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From sboi...@apache.org
Subject [09/54] [abbrv] incubator-ignite git commit: # ignite-63
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+Project Gutenberg's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
+
+This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
+almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
+re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
+with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
+
+
+Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
+
+Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
+
+Posting Date: April 18, 2011 [EBook #1661]
+First Posted: November 29, 2002
+
+Language: English
+
+
+*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES ***
+
+
+
+
+Produced by an anonymous Project Gutenberg volunteer and Jose Menendez
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
+
+by
+
+SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
+
+
+
+   I. A Scandal in Bohemia
+  II. The Red-headed League
+ III. A Case of Identity
+  IV. The Boscombe Valley Mystery
+   V. The Five Orange Pips
+  VI. The Man with the Twisted Lip
+ VII. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
+VIII. The Adventure of the Speckled Band
+  IX. The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
+   X. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
+  XI. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
+ XII. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
+
+
+
+
+ADVENTURE I. A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA
+
+I.
+
+To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman. I have seldom heard
+him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses
+and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt
+any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that
+one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but
+admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect
+reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a
+lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never
+spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They
+were admirable things for the observer--excellent for drawing the
+veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner
+to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely
+adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which
+might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a
+sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power
+lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a
+nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and
+that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable
+memory.
+
+I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us
+away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the
+home-centred interests which rise up around the man who first
+finds himself master of his own establishment, were sufficient to
+absorb all my attention, while Holmes, who loathed every form of
+society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in
+Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from
+week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the
+drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature. He was still,
+as ever, deeply attracted by the study of crime, and occupied his
+immense faculties and extraordinary powers of observation in
+following out those clues, and clearing up those mysteries which
+had been abandoned as hopeless by the official police. From time
+to time I heard some vague account of his doings: of his summons
+to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder, of his clearing up
+of the singular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trincomalee,
+and finally of the mission which he had accomplished so
+delicately and successfully for the reigning family of Holland.
+Beyond these signs of his activity, however, which I merely
+shared with all the readers of the daily press, I knew little of
+my former friend and companion.
+
+One night--it was on the twentieth of March, 1888--I was
+returning from a journey to a patient (for I had now returned to
+civil practice), when my way led me through Baker Street. As I
+passed the well-remembered door, which must always be associated
+in my mind with my wooing, and with the dark incidents of the
+Study in Scarlet, I was seized with a keen desire to see Holmes
+again, and to know how he was employing his extraordinary powers.
+His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as I looked up, I saw
+his tall, spare figure pass twice in a dark silhouette against
+the blind. He was pacing the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head
+sunk upon his chest and his hands clasped behind him. To me, who
+knew his every mood and habit, his attitude and manner told their
+own story. He was at work again. He had risen out of his
+drug-created dreams and was hot upon the scent of some new
+problem. I rang the bell and was shown up to the chamber which
+had formerly been in part my own.
+
+His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I
+think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly
+eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars,
+and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner. Then he
+stood before the fire and looked me over in his singular
+introspective fashion.
+
+"Wedlock suits you," he remarked. "I think, Watson, that you have
+put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you."
+
+"Seven!" I answered.
+
+"Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a trifle more,
+I fancy, Watson. And in practice again, I observe. You did not
+tell me that you intended to go into harness."
+
+"Then, how do you know?"
+
+"I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that you have been getting
+yourself very wet lately, and that you have a most clumsy and
+careless servant girl?"
+
+"My dear Holmes," said I, "this is too much. You would certainly
+have been burned, had you lived a few centuries ago. It is true
+that I had a country walk on Thursday and came home in a dreadful
+mess, but as I have changed my clothes I can't imagine how you
+deduce it. As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and my wife has
+given her notice, but there, again, I fail to see how you work it
+out."
+
+He chuckled to himself and rubbed his long, nervous hands
+together.
+
+"It is simplicity itself," said he; "my eyes tell me that on the
+inside of your left shoe, just where the firelight strikes it,
+the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they
+have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round
+the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it.
+Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile
+weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting
+specimen of the London slavey. As to your practice, if a
+gentleman walks into my rooms smelling of iodoform, with a black
+mark of nitrate of silver upon his right forefinger, and a bulge
+on the right side of his top-hat to show where he has secreted
+his stethoscope, I must be dull, indeed, if I do not pronounce
+him to be an active member of the medical profession."
+
+I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his
+process of deduction. "When I hear you give your reasons," I
+remarked, "the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously
+simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each
+successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you
+explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good
+as yours."
+
+"Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing
+himself down into an armchair. "You see, but you do not observe.
+The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen
+the steps which lead up from the hall to this room."
+
+"Frequently."
+
+"How often?"
+
+"Well, some hundreds of times."
+
+"Then how many are there?"
+
+"How many? I don't know."
+
+"Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is
+just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps,
+because I have both seen and observed. By-the-way, since you are
+interested in these little problems, and since you are good
+enough to chronicle one or two of my trifling experiences, you
+may be interested in this." He threw over a sheet of thick,
+pink-tinted note-paper which had been lying open upon the table.
+"It came by the last post," said he. "Read it aloud."
+
+The note was undated, and without either signature or address.
+
+"There will call upon you to-night, at a quarter to eight
+o'clock," it said, "a gentleman who desires to consult you upon a
+matter of the very deepest moment. Your recent services to one of
+the royal houses of Europe have shown that you are one who may
+safely be trusted with matters which are of an importance which
+can hardly be exaggerated. This account of you we have from all
+quarters received. Be in your chamber then at that hour, and do
+not take it amiss if your visitor wear a mask."
+
+"This is indeed a mystery," I remarked. "What do you imagine that
+it means?"
+
+"I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before
+one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit
+theories, instead of theories to suit facts. But the note itself.
+What do you deduce from it?"
+
+I carefully examined the writing, and the paper upon which it was
+written.
+
+"The man who wrote it was presumably well to do," I remarked,
+endeavouring to imitate my companion's processes. "Such paper
+could not be bought under half a crown a packet. It is peculiarly
+strong and stiff."
+
+"Peculiar--that is the very word," said Holmes. "It is not an
+English paper at all. Hold it up to the light."
+
+I did so, and saw a large "E" with a small "g," a "P," and a
+large "G" with a small "t" woven into the texture of the paper.
+
+"What do you make of that?" asked Holmes.
+
+"The name of the maker, no doubt; or his monogram, rather."
+
+"Not at all. The 'G' with the small 't' stands for
+'Gesellschaft,' which is the German for 'Company.' It is a
+customary contraction like our 'Co.' 'P,' of course, stands for
+'Papier.' Now for the 'Eg.' Let us glance at our Continental
+Gazetteer." He took down a heavy brown volume from his shelves.
+"Eglow, Eglonitz--here we are, Egria. It is in a German-speaking
+country--in Bohemia, not far from Carlsbad. 'Remarkable as being
+the scene of the death of Wallenstein, and for its numerous
+glass-factories and paper-mills.' Ha, ha, my boy, what do you
+make of that?" His eyes sparkled, and he sent up a great blue
+triumphant cloud from his cigarette.
+
+"The paper was made in Bohemia," I said.
+
+"Precisely. And the man who wrote the note is a German. Do you
+note the peculiar construction of the sentence--'This account of
+you we have from all quarters received.' A Frenchman or Russian
+could not have written that. It is the German who is so
+uncourteous to his verbs. It only remains, therefore, to discover
+what is wanted by this German who writes upon Bohemian paper and
+prefers wearing a mask to showing his face. And here he comes, if
+I am not mistaken, to resolve all our doubts."
+
+As he spoke there was the sharp sound of horses' hoofs and
+grating wheels against the curb, followed by a sharp pull at the
+bell. Holmes whistled.
+
+"A pair, by the sound," said he. "Yes," he continued, glancing
+out of the window. "A nice little brougham and a pair of
+beauties. A hundred and fifty guineas apiece. There's money in
+this case, Watson, if there is nothing else."
+
+"I think that I had better go, Holmes."
+
+"Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my
+Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity
+to miss it."
+
+"But your client--"
+
+"Never mind him. I may want your help, and so may he. Here he
+comes. Sit down in that armchair, Doctor, and give us your best
+attention."
+
+A slow and heavy step, which had been heard upon the stairs and
+in the passage, paused immediately outside the door. Then there
+was a loud and authoritative tap.
+
+"Come in!" said Holmes.
+
+A man entered who could hardly have been less than six feet six
+inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules. His
+dress was rich with a richness which would, in England, be looked
+upon as akin to bad taste. Heavy bands of astrakhan were slashed
+across the sleeves and fronts of his double-breasted coat, while
+the deep blue cloak which was thrown over his shoulders was lined
+with flame-coloured silk and secured at the neck with a brooch
+which consisted of a single flaming beryl. Boots which extended
+halfway up his calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with
+rich brown fur, completed the impression of barbaric opulence
+which was suggested by his whole appearance. He carried a
+broad-brimmed hat in his hand, while he wore across the upper
+part of his face, extending down past the cheekbones, a black
+vizard mask, which he had apparently adjusted that very moment,
+for his hand was still raised to it as he entered. From the lower
+part of the face he appeared to be a man of strong character,
+with a thick, hanging lip, and a long, straight chin suggestive
+of resolution pushed to the length of obstinacy.
