In glancing over the somewhat incoherent series of Memoirs with which
I have endeavoured to illustrate a few of the mental peculiarities of my
friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I have been struck by the difficulty which I
have experienced in picking out examples which shall in every way answer
my purpose. For in those cases in which Holmes has performed some tour de
force of analytical reasoning, and has demonstrated the value of his
peculiar methods of investigation, the facts themselves have often been so
slight or so commonplace that I could not feel justified in laying them
before the public. On the other hand, it has frequently happened that he
has been concerned in some research where the facts have been of the most
remarkable and dramatic character, but where the share which he has
himself taken in determining their causes has been less pronounced than I,
as his biographer, could wish. The small matter which I have chronicled
under the heading of "A Study in Scarlet," and that other later one
connected with the loss of the Gloria Scott, may serve as examples of this
Scylla and Charybdis which are forever threatening the historian. It may
be that in the business of which I am now about to write the part which my
friend played is not sufficiently accentuated; and yet the whole train of
circumstances is so remarkable that I cannot bring myself to omit it
entirely from this series.
It had been a close, rainy day in October. Our blinds were
half-drawn, and Holmes lay curled upon the sofa, reading and re-reading a
letter which he had received by the morning post. For myself, my term of
service in India had trained me to stand heat better than cold, and a
thermometer of ninety was no hardship. But the paper was uninteresting.
Parliament had risen. Everybody was out of town, and I yearned for the
glades of the New Forest or the shingle of Southsea. A depleted bank
account had caused me to postpone my holiday, and as to my companion,
neither the country nor the sea presented the slightest attraction to him.
He loved to lie in the very centre of five millions of people, with his
filaments stretching out and running through them, responsive to every
little rumour or suspicion of unsolved crime. Appreciation of nature found
no place among his many gifts, and his only change was when he turned his
mind from the evildoer of the town to track down his brother of the
Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation, I had tossed
aside the barren paper, and, leaning back in my chair I fell into a brown
study. Suddenly my companion's voice broke in upon my thoughts.
"You are right, Watson," said he. "It does seem a very preposterous
way of settling a dispute."
"Most preposterous!" I exclaimed, and then, suddenly realizing how he
had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in my chair and stared
at him in blank amazement.
"What is this, Holmes?" I cried. "This is beyond anything which I
could have imagined."
He laughed heartily at my perplexity.
"You remember," said he, "that some little time ago, when I read you
the passage in one of Poe's sketches, in which a close reasoner follows
the unspoken thoughts of his companion, you were inclined to treat the
matter as a mere tour de force of the author. On my remarking that I was
constantly in the habit of doing the same thing you expressed
"Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but certainly with
your eyebrows. So when I saw you throw down your paper and enter upon a
train of thought, I was very happy to have the opportunity of reading it
off, and eventually of breaking into it, as a proof that I had been in
rapport with you."
But I was still far from satisfied. "In the example which you read to
me," said I, "the reasoner drew his conclusions from the actions of the
man whom he observed. If I remember right, he stumbled over a heap of
stones, looked up at the stars, and so on. But I have been seated quietly
in my chair, and what clues can I have given you?"
"You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man as the
means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours are faithful
"Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my
"Your features, and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot yourself
recall how your reverie commenced?"
"No, I cannot."
"Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which was the
action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a minute with a
vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed themselves upon your newly framed
picture of General Gordon, and I saw by the alteration in your face that a
train of thought had been started. But it did not lead very far. Your eyes
turned across to the unframed portrait of Henry Ward Beecher, which stands
upon the top of your books. You then glanced up at the wall, and of course
your meaning was obvious. You were thinking that if the portrait were
framed it would just cover that bare space and correspond with Gordon's
picture over there."
"You have followed me wonderfully!" I exclaimed.
