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Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Author Conan Doyle

Part 6 out of 7

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be speaking to you now. She has nursed me by day and
a hired nurse has looked after me by night, for in my
mad fits I was capable of anything. Slowly my reason
has cleared, but it is only during the last three days
that my memory has quite returned. Sometimes I wish
that it never had. The first thing that I did was to
wire to Mr. Forbes, who had the case in hand. He came
out, and assures me that, though everything has been
done, no trace of a clue has been discovered. The
commissionnaire and his wife have been examined in
every way without any light being thrown upon the
matter. The suspicions of the police then rested upon
young Gorot, who, as you may remember, stayed over
time in the office that night. His remaining behind
and his French name were really the only two points
which could suggest suspicion; but, as a matter of
fact, I did not begin work until he had gone, and his
people are of Huguenot extraction, but as English in
sympathy and tradition as you and I are. Nothing was
found to implicate him in any way, and there the
matter dropped. I turn to you, Mr. Holmes, as
absolutely my last hope. If you fail me, then my
honor as well as my position are forever forfeited."

The invalid sank back upon his cushions, tired out by
this long recital, while his nurse poured him out a
glass of some stimulating medicine. Holmes sat
silently, with his head thrown back and his eyes
closed, in an attitude which might seem listless to a
stranger, but which I knew betokened the most intense

"You statement has been so explicit," said he at last,
"that you have really left me very few questions to
ask. There is one of the very utmost importance,
however. Did you tell any one that you had this
special task to perform?"

"No one."

"Not Miss Harrison here, for example?"

"No. I had not been back to Woking between getting
the order and executing the commission."

"And none of your people had by chance been to see


"Did any of them know their way about in the office?"

"Oh, yes, all of them had been shown over it."

"Still, of course, if you said nothing to any one
about the treaty these inquiries are irrelevant."

"I said nothing."

"Do you know anything of the commissionnaire?"

"Nothing except that he is an old soldier."

"What regiment?"

"Oh, I have heard--Coldstream Guards."

"Thank you. I have no doubt I can get details from
Forbes. The authorities are excellent at amassing
facts, though they do not always use them to
advantage. What a lovely thing a rose is!"

He walked past the couch to the open window, and held
up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at
the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new
phase of his character to me, for I had never before
seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.

"There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary
as in religion," said he, leaning with his back
against the shutters. "It can be built up as an exact
science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the
goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the
flowers. All other things, our powers our desires,
our food, are all really necessary for our existence
in the first instance. But this rose is an extra.
Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life,
not a condition of it. It is only goodness which
gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to
hope from the flowers.

Percy Phelps and his nurse looked at Holmes during
this demonstration with surprise and a good deal of
disappointment written upon their faces. He had
fallen into a reverie, with the moss-rose between his
fingers. It had lasted some minutes before the young
lady broke in upon it.

"Do you see any prospect of solving this mystery, Mr.
Holmes?" she asked, with a touch of asperity in her

"Oh, the mystery!" he answered, coming back with a
start to the realities of life. "Well, it would be
absurd to deny that the case is a very abstruse and
complicated one, but I can promise you that I will
look into the matter and let you know any points which
may strike me."

"Do you see any clue?"

"You have furnished me with seven, but, of course, I
must test them before I can pronounce upon their

"You suspect some one?"

"I suspect myself."


"Of coming to conclusions too rapidly."

"Then go to London and test your conclusions."

"Your advice is very excellent, Miss Harrison," said
Holmes, rising. "I think, Watson, we cannot do
better. Do not allow yourself to indulge in false
hopes, Mr. Phelps. The affair is a very tangled one."

"I shall be in a fever until I see you again," cried
the diplomatist.

"Well, I'll come out be the same train to-morrow,
though it's more than likely that my report will be a
negative one."

"God bless you for promising to come," cried our
client. "It gives me fresh life to know that
something is being done. By the way, I have had a
letter from Lord Holdhurst."

"Ha! What did he say?"

"He was cold, but not harsh. I dare say my severe
illness prevented him from being that. He repeated
that the matter was of the utmost importance, and
added that no steps would be taken about my future--by
which he means, of course, my dismissal--until my
health was restored and I had an opportunity of
repairing my misfortune."

"Well, that was reasonable and considerate," said
Holmes. "Come, Watson, for we have a goody day's work
before us in town."

Mr. Joseph Harrison drove us down to the station, and
we were soon whirling up in a Portsmouth train.
Holmes was sunk in profound thought, and hardly opened
his mouth until we had passed Clapham Junction.

"It's a very cheery thing to come into London by any
of these lines which run high, and allow you to look
down upon the houses like this."

I thought he was joking, for the view was sordid
enough, but he soon explained himself.

"Look at those big, isolated clumps of building rising
up above the slates, like brick islands in a
lead-colored sea."

"The board-schools."

"Light-houses, my boy! Beacons of the future!
Capsules with hundreds of bright little seeds in each,
out of which will spring the wise, better England of
the future. I suppose that man Phelps does not

"I should not think so."

"Nor should I, but we are bound to take every
possibility into account. The poor devil has
certainly got himself into very deep water, and it's a
question whether we shall ever be able to get him
ashore. What did you think of Miss Harrison?"

"A girl of strong character."

"Yes, but she is a good sort, or I am mistaken. She
and her brother are the only children of an
iron-master somewhere up Northumberland way. He got
engaged to her when traveling last winter, and she
came down to be introduced to his people, with her
brother as escort. Then came the smash, and she
stayed on to nurse her lover, while brother Joseph,
finding himself pretty snug, stayed on too. I've been
making a few independent inquiries, you see. But
to-day must be a day of inquiries."

"My practice--" I began.

"Oh, if you find your own cases more interesting than
mine--" said Holmes, with some asperity.

"I was going to say that my practice could get along
very well for a day or two, since it is the slackest
time in the year."

"Excellent," said he, recovering his good-humor.
"Then we'll look into this matter together. I think
that we should begin be seeing Forbes. He can
probably tell us all the details we want until we know
from what side the case is to be approached.

"You said you had a clue?"

"Well, we have several, but we can only test their
value by further inquiry. The most difficult crime to
track is the one which is purposeless. Now this is
not purposeless. Who is it who profits by it? There
is the French ambassador, there is the Russian, there
is who-ever might sell it to either of these, and
there is Lord Holdhurst."

"Lord Holdhurst!"

"Well, it is just conceivable that a statesman might
find himself in a position where he was not sorry to
have such a document accidentally destroyed."

"Not a statesman with the honorable record of Lord

"It is a possibility and we cannot afford to disregard
it. We shall see the noble lord to-day and find out
if he can tell us anything. Meanwhile I have already
set inquiries on foot."


"Yes, I sent wires from Woking station to every
evening paper in London. This advertisement will
appear in each of them."

He handed over a sheet torn from a note-book. On it
was scribbled in pencil: "L10 reward. The number of
the cab which dropped a fare at or about the door of
the Foreign Office in Charles Street at quarter to ten
in the evening of May 23d. Apply 221 B, Baker

"You are confident that the thief came in a cab?"

"If not, there is no harm done. But if Mr. Phelps is
correct in stating that there is no hiding-place
either in the room or the corridors, then the person
must have come from outside. If he came from outside
on so wet a night, and yet left no trace of damp upon
the linoleum, which was examined within a few minutes
of his passing, then it is exceeding probably that he
came in a cab. Yes, I think that we may safely deduce
a cab."

"It sounds plausible."