+
+"You had my note?" he asked with a deep harsh voice and a
+strongly marked German accent. "I told you that I would call." He
+looked from one to the other of us, as if uncertain which to
+address.
+
+"Pray take a seat," said Holmes. "This is my friend and
+colleague, Dr. Watson, who is occasionally good enough to help me
+in my cases. Whom have I the honour to address?"
+
+"You may address me as the Count Von Kramm, a Bohemian nobleman.
+I understand that this gentleman, your friend, is a man of honour
+and discretion, whom I may trust with a matter of the most
+extreme importance. If not, I should much prefer to communicate
+with you alone."
+
+I rose to go, but Holmes caught me by the wrist and pushed me
+back into my chair. "It is both, or none," said he. "You may say
+before this gentleman anything which you may say to me."
+
+The Count shrugged his broad shoulders. "Then I must begin," said
+he, "by binding you both to absolute secrecy for two years; at
+the end of that time the matter will be of no importance. At
+present it is not too much to say that it is of such weight it
+may have an influence upon European history."
+
+"I promise," said Holmes.
+
+"And I."
+
+"You will excuse this mask," continued our strange visitor. "The
+august person who employs me wishes his agent to be unknown to
+you, and I may confess at once that the title by which I have
+just called myself is not exactly my own."
+
+"I was aware of it," said Holmes dryly.
+
+"The circumstances are of great delicacy, and every precaution
+has to be taken to quench what might grow to be an immense
+scandal and seriously compromise one of the reigning families of
+Europe. To speak plainly, the matter implicates the great House
+of Ormstein, hereditary kings of Bohemia."
+
+"I was also aware of that," murmured Holmes, settling himself
+down in his armchair and closing his eyes.
+
+Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the languid,
+lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt depicted to him
+as the most incisive reasoner and most energetic agent in Europe.
+Holmes slowly reopened his eyes and looked impatiently at his
+gigantic client.
+
+"If your Majesty would condescend to state your case," he
+remarked, "I should be better able to advise you."
+
+The man sprang from his chair and paced up and down the room in
+uncontrollable agitation. Then, with a gesture of desperation, he
+tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon the ground. "You
+are right," he cried; "I am the King. Why should I attempt to
+conceal it?"
+
+"Why, indeed?" murmured Holmes. "Your Majesty had not spoken
+before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich
+Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and
+hereditary King of Bohemia."
+
+"But you can understand," said our strange visitor, sitting down
+once more and passing his hand over his high white forehead, "you
+can understand that I am not accustomed to doing such business in
+my own person. Yet the matter was so delicate that I could not
+confide it to an agent without putting myself in his power. I
+have come incognito from Prague for the purpose of consulting
+you."
+
+"Then, pray consult," said Holmes, shutting his eyes once more.
+
+"The facts are briefly these: Some five years ago, during a
+lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the well-known
+adventuress, Irene Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you."
+
+"Kindly look her up in my index, Doctor," murmured Holmes without
+opening his eyes. For many years he had adopted a system of
+docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it
+was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he could not
+at once furnish information. In this case I found her biography
+sandwiched in between that of a Hebrew rabbi and that of a
+staff-commander who had written a monograph upon the deep-sea
+fishes.
+
+"Let me see!" said Holmes. "Hum! Born in New Jersey in the year
+1858. Contralto--hum! La Scala, hum! Prima donna Imperial Opera
+of Warsaw--yes! Retired from operatic stage--ha! Living in
+London--quite so! Your Majesty, as I understand, became entangled
+with this young person, wrote her some compromising letters, and
+is now desirous of getting those letters back."
+
+"Precisely so. But how--"
+
+"Was there a secret marriage?"
+
+"None."
+
+"No legal papers or certificates?"
+
+"None."
+
+"Then I fail to follow your Majesty. If this young person should
+produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes, how is
+she to prove their authenticity?"
+
+"There is the writing."
+
+"Pooh, pooh! Forgery."
+
+"My private note-paper."
+
+"Stolen."
+
+"My own seal."
+
+"Imitated."
+
+"My photograph."
+
+"Bought."
+
+"We were both in the photograph."
+
+"Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed committed an
+indiscretion."
+
+"I was mad--insane."
+
+"You have compromised yourself seriously."
+
+"I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I am but thirty now."
+
+"It must be recovered."
+
+"We have tried and failed."
+
+"Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought."
+
+"She will not sell."
+
+"Stolen, then."
+
+"Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay ransacked
+her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice
+she has been waylaid. There has been no result."
+
+"No sign of it?"
+
+"Absolutely none."
+
+Holmes laughed. "It is quite a pretty little problem," said he.
+
+"But a very serious one to me," returned the King reproachfully.
+
+"Very, indeed. And what does she propose to do with the
+photograph?"
+
+"To ruin me."
+
+"But how?"
+
+"I am about to be married."
+
+"So I have heard."
+
+"To Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen, second daughter of the
+King of Scandinavia. You may know the strict principles of her
+family. She is herself the very soul of delicacy. A shadow of a
+doubt as to my conduct would bring the matter to an end."
+
+"And Irene Adler?"
+
+"Threatens to send them the photograph. And she will do it. I
+know that she will do it. You do not know her, but she has a soul
+of steel. She has the face of the most beautiful of women, and
+the mind of the most resolute of men. Rather than I should marry
+another woman, there are no lengths to which she would not
+go--none."
+
+"You are sure that she has not sent it yet?"
+
+"I am sure."
+
+"And why?"
+
+"Because she has said that she would send it on the day when the
+betrothal was publicly proclaimed. That will be next Monday."
+
+"Oh, then we have three days yet," said Holmes with a yawn. "That
+is very fortunate, as I have one or two matters of importance to
+look into just at present. Your Majesty will, of course, stay in
+London for the present?"
+
+"Certainly. You will find me at the Langham under the name of the
+Count Von Kramm."
+
+"Then I shall drop you a line to let you know how we progress."
+
+"Pray do so. I shall be all anxiety."
+
+"Then, as to money?"
+
+"You have carte blanche."
+
+"Absolutely?"
+
+"I tell you that I would give one of the provinces of my kingdom
+to have that photograph."
+
+"And for present expenses?"
+
+The King took a heavy chamois leather bag from under his cloak
+and laid it on the table.
+
+"There are three hundred pounds in gold and seven hundred in
+notes," he said.
+
+Holmes scribbled a receipt upon a sheet of his note-book and
+handed it to him.
+
+"And Mademoiselle's address?" he asked.
+
+"Is Briony Lodge, Serpentine Avenue, St. John's Wood."
+
+Holmes took a note of it. "One other question," said he. "Was the
+photograph a cabinet?"
+
+"It was."
+
+"Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust that we shall soon
+have some good news for you. And good-night, Watson," he added,
+as the wheels of the royal brougham rolled down the street. "If
+you will be good enough to call to-morrow afternoon at three
+o'clock I should like to chat this little matter over with you."
+
+
+II.
+
+At three o'clock precisely I was at Baker Street, but Holmes had
+not yet returned. The landlady informed me that he had left the
+house shortly after eight o'clock in the morning. I sat down
+beside the fire, however, with the intention of awaiting him,
+however long he might be. I was already deeply interested in his
+inquiry, for, though it was surrounded by none of the grim and
+strange features which were associated with the two crimes which
+I have already recorded, still, the nature of the case and the
+exalted station of his client gave it a character of its own.
+Indeed, apart from the nature of the investigation which my
+friend had on hand, there was something in his masterly grasp of
+a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, which made it a
+pleasure to me to study his system of work, and to follow the
+quick, subtle methods by which he disentangled the most
+inextricable mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invariable
+success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to
+enter into my head.
+
+It was close upon four before the door opened, and a
+drunken-looking groom, ill-kempt and side-whiskered, with an
+inflamed face and disreputable clothes, walked into the room.
+Accustomed as I was to my friend's amazing powers in the use of
+disguises, I had to look three times before I was certain that it
+was indeed he. With a nod he vanished into the bedroom, whence he
+emerged in five minutes tweed-suited and respectable, as of old.
+Putting his hands into his pockets, he stretched out his legs in
+front of the fire and laughed heartily for some minutes.
+
+"Well, really!" he cried, and then he choked and laughed again
+until he was obliged to lie back, limp and helpless, in the
+chair.
+
+"What is it?"
+
+"It's quite too funny. I am sure you could never guess how I
+employed my morning, or what I ended by doing."
+
+"I can't imagine. I suppose that you have been watching the
+habits, and perhaps the house, of Miss Irene Adler."
+
+"Quite so; but the sequel was rather unusual. I will tell you,
+however. I left the house a little after eight o'clock this
+morning in the character of a groom out of work. There is a
+wonderful sympathy and freemasonry among horsey men. Be one of
+them, and you will know all that there is to know. I soon found
+Briony Lodge. It is a bijou villa, with a garden at the back, but
+built out in front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock
+to the door. Large sitting-room on the right side, well
+furnished, with long windows almost to the floor, and those
+preposterous English window fasteners which a child could open.