"So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your thoughts went
back to Beecher, and you looked hard across as if you were studying the
character in his features. Then your eyes ceased to pucker, but you
continued to look across, and your face was thoughtful. You were recalling
the incidents of Beecher's career. I was well aware that you could not do
this without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of the
North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember you expressing your
passionate indignation at the way in which he was received by the more
turbulent of our people. You felt so strongly about it that I knew you
could not think of Beecher without thinking of that also. When a moment
later I saw your eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your
mind had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your lips
set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clinched, I was positive that you
were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was shown by both sides in
that desperate struggle. But then, again, your face grew sadder; you shook
your head. You were dwelling upon the sadness and horror and useless waste
of life. Your hand stole towards your own old wound, and a smile quivered
on your lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of
settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind. At this
point I agreed with you that it was preposterous, and was glad to find
that all my deductions had been correct.
"Absolutely!" said I. "And now that you have explained it, I confess
that I am as amazed as before."
"It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you. I should not
have intruded it upon your attention had you not shown some incredulity
the other day. But the evening has brought a breeze with it. What do you
say to a ramble through London?"
I was weary of our little sitting-room and gladly acquiesced. For
three hours we strolled about together, watching the everchanging
kaleidoscope of life as it ebbs and flows through Fleet Street and the
Strand. His characteristic talk, with its keen observance of detail and
subtle power of inference, held me amused and enthralled. It was ten
o'clock before we reached Baker Street again. A brougham was waiting at
"Hum! A doctor's general practitioner, I perceive," said Holmes.
"Not been long in practice, but has a good deal to do. Come to consult us,
I fancy! Lucky we came back!"
I was sufficiently conversant with Holmes's methods to be able to
follow his reasoning, and to see that the nature and state of the various
medical instruments in the wicker basket which hung in the lamp-light
inside the brougham had given him the data for his swift deduction. The
light in our window above showed that this late visit was indeed intended
for us. With some curiosity as to what could have sent a brother medico to
us at such an hour, I followed Holmes into our sanctum.
A pale, taper-faced man with sandy whiskers rose up from a chair by
the fire as we entered. His age may not have been more than three or four
and thirty, but his haggard expression and unhealthy hue told of a life
which had sapped his strength and robbed him of his youth. His manner was
nervous and shy, like that of a sensitive gentleman, and the thin white
hand which he laid on the mantelpiece as he rose was that of an artist
rather than of a surgeon. His dress was quiet and sombre a black
frock-coat, dark trousers, and a touch of colour about his necktie.
"Good-evening, Doctor," said Holmes cheerily. "I am glad to see that
you have only been waiting a very few minutes."
"You spoke to my coachman, then?"
"No, it was the candle on the side-table that told me. Pray resume
your seat and let me know how I can serve you."
"My name is Dr. Percy Trevelyan," said our visitor, "and I live at
403 Brook Street."
"Are you not the author of a monograph upon obscure nervous lesions?"
His pale cheeks flushed with pleasure at hearing that his work was
known to me.
"I so seldom hear of the work that I thought it was quite dead," said
he. "My publishers gave me a most discouraging account of its sale. You
are yourself, I presume, a medical man."
"A retired army surgeon."
"My own hobby has always been nervous disease. I should wish to make
it an absolute specialty, but of course a man must take what he can get at
first. This, however, is beside the question, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and I
quite appreciate how valuable your time is. The fact is that a very
singular train of events has occurred recently at my house in Brook
Street, and to-night they came to such a head that I felt it was quite
impossible for me to wait another hour before asking for your advlce and
Sherlock Holmes sat down and lit his pipe. "You are very welcome to
both," said he. "Pray let me have a detailed account of what the
circumstances are which have disturbed you."
"One or two of them are so trivial," said Dr. Trevelyan "that really
I am almost ashamed to mention them. But the matter is so inexplicable,
and the recent turn which it has taken is so elaborate, that I shall lay
it all before you, and you shall judge what is essential and what is not.
"I am compelled, to begin with, to say something of my own college
career. I am a London University man, you know, and I am sure that you
will not think that I am unduly singing my own praises if I say that my
student career was considered by my professors to be a very promising one.
After I had graduated I continued to devote myself to research, occupying
a minor position in King's College Hospital, and I was fortunate enough to
excite considerable interest by my research into the pathology of
catalepsy, and finally to win the Bruce Pinkerton prize and medal by the
monograph on nervous lesions to which your friend has just alluded. I
should not go too far if I were to say that there was a general impression
at that time that a distinguished career lay before me.
