Sherlock Holmes: Blacker Peter

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He was an elderly man, with a thin, projecting nose, a high, bald forehead, and a huge grizzled moustache. His face was gaunt and swarthy, scored with deep, savage lines. In his hand he carried what appeared to be a stick, but as he laid it down upon the floor it gave a me- tallic clang. Then from the pocket of his overcoat he drew a bulky object, and he busied himself in some task which ended with a loud, sharp click, as if a spring or bolt had fallen into its place. Still kneeling upon the floor he bent forward and threw all his weight and strength upon some lever, with the re- sult that there came a long, whirling, grinding noise, ending once more in a powerful click.

He straightened himself then, and I saw that what he held 'in his hand was a sort of a gun, with a curiously misshapen butt. He opened it at the breech, put something in, and snapped the breech-block. Then, crouch- ing down, he rested the end of the barrel upon the ledge of the open window, and I saw his long moustache droop over the stock and his eye gleam as it peered along the sights. I heard a little sigh of satisfaction as he cuddled the butt into his shoulder, and saw that amazing target, the black man on the yellow ground, standing clear at the end of his fore-sight.

For an instant he was rigid and motionless. Then his finger tightened on the trig- ger. There was a strange, loud whiz and a long, silvery tin- kle of broken glass. At that instant Holmes sprang like a tiger on to the marksman's back, and hurled him flat upon his face. He was up again in a moment, and with con- vulsive strength he seized Holmes by the throat, but I struck him on the head with the butt of my revolver, and he dropped again upon the floor. I fell upon him, and as I held him my comrade blew a shrill call upon a whistle.

There was the clat- ter of running feet upon the pavement, and two policemen in uniform, with one plain-clothes detective, rushed through the front entrance and into the room. I took the job myself. It's good to see you back in London, sir. Three undetected murders in one year won't do, Lestrade. But you handled the Molesey Mystery with less than your usual that's to say, you handled it fairly well. Already a few loiterers had begun to collect in the street.

Holmes stepped up to the window, closed it, and dropped the blinds. Lestrade had produced two candles, and the policemen had uncovered their lanterns. I was able at last to have a good look at our prisoner. It was a tremendously virile and yet sinister face which was turned towards us. With the brow of a philosopher above and the jaw of a sensualist below, the man must have started with great capacities for good or for evil.

But one could not look upon his cruel blue eyes, with their drooping, cynical lids, or upon the fierce, aggressive nose and the threatening, deep-lined brow, without reading Nature's plainest danger-signals. He took no heed of any of us, but his eyes were fixed upon Holmes' face with an expression in which hatred and amazement were equally blended. I don't think I have had the pleasure of seeing you since you favoured me with those attentions as I lay pn the ledge above the Reichen- bachFall.

I believe I am correct, Colonel, in saying that your bag of tigers still remains unrivalled? Have you not tethered a young kid under a tree, lain above it with your rifle, and waited for the bait to bring up your tiger? This empty house is my tree, and you are my tiger. You have possibly had other guns in reserve in case there should be several tigers, or in the unlikely supposition of your own aim failing you. These, " he pointed around, " are my other guns. The parallel is exact. The fury upon his face was ter- rible to look at.

I had imagined you as operating from the street, where my friend Lestrade and his merry men were awaiting you.

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With that exception, all has gone as I expected. If I am in the hands of the law, let things be done in a legal way.

Spolier Alert - Plot Summary

"The Adventure of Black Peter" is a Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle . This tale is in the collection The Return of Sherlock Holmes, but was. "The Adventure of Black Peter" is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as.

Holmes, before we go? I knew Von Herder, the blind German mechanic, who constructed it to the order of the late Professor Moriarty. For years I have been aware of its existence, though I have never before had the opportunity of handling it. I com- mend it very specially to your attention, Lestrade, and also the bullets which fit it. Holmes, " said Les- trade, as the whole party moved towards the door. Why, of course, the attempted murder of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. I do not propose to appear in the matter at all. To you, and to you only, belongs the credit of the re- markable arrest which you have effected.

Yes, Lestrade, I con- gratulate you! With your usual happy mixture of cunning and audacity, you have got him. Got whom, Mr. That's the charge, Lestrade. Hud- son. As I entered I saw, it is true, an unwonted tidiness, but the old landmarks were all in their place. There was the chemical corner and the acid-stained, deal-topped table. There upon a shelf was the row of formidable scrap-books and books of refer- ence which many of our fellow-citizens would have been so glad to burn. The diagrams, the violin-case, and the pipe-rack even the Persian slipper which contained the tobacco all met my eyes as I glanced round me.

There were two occupants of the room one, Mrs. Hudson, who beamed upon us both as we entered the other, the strange dummy which had played so im- portant a part in the evening's adventures. It was a wax-col- oured model of my friend, so admirably done that it was a per- fect facsimile. It stood on a small pedestal table with an old dressing-gown of Holmes' so draped round it that the illusion from the street was absolutely perfect.

You carried the thing out very well. Did you observe where the bullet went? I'm afraid it has spoilt your beautiful bust, for it passed right through the head and flattened itself on the wall. I picked it up from the carpet. Here it is! There's genius in that, for who would expect to find such a thing fired from an air-gun. All right, Mrs. And now, Watson, let me see you in your old seat once more, for there are several points which I should like to discuss with you.

He was the best shot in India, and I expect that there are few better in London. Have you heard the name? But, then, if I remember right, you had not heard the name of Professor James Moriarty, who had one of the great brains of the century. Just give me down my index of biographies from the shelf. Formerly 1st Bengalore Pioneers. Born London, Son of Sir Augustus Moran, C. Educated Eton and Oxford. Address: Conduit Street.