+Behind there was nothing remarkable, save that the passage window
+could be reached from the top of the coach-house. I walked round
+it and examined it closely from every point of view, but without
+noting anything else of interest.
+
+"I then lounged down the street and found, as I expected, that
+there was a mews in a lane which runs down by one wall of the
+garden. I lent the ostlers a hand in rubbing down their horses,
+and received in exchange twopence, a glass of half and half, two
+fills of shag tobacco, and as much information as I could desire
+about Miss Adler, to say nothing of half a dozen other people in
+the neighbourhood in whom I was not in the least interested, but
+whose biographies I was compelled to listen to."
+
+"And what of Irene Adler?" I asked.
+
+"Oh, she has turned all the men's heads down in that part. She is
+the daintiest thing under a bonnet on this planet. So say the
+Serpentine-mews, to a man. She lives quietly, sings at concerts,
+drives out at five every day, and returns at seven sharp for
+dinner. Seldom goes out at other times, except when she sings.
+Has only one male visitor, but a good deal of him. He is dark,
+handsome, and dashing, never calls less than once a day, and
+often twice. He is a Mr. Godfrey Norton, of the Inner Temple. See
+the advantages of a cabman as a confidant. They had driven him
+home a dozen times from Serpentine-mews, and knew all about him.
+When I had listened to all they had to tell, I began to walk up
+and down near Briony Lodge once more, and to think over my plan
+of campaign.
+
+"This Godfrey Norton was evidently an important factor in the
+matter. He was a lawyer. That sounded ominous. What was the
+relation between them, and what the object of his repeated
+visits? Was she his client, his friend, or his mistress? If the
+former, she had probably transferred the photograph to his
+keeping. If the latter, it was less likely. On the issue of this
+question depended whether I should continue my work at Briony
+Lodge, or turn my attention to the gentleman's chambers in the
+Temple. It was a delicate point, and it widened the field of my
+inquiry. I fear that I bore you with these details, but I have to
+let you see my little difficulties, if you are to understand the
+situation."
+
+"I am following you closely," I answered.
+
+"I was still balancing the matter in my mind when a hansom cab
+drove up to Briony Lodge, and a gentleman sprang out. He was a
+remarkably handsome man, dark, aquiline, and moustached--evidently
+the man of whom I had heard. He appeared to be in a
+great hurry, shouted to the cabman to wait, and brushed past the
+maid who opened the door with the air of a man who was thoroughly
+at home.
+
+"He was in the house about half an hour, and I could catch
+glimpses of him in the windows of the sitting-room, pacing up and
+down, talking excitedly, and waving his arms. Of her I could see
+nothing. Presently he emerged, looking even more flurried than
+before. As he stepped up to the cab, he pulled a gold watch from
+his pocket and looked at it earnestly, 'Drive like the devil,' he
+shouted, 'first to Gross & Hankey's in Regent Street, and then to
+the Church of St. Monica in the Edgeware Road. Half a guinea if
+you do it in twenty minutes!'
+
+"Away they went, and I was just wondering whether I should not do
+well to follow them when up the lane came a neat little landau,
+the coachman with his coat only half-buttoned, and his tie under
+his ear, while all the tags of his harness were sticking out of
+the buckles. It hadn't pulled up before she shot out of the hall
+door and into it. I only caught a glimpse of her at the moment,
+but she was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might die for.
+
+"'The Church of St. Monica, John,' she cried, 'and half a
+sovereign if you reach it in twenty minutes.'
+
+"This was quite too good to lose, Watson. I was just balancing
+whether I should run for it, or whether I should perch behind her
+landau when a cab came through the street. The driver looked
+twice at such a shabby fare, but I jumped in before he could
+object. 'The Church of St. Monica,' said I, 'and half a sovereign
+if you reach it in twenty minutes.' It was twenty-five minutes to
+twelve, and of course it was clear enough what was in the wind.
+
+"My cabby drove fast. I don't think I ever drove faster, but the
+others were there before us. The cab and the landau with their
+steaming horses were in front of the door when I arrived. I paid
+the man and hurried into the church. There was not a soul there
+save the two whom I had followed and a surpliced clergyman, who
+seemed to be expostulating with them. They were all three
+standing in a knot in front of the altar. I lounged up the side
+aisle like any other idler who has dropped into a church.
+Suddenly, to my surprise, the three at the altar faced round to
+me, and Godfrey Norton came running as hard as he could towards
+me.
+
+"'Thank God,' he cried. 'You'll do. Come! Come!'
+
+"'What then?' I asked.
+
+"'Come, man, come, only three minutes, or it won't be legal.'
+
+"I was half-dragged up to the altar, and before I knew where I was
+I found myself mumbling responses which were whispered in my ear,
+and vouching for things of which I knew nothing, and generally
+assisting in the secure tying up of Irene Adler, spinster, to
+Godfrey Norton, bachelor. It was all done in an instant, and
+there was the gentleman thanking me on the one side and the lady
+on the other, while the clergyman beamed on me in front. It was
+the most preposterous position in which I ever found myself in my
+life, and it was the thought of it that started me laughing just
+now. It seems that there had been some informality about their
+license, that the clergyman absolutely refused to marry them
+without a witness of some sort, and that my lucky appearance
+saved the bridegroom from having to sally out into the streets in
+search of a best man. The bride gave me a sovereign, and I mean
+to wear it on my watch-chain in memory of the occasion."
+
+"This is a very unexpected turn of affairs," said I; "and what
+then?"
+
+"Well, I found my plans very seriously menaced. It looked as if
+the pair might take an immediate departure, and so necessitate
+very prompt and energetic measures on my part. At the church
+door, however, they separated, he driving back to the Temple, and
+she to her own house. 'I shall drive out in the park at five as
+usual,' she said as she left him. I heard no more. They drove
+away in different directions, and I went off to make my own
+arrangements."
+
+"Which are?"
+
+"Some cold beef and a glass of beer," he answered, ringing the
+bell. "I have been too busy to think of food, and I am likely to
+be busier still this evening. By the way, Doctor, I shall want
+your co-operation."
+
+"I shall be delighted."
+
+"You don't mind breaking the law?"
+
+"Not in the least."
+
+"Nor running a chance of arrest?"
+
+"Not in a good cause."
+
+"Oh, the cause is excellent!"
+
+"Then I am your man."
+
+"I was sure that I might rely on you."
+
+"But what is it you wish?"
+
+"When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I will make it clear to
+you. Now," he said as he turned hungrily on the simple fare that
+our landlady had provided, "I must discuss it while I eat, for I
+have not much time. It is nearly five now. In two hours we must
+be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame, rather, returns
+from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her."
+
+"And what then?"
+
+"You must leave that to me. I have already arranged what is to
+occur. There is only one point on which I must insist. You must
+not interfere, come what may. You understand?"
+
+"I am to be neutral?"
+
+"To do nothing whatever. There will probably be some small
+unpleasantness. Do not join in it. It will end in my being
+conveyed into the house. Four or five minutes afterwards the
+sitting-room window will open. You are to station yourself close
+to that open window."
+
+"Yes."
+
+"You are to watch me, for I will be visible to you."
+
+"Yes."
+
+"And when I raise my hand--so--you will throw into the room what
+I give you to throw, and will, at the same time, raise the cry of
+fire. You quite follow me?"
+
+"Entirely."
+
+"It is nothing very formidable," he said, taking a long cigar-shaped
+roll from his pocket. "It is an ordinary plumber's smoke-rocket,
+fitted with a cap at either end to make it self-lighting.
+Your task is confined to that. When you raise your cry of fire,
+it will be taken up by quite a number of people. You may then
+walk to the end of the street, and I will rejoin you in ten
+minutes. I hope that I have made myself clear?"
+
+"I am to remain neutral, to get near the window, to watch you,
+and at the signal to throw in this object, then to raise the cry
+of fire, and to wait you at the corner of the street."
+
+"Precisely."
+
+"Then you may entirely rely on me."
+
+"That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost time that I
+prepare for the new role I have to play."
+
+He disappeared into his bedroom and returned in a few minutes in
+the character of an amiable and simple-minded Nonconformist
+clergyman. His broad black hat, his baggy trousers, his white
+tie, his sympathetic smile, and general look of peering and
+benevolent curiosity were such as Mr. John Hare alone could have
+equalled. It was not merely that Holmes changed his costume. His
+expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with every
+fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a fine actor, even as
+science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in
+crime.
+
+It was a quarter past six when we left Baker Street, and it still
+wanted ten minutes to the hour when we found ourselves in
+Serpentine Avenue. It was already dusk, and the lamps were just
+being lighted as we paced up and down in front of Briony Lodge,
+waiting for the coming of its occupant. The house was just such
+as I had pictured it from Sherlock Holmes' succinct description,
+but the locality appeared to be less private than I expected. On
+the contrary, for a small street in a quiet neighbourhood, it was
+remarkably animated. There was a group of shabbily dressed men
+smoking and laughing in a corner, a scissors-grinder with his
+wheel, two guardsmen who were flirting with a nurse-girl, and
+several well-dressed young men who were lounging up and down with
+cigars in their mouths.