"That is one of the clues of which I spoke. It may
lead us to something. And then, of course, there is
the bell--which is the most distinctive feature of the
case. Why should the bell ring? Was it the thief who
did it out of bravado? Or was it some one who was
with the thief who did it in order to prevent the
crime? Or was it an accident? Or was it--?" He sank
back into the state of intense and silent thought from
which he had emerged; but it seemed to me, accustomed
as I was to his every mood, that some new possibility
had dawned suddenly upon him.

It was twenty past three when we reached our terminus,
and after a hasty luncheon at the buffet we pushed on
at once to Scotland Yard. Holmes had already wired to
Forbes, and we found him waiting to receive us--a
small, foxy man with a sharp but by no means amiable
expression. He was decidedly frigid in his manner to
us, especially when he heard the errand upon which we
had come.

"I've heard of your methods before now, Mr. Holmes,"
said he, tartly. "You are ready enough to use all the
information that the police can lay at your disposal,
and then you try to finish the case yourself and bring
discredit on them."

"On the contrary," said Holmes, "out of my last
fifty-three cases my name has only appeared in four,
and the police have had all the credit in forty-nine.
I don't blame you for not knowing this, for you are
young and inexperienced, but if you wish to get on in
your new duties you will work with me and not against

"I'd be very glad of a hint or two," said the
detective, changing his manner. "I've certainly had
no credit from the case so far."

"What steps have you taken?"

"Tangey, the commissionnaire, has been shadowed. He
left the Guards with a good character and we can find
nothing against him. His wife is a bad lot, though.
I fancy she knows more about this than appears."

"Have you shadowed her?"

"We have set one of our women on to her. Mrs. Tangey
drinks, and our woman has been with her twice when she
was well on, but she could get nothing out of her."

"I understand that they have had brokers in the

"Yes, but they were paid off."

"Where did the money come from?"

"That was all right. His pension was due. They have
not shown any sign of being in funds."

"What explanation did she give of having answered the
bell when Mr. Phelps rang for the coffee?"

"She said that he husband was very tired and she
wished to relieve him."

"Well, certainly that would agree with his being found
a little later asleep in his chair. There is nothing
against them then but the woman's character. Did you
ask her why she hurried away that night? Her haste
attracted the attention of the police constable."

"She was later than usual and wanted to get home."

"Did you point out to her that you and Mr. Phelps, who
started at least twenty minutes after he, got home
before her?"

"She explains that by the difference between a 'bus
and a hansom."

"Did she make it clear why, on reaching her house, she
ran into the back kitchen?"

"Because she had the money there with which to pay off
the brokers."

"She has at least an answer for everything. Did you
ask her whether in leaving she met any one or saw any
one loitering about Charles Street?"

"She saw no one but the constable."

"Well, you seem to have cross-examined her pretty
thoroughly. What else have you done?"

"The clerk Gorot has been shadowed all these nine
weeks, but without result. We can show nothing
against him."

"Anything else?"

"Well, we have nothing else to go upon--no evidence of
any kind."

"Have you formed a theory about how that bell rang?"

"Well, I must confess that it beats me. It was a cool
hand, whoever it was, to go and give the alarm like

"Yes, it was queer thing to do. Many thanks to you
for what you have told me. If I can put the man into
your hands you shall hear from me. Come along,

"Where are we going to now?" I asked, as we left the

"We are now going to interview Lord Holdhurst, the
cabinet minister and future premier of England."

We were fortunate in finding that Lord Holdhurst was
still in his chambers in Downing Street, and on Holmes
sending in his card we were instantly shown up. The
statesman received us with that old-fashioned courtesy
for which he is remarkable, and seated us on the two
luxuriant lounges on either side of the fireplace.
Standing on the rug between us, with his slight, tall
figure, his sharp features, thoughtful face, and
curling hair prematurely tinged with gray, he seemed
to represent that not to common type, a nobleman who
is in truth noble.

"Your name is very familiar to me, Mr. Holmes," said
he, smiling. "And, of course, I cannot pretend to be
ignorant of the object of your visit. There has only
been one occurrence in these offices which could call
for your attention. In whose interest are you acting,
may I ask?"

"In that of Mr. Percy Phelps," answered Holmes.

"Ah, my unfortunate nephew! You can understand that
our kinship makes it the more impossible for me to
screen him in any way. I fear that the incident must
have a very prejudicial effect upon his career."

"But if the document is found?"

"Ah, that, of course, would be different."

"I had one or two questions which I wished to ask you,
Lord Holdhurst."

"I shall be happy to give you any information in my

"Was it in this room that you gave your instructions
as to the copying of the document?"

"It was."

"Then you could hardly have been overheard?"

"It is out of the question."

"Did you ever mention to any one that it was your
intention to give any one the treaty to be copied?"


"You are certain of that?"


"Well, since you never said so, and Mr. Phelps never
said so, and nobody else knew anything of the matter,
then the thief's presence in the room was purely
accidental. He saw his chance and he took it."

The statesman smiled. "You take me out of my province
there," said he.

Holmes considered for a moment. "There is another
very important point which I wish to discuss with
you," said he. "You feared, as I understand, that
very grave results might follow from the details of
this treaty becoming known."

A shadow passed over the expressive face of the
statesman. "Very grave results indeed."

"Any have they occurred?"

"Not yet."

"If the treaty had reached, let us say, the French or
Russian Foreign Office, you would expect to hear of

"I should," said Lord Holdhurst, with a wry face.

"Since nearly ten weeks have elapsed, then, and
nothing has been heard, it is not unfair to suppose
that for some reason the treaty has not reached them."

Lord Holdhurst shrugged his shoulders.

"We can hardly suppose, Mr. Holmes, that the thief
took the treaty in order to frame it and hang it up."

"Perhaps he is waiting for a better price."

"If he waits a little longer he will get no price at
all. The treaty will cease to be secret in a few

"That is most important," said Holmes. "Of course, it
is a possible supposition that the thief has had a
sudden illness--"

"An attack of brain-fever, for example?" asked the
statesman, flashing a swift glance at him.

"I did not say so," said Holmes, imperturbably. "And
now, Lord Holdhurst, we have already taken up too much
of your valuable time, and we shall wish you

"Every success to your investigation, be the criminal
who it may," answered the nobleman, as he bowed us out
the door.

"He's a fine fellow," said Holmes, as we came out into
Whitehall. "But he has a struggle to keep up his
position. He is far from rich and has many calls.
You noticed, of course, that his boots had been
resoled. Now, Watson, I won't detain you from your
legitimate work any longer. I shall do nothing more
to-day, unless I have an answer to my cab
advertisement. But I should be extremely obliged to
you if you would come down with me to Woking
to-morrow, by the same train which we took yesterday."

I met him accordingly next morning and we traveled
down to Woking together. He had had no answer to his
advertisement, he said, and no fresh light had been
thrown upon the case. He had, when he so willed it,
the utter immobility of countenance of a red Indian,
and I could not gather from his appearance whether he
was satisfied or not with the position of the case.
His conversation, I remember, was about the Bertillon
system of measurements, and he expressed his
enthusiastic admiration of the French savant.

We found our client still under the charge of his
devoted nurse, but looking considerably better than
before. He rose from the sofa and greeted us without
difficulty when we entered.

"Any news?" he asked, eagerly.

"My report, as I expected, is a negative one," said
Holmes. "I have seen Forbes, and I have seen your
uncle, and I have set one or two trains of inquiry
upon foot which may lead to something."

"You have not lost heart, then?"

"By no means."

"God bless you for saying that!" cried Miss Harrison.
"If we keep our courage and our patience the truth
must come out."

"We have more to tell you than you have for us," said
Phelps, reseating himself upon the couch.

"I hoped you might have something."

