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A STUDY IN SCARLET

Part 1

BEING A REPRINT FROM THE REMINISCENCES OF JOHN H.
WATSON, M. D., LATE OF THE ARMY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT


Chapter 1

MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the
University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course
prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies
there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as
assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time,
and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On
landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the
passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed,
however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as
myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my
regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties.
The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it
had nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed from my
brigade and attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at the
fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck on the shoulder by a
Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian
artery. I should have fallen into the hands of the murderous Ghazis
had it not been for the devotion and courage shown by Murray, my
orderly, who threw me across a pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing
me safely to the British lines.
Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had
undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to
the base hospital at Peshawar. Here I rallied, and had already
improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to
bask a little upon the veranda, when I was struck down by enteric
fever, that curse of our Indian possessions. For months my life was
despaired of, and when at last I came to myself and became
convalescent, I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board
determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to
England. I was despatched, accordingly, in the troopship Orontes, and
landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty, with my health irretrievably
ruined, but with permission from a paternal government to spend the
next nine months in attempting to improve it.
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free
as air -- or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a
day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I naturally
gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers
and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for
some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless,
meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably
more freely than I ought. So alarming did the state of my finances
become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis
and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete
alteration in my style of living. Choosing the latter alternative, I
began by making up my mind to leave the hotel, and take up my quarters
in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile.
On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was
standing at the Criterion Bar, when someone tapped me on the shoulder,
and turning round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser
under me at Bart's. The sight of a friendly face in the great
wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In
old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine, but now I
hailed him with enthusiasm, and he, in his turn, appeared to be
delighted to see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him to
lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a
hansom.
"Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?" he asked in
undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded London streets.
"You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut."
I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly
concluded it by the time that we reached our destination.
"Poor devil!" he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened to
my misfortunes. "What are you up to now?"
"Looking for lodgings," I answered. "Trying to solve the problem
as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable
price."
"That's a strange thing," remarked my companion; "you are the
second man to-day that has used that expression to me."
"And who was the first?" I asked.
"A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the
hospital. He was bemoaning himself this morning because he could not
get someone to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had
found, and which were too much for his purse."
"By Jove!" I cried; "if he really wants someone to share the
rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer
having a partner to being alone."
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wineglass.
"You don't know Sherlock Holmes yet," he said; "perhaps you would not
care for him as a constant companion."
"Why, what is there against him?"
"Oh, I didn't say there was anything against him. He is a little
queer in his ideas -- an enthusiast in some branches of science. As
far as I know he is a decent fellow enough."
"A medical student, I suppose?" said I.
"No -- I have no idea what he intends to go in for. I believe he
is well up in anatomy, and he is a first-class chemist; but, as far as
I know, he has never taken out any systematic medical classes. His
studies are very desultory and eccentric, but he has amassed a lot of
out-of-the-way knowledge which would astonish his professors."
"Did you never ask him what he was going in for?" I asked.
"No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can
be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him."
"I should like to meet him," I said. "If I am to lodge with
anyone, I should prefer a man of studious and quiet habits. I am not
strong enough yet to stand much noise or excitement. I had enough of
both in Afghanistan to last me for the remainder of my natural
existence. How could I meet this friend of yours?"
"He is sure to be at the laboratory," returned my companion. "He
either avoids the place for weeks, or else he works there from morning
till night. If you like, we will drive round together after
luncheon."
"Certainly," I answered, and the conversation drifted away into
other channels.
As we made our way to the hospital after leaving the Holborn,
Stamford gave me a few more particulars about the gentleman whom I
proposed to take as a fellow-lodger.
"You mustn't blame me if you don't get on with him," he said; "I
know nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him
occasionally in the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so you
must not hold me responsible."
"If we don't get on it will be easy to part company," I answered.
"It seems to me, Stamford," I added, looking hard at my companion,
"that you have some reason for washing your hands of the matter. Is
this fellow's temper so formidable, or what is it? Don't be
mealymouthed about it."
"It is not easy to express the inexpressible," he answered with a
laugh. "Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes -- it
approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a
little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence,
you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have
an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he
would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a
passion for definite and exact knowledge."
"Very right too."
"Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to beating
the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly
taking rather a bizarre shape."
"Beating the subjects!"
"Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death. I
saw him at it with my own eyes."
"And yet you say he is not a medical student?"
"No. Heaven knows what the objects of his studies are. But here
we are, and you must form your own impressions about him." As he
spoke, we turned down a narrow lane and passed through a small
side-door, which opened into a wing of the great hospital. It was
familiar ground to me, and I needed no guiding as we ascended the
bleak stone staircase and made our way down the long corridor with its
vista of whitewashed wall and dun-coloured doors. Near the farther
end a low arched passage branched away from it and led to the chemical
laboratory.
This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless
bottles. Broad, low tables were scattered about, which bristled with
retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue
flickering flames. There was only one student in the room, who was
bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of
our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of
pleasure. "I've found it! I've found it," he shouted to my
companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. "I have
found a re-agent which is precipitated by haemoglobin, and by nothing
else." Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have
shone upon his features.
"Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stamford, introducing
us.
"How are you?" he said cordially, gripping my hand with a
strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. "You have
been in Afghanistan, I perceive."
"How on earth did you know that?" I asked in astonishment.
"Never mind," said he, chuckling to himself. "The question now
is about haemoglobin. No doubt you see the significance of this
discovery of mine?"
"It is interesting, chemically, no doubt," I answered, "but
practically --"
"Why, man, it is the most practical medico-legal discovery for
years. Don't you see that it gives us an infallible test for blood
stains? Come over here now!" He seized me by the coat-sleeve in his
eagerness, and drew me over to the table at which he had been working.
"Let us have some fresh blood," he said, digging a long bodkin into
his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical
pipette. "Now, I add this small quantity of blood to a litre of
water. You perceive that the resulting mixture has the appearance of
pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a
million. I have no doubt, however, that we shall be able to obtain
the characteristic reaction." As he spoke, he threw into the vessel a
few white crystals, and then added some drops of a transparent fluid.
In an instant the contents assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a
brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar.
"Ha! ha!" he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted
as a child with a new toy. "What do you think of that?"
"It seems to be a very delicate test," I remarked.
"Beautiful! beautiful! The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and
uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles.
The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. Now, this
appears to act as well whether the blood is old or new. Had this test
been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who
would long ago have paid the penalty of their crimes."
"Indeed!" I murmured.
"Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A
man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been
committed. His linen or clothes are examined and brownish stains
discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust
stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a question which
has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because there was no reliable
test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes's test, and there will no
longer be any difficulty."
His eyes fairly glittered as he spoke, and he put his hand over
his heart and bowed as if to some applauding crowd conjured up by his
imagination.
"You are to be congratulated," I remarked, considerably surprised
at his enthusiasm.
"There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year. He
would certainly have been hung had this test been in existence. Then
there was Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and Lefevre of
Montpellier, and Samson of New Orleans. I could name a score of cases
in which it would have been decisive."
"You seem to be a walking calendar of crime," said Stamford with
a laugh. "You might start a paper on those lines. Call it the
'Police News of the Past.'"
"Very interesting reading it might be made, too," remarked
Sherlock Holmes, sticking a small piece of plaster over the prick on
his finger. "I have to be careful," he continued, turning to me with
a smile, "for I dabble with poisons a good deal." He held out his
hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it was all mottled over with
similar pieces of plaster, and discoloured with strong acids.
"We came here on business," said Stamford, sitting down on a high
three-legged stool, and pushing another one in my direction with his
foot. "My friend here wants to take diggings; and as you were
complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you, I thought
that I had better bring you together."
Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms
with me. "I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street," he said, "which
would suit us down to the ground. You don't mind the smell of strong
tobacco, I hope?"
"I always smoke 'ship's' myself," I answered.
"That's good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and
occasionally do experiments. Would that annoy you?"
"By no means."
"Let me see -- what are my other shortcomings? I get in the
dumps at times, and don't open my mouth for days on end. You must not
think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I'll soon be
right. What have you to confess now? It's just as well for two
fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live
together."
I laughed at this cross-examination. "I keep a bull pup," I
said, "and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up
at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have
another set of vices when I'm well, but those are the principal ones
at present."
"Do you include violin playing in your category of rows?" he
asked, anxiously.
"It depends on the player," I answered. "A well-played violin is
a treat for the gods -- a badly played one --"
"Oh, that's all right," he cried, with a merry laugh. "I think
we may consider the thing as settled -- that is, if the rooms are
agreeable to you."
"When shall we see them?"
"Call for me here at noon to-morrow, and we'll go together and
settle everything," he answered.
"All right -- noon exactly," said I, shaking his hand.
We left him working among his chemicals, and we walked together
towards my hotel.
"By the way," I asked suddenly, stopping and turning upon
Stamford, "how the deuce did he know that I had come from
Afghanistan?"
My companion smiled an enigmatical smile. "That's just his
little peculiarity," he said. "A good many people have wanted to know
how he finds things out."
"Oh! a mystery is it?" I cried, rubbing my hands. "This is very
piquant. I am much obliged to you for bringing us together. 'The
proper study of mankind is man,' you know."
"You must study him, then," Stamford said, as he bade me
good-bye. "You'll find him a knotty problem, though. I'll wager he
learns more about you than you about him. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," I answered, and strolled on to my hotel, considerably
interested in my new acquaintance.


Chapter 2

THE SCIENCE OF DEDUCTION

We met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at
No. 221B, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting. They
consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single large airy
sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two broad
windows. So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so
moderate did the terms seem when divided between us, that the bargain
was concluded upon the spot, and we at once entered into possession.
That very evening I moved my things round from the hotel, and on the
following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and
portmanteaus. For a day or two we were busily employed in unpacking
and laying out our property to the best advantage. That done, we
gradually began to settle down and to accommodate ourselves to our new
surroundings.
Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was
quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him
to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and
gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his day at
the chemical laboratory, sometimes in the dissecting-rooms, and
occasionally in long walks, which appeared to take him into the lowest
portions of the city. Nothing could exceed his energy when the
working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize
him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the
sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning
to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant
expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being
addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and
cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.
As the weeks went by, my interest in him and my curiosity as to
his aims in life gradually deepened and increased. His very person
and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual
observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively
lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp
and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have
alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air
of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and
squareness which mark the man of determination. His hands were
invariably blotted with ink and stained with chemicals, yet he was
possessed of extraordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had
occasion to observe when I watched him manipulating his fragile
philosophical instruments.
The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody, when I confess
how much this man stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeavoured
to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned
himself. Before pronouncing judgment, however, be it remembered how
objectless was my life, and how little there was to engage my
attention. My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather
was exceptionally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me
and break the monotony of my daily existence. Under these
circumstances, I eagerly hailed the little mystery which hung around
my companion, and spent much of my time in endeavouring to unravel
it.
He was not studying medicine. He had himself, in reply to a
question, confirmed Stamford's opinion upon that point. Neither did
he appear to have pursued any course of reading which might fit him
for a degree in science or any other recognized portal which would
give him an entrance into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain
studies was remarkable, and within eccentric limits his knowledge was
so extraordinarily ample and minute that his observations have fairly
astounded me. Surely no man would work so hard or attain such precise
information unless he had some definite end in view. Desultory
readers are seldom remarkable for the exactness of their learning. No
man burdens his mind with small matters unless he has some very good
reason for doing so.
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of
contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know
next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the
naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached
a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of
the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System.
That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not
be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to me to be
such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.
"You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression
of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget
it."
"To forget it!"
"You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain
originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with
such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every
sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful
to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other
things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now
the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into
his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help
him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all
in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little
room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it
there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget
something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance,
therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."
"But the Solar System!" I protested.
"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently: "you
say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not
make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."
I was on the point of asking him what that work might be, but
something in his manner showed me that the question would be an
unwelcome one. I pondered over our short conversation, however, and
endeavoured to draw my deductions from it. He said that he would
acquire no knowledge which did not bear upon his object. Therefore
all the knowledge which he possessed was such as would be useful to
him. I enumerated in my own mind all the various points upon which he
had shown me that he was exceptionally well informed. I even took a
pencil and jotted them down. I could not help smiling at the document
when I had completed it. It ran in this way:

Sherlock Holmes -- his limits
1. Knowledge of Literature. -- Nil.
2. " " Philosophy. -- Nil.
3. " " Astronomy. -- Nil.
4. " " Politics. -- Feeble.
5. " " Botany. -- Variable.
Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing
of practical gardening.
6. Knowledge of Geology. -- Practical, but limited.
Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has
shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and
consistence in what part of London he had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry. -- Profound.
8. " " Anatomy. -- Accurate, but unsystematic.
9. " " Sensational Literature. -- Immense.
He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the
century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the fire in
despair. "If I can only find what the fellow is driving at by
reconciling all these accomplishments, and discovering a calling which
needs them all," I said to myself, "I may as well give up the attempt
at once."
I see that I have alluded above to his powers upon the violin.
These were very remarkable, but as eccentric as all his other
accomplishments. That he could play pieces, and difficult pieces, I
knew well, because at my request he has played me some of
Mendelssohn's Lieder, and other favourites. When left to himself,
however, he would seldom produce any music or attempt any recognized
air. Leaning back in his armchair of an evening, he would close his
eyes and scrape carelessly at the fiddle which was thrown across his
knee. Sometimes the chords were sonorous and melancholy.
Occasionally they were fantastic and cheerful. Clearly they reflected
the thoughts which possessed him, but whether the music aided those
thoughts, or whether the playing was simply the result of a whim or
fancy, was more than I could determine. I might have rebelled against
these exasperating solos had it not been that he usually terminated
them by playing in quick succession a whole series of my favourite
airs as a slight compensation for the trial upon my patience.
During the first week or so we had no callers, and I had begun to
think that my companion was as friendless a man as I was myself.
Presently, however, I found that he had many acquaintances, and those
in the most different classes of society. There was one little
sallow, rat-faced, dark-eyed fellow, who was introduced to me as Mr.
Lestrade, and who came three or four times in a single week. One
morning a young girl called, fashionably dressed, and stayed for half
an hour or more. The same afternoon brought a gray-headed, seedy
visitor, looking like a Jew peddler, who appeared to me to be much
excited, and who was closely followed by a slipshod elderly woman. On
another occasion an old white-haired gentleman had an interview with
my companion; and on another, a railway porter in his velveteen
uniform. When any of these nondescript individuals put in an
appearance, Sherlock Holmes used to beg for the use of the
sitting-room, and I would retire to my bedroom. He always apologized
to me for putting me to this inconvenience. "I have to use this room
as a place of business," he said, "and these people are my clients."
Again I had an opportunity of asking him a point-blank question, and
again my delicacy prevented me from forcing another man to confide in
me. I imagined at the time that he had some strong reason for not
alluding to it, but he soon dispelled the idea by coming round to the
subject of his own accord.
It was upon the 4th of March, as I have good reason to remember,
that I rose somewhat earlier than usual, and found that Sherlock
Holmes had not yet finished his breakfast. The landlady had become so
accustomed to my late habits that my place had not been laid nor my
coffee prepared. With the unreasonable petulance of mankind I rang
the bell and gave a curt intimation that I was ready. Then I picked
up a magazine from the table and attempted to while away the time with
it, while my companion munched silently at his toast. One of the
articles had a pencil mark at the heading, and I naturally began to
run my eye through it.
Its somewhat ambitious title was "The Book of Life," and it
attempted to show how much an observant man might learn by an accurate
and systematic examination of all that came in his way. It struck me
as being a remarkable mixture of shrewdness and of absurdity. The
reasoning was close and intense, but the deductions appeared to me to
be far fetched and exaggerated. The writer claimed by a momentary
expression, a twitch of a muscle or a glance of an eye, to fathom a
man's inmost thoughts. Deceit, according to him, was an impossibility
in the case of one trained to observation and analysis. His
conclusions were as infallible as so many propositions of Euclid. So
startling would his results appear to the uninitiated that until they
learned the processes by which he had arrived at them they might well
consider him as a necromancer.
"From a drop of water," said the writer, "a logician could infer
the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or
heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature
of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it. Like all
other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can
only be acquired by long and patient study, nor is life long enough to
allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it.
Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which
present the greatest difficulties, let the inquirer begin by mastering
more elementary problems. Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn
at a glance to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or
profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem,
it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to
look and what to look for. By a man's finger-nails, by his
coat-sleeve, by his boots, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities of
his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuffs -- by
each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That all
united should fail to enlighten the competent inquirer in any case is
almost inconceivable."
"What ineffable twaddle!" I cried, slapping the magazine down on
the table; "I never read such rubbish in my life."
"What is it?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
"Why, this article," I said, pointing at it with my eggspoon as I
sat down to my breakfast. "I see that you have read it since you have
marked it. I don't deny that it is smartly written. It irritates me,
though. It is evidently the theory of some armchair lounger who
evolves all these neat little paradoxes in the seclusion of his own
study. It is not practical. I should like to see him clapped down in
a third-class carriage on the Underground, and asked to give the
trades of all his fellow-travellers. I would lay a thousand to one
against him."
"You would lose your money," Holmes remarked calmly. "As for the
article, I wrote it myself."
"You!"
"Yes; I have a turn both for observation and for deduction. The
theories which I have expressed there, and which appear to you to be
so chimerical, are really extremely practical -- so practical that I
depend upon them for my bread and cheese."
"And how?" I asked involuntarily.
"Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose I am the only one in
the world. I'm a consulting detective, if you can understand what
that is. Here in London we have lots of government detectives and
lots of private ones. When these fellows are at fault, they come to
me, and I manage to put them on the right scent. They lay all the
evidence before me, and I am generally able, by the help of my
knowledge of the history of crime, to set them straight. There is a
strong family resemblance about misdeeds, and if you have all the
details of a thousand at your finger ends, it is odd if you can't
unravel the thousand and first. Lestrade is a well-known detective.
He got himself into a fog recently over a forgery case, and that was
what brought him here."
"And these other people?"
"They are mostly sent on by private inquiry agencies. They are
all people who are in trouble about something and want a little
enlightening. I listen to their story, they listen to my comments,
and then I pocket my fee."
"But do you mean to say," I said, "that without leaving your room
you can unravel some knot which other men can make nothing of,
although they have seen every detail for themselves?"
"Quite so. I have a kind of intuition that way. Now and again a
case turns up which is a little more complex. Then I have to bustle
about and see things with my own eyes. You see I have a lot of
special knowledge which I apply to the problem, and which facilitates
matters wonderfully. Those rules of deduction laid down in that
article which aroused your scorn are invaluable to me in practical
work. Observation with me is second nature. You appeared to be
surprised when I told you, on our first meeting, that you had come
from Afghanistan."
"You were told, no doubt."
"Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from Afghanistan. From
long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind that I
arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate
steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran,
'Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military
man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the
tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his
skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and
sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been
injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the
tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got
his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.' The whole train of thought
did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you came from
Afghanistan, and you were astonished."
"It is simple enough as you explain it," I said, smiling. "You

remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin. I had no idea that such
individuals did exist outside of stories."
Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think that
you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he observed.
"Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of
his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark
after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and
superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by
no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."
"Have you read Gaboriau's works?" I asked. "Does Lecoq come up
to your idea of a detective?"
Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. "Lecoq was a miserable
bungler," he said, in an angry voice; "he had only one thing to
recommend him, and that was his energy. That book made me positively
ill. The question was how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could
have done it in twenty-four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It
might be made a textbook for detectives to teach them what to avoid."
I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had
admired treated in this cavalier style. I walked over to the window
and stood looking out into the busy street. "This fellow may be very
clever," I said to myself, "but he is certainly very conceited."
"There are no crimes and no criminals in these days," he said,
querulously. "What is the use of having brains in our profession? I
know well that I have it in me to make my name famous. No man lives
or has ever lived who has brought the same amount of study and of
natural talent to the detection of crime which I have done. And what
is the result? There is no crime to detect, or, at most, some
bungling villainy with a motive so transparent that even a Scotland
Yard official can see through it."
I was still annoyed at his bumptious style of conversation. I
thought it best to change the topic.
"I wonder what that fellow is looking for?" I asked, pointing to
a stalwart, plainly dressed individual who was walking slowly down the
other side of the street, looking anxiously at the numbers. He had a
large blue envelope in his hand, and was evidently the bearer of a
message.
"You mean the retired sergeant of Marines," said Sherlock
Holmes.
"Brag and bounce!" thought I to myself. "He knows that I cannot
verify his guess."
The thought had hardly passed through my mind when the man whom
we were watching caught sight of the number on our door, and ran
rapidly across the roadway. We heard a loud knock, a deep voice
below, and heavy steps ascending the stair.
"For Mr. Sherlock Holmes," he said, stepping into the room and
handing my friend the letter.
Here was an opportunity of taking the conceit out of him. He
little thought of this when he made that random shot. "May I ask, my
lad," I said, in the blandest voice, "what your trade may be?"
"Commissionaire, sir," he said, gruffly. "Uniform away for
repairs."
"And you were?" I asked, with a slightly malicious glance at my
companion.
"A sergeant, sir, Royal Marine Light Infantry, sir. No answer?
Right, sir."
He clicked his heels together, raised his hand in salute, and was
gone.


Chapter 3

THE LAURISTON GARDEN MYSTERY

I confess that I was considerably startled by this fresh proof of
the practical nature of my companion's theories. My respect for his
powers of analysis increased wondrously. There still remained some
lurking suspicion in my mind, however, that the whole thing was a
prearranged episode, intended to dazzle me, though what earthly object
he could have in taking me in was past my comprehension. When I
looked at him, he had finished reading the note, and his eyes had
assumed the vacant, lack-lustre expression which showed mental
abstraction.
"How in the world did you deduce that?" I asked.
"Deduce what?" said he, petulantly.
"Why, that he was a retired sergeant of Marines."
"I have no time for trifles," he answered, brusquely; then with a
smile, "Excuse my rudeness. You broke the thread of my thoughts; but
perhaps it is as well. So you actually were not able to see that that
man was a sergeant of Marines?"
"No, indeed."
"It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you
were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some
difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across the
street I could see a great blue anchor tattooed on the back of the
fellow's hand. That smacked of the sea. He had a military carriage,
however, and regulation side whiskers. There we have the marine. He
was a man with some amount of self-importance and a certain air of
command. You must have observed the way in which he held his head and
swung his cane. A steady, respectable, middle-aged man, too, on the
face of him -- all facts which led me to believe that he had been a
sergeant."
"Wonderful!" I ejaculated.
"Commonplace," said Holmes, though I thought from his expression
that he was pleased at my evident surprise and admiration. "I said
just now that there were no criminals. It appears that I am wrong --
look at this!" He threw me over the note which the commissionaire had
brought.
"Why," I cried, as I cast my eye over it, "this is terrible!"
"It does seem to be a little out of the common," he remarked,
calmly. "Would you mind reading it to me aloud?"
This is the letter which I read to him, --

"MY DEAR MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES:
"There has been a bad business during the night at 3, Lauriston
Gardens, off the Brixton Road. Our man on the beat saw a light there
about two in the morning, and as the house was an empty one, suspected
that something was amiss. He found the door open, and in the front
room, which is bare of furniture, discovered the body of a gentleman,
well dressed, and having cards in his pocket bearing the name of
'Enoch J. Drebber, Cleveland, Ohio, U. S. A.' There had been no
robbery, nor is there any evidence as to how the man met his death.
There are marks of blood in the room, but there is no wound upon his
person. We are at a loss as to how he came into the empty house;
indeed, the whole affair is a puzzler. If you can come round to the
house any time before twelve, you will find me there. I have left
everything in statu quo until I hear from you. If you are unable to
come, I shall give you fuller details, and would esteem it a great
kindness if you would favour me with your opinions.
"Yours
faithfully,
"TOBIAS
GREGSON."

"Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland Yarders," my friend
remarked; "he and Lestrade are the pick of a bad lot. They are both
quick and energetic, but conventional -- shockingly so. They have
their knives into one another, too. They are as jealous as a pair of
professional beauties. There will be some fun over this case if they
are both put upon the scent."
I was amazed at the calm way in which he rippled on. "Surely
there is not a moment to be lost," I cried; "shall I go and order you
a cab?"
"I'm not sure about whether I shall go. I am the most incurably
lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather -- that is, when the fit is
on me, for I can be spry enough at times."
"Why, it is just such a chance as you have been longing for."
"My dear fellow, what does it matter to me? Supposing I unravel
the whole matter, you may be sure that Gregson, Lestrade, and Co. will
pocket all the credit. That comes of being an unofficial personage."
"But he begs you to help him."
"Yes. He knows that I am his superior, and acknowledges it to
me; but he would cut his tongue out before he would own it to any
third person. However, we may as well go and have a look. I shall
work it out on my own hook. I may have a laugh at them, if I have
nothing else. Come on!"
He hustled on his overcoat, and bustled about in a way that
showed that an energetic fit had superseded the apathetic one.
"Get your hat," he said.
"You wish me to come?"
"Yes, if you have nothing better to do." A minute later we were
both in a hansom, driving furiously for the Brixton Road.
It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-coloured veil hung over
the housetops, looking like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets
beneath. My companion was in the best of spirits, and prattled away
about Cremona fiddles and the difference between a Stradivarius and an
Amati. As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather and the
melancholy business upon which we were engaged depressed my spirits.
"You don't seem to give much thought to the matter in hand," I
said at last, interrupting Holmes's musical disquisition.
"No data yet," he answered. "It is a capital mistake to theorize
before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment."
"You will have your data soon," I remarked, pointing with my
finger; "this is the Brixton Road, and that is the house, if I am not
very much mistaken."
"So it is. Stop, driver, stop!" We were still a hundred yards
or so from it, but he insisted upon our alighting, and we finished our
journey upon foot.
Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory look.
It was one of four which stood back some little way from the street,
two being occupied and two empty. The latter looked out with three
tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which were blank and dreary, save
that here and there a "To Let" card had developed like a cataract upon
the bleared panes. A small garden sprinkled over with a scattered
eruption of sickly plants separated each of these houses from the
street, and was traversed by a narrow pathway, yellowish in colour,
and consisting apparently of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The
whole place was very sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the
night. The garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a
fringe of wood rails upon the top, and against this wall was leaning a
stalwart police constable, surrounded by a small knot of loafers, who
craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope of
catching some glimpse of the proceedings within.
I had imagined that Sherlock Holmes would at once have hurried
into the house and plunged into a study of the mystery. Nothing
appeared to be further from his intention. With an air of nonchalance
which, under the circumstances, seemed to me to border upon
affectation, he lounged up and down the pavement, and gazed vacantly
at the ground, the sky, the opposite houses and the line of railings.
Having finished his scrutiny, he proceeded slowly down the path, or
rather down the fringe of grass which flanked the path, keeping his
eyes riveted upon the ground. Twice he stopped, and once I saw him
smile, and heard him utter an exclamation of satisfaction. There were
many marks of footsteps upon the wet clayey soil; but since the police
had been coming and going over it, I was unable to see how my
companion could hope to learn anything from it. Still I had had such
extraordinary evidence of the quickness of his perceptive faculties,
that I had no doubt that he could see a great deal which was hidden
from me.
At the door of the house we were met by a tall, white-faced,
flaxen-haired man, with a notebook in his hand, who rushed forward and
wrung my companion's hand with effusion. "It is indeed kind of you to
come," he said, "I have had everything left untouched."
"Except that!" my friend answered, pointing at the pathway. "If
a herd of buffaloes had passed along, there could not be a greater
mess. No doubt, however, you had drawn your own conclusions, Gregson,
before you permitted this."
"I have had so much to do inside the house," the detective said
evasively. "My colleague, Mr. Lestrade, is here. I had relied upon
him to look after this."
Holmes glanced at me and raised his eyebrows sardonically. "With
two such men as yourself and Lestrade upon the ground, there will not
be much for a third party to find out," he said.
Gregson rubbed his hands in a self-satisfied way. "I think we
have done all that can be done," he answered; "it's a queer case,
though, and I knew your taste for such things."
"You did not come here in a cab?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
"No, sir."
"Nor Lestrade?"
"No, sir."
"Then let us go and look at the room." With which inconsequent
remark he strode on into the house followed by Gregson, whose features
expressed his astonishment.
A short passage, bare-planked and dusty, led to the kitchen and
offices. Two doors opened out of it to the left and to the right.
One of these had obviously been closed for many weeks. The other
belonged to the dining-room, which was the apartment in which the
mysterious affair had occurred. Holmes walked in, and I followed him
with that subdued feeling at my heart which the presence of death
inspires.
It was a large square room, looking all the larger from the
absence of all furniture. A vulgar flaring paper adorned the walls,
but it was blotched in places with mildew, and here and there great
strips had become detached and hung down, exposing the yellow plaster
beneath. Opposite the door was a showy fireplace, surmounted by a
mantelpiece of imitation white marble. On one corner of this was
stuck the stump of a red wax candle. The solitary window was so dirty
that the light was hazy and uncertain, giving a dull gray tinge to
everything, which was intensified by the thick layer of dust which
coated the whole apartment.
All these details I observed afterwards. At present my attention
was centred upon the single, grim, motionless figure which lay
stretched upon the boards, with vacant, sightless eyes staring up at
the discoloured ceiling. It was that of a man about forty-three or
forty-four years of age, middle-sized, broad-shouldered, with crisp
curling black hair, and a short, stubbly beard. He was dressed in a
heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat, with light-coloured
trousers, and immaculate collar and cuffs. A top hat, well brushed
and trim, was placed upon the floor beside him. His hands were
clenched and his arms thrown abroad, while his lower limbs were
interlocked, as though his death struggle had been a grievous one. On
his rigid face there stood an expression of horror, and, as it seemed
to me, of hatred, such as I have never seen upon human features. This
malignant and terrible contortion, combined with the low forehead,
blunt nose, and prognathous jaw, gave the dead man a singularly
simious and ape-like appearance, which was increased by his writhing,
unnatural posture. I have seen death in many forms, but never has it
appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark, grimy
apartment, which looked out upon one of the main arteries of suburban
London.
Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was standing by the
doorway, and greeted my companion and myself.
"This case will make a stir, sir," he remarked. "It beats
anything I have seen, and I am no chicken."
"There is no clue?" said Gregson.
"None at all," chimed in Lestrade.
Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, kneeling down, examined
it intently. "You are sure that there is no wound?" he asked,
pointing to numerous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all round.
"Positive!" cried both detectives.
"Then, of course, this blood belongs to a second individual --
presumably the murderer, if murder has been committed. It reminds me
of the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht,
in the year '34. Do you remember the case, Gregson?"
"No, sir."
"Read it up -- you really should. There is nothing new under the
sun. It has all been done before."
As he spoke, his nimble fingers were flying here, there, and
everywhere, feeling, pressing, unbuttoning, examining, while his eyes
wore the same far-away expression which I have already remarked upon.
So swiftly was the examination made, that one would hardly have
guessed the minuteness with which it was conducted. Finally, he
sniffed the dead man's lips, and then glanced at the soles of his
patent leather boots.
"He has not been moved at all?" he asked.
"No more than was necessary for the purpose of our examination."
"You can take him to the mortuary now," he said. "There is
nothing more to be learned."
Gregson had a stretcher and four men at hand. At his call they
entered the room, and the stranger was lifted and carried out. As
they raised him, a ring tinkled down and rolled across the floor.
Lestrade grabbed it up and stared at it with mystified eyes.
"There's been a woman here," he cried. "It's a woman's wedding
ring."
He held it out, as he spoke, upon the palm of his hand. We all
gathered round him and gazed at it. There could be no doubt that that
circlet of plain gold had once adorned the finger of a bride.
"This complicates matters," said Gregson. "Heaven knows, they
were complicated enough before."
"You're sure it doesn't simplify them?" observed Holmes.
"There's nothing to be learned by staring at it. What did you find in
his pockets?"
"We have it all here," said Gregson, pointing to a litter of
objects upon one of the bottom steps of the stairs. "A gold watch,
No. 97163, by Barraud, of London. Gold Albert chain, very heavy and
solid. Gold ring, with masonic device. Gold pin -- bull-dog's head,
with rubies as eyes. Russian leather cardcase, with cards of Enoch J.
Drebber of Cleveland, corresponding with the E. J. D. upon the linen.
No purse, but loose money to the extent of seven pounds thirteen.
Pocket edition of Boccaccio's 'Decameron,' with name of Joseph
Stangerson upon the flyleaf. Two letters -- one addressed to E. J.
Drebber and one to Joseph Stangerson."
"At what address?"
"American Exchange, Strand -- to be left till called for. They
are both from the Guion Steamship Company, and refer to the sailing of
their boats from Liverpool. It is clear that this unfortunate man was
about to return to New York."
"Have you made any inquiries as to this man Stangerson?"
"I did it at once, sir," said Gregson. "I have had
advertisements sent to all the newspapers, and one of my men has gone
to the American Exchange, but he has not returned yet."
"Have you sent to Cleveland?"
"We telegraphed this morning."
"How did you word your inquiries?"
"We simply detailed the circumstances, and said that we should be
glad of any information which could help us."
"You did not ask for particulars on any point which appeared to
you to be crucial?"
"I asked about Stangerson."
"Nothing else? Is there no circumstance on which this whole case
appears to hinge? Will you not telegraph again?"
"I have said all I have to say," said Gregson, in an offended
voice.
Sherlock Holmes chuckled to himself, and appeared to be about to
make some remark, when Lestrade, who had been in the front room while
we were holding this conversation in the hall, reappeared upon the
scene, rubbing his hands in a pompous and self-satisfied manner.
"Mr. Gregson," he said, "I have just made a discovery of the
highest importance, and one which would have been overlooked had I not
made a careful examination of the walls."
The little man's eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was evidently
in a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point against
his colleague.
"Come here," he said, bustling back into the room, the atmosphere
of which felt clearer since the removal of its ghastly inmate. "Now,
stand there!"
He struck a match on his boot and held it up against the wall.
"Look at that!" he said, triumphantly.
I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In this
particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled off, leaving a
yellow square of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there was
scrawled in blood-red letters a single word --

RACHE

"What do you think of that?" cried the detective, with the air of
a showman exhibiting his show. "This was overlooked because it was in
the darkest corner of the room, and no one thought of looking there.
The murderer has written it with his or her own blood. See this smear
where it has trickled down the wall! That disposes of the idea of
suicide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write it on? I will
tell you. See that candle on the mantelpiece. It was lit at the
time, and if it was lit this corner would be the brightest instead of
the darkest portion of the wall."
"And what does it mean now that you have found it?" asked Gregson
in a depreciatory voice.
"Mean? Why, it means that the writer was going to put the female
name Rachel, but was disturbed before he or she had time to finish.
You mark my words, when this case comes to be cleared up, you will
find that a woman named Rachel has something to do with it. It's all
very well for you to laugh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. You may be very
smart and clever, but the old hound is the best, when all is said and
done."
"I really beg your pardon!" said my companion, who had ruffled
the little man's temper by bursting into an explosion of laughter.
"You certainly have the credit of being the first of us to find this
out and, as you say, it bears every mark of having been written by the
other participant in last night's mystery. I have not had time to
examine this room yet, but with your permission I shall do so now."
As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round
magnifying glass from his pocket. With these two implements he
trotted noiselessly about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally
kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So engrossed was he with
his occupation that he appeared to have forgotten our presence, for he
chattered away to himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up
a running fire of exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries
suggestive of encouragement and of hope. As I watched him I was
irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded, well-trained foxhound, as it
dashes backward and forward through the covert, whining in its
eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent. For twenty minutes
or more he continued his researches, measuring with the most exact
care the distance between marks which were entirely invisible to me,
and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in an equally
incomprehensible manner. In one place he gathered up very carefully a
little pile of gray dust from the floor, and packed it away in an
envelope. Finally he examined with his glass the word upon the wall,
going over every letter of it with the most minute exactness. This
done, he appeared to be satisfied, for he replaced his tape and his
glass in his pocket.
"They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,"
he remarked with a smile. "It's a very bad definition, but it does
apply to detective work."
Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manoeuvres of their amateur
companion with considerable curiosity and some contempt. They
evidently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had begun to realize,
that Sherlock Holmes's smallest actions were all directed towards some
definite and practical end.
"What do you think of it, sir?" they both asked.
"It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I were to
presume to help you," remarked my friend. "You are doing so well now
that it would be a pity for anyone to interfere." There was a world
of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. "If you will let me know how
your investigations go," he continued, "I shall be happy to give you
any help I can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the
constable who found the body. Can you give me his name and address?"
Lestrade glanced at his notebook. "John Rance," he said. "He is
off duty now. You will find him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park
Gate."
Holmes took a note of the address.
"Come along, Doctor," he said: "we shall go and look him up.
I'll tell you one thing which may help you in the case," he continued,
turning to the two detectives. "There has been murder done, and the
murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime
of life, had small feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots
and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with his victim in a
four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and
one new one on his off fore-leg. In all probability the murderer had
a florid face, and the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably
long. These are only a few indications, but they may assist you."
Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous
smile.
"If this man was murdered, how was it done?" asked the former.
"Poison," said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. "One
other thing, Lestrade," he added, turning round at the door: "'Rache,'
is the German for 'revenge'; so don't lose your time looking for Miss
Rachel."
With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals
open mouthed behind him.


Chapter 4

WHAT JOHN RANCE HAD TO TELL

It was one o'clock when we left No. 3, Lauriston Gardens.
Sherlock Holmes led me to the nearest telegraph office, whence he
dispatched a long telegram. He then hailed a cab, and ordered the
driver to take us to the address given us by Lestrade.
"There is nothing like first-hand evidence," he remarked; "as a
matter of fact, my mind is entirely made up upon the case, but still
we may as well learn all that is to be learned."
"You amaze me, Holmes," said I. "Surely you are not as sure as
you pretend to be of all those particulars which you gave."
"There's no room for a mistake," he answered. "The very first
thing which I observed on arriving there was that a cab had made two
ruts with its wheels close to the curb. Now, up to last night, we
have had no rain for a week, so that those wheels which left such a
deep impression must have been there during the night. There were the
marks of the horse's hoofs, too, the outline of one of which was far
more clearly cut than that of the other three, showing that that was a
new shoe. Since the cab was there after the rain began, and was not
there at any time during the morning -- I have Gregson's word for that
-- it follows that it must have been there during the night, and
therefore, that it brought those two individuals to the house."
"That seems simple enough," said I; "but how about the other
man's height?"
"Why, the height of a man, in nine cases out of ten, can be told
from the length of his stride. It is a simple calculation enough,
though there is no use my boring you with figures. I had this
fellow's stride both on the clay outside and on the dust within. Then
I had a way of checking my calculation. When a man writes on a wall,
his instinct leads him to write above the level of his own eyes. Now
that writing was just over six feet from the ground. It was child's
play."
"And his age?" I asked.
"Well, if a man can stride four and a half feet without the
smallest effort, he can't be quite in the sere and yellow. That was
the breadth of a puddle on the garden walk which he had evidently
walked across. Patent-leather boots had gone round, and Square-toes
had hopped over. There is no mystery about it at all. I am simply
applying to ordinary life a few of those precepts of observation and
deduction which I advocated in that article. Is there anything else
that puzzles you?"
"The finger-nails and the Trichinopoly," I suggested.
"The writing on the wall was done with a man's forefinger dipped
in blood. My glass allowed me to observe that the plaster was
slightly scratched in doing it, which would not have been the case if
the man's nail had been trimmed. I gathered up some scattered ash
from the floor. It was dark in colour and flaky -- such an ash is
only made by a Trichinopoly. I have made a special study of cigar
ashes -- in fact, I have written a monograph upon the subject. I
flatter myself that I can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known
brand either of cigar or of tobacco. It is just in such details that
the skilled detective differs from the Gregson and Lestrade type."
"And the florid face?" I asked.
"Ah, that was a more daring shot, though I have no doubt that I
was right. You must not ask me that at the present state of the
affair."
I passed my hand over my brow. "My head is in a whirl," I
remarked; "the more one thinks of it the more mysterious it grows.
How came these two men -- if there were two men -- into an empty
house? What has become of the cabman who drove them? How could one
man compel another to take poison? Where did the blood come from?
What was the object of the murderer, since robbery had no part in it?
How came the woman's ring there? Above all, why should the second man
write up the German word RACHE before decamping? I confess that I
cannot see any possible way of reconciling all these facts."
My companion smiled approvingly.
"You sum up the difficulties of the situation succinctly and
well," he said. "There is much that is still obscure, though I have
quite made up my mind on the main facts. As to poor Lestrade's
discovery, it was simply a blind intended to put the police upon a
wrong track, by suggesting Socialism and secret societies. It was not
done by a German. The A, if you noticed, was printed somewhat after
the German fashion. Now, a real German invariably prints in the Latin
character, so that we may safely say that this was not written by one,
but by a clumsy imitator who overdid his part. It was simply a ruse
to divert inquiry into a wrong channel. I'm not going to tell you
much more of the case, Doctor. You know a conjurer gets no credit
when once he has explained his trick; and if I show you too much of my
method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very
ordinary individual after all."
"I shall never do that," I answered; "you have brought detection
as near an exact science as it ever will be brought in this world."
My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the
earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he
was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could
be of her beauty.
"I'll tell you one other thing," he said. "Patent-leathers and
Square-toes came in the same cab, and they walked down the pathway
together as friendly as possible -- arm-in-arm, in all probability.
When they got inside, they walked up and down the room -- or rather,
Patent-leathers stood still while Square-toes walked up and down. I
could read all that in the dust; and I could read that as he walked he
grew more and more excited. That is shown by the increased length of
his strides. He was talking all the while, and working himself up, no
doubt, into a fury. Then the tragedy occurred. I've told you all I
know myself now, for the rest is mere surmise and conjecture. We have
a good working basis, however, on which to start. We must hurry up,
for I want to go to Halle's concert to hear Norman Neruda this
afternoon."
This conversation had occurred while our cab had been threading
its way through a long succession of dingy streets and dreary byways.
In the dingiest and dreariest of them our driver suddenly came to a
stand. "That's Audley Court in there," he said, pointing to a narrow
slit in the line of dead-coloured brick. "You'll find me here when
you come back."
Audley Court was not an attractive locality. The narrow passage
led us into a quadrangle paved with flags and lined by sordid
dwellings. We picked our way among groups of dirty children, and
through lines of discoloured linen, until we came to Number 46, the
door of which was decorated with a small slip of brass on which the
name Rance was engraved. On inquiry we found that the constable was
in bed, and we were shown into a little front parlour to await his
coming.
He appeared presently, looking a little irritable at being
disturbed in his slumbers. "I made my report at the office," he
said.
Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with it
pensively. "We thought that we should like to hear it all from your
own lips," he said.
"I shall be most happy to tell you anything I can," the constable
answered, with his eyes upon the little golden disc.
"Just let us hear it all in your own way as it occurred."
Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa, and knitted his brows, as
though determined not to omit anything in his narrative.
"I'll tell it ye from the beginning," he said. "My time is from
ten at night to six in the morning. At eleven there was a fight at
the White Hart; but bar that all was quiet enough on the beat. At one
o'clock it began to rain, and I met Harry Murcher -- him who has the
Holland Grove beat -- and we stood together at the corner of Henrietta
Street a-talkin'. Presently -- maybe about two or a little after -- I
thought I would take a look round and see that all was right down the
Brixton Road. It was precious dirty and lonely. Not a soul did I
meet all the way down, though a cab or two went past me. I was
a-strollin' down, thinkin' between ourselves how uncommon handy a four
of gin hot would be, when suddenly the glint of a light caught my eye
in the window of that same house. Now, I knew that them two houses in
Lauriston Gardens was empty on account of him that owns them who won't
have the drains seed to, though the very last tenant what lived in one
of them died o' typhoid fever. I was knocked all in a heap,
therefore, at seeing a light in the window, and I suspected as
something was wrong. When I got to the door --"
"You stopped, and then walked back to the garden gate," my
companion interrupted. "What did you do that for?"
Rance gave a violent jump, and stared at Sherlock Holmes with the
utmost amazement upon his features.
"Why, that's true, sir," he said; "though how you come to know
it, Heaven only knows. Ye see when I got up to the door, it was so
still and so lonesome, that I thought I'd be none the worse for
someone with me. I ain't afeared of anything on this side o' the
grave; but I thought that maybe it was him that died o' the typhoid
inspecting the drains what killed him. The thought gave me a kind o'
turn, and I walked back to the gate to see if I could see Murcher's
lantern, but there wasn't no sign of him nor of anyone else."
"There was no one in the street?"
"Not a livin' soul, sir, nor as much as a dog. Then I pulled
myself together and went back and pushed the door open. All was quiet
inside, so I went into the room where the light was a-burnin'. There
was a candle flickerin' on the mantelpiece -- a red wax one -- and by
its light I saw --"
"Yes, I know all that you saw. You walked round the room several
times, and you knelt down by the body, and then you walked through and
tried the kitchen door, and then --"
John Rance sprang to his feet with a frightened face and
suspicion in his eyes. "Where was you hid to see all that?" he cried.
"It seems to me that you knows a deal more than you should."
Holmes laughed and threw his card across the table to the
constable. "Don't go arresting me for the murder," he said. "I am
one of the hounds and not the wolf; Mr. Gregson or Mr. Lestrade will
answer for that. Go on, though. What did you do next?"
Rance resumed his seat, without, however, losing his mystified
expression. "I went back to the gate and sounded my whistle. That
brought Murcher and two more to the spot."
"Was the street empty then?"
"Well, it was, as far as anybody that could be of any good
goes."
"What do you mean?"
The constable's features broadened into a grin. "I've seen many
a drunk chap in my time," he said, "but never anyone so cryin' drunk
as that cove. He was at the gate when I came out, a-leanin' up ag'in
the railings, and a-singin' at the pitch o' his lungs about
Columbine's New-fangled Banner, or some such stuff. He couldn't
stand, far less help."
"What sort of a man was he?" asked Sherlock Holmes.
John Rance appeared to be somewhat irritated at this digression.
"He was an uncommon drunk sort o' man," he said. "He'd ha' found
hisself in the station if we hadn't been so took up."
"His face -- his dress -- didn't you notice them?" Holmes broke
in impatiently.
"I should think I did notice them, seeing that I had to prop him
up -- me and Murcher between us. He was a long chap, with a red face,
the lower part muffled round --"
"That will do," cried Holmes. "What became of him?"
"We'd enough to do without lookin' after him," the policeman
said, in an aggrieved voice. "I'll wager he found his way home all
right."
"How was he dressed?"
"A brown overcoat."
"Had he a whip in his hand?"
"A whip -- no."
"He must have left it behind," muttered my companion. "You
didn't happen to see or hear a cab after that?"
"No."
"There's a half-sovereign for you," my companion said, standing
up and taking his hat. "I am afraid, Rance, that you will never rise
in the force. That head of yours should be for use as well as
ornament. You might have gained your sergeant's stripes last night.
The man whom you held in your hands is the man who holds the clue of
this mystery, and whom we are seeking. There is no use of arguing
about it now; I tell you that it is so. Come along, Doctor."
We started off for the cab together, leaving our informant
incredulous, but obviously uncomfortable.
"The blundering fool!" Holmes said, bitterly, as we drove back to
our lodgings. "Just to think of his having such an incomparable bit
of good luck, and not taking advantage of it."
"I am rather in the dark still. It is true that the description
of this man tallies with your idea of the second party in this
mystery. But why should he come back to the house after leaving it?
That is not the way of criminals."
"The ring, man, the ring: that was what he came back for. If we
have no other way of catching him, we can always bait our line with
the ring. I shall have him, Doctor -- I'll lay you two to one that I
have him. I must thank you for it all. I might not have gone but for
you, and so have missed the finest study I ever came across: a study
in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn't we use a little art jargon. There's
the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of
life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every
inch of it. And now for lunch, and then for Norman Neruda. Her
attack and her bowing are splendid. What's that little thing of
Chopin's she plays so magnificently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay."
Leaning back in the cab, this amateur bloodhound carolled away
like a lark while I meditated upon the many-sidedness of the human
mind.