+
+"You see," remarked Holmes, as we paced to and fro in front of
+the house, "this marriage rather simplifies matters. The
+photograph becomes a double-edged weapon now. The chances are
+that she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. Godfrey
+Norton, as our client is to its coming to the eyes of his
+princess. Now the question is, Where are we to find the
+photograph?"
+
+"Where, indeed?"
+
+"It is most unlikely that she carries it about with her. It is
+cabinet size. Too large for easy concealment about a woman's
+dress. She knows that the King is capable of having her waylaid
+and searched. Two attempts of the sort have already been made. We
+may take it, then, that she does not carry it about with her."
+
+"Where, then?"
+
+"Her banker or her lawyer. There is that double possibility. But
+I am inclined to think neither. Women are naturally secretive,
+and they like to do their own secreting. Why should she hand it
+over to anyone else? She could trust her own guardianship, but
+she could not tell what indirect or political influence might be
+brought to bear upon a business man. Besides, remember that she
+had resolved to use it within a few days. It must be where she
+can lay her hands upon it. It must be in her own house."
+
+"But it has twice been burgled."
+
+"Pshaw! They did not know how to look."
+
+"But how will you look?"
+
+"I will not look."
+
+"What then?"
+
+"I will get her to show me."
+
+"But she will refuse."
+
+"She will not be able to. But I hear the rumble of wheels. It is
+her carriage. Now carry out my orders to the letter."
+
+As he spoke the gleam of the side-lights of a carriage came round
+the curve of the avenue. It was a smart little landau which
+rattled up to the door of Briony Lodge. As it pulled up, one of
+the loafing men at the corner dashed forward to open the door in
+the hope of earning a copper, but was elbowed away by another
+loafer, who had rushed up with the same intention. A fierce
+quarrel broke out, which was increased by the two guardsmen, who
+took sides with one of the loungers, and by the scissors-grinder,
+who was equally hot upon the other side. A blow was struck, and
+in an instant the lady, who had stepped from her carriage, was
+the centre of a little knot of flushed and struggling men, who
+struck savagely at each other with their fists and sticks. Holmes
+dashed into the crowd to protect the lady; but just as he reached
+her he gave a cry and dropped to the ground, with the blood
+running freely down his face. At his fall the guardsmen took to
+their heels in one direction and the loungers in the other, while
+a number of better-dressed people, who had watched the scuffle
+without taking part in it, crowded in to help the lady and to
+attend to the injured man. Irene Adler, as I will still call her,
+had hurried up the steps; but she stood at the top with her
+superb figure outlined against the lights of the hall, looking
+back into the street.
+
+"Is the poor gentleman much hurt?" she asked.
+
+"He is dead," cried several voices.
+
+"No, no, there's life in him!" shouted another. "But he'll be
+gone before you can get him to hospital."
+
+"He's a brave fellow," said a woman. "They would have had the
+lady's purse and watch if it hadn't been for him. They were a
+gang, and a rough one, too. Ah, he's breathing now."
+
+"He can't lie in the street. May we bring him in, marm?"
+
+"Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There is a comfortable
+sofa. This way, please!"
+
+Slowly and solemnly he was borne into Briony Lodge and laid out
+in the principal room, while I still observed the proceedings
+from my post by the window. The lamps had been lit, but the
+blinds had not been drawn, so that I could see Holmes as he lay
+upon the couch. I do not know whether he was seized with
+compunction at that moment for the part he was playing, but I
+know that I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life
+than when I saw the beautiful creature against whom I was
+conspiring, or the grace and kindliness with which she waited
+upon the injured man. And yet it would be the blackest treachery
+to Holmes to draw back now from the part which he had intrusted
+to me. I hardened my heart, and took the smoke-rocket from under
+my ulster. After all, I thought, we are not injuring her. We are
+but preventing her from injuring another.
+
+Holmes had sat up upon the couch, and I saw him motion like a man
+who is in need of air. A maid rushed across and threw open the
+window. At the same instant I saw him raise his hand and at the
+signal I tossed my rocket into the room with a cry of "Fire!" The
+word was no sooner out of my mouth than the whole crowd of
+spectators, well dressed and ill--gentlemen, ostlers, and
+servant-maids--joined in a general shriek of "Fire!" Thick clouds
+of smoke curled through the room and out at the open window. I
+caught a glimpse of rushing figures, and a moment later the voice
+of Holmes from within assuring them that it was a false alarm.
+Slipping through the shouting crowd I made my way to the corner
+of the street, and in ten minutes was rejoiced to find my
+friend's arm in mine, and to get away from the scene of uproar.
+He walked swiftly and in silence for some few minutes until we
+had turned down one of the quiet streets which lead towards the
+Edgeware Road.
+
+"You did it very nicely, Doctor," he remarked. "Nothing could
+have been better. It is all right."
+
+"You have the photograph?"
+
+"I know where it is."
+
+"And how did you find out?"
+
+"She showed me, as I told you she would."
+
+"I am still in the dark."
+
+"I do not wish to make a mystery," said he, laughing. "The matter
+was perfectly simple. You, of course, saw that everyone in the
+street was an accomplice. They were all engaged for the evening."
+
+"I guessed as much."
+
+"Then, when the row broke out, I had a little moist red paint in
+the palm of my hand. I rushed forward, fell down, clapped my hand
+to my face, and became a piteous spectacle. It is an old trick."
+
+"That also I could fathom."
+
+"Then they carried me in. She was bound to have me in. What else
+could she do? And into her sitting-room, which was the very room
+which I suspected. It lay between that and her bedroom, and I was
+determined to see which. They laid me on a couch, I motioned for
+air, they were compelled to open the window, and you had your
+chance."
+
+"How did that help you?"
+
+"It was all-important. When a woman thinks that her house is on
+fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she
+values most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse, and I have
+more than once taken advantage of it. In the case of the
+Darlington substitution scandal it was of use to me, and also in
+the Arnsworth Castle business. A married woman grabs at her baby;
+an unmarried one reaches for her jewel-box. Now it was clear to
+me that our lady of to-day had nothing in the house more precious
+to her than what we are in quest of. She would rush to secure it.
+The alarm of fire was admirably done. The smoke and shouting were
+enough to shake nerves of steel. She responded beautifully. The
+photograph is in a recess behind a sliding panel just above the
+right bell-pull. She was there in an instant, and I caught a
+glimpse of it as she half-drew it out. When I cried out that it
+was a false alarm, she replaced it, glanced at the rocket, rushed
+from the room, and I have not seen her since. I rose, and, making
+my excuses, escaped from the house. I hesitated whether to
+attempt to secure the photograph at once; but the coachman had
+come in, and as he was watching me narrowly it seemed safer to
+wait. A little over-precipitance may ruin all."
+
+"And now?" I asked.
+
+"Our quest is practically finished. I shall call with the King
+to-morrow, and with you, if you care to come with us. We will be
+shown into the sitting-room to wait for the lady, but it is
+probable that when she comes she may find neither us nor the
+photograph. It might be a satisfaction to his Majesty to regain
+it with his own hands."
+
+"And when will you call?"
+
+"At eight in the morning. She will not be up, so that we shall
+have a clear field. Besides, we must be prompt, for this marriage
+may mean a complete change in her life and habits. I must wire to
+the King without delay."
+
+We had reached Baker Street and had stopped at the door. He was
+searching his pockets for the key when someone passing said:
+
+"Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes."
+
+There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the
+greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who had
+hurried by.
+
+"I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, staring down the
+dimly lit street. "Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have
+been."
+
+
+III.
+
+I slept at Baker Street that night, and we were engaged upon our
+toast and coffee in the morning when the King of Bohemia rushed
+into the room.
+
+"You have really got it!" he cried, grasping Sherlock Holmes by
+either shoulder and looking eagerly into his face.
+
+"Not yet."
+
+"But you have hopes?"
+
+"I have hopes."
+
+"Then, come. I am all impatience to be gone."
+
+"We must have a cab."
+
+"No, my brougham is waiting."
+
+"Then that will simplify matters." We descended and started off
+once more for Briony Lodge.
+
+"Irene Adler is married," remarked Holmes.
+
+"Married! When?"
+
+"Yesterday."
+
+"But to whom?"
+
+"To an English lawyer named Norton."
+
+"But she could not love him."
+
+"I am in hopes that she does."
+
+"And why in hopes?"
+
+"Because it would spare your Majesty all fear of future
+annoyance. If the lady loves her husband, she does not love your
+Majesty. If she does not love your Majesty, there is no reason
+why she should interfere with your Majesty's plan."
+
+"It is true. And yet--Well! I wish she had been of my own
+station! What a queen she would have made!" He relapsed into a
+moody silence, which was not broken until we drew up in
+Serpentine Avenue.
+
+The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an elderly woman stood
+upon the steps. She watched us with a sardonic eye as we stepped
+from the brougham.
+
+"Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe?" said she.
+
+"I am Mr. Holmes," answered my companion, looking at her with a
+questioning and rather startled gaze.
+
+"Indeed! My mistress told me that you were likely to call. She
+left this morning with her husband by the 5:15 train from Charing
+Cross for the Continent."
+
+"What!" Sherlock Holmes staggered back, white with chagrin and
+surprise. "Do you mean that she has left England?"