"But the one great stumbling-block lay in my want of capital. As you
will readily understand, a specialist who aims high is compelled to start
in one of a dozen streets in the Cavendish Square quarter, all of which
entail enormous rents and furnishing expenses. Besides this preliminary
outlay, he must be prepared to keep himself for some years, and to hire a
presentable carriage and horse. To do this was quite beyond my power, and
I could only hope that by economy I might in ten years' time save enough
to enable me to put up my plate. Suddenly, however, an unexpected incident
opened up quite a new prospect to me.
"This was a visit from a gentleman of the name of Blessington, who
was a complete stranger to me. He came up into my room one morning, and
plunged into business in an instant.
" 'You are the same Percy Trevelyan who has had so distinguished a
career and won a great prize lately?' said he.
" 'Answer me frankly,' he continued, 'for you will find it to your
interest to do so. You have all the cleverness which makes a successful
man. Have you the tact?'
"I could not help smiling at the abruptness of the question.
" 'l trust that I have my share,' I said.
" 'Any bad habits? Not drawn towards drink, eh?'
" 'Really, sir!' I cried.
" 'Quite right! That's all right! But I was bound to ask. With all
these qualities, why are you not in practice?'
"I shrugged my shoulders.
" 'Come, come!' said he in his bustling way. 'It's the old story.
More in your brains than in your pocket, eh? What would you say if I were
to start you in Brook Street?'
"I stared at him in astonishment.
" 'Oh, it's for my sake, not for yours,' he cried. 'I'll be perfectly
frank with you, and if it suits you it will suit me very well. I have a
few thousands to invest, d'ye see, and I think I'll sink them in you.'
" 'But why?' I gasped.
" 'Well, it's just like any other speculation, and safer than most.'
" 'What am I to do, then?'
" 'I'll tell you. I'll take the house, furnish it, pay the maids, and
run the whole place. All you have to do is just to wear out your chair in
the consulting-room. I'll let you have pocketmoney and everything. Then
you hand over to me three quarters of what you earn, and you keep the
other quarter for yourself.'
"This was the strange proposal, Mr. Holmes, with which the man
Blessington approached me. I won't weary you with the account of how we
bargained and negotiated. It ended in my moving into the house next Lady
Day, and starting in-practice on very much the same conditions as he had
suggested. He came himself to live with me in the character of a resident
patient. His heart was weak, it appears, and he needed constant medical
supervision. He turned the two best rooms of the first floor into a
sitting-room and bedroom for himself. He was a man of singular habits,
shunning company and very seldom going out. His life was irregular, but in
one respect he was regularity itself. Every evening, at the same hour, he
walked into the consulting-room, examined the books, put down five and
three-pence for every guinea that I had earned, and carried the rest off
to the strong-box in his own room.
"I may say with confidence that he never had occasion to regret his
speculation. From the first it was a success. A few good cases and the
reputation which I had won in the hospital brought me rapidly to the
front, and during the last few years I have made him a rich man.
"So much, Mr. Holmes, for my past history and my relations with Mr.
Blessington. It only remains for me now to tell you what has occurred to
bring me here tonight.
"Some weeks ago Mr. Blessington came down to me in, as it seemed to
me, a state of considerable agitation. He spoke of some burglary which, he
said, had been committed in the West End, and he appeared, I remember, to
be quite unnecessarily excited about it, declaring that a day should not
pass before we should add stronger bolts to our windows and doors. For a
week he continued to be in a peculiar state of restlessness, peering
continually out of the windows, and ceasing to take the short walk which
had usually been the prelude to his dinner. From his manner it struck me
that he was in mortal dread of something or somebody, but when I
questioned him upon the point he became so offensive that I was compelled
to drop the subject. Gradually, as time passed, his fears appeared to die
away, and he renewed his former habits, when a fresh event reduced him to
the pitiable state of prostration in which he now lies.
"What happened was this. Two days ago I received the letter which I
now read to you. Neither address nor date is attached to it.