He was always a man of iron nerve, and the story is still told in India how he crawled down a drain after a wounded man- eating tiger. There are some trees, Watson, which grow to a certain height, and then suddenly develop some unsightly eccen- tricity. You will see it often in humans.

I have a theory that the individual represents in his development the whole procession of his ancestors, and that such a sudden turn to good or evil stands for some strong influence which came into the line of his pedigree. The person becomes, as it were, the epitome of the history of his own family. Whatever the cause, Colonel Moran began to go wrong. Without any open scandal, he still made India too hot to hold him.

He retired, came to London, and again acquired an evil name. It was at this time that he was sought out by Professor Moriarty, to whom for a time he was chief of the staff. Moriarty supplied him liberally with money, and used him only in one or two very high-class jobs, which no ordinary criminal could have undertaken.

You may have some recollection of the death of Mrs. Stewart, of Lauder, in Well, I am sure Moran was at the bottom of it, but noth- ing could be proved. No doubt you thought me fanciful. I knew exactly what I was doing, for I knew of the existence of this remarkable gun, and I knew also that one of the best shots in the world would be be- hind it. When we were in Switzerland he followed us with Mori- arty, and it was undoubtedly he who gave me that evil five min- utes on the Reichenbach ledge.

So long as he was free in London, my life would really not have been worth living. Night and day the shadow would have been over me, and sooner or later his chance must have come. What could I do? I could not shoot him at sight, or I should myself be in the dock. There was no use appealing to a magistrate. They cannot interfere on the strength ' of what would appear to them to be a wild suspicion.

So I could do nothing.

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But I watched the criminal news, knowing that sooner or later I should get him. Then came the death of this Ronald Adair. My chance had come at last. Knowing what I did, was it not certain that Colonel Moran had done it? He had played cards with the lad, he had followed him home from the club, he had shot him through the open window. There was not a doubt of it. The bullets alone are enough to put his head in a noose. I came over at once. I was seen by the sentinel, who would, I knew, direct the Colonel's attention to my presence.

He could not fail to connect my sudden return with his crime, and to be terribly alarmed. I was sure that he would make an attempt to get me out of the way at once, and would bring round his murderous weapon for that purpose. Each may form his own hypothesis upon the present evidence, and yours is as likely to be correct as mine. It came out in evidence that Colonel Moran and young Adair had, be- tween them, won a considerable amount of money.

Now, Mo- ran undoubtedly played foul of that I have long been aware. I believe that on the day of the murder Adair had discovered that Moran was cheating. Very likely he had spoken to him pri- vately, and had threatened to expose him unless he voluntarily resigned his membership of the club, and promised not to play cards again. It is unlikely that a youngster like Adair would at once make a hideous scandal by exposing a well-known man so much older than himself.

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Probably he acted as I suggest. The exclusion from his clubs would mean ruin to Moran, who lived by his ill-gotten card-gains. He therefore murdered Adair, who at the time was endeavouring to work out how much money he should himself return, since he could not profit by his partner's foul play. He locked the door lest the ladies should surprise him and insist upon knowing what he was doing with these names and coins.

Will it pass? Meanwhile, come what may, Colonel Moran will trouble us no more. Sherlock Holmes is free to devote his Me to examining those interesting little problems which the complex life of London so plentifully presents. Sherlock Holmes, "London has become a singularly unin- teresting city since the death of the late lamented Professor Moriarty.

With that man in the field, one's morning paper presented infinite possibilities. Often it was only the smallest trace, Watson, the faintest indication, and yet it was enough to tell me that the great malignant brain was there, as the gentlest tremors of the edges of the web remind one of the foul spider which lurks in the centre.

Petty thefts, wanton assaults, purposeless out- rage to the man who held the clue all could be worked into one connected whole. To the scientific student of the higher criminal world, no capital in Europe offered the advantages which London then possessed. At the time of which I speak, Holmes had been back for some months, and I at his request had sold my practice and returned to share the old quarters in Baker Street. A young doctor, named Verner, had purchased my small Kensington practice, and given with astonishingly little demur the highest price that I ventured to ask an incident which only explained itself some years later, when I found that Verner was a distant relation of Holmes, and that it was my friend who had really found the money.

Our months of partnership had not been so uneventful as he had stated, for I find, on looking over my notes, that this period includes the case of the papers of ex-President Murillo, and also the shocking affair of the Dutch steamship Friesland, which so nearly cost us both our lives. His cold and proud nature was always averse, however, from anything in the shape of public applause, and he bound me in the most stringent terms to say no further word of himself, his methods, or his successes a prohibition which, as I have explained, has only now been removed.

Sherlock Holmes was leaning back in his chair after his whimsical protest, and was unfolding his morning paper in a leisurely fashion, when our attention was arrested by a tre- mendous ring at the bell, followed immediately by a hollow drumming sound, as if someone were beating on the outer door with his fist. As it opened there came a tumultuous rush into the hall, rapid feet clattered up the stair, and an instant later a wild-eyed and frantic young man, pale, dishevelled, and palpitating, burst into the room.

Holmes," he cried. I am nearly mad. McFarlane," said he, pushing his case across. Watson here would prescribe a sedative. The weather has been so very warm these last few days. Now, if you feel a little more composed, I should be glad if you would sit down in that chair, and tell us very slowly and quietly who you are, and what it is that you want.

You mentioned your name, as if I should recognise it, but I assure you that, beyond the obvious facts that you are a bachelor, a solicitor, a Freemason, and an asthmatic, I know nothing whatever about you. Our client, how- ; ever, stared in amazement. Holmes; and, in addition, I am the most unfortunate man at this moment in London. For Heaven's sake, don't abandon me, Mr. If they come to arrest me before I have finished my sjory, make them give me time, so that I may tell you the whole truth. I could go to gaol happy if I knew that you were working for me outside.