+
+"Never to return."
+
+"And the papers?" asked the King hoarsely. "All is lost."
+
+"We shall see." He pushed past the servant and rushed into the
+drawing-room, followed by the King and myself. The furniture was
+scattered about in every direction, with dismantled shelves and
+open drawers, as if the lady had hurriedly ransacked them before
+her flight. Holmes rushed at the bell-pull, tore back a small
+sliding shutter, and, plunging in his hand, pulled out a
+photograph and a letter. The photograph was of Irene Adler
+herself in evening dress, the letter was superscribed to
+"Sherlock Holmes, Esq. To be left till called for." My friend
+tore it open and we all three read it together. It was dated at
+midnight of the preceding night and ran in this way:
+
+"MY DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES,--You really did it very well. You
+took me in completely. Until after the alarm of fire, I had not a
+suspicion. But then, when I found how I had betrayed myself, I
+began to think. I had been warned against you months ago. I had
+been told that if the King employed an agent it would certainly
+be you. And your address had been given me. Yet, with all this,
+you made me reveal what you wanted to know. Even after I became
+suspicious, I found it hard to think evil of such a dear, kind
+old clergyman. But, you know, I have been trained as an actress
+myself. Male costume is nothing new to me. I often take advantage
+of the freedom which it gives. I sent John, the coachman, to
+watch you, ran up stairs, got into my walking-clothes, as I call
+them, and came down just as you departed.
+
+"Well, I followed you to your door, and so made sure that I was
+really an object of interest to the celebrated Mr. Sherlock
+Holmes. Then I, rather imprudently, wished you good-night, and
+started for the Temple to see my husband.
+
+"We both thought the best resource was flight, when pursued by
+so formidable an antagonist; so you will find the nest empty when
+you call to-morrow. As to the photograph, your client may rest in
+peace. I love and am loved by a better man than he. The King may
+do what he will without hindrance from one whom he has cruelly
+wronged. I keep it only to safeguard myself, and to preserve a
+weapon which will always secure me from any steps which he might
+take in the future. I leave a photograph which he might care to
+possess; and I remain, dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
+
+                                      "Very truly yours,
+                                   "IRENE NORTON, n�e ADLER."
+
+"What a woman--oh, what a woman!" cried the King of Bohemia, when
+we had all three read this epistle. "Did I not tell you how quick
+and resolute she was? Would she not have made an admirable queen?
+Is it not a pity that she was not on my level?"
+
+"From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a
+very different level to your Majesty," said Holmes coldly. "I am
+sorry that I have not been able to bring your Majesty's business
+to a more successful conclusion."
+
+"On the contrary, my dear sir," cried the King; "nothing could be
+more successful. I know that her word is inviolate. The
+photograph is now as safe as if it were in the fire."
+
+"I am glad to hear your Majesty say so."
+
+"I am immensely indebted to you. Pray tell me in what way I can
+reward you. This ring--" He slipped an emerald snake ring from
+his finger and held it out upon the palm of his hand.
+
+"Your Majesty has something which I should value even more
+highly," said Holmes.
+
+"You have but to name it."
+
+"This photograph!"
+
+The King stared at him in amazement.
+
+"Irene's photograph!" he cried. "Certainly, if you wish it."
+
+"I thank your Majesty. Then there is no more to be done in the
+matter. I have the honour to wish you a very good-morning." He
+bowed, and, turning away without observing the hand which the
+King had stretched out to him, he set off in my company for his
+chambers.
+
+And that was how a great scandal threatened to affect the kingdom
+of Bohemia, and how the best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were
+beaten by a woman's wit. He used to make merry over the
+cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late. And
+when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her
+photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the woman.
+
+
+
+ADVENTURE II. THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE
+
+I had called upon my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one day in the
+autumn of last year and found him in deep conversation with a
+very stout, florid-faced, elderly gentleman with fiery red hair.
+With an apology for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw when
+Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room and closed the door
+behind me.
+
+"You could not possibly have come at a better time, my dear
+Watson," he said cordially.
+
+"I was afraid that you were engaged."
+
+"So I am. Very much so."
+
+"Then I can wait in the next room."
+
+"Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partner and
+helper in many of my most successful cases, and I have no
+doubt that he will be of the utmost use to me in yours also."
+
+The stout gentleman half rose from his chair and gave a bob of
+greeting, with a quick little questioning glance from his small
+fat-encircled eyes.
+
+"Try the settee," said Holmes, relapsing into his armchair and
+putting his fingertips together, as was his custom when in
+judicial moods. "I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love
+of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum
+routine of everyday life. You have shown your relish for it by
+the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you
+will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own
+little adventures."
+
+"Your cases have indeed been of the greatest interest to me," I
+observed.
+
+"You will remember that I remarked the other day, just before we
+went into the very simple problem presented by Miss Mary
+Sutherland, that for strange effects and extraordinary
+combinations we must go to life itself, which is always far more
+daring than any effort of the imagination."
+
+"A proposition which I took the liberty of doubting."
+
+"You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my
+view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you
+until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to
+be right. Now, Mr. Jabez Wilson here has been good enough to call
+upon me this morning, and to begin a narrative which promises to
+be one of the most singular which I have listened to for some
+time. You have heard me remark that the strangest and most unique
+things are very often connected not with the larger but with the
+smaller crimes, and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for
+doubt whether any positive crime has been committed. As far as I
+have heard it is impossible for me to say whether the present
+case is an instance of crime or not, but the course of events is
+certainly among the most singular that I have ever listened to.
+Perhaps, Mr. Wilson, you would have the great kindness to
+recommence your narrative. I ask you not merely because my friend
+Dr. Watson has not heard the opening part but also because the
+peculiar nature of the story makes me anxious to have every
+possible detail from your lips. As a rule, when I have heard some
+slight indication of the course of events, I am able to guide
+myself by the thousands of other similar cases which occur to my
+memory. In the present instance I am forced to admit that the
+facts are, to the best of my belief, unique."
+
+The portly client puffed out his chest with an appearance of some
+little pride and pulled a dirty and wrinkled newspaper from the
+inside pocket of his greatcoat. As he glanced down the
+advertisement column, with his head thrust forward and the paper
+flattened out upon his knee, I took a good look at the man and
+endeavoured, after the fashion of my companion, to read the
+indications which might be presented by his dress or appearance.
+
+I did not gain very much, however, by my inspection. Our visitor
+bore every mark of being an average commonplace British
+tradesman, obese, pompous, and slow. He wore rather baggy grey
+shepherd's check trousers, a not over-clean black frock-coat,
+unbuttoned in the front, and a drab waistcoat with a heavy brassy
+Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as
+an ornament. A frayed top-hat and a faded brown overcoat with a
+wrinkled velvet collar lay upon a chair beside him. Altogether,
+look as I would, there was nothing remarkable about the man save
+his blazing red head, and the expression of extreme chagrin and
+discontent upon his features.
+
+Sherlock Holmes' quick eye took in my occupation, and he shook
+his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances.
+"Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual
+labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has
+been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of
+writing lately, I can deduce nothing else."
+
+Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger
+upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion.
+
+"How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr.
+Holmes?" he asked. "How did you know, for example, that I did
+manual labour. It's as true as gospel, for I began as a ship's
+carpenter."
+
+"Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger
+than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more
+developed."
+
+"Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?"
+
+"I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that,
+especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you
+use an arc-and-compass breastpin."
+
+"Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?"
+
+"What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for
+five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the
+elbow where you rest it upon the desk?"
+
+"Well, but China?"
+
+"The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right
+wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small
+study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature
+of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' scales of a
+delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I
+see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter
+becomes even more simple."
+
+Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. "Well, I never!" said he. "I
+thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see
+that there was nothing in it, after all."
+
+"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that I make a mistake
+in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know, and my
+poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I
+am so candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr. Wilson?"
+
+"Yes, I have got it now," he answered with his thick red finger
+planted halfway down the column. "Here it is. This is what began
+it all. You just read it for yourself, sir."
+
+I took the paper from him and read as follows:
+
+"TO THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE: On account of the bequest of the late
+Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., there is now
+another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a
+salary of 4 pounds a week for purely nominal services. All
+red-headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age
+of twenty-one years, are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at
+eleven o'clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the League, 7
+Pope's Court, Fleet Street."
+
+"What on earth does this mean?" I ejaculated after I had twice
+read over the extraordinary announcement.
+
+Holmes chuckled and wriggled in his chair, as was his habit when
+in high spirits. "It is a little off the beaten track, isn't it?"
+said he. "And now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell us
+all about yourself, your household, and the effect which this
+advertisement had upon your fortunes. You will first make a note,
+Doctor, of the paper and the date."
+
+"It is The Morning Chronicle of April 27, 1890. Just two months
+ago."
+
+"Very good. Now, Mr. Wilson?"
+
+"Well, it is just as I have been telling you, Mr. Sherlock
+Holmes," said Jabez Wilson, mopping his forehead; "I have a small
+pawnbroker's business at Coburg Square, near the City. It's not a
+very large affair, and of late years it has not done more than
+just give me a living. I used to be able to keep two assistants,
+but now I only keep one; and I would have a job to pay him but
+that he is willing to come for half wages so as to learn the
+business."
