
plump little white legs , terminating in white socks and neat shoes
with shining buckles , offered a strange contrast to the long
shrivelled members of her companion .
On the ledge of rock
above this strange couple there stood three solemn buzzards , who , at
the sight of the newcomers , uttered raucous screams of disappointment
and flapped sullenly away .
The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleepers , who stared
about them in bewilderment .
The man staggered to his feet and
looked down upon the plain which had been so desolate when sleep had
overtaken him , and which was now traversed by this enormous body of
men and of beasts .
His face assumed an expression of
incredulity as he gazed , and he passed his bony hand over his eyes .
" This is what they call delirium , I guess " he muttered .
The child stood beside him , holding on to the skirt of his coat ,
and said nothing , but looked all round her with the wondering ,
questioning gaze of childhood .
The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two
castaways that their appearance was no delusion .
One of them
seized the little girl and hoisted her upon his shoulder , while two
others supported her gaunt companion , and assisted him towards the
" My name is John Ferrier , " the wanderer explained ; " me and
that little un are all that's left o' twenty-one people .
rest is all dead o' thirst and hunger away down in the south . "
" Is she your child ? " asked someone .
" I guess she is now , " the other cried , defiantly ; " she's mine
'cause I saved her .
No man will take her from me .
She's Lucy Ferrier from this day on .
Who are you , though ? " he
continued , glancing with curiosity at his stalwart , sunburned
rescuers ; " there seems to be a powerful lot of ye . "
" Nigh unto ten thousand , " said one of the young men ; " we are
the persecuted children of God -- the chosen of the Angel Moroni . "
" I never heard tell on him , " said the wanderer .
appears to have chosen a fair crowd of ye . "
" Do not jest at that which is sacred , " said the other ,
" We are of those who believe in those sacred
writings , drawn in Egyptian letters on plates of beaten gold , which
were handed unto the holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra .
come from Nauvoo , in the state of Illinois , where we had founded our
We have come to seek a refuge from the violent man
and from the godless , even though it be the heart of the desert . "
The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recollections to John
" I see , " he said ; " you are the Mormons . "
" We are the Mormons , " answered his companions with one voice .
" And where are you going ? "
" We do not know .
The hand of God is leading us under
the person of our Prophet .
You must come before him .
He shall say what is to be done with you . "
They had reached the base of the hill by this time , and were
surrounded by crowds of the pilgrims -- pale-faced , meek-looking
women ; strong , laughing children ; and anxious , earnest-eyed men .
Many were the cries of astonishment and of commiseration which
arose from them when they perceived the youth of one of the strangers
and the destitution of the other .
Their escort did not halt ,
however , but pushed on , followed by a great crowd of Mormons , until
they reached a wagon , which was conspicuous for its great size and for
the gaudiness and smartness of its appearance .
were yoked to it , whereas the others were furnished with two , or , at
most , four apiece .
Beside the driver there sat a man who
could not have been more than thirty years of age , but whose massive
head and resolute expression marked him as a leader .
reading a brown-backed volume , but as the crowd approached he laid it
aside , and listened attentively to an account of the episode .
Then he turned to the two castaways .
" If we take you with us , " he said , in solemn words , " it can
only be as believers in our own creed .
We shall have no
wolves in our fold .
Better far that your bones should bleach
in this wilderness than that you should prove to be that little speck
of decay which in time corrupts the whole fruit .
come with us on these terms ? "
" Guess I'll come with you on any terms , " said Ferrier , with
such emphasis that the grave Elders could not restrain a smile .
The leader alone retained his stern , impressive expression .
" Take him , Brother Stangerson , " he said , " give him food and
drink , and the child likewise .
Let it be your task also to
teach him our holy creed .
We have delayed long enough .
On , on to Zion ! "
" On , on to Zion ! " cried the crowd of Mormons , and the words
rippled down the long caravan , passing from mouth to mouth until they
died away in a dull murmur in the far distance .
cracking of whips and a creaking of wheels the great wagons got into
motion , and soon the whole caravan was winding along once more .
The Elder to whose care the two waifs had been committed led them
to his wagon , where a meal was already awaiting them .
" You shall remain here , " he said .
" In a few days you
will have recovered from your fatigues .
In the meantime ,
remember that now and forever you are of our religion .
Brigham Young has said it , and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph
Smith , which is the voice of God . "
This is not the place to commemorate the trials and privations
endured by the immigrant Mormons before they came to their final
From the shores of the Mississippi to the western
slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had struggled on with a constancy
almost unparalleled in history .
The savage man , and the
savage beast , hunger , thirst , fatigue , and disease -- every impediment
which Nature could place in the way -- had all been overcome with
Anglo-Saxon tenacity .
Yet the long journey and the
accumulated terrors had shaken the hearts of the stoutest among them .
There was not one who did not sink upon his knees in
heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad valley of Utah bathed in the
sunlight beneath them , and learned from the lips of their leader that
this was the promised land , and that these virgin acres were to be
theirs for evermore .
Young speedily proved himself to be a skillful administrator as
well as a resolute chief .
Maps were drawn and charts
prepared , in which the future city was sketched out .
around farms were apportioned and allotted in proportion to the
standing of each individual .
The tradesman was put to his
trade and the artisan to his calling .
In the town streets and
squares sprang up as if by magic .
In the country there was
draining and hedging , planting and clearing , until the next summer saw
the whole country golden with the wheat crop .
prospered in the strange settlement .
Above all , the great
temple which they had erected in the centre of the city grew ever
taller and larger .
From the first blush of dawn until the
closing of the twilight , the clatter of the hammer and the rasp of the
saw were never absent from the monument which the immigrants erected
to Him who had led them safe through many dangers .
The two castaways , John Ferrier and the little girl , who had
shared his fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter , accompanied
the Mormons to the end of their great pilgrimage .
Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough in Elder Stangerson's wagon ,
a retreat which she shared with the Mormon's three wives and with his
son , a headstrong , forward boy of twelve .
Having rallied ,
with the elasticity of childhood , from the shock caused by her
mother's death , she soon became a pet with the women , and reconciled
herself to this new life in her moving canvas-covered home .
In the meantime Ferrier having recovered from his privations ,
distinguished himself as a useful guide and an indefatigable hunter .
So rapidly did he gain the esteem of his new companions , that
when they reached the end of their wanderings , it was unanimously
agreed that he should be provided with as large and as fertile a tract
of land as any of the settlers , with the exception of Young himself ,
and of Stangerson , Kemball , Johnston , and Drebber , who were the four
principal Elders .
On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a
substantial log-house , which received so many additions in succeeding
years that it grew into a roomy villa .
He was a man of a
practical turn of mind , keen in his dealings and skillful with his
His iron constitution enabled him to work morning and
evening at improving and tilling his lands .
Hence it came
about that his farm and all that belonged to him prospered
In three years he was better off than his
neighbours , in six he was well-to-do , in nine he was rich , and in
twelve there were not half a dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City
who could compare with him .
From the great inland sea to the
distant Wasatch Mountains there was no name better known than that of
John Ferrier .
There was one way and only one in which he offended the
susceptibilities of his co-religionists .
No argument or
persuasion could ever induce him to set up a female establishment
after the manner of his companions .
He never gave reasons for
this persistent refusal , but contented himself by resolutely and
inflexibly adhering to his determination .
There were some who
accused him of lukewarmness in his adopted religion , and others who
put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to incur expense .
Others , again , spoke of some early love affair , and of a
fair-haired girl who had pined away on the shores of the Atlantic .
Whatever the reason , Ferrier remained strictly celibate .
In every other respect he conformed to the religion of the young
settlement , and gained the name of being an orthodox and
straightwalking man .
Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house , and assisted her
adopted father in all his undertakings .
The keen air of the
mountains and the balsamic odour of the pine trees took the place of
nurse and mother to the young girl .
As year succeeded to year
she grew taller and stronger , her cheek more ruddy and her step more
Many a wayfarer upon the high road which ran by
Ferrier's farm felt long-forgotten thoughts revive in his mind as he
watched her lithe , girlish figure tripping through the wheatfields , or
met her mounted upon her father's mustang , and managing it with all
the ease and grace of a true child of the West .
So the bud
blossomed into a flower , and the year which saw her father the richest
of the farmers left her as fair a specimen of American girlhood as
could be found in the whole Pacific slope .
It was not the father , however , who first discovered that the
child had developed into the woman .
It seldom is in such
That mysterious change is too subtle and too gradual
to be measured by dates .
Least of all does the maiden herself
know it until the tone of a voice or the touch of a hand sets her
heart thrilling within her , and she learns , with a mixture of pride
and of fear , that a new and a larger nature has awakened within her .
There are few who cannot recall that day and remember the one
little incident which heralded the dawn of a new life .
case of Lucy Ferrier the occasion was serious enough in itself , apart
from its future influence on her destiny and that of many besides .
It was a warm June morning , and the Latter Day Saints were as
busy as the bees whose hive they have chosen for their emblem .
In the fields and in the streets rose the same hum of human
Down the dusty high roads defiled long streams of
heavily laden mules , all heading to the west , for the gold fever had
broken out in California , and the overland route lay through the city
of the Elect .
There , too , were droves of sheep and bullocks
coming in from the outlying pasture lands , and trains of tired
immigrants , men and horses equally weary of their interminable
Through all this motley assemblage , threading her
way with the skill of an accomplished rider , there galloped Lucy
Ferrier , her fair face flushed with the exercise and her long chestnut
hair floating out behind her .
She had a commission from her
father in the city , and was dashing in as she had done many a time
before , with all the fearlessness of youth , thinking only of her task
and how it was to be performed .
adventurers gazed after her in astonishment , and even the unemotional
Indians , journeying in with their peltries , relaxed their accustomed
stoicism as they marvelled at the beauty of the pale-faced maiden .
She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the
road blocked by a great drove of cattle , driven by a half-dozen
wild-looking herdsmen from the plains .
In her impatience she
endeavoured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse into what
appeared to be a gap .
Scarcely had she got fairly into it ,
however , before the beasts closed in behind her , and she found herself
completely embedded in the moving stream of fierce-eyed , long-horned
Accustomed as she was to deal with cattle , she was
not alarmed at her situation , but took advantage of every opportunity
to urge her horse on , in the hopes of pushing her way through the
Unfortunately the horns of one of the creatures ,
either by accident or design , came in violent contact with the flank
of the mustang , and excited it to madness .