On what charge do you expect to be ar- rested? Jonas Oldacre, of Lower Norwood. Watson, that sensational cases had disappeared out of our papers. I feel as if my name and my misfortune must be in every man's mouth. Listen to this, Mr. Disappearance of a Well-known Builder. Suspicion of Murder and Arson. Holmes, and I know that it leads infallibly to me. I have been followed from London Bridge Station, and I am sure that they are only waiting for the warrant to arrest me.

It will break my mother's heart it will break her heart! I looked with interest upon this man, who was accused of being the perpetrator of a crime of violence. He was flaxen- haired and handsome, in a washed-out negative fashion, with frightened blue eyes, and a clean-shaven face, with a weak, sensitive mouth.

From the pocket of his light summer overcoat protruded the bundle of indorsed papers which proclaimed his profession. Jonas Oldacre is a well-known resident of that suburb, where he has carried on his business as a builder for many years. Oldacre is a bachelor, fifty-two years of age, and lives in Deep Dene House, at the Sydenham end of the road of that name. He has had the reputation of being a man of eccentric habits, secretive and retiring.

For some years he has practically withdrawn from the business, in which he is said to have amassed considerable wealth. A small timber-yard still exists, however, at the back of the house, and last night, about twelve o'clock, an alarm was given that one of the stacks was on fire. The engines were soon upon the spot, but the dry wood burned with great fury, and it was impossible to arrest the conflagration until the stack had been entirely con- sumed. Up to this point the incident bore the appearance of an ordinary acci- dent, but fresh indications seem to point to serious crime.

Surprise was ex- pressed at the absence of the master of the establishment from the scene of the fire, and an inquiry followed, which showed that he had disappeared from the house. An examination of his room revealed that the bed had not been slept in, that a safe which stood in it was open, that a number of important papers were scattered about the room, and, finally, that there were signs of a murder- ous struggle, slight traces of blood being found within the room, and an oaken walking-stick, which also showed stains of blood upon the handle.

It is known that Mr. Jonas Oldacre had received a late visitor in his bedroom upon that night, and the stick found has been identified as the property of this person, who is a young London solicitor named John Hector McFarlane, junior part- ner of Graham and McFarlane, of , Gresham Buildings, E. The police believe that they have evidence in their possession which supplies a very con- vincing motive for the crime, and altogether it cannot be doubted that sensa- tional developments will follow.

It is rumoured as we go to press that Mr. Jonas Oldacre. It is at least certain that a warrant has been issued. There have been further and sinister developments in the investigation at Norwood. Besides the signs of a struggle in the room of the unfortunate builder it is now known that the French windows of his bedroom which is on the ground floor were found to be open, that there were marks as if some bulky object had been dragged across to the wood-pile, and, finally, it is asserted that charred remains have been found among the charcoal ashes of the fire.

The police theory is that a most sensational crime has been committed, that the victim was clubbed to death in his own bedroom, his papers rifled, and his dead body dragged across to the wood-stack, which was then ignited so as to hide all traces of the crime. The conduct of the criminal investigation has been left in the experienced hands of Inspector Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, who is following up the clues with his accustomed energy and sagacity.

Sherlock Holmes listened with closed eyes and finger-tips together to this remarkable account. Mc- Farlane, how it is that you are still at liberty, since there appears to be enough evidence to justify your arrest? Holmes, but last night, having to do business very late with Mr. Jonas Oldacre, I stayed at an hotel in Norwood, and came to my business from there. I knew nothing of this affair until I was in the train, when I read what you have just heard. I at once saw the horrible danger of my position, and I hurried to put the case into your hands.

I have no doubt that I should have been arrested either at my city office or at my home. A moment later, our old friend Lestrade ap- peared in the doorway. Over his shoulder I caught a glimpse of one or two uniformed policemen outside. John Hector McFarlane? Our unfortunate client rose with a ghastly face.

Holmes, it is difficult for me to refuse you any- thing, for you have been of use to the force once or twice in the past, and we owe you a good turn at Scotland Yard," said Les- trade. His name was familiar to me, for many years ago my parents were acquainted with him, but they drifted apart. I was very much surprised, therefore, when yesterday, about three o'clock in the afternoon, he walked into my office in the city.

But I was still more astonished when he told me the object of his visit. McFarlane, to cast it into proper legal shape. He was a strange little ferret-like man, with white eyelashes, and when I looked up at him I found his keen, grey eyes fixed upon me with an amused expression.

I could hardly believe my own senses as I read the terms of the will; but he explained that he was a bachelor with hardly any living relation, that he had known my parents in his youth, and that he had always heard of me as a very deserving young man, and was assured that his money would be in worthy hands. Of course, I could only stammer out my thanks. The will was duly finished, signed, and witnessed by my clerk.

This is it on the blue paper, and these slips, as I have explained, are the rough draft. Jonas Oldacre then informed me that there were a number of documents building leases, title-deeds, mortgages, scrip, and so forth which it was necessary that I should see and understand. He said that his mind would not be easy until the whole thing was settled, and he begged me to come out to his house at Norwood that night, bringing the will with me, and to arrange matters.

We will keep it as a little surprise for them. Holmes, that I was not in a humour to refuse him anything that he might ask. I sent a telegram home, therefore, to say that I had important business on hand, and that it was impossible for me to say how late I might be. Oldacre had told me that he would like me to have supper with him at nine, as he might not be home before that hour.

I had some difficulty in finding his house, however, and it was nearly half-past before I reached it. I found him " " One moment! Afterwards, Mr. Jonas Oldacre led me into his bedroom, in which there stood a heavy safe. This he opened and took out a mass of documents, which we went over together. It was between eleven and twelve when we finished. He remarked that we must not disturb the house- keeper. He showed me out through his own French window, which had been open all this time. Yes, I remember how he pulled it up in order to swing open the window.