Chapter 5

OUR ADVERTISEMENT BRINGS A VISITOR

Our morning's exertions had been too much for my weak health, and
I was tired out in the afternoon. After Holmes's departure for the
concert, I lay down upon the sofa and endeavoured to get a couple of
hours' sleep. It was a useless attempt. My mind had been too much
excited by all that had occurred, and the strangest fancies and
surmises crowded into it. Every time that I closed my eyes I saw
before me the distorted, baboon-like countenance of the murdered man.
So sinister was the impression which that face had produced upon me
that I found it difficult to feel anything but gratitude for him who
had removed its owner from the world. If ever human features bespoke
vice of the most malignant type, they were certainly those of Enoch J.
Drebber, of Cleveland. Still I recognized that justice must be done,
and that the depravity of the victim was no condonement in the eyes of
the law.
The more I thought of it the more extraordinary did my
companion's hypothesis, that the man had been poisoned, appear. I
remembered how he had sniffed his lips, and had no doubt that he had
detected something which had given rise to the idea. Then, again, if
not poison, what had caused this man's death, since there was neither
wound nor marks of strangulation? But, on the other hand, whose blood
was that which lay so thickly upon the floor? There were no signs of
a struggle, nor had the victim any weapon with which he might have
wounded an antagonist. As long as all these questions were unsolved,
I felt that sleep would be no easy matter, either for Holmes or
myself. His quiet, self-confident manner convinced me that he had
already formed a theory which explained all the facts, though what it
was I could not for an instant conjecture.
He was very late in returning -- so late that I knew that the
concert could not have detained him all the time. Dinner was on the
table before he appeared.
"It was magnificent," he said, as he took his seat. "Do you
remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of
producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before
the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so
subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of
those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood."
"That's rather a broad idea," I remarked.
"One's ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret
Nature," he answered. "What's the matter? You're not looking quite
yourself. This Brixton Road affair has upset you."
"To tell the truth, it has," I said. "I ought to be more
case-hardened after my Afghan experiences. I saw my own comrades
hacked to pieces at Maiwand without losing my nerve."
"I can understand. There is a mystery about this which
stimulates the imagination; where there is no imagination there is no
horror. Have you seen the evening paper?"
"No."
"It gives a fairly good account of the affair. It does not
mention the fact that when the man was raised up a woman's wedding
ring fell upon the floor. It is just as well it does not."
"Why?"
"Look at this advertisement," he answered. "I had one sent to
every paper this morning immediately after the affair."
He threw the paper across to me and I glanced at the place
indicated. It was the first announcement in the "Found" column. "In
Brixton Road, this morning," it ran, "a plain gold wedding ring, found
in the roadway between the White Hart Tavern and Holland Grove. Apply
Dr. Watson, 221B, Baker Street, between eight and nine this evening."
"Excuse my using your name," he said. "If I used my own, some of
these dunderheads would recognize it, and want to meddle in the
affair."
"That is all right," I answered. "But supposing anyone applies,
I have no ring."
"Oh, yes, you have," said he, handing me one. "This will do very
well. It is almost a facsimile."
"And who do you expect will answer this advertisement?"
"Why, the man in the brown coat -- our florid friend with the
square toes. If he does not come himself, he will send an
accomplice."
"Would he not consider it as too dangerous?"
"Not at all. If my view of the case is correct, and I have every
reason to believe that it is, this man would rather risk anything than
lose the ring. According to my notion he dropped it while stooping
over Drebber's body, and did not miss it at the time. After leaving
the house he discovered his loss and hurried back, but found the
police already in possession, owing to his own folly in leaving the
candle burning. He had to pretend to be drunk in order to allay the
suspicions which might have been aroused by his appearance at the
gate. Now put yourself in that man's place. On thinking the matter
over, it must have occurred to him that it was possible that he had
lost the ring in the road after leaving the house. What would he do
then? He would eagerly look out for the evening papers in the hope of
seeing it among the articles found. His eye, of course, would light
upon this. He would be overjoyed. Why should he fear a trap? There
would be no reason in his eyes why the finding of the ring should be
connected with the murder. He would come. He will come. You shall
see him within an hour."
"And then?" I asked.
"Oh, you can leave me to deal with him then. Have you any
arms?"
"I have my old service revolver and a few cartridges."
"You had better clean it and load it. He will be a desperate
man; and though I shall take him unawares, it is as well to be ready
for anything."
I went to my bedroom and followed his advice. When I returned
with the pistol, the table had been cleared, and Holmes was engaged in
his favourite occupation of scraping upon his violin.
"The plot thickens," he said, as I entered; "I have just had an
answer to my American telegram. My view of the case is the correct
one."
"And that is --?" I asked eagerly.
"My fiddle would be the better for new strings," he remarked.
"Put your pistol in your pocket. When the fellow comes, speak to him
in an ordinary way. Leave the rest to me. Don't frighten him by
looking at him too hard."
"It is eight o'clock now," I said, glancing at my watch.
"Yes. He will probably be here in a few minutes. Open the door
slightly. That will do. Now put the key on the inside. Thank you!
This is a queer old book I picked up at a stall yesterday -- De Jure
inter Gentes -- published in Latin at Liege in the Lowlands, in 1642.
Charles's head was still firm on his shoulders when this little
brown-backed volume was struck off."
"Who is the printer?"
"Philippe de Croy, whoever he may have been. On the flyleaf, in
very faded ink, is written 'Ex libris Guliolmi Whyte.' I wonder who
William Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth-century lawyer, I
suppose. His writing has a legal twist about it. Here comes our man,
I think."
As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell. Sherlock Holmes
rose softly and moved his chair in the direction of the door. We
heard the servant pass along the hall, and the sharp click of the
latch as she opened it.
"Does Dr. Watson live here?" asked a clear but rather harsh
voice. We could not hear the servant's reply, but the door closed,
and someone began to ascend the stairs. The footfall was an uncertain
and shuffling one. A look of surprise passed over the face of my
companion as he listened to it. It came slowly along the passage, and
there was a feeble tap at the door.
"Come in," I cried.
At my summons, instead of the man of violence whom we expected, a
very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared
to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and after dropping a
curtsey, she stood blinking at us with her bleared eyes and fumbling
in her pocket with nervous, shaky fingers. I glanced at my companion,
and his face had assumed such a disconsolate expression that it was
all I could do to keep my countenance.
The old crone drew out an evening paper, and pointed at our
advertisement. "It's this as has brought me, good gentlemen," she
said, dropping another curtsey; "a gold wedding ring in the Brixton
Road. It belongs to my girl Sally, as was married only this time
twelvemonth, which her husband is steward aboard a Union boat, and
what he'd say if he comes 'ome and found her without her ring is more
than I can think, he being short enough at the best o' times, but more
especially when he has the drink. If it please you, she went to the
circus last night along with --"
"Is that her ring?" I asked.
"The Lord be thanked!" cried the old woman; "Sally will be a glad
woman this night. That's the ring."
"And what may your address be?" I inquired, taking up a pencil.
"13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch. A weary way from here."
"The Brixton Road does not lie between any circus and
Houndsditch," said Sherlock Holmes sharply.
The old woman faced round and looked keenly at him from her
little red-rimmed eyes. "The gentleman asked me for my address," she
said. "Sally lives in lodgings at 3, Mayfield Place, Peckham."
"And your name is --?"
"My name is Sawyer -- hers is Dennis, which Tom Dennis married
her -- and a smart, clean lad, too, as long as he's at sea, and no
steward in the company more thought of; but when on shore, what with
the women and what with liquor shops --"
"Here is your ring, Mrs. Sawyer," I interrupted, in obedience to
a sign from my companion; "it clearly belongs to your daughter, and I
am glad to be able to restore it to the rightful owner."
With many mumbled blessings and protestations of gratitude the
old crone packed it away in her pocket, and shuffled off down the
stairs. Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet the moment that she was
gone and rushed into his room. He returned in a few seconds enveloped
in an ulster and a cravat. "I'll follow her," he said, hurriedly;
"she must be an accomplice, and will lead me to him. Wait up for me."
The hall door had hardly slammed behind our visitor before Holmes had
descended the stair. Looking through the window I could see her
walking feebly along the other side, while her pursuer dogged her some
little distance behind. "Either his whole theory is incorrect," I
thought to myself, "or else he will be led now to the heart of the
mystery." There was no need for him to ask me to wait up for him, for
I felt that sleep was impossible until I heard the result of his
adventure.
It was close upon nine when he set out. I had no idea how long
he might be, but I sat stolidly puffing at my pipe and skipping over
the pages of Henri Murger's Vie de Boheme. Ten o'clock passed, and I
heard the footsteps of the maid as she pattered off to bed. Eleven,
and the more stately tread of the landlady passed my door, bound for
the same destination. It was close upon twelve before I heard the
sharp sound of his latchkey. The instant he entered I saw by his face
that he had not been successful. Amusement and chagrin seemed to be
struggling for the mastery, until the former suddenly carried the day,
and he burst into a hearty laugh.
"I wouldn't have the Scotland Yarders know it for the world," he
cried, dropping into his chair; "I have chaffed them so much that they
would never have let me hear the end of it. I can afford to laugh,
because I know that I will be even with them in the long run."
"What is it then?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't mind telling a story against myself. That creature
had gone a little way when she began to limp and show every sign of
being footsore. Presently she came to a halt, and hailed a
four-wheeler which was passing. I managed to be close to her so as to
hear the address, but I need not have been so anxious, for she sang it
out loud enough to be heard at the other side of the street, 'Drive to
13, Duncan Street, Houndsditch,' she cried. This begins to look
genuine, I thought, and having seen her safely inside, I perched
myself behind. That's an art which every detective should be an
expert at. Well, away we rattled, and never drew rein until we
reached the street in question. I hopped off before we came to the
door, and strolled down the street in an easy, lounging way. I saw
the cab pull up. The driver jumped down, and I saw him open the door
and stand expectantly. Nothing came out though. When I reached him,
he was groping about frantically in the empty cab, and giving vent to
the finest assorted collection of oaths that ever I listened to.
There was no sign or trace of his passenger, and I fear it will be
some time before he gets his fare. On inquiring at Number 13 we found
that the house belonged to a respectable paperhanger, named Keswick,
and that no one of the name either of Sawyer or Dennis had ever been
heard of there."
"You don't mean to say," I cried, in amazement, "that that
tottering, feeble old woman was able to get out of the cab while it
was in motion, without either you or the driver seeing her?"
"Old woman be damned!" said Sherlock Holmes, sharply. "We were
the old women to be so taken in. It must have been a young man, and
an active one, too, besides being an incomparable actor. The get-up
was inimitable. He saw that he was followed, no doubt, and used this
means of giving me the slip. It shows that the man we are after is
not as lonely as I imagined he was, but has friends who are ready to
risk something for him. Now, Doctor, you are looking done-up. Take
my advice and turn in."
I was certainly feeling very weary, so I obeyed his injunction.
I left Holmes seated in front of the smouldering fire, and long into
the watches of the night I heard the low melancholy wailings of his
violin, and knew that he was still pondering over the strange problem
which he had set himself to unravel.


Chapter 6

TOBIAS GREGSON SHOWS WHAT HE CAN DO

The papers next day were full of the "Brixton Mystery," as they
termed it. Each had a long account of the affair, and some had
leaders upon it in addition. There was some information in them which
was new to me. I still retain in my scrapbook numerous clippings and
extracts bearing upon the case. Here is a condensation of a few of
them:
The Daily Telegraph remarked that in the history of crime there
had seldom been a tragedy which presented stranger features. The
German name of the victim, the absence of all other motive, and the
sinister inscription on the wall, all pointed to its perpetration by
political refugees and revolutionists. The Socialists had many
branches in America, and the deceased had, no doubt, infringed their
unwritten laws, and been tracked down by them. After alluding airily
to the Vehmgericht, aqua tofana, Carbonari, the Marchioness de
Brinvilliers, the Darwinian theory, the principles of Malthus, and the
Ratcliff Highway murders, the article concluded by admonishing the
government and advocating a closer watch over foreigners in England.
The Standard commented upon the fact that lawless outrages of the
sort usually occurred under a Liberal administration. They arose from
the unsettling of the minds of the masses, and the consequent
weakening of all authority. The deceased was an American gentleman
who had been residing for some weeks in the metropolis. He had stayed
at the boarding-house of Madame Charpentier, in Torquay Terrace,
Camberwell. He was accompanied in his travels by his private
secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The two bade adieu to their
landlady upon Tuesday, the 4th inst., and departed to Euston Station
with the avowed intention of catching the Liverpool express. They
were afterwards seen together upon the platform. Nothing more is
known of them until Mr. Drebber's body was, as recorded, discovered in
an empty house in the Brixton Road, many miles from Euston. How he
came there, or how he met his fate, are questions which are still
involved in mystery. Nothing is known of the whereabouts of
Stangerson. We are glad to learn that Mr. Lestrade and Mr. Gregson,
of Scotland Yard, are both engaged upon the case, and it is
confidently anticipated that these well-known officers will speedily
throw light upon the matter.
The Daily News observed that there was no doubt as to the crime
being a political one. The despotism and hatred of Liberalism which
animated the Continental governments had had the effect of driving to
our shores a number of men who might have made excellent citizens were
they not soured by the recollection of all that they had undergone.
Among these men there was a stringent code of honour, any infringement
of which was punished by death. Every effort should be made to find
the secretary, Stangerson, and to ascertain some particulars of the
habits of the deceased. A great step had been gained by the discovery
of the address of the house at which he had boarded -- a result which
was entirely due to the acuteness and energy of Mr. Gregson of
Scotland Yard.
Sherlock Holmes and I read these notices over together at
breakfast, and they appeared to afford him considerable amusement.
"I told you that, whatever happened, Lestrade and Gregson would
be sure to score."
"That depends on how it turns out."
"Oh, bless you, it doesn't matter in the least. If the man is
caught, it will be on account of their exertions; if he escapes, it
will be in spite of their exertions. It's heads I win and tails you
lose. Whatever they do, they will have followers. 'Un sot trouve
toujours un plus sot qui l'admire.'"
"What on earth is this?" I cried, for at this moment there came
the pattering of many steps in the hall and on the stairs, accompanied
by audible expressions of disgust upon the part of our landlady.
"It's the Baker Street division of the detective police force,"
said my companion gravely; and as he spoke there rushed into the room
half a dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs that ever I
clapped eyes on.
"'Tention!" cried Holmes, in a sharp tone, and the six dirty
little scoundrels stood in a line like so many disreputable
statuettes. "In future you shall send up Wiggins alone to report, and
the rest of you must wait in the street. Have you found it,
Wiggins?"
"No, sir, we hain't," said one of the youths.
"I hardly expected you would. You must keep on until you do.
Here are your wages." He handed each of them a shilling. "Now, off
you go, and come back with a better report next time."
He waved his hand, and they scampered away downstairs like so
many rats, and we heard their shrill voices next moment in the
street.
"There's more work to be got out of one of those little beggars
than out of a dozen of the force," Holmes remarked. "The mere sight
of an official-looking person seals men's lips. These youngsters,
however, go everywhere and hear everything. They are as sharp as
needles, too; all they want is organization."
"Is it on this Brixton case that you are employing them?" I
asked.
"Yes; there is a point which I wish to ascertain. It is merely a
matter of time. Hullo! we are going to hear some news now with a
vengeance! Here is Gregson coming down the road with beatitude
written upon every feature of his face. Bound for us, I know. Yes,
he is stopping. There he is!"
There was a violent peal at the bell, and in a few seconds the
fair-haired detective came up the stairs, three steps at a time, and
burst into our sitting-room.
"My dear fellow," he cried, wringing Holmes's unresponsive hand,
"congratulate me! I have made the whole thing as clear as day."
A shade of anxiety seemed to me to cross my companion's
expressive face.
"Do you mean that you are on the right track?" he asked.
"The right track! Why, sir, we have the man under lock and
key."
"And his name is?"
"Arthur Charpentier, sub-lieutenant in Her Majesty's navy," cried
Gregson pompously rubbing his fat hands and inflating his chest.
Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief and relaxed into a smile.
"Take a seat, and try one of these cigars," he said. "We are
anxious to know how you managed it. Will you have some whisky and
water?"
"I don't mind if I do," the detective answered. "The tremendous
exertions which I have gone through during the last day or two have
worn me out. Not so much bodily exertion, you understand, as the
strain upon the mind. You will appreciate that, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
for we are both brain-workers."
"You do me too much honour," said Holmes, gravely. "Let us hear
how you arrived at this most gratifying result."
The detective seated himself in the armchair, and puffed
complacently at his cigar. Then suddenly he slapped his thigh in a
paroxysm of amusement.
"The fun of it is," he cried, "that that fool Lestrade, who
thinks himself so smart, has gone off upon the wrong track altogether.
He is after the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do with the
crime than the babe unborn. I have no doubt that he has caught him by
this time."
The idea tickled Gregson so much that he laughed until he
choked.
"And how did you get your clue?"
"Ah, I'll tell you all about it. Of course, Dr. Watson, this is
strictly between ourselves. The first difficulty which we had to
contend with was the finding of this American's antecedents. Some
people would have waited until their advertisements were answered, or
until parties came forward and volunteered information. That is not
Tobias Gregson's way of going to work. You remember the hat beside
the dead man?"
"Yes," said Holmes; "by John Underwood and Sons, 129, Camberwell
Road."
Gregson looked quite crestfallen.
"I had no idea that you noticed that," he said. "Have you been
there?"
"No."
"Ha!" cried Gregson, in a relieved voice; "you should never
neglect a chance, however small it may seem."
"To a great mind, nothing is little," remarked Holmes,
sententiously.
"Well, I went to Underwood, and asked him if he had sold a hat of
that size and description. He looked over his books, and came on it
at once. He had sent the hat to a Mr. Drebber, residing at
Charpentier's Boarding Establishment, Torquay Terrace. Thus I got at
his address."
"Smart -- very smart!" murmured Sherlock Holmes.
"I next called upon Madame Charpentier," continued the detective.
"I found her very pale and distressed. Her daughter was in the room,
too -- an uncommonly fine girl she is, too; she was looking red about
the eyes and her lips trembled as I spoke to her. That didn't escape
my notice. I began to smell a rat. You know the feeling, Mr.
Sherlock Holmes, when you come upon the right scent -- a kind of
thrill in your nerves. 'Have you heard of the mysterious death of
your late boarder Mr. Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland?' I asked.
"The mother nodded. She didn't seem able to get out a word. The
daughter burst into tears. I felt more than ever that these people
knew something of the matter.
"'At what o'clock did Mr. Drebber leave your house for the
train?' I asked.
"'At eight o'clock,' she said, gulping in her throat to keep down
her agitation. 'His secretary, Mr. Stangerson, said that there were
two trains -- one at 9:15 and one at 11. He was to catch the first.'
"'And was that the last which you saw of him?'
"A terrible change came over the woman's face as I asked the
question. Her features turned perfectly livid. It was some seconds
before she could get out the single word 'Yes' -- and when it did come
it was in a husky, unnatural tone.
"There was silence for a moment, and then the daughter spoke in a
calm, clear voice.
"'No good can ever come of falsehood, mother,' she said. 'Let us
be frank with this gentleman. We did see Mr. Drebber again.'
"'God forgive you!' cried Madame Charpentier, throwing up her
hands and sinking back in her chair. 'You have murdered your
brother.'
"'Arthur would rather that we spoke the truth,' the girl answered
firmly.
"'You had best tell me all about it now,' I said.
'Half-confidences are worse than none. Besides, you do not know how
much we know of it.'
"'On your head be it, Alice!' cried her mother; and then, turning
to me, 'I will tell you all, sir. Do not imagine that my agitation on
behalf of my son arises from any fear lest he should have had a hand
in this terrible affair. He is utterly innocent of it. My dread is,
however, that in your eyes and in the eyes of others he may appear to
be compromised. That, however, is surely impossible. His high
character, his profession, his antecedents would all forbid it.'
"'Your best way is to make a clean breast of the facts,' I
answered. 'Depend upon it, if your son is innocent he will be none
the worse.'
"'Perhaps, Alice, you had better leave us together,' she said,
and her daughter withdrew. 'Now, sir,' she continued, 'I had no
intention of telling you all this, but since my poor daughter has
disclosed it I have no alternative. Having once decided to speak, I
will tell you all without omitting any particular.'
"'It is your wisest course,' said I.
"'Mr. Drebber has been with us nearly three weeks. He and his
secretary, Mr. Stangerson, had been travelling on the Continent. I
noticed a Copenhagen label upon each of their trunks, showing that
that had been their last stopping place. Stangerson was a quiet,
reserved man, but his employer, I am sorry to say, was far otherwise.
He was coarse in his habits and brutish in his ways. The very night
of his arrival he became very much the worse for drink, and, indeed,
after twelve o'clock in the day he could hardly ever be said to be
sober. His manners towards the maid-servants were disgustingly free
and familiar. Worst of all, he speedily assumed the same attitude
towards my daughter, Alice, and spoke to her more than once in a way
which, fortunately, she is too innocent to understand. On one
occasion he actually seized her in his arms and embraced her -- an
outrage which caused his own secretary to reproach him for his unmanly
conduct.'
"'But why did you stand all this?' I asked. 'I suppose that you
can get rid of your boarders when you wish.'
"Mrs. Charpentier blushed at my pertinent question. 'Would to
God that I had given him notice on the very day that he came,' she
said. 'But it was a sore temptation. They were paying a pound a day
each -- fourteen pounds a week, and this is the slack season. I am a
widow, and my boy in the Navy has cost me much. I grudged to lose the
money. I acted for the best. This last was too much, however, and I
gave him notice to leave on account of it. That was the reason of his
going.'
"'Well?'
"'My heart grew light when I saw him drive away. My son is on
leave just now, but I did not tell him anything of all this, for his
temper is violent, and he is passionately fond of his sister. When I
closed the door behind them a load seemed to be lifted from my mind.
Alas, in less than an hour there was a ring at the bell, and I learned
that Mr. Drebber had returned. He was much excited, and evidently the
worse for drink. He forced his way into the room, where I was sitting
with my daughter, and made some incoherent remark about having missed
his train. He then turned to Alice, and before my very face, proposed
to her that she should fly with him. "You are of age," he said, "and
there is no law to stop you. I have money enough and to spare. Never
mind the old girl here, but come along with me now straight away. You
shall live like a princess." Poor Alice was so frightened that she
shrunk away from him, but he caught her by the wrist and endeavoured
to draw her towards the door. I screamed, and at that moment my son
Arthur came into the room. What happened then I do not know. I heard
oaths and the confused sounds of a scuffle. I was too terrified to
raise my head. When I did look up I saw Arthur standing in the
doorway laughing, with a stick in his hand. "I don't think that fine
fellow will trouble us again," he said. "I will just go after him and
see what he does with himself." With those words he took his hat and
started off down the street. The next morning we heard of Mr.
Drebber's mysterious death.'
"This statement came from Mrs. Charpentier's lips with many gasps
and pauses. At times she spoke so low that I could hardly catch the
words. I made shorthand notes of all that she said, however, so that
there should be no possibility of a mistake."
"It's quite exciting," said Sherlock Holmes, with a yawn. "What
happened next?"
"When Mrs. Charpentier paused," the detective continued, "I saw
that the whole case hung upon one point. Fixing her with my eye in a
way which I always found effective with women, I asked her at what
hour her son returned.
"'I do not know,' she answered.
"'Not know?'
"'No; he has a latchkey, and he let himself in.'
"'After you went to bed?'
"'Yes.'
"'When did you go to bed?'
"'About eleven.'
"'So your son was gone at least two hours?'
"'Yes.'
"'Possibly four or five?'
"'Yes.'
"'What was he doing during that time?'
"'I do not know,' she answered, turning white to her very lips.
"Of course after that there was nothing more to be done. I found
out where Lieutenant Charpentier was, took two officers with me, and
arrested him. When I touched him on the shoulder and warned him to
come quietly with us, he answered us as bold as brass, 'I suppose you
are arresting me for being concerned in the death of that scoundrel
Drebber,' he said. We had said nothing to him about it, so that his
alluding to it had a most suspicious aspect."
"Very," said Holmes.
"He still carried the heavy stick which the mother described him
as having with him when he followed Drebber. It was a stout oak
cudgel."
"What is your theory, then?"
"Well, my theory is that he followed Drebber as far as the
Brixton Road. When there, a fresh altercation arose between them, in
the course of which Drebber received a blow from the stick, in the pit
of the stomach perhaps, which killed him without leaving any mark.
The night was so wet that no one was about, so Charpentier dragged the
body of his victim into the empty house. As to the candle, and the
blood, and the writing on the wall, and the ring, they may all be so
many tricks to throw the police on to the wrong scent."
"Well done!" said Holmes in an encouraging voice. "Really,
Gregson, you are getting along. We shall make something of you yet."
"I flatter myself that I have managed it rather neatly," the
detective answered, proudly. "The young man volunteered a statement,
in which he said that after following Drebber some time, the latter
perceived him, and took a cab in order to get away from him. On his
way home he met an old shipmate, and took a long walk with him. On
being asked where this old shipmate lived, he was unable to give any
satisfactory reply. I think the whole case fits together uncommonly
well. What amuses me is to think of Lestrade, who had started off
upon the wrong scent. I am afraid he won't make much of it. Why, by
Jove, here's the very man himself!"
It was indeed Lestrade, who had ascended the stairs while we were
talking, and who now entered the room. The assurance and jauntiness
which generally marked his demeanour and dress were, however, wanting.
His face was disturbed and troubled, while his clothes were
disarranged and untidy. He had evidently come with the intention of
consulting with Sherlock Holmes, for on perceiving his colleague he
appeared to be embarrassed and put out. He stood in the centre of the
room, fumbling nervously with his hat and uncertain what to do. "This
is a most extraordinary case," he said at last -- "a most
incomprehensible affair."
"Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!" cried Gregson, triumphantly.
"I thought you would come to that conclusion. Have you managed to
find the secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?"
"The secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson," said Lestrade, gravely,
"was murdered at Halliday's Private Hotel about six o'clock this
morning."