"Yes, we have had an adventure during the night, and
one which might have proved to be a serious one." His
expression grew very grave as he spoke, and a look of
something akin to fear sprang up in his eyes. "Do you
know," said he, "that I begin to believe that I am the
unconscious centre of some monstrous conspiracy, and
that my life is aimed at as well as my honor?"

"Ah!" cried Holmes.

"It sounds incredible, for I have not, as far as I
know, an enemy in the world. Yet from last night's
experience I can come to no other conclusion."

"Pray let me hear it."

"You must know that last night was the very first
night that I have ever slept without a nurse in the
room. I was so much better that I thought I could
dispense with one. I had a night-light burning,
however. Well, about two in the morning I had sunk
into a light sleep when I was suddenly aroused by a
slight noise. It was like the sound which a mouse
makes when it is gnawing a plank, and I lay listening
to it for some time under the impression that it must
come from that cause. Then it grew louder, and
suddenly there came from the window a sharp metallic
snick. I sat up in amazement. There could be no
doubt what the sounds were now. The first ones had
been caused by some one forcing an instrument through
the slit between the sashes, and the second by the
catch being pressed back.

"There was a pause then for about ten minutes, as if
the person were waiting to see whether the noise had
awakened me. Then I heard a gentle creaking as the
window was very slowly opened. I could stand it no
longer, for my nerves are not what they used to be. I
sprang out of bed and flung open the shutters. A man
was crouching at the window. I could see little of
him, for he was gone like a flash. He was wrapped in
some sort of cloak which came across the lower part of
his face. One thing only I am sure of, and that is
that he had some weapon in his hand. It looked to me
like a long knife. I distinctly saw the gleam of it
as he turned to run."

"This is most interesting," said Holmes. "Pray what
did you do then?"

"I should have followed him through the open window if
I had been stronger. As it was, I rang the bell and
roused the house. It took me some little time, for
the bell rings in the kitchen and the servants all
sleep upstairs. I shouted, however, and that brought
Joseph down, and he roused the others. Joseph and the
groom found marks on the bed outside the window, but
the weather has been so dry lately that they found it
hopeless to follow the trail across the grass.
There's a place, however, on the wooden fence which
skirts the road which shows signs, they tell me, as if
some one had got over, and had snapped the top of the
rail in doing so. I have said nothing to the local
police yet, for I thought I had best have your opinion

This tale of our client's appeared to have an
extraordinary effect upon Sherlock Holmes. He rose
from his chair and paced about the room in
uncontrollable excitement.

"Misfortunes never come single," said Phelps, smiling,
though it was evident that his adventure had somewhat
shaken him.

"You have certainly had your share," said Holmes. "Do
you think you could walk round the house with me?"

"Oh, yes, I should like a little sunshine. Joseph
will come, too."

"And I also," said Miss Harrison.

"I am afraid not," said Holmes, shaking his head. "I
think I must ask you to remain sitting exactly where
you are."

The young lady resumed her seat with an air of
displeasure. Her brother, however, had joined us and
we set off all four together. We passed round the
lawn to the outside of the young diplomatist's window.
There were, as he had said, marks upon the bed, but
they were hopelessly blurred and vague. Holmes
stopped over them for an instant, and then rose
shrugging his shoulders.

"I don't think any one could make much of this," said
he. "Let us go round the house and see why this
particular room was chose by the burglar. I should
have thought those larger windows of the drawing-room
and dining-room would have had more attractions for

"They are more visible from the road," suggested Mr.
Joseph Harrison.

"Ah, yes, of course. There is a door here which he
might have attempted. What is it for?"

"It is the side entrance for trades-people. Of course
it is locked at night."

"Have you ever had an alarm like this before?"

"Never," said our client.

"Do you keep plate in the house, or anything to
attract burglars?"

"Nothing of value."

Holmes strolled round the house with his hands in his
pockets and a negligent air which was unusual with

"By the way," said he to Joseph Harrison, "you found
some place, I understand, where the fellow scaled the
fence. Let us have a look at that!"

The plump young man led us to a spot where the top of
one of the wooden rails had been cracked. A small
fragment of the wood was hanging down. Holmes pulled
it off and examined it critically.

"Do you think that was done last night? It looks
rather old, does it not?"

"Well, possibly so."

"There are no marks of any one jumping down upon the
other side. No, I fancy we shall get no help here.
Let us go back to the bedroom and talk the matter

Percy Phelps was walking very slowly, leaning upon the
arm of his future brother-in-law. Holmes walked
swiftly across the lawn, and we were at the open
window of the bedroom long before the others came up.

"Miss Harrison," said Holmes, speaking with the utmost
intensity of manner, "you must stay where you are all
day. Let nothing prevent you from staying where you
are all day. It is of the utmost importance."

"Certainly, if you wish it, Mr. Holmes," said the girl
in astonishment.

"When you go to bed lock the door of this room on the
outside and keep the key. Promise to do this."

"But Percy?"

"He will come to London with us."

"And am I to remain here?"

"It is for his sake. You can serve him. Quick!

She gave a quick nod of assent just as the other two
came up.

"Why do you sit moping there, Annie?" cried her
brother. "Come out into the sunshine!"

"No, thank you, Joseph. I have a slight headache and
this room is deliciously cool and soothing."

"What do you propose now, Mr. Holmes?" asked our

"Well, in investigating this minor affair we must not
lose sight of our main inquiry. It would be a very
great help to me if you would come up to London with

"At once?"

"Well, as soon as you conveniently can. Say in an

"I feel quite strong enough, if I can really be of any

"The greatest possible."

"Perhaps you would like me the stay there to-night?"

"I was just going to propose it."

"Then, if my friend of the night comes to revisit me,
he will find the bird flown. We are all in your
hands, Mr. Holmes, and you must tell us exactly what
you would like done. Perhaps you would prefer that
Joseph came with us so as to look after me?"

"Oh, no; my friend Watson is a medical man, you know,
and he'll look after you. We'll have our lunch here,
if you will permit us, and then we shall all three set
off for town together."

It was arranged as he suggested, though Miss Harrison
excused herself from leaving the bedroom, in
accordance with Holmes's suggestion. What the object
of my friend's manoeuvres was I could not conceive,
unless it were to keep the lady away from Phelps, who,
rejoiced by his returning health and by the prospect
of action, lunched with us in the dining-room. Holmes
had still more startling surprise for us, however,
for, after accompanying us down to the station and
seeing us into our carriage, he calmly announced that
he had no intention of leaving Woking.

"There are one or two small points which I should
desire to clear up before I go," said he. "Your
absence, Mr. Phelps, will in some ways rather assist
me. Watson, when you reach London you would oblige me
by driving at once to Baker Street with our friend
here, and remaining with him until I see you again.
It is fortunate that you are old school-fellows, as
you must have much to talk over. Mr. Phelps can have
the spare bedroom to-night, and I will be with you in
time for breakfast, for there is a train which will
take me into Waterloo at eight."

"But how about our investigation in London?" asked
Phelps, ruefully.

"We can do that to-morrow. I think that just at
present I can be of more immediate use here."

"You might tell them at Briarbrae that I hope to be
back to-morrow night," cried Phelps, as we began to
move from the platform.

"I hardly expect to go back to Briarbrae," answered
Holmes, and waved his hand to us cheerily as we shot
out from the station.

Phelps and I talked it over on our journey, but
neither of us could devise a satisfactory reason for
this new development.

"I suppose he wants to find out some clue as to the
burglary last night, if a burglar it was. For myself,
I don't believe it was an ordinary thief."

"What is your own idea, then?"