It was so late that I could not get back to Black- heath, so I spent the night at the Anerley Arms, and I knew nothing more until I read of this horrible affair in the morning. Lestrade had learned by more experiences than he would care to acknowledge that that razor-like brain could cut through that which was impenetrable to him. I saw him look curiously at my companion. Sherlock Holmes," said he. McFarlane, two of my constables are at the door, and there is a four-wheeler waiting.

The officers conducted him to the cab, but Lestrade remained. Holmes had picked up the pages which formed the rough draft of the will, and was looking at them with the keenest in- terest upon his face. The official looked at them with a puzzled expression. Those are as clear as print," said he, " but the writing in between is very bad, and there are three places where I cannot read it at all.

The good writing represents stations, the bad writing movement, and the very bad writing passing over points. A scientific expert would pronounce at once that this was drawn up on a suburban line, since nowhere save in the immediate vicinity of a great city could there be so quick a succession of points. Granting that his whole journey was occupied in drawing up the will, then the train was an express, only stopping once between Norwood and London Bridge. Holmes," said he. It is curious is it not? It suggests that he did not think it was going to be of much practical importance.

If a man drew up a will which he did not intend ever to be effective, he might do it so. Well, if that isn't clear, what could be clear? Here is a young man who learns suddenly that, if a certain older man dies, he will succeed to a fortune. What does he do? He says nothing to anyone, but he arranges that he shall go out on some pretext to see his client that night. The blood-stains in the room and also on the stick are very slight. It is prob- able that he imagined his crime to be a bloodless one, and hoped that if the body were consumed it would hide all traces of the method of his death traces which, for some reason, must have pointed to him.

Is not all this obvious? Would it not seem dangerous to you to make so very close a relation between the two incidents? Again, would you choose an occasion when you are known to be in the house, when a servant has let you in? And, finally, would you take the great pains to conceal the body, and yet leave your own stick as a sign that you were the criminal? Confess, Lestrade, that all this is very unlikely. Holmes, you know as well as I do that a criminal is often flurried, and does such things, which a cool man would avoid.

He was very likely afraid to go back to the room. Give me another theory that would fit the facts. I make you a free present of it. The older man is showing documents which are of evident value. A passing tramp sees them through the window, the blind of which is only half down. Exit the solicitor. Enter the tramp! He seizes a stick, which he observes there, kills Oldacre, and departs after burn- ing the body. Sherlock Holmes, you may look for your tramp, and while you are finding him we will hold on to our man. The future will show which is right. Just notice this point, Mr. Holmes : that so far as we know, none of the papers were re- moved, and that the prisoner is the one man in the world who had no reason for removing them, since he was heir-at-law, and would come into them in any case.

As you say, the future will decide. Good morning! I dare say that in the course of the day, I shall drop in at Norwood and see how you are getting on. The police are making the mistake of concentrating their attention upon the second, because it happens to be the one which is actually criminal. But it is evident to me that the logical way to ap- proach the case is to begin by trying to throw some light upon the first incident the curious will, so suddenly made, and to so unexpected an heir.

It may do something to simplify what followed. No, my dear fellow, I don't think you can help me. There is no prospect of danger, or I should not dream of stirring out without you. I trust that when I see you in the evening, I will be able to report that I have been able to do something for this unfortunate youngster, who has thrown himself upon my protection.

For an hour he droned away upon his violin, endeavouring to soothe his own ruffled spirits. At last he flung down the instrument, and plunged into a detailed account of his misadventures. I kept a bold face before Lestrade, but, upon my soul, I believe that for once the fellow is on the right track and we are on the wrong. All my instincts are one way, and all the facts are the other, and I much fear that British juries have not yet attained that pitch of intelligence when they will give the preference to my theories over Lestrade's facts.

The father was away in search of his son. Of course, she would not admit even the pos- sibility of his guilt. But she would not express either surprise or regret over the fate of Oldacre. On the contrary, she spoke of him with such bitterness that she was unconsciously con- siderably strengthening the case of the police for, of course, if her son had heard her speak of the man in this fashion, it would predispose him towards hatred and violence.

Thank Heaven, that I had the sense to turn away from him, and to marry a better, if poorer, man. I was engaged to him, Mr. Holmes, when I heard a shocking story of how he had turned a cat loose in an aviary, and I was so horrified at his brutal cruelty that I would have nothing more to do with him. Holmes, and that same God who has punished that wicked man will show, in His own good time, that my son's hands are guiltless of his blood.

I gave it up at last, and off I went to Norwood. To the right and some distance back from the road was the timber-yard which had been the scene of the fire. Here's a rough plan on a leaf of my note- book. This window on the left is the one which opens into Oldacre's room. You can look into it from the road, you see. That is about the only bit of consolation I have had to-day. Lestrade was not there, but his head constable did the honours.

They had just found a great treasure-trove. They had spent the morning raking among the ashes of the burned wood-pile, and besides the charred organic remains they had secured several discoloured metal discs. I examined them with care, and there was no doubt that they were trouser buttons. I then worked the lawn very carefully for signs and traces, but this drought has made everything as hard as iron.

Nothing was to be seen save that some body or bundle had been dragged through a low privet hedge which is in a line with the wood-pile. All that, of course, fits in with the official theory. I crawled about the lawn with an August sun on my back, but I got up at the end of an hour no wiser than before. The blood-stains were very slight, mere smears and discolorations, but undoubtedly fresh. The stick had been removed, but there also the marks were slight. There is no doubt about the stick belonging to our client.

He admits it. Footmarks of both men could be made out on the carpet, but none of any third person, which again is a trick for the other side. They were piling up their score all the time, and we were at a standstill. I examined the contents of the safe, most of which had been taken out and left on the table. The papers had been made up into sealed envelopes, one or two of which had been opened by the police.