In an instant it
reared up upon its hind legs with a snort of rage , and pranced and
tossed in a way that would have unseated any but a skillful rider .
The situation was full of peril .
Every plunge of the
excited horse brought it against the horns again , and goaded it to
fresh madness .
It was all that the girl could do to keep
herself in the saddle , yet a slip would mean a terrible death under
the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified animals .
to sudden emergencies , her head began to swim , and her grip upon the
bridle to relax .
Choked by the rising cloud of dust and by
the steam from the struggling creatures , she might have abandoned her
efforts in despair , but for a kindly voice at her elbow which assured
her of assistance .
At the same moment a sinewy brown hand
caught the frightened horse by the curb , and forcing a way through the
drove , soon brought her to the outskirts .
" You're not hurt , I hope , miss , " said her preserver ,
She looked up at his dark , fierce face , and laughed saucily .
" I'm awful frightened , " she said , naively ; " whoever would have
thought that Poncho would have been so scared by a lot of cows ? "
" Thank God , you kept your seat , " the other said , earnestly .
He was a tall , savage-looking young fellow , mounted on a
powerful roan horse , and clad in the rough dress of a hunter , with a
long rifle slung over his shoulders .
" I guess you are the
daughter of John Ferrier , " he remarked ; " I saw you ride down from his
When you see him , ask him if he remembers the
Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis .
If he's the same Ferrier , my
father and he were pretty thick . "
" Hadn't you better come and ask yourself ? " she asked ,
The young fellow seemed pleased at the suggestion , and his
dark eyes sparkled with pleasure .
" I'll do so , " he said ;
" we've been in the mountains for two months , and are not over and
above in visiting condition .
He must take us as he finds us . "
" He has a good deal to thank you for , and so have I , " she
answered ; " he's awful fond of me .
If those cows had jumped on
me he'd have never got over it . "
" Neither would I , " said her companion .
" You !
Well , I don't see that it would make much
matter to you , anyhow .
You ain't even a friend of ours . "
The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy over this remark
that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud .
" There , I didn't mean that , " she said ; " of course , you are a
friend now .
You must come and see us .
Now I must
push along , or father won't trust me with his business any more .
Good-bye ! "
" Good-bye , " he answered , raising his broad sombrero , and
bending over her little hand .
She wheeled her mustang round ,
gave it a cut with her riding-whip , and darted away down the broad
road in a rolling cloud of dust .
Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his companions , gloomy and
He and they had been among the Nevada Mountains
prospecting for silver , and were returning to Salt Lake City in the
hope of raising capital enough to work some lodes which they had
He had been as keen as any of them upon the
business until this sudden incident had drawn his thoughts into
another channel .
The sight of the fair young girl , as frank
and wholesome as the Sierra breezes , had stirred his volcanic , untamed
heart to its very depths .
When she had vanished from his
sight , he realized that a crisis had come in his life , and that
neither silver speculations nor any other questions could ever be of
such importance to him as this new and all-absorbing one .
love which had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden , changeable
fancy of a boy , but rather the wild , fierce passion of a man of strong
will and imperious temper .
He had been accustomed to succeed
in all that he undertook .
He swore in his heart that he would
not fail in this if human effort and human perseverance could render
him successful .
He called on John Ferrier that night , and many times again ,
until his face was a familiar one at the farmhouse .
cooped up in the valley , and absorbed in his work , had had little
chance of learning the news of the outside world during the last
twelve years .
All this Jefferson Hope was able to tell him ,
and in a style which interested Lucy as well as her father .
He had been a pioneer in California , and could narrate many a strange
tale of fortunes made and fortunes lost in those wild , halcyon days .
He had been a scout too , and a trapper , a silver explorer ,
and a ranchman .
Wherever stirring adventures were to be had ,
Jefferson Hope had been there in search of them .
became a favourite with the old farmer , who spoke eloquently of his
On such occasions , Lucy was silent , but her blushing
cheek and her bright , happy eyes showed only too clearly that her
young heart was no longer her own .
Her honest father may not
have observed these symptoms , but they were assuredly not thrown away
upon the man who had won her affections .
One summer evening he came galloping down the road and pulled
up at the gate .
She was at the doorway , and came down to meet
He threw the bridle over the fence and strode up the
" I am off , Lucy , " he said , taking her two hands in his , and
gazing tenderly down into her face : " I won't ask you to come with me
now , but will you be ready to come when I am here again ? "
" And when will that be ? " she asked , blushing and laughing .
" A couple of months at the outside .
I will come and
claim you then , my darling .
There's no one who can stand
between us . "
" And how about father ? " she asked .
" He has given his consent , provided we get these mines working
all right .
I have no fear on that head . "
" Oh , well ; of course , if you and father have arranged it all ,
there's no more to be said , " she whispered , with her cheek against his
broad breast .
" Thank God ! " he said , hoarsely , stooping and kissing her .
" It is settled , then .
The longer I stay , the harder it
will be to go .
They are waiting for me at the canon .
Good-bye , my own darling -- good-bye .
In two months you shall
see me . "
He tore himself from her as he spoke , and , flinging himself
upon his horse , galloped furiously away , never even looking round , as
though afraid that his resolution might fail him if he took one glance
at what he was leaving .
She stood at the gate , gazing after
him until he vanished from her sight .
Then she walked back
into the house , the happiest girl in all Utah .
Three weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope and his comrades
had departed from Salt Lake City .
John Ferrier's heart was
sore within him when he thought of the young man's return , and of the
impending loss of his adopted child .
Yet her bright and happy
face reconciled him to the arrangement more than any argument could
have done .
He had always determined , deep down in his
resolute heart , that nothing would ever induce him to allow his
daughter to wed a Mormon .
Such marriage he regarded as no
marriage at all , but as a shame and a disgrace .
might think of the Mormon doctrines , upon that one point he was
He had to seal his mouth on the subject , however ,
for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those
days in the Land of the Saints .
Yes , a dangerous matter -- so dangerous that even the most
saintly dared only whisper their religious opinions with bated breath ,
lest something which fell from their lips might be misconstrued , and
bring down a swift retribution upon them .
The victims of
persecution had now turned persecutors on their own account , and
persecutors of the most terrible description .
Inquisition of Seville , nor the German Vehmgericht , nor the secret
societies of Italy , were ever able to put a more formidable machinery
in motion than that which cast a cloud over the state of Utah .
Its invisibility , and the mystery which was attached to it ,
made this organization doubly terrible .
It appeared to be
omniscient and omnipotent , and yet was neither seen nor heard .
The man who held out against the Church vanished away , and none
knew whither he had gone or what had befallen him .
and his children awaited him at home , but no father ever returned to
tell them how he had fared at the hands of his secret judges .
A rash word or a hasty act was followed by annihilation , and yet none
knew what the nature might be of this terrible power which was
suspended over them .
No wonder that men went about in fear
and trembling , and that even in the heart of the wilderness they dared
not whisper the doubts which oppressed them .
At first this vague and terrible power was exercised only upon
the recalcitrants who , having embraced the Mormon faith , wished
afterwards to pervert or to abandon it .
Soon , however , it
took a wider range .
The supply of adult women was running
short , and polygamy without a female population on which to draw was a
barren doctrine indeed .
Strange rumours began to be bandied
about -- rumours of murdered immigrants and rifled camps in regions
where Indians had never been seen .
Fresh women appeared in
the harems of the Elders -- women who pined and wept , and bore upon
their faces the traces of an unextinguishable horror .
wanderers upon the mountains spoke of gangs of armed men , masked ,
stealthy , and noiseless , who flitted by them in the darkness .
These tales and rumours took substance and shape , and were
corroborated and recorroborated , until they resolved themselves into a
definite name .
To this day , in the lonely ranches of the
West , the name of the Danite Band , or the Avenging Angels , is a
sinister and an ill-omened one .
Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such
terrible results served to increase rather than to lessen the horror
which it inspired in the minds of men .
None knew who belonged
to this ruthless society .
The names of the participators in
the deeds of blood and violence done under the name of religion were
kept profoundly secret .
The very friend to whom you
communicated your misgivings as to the Prophet and his mission might
be one of those who would come forth at night with fire and sword to
exact a terrible reparation .
Hence every man feared his
neighbour , and none spoke of the things which were nearest his heart .
One fine morning John Ferrier was about to set out to his
wheatfields , when he heard the click of the latch , and , looking
through the window , saw a stout , sandy-haired , middle-aged man coming
up the pathway .
His heart leapt to his mouth , for this was
none other than the great Brigham Young himself .
trepidation -- for he knew that such a visit boded him little good --
Ferrier ran to the door to greet the Mormon chief .
latter , however , received his salutations coldly , and followed him
with a stern face into the sitting-room .
" Brother Ferrier , " he said , taking a seat , and eyeing the
farmer keenly from under his light-coloured eyelashes , " the true
believers have been good friends to you .
We picked you up
when you were starving in the desert , we shared our food with you , led
you safe to the Chosen Valley , gave you a goodly share of land , and
allowed you to wax rich under our protection .
Is not this
so ? "
" It is so , " answered John Ferrier .
" In return for all this we asked but one condition : that was ,
that you should embrace the true faith , and conform in every way to
its usages .
This you promised to do , and this , if common
report says truly , you have neglected . "
" And how have I neglected it ? " asked Ferrier , throwing out his
hands in expostulation .
" Have I not given to the common fund ?
Have I not attended at the Temple ?
Have I not ? "
" Where are your wives ? " asked Young , looking round him .
" Call them in , that I may greet them . "
" It is true that I have not married , " Ferrier answered .
" But women were few , and there were many who had better claims
than I .
I was not a lonely man : I had my daughter to attend
to my wants . "
" It is of that daughter that I would speak to you , " said the
leader of the Mormons .
" She has grown to be the flower of
Utah , and has found favour in the eyes of many who are high in the
land . "
John Ferrier groaned internally .
" There are stories of her which I would fain disbelieve --
stories that she is sealed to some Gentile .
This must be the
gossip of idle tongues .
What is the thirteenth rule in the
code of the sainted Joseph Smith ?
' Let every maiden of the
true faith marry one of the elect ; for if she wed a Gentile , she
commits a grievous sin . '
This being so , it is impossible that
you , who profess the holy creed , should suffer your daughter to
violate it . "
John Ferrier made no answer , but he played nervously with his
" Upon this one point your whole faith shall be tested -- so it
has been decided in the Sacred Council of Four .