"A Russian nobleman who is now resident in England [it
runs], would be glad to avail himself of the professional
assistance of Dr. Percy Trevelyan. He has been for some
years a victim to cataleptic attacks, on which, as is well
known, Dr. Trevelyan is an authority. He proposes to call at
about a quarter-past six to-morrow evening, if Dr. Trevelyan
will make it convenient to be at home.
"This letter interested me deeply, because the chief difficulty in
the study of catalepsy is the rareness of the disease. You may believe,
then, that I was in my consulting-room when, at the appointed hour, the
page showed in the patient.
"He was an elderly man, thin, demure, and commonplace by no means
the conception one forms of a Russian nobleman. I was much more struck by
the appearance of his companion. This was a tall young man, surprisingly
handsome, with a dark, fierce face, and the limbs and chest of a Hercules.
He had his hand under the other's arm as they entered, and helped him to a
chair with a tenderness which one would hardly have expected from his
" 'You will excuse my coming in, Doctor,' said he to me, speaking
English with a slight lisp. 'This is my father, and his health is a matter
of the most overwhelming importance to me.'
"I was touched by this filial anxiety. 'You would, perhaps, care to
remain during the consultation?' said I.
" 'Not for the world,' he cried with a gesture of horror. 'It is more
painful to me than I can express. If I were to see my father in one of
these dreadful seizures I am convinced that I should never survive it. My
own nervous system is an exceptionally sensitive one. With your
permission, I will remain in the waiting-room while you go into my
"To this, of course, I assented, and the young man withdrew. The
patient and I then plunged into a discussion of his case, of which I took
exhaustive notes. He was not remarkable for intelligence, and his answers
were frequently obscure, which I attributed to his limited acquaintance
with our language. Suddenly, however, as I sat writing, he ceased to give
any answer at all to my inquiries, and on my turning towards him I was
shocked to see that he was sitting bolt upright in his chair, staring at
me with a perfectly blank and rigid face. He was again in the grip of his
"My first feeling, as I have just said, was one of pity and horror.
My second, I fear, was rather one of professional satisfaction. I made
notes of my patient's pulse and temperature, tested the rigidity of his
muscles. and examined his reflexes. There was nothing markedly abnormal in
any of these conditions, which harmonized with my former experiences. I
had obtained good results in such cases by the inhalation of nitrite of
amyl, and the present seemed an admirable opportunity of testing its
virtues. The bottle was downstairs in my laboratory, so, leaving my
patient seated in his chair, I ran down to get it. There was some little
delay in finding it five minutes, let us say and then I returned.
Imagine my amazement to find the room empty and the patient gone.
"Of course, my first act was to run into the waiting-room. The son
had gone also. The hall door had been closed, but not shut. My page who
admits patients is a new boy and by no means quick. He waits downstairs
and runs up to show patients out when I ring the consulting-room bell. He
had heard nothing, and the affair remained a complete mystery. Mr.
Blessington came in from his walk shortly afterwards, but I did not say
anything to him upon the subject, for, to tell the truth, I have got in
the way of late of holding as little communication with him as possible.
"Well, I never thought that I should see anything more of the Russian
and his son, so you can imagine my amazement when, at the very same hour
this evening, they both came marching into my consulting-room, just as
they had done before.
" 'I feel that I owe you a great many apologies for my abrupt
departure yesterday, Doctor,' said my patient.
" 'I confess that I was very much surprised at it,' said I.
" 'Well, the fact is,' he remarked, 'that when I recover from these
attacks my mind is always very clouded as to all that has gone before. I
woke up in a strange room, as it seemed to me, and made my way out into
the street in a sort of dazed way when you were absent.'
" 'And I,' said the son, 'seeing my father pass the door of the
waiting-room, naturally thought that the consultation had come to an end.
It was not until we had reached home that I began to realize the true
state of affairs.'
" 'Well,' said I, laughing, 'there is no harm done except that you
puzzled me terribly; so if you, sir, would kindly step into the
waiting-room I shall be happy to continue our consultation which was
brought to so abrupt an ending.'
"For half an hour or so I discussed the old gentleman's symptoms with
him, and then, having prescribed for him, I saw him go off upon the arm of
"I have told you that Mr. Blessington generally chose this hour of
the day for his exercise. He came in shortly afterwards and passed
upstairs. An instant later I heard him running down, and he burst into my
consulting-room like a man who is mad with panic.