They were not, so far as I could judge, of any great value, nor did the bank-book show that Mr. Oldacre was in such very affluent circumstances. But it seemed to me that all the papers were not there. There were allusions to some deeds possibly the more valuable which I could not find. This, of course, if we could definitely prove it, would turn Lestrade's argument against himself; for who would steal a thing if he knew that he would shortly in- herit it? Lexington is her name a little, dark, silent person, with suspicious and sidelong eyes.

She could tell us something if she would I am convinced of it. But she was as close as wax. Yes, she had let Mr. McFarlane in at half -past nine. She wished her hand had withered before she had done so. She had gone to bed at half -past ten. Her room was at the other end of the house, and she could hear nothing of what passed. Mc- Farlane had left his hat, and to the best of her belief his stick, in the hall. She had been awakened by the alarm of fire. Her poor, dear master had certainly been murdered.

Had he any enemies? Well, every man had enemies, but Mr. Oldacre kept himself very much to himself, and only met people in the way of business. She had seen the buttons, and was sure that they belonged to the clothes which he had worn last night. The wood-pile was very dry, for it had not rained for a month. She and all the firemen smelled the burned flesh from inside it.

She knew nothing of the papers, nor of Mr. Oldacre's private affairs. And yet and yet " he clenched his thin hands in a par- oxysm of conviction "I know it's all wrong. I feel it in my bones. There is something that has not come out, and that housekeeper knows it. There was a sort of sulky defiance in her eyes, which only goes with guilty knowledge. However, there's no good talking any more about it, Watson; but unless some lucky chance comes our way I fear that the Norwood Disappearance Case will not figure in that chronicle of our successes which I foresee that a patient public will sooner or later have to endure.

You remember that terrible murderer, Bert Stevens, who wanted us to get him off in '87? Was there ever a more mild-man- nered, Sunday-school young man? You can hardly find a flaw in the case which can now be presented against him, and all further investigation has served to strengthen it. By the way, there is one curious little point about those papers which may serve us as the start- ing-point for an inquiry. On looking over the bank-book I found that the low state of the balance was principally due to large cheques which have been made out during the last year to Mr. I confess that I should be interested to know who this Mr.

Is it possible that he has had a hand in the affair? Cornelius might be a broker, but we have found no scrip to correspond with these large pay- ments. Failing any other indication, my researches must now take the direction of an inquiry at the bank for the gentleman who has cashed these cheques. But I fear my dear fellow, that our case will end ingloriously by Lestrade hanging our client, which will certainly be a triumph for Scotland Yard. The carpet round his chair was littered with cigarette-ends and with the early editions of the morning papers.

An open telegram lay upon the table. After all, important fresh evidence is a two-edged thing, and may possibly cut in a very different direc- tion to that which Lestrade imagines. Take your breakfast, Watson, and we will go out together and see what we can do. I feel as if I shall need your company and your moral support to-day. I was not sur- prised, therefore, when this morning he left his untouched meal behind him, and started with me for Norwood. A crowd of morbid sightseers were still gathered round Deep Dene House, which was just such a suburban villa as I had pictured.

With- in the gates Lestrade met us, his face flushed with victory, his manner grossly triumphant. Holmes, have you proved us to be wrong yet? Have you found your tramp? Lestrade laughed loudly. Step this way, if you please, gentle- men, and I think I can convince you once for all that it was John McFarlane who did this crime. It was the well-marked print of a thumb. It was evident to me that our unfor- tunate client was lost. Something in his tone caught my ear, and I turned to look at him. An extraordinary change had come over his face.

It was writhing with inward merriment. His two eyes were shin- ing like stars. It seemed to me that he was making desperate efforts to restrain a convulsive attack of laughter. Dear me! And how deceptive appearances may be, to be sure! Such a nice young man to look at! It is a les- son to us not to trust our own judgment, is it not, Lestrade? Holmes," said Lestrade. The man's insolence was maddening, but we could not resent it. Lexington, who drew the night constable's attention to it. Besides, it's not in a very prominent place, as you see.

I suppose there is no doubt that the mark was there yesterday? I confess that I was myself surprised both at his hilarious manner and at his rather wild observation. Holmes, and when I have got my evidence I come to my conclusions. If you have anything to say, you will find me writing my report in the sitting-room. The fact is that there is one really serious flaw in this evidence to which our friend attaches so much importance. What is it?

And now, Watson, let us have a little stroll round in the sunshine. Holmes took each face of the house in turn, and examined it with great interest. He then led the way inside, and went over the whole building from basement to attic. Most of the rooms were unfurnished, but none the less Holmes inspected them all minutely. Finally, on the top corridor, which ran outside three untenanted bedrooms, he again was seized with a spasm of merriment. He has had his little smile at our expense, and perhaps we may do as much by him, if my reading of this problem proves to be correct. Yes, yes, I think I see how we should approach it.

I can't help thinking that your evidence is not complete. He laid down his pen and looked curiously at him. How many constables have you? I think it will be of the greatest assistance in producing the witness whom I require. Thank you very much. I believe you have some matches in your pocket, Watson. Now, Mr. Lest- rade, I will ask you all to accompany me to the top landing. At one end of the corridor we were all marshalled by Sherlock Holmes, the constables grin- ning and Lestrade staring at my friend with amazement, ex- pectation, and derision chasing each other across his features.

Holmes stood before us with the air of a conjurer who is per- forming a trick. Put the straw on the floor here, free from the wall on either side. Now I think that we are all ready. You may possibly remember that you chaffed me a little, some hours ago, when the sun seemed on your side of the hedge, so you must not grudge me a little pomp and ceremony now.