Chapter 7

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

The intelligence with which Lestrade greeted us was so momentous
and so unexpected that we were all three fairly dumfounded. Gregson
sprang out of his chair and upset the remainder of his whisky and
water. I stared in silence at Sherlock Holmes, whose lips were
compressed and his brows drawn down over his eyes.
"Stangerson too!" he muttered. "The plot thickens."
"It was quite thick enough before," grumbled Lestrade, taking a
chair. "I seem to have dropped into a sort of council of war."
"Are you -- are you sure of this piece of intelligence?"
stammered Gregson.
"I have just come from his room," said Lestrade. "I was the
first to discover what had occurred."
"We have been hearing Gregson's view of the matter," Holmes
observed. "Would you mind letting us know what you have seen and
done?"
"I have no objection," Lestrade answered, seating himself. "I
freely confess that I was of the opinion that Stangerson was concerned
in the death of Drebber. This fresh development has shown me that I
was completely mistaken. Full of the one idea, I set myself to find
out what had become of the secretary. They had been seen together at
Euston Station about half-past eight on the evening of the 3rd. At
two in the morning Drebber had been found in the Brixton Road. The
question which confronted me was to find out how Stangerson had been
employed between 8:30 and the time of the crime, and what had become
of him afterwards. I telegraphed to Liverpool, giving a description
of the man, and warning them to keep a watch upon the American boats.
I then set to work calling upon all the hotels and lodging-houses in
the vicinity of Euston. You see, I argued that if Drebber and his
companion had become separated, the natural course for the latter
would be to put up somewhere in the vicinity for the night, and then
to hang about the station again next morning."
"They would be likely to agree on some meeting-place beforehand,"
remarked Holmes.
"So it proved. I spent the whole of yesterday evening in making
inquiries entirely without avail. This morning I began very early,
and at eight o'clock I reached Halliday's Private Hotel, in Little
George Street. On my inquiry as to whether a Mr. Stangerson was
living there, they at once answered me in the affirmative.
"'No doubt you are the gentleman whom he was expecting,' they
said. 'He has been waiting for a gentleman for two days.'
"'Where is he now?' I asked.
"'He is upstairs in bed. He wished to be called at nine.'
"'I will go up and see him at once,' I said.
"It seemed to me that my sudden appearance might shake his nerves
and lead him to say something unguarded. The boots volunteered to
show me the room: it was on the second floor, and there was a small
corridor leading up to it. The boots pointed out the door to me, and
was about to go downstairs again when I saw something that made me
feel sickish, in spite of my twenty years' experience. From under the
door there curled a little red ribbon of blood, which had meandered
across the passage and formed a little pool along the skirting at the
other side. I gave a cry, which brought the boots back. He nearly
fainted when he saw it. The door was locked on the inside, but we put
our shoulders to it, and knocked it in. The window of the room was
open, and beside the window, all huddled up, lay the body of a man in
his nightdress. He was quite dead, and had been for some time, for
his limbs were rigid and cold. When we turned him over, the boots
recognized him at once as being the same gentleman who had engaged the
room under the name of Joseph Stangerson. The cause of death was a
deep stab in the left side, which must have penetrated the heart. And
now comes the strangest part of the affair. What do you suppose was
above the murdered man?"
I felt a creeping of the flesh, and a presentiment of coming
horror, even before Sherlock Holmes answered.
"The word RACHE, written in letters of blood," he said.
"That was it," said Lestrade, in an awestruck voice; and we were
all silent for a while.
There was something so methodical and so incomprehensible about
the deeds of this unknown assassin, that it imparted a fresh
ghastliness to his crimes. My nerves, which were steady enough on the
field of battle, tingled as I thought of it.
"The man was seen," continued Lestrade. "A milk boy, passing on
his way to the dairy, happened to walk down the lane which leads from
the mews at the back of the hotel. He noticed that a ladder, which
usually lay there, was raised against one of the windows of the second
floor, which was wide open. After passing, he looked back and saw a
man descend the ladder. He came down so quietly and openly that the
boy imagined him to be some carpenter or joiner at work in the hotel.
He took no particular notice of him, beyond thinking in his own mind
that it was early for him to be at work. He has an impression that
the man was tall, had a reddish face, and was dressed in a long,
brownish coat. He must have stayed in the room some little time after
the murder, for we found blood-stained water in the basin, where he
had washed his hands, and marks on the sheets where he had
deliberately wiped his knife."
I glanced at Holmes on hearing the description of the murderer
which tallied so exactly with his own. There was, however, no trace
of exultation or satisfaction upon his face.
"Did you find nothing in the room which could furnish a clue to
the murderer?" he asked.
"Nothing. Stangerson had Drebber's purse in his pocket, but it
seems that this was usual, as he did all the paying. There was
eighty-odd pounds in it, but nothing had been taken. Whatever the
motives of these extraordinary crimes, robbery is certainly not one of
them. There were no papers or memoranda in the murdered man's pocket,
except a single telegram, dated from Cleveland about a month ago, and
containing the words, 'J. H. is in Europe.' There was no name
appended to this message."
"And there was nothing else?" Holmes asked.
"Nothing of any importance. The man's novel, with which he had
read himself to sleep, was lying upon the bed, and his pipe was on a
chair beside him. There was a glass of water on the table, and on the
window-sill a small chip ointment box containing a couple of pills."
Sherlock Holmes sprang from his chair with an exclamation of
delight.
"The last link," he cried, exultantly. "My case is complete."
The two detectives stared at him in amazement.
"I have now in my hands," my companion said, confidently, "all
the threads which have formed such a tangle. There are, of course,
details to be filled in, but I am as certain of all the main facts,
from the time that Drebber parted from Stangerson at the station, up
to the discovery of the body of the latter, as if I had seen them with
my own eyes. I will give you a proof of my knowledge. Could you lay
your hand upon those pills?"
"I have them," said Lestrade, producing a small white box; "I
took them and the purse and the telegram, intending to have them put
in a place of safety at the police station. It was the merest chance
my taking these pills, for I am bound to say that I do not attach any
importance to them."
"Give them here," said Holmes. "Now, Doctor," turning to me,
"are those ordinary pills?"
They certainly were not. They were of a pearly gray colour,
small, round, and almost transparent against the light. "From their
lightness and transparency, I should imagine that they are soluble in
water," I remarked.
"Precisely so," answered Holmes. "Now would you mind going down
and fetching that poor little devil of a terrier which has been bad so
long, and which the landlady wanted you to put out of its pain
yesterday?"
I went downstairs and carried the dog upstairs in my arms. Its
laboured breathing and glazing eye showed that it was not far from its
end. Indeed, its snow-white muzzle proclaimed that it had already
exceeded the usual term of canine existence. I placed it upon a
cushion on the rug.
"I will now cut one of these pills in two," said Holmes, and
drawing his penknife he suited the action to the word. "One half we
return into the box for future purposes. The other half I will place
in this wineglass, in which is a teaspoonful of water. You perceive
that our friend, the doctor, is right, and that it readily
dissolves."
"This may be very interesting," said Lestrade, in the injured
tone of one who suspects that he is being laughed at; "I cannot see,
however, what it has to do with the death of Mr. Joseph Stangerson."
"Patience, my friend, patience! You will find in time that it
has everything to do with it. I shall now add a little milk to make
the mixture palatable, and on presenting it to the dog we find that he
laps it up readily enough."
As he spoke he turned the contents of the wineglass into a saucer
and placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it dry.
Sherlock Holmes's earnest demeanour had so far convinced us that we
all sat in silence, watching the animal intently, and expecting some
startling effect. None such appeared, however. The dog continued to
lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in a laboured way, but
apparently neither the better nor the worse for its draught.
Holmes had taken out his watch, and as minute followed minute
without result, an expression of the utmost chagrin and disappointment
appeared upon his features. He gnawed his lip, drummed his fingers
upon the table, and showed every other symptom of acute impatience.
So great was his emotion that I felt sincerely sorry for him, while
the two detectives smiled derisively, by no means displeased at this
check which he had met.
"It can't be a coincidence," he cried, at last springing from his
chair and pacing wildly up and down the room; "it is impossible that
it should be a mere coincidence. The very pills which I suspected in
the case of Drebber are actually found after the death of Stangerson.
And yet they are inert. What can it mean? Surely my whole chain of
reasoning cannot have been false. It is impossible! And yet this
wretched dog is none the worse. Ah, I have it! I have it!" With a
perfect shriek of delight he rushed to the box, cut the other pill in
two, dissolved it, added milk, and presented it to the terrier. The
unfortunate creature's tongue seemed hardly to have been moistened in
it before it gave a convulsive shiver in every limb, and lay as rigid
and lifeless as if it had been struck by lightning.
Sherlock Holmes drew a long breath, and wiped the perspiration
from his forehead. "I should have more faith," he said; "I ought to
know by this time that when a fact appears to be opposed to a long
train of deductions, it invariably proves to be capable of bearing
some other interpretation. Of the two pills in that box, one was of
the most deadly poison, and the other was entirely harmless. I ought
to have known that before ever I saw the box at all."
This last statement appeared to me to be so startling that I
could hardly believe that he was in his sober senses. There was the
dead dog, however, to prove that his conjecture had been correct. It
seemed to me that the mists in my own mind were gradually clearing
away, and I began to have a dim, vague perception of the truth.
"All this seems strange to you," continued Holmes, "because you
failed at the beginning of the inquiry to grasp the importance of the
single real clue which was presented to you. I had the good fortune
to seize upon that, and everything which has occurred since then has
served to confirm my original supposition, and, indeed, was the
logical sequence of it. Hence things which have perplexed you and
made the case more obscure have served to enlighten me and to
strengthen my conclusions. It is a mistake to confound strangeness
with mystery. The most commonplace crime is often the most
mysterious, because it presents no new or special features from which
deductions may be drawn. This murder would have been infinitely more
difficult to unravel had the body of the victim been simply found
lying in the roadway without any of those outre and sensational
accompaniments which have rendered it remarkable. These strange
details, far from making the case more difficult, have really had the
effect of making it less so."
Mr. Gregson, who had listened to this address with considerable
impatience, could contain himself no longer. "Look here, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes," he said, "we are all ready to acknowledge that you are a
smart man, and that you have your own methods of working. We want
something more than mere theory and preaching now, though. It is a
case of taking the man. I have made my case out, and it seems I was
wrong. Young Charpentier could not have been engaged in this second
affair. Lestrade went after his man, Stangerson, and it appears that
he was wrong too. You have thrown out hints here, and hints there,
and seem to know more than we do, but the time has come when we feel
that we have a right to ask you straight how much you do know of the
business. Can you name the man who did it?"
"I cannot help feeling that Gregson is right, sir," remarked
Lestrade. "We have both tried, and we have both failed. You have
remarked more than once since I have been in the room that you had all
the evidence which you require. Surely you will not withhold it any
longer."
"Any delay in arresting the assassin," I observed, "might give
him time to perpetrate some fresh atrocity."
Thus pressed by us all, Holmes showed signs of irresolution. He
continued to walk up and down the room with his head sunk on his chest
and his brows drawn down, as was his habit when lost in thought.
"There will be no more murders," he said at last, stopping
abruptly and facing us. "You can put that consideration out of the
question. You have asked me if I know the name of the assassin. I
do. The mere knowing of his name is a small thing, however, compared
with the power of laying our hands upon him. This I expect very
shortly to do. I have good hopes of managing it through my own
arrangements; but it is a thing which needs delicate handling, for we
have a shrewd and desperate man to deal with, who is supported, as I
have had occasion to prove, by another who is as clever as himself.
As long as this man has no idea that anyone can have a clue there is
some chance of securing him; but if he had the slightest suspicion, he
would change his name, and vanish in an instant among the four million
inhabitants of this great city. Without meaning to hurt either of
your feelings, I am bound to say that I consider these men to be more
than a match for the official force, and that is why I have not asked
your assistance. If I fail, I shall, of course, incur all the blame
due to this omission; but that I am prepared for. At present I am
ready to promise that the instant that I can communicate with you
without endangering my own combinations, I shall do so."
Gregson and Lestrade seemed to be far from satisfied by this
assurance, or by the depreciating allusion to the detective police.
The former had flushed up to the roots of his flaxen hair, while the
other's beady eyes glistened with curiosity and resentment. Neither
of them had time to speak, however, before there was a tap at the
door, and the spokesman of the street Arabs, young Wiggins, introduced
his insignificant and unsavoury person.
"Please, sir," he said, touching his forelock, "I have the cab
downstairs."
"Good boy," said Holmes, blandly. "Why don't you introduce this
pattern at Scotland Yard?" he continued, taking a pair of steel
handcuffs from a drawer. "See how beautifully the spring works. They
fasten in an instant."
"The old pattern is good enough," remarked Lestrade, "if we can
only find the man to put them on."
"Very good, very good," said Holmes, smiling. "The cabman may as
well help me with my boxes. Just ask him to step up, Wiggins."
I was surprised to find my companion speaking as though he were
about to set out on a journey, since he had not said anything to me
about it. There was a small portmanteau in the room, and this he
pulled out and began to strap. He was busily engaged at it when the
cabman entered the room.
"Just give me a help with this buckle, cabman," he said, kneeling
over his task, and never turning his head.
The fellow came forward with a somewhat sullen, defiant air, and
put down his hands to assist. At that instant there was a sharp
click, the jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet
again.
"Gentlemen," he cried, with flashing eyes, "let me introduce you
to Mr. Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph
Stangerson."
The whole thing occurred in a moment -- so quickly that I had no
time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of
Holmes's triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the
cabman's dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs,
which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second or
two we might have been a group of statues. Then with an inarticulate
roar of fury, the prisoner wrenched himself free from Holmes's grasp,
and hurled himself through the window. Woodwork and glass gave way
before him; but before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and
Holmes sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back
into the room, and then commenced a terrific conflict. So powerful
and so fierce was he that the four of us were shaken off again and
again. He appeared to have the convulsive strength of a man in an
epileptic fit. His face and hands were terribly mangled by his
passage through the glass, but loss of blood had no effect in
diminishing his resistance. It was not until Lestrade succeeded in
getting his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that we
made him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and even then we
felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands.
That done, we rose to our feet breathless and panting.
"We have his cab," said Sherlock Holmes. "It will serve to take
him to Scotland Yard. And now, gentlemen," he continued, with a
pleasant smile, "we have reached the end of our little mystery. You
are very welcome to put any questions that you like to me now, and
there is no danger that I will refuse to answer them."
Part 2