The girl is
young , and we would not have her wed gray hairs , neither would we
deprive her of all choice .
We Elders have many heifers , but
our children must also be provided .
Stangerson has a son , and
Drebber has a son , and either of them would gladly welcome your
daughter to his house .
Let her choose between them .
They are young and rich , and of the true faith .
What say you
to that ? "
Ferrier remained silent for some little time with his brows
" You will give us time , " he said at last .
" My daughter
is very young -- she is scarce of an age to marry . "
" She shall have a month to choose , " said Young , rising from
his seat .
" At the end of that time she shall give her
answer . "
He was passing through the door , when he turned with flushed
face and flashing eyes .
" It were better for you , John
Ferrier , " he thundered , " that you and she were now lying blanched
skeletons upon the Sierra Blanco , than that you should put your weak
wills against the orders of the Holy Four ! "
With a threatening gesture of his hand , he turned from the
door , and Ferrier heard his heavy steps scrunching along the shingly
He was still sitting with his elbow upon his knee , considering
how he should broach the matter to his daughter , when a soft hand was
laid upon his , and looking up , he saw her standing beside him .
One glance at her pale , frightened face showed him that she had
heard what had passed .
" I could not help it , " she said , in answer to his look .
" His voice rang through the house .
Oh , father , father ,
what shall we do ? "
" Don't you scare yourself , " he answered , drawing her to him ,
and passing his broad , rough hand caressingly over her chestnut hair .
" We'll fix it up somehow or another .
You don't find
your fancy kind o' lessening for this chap , do you ? "
A sob and a squeeze of his hand were her only answer .
" No ; of course not .
I shouldn't care to hear you say
you did .
He's a likely lad , and he's a Christian , which is
more than these folks here , in spite o' all their praying and
There's a party starting for Nevada to-morrow , and
I'll manage to send him a message letting him know the hole we are in .
If I know anything o' that young man , he'll be back with a
speed that would whip electro-telegraphs . "
Lucy laughed through her tears at her father's description .
" When he comes , he will advise us for the best .
it is for you that I am frightened , dear .
One hears -- one
hears such dreadful stories about those who oppose the Prophet ;
something terrible always happens to them . "
" But we haven't opposed him yet , " her father answered .
" It will be time to look out for squalls when we do .
have a clear month before us ; at the end of that , I guess we had best
shin out of Utah . "
" Leave Utah ! "
" That's about the size of it . "
" But the farm ? "
" We will raise as much as we can in money , and let the rest
To tell the truth , Lucy , it isn't the first time I have
thought of doing it .
I don't care about knuckling under to
any man , as these folk do to their damed Prophet .
freeborn American , and it's all new to me .
Guess I'm too old
to learn .
If he comes browsing about this farm , he might
chance to run up against a charge of buckshot travelling in the
opposite direction . "
" But they won't let us leave , " his daughter objected .
" Wait till Jefferson comes , and we'll soon manage that .
In the meantime , don't you fret yourself , my dearie , and don't get
your eyes swelled up , else he'll be walking into me when he sees you .
There's nothing to be afeared about , and there's no danger at
all . "
John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in a very
confident tone , but she could not help observing that he paid unusual
care to the fastening of the doors that night , and that he carefully
cleaned and loaded the rusty old shot-gun which hung upon the wall of
his bedroom .
0n the morning which followed his interview with the Mormon
Prophet , John Ferrier went in to Salt Lake City , and having found his
acquaintance , who was bound for the Nevada Mountains , he entrusted him
with his message to Jefferson Hope .
In it he told the young
man of the imminent danger which threatened them , and how necessary it
was that he should return .
Having done thus he felt easier in
his mind , and returned home with a lighter heart .
As he approached his farm , he was surprised to see a horse
hitched to each of the posts of the gate .
surprised was he on the entering to find two young men in possession
of his sitting-room .
One , with a long pale face , was leaning
back in the rocking-chair , with his feet cocked up upon the stove .
The other , a bull-necked youth with coarse , bloated features ,
was standing in front of the window with his hands in his pockets
whistling a popular hymn .
Both of them nodded to Ferrier as
he entered , and the one in the rocking-chair commenced the
" Maybe you don't know us , " he said .
" This here is the
son of Elder Drebber , and I'm Joseph Stangerson , who travelled with
you in the desert when the Lord stretched out His hand and gathered
you into the true fold . "
" As He will all the nations in His own good time , " said the
other in a nasal voice ; " He grindeth slowly but exceeding small . "
John Ferrier bowed coldly .
He had guessed who his
visitors were .
" We have come , " continued Stangerson , " at the advice of our
fathers to solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of us may
seem good to you and to her .
As I have but four wives and
Brother Drebber here has seven , it appears to me that my claim is the
stronger one . "
" Nay , nay , Brother Stangerson , " cried the other ; " the question
is not how many wives we have , but how many we can keep .
father has now given over his mills to me , and I am the richer man . "
" But my prospects are better , " said the other , warmly .
" When the Lord removes my father , I shall have his tanning yard
and his leather factory .
Then I am your elder , and am higher
in the Church . "
" It will be for the maiden to decide , " rejoined young Drebber ,
smirking at his own reflection in the glass .
" We will leave
it all to her decision . "
During this dialogue John Ferrier had stood fuming in the
doorway , hardly able to keep his riding-whip from the backs of his two
" Look here , " he said at last , striding up to them , " when my
daughter summons you , you can come , but until then I don't want to see
your faces again . "
The two young Mormons stared at him in amazement .
their eyes this competition between them for the maiden's hand was the
highest of honours both to her and her father .
" There are two ways out of the room , " cried Ferrier ; " there is
the door , and there is the window .
Which do you care to use ? "
His brown face looked so savage , and his gaunt hands so
threatening , that his visitors sprang to their feet and beat a hurried
The old farmer followed them to the door .
" Let me know when you have settled which it is to be , " he
said , sardonically .
" You shall smart for this ! "
Stangerson cried , white
with rage .
" You have defied the Prophet and the Council of
You shall rue it to the end of your days . "
" The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon you , " cried young
Drebber ; " He will arise and smite you ! "
" Then I'll start the smiting , " exclaimed Ferrier , furiously ,
and would have rushed upstairs for his gun had not Lucy seized him by
the arm and restrained him .
Before he could escape from her ,
the clatter of horses' hoofs told him that they were beyond his reach .
" The young canting rascals ! " he exclaimed , wiping the
perspiration from his forehead ; " I would sooner see you in your grave ,
my girl , than the wife of either of them . "
" And so should I , father . " she answered , with spirit ; " but
Jefferson will soon be here . "
" Yes .
It will not be long before he comes .
The sooner the better , for we do not know what their next move may
be . "
It was , indeed , high time that someone capable of giving
advice and help should come to the aid of the sturdy old farmer and
his adopted daughter .
In the whole history of the settlement
there had never been such a case of rank disobedience to the authority
of the Elders .
If minor errors were punished so sternly , what
would be the fate of this arch rebel ?
Ferrier knew that his
wealth and position would be of no avail to him .
well known and as rich as himself had been spirited away before now ,
and their goods given over to the Church .
He was a brave man ,
but he trembled at the vague , shadowy terrors which hung over him .
Any known danger he could face with a firm lip , but this
suspense was unnerving .
He concealed his fears from his
daughter , however , and affected to make light of the whole matter ,
though she , with the keen eye of love , saw plainly that he was ill at
He expected that he would receive some message or remonstrance
from Young as to his conduct , and he was not mistaken , though it came
in an unlooked-for manner .
Upon rising next morning he found ,
to his surprise , a small square of paper pinned on to the coverlet of
his bed just over his chest .
On it was printed , in bold ,
straggling letters : --
" Twenty-nine days are given you for amendment , and then -- "
The dash was more fear-inspiring than any threat could have
How this warning came into his room puzzled John
Ferrier sorely , for his servants slept in an outhouse , and the doors
and windows had all been secured .
He crumpled the paper up
and said nothing to his daughter , but the incident struck a chill into
his heart .
The twenty-nine days were evidently the balance of
the month which Young had promised .
What strength or courage
could avail against an enemy armed with such mysterious powers ?
The hand which fastened that pin might have struck him to the
heart , and he could never have known who had slain him .
Still more shaken was he next morning .
They had sat
down to their breakfast , when Lucy with a cry of surprise pointed
In the centre of the ceiling was scrawled , with a
burned stick apparently , the number 28 .
To his daughter it
was unintelligible , and he did not enlighten her .
he sat up with his gun and kept watch and ward .
He saw and he
heard nothing , and yet in the morning a great 27 had been painted upon
the outside of his door .
Thus day followed day ; and as sure as morning came he found
that his unseen enemies had kept their register , and had marked up in
some conspicuous position how many days were still left to him out of
the month of grace .
Sometimes the fatal numbers appeared upon
the walls , sometimes upon the floors , occasionally they were on small
placards stuck upon the garden gate or the railings .
his vigilance John Ferrier could not discover whence these daily
warnings proceeded .
A horror which was almost superstitious
came upon him at the sight of them .
He became haggard and
restless , and his eyes had the troubled look of some hunted creature .
He had but one hope in life now , and that was for the arrival
of the young hunter from Nevada .
Twenty had changed to fifteen , and fifteen to ten , but there
was no news of the absentee .
One by one the numbers dwindled
down , and still there came no sign of him .
horseman clattered down the road , or a driver shouted at his team , the
old farmer hurried to the gate , thinking that help had arrived at
At last , when he saw five give way to four and that
again to three , he lost heart , and abandoned all hope of escape .
Single-handed , and with his limited knowledge of the mountains
which surrounded the settlement , he knew that he was powerless .
The more frequented roads were strictly watched and guarded , and
none could pass along them without an order from the Council .
Turn which way he would , there appeared to be no avoiding the blow
which hung over him .
Yet the old man never wavered in his
resolution to part with life itself before he consented to what he
regarded as his daughter's dishonour .
He was sitting alone one evening pondering deeply over his
troubles , and searching vainly for some way out of them .
morning had shown the figure 2 upon the wall of his house , and the
next day would be the last of the allotted time : What was to happen
All manner of vague and terrible fancies filled his
And his daughter -- what was to become of her
after he was gone ?
Was there no escape from the invisible
network which was drawn all round them ?
He sank his head upon
the table and sobbed at the thought of his own impotence .
What was that ?
In the silence he heard a gentle
scratching sound -- low , but very distinct in the quiet of the night .