"Upon my word, you may put it down to my weak nerves
or not, but I believe there is some deep political
intrigue going on around me, and that for some reason
that passes my understanding my life is aimed at by
the conspirators. It sounds high-flown and absurd,
but consider the fats! Why should a thief try to
break in at a bedroom window, where there could be no
hope of any plunder, and why should he come with a
long knife in his hand?"

"You are sure it was not a house-breaker's jimmy?"

"Oh, no, it was a knife. I saw the flash of the blade
quite distinctly."

"But why on earth should you be pursued with such

"Ah, that is the question."

"Well, if Holmes takes the same view, that would
account for his action, would it not? Presuming that
your theory is correct, if he can lay his hands upon
the man who threatened you last night he will have
gone a long way towards finding who took the naval
treaty. It is absurd to suppose that you have two
enemies, one of whom robs you, while the other
threatens your life."

"But Holmes said that he was not going to Briarbrae."

"I have known him for some time," said I, "but I never
knew him do anything yet without a very good reason,"
and with that our conversation drifted off on to other

But it was a weary day for me. Phelps was still weak
after his long illness, and his misfortune made him
querulous and nervous. In vain I endeavored to
interest him in Afghanistan, in India, in social
questions, in anything which might take his mind out
of the groove. He would always come back to his lost
treaty, wondering, guessing, speculating, as to what
Holmes was doing, what steps Lord Holdhurst was
taking, what news we should have in the morning. As
the evening wore on his excitement became quite

"You have implicit faith in Holmes?" he asked.

"I have seen him do some remarkable things."

"But he never brought light into anything quite so
dark as this?"

"Oh, yes; I have known him solve questions which
presented fewer clues than yours."

"But not where such large interests are at stake?"

"I don't know that. To my certain knowledge he has
acted on behalf of three of the reigning houses of
Europe in very vital matters."

"But you know him well, Watson. He is such an
inscrutable fellow that I never quite know what to
make of him. Do you think he is hopeful? Do you
think he expects to make a success of it?"

"He has said nothing."

"That is a bad sign."

"On the contrary, I have noticed that when he is off
the trail he generally says so. It is when he is on a
scent and is not quite absolutely sure yet that it is
the right one that he is most taciturn. Now, my dear
fellow, we can't help matters by making ourselves
nervous about them, so let me implore you to go to bed
and so be fresh for whatever may await us to-morrow."

I was able at last to persuade my companion to take my
advice, though I knew from his excited manner that
there was not much hope of sleep for him. Indeed, his
mood was infectious, for I lay tossing half the night
myself, brooding over this strange problem, and
inventing a hundred theories, each of which was more
impossible than the last. Why had Holmes remained at
Woking? Why had he asked Miss Harrison to remain in
the sick-room all day? Why had he been so careful not
to inform the people at Briarbrae that he intended to
remain near them? I cudgelled my brains until I fell
asleep in the endeavor to find some explanation which
would cover all these facts.

It was seven o'clock when I awoke, and I set off at
once for Phelps's room, to find him haggard and spent
after a sleepless night. His first question was
whether Holmes had arrived yet.

"He'll be here when he promised," said I, "and not an
instant sooner or later."

And my words were true, for shortly after eight a
hansom dashed up to the door and our friend got out of
it. Standing in the window we saw that his left hand
was swathed in a bandage and that his face was very
grim and pale. He entered the house, but it was some
little time before he came upstairs.

"He looks like a beaten man," cried Phelps.

I was forced to confess that he was right. "After
all," said I, "the clue of the matter lies probably
here in town."

Phelps gave a groan.

"I don't know how it is," said he, "but I had hoped
for so much from his return. But surely his hand was
not tied up like that yesterday. What can be the

"You are not wounded, Holmes?" I asked, as my friend
entered the room.

"Tut, it is only a scratch through my own clumsiness,"
he answered, nodding his good-mornings to us. "This
case of yours, Mr. Phelps, is certainly one of the
darkest which I have ever investigated."

"I feared that you would find it beyond you."

"It has been a most remarkable experience."

"That bandage tells of adventures," said I. "Won't
you tell us what has happened?"

"After breakfast, my dear Watson. Remember that I
have breathed thirty miles of Surrey air this morning.
I suppose that there has been no answer from my cabman
advertisement? Well, well, we cannot expect to score
every time."

The table was all laid, and just as I was about to
ring Mrs. Hudson entered with the tea and coffee. A
few minutes later she brought in three covers, and we
all drew up to the table, Holmes ravenous, I curious,
and Phelps in the gloomiest state of depression.

"Mrs. Hudson has risen to the occasion," said Holmes,
uncovering a dish of curried chicken. "Her cuisine is
a little limited, but she has as good an idea of
breakfast as a Scotch-woman. What have you here,

"Ham and eggs," I answered.

"Good! What are you going to take, Mr.
Phelps--curried fowl or eggs, or will you help

"Thank you. I can eat nothing," said Phelps.

"Oh, come! Try the dish before you."

"Thank you, I would really rather not."

"Well, then," said Holmes, with a mischievous twinkle,
"I suppose that you have no objection to helping me?"

Phelps raised the cover, and as he did so he uttered a
scream, and sat there staring with a face as white as
the plate upon which he looked. Across the centre of
it was lying a little cylinder of blue-gray paper. He
caught it up, devoured it with his eyes, and then
danced madly about the room, passing it to his bosom
and shrieking out in his delight. Then he fell back
into an arm-chair so limp and exhausted with his own
emotions that we had to pour brandy down his throat to
keep him from fainting.

"There! there!" said Holmes, soothing, patting him
upon the shoulder. "It was too bad to spring it on
you like this, but Watson here will tell you that I
never can resist a touch of the dramatic."

Phelps seized his hand and kissed it. "God bless
you!" he cried. "You have saved my honor."

"Well, my own was at stake, you know," said Holmes.
"I assure you it is just as hateful to me to fail in a
case as it can be to you to blunder over a

Phelps thrust away the precious document into the
innermost pocket of his coat.

"I have not the heart to interrupt your breakfast any
further, and yet I am dying to know how you got it and
where it was."

Sherlock Holmes swallowed a cup of coffee, and turned
his attention to the ham and eggs. Then he rose, lit
his pipe, and settled himself down into his chair.

"I'll tell you what I did first, and how I came to do
it afterwards," said he. "After leaving you at the
station I went for a charming walk through some
admirable Surrey scenery to a pretty little village
called Ripley, where I had my tea at an inn, and took
the precaution of filling my flask and of putting a
paper of sandwiches in my pocket. There I remained
until evening, when I set off for Woking again, and
found myself in the high-road outside Briarbrae just
after sunset.

"Well, I waited until the road was clear--it is never
a very frequented one at any time, I fancy--and then I
clambered over the fence into the grounds."

"Surely the gate was open!" ejaculated Phelps.

"Yes, but I have a peculiar taste in these matters. I
chose the place where the three fir-trees stand, and
behind their screen I got over without the least
chance of any one in the house being able to see me.
I crouched down among the bushes on the other side,
and crawled from one to the other--witness the
disreputable state of my trouser knees--until I had
reached the clump of rhododendrons just opposite to
your bedroom window. There I squatted down and
awaited developments.

"The blind was not down in your room, and I could see
Miss Harrison sitting there reading by the table. It
was quarter-past ten when she closed her book,
fastened the shutters, and retired.

"I heard her shut the door, and felt quite sure that
she had turned the key in the lock."

"The key!" ejaculated Phelps.