THE COUNTRY OF THE SAINTS


Chapter 1

ON THE GREAT ALKALI PLAIN

In the central portion of the great North American Continent
there lies an arid and repulsive desert, which for many a long year
served as a barrier against the advance of civilization. From the
Sierra Nevada to Nebraska, and from the Yellowstone River in the north
to the Colorado upon the south, is a region of desolation and silence.
Nor is Nature always in one mood throughout this grim district. It
comprises snow-capped and lofty mountains, and dark and gloomy
valleys. There are swift-flowing rivers which dash through jagged
canons; and there are enormous plains, which in winter are white with
snow, and in summer are gray with the saline alkali dust. They all
preserve, however, the common characteristics of barrenness,
inhospitality, and misery.
There are no inhabitants of this land of despair. A band of
Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it in order to reach
other hunting-grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad to lose
sight of those awesome plains, and to find themselves once more upon
their prairies. The coyote skulks among the scrub, the buzzard flaps
heavily through the air, and the clumsy grizzly bear lumbers through
the dark ravines, and picks up such sustenance as it can amongst the
rocks. These are the sole dwellers in the wilderness.
In the whole world there can be no more dreary view than that
from the northern slope of the Sierra Blanco. As far as the eye can
reach stretches the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with
patches of alkali, and intersected by clumps of the dwarfish chaparral
bushes. On the extreme verge of the horizon lie a long chain of
mountain peaks, with their rugged summits flecked with snow. In this
great stretch of country there is no sign of life, nor of anything
appertaining to life. There is no bird in the steel-blue heaven, no
movement upon the dull, gray earth -- above all, there is absolute
silence. Listen as one may, there is no shadow of a sound in all that
mighty wilderness; nothing but silence -- complete and heart-subduing
silence.
It has been said there is nothing appertaining to life upon the
broad plain. That is hardly true. Looking down from the Sierra
Blanco, one sees a pathway traced out across the desert, which winds
away and is lost in the extreme distance. It is rutted with wheels
and trodden down by the feet of many adventurers. Here and there
there are scattered white objects which glisten in the sun, and stand
out against the dull deposit of alkali. Approach, and examine them!
They are bones: some large and coarse, others smaller and more
delicate. The former have belonged to oxen, and the latter to men.
For fifteen hundred miles one may trace this ghastly caravan route by
these scattered remains of those who had fallen by the wayside.
Looking down on this very scene, there stood upon the fourth of
May, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, a solitary traveller. His
appearance was such that he might have been the very genius or demon
of the region. An observer would have found it difficult to say
whether he was nearer to forty or to sixty. His face was lean and
haggard, and the brown parchment-like skin was drawn tightly over the
projecting bones; his long, brown hair and beard were all flecked and
dashed with white; his eyes were sunken in his head, and burned with
an unnatural lustre; while the hand which grasped his rifle was hardly
more fleshy than that of a skeleton. As he stood, he leaned upon his
weapon for support, and yet his tall figure and the massive framework
of his bones suggested a wiry and vigorous constitution. His gaunt
face, however, and his clothes, which hung so baggily over his
shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it was that gave him that senile and
decrepit appearance. The man was dying -- dying from hunger and from
thirst.
He had toiled painfully down the ravine, and on to this little
elevation, in the vain hope of seeing some signs of water. Now the
great salt plain stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt of
savage mountains, without a sign anywhere of plant or tree, which
might indicate the presence of moisture. In all that broad landscape
there was no gleam of hope. North, and east, and west he looked with
wild, questioning eyes, and then he realized that his wanderings had
come to an end, and that there, on that barren crag, he was about to
die. "Why not here, as well as in a feather bed, twenty years hence?"
he muttered, as he seated himself in the shelter of a boulder.
Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the ground his useless
rifle, and also a large bundle tied up in a gray shawl, which he had
carried slung over his right shoulder. It appeared to be somewhat too
heavy for his strength, for in lowering it, it came down on the ground
with some little violence. Instantly there broke from the gray parcel
a little moaning cry, and from it there protruded a small, scared
face, with very bright brown eyes, and two little speckled dimpled
fists.
"You've hurt me!" said a childish voice, reproachfully.
"Have I, though?" the man answered penitently; "I didn't go for
to do it." As he spoke he unwrapped the gray shawl and extricated a
pretty little girl of about five years of age, whose dainty shoes and
smart pink frock with its little linen apron, all bespoke a mother's
care. The child was pale and wan, but her healthy arms and legs
showed that she had suffered less than her companion.
"How is it now?" he answered anxiously, for she was still rubbing
the tousy golden curls which covered the back of her head.
"Kiss it and make it well," she said, with perfect gravity,
showing the injured part up to him. "That's what mother used to do.
Where's mother?"
"Mother's gone. I guess you'll see her before long."
"Gone, eh!" said the little girl. "Funny, she didn't say
good-bye; she 'most always did if she was just goin' over to auntie's
for tea, and now she's been away three days. Say, it's awful dry,
ain't it? Ain't there no water nor nothing to eat?"
"No, there ain't nothing, dearie. You'll just need to be patient
awhile, and then you'll be all right. Put your head up ag'in me like
that, and then you'll feel bullier. It ain't easy to talk when your
lips is like leather, but I guess I'd best let you know how the cards
lie. What's that you've got?"
"Pretty things! fine things!" cried the little girl
enthusiastically, holding up two glittering fragments of mica. "When
we goes back to home I'll give them to brother Bob."
"You'll see prettier things than them soon," said the man
confidently. "You just wait a bit. I was going to tell you though --
you remember when we left the river?"
"Oh, yes."
"Well, we reckoned we'd strike another river soon, d'ye see. But
there was somethin' wrong; compasses, or map, or somethin', and it
didn't turn up. Water ran out. Just except a little drop for the
likes of you, and -- and --"
"And you couldn't wash yourself," interrupted his companion
gravely, staring up at his grimy visage.
"No, nor drink. And Mr. Bender, he was the fust to go, and then
Indian Pete, and then Mrs. McGregor, and then Johnny Hones, and then,
dearie, your mother."
"Then mother's a deader too," cried the little girl, dropping her
face in her pinafore and sobbing bitterly.
"Yes, they all went except you and me. Then I thought there was
some chance of water in this direction, so I heaved you over my
shoulder and we tramped it together. It don't seem as though we've
improved matters. There's an almighty small chance for us now!"
"Do you mean that we are going to die too?" asked the child,
checking her sobs, and raising her tear-stained face.
"I guess that's about the size of it."
"Why didn't you say so before?" she said, laughing gleefully.
"You gave me such a fright. Why, of course, now as long as we die
we'll be with mother again."
"Yes, you will, dearie."
"And you too. I'll tell her how awful good you've been. I'll
bet she meets us at the door of heaven with a big pitcher of water,
and a lot of buckwheat cakes, hot, and toasted on both sides, like Bob
and me was fond of. How long will it be first?"
"I don't know -- not very long." The man's eyes were fixed upon
the northern horizon. In the blue vault of the heaven there had
appeared three little specks which increased in size every moment, so
rapidly did they approach. They speedily resolved themselves into
three large brown birds, which circled over the heads of the two
wanderers, and then settled upon some rocks which overlooked them.
They were buzzards, the vultures of the West, whose coming is the
forerunner of death.
"Cocks and hens," cried the little girl gleefully, pointing at
their ill-omened forms, and clapping her hands to make them rise.
"Say, did God make this country?"
"Of course He did," said her companion, rather startled by this
unexpected question.
"He made the country down in Illinois, and He made the Missouri,"
the little girl continued. "I guess somebody else made the country in
these parts. It's not nearly so well done. They forgot the water and
the trees."
"What would ye think of offering up prayer?" the man asked
diffidently.
"It ain't night yet," she answered.
"It don't matter. It ain't quite regular, but He won't mind
that, you bet. You say over them ones that you used to say every
night in the wagon when we was on the plains."
"Why don't you say some yourself?" the child asked, with
wondering eyes.
"I disremember them," he answered. "I hain't said none since I
was half the height o' that gun. I guess it's never too late. You
say them out, and I'll stand by and come in on the choruses."
"Then you'll need to kneel down, and me too," she said, laying
the shawl out for that purpose. "You've got to put your hands up like
this. It makes you feel kind of good."
It was a strange sight, had there been anything but the buzzards
to see it. Side by side on the narrow shawl knelt the two wanderers,
the little prattling child and the reckless, hardened adventurer. Her
chubby face and his haggard, angular visage were both turned up to the
cloudless heaven in heartfelt entreaty to that dread Being with whom
they were face to face, while the two voices -- the one thin and
clear, the other deep and harsh -- united in the entreaty for mercy
and forgiveness. The prayer finished, they resumed their seat in the
shadow of the boulder until the child fell asleep, nestling upon the
broad breast of her protector. He watched over her slumber for some
time, but Nature proved to be too strong for him. For three days and
three nights he had allowed himself neither rest nor repose. Slowly
the eyelids drooped over the tired eyes, and the head sunk lower and
lower upon the breast, until the man's grizzled beard was mixed with
the gold tresses of his companion, and both slept the same deep and
dreamless slumber.
Had the wanderer remained awake for another half-hour a strange
sight would have met his eyes. Far away on the extreme verge of the
alkali plain there rose up a little spray of dust, very slight at
first, and hardly to be distinguished from the mists of the distance,
but gradually growing higher and broader until it formed a solid,
well-defined cloud. This cloud continued to increase in size until it
became evident that it could only be raised by a great multitude of
moving creatures. In more fertile spots the observer would have come
to the conclusion that one of those great herds of bisons which graze
upon the prairie land was approaching him. This was obviously
impossible in these arid wilds. As the whirl of dust drew nearer to
the solitary bluff upon which the two castaways were reposing, the
canvas-covered tilts of wagons and the figures of armed horsemen began
to show up through the haze, and the apparition revealed itself as
being a great caravan upon its journey for the West. But what a
caravan! When the head of it had reached the base of the mountains,
the rear was not yet visible on the horizon. Right across the
enormous plain stretched the straggling array, wagons and carts, men
on horseback, and men on foot. Innumerable women who staggered along
under burdens, and children who toddled beside the wagons or peeped
out from under the white coverings. This was evidently no ordinary
party of immigrants, but rather some nomad people who had been
compelled from stress of circumstances to seek themselves a new
country. There rose through the clear air a confused clattering and
rumbling from this great mass of humanity, with the creaking of wheels
and the neighing of horses. Loud as it was, it was not sufficient to
rouse the two tired wayfarers above them.
At the head of the column there rode a score or more of grave,
iron-faced men, clad in sombre homespun garments and armed with
rifles. On reaching the base of the bluff they halted, and held a
short council among themselves.
"The wells are to the right, my brothers," said one, a
hard-lipped, clean-shaven man with grizzly hair.
"To the right of the Sierra Blanco -- so we shall reach the Rio
Grande," said another.
"Fear not for water," cried a third. "He who could draw it from
the rocks will not now abandon His own chosen people."
"Amen! amen!" responded the whole party.
They were about to resume their journey when one of the youngest
and keenest-eyed uttered an exclamation and pointed up at the rugged
crag above them. From its summit there fluttered a little wisp of
pink, showing up hard and bright against the gray rocks behind. At
the sight there was a general reining up of horses and unslinging of
guns, while fresh horsemen came galloping up to reinforce the
vanguard. The word "Redskins" was on every lip.
"There can't be any number of Injuns here," said the elderly man
who appeared to be in command. "We have passed the Pawnees, and there
are no other tribes until we cross the great mountains."
"Shall I go forward and see, Brother Stangerson?" asked one of
the band.
"And I," "And I," cried a dozen voices.
"Leave your horses below and we will await you here," the elder
answered. In a moment the young fellows had dismounted, fastened
their horses, and were ascending the precipitous slope which led up to
the object which had excited their curiosity. They advanced rapidly
and noiselessly, with the confidence and dexterity of practised
scouts. The watchers from the plain below could see them flit from
rock to rock until their figures stood out against the sky-line. The
young man who had first given the alarm was leading them. Suddenly
his followers saw him throw up his hands, as though overcome with
astonishment, and on joining him they were affected in the same way by
the sight which met their eyes.
On the little plateau which crowned the barren hill there stood a
single giant boulder, and against this boulder there lay a tall man,
long-bearded and hard-featured, but of an excessive thinness. His
placid face and regular breathing showed that he was fast asleep.
Beside him lay a child, with her round white arms encircling his brown
sinewy neck, and her golden-haired head resting upon the breast of his
velveteen tunic. Her rosy lips were parted, showing the regular line
of snow-white teeth within, and a playful smile played over her
infantile features. Her plump little white legs, terminating in white
socks and neat shoes with shining buckles, offered a strange contrast
to the long shrivelled members of her companion. On the ledge of rock
above this strange couple there stood three solemn buzzards, who, at
the sight of the newcomers, uttered raucous screams of disappointment
and flapped sullenly away.
The cries of the foul birds awoke the two sleepers, who stared
about them in bewilderment. The man staggered to his feet and looked
down upon the plain which had been so desolate when sleep had
overtaken him, and which was now traversed by this enormous body of
men and of beasts. His face assumed an expression of incredulity as
he gazed, and he passed his bony hand over his eyes. "This is what
they call delirium, I guess," he muttered. The child stood beside
him, holding on to the skirt of his coat, and said nothing, but looked
all round her with the wondering, questioning gaze of childhood.
The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two
castaways that their appearance was no delusion. One of them seized
the little girl and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others
supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him towards the wagons.
"My name is John Ferrier," the wanderer explained; "me and that
little un are all that's left o' twenty-one people. The rest is all
dead o' thirst and hunger away down in the south."
"Is she your child?" asked someone.
"I guess she is now," the other cried, defiantly; "she's mine
'cause I saved her. No man will take her from me. She's Lucy Ferrier
from this day on. Who are you, though?" he continued, glancing with
curiosity at his stalwart, sunburned rescuers; "there seems to be a
powerful lot of ye."
"Nigh unto ten thousand," said one of the young men; "we are the
persecuted children of God -- the chosen of the Angel Moroni."
"I never heard tell on him," said the wanderer. "He appears to
have chosen a fair crowd of ye."
"Do not jest at that which is sacred," said the other, sternly.
"We are of those who believe in those sacred writings, drawn in
Egyptian letters on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto the
holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra. We have come from Nauvoo, in the state
of Illinois, where we had founded our temple. We have come to seek a
refuge from the violent man and from the godless, even though it be
the heart of the desert."
The name of Nauvoo evidently recalled recollections to John
Ferrier. "I see," he said; "you are the Mormons."
"We are the Mormons," answered his companions with one voice.
"And where are you going?"
"We do not know. The hand of God is leading us under the person
of our Prophet. You must come before him. He shall say what is to be
done with you."
They had reached the base of the hill by this time, and were
surrounded by crowds of the pilgrims -- pale-faced, meek-looking
women; strong, laughing children; and anxious, earnest-eyed men. Many
were the cries of astonishment and of commiseration which arose from
them when they perceived the youth of one of the strangers and the
destitution of the other. Their escort did not halt, however, but
pushed on, followed by a great crowd of Mormons, until they reached a
wagon, which was conspicuous for its great size and for the gaudiness
and smartness of its appearance. Six horses were yoked to it, whereas
the others were furnished with two, or, at most, four apiece. Beside
the driver there sat a man who could not have been more than thirty
years of age, but whose massive head and resolute expression marked
him as a leader. He was reading a brown-backed volume, but as the
crowd approached he laid it aside, and listened attentively to an
account of the episode. Then he turned to the two castaways.
"If we take you with us," he said, in solemn words, "it can only
be as believers in our own creed. We shall have no wolves in our
fold. Better far that your bones should bleach in this wilderness
than that you should prove to be that little speck of decay which in
time corrupts the whole fruit. Will you come with us on these
terms?"
"Guess I'll come with you on any terms," said Ferrier, with such
emphasis that the grave Elders could not restrain a smile. The leader
alone retained his stern, impressive expression.
"Take him, Brother Stangerson," he said, "give him food and
drink, and the child likewise. Let it be your task also to teach him
our holy creed. We have delayed long enough. Forward! On, on to
Zion!"
"On, on to Zion!" cried the crowd of Mormons, and the words
rippled down the long caravan, passing from mouth to mouth until they
died away in a dull murmur in the far distance. With a cracking of
whips and a creaking of wheels the great wagons got into motion, and
soon the whole caravan was winding along once more. The Elder to
whose care the two waifs had been committed led them to his wagon,
where a meal was already awaiting them.
"You shall remain here," he said. "In a few days you will have
recovered from your fatigues. In the meantime, remember that now and
forever you are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it, and he
has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith, which is the voice of
God."


Chapter 2

THE FLOWER OF UTAH

This is not the place to commemorate the trials and privations
endured by the immigrant Mormons before they came to their final
haven. From the shores of the Mississippi to the western slopes of
the Rocky Mountains they had struggled on with a constancy almost
unparalleled in history. The savage man, and the savage beast,
hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease -- every impediment which Nature
could place in the way -- had all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon
tenacity. Yet the long journey and the accumulated terrors had shaken
the hearts of the stoutest among them. There was not one who did not
sink upon his knees in heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad valley
of Utah bathed in the sunlight beneath them, and learned from the lips
of their leader that this was the promised land, and that these virgin
acres were to be theirs for evermore.
Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful administrator as
well as a resolute chief. Maps were drawn and charts prepared, in
which the future city was sketched out. All around farms were
apportioned and allotted in proportion to the standing of each
individual. The tradesman was put to his trade and the artisan to his
calling. In the town streets and squares sprang up as if by magic.
In the country there was draining and hedging, planting and clearing,
until the next summer saw the whole country golden with the wheat
crop. Everything prospered in the strange settlement. Above all, the
great temple which they had erected in the centre of the city grew
ever taller and larger. From the first blush of dawn until the
closing of the twilight, the clatter of the hammer and the rasp of the
saw were never absent from the monument which the immigrants erected
to Him who had led them safe through many dangers.
The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little girl, who had
shared his fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter, accompanied
the Mormons to the end of their great pilgrimage. Little Lucy Ferrier
was borne along pleasantly enough in Elder Stangerson's wagon, a
retreat which she shared with the Mormon's three wives and with his
son, a headstrong, forward boy of twelve. Having rallied, with the
elasticity of childhood, from the shock caused by her mother's death,
she soon became a pet with the women, and reconciled herself to this
new life in her moving canvas-covered home. In the meantime Ferrier
having recovered from his privations, distinguished himself as a
useful guide and an indefatigable hunter. So rapidly did he gain the
esteem of his new companions, that when they reached the end of their
wanderings, it was unanimously agreed that he should be provided with
as large and as fertile a tract of land as any of the settlers, with
the exception of Young himself, and of Stangerson, Kemball, Johnston,
and Drebber, who were the four principal Elders.
On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a
substantial log-house, which received so many additions in succeeding
years that it grew into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practical
turn of mind, keen in his dealings and skilful with his hands. His
iron constitution enabled him to work morning and evening at improving
and tilling his lands. Hence it came about that his farm and all that
belonged to him prospered exceedingly. In three years he was better
off than his neighbours, in six he was well-to-do, in nine he was
rich, and in twelve there were not half a dozen men in the whole of
Salt Lake City who could compare with him. From the great inland sea
to the distant Wasatch Mountains there was no name better known than
that of John Ferrier.
There was one way and only one in which he offended the
susceptibilities of his co-religionists. No argument or persuasion
could ever induce him to set up a female establishment after the
manner of his companions. He never gave reasons for this persistent
refusal, but contented himself by resolutely and inflexibly adhering
to his determination. There were some who accused him of lukewarmness
in his adopted religion, and others who put it down to greed of wealth
and reluctance to incur expense. Others, again, spoke of some early
love affair, and of a fair-haired girl who had pined away on the
shores of the Atlantic. Whatever the reason, Ferrier remained
strictly celibate. In every other respect he conformed to the
religion of the young settlement, and gained the name of being an
orthodox and straight-walking man.
Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and assisted her
adopted father in all his undertakings. The keen air of the mountains
and the balsamic odour of the pine trees took the place of nurse and
mother to the young girl. As year succeeded to year she grew taller
and stronger, her cheek more ruddy and her step more elastic. Many a
wayfarer upon the high road which ran by Ferrier's farm felt
long-forgotten thoughts revive in his mind as he watched her lithe,
girlish figure tripping through the wheatfields, or met her mounted
upon her father's mustang, and managing it with all the ease and grace
of a true child of the West. So the bud blossomed into a flower, and
the year which saw her father the richest of the farmers left her as
fair a specimen of American girlhood as could be found in the whole
Pacific slope.
It was not the father, however, who first discovered that the
child had developed into the woman. It seldom is in such cases. That
mysterious change is too subtle and too gradual to be measured by
dates. Least of all does the maiden herself know it until the tone of
a voice or the touch of a hand sets her heart thrilling within her,
and she learns, with a mixture of pride and of fear, that a new and a
larger nature has awakened within her. There are few who cannot
recall that day and remember the one little incident which heralded
the dawn of a new life. In the case of Lucy Ferrier the occasion was
serious enough in itself, apart from its future influence on her
destiny and that of many besides.
It was a warm June morning, and the Latter Day Saints were as
busy as the bees whose hive they have chosen for their emblem. In the
fields and in the streets rose the same hum of human industry. Down
the dusty high roads defiled long streams of heavily laden mules, all
heading to the west, for the gold fever had broken out in California,
and the overland route lay through the city of the Elect. There, too,
were droves of sheep and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture
lands, and trains of tired immigrants, men and horses equally weary of
their interminable journey. Through all this motley assemblage,
threading her way with the skill of an accomplished rider, there
galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair face flushed with the exercise and her
long chestnut hair floating out behind her. She had a commission from
her father in the city, and was dashing in as she had done many a time
before, with all the fearlessness of youth, thinking only of her task
and how it was to be performed. The travel-stained adventurers gazed
after her in astonishment, and even the unemotional Indians,
journeying in with their peltries, relaxed their accustomed stoicism
as they marvelled at the beauty of the pale-faced maiden.
She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the road
blocked by a great drove of cattle, driven by a half-dozen
wild-looking herdsmen from the plains. In her impatience she
endeavoured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse into what
appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had she got fairly into it, however,
before the beasts closed in behind her, and she found herself
completely embedded in the moving stream of fierce-eyed, long-horned
bullocks. Accustomed as she was to deal with cattle, she was not
alarmed at her situation, but took advantage of every opportunity to
urge her horse on, in the hopes of pushing her way through the
cavalcade. Unfortunately the horns of one of the creatures, either by
accident or design, came in violent contact with the flank of the
mustang, and excited it to madness. In an instant it reared up upon
its hind legs with a snort of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way
that would have unseated any but a skilful rider. The situation was
full of peril. Every plunge of the excited horse brought it against
the horns again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all that the
girl could do to keep herself in the saddle, yet a slip would mean a
terrible death under the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified animals.
Unaccustomed to sudden emergencies, her head began to swim, and her
grip upon the bridle to relax. Choked by the rising cloud of dust and
by the steam from the struggling creatures, she might have abandoned
her efforts in despair, but for a kindly voice at her elbow which
assured her of assistance. At the same moment a sinewy brown hand
caught the frightened horse by the curb, and forcing a way through the
drove, soon brought her to the outskirts.
"You're not hurt, I hope, miss," said her preserver,
respectfully.
She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and laughed saucily.
"I'm awful frightened," she said, naively; "whoever would have thought
that Poncho would have been so scared by a lot of cows?"
"Thank God, you kept your seat," the other said, earnestly. He
was a tall, savage-looking young fellow, mounted on a powerful roan
horse, and clad in the rough dress of a hunter, with a long rifle
slung over his shoulders. "I guess you are the daughter of John
Ferrier," he remarked; "I saw you ride down from his house. When you
see him, ask him if he remembers the Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis. If
he's the same Ferrier, my father and he were pretty thick."
"Hadn't you better come and ask yourself?" she asked, demurely.
The young fellow seemed pleased at the suggestion, and his dark
eyes sparkled with pleasure. "I'll do so," he said; "we've been in
the mountains for two months, and are not over and above in visiting
condition. He must take us as he finds us."
"He has a good deal to thank you for, and so have I," she
answered; "he's awful fond of me. If those cows had jumped on me he'd
have never got over it."
"Neither would I," said her companion.
"You! Well, I don't see that it would make much matter to you,
anyhow. You ain't even a friend of ours."
The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy over this remark that
Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud.
"There, I didn't mean that," she said; "of course, you are a
friend now. You must come and see us. Now I must push along, or
father won't trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!"
"Good-bye," he answered, raising his broad sombrero, and bending
over her little hand. She wheeled her mustang round, gave it a cut
with her riding-whip, and darted away down the broad road in a rolling
cloud of dust.
Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his companions, gloomy and
taciturn. He and they had been among the Nevada Mountains prospecting
for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City in the hope of
raising capital enough to work some lodes which they had discovered.
He had been as keen as any of them upon the business until this sudden
incident had drawn his thoughts into another channel. The sight of
the fair young girl, as frank and wholesome as the Sierra breezes, had
stirred his volcanic, untamed heart to its very depths. When she had
vanished from his sight, he realized that a crisis had come in his
life, and that neither silver speculations nor any other questions
could ever be of such importance to him as this new and all-absorbing
one. The love which had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden,
changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the wild, fierce passion of a
man of strong will and imperious temper. He had been accustomed to
succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart that he would
not fail in this if human effort and human perseverance could render
him successful.
He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again, until
his face was a familiar one at the farmhouse. John, cooped up in the
valley, and absorbed in his work, had had little chance of learning
the news of the outside world during the last twelve years. All this
Jefferson Hope was able to tell him, and in a style which interested
Lucy as well as her father. He had been a pioneer in California, and
could narrate many a strange tale of fortunes made and fortunes lost
in those wild, halcyon days. He had been a scout too, and a trapper,
a silver explorer, and a ranchman. Wherever stirring adventures were
to be had, Jefferson Hope had been there in search of them. He soon
became a favourite with the old farmer, who spoke eloquently of his
virtues. On such occasions, Lucy was silent, but her blushing cheek
and her bright, happy eyes showed only too clearly that her young
heart was no longer her own. Her honest father may not have observed
these symptoms, but they were assuredly not thrown away upon the man
who had won her affections.