" 'Who has been in my room?' he cried.
" 'No one,' said I.
" 'It's a lie!' he yelled. 'Come up and look!'
"I passed over the grossness of his language, as he seemed half out
of his mind with fear. When I went upstairs with him he pointed to several
footprints upon the light carpet.
" 'Do you mean to say those are mine?' he cried.
"They were certainly very much larger than any which he could have
made, and were evidently quite fresh. It rained hard this afternoon, as
you know, and my patients were the only people who called. It must have
been the case, then, that the man in the waiting-room had, for some
unknown reason, while I was busy with the other, ascended to the room of
my resident patient. Nothing had been touched or taken, but there were the
footprints to prove that the intrusion was an undoubted fact.
"Mr. Blessington seemed more excited over the matter than I should
have thought possible, though of course it was enough to disturb anybody's
peace of mind. He actually sat crying in an armchair, and I could hardly
get him to speak coherently. It was his suggestion that I should come
round to you, and of course I at once saw the propriety of it, for
certainly the incident is a very singular one, though he appears to
completely overrate its importance. If you would only come back with me in
my brougham, you would at least be able to soothe him, though I can hardly
hope that you will be able to explain this remarkable occurrence."
Sherlock Holmes had listened to this long narrative with an
intentness which showed me that his interest was keenly aroused. His face
was as impassive as ever, but his lids had drooped more heavily over his
eyes, and his smoke had curled up more thickly from his pipe to emphasize
each curious episode in the doctor's tale. As our visitor concluded,
Holmes sprang up without a word, handed me my hat, picked his own from the
table, and followed Dr. Trevelyan to the door. Within a quarter of an hour
we had been dropped at the door of the physician's residence in Brook
Street, one of those sombre, flat-faced houses which one associates with a
West End practice. A small page admitted us, and we began at once to
ascend the broad, well-carpeted stair.
But a singular interruption brought us to a standstill. The light at
the top was suddenly whisked out, and from the darkness came a reedy,
"I have a pistol," it cried. "I give you my word that I'll fire if
you come any nearer."
"This really grows outrageous, Mr. Blessington," cried Dr. Trevelyan.
"Oh, then it is you, Doctor." said the voice with a great heave of
relief. "But those other gentlemen. are they what they pretend to be ?"
We were conscious of a long scrutiny out of the darkness.
"Yes, yes, it's all right," said the voice at last. "You can come up,
and I am sorry if my precautions have annoyed you."
He relit the stair gas as he spoke, and we saw before us a
singular-looking man, whose appearance, as well as his voice, testified to
his jangled nerves. He was very fat, but had apparently at some time been
much fatter, so that the skin hung about his face in loose pouches, like
the cheeks of a bloodhound. He was of a sickly colour, and his thin, sandy
hair seemed to bristle up with the intensity of his emotion. In his hand
he held a pistol, but he thrust it into his pocket as we advanced.
"Good-evening, Mr. Holmes," said he. "I am sure I am very much
obliged to you for coming round. No one ever needed your advice more than
I do. I suppose that Dr. Trevelyan has told you of this most unwarrantable
intrusion into my rooms."
"Quite so," said Holmes. "Who are these two men, Mr. Blessington, and
why do they wish to molest you?"
"Well, well," said the resident patient in a nervous fashion, "of
course it is hard to say that. You can hardly expect me to answer that,
"Do you mean that you don't know?"
"Come in here, if you please. Just have the kindness to step in
He led the way into his bedroom, which was large and comfortably
"You see that," said he, pointing to a big black box at the end of
his bed. "I have never been a very rich man, Mr. Holmes never made but
one investment in my life, as Dr. Trevelyan would tell you. But I don't
believe in bankers. I would never trust a banker, Mr. Holmes. Between
ourselves, what little I have is in that box, so you can understand what
it means to me when unknown people force themselves into my rooms."
Holmes looked at Blessington in his questioning way and shook his head.
"I cannot possibly advise you if you try to deceive me," said he.