Might I ask you, Watson, to open that window, and then to put a match to the edge of the straw? Might I ask you all to join in the cry of ' Fire! Now, then; one, two, three " " Fire! I will trouble you once again. It had hardly died away when an amazing thing happened. A door suddenly flew open out of what appeared to be solid wall at the end of the corridor, and a little, wizened man darted out of it, like a rabbit out of its burrow.

That will do! Lestrade, allow me to present you with your principal missing witness, Mr. The latter was blinking in the bright light of the cor- ridor, and peering at us and at the smouldering fire. It was an odious face crafty, vicious, malignant, with shifty, light- grey eyes and white lashes. You have done your best to get an innocent man hanged.

If it wasn't for this gentleman here, I am not sure that you would not have succeeded. You won't find the laugh on your side, I promise you. Take him down, and keep him in the sitting-room until I come. Holmes," he continued, when they had gone, " I could not speak before the constables, but I don't mind saying, in the presence of Dr. Watson, that this is the brightest thing that you have done yet, though it is a mys- tery to me how you did it.

You have saved an innocent man's life, and you have prevented a very grave scandal, which would have ruined my reputation in the Force. The work is its own reward. Perhaps I shall get the credit also at some distant day, when I permit my zealous historian to lay out his foolscap once more eh, Watson? Well, now, let us see where this rat has been lurking. It was lit within by slits under the eaves. A few articles of furniture and a supply of food and water were within, together with a number of books and papers. But how did you know of this place, Mr. When I paced one corridor and found it six feet shorter than the corresponding one below, it was pretty clear where he was.

I thought he had not the nerve to lie quiet before an alarm of fire We could, of course, have gone in and taken him, but it amused me to make him reveal himself, besides, I owed you a little mystification, Lestrade, for your chaff in the morn- ing. But how in the world did you know that he was in the house at all? You said it was final ; and so it was, in a very different sense. I pay a good deal of attention to matters of detail, as you may have observed, and I had examined the hall, and was sure that the wall was clear. Therefore, it had been put on during the night.

When those packets were sealed up, Jonas Oldacre got McFarlane to secure one of the seals by putting his thumb upon the soft wax. It would be done so quickly and so naturally, that I dare say the young man himself has no recol- lection of it. Very likely it just so happened, and Oldacre had himself no notion of the use he would put it to. Brooding over the case in that den of his, it suddenly struck him what abso- lutely damning evidence he could make against McFarlane by using that thumb-mark.

It was the simplest thing in the world for him to take a wax impression from the seal, to moisten it in as much blood as he could get from a pin-prick, and to put the mark upon the wall during the night, either with his own hand or with that of his housekeeper. If you examine among those documents which he took with him into his retreat, I will lay you a wager that you find the seal with the thumb- mark upon it.

It's all as clear as crystal, as you put it. But what is the object of this deep deception, Mr. A very deep, malicious, vindictive person is the gentleman who is now waiting us downstairs. You know that he was once refused by McFarlane's mother? You don't! Well, this injury, as he would consider it, has rankled in his wicked, scheming brain, and all his life he has longed for vengeance, but never seen his chance.

During the last year or two, things have gone against him secret speculation, I think and he finds himself in a bad way. He determines to swindle his creditors, and for this purpose he pays large cheques to a certain Mr. Cornelius, who is, I imagine, himself under another name. I have not traced these cheques yet, but I have no doubt that they were banked under that name at some provincial town where Oldacre from time to time led a double existence.

He intended to change his name altogether, draw this money, and vanish, starting life again elsewhere. It was a masterpiece of villainy, and he carried it out like a master. The idea of the will, which would give an obvious motive for the crime, the secret visit unknown to his own parents, the re- tention of the stick, the blood, and the animal remains and but- 4 tons in the wood-pile, all were admirable.

But he had not that supreme gift of the artist, the knowledge of when to stop. He wished to improve that which was already perfect to draw the rope tighter yet round the neck of his unfortunate victim and so he ruined all. Let us descend, Lestrade. There are just one or two questions that I would ask him.

Cornelius," said Holmes. The little man started, and turned his malignant eyes upon my friend. A dead dog, or rabbits, or what? You won't tell? Dear me, how very un- kind of you! Well, well, I dare say that a couple of rabbits would account both for the blood and for the charred ashes. If ever you write an account, Watson, you can make rabbits serve your turn. His head was sunk upon his breast, and he looked from my point of view like a strange, lank bird, with dull grey plumage and a black top-knot.

Accustomed as I was to Holmes' curious faculties, this sudden intrusion into my most intimate thoughts was utterly inexplicable. He wheeled round upon his stool, with a steaming test-tube in his hand, and a gleam of amusement in his deep-set eyes. If, after doing so, one simply knocks out all the central inferences and presents one's audience with the starting- point and the conclusion, one may produce a startling, though possibly a meretricious, effect.

Now, it was not really difficult, by an inspection of the groove between your left forefinger and thumb, to feel sure that you did not propose to invest your small capital in the goldfields. Here are the missing links of the very simple chain: 1. You had chalk between your left finger and thumb when you returned from the club last night. You put chalk there when you play billiards to steady the cue.

You never play billiards except with Thurston. You told me, four weeks ago, that Thurston had an option on some South African property which would expire in a month, and which he desired you to share with him. Your cheque-book is locked in my drawer, and you have not asked for the key. You do not propose to invest your money in this manner. Here is an unexplained one.

See what you can make of that, friend Watson. This little conundrum came by the first post, and he was to follow by the next train. There's a ring at the bell, Watson. I should not be very much sur- prised if this were he. He seemed to bring a whiff of his strong, fresh, bracing, east-coast air with him as he entered. Having shaken hands with each of us, he was about to sit down, when his eye rested upon the paper with the curious markings, which I had just examined and left upon the table. Holmes, what do you make of these?