It came from the door of the house .
into the hall and listened intently .
There was a pause for a
few moments , and then the low , insidious sound was repeated .
Someone was evidently tapping very gently upon one of the panels of
the door .
Was it some midnight assassin who had come to carry
out the murderous orders of the secret tribunal ?
Or was it
some agent who was marking up that the last day of grace had arrived ?
John Ferrier felt that instant death would be better than the
suspense which shook his nerves and chilled his heart .
Springing forward , he drew the bolt and threw the door open .
Outside all was calm and quiet .
The night was fine ,
and the stars were twinkling brightly overhead .
front garden lay before the farmer's eyes bounded by the fence and
gate , but neither there nor on the road was any human being to be
With a sigh of relief , Ferrier looked to right and to
left , until , happening to glance straight down at his own feet , he saw
to his astonishment a man lying flat upon his face upon the ground ,
with arms and legs all asprawl .
So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned up against the
wall with his hand to his throat to stifle his inclination to call
His first thought was that the prostrate figure was that
of some wounded or dying man , but as he watched it he saw it writhe
along the ground and into the hall with the rapidity and noiselessness
of a serpent .
Once within the house the man sprang to his
feet , closed the door , and revealed to the astonished farmer the
fierce face and resolute expression of Jefferson Hope .
" Good God ! " gasped John Ferrier .
" How you scared me !
Whatever made you come in like that ? "
" Give me food , " the other said , hoarsely .
" I have had
no time for bite or sup for eight-and-forty hours . "
himself upon the cold meat and bread which were still lying upon the
table from his host's supper , and devoured it voraciously .
" Does Lucy bear up well ? " he asked , when he had satisfied his hunger .
" Yes .
She does not know the danger , " her father
" That is well .
The house is watched on every side .
That is why I crawled my way up to it .
They may be
darned sharp , but they're not quite sharp enough to catch a Washoe
hunter . "
John Ferrier felt a different man now that he realized that he
had a devoted ally .
He seized the young man's leathery hand
and wrung it cordially .
" You're a man to be proud of , " he
" There are not many who would come to share our danger
and our troubles . "
" You've hit it there , pard , " the young hunter answered .
" I have a respect for you , but if you were alone in this business
I'd think twice before I put my head into such a hornet's nest .
It's Lucy that brings me here , and before harm comes on her I
guess there will be one less o' the Hope family in Utah . "
" What are we to do ? "
" To-morrow is your last day , and unless you act to-night you
are lost .
I have a mule and two horses waiting in the Eagle
How much money have you ? "
" Two thousand dollars in gold , and five in notes . "
" That will do .
I have as much more to add to it .
We must push for Carson City through the mountains .
had best wake Lucy .
It is as well that the servants do not
sleep in the house . "
While Ferrier was absent , preparing his daughter for the
approaching journey , Jefferson Hope packed all the eatables that he
could find into a small parcel , and filled a stoneware jar with water ,
for he knew by experience that the mountain wells were few and far
He had hardly completed his arrangements before the
farmer returned with his daughter all dressed and ready for a start .
The greeting between the lovers was warm , but brief , for
minutes were precious , and there was much to be done .
" We must make our start at once , " said Jefferson Hope speaking
in a low but resolute voice , like one who realizes the greatness of
the peril , but has steeled his heart to meet it .
" The front
and back entrances are watched , but with caution we may get away
through the side window and across the fields .
Once on the
road we are only two miles from the Ravine where the horses are
By daybreak we should be halfway through the
mountains . "
" What if we are stopped ? " asked Ferrier .
Hope slapped the revolver butt which protruded from the front
of his tunic .
" If they are too many for us , we shall take two
or three of them with us , " he said with a sinister smile .
The lights inside the house had all been extinguished , and
from the darkened window Ferrier peered over the fields which had been
his own , and which he was now about to abandon forever .
had long nerved himself to the sacrifice , however and the thought of
the honour and happiness of his daughter outweighed any regret at his
ruined fortunes .
All looked so peaceful and happy , the
rustling trees and the broad silent stretch of grainland , that it was
difficult to realize that the spirit of murder lurked through it all .
Yet the white face and set expression of the young hunter
showed that in his approach to the house he had seen enough to satisfy
him upon that head .
Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes , Jefferson Hope had
the scanty provisions and water , while Lucy had a small bundle
containing a few of her more valued possessions .
window very slowly and carefully , they waited until a dark cloud had
somewhat obscured the night , and then one by one passed through into
the little garden .
With bated breath and crouching figures
they stumbled across it , and gained the shelter of the hedge , which
they skirted until they came to the gap which opened into the
They had just reached this point when the young
man seized his two companions and dragged them down into the shadow ,
where they lay silent and trembling .
It was as well that his prairie training had given Jefferson
Hope the ears of a lynx .
He and his friends had hardly
crouched down before the melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was
heard within a few yards of them , which was immediately answered by
another hoot at a small distance .
At the same moment a vague ,
shadowy figure emerged from the gap for which they had been making ,
and uttered the plaintive signal cry again , on which a second man
appeared out of the obscurity .
" To-morrow at midnight , " said the first , who appeared to be in
" When the whippoorwill calls three times . "
" It is well , " returned the other .
" Shall I tell
Brother Drebber ? "
" Pass it on to him , and from him to the others .
to seven ! "
" Seven to five ! " repeated the other ; and the two figures
flitted away in different directions .
Their concluding words
had evidently been some form of sign and countersign .
instant that their footsteps had died away in the distance , Jefferson
Hope sprang to his feet , and helping his companions through the gap ,
led the way across the fields at the top of his speed , supporting and
half-carrying the girl when her strength appeared to fail her .
" Hurry on ! hurry on ! " he gasped from time to time .
" We are through the line of sentinels .
Everything depends on
Hurry on ! "
Once on the high road , they made rapid progress .
once did they meet anyone , and then they managed to slip into a field ,
and so avoid recognition .
Before reaching the town the hunter
branched away into a rugged and narrow footpath which led to the
Two dark , jagged peaks loomed above them through
the darkness , and the defile which led between them was the Eagle
Canon in which the horses were awaiting them .
instinct Jefferson Hope picked his way among the great boulders and
along the bed of a dried-up water-course , until he came to the retired
corner screened with rocks , where the faithful animals had been
The girl was placed upon the mule , and old Ferrier
upon one of the horses , with his money-bag , while Jefferson Hope led
the other along the precipitous and dangerous path .
It was a bewildering route for anyone who was not accustomed
to face Nature in her wildest moods .
On the one side a great
crag towered up a thousand feet or more , black , stern , and menacing ,
with long basaltic columns upon its rugged surface like the ribs of
some petrified monster .
On the other hand a wild chaos of
boulders and debris made all advance impossible .
two ran the irregular tracks , so narrow in places that they had to
travel in Indian file , and so rough that only practised riders could
have traversed it at all .
Yet , in spite of all dangers and
difficulties , the hearts of the fugitives were light within them , for
every step increased the distance between them and the terrible
despotism from which they were flying .
They soon had a proof , however , that they were still within
the jurisdiction of the Saints .
They had reached the very
wildest and most desolate portion of the pass when the girl gave a
startled cry , and pointed upwards .
On a rock which overlooked
the track , showing out dark and plain against the sky , there stood a
solitary sentinel .
He saw them as soon as they perceived him ,
and his military challenge of " Who goes there ? " rang through the
silent ravine .
" Travellers for Nevada , " said Jefferson Hope , with his hand
upon the rifle which hung by his saddle .
They could see the lonely watcher fingering his gun , and
peering down at them as if dissatisfied at their reply .
" By whose permission ? " he asked .
" The Holy Four , " answered Ferrier .
experiences had taught him that that was the highest authority to
which he could refer .
" Nine to seven , " cried the sentinel .
" Seven to five , " returned Jefferson Hope promptly , remembering
the countersign which he had heard in the garden .
" Pass , and the Lord go with you , " said the voice from above .
Beyond his post the path broadened out , and the horses were
able to break into a trot .
Looking back , they could see the
solitary watcher leaning upon his gun , and knew that they had passed
the outlying post of the chosen people , and that freedom lay before
All night their course lay through intricate defiles and over
irregular and rockstrewn paths .
More than once they lost
their way , but Hope's intimate knowledge of the mountains enabled them
to regain the track once more .
When morning broke , a scene of
marvellous though savage beauty lay before them .
direction the great snow-capped peaks hemmed them in , peeping over
each other's shoulders to the far horizon .
So steep were the
rocky banks on either side of them that the larch and the pine seemed
to be suspended over their heads , and to need only a gust of wind to
come hurtling down upon them .
Nor was the fear entirely an
illusion , for the barren valley was thickly strewn with trees and
boulders which had fallen in a similar manner .
Even as they
passed , a great rock came thundering down with a hoarse rattle which
woke the echoes in the silent gorges , and startled the weary horses
into a gallop .
As the sun rose slowly above the eastern horizon , the caps of
the great mountains lit up one after the other , like lamps at a
festival , until they were all ruddy and glowing .
magnificent spectacle cheered the hearts of the three fugitives and
gave them fresh energy .
At a wild torrent which swept out of
a ravine they called a halt and watered their horses , while they
partook of a hasty breakfast .
Lucy and her father would fain
have rested longer , but Jefferson Hope was inexorable .
will be upon our track by this time , " he said .
depends upon our speed .
Once safe in Carson , we may rest for
the remainder of our lives . "
During the whole of that day they struggled on through the
defiles , and by evening they calculated that they were more than
thirty miles from their enemies .
At night-time they chose the
base of a beetling crag , where the rocks offered some protection from
the chill wind , and there , huddled together for warmth , they enjoyed a
few hours' sleep .
Before daybreak , however , they were up and
on their way once more .
They had seen no signs of any
pursuers , and Jefferson Hope began to think that they were fairly out
of the reach of the terrible organization whose enmity they had
He little knew how far that iron grasp could reach ,
or how soon it was to close upon them and crush them .
About the middle of the second day of their flight their
scanty store of provisions began to run out .
This gave the
hunter little uneasiness , however , for there was game to be had among
the mountains , and he had frequently before had to depend upon his
rifle for the needs of life .
Choosing a sheltered nook , he
piled together a few dried branches and made a blazing fire , at which
his companions might warm themselves , for they were now nearly five
thousand feet above the sea level , and the air was bitter and keen .
Having tethered the horses , and bid Lucy adieu , he threw his
gun over his shoulder , and set out in search of whatever chance might
throw in his way .