"Yes; I had given Miss Harrison instructions to lock
the door on the outside and take the key with her when
she went to bed. She carried out every one of my
injunctions to the letter, and certainly without her
cooperation you would not have that paper in you
coat-pocket. She departed then and the lights went
out, and I was left squatting in the

"The night was fine, but still it was a very weary
vigil. Of course it has the sort of excitement about
it that the sportsman feels when he lies beside the
water-course and waits for the big game. It was very
long, though--almost as long, Watson, as when you and
I waited in that deadly room when we looked into the
little problem of the Speckled Band. There was a
church-clock down at Woking which struck the quarters,
and I thought more than once that it had stopped. At
last however about two in the morning, I suddenly
heard the gentle sound of a bolt being pushed back and
the creaking of a key. A moment later the servant's
door was opened, and Mr. Joseph Harrison stepped out
into the moonlight."

"Joseph!" ejaculated Phelps.

"He was bare-headed, but he had a black coat thrown
over his shoulder so that he could conceal his face in
an instant if there were any alarm. He walked on
tiptoe under the shadow of the wall, and when he
reached the window he worked a long-bladed knife
through the sash and pushed back the catch. Then he
flung open the window, and putting his knife through
the crack in the shutters, he thrust the bar up and
swung them open.

"From where I lay I had a perfect view of the inside
of the room and of every one of his movements. He lit
the two candles which stood upon the mantelpiece, and
then he proceeded to turn back the corner of the
carpet in the neighborhood of the door. Presently he
stopped and picked out a square piece of board, such
as is usually left to enable plumbers to get at the
joints of the gas-pipes. This one covered, as a
matter of fact, the T joint which gives off the pipe
which supplies the kitchen underneath. Out of this
hiding-place he drew that little cylinder of paper,
pushed down the board, rearranged the carpet, blew out
the candles, and walked straight into my arms as I
stood waiting for him outside the window.

"Well, he has rather more viciousness than I gave him
credit for, has Master Joseph. He flew at me with his
knife, and I had to grasp him twice, and got a cut
over the knuckles, before I had the upper hand of him.
He looked murder out of the only eye he could see with
when we had finished, but he listened to reason and
gave up the papers. Having got them I let my man go,
but I wired full particulars to Forbes this morning.
If he is quick enough to catch is bird, well and good.
But if, as I shrewdly suspect, he finds the nest empty
before he gets there, why, all the better for the
government. I fancy that Lord Holdhurst for one, and
Mr. Percy Phelps for another, would very much rather
that the affair never got as far as a police-court.

"My God!" gasped our client. "Do you tell me that
during these long ten weeks of agony the stolen papers
were within the very room with me all the time?"

"So it was."

"And Joseph! Joseph a villain and a thief!"

"Hum! I am afraid Joseph's character is a rather
deeper and more dangerous one than one might judge
from his appearance. From what I have heard from him
this morning, I gather that he has lost heavily in
dabbling with stocks, and that he is ready to do
anything on earth to better his fortunes. Being an
absolutely selfish man, when a chance presented itself
he did not allow either his sister's happiness or your
reputation to hold his hand."

Percy Phelps sank back in his chair. "My head
whirls," said he. "Your words have dazed me."

"The principal difficulty in your case," remarked
Holmes, in his didactic fashion, "lay in the fact of
there being too much evidence. What was vital was
overlaid and hidden by what was irrelevant. Of all
the facts which were presented to us we had to pick
just those which we deemed to be essential, and then
piece them together in their order, so as to
reconstruct this very remarkable chain of events. I
had already begun to suspect Joseph, from the fact
that you had intended to travel home with him that
night, and that therefore it was a likely enough thing
that he should call for you, knowing the Foreign
Office well, upon his way. When I heard that some one
had been so anxious to get into the bedroom, in which
no one but Joseph could have concealed anything--you
told us in your narrative how you had turned Joseph
out when you arrived with the doctor--my suspicions
all changed to certainties, especially as the attempt
was made on the first night upon which the nurse was
absent, showing that the intruder was well acquainted
with the ways of the house."

"How blind I have been!"

"The facts of the case, as far as I have worked them
out, are these: this Joseph Harrison entered the
office through the Charles Street door, and knowing
his way he walked straight into your room the instant
after you left it. Finding no one there he promptly
rang the bell, and at the instant that he did so his
eyes caught the paper upon the table. A glance showed
him that chance had put in his way a State document of
immense value, and in an instant he had thrust it into
his pocket and was gone. A few minutes elapsed, as
you remember, before the sleepy commissionnaire drew
your attention to the bell, and those were just enough
to give the thief time to make his escape.

"He made his way to Woking by the first train, and
having examined his booty and assured himself that it
really was of immense value, he had concealed it in
what he thought was a very safe place, with the
intention of taking it out again in a day or two, and
carrying it to the French embassy, or wherever he
thought that a long price was to be had. Then came
your sudden return. He, without a moment's warning,
was bundled out of his room, and from that time onward
there were always at least two of you there to prevent
him from regaining his treasure. The situation to him
must have been a maddening one. But at last he
thought he saw his chance. He tried to steal in, but
was baffled by your wakefulness. You remember that
you did not take your usual draught that night."

"I remember."

"I fancy that he had taken steps to make that draught
efficacious, and that he quite relied upon your being
unconscious. Of course, I understood that he would
repeat the attempt whenever it could be done with
safety. Your leaving the room gave him the chance he
wanted. I kept Miss Harrison in it all day so that he
might not anticipate us. Then, having given him the
idea that the coast was clear, I kept guard as I have
described. I already knew that the papers were
probably in the room, but I had no desire to rip up
all the planking and skirting in search of them. I
let him take them, therefore, from the hiding-place,
and so saved myself an infinity of trouble. Is there
any other point which I can make clear?"

"Why did he try the window on the first occasion," I
asked, "when he might have entered by the door?"

"In reaching the door he would have to pass seven
bedrooms. On the other hand, he could get out on to
the lawn with ease. Anything else?"

"You do not think," asked Phelps, "that he had any
murderous intention? The knife was only meant as a

"It may be so," answered Holmes, shrugging his
shoulders. "I can only say for certain that Mr.
Joseph Harrison is a gentleman to whose mercy I should
be extremely unwilling to trust."

Adventure XI

The Final Problem

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to
write these the last words in which I shall ever
record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr.
Sherlock Holmes was distinguished. In an incoherent
and, as I deeply feel, an entirely inadequate fashion,
I have endeavored to give some account of my strange
experiences in his company from the chance which first
brought us together at the period of the "Study in
Scarlet," up to the time of his interference in the
matter of the "Naval Treaty"--and interference which
had the unquestionable effect of preventing a serious
international complication. It was my intention to
have stopped there, and to have said nothing of that
event which has created a void in my life which the
lapse of two years has done little to fill. My hand
has been forced, however, by the recent letters in
which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his
brother, and I have no choice but to lay the facts
before the public exactly as they occurred. I alone
know the absolute truth of the matter, and I am
satisfied that the time has come when on good purpose
is to be served by its suppression. As far as I know,
there have been only three accounts in the public
press: that in the Journal de Geneve on May 6th,
1891, the Reuter's despatch in the English papers on
May 7th, and finally the recent letter to which I have
alluded. Of these the first and second were extremely
condensed, while the last is, as I shall now show, an
absolute perversion of the facts. It lies with me to
tell for the first time what really took place between
Professor Moriarty and Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

It may be remembered that after my marriage, and my
subsequent start in private practice, the very
intimate relations which had existed between Holmes
and myself became to some extent modified. He still
came to me from time to time when he desired a
companion in his investigation, but these occasions
grew more and more seldom, until I find that in the
year 1890 there were only three cases of which I
retain any record. During the winter of that year and
the early spring of 1891, I saw in the papers that he
had been engaged by the French government upon a
matter of supreme importance, and I received two notes
from Holmes, dated from Narbonne and from Nimes, from
which I gathered that his stay in France was likely to
be a long one. It was with some surprise, therefore,
that I saw him walk into my consulting-room upon the
evening of April 24th. It struck me that he was
looking even paler and thinner than usual.