I sent the paper on ahead, so that you might have time to study it before I came. It consists of a number of absurd little figures dancing across the paper upon which they are drawn. Why should you attribute any importance to so grotesque an object? But my wife does. It is frightening her to death. She says nothing, but I can see terror in her eyes.

That's why I want to sift the matter to the bottom. It was a page torn from a note-book. The markings were done in pencil, and ran in this way: Holmes examined it for some time, and then, folding it care- fully up, he placed it in his pocket-book. Hilton Cubitt, but I should be very much obliged if you would kindly go over it all again for the benefit of my friend, Dr.

I'll begin at the time of my marriage last year, but I want to say first of all that, though I'm not a rich man, my people have been at Riding Thorpe for a matter of five centuries, and there is no better- known family in the County of Norfolk. Last year I came up to London for the Jubilee, and I stopped at a boarding-house in Russell Square, because Parker, the vicar of our parish, was staying in it.

There was an American young lady there Patrick was the name Elsie Patrick. In some way we be- came friends, until before my month was up I was as much in love as man could be. We were quietly married at a registry office, and we returned to Norfolk a wedded couple. You'll think it very mad, Mr. I can't say that she did not give me every chance of getting out of it if I wished to do so. I would rather never allude to the past, for it is very painful to me. If you take me, Hilton, you will take a woman who has nothing that she need be personally ashamed of; but you will have to be content with my word for it, and to allow me to be silent as to all that passed up to the time when I became yours.

If these conditions are too hard, then go back to Norfolk, and leave me to the lonely life in which you found me. I told her that I was content to take her on her own terms, and I have been as good as my word. But about a month ago, at the end of June, I saw for the first time signs of trouble. One day my wife re- ceived a letter from America. I saw the American stamp. She turned deadly white, read the letter, and threw it into the fire. She made no allusion to it afterwards, and I made none, for a promise is a promise, but she has never known an easy hour from that moment.

There is always a look of fear upon her face a look as if she were waiting and expecting. She would do better to trust me. She would find that I was her best friend. But until she speaks, I can say nothing. Then, as now, the female type of sex appeal was youthful, vivacious, and passionate. We may believe however, that a slightly more ample figure was in fashion. Miss Adler's elegant wardrobe was Parisian, of the Continent. At the time she is introduced, she is at the height of her powers to dazzle and charm, which accounts for her need to acquire wealth and social standing so long as she retains her good looks.

Her turnout reflects sophistication, presence, the use of cosmetics, and the wily arts of seduction.. The line between the socially acceptible upper crust and the demi-mondaine was preachable in practise, if one had wit and beauty, but the "self-made woman" was a rare and distinctly unusual type. Coming from the South of the United States adds to her slightly exotic charm. She was a cosmopolitan figure who did not belong to any particular country.

As an incarnation of the archetypal courtesan, she presents one face of the timeless woman. Extremely tall and thin, with a high domed forehead curving to meet his sparse grey hair, he was both attractive and repellent. His sunken black eyes peered out of a head stuck out and oscillating from side to side like a snake.

He was of good birth and excellent education and, although fussy about his clothes, he dressed inconspicuously and was a little blacker in appearance than the commonplace. It was best to go unnoticed in a world preferring to avoid the issue of evil and to "live and let live. Only Holmes was clever enough and of sufficiently high and tenacious of purpose to defeat him. This mathematician appears to have organized a criminal syndicate in London; associating with the criminal class and bringing his superior wits to the strategy of committing "perfect crimes.

Martha Hudson is perhaps the most famous landlady in history. Presumably a widow, she rented rooms and servedmeals with the help of a serving girl or two. I have given her blue eyes and brown hair, and made her a little stocky. This lady, known for her "Scotch Breakfast,"stood in awe of Holmes and he, in turn treats her with sensitivity as he did all women.

Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman. Not only was her first floor flat invaded at all hours by throngs of singular and often undesirable characters, but her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularily in his life which must have sorely tried her patience.

His incredible untidyness, his addiction to music at all hours, his occasional rifle practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him, made him the very worst tenant in London. Ladies like Martha Hudson crowded their houses with a wide assortment of furniture and bric-a-brac in a profusion we would find overpowering. Ladies wore stiff, rather formal, clothes which proclaimed their impregnable virtue. Not only had the industrial revolution brought down the price of fabrics, but the apprenticeship system made finished handmade and elaborately stitched garments of high quality available at a relatively modest cost.

Although she was able to overlook Holmes' many failing as a tenant, we may be sure that she was personally concerned with his appearance, as she was solicitous for his comfort and well-being. Quotes:"Sherlock has all the energy in the family. Mycroft Holmes was born in , seven years before his brother, Sherlock. He was a "heavy, massive figure," with the same high forehead, steel gray alert eyes, and faraway look.

He audited books for the government and focused on this work with the same familiar deductive, analytical genius as Sherlock applied to his detective work.

Holmes with Harpoon in Hand

Much as we know Sherlock Holmes to have been reclusive and private in his habits, his brother Mycroft managed such a life of discreet anonymity that we know almost nothing about him, despite assurances of his importance, behind the scene, in the politics of the British Empire. Older and stouter than Sherlock, he is probably more careful and less eccentric in matters of dress and appearance.

Tall and distinguished, comfortably esconced in the Diogenes Club, he makes his shrewd and unpretentious way through a world of rapid social, economic and technological change. If, in retrospect, we envision the Victorian Age as a placid time, an era of comfort and respectability, this is a tribute to the vigilance and moral exertions of men like Mycroft Holmes who advised the great statesmen and shouldered the burdens of Empire. The Diogenes Club was a silent place where talking was forbidden and where its members sat in huge easy chairs reading the latest periodicals.

