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From sboi...@apache.org
Subject [21/47] ignite git commit: IGNITE-3912: Hadoop: Implemented new class loading architecture for embedded execution mode.
Date Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:25:02 GMT
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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

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