"Yes, I have been using myself up rather too freely,"
he remarked, in answer to my look rather than to my
words; "I have been a little pressed of late. Have
you any objection to my closing your shutters?"

The only light in the room came from the lamp upon the
table at which I had been reading. Holmes edged his
way round the wall and flinging the shutters together,
he bolted them securely.

"You are afraid of something?" I asked.

"Well, I am."

"Of what?"

"Of air-guns."

"My dear Holmes, what do you mean?"

"I think that you know me well enough, Watson, to
understand that I am by no means a nervous man. At
the same time, it is stupidity rather than courage to
refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.
Might I trouble you for a match?" He drew in the
smoke of his cigarette as if the soothing influence
was grateful to him.

"I must apologize for calling so late," said he, "and
I must further beg you to be so unconventional as to
allow me to leave your house presently by scrambling
over your back garden wall."

"But what does it all mean?" I asked.

He held out his hand, and I saw in the light of the
lamp that two of his knuckles were burst and bleeding.

"It is not an airy nothing, you see," said he,
smiling. "On the contrary, it is solid enough for a
man to break his hand over. Is Mrs. Watson in?"

"She is away upon a visit."

"Indeed! You are alone?"


"Then it makes it the easier for me to propose that
you should come away with me for a week to the


"Oh, anywhere. It's all the same to me."

There was something very strange in all this. It was
not Holmes's nature to take an aimless holiday, and
something about his pale, worn face told me that his
nerves were at their highest tension. He saw the
question in my eyes, and, putting his finger-tips
together and his elbows upon his knees, he explained
the situation.

"You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?"
said he.


"Aye, there's the genius and the wonder of the thing!"
he cried. "The man pervades London, and no one has
heard of him. That's what puts him on a pinnacle in
the records of crime. I tell you, Watson, in all
seriousness, that if I could beat that man, if I could
free society of him, I should feel that my own career
had reached its summit, and I should be prepared to
turn to some more placid line in life. Between
ourselves, the recent cases in which I have been of
assistance to the royal family of Scandinavia, and to
the French republic, have left me in such a position
that I could continue to live in the quiet fashion
which is most congenial to me, and to concentrate my
attention upon my chemical researches. But I could
not rest, Watson, I could not sit quiet in my chair,
if I thought that such a man as Professor Moriarty
were walking the streets of London unchallenged."

"What has he done, then?"

"His career has been an extraordinary one. He is a
man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by
nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the
age of twenty-one he wrote a treatise upon the
Binomial Theorem, which has had a European vogue. On
the strength of it he won the Mathematical Chair at
one of our smaller universities, and had, to all
appearance, a most brilliant career before him. But
the man had hereditary tendencies of the most
diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood,
which, instead of being modified, was increased and
rendered infinitely more dangerous by his
extraordinary mental powers. Dark rumors gathered
round him in the university town, and eventually he
was compelled to resign his chair and to come down to
London, where he set up as an army coach. So much is
known to the world, but what I am telling you now is
what I have myself discovered.

"As you are aware, Watson, there is no one who knows
the higher criminal world of London so well as I do.
For years past I have continually been conscious of
some power behind the malefactor, some deep organizing
power which forever stands in the way of the law, and
throws its shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again
in cases of the most varying sorts--forgery cases,
robberies, murders--I have felt the presence of this
force, and I have deduced its action in many of those
undiscovered crimes in which I have not been
personally consulted. For years I have endeavored to
break through the veil which shrouded it, and at last
the time came when I seized my thread and followed it,
until it led me, after a thousand cunning windings, to
ex-Professor Moriarty of mathematical celebrity.

He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the
organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that
is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a
philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of
the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in
the center of its web, but that web has a thousand
radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of
them. He does little himself. He only plans. But
his agents are numerous and splendidly organized. Is
there a crime to be done, a paper to be abstracted, we
will say, a house to be rifled, a man to be
removed--the word is passed to the Professor, the
matter is organized and carried out. The agent may be
caught. In that case money is found for his bail or
his defence. But the central power which uses the
agent is never caught--never so much as suspected.
This was the organization which I deduced, Watson, and
which I devoted my whole energy to exposing and
breaking up.

"But the Professor was fenced round with safeguards so
cunningly devised that, do what I would, it seemed
impossible to get evidence which would convict in a
court of law. You know my powers, my dear Watson, and
yet at the end of three months I was forced to confess
that I had at last met an antagonist who was my
intellectual equal. My horror at his crimes was lost
in my admiration at his skill. But at last he made a
trip--only a little, little trip--but it was more than
he could afford when I was so close upon him. I had
my chance, and, starting from that point, I have woven
my net round him until now it is all ready to close.
In three days--that is to say, on Monday next--matters
will be ripe, and the Professor, with all the
principal members of his gang, will be in the hands of
the police. Then will come the greatest criminal
trial of the century, the clearing up of over forty
mysteries, and the rope for all of them; but if we
move at all prematurely, you understand, they may slip
out of our hands even at the last moment.

"Now, if I could have done this without the knowledge
of Professor Moriarty, all would have been well. But
he was too wily for that. He saw every step which I
took to draw my toils round him. Again and again he
strove to break away, but I as often headed him off.
I tell you, my friend, that if a detailed account of
that silent contest could be written, it would take
its place as the most brilliant bit of
thrust-and-parry work in the history of detection.
Never have I risen to such a height, and never have I
been so hard pressed by an opponent. He cut deep, and
yet I just undercut him. This morning the last steps
were taken, and three days only were wanted to
complete the business. I was sitting in my room
thinking the matter over, when the door opened and
Professor Moriarty stood before me.

"My nerves are fairly proof, Watson, but I must
confess to a start when I saw the very man who had
been so much in my thoughts standing there on my
threshhold. His appearance was quite familiar to me.
He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out
in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken
in this head. He is clean-shaven, pale, and
ascetic-looking, retaining something of the professor
in his features. His shoulders are rounded from much
study, and his face protrudes forward, and is forever
slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously
reptilian fashion. He peered at me with great
curiosity in his puckered eyes.

"'You have less frontal development that I should have
expected,' said he, at last. 'It is a dangerous habit
to finger loaded firearms in the pocket of one's

"The fact is that upon his entrance I had instantly
recognized the extreme personal danger in which I lay.
The only conceivable escape for him lay in silencing
my tongue. In an instant I had slipped the revolved
from the drawer into my pocket, and was covering him
through the cloth. At his remark I drew the weapon
out and laid it cocked upon the table. He still
smiled and blinked, but there was something about his
eyes which made me feel very glad that I had it there.

"'You evidently don't now me,' said he.

"'On the contrary,' I answered, 'I think it is fairly
evident that I do. Pray take a chair. I can spare
you five minutes if you have anything to say.'

"'All that I have to say has already crossed your
mind,' said he.

"'Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,' I

"'You stand fast?'


"He clapped his hand into his pocket, and I raised the
pistol from the table. But he merely drew out a
memorandum-book in which he had scribbled some dates.

"'You crossed my patch on the 4th of January,' said
he. 'On the 23d you incommoded me; by the middle of
February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the
end of March I was absolutely hampered in my plans;
and now, at the close of April, I find myself placed
in such a position through your continual persecution
that I am in positive danger of losing my liberty.
The situation is becoming an impossible one.'