Looking back , he saw the old man and the
young girl crouching over the blazing fire , while the three animals
stood motionless in the background .
Then the intervening
rocks hid them from his view .
He walked for a couple of miles through one ravine after
another without success , though , from the marks upon the bark of the
trees , and other indications , he judged that there were numerous bears
in the vicinity .
At last , after two or three hours' fruitless
search , he was thinking of turning back in despair , when casting his
eyes upwards he saw a sight which sent a thrill of pleasure through
his heart .
On the edge of a jutting pinnacle , three or four
hundred feet above him , there stood a creature somewhat resembling a
sheep in appearance , but armed with a pair of gigantic horns .
The big-horn -- for so it is called -- was acting , probably , as a
guardian over a flock which were invisible to the hunter ; but
fortunately it was heading in the opposite direction , and had not
perceived him .
Lying on his face , he rested his rifle upon a
rock , and took a long and steady aim before drawing the trigger .
The animal sprang into the air , tottered for a moment upon the
edge of the precipice , and then came crashing down into the valley
The creature was too unwieldy to lift , so the hunter contented
himself with cutting away one haunch and part of the flank .
With this trophy over his shoulder , he hastened to retrace his steps ,
for the evening was already drawing in .
He had hardly
started , however , before he realized the difficulty which faced him .
In his eagerness he had wandered far past the ravines which
were known to him , and it was no easy matter to pick out the path
which he had taken .
The valley in which he found himself
divided and sub-divided into many gorges , which were so like each
other that it was impossible to distinguish one from the other .
He followed one for a mile or more until he came to a mountain
torrent which he was sure that he had never seen before .
Convinced that he had taken the wrong turn , he tried another , but with
the same result .
Night was coming on rapidly , and it was
almost dark before he at last found himself in a defile which was
familiar to him .
Even then it was no easy matter to keep to
the right track , for the moon had not yet risen , and the high cliffs
on either side made the obscurity more profound .
with his burden , and weary from his exertions , he stumbled along ,
keeping up his heart by the reflection that every step brought him
nearer to Lucy , and that he carried with him enough to ensure them
food for the remainder of their journey .
He had now come to the mouth of the very defile in which he
had left them .
Even in the darkness he could recognize the
outline of the cliffs which bounded it .
They must , he
reflected , be awaiting him anxiously , for he had been absent nearly
five hours .
In the gladness of his heart he put his hands to
his mouth and made the glen reecho to a loud halloo as a signal that
he was coming .
He paused and listened for an answer .
None came save his own cry , which clattered up the dreary , silent
ravines , and was borne back to his ears in countless repetitions .
Again he shouted , even louder than before , and again no whisper
came back from the friends whom he had left such a short time ago .
A vague , nameless dread came over him , and he hurried onward
frantically , dropping the precious food in his agitation .
When he turned the corner , he came full in sight of the spot
where the fire had been lit .
There was still a glowing pile
of wood ashes there , but it had evidently not been tended since his
The same dead silence still reigned all round .
With his fears all changed to convictions , he hurried on .
There was no living creature near the remains of the fire :
animals , man , maiden all were gone .
It was only too clear
that some sudden and terrible disaster had occurred during his absence
-- a disaster which had embraced them all , and yet had left no traces
behind it .
Bewildered and stunned by this blow , Jefferson Hope felt his
head spin round , and had to lean upon his rifle to save himself from
He was essentially a man of action , however , and
speedily recovered from his temporary impotence .
half-consumed piece of wood from the smouldering fire , he blew it into
a flame , and proceeded with its help to examine the little camp .
The ground was all stamped down by the feet of horses , showing
that a large party of mounted men had overtaken the fugitives , and the
direction of their tracks proved that they had afterwards turned back
to Salt Lake City .
Had they carried back both of his
companions with them ?
Jefferson Hope had almost persuaded
himself that they must have done so , when his eye fell upon an object
which made every nerve of his body tingle within him .
little way on one side of the camp was a low-lying heap of reddish
soil , which had assuredly not been there before .
There was no
mistaking it for anything but a newly dug grave .
As the young
hunter approached it , he perceived that a stick had been planted on
it , with a sheet of paper stuck in the cleft fork of it .
inscription upon the paper was brief , but to the point :
JOHN FERRIER , FORMERLY OF SALT LAKE CITY .
August 4th , 1860 .
The sturdy old man , whom he had left so short a time before ,
was gone , then , and this was all his epitaph .
looked wildly round to see if there was a second grave , but there was
no sign of one .
Lucy had been carried back by their terrible
pursuers to fulfill her original destiny , by becoming one of the harem
of an Elder's son .
As the young fellow realized the certainty
of her fate , and his own powerlessness to prevent it , he wished that
he , too , was lying with the old farmer in his last silent
Again , however , his active spirit shook off the lethargy which
springs from despair .
If there was nothing else left to him ,
he could at least devote his life to revenge .
indomitable patience and perseverance , Jefferson Hope possessed also a
power of sustained vindictiveness , which he may have learned from the
Indians amongst whom he had lived .
As he stood by the
desolate fire , he felt that the only one thing which could assuage his
grief would be thorough and complete retribution , brought by his own
hand upon his enemies .
His strong will and untiring energy
should , he determined , be devoted to that one end .
grim , white face , he retraced his steps to where he had dropped the
food , and having stirred up the smouldering fire , he cooked enough to
last him for a few days .
This he made up into a bundle , and ,
tired as he was , he set himself to walk back through the mountains
upon the track of the Avenging Angels .
For five days he toiled footsore and weary through the defiles
which he had already traversed on horseback .
At night he
flung himself down among the rocks , and snatched a few hours of sleep ;
but before daybreak he was always well on his way .
sixth day , he reached the Eagle Canon , from which they had commenced
their ill-fated flight .
Thence he could look down upon the
home of the Saints .
Worn and exhausted , he leaned upon his
rifle and shook his gaunt hand fiercely at the silent widespread city
beneath him .
As he looked at it , he observed that there were
flags in some of the principal streets , and other signs of festivity .
He was still speculating as to what this might mean when he
heard the clatter of horse's hoofs , and saw a mounted man riding
towards him .
As he approached , he recognized him as a Mormon
named Cowper , to whom he had rendered services at different times .
He therefore accosted him when he got up to him , with the
object of finding out what Lucy Ferrier's fate had been .
" I am Jefferson Hope , " he said .
" You remember me . "
The Mormon looked at him with undisguised astonishment --
indeed , it was difficult to recognize in this tattered , unkempt
wanderer , with ghastly white face and fierce , wild eyes , the spruce
young hunter of former days .
Having , however , at last
satisfied himself as to his identity , the man's surprise changed to
" You are mad to come here , " he cried .
" It is as much
as my own life is worth to be seen talking with you .
a warrant against you from the Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers
away . "
" I don't fear them , or their warrant , " Hope said , earnestly .
" You must know something of this matter , Cowper .
conjure you by everything you hold dear to answer a few questions .
We have always been friends .
For God's sake , don't
refuse to answer me . "
" What is it ? " the Mormon asked , uneasily .
" Be quick .
The very rocks have ears and the trees eyes . "
" What has become of Lucy Ferrier ? "
" She was married yesterday to young Drebber .
Hold up ,
man , hold up ; you have no life left in you . "
" Don't mind me , " said Hope faintly .
He was white to
the very lips , and had sunk down on the stone against which he had
been leaning .
" Married , you say ? "
" Married yesterday -- that's what those flags are for on the
Endowment House .
There was some words between young Drebber
and young Stangerson as to which was to have her .
been in the party that followed them , and Stangerson had shot her
father , which seemed to give him the best claim ; but when they argued
it out in council , Drebber's party was the stronger , so the Prophet
gave her over to him .
No one won't have her very long though ,
for I saw death in her face yesterday .
She is more like a
ghost than a woman .
Are you off , then ? "
" Yes , I am off , " said Jefferson Hope , who had risen from his
His face might have been chiselled out of marble , so
hard and set was its expression , while its eyes glowed with a baleful
" Where are you going ? "
" Never mind , " he answered ; and , slinging his weapon over his
shoulder , strode off down the gorge and so away into the heart of the
mountains to the haunts of the wild beasts .
Amongst them all
there was none so fierce and so dangerous as himself .
The prediction of the Mormon was only too well fulfilled .
Whether it was the terrible death of her father or the effects of
the hateful marriage into which she had been forced , poor Lucy never
held up her head again , but pined away and died within a month .
Her sottish husband , who had married her principally for the sake
of John Ferrier's property , did not affect any great grief at his
bereavement ; but his other wives mourned over her , and sat up with her
the night before the burial , as is the Mormon custom .
were grouped round the bier in the early hours of the morning , when ,
to their inexpressible fear and astonishment , the door was flung open ,
and a savage-looking , weather-beaten man in tattered garments strode
into the room .
Without a glance or a word to the cowering
women , he walked up to the white silent figure which had once
contained the pure soul of Lucy Ferrier .
Stooping over her ,
he pressed his lips reverently to her cold forehead , and then ,
snatching up her hand , he took the wedding ring from her finger .
" She shall not be buried in that , " he cried with a fierce snarl ,
and before an alarm could be raised sprang down the stairs and was
So strange and so brief was the episode that the
watchers might have found it hard to believe it themselves or persuade
other people of it , had it not been for the undeniable fact that the
circlet of gold which marked her as having been a bride had
For some months Jefferson Hope lingered among the mountains ,
leading a strange , wild life , and nursing in his heart the fierce
desire for vengeance which possessed him .
Tales were told in
the city of the weird figure which was seen prowling about the
suburbs , and which haunted the lonely mountain gorges .
bullet whistled through Stangerson's window and flattened itself upon
the wall within a foot of him .
On another occasion , as
Drebber passed under a cliff a great boulder crashed down on him , and
he only escaped a terrible death by throwing himself upon his face .
The two young Mormons were not long in discovering the reason
of these attempts upon their lives , and led repeated expeditions into
the mountains in the hope of capturing or killing their enemy , but
always without success .
Then they adopted the precaution of
never going out alone or after nightfall , and of having their houses
After a time they were able to relax these measures ,
for nothing was either heard or seen of their opponent , and they hoped
that time had cooled his vindictiveness .
Far from doing so , it had , if anything , augmented it .
The hunter's mind was of a hard , unyielding nature , and the
predominant idea of revenge had taken such complete possession of it
that there was no room for any other emotion .