+
+"What is the name of this obliging youth?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
+
+"His name is Vincent Spaulding, and he's not such a youth,
+either. It's hard to say his age. I should not wish a smarter
+assistant, Mr. Holmes; and I know very well that he could better
+himself and earn twice what I am able to give him. But, after
+all, if he is satisfied, why should I put ideas in his head?"
+
+"Why, indeed? You seem most fortunate in having an employ� who
+comes under the full market price. It is not a common experience
+among employers in this age. I don't know that your assistant is
+not as remarkable as your advertisement."
+
+"Oh, he has his faults, too," said Mr. Wilson. "Never was such a
+fellow for photography. Snapping away with a camera when he ought
+to be improving his mind, and then diving down into the cellar
+like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pictures. That is his
+main fault, but on the whole he's a good worker. There's no vice
+in him."
+
+"He is still with you, I presume?"
+
+"Yes, sir. He and a girl of fourteen, who does a bit of simple
+cooking and keeps the place clean--that's all I have in the
+house, for I am a widower and never had any family. We live very
+quietly, sir, the three of us; and we keep a roof over our heads
+and pay our debts, if we do nothing more.
+
+"The first thing that put us out was that advertisement.
+Spaulding, he came down into the office just this day eight
+weeks, with this very paper in his hand, and he says:
+
+"'I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed man.'
+
+"'Why that?' I asks.
+
+"'Why,' says he, 'here's another vacancy on the League of the
+Red-headed Men. It's worth quite a little fortune to any man who
+gets it, and I understand that there are more vacancies than
+there are men, so that the trustees are at their wits' end what
+to do with the money. If my hair would only change colour, here's
+a nice little crib all ready for me to step into.'
+
+"'Why, what is it, then?' I asked. You see, Mr. Holmes, I am a
+very stay-at-home man, and as my business came to me instead of
+my having to go to it, I was often weeks on end without putting
+my foot over the door-mat. In that way I didn't know much of what
+was going on outside, and I was always glad of a bit of news.
+
+"'Have you never heard of the League of the Red-headed Men?' he
+asked with his eyes open.
+
+"'Never.'
+
+"'Why, I wonder at that, for you are eligible yourself for one
+of the vacancies.'
+
+"'And what are they worth?' I asked.
+
+"'Oh, merely a couple of hundred a year, but the work is slight,
+and it need not interfere very much with one's other
+occupations.'
+
+"Well, you can easily think that that made me prick up my ears,
+for the business has not been over-good for some years, and an
+extra couple of hundred would have been very handy.
+
+"'Tell me all about it,' said I.
+
+"'Well,' said he, showing me the advertisement, 'you can see for
+yourself that the League has a vacancy, and there is the address
+where you should apply for particulars. As far as I can make out,
+the League was founded by an American millionaire, Ezekiah
+Hopkins, who was very peculiar in his ways. He was himself
+red-headed, and he had a great sympathy for all red-headed men;
+so when he died it was found that he had left his enormous
+fortune in the hands of trustees, with instructions to apply the
+interest to the providing of easy berths to men whose hair is of
+that colour. From all I hear it is splendid pay and very little to
+do.'
+
+"'But,' said I, 'there would be millions of red-headed men who
+would apply.'
+
+"'Not so many as you might think,' he answered. 'You see it is
+really confined to Londoners, and to grown men. This American had
+started from London when he was young, and he wanted to do the
+old town a good turn. Then, again, I have heard it is no use your
+applying if your hair is light red, or dark red, or anything but
+real bright, blazing, fiery red. Now, if you cared to apply, Mr.
+Wilson, you would just walk in; but perhaps it would hardly be
+worth your while to put yourself out of the way for the sake of a
+few hundred pounds.'
+
+"Now, it is a fact, gentlemen, as you may see for yourselves,
+that my hair is of a very full and rich tint, so that it seemed
+to me that if there was to be any competition in the matter I
+stood as good a chance as any man that I had ever met. Vincent
+Spaulding seemed to know so much about it that I thought he might
+prove useful, so I just ordered him to put up the shutters for
+the day and to come right away with me. He was very willing to
+have a holiday, so we shut the business up and started off for
+the address that was given us in the advertisement.
+
+"I never hope to see such a sight as that again, Mr. Holmes. From
+north, south, east, and west every man who had a shade of red in
+his hair had tramped into the city to answer the advertisement.
+Fleet Street was choked with red-headed folk, and Pope's Court
+looked like a coster's orange barrow. I should not have thought
+there were so many in the whole country as were brought together
+by that single advertisement. Every shade of colour they
+were--straw, lemon, orange, brick, Irish-setter, liver, clay;
+but, as Spaulding said, there were not many who had the real
+vivid flame-coloured tint. When I saw how many were waiting, I
+would have given it up in despair; but Spaulding would not hear
+of it. How he did it I could not imagine, but he pushed and
+pulled and butted until he got me through the crowd, and right up
+to the steps which led to the office. There was a double stream
+upon the stair, some going up in hope, and some coming back
+dejected; but we wedged in as well as we could and soon found
+ourselves in the office."
+
+"Your experience has been a most entertaining one," remarked
+Holmes as his client paused and refreshed his memory with a huge
+pinch of snuff. "Pray continue your very interesting statement."
+
+"There was nothing in the office but a couple of wooden chairs
+and a deal table, behind which sat a small man with a head that
+was even redder than mine. He said a few words to each candidate
+as he came up, and then he always managed to find some fault in
+them which would disqualify them. Getting a vacancy did not seem
+to be such a very easy matter, after all. However, when our turn
+came the little man was much more favourable to me than to any of
+the others, and he closed the door as we entered, so that he
+might have a private word with us.
+
+"'This is Mr. Jabez Wilson,' said my assistant, 'and he is
+willing to fill a vacancy in the League.'
+
+"'And he is admirably suited for it,' the other answered. 'He has
+every requirement. I cannot recall when I have seen anything so
+fine.' He took a step backward, cocked his head on one side, and
+gazed at my hair until I felt quite bashful. Then suddenly he
+plunged forward, wrung my hand, and congratulated me warmly on my
+success.
+
+"'It would be injustice to hesitate,' said he. 'You will,
+however, I am sure, excuse me for taking an obvious precaution.'
+With that he seized my hair in both his hands, and tugged until I
+yelled with the pain. 'There is water in your eyes,' said he as
+he released me. 'I perceive that all is as it should be. But we
+have to be careful, for we have twice been deceived by wigs and
+once by paint. I could tell you tales of cobbler's wax which
+would disgust you with human nature.' He stepped over to the
+window and shouted through it at the top of his voice that the
+vacancy was filled. A groan of disappointment came up from below,
+and the folk all trooped away in different directions until there
+was not a red-head to be seen except my own and that of the
+manager.
+
+"'My name,' said he, 'is Mr. Duncan Ross, and I am myself one of
+the pensioners upon the fund left by our noble benefactor. Are
+you a married man, Mr. Wilson? Have you a family?'
+
+"I answered that I had not.
+
+"His face fell immediately.
+
+"'Dear me!' he said gravely, 'that is very serious indeed! I am
+sorry to hear you say that. The fund was, of course, for the
+propagation and spread of the red-heads as well as for their
+maintenance. It is exceedingly unfortunate that you should be a
+bachelor.'
+
+"My face lengthened at this, Mr. Holmes, for I thought that I was
+not to have the vacancy after all; but after thinking it over for
+a few minutes he said that it would be all right.
+
+"'In the case of another,' said he, 'the objection might be
+fatal, but we must stretch a point in favour of a man with such a
+head of hair as yours. When shall you be able to enter upon your
+new duties?'
+
+"'Well, it is a little awkward, for I have a business already,'
+said I.
+
+"'Oh, never mind about that, Mr. Wilson!' said Vincent Spaulding.
+'I should be able to look after that for you.'
+
+"'What would be the hours?' I asked.
+
+"'Ten to two.'
+
+"Now a pawnbroker's business is mostly done of an evening, Mr.
+Holmes, especially Thursday and Friday evening, which is just
+before pay-day; so it would suit me very well to earn a little in
+the mornings. Besides, I knew that my assistant was a good man,
+and that he would see to anything that turned up.
+
+"'That would suit me very well,' said I. 'And the pay?'
+
+"'Is 4 pounds a week.'
+
+"'And the work?'
+
+"'Is purely nominal.'
+
+"'What do you call purely nominal?'
+
+"'Well, you have to be in the office, or at least in the
+building, the whole time. If you leave, you forfeit your whole
+position forever. The will is very clear upon that point. You
+don't comply with the conditions if you budge from the office
+during that time.'
+
+"'It's only four hours a day, and I should not think of leaving,'
+said I.
+
+"'No excuse will avail,' said Mr. Duncan Ross; 'neither sickness
+nor business nor anything else. There you must stay, or you lose
+your billet.'
+
+"'And the work?'
+
+"'Is to copy out the "Encyclopaedia Britannica." There is the first
+volume of it in that press. You must find your own ink, pens, and
+blotting-paper, but we provide this table and chair. Will you be
+ready to-morrow?'