"'Have you any suggestion to make?' I asked.

"'You must drop it, Mr. Holmes,' said he, swaying his
face about. 'You really must, you know.'

"'After Monday,' said I.

"'Tut, tut,' said he. 'I am quite sure that a man of
your intelligence will see that there can be but one
outcome to this affair. It is necessary that you
should withdraw. You have worked things in such a
fashion that we have only one resource left. It has been
an intellectual treat to me to see the way in which
you have grappled with this affair, and I say,
unaffectedly, that it would be a grief to me to be
forced to take any extreme measure. You smile, sir,
abut I assure you that it really would.'

"'Danger is part of my trade,' I remarked.

"'That is not danger,' said he. 'It is inevitable
destruction. You stand in the way not merely of an
individual, but of a mighty organization, the full
extent of which you, with all your cleverness, have
been unable to realize. You must stand clear, Mr.
Holmes, or be trodden under foot.'

"'I am afraid,' said I, rising, 'that in the pleasure
of this conversation I am neglecting business of
importance which awaits me elsewhere.'

"He rose also and looked at me in silence, shaking his
head sadly.

"'Well, well,' said he, at last. 'It seems a pity,
but I have done what I could. I know every move of
your game. You can do nothing before Monday. It has
been a duel between you and me, Mr. Holmes. You hope
to place me in the dock. I tell you that I will never
stand in the dock. You hope to beat me. I tell you
that you will never beat me. If you are clever enough
to bring destruction upon me, rest assured that I
shall do as much to you.'

"'You have paid me several compliments, Mr. Moriarty,'
said I. 'Let me pay you one in return when I say that
if I were assured of the former eventuality I would,
in the interests of the public, cheerfully accept the

"'I can promise you the one, but not the other,' he
snarled, and so turned his rounded back upon me, and
went peering and blinking out of the room.

"That was my singular interview with Professor
Moriarty. I confess that it left an unpleasant effect
upon my mind. His soft, precise fashion of speech
leaves a conviction of sincerity which a mere bully
could not produce. Of course, you will say: 'Why not
take police precautions against him?' the reason is
that I am well convinced that it is from his agents
the blow will fall. I have the best proofs that it
would be so."

"You have already been assaulted?"

"My dear Watson, Professor Moriarty is not a man who
lets the grass grow under his feet. I went out about
mid-day to transact some business in Oxford Street.
As I passed the corner which leads from Bentinck
Street on to the Welbeck Street crossing a two-horse
van furiously driven whizzed round and was on me like
a flash. I sprang for the foot-path and saved myself
by the fraction of a second. The van dashed round by
Marylebone Lane and was gone in an instant. I kept to
the pavement after that, Watson, but as I walked down
Vere Street a brick came down from the roof of one of
the houses, and was shattered to fragments at my feet.
I called the police and had the place examined. There
were slates and bricks piled up on the roof
preparatory to some repairs, and they would have me
believe that the wind had toppled over one of these.
Of course I knew better, but I could prove nothing. I
took a cab after that and reached my brother's rooms
in Pall Mall, where I spent the day. Now I have come
round to you, and on my way I was attacked by a rough
with a bludgeon. I knocked him down, and the police
have him in custody; but I can tell you with the most
absolute confidence that no possible connection will
ever be traced between the gentleman upon whose front
teeth I have barked my knuckles and the retiring
mathematical coach, who is, I dare say, working out
problems upon a black-board ten miles away. You will
not wonder, Watson, that my first act on entering your
rooms was to close your shutters, and that I have been
compelled to ask your permission to leave the house by
some less conspicuous exit than the front door."

I had often admired my friend's courage, but never
more than now, as he sat quietly checking off a series
of incidents which must have combined to make up a day
of horror.

"You will spend the night here?" I said.

"No, my friend, you might find me a dangerous guest.
I have my plans laid, and all will be well. Matters
have gone so far now that they can move without my
help as far as the arrest goes, though my presence is
necessary for a conviction. It is obvious, therefore,
that I cannot do better than get away for the few days
which remain before the police are at liberty to act.
It would be a great pleasure to me, therefore, if you
could come on to the Continent with me."

"The practice is quiet," said I, "and I have an
accommodating neighbor. I should be glad to come."

"And to start to-morrow morning?"

"If necessary."

"Oh yes, it is most necessary. Then these are your
instructions, and I beg, my dear Watson, that you will
obey them to the letter, for you are now playing a
double-handed game with me against the cleverest rogue
and the most powerful syndicate of criminals in
Europe. Now listen! You will dispatch whatever
luggage you intend to take by a trusty messenger
unaddressed to Victoria to-night. In the morning you
will send for a hansom, desiring your man to take
neither the first nor the second which may present
itself. Into this hansom you will jump, and you will
drive to the Strand end of the Lowther Arcade,
handling the address to the cabman upon a slip of
paper, with a request that he will not throw it away.
Have your fare ready, and the instant that your cab
stops, dash through the Arcade, timing yourself to
reach the other side at a quarter-past nine. You will
find a small brougham waiting close to the curb,
driven by a fellow with a heavy black cloak tipped at
the collar with red. Into this you will step, and you
will reach Victoria in time for the Continental

"Where shall I meet you?"

"At the station. The second first-class carriage from
the front will be reserved for us."

"The carriage is our rendezvous, then?"


It was in vain that I asked Holmes to remain for the
evening. It was evident to me that he though he might
bring trouble to the roof he was under, and that that
was the motive which impelled him to go. With a few
hurried words as to our plans for the morrow he rose
and came out with me into the garden, clambering over
the wall which leads into Mortimer Street, and
immediately whistling for a hansom, in which I heard
him drive away.

In the morning I obeyed Holmes's injunctions to the
letter. A hansom was procured with such precaution as
would prevent its being one which was placed ready for
us, and I drove immediately after breakfast to the
Lowther Arcade, through which I hurried at the top of
my speed. A brougham was waiting with a very massive
driver wrapped in a dark cloak, who, the instant that
I had stepped in, whipped up the horse and rattled off
to Victoria Station. On my alighting there he turned
the carriage, and dashed away again without so much as
a look in my direction.

So far all had gone admirably. My luggage was waiting
for me, and I had no difficulty in finding the
carriage which Holmes had indicated, the less so as it
was the only one in the train which was marked
"Engaged." My only source of anxiety now was the
non-appearance of Holmes. The station clock marked
only seven minutes from the time when we were due to
start. In vain I searched among the groups of
travellers and leave-takers for the little figure of
my friend. There was no sign of him. I spent a few
minutes in assisting a venerable Italian priest, who
was endeavoring to make a porter understand, in his
broken English, that his luggage was to be booked
through to Paris. Then, having taken another look
round, I returned to my carriage, where I found that
the porter, in spite of the ticket, had given me my
decrepit Italian friend as a traveling companion. It
was useless for me to explain to him that his presence
was an intrusion, for my Italian was even more limited
than his English, so I shrugged my shoulders
resignedly, and continued to look out anxiously for my
friend. A chill of fear had come over me, as I
thought that his absence might mean that some blow had
fallen during the night. Already the doors had all
been shut and the whistle blown, when--

"My dear Watson," said a voice, "you have not even
condescended to say good-morning."

I turned in uncontrollable astonishment. The aged
ecclesiastic had turned his face towards me. For an
instant the wrinkles were smoothed away, the nose drew
away from the chin, the lower lip ceased to protrude
and the mouth to mumble, the dull eyes regained their
fire, the drooping figure expanded. The next the
whole frame collapsed again, and Holmes had gone as
quickly as he had come.