"But I have told you everything."
Holmes turned on his heel with a gesture of disgust. "Good-night, Dr.
Trevelyan," said he.
"And no advice for me?" cried Blessington in a breaking voice.
"My advice to you, sir, is to speak the truth."
A minute later we were in the street and walking for home. We had
crossed Oxford Street and were halfway down Harley Street before I could
get a word from my companion.
"Sorry to bring you out on such a fool's errand, Watson," he said at
last. "It is an interesting case, too, at the bottom of it."
"I can make little of it," I confessed.
"Well, it is quite evident that there are two men more perhaps,
but at least two who are determined for some reason to get at this
fellow Blessington. I have no doubt in my mind that both on the first and
on the second occasion that young man penetrated to Blessington's room,
while his confederate, by an ingenious device, kept the doctor from
"And the catalepsy?"
"A fraudulent imitation, Watson, though I should hardly dare to hint
as much to our specialist. It is a very easy complaint to imitate. I have
done it myself."
"By the purest chance Blessington was out on each occasion. Their
reason for choosing so unusual an hour for a consultation was obviously to
insure that there should be no other patient in the waiting-room. It just
happened, however, that this hour coincided with Blessington's
constitutional, which seems to show that they were not very well
acquainted with his daily routine. Of course, if they had been merely
after plunder they would at least have made some attempt to search for it.
Besides, I can read in a man's eye when it is his own skin that he is
frightened for. It is inconceivable that this fellow could have made two
such vindictive enemies as these appear to be without knowing of it. I
hold it, therefore, to be certain that he does know who these men are, and
that for reasons of his own he suppresses it. It is just possible that
to-morrow may find him in a more communicative mood. "
"Is there not one alternative," I suggested, "grotesquely im-
probable, no doubt, but still just conceivable? Might the whole story of
the cataleptic Russian and his son be a concoction of Dr. Trevelyan's, who
has, for his own purposes, been in Blessington's rooms?"
I saw in the gas-light that Holmes wore an amused smile at this
brilliant departure of mine.
"My dear fellow," said he, "it was one of the first solutions which
occurred to me, but I was soon able to corroborate the doctor's tale. This
young man has left prints upon the stair-carpet which made it quite
superfluous for me to ask to see those which he had made in the room. When
I tell you that his shoes were square-toed instead of being pointed like
Blessington's, and were quite an inch and a third longer than the
doctor's, you will acknowledge that there can be no doubt as to his
individuality. But we may sleep on it now, for I shall be surprised if we
do not hear something further from Brook Street in the morning."
Sherlock Holmes's prophecy was soon fulfilled, and in a dramatic
fashion. At half-past seven next morning, in the first dim glimmer of
daylight, I found him standing by my bedside in hls dressing-gown.
"There's a brougham waiting for us, Watson," said he.
"What's the matter, then?"
"The Brook Street business."
"Any fresh news?"
"Tragic, but ambiguous," said he, pulling up the blind. "Look at this
a sheet from a notebook, with 'For God's sake come at once. P. T.,'
scrawled upon it in pencil. Our friend, the doctor, was hard put to it
when he wrote this. Come along, my dear fellow, for it's an urgent call."
In a quarter of an hour or so we were back at the physician's house.
He came running out to meet us with a face of horror.
"Oh, such a business!" he cried with his hands to his temples.
"Blessington has committed suicide!"
"Yes, he hanged himself during the night."
We had entered, and the doctor had preceded us into what was
evidently his waiting-room.
"I really hardly know what I am doing," he cried. "The police are
already upstairs. It has shaken me most dreadfully."
"When did you find it out?"
"He has a cup of tea taken in to him early every morning. When the
maid entered, about seven, there the unfortunate fellow was hanging in the
middle of the room. He had tied his cord to the hook on which the heavy
lamp used to hang, and he had jumped off from the top of the very box that
he showed us yesterday."
Holmes stood for a moment in deep thought.
"With your permission," said he at last, "I should like to go
upstairs and look into the matter."
We both ascended, followed by the doctor.
It was a dreadful sight which met us as we entered the bedroom door.