One summer evening he came galloping down the road and pulled up
at the gate. She was at the doorway, and came down to meet him. He
threw the bridle over the fence and strode up the pathway.
"I am off, Lucy," he said, taking her two hands in his, and
gazing tenderly down into her face: "I won't ask you to come with me
now, but will you be ready to come when I am here again?"
"And when will that be?" she asked, blushing and laughing.
"A couple of months at the outside. I will come and claim you
then, my darling. There's no one who can stand between us."
"And how about father?" she asked.
"He has given his consent, provided we get these mines working
all right. I have no fear on that head."
"Oh, well; of course, if you and father have arranged it all,
there's no more to be said," she whispered, with her cheek against his
broad breast.
"Thank God!" he said, hoarsely, stooping and kissing her. "It is
settled, then. The longer I stay, the harder it will be to go. They
are waiting for me at the canon. Good-bye, my own darling --
good-bye. In two months you shall see me."
He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, flinging himself upon
his horse, galloped furiously away, never even looking round, as
though afraid that his resolution might fail him if he took one glance
at what he was leaving. She stood at the gate, gazing after him until
he vanished from her sight. Then she walked back into the house, the
happiest girl in all Utah.


Chapter 3

JOHN FERRIER TALKS WITH THE PROPHET

Three weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope and his comrades had
departed from Salt Lake City. John Ferrier's heart was sore within
him when he thought of the young man's return, and of the impending
loss of his adopted child. Yet her bright and happy face reconciled
him to the arrangement more than any argument could have done. He had
always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would
ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage
he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace.
Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point
he was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however,
for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those
days in the Land of the Saints.
Yes, a dangerous matter -- so dangerous that even the most
saintly dared only whisper their religious opinions with bated breath,
lest something which fell from their lips might be misconstrued, and
bring down a swift retribution upon them. The victims of persecution
had now turned persecutors on their own account, and persecutors of
the most terrible description. Not the Inquisition of Seville, nor
the German Vehmgericht, nor the secret societies of Italy, were ever
able to put a more formidable machinery in motion than that which cast
a cloud over the state of Utah.
Its invisibility, and the mystery which was attached to it, made
this organization doubly terrible. It appeared to be omniscient and
omnipotent, and yet was neither seen nor heard. The man who held out
against the Church vanished away, and none knew whither he had gone or
what had befallen him. His wife and his children awaited him at home,
but no father ever returned to tell them how he had fared at the hands
of his secret judges. A rash word or a hasty act was followed by
annihilation, and yet none knew what the nature might be of this
terrible power which was suspended over them. No wonder that men went
about in fear and trembling, and that even in the heart of the
wilderness they dared not whisper the doubts which oppressed them.
At first this vague and terrible power was exercised only upon
the recalcitrants who, having embraced the Mormon faith, wished
afterwards to pervert or to abandon it. Soon, however, it took a
wider range. The supply of adult women was running short, and
polygamy without a female population on which to draw was a barren
doctrine indeed. Strange rumours began to be bandied about -- rumours
of murdered immigrants and rifled camps in regions where Indians had
never been seen. Fresh women appeared in the harems of the Elders --
women who pined and wept, and bore upon their faces the traces of an
unextinguishable horror. Belated wanderers upon the mountains spoke
of gangs of armed men, masked, stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by
them in the darkness. These tales and rumours took substance and
shape, and were corroborated and recorroborated, until they resolved
themselves into a definite name. To this day, in the lonely ranches
of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the Avenging Angels, is a
sinister and an ill-omened one.
Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such terrible
results served to increase rather than to lessen the horror which it
inspired in the minds of men. None knew who belonged to this ruthless
society. The names of the participators in the deeds of blood and
violence done under the name of religion were kept profoundly secret.
The very friend to whom you communicated your misgivings as to the
Prophet and his mission might be one of those who would come forth at
night with fire and sword to exact a terrible reparation. Hence every
man feared his neighbour, and none spoke of the things which were
nearest his heart.
One fine morning John Ferrier was about to set out to his
wheatfields, when he heard the click of the latch, and, looking
through the window, saw a stout, sandy-haired, middle-aged man coming
up the pathway. His heart leapt to his mouth, for this was none other
than the great Brigham Young himself. Full of trepidation -- for he
knew that such a visit boded him little good -- Ferrier ran to the
door to greet the Mormon chief. The latter, however, received his
salutations coldly, and followed him with a stern face into the
sitting-room.
"Brother Ferrier," he said, taking a seat, and eyeing the farmer
keenly from under his light-coloured eyelashes, "the true believers
have been good friends to you. We picked you up when you were
starving in the desert, we shared our food with you, led you safe to
the Chosen Valley, gave you a goodly share of land, and allowed you to
wax rich under our protection. Is not this so?"
"It is so," answered John Ferrier.
"In return for all this we asked but one condition: that was,
that you should embrace the true faith, and conform in every way to
its usages. This you promised to do, and this, if common report says
truly, you have neglected."
"And how have I neglected it?" asked Ferrier, throwing out his
hands in expostulation. "Have I not given to the common fund? Have I
not attended at the Temple? Have I not --?"
"Where are your wives?" asked Young, looking round him. "Call
them in, that I may greet them."
"It is true that I have not married," Ferrier answered. "But
women were few, and there were many who had better claims than I. I
was not a lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my wants."
"It is of that daughter that I would speak to you," said the
leader of the Mormons. "She has grown to be the flower of Utah, and
has found favour in the eyes of many who are high in the land."
John Ferrier groaned internally.
"There are stories of her which I would fain disbelieve --
stories that she is sealed to some Gentile. This must be the gossip
of idle tongues. What is the thirteenth rule in the code of the
sainted Joseph Smith? 'Let every maiden of the true faith marry one
of the elect; for if she wed a Gentile, she commits a grievous sin.'
This being so, it is impossible that you, who profess the holy creed,
should suffer your daughter to violate it."
John Ferrier made no answer, but he played nervously with his
riding-whip.
"Upon this one point your whole faith shall be tested -- so it
has been decided in the Sacred Council of Four. The girl is young,
and we would not have her wed gray hairs, neither would we deprive her
of all choice. We Elders have many heifers, Heber C. Kemball, in one
of his sermons, alludes to his hundred wives under this endearing
epithet.] but our children must also be provided. Stangerson has a
son, and Drebber has a son, and either of them would gladly welcome
your daughter to his house. Let her choose between them. They are
young and rich, and of the true faith. What say you to that?"
Ferrier remained silent for some little time with his brows
knitted.
"You will give us time," he said at last. "My daughter is very
young -- she is scarce of an age to marry."
"She shall have a month to choose," said Young, rising from his
seat. "At the end of that time she shall give her answer."
He was passing through the door, when he turned with flushed face
and flashing eyes. "It were better for you, John Ferrier," he
thundered, "that you and she were now lying blanched skeletons upon
the Sierra Blanco, than that you should put your weak wills against
the orders of the Holy Four!"
With a threatening gesture of his hand, he turned from the door,
and Ferrier heard his heavy steps scrunching along the shingly path.
He was still sitting with his elbow upon his knee, considering
how he should broach the matter to his daughter, when a soft hand was
laid upon his, and looking up, he saw her standing beside him. One
glance at her pale, frightened face showed him that she had heard what
had passed.
"I could not help it," she said, in answer to his look. "His
voice rang through the house. Oh, father, father, what shall we do?"
"Don't you scare yourself," he answered, drawing her to him, and
passing his broad, rough hand caressingly over her chestnut hair.
"We'll fix it up somehow or another. You don't find your fancy kind
o' lessening for this chap, do you?"
A sob and a squeeze of his hand were her only answer.
"No; of course not. I shouldn't care to hear you say you did.
He's a likely lad, and he's a Christian, which is more than these
folks here, in spite o' all their praying and preaching. There's a
party starting for Nevada to-morrow, and I'll manage to send him a
message letting him know the hole we are in. If I know anything o'
that young man, he'll be back with a speed that would whip
electro-telegraphs."
Lucy laughed through her tears at her father's description.
"When he comes, he will advise us for the best. But it is for
you that I am frightened, dear. One hears -- one hears such dreadful
stories about those who oppose the Prophet; something terrible always
happens to them."
"But we haven't opposed him yet," her father answered. "It will
be time to look out for squalls when we do. We have a clear month
before us; at the end of that, I guess we had best shin out of Utah."
"Leave Utah!"
"That's about the size of it."
"But the farm?"
"We will raise as much as we can in money, and let the rest go.
To tell the truth, Lucy, it isn't the first time I have thought of
doing it. I don't care about knuckling under to any man, as these
folk do to their darned Prophet. I'm a free-born American, and it's
all new to me. Guess I'm too old to learn. If he comes browsing
about this farm, he might chance to run up against a charge of
buckshot travelling in the opposite direction."
"But they won't let us leave," his daughter objected.
"Wait till Jefferson comes, and we'll soon manage that. In the
meantime, don't you fret yourself, my dearie, and don't get your eyes
swelled up, else he'll be walking into me when he sees you. There's
nothing to be afeared about, and there's no danger at all."
John Ferrier uttered these consoling remarks in a very confident
tone, but she could not help observing that he paid unusual care to
the fastening of the doors that night, and that he carefully cleaned
and loaded the rusty old shot-gun which hung upon the wall of his
bedroom.


Chapter 4

A FLIGHT FOR LIFE

On the morning which followed his interview with the Mormon
Prophet, John Ferrier went in to Salt Lake City, and having found his
acquaintance, who was bound for the Nevada Mountains, he entrusted him
with his message to Jefferson Hope. In it he told the young man of
the imminent danger which threatened them, and how necessary it was
that he should return. Having done thus he felt easier in his mind,
and returned home with a lighter heart.
As he approached his farm, he was surprised to see a horse
hitched to each of the posts of the gate. Still more surprised was he
on the entering to find two young men in possession of his
sitting-room. One, with a long pale face, was leaning back in the
rocking-chair, with his feet cocked up upon the stove. The other, a
bull-necked youth with coarse, bloated features, was standing in front
of the window with his hands in his pockets whistling a popular hymn.
Both of them nodded to Ferrier as he entered, and the one in the
rocking-chair commenced the conversation.
"Maybe you don't know us," he said. "This here is the son of
Elder Drebber, and I'm Joseph Stangerson, who travelled with you in
the desert when the Lord stretched out His hand and gathered you into
the true fold."
"As He will all the nations in His own good time," said the other
in a nasal voice; "He grindeth slowly but exceeding small."
John Ferrier bowed coldly. He had guessed who his visitors
were.
"We have come," continued Stangerson, "at the advice of our
fathers to solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of us may
seem good to you and to her. As I have but four wives and Brother
Drebber here has seven, it appears to me that my claim is the stronger
one."
"Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson," cried the other; "the question is
not how many wives we have, but how many we can keep. My father has
now given over his mills to me, and I am the richer man."
"But my prospects are better," said the other, warmly. "When the
Lord removes my father, I shall have his tanning yard and his leather
factory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the Church."
"It will be for the maiden to decide," rejoined young Drebber,
smirking at his own reflection in the glass. "We will leave it all to
her decision."
During this dialogue John Ferrier had stood fuming in the
doorway, hardly able to keep his riding-whip from the backs of his two
visitors.
"Look here," he said at last, striding up to them, "when my
daughter summons you, you can come, but until then I don't want to see
your faces again."
The two young Mormons stared at him in amazement. In their eyes
this competition between them for the maiden's hand was the highest of
honours both to her and her father.
"There are two ways out of the room," cried Ferrier; "there is
the door, and there is the window. Which do you care to use?"
His brown face looked so savage, and his gaunt hands so
threatening, that his visitors sprang to their feet and beat a hurried
retreat. The old farmer followed them to the door.
"Let me know when you have settled which it is to be," he said,
sardonically.
"You shall smart for this!" Stangerson cried, white with rage.
"You have defied the Prophet and the Council of Four. You shall rue
it to the end of your days."
"The hand of the Lord shall be heavy upon you," cried young
Drebber; "He will arise and smite you!"
"Then I'll start the smiting," exclaimed Ferrier, furiously, and
would have rushed upstairs for his gun had not Lucy seized him by the
arm and restrained him. Before he could escape from her, the clatter
of horses' hoofs told him that they were beyond his reach.
"The young canting rascals!" he exclaimed, wiping the
perspiration from his forehead; "I would sooner see you in your grave,
my girl, than the wife of either of them."
"And so should I, father," she answered, with spirit; "but
Jefferson will soon be here."
"Yes. It will not be long before he comes. The sooner the
better, for we do not know what their next move may be."
It was, indeed, high time that someone capable of giving advice
and help should come to the aid of the sturdy old farmer and his
adopted daughter. In the whole history of the settlement there had
never been such a case of rank disobedience to the authority of the
Elders. If minor errors were punished so sternly, what would be the
fate of this arch rebel? Ferrier knew that his wealth and position
would be of no avail to him. Others as well known and as rich as
himself had been spirited away before now, and their goods given over
to the Church. He was a brave man, but he trembled at the vague,
shadowy terrors which hung over him. Any known danger he could face
with a firm lip, but this suspense was unnerving. He concealed his
fears from his daughter, however, and affected to make light of the
whole matter, though she, with the keen eye of love, saw plainly that
he was ill at ease.
He expected that he would receive some message or remonstrance
from Young as to his conduct, and he was not mistaken, though it came
in an unlooked-for manner. Upon rising next morning he found, to his
surprise, a small square of paper pinned on to the coverlet of his bed
just over his chest. On it was printed, in bold, straggling letters:
--
"Twenty-nine days are given you for amendment, and then --"
The dash was more fear-inspiring than any threat could have been.
How this warning came into his room puzzled John Ferrier sorely, for
his servants slept in an outhouse, and the doors and windows had all
been secured. He crumpled the paper up and said nothing to his
daughter, but the incident struck a chill into his heart. The
twenty-nine days were evidently the balance of the month which Young
had promised. What strength or courage could avail against an enemy
armed with such mysterious powers? The hand which fastened that pin
might have struck him to the heart, and he could never have known who
had slain him.
Still more shaken was he next morning. They had sat down to
their breakfast, when Lucy with a cry of surprise pointed upwards. In
the centre of the ceiling was scrawled, with a burned stick
apparently, the number 28. To his daughter it was unintelligible, and
he did not enlighten her. That night he sat up with his gun and kept
watch and ward. He saw and he heard nothing, and yet in the morning a
great 27 had been painted upon the outside of his door.
Thus day followed day; and as sure as morning came he found that
his unseen enemies had kept their register, and had marked up in some
conspicuous position how many days were still left to him out of the
month of grace. Sometimes the fatal numbers appeared upon the walls,
sometimes upon the floors, occasionally they were on small placards
stuck upon the garden gate or the railings. With all his vigilance
John Ferrier could not discover whence these daily warnings proceeded.
A horror which was almost superstitious came upon him at the sight of
them. He became haggard and restless, and his eyes had the troubled
look of some hunted creature. He had but one hope in life now, and
that was for the arrival of the young hunter from Nevada.
Twenty had changed to fifteen, and fifteen to ten, but there was
no news of the absentee. One by one the numbers dwindled down, and
still there came no sign of him. Whenever a horseman clattered down
the road, or a driver shouted at his team, the old farmer hurried to
the gate, thinking that help had arrived at last. At last, when he
saw five give way to four and that again to three, he lost heart, and
abandoned all hope of escape. Singlehanded, and with his limited
knowledge of the mountains which surrounded the settlement, he knew
that he was powerless. The more frequented roads were strictly
watched and guarded, and none could pass along them without an order
from the Council. Turn which way he would, there appeared to be no
avoiding the blow which hung over him. Yet the old man never wavered
in his resolution to part with life itself before he consented to what
he regarded as his daughter's dishonour.
He was sitting alone one evening pondering deeply over his
troubles, and searching vainly for some way out of them. That morning
had shown the figure 2 upon the wall of his house, and the next day
would be the last of the allotted time. What was to happen then? All
manner of vague and terrible fancies filled his imagination. And his
daughter -- what was to become of her after he was gone? Was there no
escape from the invisible network which was drawn all round them? He
sank his head upon the table and sobbed at the thought of his own
impotence.
What was that? In the silence he heard a gentle scratching sound
-- low, but very distinct in the quiet of the night. It came from the
door of the house. Ferrier crept into the hall and listened intently.
There was a pause for a few moments, and then the low, insidious sound
was repeated. Someone was evidently tapping very gently upon one of
the panels of the door. Was it some midnight assassin who had come to
carry out the murderous orders of the secret tribunal? Or was it some
agent who was marking up that the last day of grace had arrived? John
Ferrier felt that instant death would be better than the suspense
which shook his nerves and chilled his heart. Springing forward, he
drew the bolt and threw the door open.
Outside all was calm and quiet. The night was fine, and the
stars were twinkling brightly overhead. The little front garden lay
before the farmer's eyes bounded by the fence and gate, but neither
there nor on the road was any human being to be seen. With a sigh of
relief, Ferrier looked to right and to left, until, happening to
glance straight down at his own feet, he saw to his astonishment a man
lying flat upon his face upon the ground, with arms and legs all
asprawl.
So unnerved was he at the sight that he leaned up against the
wall with his hand to his throat to stifle his inclination to call
out. His first thought was that the prostrate figure was that of some
wounded or dying man, but as he watched it he saw it writhe along the
ground and into the hall with the rapidity and noiselessness of a
serpent. Once within the house the man sprang to his feet, closed the
door, and revealed to the astonished farmer the fierce face and
resolute expression of Jefferson Hope.
"Good God!" gasped John Ferrier. "How you scared me! Whatever
made you come in like that?"
"Give me food," the other said, hoarsely. "I have had no time
for bite or sup for eight-and-forty hours." He flung himself upon the
cold meat and bread which were still lying upon the table from his
host's supper, and devoured it voraciously. "Does Lucy bear up well?"
he asked, when he had satisfied his hunger.
"Yes. She does not know the danger," her father answered.
"That is well. The house is watched on every side. That is why
I crawled my way up to it. They may be darned sharp, but they're not
quite sharp enough to catch a Washoe hunter."
John Ferrier felt a different man now that he realized that he
had a devoted ally. He seized the young man's leathery hand and wrung
it cordially. "You're a man to be proud of," he said. "There are not
many who would come to share our danger and our troubles."
"You've hit it there, pard," the young hunter answered. "I have
a respect for you, but if you were alone in this business I'd think
twice before I put my head into such a hornet's nest. It's Lucy that
brings me here, and before harm comes on her I guess there will be one
less o' the Hope family in Utah."
"What are we to do?"
"To-morrow is your last day, and unless you act to-night you are
lost. I have a mule and two horses waiting in the Eagle Ravine. How
much money have you?"
"Two thousand dollars in gold, and five in notes."
"That will do. I have as much more to add to it. We must push
for Carson City through the mountains. You had best wake Lucy. It is
as well that the servants do not sleep in the house."
While Ferrier was absent, preparing his daughter for the
approaching journey, Jefferson Hope packed all the eatables that he
could find into a small parcel, and filled a stoneware jar with water,
for he knew by experience that the mountain wells were few and far
between. He had hardly completed his arrangements before the farmer
returned with his daughter all dressed and ready for a start. The
greeting between the lovers was warm, but brief, for minutes were
precious, and there was much to be done.
"We must make our start at once," said Jefferson Hope, speaking
in a low but resolute voice, like one who realizes the greatness of
the peril, but has steeled his heart to meet it. "The front and back
entrances are watched, but with caution we may get away through the
side window and across the fields. Once on the road we are only two
miles from the Ravine where the horses are waiting. By daybreak we
should be halfway through the mountains."
"What if we are stopped?" asked Ferrier.
Hope slapped the revolver butt which protruded from the front of
his tunic. "If they are too many for us, we shall take two or three
of them with us," he said with a sinister smile.
The lights inside the house had all been extinguished, and from
the darkened window Ferrier peered over the fields which had been his
own, and which he was now about to abandon forever. He had long
nerved himself to the sacrifice, however, and the thought of the
honour and happiness of his daughter outweighed any regret at his
ruined fortunes. All looked so peaceful and happy, the rustling trees
and the broad silent stretch of grainland, that it was difficult to
realize that the spirit of murder lurked through it all. Yet the
white face and set expression of the young hunter showed that in his
approach to the house he had seen enough to satisfy him upon that
head.
Ferrier carried the bag of gold and notes, Jefferson Hope had the
scanty provisions and water, while Lucy had a small bundle containing
a few of her more valued possessions. Opening the window very slowly
and carefully, they waited until a dark cloud had somewhat obscured
the night, and then one by one passed through into the little garden.
With bated breath and crouching figures they stumbled across it, and
gained the shelter of the hedge, which they skirted until they came to
the gap which opened into the cornfield. They had just reached this
point when the young man seized his two companions and dragged them
down into the shadow, where they lay silent and trembling.
It was as well that his prairie training had given Jefferson Hope
the ears of a lynx. He and his friends had hardly crouched down
before the melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was heard within a few
yards of them, which was immediately answered by another hoot at a
small distance. At the same moment a vague, shadowy figure emerged
from the gap for which they had been making, and uttered the plaintive
signal cry again, on which a second man appeared out of the
obscurity.
"To-morrow at midnight," said the first, who appeared to be in
authority. "When the whippoorwill calls three times."
"It is well," returned the other. "Shall I tell Brother
Drebber?"
"Pass it on to him, and from him to the others. Nine to seven!"
"Seven to five!" repeated the other; and the two figures flitted
away in different directions. Their concluding words had evidently
been some form of sign and countersign. The instant that their
footsteps had died away in the distance, Jefferson Hope sprang to his
feet, and helping his companions through the gap, led the way across
the fields at the top of his speed, supporting and half-carrying the
girl when her strength appeared to fail her.
"Hurry on! hurry on!" he gasped from time to time. "We are
through the line of sentinels. Everything depends on speed. Hurry
on!"
Once on the high road, they made rapid progress. Only once did
they meet anyone, and then they managed to slip into a field, and so
avoid recognition. Before reaching the town the hunter branched away
into a rugged and narrow footpath which led to the mountains. Two
dark, jagged peaks loomed above them through the darkness, and the
defile which led between them was the Eagle Canon in which the horses
were awaiting them. With unerring instinct Jefferson Hope picked his
way among the great boulders and along the bed of a dried-up
watercourse, until he came to the retired corner screened with rocks,
where the faithful animals had been picketed. The girl was placed
upon the mule, and old Ferrier upon one of the horses, with his
money-bag, while Jefferson Hope led the other along the precipitous
and dangerous path.
It was a bewildering route for anyone who was not accustomed to
face Nature in her wildest moods. On the one side a great crag
towered up a thousand feet or more, black, stern, and menacing, with
long basaltic columns upon its rugged surface like the ribs of some
petrified monster. On the other hand a wild chaos of boulders and
debris made all advance impossible. Between the two ran the irregular
tracks, so narrow in places that they had to travel in Indian file,
and so rough that only practised riders could have traversed it at
all. Yet, in spite of all dangers and difficulties, the hearts of the
fugitives were light within them, for every step increased the
distance between them and the terrible despotism from which they were
flying.
They soon had a proof, however, that they were still within the
jurisdiction of the Saints. They had reached the very wildest and
most desolate portion of the pass when the girl gave a startled cry,
and pointed upwards. On a rock which overlooked the track, showing
out dark and plain against the sky, there stood a solitary sentinel.
He saw them as soon as they perceived him, and his military challenge
of "Who goes there?" rang through the silent ravine.
"Travellers for Nevada," said Jefferson Hope, with his hand upon
the rifle which hung by his saddle.
They could see the lonely watcher fingering his gun, and peering
down at them as if dissatisfied at their reply.
"By whose permission?" he asked.
"The Holy Four," answered Ferrier. His Mormon experiences had
taught him that that was the highest authority to which he could
refer.
"Nine to seven," cried the sentinel.
"Seven to five," returned Jefferson Hope promptly, remembering
the countersign which he had heard in the garden.
"Pass, and the Lord go with you," said the voice from above.
Beyond his post the path broadened out, and the horses were able to
break into a trot. Looking back, they could see the solitary watcher
leaning upon his gun, and knew that they had passed the outlying post
of the chosen people, and that freedom lay before them.