"Good heavens!" I cried; "how you startled me!"

"Every precaution is still necessary," he whispered.
"I have reason to think that they are hot upon our
trail. Ah, there is Moriarty himself."

The train had already begun to move as Holmes spoke.
Glancing back, I saw a tall man pushing his way
furiously through the crowd, and waving his hand as if
he desired to have the train stopped. It was too
late, however, for we were rapidly gathering momentum,
and an instant later had shot clear of the station.

"With all our precautions, you see that we have cut it
rather fine," said Holmes, laughing. He rose, and
throwing off the black cassock and hat which had
formed his disguise, he packed them away in a

"Have you seen the morning paper, Watson?"


"You haven't' seen about Baker Street, then?"

"Baker Street?"

"They set fire to our rooms last night. No great harm
was done."

"Good heavens, Holmes! this is intolerable."

"They must have lost my track completely after their
bludgeon-man was arrested. Otherwise they could not
have imagined that I had returned to my rooms. They
have evidently taken the precaution of watching you,
however, and that is what has brought Moriarty to
Victoria. You could not have made any slip in

"I did exactly what you advised."

"Did you find your brougham?"

"Yes, it was waiting."

"Did you recognize your coachman?"


"It was my brother Mycroft. It is an advantage to get
about in such a case without taking a mercenary into
your confidence. But we must plan what we are to do
about Moriarty now."

"As this is an express, and as the boat runs in
connection with it, I should think we have shaken him
off very effectively."

"My dear Watson, you evidently did not realize my
meaning when I said that this man may be taken as
being quite on the same intellectual plane as myself.
You do not imagine that if I were the pursuer I should
allow myself to be baffled by so slight an obstacle.
Why, then, should you think so meanly of him?"

"What will he do?"

"What I should do?"

"What would you do, then?"

"Engage a special."

"But it must be late."

"By no means. This train stops at Canterbury; and
there is always at least a quarter of an hour's delay
at the boat. He will catch us there."

"One would think that we were the criminals. Let us
have him arrested on his arrival."

"It would be to ruin the work of three months. We
should get the big fish, but the smaller would dart
right and left out of the net. On Monday we should
have them all. No, an arrest is inadmissible."

"What then?"

"We shall get out at Canterbury."

"And then?"

"Well, then we must make a cross-country journey to
Newhaven, and so over to Dieppe. Moriarty will again
do what I should do. He will get on to Paris, mark
down our luggage, and wait for two days at the depot.
In the meantime we shall treat ourselves to a couple
of carpet-bags, encourage the manufactures of the
countries through which we travel, and make our way at
our leisure into Switzerland, via Luxembourg and

At Canterbury, therefore, we alighted, only to find
that we should have to wait an hour before we could
get a train to Newhaven.

I was still looking rather ruefully after the rapidly
disappearing luggage-van which contained my wardrobe,
when Holmes pulled my sleeve and pointed up the line.

"Already, you see," said he.

Far away, from among the Kentish woods there rose a
thin spray of smoke. A minute later a carriage and
engine could be seen flying along the open curve which
leads to the station. We had hardly time to take our
place behind a pile of luggage when it passed with a
rattle and a roar, beating a blast of hot air into our

"There he goes," said Holmes, as we watched the
carriage swing and rock over the point. "There are
limits, you see, to our friend's intelligence. It
would have been a coup-de-maitre had he deduced what I
would deduce and acted accordingly."

"And what would he have done had he overtaken us?"

"There cannot be the least doubt that he would have
made a murderous attack upon me. It is, however, a
game at which two may play. The question, now is
whether we should take a premature lunch here, or run
our chance of starving before we reach the buffet at

We made our way to Brussels that night and spent two
days there, moving on upon the third day as far as
Strasburg. On the Monday morning Holmes had
telegraphed to the London police, and in the evening
we found a reply waiting for us at our hotel. Holmes
tore it open, and then with a bitter curse hurled it
into the grate.

"I might have known it!" he groaned. "He has


"They have secured the whole gang with the exception
of him. He has given them the slip. Of course, when
I had left the country there was no one to cope with
him. But I did think that I had put the game in their
hands. I think that you had better return to England,


"Because you will find me a dangerous companion now.
This man's occupation is gone. He is lost if he
returns to London. If I read his character right he
will devote his whole energies to revenging himself
upon me. He said as much in our short interview, and
I fancy that he meant it. I should certainly
recommend you to return to your practice."

It was hardly an appeal to be successful with one who
was an old campaigner as well as an old friend. We
sat in the Strasburg salle-amanger arguing the
question for half an hour, but the same night we had
resumed our journey and were well on our way to

For a charming week we wandered up the Valley of the
Rhone, and then, branching off at Leuk, we made our
way over the Gemmi Pass, still deep in snow, and so,
by way of Interlaken, to Meiringen. It was a lovely
trip, the dainty green of the spring below, the virgin
white of the winter above; but it was clear to me that
never for one instant did Holmes forget the shadow
which lay across him. In the homely Alpine villages
or in the lonely mountain passes, I could tell by his
quick glancing eyes and his sharp scrutiny of every
face that passed us, that he was well convinced that,
walk where we would, we could not walk ourselves clear
of the danger which was dogging our footsteps.

Once, I remember, as we passed over the Gemmi, and
walked along the border of the melancholy Daubensee, a
large rock which had been dislodged from the ridge
upon our right clattered down and roared into the lake
behind us. In an instant Holmes had raced up on to
the ridge, and, standing upon a lofty pinnacle, craned
his neck in every direction. It was in vain that our
guide assured him that a fall of stones was a common
chance in the spring-time at that spot. He said
nothing, but he smiled at me with the air of a man who
sees the fulfillment of that which he had expected.

And yet for all his watchfulness he was never
depressed. On the contrary, I can never recollect
having seen him in such exuberant spirits. Again and
again he recurred to the fact that if he could be
assured that society was freed from Professor Moriarty
he would cheerfully bring his own career to a

"I think that I may go so far as to say, Watson, that
I have not lived wholly in vain," he remarked. "If my
record were closed to-night I could still survey it
with equanimity. The air of London is the sweeter for
my presence. In over a thousand cases I am not aware
that I have ever used my powers upon the wrong side.
Of late I have been tempted to look into the problems
furnished by nature rather than those more superficial
ones for which our artificial state of society is
responsible. Your memoirs will draw to an end,
Watson, upon the day that I crown my career by the
capture or extinction of the most dangerous and
capable criminal in Europe."

I shall be brief, and yet exact, in the little which
remains for me to tell. It is not a subject on which
I would willingly dwell, and yet I am conscious that a
duty devolves upon me to omit no detail.

It was on the 3d of May that we reached the little
village of Meiringen, where we put up at the
Englischer Hof, then kept by Peter Steiler the elder.
Our landlord was an intelligent man, and spoke
excellent English, having served for three years as
waiter at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. At his
advice, on the afternoon of the 4th we set off
together, with the intention of crossing the hills and
spending the night at the hamlet of Rosenlaui. We had
strict injunctions, however, on no account to pass the
falls of Reichenbach, which are about half-way up the
hill, without making a small detour to see them.

It is indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen
by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss,
from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a
burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls
itself is a immense chasm, lined by glistening
coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming,
boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over
and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The
long sweep of green water roaring forever down, and
the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing forever
upward, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and
clamor. We stood near the edge peering down at the
gleam of the breaking water far below us against the
black rocks, and listening to the half-human shout
which came booming up with the spray out of the abyss.

The path has been cut half-way round the fall to
afford a complete view, but it ends abruptly, and the

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