He was , however
above all things , practical .
He soon realized that even his
iron constitution could not stand the incessant strain which he was
putting upon it .
Exposure and want of wholesome food were
wearing him out .
If he died like a dog among the mountains
what was to become of his revenge then ?
And yet such a death
was sure to overtake him if he persisted .
He felt that that
was to play his enemy's game , so he reluctantly returned to the old
Nevada mines , there to recruit his health and to amass money enough to
allow him to pursue his object without privation .
His intention had been to be absent a year at the most , but a
combination of unforeseen circumstances prevented his leaving the
mines for nearly five .
At the end of that time , however , his
memory of his wrongs and his craving for revenge were quite as keen as
on that memorable night when he had stood by John Ferrier's grave .
Disguised , and under an assumed name , he returned to Salt
Lake City , careless what became of his own life , as long as he
obtained what he knew to be justice .
There he found evil
tidings awaiting him .
There had been a schism among the
Chosen People a few months before , some of the younger members of the
Church having rebelled against the authority of the Elders , and the
result had been the secession of a certain number of the malcontents ,
who had left Utah and become Gentiles .
Among these had been
Drebber and Stangerson ; and no one knew whither they had gone .
Rumour reported that Drebber had managed to convert a large part
of his property into money , and that he had departed a wealthy man ,
while his companion , Stangerson , was comparatively poor .
There was no clue at all , however , as to their whereabouts .
Many a man , however vindictive , would have abandoned all
thought of revenge in the face of such a difficulty , but Jefferson
Hope never faltered for a moment .
With the small competence
he possessed , eked out by such employment as he could pick up , he
travelled from town to town through the United States in quest of his
Year passed into year , his black hair turned
grizzled , but still he wandered on , a human bloodhound , with his mind
wholly set upon the one object to which he had devoted his life .
At last his perseverance was rewarded .
It was but a
glance of a face in a window , but that one glance told him that
Cleveland in Ohio possessed the men whom he was in pursuit of .
He returned to his miserable lodgings with his plan of vengeance
all arranged .
It chanced , however , that Drebber , looking from
his window , had recognized the vagrant in the street , and had read
murder in his eyes .
He hurried before a justice of the peace
accompanied by Stangerson , who had become his private secretary , and
represented to him that they were in danger of their lives from the
jealousy and hatred of an old rival .
That evening Jefferson
Hope was taken into custody , and not being able to find sureties , was
detained for some weeks .
When at last he was liberated it was
only to find that Drebber's house was deserted , and that he and his
secretary had departed for Europe .
Again the avenger had been foiled , and again his concentrated
hatred urged him to continue the pursuit .
Funds were wanting ,
however , and for some time he had to return to work , saving every
dollar for his approaching journey .
At last , having collected
enough to keep life in him , he departed for Europe , and tracked his
enemies from city to city , working his way in any menial capacity , but
never overtaking the fugitives .
When he reached St.
Petersburg , they had departed for Paris ; and when he followed them
there , he learned that they had just set off for Copenhagen .
At the Danish capital he was again a few days late , for they had
journeyed on to London , where he at last succeeded in running them to
As to what occurred there , we cannot do better than
quote the old hunter's own account , as duly recorded in Dr. Watson's
Journal , to which we are already under such obligations .
Our prisoner's furious resistance did not apparently indicate
any ferocity in his disposition towards ourselves , for on finding
himself powerless , he smiled in an affable manner , and expressed his
hopes that he had not hurt any of us in the scuffle .
" I guess
you're going to take me to the police-station , " he remarked to
Sherlock Holmes " My cab's at the door .
If you'll loose my
legs I'll walk down to it .
I'm not so light to lift as I used
to be . "
Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances , as if they thought
this proposition rather a bold one ; but Holmes at once took the
prisoner at his word , and loosened the towel which we had bound round
his ankles .
He rose and stretched his legs , as though to
assure himself that they were free once more .
I remember that
I thought to myself , as I eyed him , that I had seldom seen a more
powerfully built man ; and his dark , sunburned face bore an expression
of determination and energy which was as formidable as his personal
" If there's a vacant place for a chief of the police , I reckon
you are the man for it , " he said , gazing with undisguised admiration
at my fellow-lodger .
" The way you kept on my trail was a
caution . "
" You had better come with me , " said Holmes to the two
" I can drive you , " said Lestrade .
" Good ! and Gregson can come inside with me .
You too ,
You have taken an interest in the case , and may as
well stick to us . "
I assented gladly , and we all descended together .
prisoner made no attempt at escape , but stepped calmly into the cab
which had been his , and we followed him .
Lestrade mounted the
box , whipped up the horse , and brought us in a very short time to our
We were ushered into a small chamber , where a
police inspector noted down our prisoner's name and the names of the
men with whose murder he had been charged .
The official was a
white-faced , unemotional man , who went through his duties in a dull ,
mechanical way .
" The prisoner will be put before the
magistrates in the course of the week , " he said ; " in the meantime , Mr.
Jefferson Hope , have you anything that you wish to say ?
must warn you that your words will be taken down , and may be used
against you . "
" I've got a good deal to say , " our prisoner said slowly .
" I want to tell you gentlemen all about it . "
" Hadn't you better reserve that for your trial ? " asked the
" I may never be tried , " he answered .
" You needn't
look startled .
It isn't suicide I am thinking of .
Are you a doctor ? "
He turned his fierce dark eyes upon me as
he asked this last question .
" Yes , I am , " I answered .
" Then put your hand here , " he said , with a smile , motioning
with his manacled wrists towards his chest .
I did so ; and became at once conscious of an extraordinary
throbbing and commotion which was going on inside .
of his chest seemed to thrill and quiver as a frail building would do
inside when some powerful engine was at work .
In the silence
of the room I could hear a dull humming and buzzing noise which
proceeded from the same source .
" Why , " I cried , " you have an aortic aneurism ! "
" That's what they call it , " he said , placidly .
went to a doctor last week about it , and he told me that it is bound
to burst before many days passed .
It has been getting worse
for years .
I got it from overexposure and under-feeding among
the Salt Lake Mountains .
I've done my work now , and I don't
care how soon I go , but I should like to leave some account of the
business behind me .
I don't want to be remembered as a common
cut-throat . "
The inspector and the two detectives had a hurried discussion
as to the advisability of allowing him to tell his story .
" Do you consider , Doctor , that there is immediate danger ? "
the former asked .
" Most certainly there is , " I answered .
" In that case it is clearly our duty , in the interests of
justice , to take his statement , " said the inspector .
" You are
at liberty , sir , to give your account , which I again warn you will be
taken down . "
" I'll sit down , with your leave , " the prisoner said , suiting
the action to the word .
" This aneurism of mine makes me
easily tired , and the tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended
I'm on the brink of the grave , and I am not likely
to lie to you .
Every word I say is the absolute truth , and
how you use it is a matter of no consequence to me . "
With these words , Jefferson Hope leaned back in his chair and
began the following remarkable statement .
He spoke in a calm
and methodical manner , as though the events which he narrated were
commonplace enough .
I can vouch for the accuracy of the
subjoined account , for I have had access to Lestrade's notebook in
which the prisoner's words were taken down exactly as they were
" It don't much matter to you why I hated these men , " he said ;
" it's enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings --
a father and daughter -- and that they had , therefore , forfeited their
own lives .
After the lapse of time that has passed since
their crime , it was impossible for me to secure a conviction against
them in any court .
I knew of their guilt though , and I
determined that I should be judge , jury , and executioner all rolled
into one .
You'd have done the same , if you have any manhood
in you , if you had been in my place .
" That girl that I spoke of was to have married me twenty years
She was forced into marrying that same Drebber , and
broke her heart over it .
I took the marriage ring from ber
dead finger , and I vowed that his dying eyes should rest upon that
very ring , and that his last thoughts should be of the crime for which
he was punished .
I have carried it about with me , and have
followed him and his accomplice over two continents until I caught
They thought to tire me out , but they could not do it .
If I die to-morrow , as is likely enough , I die knowing that
my work in this world is done , and well done .
perished , and by my hand .
There is nothing left for me to
hope for , or to desire .
" They were rich and I was poor , so that it was no easy matter
for me to follow them .
When I got to London my pocket was
about empty , and I found that I must turn my hand to something for my
Driving and riding are as natural to me as walking ,
so I applied at a cab-owner's office , and soon got employment .
I was to bring a certain sum a week to the owner , and whatever was
over that I might keep for myself .
There was seldom much
over , but I managed to scrape along somehow .
The hardest job
was to learn my way about , for I reckon that of all the mazes that
ever were contrived , this city is the most confusing .
I had a
map beside me , though , and when once I had spotted the principal
hotels and stations , I got on pretty well .
" It was some time before I found out where my two gentlemen
were living ; but I inquired and inquired until at last I dropped
across them .
They were at a boarding-house at Camberwell ,
over on the other side of the river .
When once I found them
out , I knew that I had them at my mercy .
I had grown my
beard , and there was no chance of their recognizing me .
would dog them and follow them until I saw my opportunity .
was determined that they should not escape me again .
" They were very near doing it for all that .
they would about London , I was always at their heels .
Sometimes I followed them on my cab , and sometimes on foot , but the
former was the best , for then they could not get away from me .
" It was only early in the morning or late at night that I could
earn anything , so that I began to get behindhand with my employer .
I did not mind that , however , as long as I could lay my hand
upon the men I wanted .
" They were very cunning , though .
They must have
thought that there was some chance of their being followed , for they
would never go out alone , and never after nightfall .
two weeks I drove behind them every day , and never once saw them
Drebber himself was drunk half the time , but
Stangerson was not to be caught napping .
I watched them late
and early , but never saw the ghost of a chance ; but I was not
discouraged , for something told me that the hour had almost come .
My only fear was that this thing in my chest might burst a little
too soon and leave my work undone .
" At last , one evening I was driving up and down Torquay
Terrace , as the street was called in which they boarded , when I saw a
cab drive up to their door .
Presently some luggage was
brought out and after a time Drebber and Stangerson followed it , and
drove off .
I whipped up my horse and kept within sight of
them , feeling very ill at ease , for I feared that they were going to
shift their quarters .
At Euston Station they got out , and I
left a boy to hold my horse and followed them on to the platform .
I heard them ask for the Liverpool train , and the guard answer
that one had just gone, and there would not be another for some hours .
Stangerson seemed to be put out at that , but Drebber was
rather pleased than otherwise .