I have spoken of the impression of flabbiness which this man Blessington
conveyed. As he dangled from the hook it was exaggerated and intensified
until he was scarce human in his appearance. The neck was drawn out like a
plucked chicken's, making the rest of him seem the more obese and
unnatural by the contrast. He was clad only in his long night-dress, and
his swollen ankles and ungainly feet protruded starkly from beneath it.
Beside him stood a smart-looking police-inspector, who was taking notes in
"Ah, Mr. Holmes," said he heartily as my friend entered, "I am
delighted to see you."
"Good-morning, Lanner," answered Holmes, "you won't think me an
intruder, I am sure. Have you heard of the events which led up to this
"Yes, I heard something of them."
"Have you formed any opinion?"
"As far as I can see, the man has been driven out of his senses by
fright. The bed has been well slept in, you see. There's his impression,
deep enough. It's about five in the morning, you know, that suicides are
most common. That would be about his time for hanging himself. It seems to
have been a very deliberate affair."
"I should say that he has been dead about three hours, judging by the
rigidity of the muscles," said I.
"Noticed anything peculiar about the room?" asked Holmes.
"Found a screw-driver and some screws on the wash-hand stand. Seems
to have smoked heavily during the night, too. Here are four cigar-ends
that I picked out of the fireplace."
"Hum!" said Holmes, "have you got his cigar-holder?"
"No, I have seen none."
"His cigar-case, then?"
"Yes, it was in his coat-pocket."
Holmes opened it and smelled the single cigar which it contained.
"Oh, this is a Havana, and these others are cigars of the peculiar
sort which are imported by the Dutch from their East Indian colonies. They
are usually wrapped in straw, you know, and are thinner for their length
than any other brand." He picked up the four ends and examined them with
"Two of these have been smoked from a holder and two without," said
he. "Two have been cut by a not very sharp knife, and two have had the
ends bitten off by a set of excellent teeth. This is no suicide, Mr.
Lanner. It is a very deeply planned and cold-blooded murder."
"Impossible!" cried the inspector.
"Why should anyone murder a man in so clumsy a fashion as by hanging him?"
"That is what we have to find out."
"How could they get in?"
"Through the front door."
"It was barred in the morning."
"Then it was barred after them."
"How do you know?"
"I saw their traces. Excuse me a moment, and I may be able to give
you some further information about it."
He went over to the door, and turning the lock he examined it in his
methodical way. Then he took out the key, which was on the inside. and
inspected that also. The bed, the carpet, the chairs, the mantelpiece, the
dead body, and the rope were each in turn examined, until at last he
professed himself satisfied, and with my aid and that of the inspector cut
down the wretched object and laid it reverently under a sheet.
"How about this rope?" he asked.
"It is cut off this," said Dr. Trevelyan, drawing a large coil from
under the bed. "He was morbidly nervous of fire, and always kept this
beside him, so that he might escape by the window in case the stairs were
"That must have saved them trouble," said Holmes thought-fully. "Yes,
the actual facts are very plain, and I shall be surprised if by the
afternoon I cannot give you the reasons for them as well. I will take this
photograph of Blessington, which I see upon the mantelpiece, as it may
help me in my inquiries."
"But you have told us nothing!" cried the doctor.
"Oh, there can be no doubt as to the sequence of events," said
Holmes. "There were three of them in it: the young man, the old man, and a
third, to whose identity I have no clue. The first two, I need hardly
remark, are the same who masqueraded as the Russian count and his son, so
we can give a very full description of them. They were admitted by a
confederate inside the house. If I might offer you a word of advice.
Inspector, it would be to arrest the page. who, as I understand, has only
recently come into your service, Doctor."
"The young imp cannot be found," said Dr. Trevelyan; "the maid and
the cook have just been searching for him."
Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
"He has played a not unimportant part in this drama," said he. "The
three men having ascended the stairs, which they did on tiptoe, the elder
man first, the younger man second, and the unknown man in the rear "
"My dear Holmes!" I ejaculated.
"Oh, there could be no question as to the superimposing of the
footmarks. I had the advantage of learning which was which last night.