Chapter 5

THE AVENGING ANGELS

All night their course lay through intricate defiles and over
irregular and rock-strewn paths. More than once they lost their way,
but Hope's intimate knowledge of the mountains enabled them to regain
the track once more. When morning broke, a scene of marvellous though
savage beauty lay before them. In every direction the great
snow-capped peaks hemmed them in, peeping over each other's shoulders
to the far horizon. So steep were the rocky banks on either side of
them that the larch and the pine seemed to be suspended over their
heads, and to need only a gust of wind to come hurtling down upon
them. Nor was the fear entirely an illusion, for the barren valley
was thickly strewn with trees and boulders which had fallen in a
similar manner. Even as they passed, a great rock came thundering
down with a hoarse rattle which woke the echoes in the silent gorges,
and startled the weary horses into a gallop.
As the sun rose slowly above the eastern horizon, the caps of the
great mountains lit up one after the other, like lamps at a festival,
until they were all ruddy and glowing. The magnificent spectacle
cheered the hearts of the three fugitives and gave them fresh energy.
At a wild torrent which swept out of a ravine they called a halt and
watered their horses, while they partook of a hasty breakfast. Lucy
and her father would fain have rested longer, but Jefferson Hope was
inexorable. "They will be upon our track by this time," he said.
"Everything depends upon our speed. Once safe in Carson, we may rest
for the remainder of our lives."
During the whole of that day they struggled on through the
defiles, and by evening they calculated that they were more than
thirty miles from their enemies. At night-time they chose the base of
a beetling crag, where the rocks offered some protection from the
chill wind, and there, huddled together for warmth, they enjoyed a few
hours' sleep. Before daybreak, however, they were up and on their way
once more. They had seen no signs of any pursuers, and Jefferson Hope
began to think that they were fairly out of the reach of the terrible
organization whose enmity they had incurred. He little knew how far
that iron grasp could reach, or how soon it was to close upon them and
crush them.
About the middle of the second day of their flight their scanty
store of provisions began to run out. This gave the hunter little
uneasiness, however, for there was game to be had among the mountains,
and he had frequently before had to depend upon his rifle for the
needs of life. Choosing a sheltered nook, he piled together a few
dried branches and made a blazing fire, at which his companions might
warm themselves, for they were now nearly five thousand feet above the
sea level, and the air was bitter and keen. Having tethered the
horses, and bid Lucy adieu, he threw his gun over his shoulder, and
set out in search of whatever chance might throw in his way. Looking
back, he saw the old man and the young girl crouching over the blazing
fire, while the three animals stood motionless in the background.
Then the intervening rocks hid them from his view.
He walked for a couple of miles through one ravine after another
without success, though, from the marks upon the bark of the trees,
and other indications, he judged that there were numerous bears in the
vicinity. At last, after two or three hours' fruitless search, he was
thinking of turning back in despair, when casting his eyes upwards he
saw a sight which sent a thrill of pleasure through his heart. On the
edge of a jutting pinnacle, three or four hundred feet above him,
there stood a creature somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance, but
armed with a pair of gigantic horns. The big-horn -- for so it is
called -- was acting, probably, as a guardian over a flock which were
invisible to the hunter; but fortunately it was heading in the
opposite direction, and had not perceived him. Lying on his face, he
rested his rifle upon a rock, and took a long and steady aim before
drawing the trigger. The animal sprang into the air, tottered for a
moment upon the edge of the precipice, and then came crashing down
into the valley beneath.
The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the hunter contented
himself with cutting away one haunch and part of the flank. With this
trophy over his shoulder, he hastened to retrace his steps, for the
evening was already drawing in. He had hardly started, however,
before he realized the difficulty which faced him. In his eagerness
he had wandered far past the ravines which were known to him, and it
was no easy matter to pick out the path which he had taken. The
valley in which he found himself divided and sub-divided into many
gorges, which were so like each other that it was impossible to
distinguish one from the other. He followed one for a mile or more
until he came to a mountain torrent which he was sure that he had
never seen before. Convinced that he had taken the wrong turn, he
tried another, but with the same result. Night was coming on rapidly,
and it was almost dark before he at last found himself in a defile
which was familiar to him. Even then it was no easy matter to keep to
the right track, for the moon had not yet risen, and the high cliffs
on either side made the obscurity more profound. Weighed down with
his burden, and weary from his exertions, he stumbled along, keeping
up his heart by the reflection that every step brought him nearer to
Lucy, and that he carried with him enough to ensure them food for the
remainder of their journey.
He had now come to the mouth of the very defile in which he had
left them. Even in the darkness he could recognize the outline of the
cliffs which bounded it. They must, he reflected, be awaiting him
anxiously, for he had been absent nearly five hours. In the gladness
of his heart he put his hands to his mouth and made the glen reecho to
a loud halloo as a signal that he was coming. He paused and listened
for an answer. None came save his own cry, which clattered up the
dreary, silent ravines, and was borne back to his ears in countless
repetitions. Again he shouted, even louder than before, and again no
whisper came back from the friends whom he had left such a short time
ago. A vague, nameless dread came over him, and he hurried onward
frantically, dropping the precious food in his agitation.
When he turned the corner, he came full in sight of the spot
where the fire had been lit. There was still a glowing pile of wood
ashes there, but it had evidently not been tended since his departure.
The same dead silence still reigned all round. With his fears all
changed to convictions, he hurried on. There was no living creature
near the remains of the fire: animals, man, maiden, all were gone. It
was only too clear that some sudden and terrible disaster had occurred
during his absence -- a disaster which had embraced them all, and yet
had left no traces behind it.
Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jefferson Hope felt his head
spin round, and had to lean upon his rifle to save himself from
falling. He was essentially a man of action, however, and speedily
recovered from his temporary impotence. Seizing a half-consumed piece
of wood from the smouldering fire, he blew it into a flame, and
proceeded with its help to examine the little camp. The ground was
all stamped down by the feet of horses, showing that a large party of
mounted men had overtaken the fugitives, and the direction of their
tracks proved that they had afterwards turned back to Salt Lake City.
Had they carried back both of his companions with them? Jefferson
Hope had almost persuaded himself that they must have done so, when
his eye fell upon an object which made every nerve of his body tingle
within him. A little way on one side of the camp was a low-lying heap
of reddish soil, which had assuredly not been there before. There was
no mistaking it for anything but a newly dug grave. As the young
hunter approached it, he perceived that a stick had been planted on
it, with a sheet of paper stuck in the cleft fork of it. The
inscription upon the paper was brief, but to the point:

JOHN FERRIER,
FORMERLY OF SALT LAKE CITY.
Died August 4th, 1860.

The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short a time before, was gone,
then, and this was all his epitaph. Jefferson Hope looked wildly
round to see if there was a second grave, but there was no sign of
one. Lucy had been carried back by their terrible pursuers to fulfil
her original destiny, by becoming one of the harem of an Elder's son.
As the young fellow realized the certainty of her fate, and his own
powerlessness to prevent it, he wished that he, too, was lying with
the old farmer in his last silent resting-place.
Again, however, his active spirit shook off the lethargy which
springs from despair. If there was nothing else left to him, he could
at least devote his life to revenge. With indomitable patience and
perseverance, Jefferson Hope possessed also a power of sustained
vindictiveness, which he may have learned from the Indians amongst
whom he had lived. As he stood by the desolate fire, he felt that the
only one thing which could assuage his grief would be thorough and
complete retribution, brought by his own hand upon his enemies. His
strong will and untiring energy should, he determined, be devoted to
that one end. With a grim, white face, he retraced his steps to where
he had dropped the food, and having stirred up the smouldering fire,
he cooked enough to last him for a few days. This he made up into a
bundle, and, tired as he was, he set himself to walk back through the
mountains upon the track of the Avenging Angels.
For five days he toiled footsore and weary through the defiles
which he had already traversed on horseback. At night he flung
himself down among the rocks, and snatched a few hours of sleep; but
before daybreak he was always well on his way. On the sixth day, he
reached the Eagle Canon, from which they had commenced their ill-fated
flight. Thence he could look down upon the home of the Saints. Worn
and exhausted, he leaned upon his rifle and shook his gaunt hand
fiercely at the silent widespread city beneath him. As he looked at
it, he observed that there were flags in some of the principal
streets, and other signs of festivity. He was still speculating as to
what this might mean when he heard the clatter of horse's hoofs, and
saw a mounted man riding towards him. As he approached, he recognized
him as a Mormon named Cowper, to whom he had rendered services at
different times. He therefore accosted him when he got up to him,
with the object of finding out what Lucy Ferrier's fate had been.
"I am Jefferson Hope," he said. "You remember me."
The Mormon looked at him with undisguised astonishment -- indeed,
it was difficult to recognize in this tattered, unkempt wanderer, with
ghastly white face and fierce, wild eyes, the spruce young hunter of
former days. Having, however, at last satisfied himself as to his
identity, the man's surprise changed to consternation.
"You are mad to come here," he cried. "It is as much as my own
life is worth to be seen talking with you. There is a warrant against
you from the Holy Four for assisting the Ferriers away."
"I don't fear them, or their warrant," Hope said, earnestly.
"You must know something of this matter, Cowper. I conjure you by
everything you hold dear to answer a few questions. We have always
been friends. For God's sake, don't refuse to answer me."
"What is it?" the Mormon asked, uneasily. "Be quick. The very
rocks have ears and the trees eyes."
"What has become of Lucy Ferrier?"
"She was married yesterday to young Drebber. Hold up, man, hold
up; you have no life left in you."
"Don't mind me," said Hope faintly. He was white to the very
lips, and had sunk down on the stone against which he had been
leaning. "Married, you say?"
"Married yesterday -- that's what those flags are for on the
Endowment House. There was some words between young Drebber and young
Stangerson as to which was to have her. They'd both been in the party
that followed them, and Stangerson had shot her father, which seemed
to give him the best claim; but when they argued it out in council,
Drebber's party was the stronger, so the Prophet gave her over to him.
No one won't have her very long though, for I saw death in her face
yesterday. She is more like a ghost than a woman. Are you off,
then?"
"Yes, I am off," said Jefferson Hope, who had risen from his
seat. His face might have been chiselled out of marble, so hard and
set was its expression, while its eyes glowed with a baleful light.
"Where are you going?"
"Never mind," he answered; and, slinging his weapon over his
shoulder, strode off down the gorge and so away into the heart of the
mountains to the haunts of the wild beasts. Amongst them all there
was none so fierce and so dangerous as himself.
The prediction of the Mormon was only too well fulfilled.
Whether it was the terrible death of her father or the effects of the
hateful marriage into which she had been forced, poor Lucy never held
up her head again, but pined away and died within a month. Her
sottish husband, who had married her principally for the sake of John
Ferrier's property, did not affect any great grief at his bereavement;
but his other wives mourned over her, and sat up with her the night
before the burial, as is the Mormon custom. They were grouped round
the bier in the early hours of the morning, when, to their
inexpressible fear and astonishment, the door was flung open, and a
savage-looking, weather-beaten man in tattered garments strode into
the room. Without a glance or a word to the cowering women, he walked
up to the white silent figure which had once contained the pure soul
of Lucy Ferrier. Stooping over her, he pressed his lips reverently to
her cold forehead, and then, snatching up her hand, he took the
wedding ring from her finger. "She shall not be buried in that," he
cried with a fierce snarl, and before an alarm could be raised sprang
down the stairs and was gone. So strange and so brief was the episode
that the watchers might have found it hard to believe it themselves or
persuade other people of it, had it not been for the undeniable fact
that the circlet of gold which marked her as having been a bride had
disappeared.
For some months Jefferson Hope lingered among the mountains,
leading a strange, wild life, and nursing in his heart the fierce
desire for vengeance which possessed him. Tales were told in the city
of the weird figure which was seen prowling about the suburbs, and
which haunted the lonely mountain gorges. Once a bullet whistled
through Stangerson's window and flattened itself upon the wall within
a foot of him. On another occasion, as Drebber passed under a cliff a
great boulder crashed down on him, and he only escaped a terrible
death by throwing himself upon his face. The two young Mormons were
not long in discovering the reason of these attempts upon their lives,
and led repeated expeditions into the mountains in the hope of
capturing or killing their enemy, but always without success. Then
they adopted the precaution of never going out alone or after
nightfall, and of having their houses guarded. After a time they were
able to relax these measures, for nothing was either heard or seen of
their opponent, and they hoped that time had cooled his
vindictiveness.
Far from doing so, it had, if anything, augmented it. The
hunter's mind was of a hard, unyielding nature, and the predominant
idea of revenge had taken such complete possession of it that there
was no room for any other emotion. He was, however, above all things,
practical. He soon realized that even his iron constitution could not
stand the incessant strain which he was putting upon it. Exposure and
want of wholesome food were wearing him out. If he died like a dog
among the mountains, what was to become of his revenge then? And yet
such a death was sure to overtake him if he persisted. He felt that
that was to play his enemy's game, so he reluctantly returned to the
old Nevada mines, there to recruit his health and to amass money
enough to allow him to pursue his object without privation.
His intention had been to be absent a year at the most, but a
combination of unforeseen circumstances prevented his leaving the
mines for nearly five. At the end of that time, however, his memory
of his wrongs and his craving for revenge were quite as keen as on
that memorable night when he had stood by John Ferrier's grave.
Disguised, and under an assumed name, he returned to Salt Lake City,
careless what became of his own life, as long as he obtained what he
knew to be justice. There he found evil tidings awaiting him. There
had been a schism among the Chosen People a few months before, some of
the younger members of the Church having rebelled against the
authority of the Elders, and the result had been the secession of a
certain number of the malcontents, who had left Utah and become
Gentiles. Among these had been Drebber and Stangerson; and no one
knew whither they had gone. Rumour reported that Drebber had managed
to convert a large part of his property into money, and that he had
departed a wealthy man, while his companion, Stangerson, was
comparatively poor. There was no clue at all, however, as to their
whereabouts.
Many a man, however vindictive, would have abandoned all thought
of revenge in the face of such a difficulty, but Jefferson Hope never
faltered for a moment. With the small competence he possessed, eked
out by such employment as he could pick up, he travelled from town to
town through the United States in quest of his enemies. Year passed
into year, his black hair turned grizzled, but still he wandered on, a
human bloodhound, with his mind wholly set upon the one object to
which he had devoted his life. At last his perseverance was rewarded.
It was but a glance of a face in a window, but that one glance told
him that Cleveland in Ohio possessed the men whom he was in pursuit
of. He returned to his miserable lodgings with his plan of vengeance
all arranged. It chanced, however, that Drebber, looking from his
window, had recognized the vagrant in the street, and had read murder
in his eyes. He hurried before a justice of the peace accompanied by
Stangerson, who had become his private secretary, and represented to
him that they were in danger of their lives from the jealousy and
hatred of an old rival. That evening Jefferson Hope was taken into
custody, and not being able to find sureties, was detained for some
weeks. When at last he was liberated it was only to find that
Drebber's house was deserted, and that he and his secretary had
departed for Europe.
Again the avenger had been foiled, and again his concentrated
hatred urged him to continue the pursuit. Funds were wanting,
however, and for some time he had to return to work, saving every
dollar for his approaching journey. At last, having collected enough
to keep life in him, he departed for Europe, and tracked his enemies
from city to city, working his way in any menial capacity, but never
overtaking the fugitives. When he reached St. Petersburg, they had
departed for Paris; and when he followed them there, he learned that
they had just set off for Copenhagen. At the Danish capital he was
again a few days late, for they had journeyed on to London, where he
at last succeeded in running them to earth. As to what occurred
there, we cannot do better than quote the old hunter's own account, as
duly recorded in Dr. Watson's Journal, to which we are already under
such obligations.


Chapter 6

A CONTINUATION OF THE REMINISCENCES OF
JOHN WATSON, M. D.