I got so close to them in the
bustle that I could hear every word that passed between them .
Drebber said that he had a little business of his own to do , and that
if the other would wait for him he would soon rejoin him .
companion remonstrated with him , and reminded him that they had
resolved to stick together .
Drebber answered that the matter
was a delicate one , and that he must go alone .
I could not
catch what Stangerson said to that , but the other burst out swearing ,
and reminded him that he was nothing more than his paid servant , and
that he must not presume to dictate to him .
On that the
secretary gave it up as a bad job , and simply bargained with him that
if he missed the last train he should rejoin him at Halliday's Private
Hotel ; to which Drebber answered that he would be back on the platform
before eleven , and made his way out of the station .
" The moment for which I had waited so long had at last come .
I had my enemies within my power .
could protect each other , but singly they were at my mercy .
did not act , however , with undue precipitation .
My plans were
already formed .
There is no satisfaction in vengeance unless
the offender has time to realize who it is that strikes him , and why
retribution has come upon him .
I had my plans arranged by
which I should have the opportunity of making the man who had wronged
me understand that his old sin had found him out .
that some days before a gentleman who had been engaged in looking over
some houses in the Brixton Road had dropped the key of one of them in
my carriage .
It was claimed that same evening , and returned ;
but in the interval I had taken a moulding of it , and had a duplicate
By means of this I had access to at least one
spot in this great city where I could rely upon being free from
How to get Drebber to that house was the
difficult problem which I had now to solve .
" He walked down the road and went into one or two liquor
shops , staying for nearly half an hour in the last of them .
When he came out , he staggered in his walk , and was evidently pretty
well on .
There was a hansom just in front of me , and he
hailed it .
I followed it so close that the nose of my horse
was within a yard of his driver the whole way .
across Waterloo Bridge and through miles of streets , until , to my
astonishment , we found ourselves back in the terrace in which he had
I could not imagine what his intention was in
returning there ; but I went on and pulled up my cab a hundred yards or
so from the house .
He entered it , and his hansom drove away .
Give me a glass of water , if you please .
gets dry with the talking . "
I handed him the glass , and he drank it down .
" That's better , " he said .
" Well , I waited tor a
quarter of an hour , or more , when suddenly there came a noise like
people struggling inside the house .
Next moment the door was
flung open and two men appeared , one of whom was Drebber , and the
other was a young chap whom I had never seen before .
fellow had Drebber by the collar , and when they came to the head of
the steps he gave him a shove and a kick which sent him half across
the road .
' You hound ! ' he cried , shaking his stick at him :
' I'll teach you to insult an honest girl ! '
He was so hot that
I think he would have thrashed Drebber with his cudgel , only that the
cur staggered away down the road as fast as his legs would carry him .
He ran as far as the corner , and then seeing my cab , he
hailed me and jumped in .
' Drive me to Halliday's Private
Hotel , ' said he .
" When I had him fairly inside my cab , my heart jumped so with
joy that I feared lest at this last moment my aneurism might go wrong .
I drove along slowly , weighing in my own mind what it was
best to do .
I might take him right out into the country , and
there in some deserted lane have my last interview with him .
I had almost decided upon this , when he solved the problem for me .
The craze for drink had seized him again , and he ordered me
to pull up outside a gin palace .
He went in , leaving word
that I should wait for him .
There he remained until closing
time , and when he came out he was so far gone that I knew the game was
in my own hands .
" Don't imagine that I intended to kill him in cold blood .
It would only have been rigid justice if I had done so , but I
could not bring myself to do it .
I had long determined that
he should have a show for his life if he chose to take advantage of
Among the many billets which I have filled in America
during my wandering life , I was once janitor and sweeper-out of the
laboratory at York College .
One day the professor was
lecturing on poisons , and he showed his students some alkaloid , as he
called it , which he had extracted from some South American arrow
poison , and which was so powerful that the least grain meant instant
I spotted the bottle in which this preparation was
kept , and when they were all gone , I helped myself to a little of it .
I was a fairly good dispenser , so I worked this alkaloid into
small , soluble pills , and each pill I put in a box with a similar pill
made without the poison .
I determined at the time that when I
had my chance my gentlemen should each have a draw out of one of these
boxes , while I ate the pill that remained .
It would be quite
as deadly and a good deal less noisy than firing across a
From that day I had always my pill boxes about
with me , and the time had now come when I was to use them .
" It was nearer one than twelve , and a wild , bleak night ,
blowing hard and raining in torrents .
Dismal as it was
I was glad within -- so glad that I could have
shouted out from pure exultation .
If any of you gentlemen
have ever pined for a thing , and longed for it during twenty long
years , and then suddenly found it within your reach , you would
understand my feelings .
I lit a cigar , and puffed at it to
steady my nerves , but my hands were trembling and my temples throbbing
with excitement .
As I drove , I could see old John Ferrier and
sweet Lucy looking at me out of the darkness and smiling at me , just
as plain as I see you all in this room .
All the way they were
ahead of me , one on each side of the horse until I pulled up at the
house in the Brixton Road .
" There was not a soul to be seen , nor a sound to be heard ,
except the dripping of the rain .
When I looked in at the
window , I found Drebber all huddled together in a drunken sleep .
I shook him by the arm , ' It's time to get out . ' I said .
" ' All right , cabby . ' said he .
" I suppose he thought we had come to the hotel that he had
mentioned , for he got out without another word , and followed me down
the garden .
I had to walk beside him to keep him steady , for
he was still a little top-heavy .
When we came to the door , I
opened it and led him into the front room .
I give you my word
that all the way , the father and the daughter were walking in front of
" ' It's infernally dark , ' said he , stamping about .
" ' We'll soon have a light , ' I said , striking a match and
putting it to a wax candle which I had brought with me .
' Now ,
Enoch Drebber , ' I continued , turning to him , and holding the light to
my own face , ' who am I ? '
" He gazed at me with bleared , drunken eyes for a moment , and
then I saw a horror spring up in them , and convulse his whole
features , which showed me that he knew me .
He staggered back
with a livid face , and I saw the perspiration break out upon his brow ,
while his teeth chattered in his head .
At the sight I leaned
my back against the door and laughed loud and long .
always known that vengeance would be sweet , but I had never hoped for
the contentment of soul which now possessed me .
" ' You dog ! ' I said ; ' I have hunted you from Salt Lake City to
St. Petersburg , and you have always escaped me .
Now , at last
your wanderings have come to an end , for either you or I shall never
see to-morrow's sun rise . '
He shrunk still farther away as I
spoke , and I could see on his face that he thought I was mad .
So I was for the time .
The pulses in my temples beat like
sledgehammers , and I believe I would have had a fit of some sort if
the blood had not gushed from my nose and relieved me .
" ' What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now ? ' I cried , locking
the door , and shaking the key in his face .
' Punishment has
been slow in coming , but it has overtaken you at last . '
his coward lips tremble as I spoke .
He would have begged for
his life , but he knew well that it was useless .
" ' Would you murder me ? ' he stammered .
" ' There is no murder , ' I answered .
' Who talks of
murdering a mad dog ?
What mercy had you upon my poor darling ,
when you dragged her from her slaughtered father , and bore her away to
your accursed and shameless harem ? '
" ' It was not I who killed her father , ' he cried .
" ' But it was you who broke her innocent heart , ' I shrieked ,
thrusting the box before him .
' Let the high God judge between
Choose and eat .
There is death in one and life
in the other .
I shall take what you leave .
see if there is justice upon the earth , or if we are ruled by chance . '
" He cowered away with wild cries and prayers for mercy , but I
drew my knife and held it to his throat until he had obeyed me .
Then I swallowed the other , and we stood facing one another in
silence for a minute or more , waiting to see which was to live and
which was to die .
Shall I ever forget the look which came
over his face when the first warning pangs told him that the poison
was in his system ?
I laughed as I saw it , and held Lucy's
marriage ring in front of his eyes .
It was but for a moment ,
for the action of the alkaloid is rapid .
A spasm of pain
contorted his features ; he threw his hands out in front of him ,
staggered , and then , with a hoarse cry , fell heavily upon the floor .
I turned him over with my foot , and placed my hand upon his
There was no movement .
He was dead !
" The blood had been streaming from my nose , but I had taken no
notice of it .
I don't know what it was that put it into my
head to write upon the wall with it .
Perhaps it was some
mischievous idea of setting the police upon a wrong track , for I felt
light-hearted and cheerful .
I remember a German being found
in New York with RACHE written up above him , and it was argued at the
time in the newspapers that the secret societies must have done it .
I guessed that what puzzled the New Yorkers would puzzle the
Londoners , so I dipped my finger in my own blood and printed it on a
convenient place on the wall .
Then I walked down to my cab
and found that there was nobody about , and that the night was still
very wild .
I had driven some distance , when I put my hand
into the pocket in which I usually kept Lucy's ring , and found that it
was not there .
I was thunderstruck at this , for it was the
only memento that I had of her .
Thinking that I might have
dropped it when I stooped over Drebber's body , I drove back , and
leaving my cab in a side street , I went boldly up to the house -- for
I was ready to dare anything rather than lose the ring .
I arrived there , I walked right into the arms of a police-officer who
was coming out , and only managed to disarm his suspicions by
pretending to be hopelessly drunk .
" That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end .
had to do then was to do as much for Stangerson , and so pay off John
Ferrier's debt .
I knew that he was staying at Halliday's
Private Hotel , and I hung about all day , but he never came out .
I fancy that he suspected something when Drebber failed to put in
an appearance .
He was cunning , was Stangerson , and always on
his guard .
If he thought he could keep me off by staying
indoors he was very much mistaken .
I soon found out which was
the window of his bedroom , and early next morning I took advantage of
some ladders which were lying in the lane behind the hotel , and so
made my way into his room in the gray of the dawn .
I woke him
up and told him that the hour had come when he was to answer for the
life he had taken so long before .
I described Drebber's death
to him , and I gave him the same choice of the poisoned pills .
Instead of grasping at the chance of safety which that offered him , he
sprang from his bed and flew at my throat .
In self-defence I
stabbed him to the heart .
It would have been the same in any
case , for Providence would never have allowed his guilty hand to pick
out anything but the poison .
" I have little more to say , and it's as well , for I am about
done up .
I went on cabbing it for a day or so , intending to
keep at it until I could save enough to take me back to America .
I was standing in the yard when a ragged youngster asked if there
was a cabby there called Jefferson Hope , and said that his cab was
wanted by a gentleman at 221B , Baker Street .