+
+"'Certainly,' I answered.
+
+"'Then, good-bye, Mr. Jabez Wilson, and let me congratulate you
+once more on the important position which you have been fortunate
+enough to gain.' He bowed me out of the room and I went home with
+my assistant, hardly knowing what to say or do, I was so pleased
+at my own good fortune.
+
+"Well, I thought over the matter all day, and by evening I was in
+low spirits again; for I had quite persuaded myself that the
+whole affair must be some great hoax or fraud, though what its
+object might be I could not imagine. It seemed altogether past
+belief that anyone could make such a will, or that they would pay
+such a sum for doing anything so simple as copying out the
+'Encyclopaedia Britannica.' Vincent Spaulding did what he could to
+cheer me up, but by bedtime I had reasoned myself out of the
+whole thing. However, in the morning I determined to have a look
+at it anyhow, so I bought a penny bottle of ink, and with a
+quill-pen, and seven sheets of foolscap paper, I started off for
+Pope's Court.
+
+"Well, to my surprise and delight, everything was as right as
+possible. The table was set out ready for me, and Mr. Duncan Ross
+was there to see that I got fairly to work. He started me off
+upon the letter A, and then he left me; but he would drop in from
+time to time to see that all was right with me. At two o'clock he
+bade me good-day, complimented me upon the amount that I had
+written, and locked the door of the office after me.
+
+"This went on day after day, Mr. Holmes, and on Saturday the
+manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns for my
+week's work. It was the same next week, and the same the week
+after. Every morning I was there at ten, and every afternoon I
+left at two. By degrees Mr. Duncan Ross took to coming in only
+once of a morning, and then, after a time, he did not come in at
+all. Still, of course, I never dared to leave the room for an
+instant, for I was not sure when he might come, and the billet
+was such a good one, and suited me so well, that I would not risk
+the loss of it.
+
+"Eight weeks passed away like this, and I had written about
+Abbots and Archery and Armour and Architecture and Attica, and
+hoped with diligence that I might get on to the B's before very
+long. It cost me something in foolscap, and I had pretty nearly
+filled a shelf with my writings. And then suddenly the whole
+business came to an end."
+
+"To an end?"
+
+"Yes, sir. And no later than this morning. I went to my work as
+usual at ten o'clock, but the door was shut and locked, with a
+little square of cardboard hammered on to the middle of the
+panel with a tack. Here it is, and you can read for yourself."
+
+He held up a piece of white cardboard about the size of a sheet
+of note-paper. It read in this fashion:
+
+                  THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE
+
+                           IS
+
+                        DISSOLVED.
+
+                     October 9, 1890.
+
+Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt announcement and the
+rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so
+completely overtopped every other consideration that we both
+burst out into a roar of laughter.
+
+"I cannot see that there is anything very funny," cried our
+client, flushing up to the roots of his flaming head. "If you can
+do nothing better than laugh at me, I can go elsewhere."
+
+"No, no," cried Holmes, shoving him back into the chair from
+which he had half risen. "I really wouldn't miss your case for
+the world. It is most refreshingly unusual. But there is, if you
+will excuse my saying so, something just a little funny about it.
+Pray what steps did you take when you found the card upon the
+door?"
+
+"I was staggered, sir. I did not know what to do. Then I called
+at the offices round, but none of them seemed to know anything
+about it. Finally, I went to the landlord, who is an accountant
+living on the ground-floor, and I asked him if he could tell me
+what had become of the Red-headed League. He said that he had
+never heard of any such body. Then I asked him who Mr. Duncan
+Ross was. He answered that the name was new to him.
+
+"'Well,' said I, 'the gentleman at No. 4.'
+
+"'What, the red-headed man?'
+
+"'Yes.'
+
+"'Oh,' said he, 'his name was William Morris. He was a solicitor
+and was using my room as a temporary convenience until his new
+premises were ready. He moved out yesterday.'
+
+"'Where could I find him?'
+
+"'Oh, at his new offices. He did tell me the address. Yes, 17
+King Edward Street, near St. Paul's.'
+
+"I started off, Mr. Holmes, but when I got to that address it was
+a manufactory of artificial knee-caps, and no one in it had ever
+heard of either Mr. William Morris or Mr. Duncan Ross."
+
+"And what did you do then?" asked Holmes.
+
+"I went home to Saxe-Coburg Square, and I took the advice of my
+assistant. But he could not help me in any way. He could only say
+that if I waited I should hear by post. But that was not quite
+good enough, Mr. Holmes. I did not wish to lose such a place
+without a struggle, so, as I had heard that you were good enough
+to give advice to poor folk who were in need of it, I came right
+away to you."
+
+"And you did very wisely," said Holmes. "Your case is an
+exceedingly remarkable one, and I shall be happy to look into it.
+From what you have told me I think that it is possible that
+graver issues hang from it than might at first sight appear."
+
+"Grave enough!" said Mr. Jabez Wilson. "Why, I have lost four
+pound a week."
+
+"As far as you are personally concerned," remarked Holmes, "I do
+not see that you have any grievance against this extraordinary
+league. On the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by some
+30 pounds, to say nothing of the minute knowledge which you have
+gained on every subject which comes under the letter A. You have
+lost nothing by them."
+
+"No, sir. But I want to find out about them, and who they are,
+and what their object was in playing this prank--if it was a
+prank--upon me. It was a pretty expensive joke for them, for it
+cost them two and thirty pounds."
+
+"We shall endeavour to clear up these points for you. And, first,
+one or two questions, Mr. Wilson. This assistant of yours who
+first called your attention to the advertisement--how long had he
+been with you?"
+
+"About a month then."
+
+"How did he come?"
+
+"In answer to an advertisement."
+
+"Was he the only applicant?"
+
+"No, I had a dozen."
+
+"Why did you pick him?"
+
+"Because he was handy and would come cheap."
+
+"At half-wages, in fact."
+
+"Yes."
+
+"What is he like, this Vincent Spaulding?"
+
+"Small, stout-built, very quick in his ways, no hair on his face,
+though he's not short of thirty. Has a white splash of acid upon
+his forehead."
+
+Holmes sat up in his chair in considerable excitement. "I thought
+as much," said he. "Have you ever observed that his ears are
+pierced for earrings?"
+
+"Yes, sir. He told me that a gipsy had done it for him when he
+was a lad."
+
+"Hum!" said Holmes, sinking back in deep thought. "He is still
+with you?"
+
+"Oh, yes, sir; I have only just left him."
+
+"And has your business been attended to in your absence?"
+
+"Nothing to complain of, sir. There's never very much to do of a
+morning."
+
+"That will do, Mr. Wilson. I shall be happy to give you an
+opinion upon the subject in the course of a day or two. To-day is
+Saturday, and I hope that by Monday we may come to a conclusion."
+
+"Well, Watson," said Holmes when our visitor had left us, "what
+do you make of it all?"
+
+"I make nothing of it," I answered frankly. "It is a most
+mysterious business."
+
+"As a rule," said Holmes, "the more bizarre a thing is the less
+mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless
+crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is
+the most difficult to identify. But I must be prompt over this
+matter."
+
+"What are you going to do, then?" I asked.
+
+"To smoke," he answered. "It is quite a three pipe problem, and I
+beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes." He curled
+himself up in his chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his
+hawk-like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed and his
+black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill of some strange bird.
+I had come to the conclusion that he had dropped asleep, and
+indeed was nodding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his
+chair with the gesture of a man who has made up his mind and put
+his pipe down upon the mantelpiece.
+
+"Sarasate plays at the St. James's Hall this afternoon," he
+remarked. "What do you think, Watson? Could your patients spare
+you for a few hours?"
+
+"I have nothing to do to-day. My practice is never very
+absorbing."
+
+"Then put on your hat and come. I am going through the City
+first, and we can have some lunch on the way. I observe that
+there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which is
+rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is
+introspective, and I want to introspect. Come along!"
+
+We travelled by the Underground as far as Aldersgate; and a short
+walk took us to Saxe-Coburg Square, the scene of the singular
+story which we had listened to in the morning. It was a poky,
+little, shabby-genteel place, where four lines of dingy
+two-storied brick houses looked out into a small railed-in
+enclosure, where a lawn of weedy grass and a few clumps of faded
+laurel-bushes made a hard fight against a smoke-laden and
+uncongenial atmosphere. Three gilt balls and a brown board with
+"JABEZ WILSON" in white letters, upon a corner house, announced
+the place where our red-headed client carried on his business.
+Sherlock Holmes stopped in front of it with his head on one side
+and looked it all over, with his eyes shining brightly between
+puckered lids. Then he walked slowly up the street, and then down
+again to the corner, still looking keenly at the houses. Finally
+he returned to the pawnbroker's, and, having thumped vigorously
+upon the pavement with his stick two or three times, he went up
+to the door and knocked. It was instantly opened by a
+bright-looking, clean-shaven young fellow, who asked him to step
+in.
+
+"Thank you," said Holmes, "I only wished to ask you how you would
+go from here to the Strand."
+
+"Third right, fourth left," answered the assistant promptly,
+closing the door.