He was consulted many times by his famous brother, who considered Mycroft's powers of observation even greater than his own.

What’s the Mystery/Problem Here?

But, because it required physical exertion, Mycroft was reluctant to carry out much in the way of detective work. Mary Morstan was the daughter of Arthur Morstan, after whose death, in she consulted Holmes in the Sign of the Four. Thus the Empire was in its heyday, and such a story of the exotic East, such as The Sign of the Four becomes possible. Nearly a century later, the high-water mark of imperialism seems far-off.

Unlike Irene Adler, whose wrdrobe reflectes the haute couture of Paris, we may be sure that Mary's wardrobe is solidly English and Victorian. She and Watson are from the same social stratus and, like him, her father had served in India. Both reflect the increase in wealth which the days of the Empire afforded the upper-middle classes, but compared with Adler, Mary was rather unsophisticated and uncomplicated as well. Watson admires her for her seemingly uninterest in wealth. It is significant that it is Watson who is drawn to Mary, whereas Holmes is unable to forget Irene.

Mary is twenty-seven, that sweet age when youth has lost its self-consciousness and become a little "sobered by experience. Thus, despite their staid English backgrounds, we may confidently suppose both to be glowing with romantic love. She ascended the throne in , upon the death of William 1V, proclaimed Empress of India in Sherlock Holmes was born in her reign.

The last fifteen years of Victoria's sixty-four year reign saw the sunset of her time and nearly all of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The two were almost opposites and yet each respected the other. Each possessed a strong measure of honesty, courage, and good will. Victoria's life concerns events well before Holmes' career which had shaped the era into which he was eventually born. Victoria was a passionate and clever woman, although deficient in the kind of intellectual wit for which Holmes was so famous, and may be regarded as successfully fullfilling her role as wife and mother as well as Queen and Empress.

Surprisingly, in the context of her times, many of her views on social matters were advanced and liberal. She much preferred the unpretentious informality of Highland Scotland to the artificialities of Windsor and London. Combining the business of government and family, she secured marriages for her children and grandchildren with all the important thrones of Europe.

The Adventure of Black Peter is…

Her mourning for her husband, Albert, who died in , and her ample and grandly maternal form, are qualities which determine the costumes of her last years. The ensemble combines to set her off as the icon of the era to which her name is given. Watson describes him as: " a man hardly less than six feet, six inches in height, with the chest and limbs of a Hercules. Boots, which were trimmed at the top with rich brown fur, completed the impression of opulence.

The outcome of this case was said to affect English History. Nineteenth Century Germany and the rest of continental Europe was a crazy quilt of nations, states, and noble families. By the end of her reign, Queen Victoria had married her children and grandchildren into nearly every one. Thus the business of the British royalty and foreign affairs are intertwined. Like Victoria, our King is passionate, arrogant, self-centered, and determined to preserve honor. In the rapidly changing Europe of the pre-World War 1 period, many forces combined to alter the balance of power centered in hereditary titles and upstart financiers and industrialists.

In every friendship lurked the seed of emnity. The grand scale of the king's style of living is threatened by scandal.

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Besides, it's not in a very prominent place, as you see. Well, then, about that chasm. The young detective was in high spirits at his success. Both she and her husband had occupied the bed. Neither the flowers nor the earth showed any sign of having been disturbed, nor were there any marks upon the narrow strip of grass which separated the house from the road.

Sherlock Holmes gets to meet this character and smooth the path of nations. We may hope that in the twenty-eight years allotted him, before all is to be drenched in blood and swept away by war, this king may learn better to manage his affairs and the politics of Bohemia. I have chosen to portray an Irregular after the humorous Wheeler from The Mudlark , a popular novel set in Victorian England. This poor waif from the London streets wore a man's clothing, a coat that reached to the ground and a hat perched above it.

Here we have an obscure member of this "small but efficient organization. The street urchin surviving disease and neglect was resourceful enough to acquire cast-off clothing against the awful London weather. He was numerous and common enough to "go everywhere, see everything, and overhear everything. England became the most populous nation in Europe in the seventeenth Century.

Political, social, and economic dislocation bred a class of landless urban poor, who were often homeless and out of work, and whose children were exploited in factory sweat-shops as the industrial revolution progressed. Despite the social legislation of Disreli's ministry, many of these youngsters were ill-kempt and uneducated. Others received only the most minimal schooling before being forced into factories or bound into apprenticeships.

Inspector Lestrade was born in , and served fpr more than forty years on the Metropolitan London Police Force Scotland Yard which was created in He is a Londoner all right. Now Study in Scarlet c. Illustrations vary as to his features and attire, but he seems to have a special fondness for the pea jacket.

Certainly he could be around five foot three or four inches tall. With the passage of time, his standing on the force must have improved and his fortunes and, thenceforth, his wardrobe. The social politics of the man on the force was somewhat in flux, although solid aristocrats were in charge, Doyle did not doubt their inferiority to himself. Lestrade is a foil to Holmes' wit and brilliance but, nevertheless, he was the "best of the professionals.

Empire and Industrialism combined to raise the standard of living, expectations, and education of the Middle-Classes of Victorian England. This little fellow terrorized shipwrecked crews, braining them with clubs, shooting them with poisoned arrows, and feasting on them. Tonga was found near death by a convict crew and ended up as a companion to them with his only earthly possessions; a bamboo spear, and a coconut mat.

Anthropology scarcely existed in the Victorian Era. Tonga is an archetypal savage out of the semi-conscious dreamworld where myth gives new shape to scattered facts and fears. This nimble little savage is ruthlessly cruel, inscrutable most of the time, yet has the makings of a loyal and trusted servant to his European master. Although fully grown, he is diminished in stature and seen as childlike, never to become a man. The portrait tells us more about the author than about the ancient race of Andaman aborigines.