I went round
suspecting no harm , and the next thing I knew , this young man here had
the bracelets on my wrists , and as neatly shackled as ever I saw in my
That's the whole of my story , gentlemen .
may consider me to be a murderer ; but I hold that I am just as much an
officer of justice as you are . "
So thrilling had the man's narrative been and his manner was
so impressive that we had sat silent and absorbed .
professional detectives , blasť as they were in every detail of crime ,
appeared to be keenly interested in the man's story .
finished , we sat for some minutes in a stillness which was only broken
by the scratching of Lestrade's pencil as he gave the finishing
touches to his shorthand account .
" There is only one point on which I should like a little more
information , " Sherlock Holmes said at last .
" Who was your
accomplice who came for the ring which I advertised ? "
The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely .
" I can
tell my own secrets , " he said , " but I don't get other people into
I saw your advertisement , and I thought it might be
a plant , or it might be the ring which I wanted .
volunteered to go and see .
I think you'll own he did it
smartly . "
" Not a doubt of that , " said Holmes , heartily .
" Now , gentlemen , " the inspector remarked gravely , " the forms
of the law must be complied with .
On Thursday the prisoner
will be brought before the magistrates , and your attendance will be
Until then I will be responsible for him . "
He rang the bell as he spoke , and Jefferson Hope was led off by a
couple of warders , while my friend and I made our way out of the
station and took a cab back to Baker Street .
We had all been warned to appear before the magistrates upon
the Thursday ; but when the Thursday came there was no occasion for our
A higher Judge had taken the matter in hand , and
Jefferson Hope had been summoned before a tribunal where strict
justice would be meted out to him .
On the very night after
his capture the aneurism burst , and he was found in the morning
stretched upon the floor of the cell , with a placid smile upon his
face , as though he had been able in his dying moments to look back
upon a useful life , and on work well done .
" Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death , " Holmes
remarked , as we chatted it over next evening .
" Where will
their grand advertisement be now ? "
" I don't see that they had very much to do with his capture , "
I answered .
" What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence , "
returned my companion , bitterly .
" The question is , what can
you make people believe that you have done ?
Never mind , " he
continued , more brightly , after a pause .
" I would not have
missed the investigation for anything .
There has been no
better case within my recollection .
Simple as it was , there
were several most instructive points about it . "
" Simple ! " I ejaculated .
" Well , really , it can hardly be described as otherwise , " said
Sherlock Holmes , smiling at my surprise .
" The proof of its
intrinsic simplicity is , that without any help save a few very
ordinary deductions I was able to lay my hand upon the criminal within
three days . "
" That is true , " said I .
" I have already explained to you that what is out of the
common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance .
a problem of this sort , the grand thing is to be able to reason
That is a very useful accomplishment , and a very
easy one , but people do not practise it much .
In the everyday
affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward , and so the other
comes to be neglected .
There are fifty who can reason
synthetically for one who can reason analytically . "
" I confess , " said I , " that I do not quite follow you . "
" I hardly expected that you would .
Let me see if I
can make it clearer .
Most people , if you describe a train of
events to them will tell you what the result would be .
can put those events together in their minds , and argue from them that
something will come to pass .
There are few people , however ,
who , if you told them a result , would be able to evolve from their own
inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result .
This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward ,
or analytically . "
" I understand , " said I .
" Now this was a case in which you were given the result and
had to find everything else for yourself .
Now let me
endeavour to show you the different steps in my reasoning .
begin at the beginning .
I approached the house , as you know ,
on foot , and with my mind entirely free from all impressions .
I naturally began by examining the roadway , and there , as I have
already explained to you , I saw clearly the marks of a cab , which , I
ascertained by inquiry , must have been there during the night .
I satisfied myself that it was a cab and not a private carriage by
the narrow gauge of the wheels .
The ordinary London growler
is considerably less wide than a gentleman's brougham .
" This was the first point gained .
I then walked
slowly down the garden path , which happened to be composed of a clay
soil , peculiarly suitable for taking impressions .
No doubt it
appeared to you to be a mere trampled line of slush , but to my trained
eyes every mark upon its surface had a meaning .
There is no
branch of detective science which is so important and so much
neglected as the art of tracing footsteps .
Happily , I have
always laid great stress upon it , and much practice has made it second
nature to me .
I saw the heavy footmarks of the constables ,
but I saw also the track of the two men who had first passed through
the garden .
It was easy to tell that they had been before the
others , because in places their marks had been entirely obliterated by
the others coming upon the top of them .
In this way my second
link was formed , which told me that the nocturnal visitors were two in
number , one remarkable for his height ( as I calculated from the length
of his stride ) , and the other fashionably dressed , to judge from the
small and elegant impression left by his boots .
" On entering the house this last inference was confirmed .
My well-booted man lay before me .
The tall one , then , had
done the murder , if murder there was .
There was no wound upon
the dead man's person , but the agitated expression upon his face
assured me that he had foreseen his fate before it came upon him .
Men who die from heart disease , or any sudden natural cause , never
by any chance exhibit agitation upon their features .
sniffed the dead man's lips , I detected a slightly sour smell , and I
came to the conclusion that he had had poison forced upon him .
Again , I argued that it had been forced upon him from the hatred
and fear expressed upon his face .
By the method of exclusion ,
I had arrived at this result , for no other hypothesis would meet the
Do not imagine that it was a very unheard-of idea .
The forcible administration of poison is by no means a new
thing in criminal annals .
The cases of Dolsky in Odessa , and
of Leturier in Montpellier , will occur at once to any toxicologist .
" And now came the great question as to the reason why .
Robbery had not been the object of the murder , for nothing was
Was it politics , then , or was it a woman ?
That was the question which confronted me .
I was inclined
from the first to the latter supposition .
are only too glad to do their work and to fly .
had , on the contrary , been done most deliberately , and the perpetrator
had left his tracks all over the room , showing that he had been there
all the time .
It must have been a private wrong , and not a
political one , which called for such a methodical revenge .
When the inscription was discovered upon the wall , I was more inclined
than ever to my opinion .
The thing was too evidently a blind .
When the ring was found , however , it settled the question .
Clearly the murderer had used it to remind his victim of some
dead or absent woman .
It was at this point that I asked
Gregson whether he had inquired in his telegram to Cleveland as to any
particular point in Mr. Drebber's former career .
He answered ,
you remember , in the negative .
" I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the room
which confirmed me in my opinion as to the murderer's height , and
furnished me with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly cigar
and the length of his nails .
I had already come to the
conclusion , since there were no signs of a struggle , that the blood
which covered the floor had burst from the murderer's nose in his
I could perceive that the track of blood
coincided with the track of his feet .
It is seldom that any
man , unless he is very full-blooded , breaks out in this way through
emotion , so I hazarded the opinion that the criminal was probably a
robust and ruddy-faced man .
Events proved that I had judged
" Having left the house , I proceeded to do what Gregson had
I telegraphed to the head of the police at
Cleveland , limiting my inquiry to the circumstances connected with the
marriage of Enoch Drebber .
The answer was conclusive .
It told me that Drebber had already applied for the protection of
the law against an old rival in love , named Jefferson Hope , and that
this same Hope was at present in Europe .
I knew now that I
held the clue to the mystery in my hand , and all that remained was to
secure the murderer .
" I had already determined in my own mind that the man who had
walked into the house with Drebber was none other than the man who had
driven the cab .
The marks in the road showed me that the
horse had wandered on in a way which would have been impossible had
there been anyone in charge of it .
Where , then , could the
driver be , unless he were inside the house ?
Again , it is
absurd to suppose that any sane man would carry out a deliberate crime
under the very eyes , as it were , of a third person who was sure to
betray him .
Lastly , supposing one man wished to dog another
through London , what better means could he adopt than to turn
All these considerations led me to the
irresistible conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be found among the
jarveys of the Metropolis .
" If he had been one , there was no reason to believe that he
had ceased to be .
On the contrary , from his point of view ,
any sudden change would be likely to draw attention to himself .
He would probably , for a time at least , continue to perform his
There was no reason to suppose that he was going
under an assumed name .
Why should he change his name in a
country where no one knew his original one ?
organized my street Arab detective corps , and sent them systematically
to every cab proprietor in London until they ferreted out the man that
I wanted .
How well they succeeded , and how quickly I took
advantage of it , are still fresh in your recollection .
murder of Stangerson was an incident which was entirely unexpected ,
but which could hardly in any case have been prevented .
Through it , as you know , I came into possession of the pills , the
existence of which I had already surmised .
You see , the whole
thing is a chain of logical sequences without a break or flaw . "
" It is wonderful ! " I cried .
" Your merits should be
publicly recognized .
You should publish an account of the
If you won't , I will for you . "
" You may do what you like , Doctor , " he answered .
here ! " he continued , handing a paper over to me , " look at this ! "
It was the Echo for the day , and the paragraph to which he
pointed was devoted to the case in question .
" The public , " it said , " have lost a sensational treat through
the sudden death of the man Hope , who was suspected of the murder of
Mr. Enoch Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson .
of the case will probably be never known now , though we are informed
upon good authority that the crime was the result of an old-standing
and romantic feud , in which love and Mormonism bore a part .
It seems that both the victims belonged , in their younger days , to the
Latter Day Saints , and Hope , the deceased prisoner , hails also from
Salt Lake City .
If the case has had no other effect , it , at
least , brings out in the most striking manner the efficiency of our
detective police force , and will serve as a lesson to all foreigners
that they will do wisely to settle their feuds at home , and not to
carry them on to British soil .
It is an open secret that the
credit of this smart capture belongs entirely to the well-known
Scotland Yard officials , Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson .
The man was apprehended , it appears , in the rooms of a certain Mr.
Sherlock Holmes , who has himself , as an amateur , shown some talent in
the detective line and who , with such instructors , may hope in time to
attain to some degree of their skill .
It is expected that a
testimonial of some sort will be presented to the two officers as a
fitting recognition of their services . "
" Didn't I tell you so when we started ? " cried Sherlock Holmes
with a laugh .
" That's the result of all our Study in Scarlet :
to get them a testimonial ! "
" Never mind , " I answered ; " I have all the facts in my journal ,
and the public shall know them .
In the meantime you must make
yourself contented by the consciousness of success , like the Roman
" Populus me sibilat , at mihi plaudo Ipse domi simul ac
nummos contemplar in arca . "