Our prisoner's furious resistance did not apparently indicate any
ferocity in his disposition towards ourselves, for on finding himself
powerless, he smiled in an affable manner, and expressed his hopes
that he had not hurt any of us in the scuffle. "I guess you're going
to take me to the police-station," he remarked to Sherlock Holmes.
"My cab's at the door. If you'll loose my legs I'll walk down to it.
I'm not so light to lift as I used to be."
Gregson and Lestrade exchanged glances, as if they thought this
proposition rather a bold one; but Holmes at once took the prisoner at
his word, and loosened the towel which we had bound round his ankles.
He rose and stretched his legs, as though to assure himself that they
were free once more. I remember that I thought to myself, as I eyed
him, that I had seldom seen a more powerfully built man; and his dark,
sunburned face bore an expression of determination and energy which
was as formidable as his personal strength.
"If there's a vacant place for a chief of the police, I reckon
you are the man for it," he said, gazing with undisguised admiration
at my fellow-lodger. "The way you kept on my trail was a caution."
"You had better come with me," said Holmes to the two
detectives.
"I can drive you," said Lestrade.
"Good! and Gregson can come inside with me. You too, Doctor.
You have taken an interest in the case, and may as well stick to us."
I assented gladly, and we all descended together. Our prisoner
made no attempt at escape, but stepped calmly into the cab which had
been his, and we followed him. Lestrade mounted the box, whipped up
the horse, and brought us in a very short time to our destination. We
were ushered into a small chamber, where a police inspector noted down
our prisoner's name and the names of the men with whose murder he had
been charged. The official was a white-faced, unemotional man, who
went through his duties in a dull, mechanical way. "The prisoner will
be put before the magistrates in the course of the week," he said; "in
the meantime, Mr. Jefferson Hope, have you anything that you wish to
say? I must warn you that your words will be taken down, and may be
used against you."
"I've got a good deal to say," our prisoner said slowly. "I want
to tell you gentlemen all about it."
"Hadn't you better reserve that for your trial?" asked the
inspector.
"I may never be tried," he answered. "You needn't look startled.
It isn't suicide I am thinking of. Are you a doctor?" He turned his
fierce dark eyes upon me as he asked this last question.
"Yes, I am," I answered.
"Then put your hand here," he said, with a smile, motioning with
his manacled wrists towards his chest.
I did so; and became at once conscious of an extraordinary
throbbing and commotion which was going on inside. The walls of his
chest seemed to thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside
when some powerful engine was at work. In the silence of the room I
could hear a dull humming and buzzing noise which proceeded from the
same source.
"Why," I cried, "you have an aortic aneurism!"
"That's what they call it," he said, placidly. "I went to a
doctor last week about it, and he told me that it is bound to burst
before many days passed. It has been getting worse for years. I got
it from overexposure and under-feeding among the Salt Lake Mountains.
I've done my work now, and I don't care how soon I go, but I should
like to leave some account of the business behind me. I don't want to
be remembered as a common cut-throat."
The inspector and the two detectives had a hurried discussion as
to the advisability of allowing him to tell his story.
"Do you consider, Doctor, that there is immediate danger?" the
former asked.
"Most certainly there is," I answered.
"In that case it is clearly our duty, in the interests of
justice, to take his statement," said the inspector. "You are at
liberty, sir, to give your account, which I again warn you will be
taken down."
"I'll sit down, with your leave," the prisoner said, suiting the
action to the word. "This aneurism of mine makes me easily tired, and
the tussle we had half an hour ago has not mended matters. I'm on the
brink of the grave, and I am not likely to lie to you. Every word I
say is the absolute truth, and how you use it is a matter of no
consequence to me."
With these words, Jefferson Hope leaned back in his chair and
began the following remarkable statement. He spoke in a calm and
methodical manner, as though the events which he narrated were
commonplace enough. I can vouch for the accuracy of the subjoined
account, for I have had access to Lestrade's notebook, in which the
prisoner's words were taken down exactly as they were uttered.
"It don't much matter to you why I hated these men," he said;
"it's enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings --
a father and daughter -- and that they had, therefore, forfeited their
own lives. After the lapse of time that has passed since their crime,
it was impossible for me to secure a conviction against them in any
court. I knew of their guilt though, and I determined that I should
be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. You'd have done
the same, if you have any manhood in you, if you had been in my
place.
"That girl that I spoke of was to have married me twenty years
ago. She was forced into marrying that same Drebber, and broke her
heart over it. I took the marriage ring from her dead finger, and I
vowed that his dying eyes should rest upon that very ring, and that
his last thoughts should be of the crime for which he was punished. I
have carried it about with me, and have followed him and his
accomplice over two continents until I caught them. They thought to
tire me out, but they could not do it. If I die to-morrow, as is
likely enough, I die knowing that my work in this world is done, and
well done. They have perished, and by my hand. There is nothing left
for me to hope for, or to desire.
"They were rich and I was poor, so that it was no easy matter for
me to follow them. When I got to London my pocket was about empty,
and I found that I must turn my hand to something for my living.
Driving and riding are as natural to me as walking, so I applied at a
cab-owner's office, and soon got employment. I was to bring a certain
sum a week to the owner, and whatever was over that I might keep for
myself. There was seldom much over, but I managed to scrape along
somehow. The hardest job was to learn my way about, for I reckon that
of all the mazes that ever were contrived, this city is the most
confusing. I had a map beside me, though, and when once I had spotted
the principal hotels and stations, I got on pretty well.
"It was some time before I found out where my two gentlemen were
living; but I inquired and inquired until at last I dropped across
them. They were at a boarding-house at Camberwell, over on the other
side of the river. When once I found them out, I knew that I had them
at my mercy. I had grown my beard, and there was no chance of their
recognizing me. I would dog them and follow them until I saw my
opportunity. I was determined that they should not escape me again.
"They were very near doing it for all that. Go where they would
about London, I was always at their heels. Sometimes I followed them
on my cab, and sometimes on foot, but the former was the best, for
then they could not get away from me. It was only early in the
morning or late at night that I could earn anything, so that I began
to get behindhand with my employer. I did not mind that, however, as
long as I could lay my hand upon the men I wanted.
"They were very cunning, though. They must have thought that
there was some chance of their being followed, for they would never go
out alone, and never after nightfall. During two weeks I drove behind
them every day, and never once saw them separate. Drebber himself was
drunk half the time, but Stangerson was not to be caught napping. I
watched them late and early, but never saw the ghost of a chance; but
I was not discouraged, for something told me that the hour had almost
come. My only fear was that this thing in my chest might burst a
little too soon and leave my work undone.
"At last, one evening I was driving up and down Torquay Terrace,
as the street was called in which they boarded, when I saw a cab drive
up to their door. Presently some luggage was brought out and after a
time Drebber and Stangerson followed it, and drove off. I whipped up
my horse and kept within sight of them, feeling very ill at ease, for
I feared that they were going to shift their quarters. At Euston
Station they got out, and I left a boy to hold my horse and followed
them on to the platform. I heard them ask for the Liverpool train,
and the guard answer that one had just gone, and there would not be
another for some hours. Stangerson seemed to be put out at that, but
Drebber was rather pleased than otherwise. I got so close to them in
the bustle that I could hear every word that passed between them.
Drebber said that he had a little business of his own to do, and that
if the other would wait for him he would soon rejoin him. His
companion remonstrated with him, and reminded him that they had
resolved to stick together. Drebber answered that the matter was a
delicate one, and that he must go alone. I could not catch what
Stangerson said to that, but the other burst out swearing, and
reminded him that he was nothing more than his paid servant, and that
he must not presume to dictate to him. On that the secretary gave it
up as a bad job, and simply bargained with him that if he missed the
last train he should rejoin him at Halliday's Private Hotel; to which
Drebber answered that he would be back on the platform before eleven,
and made his way out of the station.
"The moment for which I had waited so long had at last come. I
had my enemies within my power. Together they could protect each
other, but singly they were at my mercy. I did not act, however, with
undue precipitation. My plans were already formed. There is no
satisfaction in vengeance unless the offender has time to realize who
it is that strikes him, and why retribution has come upon him. I had
my plans arranged by which I should have the opportunity of making the
man who had wronged me understand that his old sin had found him out.
It chanced that some days before a gentleman who had been engaged in
looking over some houses in the Brixton Road had dropped the key of
one of them in my carriage. It was claimed that same evening, and
returned; but in the interval I had taken a moulding of it, and had a
duplicate constructed. By means of this I had access to at least one
spot in this great city where I could rely upon being free from
interruption. How to get Drebber to that house was the difficult
problem which I had now to solve.
"He walked down the road and went into one or two liquor shops,
staying for nearly half an hour in the last of them. When he came
out, he staggered in his walk, and was evidently pretty well on.
There was a hansom just in front of me, and he hailed it. I followed
it so close that the nose of my horse was within a yard of his driver
the whole way. We rattled across Waterloo Bridge and through miles of
streets, until, to my astonishment, we found ourselves back in the
terrace in which he had boarded. I could not imagine what his
intention was in returning there; but I went on and pulled up my cab a
hundred yards or so from the house. He entered it, and his hansom
drove away. Give me a glass of water, if you please. My mouth gets
dry with the talking."
I handed him the glass, and he drank it down.
"That's better," he said. "Well, I waited for a quarter of an
hour, or more, when suddenly there came a noise like people struggling
inside the house. Next moment the door was flung open and two men
appeared, one of whom was Drebber, and the other was a young chap whom
I had never seen before. This fellow had Drebber by the collar, and
when they came to the head of the steps he gave him a shove and a kick
which sent him half across the road. 'You hound!' he cried, shaking
his stick at him; 'I'll teach you to insult an honest girl!' He was
so hot that I think he would have thrashed Drebber with his cudgel,
only that the cur staggered away down the road as fast as his legs
would carry him. He ran as far as the corner, and then seeing my cab,
he hailed me and jumped in. 'Drive me to Halliday's Private Hotel,'
said he.
"When I had him fairly inside my cab, my heart jumped so with joy
that I feared lest at this last moment my aneurism might go wrong. I
drove along slowly, weighing in my own mind what it was best to do. I
might take him right out into the country, and there in some deserted
lane have my last interview with him. I had almost decided upon this,
when he solved the problem for me. The craze for drink had seized him
again, and he ordered me to pull up outside a gin palace. He went in,
leaving word that I should wait for him. There he remained until
closing time, and when he came out he was so far gone that I knew the
game was in my own hands.
"Don't imagine that I intended to kill him in cold blood. It
would only have been rigid justice if I had done so, but I could not
bring myself to do it. I had long determined that he should have a
show for his life if he chose to take advantage of it. Among the many
billets which I have filled in America during my wandering life, I was
once janitor and sweeper-out of the laboratory at York College. One
day the professor was lecturing on poisons, and he showed his students
some alkaloid, as he called it, which he had extracted from some South
American arrow poison, and which was so powerful that the least grain
meant instant death. I spotted the bottle in which this preparation
was kept, and when they were all gone, I helped myself to a little of
it. I was a fairly good dispenser, so I worked this alkaloid into
small, soluble pills, and each pill I put in a box with a similar pill
made without the poison. I determined at the time that when I had my
chance my gentlemen should each have a draw out of one of these boxes,
while I ate the pill that remained. It would be quite as deadly and a
good deal less noisy than firing across a handkerchief. From that day
I had always my pill boxes about with me, and the time had now come
when I was to use them.
"It was nearer one than twelve, and a wild, bleak night, blowing
hard and raining in torrents. Dismal as it was outside, I was glad
within -- so glad that I could have shouted out from pure exultation.
If any of you gentlemen have ever pined for a thing, and longed for it
during twenty long years, and then suddenly found it within your
reach, you would understand my feelings. I lit a cigar, and puffed at
it to steady my nerves, but my hands were trembling and my temples
throbbing with excitement. As I drove, I could see old John Ferrier
and sweet Lucy looking at me out of the darkness and smiling at me,
just as plain as I see you all in this room. All the way they were
ahead of me, one on each side of the horse until I pulled up at the
house in the Brixton Road.
"There was not a soul to be seen, nor a sound to be heard, except
the dripping of the rain. When I looked in at the window, I found
Drebber all huddled together in a drunken sleep. I shook him by the
arm, 'It's time to get out,' I said.
"'All right, cabby,' said he.
"I suppose he thought we had come to the hotel that he had
mentioned, for he got out without another word, and followed me down
the garden. I had to walk beside him to keep him steady, for he was
still a little top-heavy. When we came to the door, I opened it and
led him into the front room. I give you my word that all the way, the
father and the daughter were walking in front of us.
"'It's infernally dark,' said he, stamping about.
"'We'll soon have a light,' I said, striking a match and putting
it to a wax candle which I had brought with me. 'Now, Enoch Drebber,'
I continued, turning to him, and holding the light to my own face,
'who am I?'
"He gazed at me with bleared, drunken eyes for a moment, and then
I saw a horror spring up in them, and convulse his whole features,
which showed me that he knew me. He staggered back with a livid face,
and I saw the perspiration break out upon his brow, while his teeth
chattered in his head. At the sight I leaned my back against the door
and laughed loud and long. I had always known that vengeance would be
sweet, but I had never hoped for the contentment of soul which now
possessed me.
"'You dog!' I said; 'I have hunted you from Salt Lake City to St.
Petersburg, and you have always escaped me. Now, at last your
wanderings have come to an end, for either you or I shall never see
to-morrow's sun rise.' He shrunk still farther away as I spoke, and I
could see on his face that he thought I was mad. So I was for the
time. The pulses in my temples beat like sledge-hammers, and I
believe I would have had a fit of some sort if the blood had not
gushed from my nose and relieved me.
"'What do you think of Lucy Ferrier now?' I cried, locking the
door, and shaking the key in his face. 'Punishment has been slow in
coming, but it has overtaken you at last.' I saw his coward lips
tremble as I spoke. He would have begged for his life, but he knew
well that it was useless.
"'Would you murder me?' he stammered.
"'There is no murder,' I answered. 'Who talks of murdering a mad
dog? What mercy had you upon my poor darling, when you dragged her
from her slaughtered father, and bore her away to your accursed and
shameless harem?'
"'It was not I who killed her father,' he cried.
"'But it was you who broke her innocent heart,' I shrieked,
thrusting the box before him. 'Let the high God judge between us.
Choose and eat. There is death in one and life in the other. I shall
take what you leave. Let us see if there is justice upon the earth,
or if we are ruled by chance.'
"He cowered away with wild cries and prayers for mercy, but I
drew my knife and held it to his throat until he had obeyed me. Then
I swallowed the other, and we stood facing one another in silence for
a minute or more, waiting to see which was to live and which was to
die. Shall I ever forget the look which came over his face when the
first warning pangs told him that the poison was in his system? I
laughed as I saw it, and held Lucy's marriage ring in front of his
eyes. It was but for a moment, for the action of the alkaloid is
rapid. A spasm of pain contorted his features; he threw his hands out
in front of him, staggered, and then, with a hoarse cry, fell heavily
upon the floor. I turned him over with my foot, and placed my hand
upon his heart. There was no movement. He was dead!
"The blood had been streaming from my nose, but I had taken no
notice of it. I don't know what it was that put it into my head to
write upon the wall with it. Perhaps it was some mischievous idea of
setting the police upon a wrong track, for I felt light-hearted and
cheerful. I remember a German being found in New York with RACHE
written up above him, and it was argued at the time in the newspapers
that the secret societies must have done it. I guessed that what
puzzled the New Yorkers would puzzle the Londoners, so I dipped my
finger in my own blood and printed it on a convenient place on the
wall. Then I walked down to my cab and found that there was nobody
about, and that the night was still very wild. I had driven some
distance, when I put my hand into the pocket in which I usually kept
Lucy's ring, and found that it was not there. I was thunderstruck at
this, for it was the only memento that I had of her. Thinking that I
might have dropped it when I stooped over Drebber's body, I drove
back, and leaving my cab in a side street, I went boldly up to the
house -- for I was ready to dare anything rather than lose the ring.
When I arrived there, I walked right into the arms of a police-officer
who was coming out, and only managed to disarm his suspicions by
pretending to be hopelessly drunk.
"That was how Enoch Drebber came to his end. All I had to do
then was to do as much for Stangerson, and so pay off John Ferrier's
debt. I knew that he was staying at Halliday's Private Hotel, and I
hung about all day, but he never came out. I fancy that he suspected
something when Drebber failed to put in an appearance. He was
cunning, was Stangerson, and always on his guard. If he thought he
could keep me off by staying indoors he was very much mistaken. I
soon found out which was the window of his bedroom, and early next
morning I took advantage of some ladders which were lying in the lane
behind the hotel, and so made my way into his room in the gray of the
dawn. I woke him up and told him that the hour had come when he was
to answer for the life he had taken so long before. I described
Drebber's death to him, and I gave him the same choice of the poisoned
pills. Instead of grasping at the chance of safety which that offered
him, he sprang from his bed and flew at my throat. In self-defence I
stabbed him to the heart. It would have been the same in any case,
for Providence would never have allowed his guilty hand to pick out
anything but the poison.
"I have little more to say, and it's as well, for I am about done
up. I went on cabbing it for a day or so, intending to keep at it
until I could save enough to take me back to America. I was standing
in the yard when a ragged youngster asked if there was a cabby there
called Jefferson Hope, and said that his cab was wanted by a gentleman
at 221B, Baker Street. I went round suspecting no harm, and the next
thing I knew, this young man here had the bracelets on my wrists, and
as neatly shackled as ever I saw in my life. That's the whole of my
story, gentlemen. You may consider me to be a murderer; but I hold
that I am just as much an officer of justice as you are."
So thrilling had the man's narrative been and his manner was so
impressive that we had sat silent and absorbed. Even the professional
detectives, blase as they were in every detail of crime, appeared to
be keenly interested in the man's story. When he finished, we sat for
some minutes in a stillness which was only broken by the scratching of
Lestrade's pencil as he gave the finishing touches to his shorthand
account.
"There is only one point on which I should like a little more
information," Sherlock Holmes said at last. "Who was your accomplice
who came for the ring which I advertised?"
The prisoner winked at my friend jocosely. "I can tell my own
secrets," he said, "but I don't get other people into trouble. I saw
your advertisement, and I thought it might be a plant, or it might be
the ring which I wanted. My friend volunteered to go and see. I
think you'll own he did it smartly."
"Not a doubt of that," said Holmes, heartily.
"Now, gentlemen," the inspector remarked gravely, "the forms of
the law must be complied with. On Thursday the prisoner will be
brought before the magistrates, and your attendance will be required.
Until then I will be responsible for him." He rang the bell as he
spoke, and Jefferson Hope was led off by a couple of warders, while my
friend and I made our way out of the station and took a cab back to
Baker Street.


Chapter 7

THE CONCLUSION

We had all been warned to appear before the magistrates upon the
Thursday; but when the Thursday came there was no occasion for our
testimony. A higher Judge had taken the matter in hand, and Jefferson
Hope had been summoned before a tribunal where strict justice would be
meted out to him. On the very night after his capture the aneurism
burst, and he was found in the morning stretched upon the floor of the
cell, with a placid smile upon his face, as though he had been able in
his dying moments to look back upon a useful life, and on work well
done.
"Gregson and Lestrade will be wild about his death," Holmes
remarked, as we chatted it over next evening. "Where will their grand
advertisement be now?"
"I don't see that they had very much to do with his capture," I
answered.
"What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence,"
returned my companion, bitterly. "The question is, what can you make
people believe that you have done? Never mind," he continued, more
brightly, after a pause. "I would not have missed the investigation
for anything. There has been no better case within my recollection.
Simple as it was, there were several most instructive points about
it."
"Simple!" I ejaculated.
"Well, really, it can hardly be described as otherwise," said
Sherlock Holmes, smiling at my surprise. "The proof of its intrinsic
simplicity is, that without any help save a few very ordinary
deductions I was able to lay my hand upon the criminal within three
days."
"That is true," said I.
"I have already explained to you that what is out of the common
is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of
this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward. That is
a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not
practise it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful
to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are
fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason
analytically."
"I confess," said I, "that I do not quite follow you."
"I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make it
clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will
tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together
in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass.
There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would
be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps
were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I
talk of reasoning backward, or analytically."
"I understand," said I.
"Now this was a case in which you were given the result and had
to find everything else for yourself. Now let me endeavour to show
you the different steps in my reasoning. To begin at the beginning.
I approached the house, as you know, on foot, and with my mind
entirely free from all impressions. I naturally began by examining
the roadway, and there, as I have already explained to you, I saw
clearly the marks of a cab, which, I ascertained by inquiry, must have
been there during the night. I satisfied myself that it was a cab and
not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the wheels. The
ordinary London growler is considerably less wide than a gentleman's
brougham.
"This was the first point gained. I then walked slowly down the
garden path, which happened to be composed of a clay soil, peculiarly
suitable for taking impressions. No doubt it appeared to you to be a
mere trampled line of slush, but to my trained eyes every mark upon
its surface had a meaning. There is no branch of detective science
which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing
footsteps. Happily, I have always laid great stress upon it, and much
practice has made it second nature to me. I saw the heavy footmarks
of the constables, but I saw also the track of the two men who had
first passed through the garden. It was easy to tell that they had
been before the others, because in places their marks had been
entirely obliterated by the others coming upon the top of them. In
this way my second link was formed, which told me that the nocturnal
visitors were two in number, one remarkable for his height (as I
calculated from the length of his stride), and the other fashionably
dressed, to judge from the small and elegant impression left by his
boots.
"On entering the house this last inference was confirmed. My
well-booted man lay before me. The tall one, then, had done the
murder, if murder there was. There was no wound upon the dead man's
person, but the agitated expression upon his face assured me that he
had foreseen his fate before it came upon him. Men who die from heart
disease, or any sudden natural cause, never by any chance exhibit
agitation upon their features. Having sniffed the dead man's lips, I
detected a slightly sour smell, and I came to the conclusion that he
had had poison forced upon him. Again, I argued that it had been
forced upon him from the hatred and fear expressed upon his face. By
the method of exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other
hypothesis would meet the facts. Do not imagine that it was a very
unheard-of idea. The forcible administration of poison is by no means
a new thing in criminal annals. The cases of Dolsky in Odessa, and of
Leturier in Montpellier, will occur at once to any toxicologist.
"And now came the great question as to the reason why. Robbery
had not been the object of the murder, for nothing was taken. Was it
politics, then, or was it a woman? That was the question which
confronted me. I was inclined from the first to the latter
supposition. Political assassins are only too glad to do their work
and to fly. This murder had, on the contrary, been done most
deliberately, and the perpetrator had left his tracks all over the
room, showing that he had been there all the time. It must have been
a private wrong, and not a political one, which called for such a
methodical revenge. When the inscription was discovered upon the
wall, I was more inclined than ever to my opinion. The thing was too
evidently a blind. When the ring was found, however, it settled the
question. Clearly the murderer had used it to remind his victim of
some dead or absent woman. It was at this point that I asked Gregson
whether he had inquired in his telegram to Cleveland as to any
particular point in Mr. Drebber's former career. He answered, you
remember, in the negative.
"I then proceeded to make a careful examination of the room,
which confirmed me in my opinion as to the murderer's height, and
furnished me with the additional details as to the Trichinopoly cigar
and the length of his nails. I had already come to the conclusion,
since there were no signs of a struggle, that the blood which covered
the floor had burst from the murderer's nose in his excitement. I
could perceive that the track of blood coincided with the track of his
feet. It is seldom that any man, unless he is very full-blooded,
breaks out in this way through emotion, so I hazarded the opinion that
the criminal was probably a robust and ruddy-faced man. Events proved
that I had judged correctly.
"Having left the house, I proceeded to do what Gregson had
neglected. I telegraphed to the head of the police at Cleveland,
limiting my inquiry to the circumstances connected with the marriage
of Enoch Drebber. The answer was conclusive. It told me that Drebber
had already applied for the protection of the law against an old rival
in love, named Jefferson Hope, and that this same Hope was at present
in Europe. I knew now that I held the clue to the mystery in my hand,
and all that remained was to secure the murderer.
"I had already determined in my own mind that the man who had
walked into the house with Drebber was none other than the man who had
driven the cab. The marks in the road showed me that the horse had
wandered on in a way which would have been impossible had there been
anyone in charge of it. Where, then, could the driver be, unless he
were inside the house? Again, it is absurd to suppose that any sane
man would carry out a deliberate crime under the very eyes, as it
were, of a third person, who was sure to betray him. Lastly,
supposing one man wished to dog another through London, what better
means could he adopt than to turn cabdriver? All these considerations
led me to the irresistible conclusion that Jefferson Hope was to be
found among the jarveys of the Metropolis.
"If he had been one, there was no reason to believe that he had
ceased to be. On the contrary, from his point of view, any sudden
change would be likely to draw attention to himself. He would
probably, for a time at least, continue to perform his duties. There
was no reason to suppose that he was going under an assumed name. Why
should he change his name in a country where no one knew his original
one? I therefore organized my street Arab detective corps, and sent
them systematically to every cab proprietor in London until they
ferreted out the man that I wanted. How well they succeeded, and how
quickly I took advantage of it, are still fresh in your recollection.
The murder of Stangerson was an incident which was entirely
unexpected, but which could hardly in any case have been prevented.
Through it, as you know, I came into possession of the pills, the
existence of which I had already surmised. You see, the whole thing
is a chain of logical sequences without a break or flaw."
"It is wonderful!" I cried. "Your merits should be publicly
recognized. You should publish an account of the case. If you won't,
I will for you."
"You may do what you like, Doctor," he answered. "See here!" he
continued, handing a paper over to me, "look at this!"
It was the Echo for the day, and the paragraph to which he
pointed was devoted to the case in question.
"The public," it said, "have lost a sensational treat through the
sudden death of the man Hope, who was suspected of the murder of Mr.
Enoch Drebber and of Mr. Joseph Stangerson. The details of the case
will probably be never known now, though we are informed upon good
authority that the crime was the result of an old-standing and
romantic feud, in which love and Mormonism bore a part. It seems that
both the victims belonged, in their younger days, to the Latter Day
Saints, and Hope, the deceased prisoner, hails also from Salt Lake
City. If the case has had no other effect, it, at least, brings out
in the most striking manner the efficiency of our detective police
force, and will serve as a lesson to all foreigners that they will do
wisely to settle their feuds at home, and not to carry them on to
British soil. It is an open secret that the credit of this smart
capture belongs entirely to the well-known Scotland Yard officials,
Messrs. Lestrade and Gregson. The man was apprehended, it appears, in
the rooms of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who has himself, as an
amateur, shown some talent in the detective line and who, with such
instructors, may hope in time to attain to some degree of their skill.
It is expected that a testimonial of some sort will be presented to
the two officers as a fitting recognition of their services."
"Didn't I tell you so when we started?" cried Sherlock Holmes
with a laugh. "That's the result of all our Study in Scarlet: to get
them a testimonial!"
"Never mind," I answered; "I have all the facts in my journal,
and the public shall know them. In the meantime you must make
yourself contented by the consciousness of success, like the Roman
miser --

"Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca."



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