+
+"Smart fellow, that," observed Holmes as we walked away. "He is,
+in my judgment, the fourth smartest man in London, and for daring
+I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third. I have known
+something of him before."
+
+"Evidently," said I, "Mr. Wilson's assistant counts for a good
+deal in this mystery of the Red-headed League. I am sure that you
+inquired your way merely in order that you might see him."
+
+"Not him."
+
+"What then?"
+
+"The knees of his trousers."
+
+"And what did you see?"
+
+"What I expected to see."
+
+"Why did you beat the pavement?"
+
+"My dear doctor, this is a time for observation, not for talk. We
+are spies in an enemy's country. We know something of Saxe-Coburg
+Square. Let us now explore the parts which lie behind it."
+
+The road in which we found ourselves as we turned round the
+corner from the retired Saxe-Coburg Square presented as great a
+contrast to it as the front of a picture does to the back. It was
+one of the main arteries which conveyed the traffic of the City
+to the north and west. The roadway was blocked with the immense
+stream of commerce flowing in a double tide inward and outward,
+while the footpaths were black with the hurrying swarm of
+pedestrians. It was difficult to realise as we looked at the line
+of fine shops and stately business premises that they really
+abutted on the other side upon the faded and stagnant square
+which we had just quitted.
+
+"Let me see," said Holmes, standing at the corner and glancing
+along the line, "I should like just to remember the order of the
+houses here. It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of
+London. There is Mortimer's, the tobacconist, the little
+newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City and Suburban Bank,
+the Vegetarian Restaurant, and McFarlane's carriage-building
+depot. That carries us right on to the other block. And now,
+Doctor, we've done our work, so it's time we had some play. A
+sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where
+all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony, and there are no
+red-headed clients to vex us with their conundrums."
+
+My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being himself not only a
+very capable performer but a composer of no ordinary merit. All
+the afternoon he sat in the stalls wrapped in the most perfect
+happiness, gently waving his long, thin fingers in time to the
+music, while his gently smiling face and his languid, dreamy eyes
+were as unlike those of Holmes the sleuth-hound, Holmes the
+relentless, keen-witted, ready-handed criminal agent, as it was
+possible to conceive. In his singular character the dual nature
+alternately asserted itself, and his extreme exactness and
+astuteness represented, as I have often thought, the reaction
+against the poetic and contemplative mood which occasionally
+predominated in him. The swing of his nature took him from
+extreme languor to devouring energy; and, as I knew well, he was
+never so truly formidable as when, for days on end, he had been
+lounging in his armchair amid his improvisations and his
+black-letter editions. Then it was that the lust of the chase
+would suddenly come upon him, and that his brilliant reasoning
+power would rise to the level of intuition, until those who were
+unacquainted with his methods would look askance at him as on a
+man whose knowledge was not that of other mortals. When I saw him
+that afternoon so enwrapped in the music at St. James's Hall I
+felt that an evil time might be coming upon those whom he had set
+himself to hunt down.
+
+"You want to go home, no doubt, Doctor," he remarked as we
+emerged.
+
+"Yes, it would be as well."
+
+"And I have some business to do which will take some hours. This
+business at Coburg Square is serious."
+
+"Why serious?"
+
+"A considerable crime is in contemplation. I have every reason to
+believe that we shall be in time to stop it. But to-day being
+Saturday rather complicates matters. I shall want your help
+to-night."
+
+"At what time?"
+
+"Ten will be early enough."
+
+"I shall be at Baker Street at ten."
+
+"Very well. And, I say, Doctor, there may be some little danger,
+so kindly put your army revolver in your pocket." He waved his
+hand, turned on his heel, and disappeared in an instant among the
+crowd.
+
+I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbours, but I was
+always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings
+with Sherlock Holmes. Here I had heard what he had heard, I had
+seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident that
+he saw clearly not only what had happened but what was about to
+happen, while to me the whole business was still confused and
+grotesque. As I drove home to my house in Kensington I thought
+over it all, from the extraordinary story of the red-headed
+copier of the "Encyclopaedia" down to the visit to Saxe-Coburg
+Square, and the ominous words with which he had parted from me.
+What was this nocturnal expedition, and why should I go armed?
+Where were we going, and what were we to do? I had the hint from
+Holmes that this smooth-faced pawnbroker's assistant was a
+formidable man--a man who might play a deep game. I tried to
+puzzle it out, but gave it up in despair and set the matter aside
+until night should bring an explanation.
+
+It was a quarter-past nine when I started from home and made my
+way across the Park, and so through Oxford Street to Baker
+Street. Two hansoms were standing at the door, and as I entered
+the passage I heard the sound of voices from above. On entering
+his room I found Holmes in animated conversation with two men,
+one of whom I recognised as Peter Jones, the official police
+agent, while the other was a long, thin, sad-faced man, with a
+very shiny hat and oppressively respectable frock-coat.
+
+"Ha! Our party is complete," said Holmes, buttoning up his
+pea-jacket and taking his heavy hunting crop from the rack.
+"Watson, I think you know Mr. Jones, of Scotland Yard? Let me
+introduce you to Mr. Merryweather, who is to be our companion in
+to-night's adventure."
+
+"We're hunting in couples again, Doctor, you see," said Jones in
+his consequential way. "Our friend here is a wonderful man for
+starting a chase. All he wants is an old dog to help him to do
+the running down."
+
+"I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our chase,"
+observed Mr. Merryweather gloomily.
+
+"You may place considerable confidence in Mr. Holmes, sir," said
+the police agent loftily. "He has his own little methods, which
+are, if he won't mind my saying so, just a little too theoretical
+and fantastic, but he has the makings of a detective in him. It
+is not too much to say that once or twice, as in that business of
+the Sholto murder and the Agra treasure, he has been more nearly
+correct than the official force."
+
+"Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right," said the
+stranger with deference. "Still, I confess that I miss my rubber.
+It is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I
+have not had my rubber."
+
+"I think you will find," said Sherlock Holmes, "that you will
+play for a higher stake to-night than you have ever done yet, and
+that the play will be more exciting. For you, Mr. Merryweather,
+the stake will be some 30,000 pounds; and for you, Jones, it will
+be the man upon whom you wish to lay your hands."
+
+"John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. He's a
+young man, Mr. Merryweather, but he is at the head of his
+profession, and I would rather have my bracelets on him than on
+any criminal in London. He's a remarkable man, is young John
+Clay. His grandfather was a royal duke, and he himself has been
+to Eton and Oxford. His brain is as cunning as his fingers, and
+though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know where to
+find the man himself. He'll crack a crib in Scotland one week,
+and be raising money to build an orphanage in Cornwall the next.
+I've been on his track for years and have never set eyes on him
+yet."
+
+"I hope that I may have the pleasure of introducing you to-night.
+I've had one or two little turns also with Mr. John Clay, and I
+agree with you that he is at the head of his profession. It is
+past ten, however, and quite time that we started. If you two
+will take the first hansom, Watson and I will follow in the
+second."
+
+Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative during the long drive
+and lay back in the cab humming the tunes which he had heard in
+the afternoon. We rattled through an endless labyrinth of gas-lit
+streets until we emerged into Farrington Street.
+
+"We are close there now," my friend remarked. "This fellow
+Merryweather is a bank director, and personally interested in the
+matter. I thought it as well to have Jones with us also. He is
+not a bad fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profession.
+He has one positive virtue. He is as brave as a bulldog and as
+tenacious as a lobster if he gets his claws upon anyone. Here we
+are, and they are waiting for us."
+
+We had reached the same crowded thoroughfare in which we had
+found ourselves in the morning. Our cabs were dismissed, and,
+following the guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down a
+narrow passage and through a side door, which he opened for us.
+Within there was a small corridor, which ended in a very massive
+iron gate. This also was opened, and led down a flight of winding
+stone steps, which terminated at another formidable gate. Mr.
+Merryweather stopped to light a lantern, and then conducted us
+down a dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after opening a
+third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which was piled all
+round with crates and massive boxes.
+
+"You are not very vulnerable from above," Holmes remarked as he
+held up the lantern and gazed about him.
+
+"Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stick upon
+the flags which lined the floor. "Why, dear me, it sounds quite
+hollow!" he remarked, looking up in surprise.
+
+"I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!" said Holmes
+severely. "You have already imperilled the whole success of our
+expedition. Might I beg that you would have the goodness to sit
+down upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?"
+
+The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself upon a crate, with a
+very injured expression upon his face, while Holmes fell upon his
+knees upon the floor and, with the lantern and a magnifying lens,
+began to examine minutely the cracks between the stones. A few
+seconds sufficed to satisfy him, for he sprang to his feet again
+and put his glass in his pocket.
+
+"We have at least an hour before us," he remarked, "for they can
+hardly take any steps until the good pawnbroker is safely in bed.
+Then they will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do their
+work the longer time they will have for their escape. We are at
+present, Doctor--as no doubt you have divined--in the cellar of
+the City branch of one of the principal London banks. Mr.
+Merryweather is the chairman of directors, and he will explain to
+you that there are reasons why the more daring criminals of
+London should take a considerable interest in this cellar at
+present."
+
+"It is our French gold," whispered the director. "We have had
+several warnings that an attempt might be made upon it."
+
+"Your French

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