They ascended, then, to Mr. Blessington's room, the door of which they
found to be locked. With the help of a wire, however, they forced round
the key. Even without the lens you will perceive, by the scratches on this
ward, where the pressure was applied.
"On entering the room their first proceeding must have been to gag
Mr. Blessington. He may have been asleep, or he may have been so paralyzed
with terror as to have been unable to cry out. These walls are thick, and
it is conceivable that his shriek, if he had time to utter one, was
"Having secured him, it is evident to me that a consultation of some
sort was held. Probably it was something in the nature of a judicial
proceeding. It must have lasted for some time, for it was then that these
cigars were smoked. The older man sat in that wicker chair; it was he who
used the cigar-holder. The younger man sat over yonder; he knocked his ash
off against the chest of drawers. The third follow paced up and down.
Blessington, I think, sat upright in the bed, but of that I cannot be
"Well, it ended by their taking Blessington and hanging him. The
matter was so prearranged that it is my belief that they brought with them
some sort of block or pulley which might serve as a gallows. That
screw-driver and those screws were, as I conceive, for fixing it up.
Seeing the hook, however, they naturally saved themselves the trouble.
Having finished their work they made off, and the door was barred behind
them by their confederate."
We had all listened with the deepest interest to this sketch of the
night's doings, which Holmes had deduced from signs so subtle and minute
that, even when he had pointed them out to us, we could scarcely follow
him in his reasonings. The inspector hurried away on the instant to make
inquiries about the page. while Holmes and I returned to Baker Street for
"I'll be back by three," said he when we had finished our meal. "Both
the inspector and the doctor will meet me here at that hour, and I hope by
that time to have cleared up any little obscurity which the case may still
Our visitors arrived at the appointed time, but it was a quarter to
four before my friend put in an appearance. From his expression as he
entered, however, I could see that all had gone well with him.
"Any news, Inspector?"
"We have got the boy, sir."
"Excellent, and I have got the men."
"You have got them!" we cried, all three.
"Well, at least I have got their identity. This so-called Blessington
is, as I expected, well known at headquarters, and so are his assailants.
Their names are Biddle, Hayward, and Moffat."
"The Worthingdon bank gang," cried the inspector.
"Precisely," said Holmes.
"Then Blessington must have been Sutton."
"Exactly," said Holmes.
"Why, that makes it as clear as crystal," said the inspector.
But Trevelyan and I looked at each other in bewilderment.
"You must surely remember the great Worthingdon bank business," said
Holmes. "Five men were in it these four and a fifth called Cartwright.
Tobin, the caretaker, was murdered, and the thieves got away with seven
thousand pounds. This was in 1875. They were all five arrested, but the
evidence against them was by no means conclusive. This Blessington or
Sutton, who was the worst of the gang, turned informer. On his evidence
Cartwright was hanged and the other three got fifteen years apiece. When
they got out the other day, which was some years before their full term,
they set themselves, as you perceive, to hunt down the traitor and to
avenge the death of their comrade upon him. Twice they tried to get at him
and failed; a third time you see, it came off. Is there anything further
which I can explain, Dr. Trevelyan?"
"I think you have made it all remarkably clear," said the doctor. "No
doubt the day on which he was so perturbed was the day when he had seen of
their release in the newspapers."
"Quite so. His talk about a burglary was the merest blind."
"But why could he not tell you this?"
"Well, my dear sir, knowing the vindictive character of his old
associates, he was trying to hide his own identity from everybody as long
as he could. His secret was a shameful one and he could not bring himself
to divulge it. However, wretch as he was, he was still living under the
shield of British law, and I have no doubt, Inspector, that you will see
that, though that shield may fail to guard, the sword of justice is still
there to avenge."
Such were the singular circumstances in connection with the Resident
Patient and the Brook Street Doctor. From that night nothing has been seen
of the three murderers by the police, and it is surmised at Scotland Yard
that they were among the passengers of the ill-fated steamer Norah Creina,
which was lost some years ago with all hands upon the Portuguese coast,
some leagues to the north of Oporto. The proceedings against the page
broke down for want of evidence, and the Brook Street Mystery, as it was
called, has never until now been fully dealt with in any public print.